Singapore has developed its own variation of Chinese culture and an identity that resonates with Chinese Singaporeans as well as Singaporeans of other races, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last night.
Speaking at a dinner to mark the 95th anniversary of the Lianhe Zaobao newspaper, he cited a series of stories published in The Straits Times and Zaobao in February this year that was based on an exchange of six letters between The Straits Times' Yuen Sin and the Chinese daily's Ng Wai Mun.
Both journalists, who are bilingual, had exchanged views on issues such as the Special Assistance Plan schools that offer more opportunities for enriched Chinese-language learning, and the Chinese Singaporean identity.
The duo reflected the younger generation's views on Chinese Singaporean identity and culture, and it is different from that of the older generation, he said.
"They grew up in our multicultural society and understand our culture is unique, and not just a copy of another country's culture and heritage," he told the 500 guests at the gala event held at Shangri-La Hotel.
He noted that Zaobao's NewsHub editor Han Yong May had said in a commentary on the feature by the two journalists that it would take at least three generations for a population's collective identity to form.
PM Lee expressed the hope that Zaobao, with other Chinese groups, will create programmes that encourage people to preserve and promote Chinese culture.
This will help strengthen "our national identity" and inspire the young to deepen the understanding of their own culture and pass it on to future generations, he said.
MAINTAINING MEDIA'S CREDIBILITY
I hope all Singapore media, not just Zaobao, will retain their credibility and provide quality coverage for their readers. In this age where fake news is prevalent, this has become even more important.
PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG
PM Lee also acknowledged the efforts of Zaobao to transform itself in the face of technological disruption to the media industry, as well as its efforts to promote Chinese culture and language.
He said the almost 100-year-old newspaper is doing well partly because it serves as a window to the Chinese culture and the world for Singapore's younger generation.
Today, Zaobao is not just a staple for Chinese-educated elderly readers. "As the younger generations become more bilingual, you provide an alternative perspective from the English media," he said.
In doing so, the paper gives them a more rounded perspective on the world and Singapore, he added.
Zaobao's competitive edge also lies in how it interprets regional developments through a Singaporean lens, PM Lee said.
"Singaporean readers find the views relatable, and foreign Chinese readers find them refreshing," he said. "As international attention on China and the region grows, Zaobao has continued to provide an objective and credible perspective on developments in China and Asia."
Zaobao, he added, has established considerable trust among its readers. He cited how its reporting perspective remains objective and balanced amid the tensions between China and the United States.
In an April poll done by a China news agency and university, it ranked as the most influential Chinese new media outlet in the world.
He referred to a commentary by former Zaobao editor Lim Jim Koon that was published in the daily yesterday. Mr Lim wrote that Zaobao needs to adapt to the times, but it must remain credible.
PM Lee said: "Actually, I hope all Singapore media, not just Zaobao, will retain their credibility and provide quality coverage for their readers. In this age where fake news is prevalent, this has become even more important.''
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