Back to top

Speech By Mr Robin Hu At SIM University-Beijing Normal University Graduation Ceremony

Speech By Mr Robin Hu, Chairman Of the Singapore Centre For Chinese Language, And Vice-President Of Chinese Newspapers Division, Singapore Press Holdings, At The SIM University-Beijing Normal University Graduation Ceremony, 3.00pm On 14 May 2010 At SIM University


President of SIM University, Professor Cheong Hee Kiat;
Vice President of Beijing Normal University, Professor Han Zhen;
Ladies, gentlemen and students.


  1. A very good afternoon.

  1. Today, there will be 28 graduates graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Language and Literature from Beijing Normal University, and eight graduating with a Master of Arts in Chinese Language and Literature. My heartfelt congratulations to all of them.

The significance of language courses at SIM University

  1. Beijing Normal University is a notable institute of higher learning in China, and has established a partnership with SIM University way back in 1999, through the provision of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese Language and Literature. The various academic courses provided by both parties have established a stable foundation for future development, and it provided the launch-pad for the Master of Arts in Chinese Language and Literature degree programme in 2005. So far, there are over 700 graduates who have passed through these doors with a bachelor or master degree.

  1. For over 10 years, SIM University continues to launch many language courses including English, Tamil and Malay, becoming the only institute of higher learning acknowledged by the Singapore Ministry of Education to provide degree courses for the four main official languages. This is a notable achievement indeed. The curricula for these courses have received strong support from various sectors of the society, including teachers who wish to strengthen their capabilities in language and teaching, and those with a zealous passion for language and literature learning. This plays a vital role and is a major significance in Singapore's multicultural and society development.

Madam J.K. Rowling's speech at Harvard

  1. This image and scene reminds me of a special speech at the graduation ceremony of America’s Harvard University in June 2008, entitled The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination, delivered by special guest, author of Harry Potter, Madam Rowling.

  1. Even though Madam Rowling is now the wealthiest woman in England second only to the Queen, she once led an impoverished life, and almost had to live on the streets when she was 30. Her main discussion was on her own evolvement and enlightenment from that portion of her life experience.

  1. Madam Rowling shared that she had always wanted to become a novelist, but her parents thought that was impractical financially and wanted her to pursue a vocational degree instead. In the end, Madam Rowling opted for a degree in foreign language, immediately enrolling for a course in Classical English Literature as soon as her parents passed on. Seven years after her graduation, both her marriage and her career failed, but Madam Rowling believes that without experiencing failure during that period, she would not be who she is today.

  1. She explained why failure has its benefits, because failure means she had nothing to lose and hence allowed her to give in to her true interest and gifts completely. She said: “I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.”

  1. There is an old saying in China, “háng háng chu zhuàng yuán” (every profession produces its own leading authority). The important thing is to be able to clearly recognise your own goal, knowing where your true interest lies, and to be able to achieve them well. This applies both to how you conduct yourself, and also in your career.

Exploring and utilising the precious resources of the Chinese Language

  1. In Singapore, Chinese education has always played an important social and cultural role, holding new practical value in this century’s development. In the international domain, an important and advantageous competitive edge is the cornerstone of bilingual superiority of Singapore.

  1. Along with the rapid expansion of China’s economy, Chinese studies has now become an increasingly valued subject to the current educational circles in various countries. Singapore, with its cultural advantages, should continue to exploit this cultural superiority, and develop its own space within the new economic structure of the world and Asia. This is a topic that everyone should be familiar with.

  1. The implications of the Chinese language are not just that it is one national language, it is also a very important composition structure in Asian civilization, a password key to the treasure vault that has accumulated 5,000 years of human intelligence and experiences, including philosophy, economy, military, management, and everyday practical experiences. This constitutes a very rich bank of human experiences.

  1. Because of the rise of the New Culture Movement in China a hundred years ago, many factors have led to traditional cultures being neglected by the people, even Confucianism. Once impacting China for several thousands of years, it became regarded as the symbol for backwardness. It is only dozens of years later that the people began to rediscover the rich content and timeless humanities values within Confucianism. Understanding Confucianism may not only help you understand the Chinese culture more easily, but also enable you to comprehend the many nuances of the Chinese market.

  1. In recent years, many people have earnestly excavated this huge cultural treasure vault to develop new cultural industries with practical use. There are many such examples, like the musician Tan Dun, who used ancient Chinese pottery as a musical instrument to develop a fusion of ancient and modern music, music in a class by itself; and also scholars like Yu Dan and Yi Zhongtian, who developed the “academic common new market”, all with amazing progress, and delivering literacy effect and economic efficiency.

  1. Through the effective grasp of the Chinese language, we may be able to hold the key to this vast cultural vault and access splendid material for us to re-excavate and reinterpret, even profit from or use. The concept of “re-excavate and use” is an important characteristic of modern society development, and also a concept that people within the cultural and educational circles should pay attention to.

The challenge of learning the Chinese language in Singapore

  1. In Singapore, the study of the Chinese language has always been the concern of parents, and a huge challenge for educators. To enhance interest in the Chinese language, many experts and academics have engaged in studies, and the Ministry of Education has also done many adjustments over the years.

  1. The setting up of the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2008 has provided training for incumbent Chinese teachers to elevate the standard of Chinese language teaching within the country, and its main goal is to strengthen the results of teaching Chinese as a second language within a bilingual environment, and to fulfil the needs of students from a non-Chinese speaking environment in learning Chinese.

  1. The recent discussion about mother tongue education has also reflected how seriously parents and members of the society view this question. It is not difficult to observe, within the forum sections of newspapers and discussion among members of the society, many young parents who benefited from a bilingual education are now ready to affirm and attach importance to mother tongue education in a positive and sincere manner, and this is very inspiring and encouraging.

  1. Of course we must face the reality, especially in school, that some students face difficulty learning their mother tongue. Mother tongue education concerns cultural continuity, and at the same time, practical benefits. This is something that everyone understands, but the task to inculcate the passion of students in leaning their mother tongue is another big challenge that must be overcome.

  1. I think every student attending this graduation ceremony today can appreciate this, and everyone is willing to put in the massive effort to further their education with a degree in the Chinese Language and Literature because of one very important factor: you have a deep interest in language and literature, and therefore the strong passion and willingness to overcome all difficulties to study it zealously.

  1. Similarly for the students, learning language, besides reality environmental factors, a very big motivation stems from interest. From this aspect, how to let Chinese teaching become more vivid and interesting, even enabling students to appreciate its practical usage through studying, becomes very important. In this respect, teachers have put in many efforts over the years, and have attained many remarkable achievements, but there are certainly many areas for further exploration in the future.

Enlightenment from changes in the Media World

  1. In recent years, global media, regardless of print or audio visual, face the impact of ecology change with a new generation of readers, viewers and listeners. To suit this environmental change, the Chinese Newspapers Division carried out many reforms and the innovation, with the launch of new products such as the free bilingual newspaper "MyPaper", online multidimensional new media “Omy”, and the brand new student paper "ZB Comma". Last year, we also launched the “ZBBZ”, targeting at the high-end market; “Health No.1”, a quarterly publication concentrating on the concept of resources rebirth; and “Crossroads”, a special feature targeted at new immigrants; successfully developing a brand new market space. This indicates that the local Chinese media market, even in its traditional print form, can continue to develop new space through “transformation and innovation”.

  1. The management of traditional media has reached a transition stage, particularly in the light of the iPhone and iPad age, and “transformation and innovation” is the road we must take, a spirit we must display. The arrival of iPhone and iPad pose a challenge for the traditional media, but it is also an opportunity as it is a technical platform after all. It may substitute paper, but the key lies in the content we are able to provide, whether it can continue to attract the readers, and able to arouse readers’ feelings.

Maintain ties with SIM University

  1. Today is a joyous day, but it is also the time for everyone to wish each other the best as you move on. I sincerely hope every student can stay in touch with your alma mater – SIM University and Beijing Normal University.

  1. All of you have learned and grown together, spending happy times studying here. I hope, that everyone can treasure and appreciate your time here, and use your experience and passion to assist more students to realise their dreams in the future. I believe the SIM University Alumni will be able to provide the opportunities and pipeline for everyone to maintain contacts, and to fully utilise this precious platform to let your passion and life shine through.

  1. With this, I want to encourage all of you, and I wish you continuous improvements and better achievements throughout your life.

  1. Thank you.

Back to top