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BIQTO’s Humble Journey from SMCH SWAT Camp to TEDxAU

By Tan Victor 5928107, Arts Business English Graduate Class of 48

"When you’re given a great opportunity and didn’t know what to do,
say Yes and then figure it out later." – Sir Richard Branson

 

 

The source of that "feeling" can be traced back 7 years ago, when I was studying in Form 6 in SMJK Chung Hwa(SMCH) Kota Bharu Kelantan (Facts: Secondary Form1-5 & Pre-Uni Form 6 classes are in the same school). I was 18 and was part of the prefectorial body.

In the prefects culture of SMCH, we have a 3days 2nights leadership training camp that was held annually in school by the prefect seniors in Form 6. In 2014, after being dispatched from Malaysia’s National Service NS, I joined Form 6 in SMCH. Now before joining Form 6, I was already a prefect for 5 years, so naturally, I went back as one.

 

 

We had a team of about 30 seniors to organise the camp and with the blessings from Ms.Tan GB & Ms.Lew YS, I was appointed as the leader of the camp. Then with a stroke of luck, we named the camp "The Prefect S.W.A.T Camp". This concept was taken from our prefect motto. The motto - created yearsss ago, by our advisor Mr.Wong Kam Meng - was "You Stand, Walk, Talk and Act like a Prefect." Hence, with a slight tweak in words, we found the acronym S.W.A.T.

We were on to a good start plus a good name for our camp. But I was clouded by the privilege given to me as the leader and we were filming a short film called We Are The Prefects, that me & my core team neglected organising the camp. Long story short, the camp failed, BIG TIME.

 

  

That night in January 2015, while the juniors pulled their luggages and went back home with their parents, I sat on the parking lot floor with my team and our principal at that time, Puan Lim Pui Ling. She stood in front of us and shouted in Chinese, "你们很失败!", meaning "YOU ALL FAILED!."

The next morning, after packing all of our stuffs, I sat outside of the prefect room with Tar Chen, Kai Chui & Jen Anne. I cried… At first, I was targeted to be the student leader or Head Boy of SMCH, but after the SWAT camp incident, the teachers and principal decided to strip that privilege away. My ego was shattered. I felt useless.

   

 

Then on 27th September 2016, I joined ABAC. I joined many clubs & communities in campus and also in the city. Eg. Aiesec, Taekwondo, Airsoft, Toastmasters, AP, Tennis, SKAL, and I was always reluctant to join the committee team. I supposed it had something to do with the SWAT camp experience/trauma. I laid low, create videos & founded BIQTO.

Then near the end of 2019, I was recruited by Wave and Immy to join TEDxAssumptionU as one of the core team members. We were organising a speech event that was to be held in January 2020. But then, we had issues within the team which halted the progress. Throughout the whole time, the one thing I had in mind was the SWAT Camp experience. Then in February 2020, we had a MAJOR core team meeting with P’Jackie to resolve the issues.

That night, I was appointed the Co-License holder. We were in Sunny’s (Main License Holder) room with P’Jackie, Thiadra & Jennie. They asked me to be one of the Co-Li holders. I hesitated, then I thought about Richard Branson words "When you’re given a great opportunity and didn’t know what to do, say Yes and then figure it out later." I said yes.

Just when everything was about to get up and get going, the covid pandemic came and the whole world was forced to pushed back whatever was planned. We pushed the event back to July 2020. But the situation didn’t improve. So, we pushed it back again to March 2021. Within that timeframe, many have graduated, some left the team, and some went back to their home country. From a team of nearly 60 people, we were left with around only around 20+ who were ready to physically work.

We decided to make the event online. Then the challenge was to find a place to film the speeches. We prepared 6 topics & carefully selected 6 speakers. We locked in 16th Feb to film the speeches and decided to partner with a production company that I used to work for, to leverage their expertise for the brand exposure we could potentially offer. They agreed.

We found Black Box in Communication Arts (CA) building and everybody was ready to film on 16th Feb. But then because of classes and limited time, we pushed it to 27th & 28th Feb. (Sat & Sun). BUT, yes, another but. But we forgot to confirm with the CA staffs about the dates and during the day when we’re about to book the Black Box, they said, under the president’s order, nobody was allowed to use them on weekends. We were faced with another roadblock.

22nd Feb. (5days to filming date), the people from the production house came to check the venue.
With Arjarn Saharat’s help, we tried the True Co-working space, nope. Then the VMS mini-auditorium, nope.
Then museum, but nope.
Then squash court at the gym, big no.

We and the production people insist that the Black Box is still the perfect location to film & 27th & 28th Feb. were the only dates I was available to be filmed as emcees with Dylan. Because my flight back to Malaysia was set on 1st March. We tried talking to the Dean of CA, still no. That time, we were only left with 2 options.

One, postpone the filming date again, which means getting some frowns from the speakers, more pressure for the team as Finals was approaching fast.

or Two, we go talk to the only person who has the power override the system to allow us to use the CA building on weekends, Rev. Bro. Dr. Bancha, the President of our university.

That evening 5 pm, I drove my bike to the campus dormitory church to meet with Brother Amnuay, Vice President for Moral Development Education to ask for his opinion. He advised we talk directly to the "Number One." After that I sat beside my bike, texted Sunny & Thiadra. We didn’t know how we are going to pull this off.

Then I made a few calls to my friends in Hua Mak to ask whether meeting Bro. Bancha that day was a good idea, they disagreed. They said, "you have to make an appointment, he’s a busy man." So, I wrote the email to Bro. Bancha, doubting he will reply the next hour. Then I texted Sunny, "Let’s meet at MegaBangna 9 am tomorrow, go to Hua Mak & wait outside his office." We had nothing to lose. And the worst that could happen? We postpone the filming date, get a few frowns from the speakers and Dylan emceeing solo/another person.

I was ready and we were ready to risk it all.

The next day 23rd Feb., I woke up at 7:46 am to Sunny’s call. I had a bad headache, my eyes were so sore. I sat on my bed, thinking to myself, "Man, you’re flying back in a week already. There’s no need for you to push this hard. If it’s too overwhelming, just let it go man. Postpone the whole thing and you can help them virtually in Malaysia. Let the team and the production team worry about the venues & filming stuffs."

THAT MOMENT, I was about to text Sunny to tell him "Hey man, I’m not feeling well. I can’t make it. You have to go there yourself bro. "Then I remembered an old saying, "Don’t give up. Things could turn around when you’re at edge. When you’re on the brink of giving up, go 5 more minutes, go 1 more round, do 1 more call. Just DO ONE MORE. "Then Sunny called, "See you at Mega bro? "I said, "See you at 9 bro."

Took a cold shower, laptop into the bag, hopped on my Keeway Superlight 200, sped my way through the Bangna-Trad asphalt, arrived at Mega at 9.04 am. Engine was hot & ready to go, so was I. Sat in Sunny’s white Fortuner, we went to Hua Mak. Brother Bancha had 2 secretaries sitting outside. Sunny & I went in to ask whether Brother was available. She told us to wait outside. We sat in silence. Then about 5 mins. later, she came out saying, "Come in. Brother’s inside. "We shook hands, said "Good luck" to each other, and we went in.

I could sense the energy inside was tensed. With a strict tone, Brother said, "identify yourself", then I said "My name is Tan Victor from Malaysia, ID 5928107. I come here today as a graduate student from Assumption University majoring in Business English from the faculty of Arts." Sunny did the same.

We spoke to brother sincerely and told him about the issues our club were facing and why we took this urgent route to meet him today. Now the key word here, is "sincere." We were sincere and showed him our progress and the Theme Reveal video I filmed & edited with my team. Brother was impressed and called P’Nang to his office, she noted down all the details about our event and at the end he said, "I cannot allow you to use the Black Box this weekend.

That’s the protocol. But you can use the President’s House (PH)." This way, they don’t have to turn on the power for the whole 7-storey building. Brother made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. So, we took it and we got his blessings as a bonus.

We got into Sunny’s car, baffled by what just happened. We called the production house, they said there will be echoes in PH and still insisted Black Box. But deep down inside Sunny & I knew, Brother gave us the offer, so no matter what, we MUST take it and make it work. If the production people do not want to do it in PH, then we have to film the speeches ourselves. For this time, we had to let go of the partnership with them. And after a few calls, I said to Sunny "We’re on our own now brother. Let’s do this."

We had a meeting that evening with the core team, informed them the decision, assured them that as long as we got each other, we’re going to pull this off. And if we DO pull this off, it’s going to be one hell of a story to tell. The next day 24th Feb., I received an email from Malaysia Airlines saying, "Your flight has been rescheduled from 1st March to 3rd March." Then I smiled & whispered, "hmmm..thank you."

On 25th Feb. (2 days before filming date), President’s House door opened at 10am. Arjarn Saharat was there, the staffs were there, me & Sun Zhen Xing(Sun, a good friend) took our bike there and we rearranged the whole interior, set up the stage for the big TEDxAssumptionU logo(Pangpond’s big contribution), the technicians worked on the cables & lightings, others brought in the partition boards, stage platforms, and the gold stanchion post with red ropes. 6 hours later, before the guards were about to lock the door, I stood on the middle of the red carpet, took in all the surroundings & whispered to myself, "Hmm, why does this feel so familiar?"

 

At that moment, I finally understood. "All those hours of practicing to make my own videos, and to edit them quicker and better, practicing to film better videos, to capture better frames, to adapt to better equipments which then led to a deeper understanding of life and a more efficient way to doing and managing things by cutting out the unnecessaries.

Because in films, you only need the main points, the important ones. Therefore, all those hours, days, weeks, months & years of understanding and practicing how to Stand Walk Act Talk and Behave like a SWAT Prefect, led to that moment. Right there, on the red carpet. I was ready. It was redemption time.

 

So, for the 3 days that followed, me, Sunny, Thiadra, Jennie & our team, we went FULL OUT. Brother Bancha came to visit us on set on the 27th Feb. and stayed for a few hours. Without Brother’s blessings and also P’Nang’s help to work out the documents and the news to spread awareness of the event, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

 

And the final step? As I write this in my hotel room in Ibis KLCC during my quarantine in Malaysia, is to piece all the puzzles together to create one full TEDxAssumptionU "Half Empty, Almost Full" sequence. May God bless us a smooth journey in the editing phase and a successful launch on the 13th March 2021 time 13:03 (Thai time).

 

Now if you would excuse me, time to get back to work. Cheers.

Sincerely, BIQTO
Victor Tan Malaysia
5928107

  
Related link

TEDxAssumptionU-the 2nd Season of TEDx Talk at Assumption University:
https://www.au.edu/news/tedxassumptionu-the-2nd-season-of-tedx-talk-at-assumption-university.html

TEDxAssumptionU: https://www.facebook.com/tedxassumptionu/

Half Empty, Almost Full - TEDxAssumptionU 2021: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD7tEKKG7GQ

Half Empty, Almost Full - TEDxAssumptionU (Thai Version): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Kdac20-TnQ

 

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