SINGAPORE, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Singapore launched on Monday evening its bicentennnial celebration, as its Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted the year of 1819 marked the beginning of a modern, outward-looking and multicultural Singapore.
Lee made the remarks in his speech that although a thriving seaport existed in Singapore as early as the 14th century, it was when the British Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore in 1819 and made Singapore a free port. The establishment of the free port made trade Singapore's lifeblood, drawing immigrants and helping to nurture political values, inter-communal relations and worldviews that "diverged from the society on the other side of the causeway".
So, without 1819, the path to nationhood as Singaporeans know it today may not have happened, he said at the launch ceremony held at the Asian Civilization Museum.
Singapore celebrated its 53rd birthday on Aug. 9 last year.
"In this bicentennial year, as we reflect on how this nation came into being, let us also think of how we can move forward together. For we are never done building Singapore," he said.
Lee said that over 200 groups and organizations are holding commemorative events for the bicentennial this year.