The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) started out as a support network for Chinese immigrants, but its role has evolved in tandem with the growth of Singapore's economy, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last night.
Speaking at the chamber's 110th anniversary gala dinner at Fairmont Singapore, Mr Lee said the chamber has contributed significantly to Singapore's development over the years.
Established in 1906, the SCCCI's original purpose was to look after the interests of the Chinese business community. When Singapore was under colonial rule, chamber members raised funds to build schools and help the poor.
Many schools started by the Chinese business community are still thriving today, noted Mr Lee, who delivered his speech in Mandarin.
Since most Chinese back then considered themselves "overseas Chinese" loyal to China, the chamber also helped organise support for the Chinese government.
The SCCCI's scope has since expanded significantly, and its engagement with China has also evolved, noted Mr Lee.
Its members now include more than 4,000 companies and over 150 trade associations.
The chamber supports activities such as River Hongbao and the Speak Mandarin campaign.
It has also built extensive links between business communities in Singapore and China, said Mr Lee.
"The SCCCI can bring the diverse groups together, gather resources and information from a wide range of sources and through different channels help local businesses do business in China."
The chamber has also been a key partner in restructuring the Singapore economy, he added.
Last night's event was attended by 1,300 people, including 300 guests from 16 countries and regions, representing 33 Chinese business organisations.
SCCCI president Thomas Chua said the chamber is working with trade associations from various sectors to help companies become more productive through technology and innovation.
"At the same time, the chamber will continue to bring in new blood to pass on the Chinese entrepreneurial spirit," he added.
At last night's event, the SCCCI also presented awards to its honorary president Chua Thian Poh and immediate past president Teo Siong Seng for their contributions to the chamber.