Outstanding Women in Buddhism Award Recipients
Malaysian Recipients 2004 - 2020
Outstanding Women in Buddhism 2004
Bhikkhuni Bhagya Jayavanii
Reverend Bhagya Jayavanii Bbhikkhuni was born in Parit Buntar in thestate of Perak , Malaysia to a Hindu family; the eldest of 7 children. She had a very strict upbringing as her father was a man of strict conduct and discipline. She was married off at the early age of 17, and once again encountered a strict family life, having to obey her husband and mother-in-law’s every command without having much say in her own life. She lived in constant fear of her husband and mother-in-law and longed to be free.
She constantly thought of the purpose of life. Deep inside her heart and mind, she knew she had a calling to lead a holy life. As time passed, her inclination towards meditation and religious activities grew. One day, Reverend Bhagya Jayavanii Bhikkhuni had a realization that life is impermanent and knew that she would one day renounce. However, she patiently and dutifully discharged her duties as a loyal wife and mother of three children (now 28, 26 & 25, a clerk, a nurse, and an accountant in Ireland respectively), and waited for the right time to renounce, even though she was spiritually ready. Then, on May 8, 2000 , Reverend Bhagya finally left her home and head for the capital city of Kuala Lumpur . Her children were all grown up and she was finally able to answer her calling.
In Kuala Lumpur , she got a job as a child-minder at the Ti-Ratana Buddhist Orphanage. After serving for a year and observing 8 precepts, Reverend Bhagya Jayavanii decided to renounce. Which the help of the Vice-President of Ti-Ratana Buddhist orphanage, Mr.Tan Thim Huat, and a Bhikkhuni residing in Thailand, Bhikkhuni Dr. Lee, and other well-wishers, she left for Sri Lanka in 2001. She ordained as a Samaneri on 30th December 2001 at the Golden Temple in Dambulla, wirh Sri Sumanggala Maha Thero, the Abbot of the Golden Temple . Shortly thereafter, on the 3rd and 4th of March 2002, she received higher ordination as a Bhikkhuni at Mt. Lavinia, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Venerable Royal Pundit Talake Dhammaloka Anunayaka Thero, thus becoming the first Bhikkhuni of the Theravada tradition from Malaysia.
Reverend Bhagya Jayavanii Bhikkhuni returned to Malaysia in June 2002, and established her own Children’s Home. Her aim in life is to serve and help the needy around the world, to be The Mother of All Children.
Outstanding Women in Buddhism 2007
Dr. Bong Chu Lien
Dr.Bong Chui Lien of Malaysia is the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts, coordinating programs of study at the Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree levels at the International Buddhist College in Sadao, Thailand. Dr.Bong’s talents in Dhamma, Abhidhamma and critical analysis well suit her for this exciting and challenging position of guiding the faculty at a new Buddhist College in Thailand.
Prior to this position Dr. Bong was a faculty member teaching Dhamma and Abhidhamma at Nan Hua Buddhist Seminary (Fo Guang Shan) in South Africa. Dr.Bong holds a Diploma in Buddhist Studies from the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University in Yangon, Myanmar.
Dr.Bong Chui Lien’s formative educational background was in the sciences, degrees being from the University of Canterbury in Christ Church , New Zealand and her Ph.D. in Microbiology from the same educational institution. Dr. Bong was a research scientist at various institutes such as the Agricultural Research Center of Malaysia and the Malaysian Cocoa Board.
Dr.Bong’s expertise in the sciences, critical analytical and research skills well-honed have created a fertile ground for excellence in Dhamma and Abhidhamma studies, as well as leadership at the International Buddhist College.
Outstanding Women in Buddhism 2007
Bhiksuni Chang Heng
Bhiksuni Chang Heng, a blessing to the Buddha, exemplifies a life well spent in devotion to the Triple Gem and humanity at large. At the age of 18, she ordained as a Bhiksuni (1978) in Taiwan , and went on to accept the responsibility of being the Abbess of Sau Seng Lum Temple at the age of 19. Her creative vision has been directed towards 4 missions: Medicine, Charitable Work, Culture & Education.
Bhiksuni Chang Heng founded and is the President of: Sau Seng Lum Haemodialysis Center (authorized by the Minister of Works of Malaysia and a recipient of ISO 9001:2000 status, the first NGO in Malaysia to receive this status), Sau Seng Lum Stroke Center (the first NGO officially recognized and awarded certification by the Social Security Organization of Malaysia), Sau Seng Lum Dialysis & Stroke Rehabilitation Center, and founded the Sau Seng Lum Mobile Clinic. Bhiksuni Chang Heng registered her organization under the Social Organizations Act of Malaysia and went on to establish The Dragon-Riding Bodhisattva Guan Shi Yin Charitable Fund to assist the poor and the needy. Subsequently she received, “The Outstanding Youth Malaysia Award” for humanitarian and volunteer social services from the Malaysian Chamber of Commerce in 2001.
Bhiksuni Chang Heng of Malaysia has worked to enhance cultural understanding and education in her community via: renovation of Sau Seng Lum Temple; receipt of sacred art and statues from the Sangha Raja of Thailand; housing the largest reclining Jade Buddha statue in Malaysia; establishing Sau Seng Lum’s Multi-Purpose Exhibition Hall; establishing a Dharma Sunday School, Junior Education Enrichment Classes and the “Sau Seng Lum Quarterly Newsletter;” establishing the Sau Seng Lum Computer Lab and Library; and establishing the Sau Seng Lum Herbal Tea House to serve the public tea and health education.
Bhiksuni Chang Heng distributed Loving Charity Cards to fund-raise for heamodialisys patients, and Loving Cards of Appreciation and Respect for Seniors. She has also coordinated and organized international conferences, and was the President of the Organizing Committee of the 9th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women in 2006. Bhiksuni Chang Heng serves as a beacon of hope for Buddhist women in southeast Asia.
Outstanding Women in Buddhism 2010
Samaneri Dr. Tashi Choedron
Dr. Tashi Choedron of Malaysia holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering and a Master of Science in Highway and Transportation Engineering from Universiti Sains, Malaysia. Her Ph.D. is in Environment and Resources Studies: Traditional Knowledge and Natural Resource Management from Mahidol University, Thailand.
Dr. Tashi Choedron has coordinated several social development/sustainable livelihood projects for indigenous communities funded by the United Nations Development Programme. She balances her spiritual life and volunteer work, contributing expertise to Malaysia and Indonesia in high conservation value assessment. She has authored two books and several articles pertaining to community-based conservation.
Dr. Tashi Choedron in addition to being an environmental sociologist is also
a Tibetan Buddhist nun. Her first Dharma teacher was a Thai Maechee, named Maechee Aree. She also studied with the late Bhikkhu Sri Dhammananda.
After reading Sogyal Rinpoche’s bestseller, The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying, she became interested in Tibetan Buddhism. Dr. Tashi Choedron has taught at the Buddhist Institute Sunday Dharma School, the Metta Karuna Animal Rescue Team, and the Sakyadhita International Conference held in Malaysia.
At that meeting she met Venerable Sonam Wangmo of Bhutan who later became her spiritual guide in helping to fulfill her aspiration to become a Buddhist nun.
Now Dr. Tashi Choedron studies with Venerable Sonam Wangmo and Lama Ngawang.
Outstanding Women in Buddhism 2013
Bhiksuni Dr. Chi Ching
Bhiksuni Dr. Chi Ching holds an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, & is the Permanent Director of the Malaysian Buddhist Institute.
She is also Founder of the Da Yuan Compassion Association, Abbess of the Da Yuan Dharma Hall, & San Hui Temple which aims to integrate all Buddhist lineages. All these projects she established in Taiwan. In Nepal, she established a Buddhist translation College.
Bhiksuni Dr. Chi Ching walks the bodhisattva path & inspires her students to also do so which has resulted in generous offerings of scholarships, ambulances, disaster relief, social welfare, charity, & leading pilgrimages in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Malaysia, China & Taiwan.
Bhiksuni Dr. Chi Ching provides warmth to the cold, food to the hungry, education to the uneducated, medicine to the sick, love to a cold world.
She is indeed a living human Bodhisattva.
Outstanding Women in Buddhism 2016
Bhiksuni Ji Zun
Bhiksuni Ji Zun has focused her monastic efforts on contributing primarily to two Buddhist organizations: the Malaysian Buddhist Institute and the Malaysian Buddhist Association, and a temple, Tzu Yun Kong Temple.
Born in 1965; she was active in Buddhist Sunday Dharma classes when in primary school grade 5. By the time that she went to high school, she pioneered the establishment of the Buddhist Society at her high school. Then she enrolled in the Malaysian Buddhist Institute and became a Samaneri under Master Zhuk Mor of the Triple Wisdom Hall, Penang. Her Bhikshuni ordination followed at Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang when she was 20 and then she went on to Taiwan to study and graduate from Hua Yen College.
By graduating solidly from both distinguished Buddhist educational institutions, she earned the position of a teacher at the Malaysian Buddhist Institute. Her motivation and talents brought her the duties of Head of Administration, and later Head of Academic Affairs at M.B.I. The Malaysian Buddhist Institute teaches and cultivates in monastics the Buddha's wisdom.
She helped to set up Hui Lin Yuan with a total of 15 Bhikkhunis in residence and later took over Tzu Yun Kong Temple and modernized it to begin teaching Chinese painting and floral arrangement in addition to Buddhist studies, and today the center, after 10 years under her management, has grown to 100 regular devotees at the Adult Buddhism Class, Sunday School, and Youth Section.
Her career with the Malaysian Buddhist Association is also most noteworthy having been appointed as a Dharma Propagating Officer, Education Officer, and then Honorable Secretary. The M.B.A. is the headquarters for national unity of Buddhists in Malaysia and builds good relationships and ethnic harmony while revitalizing the Buddhist teaching system.
In addition in 2011 Kek Lok Si Temple, where she became a Bhiksuni, invited her to set up a school which she did successfully. It is the He-Shan Institute of Penang, which offers Chinese calligraphy, Chinese music and Buddhism classes.
Outstanding Women in Buddhism 2016
Dr. Hea Ai Sim
Dr. Hea Ai Sim earned a Ph.D. in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Shando1ng University, China with extensive prior training in Malaysia and Taiwan. She has her own Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic in Malaysia now.
A Malaysian female Buddhist devotee, she was born in 1962 and is the eldest child. At the age of 18 she became actively involved in Buddhism and by the age of 26 became an active volunteer committing herself to the promotion and development of Malaysian Buddhism which has now spanned a more than 30 year period of time.
She has focused her talents on cultivating Buddhist youths via creative ways such as composing modern Buddhist songs for the Hilir Perak Buddhist Association, leading Buddhist youth camps and workshops, and ultimately was elected President of the Association. The put forth 4 main service areas: Dhamma Propagation, Cultivation, Education & Welfare. In particular, she established a fund for needy students. Also, she pioneered the construction of the Dhammacakka Building and the Bodhicitta Building for the Association.
At the same time, she was also actively involved in the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM), a national association. During my tenure as a national council member in YBAM, she served in different positions such as the deputy president, vice president, chairperson of Perak State Liaison Committee, chairperson of Welfare Committee, and chairperson of Culture Committee, director of the YBAM 5th Six-Year Plan, chairperson and speaker of the YBAM National Convention, and as a guest speaker at numerous Buddhist seminars etc. Although no longer serving as a national council member in YBAM due to an age limit, she is still actively involved in YBAM as their consultant.
At present, besides running my own TCM clinic, I am also a lecturer at International Medical University, Malaysia. As a practising TCM physician, I had served as committee member at the Malaysian Chinese Medical Association and the Academy of Professional Acupuncture and the Chinese Physicians Association of Malaysia. I was also the Head of Department for Chinese Medicine at the International Medical University, Malaysia and all of these opportunities have provided me with a platform to dedicate myself to the promotion and development of academic research in TCM.
Both Buddhism and Traditional Chinese Medicine are the main passion of her life, driving me to serve and be dedicated in whatever way she can. As far as she is concerned, achieving a balanced life with TCM and Buddhism is her goal, a lifelong pursuit. She will continue to serve with dedication and loving-kindness for the benefit of the community and requests the Buddha to always be her guiding light.
Outstanding Women in Buddhism 2018
Bhikkhuni Sing Kan
At the age of 25, Venerable Bhikkhuni Sing Kan entered Sin Fook Tong Temple as a laywoman for 2 years and another 2 years as a Samaneri under the guidance of her great grandmaster Bhikkuni Sin Pooi and master Bhikkhuni Ku Chung. After 4 years of training, she took higher ordination as a Bhikkhuni in Kek Lok Si Penang in 1985 under the preceptorship of the late Master Bai Sheng from Taiwan.
In 1996 she took a Diploma in Buddhism in the Buddhist Maha Vihara. She took her second Diploma at the Kelaniya University in Sri Lanka in 1999. She then studied at the International Buddhist College from 2001 – 2004. In between her studies, she served as a teacher and the vice-principal of Siang Lin Kindergarten.
Outstanding Women in Buddhism 2020
Ng Lai Chan
Ng Lai Chan was born in 1939 in Malaysia and stayed in Singapore until the age of seven. After graduating from Nanyang Girls’ High School, she was chosen to attend Nursing School in 1959 in a program promoted by the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.
Upon graduation, she became a “State Registered Nurse” certified by England. She moved back to Malaysia and married her dearest husband, Mr. Ho from Malaysia. From there, she started her career as a Staff Nurse at Lady Templer Hospital, 1963-1970. She was then invited to join a non-profit organization, “The Kuala Lumpur Home Serving Nurses,” founded by the Rotary Club. The main function of this Welfare Home is to provide home nursing services and care to the poor and needy who cannot afford medical bills, but who require nursing care and medical attention. She was one of the two kind-hearted and hard-working people willing to handle the Klang Valley’s underprivileged groups. These are hard-core people who stay in squatter areas, swampy areas and rundown areas where necessities are considered luxurious.
Traveling to and from, all over these squatter areas and throughout poor villages every day, she provided daily nursing care to those who were bedridden, seriously ill, and diabetic with amputated limbs. She has dedicated her life to looking after these underprivileged groups for more than 30 years giving hope, love and help to those who need the most. She would have continued this noble task if not for her mild stroke at the age of 68. Her family then encouraged her to take a slower pace of life.
Thus, she decided to pursue her spiritual progress in Buddhism. She studied with many great masters, including the late Venerable Bhikkhu Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda and currently the Chief Abbot of Sam Poh Tong Temple, Bhikkhuni Sing Kan. She always enjoyed attending their Dhamma talks and their charitable activities, such as, Charity Food Fairs, Fund-Raising Dinners, e.g. for Wisdom Park and Pusat Dhammaduta Malaysia Putrajaya, etc. and their spiritual sojourns. She enjoys giving to society.
When looking back, Ng Lai Chan has travelled a long distance and looks forward to planting more Dhamma seeds with whomever she meets in all walks of life. She is blessed with a loving-husband, beautiful children and twelve grandchildren, and she gracefully continues to offer a helping hand to others.