In 2020, when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented in Malaysia, some had experienced depression and anxiety when they lost their jobs or when their businesses failed.
However, not everything was doom and gloom as it was in June 2020 that Goh Siew Mei launched her Auntie Boleh Facebook page.
To date, Auntie Boleh has conducted 137 Facebook Live interviews with people from all walks of life ranging from politicians to food hawkers, fishermen, artists and musicians, among others, in Johor. The interviews are in Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mandarin.
The vibrant 63-year-old, who always dons a hat during her interviews — she currently has more than 50 hats — decided to start the Facebook page because she loved sharing stories, having started out as a citizen journalist when she was younger. Another reason for starting the page was because she wanted to build her legacy.
“My dear friend, Fung Lee Jean had helped me a lot, especially in setting the direction for me. We also came up with the name Auntie Boleh together as we wanted a local character whom most Malaysians could relate to.”
“True enough people do invite me to their restaurants for food reviews or to their events because they wanted an Auntie’s perspective, instead of having only the presence of pretty young influencers,” said Goh.
Goh said that her interviews or meet-ups with politicians like Tony Pua, Yeo Bee Yin, Hannah Yeoh, Teo Nie Ching and Liaw Cai Tung, among others had garnered to as many as 30,000 views.
“I was surprised but I don’t really care about the number of views. I’m doing this for fun and it’s not for monetary gains. Sometimes people asked me whether I have a crew to film and edit my videos. I said how could I possibly afford to hire a crew when I don’t charge for my work. I do everything myself — from shooting the video to editing and designing the video cover using Canva,” she said.
Asked if she ever felt fearful or anxious before each interview, Goh said that at the beginning she was.
“I left school after sitting for the Malaysian Certificate of Education (MCE) and I have worked as an admin executive until my retirement. After my retirement, I became bored and depressed. So I joined the Johor Baru Happy and Joyous Club where I took part in activities like clowning and laughter yoga, and all these have helped me build my self-esteem and self-confidence.
“I easily overcame my fears, especially when I meet up with politicians and celebrities. Of course I need to prepare the questions in advance.
“My Auntie Boleh moniker has also helped me widen my network. I started learning the “guzheng” (a Chinese plucked instrument) after my meet-up with Lam Zipeng,” she said.
Lam Zipeng has a Bachelor’s degree in Arts (Guzheng, Ruan) from the China Conservatory of Music. Here is a video of her meet-up with Lam
Goh added that she has always liked music and could play the electronic organ as well as the 24-festive drum.
Here is another video of her meet-up with a fisherman in Kg Pendas, Gelang Patah.
“I believe consistency is the recipe for success. Since 2020, I have yet to miss a single meet-up which I usually set on a Saturday. There was one occasion where the person had to re-schedule the interview to a Friday.
“I believe age is just a number. One does not have to be bogged down by grey hair — it can always be dyed or you can wear a hat! As long as you have good health and a growth mindset, one can explore and experience all that life has to offer,” she said.
Auntie Boleh can be reached at her Facebook page here. She is also on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram.