PM Lee gives speech at launch of Singapore Bicentennial

Our history stretches back 700 years

Speaking at the launch at the Asian Civilisation Museum, Mr Lee however noted that our history goes back 700 years to the early 14th century when Singapore was already a thriving seaport called Temasek. Around this period, Sang Nila Utama founded a kingdom here and named it Singapura.

By the time Raffles arrived in 1819, Singapore already had hundreds of years of history. But the establishment of a free port was crucial as it attracted immigrants from Southeast Asia, China, India and beyond, paving the way for an open and multicultural society.

Mr Lee recognised it was the British that “set this island on a trajectory leading to where we are today” citing their rule of law, parliamentary system of government and the English language which we had adopted.

'Tracing and reflecting upon our longer history'

"We are not just remembering Stamford Raffles or William Farquhar, though we should. We are tracing and reflecting upon our longer history. We are acknowledging and appreciating the broader context which shaped and created today's Singapore.”

"This was our journey, from Singapore to Singaporean."

Mr Lee launched the Singapore Bicentennial with a light ceremony together with the youngest participant, 11-year-old Kayla Choy, from St. Anthony’s Canossian Primary School.

PM Lee with youngest light bearer Kayla Choy
Bridges of Time – i Light Singapore 2019

Events to help broaden our understanding

The year-long series of festivities got underway in conjunction with events such as i Light Singapore – Bicentennial Edition, Light to Night Festival 2019 (Bicentennial Edition), BALIKSG: Reflections on Singapore, and Raffles in Southeast Asia – Revisiting the Scholar and Statesman. These events, and others throughout 2019, seek to broaden our understanding of Singapore’s longer history.

Mr Lee said he is glad that over 200 community groups and organisations will be holding commemorative events throughout this bicentennial year.

i Light Singapore – Bicentennial Edition
The 2019 special edition entitled i Light Singapore: Bridges of Time will extend beyond the Marina Bay waterfront to the Civic District and Singapore River. It features interactive light art installations from around the world.

Light to Night Festival 2019: Traces and Echoes
This festival reflects on Singapore’s journey and examines key moments in our 700-year history through memories and stories found in the Civic District – the site where Singapore's history, architecture and cultural heritage began.

BALIKSG: Reflections on Singapore
Embark on an augmented reality experience journey along the Singapore River to revisit significant events in our history and meet the early settlers who called Singapore home.

Raffles in Southeast Asia – Revisiting the Scholar and Statesman
This exhibition, co-curated with the British Museum and in conjunction with the Singapore Bicentennial, presents a multilayered picture of Raffles where his legacy is more complex than often understood.

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