The highlight of the year for the Than Hsiang family was the Opening of the International Buddhist College on July 17. I wish to express great appreciation to all guests and supporters and all Than Hsiang members from Malaysia who helped with the Than Hsiang Anniversary on July 16 and the Opening of IBC. It was indeed a big challenge to organize two major activities within 2 days!
This year's Foqi and the Mani Retreat were successfully organized in November and December respectively. Both were better organized and the participants gained stronger spiritual experiences.
Lam Rim courses were conducted at Than Hsiang temple as well as other centres. Group studies were also organized in Penang and Kuala Lumpur. We hope that we could train instructors to teach these structured courses at our centres and other Buddhist organizations. Two lecture tours of Sarawak and Sabah were organized and I would like to thank the organizations there for their help in the organization of these lectures.
The Sg Ara Centre and the Sg Ara Kidergarten were established in December. Preparations to start two more centres in Bukit Mertajam and Butterworth and one in Bangkok in the near future are on the way. This is in line with our approach to set up smaller centres in different cities and towns in Malaysia to reach out to more people in different corners of our societies.
We are also in the process of independently registering Wan Ching Yuan and the Mitra Welfare Centre in both Penang and Klang Valley. The idea is to allow these units to operate under the big Than Hsiang family but with a greater degree of independence. The Thai branch has also made significant progress to reach out to local Thais.
We also launched the IBC fund raising medallions in different places. It was a good learning experience for us to raise fund this way. I would like to thank our Thai friends who introduced this concept to us.
Than Hsiang Temple organized a nine-day Amitabha Recitation Retreat in November and nearly 200 participants took part in this retreat. A nine-day Mani Mantra Recitation Puja was led by His Eminence Drubwang Rinpoche in December in Penang. Please refer to reports on these for details.
Weekly cultivation sessions were conducted in Than Hsiang Temple, Xiang Yun Vihara, Tham Wah Wan Temple and Pajam Centre. Monthly Eight Precept retreats were conducted on every second Sunday of the month. Special religious ceremonies held during Chinese New Year, Ching Ming, Wesak and Filial Piety Dharma Assemblies were conducted in Penang, K.L. and Pajam.
The International Buddhist College began its second academic year in November. Decisions to separate the operation into IBC as an academic institution and Klintiandharm Monastery as a monastic institution housing our staff and students were made as a result of the review of the first year operation. I would like to thank Ven. Professor Dhammajoti, Ven. Dr. Fa Qing, Dr. Somboon, Brother Leong Kok Hing and Dr. Bong Chui Lian for their dedicated service to IBC. Ven. Dr. Fa Qing worked the hardest for IBC especially in the first semester of the first academic year.
Training camps for students of different age groups were organized in Penang and Pajam. The Pajam centre has become a centre specializing in organizing camps for youth of different ages. We are very grateful to volunteers who helped to ensure the success and smooth running of these camps. These camps were conducted with the theme of instilling gratefulness to parents and teachers.
Our Sunday Schools in Penang, Pajam and Kuala Lumpur continued to conduct classes for students and parents. Many teachers and volunteers of the Sunday School became active members of our Youth Groups in Penang, Pajam and Kuala Lumpur.
The kindergarten continued to make good progress with better curriculum and good team spirit among teachers. Many staff members also helped to establish a smaller scale kindergarten in Sg Ara in Penang.
Wan Ching Yuen Homes for Senior Citizens in Penang, Petaling Jaya and the Retirement Village in Country Heights in Kajang continued to operate smoothly. The number of staff in all the homes was increased to cater to the needs of the aging residents. We are sorry to lose some of the residents who had been staying with us for many years; the Wan Ching Yuen Homes serve as good places to contemplate impermanence.
Plans for the Wan Ching Yuen retirement village in Bukit Berapit were submitted to the local authorities for approval. We hope to start the construction of Phase One of this major project in 2006. The Home in Petaling Jaya was renovated and while renovation was being carried out, the residents there moved to the Home in Kajang.
The Metta Free Clinic, which operates in collaboration with the Metta Welfare Association, continued to provide daily consultations by Chinese physicians while volunteer doctors operate the western clinic sessions every Saturday afternoon. The number of visiting patients at Than Hsiang Temple exceeded 12,000 for the year.
The Mitra Welfare Centres in Penang and K.L. also continued to serve those who needed our help.
The year 2004 ended with the earthquake and tsunami disaster in many countries in Asia. The Than Hsiang Canteen raised fund in aid of the victims from December 30, 2004 till February 28, 2005. Altogether, over RM200, 000 were raised in Penang and Kuala Lumpur and the money was used to help victims in Penang, Thailand, and Indonesia. IBC staff and students together with members from Penang went to Ban Nam Khem, a fishing village, near Khao Lak in Thailand to hand over donations, offer counselling services and also conduct special religious services. It was a good learning experience for our staff, members and students.
We also started to operate the Than Hsiang Canteen on donation basis. The donations were channelled to support welfare, educational and temple activities. A section selling organic food and vegetables was set up.
The construction of the three main blocks of the International Buddhist College in Southern Thailand was finally completed and was ready for the Opening on July 17. A hostel block for staff is also near completion and should be ready for use in early 2006. Eventually three or four monasteries of different Buddhist traditions will be built to house our staff and students of IBC.
The ICT section continued to publish E-zines in Chinese and English on the first and sixteenth of every month. With better staffing our websites and publications in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and IBC are now better managed. An advisory board for the ICT section in Penang was formed and it is hoped that improvements will be made on the effectiveness of spreading the Dharma through the efforts of this section.
Once again, I would like to thank all supporters of Than Hsiang Fund – please refer to the separate financial report.
May all beings be well and happy!