SINGAPORE - From unpublished photos of Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew in their courting days to iconic images of Mr Lee on the stump, the public and private lives of Singapore's first prime minister are captured in full visual splendour in a new book launched on Friday.
Titled Lee Kuan Yew: A Life In Pictures, the bilingual pictorial book was published by Straits Times Press to commemorate Mr Lee's 90th birthday on Sept 16.
The 268-page coffee-table book tells the story of Mr Lee - as politician, statesman and family man - through some 480 carefully curated photographs. Of these, over 100 have never been published. They include pictures from Mr Lee's personal and family albums, which depict private moments between him and his late wife Kwa Geok Choo, as well as their three children.
Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) chief executive Alan Chan presented the book to Mr Lee at his Istana office on Friday.
Also present were SPH English and Malay Newspapers Division managing editor Han Fook Kwang, who oversaw the project, Straits Times picture editor and project leader Stephanie Yeow, and Lianhe Zaobao news editor Han Yong May, who was in charge of the Chinese aspect of the book.
Mr Lee, in good spirits, flipped through the book and smiled when old photos of him and his children caught his eye.
"That's Loong," he said, pointing at pictures of him with his elder son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as a toddler.
Looking at an undated, unpublished shot of him laughing while daughter Wei Ling and son Hsien Yang frolicked with their pet labrador at Sri Temasek, Mr Lee reckoned he would have been about 40 years old and his daughter around nine at the time. He thanked the team for their efforts.
"This is a book we are proud to be publishing," said SPH English and Malay Newspapers Division editor-in-chief Patrick Daniel.
"It offers readers a pictorial history of Singapore through the life of its founding prime minister," said Mr Daniel. "It's truly a collector's item for all Singaporeans and for anyone interested in the story of Singapore."
The book was put together by a team from The Straits Times and Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao. They started working on it from January. Besides Ms Yeow and Ms Han, the team included Straits Times correspondent Cassandra Chew, senior writer Leong Weng Kam and Lianhe Zaobao executive photographer Spencer Chung.
Straits Times senior executive artist Sally Lam designed the book, which weighs almost 2kg and is printed on high-quality art paper.
The team went through tens of thousands of photos in National Archives and SPH archives to pick out Mr Lee's best shots. They also approached his family, friends, colleagues and government agencies for pictures and leads.
Ms Yeow, 42, who has photographed Mr Lee many times, said she made visual quality her rule of thumb in selecting the photos.
"Many of the pictures give you a glimpse of Mr Lee out of the public eye and show him in a different light," she said.
The book opens and closes with chapters on Mr Lee's personal life and his love story with Madam Kwa, respectively.
The other four chapters cover key stages of his life: the road to Independence, nation- building, Mr Lee as statesman and his years after stepping down as prime minister in 1990.
There are also picture spreads on themes such as Mr Lee's relationship with PM Lee, his love for keeping fit and his days as the consummate election campaigner.
Ms Yeow and Ms Han, 45, hope the book, with its visual appeal and easy-to-digest text, will appeal to Singaporeans and bring back memories of the past.
The book will be available at all leading bookstores for $70 (including GST) from today. It can also be ordered online at www.stpress books.com.sg
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