John So is the mayor of Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia with a population of more than 3 million. He was born in Shunde, a county in southern China and moved to Melbourne when he was 17 years old.
Amazingly for a migrant, in July 2001 he became the first directly-elected Lord Mayor of Melbourne, defeating several high-profile candidates, including Australian Democrats founder, Don Chipp.
As if that was not enough, early this month he has been voted the world's most outstanding mayor – a mere five years after becoming the city's first popularly-elected leader.
Between June and October this year more than 103,000 people from across the globe voted on 677 mayors as part of the World Mayor internet-based project organised by City Mayors, a international organisation working to promote local government.
He said of his award: "I am delighted to be elected World Mayor 2006. The honour belongs to the amazing people of this wonderful city and the hard working team at the City of Melbourne."
Those who voted also were encouraged to provide statements on why their nominee should win.
One young Melburnian wrote: "John So has captured the imagination of the people of this city. He has especially done so with young people. Where else in the world do people under the age of 25 cheer and stamp and shout out the name of the mayor?"
His comments refer to So's surge in popularity during the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games which led to "John So, he's our bro" and "John So for PM" T-shirts.
At the Games closing ceremony, at every mention of his name, there was applause from the crowd, which got progressively louder. It was hardly surprising that So, the only Australian mayor to be short listed for the award, said (naturally) Melbourne is a great place to live.
Any chance of a 4th generation Chinese Malaysian or Indian Malaysian becoming Datuk Bandar of KL, or even the president of a municipality council in Penang or Ipoh?