Having a keen interest in other communities can foster stronger bonds: President Halimah Yacob

President Halimah Yacob addressing guests during Spring Reception 2019 at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre on Feb 7, 2019.
President Halimah Yacob addressing guests during Spring Reception 2019 at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre on Feb 7, 2019.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - An upcoming exhibition by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) will showcase how Chinese culture in Singapore has evolved and been shaped by other cultures, a move that President Halimah Yacob believes could help strengthen the country's social glue.

Speaking on Thursday (Feb 7) at an event jointly organised by the SCCC and Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations to celebrate the Chinese New Year, Madam Halimah lauded the importance of taking an interest in other communities as she cited examples.

For instance, local Malay acapella group Juz-B performed Chinese songs at SCCC's Cultural Extravaganza last year, which is an event that aims to present Singapore Chinese culture in a more relatable and accessible way.

Local opera troupe Siong Leng Music Association will also be incorporating Malay and Peranakan elements in their opening act for this year's edition of the Cultural Extravaganza.

"These innovative ways of showcasing our culture are important in fostering greater understanding among diverse communities, reminding us that we have much in common. It also serves as a social glue that unites our multicultural society," said Madam Halimah, adding that it is a key feature that immigrants will need to embrace.

"For this reason, the SCCC is not just for the Singaporean Chinese community, but a place for all Singaporeans. Similarly, I hope the Chinese community can take a keen interest in other communities in Singapore, to foster stronger bonds between Singaporeans from different backgrounds."

The SCCC exhibition will be launched in October this year at the centre's Marina Bay premises, and will run for five years.



President Halimah Yacob viewing the exhibition by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre on Feb 7, 2019. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SCCC chief executive Low Sze Wee said the exhibition "will explore the distinctiveness of Singapore Chinese culture, including ways in which Chinese culture has found synergies with other ethnic cultures to transform into today's Singapore Chinese culture".

Added Mr Low: "We hope that the exhibition and our programmes will not only reach out to those who are already familiar with our Chinese culture, but also those from other ethnic communities, to build the next generation of cultural enthusiasts."

Madam Halimah also noted that as a multiracial society, "our culture bears the imprint of influences drawn from different races in Singapore".

But Singaporean of different races still share many common values and practices.

"We place emphasis on families as the foundation of society. This is why Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali are times for reunions," she said.