Featured Interview With Hong Wai Onn
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
My name is Hong Wai Onn. Hong is my surname, by the way. I’m a chemical engineer by training and profession. I was born and grew up in a small family in Ipoh, Malaysia. Ipoh is the city which is famous with its surrounding mountains, limestone caves and food. I am also proud that Ipoh was listed as one of the best Asian destinations to visit in 2016 by Lonely Planet, a travel portal in the world. After my secondary school, I attended Universiti Malaysia Sabah, where I studied chemical engineering. Right now, I’m staying at Kuala Lumpur, a federal territory and the capital city of Malaysia. This is where the tallest twin towers in the world is located.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
When I got involved in the Institution of Chemical Engineers, I often found myself drawing upon my experiences at one of the country’s leading oil palm plantation companies. I learned that many of the experiences and knowledge I gained are lessons from which any chemical engineer could benefit from. Through my speaking engagements, I realize that there was tremendous interest in the society in gaining a better understanding of the inner workings of this profession. The seed was planted, but I still had not decided to capture my experiences on paper. I gained the final commitment and motivation to write my first book after I had a coffee talk with Mahbob Abdullah, a veteran of the palm oil industry and author of “Planter’s Tales” and “Planter Upriver”. He passed me a book authored by him entitled “Now You Too Can Write!” and encouraged me to share my experiences with others in the form of writing, just as he did. That is how my first nonfiction memoir book, “A Chemical Engineer in the Palm Oil Milling Industry” came about in my late thirties.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I like to read autobiographies and biographies, business, memoir, and self-help. I have been influenced by every single book I have ever read. However, to keep this section a reasonable length, I’m counting Mahbob Abdullah and John Maxwell. Mahbob Abdullah wrote few books that made me want to write and publish my work. He shared his life as a plantation manager from a view of a very experienced Malaysian planter, rather than a European one. There are almost perfect stories in “Planter’s Tales” and “Planter Upriver”. His book “Now You Too Can Write!” has influenced me greatly too. John C. Maxwell wrote many books. He has influenced me the way I receive and participate in leadership along with public speaking.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
“A Chemical Engineer in the Palm Oil Milling Industry” is the first and also the latest book that I have published (in August 2020). Palm oil is a big business. Palm oil has been widely used in food and non-food industries. More than half the products on sale in supermarkets are made with palm oil—yet many people hardly know anything about this industry. They don’t even know chemical engineers have a significant role to play in this industry. Hence, I am motivated to write a book to provide a series of episodes for readers to discover the opportunities chemical engineers have in the palm oil milling industry. I hope this non-fiction memoir book could bring readers closer to the most enigmatic profession of all time. Well, I’m also excited to share that my book has received Literary Titan Gold Award and a 5-star review rating from Readers’ Favorite! The book is available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Kobo and other major retailers.
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