SUBANG JAYA-born Elena Tong is probably a familiar face around the neighbourhood where she grew up with her parents and two brothers. The life of this local young lady has now picked up speed after she was crowned as the winner of the Miss Plus World Malaysia 2021/2022 pageant grand finale gala in Kuala Lumpur in mid-January. Elena will represent Malaysia in the Miss Plus World 2022 pageant to be held in Texas, USA this March.

We caught up with Elena to find out how star-struck she is with her new crown and what she plans to do with this new platform before her.

I remembered a few people telling me that my life will be in public eyes the moment I win a pageant. Reflecting on my personal growth in the past couple of weeks, I’m learning to embrace this entire journey wholeheartedly.

I know I’ll never be able to please everyone. I might even lose some people along the way. However, I was reminded by someone that this is no longer just about me or my journey. I am now a step closer to having my voice heard. So, what will my message be?

I thought long and hard; and with the recent loss of Cheslie Kryst, Miss USA 2019, I realised I wanted to step up to bring change. And here’s why I chose self-redemption and mental empowerment.

“I can’t change anyone. Every one of us has our story, thoughts, perspective and experiences that had shaped us. Often, we feel the need to prove ourselves, or that we need to be strong. Yet, the one suffering is the person forcing his/her way through to be seen as someone good, kind, inspiring and/or empowering. At least, these are my own experiences trying to be the person I grew up believing I should be.

My dream is to work with like-minded people, to learn the ropes of what they’re doing, and to bring it back to Malaysia (and others around the globe) with the desire to empower those desiring to break their cycle, and create a new path.

I can only be a voice of hope and light. I can only be a cheerleader for others. But at the very end of the day, everyone needs to do their inner work to break through. My role is to find sustainable, long term solutions to support this journey for myself & others

We asked Elena a little bit more:

  1. What was it like growing up in Subang Jaya? How old are you now?

I am now 35 years old.

Growing in Subang Jaya was interesting. The emotions had always been mixed for me as the painful times, and the time of my unstoppable growth all falls back to this town I call my ‘kampung’.  One thing is for sure, these memories and experiences has led me to be the person I am today.

One of the greatest things about living in Subang Jaya is the community and the people. I grew up surrounded by all 4 major religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam since young. Being surrounded by different ethnicities in one location had opened my perspectives in cultures, religions and values. It is also the reason for my love for people.

The downside of living in Subang Jaya all my life was that I grew up being quite ignorant and egoistic about other places outside of this ‘kampung’ of mine. Before internet was much of thing, we could get almost everything here without going out of Subang Jaya. It came to a point an American friend of mine could share the history of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia which I didn’t know anything about at the age of 22-23. That was when I knew I had to live outside of this shell, to be curious, explore and experience more than just the blessings I have in life.

Now, I would say I am more balanced as I do travel out of Subang Jaya quite often for work, projects, and so on. Yet, I have to say that my heart will always be in Subang Jaya. I cannot imagine making it this far without my experiences in my ‘kampung’.

  1. What/Who made you decide to join the pageant?

My two co-writers of The Spunky, The Rebel & A Mama – Cordelia Lee & Eileyn Chua encouraged me to join since March 2021 when the registration was opened. Their exact words were, “We believe you can be the Queen!”  If I am not mistaken, it came to the point they were reminding me every couple of days to submit my application. Hahaha!

Ultimately, it was my decision to join the pageant. I was looking back at my achievements and journey on 13th May 2021, exactly a year after I decided not to take my life and instead give myself another chance. When I saw how much my life has changed, I decided to give myself the opportunity to explore, experience and embrace life so that I could see where life will take me in a year time.

  1. What’s your plan beyond winning the local pageant and potentially the international pageant? 

Depression and suicidal ideation are topics that are close to my heart. However, I am looking for solutions or at least methods that could help others transition to a more positive, solution-centric mind frame. Hence, I am looking forward to be working with both my national & international Miss Plus World pageant team and other initiatives as I develop further on my platform – “Self-Redemption and Mental Empowerment”. I believe that with a greater and more sustainable impact will be possible when work in collaboration to bring hope and light to others.

I am invested in opening doors of opportunities too through developing & conducting activities, initiatives, and programmes that enable others to empower themselves, take ownership of their lives and to discover their potentials. Just this coming March, I am invited to give talks to 3 different organizations with regards to women empowerment.

Now, a wild card opportunity is given and if you would like to support Elena in securing a place in the finals, you can vote for her in the “People’s Choice” Competition here:…/miss…/contestants/1762