Taman Tasek celebrates Chap Goh Meh


Chap Goh Meh, the Hokkien phrase for the 15th day of the first lunar calendar, marks the close of the annual Chinese New Year celebrations where families and friends gather for yet another festive feast, often with the playing of fireworks among the young and young-at-heart.


YB Liew Chin Tong receiving a pair of 
good fortune mandarin oranges from a lion

The residents of Taman Tasek, an established residential area in Johor Baru, had a tradition of celebrating together but the global pandemic and health challenges in the past two years had interrupted these annual celebrations.


With the reopening of the economy and lifting of health restrictions, the Residents Committee decided that it was timely to resume this annual tradition with a buffet dinner gathering in the community hall.


The highlight of this gathering was a traditional Lion Dance performance and the presence of Member of Parliament for Iskandar Puteri, YB Liew Chin Tong.


YB Liew with Tan Beng Sooi and the lions

My earliest contact with Taman Tasek was probably in 1997 when my sister, Ruby and her family moved to live in this residential area and her sons registered to continue their Secondary School education with nearby, SMK Tasek Utara.


In 2008, I was invited for a food review at the George & Dragon Café, a charming café located in the commercial section of this residential area.


Since that first visit, my family and I have been regular diners and takeaway customers particularly for their Christmas fare and I often had the pleasure to dine there with other groups who hosted their events in this English-themed café.


YB Liew meeting a young resident

I used to publish stories on the activities of the Rotary Club of Johor Baru, and among them was the Ang Tiong Loi – Rotary Children’s Home, a charity named after the Tasek Maju Group’s founder in partnership with the club that was handed over to be run by NGO, Cross Community and Persatuan Kebajikan Kasih Segamat, in 2014.


Also in 2014, I had the opportunity to explore Senai, escorted by YB Wong Shu Qi who was then Member of the Johor State Legislative Assembly for Senai (May 2013 to May 2018) and I later published an interesting story on the Two Wongs of Senai.


Residents meeting with YB Liew Chin Tong

This story attracted the attention of members of the Wong family who had relocated to Singapore and after I met with them, I shared a further story on this family in, More on Wongs of Senai.


In fact, a more comprehensive story on the Two Wongs of Senai was featured in my book, My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People, the sequel to my 2017 MPH Non-Fiction Bestseller, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.


So, when my sister told me about the Chap Goh Meh gathering at the community hall that will be graced by Guest of Honour, YB Liew Chin Tong, whom I met for lunch with YB Wong Shu Qi, so many years ago… I had this series of flashbacks.


YB Liew sharing a few words with residents

I thought it would be good to meet with YB Liew again and did not hesitate to agree with my sister that we should join the residents at this festive gathering.


You see, my mother and I are probably among the newest residents in Taman Tasek.


We only moved here in December 2020, at the height of the global pandemic and lockdowns when my mother was unwell and it was time to consolidate our homes for better care and management of our 90-year-old mother.


On the evening of the Chap Goh Meh, a light drizzle did not deter the residents from walking to the community hall for this gathering.


YB Liew having a chat with
Dr Nawawi [Left] and Dr Adam Liew [Right]

After the past few years of lockdowns and imposed isolation, it was good to see fellow residents turning up in full force for this festive occasion.


Incidentally, when my sister and I arrived at the gates to the community hall, the car in which YB Liew was travelling, stopped there and as YB Liew stepped out, I was there to welcome him.


When I introduced myself and refreshed his memory that we had met many years ago, he then looked at me, recalled that we met with YB Wong Shu Qi and declared, “You are the author!”


And he was right.


In reply to his query, I told YB Liew that I recently launched My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, the final instalment to complete the trilogy of My Johor Stories.


Residents filling up forms to complete a survey

Members of the Residents Committee were there to greet the Guest of Honour and he was escorted into the event by Tan Beng Sooi and others including Dr Nawawi and Dr Adam Liew.


There was a ripple of excitement as YB Liew went around the hall to shake hands, wished the residents, “Happy Chinese New Year” and paused along the way for many photo-taking opportunities.


In his brief address, YB Liew, who was also the Deputy Minister for International Trade & Industry, thanked the residents for this invitation.


The residents cheered and clapped when he said that among other things, he would work hard for the Rakyat in this Unity Government.


YB Liew, who is conversant in Bahasa Malaysia, English and Chinese, is also a published author of several academic papers as well as books in English and Chinese, mainly on topics related to politics.


During our chit-chat, when I told him that Book Three was the final instalment to complete the trilogy of My Johor Stories books* he echoed the words of my dad and encouraged me to, Never stop writing.


It was good to meet with
YB Liew again after so long!

I also had the opportunity to tell YB Liew that my current project was My JohorStories in Downtown Johor Baru that featured activities like Heritage Walks and Book Reading sessions on one Saturday per month, up to April this year.


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.


The sounds of loud drumming and clashing cymbals announced the arrival of the Lion Dance troop and all eyes were on a pair of prancing lions who performed the traditional dance to reach-for-a-bunch-of-lettuce hoisted high up on a pole.


The evening continued with sharing a sumptuous buffet spread among a convivial community in Taman Tasek, gathered to celebrate Chap Goh Meh 2023.


Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! Kongxi! Kongxi!


*Hardcover and Softcover versions of My Johor Stories are available from MPH bookstores nationwide and online from mphonline.


Meanwhile, My Johor Stories are also available from two (2) outlets in Johor Baru which carry a small stock of my books.


1] Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation or JARO, located at No. 18 Jalan Sungai Chat, Sri Gelam, 80100 Johor Baru, Johor. Open from 8.30am to 4.30pm. Closed on Friday and Saturday. Tel: +607 – 227 5314.


2] YSpace, located at No. 2 Jalan Yahya Awal, 80100 Johor Baru, Johor. Open 11am to 7pm. Closed on Thursday.

No comments:

Post a Comment