After exiting the Durian Theatre, we went to the main attraction of Singapore. Attraction as in the symbol of the whole country. So its obvious it will be full of people and that didn’t disappoint us. As we crossed the Esplanade Bridge to the park here is some background history about the Merlion Park.
“The original Merlion Park was first designed by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) near the mouth of the Singapore River in 1964 as an emblem of Singapore. On 15 September 1972, the park was officially opened at an installation ceremony for the statue, officiated at by then Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The original statue of the Merlion used to stand at the mouth of the Singapore River. The building of the Merlion was started in November 1971 and was completed in August 1972. It was crafted by the late Singaporean sculptor, Mr Lim Nang Seng and his 8 children. The sculpture measures 8.6 meters high and weighs 70 tons.”
It was already about 9 pm and the area was still swarming with tourists. The city of Singapore was filled with lights and life. We looked for a spot and there recreated some shots we did 13 years ago. It was nigh time, but we were still sweating due to the humidity of the city. But still everytime I stand there and gaze at the old and new Singapore I can’t help admiring it. Here is the rest of the park’s history.
“Upon the completion of the Esplanade Bridge in 1997, the original Merlion Park location was also no longer the entrance of Singapore River and the statue could no longer be viewed clearly from the Marina Bay Waterfront. On 23 April 2002, the statue was relocated to a new pier specially built on the other side of The Esplanade Bridge adjacent to The Fullerton hotel. The move, which cost $7.5 million, was completed on 25 April 2002. On 15 September 2002, then-Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew ceremonially welcome the Merlion again on its new location, the current Merlion Park, which is four times bigger than the original site. The launch took place on 15 September, 2002, exactly 30 years since it was built.”
Now the Merlion Park’s main attraction and namesake was the giant fountain of the Merlion. A mythical creature and symbol of Singapore. I remembered watching a short cartoon of it in Disney Channel’s Ring of Fire, but here is a written detail of its myth.
Legend and Design
“It has been said that the Merlion reflects the legend of Sang Nila Utama, a Malay prince that sailed across the seas before discovering a fishing island called Temasek (which mean “fish town” in Javanese). It was there that he met with a majestic creature, a lion, which purported him to name the island Singapura which translated to “Lion City” in Sanskrit.”
The Merlion logo had been designed by Fraser Brunner, a member of the Souvenir Committee and the curator of Van Kleef Aquarium. It became the emblem of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on 26 March 1964 and its registration as a trademark was finalised two years later on 20 July 1966.
Although by 1997, STB had acquired a new corporate logo, the Merlion is still protected under the STB Act and the use of the Merlion symbol requires permission from STB.
The Merlion Statue was designed by Kwan Sai Kheong, the vice-chancellor of the University of Singapore and Ambassador to the Philippines. He included details such as the water-fountain and piped-music which flows out of the Merlion. In November 1971, local craftsman, Lim Nang Seng began sculpting the Merlion statues, one larger than the other.
The main Merlion was so large it had to be built on location. Lim recruited the help of all his eight children, particularly his sons Pee Nee and Pee Boon, in constructing his prized work. The sculptures were completed in August 1972. “
That ends the history and legend of the Merlion and its park. The mythical creature was a reminder of the country’s humble beginnings. After we took some photos, we left the park and headed back to our hotel. We took a different route so we can see more sights along the way. One of our checklists was done.
Here are the links for more information: