Golden Merdeka gift
PETALING JAYA: It is a march of victory and pride for high-spirited Malaysians to Dataran Merdeka today to celebrate National Day. National fervour is at an all-time high a day after Malaysia concluded its most successful SEA Games yesterday.
What sets this year’s celebration apart from the past is the exuberance and strong sense of patriotism sparked by the successful Malaysian contingent at the regional Games, which drew to a conclusion just a day before Merdeka Day.
Malaysia topped the medal tally, besting 10 nations by bagging 145 gold medals and leaving Thailand a distant second by more than 70 medals.
What made the Games even more memorable was that the glorious triumph was achieved on home ground, with 844 national athletes hauling more than the targeted 111 gold medals.
The sporting event was without doubt a show of unity for Malaysians of various backgrounds and beliefs as they rallied together in support of national heroes such as Khairul Hafiz Jantan, N. Thanabalan and Goh Jin Wei.
Malaysian football legend Datuk Santokh Singh has always regarded sports as the best catalyst in boosting unity among Malaysians of diverse backgrounds.
“Sports has always been the medium to unite people, and the SEA Games has been successful in doing that,” he said.
“Many people from different races and backgrounds have given their support to the nation first before thinking about anything else,” Santokh told theSun.
“Malaysia has reached its 111 gold medal target, and we have obtained 145 gold medals. It is our best performance in the SEA Games, and the tremendous achievement has helped a lot in hyping up the Merdeka Day celebrations.”
Santokh suggested that Malaysia continue to bid for other international sporting events to reinforce the nationalism spirit.
“Events such as these should be continued because when we have something to cheer, this is the time when your nationalism spirit is heightened.
“This is also the time we can see people from different races sitting side by side in cheering for their nation,” he said.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup agreed that the SEA Games had created “moments of unity” for National Day.
He called for the momentum to be maintained.
Kurup, who is in charge of national unity, added that fractions or disunity would not occur among Malaysians if they held true to the principles embedded in the Rukun Negara.
Highlighting sports as an important mechanism of unity, he said such games could eliminate the domination of one particular ethnic group, as well as contributing to the “one nation, one vision” spirit.
“Such instances was seen during the semifinal football match between Malaysia and Indonesia.
“I saw youths of various races drinking together in a mamak restaurant to give their support to the national team,” he said.
“What’s even more pleasant was scenes of our younger generation hugging each other at the victory of our team.”
Kurup said such sporting events should be maintained, especially at the district and state level as it could inculcate interaction among the various races.
Gerakan vice-president Datuk Dr Asharuddin Ahmad said the triumphant sporting event serving as a run-up to the National Day had indeed created a “feel good factor” in fostering national unity.
Asharuddin, who is also the party’s national unity bureau chairman, added that the SEA Games had brought Malaysians closer before the Merdeka event.
“This is the time for us to continue with the euphoria by saying no to racism, especially with the visibly heightened patriotism spirit among Malaysians after the games,” he said.
It took 215 students two months to piece together 8,000 coconut shells to form this huge Jalur Gemilang for the Merdeka Day celebrations. The special flag will be paraded at Dataran Merdeka today.
... A spectacular display of fireworks at the SEA Games closing ceremony last night at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak along with athletes and officials from 11 countries who participated in the Games were in attendance at the ceremony. The next SEA Games will be held in the Philippines in 2019.
Speed skater (short track) Anja Chong leading the pack in heat one of the women’s 1000m at MyNISS, Damansara yesterday. She went on to win gold in the final.
Santokh. Kurup. Asharuddin.