Dato’ Vincent Loh was Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LKT Group of Companies (a public listed company) located in Malaysia.
He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Design and Manufacturing from Loughborough University of Technology, England. Upon his return from England, he joined LKT and initiated the company’s semiconductor automation business that complemented the company’s existing precision engineering business and successfully grew the company and eventually public listing LKT on Malaysia’s main board.
In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, Dato’ Vincent is an enthusiastic sportsman and a strong advocate of education. As part of LKT’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, LKT was the major sponsor of the Everest Friendship project in 2006 together with the local business community. The proceeds from this fund raising project, which totaled RM300,000, went to the Kwang Hwa School (Penang) building fund.
On 23 May 2006, Dato’ Vincent Loh became the oldest Southeast Asian to have successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest (8850 m). Since his feat, he has been invited to share his experience at various public events. He was conferred the title Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN) which carries the title Dato’ by the governor of Penang in 2006.
Dato’ Vincent Loh retired from his position as Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LKT Group of Companies in 2010.
– a tribute to a Trail Blazer from Penang
On 23 May 2006, at 5.45 am, Dato’ Vincent Loh, a Penangite, reached the summit of Mount Everest; he was 51 years old at the time and is the oldest South-East-Asian to have accomplish that feat. Dato’ Vincent Loh gave a series of inspirational talks and published a book, “Within Reach” upon his return from Mount Everest and in this tribute essay, I shall quote liberally from “Within Reach” (all quotes in bold italics).
“There are two Everests in this world; one is the mountain we all know, the other is embedded within you”.
Any attempt to summit Mount Everest is fraud with dangers of falls from steep inclines, falls into crevasses, extreme cold of -40 Celsius dropping to a heart stopping -70 Celsius with the wind’s chilling factor …
“… our climbing season was considered the second worst year in the history of Everest where a total of 12 lives perished”
“We were walking in single file, taking about six to eight steps before stopping to catch 20 breaths and continuing our climb”
As if to make an already extreme challenge next to impossible, on top of the severe climbing conditions of the 2006 season, at South Summit, about 200 meters from Mount Everest’s summit, Dato’ Vincent was overcome with vision focus-lock, a condition where vision is clouded as if one is looking through fine vertical blinds, a condition limiting field of vision to only an arm’s length.
The goal was literally within reach but yet another mountain was figuratively put in the way.
“Our true weakness lies in giving up”.
To make up for his lost of vision, Vincent made the final stage of the climb with one hand on a Sherpa’s shoulder.
On the summit, Vincent received a text message:
“I received a test message from my son. ‘Congratulations, you still have to come down’”
Coming back down safely to the rest of us Vincent did, but before he reached the summit of Mount Everest, Vincent conquered an even higher peak, what he calls his True Everest. In his thirties, Vincent was building a thriving business, navigating his company into the semiconductor equipment automation sector and eventually listing the company in the Bursa Malaysia. But Vincent’s health then did not reflect his business’s success:
“I had a 42-inch waistline, the widest but not the proudest of my achievements”
“I felt silly that I maintained my material belongings such as cars better than I maintained myself”
One fateful day, Vincent was diagnosed as a cardiac patient; he had a personal Everest to conquer.
“The very first act of reversal began with believing that reversing the cardiac progress was possible”
“Things only appear difficult when we don’t have the competency for a specific task”
After successful medical procedures and arming himself with knowledge on nutrition and exercise, Vincent started to first reverse the challenges to his health and then to participate in activities the strong amongst us would consider extreme. Vincent completed the Singapore and Hawaiian marathons, drove from Malaysia to India and developed a love for mountaineering and reached the summits of:
Mount Fuji (3776 m)
Mount Kinabalu (4095 m)
Carstensz Pyramid (4884 m)
Mount Elbrus (5642 m)
Ameghino (5918 m)
Island Peak / Imja Tze (6186 m)
Mera Peak (6400 m)
Aconcagua (6921 m)
Mount Everest (8850 m)
On 23 May 2006, at 5.45 am, Dato’ Vincent Loh, a Penangite, reached both the summits of Mount Everest (8850 m) and the mountain embedded within him; he was 51 years old at the time.
Salutations to a Trail Blazer from Penang!
footnote: Dato’ Vincent’s 2006 expedition to the summit of Mount Everest is named Everest Friendship 2006 and raised funds for the Kwang Hwa School in Sungai Nibong, Penang.