“Mr Lee devoted his entire life to make Singapore what it is today. Without him, we would not have a Garden City and we certainly would not have a City in a Garden,” said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong this Sunday morning (May 7) of our nation’s founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
Together with Jalan Besar’s residents, DPM Wong planted a young mempat tree at St George’s Lane – this is the same tree that Mr Lee first planted to kick start our nation’s greening efforts.
DPM Wong’s contribution marks the start of a nationwide Tree Planting Days initiative as part of LKY100 — nationwide community dialogues and public programmes commemorating the 100th birth anniversary of Mr Lee.
Singaporeans from all walks of life will plant some 10, 000 trees across Singapore in these coming months.
The responsibility to make lives better
This is a fitting centennial tribute to the man who was so dedicated to make Singapore into a First World Garden City that he was affectionately known as Singapore’s Chief Gardener.
It is also especially pertinent for these sustainability-conscious times.
“The PAP has always been a champion for sustainability issues,” said MP Wan Rizal (Jalan Besar GRC), noting that the PAP is active in Parliament, and with policies, to improve the living environment for every Singaporean.
MP Rizal was also at the St George’s Lane Tree Planting Day with his Jalan Besar constituency teammates MP Josephine Teo, MP Heng Chee How and MP Denise Phua as well as MP Tan Kiat How (East Coast GRC) and MP Hany Soh (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC)
“Our island remains a lush oasis, a haven where citizens have access to beautiful parks and gardens and recreational spaces. Now these treasures are our inheritance,” continued MP Rizal, who leads the PAP’s Action for Green Towns urban sustainability taskforce for 15 town councils.
“It is our duty to protect them for future generations.”
“Mr Lee Kuan Yew really was the Gardener of Singapore and he wanted a better Singapore for everybody. Not only in terms of economic growth but also in terms of living environment and sustainability,” said MP Heng Chee How to Petir.sg.
“We really want to register and remember these important values as we plant these trees. Involving all generations,” added MP Heng.
The little ones alongside DPM Wong and all the MPs were quick with their own spades and watering cans, Petir.sg observed. It is heartening to think that in some future year they can take shelter under full-grown trees and have happy memories of this morning — and be in good form to continue the cycle which Mr Lee seeded.
Guts for a difficult future
It was also Tree Planting Day at Jurong Spring Neighbourhood Park on Sunday, with MP Shawn Huang (Jurong GRC) and over a hundred Jurong Spring residents planting about 21 trees and a hundred-plus shrubs.
“The pink mempat tree represents the trailblazing spirit of our founding generation,” said MP Huang (who is also a Sustainability Champion with MP Rizal’s Action for Green Towns) of the tree he planted this day.
“Its flower is a reminder that we plant trees, nurture saplings and deepen roots, not for ourselves but for our future generations.”
And, while LKY100 does honour the past, it is also about preparing for the future.
“We also face many new challenges, as all of you know. Especially in the external environment,” said DPM Wong while St George’s Lane residents looked on.
“We have a hot war that’s taking place now in Europe, we have geopolitical tensions spilling over into our part of the world in Asia. We have rising protectionism that is impacting the global trading environment. All of this will make life harder for us in Singapore,” said DPM Wong.
But Mr Lee and our founding leaders did not crumble and fold when faced with difficult times, noted DPM Wong.
“They defied the odds, they gritted their teeth and they created and built today’s Singapore which we enjoy,” said the DPM.
“If we continue to draw strength from what they have been through, and motivate ourselves with the same founding values and ideals that built today’s Singapore, we can all overcome whatever challenges come our way and continue to build a better Singapore together.”