Lee Kuan Yew says families should speak Mandarin at home

Singaporeans should not give up on their Chinese language, said former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew at a dialogue session at World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention on Friday.

He said: "Everybody knows you got to do English, otherwise you won't get on in Singapore...you won't get on in international companies and so on.

"But if you give up Chinese, you have lost something very valuable, and you mustn't give it up.

"I have spent a whole lifetime catching up with my Chinese, but it is important that we know ourselves and that we understand bilingual language and the spoken language."

Mr Lee said that Singaporeans who are well versed in Mandarin can help the Chinese businesses that are venturing into the region.

"Chinese is also a must because if you haven't got that, you will not have the self-confidence that you should have on your Chinese," he said. "Secondly, you cannot take the advantage on the rise of China and the Chinese will go out in the region and we can be their pathfinders apart from going there and doing business, so it is absolutely essential that we keep speaking Chinese."

Mr Lee also expressed concern that more families in Singapore are speaking English at home. He said: "I'm worried that more and more families are speaking English because they want children to learn English.

"I think it's a mistake, they will learn English in school anyway and they should keep up their Mandarin at home so that the child will naturally speak Mandarin."

During the 45-minute dialogue held at the Resorts World at Sentosa, Mr Lee spoke on a range of topics from bilateral relations between China and Taiwan to the economics situation in the United States and Europe.

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