Civilian War Memorial gazetted as Singapore's 65th National Monument

SINGAPORE - The National Heritage Board (NHB) has gazetted the Civilian War Memorial as a National Monument on Aug 15, 68 years after the Second World War ended in the Asia-Pacific region in 1945.

Built to commemorate the civilian victims of the Japanese Occupation, the Civilian War Memorial was unveiled on Feb 15, 1967 by then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

The Civilian War Memorial, which is Singapore's 65th National Monument to be gazetted, is also the only memorial here which holds great national importance and historical, social and architectural significance.

Large numbers of bodies and remains were uncovered in multiple locations in Singapore in 1962. The then Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce (now the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry), undertook the task of resettling and reburying the deceased.

The organisation then lobbied for the construction of a memorial and then Prime Minister Lee designated a plot of land for its location.

Donations for the memorial came from more than 600 organisations in the local community, including representatives from the Malay community, the Indian Association, the Ceylonese Association and the Eurasian Association.

The memorial located opposite City Hall MRT station is constructed of reinforced concrete, and comprises of four tapering columns, each representing the main ethnic groups of Singapore. It was designed by local architecture firm Swan and Maclaren.

Inscribed at the platform base are the words "Memorial to the Civilian Victims of the Japanese Occupation 1942 - 1945" in the nation's four official languages of English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.

Ms Jean Wee, Director of the Preservation of Sites and Monuments division at the NHB, said the Japanese Occupation was a significant historical event which had 'an indelible impact on Singapore and its people'. The memorial, she added, commemorates how Singapore united together in the crisis.