Culture

A mural in Chinatown depicting a letter writer. (SPH Media)

Singaporean Mandarin Database: Recognising the uniqueness of the Singaporean Chinese identity

Associate Professor Tan Chee Lay, principal investigator of the Singaporean Mandarin Database, shares some interesting Singaporean Mandarin phrases and says it is time that we recognise our Chinese linguistic features as part of the Singaporean Chinese identity formed in a multicultural social setting.
A man uses a newspaper against the rain in Chinatown, Singapore, 1 January 2021. (SPH Media)

Of butt lumps, stomachs and heads: Chinese language of the common folk

Hua Language Centre director Chew Wee Kai regales us with anecdotes of various uses of the Chinese language among the general population in Malaysia and Singapore. While grammar and usage might not be the most accurate or logical, somehow one still manages to figure out the meaning, and bonds between people are formed.
Elderly eat in a community canteen in Changbai county, Jilin province, China, on 17 November 2022. (CNS)

Not everything has to be run by the state: Thoughts on communal canteens in China

US academic Wu Guo looks at the recent online furore over the mushrooming of state-run communal canteens in China and offers his views from the US. While providing food for the needy should be part of the state's responsibility, there should also be space for civil society, private enterprises and the public to play a role to create kind and healthy communities.
People stand in a queue outside a restaurant along the popular Yaowarat Road in the Chinatown area of Bangkok, Thailand, on 5 September 2022. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

An imagined China and feeling Chinese in Thailand

Thai academic Sittithep Eaksittipong explains how the Thai rulers of the past used emotion as a political tool to assimilate the Chinese overseas in Thailand. Fast forward to today and the Thai Chinese are more confident of their identity, and feeling Chinese has less to do with developments in China. If anything, the latter is used as a means to chastise the Thai government.
Nadine Hwang, who led a storied life, was known as the 'Chinese Joan of Arc'.

The story of Nadine Hwang: The ‘Chinese Joan of Arc’

Photo collector Zou Dehuai tells the story of Nadine Hwang, a half-Chinese woman who was a rare breed in every sense of the term. Her dramatic life took her from Madrid to China and the salons of Paris, to a concentration camp in Germany, and eventually to Belgium. Amid the tragedy of war, she found love, and through it all, lived life with great spirit.
The Dajia Mazu's litter arrives at a small temple in Xingang, Chiayi, allowing locals to pay their respects and celebrate the sea goddess’ birthday. (SPH Media)

Taiwanese art historian: The joy of sharing food in old Taiwan

Taiwanese art historian Chiang Hsun reminisces about the good old days of simple food and heartfelt folk religious festivals, where regular households threw banquets and opened their doors to friends and strangers. It is in those vignettes of daily life that all of Taiwan’s generosity, harmony, magnanimity and acceptance are on display.
Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew goes through an overnight rehearsal of a ceremony at City Hall on the eve of Singapore’s first anniversary in 1966. A large image shows Singapore’s various ethnic groups holding up the national flag, symbolising the nation coming together to forge a bright future.

[Photo story] Taiwanese historical photo collector: My ties to Singapore

As his three-volume set of historical photographs of Singapore, Singapore Yesterday, is rolled out this year, historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao describes his professional and personal connection to Singapore, and his impressions of Singapore, alongside a collection of old photos of Singapore.
A woman buys pork at a market in Taipei, Taiwan, 4 August 2022. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Remembering Mother's cleaver in the 'Palace of Versailles kitchen'

Amid the grandeur of his friend’s deluxe kitchen, Taiwanese art historian Chiang Hsun remembers his mother, a skilled cook. With simple tools and deft hands, she whipped up artisanal meals worthy of many a great restaurant.
Believers gather near the Trinity icon at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius in the town of Sergiyev Posad, Russia, 18 July 2022. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

Impressions of Moscow: Miracles and hope at St. Sergius Monastery [Part 4]

In the last of four articles, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares his impressions of the Moscow he knew from a decade ago. On a day trip from Moscow, he is awed by St. Sergius Monastery, the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church.