Malaysia feels like my second home: Indonesian pop diva Krisdayanti

Melanie Chalil
The 44-year-old was in Kuala Lumpur on December 14 to perform at Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF)-Berjaya Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award Gala Dinner. — Pix by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 – Indonesian singer Krisdayanti looks every inch the pop diva as she strode into the interview session at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur.

All glammed up in a glittery gold creation by Jakarta-based fashion designer Anaz, the 44-year-old was in town over the weekend for a special performance at the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF)-Berjaya Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award Gala Dinner 2019.

The singer-turned-politician says one of her key focus is providing quality healthcare to Indonesians.

“I feel proud that tonight I’m performing and singing for a noble cause,” she said.

Asked if she was tired from her hectic schedule, she smiled and replied in Bahasa Indonesia “sudah biasa” (I’m used to it).

Like many who have visited Malaysia, Krisdayanti looks forward to the culinary delights the city has to offer. And shopping.

“My husband came along for this trip and he was so excited to go shopping in KLCC because I told him my performance is at the Mandarin Oriental which is just next door,” she said excitedly.

“I’ve always considered Malaysia home because it has been a huge part of my music career since 1998 before many Indonesian artistes were known here,” said Krisdayanti, whose last concert in KL was at Istana Budaya in 2017.

She remembers her first time in KL fondly back in 1998 when she spent an entire month promoting her music under Warner Music and met Malaysian music darlings Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza, Ning Baizura and Datuk Sheila Majid.

Her beloved hit Menghitung Hari which made her a household name in Malaysia also went platinum during that trip.

“Everybody was so welcoming to accept me, not only as a foreigner singing, but they also wanted to collaborate,” she said.

On having an iconic hit like Menghitung Hari, the singer said she was thankful for evergreen songs, describing them as the gift that keeps on giving.

“I never expected to still be singing that song – I have a big appreciation from the audience and that song is the same age as my eldest daughter.

“My eldest daughter Aurel is 21 years old now and I still remember bringing her to KL for a month during the promo – it’s extraordinary when you think about it,” she reminisced.

In a light-hearted moment, the singer said the best way to gauge if a song has touched the public is through taxi drivers.

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“Taxi drivers here always ask tourists from Indonesia ‘Do you know the song Mengitung Hari?’ so I feel like I’m a representative of Indonesian music in Malaysia,” she said.

From celebrated music ambassador, Krisdayanti recently became an elected representative of her hometown of Malang Raya in East Java and was sworn in as a Member of Parliament in October, marking her foray into politics.

During her extensive campaign period of seven months, Krisdayanti visited 600 areas in 461 towns and spoke of the importance of the human touch in her approach to public service.

“It was a bonus because they know me, plus I’m one of the orang kampung (villager),” said Krisdayanti who grew up in hardship.

“My husband is really supportive of my career in politics, he not only guides me but helps me with strategy work,” she said.

Her campaign theme ‘Perempuan Kuat, Indonesia Hebat’ (Strong Women, Great Indonesia), sent out the message to empower women across all fields in the villages she visited.

Krisdayanti received the highest number of votes in the electoral district of East Java, with a higher number of votes than the incumbent.

“They received me with open arms and much enthusiasm,” she said.

“It’s been work hard and play hard but the achievement was amazing.”

Under the House of Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia, the Malang Raya MP has been placed with Commission IX which deals with community issues such as healthcare, employment and transmigration affairs.

She told Malay Mail she wants to focus on providing quality healthcare for Indonesians through the country’s national health coverage, the Social Insurance Administration Organisation (BPJS).

Commenting on the AIDS epidemic, the newly-minted lawmaker said everyone has a role to play in the fight to end the disease.

“There are nearly 38 million people living with HIV and we need to have social responsibility from everyone to provide attention and comfort so they don’t feel discriminated against.

“Please don’t judge others from the outside, everyone deserves a chance to live,” Krisdayanti said.

Despite a busy career in both show business and public service, the songstress said she doesn’t yet have the time to record an album but plans are underway to record a new single in the US.

“It will be produced by my husband and hopefully we can release it early next year,” she said.

“It’s awesome that we are a happy couple who can work together.”

When it comes to juggling a busy schedule, the mother of four said she doesn’t want to put pressure on herself as a politician and as a wife and mother.

“My husband always tells me to prioritise and after 27 years in the music industry, I manage and do my best.

“I just go with the flow and remember that as a wife and mother, my priority in building a family is to ensure my kids deserve a good education, live well, have as much fun as possible and not isolate them when we adults get too busy,” said Krisdayanti.

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