THE night air was electric at the Leaning Tower in Teluk Intan as people from near and far gathered at the famed historical site for the vibrant national Chinese New Year open house yesterday.
Held in conjunction with the Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015, performing troupes from various races donned stunning, elaborate costumes to put on a show and herald the new beginning in the Chinese calendar.
The sound of a grand drum performance reverberated throughout to welcome the guests of honour Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his wife Puan Sri Hajah Noorainee Abdul Rahman, accompanied by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and Teluk Intan MP Datuk Mah Siew Keong.
A special “Welcome to Malaysia” dance was performed by a group clad in various traditional outfits representing the many ethnic communities as part of the event’s line-up.
The Leaning Tower was chosen for this year’s celebration to coincide with the declaration of the tower as a national heritage site, which was announced by Muhyiddin that night.
The historical building was also being submitted for consideration as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
As a Teluk Intan boy, Mah said he was proud to see his hometown, especially the vicinity around the Leaning Tower, holding the national open house celebration.
“I believe that the tower has the power to attract both foreign and local visitors to Teluk Intan.
“I am sure that Ah Cheong, who founded the tower 130 years ago, would never have expected his masterpiece to be the pride of the nation tonight as well,” he said.
Mah also extended his gratitude to Muhyiddin for approving the establishment of the first university in Teluk Intan last year, which was the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris branch campus.
The event continued with the signing of the commemorative plaque of the tower and a grand yee sang tossing session in three “golden imperial boats” by the guests of honour and other dignitaries.
The programme for the night also saw an impressive line-up of Chinese New Year-themed performances, including a lion dance, dragon dance, drums presentation and tai chi demonstration.
A variety of sumptuous Malaysian delicacies such as mee rebus, nasi ayam panggang, mee jawa and char kway teow as well as mandarin oranges were available for sampling by the public.
Among the people who were excited about the open house were husband and wife Lam Suwe Sin, 52, and Khoo Puh Fong, 49, who arrived together at the tower at 5.30pm.
“I read about the national celebration in the newspapers and thought that it would be wonderful to see the Chinese New Year performances with my wife.
“It isn’t everyday that you see a quiet town such as Teluk Intan being transformed into a crowded, vibrant place,” said Lam, who is staying in Langkap, roughly 30 minutes away from Teluk Intan.
Another visitor, Fazlyn Ridz, 34, said it was her first time here in Teluk Intan with her family.
“Usually, events organised on a big scale are held in Kuala Lumpur, so it is nice to see that the Government is recognising a small town like Teluk Intan,” she said.
Customer service officer Justin Wee, 29, said he was here as a guest of the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board.
“I love the open house concept here in Malaysia because you can see how people of all races can come together and enjoy good food,” said Wee, who is from Singapore.
The national Chinese New Year open house was organised by the Tourism and Culture Ministry and was hosted by its minister, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.