Singapore, 7 February, 2019 — Mr Chua Thian Poh, Chairman, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre
Mr Tan Aik Hock, President, Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning everyone and Happy Lunar New Year! I am happy to join all of you at today’s Spring Reception. I am also glad to see different communities gathering for this occasion. This is a hallmark of our long held traditions as a multiracial society.
In today’s complex and dynamic world, it is important for us to be well anchored to who we are and what we stand for as a people, and as a nation. A deepened appreciation of Singapore’s arts and heritage can help foster this stronger sense of our national identity.This is where the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) and Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) have important roles to play. You promote the arts and cultural traditions of our Chinese community, so that they are transmitted to future generations as well as the new members of our society.
What exactly is our culture? As a multiracial society, our culture bears the imprint of influences drawn from different races in Singapore, and is constantly evolving through interactions among the communities. Nevertheless, it is clear that as Singaporeans, we share many common values and practices. For instance, both the Chinese and Malaysgive out a token sum of money during festive occasions. This comes in the form of red packets for the Chinese during Chinese New Year, and green packets for the Malaysduring Hari Raya Puasa. We also share many common values, like how we place emphasis on families as the foundation of society. This is why Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali are times for reunions. Families get together to enjoy one another’s company and of course, enjoy lots of good food.
The imprint of different influences on our cultures is also evident in our everyday life, in the way we speak and the food we eat. Many Chinese terms used in Singapore have Malay origins. For instance, the Chinese term “Ba Sha” (market in Mandarin) came from the Malay word “Pasar”. Some phrases are not just a translation but a combination of the different languages. A clear example is how you order a drink in a coffeeshop. Tea without sugar and milk is called “Teh O Kosong”. It is a combination of Malay with the use of “Kosong”, and Hokkien with the reference to “Teh” and “O”. Even our familiar cuisines are a hybrid of different cultures. Mee Rebus, for example, is a popular Malay dish but the word “mee” has its origins from the Chinese.
Apart from language or food, our colourful multicultural heritage is also reflected through our arts and cultural activities. Juz-B, a local Malay acapella group, performed Chinese songs at SCCC’s Cultural Extravaganza last year. This year, Siong Leng MusicAssociation, a local opera troupe specialising in traditional Nanyin and Liyuan opera, will be incorporating Malay and Peranakan elements in their Opening Act for the cultural extravaganza. These innovative ways of showcasing our culture are important in fostering greater understanding among diverse communities, reminding us that we have much in common. It also serves as a social glue that unites our multiracial society. It is a key feature our immigrants need to embrace when they join our society. For this reason, the SCC is not just for the Chinese Singaporean community, but a place for all Singaporeans. Similarly, I hope the Chinese community can take a keen interest in other communities in Singapore, to foster stronger bonds between Singaporeans from different backgrounds.
Today’s Spring Reception marks the start of yet another exciting year for SFCCA and SCCC. The SFCCA has lined up a series of projects, collectively themed “Unsung Heroes”, to mark Singapore’s bicentenary. These include the “New World, New Life” exhibition that is ongoing now, and the English edition of “A General History of the Chinese in Singapore” coming up in June.
The SCCC is developing a permanent exhibition in its premises to document and showcase Singapore Chinese culture. It will draw examples from everyday life to showcase how our culture has evolved over the years, and continues to develop. I hope all of you will continue to support SFCCA and SCCC, as they seek to deepen our sense of identity and rootedness as Singaporeans
Once again, I would like to wish everyone a happy Chinese New Year, and a wonderful time here today. Thank you.
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