Yesterday, we reported that the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) has admitted that the Founders’ Memorial it is building will commemorate founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his values and ideals and that plans to commemorate Lee through a memorial are moving forward in spite of his well-known aversion to monuments.
Some netizens have since pointed out online that a Founder’s Memorial of sorts already exists for the late elder statesman, in the form of a Tembusu tree called the “Lee Kuan Yew Memorial Tree” that was planted in honour of Lee, a month after his passing.
The “Lee Kuan Yew Memorial Tree” sits at Duxton Plain Park. A memorial plaque located beside the tree is is surrounded by “tribute beads” that were made by grassroots leaders from Tanjong Pagar and Tiong Bahru using polymer clay, incorporating petals from the flowers that were given by Singaporeans during the National Mourning Period after Lee passed.
Interestingly, the Memorial Tree was planted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his late father’s colleagues at Tanjong Pagar GRC on 25 April 2015 – the same month that PM Lee publicly recorded his father’s aversion to monuments.
A mere 12 days before he planted the tree, on 13 April 2015, PM Lee said in Parliament: “Mr Lee made it very clear throughout his life that he did not need and did not want any monument… Mr Lee was very careful never to allow a personality cult to grow around him, much less to encourage one himself.”
That same month, Lee Kuan Yew’s second child and only daughter Lee Wei Ling wrote in an article on the national broadsheet: “…I was baffled by the news that our MPs were suggesting naming various structures or institutions after Papa.
“Papa had worked hard to prevent any personality cult from growing around him. It would most certainly go against what he would want and what he stood for in life, such as service to Singapore and Singaporeans, because that was the right thing to do, without any ulterior motive, least of all self-promotion.”
She added: “The best response to Papa’s passing is to honour the spirit of what he stood for, which is the welfare of Singaporeans. There is much that we can all work towards for this purpose.
“Similarly, to fuss over Papa’s personal objects or portrait defeats the purpose that he had strived for so diligently in life, which was the welfare of Singaporeans.”
Two years later, Lee Wei Ling and her younger brother Lee Hsien Yang alleged that Lee Hsien Loong was trying to preserve their father’s house at 38 Oxley Road against their father’s last wishes to demolish the house after his death.
The younger siblings alleged that their elder brother was trying to solidify his grip on power by preserving the house, that he had plans to groom his son for politics and that he used state organs to silence them.