New Year Countdown reports by: FARIDAH BEGUM, ZULKIFLI ABDUL RAHMAN, RENEE CHOONG and DALILAH IBRAHIM. Photos by: UU BAN LEONG, S.S. KANESAN, A. MALEX YAHAYA, ART CHEN and RAY LEE
KUALA LUMPUR: Tens of thousands of people jammed key venues in cities and towns across the nation to usher in 2003 with glittering shows of lights, music and fireworks.
Revellers, including foreign visitors, sang and danced with local celebrities in outdoor concerts and numerous indoor parties leading up to the New Year countdown.
In the capital city alone, there were three huge gatherings – at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), Dataran Merdeka and Bintang Walk.
Nearby, Genting Highlands held a musical extravaganza and an indoor fireworks display watched by thousands of holidaymakers and revellers.
Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife, Datin Seri Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, who arrived at the KLCC at 10.30pm, joined thousands of people at a spectacular showcase at the esplanade.
Among the popular artistes who performed were the husband-and-wife duo, Ajai and Nurul, the Alleycats, Exists and Amy Mastura.
The Prime Minister, who will end a 22-year stay at the country’s helm in October, told reporters that he hoped and prayed that there would be continuous peace and prosperity in the country.
To a question by a foreign journalist, he said the presence of people of various races at the event showed that there was unity among them.
He was seen beaming at the joyous multi-racial crowd that watched a dramatic fireworks display against the backdrop of the world-famous Petronas Twin Towers after 10 international skydivers leapt from the 60th and 73rd floors of the 452m nickel-plated skyscrapers about five minutes before midnight amidst thunderous cheers and applause of the spectators.
At Bukit Bintang, a street party at the glittering avenue kicked off the annual year-end celebration and the countdown to the New Year.
At Dataran Merdeka, more than 100 members of the Satria Gti Club, who returned here from a six-day trip to Phuket, Thailand, gathered in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad building to mark the official end of their journey. They joined the massive crowd in the celebrations.
The Genting Highlands' bash at the First World Hotel, themed “World Carnival New Year Countdown”, showcased a Brazilian Samba Carnival, Venetian Carnival, Mardi Gras Carnival and the Survival Challenge contest located at the hotel’s Times Square.
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