Video of envoy to Cambodia performing silat wows Malaysians

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): As Malaysia's Ambassador to Cambodia, constantly performing his diplomatic duties while clad in formal attire, Eldeen Husaini Mohd Hashim would not normally strike the casual observer as an accomplished silat exponent.

His hidden skills only surfaced after a video of him performing a silat dance during National Day celebrations at the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh recently went viral on social media, catching the attention of users and winning him praises.

The video of Eldeen Husaini wearing black traditional baju Melayu together with a sampin and tengkolok (headgear) while performing silat has garnered more than 200,000 views to date.

User Johanda Jarili wrote: “This is good, the Malays will not (diminish) in the world. It would be nice if silat is performed at official events.”

Another user, Hamran Sarif, also commented: “This is what we want. We are great. No matter where you go, culture and traditions will follow."

When contacted, Eldeen Husaini said the performance was to offer something different in celebrating National Day apart from showcasing Malay culture.

“Each year, it is a tradition to celebrate National Day starting with the raising of the Malaysian flag, singing Negaraku, speeches, prayers and meals.

"But this time, I wanted to do something different so that our guests could feel the excitement of the celebration.

“It is even more relevant now. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, big events involving people gathering are no longer allowed because it is a risk to health,” he said.

The National Day celebration in Phnom Penh was done according to standard operating procedures (SOP) and limited to just 50 guests.

Eldeen Husaini said he was appointed Ambassador to Cambodia on April 1, 2019. Initially, even his staff did not know he was a silat exponent until rehearsals were held.

“During rehearsal, after singing the Negaraku, the raising of Jalur Gemilang should follow.

"But I made a request to the organiser to play the gendang (drum) silat and I began my movements.

"There were some who asked if the ambassador himself should perform. It has never been done before but I said I wanted to surprise everybody and I asked them to keep it a secret.

“On the actual day, I again reminded the master of ceremonies to just mention a special performance by an invited guest. All the attendees were wondering who that person was.

“When my staff came to hand the tengkolok to me, I began to perform the silat movements and that surprised the guests.

"Only then did they realise that the ambassador himself was performing. The situation became a lot more fun, especially to those watching it for the first time,” he said.

Born in Kampung Baru, Eldeen Husaini admitted that he was nervous at first because he was worried that he could not pull it off as it had been a while since he last performed.

In fact, he had never performed in public except for his family members.

“I started learning Silat Gayung Fatani at the age of 14 until I became a trainer at 19. After that, I stopped to further my studies overseas. During that time, I trained by myself so that I would not forget the moves.

“There are those who asked if I trained long and hard for the National Day performance but I said no. I just rehearsed.

"I believe other silat exponents would understand. When you have trained long enough, the art becomes part of you. So when the music is played, (you know) you can do it,” he said.

The former student of St John's said after his performance, Cambodians and foreign guests said they were interested in silat and wanted to learn the moves.

“Most of them had never seen silat and they thought it was like other traditional dances, but I told them silat is a Malay art of self-defence and the traditional dance is just a branch (of it), based on silat movements,” said Eldeen Husaini.

He added that he plans to invite silat associations in Malaysia to give more exposure to the art in Cambodia in the future. – Bernama

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