KUALA LUMPUR: In what is probably his last rallying cry as the Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin has hailed the national sportsmen as “magicians” who can conjure up uniting moments for the country.
The 42-year-old Rembau MP, who will vacate the position he has held since May 2013 before the 14th General Election, said he was honoured to have held the portfolio during one of Malaysia’s finest eras in sports.
In a 40-minute morale-lifting message at the National Athletes’ Assembly yesterday, Khairy recapped some of the notable successes secured by the national sports heroes during his five-year term.
These include the Malaysian contingent’s best-ever achievements at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and Paralympics, and the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games and Asean Para Games.
Last year also saw several Malaysians becoming world champions, especially in two Olympic sports — Azizulhasni Awang in track cycling and Cheong Jun Hoong in diving.
Khairy likened these outstanding feats as magic as they have brought Malaysians together as one through sports.
“In my Instagram account’s biography (which has 846,000 followers), it wasn’t written Youth and Sports Minister. I put there ‘Minister for Future & Magic’ instead,” Khairy told the big crowd of 470 athletes and 70 coaches at Hotel Renaissance here yesterday.
“The future is because I’m taking care of youth portfolio.
“The youth are the future and I’m responsible for the future of our nation.
“The other one is magic. Many asked if I were a magician. I said no, but I look after magicians. I look after our athletes, who to me are magicians. They produce magic on a daily basis.
“No other group of people can unite the nation the way our sporting heroes do. I couldn’t thank all of you enough and I’m so proud to have witnessed your success in my last five years as Youth and Sports Minister.”
Khairy, however, was quick to remind the athletes to not rest on their laurels.
He added that it was time for them to play a bigger role in realising Malaysia’s dream of becoming a sporting nation by getting actively involved in the ministry’s grassroots initiatives such as the National Sports Day, Fit Malaysia, National Football Development Programme (NFDP) and Junior Cycling Malaysia (JCM).
“Over the last five years, we have come a long way in getting Malaysians to live actively and participate in sports... but that’s not enough,” he said.
“I need all of you to be the community icons. You guys are the last piece of puzzle to this big mission.
“For instance, I hope to see our professional footballers go down to the field and grace the NFDP programme, and top cyclists such as Azizulhasni, Fatehah (Mustapa and Shah Firdaus (Sahrom) doing the same with the JCM.”