As published in Malay Mail today.
PETALING JAYA – It was a parade that won the admiration of many.
Not only was the Jalur Gemilang flown at half-mast but six athletes and two officials donned Malaysia Airlines (MAS) cabin crew uniforms as they marched in front of a roaring crowd, winning the hearts of those in the stadium and the millions watching from their homes.
As national cyclist Fatehah Mustapa, the flagbearer, led the national contingent at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in Celtic Park yesterday, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaludin could only smile.
He was, after all, the man who engineered the need for the Malaysian team to pay tribute to the 298 lives lost in the Flight MH17 tragedy.
“It was the night we found out about the plane. By the time we learnt it was shot down, I knew we had to do something in Glasgow,” revealed Khairy.
“I thought about black armbands, which we also used, and felt it wasn’t enough. So I thought why not MAS crew uniform.”
The initial plan was to get every athlete and official participating in the parade to wear the cabin crew uniform instead of the recently designed national jersey.
“But I thought it was not practical and may lose its touch. So I asked for the front row of athletes to wear them.
“Fatehah was supposed to wear it (the MAS uniform) too but we had limited sizes.”
Six athletes -- Ju Pha Som Net (cycling), Surizan Awang Noh and Fatin Syafiqah Mohd Sukri (womens hockey), Nur Fidrah Noh and Fairoz Abd Jabal (lawn bowls) and Farizal Ismail (rugby) -- and two officials, rugby team manager Mohamad Fahmy Abdul Jalil and National Sports Council media officer Fahmi Omar wore the uniforms in honour of the victims.
The idea, however, did not go down too well with the secretariat as another airliner Emirates is the official partner of the Games and the official airline of the Queen’s baton relay.
“They (secretariat) were iffy about it but I told our chef-de-mission Datuk Ong Poh Eng to just do it. The secretariat didn’t allow Fatehah to carry the flag at half-mast but the team brought scissors and tape and when they were handed the flag just outside the stadium before the march-in, they lowered it.”
“So a bit of work went on behind the scenes to get it all done but it came off well.”
Khairy said he appreciated MAS chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof’s support as he approved and lent the uniforms to the contingent and sent them to Glasgow.
And the effort paid off handsomely as the emotional pictures went viral online and is splashed on the front page of Malay Mail today – a fitting tribute by our national heroes to all those who perished in the unfortunate incident on July17.