Commentary Local

Visit Malaysia, we’re more than just hornbill, hibiscus and ferns

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

A commentary by Zaidi Azmi

July 23, 2019

KUDOS to the government for unveiling a prettier Visit Malaysia 2020 logo, but frankly the proverbial logo-making bar for the country’s flagship tourism campaign has been set pretty low.

It was so in the sense that almost any design would have looked better than the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration’s motley mix-up of sunglasses-wearing turtle and orangutans clip arts.

And while the new logo does not resemble that of a primary school-level ‘pendidikan seni’ homework, it was most certainly not breathtaking but make no mistake, it was definitely better than BN’s.

A graphic artist, Tara Nisha wrote on Facebook that the new logo was just “basic.”

“Which part of the logo shows the Malaysia’s diversity or the culture? At least the previous logo had some balance even though the design was so bad,” she criticised.

Tara’s disapproving view of the logo however, was not without merit.

At a glance, the hornbill, hibiscus and fern do not do justice in portraying the multicultural essence of Malaysia. It looked more like a Visit Sarawak logo to be precise as everyone knows that the bird is synonymous with that state.

The jury who judged the entries of the Visit Malaysia 2020 logo competition should have at least selected a logo that incorporated quintessential elements which Malaysia is popularly known for, such as our Petronas Twin Towers.

And since the towers’ designer, César Pelli has recently died, doing so could have also doubled as a nice tribute to the architect who helped create Malaysia’s most iconic tourist attraction.

However, the lack of Malaysia’s identity was not the only flaw of the new logo.

Its designer, Alfred Phua Hong Fook, has been accused of plagiarism as the hornbill graphic he designed bore an uncanny resemblance to that of a hornbill graphic vector sold online.

Whether the new Visit Malaysia 2020 logo has the appeal to woo foreigners to visit Malaysia is as good as anybody’s guess, even more so given how the country is poised to be the first Asean country to charge passengers leaving its airports.

Even Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi wants the departure levy – an initiative by the Ministry of Finance-  to be delayed as he admitted that it will affect tourist arrivals.

So basically, tourists will – once the levy comes into effect this September 1 – now have to fork out more money on top of the RM73 passenger service charge that they have already been paying to come to Malaysia.

Sheesh. Against such a backdrop, now who would want to visit Malaysia?

But to those who still want to, know that the country is more than just hornbills, hibiscuses and…ferns.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at