A Singapore Government Agency Website
Arts & Heritage

Learning about our heritage and contributions from the Chinese business pioneers

Speech by Mr. Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Transport & Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth at the launch of “Chinese business pioneers – supporting Singapore’s education” Travelling Exhibition and bilingual Hwa Chong Heritage Trail on 9 March 2019 at Hwa Chong Institution

Mr Robson Lee, Chairman, HCI Board of Directors

Mrs Rathi Parimalan, Superintendent, West 1 Cluster

Mr Pang Choon How, Principal, HCI

Mr Ng Siew Quan, Director, SYSNMH Board

Mr Wan Shung Ming, Director, SYSNMH Board

Teachers and Students

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Good morning to you all! I am very happy to join you today to launch the “Chinese Business Pioneers – Supporting Singapore’s Education” Travelling Exhibition and Hwa Chong Heritage Trail, organized in conjunction with Singapore’s Bicentennial and Hwa Chong Institution’s 100th anniversary.

    Commemorating our shared heritage

  2. 2019 is a special year for Singapore as we commemorate the 200th anniversary of Sir Stamford Raffles’ arrival in Singapore – a key turning point in our history. Anniversaries are often an opportune time for us to reflect on our past as well as look forward to our future, and our Bicentennial is no different.  This year, we are not just looking back at the past 200 years but beyond that, to the developments and influences which have shaped Singapore since at least the 14th Century.  Through this reflection, we can gain a deeper understanding of who we are today, and where we would like to go in future. 
  3. Our shared heritage is not merely a broad narrative of Singapore’s history, but comes alive in the personal stories of our pioneers, and the role that they and our schools played in the development of modern Singapore. There are few better places to start learning about these stories than through initiatives like this travelling exhibition and heritage trail, developed in collaboration with Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall (SYSNMH). I would like to commend Hwa Chong for supporting the nation-wide commemoration of our Bicentennial through this effort. To the students involved, thank you for your hard work! I am sure you have learnt much about our early pioneers and your school’s history from your teachers and the staff of SYSNMH.

    Upholding a spirit of giving and culture of contribution

  4. The travelling exhibition, titled Chinese Business Pioneers – Supporting Singapore’s Education highlights personalities such as Tan Kah Kee and Lee Kong Chian, who contributed significantly to Hwa Chong’s founding and development, as well as Tan Lark Sye, who played an important role in establishing the first university for overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia. Their actions reflect their spirit of giving, and their belief in the importance of investing in education – values which we have all benefitted from. I am glad to learn that the exhibition will travel to various locations around the country1 so that more members of the public will have a chance to learn more about these pioneers’ stories and how they have contributioned to Singapore.
  5. As Hwa Chong marks its centennial this year, I hope that we will not just look back on the lives of those who have come before us, but think about the kind of impact and legacy we would like to leave for those who come after us. At Hwa Chong, we are blessed to have reminders of these pioneers within our campus, which the accompanying Heritage Trail here will highlight. I believe that the Trail will allow us to gain a greater understanding and better appreciation of the stories of our Chinese pioneers, as seen and told through the context of the school’s history.

    Fostering mutual respect and being future-ready

  6. I am sure that many of us are familiar with one of Hwa Chong’s core values, “己立立人,己达达人”, a commitment to creating win-win situations for all. Fostering a culture of giving is one way of achieving this. Another way is to show respect for others by keeping an open mind towards those from a different social or cultural background. It is only in reaching out that we can build bridges and forge common ground to achieve our shared aspirations.
  7. Another one of Hwa Chong’s core values is “自强不息”, a determination to excel and strive for continual improvement. I am glad to see this being reflected in Hwa Chong’s commitment to nurturing students who are equipped with critical thinking, entrepreneurship and leadership skills. These are skills needed to thrive in our world today. Equally important is the need to understand and learn from both the East and West, and to be adept at navigating different cultures. I urge all Hwa Chongians to continue strengthening your bilingual proficiency through opportunities like this Exhibition and Heritage Trail, and to maintain a bicultural outlook. Let me now continue in Mandarin.
  8. 大家早上好。今年是新加坡开埠200周年。所谓鉴往知来,承前启后,通过了解历史,我们的年轻一代能在新的立足点上延续先辈的奋斗精神,迈向新的里程碑。
  9. 华中历史文化之旅是华中和晚晴园孙中山南洋纪念馆携手合作的项目,目的是追寻杰出先驱人物的足迹,了解前人创业的艰辛历程、以及他们热心公益,造福社会的伟大事迹。另外,通过润物细无声——华商领袖对新加坡教育之贡献巡回展,我们将认识陈嘉庚先生、李光前博士和陈六使先生等人,了解他们如何本着己立立人,己达达人的精神,出钱出力,创建和资助本地的多所学校和大专学府;了解他们如何实践取诸社会,用诸社会的理念,创办报纸和文化机构、兴建慈善医院和义务诊所。由此可见,那一辈先贤的同心协力,为新加坡今天的繁荣昌盛奠定了稳固和持续发展的基础。
  10. 教育是百年树人的大业、文化知识的传承。创建于1919年的华中,可以说是和新加坡的发展历程呼吸与共,而华中能有今天的辉煌成就,成为我国的顶尖学府之一,陈嘉庚先生和李光前博士的贡献功不可没。我相信参加华中历史文化之旅的人,将有机会参观云树葱茏的美丽校园,亲身感受学校的宏伟气势和浓厚的文化氛围,尤其是进一步领悟先贤一脉相传的饮水思源的精神,这种体验不仅真实美好,更具有特殊的意义。
  11. 我衷心希望华中历史文化之旅 润物细无声——华商领袖对新加坡教育之贡献巡回展成功举行。最后,我谨祝福母校百尺竿头,更进一步,迈向更锦绣的未来!谢谢!


  12. With this, I declare the Travelling Exhibition and Hwa Chong Heritage Trail open! Thank you, and have an enriching day ahead!

Speeches Arts & Heritage 2019
Last updated on 29 March 2019