Clan associations need to involve youth to keep up with times: DPM Teo Chee Hean

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean called on the SFCCA to "continue to introduce more innovative programmes and strengthen exchanges with our youth". PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA), the umbrella body of Chinese clan associations here, needs to continue reinventing itself and attract more young people to keep up with the times, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

Mr Teo, who was speaking at the investiture of the 16th council of the SFCCA on Sunday (Oct 7), called on the 33-year-old federation to "continue to introduce more innovative programmes and strengthen exchanges with our youth".

The federation has been taking steps to attract and groom younger leaders.

This is in contrast with the current composition of most clan associations, where nearly four in five council members are 51 years old and older.

Mr Teo said that besides being a link between the old and the new, the SFCCA can also be a bridge between countries, and between Singaporeans.

"Our multiracial society and multicultural traditions are what make Singapore unique," he added.

"We should preserve our excellent cultural traditions, and pass them on from generation to generation."

Newly elected council members were sworn in at the event held at the SFCCA's multi-purpose hall in Toa Payoh Lorong 2.

Of the 31 members, eight are new in the ranks.

Members are elected for a three-year term.

This comes after the federation held its council election last month, with 49-year-old Tan Aik Hock chosen as its third and youngest president.

It is the second time that the federation has seen a change of leadership since its founding in 1985.

Mr Tan, who is director of Yuantai Fuel Trading, said the new council's first task at hand is to prepare for a series of activities next year to mark Singapore's 200 years of founding.

He added: "Together, we aim to work with our member associations to preserve and pass on local Chinese traditions and values to our next generation."

Besides leading the Chinese clan associations in Singapore, the federation promotes the appreciation of Chinese language, culture and values.

The previous president, property magnate Chua Thian Poh, 70, who helmed the federation since July 2010, said the SFCCA recognises the importance of nurturing today's youth.

The federation has organised activities such as the cultural heritage walk, and engaged student volunteers as tour guides for its exhibitions.

In 2011, it introduced the SFCCA Scholarship to cultivate bilingual and bicultural talents.

Mr Chua said: "This was done in a bid to strengthen the younger generation's understanding towards local Chinese culture and to excite them to know more about the Chinese community."

In his speech, newly elected president Mr Tan said his council would continue organising activities to encourage participation from the younger generation, "so that they can deepen their sense of belonging to the clan associations, and be nurtured into future leadership talents".

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