An only child, adopted from an unwed mothers home in Taichung, Taiwan at the age of 11 months by John and Doris Yeow, a childless couple living in Hong Kong. John is a chartered accountant of some repute, has a PhD in commerce and worked at the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC). Doris was also qualified accountant (although of considerably lesser repute) and is credited with introducting John (at the time a failed Med student from the University of Sydney) to accountancy.
Enrolled at the Quarry Bay School, an English Schools Foundation school in Hong Kong (though curiously not located in Quarry Bay), in September 1986 at the age of 4 years. He finished at Quarry Bay in 1992 and started at the South Island School (another ESF school) in September that year. In 1996, he left (he was forcibly taken from) South Island to go to the Scotch College, a fancy all-boys boarding school in Melbourne, Australia.
He graduated from Scotch in 1999 and, after a failed application to read Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, began a bachelor of arts/bachelor of science double degree at the University of Melbourne. After some delays and difficulties, he finished undergrad after a sum total of 6 years (the arts/science double is ordinarily completed in 5), he went on to do honours in mathematics, which he completed after only 1 year (the normal amount of time). His undergraduate majors are Mathematics, Philosophy and, Archaeology.
He subsequently applied for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to do an MPhil in International relations at Oxford University and was rejected at the first selection round. Since then, he has applied for the MA in International Relations at Yale (rejected), the MPA/ID at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (rejected) and the PhD in Sustainable Development at Columbia University (rejected). He was however fortunate in gaining admission to Columbia University’s MA in Climate and Society which he completed on schedule and without a single failed subject (!).
After interning at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society as a photographer and at UNICEF in the climate section, he moved to the Netherlands in order to train full-time for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver as a speed skater – a standard career-path for Columbia University MAs.
Despite not making the games, has continued speedskating and is now coaching the Danish junior team, while living in Denmark and saving the world by occasionally working for Worldwatch Institute Europe (he built the website), and pursuing interests in information security and privacy through the use of encryption.
In 1989, at the tender age of 7 years, Daniel was invited to a birthday party at a roller skating rink in Tai Koo Shing (in Hong Kong) by classmate Rianna Oyston. At this party Daniel was by far the worst person on skates, even among those who had just started. Despite this, he went on to take up lessons in the sport.
About a year later, the coach of the regular skating class was absent and her husband took the class. He introduced us to “speed” skating – competitive roller skating with the object of crossing the finish line first at the conclusion of a predetermined distance around a predetermined course. Although new to the concept, Daniel excelled at “speed” skating, particularly in the area of expertise known as “starts”. So outstanding was his ability, the coach singled him out and suggested that he would be a shoe-in for the 1995 asian roller skating championships. Dismissed by his parents as a preposterous prediction, he would eventually be proven correct, with Daniel attending his first asian championships at the age of 13 (skating as a senior) in Nagano, Japan in October 1995.
Moving to Australia initially seemed like the end of Daniel’s skating career, but it turned out to be quite something else. Daniel joined the Eltham Roller Skating club and began competing at the much higher level of competition which was offered in Australia. Slowly but surely his times got better as did his overall technique. His visit to World Championships in Barquisimeto, Venezuela in November 2003, remains a career highlight.
After attending his second World Championships in Italy he changed his training dramatically and with some success as indicated by a 4th place in the 200m at 2005 oceania championships. He took a break from skating to complete his honours year studies, then returned to skate in the 2007 World Championships in Cali, Columbia just before moving to New York to begin his masters degree.
After a very long hiatus due to academics, he switched to long track ice skating as his preferred choice of self-propelled speed on skates and despite not qualifying for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games to represent Australia, now coaches the Danish junior team. Despite his advanced age, he continues to slowly improve on his personal best times.
While at the South Island School, Daniel was exposed to all manner of cultural and intellectual stimuli. Among these were regular assemblies where guest speakers and various other people would come and speak about random things. Charities, religious organisations, political organisations, and clubs all bombarded students with a million and one reasons to join their particular group. There was one organisation which caught Daniel’s attention (although not enough to actually make him do anything about it) and that was Amnesty International, a human rights organisation which, well… did something to do with defending human rights. Despite the fact that Daniel had other things on his mind, like starting the Inline Skating club at the school, the seeds were sown.
Later, much later in fact, at the start of University in Melbourne, Daniel got dragged along to a speaker’s night for Amnesty International. Although the speaker wasn’t a particularly good one, Daniel was inspired to come along to some meetings and see what all this human rights defending business was all about. After his first meeting, despite the fact that foremost in his mind was the favourable male to female ratio, he was inspired to take up the cause. The next year, he became the secretary of the group and, the year after, president. He established a regular trivia night and has gone on to organise a comedy night not unlike the “Secret Policeman’s Balls” which were organised by John Cleese of Monty Python fame, also for Amnesty International.
He went on to hold an official position of being a committee member on the Victorian Branch committee. He also attended meetings of the women’s team and the Melbourne University group as well as co-convening the Victorian Youth Network (then known as the “Youth Freedom Project”) and pseudo-semi-co-convening the national youth network. The second of his comedy nights, which occured on the 9th of October 2004 was a huge success as was the third night – the last that he was personally involved in organising. “Stand Up For Your Rights” became an annual affair for several years after his departure but eventually ended due to the high cost of running it (and despite the large profits it attracted).
Daniel was also heavily involved in the national youth body of Amnesty International Australia and has been invited to organise, speak at, and co-chair national youth summits.
After moving to New York, despite a desire to concentrate wholly on his studies, Daniel managed to become involved with a girl in the Amnesty group at Columbia University as well as organisations tied to the objective of bringing freedom and democracy to Burma. Within his first month he managed to attend several protest marches, candle light vigils, write a website for the CUAI group, conceived an event and attended a conference at the United Nations. He also co-organised a conference with the Child Rights Working Group.
Although relatively quiet on the activism front while living in the Netherlands, since moving to Denmark, he has resumed with memberships to Amnesty as well as a background support role in a certain whistleblower website started by a tall, white-haired friend from Melbourne.
Despite majoring in mathematics, Daniel is useless at mental arithmetic.
He acheived his full school colours (fancy school blazer pocket embroidery) in Table Tennis
He is an able trampolinist, having completed many courses while living in Hong Kong
He was once a member of the Hong Kong Jockey Club (previously the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club). He was an oddity in the club in that he was one of the few members who could actually ride a horse (the club exists primarily for betting on horse races).
He was also a member of the “Young Post Club” a young writers club of the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s major Enlish-language newspaper.
In 1995, he gathered a group of school mates together and won a roller hockey tournament after only a week’s training and against a plethora of other teams who had trained and had coaches (and uniforms! who would’ve thought?). Daniel scored the game-winning goal in a penalty shoot out in the final of the competition. Read about it here.
He was a recipient of the “Clive Steele” award for being in the most soldierly platoon, in his first year in the Scotch College Cadet unit.
During his time in the cadet unit, he received a marksmanship award for his skill with a rifle and was on the flag party for the year-end “Tatoo” (a big parade, with lots of marching and bagpipes).
He received a prize certificate (awarded to the top 0.3%) in the Australian Mathematics Competition in 1996, 1997 and 1999
He received an outstanding award (awarded to the top 10) in the Melbourne University Mathematics Competition in 1999
Him and a team of 4 other school mates were first runners up in the Melbourne Uni Maths Olympics in 1999, the team was the Scotch College team, the team name was “Scotch College”. Deciding that the boring team name was unacceptable, he and some friends who were running the school maths olympics in 2005 renamed the Scotch College Team the “Johnnie Walkers”.
He took his revenge by winning back to back in 2001 and 2002 with “Geoff and the normal people” and “Fermat’s Last Lemma”. In 2003, his team “The Fellowship of the Ring Theory” were second. 2004 saw sweet revenge once again with “The Quantum Mechanics: no job too small” victorious by a considerable margin.
He plays the piano, though not very well I might add. He failed grade 8 twice in 1994. He briefly took up the violin in his late teens, and has recently tried to learn the flute.
On June 25th 2003, he was involved in a high speed motor vehicle accident in a single-seater formula ford in which he smashed into a concrete barrier at 170km/h. He came away with a fractured shoulder, some minor lacerations, and his life.
He did classical ballet for eight years.
He once took up the sport of Archery, but had to give it up in favour of speed skating. He may eventually return, as archers have much longer athletic careers than speed skaters.
He used to run for the Melbourne University Athletics Club. He is a middle distance runner (800m, 1500m) by preference although the stopwatch says otherwise (400m specialist).
He represented the University of Melbourne in Athletics in the 2006 Australian University Games in Adelaide
He represented the University of Melbourne in Kendo in the 2001 Australian Universtiy Games in Adelaide
He has taken up the sport of curling.
He was captian of the Scotch College astronomy club
He has worked at the Hong Kong Productivity Council doing odd-jobs (like “project assistant”)
He can think and speak fluent cantonese, but can’t write it.
He is learning French, Russian, Danish, Arabic and Spanish, and has in the past tried his hand at German and Dutch (which probably explains why he isn’t particularly good at any of them)
He has a certificate in “Food Workplace Hygine Procedures”
He has a 6 kyu grade in Kendo
He has terribly expensive tastes, and not only that, he prefers to eat his expensive food in expensive, upmarket restaurants. He considers this revenge on his parents for sending him to boarding school (where the food was neither expensive, nor the surroundings upmarket)
He has a terrible temper, but a long fuse. However, he likes to behave as if he had a short fuse for his own amusement.
He has a pugnacious streak…