SINGAPORE - When Dr Abdul Razakjr Omar was growing up, his parents had to visit the pawnshop five to six times a year to make ends meet sometimes. But he says they never made him feel disadvantaged.
In fact, his parents were generous with gifts when he scored 90 marks and above in school. After doing well in his Secondary 1 examinations, he got a BMX bicycle.
"It took them months to save for that," says the 43-year-old consultant cardiologist at Raffles Heart Centre.
In return, he says, he shares his achievements with his parents - retired soldier Omar Harun, 69, and housewife Junaidah Ismail, 63.
Dr Razakjr, a Singapore Armed Forces medical education scholar who became the first Malay heart specialist in Singapore in 2005, won this year's Berita Harian Achiever of the Year award.
When he was at the National University of Singapore, his father also worked as a part-time delivery man to put him and two younger siblings through school. His mother worked part-time in a factory as needed.
Says Dr Razakjr: "They showed us that we didn't have to come from a rich family to succeed. For example, I had a new bag, two new pairs of school shoes and three new sets of uniforms each year."
In contrast, he recalls his parents' own scant wardrobe, with his father perpetually in army greens and his mother with just a few sets of clothes.