For Professionals
9 Feb 2008

Business China's Spring Reception (2008)

English Translation of Mandarin Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs(2008) Minster Wong Kan Seng 

Saturday, February 9 2008
The Glass Atrium, National Museum of Singapore

Mr Chua Thian Poh, Chairman of Business China
Ambassador Zhang Xiaokang, China's Ambassador to Singapore
Ambassador Chin Siat-Yoon, Singapore's Ambassador to China
Ms Dorothy Seet, Chairman of SingCham
Ladies and gentlemen

1. Good evening. Today is the third day of the Lunar New Year and I am very pleased to join you in this Spring Reception. Many of you are Singaporeans working overseas who came back during this Lunar New Year holiday. A warm welcome home to all of you. 

2. It is a traditional Chinese custom to spend time with family and friends during the Lunar New Year. The pace of life in society has accelerated and globalisation has brought increased opportunities for Singaporeans, many of whom are now working or studying overseas. This invariably puts pressure on family ties and social cohesion. We can strengthen social cohesion by maintaining strong ties with our family and friends. It is thus important that we continue to celebrate traditional festivals such as Lunar New Year with our family and friends.

Nurturing Bilingual and Bi-cultural Talents, Strengthening Ties between China and Singapore

3. Singapore is a small country and our economic survival depends on whether we can maintain our links with the world's major economies. China is an important driver of growth for Asia and the global economy, and it is poised to become a global economic powerhouse. Currently China is Singapore's 2nd largest trading partner and economic ties between both countries are deep and strong. Singapore needs to cultivate a pool of bilingual and bi-cultural talents to promote networking and cooperation between China and Singapore. 

4. Nurturing bilingual and bi-cultural talents is a major long term task that requires the coordinated efforts by both the government and the private sector. The objective of Business China, an organisation established by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, is to enthuse and encourage young Singaporeans to take a passionate interest in the Chinese culture and in learning and speaking Mandarin. The intention is not only to spur the learning of the Chinese language but also to promote Singapore's economic development. Business China can help Singaporean businessmen venture into China and, at the same time, promote interaction between entrepreneurs in China and our local business community. 

Encouraging Young Singaporeans to Learn Chinese: Overseas Singaporeans as Role Models

6. To encourage young Singaporeans to pick up the Chinese language and culture, we need to have in place a suitable environment and role models. Indeed many of our guests today are excellent role models. Many of you were educated in Singapore and you went on to pursue your business and professional interests in China. Your successes will motivate our young people.

7. Around 150,000 Singaporeans are currently working and studying worldwide. In order to strengthen the bonds between overseas Singaporeans and Singapore, the government has set up the Overseas Singaporean Unit (OSU) under the Prime Minister's Office to plan and coordinate multi-agency programmes and initiatives to engage the Overseas Singaporean community. The OSU and corporate partners have set up Overseas Singaporean Clubs in major cities in the world where there are large concentration of Singaporeans. These clubs are located in hotels owned or managed by Singaporeans and they act as venues for overseas Singaporeans to stay in touch with Singapore, through activities and the availability of Singapore newspapers or magazines and Singaporean cuisine.

Setting up of Overseas Singaporean Clubs in China

8. In September last year, we established two of these Overseas Singaporean Clubs in Sydney and Melbourne. This month, we will be opening a new club in London as well. Clubs in other large cities are also being planned. In the latter half of this year, we will be setting up Overseas Singaporean Clubs in China, in the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen. With these clubs, Singaporeans working and residing in China would be able to network and stay in touch with Singapore.

Concluding Remarks

9. It is apt for Business China to hold this Spring Reception in the National Museum of Singapore. This museum preserves Singapore's past for future generations. Indeed, Singapore's achievements have been written in the annals of our nation's history but our future success remains firmly in our hands for us to shape and mould.

10. On this note, I would like to wish everyone a most happy and prosperous Year of the Rat.