Public can give views and join forums on Founders' Memorial

The steering committee in charge of developing the concept of the Founders’ Memorial, which will honour Singapore’s founding generation of leaders, met for the first time on June 30 June.
The steering committee in charge of developing the concept of the Founders’ Memorial, which will honour Singapore’s founding generation of leaders, met for the first time on June 30 June. PHOTO: MCCY

Committee will also gather ideas through surveys and discussions with historians and educators

The committee tasked to come up with a concept for a Founders' Memorial that honours Singapore's first generation of political leaders will hold dialogues to get views from the public.

There will be eight sessions in all - including for youth and pioneers, as well as a session each in Chinese, Malay and Tamil - that will run from Oct 31 to Dec 15.

Those keen to attend can sign up at www.foundersmemorial.sg

The public can also give comments on the website on where the memorial could be located and how it could look, among others, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said yesterday.

The Founders' Memorial Steering Committee, which is led by Esplanade chairman Lee Tzu Yang, will also gather views through surveys in the coming months, and hold roundtable discussions with groups of experts like historians and educators.

  • Three questions for the public

  • The Founders' Memorial Steering Committee is asking the public for its responses to these three questions. Committee member Kuik Shiao-Yin, a former Nominated MP, said they are designed to "prime people to consider what a Founders' Memorial could mean to them personally before they turn up" at discussions.

    1. Why is it worth remembering the values and ideals of Singapore's founding generation of leaders? What are the values and ideals worth remembering?

    2. Who would you consider as the founding generation of leaders and why?

    3. Do you have an idea what the memorial could look like or where it could be located?

    •Members of the public can also give their views on the Founders' Memorial at www.foundersmemorial.sg

Mr Lee had, in reply to a letter to the Straits Times Forum page, said the 15-member panel would consult non-governmental organisations and history and heritage experts, as well as academics and researchers.

The MCCY said yesterday that the feedback from this exercise will provide the committee with views from different stakeholders and a wide spectrum of Singaporeans.

Former Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin, who sits on the committee, said she hopes the sessions will attract "a diverse range of people to surface a rich range of insights and perspectives". "If we want the memorial to resonate with Singaporeans, it must not be conceptualised in a silo," she said.

The memorial committee was formed on June 30 to come up with a concept for a memorial to honour the founding leaders' values and ideals and inspire future generations.

Over the last few months, it has been planning how to engage the public and conducting pilot discussions in small groups, MCCY said. Its work is expected to continue until the end of next year.

The idea of a Founders' Memorial was floated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Parliament in April, a month after founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew died on March 23. PM Lee said his father was always conscious that he did not act alone, but was "first among equals" in a multiracial team that complemented one another. The idea of such a memorial, perhaps coupled with an exhibition gallery to educate future generations, was one the late Mr Lee himself saw value in, he added.

Separately, the seniors' wing of the People's Action Party, PAP.SG, last month suggested to the committee that a memorial park could be set up at Fort Canning Park.

 

It proposed having artistic sculptures and features such as pools and landscaped gardens, where visitors can reflect on Singapore's journey as a nation, but should not feature personalised monuments or individual statues as far as possible.

An ongoing exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore, titled We Built A Nation, also looks at the contributions of pioneer leaders.

 

Then Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said at its launch last month that he hoped it could help generate further conversations."Ultimately, I believe we all want a memorial that will allow us and future generations of Singaporeans to remember a key period in our history, to reflect on the ideals of our founding leaders, and to pledge to continue their work of nation building," he added.

Singapore Heritage Society president Chua Ai Lin said: "Public consultation is always a good initiative, so that citizens feel a sense of ownership in the project and its outcomes. However, meaningful consultation requires participants to be well-informed on history first, and to be aware that there are many possible ways to approach history."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2015, with the headline 'Public can give views and join forums on Founders' Memorial'. Print Edition | Subscribe