Two historical memorials will be unveiled - a marker on the fight against communism and the Konfrontasi memorial, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 4).
Addressing a query from Nominated Member of Parliament Tan Tai Yong on behalf of the Prime Minister, Mr Wong said it is important to have tangible landmarks to help younger and future generations of Singaporeans understand how the country got to where it is today.
A marker to honour those who fought against the communists, to be placed in the Esplanade Park along Queen Elizabeth Walk, will be unveiled on Dec 8.
This central and prominent location in the Civic District puts the memorial close to other historical memorials like the Cenotaph, the Lim Bo Seng Memorial and the Tan Kim Seng Fountain, which have been collectively gazetted as a national monument.
"By putting these markers and memorials together, we create a larger sense of Singapore's history and the context of our early years," Mr Wong said.
A memorial will be also placed on the Dhoby Ghaut Lawn opposite MacDonald House, in memory of the events of Mar 10, 1965 - which Mr Wong said was remembered by many as “the darkest day of Konfrontasi”, when a bomb planted by two Indonesian saboteurs killed three innocent civilians and injured 33 others.
Both markers have strong support from the community and Government, Mr Wong said. He noted: “As Singapore prepares to celebrate 50 years of Independence next year, it is important to reflect on our collective past, and the struggles that we underwent to build today’s safe, secure and prosperous Singapore.
"The Government and the people must continue to work together to instil in all of us, especially the younger generation, an awareness of the history that underpins our shared identity as a nation,” he added.
VIOLENCE AND UNREST
Singapore's struggle against communism lasted some four decades. It began in 1948, when a State of Emergency was declared as a result of a communist insurgency that aimed to establish a communist regime in Malaya and Singapore.
In all, about 8,000 civilians and security personnel were killed or wounded in the insurgency in Singapore and Malaya. Of these, about 40 civilians and security personnel were killed in Singapore. Many who survived were left with serious injuries.
Singapore experienced another tumultuous period during the Konfrontasi campaign waged by Indonesia's President Sukarno. The campaign was marked by the use of armed forces to oppose the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. Singapore’s only two regular army units were deployed in Malaysia, while the Singapore Volunteer Corps and the Vigilante Corps held the fort closer to home.
Between 1963 and 1966, there were more than 40 bombing attempts and almost as many explosions. The most significant was when a bomb planted by two Indonesian marines exploded at the MacDonald House in March 1965.
"Both conflicts - the struggle against communism and Konfrontasi - not only claimed lives, but fundamentally threatened Singapore's sovereignty and security,” said Mr Wong. “Had the communist side won, we would be living in a totally different Singapore today. Likewise if Sukarno's campaign to "crush Malaysia" had succeeded."
Mr Wong said the commemorative markers are a response to extensive public feedback, and the Government is keen to support other ground-up efforts. For example, the Education Ministry is working with schools to allow extensive, student-led initiatives next year, in a bid to see history from their eyes. The National Heritage Board will also continue to support members of the public who are keen to mark historic sites within their own communities.