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Her resilience is more than skin-deep

LOOKING AHEAD: Ms Ng's story of resilience and optimism is one of many moving stories in Singapore Raw. Seen here with her parents, she received an advance copy of the book from Ms D'cruz, who had interviewed her.


    Feb 20, 2014

    Her resilience is more than skin-deep

    READERS have watched her grow up, from an eight-month-old baby into the 23-year-old woman she is today.

    Ms Ng Poh Peng, whom The New Paper called "Baby Poh Peng" affectionately when it first broke her story, was born with congenital ichthyosis, a rare and incurable hereditary skin disorder that causes her skin to flake off like fish scales, exposing raw-looking wrinkled pink skin underneath.

    She shares a special relationship with the newspaper, which has covered her story since 1991.

    Her story, which chronicles her resilience and optimism amid adversity, is one of many moving stories featured in Singapore Raw, a book published in commemoration of The New Paper's 25th anniversary.

    Her story moved readers to donate more than $295,000 in 1991 to help her family pay for her medical care.

    The New Paper visited Ms Ng and her family last week to present her with an advance copy of the book.

    She said: "It's an honour to be part of this book. We're so thankful to The New Paper and people who have helped."

    Her mother, Madam Cheng Fong Mui, 48, a part-time hawker assistant, said: "Hopefully, when people read about Poh Peng's story, they will want to be strong like her."

    Ms Ng, who has been working from home as a Web administrator for Sloane Clinic for the past three years, gave an update on her recent activities.

    She said: "I live a simple life, and I'm not so stressed since I don't have to study any more. I normally spend my days reading or watching television."

    She described herself as a "homebody" who enjoys watching TV shows with supernatural themes, and who makes monthly trips to the library and borrows "over 30 books at a time".

    She helps around the house when she can, including sweeping the floor, which is "sometimes full of dead skin" because of her condition.

    Although there is no cure for Ms Ng's skin condition, she has learnt to focus on the future.

    Madam Cheng said that her daughter, who used to avoid going out, is now more courageous and independent, and is no longer afraid to go out by herself.

    Ms Theodora D'cruz, 23, a Nanyang Technological University mass communications undergraduate and a former The New Paper intern who interviewed her for the book, said: "I've actually kept up with Poh Peng on Facebook and she's been asking me about the book. So I was extremely excited to be able to hand it to her in person."