Pop star wins over crowd at Malaysia's ruling party congress

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's political elite proved no match for a pop sweetheart. Siti Nurhaliza, Malaysia's top female singer, stole the show at the United Malays National Organisation ruling party's annual congress on Thursday, where she made a special appearance to help promote the Government's economic development programmes.

Hundreds of star-struck people stopped watching the assembly debate and flooded a separate hall, where Siti chatted with fans and belted out an impromptu, a cappella performance of one of her famous ballads. Her hour-long, gossip-heavy session was music to many people's ears, after they had spent four days listening to top politicians expound on serious subjects like the protection of Islam's status as Malaysia's official religion. Siti, a Malay-language star with massive followings in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, occasionally conceded the limelight to her political surroundings.

Asked about the secret to her success, she said she believed in something Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi mentioned in his keynote speech on Wednesday. "He talked about sincerity, which I believe is the important thing," Siti said.

Siti praised the Ninth Malaysia Plan infrastructure development blueprint. AP