Slightly more than 25 years ago, the ERA founding Chairman, Dato’ Mohamad Sopiee and his committee had a vision: to create ERA as a platform for senior citizens of Malaysia who are willing to provide mentoring services to whoever wanting them. It is their foresight and dedication that has inspired so many of us to follow their footsteps. The untiring commitment of Tan Sri Dato’ Soong, the founding Honorary Secretary, is the shining example.
Many have followed the call of Tan Sri Dato’ Soong and become members of ERA. They are successful entrepreneurs, CEOs of multinationals and local companies, consultants, professionals, senior government officers etc. Many have retired but some are still actively pursuing their careers. They join ERA with a common objective: to share their expertise and experiences with those in need of assistance, especially those from the SMEs.
During the time of 1991-2001 when Tan Sri Dato’ Soong was the President, ERA enjoyed the utmost admiration from both local and overseas circles. When I took over the baton from Tan Sri Soong in 2002, I thought it would be easy to continue his legacy. Little did I realize that what seems an elementary task turns out to be a momentous one. Lacking the entrepreneurial, managerial, administrative and interpersonal skills and experience of Tan Sri Dato’ Soong, I found the going tough and I fear I may become the inhibiting factor that retards the growth of ERA.
Over the last ten years when I held the helm as President of ERA, there was lacking realization of the noble objectives of ERA. I felt that I lacked the ability to drive the organisation. The strength and greatness of Tan Sri Dato’ Soong was difficult to match, though I had put in my best. Having realised my weakness, I’d voiced my intention to step down as President in the last two elections. Your patience and kindness have given me courage to stay on.
Nevertheless, I am encouraged and extremely proud of the team who has performed extremely well. Team mebers have never failed to come forward to give their support and cooperation. With their untiring commitment and hard work, we have organized successfully two dinner functions to celebrate the 20th and 25th anniversary of ERA. Thanks to them, ERA now has a relatively comfortable cushion in the bank account. Through their efforts, ERA did spread its wings to the shores of Myanmar, Cambodia, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya. They have done tremendously well to keep members connected through emails, blogs, newsletters etc.
It has been my privilege to serve as the President of ERA for the last ten years. For me, it has been a wonderful and rewarding as well as a morale-boosting experience. I have the lovely memories of making new friends and sharing the wonderful times together and my humble realization of my limitations. Appreciatingly, I thank all of you for having given me this opportunity.
I am writing this column for the last time as the President of ERA. I shall not be seeking re-election when my term ends on 30th June 2012. I am most grateful to all the committee members who have been with me during the last ten years, especially our extraordinary IPP and Advisor, Tan Sri Dato’ Soong, the Vice President Dato’ Wong Pui Lam, the Honourary Secretary Mr. Soo Cheong Futt and the Honourary Treasurer Mr. Tai Chin Peow.
To the new President of ERA and the new committee, I wish you every success. Obviously, there is much work that remains to be done. I would like to suggest that you consider the following two items, which I have included in my list of “things to do”. Firstly, make full use of the MoUs that we have signed with other organizations. Collaborate with Technological Association of Malaysia (TAM), the Malaysian Association of Creativity & Innovation (MACRI), Myanmar Industries Association (MIA), Nigerian Chambers of Commerce and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCCIM) to fulfil our goals. Secondly, identify ERA with the Ministry of Human Resources so that we can bring benefits to our members.
Thank you for the opportunity for me to serve the association that deserves to grow and prosper. I strongly believe that under the new leadership, ERA will grow and prosper.
Dato Dr Ong Eng Long