Baey Yam Keng launches first book

Published on 6 June 2017

MP Baey Yam Keng shares insights on publishing his first book and what he hopes it will achieve.  

By PAMELA HO

His political persona may overshadow all else, but Baey Yam Keng, Member of Parliament (Tampines GRC) and Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, is an individual with deep roots in arts and culture. He has over 20 years of theatrical production experience as the founding President of ETCeteras (Chinese amateur theatre company) and has produced more than 10 original plays.

It’s thus not surprising that arts and culture is one of the themes covered in his first book,《一言既出》From the Horse’s Mouth, launched at the Singapore Book Fair 2017 on 2 June. Published by Focus Publishing, the book is a curated collection of articles he’s written over the years for his columns in My Paper and Lianhe Wanbao, neatly classified under four themes: Growing Up, Society, Serving the Community, and Arts and Culture.

“While I was putting this together, I was very mindful that it’s not just a rehash of all the articles as there are readers who have read them and it would be nothing new,” says the father of three. “So I’ve included many never-seen-before photographs of my family, my childhood; and it does give the reader some insight into personal stuff about me.”

Designed to be interactive, the book also contains ‘hyperlinks’ to topics, characters and incidents. “If I mention a particular teacher in a story, for example, and you’d like to find out how this teacher helped me, turn to page X,” he explains. “These pseudo-hyperlinks get the reader to browse through the book without having to read from the first page to the last. You can jump from article to article.”

Readers are also invited to respond to the stories by posting their own photographs and thoughts online, and adding the hashtag #sharewithBYK. “Hopefully, I can interact with my readers that way,” he says, adding that his hope is for the book to serve as a catalyst for people to discover more about their own communities and to do something in their own circles of influence.

The book is published in Chinese (the original written language), but are there plans for an English translation? “When the articles were first published, I actually posted them and provided an English translation too. But personally, as a writer, I have to admit there were certain things written in Chinese that I couldn’t fully capture in English. I’m not 100 percent satisfied with the translated text at this moment. So maybe we can work to improve it; or if there’s an opportunity, I can start building my portfolio in English. That’s something I can consider as well.”

All sale proceeds will go towards the setting up of the Tampines North Bilingual Youth Kindle Award. “While it’s positioned as an award, it’s more about youth mentorship and development. The award extends to students of all races and languages; the only requirement is that the recipient has to be bilingual,” Baey reveals, adding that details will be provided later in the year.

Exclusive giveaway of autographed copies!

Credit: William Timmermann

From the Horse’s Mouth is available at Popular bookstores and online at https://zshop.zaobao.sg. It retails at S$30 (paperback) and S$200 (hard cover).

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