Michael Koh and Sharon Lee
Aircon Specialist and Homemaker
Michael Koh first noticed Sharon Lee at Chingay in 1991 when they were both part of the Soka Gakkai Singapore (SGS) team of costume and prop makers for the street parade. Though it took a while for cupid to work its magic, the couple is now married and share fond memories of their experiences at Chingay.
Michael and Sharon, both 61, were members of SGS. It was during the early years between 1985 and 2013 when the People’s Association first requested SGS to make props for Chingay. From smaller and simpler props such as butterflies, fishes and kites, the group’s capabilities evolved over the years growing in creativity, complexity and beauty. For SGS members, the group’s participation at Chingay was a source of much bonding, surmounting challenges, large and small, as they worked together.
In 2005, the team built a mask float – the largest prop they had ever designed and built, standing 4 metres high. Adding to the challenge was designing the mask to dynamically rotate 360 degrees, with hands extended and fingers moving.
Their creative energies continued to be fuelled the following year when they designed and built a 3-metre giant dog float to usher in the zodiac Year of the Dog. Every member in the SGS Chingay contingent also wore a uniquely designed, custom-fitted dog headgear.
Peek Behind The Scenes
For each prop production project, there is a Soka Production Group (SPG) of about 30, led by a chief, who would be briefed on the show and choreography requirements. The team would brainstorm ideas, starting with how they could best recycle existing materials to make the props. On average, it would take at least three months to produce these props.
Love At First Sight
The team would spend long hours, often working through the night to improve a prop.
It was usual to take breaks from the intense preparations for meals together; chatting, laughing and sharing like a happy family. It was during one of these breaks that Michael noticed Sharon. “I was captivated by Sharon’s shy demeanour. It was love at first sight for me!” Michael shared.
He set out to woo Sharon, inviting her out for meals on two occasions. Still, the relationship did not take off as Michael would have wished. According to Sharon, “I was just not ready to commit to a serious relationship then”.
Michael remained patient and hopeful. He continued to work on various SPG projects including Chingay, which gave him opportunities to interact with Sharon.
One day, almost three years after their first date, the unexpected happened - Sharon invited Michael to join her for a party. She also took initiatives, henceforth, to ask Michael along when she needed to buy project materials.
No doubt, Michael was over the moon! “I was moved by Michael’s sincerity. Working on Chingay and other projects also allowed me to observe and see Michael’s good character which won me over”, Sharon shared demurely. Their love story ended on a sweet note – they got married. Today, they have a 21-year-old daughter who is also actively engaged in SGS as a youth leader.
Passing On A Heritage
While SGS no longer produces props and costumes for Chingay, Michael and Sharon continue to play a supportive role passing their skills, which remain applicable for other events, to the younger generation. On their part, younger members are showing aptitude and eagerness to learn – positive signs that SGS’ heritage will continue to thrive and grow.
Hopes And Dreams For Chingay
Chingay has left an enduring mark in the memory and heritage of SGS over the years. Its members hope that Chingay will continue to be an event which will rally and inspire hope and joy in the community. Their dream is to see the iconic local event make its mark internationally by showcasing more art performances from around the world.