Award-winning essay tells story of grandson's love for his grandfather

Madam Wong Oi Kuan (second from left) wrote about her 27-year-old son Lee Ji Yun (left) and his relationship with his grandfather in an essay. Accompanying them are her husband Lee Kwong Jin and daughter Lee Ji Cheng.
Madam Wong Oi Kuan (second from left) wrote about her 27-year-old son Lee Ji Yun (left) and his relationship with his grandfather in an essay. Accompanying them are her husband Lee Kwong Jin and daughter Lee Ji Cheng.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - Most young working adults might splurge their first pay cheque on a present for themselves, or even hold a party.

But Mr Lee Ji Yun, 27, chose to gift a portion of his to his grandfather in a hongbao.

This, and other touching examples of the close relationship between grandfather and grandson were captured in an essay written by Mr Lee's mother, Madam Wong Oi Kuan, 57, for the "My Grandparents, My Parents" nationwide Chinese essay writing competition.

Organised jointly by Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, People's Association, AME Branding and the government's Bicultural Taskforce, the competition invites Singaporeans to write about parents and grandparents from the pioneer generation.

This afternoon's prize presentation at Bukit Timah Community Club saw Madam Wong's piece clinch the first prize in the competition's open category, meant for participants of all ages.

"Words have depth and scope but also temperature and emotion. Stories can touch the heart, and connect even different generations," she said.

Rather than write about her father from her own perspective, the freelance writer wanted to fully express the inter-generational theme by using her son's voice.

Madam Wong, a former magazine editor, said a friend encouraged her to pick up her pen again after a hiatus of over 20 years. Her writing had won three awards in Zaobao's Golden Lion Award Chinese literary writing competitions in the 80s.

"I realised that the pioneer generation was slowly fading away, and if we do not try to capture their memories now, we may not have a chance again," she added.

Madam Wong said she would use the $2,000 prize money to celebrate and have a good meal with her family. Fellow winner, student Lee Weichen, 15, wrote about his grandfather. His story clinched the first prize in the student category.

Their pieces were among 30 selected from 200 entries compiled in a book, launched at today's event by Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State for Education and Communications and Information.

Copies of the book will be made available at national libraries, while an e-book version will be made available to the public online.

Ms Sim, who chairs the Bicultural Taskforce, said that the competition encourages the sharing of history from "a different perspective".

"History is not just made up of large national events, but also of thousands of stories of individuals and their families. These stories are interwoven with the history of Singapore," she said.