By See Foon Chan-Koppen
Dato’ Daniel Tay is a modest man. When I suggested that I interview him for my Anak Perak column, he hemmed and hawed like a girl who has just received a marriage proposal and finally relented after persistent cajoling on my part.
“My friends will roll in the aisles with laughter. I am not famous or a celebrity, why me?” he said. “Well it’s not just your myriad activities and involvement with the many NGOs and your serving as councillor and now city councillor for more than 12 years, but its your caring for people and your modesty that touches me and I feel that the people in Ipoh deserve to learn more about you,” I counter argued and finally won the day.
Dato’ Daniel is a Perakean through and through. Born in 1955, he attended ACS in Sitiawan school throughout his school years and has the distinction of being in the first batch of Form 6 students from the school. He qualified as a Barrister from Lincoln’s Inn London in 1978. He was called to the Bar in 1979 and commenced legal practice. In 1980, he was appointed as a magistrate in Ipoh and served in the legal and judicial service until he resumed legal practice and started his own small law firm in 1982 specializing in criminal law then; which has now grown into a substantial firm with six partners and more than ten lawyers doing general practice.
Serious City Councillor
As a City Councillor, Dato’ Daniel takes his responsibilities very seriously. Appointed by the Menteri Besar, he occupies one of two seats for the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in the City of Ipoh and has responsibility for Zone 8 which comprises Lim Garden, Taman Merdeka and surrounding areas. Dato’ Daniel makes himself readily accessible to his constituents in dealing with short-term issues like SLR – sampah (rubbish), longkang (drains) and rumput (grass). Longer term issues which require careful planning such as installing additional street lamps, dangerous bends in roads and flooding, he handles with the appropriate authorities involved. Judging by one incident involving cow dung outside one of his constituent’s house and the alacrity with which he handled the issue with MBI which was reported in issue 118 of the Ipoh Echo, one can safely say that Dato’ Daniel is a man of action.
His list of activities and civic involvements is legendary. He has just begun his third term as President of the Ipoh Swimming Club; his ninth year as President of the YMCA of Ipoh. He also serves as VP of the Malaysian National Council of YMCAs; VP of the People’s Progressive Party Perak, Committee member (previous secretary) of the Council of Justices of the Peace in Perak, Board member of Sekolah Methodist ACS Ipoh and Chairman of the Bercham Methodist Church.
As President of the Ipoh Swimming Club, he was waxing lyrical about the eight renovated rooms, two of them suites, at the club which are now available for rent as bed and breakfast at very reasonable rates. Renovation plans have been drawn up for the whole club and so far, only additional badminton courts have been put in. As for the rest of the renovation plans, he being the democratic leader that he is, will take comments from all members before proceeding.
In the case of the YMCA, under his leadership over the past nine years, many in the community have benefited from the many classes and events which have been organised under his leadership over the past 10 years. Now in November he and his committee have put together what promises to be an exciting competition involving the young. Entitled ‘Ipoh Also Got Talent’, the competition will be a take-off on the ever popular TV series which has taken the world by storm in many countries. Scheduled for a grand finals on December 3, the event will showcase both Ipoh and Perak’s talents.
A keen sportsman, Dato’ Daniel played tennis for Perak for many years, winning the Doubles Champion and singles runner-up titles for three years in the late 80s. Retiring from competitive tennis saw him honing his skills on the golf course where he played with a handicap of 19. In badminton he is the reigning doubles champion (above 50 category) of the Ipoh Swimming Club. An injury to his shoulder has now stopped him from pursuing his favourite sports but he maintains his interest and lends his experience serving as Vice President of the Perak Lawn Tennis Association.
An epiphany around the age of 40 saw Dato’ Daniel take a spiritual turn in his life. He decided to deepen his faith and pursue a course of study which resulted in his obtaining a Master of Ministry from a local seminary in the year 2000. He then took on the additional role of lay preacher, another role which he plays very passionately. “I felt called to heal my relationships as father, husband, son, friend and civic member of society,” he confided. Adding, “My favourite theme in my preaching is to awaken people to their mortality and in preparation we must accumulate as much good that we can do for all the people in our lives,” he added.
When asked about his philosophy of life, he said, “I believe in being transparent as I travel on this journey. I have no qualms in exposing my weaknesses and sharing who I am, warts and all as I do my best to help others on the same journey.”
Dato’ Daniel and his wife Siew Phaik have three children. Ipoh is proud to count Dato’ Daniel Tay as one of its august Anak Perak.