Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies, Volume 5, 2011-12南方華裔研究雜志, 第五卷, 2011-12Biography and Representation: A Nanyang University Scholar andHer Configuration of the Sinophone Intelligentsia in Singapore 2012 Huang Jianli AbstractThis study uses the corpus of writings and range of activities of a NanyangUniversity scholar as the lens to refract the transfiguration of the Chineseeducated intelligentsia in Singapore over five decades of English-educatedPAP hegemony. It is a weaving of biography and representation, bringing tothe forefront Lee Guan Kin’s educational experience and public intellectualactivism, and pairing these with her scholarly analysis of them. Her insider’sperspective would allow for a greater appreciation of the dilemma, anguish,aspirations and intra-dynamics of this segment of the Chinese communityamidst the larger national environment of declining Chinese languagecompetency.Keywords: Chinese language and culture, education, intellectuals, Nanyang University(Nantah), Xiamen Univerity, Lee Guan Kin, Lim Boon Keng, Lee Kuan Yew, People’sAction Party (PAP), SingaporeIntroductionThe Sinophone intelligentsia in Singapore have been commonly referred to as the“Chinese-educated intellectuals” and were the product of British colonial policies onmigration, education, and ethnic management. In contrast to the much smallerprivileged group which received colonial state education in English, they were educatedin community-funded Chinese middle schools, or graduated from the Chinese-mediumNanyang University (Nantah). They surged to the forefront of post-World War Twostruggles for decolonization and independence, constituting a segment of the politicalleft in the nationalist movement. With the attainment of self-government in 1959 andindependence in 1965, the governing English-educated leadership of the People’sAction Party (PAP) moved to neutralize this Chinese-educated political left and to shiftthe entire education system towards English as the primary medium of instruction.Nantah initially resisted various PAP restructuring measures but it waseventually shut down in 1980 through a merger. By 1987, all non-tertiary branches ofethnic education (Chinese, Malay and Tamil) were coalesced into a single Englishlanguage “national stream” with the “mother tongue” of each respective ethnic groupserving only as a “second language”. While the production line of the Chineseeducated intellectuals had ground to a halt by the 1980s, they maintained ademographic presence and remained a significant variable to be taken into account inthe calculus of electoral politics right up to the present, even though it was ondiminished numbers and strength with every passing year.This study uses Lee Guan Kin’s corpus of writings and range of activities asthe lens to refract the transfiguration of the Chinese-educated intelligentsia over fivedecades of English-educated PAP hegemony. As a scholar trained in Nantah and whoreturned to work in her alma mater, she was herself a member of the group. It is thus aweaving of biography and representation, bringing to the forefront her educationalexperience and public intellectual activism, and pairing these with her scholarlyanalysis of them. Her insider’s perspective would allow for a greater appreciation of thedilemma, anguish, aspirations and intra-dynamics of this segment of the Chinese HUANG Jianli is Associate Professor at the History Department of the National University of Singapore. Hecan be contacted at [email protected]
4Huang Jianli, Biography and Representationcommunity in post-colonial Singapore, and can contribute towards the young nation’sintellectual history which has yet to be written.Biographical Sketch of Lee Guan KinThe choice of having Lee Guan Kin as the Nantah scholar in focus is premised on hereducational background and academic standing. A bibliographic survey of ethnicChinese studies in 1989 noted that there has always been a group of writers inSingapore who were deeply interested in historical studies but who were much morecomfortable writing in the Chinese language, even while using bilingual sources. Of thesenior generation, Hsu Yun-ts’iao (1905-1981) and Tan Yeok Seong (1903-1984) weresingled out; four others were named as the “most notable” among the younger scholars,1one of them being Lee Guan Kin.At the age of 23, Lee was among the five leading honours degree graduates ofNantah in 1971, and awarded a university gold medal. The celebratory graduationgroup photograph of these five appeared in the national English-language newspaperon the same page in which the PAP Minister of Education tried to reassure theChinese-speaking community that “the last barrier in Nantah’s road to full status” hadthen been removed with the granting of professional recognition to its accountancy2graduates. Founded in 1955 as the only Chinese-medium tertiary institution outside ofChina and Taiwan, the university had travelled a long and arduous road. The Britishcolonial authorities only reluctantly permitted its establishment, and withheldgovernment funding and recognition of its degrees for admission into the civil service.The PAP of Lee Kuan Yew adopted a similar policy on coming to power in 1959. Usingthree unfavourable committee review reports from 1959, 1960 and 1965, it was singleminded in engineering a major overhaul of the university, including reducing what wasseen as the China focus in its curriculum and the overwhelming ethnic Chinese profileof its student enrolment, and introducing English language as the major medium of3instruction. Lee Guan Kin’s 1971 graduation cohort was the twelfth batch of Nantahgraduates – among the “Last of the Mohicans” as the university’s teaching medium wasswitched officially from Chinese to English in 1975 and its 1978 intake of studentsrelocated en masse on a joint campus immersion scheme to the University ofSingapore. In 1980, Nantah was subsumed and in effect was shut down throughmerger with the University of Singapore to form the National University of Singapore.Lee’s training as a historian and the plight of her alma mater converged tomould a heightened sensitivity towards Chinese vernacular education and Chineseeducated intellectuals. Her return in 1998 to the very same campus as a full-fledgedfaculty member of the newly-implanted Nanyang Technological University (NTU)prompted her to go public with her sentiment towards Nantah and the study of history.She revealed that her widowed mother who brought up seven children had contributedto the historic fund-raising campaign to launch Nantah, and that as a student she livedon the campus for seven years on scholarship funding, supplemented by income fromgiving private tuition. She declared that Nantah to her would always be a “piece ofsacred land and a cultural bastion” and that on her graduation she did not anticipatethat “its days would be numbered even though the demon of illness was steadilyeroding its young life”. She lamented:1Leo Suryadinata, “The ethnic Chinese in the ASEAN states” in Leo Suryadinata, ed., The ethnic Chinese inthe ASEAN states: Bibliographical Essays (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1989), p. 30. Theother three leading young scholars who were identified were Lim How Seng, David K.Y. Chng and Kua BakLim.2“A red-letter day for five honours graduates”, Straits Times, 1 Aug. 1971.3For detailed analysis of the 1959 and 1965 reports, see Zhou Zhaocheng, “Kuayue guojia jiangjie de yishixingtai jueli: Yi Nanyang Daxue Balisige baogaoshu weili” (Transnational boundary competition for ideology:Case study of the Prescott Report) and Huang Jianli, “Nanyang University the language divide: Controversyover the 1965 Wang Gungwu Report”, in Lee Guan Kin, ed., Nanda tuxiang: Lishi heliuzhong de shengshi(Imagery of Nanyang University: Reflections on the river of history) (Singapore: NTU Centre for ChineseLanguage and Culture and Global Publishing, 2007), pp. 137-164, 165-220. The 1960 Gwee Ah Leng Reportawaits an in-depth study.
Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies, Volume 5, 2011-12南方華裔研究雜志, 第五卷, 2011-12[Nantah’s] children were helpless and had to watch painfully how itstruggled, dried up and died, with its life taken away eventually by thecancer of history . . . . History loves to play jokes but I was unwilling togive it up. I am being very silly to be chasing the past in this utilitariansociety. What can we do since many children of Nantah have this sillystreak? I am left with only history. Hence, I opted to go to Hong KongUniversity in my middle age to follow my teacher and again plough into4the study of history.It was twenty years after her graduation with a Nantah Master of Arts degreethat she set out to obtain her PhD degree at the Hong Kong University. In that lengthyinterlude, she worked as a subject teacher in history and Chinese language in HwaChong Junior College. She saw a close parallel between the junior college and Nantah,regarding the former as a “junior Nantah” with strong Chinese ethnic roots and amission to promote Chinese language and culture. The college had also beenconceived by Chinese businessmen and located within the campus of the ChineseHigh School, founded by Tan Kah Kee. Its façade “radiated an oriental character”reflecting its mission of “helping to preserve traditional culture and core values”. Itsstudents were to be “proficient in both Chinese and English”, with a ‘sound ballast in5their traditional culture”.During her years as a teacher, she joined several other Chinese-educatedintellectuals in launching the Singapore Society of Asian Studies in 1982, instead of6working from within the South Seas Society which had been in existence since 1940.The complex dynamics behind the parting of ways and the establishment of this new7organization have yet to be sorted out and written. In the following decades, the newsociety became the more active centre of scholarly activities. As a founding member,Lee was deeply involved and at various times served as its treasurer, head of research,vice-president, and president. Her first monograph based upon her MA thesis was8published by the Society in 1991 as part of its publication outreach. On its twentiethanniversary, Lee as president recalled that the impetus for its formation was to promotethe study of the humanities and social sciences which had been lagging in Singapore’spursuit of economic development and technical education. She emphasized that theuse of both Chinese and English languages in the Society’s events and publications9was “a conscious decision in an English language-dominant environment.”After securing the PhD degree, she joined NTU as an assistant professor inDecember 1998 with the initial expectation of helming a special research project on thehistory of Nantah. She attained the rank of associate professor by January 2003 andwas appointed as Director of the Centre for Chinese Language and Culture andconcurrently Head of the newly-set up Division of Chinese in November. In endorsingher double appointment, NTU President Su Guaning cited her “idealism”, “familiarity”10and “excellent understanding” of Nantah, as well as her scholarly expertise. InOctober 2007, she stepped down from the second appointment but retained the first.Lee Guan Kin had thus surged ahead of the pack. She attained a high publicprofile as a socially engaged scholar whose pronouncements on the community ofSinophone intelligentsia had an impact. In this, she was aided by two factors. First wasthe backing and influence of her teacher-mentor Wang Gungwu, the founder and4Lee Guan Kin, “Changes in human relations, No change in the reluctance to leave”, Lianhe zaobao, 31 May1995, written for the 40th anniversary of Nantah.5Lee Guan Kin, “Reminiscence of the past”, in 15th anniversary arts festival of Hwa Chong Junior College, pp. 9-11.6“Lee Guan Kin appointed as head of Nantah Department of Chinese”, Lianhe zaobao, 6 Nov. 2003;“Teacher-student relations with Wang Gungwu”, Sin Chew Jit Poh (Malaysia), 15 Jul. 2001.7Leander Seah Tze Ling, “Historicizing hybridity and globalization: The South Seas Society in Singapore,1940-2000”, MA thesis, Department of History, National University of Singapore, 2005, pp. 95-96.8“Publication of book on Lim Boon Keng’s thoughts”, Lianhe zaobao, 4 Mar. 1991.920th anniversary souvenir magazine of the Singapore Society of Asian Studies (Singapore, 2002), pp. 1-3.10“Lee Guan Kin appointed as head of Nantah Department of Chinese”, Lianhe zaobao, 6 Nov. 2003.
6Huang Jianli, Biography and Representation11doyen of Chinese overseas studies. Wang was the external examiner for Lee’s MAthesis; he was subsequently the supervisor of her PhD thesis from the University of12Hong Kong where he was Vice-Chancellor. Lee has reciprocated Wang’s nurturing13with high personal respect, and admiration for his scholarship.Lee’s high profile was also a result of the extensive newspaper coverage shereceived from the early 1990s. She proved to be media savvy. With cumulativeexperience and a willingness “to step out of the ivory tower and get in touch with thesocial reality”, she was ever-ready to provide information, grant interviews, and14repackage some of her academic writings for popular consumption. Concomitantly,there was a strong desire on the part of the Singapore media to track and highlight herideas and activities, especially on the part of the Chinese-language newspapers. Thissymbiotic relationship was derived in part from the way the Chinese-speaking societyhad all along been underpinned by mutual support from among its three key communitypillars – the Chinese educational institutions (of which Lee was a constituent), theChinese media, as well the Chinese clan associations, guilds and businessorganizations. Moreover, several editors and writers working in the Chinese mediawere Nantah alumni, or had been Lee’s students.Her research interest centred on the Singapore Chinese community both pastand present. The embedded contemporaneous dimension and her disposition to take apublic stand on issues inevitably led her to go beyond the strictures of academia and tostep up as a public intellectual, at times even to venture into the realm of prescriptivepublic policies. However, she did not rush into it, and instead bade her time.Framing Identity as the “Preservation of Roots” and Calling for OptimismIt was only from the beginning of the 1990s that Lee Guan Kin judged it opportune toget into the public limelight, which she did with a systematic review of the condition ofthe Chinese-educated intellectuals in Singapore. As a teacher at the Hwa Chong JuniorCollege and a leading member of the Singapore Society of Asian Studies, she offeredher first substantive analysis, which was to become her signature emphasis on root15preservation as an identity anchorage for the Chinese intelligentsia.She traced the binary of “Chinese-educated” versus “English-educated” toBritish colonial times by pointing to the paucity in funding, facilities, infrastructure andstaff salary for Chinese-medium schools, and in opportunities for higher education fortheir graduates. She defined “Chinese-educated intellectuals” (huawen zhishi fenzi 华文知识分子) (English media reports tended to use the less accurate, shorthand term“Chinese intellectuals”) as “those who had received Chinese education at thesecondary school level or higher, having a certain level of cultural inner values anddepth in thinking, and sharing the traditional scholar’s sense of suffering and mission”.In terms of occupation, they were spread among “the communities of academics,politicians, educators and even commerce and industry”.11On Wang’s premier role in this field, especially on formulation of terminology, see Huang Jianli,“Conceptualizing Chinese Migration and Chinese Overseas: The Contribution of Wang Gungwu”, in Journalof Chinese Overseas, 6.1 (May 2010): 1-21.12“Teacher-student relations with Wang Gungwu”, Sin Chew Jit Poh (Malaysia), 15 Jul. 2001; Interview withauthor, 30 Jan. 2008. According to Lee, her co-supervisor Chiu Ling-yeong, Chair Professor of Chinese atthe Hong Kong University, handled only the administrative aspects of her graduate studies. On the tensionbetween Lee and Chiu, see Chew Cheng Hai, Rensheng jiyi: Yige huawen jiaoxuezhe de huiyi (Lifetimememories: Memoir of a Chinese-language educator) (Singapore: Global Publishing, 2011), p. 55.13On her admiration of Wang’s scholarship, see “From A New History of Hong Kong to discussing theconstruction of Singapore history”, Lianhe zaobao, c. May 1998; “More than just a load of old baggage”,Straits Times, 10 May 1998; Lee, “From Hong Kong History: New Perspectives to the Construction of theHistory of Singapore”, in Asian Culture, 22 (1998): 170-175. For her alignment with Wang’s views on theutilitarian value of history, see “Patching up memory in an age of oblivion”, Lianhe zaobao, 23 Jul. 2000;“Doubts: The compulsory lesson of history education”, Lianhe zaobao, 17 Nov. 2002.14Interview with author, 30 Jan. 2008.15The following paragraphs are spliced from the accounts in Huaxiaosheng (Chinese school students), no.49 (Oct. 1990): 53-55 and no. 74 (Nov. 1992): no pagination.
Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies, Volume 5, 2011-12南方華裔研究雜志, 第五卷, 2011-12Her diagnosis was that their fortune had at some point plunged into a steepdecline, even to the brink of disappearance. “The bastion of roots – i.e. system ofChinese schools” had been steadily dissolved and there was a sense of “fear and panicand [thus] an impatience to protect mother culture”. However, while “the collapse of theChinese school system created a sense of crisis of having the roots chopped off”, sheregarded “the [PAP’s] bilingual policy of Chinese as a second language as havingbrought hope for the preservation of roots”. She and a number of others deemed thispolicy from the 1960s as positive because (a) Chinese language had shifted from beingan elective to a compulsory subject for all students (b) it had become a compulsoryexamination subject with significant weighting and a criterion for entry into the nextlevel of education, and (c) it was now taught to a much wider spectrum of population.However, she pointed out that from the start, there was considerable confusion andagony over the bilingual policy for it gave “new sparks of hope to them but yetdeviations in implementing the policy and a drop in standard had again shaken theirheart. Disappointment and hope had thus interplayed incessantly.”She used terms such as “advance” (jinqu 进取) and “retreat” (tuisuo 退缩) todescribe the mentality of “root-preservation” (baogen 保根) and tactics of responding tochanging state policies (such as increasing teaching time for Chinese language,enhancing the weighting in common examination, amending criteria for academicadvancement, as well as simplifying and Romanizing Chinese characters). She endedon an optimistic, prescriptive note that the Chinese intelligentsia should “discard thepessimism, depression and sadness of yesterday” because (a) Chinese language andculture had proven to have an intrinsic attraction and everlasting value, (b) theutilitarian dimension of Chinese language and culture was becoming increasinglyvisible, (c) Communism and anti-Chinese incidents were on the decline and Chineselanguage and culture were no longer regarded as a monster, and (d) the importance ofChinese language was being increasingly appreciated internationally.While urging caution in dealing with the English-educated PAP government,she publicly endorsed the PAP’s bilingual policy as implemented from the mid-1960sas well as the Special Assistance Programme where students of nine Chinesesecondary schools in 1979 and another ten primary schools in 1990 were taught16Chinese language and culture at a higher level of competence. She also cited LeeKuan Yew’s National Day Rally Speech on 26 August 1990 where he emphasized theneed for a “cultural background” to confront challenges of the future and lamented: “if Ihave the opportunity of beginning all over again, going back to 1965, today willcertainly be different, I would certainly have kept the Chinese primary schools”. Sheexpressed gratification that “Premier Lee had again reaffirmed the importance ofmother culture”.Her configuration was more systematically laid out in her academic paper,“Changes in Chinese Education in Singapore and Attitude of Intellectuals towards thePreservation of Roots, 1959-1987”, for a 1992 conference organized by the Tung AnnDistrict Association. She observed that enrolment in primary Chinese-medium schoolshad plunged steeply from 45.9% in 1959 to 30.0% in 1965 and to only 2.0% in 1983.Many Chinese schools had closed while others adjusted to the reality by stripping awaytheir Chinese label and switching over to the English medium. By 1987, the PAPgovernment completed its four-year plan to put an end to vernacular education andmerge all schools into a single English-medium national stream with the compulsorylearning of a second language based on one’s ethnic group. On the one hand, theprecipitous decline and eventual death of Chinese schools generated a profound senseof crisis about the cutting off of Chinese roots. On the other hand, the compensatingpromotion of bilingualism provided a basis for hope towards root-preservation. Hence,some of the Chinese-educated intelligentsia responded to the changes either bydrowning themselves in “hopelessness and funerary mood” or hanging on to “a thin ray16By 2008, there were a total of 10 secondary schools and 15 primary schools under this programme. StraitsTimes, 12 Feb. 2008.
8Huang Jianli, Biography and Representationof hope”. Yet others vacillated, moving from one state of mind to the other and adoptinga “retreat” or “advance” approach depending on the circumstances. “Hopelessness andhope intertwined incessantly on the road to root-preservation”, but she again chose toend on a positive note, pointing to signs of a new dawn. She argued that there hadbeen a positive turnaround in the number of voices in favour of root-preservation duringthe years leading up to 1987, proclaiming that “Noah’s Ark had braved the stormy seas17and was sailing forth”.Facing Contestation over Assertiveness and LabellingHowever, there was a group of Chinese-educated intellectuals who was in a muchmore combative mood. Their discontent and anger first surfaced in public discoursecoincidentally on the very day when Lee was presenting her paper on “Changes inChinese Education”. This was at a parallel forum organized jointly by the Hwa ChongAlumni Association, the Lianhe zaobao newspaper and the Singapore ChineseTeachers Union on the theme of “The Future and Status of Chinese in Singapore”. TeoKar Seng, a former Nantah graduate then teaching at the Department of Economicsand Statistics of the National University of Singapore, decried the low social status ofChinese language in Singapore and demanded that the Chinese-educated should“rebuild their self-confidence” which had been “destroyed by the dominance of Englishin Singapore over the past 20 to 30 years”. Lawyer Tang Liang Hong, an activeChinese community leader, joined the fray by “agreeing that the Chinese-educatedshould be more assertive in the learning and using of Mandarin” and “there wasnothing wrong with the Chinese, the majority race in Singapore, promoting their own18language and culture among themselves”. This was the prelude to his furthercombative outburst at a July 1996 conference as well as his 1997 general election19missteps, and his eventual political exile.The July 1996 conference on “Identity: Crisis and Opportunity” organized bythe Hwa Chong Junior College Alumni Chinese Society was the occasion when LeeGuan Kin’s identity interpretation as being anchored in root-preservation was seriously20challenged. A group of youngsters tried to break away from Lee’s representationalframework to the point of discarding the burden of being labelled as “Chinese schoolstudents/Chinese-educated” (huaxiaosheng 华 校 生 ). The four main organizingcommittee members (Quah Sy Ren, Lee Huay Leng, Lim Woan Fei and Lim SongHwee) had studied at the Hwa Chong Junior College. But they had different secondaryschool backgrounds and career development and were representative of the increasingblurring of line between the Chinese-educated and English-educated.In a pre-conference interview, they stepped forth to question the very term“Chinese-educated” by problematizing its definition and pointing to the extraordinaryrigidity and unjustified historical burden being placed on the shoulders of people whowere boxed into such a category. They desired to leave behind the past taints and toacknowledge the presence of a “new breed of Chinese-educated” (xinpinzhonghuaxiaosheng 新品种华校生) who were more outward-looking, multicultural, and eager17“Chinese intellectuals and their mentality of preservation of roots”, Lianhe zaobao, 27 Sep. 1992; “19591987 were painful years for Chinese intellectuals here”, Straits Times, 27 Sep. 1992; Lee Guan Kin, “Xinjiapohuawen jiaoyu bianqianxia zhishi fenzi de baogen xintai, 1959-1987” (Changes in Chinese education inSingapore and attitude of intellectuals toward the preservation of roots, 1959-1987) in Yeo Song Nian, ed.,Chuantong wenhua yu shehui bianqian (Changes in traditional culture and society) (Singapore: Tung AnnDistrict Association, 1994), pp. 47-97. To her, this article was then regarded by many as being “very daring”and one which would put her job security at a high risk, interview with author, 30 Jan. 2008.18“Mandarin, says lecturer”, Straits Times, 27 Sep. 1992.19During the 1996 conference, Tang called on the Chinese-educated not to carry the sedan chairs which theEnglish-educated sat on. He went on to contest unsuccessfully in the 1997 General Elections and quickly leftthe country when confronted with a multitude of law suits against him filed by the PAP leaders. See HuangJianli, “Dilemma and anguish of the Chinese-educated”, in Bridget Welsh, James Chin, Arun Mahizhnan andTan Tarn How, eds. Impressions of the Goh Chok Tong years in Singapore (Singapore: NUS Press, 2009),pp. 339-340.20“Asking the Chinese-educated not to be burdened further”, Lianhe zaobao, 17 Jul. 1996, supplement.
Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies, Volume 5, 2011-12南方華裔研究雜志, 第五卷, 2011-12to join the mainstream. While remaining committed to the use of Chinese as a mediumof communication, they hoped to transcend municipal and daily life matters and toavoid dwelling on “how to prolong five thousand years of Chinese culture, how to investin China, and issues relating to healthcare and martial art”. Their most provocativeconference panel was entitled “The Last of the Gypsies – The Myth of the ChineseEducated Persona”, with a synopsis suggesting that “under the strictest definition, theterm “Chinese-educated” may ultimately fade into history; but will the postindependence new generation be able to produce a “Chinese-educated” community of21a different nature? Perhaps the Chinese-educated persona has always been a myth.”The older Chinese-educated intelligentsia, including Lee Guan Kin, wasunsettled by such bold assertions. They feared that the youngsters were abandoningthe fundamental identity of being Chinese-educated and walking away from the sacredhistorical mission of upholding Chinese language and culture. Although she wrote afollow-up piece which tried to position herself as an arbitrator of peace between theyoung and the older generation, Lee’s own immediate response was also generallycritical of the former. She suggested that these youngsters may not have wanted to betermed as “Chinese-educated” because they “disliked the negativity, sadness, anger aswell as submit-to-reality stance of the traditional Chinese-educated”. She defended thetraditional Chinese-educated by referring to their glorious moments of contributions inthe past even though there were some negative features. She felt that “Chineseeducated did not necessarily represent the bad dimension” and warned that one shouldnot “be too anxious to throw them into the rubbish bin. What should be discarded arejust the negative emotions.” As to whether the term “Chinese-educated” would fade intohistory, she said she preferred not to place too much emphasis on labelling and wouldrather let the youngsters embark on their own journey to constructively inject new22elements into it.Stressing Ethnicity and Other Requisite Qualities for being a ChineseIntellectualThe clash over labelling was widened during the 1999 conference on “Role of Chineseeducated Intellectuals in the twenty-first Century”. Some of the 200-odd participantsrose to challenge the ethnic ascription as framed in the conference topic by arguingthat the term “Chinese-educated intellectuals” was fundamentally inappropriatebecause it segregated intelligentsia in a country by race or language, downplaying theuniversal humanistic traits demanded of a true intellectual.Those aligned with Lee Guan Kin’s thinking defended it, including Goh EngSeng, an associate professor in Chinese studies at the National Institute of Education,who argued that “there was a place and need for Chinese-speaking intellectuals whowere at home with the language”. Ho Woon Ho, who had moved from Hwa ChongJunior College to head Henderson Secondary School, was also “adamant that therewas a place for both Chinese culture and intellectuals”. She declared: “As aSingaporean, I will of course learn from other cultures. But as a Chinese, I want topreserve Chinese culture and its traditions.” She pronounced that if those who wereeffectively bilingual were willing to recognize themselves as Chinese-educated21See conference poster. The two papers presented at this particular panel are Kwok Kian Woon, “Myth,memory and modernity: Reflections on the situation of the Chinese-educated in post-independenceSingapore” and Quah Sy Ren, “Cunzai yu maodun zhong de huaxiaosheng: Yige Xinjiapo shi de xiand
Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies, Volume 5, 2011-12 . University scholar as the lens to refract the transfiguration of the Chinese- . conceived by Chinese businessmen and located within the campus of the Chinese High School, founded by