BY NG YANG HAN
HE WAS among the many people who were irked by SingPost's publicity stunt earlier this year in which its post boxes were "vandalised".
But it was that incident that prompted 18-year-old Lim Zhi Quan to pen his thoughts in an essay.
Last month, that essay ended up earning the second- year Nanyang Junior College student finalist award in the commentary category of an international journalism competition.
Zhi Quan told The New Paper: "I just felt the whole incident was so ill-managed. SingPost could have told the public earlier that it was just a stunt."
The competition was organised by Youth Journalism International, a US-based organisation, and was open to young people worldwide.
Zhi Quan,who won a certificate, wrote the commentary in January for a school publication.
Titled "Art vs Graffiti - Paint vs Scrawls", it dispelled the notions of how graffiti could be termed as art. Mr Clement Ducro, 36, the editor-in-chief of NYJC's journalism society, NYConneXions, then submitted the essay for the competition.
Zhi Quan wrote that it was not difficult to differentiate true art from mere scribbles, citing the "purpose" of each creation as a "yardstick for comparison".
For instance, he highlighted a collage consisting of mundane objects such as old shoes, tin cans and newspaper clippings by South African artist Willie Bester.
He explained: "Bester seeks to redefine South Africa's history and protest against the violent era of apartheid that had gripped his country for so long - in hopes that it will never happen again."
He condemned graffiti as "a costly nuisance to the public purse" and that "graffiti's vastly mediocre pieces neither trumpet truths nor beautify the surroundings".
Mr Ducro, a General Paper teacher, said: "I felt Zhi Quan's essay had a lot of potential. I wanted to see if his writing could match up to other young writers worldwide." Zhi Quan's showing was quite a feat, considering the stiff competition from other parts of the world.
The winner of the commentary category was from Italy, while the other finalists were from Poland, Australia and the US.
Zhi Quan's literature teacher, Mrs Desiree Teo, 57, said the student also topped his level in the subject at the end of last year.
"Despite that, he is still very humble and teachable. He doesn't try to dominate discussions and has a good learning attitude," she said.
This article was first published in The New Paper.