PUTRAJAYA, April 22 – Had it not been announced, none would have realised the beautiful sound from a piano played at the opening of the International Seminar on Autism 2014 (ISAM 2014) held here today, came from a talented boy. Clarence Kang, 16, blew the audience away with his rendition of a self-composed song entitled, ‘Concert Fantasie’. He was only 13 when he composed that song. If that is amazing, what is mind-boggling is that Kang suffers from autism. That song won him the talent award at the Pyeongchang Special Music Festival in Korea last year. Another song he played was the famous, ‘The Flight of the Bumblebee’, an orchestral interlude written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, which also received a big applause from the audience.
Among those seated in the packed hall were Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor; and, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and wife, Puan Sri Norainee Abdul Rahman. Another talented austistic performer was Umar Hasfizal, 16, who sang his heart out at the opening of the two-day seminar at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) here. He belted out ‘I Give The Best Of Me’, composed and produced by the founder of Malaysia s first autistic children s choir, Brian John Yim. The two performances impressed the hall filled with more than 1,000 local and foreign participants at ISAM 2014. Met outside the seminar hall, Kang, who had slight difficulty in socialising and communicating, clearly had his own fan base as there was an endless flow of admirers wanting to take pictures with him non-stop. He was ever willing to oblige.
“I love to perform. Am happy to perform,” he told reporters when asked about the extraordinary performance. Kang’s mother, music teacher Joyce Lim said her son could play the piano by ear, without the need of piano scores, and had been performing inside and outside the country, although there were times he still felt insecure and needed to hold her hand. She discovered her son was autistic when he was four. Although she was frustrated over his condition, it did not last long as she quickly took control of matters and sent him for intervention programme. “I believe there must be a reason for everything. God must have a plan for every child that He sent. And now, here we are helping and contributing to an autism awareness programme,” noted Lim. Meanwhile, Umar’s father, Hasfizal Mukhtar said he discovered Umar as an autistic child when he was about two or three years of age when he displayed signs of autism.
“When we were told he was diagnosed with autism, it was a strange word for us. We didn’t really know what autism was, as it could not be detected physically, and he was perfectly normal…No sign and only through behaviour and communication.” However, he said early intervention and inclusive programme helped to train autistic children like Umar to join the normal schools with other children. “Umar’s hidden singing talent was discovered when he attended a choir and took part in a singing competition and reached second place in the Malaysian Special Idol,” said Hasfizal, adding that his son also participated in the nation’s first autistic choir which performed in various events. “Umar likes to sing. He likes to entertain the crowd and this slowly built up his confidence,” he said.