[When I planted my first tree at Holland Road Circus back in 1963, it was to make Singapore green.]

source: http://www.gardensbythebay.org.sg/pressroom/speech-by-lee-kuan-yew.php

Nov 14, 2011

 Dr Kiat Tan, CEO, Gardens by the Bay
Mrs Christina Ong, Chairman, National Parks Board
Mrs Theresa Foo, Chairman, Gardens by the Bay
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

I am delighted to be at the Flower Dome of the Gardens by the Bay this evening. It is beautiful and shows how far we have progressed in greening Singapore.

When I planted my first tree at Holland Road Circus back in 1963, it was to make Singapore green. Cities cannot just be made up of concrete buildings, tarmac and pavements. It would be depressing and unpleasant to live in. You need to balance that with trees and flowers. This will make Singapore more pleasant to live in.

Singapore has become much greener, despite increased urbanization. Almost half of Singapore is covered in greenery. We have set aside land for world-class gardens, parks and nature reserves. Many visitors are amazed at our tree-lined roads, and this has become an economic value to us. More importantly, Singaporeans today live in beautifully-landscaped housing estates, and are able to exercise and enjoy fresh air in the urban oases right at their doorsteps. None of this would have been possible without decades of conscientious planning and commitment.

Many countries now do tree-planting and call themselves garden cities. To retain our edge and continue to improve our living environment, we have been transforming Singapore into a City in a Garden. This City in a Garden vision is not just about developing green infrastructure. We are actually building a home to be proud of in the next few decades.

Gardens by the Bay, a world-class garden, will contribute towards this vision. It will showcase what we can do to bring the world of plants to all Singaporeans. The Gardens will no doubt continue to grow and this is where the support of the corporate community and individual will make this garden the pride of Singapore. And I am sure Singaporeans will grow to love Gardens by the Bay as much as they do the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

It has been almost 50 years since we started the Garden City movement. Just as becoming a Garden City took strong political will and dedication as well as support from Singaporeans, achieving the City in a Garden vision will need innovation, ownership and dedication at all levels of society.

Looking at the new Gardens by the Bay now, I am confident that Singapore is one step closer to this City in a Garden, an endearing home for all to live, work and play. I urge all Singaporeans to work together with the Government to build our City in a Garden, and continue to improve the quality of our living environment.