It is difficult to say what the toughest and greatest job is. Are they world leaders, specialist doctors, scientists, astronauts, engineers, accountants, or businessmen? How about being a parent? Being parent is a job that almost everyone can do, and while it is not easy, you definitely do not need superpowers to be a good one. In conjunction with Father’s Day, we talk to some of the heroes at INTI .
Being the head of the family is not an easy thing and requires sacrifice from 43-year-old Eng Guan Soh. As the eldest son, he understands how difficult it is to raise a family, especially since his mother struggled to support him and his brother and sister since they were young.
Eng Guan and his family in a photo taken back in 2020
“I will never forget the memory of losing my father at young age,” said Eng Guan who is father to three boys and one girl.
After he lost his father to an accident, his mother was the wonder woman who took on the roles of both parents. With the help of close family members, his mother managed to raise them all as successful individuals. Eng Guan, who is the Head of Group IT Services, was always there to lend his mother a helping hand at home. According to him, it was this experience that helped him see life in a different way.
Describing himself as a person who loves kids, Eng Guan used to be a weekend husband and father for years when he resided in Putra Heights and his wife lived in Klang to run a daycare centre. He said the long distance relationship made him learn things faster and motivated him to be a better parent.
“As a matter of fact, I am an expert in bathing babies because I used to do that for my children,” he said, adding that as his children have grown up they decided to buy a house where the family now stay together.
When asked what his definition of a superhero is, Eng Guan said a superhero is someone who has the power to do something others cannot. For example, a father who fixes items around the house and does DIY projects can be fascinating to children, but a superhero is someone who does the right thing. Since children mimic their parents’ attitudes and behaviours, he said should always try do the right thing in any situation. Meanwhile, on his plans for Father’s Day celebrations, he said the kids would usually gift him with crafts – something he enjoyed each year.
Just like Eng Guan, Ravi Nagaratham, 33, who is a senior executive at the Student Services Department at INTI International University, also used to be in long distance relationship with his wife earlier in their marriage. At the time, his wife worked at a school in Bahau, Negeri Sembilan. While he did not expect to become a father so soon, news that his wife was expecting left him overjoyed.
Ravi, who has been a father for three years now, said that becoming one was the best gift he could ever receive. The feeling he got when his wife gave birth to their son in 2019 was indescribable.
Ravi pictured with his family members during his master’s convocation ceremony in 2015.
“After I became a father, it made me start to think about all the sacrifices my father made in order to provide to my family before,” said Ravi whose father was an employee of TNB who would put in overtime hours and even do two or three part-time jobs to support their family of five.
Ravi makes it a point to take his three-year-old son to the temple to expose him to religious activities.
For him, Father’s Day should not be celebrated in just one day, but should be celebrated every day to honour and appreciate the men who give their all to their family. He said a person would never understand a father’s action or intention until they become a father himself. Ravi, who joined INTI in 2019, said he loves the organisation’s work culture as it provides work life balance and allowed him to focus on his family and completing his PhD.
“I am happy here and it shows when I go back home. When you love what you do, you won’t feel stressed and bring home your stress,” he said.
When asked what a superhero is to him, Ravi said a superhero should be able to multitask and take responsibility for others. For example, he believes in helping his wife with chores around the house as it is a shared responsibility as both of them work, adding that what he shows to his child now will influence the kind of person his child will grow up to be.
Aldif and his family pose for a Hari Raya family photo
Meanwhile, Mohd Aldif Zainudin, who comes from a family of nine siblings, is also aware of the struggle and hard work to raise a large family.
“We were not born with a silver spoon in our mouth and my father started from the bottom doing various jobs to support the family before he got job as a civil servant. Despite the difficulties, my father never neglected his responsibilities and made sure my siblings and I received an education. This encouraged me to be a responsible as well,” said Aldif who also has a 4-year-old special child.
Raising kids, especially with a special one, is challenging, but he never considered it to be a burden. Instead, he considered it a blessing to the family.
“I’m fortunate that INTI values family, and when my children require my attention, my supervisor has always been accommodating in giving permission for him to care for them. I will never my wife for granted as we both work so I make sure to help her out with household too,” said Aldif, whose favourite way to bond with his children is getting them ready in the morning and putting them to bed at night.
Aldif says raising a special child has its challenges but is always grateful for being blessed with one.
He said Father’s Day symbolises a father’s dedication to his children and we should make sure to appreciate both parents each day while they are still alive. While 37-year-old Aldif admits that while Father’s Day celebration is not part of the Malay, he said the celebration is becoming more accepted by society.
“To me the ability of a father to resolve problems and issues – no matter how simple – make them look like a superhero in the eyes of their children,” said the Training and Development Executive.
According to INTI International University Pro Vice Chancellor Kuok Thong Song, his eldest daughter taught him about fatherhood. Song, who lives with his family in Kajang, said he was grateful to be the father of two girls and that he enjoyed every minute of the journey.
Sharing his experience witnessing the birth of his now six and eight year old daughters, he said, “The most significant part was when the doctor asks me to cut umbilical cord and let me carry the baby. That experience meant a lot to me. Then I learned how to change diapers, bathe, feed and put a newborn to sleep. It was an interesting and exciting process.”
Recalling past Father’s Days with his own father, Song said it was not something they celebrated but he would take the opportunity to buy a gift using his own money. “Usually, I will buy a comb for my father because it was the easiest thing that I can think of,” he said with a laugh.
Song and his family during a holiday on Perhentian Island. He believes family holidays are a great way to bond and focus on loved ones.
Growing older, he realised that his father’s birthday was around the same time as Father’s Day so they would have a double celebration with the whole family.
“Every year my sisters and I will go back to our hometown to bring him out for dinner and cut the cake. Now that I have my two girls, they will be the ones making the birthday card and Father’s Day card for me and their grandfather,” said the Melaka-born Song who is of Peranakan heritage.
Song and his wife love spending quality time with the children, and they bond over bedtime stories and activities such as card games. Meanwhile, over the weekend they would take the kids to the park or cook together at home.
“My wife bought a mini electric cooker set and we’ll let them cook, but under supervision. After that, we will eat whatever they prepare for us,” Song explained, adding that he also encouraged his daughters to do arts and crafts as their grandmother was an Arts and English teacher.
Song said education was something his parents were very strict about, and he had to diligently follow a schedule when he was small. However, he takes a different approach with his own kids and allows them to engage in playful activities.
Song says weekend outings at the park on always spends time with his family in the park on weekends to strengthen their emotional bond.
“It makes me happy to watch them; one of the privileges of parenthood is cheering your children on as their skills improve. I prefer them to have flexible time so long as they made time to study and revise. They are still young and I want them to enjoy their childhood,” said Song who has been with INTI for over 15 years.
When asked what his definition of a superhero is, he said, “To children, a superhero is someone who is adaptable and willing to do things that other people might not do.” For example, he said he has seen a father accompanying a daughter to ballet class and also taking part in the class. This he said, shows how a father can be a hero to his own daughter.
They say a true hero is not measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart. As we celebrate Father’s Day this year, let us shower all the father figures in our lives with love, attention, and acknowledgement. Happy Father’s Day!