Remembering an Unforgettable Individual

 Tony Leow Sun Hock 

Tony was my classmate at St John’s Institution, Kuala Lumpur during our secondary school years. He was a good-looking, well-built, pleasant and fun loving person with a cheeky sense of humour.

But there was also another side to him: Tony was a very determined person when he set his mind on a particular task or project. He also had a winner’s drive, stamina and energy to succeed. I sometimes felt sorry for an individual(s) who unfortunately got in his way once he was in this frame of mind.

No Guts, No Glory Approach

While in secondary school and when we were in Form Four, Tony was quite annoyed with a classmate who he felt was too cocky about his so-called prowess in judo. He was irritated to the extent that he challenged the guy to a fight behind St. John’s Cathedral after school was over for the day. Incidentally, the cathedral was next door to the school and the land behind the cathedral offered some degree of privacy.

Tony had that sort of bluster, bravado and bravery and was in my opinion, a rough diamond!

The fight was brief, explosive and decisive. Tony made quick work of it and it was over before anyone actually realised it. Tony had that sort of bluster, bravado and bravery and was in my opinion, a rough diamond! The next day, the class master inquired from the judo exponent what had happened to his face. He sheepishly replied that he had fallen from his bicycle! The rest of the class smiled knowingly.

In Shock and Awe

On another occasion, a friend of mine requested me to allow him to serve as a rally marshal during one of the motor rallies taking place in the estates and tin mines in the Klang Valley. I agreed and he partnered me during our night shift in an estate at about 1.30 am. It was not a pleasant situation: there were mosquitoes buzzing around us, there was almost total darkness, except when rally cars came screeching around the corner and it was a hot and humid night.

Then this friend requested me to allow him to sign off when the next rally car came up. I agreed and the next car was navigated by Tony. He was in an almighty rush and shouted impatiently and scolded my friend for being slow.

My burly friend was in a state of shock! He asked me afterwards: Is your classmate like that?  I replied: Yes, he is a very competitive person. Don’t mess with him!

Tried to Help Friends

Tony also tried on some occasions to assist friends. But these friends soon learned the hard way that Tony was a tough task master. He expected these people to work hard and not to give silly excuses. He did not brook any nonsense and was equally hard on friends who did not measure up.

I know of another so-called friend who was given a proper shelling by Tony when he asked for an ‘ easy job ‘ after his retirement from government service.  I believe this person was shell shocked by Tony’s unvarnished and directly honest response.

Devil May Care Approach

When a classmate who had migrated to the US visited us some years ago, I informed Tony. He immediately agreed to meet the friend who used to live along Jalan Templer in Petaling Jaya and also agreed to pick me up before meeting that friend for dinner. Tony decided where we were going to have dinner … at a Chinese restaurant along Jalan Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur.

Tony really believed in living life to the fullest even though he was truly mindful of the risks.

Tony also ordered the dishes: Hokkien style ( black ) fried noodles, Cantonese style( white) fried noodles, a squid and vegetable dish and a dozen sticks of satay. I tried to advise Tony about the danger of some of the dishes considering his heart condition. But in his usual, ‘devil may care’ style, Tony brushed this aside. He told us to ‘whack’ ( Malaysian speak for eat ) the noodles and he indulged in the dishes with relish. That is typically Tony in action. Tony really believed in living life to the fullest even though he was truly mindful of the risks.

Born To Be An Entrepreneur

With his winning ways and capacity for hard work, Tony was, I believe, born to be an entrepreneur.

He started his working life with a then well-known company called Anthonian Bookstore. This bookstore supplied almost all the text and workbooks for the many La Salle schools in the Klang Valley.

Next, he took up a position as a Sales Representative for Mobil Oil Corporation in Kuala Lumpur. He later branched out but remained in the motor trade business dealing with oils and lubricants.

In the early eighties, Tony started a business, SignPro Sdn Bhd that fabricated all manner of signages (signboards and signposts) for commercial enterprises and individuals. He built this business up steadily and in the mid-nineties sold off the business.

He was keen to re- focus his energies on another business which he had incidentally started way back in the seventies! Here too, a lesser individual would have given up because of the many hurdles he had to face. But this was not an option for Tony.

He had the support of a major motor car manufacturer as well as the support of a few key players. Soon he was able to go full steam ahead in his seat belt business. He grew the business, bought over his previous major competitor and even managed successfully to list the company, Hirotako Bhd on the main board of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE). That was a singular, major achievement by any measure of standards.

Many-Faceted Personality

There are many other facets to Tony’s riveting personality.

For instance, as a family man, that is for his wife and children to share. As a businessman, that is for his business colleagues and maybe some employees to share. As a super keen golf enthusiast, that is for his golfing buddies to share. I also know one friend who decided it was too stressful playing golf with Tony that he subsequently declined further invitations! That is Tony for you… always extremely competitive even in the company of friends.

I chose to share only those elements of his multifaceted personality that I am familiar with because the Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur had requested me to do a write-up. The Kiwanis Club wishes, in this appropriate manner, to honour and remember Tony during its 40th -anniversary celebrations in 2016. Tony has been medically out of action for a few years.

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4 thoughts on “Remembering an Unforgettable Individual

  1. Hi Ben,

    I know that I have read your draft article on Tony not too long ago but now that I have perused it again , it really makes me proud of my brother .

    You have the knack of delivering a story that compels the reader to want to finish it for your simplicity but effective manner to draw attention on the subject matter.

    I am pretty sure if Tony is not in his current situation, he would feel abashed by your praises and insist to buy you a hearty meal as a small gesture of thanks!

    Well done Ben, and on behalf of my brother & family , I sincerely appreciate the excellent write up of Tony which naturally triggers our minds to wander back to those good old days when things seemed less complex and people in general believed in living Life to the fullest !

    Regards,

    Eugene

    1. Thanks for the kind feedback Eugene. I wrote about Tony in all sincerity because he really is a ‘one of a kind ‘ personality. Eddie Low captured it correctly by stating that Tony graduated from the University of Hard Knocks……….I would like to add with honours! Cheers.

  2. Tony Loew Sun Hock, what a friend to many of our school mates to this day. I learned to swim with him in disused mine pools of Old Klang Road. After Form Five in 1962 while waiting for our exam results Lawrence Kit got a contact that we being SJI boys were invited to join Antonian Store on a part time basis. A group of us took the offer.

    Shortly afterwards I got a job with Cold Storage Supermarket. Tony joined Walls Ice Cream and then he moved to Mobile Oil. By chance I joined Esso Chemicals. Both of us soon realised this odd coincidence of competitiveness in our jobs but he is no match to anyone of us.

    He is proud to have graduated from the University of ‘Hard Knocks’ and a very determined self made man. I am proud to be one of his friends – in the real sense of the word.

    Cheers

    Eddie Low

    1. Glad that the memories came flooding back Eddie. Even though you are in Canada now, mere distance cannot stop the memories of a great friendship. All his friends, I am sure, will treasure the memories as we enter the last lap of our lives.

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