SINGAPORE - The orchid named after Mr Lee Kuan Yew matches the orchid hybrid that was named after the late Mrs Lee, Vanda Kwa Geok Choo.
The match is not only in terms of colour, form and stature, but both hybrids also share a few species in both their lineages, said Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan.
"For some time, we have been looking out for a suitable orchid hybrid to name after Mr Lee. NParks officers who have staffed him on his many visits to the SBG have a good sense of what he enjoyed and liked amongst the flora and fauna," he wrote, referring to the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
"Ironically, Aranda Lee Kuan Yew has just flowered and will remain in flower for the next 2 to 3 weeks" he added. "It would have been wonderful if we had the opportunity to present the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew to Mr Lee himself. It was not meant to be… I am certain Mr Lee would have loved the flowers."
The orchid, named Aranda Lee Kuan Yew, was presented to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana by NParks officials on Tuesday.
The hybrid is the result of a cross between a native orchid, the arachnis hookeriana, and another orchid from Hawaii - from the same line which yielded the Vanda Kwa Geok Choo, the hybrid named after Mr Lee's late wife who died in 2010.
Giving more details on the search for a suitable orchid, Mr Khaw wrote: "We have found a suitable candidate in a vigorous and robust hybrid - Arachnis hookeriana x Vanda Golden Moon. It produces flower sprays that bear up to 10 flowers each, with each bloom measuring about 9.5 cm to 10.5 cm across.
"The sepals and petals are bright greenish golden yellow with light tessellations and a tinge of white at the base. Each bloom is complemented by a contrasting light brown waxy lip."
He added: "The parentage is the Arachnis hookeriana and the Vanda Golden Moon. Arachnis hookeriana is native to Singapore. It grows in full sun and produces lasting scorpion-shaped flowers.
"Vanda Golden Moon is a large-flowered Hawaiian hybrid that contains the regional species in its lineage; Vanda dearei from Borneo, Vanda sanderiana & Vanda lamellata from the Philippines, and Vanda curvifolia from Thailand."
Mr Khaw also wrote about Mr Lee's love for nature.
"Our Founding PM Lee Kuan Yew loved nature and visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens whenever he could. My colleagues in NParks enjoyed taking him around in the buggy. They have a great deal of respect and affection for Mr Lee."
Mr Lee's vision of a Garden City set Singapore apart from other cities, said Mr Khaw.
"The making of a Garden City was a key element in Mr Lee's development strategy. It differentiates us from other cities, setting a benchmark for other cities to emulate. None of this would have been possible, if not for Mr Lee's vision and single-minded commitment to creating the best possible living environment for all Singaporeans to enjoy."
Mr Lee created NParks and its predecessors because he believed that an agency with staff trained in horticulture, botany and other areas required in maintaining greenery was needed to oversee the Green Campaign, he added.
He also set up the Garden City Action Committee to ensure that different ministries would work closely together to make greenery an integral part of Singapore's infrastructure.
Mr Khaw wrote: "Deep in our hearts, we know who the Chief Gardener of Singapore's Garden City was."