Lim Bo Seng Memorial, Esplanade Park

Situated in Esplanade Park, the Lim Bo Seng Memorial stands as a tribute to local Singaporean war hero Lim Bo Seng. Born in China, Lim Bo Seng moved to Singapore to study at the age of 16. Taking over the family business in 1929, his role as a local businessman led him to become strongly involved in the anti-Japanese movement and in turn, form the Chinese Liaison Committee to assist in Civil Defence. When the Japanese invaded Malaya in 1942, Lim helped to organise for the British forces more than 10,000 men to construct strategic defences around the island of Singapore and man various services.

Before the Japanese Army invaded Singapore, Lim Bo Seng escaped to India where he joined the British resistance group, Force 136, and trained to become an intelligence operative. In 1943, Lim traveled to China to recruit more men to join Force 136 and later the same year arrived in Malaya via submarine with his group of recruited men. Setting up intelligence networks in various towns, Force 136 planned to recapture Malaya from behind enemy lines. Unfortunately, the Japanese caught Lim Bo Seng in 1944 after a tip off from Malayan Communist Party leader Lai Teck. For two months he was tortured by his captors and eventually succumbed to his wounds in Batu Gajah Jail.

After the war had ended, Lim’s remains were disinterred from the prison and moved to Singapore to be reburied on the hill overlooking MacRitchie Reservoir. A Lim Bo Seng Memorial Committee was set up to raise funds for a public memorial and in 1953, the foundation stone was laid by Malcolm MacDonald, the British Commissioner General for Southeast Asia. One year later the memorial was unveiled at a ceremony celebrating Lim Bo Seng’s contribution to the nation of Singapore.

Shaped as an octagonal pagoda, the 3.6-metre high memorial was designed by local architect Ng Keng Siang. Influenced by traditional Chinese architecture, the pagoda is made from bronze, concrete and marble and is defined by its three-tiered roof caps and the four bronze lions standing guard at the base. Four bronze plaques adorn the memorial’s facade, each inscribed with a brief summary of Lim’s life in the four national languages of Singapore (English, Chinese, Tamil and Malay).

The Lim Bo Seng Memorial is the only World War II memorial in Singapore to be dedicated to a single person. In 2010, the memorial was gazetted as a National Monument alongside two other sites in Esplanade Park – the Singapore Cenotaph and the Tan Kim Seng Fountain.

Sources and related Web-links: