Local designers shine at Neon Fashion Runway

Neon Fashion Week 2019 in Paradigm Mall Johor Baru started with a stunning show that featured designs by local designers followed by three days of fashion shows that showcased 21 popular brands, available from stores in the mall.

The designers with their models in the grand finale
of the Neon Fashion Runway event
These brands include selections from Carlo Rino, Nana Collection, Spiffy, Mixxo, Common Sense, Good2U, SPAO, Owl, A-Look, Seen, COCO, Parkson featuring Sfera, MDS, Trucco, and Hundred% featuring TNT, Stoned and Eversince.

The second edition of the mall’s fashion week kicked off with an upbeat tone and the timeless trend of eye-catching neon colours as invited guests and local celebrities arrived, dressed in glam outfits highlighted by a shock of neon.

Upon arrival I was tagged with a neon bangle and shown into the refreshment area where nibbles and cocktails were being served.

Models wearing a collection by Michael Ooi
The music beating from the DJ deck was drawing crowds to the concourse which was occupied by a fashion runway complete with blinking neon lights on its backdrop.

As the crowd swelled, I met friends and recognised some celebrities – among them Singapore actor, Terrence Chow, and Malaysian actor, Wayne Chua.

I’m familiar with Terrence Chow as an actor but I didn’t know that he was also a designer because his designs were later showcased in the show!

My eyes are peeled to spot Jeffrey Cheng, a former runway model who (I was sure I should be able to tell…) earned the prestigious titles of, The UNO Manhunt Malaysia, The Best Model of the World (Malaysia) and The Hottest Hunks Malaysia.

Designer Michael Ooi [Center] with his models
And there he was, dressed in a stylish outfit all in White, a design by Malaysian designer, Michael Ooi, which he would model on the runway when he joined the cast of male models in the show.

Another multi-talented Malaysian celebrity at the event was Hero Tai, actor and host with IQIYI channel, Beijing and Taiwan’s “iWalker HERO” programme, who founded the Hero T apparel brand.

His collaboration with Michael Ooi would showcase a sporty unisex collection under the Hero T brand with designs inspired by elements in 16 sports including MotoGP, scuba diving, snowboarding and surfing, designed in a Black and Gold theme.

Hero Tai [Center] walking the runway with his models
These bold colours represent how every athlete would fight for Gold and Black, the best colour to create a clear contrast against the colour Gold.

In 2016, Michael Ooi launched his label, Made.to.Measure with a collection that mixed fashion with his industrial design background.

It was impressive that Michael Ooi not only represented Malaysia as an esteemed member and fashion ambassador of ASEAN Fashion Designer Showcase, he also received The Most Promising Designer Award at Borneo Fashion Week 2018.

Glancez designer [Second from Left] with models on runway
When I learnt that Glancez was a contemporary fashion label based in HongKong and owned by a Malaysian from Johor Baru, I was ridiculously happy probably because I was proud of this talented and enterprising Johorean.

My admiration for Glancez designs shot even higher when I discovered that this was a sustainable brand with a zero-waste policy and does not use animal-based materials.

This brand also proudly showcased its collection at Paris Fashion Week.

Designer Ranndy Goh [Center] with his models
When I saw the designs presented on the runway, I liked its wearable styles that focused on bright and attractive colours and comfortable designs.

Then I read that Ranndy Goh, renowned designer from Penang whose portfolio included collaborations with Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Habib Jewellery, once said, “I believe that fashion should be luxurious yet practical while retaining a touch of femininity.”

As I found my way to the seat with my name on it, I pondered upon his words and realized that I fully agreed with his sentiments.

Representative from Design faculty of Raffles University
Johor [Center] with two models on the runway
The event was about to begin, and ushers were busy showing guests to their seats.

I could only imagine the excitement backstage as the models were being dressed and the finishing touches added to their hair, face and outfits, while the crew was well prepared to help the models change into the next sets of outfits…

Meanwhile the light and sound people were on their toes, ready to coordinate the lighting and music to match with the various sectors of the show…

And then there were the mandatory welcome address, speeches and presentation of souvenirs to the VIPs, designers and sponsors.

Actor Terrence Chow [Center] who is also a designer
with his models on the runway
In his opening address, Guest of Honour the assemblyman for Perling, YB Cheo Yee How, expressed his pleasure at seeing local talents coming back to Johor and doing their part to contribute towards developing a more vibrant community here.

Finally, the show got underway as the models took turns to strut their styles on the runway in a non-stop showcase of wonderful fashion in a stunning Neon Fashion Runway event.

In addition to the fashion creations by established designers, some interesting designs by students in the Design faculty of Raffles University Johor were also highlighted.

Paradigm Mall Johor Baru is managed by WCT Malls Management Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of WCT Holdings Berhad.

Located off Jalan Skudai at Taman Bukit Mewah, 81200 Johor Baru.
Open daily from 10am to 10pm.

For more info, visit website: www.paradigmall.com.my/jb

Afternoon Tea at La Madeleine Patisserie

After a delightful dining experience of Modern European Cuisine with a hint of Japanese presented by Koh Chin Hong, the Head Chef at Initial, he told me about plans to serve Afternoon Tea for diners to linger over elegant cakes and pastries.

La Madeleine Patisserie is located within
Initial Modern European Cuisine in Taman Molek
True to his word, Koh invited me over again when he and his pastry chef were ready to introduce the specialties by La Madeleine Patisserie, the pastry shop within Initial.

When my friends and I step into Initial, the fragrance of freshly brewed coffee sends a signal to my brain, reminding me that this Arabica brew will taste just right with cakes and pastries…

My eyes are riveted to the counter where whole tarts, pies and pastries are (still warm!) displayed on platters, ready to be sliced and served.

I zero in on the dainty Madeleines – the namesake of this Patisserie – and learn that they are the pastry chef’s specialty.

Three types of Madeleines to choose from!
Madeleines are prepared in three varieties: the original Lemon, those dotted with Raisins soaked in Rum, and the dark ones made with chocolate and a dash of Baileys Irish Cream liqueur.

Understandably, the cream cakes – made daily from fresh ingredients – are stored in the chiller or may risk melting in our tropical temperature.

A glance at the chalk board tells me that we should sample a slice each of the day’s serving of Orange Chocolate Cake and Mango Cheese Cream Cake.

At the counter, I also spot a Walnut Tart
We are also served a slice each of New York Cheese Tart and Walnut Tart to taste the contrasting textures of smooth cheese in the former and a crunchy bite in the latter.

There is of course, a serving of Madeleines in its three flavours.

[I cannot get enough of these classic French sponge cakes and I’m glad that La Madeleine Patisserie is where I can get a regular supply!]

While sipping our choice of hot or chilled beverages, we savour the cakes and pastries in relative silence, punctuated by murmurs of satisfaction, as the plates are polished clean!

Freshly brewed coffee to savour with a range of cakes
and pastries at La Madeleine Patisserie
I don’t know about the others but I’m glad that Afternoon Tea here is served from 1pm so that I can enjoy a good hot coffee earlier in the day with my choice of cakes and pastries.

Initial Modern European Cuisine [Non-Halal] is at No. 9-G, Jalan Molek 3/20, Taman Molek, 81100 Johor Baru, Johor.

Afternoon Tea is served from 1pm to 5pm; Dinner from 6pm to 11pm.
Closed on Monday.

Tel: +6016 247 0977 or email: initialcuisine@gmail.com

For daily updates, visit Facebook.com/initialcuisine/

Celebrating 15th anniversary with Pink Heroes

This October, the Johor Baru Breast Cancer Support Group (BCSG) joins the world in proudly declaring that, “We are all Pink Heroes” as they celebrate 15 years of providing holistic care to patients and survivors.

Mrs Doris Boo [Center] with the team from the
Tunku Laksamana Johor Cancer Foundation 
The team at BCSG believes in the motto that Support + Encouragement = Hope!

Over the years I’ve shared stories about the work of the BCSG and witnessed how this NGO developed into a vibrant and respected organization which is providing much-needed support to women from all walks of life.

At the Center, I met with patients who were battling the dreaded disease and facing the challenges and fears in undergoing treatments as saw survivors bravely emerging to live a full life again.

BCSG has a team of experienced nurses who have come out of their retirement to volunteer their professional skills in counselling patients and caregivers who are fighting the battle alongside their loved ones.

Adding a message of encouragement
to the Pink Heroes on the Pink Ribbon
I can still remember joining friends in BCSG for their huge celebration when they officially opened their new Center as a haven of hope for newly diagnosed patients, who would meet here regularly and receive practical and moral support from fellow patients and survivors.

The Center is designed with various sections both indoor and outdoor, for wellness activities like basic yoga, fitness exercise, handicrafts and cooking classes, rooms for physiotherapy, counselling, music and karaoke singing as well as guiding post-reconstructive surgery patients in the use of breast Prosthesis and mastectomy Brassieres (P & B).

In 2017, the wonderful work of BCSG was duly acknowledged with the Iskandar Social Heroes Award, both in the Organisation category as well as then president, Mrs Doris Boo, who received the award in the Individual category.

To celebrate the BCSG’s 15th anniversary, the Pink Heroes organized a Fun Walk from Dataran Johor Baru to the BCSG Center which kicked off bright and early at 6.30am.

Getting a Face-Painting design on her face!
Meanwhile at the Center, a Doodle drawing competition was arranged for those who were not participating in the Fun Walk.

Booths were set up for Face-Painting and Hair-Tinselling and a handicraft stall from which to buy souvenirs.

By about 8.45am, the first Pink Heroes reached the Center to complete their Fun Walk.

Not only were the first 15 Pink Heroes rewarded with Medals, the top three Best Dressed Teams in the Fun Walk also received prizes!

Handicrafts for sale from this stall
After a rest and refreshment break, the fun continued with a series of dance presentations dubbed, Let’s Danz with The BCSG.

Their enthusiasm and surprisingly good sense of rhythm and coordination said a great deal about the members’ commitment to dance and practice regularly together, both for fun and for physical exercise.

For this special celebration, the BCSG members, friends and families put their best feet forward to showcase a series of five dance performances.

Registering for Health Check with Johor Health Department
It started with a Bollywood dance, followed by a Zumba exercise routine and the BCSG signature dance and continued with a Malay dance before ending with a cool Line Dance.

The cheers and feet-tapping music encouraged onlookers to join in the synchronized dances and the celebration reached an appropriate crescendo to encourage the Pink Heroes to battle on, for themselves and their families.

It was simply heartwarming to see the Pink community, made up of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sikh and others – men, women, teenagers and kids – all gathered in such unity and support for each other while they were battling a common enemy.

Registering for Mammogram and PAP Smear with the
Tunku Laksamana Johor Cancer Foundation
Meanwhile in the lobby, there were games to play and in the Activity room, free consultations were offered by a qualified Dietitian and Doctor.

This year, the team from the Yayasan Tunku Laksamana Johor Cancer Foundation offered registrations for mammogram and PAP smears, provided Free-of-Charge.

A team from the Johor Health Department was also present to provide Health Checks on visitors who wished to do so here.

Another section provided advice on the procedures in Breast Self-Examination (BSE) and the use of P & B, while BCSG had a price promotion on quality P & B products, specially offered in this month.

Watching and learning from the Cooking Demo to prepare Peranakan specialties
The programme of activities finally ended in the outdoor section, with a cooking demonstration of several Peranakan specialties.

The center for the JB Breast Cancer Support Group is at No. 12 Jalan Ru, Taman Kebun Teh, 80250 Johor Baru, Johor.

For more info, visit Facebook page for BCSGJB or Breast Cancer Support Group Johor Bahru.

Good fun at Trickeye Museum & K Digital Park

Chased by a T-Rex, stalked by a ferocious tiger, just about swallowed by a great white shark or meeting King Kong atop the Petronas Twin Towers…

Johor Baru Collective Media (JOCOM) members
at the entrance to Trickeye Museum in JB City Square
Exploding volcanoes, rushing waterfalls, discovering a sunken treasure or riding a sledge pulled by a team of handsome huskies…

All these exciting scenarios and more are designed across 16,000 sq ft of space in the Trickeye Museum and the K Digital Park.

Then I learnt that “K” is for Korea, the country of origin for the fun and entertaining learning K-Culture through robotic rides, building activities in the Art Block Room and Korean street food and goods in the Digital Park.

This Trickeye Museum Johor Baru is the first graffiti version Trickeye Museum in the world’s first museum that uses Augmented Reality (AR) technology to create optical illusions for everyone to enjoy.

An exploding volcano seen through the smartphone screen
using the Augmented Reality (AR) technology application
This family-fun destination at Level Five of Johor Baru City Square is one of the latest attractions in the city for the enjoyment of children of all ages.

I say children-of-all-ages because the amazing AR activities in the Trickeye and Digital Park are bound to bring out the child in every adult!

At the lobby, my friends and I from Johor Baru Collective Media (JOCOM) are advised to connect our smartphones to the Free WiFi to download the Application, XR Museum and select ‘Malaysia.’

Then we are all set to enter the Trickeye Museum to use our smartphones to experience the AR effect against the graffiti and snap photo and video mementoes…

Play acting with appropriate actions and expressions...
The Museum is arranged with a walk-through experience starting with the Jurassic Zone that leads into the Korea Zone before the China Zone.

At every zone, the walls are painted with murals and a few photographs posted nearby give visitors some examples of what to expect and ideas to capture phenomenal photos.

After the Animal Zone, there is Malaysia Zone followed by the Kids Zone.

Nearby, a Supermoon Zone is designed within a pitch-dark room where visitors are encouraged to pose against the Supermoon as a backdrop and create an exciting silhouette.

...And this is the animated view on the
smartphone screen via AR technology!
Finally, we enter the Aqua Zone and end at the Winter Zone.

The best part of this fun experience in the Trickeye Museum is the unlimited time to wander around the space to snap as many photos or videos as we wished.

All around us, we hear chuckles and explosions of laughter as various groups are having fun trying to capture realistic shots by play-acting with the appropriate actions and facial expressions…

For the young and young-at-heart who enjoy Lego, there is a collection of Lego sets to build interesting models in the comfortable Art Block Room.

I’m told that the endless fun with Lego can keep youngsters preoccupied for hours, sometimes even while their parents were next door in the cinema to watch a movie.

Over at the Robotics section, the team is helping visitors strap themselves into the robots and guided to manipulate its controls.

A silhouette shot against the Supermoon
For safety reasons, there is a height requirement and children below 130cm may board the robot only when accompanied by an adult.

This section allows the robots to move about at random and it is important that riders who are strapped onto the robots know how to manipulate its controls.

As a matter of courtesy, riders are limited to spending a maximum of 10 minutes on their robotic ride so that others in the queue may have their turn to enjoy this exciting experience.

A while later, my friends and I regroup at the lobby and we are introduced to more fun AR activities under the Digital Kidzmaru section.

Riders enjoying their experience in the Robotics section
One of the fascinating experiences here must be the tattoos that come alive!

We are welcome to pick the (temporary) tattoo design of our choice and get it transferred onto an arm or the back of a palm.

Seen through the screen of a smartphone with the App for AR technology, the tattoo miraculously comes alive with animation and sound effects!

I watch in fascination as a butterfly lifts its wings and flies away, a volcano starts spewing smoke and fiery rocks, a couple in an embrace is dancing a whirl, and the lights on a Christmas tree is twinkling to the rhythm of a Christmas carol.

Watch that butterfly flap its wings and fly away...
For young readers, there is also a collection of children’s story books designed to enjoy through the screen of a smartphone.

And with AR technology, the characters leap off its pages in colourful animation to make the stories even more alive!

In another activity, a set of sketch paper is provided for those who are keen on colouring and designing unique patterns on outlines of a dinosaur.

When this design project is completed, it is launched onto a projected wide screen which spans across the wall in this space, to join various types of dinosaurs that are moving with sound and animation.

Characters move with music and animation through
AR technology to make stories in books even more alive!
Our experience here is just in Phase One of the park and we can look forward to more exciting AR experiences being planned in the next Phase of this family-fun destination in the heart of the city.

Trickeye Johor Baru is located at Unit 106 – 108 on Level Five, Johor Baru City Square, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, 80000 Johor Baru, Johor.

Open daily from 10am to 10pm with the last admission at 9pm.

Ticket prices are for Adult and Student/Child below age 12/Persons with Disability, while entry for seniors over age 70 and kids below 36 months old, is Free-of-Charge.

Advance booking is recommended for groups of more than 20 people.

For enquiries, Tel: +607 220 0250.
For ticket prices and package deals, visit website: www.trickeye.com/malaysia

Note: Photos courtesy of Johor Baru Collective Media (JOCOM) members.

Social Heroes honoured by IMSHA 2019

A Prince and a host of Heroes* – those honoured in previous years and those waiting to be unveiled – were gathered in this gala banquet.

His Highness Tunku Idris Iskandar Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Johor
congratulating the IMSHA 2019 social heroes on stage
*These heroes are not your usual superheroes who wear capes, masks or their underwear outside because they don’t have any superpowers but are social heroes who are going about doing selfless social work, unconditionally.

It was the much-anticipated event to celebrate unsung heroes in our community through the sixth Iskandar Malaysia Social Heroes Award (IMSHA 2019), graced by His Highness Tunku Idris Iskandar Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Ibrahim, the Tunku Temenggong of Johor.

The IMSHA, an annual community-led initiative driven by The Iskandarian newspapers and Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), aims to spot, recognise and support the good work done by the social heroes in our community.

My invitation to this annual gala event
This annual awards event has developed into the region’s premier recognition award for individuals and organisations engaging in community service and this year, the bar had been raised even higher as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were included as part of the scoring criteria.

This is because earlier this year, IMSHA had teamed up with the United Nations Country Team Malaysia to align the awards to the UN’s global goals and the 2030 Agenda.

In fact, the bar had been raised because the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were included as part of the scoring criteria.  

With this partnership, IMSHA is now recognised as a “Good Practice SDG Award Provider” by the United Nations Country Team Malaysia.  

This year, a total of 301 nominations were received from the public. These nominees were assessed against a Social Impact Rating System, which in turn was monitored by SIRIM. 

An additional layer of complexity was added to the judging where the nominees’ contribution had to fulfil either one of the seventeen SDGs as part of the scoring.

One for the album: The deserving social heroes in IMSHA 2019 with their awards and certificates
These shortlisted candidates were presented to a panel of seven judges known as the Leadership Council, who then selected the winners. 

IMSHA 2019 honoured a total of 20 award winners in 11 categories, ten for individuals, nine for CSO/NGOs and one company in the CSR category.

The 11 categories of the much-coveted (individual or organisation) awards are Animal & Wildlife Protection, Disaster Relief, Public Safety, Education Advancement, Environmental Preservation/Protection, Health Services, Human Empowerment, Poverty & Hunger Relief, Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Innovator, and Arts, Culture & Heritage.

IMSHA Chairman, Thanam
“IMSHA aims to recognise Civil Society Organisations (CSO), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Faith-Based Organisations (FBO), Corporations and Individuals for the exemplary work they do in serving the needs of our community. 

Through the awards, we hope to shine the spotlight on the value of volunteerism, and the need for all to share the responsibility of working towards a more inclusive, compassionate and effective society,” said IMSHA Chairman, Thanam Visvanathan-Suresh.

“Our comprehensive scoring system, which selectively measures performance across a range of indicators, ensures that the chosen winners are truly deserving. It cannot be over-emphasised that the IMSHA is an award that cannot be bought,” she added.

In her opening address, Thanam also acknowledged founding Chairman, Edey Suresh of The Iskandarian, who was instrumental in forging IMSHA’s partnership with the United Nations Country Team Malaysia.

While the dinner banquet was being served, the awards ceremony got underway as each of the Social Heroes were publicly recognised with the presentation of a certificate and a trophy.

Haji Shafie Ahmad receiving his award on stage
Every year I am impressed that IMSHA receives an increasing number of nominees – identified by the public – and how the shortlisted candidates were reviewed and duly considered by the Leadership Council before they reached a unanimous decision on the most deserving nominees.

As Thanam said, the winners were indeed the social heroes who are truly deserving.

So when the name of my friend, Haji Shafie, was announced as the Individual winner in the Arts, Culture & Heritage category, I clapped and cheered loudly.

Hj Shafie is my contact point for Malay culture and heritage in Johor and we share a working relationship that goes back many years.

Hj Shafie with his trophy and certificate
With his help, I had the privilege to share stories on the timeless beauty of Johor Busana – Johor traditional costumes – when these elegant outfits were presented by Yayasan Warisan Johor or the Johore Heritage Foundation.

I also had the pleasure to share in Malay culture and heritage experiences when the Foundation hosted a visit with members of the JB International Women’s Association, where Hj Shafie impressed them as a fountain of information and an exceptional host.

He probably did not know that I was seated in the hall because my phone suddenly signaled and when I looked, I saw several photographs of Hj Shafie with his IMSHA Award and his heart-warming message which reads:

“I believe you are one of them who always give me full support … thank you.”

The eloquent MC continued to announce the list of award-winners one after the other and when he introduced the winner in the category for Public Safely, my ears pricked up because he was describing someone familiar – Batcy Wong.

Batch Wong receiving her award on stage
The residents in Taman Kebun Teh and Melodies Gardens would also be familiar with her as she took the lead to help in the improvement in the safety and comfort for residents in that neighbourhood.

On a personal note, Batcy is the ideal person who took over as Class Administrator in an international Bible Study for ladies, when I stepped down after 12 years in that role.

So I happily joined the audience in loud applause as Batcy certainly deserved to win this year’s IMSHA award for Public Safety.

The full list of (Individual) Social Heroes honoured by IMSHA 2019 are:

1. Animal & Wildlife - Jeffrey Wong Hui Hin
2. Arts, Culture & Heritage - Haji Ahmad Shafie Bin Ahmad
3. Disaster Relief – Jamilah binti Zainal
4. Education Advancement - Thayala Rajah Selvaduray
5. Environmental Preservation & Protection - Aaduka Fairuz Sukses
6. Health Services - Azwana Hasan
7. Human Empowerment - Mrs Mageswari Moorthy
8. Poverty & Hunger Relief - Alex Tong Jee Leong
9. Social Innovator - Ms Chong Siew Hua
10. Public Safety - Batcy Wong

The full list of (Organisation) Social Heroes honoured by IMSHA 2019 are:

1. Animal & Wildlife  [No winner]
2. Arts & Culture - Orkestra Darul Takzim
3. Disaster Relief - Special Mention Award: Bomba Pasir Gudang
4. Education Advancement - NGO Kolektivis
5. Environmental Preservation & Protection - Green Earth Society (GES)
6. Health Services - St John Ambulance Malaysia
7. Human Empowerment - Baitus Solehah Caring Centre
8. Poverty & Hunger Relief - Free Market Johor
9. Social Innovator - Momo Love Concept
10. Public Safety - Persatuan Silat Kalimah Negeri Johor
11. CSR - Tesco Stores (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd

Sharing the joy with Batcy Wong on her deserving win!
IMSHA 2019 was sponsored by Visionary Sponsors Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ) and Maslee Express; Advocate Sponsors AME Development Sdn Bhd; and Builder Sponsors Iskandar Investment Berhad and The Pasar; with Pulai Springs Resort as the official venue.

Nominations are invited from the public for nominees in the seventh Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards 2020 and may be submitted through The Iskandarian’s website, www.theiskandarian.com.

Further information on IMSHA is found on www.facebook.com/socialheroawards