Welcome Address by Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, Singapore University of Social Sciences, at the 22nd International Conference on Chinese Language and Culture & CCS@SUSS 10th Anniversary Celebration, 21 July 2022
Guests and friends from the industry
SUSS students and colleagues
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Good morning to everyone in this auditorium as well as to everyone joining us online. Welcome to the 22nd International Conference on Chinese Language and Culture (ICCLC-22), and the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Centre for Chinese Studies @ SUSS!
I would like to extend our warm welcome to the President of ICCLC, Professor EOM Ik-sang, who flew in from Seoul to join us today. An-nyeong haseyo (Hello in Korean) Prof Eom, welcome to Singapore!
And, thank the Minister for Education, Mr Chan Chun Sing, who will be taking time out from his busy schedule to address us later this morning.
Background of ICCLC
The ICCLC was initiated over two decades ago by Beijing Normal University, the National Chinese Association of China, and Hanyang University (South Korea), with the aim to promote research on Chinese language and culture, language and society, language structure and change, and to strengthen international academic exchanges between experts and young scholars in related fields.
This large-scale international academic conference has been hosted by more than 10 universities in the Asia Pacific region, including Beijing Normal University, and Hanyang University of Korea.
ICCLC in Singapore and CCS’s 10th Anniversary
This is the first time ICCLC is hosted in Singapore, and by SUSS - jointly led by our School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences, and the Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS@SUSS). We are privileged and honoured.
In fact, this conference was supposed to take place in 2020, but the global pandemic forced its delay. Nevertheless, every cloud has its silver lining. This year happens to be the 10th anniversary of the founding of CCS@SUSS. And so, we are able to celebrate this momentous milestone with all of you at ICCLC. To commemorate the anniversary, we will be launching Volume 11 of the SUSS Humanities Series, and I am told everyone here today will receive a copy of this new book.
Titled Unity in Diversity: Language and Society in Singapore, this book explores the relationship between language and society from the perspectives of sociology and linguistics, in the Singapore context. It is co-authored by Professor Eddie Kuo – SUSS’s Academic Advisor, and Founding Director of CCS@SUSS, and Associate Professor Luo Fu Teng – Head of the university’s Chinese Programme.
The topic of this book and the theme of this conference - Coexist and Evolve: New Perspectives of Language Policy and Language Diversity - echo each other. It is therefore particularly meaningful to launch this book here, and also for Professor Kuo to deliver the first keynote address.
ICCLC-22: Language Policy and Language Diversity
The underlying theme of co-existence and evolution for ICCLC-22resonates well in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-lingual country like Singapore.
Our language policy has long been an important pillar to maintain societal cohesiveness. While there is a common language for relating, transacting and interacting among our people in a multi-racial multi-lingual mix, each ethnic group is encouraged to develop and have proficiency in its mother tongue. This allows the preservation and continued relevance of the mother tongue languages and culture, while facilitating conversations and inter-mingling among our races and forging unity amidst the demographic diversity. Our language policies need to be intentional and holistic, well-explained to stakeholders given the sensitive issues at stake. Given the volatility we see in the world today, among different nationalities and language groups, there is even more impetus and urgency for appropriate language policies to be formulated.
The present pandemic has spotlighted the linguistic diversity and language challenges in a time of crisis. Countries have seen how coordinated and clear public communication is needed to build confidence in interventions to deal with the pandemic and foster trust and co-operation amongst their diverse, multilingual communities.
I trust today’s Conference will spark many useful discourses on these important challenges and opportunities.
Introduction of Speakers
To help us get engaged to some very lively discussions, I am pleased that we have an impressive line-up of Speakers with us today.
Six distinguished experts from Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, and Singapore, will deliver keynote addresses. From Singapore, we have Professor Eddie KUO who will be delivering his speech this morning on Language Planning and Nation-building in Singapore.
This afternoon’s session will be held in SUSS where the other Singaporean keynote speaker Professor Goh Yeng Seng will share on teaching Chinese as an international language from a Singapore perspective. Finally, Professor EOM Ik-Sang will discuss issues of Korean language policies related to the Chinese language.
The other three keynote speeches will be delivered online tomorrow by Professor
FENG Sheng Li from Beijing, Professor Benjamin TSOU from Hong Kong, and Professor ZHANG Ping Sheng from Taiwan.
In addition, 250 local and overseas experts, scholars, language workers and, graduate students will present nearly 100 academic papers through on-site as well as online forums today and tomorrow.
I am heartened to see so many guests and representatives from the academic, and cultural circles at today's opening ceremony, and more joining us online.
We hope that representatives from all walks of life attending this conference can take this opportunity to have more exchanges and dialogues. After more than two years of pandemic restrictions, we have been isolated from one another for too long. It is time for us to communicate face to face again, and may I also add, heart-to-heart!
I would like to wish all guests and scholars a rewarding and enriching experience. It is my pleasure to declare the 22nd International Conference on Chinese Language and Culture open!