Year Of Champions: Big-hearted Malaysians

Social entrepreneur Jazz Tan Yee Mei who is the chief executive officer and founder of speaking to students at the Entrepreneurship Talk Series for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) co-organised by SME Association of Malaysia (Samenta) and Sentral College Penang, held at Sentral College Penang. Star Pic by: ZAINUDIN AHAD / The Star / 26 March 2016

One of this year’s 10 Star Golden Hearts Award winners set up a platform to match youths pitching their projects with companies willing to fund them.

Another has set up many initiatives for the poor, including a 10-sen taxi service and a 10-sen ambulance service, but still finds time to help others on a very personal basis.

To the people they have helped, these are the true champions. The Star Golden Hearts Award was introduced in 2015 to recognise such unsung, everyday heroes who have reached out to different communities. In 2016, the Star-Gamuda Inspiration Award was introduced and awarded to a recipient from the pool of 10 winners.

Cheng Yoke Yee, 48, had bought a TV set a few years ago for 10 sen from a flea market. The market was set up by Kuan Chee Heng, the founder of Community Policing Malaysia and this year’s award winner.

Cheng’s husband, Chong Siew Hong, had found out back then he had cancer of the ear and had to stop working as a chef. Their family lived in a People’s Housing Programme flat.

Their three daughters were all in school and Cheng was selling tidbits from home to support them, but didn’t have enough money to buy traditional Chinese herbs for her husband.

Her friend told Kuan about the family. “He came and asked what we needed,” Cheng remembers. He brought Chinese medicine and herbs to relieve the pain when her husband had chemotherapy, and also provided the family with rice.

At Chinese New Year, he bought new clothes for the daughters. “When we wanted to go to my mother-in-law’s home in Johor for Chinese New Year, he sent us to the bus station and picked us up when we came back,” she recalls.

Before Chong died, Kuan talked to him about the kind of funeral he wanted. Chong decided to be cremated.

Jazz Tan
Jazz Tan is the founder of, a sponsorship and event matching platform for youths and brands.

When Chong died, Cheng called her mother first. The next person she phoned was Kuan.

“He came immediately and did everything, from A to Z,” she says. That was over two years ago.

Student Anis Husna Dzeidee Schaff never met award winner Jazz Tan, but she has worked for over a year with the YouthsToday platform, which Tan set up.

So far, they’ve received about RM3,000 for four different projects – two theatre events, their literary magazine and a dinner for their English Literature society.

“Before, we had to hold back on our plans because we had a very restricted budget,” says Husna, 22.

“But with this extra funding we were able to carry out our plans without worrying about budget restraints.”

YouthsToday helped them come up with good programmes. “Then we have to pitch our events to potential sponsors on YouthsToday for them to actually take interest in us and sponsor us,” Husna explains.

For example, YouthsToday helped them find sponsorship for their literary magazine from And it didn’t end there.

“ has also contacted us to tell us about internships,” says Husna. “YouthsToday, having connections with multiple companies, has also organised such internships. When you have that connection, it opens up many other doors.”

YouthsToday has helped carry out programmes important for the youth. “These programmes can be a source of distraction for students to prevent them from going into things which are not beneficial.”

“Jazz Tan is a champion because she’s helping youths, who play a very vital part in our future,” says Husna. “She’s our champion.”

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