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Meet 'boy boy', the Taoist priest

YOUNG AND FAITHFUL: Mr Choy (in blue), 20, was among seven Singaporeans ordained as Taoist priests on Sunday.


    May 06, 2014

    Meet 'boy boy', the Taoist priest

    HE IS only 20, but commands a following and presides over important rituals like weddings, funerals and blessing ceremonies.

    He is still waiting to serve national service.

    Eugene Choy, the only son of a welder, was among seven Singaporeans ordained as Taoist priests on Sunday. His presence at the rites caused followers and strangers alike to do a double take.

    Smiling, Mr Choy said: "I get called 'boy boy' sometimes because of the way (I look). Someone once told others, 'Look at that Taoist boy!'"

    They are not the only ones who are surprised. When his father, Choy Kwok Weng, learnt of his son's religious interest, his first words were: "Really? I thought those of your generation are not keen on such things."

    Mr Choy, 53, said in Mandarin: "We're Taoist and visit the temples on special occasions. But my (younger) daughter, nieces and nephews have never asked about religious matters.

    "Our family is quite open (when it comes to faith). I leave it to my children to decide."

    The younger Mr Choy's interest in Taoism started in 2012. He was then studying game and entertainment technology at Temasek Polytechnic and he came across Chung Kwang Tong's blog.

    Mr Chung, 29, who is also known as Master Wei Yi, is the youngest council member on the Inter-Religious Organisation, which promotes religious harmony.

    Mr Choy said: "I wanted to know more about Taoism. After I e-mailed Master Wei Yi, he invited me to visit the temple."

    Mr Choy began spending almost every Sunday afternoon at the Hiang Tong Keng Temple in Tampines, chanting scriptures and learning things like when to bow or stand and where to place certain offerings.

    Taoist Federation chairman Tan Thiam Lye, 65, said that young people are seeking out the faith because of social media.

    The federation's youth group started in 2007 and got on Facebook a year later. They intend to be on Twitter soon.

    Mr Tan told The New Paper in Mandarin: "Many who sought us out are still studying. With the young (on board), we can better boost the faith and ensure continuity."

    Mr Choy's achievements have brought change to his family's Simei home. For instance, they no longer insist on getting the most expensive or longest joss sticks to "prove" their sincerity.

    "I used to buy up to 10 stacks of incense-paper offerings," his father said. "But he tells me just a bit will do, because it's the sincerity that counts."

    The senior Mr Choy said: "This way, it is more environmentally friendly too."

    His son added: "What's in the heart is more important."