The Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA), the umbrella body of Chinese clan associations here, needs to continue reinventing itself and attract more youth 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 yesterday, 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 to the composition of most clan associations here, where nearly four in five council members are aged 51 years and older.
Besides being a link between the old and the new, the SFCCA can be a bridge between countries, and between Singaporeans, Mr Teo said.
"Our multiracial society and multicultural traditions are what make Singapore unique," he said. "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 building in Toa Payoh Lorong 2. Members are elected for a three-year term.
Our multiracial society and multicultural traditions are what make Singapore unique. We should preserve our excellent cultural traditions, and pass them on from generation to generation.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER TEO CHEE HEAN
Of the 31 council members, eight are new in the rank. This comes after the SFCCA 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 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 is to prepare for a series of activities next year to mark 200 years of Singapore's founding.
Besides leading the Chinese clan associations in Singapore, the federation promotes the appreciation of the Chinese language, culture and values.
The previous president, property magnate Chua Thian Poh, 70, who had helmed the federation since 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 talent.
Mr Chua said: "This was done in a bid to strengthen the younger generation's understanding of local Chinese culture and to excite them to know more about the Chinese community."
In his speech, new president Mr Tan said his council will continue organising activities to encourage participation by the younger generation so that "they can deepen their sense of belonging to the clan associations, and be nurtured into future leadership talent".