06/26/2009, 00.00
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Asia mourns for Michael Jackson

The " star of pop music " died last night. A musical genius and a controversial personality, whose life was overtaken by show business. In the end he lived alone and full of debts. A Jehovah's Witnesses, year ago he had converted to Islam. Comments and condolences from China, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, India, Philippines.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - There is no place in Asia - as in the rest of the world – where people are not remembering and praying today for Michael Jackson, the "King of Pop" who died last night in Los Angeles from cardiac arrest at 50 years of age. It is still not clear the cause of death but some suspect that it was due to stress and diet drugs that the singer was taking prior to a new world tour in July, with which he wished to draw the curtain on his career.

For everyone he was a musical genius who transformed the music of the 80s and 90s into a breathtaking spectacle. His gestures, his style of dance, his way of dressing still influence generations of young people. But his genius was overshadowed by a bizarre way of life and sex scandals: Jackson described himself as a "Peter Pan" (the myth of eternal adolescence, adulthood without responsibility); he preferred to stay in the company of boys, had a chimpanzee as a friend and had a very high, almost feminine, tone of voice.  He had undergone plastic surgery several times to transform his face and (perhaps) lighten his skin.

His fame, his successes also overwhelmed in his life, his two marriages and three children. As a result of being convicted for paedophilia and failing to honour certain contracts, Jackson - who in the end retired, living in silence - had large debts.

From a family of Jehovah's Witnesses, Michael, seventh of 9 children, seems to have become a Muslim last year, changing his name to Mikail.

In China the death of Michael Jackson is the front page of all media. The most popular web site, the Sina.com defines him as "the most outstanding singer of all time."

In Singapore many sites and blogs have opened up sections for comments and condolences on his death. Many remember his concert in the city-state in 1993. In addition to celebrating his musical greatness, some highlight his somewhat deviated personality, but say that "his songs make me to sing," "touch my heart and make me cry."

Malaysia hopes he will be remembered like the Princess Diana of England. In Kuala Lumpur, where in 1996 a concert was almost banned because considered too "vulgar" for the conservative Muslim state, his many fans are remembering him and celebrating his influence. "We hope he will be remembered forever, like Princess Diana" says Noh Yusof, a 29 year old lawyer. But others point out the "gray areas" that have marked the life of the popular singer. Ivan Ho, 48 years and expert in technology says that "success went to his head”.  "He was a crazy type – he states - with all money, he could given much more to charity rather than spend it on surgery”.  

The fans in Japan were among the most avid supporters of Michael Jackson and the news of his death was a real shock. Michiko Suzuki, music critic who met the singer several times in the'80s, says that most likely the country will be in mourning for a long time. "At the time every one was copying the 'moonwalk' [a step backwards which made him famous worldwide, ed]. He was a true superstar. "

A video shot a prison in the Philippines province of Cebu, has been seen worldwide.  In the pictures you see more than 1500 prisoners in the rehabilitation centre that imitate the steps and movements of the Jackson song "Thriller." The video on YouTube has received 23 million hits since it was published.  Fans are inundating the videoclip with comments and messages mourning the death of American pop-star.  

In South Korea Michael Jackson had a huge crowd of admirers. In  Seoul his dances and his movements have been widely emulated by local pop stars. "He was already a star when I was a child - comments Kim Nam-kyu, 36 years - with his death it is as if I have lost part of my memories of childhood." At a concert held in Seoul in October 1996, Jackson met with Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan during a visit to the cathedral of Myeongdong. Two years later the singer would have liked to perform in the demilitarized zone on the border between the two Koreas, in sign of peace and reconciliation between the two countries. The project was shelved in the midst of polemics raised by those who did not want a  show at a time of severe political and economic crisis.

In India all major newspapers give ample space on their websites to the death of Michael Jackson,  recalling his career, the controversy of  his private life and they invite the public to leave messages of condolence.

The news of his death was like a cold shower, especially for his fans, scattered across major cities. The King of Pop had visited India in'96 giving a concert in Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai. Acclaimed and besieged by thousands of young people and curious on lookers, Michael Jackson had won over many fans with his performance, but it also raised several controversies. The more conservative circles of society criticized the cost of the show, which was considered excessive, and its content, deemed too Western.

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”