A tough time picking the top 10

PETALING JAYA: Originality, sustainability and sacrifice – these were among the key criteria in determining the best of the best for this year’s Star Golden Hearts Award.

The panel of seven judges put their heads together in a gruelling six-hour marathon to choose the top 10 do-gooders of the award, which celebrate everyday unsung heroes in Malaysia.

The award attracted over 400 nominations – more than double of last year – when the deadline came to a close on July 15.

Chief judge Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who is Malaysia Unity Foundation trustee, said he was captivated by nominations of individuals and organisations, which went the extra mile to help people in need.

“I look out for nominees who made tremendous sacrifice – sacrificing their time, money, even their safety and comfort – to do something for the good of fellow Malaysians.

“It must be proven that these nominees are prepared to be out there, to make a sacrifice, irrespective of what the outcome is going to be, ” he said at the final judging session in Menara Star yesterday.

Yayasan Gamuda head Sharifah Alauyah Wan Othman said she kept an eye out for those who have an original idea to bring about a huge impact to the community.

For a good cause: It was a gruelling six hours to pick the top 10, but they did it. Those present at the Star Golden Hearts Award final judging were (from left) Syed Azmi, Ng, Lee, Che Asmah, Vijayakumari and Sharifah Alauyah.For a good cause: It was a gruelling six hours to pick the top 10, but they did it. Those present at the Star Golden Hearts Award final judging were (from left) Syed Azmi, Ng, Lee, Che Asmah, Vijayakumari and Sharifah Alauyah.

“An unsung hero is someone who has an original and innovative idea which can make a big difference to a lot of people.

“It has to be a project that is sustainable too, ” she said.

Sharifah Alauyah said looking through the nominations of do-gooders throughout the country was itself an “enriching experience”.

“This year, it is very competitive because there are just so many worthy contenders, ” she said.

Star Media Group chief content officer Esther Ng agreed that originality and the extent of the impact to the beneficiaries were important factors to be considered.

“The thing that will stand out will be how different you are, and in being different, it is important that you have a deep impact on society, ” she said.

Ng added that she was honoured to sit on the panel to judge a cross section of deserving nominees, who are making Malaysia a better place.

“Many of us will feel so small as compared to their selfless and noble efforts. There is so much more that we can do. This is one way we can show them how appreciative we are.”

Another first-time judge and social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi said it was a challenging task as most of the nominees were unique and remarkable.

“Everybody is special in their own way, but it’s an honour to learn from these nominees how much they wish to grow and to see their tenacity, ” he said.

Yayasan Kebajikan Negara chief executive officer Datin Paduka Che Asmah Ibrahim described the selection process as “interesting and enlightening”.

“I get to see very compelling and inspiring work done by the people on the ground, who play an important role in society, ” she said.

Former Social Welfare Department assistant director Vijayakumari Pillai said there were many nominations of social projects, which were innovative and impactful to the community.

“They don’t care about rewards. These initiatives and fresh ideas have raised the bar to a whole new level in benefiting the community at large, especially marginalised communities, ” she said.

Malaysian AIDS Foundation chairman Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman also said that there was a good variety of nominees, who made a big difference in society with their meaningful work.

The award was launched by the Star Media Group in 2015 and supported by Yayasan Gamuda, aims to recognise Malaysians unsung heroes from all walks of life, who are dedicated to helping those in need and promote unity among Malaysians.

The winners will be announced at the award ceremony on Sept 23.

As a show of appreciation to The Star readers, a total of 20 seats will be allotted to readers to attend the ceremony.

Those interested can send an email to Selina or Denise at starfoundation@thestar.com.my.

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