Sunday, 14 June 2015

Lee Kuan Yew estate donates Oxley Road furniture, personal belongings to National Heritage Board

Mr Lee's personal items donated to NHB
Artefacts will enhance upcoming museum gallery on founding fathers
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 12 Jun 2015

SEVERAL belongings from the home of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first Prime Minister, have been donated to the National Heritage Board (NHB) for the people of Singapore.

These include the furniture in the dining room where Mr Lee and his colleagues founded the People's Action Party and hatched plans to contest elections and push for self-government in Singapore.

The personal possessions are gifts from two of Mr Lee's children, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, who issued a statement yesterday on the donation. They are also the executors and trustees of their father's estate.

The various donated articles from 38, Oxley Road range from the iconic, like Mr Lee's mandarin jacket, to the ordinary, such as a wall-mounted thermometer and a small rattan basket for stationery that sat on his study table.

The NHB took most of the items on Tuesday, a day after the Deed of Gift was signed.

It said in a statement last night that one gallery in the National Museum of Singapore, which is revamping its galleries, "will be dedicated to the core values and ideals of our founding fathers".

It added: "We welcome all artefacts that will enhance the story of our founding fathers, including the artefacts from our late founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

"As for the Deed of Gift, there remains some questions which the NHB is in the process of clarifying with the executors of the Lee Kuan Yew Estate."

Mr Lee Hsien Yang said he believed the items would be of "keen public interest". The late Mr Lee, who died on March 23, had said in his will that he wanted his home, a pre-war bungalow, demolished after his death or when his daughter moves out of it.

Given this wish, Dr Lee and her brother said they "believe it is only appropriate that some of his personal items of historic importance" be donated to NHB.

MPs interviewed said the gift will help to bring the more intimate side of the late Mr Lee's life to the attention of the public, some of whom had clamoured for the house to be preserved.

Ms Irene Ng, an MP for Tampines GRC, who had suggested in Parliament that the furniture in the basement dining room be donated to a museum, said the Lee family was "gracious and far-sighted" to put the items under the care of the NHB.

"This will ensure these historical items can be properly preserved for generations," she said.

Mr Alex Yam, an MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC, said: "Mr Lee's personal effects reveal the human side of a person who for many was almost superhuman - his frugality, values and work habits, all of which made him the man that he was."

Tributes to Mr Lee preserved digitally
Over 65,000 have been archived by volunteers, NLB staff since April
By Chong Zi Liang, The Straits Times, 9 Jun 2015

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.

Visited the tributes archival centre at Geylang East Public Library this morning, where National Library Board,...
Posted by Yaacob Ibrahim on Monday, June 8, 2015

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.

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