100 memorable Malaysian Women - Part 5


  • Lifestyle
  • Tuesday, 08 Mar 2011

ASHA GILL

AGE: 38

ASHA became a household name with her stint as a Channel V veejay.

In her shows, she has interviewed celebrities like the Bee Gees, Lenny Kravitz, Britney Spears and Destiny’s Child. She has also co-emceed shows with Christina Aguilera and Kelis.

As the host of the Lonely Planet’s Six Degrees travel series, she won many fans with her warm, down-to-earth style. The Punjabi-English beauty has also appeared in ads, TV series, film and radio.

She was a Tag Hueur ambassador in 2005. What makes her stand out are her intelligence and unconventional streak of independence.

She not only writes, produces and directs, she is an outspoken women’s rights activist. Her involvement in the women’s rights movement goes back to her university days in England.

She has participated in many fund-raising and awareness campaigns and events, including the highly controversial 2002 Malaysian production of The Vagina Monologues.

In 2004 she became a spokesperson for Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign.

After a two-year hiatus to have her son, she now juggles single motherhood with part-time jobs as emcee, host and model.

KAVITA SIDHU

AGE: 39

This statuesque beauty is one of Malaysia’s most well-known personalities, and holds the distinction of being the first Malaysian beauty queen to win an international title, Miss Charm International 1990.

Kavita has also modelled for Jean-Louis Scherner in Paris annd Escada in Munich. She has been involved in numerous television and fi lm projects, including award-winning movies like Layar Lara, Mimpi Moon and the Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam fi lms.

In 2009, she modelled a RM100mil diamond- encrusted dress by Mouawad at the STYLO Fashion Grand Prix KL and launched her own clothing label last year.

MELINDA LOOI

AGE: 37

The three-time Designer of the Year award winner has dressed royalty as well as Hollywood celebrities such as Cameron Diaz, Britney Spears and Mena Suvari.

In the decade she has been in the business, she made waves with her so-called story-telling art pieces and her signature avant garde Gothic style which even quirky film director Tim Burton would love.

Looi has also successfully designed Muslim inspired collections and as well as bridal wear.

She continues to reinvent herself. Now married with three children, she has embarked on a challenging course of developing an ecofriendly cotton range of clothes.

LING TAN

AGE: 35

The country’s fi rst international supermodel was discovered by a Mandarin-speaking commercial director from New York, Danny Wolf, who convinced her to move to New York in November 1994.

In the Big Apple, Ling landed her fi rst runway job with fellow Malaysian, designer Zang Toi. Ling has since broken stereotypes.

At a time when Caucasian models dominated the runways and editorial pages, she was able to land top advertising campaigns for big labels like Armani, Prescriptives, Guess, Wolford, Daryl K, Bruno Magli, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Banana Republic to name a few.

She’s walked the catwalks of top couture houses such as Zang Toi and Givenchy and is still much sought after.

DATUK TOM ABANG SAUFI

AGE: 55

Best known for successfully marrying the country’s rich heritage with contemporary design . Her distinctive creations are often in fl owing silhouettes, vivid colours and vibrant prints.

She has amassed numerous awards such as Designer Of The Year award at the Malaysian International Fashion Awards in 2004, the Stylo Classic Award at the fi rst Stylo KL Fashion Festival in 2008 and the Fashion Tribute to 1Malaysia Best Adaptation award at the Stylo Mercedez Benz Fashion Gala last April.

DATUK SARIMAH AHMAD

AGE: 69

She made her acting debut in classic Malay movie Ali Baba Bujang Lapuk in 1960 and went on to be the glamorous and popular star of Malay classics of the 1960s and 1970s including Ibu Mertuaku and Madu Tiga. Sarimah has enjoyed a long movie career and later film credits include Tiada Esok Bagimu (1979), Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan (1983) and Tarik-Tarik (1993).

DATIN SERI DR WAN AZIZAH WAN ISMAIL

AGE: 58

She was the shy doctor-wife of a charismatic politician, who was happy to stay in the background. All that changed for Dr Wan Azizah when her husband, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister on Sept 2, 1998, and she was thrust into the limelight.

Following his dismissal, Anwar launched a people’s reform movement in September 1998. After his arrest, Dr Wan Azizah continue her husband’s reformation movement.

On April 4, 1999, she was elected as Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) fi rst president. In the 1999 general election, she led the party to win fi ve seats in Parliament and was elected MP for Permatang Pauh (a seat formerly held by Anwar). She successfully retained her seat in the 2004 and 2008 elections.

On July 31, 2008, she resigned from her seat to make way for her husband’s return to Parliament.

Despite her lack of experience and barbs that she was a mere puppet, Dr Wan Azizah won public admiration for maintaining her grace and dignity under very trying circumstances.

WAN ZALEHA RADZI

AGE: 47

In 1985, when TV3 started broadcasting news, a fresh-faced broadcast journalist made her debut alongside Mahathir Lokman and captured the hearts of Malaysians for many years after that. Wan Zaleha Radzi’s combination of beauty and intelligence is well-remembered to this day.

She is currently doing what she loves best: riding and organising equestrian events in Kuala Lumpur. An accomplished equestrian herself, she had been in competitive sports since she was 15.

Under her company Asiapromote Ventures Sdn Bhd, she and her husband, Peter Imran Winton, has brought the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) Five-Star KL Grand Prix to Malaysia since 2003. Malaysia is the first Asian nation to stage the world’s highest-rated horse show-jumping event.

She wants to get the Malaysian public excited about the sport and also promote it as a Malaysian event for equestrians and horse enthusiasts as well.

UJI RASHID

AGE: 50s

This singer and actress was the nation’s darling in the 1970s and 80s. She has recorded more than 15 albums with hits like Semakin Hari Semakin Sayang, Mengapa Derita Yang Di Cari and Rindu Ku Semakin Mendalam.

A talented actress, she was in over 100 dramas for TV and the theatre. Her debut film,Permintaan Terakhir (1974) was signed under Shaw Brothers Hong Kong.

In her heyday, Uji travelled extensively with the Malaysian Tourism Department as an ambassador of Malaysian arts and culture.

She was the presenter for TV3’s Muzik Muzik programme in 1985 and was awarded the Anugerah Bintang Popular award by Berita Harian for her outstanding achievements in the business in 1994.

AMBER CHIA

AGE: 30

She has been modelling since she was 18 but she shot to fame at 22 after being chosen as one of two Guess ambassadors by Paul Marciano, creative director of Guess in 2004.

Since then Chia has been one of the country’s most sought-after models, known for her “bee-stung lips” and for her professional attitude during shoots. She has graced the covers of several local and foreign magazines.

Chia has also begun acting and has appeared in several Chinese movies such as The 3rd Generation, Possessed, and Trio & a Bed.

The business-savvy Chia, who recently became a wife and mother, has embarked on a new career direction by setting up the Amber Chia Academy to train and groom young models.

CANNY ONG

AGE: 28 (DIED JUNE 13, 2003)

Canny Ong will always be remembered as the woman who was at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

On June 13, 2003 at about 10.45pm after having dinner with relatives and friends at Bangsar Shopping Complex, Kuala Lumpur, Ong went alone to the car park to retrieve her mother’s car. It was her farewell dinner as she was due to fly home to San Diego, United States, where she lived with her American husband.

When Ong did not return, her mother alerted security. Close-circuit cameras in the car park showed the Proton Tiara driven by her, crashing through the parking boom.

The heart-wrenching news of her abduction was played out in the media over the next few days, with a series of alleged sightings of her.

On June 18, 2003, her charred body, with hands bound and neck showing signs of strangulation, was found in a culvert in Jalan Klang Lama, Her car was discovered 3km away.

Three days later, Ahmad Najib Aris, a 27-year-old aircraft cleaning supervisor, was arrested and he confessed. In February 2005, the Shah Alam High Court sentenced him to death for murder and a further 20 years jail for raping Ong.

Sadly, it took the death of a young and beautiful IT analyst to bring about greater security measure in car parks in shopping centres and malls.

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