KUALA LUMPUR: A Malay woman who is fluent in Mandarin has proven her worth both to her peers and boss at LBS Bina Group Bhd.
In just four years, Mas Izzati Meor Roslan, 22, has gone from being a receptionist to the secretary and personal assistant of property tycoon Tan Sri Lim Hock San.
Her day-to-day task includes dealing with heads of Chinese associations, clans and schools.
“Having studied at a Chinese primary school, I have a good grasp of the culture. It helps me to communicate with them better. There’s no language barrier,” she said.
Apart from managing Lim’s appointments, her other responsibilities include checking drafts of his letters as well as adding the han yu pin yin (Chinese phonetics) to the more difficult words in his Mandarin speeches.
Mas Izzati, who is from Sungai Way, attributes her success to the special attention she received from her Year Six teacher at SJK(C) Sungai Way. She scored As in both her Chinese papers for UPSR.
As the only non-Chinese in class, Mas Izzati said she had to sit next to her teacher Ng Kim Hua during Chinese lessons.
“I was always her ‘victim’ and was forced to read passages from the textbook in front of my classmates,” she recalled with a smile.
Diligence, coupled with the help of teachers, made her well-versed in reading, speaking and writing in Chinese.
Lim, who is the managing director of LBS Bina Group, said he has full trust in Mas Izzati whom he described as being dedicated and level-headed even in times of stress.
“I am involved in many non-governmental organisations and Chinese associations and luckily, Mas Izzati knows Mandarin. She meets these leaders on my behalf whenever I am busy,” he said.
Lim said Mas Izzati summarised what happened at these meetings and briefed him, which is vital as he had a tight schedule.
Speaking on the advantage of learning multiple languages, Lim said there was growing trend among parents to send their children to Chinese schools.
“It all boils down to what the job market wants. As China is emerging as the new economic superpower, there is now a need for Mandarin-speaking employees,” he said.
Also an alumnus of SJK(C) Sungai Way, Lim said knowing the Chinese language allowed him to have direct dealings with businessmen from China. Lim, who is the president of Malaysia-Guangdong Chamber of Investment and Promotion, is aggressively building bridges between industries from both sides.
Lim does not believe the existence of Chinese schools causes disunity among the races.
“If you abolish Chinese schools, you are destroying Chinese culture,” he said.
He said this preservation of culture was the reason why Malaysia is China’s largest trading partner in Asean and added Malaysians were fortunate as they could choose the type of schooling they preferred for their children.
“Our government is quite fair. Everyone has the freedom to choose and that is how it should be,” he said.