Friday, August 28, 1998

Best foot forward (The Malay Mail)

THE Malaysian Commonwealth Games contingent were treated to the lighter
side of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at Universiti
Tenaga Nasional (Uniten) yesterday afternoon.
Anwar laced his speech with humour but drove home the point that the
nation comes first. And that the athletes will have to put their best foot
Anwar was accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
Also present were Sports Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, chef-de-
mission Datuk Khalid Yunus, Olympic Council of Malaysia vice-president
Datuk Alex Lee and TNB executive chairman Datuk Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali.
Anwar did not waste anytime getting into the groove of things.
When the motivational song Barisan Kita was sung, Anwar couldn't resist
joining the athletes and officials.
Anwar said later that his spirits soared when he heard the song.
He explained: "It was the theme song when I was in Universiti Malaya.
Whenever we staged rallies to protest against issues, we would sing this
"At that time, every undergraduate knew the song which signifies a
"The song instils fighting spirit in those who listen and sing it."
Anwar advised the athletes to be resilient. He reminded them to use the
opportunities provided so that the country would prosper.
"Nobody will be faulted for not winning because winning and losing are
part and parcel of sports. But what we won't and cannot accept and forgive
are those who concede defeat even before the competition begins," he said.
Anwar said since the Games have attracted the attention of the world,
the athletes should give their best so that a Malaysian winner would
emerge every day.
He also said that he had actually come prepared to train with some of
athletes. Hence, he had come attired in track suit, as was his wife.
"But when I saw the Sports Minister in tie, I knew it was not going to
"I have my views on sports and I'm proud to say that I had been an
active sportsman.
"Perhaps, with the exception of fencing, swimming and boxing, I should
be able to compete in all the other sports.
"At times I regret not having taken up boxing because I could have used
that skill on others.
"I still keep active and that's the secret for my youth. It helps that I
have a young wife too," added Anwar, to the amusement of those present.
Anwar presented incentive awards to several outstanding athletes,
including bowling sensation, Shalin Zulkifli, and squash ace, Ong Beng
Shalin was the biggest winner, collecting RM124,500 for two golds and
two bronze medals at the recent FIQ World Youth Championship in South
Beng Hee received RM52,000 for being crowned world junior champion in
New Jersey, USA, recently.
Anwar was presented with a pair of Malaysia's official track suit for
the Games on Sept 11-21.
During the presentations, Anwar spoke with some of the recipients. When
sprinter Watson Nyambek came forward, Anwar held his hand up high to the
cheers of the other athletes.
He also felt weighlifter Muhammad Hidayat Hamidon Arbi's well-toned
forearms and biceps.
After the ceremony, Anwar mingled with the athletes while cameras
clicked away.
During high tea, he sat with Watson, Hidayat, Zaki Sardi and Beng Hee.