Friday, December 14, 2007

Tzuo Hann's Cycling Home

As blogged earlier, Tzuo Hann, a fellow Malaysian from Duke who is cycling back from U.S. to Malaysia is now on his journey to cycle back home. Today, is his exact 200 days anniversary of his cycling and I would like to strongly urge every reader of my blog to fully support Tzuo Hann. He intends to raise RM1 Million for St.Georges' Institution, National Cancer Society and MAA-Medicare Kidney Charity Fund.

For more info of his fund raising, go to , and for his journal go to here .

Tzuo Hann has written an article on his reasons behind fund raising a couple of weeks back. It is at here

His spirits are definitely very high and definitely a role model for many of us, as Malaysians.

Do read it in full here
At the point of writing this, I've met up with the old man in Turpan and have talked to him face to face about how the charity is progressing. I figure, its time to write something about its progress from my perspective.

This will be long. There are a lot thoughts worth entertaining and too many people to thank.

>>>>>>Some background, personal motivation.

A friend from Duke once related to me a philosophical viewpoint that basically says that the physical consequence of action when given the oppurtunity to act is the same regardless of the moral cost of the situation.

A little twisty for the head to wrap about. Take the following example.

The moral cost of not feeding a child about to die of malnourishment is much lower than that of ignoring an organization collecting the funds to feed the same starving kid. The physical consequence is the same. The kid dies.

Philantrophy, charity and community service is addictive and is a trait that needs nurturing. I read this from somewhere respectable, not BS.

Ignorance is bliss. With awareness however, it would be a moral crime to not do anything about it. It would be minimally acceptable to engage in some form of charity but as the saying goes, "Better do it with a bang."

>>>>>>The idea is formed and we write down some goals.

The fundraising website has material that was hastily put together by a group of people, myself included who have absolutely no experience with fundraising, have little time and have minimal support from the powers that be. A lot of it is under construction and being developed as time goes by. What I write here and the contents of the fundraising website might be mutually exclusive tho not contradictory.

After cycling across America and knowing damn well that I can complete the journey home, the old man with the generous assistance of many friends and wellwishers, some of which I have never met before joined me in this ambitious project to

- fundraise for 3 worthy organizations

- develop an awareness among Malaysians, particularly the younger generation, that ventures like these are possible and well worth the effort.

- to damn well have a good time and to have some fun and excitement of our own doing something for our beloved country and its people.

Also, I owe the Malaysian people a big one for funding my tertiary education. Although I am 'giving' it back by reaching into as many pockets as possible, I still think this counts towards the neverending debt.

>>>>>>The old man steps in, and few more folks hop on.

My initial idea was a simple website interface to collect funds but I talked to the old man about it and he seemed to think it wasn't too bad an idea. He even offered to 'run' the effort from Malaysia so that I could concentrate on the cycling. Personally, I think he just wants something to do for the law firm is ever so quiet. :0

We have a few conversations (and arguments) over the phone. We argued over who the beneficiaries should be, how non-political, non-racial and non-religious the effort should be and so on and so forth. I personally wanted the effort to be one of the 'rakyat''s (people) and the rakyat's alone without any influence from anyone with any political affiliation. It is true by and large in the real world that invariably, such efforts do require some political big shot presense to be a success but I am young, stupid and still think one completed without such influed is purer, truer to its ideals and one worth pursuing. But the old man slaps some sense into me and we have proceeded smoothly so far with some deviations from my Utopian fundraiser.

Dad also makes a few phone calls and talks to a few other folks around. Again, I think its just an excuse to order a few more rounds of beers most of the time, but hey, its for charity. The Old Georgians Association (OGA) steps in. Well, I am an Old Georgian too by virtue of graduating from a LaSallian school in hometown Taiping by the name of St George's Institution. Having the OGA on board is great for it not only means a more eager (I hope) hands but it also eliminates the need for the effort to form a new organization or society just to fundraise.

A few calls also go out to friends in Malaysia and in the States. More people hop on the party bus. We are good to go.

No one besides those from Malaysian Cancer Society and MAA-Medicare (Not US Medicare) has any experience fundraising on such a scale. We are shooting for a figure in the region of 1.5million ringgit and to for the message to reach the entire country. In many ways, the whole project is a dive into cold, unknown water for everyone invested in it at this moment. I have no experience cycling and those at home working on the fundraising have no experience with such work. 4 months down, I hope they are enjoying the challenge as much as I am enjoying the ride.

Even more, I hope they continue thinking that I am doing the hard work. Actually, I am out for a holiday, having a good time being jobless while they are running about government offices, in and out of companies, trying to coordinate efforts, so on and so forth. There is no way this project would have developed without the efforts of many of the folks who raised their hands to help. A few individuals, some of whom I don't even know have contributed blood, sweat and tears literally to move things along and I cannot wait to personally thank them back home.


A project of this size, especially when run by an inexperienced bunch naturally has growing pains. Although I personally do not experience first hand any of it, I can almost feel how difficult it is to coordinate an effort that involves many profesionals with little time, government offices, printers, the media, donors, etc etc etc. The frustrations come from both within the organization and from external sources. They range from waiting too long for a phone call to be returned to pulling hair out waiting for an official approval from the government to proceed on matters. Lots and lots to endure and work through.

Another thing that really makes me want to massacre many Malaysians en masse (I'm sorry) is how often the race and language issue is brought up. I bloody know that given our complicated race based political fabric, such issues are unavoidable but it is high time we (learn to) flush it down the toilet and focus on whats important. In this case, what is important is that a bunch of folks who have nothing to gain financially are sticking in time, effort and money for a noble effort that they hold dear. In this case, we are fundraising for a school and two national organizations fighting major killers in Malaysia. Yet, issues such as the racial buildup of the organizing comittee, the language that we use to go about our work are brought up again and again. BAH!

What really hurts me and I will mention it since I am Chinese is that some Chinese who don't speak English even cite the lack of Chinese language as the reason for not chipping in. My poor father took great pains to translate parts of the donation form and also parts of my journal and yet, some say, not enough. Goddamit, it just so happens that I sucked at being Chinese enough to not learn the language, thats why so much is in English.

The list of tough stuff goes on and on and I just want to sound it out to the masses that a whole bunch of dedicated people are working on this project with nothing to gain and trying to please as many people as possible. Not easy at all.

>>>>>>Bike for Malaysia

We are also trying to organize a bike ride from the Thailand-Malaysia border back to Taiping when I get home. Its got a whole load of rules and such attached to it at the moment, but when things get finalized, it will be as simple as show up, bike for 3 days, have a good time on and off the road and having a heckuva meal at the end.

I really hope the event, if it happens, encourages people to ride bikes and also generates enough media coverage to inspire others to give and to believe that such projects can be run with minimal support from the government. Malaysia is getting in a lousy habit, I fear of using the rakyat's hard earned cash for projects like this one. I'll write more on this closer to home.

>>>>>>Lack of youth involvement

I keep reiterating that young Malaysians are the group that really should wake up to the fact that being in a rat race for cash and career advancement is not the only thing important. Its not the only way to expend the energy and vibrance of youth. I've brought this up with friends and on the Internet. Despite receiving many pats on the back and many 'Sweet thing you are doing there', there has been way too few hands shooting up and asking 'What can I do?'

Its funny advocating a message and being supported by a whole bunch of people (I'm sorry) who well qualify as my parents. They too are agreeing with my conviction and wondering where in the hell the younger folks are.

Cummon guys, you can make cash and find time to give as well. You can't take cash to your grave but others can take flowers and memories to it. Thats the truth.

>>>>>>Final thoughts and thanks for now

A huge, huge thank you to the folks who have so generously offered to help and have jumped into mighty unknown waters for a young punk cycling home. Unknown waters because those helping are inexperienced and are learning from many frustrating mistakes. Generous because they are not gaining anything from it.

As the project grows and more and more people get involved, I am gradually learning what it is like to work in Malaysia's complex political climate. I have much to say about how this relates to it, but those thoughts will have to wait for a while as events unfold.

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