Every overseas visitor who has come to visit us during the last 5 years has commented on the greenness of Singapore. Despite 50 years of urbanization and commercial growth, the city retains a very green feel and this is in no small part the legacy of Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, whose funeral is today.
In 1963 Lee Kuan Yew planted a tree in Holland Road Circus to launch the Garden City movement. The movement aimed to create a ‘city in a garden’ and to a large extent this has been realised.
Lee Kuan Yew said, “Cities cannot just be made up of concrete buildings, tarmac and pavements. It would be depressing and unpleasant to live in. You need to balance that with trees and flowers. This will make Singapore more pleasant to live in.
“Singapore has become much greener, despite increased urbanization. Almost half of Singapore is covered in greenery. We have set aside land for world-class gardens, parks and nature reserves. Many visitors are amazed at our tree-lined roads, and this has become an economic value to us. More importantly, Singaporeans today live in beautifully-landscaped housing estates, and are able to exercise and enjoy fresh air in the urban oases right at their doorsteps. None of this would have been possible without decades of conscientious planning and commitment.”
Planning and Commitment epitomise the approach that has lead to the remarkable rise of Singapore. But to also retain a commitment to building a green city, alongside developing a global economic hub, showed true vision and a faithfulness to Lee Kuan Yew’s promise to build a city for the people of Singapore.
The green nature of the island makes it a pleasant place to live and was greatly enhanced in 2011 when the wonderful Gardens by the Bay was opened. Gardens by the Bay feels like the ultimate representation of the modern, green city Lee Kuan Yew aimed to build. It is a stunning contemporary Yin to the Yang of the beautiful1859 Botanic Gardens. Yesterday, Gardens by the Bay planted a tree in memory of Lee Kuan Yew and to me it feels like this amazing complex is a fitting legacy to a true visionary.