However long I live this must always be one of the most wonderful days of my life. I feel blessed indeed that I have been entrusted with this once in a lifetime opportunity to stand up here in front of you.
Let me share with you my thoughts as I look back fondly and with a feeling of great nostalgia -let me dredge out some golden memories and reminisce a little as to what it was like in the 80's when this all started.
God gave this island to the world and allowed me to see it before man could exploit it in any way. I think all will agree that this is a truly beautiful island and I felt that God meant that it should be preserved in its pristine state as much as possible so as to enable caring people to enjoy it, in the fullest sense.
At that time in the early 1980’s Malaysia was approaching deep recession, and frankly most of my friends thought that I was crazy. One man however did not think I was crazy – despite the downturn he encouraged me to go ahead, because he had faith that the idea was right and would be good for Malaysia – I speak of course of our Prime Minister.
So with this inspiration we launched the project in 1985, with the country by this time in mid-recession, and we made progress so that at least some of my friends thought that I was not so crazy after all! All this time the Prime Minister made repeated visits when he could spare the time.
In those dark days he came up with idea after idea – the concept – making this resort very special and small enough to avoid spoiling the natural beauty – not unnecessarily cutting down any trees – making buildings blend into the backcloth.
In 1987 came the first International Yacht Race, between Phuket and Pangkor Laut, for the Pansea Cup. In one stroke the Prime Minister cleared the myth that these waters were full of pirates, and demonstrated that they were not only popular with sailing people but were safe for fishermen and for other commercial usage.
When we moved into the second phase, which is Coral Bay, it was again the Prime Minister who came up with the wonderful idea of building on water, as in a typical Malaysian village or kampong. We repeated the same theme when we came to the upgrading of the original resort here in Royal Bay.
Thank you Sir for your ideas, for your indomitable spirit, for your encouragement and inspiration and as always for being right. In turn I hope that this resort is proof that the Government's ideas are not as outlandish as some people think they are -from all the ideas brought together on this island you can see that they are not outlandish - instead beauty has been both preserved and lovingly recreated -all of this inspired me so much that even the idea of asking Luciano Pavarotti to come to this island did not seem outlandish.
I believe that the dominant aspect of this entire project has been and remains the constant seeking after excellence – excellence and real quality in everything that we do and lay our hands upon. With too many products and services in life, quality and good taste have often been sacrificed to mere size and the visible manifestation of proclaimed wealth, without real depth of meaning or joy of creation. Here we have God's canvas, 2 million years old -it is God's work that is so wonderful -and in pandering to the creature comforts of human beings we have but contributed a little embroidery to his beautiful canvas.
The theme of real quality in depth is personified by the two men amongst us here who are dominant and who stand above us all. We have here two legends, one our Prime Minister listening to another, Luciano Pavarotti. Both legends have I think been transported by the conveyor-belt of history by their performance and by the great contributions they have already made to this world, one to his country and one to music – they have transcended mortality – they are great men already and will be recognized as among the great men of this country.
Mr Prime Minister Sir, for all your ideas, for your leadership in bringing us here today, I dedicate this concert to you.
And of course to all our distinguished guests from across the world and from Malaysia I say ‘Welcome’ and ‘Thank you’ for honouring us here. I feel very proud to be here with so many friends gathered around for what I have no doubt will be a most memorable moment. I do hope you will al enjoy it.
I know that God has blessed this occasion and therefore I thank God from the depth of my heart. I also thank you, Sir for gracing this occasion and you, Mr Pavarotti for making it possible.
Thank you and may God bless you.
Speech by Dato' Francis Yeoh, Before Curtain Rises at Pavarotti concert on 24 March 1994
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