SINGAPORE - The three values of openness, multiculturalism and self-determination have shaped Singapore's history over the past 700 years and remain important for the country's future.
This was the message from Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat at Our Tampines Hub on Saturday (June 22), when he launched the Singapore Bicentennial Roadshow @ North East.
"Trade is in the lifeblood of our nation and staying open and connected is one of the key reasons why we have thrived and succeeded as a modern nation," said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister.
"And because we have always been open, Singapore has seen various groups, communities and individuals who have come here and together shaped our development. We were a plural society as far back as the 14th century."
Mr Heng added that Singapore has always found a way to thrive despite numerous ups and downs in its history, from being sacked by the Majapahit in the 14th century and falling to the Japanese during the Second World War.
"It is this spirit of self-determination to overcome, evolve and change with the times that has carried us through each of these low points in our history," he said.
The roadshow runs from Saturday to June 30 and is the third in a series of five roadshows. The first was held in April at Wisma Geylang Serai while the second was in May at the HDB Hub Atrium.
The two shows attracted about 6,500 and 9,000 people respectively. The roadshows run monthly till August and will move on to Northpoint City and Lot One Shoppers' Mall.
Besides exhibits common to the earlier roadshows such as a timeline wall of Singapore's history from 1299 to 1965, this edition also features stations showcasing the North East district's unique history, from Teochew immigrants who settled in Hougang to the Malay kampung once located in Eunos, a neighbourhood that takes its name from Mohamed Eunos Abdullah, who became Singapore's first Malay legislative councillor in 1924.
There were also booths by SingPost, the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) and the National Library Board (NLB).
Alongside North East District Mayor Desmond Choo, Mr Heng also launched a set of 10 stamps commemorating the Bicentennial by SingPost at the roadshow. The 10 stamps depict key milestones of Singapore's 700-year journey from the arrival of the British to independence before ending with a vision of Singapore's future.
The stamps are available for sale at all post offices from Saturday.
Mr Choo echoed Mr Heng in saying that a strong sense of self-determination has forged the identity of a Singaporean people, adding that the North East district bears the marks of Singapore's transformation over the years.
"Post-World War Two, residents staying in Punggol converted largely undeveloped land into plantations and poultry, pig and fish farms. They made sacrifices when land was needed to build modern housing projects," he said.
"Pasir Ris used to have a hotel that held many memorable parties and picnics. Today, we have modern housing for 1 million residents in the North East."
The centrepiece for this year's Bicentennial commemoration, the From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience exhibition located at Fort Canning, welcomed its 100,000th visitor on Thursday.
The exhibition opened on June 1 and runs till Sept 15. Of 4,000 visitors surveyed since the opening, close to 95 per cent rated their experience as a positive one.