Between the covers: The Chinese in Singapore

Between the covers: The Chinese in Singapore
Independent Singapore Chinese historian Kua Bak Lim is the chief editor of book titled "A General History Of Chinese In Singapore".

SINGAPORE - The most comprehensive history of the Chinese in Singapore - dating as far back as 500 years before the founding of Singapore by Stamford Raffles in 1819 - will be published next year.

Some 34 local writers and scholars overseas led by independent Singapore Chinese historian Kua Bak Lim, the book's chief editor, have started work on the tome in Chinese.

The book is commissioned by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) for its 30th anniversary and Singapore's 50th birthday celebrations next year.

The team includes professors Yen Ching-hwang and C.F. Yong from Australia, Dr Zeng Ling from Xiamen, China, and local historians Neo Peng Fu, C.C. Chin and Lee Guan Kin.

Mr Kua, 66, and a council member of SFCCA, said yesterday that the book - A General History Of Chinese In Singapore - is expected to fill the gap left since Song Ong Siang's One Hundred Years' History Of The Chinese In Singapore. Song's book was first published in 1923.

Mr Kua said: "That was written in English and traces the history of the Chinese between 1891 and 1919 only. Besides updating the history to the present day, our book is able to dig further into the past as recent archaeological finds have shown that a Chinese community existed here as early as the 14th century."

The 450-page book in 18 chapters, he said, would cover all aspects of the Chinese community, from the clan associations and schools they set up since the 19th century, to the secret societies and political activities they were involved in over the years.

Other topics include Chinese businesses, arts and culture, the evolution of the language, and their religious practices.

SFCCA chairman Chua Thian Poh said the project, costing more than S$160,000, will be the Chinese community's "birthday present" to Singapore.

"The book will be launched when SFCCA celebrates its 30th anniversary at a gala dinner in November next year," he added.

Yesterday, SFCCA also announced the "My Singapore Story" Micro Film Competition which it organised with the newly formed Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre and in conjunction with its anniversary celebrations.

"It will be an excellent platform for the public to express their feelings and blessings to Singapore through their films as the nation marks its 50th year of independence," Mr Chua said.

The contest is open to all film enthusiasts and makers regardless of age, race and nationality.

The organising chairman, Dr Zhou Zhaocheng, 41, also an SFCCA council member, said the entries - in English or Chinese - should be between 30 seconds and 10 minutes in duration.

Details of the competition, such as prizes and entry forms, can be found on its official website: http://microfilm.zaobao. com. Entries close on Nov 30.

This article was first published on JUNE 24, 2014.
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