Shining the Spotlight on Malaysia's Talented Teens
Malaysians are a talented lot, especially our youths! Find out who are some of our inspiring teens who are making a mark in the world here.
Updated 08 May 2019
Ah, good ol’ Malaysia!
However, a country is nothing without its people. In light of that, we’re highlighting 12 talented Malaysian teenagers who have made their mark in the country and the world. Here we go!
Arts and Creativity
Who says there’s no future in the arts and creative field? These 3 teenagers show that they have what it takes to grab our attention with their creative pursuits.
#1. Yap Hanzhen’s scintillating sketches
What sets Johorean Hanzhen apart from the other Malaysian teen artists is that he is an autistic savant (someone with autism who possesses extraordinary skills). Besides his artistic skills, Hanzhen’s savant skills extend to playing the piano, excelling in mathematics and having a good memory for calendar dates (pick a random date and Hanzhen would be able to tell you its day of the week!).
The 18-year-old’s sketch of the Chong Hoon Teng Temple in Malacca was one of the winning entries in the Asia ParaArt Tokyo 2013 competition, earning him a spot in a travelling exhibition to various airports in Japan alongside other Asian artists.
Hanzhen’s works of art have been displayed in exhibitions across Asia, including Singapore; Tokyo, Japan; Incheon, South Korea; and of course, Malaysia.
#2. Muhammad Daniel Mohammed’s mesmerising dance moves
Having taken up dancing as a means to lose weight at 10 years old, Muhammad Daniel has pranced, waltzed and whirled his way to international stardom. Seven years on, his recent wins at the Blackpool Dance Festival 2017 in May showcased his Latin and ballroom dancing skills, where he beat over 50 participants across the globe to claim the top prize.
Daniel, who will be sitting for SPM this year, first started competing in 2010. He has since won various international competitions in Indonesia, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Hong Kong.
#3. Triple threat Tengku Irfan
A force to be reckoned with in the classical music scene is 19-year-old Tengku Ahmad Irfan Tengku Ahmad Shahrizal, who is a composer, conductor and pianist. The musical prodigy has performed all over the world, including Germany, the United States of America (USA), Singapore and Vietnam.
As the youngest musician in the Guest Artiste list, which features more than 30 of the world’s top classical musicians, Tengku Irfan has bagged multiple awards for his musical prowess and collaborated with the industry-famous Juilliard Orchestra and the Estonian National Symphony. To boot, his compositions have premiered in the Leipzig Gewandhaus in Germany — the same venue whose stage was graced by Beethoven and Mozart themselves!
Science and Technology
There are plenty of opportunities in the science and technology field, and these teens are impressing many with skills way beyond their years.
#4. Lim Wern Jie, the coding jie-nius
Despite being only 14, Georgetown native Wern Jie has developed over 50 mobile apps, which has raked in over 600,000 downloads! Currently, 15 of his apps are already available on the Apple App Store.
The self-taught coding genius picked up his skills by watching YouTube tutorials. His first app, Phone Security Alarm, was successfully published on 1 October 2015, which he developed before sitting for his UPSR! His most notable app is called Personal Diary (iOS), which is so user friendly that even the blind can use it.
Wern Jie has also received several awards in robotics and programming for his apps, including the Best Programming Award, the Best Design and the Grand Prize at the Rero Robot’s Got Talent Online Competition.
#5. A teen quartet that’s saving lives with excess food
Four students between the ages of 14 and 16 years old have created the Robin Food app, which is a mobile app that counters food wastage in the country while feeding the hungry. Through the app, users and major food chains can request for excess food to be picked up and subsequently donated to food banks.
The app was developed by Allegra Chan, 16; Ezra Adrian Robert,15; Ivan Avannus, 15; and Joseph Chung, 14, from East Malaysia as part of the Sime Darby Young Innovators Challenge (SDYIC) 2016.
#6. Aspiring specialist Chan Hao Shan
She’s may only be 19 years old, but Hao Shan is set to be Malaysia’s youngest doctor ever — once she completes her Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree next year, that is.
Hao Shan flew through the secondary school syllabus in just one year before enrolling in the Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT) programme… which she completed within a year too.
Upon completing her MBBS, Hao Shan plans to continue her studies to become a specialist.
#7. Elwin Raj with the brilliant brain
He may only be 17, but Elwin was the country’s sole representative at this year’s International Brain Bee Championship (IBBC) 2017 in Washington, D.C., USA. He joined 24 other champions, the crème de la crème of their respective countries, and emerged third place in the competition that tests participants’ knowledge of the human brain.
The opportunity to represent the country was presented to Elwin when he was crowned the winner of the national level neuroscience competition “Malaysia Brain Bee Challenge” in July 2017.
This article doesn’t just celebrate teenagers with the biggest brains in the country but also those with brawn as well. These teens are a living testament that youth is not wasted on the young.
#8. Chew Kai Xiang, the fantastic figure skater
If his name isn’t familiar to you, Kai Xiang happens to be the first Malaysian ever to represent the country in the 2016 Winter Olympics in Norway under the Winter Youth Olympics category at 16 years old.
Besides competing in the Winter Olympics, the 18-year-old participated in the recent SEA Games hosted by Malaysia and bagged 3rd place. He has also competed professionally all over the world, including in Croatia, Japan, Germany and Latvia.
#9. Gan Hua Wei swims her way to victory
Not to be mistaken with Huawei, the Chinese mobile manufacturer, national synchronised swimmer Hua Wei is certainly more versatile and water resistant than her smartphone counterpart!
The Seremban lass has made waves in Malaysia for clinching a surprise gold medal in her solo technical event at the 2017 SEA Games. Following her solo win, Hua Wei swam her way to victory again with her duet partner, Zylane Lee, for the duet free event category.
What makes this feat more admirable is the fact that Hua Wei only picked up synchronised swimming 3 years ago!
And if you’re wondering if Hua Wei was rewarded with a Huawei phone… she was!
#10. It’s Eng Wei Jin for the win
The 14-year-old Johorean made history when he became the youngest shooter to win the double trap individual event during the Southeast Asian Shooting Championships (SEASA) in May 2017. He also won the gold medal in the team challenge of the same championship.
Despite only picking up the sport when he was 12, Wei Jin has already participated in 3 SEASA meets. His first meet in Jakarta saw him bagging the bronze medal in 2015. What a feat!
#11. Teens with disabilities show their mettle
They may be teenagers who are differently abled, but that didn’t stop Norysuhadatul Aulia Saidina Maarufi, 17; Noraini Zakaria, 15; Danish Rosli, 17; and Muhammad Umar Hafiy Mohd Firuz, 14 from making the country proud during the Austria Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017.
The quartet bagged 6 medals from the snowshoeing event between them — 3 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze!
The best part? Despite bagging 3 gold medals, it was Norysuhadatul Aulia’s and Noraini’s first time out of the country and seeing snow in the flesh.
#12. Aifa Azman, smashing squash supreme
At just 15 years old, junior squash player Aifa Azman from Kedah has already turned professional and is ranked No. 145 in the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Women’s World Squash Rankings.
She has represented Malaysia in various competitions around the world, including in the United Kingdom (UK), Poland, New Zealand, Hong Kong and India. In 2016, she was crowned the winner in the British Junior U15 Open and the Asian Junior U15 Championship.
During 2017 SEA Games, Aifa also helped clinch a gold medal for the national women’s squash team.
Bonus feature: The brave and awesome Azmi Calvin George
The late Azmi Calvin George deserves an honourable mention in our article!
The Sabahan was only 18 years old when he died from Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a genetic disorder characterised by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness.
Azmi was the inspiration behind the founding of Duchenne Without Borders in Sabah, an organisation that supports families and boys with the disease. A plucky teen in the face of adversity, he has been instrumental in creating awareness about this genetic disorder.
While he passed away in September 2017, his memory lives on in the lives of those whom he has impacted.
It’s undeniable that Malaysia is a melting pot of talents. Even so, we can’t help but to feel blown away by our fellow youths who continue to inspire us every day through their talents and dedication to their chosen fields. We hope that these teen heroes have not only inspired you, but encouraged you to follow your dreams!
In the words of the late Steve Jobs, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.”