Category Archives: Anak Perak

Corporate Matchmaker to the Poor and Marginalised


By See Foon Chan-Koppen

Anak Perak - Peggy WongFor someone to whom giving is second nature, Dr Peggy Wong came beaming into the restaurant bearing gifts for the three of us. Coming to Ipoh from KL just for the day, the fact that she even had time to think about a ‘little something’ Chinese New Year gift during her short sojourn here and I wasn’t even meant to join them for lunch, warmed me to her immediately. Interviewing this chirpy, upbeat, respected global entrepreneur, socialite and philanthropist was not only smooth sailing but an uplifting experience as she regaled us with anecdotes about her philanthropic work and the adventures that it brought into her life.

Dr Peggy Chan. Wong has successfully built many businesses, but meeting children from underprivileged circumstances had such an impact on her that her focus now is on helping children in need.

Some of these children do not even have one meal a day. Some walk for 2 hours to go to school and 2 hours back home again. There are children who go to school for only 14 days a year, as and when their parents can afford the boat fare. And there are those who carry a precious pair of shoes on their back and wear them only when they reached school.”

Thus Dr Wong started Living Hope in May 2007 as a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative to bring both awareness and resources to these children. Since that time, Dr Wong has travelled all over Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, to meet these children, understand their plight and bring much needed help in terms of donations that go towards the feeding and education programmes that she has set up. She firmly believes that education is the one and only way out of the vicious cycle of poverty.

A former banker with an international bank, she founded her own group of companies in Malaysia and Singapore, which is involved in joint ventures, investments and strategic alliances. She was the Charter President of the Kiwanis Club of Bukit Bandaraya, a member of the Kuala Lumpur Speakers’ Club, former panel advisor of the Women’s Institute of Management, a life member of the Harvard Alumni of Malaysia, Harvard Business School Alumni and member of the Corporate Malaysia Roundtable, a prestigious private sector think-tank.

Serving the poor and needy is in her DNA. Dr Wong comes from an Ipoh family of philanthropists. Her grandfather, a Chinese physician, gave free medicine to the migrant workers who came by boat to Malaysia from China. Her father is Chan Chee Keong, an industrialist who brought in several industries in the 70s and also a millionaire and philanthropist. He continued giving free medicine to the needy and helped build Chinese schools in Perak. One of our Ipoh roads is named after him. Dr Wong who was born and educated in Ipoh, followed her father in his charitable activities and it was ingrained in her to serve the underprivileged during her early years.

Her charitable works include her contributions to WWF, Kosovo war victims, J.E. victims, old folks’ homes, spastic children, orphanages and families of the blind in Malaysia and internationally.

Her life is driven by three basic principles: to be a blessing to others as God has blessed her; that it is more blessed to give than to receive and her fervent belief that we come into this world with nothing and will go away with nothing. Along the way, we ought to help the poor and needy.

Often teased by her friends and nicknamed the ‘Corporate Matchmaker’ Dr Wong tirelessly acts as a go-between the rich and famous and the poor. “My corporate and business connections give me access to ‘big guns’ who need help in seeking out deserving causes to support. So the best thing is both parties are happy,” she bubbles.

Living Hope has started the “One Egg-One Child” programme which provides breakfast or lunch for children from hard-core poor families, who go to school without meals on school days. It has also launched the “Educate a Child” programme by sourcing and donating school uniforms, shoes and socks, school bags, books, stationery and other educational needs.

“I prefer to deal directly with the donors and recipients. After they have established the initial contact and donation, they continue on their own and provide me with feedback. I encourage them to make personal visits or check these recipients out for themselves. I earn nothing from this except the satisfaction that I have helped some people alleviate their problems,” she said.

To let  marginalised children know that ‘someone out there cares’ as stated in their Mission statement, Living Hope has also successfully set up Channel of Hope Distribution Program and the Toy and Book Library (TBL). To date, Living Hope has touched the lives of more than 27,200 children in every single state in Malaysia as well as some in Singapore, India, China and Philippines.

Driven by a personal vision to do her part to alleviate the suffering of these children and applying her corporate wisdom, she has dedicated herself to being an instrument to bring living hope and love to these little ones. Since starting Living Hope, Dr Wong has been to places she has never imagined and touched the lives of people she never knew existed. Her greatest joy is seeing the smiles on the faces of children who have only known hunger and poverty.

“And we have only just begun. There is so much more to do and so many more people to help,” she concluded.

Dr Wong is a well sought after public speaker and author of popular Life’s Little Secrets series of Hope, Inner Peace, Love and Wisdom.

Any person or organisation wishing to help, contribute or donate, Dr Peggy Wong can be reached at:

Dato’ Daniel Tay, A Modest Leader Who Cares


By See Foon Chan-Koppen

Dato' Daniel Tay

Dato’ Daniel Tay is a modest man. When I suggested that I interview him for my Anak Perak column, he hemmed and hawed like a girl who has just received a marriage proposal and finally relented after persistent cajoling on my part.

“My friends will roll in the aisles with laughter. I am not famous or a celebrity, why me?” he said. “Well it’s not just your myriad activities and involvement with the many NGOs and your serving as councillor and now city councillor for more than 12 years, but its your caring for people and your modesty that touches me and I feel that the people in Ipoh deserve to learn more about you,” I counter argued and finally won the day.

Dato’ Daniel is a Perakean through and through. Born in 1955, he attended ACS in Sitiawan school throughout his school years and has the distinction of being in the first batch of Form 6 students from the school. He qualified as a Barrister from Lincoln’s Inn London in 1978. He was called to the Bar in 1979 and commenced legal practice. In 1980, he was appointed as a magistrate in Ipoh and served in the legal and judicial service until he resumed legal practice and started his own small law firm in 1982 specializing in criminal law then; which has now grown into a substantial firm with six partners and more than ten lawyers doing general practice.

Serious City Councillor

As a City Councillor, Dato’ Daniel takes his responsibilities very seriously. Appointed by the Menteri Besar, he occupies one of two seats for the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in the City of Ipoh and has responsibility for Zone 8 which comprises Lim Garden, Taman Merdeka and surrounding areas. Dato’ Daniel makes himself readily accessible to his constituents in dealing with short-term issues like SLR – sampah (rubbish), longkang (drains) and rumput (grass). Longer term issues which require careful planning such as installing additional street lamps, dangerous bends in roads and flooding, he handles with the appropriate authorities involved. Judging by one incident involving cow dung outside one of his constituent’s house and the alacrity with which he handled the issue with MBI which was reported in issue 118 of the Ipoh Echo, one can safely say that Dato’ Daniel is a man of action.

Civic Activities

His list of activities and civic involvements is legendary. He has just begun his third term as President of the Ipoh Swimming Club; his ninth year as President of the YMCA of Ipoh. He also serves as VP of the Malaysian National Council of YMCAs; VP of the People’s Progressive Party Perak, Committee member (previous secretary) of the Council of Justices of the Peace in Perak, Board member of Sekolah Methodist ACS Ipoh and Chairman of the Bercham Methodist Church.

As President of the Ipoh Swimming Club, he was waxing lyrical about the eight renovated rooms, two of them suites, at the club which are now available for rent as bed and breakfast at very reasonable rates. Renovation plans have been drawn up for the whole club and so far, only additional badminton courts have been put in. As for the rest of the renovation plans, he being the democratic leader that he is, will take comments from all members before proceeding.

In the case of the YMCA, under his leadership over the past nine years, many in the community have benefited from the many classes and events which have been organised under his leadership over the past 10 years. Now in November he and his committee have put together what promises to be an exciting competition involving the young. Entitled ‘Ipoh Also Got Talent’, the competition will be a take-off on the ever popular TV series which has taken the world by storm in many countries. Scheduled for a grand finals on December 3, the event will showcase both Ipoh and Perak’s talents.

Keen Sportsman

A keen sportsman, Dato’ Daniel played tennis for Perak for many years, winning the Doubles Champion and singles runner-up titles for three years in the late 80s. Retiring from competitive tennis saw him honing his skills on the golf course where he played with a handicap of 19. In badminton he is the reigning doubles champion (above 50 category) of the Ipoh Swimming Club. An injury to his shoulder has now stopped him from pursuing his favourite sports but he maintains his interest and lends his experience serving as Vice President of the Perak Lawn Tennis Association.

Spiritual Pursuits

An epiphany around the age of 40 saw Dato’ Daniel take a spiritual turn in his life. He decided to deepen his faith and pursue a course of study which resulted in his obtaining a Master of Ministry from a local seminary in the year 2000. He then took on the additional role of lay preacher, another role which he plays very passionately. “I felt called to heal my relationships as father, husband, son, friend and civic member of society,” he confided. Adding, “My favourite theme in my preaching is to awaken people to their mortality and in preparation we must accumulate as much good that we can do for all the people in our lives,” he added.

When asked about his philosophy of life, he said, “I believe in being transparent as I travel on this journey. I have no qualms in exposing my weaknesses and sharing who I am, warts and all as I do my best to help others on the same journey.”

Dato’ Daniel and his wife Siew Phaik have three children. Ipoh is proud to count Dato’ Daniel Tay as one of its august Anak Perak.

Prodigal Son’s Return Set To Make Waves


By See Foon Chan-Koppen

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Lee Eye Centre’s newly acquired Wavelight Refractive Suite, a state-of-the-art laser vision-correction platform and the first of its kind in Asia, is putting Ipoh on the map for eye care and vision correction. The person behind this move has been quietly making waves (forgive the pun) in the ophthalmology scene since his return to Perak two years ago.

Dr. Lee Mun Wai, scion of renowned Dato’ Dr. Lee Yooi Chyun who started the Lee Eye Centre 37 years ago, has come home to roost and is bringing his expertise in retinal surgery to the people of Perak. As the only Fellowship-trained retinal surgeon in Perak, Dr. Lee has gone to great lengths to acquire his expertise in this very specialised area of eye care.

His medical training has been long and arduous, graduating from the University of Manchester with an MBchB in 1998, accepted by the Royal college of Ophthalmologists, UK with an MRCOpth in 2003; the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (FRCS) in the same year and by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 2009 (FRCSEd Ophth).

Various positions in the UK eventually led him to the Singapore National Eye Centre where he was Resident in Ophthalmology for three years.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Dr. Lee decided to further his in-depth study on his favourite subspecialty, retinal surgery, and spent a year in Perth, Australia in a Clinical Vitreoretinal Fellowship under the mentorship of the world-renowned retinal expert, Professor Ian Constable at the Lions Eye Institute.

Returning to the Singapore National Eye Centre after his retinal fellowship and a short stint as Associate Consultant, the yearning for his roots became too strong and he finally moved back to Ipoh to join his father in the now flourishing Lee Eye Centre in Persiaran Greentown.

Singapore’s loss is Perak’s gain as Dr. Lee settled back in his hometown after an absence of 23 years. “I’ve been away since the age of 12, first schooling in Singapore and medical training in the UK. I have always loved my visits back home to Ipoh which was at least twice a year and it feels really good to be back here,” said Dr. Lee.

What he was too modest to add was that being the only Fellowship-trained retinal surgeon in Perak, he is providing an invaluable service for people here with eye emergencies like retinal detachment, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease and other eye diseases requiring specialist intervention.

“The retina is one the most important area of what comprises the eye. I liken it to film in the camera, without which even the best lenses in the world cannot develop the picture. A common affliction that I see often is diabetic eye disease. It is the leading cause of blindness in the working-age group in Malaysia.”

“The macula is part of the retina and is the most important part. A part of my mission is to teach people to go to their eye doctor for a check up regularly especially as they reach their forties. Public Education is poor about the far reaching consequences of uncontrolled diabetes and diabetic eye disease; the sooner caught, the better the chances for halting its progress as unchecked, it can lead to blindness.”

“So what persuaded you to return to Ipoh where most young people shun it, instead of opting for the bright lights of the big cities?” I asked. “Well the Lee Eye Centre set up by my father was certainly a big lure. We are a fully-equipped and fully-staffed eye hospital where we can deal with medical eye emergencies as efficiently as any of the big ones. In fact our equipment is highly sophisticated, on par with some of the best in Asia. The recent acquisition of the Wavelight Refractive Suite is a case in point. This platform is streets ahead of the game in terms of speed, accuracy and versatility. When I came back here I saw that more and more people especially the Baby Boomers, wanted to be free of wearing glasses and so we’re catering to this niche. However, on the more serious diseases of the eye, I felt that I could make a difference by bringing my training and expertise back here to assist the people of Perak.”

And what of your vision for the future? “I used to do a lot of research work and have been widely published in prestigious medical journals but since my return I have been totally caught up in clinical work. However, I’m still compiling data and documenting our work so that in the future I see Ipoh being a hub for eye health where we can share our experience, not only in clinical services but as a centre for research.” he replied.

Ipoh Echo welcomes this Anak Perak back to its fold and may more people here benefit from his return.

Queen of Nursing Homes Worried over Manpower Freeze

Anak Perak
By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

She came bearing gifts of delicious pastries from her son’s cake shop the Deli Garden, a caring gesture that is revealing of Nancy Chang Hong Chee PJK, P.P.T.’s temperament and vocation. Amongst those in the know, she’s the ‘Nursing Home Queen’ a well-deserved accolade for a lady who has established and now runs a dozen nursing homes around Perak and one in Kuala Lumpur.

Teacher for Deaf and Dumb

Running Nursing Homes is a second career for Nancy, having been a handicapped teacher for the Deaf and Dumb for most of her life. Nancy, who hails from Sitiawan, trained as a regular teacher, and because she always had a predilection of caring for the sick, the infirm and the handicapped, she underwent further training, resulting in her being not only a specialist teacher for the Deaf and Dumb, but for years, she acted as a court interpreter for them.

From 1979 till 1992, Nancy taught at Pasir Puteh Sekolah Raja Di-Hilir. Her optional retirement in 1992 left her in a quandary: too energetic to sit around and be idle and yet in dilemma as to what else to pursue. So Nancy prayed for Divine guidance and the answer came to her to help old folks. The rest as they say is history.

First Home

Nancy persuaded a few nurses to partner with her and opened her first nursing home in Jalan Tambun with nine rooms and only one helper. It was tough going at first as people in Ipoh had trouble digesting the concept of sending their parents to a nursing home. For the first few months there were only two or three patients but slowly and surely the idea of nursing care for the elderly gained acceptance and by 1994, Nancy was confident enough to venture off on her own and set up the Carevilla home in Greentown on 1st Street, which subsequently moved to Lebuh Ceylon.

Carevilla was the first nursing home to be registered with the Welfare Ministry and since then, she’s been opening homes at a rapid rate, all of which are registered or in process. Currently she admits to having lost count of the exact number of homes in her group most of whom were set up with different partners who manage the day-to-day running and logistical details. Of these, Nancy is the sole owner of three but she assumes an overall administrative role for all the homes.

Rapid Growth

Today, Nancy runs homes in Teluk Intan (2), Sitiawan (1) and Kuala Lumpur (1) and closer to home, Bercham, Westpool Park, Pasir Puteh, Victoria Park, Jalan Chung Thye Phin, Pasir Pinji, Canning Garden, Ipoh Garden, and the latest addition in Greentown.

Rates at these homes vary from RM700 to RM2,500 per month depending on the level of sophistication and whether its for dormitory, double or single rooms. The monthly fee covers all food and care provided by trained hospital attendants. Trained nurses arrange for the taking of prescribed medication for patients who require supervision and in case of emergency, all homes have access to a Doctor on call.

Care Ratio

All patients are accepted on a first come first served basis although they will not take in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia as the man-power requirements of care in these cases is astronomically high. Where the Welfare Ministry’s requirement for nursing homes is based on a ratio of one care person to 18 patients, all of Nancy’s nursing homes work on a ratio of one care person to 6-7 patients for those who are sickly, and 1 to 10 for those who are well.

Staffing Problem

When asked what were the main problems encountered in her business, Nancy said, “Our biggest problem is staffing. We used to bring in foreign help under the special service sector but since June 2009, the Ministry of Home Affairs has frozen all intake and we’re in a state of panic as to how we can provide the care for our patients.”

“To make matters worse, our current batch of foreign workers have a maximum time limit of 5 years to work, after which it is compulsory for them to return home. After we have spent our precious time and money in training them to provide the kind of care for which we’re well known”, she added. “At this rate, our elderly and infirm are being denied their right to the care that they deserve.”

Ipoh Echo hopes that the Welfare and Home Affairs Ministry will study the grave matter at hand and give care stalwarts like Nancy Chang the helping hand which she so enthusiastically offers to the elderly and the frail. For this Anak Perak, the future looks fraught with obstacles.

Dynamo Doctor


Blazes Trail in Leadership and Service
They say that actions speak louder than words and when the entire staff and consultants of the Pantai Hospital Ipoh, conspire to throw a surprise party for CEO Dr. Dilshaad Ali, going to great lengths to track down old classmates, teachers and colleagues for their birthday messages, you know that this young chief executive has won not only their respect but also their hearts.

Born in Taiping and with an early education in Ipoh first with La Salle School, followed by St Michael’s Institution, Dr. Dilshaad received his first medical degree from Pakistan followed by a Masters in Neurosurgery from USM. He came into his management role only two and a half years ago having practised till then. A stint as Acting CEO of Pantai Ampang in Kuala Lumpur saw him being transferred back to his hometown of Ipoh to head up Pantai Hospital here. With no previous management experience but with the encouragement and backing of then Chairman of Pantai Holdings, Tan Sri Mohamed Khatib bin Abdul Hamid, Dr. Dilshaad set about realigning the business model and re-branding the Pantai brand in Ipoh.

Good Values
With a vision of basing the whole value stream on clinical outcomes and service quality and with no training in human resources management, he intuitively knew all about creating a strong team by applying the basic values he learnt at a very young age, both from his parents as well as from the La Salle brothers from whom he received his early schooling. With a deeply ingrained motto of doing no harm and caring for his fellow-man, he set about meeting and talking to every single staff member on his arrival in Pantai Hospital Ipoh.

It is almost unbelievable that all 400 staff of the Pantai Hospital Ipoh have his personal mobile number and have permission to call him even on private issues. It is no wonder that all staff happily comply with fulfilling the new KPIs (key performance indicators) which he set, of participating in 12 social projects a year, all on a voluntary basis with no overtime.

On the subject of community projects, Dr. Dilshaad’s eyes lit up, saying, “All the work they perform on CSR (corporate social responsibility) projects just translates into better care in our hospital. The more care they show outside, the more care our patients get inside our hospital. All I do is bring out and nurture the caring side.”

Strong Drive for Caring
This strong drive for caring for his fellow man has probably been honed by the years he spent as a volunteer with Mercy Malaysia of which he is now a Life Member; where his drive and initiative soon earned him the position of Director of International Relief and a member of the Rapid Assessment Team which goes into any country requiring assistance within 24 hours.

The most poignant memory he has of his time in Afghanistan, where he spent many weeks, was that of a woman who had walked three days across the desert in Kandahar to reach medical aid. On arrival she complained of stomach pains and on further questioning revealed that she had eaten rocks to just fill her stomach to stave off hunger pangs. “That mental image of her has never left me and will always remind me of how fortunate I am – an enduring reminder for me to help others less fortunate.”

Medical Relief for Underprivileged
Today with the Pantai Hospital Ipoh in the throes of a complete make-over and new sub-specialities being added, Dr. Dilshaad has set his sights on new ground to traverse. Not content with working on an MBA which will be completed in a year and which entails his travelling to Kuala Lumpur every weekend for classes, he is in the process of spearheading the setting up of a medical relief outfit for the underprivileged in Perak. To be comprised of all volunteers, he plans to recruit doctors, nurses and laypeople to form the core team which will provide outreach assistance to more isolated areas of Perak.

He also plans to work with the Welfare Department on mentoring kids in welfare homes.

Leadership and Service Awards
With so much dynamism and so many projects in the pipeline it is little wonder that Dr. Dilshaad recently won the Leadership award category in the Asia Pacific Entrepreneur Awards, currently in its ninth year of operation. One of 47 winners from a nomination of 680 throughout the Asia Pacific region, Dr. Dilshaad has the distinction of being the youngest to receive this award. Additionally the Pantai Hospital Ipoh received the award for Service, the first hospital to receive this prestigious award, competing equally with the hospitality industry.

With so many accolades under his belt, this Anak Perak is blazing a trail through caring and sharing and Perak state can look forward to much more new ground being covered in health care and corporate social responsibility.

SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

‘Muhibbah Emcee’


I guess you have to have the ‘gift of the gab’ to be a successful Emcee and that is what K.T. Pillai has in abundance. Effervescent as a glass of champagne, one will probably have to ‘cork’ him up for him to stop talking….and in a multitude of languages at that.

Fluent in Malay, Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese dialects), Tamil and a smattering of French, and other European tongues, K.T. keeps audiences entertained with his continuous patter at functions throughout Peninsula and East Malaysia. Willing to try anything, he’s even been known to ‘rap’ with the professionals when he’s on stage and judging by one of the videos I saw on YouTube, does a pretty good job of it too.

A native Perakean, Pillai grew up in Bruas, Perak, and attended school there finishing his junior school at ACS Ipoh culminating in obtaining his Malaysian Certificate of Education (M.C.E.).

He finished his secondary school in Toronto, Canada, and went on to get a B.A degree in Marketing and Communications from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Pillai returned to Malaysia to begin working in advertising in Kuala Lumpur, returning to Ipoh in 1985 to join a local agency. In 1988 he started his own advertising and promotions company PR Project handling advertising and promotions as well as events management and he has not looked back since.

Since then, Pillai has garnered a reputation as being one of the most experienced and renowned Emcees who is also amongst the most successful in Malaysia for proven reasons and a track record that is rarely matched. His list of successful projects reads like a veritable ‘what’s what” of events and the guest list a veritable ‘Who’s Who’.

He has successfully handled numerous national-level Government Open-House Celebrations namely, the National Christmas Day Open House 2004 attended by His Majesty the King and Queen including foreign dignitaries as well as Deepavali Open House Celebration 2007 (at KL Central) & 2009 (at Port Dickson) that were attended by audiences of over 20,000 people. He also successfully handled the Tadau Kaamatan 2008 (Harvest Festival) in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, attended by the Prime Minister and several Cabinet Ministers.

He has also successfully hosted the Open House Celebrations for Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Christmas for the Perak State Government.

He has hosted a wide range of functions for the Perak Royal Family and also for Y.A. Bhg. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Y.A.Bhg. Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and current Prime Minister Y.A.B. Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak including other federal Cabinet Ministers around the country.

At state level, Pillai is the ‘priority English-language Emcee’ for the Perak Menteri Besar including the Sultan and Raja Permaisuri of Perak since 1998. Till today, he remains the preferred choice. He has also handled numerous Annual Dinners, Family Days, Conventions, Symposiums, Conferences, Gala Events, Beauty Pageants and Product Launches.

K.T. Pillai was the Official Master of Ceremonies for the highly successful national-level Miss Malaysia-Universe Grand Finale and Mrs Malaysia-World Pageant Grand Finale for the years 2001 to 2007 held in Kuala Lumpur.

Pillai’s eloquence in different local languages such as Bahasa Malaysia, English and Cantonese makes him the incomparable first choice in most major events and with some minor touches of Tamil, Mandarin and French, he has long been the firm favourite for government and important corporate functions throughout the country. It is little wonder that he is better known as the ‘Muhibbah Emcee’.

Pillai will be donating his services to the Ipoh Echo for their 100th Issue Anniversary Celebration Dinner on August 6.

Home Grown Talent Eyes the Big Time


By See Foon Chan-Koppen

They say that it runs in your genes but whether it was hearing his parents crooning day and night, or watching them perform professionally and picking up by ‘osmosis’, Iqwal Hafiz is a young singing sensation who has set his sights on recording in the USA and following in the footsteps of his idol Michael Jackson.

Teluk Intan Boy

Born and educated (at SRK St Anthony till Year 3 and then moved to KL) in Teluk Intan, Iqwal comes from an illustrious family background. His grandmother Toh Suri Wati Puan Salasiah Din, is one of the 32 Orang Besar in Perak and was the first woman football referee in Malaysia and Asia. His grandfather, Khairuddin Hj Ahmad, currently a college lecturer, was a teacher and active in Perak football and was deputy president of the Perak Football Association. His mother Normin Shah Khairuddin @ Myn used to sing professionally and is the guiding hand that has brought Iqwal to his current position, at the tender age of 18, to being acknowledged as one of the top stars in the performing arts in Malaysia.

Began Singing at 4

The journey of success into the world of show business of this young talent began when he was only four years old. The dramatic rise of this super young talent has been breathtaking. He had recently made Malaysia proud by winning four gold medals, one silver medal and one Hollywood Industry Award in the World Championship of Performing Arts (WCOPA) in Los Angeles in five vocal categories which includes Pop, Rock, Contemporary, Open Style, Original Work. Over 5,000 artists from 48 countries participated in the WCOPA. Iqwal was selected twice to represent Malaysia in the WCOPA.

In August 2008, Iqwal was again invited to represent Malaysia at ‘The Best New Talent Award’ at Kodak Theatre, Los Angeles, where he was crowned ‘The Best International Artist’ by defeating other participants from USA, Philippines, Guatemala, Africa, Mexico and Jamaica, to name a few.

14-Language Talent

Iqwal has created his mark by being the first Malaysian to perform at the Kodak Theatre, Los Angeles. This young talent, not only can dance well, but also sings in 14 languages: Italian, Spanish, Mexican Latin, Tagalog, Arabic, Hindi, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Tamil, Malay and English.

His first singing attempt was at the age of four when his mom, first discovered his exceptional talent. He got support from Ali Mpire (ex-XPDC vocalist) and Mel Wings (ex-Wings vocalist). His hardworking mom, Myn had exposed him to International music, singing competitions and enrolled him in a prominent music school to polish his skills. Since then he has performed along side famous artists like: M. Nasir, Ramli Sarip, Zainal Abidin, Faizal Tahir, Nash, Aishah and Mawi, in various concerts such as Citrawarna Malaysia, Malaysian Water Festival, Citrarasa Malaysia, Festival Gendang Malaysia, Di Ambang Merdeka and Masrah Hijrah Concert, to name a few. He also performs for most of Berita Harian and Harian Metro events such as: Karnival Jom Heboh TV3, Anugerah Bintang Popular, Fiesta Media Idola, GP Joran & Perkampungan Hadhari, as a resident artist and has done so since he was 11 years old.

Composing Since 12

Iqwal has been composing songs since he was 12; one entitled, ‘Secangkir Kasih’ which he performs with Dayang Nabila. With two albums published – Iqwal ‘09 & Iqwal 1Malaysia, he has set his sights on more achievements. He is in the ‘Malaysian Book of Records’ for ‘First Artist to compose 1Malaysia songs in 6 languages’ (Malay, English, Mandarin, Tamil, Iban & Kadazan) and he has a grand plan to gather all the artists originally from Teluk Intan such as Jamal Abdillah, Shidee, Zahid, Dato’ M Daud Kilau,  to perform  at the leaning tower of Teluk Intan.

Iqwal is not one to rest on his laurels. To improve his standing in the entertainment world, he will continue to compose and follow in the footsteps of his idols: Sudirman and Michael Jackson, aspiring to succeed like them. Firstly he wants to record an English song in America. Many would be cynical at his ambitions but for him “nothing is impossible if one continues to pursue one’s dreams”.

Iqwal will be performing at Ipoh Echo’s 100th issue Anniversary celebrations at the Impiana Hotel on August 6. It promises to be an exciting event.

Websites: or

Dato’ Yeoh Kian Teik – Legal Stalwart and Transport Mogul


By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

When one of your 18 children is an international superstar, you have every reason to rest on your laurels but not Dato’ Yeoh Kian Teik, father of Bond girl Datuk Michelle Yeoh and one of Ipoh’s most loyal residents. Where his six other siblings have flourished elsewhere, Kian Teik remained behind in Ipoh, carrying on his father’s transportation business and becoming a transportation mogul in his own right.

Kian Teik is a second-generation Yeoh to call St Michael’s Institution his alma mater, his whole family from his father to all his five brothers being alumni. From high school, Kian Teik went on to study law at Lincoln’s Inn in the UK, returning to Ipoh to start his legal practice and continue in the transport industry in which his father was a founding member in 1937 and responsible for setting up of the town bus. He remained as a Director on the three transport companies, the General Omnibus, Kinta Omnibus and Reliance Omnibus for many years. Kian Teik set up Sri Maju, an executive coach service, in 1975 with the Ipoh-Singapore routing. Today Sri Maju plies the highways from Haadyai, Thailand, in the north to Singapore in the south with many stops at major cities and towns in between.

Less Hectic Lifestyle

In a career that spans almost sixty years, Kian Teik who is now 84, can still be seen at his desk at the Sri Maju’s office in Jalan Bendahara taking care of business as his staff walk in and out demanding his attention on various matters. His law firm is now in the hands of one of his daughters and Kian Teik who was Chairman of the Perak Bar Association on and off for many years, says he doesn’t miss practicing law and now prefers a less hectic lifestyle, working mornings and spending his afternoons on leisure activities which may include playing mahjong and hobbies around fish, whether sea fishing or breeding and watching aquarium fish.

“The only thing I miss about my law practice is the legal fights I used to have with the Seenivasagam brothers, be it in court or in the political arena”, he admitted. “It was thoroughly enjoyable – total no-holds-barred-battles – and we would remain good friends in and out of the courts”, he added.

Computer Savvy

The day I visited Kian Teik in his office, he was sitting at his desk peering into his computer. “No fear of technology for this 84 year-old” I thought to myself, and went on to discover that this is his way of staying in touch with his pan-global family of 18 children and 39 grandchildren, the fruit of a colourful personal life. “I started using a computer when I bought a computer for one of my grandsons who was six years old at the time. He became my computer coach and today I communicate with my extended family, aside from family gatherings, through email and Skype.”

Significant Moments

When asked about significant moments in his long and illustrious career as one of the legal stalwarts of Ipoh, Kian Teik proudly pointed to a framed photograph on the wall beside him and said, “meeting with Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1970”, further identifying Tun Sambanthan and Tun Razak and Tun Ismail in the same picture.
He was active in the MCA for many years adding that “in those days, we had to take money out of our own pockets to support the party”. He was also a Member of the Senate from 1959 till 1969.  Kian Teik is particularly proud of his role in ensuring that nomination papers for both State and general elections were always properly filled out and no seats were ever lost in Perak, unlike what happened in some other states, owing to faulty nomination papers. This was a responsibility he fulfilled till 1995 and to date the untarnished record still exists as testimony to his meticulous stewardship.

Humble Homily

When questioned on the oft touted topic of his influence on the career of his celebrity daughter Michelle Yeoh, he modestly demurred and said, “Her talent speaks for itself. All I have ever emphasised to her is to be humble and friendly. That no matter how successful she becomes on the world stage, to remember that we’re all born equal and there is no need to be high and mighty. I teach all my children this same homily”. And judging by the few exchanges I’ve had with Michelle Yeoh, I can certainly vouch for the efficacy of Kian Teik’s teaching to his daughter for she is without doubt one of the most down-to-earth superstars one could ever have the pleasure of meeting. An abiding legacy from one of Ipoh’s living legends.

Julie Song Does Perak Proud


By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

Julie Song

Well she’s done it again. Not one for resting on her laurels, Julie Song, Ipoh’s own restaurateur/chef extraordinaire has once again helped put Ipoh on the culinary and tourist map. Known for scooping up culinary honours at the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards (HAPA) one of Asia’s most prestigious awards for the Food and Beverage Industry, Julie is now wowing Enrich Platinum passengers on board Malaysia Airlines around the world and hopefully have them burning up tyres in their haste to get to Ipoh for more of her Modern European cuisine for which her restaurant cum Boutique Hotel is famous.

Collaboration with MAS

Julie is known for her innovative and highly creative dishes, serving posh nosh to Ipohites and visitors who come from all over the world to stay at her luxury boutique hotel with its seven themed rooms. This latest collaboration with Malaysian Airlines will be yet another feather in her culinary cap, a secret which she has cherished since the beginning of the year, travelling to Kuala Lumpur on a weekly basis to work on the menu and train the chefs at both the Sky Chefs and Malaysian Airlines kitchens.

Julie, as a previous article in issue 65 has highlighted, is a self-made chef, whose passion for cooking has been honed to a fine art. An eclectic career saw her begin working life as a successful model, after having obtained a degree in mathematics. Marriage and three children later brought her often into the kitchen where she experimented and created her own unique dishes, fantasy concoctions that tease the eye and tantalise the palate.

Chef-On-Call Menu

Now that the Chef-On-Call menu with Julie Song is up and running, she is hoping that the resultant publicity and the taste and presentation of the various dishes will further heighten the curiosity of international gourmets the world over and nudge them to discover the culinary treasures of Ipoh and bring them here to taste not only Indulgence’s food but also the huge variety of delectable fare for which Ipoh is famous.

Lamb Loin with tomato-olive relish

Chef-on-Call as the service on Malaysian Airlines is called, is available to Enrich Platinum members flying Business and First Class between Kuala Lumpur and Europe and Australia. Passengers will have to call 24 hours before their flight to book their meal from a menu of 25 dishes. Top in her list of recommendations are the stuffed chicken roulade with caramelised onions, tender lamb loin with paprika-dusted pumpkin, and Miso soup with crab gnocchi and coriander. And of course there is a choice for different ethnic tastes as oriental dishes also feature significantly on the menu.

Avocado salad with caramelised pecans

Being a perfectionist at heart, Julie goes to great lengths to ensure that the preparation of her dishes is executed perfectly by the chefs at the catering kitchens. Chefs have been flying in to Kuala Lumpur from all over the Malaysian Airlines network to learn some of the cooking techniques and presentation of the dishes. She introduced new cooking techniques like baking fish in parchment paper and wrapping rice in lotus leaves to ensure that food stays moist during the reheating process on the plane. To this end, she has even flown many sectors just to check out the quality of her dishes when they are served to the passenger. Her other emphasis is on eye appeal of the dishes and she has also spent time working with the cabin crew who will be serving the dishes.

Creating Awareness for Ipoh

“I have often been asked why I haven’t opened a branch of Indulgence in Kuala Lumpur. I am an Ipohite and this is my way of creating awareness for Ipoh. Most of the top restaurants in the world are seldom at one’s doorstep. A little distance creates mystique, a frisson of adventure and a reason for an outing”, she said. “The more awareness I create for Indulgence, the more international travellers will want to visit Ipoh.”

She is correct in her assessment if we were to look at some of the Michelin-star restaurants scattered around the world. Build a reputation, serve superb food and the world’s foodies will beat a path to your door. “Look at Heston Blumenthal whose restaurant the Fat Duck has been on the number 1 list in the world for the past three years. It’s quite a drive to get out to Bray where the restaurant is situated and yet, the restaurant is booked out 3 months in advance”, Julie added.

Ipoh is proud to have Julie Song as an Anak Perak.

Ipoh Girl Wins Prestigious Women’s Health Award

Dr Danielle Wilkins, Women's Health Discipline Coordinator in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, presented the award to Balveena

A fourth-year medical student from Ipoh, Balveena Dhaliwal, won the 2009 RANZCOG (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) Women’s Health Award.

Balveena, 23, who is in the MBBS programme at Monash University’s Sunway campus, was recognised for her clinical excellence.

She obtained the highest mark of any student in the Monash medical curriculum for clinical skills in women’s health, as determined by the Observed Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) and in-semester academic grading.

Senior Deputy Dean and Deputy Dean (International) Professor Leon Piterman praised Balveena’s achievement and the significance of the award going to a student at Sunway campus.

“Monash in Malaysia is unique in offering the only Bachelor of Medicine / Bachelor of Surgery programme delivered outside Australia or New Zealand that is fully accredited by the Australian Medical Council”, Professor Piterman said.

“Balveena has demonstrated through winning this prestigious national award that the commitment to achieving excellence at Monash extends across all campuses.”

Professor David Healy, head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology based at Monash Medical Centre in Clayton, Australia, expressed his delight at Balveena’s performance receiving recognition by RANZCOG, the professional college dedicated to the establishment of a high standard of practice in obstetrics and gynaecology and women’s health.

“Monash is at the forefront of research into women’s health, and from a teaching perspective, the ability for students to acquire superior physical examination skills through exposure to operating theatres and special clinics is of particular importance.

“Balveena has excelled in this area and we are all very proud of her achievement, a first for a student from our Malaysian campus,” he added.

A special presentation was held in Melbourne for Faculty friends and colleagues to celebrate Balveena’s award, attended by her mother, Mrs Naminder Dhaliwal.

Balveena is the eldest of the three children of Pantai Hospital Ipoh’s resident Paediatrician Dr. Kuldeep Dhaliwal. She was born in Ipoh and did her early education in Main Convent. She hopes to be a gynaecologist.