Category: Personalities

I’m On Reality TV

So I’m gonna be on reality TV… well, at least as a cameo anyway.

I went to Penang a while ago because a girl there by the name of Joo Nee Oh sent me an e-mail and invited me over for the opening of her dance studio.
If it weren’t for the sincerity of her invitation, I might have my doubts. But the fact is, she was so sincere that her e-mail to me sounded like this.

Dear Kenny, I sincerely sincerely would like to invite you as my VVIP guest. I will have no hesitations to fly you down from Sarawak if you agree and your accommodation will also be provided at Cititel Hotel Penang. I know it’s not exactly a five-star hotel but my finances are really tied down by the budget allocated to us by the sponsors. Believe me, if I had the means I wouldn’t mind sending Paris Hilton over to Sarawak to escort you over. But to prove my sincerity, I’ll throw in a tour of the Penang brothels and the best Penang Char Koay Teow for you. :p

And so I flew to Penang. It’s the brothels that did it for me. What a smart lass.

They would be more useful if they could help carry my luggage.

Actually no, we didn’t get to tour the Penang brothels. Nevermind that ‘cos I don’t advocate those kinda stuff anyway. To me, paying for sex is like paying for parking: if you can get it for free, why pay for it?
On a more serious note, Joo Nee is one of four finalists from a TV show called Nescafe Kickstart. It is basically an entreprenuerial reality show much like The Apprentice, only with more of a local Malaysian flavour, minus that billionaire with a bad haircut who likes to fire people.

If you haven’t yet caught the show (7pm Saturdays on TV3), go watch it. It is one of the best local productions yet. I’m not lying.
If you think I’m only saying that because I am in one of the episodes, then you are absolutely right.

Joo Nee’s studio is called Let’s Dance and is located on the 28th floor of Northam Tower A, Penang.
Before all these happened, Joo Nee was a struggling accountant with an IT firm punching numbers into computers 8 hours a day. She threw that all away when the opportunity came along with Nescafe Kickstart, and the smart girl decided to take a HUGE risk quitting her job to start her own business.

Within 2 months, the 24-year-old amassed enough sponsors to finance her project. On the 10th February, Let’s Dance was finally declared open.
I was there to witness it.

Of course, this being a dance studio, there were tons of dance performances lined up.
The highlight being Joo Nee Oh shaking her Shakira.

Then there were hip hop dancers who danced like they could somehow defy gravity.

I also can defy gravity.

Ok fine, I’m not very good at it.
Unfortunately for me, someone at the dance studio filmed me trying to dance hip hop and posted it up on Youtube.

I’m not sure which episode of Nescafe Kickstart I’ll be in, but let’s hope there’s less embarrassing footage of me on TV.

Let’s Dance studio is now open, functioning as a dance school by day and doubles as a dance club by night. For as low as RM6.25 per lesson, you can learn sexy belly dancing, latin, hip hop or other dances, and help Joo Nee’s small business grow big in the process.
They are good. Confirm you will dance better than me one lah. And make sure you catch the show 7pm Saturdays on TV3.

I think this move is called “Humpty Dumpty Had A Great Fall”

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. This blog entry is sponsored by Joo Nee Oh. If you have something against advertising on blogs, pretend you didn’t read the previous paragraphs.

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Kid Chan Takes Photo Until Become Famous

They say if you wanna succeed in your career, it’s not just what you know, it’s who you know.

Widening the number of people you know is important. Possessing good networking skills is not an option, but a key to an individual’s success. I often see a lot of people good at what they’re doing end up bumming at home. Then there are those who are out there able to secure endless business offers, simply because they know how to know the right people.
When it comes to networking, one person from my circle of friends stands out brilliantly.

His name is Kid Chan, wedding photographer and owner of Portrait One and Kid Chan Studio. Now, I’ve been to several social functions with Kid Chan, and to watch him so diligently go around the room networking with people is nothing short of awesome.
This guy can walk into a room full of strangers, walk out of it an hour later with 90% of the room all knowing his name and what he does for a living. The remaining 10% who don’t know about him are most likely in the toilets when Kid was doing his rounds.

With such an impressive networking skills, it is very little coincidence that over the years, Kid Chan has risen above the rest of the competition to secure his place as the number one wedding photographer in Malaysia.
Oh, you don’t believe me? Kid’s reputation in wedding photography is undisputed. Flip through ANY bridal magazines in Malaysia, and you are bound to find works from Kid Chan Studio published among their glossy pages.

Don’t say he’s lucky, because Kid believes that luck comes with hard work. At only 29 years old, Kid seems to have achieved what many other wedding photographers can only DREAM to achieve.
His spectacular list of clients speaks for itself. Among some of Kid’s most notable weddings done to date are Paula Malai Ali and Tengku Kudin, last year’s Wedding of the Year between Siti Nurhaliza and Datuk K, and closer to home, YB Larry Sng and May Ting, daughter of Sarawak’s timber and construction giant Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing.

So spectacular is his repertoire that Kid Chan was named one of “100 people You Must Know In Asia” by Malaysia Tatler magazine, amongst many other accolades.
I asked Kid to be the photographer for my brother’s recent wedding dinner in KL. We caught up afterwards, and I decided to interview him for my next entry in’s Personalities.

No, I don’t eat babies for dinner. Photo credit:

Let’s cut to the chase and ask the question every photograther wants to know – how did you do it? How do you take photos that look so poignant and breathtakingly amazing. I would describe your works as postcard-quality, but I don’t wanna give too much credit to the postcards.
The PPC of photography (WOW did I just coined a term?). Patience, Practice and Chance. But I am a firm believer that the harder you work, the luckier you get.

Kid Chan with Hollywood actress Devon Aoki. Photo credit:

You have photographed some of the world’s most recognised people, including royalties, world leaders and entertainment celebrities. Who are some the more memorable personalities you’ve photographed?
Most of them are very memorable, with great stories to tell. When I shot Jackie Chan for Pride it was great. In fact shy a bit, when he came back early from a function. So technically, he needed to wait for us. Hahaha!

Your lovely wife Shirlyn is also the financial controller of Kid Chan Studio. Some would say it’s a bad idea to be in the same workplace as your partner. Have you encountered any difficulties working together thus far?
Seriously, that is the BEST decision I have made for the company. Technically, she is not my partner but my boss. The vision is now clearer, we are also much more effective and efficient. The real deal is I get to sleep with such a sexy boss, and no one’s complaining! Hahaha.
So what you mean is, you can come home from taking photos of the sexiest models in this country, and still keep your upper and lower heads intact?
I suppose trust is very important, and I hardly shoot models.

You are the first Malaysian to be a member of the prestigious Wedding Photojournalist Association. What’s the difference between a traditional wedding photographer, and a “photo journalist”?
Photojournalist tends to be more an observer rather than creator. But frankly in Malaysia, we need to compromise. The degree of acceptance is still somewhat lacking for a full photojournalism work. The only pure wedding photojournalism work so far I have done is for Datuk Siti Nurhaliza. It is because the show was live broadcast, and photographer were not given any chance to communicate with the subjects.

What would you say was your “big break” in your career?
I supposed Paula Malai Ali’s wedding was big milestone in my career. She was so kind to insist all the publications give me the due credit mention. It was at a time, when no one knew what was wedding photojournalism and SEPIA was! Even then, I really did not know what I was doing was wedding photojournalism. However I believe in whatever we do in life, you can’t be an one hit wonder. Your “big break” should really be what you going to do next. Just like now, doing this interview for Malaysia’s foremost celebrity blogger is a big break for me.

And the “Kid Chan” brand name just spread like wildfire, isn’t it? It’s good that you’re shooting Malay weddings because they usually have such a large extended family, so all their brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, cousins, nephews, nieces all know about you.
Talking about wildfire, I recently had a very surreal experience. I lost my 3 months old Gucci wallet and went to lodge a police report. When I was done, the PUAN asked me for a autograph!
What would you say is the single most important quality that a person must possess to find success in his or her field of work?

Photo credit:

Your specialty is in Malay weddings. As a Chinese boy, how do you know what to shoot especially when you first started out? Have you ever done anything during these weddings that made you go “Oops! I shouldn’t have done that”?
But being a Malaysian and growing up into such a multi-racial environment, I would not say that I am totally oblivious to other cultures. In fact my clients, who are now mostly my friends, really took the time to guide me. Of course, I was very careful (sensible is not a word to describe me) – not to go overboard or try to do anything funny. Contrary to popular belief, being a non-Malay is more an advantage rather than hindrance. I was able to look at the wedding from an out-of-the-box view.
Although I am regarded as the pioneer of Malay wedding photojournalism, today my portfolio is really very diverse. Beach and garden weddings have also become a very strong area for me.

Let’s rewind back a little before you found the enormous success that you enjoy right now. You didn’t start off as a photographer. You graduated from commerce at Curtin University, and then what happened?
I did corporate work for a while. My boss was a very respected corporate figure in the education sector. We bought, sell and manage very prestigious education institution. But fast forward, I felt that I was about to burnt out so went on an apprenticeship. The rest they say was history.

So what exactly happened that put your foot into wedding photography?
Believe it or not, accident! You see, those days a wedding photographer was not really regarded as a serious photographer. If you want work, you’d do commercial or corporate photography. But we were then servicing some very important corporate and government clients. And so, if they call and said “Kid, my son is getting married. I’d like you to come and take some pictures for me.” You can’t say, “Tan Sri – we don’t do that!”

Photo credit:

You didn’t want to be a wedding photographer at first because traditionally, wedding photographers were treated like bellboys. Now you’re staying in luxurious 5-star resort hotels like Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons everytime you travel for an assignment. What do you have to say about that? 😛
I won’t say everytime, but most of the time. Although we never imposed on the client, most of the time they treat us very well. Just like a very close family member and it is FANTASTIC!
I was given one of the nicest view when I was in Miri Marriot (I had a dual frontage of the beach and the pool) for YB Larry Sng’s wedding. Another client put me in a premium water chalet at Avillion that costs RM1080, when he can just put me in rumah tumpangan Port Dickson. Really it does not just stop with the rooms – one of my client insist that we fly business to London, another had us chauffered driven in a Bentley and we were given bodyguards as escorts!

I want your job.
And I want yours! But like they always say, “the grass is always greener on the other side”, and “be careful with what you wish for.”

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Great By 24

Behind every seemingly normal-looking person is an amazing story waiting to be told.

It is based on this belief that I’ve created a new section on called “Personalities”. I meet new people almost everyday. Many of them have stories that have taught and inspired me along the way, and I’ll put them up here.

John Lee is one of those guys I met recently who doesn’t look all that remarkable on the outside at first, but leaves your mouth wide agape once you know just how much he has accomplished.
Some people looked at him and said he bears an uncanny resemblance to Lord Victor Quartermaine from Wallace and Grommit.

But I think they are just being mean. 😛
They would probably think differently if they were to know three things about John Lee: a 5-figure monthly salary, Mercedes Benz, and 24 years old.
And he did it all by himself.

John Lee is the founder and mastermind of Epsilon Translation, a Kuching-based company specialising in providing translation services for almost every single imaginable languages throughout the whole wide world.
A few years ago, John Lee was a small fry printing flyers from his computer and placing them around University campus. What started out as a RM20 investment from spare change in his pocket, grew into an international company with offices in Malaysia, spanning as far as Japan, Europe and USA, with clients ranging from major airlines to big-chain hotels and electronic giants.
What’s truly amazing is that John Lee did it within a short span of just four years.

The Mercedes that translating bought

Who would have thought translating languages would earn you so much money?
Our parents would tell us to quit dreaming about doing something different and stick to something proven, like setting up a retail outlet or open a coffeeshop business. John Lee broke away from convention found his niche.

John Lee wasn’t born to rich parents with endless wads of cash at his disposal. He doesn’t have an overseas education or even completed his University degree for that matter. Knowing that is enough made me feel inadequate, because even with a job that my father handed down to me on a silver platter, I wasn’t doing half as good as this guy is.
John Lee is self-made, and that’s what make him so inspirational. The guy even had A BOOK published about his success story. How many people can claim the same thing?

Dang, when is it my turn to appear on my own book cover?

John’s book is now available in all major bookstores including Popular, MPH and Kinokuniya.
He passed me a copy of his book and I finished it within a day. I won’t do a book review, but suffice to say it’s short and concise but packed with chokeful of practical tips for budding entrepreneurs. Personally, I highly recommend anyone wanting to start their own business to pick up a copy of this book as motivation. You won’t regret it.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Epsilon was built in four years

Clearly, John Lee is enjoying his life. While his ex-classmates was busy slogging 10 hours a day for their engineering firms, John Lee was flying to faraway places like Rome and Vienna clinching his next USD$10,000 deals.
I asked him what are the most bizzare translation jobs he has come across, and he said there’s this European guy who wanted his entire volume of personal diary to be translated for his Asian wife – because he wants her to read it before he commits suicide.

Then there’s this porn video distributor from Thailand who wanted John Lee to do subtitles for their porn videos. Gee, I never knew anyone would pay attention to the dialogues in porn videos.
I mean, who cares, right?
I guess now if any male Epsilon Translation employees are caught watching porn at work with one hand below their desks, then John would have nothing to say.

John is hard at work. Literally, “hard” at work. Pun intended.

Kenny: “Does that mean you will be paid to watch porn videos?”
John: “Yes.”
Kenny: “Bastard…”
John: “Hehehe.”
I bet all you horny guys out there are scrambling to get into the translation business now.

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She’s Not Sick, Just A Bit Unwell

Up until a few years ago I was working as a private tutor in my spare time, giving tuition lessons to high school and University kids on maths and science subjects.

Back then, I always noticed there are usually two types of students.
The first one would hire me to teach them. I had to go through every single tiny detail with them, right down to the basics that everyone should’ve known. They are the ones who hardly pay attention in class, probably skipped a few of them. But when exams come around the corner, they panicked like their arse cheeks are glued together.
Out of desperation, they reached down into their parents’ deep pockets and threw money at me, asking me to stay back till 3 in the morning so they could catch up with their studies. I wouldn’t have agreed if it weren’t for the money. Sometimes they even expected me to skip my own classes to accomodate for their gross incompetence.
And when they finally got their exam results, they happily said to me, “thank you Kenny, you made me PASS my papers.”
I do not feel any sense of accomplishment with such students. I just feel tulan.

The second type of students would hire my services to learn. I hardly see them around, but prior to their exams, they called me up for a one-hour session. Normally I’d stay longer because they’re such a joy to teach. These ones did all the hard work themselves. They only called me up when they tried everything they could in their capacity but still couldn’t solve some of the harder questions. The difference is, they attempted to stand on their own two feet before calling for help.
Guess who had better results in the end?

Yvonne Foong reminds me of the second type of students I used to teach. The 20-year-old KL girl is being diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis.
You don’t have to know how to pronounce it. You just need to know it is a rare genetic disorder which causes patient to grow tumours on nerves, on the brain and along the spinal cord. The patient will experience symptoms of nausea, balance problems, partial facial paralysis, and most importantly the loss of hearing. There is no cure for this disorder.

When I met up with Yvonne late last year, she has already lost her sense of hearing. Part of her face was obviously affected as well. We communicated writing on a piece of paper and passing to and fro, like primary school kids.
Can you imagine living a life in complete silence?
It is difficult to comprehend what Yvonne is going through. I would think that anybody undergoing such a predicament would obviously be depressed and find it difficult to go on with life.

But Yvonne is not anybody. Her disorder is rare, which means very few doctors in Malaysia specialising in this field. The cost of treatment is outside of what she could afford. But that girl is not taking this shit lying down.
Through intensive research and information gathering, Yvonne managed to track down a Dr Friedman in California, one of the few doctors in the world who could help regain her hearing without damaging her nerves causing facial disfiguration. Best of all,he agreed to perform the complicated surgery on her, free of charge.
All she needed to do is raise enough funds to cover travel and hospital expenses – a hefty RM216,000 thus far.

Instead of sitting there waiting for help to come to her, Yvonne started a series of projects to raise funds for her surgery. She designed and sold T-shirts, organised a rock concert, and even wrote a book on her experiences dealing with NF2.
If you can, pick up a copy of her book at your nearest bookstore. Otherwise, you may generously donate to Yvonne’s medical fund. Her book is titled “I’m Not Sick, Just A Bit Unwell”. For a book written by a first-timer, it was doing pretty good.
So good it was sold out and restocked in some MPH bookstores.

As of writing, Yvonne Foong is in California, having just completed the all-important surgery by Dr Friedman. There has been no updates from her since the day of the surgery. If all goes well, hopefully she could be listening to music, watching movies without subtitles and hearing people talk once again.

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