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MALAYSIANS have a knack for rising to the occasion whenever they are hard pressed for something.

This was the case in the 1982 Fifa World Cup, which was held in Spain. RTM wasn’t broadcasting more of the 12th World Cup matches and diehard football fans had to rely on radio commentary and newspaper reports.

An ardent Malay Mail reader, Peter Teo, suggested to the paper’s Hotline section that Malaysians donate at least RM1 to RTM to meet the cost of live telecasts of matches, and that got the ball rolling.

Malaysians rose to the occasion to prove a point that nothing is impossible in life if there is determination and perseverance.

People contributed money to the People’s Live Telecast Fund (PLTF), which was launched on June 19 that year. The money trickled in slowly but gained momentum with hundreds, and then thousands, of people marching to Balai Berita in Kuala Lumpur and the paper’s branch offices nationwide to contribute. All worked to reach the initial target of RM60,000.

The Malay Mail, together with RTM, which kept the people informed of the amount collected daily with the words “Ditaja Oleh Rakyat Malaysia” was a morale booster, and in the end, a whopping RM300,000 was collected — sufficient to pay for four live matches and the post-tournament Fifa World All-Star charity match.

The corporate sector also chipped in, and seeing the interest shown by football fans, the live telecasts of subsequent World Cups in 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002 were all sponsored by them.

This long shot showed that the 1Malaysia spirit was already in play even back then.

C. Sathasivam Sitheravellu, Seremban, Negri Sembilan

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