THESE are difficult times indeed for any Malaysian. You need not have lost anyone in the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 or in the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
Every Malaysian feels the pain. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who perished in those two incidents.
In the aftermath of the latest horror in Ukraine – which claimed the lives of 283 passengers and 15 crew on board, the staging of the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, has certainly lost its allure.
But then again, it is ironic that the Commonwealth Games is being held in Scotland at a time when the whole of Malaysia – and the world – is mourning the tragic loss of lives in the MH17 disaster.
Almost 16 years ago, Scotland experienced a similar horror as well.
On Dec 21, 1998, a Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by a terrorist bomb, killing 243 passengers and 16 crew on board. The airplane crashed into Lockerbie, Scotland, and killed 11 more people on the ground.
No wonder the Scottish people can empathise with us - sharing our sadness and grieving with us.
The Scottish people are really friendly, kind and caring. They are always ready with a hearty welcome, pleasant smile and typical Scottish humour.
Whenever we tell anyone in Glasgow that we are from Malaysia, the first thing they do is offer us their condolences and sympathies for the families and friends of those who perished in the MH17 disaster.
They know what it’s like to have suffered from such a horrific disaster.
In our short stay here, so far, we have met so many people who have all made us feel more than welcome.
It is also apt that the slogan for this year’s Commonwealth Games is “People make Glasgow”.
The people of Glasgow are ready to embrace wholeheartedly the 6,500 athletes from 71 nations who will be converging here to compete in the 17 sports – from aquatics to wrestling.
We all know that “first impression counts”. Well, if that is the case, then the people of Glasgow have certainly passed the test as they have more than lived up to the Games motto of “People make Glasgow”.
They are so warm and friendly. So caring and kind. So helpful and cheerful.
A case in point are the Games people manning the desk at the airport. They are the first set of volunteers you will meet in Glasgow – and there are 15,000 of them in total!
Take Elizabeth Bashir, for example.
This genial lady made our day when we bumped into her while waiting for the Malaysian badminton team’s arrival at the Glasgow Airport on Saturday.
She is talkative, affable, funny, kind and cheerful – delighting us with stories about her trip to her husband’s homeland of Kashmir, India. She’s a real gem!
No matter where we go to seek help, the volunteers are ever ready to go the extra mile to assist us.
That aside, the latest bombing of a Malaysia Airlines plane has only sparked fear in the hearts of nations.
And Scotland, especially Glasgow, is no different either.
The Games may be a few days away, but already one can sense the host city’s heightened expectations.
Even more heightened is its security concerns, which has led to Scotland mounting one of its biggest security operations for the Games.
Police Scotland, it is reported, is leading the operation and supported by the likes of the British Transport Police, prison officers and contract security guards and stewards.
It is also reported that more than 2,000 Armed Forces personnel would be on alert to thwart any terrorist attempts.
In the wake of what happened in Ukraine, it is only logical that such a massive security operation has been mounted, especially since Wednesday’s opening ceremony at Celtic Park will be attended by the Queen.
The Games slogan could not be more perfect as it acknowledges the people’s part in ensuring Glasgow will deliver the best-ever Commonwealth Games!
The friendly people of Glasgow certainly deserve a real treat.
Let these Games be remembered for the athletes and their achievements, the fans and, most of all, the spirit of togetherness.
Let these Games show the world that goodness thrives even in times of adversity!
The Starsport team learnt about the heartbreaking and horrifying news just minutes before we took off from the KLIA to Amsterdam on Thursday night. Starsport shares the grief and sorrow of the families and friends of those who perished onboard MH17.