Honouring the Father of Innovation in Creative Education

Address by Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr Lim Kok Wing at a celebration to honour the Father of Innovation in Creative Education organised by The Leaders magazine
16 June 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, first of all, may I thank you most profoundly for being here. For giving up tonight’s football matches. I see that as an absolute act of sacrifice. But if you go home straights, you will still be able to catch the North Korea and Brazil match. Go home straight after this.

Yang Berhormat Timbalan Menteri, Tuan Haji Fadillah Yusof, I must thank you for your kind presence. And the speakers, who have spoken very generously about me just now, thank you very much. Now I know myself a lot better. When Shahul said to me some time last week that he was going to organise his get-together, I said don’t be mad, World Cup soccer was about to kick off. He got so worried that he went to India and prayed for many days. It’s true—he returned only yesterday. I must thank Leaders magazine for hosting this occasion otherwise we wouldn’t be here. Thank you very much.

I will absolutely thank the speakers earlier for your generosity and thoughtfulness. You have been very kind to me. And I’m truly grateful to the Minister of science technology and innovation for being extremely generous to me. For the generosity of his support and the goodwill that could only come from him. And I must thank Yang Berhormat Tuan Haji for his support as well. His being here today is proof that he’s always been with us. Of all the recognitions that I have received over the years, this one must mean the most. Because it has something to do with what I’ve been doing my lifetime. And innovation clearly is the way forward for this country. There’s much talk about transformation but that’s not going to happen unless there’s pervasive innovation across the country and across all sectors. I would share this recognition with the people who have been working with me, working alongside me for the past many years. People who have stuck with me through thick and thin, and they often follow me to dinners. So some of them are actually here having dinner with us. I must thank them for the way they have been supporting me and of course not forgetting my two children who are unusual individuals themselves. I can tell you that at home I am no father of innovation. These kids are way ahead of me.

As we know it ladies and gentlemen, to bring about change has never been easy. But we also know that change has never been more pressing for this country. What is also true is the most people who are managing the bureaucracy are old school and prefer to maintain status quo. To keep the status quo. Working to bring about change immediately means challenging the status quo. Immediately it means challenging the norm. So often, it is a battle that cannot be won. So for someone who has been fighting for 40 years, that has not changed. You still fight every day to bring about change. But we also know that it is a battle that the country cannot afford to lose, so the struggle continues. I am taking advantage of the Deputy Minister when I say this. I’m sure he understands and appreciates the situation we are in. This is where young leaders like Tuan Haji Fadillah will make a difference. This is where he will be able to, and other young leaders will be able to, move from where we are to where we want to be. Know that the Prime Minister has made creativity and innovation the cornerstone of his endeavour to transform this country to bring about a transformed society. We can look forward to seeing greater momentum of change as we pick up acceleration.

I have to keep this short. There’s football waiting. To conclude, let me quote this: “The true worth of a man is not measured by the wealth he has acquired but quality of the people he has gathered as his friends.” And here we have lots of friends I’ve made over the years. The people I’ve met over the past several years. To be honest that’s my excuse for not being as wealthy as Ananda Krishnan. Let me thank you once again especially Yang Berhormat Tuan Haji Fadillah for being here and for making this occasion memorable. And many thanks to all of you for giving up two World Cup matches to spend time with us. And may I wish you the very best of luck for all future matches. Thank you and good night.