ALOR GAJAH: A Melaka exco member has emerged as the champion in a traditional fishing competition after he caught the biggest catfish using his bare hands at a muddy irrigation canal in Kuala Sungga, Tebong here.
State health, human resources and unity committee chairman Ngwe Hee Sem joined villagers from Solok Batu Dinding in the competition that saw multiracial participation.
The Machap Jaya assemblyman got dirty by wading into the canal to scoop his prized catch weighing almost 10kg, from a mud hole.
“This is my first experience of using such an art of fishing and I guess it was sheer luck winning the top prize in the first attempt.
"The event turned out to be so exciting although at first, I was a bit nervous at the thought of getting down the muddy site," he said when interviewed here at the end of the event on Sunday (May 7).
Ngwe, who had earlier launched the event, said village folk used to scour for catfish using the same method back in the old days.
He said this fishing style was also popular at padi fields and a highly physically demanding method.
"This traditional fishing activity has evolved into an exciting traditional sports event and I plan to hold more such events," he said.
Ngwe said dozens of villagers had joined the event including from other races and even foreigners.
"Organising this kind of competition is seen as a positive way of building stronger relationships among villagers," he added.
The second runner-up in the competition Nur Kholiq Ahmad Toreq said he never expected to be next to an assemblyman in the canal.
The 31-year-old Indonesian from Central Java said he took part in the event after being told by his employer.
“I have been working in a rubber smallholding in Tebong for the past decade and the locals have been very kind to me," he said.
Nur Kholiq said he had made friends with locals from all races and regarded them as family.
Year Six pupil Amirul Affin Affandi said this was his first ever traditional fishing competition that he had joined.
"My dad always shared about how his ancestors used to catch catfish and I have experienced it today," said the 12-year-old.
Ten-year-old Mohamad Afis Hindra said he would be looking forward to competing in future events.
"I managed to get an eel today and I had fun competing," he said.