Thursday, November 20, 2008

What legacy can we leave behind?

Image courtesy of National Library Singapore.

My visit to the exhibition, The Legacy of Tan Kah Kee & Lee Kong Chian, has been very inspiring such that one single post on it would not do it justice.

As mentioned in my previous post on this exhibition, this exhibition highlights the contributions of two of Singapore’s most successful entrepreneurs and millionaires, Tan Kah Kee (1874 - 1961) and Lee Kong Chian (1891 - 1967).

Above: Gallery 2. Photo courtesy of National Library Singapore.

Other than Gallery 1 and 2, I would recommend that visitors should not miss Gallery 4 of the exhibition. Gallery 4 is titled "Leaving a Strong Legacy". This gallery may seem simple in its design, yet a careful observer would soon realise that this very gallery has been very creatively thought out. It is so creatively thought out that visitors to this gallery will be inspired to reflect and ponder how they themselves can leave behind a legacy for their future generations even if they are humble, ordinary folks who may not have great wealth.

Above: Gallery 4. Photo courtesy of National Library Singapore.

The exhibition panels that you see in the photo right above challenges us visitors to think about what we can do for the society. Some of us may mistakenly think that one must have lots of money, lots of free time and/or a special talent before we can contribute to the society. This gallery proves that all these are not necessary. Everyone can contribute something to the society, even if he or she does not have lots of money, free time and/or talent. The way that we can contribute can come in many forms depending on our skills and resources.

Photo courtesy of National Library Singapore.

Visitors to Gallery 4 can also listen to audio recordings of people or representatives from organisations who have benefited from the legacy left behind by Tan Kah Kee and Lee Kong Chian. I have found it a peaceful and insightful experience to sit on the seats provided to listen to the audio recordings. Somehow, the curator has very thoughtfully provided fairly large spaces in Gallery 4. Somehow, the large spaces provided the ambience that facilitate me to do some reflection.

The lifespans of Tan Kah Kee and Lee Kong Chian were like any average person. However, the legacy that they have left behind, thanks to their farsighted vision and selfless drive, have helped built a better world for their fellow men, and more importantly, the impact of their legacy extends way beyond their own lifetime.

I believe that the objectives of the exhibition is certainly not just to disseminate mere information on these two pioneers and exemplary personalities. My sense is that the organisers hope that the exhibition would prompt us visitors to start to think about how we ourselves, no matter how ordinary we are, can contribute to the society. What legacy can we leave behind?

Anyway, after her visit to the exhibition, my friend who accompanied me, shared that perhaps her visit to the exhibition was a calling by a higher order to inspire her to contribute to the society.

Perhaps everything starts from a decision: The decision to make a difference, and to contribute.

The Legacy of Tan Kah Kee and Lee Kong Chian, “承前启后 继往开来:陈嘉庚与李光前” is held from 18 Jul to 31 Dec 2008, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Closed on public holidays).

Exhibition website:

Venue: Level 10, National Library,
100 Victoria Street
Singapore 188064

Free admission.

Organisers : National Library Singapore, Tan Kah Kee Foundation.

My heartfelt appreciation to the National Library Singapore, for granting me the permission to use the photographs published in this post.

Many thanks to the Friends of who have given me the support to facilitate my writing of this post.

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