SINGAPORE— The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) unveiled a special $10 coin on Monday (15 May) to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of Singapore’s esteemed founding Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew (LKY100).
“The coin pays tribute to his strategic vision, boldness and indomitable spirit that transformed Singapore from a regional trading port to a global manufacturing, business and financial hub, creating opportunities for all Singaporeans,” MAS said.
Mr. Weng Ziyan, a talented local artist, applied his artistic expertise to create the LKY100 coin.
This exquisite coin, minted in aluminum bronze, emanates a radiant golden hue. Distinguished by its larger diameter of 30mm, the LKY100 coin surpasses the size of the current Third Series circulation coins.
On the reverse side of the coin, an intricately designed portrait of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew takes center stage, accompanied by the prominent Marina Barrage, “representing Mr Lee’s vision to build a freshwater reservoir in the city, strengthening Singapore’s water resilience”.
The backdrop showcases the iconic skyline of the Raffles Place financial district, with the Fullerton Hotel (formerly the Fullerton Building/General Post Office) and the National Gallery Singapore (formerly the Supreme Court and City Hall) in the foreground, two historic landmarks that bear witness to Singapore’s remarkable journey.
The obverse side of the coin features the Singapore Coat of Arms, beneath which a dual latent image portrays Mr. Lee’s birth year, ‘1923,’ when viewed from one angle, and his momentous 100th birth anniversary, ‘2023,’ when observed from another.
Singaporean citizens and PRs can apply for the LKY100 coin online, available for collection from Sept 2023
MAS said Singaporean citizens (SCs) and permanent residents (PRs) can apply for the LKY100 coin online through the official application portal at https://go.gov.sg/lky100coin-order. The application period commences on 15 May and will conclude on 9 June 2023.
To complete the application, individuals are required to provide their identity number, mobile number, and preferred bank branch for coin collection. Following the submission, an SMS notification will be sent to acknowledge receipt of the application.
Each applicant can apply for up to five coins. If demand is high, applicants may not be allocated the quantity of coins requested, but can be assured of being allocated at least one coin.
No upfront payment is necessary during the application process. Instead, successful applicants will pay the face value of $10 for each coin upon collection at their designated bank branch.
For those requiring in-person assistance with the online application, community clubs/centers or ServiceSG Centers at Our Tampines Hub and One Punggol are available to provide support.
The collection of LKY100 coins will commence in September 2023.
Before the allocated collection period, successful applicants will receive an SMS notification in mid-August 2023, specifying the quantity of coins allocated, the designated collection period, and the assigned bank branch. The SMS notification will include information on the quantity of coins allocated, collection period and bank branch allocated.
“LKY100 coins that are not exchanged during the collection window will subsequently be made available for exchange at the banks by the general public, including non-Singaporeans, “said MAS.
For more information about the LKY100 coin, interested individuals can visit the official website at https://go.gov.sg/lky100coin.
Speculation surrounds ruling party’s strategy to garner support amidst Lee Kuan Yew’s 100th birthday commemorations
As announced by Minister of Manpower Dr Tan See Leng in February, the celebration of Lee Kuan Yew’s 100th birthday also involves plans for conferences, publications, and activities to engage younger Singaporeans and raise awareness of his contributions to the nation’s history.
These include a travelling exhibition by the National Heritage Board, which will showcase artefacts and stories from the nation-building years, as well as a more extensive exhibition at the National Museum on key historical milestones.
Business leaders have proposed a fund for private donations to support educational causes in honor of Mr Lee’s passion for education. The government is coordinating with various groups to support these efforts.
There has been speculation that the ruling party may use the events leading up to the 100th birthday of the late Lee Kuan Yew as an opportunity to garner support for PAP in a potential early election.
This strategy could potentially replicate the overwhelming support PAP received in the 2015 election following the passing of Lee Kuan Yew.
“Working for the well-being of Singapore and Singaporeans” would be a better way of honouring Mr LKY’s legacy: Dr Lee Wei Ling
Back in 2016, Dr Lee Wei Ling, daughter of the late Lee Kuan Yew, already warned that his father would have cringed at the hero worship just one year after his death.
She said in a Facebook post on 6 Apr 2016, worked hard “and determinedly in life to advance Singapore, and not for his place in history, or leaving a great legacy”.
Any form of “veneration”, then, “could have the opposite effect” and may “lead future generations of Singaporeans to think” that Mr LKY was “motivated by his desire for fame or creation of a dynasty”, cautioned Dr Lee.
While she found “tremendous comfort” at the time to see how her father’s efforts were appreciated by Singaporeans who came in droves to mourn his death, she questioned how the “time, effort and resources” spent on certain acts of commemoration following his death “would benefit Singapore and Singaporeans”.
Citing a report by The Straits Times a year after Mr LKY’s death which carried a photo of a large outline of Mr LKY’s face made using 4,877 erasers, Dr Lee said that while the effort was “well-meaning”, it was reminiscent of the “contrived” greetings by young children on the streets during the Singapore delegation’s visit to China in 1976.
“We are Singaporeans, not prone to excessive, unnatural displays of emotion … Papa merely waved at the children, as he would have done in Singapore. I refused to even do that. I stared straight ahead, feeling very sad for the people of the “Middle Kingdom” that was still run like a kingdom,” she said.
Dr Lee also compared the China government’s decision to build a Memorial Hall as a tribute to Chairman Mao — founder of the People’s Republic of China — just a month after his death with how the United Kingdom’s Parliament commemorated former Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s funeral 50 years after the actual funeral.
Sir Churchill served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 during which he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and later again served as premier from 1951 to 1955.
The 50th anniversary of Sir Churchill’s funeral, which took place in 2015, was marked by “a service and wreath-laying at the Houses of Parliament, a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, and the rebroadcast by BBC Parliament of the original live coverage”, noted Dr Lee.
“Compare what Churchill’s commemoration which was conducted 50 years after his death with the activities that have been taking place in Singapore that will continue for an entire week.
“I think Papa would have objected if he were able to convey his view,” said Dr Lee.
Given that the late Mr LKY was — in the words of Dr Lee — a statesman who worked hard to advance Singapore “with no thought to any gain for himself” alongside other pioneers of modern-day Singapore, one might question if erecting a structure such as the Founders’ Memorial is indeed the best way to “simultaneously honour the past and inspire the present and future” of the Republic.