Centre to promote translation efforts

The Select Centre is co-founded by former Arts House director William Phuan (left) and Mr Tan Dan Feng.
The Select Centre is co-founded by former Arts House director William Phuan (left) and Mr Tan Dan Feng.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The Select Centre, a new non-profit arts company promoting translation and intercultural efforts here, has opened.

It has appointed as its managing director Mr William Phuan, former director of The Arts House. Select Books director Mr Tan Dan Feng is also a co-founder.

The centre, which does not have a physical location yet, comes at a time when awareness of the importance of translation is rising, says Mr Tan, who also chairs the Singapore International Translation Symposium and sits on the National Translation Committee formed last year by the Ministry of Communications and Information.

"There are translation courses offered in schools and universities. You can study it as a minor or as a bachelor's degree. There is also a master's programme coming up," he says, citing the Nanyang Technological University's postgraduate programme in translation and interpretation that was unveiled on Tuesday.

The centre, opened yesterday at the Grassroots Book Room in Bukit Pasoh Road, seeks to leverage Singapore's position, both as a country that is home to diverse cultures and as a gateway to the South-east Asian region, to promote intercultural dialogue, says Mr Phuan.

"We want to develop and raise the capabilities of writers and translators here, increase public awareness and to promote an exchange of literature and translation between Singapore and our neighbouring countries," he adds.

The centre has organised workshops in Yangon, Myanmar, to translate local literary works to Burmese and vice versa, and will do so again next year. It has planned a line-up of activities in the coming year, such as readings, lectures, workshops and residencies.

From Sept 12 to Nov 2, it will hold Translators Lab, a workshop led by veteran translators to translate local Chinese, Malay and Tamil literary works into English. These include works by writers Wong Koi Tet, Dr Sae'da Buang, Dilip Kumar and poet KTM Iqbal.

Participants will do a seven-week online mentorship and the workshop will end with a three-day boot camp.

At the Singapore Writers Festival from Oct 30 to Nov 8, the centre will organise nine intercultural programmes, including panel discussions and performances.

It will present an English translation of Potret Puisi Melay Singapura (A History Of Singapore Malay Poetry), done by two translators who have joined its first residency programme.

The centre will launch TranslateSingapore, the first translation festival here, slated to run from Oct 31 to Nov 12. It comprises public outreach programmes, school workshops and a translation symposium at the Singapore Management University on Nov 3.

Noting Singapore's history as a translation hub since the early 1800s, when Western and Asian texts were already translated to various regional languages, Mr Tan says: "These efforts show the tradition of moving between, and linking cultures, which has always been part of the Singapore DNA."

• For more information, go to www.selectcentre.org

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2015, with the headline 'Centre to promote translation efforts'. Print Edition | Subscribe