Memorial park for pioneer leaders?

ESM Goh's idea among suggestions on ways to honour founding fathers

A DAY after the Government said a committee would be formed to canvass views and conceptualise a memorial for Singapore's pioneer leaders, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said he favoured the idea of a park to remember Singapore's founding fathers.

"I think the idea of a Founders Memorial Park to trace the making of a nation, capturing its trials and tribulations, is more meaningful," Mr Goh said in a Facebook post yesterday.

Salesman Ken Chew, 39, backed the idea, saying the park should be built in Marina Bay, which symbolises the forward thinking of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Mr Lee, who died on March 23, had envisioned a freshwater reservoir at the bay in the 1980s.

The iconic Gardens by the Bay at the site also encapsulates his belief in creating green lungs to make an urban city liveable.

"Mr Lee Kuan Yew envisioned a great future for the area - and it was fulfilled in less than two decades," noted Mr Chew. "It is reflective of the huge change the whole of Singapore went through too, so it's a fitting place to honour not just Mr Lee but also all our founders," he added.

Mr Chew also suggested that the park have panels on the lives and contributions of pioneer leaders like Dr Toh Chin Chye, Dr Goh Keng Swee and Mr S. Rajaratnam.

The idea of a memorial park was among the suggestions made by ordinary Singaporeans yesterday when asked how best the country can honour the legacy of Mr Lee and his team of leaders, as well as to educate future generations on it.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Parliament on Monday that Mr Lee Tzu Yang, chairman of the Esplanade, will head a committee on a Founders' Memorial.

The late Mr Lee supported the idea of such a memorial, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen wrote on Facebook yesterday, as it could teach future generations about the values and beliefs that built a successful Singapore.

But Dr Yeo Kang Shua, of the Singapore University of Technology and Design, believes a regularly updated exhibition on the leaders will be a meaningful way to honour their work.

"An exhibition would be more informative and interactive," he said. "Honouring them shouldn't revolve just around physical reminders, but done in a way that can reach into the lives of Singaporeans too."

Marketing assistant Marilyn Lim, 29, wants podcasts of speeches by Mr Lee and the other founding fathers at the memorial.

Graduate student S. Puvanes-wary, 26, would like to see all four official languages used in exhibition displays.

Accountant Noor Azlin Yusof, 34, said that should Mr Lee's Oxley Road house be demolished, a plaque should be placed at the site, explaining its historical significance as it was where the formation of the People's Action Party was discussed.

Several agree with PM Lee that there is no need to rush the decisions on a memorial. Said retired shop owner Robert Wong, 60: "We always want to get things done fast, but these people spent years building Singapore. Do we want statues that will just gather dust? Do we want roads with their names? Let's give them our patience and think things through."

asyiqins@sph.com.sg