I am encouraged to observe yet again, over the years, how sports unite us all and ignite our passion in the way that sports does.
It is barely two months into the year, and already our athletes have begun to chalk up victories in football and badminton. Datuk Lee Chong Wei is again the Malaysian Open champion, and just recently, the Malaysian football team and AFF Suzuki Cup champions expectedly defeated Hong Kong in a friendly match. In recent times, they are perhaps the most apt example of 1Malaysia in practice.
Take our football squad as an example. The team consists mainly of young men of Malay descent under the guidance and coaching of a former player of Indian heritage. With proper training, technical development, discipline and teamwork, this team has managed to deliver a historic victory that drove an entire nation to celebrate.
Of course, one cannot forget the image of Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Datuk Misbun Sidek in joyous embrace after the badminton semi-finals win at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The nation has seen the strong bond between this young Chinese man and his Malay mentor through numerous tournaments, victories and challenges in their careers.
These are two shining examples of what the spirit of 1Malaysia can do. They practice the aspirational values of 1Malaysia, such as culture of high performance, perseverance, acceptance and loyalty. As a result, they achieve excellence. Simple mathematics will tell you that 1 + 1 = 2. But in reality, when you combine the unique strengths of one Malaysian with the strengths of another fellow Malaysian, you will discover that the sum is far greater than that. If we move together, the sum total will be far greater than the individuals added up together.
More importantly, this example applies not just in sports. Excellence can be achieved in other areas in our lives, as long as we emulate the ethos of these successful sportsmen. Many have done so, and many more will continue to do so. I urge you to look to these models of success and learn from them so that you too can reap the rewards of hard work and in turn set an example for the next generation.