Inspirational Malaysian: Dr Wong Siew Te

“I’ve pretty much liked animals all my life. I kept all sorts of pets and wanted to be an animal expert since I was seven. I couldn’t get into the local veterinary school, so I went to Taiwan to do a Diploma in Veterinary and Animal Science instead. My professor was a wildlife biologist and I was his research assistant for two years. Not many people knew about wildlife then and the term ‘conservation’ had just been coined! That was when I realised that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

So, at the age of 25, I went to the United States for my Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology. It was there that I met my future advisor who, at the time, was looking for a Malaysian to do a study on sun bears. That was how it started. The more I studied sun bears, the more I cared. I felt that I had to do something about their plight. In 2005, I came back to Sabah for my doctorate and in 2008, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre had her humble beginnings.

I think my years of working alone in the forest helped shape my character. When you work outside the forest, there are always people around to help if you get into trouble. In the forest, if you get into trouble, there is no one to help you. You have to self-help. You have to learn and find ways to do it.
Call it persistency, endurance, or mere stubbornness. If a route does not work out, I will try plan B. If plan B doesn’t work, I will find plan C. I may take slightly longer but I stay focused and eventually, I’ll get there. Nothing is easy but as the Chinese proverb goes: 世上无难事,只怕有心人. Nothing is impossible if you put your heart into it.” – Dr Wong Siew Te, CEO and founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC)

#MySongsAndStories #LoveMalaysia 📷Photo by: Olivia Oon