Speech by Mr Chua Thian Poh Chairman of the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre At the Opening of Permanent Exhibition on 29 February 2020
29 February, 2020–Prime Minister and Patron of Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre Mr Lee Hsien Loong,
Minister, Senior Minister of State, Minister of State, Senior Parliamentary Secretary,
Members of Parliament, Head of Diplomatic Missions, government officials,
Board members of Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good morning to you!
Firstly, I would like to thank Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and all our distinguished guests for taking time today to join us at the Opening Ceremony of “Singapo(ren)”, the Permanent Exhibition at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.
Prime Minister Lee graced the opening of our Cultural Centre in 2017. We are deeply honoured to have Prime Minister with us again today to open our Permanent Exhibition. Since its opening, the Cultural Centre’s vision has been to provide a platform for all Singaporeans, including new citizens and non-Chinese, to learn about Chinese Singaporean culture. We strive to present traditional elements in contemporary ways in our programmes, and showcase our multi-culturalism. The new Permanent Exhibition is no exception. We hope that Singaporeans, especially young Singaporeans, will be able to identify with the Permanent Exhibition. We also hope that it will be a “must-see” exhibition for new citizens and tourists who wish to learn more about our local Chinese culture.
The Permanent Exhibition title is bilingual. It showcases the two most prominent characteristics of Chinese Singaporean culture, which are integration and innovation. The word “Ren” represents you, me and others. Being a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, everybody is an integral part of the community. Our distinctive local culture is also a result of interaction and fusion between the different groups.
Culture is our way of life. The way in which we go about our daily life forms our culture. This is present in our cuisine and language such as everyday lingo and song lyrics. We hope that Singaporeans can recognise that these familiar aspects of our everyday life are actually very special. One example is how we order our drinks at the kopitiam. “Kopi-o” is a combination word, using the Malay word “kopi” and Hokkien word “o” for black; and “kopi si” uses the Hainanese word for “fresh” or “diluted”. As “si” also sounds like the English alphabet “c”, which is the first letter of the Carnation brand of evaporated milk, people gradually used “kopi c” to order coffee diluted with evaporated milk.
It has taken us about two years, from the conceptualisation to the execution of the Permanent Exhibition. We worked with several ministries and government agencies, educational institutions, arts groups and community partners to put the content together. Arising from these discussions, we decided that we should use aspects of daily life to introduce the distinctiveness, fusion and development of our local Chinese culture.
The content of the Permanent Exhibition is presented through five zones. They showcase how our different cultures come together, and how they are reflected through our everyday language, food and values. We will also feature Singapore brands and personalities who have become well-known internationally. We believe that the public will be able to resonate with them and, in turn, strengthen their sense of identity.
The Permanent Exhibition is presented in an interactive format. We bring the visitor through familiar aspects of our daily life, and incorporated games into the learning process. Visitors will be able to use their RFID tags to answer interesting questions, and see how other visitors have responded to the same questions. I will not reveal too many details about this yet but will leave you to explore this further when you tour the Exhibition later.
In addition, we have trained a group of passionate volunteer docents to guide visitors around the Exhibition. We welcome schools, companies and community organisations to form groups to visit the Exhibition. It is also possible to visit the Exhibition on your own. You can further enhance the experience by using the tour materials which we developed jointly with students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA).
Going forward, the Cultural Centre will work with our arts tenants and partners to roll out a series of student activities related to the Permanent Exhibition. We believe that the Permanent Exhibition will serve as a new channel for us to engage with the public. We also hope that it will be another attraction which visitors can see before attending performances at our Centre.
Lastly, on behalf of the Cultural Centre, I would like to, once again, express my gratitude to Prime Minister and all our distinguished guests for being here today to witness the opening of our Permanent Exhibition. I would like to sincerely thank our partners for their utmost support, and the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho (Temple) for their generous donation. They have made it possible for us to bring this meaningful Exhibition to everybody.