Datin Maylene Yong is more than just a social butterfly among the country’s elite, she is known more as the charity queen due to her lifelong dedication to helping the needy. She uses her connections to organize fundraisers around Malaysia but took some time to share her love of giving and what she does during her free time with us.
You are known as a person that loves to give back to charity, having been doing it for almost all your life. Where does that come from?
I think I am born with it. Also, the way my parents brought me up plays a part as they have always been kind to people. I went to a convent school as well where we were brought up by nuns, next to orphanages. I have always had a soft spot for people in hardship and underprivileged children. I pray to God that if He permits, I would have the time to give back to these underprivileged people.
When did you start doing charity work?
So, I started in school doing charity and fun fairs, of course on a small scale. I began to do big scale charity work after I got married in 1980 when I came to KL and joined the Sharing & Caring Choir where we raised money for TAR College. From there, time does fly. It has been 40 years already that I have been giving back to the society. I don’t realize how long it’s been because I find giving such a beautiful feeling whereby I get such satisfaction and joy. I do not care what I give, even if it’s the last plate in my fridge.
What have you gained from doing charity work for all these years?
When I do things like giving back, it’s not for any purpose. I won’t ask for anything in return and I don’t expect anything in return. God has been very kind to me. He has opened the door for me to create Glitterama and 2 years ago, He allowed me to form Styleicon Prestige. I noticed that these two groups link back to giving.
You’ve done charity work for various organizations, what kind of team or company that you collaborate with to produce these charity events?
I started with 2 solo concerts on my own, the first in 2002 and the second in 2006. It raised a lot through word of mouth where the people know that 100% goes to charity. I don’t take any cut because I go through proper channels and use NGOs like Yayasan Nanyang or The Star to collect all the money. Then I started doing it with Glitterama in 2011.
You also do singing. Have you always known that you had the talent?
I discovered I could sing when I won the Talent Time in standard 6 but I didn’t know I would go that far. After that, I dropped it and continued with my studies. Now I just sing for charity.
You are involved in pageants as an ambassador and judge. How did you enter that line?
Well in 1973, I was Miss Charming in during the Penang Festival where my cousin submitted my name. Then after I got married, one of the organizers from Singapore contacted me and offered me to be the ambassador for Mrs Malaysia Universe 2011.
How did Styleicon Prestige come about?
One of my sisters suggested it, she is the brainchild behind it. She said since I’m a fashion icon, why don’t I set up a group and help them in grooming and styling? We started with 60 members and after 2 years, we have 250 members.
Besides organizing and fundraising, what do you like to do when you have free time?
To be honest, I hardly have time for myself. All the shopping trips and high tea gatherings, all of this I can forego just for the sake of charity. But I’ll always be there for my Styleicon Prestige babes whenever they need me. I’m grateful that I have an understanding husband and family that give me their blessing and support for so many years.
What kind of traveller are you?
At this age, I like to see places and enjoy my surroundings with a cup of coffee. No more shopping. Last time, when I go to Europe, I remember going with 3 bags and came back with 11 bags. Those were the days.
Where are your favourite places to visit?
Every year I go to Hong Kong for Christmas and I’ll bring my family. But my most favourite place is Austria. I like serene and beautiful places where I can get a piece of mind and relax.
Venue: Suzie Wong, Kuala Lumpur [Website]