[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Monday, November 26, 2007

[Teo Ann Huay Kuan]
SPEECH BY GEORGE YEO, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AT TEO ANN HUAY KUAN'S 43RD ANNIVERSARY DINNER ON 25 NOVEMBER 2007 AT 8.00 PM AT ORCHARD HOTEL

1. Two weeks ago, I visited New Delhi for a day to talk to the Indian Foreign Minister about the situation in Myanmar. After the meeting, our High Commissioner brought me for dinner at a Chinese Restaurant run by a Chinese family who had lived in India for a few generations. When the eldest son saw me, he said, "I am a Teochew. You've come to eat rice (have a meal)." I was pleasantly surprised and replied that I am also a Teochew. But I wasn't sure whether the food would be good. We ordered three pomfrets that night, one for the soup cooked with radish, and two steamed with ginger and soy sauce. Someone told me it was hard to get salted vegetables in India. I must say the food was very good and the pomfrets were absolutely fresh. With a full stomach, I slept well on the overnight flight back from Delhi to Singapore.

2. For any group of people, culture is important. The strength of a people is very often dependent on the strength of its culture. Because China is a very large country, there are differences in regional cultures. The Wenzhou people from Zhejiang Province, for example, have a strong entrepreneurial culture. Sometimes they are described as the Jews of China. Many years ago, a trader from Wenzhou did business in Africa and settled in Gabon. He married an African woman and his son is now the Foreign Minister of Gabon, with the surname 'Ping' (for peace). We are good friends and he told me how on his first visit to China, a delegation from Wenzhou went to Diaoyutai to meet him when he was on an official visit. Since then, there are over one or thousand Wenzhou people who have migrated to Gabon contributing to the local economy. When President Hu Jintao visited Africa a few years ago, he received a warm welcome when he landed in Gabon. When Gabon Foreign Minister visited Singapore visited Singapore early this year, Singapore's Wenzhou Clan Association hosted him to dinner.

3. The Teochew people also have a strong culture which helps them to do well in business, in intellectual work and in the arts. Among the Teochew people, the Teo Ann people have the longest history going back to the period when Han Wengong of the Tang Dynasty spent 8 months in Teo Ann. The most successful Teo Ann person today is of course Mr Li Ka-shing. Never forgetting his roots, he continues to do a lot of good work in the Teochew area. The Medical School of Shantou University which has been completely financed by Mr Li has become a leading medical school in China. Recently, Mr Li made a $100 million donation to the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Adminstration in Singapore.

4. In Singapore, the Teo Chew people have always played a major role in Singapore society in all fields - in business, in government, in the armed forces, in the universities and in the cultural field. Among them, many are Teo Ann people. I am naturall proud to be a member of this community. But what is important is not how rich or successful we are but how much we are able to contribute to our society. In this regard, I would like to thank Ngee Ang Kongsi, the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan, the Teo Ann Huay Kuan and other Teochew organisations for their good work. I congratulate members of the Teo Chew Huay Kuan on its 43rd Anniversary and wish everyone good health and every happiness.

潮安会馆庆祝成立43周年纪念晚宴,豪晶酒店, 晚上8时
主宾 杨荣文外交部长演讲词

潮安会馆主席,张建安先生
各位社团代表,各位嘉宾

两个星期前,我到新德里和印度外交部长讨论有关缅甸的局势。会谈之后,我国驻印度的最高专员带我到一家中餐馆用晚餐。这间餐馆是由住在印度好几代的一个华人家庭所开设的。餐馆老板的大儿子见到我,对我说:“我是潮州人。欢迎你来吃饭(用餐)。”我既高兴,又惊奇在印度遇到潮州同乡,跟他说我也是潮州人。但是当时我不知道他们煮的菜是不是好吃。我们叫了三只鲳鱼,一只用萝卜片煮汤,另外两只用姜和酱油清蒸,没加咸菜。有人告诉我,在印度很难买到咸菜。当晚的菜很好,那鲳鱼非常新鲜。吃饱之后,我坐夜班飞机回新加坡,一路上睡得很好。

对任何人群来说,文化都是很重要的。一个民族的力量通常取决于他们文化的份量。因为中国是一个很大的国家,各个区域的文化也有所不同。例如,浙江省的温州人,就有很强的精打细算做生意的文化。有时有些人称他们为中国的犹太人。好多年前,有一个温州商人到非洲做生意,后来在加蓬定居下来。他娶了一个非洲姑娘,而他的儿子正是现在加蓬的外交部长。他姓“平”,平安的平。我们成为好朋友。他告诉我,当他第一次到中国进行官式访问时,从温州来的一个代表团到他住的北京钓鱼台国宾馆去找他。从那次访问之后,有超过上千个温州人移民到加蓬去发展,为当地的经济做出贡献。当胡锦涛主席在几年前访问非洲的时候,在到达加蓬时受到热烈的欢迎。今年二月,加蓬的外交部长访问新加坡,本地的温州会馆也设晚宴欢迎他来访问。

潮州人的文化素养深厚,使他们无论是在做生意,还是从事智慧和艺术工作方面,都做得很成功。在潮州人之中,潮安人的历史最长。唐朝的韩文公到潮安做官,住了八个月,由于他的推广,潮州的文化便很快地发展起来。今天,最成功的潮安人是李嘉诚。他从不忘根,继续为潮州地区做了许多善事。汕头大学的医科学院,成为中国一个领先的医科学院,那就是完全由李先生捐钱设立的。最近,李先生也捐献了新币一亿元给新加坡的李光耀公共行政学院。

在新加坡,潮州人在很多方面,例如工商业界、政府、国防部、大学以及其他文化领域,都负有重要的任务,也做了重大的贡献。这些人之中,许多是潮安人。作为一个潮安人,我也将此引以为荣。但重要的不在于我们有多富有或多成功,而是我们能为我们的社会做出多少贡献。在此,我要向义安公司、潮州八邑会馆、潮安会馆和其他潮州社团致谢。他们都为新加坡社会做了许多贡献。最后,我恭贺潮安会馆43周年庆典成功举行,并祝贺在座的每一位佳宾身体健康,生活愉快。









Do also read my posts on Beyond SG

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