Eddie Kuo

Eddie Kuo

Emeritus Professor, NTU; Honorary Advisor, Centre for Chinese Studies, SUSS

Professor Eddie Kuo is Emeritus Professor at the National Technological University of Singapore (NTU) and Honorary Advisor at the Centre for Chinese Studies, Singapore University of Social Sciences. His previous roles have included being the head of the Sociology Department at the National University of Singapore and the founding dean of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at NTU. His research interests include new media and globalisation, cultural policy and national integration, sociology of multilingualism, and perspectives in Asian communication, and his published work includes writings such as “Language, Culture and Identity: Challenges of Nation Building in Singapore” [in Chinese] 语言、文化和身份认同: 新加坡建国路上的挑战]. In Zhou Zhao-Cheng, Yow Cheun-Hao and Foo Tee “Tuan (eds) Half a Century of Singapore: Retrospect and Prospect [半世纪的新加坡: 回顾与前瞻]. Singapore: Singapore Society of Asian Studies.

Children playing among two giant panda lanterns at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Singapore, in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival, on 28 August 2023. (SPH Media)

Chinese language: The ‘one language, two systems’ road ahead

Given its pluralistic nature, the Chinese language has taken many shapes over the course of history, with its written form and the associated dialects dictated by time and place. Meanwhile, the rise of China and its growing national power have led to the emergence of Chinese as an international language that transcends national borders. Eddie Kuo, Emeritus Professor at NTU, delves into the evolution of the language in the different Chinese-speaking regions.
A young Chinese opera performer puts on makeup, 7 August 2022. Chinese Singaporeans are still searching for their identity. (SPH Media)

Prof Eddie Kuo: Singapore’s ethnic Chinese have never been a unified collective

In the 200 years of Singapore’s history from 1819, the ethnic Chinese in Singapore have lived with diversity, both among themselves and within the larger Singapore community. Eddie Kuo, Emeritus Professor at NTU, traces the evolution of the Chinese Singaporean identity. This is a concept that has seen many iterations, from “guests in a foreign land” to the “overseas Chinese”, "ethnic Chinese" and “Chinese Singaporeans”.