Category Archives: Media

Caring Matters

Dear Bibliophiles and those visiting Penang this weekend,

The George Town Literary Festival and it’s related events are set to keep us all on our toes as we have fun being introduced to new book titles and their authors and have a great start to Christmas shopping!

How about taking some time out and going on a photographic exploration of love, caring relationships, social and filial ties?

It is being presented by Karyn Coxall-Leong from Friday 22/11/2019 till 29/11/2019 at Viva Victoria’s Upstairs Gallery at 169, Lebuh Victoria.

The exhibition opens at 6pm this Friday and runs from 12 noon till 11.30pm on other days.

“In a time and place where technology, convenience, consumerism lead, it is so very easy to get caught up in the everyday goings-on, ” says Karyn.

“No matter your circumstances or where you come from, we must all make an effort to remember family and community as the true lynchpins of life.”

(Images courtesy of Karyn Coxall-Leong)

Fay & Food

My first “sighting” of this lovely and funny soul was at The Star Penang newsroom in 1993, when I joined as a reporter and she was the paper’s freelance writer/stringer.

Once she got behind the computer she would remain focussed and quiet as she went about putting together her famous food reviews.

The sub-editors usually found themselves needing to consult the dictionary when clearing her copies (Aiyo Fay, why are you using such big words, you think our readers can understand, meh? was usually conveyed to Fay by Anna Cheah our then chief sub-editor) Fay would simply smile and give some funny retort and everyone would laugh.

Her love for food was legendary. Some of us would join her for quick hawker meals close to the office when she stepped in to meet her deadlines. As most people know, this foodie was just as adept in appreciating fine food and made no bones when any dish did not meet her exacting standards.

When she moved on to other interests, especially in publishing, I used to pick up her nifty card sets with watercolour images of all things Malaysiana and even tried her ‘Miss Khoo’s Asian Deli’ gourmet products at the time, as I heard they had found their way to the shelves of Harvey Nichols in the United Kingdom.

The writer, TV and radio host, publisher, lover of all things nautical and much-loved daughter, always had a kind word for everyone and we missed her laughter and teasing when she left The Star to pursue other projects and adventures.

It was shocking and painful to many of us to hear that Fay, who was then 48, had left us after a brief illness in April, 2017.

Bettina Chua Abdullah and I had a mutual friend in Fay and our stories and friendship with this fun-loving soul are different and yet, the same. Fay shared different friendships with different people and made her mark which can never be erased.

Which now brings us to the third edition of the Fay Khoo Award for Food and Drink Writing which Bettina organised and has been directing to honour Fay’s legacy.

The call for entries has been made and details found below. The 2019 winners will be announced at this year’s George Town Literary Festival which takes place in Penang from Nov 21-24 (please mark your calendars)

Thank you Bettina, for your dedication in keeping Fay’s memory and our friendships alive!

(In addition to written narrative entries for the award, comics and graphic stories are also open to authors and illustrators wishing to submit illustrated narratives)


The aim of The Fay Khoo Award for Food+Drink Writing is to recognise new and talented voices, and to encourage and develop excellence in food and drink narratives. We believe that there is a space and a need for well-researched and impactful food journalism, because it is through such writing that we can shine a light on people, culture, health, economics and the environment of culinary delight.

This year we hope to present awards to the three best entries, regardless of category. Please read the conditions of entry and submission guidelines carefully, as these have changed from previous years.

The CONDITIONS OF ENTRY are as follows:

• All writing must fall into the categories of personal narrative, reportage or creative non-fiction.

• Entries should not exceed 2000 words.

• Entries must be submitted in English, and must be the sole work of the entrant.

• Entries must never have been published, self-published, broadcast or uploaded on any

website, blog or online forum.

• Anyone over the age of 16 years at the time of the closing date, who is a citizen or resident

of ASEAN countries, may submit up to three (3) entries.

• A fee of RM 20 per submission will be levied to cover administrative costs.

Processing of fees is made by Hikayat Lebuh Pantai, which manages The Fay Khoo Award, upon submission of entry/entries.

Bank details are as follows:

Maybank | Hikayat Lebuh Pantai Sdn Bhd | 557018565194

Please reference your payment with FKA and your WhatsApp number: eg FKA 012-345-6789

If you do not have a mobile phone, please use a landline number.


• Entries must be saved in Microsoft Word format, and emailed to

• Entries need to be double-spaced and the word-count noted at top of the first page.

• Entries must include a WhatsApp or landline number, so that you can be sent a confirmation

that your entry has been received, and we can link submission fees to your entry.

• To protect the integrity of the judging process, entries must not include your name or email address. We will contact you via the WhatsApp or landline number you have provided, for your name and other necessary information.

• Amendments or revised versions will not be accepted.

• Entries will be accepted from July 15, 2019 and must be received by September 15, 2019.

• A fee of RM 20 per submission will be levied to cover administrative costs.

• Entrants who have not turned 18 by November 1, 2019 must provide a parent/legal guardian’s name and contact details.


• There will be three (3) judges for the Fay Khoo Award. The judges’ decision is final.

• The judges will not comment on individual entries.

• The Fay Khoo Award reserves the right to change the panel of judges without notice.

• A Longlist of up to 15 entries will be announced by October 10, 2019, and writers notified by WhatsApp and email.

• A Shortlist of 6 entries will be announced by October 28, 2019, and writers notified by

WhatsApp and email.


• The winning entries will be announced at the George Town Literary Festival between

November 21-24, 2019. Accommodation will be provided for the day of the prize-giving.


• Worldwide copyright of each entry remains with the author, but by virtue of submitting an entry, participants are assigning unrestricted right to publish the winning entry, shortlisted entries and long-listed entries in any format. This right is granted to the managers of The Fay Khoo Award, Hikayat Lebuh Pantai Sdn Bhd and its associates in perpetuity, upon submission of the entry for consideration.

• The Fay Khoo Award will retain fully all income generated by publication of the winning entries, shortlisted entries and long-listed entries, while the author will retain all income generated by their publication separate to this.

• In cases where the author of a winning, shortlisted or longlisted entry independently publishes said submission, the author will mention that the piece was a winner or shortlisted or longlisted entry in The Fay Khoo Award for Food+Drink Writing.


• Each of the three winners receives a cash award of MYR1500, and a book voucher for MYR500

• Shortlisted entries may also receive other supplementary prizes, at the discretion of the organisers.


• The organisers of the Fay Khoo Award reserve the right to amend these conditions of entry

if deemed necessary. Any changes will be posted on the award’s Facebook page.

• For further information, please email

(Images courtesy from the FKAward Facebook and Fay’s)

Over Penang and more …

For those of us blessed to receive his morning greetings with images of Penang or any place David ST Loh travels to, the world takes on an amazing and refreshing view.

That’s because when this photojournalist takes you along on his journeys, he shows you completely different angles of places you may even be living next to, but never quite appreciated before.

And so it was last year with his ‘Over Penang Photography Exhibition’ during the George Town Festival, where those who visited, were given a visual treat of Penang via drone photography.

A natural progression to the exhibition is about to be unveiled next week.

A coffee table book “Over Penang” will be available from July 1 and here’s a blurb from the book penned by my dear friend Bettina Chua Abdullah …

Here is a singularly new perspective of a vibrant, historical and fascinating Penang: captured by an eye in the sky that whirred over lands where hundreds of years ago scattered souls formed communities and built lives. Here is what an island of enterprise and toil, of majesty and enchantment looks like, from way up where the air currents flow. Each image is accompanied by a long-form text that brings intimacy to the scale and lends depth to the subject. Skimming clay-baked rooftops and cacophonous processions, each page of Over Penang is photojournalist David ST Loh’s unique view on his much-loved island home.”

The pages from the new publication found in this blog post, have been generously supplied by David as a curtain-raiser to the book, which will serve as yet another great souvenir of Penang one can treasure and/or gift to Penangites at heart.

Congratulations and thank you David Loh, for raising the bar (yet again) in taking the promotion of Penang to a whole new level!

(Over Penang will be available at all reputable bookstores in Malaysia and Singapore from 7 July, 2019. Please check back with this post on how you can place your online orders after 31 July 2019. If you are visiting Penang or blessed enough to live on this island, pop over to Hikayat at 226, Lebuh Pantai, George Town and grab a copy or more!)

From Broadway to George Town … story-telling of faith

Broadway actor Bruce Kuhn is coming to town! This will not be his first trip to Malaysia (he has performed in the Klang Valley and East Malaysia previously) but definitely his maiden visit to Penang.

Kuhn’s list of acting performances in the United States include playing Javert (the Police Inspector) and Thenardier (Master of the House) in “Les Miserables” on Broadway. He also starred in the national tour of Harry Chapin’s one-man Off-Broadway hit, “The Cotton Patch Gospel,” and performed in the national tour of “Chess,” directed by Trevor Nunn.

His one-man shows on his worldwide tours have included “The Gospel of Luke” and “Acts of the Apostles” which are told as stories in a compelling manner.

Kuhn’s gift in storytelling is one which he shares with others, via ‘Word by Heart’, an international training school (which he is a co-founder). Students around the world (from Vancouver in Canada to Oxford in the UK) have been taught via his courses, to present a gospel to an audience.

His Penang dates are from Friday (21/6/2019) to Saturday (22/6/2019) where he will be sharing his God-given talents via two monologue theatre performances and a workshop.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception at Pulau Tikus in George Town will host Bruce Kuhn and his performances.

With a donation of RM25, you get to attend all three sessions. Tickets are available during weekend masses at the church and at the parish office.

His Penang programme is as follows:

8 pm on Friday 21 June, 2019

Monologue on the Gospel of Luke

10 am on Saturday 22 June, 2019

Workshop on Memorizing & Story Telling

8 pm on Saturday 22 June , 2019

Monologue on the Acts of the Apostles

(Church of the Immaculate Conception, 1 Lorong Maktab, 10250 Penang)

Rebecca’s Nifty Sketchbooks

Her t-shirts and their Malaysiana prints of flora and fauna inspired many in the 1980s when she sold these items at Central Market in Kuala Lumpur.

Today, Malaysian artist and painter Rebecca Duckett-Wilkinson continues to be inspired from her homes in Penang, Pangkor and Piedmont (Italy) and shares her impressions on paper, canvas, textile and other mediums.

Her latest offerings are these nifty sketchbooks which can double up as travel journals in eye-catching colours and takes you to the jungle and the sea.

A set of 6 of these sketchbooks are retailing at RM80 and currently sold at the Tropical Spice Garden at Teluk Bahang in Penang. Other retail outlets are being confirmed at the moment.

Contact details for the artist are found in the photo below …

Mindfulness and Digital Waste

Who among us hasn’t taken 12 shots of the same subject and then ended up choosing and using only two images?

Have we even bothered spending time to enjoy the beauty of the subject photographed or ponder on the meaning of the photo? Or are we just rushing to get the images uploaded on our social media platforms and then wait to see how many people will “like” and comment on the said posting(s)?

And who else among us spend our days mindlessly forwarding messages without stoping to ponder for a moment if the contents are true or even of value to its recipients?

On behalf of I, me and myself, the humble response is “guilty as charged.”

A photo and video exhibition by Madhvee Deb called Digital Waste: the Sweet Smell of Burning, is taking place in George Town and highlightsthe behavioural issues of taking excessive photographs and a disproportionate exchange of worthless information on social media.

The photographs and objects primarily use rejected images, the leftover images we discard when searching for the perfect photo to post online – showcasing the hypnotic effect of social media on the human mind in a subtle and humorous way.

Her exhibition is open to the public at OME Spacebar Coffee (Lorong Toh Aka in George Town) throughout the George Town Festival 2018.

Well done Madhvee, for the gentle reminder to be present in the moment and think again about spending endless hours on our smartphones and tablets daily and ignoring real people and our surroundings, because we are so caught up with/in the virtual world!

(Images of exhibition and exhibits courtesy of Madhvee Deb)

#gtf2018 #georgetownfestival #photography #digitalwaste #mindfulness #technology

Ode to Sa Pek

Some stories require minimal words, because the photos say it all, and do so in a compelling and articulate manner.

Welcome to George Town where the month of July seems to have taken off with features of photographers who are standing out as fascinating storytellers of a city and island steeped in colour, culture, nature, heritage and endless charm.

Visual artist, photographer and graphic designer Goh Hun Meng and three generations before him lived in the clan houses of the Khoo Kongsi (Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi) at Cannon Square, a George Town World Heritage site.

Pivotal to a photography exhibition he is presenting during the upcoming George Town Festival, is his 82 year old uncle and godfather, Goh Kong Chuan.

“Sa Pek” or Third Uncle as the elder Goh is referred to in the family, was an avid photographer and showered his nieces and nephews with much kindness when they were growing up.

He also served in the Reserve Army and gave ballroom dancing lessons.

He also used to capture milestones in his family’s lives and the laughter and tears punctuated in between, with his trusty camera.

“My late grandmother (born between 1910 and 1912) was a Khoo who had lived in the clanhouse since she was five, “ Hun Meng said.

“When we were growing up, Sa Pek used to give pocket money to my cousins and I and took many precious family photos.

“Today he is 82, suffers from dementia and lives in Pulau Tikus with his wife Lim Poh Geok. His memory is not as good as before.

“The exhibition showcasing his precious collection of photos is my tribute to a man who has always cared for his family.”

Hun Meng is also looking to raise funds for his aging uncle by selling the photographs on display and donating all the proceeds to Goh Senior.

The exhibition which runs from 9 Aug to 3 September, 2018 (from 11am-6pm daily) opens on Aug 11 at 10.30am @Jetty 35 located on the ground floor of 35, Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 Penang.

(All images courtesy of Goh Hun Meng)

(Note: the 16 clan houses which flank the alleyway from the main entrance to the central Clan Temple and courtyard of the Khoo Kongsi where Hun Meng and family lived, have morphed in recent times, into a 43 guest roomed boutique hotel called Clans Kongsi George Town. The story is found in an earlier posting ‘Amazing Slices of History @ClansKongsiGeorgeTown’ in this same blog

#postcodegeorgetown #georgetownfestival2018 #photographyexhibition #photoessay #unescoworldheritage #gohhunmeng #khookongsi

Celebrating David Loh’s Homecoming

Journalist David ST Loh left Penang three decades ago to work for news organisations like Reuters, The Star and more recently, The Malaysian Insight.

The internationally-published Loh has spent 26 years in the media industry, of which 21 of them were as a photojournalist. He later moved on to became an editor at the award-winning photographic department of the Reuters Ltd news agency.

He left Reuters in 2016 as Editor-in-Charge (EIC) for the agency’s Global Pictures Desk and today works for The Malaysian Insight.

Previously based in cities like Kuala Lumpur, London and Singapore, Loh’s images have graced many global newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, UK Times and others. He was also part of a judging panel for the ChinaInternational Press Photo Contest 2016.

He has now come full circle and returned to Penang last year and calls this island home (again).

Since then, Loh has been exploring his home state with a revived passion, discovering new and interesting things to see and photograph, on land or from above.

(A 35m table laden with offerings during the Jade Emperor’s birthday celebration at the clan jetties in George Town, Penang)

Using a drone, he scours places that might hold interesting terrain, landmarks and features and he has not been disappointed with every deployment of the drone.

His aerial images will form a part of a curated collection of his work for an upcoming photography exhibition.

(A cruise ship at the Penang Port Cruise Terminal at dusk)

The ‘Over Penang Photography Exhibition’ is part of the George Town Festival 2018, will be held at the Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Hotel, Victory Annexe, 10 Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, Penang.

The exhibition runs from August 4 till Sept 2, 2018.

The homecoming exhibition is aimed at imparting a sense and fresh feel of how the city has changed, in tandem with the island maintaining its essence of combining heritage and progress .

Loh has been painstakingly and continuously documenting Penang Island as the island state tries to find a happy balance between progress and preservation.

(Mercurial lakes at Frog Hill, Tasek Gelugor, Seberang Prai, Penang)

“Penang,” Loh notes, “is such an amazing place where there seems to be non-stop events, activities, things to do, and places to go.

“If you are prepared to go out and look, you will never be bored in Penang.”

Welcome home, David Loh and keep “clicking” and continuing to share with us your amazing work of the Penang we all love!

(All images courtesy of David ST Loh)

Beauty Through Karyn’s Lenses

“Nama Saya: Karyn Leong, dari Melbourne, Australia. Boleh saya ambil foto anda?” (My name is Karyn Leong and I am from Melbourne, Australia. May I please take your photograph?)

This is the opening line that Karyn Coxall-Leong, the gentle visual artist, wife, mother, nurse, photographer and story teller uses when she pounds the streets of George Town and the rest of Malaysia snapping stunning and soul-stirring photographs.

“My life experience and understanding of people has given me an ability to view my subjects compassionately, which adds a unique and intimate dimension to my photography,” says the mother of two who is married to a Malaysian.

“With Malaysian friends and family, I have been most fortunate over many years to travel extensively throughout Malaysia, practicing my craft.

“I always make the time to visit Georgetown and Penang. I have a great affinity for the beauty of this island and its wonderful, generous people.

“From very humble beginnings in rural Australia, I have literally, come a long way,” says Karyn, whose compassionate demeanour is detected the minute she greets you with a warm hello.

And the compassion in her voice and support for women and all they do, tells me that you couldn’t end up with a more gifted intensive care unit nurse cum photographer!

When she is not at work at the hospital, Karyn spends her time in Melbourne capturing special moments in the lives of others ranging from weddings, birthdays, portraits, expecting parents, and baby photos.

Karyn is back in Penang and will showcase her work via ‘A Photographic Celebration of Mature Women in Penang’ @ 147 Lorong Kelawai, Penang.

Entry is via donation to the Women’s Centre for Change.

The exhibition opens on 29 July 2018 from 4pm-6pm.

From 30 July-5 August, viewing hours of the exhibition are from 11am-2pm.

(Karyn Coxall-Leong Portfolio 2018 Penang Life through the Lens Moor Art Space, Moorabool Library / 2017 Salvation Army Orphanage Portraits: Singapore / Portraits of Penang: Georgetown Festival / Artist In Residence Hotel Penaga, Penang Malaysia / Collaboration, Rise Up Exhibition, BMAC / 2016 Women of a Certain Age: Bacchus Marsh)

Her photography can be viewed at:

Pixoto: Karyn Leong

Instagram/Facebook: Karyn Leong Photography

(Images courtesy of Karyn Coxall-Leong)

It’s baaaaaaaack!!!

The annual George Town Festival (GTF) returns for its 9th consecutive round with an international and local slew of events from 4 Aug till until 2 Sept this year.

“George Town will be a hub of entertainment and excitement with both free and ticketed shows available to audiences,” a press statement issued today said.

As in previous editions of the annual fest, the Penang Government has appointed Joe Sidek Productions Sdn. Bhd. to oversee the curation and management of GTF.

The appointed contractor today also expressed its thanks to the state authorities, Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang, the Penang Development Corporation, Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang, Penang Global Tourism, and George Town World Heritage Incorporated for their continued support.

A ‘Call for Proposals’ for the fest which was initiated last October, has seen some 200 proposals both from Malaysia and abroad come in.

“We expect more will be forthcoming during this last week,” said festival director, Joe Sidek.

“In addition to online submissions, we have also been conducting ‘Proposal Clinics’ to encourage local creative individuals or groups to meet with us to help fine-tune their artistic ideas and to help them submit a proposal for the festival,” he added.