Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Jubilee Celebrations at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 7 August 2015.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Very happy to see all of you back here after the rain went away, to have this concert and to celebrate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee.
It is a double joy and a double celebration, because we are not only celebrating SG50, we are also celebrating Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) getting onto the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. It is only the third botanic gardens in the world to get onto the list. The first was Kew Gardens in London, which we have close links with here. The second one was Padua Gardens in Italy. We, Singapore Botanic Gardens, are the third. Congratulations, SBG! I would like to thank all those people who worked so hard to get us onto the list – National Heritage Board, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Parks Board and all the volunteers and Singaporeans who made this possible.
I think it is a well deserved award for the SBG because it has a long and rich history. It was set up more than 150 years ago, in 1859, by an Agri-Horticultural Society. At that time it was much smaller, with just 23 hectares of land. After we became independent, we realised what a treasure this was, and we nurtured it, cultivated it, expanded it, and further developed the Gardens. We have added a new part of the Gardens near Bukit Timah Road, so now it is almost three times that size, 74 hectares. And we will be adding another 8 hectares to the Gardens on the western side, at the Gallop Road area. Overall, the Gardens, by the time we are done, will be 4 times its original size.
These Gardens are not just for leisure and recreation but also for scientific work, such as breeding orchid hybrids. We are going to dedicate an orchid today for SG50, which will be called the “Papilionanthe Singapore Golden Jubilee”. It is part of the same lineage as our national flower – “Vanda Miss Joaquim”, and today we are going to name it and it will remind us of this anniversary for many years to come.
The Botanic Gardens is also a place where many of us make precious memories. As a little boy, my parents brought the family here for outings. When I was courting my wife, I brought her here, including to this valley. Later, I would jog here regularly. Now I do not jog anymore, but when I have a free evening, or after dinner, my wife and I come here for quiet walks. It is calm, peaceful and beautiful.
I am very happy to see many other visitors also doing the same, enjoying all kinds of activities and events, such as today’s concert performance. Today’s concert performance is called the “Aneka Ragam Ra’ayat”, which means multicultural fusion performance. The first one was held in 1959, when the new PAP government came in and we had a concert in the Botanic Gardens, and we had a “Aneka Ragam Ra’ayat” here. Not in this valley because this valley had not been done yet, but in the main part of the Botanic Gardens where they put up a stage and put a performance up. As a little boy, I came for that “Aneka Ragam Ra’ayat”. Now, as a not-such-a-little boy, I am very happy to be here again for the next one, more than 50 years later, in the Botanical Gardens. I think we will all enjoy it.
We are going to celebrate our 50th birthday on Sunday. Here we are in the SBG, surrounded by many plants and trees, many of them much more than 50 years old. I think we have much to be thankful for. As the Chinese saying goes, “前人种树, 后人乘凉”. One generation plants the trees and the later generations enjoy the shade. Let us, in this generation, continue to enlarge and improve the Gardens, so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy them. Let us in the same way nurture and build Singapore for future generations, so that we will have a bright future here for many years to come.
Thank you very much. I wish you a pleasant evening and a very happy SG50! Enjoy!
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