Your Royal Highness, Tuanku Idris Shah, the Sultan of Selangor
Your Royal Highness, Tengku Amir Shah, the Raja Muda of Selangor
Ladies and gentlemen
2. A century ago, five extremely adventurous, romantic and courageous gentlemen with too much testosterone decided it would be a good idea (though some may find it odd) to race from one end of the world to the other.
3. A decade ago, more brave men from 22 different countries filled with the same testosterone decided to follow in their heroic predecessors’ footsteps. Two outstanding men who took part in that race are with us here today.
4. This year, the avid and lion-hearted racer, His Royal Highness Sultan Idris Shah, took part in that race again, driving a vintage 1940 Chevrolet Master 85 Series coupe, or better known as ‘The Custard Tart’.
5. When I first heard of it and realizing the toughness of the endurance race, I wondered to myself why in God’s green Earth would His Royal Highness do it again at his age.
6. It was unfortunate that Tuanku Idris, due to the call of duty was not able to finish the last, and easier, leg of the race. This, however, did not deter Dato’ Richard Curtis. Together with Tuankus’ nephew, Syed Haizam Jamalullail, they blazed a trail from great Moscow to fair Paris and this book became a reality due to their drive and determination to see the race to its end. Dato’ Richard, Syed Haizam, I applaud the both of you.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
7. Tuanku Idris has never been an ordinary man. An ordinary man would not have braved the harsh elements of nature and battle the fierce heat of the Gobi desert simply to complete a race. Only a man of great courage would take part in such a rally. Where others find it fearsome, Tuanku drove on to prove not only to the world, but also to himself, that man is the master of the world around him.
8. With this book, Tuanku reminds us that exploration whether intellectual or physical is the basis of man’s greatness. He is evidence of man’s need to seek new and unknown regions and test the limits of his physical and mental strength. He embodies man’s yearning to gain greater knowledge by striving for the seemingly impossible, by reaching for the stars.
9. Tuanku Idris is a romantic. Like the pioneers of old, His Royal Highness mirrors man’s willingness to conquer all hardships, which is far more important in a ruler rather than the common man for he must be their guardian and their shield and armor against hardships.
10. The standards he has set upon himself truly mark him as a leader amongst leaders. Not many would test themselves in such a grueling manner. But more importantly, he has set himself on the road to learn and broaden his knowledge, gain deeper understanding and experience of the world so that he may lead with more wisdom and insight.
11. Through his example, Tuanku Idris inspires us to always challenge ourselves to achieve greater heights in life. Perhaps, motivated by this book, one hundred years from now, one of Tuanku’s descendents may plumb the vast, unknown depths of space just as his ancestor courageously braved the bleak landscape of the Gobi desert.
12. Tuanku, please allow me to quote the inspiring words I found in your book. The words of Luigi Barzini, who wrote ‘From Peking to Paris: Prince Borghese’s Journey Across Two Continents 1907’.
13. “Enthusiasm grows stronger by action, but weaker through words. Speech is too reasoning a thing; it foresees all obstacles and mishaps – it is pessimistic. If every hero were made to discuss for a moment the brave act he is about to perform, heroism would perish. In great or original undertakings, many points must be left to chance; there must always be some facing of the unknown; the adventure must always be entered upon with a certain amount of unreason. This unreason is called audacity…”
14. Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me the honor and privilege to present to you a man for all seasons, a man who speaks through his actions, a man of audacity.
15. I now have the pleasant task of launching the book from Peking to Paris an account of the 2007 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge.