About the Singapore Bicentennial
Commemorating 700 years of history
The Singapore Bicentennial in 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of Sir Stamford Raffles’ arrival in Singapore – a key milestone in our rich and storied history. But our story did not start in 1819. It actually began in 1299.
For over 700 years, we have been open to a diverse flow of people and ideas, and connected to wider geopolitical currents, all of which shaped our evolution. Our history is a rich and expansive one – the journey of an island that has never been constrained by its shores, but has always been made from more.
Each of us is in some way connected to and intertwined with others in this history. 2019 could be the time for us to explore how our past has formed us, discover what this means for our future, and find our way for the future to come.
The Singapore Bicentennial Logo
The Singapore Bicentennial Logo comprises seven poly-shapes, each representing one century for a total of 700 years of Singapore’s longer history. The poly-shapes are progressively refined into a circle, symbolising our transformation throughout time; adapting and evolving to become present-day Singapore. The logo expresses both change and continuity, conveying the sense that this is an ever-evolving journey that is always for the better.
Get in touch with us for enquiries on the use of our logo for community event purposes.
Rediscovering Our History Together
This shared reflection of Singapore’s rich history would not have been possible without a nationwide collaboration with partner agencies, educational institutions, and various community groups. Not only do they provide research and resources, they also help to plan for programmes and events so as to generate interest in our heritage.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Singapore Bicentennial is a prequel to SG50, and is an opportunity for us to look deeply at our history within the context of a wider time and space.
In terms of time, our history is a 700-year journey going back 500 years before 1819, and forward 200 years to 2019. 1819 was a turning point in that journey that set us on a new trajectory.
In terms of space, we look at our place in the world throughout this journey. We examine how we have responded to, and been part of, regional and global influences and events.
The Singapore Bicentennial will examine Singapore’s rich 700-year history. This includes not only the British who arrived on our shores in 1819, but also others who, through their enterprise and determination, built Singapore from a settlement of 1,000 in 1819 into a thriving harbour and home today. But, Singapore’s history goes further back, even before the arrival of the British, to 1299. This is a rich history from which we can learn many lessons as well. This is why the commemoration will also delve into the 500-year period before 1819.
Throughout this time, Singapore saw different groups and communities join the journey at different times. This is why the Bicentennial will place much emphasis on community outreach and engagement. The Bicentennial list of partners includes associations, clans, religious and cultural organisations et al. Our goal is to present a rich tapestry of our history, as told by Singaporeans, for Singaporeans.
We live in a rapidly changing and troubled world. Just as our past was, Singapore’s future is unchartered. It is amidst these uncertainties that we commemorate the Singapore Bicentennial.
The commemoration is an opportunity for us to reflect on the traits – openness, multiculturalism and self-determination – that have evolved with us throughout history and are now embedded in the Singaporean DNA. They could be the key to facing our challenges today, and charting our future tomorrow.
The Singapore Bicentennial complements SG50. In a way, it is a prequel to SG50, and an opportunity for us to look at our history within a wider context of time and space.
1819 is a turning point, which set us on a new trajectory and paved the way for present-day Singapore. We should take the opportunity of the Bicentennial to look back and learn from our past.
The commemoration explores Singapore’s unique DNA, by reflecting on the traits of openness, multiculturalism and self-determination. They could be the key to facing our challenges today, and charting our future tomorrow.
They differ in time periods being commemorated. The Singapore Bicentennial commemorates a different time in Singapore’s history and is a prequel to SG50.
- SG50 was a celebration of Singapore 50 years’ post-independence.
- The Singapore Bicentennial will not only commemorate 200 years from 1819, which was the turning point in our journey that set us on a new trajectory, but will also look at the 500 years leading up to 1819 to appreciate the context of our evolution.
They differ in focus.
- SG50 focused on Singapore as an independent republic.
- The Bicentennial will look at Singapore’s connections with the region and the world over time and how that contributed to our unique DNA.
They differ in scale.
- The Singapore Bicentennial will be on a much smaller scale than SG50. Aside from a main exhibition, it will leverage existing events that are already ongoing every year on our calendar.
They differ in tone.
- SG50 is a celebration of our independence while the Singapore Bicentennial will be more reflective in nature. The latter looks at the qualities that have evolved over time and become part of our nation’s DNA.
There will be other events that Singaporeans can look forward to.
- The Asian Civilisations Museum will be presenting ‘Raffles in Southeast Asia: Revisiting the Scholar and Statesman’, in collaboration with the British Museum.
- The National Museum of Singapore will be presenting ‘An Old New World: From the East Indies to the Founding of Singapore, 1600s – 1819’. This will look at 200 years before 1819, and the European’s interest in trade, colonialism and exploration.
- The Singapore Heritage Festival will organise a series of activities, including roving exhibitions that will be presented at the heartlands.
- The Singapore Bicentennial will also be tapping on existing programme platforms such as iLight Marina (rebranded as iLight Singapore – Bicentennial Edition), the Civic District Outdoor Festival and the Night Festival to feature themes from the Bicentennial.
1819 was one of the key turning points in our journey that set Singapore on a new trajectory.
It was the year that Sir Stamford Raffles, along with William Farquhar, arrived in Singapore.
1819 was also the year many came to our shores and flourished together, including our pioneers from the Malay Archipelago, Indonesia, China, India, the Middle East and Europe.
Even though 1819 was a turning point in Singapore’s trajectory, our story is only complete if we look at the 500 years that led to that point.
For Singapore’s rich history goes even further back, to the 1300s.
If Singapore is to face the challenges of today and continue to prevail in future, we must look to our past for lessons.
A large part of the Singapore Bicentennial is its community and volunteer engagement efforts.There are many ways Singaporeans can get involved in the Singapore Bicentennial:
- Aside from visiting the main exhibition when it has been set up, Singaporeans can visit existing events throughout the year, for example, the iLight Marina Bay festival, or Chingay which will feature themes from the Bicentennial.
- There will also be a bevy of ground-up initiatives that will be supported by the Singapore Bicentennial. For example, organisations with a rich heritage will provide their stories and showcase these on various platforms. Singaporeans will be able to contribute to these initiatives.
- Singaporeans can also volunteer to help with the different programmes and events of the Bicentennial and reach out to other Singaporeans. They can play the role of guides, storytellers and documenters of history.
Rather than create a new fund, the Singapore Bicentennial will be leveraging on existing funding structures. Please contact us for further details.
There is an Advisory Panel to guide the development of the Bicentennial.
Members of this panel, mainly from the private and people sector, consist of:
- Prof Tan Tai Yong, President of Yale-NUS College
- Mr Lim Chen Sian, Archaeologist
- Assistant Prof Imran bin Tajudeen, Department of Architecture at NUS
- Mr Yatiman bin Yusof, Non-Resident Ambassador to Kenya
- Mr Toh Lam Huat, Singapore Press Holdings
- Mr Arun Mahizhnan, Special Research Adviser at Institute of Policy Studies, NUS; and Adjunct Professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communications and Information at NTU
- Mr Kelvin Tong, Film Director
- Mr Chua Thian Poh, Chairman and CEO, Ho Bee Land; Honorary President, SFCCA
- Mr Benett Theseira, Immediate Past President, The Eurasian Association of Singapore
- Ms Moliah binte Hashim, Former Chief Executive Officer, Yayasan MENDAKI; and Principal, Princess Elizabeth Primary School
- Ms Kristin Geetha, Senior Analyst, Ministry of Home Affairs; and Secretary, SINDA Youth Club
- Ms Delia Foo Wen Xian, Subject Head, History and Head of Department for Humanities (Acting), St Margaret’s Secondary School
- Mr John Joel Seow, Programme Manager, Waterways Watch Society; and Youth Corps Leader
- Ms Sujatha Selvakumar, Associate Director, Eden Law Corporation
- Mr Lim Kim Hoe, Chairman, Woodgrove Citizens Consultative Committee; and Managing Director, Disk Precision Group
Minister Josephine Teo and Minister Desmond Lee will lead the planning of the Bicentennial.