Learning Chinese like managing marriage

Lee Simin, two, playing with standees of characters created by local illustrator Ah Guo at the Singapore Book Fair at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre yesterday. The event runs till next Monday.
Lee Simin, two, playing with standees of characters created by local illustrator Ah Guo at the Singapore Book Fair at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre yesterday. The event runs till next Monday.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

They both need commitment, says minister Ong Ye Kung at Singapore Book Fair launch

Learning the Chinese language is like managing a marriage, said Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung.

"Commitment is required, and we should continue learning it as there is no limit to learning," he said, adding that Chinese culture should be used as a way to develop a student's lifelong interest in learning the language.

He was speaking in Mandarin yesterday at the launch of the Singapore Book Fair, organised by Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese Media Group.

Mr Ong noted that the annual event was being held at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre for the 20th year. He said that it was also his 20th wedding anniversary yesterday.

Singapore's longest-running major book fair is now into its 32nd year. It features 20 Chinese language book exhibitors as well as those promoting English, Malay and Tamil language books this year. The exhibitors include international publishers from Taiwan and Malaysia.

To promote the joy of reading, Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese Media group has revamped the event, which runs till next Monday, and included the use of music, and movies which were adapted from books. There will also be seminars and storytelling sessions.

Local artists such as Chinese singers Ling Kai and Suming Rupi will also be performing. While movies will be screened daily, live music performances will be held from tomorrow to Sunday.

Mr Ong commended the event organisers for introducing the new elements.

"While Chinese cultural values have not changed, the way this book fair is promoted has changed much.

"There are a capella performances, and the comic illustrations look more modern too," he said.

Last year, the fair saw 180,000 visitors, up from 140,000 visitors in 2015.

At the launch, Mr Ong presented the Inspiring Chinese Language Teachers Awards to 10 teachers who were nominated by students.

The selection process involved four rounds of interviews with panels of judges.

The awards have been presented at the book fair for 20 years now.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2017, with the headline 'Learning Chinese like managing marriage'. Print Edition | Subscribe