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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 00:00

An ‘Investment’ Without Expectations for Monetary Returns

Written by  Tan Kim Hion,KL & Selangor / Translated by Fu Jia Lik

Yong Lok Mooi worked hard all her life and was diagnosed with cancer in the later stages of life. She felt that life is full of uncertainties but she does not blame others for it. Instead, she feels blessed for being able to help the Tzu Chi International school. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]

Sixty-three-year-old Yong Lok Mooi has a good eye for investment, even from the beginning of her entrepreneurial days. She had dedicated her time and energy in her younger days towards her career, earning herself a steady life into her old age. After her retirement, she decided to convert a house into “bricks”, without the hope of high returns, but with a heart of love and blessing towards young students.


Yong Lok Mooi could not help but smile as her sister, Yong Mee Moy praised her as a good investor with keen insights. Looking back on her journey over the years, Lok Mooi, who is currently single and battling cancer, did not feel a single regret. Instead, she calmly looks upon and accepts all uncertainties that life throws at her. She deeply believes the Buddhist teaching of karma. She finds herself blessed for being able to continue doing good even now.

Learning a skill to start-up a factory

Lok Mooi retrieved a cheque for RM120,000 and happily passed it to Mee Moy. The two sisters looked at each other, unable to hide the joyous expressions on their faces.

In gratitude, Mee Moy, who is a Tzu Chi volunteer, exclaimed, “Thank you sister! Thank you for supporting Tzu Chi International School, thank you!” Lok Mooi responded saying, “This donation has always been a wish of mine, no thanks needed at all.”

Although Lok Mooi does not have a worry for the remainder of her days, she is very grateful for the deep bonds with her sisters whom she lives with. Mee Moy knows that her sister has worked very hard her whole life, and has given up a lot for her career, family and siblings. All of Lok Mooi’s money is hard-earned, but she never kept them only for herself. Instead, she donates them to Tzu Chi International School Kuala Lumpur (TCISKL) in order to help future students.

Upon hearing Mee Moy’s words, Lok Mooi thought of the hardships she faced at the start of her career. Lok Mooi came from a poor family with ten other siblings. She is the sixth child and despite her love for reading, she was forced to stop studying after primary school in order to start working.

Lok Mooi said, “At a very young age, I had to help my mum with housework and also take care of my younger siblings once I returned from work.” She remembers that her childhood days were not spent without a care. Instead, she had to follow her fourth sister to a sewing factory to help out and also take care of her siblings.

After working various jobs for years, Lok Mooi’s fourth sister encouraged her to learn embroidery. Lok Mooi was very grateful towards her fourth sister who gave up RM10 each month for her to pick up this skill even though her salary back then was only a meagre RM30 per month. With dedication and perseverance, Lok Mooi mastered the skill very quickly and was able to gain businesses.

From hand embroidery, Lok Mooi saved enough money to buy an embroidery and sewing machine. She had to carry the heavy machine around with her to her clients’ premises to help with embroidery work. At that time, completion of each logo embroidery only gave her ten cents, and she had to even bring her own machinery with her. Due to her detailed and fast work, she received many orders. Later, an Indian client who admired her skills and dedication offered a partnership, suggesting that she focused on embroidery work while he did the sales and marketing.

Since then, Lok Mooi started her embroidery business from home and business grew. She started teaching her sisters how to do embroidery and sewing of logos. With the help of family members, they started an embroidery factory at their old home. At the same time, in order to keep up with technology, they started using electronic sewing machines to replace manual ones, which later on evolved into computerized systems.

Impermanence of life and learning to let go

As the youngest daughter of the family, Mee Moy remembers that Lok Mooi was not only very hands-on, but also brought in family members to start the business. Even Mee Moy, who was in secondary school then had to learn embroidery after classes. Due to their financial constraints, the siblings did not grumble and were instead willing to work hard alongside Lok Mooi.

“Sixth sister’s hardworking spirit was our support. I remember when we started the company, we needed a bank loan to buy a shop lot and car. However, we did not have any assets to mortgage, nor did we have any capital then. Without a bank loan, our only choice was to convert the old home left behind by our father into a factory. We worked daily and only rested at midnight,” recalled Mee Moy.

With a smile, Mee Moy shared that the lighting at the old home was poor. Everyone worked in dim lighting and together they built up the embroidery business. Lok Mooi, who started the business with nothing, relied on honesty and integrity to win her customers. Despite going through a number of economic crises, the Yong sisters’ embroidery factory stood strong without a hitch in business. Instead, it even gave rise to other businesses that were passed on to the siblings to manage.

Mee Moy was grateful for Lok Mooi’s dedication over the years that allowed the younger siblings to live without worrying about material needs. Lok Mooi herself did not chase after enjoyment or comfort. Instead, she studied Buddhism and practised charity. After Mee Moy became a Tzu Chi volunteer, she would often share about Tzu Chi’s contributions and societal work to Lok Mooi, who always supported her siblings without a second thought.

In 2013, Lok Mooi was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. After her hysterectomy, she realized the impermanence of life. As her other siblings already have their own family and careers, she decided to terminate the Yong sisters’ embroidery factory after discussion with her siblings to focus on taking care of herself.

“In the face of my illness, I realized that I had worked so hard over the years without caring for my health. This is the cause of my sickness,” said Lok Mooi. She did not blame others for it but faced her treatment with a positive spirit, and learnt how to live with her cancer.

Lok Mooi’s cancer recurred at the end of 2016, and her 2017 was spent in treatment and recuperation. Although she does not know how much longer she has to live, the Buddhist teachings in her have helped her to accept and face her illness. She takes care of her physical self through regular exercise and a mindful diet. Other than that, she has also started to manage the assets that she owns.

Converting a house into ‘bricks’

More than 20 years ago, Lok Mooi had bought a low-cost house, which she had rented out at RM400 monthly over the years. During the recurrence of her cancer, she thought of the monthly rental income which was used up. Since she now lives with her sisters and has no family of her own to worry about, her savings are already enough to cover her current lifestyle and treatment costs. She thought that selling the house and donating the money to those in need would be a better decision instead.

Thus, when she went to the house to collect rent, she recalled Mee Moy telling her that Tzu Chi has gained approval to build an international school and a large sum of money is needed to build this holistic platform that covers kindergarten to pre-university education.

“At that time, I decided to sell the house and donate the money to Tzu Chi International School,” said Lok Mooi. Unexpectedly, as soon as the thought of selling the house arose, she managed to find an interested buyer almost immediately. The sale went smoothly and after deducting the sales and legal cost, there was RM120,000 left. Mee Moy suggested for her to donate this sum of money to Tzu Chi and become a Tzu Chi Honorary Board Member. At the same time, the money can be used to buy the raw materials needed to build TCISKL.

Lok Mooi has always respected the wholehearted dedication of Master Cheng Yen and her followers. She felt that by becoming an Honorary Board Member, she can not only become a part of the Tzu Chi family, but is also able to help by donating money to TCISKL. Hence, she agreed to Mee Moy’s suggestion.

The administrative process of the house sales took six months. Lok Mooi received payment in October 2017 and immediately donated it to Tzu Chi. Feeling blessed, she shared that having the intention of doing good does not directly allow one to do so. Now that she is able to convert a house into building bricks for the school, she truly felt that it was worth it.

She said, “I did not study much when I was younger, so I hope that other children are able to get more education. It is scary to hear of children in their teens who commit murder, take drugs and burn down houses. Education with love is really needed to save these children.”

Lok Mooi noticed today’s troubled society with low morals. She is happy that Tzu Chi has decided to build a school as Tzu Chi’s humanistic and life education will be able to bring up children who are independent, morally-inclined and able to contribute towards the growth of society.

Lok Mooi believes that every action taken by Tzu Chi has a planned direction. She hopes that Tzu Chi is able to educate groups of good talents and through them, plant seeds of kindness all over the world. Seeing hope in the future, she smiled and said that this is the first time she is donating such a large sum of money to a school. She happily mentioned that her friends had suggested that she travels and enjoys herself using the money from the sale of the house. But, she was not moved by those suggestions and instead held firm to her decision of using the money on plans that will contribute towards society.

“Money spent on enjoyment is gone just like that. But by using it to build a school, it plays a much bigger role and is an act of kindness that lasts through the times,” said Lok Mooi. She stressed the importance of giving back to society and how it is every person’s responsibility to do so.

After passing the cheque to Mee Moy, Lok Mooi said that her contribution is just a small one. Once TCISKL is built, there is still much work and support needed to build this educational platform. With a sincere heart, she said, “You all can do it!”

A simple line of encouragement encompasses all of Lok Mooi’s hopes and blessings, which is also the best gift she is giving to the students.

Note: Years ago, Master Cheng Yen called upon all kind people to contribute towards the Tzu Chi Hospital Building Fund. In response to the Master’s appeal, Tzu Chi volunteers initiated every means to raise funds for this cause. Back then, NT$1 million was a huge amount. As the Master was very grateful to these patrons who had donated over NT$1 million, she appointed them as Tzu Chi Honorary Board Members to show her appreciation and commended their acts of kindness as a role model for everyone to emulate.

 

 

Yong Lok Mooi has always supported Tzu Chi. She felt that it is a great affinity to be able to become a Tzu Chi Honorary Board Member. In the photo, Yong Mee Moy is sharing the details of Tzu Chi Honorary Board Member to Lok Mooi. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]   Yong Lok Mooi (left) passing the cheque to Yong Mee Moy (right). The two sisters looked at each other with a smile. Lok Mooi said to Mee Moy, “You guys can do it!” [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]

Yong Lok Mooi has always supported Tzu Chi. She felt that it is a great affinity to be able to become a Tzu Chi Honorary Board Member. In the photo, Yong Mee Moy is sharing the details of Tzu Chi Honorary Board Member to Lok Mooi. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]
 
Yong Lok Mooi (left) passing the cheque to Yong Mee Moy (right). The two sisters looked at each other with a smile. Lok Mooi said to Mee Moy, “You guys can do it!” [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]
 
Yong Lok Mooi regularly supports Tzu Chi’s activities. The photo from July, 2011 shows Lok Mooi (2nd left) supporting the vegetarianism promotion by holding a vegetarian meal in her factory. Yong Mee Moy is at the front row, fourth from the left. [Photograph by Lim Choon Huat]  

Yong Lok Mooi regularly supports Tzu Chi’s activities. The photo from July, 2011 shows Lok Mooi (2nd left) supporting the vegetarianism promotion by holding a vegetarian meal in her factory. Yong Mee Moy is at the front row, fourth from the left. [Photograph by Lim Choon Huat]