Speech by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Education & Second Minister for Finance, at the 55th Thamizhar Thirunaal Celebration
Thamizhar Thirunaal 2007
Thamizhar Thirunaal 2007, in celebration of Hari Raya, Deepavali and Christmas, was held on 17th November at Ceylon Sports Club. Hosted by TRC and its 30 affiliate organizations, the event brought together more than 1500 people for a night of festivity.
An Expression of Energy and Passion
Adding further splendor to the event, Guest of Honour for the evening was Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Finance. Mr. Tharman remarked “it is heartening to see financial and logistical support coming from TRC for these Tamil language activities among our young. TRC has also organized several mass participation activities, such as Tamil language competitions for students.” He added further “ Tonight’s event is a joint effort by TRC and its 30 affiliate organizations and is a clear expression of the energy and passion that goes into the Indian community activities. I hear that more professionals and committed individuals have been brought to join the TRC. All this certainly bodes well for the future of the Tamil community.”
“In the words of Thiruvalluvar, the great poet, “There is no better gain or virtue to seek, now or in the life ahead, than service to society”. The Education Minister called on individuals and organizations to do their part for the Tamil language. “ Come forward, your skills, your ideas and your strengths will defi nitely be used”, said Mr. Tharman. He also announced that to ensure that students are skilled at reading Tamil, the Education Ministry has launched a work plan in 48 primary schools. This plan will also be implemented in the other 100 odd schools that also teach Tamil. Th e Ministry will invest $30,000 in Tamil books for this plan.
$35,000 for Kandasamy Education Trust Fund
Thamizhar Thirunaal was also a charity event, raising $35,000 for the Kandasamy Education Fund, which gives out about $20,000 in bursaries and excellence awards each year. Supporters and donors came from various organizations and commercial enterprises. A surprise donor, Ajmeer Stores came forward at the last minute to donate snacks and sweetmeats for the guests. Various other sponsors came forward to contribute to making the event a success.
A Hearty Dinner And A Light-Hearted Programme
A hearty dinner was served and a light hearted programme which included guest stars from India, Vijay TV comedy artistes as well as singers from the Asoka Club Band and local stars such as the Manimaran Dance group and popular singer, Murali Krishnan entertained the group. Hosts for the evening were Ms. Th iruselvi for Mediacorp, Oli and Mr. Sethu from Vijay TV, India.
Visions and Aspirations of TRC
“The visions and aspiration of the Tamils Representative Council is synonymous with the dynamism of Tamil Heritage enriched in particular by music, dance and drama and language of the Tamil people. The Singapore government encourages ethnic minorities to preserve their culture. We, Tamils must use this opportunity and encouragement to further grow our culture. This function was clear evidence that the Tamil culture is flourishing in Singapore “said Dr.R.Theyvendran, TRC’s President in a media interview.
TRC thanks all its affiliates, members, supporting organizations and donors in making the event a resounding success.
SPEECH BY MR THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAM, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION & SECOND MINISTER FOR FINANCE, AT THE 55TH THAMIZHAR THIRUNAAL CELEBRATIONS, CEYLON SPORTS CLUB, ON SATURDAY, 17 NOVEMBER 2007, AT 8:00 PM
TRC President, Dr. R. Theyvendran,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. On this festive occasion, let me say a heartfelt ‘Selamat Hari Raya’ to all our Muslim friends, ‘Deepavali Valthukal’ to all our Hindu friends, and ‘Merry Christmas’ in advance to all our Christian friends. Tonight’s event allows us to recognise and celebrate these different religious festivals amongst the Tamils.
2. Tonight’s event also goes to a worthy cause. All proceeds are being channeled to the “Kandasamy Education Trust Fund”. The Trust Fund was launched in September 2000 by the Tamils Representatives Council (TRC) in memory of TRC’s late President and Advisor, G Kandasamy, who was well-known as a formidable trade unionist and community leader. I am glad that the TRC has decided to use the Trust Fund to assist Tamil students through scholarships, bursary and excellence awards.
3. The community and MOE are working well together to help Tamil students along their journey of learning. It was in fact at the last Thamizhar Thirunaal celebrations in November 2005 that I had announced the formation of the Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee, headed by my colleague Mr S Iswaran. We have since seen many meaningful, Tamil-centered activities. For example, a 15-hour drama workshop series was conducted in 12 Primary Schools. This programme created opportunities for some 320 students to use spoken Tamil in an active setting. Students enjoyed the programme and felt that it enhanced their capacity and confidence in the use of Tamil. The teachers have observed that some of their students are now participating more actively in classroom discussions and presentations.
4. We have also seen an intensive 10-week ‘Art of Speaking’ Programme, which saw participation from 25 students from seven Tamil language centres. Teachers and students gave positive feedback for the programme. As a follow up to the programme, selected students were given the opportunity to showcase their talents in a programme titled ‘Attagasam’ organised by Mediacorp FM Oli 96.8. To effectively implement this programme in schools, training will be provided for teachers of participating schools.
5. In this regard, it is heartening to see financial and logistical support coming from the TRC for these Tamil language activities among our young. TRC has also organized several mass participation activities, such as the Tamil Language competition, for students.
6. I hope that more individuals and organisations will come forward and play a positive role in the promotion of the Tamil language. Just come forward, and I am sure there will be a way to utilise your talents, your ideas and your networks and energies.
7. MOE on its part continues to work hard at strengthening Tamil language learning in our schools. To enhance the accessibility of Tamil instruction, we recently piloted a video conferencing project involving the Umar Pulavar Tamil Language Centre and ten secondary schools, over one term. For the first Tamil lesson of the week, students from the pilot schools attended the lesson in their own schools but interacted with teachers at the Tamil Centre via video conferencing technology. Teachers welcomed the use of video-conferencing, observing that it engaged students in independent learning. Students also found the online instruction interesting and felt that they acquired information and examples better through video conferencing. Best yet, students could now cut traveling time, and still benefit from the expertise at the Language Centre.
8. The Ministry is also helping Tamil students read better. Reading is an integral skill in the Tamil curriculum. To promote independent reading, 48 primary schools have been involved in the structured Tamil-reading programme targeted at Primary 3 and 4 pupils this year. Teachers from these schools are trained to carry out structured reading, with MOE providing the schools age-appropriate Tamil story books such as “Siruvarkalukku Mullah Kathaigal” and “Thenali Raman Kathaigal”. This month, teachers and students from these schools will be sharing their reading journey with other primary schools. The remaining 100 primary schools offering Tamil will implement the structured Tamil-reading programme from next year, with MOE investing $30,000 in Tamil books for schools.
9. Taking all the initiatives together, we are seeing an upsurge in efforts to promote the Tamil language, and in more engaging ways for our young. I believe the activities initiated by the community and MOE will secure the place of the Tamil language both among present and future generations. They will help Tamil retain its special place in the Singapore identity, not just as an official language but as a living language, a language and culture that adds vibrance to our society.
10. Strong, robust and vibrant communities do not come about overnight or on their own. They have to be built by dedicated people. Tonight’s event is a joint-effort by TRC and its 30 affiliate organizations and is a clear expression of the energy and passion that goes into Indian community activities. I hear that more professionals and committed individuals have been brought in to join the TRC. All this certainly bodes well for the future of the Tamil community. In the words of Thiruvalluvar, the great poet: “There is no better gain or virtue to seek, now or in the life ahead, than service to society”.
11. I urge you too to go further and take what you have been doing well to the other communities that compose Singapore. A good example is your celebration tonight –-people of different faiths, but nonetheless, one people! Let me wish you a wonderful evening of joyful celebrations, and may the Tamil community be even stronger and even more closely knit with others in the Indian community, as well as with the other communities here in Singapore.