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On Thurs., March 1, community members and elected officials gathered at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association to celebrate the appointment of Paul Ng as the organization’s new president.
“C.C.B.A. acted as the City Hall of Chinatown, and that is why the president of C.C.B.A. was always referred to as the unofficial ‘Mayor of Chinatown,’ ” the association’s Web site explains, referring to the organization’s early years and how the moniker came to be.
The event involved much fanfare, including the singing of the Taiwanese and American national anthems, the turning over of the keys to the C.C.B.A. offices, the adornment of the auditorium where the ceremony was held and officials’ handing a wrapped gift to Ng.
Established in 1883, C.C.B.A. is one of Chinatown’s oldest community services, offering adult English classes, naturalization assistance and free tax services to area residents. Ng, who is replacing Jack Eng, president for the past two years, served as the Lin Sing Association’s vice president for the last four years. At Lin Sing, he helped address numerous community members’ concerns and issues — including helping arrange the funerals of the victims of an interstate bus crash last spring.
“He’s very humble. He’s a working guy,” said Eddie Chiu, a senior adviser at the Lin Sing Association.
Flanked by fellow community leaders, Ng took the podium to introduce himself and discuss his goals as C.C.B.A. president.
“Under my leadership, C.C.B.A. will continue to support the Republic of China’s democratic government,” Ng said, referring to Taiwan. “I believe the Republic of China and the U.S. government share the same democratic principles.
“We’re going to try to rebuild Chinatown,” Ng added. “A lot of things have to be done.”
Following the ceremony, Ng said he also hopes to have Park Row, which was closed after 9/11 for security reasons, reopened to vehicular traffic.
“Fewer visitors are coming to Chinatown since they closed Park Row,” he said. “We also want to open up new parking space and improve parking meters, so people coming down have enough time to dine out and stay for shopping.”
Asked what it’s like to be called mayor, Ng said, “I don’t want the title, I just want to get my job done. It’s a lot of responsibility — you take the position, and you have to care for everything.”
Several of the elected officials commented on how Ng has big shoes to fill. His predecessor, Eng, notably persuaded Taiwan to donate a statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the Chinese revolutionary and former president, to Columbus Park late last year.
“He’s the father of China — he’s like Washington in America,” Eng said of Yat-sen.
Eng also helped to transfer a torch, which now sits in the C.C.B.A. offices, and spearheaded a neighborhood parade to commemorate the Republic of China’s 100th anniversary.
Councilmember Margaret Chin vowed to make Columbus Park the permanent home of the Yat-sen statute.
“He made the Chinese community and city councilmembers work closer together,” Chin said of Eng, adding, “We will continue that work with Paul Ng.”
City Comptroller John Liu also appeared at the event, where he was hounded by reporters’ questions about the recent arrest of his campaign treasurer.
“C.C.B.A. each year gets bigger and better than ever before,” Liu said. “It brought not only the C.C.B.A. but our entire community to better heights. This is a celebration of the passing of the torch!”
“We both grew together — I tried to follow your lead in terms of delivering services,” said state Senator Daniel Squadron, who raced down from Albany to issue a Senate proclamation thanking Eng for his leadership.
Borough President Scott Stringer, who also presented a proclamation to Eng, dubbed March 1 “C.C.B.A. of Greater New York Day,” honoring the president’s inauguration.
“It only lasts 24 hours!” Stringer quipped.