Don’t Mess with Melaka

Don’t Mess with Melaka

Words by Lynn Zubir

How not to envy this latest Melaka’s swagger! Lynn Zubir shares her contrarian view.

This tourism slogan – “Don’t Mess With Melaka” – was at first sight appealing for apparently the wrong reason.

It certainly draws quick attention to Melaka with the allure of an amazing tourist destination yet on the fl ip side it gives caution to visitors that they are better off watching their back.

The slogan has since its launch had its fair share of controversy from those who exude with congratulatory messages to unpleasant remarks, as I know it.

Those that passed unsavoury remarks asked a pertinent question why was there a need to copy a similar slogan used in Texas in the United States that was three decades old.

Norena Jaafar, the General Manager of Melaka Tourism Promotion Board, whom I spoke to, said the Melaka government was aware that it adopted the same slogan used by Texas, United States and did it for good reasons.

It was a new battle cry to show that the state government was serious in ensuring cleanliness.

“Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign started in 1986 was a concerted bid against littering, crime and social ills. Texas had resorted to harsher approach after years of gentle campaigning and not getting the desired results.

This said, it seems to me, critics showed a lack of understanding and failed to grasp the connection between littering, crime and social ills with cleanliness that promotes tourism.

When the slogan was launched by Melaka in 2014, it was a strong message to both the local people and visitors on the need to keep clean after reports showed that cleanliness levels had deteriorated.

As it also appeared to warn others against committing crime or malice against the people of Melaka, there were criticisms that it somewhat condones and promotes thuggish conduct or gangsterism.

The State government defended the use of the slogan, saying that it was a way to grab the attention of youths through creative and aggressive marketing. A smart move and thinking, I must say.

Road signage like billboards with the slogan “Don’t Mess with Melaka” was displayed along major roads, and in print advertisements and on display on T-shirts.

Yet, two years into the usage of the slogan, certain quarters are still laughing at Melaka for copying a three-decade old Texas slogan.

I take the stand that the adoption of the slogan is more than justified with the added hype it generated and also because there is no need to reinvent the wheel when it has been proven to be effective.

Despite the criticisms, the ‘Don’t Mess With Melaka’ campaign has gained acceptance as people are beginning to see the real picture.

Though the slogan was not originally intended to become a statewide cultural icon, eventually it did. Today, Melaka can proudly say it has become the most visited historical city in the country.

The slogan has become “an identity statement, a declaration of Melaka’s swagger”.

The campaign’s logo, based on the Melaka flag’s colours of red, blue, white and yellow is synonymous with Melaka’s image as a state that emphasizes on cleanliness among its people.

I love Melaka. To our critics, I would say, don’t mess with me!