On the occasion of his 74th birthday, the Governor of Penang, Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas gave awards and medals to those who have made important contributions to the local society. Among the list of 1138 was our founder Master Cheng Yen, who was conferred the DGPN (Darjah Gemilang Pangkuan Negeri) which carries the title 'Datuk Seri'. This is the highest honour which the Governor can grant to an individual in recognition of their services to the country and society.
Before the award ceremony, volunteers of Tzu Chi Malaysia went to Hualien to report the good news to the Master. The news made headlines in the Chinese newspapers in Malaysia and was indeed a great honour for all Tzu Chi volunteers in the country. The foundation in Malaysia was established 19 years ago by a volunteer from Taiwan named Ye Ci-jing. Now there are 2569 certified volunteers in 88 liaison offices across the country. Throughout the years, the volunteers, who come from all walks of life, have helped more than 750,000 people of all races and religions in Malaysia.
In response, Master Cheng Yen gave this message to the Malaysian volunteers: “This is certainly recognition for all Tzu Chi volunteers. You are the ones who have done all the work and I am truly moved by your contribution. You’ve turned dialysis patients into volunteers, transforming their lives. I am very thankful to all of you.”
As one of its next projects, the Malaysian foundation is planning to build a Dialysis and Education Centre in the near future to help more people who are suffering.
Situated on the northwest coast of peninsular Malaysia, Penang state has a population of 1.5 million and is the eighth most populous state in the country. It is highly urbanized and industrialized and has a great diversity of ethnicity, culture, language and religion.
In April 2011, Master Cheng Yen was included in TIME magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
The Master founded Tzu Chi in 1966 at the age of 29. From the first 30 followers who saved 50 Taiwan cents (S$0.02) from their grocery money each day to help the poor, the foundation has grown to nearly 10 million volunteers and supporters in 52 countries and provided relief in 72 countries to people suffering from disasters such as the South Asian tsunami, the Myanmar cyclone, floods in the United States and Australia, and earthquakes in Turkey, Pakistan, Sichuan China, Haiti, Chile, and Japan.