Ahad, 16 Februari 2014

The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Albert showed the nation how sheer determination led him to success

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: In 1999, a young boy named Albert Wong captured the nation's attention through the pages of this newspaper.

Albert suffered from the muscular dystrophy condition known as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). The disease is due to a genetic defect which prevents or slows down the formation of dystrophin in the muscle cells, without which the cells will degenerate.

At that time, there was a pioneering treatment option in the United States, and through the support of The Star's readers, more than RM500,000 was raised to give Albert a chance in life.

People from all walks of life, especially students, rose to the occasion and did their own fund-raising activities for this good cause.

Although the treatment did not work, Albert persevered, and readers were kept posted on his developments through the years.

Over the years, Albert showed what a disabled person could achieve with true grit and determination.

He had, by circumstances more than by choice, become a public celebrity of sorts.

Albert passed away peacefully at his home in Taman Megah, Petaling Jaya, yesterday morning. He would have turned 26 on July 21 this year.

The day before, he had just completed his final 500-word abstract for his masters thesis under the supervision of Azmi Sharom (one of our columnists) at Universiti Malaya.

I have followed the progress of this young boy who grew to become a fine young man.

He was an A student in his own right and scored the maximum As in the UPSR, PMR and SPM. For the SPM which he took in 2005, he emerged as the top disabled student in the country (12A1s).

In March the following year, when the results were announced, there was some uncertainty over whether Albert would be awarded the JPA scholarship to further his studies.

Due to some bureaucratic misunderstanding, his application had been rejected. Albert decided to take the battle head-on, even when there were private companies willing to sponsor his tertiary education.

He prevailed and got the scholarship to do law at a private college. At that time, Albert said it was more important to get the system right than to try and pull strings to get things done.

The JPA officer who handled the case was touched to see that an OKU could be so capable and determined to pursue further education and promised that he would handle such cases with more sensitivity in future.

Albert never let his condition affect his commitment to do well. Neither did he ask to be treated differently from anyone else. Both in primary and secondary school, Albert swept most of the school prizes.

Each time his turn came, the prize-giver always had to come down from the stage. It was a scene that moved his teachers and the parents who turned up. And we always clapped the loudest for our Albert.

After he was awarded the JPA scholarship, I wrote that "it was always difficult to observe Albert's progress up close and personal. Intellectually, he was growing up to be a fine young man. Yet physically, he was heading in another direction. But his spirit never wavered."

But Albert's story needed to be told because in tracking the progress of such an outstanding disabled student like Albert, we are also trying to give encouragement to others who may be in a similar situation.

Soon after he received his "second class, lower" for his LLB, he cheekily told me, "Yes, I know I am capable of doing better!"

But he was determined to go for his masters, and although his qualifications did not give him immediate access, through the help of various individuals who believed in him, he was allowed to do his masters.

His thesis was on the death penalty, a subject that he plunged into with much passion.

Albert was especially pleased that the UM campus is disabled-friendly and that he was treated just like any other graduate student.

"Azmi gives his students a lot of leeway. He seems to trust that his students know what they're doing. He also believes that his students are mature enough to complete their tasks," Albert told me.

His father, Paul Wong, the principal at the Methodist Boys School in Kuala Lumpur, said those who know about Albert's disability would be truly amazed at his achievements. When he was doing his A-levels and law studies, he had already lost the ability to write on his own. But the University of London allowed Albert to use a scribe to assist him. Under the arrangement, he would dictate his answers and the scribe would write it down.

As Azmi put it, "Albert was a very good student; full stop. He was smart and intellectually forceful. His disability, for me was not an issue. I never felt the need to demand any less from him as far as academic rigour was concerned because I knew he could do it.

"Sure, there were physical limitations (I was his scribe for his Research Methods exam!) but that did not affect how I viewed him and more importantly how he viewed himself. I enjoyed working with Albert. I wanted very badly to see him wheel his way across the stage to collect his degree. But for now I will have to comfort myself with the thought that his work was completed and we will submit it for examination as he wanted. I will miss that young man."

Albert will be fondly remembered by all of us for his grit and determination to battle the odds and emerge smiling and his usual jovial self.

MCA EGM this coming Sunday

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA has sent out a notice dated Feb 14 for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to be held at Wisma MCA here on Sunday.

The agenda is to consider and, if thought fit, to pass a resolution – "That the General Assembly resolves to accept all government posts at all levels".

The notice, signed by its secretary-general Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, also listed reasons for the EGM.

It said majority of the Chinese community have disagreed with the party's decision not to participate in the local authority, state and federal government since the May 5 general election last year.

According to the notice, organisations such as the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Malaysia and Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia have openly urged MCA to rejoin the Cabinet and all levels of the Government to perform its duty as a Barisan Nasional component party.

It stated that MCA's absence at the federal, state and local authority levels has resulted in the party not being able to raise issues concerning the policies affecting the Chinese community, and that this is not only felt by party members but also the Chinese community.

It said the annual general meeting (AGM) in 2011 had decided to decline all government posts if the party performed worse in the 13th general election compared to the 12th general election, and it was passed as a single resolution.

This, it added, was reaffirmed in the 2012 AGM.

The notice added that the Oct 20, 2013 EGM's decision to accept only the local authority and state government posts was an anomaly.

The party, it said, had difficulties implementing the earlier resolutions, and this had delayed and affected the party's participation in the national-level policy decision making.

On the short notice meeting, it said the MCA president had at the Feb 13 central committee meeting directed the secretary-general to give a shorter notice of not less than seven days to convene the EGM as per Article 31 of the party constitution.

The central delegates for the coming EGM can start to register on Feb 22 – between 3.30pm and 8.30pm; and on Feb 23 – between 8am and 11.30am.

The central delegates must produce their membership card (smart card) for registration.

There will be a pre-EGM dinner at Wisma MCA on Feb 22.

Guan Eng rejects casinos, calling them objects of danger

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has ruled out having casinos in the state.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government would not approve casinos which he described as objects of danger.

"Even though the economic benefits from casinos are manifold, the social and spiritual cost is too heavy and high for our multi-cultural and diverse society to bear," he said in a statement yesterday.

Lim said the state would rather boost tourism growth and revenue with economic catalysts like IKEA, a furniture retailer.

The state government, he said, was pleased that IKEA had decided to site their first store outside Kuala Lumpur in Batu Kawan, Penang.

"This decision is a strong boost of confidence for Penang's aspirations towards becoming an international and intelligent city," said Lim, who met IKEA's technical and design team, comprising its project investment manager Mikael Winqvist, regional design manager Tim Denoon and assistant expansion manager Edward Ng, yesterday.

He said a one-stop centre for advanced manufacturing, services and logistics hub, an education centre of excellence, a premier residential location and a commercial and retail centre would be built under a joint-venture between IKEA's parent company, Ikano, and a local company on a 99.15ha plot in Batu Kawan which was sold by the Penang Development Corporation for RM484mil.

Lim said the land use comprises 12.14ha for the development of the IKEA Store and Phase 1 of a shopping mall, 18.21ha for the mall's Phase 2 and 68.8ha for mixed development purposes. The mall would, hopefully, be completed in five years, he added.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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