KUALA LUMPUR: Thomas Cup winner Yew Cheng Hoe vividly remembers receiving a Rolex watch from then prime minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, following the national badminton team’s victory against Indonesia in 1967.
Fifty-six years later, Cheng Hoe and his teammates who won the Thomas Cup in Jakarta were honoured yet again.
This time, it was by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, at the King’s official birthday celebration held at Istana Negara.
Cheng Hoe, alongside former teammates Teh Kew San, Billy Ng, Tan Yee Khan, Tan Aik Huang and the late Ng Boon Bee, were bestowed the Panglima Jasa Negara (PJN), which carries the title “Datuk”.
The 80-year-old said the recognition was the highest honour received by the team after the special reward of a Rolex watch given by the first prime minister.
“We are grateful to His Majesty for remembering us after all these years and honouring all of us today. It was well worth the long wait,” he told Bernama.
Cheng Hoe, who played the first singles at the prestigious badminton team event, inspired his teammates to power through and win Malaysia’s fourth title in the tournament, beating Indonesia 6-3 in the final.
He defeated Indonesian Ferry Sonneville 15-9, 15-7 and the rest, as they say, was history.
Joining them in the sportsmen list was former Olympian Karu Selvaratnam. The Batu Gajah-born was also conferred the PJN award.
Karu, who took part in the men’s 400m hurdles and men’s 4x400m in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, is a multi-talented former athlete.
Apart from athletics, the 82-year-old captained the national cricket team as well as played hockey and badminton for the armed forces from 1961 to 1973.