After about two weeks of competitions, the 29th South East Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur 2017 has finally came to an end. The closing ceremony was held yesterday in the same venue, Bukit Jalil National Stadium on 30th August 2017. That’s also the Merdeka Eve (a day before Malaysia’s 60th anniversary of independence).
The ceremony fell short of excitement as there isn’t any performance by the next host country, Philippines. The host country of the next games has to deliver a performance in the usual tradition of the closing ceremony. However, Philippines had only decided to host it not long ago, they had no preparation to deliver a performance in that short notice, and that they wished to save the budget for the games’ hosting two years later. Hence, a no show from them. It was just a simple and formal handover ceremony from Malaysia to Philippines. This games also see among the worst performance by Philippines as they only won 24 gold medals, well below the 50-gold medal target they set earlier. Well, I’m sure they are going to do much better in the next edition as it is going to be hosted by them. Home advantage.
Same goes to Malaysia this time. Home advantage. And adding that with some obvious biased decisions by the judges in several sports in this games. The end result is an extraordinary victory for Malaysia in this games. We collected 145 gold medals, 92 silver medals, and 86 bronze medals, for a total of 323 medals. That’s more than enough to top the medal tally (Thailand came in second with 72 golds, we get more than double of that). Our last biggest achievement in this games was way back in 2001 (also held in Kuala Lumpur) when we won 111 gold medals. We set 111-golds as our target this time too and we accomplished far beyond that. Despite all the biased judgements and organizing sports that Malaysia is good at (typical for any host countries), I have to still admit that Malaysia really did a good job here. Well, it’s quite easy to win medals here. We have to move on after a word of congratulations! We have to raise our bar high by aiming to win more medals in bigger games like Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games.
Back to the closing ceremony. The ceremony was very boring. There is no cultural performance by the next host country (Philippines) as stated earlier, and there is only a very short performance by Malaysia to end the games. Other than that, it was all the formal stuff (handover, extinguishing of flame, national anthem, parade of athletes, etc). After that, the ceremony is dedicated as a Merdeka countdown celebration with over an hour of boring singing. The song choices are very poor (all Malay songs with no universal appeal) that did not highlight the diversity of the nation. How do you expect people from other countries to enjoy this? Even I as a Malaysian do not like this too. I thought there would be a grand countdown to Merdeka but that is not happening. Instead, we got a speech from the Prime Minister which is a happy news for all Malaysians too because he announced next Monday as an additional public holiday to mark the success of the country in this SEA Games. I think that’s the only one good thing that comes out from his mouth. Well, that holiday didn’t mean anything to me as I’m now here in Australia for my study. Sad…
All my people back in my country is enjoying this long 5-day of holiday combining Independence Day, Hari Raya Haji, the weekend, and this one extra special public holiday. I’m jealous of that. After the Prime Minister’s speech that ended past 12am, there is no official countdown to this historic day to my major disappointment. Even the fireworks that end the ceremony are not much. Everything in the opening ceremony is much better. This closing ceremony is like ‘well, we shall end the games by just showing how proud we are to be the overall champion of the games…that’s it’. No effort, no creativity, and no ‘wow’. This also belittles the participants from other countries and foreign audiences.
There would be this 9th ASEAN Para Games (sports for the disabled) to be held next month. After that, we say goodbye to KL (still a good host despite all the negative issues like wrong flags, biased judges, bad bus drivers, bad supporters’ attitudes, etc). Next SEA Games, Manila 2019!
(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)