Datuk with no special privileges

Malaysian singer Elaine Kang, 49, ruled the music scene across the Causeway in the 1980s. Next month, she will perform in Singapore for the first time in 20 years - as a newly minted Datuk.

The Penang-born singer was given the honorary title last year, reported Malaysian news outlet The Star.

She says life goes on as usual and that she does not enjoy special privileges.

Speaking to Life! over the telephone from Kuala Lumpur, she adds with a laugh: "If I break the law, I'll still have to be punished like every other citizen. I don't get any special treatment.

"I feel honoured to be recognised for my contributions to the music industry and my charity work. I'm still the same Elaine Kang. Getting the title does not change my life."

Acknowledged as the top Malaysian Chinese recording artist in the 1980s, she has released 30 albums in Chinese, English and Malay.

She faded out in the mid-1990s to concentrate on her businesses, including a jewellery venture.

"I'm really thankful. It's been about 10 years since I had an interview with the Singapore media," she says. "It feels like being back to my debut days."

She will be performing at an ensemble concert at Kreta Ayer People's Theatre, called the Singapore Malaysia Famous Singers Concert, with fellow Malaysians Luo Bin and Xie Ling Ling, among others.

It turns out that there was more to her leaving the music scene. Kang says she suffers from tinnitus, which makes her hear a ringing sound in her ears.

She says: "I stopped singing for four to five years. I sought medical help in many countries but I couldn't get it cured. It was quite torturous. Though I still hear the sounds, I'm now used to them. It doesn't affect my singing."

Life away from the spotlight has been sweet for Kang, who is single.

She says she has "someone she loves" by her side, but would say only that he is not from showbusiness and is a Chinese man from Japan.

It is likely that her boyfriend is older. She says: "I prefer men who are older, at least 10 years older than me because they give me a stable feeling. My boyfriend makes me feel safe."

Do not expect to hear wedding bells though, as she is happy with the status quo. She says: "I don't think I'll be getting married. I'm not young. I'm used to my current lifestyle."

Growing older is a fact of life that she embraces. However, she will not hesitate to get a little help to maintain her youthful look.

She says: "Time does not spare any- one's looks. We, modern-day women, have to maintain our looks. Every night, I put on a sleeping mask. Most import- antly, I don't take things in life too seriously and I'm cheerful.

"I'm not against plastic surgery, I feel it's up to the individual. If it boosts your confidence and makes you happy, go ahead. I may consider plastic surgery if I need it. Maybe when I hit 60, I'll consider going for a facelift."


Where: Kreta Ayer People's Theatre

When: Dec 7; 3, 5.30 and 8pm

Admission: Tickets at $28, $38, $48 and $58 (call 6222-3972 or 8481-6639)

This article was first published on Nov 6, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.