The 9th ASEAN Para Games was officially declared open by Prime Minister YAB Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in a glittering ceremony at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Sunday night (Sept 17).
YAB Datuk Seri Najib was accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Paduka Rosmah Mansor, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Youth and Sports Minister YB Brig Gen Khairy Jamaluddin.
Dignitaries present included Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Malaysian Paralympic Council (MPM) President SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin and MPM patron Tun Jeanne Abdullah.
An estimated 40,000 people filled up the National Stadium hours before the opening ceremony. The night was lit up with display of lights and performances depicting the various cultures that bring together the people of Southeast Asian nations.
The introduction of Malaysia’s famed singer-song writer Yunaris Zarai or popularly known as Yuna brought loud cheers from the terraces as she rendered her song entitled “Rescue”.
Other performers were from The Beautiful Gate Foundation, Malaysian Down Syndrome Society, United Voice Self Advocacy Society of Persons with Learning Disabilities Selangor & Kuala Lumpur and Pusat Penjagaan Kanak-Kanak Cacat Taman Megah accompanied by dancers from Farah Sulaiman Dancing Troupe.
National Paralympian archer Hasihin Sanawi, flanked by four peers, carried the torch into the stadium and proceeded towards a trough. After lighting the trough, it was then lifted up via a pulley system using the physical strength of athletes to the top of the cauldron in the form of a giant torch.
A vibrant pyrotechnic display followed the cauldron's lighting.
The oath-taking ceremony was led by women powerlifter Sharifah Raudzah Syed Akil and Teo Kian Joo, the technical advisor of badminton.
The 9th edition of the Games closes on Sept 23 – bringing together some 1,421 athletes from 11 countries, namely Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Timor Leste and hosts Malaysia.
At stake are 368 gold medals from 16 sports, which is the highest number of sports for competition at the Games.