Singapore's distinctive "Nanyang" style of Chinese culture will be advanced by a new centre which has the full support of the Government, the Prime Minister said yesterday in his Mandarin Rally speech.
Sharing a picture of the Singapore Chinese Culture Centre (SCCC), which will be housed in a 10-storey building in Shenton Way, Mr Lee Hsien Loong said that the centre will promote both traditional Chinese culture and the modern variant that has sprung up here.
"After many years of nurturing, Singapore Chinese culture has taken shape as the Nanyang style," he said, highlighting how the arts have come into their own.
In dance, for example, veteran dancer and choreographer Yan Choong Lian has introduced stylistic elements from other cultures to critical acclaim, while the Singapore Chinese Orchestra has also established its own Nanyang style to become a multi-cultural orchestra, he said.
Two men whom he singled out for praise for making the SCCC a reality were the president of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations Chua Thian Poh and veteran arts administrator Choo Thiam Siew, who stepped down in March this year as president of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts to become the SCCC's first president.
Mr Lee urged supporters of Chinese culture to come forward and help, calling the project a deeply meaningful and far-reaching one for the Chinese community here.
He also said a shared cultural heritage is one reason Singapore businesses have generally done well in China.
"To take advantage of this opportunity, we need to help our young understand their culture better, help them connect internationally, while ensuring they remain rooted to Singapore and our culture," he said.
He also used the opportunity to encourage more entrepreneurs to participate in forums organised by Business China, a government platform that matchmakes local businessmen with their mainland counterparts.
The revival of xinyao - a local music genre - also received mention.
Mr Lee even crooned the first line of a song penned by xinyao pioneer Liang Wern Fook, Small Stream That Flows Forever. "Who does not dream, when we are young?" he sang, drawing cheers from the audience.
He used the song to speak of Singapore's success, saying "our small stream has flowed continuously", thanks to each person doing his bit and achieving something extraordinary together.
"In Singapore, it doesn't matter if you are young or old, not only can you dream but there are many opportunities to fulfil those dreams," he said.
"Even if you are just an ordinary Singaporean."
This article was published on Aug 18 in The Straits Times.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.