War Memorial Park

War Memorial Park (55)

Here, opposite the Raffles City shopping centre, is the War Memorial Park.  It can be seen from very far away thanks to its 70 meter high monument, known as the war memorial, or by its nickname, chopsticks. It is a memorial to the civilian victims of the Japanese occupation.

The park covers an area of slightly less than ½ acre and, as you can see, is a small oasis of calm and tranquillity. It has open lawn areas surrounded by rows of typically Southeast Asian trees.  In the middle of the park you will find a small pond as well as this large monument.  

This structure was erected to honour the estimated 50,000 civilian lives lost during the Japanese occupation and its four columns joined at the base symbolize and honour the unity of Singapore’s four major races. To make the monument even more meaningful, you should know that beneath it lie the remains of unidentified war victims. They were exhumed and brought here from other areas of the city to be buried together and remembered with honour and respect.

It is the work of the local architect Leong Swee Lim  of Swan and Maclaren. Its construction began in 1966 and was completed in January 1967.  It was inaugurated on 15 February 1967 by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.  So every 15 February, a solemn memorial ceremony is held at the park.

This period in time was truly horrible for the Singaporeans.  During World War II the Japanese occupied Singapore and began an operation against the Chinese community called Sook Ching, in which all Chinese males between the ages of 18 and 50 had to appear before the military police. Its purpose was none other than to identify them, subjugate them, jail them or eliminate them.

After the war, a war crimes commission was set up to investigate these atrocities and, among several defendants two were found most responsible for these horrible acts. The Major General Saburo Kawamura and the Colonel Masyuki Oishi were sentenced to death.    

This is where the idea for the memorial you see before was born.  Remember the past, honour the victims and erect a symbol of Singapore’s progress as well as the unity of its people. 

It is so big that for a good photo we recommend you go to the corner of Beach Road and Bras Basah Road, with your back to the Raffles Shopping Arcade. From here you can create an interesting composition with the War Memorial, the Great Durian and the skyscrapers in the background. Without a doubt, an emotional and impressive postcard.

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