Yew Cheng Hoe: It is 1967, and it has been 12 years since the Thomas Cup landed on our shores. Since 1955, we’ve never gotten close enough to get our hands onto the ultimate trophy in the badminton world…the Thomas Cup! Now, in 1967, everything was different. We were now Malaysia, we were a new nation and with new blood streaming through our badminton veins, and new hopes to wrest the Thomas Cup from our rivals, Indonesia! Indonesia were the defending champions and it was up to us to take it away from them. Our manager, Khir Johari constantly drummed these words into our minds: “It is now or never”. The wait had to end, and we (Teh Kew San, Tan Aik Huang, Ng Boon Bee, Tan Yee
Khan, Billy Ng and myself) were the ones he placed the nation’s hopes on.
Flying to Jakarta for the final was nerve-wrecking. The Indonesians were a very boisterous and rowdy crowd, and to be in the infamous Istora stadium with this crowd was something no amount of training can prepare you for.
On the first day, we led 3-1. I took out Ferry Soneville, Aik Huang lost to Rudy Hartono, Boon Bee-Yee Khan beat Unang-Darmawan, and finally Aik Huang and Kew San managed to edge Muljadi and Susanto. Confidence was high in our camp. We were just two matches away from bringing the Cup back home.
The second day started just like the first day with Aik Huang beating Soneville and Hartono beating me. The score was now 4-2. We only needed one more win. And with Kew San losing his game in the third singles match, the tension was high as Boon Bee and Yee Khan took to the court for their match.It was an easy start for them and then the crowd started to react.
The noise in the stadium went up at least by five decibels. The crowd jeered every time we got the point and they started using their camera flashes just as we were taking the shots. We lost the second game 13-15.
It was at that time that the match official Herbert Scheele suspended the tournament unless the Indonesian badminton association cleared the stadium of all spectators as the situation was getting out of hand.
But the partisan fans were relentless. They invaded the courts, and started pulling the fuses off the DB boxes. The stadium was suddenly immersed in total darkness. We were terrified as just before the stadium went dark, even the soldiers were not able to control the crowd.
We thought the crowd was going to lynch us and with the soldiers losing control, we feared that they would have lost their guns and we would be killed. But we were quickly herded out of the stadium, all we could see were streams of light from their torches and one single flame from a lighter that led us away from mayhem.
Later we found out that the flame from the lighter came from Khir Johari. The crowd very quickly rushed down from the stands were on our tail and very quickly catching up. We barely managed get into our bus with the help of the police who then escorted us back to our hotel.Even at the hotel, there was already a crowd waiting for us. We had to enter Hotel Indonesia from its back entrance and quickly rushed up to our rooms. There we were informed by Khir that we would had to wait for IBF’s decision. We were hoping we could continue playing again the next day. It would have been difficult for us to play on as we.