'A united, successful nation in 2065'

'A united, successful nation in 2065'

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will not be around when the time capsule he prepared for burying yesterday is unearthed 50 years from now.

But he hoped that the Singapore it will see the light in is one that has gone from success to success, nurtured and built by a united people.

In a speech that was included in the time capsule, PM Lee also expressed the wish that a tembusu tree he planted yesterday, in honour of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, will be standing "big and strong" when that day in 2065 comes.

The time capsule, which contains items capturing the outpouring of emotions from Singaporeans at Mr Lee's death, will be buried in Tanjong Pagar, where Mr Lee was MP for 60 years.

Mr Lee died on March 23 at age 91.

The tembusu, a sturdy and evergreen hardwood, was a favourite of Mr Lee's, said PM Lee in Tanjong Pagar yesterday.

Addressing 300 grassroots volunteers, he said: "The tembusu tree will be here if you nurture it, protect it, make it grow big and strong, and have it still blossoming and providing shade for you and your grandchildren's grandchildren 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."

In his long political career, Mr Lee never missed his yearly tree-planting date with his Tanjong Pagar ward, noted PM Lee.

"This effort symbolised his vision of a Clean and Green Singapore, and his conviction that it is our duty to plant trees to lay the foundations for the next generation," said PM Lee.

The 30kg stainless steel time capsule, meanwhile, is "an effort to help the next generation understand what the late Mr Lee meant to this generation", said Tanjong Pagar MP Indranee Rajah, who is also Senior Minister of State for Law and Education.

It includes tribute notes, newspaper reports, a copy of Mr Lee's book Hard Truths, and a Group Representation Constituency newsletter with a report of his final community appearance - a tree-planting event at Bukit Merah View in November last year.

PM Lee said yesterday that no one can predict what the next 50 years hold, just as the transformation of Tanjong Pagar over the past 50 years has defied imagination.

When Mr Lee first stood for election in 1955, it was a poor neighbourhood of coolies which he chose to represent over the merchants and landlords of Tanglin.

Today, hosting landmarks such as the Pinnacle@Duxton, Tanjong Pagar offers standards of living that are the highest in the world. The Tanjong Pagar story is the Singapore story, said PM Lee.

"None of us can imagine what Tanjong Pagar will be like 50 years from now, when the time capsule is opened," he said.

"Certainly, the world will have changed, certainly Singapore will have changed. It may change for the better, it may change for the worse, but it will certainly not be the same as today."

PM Lee urged young Singaporeans in the audience to return for the date of the time capsule's opening - and make the 50 years that will pass in the meantime worthy of celebration.

Insurance agent Tan Ying Jie, 32, said yesterday that she hoped to make the date.

"I envision Singapore to be better than where we are today, and to have the same kind of stability and racial harmony that we have."

At yesterday's ceremony, the Tanjong Pagar grassroots organisation also unveiled a memorial plaque decorated with handmade beads and incorporating petals from the flowers Singaporeans left over the week-long mourning period last month.

In addition, they debuted a fragrant garden which features Mr Lee's favourite scented plants, including gardenia. And in the nearby Orchid Garden, the hybrid orchids named after Mr Lee and his wife, the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo, will be placed.

waltsim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 26, 2015.
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