GEORGE TOWN - It was a touching moment when 26-year-old mechanical design engineer Tan Ju-Lien popped the question to his girlfriend Khoo Mei Yee at the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Bridge.
The proposal, made during the 56th Merdeka Ride yesterday, was witnessed by Tan's father, friends of the couple and passers-by.
Tan said he decided to propose on the bridge as he and his girlfriend were both Penangites. "I wanted it to be memorable," he added.
Khoo, 26, an auditor, said she was taken by surprise.
Recalling their courtship, she said she got to know Tan while he was working part time at a shop at the Queensbay Mall six years ago.
The 56th Merdeka Ride has made it into the Malaysia Book of Records with the largest number of participants in a cycling event. More than 10,000 cyclists from the country as well as from Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United States, Britain, Australia and Germany took part.
Organising chairman Datuk Farizan Darus, who is also state secretary, said the idea to have a cycling event on the bridge was initiated by Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas.
"He wrote a letter to concession holder Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB) for permission to hold this ride. After approval was obtained, a cycling organising committee was formed with him as the patron.
"Apart from allowing participants to cycle on the longest bridge in south-east Asia, the event is also aimed at gathering funds for a few charities including the Lions Club (for them to purchase a blood bank bus), and also the TYT Disaster Fund," he added.
Lions Club of Penang (Host) president Jimmy Ang said the event raised some RM600,000 (about S$231,400) of which RM150,000 was donated by the Ideal Group of Companies, another RM150,000 was given by Taglink Group and the rest came from the RM80 entry fee.
The cyclists earlier gathered at the Batu Kawan Stadium before leaving for the bridge. They were flagged off at 8am by Abdul Rahman at the 4.8km marker of the island-bound lane.
They rode until mid-span of the bridge and back again to the stadium, which totalled 46km.
There was a lucky draw with a Vespa LX 150, worth RM10,000 as the grand prize. Other prizes included bicycles and bike accessories.
The event was jointly organised by the state government, JKSB and the club. Also supporting the event were the Works Ministry, Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia and Projek Penyelenggaraan Lebuhraya.
The Star is the official media while the event organiser is Bicycle Town Sdn Bhd.
Among those present were JKSB chairman Tan Sri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob, Star Publications (M) Bhd executive director Tan Sri Kamal Hashim, state Financial Officer Datuk Mokhtar Jait, state Religious Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim, Penang Youth and Sports, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Chong Eng, and state Tourism Development and Culture Committee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang.