A passion for education and life


BY LEANNE GOH AND GAVIN GOMEZ

LOY TEIK HOK (1964-2003  

THE arrangement of the sofa and other furniture, the placement of eye-catching interior design pieces and the tasteful furnishing of Taylor’s Education Group’s corporate office will be a daily reminder to the staff of the loss of their boss. 

A hands-on and artistic person, Loy Teik Hok had no qualms staying back after office hours to arrange furniture together with his senior management staff – as he did the evening before he died in a car crash in the wee hours of the morning, after a late dinner and chat with an old school mate. 

“We’re in the midst of renovating our corporate office and Teik Hok was very involved. He had just come back from Bali with his wife Abby and their three children and had picked up some items for the office, including this huge door which we moved around to see where it would best fit,’’ says Charles Chew, the group vice-president.  

Loy, chairman of the executive committee of the Taylor’s Education Group, took as much pains to make their working environment as pleasant as possible as he did with their career development. 

Always the “backroom” leader, he started taking an interest in Taylor’s several years before his father, MBf Holdings Bhd founder Tan Sri Loy Hean Heong, passed away in 1997. MBf was a major stakeholder in the institution then. 

A graduate of York University in Toronto, Canada, Loy was involved in various aspects of his family business and in 1996, began to oversee the automobile and education divisions of the group. 

As an “outsider” in the field of education, he had to learn the complexities of this highly competitive industry. But with his experience, he brought a fresh perspective to the business.  

“He saw things which we, who have been in the business for years, failed to see and he got us to introduce measures that have contributed to the success that Taylor’s College is today,’’ says long-time colleague and friend Khoo Soo Peng, who is Taylor’s president. 

“Loy was passionate about education even though he liked to stay away from the public eye. He was meticulous and demanding and always pushed us to achieve more. To him, nothing is impossible.’’ 

Khoo adds that Loy cared very much for the welfare of the staff and had introduced training and development programmes, learning subsidies to encourage lecturers to take up post-graduate studies, as well as other benefits. 

With better perks came greater demands too. The staff in charge of media relations came under pressure to ensure consistent coverage of Taylor’s College. They could expect to get a note from him if there was no news in StarEducation, for example, for two consecutive weeks. 

But if any staff was in need or had a problem, says Chew, his boss did not hesitate to help if he could. 

“There were occasions when I needed help and approached him for it. And he never let me down; he really cared.''  

Loy was said to be a man of convictions too. If he believed in something, he was tenacious about it and would often be able to sway others to his views. One conviction that has left an impression on his senior management is his philosophy on happiness.  

So important was “happiness” to Loy that he persisted when others were not in favour of including the word in their corporate philosophy which reads: “We believe that we must work in harmony, guided by our values and inspired by our vision, to achieve organisational and individual aspirations which bring fulfilment and happiness in life.” 

He believed in achieving happiness. He felt that a person must believe in what he was doing and find happiness doing it, the best example of which was his job. 

“When we were having this big pow wow to draw up our corporate philosophy, Teik Hok said that if we spent more than one-third of our day in the work place, surely we must be happy doing our job, otherwise it would be meaningless. So we agreed finally to include ‘happiness’ in our philosophy,’’ says Chew, who Loy referred to fondly as “brother”. 

By the same token, Loy could not be persuaded by the senior management to reconsider and cut down the quantum of scholarships given to top students enrolled at Taylor’s under the Tan Sri Loy Hean Heong Merit Scholarship, a scheme mooted by him in memory of his father. 

“We started off with just RM20,000 worth of scholarships but it has now grown to RM2.5mil; and we expect the amount to keep increasing because there are more and more top scorers each year,’’ says Taylor’s College principal and chief operating officer Anucia Jeganathan. 

She adds that some of them proposed there be a cap on how much is given out but “Teik Hok insisted that all top students get full and not partial scholarships for study at the college”. He felt that those who studied hard deserved it, especially students who were not from well-to-do homes. 

On Thursday, Jeganathan received a call from a parent. “The mother of one of the students called me to check if it was true that her daughter had won a full scholarship for study at Taylor’s. It was such a pleasant surprise for her.’’ 

There will be many more students who will gain from this legacy of Loy Teik Hok. As for his colleagues at Taylor’s, he will be deeply missed as a thoughtful boss, visionary leader and most of all, caring friend.  

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