Tough times call for selfless heroes
05 May 2021 | TheStar

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is not short of unsung heroes, many of whom willingly and selflessly step forward to help the needy and less fortunate without expecting anything in return, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

The chief judge of the Star Golden Hearts Award (SGHA), now in its seventh year, said this was why these individuals and groups were being singled out and duly recognised for their selfless acts of kindness and dedicated work.

“An unsung hero is someone who is dedicated to the needs of deserving groups and the poor. They do it not for monetary benefits nor honours but with the duty to help the poor, the downtrodden and the less fortunate.

“They do this as a sense of duty because they have a golden heart. These are the people we want to identify and recognise, ” he said in an interview.

Lee said the impact of SGHA continues to grow every year with the award receiving a record 515 nominees last year, consisting of individuals, groups and organisations.

Lee said he believes the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic have not discouraged these unsung heroes from carrying out their selfless acts or prevent nominations from coming in this year.

“I believe there are still plenty of them out there ready to serve, ” he added.

SGHA celebrates everyday people who make a positive impact on society and promote unity among Malaysians.

It was launched in 2015 with Yayasan Gamuda becoming a committed partner in the following year.

The theme this year is “Little Big Changes”.

SGHA is supported by Star Foundation, the charitable arm of Star Media Group Bhd, aimed at delivering meaningful initiatives with lasting outcomes to a diverse group of beneficiaries.

Yayasan Gamuda head Ts Sharifah Alauyah Wan Othman said the Covid-19 pandemic was one of the many challenges over the past year.

‘’We know that the effects of the pandemic will remain for some time and will need to be addressed, ’’ she added.

Sharifah Alauyah also said the partnership with The Star has dramatically increased its impact in improving the lives of communities as a whole.

With the unprecedented events of the past year, she said they saw change makers exploring ways to quickly adapt their strategies to address rapidly mounting issues.

Star Media Group chief content officer Esther Ng said they could not have asked for a better partner in doing good and were looking forward to bringing SGHA to greater heights together.

She added that this year, they were honoured to have a new judge on board, Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) people vice-president Farah Othman.

Ng said Farah would bring new perspectives and insights from the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Malaysia, since over the years there has been an increase in nominations and winners from the social entrepreneurship circle.

“SGHA has honoured many incredible individuals and organisations over the years. By amplifying their stories of doing good, our past winners have gone on to make a bigger difference in their respective social causes, ultimately transforming people’s lives for the better.

“This is one of Star Media Group’s ways of fulfilling our responsibility as a media organisation – to help shape the nation and promote unity among Malaysians, ” she added.

A total of 10 SGHA winners will be selected and one will be awarded the coveted Gamuda Inspiration Award.

Nominees undergo a stringent selection process which includes internal screening, shortlisting and final judging by the panel of esteemed judges.

Lee, Sharifah Alauyah, Ng and Farah are among the eight esteemed judges for this year’s SGHA.

The others are former Yayasan Kebajikan Negara chief executive officer and environmental advocate Datin Paduka Che Asmah Ibrahim, Professor of Medicine, Universiti Malaya and International AIDS Society president Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, prominent social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi, as well as child protection consultant and former Social Welfare Department assistant director Vijayakumari Pillai.

Nominations are open to any Malaysian individual, group or organisation which carries out selfless acts or long-term initiatives to help others irrespective of race, religion or background.

The public can nominate candidates for the award at from now until July 31.