GEORGE TOWN: With the Malayan Tiger population in the wild already at an all-time low, news of the death of a tiger caught in Kampung Besul Lama, Dungun, Terengganu, recently, has set alarm bells ringing.
Siblings Delwin Cheah Wien Loong, 16, and Delwina Cheah Kah Yan, 14, despite their tender age, have taken a step towards raising awareness about the need to protect Malayan Tigers by starting a campaign on the issue.
The campaign, named HUKU, is derived from two Chinese words — Lao (Hu) and Tong (Ku), which means “the tigers are suffering”.
Their friend, Max Yeoh Pang Kuan, 26, is also helping in the campaign.
The trio founded the movement in May 5, with the help of the siblings’ parents, Lawrence Cheah Guan Keong and Erina Law Mei Sun.
Cheah said the idea came about following a discussion during a family gathering.
“We were talking about current issues and then we thought, why don’t we do something for our Malayan Tigers?
“It is our icon, our very own. We do not want it to go extinct like our Sumatran Rhinos. We must do something to protect the giant felines,” he said.
Delwin, Delwina and Yeoh are coming up with a storybook titled Tigers Respite to educate schoolchildren.
It revolves around the relationship between farmers and tigers at a mountainside village.
Yeoh, the project’s creative head, is in charge of research on Malayan Tigers, while Delwina is the writer. Delwin is the book’s visual artist.
Delwin, however, is not your average teenager. Apart from being autistic, he is no stranger to the world of art, as he is listed in the Malaysian Book of Records as the “youngest artist to hold a solo visual art exhibition”.
He had received appreciation letters from former United States president Barack Obama, as well as from Buckingham Palace for his achievements.
The trio have almost completed Chapter 7 of their book and plan to finish it within two months.
On the creative process, Yeoh said he would discuss ideas with Delwina, who would then record them before penning a story.
“I pour out the ideas and Delwina would jot them down before she writes in the form of a story.
“Once that is done, I will edit it before handing it over to Delwin.
“We give Delwin full freedom to visualise and draw the images,” said Yeoh.
Lawrence Cheah hoped professional writers or journalists can lend a hand to produce the book and edit the storyline.
Apart from the book, the three have come up with motivational cards to be presented to schoolchildren. They created artworks to draw the pupils’ attention to their cause.
The teens’ mother, Law, has organised a competition, where contestants stand to win a special HUKU T-shirt.
“Every one of us is doing all we can. We have seen how in India, a similar effort was initiated to save the Bengal Tigers, with the population eventually growing.
“So, why can’t we do it here? This is the message we want to send to the people,” she said.
The group has started the “HUKU Tigers Awareness” Facebook page to promote its activities. It has drawn support from celebrities, the latest being singer Datuk Zainal Abidin.