Some 400 representatives from various clan associations in Malaysia and Southeast Asia were in Penang for a three-day symposium on ‘The Evolution of Sino-Southeast Asian Communities’. The event, which ran from 18th to 20th July, was organised by the Penang Chinese Clan Council and the Clan Associations Youth Committee, Penang.
The symposium aimed to foster understanding and cooperation amongst participating Chinese Clan members, and to offer a platform for members from different countries to exchange views on cultural environment, tourism products, social and economic policies, and to develop networking through friendship. The representatives came from clan organisations in Thailand, Singapore, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, and of course, Malaysia.
The opening ceremony of the symposium at WOU was launched by WOU Chancellor Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu. Among the dignitaries present were Penang State Executive Councillor Law Heng Kiang, Penang Tourism Action Council chairman Dato’ Kee Phaik Cheen, and Penang Chinese Clan Council Advisor Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap Leong Huat.
Among the other WOU guests were its Vice Chancellor Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan, and Deputy Vice Chancellors Prof Wong Tat Meng and Dr Seah Soo Aun.
In his speech, Stephen Yeap said the inaugural conference last year in Bangkok was organised by the United Clan Association of Thailand. He said the annual conference hopes to bring forward new ideas and mechanisms to develop the clan network. He added that the building of the Asean Community of nations can only be realised with the support from the various governments.
Meanwhile the welcoming dinner themed ‘An Evening of Solidarity’ held on the first day of the symposium was graced by Secreatary-General of Asean, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, who spoke on the ‘Migration of the Chinese to Southeast Asia and the Making of the Sino-Southeast Asian Communities’.
During their three days in Penang, the participants visited the Clan Jetties, Little India, Goddess of Mercy Temple, Yap Kongsi, Dr Sun Yat Sen’s Museum, Acheen Street Mosque, Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple, Khoo Kongsi and the Cheah Kongsi.