Good morning, Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers and distinguished guests. A year has passed since the nation mourned the loss of our founding father, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.
It is fitting that today we gather here again to commemorate the anniversary of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. In different languages, beliefs, and cultures, we will, as a united nation, once more pay tribute to our founding father.
Today, I would like to remember Mr. Lee Kuan Yew especially for building a world class home for Singaporeans and his love for nature and the environment.
I am a beneficiary of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy. In my early years, my recollection of Mr.Lee Kuan Yew came from the skimpy history textbooks of post-colonial era.
As I mature, I become more appreciative of my country of birth. Today, I live in a vibrant garden city, bustling with life, and interspersed with lush greenery. Magnificent infrastructure and super highways blend in to make for easy travel and comfortable living. High-rise buildings, overcoming the land scarcity, provide affordable housing. All these, together with a world renowned education system, have given Singapore its present affluence and made it a nation to be reckoned with. Undeniably, all these physical, economic and social changes would not have been possible without the foundation that was laid by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and with his principle of forward planning, Singapore is well positioned to face future challenges.
Leaping from a third-world to a first-world nation in single generation is no mean feat. Singapore is a miraculous story of a swamp turned in to a vibrant metropolis. This is no idle boast and is the most visible testimony to the vision, leadership, determination of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and his team of Ministers.
I would also remember Mr. Lee Kuan Yew as a strong supporter and advocate for Singapore greening efforts, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew set up the Garden City Action Committee in the 1970s and initiated the annual Tree Planting Day to ensure that the greening policies are coordinated and incorporated into Singapore’s development plans.
In my short internship at the Nparks, I have the opportunity to learn many amazing aspects of greenery planning and development in Singapore. For example, I learned that there is always a split between road viaducts to enable sunlight to reach the plants below. There is also a list of trees that can be planted along the roads with verges of varying width. Other than integrating greenery into the urban landscapes, Singapore has four nature reserves that serve as havens to many of our local species, which include more than 20,000 species of terrestrial organisms, and over 10,000 marine organisms. In researching the biodiversity of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve as an intern, I discovered that there was an amazing myriad species of flora and fauna within. I cannot stop to wonder how Singapore can have such a well preserved primary forest in the midst of all its urban developments.
All these aspects of preserving nature as well as the environment would not have been possible without the continual effort and support of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, an ardent naturalist and environmentalist, who observed “I have always believed that a blighted urban landscape, a concrete jungle destroys the human spirit. We need the greenery of nature to lift our spirits”.
And for this belief, I would like to remember Mr. Lee Kuan Yew for his vision and undying effort in harnessing the processes of nature and environment, while balancing the two to foster a sustainable future for the generations to come. Thank you.