Dream come true

The Straits Times | Aug 31, 2006
By: Kristina Tom, Arts Reporter

It¡¯s never too late to pursue one¡¯s dreams. In former MP and businessman Peh Chin Hua¡¯s case, it¡¯s his love for poetry HIS childhood dream was to become an artist, but businessman and former Member of Parliament Peh Chin Hua, 57, was never allowed to pursue it.

¡°Almost every year I received the gold medal in art,¡± he says proudly of his days at The Chinese High. He was a talented student under the tutelage of the late renowned Singapore artists Chen Chong Swee and Chen Wen Hsi. But as the eldest son of 11 children, he felt obligated to carry on the family business: a bookshop in Havelock Road that has since become Shing Lee Publishers.

But now, with the release of his first book, Love, A More Beautiful Life, Mr Peh is able to realise a bit of his old dream. It features not only his writing, but also an array of photographs and Chinese watercolour paintings, almost all of them his work.

The collection of 58 Chinese love poems is a nod to his 58th birthday in November this year.

He started writing poems in 1995 as a way to pass the time during overseas trips to China and America. Most businessmen would prefer to frequent bars or karaoke lounges, but Mr Peh would retire to his hotel room to work on his poems and drawings.

The first poem he wrote was titled A Beautiful Secret, which is included in the book. It is about a person¡¯s love for a budding flower, but the speaker is unable to find the words to articulate his feelings.

It mirrors Mr Peh¡¯s feelings towards modern Chinese poetry. He says he has always enjoyed it, but that it is hard to express why he finds it endearing.

The former editor and current group managing director of the Shing Lee Group ¨C which, among other things, publishes academic materials ¨C uses simple Chinese in his poems to encourage young people to learn and speak the language.

The books, including a CD of 17 songs with lyrics based on the poems, will sell for $20 each. All proceeds go to the Renci Hospital and Medical Centre, where Mr Peh is an adviser.

The book launch at the National Library this Saturday features a performance by Tibetan singers Wujie Zhelang and Xuena Zhuoma (below), who recorded the CD.

The launch also kick-starts a three-day exhibition of Mr Peh¡¯s writing, painting and photography.

While some of the poems were inspired by his wife of 36 years, Madam Maureen Tan, Mr Peh says the poems are meant for all the people and places that have brought love into his life. These include his three children and three

He says: ¡°The poems are for people I love, and who have loved me.¡±

Love, A More Beautiful Life will be launched at 1.30pm on Saturday at the National Library. It will be available for $20 without GST at major bookstores.

The exhibition runs from Saturday till Monday at the National Library.