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Japanese student wins judges' hearts at Int'l Bahasa Melayu Public Speaking Competition

PUTRAJAYA: She fell in love with Malaysia after her visit to this country two years ago.
Japanese Lisa Shimazaki said she wanted to know everything about Southeast Asia and learn more about the countries in the region, leading to her decision to study Bahasa Melayu.
"I want to learn everything about Malaysia such as its culture and language - Bahasa Melayu, which has inspired me to do so," she told reporters after she won first place for the International category at the Prime Minister’s Cup International Bahasa Melayu Public Speaking Competition (PABM) 2017.
The 21-year-old Tokyo University Foreign Language student said she has been learning Bahasa Melayu for the past three years.
Shimazaki said she could converse in several languages - Japanese, English, Bahasa Melayu and a smattering of Spanish.
"It is easy to learn Bahasa Melayu, but at times I forget some of the words," she said, laughing.
Shimazaki won the hearts of the jury with her speech titled 'Bahasa Bukan Sekadar Alat Komunikasi, Bahasa Adalah Segala-galanya (Language is not just a communication tool, language is everything).
International Islamic University of Malaysia student Abdul Matin Mohamed Azeem from Afghanistan secured top spot for the Foreign Students Studying in Malaysia category, while Malaysian Noor Haqim Noor Hamiddon won first place for the Malay World category.
All three winners each walked away with RM20,000 cash prize, a challenge trophy and a certificate.
The prizes were presented by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, today.
Abdul Matin and Noor Haqim delivered their speech titled 'Dirgahayu Bahasa Melayu' and 'Pesan Seniman', respectively.
Abdul Matin, who has lived in Malaysia since he was seven, said Bahasa Melayu is a unique language and should be preserved.
"Not only am I used to Bahasa Melayu, the Malaysian culture has also become part of my life.
"I attended a local school from when I was seven years old and from there, I practiced Bahasa Melayu with my friends," said the 24-year-old.
A total of 52 contestants from Australia, Azerbaijan, China, Fiji, India, Egypt, Nigeria, Palestine, France and South Korea, among others, took part in this year's PABM.
The participants will later take part in a homestay programme in Kampung Lonek, Negri Sembilan to learn the local lifestyle and culture.

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