Books launched to foster stronger community ties

CI-NTU director Neo Peng Fu said the poetry book was the brainchild of Professor Leo Suryadinata (right), a former director of the Chinese Heritage Centre. Prof Leo translated the Malay poems into Chinese, and the Chinese poems into Malay, for the sp
CI-NTU director Neo Peng Fu said the poetry book was the brainchild of Professor Leo Suryadinata (right), a former director of the Chinese Heritage Centre. Prof Leo translated the Malay poems into Chinese, and the Chinese poems into Malay, for the special publication.PHOTO: CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE, NTU

A collection of poems about Singapore and a book of Chinese student essays were launched last night at the 10th anniversary dinner of the Confucius Institute at Nanyang Technological University (CI- NTU).

The former has a bilingual title in Malay and Chinese which translates as "Singapore is my city and home". Half of its 32 poems are by local Malay poets and the other half by local Chinese poets, all of whom speak of their shared destiny.

The collection of Chinese essays - written individually or jointly by 67 students from 23 secondary schools - is titled Singapore Through Our Eyes and expresses the feelings of the younger generation about Singapore's land, people and society.

Both were launched by guest of honour and Education Minister Heng Swee Keat at the Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel.

Mr Heng said the books were an example of the efforts made by CI-NTU to foster stronger ties between different communities here through literature.

CI-NTU director Neo Peng Fu, 53, said the poetry book was the brainchild of Professor Leo Suryadinata, 74, a former director of the Chinese Heritage Centre, who translated the Malay poems into Chinese, and the Chinese poems into Malay, for the special publication.

He was assisted by Prof Hadijah Rahmat, 57, of the National Institute of Education, who is among the 15 Malay poets featured.

Others include the late Abdul Ghani Hamid and S.N. Masuri.

The Chinese poets include Chew Kok Chang, Teh Ah Poon and Wong Yoon Wah as well as younger writers such as Liang Wern Fook, Teo Sum Lim and Chua Chee Lay.

It took Prof Leo, now a visiting senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, two years to put the collection together.

He said: "In the 1950s and early 1960s, translations of local Malay poems into Chinese and Chinese ones into Malay were common to promote understanding between the two groups. I hope to revive this practice and Singapore's jubilee is a good year to launch this collection."

CI-NTU was set up in 2005 as one of the 490 Confucius institutes set up worldwide to promote the Chinese language and culture. The Singapore institute at NTU runs courses to train Chinese-language teachers and language enrichment programmes for pre-schoolers as well as adults. It has also embarked on curriculum development projects jointly with the Shandong Normal University in China.

The two books will be distributed free to all secondary schools and will be on sale at bookshops from next month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2015, with the headline 'Books launched to foster stronger community ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe