Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Official Opening of Wisma Geylang Serai on 26 January 2019.
Please scroll down or click here for the English translation of the Malay portion of the speech.
Good evening everybody. May I begin my speech in Malay.
Saudara saudari sekelian. Saya sangat berbesar hati dapat bersama anda di majlis bersejarah ini – iaitu perasmian Wisma Geylang Serai atau WGS. Saya mengumumkan Projek WGS buat pertama kali ketika Rapat Umum Hari Kebangsaan pada tahun 2011. Sejak itu, pelbagai badan pemerintah telah bekerjasama untuk mengumpulkan maklum balas dan saranan dari penduduk serta masyarakat umum. Ini supaya kita dapat sama-sama membentuk WGS yang mampu mengekalkan semangat unik dan warisan kaya Geylang Serai.
Sememangnya, Geylang Serai adalah lambang warisan budaya masyarakat Melayu. WGS akan menyuntik kesegaran dan kemodenan kepada Geylang Serai dan sekitarnya, sambil mengukuhkan identiti serta warisan budaya orang Melayu.
Aspirasi jangka panjang WGS ialah untuk menjadi sebuah hab sosial dan budaya Melayu Singapura. WGS akan menghimpunkan pelbagai badan Melayu/Islam, agensi sosial dan pemerintah di bawah satu bumbung. Ini supaya WGS mampu menyediakan pelbagai program dan kemudahan yang memenuhi keperluan masyarakat.
Saya yakin WGS akan menjadi ikon bagi masyarakat Melayu Singapura. Di samping itu, WGS juga akan memastikan bahawa rakyat Singapura dari pelbagai bangsa dan agama turut sama dialu-alukan di sini. Kelab Masyarakat Geylang Serai dan Majlis Pembangunan Masyarakat Tenggara juga kini berada di sini. Mereka telah sibuk menganjurkan pelbagai kegiatan yang dibuka untuk semua rakyat.
WGS kini sudah tersergam indah. Saya mengucapkan syabas kepada Dr Maliki dan pasukannya yang telah bekerja keras menjayakan projek ini. Terima kasih Dr Maliki. Bagi langkah seterusnya, beliau dan pasukannya akan mendekati anda semua bagi mendapatkan idea untuk semarakkan lagi kawasan Geylang Serai ini, buat dinikmati semua rakyat Singapura.
Saudara saudari sekelian, sejak sekian lama, Geylang Serai telah menyumbang kepada identiti nasional berbilang kaum kita yang bertenaga dan menjadi kebanggaan semua rakyat Singapura. Wisma Geylang Serai mesti mempertahankan semangat perpaduan dan inklusif di kalangan rakyat. Kita harus bersatu hati, seperti peribahasa Melayu, “Seikat bak sirih, serumpun bak serai”. Kalau kita mahu Singapura menjadi tanahair yang menawan dan maju jaya buat semua, kita mesti bersatu-padu demi memperkukuhkan masyarakat majmuk kita. Dengan demikian, kita boleh maju bersama-sama sebagai satu rakyat, satu Singapura.
Izinkan saya sekarang teruskan ucapan saya dalam Bahasa Inggeris.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to be here today for the official opening of Wisma Geylang Serai (WGS).
I first spoke about this at the National Day Rally in 2011. I am glad that now after seven plus years, the project has come to fruition after careful deliberation and consultation, including government agencies, private sector and many community groups. WGS will be a prominent landmark in Geylang Serai. It already is. It will strengthen the cultural identity of the precinct, with its intricate architecture and traditional pitched roofs, and its mix of tenants and activities.
It is appropriate that this official opening coincides with the Singapore Bicentennial. Because Geylang Serai has a long history. It is one of Singapore’s oldest Malay settlements and a key part of our national heritage. It dates back to the 1840s when the orang laut moved from the mouth of the Singapore River to the banks of the Geylang River. The settlement expanded in the 19th century, as the Alsagoff family started cultivating lemongrass, that means serai in this area, giving it the current name – Geylang Serai.
Today, we would not see any more serai, except maybe when you go across the linkway to Geylang Serai Market next door. The original Malay kampung residents, many of them have moved out to HDB towns all over the island, and they improved their lives and their living conditions. Geylang Serai itself has also transformed and modernised. The market has been upgraded, more than once. Farms and kampungs have given way to HDB flats and popular shopping malls like Joo Chiat Complex and Tanjong Katong Complex.
Geylang Serai is no longer an enclave, but has become a well-integrated community that reflects our multi-racial and multi-religious society. Other races have moved in. There are temples and churches in this precinct. And yet just like Chinatown to the Chinese and Little India to the Indians, Geylang Serai retains its cultural uniqueness and identity, and it is a special place in the hearts of Singapore Malays.
WGS was conceived in this spirit. Not just to be a symbol of heritage and nostalgia for the Malay community, but to be a vibrant centre which reflects the diverse interests and the continuing progress of Singapore Malays. At the same time, a venue where all races and religions are welcome, and would be interested to visit.
Therefore, we put a lot of thought into WGS’ tenants and programmes. WGS brings together the M3 agencies MUIS, MENDAKI and MESRA, eight Malay-Muslim organisations, as well as various VWOs and cultural groups to provide more integrated services for the Malay-Muslim community. The M3 agencies have set up a joint office called M3@WGS which was officially opened by Minister Masagos yesterday, to strengthen last-mile service delivery in our neighbourhoods. KURNIA@WGS is here, in partnership with MMOs such as the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) and the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (PERGAS), which will be a one-stop service centre to support families and individuals through scholarships, bursaries, financial aid and skills training programmes. There is also a child care centre, an elderly activity centre and a family service centre, and a media school for the community to pick up new skills like vlogging.
We also decided to co-locate Geylang Serai CC and the Southeast CDC here. This will broaden the activities and services at WGS and bring in a more diverse clientele, and more footfall. The CC and CDC are organising activities like PAssion Arts and SkillsFuture Festivals, that appeal to all Singaporeans. I look forward to them working closely with the Malay/Muslim organisations and agencies at WGS on their offerings in the future.
WGS itself is also organising a good mix of social and cultural events to attract Singaporeans young and old, for example Iftar Charity for children from less fortunate families and the elderly. The Gala-Laga Festival, which showcases youth performing traditional as well as modern Malay music. And of course the Hari Raya Bazaar.
Singaporeans of all races visit the Bazaar. We come to soak in the festive mood and the ethnic mood, to enjoy the dazzling decorations and merchandise. And of course, to feast on the spread of traditional kueh-mueh and more trendy creations like rainbow grill cheese toast and durian churros. The mass dikir barat session by Dikir Kampung Melayu last year was a big hit with the crowd. WGS is working closely with the grassroots organisations and the PA to curate this year’s stalls, performances and activities. Like many Singaporeans, I am looking forward to this year’s collaboration and the Bazaar.
The success of WGS depends on the support and participation of all Singaporeans. I would like to thank all those who have worked hard to realise the project. Dr Maliki and his team; the many organisations who have done programmes here, including Geylang Serai CC and Southeast CDC; donors, volunteers and partners who have contributed to the project; and all residents and Singaporeans who have taken part in the activities.
Now that WGS has completed, Dr Maliki and his team will take the next step, to engage the community to develop this precinct, Geylang Serai, further. WGS will be the centrepiece. But around WGS, we will enhance Geylang Serai as a place that celebrates and grows our Malay culture, and that the Malay community is proud of, and so too all the other communities in Singapore. I am confident that we will make this a vibrant centre and precinct, and a shining example of how different communities come together in multicultural Singapore. Thank you.
ENGLISH OUTLINE OF MALAY SPEECH
I am very happy to be here with you at this historic event for the official opening of Wisma Geylang Serai. I first announced Project WGS at the National Day Rally 2011. Since then, many government agencies have worked together to gather feedback and suggestions from residents and also from the community to design and build WGS. This is so that we can shape and ensure that we retain Geylang Serai’s uniqueness and culture.
Geylang Serai is a cultural and heritage symbol of the Malay community. WGS will provide freshness and modernisation to Geylang Serai and its vicinity, while strengthening the community’s identity and heritage.
WGS’s aspiration for the future is to build a social and cultural hub in Singapore that brings together the different Malay/Muslim Organisations, social and government agencies under one roof. This will allow WGS to provide various programmes and convenience, and this will better fulfil the needs of the community.
I am confident that WGS will be an icon for the Singapore Malay community. At the same time, WGS will also make sure that Singaporeans of all races and religions are welcome here. Geylang CC and SouthEast CDC, which are based in WGS, have been organising activities which are opened to all Singaporeans.
WGS is standing tall. I thank Maliki and team for a job well done. As the next step in the development of Geylang Serai, Dr Maliki’s team will reach out to all of you to get ideas on how to make this a more vibrant place for all.
Geylang Serai has played a key role in creating a vibrant and multicultural national identity which all Singaporeans are proud of. Sitting at the core of this culturally distinct precinct, WGS must uphold this spirit of inclusiveness and solidarity. As the peribahasa (Malay sayings) says, “Seikat bak sirih, serumpun bak serai”. For Singapore to thrive and be an endearing home for all, we need to stand together and strengthen our multiracial community so that we can progress as one people, one Singapore.
Allow me to continue my speech in English.
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