[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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

[Journalists from Southern China]
1. This morning, I met a group of journalists from Southern China. They are here on a programme organised by MICA. Many of them were from Fujian, most for the first time in Singapore. They must feel a great sense of familiarity here. After all, half of the Chinese in Singapore are of Fujian descent and the Fujian culture remains strong in our society.

2. We are not always conscious of how deep these cultural roots are. During the launch of the Lorong Koo Chye Cheng Huang Temple's 90th anniversary book a few days ago, l was fascinated by the Anxi connection. The Cheng Huang deity came from Anxi and, according to tradition, asked to remain in Singapore to look after the people here. There is a large Anxi community living in Singapore and Malaysia. When I was in MTI, many of the officers working for me, including then Permanent Secretary Khaw Boon Wan, were of Anxi descent. Some years ago, I officiated at a world Anxi clan gathering and met a number of Chinese political leaders from Malaysia. From former MP Peh Chin Hwa, I learnt about the conditions of life in Anxi which traditionally produced excellent oolong and tieguanyin tea.

2. I talked about these links to the Chinese journalists and how they facilitated the trade and cultural exchanges taking place today. It is a new golden age for Asia with east-west trade prospering, again linking the maritime regions of Asia economically, culturally and politically. Yesterday, I joined the Oman DPM in Sentosa to announce the gift of a replica of an ancient dhow by Sultan Qaboos to the people of Singapore. A few years ago, we bought an old Tang Dynasty wreck carrying 60,000 pieces of Chinese ceramics, the oldest such wreck to be salvaged. The ship carrying it was not Chinese but an Arab dhow made of wood from trees found in the Middle East and Africa. It is that ship which will be rebuilt in Oman. Over the centuries, the east-west trade has ebbed and flowed. Everytime China propered - during the Tang, Southern Sung, Yuan, Ming, Qing - trade flourished bringing prosperity to the martime regions and promoting the flow of goods, people and ideas. What we are seeing today is a resurgence of an old pattern.

3. I was surprised when one of the Chinese journalists Li Jun from Nanfang Metropolitan Paper told me that her colleagues read my blog postings. That prompted me to write this blog so that they can give me their views.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG


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