Wednesday 16 March 2016

Founders' Memorial: Fort Canning Park and Gardens by the Bay’s Bay East Garden identified as potential sites

Two possible sites identified for Founders' Memorial
By Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 15 Mar 2016

The committee in charge of conceptualising a memorial to honour Singapore's founders has made recommendations on two possible sites: Fort Canning Park and Bay East Garden at Gardens by the Bay.

The 15-member Founders' Memorial Committee, formed in June last year, also shared its findings yesterday after four months of public engagement about the concept.

Of the two sites that it identified in consultation with the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the committee had a "clear preference" for the Gardens by the Bay site, which sits on reclaimed land and is adjacent to the Marina Bay Golf Course.

"The Bay East Garden reflects a forward-looking nature that we feel is important for the memorial," said committee head and Esplanade chairman Lee Tzu Yang. "Secondly, it is a practical issue: it is a less mature site, and therefore affords more freedom, more flexibility in terms of design and in terms of integration with the surrounding context."

Fort Canning Park is the site preferred by the PAP Seniors' Group (PAP.SG), an advocacy group under the ruling People's Action Party. In its proposal to the committee last September, PAP.SG cited Fort Canning's long and rich history and noted it "once served as the seat of power in Singapore, even pre-dating the colonial period".

Mr Lee agreed Fort Canning benefits from being within walking distance to museums and monuments in the historic Civic District. It is also the start point of the 8km-long Jubilee Walk heritage trail.

But Bay East Garden would better meet the objective of offering a quiet, contemplative space, and room to hold civic programmes.

"Fort Canning Park has certain limitations... because it is quite congested and is already built up, whereas at Bay East Garden, we can achieve both a reflective space and a programming space."

With the current end-point of the Jubilee Walk "only a short hop" away at the Marina Barrage, the trail can be extended to take in Bay East Garden, said Mr Lee.

Ambassador-at-large and committee member Gopinath Pillai agreed. He said concepts such as multiracialism and resilience that the memorial should espouse "need space to be properly reflected".

Heritage experts contacted by The Straits Times said both sites are equally suitable, with Fort Canning having greater historic significance but Bay East Garden being newer and able to attract greater traffic.

"A memorial will look much more grand and inspiring if you can see it from afar, if in some way, it punctuates the landscape. Both sites allow for that," said International Council on Monuments and Sites Singapore president Kevin Tan. "But you also have to bear in mind other considerations such as accessibility, and whether it can embody the spirit of what you are trying to portray."

Yesterday, Mr Lee shared key findings the committee gleaned since October last year from nearly 2,000 people it engaged at public dialogues, through online responses and a door-to-door survey.

More than 80 per cent of Singaporeans surveyed supported a memorial that commemorates the values and ideals on which Singapore is built, and that such values include multiracialism, determination and unity.

A majority also felt the memorial should inspire future generations, and should recognise founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and his team - which includes Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr S. Rajaratnam, Mr Othman Wok and Mr Lim Kim San.

Mr Lee said the committee is looking at a memorial that encompasses this "pantheon of characters, rather than a specific individual", and that the ultimate focus is on the principles they stood for.

"Clearly, these values and ideals only become real when we look at examples, and the examples are to do with people. So the people will be in the memorial, but the focus will be on the values and ideals."

Thank you for coming forward to share your views with us on how we should honour the values and ideals of our founding...
Posted by Our SG on Monday, March 14, 2016

Founders' Memorial site: 'Hear public's views first'
The Straits Times, 18 Mar 2016

Singaporeans should be heard on the location of a memorial to honour the country's founding leaders, the Government said yesterday.

It wants the committee in charge of conceptualising the Founders' Memorial to get views from the public before making a final decision on the two possible sites identified.

The 15-member Founders' Memorial Committee said last week that it had recommended Fort Canning Park and Bay East Garden at Gardens by the Bay in a report submitted to the Government.

Of the two sites, identified in consultation with the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the committee had a "clear preference" for the Gardens by the Bay site, which sits on reclaimed land and is adjacent to the Marina Bay Golf Course.

The Government yesterday acknowledged the committee's recommendation that the Bay East Garden site can better convey how the values and principles of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his team have shaped the Singapore story, and inspire future generations of Singaporeans.

It said in a statement issued by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth: "As the Founders' Memorial will be an important landmark that will leave long-lasting impact, the Government would like the Committee to consult the public and allow Singaporeans to share their views on the two site options before making a final decision."

Fort Canning Park or Gardens by the Bay? The Government wants views on the two proposed Founders' Memorial sites before making a decision.
Posted by The Straits Times on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A straw poll of 50 Singaporeans by The Straits Times this week found that respondents were evenly divided on the two possible sites.

Yesterday, the Government also thanked the committee for its work in consulting Singaporeans, and welcomed the findings and recommendations made. "Singaporeans can look forward to more opportunities to be involved along the entire process - from the design to the construction of the Memorial."

The committee, formed last June, had conducted a survey and held public dialogues to seek the views of Singaporeans on the memorial.

The Government thanked those who took part in these sessions and called on Singaporeans to continue supporting the committee's work by sharing their views through the website.

Ho Ching and I did a #jalanjalan at Marina Barrage and Bay East Garden last Saturday. The Founders’ Memorial Committee...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Friday, March 18, 2016

Most Singaporeans want memorial to recognise founders, values: Poll
By Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 15 Mar 2016

Most Singaporeans favour a memorial to remember the country's founding fathers and the values and ideals on which Singapore has been built, a survey has found.

Eight in 10 of those interviewed in a door-to-door survey expressed support, the committee tasked with coming up with a concept for the memorial revealed yesterday.

The survey of 1,300 people also found that a majority wanted the memorial to recognise founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and the team that led Singapore to independence in 1965 and laid the foundations for the nation.

Mr Lee's death on March 23 last year, at the age of 91, prompted an unprecedented outpouring of emotions and show of solidarity by Singaporeans.

During and after the week of national mourning, there was also an intense revisiting of Singapore's history and interest in the individuals who contributed to the development of the country.

Beyond the cohort of political leaders thrown up by the survey, some participants in the series of eight public engagement sessions organised by the committee since last October also cited the role that others played - unionists, philanthropists and community leaders, among others.

Founders' Memorial Committee chairman Lee Tzu Yang spoke to reporters about the survey findings and disclosed that his panel submitted its first report to the Government a fortnight ago.

He said there was "broad consensus" that a memorial was a good idea, although there was a minority who felt a memorial was unnecessary and that money to be spent on it could be put to better use elsewhere.

There was also broad agreement by participants that the memorial should centre on the values and ideals on which independent Singapore was founded, and not on individuals alone.

"These values and ideals should not just inspire pride in us, and gratitude for what has been achieved, but also serve to inspire all of us for the future," Mr Lee said. "It must resonate with future Singaporeans."

This is why the committee is recommending that the memorial should focus on being values-centred and forward-looking.

Mr Lee said the committee's work continues even as it waits for the Government's response to its initial report. The public can still contribute views via the Founders' Memorial website or by mail.

While he indicated that it would be premature to set a deadline for the memorial's completion, he said a "realistic" timeline would be that it would be done in a decade.

Heritage experts noted that as the memorial is not dedicated to any one individual but to ideals and values, the authorities are not constrained by physical locations such as a house or an office.

Two possible sites were identified by the committee in consultation with the Urban Redevelopment Authority: Fort Canning Park, and Bay East Garden at Gardens by the Bay.

While a blank slate like Bay East Garden offers more development possibilities and can easily be made more accessible, a site like Fort Canning Park has more historical significance and could resonate more with Singaporeans, said experts.

Mr Ho Chi Tim of the National University of Singapore's Department of History said the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew last year represented the first time in a while that Singaporeans have a shared memory almost on the level of the struggle for independence or the fight against the communists.

"I see the memorial as another instance of such a shared experience, and the debate over its location, design, content and narrative will be part of that."

Support for both Founders' Memorial sites
Straw poll finds public split equally between two possible locations cited by committee
By Wong Shiying and Alexis Ong, The Straits Times, 16 Mar 2016

The committee on a memorial to honour the nation's founders may have preferred Bay East Garden as a site over Fort Canning Park, but a straw poll found that both locations are equally favoured by the public.

The Straits Times polled 50 Singaporeans yesterday, a day after the panel announced its recommendation on two possible sites, and found that respondents were evenly divided on the two locations.

Several felt Fort Canning Park is more suitable due to its historical significance dating back 700 years. It was the seat of a 14th-century kingdom and later home of the British governor, before it became a fort in 1861, and a command post used by the British and Japanese during World War II.

Said IT executive Sapna Rath, 33: "As our founding fathers contributed significantly to Singapore's transformation from Third World to First, it is appropriate that we remember their contributions there."

Others preferred Fort Canning Park for its setting. Said homemaker Ng Sock Keow, 49: "Fort Canning Park has a more solemn setting, which I think is appropriate for a memorial. In contrast, Gardens by the Bay is more touristy."

But several felt Fort Canning's history need not be taken into consideration. They include senior technical executive Abdul Rahim Kamsani, 38, who said Gardens by the Bay is a more accessible location. "The history of Fort Canning is not directly related to our founding fathers," he added.

Other reasons cited by those who favoured Bay East Garden were that it is on level ground and not uphill, and that it is easy to reach from Gardens by the Bay.

Financial service consultant Jean Ho, 45, said: "Many tourists visit Gardens by the Bay and visiting the memorial can add value to their experience by giving them a deeper understanding of our founding fathers."

The Founders' Memorial Committee had said the Bay East Garden site could better put across a forward-looking narrative, offer a more open atmosphere, provide better access and hold stronger potential for programming.

Those in favour of the site added that it offers greater freedom to design a memorial as it is a less mature site. It also holds important symbolism, said confidential secretary Michelle Loh, 36, who noted that greening Singapore was a lifelong interest of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

National University of Singapore sociologist Syed Farid Alatas said that many Singaporeans could have preferred the Fort Canning Park site, given the hill's significance in Singapore's history.

But those who preferred the Bay East Garden location also recognise the significance of building the memorial on land that was created only after independence.

"Part of the symbolism of the Bay East Garden site is that as reclaimed land, it is distinctively post-colonial and captures how the founding fathers developed Singapore against all odds," Associate Professor Alatas said.

"Not building the memorial at Fort Canning can be an important way to critique the colonial past, and underline how the founding generation of leaders helped turn the page in the Singapore Story."

Whatever their preference, those polled agreed that a memorial was important. As student Rachelle Ng, 13, said: "The memorial will help students like me recognise the efforts of our founding fathers rather than just learning through our social studies textbooks."

Many feel Founders' Memorial should have exhibits and activities too
By Rebecca Tan, The Straits Times, 16 Mar 2016

The proposed Founders' Memorial could have displays on how the pioneer generation and its leaders contributed to the country's development, Singaporeans interviewed yesterday said.

But some said it should also be a multipurpose space, with activities and regular programmes for young and old, locals and visitors.

These were the broad findings from a street poll of 50 Singaporeans yesterday, a day after a committee in charge of conceptualising a memorial suggested two possible sites: Fort Canning Park and Bay East Garden at Gardens by the Bay.

Many also associated the memorial with founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died on March 23 last year, and his team of leaders who helped develop Singapore.

Although those polled were evenly split on their preferred memorial site, a good number across the age groups envisioned it as a simple space where people could walk around and view displays on the founders, and contemplate their ideals, values and contributions.

"My impression of the memorial is that it will be simple, with plaques and descriptions commemorating our founders," Ms Kimberley Aw, 19, who is waiting to enter university said, adding that people like Samsui women and foreign workers should also be thanked for their contributions.

Sales executive Roby Liwangitan, 58, said that while he preferred Fort Canning as the site due to its historical significance, he felt Bay East Garden would allow exhibits to be better displayed.

Several felt the memorial should also host activities for people to learn about the founders and their values.

Ms Bhavani Govinderajan, 30, said it could help foreigners and visitors better understand Singapore's recent history.

Others said the memorial could bring students' understanding of Singapore's early years to life.

Executive Tan Wei Lin, 23, said schools could take students on trips there, and having video clips, among others, will make visiting it a more attractive experience.

Even as the Founders' Memorial Committee continues to gather public views about its content and concept, it is clear there is no shortage of ideas on how to keep the founding leaders' ideals and values alive.

* Founders' Memorial: Share your views on ideal site, features
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 18 Sep 2016

The committee tasked to come up with a memorial to honour Singapore's founding leaders wants to canvass the views of Singaporeans on the ideal site for it and the features it should have.

It kicked off a second round of discussions with the public yesterday and also invited people who want to have a say to sign up for the three other workshops that will be held over the next two months.

Founders' Memorial Committee member Kuik Shiao-Yin said it was important to find a general agreement among Singaporeans on what they want from the memorial.

"From the committee's standpoint and the Government's standpoint, there is no rush to just create a Founders' Memorial. It's more important that there's consensus around it, especially because the consistent desire from Singaporeans is that the memorial is unifying," said Ms Kuik, who is a Nominated MP and was one of four committee members at yesterday's session.

The committee, formed in June last year and led by Esplanade chairman Lee Tzu Yang, made recommendations in a report submitted to the Government earlier this year on two possible sites for a memorial: Fort Canning Park and Bay East Garden at Gardens by the Bay.

At yesterday's workshop, participants aged from their 20s to 70s discussed the merits and drawbacks of both locations and brainstormed the desired look and feel of the memorial. There was a general preference by the 15 participants for a parkover a museum, and for the memorial to give people the experience of having gone on a journey rather than of having visited a single spot.

They also said they hoped it would have both fixed and changing elements.

Mr Joseph Tan, 64, a former teacher, suggested that the memorial could be split into two parts - half located at Fort Canning Park covering more historical aspects, and half at Gardens by the Bay covering Singapore's present and future.

"It could be presented in... a mix of modern technology like virtual reality and traditional mediums like murals and sculptures," he said after the session.

Other suggestions by participants, who were given building blocks to assemble simple models of their ideas, included a maze, a reflecting pool and an indoor gallery with artwork by the public.

Fresh graduate Juliana Chua, 24, envisions the memorial to include a journey through a park with quotes or statues associated with values such as the can-do spirit of the pioneers. She was in favour of the Gardens by the Bay site because its flat layout would allow the memorial to be visible from afar.

The 15-member committee aims to meet around 150 people in this round, including stakeholders such as architects, historians, educators, youth and community groups. The views from these discussions will then be taken to the wider public through roadshows and other mass outreach efforts in the second quarter of next year.

The committee held eight dialogues last year to discuss with Singaporeans the values and ideals worth remembering. It also polled 1,300 people and found that a majority hoped the memorial would recognise founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and the team that led Singapore to independence.

Those interested in participating in future public workshops can sign up online at:

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