Congratulations, Dato' Sylvia Ng


It was certainly a well-deserved honour for Sylvia Ng to receive her Datuk-ship awarded by the Sultan of Pahang on the occasion of his birthday at a prestigious ceremony held in Pekan, Pahang, on Friday, 4 August 2023.


Aunty Sylvia [Back to Camera!] meeting with
Sultan of Pahang and Tengku Ampuan Pahang
at the awards ceremony on August 4, 2023

She was among the proud recipients of the Darjah Indera Mahkota Pahang or D.I.M.P. award which carries the title, Dato', from the Sultan of Pahang, who is also currently the nation’s Agong.


Sylvia Ng is our mother’s youngest sister, Aunty Sylvia to us and now Dato' Sylvia Ng to the world, who was once dubbed (and I quote) from a 1997 news report, “the darling of Malaysian badminton.”


In her illustrious badminton career, she was National Women’s Champion six times (1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977) until her retirement from international competitive sports in 1980.


For her outstanding achievements in badminton, Aunty was voted Sportswoman of the Year twice, in 1975 and 1978. 


Aunty Sylvia was featured on the covers of
sports magazines during her badminton career

Her international career in badminton included the 1969 South East Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games held in Rangoon, Myanmar, the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand, and the 1971 World Tour that covered Russia, China for friendly games and also the Uber-Cup and All-England tournaments in England.


She was a versatile badminton player who not only excelled in playing Singles but also the Doubles games.


In the 1973 SEAP Games, Aunty Sylvia played Women’s Singles against compatriot, Rosalind Singha Ang as an opponent and also partnered with her for the Women’s Doubles to win Gold in both games.


Her awards for PIS II in 1978
and AMN in 1982

This formidable Women’s Doubles pair of Rosalind-Sylvia continued to score wins for the nation when they participated in subsequent tournaments like the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, the 1975 SEAP Games in Bangkok, Thailand and the first SEA Games in 1977 held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Her achievements in the 1978 Commonwealth Games held in Edmonton, Canada are stuck in my memory because she not only participated in the Singles and Doubles games, but she was also the nation’s flag-bearer for the Opening Ceremony.


In the Doubles team event, they clinched the Bronze. For the individual event played the following day, she met compatriot, Katherine Teh for the Singles game and won Gold while Katherine had to settle for the Silver.


On that day, 12 August 1978, Aunty Sylvia made history by becoming the first Asian woman to win the Commonwealth Games, Singles Gold. 


A memento from her achievement
from Malaysian Book of Records

For this achievement, she was recognised in the Malaysia Book of Records as the first Malaysian female athlete to clinch a Gold in the history of the Games!


For her excellent service to Johor, Aunty received a State Award, the Ibrahim Sultan Medal Second Class or PIS II, in 1978.


In 1982 she was also decorated with a Federal Award, the Ahli Mangku Negara or AMN.


Aunty Sylvia was inducted into the Olympics Council of Malaysia (OCM) Hall of Fame in 2004.


Even while Aunty had retired from competitive badminton, she continued to represent the nation in the torch runs at the start of the XV SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur (1989), the IV SUKMA Games in Johor Baru (1992) and the XVI Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur (1998).


At the rehearsal ahead of
the awards ceremony

In 1998, she represented the nation at the launch of the Queen’s Relay on 9 March, an event prior to the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, and at a reception hosted at Buckingham Palace, London, she met the late Queen Elizabeth II.


Fast-forward to 2023 when Aunty and her husband were in Kuching, Sarawak, for a family bonding time with their grand-daughters when she received the invitation to attend this award ceremony in Pekan, Pahang.


Ever since their elder son, Shaun Mok and family had relocated to live in Kuching, the grandparents have enjoyed stays with them to explore this East Malaysian city in the company of their delightful grand-daughters.


So, it was July when Aunty received the invitation and they did not hesitate to make travel arrangements to return to Kuala Lumpur before heading to Pekan for the award ceremony.


A page from The China Press that
featured the report on the awards 
in conjunction with the birthday
of the Sultan of Pahang

“After 40 years, they finally realised your enormous contributions to the nation,” said her husband, Uncle Mok, who graciously added, “It’s better late than never.”


To Shaun, who accompanied his mother to the ceremony, he said, “Thank you son, for standing in on my behalf to savour the glory of your mother’s achievements.”


When cousin Dennis, based in Melbourne, shared the New Straits Times online report in our family WhatsApp chat group, he said Aunty was conferred the D.I.M.P. award in recognition for all her years of dedicated service, this was followed by a deluge of comments including congratulatory wishes to Aunty Dato' Sylvia.


The newspaper coverage with photographs from the rehearsal was also published in Chinese by The China Press.


By then, Shaun and his mother were already in Pekan for the rehearsal ahead of the awards ceremony on August 4. Our excitement escalated when he shared photos from the rehearsal and their dinner together in the hotel the night before.


Datuk Sylvia Ng at the
award ceremony, Pekan, Pahang

He, however, warned us that he would not be able to share photos from the ceremony itself as only official photography was permitted.


We are familiar with this because it was recently, in June when Uncle Billy, along with the 1967 Thomas Cup team, who received their Datuk-ship from the Agong at Istana Negara, Kuala Lumpur, and photography was disallowed at the ceremony.


Not willing to miss out on the moments, we urged cousin Shaun to please try to capture as many good shots of his mother with himself at the ceremony – without breaking any rules – to share with us.


One of the best shots he managed to capture was when the royal couple entered the hall and they paused to speak to the award recipients, including Aunty Sylvia.


I smiled when I read the comment by my sister-in-law, “01 meets 01” because the Tengku Ampuan of Pahang, consort of the Pahang Sultan was Tunku Azizah, our Johor Princess.


Datuk Sylvia Ng-Mok with
her son, Shaun Mok

Over the years, I have documented a collection of family stories in My Johor Stories that featured the Ng family’s passion for badminton.


And to commemorate International Women’s Day in 2018, I also published an Exclusive, Celebrating Women: Our very own Sylvia Ng, a piece that marked the launch of a video by BFM Radio that featured an interview with Aunty Sylvia.


The two years of lockdown due to the global pandemic gave me time to work on the manuscript for the third and final instalment of My Johor Stories that will complete the trilogy of My Johor Stories books.


Launched in December 2022, My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, documented my memories on Growing Up in Grandfather’s House and Badminton Glory Days, with precious childhood memories at grandfather’s house and of course, proud badminton achievements, particularly that of Dato' Sylvia Ng.



My 2017 MPH Non-Fiction Bestseller, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, its sequel My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People, and My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now are available from MPH bookstores nationwide and online from

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