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Tech keeps bonds strong [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
[January 26, 2014]

Tech keeps bonds strong [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]

(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Four TV personalities tell Rozana Sani how they are using social media platforms and apps as they ride into the Year of the Horse.

DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH MELISSA EFFICIENT, thorough and on top of her game seem to describe Melissa Ong to a tee. Celebrating her sixth year at ntv7 next month, this award-winning broadcast journalist spends her days covering a wide range of issues locally and abroad, as well as anchoring Edisi 7 - the station's Malay News programme.

Armed with an iPhone, an iPad and a power bank, Melissa has all the equipment she needs on the job with constant access to the Internet for communication and looking up references for her reports. When not at work, Melissa will be busy on her iPhone updating her Facebook and Instagram accounts.

"I am a family-oriented person," says the 31-year-old who lists upholding human rights, the environment and healthcare among her passion. " The pictures I post on Instagram (@melissa_pollena), for example, reflect my values. I want the pictures, even my selfies, to portray the positive." For personal communication, it is FaceTime and Whatsapp for Melissa. With her lack of free time and what with friends and family scattered all over the globe, technology is the best medium for her to stay in touch with them.

"My mum has nine siblings and during my childhood, we would return to her hometown in Kluang, Johor for Chinese New Year. It would be chaotic, in a good way. My grandparents ran a 50-room hotel and they would close off two floors for us. So, we children would be busy playing and everybody would be talking a mile a minute. Now it is quieter," she says wistfully.

Melissa's grandfather has since passed on and some family members, she says, have migrated to Australia. Many of her cousins are studying overseas. "So, we get to 'talk' to each other in Whatsapp chat groups or Facetime. Nothing beats face-to-face communication though." This year, like in past years, Melissa is making a point to take several days off for Chinese New Year to drive down to Kluang with her parents and brother to be with her grandmother, who is in her 80s.

" My grandmother just celebrated her birthday recently. I cherish the moments I can spend with her. We'll enjoy each other's company - eating and catching up. It will be the time of the year when I can forget deadlines and just sit back and relax." And, of course, Melissa is planning some FaceTime too.

"We'll be speaking with those who can't make it home. That will make grandma happy." NEW BLISS FOR AI LENG DRESSED in a hot red number, Ong Ai Leng is a picture of sophistication, with a touch of boldness - reflective of her personality, background, skills and talent.

Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Ai Leng studied business with a major in commerce. But she decided to put her musical talents and good looks to good use, and pursued modelling instead. Clearly, it was the right move for she soon became a favourite choice with big brands like Nivea, Marie France and L'Oreal Hair Colour.

Ai Leng made her acting debut in Malaysia in 2002 before moving to Singapore. She has acted in both English and Chinese language dramas and in Singapore-Malaysia co-productions. She has also collaborated with fellow MediaCorp artistes in opening a chain of Taiwanese snack shops across Singapore and Malaysia called Xiao Bar Wang.

Having been away in Singapore for quite a while, Ai Leng shifted her base to Kuala Lumpur two years ago.

"Wherever I am, I cannot be without my gadgets," says the eldest of six siblings. The 35-year-old has an iPhone, iPad and a camera. She has Facebook and WeChat accounts, but she is especially fond of Instagram as she projects her take on fashion there.

"I never post anything emotional... it is positive vibes that I give. I like to experiment with looks, and I want to share my passion, Age does not determine what someone wears. Age doesn't mean letting your sense of style go," she says.

On a different note, her mobile devices are crucial to keeping in touch with her close-knit family.

"We are all on Whatsapp and we have our own chat group to discuss all things related to the family. And for Chinese New Year, we all try our hardest to be at home with our parents and grandmother on the eve," she says.

Last year, unfortunately, her youngest brother couldn't make it home because he was studying in the UK and Chinese New Year coincided with his exams.

"But he was at the dinner, virtually, via iPad. He didn't miss anything except for the yummy food. This year, it looks like he will be attending via Skype." Newly wed to a Hong Kong resident, Ai Leng will no longer be receiving any ang pow this year. She will be giving them, for the first time. "My husband also has a close-knit family so it looks like he will be Whatsapping from Kuala Lumpur," she says with a twinkle in her eye.

This Chinese New Year, watch Ai Leng as part of the Spring Chorus cast.

LAWRENCE ON THE GO EVER since he was spotted by a talent scout and got into modelling 11 years ago, life has been one project after another for fresh-faced Lawrence Wong. Now 32, Lawrence is based both in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore as he has work commitments in the cities.

For the uninitiated, this chap who is from Johor Baru is not only a much sought after model, he is also an actor in drama series and telemovies on Malaysian and Singapore TV channels. He also sings.

So, how does he manage with all that travelling between the cities? By having two iPhones, answers Lawrence. "One iPhone has a Malaysia SIM card and the other, Singapore. That way, I'm always reachable," he says. "Other than that, I carry a Macbook Air for FaceTime and Skype so that I can video conference and make and receive calls wherever I may be." Lawrence is certainly on the move quite often. Just last year, he filmed a made-for-TV travelogue documenting a journey from Singapore to Beijing using land transport.

He also makes sure he goes backpacking at least once a year, citing Ecuador as his destination last year, with Grand Canyon in Arizona, US the year before.

"While I'm out and about, I constantly update my Instagram and Facebook account as well as Weibo for my Mandarin-speaking audience. I put up selfies, pictures of my cat, pictures at work and quotes. I also have a blog where I share travel tips." Lawrence makes sure he is also in touch with his loved ones constantly.

"My family still lives in Johor Baru. I chat with my mum and 13- year-old sister regularly on Whatsapp. My father enjoys making voice calls to me on Viber. And I actually get to see my cat (it's in Singapore) any time of the day through my phone as my home there has a WiFi camera hooked up." On his work plans this year, Lawrence says he has shooting for a drama series in March. He hopes to publish a book on styling for men.

And he will be working on his second album to be released towards the end of the year.

"I hope to slow down the pace this year and work on projects that really mean something to me," he adds.

He ruefully admits that due to his schedule, he hasn't been able to pop down to see his parents and sister.

"The last time I saw them face-to-face was during Chinese New Year last year. I look forward to the reunion dinner and spending as much time with them as possible this time. Communications through phones and computers may help but nothing beats good old-fashioned gatherings." This Chinese New Year, Lawrence will be featured on ntv7 on Jan 31 at 8:30pm in the telemovie Spring Chorus, a heartwarming musical drama about a family of five siblings who reunite to care for their father who is suffering from Alzheimer's.

CHILLIN' WITH WEE PING IF you were to watch the first season of internationally syndicated Deal Or No Deal on ntv7 circa 2007, you would have surely taken note of the suave and eloquent gameshow host.

That was one of Goh Wee Ping's early TV jobs after being the anchor for Mandarin News for ntv7 and 8TV. Wee Ping moved to Kuching during his childhood and went on to study in Singapore. He later graduated from Monash University, Australia. Being in entertainment certainly seemed far off the track for the banker's son, back then.

Then he landed a job with an American company that had a site in Sama Jaya, Kuching. There he befriended a colleague who led him to the (then) studios of ntv7 in Kuching.

Wee Ping has since then produced and hosted many local TV programmes - the latest is Good Morning Tai Tai, aired daily from Monday to Friday on ntv7. He is also involved in acting, emceeing, doing voice-over work, training celebrities and acting as interpreter. And he has also set foot in other fields including radio production, music composition as well as designing.

Having the right gadgets help in managing his heavy schedule, the charming 42-year-old says.

"I used to have a computer. Then I decided to get an iPad just for the sake of getting one and it turned out I liked it, especially the apps. After that I bought a Mac mini. Soon after a Macbook followed. And I have fully embraced the iOS with an iPhone 5S and an iPad Mini." Having been involved in producing creative content, Wei Ping fully understands the importance of respecting intellectual property rights when buying apps.

"I don't believe in jailbreaking. I purchase every single app I have on my devices." Wei Ping believes technology should be a part of life. Apart from his Facebook and Instagram accounts and the busy Whatsapp groups of close family and friends, his iPhone is a constant source of entertainment.

"I connect my phone to the car stereo, and listen to Internet radio. Meanwhile, my iPad Mini is hooked up to my LCD TV at home and I stream movies and drama serials from the Net." For Chinese New Year, Wei Ping is looking forward to quality time with his siblings and parents in Kuching.

"When we were younger, we always travelled during our festive season. It was often too hectic. Nowadays we prefer to just chill and enjoy each other's company." (c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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