Kwoks finally win TNP SUVival challenge

Their daughter was only seven months old when they first took her along for The New Paper SUVival Challenge in 2006.

Mr Kwok Chee Wei and his wife, Madam Tan Li Jin, admitted they barely knew what they were doing then.

With Madam Tan, 40, busy taking care of the infant Kwok Fei, Mr Kwok, a 48-year-old shipping director, struggled to complete the Challenge.

And for the next seven years, the Kwoks returned home empty-handed and disappointed.

Today, Kwok Fei is nine, and Mr Kwok and his wife are seasoned veterans.

Yet, having never broken into the top 15, the Kwok family could be forgiven for thinking this year would lead to the same outcome.

But their experience, knowledge of the Challenge and hunger to win finally paid off.

Last night, at the Equatorial Hotel in Malacca, they received a standing ovation as they were crowned champions of this year's edition of TNP SUVival Challenge.

The annual event, in its ninth year, is organised by TNP and this year's edition was run by All Wheelers Group Singapore.

As champions, the Kwoks took home $3,000 cash, a Geolandar tyre set, a Canon camera, an Autoglym product hamper and a Jeep remote-controlled toy car.

Madam Tan had to shield her face to wipe her tears before the interview.

When she finally composed herself, she said: "We didn't even realise our number was called because we just didn't expect anything.

"I still can't believe it. Nine years. We've been around since the start and we've finally done it. It's incredible."

An equally shell-shocked Mr Kwok, who beamed throughout the 20-minute interview, said that their patience and perseverance finally paid off.

"We knew we had to get better every year. Or at least that's what our daughter would tell us on our way home after each Challenge," he said.

"So this year, we planned properly. We had a sense of urgency. We took every point seriously."

Madam Tan, who admitted to napping during the past Challenges, said she took her role as navigator more seriously this year.

"I have improved," she said, with an approving nod from her husband.

"Kwok Fei would also look out for signs and help out with the maths-related challenges."

Along with 120 other SUVs, the Kwoks, in their Mitsubishi Pajero, had to make stops at three game checkpoints before an off-road segment on the outskirts of Malacca.

Mr Kwok said he was also no longer afraid of the most challenging part - and undisputed highlight - of the event: the off-road challenge, where participants negotiate a series of obstacles.

Former winner and All Wheelers Group Singapore president Suhaimi Badri, 30, congratulated the Kwoks.

"They deserve it. They've been participating since the start - that's seven Challenges more than me," he said.

"With that kind of passion and determination, they are the true champions of this Challenge."

Mr Kwok said: "We will be back next year. We won't miss the 10th anniversary of the Challenge."

This year's edition was meant to be more muddy and challenging, with more time for participants to test their skills at the off-road obstacles.

This article was published on April 27 in The New Paper.

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