On the evening of the 14th of June 2022, GOPIO Malaysia had the pleasure of organising a Welcome Dinner for the High Commissioner of India to Malaysia, His Excellency B.N Reddy.
The dinner was held at the elegant ballroom of The Royal Selangor Club overlooking the lush grounds of Dataran Merdeka and was graced by the presence of a vast number of established NGOs in Malaysia.
The guests started streaming into the ballroom at 7.00 pm with the arrival of special guests at 7.30 pm and finally the arrival of the chief guest himself, His Excellency B.N Reddy, at 7.45 pm. The dinner was officiated with the National Anthem “Negaraku” followed by a welcome address by the President of GOPIO Malaysia, Mr Gunasekaran Sreerangan. A few points that have been shared by our president Mr Gunasekaran were, encouraging more participation from NGOs and increasing NGO networking. Mr Gunasekaran also mentioned the need of setting up an Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) in Penang for the reason of having cultural centres outside of Kuala Lumpur. The need for a Special Committee on Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) should be formed to create more awareness of this application, and Mr Gunasekaran also mentioned that the OCI application should be increased. Moreover, Mr Gunasekaran also mentioned the creation and celebration of PIO Day in Malaysia which has been celebrated in other countries.
The President also mentioned and congratulated the attendance of a Non-PIO NGO, PATRIOT at the dinner. It was also such a memorable dinner where the oldest NGO and the youngest NGO were present for the dinner. The oldest NGO was both the Malaysian Association of Indian University Graduates (MAIUG) and the Malaysian Bengalee Association and the latter was Proactive Leadership Empowering Development of Group Excellence (PLEDGE).
Dinner was served buffet style at approximately 8.15 pm with an array of mouth-watering vegetarian and non-vegetarian options to choose from.
The evening continued with a speech by the President of MAIUG, Mr Selvarajoo Sundram, where he touched on Malaysian Youth to tap the high quality and economical education in India. It was then followed by a keynote address by His Excellency B.N Reddy. The speech began with His Excellency agreeing to create Indian Cultural Centres (ICC) in Penang and mentioned having them in other cities other than Kuala Lumpur. He also did note the celebration of PIO Day and the PIO Day Conference need to be accomplished on a day which is significant for us. The High Commissioner also mentioned that after the covid season as the tourism is back active it is expected that about 1 million tourists from India are anticipated this year. Furthermore, His Excellency also mentioned the importance of Yoga which benefits the public both mentally and physically. The High Commissioner also noted that the relationship between India and Malaysia has been and will continue to be strong and he also pressed that the PIOs in Malaysia play a vital role in upholding the relationship between Malaysia and India. His Excellency also mentioned that he wishes India to increase its corporation with Malaysia in sectors such as Medication, Education, Economy and Tourism. The High Commissioner also touched on the need of having 5 VISA centres in Malaysia to smoothen the process of getting their documents done, as it is reported that at least there are about 222 flights in a week going to and fro. His Excellency in his speech also mentioned that there about 4k Malaysian students are studying in India, this shows the good strong relationship and connection we have between the countries.
The dinner was attended by many VIPs and PIO NGOs leaders such as Tan Sri Dato’ Dr R. Palan, T. Nagarajan, B.Gen. (Rtd) Dato’ Arshad Raji, Dato Kantha Rao, Datuk Chandran, Datuk Bhupath Rai, Mr Kandiah, Mr T. Nagarajan, Mr Velayutham Vadivelo and many more.
Staying true to the objectives of GOPIO in enhancing cultural activities, the evening saw classical Indian dance performances by dancers from the Siva Sakti Dance Academy. Throughout the evening, the guests were treated to a classical dance – Pushapanjali, a semi-classical – Vande Matram and finally, a classical fusion arrangement called Sadjam.
The evening progressed with the souvenir presentation of a plaque to His Excellency B.N Reddy by the GOPIO President Mr Gunasekaran Sreerangan. This was followed by a meet and greet session where the High Commissioner went around the ballroom greeting and speaking with the various NGO leaders present.
The fruitful evening came to an end with a vote of thanks by the Secretary-General of GOPIO Malaysia, Mr Sashidharan Santhesegaran, with light music accompaniment as the guests were leaving the venue.
The Welcome Dinner accomplished its purpose, not only in strengthening ties with India but also in creating a space for like-minded NGOs to come together and build their networks, leading to long-term engagement and commitment to social change.