Carol Lee: Under Lockdown But Work Comes First (Part 2 Of 2)

2020 is definitely a year without precedent. Countries worldwide are imposing total or partial lockdown due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. As we quarantine, whether alone or with loved ones, we grasp on the last thread of sanity. Previously, Carol Lee shared in length about her life journey. From becoming a model to clinching the Mrs Universe 2013 title. In this part, I discuss with Carol Lee how she keeps up with her daily routine during lockdown. Also what work and activities she’s doing.

Carol at home preparing house work which is lunch
Carol Lee at her home in Mont Kiara preparing lunch during lockdown.
Source: Image by Carol Lee

Passion For The Neighbourhood Community Work

For the past three years Carol has been active with community work in Mont Kiara. She and a group of committee members sit on board the Mont Kiara Consultative Council (MKCC). They cater to the community needs of majority of Mont Kiara condominiums’ residents. Even during this COVID-19 lockdown, it hasn’t stopped her from working with her committee members to organise activities.

“We have organised games and activities for the residents to participate in. So that they won’t fall into the mundane routine of staying home. We have got plenty of F&B outlets sponsoring vouchers and discount coupons. This is a means of supporting our activities and the response has been very positive.”

Carol lee, mont kiara consultative council member
Community work of Carol Lee during the townhall meeting with Malaysia's Federal Territories Minister in 2018
Carol Lee, seated far right, as the moderator listening attentively to the then Federal Territories Minister, YB Tuan Haji Khalid Abd Samad during a townhall dialogue in December 2018. Seated far left is YB Hannah Yeoh, the Member of Parliament of Malaysia for Segambut constituency in Kuala Lumpur.
Source: Image by Carol Lee

Carol also didn’t hesitate to speak out against the netizens for highlighting Mont Kiara in a negative light recently. “I just want to make one thing clear about the recent news on Mont Kiara residents when the lockdown started. Our social media platforms were sensationalising on the news about several residents from Mont Kiara. Caught jogging in the morning and evening, they became an instant poster child of errant Mont Kiara inhabitants. I just want to say you can’t stereotype all Mont Kiara residents as being non-compliant to the law. There are still plenty of us who reside in Mont Kiara and adhere to the law and rules. We take the order of staying at home seriously!”

Urgent Humanitarian Work

Renowned for her work with the Mont Kiara residential community, Carol is also quick in making decisions. One example is when donating food and provisions for the marginalised foreign workers in Kuala Lumpur. Specifically those located in Kampong Segambut Tengah.

With all non-essential businesses ordered closed, the workers had to stay home when the government implemented the ‘Movement Control Order’ (MCO). Unfortunately, these people are earning daily wage and barely have any savings. Carol took the initiative to contact the Chairman of Kampong Segambut Tengah Society, Abdullah Imbi to brainstorm a solution and he is also responsible for helping underprivileged families living in Kampong Segambut Tengah.

There are about 250 foreign workers such as Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Indonesians, and many more who share rented houses in Segambut Tengah. These foreign workers have even approached the Society in the hopes of borrowing money. The situation is such that the foreign workers do not even have enough to buy groceries.

Carol Lee in the middle with the workers of Kampong Segambut Tengah Community, distributing food for the migrant workers
Carol Lee (middle) with the team from Kampong Segambut Tengah Society before setting out to distribute food to the foreign workers.
Source: Image by Carol Lee

“Desperate times call for desperate measures. Some of them have actually approached the Society to ask for help before. They might be ashamed to ask for money but they really don’t have anything to eat”. Carol raised funds from her personal friends for groceries.

The Fasting Month During Quarantine

“I targeted 150 sets of groceries, valued at MYR50 each set,” explained Carol. “Eventually I managed to raise MYR8,000 which can feed around 150 families. Each set includes rice, eggs, flour, sugar, salt, coffee/tea, cooking oil, milk, canned food, etc. Plus I understand that this MCO will extend into the month of Ramadhan. It will be the time Muslims will be fasting, and they need daily provisions to break their fast.”

When asked how about the foreign migrant workers and the underprivileged families during the fasting month, Carol steadfastly said, “Yes! We shall continue to support them, as most of them are Muslims. We are here to help what we can. I will keep on raising funds to provide for essential food items for those in need during this MCO.”

Humanitarian Work Paved The Way For Her To Win Mrs Universe Title

In 2013, Carol began her humanitarian work with a women’s NGO group called ‘All Women’s Action Society’ (AWAM). It is a platform to provide help and services to abused and discriminated women, due to gender inequality.

Carol shares, “I initiated the Nationwide Campaign Against Domestic Violence and it was sponsored by KL Sogo. In collaboration with AWAM, where we had gone to every state in West Malaysia to educate women on their rights. We updated them on the revised Domestic Violence Act 2013 and provided information on whom they could approach for help. If they are involved in or someone whom they know is suspected to be involved in domestic violence, they can promptly seek help. We also had male participants join the seminar and also heard their stories of being abused by women.”

In the same year, Carol Lee won the Mrs Universe title in the Caribbean island of Aruba. And one of the reasons for her win was impressing the judges of the pageant with her PowerPoint presentation. She spoke of her humanitarian work with AWAM, advocating women against domestic violence. Carol Lee made history when she was the first Asian and Malaysian to win the Mrs Universe title. She believes that such advocacy paves the way for others to follow her footsteps.

From Glamorous Work To Humanitarian Work

Carol met countless number of abused women while working with AWAM. Carol says, “Despite the fact that many women have been physically abused by their husband, they still remain in the marriage due to the fact that they still love their husband. They are not financially independent and can’t bear the thought that their child or children will grow up without a father. The ladies don’t know where or whom to go to for help, amongst other reasons. This type of mentality alone speaks volumes of the conditions of women in rural areas. Maybe because the women are dependent on their husbands financially or emotionally. What I want to tell women experiencing similar fate is to put your emotions and health first. It is important to prioritise your self-worth.”

Carol Lee with AWAM ngo advocating against domestic violence
Carol Lee working with the NGO team of All Women’s Action Society, against domestic violence in 2013.
Source: Image by Carol Lee

Carol explains that the relationship dynamics is different between rural and urban areas. “There are plenty of women in the city who are struggling as single mothers. These ladies will find ways to sustain themselves by becoming small time entrepreneurs. They will sell nasi lemak at the road side in the morning. They bake cakes and cookies from home or even tailor clothes from home. The point is for them to find their own income, sharpen their skills and depend on themselves!

Do not ever feel like you need to stay with a man just because he can provide for you. My advice to them is to be able to make a stand for themselves and not to let anyone lay a finger on them, as they have no right to do so. Women’s rights equal to human rights. There are many women NGOs who would be able to assist them, if they need help.”

Past Errors And Obstacles

There was an incident that happened in 2018, when Carol found out that there were people in the society who were involved in fraudulent acts and she had exposed their wrongdoings. Despite her stand for doing what’s right, she ended up being eliminated from the society in an unprecedented manner. Her learning from this incident is this, not to give up easily and also not to allow her emotions to dictate her action.

There are times we make wrong choices in handling situations. If it was a wrong choice, we need to look at why it was wrong and learn from that mistake. Subsequently, to try out other options in order to achieve the desired results. “I will always remember what Thomas Edison said, ‘I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb’.”

Future Work Projects And Plans

When asked what her plans and future projects are after the MCO, Carol mulls getting back into the big screen. “As long as I am comfortable with the roles, I still want flexible hours to be with my family. However, I do feel more natural and comfortable hosting programmes and shows because I have had experienced that before.”

Initially Carol wanted to expand her child enrichment centre, called Starz Studio. It is a place to groom young girls into becoming future beauty contestants. Carol explains, “It’s a centre where we teach the foundation of confidence and try to empower them. I hope the public won’t judge my students by their looks alone. But also by their intelligence, charisma and poise. We want the world to know that Malaysian beauty queens can make a difference.”

Carol Lee modelling for a fashion magazine
What does 2020 have in store for Carol Lee?
Source: Image by Carol Lee

Carol is also dipping her hands into social media platform such as doing YouTube and Instagram videos. “Of course, I need to think of interesting contents to attract the younger generation. I also need to buy the equipment first! My daughter, she can teach me, but I’m very much looking forward to try something new,” Carol concludes.

Beauty With A Big Heart In A Multitasking World

Carol Lee has definitely impressed me. She is no ordinary public persona. What strikes me the most is her humility and positive energy. From the glamour world transitioning into community and humanitarian work. This is a true definition of ‘Jill Of All Trades.’ She is already a role model to me. Just like a star, she will just go further in life, succeeding in whatever industry she enters.

Are you concerned about your emotional well-being during this MCO? Read up on how you can still stay safe at home. Keep your mental wellness together by learning to stay home. We share because we care!

This article is part of Espoletta’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives.

About Hazwani CHE DIN

Spent her childhood spread across several countries, Wani truly understands global cultures. Advocates fine art, and organises artisanal bazaar to promote them. What's next? Well, she plans to continue exploring uncharted areas; and continue immersing in and learning foreign cultures.

One Reply to “Carol Lee: Under Lockdown But Work Comes First (Part 2 Of 2)”

  1. Pingback: Beauty Queen: Carol Lee's Spanning Career (Part 1 Of 2) - Espoletta

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