Himpunan Sejuta Belia has made some impact and a 180 degree change from the normal National Youth Day. Many years ago the normal celebration involves youths mainly from the National Youth Council, held in a big stadium to host about 20 to 30 thousand youths. I may be wrong but that's what I remember.
Last year the Minister of Youth and Sports, Dato' Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek changed the concept. He was the first minister to forgo his speech slot during this important day. Speech from a minister during youth day? Let the youths celebrate without boring speeches, he thought.
Dato' Sri Shabery also changed the old style of giving goodies, transport and allowance to attract participants. Corporate sponsors were sought to prepare activities for youths instead. More money saved was used to attract more youths to the annual event.
As a result, last year 200 thousand youths swarmed Putrajaya with all sorts of activities there. The Prime Minister Dato' Sri Najib Razak threw a challenge to the ministry to gather 1 million youths this year.
Works started as early as end of last year to plan activities, programs and venue for a 3-day celebration to have a total of 1 million youths celebrate together.
This year during the 3 days, a million youths swarmed Putrajaya with more than 200 activities and events for all participants. I was very skeptical and doubt it will be a success. Towards the days approaching the dates of the gathering, not many people know about the celebration or any of its events.
I also doubted the event could bring impact to people and was very disappointed at the non structure organization of the event too. I am not comfortable to visit public areas with mass of people (due to pass 'phobia' after bumping into someone which caused severe pain on my liver surgery wound) so I have no plans to attend. However, I prayed it will be a success as I have also seen the efforts done for it.
I got a call on the first day of the celebration on Friday that I will be receiving an award from the Prime Minister on the second day during the launch of the gathering. I couldn't believe my ears but I went ahead, thanks to my friend Teck Hoe who volunteered to fetch me knowing I hate jams and will be difficult to reach the venue.
I went on Saturday. And when I reached Putrajaya, it was eye-opener.
I thought of the normal scene where you see all Malays (sorry to be a bit racist here, but please allow me to share)... I was wrong. Scores of Chinese youngsters mixed with many Malay girls pooled the front of the main stage. They were all awaiting Super Junior M!
I thought to see all the normal scenes of hari belia having only youths in organizations under the National Youth Council everywhere. I was wrong too, many young adults and students came from nowhere. They also thanked the ministry for preparing buses as transportation for them to come for the celebration where otherwise they can only watch the TV from home. I have met students all the way from Kluang and Kelantan.
I thought to see the normal scenes of all old youths. Malaysia defines youths as below 40 years old and most of these activists are over 30 years old. I was wrong... There were scores of youngsters perhaps below 20 years old around Putrajaya!
I thought to see only buses or buses more than anything else because those are the only transport to bring 'arranged youths' to reach the targeted number of youths. I was really wrong... Buses were only like perhaps less than 5% of the transport available. Many cars causing superific traffic jams!
I thought only those normal events like futsal or paintball around. I was proven wrong once again. Over 200 activities were arranged including sasuke (forgive my ignorance but this is the first time I heard of it), even the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Gan Ping Sieu tried the challenge. Various activities, multi racial and cross cultural.. Sports, extreme sports, competitions and mostly sponsored by corporates.
Also notable is the seating arrangement. No front two rows for VVIPs only... All ministers and deputy ministers sit among the participants. Even Deputy Minister Razali Ibrahim went cycling around Putrajaya to meet the youths! Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Dato' Sri Idris Jala also joined the band and jammed with the youths! Even our very own Prime Minister clad in MU jersey came to watch live football shows with thousands of youths.
This year youth day has definitely been very different from the previous years. Definitely has made much more impact than previously done and totally different from the rest.
Where in the world I can play paintball, see supercars, open my eyes to sasuke and various events all in one carnival? I think this event should be repeated.
Skeptics all round I feel should not always condemn if they have not visited the carnival. Seeing and believing and if I have not been to the celebration to receive my award, I'd still be in my skeptic mind and wrongful thoughts.
Looking forward for Youth Year 2012 and I wish all youths Selamat Hari Belia Negara.
Things just happen, the rest is up to us to make it GREAT!
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