Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today met the family of Salihin Ahmad and expressed the appreciation of the government and people at his sacrifice in selling his house to finance the participation of his daughters to compete in chess competitions abroad.
In the short meeting, after attending the ‘Inisiatif Negaraku’ event by Malaysia Airlines at Perdana Putra here today, Najib said Malaysia was proud of the achievements of Nur Anisah, 17 and Afiqah Zahra, seven, who competed in the under-17 year and under-seven year categories respectively at the 2017 World Schools Individual Chess Championship in Romania on April 22 to May 1.
Salihin, who is a Bahasa Melayu teacher at Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Udang, Klang was reportedly forced to sell his second house in Segamat, Johor for RM65,000 to take Afiqah Zahra and his eldest, Nur Anisah, to the competition due to the absence of sponsorship.
The prime minister said the sacrifices of Salihin and parents who sent their children to the competition would be appreciated via the related ministry.
“This is a commitment and determination of parents to their children. We will make sure such talents are nurtured and supported in the best possible manner, because, despite being individualistic in nature, it bears the name of ‘Negaraku Malaysia’,” he said.
“Congratulations, Cikgu Salihin and all Malaysian participants at the 2017 World Schools Individual Chess Championship,” Najib reiterated.
Honouring family and country
Salihin, 45, who is also a chess coach, said his two children trained a minimum of six hours a week among themselves, friends and the computers to participate in the nine-round international competition.
“Afiqah almost emerged champion but drew in the eight and nine rounds, and because her moves did not work out, she fell into fifth place in the world for the under-Seven Years category. The final two rounds were very important and I pressed her to win.
“She tried her level best. After round eight she went into a room and bawled her heart out in abject disappointment at her moves which did not pan out. But I see Afiqah has a big potential because her level of thinking in chess is far more mature,” he told reporters after a meeting with the prime minister.
Salihin said Nur Anisah, who won the ‘Woman Candidate Master’ title at the East Asian Chess Competition in South Korea, drew with team-mate, Vivien Ngieng in the under-17 years women category.
“I thank the prime minister for inviting us. He encouraged us to continue our effort to reap more successes and bring honour to Malaysia.
Nur Anisah said her parents’ sacrifices were huge and she wanted to excel at all chess competitions she would take part in to bring honour to her family and country at the international level.