The 2015 UniSIM Cultural China Public Lecture held on October 25, 2015 at The Grand Hall, SIM Headquarters attracted an overwhelming 1,600 audiences, not counting another 6,640 watching live streaming of the event worldwide.
The audience members who showed up were mainly fans of Professor Lung Yingtai, the guest speaker and a well-known writer from Taiwan. She spoke on “From Village to Metropolis: My Cultural Experience”. Professor Eddie Kuo, Chairman of the event organizing committee and Director of UniSIM Centre for Chinese Studies, in his welcome address, shared that till to-date, many Singaporeans remembered Professor Lung for an article she wrote in 1994 entitled ‘I am glad that I am not a Singaporean’. The article generated a flurry of responses from the Singapore readers then.
Professor Lung spent more than 20 years living overseas including 9 years in the United States, 2 years in Switzerland and 11 years in Germany. She was Taipei City Government’s inaugural Director of Department of Cultural Affairs in 1999 and became the inaugural Minister of Culture in Taiwan from 2012 to 2014.
An exceptionally sharp, candid yet compassionate social critic, she shared how her growing years as a village girl has formed the base of her cultural experience as she gradually becomes a metropolitan. She was of the view that the index of happiness of the people at the lowest social strata should serve as a gauge of the level of happiness of the people of a country. As an intellectual critic who doesn’t mince her words, she felt that while Singapore has excelled in terms of economic growth, this invariably has come at the expense of fostering a strong cultural rooting. Singapore has made many remarkable achievements in the past 50 years, perhaps, in the next 50 years, it is time that we think about how we can deepen the roots of our Singapore culture.
During the talk, she shared many intimate photos from her personal albums including a beaming picture of her riding a bicycle by the street of Pintung County in Southern Taiwan, with an extra-long bright red flowery bolster saddled at the back of her bicycle.
The question-and-answer session was moderated by Professor Kuo. Professor Lung touched on topics ranging from an anxious mother who wanted to get tips on how to impart cultural values to her child; tracing of one’s cultural roots; to her views on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s re-post of her feature interview by Lianhe Zaobao in his facebook. She believed that grandparents have the rights to use the language they are most comfortable with to communicate with their grandchildren.
On behalf of the three co-organizers, Mr Anthony Tan, Executive Vice-President, Chinese Media Group presented a Gardens by the Bay gem encrusted art piece to Professor Lung at the end of the lecture. This was followed by a book autograph session which lasted for an hour and saw the queue stretching to the end of the Grand Hall.
The public lecture was jointly organized by SIM University, Lianhe Zaobao and Business China; and supported by Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning. The event was sponsored by Spotlight Taiwan Project (Special Patron: Dr Samuel Yin) and Lee Foundation.
A full recording of the public lecture can be watched here.
(from left) Eddie Kuo, UniSIM; Wang Gungwu, Chairman, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore; Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Finance; Lung Yingtai; Aline Wong, Chancellor, UniSIM; Anthony Tan, Executive Vice-President, Chinese Media Group; Ch’ng Jit Koon, Business China