A clan group, whose legacy can be seen in iconic landmarks such as Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall and Fullerton Hotel, yesterday donated nearly $1 million to the new Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.
Calling the gesture "very meaningful", Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday that the Singapore Lam Ann Association donation will be a "great help" in promoting Chinese culture.
It gave $880,000 to mark its 88th anniversary. Mr Lee is patron of the 11-storey centre in Shenton Way that will be completed in 2016.
The gift was made at the clan group's anniversary celebration which was held together with a dinner reception for the 12th biennial World Convention for Lam Ann Clansmen.
In his address, Mr Lee paid tribute to the significant contributions made by the people from Lam Ann county in China and highlighted their well-known legacies. The concrete symbols of their famed skills in construction can be seen in the former Victoria Memorial, now refurbished and called Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.
Mr Lim Loh was its architect while his son, Lim Bo Seng, is a national war hero. A symbol of courage, he raised funds to fight the Japanese duringWorld War II. Also from Lam Ann was the late philanthropist Lee Kong Chian, who set up Lee Foundation, which helps the poor and supports efforts in areas such as education and culture.
"The Lam Ann Association was formed to help their clansmen settle down in Singapore. In the 21st century, its role has expanded and progressed, complementing the country's development. This included working in the areas of social development, economy, culture, among others," PM Lee said, addressing more than 3,500 Singaporeans and foreigners at Resorts World Sentosa.
Among those who flew in for the occasion were China's Madam Lui Jing, deputy director from the Quanzhou City People's Assembly, and Mr Huang Nankang, party secretary for Lam Ann City.
PM Lee also praised the clan group for its important role in Singapore's nation-building, including nurturing racial harmony and preserving traditional culture.
Today, there are close to 400,000 descendants from Lam Ann - or Nan'an - in Singapore, PM Lee noted. Among them are Ms Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, and MP Lee Bee Wah, both of whom attended the festivities yesterday.
Internationally renowned artist Tan Swie Hian, a Cultural Medallion recipient known for his calligraphic paintings, also hails from Lam Ann.
Yet another legacy of Mr Lim Loh is the 178-year-old Hong San See Temple in Mohamed Sultan Road.
It was restored at a cost of $3 million over four years to its earlier splendour, which Mr Lee said is a shining example of Lam Ann's craftsmanship.
When completed in 2010, the temple received a heritage award from Unesco.
The restoration also won the association the title of Clan of the Year, given by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, an umbrella body for more than 200 clan groups.
To laughter from the audience, PM Lee said of the temple: "It seems that for couples who are childless and praying for babies, a trip to the Hong San See Temple will bring good news."
This article was first published on November 21, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.