Lifestyle Lifestyle en Match made in heaven
THEY say weddings are affairs of the couple who are the stars of the day, but we must not forget that weddings also bring together two families – and with that, not only does the couple need to adorn themselves with jewellery, but family members as well.

With 40 years of experience in Malaysia, Poh Kong is the largest jewellery retail chain store, making it the top of mind brand when thinking of jewellery. Its years of experience also contributes to its understanding of customer demand, while making it a trustable and stable brand.

"We have various wedding-related products under one roof from engagement rings, wedding bands to bridal jewellery as well as items for your parents, siblings and friends," said Poh Kong Holdings Berhad marketing manager Elizabeth Choon.

"We cater to a wide range of budgets from affordable to high-end. We also have our own house brands which means we can control everything from material, design, quality to friendly pricing. We also offer exclusive designs that are specifically suited to Malaysians," she added.

When it comes to choosing their desired wedding rings, most people base it on their personality and style. Some look for simple, classic designs while some look for sophisticated designs that are bolder. Some may find rose gold special, while others may think a mix of yellow and white gold is interesting.

Poh Kong produces designs for all races and cultures by introducing different collections. For example, the Happy Love collection combines traditional and modern styles with oriental design. Another collection named Anggun is specially catered to Malay weddings which require the hantaran. It features local flowers such as hibiscus, jasmine, orchid and allamanda.

"We continuously launch new designs, at least once a year. Sometimes, we come up with interesting pieces such a heart-shaped hair pin adorned with the dragon and phoenix motif. Charms have also become popular so we launched a bracelet with charms," Choon said.

But the crème de la crème is the brand's Hemera engagement rings. Hemera translates to "goddess of daylight" in Greek and just as its name, it is the most brilliant diamond in the world.

"We have been researching the market and think there are no outstanding diamonds. Everyone has been generically branding their diamonds; there is no real differentiation. We see the market gap for a breakthrough diamond and after two years of research with Belgium cutters, they found they can cut a 101-cut diamond which we branded as Hemera," Choon said.

"It doesn't mean if you have 102 cuts you are superior. You have to bring out the diamond's performance, and when we tested generic diamonds to Hemera diamonds, the former produces medium sparkle while Hemera has almost the highest sparkle.

"We hope when someone wants to get a proposal ring they will think of Hemera, which is exclusive to Poh Kong."

Jewellery care:

» Jewellery is damaged when in touch with mercury, and mercury is easily found in perfumes. It is advisable to put on your perfume first and your jewellery last.

» Store each piece separately because a diamond ring might scratch another piece of jewellery. Also, pearls cannot be stored under harsh conditions as they are something organic.

» Do not wear jewellery while doing intensive sports or housework. You may think gold is a tough material but when it is made into jewellery, it is quite fragile.

» If you care to bring it back to its original shine, it is advisable to bring it back to the shop to be cleaned and polished.]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:46:58 +0000 Yee Jie Min 441804 at
The true cost of convenience
With a plethora of DIY projects and independent specialists at a click away, the tables have turned on conventional bridal houses, as they are increasingly an alternative for brides- and grooms-to-be. And perhaps, for many good reasons.


First thing first, visiting the bridal fair is no different from diving into a shark tank. Specifically, if you stroll into the base camp of bridal houses off guard and unsure of what you want.

Apart from yours truly, three other individuals/couples in this article were cornered into buying a pre-wedding photo shoot package at the bridal fair. These packages, which typically encompass an extensive variety of products and services, offer an undeniable convenience for couples, and that would have made a great enough pitch.

But playing on the naivety of first- and one-time customers, and telling them that their choices for their wedding are misguided is out of the line. All of us were pressured into making a purchase there and then because "it's a fair-exclusive rate" or "if you walk out now, you'll miss this offer".

Fortunately for PR and communications manager Nicole Yeoh, she visited the fair knowing that she wanted a simple wedding. She walked out unscathed, but with a "negative experience" to share.

"They were very aggressive, even if you're just walking past their booths. They prey on your insecurities and keep forcing you to add all kinds of unnecessary items. One stared at me in horror when I said I don't want pre-wedding shoots," recalled Yeoh, who resorted to hiring independent vendors.


For the rest of us who walked right into the trap, it was only the beginning of a series of rude awakenings. In the follow-up visits to our respective bridal houses, we helplessly watched the latter's scrupulously schemed methods unfold.

Newly-weds Melanie Yan, 28, and Chin Wai Hong, 30, ended up paying more than they bargained for.

"At the fair, we were shown plenty of gowns in the albums. But we discovered at the shop that all the gowns are so badly maintained, that for our wedding day, I rented gowns from elsewhere while Wai Hong wore his own suits.

"Everything in the premium category incurs extra charges; same goes to additional photos," warned Yan.

Opting for better gown designs and workmanship could cost anywhere between RM500 and RM1,500, while additional photographs could go for over RM100 per piece!

Of course, clients reserve the right to not accept premium or additional offers. However bear in mind that these packages are designed to appear like they promise you the world, but in actuality, are really mediocre at best – leaving you little choice but to fork out more money.

Besides finding "dirty-looking" dresses which the bridal house insisted to be "cream-coloured", bride-to-be Leong Mei Seong, 28, reported receiving low quality frames for the photos she took with her fiancé.

"There are also hidden costs for products used during the make-up session, such as the ampoules of serum, faux eyelashes, and make-up sponge, which weren't stated in the package," Leong added.

And you can count on these businesses to leverage on the fact that weddings are a once-in-a-lifetime event, to make the top-up happen.


If you and your partner have a preferred style for your photographs, a bridal house's pre-wedding shoot package probably wouldn't cut it as the overall look and concept tend to be run-off-the-mill, despite the grandeur.

For this reason, Queenie Sun, 27, sourced another freelance photographer to materialise the pre-wedding photos according to her taste.

"My two cents (on bridal houses): overpriced mass product with no originality. I found better deals elsewhere after engaging one, and because we couldn't refund the money, I had them shoot my actual wedding day instead," Sun lamented.

Noticing the template trend early, a bride-to-be (who wants to remain anonymous) expressed her choice to steer clear of bridal houses.

"I've been seeing photos of the same locations and backgrounds, poses and outfits, save for the couples in them. That's why I'm not going to engage one for myself," said the account manager, who's tying the knot next year.

Having said that, not getting things the way you want them doesn't mean that the photographs will turn out awful. My partner and I had a blast at the photo shoot, which was professionally executed, while Yan and Chin were pleasantly surprised by their pre-wedding snaps – although the couple still favours the casual engagement shoot they did with an independent photographer.

Sure, there won't be a lot of room for artistic freedom, since the photography team is accustomed to their own approaches. But you can give the bridal house a heads-up of your ideas, if you happen to have signed a package. We did and managed to squeeze in as many personal touches as we could.

Whatever your stance at this juncture, I hope to share a key takeaway from our collective experiences: remember that you always have a choice, even if anyone tries to convince you otherwise. With the technological resources we have at our fingertips, claim your freedom to explore your options. And most importantly, enjoy the process!]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:46:36 +0000 Rachel Law 441798 at
Book review - Small Great Things
Being a racist is not only about hating people of a different colour. Picoult lays it out as clear as day in this story of a black nurse accused of murdering an infant because his parents are white supremacists.

Ruth Jefferson is a labour and delivery nurse, has been for over 20 years. She's good at her job but a routine checkup on a newborn ends in her being reassigned (that's putting it mildly). The parents
don't want Ruth touching their child, because she is black.

The next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress when Ruth is alone in the nursery. The baby dies, and Ruth ends up being charged with murder.

White public defender Kennedy McQuarrie takes her case, but the race barrier works its mischief and both Ruth and Kennedy are forced to take a good look at themselves and the people around them.

Kennedy has plenty of clients who are black, but Ruth, whose suppressed emotions regarding the treatment of her race, makes things both difficult and clarifying for her.

The story is written from the point of view of a black nurse, a skinhead father, and a white public defender who has never considered herself to be a racist.

With three different view points in the book, you get to be more understanding of the circumstances and it makes for a balanced read.

Insightful and educational.]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 26 Apr 2017 07:43:07 +0000 K.K. Wong 441675 at
At your service
One aspect that can help drive revenue and ­profitability is excellent ­customer service.

Recently, Sunway Group Retail Division grouped its five shopping malls under one banner – Sunway Malls – as the first step towards offering consistent service.

Sunway Malls chief executive officer H.C. Chan explained: "It's about delivering customer service that touches people's heart because the mall is a public place.

"We have over three billion people coming through our doorstep every month, so it's important for us."

That was one of the reasons Sunway Malls recently brought in Ron Kaufman, a world-leading e­xpert in customer service, to impart his views on how to uplift the customer service segment in the retail industry.

Kaufman said that Sunway Malls' situation is somewhat similar to Singapore's Changi Airport – with thousands of people working under one roof, but only a small percentage actually working for the mall itself.

He added: "[Changi Airport] literally created a culture that's so strong that no matter who your actual ­employer is, you feel like you're part of the Changi Airport culture.

"And that's the challenge for a shopping mall: because I may work for Starbucks, but my customer is also the customer of the food court, who is also the customer of the security guard, [and so on]."

But how to change the mindset of so many employees and get them to work towards one similar goal despite coming from various departments?

Kaufman said it is just like building a physical mall; it begins with setting a ­foundation, which interestingly enough, is not customer service training.

"The foundation is c­reating an ­understanding and an ­appetite in every single ­person for what we refer to as ­continuous service i­mprovement," he explained.

"So it's not just training you to do the right thing, but also to make sure you did it right.

"It's not about standards, scripts and procedure – it's ­creating a mood, appetite, desire, and skill set so that the people who come to work at Sunway Malls have the desire to make the ­experience better and better."

Continuing with his building metaphor, Kaufman ­said the next building blocks include recruiting the right people, ­having the right kind of employee ­recognition, ­letting employees know what ­customers are ­thinking and ­appreciating, and ­having a good ­recovery, policy, and procedure in case something goes wrong.

Finally, for the roof of the ­'building', Kaufman names ­service ­leadership, which consists of the right ­behaviour from all the supervisors, ­managers, shift leaders and directors to ­really act as role ­models, ­leading the ­organisation in the correct direction.

Kaufman added that an ­organisation's level of service is constantly ­changing, ­because there exists competitors also working to raise their game.

"Excellence is taking the next step up to create more value for someone else," Kaufman said, explaining that the most ideal level of service to strive for is 'excellence'.

There are six levels of customer service quality, from worst to best – criminal, basic, ­expected, desired, surprising, and ­unbelievable.

Kaufman added that '­excellence' is not listed as a criterion in those six categories, mainly because it is a moving target, which means constantly adapting to meet industry standards.

Meanwhile, Chan said the ­current state of customer service at Sunway Malls is at industry level, but it still has room for growth.

"The customer service in Malaysia is good but there's still lots of room for improvement," he added.

"We've got good smiles, and English is widely spoken and we should use this to our advantage."]]>
Lifestyle Tue, 25 Apr 2017 13:12:59 +0000 Denissa Goh 441519 at
A cycle of fortune
For example, "when I met this gorgeous woman, I couldn't believe my luck" is essentially the western concept of luck.

The Chinese, on the other hand, do not see luck as a chance happening but rather as a cycle that can be predicted.

For example, a Chinese astrologer may predict, after reading your life chart, that between the ages of 33 to 38, you will enjoy good career luck that will likely result in a promotion.

Or that between the ages of 42 to 44, you will have poor spousal luck and there will be a strain in your relationship which may result in a separation or divorce.

While the destiny portion of the chart shows the potential, it is the luck portion of the chart that gives the timing.

For example, your chart may suggest strong career potential, however, it does not tell you when this will happen. The luck portion of the chart does that.

Most Chinese astrology systems divide luck into cycles of 10 years, also known as the 'decade luck', or 'big luck'. These decade cycles are then further divided individually into 'annual luck', or 'small luck' years.

These decade luck cycles do not necessarily start from the day we are born. For example, a certain individual first decade luck cycle may be from two to 11 years old while another may be from five to 14.

Subsequent cycles are of 10 years each. In the case of the period with luck cycle two to 11, his subsequent cycles will be 12 to 21, 22 to 31, 32 to 41, 42 to 51, and so on.

In some cases, the luck may be mixed. For example, the first four years may be great, followed by six years of less-than-stellar career luck.

While the decade luck cycle tells you about the condition of your luck over a 10-year period, your annual luck gives you an insight into the state of your luck in any particular year.

Like the decade luck, you can 'see' your luck in the area of career, wealth, relationships, health, and travel in any year. With the same chart, it is technically possible to 'see' your luck by the month (Chinese month), by the day and by the hour of the day. In practice, most of us stop at the year or month.

There are two types of luck events. One is called a 'set' event, and these will happen no matter what. The other is called a 'likely' event and these will happen if we allow it.

Let me give you an example of a 'likely' event. Suppose your chart shows a potential spousal relationship issue this year. However, you love your spouse very much and you make every effort to retain this relationship. You may very well get through this year without an issue.

Even for a 'set' event that is bound to happen, you can still have some say over the intensity.

For example, if your chart indicates a health issue involving your heart in 12 years' time, by starting a healthy lifestyle now, you are likely to survive the life-threatening event, perhaps with just a mild problem.

While it is possible in theory to predict one's luck by month, by day, and by the hour, in practice, I do not go down to such fine details, firstly because it gets more difficult, and secondly, I find the readings to become less reliable.

Henry Fong is an electronic engineer by qualification and he approaches feng shui with the same analytical and investigative approach he uses in his training. Readers can write to him at]]>
Lifestyle Thu, 20 Apr 2017 11:51:46 +0000 theSundaily 440424 at
Book review - Lyrebird
When Bo, a documentary ­producer, finds a young woman deep in the woods of southwest Ireland who possesses this ­extraordinary gift, she knows she has the makings of another award-winning documentary.

But Laura has lived alone for years, ­secluded from the world.

It is a scary experience being pulled from her peaceful sanctuary into the ­cacophony of city life and people all eager to know what makes her tick.

At least she has Solomon, Bo’s sound engineer and boyfriend, who is the only one she trusts.

The only problem is, Bo has no idea of Solomon and Laura's growing feelings for each other.

Lyrebird is an ­enchanting read. It is all at once intricate, emotionally moving and absolutely ­touching.

It’s fast paced, and brimming with ­discoveries of self and others, and thought-provoking enough that perhaps readers might learn a thing or two about the values of life.

This is one book that you would not want to put down until the end.]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 19 Apr 2017 13:03:57 +0000 K.K. Wong 440215 at
Book Review - The Hate U Give
Starr is a bright teenager, who is also the only black girl in a suburban private school. She still keeps close contact with her childhood friends, all of whom live in rough neighbourhoods.

One night, Starr is being driven home by her friend Khalil, when a simple traffic stop ends with him being shot by a police officer.

From that moment, Starr's life begins to change. As the only witness to what happened that night, she must decide whether or not to come forward to tell the truth.

The situation also begins to get complicated fast, as the police, local drug dealers and human rights protestors begin to close in on the neighbourhood. Starr is also facing some added pressure from her schoolmates, as the mostly privileged, white group just cannot relate to her experiences as a young black woman.

I enjoyed the many different twists the story goes through, and how Thomas manages to depict the harsh realities that face the black community in the US, as well as making us question how we would act in such dire situations.]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 19 Apr 2017 12:01:56 +0000 Anansa Jacob 440188 at
Doing the Aqua Run at Sunway Lagoon
The Aqua Run is a 2km fun run around the theme park – home of ­several thrilling water rides, including the ­Vuvuzela which is Malaysia’s largest water ride, as well as Malaysia’s ­largest man-made sandy Surf Beach.

The run will feature six ­exhilarating fun zones – Rain Shower, Splash ­Attack, Puddle Mattress, Climb & Slide, Wall Diving, and Water Disco Hut – with plenty of excitement in store for participants at each of these zones.

The run will end with a grand Bubble Music ­Celebration at the Surf Beach.

Sunway Lagoon’s Aqua Run package is priced at RM120, and includes the entrance fee to the fun run, as well as same-day ­admission to all Sunway Lagoon parks.

Participants will also get a goodie bag which contains a race T-shirt and a waterproof pouch for their handphone before the race.

Successful finishers will receive a medal at the finish line.

For more, visit the Sunway Lagoon website (www./]]>
Lifestyle Tue, 18 Apr 2017 10:16:34 +0000 theSundaily 439915 at
Satisfaction guaranteed
However, with premium draught stout Connor’s Stout Porter by Carlsberg Malaysia, its promise of an experience of a taste that’s ‘Just Made Right’ comes with an assurance, as the brand offers the Connor’s Challenge at participating outlets from now till April 30.

The challenge promises satisfaction guaranteed – if customers don’t enjoy their Connor’s Stout, they can claim for a refund. This offer is valid for one claim only (terms and conditions applied).

Essentially, it is like a money-back guarantee on your first full pint or half pint of Connor’s Stout Porter.

“Connor’s Stout Porter’s double-digit growth last year tells us that stout fans love it!” said Carlsberg Malaysia marketing director Charles Wong.

“Our tagline, ‘Just Made Right’ embodies the essence of the brew – no big drama on brewing, [and] just the right ingredients. The Connor’s Challenge is set to showcase the brand’s promise of satisfaction guaranteed from a refreshing pint.”

Wong added that Connor’s Stout Porter is not only about larger-than-life exhilaration, but also candid interactions and everyday fun moments.

He said: “Inspired by the original British Stout Porter recipe from the 1700s, Connor’s Stout Porter was carefully concocted to deliver its crisp texture, and gentle roast-y undertones with a unique balance that’s not too rich or too bitter. Topped with a creamy head, it’ll take you straight to stout heaven.

“It’s a brew made with our drinkers in mind – balanced taste [and] flavourful aroma, making it satisfying and easy to drink.”

During the promotion, customers can also win themselves a limited edition T-shirt by taking a selfie with one of Connor’s brand ambassadors, and nominating your friends on social media.

For more, visit ]]>
Lifestyle Tue, 18 Apr 2017 10:29:15 +0000 theSundaily 439906 at
Book Review - A Sticky Note Guide To Life
So essentially, you have a book filled with his witty views written on yellow notes, and also an in-depth explanation of his ­message given at the ­bottom.

Some notes speak for themselves even without these explanations, but ­others really do need them.

While the concept is ­novel and some of the ­methods he uses to ­deliver the ­humour (the pie charts are the best) are ­really ­effective, it gets a bit ­repetitive after a while.

Basically these notes cover Hutton’s personal ­observations about himself and life in general – ­covering common themes such as life, family, dogs, dating, getting coffee, fighting gorillas, and more.

If you want to enjoy some light reading and light ­humour, then this book is for you.]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 05 Apr 2017 14:30:49 +0000 S. Indra Sathiabalan 437564 at