Moved by the tale of ordinary Malaysians helping a boy battling cancer, William Cheah gave himself a mission: get the signature of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to highlight the plight of Muhammad Danish Maarif and his hard-luck family.
While the plan might have sounded simple, approaching the country’s top leader in an open location impromptu almost impossible for a public personality, let alone the average citizen.
But the self-described “Cina Apek” was not to be deterred. Holding a get-well card with a miniature Lego truck stuck to it, Cheah waited his turn outside the Perdana Suite at the Formula 1 race in Sepang yesterday, braving the tight security detail and competing VIPs for a chance to speak to the PM.
So when Najib actually took time to meet and ask him what he wanted, you can imagine Cheah’s elation and sense of accomplishment.
“You may hate him because of his politics. But he didn’t have to do what he did. He could have just walked on,” Cheah wrote on his Facebook wall as he relayed his experience.
Contacted by Malay Mail Online today, the director of a private company said the idea of getting the prime minister to sign the card was to help raise awareness and pull Malaysians together to donate to Danish’s family.
“I just wanted to raise awareness about the current need of Danish.
“The financial aspect of his medication, home improvements and funds for his mother’s upcoming treatment. She has been diagnosed with third stage breast cancer,” Cheah shared.
Some funds were collected after a charity group called Wishing Star helped highlight 11-year-old Danish’s situation. Thanks to that campaign, Legoland Malaysia was alerted to their young fan’s case.
The group organised a visit to Danish’s worn Kuala Selangor home after learning he was a huge fan of Lego and Star Wars but was unable to visit Legoland Malaysia in Johor Baru. His terminal-stage cancer meant making that simple trip impossible.
Cheah said what was more touching during his encounter with the PM was when the entire Olympic and Paralympic team from the recent Rio Games who was also present took time to sign the card to express their prayers for Danish, something he relayed in his Facebook posting.
“One by one they lined up to sign a simple message for a dying boy. Malaysian heroes who could have just decided to ignored me and my request. But they have heart in abundance and they showed that again today,” he wrote.
The posting drew strong support with many thanking and congratulating him for his efforts.
But Cheah was quick to play down the compliments and said what was important was that Malaysians help donate. The Lego project succeeded to his delight, but it sort of distracted people from the family’s need for financial assistance.
“Initially I was observing but didn’t feel the need to get involved as the Lego project was going well.
“However, when I was informed that the fund raising effort was being eclipsed by the lego focus, and the opportunity presented itself, I found this to be the perfect opportunity,” Cheah told Malay Mail Online.
But help is on the way. Cheah said there have been some funding pledges from several groups who were present at Sepang yesterday. One of the groups who have shown interest is the Association of Chinese Chambers of Commerce.
Now, Cheah said he hoped this would be the start to more help. He had also posted the bank account details of Mohammad Danish’s parents for direct donations. You can find the details here.
When asked what would he say to Malaysians after his experience with his attempt to help Mohammad Danish, Cheah said we needed to reflect and be more appreciative.
“I guess I would say that how we live our lives is in our hands. There are many people much worse off than us. Life is challenging but there will always be someone worse off. We can complain or we can do something about it. Live the life today that won’t make yesterday a waste.”
SYED JAYMAL ZAHIID