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Close Up How This Award-Winning Perdana Fellow Found His Voice From A Tragic Loss

How This Award-Winning Perdana Fellow Found His Voice From A Tragic Loss

Tan Chee Yong founded The Hubb Movement as a King's College International Relations student (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)
Tan Chee Yong founded The Hubb Movement as a King's College International Relations student (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)
By Jessica Liew
By Jessica Liew
March 15, 2019
Determined to make a mark for himself after the loss of his parents, The Hubb Movement's Tan Chee Yong became a mouthpiece for youths, intellectual discourse and nation building.
With Baru Bian, whom Chee Yong had the privilege to shadow as a Perdana Fellow for the Minister of Works  (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)
With Baru Bian, whom Chee Yong had the privilege to shadow as a Perdana Fellow for the Minister of Works (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)

The leadership trait is strong in this bright, bespectacled, 21-year-old: The fighting spirit and vocal candour flows effortless from Model United Nations delegate, Tan Chee Yong, over brunch at a mamak. Despite his age, the Khazanah Nasional Scholar of International Relations at King’s College, London, wears multiple hats, including Perdana Fellow, debater, speaker and writer.

The humble student believes that these achievements wouldn’t have materialised were it not for the untimely passing of his parents in his formative years. His father’s death affected his studies in primary school, followed by the sudden loss of his mother, Jane Wong, the Malaysian manager of Fendi, in 2016. 

As an only child, the Kajang lad was left to pick up the pieces. “It had a huge impact upon my thinking and my way of comprehending the meaning of life. I realized that time is limited,” Chee Yong reflected. Rather than dwell on his misfortune, Chee Yong set about carving a new life. Within a few years, Chee Yong had snapped up a coveted scholarship, won awards at international debates, and founded Malaysian youth leadership platform, The Hubb Movement. This is how Chee Yong does it, In his own words.

My Mother’s Legacy

Chee Yong and his mum, Jane Wong, on holiday in Taiwan in 2013 (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)
Chee Yong and his mum, Jane Wong, on holiday in Taiwan in 2013 (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)

My mother is a strong woman who will never surrender to hardship and difficulties. She taught me the value of perseverance, dedication, and determination. She fought for what she believed and cherished, without thinking of giving up even when she was battling breast cancer.

Tackling The Struggles

At an interview for CityplusFM Interview 106.0  (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)
At an interview for CityplusFM Interview 106.0 (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)

Managing my own finances, legal arrangements and implementation of the last will and testament, land and property transfer, insurance affairs, investment management, and juggling my academic studies all happened at the same time. When my mum passed away, it was less than a year for me to submit my UK universities applications as well as my predicted grades required for entry.

See also: 10 Deserving Malaysians Who Have Worked Their Way To International Acclaim

What I learned As A Perdana Fellow

Chee Yong had a chance to go on site East Malaysia's Pan Borneo Highway construction, and experience the culture of Sarawak during his stint as Perdana Fellow  (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)
Chee Yong had a chance to go on site East Malaysia's Pan Borneo Highway construction, and experience the culture of Sarawak during his stint as Perdana Fellow (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)

It was an absolute honour to serve the nation as a Perdana Fellow in 2018. For 2 months, I shadowed the Minister of Works, Baru Bian, participating in ministry meetings and conferences, observe parliament procedures, conduct policy briefings and write speeches for the minister. I also got to learn international economic cooperation and follow the minister to East Malaysia to witness the Pan-Borneo Highway progress.

Balancing Studies & My Side Hustle

Sharing about opportunities in nation building with Malaysian students in London via The Hubb Movement's inaugural event  (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)
Sharing about opportunities in nation building with Malaysian students in London via The Hubb Movement's inaugural event (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)

I’m fortunate that my studies supplement my extracurricular activities. I can translate my knowledge and understanding of International Relations and current affairs into debate or talks and share it with a wider audience from different walks of life. This interconnectedness helps me to cope and balance between both.

Read, Read, Read

Chee Yong's task as a Perdana Fellow entailed taking meeting minutes, participating in meetings, and writing speeches for the ministry  (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)
Chee Yong's task as a Perdana Fellow entailed taking meeting minutes, participating in meetings, and writing speeches for the ministry (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)

Reading helps you to comprehend the world and enables you to learn from our past generations. If I were to recommend one ‘mentor’ or ‘role model’, I would strongly recommend you to marry yourself to the habit of reading.

See also: Novel Ideas: Andrew Yap And Jacqueline Ng Are Propagating Worldwide Literacy

A Fascination For Culture, Politics & Global Issues

Bantering with the Menteri Besar of Perak, Ahmad Faizul Azumu  (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)
Bantering with the Menteri Besar of Perak, Ahmad Faizul Azumu (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)

My father used to tell me bedtime stories about world history, the founding of Malaysia, and profound episodes like the Napoleonic War and China-Taiwan divide. This unconsciously nurtured my interest in the world around us. The philosopher George Santayana famously said,"Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." I believe that the preservation of a peaceful world requires thorough understanding of its historic experience. That will help us avoid past mistakes and let humanity progress.

Youths In Politics

Chee Yong with the passionate students and team mates he calls the 'Hubb Movement family'  (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)

There are two main channels to get started in political awareness: reading and participating in youth-oriented nation building initiatives. Putting aside reading, it is essential that young people follow up with current affairs, news and government initiatives proactively to know what is going on in the country and how they can contribute to our nation. The government’s youth program, the Perdana Fellowship, which I took part in, allows young Malaysians to learn about responsibilities of cabinet ministers and how the government ‘ticks’.

See also: A Letter To My Younger Self: Ivy Josiah, Former Executive Director Of The Women's Aid Organisation for 15 Years

The Differences Between Arguments &. Debate

Speaking to SelangorKini about his experience working for the Minister Of Works Malaysia, on the second last day of duty  (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)
Speaking to SelangorKini about his experience working for the Minister Of Works Malaysia, on the second last day of duty (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)

A good argument makes a good debate. Arguments are premises that we use to explore and to engage with people on certain topics analytically for the audience to understand the context.

Debates are closely associated with the founding principles of modern philosophy, or ‘love of wisdom’ in Greek. The kind of wisdom that the ancient philosopher value is based upon argument, reasoning and asking questions

Inspiring Youths Through The Hubb Movement

Tan Chee Yong founded The Hubb Movement as a King's College International Relations student (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)
Tan Chee Yong founded The Hubb Movement as a King's College International Relations student (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)

The Hubb Movement was established to encourage young Malaysian leaders to contribute towards constructive nation-building activities. We provide a platform for that both domestically and internationally, focussing on leadership development and intellectual discourses, from youth volunteerism and social movement to leadership training and knowledge sharing, and engagement with local communities.

See also: Bright Young Things: Rebekah Yeoh of Global Shapers Community KL

A Voice For The Youth

A selfie with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad  (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)
A selfie with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Photo credit: Tan Chee Yong)

John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." We all have the responsibility to impact our society and world. I believe that the future of our country lies in the hands of today’s youth. If you are passionate, do your part, do not underestimate the impact that you make today.

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Close Up Perdana Fellow Debate Khazanah Scholar Nation building leadership

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