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State swears in six new members of Asian American Commission

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  January 25, 2013 11:45 AM

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Sworn in as members of the Massachusetts Asian American Commission on Thursday were, from left: Wingkay Leung, Gilbert Ho, Dr. Elisa Choi, Kajal Chattopadhyay, Chris Chanyasulkit, and Joel Buenaventura.

Two Chinatown community leaders were sworn in Thursday among the six new members of the Massachusetts Asian American Commission.

Wingkay Leung and Gilbert Ho, both former presidents of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association with many years of involvement in local organizations including the Chinatown Crime Watch and Chinatown Neighborhood Council, took the oath in a brief ceremony at the State House office of Treasurer Steven Grossman.

Both men said they were honored by the appointment and hoped to give Asian Americans a stronger voice in state government.

“It will expand my horizons to not just serving the Chinatown community,” Ho said of the appointment. “I now have a chance to do that statewide and serve other Asian communities.”

Ho said he hoped to see more Asian-American organizations coordinating their efforts and sharing resources to maximize their effectiveness. He said he would like the commission to serve as a bridge between Asian-American communities and the state government.

Established by the state legislature in 2006, the commission is charged with bringing attention to Asian-American residents’ contributions to the state’s culture, society, economy, and government and with addressing the needs and promoting the well-being of Asian Americans across the Commonwealth.

Commissioners may be appointed by the governor, Senate president, House speaker, secretary, attorney general, treasurer, and auditor. Each commissioner may serve no more than two consecutive terms and no more than six years total.

Leung said he hoped to work with his fellow commissioners to advance issues important to Asian Americans such as bilingual voting and finding and keeping good jobs. He is concerned, he said, that Asian Americans do not always find themselves on a level playing field with people of other ethnic backgrounds.

“The Constitution guarantees equality, but always there is some prejudice and discrimination,” Leung said.

Also sworn in Thursday were Joel Buenaventura, a deputy general counsel in the state Department of Public Health; Chris Chanyasulkit, a health policy researcher and a political science doctoral candidate at Northeastern University; Kajal Chattopadhyay, a deputy general counsel at the state Department of Telecommunications and Cable; and Dr. Elisa Choi, an internist and infectious disease specialist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates.

The ceremony took place in the office of state Treasurer Steven Grossman, who highlighted other state efforts at recognizing diversity and supporting immigrants from around the world. Grossman said two words that best described the future of the state’s economy were “immigrant entrepreneurs.”

“That’s the story of Massachusetts for 400 years, and it will continue to be the story of Massachusetts,” Grossman said.

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State Treasurer Steven Grossman, at right, stood with Rick Wong, president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, and new Asian American Commission member Gilbert Ho.

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