Address by District Grand Master At the Annual Communication held on 02 December 2017
A very good afternoon to you all, my Distinguished Brethren.
We welcome each and everyone of you to this our Annual Communication 2017 and it is heart warming to see so many Brethren seated here today, from near and far. On behalf of the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago, I place on record our sincere thanks and appreciation to everyone for having taken time off your busy schedules to join us.
Our very special and heartfelt thanks to Right Worshipful Bro Malin Goonetileke from the District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka for his kind attendance today. RWB Malin is no stranger to our Communications. We thank him and all the Brethren in his delegation and trust that they will have an enjoyable weekend with us.
Right Worshipful Bro Vivian Lee, the District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong and the Far East is also here with us this year together with his Brethren. Members of the Hong Kong delegation have always attended our Communication and we are delighted to note the close relationship between our Districts and we welcome them. Their Past District Grand Master RW Bro Peter Wong has always been here to support all our District functions and we again welcome him in our midst.
We also welcome Bro Abel Arumugam , the Worshipful Substitute District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of the Middle East of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and his deputation. Their presence every year reflects again the close relationship between our two Constitutions and we are confident that it will only continue to grow from strength to strength.
We welcome RW Bro Sivakumar Murugaiyan, representing the Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of South East Asia of the Grand Lodge of Ireland and Brethren of their delegation.
The attendance today speaks volume not only of the organisation skills of the Brethren of Elopura Lodge here in Sandakan but also all your dedication in supporting the District organised events. In June this year, we had numbers bursting the seams in Kuala Lumpur and again this weekend, the final numbers are almost double what was originally envisaged to the extent that registrations had to be closed. We sincerely thank you all for your kind support. A support that we have seen increasing from Communication to Communication.
We would also like to thank all the Master Masons who have made special effort to join us today and we trust that they will find this weekend educational, enjoyable and memorable. Sandakan has much to offer in addition to the lovely fresh seafood available daily.
A very special mention of appreciation and words of encouragement for the large number of Brethren particularly from Thailand and Singapore. Their numbers have continued to increase in each of our events.
Our heartfelt thanks to the Chairman of the Organising Committee, Bro Daniel Liaw and his team for their tireless work once again under the guidance of our ADGM WBro Jacob Pang. We will recognise each of them individually at the banquet later this evening. Thank you my Brethren.
To our Deputy and Assistant District Grand Masters, we thank you all most sincerely for having assisted me tirelessly throughout this period with your support, guidance and attendance at all installation meetings and special occasions. In particular this year with all the overseas visitations for the regional Tercentenary celebrations.
Our District Grand Secretary, WBro Ahmalu Rajah and his Assistants and their team at the District Offices both here and in Singapore have always ensured that all necessary arrangements and administrative details were attended to on a timely basis. We recognise and record all their effort.
Our District Grand Director of Ceremonies, WBro Raji Ramason and his team have all been working very hard together with the relevant Directors of Ceremonies from individual Lodges to ensure that ceremonies were conducted to expectations and the high standards, so well maintained.
We thank our District Grand Treasurer, WBro Thambyrajah Sundram for managing the finances of the District in his usual impeccable style with a close scrutiny of the accounts of individual lodges and guiding them, where necessary.
A special word of thanks to our President of the Board of General Purposes, WBro Alan Tang Swee Kam and our President of the Board of Benevolence WBro Kenneth Khoo and all their respective Members for their dedicated service and continued guidance.
To all our other Acting District Grand Officers and members of the various Boards and Committees who have played their respective roles accordingly, our heartfelt appreciation to you for your undivided commitment. These include:
The Library Committee
The Investment Committee
Members of the RMHB in Kuala Lumpur
Members of the MHBL in Singapore.
All these Brethren have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure a smooth running of the District.
To all those who have retired, I look forward to your continued support in the District as Past District Grand Officers and in guiding the younger Brethren accordingly. In due time, you will all be again called upon to serve in other positions.
During the Annual Investiture in April this year, we were honoured by our Most Worshipful Grand Master with an unusually high number of Initial Grand Ranks and Promotions.
We are pleased to inform you that our MW Grand Master has again honoured us with additional Initial Grand Ranks and Promotions, details of which will be announced very soon.
We congratulate all who were conferred their honours and recognise that your respective appointments is most surely deserving and an encouragement to all, especially the younger Brethren. We look forward to your continued active support in the District.
We congratulate all who have been conferred Initial District Grand Ranks and Promotions and your respective appointments is again, most surely deserving.
As mentioned in the June 2016 communication, your respective appointments are not only a recognition of your past invaluable services but more so, the strong believe that the District has in your continued active participation at Lodge and Districts activities in the years to come. We look forward to witnessing this active participation.
We would however again remind all Brethren that District and Grand honours should never be asked for and should never be rejected when conferred.
This evening, we are again honoured to have our Ladies join us later at our Banquet.
We have always encouraged engagement with our families and in particular our good ladies, and we are pleased to note that many Lodges invite their good ladies to join them at festive boards, whenever possible.
The Ladies in many lodges have also formed groups wherein they organise activities as amongst themselves. This helps bind the relationship between the Ladies themselves and also the Brethren.
We strongly encourage the continuance of such activities
Banquet Seating Arrangements
The introduction of mixed seating arrangements at Banquets has been well received by some Lodges but sadly faces resistance from Senior Brethren in some Lodges.
This arrangement is not meant to belittle nor humiliate Senior Brethren but more so, to foster a closer relationship between them and the Younger Brethren and to impart their knowledge and experience.
We strongly encourage that this be effected in all your festive boards.
Inter Lodge Relationship
We have been suggesting that lodges within particular regional areas support one another in all ways and in particular in their respective lodge activities.
In broad terms, we have lodges located in :
Kindly support one another in all your activities and in particular Installation Meetings, Installed Masters Nights, Visitation and Ladies Nights amongst others. Where possible conduct joint meetings as amongst yourselves as was done in Kota Kinabalu early this year and more recently in Kuala Lumpur by Joseph Eu Lodge
Our District is spread over a vast area and we cannot expect the same Brethren to traverse all corners of the District supporting the Lodges.
In supporting the Lodges within your described areas, please also offer the same support to our sister Lodges in their activities as I am sure they will also support us too.
There has been a considerable improvement in the standards of workings in our respective Lodges and we are particularly pleased to note from our Visiting Officers, that Ritual Books and notes are very seldom used during ceremonies.
A special word of encouragement again for the Lodges in Singapore for maintaining their high standards of workings.
May we again encourage all Brethren involved in ceremonies, to take time to prepare the relevant portions of their work for the benefit of the candidates during their ceremony and the immense impact it will have on them.
During the last six months, we have travelled far and near to celebrate the various Tercentenary events and we thank all Brethren and their families who were able to join us on these trips and the last of which was the visit to Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand in November this year.
The celebrations in London in October left a lasting impression on all who attended. It was just short of magical. I hope, all Brethren have been able to now view the recordings of the proceedings at the Royal Albert Hall. Our District had one of the largest oversees contingent present.
As at this time, we will be travelling to attend the following events overseas in the forthcoming months.
District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka: July 2018
District Grand Lodge of South Island, New Island : February 2018
District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong and the Far East : January 2018
Grand Lodge of Victoria : April 2018
Kindly register early
It is also delightful to note that the numbers in the travelling delegation during the recent past have increased significantly together with participation by the Ladies and other family members. We thank you all for your support.
Mentorship and Education
We would like to place on record our special thanks to WBro Darren Desker for his continued support in organising Lodge Mentorship programs. He hands over this role to WBro Harwant and will now assist the District in organising Lodge Education programs which we feel is rather lacking at this time. We look forward to being able to share with you all relevant programs in due course.
We also recognise the contribution by WBro Dennis Heath and Bro Manoj, both from Singapore
We regret to not that there are still a number of Lodges who do not prepare the Worshipful Masters Annual Report and also present Annual Financial Statements at their Regular Installation Meetings.
We strongly encourage this practise as this would give all visiting Brethren a snap shot of activities in the Lodge and will also serve as a permanent record in the District for future reference purposes.
We trust that each and everyone of you will have an enjoyable and memorable weekend with us and will return to your respective Districts and Lodges and extend our greetings and warm wishes to all the Brethren who were not able to join us.
We look forward to welcoming you all in Kula Lumpur for the Half Annual Communication in June 2018.
May I take this opportunity to wish all Brethren celebrating Christmas, a Blessed and Joyous occasion and all Brethren and their families, a wonderful, memorable and prosperous New Year ahead.
May the Great Architect of the Universe Bless each and everyone of you .
Dato Jeyaraj Ratnaswamy
District Grand Master
02 December 2017