Book reading, gifting event to inspire young children to dream as big as Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State for Manpower and Prime Minister's Office, reading What's Inside The Red Box to K2 pupils at PCF Sparkletots in Radin Mas.
Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State for Manpower and Prime Minister's Office, reading What's Inside The Red Box to K2 pupils at PCF Sparkletots in Radin Mas. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State for Manpower and Prime Minister's Office, reading What's Inside The Red Box to K2 pupils at PCF Sparkletots in Radin Mas.
Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State for Manpower and Prime Minister's Office, reading What's Inside The Red Box to K2 pupils at PCF Sparkletots in Radin Mas. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Preschool teacher Suhartina Buang reading What's Inside The Red Box to the pupils at PCF Sparkletots in Radin Mas.
Preschool teacher Suhartina Buang reading What's Inside The Red Box to the pupils at PCF Sparkletots in Radin Mas. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - A group of pupils from a pre-school were treated to a special storytelling session on Monday (March 7) that highlights the life and legacy of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

The K2 pupils from the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots Preschool in Radin Mas were read passages from What's Inside the Red Box, an illustrated children's book that looked at Singapore's founding Prime Minister's ambitions for the country - through his iconic red briefcase.

Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State for Manpower and Prime Minister's Office, read the book to a small class of six-year-old pupils. As he finished reading, he said: "It's your turn to make your own little red box!"

What's Inside the Red Box, first published last December by the Straits Times Press, has pages for young readers to fill in with their own hopes and dreams.

The reading session was part of about 100 events being held this month to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Mr Lee's death.

Over 700 copies of the book, sponsored by Mapletree Investments, have been distributed to all PCF kindergartens and childcare centres.

Mr Lee used the red box to hold papers, letters, cassette tapes and personal notes that he worked on at any one time. Its contents ranged from handwritten drafts of his memoirs to communications with foreign leaders.

For many, the small box symbolised Mr Lee's dedication to Singapore and his outsized ambitions for the country.

Said Mr Tan at the reading session on Monday: "You can still see that the passion of the people - their affection for him - is still very, very strong."

Mr Tan, a Member of Parliament for Radin Mas SMC, stood for election with Mr Lee in Tanjong Pagar GRC in 2006. He spoke of Mr Lee's ambition: "He didn't realise whether those dreams, in those days, would be able to be materialised one day. But that didn't stop him from dreaming big."

Said PCF chief executive officer Victor Bay: "We hope that the story will inspire our children, even at this young age, and ingrain them in the notion that no dream is too big if they work hard to pursue their goals."

Illustrated by Phua San San, What's Inside the Red Box has sold about 10,000 copies and will be available in Chinese from next week.

The book is available at $16 (inclusive of GST) from major bookstores and on the Straits Times Press website at www.stpressbooks.com.sg/WHAT-S-INSIDE-THE-RED-BOX.html