Let us build windmills, not walls

  • Letters
  • Sunday, 10 Feb 2013

Malaysia has set a target of becoming a developed nation by 2020. There are three key elements that will aid us in realising this vision – Belief, Education and Togetherness.

MALAYSIA will celebrate her 56th birthday this year. To me, Malaysia is a blessed country, a land of opportunity. We have a beautiful nation, enhanced by our bio and cultural diversity.

In the years I had lived here, I have tasted both the sweet and the bitter. And I am proud to call Malaysia, my home, my country.

I am sure you will concur with me, that the task of moulding our nation’s future is upon all of us.

We have set ourselves an important vision to become a developed nation by 2020. We have seven years to go to be a self-sufficient, industrialised nation. Seven more years to be a world-class nation, competing in the global arena.

There is still much to do to achieve our vision. We are currently experiencing great shifts in the global economic landscape. At the same time, we stand in the midst of the Asian region, where the next leap of growth will be happening.

A Chinese proverb says, “When the direction of wind changes, some build walls, some build windmills.”

In this period of change, I say: “Let us build windmills.”

Windmills that would ensure our efforts are sustainable. Windmills that would stand the test of time to benefit our future generations.

On these windmills, I propose we have three sails. Upon the first sail, let us inscribe the word Belief. Upon the second, the word Education. And upon the third sail, Togetherness.

Confucius once said: “Belief is the root of humanity, the foundation of success.”

If we want to accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream; we must not only plan, but also believe.

Our Belief guides our visions. Our conviction turns our vision into realities. Hope and progress only come when we believe in something. Belief powers us to make necessary sacrifices for the greater good.

Parents who love and believe in their children, sacrifice their time and energy to provide them with the best education and upbringing.

While we, as a nation, are still standing amidst the winds of change, our belief in our country is the one thing that will push us forward and to make the necessary commitments and sacrifices to achieve our vision.

But with the sacrifices, we must never take success for granted and be complacent about what we have achieved. The European countries are suffering because of overspending and complacency. We should not make the same mistake.

Along with Belief, Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to transform a nation.

To create a better future, we must first make the communities better. To make the communities better, we must make our children better; and to make our children better, we must make their education better.

The Chinese also have a saying: “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.”

Education has always been dear to my heart, and I believe Education is the best gift we can provide for our future generations.

I am blessed to have grown up and built a successful business in Malaysia.

Every child who remembers his roots and has achieved success in this country must try to contribute to the social welfare of his country.

I fulfilled my obligation and duty with my personal donation of RM720mil in assets to the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation.

The foundation owns and governs Sunway University, Monash Univer­sity Sunway Campus, the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sunway College, Sunway International School and it is one of the biggest social enterprises of its kind in Malaysia.

This is my way of expressing my deep gratitude for the opportunities that were presented to me.

To date, the foundation has awarded scholarships worth RM102mil to more than 13,000 Malaysian students and my hope is to see it grow in perpetuity.

Through the foundation, I have also contributed RM13mil to five schools, each in Pusing (Perak), Ipoh, Klang, Subang Jaya and Bandar Sunway.

The Chinese say: “No matter how poor we may be, we should not be deprived of Education.”

With good quality education, we can build a great nation of sustained economic growth, abundant with opportunities. I hope all of us will take the opportunities given to us in good faith and plant the seeds for the future generations.

I am confident, if we come together, Malaysians can achieve their vision.

To again quote Confucius: “Within four seas, all men are brothers.”

Alone, we can do so little; together we can move mountains. With Togetherness, our children will grow up in a country where they can progress and excel.

With Togetherness, our children will thrive in a strong, globally competitive economy.

Malaysia is blessed with a multi-cultural society.

Diversity is powerful because it is the creator of exceptional value. The greater the diversity of ideas, the greater the quality of the solution.

Malaysia is a nation of possibilities. Our road has been tough and our journey, enduring, but yet deep in our hearts, we know the best is yet to come.

This country has been good to me, and I thank her. With deep gratitude, I am leaving a legacy in an education foundation, the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation, from which I hope many more Malaysians will benefit way past my living years.

Sunway Group chairman and founder Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah is on the national education system evaluation panel and is also permanent honorary president of the Federation of Hakka Associations Malaysia. He shared his thoughts on the above subject at the 21st anniversary celebration of the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong), held recently at the Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa. More than 1,500 leaders of the Malaysian Chinese community attended the event.

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