SINGAPORE - From tribute notes to newspaper reports, a time capsule capturing the surge of emotions from Singaporeans over the passing of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was prepared for burial on Saturday, to be only opened in 50 years.
It will be interred at Tanjong Pagar Community Club, which is at the heart of the constituency that Mr Lee had represented for 60 years. Mr Lee died on March 23 at age 91, a few weeks shy of his 60th anniversary as Tanjong Pagar's MP.
In a speech that would be included among the contents of the time capsule, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Saturday that he hoped that the Singapore it would emerge in would be one that has gone from success to success, nurtured and built by a united people.
No one can predict what the next 50 years holds, he said, just as the transformation of Tanjong Pagar from the poor neighbourhood of workers and dockhands to what it is today has defied imagination.
"None of us can imagine what Tanjong Pagar will be like in 50 years' time, when this time capsule is opened," he said. "The world will certainly have changed, and Singapore too. It may change for better or for worse, but it will certainly not remain the same as today."
PM Lee himself won't be around to see Singapore's centenary and the unearthing of the time capsule, he said, but he urged those young enough in the audience to return for that date - and make the next fifty years worthy of celebration.
He had one more wish: that a tembusu tree he will plant on Saturday in Duxton Plain park, in honour of Mr Lee, would be standing tall when the time capsule is unearthed.
"If you nurture and protect it, it will grow big and strong, and still be blossoming and providing shade for you when you celebrate SG100," he said. "It is the same for Singapore. If we build our nation as one united people, then Singapore will continue to go from success to success."
In his long political career, Mr Lee planted a tree every year, without fail, in his Tanjong Pagar constituency, noted PM Lee.
"It symbolised his vision of a Clean and Green Singapore, and his conviction that it is our duty to plant trees and lay the foundations for the next generation," said PM Lee.
The 30-kilogram stainless steel time capsule contains items meant to capture the two-week period from March 15 until Mr Lee's state funeral on March 29.
It is an effort to help the next generation understand what the late Mr Lee meant to this generation, said the Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru grassroots organisation.
It includes cards and notes penned by well-wishers when Mr Lee was warded, a copy of his book Hard Truths, and a GRC newsletter featuring a report of Mr Lee's final community appearance - a tree planting event at Bukit Merah View in November last year.
Tree-Planting Day started in 1963, and was an annual marker of one of Mr Lee's enduring passions, the greening of Singapore.
A memorial plaque at the site includes memorial beads hand-made by grassroots leaders and residents, incorporating petals from floral tributes given by Singaporeans during the week-long mourning period.
Also launched at the park on Saturday was a fragrant garden that features Mr Lee's favourite scented plants, which include different species of gardenia. Hybrid orchids named for Mr Lee and his wife, the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo, will be placed in Tanjong Pagar's existing orchid garden as well.