Singapore

Bay East Garden may be Founders' Memorial site

Panel in charge of conceptualising memorial to honour pioneer leaders suggests it be open by 2025

A memorial to honour Singapore's pioneer leaders could open at Bay East Garden by 2025, in time for the Republic's 60th year of independence.

The proposed Founders' Memorial would sit by the waterfront, in a park with a view of the city skyline, showcasing Singapore's progress, recommended a 15-member committee in charge of conceptualising it.

A possible time-frame for completion is eight years, so as to "capture public enthusiasm and hopes for the memorial" when SG60 rolls around.

The team submitted a report to the Government last week and it was made public yesterday.

It engaged more than 32,000 people over two years for views.

Professor Lily Kong, a committee member and cultural geographer, told The Straits Times the team decided on what they believe is "a reasonable timeframe" for the development of content and the memorial's physical construction.

It recommended that the memorial come with an indoor gallery with space for permanent and temporary sections. It could house artefacts as well.

It also suggested that the memorial's programming calendar dovetail with important events such as National Day and climax in a Founders' Day or Week.

At this stage, it is unclear what the memorial will look like, how much it will cost and how it will be funded.

The committee has to wait for the Government's response.

If it accepts the report, the project will go into the implementation phase.

Another committee will then be appointed to oversee it.

The public, especially the elderly, who were engaged by the team said they were keen for the memorial to be developed soon.

Retiree Tan Kok Tim, 71, who used to work in the financial sector, believes that the proposed deadline is too long.

"We have the land ready and resources - there is no reason to wait (that long). I think the committee is playing it safe."

One question is who exactly the memorial will commemorate, said some heritage experts.

The committee said most agreed the "founding leaders" comprise the team led by Mr Lee Kuan Yew, whose members included Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr S. Rajaratnam, Mr E. W. Barker, and Mr Othman Wok.

It added: "However, it was acknowledged that this was a non-exhaustive selection, and that there were others who contributed to independent Singapore's development."

Mr Victor Yue, a member of the Singapore Heritage Society, said: "We need to cast a wider definition of who will be commemorated. We should allow for alternative voices, as well as stories from the commoners. We should be flexible and as inclusive as possible."

One of the committee's six key findings states that Singaporeans expressed strong support for a "values-based, forward-looking Founders' Memorial to commemorate the values and ideals of independent Singapore's founding leaders and to inspire current and future generations".

PioneerelderlyLee Kuan Yew