Tech can help clan groups reach more young people: PM

A 24 Festival Drums performance held yesterday to mark the 80th anniversary of the Singapore Kwangtung Clan Association.
A 24 Festival Drums performance held yesterday to mark the 80th anniversary of the Singapore Kwangtung Clan Association.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Clan associations can make use of technology to reach out to more young people and pass on cultural traditions, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

For instance, these groups can use social media to promote their activities to more young people.

They can also use technology to record and preserve children's songs, folk songs and historical photos for future generations, said Mr Lee, at a luncheon to mark the 80th anniversary of the Singapore Kwangtung Clan Association.

The association was founded in 1937 to help Cantonese, Teochew, Hakka and Hainanese immigrants who had just arrived in Singapore. It now has 500 individual members and 66 associated groups.

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Clan associations played important roles in Chinese society during Singapore's early days, said Mr Lee in a brief speech in Mandarin.

They were the support networks for new Chinese immigrants, helping them get jobs, housing and medical assistance. Even today, these groups look after vulnerable people in society and do charity work.

At the luncheon, the Singapore Kwangtung Clan Association presented a cheque to the Kwong Wai Shiu Free Hospital for the $118,888 that it had raised.

Mr Lee noted that some people are concerned that clan associations might no longer be needed by society. "They think that, in the end, clan associations will just become places for seniors to play mahjong and sing karaoke," he said to laughter from the 800 people in the audience.

Dispelling this perception, he said clan associations have proved that they can keep up with the times. As an example, he noted that the Singapore Kwangtung Clan Association published a book with a DVD of 50 children's songs in various dialects a few years ago.

Mr Ho Kwok Choi, the association's long-time president, told reporters that it holds activities for young people to attract them to join.

"We also want to help them have a love for their country and elders first," he added.

Charissa Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2017, with the headline 'Tech can help clan groups reach more young people: PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe