SINGAPORE - By boldly adapting to the times and involving the youth in their work, Chinese clan associations in Singapore will thrive and be reinvigorated.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday that he hopes to see these associations move ahead, and as they do so, to work with the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) to promote Chinese culture.
Mr Lee cited Char Yong (Dabu) Association as one which has worked hard to attract and groom its young members, such as through setting up a youth wing in 2002.
The youth members have put together activities to attract others from their generation to join them, and changed the image that the association is a "seniors' activity centre", Mr Lee said at a gala dinner to mark the 160th anniversary of one of Singapore's major Hakka clan groups. More than 1,500 guests attended the dinner, held at a Marina Bay Sands ballroom.
In his speech, Mr Lee drew a parallel between how the Government has been putting in place a succession plan for the fourth generation of Singapore leaders, and how Char Yong Association has been actively grooming its next generation of members.
Mr Lee praised the association for extending its welfare and help beyond its Hakka kin, to all Singaporeans.
While the association previously handed out bursaries only to the children of its members, it now awards them to all deserving pupils in its two affiliated primary schools - Qi Fa Primary School and Da Qiao Primary School. It also provides bursaries to university students.
Mr Lee highlighted the association's legacy of funding charity medical institutions, citing its $100,000 donation to the Public Free Clinic Society, and donation of $400,000 to Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital. It also donated $500,000 to the Singapore University of Technology and Design.
As he concluded his address, Mr Lee highlighted that the SFCCA had just elected its new council, with Mr Tan Aik Hock, 49, as the youngest chairman to lead the federation.
Mr Lee also thanked outgoing SFCCA president Chua Thian Poh for his dedication over the past eight years.