Tamil poets honour Mr Lee with poetry book

Tamil poets honour Mr Lee with poetry book
Former president S R Nathan (second from left) was the guest of honour at the launch of Lee Kuan Yew 90, a collection of 90 poems to mark Mr Lee's 90th birthday.

SINGAPORE - Tamil poets have put together a collection of 90 new poems to mark former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's 90th birthday.

Launched on Sunday by former president SR Nathan, the compendium has contributions from poets - including Singapore Literature Prize winner Ramanathan Vairavan - from three countries.

The 90 poems, from 42 Singaporeans, 24 Malaysians and 24 Indians, laud Mr Lee's legacy. They focus on Singapore's journey from Third World to First and how Mr Lee, who turned 90 a week ago, transformed marshy swampland into a metropolis.

Mr Vairavan said he spent four days composing his poem, titled Cannot Stop Praising.

The 51-year-old said: "I went to research his life and read his books, and I was inspired by Mr Lee's honesty and dedication."

Sunday's launch at the Umar Pulavar Tamil Language Centre was marked by song, dance and musical performances.

The Association of Singapore Tamil Writers project started in May as the 36-year-old group wanted to do something to mark Mr Lee's 90th birthday, said chairman Naa Aandeappan.

A professor from Chennai, Dr Maraimalai Ilakkuvanar, translated the poems from Tamil into English in a month.

"Mr Lee has given Tamil the status of an official language even though the number of Tamils in Singapore is very small," said Mr Aandeappan.

"No other country has done this and that's very important to the Tamil people."

The collection of poetry will be given away free, with all donations going to the Sree Narayana Mission Home for the Aged Sick.

rchang@sph.com.sg


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