Booking a meeting with LKY
WHEN former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew vetted an illustrated book about himself, he had only one grouse.
He did not use chopsticks in Britain, he said, and requested that a fork be drawn instead.
Along with that one change, came the letter of approval for Lawrence Koh's book, Growing Up With Lee Kuan Yew.
The ease with which he got the approval surprised Mr Koh.
"It was not as hard as I thought it would be. I thought I would have to keep editing it," the 40-year-old told My Paper.
In fact, he was advised against proceeding with the book by relatives, who thought he was treading in dangerous waters, as the topic was "sensitive".
But his first book was published in 2000 and, now, Mr Koh is back with a second edition, which has a new chapter on nation-building.
The book is intended for children and teenagers. He said that he wanted to educate his children and others on a man he finds amazing.
"Just to run a class, it is so difficult. What more to run a country," said Mr Koh, who teaches 3D interactive media technology at Temasek Polytechnic.
Once his interest was piqued, Mr Koh read up extensively on Mr Lee and then distilled that knowledge, storybook-style, into simple words and illustrations.
He requested to meet Mr Lee after the first book was published, and was pleasantly surprised when his request was acceded to. That was just two days before he took off for the US to further his studies.
During the interview with My Paper at his home in Choa Chu Kang, Mr Koh proudly showed the reporter a copy of the first book, autographed by Mr Lee.
"I was so nervous before meeting him that I rehearsed in front of the mirror," he said. He recalled how Mr Lee's hearty laughter put him at ease.
Life for the artist has not been a breeze. He worked odd jobs after doing badly in his O levels twice, and struggled as a street busker after graduating from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts at the age of 27.
By his own admission, the motto of the father of two is: "Try till you die."
His first book launch will be held tomorrow at the Popular outlet in Tampines at 3pm, then at nex at 5pm.
For three consecutive weeks, Mr Koh's book has been on SundayLife!'s compilation of the bestseller lists from Books Kinokuniya, MPH, Popular and Times bookstores. It is priced at $21.90, inclusive of GST.