We could do with more Lats and Nicols

I LIKE Nicol David. She is smart, savvy and she plays great squash. And according to a recent survey by Reader’s Digest, among all the famous personalities in the country, the one Malaysians trust the most is Nicol.

CIMB, her long-time sponsor, got it spot-on when they paid tribute to her “passion and tenacity, and her drive for continued success, that has resulted in her outstanding track record in competitive squash.”

Although I don’t know her personally, her public persona clearly indicates an individual who has got her foundations right from the very start.

When she wins, she does not go overboard with her success. And when she loses, she does not sulk. Her motto is always to do her best and to move on.

I get the feeling that she is somewhat uncomfortable with the accolades at times, including being awarded a datukship at such a tender age.

When she was featured in our 10 Questions column in StarBizWeek recently, her answers were short and to the point.

Asked how she coped with success, she said: “Everything good that has happened in my life is a bonus. I understand that I’m a squash player doing what I do best and I love this game. I also have a very supportive family as well as good people around me to keep me in my place.”

I remember her father well. In those heady days in the 1970s when Penang had the best football team in the country, it was Desmond David who had the safest pair of hands among all the goalkeepers.

Another person on the list is Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid, better known as Lat. To those who have had the privilege of knowing him up close and personal, Lat is quite similar to Nicol in many ways.

He is shy and unassuming, and despite all the accolades that have been heaped on him, he is still very much the regular guy next door.

I met up with Lat again recently when he was bestowed the 1Malaysia award by the National Press Club. We were at the same table and talking about old times. Lat’s wit is legendary. And he is probably the only Malaysian who can say anything about anyone and yet never cause offence.

Like Nicol, he was also featured in our 10 Questions column and reader Bulbir Singh posed him this question: “Having seen and enjoyed your cartoons for some decades now, I notice with pleasure that you have a Sikh in a crowd of people that you depict. What, if anything, influenced you to do that?”

Lat’s reply: “Thanks, I’m very glad you have noticed him. I have always wanted to include every Malaysian and we live in a country where diversity should always be our strong point. It is not a weakness.”

Reflecting on these two individuals, it struck me that we certainly could do with more Lats and Nicols. Optimistic, dependable, delivering when you need them to, and always humble despite their achievements.

Just think what successes a corporation – and a nation – could achieve with such people on board.

>Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin is mindful that in the quest for upward mobility, one needs good role models as signposts along the way.

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