It pays to be proficient in English language — Wong

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Wong (third left) celebrates with Swin City Toastmasters Club as Mohd Hisham leads in blowing the anniversary candles.

SIBU: Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh has called for will and determination in mastering the English language.

Speaking at the installation of Swan City Toastmasters Club’s new office bearers on Saturday, he said it was important for learners to get the correct approach and to then work hard at it.

Wong, who is also Local Government and Community Development Minister, said: “There is no born public speaker; one has to learn to communicate by breaking the ice, like getting over with stage fright and building one’s

vocabulary power. Then, it is all practices.”

The minister recalled that he hardly knew the English language when he was in secondary school here.

“I was a Senior Three student. When I went to Australia for further studies under the Colombo Plan, I went through a hard time. The Australian accent made it all the more difficult for me to cope.”

Wong shared his learning experiences, saying he picked up the language from scraps. He had kept a notebook so that whenever he came across an unfamiliar word he would take it down to check it up in the dictionary.

From there, he said he put the words in phrases to familiarise them.

He said pronunciation was another important part of learning.

Wong admitted that the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary and listening to news in English on television and radio had helped him too.

He recommended learners to tune in to BBC, ABC and CCTV 4.

He said if determined learners put in efforts for three to five years to master the language, it would change their life forever.

“I used to tell others to sweat for a goal for three to five years so that he can taste the fruits of success for the rest of his life.”

Earlier in his speech, Wong announced an allocation of RM5,000 for Swan City Toastmaster Club for their activities.

On the club’s celebration theme “Live With Passion, Speak With Impact”, he said the mission would help bring great change to the community.

“Passion comes from within a person. It drives him to excel.”

Wong, however, added two elements to it – passion with a vision and with discipline – for achievements at greater heights.

He quoted various great people over the century who had been driven by passion, like George Washington for promoting liberty, Florance Nightingale for nursing, Gandhi for universal love and peace, Margaret Thatcher for free entrepreneurship, Nelson Mandela for fights for justice, and Mother Theresa for serving the poor.

The in-coming president of Swan City Toastmasters Club, Wong Hing Lik, said in his speech that communication and leadership skill had helped trained individuals in his club.

He quoted the communication skill of world renowned speaker Anthony Robbins, saying he had helped a smoker to quit smoking without medication.

He called on members to unleash their power in passion.

“We have seen people changed after joining Toastmasters Club. Our organisation is a big family where members live, laugh, and grow together.”

In the speech of Toastmaster Area Governor Mohd Hisham Kahirul Nasir, he said he was proud that members in his area had achieved remarkably in communication skill and leadership training.

He challenged members to form two more clubs to create a new division for Sibu and Bintulu within his governor area.

On communication ability, he praised the locals for maintaining a high standard of English.

He said people in Sarawak had often been admired for their proficiency in the international language.

Swan City Toastmasters Club also celebrated their 10th anniversary on Saturday. The committee members cut their celebration cake together with Wong.

Also present was Toastmasters’ District 87 Governor of Division E Lau Pick Tai.

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