Sunday 29 September 2013

Singapore Hainanese heritage explored in 2 new books

Works address migration of dialect group here, along with prominent members
By Leong Weng Kam, The Straits Times, 28 Sep 2013

FORMER MP and clan leader Chau Sik Ting, now 73, wants to promote the research of Hainanese culture and heritage, as well as the Chinese dialect group's contributions to modern Singapore.

The general practitioner and MP for Thomson between 1980 and 1984 formed the Hainan Culture and Heritage Research Centre in 2011.

The centre has just published its first two books - a two-volume set in Chinese - featuring nine top Hainanese in Singapore including economist Lim Chong Yah and former minister Mah Bow Tan, and a collection of essays on the history of Hainanese migration. Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong launched the centre and the books at a dinner attended by about 300 guests at the Marriott Hotel last night.

Dr Chau, a former president of the Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan, said the centre aims to leave "something" behind for the Hainanese community here which is about 200,000 strong.

It is the fourth-largest Chinese dialect group here after the Hokkiens, Teochews and Cantonese.

"We want them to know what their forefathers have done for Singapore and hope that their spirit of adventure, hard work and perseverance will inspire them," added Dr Chau who chairs the centre.

The centre's secretary-general Foo Kok Pheow, 73, said it would also be linking up with Hainanese from all over the world with its programmes.

The books' chief editor Lim Hong Too, 83, said the volume of essays comprises mainly papers from Chinese scholars who attended a seminar on Hainanese migration organised by the centre in China two years ago.

Miss Vicky Han, 52, writer of the two-volume book of profiles, said it took her two years to complete the task.

Other personalities she featured are the late Confucian scholar Wu Teh Yao, retired civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow, Great Eastern Holdings chairman Fang Ai Lian, real estate veteran Han Cheng Fong and SIM University chairman Cham Tao Soon.

Also featured are Dr Chau's late father Chao Yoke San, a Chinese community leader and philanthropist, and Dr Chau's younger brother, Court of Appeal Judge Chao Hick Tin.

The centre is organising a public forum on Hainanese migration and the two new books at the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations in Toa Payoh today between 2pm and 5pm. Admission is free.

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