Euphoria, optimism as Singapore celebrates 200th anniversary

Singapore

Singapore

Singapore: From a distance, you spot this eye-catching artistic display at an open ground of the Macpherson housing estate. Close-up and you see red, green and blue heart symbols painted over the white panels cardboards and featuring such words as love, family, strength, peace, and vision. The Garden of Hearts showpiece is one of about 200 similar displays put up by the People’s Association and involving some 30,000 residents expressing their aspirations as Singapore celebrates its 200-year history this year.

Singapore traces its modern beginnings to 1819 when British adventurer, Sir Stamford Raffles landed on its shores and decided to turn it into a colonial settlement. His vision that Singapore, with its strategic location at the south tip of the Malay Peninsula, would win out against neighboring ports in Dutch-controlled Indonesia was prescient. What did the trick was Raffles’s foresight to keep Singapore as a free port of call. Thanks to its deep-water harbor, Singapore grew and flourished as an international trading hub and modern city.

The bicentennial celebrations will feature a multi-media presentation called From Singapore to Singaporean that recounts the key milestones in the city-state’s progress and transformation. In a tilt to the latest historical research findings, the retelling of the Singapore Story will hark back to the year 1299. According to Malay Annals, that year Sang Nila Utama, a fleeing prince from Palembang in Indonesia, went up a hill with his followers to survey the surrounding islands.

Fascinated by the shining white sands of a nearby beach, he and his followers ventured over and landed on the island of Temasek. They went hunting and caught a glimpse of a strong and fleet-footed beast said to be a lion. That vision inspired Sang Nla Utama to make Temasek his new base and renamed it Singapura (Lion City). Other events to mark the bicentennial commemoration include Light Marina Festival and Chingay Procession. For keepsakes, there is the commemorative $20 currency notes that feature Rafflies’ secretary Munshi Abdullah and seven pioneer Singaporeans. A set of 10 commemorative stamps was also issued. In launching the bicentennial celebrations in January, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong struck a futuristic. note: “…as we reflect on how this nation came into being, let us also think of how we can move forward together.”

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