The 1 Jan 2016 11 pm Chinese news reported some organisations adopting the new SG51 insignia for 2016.
When we celebrate SG50 or SG51, we are celebrating the 50 or 51 years since 1965. That means we are not celebrating the years before 1965.
We would not be celebrating 1960, the year Tan Howe Liang won us our first Olympic silver medal. We would not be celebrating our war heroes Lim Bo Seng and Lt Adnan who died during World War II some 20 years before 1965. We would not be celebrating the good deeds of Tan Kim Seng, Tan Tock Seng, Tan Kah Kee and many others who died before 1965 and so added nothing to SG50 or SG51.
There are many legacies that are integral to Singapore today that happened before the last 50 or 51 years. We cannot be so ungrateful as to disown these legacies by restricting our celebrations to 50 or 51 years only.
We cannot contradict ourselves by celebrating our first and only UNESCO world heritage site – our Botanical Gardens as part of SG50 celebrations while ignoring the fact that our Botanical Gardens is 156 years old already.
PM Lee recently celebrated the gazetting of the Fullerton Hotel as our national monument. But the Fullerton Hotel building is 88 years old. Our first high rise flats were built before 1965. Our first reclamations were done during colonial times. Serangoon Road and Bukit Timah Road were carved out from primordial jungles by pioneers who came to work as coolies. Their work was even tougher than those of SG50 pioneers.
When we celebrate SG50 or SG51, we are only celebrating 50 or 51 years of independence. Everything else has evolved since the day Singapore was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819.
2016 is not SG51 but SG197 and in three years time, we should be celebrating SG200.
Ng Kok Lim