Merdeka journey of surprises

  • Community
  • Wednesday, 07 Sep 2011

HOSPITALITY is not dead in Malaysia as Minnal FM DJ Johnson Sinnappan will tell you.

He did not expect the welcome he received during the first half of his month-long tour to all the states in peninsular Malaysia in conjunction with the Merdeka celebrations.

The 33-year-old said he mentally prepared himself for discomfort and uneasiness when he started off on Aug 16 and was amazed by the Malaysian hospitality he encountered.

“My days were filled with happy surprises and joy,” said Johnson at the Kembara Merdeka Concert at Dewan Serbaguna in Taman Chai Leng, Prai, where he was earlier given a hero’s welcome.

“Many times, people appointed themselves my ‘adoptive parents’ and insisted on buying me shirts or sarongs which I wore to please them,” he said.

“So far, I have visited 26 Tamil schools to instil patriotism and disseminate information about the Jalur Gemilang.”

Also present at the concert on Sunday were Minnal FM head M. Raja Sekaran, Penang MIC chairman Datuk P.K. Subbaiyah, deputy chairman L. Krishnan and state Youth chief J. Dhinakaran.

Johnson was selected from among 20 DJs at the radio station by listeners for the Kembara Merdeka tour.

It was launched by MIC president and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk G. Palanivel at Angkasapuri in Kuala Lumpur.

He left with only the clothes he was wearing and was barred from making calls from his handphone — he was given only RM10 to call the station if he needed help.

He was also required to travel only by bus from town to town, and was not allowed to stay in hotels but at the homes of the radio station’s random call-in listeners.

From Angkasapuri, Johnson moved southward to Seremban, then to Malacca, Segamat, Kluang, Kulai, Johor Baru and Kota Tinggi.

He then travelled to the east coast and northern states. He went to Mersing, Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Baru, Grik, Pengkalan Hulu, Kulim, Sungai Petani, Alor Setar, Langkawi, and Arau.

He reached George Town on Friday before going to Butterworth and left for Kuala Kangsar on Monday.

“I also travelled in lorries driven by listeners who contacted me after calling the radio station,” he said.

“While at an oil palm plantation in Kota Baru, a family offered me tea when I arrived.

“They later showed me the yellow coloured water which they drink daily, as they do not have treated water supply at the estate,” said Johnson.

He said he suffered diarrhoea and fever on several days of his journey but he had mentally prepared for such problems.

Raja Sekaran said the tour was aimed at building unity among the Indian community, creating a close rapport between the station and its listeners, and creating a knowledgeable society.

Johnson is scheduled to return to Angkasapuri on Sept 16 for the Malaysia Day celebrations.

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