Friday, November 02, 2007

theCicak Merdeka Essay Competition

Got an email from Yee Hoong today that thecicak "Unsung Hero" prize presentation would be on either the weekend of 17th or 24th. Would definitely hope that I could make it. It would be nice to meet with others there! And definitely, thank Yee Hoong for his nomination. The voting has closed. I guess whoever wins it, doesn't really matter.

To read all the nomination, go to theCicak.com

For mine, you could read at here in thecicak.com

A reproduction of what Yee Hoong wrote on me is as below:-

By CHOW YEE HOONG

“The most important thing in college is to learn how to learn. The present illiterates are those who cannot read and write but the future illiterates will most likely be those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

He started talking, and then mentioned the first sentence of his favorite quote as above; the sentence still lingers in my mind today.

This moment introduced me to this unsung hero who has significantly changed the lives of many, not to mention that of mine, with his sincerity, kindness, truthfulness, and passion.

I was completely impressed by how motivated and passionate he has been in promoting the best of others, and in his unflagging efforts to make this country a better place to live in. Once I thought phrases like “contribution to our country” and “nationalism” that he frequently mentioned were like those commonly seen in publications; those a lot of people slowly find to be mere clich├ęs. But it really did not take me long to be completely touched and influenced by his sincere actions, as he lives up to what he says about our wonderful country.

Referred to by his housemate as “the genius of multi-tasking” and well known to virtually everyone in his – our – former preparatory college as “the passionate senior who is always concerned about his juniors and helps them in any way he can,” he has been the organizer of tens, if not hundreds, of talks, events and get-togethers, all aimed at sharing the best with the communities around him. He started talking on-stage, in my former residential hall at least twice a year to help new students and graduating seniors transition from the typical Malaysian education system to the otherwise outlandish American education system.

Usually staying after the talks to answer any in-depth questions, it has not been unusual for him to stay throughout the night just to answer our questions. His great helping hand in college applications – including reviewing an average of thirty application essays a day– actually helped the admittances of a lot of students to top-notch schools. I still remember his words of “I might not have gotten admission to Harvard/MIT etc, but I have certainly received thank you notes from those who have.” He has constantly sacrificed his sleep, time and health to help us – without expecting nor receiving anything in return; a lot of us, on the other hand, because of his passion and sacrifice, really got what we wanted – the path to a better tertiary education leading to a better life!

A co-founder of ReCom.org, a leader of Discover U.S. Education – KL ’07, an active participant in charities such as World Vision, Mercy Malaysia, Cybercare, YMCA, assistant secretary of Malaysia Mensa Society… He spent the first 26 years of his life simply in promoting the virtues of great initiatives, ideas and organizations to everyone he knows! He wants others to succeed, and “will smile inside when someday, someone whom you helped tells you, ‘because of what you told me and helped me with, I succeeded in my life’”.

Yet he was just like the ordinary boy sitting right next to you in class! He was a reserved student, who then struggled through the tough transition from a Mandarin-speaking community to an English-speaking environment. He, who today inspires others with his English speeches, was one of the only eight in his freshmen class to undergo a remedial English course upon enrollment at college (His freshman class size was 3000 students). But he strived very hard. From his participation in Kadet Remaja Sekolah, he learnt to be more outgoing and soon developed his leadership qualities. With encouragement from his classmates and also by watching English movies, he eventually overcame his problem with the English language. With a scholarship from our Public Service Department, he then graduated from an Ivy League school in 2005.

But what makes him, again, remarkably different from any other student who works equally hard and is passionate about voluntary work is essentially his confidence in and compassion toward our country! “I would not be who I am today without my country. My parents would still not be able to afford even a year of my tuition after working for their entire life”. How often could you hear such appreciation toward our country spoken out by such a high achiever, when questioned about his devotion to Malaysia?

He absolutely believes in the great potential that this country holds, and that the different levels of societal contribution can eventually significantly improve any political and socio-economic issues. He has always been optimistic and without hesitation chose the constructive approach toward any comments about our nation. At this point, I cannot but quote him for his true words “I would want to see a united Malaysia, where all of us would not need to look at our differences, be it race, religion or gender, and focus to make Malaysia a better place”.

Now I have truly understood the drive behind all his efforts to help others without expecting anything in return!

Now I can fathom his sacrifice in promoting virtues to others neglecting even his own health – there is not a moment to lose to feed the need of talents and knowledge of the ever-growing child Malaysia!

Now, I deduce the reason I remembered his quotes and sayings so well: not because of what he has achieved, but of what he envisions, and the determination in him that altogether influence the communities around him – to build a great Malaysia.

Yet he is not yet lauded for his vision, his efforts in achieving that vision, nor his sacrifices; sometimes people even doubt his intentions and sincerity. The least I can now do is to dedicate these 1,000 words to this unsung hero who absolutely deserves it. To this special someone who has significantly influenced his immediate communities. I dedicate this composition to Yeoh Chen Chow, a former SMJK Jit Sin student and Cornell alumni who has been making a difference in our home Malaysia.

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