Otterly fine stamps by Edmund Chen

By Eunice Ang

HE IS better known as an actor who has starred in many Chinese drama serials and even in Hollywood movie Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li.

Now, Edmund Chen Zhicai can add "stamp designer" to his credentials.

Chen, who has a flair for art, was approached by SingPost more than a year ago to design a stamp series featuring the Oriental Small-Clawed Otter, which is native to Singapore. The endangered mammal has been spotted at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, and on Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong.

In a SingPost event held at the Singapore Philatelic Museum yesterday, the actor told my paper that he spent about three months researching the mammal's habitats and behaviour before starting on the initial sketches. He spent a month sketching the otter, using pictures he found on the Internet as references. Those sketches were then vetted by experts.

Chen, who was appointed SingPost's first Official Stamp Ambassador, said he had to redo his sketches many times to get the details right and that left him "depressed".

Ms Patsie Tan, SingPost's assistant vice- president of corporate communications, said that the actor was commissioned to do the job because he "can help in the outreach to the young generation on the appreciation of the arts".

Chen said he started drawing when he was in primary school and contributed his works to a student magazine. He received more than one "prize" of $5 for his submissions and that helped him realise the "joy of drawing".

The Endangered Animal - Oriental Small-Clawed Otter stamp issue, which comes in a set of four stamps, will go on sale for $3.20 tomorrow.

In conjunction with the issue, a unique imperforated Collector's Sheet, which comes with a folder, will be released. The sketchings of the otters on the folder cover were done by Chen's 20-year-old son, Yixi. Of the 1,000 to be issued, 30 come with golden serialised numbers and will be sold for $168. The other 970 serialised sheets - which sell for $88 - are sold out, due to overwhelming response during the pre-order period.

All proceeds from the sale of the gold-numbered imperforated Collector's Sheet will go to SingPost's adopted charity, Food from the Heart.

The first-day cover will come stamped with a special Oriental Otter postmark designed by Chen's 11-year-old daughter, Yixin. All products in this stamp issue will go on sale tomorrow at all post offices and at the Singapore Philatelic Museum. Orders can also be made at SingPost's online portal, vPost.


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