Kg Hakka Mantin Home Coming Festival


This was the third event organised by Rakan Mantin and the community to regenerate their over a century old historical and cultural landscape. It was the first time the villagers and friends had come together to celebrate their heritage through discovery walks, talks, music, local performances and delicious Hakka food.


Peter Tan and Wuan came to support and help with the transportation of the blind musicians invited to sign at the evening concert.


Using one of the homes in the village that belongs to the Chong family, the community came together to established an interpretive center for the villagers’ social and political meeting place.



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Autism, no barrier to communication

Ahmad A Khairuddin’s ‘ Cityscape’

A group of artists — all autistic — got together and held an exhibition recently to celebrate United Voice’s own building.

A self-advocacy society for people with learning disabilities in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, United Voice (UV) has been around since 1995.

After successfully raising more than RM1 million through various fund-raising events and donations, UV finally managed to purchase their own space this year.

The ground floor is their showroom and training centre where baking classes and craft making workshops are held while the first floor houses an art gallery.

It was in this gallery that the works of Nurul A. Rahman, Tan Seng Kit, Nadiah A. Jalil, Damiem Wong and Ahmad A. Khairuddin were shown.

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Heah Hock Heng’s Exit


Heah Hock Heng passed away on 20 October, 10 days short of his 64 birthday. I first met Heah, in the 80’s, when I just joined the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS). He needed volunteers to help do a painting job at the MNS field centre in Cameron Highlands.

Apart from working as a painter I also ended up cutting chillies and onions etc. in the kitchen. Heah was both the project manager as well as the chef at that time. He was already renown then for his work in the field .

My painting was not up to standard and neither was my cutting skills. But that was the beginning of my long friendship with Heah and later with his wife Cheong Ann and some friends from the MNS days.


Heah (standing in the far right) making sure that the lunch for the party was in order, 2007, at KLPac.

Two years ago, I asked Heah and his friends to help cook a lunch for 100 persons. This was a party for a mixed disability group of friends at the KLPac. It was to celebrate the exhibition of photographs of the disabled athletes, which I had done.

Heah was one person who was always willing to help, when he can, no matter what it may be. He also had a distinguished career as a project manager for forest and environment related projects in Malaysia.


Heah with all his friends helping out at the KLPac lunch for the disabled friends, 2007.

But most of all, Heah will be remembered as a chef, for feeding thousands of MUS members ‘5 start hotel food’ deep in the Malaysian mountains.

Heah’s funeral will be on Saturday 24 October, 2pm, Trinity Methodist Church, Petaling Jaya.

Art reflects life

MARCH 1 – This black-and-white photograph of an artificial right leg without the body is an unusual and intriguing sight.

How many of us have come across this uncommon situation in the mainstream of our normal daily life? Normally, it is usual to meet a person without one or both of their legs but never a leg without the other limb and the rest of the body. Whose leg is this and where is the body? What is it doing there? This is surreal.

Where did this incongruous image come from? This bizarre portrait of a single prosthetic right leg with its shoe on and in a pair of blue jeans, set in a men’s changing room, is now on show at the photographic exhibition “Empathy”.

This is the third collection of my photographs focusing on people with various disabilities going about doing sports and other activities and enjoying their life.

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Not easy to empathize

The ability to understand someone else’s feelings as if they were one’s own is not something we do easily and often. It is demanding and thankless. Perhaps that may explain why most of us are mainly concerned with the needs our own self and those of our immediate family. How others feel is hardly our interest. How about considering some empathy?

My exhibition of photos Empathy at KLPac closed on the 8 March. This third collection of images of people with disability doing their own thing in sports and in work, was on display for 7 weeks. During that time there were several write ups about the exhibition and one of the portraits of Siti Aishah made it to the front page of the Sunday People in the NST’s Sunday Times.

This media coverage of the disabled group gave all those people in this small and fragile community a much needed visual profile which they seldom get. The Star newspaper’s writer Tan Karr Wei also wrote about the portraitures with understanding.

Then there was Elaine Lau from the Option of the Edge who also gave a voice to this often voiceless fellow citizens. Ng Suzhen from the Malay Mail was the first to put this story in her CyberSpot page. The Chinese press too especially the writer Chee Nyuk Yan from Nanyang Siang Pau gave this group a center spread in their Sunday edition and this was followed by Sin Chew Daily‘s reporter Ten Yien Hsia’s news of the event. I was also invited to talk about the exhibition on TV3’s Malaysia Hari Ini morning magazine show.

After all the effort of first going out to get the cooperation of all my disabled friends to allow me to photograph them, and then to mount and promote the visibility of the subject to a larger public, it had dawn on me that this project of promoting a little more empathy for others, has been all a group effort by everyone who has been involved. This is also a note of thanks to all of you. Now I am beginning to understand.