Yang Guang Ke Le’s Parents Used To Own 4 Restaurants In Malaysia And Were Doing Well Until Recession Hit - 8days Skip to main content



Yang Guang Ke Le’s Parents Used To Own 4 Restaurants In Malaysia And Were Doing Well Until Recession Hit

The Malaysian actress-host appeared on the last episode of Hear U Out, where she spoke about becoming a getai performer at 13 and dropping out of school to help her family financially.

Yang Guang Ke Le’s Parents Used To Own 4 Restaurants In Malaysia And Were Doing Well Until Recession Hit

Mediacorp stars Yang Guang Ke Le, 25, and Desmond Ng, 35, may be a decade apart in age, but they had very similar showbiz beginnings.

They used to perform at getai shows, and also participated in different seasons of reality competition show, Getai Challenge. Desmond was the champ of the 2015 instalment, while Ke Le finished in the Top 5 of the 2018 season.

Appearing as guests on the last episode of Hear U Out, Desmond and Ke Le spoke about their love for performing, and their reasons for joining getai in the first place.

Before she joined showbiz, Ke Le was a full-time getai performer

Desmond and Ke Le are currently full-time artistes with Mediacorp, but both have clauses in their contracts that allow them to return to getai for performances.

While Desmond joined getai as a singer as a way to fulfil his dream of becoming a singer, Ke Le, who first went on stage when she was just 13, had to perform to help with her family’s financial situation.

As a child, Ke Le, whose birth name is Lau Jia Yi, had already developed a love for performing and participated in many talent competitions.

“Before I was 12, my parents used to run a business. They owned four restaurants and were doing quite well, so my mum had the ability to send me for [dance and other] lessons. It was expensive to go for such classes, as I would have to pay an enrolment fee to enter competitions and [I] don’t really get anything in return besides a trophy. So it’s just something you spend money on,” Ke Le said of her childhood.

“Then the economy went into recession, and all their businesses folded. We moved from a big house to a rented house, and we were so poor that we didn’t have money for our meals. We would go to our car to look for spare change that we had thrown aside. We started looking for the small amount of cash that we used to take for granted, and we would have rice, plain vegetables and egg for meals,” she recalled.

Her family had to close down their restaurants during the economic recession 

At that time, Ke Le, who is from Johor where she lived with her parents, older sister, older brother, and their pet dog, was about to turn 13. That was also when she started performing at getai.

“For my very first getai performance, I was [covering] for a Jie Jie, whom I used to go to competitions with, as she was on medical leave. I agreed to perform so I could earn some money,” said Ke Le.

She revealed that she earned 80 ringgit (S$24) for that one performance. However, the venue was very far from home. So after deducting her transport fare, she did not earn very much.

Ke Le eventually came to the realisation that she could help her family financially by performing. She also thought that it was “her calling”.

“Every day after returning home from school, I would ask my mom if we received any calls [from people asking me to] perform. I felt that if I performed, I would have money to maybe buy some fish and meat [for my family],” said Ke Le, with tears brimming in her eyes.

“Of course my brother and sister were working too. They were promoters and would earn maybe 30-40 ringgit (S$9-12) for a 12-hour work day. It was still less than what I earned from singing six songs. So I felt like it was my mission,” she continued.

Her eyes welled up with tears as she spoke about wanting to ease her family's financial burdens

Host Quan Yifeng wanted to know if Ke Le had time for school.

“That’s why lor," said Ke Le. "I was fully focused on singing and earning money. And during that time, after coming to Singapore to perform, I also went to Indonesia."

"I slowly lost interest in studying,” added Ke Le, revealing that she dropped out of school at 15.

Though she started working at a young age and was unable to complete her studies, Ke Le never complained or blamed anyone. Neither did she ever stop to think ‘why me’.

“I feel like not everyone can do what I did. If I didn’t have the skills [to perform], like my sister and brother, I would feel very helpless. They wanted to earn money for the family, but they didn’t really have a way to do it. I did,” she explained.

Ke Le and her mum

Ke Le never felt like she missed out on a happy childhood, because she “managed to earn money at a very young age”.

“So while you were performing, you never felt resentful or regretful? Or even unwilling?” asked Yifeng.

“No. I feel like if I [want to] earn money, I have to be professional, and just do it,” said Ke Le, who admitted that it was most important to her that she could earn a living.

“I’m also very stingy. I’m stingy to myself, but I would not spare any expense when it comes to my family. I wouldn’t buy anything expensive for myself, and when I became more financially capable, I also helped to support my family,” said Ke Le.

“People might think that I’m only doing this for my family, but when I see my family members supporting me, I feel like [everything I do] is worth it,” she continued.

Photos: meWATCH, Yang Guang Ke Le/ Instagram

To find out more about how Ke Le and Desmond adapted to local showbiz, watch the full episode of Hear U Out on meWATCH, or catch it below. 



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