New musical about the namesake of an MRT station
The name, Boon Keng, is a familiar one; commuters know it as a stop on the North-east MRT line. But who is its namesake and what is his story?
A new musical on Dr Lim Boon Keng, the Singapore pioneer whom the MRT Station is named after, aims to shed light on his life and story. The musical is written by established local playwright Stella Kon, the great-granddaughter of Dr Lim.
Dr Lim, born 1869 in Singapore, was a Peranakan physician. He was an advocate against opium addiction and he also fought for the right to education for girls, famously co-founding the Singapore Chinese Girls School.
The musical digs deeper into his life and offers an intimate look into his thoughts. Here are five interesting things about Dr Lim and what audiences can look forward to in the musical:
Sharp sense of humour
Dr Lim, who was known to enjoy his whiskey, would toast with the phrase “merci beaucoup”, French for “thank you”. But he intentionally pronounced the phrase in such a way that it also sounded like “we will die before long” in Hokkien, intending perhaps to joke about the brevity of life and the need to seize the day.
What life after 50 looks like
Dr Lim was an early achiever in life. He graduated with first-class honours in medicine and ran a successful private medical practice. But life truly began for him after he reached the age of 52 when he gave up his thriving practice and moved to Xiamen, China to teach at Amoy University without a salary. That move proved to be a critical turning point in his life and the ups and downs he experienced thereafter will leave audiences of the musical on the edge of their seats.
Dr Lim’s life was filled with political intrigue and associations with prominent historical figures. Learn about his time as a founding member of the secret society, Tongmenghui, and as the private physician and secretary of Kuomintang leader and revolutionary figure Sun Yat Sen.
A song about sambal belacan
How would you describe your relationship with your loved ones? Dr Lim likened his relationship with fellow Straits Chinese to sambal belacan, that sour, salty and sweet spice paste commonly used in Peranakan cooking. A song in the show brings that sentiment to life through lively music and lyrics.
A picture of undivided loyalty
During World War II, the Japanese pressured Dr Lim to be the president of the Overseas Chinese Association. The organisation was started by the Japanese military administration to mediate the between the authorities and the Chinese community. People in the Chinese community felt betrayed by his acceptance of the position, which they saw as a willingness to collaborate with the Japanese. The musical however, highlights his side of the story and how he used the position to protect the Chinese people.
Details about Lim Boon Keng, The Musical here.