CLASS OF 1981: Dato’ Ir. Hor Tek Lip ’81

A Norwich Legacy in Malaysia.

Beneath his 1981 War Whoop photo, it reads, “Life is either a daring
adventure or nothing at all,” a quote by Helen Keller.

At the heart of everything Dato’ Ir. Hor Tek Lip ’81 does is passion. He came to Norwich with a passion to learn, and returned to his homeland with a passion to serve.

Growing up in Alor Setar, Malaysia, Hor Tek Lip joined the Cub Scouts as a young boy. Naturally motivated, he rose to the rank of King Scout, the equivalent of a U.S. Eagle Scout. Hor discovered the Norwich University civil engineering program browsing through college catalogs at the United States Information Service Library, and found himself enticed by the rigorous discipline that he associated with his experience in the Scouts. He set out for Norwich, half a world away from his southeast Asian homeland, fueled by dreams of becoming an engineer. When he arrived on the Hill, he found that the U.S.-based military school suited the “regulated and strict way of life” he was eager to lead.

During his Norwich years, Hor found value and purpose in his studies, peers, and surroundings. “Norwich allowed me to experience real-life leadership and teamwork, including team building, self-motivation, and learning to motivate others,” he reflects. The Corps experience, academic rigor, and broad-based curriculum—including social sciences and military studies—provided a solid foundation for what was to become his long and merited career in Malaysian government service. “I always wanted to help to develop my country,” he says, recalling the Norwich Cadet’s Creed and how it inspired him to return home after graduation and make life better for the Malaysian people.

Hor’s mission and passion: to ensure sufficient water to Malaysia’s Muda region. A key contributor to the national dam safety policy, he helped set up the National Dam Safety Surveillance Program as well as a national integrated lake basin management program. He was the first to successfully commission a Muda Agricultural Development Authority (MADA) tertiary irrigation block; the Muda region is known as the “rice bowl of Malaysia.” He played a key role in helping MADA obtain two International Organization for Standardization certifications: one for water and one for dam management. When El Niño brought drought to Malaysia in 2016, he worked tirelessly to make sure stricken areas had the water they needed for rice paddy cultivation.

Of all his accomplishments, the one he speaks most passionately about is his Public Service Delivery Transformation program. With the growing population of Malaysia comes increased food demands. Hor led efforts to create a more efficient irrigation system to bolster food production.*

What advice does he offer for those aspiring to a career in service? “Carry out your job with full passion. Do not fear change if the situation warrants it.” He emphasizes the importance of taking risks. “Be brave to advise the top management or political masters as to the consequences of projects and situations that might not go well.”

He held his last leadership post with MADA, retiring in April 2017 after reaching the compulsory retirement age of 60. “I have served for a total of 35 years, 4 months, and 16 days.” During his career, he received numerous awards for his good work.

Above all, he hopes his life and work as a progressive, passionate, and dedicated public official has made his country, and his world, a better place. –Baylee Annis ’14

Here, Hor briefs the agriculture leadership and team on the Sg.Kedah River flood mitigation project. In 2016, he received the honorary title of “Dato,” which translates into “Knight Companion.”

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