SHARE
Facebook Share
Twitter Share
HIDE
MCCY Logo
Singapore Government
Contact us · Feedback · Sitemap · FAQs

New book to honour nine Hainanese who have contributed significantly to the society

Speech by Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth at the Hainan Culture and Heritage Centre’s anniversary dinner cum book launch
27 September 2013
Dr Chau Sik Ting, President of the Hainan Culture and Heritage Research Centre
Mr Foo Qingyun, Chairman, Organising Committee; 
Board members of the Hainan Culture and Heritage Research Centre
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
 
1. I’m very happy to be here this evening to launch the new books on our Hainanese culture and our leaders, and also to celebrate the Heritage Research Centre’s anniversary dinner. This event is also personally meaningful to me because as you know I am a second generation Singaporean Hainanese and a proud member of the Hainanese community. Because we are one of the smaller dialect groups in Singapore, we tend to feel a sense of camaraderie with one another. As my father used to tell me, if you go to a Chicken Rice seller and speak to him in Hainanese, you will get more meat. I’m not going to speak to you in Hainanese tonight, although you are happy to give me better food. But I am still learning and I am still improving my Hainanese. So I’d keep to English and Mandarin. The Hainanese, I will reserve for later occasions. But I think this sense of kinship and bonding has always been an important part of the Hainanese community and long may that continue.
 
2. The Hainanese came to Singapore in larger numbers only around the 1850s, much later than the other dialect groups in Singapore. By the time our forefathers got here, all the other dialect groups had already established themselves, and were very well-entrenched in the various trades and crafts. So as all of you know the history by now. the Hainanese took up the remaining jobs in SIngapore, which were largely in the service industry. Many worked as cooks and domestic workers in British colonial homes. They became adept at cooking, and later many would start their own kopi-tiams and food stalls.
 
3. So if there is one thing which we can take pride in as Hainanese, is that we are the pioneers of Singapore’s food culture. Many of our iconic dishes like the Hainanese chicken rice, kopi and toast with eggs, and even the Singapore Sling were all invented by Hainanese. And today, modern incarnations of the kopitiam continue in successful chains like Ya Kun and Killiney Kopitiam. And Hainanese continue to helm many good cafes and restaurants all over Singapore, like our Kopitam chains, the Hans café chain and Shashik restaurant at Far East Shopping Centre.  
 
4. Another trait of the Hainanese community is the importance we accord to education. All Hainanese parents believe very strongly that a good education will pave the way for a better life, and so everyone seeks to train their children to be scholars. My background is no exception. My grandfather came from Hainan island to South-East Asia and together with my dad when he was a young boy when they were in Malaysia. And my grandfather came with pretty much nothing, with just a shirt on his back, worked from very little in Malaysia, but he made sure that my dad had a good education. And today, I think all of us appreciate the importance of education and knowledge. It is a value that is deeply instilled into the community. But I think we should also be grateful for the good schools and the fair and just system of meritocracy that we have in Singapore. This was what attracted my dad to move from Malaysia to Singapore as a young man. It is this same system meritocracy that has enabled me and so many Hainanese in Singapore to make progress in our lives and to pursue what we want to do. Indeed, though small as we may be as a community, we can be proud to have many prominent leaders across diverse fields in academia, business, medicine, law and government.
 
5. So tonight, we honour in this new book nine Hainanese who have contributed significantly to society:
 
i. Mr Mah Bow Tan, MP for Tampines GRC and former Min(MND)
ii. Mr Ngiam Tong Dow, Pro-Chancellor, NUS
iii. Prof Lim Chong Yah, Emeritus Professor of Economics, NTU
iv. Prof Cham Tao Soon, Chancellor, SIM
v. Justice Chao Hick Tin, Judge of Appeal
vi. Mrs Fang Ai Lian, Chairman, Great Eastern Holdings Limited
vii. Dr Han Cheng Fong, former CEO, Fraser & Neave
viii. The late Dr Chao Yoke San, Father of Justice Chao Hick Tin and Dr Chau Sik Ting
ix. And the late Mr Wu Teh Yao , former Acting Vice-Chancellor, Nanyang University (1976-1977)
 
I think we should give all of them a round of applause.
 
6. There are many more stories that we can write and I believe that this is a start of an endeavour which we can do to record the contributions of Hainanese in Singapore. And I hope that these stories
 will inspire the younger members of our community to work hard, to excel and distinguish themselves with their contributions to our nation.
 
7. These books celebrating Hainanese culture were made possible by Dr Chau and his team. So I would like to congratulate the team for all the good work that they have done and for putting together the research. Thank you very much.
 
8. I hope we will all as a community continue to do whatever we can, to preserve and strengthen our Hainanese tradition, culture and heritage.
 
9. So let me continue on, not in Hainanese but in Mandarin.
 
今天很高兴出席海南文化研究中心创会庆典兼新书发布会。
 
新加坡海南文化研究中心是由一群关心、热爱海南文化的乡亲组织成立的。这个团体旨在传承发扬海南文化与精神,并提供一个平台让海南乡亲联络感情、促进全世界海南人的进步与发展。
 
我们的海南先辈于1850年起开始过番来新加坡工作。他们多数从事服务业,在别人家当厨师、帮忙打点家中的一切。久而久之,他们也变得善于烹饪,有的还自立门户,自己经营咖啡店。如今,我们在新加坡常吃的美食都出自海南人的发明。虽然先辈们在新加坡的开始煎熬,但他们所展示出不屈不挠的精神值得我们大家的学习。
 
精神是一个民族的脊梁,而文化和传统是一个族群发展的基石。新加坡海南文化研究中心就凭着这个信念,不遗余力的推广海南文化和精神。中心的理事们积极从事海南文化研究及传播工作,为的就是希望把知识和其他人分享。 
 
如今,虽然时代已变,但海南人的精神依然没变。新加坡海南文化研究中心所编辑出版近的《海南精神系列丛书》就记载了海南移民的精神和杰出表现。
 
《世界因你而精彩》这本书展示了九名新加坡海南杰出人物的高尚品格和精神风采。这本书记载了他们为新加坡做出的贡献,是第一本弘扬海南精神的人物专访。书中也记录了许多宝贵的故事供我们年轻一代的新加坡人学习。我希望年轻的新加坡人能够本着这九位海南杰出人物所展示出的精神和意志力,把新加坡推向另一个高峰。
 
今天晚上大家欢聚一堂,除了要祝贺新书发布会成功,我也呼吁更多的海南人积极的参与中心的工作和活动。弘扬海南精神、传承海南文化,是我们每一个海南人的责任和义务。我希望在座的大家能和政府携手为新加坡作出更多的贡献。
 
在此,我也要祝新加坡海南文化研究中心再创卓越,也祝大家身体健康、万事如意!
 
谢谢大家!
Last Updated: 06 November 2013

Quick Poll

Do you like our website?

Join us

Get started in a challenging and meaningful career with MCCY. Be involved in strengthening community bonds, encouraging volunteerism and philanthropy, engaging youth, developing and promoting sports, heritage and the arts. Experience a range of challenging and interesting portfolios to build a cohesive and resilient society, and deepen the sense of national identity and affinity for Singapore. Join us in building a vibrant and people-centered culture!

Find out more.



Singapore Quality Class Logo