A Message to the young Malaysian: you too can aspire…

About a man called Prof. Dato’ Dr Noramly B.M.

My husband Noramly* was born in a rice-growing village in Malacca.

As he was growing up in the post Second World War years, attending the local elementary school carrying his shoes because he didn’t want to get them dirty in the padi fields, he had high aspirations. He wanted to do well, so he looked around for people he wanted to emulate.

Back in those days, Malaysia was not yet independent of British rule, and in those times he knew he couldn’t aim for the top because he wasn’t British. So he looked for people like him who were successful. And because he had dreams, he chose the most important Malay he knew: the Chief Clerk of the district, serving his colonial master at the District Office.

“I’m going to be a Chief Clerk,” he announced to his Dad.

Fortunately, the coutry gained its independence and he found other role models as time went by, and had other dreams come to fruition as he grew older. University lecturer then Professor at the National University; Dean of the Science Faculty then Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and now Adjunct (Senior) Professor. Head of the Malaysian Nuclear Agency, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Licensing Board. Head of the Defence Research Institute. Deputy Director-General of the U.N’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria.

No other Malaysian has reached such a high post within the United Nations.

Always he felt that he had something to contribute, and that when he moved on he had left something good behind. He had, in effect, became a role model himself.

He is still striving, still wanting to contribute, still wanting to make the world a better place.

Oddly there are people who say he shouldn’t try: sit back and do nothing, they say. Retire. Travel. Go fishing. I can see their point, I suppose, but I know my husband, and that’s not him.

But much, much worse, there are others who say, what if you lose? How humiliating!

I don’t understand that last, at all. If he’d never tried, he’d probably be a Chief Clerk somewhere.

You have to risk failure to be a success. And there is no shame in the failure of dreams. There can never be failure in trying, especially when you have something to offer.

He is a towering Malaysian, worthy of emulation, an example to young Malaysians. And yet there are people who want to teach young Malaysians another lesson: don’t try, you may fail.

Shamefully, in this case, those are the people who look like succeeding.

What’s next I wonder: don’t send a Malaysian team to the Olympics – they won’t win?
*For people from other parts of the world: A Malay Malaysian has only one name (sometimes double barrelled like, say, Mohd Ali), followed by his father’s personal name. He doesn’t have a surname in the Western sense. My husband’s name is Noramly. I call him Ramly for short. His father’s name was Muslim. Yes, his name, just as Christian is a boy’s name in some countries, or Jesus in others. So my husband is called Noramly bin (son of) Muslim. His father’s name was Muslim bin Taib. And so on.


A Message to the young Malaysian: you too can aspire… — 8 Comments

  1. Re the Olympic comment, the Brits did that with Eddie Albert who was a ski jumper and stole the hearts of the Canadians, he didn’t win a damn thing, but he tried. I agree with you, strive even if you don’t arrive. I am so glad your husband decided to do so and to set an excellent example to the youngsters of his country, you must be very proud of your husband.

    Thanks for the explanation of Malaysian names.

  2. told my husband Abu about him and he said “oh yes” and remembered him from school days! i’m so happy to read all this, and still remember the loyal husband who goes to readings to support his wife.

  3. Hear, hear! I also admire him for his varied interests in the natural world – birds, beetles, ginger etc etc
    Regards to him too. Long time no see.

  4. I am immensely proud of him. It is tragic that there are some who believe that Malaysians should not aspire to anything in case they fail.

    They are working hard to make sure he doesn’t get a chance.

  5. Some cultures seem to have a “you must not lose face” attitude, which discourages people from trying too hard. Others, Oz included, have the “tall poppy” mentality – “don’t try to improve yourself: we’ll cut you down to size if you do”. Either way, it’s a great shame for young people to feel that it’s not Ok to aim high. I dips me lid to your husband and others like him, Malaysian or otherwise. He is obviously the Renaissance man for the new millenium!

  6. I have been reading with great interest about your husband’s desire to head a United Nations Organisation. I also have great admiration for you as a good wife. However, what crosses my mind and I am sure would have also been deliberated by the powers that be is to assess your good husband’s prospects of getting elected.

    I agree with you that your husband should have a chance but only if his chances of getting elected are indeed bright. If his chances are doubtful I do not see why taxpayers’ money should be spent just to let your husband “try” his chance.

    This does not, by any stretch of imagination, mean that I am against anyone striving to aim higher in life. It is in fact a good and commendable trait in anyone.

  7. Actually Paulina, campaigning for a post like this, when the candidate is not from a rich nation with money to burn, can mostly done by the various ambassadors of the candidate’s country without much extra cost.

    However, you are right. There is not much benefit to the country concerned. People in UN posts, after all, are supposed to be neutral. They aren’t supposed to favour their own nation’s interest. They are supposed to make the world a better – or safer – place.

    My husband feels that he could do that.

    And it is very, very difficult to know just who has a chance of winning until the first votes are cast. In the past, for this particular post, there was not a winner in the voting. In the end, twice, a compromise candidate was found after voting had failed to reach a 2/3rds majority. I have no doubt that most of the people standing thought they had a good chance of winning – yet none of them did!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.