Ruminations

New Year Wishes for 2006 

‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’ to readers of this blog. With the start of a brand new Lunar year, here are some of the buildings that I will be visiting this year. Those interested can write in to me and we can arrange a date to do the ‘templing’ together! Here’s the list:-

Temples in Penang – Meetup with Mr Tan Yeow Hooi, Ronni Pinsler

Historic cemeteries of Perak – Meetup with Ah Q the grave digger

Johor – Johor’s oldest temple opposite Indian temple – photoshoots & curry fish-head with tau-ki

Buildings in Singapore – Tong Xian Tng (Devonshire rd), Yin Foh Kuan(Commonwealth), Balestier Tua Pek Kong, Telok Blangah Tua Pek Kong, House of Tan Yeok Nee , Thong Chai Medical Hall

For those of you wondering what to do during this Chinese New Year holidays, go to Thian hock Keng on the eve at around 11pm to do the tradition of offering of the 1st incense of the year(no crowds here) or go to Shuanglin Monastery to hear the 108 soundings of the gong. These activities will ensure that you get lots and lots of luck this year!

May all have peace and harmony in the new Lunar Year 🙂

Kent Neo, 25 January 2006

Ruminating on 2006/2007

What a year this has been since the last Chinese New Year. My little past-time indulgence is getting more and more attention from people around me. In Darwinian theory, this is known as emergence, the beginning of a new mutation. One question really struck me deep during a recent visit in Penang. Two gentlemen in an art gallery next to Yeow Wooi’s office was having a little chat with me. We were conversing in English at first until Yeow Wooi intercepted and naturally I switched to Mandarin. The two Chinese gentlemen were stunned. One asked, “are you Chinese educated?” I was dumbfounded for a split second before replying politely with a” I am bilingual”  statement. I think if Dr Lim Boon Keng were alive, he’d be grinning right from behind me!

This year, I think I would like to see all high resolution pics of old Chinese temples and buildings to be put up on the web for more people to view and enjoy. Its not easy to raise awareness of heritage interest in Singaporeans whose favourite past-times are generally dominated by market forces or activities that at least have conversation value. Somehow there is this strange phenomenon in Singapore that anything Chinese is ‘low-class’ while anything foreign or imported is ‘high-class’. This mentality, I’m afraid, permeates  from the HDB Ah Beng to the Tai Tai living in Bukit Timah. Well, at least they have something in common.

It is true that Singaporeans live in imported cultures. We have yet to evolve our own culture. Yet, in this rather mutifaceted and pluralistic society of ours, if we persist to exclude common cultures belonging to our forefathers in this cultural evolutionary process, we will end up having a culture that only understands Singlish or Singdarin, with a life driven by material gains and self-gratification. Already, I am experiencing this phenomenon with people around me. MM Lee was right, a Singapore culture will not emerge in our lifetime. Li Ao was also right, we are only but descendants of coolies, illiterate and empty-headed. Nonetheless, let me be that defying soul, I will be that Singaporean to prove both these gentlemen wrong.

Traditional culture and wisdom is here to stay, with a little help from digital innovations.

Kent Neo

30 Dec 2006 

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2 responses to “Ruminations

  1. Anyone wants to post articles in SOH weblog?

  2. Kent, I would be very interested in building a mapping site featuring the Architecture you have documented.

    as and example see: http://www.singeo.com.sg/singeo/maps/photmap.html

    Regards

    Singeo

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