Wed, Mar 18, 2009
The New Paper
Late hubby had something to say

[HEARTFELT: The compilation, which took Mrs Sng Poh Yoke two 'painful' years to put together, was launched last month.]

By Sylvia Toh Paik Choo

SHE went against her husband's wishes.

Mrs Sng Poh Yoke has, with much love and not a small measure of tears, put together a collection of her late husband Sng Boh Khim's creative writings.

The Ngee Ann Poly lecturer, 55, said: 'I asked him many times, he always said no. He wrote not to make a name but because he had something to say.'

That 'something to say' includes poems, essays, letters, prose and e-mails, all now published in Simply This - Simply His, Portraits of Sng Boh Kim (Ethos Books).

Mr Sng was a top civil servant - private secretary to late president Wee Kim Wee - and died of cancer in 2006, aged 56.

The Pod at National Library was alive with the sound of music and chatter last month, as 100 friends and family, students and colleagues gathered to celebrate the launch of the book.

A band in a corner upped the amp; Jian Wei, 22, the youngest son among the four Sng children, plays bass guitar. 'My father introduced me to jazz,' he said, 'gave me my first CDs; Miles Davis, John Coltrane.'

The group is called The Broke, and could have been named after this gig, which was gratis, natch.

A band of men, vintage circa 1968, had their noses in their copies. Literally, as after the hair, the eyesight is next to go.

Schoolmates of Mr Sng, they were on page 55, trying to figure out where each was in the Pre-U class photo. They recalled their lost classmate as a 'studious, not exactly sporty, man of few words'. But not in his fine writing; he was mentored by Edwin Thumboo and a kaki of Kirpal Singh, both masters of the written word.

The heartfelt compilation took Mrs Sng 'Two years, yes, painful'.

The writer may have been colour-blind - 'D for art, he would paint the chiku green for brown' - but in all other talents, towering, especially his facility with words.

There are poems on a trishaw-rider, the rapist, an aunty's wedding, the Esplanade, Qing Ming day. There are essays on presidents and politics.

There's his first-born's - now a father himself - eulogy to his father. There's an outline for a Chinese opera on the life of Jesus Christ.

Mrs Sng said, 'He knew how much I loved Chinese opera. One day I hope to produce it, Beijing opera-style.'

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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