Friday, 30 November 2012

'Live in China to understand its culture': Lee Kuan Yew

Doing this will make Singaporeans truly bicultural, says Lee Kuan Yew at the Business China Awards 2012
By Robin Chan, The Straits Times, 29 Nov 2012

THE man who has played a key role in growing China-Singapore ties yesterday stressed the need to appreciate how China's culture differs from Singapore's.

He urged Singaporeans to live in China for a long time in order to really understand Chinese culture and become truly bicultural.

"If we believe that because we speak Chinese, we understand what they speak, therefore we understand their culture, that is wrong," said former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, speaking at the Business China Awards 2012 dinner at the Resorts World Convention Centre. "We are westernised, China is not westernised. That makes a very big difference. For us, we follow the rule of law. For them, an agreement is the beginning of a long friendship, in which you make adjustments as you go along, considering what is fair."

Mr Lee is the patron of the organisation which he launched in 2007 with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to promote stronger cultural and economic ties between Singapore and China, and nurture a core of bicultural Singaporeans to engage China.

He said he learnt about the differences in culture through initial misunderstandings during the development of the Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-City. Singapore eventually adjusted to the Chinese way of doing business, he said, adding: "We realised, in China you do business the way the Chinese do it. That means you sign an agreement and it is the beginning of a long friendship."

The Suzhou Industrial Park was a joint project between Singapore and China in the 1990s. The Tianjin Eco-City is an ongoing project by the two countries to build a green, sustainable city.

Mr Lee later said in Mandarin that to be bicultural, Singaporeans should study at a Special Assistance Plan school such as Dunman High, then at a Chinese university like Tsinghua or Peking, also known as Beida, and then work in China for a few years.

"If you want to be bicultural, you need to live in China for a long time, and then you will really understand China's culture... Compete with them in China and only then will you understand just how capable the Chinese people are," he said.

Yesterday, he also presented three awards to Professor Arthur Lim Siew Ming, 78, the founding medical director at the Singapore National Eye Centre, Dr Loh Cheng, 37, residency training coordinator at Kunming Medical University's Second Affiliated Hospital, and property developer CapitaLand for their contributions to strengthening these relations.

Doc honoured for helping to fight blindness in China
By Esther Teo, The Straits Times, 29 Nov 2012

A SINGAPORE doctor whose efforts helped nearly 500,000 eye patients in China beat blindness has been honoured by a body set up to boost Singapore-China ties.

Professor Arthur Lim's keen philanthropic contributions won him the Excellence Award at the Business China Awards yesterday.

Prof Lim, 78, has been working to eradicate cataract blindness in China since 1986.

Back then, China had about four million people with cataract problems and faced a lack of doctors to perform the operations.

But under Prof Lim's leadership, more than 5,000 local specialists were trained in 10 eye centres, which he helped establish across the country. This helped nearly half a million eye patients.

By personally performing pro bono surgery and donating generously to the eye centres in China, he has enhanced relations between Singapore and China, the award organisers said yesterday.

Prof Lim was also given the Friendship Award in 1996 by the Chinese government. It is the highest award that can be bestowed on a foreign national.

At the awards ceremony at Resorts World Sentosa Convention Centre, where former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew was guest of honour, the Enterprise Award was also given to CapitaLand Group, which has developed more than 120 projects in 40 Chinese cities.

The Young Achiever Award went to Dr Loh Cheng, 37. He moved with his family to Yunnan 41/2 years ago to offer medical education and clinical services to the underprivileged.

He connected international humanitarian groups with the local Chinese authorities to ensure that international aid was given directly to those who needed it most.

Dr Loh said he was inspired by a desire to give back to society and to gain new experience, as well as a mentor who had done similar work in China.

"I wanted to do something that was meaningful... Having a small part in the education of physicians in Yunnan was also why I decided to make the move," he said. "It might not be everyone's cup of tea but if you have the necessary support from friends and family, it can be a very enriching experience in the non-material sense."

Business China is a networking group launched in 2007 by Mr Lee and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to boost interaction between the two countries. Its awards recognise businessmen, entrepreneurs, professionals, organisations and enterprises for their successful contributions in strengthening Singapore-China relations.

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