KUALA PILAH: Never in her wildest dreams did street sweeper Chan Mun Thye think she would be officially honoured for her services, let alone be the recipient of a state award.
But that is exactly what happened to the 60-year-old at the Istana Besar Seri Menanti here, where she was awarded the Pingat Jasa Kebaktian (PJK) today.
The accolade was conferred in conjunction with the 71st birthday celebrations of the Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir.
Chan, who had been a member of the City Centre Road Sweeper Unit of SWM Environment Sdn Bhd (SWM) for 16 years, reached retirement age on Jan 4, and was simply expecting a slight change of pace in her life.
Little did Chan know that her employer was nominating her for a state honour behind her back.
The mother-of-four said her supervisor had recently asked for her photograph, without telling her why.
“I gave it, not suspecting anything, because I thought it was for my retirement.
“Not long after that, I received a letter saying I would be getting the Pingat Jasa Kebaktian.
“I was so touched, and at the same time, very happy,” she told reporters when met after the investiture ceremony here, today.
Chan said she was grateful to SWM, Tuanku Muhriz and the state government for according her the award.
Although Chan retired early this month, she has decided to continue her employment on a contract basis, as she wants to serve SWM for as long as she can.
“I will start working again after Chinese New Year… I like my work, because it is not hard to ensure the cleanliness of a place,” she said.
Others beg to differ, feeling that keeping streets clean requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
State Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Committee chairman Teo Kok Seong is of the same opinion, and said the award was given as a mark of appreciation.
“This clearly proves that whatever one’s job, if it is clear that (one has) contributed to the state, then (one is) eligible for an award,” Teo said.