SINGAPORE - In his 60 years representing Tanjong Pagar, Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew paid close attention to its environment and made it a point never to miss tree planting day.
On Thursday (March 23), the second anniversary of Mr Lee's death, MPs for Tanjong Pagar GRC joined grassroots leaders and around 100 residents to plant 13 different species of shrubs in two areas of the constituency.
The plants were favourites of the late Mr Lee and his wife, the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo, and were selected by Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah with the help of the Istana plant curator.
Ms Indranee described the simple ceremony as a "happy observance" that was "not to remember death and passing but what his life stood for".
The GRC will continue to commemorate the anniversary of Mr Lee's passing every year with similar ceremonies, she added.
She also announced an annual national competition aimed at getting young Singaporeans to share their ideas to improve the country. This is to get young people to start thinking about the future of Singapore, which was Mr Lee's lifelong commitment, she said.
More details will be announced later, but the competition will take place between September, the month Mr Lee was born, and November, when Tree Planting Day is usually held.
Mr Lee started Tree Planting Day as a way to introduce greenery in Singapore and he never missed a single one. The 2014 Tree Planting Day was his last public appearance.
Mr Ho Nai Chuen, 61, chairman of the Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru Citizens' Consultative Committee, said: "In 1963, Mr Lee Kuan Yew planted a Mempat tree and this marked the launch of the national movement to make Singapore green. We want to continue the late Mr Lee's legacy in creating a clean, green and sustainable environment for everyone. This is why we are organising a planting ceremony on this day to bring together the community in remembrance of Mr Lee's contributions to Singapore."
At the newly revamped Tiong Bahru community club, the Vallaris Glabra, also known as the Bread Flower, was planted by Ms Indranee and her fellow GRC MPs Dr Chia Shi-Lu, Melvin Yong and Radin Mas MP Sam Tan. Mr Lee had specifically requested the Bread Flower to be planted in the Istana garden before he died.
Over at Duxton Plain Park, next to the Pinnacle@Duxton housing blocks, the Pleiocarpa mutica was planted. This species is widely planted in the Istana grounds and was a favourite of Mrs Lee's.
Ms Indranee also read out a message from Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, who is in Vietnam with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on an official visit.
Mr Chan said in his message: "Planting a tree is a reminder to all of us of what it takes to build our country, one tree at a time, one step at a time, but always doing it together.
"Mr Lee used to tell us three things - take care of the environment, take care of our families, and to be sure we take care of our residents," he added.
"Today's event is a celebration of the life of Mr Lee. Whilst we plant the trees today, remember that we are all doing our part to build a better environment for our families, our residents and all Singaporeans. Let us remember Mr Lee, and continue to build a brighter future on his legacy," he said.