Dashing dads on fatherhood

Dashing dads on fatherhood

(Clockwise from top left) Mr Bidyut Durma, Mr Ahmad Syarifullah, Mr Mervin Wee, Mr Leonard Lee and Mr Andre Huber.

SINGAPORE – Fatherhood is a journey and these five stylish dads – one of whom is also a grandfather – have navigated their share of ups and downs.

In the light of Father’s Day on Sunday, The Straits Times sits them down to talk about fears, fashion and fatherhood.

And in their musings, they are a reminder that dads – sartorially savvy or not – should be celebrated this Father’s Day and every day.

1. Ahmad Syarifullah, 32, managing director of F&B businesses Chulop and Boms & Buns

Mr Syarifullah manages his food-and-beverage businesses Chulop and Boms & Buns with his wife Syarifah Malak Aimana, 32, who is also the director of the enterprises.

The father to Selma Malika, six, and Umar Nael, four, is no stranger to style due to his past involvement in the entertainment industry.

The former singer, who has taken part in many photo shoots over the years, adds that he enjoyed experimenting with layering clothes when he was younger, but now embraces simplicity in his outfits.

Can you describe your personal style?

It would be comfort over anything else. I go for basics and try not to go over-the-top.

I’m not too adventurous when it comes to colours, so I’m always in neutral, earthy tones like whites, off-whites, greys, blacks and a bit of blue. I used to collect sneakers and wear boots like Dr Martens daily, but now I go for Vans and Crocs – they are just really comfortable.

What do you enjoy most about being a father?

Everything, really. But I guess getting to experience the kids’ milestones is the most fulfilling thing. I’m very lucky because my job doesn’t require overseas travel for long periods of time.

So I appreciate the time I have to work my schedule and plan activities around the kids’ development so I am able to watch them grow up.

What is the toughest part of being a father?

Dashing dads on fatherhood

(From left) Mr Ahmad Syarif, managing director for Chulop! and Boms and Buns, with his children Umar Nael and Selma Malika in their flat, on June 14, 2021. ST PHOTO: YONG LI XUAN

I think it was trying to understand the kids when they were really young.

The kids would wake up crying in the middle of the night and we would have to figure out what exactly they needed. So I’d say the early stages of fatherhood was the most difficult part.

But now, it’s about trying to fulfil their demands without spoiling them. With a lot more time at home, they are always asking, “What can I do now?”

We always have to generate ideas to keep them occupied, but it challenges us as parents and that’s what I love.

What are your hopes for your children?

The most important thing is to live life and be happy. I always tell my wife the real challenge is when the kids go into their primary and secondary school years because of the new pressures they will face.

I think it makes the foundation at home even more crucial, so I want to emphasise being grateful and contented with what we have now.


2. Bidyut Durma, 40s, head of innovation at DBS Bank

Dashing dads on fatherhood

DBS Head of Innovation Bidyut Dumra at his home on June 15, 2021. ST PHOTO : GAVIN FOO

At 1.88m tall, Mr Dumra towers over most people. But to his daughters – Scarlett Bae, eight, and River Jae, three – his height makes him perfect for climbing and practising amateur gymnastics on.

Married to resort-wear designer and owner of online fashion label Baebeeboo Maggie Chan, 42, he says much of his current casual-chic looks are influenced by his wife.

And though his style has changed over the years, he admits there are still a few pieces of clothing buried in his closet to remind him of his “bad-boy biker” days.

Can you describe your personal style?

When I was growing up in India, my style aspiration was AA – all American.

When I went to Australia to study, I moved into another phase of my life – BB or bad-boy biker.

And now in Singapore, I think I’ve moved on to CC, which is cool and casual.

My wife has had a huge influence on my style. She says: “I look at you more than you look at yourself, so it makes more of a difference to me what you look like.”

So who knows? Next year, if we catch up, I might be on DD which could be something completely different.

What is the toughest part of being a father?

Dashing dads on fatherhood

DBS Head of Innovation Bidyut Dumra with his wife Maggie Chan and their two daughters Scarlett Bae and River Jae, in their home, on June 15, 2021. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

There are two words I find tough.

One is “ouchie”. When the little ones say “ouchie”, you want to just solve the problem and sometimes you can’t. But the fact that they are in that state of ouchie-ness is tough to handle.

The other word I find very tough is “please”. I’ve got two little girls and as much as I try not to be a softie, I can’t help it.

So these two words I dread the most create the situations that I find toughest to respond to.

How has fatherhood changed you?

I suppose the word to use would be “selfless”. Fatherhood has really taught me to put someone else before myself.

There are things I never thought I would do that I’ve found myself doing. For instance, when the kids were sleeping with us in the bedroom, I remember because I didn’t want to wake them, I’d end up using the toilet sitting down. And I’d think: “Hang on, men don’t do this.”

But as a father, these are just some of the little things we do.

What are your hopes for your children?

I like this quote that says: “It’s not what you leave them that will make them great, it’s what you leave in them.”

Personally, my two metrics of time well spent is how much I’ve learnt and how much I’ve laughed. So whenever I’m at a crossroads, that sort of steers me.

For them, I hope they are able to discover their happiness and values and have the courage to live by those. Also, I never want them to lose their ability to look at the world with wonder and laugh with no consideration.


3. Leonard Lee, 48, interior designer

Dashing dads on fatherhood

Managing Director of dwp Leonard Lee in his condo on June 15, 2021. ST PHOTO: YONG LI XUAN

Married to Ms Rachel Lim, co-founder of the local fashion label Love, Bonito and father to six-month-old Oliver, Mr Lee says he may be late to the fatherhood game but the experiences remain priceless.

With work-from-home as the default now, he has more time to watch his son grow and be a part of his daily routines like baths and meal times.

Can you describe your personal style?

I’m not afraid of colour and I like details because of my line of work in interior design. I prefer subtle tones and pairing them to make an outfit work. For example, wearing a denim shirt with a pair of deep burgundy trousers.

I’ve also recently got a lot of my outfits tailored because I like it when clothes complement your figure.

What do you enjoy most about being a father?

Dashing dads on fatherhood

(From right) Leonard Lee, Managing Director of dwp, his six-month-old son Oliver Lee, and his wife Ms Rachel Lim, co-founder of Love, Bonito, in their condo on June 15, 2021. ST PHOTO: YONG LI XUAN

There’s really nothing like it – it’s a huge responsibility, but also such a privilege to be able to bring up this precious life.

It’s the little moments like when I bathe him and I see that he’s just something so precious in my hands. It’s an indescribable feeling.

What is the toughest part of being a father?

Every month brings something different. So, for me, the toughest part is trying to understand Oliver’s needs and how his mind and body are changing. But as he grows, there are some clearer signs like when he’s upset or there’s something making him uncomfortable, he’ll pull his ears.

What are your hopes for your child?

My wife and I hope he will never lose his sense of wonder. We want him to always be curious about things and to always ask questions.

My greatest fear is not being able to see him walk down the aisle with his beautiful bride, so separately, that’s something I hope I’ll be able to experience.


4. Mervin Wee, 62, managing director of Jean Yip Group

Dashing dads on fatherhood

Managing Director of Jean Yip Group Mervin Wee in his home on June 15, 2021. ST PHOTO: YONG LI XUAN

Most people are familiar with Mr Wee as one-half of the beauty consortium Jean Yip Group. But much less is known of him as a father and grandfather.

Married to Ms Jean Yip, 62, chairman and namesake of the Jean Yip Group, Mr Wee has three children – Cheryl, 33, Rachel, 32, and Russell, 26 – and three grandchildren aged between one and three, with one more on the way.

Crowned Most Stylish Man at the Singapore Tatler Fashion Awards in 2019, he says his fashion is continually inspired by the people and architecture around him, among other things.

Can you describe your personal style?

It is about self-expression. I like loose, relaxed clothing, but I also like to mix and match pieces.

From when I was in primary school, I remember liking to change my hairstyles and trying out different clothing styles.

My wife and two daughters also have great influence on my dressing. They have very good fashion sense, so I take tips from here and there.

What do you enjoy most about being a father/grandfather?

Dashing dads on fatherhood

(From left) Jean Yip Holdings General Manager Roy Fong and entrepreneur Cheryl Wee with their children, Mark and Emma, Vice President of BBTC Capital Partners Ken chen and Jean Yip Group Manager Rachel Wee with their daughter Ellery Chen, and Jean Yip Group Chairman Jean Yip with Managing Director Mervin Wee.

I’ve always loved children. They bring a lot of joy and laughter to my life.

Just a few days ago, my three-year-old grandson Mark asked me: “Gong gong, can you please switch on the TV for me?”

So I willingly did that and he said: “Gong gong, you are my best friend.”

Things like that really warm the heart, you know?

As a father, I tried to spend a lot of quality time with my kids after working almost 10 to 12 hours a day. But now as a grandfather, I have even more time with the grandkids. I can spoil them without taking responsibility, so I have the best of both worlds.

How has fatherhood changed you?

As a father, I have to set a good example for my children. Children pick up on the slightest things so I became very sensitive with my words.

I like to encourage and compliment children because I believe every child has a gift. In fact, I think it is very important to compliment children in front of their friends – it’s indirect psychology, it helps them do better.

What are your hopes for your children/grandchildren?

My philosophy is this: Every child has a gift. So I will see where their interests lie, encourage them to pursue it and compliment their efforts.

My hope for my grandkids is they grow up to be good children and, the way I see it, their parents are doing a great job of taking care of them. I just want them to be who they are and enjoy being themselves.


5. Andre Huber, 41, executive director of Huber’s Butchery

Dashing dads on fatherhood

Andre Huber at his home on June 16, 2021. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The Swiss-Chinese father to Hayley, eight, Ashley, six, and Hunter, four, may be the boss at work, but at home, he says “daddy is the fun person”.

His wife, Mrs Belinda Huber, 39, who is the director of Huber’s Butchery, spends more time at home with the kids and oversees their daily routines, he adds.

He likes sporty outfits and comfortable wear to fit his active lifestyle, but his go-to accessories remain his everose gold Rolex Cosmograph Daytona and a suave pair of shoes.

Can you describe your personal style?

Growing up, my father always taught me to make sure I over-dress rather than under-dress. But considering the weather in Singapore, I lean towards being more of a casual dresser.

Since Covid-19 struck, my personal style has shifted to becoming more sporty. I’ve started doing many of the sports I used to do when I was younger and going to the gym again, so I prefer sporty clothes that allow me to start doing my workouts any time if I need to.

What do you enjoy most about being a father?

I think I enjoy everything. I’ve fallen in love with the journey – from when they were born and 100 per cent dependent on you to look after them and enjoying the baby smells to them saying their first words and taking their first steps.

And now I can transfer knowledge and skills to them.

I also really enjoy seeing them interact with one another and seeing the family dynamics and trying to shape it.

But I think I won’t enjoy the next stage of the journey that much – when they become teenagers.

How has fatherhood changed you?

Dashing dads on fatherhood

(From left) Hunter, Andre Huber, Hayley, Ashley and Belinda Huber at their home, on June 16, 2021. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

I used to be a lot more carefree, but since becoming a dad, I’ve become a lot more responsible. I know I have to be a good role model for my kids, just like how my dad was for me.

But it has also given me a sense of purpose. I now understand a lot more why I work so hard, why I had to learn all those lessons growing up that helped to shape me so I can eventually also shape my children.

At work, my brother and I try to produce food that is as clean and healthy as possible so it is something we are happy and proud to feed our kids. I’d say our mindsets at work have also changed with fatherhood.

What are your hopes for your children?

I hope they grow up to be individuals who contribute to society, no matter the profession they choose. Hopefully, they also display time-honoured traits like good ethics, integrity and discipline.

Importantly, I hope they learn how to be contented with what they have. I think that’s the secret to being happy and, since we have only this one life, it’s best to lead it as happily and fruitfully as possible.

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