With his deep Terengganu accent, fruit seller, Sam Ooi is eagerly looking forward to Malaysia Day on September 16.
Not just to celebrate the nation’s glory, but also his and his son’s birthdays. Both Sam, 66 and his son, Eddy were born on Sept 16, 1954 and 1984 respectively.
Sam is such a patriotic Malaysia that even his name stands for Saya Anak Malaysia.
“Each year, we eagerly look forward to Sept 16 with much excitement and vigour to celebrate our birthdays, in our own small way.
“No big parties, more so during this Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown,” Sam told The New Straits Times.
Sam who runs his fruit stall in Kuala Terengganu said he was just nine years old when an independent Malaya joined hands with Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah to form Malaysia in 1963.
“It took me quite a while to comprehend Malaysia Day as the country (Malaya) had just six years ago on Aug 31, 1957 obtained its independence (from Britain). I was then even younger at three years old,” he said.
Sam had little difficulty in explaining the difference between Independence Day and Malaysia Day to his family and friends.
Sam explained how he tried to explain how countries like India celebrated their Republic Day (on Jan 26) when its constitution came into effect, as against Independence Day (when it obtained independence from Britain on Aug 15, 1947).
He added that it had been a long journey since he left school in 1969 after completing Form Three at SM Kepala Batas, Penang.
“My family was struggling to make ends meet at that time and my father Ooi Ah Swee used to run a small goldsmith shop. I was the fourth among four boys and five girls and tried my hand at odd jobs for two years to help supplement the family’s income.
“Then, at 17-years, I joined the Singapore Armed Forces in 1972 as an apprentice to become an outboard motor mechanic. After three years, and armed with some skills, I quit to return to my hometown to work with a workshop,” said Ooi.
Then, ten years later on Aug 31, 1985, Ooi paid a visit to his sister’s family in Kuala Terengganu and ventured out in the textile business for a year.
“But business was not that encouraging and soon I got an offer to manage the Kedai Kasut Karim at Kampung Tiong. I have remained in Kuala Terengganu ever since,” said Ooi, who later started his own business selling fruits 10 years ago.