Captain James Anthony Tan

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Soaring high

Article from the Sun daily by Yeo Chia Hui (posted on 18th June 2015)

HE looks just like your average twenty-something with his casual clothing and charming grin, and he is indeed only 23. What makes Captain James Anthony Tan stands out, however, is the fact that he is the first Malaysian and youngest pilot to fly solo around the world.

During the "1 Malaysia Round-TheWorld Expedition (1RTW)" in 2013, he flew a 30-year-old, single-engine Cessna 210 Eagle aircraft through 21 countries, completing 41, 500km in 48 days. This expedition of his earned him a place in The Guinness Book of Records, World Record Academy, and The Malaysian Book of Records as the youngest pilot to have achieved this.

Tan's accomplishment has also garnered him a commission as a Captain (Honorary) in the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF)'s volunteer reserve team. Although those are amazing achievements on their own, what makes this pilot's tale more inspiring is that he was born with dyslexia but has never once let this stop him from achieving his dream.

What have you been up to since you broke the world record?

I've done many other things, went on a few other expeditions but I kept those out of the limelight. I also run my own businesses – I have an IT company, a law firm, and I'm part of a development firm as well. Besides that, I do a lot of charity projects especially for national building and one of them is the Organisation for National Empowerment (ONE).

At only 23, you've achieved so much. How do you stay grounded?

I never forget my roots; I make sure that I do projects that keep me close to the people who I grew up with, and people who are less fortunate than I am. And you have to do charity projects. I know many Tan Sris and Datuks who are really humble as well. It's only those who have just only accomplished and are not used to achievements that are egoistical

Having been born with dyslexia, what is the biggest challenge that you had to overcome?

Early childhood development was very difficult in terms of reading and writing as I could not comprehend it until I was nine years old. I also had difficulties when it comes to basic coordination, and I was constantly plagued by headaches. Focusing and identifying words were tough too because my mind couldn't understand these words so I needed to utilise all senses – touch, sight, sound. Normal white paper is also very strange to the eyes of dyslexic people, thus transparent coloured paper is placed over it to overcome this problem. Colour is very essential to us, and most important of all we need a mother's love and support.

What is one misconception that people have about you?

I have a very strict rule: I never reply to people on Facebook. This is because I've experienced many times when people used my words against me. I do read through the messages occasionally and it is nice when people send me pleasant messages, but there are also nasty messages in my inbox. It's not that I'm arrogant, I just don't want to get myself into trouble. Hence, I am minimising my need to respond, but if you send me a message that is worthwhile I'll reply.

Growing up with three older sisters, what did you learn from them?

I learnt that women are unpredictable. Sometimes they're willing to sacrifice their dreams and their very form of existence for the greater good of the family. Mahatma Gandhi once said that women are the embodiment of sacrifice, and I believe this to be absolutely true.

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