Thanks, Streets Johor

One of my stories on Juita events quoted in the book,
The Professor and the Juita NGO
On the left, bottom corner of the December 31 issue of Streets Johor, there was an announcement that Streets will cease publication with effect from that day.  Even though it was printed with a bright orange coloured background, readers who are too familiar with this Southern section of the New Straits Times may have overlooked it.  

So on 1 January 2015, many readers who looked through their fresh copy of NST, in search of their staple section of the newspaper were disappointed when they failed to find it!

Streets Johor started seven years ago as a pull-out section called, Johor Buzz or JB, in short.  The name was then changed to Johor Streets and later changed to Streets Johor.  Over the years, I learnt that many readers have grown to enjoy the various segments of this 8-page section particularly because it contained local news and stories that were relevant to them.  Some admitted that when they opened the daily newspapers, they first reached for the Streets section to scan for anything interesting happening in Johor Baru.

It was my privilege to contribute to Streets on a regular basis and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share Johor stories with readers.  From news, events to food reviews, I had a great deal of fun meeting with organizers, participants, merchants, VIPs and a host of interesting people, to write exciting stories to inform and interest readers.  

The most rewarding part of writing about something is the positive impact on the community, the awareness it created and the encouragement it gave to the event organizers or individuals.  Of course, I also got to sample a wide range of good food when I do food reviews but it’s also my responsibility to tell the merchant honestly if his food is not up to the mark and tactfully tell him to get it right before I can write about it!

I was privileged to work closely with the former president of Juita, the Johor state NGO that was then headed by Professor Jamilah Ariffin, and covered a number of major events organised to improve the livelihood of single mothers, rehabilitate special children and uplift the lives of aboriginal people in Johor.  As a sociologist, Prof Jamilah published several books and I’m pleased that some of my articles published in Streets Johor have been quoted in her book, The Professor and the Juita NGO – Smart partnership in social welfare work.  

Two of my centerspreads on the dragon dancers on stilts!
I remember first writing about the Johor Ancient Temple or Gu Miao for Travel Times (the former name of Life & Times Travel) and when the story was rewritten and published in Johor Buzz in 2009, the Chinese community leaders in JB were absolutely thrilled.  Up to that time, news on the temple was only written by the Chinese media and my story gave English readers the opportunity to learn more about this pride of Chinese heritage in JB.

I must confess that my command of the Chinese language is limited but I still accepted the challenge to dig out stories from non-English-speaking people using my smattering of broken Mandarin.  Such painstaking effort paid off handsomely when my stories were published in English language for readers to learn more about Chinese culture on Teochew opera performers, the lion-dance lion head-making sifu, dragon-dancers on stilts and the unique race challenge for big-headed dolls!

When I joined the participants at their first-of-its-kind race for big-headed dolls, the organizers, a troop of skilled stilt-walkers, had an exhibition of some of the elaborate costumes and equipment used in performances abroad.  Besides taking part in games and fun activities like trying to walk on stilts, visitors could buy souvenirs at that event.  They also displayed some newspaper publications on their past events and I was delighted to see among them, not one but two of my centerspread articles on the dragon-dancers on stilts!

Sarasvati Kaur with my centerspread story on the Goodwill
Walk by the United Sikhs
Last May, I wrote about the Goodwill Walk 2014 from Singapore to Malacca that was led by Rishiwant Singh, popularly known as the Flying Singh, a RTM radio and TV personality.  He is also the Humanitarian Aid Coordinator for the Asia Pacific Region of the United Sikhs.  The youngest student who completed about 55km from Muar to Malacca was his daughter, Standard 6 student, Sarasvati Kaur from SRJKC Chung Hwa 1B who turned 12 on her birthday on June 10.  After my story was published in Streets, Rishiwant told me that the Sikh community was absolutely thrilled with it and Sarasvati was so happy that she preserved my centerspread article in a poster!

My cover and centrespread feature on
Ms Amy Wong published in Johor Buzz
No matter how long I have been published, I will never get tired of seeing my stories in print and how they are proudly exhibited or treasured by individuals.  I remember going to visit Ms Amy Wong, one of our former school teachers, with a group of classmates for afternoon tea.  Ms Wong was among the pioneer group of Malaysians who was trained at Kirkby College in the UK and given the moniker as a “pillar of the JB Convent” because she completed her education here as well as retired from her career in teaching here too!  And in her dining room, I saw how my story on her was proudly displayed in a simple poster!

In November, I joined the Social Development team of Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) in their event where primary school teams presented their ideas in the second Iskandar Malaysia Eco Life Challenge.  Several guests from Japan, including representatives from KIKO Network, a Kyoto-based NGO, the City of Kyoto Global Environment Policy Office Environment Policy Bureau and a Junior Research Associate with the National Institute for Environmental Studies, were also present.  It was an exciting and informative challenge as the winning team was rewarded with a study trip to Kyoto, Japan.

My article was published on Nov 12 when the Japanese visitors were still here and I was told that they were not only thrilled with it but bought copies to take home to Kyoto!

My story, Carbon Fighters win Kyoto trip, on the screen,
being discussed in that meeting in Kyoto!
In mid December, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone message from my friend from IRDA who was in Kyoto to meet with their Japanese associates.  Using modern phone technology, he showed me a photo of the meeting in progress with my article, “Carbon Fighters win Kyoto trip,” flashed on the screen.  His message simply said: “Your article being discussed in Kyoto.  Thanks for the wonderful article.”

Just as I graciously accepted his “Thanks”, I echo my grateful “Thanks” to Streets Johor for giving me the opportunity to share so many stories with readers.  While Streets no longer exist now, I’m pleased that most of my stories published in Streets Johor are safely stored in My Johor Stories under Recently Published and as blog posts in various categories.  Happy New Year 2015 and Happy Reading!


… Sad and amusing aftermath:

Within the first few days of 2015, I started to receive invitations to events and food tastings and follow-ups on projects that were discussed late last year.  These I had to politely decline because there is no longer an avenue to publish the stories.  It’s a sad shame because there is still a great deal happening in Johor Baru and now I cannot share the happenings and events with readers!

A friend, who obviously missed the notice on Streets, told me that every day he searched through the copy of NST for Streets Johor but in vain.  He got rather riled up with the delivery guy because he suspected that he must have carelessly misplaced the Streets section in his daily delivery!   In fact, he was so upset that he was going to give his delivery guy a scolding for missing out the Streets section every day.  Then we met and I clarified the situation with him.  I’m just glad I saved that delivery guy a scolding!

Today I received a call from a reader who has a subscription for NST specifically to read local news in Streets Johor.  She too discovered that Streets was missing for days and thought that a phone call to me should solve the mystery of the missing Streets Johor.  When I explained the situation to her, she was very sad.  The worse reaction from her was a decision to cancel her subscription because the Streets section has ceased to exist!

I can understand that it is quite a shock for regular readers who are now suffering from withdrawal symptoms in the absence of their daily staple read in Streets Johor.  While it’s all very sad, the silver lining in this dark cloud is how many readers are also missing Streets for my stories.



  1. Hi Peggy,
    I always enjoyed reading your articles in Johor Streets when I was still in JB. Too bad that NST decided not to continue publishing the pull out.

  2. The absence of Streets Johor reminds me of the Johor Malay Mail that was pulled out of the market just when we got the hang of it. Streets Johor is the only section that I'd zoom in right after scanning the headlines. What a shame really.. I've always enjoyed your articles..