Of book projects and archive badminton news


Readers who have followed my stories documented in the trilogy of My Johor Stories as well as in my blog, will be familiar with our family’s passion for badminton.


A trilogy of My Johor Stories books

As we follow live badminton broadcasts hosted in various destinations in an annual international circuit of tournaments and cheer on our sports heroes on the court, its timely to remember that Johor was the proud home of State, National and International champions from a long time ago.


When I shared the address for grandfather’s house, No. 154 Jalan Ngee Heng in, Where champions were born, published in My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, I introduced our grandfather, Ng Ngoh Tee, four-time Johor State badminton champion in 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1939.


Under Portraits in this 2017 MPH Non-Fiction Bestseller, I honoured the memory of our grandmother who passed on at the ripe old age of 103 in, The Real Champion. She was many things to the family and yes, our grandmother was also a badminton player.

In Book Two, My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People, I continued to share more details about our link to the Wong family in Johor and Badminton is in the blood, under Family Ties.


Foon Seong Cup Winners, 1939;
[Standing L to R] Wong Peng Nam,
Wong Peng Soon, Ng Ngoh Tee, and
Wong Peng Yee; [Seated L] F. M. Still
and Syed Ibrahim Hussein [R]

I also published an additional piece, Richard’s Quest, which outlined how I met up with Richard Dunn, a reader from the UK who came to Johor Baru in search of the places here that were recorded in his grandmother’s memoirs.


While he was here, it was Richard who found an old newspaper report from online records dated 1 November 1936 which revealed that his grandfather, Frank Mongford Still, was then the President of the Johore Bahru District Badminton Association while our grandfather, Ng Ngoh Tee, was its Vice-President.


It was absolutely uncanny that Richard, a total stranger, who met me here on his personal quest, suddenly discovered that our grandfathers were acquainted with each other and used to work together in the Johore Bahru Badminton Association!


Finally in Book Three, My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, I shared more family memories in Growing Up in Grandfather’s House and Badminton Glory Days.


When I met with author, Ahmad Fadhli Syed Hassan in 2017, we found much in common in our pursuit of publishing Johor stories. As he followed my book writing journey, we stayed in touch. In August 2017, he also joined my Meet-the-Readers event organised by MPH Publishing in JB.


Online archive news discovered
by Richard Dunn

Then I was invited to Bicara Karya 2019, a talk held in UTM Skudai where he was the guest speaker who discussed his book writing journey and shared some of the highlights of his experience.


The recent global pandemic and lockdown periods brought most meetings online so Bicara Karya 2022 was organised with online participation. That year, I had the honour to be one of the two guest speakers.


As this event would be broadcast from UTM Skudai, I agreed to join in-person rather than online. When Ahmad Fadhli learnt about this arrangement, he did not hesitate to meet me there and took the opportunity to present me with his latest books.


In his book of memoirs, Sebelum Senja Berlabuh, Kenangan di Johor Bahru, he wrote a meaningful and encouraging message in Malay, Anda sumber inspirasi saya. Terima kasih, (You are the source of my inspiration. Thank you.)


Ahmad Fadhli presented his books
to me in 2022

Last December 14, just days ahead of the event planned for the launch of Book Three on December 18, I received a WhatsApp message from Ahmad Fadhli along with a series of photographs.


He said while browsing around the Kinokuniya bookstore, KLCC Kuala Lumpur, he stumbled upon My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now in the New Arrivals section and was thrilled to be among the first to get hold of his own copy.


I was deeply encouraged by his support and reminded him to bring along his copies for me to autograph when we met again at my book launch event. And he did.


Fast-forward to early this week when Ahmad Fadhli wrote me another WhatsApp message and said: “Just to inform you, I was in KL recently and had time to visit Kinokuniya KLCC. Unfortunately, your books were sold out.”


To me, it was both good news and bad news: Good to know that readers have bought all my books and bad because the bookstore have yet to restock my books.


Archive news from 1934 
shared by Ahmad Fadhli

Ahmad Fadhli went on to update me on his latest book project which he will co-author with Professor Dato Dr Kassim Thukiman and Associate Professor Dr Siti Rahmah in UTM.


He said his fifth book will be a biography on the late Tan Sri Dato Ahmad bin Perang, the first Johor Malay to become General Manager of Keretapi Tanah Melayu, the Malayan Railways from 1962 to 1967.


“And guess what?” he asked rhetorically and continued, “He was actively involved with badminton in his younger days!”


He also sent photos of newspaper cuttings dated, 25 November 1934 on the Johore (Badminton) Tournament Finals, which he extracted from his online research.


“Hope you are familiar with those names,” he said.


Continuation of 1934 news report...

Ahmad Fadhli clearly knows my family’s passion in badminton and shared this newspaper report on a 1934 badminton tournament because he was pretty sure I could identify the names listed there.


In Family Ties, I had written about how grandfather met the Wong brothers – the cousins of my grandmother – while he was still dating her and when the Wong brothers recognised him as the four-time Johore state champion, they asked him to be their badminton trainer.


In 1939, the team made up of grandfather Ng Ngoh Tee and the Wong brothers, Wong Peng Nam, Wong Peng Soon and Wong Peng Yee, were the proud winners of the Foon Seong Cup.


This momentous event was captured in a precious photograph which also featured Richard Dunn’s grandfather, Johore Badminton Association President, Frank Mongford Still and Hon. Secretary, Syed Ibrahim Hussein.


A grainy photo published with 
the 1934 archive news report

I looked closer at the newspaper cutting from 1934 which listed the players’ names and read that it included grandfather and the Wong brothers, as well as their younger brother, Wong Peng Tong who played in the Junior Singles and Doubles.


Ahmad Fadhli also shared a grainy old photograph that depicted Tan Sri Dato Ahmad bin Perang with Wong Peng Tong, captioned as Runner-Up and Winner of the Junior Singles, respectively.


The Wong brothers, namely Wong Cheong Meng, Wong Peng Nam, Wong Peng Tong, Wong Peng Yee, Wong Peng Soon, Wong Peng Long* and Wong Peng Kow, were the sons of Wong Kwong Yam also known as Towkay Yam, the nephew of Johor pioneer, Wong Ah Fook.


Wong Peng Soon went on to earn National and International titles in the 1930s to 1950s and was acknowledged as one of the greatest badminton players of all time.


As he went on to greater heights of achievement in an illustrious sports career, we can fondly recall that he started his training with our grandfather on a badminton court they built together in the compound of their house at Jalan Ah Siang.


The mother of the Wong brothers, Mak Qui Tong, was our grandmother’s aunt (her father’s sister). So Towkay Yam, with five wives and 17 children, was the patriarch of the Wong family in Johor.


I replied Ahmad Fadhli with heartiest congratulations on his next book project and told him I recognised familiar names, that of our grandfather and granduncles, from the archive newspaper report.


As he continues doing research for his book project, I trust Ahmad Fadhli will share with me any archive news that would be of interest to me and our family. Thank you.


*Note: Wong Peng Long was the father of present-day Mejar Cina Dato David Wong Khong Soon.