Singapore, 21 January, 2011 – Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew officially launched a new book entitled 'Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going' at the St Regis Singapore today. The book is published by Singapore Press Holdings' wholly-owned subsidiary, Straits Times Press.
In 16 interviews conducted over 10 months, MM Lee engaged with a team of Straits Times journalists on a range of issues, from the future of Singapore’s political system, relations with neighbouring countries, immigration, the rise of China and India, to climate change. He also spoke at length about his family, children and grandchildren. Each copy of the hard-cover book comes with an exclusive DVD of video footage culled from the interviews.
To raise funds for charity, MM Lee had earlier signed 60 copies of a limited edition of the book, which were made available for the public at a minimum donation of $10,000 each. The response was overwhelming - the first 30 copies were snapped up within hours and he agreed to sign 30 more.
A total sum of $627,802 was raised for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, which has raised over $30 million since its launch in 2000 to support over 85,000 cases of needy children from low-income homes with money to buy food during recess.
Mr Han Fook Kwang, Editor of The Straits Times who led the project, said: "MM Lee generously gave the team unprecedented access and time because he wanted to reach out to younger Singaporeans. Hard Truths will help readers understand Mr Lee's views on all the important issues that have made Singapore what it is today."
The project began in August 2008. Ms Rachel Lin and Mr Robin Chan, both journalists from The Straits Times, did considerable preliminary research, poring over MM Lee’s past writings, books and articles on and about MM Lee and his thinking. Mr Han, together with Deputy Editor Zuraidah Ibrahim, who coordinated the work of the writing team, worked with Deputy Review Editor Chua Mui Hoong, Deputy Political Editor Lydia Lim and Sunday Times Editor Ignatius Low, to distill Mr Lee’s diverse ideas and thinking into key themes. They then brainstormed the issues that needed to be raised and refined their questions for MM Lee.
The team also organised focus group discussions and spoke to more than 200 people, including many younger Singaporeans as well as academics, to find out what questions they would like posed to MM Lee.
The interviews with MM Lee began in December 2008 and continued into October 2009. Each interview lasted over two hours and were all conducted at the Istana. The SPH team took another nine months to write and edit the chapters.
The result is a book that offers readers a first-hand glimpse into the thinking and views of Mr Lee. Each of the book’s 11 chapters start off with an introductory segment that puts an issue in context, and then goes into a Q&A format. This format allows readers to follow the cut and thrust of the conversations with Mr Lee.
The title of the book 'Hard Truths to keep Singapore going' is a reference to Mr Lee’s remark, repeated several times in the interviews, that there are hard truths or facts about Singapore that cannot be changed, and that make it critical for Singapore to have a stable society and strong, effective government.
In his speech, Dr Tony Tan, Chairman of SPH, said that it was a privilege for SPH to have been involved in this project, which he hoped will "interest and intrigue, and may even infuriate" readers. It was MM Lee's passion for Singapore and his wish for its continued success which was the driving force behind the project, Dr Tan said, and he wanted to pass his insights and views to a younger generation.
Dr Tan also made special mention of Mrs Lee, who had a keen interest in all MM Lee's book projects. Said Dr Tan: "Without her quiet support, MM Lee, and the Singapore he built, would have been so different, and we dedicate this book to her."
'Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going' will be available from today at leading bookstores for $39.90 (inclusive of GST). Copies may also be ordered from firstname.lastname@example.org or from 63198347 (May) and 63198341 (Jasmine). The book can also be purchased online from the Straits Times Press Online Bookstore: www.stpressbooks.com.sg from 22 January.
Hard Truths to keep Singapore going is the latest in a series of books by SPH on MM Lee. The others are: Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas (1998), The Singapore Story (1998) and From Third World to First (2000).
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About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
Incorporated in 1984, main board-listed Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) is Southeast Asia’s leading media organisation, engaging minds and enriching lives across multiple languages and platforms.
Newspapers, Magazines and Book Publishing
In Singapore, SPH publishes 17 newspaper titles in four languages. Every day, 3 million individuals or 77 per cent of people above 15 years old, read one of SPH's news publications. SPH also publishes and produces more than 100 magazine titles in Singapore and the region, covering a broad range of interests from lifestyle to information technology. SPH's subsidiaries, Straits Times Press and Focus Publishing, produce quality books and periodicals in English and Chinese.
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Beyond print, the Internet editions of SPH newspapers enjoy over 263 million page views with 18 million unique visitors every month. Apart from SPH AsiaOne portal, SPH's online and new media initiatives include an online marketplace for products, services and employment, ST701; Stomp, omy.sg, and The Straits Times RazorTV.
SPH has a 20 per cent stake in MediaCorp TV Holdings Pte Ltd, which operates free-to-air channels 5, 8 and U, and a 40 per cent stake in MediaCorp Press Limited, which publishes the free newspaper, Today. In the radio business, SPH has an 80 per cent stake in SPH UnionWorks Pte Ltd, which operates entertainment stations Radio 100.3 in Chinese and 91.3FM in English.
Events and Outdoor Advertising
SPH’s events subsidiary Sphere Exhibits organises innovative consumer and trade events and exhibitions. In addition, SPH has ventured into out-of-home (OOH) advertising through its wholly-owned subsidiary, SPH MediaBoxOffice Pte Ltd, Singapore’s leading Digital Out-of-Home advertising company.
SPH owns and manages Paragon, the prime retail and office complex in the heart of Orchard Road, Singapore's main shopping belt. Its latest retail development, The Clementi Mall, started business operations in 2011. SPH's wholly-owned subsidiary, Times Development Pte Ltd, has also developed a 43-storey upmarket residential condominium, Sky@eleven, at Thomson Road.