Site Founders' Memorial at Fort Canning

I share Ignatius Low's sentiment that the Founders' Memorial need not be cast in a permanent structure (Rethinking How Memorials Should Be Built, The Sunday Times, March 20)

However, such a monument should last at least five to 10 years.

Unlike the world-famous pavilions commissioned by London's Serpentine Gallery every year, the Founders' Memorial must be anchored in deeper shared values and not come across as too transient.

I disagree with the Founders' Memorial Committee's recommendation to site the monument at Gardens by the Bay's Bay East Garden instead of Fort Canning Park.

Fort Canning Hill is the tallest natural elevation in our civic and cultural district.

It used to house kings and governors, including Sir Stamford Raffles.

The values and achievements of our contemporary leaders deserve to stand tall on its peak for reflection and contemplation by Singaporeans across generations.

A well-designed memorial will open up fresh vistas of the civic and cultural district to the public.

It will also inject a new lease of life into an underdeveloped and under- utilised resource and its surroundings.

For example, the Founders' Memorial can trigger the Old Parliament House's transformation - currently The Arts House - into a museum of contemporary history.

This will tie the past and future of Singapore together, including setting the context for other similar dedications at the nearby War Memorial and Esplanade Park.

It can be the citadel of our city-state's new administrative hub along North Bridge Road and Hill Street. A memorial at Fort Canning Park will also put it within walking distance of 38 Oxley Road, home to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his family.

It is an ideal address to document the evolving legacy of our founding Prime Minister, his team and their successors.

The Founders' Memorial is a monument that must stand tall as the focus of reverence and introspection, unencumbered by distractions in its immediate vicinity.

This is next to impossible at the Bay East Garden site, which is surrounded by many attractions across the Marina Channel, such as the Supertrees and the Singapore Flyer.

Sylvester Toh


I was in Turkey a few years ago and had the opportunity to visit the Ataturk mausoleum in Ankara.

What struck me were the numerous streams of schoolchildren, aged about five or six, visiting the mausoleum, accompanied by their teachers.

My Turkish tour guide told me that it is compulsory for all children of school-going age to visit the mausoleum to learn and understand the history and lives of its leaders, especially Gazi Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk), the founder of the modern Turkish republic.

It would be perfect to have a building housing evidence of the struggles of Singapore's founding fathers, from Singapore's preindependence to where we are today.

Vincent Goh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2016, with the headline 'Site Founders' Memorial at Fort Canning'. Print Edition | Subscribe