Join the LEGOLAND School Challenge 2023


In 2022, LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort celebrated its 10th anniversary since the international theme park opened in Johor Baru on 1 September 2012.


The launch event for
LEGOLAND School Challenge 2023

That same year, the Resort hosted the inaugural LEGOLAND School Challenge where primary and secondary school children got to showcase their ingenuity and creativity through LEGO® Model Building, where over 205 student groups participated and benefitted from the opportunity to learn through play.


For this year’s LEGOLAND School Challenge, powered by Iskandar Investment Berhad, students and teachers are invited to register their group to join the LEGOLAND School Challenge 2023 and join participants from ASEAN countries.


The LEGOLAND School Challenge 2023 is made possible with the active involvement and support across federal and state government departments, and partners including the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), Ministry of Education (MoE), Johor Tourism, Johor State Education Department, and Iskandar Investment Berhad (IIB).


Back for its second year, the competition is open to students from ASEAN countries for the first time, including schools from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.


As LEGOLAND Malaysia aims to increase the participation rate of the challenge to more than 400 school groups from the region, the registration to participate has been extended to 5 June 2023.


“IIB is delighted to be the main partner for the LEGOLAND School Challenge 2023.


As the strategic developer of Medini, Iskandar Puteri, we strongly believe in the power of education and its potential to the shape the future.


This partnership embodies our commitment to fostering innovative thinking, creativity, and teamwork among the younger generation.


We believe the challenge is an ideal platform for students to learn, explore and apply their scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical skills in a fun, hands-on environment.

Photo from the inaugural 
LEGOLAND School Challenge 2022

The LEGOLAND School Challenge 2023 aligns with our mission to invest in tomorrow’s talents and create meaningful, transformative experiences that inspire creativity, innovation and lifelong learning, all of which are the components of building an inclusive and sustainable future metropolis here in Medini,” said Dato’ Idzham Mohd Hashim, President and Chief Executive Officer of Iskandar Investment Berhad.


The Malaysian Ministry of Education (MoE) recognizes the program’s benefits and has extended its endorsement for the competition. With the support of the MoE, Malaysian students can add their participation in the LEGOLAND School Challenge 2023 as their extracurricular activities.


“As Malaysia aspires to be one of the top ten education destinations, we commend LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort's innovative approach to Education Tourism in promoting Malaysia as a hub for educational and cultural exchange in the region.


Photo from the inaugural 
LEGOLAND School Challenge 2022

We believe the collaborative effort between public and private sectors is the key to the resurgence of domestic and inbound travel and boosting the of tourist arrivals,” said Dato’ Dr Ammar Abd. Ghapar, Director-General, Tourism Malaysia.


The LEGOLAND School Challenge 2023 is designed to help students cultivate various soft skills, including teamwork, critical thinking, problem-solving and self-confidence.


This year’s challenge theme calls for students to use their imagination and creativity to build Cities of The Future in LEGO bricks.


“LEGOLAND Malaysia is more than just an international theme park.


Photo from the inaugural
LEGOLAND School Challenge 2022

We recognize our unique role in driving domestic and international travel through innovative education tourism offerings.


LEGOLAND School Challenge 2023 is developed to give students and teachers a taste of the meaningful and fun experience that LEGOLAND Malaysia offers.


We also hope that the initiative will help boost awareness among families and LEGO fans across Southeast Asia to consider LEGOLAND Malaysia as a holiday destination, a place where they can endlessly immerse themselves in our LEGO DNA of learning through play and the cultural richness of the state of Johor,” said CS Lim, Divisional Director, LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort.


The encouraging success of the LEGOLAND School Challenge in 2022 was proof that Johor and Malaysia have the potential to become the preferred destination for Educational and Cultural Exchange so the Challenge this year welcomes participants from the Region.


So come join the LEGOLAND School Challenge and pitch your skills against schools from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. 

To participate, students and teachers should register their group on the LEGOLAND School Challenge 2023 website from now till 5 June to stand a chance to win their share of prizes worth up to a total of RM100,000.


For more information on LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort’s educational initiatives, visit the official website or LEGOLAND Malaysia social media pages on Facebook and Instagram

Of book projects and archive badminton news


Readers who have followed my stories documented in the trilogy of My Johor Stories as well as in my blog, will be familiar with our family’s passion for badminton.


A trilogy of My Johor Stories books

As we follow live badminton broadcasts hosted in various destinations in an annual international circuit of tournaments and cheer on our sports heroes on the court, its timely to remember that Johor was the proud home of State, National and International champions from a long time ago.


When I shared the address for grandfather’s house, No. 154 Jalan Ngee Heng in, Where champions were born, published in My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, I introduced our grandfather, Ng Ngoh Tee, four-time Johor State badminton champion in 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1939.


Under Portraits in this 2017 MPH Non-Fiction Bestseller, I honoured the memory of our grandmother who passed on at the ripe old age of 103 in, The Real Champion. She was many things to the family and yes, our grandmother was also a badminton player.

In Book Two, My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People, I continued to share more details about our link to the Wong family in Johor and Badminton is in the blood, under Family Ties.


Foon Seong Cup Winners, 1939;
[Standing L to R] Wong Peng Nam,
Wong Peng Soon, Ng Ngoh Tee, and
Wong Peng Yee; [Seated L] F. M. Still
and Syed Ibrahim Hussein [R]

I also published an additional piece, Richard’s Quest, which outlined how I met up with Richard Dunn, a reader from the UK who came to Johor Baru in search of the places here that were recorded in his grandmother’s memoirs.


While he was here, it was Richard who found an old newspaper report from online records dated 1 November 1936 which revealed that his grandfather, Frank Mongford Still, was then the President of the Johore Bahru District Badminton Association while our grandfather, Ng Ngoh Tee, was its Vice-President.


It was absolutely uncanny that Richard, a total stranger, who met me here on his personal quest, suddenly discovered that our grandfathers were acquainted with each other and used to work together in the Johore Bahru Badminton Association!


Finally in Book Three, My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, I shared more family memories in Growing Up in Grandfather’s House and Badminton Glory Days.


When I met with author, Ahmad Fadhli Syed Hassan in 2017, we found much in common in our pursuit of publishing Johor stories. As he followed my book writing journey, we stayed in touch. In August 2017, he also joined my Meet-the-Readers event organised by MPH Publishing in JB.


Online archive news discovered
by Richard Dunn

Then I was invited to Bicara Karya 2019, a talk held in UTM Skudai where he was the guest speaker who discussed his book writing journey and shared some of the highlights of his experience.


The recent global pandemic and lockdown periods brought most meetings online so Bicara Karya 2022 was organised with online participation. That year, I had the honour to be one of the two guest speakers.


As this event would be broadcast from UTM Skudai, I agreed to join in-person rather than online. When Ahmad Fadhli learnt about this arrangement, he did not hesitate to meet me there and took the opportunity to present me with his latest books.


In his book of memoirs, Sebelum Senja Berlabuh, Kenangan di Johor Bahru, he wrote a meaningful and encouraging message in Malay, Anda sumber inspirasi saya. Terima kasih, (You are the source of my inspiration. Thank you.)


Ahmad Fadhli presented his books
to me in 2022

Last December 14, just days ahead of the event planned for the launch of Book Three on December 18, I received a WhatsApp message from Ahmad Fadhli along with a series of photographs.


He said while browsing around the Kinokuniya bookstore, KLCC Kuala Lumpur, he stumbled upon My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now in the New Arrivals section and was thrilled to be among the first to get hold of his own copy.


I was deeply encouraged by his support and reminded him to bring along his copies for me to autograph when we met again at my book launch event. And he did.


Fast-forward to early this week when Ahmad Fadhli wrote me another WhatsApp message and said: “Just to inform you, I was in KL recently and had time to visit Kinokuniya KLCC. Unfortunately, your books were sold out.”


To me, it was both good news and bad news: Good to know that readers have bought all my books and bad because the bookstore have yet to restock my books.


Archive news from 1934 
shared by Ahmad Fadhli

Ahmad Fadhli went on to update me on his latest book project which he will co-author with Professor Dato Dr Kassim Thukiman and Associate Professor Dr Siti Rahmah in UTM.


He said his fifth book will be a biography on the late Tan Sri Dato Ahmad bin Perang, the first Johor Malay to become General Manager of Keretapi Tanah Melayu, the Malayan Railways from 1962 to 1967.


“And guess what?” he asked rhetorically and continued, “He was actively involved with badminton in his younger days!”


He also sent photos of newspaper cuttings dated, 25 November 1934 on the Johore (Badminton) Tournament Finals, which he extracted from his online research.


“Hope you are familiar with those names,” he said.


Continuation of 1934 news report...

Ahmad Fadhli clearly knows my family’s passion in badminton and shared this newspaper report on a 1934 badminton tournament because he was pretty sure I could identify the names listed there.


In Family Ties, I had written about how grandfather met the Wong brothers – the cousins of my grandmother – while he was still dating her and when the Wong brothers recognised him as the four-time Johore state champion, they asked him to be their badminton trainer.


In 1939, the team made up of grandfather Ng Ngoh Tee and the Wong brothers, Wong Peng Nam, Wong Peng Soon and Wong Peng Yee, were the proud winners of the Foon Seong Cup.


This momentous event was captured in a precious photograph which also featured Richard Dunn’s grandfather, Johore Badminton Association President, Frank Mongford Still and Hon. Secretary, Syed Ibrahim Hussein.


A grainy photo published with 
the 1934 archive news report

I looked closer at the newspaper cutting from 1934 which listed the players’ names and read that it included grandfather and the Wong brothers, as well as their younger brother, Wong Peng Tong who played in the Junior Singles and Doubles.


Ahmad Fadhli also shared a grainy old photograph that depicted Tan Sri Dato Ahmad bin Perang with Wong Peng Tong, captioned as Runner-Up and Winner of the Junior Singles, respectively.


The Wong brothers, namely Wong Cheong Meng, Wong Peng Nam, Wong Peng Tong, Wong Peng Yee, Wong Peng Soon, Wong Peng Long* and Wong Peng Kow, were the sons of Wong Kwong Yam also known as Towkay Yam, the nephew of Johor pioneer, Wong Ah Fook.


Wong Peng Soon went on to earn National and International titles in the 1930s to 1950s and was acknowledged as one of the greatest badminton players of all time.


As he went on to greater heights of achievement in an illustrious sports career, we can fondly recall that he started his training with our grandfather on a badminton court they built together in the compound of their house at Jalan Ah Siang.


The mother of the Wong brothers, Mak Qui Tong, was our grandmother’s aunt (her father’s sister). So Towkay Yam, with five wives and 17 children, was the patriarch of the Wong family in Johor.


I replied Ahmad Fadhli with heartiest congratulations on his next book project and told him I recognised familiar names, that of our grandfather and granduncles, from the archive newspaper report.


As he continues doing research for his book project, I trust Ahmad Fadhli will share with me any archive news that would be of interest to me and our family. Thank you.


*Note: Wong Peng Long was the father of present-day Mejar Cina Dato David Wong Khong Soon.

Weekend Absolute Hi-Tea at Swatches


When I arrived at Swatches in Fraser Place Puteri Harbour, I spied Chef Daniel Lowe and his team putting the finishing touches to the set-up for the Absolute Hi-Tea buffet, in the usual last-minute rush to get everything in place before the buffet opened at 12.30pm.


Platter of Portuguese Baked Fish at the buffet

Applying his natural flair for Portuguese and Peranakan cuisine, Chef Daniel is proud to present an Absolute Hi-Tea buffet in a one-stop destination at a best-deal price, for an authentic taste of Nyonya and Portuguese specialties outside of Melaka at Puteri Harbour.


Born in Melaka to Portuguese and Peranakan parents, Chef Daniel, who leads the culinary team at Fraser Place Puteri Harbour, developed and refined his cooking techniques in a colourful culinary career in Singapore and Malaysia.


The affable Chef Daniel Lowe

With some 20 years of diversified culinary experience which started in his home kitchen where he enjoyed observing his mother while she cooked, Chef Daniel grew up with a keen interest in culinary arts.


He is pleased to share a blend of Kristang-Serani-Nyonya cuisine, derived from his Portuguese-Eurasian-Peranakan heritage which he inherited from generations of this unique community who still live in the Portuguese Settlement in Melaka.


This weekend high tea buffet spread begins with Appetizers in a range of mixed salads and Do-It-Yourself fruit and vegetable salads like crunchy Rojak.


Chef Daniel pointed out with pride, that this was probably the only place outside of Melaka to savour Nyonya Acar Chillie – whole pickled stuffed chillies.


Portuguese Roasted Leg of Lamb
served with Peri-Peri sauce

As weekend buffets should be enjoyed at leisure, diners have the time and pleasure to mix their own salads, stuff toasted bean-curd squares and assemble stacks of sandwiches.


There were also live-stations where culinary staff will serve freshly wrapped Nyonya Popia Basah or spring rolls and fill Nyonya Pai Tee, a delicacy in crispy top-hats.


At the seafood section, diners may pick their choice of fresh seafood items for the staff to cook in Assam Pedas gravy and serve it steaming hot in the tradition of Assam Pedas Pokok Besar Melaka.


Assam Pedas, a phrase simply translated as tart and spicy, is a popular local gravy which comes in a variety of textures, unique to the different states. Along this line, Chef Daniel was quick to remind diners to savour and enjoy their Melaka-style of Assam Pedas.


Filling the Nyonya Pai Tee,
crispy top-hats

Fans of fish also made a beeline to the platter of Melaka Portuguese Baked Fish to help themselves to their favourite parts of that fleshy big fish.


The secret was clearly in its sauce because Chef Daniel declared that this baked fish recipe can be successfully used on any big fish available from the market. So diners may savour a variety of big fish that was bought fresh for the next weekend’s buffet.


Meat was always a popular choice so a small queue had formed in front of the counter that served tender slices of Portuguese-style Roasted Leg of Lamb drizzled with a dollop of Peri-Peri sauce.


At the hot buffet, there was white steamed rice to savour with gravies like Ikan Chuan-Chuan – Fish Fillets in Preserved Bean Paste Sauce or tau-cheong, Camarao Bostador – Prawn Bostador, a Eurasian sambal recipe, Kapitan Lula – Sambal Kapitan Cuttlefish, and Ambilek Borber – Chicken Curry with Squash.


Don't miss this Nyonya Acar Chillies

The hot buffet continued with two choices of Soup, dim-sum like pau and siew mai dumplings as well as Brinjal Pimente – Blackpepper Brinjal, and Pandan wrapped Chicken.


Meanwhile, please be warned that the Portuguese Spicy Fried Noodles – as its name implies – was prepared in a truly spicy recipe that uses spicy chillies and vinegar.


To cool down, there was Seafood-on-Ice to savour a choice of prawns and oysters.


A miniature portion of 
Chicken Rice Balls

The Melaka experience here is completed with a miniature portion of Chicken Rice Balls served in a dainty dish of tiny rice-balls with a side of boiled chicken and condiments like a wedge of hard-boiled, a slice of braised tofu and fresh cucumber slices.


It made sense that the Chicken Rice Balls were deliberately created in miniature size so that diners may help themselves to as many portions as they liked.


The buffet continued with savoury snacks like deep-fried samosa, treasure pouches, Ngoh Hiang or five-fragrance rolls, and mini spring rolls, as well as sweet treats in a spread of cakes, pastries, puddings and Nyonya kueh to savour with hot beverages in a choice of coffee and tea.


Comfortably satisfied with a taste of Nyonya and Portuguese cuisine without leaving the state, it was time to round off this leisurely buffet on a hot afternoon with an icy treat in a Do-It-Yourself bowl of syrupy shaved ice or pick from a variety of iced-lollipops in the freezer.


The Absolute Hi-Tea that features Nyonya & Portuguese Style Seafood, is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 12.30pm to 4.30pm.


Price at RM148+ in a special Buy One get One Free deal.


Swatches Restaurant is located on the lobby level of Fraser Place Puteri Harbour at Jalan Persiaran Tanjung, Pengkalan Puteri, 79100 Iskandar Puteri, Johor.


For enquiries and reservations, Tel: +607 – 530 8837, +6013 – 778 6821.

KPJ celebrates Raya and 42nd anniversary


“On 10 May 1981, Johor Specialist Hospital, the first private specialist hospital in Johor was opened to the public with just 65 beds.


KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital celebrates
42 years since its opening in May 1981

It was the first specialist hospital in Johor with a mission to deliver quality healthcare services to patients and it grew from strength to strength to establish its brand, not only in Johor and throughout the nation, but also abroad.


After acquiring two more hospitals in Johor Baru and Kluang in 1993, they embarked on a new challenge in hospital development and management and built three more hospitals in Muar, Pasir Gudang and Bandar Dato Onn in Johor.


Now the KPJ Healthcare Group manages over 25 specialist hospitals throughout Malaysia, along with two hospitals in Jakarta, Indonesia, and one each in Bangkok, Thailand, and Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Banquet and buffet tables were set up
in the front lobby

From specialist medical care, hospital management to nursing training, the Group then ventured into a community service outreach programme in their Wakaf An-Nur charity clinics, established nationwide.


Since 1996, KPJ Healthcare hospitals in Johor have been recognised for its quality healthcare and service excellence through numerous Quality Achievements and Excellence Awards.”


The above is a brief excerpt from my story on the KPH Healthcare Group, featured in My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, among other proudly Johor brands that were established in Johor, expanded nationwide and exported abroad.


My Johor Stories, Book Three was
presented to En Mohd Azhar Abdullah

The chronology of this inspiring story was garnered from the experience of Tan Sri Datin Paduka Siti Sa’diah Sheikh Bakir, a co-founder and Board member of Kumpulan Perubatan Johor Sdn Bhd, incorporated on 17 February 1979.


In 1979, Tan Sri Siti Sadiah oversaw the development of the hospital and construction of the building commenced in 1980.


Kumpulan Perubatan Johor Sdn Bhd was renamed Johor Specialist Hospital Sdn Bhd in 1989 while the name Kumpulan Perubatan (Johor) Sdn Bhd was given to Johor Corporation and became its medical division.


In that same year, Tan Sri Siti Sa’diah was appointed Chief Executive of Kumpulan Perubatan Johor. She served as Managing Director of KPJ Healthcare Berhad from 1 March 1993 and was responsible for overseeing its listing in November 1994.


Welcome speech by Pn Haliza Khalid

She retired from her illustrious career on 31 December 2012 and is now based in Kuala Lumpur.


Yesterday I was at KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital again, not as a patient or visitor but as a guest for a Raya Open House celebration and to commemorate 42 years since the Hospital opened in May 1981.


The porch in the front lobby was transformed with a stage set up for the celebration while guest arrivals were ushered to be seated at banquet tables. I could smell the mouth-watering fragrance of grilling satay from among the live-cooking stalls set up under pitched tents, that were preparing an array of Raya specialties.


In the lobby, I was welcomed in by KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital, Chief Executive Officer, Puan Haliza Khalid, who assured me that I will (finally!) meet with Regional Chief Executive Officer of the KPJ Southern Region Hospitals, En Mohd Azhar Abdullah.


Presentation of mock cheque to representatives
from Princess Elizabeth School

Work on the manuscript for Book Three of My Johor Stories started in 2019 and while publishing was delayed due to the global pandemic, I made good use of the time to refine its contents which included proudly Johor brands like the KPJ Healthcare Group.


Published in partnership with MPH Publishing Kuala Lumpur, My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now was launched in a simple event in December 2022, witnessed by family and friends as well as representatives from the subjects featured in Book Three.


Meanwhile, I was pleased to receive a confirmation by email that Puan Haliza Khalid and En Mohd Azhar Abdullah would attend my book launch event and I had prepared a hard-cover version of my Book Three to present to them.


An overview of the
KPJ Specialist Hospital compound

But due to unavoidable circumstances, they were unable to come so I kept aside this copy of my book, autographed and ready to be presented to En Mohd Azhar as Regional CEO of the KPJ Southern Region Hospitals.


It was a matter of, Better Late Than Never, so I was pleased to bring this book to the Raya Open House event to present it to En Mohd Azhar, to receive it on behalf of the KPJ Healthcare Group.


Seated inside the lobby, were young guests from Princess Elizabeth School for the visually impaired, beneficiaries of the hospital’s Corporate Social Responsibility gift in conjunction with the Raya celebration.


With Mohd Izwan Md Noor [Left]
and Nor Hisham Md Atan of AFFIN

I was ushered to sit at a nearby table and not long after, two gentlemen arrived to sit with me. When we exchanged name cards, I learnt that they were representatives of AFFIN Bank and AFFIN Islamic Bank.


In the course of conversation, we chatted on topics like the many Raya Open House celebrations this year and when we talked about banking facilities, I was delighted to discover the origins of the word, AFFIN.


Mohd Izwan bin Md Noor, Relationship Manager in Strategic Business Alliances, Southern Region of AFFIN Islamic Bank, explained that the word AFFIN was in fact, an abbreviation coined from, Armed Forces Finance. This was quite a revelation as I had no idea that AFFIN originated from an English phrase.


Our chit-chat was, however, cut short when Pn Haliza kept her word and brought En Mohd Azhar over for us to meet and for me to finally present to him, Book Three of My Johor Stories which also features the KPJ Healthcare story.


Ready to present prizes to participants in the
hospital's building renaming exercise

They expressed regret in the delay of our meet-up and reassured me of the opportunity for My Johor Stories to collaborate with KPJ Healthcare in their anniversary celebrations.


On the stage, the Raya event kicked off with traditional Malay dances performed by the hospital staff and this was followed by a Welcome speech by Pn Haliza.


Among the highlights of the event was the presentation of mock cheque to the representatives of Princess Elizabeth School and prize presentation to winners who participated in a building renaming exercise among the hospital staff.


As the complex of buildings gradually expanded within the hospital compound, it was timely to rename the buildings for a clearer identity as the Azalea Block, the Begonia Block and the Camelia Block.


Live music entertainment presented by the
talented youngsters from Princess Elizabeth School

A cake-cutting ceremony to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the founding of KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital completed the event agenda before guests were invited to enjoy the Raya specialties served.


A convivial Raya mood prevailed as live music entertainment was presented by the talented youngsters from Princess Elizabeth School who had fun belting out familiar Raya popular songs.


As I savoured the food and enjoyed the pleasant company, I trust that many guests (like me!) could not help from singing along to the chorus, “Oh, oh, oh, balik kampung…”


KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital is part of KPJ Healthcare Bhd, a member of the Johor Corporation Group, located at 39-B Jalan Abdul Samad, 80100 Johor Baru, Johor.

For more info, visit website:


The trilogy of My Johor Stories books is available from MPH bookstores nationwide and online from mphonline.


My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage was published in 2017, followed by My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People in 2018, while the final instalment, My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, was launched in December 2022.