My book at SMK Dato Jaafar JB

Almost exactly a year ago when I embarked on my book project with Think City Johor Baru, I arranged to meet with Member of Parliament for Johor Baru, Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad, to invite him to write the Foreword for my book.

Pengetua, Encik Mohd Hanafi Samad with his
autographed copy of my book in his office at
SMK Dato Jaafar, Johor Baru
When I met with Tan Sri to talk about it, he not only graciously accepted my invitation to write the Foreword but he also generously placed an advance order for 500 copies of my books to distribute to the libraries of all the secondary schools in his constituency!

His overwhelming support simply stunned me.

Later as a mulled over how 500 copies of my books were sold even before they were printed or published, I felt deeply humbled.

Tan Sri aimed to use my book, presented with his best compliments to the schools, to encourage the reading habit among students and let the younger generation have a better appreciation of Johor culture and heritage as well as be inspired by personalities in Johor who have impacted other lives.

Signing his personal copy of my book for
En Hanafi in his office
As my book project progressed, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with publisher, MPH Publishing Kuala Lumpur.

With the publication of my book in sight, I also invited Tan Sri to be Guest-of-Honour at my book launch.

I was pleased when he happily consented to launch my book at a simple event that was planned at a place, situated across the road from where I grew up in Johor Baru.

It was significant that my book launch venue was close to where our grandfather’s house was once situated at No. 154 Jalan Ngee Heng. [Where champions were born]

Thanks to my good working relationship with DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru, the hotel kindly extended the use of their premises for my book launch event on July 15!

With En Hanafi and my book
And just before that date, the consignment of 500 copies of my book was delivered from MPH Publishing Kuala Lumpur directly to Tan Sri’s office in Johor Baru.

I can still remember coordinating the shipment between MPH Publishing and Tan Sri’s office and ensuring that the stock was checked and safely received.

This was essential because Tan Sri would then instruct his associates to distribute my books to the relevant schools within his constituency.

Fast-forward to March this year when I was invited to be guest speaker at a Book Talk event with student leaders of SMK Dato Jaafar Johor Baru.

Teacher-in-Charge, Navinder Kaur d/o Dhiraj Singh, explained that the group of 30 students are student leaders from Forms Two to Six and in the Book Talk, I should speak to the students about my book and have an interactive time with them to help them gain more confidence to speak in English.

Since my book was launched last year, I had the privilege to present my book to various groups including members of the oldest Rotary Club in Johor, the Rotary Club of Johor Baru, and the expatriate ladies of the International Women’s Association here.

I was also honoured to meet my readers in book-signing events organized by MPH Publishing in their bookstores, first in Johor Baru and later in Kuala Lumpur, where I presented my book with a public reading of selected portions of my book.

Each of the previous presentations were skewered towards my target audience and for the student leaders, my presentation would be different because this group are from a younger generation who may not be familiar with a lot more of the contents in my book.

Meanwhile I asked Teacher Navinder to check if their school library have received copies of my books because by now, Tan Sri’s office should have distributed my books to all the schools in Johor Baru.

I just needed to know if the school had my books in their library for the students to borrow and read.

Imagine my surprise and disappointment when Teacher Navinder replied, saying that she had checked with the librarian and they do not have my books in their library!

On that appointed day for the Book Talk event, I arrive at the school, feeling rather sad that they have yet to receive my book.

The light drizzle adds to my damp mood.

En Hanafi holding a complimentary copy of my book,
presented by MP for JB, Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad
As I open my umbrella to step out of my car, I see a group of students approaching me with an umbrella. They kindly offer to carry my bag and provide me with umbrella shelter.

Teacher Navinder joins us and she says we should meet their Pengetua or school principal before we proceed upstairs where the Book Talk event will be held.

In fact (she confided), he’s a big fan and is very keen to meet me!

As we walk to his office, she points out that the Pengetua, Mohd Hanafi Samad, is right there, talking to someone in the corridor outside his office.

We are introduced and Encik Hanafi ushers me into his office and does not hesitate to tell me that he’s from Muar and has been a reader of my blog for a long time.

When my book was published, he rushed to the MPH bookstore to buy his own copy.

Proof that my book was presented
to the school with the best
compliments of MP for JB
By this time, I have spotted a stack of five of my books on the table and En Hanafi volunteers the explanation that these books were received from MP for JB, Tan Sri Shahrir!

“They’re here!” I privately exclaim with much relieve!

I excuse myself from the conversation to rush a text message to Tan Sri and assure him that copies of my book have indeed been safely received at SMK Dato Jaafar.

All this time, the books were in the Pengetua’s office for safe-keeping.

Since I was coming to the school, he thought I should autograph each copy before they were sent over to the library.

I flip the first few pages of my books and I see proof that they were presented to the school by Tan Sri with his best compliments.

When En Hanafi asks me autograph his copy of my book, I happily do so as the students help to snap photo mementoes.

Then it’s time for us to join the student leaders for the Book Talk event.

[Read more about it in a separate story.]

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