PADDLE for a Peaceful Tomorrow – that was the slogan for the recently concluded 27th Penang International Dragon Boat Festival (PIDBF) held at the Teluk Bahang Dam in Penang.
And, as Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon pointed out during the opening ceremony, the presence of rowers and supporters from all over Malaysia as well as seven other countries was truly a reflection of unity in diversity.
This year’s two-day festival attracted 1,700 participants from Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and China.
There were 27 Malaysian teams and 27 foreign teams. The biggest foreign participation was from Australia with nine teams, followed by Singapore with eight teams, and China with three teams from Hong Kong and one from the Zhejiang province.
Altogether, there were 12 finals and the main race – the 20-member crew Penang International Open – was won by Indonesia’s Padang City team, with Pacific West Crew (A) team from Penang and the China Zhejiang team in second and third place.
The other teams in the finals of that race were Penang Forward Sports Club (B), Taman Perbandaran (A) and Taman Perbandaran (B), all from Penang.
It was not all about the races. Charity was also the order of the day, with two fund-raising events.
One was organised by the Bukit Bendera Welfare and Human Development Council in aid of its fund. It was opened by Deputy Information Minister Chia Kwang Chye, who is also Bukit Bendera MP.
The six-hour food fair on Sunday, featuring 44 stalls selling food, drinks and souvenirs, raised more than RM30,000.
The other event was a two-day charity food sale by Pacific West Premium Foods, raising RM5,000 in aid of the Children’s Protection Society of Penang.
To add to the fun, about 500 children took part in an art competition. The fun atmosphere also extended to PIDBF officials, some of whom had made the annual event a family affair.
Among the young helpers were Alison Lim, six, and Geraldine Chua, seven, daughters of race officials who helped to carry the official results after each race from the secretariat's container to the race commentator's booth.
PIDBF committee chairman Lai Chew Hock, who is also Bukit Tambun assemblyman, said he was pleased with the event which drew more than 3,000 spectators on Saturday and about 7,000 on Sunday.
“The Penang Tourism Action Council, the hotels and the mass media have done a great job publicising the event. It was also the beginning of the two-week mid-year school holidays, and the weather had been fine,” he added.