1. Tan Chin Leong
Age 39, Tan, who works as a tow truck service runner, is fondly known as Ah Heang.
However, the 39-year-old from Permatang Pauh deals with more than stalled and wrecked vehicles. According to The Star, he has rescued a significant number of people who wanted to end their lives by leaping off the Penang Bridge in the past decade.
Tan, who started working as a tow truck service runner after finishing school, said that over the years he had saved more than 10 people from jumping off the bridge. Speaking to The Star about how he identifies people who are about to commit suicide, he said most people who were contemplating suicide were easy to identify, as they tend to show similar behaviour.
Earlier in 2015, Tan stopped a 52-year-old man from jumping off the bridge. However, three days later, the man ended his life by jumping off the bridge. It was believed the man owed money to loan sharks.
While Tan couldn't prevent the old man's eventual act, there are also cases where he succeeds, even if it means he ends up getting hurt. For example, the case of a 30-year-old woman whom he saved from jumping off the bridge on 28 December 2015.
"She was standing at the edge of the bridge with her Perodua Viva parked by the roadside. I stopped my motorcycle, ran towards her and grabbed hold of her. She struggled to escape, and even bit hard on my arm until it bled, but I didn’t let her go. Until today, my arm still has a big scar from the bite," recalled Tan.
2. Dr. Felicia Chang
Age 40, Dr Felicia Chang a Malaysian doctor who will never make the headlines because the work she does is not about the number of patients she heals. She belongs to that special group of doctors whose sole responsibility is to help cancer patients live the last days of their life in comfort, and to die with dignity. She has taken a path few have travelled.
Officially registered as a person with disabilities (Orang Kurang Upaya), she walks with a limp. She had poliomyelitis when she was one. Her right leg is shorter, smaller and weaker than the left. In 2005, she contracted post polio syndrome which rendered her tired and lethargic as the day progresses. Despite these two issues, she never wavered in her commitment to be a doctor and friend to patients undergoing palliative care.
As a palliative care doctor, the doctor from Sitiawan, Perak springs into action whenever the terminally ill need her in their final journey
Her role is to alleviate the physical pain, emotional distress and spiritual needs of the dying. Called 'angel of death', she believes that while dealing with the dying is not easy, it need not be sad. Preparing patients for the arrival of death is not an easy task but this is what Dr Felicia Chang does every day.
Unlike doctors in other disciplines who can call the media in when they carry out some ground-breaking operations, Dr Chang's work mostly remains uncelebrated. She loves children and when they pass on, it shatters her.
She was the winner in the Humanitarian & Voluntary Service category of the Ten Outstanding Young Malaysian Award by Junior Chamber International Malaysia this year. She also clinched The Malaysian Women’s Weekly Great Women Of Our Time 2015 award for the most inspiring woman in the health, sports and wellness category.
3. Rizuan Kauhinin
Age 25, Rizuan became famous after a photograph of him bringing down an injured climber, on his back, through treacherous terrain, went viral. The injured boy was later identified as Singaporean student El Wafeeq El Jauzy.
The iconic photograph, which was shared all over the Internet for billions of times, with local artists drawing inspiration from it and painting tributes to Rizuan, is now a symbol of the heroism displayed by the mountain guides during the 5 June 2015 earthquake.
Rizuan, who is still traumatised by the quake that claimed 18 lives, still remembers that fateful day. He was with guests at nearby Mesilau Nature Resort when the quake hit.
Adopted by his aunt and uncle, as a licensed mountain guide, Rizuan's job is to bring people up and down the mountain safely. To be a mountain guide, the Dusun native says, one has to have a sense of responsibility to the mountain and the people.
Rizuan is glad that the summit has officially re-opened for the public. "I have my job back and I can only think about the good things that this mountain can offer the people. The trails are a bit different and you can see some of the destruction left by the quake, but when you reach the summit at sunrise, the view is spectacular."
While his family is not too keen for him to continue working as a mountain guide following the 5 June quake, an undaunted Rizuan says: "This is my hobby, my job, my life."
When he was asked how he felt about being "famous", Rizuan said it was not something he wanted. "When I saved Wafeeq, I was only doing my job, just like all the other guides and rescuers. We did this together," he said.
4. Zulkernai Bin Fauzi
He is the headmaster of a free school - Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih - for homeless kids that caters to underprivileged and street children in KL city area who have had little or no formal education. The special school offers completely free education, directly under the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry.
In order to ensure that they receive an education at SBJK, Zulkernai goes to the ground to see the living conditions of the homeless in the city. While it may sound easy, it's far from it. He has to go undercover and seek out homeless children who have neglected their schooling and coax them into attending school. He has even gone as far as impersonating a homeless person, roaming the streets of Chow Kit.
Describing his career as challenging but rewarding, the visionary headmaster wants to make sure that each education-deprived children are given the chance to live their lives as other children
His concern and dedication have resulted in the enrolment of 46 homeless children between the ages of four and 18 years into the school over the last two years. He believes there are many more children who are in dire need of help. "We once found several 17-year-old homeless teenagers who had never gone to school."
As many of the children are used to an independent and carefree life, Zulkernai and the other teachers arrange learning sessions accordingly, making it fun and interesting. It is an extremely fantastic and a farsighted initiative undertaken by Zulkernai. As it will not only get the kids off the streets and open new worlds and opportunities to them, it will also teach them to fish, instead of just giving it to them!
5. Dr Wan Wardatul Amani Wan Salim
One of the three winners of the L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellowship, Dr Wan Wardatul Amani is an accomplished scientist and her goal is to help communities through her research. After visiting flood-hit villages in Kelantan, she was inspired to create a portable microsensor device.
She invented the portable water quality assessment device which was able to detect a number of pathogenic bacteria E-coli in contaminated water in rural, flood-prone areas. The device, which she is currently working on is about 70% completed, will be able to measure the amount of E-coli, instead of merely detecting the presence of the bacteria.
Her invention will save lives by detecting drinking sources contaminated by E.Coli, a type of bacteria that comes from human and animal waste. Moreover, her portable microsensor will eliminate the need for expensive and heavy water-assessment equipment.
It will be working like a smartphone and users on the site will be able to send data back to the lab for immediate testing. The portable microsensor and the important data it collects on water quality could prevent outbreaks of waterborne diseases.
As the first Malaysian to lead a nanosatellite project, the passionate scientist wants to serve as a role model for other girls, to encourage them to pursue their scientific interests. "Why shouldn't the first Malaysian Nobel prize winner be a woman?" asks Dr Amani, who works as an assistant professor at the International Islamic University Malaysia, and is an engineer by training.
Editor's note: In no order of merit, this list about extraordinary Malaysians is an attempt to bring to light the names of people who are serving the humanity and society through their day jobs.