He was born in Kelantan, lives in Sarawak and is 'Malaysian first'

Lecturer Chuah Kee Man

For most of his life, Chuah Kee Man, 34, has lived by the Arabic saying “Man jadda wa jada”.

It was taught to him by a teacher in his schooling years, and means “Only those who work hard will get what they want”.

“I love this, not only because of the meaning, but the fact that the word ‘man’ in the saying reminds me of myself since my name ends with ‘Man’.

“So, it’s like an inner voice that reminds me to give my best in everything, and therefore I live with that philosophy in my life,” muses Chuah.

Chuah – whose hometown is Tanah Merah, Kelantan – has spent almost 13 years living in Sarawak.

“I am currently a lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, majoring in English Language teaching and Cognitive Linguistics,” explains Chuah.

Asked what the best part about being Malaysian is, he answers: “Being able to learn and embrace the diversity of cultures, languages and beliefs of the different races living together in Malaysia, without the fear of losing one’s own identity.

“I personally believe I have grown into a unique breed – of ‘a Malaysian first’ – whereby I can speak multiple languages fluently and also appreciate various cultural practices openly.”

Being in Malaysia, Chuah feels that everyone has the right to highlight their differences, even if they come from different backgrounds.

“We can still come together in sharing some common humanitarian values that we hold in our respective communities.

“Living in a rural area of Sarawak, we still share many common national borders and values and a love for peace and harmony among my family and the people here.”

Chuah concludes: “Even if we disagree on certain things, we still continue to respect each other with the knowledge that none of us wants to do any harm.

“Because at the end of the day, we get to know each other more and become better Malaysians for it.”

The Paper’s People is a weekly column which introduces Malaysia-based everyday folk, doing what they love. If you have any person to recommend, e-mail us at star2@thestar.com.my.

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