Founders' Memorial at Bay East Garden will span 5ha, with plans moving into design phase

The Founders' Memorial will be located at a 5ha site in Bay East Garden in the Marina Bay area. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
The Founders' Memorial will be located at a 5ha site in Bay East Garden in the Marina Bay area. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
The Founders' Memorial will be located at a 5ha site in Bay East Garden in the Marina Bay area. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Members of the Founders' Memorial Committee on a site visit at Bay East Garden in July. PHOTO: NHB

SINGAPORE - The plans for a memorial to honour the pioneer leaders of Singapore are moving forward, with a committee calling for ideas on how the Founders' Memorial, which will be located at a 5ha site in Bay East Garden in the Marina Bay area, should look like.

A competition will be held in January next year to call for proposals from architects and designers for the design of the memorial, which will cover the period in Singapore after World War II to its first few decades of independence, focusing on key milestones and stories in the country's growth.

The memorial site will be housed in a garden, within which an indoor gallery will be built.

There will likely be permanent and temporary galleries, as well as a visitor centre and multi-purpose rooms which could host school excursions and citizenship ceremonies.

The National Heritage Board will help to curate stories from the public for the memorial.

Mr Lee Tzu Yang, chairman of the Founders' Memorial Committee, gave these updates at a media conference on Friday (Oct 19) at the Esplanade, where he also shared key findings of its engagement sessions with the public.

Over the last two years, the committee reached out to more than 32,000 people through dialogues, surveys and workshops. Different groups like historians, educators, architects and students were also consulted.

Mr Lee, who is also chairman of Esplanade, said that the pioneer leaders' boldness, diligence, willingness to persevere through adversity, incorruptibility as well as integrity were some of the important values that were gleaned from public feedback.

He said while the project may invite cynicism, with some seeing it as propaganda, the Founders' Memorial is meant to unify Singaporeans from all walks of life and generations, including those who hold different or opposing views.

It is not meant to highlight personalities and people, he reiterated, but to capture the values and ideals that have made Singapore what it is today, and will carry it into the future.

"I think (the late) Mr Lee Kuan Yew would have wanted that," he said.

The 15-member Founders' Memorial Committee will continue to lead in the next stage of the project.

Five members, however, have stepped down. Five new faces have joined. They are Mr Jeff Cheong, president of creative agency Tribal Worldwide (Asia); Ms Shahrany Hassan, founder and director of Legal Matters, a firm specialising in lawyer referral service; Professor Tan Tai Yong, president and professor of humanities (history) at Yale-NUS College; Mr Wong Siew Hoong, director-general of education at the Education Ministry; and Ms Yeoh Chee Yan, chairman of the National Heritage Board.

Construction of the memorial will start from 2021.

The committee had previously indicated that the Founders' Memorial could open by 2025, in time for Singapore's 60th year of independence.

Prof Tan, who was at the media conference on Friday, said the project hopes to capture Singapore's journey to independence and the decades after.

"This period is a critical turning point in the history of Singapore because emerging out of the war, there were all sorts of issues that in a way influenced the thinking about the future of Singapore," he added.

It was a period in which "through contestations, through the baptism of fire, through all sorts of challenges that Singapore had to face as a colony that was exiting out of Imperialism", the Republic had to find its own place in a new world and to develop its own ideas about what it should stand for as a new entity.

He added that the team will not "gloss over the complexities of the period".

"It is not the intention of this committee to black out or whitewash some parts (of history). We want to capture as much as possible the complexities of the stories."

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.