Thursday, September 06, 2012

Time To Regain our Lost Values

My Malaysia Day Posting and Reflection
Time to regain our lost values

Malaysia's preoccupation with significance and wealth without character has led us to where we are today.
Politicians who work without boundaries of decency as long as their cause is promoted have become the norm in our country. When did we allow a culture of hatred to creep into our self-glorified Asian values?

When is it okay to vandalise a bus just because it belongs to the opposition, or burn churches, or disturb a tazkirah?
It all happened very subtly when we as a people became fascinated with bigness, elegance and style not for any commercial or internal value but so that "they (the west) will respect us".

We build the tallest buildings, the first F1 in Asia, the longest, the widest, the fastest, the deepest whatever that could get us any form of world recognition at the expense of our identity, character and national coffers. I think we all know on whose watch this happened.
It is true what John Adams said: "I cannot help suspecting that the more elegance, the less virtue in all times and all countries."

We were in such a hurry to be recognised, we failed to build and invest in our human capital. We lost our sense of identity as a hardworking and productive work force. We instead sought grandeur and mega-ness.

John Adams in advice to his grandson had this to say: "Have you considered the meaning of the word ‘worthy'? Weigh it well...I had rather you should be worthy possessors of one thousand pounds honestly acquired by your own labour and industry, than of ten million by banks and tricks."
Are all that we have achieved as a nation worthy? Is it through hard work and old fashioned values?

Looking at where we are today, I suspect not. We have lost our way. Thousands of professionals and human capital are migrating and it gets worse as crime soars and the economy wanes.

We should wish for our nation on Sept 16, Malaysia Day, what John Adams advised his daughter in choosing a spouse:
"Daughter! Get you an honest man for a husband, and keep him honest. No matter whether he is rich, provided he be independent. "Regard the honour and moral character of the man more than all other circumstances. Think of no other greatness but that of the soul, no riches but that of the heart.
"An honest, sensible, humane man, above all littleness of vanity and extravagances of imagination, labouring to do good rather than to be rich, to be useful rather than make a show, living in modest simplicity clearly within his means and free from debts and obligations, is really the most respectable man in society, makes himself and all about him most happy."
Remember this as we face the next general election. Happy Malaysia Day!

Friday, August 31, 2012


What marked the last two decades of my working life were airports, hotels and business meetings in faraway places. I had spent the first five years working for multinational corporations before delving into the exciting world of business. I joined the trading business which Connie and her brother had set up. My role as Director of Business Development meant that I had to bring existing products to new countries and new products to existing countries. As a result, I had the opportunity to develop business and friendships all over Asia and Europe. I burn the air miles having to service the agents and business partners in the various countries as well as countries which I have never been to but had much potential. There was something exciting about all this and I enjoyed it to a certain extent.

Connie and I would often look at how fast our children were growing up and realize how they would soon have their own lifes. Funny how this thought never arose when they were learning to walk or when we were frantically changing diapers amidst cries from attention deficit siblings. Instead, now when they are at the door of adolescence just before they take off to college we ask what would it be like for us? Is this what they call mid-life crisis?
One thing that has remained constant in my life since I was 9 years old is my faith in Jesus Christ. As my understanding of what a relationship with Jesus meant, I grew fonder of my faith. I grew to realize that grace meant I can come to Christ in my weakest and most broken moments. It was not about how good I was but how loving He was. This constant was what drove me in most of what I did; my family life, my business, my relationships and my future. It is this faith which has taken me to the next step of my life.

Early this year, 2012, I embarked on a journey unknowing of where it will take me. I entered a seminary as a student in order to study the Bible full time. I have always wanted to study the Bible in a seminary part time but knew I could not juggle all that was on my plate. I do not know what the next 20 years of my adult life would hold (God willing that amount of time) but I know that whatever I have accumulated over the last 20 years will culminate in something significant. Whatever experience I have received and lessons learnt will prepare me for the next phase of life. Like a sojourner going off to the distant hills carrying his kungFu, clothes and staff.

Do you ever get the feeling you are at the door of something significant but don’t know what to expect? This is it - a journey of faith and excitement. I know I am exactly where I ought to be for now and I will see where this road leads me to. Whatever it may be….. I have my faith, my family and my life lessons to carry with me.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Why I joined KEADILAN

Why am I a member of KEADILAN?

I joined KEADILAN or rather became a part of the Reformasi movement in 1999 when it was not fashionable for an ethnic chinese to join especially one who runs his own business. For the benefit of those who were born in the 90’s those were years when Malaysia was under the iron fist of Dr Mahathir who knew who you were and was not hesitant to take swift and drastic action to curb any form of democratic expression. I joined because there was injustice and my Christian convictions would not allow me to sit quietly while these injustices were going on. I also joined because I caught the vision of a Malaysia which was not governed by a race based political party.
Today, I sat in on a KEADILAN Division meeting in Kelana Jaya. I sat back and observed the faces, the camaraderie, the closeness, the smile on each face. We were Malays, Chinese and Indians all sat in a room discussing the needs of the community. As I faded into my own world, I could not help but feel melancholy having worked with some of these men and women for many years. There was not one more superior than the other but we respect each one as individuals. Sure, there are disagreements, even the normal factions in politics. There are individuals who are there for selfish reasons. This is normal but when push comes to shove we unite around a single purpose and mission. I know that my dream of a better Malaysia is not far off.

I wish the general public could see this. The potential when we unite. Its not about tolerance of one another, its about trully loving the country and each other. Its about hating corruption, the things and the people who divide us.  For those of you who are in your 40’s and 50’s you know that it is possible because this was the Malaysia we grew up in as young children. There are many who wish to divide us for this is how they retain power. These forces are retreating and they are losing ground because they are build on the foundations of distrust.

What can we do? Rise up to be involved. Speak to your neighbours, family members, colleagues and friends of the possibility of a freer Malaysia. A two party system and a government which work for the people. Volunteer to be involved in the upcoming General Elections as PACA or in whatever capacity. Donate time or money to the cause. There are many out there.
We are at the doorstep of a new era for Malaysia and I think Ralph Waldo Emerson says it best in describing our God given duty as Malaysians; “To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Saturday, May 05, 2012

My Bersih 3.0 Reflection

The Unshackling of Malaysia

Bersih 3.0 is probably the biggest civil protest the country has ever seen. Reports have suggested anywhere from 150,000 to 250,000. It is hard to establish the figures but depending on which side of the fence you are sitting; I would say that it was an intimidating number of people. Definitely more than Bersih1 and Bersih 2.
Bersih 3, to me was a watershed event, much like BN’s lost of the two third majority in the 2008 General Election. Each time an event like Bersih 3 occurs the ground shakes and the fault lines open up. In 2008, the obvious changes were the new governments which took over the states of Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor. Many were elated but something unseen happened in the psyche of Malaysians which shook the social structure of Malaysia. The ground swell in 2008 loosed the shackles of fear which has gripped our father’s generation. The deep seeded fear shackled our freedom, divided our communities, silenced our elders and compromised our faith. I recall the days when we had to lower voices when speaking about the government in public or fear that our telephone conversations were being listened in. It was very subtle but the fear of “big brother” coming to take you away at anytime under the ISA was very real and kept us all in check. Then in March 2008, the opposition leader was a charismatic Malay man from within the establishment who had been persecuted, beaten and jailed for 6 years by his own Malay party. The opposition won the popular votes in that General Election and governed 5 states in Malaysia. The shackles of race sensitivity were gone and suddenly Malaysians were free. Like a spell which had been over Malaysians since 1969 were suddenly lifted. Malaysians had a new sense of freedom and the courage to speak up in the face of injustice and corruption. At the front lines of this new movement were young Malaysians, those 35 years and younger who had the benefit of an overseas education and who were born long after the dreaded May13 scar in Malaysian history. . The sense of freedom grew after March 2008 and there was no turning back.
Fast forward to Bersih 3.0 no one would have imagined that our Chinese elders, our fathers, those in their 50’s and 60’s, would go out to join a street protest as the one seen last weekend. Bersih 1 was predominantly and significantly Malay. Bersih 2 saw more young Chinese and Indian professionals. So gradually, there is a progressive movement of new found sense of justice and courage in the hearts of all Malaysians. This has proven to be a headache for the ruling coalition, who is out of its league and totally clueless on how to handle and appease the new Malaysia.

So it was very encouraging to see Malaysians of all races and faces of all ages standing in unity, braving police violence and demanding for free and fair elections. It is no longer a communal issue but an issue of justice and fair play. Malaysians are tired of our leaders telling us what is good for us while millions are being siphoned off through kickbacks, mismanagement and corruption. Malaysians are no longer blind, neither are they fearful. Last week’s Bersih shows that Malaysia is on her way to a mature civil society and one which allows greater democratic space. It appears, change is inevitable and if the government of the day has lost the plot and is clueless as to what is happening, they will be swept away in the next General Elections.