Earth Hour under the rain tree


The Socio-Economic and Environmental Research Institute (SERI) celebrates its 13th anniversary and synchronises it with Earth Hour.

Dr Goh Ban Lee speaking at the 1st Penang Blueprint Roundtable.

At precisely 8.30pm the electric lights went out, blanketing the grounds of the Socio-Economic and Environmental Institute (SERI) in neardarkness, save for the gentle glow of candles. Adding to the atmosphere was the vocal performance of acclaimed mezzo soprano Marion Olsen, her voice ringing out in the warm evening air signalling the beginning of SERI’s “Musical Soiree under the Rain Tree”.

Close to 200 guests were captivated by Olsen’s powerful vocals as she performed familiar favourites like Habanera and classics by legendary composers such as Roger Quilter, Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms. She was accompanied by award-winning British pianist Nigel Foster.

Marion Olsen, accompanied by pianist Nigel Foster.

The well-attended dinner event was held in SERI’s expansive garden at No. 10 Brown Road, to mark its 13-year contribution to Penang’s development, as well as the beginning of its transformation to meet the state’s evolving needs. The concert was SERI’s way of repositioning itself and “reintroducing” the Institute to its many stakeholders. Fittingly, the event also marked 2010 Earth Hour, reiterating SERI’s commitment to environmental issues and concerns.

Guest of honour Prof Dr Ramasamy a/l Palanisamy, Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang observed, “I believe there is always hope, even in small actions. Even as a small lone voice, we can speak and be heard, and begin to make a difference.” After his speech, the countdown to Earth Hour began and as the lights went off , guests were invited to light various candles carefully placed through-out the Garden. As the garden basked in gentle candlelight guests mingled and made their way to the buffet, arranged by G Hotel.

(From left ) Dr Ooi Kee Beng, Tunku Abdul Aziz, Prof Ramasamy, Liew Chin Tong, Dr Goh Ban Lee and Dr Francis Hutchinson, at the launch of Pilot Studies.

Lim Guan Eng making his closing remarks at the 4th Penang Blueprint Roundtable.

Spotted in attendance were SERI chairman Datuk Dr Haji Sharom Ahmat, SERI executive director Liew Chin Tong, Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon, consulate generals from Indonesia, Japan, Britain, Finland and France, Penang Economic Monthly editor Dr Ooi Kee Beng and awardwinning architect Jimmy Lim.

Musical Soiree under the Rain Tree” was sponsored by G Hotel, Leader Universal, AmInvestment Bank Bhd, kbh Capital and Henry Butcher.

Seri’s roundtable talks

February and March also saw the Penang Blueprint Roundtable discussions get under way. Held at SERI, the sessions saw dozens of key figures discuss issues ranging from Penang’s development to heritage revitalisation, the housing affordability gap and job creation. Penang’s Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, gave the closing remarks at the last session.

On March 20, 2010, Pilot Studies for a New Penang, edited by PEM editor Ooi Kee Beng and SERI fellow Goh Ban Lee, was launched at SERI, with Tunku Abdul Aziz as the guest of honour.

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