2 sites proposed for Founders' Memorial

2 sites proposed for Founders' Memorial
PHOTO: The Straits Times

The committee in charge of conceptualising a memorial to honour Singapore's founders has made its recommendations on two possible sites for its location: 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 complex."

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 both walking distance to museums and monuments in the historic Civic District and is also the start point of the 8km-long Jubilee Walk heritage trail.

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

He noted that Fort Canning Park is quite congested and already built up.

With the current end-point of the Jubilee Walk being just "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.

Fort Canning has greater historic significance but Bay East Garden is 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 the 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 from nearly 2,000 people it engaged with since October last year through public dialogues, online responses and a door-to-door survey.

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

A majority also felt that the memorial should inspire future generations, and should recognise founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his team - which includes Goh Keng Swee, S. Rajaratnam, Othman Wok, Hon Sui Sen and Lim Kim San.


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