Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first mentioned a Founders’ Memorial in Parliament on 15 April 2015. He spoke of having a memorial to honour the legacy of Singapore’s founding generation of leaders, to strengthen Singaporeans’ sense of solidarity, and to inspire future generations to reflect on the ideals and values upon which the nation is built.
Singaporeans wish this Founders’ Memorial to be a unifying point for all Singaporeans – a space that reflects national identity, values and strengths. The story of an unexpected nation that defied the odds, that made difficult choices for its people to not just survive, but to succeed into the future. How does a memorial capture the spirit of those times, of pressing forward amid difficult circumstances, to inspire future generations?
The proposal merges 2 historical events that made Singapore unique. First, Singapore’s Tree Planting Campaign launched by the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew saw him planting a mempat tree in June 1963. Mr Lee envisioned a clean and green Singapore, a vision that transforms Singapore into a Tropical Garden City as she is today. Secondly, trade baskets had played a significant role in the process of transporting spices and goods via the Maritime Silk Road. Merchants used it to carry their goods back and forth from one trade centre to another with Singapore in the middle acting as an important port. In merging these 2 elements, the plant and the basket, it had paved the way to the conception of a vessel to hold stories and aspirations of a nation. The vessels light up when the sky turns dark, illuminating the lush greeneries. Besides a captivating view, it serves as a reminder to the people of Singapore and visitors that she has come a long way to become a world-class City in a Garden.
This memorial is designed as a park-like setting, located near the water, to encourage reflection and recreation, and an indoor venue with interpretive and educational material. The site chosen at Bay East Garden, with an inspiring vista of the evolving skyline, presents very exciting opportunities to integrate these ideas.
The Founders’ Memorial will be like no other structure or site. It has the ambition to bring together Singaporeans and complement other institutions in narrating the nation’s heritage, taking important lessons from the past while looking into the future.