JOHOR BARU: State Ruler Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar will be hosting a tea party for the Chinese community on Sept 21 at the Istana Besar, 65 years after such an event was first held.
The party is also symbolic as it will be held in the palace’s Chinese Hall (Dewan Cina), which was a gift from prominent Johor entrepreneur Wong Ah Fook and Kapitan China Seah Tye Heng to Sultan Abu Bakar.
The tea party will be the seventh time such an event has been held since 1875, during the era of the first modern Johor Ruler Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar.
The tea party was last hosted by the present sultan's great-grandfather Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar in 1951.
State exco member Datuk Tee Siew Kiong, who is the main coordinator between the present Sultan and the Johor Chinese community, said it would be a historical event.
The Chinese community, he said, had always enjoyed close ties with Johor rulers since the days of Sultan Abu Bakar, who first held a tea party for some 1,000 Chinese leaders and tradesmen more than a century ago.
“It showed his recognition of the community’s contribution to Johor after he brought in Chinese people from Tanah Melayu and Singapore to plant gambir (betel leaves) and black pepper, which were the main source of the state’s economy then.
“To relive the tradition, I suggested for a similar tea party to be organised and this was supported by the Chinese community leaders, which, thankfully, Sultan Ibrahim agreed to as well,” Tee said.
“This shows that he is walking his talk when he speaks about uniting together as Bangsa Johor,” Tee told reporters during a tour of the palace yesterday, adding that there would only be 50 invited guests.
He said Sultan Ibrahim stressed that there should be representatives from all 10 districts of the state and a name list would be subjected to his approval before the invitations were sent out.
“I also suggested for Chinese food from the five dialect clans (Hokkien, Teochew, Hakka, Cantonese and Teochew) to be served at the event and for entertainment, there will be traditional performances,” said Tee.
The Chinese Hall is located next to the Sultan Abu Bakar Royal Museum on the palace grounds and is decorated with Chinese gold-plated plaques and couplets that were presented as gifts to the past Sultans over the decades.
Since the first event, the hall has been used to host tea parties in 1923, 1930, 1933, 1935 and 1951.
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