New centre to host big CNY gathering

The $110 million, 11-storey Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre in Shenton Way was completed about three months ago.
The $110 million, 11-storey Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre in Shenton Way was completed about three months ago.ST PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN

Five years in the making, the long-awaited Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) will host the Chinese community's largest Chinese New Year gathering today.

It is the first official function to be held at the new $110 million, 11-storey building in Shenton Way.

More than 800 community leaders, government officials and representatives from all sectors of society will gather for the event, jointly organised by SCCC, the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) and Business China.

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam is the guest of honour at the event, which will be attended by a number of ministers and MPs, including Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing.

SFCCA first announced plans for the centre to promote local Chinese culture at its Chinese New Year gathering in January 2012, and received strong support from the Government both in construction costs and operating expenses.

It was also offered the 5,074 sq m plot of land just next to the Singapore Conference Hall as the building site.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had, in at least two of his National Day Rally speeches, voiced the Government's support for the centre and explained the significance of the uniqueness of Singapore Chinese culture.

"It's an emotional anchor and moral compass for many Singaporeans. We should preserve our cultural roots lest we lose ourselves in this ever-changing world," he said.

Designed by DP Architects, the centre has a multi-purpose hall, a 532-seat theatre, a rooftop garden, studios for recitals and music recordings and rooms for talks and exhibitions.

Construction began in late 2014 and was completed about three months ago.

SCCC's 13 staff members moved from their temporary office at SFCCA's headquarters in Toa Payoh to the new building late last month, said the centre's chief executive officer Choo Thiam Siew.

The centre also appointed Mr Shaun Phua, 42, a former senior officer at the National Heritage Board, as its deputy CEO last August.

Meanwhile, the first Chinese opera performance held at the theatre on Jan 15 was staged by the Traditional Arts Centre.

A Chinese poetry-writing competition organised by the General Society of Chinese Classical Poetry and the Chou Sing Chu Foundation was held at the centre's recital studio on Jan 21.

"The centre's facilities, especially the theatre, are fully booked for most weekends till the end of the year," Mr Choo said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2017, with the headline 'New centre to host big CNY gathering'. Print Edition | Subscribe