If Singapore did not introduce the bilingual policy, it might be a completely English-speaking society. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said as a result of introducing Special Assistance Schools or SAP schools, there are students who are bilingual and bicultural.
He said this in a Mandarin speech at Chung Cheng High School's 75th anniversary gala dinner held on Thursday (10 July). Mr Lee said some Singaporeans told him they are concerned that the standard of Mandarin here is no longer as good as before. In response, he said we should not compare today's standards of Mandarin with the 1950s.
"We need to take a different perspective: If we did not introduce the bilingual policy, promote Mandarin, and start SAP schools, Singapore might be a completely English-speaking society. To achieve the standards of Mandarin we have now, in an environment where English is the lingua franca, is quite an improvement," said Mr Lee.
He added that the objective is to help every Singaporean learn Mother Tongue to as high a level as he is capable of.
SAP schools like Chung Cheng High were set up to develop bicultural and bilingual students firmly-rooted in Chinese traditions and identity, while being well-integrated in a multi-cultural and multi-racial Singapore.
Mr Lee also commended an old boy that exemplifies the Chung Cheng spirit of giving back to the community - Mr Wee Cho Yaw, who is the former UOB Chairman.
Mr Lee said he served the school management committee for nearly half a century and made significant contributions such as providing strong support of school activities, especially to promote biculturalism and preserve school values and traditions.
At the same event, Mr Lee announced that two iconic buildings of Chung Cheng High School (Main) located at Goodman Road have been gazetted as a National Monument by the National Heritage Board (NHB). Together, they form Singapore's 66th National Monument.
Mr Lee said one of Chung Cheng's biggest strengths is the support it receives from the community. Funds raised from tonight's dinner will go towards developing the school. - CNA/ly