SINGAPORE - Singapore should not rush into making decisions on how to honour the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in response to calls to honour the nation's Founding Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in Parliament on Monday that the suggested ideas to honour the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew were good, but added that the Government needs to consider the ideas carefully, and not rush into decisions so soon.
"We should allow some time to pass, consider the ideas carefully, and make calm, considered decisions which will stand the test of time. We want to honour Mr Lee, but must do so in the right way," he said.
Ideals, not monuments
Mr Lee Kuan Yew had made it very clear throughout his life that he did not need and did not want any monument, PM Lee said. "It was not monuments but ideals that were his chief concern, the ideals upon which he built Singapore: multi-racialism, equality, meritocracy, integrity, and the rule of law."
The late Mr Lee did not believe in personality cults and had consented to lending his name to institutions only with much consideration, PM Lee said. "When he consented, it was for causes that he was passionate about, and where using his name served a greater purpose. He was intent on showing support for the cause or institution, rather than using the honour to glorify himself."
To date, there have only been two busts of Mr Lee Kuan Yew displayed in public - one in the Parliament House and another at the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities in the Singapore University of Technology and Design.
In regards to Ms Foo Mee Har and Dr Lily Neo's suggestions that Singapore currency should bear the image of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, PM Lee said it was an idea that would not be implemented now.
However, it can be considered in the future, he said.
This year, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will be issuing a set of commemorative notes and coins to celebrate Singapore's heritage as part of the SG50 celebrations.
While one of the designs on the $50 note for this series features the late Mr Lee leading the crowd with the rallying cry of "Merdeka!", PM Lee clarified that the notes were designed last year, before Mr Lee's death.
The Prime Minister also responded to suggestions for Singapore to have a Founder's Day to commemorate Singapore's founding fathers.
He said that Mr Lee was aware the he did not act alone to produce Singapore's success, but worked as part of a team which included Mr Goh Keng Swee, Mr S Rajaratnam, Mr Othman Wok, Mr Hon Sui Sen, Mr Lim Kim San, and many others.
PM Lee said: "Mr Lee himself said he was only primus inter pares - first among equals. So it is appropriate that we consider how to honour not just Mr Lee, but also our other founding fathers".
There are plans to start a memorial for all the founding fathers, possibly accompanied with an exhibition gallery to showcase their legacy and to educate future generations, PM Lee said.
Esplanade chairman Mr Lee Tzu-Yang has been asked to chair a committee to conceptualise the memorial and gather views from the public.
"Mr Lee lived his life for Singapore, not for himself. Let us take time to consider the best way to honour his memory, in a way that is in keeping with his ideals," PM Lee concluded.
"The memorial should reflect and strengthen in all of us our sense of what it means to be a Singaporean, why Singapore is worth striving and fighting for, and how we can continue to build a harmonious and successful Singapore for future generations," he said.