Heng Swee Keat: Bicentennial Experience reminds us of values that underpin S'pore story

The three fundamental values that underpin the S'pore story are openness, multiculturalism, & self determination.

Jane Zhang| January 15, 07:58 PM

The Singapore Bicentennial, marking the 200 years since Sir Stamford Raffles arrived to Singapore, drew to a close on Wednesday, Jan. 15 with a speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat at Gardens by the Bay.

Heng spoke about the Gardens as a symbol of Singapore's progress and trajectory, and introduced the launch of the immersive #futuretogether art exhibition as an encouragement for Singaporeans to work together for a better future.

Heng added that the exhibition, created by the Gardens by the Bay in collaboration with renowned Japanese digital art studio teamLab and supported by global investment firm GIC, is inspired by the "spirit of our Singapore Together movement".

Bicentennial celebration showed Singapore's values

Heng put forth three fundamental values that have underpinned Singapore's history, as highlighted by the Bicentennial-themed events: openness, multiculturalism, and self-determination.

On openness to exploration.

"Our forefathers came from different lands, staking their hopes and dreams on this island’s openness to the world, and the opportunities it created."

Multiculturalism was forged by common goals:

"Despite differences of race, language or religion, our forefathers worked together to build thriving communities here, united by a common aspiration to create a better future for subsequent generations."

And determining their own futures:

"Our people knew that we had to take our fates and our children’s futures in our own hands. So we fought for the right to chase our dreams on our own terms, and chart our own destiny."

Heng highlighted that the Singapore Bicentennial Experience at Fort Canning, which took over three years of research to put together, saw more than 760,000 visitors pass through in seven months, more than double the expected number.

For overall Bicentennial events, he said that there were more than nine million participants.

Singapore Together

Heng then highlighted the Singapore Together movement, which he launched in June 2019 to encourage a closer partnership between the government and the citizens it serves.

Here's a video about what Singapore Together is about, if you need a quick refresher:

He encouraged people to "step forward", "share their passions", and "take ownership of our shared future":

"We will create more opportunities for us to work together -- with each other, with the community, with the Government, and with people around the world -- to broaden our democracy of deeds and build the Singapore of tomorrow."

He shared that Singapore has built "something truly special":

"Even as many societies around us have turned inward, divided by their differences, and anxious about their future, we in Singapore have resolved to stay open, reaffirmed our unity as one people, and renewed our determination to progress together."

Looking toward the future

Heng closed by proclaiming his confidence in Singapore's future and called for Singaporeans to reflect on Singapore's journey as a nation thus far and to work toward building a shared future:

"So let us work together to build on the best of who we are today, to create the Singapore of tomorrow;

Confident of our place in the world, enriched by our diverse heritage, working in partnership with one another and with people around the wold, always determined to be a place where every generation can chase their dreams.

And leave a better Singapore for our children."


The exhibit consists of three outdoor exhibits -- Dragonfly Lake, Giant Lattice Mass, and Message Pillar -- and four indoor exhibits -- Animals of Flowers, Flowers Bloom in an Infinite Universe inside a Teacup, Reversible Rotation, and Continuous Life and Death at the Now of Eternity II.

Location: Bayfront Plaza

Opening times: Jan. 16, 2020 - Mar. 15, 2020

Outdoor exhibits will be open between 7pm and 12am.

Indoor exhibits are open between 9am and 9pm, with last entry being 8:30pm.

Cost: The outdoor exhibits are accessible free of cost for all. Tickets to three of the indoor exhibits are also free for Singapore residents, but must be reserved online ahead of time.

The indoor exhibit Flowers Bloom in an Infinite Universe inside a Teacup has a S$3 entrance fee for Singapore residents.

Ticket reservations can be made on the Gardens by the Bay website here.

Proceeds from ticket sales will go to Gardens by the Bay's Gift of Gardens Programme, which offers complimentary access to the Gardens by the Bay conservatories to Singapore residents who may not normally be able to visit.

Top photo by Lauren Choo.