Stories about ordinary Malaysians (The Star) and Books by Ipoh Writers (Ipoh Echo)

Thanks so much for the lovely writeups, Amanda and Mei Kuan :)

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Link to Star article here:
http://www.thestar.com.my/Metro/Community/2015/05/18/Stories-about-ordinary-Malaysians-Wongs-book-aims-to-inspire-others-to-perform-acts-of-kindness/

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Link to Ipoh Echo article here: http://www.ipohecho.com.my/v3/article/2015/05/16/books-by-ipoh-writers

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Posted in Alexandra Wong, Author, Book, Book launch, Ipoh Echo, Made in Malaysia, The Star | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Malay Mail Online: “We are all made in Malaysia”

I’ve been a secret admirer of Kenny Mah‘s writing for a while now, so I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I found out that the MMO journo doing the interview was going to be him.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 — “Being Malaysian isn’t about one size fits all,” says Alexandra Wong, author of Made in Malaysia: Stories of Hometown Heroes and Hidden Gems.

She should know.

Her articles, including her popular Navel Gazer column in The Star, have been compiled into a collection of tales that show what it means to be truly Malaysian.

From a former nuclear scientist from France who has made Malaysia his second home to family life in an Iban longhouse, Wong digs deep into the lives of ordinary people and uncovers their remarkable stories.

“Their lives are so varied and different yet they are all uniquely Malaysian,” says Wong.

“After all, our country is a land rich in history, culture and diversity. We don’t have a single way to be Malaysian; instead, we have many, many stories.”

Wong’s own story would make for good reading. A bookworm since young, she grew up with the typical expectations that she would have to get “a real job” eventually. Writing was encouraged, but only as a hobby.

“In the mid-90s, after my Form Six and before I started at university, I joined The Sun as a cadet reporter. I covered mostly entertainment news and then the food scene. Honestly, I didn’t get paid much as a novice and I had to take several buses to work, but I really enjoyed it because it was what I wanted to be,” she says.

This early taste of the writing world made Wong long for more but, like every obedient Asian child, she continued studying and started climbing the corporate ladder soon after that.

“After graduating in English Literature from Universiti Sains Malaysia, I first worked at a non-profit organisation and followed this with a sales job at Dell for seven years. But I never gave up my dream of writing.”

In 2005 Wong left her managerial position at Dell to pursue her dream of being a full-time writer. During this period, she wrote for various national dailies and magazines while perfecting her craft.

“I was very blessed in that I made many people along the way, especially editors, who encouraged me. Right after I left Dell, I wrote about why I had quit my job. I sent the article to New Straits Times and I remember one of their editors Joan Lau liked it and even blew up the picture of my parents tending their flower garden.

“I was very moved by this and it gave me strength to continue writing.”

Another wake-up call for Wong was an accident she experienced in May 2005.

“It made me realise that life is so short; I had to pursue what I love while I am still able to. So I started ‘chasing my passion’ – as clichéd as that sounds – by writing as much and as well as I could.”

Wong became known for her heart-warming and introspective stories; even when she was writing about food and travel, she was really writing about people.

“I enjoy writing about warungs and kopitiams, and I love speaking to different people from all walks of life. Everyone has a story.”

Each “hidden gem” that Wong unearths inspires her to look for more.

For her, leading a simple life and taking public transport isn’t a sacrifice because she is happy doing what she loves.

“I remember bringing my mother to Nasi Vanggey in Ipoh. It is opened by a relative of the famous Nasi Ganja founder. The Nasi Vanggey owner, who has a degree in commerce, told my mother that I was an ‘experience millionaire’ and that impressed her!”

Wong’s tenacity as a writer is balanced by a practical and methodical work ethic.

“I will always test the viability of an article by posting it first on my blog.

“If the post garners a lot of comments, I will then expand it into a full article. This is how I can survive as a writer; I don’t sit around waiting for an acceptance letter from an editor. I keep writing and selling my work.”

Two of the people Wong had interviewed in Made in Malaysia died — the last chapter is a moving dedication to one of them — and this has reminded her yet again on how brief life can be.

“I feel the sense of urgency and my motto is to ‘try everything once’. 

“The least we can do for ourselves is to give ourselves the chance to chase our dreams and to conquer our fears.

“I used to worry I couldn’t do justice to the people I interviewed. I understand now that these are their experiences, what they went through, but what I write is told from my perspective.”

These stories that Wong tells? They are stories that can only be made in Malaysia.

Still puts a smile on my face every time. Thanks, Kenny for nailing it (as usual!); May for taking the superb photo, and Joan for the opportunity :)

Link to original article is here

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Introducing Ipoh writers – a Perak Academy event

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(L-R): Proud Ipoh mali authors and their favourite cartoonist! Dr SK Teoh, Lat, Bridget Eu, yours truly, and Jasemin Sibo

For this Ipoh-mali girl, 9 May 2015 would always be a special moment in my life as a writer.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my favourite cartoonist (make that every Malaysian’s favourite cartoonist) would be officiating the launch of my book. I’m talking about none other than Lat, of course!

And to have it happen in one of my favourite hangouts in my own hometown, attended by a whole bunch of loving friends who took the trouble to brave the sweltering sun and nightmarish parking to share this moment with me, made it even more special.

To Perak Academy, thank YOU for organizing an OUTSTANDINGLY successful event!

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For more pictures of the event, check out www.facebook.com/MadeinMalaysiabook

First writeup by Emily2U 

China Press Ipoh writers

China Press

Sin Chew Ipoh writers

Sin Chew

Oriental Daily Ipoh writers

Oriental Daily

http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v8/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=1133288

http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1413124

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/read/article/perak-academy-launches-four-books-by-local-writers

http://www.theborneopost.com/2015/05/11/perak-academy-lancar-empat-buku-ditulis-anak-jati-perak/

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On TV!

Guess who just popped her live tv cherry! 😀

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Ntv7 wanted an author to join their panel on the topic of “Happiness” for the 24 Nov 2014 show of Bella Confidential. And my publisher volunteered me – and I’d be an idiot to pass up the opportunity right? :)

In all honesty, I was freaking out until minutes before the show. After makeup, it all went by really fast. When the crew started counting down and I felt the warm glare of the lights on my face, only then did it hit me that holy crap I am stuck to this sofa for the next one hour, better not sound like an idiot!

I must say, host Lisa Wong did a really good job. It’s one thing to watch TV hosts on the screen, quite another to experience it in the flesh. Observing her in action, I could appreciate – and admire – just how fast her brain works to articulate intelligent things that hold all our disparate answers together, coax witty answers out of guests who may be tongue-tied (me-lah) and maintain an rapid-fire pace that’s timed by the second. Definitely not for the faint hearted 😛 And the next person who dares say that all entertainment personalities are bimbos will get a shelling from me!

Thanks so much ntv7, for having me on Bella Confidential!

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Things that matter

Star - Lin Rouwen.doc

Say, did anybody pick up the Star paper on 30th September and chance upon this article?

Here’s the link. 

Thanks Rouwen for the fabulous writeup :)

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Made in Malaysia, my first solo-authored book :)

Made-In-Msia-COVER (FB)

This project took me nearly nine years to complete, but it’s finally done.

Folks, meet my new baby, Made in Malaysia: Stories of Hometown Heroes and Hidden Gems :)

What’s the book about? Here’s an excerpt from MPH Publishing editor Alan KW Wong’s blogpost:

“A compilation of Alexandra Wong’s popular Navel Gazer columns in the Malaysian English-language daily The Star and other stories, Made in Malaysia: Stories of Hometown Heroes and Hidden Gems is about one woman’s journey of discovery across a historically and culturally rich and diverse land.

When Wong left her corporate job in 2005 to pursue her dream of being a writer, she didn’t expect to open a treasure chest of experiences. 

She soon made a name for the heartwarming tales of ordinary Joes and Janes in Malaysian society, all of which she’d serendipitously encountered during her travels. Each gem she uncovers inspires her to seek out more.

Culture shock and curtains of mosquitoes give way to familial warmth at an Iban longhouse. A French former nuclear scientist who embraced Malaysia as his second home makes a weekend in Gua Musang even more memorable. 

Pointers on how to be a serious and caring teacher emerge from one of her school’s naughtiest girls. And stirring displays of chivalry shine a different light upon titled and supposedly aloof public figures.

In the search for herself, Wong gets reacquainted with her homeland through the stories she’s told: stories of lives that can only be made in Malaysia.” 

… yes, this is why I’ve been so quiet. Had no idea there was so much to do for a book, but I’m enjoying every minute of it so far!

I’ll be posting major updates here but for the latest real-time news, stories and photos, the best place to go is the Facebook page I’ve officially created for the book. 

You can also listen to my interview with BFM89.9’s literary reviewer Umapagan Ampikaipakan here.

Can’t believe it. I am finally an author! :)))

Thank you to MPH Publishing Group for publishing my first book – I couldn’t have chosen a more committed publisher to work with! And to everybody who has been cheering me on all these years, big hugs to all of you!

Made in Malaysia is now available at all MPH bookstores in Klang Valley and Selangor, and will be arriving at Borders, Kinokuniya and Times, and other states very soon!

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Message Makeover – new team member!

I’m pleased to introduce a new member to the Message Makeover team – James Chua!

I’ve known James since he was an editor in 2007, and I’ve always been impressed by his strong command of language, passion for people, as well as his ability to surprise with perceptive insights about any topic under the sun.

James is an award-winning writer who won the Mercedes-Benz Red Ribbon Media Prize (print category) in 2009. He also won The Special Recognition Award by National Kidney Foundation Singapore, and was a national-level winner of Outstanding Acts of Courtesy by SINGA. He counts his deaf students scoring A and B for SPM Science among his proudest achievements. He has just been accepted to do his Masters in Public Policy with a focus on Disability Policy at University Malaya.

All the best, and welcome aboard, James!

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Message Makeover

“Alex, can you inject some oomph into my speaker profile?”

I often receive requests to “sex up” pre-existing pieces of writing for maximum impact, pardon my French.

When a client showed me an article she wasn’t happy with, and asked me to make it more authoritative and compelling, I thought to myself, hey, there’s a real market need for a communications specialist who is interested in making a piece of writing shine, beyond language editing.

Why not formally offer it as part of my services?

Folks, I present to you: Message Makeover, where I work with you to strengthen your message so that it delivers a solid impression and scores your intended goal.

How it works

Send me an existing piece of writing you’re not happy with. I’ll analyse it and tell you if I can improve it with a quote of how much it costs, and how long I need. Simple and no obligation!

What I’m good at

From business proposals to personal biodatas to press releases – I’m comfortable with and am experienced in many genres.

But being a people person at heart, I am happiest when my work helps my clients to land that much-coveted job, get funding for their passion project, or evoke a “Wow, I want to hear him talk!” reaction in that international conference you’re speaking at.

The results

One client said, “Alex brings more than just writing or editing skills to the table. She demonstrates keen business insight and marketing smarts, and as a result, is able to craft a message with the right tone and impact. She did a topnotch job refining my profile with her thoughtful edits. I would recommend her to anyone needing help writing about themselves – Linkedin Profile, speakers’ bio, etc.”

Read what other clients, editors, readers and past interviewees say about me.

Questions? Give me a holler at alexandra.lywong@gmail.com

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The original roots

If you’re travelling by MAS this month, flip over to page 88 of the inflight magazine Going Places for a story on a truly awesome character. My expedition to learn more about Orang Asli culture, for the Tradisi segment, led me to one Raman Bah Tuin in Gombak.

I went expecting just another routine craftsmaking experience (sorry, we writers do get jaded). Instead, what I got was magic.

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At the tail end of our visit, we requested for a nose-flute performance. He obliged. Leading us out of the house, he took his position at a nearby clearing with banana, coconut and papaya trees in the background. I couldn’t help thinking that he looked somewhat comical, sitting cross-legged with his nostrils positioned over one end of the flute, sweat streaming down his face and topped by a costumey headgear.  

My amusement faded when he started playing.

The first notes that emerged were so faint I strained to hear them. I couldn’t put a finger on its origins – had this been played elsewhere, I wouldn’t have known it was Orang Asli.

But here, against the backdrop of running water and chirping insects, the haunting melody seemed at home with the surrounding, complementing instead of overpowering the environment. I would have never expected something so wonderfully tender and delicate from this humbly dressed man.

At the end of his song, my cheeks were wet. I glanced at Soo, wondering if she had any reaction. I could be wrong, but I suspect she was affected too. 

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We also saw a bunch of interesting objects in his house, many of which I’d never seen, like this two-stringed guitar.

Many thanks to Gerai OA founder Reita Rahim, for leading me to the absolute gem that Raman bah Tuin is.

Bonus pix: Me being vain :))

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Maximizing Melaka … and other awesome stories in MBE Postgraduate Feb-March 2014

MBE Feb-March 2014 cover

It isn’t often that you get to interview one of the hottest (as in most-watched) politicians in the country.

So imagine how I feel, practically hyperventilating from nervousness, when Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Ir Idris Haron greets us into the office with these opening remarks:

“This is where important decisions are made.”

Gulp!

Thankfully, underneath that no-nonsense exterior, I also discover an amiable and able storyteller. For two hours, the MBE team was a captive audience to his inspiring, and sometimes amusing, anecdotes, like this one about growing up in a strict household: “My late brother and sister-in-law played an instrumental role in inculcating my love for books. They were strict disciplinarians who were serious about reading. Every time they saw me, I had to be holding a book. When I hear the car’s engine sound, cepat-cepat ambil buku (quickly grab a book) or feel the sting of the rotan!”

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I’m going to be absolutely shameless in declaring that we’ve got a star-studded, power-packed issue.

When you’ve met bubbly, baby-faced Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat in person, it’s hard not to be impressed by this lecturer cum industrial and occupational psychologist whose breakthrough prison rehabilitation module for sexual offenders has kept 3000 women a year safe from repeat offenders every year. I have thre words for that – move over, CSI!

We’re also delighted to feature Mohd Rizal Jailan, the Managing Director of INOKOM, the national automobile assembler for numerous prestige brands like BMW. The eight-hour journey (to and fro) to Kulim is one that I would gladly relive. After all, how often do you get to witness the world’s most beloved cars being put together, piece by piece?

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May you have as much fun reading, as our team did putting together this issue. MBA Edge Postgraduate is available at all leading bookstores.

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