Strong Support for a Founders' Memorial
14 March 2016, Singapore – The Founders’ Memorial Committee conducted a series of engagements from October 2015 to January 2016 to gather views on the idea of a Founders’ Memorial. Having heard these views, the Committee recommends building on the areas of consensus to develop a memorial that is values-centred and forward-looking, to inspire future generations. The values exemplified by Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his team in the founding of an independent Singapore, a multiracial and united people, inspire the memorial concept.
2 The Committee thanks the individuals and organisations who came forward to contribute their views, both online and in-person. At the public dialogues, over 400 people participated, covering all age groups and vernacular languages. In addition, a representative sample of 1,300 individuals was interviewed via a door-to-door survey, and over 200 responses were also received via an online portal. Roundtables to consult stakeholder groups (including historians, grassroots leaders, educators and academics) are on-going.
Key Engagement Findings
3 There was a general consensus among participants that the Founders’ memorial should evoke pride and gratitude in what Singapore has achieved, foster a sense of unity amongst Singaporeans and inspire all who visit to build on that legacy for the future of Singapore.
4 More than 80% of Singaporeans surveyed expressed support for a Founders’ Memorial that commemorates the values and ideals on which Singapore is built. For those in the minority who did not support the proposed memorial, the reasons cited included: (a) memorials do not capture or communicate values well; (b) a memorial may not be necessary and we should not rush; and (c) the money could be put to better use.
5 A majority was of the view that the Founders’ Memorial should recognise Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his team, who led Singapore to independence in 1965 and laid the foundations for our nation, based on the ideals encapsulated in our National Pledge. Participants across age groups said the memorial should mark the determination and values of our founding leaders in building good governance in areas such as housing, economy, jobs and employment, law and order, and national service, and also on how promises were made and delivered.
6 Some participants also highlighted others such as pre-independence political leaders, unionists, philanthropists, educators, community leaders and businessmen, and the contributions and sacrifices made by common people in support of our development. In this regard, some also suggested that it would be important for the memorial to be linked to the network of museums, to recall the pioneer generation’s experience post-World War II and their contributions through the tumultuous years leading up to independence. There was consensus that the memorial should above all focus on values and principles of the founding generation of leaders who led us through independence, emerging as a nation of united people.
7 All agreed the memorial should be inclusive and unifying for Singaporeans in encapsulating the values and ideals that independent Singapore was founded upon so as to inspire future generations. Among the key values and ideals suggested by participants were multi-racialism, unity, resilience, diligence, determination, teamwork, integrity and the pioneering spirit. Many of these emerged in discussions inspired by examples of physical development of Singapore since independence, such as the clean-up of the Singapore River, but equally important were stories of human experience in surviving tough times and pursuing opportunities for family and community.
Exploration of Site Options
8 The Committee has explored two possible site options in consultation with URA, namely the Fort Canning Park and Gardens by the Bay’s Bay East Garden.
Option A: Fort Canning Park
9 Historically, it was the seat of the 14th Century kingdom of Temasek and the home of the British Governor in Singapore in the 1800s before it became a fort in 1861. The site marks the start of the Jubilee Walk and could leverage its proximity to the National Museum of Singapore and the National Archives of Singapore to develop complementary programmes and exhibitions. The setting on a hill, along with its relative seclusion from the hustle and bustle of the city, lends itself to a solemn and contemplative setting.
Option B: Gardens by the Bay – Bay East Garden
10 Located opposite Marina Barrage and Gardens by the Bay’s Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden enjoys a panoramic view of the city skyline, extending from the Marina Barrage across Bay South Garden to the Marina Bay and CBD skyline. It is at an early stage of development with many possibilities and the proposed memorial can be integrated with the future of Bay East Garden. The Jubilee Walk, which traces Singapore’s national milestones spanning key historical sites from Fort Canning Park through the Civic District and Marina Bay, can be extended to encompass Bay East Garden.
11 Mr Lee Tzu Yang, Chairman of the Founders’ Memorial Committee says: "We have been inspired by the views of the many Singaporeans who participated in discussions through various channels. We can draw from recurring threads from this range of perspectives many ideas for a memorial to inspire current and future generations of Singaporeans."
12 The Committee recommends building on the areas of consensus to develop a memorial that is values-centred and forward-looking, to inspire future generations. The values and ideals in our National Pledge, as exemplified by Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his team, should be the focus of the memorial.
10 Located opposite Marina Barrage and Gardens by the Bay’s Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden enjoys a panoramic view of the city skyline, extending from the Marina Barrage across Bay
13 The memorial should be accessible to the public, incorporate contemplative and civic spaces that facilitate both individual reflection and group programming, and continue to be relevant to future generations. It should network and leverage on existing museums and collections, as well as landmarks, to enrich the learning experience for Singaporeans.
14 Of the two site options explored, the Committee prefers Bay East Garden to be the site for the memorial, as it can better bring out a forward-looking narrative, offer a more open and welcoming atmosphere, provide better accessibility and hold stronger potential for programming. It is connected to but separated by water from the potentially more vibrant Bay South Garden, and it can offer a relatively tranquil sanctuary within a garden setting, suitable for contemplation and reflection, with a view of the bustling metropolis from afar. While one drawback is that it is not close to the other museums in the Civic District, it can be linked to the historical narrative of Singapore via the Jubilee Walk.
15 The panoramic view of the cityscape is emblematic of the modern Singapore that we have built, giving clear focus to the desired forward-looking narrative for the Founders’ Memorial. Sited upon reclaimed land and along the Marina Reservoir, it is a powerful reminder of the Singapore story of having built a unified nation where there was none. It shows the possibilities to be achieved through our resilience and commitment to overcome constraints. Overlooking the modern city skyline, it inspires “hope” as to the possibilities for our future, as we live by these values and ideals.
16 The Committee has composed a broad narrative to capture its aspirations for the memorial, attached at Appendix A.
17 The Committee thanks all who participated for their feedback. It invites the public to continue to share their views through the foundersmemorial.sg website and visit the website to view more of the insights from the public dialogues.
About the Founders’ Memorial Committee
The 15-member Committee was formed in end June 2015 to gather views from the public and to conceptualise a memorial to honour and remember the values and ideals of the founders of Singapore.
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Siti Hamimah Aminuddin (Ms)
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We are an unexpected nation.
But against all odds, we found our way forward.
Though the fears were real and the threats were clear, our nation survived and thrived through every challenge because our pioneers honoured their promises.
Inspired by our founding Prime Minister and his team
We pledge to stay one united people, regardless of race and religion.
We commit to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality.
We vow to help one another achieve happiness, prosperity and progress.
In the stories of our part lie the seeds of our future.
Boldness. Diligence. The courage to pioneer and progress.
Resilience. Adaptability. The determination to turn challenges into opportunities.
Incorruptibility. Integrity. The humility to work together as one.
This is the Singapore spirit. Our shared legacy and common inheritance.
Let's honour it, live it and forge our future together.