SINGAPORE - Clan associations are an important part of Singapore's social fabric and play a vital role in helping to build a more cohesive society, said Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, at the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan's Chinese New Year reception on Friday (Feb 4).
He noted that most clan associations are connected either by dialects or surnames, and the bonds built are crucial especially in times of crisis and challenges.
While many societies had become more fragmented over the past two years since the Covid-19 pandemic started, Singapore has continued to enjoy high levels of mutual trust because of the strong bonds built during peacetime, he added.
"Our fight against Covid-19 is not over yet and we need our society to continue to stand together as one," he said, urging clan leaders to rally their members and encourage them to stay healthy, vigilant and resilient.
The hybrid event, held at the Chui Huay Lim Club in Newton and live-streamed on Zoom and Facebook, included an exchange of greetings with representatives of various Teochew clan associations in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Macau.
Mr Tong noted that the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan leveraged technology to take its Teochew Festival virtual last year, reaching a wider audience amid the pandemic.
The festival showcased a virtual Teochew village from Nov 5 to 14 with 12 virtual zones showcasing elements of Teochew culture, such as opera, arts and crafts, language and traditions.
People were also able to order Teochew dishes online and vote for the winner of the Miss Teochew beauty pageant.
The festival was previously held in venues such as Ngee Ann City and Marina Bay Sands, but was moved online for the first time last year after being held over in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Mr Tong said: "Our clan associations must continue to stay active and engage their members and younger members of the community through new and relatable activities."
He added that showcasing and amplifying Teochew culture and heritage is an important aspect in ensuring that the young remain connected to their roots.
Mr Chan Kian Kuan, president of the clan association, said the virtual Teochew Festival attracted more than 1 million views from 66 countries and 741 cities.
He said that the clan association will retain its virtual Teochew village to allow more people around the world to learn about Chinese culture.
The association has also formed an ambassadress network comprising contestants from the past two Miss Teochew pageants to retain and attract the participation of young women.
The Teochew community is the largest Chinese dialect group here after the Hokkiens.
The Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan, which was founded in 1929, will be marking its 93th anniversary later this year.
Mr Chan said in Mandarin: "We hope that the Covid-19 pandemic will come under control this year, and that we can all come together for a physical celebration then."