For four years now, The Straits Times senior writer Wong Kim Hoh has been profiling interesting personalities every week for his celebrated series, “It Changed My Life.”
For this, Kim Hoh interviewed nearly 200 men and women, from high-flying corporate honchos to reformed criminals, troubled souls and change makers, to talk about their trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows, as well as their peaks and valleys.
The series features heart-warming stories such as the tale of former nightclub hostess Annie Siow, 49, who was disfigured by a spurned suitor more than 20 years ago. He not only hacked off her ears and nose, but also poured boiling water on her face.
Now a social worker, Siow, 49, told The Straits Times that she never thought her story would be told.
“But if it can help others, why not?” she said.
The print series was made richer by the accompanying, beautifully produced online videos. The interviews struck such a chord with readers that many of the newsmakers have been invited by schools and other institutions to give talks.
The series also has resulted in several spin-off projects, including a reader contest and the It Changed My Life book, featuring 39 of the interviews, sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank.
Straits Times Editor Warren Fernandez says the inspirational features by Kim Hoh “are a joy to read.”
The videos, he notes, “bring out even more powerfully their struggles and triumphs over adversity.”
The strong public response has also encouraged the news media company to launch The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award, with the inaugural award to be presented in February.
“Kim Hoh’s series helped us crystallise what this new award was about. Our aim is to honour someone whose life or actions are a source of inspiration to all in Singapore,” he added.
As for Kim Hoh, who still anchors the column, the interactions had an impact on him as well: “Humanity comes in different forms, shapes and sizes. I’ve learnt from them not to take things for granted, and not to sweat the small stuff in life.”