Chinese community celebrates ‘year of the water snake’


Minister Meriton addressing guests at the dinner

The occasion was marked by a grand dinner preceded by a ‘lion dance’ performance involving four members of the Chinese community.

Among guests were Designated Minister Vincent Meriton, who is also responsible for Social Affairs, Community Development and Sports; Employment and Human Resource Development Minister Idith Alexander and the Chinese Ambassador Shi  Zhong Jun and his wife Ms Liu Jian.

Mr Meriton said the arrival of the first Chinese settlers 150 years ago had influenced the Seychellois community with multiple traits, especially in its culture. 
He paid tribute to these brave men and women who, 150 years ago, had braved the dangers of the ocean in a death-defying journey to reach the Indian Ocean islands.

Mr Meriton said the Lion dance shows that the Seychellois-Chinese rapport “has been taken to a quantitatively higher level”.
Mr Meriton also referred to the weather and thanked all members of the Chinese Association of Seychelles who have already contributed to the National Disaster and Relief Fund.
He said that the fund remains open for more donations to help those badly hit by the recent torrential rains.

Ambassador Shi said the year of the snake “promises good luck”. He said that Chinese culture is an essential component of Creole culture which is a “melting pot of many cultures”.

The Ambassador said that presently he is meeting members of the local Chinese community only once a year, which is not enough. “This is a pity,” he said.
He assured everyone that the embassy is open to Seychellois-Chinese wishing to make proposals and discuss something.

“Any time, you can come to meet me or my colleagues,” he said.

Association secretary Charlie Ng, who was acting as master of ceremony, also said he hopes there will be more activities for the Chinese community and more cooperation with the Chinese embassy.

The vice-president of the association, Gerard Ah Shung, who was deputising for chairman France Sham Peng Tong who is away on an overseas mission, noted that Chinese traditions and culture have influenced the Seychellois way of life, especially the Creole cuisine.

Guests at the dinner

He said that a few years ago, efforts were made by the association to rebuild the Chinese Pagoda on Benezet Street – a legacy from our forefathers, presently in a semi-dilapidated state.

The plan, Mr Ah Shung said, was to replace it by a four-storey building to be used for both cultural and commercial purposes. Part of the funds generated was destined to help the less fortunate members of the community.

Mr Ah Shung said, however, the project had barely gone beyond the preliminary stage, as numerous quarrels and conflicts of interest have barred its progress. He urged members of the community to “let us agree to disagree and forge ahead”.  He said the new building is set to be another important landmark in Victoria.

After dinner, a Seychellois student, Dean Zelime, who had studied harbour coastal offshore engineering, related his experiences to the gathering in fluent mandarin. He studied at Hohai University from 2007 to 2012.

Most speeches ended with the traditional ‘Kung Shee Fat Choy’, a mandarin greeting meaning happiness and prosperity to all.

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