PM's Special Party

A Special Occassion For PM's Online Friends

The YAB Prime Minister of Malaysia may forgive me for not believing the email I received about the invitation to his High Tea Party event at the Sri Perdana Putrajaya on 13th Mac 2010. I was among the 300 that had been invited to the YAB Prime Minister's get together with online friends. Could it be a Friday the 13th prank? Or is the 300 related to some movie about the 300 Spartan heroes? Even as I opened the message in my Blackberry, which would have allowed me to respond immediately I was still cautious. Maybe some of my online friends were playing a joke on me. But the invitation there says Najib Razak and no one knew I was one of the few thousands who signed up for the event hoping for a chance. Surely YAB Prime Minister would not try to pull a fast one on me.

It would have to be a big decision on my part as I would have to invest in an airline ticket to cross the South China Sea. That again would involve driving from Sri Aman, Sarawak and boarding a flight from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur and journey on to Putra Jaya. With the price of the tickets going up minute by minute, I told myself "The Prime Minister is organisng a special party for his online fans and he has invited you dude." That was enough to make me click on the Purchase Now button at Malaysia Airlines Website as I saw the seats disappearing quickly maybe due to the school holidays. I told myself that if this event is cancelled I could be poorer by many many hundreds of ringgit. When I received a second email providing the instructions to attend the function, I knew the invitation may be real and that I had to organise my work so that I would be able to attend. With a week in hand, anything could have happened to prevent me from going to the function. Thankfully there was no hiccups and on the day itself I was safely in Kuala Lumpur. Still wary that the YAB Prime Minister may change his mind about holding the event I did not really say much about this trip to my family, friends, colleagues - not even my wife and she was with me in Kuala Lumpur for her company event. I was afraid that they would not believe me if I told them that the YAB Prime Minister was organising a gathering with his online buddies. I just said there was a meeting at the Prime Minister's Office and I did get that quizzical look from my wife. She was wondering why the meeting was on a Saturday. Its of national interest I told her and I assured her also that I would not be scooting off to Genting Highlands, using the meeting as an excuse. It was a good idea though (and I can have the Planet of the Monyet blogger to drive me there) as I could win back the money for my airfares to and from Kuching.

On arrival in Kuala Lumpur at late evening, I received another phone call from the good people of 1Malaysia dot Com to inform me that I would be sitting at the YAB Prime Minister's table during the function. Wary at first and thinking that it was some radio station prank call, I asked enough questions to ascertain that the information was genuine. It was not that I was not grateful but sitting with the YAB Prime Minister's table was totally unexpected. Attending the function was good enough for me already. Furthermore I had not brought along my best suit. Butterflies were beginning to fly in my stomach.........

I was grateful to my brother as he had helped me find my way to Sri Perdana, Putra Jaya. Imanaged to upgrade myself with a new necktie bought from Parkson. It did raise the level of confidence a bit though my wife hate it as its colour sinks with my shirt. Before proceeding to the function room I did some checklist: Dell computer checked, Sony Cybershot as backup checked, main camera Nikon D5000 checked.

I was again served with another unexpected surprised when I was led to the table and found myself being positioned next to the YAB Prime Minister. Yikes...I was waiting for everyone in the room to stand up and laugh their hearts out when they saw the look on my face. Yes, maybe the whole room would erupt in screams as they were playing a joke on me before the YAB Prime Minister arrived. But no, it was for real. My other new found friends who were at the table were equally anxious and looked as nervous as I was. We all agreed that if the YAB Prime Minister asked us any questions that we were not able to answer we would back one another up. If the YAB Prime Minister asked me the right questions I feared that I may give the wrong answers. I was coughing, not that my throat was itchy but due to the stress. 

I have to say in my line of work when one is seated next to a VVIP, one better be equipped with the latest and up to date information. The country's GDP figures, latest export figures, the State Civil Service's vision, the latest statistics, the economic indexes, the 10th Malaysia Plan, Vision 2020....I screened through the websites in the Blackberry I was a total wreck trying to recall those in my head.

When the Prime Minister and his wife finally arrived and joined us at the table I was again pleasantly surprised. Instead the YAB Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Najib Razak and his wife, Yhbg  Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were very casual. His friendliness also caught everyone off guard. He broke the ice with me by talking about my camera "My, My.... you have a serious looking camera there'" And so it started with camera talk and I have to thank my Nikon D5000 for being a lifesaver. Then we talked about almost everything and the information flowed pretty well after that. Everyone on the table felt his sincerity and he even shared with us what his favourite menu is. Smiles were everywhere as everyone in the function hall started their ice breaking sessions ~ photo sessions and handshakes were also aplenty. Being at the High Table means that we get to savour the YAB Prime Minister's favourite dishes. He even promoted his favourites. "You must try it" he persuaded us and everyone of us started digging in as if it was a directive. That was the best moment I guess as we did not really want to be gobbling up more than our honourable hosts. We took only what they took though the rest of the dishes in the middle were really tasty looking.. Furthermore, the cameras were clicking here and there focusing on our table as I was answering the YAB Prime Minister's queries and assisting the fellow guests who wish for his autograph while on the table. I also had to move in slow motion - no sudden moves as his two bodyguards were just standing behind me. I guess I will have to ask for the other photos from my fellow guests who were there.

One of the favourites: Mee Jawa @ Prawn Noodles - yum yum

Both the Prime Minister and his wife's favourite - Kueh Teow with special tasty gravy

The evening was set to become a memorable one. The YAB Prime Minister's delievered his ever inspiring speech on his online efforts to be connected with the Malaysian online community, on how Internet can transcend the physical, cultural and racial 'barriers' that divide everyone. He assured his online friends that the words posted and shared in his facebook and Twitter are his. He admits that it may sound a bit unlike him at moments because he does not like to sound very official in his postings. Its really not like those of Obama's White House Facebook postings which are more serious and official. Our YAB Prime Minister's one is quite sporting and the guests in the room gave a rousing applause in agreement. Our YAB Prime Minister has his own style of blending with his mostly younger fans. He even joked that he may be one of the oldest Facebooker in the room at the moment as he was 'just a bit over forty years old'. Hey, that's my age. Its great to hear that our YAB Prime Minister has a good sense of humour and he delighted the mostly Manchester United fans crowd with his admiration for the soccer club. At the end of his speech, he told everyone to continously provide feedback in his Facebook as he found some of the ideas that are communicated on his 1Malaysia website are very useful.

There was a dialogue session with a few of those attending puttng forward their queries to the Prime Minister and the questions ranged from the Prime Minister's favourite soccer team to the more serious issue of the rising crime rates, racial unity to the economy.

Nor Ashman Razak, the YAB Prime Minister's son (with headphones) shows off his DJ skills when he did the music mix for the event

Going through memory lane and historical link ~ I presented the picture of the late Tun Razak's visit to Kapit to the YAB Prime Minister. Details of the picture are below.

The picture I presented was quite special as it had my late grandad (fifth from left) who was the Member of Parliament for Kapit that time accompanying the late YAB Prime Minister Tun Razak during his trip to Kapit (seen here visiting Methodist Primary School) with the then Sarawak Chief Minister YAB Datuk Patinggi Abdul Rahman Yakub and also Tun Jugah in the early 70s.

Distinguished guests who were with me at the YAB Prime Minister's table

One more time ~ before the PrimeMinister left the function he took a picture with his Online friends. Everyone had a memorable moment and they certainly did not want to leave until the Prime Minister and the wife have left the building.

I have to admit that I had the time of my life during this event. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I may never get again. Even if the YAB Prime Minster comes to Sarawak there are protocols to follow. Sitting next to the YAB Prime Minister throughout the event felt like a neverending moment as he had so much to share especially on his aspirations for 1Malaysia. But time flies when you are having fun. I can say I have had various interactions with most VVIPs in my line of work but this Number One leader in the country has set a standard that would be hard to beat, be it on the level of openess and also using the Internet Technology to get closer to the people. The YAB Prime Minister, his wife and children mingled well with all of us, signing autographs and talking about Government policies, employment opportunities, online activities, health tips, music etc. As we shook hands I invited our YAB Prime Minister to come again to Sarawak, especially Sri Aman and Kapit  and he replied "Insya Allah.... Sri Aman and Kapit it is".

Thank you YAB Prime Minister. Thank you 1Malaysia.Com.My. Thank you all... and in the cheers of the YAB Prime Minister "SATU" MALAYSIA!!


Monyet King said…
Wow, Desmond. Now I am jealous of you. I can imagine that this is something for you to remember for a long time. Now teaparty is there going to be a 1Malaysia beer party ?

p.s. I also noted you comments about getting a ride to Genting. No problem...just call the next time you are in KL.
nguongping said…
Wow! When I's still wondering when it is my turn to see PM live in front of me, you had got the chance to sit next to him!
rosnisa said…
you're lucky..malam before ya, u ada mimpi nait tangga sik? Sik pernah percaya kan?? you believe it..But I like the approach our PM are doing now..he is really Cakap n Bikin..last nite news informed that he is also checking KLIA toilet..just imagine..I admired him more now.
Uchu Keling said…
well documented and the photo was an excellent gesture! That's the way Tuan.. you may be on the way to Putra Jaya soon ;)
Malaysia180 said… write as though the PM is the first person you ever met who has any social skills

He wouldnt be where he is now if he wasnt an extrovert

But strangely, extroversion is not a good qualification for running a country
OM said…
Being honoured by PM of one country is a rare things. This the the price for being honest and humble in your blogging.

Keep up your way and do not carried away by emotion in your writing. Please tell your children that you are the best.