Malaysia proposal video wins hearts worldwide
After watching an emotional video of Malaysian Timothy Tiah propose to his girlfriend, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest hailed it as a heartwarming coda to 2011. Singer Christina Perri confessed that it made her cry.
Celebrity endorsements have helped the creatively crafted clip rack up nearly 4 million views online within a week, turning Tiah and his now-fiancée, Audrey Ooi, into unexpected role models for numerous young romantics worldwide.
It's a surreal twist for Tiah, a 27-year-old internet entrepreneur, who says he has long been allergic to the idea of getting hitched, partly because some of his older friends suffered failed marriages.
"But I realised there's no other girl who gets me like (Ooi) does. There's no other girl I've ever considered marrying," Tiah told The Associated Press.
The video, set to Perri's wistful US hit ballad A Thousand Years and shot by a Malaysian wedding footage company, shows Tiah surprising Ooi while she was having dinner with friends at an Italian restaurant in Kuala Lumpur on November 30.
At first, Tiah nervously walks to the restaurant's glass entrance and waves from outside to get Ooi's attention.
Ooi, 26, appears bewildered as a grinning Tiah holds up a series of posters imprinted with Internet memes - catchphrases and artwork that became popular online - that narrate how he wants to spend the rest of his life with Ooi despite being terrified of marriage.
"If you like it, y u no put a ring on it," one poster proclaims, before Tiah shows Ooi a picture of the animated character Puss in Boots with pleading eyes under the words "Will you marry me?"
The nearly five-minute clip ends with Tiah on bended knee, offering Ooi a ring and a bouquet while she tearfully accepts his proposal.
Tiah, who has been dating Ooi for three years after meeting her at his birthday party, initially planned to show the video mainly to family and friends, but the crew that filmed it convinced him to let them put it online in mid-December.
Bloggers began sharing the clip, which went viral after Seacrest mentioned it on Facebook and Twitter on Dec. 23.
Perri tweeted that she was "honored" that her song was used in the clip.
"Ahhh I just cried my eyes out (and) couldn't stop smiling all at the same time!" Perri wrote.
Others had similar reactions on video-sharing websites YouTube and Vimeo, where the clip has accumulated nearly 4 million combined views over the past week. "I wanna be proposed to like this!!" YouTube user XGothify wrote.
Strangers have approached Tiah in elevators and cafes, saying they recognize him from the video. But Tiah believes the attention will fade soon, insisting that the proposal was little more than a "goofy and geeky" gesture.
"We feel a bit shy about it, but it feels nice at the same time," he said.
Ooi said that midway through Tiah's proposal, she feared he was trying to break up with her.
The couple is now busy planning their nuptials.
"It'll be a fairly simple" traditional Chinese wedding ceremony and dinner next year, Tiah said. "I don't think people will be interested in seeing a video of it."