ST Singaporean of the Year 2021: Defender of Chinese Heritage and Culture

SINGAPORE – Being young and female makes Ms. Lynn Wong, 32, a rarity in Chinese clan circles.

But that doesn’t deter her in her goal of rejuvenating interest in Chinese culture through new ways of appealing to young people.

Ms. Wong, a heritage consultant and researcher, made the very unorthodox decision to drop her doctorate in business studies in 2016 to pursue this goal.

His decision was informed by his own experience of studying martial arts at Kong Chow Wui Koon, a Cantonese clan association in Chinatown, since the age of 15. She said it had given her a lot: martial arts training, friendships, trips abroad, meals, comfort. in difficult times and the space to be herself.

“In a transactional world, who gives you all of this? And for free. I had such a great childhood thanks to the clan. I reaped the benefits and now I’m trying to give back,” she said.

She currently holds several positions within the clan association, including that of president of the youth committee and vice-president of the gongfu, lion and dragon dance committee.

She has taken on the role of advocate for Chinese heritage and culture, even as the forces of globalization increasingly dilute their relevance to young people.

“If we don’t do it in this generation, we may not have the opportunity anymore. Many traditions would have died out,” she said.

Over the past four years, she has devoted time and energy to “capturing and reviving endangered foods, festivals, spaces and communities in Singapore”.

Ms Wong said she wanted to revitalize clan associations – initially created to meet the social and cultural needs of Chinese migrants – and preserve Chinese heritage and culture.

As a woman in sometimes patriarchal clan associations, Ms. Wong knows it is difficult for her to make changes, but that doesn’t deter her.

“In any society, patriarchal or not, our actions speak louder than words. People start to believe when we can prove we are right.”

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