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Peh Chin Hua's first love has always been painting. Taught by late renowned artists Chen Chong Swee and Chen Wen Hsi C two of Singapore's four first-generation pioneer artists C he won gold medals every year during his school days at the Chinese High School. But instead of pursuing his childhood dream of an art scholarship in Paris, he joined his family business to help take care of his large family of nine younger siblings. While he could not turn his passion into a career, he never let go of his painter's brush. He collected Chinese paintings and polished his skills under the tutelage of Mr Nai Swee Leng. He also started learning Chinese calligraphy under another of his late teacher, Reverend Song Nian, in 1990, and Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore president Tan Siah Kwee.

After entering politics in 1988, he used his artistic inclinations for a good cause, regularly producing Chinese calligraphic works and paintings to raise funds for charitable organisations. To date, he has raised more than US$1.5 million. This includes about US$500,000 for the reconstruction of the Geylang West Community Club and US$80,000 for Muslim welfare and educational organisation Pertapis (Sale of MP's paintings to help Pertapis).

In 1995, he also started dabbling in Chinese love poetry. A decade later, he compiled 58 of them into a book, Love, A More Beautiful Life, and launched it at Singapore National Library on Sept 2, 2006 (Dream come true). It was the first time a Singapore politician had written a book of Chinese poetry. The verses are accompanied by related Chinese water-colour paintings by him as well as photos. The poems, paintings and photos were displayed at a three-day exhibition at the Library.

Seventeen of the poems were also adapted into lyrics for songs, which have been recorded into an album by Tibetan singers Wujie Zhelang and Xuena Zhuoma. The singers, who are from Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan Province, sang six of the songs at the launch.

At the launch, guest of honour Minister for Health Khaw Boon Wan said: "I did not know that Mr Peh could write poetry and paint. So when he asked me to write the foreword to his poetry collection, I was both surprised and happy. After reading his poems, I was left with a deep impression. There is a freshness to his verses, which are easy to understand, succinct and rich in emotions.

The launch was attended by former and current Singapore politicians and members of the literary fraternity. It also saw guests from China, including government officials from Qingdao and Jiuzhaigou. Proceeds from the book went to the Renci Hospital and Medical Centre, where Peh is an adviser. More than US$6,500 was raised on the first day alone.

Peh is also adviser to several organisations in Singapore's arts community. They include the Singapore Association of Writers, the Singapore Literature Society, the Singapore TAS Theatre, the Molan Art Association and the Singapore Chinese Calligraphy Association.

To view photos of the artwork, please click here.

To view the poetry, please click here.