Parliament: Memorial for fight against communism to be placed at Esplanade Park

A marker to honour those who fought the communists in Singapore's early years will be placed in Esplanade Park along Queen Elizabeth Walk. -- ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW
A marker to honour those who fought the communists in Singapore's early years will be placed in Esplanade Park along Queen Elizabeth Walk. -- ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW

SINGAPORE - As Singapore moves towards its 50th year of independence, two landmarks to commemorate episodes in the country's turbulent past will be set up in bustling areas in the heart of the country.

A marker to honour those who fought the communists in Singapore's early years will be placed in Esplanade Park along Queen Elizabeth Walk.

This central and prominent location in the Civic District, explained Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, puts the memorial close to the Cenotaph, the Lim Bo Seng and the Tan Kim Seng Fountain, which have been collectively gazetted as a national monument.

"By putting these markers and memorials together, we create a larger sense of Singapore's history and the context of our early years," he said.

Former president S R Nathan, who confronted pro-communist activists in the trade unions in the 1960s, will be the guest of honour at the event to unveil the marker on Dec 8.

December is the 25th anniversary of the signing of the 1989 Haadyai Peace Agreements between the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) and the governments of Malaysia and Thailand. The agreements marked the end of the CPM's four decade-long campaign of violence and subversion.

Meanwhile, a memorial to the victims of Konfrontasi will stand on the Dhoby Ghaut Lawn opposite MacDonald House.

This is a reminder of the events that unfolded on March 10, 1965, "a date remembered by many as the darkest day of Konfrontasi", said Mr Wong.

On that day, MacDonald House in Orchard Road was bombed by two Indonesian marines in 1965, killing three people and injuring more than 30.

Mr Wong was responding to Nominated Member of Parliament Tan Tai Yong, who asked for more details on the Government's plans for these commemorative efforts, first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a National University of Singapore Society lecture last month.

The two markers are strongly supported by both the community and the Government, said Mr Wong.

In recent months, the Home Team has received feedback from retired police officers recalling episodes of communist violence, assassinations, student demonstrations and labour strikes during Singapore's early years and asking that the people who fought the communists be recognised.

And the Konfrontrasi memorial was an idea raised by the Singapore Armed Forces Veterans' League earlier this year. But, even before this, said Mr Wong, members of the public had written letters suggesting various commemorative efforts for the MacDonald House bombing.

"As Singapore prepares to celebrate 50 years of independence next year, it is important to reflect on our collective past, and the struggles that we underwent to build today's safe, secure and prosperous Singapore," he said. "The Government and the people must continue to work together to instil in all of us, especially the younger generation, an awareness of the history that underpins our shared identity as a nation."