KUALA LUMPUR: Thomas Cup winner Datuk Yew Cheng Hoe vividly remembers receiving a Rolex watch from the late Tunku Abdul Rahman following the Malaysian team's remarkable win in 1967.
Fifty-six years later, Cheng Hoe and his teammates, who won the 1967 Thomas Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia, were honoured yet again.
This time, it is by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah at His Majesty's official birthday celebration held in Istana Negara on Monday (June 5).
Cheng Hoe, alongside his teammates, Datuk Teh Kew San, the late Datuk Ng Boon Bee, Datuk Billie Ng @ Ng Seow Meng, Datuk Tan Yee Khan @ Tan Ah Hing and Tan Aik Huang were bestowed the Darjah Kebesaran Panglima Jasa Negara (PJN) which carries the title 'Datuk'.
The 80-year-old said the recognition was the highest honour received by the team after the award by the first Prime Minister of Malaysia.
"We are grateful to His Majesty for remembering us after all these years and honouring all of us today. It was well worth the long wait," he told Bernama.
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Cheng Hoe, who played the first singles at the prestigious badminton team event back then, inspired his teammates to power through and win Malaysia's fourth title in the tournament, beating Indonesia 6-3 in the final.
He won a straight game against Indonesian Ferry Sonneville 15-9, 15-7 and the rest, as they say, is history.
Joining them in the sportsmen list was former Olympian Karu Selvaratnam. The Batu Gajah-born was also conferred PJN which carries the title 'Datuk' by His Majesty.
Karu, who took part in men's 400m hurdles and men's 4x400m in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, was a multi-talented athlete.
Apart from athletics, the 82-year-old captained the national cricket team as well as played hockey and badminton for the Malaysian Armed Forces from 1961 to 1973. – Bernama