DGN Datuk Lee Chuen Wan
My journey into the Rotary world began in 1970, when I was installed as the President of the Interact Club of All Saints School. The Club was sponsored by the RC of Kota Kinabalu. It was the first Interact Club formed in Sabah. That’s when I first got to know about Interact and the Rotary motto “Service Above Self”.
For the next 12 years after I left school, Rotary slipped away from my mind. However, I was involved in other voluntary services. I joined the Lions Club and was also active in my alma mater The Anglican Schools Alumni Association. I had served as its President and was a member of the Board of Governors of All Saints School and St Agnes School in Kota Kinabalu. I was invited to join the RC of Kota Kinabalu but declined the invitation, as Rotarians of the Club were mostly senior professionals and managers, whereas I was then only in my late twenties! At that time, I was the Area Manager for Sabah of Dunlop Malaysia.
Then an opportunity arose in 1983, when the RC of Kota Kinabalu wanted to form a new Rotary Club. I was invited to join in the formation of the Rotary Club of Likas Bay and, together with 26 other members, we chartered the RC of Likas Bay on the 24th August 1983. My classification was then Manufacturing Rubber Products. I left the Club in 1987 to pursue my further studies of law in England. On my return, I was invited to re-join the RC of Likas Bay and on 24th August 1994, I was re-inducted.
I have served the Club as Treasurer, Club Service Director, Sergeant at Arms, Vice President, President Elect and in 2002-2003, I was the President. At District level, I have served as a member of the District Rotaract Committee, as District Public Relation Committee Chairman, as a member of the District Governor’s Committee and as District Community Service Committee Chairman.
I am amongst the first batch of RLI District 3310 graduates. I have facilitated in the District Public Relation, Membership and Rotary Foundation seminars as well as in the District TTT, PETS and DISTAS, besides being a moderator and resource person.
The Community Service Project which I cherish very much was started during my year as Club President in 2002-03. The Club embarked on “Project Smile” in which cleft lips and palate patients were given free medical surgery by an honorary Rotarian of the Club, Dr Sergius Ajik, who is a Plastic Surgeon. When Rotary celebrated its centenary in 2005, our Club operated over 100 patients in Sabah. So far, almost 300 patients, mostly young children, had their lips and palates corrected. “Project Smile” was also carried out in Laos and later on under “Operation Smile” in Cambodia, where about 200 children have been operated. Supported by the sister club of Likas Bay, the Rotary Club of Lu Chou Taipei, this project is still an annually affair.
Being a Rotarian has enriched my life in being able to assist the poor, needy and less fortunate members of our society. Through our contributions to the Rotary Foundation, my wife Naomi and I are also able to play our role in Rotary’s worldwide service and humanitarian projects.
Together with my wife Naomi, I have attended four Rotary Institutes, namely those held in Bali, Selangor, Taipei and Kota Kinabalu, a Rotary International Conference in Bangkok and the South Asia Summit in Hyderabad, India.
I am married to Naomi Chong for 36 years. Being a former member of the Senate of Malaysia, she has always been an active women leader. Since 1997, she is the President of the Girl Guides Association Malaysia – Sabah Branch. We are blessed with three children. Our son Sherman is an F&B Consultant in Brisbane. He is married to Ruixian and the couple was recently blessed with a son. Our first daughter Sherlene is a Solicitor in Brisbane. Last year, she got married to Andrew Banister. Our youngest daughter Sherwynna is in her final year to get her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Queensland.