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Remarks by Ms Indranee Rajah, Second Minister for Finance and National Development, at the 14th Graduation Ceremony cum Graduates' Calligraphy Exhibition of the Singapore Senior Citizen Calligraphy University Centre, on 7 Nov 2020

07 Nov 2020
Professor Tan Siah Kwee, President of the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore 

Mr Yeo Eng Koon, Chairman of Singapore Calligraphy Centre

Distinguished Guests


1 It is my great pleasure to join you today for this very special occasion – the 14th Singapore Senior Citizen Calligraphy University Centre (SSCCUC) Graduation Ceremony. 

2 Congratulations to all graduands for having conquered a significant milestone in your journey to master calligraphy since joining the programme three years ago.

a. You’ve demonstrated what it means to be lifelong learners. I understand that Mr Heman Chen, the Chairman of the Graduating Class, who spoke earlier, is also the eldest graduate at age 76. Must give him a big hand!

b. All of you have set a good example, not just for those keen to pick up calligraphy, but also for younger individuals keen to pursue new knowledge and skills. 

3 Chinese calligraphy is one of the oldest art forms still being practised today. There is much ancient wisdom that accompanies the esteemed tradition. It provides a window into the Chinese community’s rich and unique heritage.

a. At the same time, it takes shape as a national art form, transcending racial and cultural barriers to reflect our collective identity and values as Singaporeans. This can be seen by the number of Indian ministers who have been doing Chinese calligraphy!

4 Every year, Chinese communities around the world will determine a Chinese character to represent the year. For me, I think that the character 韧 (ren4) is a good representation of what Singaporeans have put to display over the past year, and what is needed to keep us going forward – the spirit of resilience. 

a. The character itself is made up of two components. On the left is a tanned leather, which is flexible and does not fall apart easily even under pressure; and on the right is the edge of a blade, which is sharp and impactful. 

b. These two traits come together to illustrate the essence of resilience – to be flexible but strong, tough, and tenacious.

5 In our ongoing fight against COVID-19, the unyielding spirit that Singaporeans have demonstrated is testament to this collective core value of ours. Being resilient has allowed Singapore to thrive and prosper since independence. And it will continue to watch us grow from strength to strength, as we advance as one people.     

6 We are living in unprecedented times today. COVID-19 has affected us in many ways, and will continue to change the way we live, the way we work, and the way we socialise. We need to prepare for a very different future. 

a. But there is assurance in knowing that we are not starting from zero. We are building on a position of strength to weather this period of uncertainty. 

b. Now more than ever, we will need to put to display the spirit of resilience across all spheres of our lives and band together, so that we can emerge stronger.

7 No one will have to stand alone in confronting the crisis, and every single one of us has a role to play. Amidst the pandemic, it is encouraging to see:

a. Companies embracing transformation through innovating and digitalising; 

b. Individuals stepping up to build new skills to seize new opportunities; and 

c. Seniors hopping onto the digital bandwagon and becoming digitally connected. 

8 The crisis will not go away so soon. But if we continue to press on with our transformation efforts, we will be able to come out of it, stronger and better, as a country. 

9 Before I conclude, allow me to thank the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore for inviting me to witness and share the joy with the graduands. 

a. Thank you for the hard work in running this programme for our seniors, and the dedication towards promoting Chinese calligraphy over the past decades. 

b. Your contributions have contributed invaluably to the lively arts scene that we take pride in today.

c. Congratulations on grooming yet another cohort of talented calligraphers, who will certainly help bring the art form to greater heights. 

10 To all of you who are graduating today, I wish you the very best in your endeavours ahead. Keep learning. Thank you very much.