Knowing one's roots makes it easier to face challenges in the world: George Yeo

Former Foreign Minister George Yeo officially launches his book "George Yeo On Bonsai, Banyan and the Tao?" at the Esplanade. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Being secure in one's identity and roots will enable people to unite and face future challenges together, said former Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo on Wednesday.

"When we are sure of who we are, we can accept everyone for who he is, from anywhere in the world, whatever race or religion. But when we are not clear about who we are, then every encounter is tense," he said at the launch of the Chinese edition of his book.

He also underlined the need to respect the differences and uniqueness of each individual, whether in a family, society or country. In doing so, true unity will emerge, he added.

The book, George Yeo On Bonsai, Banyan and the Tao, is a collection of his speeches and writings and was first published in English.

He also said that "if we are able to proceed to the future on a common journey, how strong we can be, how intimate our bonds and how when the bonds are intimate, we can do big things."

The book launch at the Singapore Art Museum was attended by 300 guests, including members of Chinese clan associations and businessmen.

Professor Wang Gungwu, in his speech, lauded Mr Yeo's contribution to nation building as a politician for more than 20 years.

Professor Wang, who is chairman of the East Asian Institute, said the book not only looks at the past, but also considers the future and offers insights to younger generations.

Mr Yeo quit politics after the team he led in Aljunied GRC lost to the Workers' Party in the 2011 general election.

Mr Eric Chu, chairman of the ruling Kuomintang party in Taiwan, praised Mr Yeo in a video message, saying he was an outstanding politician and top thinker who was able to comprehensively distill views of the world and Singapore as well as religion, including Catholism and Taoism.

Mr Chu, who is mayor of New Taipei City, could not attend the event as many victims of the recent fire at Formosa Water Park were still in hospital.

The book was launched in Hong Kong last week and will make its debut in Taiwan on 28 August.

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