Deepening social bonds through arts, culture important in tackling future challenges: Edwin Tong

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong says that arts and culture promote opportunities to develop strong friendships and mutual trust. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
A band performing at the Spring Reception 2023 on Tuesday. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Guests at the Spring Reception 2023 on Tuesday. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Deepening a sense of belonging, strengthening social bonds, and working on building a better society for one another will help Singaporeans remain united.

These will be key when it comes to tackling the challenges that lie ahead as Singapore continues to progress, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong.

These challenges include geopolitical tensions and a cautious global economy, he said in an address at the Spring Reception 2023 on Tuesday.

The reception was organised by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) and the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA), and attended by leaders and members of the Chinese community.

Mr Tong said Singaporeans must engage in the arts, culture and heritage to foster understanding and empathy across generations and build inclusive shared experiences with fellow citizens, adding that the arts and culture offer opportunities to develop strong friendships and mutual trust.

“We must continue doing so and continue to bring people from a diversity of backgrounds together. We work with our communities to foster closeness and a culture of care and consideration for one another, enhancing the resilience of our society,” he said.

Mr Alvin Yapp, founder of The Intan Peranakan House Museum, said it was wonderful to see the community come together at the event. Singaporeans need to engage in the arts, culture and heritage that connect them, especially after getting through the Covid-19 pandemic, said the 53-year-old.

“At the end of the day, we’ve learnt through Covid-19 that what ties us together and keeps us thriving is family, culture, heritage and our identity,” he said, adding that food is an important part of culture for him, as it binds the local community and is essential to the Singaporean identity.

In his speech, Mr Tong said traditions such as Chinese New Year reunion meals and boisterous lohei sessions (tossing of raw fish salad) are part of Singapore’s intangible cultural heritage and represent values important to Singaporeans.

“Our values make our society resilient in difficult times,” he said, adding that organisations such as SFCCA and SCCC play important roles in efforts to maintain society’s harmony and in celebrating multiculturalism.

At the event, SCCC announced that it plans to launch an online repository of curated content from mid-2024, to serve as a go-to source of information for those who want to learn about Chinese culture.

The site will offer concise pieces of information with themes of art, food and language, as well as community resources.

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