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Tribute to Kak Endon at KLPac gala opening

   
Dato' Seri Abdullah signing the plaque to commemorate the gala opening as (from left) Tan Sri Francis, Dato' Faridah, Leela (partially hidden, behind Dato' Seri Abdullah) and Nori look on.

Kuala Lumpur, 3 September 2006

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Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi officiated the gala opening of Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac), held in conjunction with the world premiere of Broken Bridges, an original Malaysian musical.

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KLPac, a strategic partnership between Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia, YTL Corporation and The Actors Studio, opened its doors to the theatre-going public in May last year. The launch event paid tribute to the patron of centre, the late Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood and to the late Puan Sri Dato’ Paduka Rosaline Yeoh, wife of YTL Corporation managing director, Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh.

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Earlier, arriving guests were met by colourful trishaws that took them from the parking lot to the entrance of KLPac. The gaily-lit trishaws also served as the outriders, escorting the Prime Minister as he arrived at Sentul Park.

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The lively beats of a kompang troupe greeted the guests-of-honour while an Indian classical dancer led them into the KLPac building while tossing flower petals on the walkway. Artists from all disciplines of the performing arts formed a guard of honour, lining the route for the Prime Minister as he made his way to Pentas 1 of KLPac. The lilting sounds of a gamelan troupe followed when the sounds of the kompang faded, before the sounds of the Chinese yangqing were caught wafting upstairs on the first floor outside the entrance of Pentas 1.

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Dato’ Seri Abdullah was accompanied by his daughter and also Yayasan Budi Penyayang chairman, Nori Abdullah; YTL Corporation managing director, Tan Sri Francis Yeoh; Yayasan Budi Penyayang chief executive, Leela Mohd Ali; Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage secretary-general, Dato’ Siti Azizah Abod; The Actors Studio and KLPac executive producer, Dato’ Faridah Merican; and The Actors Studio and KLPac artistic director, Joe Hasham.

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New York-based Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who conducted the opening prayer, spoke of arts in Islam Hadhari. He further extended prayers for the late Datin Seri Endon and the late Puan Sri Rosaline.


   
Dato' Seri Abdullah congratulates (from right) Douglas Lim, Colin Kirton and Monti after the performance.

In his opening address, Tan Sri Francis paid tribute to the late Datin Seri Endon, or "Kak Endon, as she is affectionately known", as an "extraordinary Builder of Bridges" in her exemplary personal and public life, forging cultural and community links, and touching many lives through the bridges she built.

 

Dato’ Seri Abdullah, before reading the text of his speech, shared his sadness that Datin Seri Endon, was not present. He thought Nori, as chairman of Yayasan Budi Penyayang, should launch the centre, but, he explained, “my friend, Tan Sri Francis said, ‘Pak Lah, you should do it.’”

 

“It is an honour and duty I cannot refuse, so here I am,” he said, before noting that Datin Seri Endon and Puan Sri Rosaline were good friends, and extended his condolence to Tan Sri Francis, adding, “I pray God will receive her in the kingdom of Heaven.”

 

The Prime Minister spoke about arts education as an integral part of a holistic education. “The creative arts act as a mirror, expressing out thoughts, our feelings, our aspirations and our identity as a people of this country… When done right, the arts could also enlighten us and encourage us to think about the world in a better way.”

 

He said the biggest challenge for exponents of arts and culture in Malaysia is to educate and interest the Malaysian public to appreciate the products of Malaysian artists by making the arts more accessible and more attractive to all.

 

Dato’ Seri Abdullah also acknowledged that the close partnership between the arts industry and the corporate sponsors has made KLPac a reality. The founding sponsors are The Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage, HSBC, Barclays Capital, CIMB. Daimler Chrysler, The Star, Sunway Group, American Express, ECM Libra, Ericsson, MUI, Siemens, Astro, JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur, and Leo Burnett Advertising.


   
Ruth Yeoh, Nori, Tan Sri Francis and Dato' Seri Abdullah after the performance of Broken Bridges.

Joe Hasham dedicated a poem he had written to Kak Endon as a tribute to the founding patron after the Prime Minister signed a plaque to commemorate the official opening of the performing arts centre. He also announced the Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood Award for Performing Arts, which will be awarded to one artiste annually for his or her contribution to the performing arts. The award, which will be presented from next year, offers a scholarship worth RM50,000 for further studies by the artiste.

 

The musical, Broken Bridges was then staged, telling the story of a father and son, set in Ipoh of the olden days. The original KLPac production was written by Lim Chuang Yik and Teng Ky-Gan. Directed by Joe Hasham, the musical is KLPac’s biggest production to date, making it an appropriate performance to mark the Gala Opening in light of KLPac’s developmental goals and focus on nurturing local artistes.

 

The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, also known as PentasSeni Kuala Lumpur, aims to foster creative excellence through the development and nurturing of performing arts culture. In addition to state-of-the-art facilities in the inspiring history-bound architecture, the centre also boasts The Academy @ KLPac, an integral part of the centre in developing artistes and audience through courses that range from acting, script-writing, dance and gamelan to theatre for children.

 

THE KUALA LUMPUR PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE

Sentul Park, Jalan Strachan
51100 Kuala Lumpur

Box Office: +603 4047 9000

Tel: +603 4047 9010

Fax: +603 4047 9011


Text of Speech by Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh, CBE

It is a privilege to be addressing tonight’s very distinguished audience on this momentous occasion. The official opening of Malaysia’s first integrated performing arts centre – The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, PentasSeni KL – has been much anticipated and awaited. It gives all ardent supporters of the performing arts cause for celebration as it is a milestone in the history of the performing arts in our country.

 

Our beloved Patron, the late Yang Amat Berbahagia Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood, is the very reason for our presence here tonight. With her personal charm, charisma and unwavering passion for the arts, she was untiring in her efforts to develop and revitalise the performing arts in Malaysia. This magnificent theatre that we are in tonight, housed in a modern building that retains the railway heritage of Sentul, is testimony to her initiative to make the performing arts accessible to Malaysians from all walks of life.

 

It was her compassion and her deep love for the arts that gave life to the dream of a new home for the performing arts after floods destroyed The Actors Studio in Plaza Putra 3 years ago. Through Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia, her charitable foundation, she helped found KLPac with The Actors Studio and YTL.

 

Kak Endon, as she was affectionately known to many, had a vision for KLPac to make a difference in the lives of ordinary Malaysians. I would like to – if I may – borrow a metaphor from tonight’s musical. But instead of “Broken Bridges” of the title, it would be more apt to talk about “Building Bridges”, because Kak Endon was an extraordinary Builder of Bridges.

 

In her exemplary personal and public life, she built bridges every day – helping to forge links between our cultural past and present, putting disaffected youth back in touch with society. She particularly wanted to ensure that traditional values were not eroded but remained the mainstay of family life amidst the rapid progress of contemporary Malaysia. She touched many lives through the bridges she built.

 

She had envisioned KLPac building cultural and community bridges,

 

·         Helping artists realise their potential by nurturing and educating them and by providing a space for them to call their own; 

·         Creating an environment that encourages community participation;

·         Enhancing the quality of life of Malaysians through arts education;

·         Preserving our cultural heritage and ensuring future generations appreciate our cultural roots and values;

·         And last but not least, helping to facilitate understanding in our diverse, multicultural society via exposure to our various cultures, and forging unity through our diversity.

 

Tonight, we are very honoured to have our Prime Minister, Yang Amat Berhormat Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, officially open KLPac. Together with Yang Berbahagia Puan Nori Abdullah at the helm of Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia, we shall honour her mother’s memory and rich contributions to the performing arts by continuing to build on the foundations she helped put in place.

 

Shakespeare put it most eloquently in one of his Sonnets:

 

            Your monument shall be my gentle verse,

Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read,

And tongues to be your being shall rehearse

When all the breathers of this world are dead;

You still shall live—such virtue hath my pen—

Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.

 

Our lasting monument to Kak Endon will not be fashioned out of bricks and mortar; it will come from creative excellence, and the flourishing Malaysian performing arts of tomorrow that will be the pride of our nation.

 

I thank our Lord Jesus for blessing this endeavour and God bless all of you.  

Text of speech by Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh, CBE
at the Gala Opening of
The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac)
on 2 September 2006, 8.00pm
Pentas 1, KLPac, Kuala Lumpur


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