Today holds an iconic and meaningful event. I am thankful the overseas academic delegation and the Chinese elites are gathered here to celebrate and witness the inauguration of Global Chinese Arts & Culture Society Malaysia Branch. I would like to specially thank the ambassador of People’s Republic of China in Malaysia Dato Chai Xi representation Mr. Lin Dong, the Counselor for Console affairs on behalf his Excellency to officiate the ceremony as well as the six professors from Peking University to grace the event. I would also like to thank the central figure of today’s event Professor Lin Xiang Xiong for his relentless effort and contribution in promoting Chinese culture.
All these were originated from the founding of Han Chiang College thirteen years ago in year 2000. Led by former Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Tan Kok Ping JP, Han Chiang College was therefore established in Northern Malaysia. Since then, Southern University College in Southern Malaysia, New Era College in Central Malaysia and Han Chiang College in Northern Malaysia, these Chinese oriented institutions have created a unique tripartite scene in the education industry and exalted “The Pearl of the Orient”. This nickname was a compliment to the beauty of Penang by the westerner. It was later referred to Hong Kong.
The British colonized Penang in 1786 and founded Singapore in 1819. Later in 1826 they took over Malacca and formed the Straits Settlement. From there the British controlled the entire straits of Malacca.
Having dominance over the straits, the British shipped large amount of opium to China and eventually led to the Opium War in 1840 in China. China being defeated in the war resulted cession of Hong Kong to the United Kingdom via the forceful enactment of the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. Since then, the fate of Penang, Singapore and Hong Kong was closely knit together.
Given the strategic location of Hong Kong, British exported many Chinese labors to Penang and Singapore. On the other hand, the Chinese felt compelled to move out of the country because of the severe social unrest then. From the perspective of history, Penang was the first settlement place for overseas Chinese and later more were seen to relocate to Singapore.
One century after the Opium War, the land was ravaged with foreign invasions and social unrest until 1949 the political leader Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed establishment of the “People’s Republic of China”. Not only were the people in China overwhelmed with joy by this revolutionary change, overseas Chinese were also heartened to see glimpse of hope in their homeland.
When overseas Chinese population exponentially grew coupled with the success of Xinhai Revolution by Sun Yat Sen, Chinese culture was even more valued and gradually ushered into a modern society.
1919 May Fourth Movement that advocated patriotism and selective adoption of science and democracy had induced the rise of Chinese press and Chinese schools. According to statistics in 1921, there were 252 Chinese schools in Malaysia and Singapore. 1924, the number grew a fold to 504. In other words, Chinese culture became a significant social characteristic in Malaysia and Singapore following the success of Xinhai Revolution and May Fourth Movement. Among the many countries, Malaysia has notably preserved and carried forward the Chinese culture well.
For instance, Han Chiang Primary School was established after the May Fourth Movement in 1919. To date, it is ninety four years old and another six years will mark its centennial anniversary.
Later, our forefathers founded Han Chiang Secondary in 1951. It started off with less than 200 students. During which time, the then Chairman Lim Lean Teng hired five doctorate to manage and teach. Such act of boldness struck a chord in the industry then.
Han Chiang Secondary School continued to thrive with over 3000 students. At one point of time, it even became a cradle of leftist. It was also during that time Han Chiang Secondary School refused to succumb to the policy change and adopted an independent system. In 1962, it was the only secondary school not having been revamped. Until today, it is still standing strong nurturing talents for our nation. Because of the foresight of our forefathers, we can now enjoy an enviable Chinese education system.
There are 60 Chinese independent schools and 78 government Chinese schools. In addition to this, our Chinese community established another three Chinese oriented institutions in the 90s and millennial. Together with another 1294 Chinese primary schools, the development of Chinese education is one that filled with perpetual challenges and difficulties. However, we are standing strong against all odds for the promising future.
We are immensely proud of the establishment of Han Chiang College. Han Chiang is the only entity that comes with a complete system from primary to tertiary education.
The success is attributed to Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Tan Kok Ping JP and the Board of Directors. We also owe much thanks to Dato’ Ooi So Hing for helming Han Chiang Three Institutions. Han Chiang Primary School being a prestigious school has just won the accolade of the Most Outstanding School given by the Ministry of Education. Han Chiang Secondary School was awarded five-star grading for two consecutive years by the Ministry of Education. Han Chiang College was also awarded five stars for arts and humanity programmes. It is now moving towards University College. With full compliance to necessary requirements by the Ministry of Education, we believe we will clinch the status soon.
In 2003, Han Chiang Chinese Heritage Centre was established. From an initial 6000 square foot, it later developed into a 10,000 over square foot centre. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Deputy Chairman Heah Theare Haw for his generous donation of RM330,000 to revamp Heritage Centre. The Heritage Centre houses a complete history and struggles of our forefathers.
One decade passes swiftly and now we are celebrating the tenth anniversary of Heritage Centre. We have been receiving generous support and sponsor from Professor Lin Xiang Xiong, President of Global Chinese Arts & Culture Society (GCACS). Not only did he encourage me to form a GCACS Malaysia Branch, he even donated RM1 million to Heritage Centre as research fund for Innovation Research Foundation.
Our ultimate goal is to transit into a university college.
Owing to the benevolence of Professor Lin Xiang Xiong, Han Chiang Chinese Heritage Centre could continue to thrive. It also enables more academics to delve into relevant researches.
We are honoured to have Professor Lin Xiang Xiong and the academic delegation from Peking University to grace the event. They will be conducting a symposium on Multiracialism versus Civilization. We believe it will be a true eye opener to hear from these academics.
We thank the distinguished guests and everyone for turning up. Let us witness and celebrate the bilateral ties between GCACS and China Association which will bring about a brighter future for the Chinese.