Stall and proud: Kuantan hawker may be Malaysia’s most patriotic man during Merdeka

NSTP/FARIZUL HAFIZ AWANGNSTP/FARIZUL HAFIZ AWANG

KUANTAN: For the past 15 years, food stall operator Wan Rahimi Wan Mokhtar has never failed to participate in the state-level National Day procession here.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced the government to call off plans for the Merdeka parade this year.

Despite this, Wan Rahimi’s spirit was not dampened – and he commemorated the auspicious day in his unique way.

The 58-year-old distributed 100 mini Jalur Gemilang to customers, including young children, who dined at his food stall in Tanjung Lumpur, here.

Wan Rahimi, fondly known as “Mie Merdeka”, said despite there being no National Day parade this year, nothing could stop him from displaying his patriotism.

“Since there are standard operating procedures that have to be followed due to the pandemic, Merdeka celebrations this year are celebrated modestly. So I decided to distribute the mini-flags, hoping that the younger generation will become more patriotic and respect those who had struggled for the country’s independence.

“I even drew a mural featuring the National Day theme ‘Malaysia Prihatin’ (at my premises) so that my customers can take pictures and enjoy other Merdeka-themed paintings, including an archway painted with the word ‘Merdeka’,” he said when met today.

Wan Rahimi, whose antique Mini Cooper was picked to lead the state-level National Day procession last year, said he has participated in the parade here since 2003.

“I missed the parade in 2007 when only selected vintage cars were picked to join the parade, and this year due to the pandemic. My 1970 Mini Cooper, decorated with various sizes of the Jalur Gemilang and stickers bearing images of all Malaysian Prime Ministers on its front bonnet, is a regular at the parade.

“People would take photographs of the car and some would ask me to pose for pictures alongside the vehicle. This year, I painted and decorated the car and my Suzuki van with the Jalur Gemilang colours so that my customers or passers-by can take pictures,” said Wan Rahimi, who was clad in clothes in the colours of the Jalur Gemilang.

Wan Rahimi, whose premises were picked to represent Pahang on five occasions in the national-level Merdeka Decoration contest, said he has been decorating the premises for the special occasion for the past 19 years.

“Each year, I try new ideas to brighten up the premises. Some people even accused me of being insane, as I had spent thousands of ringgit on the decorations. But I am not bothered…. as long as my health allows me to run my food business, I will do this as it gives me a different sense of patriotism,” he said, adding that the pandemic should not be a reason for Malaysians to be less patriotic this year.

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