Our Founding Father Mr Lee Kuan Yew changed the lives of Singaporeans in many ways. Some more lasting than others but all for the common good of our young nation over the last decades. While many older Singaporeans witness the story of how this man shaped our nation, many of our younger Singaporeans only saw the fruits of his labour without fully understanding the hardship behind the process of nation-building. Thankfully, all that is set to change with ‘The LKY Story: The Man Who Shaped A Nation’ painstakingly hand drawn in manga-style for our youths!
A collaborative effort between Shogakukan Asia and Japan’s manga creators in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Singapore-Japan diplomatic relations (SJ50), Author Yoshio Nabeta, 53, and illustrator Yoshihide Fujiwara, 50, spent 18 months on the biographic manga comic. They hope to present Mr Lee’s inspirational life, in an easy to understand and highly entertaining format.
Determined to paint an accurate account, Nabeta read 10 books on Mr Lee’s life, including The Singapore Story: Memoirs Of Lee Kuan Yew, watched The LKY Musical and made a trip to the Oxley Road bungalow where Mr Lee lived. For readers who are not familiar with Japanese manga comic book format, they have also thoughtfully explained the reading sequence for your enjoyment.
To tell the story of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the manga traces historic events of Singapore’s transformative period that shaped Singapore into the country it is today. As the main character, the story started when he was still a boy by the name of Harry Lee. Being impressionable at the tender age, he was deeply influenced by his grandfather’s respect for the British. That was however all set to change when he witnessed how the British abandoned Singapore to fend for itself during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.
As a reader, I was pleasantly surprised that the Japanese writer and illustrator produced a brutally realistic segment on the Japanese Occupation of Singapore during World War II. Nabeta admitted that he struggled with some of the manga scenes as acknowledging Japan’s war crimes remains a sensitive subject in his country. He shared that he felt really feel sorry for what his country has done in the past. All he wrote was based on fact. He wanted Japanese people to know these facts and others to know that it was a Japanese person who wrote this.
As much as we enjoyed Mr and Mrs Lee’s ‘Love Story’, we have to consciously remember that some of these scenes are embellished with dramatic emotions characteristic of Japanese manga. Nabeta explained that in manga, emotions are usually heightened and dramatised so do take some of these romanticised scenes with a pinch of salt.
After the British returned to our land, the book brought us through other significant events that shaped Lee Kuan Yew’s ideals which lead him towards championing the rights of the people and
and eventually the teary declaration of Singapore’s independence.
Retelling Lee Kuan Yew’s story in manga form makes it easier for our youths and children to read and understand the struggles of nation-building through the eyes of our founding father. The book ends off with an inspiring quote from Mr Lee Kuan Yew to our future generation – Follow that rainbow, go ride it!
The LKY Story will be made available in Singapore from October 2016, with a retail price of S$16.90. The manga will also be distributed in Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. In Japan, a Japanese-language digital edition will be launched in November 2016.