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Speech by Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth at the Launch of the Singapore Biographical Database of Chinese Personalities on 1 February 2019 at The Pod, National Library Building

新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会理事会成员,

新加坡国立大学、南洋理工大学以及各学府的各位学者和研究员,

各位宗乡会馆会员、文化遗产团体成员,

各位乐捐者,各位义工,

女士们,先生们:

 

大家晚上好!

2          今天是个特别的日子。今年是新加坡开埠200周年,李显龙总理在几天前就为我们举办的一系列纪念活动掀开序幕。这个里程碑也是一个很好的契机,让我们深入了解新加坡的历史,反思我国的发展历程。我们的先辈付出了巨大的努力和牺牲,为我国做出许多贡献,造就了今天的新加坡。因此,我很高兴今晚能够推出新加坡人物传记数据库(Singapore Biographical Database of Chinese Personalities),这里头就记载了许多华人先贤的事迹以及他们对新加坡的贡献。

 

启发新加坡人接触、了解及深刻领会华人先贤的付出

 

3       在这里,我首先要感谢宗乡总会发起这项非常有意义的计划。让我感到非常高兴的是,华社各界人士也支持这个项目,协助保存我们的共同历史。

 

4         新加坡人物传记数据库记载了19世纪至21世纪华人先贤的贡献。这份宝贵的历史文献能让未来的新加坡人了解先辈们的故事,领会先辈在面对瞬息万变的环境和艰巨的挑战时,如何坚韧不拔的精神地开创新的道路,并慷慨解囊,造福人群。

 

5         华社的许多成功人士,都为公益事业尽心尽力。

 

6         这些人士就包括李光前先生 (Lee Kong Chian) 。李先生是成功的企业家,也是成功的慈善家,他对推广教育和扫盲事业不遗余力,曾多次通过李氏基金捐款给国家图书馆和各个教育机构。李氏基金也捐款给国家图书馆建设基金,兴建今天矗立在维多利亚街,这栋美轮美奂的国家图书馆大楼。

 

7         另一位著名华商、社区领袖及慈善家胡亚基先生 (Hoo Ah Kay) 也一样热心公益。他在实龙岗路买了土地,兴建别墅,并将周围的园地开辟成一座种满了各种植物花草的花园,每逢农历新年都会开放给大众娱乐消遣。这个花园虽然已经走入历史,但是我们还是将那一带称为黄埔区 (Whampoa),纪念这位先贤。


8         同样地,林义顺先生 (Lim Nee Soon) 也是一位备受尊敬的社区领袖,也是当年最具影响力的商人之一。他为公益事业尽心尽力、慷慨解囊,也资助本地教育机构,例如他和陈嘉庚先生 (Tan Kah Kee) 共同创办的华侨中学。此外,林义顺先生还捐出实里达一带的地皮,作为华人坟地用途。

 

9       数据库里的200位华人先贤传记,是配合我国开埠200周年,并根据他们的社会地位和影响力整理收录的。有了这个数据库,公众可以更了解多位华人先贤之间的联系,例如我们刚才提到的李光前先生、胡亚基先生和林义顺先生。此外,研究人员也能从中查到一些较鲜为人知的人物,了解他们的事迹。但与此同时,我们也明白还有多位先贤的传记有待收录,负责数据库的团队将探讨和社区伙伴及组织合作,收录更多先贤传记,丰富数据库的内容。

 

图书馆局努力不懈,记录我国历史、保存和宣扬我国文化遗产

10        这个数据库是国家图书馆管理局 (National Library Board) 在记录我国历史、保存和宣扬我国文化遗产工作的一部分。过去几年来,图书馆理局不遗余力,记录我国历史,范围涵盖了我国的经济发展、社会发展、各个机构和组织,以及许多人文方面的历史。有了新加坡人物传记数据库这样的平台,公众将能更容易接触我国的文化遗产。

 

11      我们正与许多社群合作,保留他们独有的故事,与公众分享。其中一个合作项目就由新加坡国家档案馆 (National Archives of Singapore) 和国家图书馆管理局,与我国四大种族的主要团体紧密合作,收集和保存各族群的口述历史。另外,图书馆管理局也与淡米尔文化遗产数码化项目小组合作,与淡米尔社群,包括创意工作者,一同建立淡米尔文学、戏剧和音乐的数码档案。此外,图书馆管理局也和一些马来戏剧团体合作,记录新加坡马来戏剧的发展史。        

 

 

多方合作 成就创新的数据库

 

12        图书馆局在丰富馆内新加坡和东南亚历史收藏的努力,需要社会各界的鼎力支持,才能够完成。这就包括今天多位嘉宾所属的团体。

13        新加坡人物传记数据库是多个部门和机构合作推出创新构思,保留我们文化遗产。这个项目的成功,离不开宗乡总会、图书馆局和新加坡国立大学的紧密合作,发挥各自在研究、数码人文和文献方面的专业知识。

14        华社各团体向来在促进华社的认同感和归属感,以及提高人们对文化和价值观的认识等方面,都扮演重要的角色。在往后的日子里,我鼓励各家机构、团体和民间组织携手合作,展开更多的合作项目。

总结

15        再过几天,我们就要庆祝农历新年,这是华族同胞的重要节日。我们依照传统习俗,同欢共庆的当儿,也是缅怀先贤的好时刻,让我们铭记他们对华社,对新加坡所作出重大的贡献。

16        在此,我要再次感谢所有参与数据库工作的相关机构。

17        我希望数据库会启发更多国人认识并深入了解华人先贤对新加坡所作出的贡献,也希望大家接下来为数据库添加更多史料,更完整地保留我们的历史。
18        在这里,我向大家拜个早年: 希望大家在新的一年里身体健康,万事如意,事业顺利!谢谢大家!

<English Translation>

 

Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Association (SFCCA) Council Members,

Academics and Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and other academic institutions,

Members of Clan and Heritage Associations

Donors and volunteers

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

Good evening!

 

            I am delighted to be joining you all this evening. A few days ago, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched our Singapore Bicentennial commemoration activities. 2019 marks an opportunity to look deeply at our history and reflect on how Singapore has evolved. Singapore is where we are today because of the contributions of many individuals who worked hard, made sacrifices, and left a legacy. Some of these individuals are featured in the Singapore Biographical Database (SBDB) of Chinese Personalities, which I am happy to be launching today.

 

Inspiring Singaporeans to connect with, learn about and deepen appreciation for the contributions of prominent Chinese personalities

 

2          I would like to thank the SFCCA for initiating this project. It is encouraging that members of our community are coming forward to preserve and contribute to our shared history.

 

3          The SBDB documents the contributions of prominent Chinese personalities dating from the 19th to 21st century. This documentation of history is a valuable resource as future generations will be able to learn about their forefathers and their tenacity in forging innovative paths in the face of ever-changing circumstances and challenges, and contributing generously to society at large.

 

4          Many successful people in the Chinese community have offered what they had for public good.

 

5          As we sit atop this building, we remember Lee Kong Chian, a successful businessman and philanthropist who gave strong support to education and literacy. Through the Lee Foundation, he made numerous donations to the National Library and education institutions, including the building fund for the National Library Building right here on Victoria Street.

 

 

6          The same passion for public welfare was exemplified by Hoo Ah Kay, a prominent Chinese businessman, community leader and philanthropist. He bought a garden in Serangoon Road, beautified it with horticultural works and opened it to public to enjoy. Although the gardens are no longer here, the area has come to be known as Whampoa, in memory of this pioneer.

 

7          Similarly, Lim Nee Soon, respected community leader and one of the most influential businessmen of the day, contributed much in effort and donation to public affairs. Lim contributed to educational institutions such as The Chinese High School, which he founded with Tan Kah Kee, and also generously donated burial land for the Chinese community at Seletar.

 

8          Through this database, users can learn more about the connections between various prominent personalities like the individuals we have just mentioned. Beyond this, researchers will be able to tap on this comprehensive database to find more information about less well-known personalities.

 

9          While 200 personalities have been selected based on their impact on society and prominence to fit in with the Bicentennial theme, we appreciate the many others who have yet to be included. The number of individuals documented will continue to increase as the project team explores working with community partners and institutions to enrich the database.

 

NLB’s ongoing work to preserve and celebrate heritage through documenting Singapore’s history

 

10        This Database is just one part of the National Library Board’s (NLB) ongoing work to preserve and celebrate heritage through documenting Singapore’s history. For the past few years, NLB has undertaken extensive efforts to document Singapore’s history – the history of our development, the history of our institutions, the history of our people. Platforms like the SBDB make Singapore’s heritage more accessible to the public.

 

11        We are working with many communities to preserve their unique stories and make them available to the public. One example is the Community Oral History initiative, where the National Archives of Singapore (NAS) and NLB works closely with Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian community stakeholders to build up and preserve oral records of history. Apart from these Community Oral History Committees, NLB has collaborated with the Tamil Digital Heritage Group to engage members of the Tamil community, including various creatives. This has led to digital archives for Tamil Literature, Theatre and Music. NLB has also worked with Malay theatre groups to document the development of Malay Theatre in Singapore.

 

 

Collaboration made this innovative database possible

 

12        As NLB continually seeks to enrich its collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian history, documentation efforts have been made successful through the strong support of the public. This includes the organisations many of you here today are a part of. Chinese institutions and organisations have been integral in galvanising the Chinese community to anchor identity and sense of belonging, as well as instilling appreciation for culture and values.

13        The SBDB is an example of how multi-agency collaboration can create innovative methods of preserving our heritage. SFCCA, NLB and NUS have leveraged each institution’s expertise in research, digital humanities and documentation of the contributions and relations of Chinese personalities.

 

14        Moving forward, I strongly encourage more collaborative projects both between organisations as well as with the public.

 

Conclusion

 

15        In just a few days, we will be celebrating the Lunar New Year, a special time for the Chinese community. As we observe traditions and appreciate our shared culture, let us remember those who came before us and their contributions to both the Chinese community and Singapore as a whole.

 

16        Once again, thank you to all agencies whose efforts have made the Singapore Biographical Database of Chinese Personalities possible.

 

17        I hope the SBDB will inspire more Singaporeans to connect with, learn about and deepen their appreciation for the contributions of prominent Chinese personalities to Singapore. I invite all of you to add to this database and play a part in documenting our history.

 

18        Thank you.

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