Who is Ervin Devadason, the boy who gave up a drum set for the country?

Debra Chong
Ervin Devadason and his parents, Edward Devadason and Thayanee Rajamanoharan, pose for a photo at their house in Shah Alam June 23, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 — His face has been all over the newspapers and social media as the boy standing between DAP’s Lim Kit Siang and Hannah Yeoh who donated eight months of savings to Tabung Harapan Malaysia (THM) last Wednesday.

Since then, the bespectacled Ervin Devadason, who was saving up for a drum set, has found himself the centre of media attention.

Malaysians by and large have commended him for his generous spirit though there have been some detractors who have put down his donation, and those who received it, as a mere publicity stunt.

With his parents’ permission, the primary schoolboy from Shah Alam, Selangor has come out to set the record straight.

“My parents and my uncle (father’s brother) always say giving is a blessing [more] than receiving.

“This birthday, my father asked, ‘What you want to give to others?’ So while watching TV in the evening, I saw many people giving towards Tabung Harapan. So I asked my father if I can give towards Tabung Harapan,” Ervin, who turned 12 on June 14, said in an emailed statement to Malay Mail.

Initially, Ervin hoped to hand over his savings which he kept in a Menara Maybank coin box to his MP Mohamad Sabu, but the latter, who is also defence minister, was unavailable.

So Ervin’s father Edward Devadason emailed Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh who agreed to receive the boy’s donation for THM. On June 20, carrying his Menara Maybank “piggy bank” and accompanied by his father, Ervin went to meet Yeoh, and was surprised to see Lim Kit Siang turn up with a group of journalists.

“It was a pleasant surprise to see YB Lim Kit Siang and the group of media there. Truly a memorable day for me,” said the boy who stands as tall as the DAP adviser.

After opening the coin box and counting the savings inside, he found it amounted to RM214.60, which he later deposited into the THM Maybank account.

“What people give and the little I’m giving is definitely not going to be sufficient for the country. However, I want to be part of Malaysia,” he added.

Ervin said he started following Malaysian politics by watching the news on Astro Awani and reading national newswire service Bernama because his family had been discussing the 14th general election.

“I like listening to the talks by Tun Mahathir and other political leaders. They don’t talk to children so sometimes it’s hard to understand,” he said, referring to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the 92-year-old who became prime minister for a second time after winning the elections.

Instead of buying the drum set of his dreams, Ervin Devadason (second from right) chose to donate his savings over the past eight months to Tabung Harapan Malaysia. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

Prior to the May 9 polls, Ervin shyly said that though he is a Malaysian, he never felt he was a part of the country or could have a role in its future.

“We at home always talk about migrating to another country. But now, no more. I feel I want to be in Malaysia. I like the New Malaysia. Malaysia ‘negaraku’.”

Since then, Ervin has continued to read up on politics and tried to familiarise himself with the many acronyms, government positions and words used in news articles.

“Many words are still new for me. I am learning. For example, MACC, Attorney

General, party coalition, IGP, the process of choosing leaders and ‘angkat sumpah’, Member of Parliament, Adun, role of Agong, the role of prime minister,” he said.

While he feels he is too young to be actively involved in politics now, he appears to be developing an appetite for it.

“I desire to serve the country when I grow up. For now, maybe I would like to read more about politics and help the nation in whatever way I can.”

Ervin said he aspires to study in the Royal Military College and be a pilot in the Air Force.

“I want to serve Malaysia. I am proud to be a Malaysian,” he said.

Ervin’s father and mother Thayanee Rajamanoharan said they are immensely proud of their son and expressed their appreciation to the DAP lawmakers, especially Yeoh, for accepting his donation and according him respect even though he is still a child.

“She made the world realise children are also part of a nation,” Edward said.

In their joint statement, Ervin’s parents said they have learnt to be careful in how they nurture children who are “silent listeners and careful observers” and encourage learning beyond book smarts.

“Good values need to be instilled from young. As much as it is a joy to see what is happening now, it also gives us greater pressure to be better and careful parents,” they said.

They also said they have been asked if they felt it “right” to expose and involve children in politics.

“If smartphones can be given to them and they are free to venture out into the world, why not they know what is going on in their country and be part of it?” they said in the statement.

To Ervin’s parents, it is better to expose and teach children about the “real heroes and legends” who are fighting to protect the rights of the people, the peace and repair damages to the country’s reputation.

“If we want our children to grow holistically and be a good human with values I believe, we parents are the tool for betterment and change for the next generation in our country.”

Ervin’s parents also thanked the public for offering to give their son a drum set, but declined the gift.

“Ervin has sincerely donated his savings for the good cause as Malaysian and for his future. We as parents are proud of his kind deed at this young age. We will buy him the drum set in due time. We are financially able to do that,” they said.