Memorial tree planted at Duxton Plain Park in honour of Mr Lee Kuan Yew
BY SARA GROSSE, APRIL 25, 2015
SINGAPORE — In honour of Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who died about a month ago, a memorial tree was planted at Duxton Plain Park today (April 25).
The ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, along with some 500 residents from the late Mr Lee’s Tanjong Pagar constituency. They also filled a time capsule — which will be opened on SG100 — the centenary of Singapore’s independence.
As the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew would plant a tree in Tanjong Pagar every year on Tree Planting Day, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said it was only fitting to plant a tree in his father’s constituency in memory of him.
Mr Lee was known as Singapore’s Chief Gardener, playing a transformative role in turning Singapore into a garden city. The tembusu tree planted in his honour is a large evergreen tree that is native to Singapore. It was also a favourite of Mr Lee’s.
PM Lee said: “The whole tree is covered with small cream-coloured flowers, which give off a distinctive fragrance. Mr Lee liked tembusu trees. This tembusu will provide shade and beauty for residents and their children for years to come.”
A memorial plaque has also been placed at Duxton Plain Park for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Surrounding the plaque are beads which have been made by grassroots leaders and residents from Tanjong Pagar and Tiong Bahru. What is special about these beads is that they incorporate flower petals from the floral tributes that were given by Singaporeans during the national mourning period.
Tanjong Pagar was where Mr Lee Kuan Yew started his political career. He chose it because it was a “working class area”.
PM Lee said in the 60 years that the late Mr Lee represented the constituency, it went from one of the poorest areas in the city to being part of a prosperous, modern metropolis.
“The Tanjong Pagar story is the Singapore story,” said PM Lee. “60 years ago, there were no HDB flats. Public health and sanitation was poor. You didn’t have flush toilets. So no one could imagine in 1955 that Singapore, that Tanjong Pagar, would be like this today.
“No one would have believed that 60 years later, Tanjong Pagar residents would enjoy one of the highest standards of living in Asia, with many well-paying jobs to choose from, attending good schools, receiving good healthcare, and enjoying opportunities to travel and to experience the world.”
In order that future generations of Singaporeans can understand what Mr Lee Kuan Yew meant to the nation, a time capsule will be buried in the grounds of Tanjong Pagar Community Club.
The Prime Minister helped to fill the time capsule with several items, ranging from get-well cards to the late Mr Lee, to various newspaper articles published during the National Mourning Period.
The capsule also contains the Time Nor Tide DVD, Mr Lee’s book Hard Truths — which the Tanjong Pagar Community and Pictorial Books published in 1997, as well as the Tanjong Pagar GRC newsletter reporting on Mr Lee’s last community appearance for a tree planting event at Bukit Merah View in November 2014.
The time capsule will only be opened in 2065, when Singapore celebrates SG100.
PM Lee also put in the very speech he delivered at the time capsule ceremony. “I won’t be here to see SG100, I don’t think, although some of you will,” he said. “But I certainly hope that the tembusu tree will still be here. And it will be here if you nurture and protect it, make it grow big and strong, and have it still blossoming and providing shade for you and for your grandchildrens’ children when you celebrate SG100.
“It is the same for Singapore. If we build our nation over the next 50 years as one united people, then Singapore will go from success to success. And 50 years from now, Tanjong Pagar will be a special place, for Singaporeans to enjoy to make the most of and to be proud of.”
PM Lee also joined a thank you reception for the grassroots leaders who had helped the late Mr Lee in his constituency over the years as well as those who had helped at the Tanjong Pagar Community Tribute site.
The beads on this plaque were handmade by community leaders and residents of Tanjong Pagar.