SPEECH BY THE CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG SPONSORSHIP SIGNING CEREMONY BETWEEN CIMB AND PENANG STATE GOVERNMENT FOR THE 29TH PENANG WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2.30 PM, THURSDAY, 27 FEBRUARY 2014 AT THE GARDENS SKY LOUNGE, MIDVALLEY, KUALA LUMPUR
“SIMPLY THE BEST!”
As we are all know, the World’s No 1 woman squash player is none other than Penang born and bred Dato’ Nicol David. And last year, instead of being given the chance to claim her title as the World Women’s Champion, the 2013 Women’s World Squash Championship had to be cancelled following Hong Kong and Egypt’s decision to not host the event.
The Penang State Government then sought out the Women’s Squash Association [WSA] to host this premier championship to present our seven-time world champion the privilege to heat up the court by winning the coveted crown in her own hometown. Furthermore, she will be joined by two other Penangites – Low Wee Wern and Vanessa Raj.
Low Wee Wern is currently ranked at 6th place while the young Vanessa Raj who is ranked 102 is a wild card entry.
As this is a premier event which will feature the ‘crème de la crème’ in the world of women’s squash, the total cost for this whole championship is about RM1 million. And thanks to private corporations, we will see this championship draw out the best of our players, and together make it a world championship to remember not just by the squash fraternity but also all Malaysians and Penangites alike.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Thomas Chan, property developer of Nusmetro, who has been an active and selfless supporter of squash and is the organizer of this world championship. Our grateful thanks as well to CIMB Group who have come on board as the title sponsor. Together let us make this event the sporting event of the year in Malaysia.
CIMB have always supported squash and have a proven track record behind them, with notable involvements being the main sponsors of the KL and Malaysian Open squash championships since 2005.
They were also the main sponsors for Squash’s Olympic 2020 bid by the World Squash Federation (WSF), which unfortunately failed to garner enough votes to be included in the Olympic Games during the International Olympic Committee (IOC) session last September.
CIMB has actively played an important role in the development of squash in Malaysia as part of their corporate commitment. It is under the CIMB Junior Development Programme that several talented Malaysian juniors such as Ng Eain Yow, Aifa Azman and S. Sivasangari were able to shine at the British Junior Open. Indeed CIMB under its indefatigable Executive Chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Tun Abdul Razak is a loyal friend of Malaysian squash.
In order to attract the crowd other than squash enthusiasts, multiple events will be held in conjunction with this world championship. For starters, there will be a ‘Torch Run and Bike’ event, which is a 3km fun run and 10km fun ride around the sPICE before the opening ceremony programme proper starts on the evening of March 18.
Similar to the Olympics Torch run, participants will relay a burning torch before Dato’ Nicol and myself bring it across the finishing line to light up the opening ceremony of the event.
The opening ceremony itself promises to be a grand affair, with a target of 5,000 spectators. That would be a first for a squash event. There will also be various showcases such as Vertical Walkway, one-of-a-kind 3D Projection Mapping on the exterior of the sPice Arena, to be followed by Fireworks Display during the opening ceremony.
It will be a carnival-like affair throughout the tournament as there will be various entertainment programmes for the crowd, both the squash enthusiasts and those new to the sport.
An added attraction to this already action packed week is a car and property carnival that will be run concurrently. Malaysian sports buff can also expect former Formula One driver Alex Yoong to make an appearance with a performance of his own.
I believe that with Mr Thomas Chan’s vision and planning, the 29th edition of the World Women Squash Championship is guaranteed to be significantly different from the previous years.
I hope that each one of you will treat this as invitation to come to Penang and witness this premier event for yourselves. Let us show the world that Malaysians are capable of bringing a world class event to a dizzying height that is truly worthy of its name.
Once again, I would like to thank CIMB for stepping up to the plate as the title sponsor and of course a big thank you to Mr Thomas Chan for putting in so much resources and effort in ensuring that this event will be recorded in the history of squash championships as ‘Simply The Best!’