Quirky artist takes pride in making Lee Kuan Yew figurines his life's work

Hannah Teoh
Senior Content Producer
Christopher "TreeWizard" Pereira and his LKY figure.

One artist has created a unique 3-D tribute to honour Lee Kuan Yew.

Christopher Pereira, 57, says he is the only artist in the world who creates Lee Kuan Yew figurines, and has been doing so since 2009.

Pereira unveiled his latest figures on 24 March at a makeshift display area at Raffles Place on Tuesday afternoon.  

Christopher TreeWizard Pereira and his handmade Lee Kuan Yew figures.

He has created large 30cm tall figures of Lee Kuan Yew in various outfits, including an Elvis outfit, as well as smaller figurines 15cm tall.

“There’s nobody doing this, who puts a lot of effort into Lee Kuan Yew sculptures. I’m the only one in the world making Lee Kuan Yew figures.”

“I believe nobody did LKY figurines because they don’t want to offend him,” said the artist whose trademark look includes a white polo shirt with a PAP logo, and a Lee Kuan Yew-shaped backpack. “I did this to test the market. I wanted to see the reactions of people. And I discovered that they liked my work.”

He has shown the smiley-faced figures to both Lee Hsien Loong, and Lee Kuan Yew himself. Both reacted with wide smiles, he said.  Lee Hsien Loong even signed one of the figures.

Lee Hsien Loong's signature on one of the Lee Kuan Yew figures

MPs have also bought some of the figures from him, including his own ward MP Tin Pei Ling.

“This is my life’s work,” he explained. “Carrying ‘Lee Kuan Yew’ on my back is an acknowledgement that he approves of what I do.”

“If he wanted to stop me he would have done so a long time ago,” he added.

Passersby take photos of Pereira's Lee Kuan Yew figures

Not everyone likes Pereira’s work. He has been called ‘siao’ (crazy). On one occasion, a woman took offense at the figures he was displaying, and called the police.

He has gotten orders for custom Lee Kuan Yew figures from Singaporeans living overseas. He charges between $200 to $8,000 for the figures, and takes between three to four months to do a 30-cm figure.

Pereira says he can make 50 15-cm figures a month. Each is painstakingly handmade – he designs the moulds for the figures, and airbrushes them. The airbrushing alone takes 12 hours. He also takes several hours to conceptualise and design the figures.  

In the future, Pereira plans to create figures of Mrs Lee and Lee Hsien Loong.