PETALING JAYA: There has never been a greater need for more caring Malaysians to come forward and help the less fortunate, says Eco World Foundation chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pic).
To achieve that, he said Malaysians must take an active role in creating a caring culture that would foster the development of a caring attitude, as exemplified by the winners of the Star Golden Hearts Award 2017.
Speaking after the award presentation ceremony at Menara Star on Thursday, Lee said building values of kindness and compassion in the younger generation is more important than ever.
“If we have a caring attitude, then it’s much easier for us to respond to help others in need,” he said.
“To inculcate a caring attitude among students, we must start from school. So that when they grow up, they realise that they have a civic duty, a civic responsibility to help others in need.”
Lee, who led the panel of judges for the award, said a good start could be as simple as caring for the environment.
“Don’t litter, don’t throw garbage indiscriminately, don’t pollute the rivers, and so on.
These are the things Malaysians can do every day. You don’t need an official programme worked out for you,” he said, citing the example of proactively clearing up after oneself in public eateries.
“That is what I call civic duty. If we can succeed in that, I think we can have more caring Malaysians in the long run,” Lee added.
And at a time where there are so many underprivileged people who need a helping hand, Lee thinks that society needs more kind-hearted and generous Malaysians to “really devote themselves to acts of charity and kindness”.
“If we can help another person from a different race, it would certainly mean a lot. Not only in terms of helping the objective of the award, but also in terms of bringing Malaysians together,” he said.
As the award is in its third year, Lee is encouraged by the fact it remains steadfast and committed to the ideals of bringing all Malaysians together through acts of selflessness and extraordinary voluntary service.
When the committee went through the submissions, Lee said they realised the importance of giving some form of recognition for the acts of love the nominees performed for their fellow human beings, which cut across all races and religions.
Terming it a project by Malaysians for Malaysians, Lee is heartened that the award has managed to identify these do-gooders, who were nominated by those they helped as well as members of the public.
“We believe that one of the most effective ways of bringing people together from diverse races, religions and cultures is to focus on acts of charity.
“If we can do all these things in the spirit of helping, to bring about a caring consciousness among all Malaysians, that is one of the best ways to work towards unity,” he said.
The award saw more than 100 nominations this year, with an increase in names from Sabah and Sarawak.
“This goes to show that the award has managed to convey an important message to all Malaysians ... that when it comes to working towards helping one another, we must not look at it from a perspective of race.
“But we should look upon it as an act of compassion, an act of kindness,” Lee said.
Lee also advised those who were not selected for the award not to give up.
“They should continue to serve and do all the good deeds that they have done in the past. Eventually, I’m sure they will be identified and benefit in some way,” he said.
As kindness is its own reward, Lee believes in the importance of altruism.
“In whatever we do, it’s important that we do it not just for the sake of publicity, but we do it because we just regard it as civic duty or responsibility to help others. And it must be something that is altruistic, not for gain,” he added.
In the spirit of paying it forward, Lee hopes that those who benefited from the good deeds of others would be prepared to do charity as well.
He also thanked the friends and families of Malaysia’s unsung heroes who really walk the extra mile.
“So, to all of those doing acts of charity, their family members should continue to motivate them, inspire them and encourage them to do even more in the days to come,” Lee said.