leekuanyew

A growing tribute fit for a visionary

Mr Lee Kuan Yew was scheduled to plant a young tree at Gardens by the Bay earlier this year. But the former Prime Minister, who was hospitalised for severe pneumonia on Feb 5, was unable to do so.

Yesterday, as a tribute to the visionary behind Singapore's transformation into a Garden City, around 100 staff members of the Gardens took part in a ceremony to plant a 13m-tall young tree.

Dr Tan Wee Kiat, chief executive officer of the attraction, said: "Mr Lee spearheaded the Garden City movement and he did it by planting the first tree.

"He was supposed to plant this tree here, and so, we felt it was appropriate to finish this proposed act."

A plaque acknowledging Mr Lee as the father of Singapore's Garden City was also unveiled at yesterday's ceremony.

Mr Lee began planting trees 52 years ago as part of his efforts to keep Singapore green, and every year since then, he never failed in carrying out the annual tradition.

The Sepetir daun tebal, a timber tree of a species native to primary forests here, was planted at the Golden Garden, near the main entrance to the attraction.

This species is known to have grown to more than 76m, the equivalent of 25 storeys. This is higher than Gardens by the Bay's tallest man-made supertree, which stands at 50m.

The attraction also has a rain tree planted by Mr Lee at the former Marina City Park in 1986. It was kept even with the development of the Gardens.

Mr Ng Boon Gee, director of Gardens operations, said a team spent three days preparing for yesterday's tree planting.

They brought the tree from a nursery to the site, prepared the ground and also produced the plaque.

Mr Ng said: "Mr Lee has contributed so much to Singapore. We wanted to do something to remember him by."

calyang@sph.com.sg