KUALA LUMPUR: Journalist June HL Wong has always enjoyed compiling her work.
It started in 1977 after she got her first byline in The Star. Wong would compile all her published pieces together in a simple notebook. Over four decades later, Wong’s writing is still being compiled.
This time, however, it’s in a printed book, with a beautiful photograph on the cover. Titled So Aunty, So What? And Some More, the book is published by Star Media Group (SMG) and sold in bookstores nationwide.
“I feel a tremendous sense of pride and gratitude to my one and only employer, The Star. And this is to me The Star’s farewell gift as I retire at the end of the month. This book reminds me of how far I’ve come,” Wong said during the book's launch on Friday (June 7).
The event was held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre as a part of BookFest@Malaysia, Malaysia’s largest trilingual book exposition that is organised annually by the Popular Book Co Sdn Bhd.
Wong, 59, is SMG's chief special projects officer. She first joined The Star in the 1970s and rose up the ranks from cadet reporter to group chief editor.
She is perhaps most popularly known for her column, So Aunty, So What?, which first appeared on March 1, 2012, and still appears fortnightly in The Star. Wong’s book collects many of her published pieces from 2012 to 2018.
Her works, written in her matter-of-fact and usually humorous style, cover many issues, from politics and entertainment to travel and family.
“Once I get curious or excited about something, I want to find out all about it. And if I think it’s worthwhile to share, I can, thanks to my column.
"I find it so satisfying when readers tell me they enjoy my articles and they found something new too,” said Wong.
Also included in the book are other stories Wong has written over her career. This includes heartwarming stories from Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Ali’s first ever inclusive interview with any journalist.
Also included is a section called Tales from the Grave, which Wong says were the most personal stories she had ever written for The Star.
The stories recount Wong’s experience covering the exhumation and re-location of graves in Singapore’s Bidadari Christian Cemetery, where some of her relatives were buried.
The book ends with a section dedicated to Wong’s father, who Wong said, was the most popular subject of her column.
“Dad was the biggest influence in my life. He was my anchor, my rock. My little talent from writing comes from him,” Wong recalled.
Present to launch Wong’s book at the KLCC was former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam, who has known Wong for many years.
Musa spoke about the importance of celebrating press freedom, and also commended Wong for her writing.
“I am very delighted to be given the honour to launch this book. I have been following the articles since the time they have been published, and always encourage my wife and kids to read them.
"They are very interesting articles, very human, very real and very relevant to our daily life. It’s not easy these days to get articles in the mass media written in that way,” Musa said.
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