Of heavy-hearted adieu and warm welcome

Prof Chuah (right) thanking Tun Ling for the appreciation plaque

A ceremony marking the farewell for UTAR’s immediate past President Ir Academician Emeritus Prof Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Chuah Hean Teik and welcome for current President Ir Prof Dr Ewe Hong Tat was held at UTAR Kampar Campus on 16 October 2019.

Held after the Emeritus Professor title conferment ceremony, the farewell-cum-welcome ceremony was also graced by UTAR Chancellor Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and spouse Toh Puan Ena Ling; UTAR Education Foundation Board of Trustees Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Sak Cheng Lum and spouse Puan Sri Dr Irene Sak; UTAR Council Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Ting Chew Peh; UTAR Council Members Dato’ Seri Ong Ka Chuan, Tan Sri Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn, Datuk Lim Si Cheng, Datuk Lee Leck Cheng and Hew Fen Yee; UTAR President Ir Prof Dr Ewe Hong Tat; and UTAR Planning and Development Committee Advisor Tan Sri Hew See Tong and spouse Puan Sri Woon Mun Fah.

Recalling his first encounter with Prof Chuah as a junior in Penang’s Chung Ling High School which later led to teacher-student as well as final year project supervisor-supervisee relationship during university days and then as colleagues, Prof Ewe treasured the many opportunities of being able to work closely with Prof Chuah in the field of higher education. “I also value the simple idea and heartfelt thought of wanting to dedicate myself to education. I believe it is very important to be reminded of the original intention (初心) when one gets tired with work or is demotivated. This will remind us of the love and desire to contribute to the society and help develop the younger generation,” said the University President. He added that with the solid support of the Chancellor, Board of Trustees, and Council, he will continue to elevate the University to a new level following the dedication of staff in teaching and R&D collaboration as well as excellence showed by students and alumni in different areas. “I promise I will put in all of my best efforts and dedicate myself to the betterment of the University,” Prof Ewe reassured.

Prof Ewe thanking Prof Chuah for the mentorship throughout the years

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) Dean Emeritus Prof Dr Cheong Soon Keng represented the staff of UTAR in delivering a speech. Sharing several fond stories and memories associated with Prof Chuah, Prof Cheong revealed that it was Prof Chuah’s noble intention and vision of UTAR which touched his heart and subsequently convinced him to support the initiatives as a founding Dean of FMHS. “Despite the difference in our profession previously, we share a lot of things in common especially in our views of educating the younger generation. Now, I’m proud to join the founders of the University in building a hospital for UTAR. Under Prof Chuah’s leadership, UTAR has also been transformed into a learning university through the mechanisms put in place by him which will facilitate UTAR to continue improving itself,” the FMHS Dean continued. A firm believer that UTAR’s various efforts of elevating itself into a research university are in the right direction, Prof Cheong is hopeful that UTAR will one day become not only as prestigious as MIT and Harvard University, but also as the birthplace of a Nobel Laureate. “While we wish Prof Chuah a happy retirement, we also extend our warm welcome to Prof Ewe as the new President. We wish you good health and luck, and we will certainly give our full support to you to keep the UTAR flag flying high,” Prof Cheong concluded.

Prof Cheong conveying his best wishes to Prof Chuah on his post-retirement days and also to Prof Ewe on his new role as the President

Representing UTARians was the 2019/2020 Student Representative Council (Kampar Campus) Chairperson Lam Jen Yee who expressed her gratitude to Prof Chuah for transforming UTAR into a higher learning institution promoting societal impact. “As someone who walks the talk of the University’s vision and mission, Prof Chuah’s actions have certainly inspired a lot of undergraduates like us to continue improving ourselves. Thank you for the service and also contributions to the University as well as the society throughout these years,” Lam enthused. Congratulating Prof Ewe on his appointment as UTAR President, the student leader also expressed her admiration of Prof Ewe for being the epitome of strategic leadership with compassion and love. “Prof Ewe is to me an inspiring leader and I remember he once said, ‘A successful person does not depend on how intelligent he is but how fast he can adapt to changes’ to which I truly agree,” added Lam, who continued to wish the University President all the best in his endeavours. 

Lam explaining the qualities she learnt from both Prof Chuah and Prof Ewe

Extending his utmost appreciation and gratitude to the Chancellor, Board of Trustees, and Council for their unchanging confidence and trust during his tenure as UTAR President, Prof Chuah disclosed that the services offered by these members throughout these years have always been voluntary and are therefore neither paid for nor reimbursed. The former President highlighted that it was their principle of non-interference in both administrative and academic matters and decisions which allowed him to develop UTAR professionally alongside a group of professionals. “When I first joined UTAR, I asked to be given 10 years to make UTAR a force to be reckoned with within Malaysia and the region as far education is concerned. Today, UTAR is not just a teaching university, but also a true university because it is a place where there is creation of knowledge through research, preservation of knowledge through publication, and dissemination of knowledge through teaching,” Prof Chuah said, further recalling several unforgettable and heartwarming moments when he was at the helm which reflected the togetherness and unity among UTAR colleagues and staff. “The most important thing a leader should leave behind is not his legacy, but a good system and good team of staff,” he told.

Imparting his words of wisdom to students and younger staff, the Emeritus Professor advised, “Remember that your degree will earn you bronze medal; your experience will earn you silver medal; your human networking will earn you gold medal; but it’s your right mindset which will be your trump card. It is important to equip yourself with all the knowledge and skills so that when the opportunity arrives, you will be ready to seize it.” He also reminded that dignity is hard earned and not demanded, therefore, one must have the wisdom to know the right time to hang up the sword, bowing out of the role with head held high.

The immediate past President also highlighted the importance of integrity as a foremost trait for anyone taking over as UTAR’s President in the future. He reminded the future Presidents of this not-for-profit University to be principled, decisive, agile, flexible, and also robust when faced with challenges as well as criticisms because UTAR is after all one of the shining gems in the Malaysian higher education landscape and looked up to by others.  Proclaiming his “102% level of confidence” in Prof Ewe as the succeeding President, Prof Chuah reassured that UTAR will continue to move on to greater heights under the leadership of Prof Ewe and full support from the UTAR team.

Concluding his farewell speech was a summary of the “seven stages of the heart’s journey” in which Prof Chuah started with “the reaction of the heart to carry out a duty” (心动), which is followed by the determination (决心) to perform the task wholeheartedly (尽心). And in the process of doing so, Prof Chuah described it as a “cultivation of the heart” (修心). “The last three stages of ‘hearts’ aren’t easily reached by most, but I’m lucky enough to have experienced them. The development of UTAR has so far been following my heart’s wish (顺心). And when I discover that there’s a successor, that is when I am relieved (放心), and decide to retire happily (开心),” he shared.

Prof Chuah sharing some memorable occasions which tug at his heartstring during his tenure as the President

Commending Prof Chuah’s 11 years of dedicated services was the presentation of a plaque of appreciation by Tun Ling to Prof Chuah.

Tun Ling (left) presenting the appreciation plaque to Prof Chuah

The first performance to set the ball rolling was Tan Sri Ting, Prof Chuah, and Prof Ewe’s surprise rendition of The River Runs Red (满江红), a song based on the lyrical poem by Song Dynasty’s general and patriot Yue Fei. The trio sang to the guitar accompaniment by Tan Sri Sak, local record producer Chow Kam Leong and friend Ah Vong.

From left: Prof Chuah, Tan Sri Ting, and Prof Ewe singing The River Runs Red

This was followed by a choir performance by Toh Puan Ena and friends who serenaded the crowd with timeless music pieces such as Chinese folk song Mo Li Hua (Jasmine Flower茉莉花) and the late P Ramlee’s ever-familiar Getaran Jiwa (Soul Vibrations). 

Choir performance by Toh Puan Ena Ling (third from right) and friends

Performance by choir group Ena and friends comprising Puan Sri Lee San Choon, Datuk Tan Swee Lai, Lee Yee Wee, Tan Kai Yong, Bao Ming, and Chan Ngim

The guitar ensemble also belted out golden oldies such as Bee Gees’s Words as well as Cantopop godfather Sam Hui’s From the Heart of a Loafer (浪子心声)and Friends (朋友).

From left: Ah Vong, Tan Sri Sak, and Chow forming the guitar ensemble

Tan Sri Sak displaying his talents of singing and playing the harmonica

Further enlivening the event was a string of uplifting performances by the staff and students to show their gratitude towards Prof Chuah.

Division of Human Resource Director Marchie Lim Pin Sim singing pop ballad Colours of the Wind

From left: Faculty of Arts and Social Science lecturers Raphael Thoo Yi Xian, Pong Kok Shiong, and Chin Ying Shin performing classic Chinese hit Applause (掌声响起)

Faculty of Business and Finance Specialist Loh Chun T’ing belting out well-loved hit single You Raise Me Up and The Phantom of the Opera’s musical number Think Of Me

Public Relations student Esther Khor Kai Qi ending the line-up of performances with Teresa Teng’s timeless ballad I Only Care About You (我只在乎你)

The ceremony’s curtains were officially drawn following a delivery of Auld Lang Syne by the UTAR Philharmonic Orchestra to bid farewell to Prof Chuah.

Group photos of Prof Chuah with UTAR staff during the ceremony

A similar luncheon was also held at UTAR Sungai Long Campus on 24 October 2019 to bid farewell to Prof Chuah and welcome Prof Ewe.

Prof Chuah joined UTAR in March 2008 as the President and retired in September 2019.

Faculty of Accountancy and Management Dean Dr Sia Bee Chuan recalling memorable moments and advice given by Prof Chuah

UTAR Sungai Long Campus 2019/2020 SRC Chairperson Leo Cheong Zhe representing UTARians to express their appreciation to Prof Chuah

Prof Chuah (right) admiring a photo album of his Emeritus Professorship conferment ceremony on 16 October 2019 while Prof Ewe looks on

Prof Ewe (left) presenting a fruit basket as a farewell gift to Prof Chuah

Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science Dean Ir Prof Dr Goi Bok Min (left) presenting a fruit basket as welcome gift to Prof Ewe as UTAR President

Faculty of Creative Industries Dean Dr David Tneh Cheng Eng (left) giving Prof Chuah a framed card containing well wishes and signatures from the UTAR Management

Prof Chuah (third from left) with a gift from Registrar Yim Lin Heng (middle) and members of the Registrar’s Office

Clockwise from top left: Performances by Mechanical Engineering student Mok Wang Quan, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Chief Administrative Officer of Hospital Project Chor Choy Yook, Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science Ho Chan Cheong, Programme Coordinator for Non-Science and Technology Programmes Curriculum Development Dr Ngeow Yeok Meng, and Faculty of Creative Industries Head of Department of Modern Languages Maxwell Sim Yik Seng

Performance by UTAR Sungai Long Campus SRC (left photo) followed by a group photo with Prof Chuah and Prof Ewe (right photo)

Group photo of the farewell luncheon attendees

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