At KDU's Malaysiana Forum 2019

I read with interest, the letter from KDU University College with an invitation to be a Panellist at their Malaysiana Forum 2019.

Shalini  [Left] with the Panel at Malaysiana Forum 2019,
[L to R] Tunku Halim, E S Shanker and Yours Truly
A brief intro explained that this forum was an annual event organised by the Department of General Studies to highlight issues related to Malaysian history, arts and culture.

The letter went on to introduce this year’s theme, Appreciating Works of Malaysian Authors, and listed the forum’s objectives to expose students to works published by local authors so that they can learn from their experience.

Details of the event, to be held in their campus in Glenmarie, Shah Alam, were given and the letter was signed by the Academic Department Head in the School of Communication & Creative Arts, Mohamad Zaki Samsudin.

Meanwhile, Shalini Namasivayam, Lecturer in the Department of General Studies, was liaising with me by WhatsApp chat and emails to answer my volley of questions.

Mohamad Zaki Samsudin is next to me in this group shot
When I received any invitation, I wanted to have a clearer picture of the event before considering it favourably.

Over the next few days, Shalini patiently provided me with all the info I needed to know to help me decide on making this special trip to Shah Alam.

Incidentally, the other two authors invited to on the Panel, are based in Kuala Lumpur and I’m the only one from outstation – Johor Baru.

Curious to know how they found me, I asked Shalini. She said it was in fact, En Zaki, her Department Head, who picked me! [I would later discover that he’s familiar with my blog, My Johor Stories and his family was from Muar in Johor.]

Look! Three wide screens...
Shalini did well in communicating with the Panellists and among other things, she told us that 25 minutes were allocated for each presentation and we may even include a reading from our books.

All the Panellists knew that this was far too short a time to cram in so much, but I the Johor Storyteller, accepted the challenge to keep my presentation short and sweet.

Closer to the date, Shalini shared the event programme and I was not surprised to read that I was listed as the first to give my presentation. Ladies first…

My fellow Panellists are two gentlemen, E S Shankar, author of satirical books based on Malaysian politics, while Tunku Halim, also known as Malaysia’s prince of darkness, writes horror stories! [By the way, he’s a real Prince from the Negeri Sembilan royal family.]

E S Shanker speaking to the audience
It was interesting that the organisers chose authors of fiction and non-fiction from different genres to form the Panel in the 2019 Malaysiana Forum.

My drive from JB to KL was smooth during midweek and I remember there was a sudden downpour just before the event, planned for 2pm.

Parking spaces were reserved for the Panellists close to the front porch and I was warmly welcomed by Hsin Yi, who escorted me to the event in Lecture Theatre 2.

On our walk to the event hall we chatted, and I learnt that she was a staff member with KDU for the past 19 years.

At the foyer, I was pleased to meet the MPH retail team who were arranging my books, getting them ready for sale.

I was also glad to see some stock of Book 1, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage (already sold-out at many MPH bookstores!) and its sequel, My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People.

The final speaker was Tunku Halim
Two days ahead of the event, Shalini sent me the event poster which was brightly designed in shades of Orange colour so I instantly recognised it, electronically flashed onto three – yes, three – wide screens on the front wall of the Lecture Theatre.

“Wow! Three screens…” I yelled in silence.

… And thought, “This would mean my presentation would also be flashed on these three screens – and nobody should miss a thing!”

Still amused by the three large screens, I was introduced to fellow Panellists, E S Shanker and Tunku Halim, and invited to sit on the first row of seats.

Meanwhile, Shalini was setting up the laptop for my presentation and three chairs were arranged for the Panellists to sit and face the audience at the final part of the programme.

As the event host, Shalini kicked off the programme with words of welcome and invited En Zaki to give his opening address. 

Signing my books for these young men...
Then it was time for my presentation. But before I launched into sharing about My Johor Stories, I asked the audience if anyone was from Johor.

A few hands shot up in the air and I was pleased to have the camaraderie of fellow Johoreans who would certainly relate better to My Johor Stories

This old adage, “Time flies when you are having fun,” came true when a young lady came forward discreetly and pasted a Post-It sticker on the desk in front of me, with a reminder that I had only five minutes left!

It was a small comfort to me (that I was not the only one who needed a reminder!) when this young lady gave similar reminders to the other two Panellists…

Signing their books for En Zaki
There would never be enough time for authors, who naturally have a lot to share…

I recalled that Shalini explained that time was limited because students in the audience had classes to attend after the event.

In the final part of the Forum, the Panellists were invited to sit in front of the audience to answer questions from the floor.

As the Panellists took turns to respond to questions that were not only about the authors’ experience and opinion but also on current social issues, Shalini was keeping a close watch on the time.

Signing En Zaki's book which he had bought in advance
At the close of the event, En Zaki presented souvenirs to the Panellists and invited us to his office for some refreshments.

But before that, the authors autographed their books for students and lecturers as cameras clicked to capture photo mementoes.

Our book-signing continued in the office over light refreshments as we got to know each other better.

Speaking on behalf of her colleagues, Shalini thanked me for accepting their invitation and said: “We enjoyed your presentation. It was like travelling in Johor!”

It was indeed my pleasure and privilege to encourage and inspire the good people at KDU University College, Glenmarie, Shah Alam, with My Johor Stories.

One for the album: The authors who formed the Panel at Malaysiana Forum 2019 and the KDU University College team
On my drive back to JB, my thoughts flashed back to the event and how the audience responded to my reply in the final question… and I know I've done Johor proud.

P.S. It had indeed been a most eventful day for me. 

Wow! I was on National TV with the FOLO Farmers!
A day ago, I received a message from the Producer at Moro Films informing me that the documentary that they made of the FOLO Farm would be broadcast on TV2 the next morning and hoped I would be able to catch it.

I quickly replied, saying that it was not likely I could be in front of a television because I was heading to the event with KDU University College in Shah Alam and asked that she send me a link to the show when it was ready to be shared.

After the event, as I was leaving the KDU premises, I received a message from Dr Lemuel Ng, one of the urban farmers at FOLO Farm, who said: "Thank you Peggy. We are so happy that you are on National TV with us." He also sent a screen shot of me speaking in the documentary!

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