The Buddhas Swept the Awards

21 April 2010 - 10:39pm Comments Off

Can you believe it, Kechara won at the Cammies!

It was awesome, shocking to say the least, considering whom we were up against. We were the underdogs, the nobodies in the local arts scene, and the judges were the elite Who’s Who of dance and theatre. Yet, out of a total of eight awards for the Dance category, Kechara was nominated for six…and we won five! It was even reported in The Star! (

Presented for the first time was our very own production Legend of the Conch Shell ( For some of us who attended the awards ceremony with no great expectations, it was an occasion to slap ourselves for having no belief in ourselves, our Lama and what we stand for. His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche’s words “Never say you can’t do, because that is not the real you speaking”, finally began to sink in…what a Dharma lesson, so real, so deep and so empowering.

Held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, this year was the eighth time that the BOH Cameronian Arts Awards (BCAA) have been held since its 2002 conception by online arts magazine Kakiseni. With BOH Plantations as the main patron and sponsor, the aim of these awards have been to highlight achievements and contribution of artists to the local arts scene, in music, dance, theatre and musical theatre.

As Malayisa’s only performing arts award, the BCAA covers every aspect of live performance from stage talents to behind-the-scenes work in lighting, management and costume design. Officially endorsed by the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture, the awards have garnered a whole slew of other sponsors like Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Astro, LiteFM, Red Communications, Inscribe Webmedia and Alexis Bistro.

A motley crew of 19 Kechara House members flocked to the ceremony in central KL to lend their support. Most had been involved in the production as a cast member, organising committee member or volunteer. The Kechara Stars felt like a million bucks mingling among the professionals and glitterati in five-star opulence, seeing stars and celebrities who were there for the same reason we were!

It was a strange but great feeling to be the “celebrities” for a night, walking through an assemblage of all sorts of characters with the individual trademarks that have made them famous. Musical maestros, accomplished playwrights, celebrated dancers, leading rock-stars, the provocative and the alternative, all genres were represented. Come to think of it, the crowd appeared to be just like a cross-section of Kechara…we seem to draw creative people, who were accept just as they are!

With the ballroom filled, the show began, led by the indomitable emcees Fahmi Fadzil and Shanon Shah. We waited with bated breath as the Dance awards were presented first. By the third award, as we were named one of the nominees for Best Set Design, we Kecharians were still subdued…but (like everything in samsara!) this calm mood did not last for long as presenter Jit Murad read, “And the award goes to…”

Announcing the winners, we almost fell off our chairs upon hearing our name. It did not take us long to break out into a volley of screams and shouts, hollering and clapping rapaciously as our very own Organising Chairman of Legend of the Conch Shell walked up the stage to receive the award.

We were trying to catch our breaths and calm our hearts as they announced the next award. Just as we had recovered somewhat, up came the Best Choreographer nominations. Kecharians were sent into a second frenzy as we won yet again…and we swept up the next three awards in quick succession! People in the hall fell silent in disbelief, wondering who this boisterous group who appeared out of nowhere were. It was almost embarrassing as we sauntered up to the stage bagging five of the six awards we had been nominated for!


Kechara’s Awards (Dance Category – click on the images to check out OUR trophies!)

1. BEST SET DESIGN (Prize of RM1,000)

Looi Chin Yu & Kechara for Legend of the Conch Shell; choreographed by Lee Swee Keong, Chan Soo Leng, Woon Fook Sen & Low Ming Yam, presented by Kechara



Lee Swee Keong for Legend of the Conch Shell; choreographed by Lee Swee Keong, Chan Soo Leng, Woon Fook Sen & Low Ming Yam, presented by Kechara



Lee Swee Keong, Chan Soo Leng, Woon Fook Sen & Low Ming Yam for Legend of the Conch Shell; presented by Kechara


4. BEST COSTUME DESIGN (Prize of RM1,000)

Kechara for Legend of the Conch Shell; choreographed by Lee Swee Keong, Chan Soo Leng, Woon Fook Sen & Low Ming Yam, presented by Kechara


5. BEST MUSIC & SOUND DESIGN (Prize of RM1,000)

Kechara for Legend of the Conch Shell; choreographed by Lee Swee Keong, Chan Soo Leng, Woon Fook Sen & Low Ming Yam, presented by Kechara


We were not the only big winners of the night – in the Musical Theatre category, Prince Siddartha: The Musical were clear favourites, taking 10 out of 12 available awards! Portraying the life story of Shakyamuni, the first Buddha, their production mirrored ours which celebrated the life story of Lama Tsongkhapa, the second Buddha…this really was a night for the Buddhas to sweep away the awards!

Kechara is honoured to have been recognised for our endeavour into the performing arts, and hold tremendous respect for the judges and award organisers for supporting artistic expression that is blind to race, religion and creed – their works will surely inspire and propel the standard of Malaysian arts.

Rather auspiciously, their vision matches that of Kechara’s Spiritual Guide, His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche. Rinpoche wishes to make known the story and teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa through a diversity of means, to benefit people of whatever race and creed, in whatever station in life. Why? Purely to benefit them, for Lama Tsongkhapa’s practice pacifies disturbances, dispels depression and generates a mind of altruism. Thus it was due to Rinpoche’s vision that Legend of the Conch Shell came in to existence, and due to Rinpoche’s blessings that the production is able to enjoy such success.

We wish to take this opportunity to extend our heartiest congratulations and thanks to everyone involved in this production, from the main cast to the behind-the-scenes crew, from the organising committee to our sponsors, from volunteers to the friends who attended. Most of all, we wish to express our gratitude and appreciation to Rinpoche who was the sole inspiration and reason why we ever embarked on such a project. May the merits accrued by the continued success of this production be dedicated to Rinpoche’s long life, and to the flourishing of Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition.

Left to right: Chan Soo Leng (choreographer), Liaison Kok Yek Yee (producer), Yap Yoke Fui and Ngeow Voon Chin, director Woon Fook Sen, Yvonne Yap and Louise Lee (co-ordinators)

As with everything, all must come to an end. The feast of sight and sound closed with one last incredible performance, and a closing speech by Jenny Daneels and Kathy Rowland, the founders of Kakiseni. As Kakiseni ceases operations this year, the 8th Annual BOH Cameronian Arts Awards of 2010 will be the last, and will be sorely missed by the arts fraternity of Malaysia.

But hey, at least we have a small part of it, five shiny awards that bring recognition to our contribution towards the Malaysian arts scene, endorsing us as a serious player in theatre production. Not only that, but the awards demonstrate that we DO have the artistic talent and potential amongst our members to make it in the Arts…who knows, perhaps from this, we will soon witness the birth of a new department, the Kechara Performing Arts Department!

As the ballroom emptied, the Kechara gang marched out with our heads held high, holding aloft our five awards, and right into a flash of cameras from the throng of waiting paparazzi. Group photos taken, Mr Ngeow was whisked off by the press for an interview as the rest of us made our way to an unforgettable Heineken Post-Awards Party, to celebrate another success in drawing people to spirituality. Moving to some really infectious beats, we pondered on how we had done the seemingly impossible…newcomers to the arts scene, walking away with five awards from Malaysia’s largest arts ceremony. There is no doubt any more that when the motivation is right and our passion is to benefit others, Setrap will always provide.

So we bid farewell…until next year. As we wind up for our next production, we invite YOU to join us and be part of the team that makes it happen yet again.



Our Acceptance Speech

“On behalf of Kechara House Buddhist Association of Malaysia, I would like to thank the BOH Cameronian Arts Awards judges for presenting this award to us. This is the first time that our organisation has staged a show of this nature. We hope that with this, it will encourage many of our members especially those from our Arts Department, Kechara House Saraswati Arts, to express their spirituality through the arts. And of course I would like to thank the wonderful production team, the most talented, and well I would like to say, genius director Mr Woon, our choreographer, very talented as well, Soo Leng, and our Lead Dancer, Lee Swee Keong. I just heard that he was on a flight back from Austria if I’m not mistaken, and thankfully he has arrived safely because there have been a lot of flight cancellations in the European sector. And many thanks to our sponsors, our Kechara House members who have contributed a lot to the staging of this first production of ours, and also the backstage helpers and a host of other people, friends of our organisation as well. And most of all, I would like to thank our Spiritual Guide, His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche, without whom this award would not be possible. Thank you very much. This award is very much for our Rinpoche, our Guru, and Kecharians!”

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