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Indian Heritage Centre ‘timely birthday gift’ for S’pore

SINGAPORE — The Indian community has made key contributions to the Republic’s success and forms an important strand in the rich tapestry of Singapore life, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

SINGAPORE — The Indian community has made key contributions to the Republic’s success and forms an important strand in the rich tapestry of Singapore life, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Speaking at the opening of the Indian Heritage Centre last night, he said the new building in Little India is a “timely birthday gift” for the nation’s 50th birthday. “It reminds us of the importance of knowing our heritage, which anchors our place and our identity in a rapidly changing world,” added Mr Lee.

Tracing the Indian community’s footprint in the island’s early days — dating as far back as 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles first arrived here — he noted how the Indians introduced their customs and skills to Singapore.

Mr Lee also cited notable pioneers among the Indian community, ranging from the founder of Tamil Murasu newspaper G Sarangapany, who advocated that Tamil be one of Singapore’s official languages, to former Deputy Prime Minister S Rajaratnam, who penned Singapore’s Pledge.

Apart from showcasing the contributions of pioneers from Singapore’s Indian community, the Indian Heritage Centre’s approximately 450 artefacts on display includes bronze busts of prominent Indian leaders, such as that of Mahatma Gandhi — which was a gift from the Government of India.

In conjunction with the centre’s opening, entry is free this month and there will be a cultural fiesta with activities for the public to experience Indian traditions and culture. The four-storey building will also be the first museum to introduce a virtual personal guide for visitors that can be accessed through mobile phones or the museum’s handheld devices.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office S Iswaran, who chairs the Indian Heritage Centre’s steering committee, thanked Singapore’s pioneer leaders, such as the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, for supporting the project and promoting multi-racialism.

Mr Iswaran also cited the contributions of the late Senior Minister of State Balaji Sadasivan, who was the committee’s chairman before taking ill, and former President S R Nathan, who donated several items to the centre.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Iswaran said the process of setting up the centre had been an inclusive one with inputs from various quarters of the society. He hopes the centre will be a springboard for other initiatives, such as heritage trails to enrich visitors’ experiences in Little India. Mr Iswaran also urged Singaporeans to contribute to the centre, adding that it is also “an enterprise to enliven and share the vibrant and still unfolding story of the Indian community in Singapore”.

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