PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Eurasian Festival

PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Eurasian Festival

PM Lee Hsien Loong | 9 April 2017

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered these remarks at the Eurasian Festival on 9 April 2017.

 

A very good morning to everybody, especially Benett Theseira, President of the Eurasian Association; Patrons; Trustees; the Management Committee; Members and friends of the EA; Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls. Good morning to all of you.

It is such a delight to be here with all of you to celebrate the Eurasian Festival here in Tampines Hub.

We have many ethnic groups in Singapore. The Eurasians are one of the smallest groups, but one which has made many contributions to Singapore and I am glad today, you’ve all come together here at the hub to celebrate and experience your culture, heritage, dance - we saw some just now, costumes, and of course, food. Most of all enjoy one another’s’ company - the famous warm Eurasian hospitality, the strong sense of family, and the openness to other cultures.

Eurasians, as you have heard from Benett, have been in Southeast Asia for 500 years. Some of your ancestors came from Portugal, others from Holland or Britain, inter-married with locals and with other Eurasians and formed little communities all over Southeast Asia and over time evolved your own culture and characteristics, and became a distinct community.

I am glad that today a new generation of Eurasians are doing well in many professions.

PM Lee Hsien Loong

Before the war, there were about 8,000 Eurasians in Singapore, plus or minus. Now the community has grown to nearly 17,000 Eurasians, double. I say, how about doubling again. Work hard! It is a distinctive community, which has distinguished itself and made significant contributions to Singapore.

Just to name a few of your people: Professor Maurice Baker, who was among the first generation of diplomats and his son, Bernard Baker, is also a diplomat. Mr E W Barker, our first Law Minister, who drafted the Separation Agreement with Malaysia and we have just launched a book about his life. Mr Stanley Stewart and Mr George Bogaars, both Heads of the Civil Service and so happy today to see Mrs Stewart here, with us - Therese, and her daughter, Olivia. Mrs Stewart is 102 years old, older than the EA and still going strong. Dr Benjamin Sheares, an eminent O&G surgeon, who became our second President and Ambassador. Sir George Oehlers, first Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. Barry Desker, our Ambassador to Indonesia, who built up our trade relations as CEO of Trade Development Board (TDB) and he’s here today. We had the first woman Supreme Court Justice, who was a Eurasian, Judith Prakash. Our “king of swing”, Jeremy Monteiro was a Eurasian, and of course Joseph Schooling and his parents Colin and May. Colin and May are here today. I am very lucky. I have known and met every single one of these people, sometimes over two generation, father and son or daughter. There are many more who had distinguished themselves in Singapore. I am glad that today a new generation of Eurasians are doing well in many professions, all over our society, establishing themselves and making a name for yourselves and I have no doubt that you will make many great contributions to Singapore in time to come.

I think the Eurasian Association deserves a special mention. The last time I attended a EA event was too long ago, was 2006, when I went to the Eurasian Community house and launched the World War II Exhibition. The EA has been very active, rallying your community to serve one another. You have education awards, scholarships, bursaries and mentorship programmes. Your family support services help many disadvantaged families and seniors with financial aid, food, counselling and befriending and I look forward to meeting some of the award winners, and activists and beneficiaries later on. You are making also a special effort to preserve your traditions and culture not just for younger Eurasians, but for all Singaporeans. This Festival organised by the EA together with the People’s Association (PA), EA plus PA, I think it is a good partnership and a good step forward. I am very happy that the EA is working with the National Heritage Board to upgrade the heritage centre. I hope many more Eurasians, the young ones especially, will be inspired to join the EA to volunteer and to give back to the community. 

By celebrating festivals like this one, we get to know one another better, we build pride in our community, and strengthen our harmonious multi-racial society that we have built here so I wish you all a good time at the Festival. Thank you very much indeed.