The announcement of Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results on Thursday, March 16 brought laughter and tears of joy to Perak’s Best Student (Disabled Category) Chiang Wai Cheng, 19, who was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

As a person with DMD – an incurable genetic condition that causes irreversible muscle degeneration eventually leading to heart failure – it is difficult for him to study like a normal student. But with his spirit and determination got 6As and 3B+ in his SPM.

Chiang Wai Cheng

The student of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tanjung Rambutan is afflicted with the condition since he was seven. His 16-year-old brother is similarly affected by the disease.

Despite being estimated to survive until his 20s, the wheelchair-bound youth makes the best out of what he has although he used to get poor results for his Mathematics.

“Maths is my weakest subject. I depended on what my teacher taught, as my movements limit me from attending tuition classes.

“I kept learning and studying from YouTube videos two hours a day and it works. I got B+ for Mathematics,” Chiang told Ipoh Echo when met at his house.

His father, Chiang Wai Marn, 51, had to quit his job as a storekeeper when his wife succumbed to breast cancer two years ago.

“I quit my job, as my two sons are my top priority. No one can take good care of them except me and my wife.

“It’s not easy to raise two disabled kids at the same time. But seeing what Chiang achieved today is more than enough. I hope it’ll inspire others,” he said.

Chiang disclosed that besides his father, his teachers and friends were the people behind his success, as they never stopped helping him at school.

“I’m grateful to have a very supportive father who never gave up on me although I know it’s difficult to handle two handicapped siblings.

“Not to forget, my teachers and friends who always help me do little things like opening my lunch box and taking me to the toilet. This result is for them too,” said Chiang who aspires to be an interior designer.

Chiang said he will pursue an interior design course at a local university and looks forward to the day.

Another student, Kevin Ooi Ee Zen, 18, who got 10As and considered the best student at Wesley Methodist School Ipoh (WMSI) advised SPM candidates to find suitable studying methods.

Kevin Ooi Ee Zen

“You’ll find a specific studying method on the internet, such as drawing mind maps. For some such a method might not work. It doesn’t work for me either, so I do detailed notes. It works well for me. You need to find your own studying method, which is suitable for you as different people have different styles. Don’t be too rigid,” said Kevin who plans to do an engineering course in United States.

Leanne Tan Li-En, a top scorer with 9As in WMSI and who is currently doing an internship at Ipoh Echo, said everyone can achieve good results if they consistently do enrichment exercises and model test papers the right way.

Leanne Tan Li-En

“Besides consistently doing exercises and model test papers, I also watched educational videos and attended tuition classes. We can’t do the exercises on our own, as we need someone to guide us. I get help from my teachers and friends or the internet. It works well for me.

“A big hurray to all my teachers and tutors for imparting their knowledge to me,” said Leanne who is  planning to further her study in the United States.

According to Perak Education Department director, Mat Lazim Idris, a total of 707 out of 32,509 candidates who sat for the SPM examination in the state scored straight As.

“There’s a slight decline in the number of straight-A students in 2016, as compared to the 890 in 2015. However, there’s an increase in the State Average Grade (GPN) for 2016 which is 5.17 compared to 5.22 in 2015,” he announced at the Perak Education Department.

Nabilah Hamudin