Diverse team to plan nation's 50th birthday celebrations: Education Minister

Mr Heng said the celebrations should resonate with all Singaporeans.
Mr Heng said the celebrations should resonate with all Singaporeans.

SINGAPORE'S 50th birthday celebrations should resonate with all Singaporeans, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday as the wraps were taken off the Singapore50 (SG50) committee tasked with planning events for the jubilee year.

The 29-member team unveiled was a diverse one, comprising representatives from a broad range of sectors and included such names as top music producer Iskandar Ismail and film director Royston Tan.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat is the chairman of SG50 and he said the team wants to let ordinary Singaporeans have a role in planning and organising activities for the celebrations.

"We want every Singaporean to be able to connect through their personal stories with the broader Singapore story, and be a part of the anniversary celebrations," said Mr Heng.

Speaking on the sidelines of a scholarship ceremony at the National University of Singapore, he added: "We should use this special occasion to come together to reflect on our past, to celebrate our past and our journey together as one people, as well as come together to imagine and create a better future together."

Mr Heng said the 2015 jubilee will be celebrated with several key events like the National Day Parade, and, he hopes, many more ground-up initiatives.

His committee meets for the first time today. Others involved include Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing, entrepreneur Elim Chew, and Singapore National Olympic Council vice-president Annabel Pennefather.

Ms Pennefather, a former national hockey captain, told The Straits Times she hoped to help Singaporeans find the little things that were worth celebrating in the country's history, such as grassroots sports clubs that contributed to the social landscape.

"For instance, the Jansenites club that started in my family backyard in the 1950s brought together many people of different races - Chinese, Indians and Eurasians - and to this day remains one of the top hockey clubs."

To tap the ideas of Singaporeans from all walks of life, five SG50 sub-committees will be set up. They will oversee: Education and Youth, Culture and Community, Economic and International, Environment and Infrastructure, and Partnership. Their task is to engage partners in their respective sectors, and to establish programmes that will encourage active community participation and involvement in the activities.

Acting Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong, who is also on the SG50 committee, said an SG50 programme office will coordinate the work of reaching out to Singaporeans, and the overall calendar of programmes for the celebrations.