PETALING JAYA: Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun today reiterated the importance of English proficiency, attributing much of his success to the language.
Stressing that English is an international language, the Berjaya Corporation Berhad founder and executive chairman said it had helped him climb the ladder in his career, despite not having any higher education exposure.
"I come from a poor family, and have never had the education I would have wanted. I left school after form five, aged 17.
"Which is why having good command of English is of utmost importance, even if you do not have a great education opportunity.
"I wouldn't have achieved what I have achieved today if it had not been for English," he said during the launch of the Ozanam Education Programme, here, today.
Tan recalled how he convinced those in fast food franchise McDonald's to expand to Malaysia and that it would not have been achieved if he could not speak English, adding that the move was his first "great break" in life.
The philanthropist said coming from a humble background, education had also always been close to his heart, and that one would also not succeed without hard work and giving back to others.
He said anyone from any faith should be able to lend a hand to those in need, claiming that the religion of a person in need should not matter when one is helping out.
"From a very young age, although I was struggling, whatever little help I can give to others, I always tried to help. Over the years, that gave me a lot of blessing," he said.
Meanwhile, head of the Ozanam Education Programme Angela Francis said the programme, which provides free education to various marginalised communities, focuses on three subjects, namely English, Mathematics and basic computer literacy.
"The children will not be rushed to the next level until they fully understand what has been taught, so they can learn at their own pace," she said.
The programme, which was designed by charity group Yayasan Ozanam, currently has ten centres nationwide catering to some 350 students, aged between four and 17.
Francis said it had went through a pilot project since 2015, and that funds for the programme were purely from public donation.
She also explained that some of the centres operate five days a week, similar to normal schools, while some only on the weekends, depending on the availability of the volunteer teachers.
Also present for the launch of the programme were Yayasan Ozanam chairman Datuk Watson Peters and Berjaya Corporation Berhad executive director, Nerine Tan, who is also the daughter of Vincent Tan.