Monthly get-togethers for PJ folk

The Star, Star Metro, September 9, 2003
Story by Chin Mui Yun

PETALING Jaya residents will have the chance to gather monthly over informal tea parties just to share their lives as PJ neighbours.

Petaling Jaya Municipal Councillor and Kampung Tunku assemblyman Dr Wong Sai Hou hosted the first such gathering recently at Kelab Petaling Jaya in conjunction with PJ’s 50th anniversary.

“What can be better than to narrate our experiences and stories of living in PJ over a casual cup of tea at these kopitiam parties?” said Dr Wong.

“Fostering relationships enhances ties between neighbourhoods. Many of us do not even know who our immediate neighbours are, much less those living in other housing estates. During these meetings we can just get to know one another or have food or a game of darts or ping-pong.

“Kelab Petaling Jaya is an ideal venue, as it was the first club built in PJ under PKNS in 1971. PJ District Officer Zoal Azha Yusof is also the club president. It offers affordable membership and good food.

“Monthly gatherings here for PJ residents will foster neighbourliness, which to me is a form of sustainable development,” said Dr Wong.

There was much reminiscing among the special guests at the recent party of PJ folks who had lived there when the town was still hills of forests and rubber plantations 50 years ago. Some of the guests had shared their stories and memories through Star Metro’s special series running up to the anniversary on Sept 5.

Among them was Annie Chew who built a reputation for PJ landmark Madeleine Kindergarten in Jalan Othman. The kindergarten started in 1955, which makes it possibly the oldest kindergarten in PJ. Chew bought over the kindergarten in 1959, and since then it has educated moe than 12,000 children.

“I’m glad to attend this gathering although future ones may be difficult for me,” said the sprightly 81-year-old Chew, who came with her son Jeffrey, now the kindergarten’s director.

“So much has changed in PJ, some for the better. Facilities have improved tremendously and are now at our doorstep, such as clinics.”

Another guest was Robert Beh, who was also featured in Star Metro.

“I would love the chance for get-togethers, as we would be able discuss ideas and problems together. Most of us don’t even know our neighbours so this is a good opportunity to do so,” he said.

Assunta Girls Secondary School founder Sister Enda Ryan was also present with a group of nuns and staff from Assunta Hospital .

Ryan sailed to then Malaya in January 1955 when she was just 25 years old, under the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Her mission was to help start a school for young girls who did not have a chance to get an education due to the Communist Insurgency.

“We started in a small bungalow near the current Assunta Hospital , where we had about 40 pupils. Then there were no proper roads, just a lot of red dirt lanes and barren land. It was thrilling to see a town growing!” said Ryan, 74.

“One of the happiest moments of my life spent living in PJ was, ironically, my retirement in May 1989, when I was sent off from Assunta Secondary School in a horse and carriage accompanied by a bagpipe band.

“I lived to see the seeds I sowed decades ago bloom into beautiful young ladies graduating from the school and who have since sent their own children to the same school.

“This brings a great deal of fulfilment to all the years I’ve lived in PJ,” she added.

Pix: (From left) Sarasiah Ahmad, 75, G. Chondra Bose, 55, Syed Ahmad Syed Othman, 56 and Chew at the gathering.

Notes: STF – : Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) councillor and Kampung Tunku assemblyman Dr Wong Sai Hou hosted a gathering for some pioneer residents in the municipality at Kelab Petaling Jaya on Friday in conjunction with PJ’s 50th anniversary. The Star Metro team who attended the event interviewed some of the guests there for their insights into this historical milestone for the nation’s first satellite town

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