Passion for Penang

PERANAKAN dancers wowed guests with their graceful movements during the launch of Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai’s Penang’s History, My Story at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel in George Town, Penang.

The performers from the Sayang Sayang Nyonyas group dazzled the crowd with their lively dances to the classical Peranakan tunes of Jingli Nona, Sapu Tangan and Nona Nona.

Another star of the evening was the Nada Irama Keroncong Band, whose members belted out several numbers to keep the guests entertained.

Wong said he was keen to keep the Peranakan tradition and dondang sayang alive.

“These performers have a strong and burning passion to keep the arts alive. In fact, one of the members, Annie Lim, who is 76 years old, has been practising on the dance floor here since 10am,” said Wong, who is The Star managing director and chief executive officer.

He thanked his friends who came from the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore and Macau for the book launch.

“I thank the guest-of-honour Datuk Jimmy Choo, who despite his busy schedule, took time off to attend the launch of my book because of his love for Penang,” Wong said in his welcoming address on Friday.

The 326-page book includes reflections by Wong’s friends and colleagues in The Star who also hail from Penang.

On his reflections of old Penang, Choo said the Pearl of the Orient used to be very calm, quiet and had less traffic.

“It was relaxing then and we could play on the streets. One of my favourite spots was Gurney Drive, where I could go swimming and fishing,” said the international shoe icon and one of the most famous Penangites.

Choo, who studied at Shih Chung Primary School in Love Lane, also revealed that an English teacher used to call him ‘donkey’ then.

“I didn’t know what the word meant then. But now I wonder whether he would still call me a ‘donkey’ if he knows who I am,” he quipped.

Also present were some of the other famous sons of Penang — banker and academician Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid, lawyer-poet Cecil Rajendra, veteran consumer activist S.M. Mohamed Idris and historian-heritage entrepreneur Khoo Salma Nasution.

Others who turned up were Star Publications (M) Bhd executive director Tan Sri Kamal Hashim, Naza Euro Motors chief operating officer Datuk Samson Anand George, PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Michael Tio, E&O group corporate strategy director Lyn Chai, Think City Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Anwar Fazal, Public Investment Bank institutional and corporate business head Adrian Chen and Rafflesia The Pearl Centre director Winnie Sin.

The event sponsor was the E&O Group. Proceeds from the book will go to the Penang Heritage Trust and the Kenosis Home, a drug rehabilitation centre.

The book is available from Star Publications (M) Bhd via the Circulation Department at 03-79671388 ext 1026 (ask for Ankal Letchumanan or Andrew Lim).

It is also available at major bookstores nationwide.