Historically important monument but no historians on committee
The composition of the committee which will look into the establishment of a “Founders’ Memorial” in Singapore has come under question.
The 15-member panel, which will collect public feedback on the nature of the memorial the next 18 months, was announced on 30 June.
It will be headed by Lee Tzu Yang, who is also the chairman of The Esplanade.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said in Parliament in April that the late former leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, “was always conscious that he did not act alone, but as a member of a team.”
“His core team included Goh Keng Swee, S Rajaratnam, Othman Wok, Hon Sui Sen, Lim Kim San, amongst others.”
He added, “So, it is appropriate that we consider how to honour not just Mr Lee, but also our other founding fathers.”
The idea for a Founders’ Memorial was soon suggested and the committee appointed.
However, for such a historically important monument, questions are being asked about why there are no historians on the committee.
The 15-member panel consists of academics, businessmen, a community club chairman, a school principal, an ambassador and even a newspaper editor, among others.
“Given that the Founders’ Memorial will be dedicated to historical personalities who shaped Singapore’s history, I am intrigued that not a single professional historian is on the committee,” Ms Chan Cheng Lin wrote in a letter to the Straits Times forum page on Friday.
“There are many history professors from the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University, as well as a handful of independent history researchers and overseas-based Singaporean historians, who specialise in Singapore history,” he said.
“With their expertise, they will be able to provide valuable input to this important history-related project. Unfortunately, none of them is on the committee.”
The chairman of the committee, however, told the media on 30 June, “(The memorial is) not about coming up with a defined view of history, but about stimulating interest in how we became an independent nation, and the ideals and values … of our founding generation of leaders.”
Mr Lee Tzu Yang said that the memorial is meant to “unify Singaporeans”, not just in the present day, but also “for future generations to inspire them with stories of how the nation came to be”.