So good to see MBJB in action!


Terima Kasih!” I shouted repeatedly through the drizzle to the Majlis Bandaraya Johor Baru (MBJB) officer who was guiding the tow-truck operator to adjust the tow mechanism under the car it was about to tow away.


The loud honk from the MBJB tow-truck
attracted much attention along Jalan Trus

When he finally heard me and responded, I took the opportunity to ask him, how often he would be doing this and he replied, “Banyak kali,” meaning ‘many times’ and I again, thanked him for his good work.


I have long insisted that errant drivers who parked indiscriminately in the heart of the city needed to be educated and encouraged to use proper parking places instead of parking on double Yellow Lines and obstructing other road users.


Recently, I was in Downtown Johor Baru again and I was more than pleased to observe how the Johor Baru City Council was taking a serious view of indiscriminate parking along roads, road shoulders and pavements.


Remember: NO PARKING
on Double Yellow Lines

It was a shame to see drivers of sophisticated, high-powered cars, complete with tinted glass windows, boldly trying to park half-way across raised pavements on the Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Walk – directly in my path on that pavement – so I had no alternative but to wave my pointed finger at the driver to indicate that, “This was not done.”


I could not see the driver through the heavily tinted glass but I am sure he/she could see me. And he/she then reversed and decided not to park in my path.


As efforts are made to make the city more walkable, it was an absolute shame to see the pavements occupied by parked cars that were obstructing pedestrians and tourists on walking tours.


While construction and improvements on the city roads are constantly in progress, it is important that vehicle owners DO NOT contribute to the road congestion.


In 2013 – ten years ago – I had written about such Demon Drivers (Streets Johor, The New Straits Times, 5 Nov 2013) and concluded that these drivers had no consideration for other road users and were simply too lazy to walk a distance from the parking lot or too stingy to pay parking fees.


In City Parking Woes (Streets Johor, The New Straits Times, 21 Nov 2013), I highlighted the city’s appalling traffic issues and how poor enforcement was allowing errant drivers to ignore the traffic/parking rules and continue making a mockery of the authorities.


I thanked this officer for a job well done

Finally, in 2023, TEN years later I witnessed the City Council tow truck doing its job to remove illegally parked cars from the road sides in our city centre.


The truck sounded its loud, attention-grabbing honk (several times!) to warn drivers to quickly remove their illegally parked vehicles from the road sides or risk being towed away.


After giving fair warning, the tow truck then proceeded to do its job to remove the vehicles, one by one.


Ready to tow away an illegally parked car

So when the errant drivers discovered their cars were gone from where they were illegally parked, they would probably curse and swear (first!) but they certainly KNOW that the City Council had done their job to remove these illegally parked vehicles.


There are proper parking places in the city and it was just a matter of the drivers’ attitude who choose to ignore the rules and decided to park wherever thought they could.


While it is even more convenient to use the cashless method of a cash-card to park at various carparks in the city, why not make use of this facility?


I am optimistic that the City Council will persevere in their effort to keep our roads free from illegally parked vehicles and encourage drivers to be more considerate to park at the right places and not let their vehicles obstruct other road users, especially emergency vehicles like Fire Engines and Ambulances.


Towed away ...
With throngs of visitors returning to our heritage quarter, it would be a total disaster for our city if emergency vehicles were not able to make their way to do their rescue jobs in case of any emergencies because of your illegally parked vehicles.


Once again, Banyak Terima Kasih – Thank You Very Much, to the Johor Baru City Council tow truck team for helping to educate and encourage drivers to park their vehicles at the proper parking places in the city.


It had been years since we were plagued by parking woes in the city but it is never too late to educate and encourage every generation of drivers to obey traffic rules.


Thank You, Johor Baru City Mayor and the Johor State Government authorities.


Keep up your good work in enforcing the rules for a better tomorrow!


To the people of Johor – who pride ourselves as Bangsa Johor – it is not impossible to set the fine example as an inclusive community where everyone has the right to use public facilities like our city roads, pavements and back-lanes while presenting a more welcome and walkable network of roads to visitors and pedestrians in Downtown Johor Baru.


Come on, Anak Johor. We can do this together!

Downtown Johor Baru: Segget Waterway


“Let’s meet on the bridge across Sungai Segget, where Jalan Ungku Puan meets Jalan Wong Ah Fook,” was my request to participants who registered to join the first Heritage Walk with My Johor Stories in the theme, Segget Waterway.


My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru
on Heritage Walk: Segget Waterway

This spot was our morning rendezvous on January 14, a much-anticipated Heritage Walk where participants were escorted by me in an interesting and informative time together on the Segget Walk, a promenade designed parallel to Sungai Segget.


As our Walk was mainly outdoors to rediscover some sites along our faithful, wonder waterway – now renewed and refreshed – I also reminded participants to wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes, bring along a hat or cap, and an umbrella if they so wished, as well as their own drinking water.


The Walk should start promptly at 10am so I was there by 9.30am to welcome everyone. On arrival, each participant was given a sticker to paste on the Top Right/Left of their shirt or blouse to identify them as part of this special Walk.


A view of the renewed and 
refreshed Segget River

The first to arrive was our videographer, Chong Han Sun of JB Twenty-Twenty, followed by Fairoz Md Said, a tour guide who told me he was there to learn more about our local heritage so that he could share relevant info with his guests.


Our Japanese friend, Mihoku Yui, joined us shortly and she was quick to say that she had devoted the day to joining my Downtown Johor Baru activities, first in this Heritage Walk and would continue later, in my Book Reading session.


I was more than delighted to hear this because the Heritage Walk experience would be completed by the Book Reading where I would read portions documented in My Johor Stories books that highlighted the same Subjects that we saw in our Walk.


For a more personal experience, the Heritage Walk was limited to only 10 people while the Book Reading – held in a hotel in Downtown Johor Baru – would accommodate a maximum of 25 participants.


Thank you Amari Johor Baru for
your partnership in my Downtown
Johor Baru Book Reading activity in 
January 2023

The Book Reading session for January was arranged in partnership with the Amari Johor Baru, the hotel that was built on the site of the former landmark cinemas, the Rex and Lido, along with the Suasana Suites and Zenith Lifestyle Centre.


Recently while my friends in the BrandCulture PR Marketing & Communications team were in the Amari Johor Baru for an assignment, they sent me a photograph of the promotion poster for the activities arranged in January for My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru, that was displayed in the hotel lobby.


It was just heart-warming to know that this hotel, which now stands on a significant site in our city, continues to support My Johor Stories.

In a few minutes, we were joined by Tengku Tarmizi Bin Tengku Aziz and his wife with two young children.


I was delighted to meet him and his family as I was recently e-introduced to Tengku Tarmizi of the Sultan Ismail Library at Jalan Datin Halimah, by Datin Patricia Lim through an email.


On the route along Segget Walk

Then a representative from Think City Johor Baru, Ms Nurul Nabila, also joined our group.


With the participants promptly assembled at the meeting point, we started our comfortable walk on the Segget Walk with short pauses to point out interesting sites along this historical waterway.


I enjoyed the spontaneous interaction among the participants, welcomed them to ask questions and the privilege they gave me to share any knowledge or information.


However, I did provide all the answers because some information was linked to the next Heritage Walks planned in the coming months. So I encouraged the participants to join me again to get their curiosity satisfied when we explored the other Walks.


A wall mural along Jalan Trus as
a tribute to the landmark cinemas,
Rex and Lido

As we looked closer at the bridges that spanned across Sungai Segget, I invited the participants to close their eyes and imagine how brave pioneer planters travelled by small boats – small enough to pass safely under the bridges – to reach their destinations upriver and to start a new life here.


We paused along the route to draw attention to how Johor’s pepper and gambier heritage was proudly honoured at the Segget Walk with motifs engraved on chrome pillars and boldly featured on the fence that bordered the refreshed river.


It was encouraging to observe that the participants were getting fresh insights into the sites I highlighted along the route, in particular their fascination about the first wet market that was once located at the area we now know as Jalan Segget.


On a walk-through of the Zenith Lifestyle Centre and into the lobby of the Amari Johor Baru, I had much pleasure to share with them about how the Amari Johor Baru had fondly preserved the heritage of the two landmark cinemas, Rex and Lido, by naming their function rooms by the very same names.


Participants with Mr Nagalingam at the Johor
Baru Public Toddy Shop, showing off their
limited edition My Johor Stories tote bags

Locals, familiar with these stand-alone cinema halls, would remember that these affordable entertainment centres were easily accessible from Jalan Wong Ah Fook and Jalan Trus. 


As a token of fond remembrance, I escorted the participants into the Zenith Lifestyle Centre – which also enjoys similar accessibility – from Jalan Wong Ah Fook and led them to exit to Jalan Trus.


And then we were off to Jalan Sulaiman, a short road which links Jalan Trus with Jalan Wong Ah Fook, and where the Johor Baru Public Toddy Shop was located.


A taste of fresh toddy with
light refreshments on our visit

Mr Nagalingam Chelladurai, who operates the business now, told us that he has the documents that proved that this property had existed since 1920.


A small metal plaque affixed to the building read as, JKR467, proof that it was Government property that ran a business that was originally operated by the Royal Malaysian Customs, Johor Baru.


When we arrived, it was interesting to observe a tourist – complete with luggage bag – who bought a takeaway bottle of fresh toddy and was making his way out.


Mr Nagalingam graciously welcomed us in and served light refreshments of homemade curry-puffs and vadai along with jugs of fresh toddy for us to sample.


This was our final destination in the Segget Waterway Heritage Walk and to close the activity, I presented each of the participants with a limited edition My Johor Stories tote bag filled with an autographed copy of My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, along with an exclusive My Johor Stories bookmark.


Book Reading session at the
Amari Johor Baru, January 2023

After a short break, I was back at the Amari Johor Baru again by about 1.30pm, where my Book Reading session was arranged in a function room on Level 21.


It was significant that this activity was held in this hotel that was built on the site of the former two landmark cinemas in Johor Baru.


As registered participants trickled in, Mihoko also arrived, just as she said she would.


I was deeply encouraged by the presence of Ms Lucy Cheng, who was visiting Johor Baru from the UK with her husband. Someone had shared the information about my Downtown Johor Baru activities that day and she was keen to join.


With Ms Lucy Cheng at the
Book Reading, Amari Johor Baru

She, however, had a prior commitment to attend a temple ceremony that morning so she had no alternative but to miss out on the Heritage Walk but she made sure that she was there for my Book Reading session.


I was also much encouraged by the presence of my friend, Barney J T Lim of Kluang RailCoffee, who came all the way from Kluang to participate in this activity.


I was honoured by the privilege to document his family’s heritage trade in My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People and it was significant that last year, Kluang RailCoffee was recognised by the Malaysia Book of Records as the Oldest Railway Kopitiam in the nation.


The presence of another friend, Haji Shafie Ahmad, formerly of Yayasan Warisan Johor or the Johor Heritage Foundation, was very encouraging as this made up an eclectic group of participants who provided a lively interaction of sharing and reminiscing about the Johor they each experienced and cared about.


With Haji Shafie Ahmad

Among the participants was Rita Abd Rahim, a staff of the Amari Johor Baru, who has a personal interest in sharing about Johor heritage with their hotel guests.


And because she is not from Johor, she found our time together – discussing Johor heritage – most meaningful and memorable.


The conversations continued over refreshments and everyone paid high compliments to the hotel culinary team for the tasty and generous refreshment spread.


Each participant then received a limited edition My Johor Stories tote bag filled with an autographed copy of My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, along with an exclusive My Johor Stories bookmark.


The Heritage Walks are planned for Saturdays, from 10am to 12pm in four different routes. After the Segget Waterway activities on January 14, the next are planned for February 18 – Heritage Traders, March 18 – Teochew Heritage and April 15 – Cantonese Heritage.


With Barney JT Lim of
Kluang RailCoffee

My Book Reading sessions based on these Walks, from 2pm to 4.30pm are arranged in hotels located in Downtown Johor Baru that has particular relevance to the Walk routes and destinations.


After the Amari Johor Baru on January 14, the next on February 18 would be held in the Holiday Inn Johor Baru City Centre, with the DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru on March 18 and the GBW Hotel Johor Baru on April 15.


So clear your calendars and come join me for the Heritage Walks and Book Reading sessions planned for one Saturday each month, up to April 2023 only.


Let Downtown Johor Baru come alive for you again in an exciting experience hosted by My Johor Stories, only for three more Saturdays early this year.


Participation in each event is by registration, priced at only RM50 per person to receive a limited edition My Johor Stories tote bag, one book of My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now and an exclusive My Johor Stories souvenir bookmark.


Spaces are limited to 10 people for each Heritage Walk and 25 people for each Book Reading session. For more info, Tel: +6016 727 5537.


Participants may also buy more copies of Book Three, My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now at the book sale set up at my Book Reading sessions and get them autographed too.


The activities planned for the My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru is an initiative under the Downtown Johor Baru Grants Programme: Arts, Heritage and Culture, a collaboration between Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) and Think City, supported by Majlis Bandaraya Johor Baru (MBJB).


Focusing on the heritage core of Johor Baru, the grants programme aims to support community-based initiatives to reactivate Downtown Johor Baru.

My Johor Stories at Drum Up Johor Baru


In the evening of Saturday January 7, the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House roared back to life with the opening show of Drum Up Johor Baru.


A dramatic scene from the performance
of Drunken Drummers

The Drum Up JB show was a collaboration between JB Drums and R&F Princess Cove to kick off the second launch of the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House. 


With events planned for the weekends of January 7 and 8 and February 25 and 26, Drum Up JB will showcase the art of the 24 Festive Drums in a programme that will feature performances by JB Drums and Orang Orang Drum Theatre.


My Johor Stories had the privilege of a book-sale booth to complement this event because the story of the 24 Festive Drums is documented in My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, among brands that were proudly born in Johor and have since been exported abroad.


The story of Tan Chai Puan,
co-founder of the 24 Festive Drums
is documented in My Johor Stories:
True Tales, Real People,
Rich Heritage
In fact, the story of Tan Chai Puan, co-founder of the 24 Festive Drums, was already documented in my 2017 MPH Non-Fiction Bestseller, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.


Written in English, I am pleased that these stories will share the proud heritage of the 24 Festive Drums with drum enthusiasts and readers, all over the world.


Over this special weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting many familiar people who graced the opening show on January 7.


Among them were Tunku Fatimah Faridah Osman and her husband, the Consul-General of Singapore to Johor, Jeevan Singh and his wife, and Tan Guang Mei, daughter of the late Tan Hooi Song, the other co-founder of the 24 Festive Drums.


It was wonderful to observe how the seats in the opera house filled up to capacity and in the hushed silence, watched a short video broadcast on two screens on either side of the stage that featured Tan Chai Puan speaking about the 24 Festive Drums.


The audience was invited to participate in
this entertaining interlude

With all eyes on the drummers performing on stage, the atmosphere was electric with excitement as the much-anticipated drum show opened to an appreciative audience.


It was an absolute thrill to imagine some 600 pairs of eyes trained on the drummers whose dramatic performance was enhanced by the clever play of lights and smoke effects.


In the 90-minute show, the audience – me included – was mesmerized by performances by the drum troops of JB Drums in the dramatic art of the 24 Festive Drums and creative music performances by Orang Orang Drum Theatre.


In between the drum performances, there were brief interludes that featured a Chinese song performed by tenor, Oh Chee Kiong, and an invitation to the audience to participate in a fun drumming time.


Guest performer, Jack Lee, presented a 
brief but powerful performance

My excitement went a notch higher when I heard the announcement that the guest performer featured in the prelude to the performance of, Drunken Drummers, was Jack Lee, the founder and artistic director of Lee Wushu Arts Theatre.


It was simply wonderful to watch Lee, a gifted wushu athlete, take centre-stage for a brief but powerful performance.


The Drum Show certainly lived up to its promise of a spectacular show and I echo the comments of many in the audience who were impressed by the performances, in particular the Drunken Drummers by JB Drums and Memories, a collaboration between JB Drums and Orang Orang Drum Theatre.

With friends at Crescendo
HELP International School and
former principal, Phillip Brisley

The two shows over the weekend delighted and entertained, and many bought my recently launched Book Three of My Johor Stories which documented the story of the 24 Festive Drums, to complete their collection in a trilogy of My Johor Stories.


Incidentally, I was at my book-sale booth on Sunday afternoon when I noticed a group of three people walking into the lobby of the opera house. But as the show was already in progress, I guessed they were tourists who were just sight-seeing.


As they were making their exit through the main entrance, the young lady in the trio paused when she saw me and told her group something… and they turned to walk towards me.


It was indeed a pleasant surprise when they introduced themselves as people from Crescendo HELP International School and they recognised me from participating in their school’s Book Week activities in 2018.


In fact, Carene and Jonathan were escorting former school principal, Phillip Brisley, on a brief tour of the new developments at R&F Princess Cove that included the opera house, when they stumbled upon me and my book-sale booth.


With Tunku Fatimah Faridah and her husband,
and Tan Chai Puan at my book-sale booth

Former principal Phillip (who is retired, has returned to the UK after his short visit here) was thrilled at our uncanny encounter because he could add Book Three to his collection of my books to complete the trilogy of My Johor Stories!


Surprising things can happen at such opportune times and I was more than delighted to be part of this.


Drum Up JB is an initiative under the Downtown Johor Baru Grants Programme: Arts, Culture and Heritage, a collaboration between Iskandar Regional Development Authority and Think City, supported by Majlis Bandaraya Johor Baru, R&F Princess Cove and Malaysia Digital Districts.


It was my pleasure and privilege to complement the Drum Show and am looking forward to the next two shows planned for February 2023. [Yes, I will be there!]


Hurry! Get your tickets for the next two shows scheduled on Saturday, February 25 at 8pm and on Sunday, February 26 at 3pm.


Tickets are priced at RM85, RM105 and RM150 only.

Get yours now from

The first Kongsi Work by Infinity8

When I received the invitation to the launch of the first Kongsi Work by Infinity8, I was intrigued by its name.


The first Kongsi Work by Infinity8 
is opened at Taman Molek, Johor Baru

I had the privilege to document the Infinity8 story among other Johor brands in My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, and wanted to see what Infinity8 had created in Kongsi Work so I did not hesitate to accept their invite.


Established in 2017, Infinity8 has developed functional, creative coworking spaces designed to enhance productivity through the use of hot desks, dedicated desks, private offices, meeting rooms and event spaces to rent with flexible terms.


The wall plaque at its lobby

I soon learnt from Lee Sheah Liang, founder and CEO of Infinity8, that Kongsi Work was coined from the word ‘Kongsi’ which means ‘share’ in the Malay language which also translates to ‘company’ in the Hokkien dialect, a catchy name that reflects the concept of their new brand of co-working spaces.


As the future of work is changing progressively, many industries are seen to be shifting its focus on optimizing work arrangements.


Infinity8 is moving in tandem with the changing needs of the post-pandemic workforce and emerged as a forerunner in the coworking space industry.


This award-winning coworking space provider in Malaysia recently launched the first outlet of its new brand, Kongsi Work, in Taman Molek, Johor Baru.


A few words from 
Lee Sheah Liang

Strategically located close to banks, restaurants, convenience stores and a shopping mall within driving distance, Kongsi Work provides 51 ready-to-use offices designed on 10,000 sq ft of space across two floors.


Positioned to offer affordable and equipped offices with necessary facilities, Kongsi Work aims to relieve businesses of the investments and expenses in maintaining a full-fledged office.


When I arrived at Kongsi Work, I was given a passcode to key into the digital panel at the entrance downstairs.


This, I later learnt, was an experience for me to understand that this private coworking space was designed for independent professionals and free-lancers in start-ups and small businesses.


The Zlock facility at Kongsi Work

The entrance to the premises was at the top of the first flight of stairs and on the landing was a Zlock, an automated parcel locker for the safe deposit and retrieval of parcels and documents.


The convenience of this automated mailbox was not only a time-saver but also provides essential peace-of-mind for its users.


Upon entry at the first-floor lobby, my eyes were riveted to a wall plaque with a brief explanation about What’s Kongsi and the Kongsi Work concept.


Ready-to-use private offices

Building on the Infinity8 coworking concept, Kongsi Work will offer members the convenience of high-speed internet access, a shared pantry, private meeting rooms, smart-lock doors, automated mailboxes and a 24/7 security system.


The well-lighted interior and clean lines of the furnishings created a warm and welcoming ambience in this functional workplace.


In his welcoming address, Lee said that he envisioned the Kongsi Work brand to be a solution for SMEs and individuals here to have access to a safe, economical and socially trusted work base.


He went on to highlight their no-frills concept and the aim to nurture a community who can kongsi or share the space and take collective responsibility of it.


Floor-to-ceiling glass windows for good views

For a start, he pointed out that there were no rubbish bins around. This was to encourage Kongsi Work members to be responsible to take their own rubbish out to dispose of it properly in wastebins downstairs.


He said that Kongsi Work was introduced particularly to those who were looking for a work model that can accommodate flexibility and work-life balance.


It aims to create an environment that is conducive and friendly, one that can encourage engaging with other like-minded peers, networking, the sharing of ideas which in turn, should boost productivity.


One of the clusters of artwork on the wall

Throughout the space, the Kongsi concept is echoed in cleverly crafted clusters of art pieces grouped together under the caption, what do we – kongsi.


While the pictures provided clues to answer this question, the word kongsi is designed on a moveable groove and when you slid this word to the left, the answer will be revealed behind it.


I liked that much thought was given to create a number of such clusters of artwork that reminded us that as Malaysians, we certainly berkongsi a great deal.


My heartiest Congratulations to Infinity8 on the successful launch of Kongsi Work in Johor, the first of many more to come!


Kongsi Work is located at No. 41-01 & 02, Jalan Molek 3/20, Taman Molek, 81100 Johor Baru, Johor. For more information, visit