Chasing his Singapore dream

Faced with raising $50,000 to create an SG50-related animation, a media lecturer faced many sleepless nights pondering how he would get the money.

Finances were tight for Mr Lawrence Koh and even his wife was sceptical about the project.

But with perseverance and persistence, the 42-year-old found a way to achieve his dream.

He made a 10-minute animated feature, titled Nation Building: The Story Of A 50-year-old Country, that chronicled Singapore's history.

Mr Koh, who teaches 3D interactive media technology at Temasek Polytechnic, said he had always wanted to create something to show the younger generation the progress Singapore has made.

"I look at my children now and I realise they don't know much about Singapore," said Mr Koh, who has a boy, six, and a girl, eight.

He had written a book, Growing Up with Lee Kuan Yew, that highlighted Singapore's milestones, but felt another medium would be better this time.

"I wanted to do something that didn't just tell the story of Singapore's progress but showed how it happened. That's why I decided to go with animation."

Half his financial problem was solved when Mr Koh pitched his idea last December to the SG50 committee, which gave him a grant that covered 50 per cent of the costs.

But raising the remaining $25,000 was just as daunting because Mr Koh needed to get it quickly so that the animation could be completed in time.

"Fund raising became the most challenging aspect of this project and the risk of having to bear the cost myself was so big that my wife was reluctant for me to embark on it," he recalled.

Mr Koh's wife, Madam Elina Ng, 44, a senior executive, recalled how she disagreed with her husband when he first started on the animation.

"He would be so focused on his animation that he often forgot that there were other things involved in making this project," she said.

"So we had to discuss the financial situation extensively before he even started work on the animation."

Mr Koh revealed that in May, he was so worried about the finances that he would lose sleep over it.

"There were times I thought I would have to pay the costs myself and I couldn't bear to tell my wife," he said.


The bulk of the cost came from the animation production and outreach campaigns to get organisations to show the animated video.

Mr Koh worked closely with a friend, Ms Woo Li Fong, 42, to raise as much money as possible.

Ms Woo, who became the project's partner, said: "I would help as much as I could with the administrative jobs while he focused on creating the animation.

"However, he would still call as many people as he could to source for funding and approached as many organisations as he could.

"It was a really challenging time for him, but I had full confidence that he could see it through all the way."

Mr Koh's efforts paid off in June when he received sponsorships from the TungLok Group and the Zu-Lin Temple Association.

His friends also chipped in and he managed to raise some money through a crowdfunding site.

After about seven months of hard work and dedication, Mr Koh's contribution to the Singapore story is finally completed.

"To finally see your dream come to fruition - there's no better feeling," he added.

His favourite part of the animation shows the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew announcing Singapore's separation from Malaysia.

"I found that particularly interesting and I wanted to make sure that I captured the emotion."

The video is being screened in schools and there are plans to have it shown at Changi Airport, SMRT stations and public libraries.

Madam Ng said: "I am proud of what my husband had done, and it's a relief knowing my fears were wrong. I'm so glad he managed to chase his dream."


This article was first published on Aug 05, 2015.
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