Zaobao 'brought Chinese together'

SINGAPORE - Lianhe Zaobao, one of the world's oldest existing Chinese newspapers, has played a significant role in nation building in Singapore, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Friday at a dinner celebrating its 90th anniversary.

The daily has helped bring the diverse Chinese community together through its brand of constructive journalism, he added, while preserving and upholding traditional culture and values of Chinese Singaporeans.

It has done this by promoting a love of the Chinese language, especially among the young, he told a 500-strong crowd, which included Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim.

The daily was a result of a 1983 merger of two newspapers formed in the 1920s, the Nanyang Siang Pau and the Sin Chew Jit Poh.

According to data collated by research firm Nielsen, it currently reaches more than 700,000 readers each day.

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) chairman Lee Boon Yang said that Zaobao, which has had to overcome many obstacles over the years, is now taking on a new challenge - the digital revolution.

"Zaobao has prepared itself to ride the wave," he said, revealing that the paper was working towards forging a tighter integration between print and online services. "As part of a determined effort to position itself for the future, it has been enhancing its online and new media platforms."

Zaobao Online now gets more than 10 million visitors a month, and logs an average of four million page views a day, of which 85 per cent comes from China. The paper is also available on smartphones as an app and is active on social media.

The President said Zaobao "has built up a reputation for its insightful perspective into political and economic affairs in East Asia and South-east Asia".

The paper's role in Singapore has also been strengthened by its various print offerings. Zaobao has a range of publications that cater to primary and secondary school students, and as of last month, even to pre-school children.

To help new immigrants integrate into Singapore, it has a weekly feature entitled "Zaobao Crossroads", which focuses on the interests of this group.

Dr Tan also credited the daily for attracting younger journalists. "This practice of attracting fresh talent must be maintained for the newspaper to keep abreast with the interests of younger readers and to navigate new challenges in a rapidly changing Singapore and world."

Friday's two-hour long celebration, held at the Shangri-La Hotel, also included a cake cutting ceremony and performances by entertainers such as Korean soprano Jeong Ae Ree.

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