As the first Asian and Malaysian to be crowned as Mrs. Universe 2013, Carol Lee is no stranger to the fashion and beauty pageant scenes. Her victory is listed in the Malaysia Book of Records. As an ambassador for KL Sogo and former News Presenter on the local news network, TV3, Lee is what we call a role model to women out there; juggling her job as a beauty pageant winner, mother, entrepreneur (she has a child enrichment centre located in KL Sogo) and the most recent, as the Mont Kiara Community Society (MKCS) Chairwoman.
Her role varies from grooming children to taking care of the wellbeing of its community in Mont’ Kiara. Our conversation with Lee was short but definitely sweet.
How or what motivated you to enter the Mrs. Universe pageant?
Many years back, when I participated in the Miss Chinese International 1995 in Hong Kong under TVB, I only managed to be in the top 10 as I wasn’t fully prepared for the pageant and felt nervous onstage at that point of time. However, when opportunity knocked on my door a few years ago, I braved, motivated and persisted and decided to try for the Mrs. Universe pageant. I put in my 200% to prepare for the world finals in Aruba, which took me approximately 1 year, in which I did my research about the pageant, the past winners, what was important to concentrate for the pageant , what to prepare etc. I found out that the main focus of the pageant was the forum, where each delegate was given 3 minutes to speak on violence against women in our country. During the forum, I would say that I stood out amongst the rest as I provided a comprehensive presentation providing 3 year statistics on violence against women in Malaysia, what was done thus far to address that issue, my initiative on the nationwide campaign against domestic violence, where I worked closely with the All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) and my future plans to champion that cause. In addition, I was the only one who had printed my Powerpoint Presentation and profile for the judges and delegates. Needless to say, they were impressed and as they say, the rest is history.
How did you manage to promote Malaysia when you were in Aruba?
As a representative of Malaysia, I took the chance to promote Malaysia by distributing leaflets and also VCDs on Malaysia, which I had obtained from Tourism Malaysia, to all delegates and also gave them a small souvenir to remember me by. I did offer my home for them to stay when they come here and was also willing to bring them around to show them my beloved country. After winning the title, Malaysia was given the privilege to organise the Mrs. Universe 2014 World Final. It was an opportunity not to be missed to bring delegates from all around the world to Malaysia. In the one week when they were here, all delegates were brought on a tour around Kuala Lumpur and also Johor. They also had a chance to try our local delicacies and also our king of fruits – durian.
Ideally, it’s to have a balance in family life, work, giving back to the community and also having time for myself. To be honest, it all boils down to having good time management (We were proud of her and mentioned that we don’t know how she does it). However, I do sometimes get a bit too carried away with work. My daughter, Klarissa would then give me feedback, telling me that I have not been spending much time with her. That’s my cue to re-adjust my schedule.
What was considered to you an accomplishment throughout your tenure as the chairwoman of the MKCS?
To me, I would say that it wasn’t just one but a few. Firstly, I managed to bring all properties in Mont Kiara together, which include condos, houses, schools and commercial buildings. We now have more than 50 properties under MKCS.
Secondly, I managed to organise and enrol committed and hardworking individuals, who are aligned to a common vision, to assist as zone leaders and join our sub-committees such as safety and security, events, road improvement, accounts, traffic and landscape plus cleanliness. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to manage the whole of Mont Kiara today.
Apart from that, we managed to build a good relationship with Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) and also the Sri Hartamas Police Station to deal with issues such as safety and security, traffic, road improvement, illegal advertisements and parking etc., and we could see faster progress. We co-operate well with the authorities and also all properties in Mont Kiara in order to make Mont Kiara a better place. Today, if one were to come into Mont Kiara, you will hardly see any illegal advertisements placed on lamp posts and trees. All properties have an understanding that any illegal buntings in front and around their property will be taken down with the help of 2 DBKL officers who are permanently assigned to take care of Mont Kiara. We also have a DBKL contractor who is assisting us to make improvements to our roads and pavements. All these would not have been possible, if not for the support of our KL Mayor, YBhg. Datuk Seri Hj. Mhd Amin bin Abdul Aziz.
With regards to safety and security, we have a Whatsapp group chat where we have all property representatives in Mont Kiara, as well as the OCPD of Brickfields and also the Head of the Sri Hartamas Police Station in the group. The objective of the group chat is to be able to share information on crime in Mont Kiara. For example, if there is a break-in at one of the properties in Mont Kiara, we share the modus operandi and also the pictures of the suspects with other properties. This is done so that other properties can alert their guards to be more vigilant. It is definitely not meant to go viral.
The most recent achievement is where Mont Kiara has been included in Phase 5 (June till December 2017) of the Cleanliness Blueprint initiated by DBKL, instead of waiting till year 2019. There are a few areas that we will be evaluated on, such as the improvement of roads and drains, the management of solid waste, to increase the public awareness on cleanliness by working together with the authorities, among other things. If we manage to obtain Grade A, we will be rewarded with RM20,000, which we can use to further beautify Mont Kiara.
What is your key to success?
Passion, commitment, perseverance and support from my family – my husband and his unfailing support and also my daughter of whom I want to be a role model to. Passion plays an important role whereby if you love what you do, it will never be a chore. My passion as the MKCS chairwoman is to make the area a better place for the Mont Kiara community. Being a perfectionist, I will always strive to do the best that I can. At times, it does come with a price…which is stress. I will just need to remind myself to take it easy and not to be too hard on myself
What is your message to the Mont Kiara community and also the people who visit the area?
I would like encourage our community to come together and to work together in order to make Mont Kiara a better place to live in. We need to be ‘colour blind’ as well as put any differences aside in order to work together. If we work together, we can move mountains. As for people who visit this area, I hope they can also help to keep Mont Kiara clean and also to park at designated parking lots. And most of all, especially to people who want to promote their services or products, please go through the proper channel. No illegal buntings please!
DBKL does not give out any permits anymore. Anyone who places an illegal ad will be slapped with a summon, have the phone line terminated and also face the possibility of having the business license revoked.