The Dragonfly Which Flew Away

By chance I caught the one-hour episode of Crossings last night over Astro. I had been a big fan of this inspiring programme which is a Caltex endeavour together with Discovery Channel. It is about inspiring people in Asia, people who had contributed one way or another towards their community or emerged as leaders and visionaries of their time. The tagline of Crossings is, when paths cross, lives can change which I find very apt as we often need someone to push us forward, either with a kind word, a smile or a blessing. With that, we soar.
In most cases, the people featured on Crossings have had to face their own challenges. What is common among these people are their drive, their belief in themselves and their persistent passion for more than just money or fame – they believe they can sincerely change the world in their own ways.
One particular compelling episode was about Soraida Salwala, a woman whose love for elephants saw her overcoming major hurdles in order to start, from scratch, an elephant hospital for these gentle giants in Thailand. She raised funds on her own, and along the way, garnered support from well-wishers.
In another episode, I learnt about the man and his motivation behind the highly successful Grameen Bank. I’d read about Muhammad Yunus a long time ago, as an undergraduate but never truly saw how incredible the idea was. He was a professor of economics who felt that poor people are credit-worthy but they had never been given a chance to prove they were. The Grameen Bank concept took off in a way that silenced his harshest critics.
Last night’s episode was truly amazing. It chronicled the life journey of Olivia Lum, the founder of Hyflux, a water treatment company which was given the task of spearheading Newater, Singapore’s answer to its water shortage problem. Although coming from a poor background, she had both business sense, opportunity and background in the chemical sciences to foray into the water treatment industry.
What’s ironical is that Olivia Lum started off as a Malaysian. She came from the small town of Kampar, Perak. She grew up poor with her grandmother and knew business was one way she could get out of the poverty circle.
I don’t think she’s Malaysian any longer because Singapore values her more than Malaysia I guess. She sits on a number of committees – she’s a board member of SPRING Singapore, the National University Singapore Council and the Singapore Exchange Ltd. She is also member to the UNESCAP Business Advisory Council, President of the Singapore Water Association (SWA) as well as a member to the Singapore Green Plan 2012 Co-ordinating committee. And if you googled for her, you’d be amazed at the accolades and awards that she’s been awarded plus all the great innovations she’s thought of.
One particular innovation – the Dragonfly – creates water out of air!
I felt rather sad after watching last night’s episode on Olivia Lum. While I am inspired by her success and so proud that she’s both Asian and a woman in a male-dominated industry, I can’t help but be disturbed by it all.
Is it me or do I see Malaysians flying high, contributing, creating successes… on other people’s soil! What gives?
Is it the lack of opportunity? The lack of appreciation? The lack of a conducive environment that prevents Malaysians from truly soaring on our own terra firma?

3 thoughts on “The Dragonfly Which Flew Away”

  1. I beg to differ on your last para. When a person achieves greatness, it does not matter which country they originate from or which country they are now contributing to. Most importantly is the greatness is to serve mankind, irrespective of borders, race or creed.

  2. Oh but it does Kate! That’s why Singapore tries its bestest to draw home its brightest people.Greatness attracts greatness. Why is a nation glorious? It’s glorious because of the people who contribute towards it. If we Malaysians want to go further, there’s really no need to send people to outer space. Just appreciating our own people, giving them opportunities to succeed and giving them the recognition… space to grow, to live, and contribute as Malaysians. That’s why brain drain taxes the country.

  3. i watched it too and errr, just found that she was from my hometown….. hehehe…i so the proud. but i was as dissapointed as u were, more so she was from places i am familiar with.


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