Category: Tourism News

Big turnout for birthday bash

By Chong Chee Seong

MORE than 20,000 people recently lined along the banks of the Muar river and on Sultan Ismail bridge, here, during an event held in conjunction with the birthday of the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar.

MUAR: The bridge, one of the town’s main thoroughfares and a landmark, was closed to traffic for 14 hours to make way for stalls to be placed upon it.

The event, on the final day of the five-day carnival, received such an overwhelming response that it may even become an annual affair.

Sultan Ibrahim, who was clearly happy to see the huge turnout, posed a question to the crowd on whether they would like the bridge to be closed every year for his birthday celebration.

To this, the crowds of families and the young and old alike responded with a thunderous “Yes!”

Later, Sultan Ibrahim went to nearby Dataran Tanjung Emas, along the Muar river, to join the people in watching a fireworks display.

Also present were Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman and Johor police chief, Datuk Mokhtar Shariff.

Many Muar folk observed that it was the first time in their memory that the bridge had been closed to traffic.

More than 60 stalls were selling an assortment of goods from herbal, traditional and cottage industry products to home-made clothes, household appliances and ornamental jewellery.

Other traders sold food and drinks on both sides of the 500-metre bridge’s dual carriageway.

Muar district officer Abdul Rahman Muhamed Dewam, who also chaired the committee for the celebration, said the bridge closure was proposed by the Sultan himself as a birthday wish.

“The Sultan wanted the people to have a panoramic view of the event, and the fireworks display at Dataran Tanjung Emas,” he said.

Chris Lee Ching Yong, who is special officer appointed by the Johor Menteri Besar, said the crowd of more than 20,000 people proved the event was a success.

He said this created another history when the bridge, officially opened for use on April 15,1967, was closed and transformed into a promenade for people from all walks of life.

“The huge crowd jostling around the bridge will further strengthen the racial unity and harmony in Muar. It will also promote the town’s tourism industry,” he said.

A teacher, M. Anbalagan, said the open-air celebration on the bridge displayed the strong love of the people towards their ruler.

“It is an example of the 1Malaysia concept which is all about uniting the various races together,” he said.

Nor’adlin Abdul Rahman, a tailor specialising in hand-made clothes for men and women, said sales of her items were encouraging. She had also received numerous orders.

Jason Wong, who set up a stall to sell watches, said he had never seen so many people sitting on the central divider of the bridge. He was heartened to see the families with children in tow enjoying themselves.

A final-year mechanical engineering undergraduate from the Penang Universiti Teknologi Mara, Nor Shahbilah Nor Tuah, said she was delighted to have helped her friends to sell keychains, umbrellas, mugs, lighters and stickers at a stall on the bridge.

“In a way, I got to learn about marketing in a practical way. It was a carnival atmosphere and it was a nice experience for myself too,” she said, adding that she planned to invite her varsity friends over here if there was a similar event next year.

Workers from the Muar Municipal Council were also on hand to ensure the area was kept clean throughout the event. The local authority deployed a 30-man task force and set up 50 dustbins for upkeep of the environment.

Read more: Big turnout for birthday bash – Johor – New Straits Times

Category: Tourism News