Flat on my back!

Hi, folks. I’m down on my back with food poisoning and am in no shape to write. Will resume writing next Friday. So, have a good week and if you think of me just pray for my speedy recovery!

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Best Divali news: Now everyone can get married … !

Apart from the Divali (Deepavali) celebrations, the Indian community apparently was abuzz over Air Asia boss Tan Sri Tony Fernandes’ marriage to his South Korean girlfriend, Chloe. Comments were flying over the net and off whats app groups.

There were even more comments when a picture of the newly-wed couple having a banana leaf meal somewhere in the Klang Valley made the rounds. In good-spirited fun, the comments were really funny: Now, Air Asia will make banana leaf rice popular in South Korea! Marry budget airline boss, you get budget lunch next day! Can’t take the Indian out of him — in reference to him having a banana leaf meal!

But, to me, the best line was “Now everyone can get married!” Haha! What an appropriate takeoff on the Air Asia slogan, Now everyone can fly. Some people say it with just a slight undertone of sarcasm but I say it with delight. Fernandes’ blazed the trail in adding a dash of glamour to budget travel. Now, he may be adding a dash of glamour to getting married — or remarried — later in life!

The choices are plenty to find a partner: the old (who now like Fernandes’ are the baby boomers who live it up at whatever age!), the middle-aged, the young (as long as they are adults), the brown, the yellow, the black, the white, the rich, the poor, the middle-class, the smart, the not-so-smart, the whatever …. !

There’s plenty to choose from. So, those of us who are still unmarried (even if very happily!), we may still have a chance — if that’s what we want. The point is it can happen — even later in life — as it happened to the Air Asia boss. He’s not the only one who broke the age barrier to get married late. It’s just another example that the hope of a happy, satisfying marriage can open up for us at whatever age or circumstance!

It was a piece of good news that added to the celebration of Light.

So, Tan Sri, if you happen to be surfing the Net and stumble upon this post, “Congrats on getting married!” And, thanks, for giving the rest of us something to think about! All in jest! Best wishes! You made our Divali!

Happy Deepavali, everyone!



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Finding God in the punches and flow of life

One of the lessons I’m learning these days is to navigate uncharted territory, particularly in the area of relationships. Normally, when relationships get messy and stressful, I just get out of it!

I see so many women around me who persevere through difficult relationships and I just don’t know how they do it! For me, the choice is always to get out! And, I do just that! My consistent advice to women in painful relationships — whether with a partner or child or another family member or friend or colleague — is , please, get out or act decisively and spare yourselves the pain. With family members, there isn’t a choice but to persevere but, with me, I manage by keeping them at emotional arm’s length!

The women generally don’t heed my advice and carry on through the mess and what baffles me is that they are willing to stick through it! Maybe, it’s because of love. I don’t know. My option is always : Get out!

Until recently. As always, my immediate reaction was to get out of it. But, this time, my feet lingered. Some inner prompting encouraged me to stay and see how to make things work. Maybe, finally, I’ve grown in that emotional space where I used to struggle and stumble and fight and when unable to deal with it any further, turn around and flee! Now, I’m learning to roll with the punches and go with the flow. And, it isn’t so bad!

But, more important than that, is the awareness that, perhaps, God is doing something. It occurred to me that unless I go through it I’ll never know or experience the divine guiding hand.

So, now, when the relationship enters troubled waters, instead of wanting to bail out, I am learning how to work my way through it! I would be so tempted to leave or cut off the person, but I become aware of this consciousness that, hey, I don’t feel so bad, I can take this! I can go through this. And, I do. And the results have been positive so far. Family members and friends have gotten closer.

What is most encouraging is that I see the Guiding Hand. To those of us of faith, this is what we want to see and know for sure. I believe whether we see it or not God helps. But, I also believe that if God — being God — wants us to know that it is He who is helping us, we will know it. How, I don’t know. But, if God wants us to know it, we will know it.

The surest way of knowing it is to be sensitive to what God may be doing and go through the problem before us. As we learn how to cope and deal with the demands of the issue at hand, we will see and experience some things which we just know is the brush of the divine and it helps us through. That is what Christians describe as God with us — Immanuel (Hebrew for God with us), the other Name of Jesus Christ, the reality that is in our midst that surfaces as we live out our lives, enriching our lives.

That reality exists whether or not we believe it. When we believe it, we become sensitive to its presence and nothing is more encouraging, more blessing than when it touches us in some way.

The knowledge of that we won’t know until we go through what is in front of us. Once we face it, we make decisions based on what we are capable of. But, when we are ready, we’ll confidently walk through and experience for ourselves that divine touch. We know God is with us.


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A real role model for young and old

Syed Saddiq is, indeed, a role model. How many young people will give up an Oxford education to maintain his commitment to his political party and country? How many more will turn down RM5 million to leave the party they belong to and smear their leaders?

The reason the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi) Youth chief gave for giving up an Oxford scholarship was “for the sake of county”.  Amazing! Saddiq probably realised that now was not a good time to leave politics as the opposition of which his party is a member needs every leader they can get. At 25, he still has time on his side and can get back to his studies later, once the political climate in the country stabilises.

He may not get an Oxford scholarship. But, he could still get to Oxford through another scholarship or loan. Or, he can go to another university; Oxford — though an opportunity of a lifetime — is not the only means to success. There are alternatives, and, I am sure he is being wisely guided on this matter.

According to news reports, Saddiq said his he was offered RM5 million to leave Pribumi, tarnish the names of his party leaders and secure a place in Oxford University in the UK. I think, more than putting politics and nation first, if the reason he gave is anything to go by, then, the real reason he turned his back on such an offer was his commitment to integrity. He did not want to be bribed.

That is a remarkable act of sacrifice from someone so young. His actions put to shame all the elders who pocketed the money offered and maintained the status quo. They compromised their beliefs to fatten their pockets for whatever their need they used to justify their actions. But, Saddiq showed that he could not be bought over. That he would stay true to his beliefs, even if it costs!

It probably was a tough call for a young man to make. It would have been easier to compromise. Many may think he is crazy to defer an Oxford education and turn down RM5 million. It’s an incredible offer and a great amount of money. A great temptation!

But, he passed the test.

It’s something that all of us — young and old — can learn from. There are times in our lives when we compromise and there are times when we don’t. Now, in Malaysia, is the time when we must not compromise; now is the time to stand up and be counted for a better future for all. Now is NOT the time to sell our souls for a pocketful of ringgit.

Now is the time to be the Syed Saddiqs who will intervene for change and resist and say an emphatic “NO!”  to this great money-backed endeavour to keep one party with a dwindling support base in power.

Now is the time to act as Syed Saddiq has!


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Waking up to the rain

It was nice this morning waking up to the sound of rainfall. As my eyes opened sleepily, the first thing I heard was the clatter of raindrops hitting the roof and the ground. It wasn’t a hard thrashing of rainfall but a strong even fall that kept me attentive to it, while I lay in bed, snug under warm covers, enjoying the luxury of sleeping in!

Usually, it rains before or after I wake up, and, I don’t take further notice of it except to make a mental note that it’s raining and then I’m rushing from one thing to another and don’t enjoy the weather!

But, today is the weekend and I didn’t have to rush and I let the fall of rain lull me into a tranquil state of contemplation. The past few months were hectic and a major adjustment having taken on a new job. I was tired and unsettled. But, lying in bed this morning, the rainfall soothed slightly frayed nerves.

Rain has this effect on me. It calms me down. If you are caught in one of KL city’s famous flash floods caused by rains, you’d probably want to clobber me for wanting rain! For me, however, I would choose a cloudy, rain-soaked day any time to a scorching, hot and bothering, temperature-rising and hitting 95°F sunny day!

When the temperature is about 84°F, it is pleasant and comfortable to stay indoors and enjoy home!

Today was one of those days. All morning, I was thinking of the luxury of a rush-free life! How nice if the days were leisurely! If I could laze through the day, doing the meals and chores, reading, going for walks and swimming, chatting with neighbours, planning for travel with good company. (I don’t travel unless I have good company!) Hmmm…. maybe, it’s time to start planning for retirement!

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Secure people embrace criticisms

Criticisms are healthy. They aid in renewal and in revitalization to bring about change for the better. Without criticisms, we will be stuck with the same old same old.

Criticisms, however, are not the same as fault-finding. The aim of criticisms is not to keep finding fault in the other person. That isn’t criticism; that is what it is: fault-finding.

Neutral criticisms are what we call feedback. People generally accept feedback because it’s emotion-free. Criticisms, however, tend to be charged with emotion. And, that’s why I say it’s healthy because it reflects the strong feelings people feel about the issue and offers a chance for it to be addressed — if the people who can address the issue are secure and mature enough to see the issue and the accompanying emotion and address both. Usually, when the issue is addressed, the emotion dissipates, and the criticisms come to an end.

Vibrant relationships and communities are characterized by the accommodation of criticisms. Let’s take personal relationships. You notice how family members (those who really care for you) will tell you to your face what your problem is?! If we become slighted by the criticism and wither, shrink and withdraw into our shell or react, we miss the chance to confront the issue. If the relationship is healthy, even if the criticism stings, we deal with the issue and the relationship becomes stronger.

In public service, it is the same. People criticise because the issue affects them in some way and they want resolution. Or, they may feel that the leadership isn’t what they thought it would be and they want a change. It’s the right of the people to change the leaders they voted in. Criticising the leadership isn’t personal; it’s criticising the abuse of the office they have been entrusted with.

Criticisms expose the wrong. But if the response is to shut down the criticism, that is clearly oppression, and oppression which is executed to prop up insecure leaders.

The thing to note is this: It is not the criticism that is making the leaders insecure; the leaders are already insecure and the criticisms merely expose it. The thing to do is not to silence the criticism but to examine oneself to find out what is the insecurity stemming from and act to overcome. When the leader becomes more secure, he or she will be able to address what the criticisms are addressing, deal with it and in time there will be no grounds for the criticisms!

The result? Leaders become better people, the issue is resolved and everybody becomes more settled!

Those who are most averse to criticisms are usually the religious leaders. Some of them hold the belief that since they have the “words of God” or know best what that means, criticising them is as good as criticising God.

Nothing is further from the truth! Criticising to expose wrong-doing (sin) is promoting righteousness. And righteousness is always of God.

Let me give some historical examples. If not for criticisms there will be no Protestantism — no Protestant denominations like the Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Baptists, Assembly of God, etc, etc.

If Martin Luther hadn’t criticised the errors in the Catholic Church at that time, there would have been no Reformation that rejuvenated Christianity with the birth of the Protestant movement. But, he did and the result was a great diversity in the expressions of faith and worship in Christianity as seen by the various denominations. At the same time, there was renewal in the Catholic Church. The latter confronted the sins of the past, acknowledged them, abandoned those practices and moved on to a better testimony.

Closer to home, let’s look at the Bible. The prophets of the Bible were always exposing sin in their leaders and community and other nations. They were always “criticising” and some of them use very harsh language, invoking God’s damnation on the sinful! Of the 39 books in the Old Testament of the Bible, 17 books are on the prophets — the religious leaders who were most unpopular because they rarely had anything nice to say!

But, said, they did, and faced the consequences! One — Jeremiah — was accused of treason and imprisoned (Jeremiah 37-38) and another — Zechariah — was even murdered (2 Chronicles 24: 15-22).

Criticisms are necessary to keep public officials in check. This that does not mean we need to use offensive language to criticise. But, as in anything human, there will be abuse and some will criticise for the sake of doing so and resort to offensive language. In public discourse, when that happens there will be others who will criticise that! In this way, there are checks and balances for everyone.

The lesson is this: People criticise because there’s a need to. And, leaders should see criticisms not as personal affronts but as opportunities to redress the wrong, resolve the issue and solve the problem.

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Rooting for a better nation!

So, Prime Minister Najib Razak went to the US and threw around a few billions to “strengthen the US economy” with our money — US$24 billion, including EPF money, to build infrastructure there. Wow, how generous of him!

Meanwhile, we don’t have enough money to install CCTVs at police stations to find out why a policeman was found inside one station with bullet wounds. We don’t have enough money to give cops better salaries to discourage them from taking bribes.

We don’t have money to pay the Selangor government a full price to take over water concessionaire SPLASH which owns the Selangor Dam and two water treatment plants.

We don’t have enough to pay Sabah and Sarawak more oil royalties to build their own infrastructure and grow their own economies.

We also don’t have enough money to fit religious schools with adequate safety measures and monitor them to maintain high safety standards. We often read and hear of fire-related deaths at these schools. The latest was the fire at the religious school in Taman Keramat in Kuala Lumpur which killed 19 students and 2 teachers because the escape route was blocked.

No, no! These are not urgent issues that require an allocation of money.  But buying 737s and investing EPF funds in the US are!

Prices keep shooting up and cost of living has gone up so high many are slipping to a lower standard of living.

So much to consider in our own economy but the prime minister is generously investing abroad. Well, we’ll have to see if it will benefit us in significant ways and that his trips abroad and money thrown are not another PR exercise to change public perception ahead of the general election.

If it is, we have come to expect the prime minister to do no better. Despite all the public caution and criticisms, he chooses to act as he always has — befuddling common sense.

Well, what I find more frightening than his abilities is the support he gets. His coalition partners have no choice but to prop him up. But the voters who still will vote for him and the Barisan Nasional (BN)?

They read his actions as he wants them to. On a daily diet of mainstream BN propaganda,  they are convinced of BN invincibility. Well, the rest of us have to prove them wrong. We need to counter their effort by exposing the mainstream media as pure propaganda.

I know I sound like a broken record but the next general elections is very important. If there’s no change of government we’ll have to put up with more of Najibism and it’s very doubtful that would be good for this nation

So, everyone has to do our part now — even if it’s a small part — to influence the one who can’t see and make him or her see.

One vote turned away from the BN is one vote more for the good of the nation. Hopefully, that would lead to a definite change of government. I’m actively rooting for it!

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