Bicentennial showcase a call to reflect on past: Heng Swee Keat

The Seed Conservatory, featuring the historical flora of Singapore, is one of eight interactive pavilions and installations along the Pathfinder, an outdoor exploratory trail. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo v
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo viewing Act 5 of the showcase, Destiny From 1950s To 2019, in a special "rain enclosure" highlighting the nation's achievements.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
The Seed Conservatory, featuring the historical flora of Singapore, is one of eight interactive pavilions and installations along the Pathfinder, an outdoor exploratory trail. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo v
The Seed Conservatory, featuring the historical flora of Singapore, is one of eight interactive pavilions and installations along the Pathfinder, an outdoor exploratory trail. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Inside the spinning rotunda, visitors see Act 2 and Act 3 - when Raffles arrived in Singapore in 1819 and how the island developed into a dynamic port - which come to life with the help of cutting-edge multimedia and breathtaking sets. A 360-degree f
A 360-degree surround screen moves in front of the visitors while the platform they are seated rotates, conveying a sense of the mechanical strength that powered the rise of industrialisation in Singapore.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Inside the spinning rotunda, visitors see Act 2 and Act 3 - when Raffles arrived in Singapore in 1819 and how the island developed into a dynamic port - which come to life with the help of cutting-edge multimedia and breathtaking sets. A 360-degree f
A replica of part of the hull of a wooden ship which visitors enter to experience first-hand the sights, sounds and drama of Singapore's history and evolution.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Inside the spinning rotunda, visitors see Act 2 and Act 3 - when Raffles arrived in Singapore in 1819 and how the island developed into a dynamic port - which come to life with the help of cutting-edge multimedia and breathtaking sets. A 360-degree f
Act 1 shows Singapore's beginnings where visitors get to see live performers, and a moving travelator adds drama and dynamism to some of the most colourful events that took place in early Singapura.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

It aims to inspire Singaporeans to think about how country's history affects present, he says

The multimedia bicentennial showcase at Fort Canning Centre, which opens to the public next Saturday, is aimed at inspiring Singaporeans to think about how the past affects the present, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

"We are commemorating the bicentennial in order for us to look back at history, to learn the lessons of history, and see how we can take Singapore forward in order to chart a better future for Singapore and Singaporeans," he said.

Mr Heng was speaking to The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao on May 14 after watching a preview of the show.

He added that the values of resilience, self-determination and openness, and the ability to work together to overcome adversity and seize new opportunities - evident in pre-and post-independence Singapore - have shaped the island into what it is today.

When asked if the bicentennial experience was a means to rally Singaporeans in the lead-up to elections, Mr Heng said the task of "building our nation, building a sense that we are Singaporeans, is an ongoing one", regardless of whether there is an election.

Also at the preview was Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, who is co-chairman of the ministerial steering committee for the Singapore Bicentennial.

She said Singapore has a very rich past but has not spent that much time understanding it or found an interesting and exciting way to tell that story.

 
 
 
 
 

"So our challenge was taking that rich history and presenting it in a way that people don't immediately say, 'My goodness, another history lesson.' We challenged ourselves to present it in a way that had not been presented before," she added.

Immersive, multimedia journey through Singapore's history

This history will be told through sets, live performances and multimedia elements at the showcase - From Singapore To Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience.

It will be launched by President Halimah Yacob next Thursday and open to the public from June 1 to Sept 15.

It was put together by creative directors Michael Chiang and Beatrice Chia-Richmond, curator Chang Yueh Siang from the Singapore Bicentennial Office, and a group of creative talent from the performing arts, film, multimedia and animation industries.

The experience comprises an hour-long indoor cinematic, immersive journey called Time Traveller, and an outdoor exploratory trail called Pathfinder, which features eight interactive pavilions and installations.

About 75 per cent of tickets to the showcase that were released for the month of June have been snapped up. The Singapore Bicentennial Office is expecting more than 300,000 visitors to the show during its run.

Other events and activities will be taking place alongside the show.

At Fort Canning's Food Village, visitors will get to sample Peranakan, Cantonese, Minangkabau and West Indian cuisine, prepared by Singaporean chefs such as Violet Oon.

Short films by multimedia director Brian Gothong Tan - exploring the themes of love, compassion and multiculturalism in scenes inspired by life in early Singapore - will be projected nightly at Fort Canning Green.

There will also be lectures by historians and academics, including Professor John Miksic, Associate Professor Peter Borschberg and Dr Michael Flecker, who will provide introductions to each century of Singapore's 700-year history.

Mrs Teo said these efforts are being expended because it is important for a young nation to be able to imagine itself as having been around since 1299.

She added that the bicentennial commemoration is "the prequel to SG50 and how we got there, why we became independent, how did we even get to self-governance".

"And why an immigrant society suddenly decided that we'd better take matters into our own hands to become masters of our own fate."

SEE HOME

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2019, with the headline 'Bicentennial showcase a call to reflect on past: Heng'. Print Edition | Subscribe