‘Universities play a pivotal role’

PETALING JAYA: Never forget the importance of education in promoting harmony, unity and progress, says the King.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah said universities played a pivotal role in shaping the future of Malaysia.

“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that they continue to excel,” said His Majesty at the gala dinner for the 60th anniversary of Universiti Malaya’s Chinese Studies Department at Dewan Tunku Canselor on Saturday.

His Majesty said the 60-year milestone achieved by the department would not have been possible without the support from the university and the Chinese community.

“I have been made to understand that the 60th year is a significant time marker in the Chinese worldview. It represents the completion of a full cycle and a new beginning.

“Achieving this milestone would definitely not have been possible without the firm support and empowerment provided by the management of both the faculty and university,” said His Majesty.

Also gracing the event was Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, former MCA president Tan Sri Liow Tiong Lai, scholars, students, retired lecturers and staff, were among the guests at the gala dinner.

Sultan Abdullah commended the Chinese community’s unwavering support for the department and university.

“You have sent your best youths to the university, provided scholarships, accepted students as your interns, provided generous research grants for academics and funded a variety of projects over the past six decades.

In the spotlight: Sultan Abdullah sharing a light moment with Chan while His Majesty was giving a speech at the gala dinner for the 60th anniversary of Universiti Malaya’s Chinese Studies Department at Dewan Tunku Canselor in Kuala Lumpur.In the spotlight: Sultan Abdullah sharing a light moment with Chan while His Majesty was giving a speech at the gala dinner for the 60th anniversary of Universiti Malaya’s Chinese Studies Department at Dewan Tunku Canselor in Kuala Lumpur.

“Your commitment and dedication have played a pivotal role in complementing the quality education envisioned by our country and the institution,” said His Majesty.

Following the royal address, the King was gifted an artwork depicting Robinson Falls in Cameron Highlands.

It was specially painted by master calligrapher Prof Cheng Haw-Chien for His Majesty.

Prof Cheng is a Malaysian artist known for transforming majestic landscapes onto canvas.

Earlier, Universiti Malaya’s Alumni Association of the Chinese Studies Department (Pejati) honorary chairman Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy said there were three main objectives when the department was formed in 1963.

The aim was to strengthen the learning of the Chinese language; research and promote Chinese culture; and facilitate the exchange of cultures among ethnic groups.

On the third objective, Chan explained that some courses offered by the department were also taught in Malay to students from different backgrounds.

“This has strengthened the exchange and understanding between cultures,” he said.

Chan, the organising chairman of the 60th anniversary celebration steering committee, said this made the department unique compared to other Chinese studies departments globally.

He spoke of how he had personally chosen a course – the History of Chinese Literature – that was taught in Malay, during his time as a student in the department.“I spent one year looking for all the terminologies to translate classical Chinese books we were assigned to read into Bahasa Melayu,” he said, adding that this experience served him well during his time as an MP.

Chan was once the Selayang MP and held the transport minister portfolio.

Reflecting on the past 60 years, Chan said the department had played an important role in building a pluralistic society in Malaysia.

It was time now to chart the next 60 years of its course, adding that the priority was to ensure the department continued to play a role in advancing the nation’s prosperity.

At the event, close to RM700,000 was raised through auctions for artworks by Lui Cheng Thak and Prof Cheng.

Prof Cheng’s piece titled “The Lotus” fetched the highest bid at RM300,000.

Guests to the dinner were entertained with performances including an overture of the Dream in the Red Chamber by the Lee Rubber Chinese Orchestra.

There were also cross-cultural performances comprising silat and wushu, and recital of poems from the pre-Qin as well as Tang, Song and Yuan dynasties.

Modern poem recitations in Malay and Tamil; and a yangqin performance, were also featured, among others.

Yangqin is an instrument played by striking the strings with bamboo sticks.

The grand finale saw a rendition of the song Let Me Use Malaysia’s Warm Weather To Say I Love You and Rasa Sayang.

Also present for the night were Pejati chairman Datuk Ng Tong Ha, Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor and Universiti Malaya Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences dean Prof Datuk Dr Danny Wong Tze Ken.

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