EUROFILE BY CHOI TUCK WO
For the Malaysian community in Europe, the Merdeka celebrations often extend well beyond the Aug 31 historic date.
That’s hardly surprising, considering that some Malaysian missions hold their National Day receptions in early September, just after the summer holidays.
But whether the occasion was celebrated on Aug 31 or otherwise, the patriotic spirit was still very much alive among the Malaysians despite their being so far away from home.
Indeed, many took the opportunity to rekindle old friendships as well as promote Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage, ethnic diversity and exotic cuisine to their foreign guests.
In LONDON, for instance, four Britons were conferred federal awards during a special ceremony just before the 48th National Day reception at the Malaysian High Commission in Belgrave Square.
Three of them – Prof Datuk Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, Supt (rtd) Simon Hutchison and Supt (rtd) Patrick William Giles – received their awards from High Commissioner Datuk Abdul Aziz Mohamed, while the late Supt Peter Hugh Wright-Nooth’s award was received by his daughter Kathy.
Sir Elihu, who was counsel in the Sipadan and Ligitan case which Malaysia won in 2000, and who was also involved in the Pulau Batu Putih suit, received the Panglima Jasa Negara (PJN) award.
Hutchison, who has been chairman of the Royal Malaysian Police Former Officers’ Association UK since 2000, was presented with the Johan Setia Mahkota (JSM) award.
Both Giles and Wright-Nooth, who were involved in numerous anti-terrorist operations since joining the Malaysian police force in 1948, received the Kesatria Mangku Negara (KMN) awards.
Wright-Nooth’s last post was as Ipoh OCPD before his transfer to the Ugandan police in 1956. He, however, died in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in June this year.
Later, Abdul Aziz played host to more than 400 guests, including members of the diplomatic corps, top British businessmen and the Malaysian community at the Merdeka reception.
The guests, including Westminster Mayor Tim Joiner and Bracknell Forest Mayor Jacqui Ryder, were treated to a sumptuous spread of Malaysian delicacies such as satay, curry puff, poh piah and ayam goreng.
Across the English channel in PARIS, a National Day reception, a Malaysian Bazaar, Merdeka Golf Tournament and a Bowling Competition were held over several days to mark the occasion.
More than 250 guests, including the US Ambassador to France Craig Stapleton, senior French government officials and captains of industry attended the reception at Concorde La Fayette Hotel.
Malaysian Ambassador to France Datuk Hamidah Mohd Yusoff was on hand to receive the guests, who included Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui.
Chin was then leading a 30-member delegation on an economic and technical mission to France, Italy and Germany to promote rubber and rubber products.
The highlight was a special recital by accomplished singer and pianist Datin May Lee Leong, who entertained the guests to a repertoire of Malaysian numbers such as Tan Sri P. Ramlee’s Getaran Jiwa and several English and French classical songs.
Those present were also treated to a variety of Malaysian food such as satay, curry puff, mee goreng, poh piah and kuih bakar.
The Malaysian Bazaar at the ambassador’s residence, Rumah Malaysia, was well attended too, attracting more than 250 guests. They included foreign diplomats as well as the French and international communities in Paris.
The foreign guests had a great time sampling exquisite Malaysian fare such as nasi lemak, satay, roti canai, murtabak, vadai and ais kacang.
The atmosphere of ethnic diversity was clearly evident with Africans, Asians, Europeans and Latin Americans mingling freely with the Malaysian community.
Both the Merdeka golf tournament and bowling competition also attracted good response. The participants comprised Asean ambassadors, Malaysian embassy officials and their guests as well as members of the Malaysian Association in France (MAF).
In BERNE, more than 200 people – including the local Malaysian community and those residing in Basel and Zurich – attended the National Day reception at the Novotel Bea Expo Hotel.
Malaysian Ambassador to Switzerland Datuk Ismail Mustapha was kept busy entertaining the guests, who included senior officials from Swiss ministries and government agencies as well as the Swiss business community.
Members of the diplomatic corps, especially those from Asian, Latin American and European embassies, were also present, along with Malaysia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Datuk Hsu King Bee.
They were treated to traditional Malaysian cakes and food, including murtabak with chicken curry, nasi goreng and bee hoon.
Other societies such as the Malaysian-Swiss Association, Persatuan Anak-Anak Melayu Swiss and the Malaysian Association of Geneva also organised their own Merdeka functions.
In The Hague, more than 400 people attended the Merdeka reception at Malaysian ambassador Datuk Noor Faridah Ariffin’s official residence in Vassenar.
The guests comprised senior Dutch officials, diplomats, judges and representatives from the international courts and tribunals based in The Hague.
A special reception was held later the same day for about 200 Malaysians, including those working with multinational companies such as Shell, those with own businesses or who have settled down after marrying Dutch nationals.
The guests were served with an array of Malaysian delicacies including satay, bee hoon and curry puff.
The overwhelming response towards the National Day functions clearly demonstrated the Malaysian embassies’ success not only in promoting the nationalistic fervour but also in forging closer bilateral relations with their host countries.