Ten months following a successful goodwill expedition to Beijing, China, a delegation of media representatives under the Perak Media Sports and Welfare Club, led by the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, Datuk Akmar Hisham Mokhles, made a historic visit to India’s Golden Triangle.
Datuk Akmar serves as adviser to the media club. Also part of the delegation were representatives from the Ipoh City Council, Perak State Government, Perak Menteri Besar’s Office, Federal Government, non-government organisations and corporate sponsors such as Impiana Hotel Ipoh.
While the expedition to Beijing, China last year was undertaken in the wake of the first anniversary of the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 (MH370) and in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Malaysia and China, this cultural exchange expedition to India was no less serious or important.
This is because India boasts the second largest population in the world after China, at an estimated 1.3 billion people. At the current birth rate of fifty per day, the country will soon overtake China.
This delegation to the Golden Triangle of India, namely New Delhi – Agra – Jaipur, of which I was a member, made a courtesy call at the High Commission of Malaysia in New Delhi. We were received by His Excellency Datuk Naimun Ashakli Mohammad and his senior officers.
According to H.E. Datuk Naimun, there are about 5,000 Malaysian students in India pursuing medicine, dentistry, engineering, Information Technology and business courses. These are highly motivated individuals who have no time to spare to get involved in undesirable activities that would jeopardise the good name of their motherland.
Meanwhile, there are about a hundred other Malaysians who work in India, either with the Malaysian government or in multi-national corporations.
Said Datuk Naimun, “Malaysians who visit or transit India are advised to register themselves with the High Commission in New Delhi so that their welfare and safety could be monitored. This should be the standard procedure for all Malaysian travellers to any other country, not just India.
“Also, Malaysians who would like to visit India should check the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the latest advisories.”
During the press conference, Datuk Naimum also took the opportunity to share with the delegation the roles and functions of the High Commission as well as exchange views on the latest developments on Malaysia-India bilateral ties.
Following that official visit, the delegates visited popular tourist spots such as Agra Fort and Taj Mahal, distributing travel brochures of Malaysia as well as Perak, in a run-up to Visit Perak Year 2017.
Garbed in traditional costumes, all 42 members of the delegation presented themselves as junior ambassadors of the country, explaining to curious Indians the colourful cultures and traditions of the different races of Malaysia.
And that began our Cultural Exchange Programme by showing to the Indians the essence of 1 Malaysia. Many of them were interested to know about our country and people, and asked why we come in different skin tones.
True to the media club’s objective to do charitable work whenever possible, during our trip, copies of Al-Quran and Surah Yasin, which were sponsored by Restoran Ali Maju Sdn. Bhd. were donated to Shahi Jama Mosque in Old Delhi.
For many Malaysians, India is a country that is not one of the top countries to take a vacation in. And so, this trip was a tremendous eye-opener for us where we witnessed for ourselves how the poor live by the side of the roads, making a living by hawking their wares, usually souvenirs.
Hungry children beg for handouts. To help or not is a difficult decision to make. And then there are some kids who just want to earn some money, and not take your money for nothing.
Returning to Malaysia, and later to Ipoh, after five days in India, one is enveloped by a sense of peace. No more senseless honking throughout the road trips. Also, the beautiful greenery of our cityscape is a sight to behold. Let’s not forget about the fresh, clean air!
A trip to India and back makes us appreciate the life we have in Malaysia so much more. Seriously, there is nothing much to complain about, compared to the desperate destitution of the majority of the poor population in India.
This expedition was made possible by the hardworking committee of Perak Media Sports and Welfare Club. Perak Media Sports and Welfare Club or Kelab Sukan dan Kebajikan Media Perak (KSKMP) is one of the most active media clubs in Malaysia. Therefore, although it is a state-level club, it is a club that is recognised to represent the media of the country.
The club, established in 2008, is committed in a range of activities, particularly charitable programmes, besides looking into the welfare of members and their family. Prior to last year’s expedition to Beijing, the club had organised trips to Australia, Indonesia and other parts of Malaysia.
Current Club President is Wan Asrudi Wan Hasan, bureau chief of Harian Metro Perak.
All photos by Michael Leong Photo.
Event: Cultural Exchange Programme Media Malaysia & India
Venue: New Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – New Delhi, India
Date: 17th – 21st January, 2016
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