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Mon, Oct 25, 2010
The New Paper
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Fearful no more
by Kwok Kar Peng

HE HAD mentioned the M word many times before and she had brushed him off each time.

When he did it again in April, television host Belinda Lee froze for a good 10 minutes.

Lee and her boyfriend were on holiday in Hong Kong when he asked her - yet again - to marry him.

The 33-year-old former MTV VJ told The New Paper: "My mind went blank, even though I sort of knew it was coming. It wasn't the first time he's proposed.

"I was afraid because marriage is a big commitment. I'm an 'antique' (in my thinking), so divorce is not an option and I have to be very selective."

The host of the second season of the Channel 5 reality series RenovAID said she has always been apprehensive about getting married.

But she decided to take the plunge.

It took a lot of courage, Lee admitted, as she was afraid that her boyfriend wasn't the right guy for her and that their feelings for each other might change over time.

The TV star is still coy about her beau. He is a Singaporean hotel interior designer in his 30s and is known only as Mr Lee.

The couple have been dating for 4½ years since being introduced by a mutual friend.

Lee explained why she had turned down his many proposals: "I lost faith in marriage because of my friends' failed marriages and also of the articles I read in the papers."

Still, she kept reminding herself not to lose faith in love.

She finally said yes to Mr Lee when she realised how much she loved him. "If I didn't love him, I would have just told him right off that I wasn't interested. I wouldn't have stayed with him for so long, too," she said.

In an interview with Shin Min Daily News, Lee said she was touched that Mr Lee - whom she affectionately calls "sweetheart" - had designed the diamond engagement ring she has been wearing since June.

She added: "He spoke about marriage several times over the years we were together, but I always turned him down.

"He told me that if I continue to reject him, he wouldn't be able to love me with all his heart...If I don't take a step forward, I'll always be trapped in my fear."

Perhaps her fear of commitment was because a former boyfriend had cheated on her.

Broken relationship

In 1999, The New Paper reported that Lee, then 22, was involved in a dispute with another woman, who claimed that Lee was dating her boyfriend.

The two women got into a slapping match which eventually ended up in court.

But Lee said she believes she has found The One.

She said that what she most appreciates about her fiance is the love and respect he shows her and how he makes her laugh.

She also revealed that she is usually the one to give in when they quarrel.

"It's my way of submitting to him, to tell him that he's the man of the house and I respect him for that," she explained.

"Even if he makes the wrong decision, it won't matter because we'll just move on from there."

And Lee isn't having pre-wedding jitters yet - possibly because the wedding date hasn't been set. She said their parents are looking for an auspicious date. It may be next year, or in 2012, she said.

Her dream wedding, she said, is one held on the beach and it doesn't have to be at an exotic location. Even East Coast Park would do, said Lee, who has lived most of her life in the eastern part of Singapore.

In fact, she doesn't even mind if it's held at an HDB void deck.

She explained: "I don't believe in extravagant weddings. What matters is that we are in love with our partner and that we really mean it when we say our vows."

She is looking forward to being an excited bride in a simple gown, Lee laughingly added.

She also hopes to wear her mum's kua, the traditional Chinese wedding outfit.

But she said she would have to lose a lot of weight because her mum was very thin when she got married.

That her mother has kept the kua since her wedding decades ago has also inspired Lee.

"I want to have my own wedding gown because I believe in keeping it. I would feel so sad if I had to rent it and return it to the bridal boutique (after the wedding)," said the TV host.

On reality show, she is host and agony aunt

SHE'S not just a television host, Belinda Lee realised while filming the second season of Channel 5's reality show RenovAID.

She also has to play agony aunt.

Said Lee: "I have to do lots of counselling...and make the profiles feel secure and comfortable." She is referring to the under-privileged families featured in the TV programme whose homes are refurbished.

The new season debuts on Sunday at 10pm on Channel 5.

Lee said she had sleepless nights worrying about one particular family whose home was very cluttered.

"I thought a lot about how to help the family, to educate them and change their mindset about hygiene," she said.

"I have to gain the families' respect and be firm as well as gentle with them...The show is more than just furniture."

Most of the families featured live in small quarters and she could empathise with their lot.

She disclosed that when she was young, her family - her parents, an elder sister and an elder brother - lived in a three-room flat near Bedok Reservoir.

The three children shared a bedroom.

Said Lee: "I felt suffocated growing up. As a teen, I yearned to have my own room and my own study table...

"My siblings and I quarrelled over space as we accumulated more books and shoes over the years."

She recalled how her brother would return from taekwondo lessons and "practise" the moves he learnt on her in their room.

The family moved to an executive flat with four bedrooms when Lee was 15. She still lives there with her parents.

Lee said she gives advice to the kids she meets on the show.

She added: "I talk to them as friends. I tell them papa and mama aren't doing very well now, so they must study hard, earn more money in the future and take good care of them...I want to influence them in whatever way I can.

"I'm a jiejie (older sister in Mandarin) who cares about them, not just an artiste who goes to their home to change their furniture."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

readers' comments
congratulations, Belinda!
Posted by lightasacloud on Tue, 26 Oct 2010 at 10:59 AM

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