A man so engrossed with his 24/7 work routine and for what he is today, one may think that this gentleman would have no time to spare for his family and loved ones. To the contrary, this gentleman is none other than Dato’ Raymond Liew, who leads a simple life, shying away from high society where he was there, seen it, enjoyed it; and is now spending most of his spare time with his family and close friends.
In a world beset by strife, vulgarity and the inequities of human existence, it becomes almost inevitable that one develops a sense of cynicism – a kind of intellectual flak jacket, against the countless bits of inspirational fiction and half-truths that bombard our consciousness. It is an unfortunate corollary of a post-Facebook society that every other tale of triumph over adversity and circumstances is either one of pure fiction or otherwise heavily exaggerated.
At first glance, Dato’ Raymond Liew is not a man one would associate with the blue collar way of life. To many of his peers and friends, Dato’ Liew is just another well-heeled man in a sea of excess and capitalism. Dig deeper however, and you will find that Raymond – yes, that what he wishes to be addressed, is the product of an environment as unforgiving as it was unfair. Raymond stands tall as a self-made man despite or perhaps even because of the circumstances of his early life.
Of roaring heights and spectacular falls
“I attribute what I have today to the upbringing provided to me by my parents,” he enthused, “My late father may not have been educated in the academic sense but as far as business and family value is concerned, he was a giant in my eyes.” Raymond went on to elaborate, “My father inculcated in me a strong sense of integrity and accountability – where integrity comes from the heart!” he would accentuate. “What you practise in front of others, you must also practise behind closed doors – that’s integrity!”
Raymond continued, “When I was very young, my father was fairly rich – in my early years we lacked for almost nothing but because my father was by nature a very trusting person, his once thriving business collapsed around him. People owed him a lot of money but they never paid. In the traditional Chinese culture, my father valued their friendship far more than he valued pieces of printed paper.” Raymond, being the third youngest of eleven siblings grew wispy as he trudged on with his father’s tale of roaring heights and spectacular falls from grace. Lesson learned. “Certainly, it is one thing to rise up from difficult circumstances but it is something else entirely to witness the good things you once had disappeared.”
“Which is worse? To be born blind, never having seen the blue ocean? Or to behold the majestic of a cloudless night sky, the sight of a perfectly tailored suit on one’s frame – the vision of beauty that is one’s lover, only to have one’s eyesight taken away in a horrible accident? Believe you in me, the latter was far more difficult to handle.”
Raymond went on to expound, “But what choice did I have? My family and I had to go on living – we had to eat, so father did the only thing he could at the time – run a small coffee shop in Jalan Ipoh. We would wake up at 5.00am to prepare for the breakfast crowd. Initially, it was difficult to come to terms with, especially with memories of what we used to have in the back of our minds.”
Nonetheless, Raymond knew that the good thing in life had to wait – and wait he did. “All of us, brothers and sisters made a pledge that we would never be poor again so long as we could do it with a clear conscious.”