The inaugural Star award last year, recognising Malaysians who reach out to help others, inspired the pioneer selection panel to return this year.
CHOOSING the inaugural Star Golden Hearts Award winners in 2015 was such a heart-warming experience that all the judges have agreed to return to the panel, headed again this year by chief judge Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who is the chairman of Eco World Foundation.
And from among the 10 winners of the 2016 Star Golden Hearts Award, a person will be chosen by Gamuda for the inaugural Star-Gamuda Inspiration Award: Towards a Moderate Malaysia.
Being on the panel last year was a “source of encouragement” for judge Wong Young Soon, executive director of Malaysian Care, a Christian non-governmental organisation.
“There are so many dark things happening in society today – inequality, corruption, crime, extremism, self-centredness, environmental degradation, climate change,” he said.
Faced with these challenges, it is easy to give up working for positive changes.
But for him, being on the panel allows him to see that there are more out there who are doing their bit to make our country a better place, to shine a light in the darkness.
“This is encouraging and as a judge, I can play my role to highlight them to fellow Malaysians so that many more may do the same,” he said.
Judge Prof Adeeba Kamarulzaman, dean of Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Medicine and director of the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS, also enjoyed last year’s experience.
“It was very uplifting to read about so much amazing work being done by ordinary Malaysians to help one another,” she said.
Group managing director and CEO of Star Media Group Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai said they were very inspired by last year’s winners.
“It’s about remembering ordinary Malaysians and helping fellow Malaysians, particularly of other races and other religions.
“We want to cast the net wider this year and are calling on the public to nominate unsung heroes from all communities, across the nation,” he said.
Anas Zubedy, managing director of Zubedy (M) Sdn Bhd, was happy to join last year and to continue this year as it is in line with what he is already doing.
“The more we recognise people who promote unity, the more platforms we’ll create for unity,” he said.
Anas merged his personal goals with his business, providing avenues for moderation.
For example, his #SaySomethingNice campaign, which started in 2011, aims to bring out the best of Malaysians.
“If we create more moments of unity, we will dilute the moments of disunity,” he said.
Several of the other judges also bring a background in community work with them as they evaluate the nominees for the Award.
Lee is senior vice-chairman of the Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation and chairman of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.
Adeeba has been an executive council member with the Malaysian AIDS Council and chaired the Malaysian AIDS Foundation in the past.
She helps to run a community clinic in Kerinchi for people who use drugs, and to provide clinical services in Kajang Prison.
Young Soon and his colleagues at Malaysian Care help prisoners and ex-prisoners, drug addicts, people with intellectual disabilities, the urban poor, refugees and Orang Asal communities.
They provide job support, financial literacy training, microfinance, income generation and counselling, among others.
Last year’s judges, including The Star editor-in-chief Datuk Leanne Goh, will be joined by parasitologist Prof Dr Suresh Kumar Govind this year.
In addition to the 10 winners of the Golden Hearts award, Gamuda will be introducing a special moderation award.
“We are pleased to work with The Star in creating this special award, which aims to embrace diversity, and instil acts of kindness and social inclusion in our community.
“Moderation can be as simple as extending our thoughts and lending a helping hand to those in need, without asking for returns,” said Datuk Ubull Din Om, managing director of Gamuda Engineering.
“Too many times, we’ve heard of the plight of the less fortunate, and sometimes we wished we could have done more. Through this award, we would like to encourage more Malaysians to come forward with their acts of moderation and heroism – those borne out of selflessness, empathy and compassion for all without distinction as to race, religion, gender or social background.
“And when more Malaysians can do the same, we are on the way to become a model society,” he said.
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye will be revealing more about this year’s Golden Hearts awards in a future interview.