Dining and dancing aside, there is no doubt that one of the major highlights from the Tatler Ball 2018 is the award ceremony. Mind you, it wasn’t just about watching society’s best pluck beautiful trophies (courtesy of Lalique) and other gift prizes from Tiffany & Co, Farah Khan, Noritake, Fendi and Cortina Watches, but it was about listening to what they had to say about their journey, experiences as well as lessons that they have learned, and shared with the people present. Here are some of the best excerpts of our awardees’ speeches, which, we admit, got us all lumpy-throated and teary-eyed.

1. <strong>Couple of The Year Fred Choo and Michele Kwok: As with business, marriage is not a bed of roses, but hard decisions pave the way for better things.</strong>

Partners in both business and love, Fred Choo and Michele Kwok seemed to have figured out the right formula to make it work for the past 30 years. The co-founders of Soul Society group helming big names in the F&B scene and other companies, made their way to the stage, chuckling and bantering all the way:

Michele: When we were told about this award, Fred and I looked at each other with the same response – that the committee of the Tatler Ball must have made a big mistake. Of all awards, couple of the year? Then it dawned on us: they weren't looking for the perfect lovey-dovey couple, but for the couple with the perfect imperfections. One that transcends legal binds, the norm, and the general expectations of what a partnership represents. One that has seen 30 years of friendship and of a special love and bond.

Fred: As with business and a marriage, there is never a lenient path. It consists of twisted turns, ups and downs. But on the same note, the hard thing to do and the right thing to do is always almost the same. We have had to make some hard decisions to do the right thing for our family, our business and for ourselves. As a result of this, we are still standing tall here tonight, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. 

See also: 11 Open Secrets From 8 Power Couples To Maintain A Successful Work-Life Balance With Your Partner

"As with business and a marriage, there is never a lenient path."

- Fred Choo


2. <strong>Force For Good&rsquo;s Dzameer Dzulkifli: The world needs a lot more people making a lot more difference; it is not about ability, it is about opportunity.</strong>

We learned many things from the managing director and co-founder of Teach For Malaysia when we tagged along to visit a school in a rural area earlier this year, but he had more to give during his acceptance speech:

“I accept this award with a lot of honour, but I also take it with a lot of love for everyone else out here in this room who is making a difference in the community. This community and this space needs a lot more people making a lot more difference to the kids that we serve.

“Just last week I was in Semporna and I heard a story about this 17 year-old girl who was about to get full SPM results. She wasn’t able to collect her certificate, because her grandmother (who raised her) didn’t have enough money. Thus, her grandmother had to sell her birth certificate, and hence, her citizenship in order to get her a bit of money for food. This is the challenge we are facing here in Malaysia. We may be in a bubble right now, but there are kids out there who don’t have the same opportunities that we did. It is not about ability, it is about opportunity.”

See also: Gen T: Dzameer Dzulkifli Of Teach For Malaysia On Building A Better Nation

3. <strong>Most Stylish Woman Datin Dian Lee: Being and accepting yourself, and having a kind heart will never go out of fashion.</strong>

After Datin Dian Lee thanked her parents, sisters Dianna and Diani and professing her gratitude and love for her husband Datuk Jared Lim, she shared what style really meant to her:

“Style, to me, is more than just fashion trends and label. But it is how one lives their lives, how one makes sense of their lives. When I was in my 20s, I was chasing the perfect life – wealth, recognition, popularity and Birkin bags. But that me in my 20s was coming from a place that believed I wasn’t enough. I needed all these things to make life complete.

"I believe the most stylish thing you can do is to have the courage to be yourself, to be imperfect, to embrace insecurities, flaws and demons, and to take risks to be who we truly are and not what is expected of us, or to the opinion of others. I believe our greatest style is being perfectly imperfect, and a kind heart with humility and compassion will always be in fashion.”

Read also: Most Stylish Woman 2018: Lessons On Love & Patience From Cover Star Datin Dian Lee

"The most stylish thing you can do is to have the courage to be yourself."

– Datin Dian Lee


4. <strong>Entrepreneur Par Excellence Awardee Azran Osman Rani: Life is not worth living if you&rsquo;re not taking risks.</strong>

Five months ago, we got news that Azran Osman Rani was hit by a fast-moving car while cycling. Some skull and spinal fractures, 37 stitches and a broken shoulder and elbow later, he was admonished by his friends and family for being irresponsible by cycling on dangerous Malaysian roads and that, as a father, he should not be doing that. However, the CEO of Naluri had an epiphany:

“I realised if there’s one thing that I want to leave my children with is that life is not worth living if you don’t take risks. Life is not about avoiding risks, but picking yourself up when you get knocked down. Similar with entrepreneurship, I don’t think entrepreneurship is about being smart or brilliant or having many great ideas. It’s about stumbling through a good one after going through many, many bad ideas. Nor is it about being lucky, because you have to go through a lot of bad luck until somehow, somewhere, something sticks. The difference really comes from the ability to pick yourself up every time you get knocked down, it’s about that stubbornness, that dogged determination, that tenacity and perseverance."

See also: 7 Key Tips To Being A Good Boss, According To Azran Osman-Rani

5. <strong>Diamond of Excellence Awardee Dato&rsquo; Simon Foong:&nbsp;It&rsquo;s not always about only you, but also about the people who have been there for you.&nbsp;</strong>

As the man behind bigshot brands such as The Body Shop, Aquaria KLCC and The Rift, Dato’ Simon Foong admitted that this award had given him more motivation, and expressed to the audience:

“At this point in life, I should not need anymore validation. But receiving this award in front of my family, friends and peers, has really taken it to a new level for me. When you’re given such a wonderful award, it’s truly not yours alone. It belongs to all the people who have been with you during the times when you were down, and when you were up.

“Therefore, I’d like to thank all those who have shaped my life – one way or another. I’d like to start by thanking Mina, my wonderful other half. She is my anchor, my moral compass and someone who equally shares this award. I also want to thank my family, without whom this journey has got no meaning at all, and my partners and colleagues. I’m on this journey together with you.”

See also: 7 Success Tips Every Young Entrepreneur Should Know

"When you’re given such a wonderful award, it’s truly not yours alone."

– Dato' Simon Foong


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