The Promise...fulfilled


If you have read the Epilogue: Journey to My Johor Stories, a letter written to my dad documented in My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, you will be familiar with Mr. & Mrs. Cheong, our friends Whye Choon and Swee Gim, who connected me with then MPH Group Chief Executive Officer, Dato’ Ng Tieh Chuan.


The Cheong's, Whye Choon and Swee Gim with
Dato' Ng Tieh Chuan and wife, Datin Meow Yin
at the book launch of The Promise on Sept 17

When the Cheong’s mentioned about my book project to Dato’ Ng, it marked a dramatic turning point in my book-writing journey when MPH Publishing Kuala Lumpur stepped in to partner with Think City Johor Baru to publish my first book and continued to do so for the trilogy of My Johor Stories books.


Nobody, least of all me, expected My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage to go to the Number One spot in the MPH Non-Fiction Bestsellers list in the first week of its launch in July 2017.


Thanks to all you readers, this book stayed on the Bestsellers list for consecutive weeks and months, and at year end, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage was counted among the titles in the Best of MPH in 2017.


When I was in Kuala Lumpur for the Meet-the-Readers event hosted at the MPH bookstore in 1Utama Mall in October 2017, it was also an opportunity to meet with Dato’ Ng to thank him personally for his support of local writers like me.


Ng Tieh Chuan [Standing Centre]
with his brothers and parents
in a formal family photo

The next morning, accompanied by Mr. & Mrs. Cheong, we went to the Sunday service at Bandar Sunway Gospel Centre where I finally met with Dato’ Ng and his wife Datin Meow Yin, after the meeting.


This remarkable experience with the Cheong’s and Dato’ Ng in the early part of my book-writing journey, was duly documented in My Version of Great Expectations.


Fast-forward to August 2023 – three My Johor Stories books later and Dato’ Ng had already stepped down from his role with the MPH Group – when I received a WhatsApp text message from Dato’ Ng who wanted to call me for a chat.


Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised but did not hesitate to reply with a welcome for him to call.


Tieh Chuan with Meow Yin,
the early years together in Taiping

In our brief chat, Dato’ Ng told me that when his mother was diagnosed with cancer in March 2009, he asked God to let him witness to her and his family one last time.


He made a PROMISE to God that upon her salvation, he will share the story of His goodness to him.


Born to non-Christian parents, Tieh Chuan heard the good news of salvation at Taiping Gospel Hall and became a Christian in 1972. He faithfully attended all the meetings of Taiping Gospel Hall and took on leadership roles in church events.


Taiping Gospel Hall

He often thought that personal stories such as his may not be worth telling and one of his main excuses for not sharing his story was that his conversion and experience as a Christian was quite ordinary.


But when he learned that his mother was terminally ill, Tieh Chuan wanted to let his mother know why he trusted the Lord.


He was deeply troubled because he was not able to communicate fluently in Hokkien dialect and if he did not make an effort to share the good news of salvation with her, he would regret it for the rest of his life.


He and his wife prayed fervently that God would grant him this wish that his beloved mother would come to know and accept the Lord.


A copy of The Promise sent to me
for a read and to review!

His family members were also present when he spoke to his mother in Hokkien to share his conversion story, his experiences as a Christian and what God had done for him.


Two months later, on 3 May 2009, he received a handphone text message from his brother who said that he had started going to church last Sunday.


On June 4, he received the happy news from his brother that their mother wanted to be a Christian and had asked to be baptized. That afternoon, he and his wife were back in Taiping, overcome with joy as they witnessed his mother acknowledging the Lord in her life when she was baptized.


On 5 September 2009, his mother slipped into eternity peacefully at the age of 76.


Tieh Chuan in his rented room in SS2

In 2023, Tieh Chuan fulfilled his promise to God by documenting his life story and God’s goodness to him in his book simply titled, The Promise.


I was delighted that he wanted to send me a copy of this book to read and see if I could write a review to publish in a Christian magazine to share with others, God’s goodness and grace upon him.


While many may know him as Dato’ Ng, a successful entrepreneur in the book industry, I read that he struggled through a very challenging journey in his early years and by God’s grace and favour, gained the confidence of people in the higher echelons of society and had the privilege to publish their biographies and books.


In his rented room; Note the number of fans
to help with the ventilation inside the room!

In recognition of his achievements in the publishing industry, he was conferred the Ahli Mangku Negara in 1992. Then in 1999, he was honoured with the award, Dato Paduka Mahkota Perak, which carries the title, Dato’.


In 2012, he reached the peak of his career when he was received the award for Tokoh Industri Buku Negara.


In just 208 pages, Tieh Chuan shared a brief autobiography with highlights of significant events in his journey from his youth to the present day in a faith-walk to inspire others to trust and depend on God.


Dato' Ng Tieh Chuan, a montage
of photos taken over the years

On the evening of September 17, some 200 guests – including the Cheong’s – gathered for a relaxing dinner in Kuala Lumpur, hosted for the book launch of The Promise.


The invitation read: “See you on Sunday! It will be a night of fun and makan! Casual night with no VIPs, only old friends and no programs. Just makan.”


And so, it was a reunion of sorts where the guests gathered were mainly old friends from Taiping, many who have not met for some 40 years.


In the Preface, Tieh Chuan said, “I believe that as Christians, our lives must be an open book for others to see Christ through us. Many may not have the opportunity to read the Bible but they can read us.”


Tieh Chuan with the Tunku,
the nation's first Prime Minister

The Promise is a powerful testimony of what God can do to turn disadvantages into opportunities to deliver His promise and give Tieh Chuan a future and a hope. Many times, Tieh Chuan’s faith was sorely tested and through the conflicts he faced, his faith turned into a personal possession.


Written from his heart in simple language and supported by a collection of precious photographs, Tieh Chuan shared about his family, growing up in Taiping and his education at St. George’s Institution there.


Late one night, shortly after receiving his Form Five examination results and before leaving Taiping for Petaling Jaya to further his studies, he knelt in prayer to ask God to PROMISE him that, “should I stumble and fall, or backslide as a Christian in the future, that HE would catch me before I hit the ground and not let go.”


In that era when higher institutions of education were only available in the capital city, young people like Tieh Chuan who were seeking further education, moved to Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya from all over the country.


A personal note from the Tunku

When he ran short of money, he was forced to stop his studies and had to find a job. It was such a difficult time that he even had to be stingy with spending on food.


After attending 35 interviews, he landed his first job as an office boy with a small book publishing company. His daily tasks included menial jobs like cleaning the office and toilets, washing cups, wiping tables, wrapping and packing books, and loading and unloading books.


In the early years, he literally worked from the ground up, working his way to become the van driver before going on to be a travelling salesman for books.


With many setbacks and disappointments, it was not a smooth-sailing journey but Tieh Chuan was determined to learn everything there was to know about publishing books. In the production department, he observed and offered help to any staff.


Armed with the right attitude, he soon learned to do paste-ups on the manuscripts for new books, did typewriting on the IBM electric typewriter and also did typesetting.


Tieh Chuan [Right] with Tun Musa
Hitam [Centre] and Dr Bruce Gale

After 16 months in his first job, he was dealt another blow when the company had financial problems and he lost his job. With many failed attempts to find a new job, a friend advised him to start his own business. While his business partnership had a promising start, this venture ended in failure.


It was in early 1978 when Tieh Chuan experienced a new beginning in his job as sales representative with one of the biggest book distribution companies in Malaysia and Singapore. This marked the start of his career in book publishing.


His first breakthrough in publishing kicked off with the publication of the Malay edition of Living Crafts of Malaysia by Tan Sri Mubin Sheppard, Mekarnya Seni Pertukangan Malaysia, launched in March 1981.


In 1980, Tieh Chuan initiated a book project to document the history of Taiping Gospel Hall, the place where he heard the good news of the Gospel. This book, Reminiscences – Taiping Gospel Hall, 1880 to 1980, was published in 1981.


One of the most memorable days of Tieh Chuan’s life must be the book launch event for, Lest We Forget, the first book he published for Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, the nation’s first Prime Minister, launched on 8 February 1983 to coincide with his 80th birthday.


Tieh Chuan with Tun Dr Mahathir
Mohamad at his book launch event

In 1984 when he established his own business, Pelanduk Publications, which focused on publishing books on Malaysia by Malaysians, Tieh Chuan had the honour and privilege to publish the Tunku’s authorized pictorial biography titled, Tunku: A Pictorial Biography, Vol 1 (1903 – 1957) launched on 25 August 1984.


His book publishing career continued to soar with publishing many quality books that featured biographies, memoirs and historical records of prominent personalities like Datuk Onn Jaafar before the founding of UMNO, Sultan Azlan Shah, Tun Musa Hitam, Tan Sri Lee Siow Mong, Tan Sri Dr. Tan Chee Koon, Tun Dr. Daim Zainuddin and Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.


We know that God was at work in Tieh Chuan’s life because He produces in the ordinary something that was so extraordinary and inspiring.


Blessed with a son and a daughter, Tieh Chuan and Meow Yin wanted them to attend Sunday School and be brought up in a church environment. Their children grew up in Bandar Sunway Gospel Centre, an outreach project of the Petaling Jaya Gospel Hall, the church he and his wife joined when they first came from Taiping.


It was always satisfying to receive recognition for one’s efforts and for his contributions to the publishing industry, Tieh Chuan was honoured by business awards, a federal honour from the nation’s King, a state honour from a Sultan and the appointment as a Justice of Peace.


The Promise is available in
English and Chinese versions

In The Promise, Tieh Chuan said, “I recount the above awards in this book, not so much to impress readers, as to illustrate the point that it is possible for Christians to gain public recognition without the need to get ahead by putting others down or engaging in the sort of dubious practices that so often tempt businessmen.”


“It had not always been easy, but I have always tried to conduct my business affairs in a way that would be pleasing to God.”


As Tieh Chuan kept his faith and obedience to God through some of the roughest times in his life, God’s unseen hands were guiding him. Even though he stumbled along the way, God remained faithful and vindicated him with countless blessings.


Dato' Ng Tieh Chuan with
his wife, Datin Meow Yin

In keeping with Tieh Chuan’s aim to share the good news of the Gospel and God’s grace, all proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards the Good News Community Church, Senior Citizens Ministry.


The English version of The Promise has also been translated into Chinese.


Priced at only RM20.00 each, The Promise is truly a labour of love.


Get your copies of The Promise available from Canaanland Christian Bookstores in Selangor and online from


Canaaland Christian Store, 23-25 Jalan PJU 1A/41B, Pusat Dagangan NZX, Ara Damansara, 47301 Petaling Jaya, and Canaanland @DUMC Dream Centre, 2, Jalan 13/1, Seksyen 13, 46200 Petaling Jaya.

Note: Old photographs from The Promise used with permission from Dato' Ng Tieh Chuan.

Calling Japanese film buffs in JB!


The much-awaited Japanese Film Festival 2023 promises to deliver the finest selection of Japanese cinema on the grand screen for everyone's delight.


The JFF 2023 comes to Johor Baru from September 14 to 17, presented at GSC cinemas in the Paradigm Mall Johor Baru.


All films presented will be in Japanese with English subtitles.


Now in its 19th year, this annual event features over 16 captivating titles across genres like drama, documentary, romance, mystery and animation, immersing audiences in diverse aspects of Japanese culture.


Opening the curtains to this year's celebration, "Small, Slow but Steady" (2022) is a cinematic masterpiece by acclaimed director MIYAKE Sho who made a special appearance at the opening ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur on August 29.


Following his applauded “Ju-on: Origins” (2020) series on Netflix and "And Your Bird Can Sing" (2018) which can also be watched on JFF+ INDEPENDENT CINEMA website now.


In conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship, JFF extends a special invitation to director Lim Kah Wai, known for "Your Lovely Smile" (2022), a Malaysian filmmaker who has been actively producing films in Osaka, Japan.


Adding to the cinematic marvel, the event proudly presents the digitally remastered edition of “LUPIN the Third, The Castle of Cagliostro" (1979).


This iconic masterpiece marks the first feature film from the legendary MIYAZAKI Hayao, whose illustrious career includes timeless animated classics like "My Neighbor Totoro" (1988), "Princess Mononoke" (1997), "Spirited Away" (2001) and many more from Studio Ghibli.


While enjoying the JFF 2023, festival goers will also be rewarded by collecting stamps which they can use to redeem exclusive goodies and prizes.


Tickets for JFF 2023 will be sold at an affordable price of RM 10.00 (except “#Manhole”) via GSC channels.


Tickets for the screenings can be purchased via GSC Ticketing Kiosk, GSC e-payment at or GSC Mobile Apps.


A complete listing of JFF film synopsis, showtimes, and general information is available at and


Get your popcorn and get ready to be captivated by cinematic excellence and cultural enrichment at JFF 2023!

Celebrating our mother's 91 years


In our family, September is the month for many birthdays. Mum’s birthday falls on September 4 followed closely by my nephew Brendon’s birthday on September 5.


Mum with her siblings and their spouses;
[Seated L to R] Aunty Dato' Sylvia, mum, Aunty
Polly, Uncle Steven; [Standing L to R] Uncle Mok,
Uncle Dato' Billy and Aunty Datin Mary

My sister-in-law who was then carrying full-term, fondly recalls that our family had gathered to celebrate mum’s birthday with a sumptuous banquet dinner at Meisan, our favourite Chinese restaurant at the Holiday Inn in Century Gardens.


She claims that the dinner was so tasty and satisfying because right after our meal, she started to feel early contractions which signaled the time to get admitted to the medical center. She went into labour and the very next day, delivered a bouncing baby boy, Brendon.


From then on, mum and Brendon’s birthdays were always jointly celebrated.


September was also the birth month for mum’s second sister, our late Aunty Lily, whose birthday was September 6. Our eldest sister, Ruby, was born on September 8 and later in the month, our nephew Jamie has his birthday on September 11.

Another nephew, Jackson's birthday falls on September 19, followed by his Aunty Gillian's on September 20, and then mum’s youngest sister, Aunty Sylvia, will celebrate her birthday on September 24.

Aunty Polly and Aunty Dato' Sylvia 
presenting their warm wishes and gifts to mum

This year a small celebration was planned to celebrate mum’s 91st birthday, hosted in advance on September 3, a Sunday evening.


In this modern day and age, digital invitations were sent out via WhatsApp and replies were similarly received from dear friends and relatives who are based in Johor.


While invitations were extended to mum’s siblings in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, we were aware of the travel limitations due to advanced age or health reasons and were ready to accept their declines.


Mum’s two younger sisters, Aunty Polly and Aunty Sylvia, were however, well prepared to take a drive to Johor Baru with their spouses to join our celebration.


Charles and Siew Ying with mum at
our advanced celebration together

Still very much Johorean at heart, our aunts who are now based in USJ and Mont Kiara, always enjoyed a trip to Johor Baru to revisit familiar places, meet old friends and most of all, have a taste of local street food – which they say – cannot be found elsewhere.


That morning, this adventurous foursome enjoyed a smooth drive on the North-South highway and arrived on time to savour a local lunch before heading over for afternoon tea and to present mum with birthday gifts.


At 3pm, they left for their hotel check-in, all set to meet again that evening at the appointed restaurant for the banquet dinner celebration with mum.


We anticipated heavy traffic on the roads on Sunday evening – being a work and school day in Johor – and to avoid being stressed on the road, we wisely scheduled a comfortable drive to the restaurant.


Richard and his wife with mum, 
Aunty Sylvia and Aunty Polly

On our arrival at the front porch of the restaurant, several guests were already there to give mum a very warm welcome.


It was only fitting for mum to be celebrated and blessed with gifts on this special occasion as she had been such a blessing to others in her 91 years.


Our family friends, Charles and Siew Ying, had to decline our invitation as they had a prior arrangement to attend a wedding in Kuala Lumpur on the same day. As such, we planned an advance celebration with mum over lunch at home.


Dennis Ng with mum

“Both Charles and I are very blessed to have your mum’s help in our early years of bringing up the children,” said Siew Ying, a mother of three and now already a grandmother of three.


Mum, who is a retired midwife, often shares her years of experience and useful tips with mothers-to-be and young mothers on the mother’s selfcare and infant-care.


I can remember the fragrance that filled our house when mum cooked traditional nutritious dishes for young mothers during their confinement month. Mum would send it over to the mothers or the fathers would come to collect it from our house.


Her post-natal care to inexperienced mothers is fondly remembered by friends and patients alike, who cannot forget mum’s kindness to them in their times of need.


Mum cutting her cake with candles
designed in 91 digits

While the number of guests at our dinner celebration was small, it was good that three of mum’s siblings and their spouses were able to join us that evening.


They were Uncle Dato’ Billy and his wife, Aunty Datin Mary, Aunty Polly and Uncle Steven, and Aunty Dato’ Sylvia and her husband, Uncle Mok.


My brother and his wife, who arranged the seating plan, told me that the seniors will sit together and that mum’s two sisters will take care of her during the dinner.


Other guests included a couple of our cousins, Richard Tay and Felicia Ng, members of the Lui family who are my brother’s in-laws, the See family who are my sister’s in-laws, and a few friends who are near and dear to mum.


Young Ayden had his eyes fixed on that
white disc of chocolate on the cake... 

Two young men – Daniel See from Taiwan and Dennis Ng from Australia – who happened to be in Johor that very weekend learnt that their parents were invited to our celebration, they reached out to us for an invitation. They were, of course, welcomed to join.


It was a cosy gathering for a good meal and catch-up conversations, particularly for everyone to meet mum again after the long periods of lockdowns and separation over the past few years.


Cousin Richard and his wife have a tradition of coming over to pay their respects to mum every year, ahead of the first day of the Chinese New Year, bearing gifts and presenting mum with a traditional red packet filled with lai-see, fortune money.


Ayden attempting to feed mum that 
disc of white chocolate from the cake

During the lockdown in early 2021 when travel was limited to only 10km, Richard and his wife could not come over physically to pay their respects to mum but they still kept the tradition of sending gifts and that traditional red packet to mum.


This was done with the help of a trusted Grab driver. Richard sent me photos of himself passing the gifts and red packet to the driver and told me to expect its delivery at a given estimated time.


Upon delivery, the driver insisted on taking a photo of me receiving the package so that he could send it to Richard as proof of his safe delivery to us.


We know that it’s the thought that counts but mum deeply appreciated his effort in making such an arrangement to keep the tradition alive in spite of the unfortunate circumstances due to the global pandemic and lockdowns.


Guests gathered around to sing the Birthday song!

Since travel reopened, Richard and his wife resumed their visit to mum every year, bearing gifts and that traditional red packet to mum, ahead of the Chinese New Year.


Likewise, cousin Felicia and her husband also have a heart for mum and they often visited for Christmas and Chinese New Year.


While we were keeping mum isolated from visitors in the lockdown period, they politely asked if it was ok to visit and we welcomed them over. At that time, the travel ruling was limited to 10km and with no passengers.


Happy recipients of red packets with mum

The challenge for them was to travel with their young son, Ayden, who is a bundle of energy that could hardly sit still. In jest, we suggested that he should lie down on the back seat to keep himself out of sight…


Meanwhile, the borders opened for international travel and when it was June 2022, cousin Dennis returned from Melbourne to visit his parents and his in-laws in Johor.


And when Dennis turned up to visit mum for afternoon tea, instead of bringing cake or pastries to share with mum, he brought along fresh durians from his in-law’s orchard.


Dennis was such a good host when he welcomed my sister and I to join him, then based in Shanghai for work, for an unforgettable holiday in 2012. This exciting experience was shared in my Travel story, Venice of the East, and Dennis’ hair-cutting experience with a traditional Chinese barber.


In fact, he was in this part of the world again for work and would be heading off to the airport directly after our dinner together, enroute to Jakarta.


That evening, our dinner progressed smoothly as course after course of scallops, fish, duck, vegetables and dessert were served. The Chinese dessert served was a traditional Teochew yam pudding, or nee, Brendon’s favourite Chinese dessert.


My brother stuck a candle on a portion of the or nee to create a third ‘cake’ to join two cakes – a Pandan layer cake and Chocolate layer cake – for the Birthday song to be sung three times: first for mum (Sept 4), then for Brendon (Sept 5) and finally for our eldest sister, Ruby (Sept 8).


Mum with her two youngest sisters,
Aunty Sylvia and Aunty Polly

Meanwhile, young Ayden had got his eye fixed on a disc of white chocolate in the decoration on the Pandan cake and as soon as the candles were blown out, he was quick to pick up the white disc and attempted to feed it to mum!


The celebration came to a fitting close with mum – the grand old lady – presenting a traditional red packet to each guest who honoured her with their presence at this special occasion.


It was rather chaotic as one-by-one, the guests received a red packet as a token of appreciation from mum while Ayden was still trying to feed mum with that disc of white chocolate…


But it was all in good fun for a most memorable celebration to mark mum’s 91st birthday together. Thank you everyone for your presence and presents to mum.


P.S. Thanks also to all who could not join us physically but sent your thoughts and wishes to mum in birthday cards through snail-mail, WhatsApp and video calls. Your thoughts and wishes are deeply valued. Thank you.