The Malaysia Club of South Australia‘s Chinese New Year dinner this year, the year of the Rooster, was awesome as it always has been in previous years. Held at the Sicilian Club (does anyone else besides me, who finds this moderately amusing?!) and as it was in previous years, the night had a little bit of everything. Yeow Family; Poh Ling Yeow
Celebs & Polies
In previous years, the Governor of South Australia, Mr Hieu Van Le and his wife, Lan, were sure attendees. This year due to heavy time pressures and a packed schedule, they weren’t able to make it. Nevertheless, there were other notables present such the Honourable Jing Lee MLC, and our state’s Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion, the Honourable Zoe Bettison MP. Both are long-standing supporters of the Malaysia Club. Last but not least my l’il Sis, Poh Ling Yeow, was also there, with the lovely Xar, to add a bit more star power to the dinner.
I have a tendency to get bored easily with speeches but I’ve got to say the three that were given on the night were right on point. First year President of the club, Wei Yee did great for her first Chinese New Year Dinner speech. It’s never easy speaking to over two hundred people! A very accomplished speaker, Jing Lee was, as always, impressive, with her ability to switch between English and Cantonese mid speech, without losing any of the meaning and vigour that characterises her delivery. And with Zoe Bettison, there was humour and a genuine connection with Malaysia and its culture, having spent a year there as part of an exchange program in her school days. Well done to all three! Poh Ling Yeow; Yeow Family;
About half way through dinner, the MC requested a male and female representative from each table for a traditional dress fashion parade. Yours truly, being the only male at the table who was wearing anything remotely resembling traditional dress, got the call-up and was asked to strut up and down the dance floor to be judged. There are some things I was just not made for! The catwalk is very high on the list. Totally relieved when I was able to return to my seat after being cut in the first round by the judges, one of whom was my mother. I love you Mum! Poh Ling Yeow; Yeow Family;
This started with some pretty slick ballroom dancing (another one of those things I was destined never to excel at), shortly followed by a sword dance by the same fella of the ballroom dancing duet. They were amazing ballroom dancers but the sword dance was something else again.
As with all big Chinese New Year celebrations, it’s never complete without a lion dance. Say it after me, “LI-ON-DANCE” not “LINE DANCE”! I’ve had to explain to friends why we had ‘Line’ dancing at a Chinese New Year do on way too many occasions. While there were signs that the lion dance crew was experiencing some fatigue, due to already having performed for most of the day at other venues, everyone still enjoyed the spectacle. For the uninitiated, the idea is to put some money in little red packets already kindly provided at each table, and to hand it to the lion as it came by your table. As with most such Chinese traditions (Yes, you guessed it!) it’s meant to bring good luck and prosperity for the year. Poh Ling Yeow; Yeow Family;
I kid you not. Former President of the Malaysia Club, Evelyn Yap would make a great stand-up comedian if she wasn’t already an accomplished doctor. Her quick wit and adaptability to unexpected situations was perfect for the evening. She is a crack-up and does a wonderful job MC-ing year after year at such events, always keeping things moving along and everyone on their toes.
Poh Ling Yeow; Yeow Family;
I was so busy taking pictures of people that I forgot all about the food! Nevertheless, it was good, as expected from one of the prime Asian caterers in town, the Kong Brothers. The standout dishes for the night were the Crispy Salt N’ Pepper Prawns and the Steamed Barramundi. Both were done to perfection. Everything else deserved a highly honourable mention. Don’t know about the other tables but everyone at our table loved the food. I should also mentioned that desserts were also pretty yum – Black Sticyy Rice with Ice-Cream and Konnyaku Jelly with fruit. Poh Ling Yeow; Yeow Family;
Each year the committee somehow manages to wrangle a bunch of amazing prizes for the raffle. All money from raffle ticket sales is donated to charity as decided by the club committee. Despite of a small hiccup on the night in the form of duplicate raffle tickets, everyone took it in stride. The sponsors came to the rescue on many occasions to ensure no one missed out. Poh Ling Yeow; Yeow Family;
As I said, a bit of everything. However, the thing that made the night for me was the true demonstration of multiculturalism. It was a celebration of cultural diversity. There were people attending from a multitude of cultural backgrounds and differing beliefs. But one thing was for sure on the night of the Chinese New Year Dinner. All that didn’t matter. Teena and I have this thing about observing people from a distance and how they interact with one another. That night, it was seeing the wide grins on people’s faces, as they interacted, that we enjoyed the most.
Cindy, a friend seated at our table said “I’ve been to many Chinese New Year dinners, this was the best”. I’d agree. Keep up the good work Malaysia Club SA. Can’t wait for next year!
PS: If you’re interested in taking a look at all the photos I took for the night, please check out the photo album we created on our Facebook page by clicking HERE!