Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Entering into Politics – The Story Behind

I first shared the story of how I entered into politics on my blog in an article entitled, “Entering into Politics – The Story Behind” in 2012. Five years later, I retold this story with greater details and deeper reflections in Part 8 of my book entitled "Reimagining Malaysia".

I hope that my story will encourage you to pursue your personal dreams and most importantly, the dreams and hopes for this country. 

The Beginning - Seed of Love

It all started in 2001 with a prayer movement - 40-day Fast and Pray for Malaysia, organized by National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF). I was a first year student in University Technology Petronas (UTP) when I came across this movement. Not knowing why, I felt the urgency to pray for Malaysia. 

In order not to feel lonely, I got my good friend in University Technology Petronas (UTP), Lo Thin Thin, to fast and pray for Malaysia with me. For the next five years in UTP, every year around Merdeka season when NECF distributed its 40-day Fast and Pray for Malaysia booklets, we would each grab a copy and do our 40 days fasting together. 

We usually prayed for Malaysia together in Thin Thin’s room before breaking fast (for dinner). Sometimes a few more friends would join us. Our favourite food was nasi ayam goreng kunyit, which was sold at RM 2.50 in the canteen nearby our dormitory in UTP campus. In my memory, it tasted heavenly, especially with a bit of green cili padi and dark sweet soy sauce. 

It was in my university years that I started to see Malaysia differently. I began to sow the seed of love and passion for this nation through the journey of fast-and-pray for Malaysia. 

Nevertheless, I could hardly imagine myself to be involved in politics then. Even though I knew that politics was important to make change in our country through systemic and policy changes, the nearest imagination I had on politics was “let me get married to a politician”, so I could help my husband to make change. 

The thought may sound funny now but it was just natural for me as I grew up seeing more women in the background than forefront.  It wasn’t in my wildest imagination then, that I as a girl from a small town, could be the agent of change for who I am, what I stand for and what I do, not as a wife or a daughter of someone else. 

Looking back now, I know that anyone, no matter how small we are, can play a part in nation building.  

Years on Distant Shores

No, I was not a super patriotic person that nothing else mattered to me beside Malaysia. Since young I dreamed of going overseas - to study, to work and to see the world.  

The Girl from a Small Town

I grew up in a small town in northern Johor called Batu Anam (in the district of Segamat). For the first 10 years of my life, our family lived in a plantation estate called Gomali Estate, where my mother worked as a clerk, before we moved to the Batu Anam “town” (still a village to many people’s standard). I had my primary and secondary education in SRJK (C) Hwa Nan and SMJK Seg Hwa, both of which were Chinese schools. 

As I have mentioned in the earlier chapter, I could hardly speak English before I went to the university. But as a child and teenager, I had strong desire to “fly on a jet plane” to see the world. I thought it wouldn’t be possible with my standard of English. Additionally, there wasn’t any budget airline then. Many people of my generation with similar background had our first taste of flight in our late teen or in our twenties, when Air Asia started its operation. 

For me, my first flight experience was flying to Kuching, Sarawak for an international conference with my third aunt, Yeo Swee Lan, who sponsored the trip. This is probably why Sarawak always has a special place in my heart. 

I was 17 then. 

First Taste of Dream-Come-True

Until I was 21, the only foreign country I had ever been was Singapore. But for many Johorians, we don’t see Singapore as “foreign” as a “foreign country” can be.  I really wanted to go to the “real overseas”, not Singapore.

In my fourth year in the university, an opportunity came. UTP engineering students were required to do an 8-month internship in the second term of the fourth year of study before starting our final year. 

Since I dreamed of “seeing the world”, I decided that I would go overseas to do my internship, as it was the cheapest way to stay in a foreign country, as long as it was a paid internship. But I had a problem - only very few of the seniors before us had gone oversea for internships and none of them was paid. Many of my friends poured cold water on my idea and advised me not to waste my time since no one before us had done that. 

But somehow I was not deterred. I sent out more than 50 applications to companies at different parts of the world, hoping that my applications would somehow land me an internship position that would pay at least my living expenses there. 

That was how I landed in Germany – the first foreign country I’d ever been after Singapore. I was offered a paid internship placement in BASF’s world largest chemical site in Ludwigshafen, Germany. 

This internship offer did not only give me an opportunity to live in a foreign country, but as a chemical engineering student, it was a superb opportunity to learn from this top chemical producer in the world. So I was a happy and contented little intern in BASF Ludwigshafen site, which housed about 38,500 staffs in 2005. 

I later found out that my supervisor, Gunther Windecker, accepted me because I was a UTP student and Petronas scholar and he was coincidentally doing a collaboration project with BASF-Petronas plant in Kerteh, Malaysia. If the human resource department were to send my resume to the other departments in BASF, I would have lost my chance. 

I always think that such coincidence could only be the work of God. But in order for the miracle to happen, I needed to be crazy enough to send more than 50 applications. Here’s the lesson learnt: always do enough for miracle to happen. 

Internship in Germany was my first taste of international exposure as BASF took many interns from all over the world to Germany. Most of us lived in the same block of apartment. I spent countless of hours with some of these friends here discussing about just about anything under the sun. 

BASF paid us 750 euros monthly allowances with free accommodation. Since I cooked myself and bought cheap groceries in Aldi and Lidl (German equivalent of Tesco) most of the time, I managed to save money to travel to the neighboring countries during holidays. 

Before coming to Germany, as I always did quite well in school, I thought I knew a lot. After I came here, I realized how little I knew about the world. I began to question why in Malaysia we did not learn a more complete world history, different political systems, different ideologies, arts and culture? Neither have we been taught to think critically and objectively. Coming from a conservative background, we were taught to respect the authority. I took history books and newspaper as the ultimate truth and real authority. 

It was in my internship, after getting to know people outside of my own country and traveling to different countries, I began to realize that what we'd been taught in the schools and read in the media had been crafted in such a way that we would be easily manipulated. Our school syllabus was (and still is) flawed and politically biased.

Six months of internship in Germany completely changed my worldview. My eyes began to open, previous perceptions shattered and I began to see things very differently - there was actually a much better way for Malaysia. 

I was 22 years old then.  

The younger generation today has the luxury of fast Internet and social media. I hope that with this luxury, they will come to realization of the still-happening systematic brainwashing in schools and media faster than I did.  

A Crashed Dream

I had another childhood dream, which is going to Cambridge University, after I came across a beautiful poem by a famous Chinese poet Xu ZhiMo (徐志摩) – “Taking Leave of Cambridge Again” (再别康桥).  I have always imagined Cambridge as the place of dream.

Emboldened by my experience of try-it-anyhow for internship placement abroad, I decided that I would apply to Cambridge University for further study during my final year of study in UTP (after coming back from Germany). I received an admission offer for Master in Philosophy in Advanced Chemical Engineering a few months before I finished my study in UTP. 

I was so happy. Since the course was collaboration between Cambridge University and Massachusetts Institute Technology (MIT), both occupied the top and second rank in the field of Chemical Engineering, I thought obtaining a scholarship was easy. So I applied for all the funding and even loans from various organizations available in Malaysia. Unfortunately, I didn't get any. 

Although disappointed, I wasn't blaming anybody, as I understood that nobody was obliged to fund me. Despite financial difficulties in his business in 2006, my dad agreed to fund my study in Cambridge. However, I still had one problem. I was bonded to Petronas for 10 years and was supposed to serve my bond after I finished my study in UTP. 

I wrote to Petronas to ask for deferment of service until after I finished my master degree in Cambridge. A few weeks later, I was called to come to the education unit in Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC).  I met a nice guy there, he told me that the course in Cambridge was great and he really wanted to help, but it was in the company’s policy that they would not allow any deferment of bond or I would have to pay up all the school fees and living expenses Petronas paid me for the past five years in lump-sump.  Yes, in lump-sum, even installment was not allowed. I knew there and then that going to Cambridge wouldn’t be possible anymore. 

My dream crashed. 

I did not blame Petronas for that, as they were just following the contract and it would be havoc if every scholar would come and ask for deferment or for more funding. I understood that. 

However, it was a small incidence in the education unit that made me utterly disappointed with how things work in Malaysia. While waiting at the lounge, I met two returning scholars from Nottingham University, UK. I started to talk to them. To my surprise, they had difficulties completing their sentences in English.  After a while, an education unit guy came and met them, I accidentally saw their results - one of them get second class lower and another a third class. 

That blasted my mind. Here I was, with a CGPA of 3.95 out of 4.00, top in the university year, holding an admission offer to a prestigious university for a highly competitive course and begging only for 1 year of service deferment, but was denied. Here they were, spent 4 years in the UK fully sponsored, but struggled to speak English and graduated with mediocre results. 

Am I not as much a Malaysian as them? I even faithfully fast-and pray for the country for the past 5 year! Being a 23-year-old, I was utterly disheartened and disappointed. 

The Only Way Out

It was just a few days after I came back from Petronas education unit that I received a call from an American oil and gas service provider company, informing me that I was recruited. How did I get the job? It was a miracle. 

There were five stages of interview in the recruitment process. They came to UTP for recruitment in the middle of my last semester in UTP. I already obtained offer from Cambridge University then and was whole-heartedly focusing on getting a scholarship. 

However, my friend asked me to go with them to its campus recruitment interview. So I went for it just for fun. A few days later, they called me for the second stage interview. Since it was still in the campus and some of my friends were also going, I went. I completely forgot about it after that. 

After I finished my study in UTP around middle of 2006, while my friends were looking for jobs and I was still searching for scholarship to Cambridge, I received another call for the third stage of interview in KL. I didn’t want to go because all I wanted to do then was to go to Cambridge. However my mother advised me to go, not so much for the job (she also hoped for me to go to Cambridge), but to gain job interview experience. I obeyed. 

In the morning of the third interview, I was supposed to take an early morning train at around 4am from Gemas to KL Sentral, then take LRT to KLCC and walk to the company’s headquarter nearby for the interview. (I didn’t care much about the interview that I didn’t even bother to stay overnight in KL to get ready for the interview.) 

However, the train was late for one hour. My elder sister Bee Hui, who insisted to accompany me to KL, advised me to call the recruiter to inform them that I might be late. I told her, “Never mind la, I am going to Cambridge.” 

I arrived at the company about half an hour late. But coincidentally, the interviews before me were delayed so the recruiter actually didn’t notice that I was late. Imagine what would happen to my job application if I’d called to inform them that I was late . 

In the interview, I even told the recruiter frankly that I preferred going to Cambridge than working for the company. He told me he’d still process my application anyway. Obviously, this was not good news for me, as I knew that my mother would force me to go for the next stage of interview if I really got through. True enough, I was forced to go to the fourth stage of interview in the company’s site in Kerteh and fifth stage in KL, all of which I told the interviewers of my plan to Cambridge. 

I didn’t apply for other jobs because I was so engrossed to find ways to Cambridge. Imagine how I felt when I finally accepted the fact that there was no way for me to go to Cambridge on that fateful day in Petronas tower. I had no way to go except to wait for job assignment from Petronas to serve my bond. But I really, really, really, wanted to see more of the world! I didn’t want to be stuck in Malaysia for the rest of my life. 

Then this American company offered me a job. The recruiter called me to go to the office to explain the package. They were offering me international mobile staffs package. He showed me a list of countries with the vacancies and asked which one I preferred. I chose a country called “Turkmenistan” because it sounded the most exotic. It might sound scary to many but the young adventurous Yeo Bee Yin just couldn’t resist it. After all, going to Cambridge was already impossible. 

So Turkmenistan was where I spent most of my next 2 years. 

I was 24 years old when I left home for Turkmenistan. Because of what happened, I remember clearly that I told myself I was not going to come back to live in Malaysia again the night when I left KL International Airport. My plan was to climb the corporate ladder and ask to be transferred to more conducive western countries to settle down once I was tired with the adventurous exotic countries. 

What happened to my Petronas bond? You may ask. Petronas didn’t assign me any job until many months after I started to work. By then I had already saved enough money to pay up the bond in lump sum. From then on, I was truly free.  

This year would be my last year of serving the company if I were still bonded with Petronas. I would not have been able to go through an amazing journey for the past ten years if not for a job offer that came in the most unpredicted and unplanned way. Looking back now, I can’t help but to thank God for his amazing plan in my life. 

Before I go further with my story, I would like to clarify here. You may think that I am angry with Petronas because of what happened to me. I am not. In fact, I am grateful that Petronas gave me a scholarship when I needed it the most. I am saying this not for political correctness but I really think so. 

When I went for Petronas scholarship interview after SPM, I could hardly speak English. I was hoping that my SPM results and extra-curricular achievements would help to compensate my poor English skills. (I got 9As for my SPM except English and was active in sport - represented Johor for 400m sprint and basketball and Segamat for netball.) I actually made it to the waiting list for UTP enrollment. As some of the first intake students left for better offer after the special semester, I got a place in UTP, which came with full scholarship from Petronas.  

When this girl from a small town needed an opportunity to pursue her tertiary education in a course of her interest without burdening her parents, Petronas gave her an opportunity that changed her life. Five years in UTP has shaped my life, not only has it provided me good training in terms of analytical skills and technical knowledge but also an environment to learn to communicate in English through everyday speaking, technical writing, reporting and presentations.

If English is your first language, you may wonder why I kept mentioning English skills. It is a real struggle for me growing up and I believe for most of the national and Chinese school students, who don’t come from English-speaking families. Even until today, more than ten years after I read, write and speak English as everyday language, I still struggle to express myself sometimes. The person who proofread this book, Medaline, can testify to that as she constantly corrects my grammar. 

Without UTP and Petronas scholarship, there wouldn’t be any opportunities that came later. Hence the national oil company always has a special place in my heart. My hope is that whoever becomes the government will use the money contributed by Petronas to government’s coffer better than how it is used now. (As I’ve discussed in the Energy Chapter.)  

The Self-Centered Years

Now, let’s come back to my story. 

I had many amazing experiences in my 2 years in Turkmenistan. Did I like the job as a field engineer? Not really. My main interest in Chemical Engineering had always been process optimization and design. I loved number crunching. I could sit in front of the computer many hours to run simulations or write mathematical programs to find the best solution without feeling tired. (Even until today, I am still intrigued by data and numbers.) Hence oil and gas field engineer wasn’t really my kind of job. 

Nevertheless, I liked the salary and benefits package and the work schedule. I had 1 month off for every 2 months of work. I got to travel to different more exotic countries such as Egypt, Azerbajian and others for work. And with the generous traveling allowances from the company, I traveled to many other countries during holidays.   

As for my work, although it is not my kind of job, it was not unbearable. In fact, I would describe it as a unique experience I gained in the younger days. After all, not many people especially the ladies, have had a chance to work on the rigs in the middle of the desert and sea, handle radioactive and explosive materials, operate high-temperature high-pressure equipment and led operators who were mostly at least one head taller and much bigger size than oneself. 

Overall, life was great. I worked hard and traveled hard, I was really fulfilling my childhood dream of “seeing the world”. I did not really think much about what I really want to do in life; nor did I think much of my dream, love and passion I once had for Malaysia during the 40-days fast-and-pray in my university years. 

What I went after were money, bonus and performance.  I just didn't care about the country anymore. 

Dreams for Malaysia Reignited 

It was until 9th Mar 2008, when I saw the news on the 2008 political tsunami in Malaysia that I realized how I still loved and cared about my country. They were just buried very deeply under my frustration and disappointment of what happened to me. How I wished I would be able to contribute to the change, no matter how small the contribution was, instead of just watching it from afar as an outsider. Indeed, Malaysia has many imperfections. But did I still love my country despite the imperfections? Yes.

I began to question, “Why am I here?”, “Is this really what I want to pursue?”, “Do I do this because there's no more option?”, “Do I do this just because of money?”, “If I were born in the US with many other opportunities, would I still do what I am doing now?” and most importantly, “How many more Malaysians out there left Malaysia because they went for better opportunities just like myself and many other Malaysians abroad I've met throughout the years?” 

My dream for a better Malaysia re-ignited. I wanted to go back to Malaysia to do something about the state of affair of the country, no matter how small it is. It wasn’t an easy decision though. After all, I was only 26 years old and my desire to “see the world” was still very much alive. 

It took me more than half a year of consideration. 

I eventually resigned just a few months before my second promotion’s interview. (I had fulfilled all the necessary training courses and completed the report, pending only the interview.) I knew that if I were to continue I would not have been able to resist the temptation of better pay and benefits that came with the promotion.

The defining moment in this decision making process was the realization that I did not want to die somewhere else in the world, maybe with some or a lot of money, but look back the country I loved in ruin, and regret that I have not done anything about it. I wanted to at least do something about it. 

I knew that I was a nobody and of me coming back would not help much, but I thought I should just do my part as a Malaysian, to serve my country, regardless. 

Not Giving Up My Childhood Dream

Nevertheless, I only had one more thing that I wanted to do before fulfilling my duty to do something for Malaysia. So I prayed to God. I told Him that I would go back but please grant me my childhood dream – to study in Cambridge University. Yes, I had not given up on that! 

This time I didn’t need to worry about how to fund my study anymore as I could afford it now. The only thing I worried was they would have blacklisted me for rejecting their offer 2 years ago. I re-applied nonetheless and received the admission offer within a month.  

What I had never been able or dare to imagine was Cambridge Gates Scholarship, the most prestigious post-graduate scholarship in Cambridge University, would offer me a full scholarship! Everything would be paid for including air tickets, living expenses and school fees.  

This was such a miracle. All I asked from the Lord was an opportunity to study in Cambridge University to fulfill my childhood dream. But what I received was not only an admission to my dream university but to be able to do it for free! What more could I ask for? Whenever I think about this part of my life, I am reminded of the bible verse, 

 “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” Ephesians 3:20 

With that, I went to Cambridge University at the age of 27 years old, a long-delayed dream finally came true.  

Living Cambridge dream…with struggle

Cambridge University is a magical place. It is a place, where a person will be humbled by the realization of how little one knows about the world.  

My time in Cambridge University was an intellectual challenging but fruitful one. I enjoyed most of the lectures, which were usually delivered by the professors who were top in their respective fields in the world. Many of the lectures had greatly inspired me. 

However, it wasn’t without challenge. I did badly for my first few quizzes and assignments. I was shocked by the standards of the university. Well, I think “shocked” is an understatement. To put it bluntly, for about half of the time I was in Cambridge, I wasn’t so sure if I could pass the master degree. 

Not only in terms of technical skills and knowledge, my English brought me trouble again. (Yes, it was and still is a constant struggle!) Let me tell you an embarrassing truth, I only realized that I had basic grammar problem of not knowing when to use “a” and “the” (or nothing) when I was in Cambridge. 

I felt like a failure in my dream university. 

I have never told anyone about this - the only time in my life that I ever had the thought of killing myself was during my first few months in Cambridge. For more than once in the early days in Cambridge, I wanted to create a “bicycle accident” by somehow riding into a car or truck. Thank God, I didn’t do that. 

I asked myself, “What is so big deal about failing while trying my best?” There was really no big deal. “So what if I really fail?” Yes, so what? My God, family and friends would still love me no matter what. 

So I tried harder to make sure that I pass. This is probably the reason I didn’t get to make many Malaysian friends there. Sometimes people asked me if I know so and so, who were in Cambridge at the same time as me, my answer is usually “no”.  I was too busy to make sure I pass the master degree! I only knew my classmates, some of their close friends, some Gates Scholars, church and bible study friends; not many of them were Malaysians. 

After a while, I got used to the learning culture there and managed to pass the master degree. Not only that, I was given Commendation by the Chemical Engineering Department too! So it was really a roller coaster journey – from worrying about failing to receiving Commendation.   

Throughout the years abroad including my time in Cambridge, I've met with many brilliant Malaysian students and working adults from top universities and top firms in the world. I usually asked if they would one day be back to Malaysia. For those who were not bonded to government or local companies, most of them would say no or they'd only be back if they couldn’t find a job in the greener pasture.  

Where do many of the talented Malaysians go? There are all at the foreign land seeking for better opportunities and a better future. Can we blame them for not coming back? NO, absolutely NOT. Malaysia has just too little to offer them. 

Hello Malaysia!

In Body but Not in Heart 

After pursuing my personal dream, I finally came back to Malaysia to pursue my dream for the country. Even with a strong burden for the country, it hadn't crossed my mind that I should be in politics, mainly because to me, being a politician was too far-fetch. I had no idea where to start, what to do, and which party to join. What I thought I would do to make a change was probably community works and joining NGOs. 

It wasn’t easy to adapt to the working environment in Malaysia. Monetarily, I had never been earning in RM as my previous jobs paid me in Euro or USD. I looked for job that would allow me to make an impact to the society but it was a great disappointment. 

I still remember vividly a Skype video call with one of my UTP friends, Koh Pei Ling. She resigned from her job at the same time as me to pursue her master under Erasmus Mundus Scholarship. She just landed a job at Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its headquarter in Manila then and was telling me what she did in ADB. That was exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to do work that can make an impact to the society, just like her. 

But I was stuck in Malaysia. I cried, not sure if it was during or after our call. On the same night, I went into Jobstreet to search for job in Singapore. My excuse was that Singapore was near enough to Malaysia. 

After a few hours on Jobstreet, a still small voice spoke to my heart, “What’s the difference between working in Singapore or elsewhere in the world? You will still feel the same as what you felt on 9 March 2009, that you are not taking part of what is going on in this country.” 

That was the last time I waivered on my decision to be back to Malaysia. 

Taking a Plunge into Malaysian Politics

I was still lost on what I could do. I helped in as many community projects as I could.  That’s all I thought I needed to do. Until 2012 when I did a project with DAP in their general election social media campaign that I was exposed to politics first hand. I finally came to realization that if I want to make a good impact in this nation, with the limited things I have, it can only be done effectively through politics. 

So joining politics? It was a tough decision, especially only one year plus after I started my own business and it was doing very well. I was not a person that goes after fame and power, why bother to join politics? In addition, I was already 29 years old, wasn’t that better for me to find a husband and start a family? (God knows, when I was a teenager I wanted to get married at 25!). 

Why waste time fighting for a job, of which I'd risk losing every 5 years and getting smaller pay compared to what I was earning? Why bother to play the so-called 'dirty politics'? I struggled to put my feet into politics. I knew in mind that since I’d chosen to come back to Malaysia, one of the best ways to ‘maximize the return’ in terms of social impact of the lost opportunities overseas was through politics. But I was struggling to step out of my comfort zone. 

As my mother had so rightly put it, "You can have a decent and comfortable life now already, why choose such a hard life?" However, what my mom did not know, was my love for this nation since I was 18 years old, and my deep desire to see a better Malaysia. 

I did not want to be a bystander as my country was going through one of the most important turning points of history, either for the better or worse future. I did not want to regret at the latter part of my life, seeing my country at peril, just because people of my generation have not done enough and have chosen comfort over sacrifice.  To quote Edmund Burke, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

So I made up my mind to join politics and the DAP. The rest as people say, is the history. 

I hope that through the hard work of our generation, Malaysia can be a land of opportunities and equality for our children.  I hope that Malaysia can be a land where, no matter how big and what your dreams are, they can be fulfilled here; and no matter what your potential are, they can be reached here. I hope that our children, no matter where they are outside of Malaysia, they will so look forward to come back to Malaysia because this is the best place for them to be. I hope for a Malaysia that is prosperous, competitive, free from corruption and most importantly, united regardless of race, religion or background. 

Lessons from the Little Dreams

So this is the story of an ordinary girl, who grew up in an obscure town in Malaysia and constantly struggled with her English but dreamt from “going to see the world” and “going to Cambridge” to “making Malaysia a better place” and acted on them. It is a story that is still on going. 

I know those little dreams I had, pursued and finally achieved were nothing compared to many of your achievements. I shared the stories not to boast of their greatness but my life experiences that taught me the power of dreams - the daring imaginations of a better future, the courage to pursue them no matter how impossible they seem to be and the persistence in overcoming the challenges with eyes fixed on the final goals. 

We need to dream again for our country. We need to re-imagine Malaysia above and beyond the situations today. This book discusses what we can as a nation do better in terms institution reforms, education, youths, women, sustainable development and the weakest members of the society. These are many of my hopes and dreams for the country. I am sure you have yours too. 

Indeed, we are facing with many challenges today as we run towards the dreams we have for Malaysia, but we should not give up because of temporary setbacks or criticisms that come our way as we try to bring change. These words of Theodore Roosevelt always encourage me,  

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 

This generation of Malaysians must choose to be in the arena, get our hands dirty, keep on trying even if we come short again and again. God willing, we’ll be able to rewrite the history of Malaysia. Even if in the end we still fail to achieve our dreams, let us at the very least, fail while daring greatly.

I am coming to the end of the book and would like to end with these words from Tunku Abdul Rahman in his Merdeka speech in 1957 when our country first began, 

" But while we think of the past, we look forward in faith and hope to the future; from henceforth we are masters of our destiny, and the welfare of this beloved land is our own responsibility: Let no one think we have reached the end of the road: Independence is indeed a milestone, but it is only the threshold to high endeavor — the creation of a new and sovereign state. At this solemn moment therefore I call upon you all to dedicate yourselves to the service of the new Malaya: To work and strive with hand and brain to create a new nation, inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty — a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world."

Friends, let us work with our hands and brains toward a new Malaysia, inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty - a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world. Malaysians must continue to strive hard until justice rolls on like a river and righteousness like a mighty stream.