Malaysians accused their government of copying an Israeli tourism slogan, three years after accusing their government of copying an Israeli political slogan.
The new furor began after local bloggers noticed that ”Malaysia, endless possibilities” bears an uncanny resemblance to an Israeli drive promoting conferencing in Israel that runs under the banner “Israel, endless possibilities.”
On Friday, Kuala Lumpur, which is proudly anti-Zionist, issued a statement denying that it had copied Israel and saying that it had actually launched its tourism slogan first.
“Malaysia’s ‘Endless Possibilities’ nation branding concept was publicly launched in January 2013 at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland,” the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office wrote in an email Friday to The Malay Mail Online. “The Tourism Ministry of Israel started using ‘Endless Possibilities‘ to promote their conference and incentive market four months later, in May 2013.”
The formulation is actually not that unique. In 2012, Mongolia also chose “Endless Possibilities” as the best way to market its country, beating both Israel and Malaysia to the punch.
The Malaysian tourism campaign is scheduled to be officially launched in September, to coincide with celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the country’s formation.
For the Malaysian government, which is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, the suggestion that it borrowed an idea from the Jewish State is embarrassing. More embarrassing, it follows an almost identical scandal three years ago, after a Malaysian tourism slogan appeared to copy an Israeli political campaign.
The “1Malaysia” slogan was launched in 2009, sparking concerns that it was too close to the “One Israel” coalition of Israeli political parties formed under Ehud Barak in 1999.
During a heated debate in the Malaysian parliament at the time, the opposition claimed that the same public relations company had advised the government and Barak on the choice of phrase.