Friday, December 19, 2008


The holidays for our school-going kids began a month ago. Now that December is here and Christmas is just round the corner and the end of the year is approaching, many families are taking holidays together.

The month of November came and went, my own two kids have been spending time in front of the TV and the computer, going out with friends and playing badminton in the evenings. Looking at the four pastimes, I can’t help but pick out playing badminton as the best activity thus far. My husband had bought my son a new Yonex racquet and it has been used well. I have told them to watch ‘good programs’ like Discovery Science, National Geography, Sports, Travel and even the Asian Food Channel. I think they enjoy these programs and the past week, my kids have been experimenting with cooking, I don’t mind, they are allowed to explore new recipes and come up with their own lunch, tea or dinner!

They have since made chocolate brownies, spaghetti and today, baked mashed potatoes and bacon strips. I think everyone enjoyed their tea. Well, its December and I have also told my kids they have had enough rest from their studies and now they have to hit their books again. Yes, they will have to prepare for the new school term which is just a few weeks away…
Most holidays come and go, whether we spend them wisely or not depends on the individual. I have taken a couple of holidays here and there but have yet to really go off for a long break, at least not yet. I am looking forward to the long 6 day break for Christmas and also a few days at the New Year in Penang. Most weekends I would spend going out with the family, exercising at Bukit Jalil, eating together and shopping together.

One of those weekends we went to Pulau Ketam. Always heard about the place but never been there. So, we decided to take the trip there and try the seafood there as well. Turned out, the speedboat ride was fast though the boat itself was quite old and one could hardly see anything out the windows cos’ the panes were too old and misted to view anything. I made sure that everyone knew which life jacket to take in the event it was needed. They had plenty of life jackets above the passenger seats. On arrival after a half an hour ride, we hopped ashore and proceeded to visit the island. Of course one is at once greeted by the rows of seafood restaurants and stalls selling foodstuff. After that we walked past houses on both sides of the road (one can also rent bicycles at RM5 per day).

To my pleasant surprise I found a stall selling fried ice-cream or “ice-cream goreng”. I thought it was only a speciality of Terengganu. There were, however, too many dogs running around freely, much to my dislike. Nothing against them if they are kept indoors and not fight in public places! One can see the exposed wounds festing on the dogs concerned..urghssssssss. My daughter and I were utterly disgusted.

Another horrible encounter was the enormous amount of rubbish that was just strewn everywhere, beside the houses as if that was their common rubbish bins! I found it very disgusting that people could just live next to so much rubbish. No matter how beautiful the houses looked (some really looked nice), the rubbish put me off. I wonder how we could promote Pulau Ketam as a seafood eating paradise (I saw groups of tourists), when the primary hygiene of the area leaves much to be desired. We quickly walked past the houses, made an about turn and went back to the front where the seafood restaurants beckon.

We settled on one, and proceeded to order. The food was good, we had crabs, prawns, fishball soup, vegetables and fish. All in all, it was a good meal. I must confess I didn’t want to check out the kitchen or the toilet just in case …The trip back was made more exciting because it rained and it was troublesome getting back to the car which we had parked nearby the terminal. We drove back to town and was I glad to be back in one of my favourite shopping places, Sunway Pyramid. With its wonderful Xmas décor and numerous shops, that made my weekend quite perfect. So as you can see, folks, my holidays often include shopping and eating.

Another place we visited on another weekend was the Sepang Goldcoast. Yes, folks, its ‘cuti-cuti Malaysia” for us. That weekend trip was a pleasant surprise. My husband decided we should drive around and look for a beach near the Sepang area. We have heard about it but nevertheless, we won’t know till we get there right? The drive was quite scenic, we stopped at a local restaurant for some tea (fried mee and stuff), then passed rows of dragon fruit orchards, which was a wonderful surprise. My girl took lots of photos.
The fruits plus the plants are rather unusual if you haven’t seen them before. There were also stalls selling the fruits. Then as we drove further, we chanced upon the Sepang GoldCoast, which was quite a wonderful sight. I grew up near the seaside (lived in Stulang Laut for ten years.), worked in Kuantan for thirteen years, so the beach and the sea have always fascinated me.
Having been to Kuantan dan Terengganu recently and visited the beaches there, I was extremely excited to see again long stretches of white, silky and soft sand. Perfect to the touch. My kids loved the beach and we took lots of pictures and my girl, Jo, of course loved all the posing. We ended up taking a long walk and also visited the Sepang Goldcoast resort area. It is in the process of being built and I am sure with the number of people there, it will be a successful venture. There was also horse riding on the side, kite-flying and other activities. I haven’t seen that many people on beaches for a long time and everyone was enjoying themselves. There were also numerous shops selling souvenirs and a number of interesting seafood restaurants. So another interesting outing for us. You know, holidaying in Malaysia isn’t too bad after all. Let us spend more time “dengan menjana ekonomi tempatan”.

Other than that, most weekends are also spent parent-sitting and mall-walking! I love holidays and spending quality time with the family. Most nights though, I love to just ‘lepak’ at home with the family, cooking their favourite food, having some karaoke sessions and also internet surfing. Just relaxing and having fun, away from all the tensions and politics at work… I am sure you all have your own holiday experiences to share. Holidays are for us to take time off to relax, reflect, re-energise, re-synergise and re-charge ourselves for the new year ahead.

So to everyone,

Happy Holidays,
Merry Christmas.
Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's the Christmas Season....

To all of you out there, who still wonder what Christmas's some extra info:
Christmas (IPA: /krɪsməs/), also referred to as Christmas Day or Christmastide, is an annual holiday celebrated on December 25 that marks and honors the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.[2][3][4] His birth, which is the basis for the anno Domini system of dating, has been determined by modern historians as having occurred between 7 and 2 BC. The date of celebration is not thought to be Jesus' actual date of birth. It may have been chosen to coincide with the winter solstice,[5] which the ancient Romans celebrated on December 25.[6]

Modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, church celebrations, and the display of various decorations—including the Christmas tree, lights, mistletoe, nativity scenes and holly. Santa Claus (also referred to as Father Christmas, although the two figures have different origins) is a popular mythological figure often associated with bringing gifts at Christmas. Santa is generally believed to be the result of a syncretization between St. Nicholas of Myra and elements from pagan Nordic and Christian mythology, and his modern appearance is believed to have originated in 19th century media.

Christmas is celebrated throughout the Christian population, but is also celebrated by many non-Christians as a secular, cultural festival. The holiday is widely celebrated around the world, including in the United States, where it is celebrated by 96% of the population.[7] Some Orthodox groups celebrate Christmas on or near January 7, as January 7 corresponds to December 25 using the Julian calendar.[8] Because gift-giving and several other aspects of the holiday involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, Christmas has become a major event for many retailers.

I was in a couple of shopping centers last weekend... As usual the Curve was a wonderful sight with all its Christmas decorations and was a fantastic photo opportunity place.

So was Mid Valley City...I really wished I had much longer time to take in all the wonderful sights of retail Christmas. I couldn't resist the numerous sales and of course all the bustling and rapid purchase of certain items on sale.

Somehow Christmas this year will be at a slower pace, being on a Thursday and my husband not able to take leave whether on the eve or on Boxing Day! At any rate, we will be with my parents and family members urshering in the Chrismtas season and then start planning for Chinese New Year which happens to be exactly in a month from Christmas.
So to everyone out there celebrating the Yuletide, here's wishing one and all Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Change or be Changed!

“Change we need….” - Barrack Obama.
“Change or be left behind.”
“To change the world, we must change ourselves first”.
“Change is the only thing that is constant”.
“Change is inevitable…”
Common quotes we hear all the time.

Yes, who has not talked about the US President –Elect, Barrack Obama? His election speeches all talk about change and how America needs to change with the demands of today’s generation. “ This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other”.

If we listen to him, we cannot help but agree with what he has to say. We, ourselves, talk about change endlessly. But sometimes, when you look at it, when people refuse to change themselves, then they should be changed. That’s what is wrong with most of our projects that seem to lag, that never seem to get pass the planning stage, (we are well-known for planning but hopeless at implementing that sits in the laps of some bosses because they feel it’s their baby and only then can do the job. Has it occurred to our higher ups that these same bosses need to be changed. Some have sat here for years and have become their own little dictators or “little Napoleons”. Decisions are made to benefit a few and a lot of time is wasted delaying projects and decisions because only that one boss can make the final decision. Why you say, do we take all these lying down or sitting down? Basically it’s like this, what choice have we got? For most of us, we just accept what is happening and take a ‘wait and see’ attitude because we believe in “what goes round comes round”, we believe that “justice will be served” and we ‘do not’ want to ‘cause trouble’. It’s a pity though because while all this is going on the ‘heirs’ of our projects suffer, we see everything but our lack of courage does not help to alleviate the situation while their lack of conscience continue to control our lives.

Barrack Obama, the 44th President Elect of the United States of America. What an orator! What a fantastic speaker! How did a half-Afican-American man, a lawyer by profession with his roots in Kenya, win the election in America? They say if it can happen in America it can happen anywhere. Our dear Prime Minister said a day after “anyone from the minority races can be Prime Minister if the people want it”. But let’s not discuss that, the country is already embracing change as we speak, after the March elections. The Barisan National has been given another chance to lead even after losing five states to the Opposition. Without the PM’s transparency and democratization of various media eg the internet and allowing “blogging’ to enter the market so to speak, the election might have seen different results. But that is in the past. The way forward is for those in power to change or have change forced onto them. I hope the powers that be have the courage to see beyond race, beyond religion, beyond gender and set the paths right for our future generations.

From Bill Cole and Rick Seaman-The Star, Saturday 5 December 2008.

“The key to change management is to ignore both the supportive 15% (they don’t need convincing) and resistant 15% (they can’t be convinced) and concentrate on the neutral 70%. If the broad middle of the population moves to the right on the attitude bell curve, change happens”.
Here are some tips for the CEO who wants to successfully manage a company-wide change initiative:
- Be mentally tough. Show determined leadership and persevere under the most stressful resistance. Demonstrate that in your world, the change initiative is a done deal.
- Don’t create more resistance than is naturally present by attempting to fight or control every aspect of your change initiative.
- Don’t take the resistance personally. Realize that the laws of the corporate jungle are operating and you can’t fight human nature.
- Handle the stress of the change process in admirable fashion, setting the standards for others to emulate.

There are so many good people out there, multi-racial Malaysians who only want to do their best, whose only wish is to see that the job gets done, projects implemented and money, the tax-payers’ contribution is well-spent. I am an educationist, somewhat disappointed with what is happening around me, but as I have always professed in my blog, “live and let live”. I will continue to do my job to the best of my abilities, I will continue to complete tasks given to me, while supporting my staff and maintaining some sort of order into our lives. I will be the leader in tasks I know are mine, I will make sure my staff become leaders in the making and not just mere followers. I will make sure they can carry out work independently while drawing on their responsibilities and accountability. Yes, I will change to accommodate the situation for as they say, for the world to change, we must change first, but I still hope that those that need to change have themselves need to be changed first. I remain positive as I still have faith in the common good of man, in a country that has seen change take place albeit shockingly in March 2008, in a place we all fellow Malaysians: Malay, Indian, Chinese, Iban, Kadazan, Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist, Kristian, Sikh, Hindu.., call home.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I am my parent’s daughter…

Some months ago, I think in June, I did a piece on filial piety. That was when mum was undergoing her by-pass operation. Back then, I asked myself what was filial piety and what were our responsibilities as children. Now five months down the line, I am reviewing the contributions I have made towards making my parents lives more meaningful and fruitful. Now, I ask myself whether I could have done more and whether my weekend outings and being with them has had any impact on their lives. I am particularly sad and affected when my eldest sister has consistently called me a “guest child”. This, she defines, as a child who only goes back to visit her parents during festive seasons, birthdays and particular occasions. I agree that I have not been to visit my parents as regular as I should (weekends or monthly trips) and in a year, perhaps I go back to my hometown maybe four to five times a year. But I object and disagree to being called a “guest child’ because I am on the phone almost every day, checking on my parents and she calls me almost every day as well. My parents also visit us (my brother and I ) in Kuala Lumpur quite often (4-5 times a year), so I feel that I see her almost every month. The only thing is I am not around daily to see to their needs, but I am all ears for them and believe me, my mum calls and tells me everything and also asks my opinion on most things. I have never felt far away from their lives and in fact, they are a part of our lives though we live apart. I believe I am my parents’ child and will remain so till the end and no one should doubt that. We cannot choose our parents and neither can they choose their children, and that is a fact!

Let us reflect on what our parents have sacrificed over the years. Their support to us since we were kids have been endless, financially and materially when we were young, then emotional and physical as we got older, babysitting, driving our kids to and from school and caring for them when we had to do our own things. I will always remember my parents for taking care of my daughter Jenny, for the first year of her life, to this day, the special bond between them is unbreakable. How easy it is to forget their contributions to our families, how easy it is to forget the times we have relied on them to take care of the children, send and pick them from school, how easy it is to forget the times we needed them to do some marketing, buy lunch for the kids, bring in the clothes, the list is long………of course we look at ourselves and we cannot deny that being so near, children who live nearby will have to take them to the doctors’ when they fall ill and bring them shopping occasionally. Mind you, my parents were very happy living independent lives and doing their own thing, my dad was still driving till June this year when he had to leave it all behind to move to KL because of my mum’s operation and that was when, his Parkinsons disease got worse and slowly now dementia has crept into is life and that of ours.

People do grow old, it’s just that now it’s our parents turn. We have to accept the situation and the sooner we do so the better. My brother put it nicely when he said that we should not push them into forgetting their own old house, there is too much memorabilia left behind. We all have to play our part and make their remaining years worthwhile and happy. They need to be around us, and since most of us are working, we have to work our schedules around them , so far it’s been challenging but I think it has worked so far. I only hope we continue to be happy as a family and that our bonds will remain strong till eternity.