I am delighted and thankful to God Almighty to be here today on behalf of my father, Duli Yang Maha Mulia Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Shah, patron of the Rotary Club in Perak, to officiate at the 74th Rotary International District 330 (pronounced “Three Three Zero”) Conference. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Happy New Year.
- I am proud to note how the Rotary organization in Perak has grown over the years – both in number of members and in the extent of social services rendered. 25 years ago, when His Royal Highness ascended the throne as Sultan of Perak, there were only 4 Rotary chapters in the state. This number has since grown to 14. This is very reassuring because where on one hand we witness a world that is becoming increasingly materialistic and individualistic; on the other hand we are not short of exemplary individuals and groups representing the spirit of compassion and selfless giving. We look forward to the Rotary club growing further so that more and more communities can come to benefit from your voluntarism and philanthropy.
- The dawn of the New Year took place amid an air of gloom caused by violent and ongoing unrest in Gaza and the aftermaths of tragedy in Mumbai. In addition, a crisis that has led to the fall of big names in the global financial sector and the obliteration of an estimated 30 trillion US dollars in global stock value. Looking ahead at the year before us, the threat of a global economic meltdown and severe financial crisis continues to hang heavy on all our minds. Its impact on the domestic economy is inevitable and is reflected in the anticipatory measures taken by the Malaysian government to pre-empt a deep domestic economic plunge. It is a sign that more hardship can be expected and Malaysians will have to be prepared should we be subject to a protracted slowdown.
- In such an environment, the existence of charitable and philanthropic organisations such as the Rotary Club is not only welcome, but vital. As resources become scarcer and as confidence levels diminish, instances of hardship is bound to rise. The role of Rotarians thus cannot be overemphasized. Your presence offers an assurance to the wider community that there is a group to depend on in times of need.
- This conference, aptly themed “Make Dreams Real”, reflects how, as always, the interests and welfare of the community, particularly the needs of the underprivileged, is placed at the centre of the Rotary Club’s efforts. I hope that in the course of your work to ‘make dreams real’ for those in need, you will also create a greater consciousness among the public of humanitarian concerns, and inspire more and more around you to embark on the path of service.
- I find it inspiring to make one other observation of the Rotary Club – how neither its membership nor the community it serves makes any discernment along ethnic, religious or cultural lines. Such matters are as it must be – irrelevant and with no place in dealing with the greater universal issues of social welfare and humanitarianism. I commend the Rotary Club on this and I hope that this honourable quality of the organisation will serve as a shining example to all Malaysians.
- I wish all delegates a stimulating and fruitful conference, and I hope that over the coming days, you will enjoy what Ipoh has to offer, renew old friendships and return to your hometowns re-energized to serve your communities. Carry on with the excellent service for which you are well known and may the New Year bring you the success and gratification you deserve.
- It is my pleasure to officially declare the 74th Rotary International District 330 (“Three Three Zero”) Conference Open.