Tributes to Mr Lee preserved digitally

OVER the past two months, more than 65,000 tributes to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, which poured in after Singapore's first Prime Minister died on March 23 aged 91, have been digitally archived by the National Library Board (NLB).

NLB hopes to finish digitising the tributes collected during the week of national mourning from the Istana, Parliament House, 18 community tribute sites and public libraries by the end of the year.

But that may change as the total number of tributes - from over one million visitors to Parliament House as well as community sites - is still unknown, an NLB spokesman said yesterday.

Yesterday, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim visited the NLB volunteers and thanked them for their efforts in helping to preserve a part of Mr Lee's legacy.

Staff and volunteers have been sorting the tributes since April 20. About 50 of them work from 10am to 6pm on weekdays at Geylang East Public Library amid countless boxes of condolence cards, posters and other notes.

They sort the material according to size, language and the location where the tributes were penned. Each message is read, as those recounting personal interactions with Mr Lee are placed in their own category.

The items are then scanned and indexed by other volunteers manning laptops.

Some of the archived messages are already on the Singapore Memory Project website under the irememberLeeKuanYew Collection accessible at http://singapore

Meanwhile, unique items like plaques, a box of paper cranes and Chinese calligraphy couplets will be photographed.

Yesterday, volunteer Sandy Pratama, 13, was feeding condolence messages into a scanner. The Assumption English School student said: "I was overseas during the national mourning week, so I came here to read the messages and help at the same time."

Another volunteer, accounts clerk Ching Yoke Yin, 59, helped read condolence cards written in Chinese as part of the sorting process.

"Many of them are well-written in beautiful handwriting. It's touching to read the heartfelt messages," she said.

NLB said it hopes more volunteers will sign up on its website or simply walk in at Geylang East Public Library to help digitise the remaining tributes.

This article was first published on Jun 9, 2015.
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