Siti: Who forced Maia to wear kebaya?

Siti: Who forced Maia to wear kebaya?
Answer: No one
Fan Maia Lee gladly slips on outfit she had worn in Siti sing-a-like contest

By Eri Akbar

July 22, 2005

SINGAPORE Idol finalist Maia Lee is the self-professed No 1 non-Malay fan of Malaysian pop princess Siti Nurhaliza.

Maia, with a less traditional-looking Siti, appearing demure in her kebaya, which she had bought for about $100. — DOMINIC YING

Maia is so smitten with her idol that she even joined a Siti Nurhaliza contest two years ago, wearing a kebaya and singing one of Siti’s songs in Malay.

On Monday , she put on the all-yellow outfit again to meet Siti at a press conference at Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel.

The New Paper had arranged the meeting, knowing of Maia’s admiration for Siti.

Braving a downpour on the way to the event, Maia sent this reporter an SMS, saying: ‘I’m tripping all over the kebaya!’

The usually-sexy Maia was almost unrecognisably demure in the modest outfit, which she had bought in Geylang Serai for about $100.

Siti, on the other hand, had ditched tradition in favour of a trim pants suit.

When she was introduced to Maia, she said with a smile: ‘Oh, so pretty.’

Then, she turned to this reporter and asked in mock protest: ‘Who coerced her to wear this?’

Once they were seated on a sofa for a casual chat, Maia quickly whipped out a plaque which she got for her participation in the semi-finals of the Siti sing-a-like contest. She asked Siti to sign on it.

Siti asked: ‘You can sing in Malay?’

Maia had sung Cindai, one of Siti’s greatest hits, at the contest.

But this reporter still had to act as a translator during their 10-minute conversation.

Siti tried replying in English, but expressed herself better in Malay, while a few times, Maia interposed with ‘tak faham (don’t understand)’.


But the language barrier didn’t stop the two from chatting and sharing a laugh.

Maia, 22, as the newcomer about to release her debut album, fished for some tips from the 26-year-old Siti, whose experience in show business spans nearly a decade.

Candidly, Maia blurted out that she’s going to try swallowing egg yolks – Siti’s highly-publicised recipe – before performing at the ZPOP concert at Suntec City on Saturday .

Siti laughed and pretended to retch, warning Maia that she would feel sick if she is not used to eating raw eggs.

The Malaysian singer, who was in a relaxed mood, occasionally tapped Maia’s lap as they talked.

As for Maia, she remained composed until she learnt about the size of Siti’s wardrobe. Her jaw dropped when Siti revealed that two rooms in her Kuala Lumpur up-on-the-hill mansion had been allocated to storing her costumes.

Siti has not kept count of her costumes, but going by what her favourite Malaysian designer, Michael Ong, told The New Paper two months ago, the singer has easily accumulated 1,000 outfits.

Siti explained to Maia and The New Paper: ‘I feel it’s such a waste to throw them out. I try to mix and match them as much as I can.’

Maia also wanted to know how Siti psyched herself up for a performance.

Siti revealed that she’s always well-prepared.

Even her moves on stage are choreographed, she said.

She was also asked about being touted as Asia’s Celine Dion, who’s incidentally her idol.

Siti replied in her usual self-deprecating manner: ‘She’s up there and I’m down there.’

One thing is for sure though: Siti’s popularity reaches far and wide.

Other fans who were also at the press conference had travelled from Scotland and France to catch her concert at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last night .

Mrs Hayati Tillier, a Singaporean who has lived in Paris for the last 17 years, said that she timed her yearly vacation here to coincide with Siti’s concert.

She also proposed helping Siti to stage a concert in Paris and was seen in a deep conversation with Siti’s concert producer, Roslan Aziz.

Siti recently performed in London.

A handful of guests also took pictures with Maia after realising that this kebaya-clad person was really the familiar tattooed singer.

Maia acquired a liking for Malaysian singers, including Ning Baizura, after she grew up listening to her Indian-Muslim neighbour’s Malay music collection.

Said Maia later: ‘I thought that a superstar like Siti would be full of herself.

‘But she’s actually nice and friendly. She has no airs at all, unlike some celebrities I’ve interviewed.’

Maia writes a fortnightly column for the Show section of The New Paper.

Then, out of Siti’s earshot, Maia whispered: ‘Siti is cute like a doll. I wanted to pinch her cheeks.’

Talk about being a devoted fan.