Mr Lee Kuan Yew launches fund to boost bilingualism

29Nov11

The Lees’ wealth is not often discussed, but as the figures here show, they certainly have quite a bit.  Straits Times:

Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew on Monday launched what he described as the ‘most important book’ he has ever written and kicked off a fund to help children become bilingual early.

Hoping that the fund would top $100 million, he pledged a personal donation of $10 million plus all proceeds from the sale of 200 signed copies of his book which will go for at least $10,000 each. …

The Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism will be used for initiatives to help children with their mother tongue and English, especially before they reach primary school.



3 Responses to “Mr Lee Kuan Yew launches fund to boost bilingualism”

  1. 1 Tom Zheng

    Singapore’s real strategy for success is multilingualism, and not exclusively Chinese Mother-tongue bilingualism, which over the past four decades have eroded the richness of local ethnic Chinese cultural forms. Chinese bilingualism in Singapore is a purely political gesture to create a homogenous Chinese elite which the PAP wants to harness. The recollection by Mr Lee about the Chinese high school students and their focus on life was “then” which has not been relevant or accurate as the basis to judge the quality of young or middle-aged Singaporeans. Mr Lee seems to have confused the “university students” he observed in the 1950s Singapore with the calibre of our people today. The “bilingualism” should promote effective multilingualism and multiculturalism, and not exclusive be a “Chinese language for Chinese Singaporeans” drive, which has confused many Chinese Singaporeans to think they should speak Chinese exclusively, as conjectural encounters will attest. The Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has for a long time a parochial interest in the growth in appeal and relevance of the Chinese Language, primarily because of the many Chinese newsdailies they publish among other related media interests. Nothing wrong with that, of course; however, they do have other language titles to care for, and the extinction of these “other” languages is probably a more pressing concern. Bilingualism by way of adding prestige to a language and a specific culture should never become a politically driven premise, where “Chinese people speak Mandarin” has already become, intended to ostracize others, and seemingly make Chinese an elite in what Singaporeans all aspire to be an egalitarian society. That’s an “ideal”, Mr Lee conveniently interjected two years ago. Bilingualism in terms of the specific use of Chinese by Chinese Singaporeans has become a very misunderstood and maligned political engine driven by the current government. China for all its economic importance is still hampered by the limited command of English, which Beijing sees as a convenient bottleneck to restrict foreign influence and democratic ideologies from its population. I think Asianising Singapore does not have to mean making Chinese bilingualism so exclusive. The death of enthic diversity among Chinese Singaporeans with the wiping out of Chinese dialects has already resulted in great cultural loss. Old archival material and temple records in Fukien or Hakka, Hock Chew, Teochew etc soon cannot even be read and fully understood by local “Mandarinised” scholars. I think future generations will review this 50 year old “bilingual” cultural campaign as the one which has eroded our local cultural landscape of sorts, and rather than foster the economic opportunity for all Singaporeans, it served only to push the Chinese elitism agenda.

  2. 2 LY Lim

    Bravo Mr. Lee,

    Thank you very much for making this donation of which I am certain will inspire others to do likewise. This brings to mind a wise Chinese saying: let those who have money to offer money, and those who have strength to put in the effort. 有钱出钱, 有力出力.

    谢谢您的关怀.

  3. This push for bilingualism is yet another chinese supremacist nonsense by this fellow.

    To keep singapore largely chinese, and then to come up with this mother tongue nonsense, and then to launch a fund for it, is simply an attempt to not only keep singapore, sorry, Qingapore, Qinese, but to ensure that the Chinese remain Qinese so that all ‘others’ would have no choice but to follow suit in character, if not in colour.

    [the rest of this comment will be published at a2ed.com]



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