More hands on deck for bicultural task force

Formed in 2011, Bicultural Taskforce's chairman is Minister of State for Education, and Communications and Information Sim Ann

Four Members of Parliament have joined a group tasked with improving the Government's engagement with the Chinese community, and hope to tap their contacts to find novel ways to promote Chinese language and culture.

The quartet - Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC), Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), Mr Ang Hin Kee (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Ms Ellen Lee (Sembawang GRC) - join eight other MPs in the Bicultural Taskforce. Formed in 2011, its chairman is Minister of State for Education, and Communications and Information Sim Ann.

Mr Baey, who fills the newly created post of vice-chairman, told The Straits Times that he hopes to address the challenge of getting better feedback from members of the Chinese community. They tend to be reserved and less forthcoming when it comes to giving their opinions, he added.

"It's for us to build the relationship, to encourage them to open up, and to have the sensitivity to read between the lines," said Mr Baey, who has a long association with Chinese arts and culture groups of 20 years.

Mr Ang said he seeks views from the ground by posting in Chinese on Facebook weekly. Mr Liang rubs shoulders with clan association leaders and is president of the Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation.

Ms Lee is the legal adviser to Nam Hwa Opera and Chinese temple Nam Hong Siang Theon, and wants to help the groups navigate policies such as extension of land leases, and to tap government grants.

Ms Sim said on Monday that her task force will aim to help Chinese-speaking seniors tell their stories to the Singapore Memory Project, and find ways to help those who wish to improve their Mandarin, but have no place to practise it.

The task force's other members are Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Low Yen Ling, and MPs Gan Thiam Poh, Ang Wei Neng, Chia Shi-Lu, Alex Yam, Sitoh Yih Pin and Tin Pei Ling.

chinlian@sph.com.sg

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