ADORNED in festive red drapes spanning the width of the building, the Dewan Jubli in Kuala Kangsar was transformed into a spectacular venue for this year’s state-level Chinese New Year celebration on Saturday.
Guests had already started trickling in even before 8pm, as they exchanged pleasantries and New Year greetings with one another.
During the wait for the Sultan of Perak’s arrival, guests were entertained by masked performers from SMJK Tsung Wah, who thumped rhythmically on nine drums.
Later on, the school’s Chinese orchestra played classical Chinese tunes.
At 9.20am, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Azlan Shah and his consort Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku Zara Salim arrived at the hall, along with Raja Muda Raja Jaafar Raja Muda Musa and the Raja Puan Besar Raja Nor Mahani Raja Shahar Shah.
They were greeted by Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and other dignitaries and a troupe of lion dance performers.
Addressing the crowd of over 1,000 people, organising chairman and State Executive Councillor Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said Malaysians of all races have always banded together to face challenges as a nation since the country’s independence in 1957.
“We celebrate every festival in peace and harmony. It is this sort of virtue that has become Malaysia’s cultural identity.
“This uniqueness of ours is also a charming appeal to tourists visiting our country,” he said in his speech during the celebration.
As this year is the Year of the Monkey, Dr Mah pointed out that people whose Chinese zodiac sign is the monkey are seen as individuals who are wise, highly skilled, curious, jovial, flexible, energetic, confident, creative, and capable leaders.
“Many people also associate this zodiac sign with the famous Chinese classic novel Journey to the West’s main character the Monkey King, who can transform into 72 different forms.
“We also often use a Chinese idiom to describe this character, which translates as ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ in English.
“I hope that all the positive attributes of the monkey will bring good change, and new, creative thinking among us so that we can face these tough economic times together in the spirit of 1Malaysia,” he said.
Later on, calligraphers Lee Soo Mee and Wan Song Chin, as well as artist Chow Ngan Moi took to the stage to show off their talents.
Flanked by the calligraphers, Chow stood in the middle of the stage and painted an image of two monkeys on an easel, while Lee and Wan wrote Chinese New Year greetings on red paper.
Sultan Nazrin Shah was then invited on stage to paint in the eyes of the two monkeys as a symbolic gesture to officiate the event.
The royal couple also took the chance to distribute ang pows to underprivileged children of all races.
As dinner was served, school students and other performers impressed the guests with a line-up of performances, starting with SMJK Tsung Wah’s Chinese orchestra ensemble, followed by Shen Jai High School girls’ graceful performance of Chinese cultural dances.
Singer Angela Ong appeared on stage dressed in red after, singing Teresa Teng’s The Story of a Small Town and Datuk Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin’s Bukan Cinta Biasa.
Wushu performers Wong Kok Kei and Ooi Yew Hung from the Perak Wushu Lion and Dragon Dance Federation were so fierce and relentless in their sword and long blade performances, that one of them broke through the wooden floor boards of the stage.
Another performer Ooi Mun Leng took things down a notch with her tai chi moves.
The entertainment did not stop there, as the Kinta Valley Symphonic Orchestra put on a great show with their enthralling renditions of songs like The Final Countdown, Burung Kakak Tua, Bunyi Kita and Yeh Lai Xiang.
The night ended with the Selendang Group’s performers dancing and holding the Malaysia and Perak flags as they were dressed in each race and ethnicity of the people living in Malaysia.