Since his lower primary school days, his mother would buy a copy of The Straits Times for him to read instead of sending him for tuition classes.
This, said Mr Siow Weijie, now 22, was done so he could "improve his linguistic ability through the habit of reading".
Fast-forward to 2013, and he is now pursuing a business degree at the Nanyang Technological University.
As a token of appreciation, the Day 5 winner of the ongoing Straits Times 12 Days of Christmas Surprises contest is giving his mother, 47-year-old Catherine Siow, the Canon 16.1-megapixel digital camera he just won.
Growing up in a Mandarin-speaking home environment, Mr Siow said his mother was worried about his standard of English.
At first she enrolled him at an English-language course at a community centre, but Mr Siow said he had to quit as the family could not afford it.
His technician father is the sole breadwinner in a family of four. Mr Siow has an 18-year-old sister who just completed her A-levels.
His mother believes that reading The Straits Times could help him improve his English as well as keeps him updated on the latest news.
Seeing how he would read the paper armed with a dictionary, his mother then bought him a notebook for him to jot down new words for future reference.
For her investment in his future, Mr Siow wrote to ST, saying that his mother " deserves a gift".
When told of the win, the housewife said: "I am happy that I have won a camera and even that Weijie appreciates what I have done."
There are seven more daily prizes to be given out. As part of The Straits Times Appreciates Readers (Star) series to reach out to readers and the community, we and our presenting partner Standard Chartered are giving away tech gadgets and household appliances worth $6,000 in total.
To take part, just tell us in not more than 40 words: "Why my loved one or I deserve to get a gift from The Straits Times."
E-mail your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your full name, NRIC number and cellphone number. The contest is open until noon on Dec 23.
To check out readers' entries as well as up-to-date stories on Christmas, please go to www.straitstimes.com/st-christmas-2013