On 15 July 2010, 47 ordinary people set out to climb Mount Kinabalu, South-East Asia’s highest mountain at 4,095 meters. Many in the group were first time climbers and not knowing what to expect, the majority of them were uncertain if they would be able to reach the top. Among them was a special individual named Tan Sri Azman Hashim who at 71, was by far the oldest in the group of climbers. Many of the other 46 climbers were uncertain how Tan Sri Azman would fit in and there was some trepidation when they saw him walking up the steps of the bus to join the other climbers at Kota Kinabalu International Airport.
For the next 4 days, Tan Sri Azman would live with this motley group of climbers made up of Businessmen, Business Executives, Professionals, Housewives, Insurance Agents, Accountants and 2 young children and he would share his 71st birthday with them. No one knew what to expect and how they should interact with a man who is one of the leading Business personalities in the country and who for many years had been the “Boss” of one of the most successful Financial Conglomerate in the region.
This is a story of how that special person walked into the hearts of 46 strangers and overwhelmed them with his charm, kindness, love, acceptance and most of all, his humility. Seow Hock Lee, a climber who spoke on the day of the dinner gathering on 18 July used these words to describe Tan Sri Azman – “He is so extraordinary because he is so ordinary!”
In his statement, Hock Lee aptly summed up the views of everyone there. What they were saying through Hock Lee’s words was that their lives have been touched by Tan Sri Azman and his inspirational example had brought them hope and an affection that grew into fruition in 4 short days. In that instant, I looked around and saw love and respect written on the faces of the 46 other climbers. It was simply extraordinary that a man could have impacted people he did not quite know in 4 short days in this way.
This blog is a gift from the 46 climbers who were privileged to share a common journey with Tan Sri Azman and for those few short days saw a glimpse of what greatness truly meant. It was that incredible ability to make lesser individuals feel accepted and cherished without any barrier of status differences that endeared Tan Sri Azman to every single climber who was there on that climb with him.