Meet Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar


I was introduced to Dr. Sharifah Halimah Jaafar when we were guests, seated next to each other at a dinner event. The next time we met was at a celebration organized by the Johor Bahru chapter of the International Women’s Association to commemorate International Women’s Day 2017 that featured Dr. Sharifah, among other guest speakers, who shared inspiring experiences that deeply encouraged and empowered the women.


Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar at her clinic
in Gleneagles Medini Hospital, Iskandar Puteri

The audience listened with rapt attention to her deeply personal experience as Dr. Sharifah spoke with passion about clinging to the hope of the blue sky, which inspired her determination to adopt her mother’s courage to break down the barriers of domestic violence and poverty to find her path to success.


Now Dr. Sharifah is not only the most popular gynecologist in Johor (by Google search) but also a most passionate and dedicated doctor when it came to delivering health services to her patients.


And for two consecutive years, 2020 and 2021, her practice at Dr. Sharifah Women’s Clinic and Laparoscopic Surgery was the award recipient of the Best Obstetrics & Gynaecology Clinic of the Year in the Asia Pacific awarded by Global Healthcare Asia Pacific.


Academic Background & Area of Interest


Dr. Sharifah’s career in medicine started in 1991 when she received her primary medical degree from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and completed her Master’s Degree of Medicine in Obstetrics & Gynaecology from UKM in 2001.


She was posted to Taiping Hospital, Perak, the first hospital where she worked as a clinical specialist until 2004 before she left to start her private practice in KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital. She moved to Johor Bahru in 2014 and worked in Regency Specialist Hospital until recently, when she moved her practice to Gleneagles Hospital Medini, in Iskandar Puteri.


Dr. Sharifah is very passionate about advanced technology in gynae surgery. In 2003, when Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) or key-hole surgery was at its infancy in Malaysia, Dr. Sharifah saw MIS as a way forward and beneficial for women who needed surgery as it was less painful, leaves smaller scars and has faster recovery compared to open abdomen surgery.


Driven by the passion for acquiring the skills for better care, she then began her long journey and learning curve in operative laparoscopy. She received hands-on training in Minimally Invasive Surgery from renowned local and international experts in this field.


Dr Sharifah at the lounge in
her clinic at Gleneagles Medini

After completing a hands-on Advanced Gynae-Laparoscopic course in the IRCAD Centre, Taiwan, she completed the accredited International Society of Gynae-Endoscopy (ISGE) course of Bachelor in Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIGS) from the International Society of Gynae-Endoscopy in 2018.


Through continuous learning and perfecting her skills for the improved outcome of surgery, Dr. Sharifah completed a Diploma course in Advanced Minimal Invasive Surgery with the University of Schleswig Holstein-Keil, Germany, in 2020.


As an experienced gynecologist who was performing approximately 350 to 400 cases of advanced gynae laparoscopic and hysteroscopic surgery per year, that ranged from simple to complex cases, Dr. Sharifah strongly believes that with the advanced surgical technology available today, no woman should have a big ugly scar to remove a disease in her abdomen. To her, it was a matter of time before open abdomen surgery will become obsolete.


As a woman and mother of three children, Dr. Sharifah understands that women were generally concerned and fearful about undergoing surgery which involves a long process of recovery, long-term complications, and its impact on their body, family and employment.


Minimally Invasive Surgery helps to lessen their fear and to make an early decision on treatment of their health condition as mothers are understandably keen to be back on their feet again to care for the family and go about their daily routines as soon as possible.


Endometriosis Center of Excellence


Through the years of her practice, Dr. Sharifah developed a deep interest in helping women with endometriosis, a chronic disease which destroys women’s quality of life due to chronic pain and infertility.


Facade of clinic in Gleneagles Medini Hospital

The majority of women who are impacted by this disease are young women who are under siege by the disease symptoms during their productive age.


Unfortunately, endometriosis is also the most misunderstood disease with myths and stigmas as its symptoms are often dismissed as normal menstrual pain. This results in a delay in diagnosis and treatment and prolonged suffering in many women.


In a continuous effort to increase public awareness about this disease, Dr. Sharifah, who was recently appointed as Medical Advisor, along with the Endometriosis Society of Malaysia, run many advocacy and awareness programmmes to support women suffering from the disease and increase the rate of early diagnosis and treatment ,especially among young women. 


Aware of her lack of expertise specializing in endometriosis to treat advanced diseases, especially deeply infiltrating diseases, Dr. Sharifah decided to increase her credentials by completing a double Master’s course, the Master of Science of Anatomical Landmarks and Master in Surgical Management of Deeply Infiltrating Endometriosis from the Minimal Invasive Surgery (MIS) Academy, Dubai (UAE) led by Prof Dr. A.Wattiez, a world-renowned expert in endometriosis surgery.


At Gleneagles Hospital Medini, Dr Sharifah aims to develop a Center of Excellence for Endometriosis where all treatment modalities, up-to-date technology for early diagnosis and treatment of advanced disease, and highly skilled surgical expertise are made available under-one-roof to provide better and long-term care for women with endometriosis.


Award-Winning Clinic of the Year


With a firm commitment to providing service excellence to patients, Dr. Sharifah and her team at Dr. Sharifah, Clinic for Women & Laparoscopic Surgery was awarded the Best Obstetrician & Gynaecologist Clinic of the Year in the Asia Pacific for two consecutive years, 2020 and 2021 by Global Healthcare Asia-Pacific.


According to Dr. Sharifah, the essence of winning this award centered primarily on her team’s efforts to provide the best quality patient-centered service.


“We treat every patient with respect and see them as part of our family and friends in need and extend personalized care to them beyond their primary medical and surgical condition, sometimes even beyond the ‘hospital walls’, she said.


On Food & Beverages Business


Knowing that a healthy outside always starts from the inside, Dr. Sharifah opened H Gourmet in 2021, the first sous vide-themed café in the nation that serves Go-WellSpring (GWS) Gourmet Healthy Food to encourage diners to eat good and feel good.


Some ready-to-eat takeaways from H Gourmet

I was delighted to witness her foray into Food & Beverage when I met Dr. Sharifah again at the opening of H Gourmet, a Muslim-friendly café at Taman Eko Botani, Iskandar Puteri.


This café serves calorie-controlled meals in a dine-in menu, chilled, ready-to-eat takeaways, and tender sous vide products with easy-to-prepare reheating instructions to eat at home.


Healthy does not mean food must taste bland. Their products use high-protein, low-fat and nutrient-rich meats that are marinated with 100% Italian extra-virgin olive oil, Himalaya salt, and fresh herbs, prepared through the sous vide method before they are vacuum sealed for food safety.


While it may sound like a cliché, Dr. Sharifah agrees that we are what we eat. As she helps patients to have a better quality of life, she also encouraging everyone to adopt a healthier diet with a menu of perfectly cooked, nutrient-rich, healthy food in gourmet meals to savor for fitness and good health.


Dr. Sharifah Clinic for Women & Laparoscopic Surgery is located at Gleneagles Medini Hospital, Suite 609 & 610, No. 2 Jalan Medini Utara 4, 79250 Masai, Johor.


For more info about Dr Sharifah’s research, publications and medical affiliations, visit website:

A version of this was first published in The Iskandarian online on 29 April 2022.

My books for Alice...


“Congrats on your recent interview which I found so interesting.


My Johor Stories, Book One and Book Two

There were so many insights which I was not aware of, being someone who did not grow up in Johor Baru,” said Alice in her WhatsApp message on April 10, the day after My Johor Stories was featured in the Let’s Talk show on Astro Awani television station.


“I was wondering if I could get autographed copies of your two books for my husband as he can associate with the stories you wrote about. I want to surprise him with the books!” she said before we went on to discuss about how to get this done.


I know Alice had married a Johor Baru guy and she asked if I remembered him…


My two books, tied up in ribbons

Alice was a former Primary Six classmate in the Johor Baru Convent and I remember waiting with her at the back gate for our transport to collect us after school.


I had a Bas Sekolah to ferry me back to Masai where my parents were based for work while Alice and her younger sister, Ivy, would be collected by their Ah Kong or grandfather in his car, painted a bright shade of blue.


We were in different classes during Secondary school, went our separate ways after leaving school and only met again at our first school reunion event where I learnt that she had settled down in Kuala Lumpur.


In our recent phone chat, Alice said that she and her husband had planned to travel to Johor Baru in April but plans had to change due to unforeseen circumstances.


She then suggested to get her niece, Elaine, who lived near Austin Heights in Johor Baru to help coordinate my book-signing and to send the books to her in Kuala Lumpur.


Thanks to Alice and her interest in My Johor Stories that we discovered that my books were listed but Currently Unavailable from MPH online.


Two years had passed since the start of the global pandemic and the lockdowns which resulted in a great deal of changes in the economy.


Among the businesses that had no alternative but to cease their operations included hotels, restaurants and bookstores like the MPH bookstores in Johor Baru.


A check with MPH Publishing Kuala Lumpur confirmed that their bookstore at Senai International Airport was already closed and that MPH no longer has a presence in Johor Baru.


This sad news compelled me to do a thorough search through my own collection of books to see if I had any spare copies of books for Alice.


I was delighted to let Alice know that I found the two books she wanted, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage and My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People (with a photograph as proof!) and was pleased to part with them so that she could present them to her dear husband.


In another phone chat, I asked Alice what message she would like written with my autograph in the books before her niece collected them from me.


“Will ask Elaine to message you directly to make the arrangement,” said Alice.


My books within a carrier bag, 
at the car service centre

Meanwhile, since the long periods of lockdown, I have delayed sending my car for its regular servicing because I hardly travelled long distance except for grocery shopping.


As usual, the Customer Service staff will send several text messages to remind me about the due date for my car to be serviced – and I had ignored them.


But because I had an appointment in Muar to meet with the founder of the award-winning High-Pole Lion Dance troop, I thought I should reply the service centre to confirm the appointment and get my car tuned up before I drove out-station.


Since my car service centre is located at Taman Desa Tebaru, close to Austin Heights where Alice’s niece was, I thought it was an ideal spot for a rendezvous to pass my autographed books to her.


Handing over my books to Elaine at the
car service centre in Taman Desa Tebrau

As soon as I had fixed my appointment with the service centre, I informed Alice who shared my message and contact number with her niece.


Before heading to the service centre, I got my books autographed, tied up neatly in ribbons and put into a carrier bag, ready to be handed over to Elaine.


The car service centre is linked to the showroom and furnished with a comfortable lounge area so while I waited for my car to be ready, I will plug in my laptop and get some work done.


Photo proof from Alice to show me
that my books were safely received!

While I was waiting to hand over my car to the service consultant, I sent a message to Elaine (with a photo!) to let her know that I was already there and she could come over to meet me for the books, at her convenience. Elaine replied that she was on the way over.


Nearby, some car owners were looking through the glass wall, observing while their cars they were being serviced. I politely asked one of them to help me capture a photo memento to document the handing-over of my books to Elaine.


Alice was amused to receive this photo of the ‘official hand-over’ but had not made any arrangements about retrieving the books from Elaine as there was no hurry and no particular occasion for her to present my books to her husband.


This loving wife just knew that her husband will appreciate my stories because he was very proud of being a Johorean.


I told Alice that I can relate to this sentiment because we Johoreans often boast about the “01” in our identity numbers.


Alice presenting my books to her
dear husband in Kuala Lumpur

[Looking back to November 2018, just ahead of the launch of Book Two of My Johor Stories on December 1, I learnt that this book was already on sale in MPH bookstores nationwide for the Christmas and year-end shopping season.


It was an unforgettable delight to discover from an Instagram post that my Book Two was presented to none other than His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim for his birthday.]


After my books were passed to Elaine, the very next day, Alice reciprocated by sending me photos as proof that she had safely received my books and said, “Received today in good order!”


Elaine had dispatched my books via courier and they were safely delivered to Alice by midday the next day. That same evening, Alice presented my books to her husband.


Happy Reading and reminiscing on Johor!


Note: We stay hopeful that mphonline will make my books, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage and My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People, available again very soon.

Build the Thrills at LEGOLAND Malaysia


For the very first time, LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort has transformed the park into a world of racetracks for the all-new Build the Thrills Festival, on now till June 26.


Divisional Director at LEGOLAND Malaysia
Resort, C S Lim, flagging off the Build the
Thrills festival at the launch event

The love for vehicles, racing and speed will ignite the thrill for many children and adults at this, first ever vehicle and racing themed festival.


The festival brings together a host of buzzing activities and entertaining shows to keep everyone’s engines roaring with excitement, including a chance to see and capture photo mementoes with the iconic scaled-up LEGO® Ferrari 512 M model.


Weighing a whopping 280kg, and measuring 2700 x 1200 x 700 mm, the life-sized 3-Dimensional version took 164 hours of design and develop, and another 480 hours to build with 78,496 bricks.


Check out the iconic LEGO Ferrari 512 M...

During the festival, guests may let their creativity and imagination flow to build, test and race LEGO® vehicles of their dreams.


“Every activity we have curated for the festival at LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort came through our passion. We want to create memorable moments for kids and their families as they spend quality time together and learn through play,” said Divisional Director at LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort, C S Lim.


“Guests can engage in thematic role-plays, take part in friendly challenges with awesome prizes and celebrate the best moments together with daily live performances we have prepared,” he added.


Watch an impressive line-up at the
Stunt Show in a live performance

This event marks one of the largest partnerships between LEGO and LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort, designed for visitors to embrace the love of speed, cars, fun, imagination, and of course, LEGO.


Guests can look forward to a fresh and enhanced experience at popular attractions within the theme park.


This includes the all-time favourite Driving School, that features a wider variety of vehicles, safe for children to drive and a chance to earn the Best Driver Medal.


Have fun testing your own-built model vehicle

Guests who wish to take the challenge up a notch are invited to the LEGO® Mindstorms zone for a series of STEM-based workshops, robotic maze racer, as well as to build and test a vehicle using LEGO® Technic.

“As children return to schools after a prolonged break, this event complements learning through play by enabling an immersive build experience to unleash their imagination and stimulate their creativity.


At Build the Thrills, we are generating both exciting and creative experiences such as pit-stop building activities and testing centres, that allow children to embrace expressing themselves while interacting with others,” C S explained.


You could be a winner at the Lucky Draw every
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, for a thrill to
stand on the winners' podium

Enjoy Live Shows where guests can sing and dance along with the stars of LEGO Friends of Heartlake City, dressed in brand-new racing outfits at the Friends Rally Showcase.


In addition to the daily opening and farewell shows, there will also be an impressive line-up of Stunt Shows, Tech Mech, and Bike Stunts. [Fun to watch but please DO NOT try it at home!]


Guests may also meet the LEGO racers: the Technical Builder, the Speed Champion, and the City Racer, all dressed in racing gear.


Be sure to also catch fantastic characters Emmet, Wyldstyle, Elvie and Bricky around the resort.


Guess who was the First Prize winner too?
[No prizes for the right guess.] Photo by Sis Lin.

Love a good mystery and problem to solve? Get your detective hat on to find and spot unique LEGO vehicles throughout the Theme Park.


Double down on the action with the Pit Stop Building Activity where you can build your very own racing car or stunt vehicle and put it to the test.


Fire up your competitive side with Rescue Academy. Be the fastest family to finish the fire rescue challenge to win a badge for the kids.


Check out the LEGO golden trophy!
Photo by Carol Tai.

Daily Lucky Draw with amazing gifts every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, where winners can experience standing on a podium during the prize giving ceremony.


A variety of certificates of achievement to earn by completing the build activities. Visit the Track Attack Showcase, where kids can try out the epic vehicles.


Fuel your energy at the Food Truck and The Café where the kid’s meal will be served on a car dinner plate, available only during the festival.


For more information on LEGOLAND Build the Thrills, head over to the official website at or LEGOLAND social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet-up with Mejar Cina Dato' Wong


Under Memories in my 2017 Bestseller, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, I introduced my family with stories like Where Champions Were Born and The Real Champion, and We are OCBC.


Our meet-up with Mejar Cina Dato' David
Wong [Right] and Philip Wong [Centre]

Then in 2018, I continued my family stories in My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People with Our Family Ties where I shared about Grandfather’s side of the family and our link to the Wong Family in Johor through Grandmother’s side of the family, as well as Badminton is in the Blood.


While I started working on the manuscript for Book Three in 2019, the global pandemic which reached our shores in early 2020, put us through an unprecedented time of fear and distress, which also put a halt to my work schedule that included plans to meet with the subjects featured in my book.


The long periods of lockdowns which started from March 18, 2020, stretched from two weeks to two months and eventually to two years.


Dato David Wong and me...

As I stayed home to stay safe, the time was well spent in working on my manuscript and staying in touch with some of my subjects through the marvel of modern technology, video and phone calls.


When the economy reopened with travel allowed in 2022, the time was ripe to pick up where I left off in 2019. And I did not hesitate to fix appointments to meet with the subjects featured in Book Three.


Under Memories in Book Three of My Johor Stories, I will share more of what are popularly called my grandfather stories like, Growing Up in Grandfather’s House, Badminton Glory Days and another story on our link with the Wong Family in Johor that will feature Mejar Cina, Dato' David Wong Khong Soon.


Signing my books for Uncle Dato,
with the Wong family Chok Po
in the foreground

My story on our modern-day Mejar Cina will include a brief historical background of the Mejar Cina in Johor with relevant details of the bond established between the Johor Rulers with the local community and our family link with Mejar Cina, Dato' David Wong.


Readers who have read, Our Family Ties in Book Two of My Johor Stories will be familiar with how I discovered our link to the Wong Family in Johor.


In September 2020, when His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim revived the title of Mejar Cina in Johor and appointed our Uncle David to the role of Mejar Cina, I documented this in my story, Modern-Day Mejar Cina Wong.


Then the Wong Clan Association of Johor Baru was established in October 2020, and Mejar Cina Wong was honoured with the role of Honorary Chairman.


While he was decorated with the Darjah Sultan Ibrahim Johor Yang Amat Disanjungi Pangkat Ketiga Setia Mulia Sultan Ibrahim Johor or SIJ award by the Johor Sultan in 2017, Mejar Cina Wong received the DMIJ or Dato’ Mulia Sulatan Ibrahim Johor award in November 2020, which carries the honorific, Dato’.


The Chok Po opened to the page which records
the name of Wong Ah Fook as Fook Kei

The Johor Sultanate, in its wisdom and from the advice set down by Sultan Abu Bakar on the stringent conferment of awards, made them rare and the most valuable of honours in the country.


Also in November 2020, I read about an event where His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim presented the Wong Clan Association of Johor Baru with RM100,000 as the seed fund to develop a heritage gallery in Johor Baru, a project that augurs well for the preservation of culture and heritage in Johor.


This was the topic of our telephone chat in January this year where Uncle Dato shared his views about this heritage gallery. He said that when it happens, it would be a dream-come-true for the Chinese community in Johor.


The Chok Po opened to the page with the
record of the Wong family tree

While this project was still at its initial stages, he was confident that it would become a reality, particularly as it was a project approved by His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim.


On the morning of our appointment to review my manuscript together, we were joined by Uncle’s cousin, Philip Wong Khong Fei.


Philip Wong came in, hugging a large book to his chest and when he placed it on the table, I saw that its cover was inscribed with Chinese characters.


Its cover looked weathered from handling and understandably so because he explained that it was a Chok Po (in Cantonese), a book which records their Wong family tree.


Dato David Wong [Left] with
Philip Wong [Right] at the 
 Wong Clan Association 2020

I told Uncle Dato that I was familiar with his father, Dato Jason Wong Peng Long, because he used to visit our grandmother at No. 154 Jalan Ngee Heng. They were cousins and they often enjoyed social visits to chit-chat in the Seiyap dialect.


My childhood memories are vivid because I clearly remember how he used to address grandmother as, Cheong Hai Tei. [Ah Tei is a respectful title which means ‘older sister’ in Seiyap dialect.]


This led to a quick check on how well I could understand the dialect. Uncle Dato teased me with a question and I could reply, but the conclusion was: Very Little.


This reminded me of a visit by Uncle Peter, eldest brother of Uncle Dato, where we had dinner together and it was funny how he spoke comfortably in Seiyap but my mum, sister and I could hardly understand, least of all, speak in this dialect.


In our chat, I learnt how Uncle Dato and Philip were related as cousins. While Philip’s grandmother was Mak Qui Tong, Uncle Dato’s grandmother was Mak Pek Ngiew, the older of the two sisters, our grandmother’s aunts, who were married to Kwong Yam, their grandfather.


Philip Wong at the arch entrance to Spectacles 
Village in Taishan county, Guangdong, China

When Philip looked at the cover design of my Book Two, he saw the photograph of their grandfather featured on the Bottom Righthand corner and said, “Ah Yeh,” Cantonese for ‘grandfather.’


Philip, who has a heart for their family heritage, was keen to discover more about the Wong family and sought to visit the province in Guangdong, China, in search of the village where Wong Ah Fook’s family lived.


It was on his third visit to China in Oct 2019 that he finally found his way to the village of Wong Ah Fook, Yangjingchun or Spectacles Village, in Taishan County in the province of Guangdong.


An information plaque with
photos of Wong Wang Yueng,
Wong Ah Fook's great-
grandfather, and Wong Ah Fook

Philip’s visit coincided with the time when the family, represented by the great-grand nephew of Wong Ah Fook, were performing a traditional ritual of renovating the tomb of Wong Ah Fook’s mother, where her remains were removed and re-buried in her grave and replaced with a new tombstone. 


Philip explained that the design of her tombstone looked grand and was marked by a central crown on top to honour her for her service to the government.


In his conversation with the great-grand nephew of Wong Ah Fook, Philip learnt that Wong Ah Fook was just a teenager aged 17 when he fled to the region in South Asia, known as Nanyang.


When he had established himself as a builder and contractor in Johor, Wong then returned to his village in China.


It was then that he adopted Wong Kwong Yam as his son, and brought Kwong Yam with him to Johor. Kwong Yam was the son of Wong’s only brother, Wing Kee, who had died young,


The refurbished tomb of Wong Ah Fook's
mother in Spectacles Village, 2019

In Johor, Kwong Yam went to a Malay school and being conversant in the language, he was Wong’s Business Manager who successfully conducted their family business.


Known to locals as Towkay Ah Yam, Kwong Yam was married to two of our grandmother’s aunts, the Mak sisters – Mak Qui Tong and Mak Pek Ngiew – the mothers of the Wong brothers, our grandmother’s cousins.


Philip then turned the pages of the Chok Po and opened to the pages which listed the name of Wong Ah Fook and his given name, Fook Kei – Cantonese version of Kee – and another page which listed the genealogy of their Wong family in China.


The record was written in Chinese characters but Philip had written the English version in pencil next to the Chinese characters for his easy reference.


This was a good meet-up with Uncle Dato and Philip, particularly important was the traditional word-of-mouth record from the great-grand nephew of Wong Ah Fook in Spectacles Village, because it was proof that the Wong family in Johor are indeed directly linked to Johor pioneer and builder, Wong Ah Fook.


My Johor Stories, Books
One and Two, in hardcover
and softcover versions

It was interesting that just as Wong had a good working relationship with Sultan Abu Bakar in the building of palaces and landmarks in Johor, Mejar Cina Wong also cherishes a close relationship with His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, not only in managing the Mados oil palm plantations but also as a trusted friend.


As Uncle Dato reviewed the manuscript that I had prepared, we paused at various stages for him to provide me with relevant details to fine-tune the document.


He was also able to share with me some illustrations from a souvenir book he received from a temple in Skudai that had preserved a surat sungai that was issued by Temenggong Abu Bakar in 1844 and the print from the official seal of the kangchu or River Master of the Lao chu kang that dates back to 1840.


While Mejar Cina Wong anticipates the publication of my story on Johor’s Major China in Book Three, it was my pleasure to autograph and present my books One and Two to him, for his reading pleasure. Happy Reading, Uncle Dato.