About the Campaign

The Speak Mandarin Campaign was first launched in 1979 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. It encourages Singaporean Chinese to embrace the use of Mandarin in their daily lives, and enjoy an appreciation for Chinese culture. 


The tagline, “Speak Mandarin? Yes, I can.” reminds us that learning and using Mandarin is a continuous effort, and encourages everyone to play active roles, to make the process a fun and enjoyable one.


"For the Chinese community, our aim should be a single people, speaking the same primary language, possessing a distinct culture and a shared past, and sharing a common destiny for the future. Such a Chinese community will then be tightly knit. Provided it is also tolerant and appreciative of the other communities’ heritage, able to communicate with them in english-container, and work with them for a common future, Singapore will grow to become a nation."

PM Goh Chok Tong, 1991 Speak Mandarin Campaign Launch
History & Background

Singapore is a young country of many races as the early settlers were immigrants from all over the Asia-Pacific basin. Their diverse backgrounds made Singapore a culturally rich city as these immigrants brought with them their own beliefs and practices. The Chinese community itself was made up of a multitude of differences as the forefathers of the community came from many parts of China, belonged to various dialect groups and spoke their own distinctive languages.

The Speak Mandarin Campaign (SMC) was launched by then Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 1979.

The objectives then were:

  • To simplify the language environment for Chinese Singaporeans.
  • To improve communication and understanding amongst Chinese Singaporeans.
  • To support the bilingual education policy
  • In the initial years, the campaign encouraged specific groups of Chinese Singaporeans, for example hawkers, public transport workers, white-collar workers and senior executives, to use more Mandarin and less dialect.
  • From the 1990s the campaign started focusing on English-educated Chinese Singaporeans to encourage them to speak Mandarin in their daily lives.
  • Over the years, the campaign has shifted its focus to encourage all Chinese Singaporeans to both learn and speak more Mandarin, and inculcate and deepen an appreciation for the Chinese culture, heritage and language.
The Campaign Over the Years

The Speak Mandarin Campaign is a year-round campaign, focused on creating awareness through publicity and engaging the community. Each year, the campaign has a different theme and approach to reach out to Singaporeans.

About us

The Promote Mandarin Council consists of both private and public sector individuals, with secretariat support from the National Heritage Board.

meet our council members

The Speak Mandarin Campaign (SMC) was launched by then Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 1979. The task was to transform a deeply entrenched social-linguistic habit of Chinese Singaporeans who were long used to the speaking of dialects.

See our achievements