There are many reasons why 2023 is a memorable one for Singaporeans. Firstly, we battled a pandemic and won, thus showing the mettle of human resilience in the darkest of times. Next, 2023 also marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. While naysayers deem it as overkill, it is undeniable that Mr Lee was a visionary leader whose audacity in carrying out reforms created the Singapore we know and love today.
To commemorate his birth anniversary, the nation kicked off a series of events to reflect, celebrate and bring Mr Lee’s vision of Singapore to greater heights. Here’s a look back at some of them.
10,000 trees across the heartlands
A clean and green Singapore is one of Mr Lee’s most enduring legacy. But what makes it even more remarkable is how the first tree-planting campaign came at a time of global turmoil and domestic strife in the 1960s. As we know, the vision paid off handsomely, and Singapore is now a world-renowned ‘Garden City.’ After all, Mr Lee was a true pioneer in environment protection long before green and sustainability became buzzwords decades later.
To continue this greening movement, a campaign to plant 10,000 trees across Singapore began in May. From the Red Mempat to the Golden Chain, our MPs have joined residents to plant trees around their neighbourhoods throughout the year. With no such thing as too many trees, the PAP is determined to make a positive difference in our fight against climate change and build a better living environment for all.
Insights into a great mind
Raffles might have ‘founded’ Singapore. But it was Mr Lee who built the modern one with his innovative policies and the grit to carry them out. To explore the impact of Mr Lee’s ideas, the PAP Policy Forum (PPF) organised a series of dialogues, looking into how they have contributed to Singapore’s nation-building journey.
Over three sessions, the PPF | Insights series delved into the value of tripartism and the necessity of difficult decisions in policymaking. It also looked into our unique approach to international relations that has helped Singapore shine on the world stage. By reflecting on the past, we can continue to draw lessons and inspiration to make Singapore a success for the next generation.
A book of insights and inspiration
In his lifetime, Mr Lee had given thousands of speeches. And if social media had been around, he would have turned viral with his quotes. To honour Mr Lee’s legacy and reacquaint younger Singaporeans with the contributions of our founding father, Young PAP (YP) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) youth wing have co-produced a book titled ‘Centennial Reflections – 100 Reflections by Mr Lee Kuan Yew’.
From character building to leadership, it is heartening to see that much of Mr Lee’s insights are still relevant as a source of motivation. But more importantly, it also gives us a deeper insight into his thinking and what drove him to do more for the country in its early years of nation-building, said YP Adviser Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim, who reviewed over 400 quotes during the production process.
Exercising for a good cause
At the grassroots level, our Mountbatten PAP Branch organised a Walk-A-Jog along a specially curated route that includes Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant and Marina Bay Barrage. But why so? Apart from being scenic, these engineering marvels also represent the fear Mr Lee had for Singapore – that of water security and how we managed to overcome it.
But besides celebrating Mr Lee’s vision, we also honoured his unwavering commitment to take care of the less privileged citizens in our society, shared Mountbatten MP Mr Lim Biow Chuan.
“After the walk-a-jog, we issued FairPrice vouchers to 100 low-income families. This gesture serves as a reminder of Mr Lee’s belief in progress as one people, where we care for one another and uplift each other to build a stronger community,” said MP Lim.
A ground-up initiative to support our youths
Finally, the establishment of the Lee Kuan Yew Centennial Fund is a testament to how much Mr Lee has touched the lives of Singaporeans. Inspired by his passion for investing in people, local business leaders have started a fund in Mr Lee’s name to finance education-related initiatives.
To show support, the PAP Government had pledged a one-off dollar-for-dollar matching (capped at S$50 million) to encourage donations to the fund. “The fund was established – not only to remember the contributions of Mr Lee and his fellow founding leaders but to support our youth to become future visionary leaders for Singapore,” said Minister of Education Chan Chun Sing.
Like a 7-11 store, nation-building never stops. At this critical juncture, it is up to the next generation of leaders to draw on the lessons of yesterday and push Singapore towards a brighter tomorrow. Besides, now that we have celebrated the centenary of Mr Lee’s birth, the next litmus test would be the bicentennial of the same event. Will there still be a Singapore to call home? Will the next few generations continue to build the nation with the same boldness, vigour and determination? Only time (and a responsible government) can tell.
Photo Source: NHB/Lawrence Wong/ Josephine Teo/ Lim Biow Chuan/ Chan Chun Sing via Facebook