Malaysia honours King Khan

KUALA LUMPUR: India’s top Bollywood star has been given Malaysia’s equivalent of a knighthood in a move criticised by opposition lawmakers and the public.

Shah Rukh Khan has been conferred with the governor’s award for promoting Malacca state after filming a movie there and for his contribution to the region’s film industry, state officials said in weekend news reports. The 42-year old heart-throb is among 78 people to get the award in conjunction with the governor’s 70th birthday, alongside the country’s navy chief, academics, artists and journalists. “He is a well-loved, well-liked celebrity in Malaysia and he has helped develop the huge, income-earning Bollywood movie industry here,” said Mahadzir Lokman, whose events management firm works closely with Indian movie stars here. “He has also starred in many top Hindi movies filmed on location in Malaysia, which has helped promote the country as a tourist destination,” he told AFP. “This is one of the main reasons he was conferred this honour,” he added.

His 2001 movie, One 2 Ka 4 was filmed at a popular resort in Malacca. “This resulted in many people visiting Malacca. The award was given in recognition of this,” said Malacca chief minister Mohamad Ali Rustam, according to the Star daily. But opposition parliamentarian Lim Kit Siang slammed the move, saying he was “astounded” that the governor would choose to honour the Indian actor, who is now entitled to be referred to by the title Datuk.

“Are there no Malaysian film stars, artists or sports-people who have greater (talent) to be honoured and encouraged as compared to Shah Rukh?” Lim said in a statement. “I don’t think the reason that has been given for making Shah Rukh Khan a Malacca Datuk would impress or convince many that the Bollywood actor-dancer had ‘contributed to our tourism industry’,” he said.