Merdeka Spirit

Merdeka Mood Kicks Start in Sri Aman

While all eyes were on the Olympics in Beijing, the political nomination in Permatang Pauh in West Malaysia, the Baram Regatta in Marudi, Kite Festival in Bintulu and also the Kempen Jalur Gemilang in Lawas - the people of Sri Aman had its own party in conjunction with Merdeka Celebrations. This goes to show Sri Aman is a hive of activity and not the sleepy town depicted by the name Aman ~ Peace. Sri Aman hosted the Program Merakyatkan Seni Malaysia: Perpaduan Budaya Merdeka in conjunction with the upoming Merdeka Celebrations. I am happy to note that the organisers from the Federal Ministry agreed to the inclusion of the theme that this would be part of Sarawak's 45th Anniversary of Sarawak Maju dalam Malaysia and at the same time Malaysia's celebration of 51st Independence Anniversary. It's all about negotiation because before this our federal counterparts would be hesitant as to our State's Age as an equal counterpart of the country. This event involves three agencies with its parent Ministry - all forming the joint secretariat with the Resident Office of Sri Aman. I had the honour of Chairing the the final preparations meeting as the Resident had to attend another urgent meeting in Kuching. The reason I want to share this is that with three senior Directors from the different Departments as your co-members, and the members of meeting being the Heads of Departments of various agencies in the Division ~ trying to coordinate this and making decisions was quite difficult - basically you are sitting on hot seat as you have to ensure that everyone gives their cooperation to make the event a success. Being in Sri Aman in just over a month I have to weigh the strengths and limitations of the members of meeting apart from allocating the responsibilities equally.

Young cyclist participating in the Merdeka Convoy: Instilling the pride of being a Nation to the younger generation

My main headache and a new experience in diplomacy with illegal hawkers

Trying to make sure the 'now you see them now you don't' hawkers do not clog the road arteries towards the celebration venue. They sprung up like mushrooms just hours before the event. I have to thank the enforcement from the Sri Aman District Council for their efforts in ensuring that these instant structures do not populate the venue and in doing so a lot of diplomacy was needed to handle these 'instant traders'. Its important they do not compete aggressively amongst themselves to book the prime spots for their business. The use of the enforcement of course is to make sure they do not invade the performance area during our rehearsals and during our main events. RELA was called on for security. My West malaysian counterpart from the Ministry kept arguing that 'kalau di Kuala Lumpur, semua barang ni habis kena rampas naik lori'. Translated it means if this was KL these illegal hawkers's goods and structures would be hauled up by the enforcement'. I just whispered to him that this is Sri Aman and when they close shop after the event its us locals who will have to deal with these people.

Learning from the organiser - (sitting on my left) Tuan Haji Zaini Nyak Othman - a man rich in experience for major and international event management

As explained, the whole event was coordinated together with three different Departments and the launching of the event was by the Ministry of Perpaduan, Kesenian, Kebudayaan dan Warisan Director who is Tuan Haji Zaini, while the National Unity and Integration Department (Perpaduan) Department Director, Encik Rajali Mudin) was coordinating the Merdeka Convoy and the Director for Kebudayaan & Kesenian (Arts & Culture) Department by Encik Chua Teck Luwi handled the protocol and VVIP guests including the promotion and cultural performances and programs including exhibitions. I see their undivided commitment to ensuring the success of this event with the knowledge that their Deputy Secretary General Dato' Mohamad Daud and Principal Director Dato' Norliza Rofli will be arriving as guests of honour with the local Yang Berhormats in the form of our Assistant Minister for Land Development YB Encik Francis Hollis, YB Encik Snowdon Lawan, YB Tuan Masir Kujat and YB Puan Hajjah Simoi Peri. YB Dato Sri Shafie Apdal who was the guest of honour and the Minister who picked Sri Aman as the venue could not make it for the event as he had to be in Permatang Pauh but we thank him for his choice - picking Sri Aman as the kick off venue.

Welcoming the Guest of Honour YB Encik Francis Hollis and the other Yang Berhormats

YBhg Dato' Mohammad Daud invited YB Encik Francis Hollis to cut the balloon during the launch gimmick

The Merdeka Jalur Gemilang convoy which populated the Padang KPSU lama in Sri Aman

The Senam Seni Malaysia taking off in the wee hours of the mornng

Participants in the Senam Seni Malaysia - everyone enjoyed the new form of exercise which was a mix of cultural performance

Car decorated with the National and State flags passing by the grandstand

The other members of the convoy gets ready to go into the Padang KPSU Lama
Encik Mazlan (on the right) of the Engkilili Sub Distict Office tries out the Big Bike - by the way the flowers on the tyres of the other bike seems missing or its just that way

Kids in Orang Ulu Costume adds the variety of colours to the celebration

The crowd favourites - Mila of Akademi Fantasia fame

Chidlren Colouring Contest underway at the Dewan Suarah - colouring the Meaning of Merdeka

At the same time as the top guns of the Ministry were in town we took them for a tour of Fort Alice with the hope that that they will support its restoration efforts

The Resident Office also took the opportunity to bring the guests for a Benak experience along Batang Lupar River

The Benak Experience was not that scary as expected as the height of the Benak at that time was not at its peak but we managed to hear a lot of ooh and ahhs from our guests who were more scared of the Bujang Senang crocodiles in the Batang Lupar river

Overall it had been a fun experience - mainly in organising the celebration and also being host to our friends from West Malaysia. I would have loved to bring them to hop over to the nearby longhouses for the Longhouse Experience if they are not restricted in their perceptions and expectations. It would mean a lot to the meaning of Merdeka and they themselves can see how the rural setting actually. Not only will it help them understand what rural really means while they are planning for us in their Putra Jaya Offices. I can't really pinpoint which part of West Malaysia to call rural now as most of the places are accessible by roads. And also - being Malaysians today, we are also hoping on one thing - that we win our first gold in badmintom at the Beijing Olympics and we join hands to cheer Chong Wi. May he do us proud - he has done us a favour already in appearing in the Olympic Badminton Final. God Speed my countryman!


headsteadi said…
itu WJW987 punya tayar depan sudah botak.
MartinDinil said…
Nya ia, Merdeka neh...
Guday said…
"I would have loved to bring them to hop over to the nearby longhouses for the Longhouse Experience if they are not restricted in their perceptions and expectations."

Very interesting comment, I believe you are referring to the Semenanjung Malay guests, but lately even our Sarawakian Malay friends are also behaving in similar manner.

Very sad especially if you are the majority and stuffs, but lead in anything but exemplary manners!

But they are of course exceptions to the rules, no doubt.
Guday - thank you for your comments. From my experience our local Sarawakians are superbly sporting :) The inter marriages and mix of cultures can be experienced here in Sri Aman. Its that I do not feature their sportingness in my blog for reasons we know :)