Farewell and thank you

Farewell and thank you

A new book containing photographs of people paying their respects to former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at his wake and funeral has been enjoying brisk sales since its launch on Thursday.

Of the 1,500 copies of Thank You, Mr Lee, about a third have been sold. Mr Lee died on March 23 at the age of 91.

The 96-page paperback book contains 53 images from 21 professional and amateur photographers who allowed their images to be used for free.

The pictures were picked from an open call, in which more than 40 photographers submitted entries.

Professional photographers Bernice Wong, 26, and Juliana Tan, 25, spearheaded the project, which is an initiative of Platform, a gathering of Singapore-based photographers who use stills, videos or multimedia to tell stories.

Ms Wong said: "The response was not surprising. Many people were moved by what Mr Lee did for Singapore. We're happy with the book's reception, but sales is not our intention. All we wanted is to bear witness to our collective sense of loss after Mr Lee's passing."

Mr Abdul Nasser, 50, owner of Basheer Graphic Books, who published the book, said: "In my whole life as a bookseller, I've never sold so many copies of one particular book in one day. There were many people buying multiple copies."

Books about Mr Lee have been flying off the shelves since his death. All 10 titles on Singapore's list of best-selling non-fiction books for the week ending March 29 were by or about the statesman.

Ms Chen Weiyan, 26, bought seven copies for her friends and neighbours.

The co-founder of a design studio said: "During the week of mourning, I queued for two hours to pay my respects. I was interested to see how the different photographers captured the events of the week."

Civil servant Wong Hefen, 32, bought 12 copies for her family and friends. She said: "To me, the book is very special because Mr Lee's death had a big impact on the people around me.

"It made us realise how grateful we are for what we have today, and think about how we want to contribute to Singapore in the future."

One of the professional photographers, Ms Mindy Tan, 33, submitted a photograph of a family standing at the Padang in the rain while trying to catch a glimpse of Mr Lee's hearse.

She said: "They were wrapped in just a plastic poncho and the parents' feet were soaked and covered in mud.

"I don't know how long the father had been carrying his daughter and I was struck by their depth of gratitude to Mr Lee."

Another professional photographer, Mr John Heng, 35, submitted a photograph taken in the corridor of an HDB block in Queenstown, showing a family watching Mr Lee's funeral on TV.

He said: "I thought the photo was meaningful because Queenstown is one of the earliest housing estates in Singapore and the people living here would have seen their lives change when Mr Lee was Prime Minister."

bang@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 11, 2015.
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