Immediate Past District Director’s Message – My Swan Song as District 102 Director 2018-2019

Every leader is expected to sing his/her swan song at the end of his/her tenure of office. For me singing it has never been strange nor has it been an exception as I have been previously singing different swan songs for different organizations at different service end-times in years gone by.

Until 11:23 pm on Sunday, June 30, 2019, I had no clue or inkling on what I was going to pen. Obviously, I wanted to write something that was positive, motivating and joyful.

The origin of the expression “swan song” is not that pleasant. It is depressing and disconcerting. It is said that the swan dies after singing its last tune. We know that a swan does not sing and when it sings, legends tell us that its time is near.

There was excitement, anxiety and great expectation as the clock’s seconds-hand kept ticking past by the seconds. And silence was getting louder each second. In fact silence is my greatest enemy – it holds me in a state of uncertainty, inactivity and futility. Besides, it has been causing me nights of insomnia for the past two months ever since the launch of the District Director’s Club & Membership Extravaganza Campaign that was launched on 18 May 2019.

As at June 26, 2019, our total paid Clubs stood at 146 while our paid members at 6750. Despite thousands of circulars were sent to all Club officers and members, there was not much of upward movement on the dashboard the next two days. The District was just shy of 1 paid Club and 68 paid members to reach the Distinguished District Goals of 147 paid Clubs and 6818 paid members.

Morale was down and it was ebb low. Many district leaders and Club officers and members had in fact given up hope.
On the afternoon of June 29, 2019, a surprise sprang up when Hartalega, a glove manufacturing company with more than 10,000 employees decided the night before to prepare for chartering an in-house Club, known as Hartalega Toastmasters Club, with an initial membership charter strength of 47.

While efforts were being made to meet the District Success Plan Distinguished District criteria, a Club with 18 paid members threatened to close down its Club without giving prior notice to the Trio. Another Club wire-transferred its dues to TI but it could not track nor trace its remittance payment.

I was nervously drained by the clock struck 12.00 mid-night on June 29, 2019.

The next day was Sunday, June 30, 2019, the final day of my term as District Director. The morning and afternoon was dead calm and quiet with no movement at all on the paid membership.

Out of the blue, heralded the amazing news of yet another new Club in readiness for chartering; namely SJKT Chesterfield Toastmasters Club, a community Club comprising parents and teachers at 11.23 pm.

With the inclusion of the above two Clubs, we have surpassed our Club goals of 147 and matched the paid members goal of 6818 to qualify for the Distinguished District Award for this term.

My wife jumped out of the bed at my shriek of “Eureka, Eureka, Eureka” wondering in awe whether I was possessed or invaded by some extra-terrestrial or some spooky beings. No word(s) could describe the state of euphoria and joy of realization that coursed through my system.

Yes, our team finally succeeded to bring our District to excellence after a hard fought battle against all odds. Hence, barring against any untoward circumstances, we have achieved for our District 102, the Distinguished District Award for 2018-2019.

I could feel my shoulder was light by at least a ton of emotional and mental baggage and luggage. For once, after the past two months, I could finally and calmly fall into a deep and sound slumber until the next day at 9.30 am on Monday, July 01, 2019.

I did not realize that at 12.00 mid-night on June 30, 2019, I had transited into another phase of my leadership. I was no longer the District 102 Director when I woke up. The proverbial baton has been passed onto my charming successor, Dr. Yvonne Leong, DTM. I am now the official IPDD. What a quiet and uneventful transition!

The success is not ascribed to me alone. It is attributed to the concerted efforts, contributions and sacrifices of my two lieutenants, PQD Dr Yvonne Leong, DTM, CGD Lee Meng Tze, DTM, my three indefatigable District Managers namely, District Administration Manager, Henry Fu, District Finance Manager, Kaarthigayan and District Public Relations Manager, Robert Ram, DTM.

My gratitude also goes to District Credential Chair, PDD Dr Arulnathan, DTM, District Parliamentarian, DTM Low Yat Seow, PDD, District Nomination Chair PDD Ramdas Nayar, DTM, District Internal Auditor, Ken Chan, DTM and District Special Assistant, Benny Chia, DTM and their respective support team members.

I am further indebted to the 9 Division Directors and 36 Area Directors and 1008 Club Officers who worked tirelessly throughout the term and helped contribute towards the success of the District as manifested by the exemplary leadership and education performance results.

Lastly, my accolade to my two Annual District Conference, Co-Chairs, Dr Somsubhra De, ACS, ALS and Mak Chee Kin, ACB, ALB and their Organizing Committee for successfully organizing the Annual District Conference at the Melaka Holiday Inn on 26-28 April 2019.

I shall be remiss if I omitted to mention International President Elect Deepak Menon, DTM who graced our Annual District Conference as its Chief Guest, Regional Advisor, Gauri Seshadri, DTM as for her visit to our District and the constant advice given us, Toastmasters International 1st Vice-President, Richard Peck, DTM, CEO Daniel Rex, International Director, Derek Wong, DTM for their words of wisdom and assistance, and last but not least our charming golden International President Lark Doley, DTM who dined with us and encouraged us during the two tele-conferences.

My successor has formed a strong team of officers who have received their District Officers’ training are raring ahead to serve the District. I trust you will give them the same support that you have given me.

I wish my charming District Director, Dr Yvonne Leong, DTM and her team a resounding success in 2019-2020 term.
Let us give ourselves a thunderous round of applause for contributing towards a wonderful year of toastmastering!

Dr. William Lau, DTM
Immediate Past District Director