SINGAPORE - Having a good grasp of Mandarin is important for one to understand and appreciate the unique Singapore Chinese culture, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu on Monday (July 10), as she launched this year's Speak Mandarin Campaign.
This can be done by using stories as a platform to encourage Singaporeans to use Mandarin in their own comfortable way and share their own stories and life experiences.
Speaking in Mandarin, Ms Fu added that doing so will help Singaporeans instil a stronger sense of national identity and better understand our local Chinese history.
Ms Fu, who is also the MP of Yuhua, delivered her speech to an audience of about 350 at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, near Shenton Way.
Highlighting Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall as an example, Ms Fu said that there were exhibitions there about early Chinese pioneers such as Mr Lim Nee Soon and Mr Tan Chor Lam.
By having a good command of the language, one will be able to comprehend the letters and poems shown and make sense of the significance behind those exhibits, such as the pioneers' sense of patriotism, she said in her speech.
She called for Singaporeans to "start building the foundation of Mandarin from a young age, given how the language has become international".
The Speak Mandarin Campaign, in its 38th year, focuses on creating opportunities for Singaporeans to "explore, experience and enjoy Mandarin as a language that can be used and appreciated in everyday life", according to its press release.
This is because the use of Mandarin remains highly relevant, saidchairman of the Promote Mandarin Council, Mr Seow Choke Meng. He believes in "promoting immersive environments to enrich the language user's experience" through the campaign.
For that, the campaign will feature - for the first time - a My Story public speaking competition targeted at teens, for them to share their own stories in a fun and creative way.
The year-long campaign will also see the continuation of the Parent-Child Talent Competition - first launched in 2013 - for parents and children to create their own stories based on childhood memories.