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Play it Again, Doc


Play it Again, Doc!

by Guan Libing

Zest Magazine, July 1997

Dr. Kenneth Lyen is a man who strongly believes he must undergo a radical change in every decade.

"Such a move," he said, "is to invigorate me and add zeal to my life." And certainly, he has lived up to his beliefs.

Over a piping cup of coffee at Delifrance Cafeteria, he describes the projects with which he has swamped himself. All of us have a 24-hour day, but hearing Dr. Lyen rattling off his daily schedule, you would think that he is blessed with another 24 hours.

Beside running his pediatric clinic, Dr. Lyen is a prolific writer of books and songs. Last September, he wrote a 130-page book, Caring for my Baby, published by Reed International. This book is part of a series of three books, the other two titles being Caring for my Child, and Caring for my Pregnancy.

In addition, Dr. Lyen is in the midst of collating information for another book filled with photographs on baby care, titled Asian Child Care. This glossy book is expected to be launched later this year. The publication, says Dr. Lyen, is modeled along the lines of baby care books written by British authors such as Dr. Miriam Stoppard.

Dr. Lyen is also the coordinator of Junior Mensa, the children’s group within Mensa, the society for people with exceptionally high IQ. In the pipeline is yet another book about exceptional children and how parents and teachers should deal with them.

Said the amiable, gentle doctor: "I don’t mean to sound cliched, but I am doing all these projects now and not any earlier, because I have come into a phase in life where I want to undertake more creative projects.

In his younger days, he was busy studying, chasing papers, and upon graduation from medicine, he wanted to establish his career and writing academic papers.

"Somehow, one’s priorities change with time, and now I reckon that I have garnered sufficient experience in life to say something meaningful. I believe that certain types of creativity is enhanced with depth and maturity."

Actually, writing is not a new pursuit. As an undergraduate at Oxford University, he was editing the campus newsletter. In recent years, he has been contributing articles to several local children’s magazines.

His writing portfolio also includes more than 20 original research medical papers, and several books on parenting. All these projects were undertaken when he was teaching at the universities of London, Philadelphia, and Singapore.

When asked if he nursed any ambition to be a full time writer, he gave a deep chuckle. "It has always been my childhood ambition to be a doctor. Perhaps I was influenced by my father who is also a doctor. I have never thought of any other profession," he added with a wry smile.

"Likewise, I have not considered entering into full time writing. I do not see myself doing that unless I receive a windfall."

Dr. Lyen’s creativity is not limited to writing books. Apparently, there is also a musical streak in him, being trained in the piano and the violin.

He co-scripted the storyline and the music scores for local musicals, such as Big Bang!, which was staged in July 1995 to raise funds for the Margaret Drive Special School, which he founded. It took him four years to write and stage Big Bang!

This musical was recorded on compact disc, and Dr. Lyen played an active role in its production.

Unknown to many, the busy doctor has been working between 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. almost daily in his mini studio where he works with the latest computerized equipment to craft and hone his music. He has written more than 200 unpublished melodies to date.

"During these few hours, I work undisturbed and my adrenaline flows. I am glad that my wife, who is also a doctor, understand my needs, and she leaves me alone to pursue my dreams," he said proudly.

"At this point in life, I see the need to reach out to the public through the arts and aesthetics. For example, I went into writing books for Singaporeans because I felt that too many child care books have been written by western authors from their own perspective.

"We need a book written in the local context. There are so many parents who come to my clinic with so many questions."

Beside starting the Margaret Drive Special School and the Balestier Special Schools, he is also President of the Rainbow Centre. "I see the importance of helping these children who cannot help themselves," he explained.

An avid reader with varied tastes ranging from medical journals, lifestyle magazines and novels, Dr. Lyen describes himself as having a cosmopolitan outlook.

"There are so many things I want to do, and I won’t be satisfied until I accomplish them all!"