SOME 1,000 delegates attending the biennial 7th World Huian Quangang Natives Association assembly were feted to an array of local delicacies during a gala dinner at the Straits Quay Convention Centre in Penang.
Organised for the first time by the Penang Hui Ann Association to mark the association’s 100th anniversary this year, the delegates from 11 countries such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, Thailand and Malaysia were also treated to a choir performance and colourful multi-cultural performances.
To make the visitors who were mainly descendants of the Hokkien immigrants from Hui’an county in Fujian, China, feel at home, a group of ushers were dressed in the traditional costume worn by the Hui’an women in China.
Organising chairman and association’s vice-chairman Loh Nam Hooi said the assembly was supposed to be held in China this year but was held here instead since it was its centennial celebration.
“We want all the delegates from all over the world to join in and share the joy with us.
“While we are celebrating today, we must also remember the contributions made by our forefathers. We must learn from their fighting spirit,” he said in his speech at the dinner on Friday.
The dinner was part of the assembly’s three-day programme where they also visited heritage and tourism spots in Penang.
A cake cutting ceremony was also held during the dinner to celebrate the association’s 100th year anniversary.
A delegate from Canada, Law Joon Fong, 56, said although she felt un-comfortable with the hot weather in Penang, she enjoyed her stay here.
“Frankly, I’m here because I want to travel and see the cultures and lifestyles of different people,” said the legal assistant.
For Luo Nanhui, 52, from Fujian, he had no problem communicating with the locals as he could speak Hokkien.
“Although the roads here are narrow and there are traffic congestions, people follow traffic rules and drive properly compare to those in China.
“There are also a lot of different cuisines which I really enjoy,” he said.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng later led the guests in observing a minute of silence as a mark of respect for the two Malaysian police commandos who were killed in Tanduo village near Lahad Datu, Sabah.
Another highlight of the night was the performance from evergreen local singer Chng Shyue Chung who led the audience down memory lane with his melodious and powerful vocal.
At the closing, a simple flag handing over ceremony was held between the committee members and the delegates from Fujian, which will host the next assembly in 2015.
Also present at the dinner were the association chairman Datuk Siah Kok Poay, Malaysia Huian Quangang Associations Federation chairman Datuk Khoo Chai Kaa and Penang Chinese Assembly Hall president Datuk Seri Lim Gait Tong.