For the past 15 years, the Johor Arts Festival was synonymous with one name, Suzie Yap. Suzie was the Festival Director and along with her husband Yap Siong Cheng, who founded the Johor Society for the Performing Arts (JSPA), created Malaysia’s longest-running Arts Festivals as a platform for the performing arts and fashion scene of Johor.
Going back in time, Suzie and her husband wondered why they had to drive up to four hours to KL or sit in a two-hour jam to Singapore to catch a live performance. They also thought it was a pity for the young people in JB who are not able to go to Singapore or KL for creative pursuits and platforms for self-expression offered by the arts.
To change that, she and her husband planted seeds of the arts in their own communities first. They organised small gatherings with friends who did play readings, truly-Malaysian improv sketches, and other fun activities to unwind in the evenings.
Over time, they changed the landscape of the “cultural desert” as, overtime, the arts scene blossomed as they embarked on bigger projects in the arts.
Recognising her efforts, Suzie won the inaugural Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards (IMSHA) in 2014 under the Arts, Culture & Heritage individual category while JSPA won for the organisation category.
On the 17th of October 2019, while the 6th IMSHA was being held, Suzie was fighting her final battle with cancer and exhaled her last breath at 8.40pm.
Suzie will always be remembered for her grit and uncompromising attitude. Her determination and passion for promoting the arts and culture stands as a benchmark for others. She has led, trained, motivated, and inspired many to be their best regardless of the circumstances.
A wake is being held at Suzie’s home at 84, Jalan Wijaya in Taman Century until Oct 21.
“Passion and inspiration are the 1%. Perspiration is the 99%. Be ready to cry in frustration, be ready to feel like you have no idea what you’re doing and be ready to face doubters every step of the way,” – Suzie Yap.