The First Malaysian To Win ‘Engineer of The Year’ Award in Australia – The Story of Perseverance


Reading newspapers and other materials can simply enhance your knowledge of the English language. Additionally, you may be updated on any new occurrences around the world. A simple yet educational means of broadening your knowledge is through reading physical books, magazines, and newspapers. Digital reading materials may help too.

A young man’s journey to being one of the top engineers in his company began with simply reading the Sunday newspaper. From a humble beginning in Malaysia to a dream job in Australia, Peter Ting took it all in stride. He has been the first Malaysian to win the highly-acclaimed “Engineer of the Year” award in Western Australia. However, his journey has not been easy.

Peter Ting was born and raised in Malaysia living a simple life with his family. As a child, Peter had dreams that go way beyond his humble upbringing. Although his parents worked hard to have food for the family every day, Peter made it his goal to change their financial situation. His first initiative was to learn the English language, the main source of unlocking unlimited opportunities.

Peter studied high school in a national secondary school in Sepang, where most of his friends were Chinese-speaking Malaysians. He assumed that it was a challenge for him to learn the English language since it was not a first or secondary language spoken by his peers. However, Peter came up with ideas on how to learn the language on his own.

“To be honest, I was never an ‘A’ student, but I knew the importance of English,” Peter said. “Every Sunday, I would buy ‘The Star’ newspaper, the thickest edition of the week, to improve my grasp on the language. That habit I cultivated since my secondary school days has helped me immensely.”

The fruits of his hard work paid off when he landed a spot at University Sains Malaysia (USM), despite his average academic record in high school. His determination to work harder than ever was an all-time high.

“In Malaysia, the competition is cut-throat. The pressure to outperform peers and impress the boss is immense. It’s a stressful culture, but it prepared me for what was to come,” says Ting.

Peter graduated from USM in 2006 and immediately landed a job with a Japanese construction company in Malaysia. In 2008, Peter chanced upon an advertisement in ‘The Star’ newspaper. An Australian company was looking for engineers. Grabbing the opportunity, he immediately applied for the job, and after a 5-minute interview, Peter kept his hopes up to land the job.

He recalled being asked why he wanted to work in Australia. He honestly answered that he wanted to earn more money and have better opportunities. Fortunately, he was accepted, and despite having doubts that the job offer was legitimate, he went on a journey to Perth, Australia.

Initially, Peter had to adapt to new work culture and face unexpected challenges in this foreign land. He said, “Aussies respect those who argue and fight for their interest. They don’t like a ‘yes-man’ because they think if you can’t fight for your own right, you can neither do it for the company.”

Adapting to a new environment was challenging for Peter. Additionally, in his workplace, casual racism was not exempted. Alienation was also one of the toughest trials he has undergone for the first few months in Australia. Recalling a frightening incident during his first week at work, Peter said, “One colleague told me, ‘I’m going to make sure you die within a week.’ It was scary, but I kept my head down and focused on my work.”

Peter also remembered another unforgettable incident when he encountered a stranger who told him to ‘go back to China.’ At the time, he was no longer discouraged and chose to respond with a little sarcasm. Some Australians assumed he was Filipino, but he thanked the stranger for thinking he was Chinese. Firmly yet respectfully, he said, “I’m not going anywhere. This is my home. I won’t go.”

“In the early stages, I kept things to myself,” Peter added. “My focus was to keep my head down and get the job done. But with time, I learned that silence is not always golden. Now, I stand up for myself, often responding in a sarcastic yet dignified manner.”

One of his obstacles was homesickness. He made long international calls to his mother back home, the tearful conversations with his family, and also realized that there were no Malaysian restaurants in the area where he stayed. However, his determination never wavered, and the relentless support of his wife kept him going through the challenging days.

In 2017, Peter’s hard work paid off when he took a job at CPB Contractors, one of Western Australia’s largest construction firms. Applying his Asian work ethic and innovative style to his job, his resilience boomed, which led to 2 major projects and updated construction technologies that he introduced to the company.

Peter’s contributions to the company did not go unnoticed by the Civil Contractors Federation of Western Australia (CCFWA), who nominated him for the “Engineer of the Year” award.

“I didn’t expect to win,” Peter admits. “It was the most competitive year, with the highest number of nominees. I went to the event expecting nothing more than a free dinner. So, when they called my name, I was in shock. I hadn’t even prepared a speech!”

A strong message about perseverance and the importance of stepping out of one’s comfort zone came alongside Peter’s victory. He reached out to his fellow Malaysians and encouraged them to take advantage of opportunities that come their way, never hesitate, and not limit themselves.

“It’s easy to see ourselves as outsiders in a foreign land,” Peter said. “But, we’re the ones who actually push ourselves away. The land of equal opportunities is not a myth– it’s real, and the only thing stopping you from excelling is yourself. I may have had a CGPA lower than 3, but it’s my work ethic that has got me where I am today.”

Peter Ting’s story is proof that resilience, hard work, and the courage to chase one’s dreams are far from impossible. As he looks back on his journey to success, he gives credit not to his academic performance in school but to his work attitude and excellent conduct at the company.

However, the triumphant engineer also possessed a hidden talent.

“Drawing on the back of calendars was my humble hobby as a child, the most affordable way for me to express my creativity,” Peter Ting shared. “I’ve dedicated more time and effort to drawing. My dream is to retire as an artist, pursuing my passion full-time.”

Peter admits that drawing, as a hobby, provided him with a sense of relaxation which was also a source of enjoyment.

Peter Ting’s story started with humble beginnings in Malaysia, a boy who learned English by reading ‘The Star’ newspaper every Sunday, to his journey of unwavering determination to succeed in an award-winning career in Australia. His story inspired every Malaysian who strived to achieve success in this world.

Images credits: WeirdKaya


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