Clans' group wants more young members

(front left to right) Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, Chua Thian Poh (chairman, SFCCA), PM Lee, Wee Cho Yaw ( Honorary Chairman, SFCCA), Minister Chan Chun Sing, (back left to right) Chan Seng Meng (Property committee chairman, SFCCA), Tan Aik Hock (Yo
(front left to right) Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, Chua Thian Poh (chairman, SFCCA), PM Lee, Wee Cho Yaw ( Honorary Chairman, SFCCA), Minister Chan Chun Sing, (back left to right) Chan Seng Meng (Property committee chairman, SFCCA), Tan Aik Hock (Youth committee chairman, SFCCA), Thomas Pek (Members Affairs committee chairman, SFCCA), Wan Shung Ming (Cultural committee chairman, SFCCA) blow candles and cut a cake commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations at Resorts World Sentosa on Monday, 9 Nov 2015. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

The Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) wants more young members, including ethnic Chinese who do not speak Mandarin, and new Chinese immigrant groups to come into its fold as it turns 30 this year.

"It is time we renewed ourselves by targeting our recruitment efforts and activities at youth and newcomers in the next phase of our development," said Mr Chua Thian Poh, 67, president of the umbrella body for more than 220 clan, cultural and social groups.

For a start, the federation has begun organising events such as its inaugural My Singapore Story Micro Film Competition earlier this year, which attracted nearly 120 entries, both in English and Chinese.

Most entries were from ethnic Chinese who are young but non-Mandarin-speaking, said Mr Chua. There were also many entries from other races and nationalities.

In an interview with The Straits Times ahead of the federation's 30th Anniversary-cum-Fund Raising Dinner at Resorts World Sentosa tonight, Mr Chua said: "The contest shows how we can attract the young without the barrier of language so that those who speak only English could also take part.

"We certainly cannot neglect the English-educated as they are an indispensable part of the Chinese community in Singapore as well."

He plans to make the film contest a biennial event.

As for the Dragon Boat Festival celebrations next year, Mr Chua revealed that the federation will be making use of high-tech gadgets and social media to attract more young participants.

Two years ago, the federation also started its annual Youth Games where young members from different clan groups competed against one another in friendly table tennis, badminton, basketball and football matches as well as bowling.

This year, a record 1,000 people, mostly young people and their supporters, came for the various games held between July and last month, said SFCCA Youth Committee chairman Tan Aik Hock, 46.

"We hope to expand it to include more sports as it becomes more popular in future," he added.

Mr Chua also led a Youth Camp in Malacca last year to brainstorm ideas on its self-renewal plans with some 50 youth leaders from different clan groups. "As a result, we are working more closely with youth groups of our members to help them grow by holding regular sharing sessions and joint activities.

"The Chinese clans' future depends on how well we attract and groom the next generation of leaders now," he explained.

Since he amended the Constitution on membership eligibility in 2011, Mr Chua said, the number of new Chinese immigrant groups joining the federation has gone up from four to 11.

"I hope more will join us to help the newcomers integrate into the mainstream society," he added.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will launch the federation's new book, A General History Of The Chinese In Singapore, at its anniversary dinner tonight. The book is the federation's gift for Singapore's golden jubilee this year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2015, with the headline 'Clans' group wants more young members'. Print Edition | Subscribe