Celebrating the Stories of Our Pioneers with "The Greatest Gift of a Generation"

The Singapore Memory Project continues to collect and celebrate the stories of Singapore’s early pioneers in its latest campaign, and aims to encourage intergenerational conversations

Singapore, 2 October 2014 – The Singapore Memory Project (SMP) launches its latest campaign titled ‘The Greatest Gift of a Generation’ ; which continues to celebrate and honour the nation's pioneers starting with a series of 20 videos that shares the diverse memories of this group of individuals. Through its latest campaign, the SMP hopes to expand its collection of memories from seniors by encouraging more young Singaporeans to engage in an intergenerational conversation with them.

The campaign puts the spotlight back on the seniors, featuring their untold stories as they are interviewed by the younger generation. The first video, “A Soldier’s Tale”, was unveiled today and features the memories of Mr Lee Ah Lek as he recalls the moment he found out he was selected by ballot to be part of the Singapore Military Forces, initiated by the British, in 1955. Captured in a candid interview format, Mr Lee recounted his memories as he shares them with his granddaughter Lee Liwen. 

Other stories featured in the collection include that of the Tok Tok Man, a community performer who frequents the Old Airport Road Hawker Centre, the love that ex-MTV VJ Holly Gabarek’s grandmother showered on her, and the bond shared between Syaira (owner of Fluff Bakery) and her mother-in-law through their mutual love for baking.

The campaign will be rolled out in two phases – from now till January 2015. As part of the first phase, one video will be launched each week over 20 weeks, starting from 29 September. Each video will feature one theme or topic and will be explored through an interview with a member of the pioneer generation by a younger Singaporean. The second phase, slated for November 2014, will see volunteers from the Singapore Memory Project going out to speak to pioneers on the streets to gather their stories. This will be done through a series of roadshows held at selected coffee shops.

“I am honoured that my story has been selected by the Singapore Memory Project to share with Singapore,” said Mr Lee Ah Lek, 80, who was part of the Singapore Military Forces. “Many people are curious whenever they learn that I was part of the Singapore Military Forces and they often ask me if I would go through it again. My answer is yes because I view national service as an important part of a Singaporean man’s journey to adulthood. Now that my grandson is serving the nation, this experience has brought about a stronger bond between us.”

“It is a privilege to be a part of this initiative and to be able to share the stories of my grandfather with the rest of Singapore. It is definitely comforting to be able to talk to him and hear of the memories he had as well as stories of how he overcame the challenges in life,” said Lee Liwen. “Part of the reward is also getting good advice in return. It just goes to show that all it really takes is for you to get the conversation going and you never know what you might learn.”

A ‘Thank You’ video which paid tribute to the pioneer generation and acknowledged their contributions to the nation was also launched on SMP’s irememberSG Facebook and YouTube pages on 22 September.

“Our campaign aims to preserve the stories of our pioneers so that they can pass on to future generations. These 20 videos, which feature a diversity of memories that our pioneers have of Singapore spanning across various themes, will offer additional depth-perception in Singaporeans’ understanding and appreciation of the past,” said Mr Gene Tan, Director, National Library. “Through this initiative, the Singapore Memory Project also hopes to spur an intergenerational conversation between the young and the seniors.”

SMP first honoured the pioneers in its exhibition ‘Hands: Gift of a Generation’ in 2013, which showcased the stories of 30 Singaporeans from diverse backgrounds and professions. These stories were depicted through the photographic portraits of their hands. The exhibition is currently on display at Woodlands Regional Library till April 2015. SMP aims to sustain that momentum with the Campaign, by introducing a new video each week starting from today. The videos can be viewed on irememberSG Facebook and YouTube pages.