A true-blue KL-ite who has become an international personality is now seeking to mentor the younger generation.
SHE has been a child TV star, a model, an almost singing artiste and had a couple of multi-millionaire boyfriends to boot but yet Poesy Liang has pushed everything aside to become a mentor and a game changer.
This Imbi girl, who was raised in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, is quite a socialite who counts many rich and famous as her close personal friends. In fact, on the eve of my interview with her, Poesy had Isabella Soliano over to help her clean her house after a leaking roof episode. (Isabella, a popular jazz singer, is the daughter of the late Alfonso Soliano who was a well-known musician and composer in the 1950s and 60s.)
But yet, I had never heard of Poesy until about a week ago although she looked familiar. She was the face of the Levis jeans adverts over 20 years ago when she was just 14 years old. She also hosted RIM Chart Show in 1998 on ntv7.
But for the life of me, I did not know who she was and what she had done. A quick research on the Internet showed that there has been quite a bit written about her and she does have thousands of friends on Facebook.
She has lived a life that would fill several lifetimes but Poesy has had several life-changing moments that act as milestones which have kept her reinventing herself.
Her health issues, immature decisions, rich boyfriends and artistic capabilities have turned this 37-year-old woman from a spoilt brat into a person who is aware of her surroundings and the need to play an active role to help shape the world.
One cannot help but admire Poesy’s gumption after hearing of her health problems – tumours grew in her spinal cord and she was left paralysed after two surgeries. She has been having tumour growth since 1992 when she was at the height of her popularity at age 17.
Then within a year she learnt to walk again but “I walk visually because I have no more feelings in my legs.”
But it all came crashing down when in 2003 she needed another surgery for the same problem.
“I had to learn to walk all over again. The second time wasn’t any easier but I was determined to do it,” said Poesy.
Three years later she had to go to Stanford University for a “clean-up surgery” to tackle the rest of her spinal tumours. She was treated by the inventor of Cyberknife surgery, neurosurgeon Dr John R. Adler using that very technology. It cost US$80,000 (RM253,000) and before she could raise enough money for the treatment, Poesy broke up with her rich boyfriend “because I did not want him to think that I was sticking to him just for the money”.
“I am grateful for the assistance he and his family gave me but I needed to do this on my own.”
Poesy did not come from a rich family but it was one of the pioneers of Jalan Imbi back in the 1960s. She still lives in her family home which she has also turned into her art studio.
On Aug 30, 2007, Poesy set up the Helping Angels movement — an NGO with a loose connection of volunteers held together through a Facebook page — to recruit volunteers to do welfare work.
“There are four exclusive rules in Helping Angels — no involvement in fund-raising or collection of donations, no commercial marketing activities, no political rallying activities and no religious evangelism.
“All activities are funded privately, to offer opportunities for volunteers to use their ability and time to help others,” she said.
The phrase “random act of kindness” is repeatedly used by Poesy during our interview and she defined it as “the donation of time and effort, with less emphasis on material and money charity.”
In five years, Poesy’s movement, which now has over 2,200 members, has spread from Malaysia to Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, the US, Europe, Africa and Hong Kong.
At home, Poesy and her fellow volunteers have started Thursday Tutoring — a programme to tutor children at various shelter homes around the Klang Valley.
“Helping Angels travel with me. Everywhere I go I try to do a random act of kindness. Like when I was in Senegal, I bought small boxes of colour pencils and pieces of paper and gave it to the kids I met in a poor area.
“One of the mothers asked me why was I doing this crazy thing and I told her that who knows maybe from all the kids who got the colour pencils, one of them may turn out to be a great artist,” Poesy said as a way to explain the Helping Angels movement.
Her next project is called the Green Humanity for the Environment.
“We want to show that there cannot be compassion, kindness and empathy towards humanity without showing compassion, kindness and empathy towards Mother Earth.
“We will be coming up with Random Acts of Kindness towards Mother Earth,” said Poesy, who points out that all these projects come from other members of Helping Angels.
Asked about today’s youth, Poesy said she enjoyed mentoring them because “the youth of today are leaders of tomorrow and I definitely want to change the world.”
There is a real Asian drama series to rival the best Korean soap opera to be gotten from Poesy’s life and knowing her, she will probably want a famous actress to play the lead role.
Why not? She is an inspiration.