Category Archives: AFT Interviews

Black Belt in Martial Arts: A Path to Personal and Professional Growth

Sir Sean Connery, Forest Whittaker, Guy Ritchie are all black belts in martial arts as is Tom Hardy and tech billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and it’s becoming more popular in the media too. Mixed martial arts (MMA) is the fastest growing sport in the world, selling out arenas across the globe – and rival broadcasters are chomping at the bit to sign up programmes.

As an entrepreneur, mother, media professional and a dedicated practitioner of the martial art of karate, my journey to achieving a black belt has been transformative; the lessons I’ve learned on the mat have transcended the boundaries of the dojo and provided invaluable insights which guide me in all aspects of my life.

One of the most fundamental lessons I’ve learned in karate is the power of incremental progress. The journey from a white belt to an advanced one taught me that what seems impossible at first can become achievable through consistent effort and determination.

Karate has taught me the importance of emotional control. In the heat of contact sparring, it’s easy to let anger or frustration cloud your judgment. I’ve learned to process my emotions rather than suppress them, ensuring they don’t dictate my actions or demeanour and help maintain composure.

I discovered that success often requires adaptation and persistence. Just like martial artists adjust their techniques in sparring, I’ve learned to be flexible and willing to modify my approach in various situations in business. It’s not about finding a one-size-fits-all solution but about continuously refining and trying different strategies.

I also realised the importance of focusing on my strengths rather than fixating on others’ abilities. This lesson has translated into my professional life, reminding me not to engage in the damaging habit of constant comparison which is a minefield for our mental health.

Karate has shown me the profound connection between the mind and the body. The mental motivation that I receive from my teachers is a vivid illustration of how the mind dictates the body’s actions. This understanding helps me find motivation and inspiration even on the most challenging days.

Breaking through the barriers of self-doubt and difficulty is a core aspect of martial arts training. The experience of persistently working toward breaking boards to earn my black belt has instilled in me the unwavering belief that tenacity is one of the fundamental keys to success. It took several attempts and countless hours of practice, but the feeling of accomplishment and newfound confidence were immeasurable.

My journey to a black belt taught me that commitment and unwavering belief in oneself are often more critical than innate ability. It’s not about being the strongest or most talented but about having the discipline, indomitable spirit, and perseverance to overcome challenges. These attributes are equally applicable to my professional life in the competitive world of media and entertainment.

Achieving a black belt in karate is not merely a testament to physical prowess; it is a symbol of internal growth, discipline, emotional control, and a core inner confidence. Just as a black belt represents the highest level of skill and dedication in martial arts, it stands as a reminder that these qualities are the true ingredients of personal and professional achievement.

This interview with Sarimah Ibrahim was authored by Heather Suttie.

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AFT Interviews: Digital Creator, Shaun Chee

Exploring Japan & Asian diaspora stories, Shaun Chee quit his corporate job in Sydney, Australia and has been travelling across Asia creating some amazing content. Here are some content highlights that we have handpicked, just to show you the variety and depth of Shaun’s storytelling. Evident from his posts, Shaun has been in Japan speaking to us for this interview earlier in the year. We hope that you will explore his YouTube channel, Bordersless as a first step before reading the interview. You will surely be in for a borderless ride!

What is your experience growing up in Australia? Tell us about 3 most distinct memories.

On the surface, I had a typical childhood in Sydney. Played sport, enjoyed video games and spent the summer days sweating it out at home or at the beach! It’s difficult to point out any particular memory but some of the more distinct ones have to do with growing up in a predominantly white suburb as an Asian Australian:

  1. Going to after-school tutoring while my peers played sport or had fun.
  2. My parents sending me to taekwondo classes after I was experiencing schoolyard taunts and bullying at school.
  3. Feeling self-conscious early-on in life about how different I was, whether it be the lunchboxes I brought to school, or the way I looked/spoke.

What do you think influenced your artistic eye?

As a result of these negative experiences, I largely rejected much of my Asian heritage and culture for most of my life. It’s only in the last few years that I have made an effort to reconnect with my roots.

I think much of the content I produce around Asia, belonging and identity is really an extension of my childhood experiences and desire to reconnect with my roots.

Do share your career highlights. What were the lows and the highs?

Likeany young graduate, getting that 1st “real” job is so sweet. Your years of studying and hard work have finally paid off! The path your parents told you to take will lead to happiness and success…right?

After spending a few years in the corporate world and climbing the ladder, I started to feel discontented. Do I really want to be doing the same thing for the next 40 years? If this was considered success by my family and society, I didn’t want it.

What was it that made you pivot in your career? Was it a hobby turned career? Why the change?

It got to a point where I was so exhausted from work, that I spent most weekends trying recover in time for the following work week. Though my work hours got better as I progressed through my career, I had this strong feeling that I was wasting my time and that I could be doing something more impactful.

I know people say that work is just work and that you shouldn’t get too emotionally invested but I just felt that life is much more than punching the clock. And with no real clear plan, I took a career break in 2019 to travel around Asia and study in Chinese in Taiwan on a scholarship, with the aim of reconnecting with my roots and culture. However, COVID hit and I was forced to return to Australia and start from square one.


That career break gave me the time to think and re-assess my position. If I wanted to get out of the corporate game, then I needed to build up other skills that could lead to me down a different path. So, I tried everything that was interested in…from podcasting, videography, photography and how to leverage social media.

Luckily, I managed to secure some clients and work on some interesting projects within a year of transitioning out of my old office job, but time will tell if I’ll keep doing this long-term! There’s something to be said about the comfort and security of a corporate monthly wage!

What is the one thing you strive to do in your life? Have you been successful in achieving that?

Trying to be my authentic self has been one the main things I strive to do. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of listening to the opinions of others, whether it be your parents, friends, societal expectations, etc., but there’s a point in life where you need to start listening to yourself and take action to be at a place you want to be.

Especially if you grew up in an environment where you were constantly being compared or made to feel different, it’s very easy to think that you’re not capable and that you should just follow the “safe” path.  And the longer you think and operate a certain way, it becomes harder to break out of these negative thoughts and patterns.

It’s a constant work in progress to overcome those feelings of self-doubt and discover your true values and passions but hopefully I’m improving with each day that passes.

You have a YouTube channel, Bordersless. Tell us a little about this project.

BordersLess started off as a podcast that covered Asians born in the West that had decided to move back to Asia and leverage their unique skills and cross-cultural talents.

“Go back to where you came from” is a term that is often directed at the Asian diaspora communities, so I tried to find the people who did just that. I’ve interviewed several successful entrepreneurs that have found more success in Asia than if they decided to stay put in the West.

BordersLess has slowly transformed to become a platform that not only promotes Asian Diaspora success but also other topics that interest me, whether it be Asian-Australian mental health, entrepreneurship in Asia or even geopolitics.

Is health and fitness important to you? Care to share about your daily routine?

Health and fitness have become more important to me as I get older. There was a time where I could eat & drink anything I wanted without gaining any weight!

When I was working a corporate job where I was sitting for most of the week, I would make an effort to get away from the desk at much as I could, whether it be walks at lunch, scheduling meetings outside of the office or hitting the gym when I could.

More recently as I’ve transitioned to freelance work with no regular schedule, I do 10,000 steps a day as an absolute minimum and will also do pushups, situps or burpees at home when I don’t have access to a gym. I also try to combine exercise with friends, whether it be going on hikes or playing tennis on the weekends.

Finally, what’s your ultimate favourite thing to do?

I think uplifting others who share similar life experiences and who are actively striving to improve themselves and their situations is something I find much value in. I hope that the content I produce gives someone the inspiration to act and find more meaning in their lives.

Sieving through video content published by Bordersless, we found this two-part video documentary on Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew.

Photos supplied by Shaun Chee.

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AFT Interviews: Eyes on Amina Jindani and the ‘Theatre of the Mind’ collective

Amina Jindani is a performance art entrepreneur and founder of Mo One Drama. A teacher and a student, she has studied acting, creative writing and directing in London at the Royal Court Young Peoples’ Theatre. She embraced Malaysia as her home since 1991, and has explored theatre, film and television as an actress, presenter, producer, director, writer & performance educator for all ages.

A Speech and Drama teacher for over 25 years, Amina is passionate about helping her students grow from school children into creatively competent adults who are able to represent the nation on the world stage; giving speeches at international conferences; working in television, stage and film; winning awards at creative writing, public speaking and the arts; as well as possessing inspiring, creative skills that can enhance their profession in all types of careers.


Amina attained a Licentiate in Teaching Speech and Drama (Distinction) from Trinity College London and is certified and trained as professional teacher of Cambridge IGCSE Drama. Also known fondly in the arts circle as ‘Moone’, Amina was selected the Malaysian Winner of the Motion Picture International’s Script to Screen feature film pitching competition (2019) and won an Award of Excellence from Trinity College London (2017).

Team AFT spent some time to learn about Moone’s life stories and her latest projects; a radio play that is gaining attention from listeners around the world.

AFT: How did you ‘play’ while growing up?

Moone: I was one of those children who could play for hours on my own.  Sometimes, I’d make things out of old boxes, toilet rolls and sticky tape, sometimes it was about dressing up and creating characters to play and sometimes I’d record soundscapes on tape and invite my friends over to listen.  My favourite was making haunted house sounds for Hallowe’en.

AFT: What influenced your artistic eye?

Moone: I was very inspired by TV shows that taught children how to paint and make things but also museums.  I think my two favourite museums when I was a child were the V&A Museum and the Commonwealth Institute.  They made my mind explore culture and history and opened up my imagination and appreciation.  Art is everywhere but for me it’s mainly in how people past and present express themselves.

AFT: Theatre of the Mind is a fairly new installation, why did you come up with this form of radio drama? Do you think there an audience for this kind of classic radio play?


Moone: There is a niche audience that is growing.  When I was a teenager, I was challenged to make radio plays popular for young people and went on the radio with some scripts I wrote.  I think it was the wrong era as other young people weren’t really interested.  Then, recently, I noticed a new generation of younger people listening to audio online again.  It was time to pick up the thread and reach out once again.  I’ve waited a long time for this.

Eight months ago, here was the ‘cold’ reading of a script written by Amina Jindani of the first episode of Derek Kong, Private Detective. Video link:

AFT: Did you produce any scripts or produced any plays or dramas during COVID19? What did you do to pass time?

Moone: The first thing I did was embrace the art of not doing anything at all!  It was liberating.  I lived like a cat eating, sleeping, stretching and sitting looking out of the window.  Then I started to cut old clothes and sew them into a bedspread.  I enjoyed the slow pace and listened to stories online while sewing.  Then all of a sudden all these script ideas came flooding to me and I started writing.  Shakespeare wrote his best works during the great plague and I realised why – ideas need space to develop – not a cluttered schedule of stuff to do.

The poem, Wau Bulan, was written a few years ago by Amina Jindani and is published in Celine’s Anthology – Part 1, published by Wordville (UK), 2021 during the MCO lockdown. It has been used in Malaysian school performances, for teaching in classes. Video link:

AFT: What is the one thing you strive to do with Moone Drama? Tell us about the early days, how you started this company. Have you been successful?

Moone: MoOne Drama strives to develop performance arts pedagogy as the basis for all education.  To develop creativity, expression, interpretation and to think critically with experiential learning.  I started it because mainstream education is a rewards-based system focused on the end product and not the journey.  I wanted to create a learning experience that is about the journey for the personal development of people – all people. In 2021, we won an award as Malaysia’s Best Performing Arts Institute.  This year, we launched MO1 Productions where trainees can learn to work with established professionals. It’s growing and I’m happy with the progress.

AFT: Tell us about work that you have not finished or can’t complete? What happens then?

Moone: I have written screenplays with a lot of trial and error in the process.  There’s such a big gap between writing a screenplay and producing one.  I am determined to start getting these stories made one day.  I will keep going.  Sometimes, it’s about meeting the right people or it’s about the timing.  Sometimes, you realise you need to do a re-write and so I work on these in the background.

AFT: Is health and fitness important to you as a scriptwriter and performance artist? Can you share a little about your daily routine?

Moone: When my mind travels into my ideas, I kind of feel like my body is not doing anything.  I’m not even aware of it.  After a while, I notice that I have not even moved.  That’s when I decide to take a long walk.  I don’t drive and have been a pedestrian all my life.  Walking is my source of fitness.  When I walk, I go on for miles and miles.  When I don’t walk, I make sure I do household chores the old-fashioned way.  I don’t use a washing machine – I hand wash clothes every day.  I mop, clean, scrub, dig the garden and saw the excess branches off trees. It’s like going to the gym.

AFT: Finally, what’s your ultimate favourite thing to do?

Moone: Zone out! I can sit and do nothing and relish that feeling of incoming creativity.  Ideas forming. After I zone out, I am so much more productive.

If your curiosity is piqued about what a Noir Parody Audio Drama could sound like, tune in to the Theatre of the Mind’s production of Derek Kong, Private Detective on Facebook, YouTube and SoundCloud. Or, visit the official website:

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AFT Interviews: View from the eye of surrealist photographer, Cristian Townsend (AU/JP)

Some photographs maybe be inappropriate for younger viewers. Discretion is advised. For viewers of age, this is art. Please do not proceed if nudity offends you.

Twice Gold Award-winner for ‘Fairy Tales’ (2017), Special Photographer of the Year and ‘The Circus of Extinction’ (2020) 1st Place / Special/Digitally Enhanced at the prestigious International Photography Awards (IPA) in New York, Cristian Townsend is a West Australian, living and working in Osaka, Japan.

Through dreamlike photomontages, he questions and push boundaries beyond cultural conventions… in order to seek truth. Inspired by Surrealism’s provocation and Buddhist philosophy, Townsend was one of 124 participants from 52 different countries who exhibited their works at the 14th edition of The International Surrealism Now Exhibition held in May 2021 at the Center of Arts and Spectacle (CAE) in the city of Figueira da Foz in Portugal, a project created by Santiago Ribeiro, Portuguese surrealist artist. The exhibition is the largest exhibition of surrealism of the 21st century in the world, consisting of works of painting, drawing, digital art, sculpture, and photography.

In an email interview, team AFT asks Townsend about his artistic direction and inspirations. His photomontages use motifs from Classical to Modernist Art, from War-time Propaganda to Modern Advertising, the Cinema, the Mass Media and Science Fiction.

AFT: Which pieces of works did exhibit at the International Surrealism NOW exhibition, and why did you choose those pieces?

Townsend: Santiago Ribeiro has been a driving force in the visionary art scene. The International Surrealism NOW exhibition is an amazing effort and I’m very happy to be included in it. I have two photos in this exhibition. Both are older works.

One is called Gondola in the Desert. It was inspired by a trip to Venice and is about the power of creativity.

The other image is called Body Politik: Monarchy. This is part of a series that expresses some political ideologies as human bodies fighting against themselves. Most political Art is propaganda and usually depicts the desired ideology as an Utopian ideal. I wanted to depict ideology as something that is in flux and that is in constant conflict. With the rise of ideology in recent times I think that is an important point.

Gondola in the Desert, one of the pieces exhibited at the International Surrealism NOW exhibition.
Model: Clement Denquin | All rights reserved – Cristian Townsend.

“Everything should be questioned and everything should be explored. Art is the exploration of what is possible.”

Cristian Townsend
Body Politik: Monarchy
Model: Lucy Chi Chi | All rights reserved – Cristian Townsend

AFT: Tell us about your environment, while growing up.

Townsend: I grew up in Perth, Western Australia. My family were English and they moved to Australia when I was two. My father worked in TV, first at the BBC, working on TV shows like Dr Who, and then at the ABC in Australia. He was also a photographer who took photos of local and international celebrities. He gave me a basic camera when I was a kid, and I used to take photos of my toys putting them in dioramas. Also, there were many art and photo books around the house, which fired my imagination. I was always interested in fantasy and Surrealism from a young age. There were photo books on Bill Brandt, Man Ray, Helmut Newton, Horst, Beaton, Uelsmann and many others. These photographers still inspire me today.

I used to draw and paint a lot as a child. Eventually I got into a Special Art program at High School. It taught me different painting and photography techniques as well as Art History. The well known children’s book artist Shaun Tan also went to the same high school.

AFT: What or who were your influences?

Townsend: My dad had a traditional darkroom and, inspired by Surrealist painters and particularly Jerry Uelsmann’s and Man Ray’s pre Photoshop photomontages, I started to experiment with my own style. First I used lith film masks to create photomontages. I had some promising early success; I got published in some local magazines and started winning some local awards. After I finished studying communications at university I started working for one of the first digital photo labs in Perth. I used to do all the retouching and photo manipulation for local photographers.

I love Surrealism, but I don’t really believe in Art categories. The artists that I have always admired are the Visionary artists like Bosch, DaVinci Goya, Dali, Magritte, Moreau, Redon and many others. The world we live in is full of cliches. The best artists in my view, open up the world of imagination and the possibilities of what can be achieved. This is even more important these days of political divisiveness and misinformation.

AFT: What is the one thing you strive to do with your art? Have you been successful?

Townsend: Art, primarily, should be about expressing truth through personal symbolism. For me, it is all about trying to understand the complexity of the world in a deeper, symbolic way, even if that may be disturbing or controversial to some.

I hope to have symbolic consistency and a unique worldview in my photographs. I think I’m getting closer to achieving that. I have also won many international awards recently. From the Px3 in France to the International Photography Awards in New York, where I won photographer of the year in my category and attended the awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall. Definitely a highlight in my career.

Artists need to be flexible. Photographers especially rely on others; models, dancers, and makeup artists for example. Although it is important to have vision, it is essential to use the creativity of others in your work. I have been lucky to know many creative people who have wanted to collaborate with me. Some have even made their own prop and costumes for the shoots!

‘The Circus of Extinction’ series, which won a Gold Award at the IPA New York (2020)
view all
‘Fairy Tales’ series picked up the Gold Prize ((2017) at the IPA Awards in New York and Silver at the TIFA, Tokyo International Foto Awards
The Book of Life, a part of the ‘Fairy Tales’ series – view all

AFT: Did you produce any work during Covid-19?

When COVID 19 became an international incident I was working on my latest series ‘The Circus of Extinction’. This series is about the ‘Circus’ of life and how our darker impulses are leading us to disaster. I was lucky that the series was mostly complete. I had one more photo to finish, which involved ‘a Tattooed Lady’. I had many of the elements photographed already, but I started to have many scheduling problems. However, I managed to finish the image before Osaka went into shut down.

AFT: Is there any work that you have not finished or can’t complete?

With photography many things can go wrong: Talent gets sick, bad weather, you name it and it can go wrong. I usually have contingency plans. Of course some things come together easily, and others are a real struggle. Sometimes the struggle can make the work stronger. It’s like bad weather. Sometimes you get storm clouds or rain, but the unexpected weather can sometimes produce better results. More beautiful clouds or dramatic lighting. Etcetera. Sometimes you have to abandon plans for different reasons. I did attempt to do a series based on Tarot imagery, but that was not completed. I think I was not ready at the time for such an undertaking. I often return to images and ideas. Artists are obsessive people. So I might end up finishing it someday. Who knows. My main goal is to remain open to new possibilities and not become obsessed with unfinished projects.

AFT: Is health and fitness important to you? Do share some of your daily routines.

As far as my health is concerned, I do try and eat healthy food. Particularly green vegetables and whole grain or rye bread. I also try to restrict carbs in my diet. My wife sometimes bakes bread though. Fresh rye bread is my favourite. We live in Japan, so fish is an important part of my diet. I love Salmon and often cook baked Salmon and fresh herbs. We have a small herb garden. We often use dill, basil and coriander in our cooking. There is a gym near our house. I used to exercise regularly, but after the gyms have shut, I often take my 3 kids out walking at a big park near our house. Spending time with my kids and exercising is a great way to keep mentally and physically healthy and grounded.

AFT: What is your ultimate favourite thing to do?

Life can be tough, but being open to it’s beauty and rich complexity is essential. It is my ultimate goal to create work that reflects the lightness and darkness of the world, and for that work to reach people in a deep way, beyond financial gain. I also want to lead a full life, and travel to many wonderful places with my family and show them the incredible diversity of life and world cultures.

Team AFT would like to thank Santiago Ribeiro and Cristian Townsend for making this interview possible. Follow Cristian Townsend via Instagram @oswaldfitchjapan or visit his website:

What is Surrealism?

Surrealism was an artistic, intellectual, and literary movement led by poet André Breton from 1924 through World War II. The Surrealists sought to overthrow the oppressive rules of modern society by demolishing its backbone of rational thought. To do so, they attempted to tap into the “superior reality” of the subconscious mind. “Completely against the tide,” said Breton, “in a violent reaction against the impoverishment and sterility of thought processes that resulted from centuries of rationalism, we turned toward the marvelous and advocated it unconditionally.”

Source: MoMA Learning

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Published by Australia Fitness Today, “AFT Interviews: View from the eye of surrealist photographer, Christian Townsend (AU/JP)”, Authored by: Jasmine Low, URL:, first published on 6 September 2021 in Asia Fitness Today.

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Introspection III by Kenneth WH Lee (Malaysia-Australia)

AFT speaks to Malaysian-Australian artist Kenneth W.H. Lee about his third solo art show, “Introspection III”.

AFT: Tell us about your environment while growing up.

Kenneth WH Lee: I come from a family of six with “por-por” my mother’s mom. I’m the eldest of three and have two other siblings. We grew up in a small sleepy town of Banting in Selangor (I was born in the famous Klang town, known for its culinary delights). My parents were both secondary teachers; Mom taught English and Art and Dad taught PE and Art, so the artistic lineage was unavoidable and pre-determined. Mom tells me she noticed my bold strokes at age two with an Artliner pen. I had a happy, care-free childhood playing in the dirt (catching fish in drains and climbing guava trees) after school till dusk and I remember being yelled at to get home for dinner!

AFT: What do you think influenced your artistic eye?

Kenneth WH Lee: My parents clearly gave me that early exposure in appreciating the finer points in art and understanding the basics of drawing and painting – with that early knowledge I loved experimenting in my own way, breaking the rules along the way as much as I dared, whilst paying homage to the greats. I soaked up (art) like a sponge going through drawing and sketching teaching books and journals, learning as much I could myself. My parents took to me art galleries, and we would walk through museums of art. I first experienced the body of work by professionals like the late (Malaysian artist), Ibrahim Hussein. His art show is stuck in my mind – I was probably 10 then. The great French artists in the Impressionist (and Fauvism) movement really caught my imagination and left an everlasting mark. We migrated to Sydney when I was 18, and I studied art in high school, learning European art literature and was really drawn to the late Brett Whiteley’s work.

AFT: Which piece of work have you recently submitted for a competition or auction and why?

Kenneth WH Lee: I submitted artworks for both for the Archibald (a prestigious Australian portrait art prize administered by the Art Gallery of NSW) and a landscape piece for the Wynne prize (one of Australia’s longest-running art prizes for landscape painting or figure sculpture).

For the Archibald, I submitted a portrait in oils of an amazing gentleman and aboriginal leader, Uncle Charles “Chicka” Madden of Alexandria, NSW and a large abstract piece for the Wynne prize titled “Sydney Spring – Gratitude Series II” measuring 1200 x 1200 x 35 mm in oils/acrylics/charcoal/pastels/ on canvas. They unfortunately didn’t make the finals. It’s the second consecutive year of submissions in both the above Prizes after 25 years of shying away from any art competition.

For one, I gave up painting for those number of years to focus on my finance/asset/funds management career in Australia and South East Asia and I didn’t find the need to receive external validation for my art. Now, staying relevant and visible by putting out content is part of being a professional artist. 

I recently donated a portrait piece of St. Charbel, the patron saint of Lebanon for a fundraising event held in conjunction with Steps of Hope and Madison Marcus law firm. I’m pleased that raised A$26,000 in a blacktie function to help with relief work for the victims of the Lebanon port blast in August 2020.

AFT: Did you paint during COVID19? What did you do to pass time?

Kenneth WH Lee: Yes, I painted during Covid-19 lockdowns. I completed art works for the Archibald and Wynne Prizes submissions in 2020. I continued to work at frenzied pace to build a new body of work as I planned towards my third solo exhibition titled “Introspection III” – an aptly named show in current times of needing to be more reflective taking stock of where we are as a human race and more importantly individually in our own personal journeys and awakening – our passions, dreams and who we stand for, next to our loved ones. During this time I was also actively creating works for charity fundraising for the likes of the CMRI Children’s Medical Research Institute for research into cures for all sorts of serious illnesses children suffer early in their lives. I also supported the Jeans4Genes cause by painting a portrait of singer Guy Sebastian utilising his donated signed jeans as part of the collage-portraiture. That item went on an online auction. A painting of St Charbel, patron Saint of Lebanon, was also donated toward fundraising for the good people recovering from the unfortunate disaster and with the onset of winter then. I’m about to start on portraits of the three Abdallah children and their cousin to be gifted to the family to help ease the pain and to remember their young lives taken away at such young age in that freak Oatlands accident by a drunken driver with his passenger both intoxicated while the kids were walking for ice creams around corner from their home. I don’t get to spend time with my kids during their school holidays but at least I get to do something for someone else.

AFT: What is the one thing you strive to do with your art? Have you been successful?

Kenneth WH Lee: I love combining impressionist style with abstract designs – whether it be a large landscape or a portrait. I love both forms of art on its own but combining them is challenging and satisfying – and I think I have been successful with the outcomes. I love to constantly challenge myself to paint something new, something I hadn’t done before. I’m excited that my art designs are now being sold and licensed as lifestyle products in Australia. Also American and New Zealand online wall art companies are selling and promoting my images/copies reprinted on canvas and shipped around the world.

AFT: Is there any work that you have not finished or can’t complete? What happens then?

Kenneth WH Lee: I have had pieces of work that had taken years (up to five years) to complete as the initial stages did not show potential and I lost interest in it and moved on to other newer pieces. Whilst the earlier pieces sat unloved, I hadn’t forgotten about it – still constantly pondering its future and design input. Or a complete design change and direction to revamp the entire piece. Sometimes midway I find no inspiration to sit or stand in front of a piece and continue painting. I would walk past it without a thought lacking the need to touch it. Then an idea would pop in my head (or sometimes a memory from a relationship whether in a happy mood or post-breakup in complete despair) and I will dive into that piece non-stop for hours to complete it. It’s all about the flow and feel at that point in time – sometimes it comes to me and sometimes its empty. So I have to be patient and tune in to what I am really creating. At times when I paint, its akin to having a conversation with a person or persons. The deeper the feeling and intensity of the conversation in my head the more interesting the piece becomes. I somehow can translate raw emotion at a particular time and pour it onto the canvas – its like a life diary of emotions coloured by paint.

AFT: Is health and fitness important to you as an artist? Tell us about your daily routine…

Kenneth WH Lee: Yes, health and fitness is key to me as an artist. Though I love to work late at nights when it is really quiet and paint for hours till the wee hours of dawn sometimes….I know to catch up on my sleep and rest which is key to wellbeing. I am a diehard foodie too and love to cook my favourite foods – usually traditional Malaysian hawker dishes and spicy dishes. I then balance this with great bowls of greens making wonderful salads, blended fruit juices and hydrate well. I do some iron work in the backyard with some weights and a punching bag and then go for a walk around the neighbourhood. Though I’ve given up badminton for over 20 years, I’ve recently joined a badminton club to get my heart rate going and burn off some calories. Its been fun getting back to the game that I used to love and was great at, having been a state representative for the Federal Territory as a school boy in Malaysia and later as an All-Australian Universities rep.


AFT: What’s your ultimate favourite thing to do?

Kenneth WH Lee: It would be hard to go past having an Italian coffee in hand and having the morning free to start on a large empty wooden panel or canvas, in beginning a new piece of abstract or an impressionist landscape work. It could also be the excitement and anticipation of continuing on a large piece, progressing with developing textures, depth and tonal values – it’s always a mindful challenge in solving the piece’s balance in design and colour and its imbalance… the statement that one is trying to convey. Usually I work very fast when an idea is born, my hands move the brushes and palette knives at a frantic pace across the white spaces then I’d spend more hours pondering and analysing the piece midway, tweaking it as I go – I find at different natural lighting the look and feel changes and my mood flows with it and I paint accordingly. I get inspired again when that look and feel hits me, and I will be hitting the canvas hard and fast frantically until I am exhausted.

Video footage/edit by: Campbell Wilson, photographer and founder of

“Immerse in Art”: Art Talk by Kenneth WH Lee

This event was held online on 10th July 2021 from 1:00-3:00pm (SYD/AEST/+10GMT).

Only RSVP if you wish to attend the live event.

“Introspection III” solo art exhibition is on display at Sydney Haymarket’s Bendigo Community Bank’s branch at Darling Square 11 Little Pier St Shop NE12 until 30 August 2021.

Team AFT thanks the artist Kenneth WH Lee, his management at ArtSHINE and exhibition venue sponsor Bendigo Community Bank for this interview.


Who is Kenneth WH Lee?

Malaysian-born Kenneth has exhibited twice in his Sydney Solo Shows “Interiority Of My Introspection I & II” in late 2019. On the commercial front, he works on private client commissions, consults on client fine art needs pre- and post-renovation, paints for charity art auctions and family portraits like the St Charbel portrait painted for Lebanon’s Blast victims/families and Guy Sebastian portrait utilising his custom signed jeans in fundraising for the CMRI Children’s Medical Research Institute – Westmead Children’s Hospital / Jeans4Genes. KWHLEE art designs are also available via its e-commerce shop for consumer retail and B2B wholesale.

Kenneth W H Lee is a represented artist managed by ArtSHINE.

Follow his Instagram account to view current artworks: @kennethwhlee.


AFT Interviews: Dentist Dr. YokeLi Ling on crooked teeth, sleep disorders and systemic health

Oral myofunctional therapy and dental sleep medicine for both children and adults.

Team AFT met with Dr. YokeLi Ling, a dentist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 20 March 2021. What ensued is a chat between The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast co-hosts Jasmine Low & Nikki Yeo with the good doctor about how she’s been able to assist her patients breathe better and live better. Her passion and dedication as a Sleep and Airway Centric Dentist shows in her work in providing a holistic patient management approach. 

In this interview, Team AFT speaks to Dr. Ling about:

  • Minimal, non-invasive interventions in dentistry
  • Prevention and rehabilitation of poor facial and jaw growth development that results in dental misalignment, sleep disordered breathing, and compromised systemic health.
  • Oral myofunctional therapy, incorporating it into the treatment of orofacial myofunctional disorders, and dental sleep medicine for both children and adults. 

In this interview, Dr. Ling speaks at length about her field of specialty. She shares, “I would like to introduce a broader concept of the dentist as an oral physician, a gatekeeper to the wellness of systemic health through the mouth.”

AFT: You practice minimal, non-invasive dentistry to achieve sustainable outcomes for your patients. We’re curious what that means, what is non-invasive and why this kind of specialty? 

Dr. Yoke Li elaborates on Malocclusion, Sleep & Airway and compromised health.

AFT: What causes a child or adult to have crooked teeth? 

Some people have an upper or lower jaw that is too far in or out? What has resulted in that? Is it in our genes that some of us are born with a smaller jaw hence the overcrowding of teeth?

Having a small jaw with crooked teeth are signs that a person’s sleep may be compromised.

“Once sleep is compromised, health is also compromised” – Dr. Ling.

When we sleep the body is restored and our immune system is generated to protect the body. When sleep is interrupted, the lack of oxygen during obstructive sleep apnea would lead to a diminished quality of life, mood swings, irritability, hypertension, even metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

AFT: Why is our jaw too small to accommodate all our teeth? Surely it should be perfectly balanced, unless it’s changed over time?

The standard practice now is for most people to remove their wisdom teeth. Dr. Ling shares her thoughts thoughts on this. 

AFT: Do our food choices contribute to misaligned teeth, jaw and the structure of our face?

We don’t seem to be chewing enough in this era with foods. Archeologists have shown that the hunters and gatherers had a full set of teeth, continuous stimulation of the jaw bone.

AFT: How about people who grind their teeth at night? Can that be cured?

Ever heard about singing as a cure? Dr. Ling elaborates on some situations where spouses have reported positive improvement after their partners undergo treatment in merely exercising upper body, tongue and facial exercises as well as a diet change.

Put your tongue on the top of your mouth palette and breathe. Try it.

Don’t under estimate the power of the tongue and the power of breathing through your nose, chew your food, eat foods that require you to chew and that’s when your body starts to becoming more effective overall.

Q: At Asia Fitness Today, we advocate movement as therapy. What is the one thing that you have been able to use your Fitness for Good?

Married to her childhood sweetheart and blessed with 3 children, Dr. Ling loves hiking, traveling and playing tennis. She shares that fitness activities is how she gets herself out and up and encourages her family and friends to join her. Through sport, it’s not just about being fit physically, but also about being mentally and emotionally fit because good hormones are released.

Dr. Ling’s credentials include:

  • Doctor of Dental Surgery from University Science of Malaysia (Honours, 2006)
  • Recipient of the USM Chancellor’s Gold Award, USM’s University Gold Award and Conference of Malay Rulers’ Royal Education Excellence Award
  • Postgraduate training and certifications on Orthotropics from London School of Facial Orthotropics
  • Mini Residency on Guiding Craniofacial Growth and Development in Children
  • Mini Residency on Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
  • Craniofacial Epigenetics
  • Oral Myology from Coulson Institute of Orofacial Myology
  • Myobrace from MRC Australia
  • Implant Training Program University of Southern California

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AFT Interviews: Dr. James Muecke AM Australian of the Year 2020 wants to put diabetes in remission

Listen to the full interview on The Kurang Manis Podcast, Season 1, Episode 7

Type 2 Diabetes could be put into remission, says opthalmologist Dr. James Muecke AM. Almost as soon as he was named Australian of the Year 2020, Dr. Muecke started advocating for the implementation of a tax on sugary drinks in an effort to save more eyes. Dr. Muecke speaks to about his proposed change to Australia’s dietary guidelines, he expresses why there’s a need for government to impose a sugar tax and talks about his work in raising awareness about diabetes – a lifestyle disease that could lead to the loss of sight.

Dr. James Muecke with his team in Vietnam. Photo credit: Sight For All foundation

He began his career in Kenya, then returned to South Australia to become an eye surgeon and blindness prevention pioneer, starting both Vision Myanmar at the South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology in 2000, and Sight For All, an organisation which uses Australian and New Zealand eye specialists to train overseas doctors, a social impact organisation “aiming to create a world where everyone can see”.

Has sugar blinded our reasoning?

A few months ago, we featured a story about a patient of Dr. Muecke’s who woke up one morning Blinded by Sugar. Neil Hansel is sadly a victim of the debilitating disease which has not only taken his eyesight, but also his limbs.

In his address at the National Press Club in Canberra last year, Dr. James Muecke gave an immensely moving account about having had to remove a patient’s eye. He wanted to be an eye surgeon to give the gift of sight and not to take it away from someone, especially when someone has been needlessly blinded by an avoidable, man-made Type 2 Diabetes he said.

Sugar toxicity can be solved

Humans were for the first time in history “overfed and undernourished” with sugar and refined carbohydrates, he affirmed. We met with Dr. Muecke in person at a studio in Sydney this March 2021, one square year after the Australian border closures and he summed up our conversation to this, “When the mother is pregnant with the baby and if she’s consuming a diet high in sugar, that sugar crosses the placental barrier to the foetus but insulin doesn’t cross, so you’re already metabolically priming the child for health problems in the future. So gestational diabetes is a big big problem so people should be aware of that, that it be picked up early in pregnancy and wind right back on your consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates,”.

Dr. Muecke spoke to us at length about a strategy he came up with, which he calls the 5As of sugar toxicity.

  • Addiction
  • Alleviation
  • Accessibility
  • Addition
  • Advertising

It’s so hard to kick the habit. If you’ve ever tried to detox from sugar, it’s quite an unpleasant process. And even if you’re able to succesfully do it, everywhere you go, all the foods you eat, you’re just bombarded with sugar, so it makes it very difficult. So having a tax on sugary drinks, we know that it’s been shown to reduce purchase and consumption in 17 countries with Mexico being one of them.

Let’s say in Australia, we put a 20% levy on sugary drinks, that would raise about A$600million which could then be used to fund health awareness initiatives and about 77% of Australians agree with this in principle,” added Muecke, giving light into his call for a sugar tax.

Back home in Adelaide, Dr. Muecke continues his advocacy work in awareness building and has called for a crackdown on sugar in drinks and processed foods, also a change in Australia’s dietary guidelines.

He spoke about how diabetes, one of leading causes of blindness among Australian adults could be sent into remission. Diabetes is a metabolic disease, caused by the over-consumption of sugar, refined carbohydrates and ultra-processed foods which are cheap and accessible. He mentioned the dangers of seed oils, and that we should be aware of the types of oils we’re consuming daily.

Australia’s dietary guidelines was last updated in 2013 and in a Facebook post, Muecke suggests a certain biasness that 80% of the recommended foods were plant-based. He came up with this proposed diamond (see diagram below), shifting sugar and heavily processed & grain fed meats to the opposite tips of the healthy eating diamond.

A 7News report quoted Dr. Muecke saying, there were three successful ways to place type-two diabetes in remission – low calorie diets, low carbohydrate diets or bariatric surgery. Of these, he said the low-carbohydrate diet was the easiest solution. also attended a webinar in November 2020, organised by the Australian Society of Opthalmologists. In that webinar, Dr. Muecke shared an imagery about glucose metabolism likening it to a packed train at peak hour. When too much glucose is ingested, insulin level rises and tries to push glucose into the blood stream, but it’s rejected. It’s then stored as glycogen instead in the liver, giving rise to fatty liver. Fructose – when taken up by the liver, almost a third of it is converted to fat so fructose is far more toxic than glucose! 

Dynamic duo

Dr. James Muecke was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012, then in 2015 he was EY’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year for Australia, and in 2019 received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Adelaide. It was the year of the Covid-19 pandemic, that Dr. Muecke was named Australian of the Year for 2020 and appropriately so, considering he is not going to be silent anymore and will be carrying the torch to highlight the fact that non-communicable lifestyle diseases like diabetes can be put into remission, and one of the ways to achieve that is to intervene with awareness first, followed by a change in lifestyle and importantly, diet. Partnering Dr. Muecke in advocacy and stewardship of the non-profit work is spouse Mena Muecke OAM, who also plays a vital role in the marketing and publicity of Sight For All and is a co-founder of the Vision 1000 social investment initiative. She was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2018. The Mueckes run private consultancy,

Follow Dr. Muecke on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or LinkedIn

The podcast also features:

Dr. YokeLi Ling

In this 7th episode of Season 1 of The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast, we also speak with Dr YokeLi Ling, based in Kuala Lumpur who is passionately advocating Sleep and Airway Centric Dentistry and Oral Myofunctional Therapy. Dr. Ling shares more details in the 8th episode of the podcast (click here) with co-hosts Nikki Yeo and Jasmine Low. 

Mia Palencia

Our tradition continues where we introduce music from this region and we’ve chosen a song titled SUPERMAN by Tassie-based Mia Palencia who launched her career in Malaysia at the age of 14 as the other half of Sabahan jazz duo Double Take. The song reflects the advocacy work that’s being undertaken by Dr. James Muecke AM – Australia’s SUPERMAN. Mia composed, produced and performed the opening night theme song for the Southeast Asian Games 2017, and continues her PhD research in Songwriting at the Conservatorium of Music, University of Tasmania and released her 7th album with her Australian jazz quartet, In Good Company. Visit

Available wherever you get your podcasts:

Public advocacy

We welcome messages from our listeners, and invite you to send us a voice message if you have comments or feedback for our guests.

Feel free to share and repost these visuals via your social media pages or messages. Thank you.

Now streaming – Dr. James Muecke AM, Australian of the Year 2020 wants to put diabetes in remission. Listen to the podcast on or wherever you get your podcast: “The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast”
Now streaming – Dr. James Muecke AM, Australian of the Year 2020 wants to put diabetes in remission. Listen to the podcast on or wherever you get your podcast: “The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast”
Now streaming – Dr. James Muecke AM, Australian of the Year 2020 wants to put diabetes in remission. Listen to the podcast on or wherever you get your podcast: “The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast”

More opinion pieces by Dr. James Muecke AM:

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AFT Interviews: World Vision’s Marilee Pierce Dunker

#RunForChildren in 2021 is a 42-minute virtual run to raise awareness and advocate for the 42 rights of children.

The World Vision Virtual #RunforChildren is back! Author and World Vision Ambassador Marilee Pierce Dunker is daughter to American missionary Dr Robert Pierce who founded World Vision in 1950 when he returned to America after travelling to China and Korea. There, he encountered people living without food, clothing, shelter or medicine. Team spoke to Marilee Dunker in Kuala Lumpur in May 2019 at the launch.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), children have 42 rights. These rights are based on what a child needs to survive, grow, participate and develop their full potential. They apply equally to every child, regardless of ethnicity, gender or religion. Learn more here.

Proceeds from the World Vision annual #RunForChildren are channelled to child protection efforts in Malaysia and overseas to support children’s safety, to call out violence when it occurs, and to work with survivors to heal and recover so children can experience a safe and secure childhood that will advance their sense of well-being.

When you sign up for #RunForChildren, you’ll be running for the child on your bib – to ensure that their rights are protected! Your participation helps give children a safe and secure childhood 👧👦🧡 It Takes You & I

Click here to visit the World Vision Malaysia page to join.

AFT Interviews: Malaysia’s “biggest” comedian Papi Zak: high uric acid got your tongue?

We captured some curious questions from Malaysia’s “biggest” standup comedian and debut wrestler, Papi Zak (, to Australia’s gastroenterologist and Instagram educator Dr. Pran Yoganathan (IG @dr_pran_yoganathan) – he spoke with us on Episode 3. Dr. Pran elaborates on the expensive tissue hypothesis (ETH) which relates brain and gut size in evolution (specifically in human evolution). Listen in to the trailer below for information on gout, uric acid on a high protein diet, our gut and metabolic health. 

The full episode of Ep. 4 with Papi Zak – listen below.

TV host & celebrity entertainer

Introducing Papi Zak, well known in the comedy circuit in Malaysia and the “biggest” Malaysia has to offer, states his website. For over 12 years, he’s written and performed material for his shows, and has fast established his quirky brand of humour and witty observations on the absurdities of every-day life. Zak was a former LiteFM and REDFM radio broadcaster and his comfortable presence in front of a camera has landed him screen work as the host of two television lifestyle programs – ‘The Halal Foodie’ and ‘Happy Endings’. Zak is currently the brand ambassador for Mr. Potato.

In doing our research on Papi Zak’s The Halal Foodie show, we found this bootleggish version translated and dubbed in Thai!

Papi Zak speaks to co-hosts Jasmine Low and Nikki Yeo in Episode 4 about his fitness journey – how he shed over 30kg from his 160kg stature, his childhood as a third culture kid, his mother’s amazing cooking, his new foray into wrestling and his quest to inspire others on the path towards fitness – just as he has. He also indulges us in his relationships… with food!

In this same episode, you’ll hear the voices of Dr. Pran Yoganathan, gastroenterologist featured in Ep. 3 and Dr. Desmond Menon, medical lab scientist from Ep. 2. Papi poses some curious questions Dr. Pran and together, we learn about gout, gut health, satiety, cholesterol levels and gout.

In the tradition of’s methods of using rhythm and movement as therapy, we introduce a comedy skit by Papi Zak at a TimeOut Kuala Lumpur show to seal off the episode. Tune in to the podcast to listen now.

Learn more about The Kurang Manis Podcast, click here:

AFT Interviews: Dr. Pran Yoganathan Gastroenterologist and passionate educator uses IG memes to drive understanding on satiety

Gastroenterologist and hepatologist based in Sydney, Dr. Pran Yoganathan is an extremely passionate educator, a Mathematician-turned doctor who aims to empower his patients with data that can help them on a journey of self-healing using the philosophy of “let food be thy medicine”.

Dr. Pran who has innovatively harnessed creative technology and 14,400 followers on Instagram @dr_pran_yoganathan, stresses that his educational memes are not medical advice or recommendations, simply his opinions — and rather strong science-backed opinions they are too!

In the podcast interview, Dr. Pran speaks about his diet of choice, which comprises predominantly of grass-fed steak and eggs and why that has raised eyebrows and temperatures not just in the oven, but in conversation with peers as well. We ask him about butyrate and got him all fired up and excited! Now, are WE ready to absorb the fact that we’re meant to burn fat for energy and not glycogen? Let’s save that for perhaps another conversation. 

Joining co-hosts Jasmine Low and Nikki Yeo in this same episode are Dr. Desmond Menon, medical lab scientist featured in Ep. 2 Do Our Genes Predispose us to Diseases of our Parents and Malaysia’s “biggest” stand-up comedian Papi Zak who’s in training to be a wrestler.

Together, we pose our numerous curious questions to Dr. Pran and have a content-packed conversation that’s science-based yet entertaining and revealing at the same time! Dr. Pran’s message is to “eat a diet that is not rubbish, move your body”, and he shares science in between some of his Instagram posts.

We ask him why he got into gastroenterology, his inspiration behind the Hippocrates’ philosophy “let food be thy medicine” and his personal dietary habits.

On the table, we discuss hunter gatherer societies in our modern world where Dr. Pran shares about the Hazda ethnic group from Tanzania and how they forage for food today.

Dr. Pran sheds some light on high fibre diets – a push by the standard Western Diet and how excess fibre can slow down gut motility, cause reflux and bloating and fundamentally IBS.

“If you’re going to deal with fibre, you need the machinery. That is why you see our primate cousins, like the chimps and gorillas tend to have a thick hind gut, a very big belly, that’s not visceral fat, it’s simply machinery to deal with rough fibrous tissue. That’s not my theory, that is a scientific fact and it’s called the expensive tissue hypothesis. It’s what makes us special in terms of our species; our brains grew in response to a shrinking gut.

Dr. Pran Yoganathan, gastroenterologist

Incidentally, on a side track, if you’re interested to deep dive into the Expensitve Tissue Hypothesis by American paleoanthropologist and professor emeritus of the University College London Leslie Crum Aiello – click here. She co-authored the textbook, “An Introduction to Human Evolutionary Anatomy”, which uses the fossil record to predict the ways early hominids moved, ate, and looked. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed these bite-sized pieces of information. Keep reading below for more about Dr. Pran’s credentials and to listen to the full podcast.

Click to view Dr. Pran’s posts on Instagram

More about Dr. Pran Yoganathan

Graduating from medicine from the University of Otago in New Zealand, Dr. Pran is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physician (FRACP) and a member of Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA). He has accredited expertise in Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and Colonoscopy as certified by the Conjoint Committee for the recognition of training in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Working across the public and private sectors in Greater Sydney, Dr. Pran has a strong interest in the field of human nutrition. He practices an approach to healthcare that assesses the lifestyle of the patient to see how it impacts on their gastrointestinal and metabolic health. Dr. Pran believes that the current day nutritional guidelines may not be based on perfect evidence and he passionately strives to provide the most up to date literature in healthcare and science to provide “Evidence-Based Medicine”. 

Dr. Pran has a special interest in conditions such as Gastro-oesophageal Reflux (GORD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and abdominal bloating. He takes a very thorough approach to resolve these issues using dietary manipulation In conjunction with an accredited highly qualified dietician rather than resort to long-term medications.

Ready to digest the podcast episode with Dr. Pran? Listen here:

In this BONUS edition for Spotify Listeners only – In the tradition of’s methods of using rhythm and movement as therapy, we introduce a song to seal off this episode. We have selected a mash-up song made popular by Yohani De Silva – a Sri Lankan singer songwriter and rapper, a social media star herself. Yohani did her Masters in Accounting at a Queensland university.