AN agarwood block weighing less than a kilogramme held an entire ballroom in suspense when it became the object of desire between two high-profile bidders during an auction at a charity dinner.
The element of suspense laid in who would take home the 685gm piece of resinous wood sponsored by agarwood trader Chan Wai Min.
Would it be Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, who had graced the dinner as guest of honour, or luxury goods and services business owner Datuk Seri Rozita Ramelan?
In the end, it was the fairer sex who won the day, with a closing bid of RM22,500.
The auction evening also saw a touch of romance when former national swimmer Jeffrey Ong won the bid for an 18-karat rose-and-white-gold ring for his wife Carolyn Goh.
Designed by Kate Tsui, an actress who was Miss Hong Kong in 2004, the ring came with a starting bid of RM1,500.
Ong bought it for RM2,000.
Other items put up for auction were art pieces by Malaysian artist Tan Shen Ru and Lyna Khairi.
Held at One World Hotel in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, the “Healing and Empowering Lives” dinner saw the Compassionate Care Foundation (CCF) as well as Protect and Save the Children (PSC) combining efforts to raise funds.
The funds raised will go towards healing at least 150 underprivileged individuals from chronic pain and other health conditions as well as advocacy and public awareness programmes to prevent child sexual abuse and keep a safe environment for children.
The donations will be shared in a pre-agreed proportion between PSC and CCF, dependent on each entity’s investment in their project.
In addition to the auction, no effort was spared to raise funds during the event.
Drawing guests’ attention to white envelopes placed on dining tables was magician and hypnotist Cody Tan, who was the emcee.
Urging the guests to be generous, Tan assured that in this age where we were encouraged to go cashless, digital donations were equally welcome.
Volunteers from the two organisations also went from table to table with a large donation box.
Representing the two organisations as special guests were Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye for CCF and Tunku Kamariah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah for PSC.
“These last two years have been extremely challenging for all of us as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Lee.
“Its effects have been particularly devastating for those financially challenged, such as the B40 group.
“It is especially during such difficult times that we must come together to donate generously as whatever contributions we give will go a long way towards improving their lives,” he added.
In a recorded speech, Tunku Kamariah pointed out that child sexual abuse, despite its horrific consequences, remained an underfunded issue.
“Our children deserve better.
“They deserve the right to grow up in a safe, secure and protected environment where they can flourish and thrive without the fear of sexual abuse and exploitation,” she said.
Nariza Hashim Petra, who is on PSC’s board of directors, said that expenses needed to refer victims to caseworkers, supervisors and support services for case management that might also involve safe placements and legal aid could run up to RM500,000 per year.
A total of 200 seats were sold for the dinner.
Ticket prices were RM1,800 for individuals.
A table of six was RM50,000 for Platinum sponsors, RM25,000 for Gold and RM20,000 for Silver.
According to Daena Chan, who is on the board of directors for CCF, the total collected for the dinner was close to RM300,000.
“There may be more donations following publicity from the dinner,” she said.
Chan said those who wished to donate could still participate in a lucky draw until April 30.
To participate, visit compassionatecares.org/ccf-lucky-draw
Donations above RM100 are eligible for tax-exempt receipts.