BUKIT MERTAJAM, Sept 11 (Bernama) — Heavy downpour since early today did not dampen the spirits of about 25,000 visitors from attending the Malaysian Aidilfitri Open House at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Guar Perahu here today.
The people from various races and ethnic groups took the opportunity to wish “Selamat Hari Raya” to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who arrived at the school at noon.
It took Najib, who was accompanied by Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, about 30 minutes to inch his way to the main guest dining area as the revellers crowded around him to shake his hands.
“I’m overwhelmed to be present at the joyous occasion as we could celebrate hari raya together today,” he said.
On a rather jovial note, he said: “I’m being greeted by numerous flags – dark blue, light blue – as if the election is tomorrow. But today is not an election but we are gathered here to celebrate hari raya,” he said to the rapturous cheers from the visitors.
The prime minister thanked Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his entourage, who also attended the open house.
After ending his speech, the prime minister launched the Aidilfitri open house by beating the traditional wooden drum seven times.
Earlier, Najib and several leaders visited Nor Asmah Othman, 41, a housewife, who had to work to raise six school-going children after her husband suffered from a chronic skin disease, at Kampung Padang Ibu.
After helping himself to refreshments and fried mushroom masala and coconut pancake prepared by Nor Asmah, Najib took a taxi ride to Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Guar Perahu.
Drum beats dubbed “Gendang 1Malaysia” played by a troupe comprising young and old drummers from various races and shouts of “Merdeka” greeted the prime minister and his entourage on their arrival at the school.
The open house began with a boria (a traditional song and dance sketch) by a troupe comprising children and adults followed by an opening remarks by Rais and Permatang Pauh Umno division chief Datuk Abdul Jalil Abdul Majid before Najib took the stage.
The prime minister later presented the Penang Tokoh Merdeka awards to Datuk Md Noor Ahmad, former Penang Hindu Endowment commissioner Datuk A.Subramaniam, former Kwong Wah Yitt Poh managing director Datuk Oon Choo Eng and Penang Malay Association president Datuk Seri Mohd Yusoff Abdul Latiff.
Najib also presented packages of basic necessities to 10 needy people and 1Malaysia netbooks to 10 outstanding students.
Before leaving the open house, the prime minister visited food stalls serving dishes like nasi daging, lemang, ketupat palas, sate, pasembor, laksa utara, char kuey tiow, rendang ayam, rendang daging and mutton curry for the visitors.
Meanwhile, a reveller, Harun Abdullah, 76, said despite being unwell, he rode a motorcycle for about 30 minutes from Merbau Kudung near here to attend the open house.
“Although I could only see him (Najib) from a distance, I’m happy and I feel very fortunate to be able to see the prime minister in person for the first time,” added Harun.
Source : Bernama