The colourful ceremony which mesmerized nearly 1,400 students from 12 universities began with the singing of the national anthem of three countries, namely Indonesia (Indonesia Raya), Thailand (Phleng Chat Thai) and Malaysia (Negaraku).
Representing the Kedah Menteri Besar, Yang Berhormat Dato' Seri Mukhriz Tun Mahathir to officiate the opening ceremony was the Kedah State Executive Committee Member cum Chairman of the State Religious Affairs, Siamese Community Affairs, Tourism and Heritage and Public Works Committee, Yang Berhormat Dato' Mohd Rawi Abdul Hamid.
In his welcoming speech, Dato' Mohd Rawi described the organisation of the IMT-GT Carnival as timely and befitting as each nation is socially, politically and economically unique in itself hence these differences should be celebrated and not be the reason for societies to live apart and isolated.
According to him, the carnival can afford students with a platform to unite through the various events featured regardless of religion, ethnicity, beliefs and limitations that may prevent interactions from taking place.
"Unity in diversity is the concept of ‘unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation ' that has shifted the focus from unity based on tolerance, physical, cultural, linguistic, social, religious, political, ideological and / or psychological differences solely towards a more complex unity based on the understanding which enriches the human interaction.
"I hope that through sports events, cultural events and student seminars, these students will develop into individuals with high self-esteem, able to bring people of all races together and offer experiences and exposure to other students about the culture of the society and its folks, its knowledge culture as well as the work culture belonging to the three countries involved," he said.
He expressed hopes that the carnival will give rise to achieving unity and solidarity amongst the participants in particular.
The President of the IMT-GT Council, Prof. Dato' Dr. Adnan Hussein also expressed hope that all the participants who took part in the carnival activities will be able to meet the objectives of the IMT-GT Varsity Carnival in keeping with this year's theme, 'Unity in Diversity'.
He also conveyed his appreciation and gratitude to Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) as the host of the 17th IMT-GT Varsity Carnival as well as commended its determination and success in organising the carnival this year.
Meanwhile, UUM Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student Affairs and Alumni), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Abdul Malek Abdul Karim, who represented the Vice- Chancellor said UUM is truly honoured and excited to be given the opportunity and the confidence to host the 17th IMT-GT Varsity Carnival.
"As the host, UUM is responsible for ensuring that all the events proceed smoothly and I also hope that all participants taking part will always adhere to the values and the spirit of tolerance, mutual understanding and respect when competing.
"Winning or losing is not the main thing but friendship and respect, that's the ASEAN way and augured well with the theme this year," he said.
Also present at the ceremony were the Bukit Kayu Hitam Assemblyman, Yang Berhormat Dato' Ahmad Zaini Japar; Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Prof. Dr. Noor Azizi Ismail, UUM officials as well as the heads of the 12 delegations participating in the various events.
Translated by Mahaliza Mahadhir
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