Values Are More Important Than Valuables

A blue, dinosaur-printed pouch, carried by Ms Ho Ching, the wife of Singapore’s PM on a state visit to the White House, has stolen the limelight. Priced at just SGD 14.80 (USD 11), the dinosaur-printed pouch is designed by a 19-year-old Singaporean student at Pathlight, the country’s first autism-focused school.

Ms Ho is accompanying prime minister Lee Hsien Loong on his state visit to the United States. Ms Ho originally faced much criticism online for her choice in outfit, with netizens quick to point out the difference in dressing between Mrs Obama and Ms Ho.

(Image: The Art Faculty by Pathlight / Facebook)

She was seen carrying the pouch, which she bought at a recent fundraising event, at the arrival ceremony at the White House South Lawn, where President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama officially welcomed Mr Lee and Ms Ho to the United States.

But, once it was discovered to have been designed by 19-year-old Seetoh Sheng Jie of Pathlight, the pouch started selling like hotcakes. The school typically sells 200 pouches in four months, but sold 200 within a day after images of Ms Ho were shared widely, the school told the BBC. The pouch has since sold-out. If you need to have this pouch then you have to pre-order it now, with an estimated timeline to delivery of 2 months!

According to the platform run by the school that’s currently retailing the pouch, “Dino Silhouettes” is made of denim and the dinosaur print was illustrated by Seetoh from his own knowledge about the prehistoric reptiles. Sheetoh is extremely pedantic about dinosaurs — the spelling of their full paleontological names, their detailed expressions captured in the miniature replicas he creates — everything must be done just right. No reference books are used.

Seetoh’s design is part of the school’s Artist Development Programme, which was formed in 2011. The mentoring programme allows professional artists to work with Pathlight’s students to nurture their creative talents and showcase their work.

Ms Ho is an adviser to the Autism Resource Centre (ARC) in Singapore, which helped set up the Pathlight school. She deserves praise and respect for her unusual choice of accessory and her support for a cause.

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