TEDxYouth@KL 2017: Of Hopes, Passions and Dreams


(This article is written using our senpai’s account, because why not)

“Hope, hope, hope!” is what Leonard Chua, a survivor model, told the TEDxYouth@KL crowd to repeat after him. Experimental musician, Takahara Suiko said during her talk, “Life will steer you into unknown territories.” and Rozella Marie, singer-songwriter and positive body image advocate told the eager-eyed audience, “It’s okay to make mistakes.” These are just some of the things the presenters said that left an indent in our hearts, or more so, filled that indent with new values to cherish and carry with us forever.

Held at EX8 in Subang Jaya on the 25th of February 2017, it was a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s not easy to find that many like-minded people crammed in one room like that. There wasn’t just an exchange of sappy quotes, but also the sharing of ideas, giving the audience a perspective on life beyond the limits of tomorrow. Hannan Azlan, was phenomenal and had the whole crowd laughing but also left us thinking about Malaysian values—or the lack of it.

John Payne, a conservationist made us realise that there are currently just 3 Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia. The crowd loved it when they found out that Ernest Zacharevic is the man behind so many of the murals we see in our country.  Aaron Shunk enlightened the crowd on what it means to be an empirical sceptic, that cynicism in science is something vital. Sasibai Kimis moved the audience on how the country’s handcraft industry is something worth paying attention to and how important it is to support local artisans.

We had the chance to interview a fraction of the presenters. Our questions were; what is a life lesson that you learnt the hard way? What small thing can a youth do to make someone’s day better? What impact do you want to leave on the world? If you had to teach a course in class, what would you teach? How important is it to you that you incorporate Malaysian culture into what you do/ your work ethic? Here are their answers.

Wan Hazmer

I wish I knew how to make games when I was younger because I actually started getting into game design very late. When I was 16 years old, I used to go to my cousin’s house to play games and I kept complaining about the games and then my cousin would say “Shut up don’t complain, just play”. Then, I thought that maybe there’s a reason why this level design is bad. There’s an original creator doing this job, right? It just occurred to me when I was 16, that people are creating games. If I knew earlier, I would’ve done so many independent games on my own because some people start very early in European countries like Finland. I just met this guy at APU who is only around 17 years old and has already created three iPhone games on the iTunes store. I played games since I was 5, but it never occurred to me that I could make one.

I think what small thing that a youth can do is dream small because usually the problem with dreaming big is that you try to create something big but at the end of the day, you fail, then you give up straight away. That’s a common pattern. You can dream big but have smaller dreams in between those big dreams. So that it’s easier to pursue and it’s more relatable. I think the youth nowadays have a lot of passion for certain things but they don’t have realistic goals. That’s very important as well. Like it’s for your own psychology right? If you fail, obviously you don’t want to fail two times, right?


There’s a lot of things, but firstly, what I want to leave is the fact that first of all, games are no longer a toy. And that everyone can play games, so I’m really hoping that everyone will play games and I hope that I can be part of that contribution. The second thing is that I would like to tell everyone that creativity is as important as science. My dream is to build a school that doesn’t treat art stream like shit. For example if they fail PT3, then you go to the art stream. That’s how bad the art students are actually treated. So, I wish that people would learn creativity from when they’re small, like in Japan.

Well, I think it goes both ways. First of all, thanks to my growth in Malaysia, I can go out. So, I have to give something back to Malaysia. I think it’s common sense but the other thing is, I’m very thankful for being different than all the other Japanese people. So, bringing the Malaysian identity also helps myself to become different, or else I’ll be just like them and they wouldn’t hire me. Why would they? They want something different. I can bring something different from the table. So, it goes both ways, it’s for the country’s sake but it’s also for my sake.

I think that it’s not entirely the game’s fault. And I don’t think it’s entirely the fault of the person who’s judging. I think, it’s partly how the game is designed. Sometimes games are designed in such a way to waste your time. There are a lot of games nowadays on mobile phones that actually keeps track of—for example, when you travel, then it takes up your stamina and then it will only make your stamina go full again when your next train ride for that day comes. So, these kind of things are engineered in such a way that you will be addicted to a game and pay for the game. So yeah, it is the nature of business, per say. But then again, nowadays, games have contributed a lot to technology. We have virtual reality for example and we have AR. You have a little video where a surgeon actually uses virtual reality but he’s actually performing the surgery in another country. This is made possible by games. So, I don’t think it’s a very realistic dream to say that games will be super beneficial for everyone and it will not be wasteful at all but at least indirectly, it’s also affecting a lot of other industries. Hopefully it will go through that channel.

Professor Cheong Sok Ching

I think one of the lessons I’ve learnt is that humans are very trainable and resilient and can take a lot of bad things happening to them or a lot of stress. So, basically we’re trainable and I think a lot of times we allow ourselves to put limits to ourselves. For example, giving this TEDTalk was not an easy thing—it’s quite scary but it’s something that I pushed myself to do and I hope people will do that because every time you push yourself just a little bit more, you find that you can do it and from that point, you can push yourself a little bit more and continue to improve. I think that’s a big lesson that I’ve learnt.

In my opinion, probably just doing our part. If we can do our small part, and do it really well, and if we do that collectively, I think the world would be a better place, so for example if I’m a cancer researcher, I do my research really well by making sure that whatever results I find is the true results and not something that I buat cincai and then somebody cannot use the results. So, if every single person can do their job well, even if you’re somebody that sweeps the floor. I think, if everybody can just do their part, that would be great. It can be something simple. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do great things.

I’m really passionate about being a cancer researcher. I’m not sure whether we’re going to find a cure within my lifetime but I hope that I would have put us one step closer. And, a lot of my time is also spent on training young cancer researchers and inspire them to carry on this journey so even if I don’t really solve the problem in my lifetime, I could pass the baton to somebody else.


A lot of my work revolves around my job, but I think one of the things I’m very passionate about is getting young people to realise their potential. So, a lot of my talks in universities are not revolving around cancer research but more on how to reach your potential and how do you push yourself to do that. I think a lot of it is self-confidence. For example, I studied in Malaysia. I got my PhD in UKM Bangi. So, when I tell people that my degree is from UKM and when I’m standing up there, people assume that I got my education from Cambridge or Oxford one of the ivy league universities but that’s not the case. I’m 100% from UKM. Yes, I did spend a little bit of time in the UK but I think, technology is so easy now. You can download any lectures you want to listen to. You can communicate with everybody. It doesn’t replace being face to face but I think there’s really no excuse for people not to do well and if they don’t, I think they’re limiting themselves. It’s a personal limitation.

I think we just need to remember that every human being deserves respect and that relates to Malaysia. We just need to treat each other with respect and that’s very much the Malaysian way, I mean we’re very sopan, I think Malaysians are very generous and one of the things I think is important especially in the line of work is teamwork. You have to be very generous with regards to teamwork. I mean, the team wins, not the individual.

Rozella Marie

I learnt to love and accept who I’m truly am and it began just a few years back because we (women) do experience insecurities and tend to find love in the wrong places. We expect external factors in order to prove ourselves’ worth when it really comes from the inside.

I’d created a platform, True Complexion to promote positivity and celebrate diversity and have the public relate and connect with the people under this project and to reflect on themselves.


Malaysian youths now might not know what Malaysian ethics is but, the culture that we should maintain is being friendly so the youths should smile more to make someone’s day better because it’s the little things.

The people need to truly accept themselves especially in an Asian country like Malaysia where the folks are shy and rarely express themselves. If we can change this mentality by starting to incorporate this in schools, we can at least stop problems like bullying primarily in social media.

Takaharu Suiko

I wish I was braver at being random because when I think too much, I couldn’t do new things that I wanted to do. A person should do what they do best and set up their own league.


I spoke to Davina Devarajan (presenter manager of TEDxYouth@KL) and we talked about how most of the things that we do in our youth is just a collection of stories for us to tell the next generation and its impact may affect those who are close to us like our family and friends and that’s fine even if it doesn’t reach out to the world.

I try not to think too much about carrying Malaysia (as a representative) on my back because when I went to the Red Bull Music Academy, I went to represent myself and not worry whether what I’m doing is the Malaysian way. It’s my responsibility to carry myself and if it reflects on my nationality so be it.

Ian Yee

As a journalist, the most basic thing that we should do is to be responsible in the way we report and educate people when we write about wrongdoings as well as speaking out for those who don’t have a voice.

I hope I could lead the way in inspiring the new generation of journalists who understand the significance of what they’re doing and not giving up on the principles that we’ve worked with for decades.


Journalism is the kind of profession that affects other industries and all levels of societies from government to corporate to NGOs which is why it’s important to have a good, solid institution of young journalists who do their work responsibly.

I run a journalism program for teenagers and it’s all about keeping a balance of technical skills and the right principles like accuracy and objectivity. It shouldn’t be just about, “Oh, here’s a camera and just go play with it!”.

The digital media environment has become so antagonistic to the extent that everything we (journalists) do isn’t right anymore; we are either accused of wiping away the truth or trying to be sensational. The problem with social media is that the voice of reason rarely speaks out and people need to be more factual, give good reasons and step in and say, “Well, this is my opinion…”.

Feature image courtesy of Jeddi Images.

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