The Republic has endured and thrived because it has continually transformed and modernised, even as it preserves some elements of its past, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.
"Each generation of Singaporeans has built on what their predecessors had achieved, preserving what is 'gracious and good', and building upon it so that the next generation can reach greater heights for themselves and for Singapore," he said at the Singapore Cricket Club's (SCC) Visitor's Dinner in Connaught Drive.
PM Lee was conferred the club's honorary title of Distinguished Visitor, which had been given only to both former prime ministers - Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 1970, and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong in 2007.
PM Lee said a paragraph from the late Mr Lee's speech to the club in 1970 resonated with him: "I hope that this open green space and this building will continue to symbolise that capacity to change, to adapt, to adjust, and to keep all that was gracious and good of the past. That is not to say that all of the past was wonderful. But there were quite a number of things in the past which were good, including this open green space. There are quite a few things in the present which are not so bad, and so worth preserving."
PM Lee said this was an apt thought, especially in the bicentennial year when the nation is "remembering the ups and downs, the triumphs and tragedies, the troubles we have experienced together, and the progress we have made".
He noted that from its vantage point at the Padang for the past 167 years, the SCC has had a front-row seat witnessing Singapore's growth. The Padang and historic buildings like the Supreme Court and Victoria Concert Hall have remained, as has the SCC, he added, saying such venues are a physical link to the past and serve as a reminder of key moments of history.
The SCC has also preserved some of its treasured traditions while moving with the times, he said, noting its tradition of sporting excellence that has expanded beyond playing cricket on the Padang to include sports like football, hockey and rugby. "You have expanded your mission to promote a love of sports not just among your members, but all Singaporeans," he added, saying the club's teams have nurtured generations of talent.
Last night, SCC president Sher Baljit Singh also presented Sport Singapore chief executive Lim Teck Yin with a $300,000 cheque for SportCares, Sport Singapore's philanthropic arm, from funds raised by the SCC through various bicentennial celebrations in October.