Singapore Bicentennial by Singapore Bicentennial Office

Date: Jan 2019
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Four new statues of Sang Nila Utama, Tan Tock Seng, Munshi Abdullah and Naraina Pillai have joined the Sir Stamford Raffles statue at the Raffles Landing Site along the Singapore River. Commissioned by the Singapore Bicentennial Office (SBO), the sculptures represent a wider cast of characters that arrived on Singapore’s shores in 1819, and before.

While the Singapore Bicentennial marks the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 as a pivotal point in our history, it also recognises the diverse communities and people who have shaped Singapore over the years. Starting with the four new statues unveiled on 4 January 2019, SBO invites Singaporeans on a year-long discovery of our nation's cast of contributors and milestones from as far back as 1299.

Singaporeans will be familiar with Sang Nila Utama, the Palembang prince who first saw a vision of a lion and established the Singapura Kingdom in 1299. He provides a link to our longer history before 1819, which we hope to explore throughout the bicentennial year as well.

The others are:

  • Munshi Abdullah – The gifted linguist first set foot in Singapore in 1819 as secretary and interpreter to Sir Stamford Raffles. He also worked as a teacher and writer, and is known for his early literary contributions to the Malay community.
  • Naraina Pillai – Naraina Pillai set foot in Singapore in 1819, where he started off from scratch working as a clerk. He later became a successful entrepreneur and a respected community leader. He was also the island’s first Indian building contractor, and contributed greatly to the Hindu community, including the construction of the Sri Mariamman Temple in 1827.
  • Tan Tock Seng – Arriving in 1819, Tan Tock Seng became one of Singapore’s most eminent philanthropists and a leader of the Chinese community. He contributed generously to charity, and is best known for being the main donor to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. He was the first Asian to serve as Justice of Peace.

The new statues will be on display alongside the Sir Stamford Raffles statue until 8 January, after which they will be shifted to different locations along the Singapore River promenade for the rest of 2019.


Singapore Bicentennial Office

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Added 26 February 2020
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