Sharing Insights into the Heart and Soul of Singapore
A better world begins with better understanding. For a week in July, the SIF hosted seven journalists and editors from the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu under our Journalist Visit Programme. They engaged in dialogues with policy makers, civil servants, and Singaporean families to learn about Singapore’s innovations in urban planning and experience our diverse cultural landscape and lifestyle.
“The Journalist Visit Programme allowed me to see a different Singapore. The programme was a deep dive into diverse topics that has shaped Singapore, such as its public housing policies, sustainable art programmes and its multicultural living. It was interesting to learn about some local personalities who are passionate about developing their projects such as Bjorn Low, the founder of the local urban farming initiative - Edible Gardens, and Kenneth Lee, one of the artists from the SIF’s Art of Sustainability project,” shared Ms Wang Qizhang, senior reporter at the Southern Metropolis Weekly.
The visit coincided with the biennial World Cities Summit where they gained insights on how economic growth can be achieved in tandem with sustainable urban development. The World Cites Summit, coupled with visits to the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Marina Barrage, demonstrated to our Chinese friends Singapore’s approach to managing its rapid economic and urban development.
To better appreciate Singapore’s efforts in social inclusion, the journalists visited the Enabling Village where they experienced a unique approach to integrating retail, lifestyle and career training for persons with disability. The media group found out how the community bands together with corporations and public service agencies to support each member of the society.
The Chinese journalists also learnt about the SIF’s Sino-Singapore partnership – the Art of Sustainability project. We introduced the group to Sun Yu-li, a leading artist in Singapore, as well as other Singaporean artists who were working on the project. The Singapore artists, along with their Shanghainese counterparts, work together to harness the potential of the arts to highlight the importance of sustainable development for Shanghai and Singapore. For the journalists, the use of the arts to convey messages related to sustainability was a new and unique approach.
For a peek into Singapore’s multicultural way of life and racial harmony, the journalists went on a walking tour of the culturally vibrant Waterloo Street, where a Catholic church, Jewish synagogue, Hindu and Taoist temple sit side by side. “The peaceful coexistence of places of worships for different religions has left a very deep impression on me. Everywhere we visited, we witnessed good racial harmony,” commented Ms Zhao Xu, a senior reporter from China Daily.
In addition to religious harmony, they discovered unique Peranakan traditions at the Intan, a heritage home-museum in Joo Chiat, and traced the Singaporean Chinese’s ancestral roots at the Chinese Heritage Centre. They enjoyed a typical Singaporean lunch at a local food court and explored HDB flats in the Sengkang estate. This multicultural way of life left a deep impression on Ms Wang Bingning, a reporter from the China Times, who remarked that she was “very impressed to learn some new angles about Singapore in which its diverse multicultural and multi-ethnic population manages to cohabitate.”
The visit showcased many aspects of Singapore that are better experienced than read about. Valuable insights and stories were shared on how Singapore and China, with our interlinked history, can learn from and grow with each other. Mr Zeng Yu, a senior editor from Jiemian brought up that “the historical connection between Singapore and China has a deep impact on current affairs.” These links formed through these cultural exchanges and interactions with our overseas friends deepen intercultural understanding and encourage the sharing of best practices even as both countries work towards building a more inclusive, better world.
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