Take interest in other communities to foster closer ties: President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob, with 11-year-old Yu Neng Primary School pupil Alexis Foo, exchanging Chinese New Year greetings with other guests at the spring reception at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre yesterday. With them were (from left) Minister
President Halimah Yacob, with 11-year-old Yu Neng Primary School pupil Alexis Foo, exchanging Chinese New Year greetings with other guests at the spring reception at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre yesterday. With them were (from left) Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Ng Chee Meng (side to camera); Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing; Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu; Education Minister Ong Ye Kung; Manpower Minister Josephine Teo; Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann; Mayor of Central Singapore District Denise Phua; Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower Low Yen Ling; Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon; and MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

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 at an event organised yesterday by the SCCC and the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations to celebrate Chinese New Year, Madam Halimah lauded the importance of taking an interest in other communities, and 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 Musical Association will also be incorporating Malay and Peranakan elements in its opening act for this year's edition of the Cultural Extravaganza in May.

"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 this is a key feature 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 the second half of this year at the centre's Marina Bay premises, and will run for five years.

President Halimah Yacob and about 1,000 guests at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) took part in a mass dance led by performers on stage during the Spring Reception 2019 yesterday. The event was jointly organised by the SCCC and Singapore
President Halimah joins in Chinese New Year cheer: President Halimah Yacob and about 1,000 guests at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) took part in a mass dance led by performers on stage during the Spring Reception 2019 yesterday. The event was jointly organised by the SCCC and Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations to celebrate Chinese New Year. 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".

He added: "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 Singapore has a multiracial society, "our culture bears the imprint of influences drawn from different races in Singapore".

But Singaporeans 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2019, with the headline 'Take interest in other communities to foster closer ties: President'. Print Edition | Subscribe