Sunday, June 11, 2017

Interview: Of values and water

Roger Tan
The Sunday Star
by Christina Chin
Photo by Abdul Rahman Embong

AFTER eight years of helping to implement and enforce the country’s water supply and sewerage services laws, Datuk Roger Tan served his last day as commissioner of the Water Services Commission (SPAN) on May 31. Tan, a lawyer by trade, was instrumental in putting in place a disciplinary mechanism based on values he lives by – accountability, transparency and integrity.

Former fellow commissioner Datuk Zulkifly Rafique has this to say of Tan’s tenure: “He has discharged his responsibility admirably and is a pillar of strength for the staff and fellow commissioners who looked to him for support and guidance at a very challenging time. A job well done.”

Tan, from Yong Peng, Johor, graduated from the school of hard knocks and he never forgot his roots. 

Describing himself as a “simple man”, he’s pleased that his wife and children are equally grounded. Opening up about his family, Tan says those who rose from poverty, surviving only because of their parents’ resilience and sacrificial love, have no reason to lead an ostentatious life.

An illiterate labourer, his father, Sue Yong, toiled to put food – often porridge with soy sauce or a few slices of preserved bean curd – on the table.

The desire to honour his parents, family and God, is what drives Tan to excel.

An avid photographer, he shares how an image of the All Souls Church in Langham Place, London – with a cross of clouds forming just above the place he used to worship at as a student, is his favourite work. The best photographs are often accidental masterpieces, he muses.