Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Happy Christmas, Happy New Year

What the fuss about Christmas? "Is near New Year so it added more "merry" to it."
So what the fuss about birthday? "Mine? Is near Christmas! Ho! Ho.. ho..."

I have never (recalling correctly) applied leave for my birthday. (Ex-bosses, please remind me if I did). My birthday is so near Christmas and just a day after my birthday (23rd December la...) it will be Christmas so I have a holiday near that date, so why bother taking leave? I seldom even take extra holidays for Chinese New Year - a big day for Chinese (Malaysians) in Malaysia.

As hardworking or workaholic it may sound, I do take leave for charity works which is my passion. And also spiritual. I remember working in XeerSoft (current company) and have been taking long leaves - 7-day leave for meditation retreat, 2.5-month leave for liver donation surgery. XeerSoft has been kind enough to allow leaves for these matters, which many other bosses do not see the need/ importance.

Come 31st December 2009, I am taking leave again - this time for 6 months! Yes, I have resigned from work and want to get into doing what I like - emceeing, writing, speaking (for organ donation, IT/tech seminars and even conferences), training (as certified Napoleon Hill trainer soon).

My birthday - because is towards the end of the year, is always time for me to reflect back the whole year and plan for the next. But I have planned in November 2009 for year 2010 (very early start) so on birthday was relaxed. This year, I celebrated with a movie in the morning. I appreciate the movie opportunity after a whole year only watching that stupid Storm Warriors. This time I watched Avatar - such a good great one, breathtaking scenes, so real the emotions you hardly realised it was animation. At the end of the movie, I even asked Anas (went movie with him la...) "what was that huh? Human? Or what?" Anas said - "huh? I thought animation?"

Then it was dinner with Dad. Is a once-a-year day - that was the day I hear Happy Birthday song from Dad - never fail every morning. Somehow this year, Anas sang to me first! Dad's song came later via a phone call. Is a once-a-year day where I get to feast and it is a once-in-a-lifetime "dream" to have both my parents together with me. This year Mom was at Sibu. Else, will get her to sit together for dinner. Well, they divorced since I was 4 or 5 years old and never see eye to eye till after my liver donation. (more here: I must make sure this (dinner together) happen on my next birthday. Oh, this year we had abalone and crabs for dinner - Dad is becoming more prosperous, thank God!

THANK YOU Anas and Dad for the wonderful birthday.

Christmas - I want a gift - to fulfill all resolutions 2009 by 31/12/2009 and start 2010 afresh. I want a gift to all my family members - health, wealth, and happiness. I want all my friends to be happy, stay healthy and work hard for wealth. I want all people in the world be well and create a world where we all live in harmony.

Happy New Year - the year 2010 will be the year of hope, joy, fun, prosperity and harmony. Yes, it will be.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Joy - Napoleon Hill books as gifts!

Click for clearer picture (pops up a new window)

Click for clearer picture (pops up a new window)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reflections: Money, Money, Money

As I have promised to post reflections - also to pour out my mind and forget them - and move on with a new life. Now, is towards the end of the year and is time to throw everything out and start a new 2010.

It was one sunny day when I was in my Dad's car at the front passenger seat. As I put on the seat belt, I jumped with excitement and asked Dad to quickly ignite the car and go for a ride. My Dad drew a smile and obliged. "Next time I want a Mercedes, ya.." My Dad will smile again, "Ya, ya... when I strike lottery I will buy one." I was only 3 or 4 years old.

First lesson of money: You can be rich by striking lottery.

Not knowing the family financial situation and being always pampered as the only child in the family, I have always asked for many things in life - toys and books, then the things I wanted got bigger bicycle, motorcycle and then camera, PDA... and now, a big bungalow, a Mercedes C200K, a large collection of Chinese tea, a horse, a yacht, luxury holidays.

Auntie Lena, who brought me up since my parents divorced, was a really good saver. She knew of my Dad's financial situation to try make ends meet and therefore always asked me to save and never try to buy anything extra than needed. Clothes were handed down from my elder cousins so I do not need new clothes.

I remembered throwing tantrum one day before Chinese New Year. I scolded my Dad for always asking if I have studied hard but never asked if I have clothes or things I wanted. Sorry, Dad. I didn't know the situation. My Dad kept quiet as I scolded and cried telling about my feelings. I bet it hurt him, too.

He has been working very very hard as a musician and when karaoke stormed the market, being a band boy was no more the "in" thing. He also study part time to eventually graduate as a Chinese Physician from Guangzhou University, China. Juggling unpredicted job as a musician with no fixed salary, more part time jobs here and there and even studying - I realized now it must be tough for him. Yet, he still fed me through Auntie Lena. It must have difficult for him to take it - a child longing for his love and some material things scolding him in front of whole family when not understanding his financial situation.

Auntie Lena and all other aunties will each buy one set of new clothes for me when Chinese New Year arrives. So, for years I have new sets of clothes to wear, all from my aunts.

Second lesson: Throw tantrum or cry when you need what you want

Auntie Lena's husband, Uncle Phillip was a very quiet man with few words. He worked as a clerk in a school and now retired with pension. He has taught me the first ABC and I still remember how he drew a table with vowels on top row, neatly arranging a, e, i, o and u on each column and all consonants at the first column on the left. He will then write the combination of the vowels and consonants.... as A column meets B row - it is BA and he will teach me how to pronounce that BAaaa - baa baaa black sheep have you any wool~~. From there I learn my first Malay pronunciation. I grew to like Malay more than English in school.

As the income for a clerk was not high, Auntie Lena worked at a restaurant in the morning to make ends meet. She has a son, Colin and she became guardians for my another cousin, Kok Wai and I. So I grew up with two brothers - forgive my manners and graces if they are rated zero.

At times, I suspect that the money is not enough - Auntie Lena will always lament to say that her legs are pain due to constantly standing in the restaurant and how she has exhausted herself just to make more money for the family. Sometimes the family will also have heated arguments about money but as I was young and could not understand, I seldom participate.

I planted a seed in my mind at that time - I want to make a lot of money.

Lesson 3: No money = argumentsWhen I am older, Auntie Lena slowly taught me to manage my money. She will give me daily allowance so I can buy food in school. Then slowly, weekly allowance and then monthly allowance. Most of the time, I will finish spending the money by mid of the month. I am in the spender quadrant.

"Save your money," Auntie Lena always shouted. "Jimatlah wang untuk masa depan," at school we learn. Yet, my nature - a spender - heard no words such as save or jimat.

Then, in school, my friends and I will talk among ourselves. We were convinced that if you open up your palm, hold your fingers together and bend outwards and if the gap in between your index and middle fingers is big, then you are unlikely to preserve money because money flows through that hole. That very gap in my palm is a big one. Confirmed spender!

Lesson 4: Understanding myself - spender (or now, we always call ourselves the freaking spenders!)

Auntie Lena's words were strong on me....

When you are a committee member in any organizations, NEVER hold the position of a treasurer. If money is lost - how are you going to make up for it?

At school, I have a few rich schoolmates. They have drivers to fetch them to school and I was very close to two - always with them and at times take free rides in their luxury cars.

Auntie Lena will warn, "Don't be so close with them... if one day they have missing money, they will blame you."

Lesson 5: DO NOT associate with money and rich people

All the time we will have the age-old advice - Study hard, get good grades and then get a good job so you make more money. Uncle Phillip has nieces and nephews who are engineers, lawyers and doctor, Chew family has none. Auntie Lena will cry to say we will not be successful.

Lesson 6: Higher position - more money, more success

It was in college that I encountered the book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" and it took me almost 5 years to change my mindset about money. The more Robert Kiyosaki's books I read, the more I confirm that the lessons I have learnt about money so far are all not true.

I have read, attended classes, read more books and all theory was set in me. I took the first bold step to act instead of just passively learn about money. In 2004, I started investing in shares and learn about shares investment. Then I sold all my shares to buy my first property.

As I bought the property and announced it at family dinner - true enough negative comments poured in. It was already anticipated as Robert Kiyosaki mentioned that free advice is the most dangerous advice.

I still remember very clearly my 4th uncle said that so many people had bad experience with tenants, tenants will spoil the house and you will never get the rental on time. I refuted to say I will still buy this house and confident that what I have learnt will help me manage better.

I have read Azizi Ali's books, attended his classes and get to know about being Millionaire Landlord (one of his book titles). My 4th uncle still claim victory by saying, "GO ahead and try... you will see! You will definitely fail..."

Since I bought the first property in 2006, I only had ONE tenant who is now entering the third year of our rental agreement. Sirilah Raman, an Indian lady cleans the house and takes care of it really very well. She will bank in rental before 28th of every month because RM50 discount is given if you pay rental before 1st of every month - all except one month she was late because she was hospitalized.

Sometimes when I pay maintenance fees for the apartment, I will also pay her water bill. She will also pay my Indah Water bills which I was supposed to pay. We are friends on facebook and we can beer together at times.

My second property, though the tenant did not normally pay on time but he did not owe rental more than 2 months. I will gain extra RM50 per month for his late payments anyway.

First IMPORTANT lesson: DO NOT listen to someone who have not tried doing the things you want to do

As I wanted to buy my third property, my Dad will caution that I am going to fast in investing properties. Too fast? I only have 2 apartments in 3 years! Too fast?

Naturally, I think you will know what I do - ignore mode: ON. I took me some time to think that it is alright to sometimes not listen to elders. You know our culture, we always listen to the elders - what they say is always right. But not in the case of money.

My mom on the other hand, is a risk taker. She is a businesswoman so she will be attempting and trying businesses. My step sister grew up with her and mom already start "grooming" her business skills by encouraging her join a multi-level marketing business at age of 18. My mom then allow her to fully manage the reflexology center that she owns. My third apartment, my mom puts under my sister's name - further teaching her property investment. I really want to see my sister learn the path of street smart, risk taking ways and be smart with money. She must really appreciate what my mom is doing.

Second IMPORTANT lesson: It is OK and ALRIGHT to take risks at times. Only two things can happen when you take risks - you success or you learn.

I figured that in all investments, knowledge is utmost important. I have chosen my vehicle to build my finances - property so I have learnt all the ABC about buying in auctions, renting out and manage as a landlord, refinancing to get money out for more investments.... (not that I am boasting about learning all - I said I learnt all the ABC but not the XYZ yet). There are more to learn.

I attended Millionaire Mind Intensive(MMI) for 2 consecutive years and T. Harv Eker has taught me the most important lessons about money. It really has uprooted all my negativities about money and look at money in a larger scale.

If I have not developed the love of education and learning, I will not be where I am today. I still remember attending free previews and looking at RM5xxx to RM20xxx price tags for courses but I learnt many things from free previews alone. I attended many free previews even as a student in college.

Subsequently, I attended RMxxx courses and this year I attended RMx,xxx courses till I spent more than half my annual salary for courses alone.

Lesson 3: Learning is Important - CHOOSE the course you want to learn and have specialized knowledge in that topic before investing( would also add that - shun those courses which may not climb you the ladder of your goal - FOCUS on the subject you want - I figured that I spent too much money and in the end did not focus so this year my focus was on marketing and internet marketing )

Surprisingly, this year I fell into the trap of credit cards. I have cut all cards except one. I have over swiped on my card with RM7,000 in red but just adjusted to RM5,000, had another RM7,800 in education debts (took the Napoleon Hill certified trainer course) and finishing my car loan - another RM1,200 but sent my car to repair - a huge sum of RM5,000.
My target is to have zero bad debts by the end of 2009. Yet, bad debts is what I got. So the Law of Attraction says - you will attract everything you think of whether you want it or not. You bet what I will write in my resolution for year 2010. :)

I still have cash in my financial freedom account which I planned to only spend for investments. However, I guess this year I should finish 2009 with a clean sheet. I do not need to worry about money. Money will come and I will completely erase all bad debts by 23rd December 2009, I am very sure of that.

I will start 2010 with a new fresh year with positive financial statement.

Lesson 4: DISCIPLINE is utmost important in keeping the finance in strong state. CONSISTENCY is the brother, PERSISTENCY is the sister... :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Reflections: Why I Serve Others?

I think I did deep reflections on why I serve others more than taking care of myself. I always wonder why people say that "If you do not know how to love yourself, you will not be able to love others." For me, I thought serving others means loving them. I love others therefore I serve. Yet, I knew that I did not love myself enough - I had no time for myself, no health, no money (or little money), no life. But I still can serve and I thought that I loved people much therefore I serve much. I thought that - if you cant do A, then you won't be able to do B - so if I can do B, then A will handle itself!

It was only this year that I discovered that I have not really loved myself enough for the past 29 years. Serving others seem to be an alternative for me to express love, fear, gain freedom and even recognition. Dr. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich mentioned that there are 10 basic motives of human.
  1. desire for self-preservation
  2. emotion of love
  3. emotion of fear
  4. emotion of sex
  5. desire for life after death
  6. desire for freedom of body and mind
  7. desire for revenge
  8. emotion of hate
  9. desire for self-expression and recognition
  10. desire for material gain
All in all, 9th basic motive - desire for self-expression and recognition has made much sense in my life.
The main reason why I serve others was because I came from a broken family - I figured. Having a pair of divorced parents and a strict disciplinarian aunt as my guardian. I figured that I have to seek externally for love. Having good friends and teachers around me was great and their opinions were seek first before I do anything. At home, no one I can talk to regarding my personal problems. My family wanted me to focus on my studies so if I can talk about studies, then it is a conversation. Other than that, I seek opinions from friends and teachers.
  • This explains my extrovert nature because I seek externally rather than internally.
  • This explains my very unique behaviours, talkative nature and always naughty - I wanted to express and those are ways to do it and I wanted the recognition. 9th basic motive.
  • This explains why I always love to be outside rather than at home - but this year I have stayed home more than any years before this. I redecorated my living room and bedroom with the main purpose to stay home more.
  • This also explain why I needed words of reaffirmations most of the time and easily influenced by others. I also needed approvals by others. I can tell myself I can do it hundreds of times before I believe I really can do it but it takes only 2-3 people to say that I can do it and I start believing it's true.
  • This explains my nature to argue and finds arguments an art - again 9th basic motive - I want to express, recognized and feel cool to win an argument. At times it was just because I wanted to win. I believe this year I have toned down a lot.
The second reason why I serve, I figured was because of my aunt. So much so my aunt will be disciplinarian and not many conversations to talk about, her words were the most powerful coupled with emotions. I saw her one day in her room. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She lamented "Our Chew family will never be successful! Look at uncle's (her husband) family - engineers, lawyers, doctors - Chew family has none." My cousins were not very successful but lead a good life enough.

Her words coupled with strong emotions at that time has planted a seed in my mind. "I want to see cry again but this time it will be because we are successful," I told myself.
  • This explains why I tried to gain positions in many many organizations - and I really proved myself worthy of those positions, not just holding on to them. Positions which I think I could not contribute - I resign very soon.
  • This explains why I love recognitions - 2006 Selangor Youth Award, 2008 Great Women of Our Time Award - both these awards, when brought to my aunt, she cried with joy in her eyes. I DID IT!
  • This explains why I want to do things in proper ways - I figured successful people always do things the "right" way - which also explains my kiasi (afraid to die) and kiasu (afraid to lose). I can't fail - I must be successful to prove it to my aunt.
  • This explains why I seek knowledge - successful people are always very knowledgeable. My highly inquisitive mind makes me learn and learn and learn and never tired of it. This year I have spent close to RM10,000 just to attend courses.
  • This explains why I always seek perfections - which has put a lot of pressure and stress to myself till I learnt to relax and understand is OK to be imperfect. We are human anyway.
  • This also explains why I serve people - it is because successful people will serve people. In fact, again and again people say "Once I am successful, I will serve others." "Now is not the time yet, I must be successful before serving." "I want to make money first then only join all these NGOs" - so if I can serve, it could be a sense of achievement as if I am already successful.
All combined, it explained why I even risked my life to save a dying 13-year old girl.
  • I wanted to save a life even if a person not a family member (seeking love externally) because I really love a human kind, not just because he or she is a family member. I thought that if I can love others enough, I will gain love myself
  • I deeply feel for the little girl and wanted to give her a lease of life
  • Self-expression -I wanted to express my opinions about organ donation and spread the words so more people will pledge organs, and walking the talk is surely a way to do it
  • I have never expected the news became a hit with multiple newspaper report, magazines interviews and various media - these "recognitions" has encouraged me to further push organ donation awareness campaigns.
It is because this year I have stopped joining more NGOs and resigned from many, I can have the time for myself to reflect on the many WHYs in my life.

So let me rectify things and slowly turn into, hopefully, a better person. I appreciate that I am still breathing for me to rectify my life, that I have met my editor Mahani Zubedy for digging me out, appreciate a lot for being able to do what I want to do - writing a book and having the strengths to continue on things I am doing.

No words can be enough to explain thoroughly why I serve but sufficient to have 2 main reasons.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My November Calendar Looks Like This

My November calendar looks like this. I have updated my live calendar at my website, click Hoong Ling's calendar. It is easier for my friends to make arrangements for gatherings, dinners or any get-togethers. Yes, my website has now spotted a new look! Do have a visit.

Apart from DAILY morning and night activities I have set to discipline myself, I have weekend activities, mostly classes; flying to Jakarta for a wedding dinner and a half-marathon at Penang bridge to go. DAILY activities including morning exercise, study and learning, meditation, concentration exercises, book writing (yes, still writing), daily appreciation and financial records. WEEKLY activities I have set aside time for friends and family members, too but November month will miss those as my schedule is full! Luckily I have made up the "loss" of opportunities with family by cooking for them for few weeks now.

Agreeing to the half marathon on 22nd November 2009 was the deadliest - return tickets to Penang booked, marathon registered, hotel booked. All these, forgetting 21st November is the reunion dinner on board Fuji Maru for alumni of South East Asian Youths Program (SSEAYP) - gotta miss it! Alas, 23rd-26th November will be having youth camp under the Napoleon Hill Associates, too.

Interesting November and I am looking forward for it.

I demand of myself consistency and discipline to follow whatever that has been planned. I will do it and I MUST DO IT.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Duit Raya - a sorrow but meaningful Raya

In memory of An Qi (the recipient of my liver)

This year Hari Raya Aidilfitri was meaningful although it was welcomed with sorrow.

Memories I had during childhood was really fun during Hari Raya. I will go to many Malay houses to visit them during Hari Raya. My immediate neighbours are Malays so I grew up with Malay children because they are the ones around my age. Suhaiza was a year younger than me – she was the eldest in the Zamri family. Suhaiza has a sister, Nurul and two brothers, Azhar and Arif.

I learnt from them how they recite the al-Quran when I see Encik Zamri sitting beside Arif with a short stick pointing to the holy Quran while Arif will recite them as instructed. It was from there that I wanted to understand my fellow neighbours and to be exact, best friends, better.

I had Malay classmates who stayed within the housing area where I stay in Taman Cicely, Teluk Intan, too. They were Hanim from the Ghazalli family and errm… well I forgot their names (it proves that I am old!). I still keep in touch with Hanim. Her house number was 403 – big numbering at the front wall of her house. Hanim’s father was a teacher and we were really close together at childhood. We were separated when she was off to the Religious School during Form 4 (4th year of high school) or Form 5.

One day, I went back to Teluk Intan, my aunt, Lena, related that a girl came looking for me. She was looking for me, hoping that Auntie Lena could at least provide my handphone number. Auntie Lena couldn’t search in time so she left a note. I read the note “Hanim” and her phone number written on the note, I almost felt like jumping with joy. I just had a thought about her a week ago!

During Hari Raya, my friends and I will gather together in a spot. I will first visit Hanim and children got together. We visited almost every house in the area with an open gate. I was told that if the gate is opened, guests are welcomed to enter. At that time, I was the only Chinese lady in the crowd. All other children wore baju kurung and beautiful clothes while I clad in my T-shirt and a pair of shorts. I am really used to being the only Chinese girl in many occasions by now so much so that I gave in to admit I am bangsa Malaysia more than a Chinese. I was the only Chinese lady in Persatuan Pemuda Negara, the only Chinese lady in occasions where we did street demonstrations during 911, the only Chinese lady in Biro Tatanegara camps and in many occasion, the only Chinese lady in meetings and conferences.

Being children and following the crowd, I came to understand the reason for the house-to-house visit – for duit raya (small packets with money)! We will walk in a house with open gate, shout a loud “Selamat Hari Raya” and “Assamualaikum” to the reply of “Mualaikumsalam..” Then we dashed in the house, sat down and greeted the host by shaking hands (with both palms) and kissing their hands and then placed it to our foreheads lightly.

As I followed the crowd, I also sat with them, eating the available biscuits and we always have cold drinks – orange juice and syrup will be the main drinks in most houses. The feel of refresh orange and ice cooling down the throat was great since we had to walk far and long to scout for houses with open gates! The group of children will leave only after receiving their duit raya.

By the time we reach almost the third house, I start feeling bloated with biscuits and drinks, especially after sumptuous meal at the first house – Hanim’s house – with ketupat, lemang, rendang and curry. So, subsequent houses that we visit were only to sit, sip a drink and collect duit raya!

After a long day, visited almost more than 10 houses, we got back home in the evening. I still remember the joy and happiness of opening each packet. Pops drop a 20sen as I turned the packet around. Sometimes the packets will drop put 50sen or even RM1. I will count the shillings – at times about RM2 and some years I could collect about RM5, depending on how many houses we visited.

The days were fun. It was only until when I was in Form 1 that I came to realize that the meaning of house visits during Hari Raya was not for duit raya after all. Hari Raya is the day where the Muslims celebrate the “victory” of having fast a whole month. In fact, fasting for about 10 years ago made Hari Raya more meaningful to me, too, although I’m not a Muslim. Muslims will also ask forgiveness from their parents and among siblings for whatever wrongdoings that they have done.

Likewise, visiting each other during Hari Raya was also meant to seek forgiveness from the hosts, further fostering better relationships and to catch up on each others’ well-being. I forgot which year I stopped following my friends to collect duit raya during Hari Raya.

As soon as I left home and could cook myself, I started fasting during Ramadhan. At home, when I wanted to fast, no one would cook so early and no food was available at dawn. Yet, I still wanted to have trial period on fasting so I would take breakfast just like I did before going to school and then fast in school till Maghrib. I find Hari Raya becomes meaningful for me this way. This year, after 6 years couldn’t fast due to stomach ulcer, I successfully fast during Ramadhan for about 20 days. I was all ready to celebrate and even arranged an excursion to visit all Malay colleagues – Negeri Sembilan, Muar, Teluk Intan and Kuala Lumpur. I also wanted to pay a visit to my new friends – Anas and Mahani in Penang.

The first day of Syawal – the first day of Hari Raya, I sent my Vietnamese friends to airport. Nine friends came for a short visit and I took them to Melaka the day before. The night before was really disturbing. I got a call from Alicia – An Qi (the recipient of my liver)’s aunt. She was crying and saying that she called just to inform me An Qi was in the ICU. The whole night, I could sensed that An Qi may not make it. I sms-ed many friends to pray for her and even placed a facebook status so those who read could pray for her. I had strong feelings that she could not make it. The voice over the other end of the phone does not sound “just informing” me. It sounds like “come see her for the last time”.

Remembering my duit raya during Hari Raya when I was a child, I even posted “My best Aidilfitri angpau this year will be to see An Qi, recipient of my liver, be healthy, happy and blessed with long life. She's in ICU due to infection now, please pray for her.”

I was driving to airport. It was 11.56am on first day of Hari Raya. I thought to visit An Qi after the airport trip so I called her aunt again. I asked how was An Qi and the reply, “An Qi passed away at midnight.”

I was almost speechless. Apparently, she had cancer in the bone, diagnosed somewhere in June (only 5 months after receiving my liver). Subsequent chemotherapy has added toll to her immune system. Everything went on really fine and the chemo was successful. She had lungs infection and in only less than 48 hours, she passed away. When Alicia called the night before, An Qi has already stopped breathing and was put on a respirator.

The day was supposed to be spent with visits to Negeri Sembilan and Muar, cancelled but not too much because of the news but it was because the traffic jam was massive as I drove back from airport. As I saw the car from opposite direction building up to almost a stretch of 3km, my mind thought of An Qi and tears just rolled freely. I can feel my face became wet and I really wanted someone to comfort.

Today, my colleague, Allen and I went to Anas’ house in Penang – continuing the tradition of house visits. Kak Mahani was there and she gave comforting hugs and kisses that I felt so warm. We then went to Teluk Intan to visit another colleague, Hamizan and then back to Kuala Lumpur.

Tomorrow will be An Qi’s funeral and I will attend. Although I did not receive my “duit raya” or the Aidilfitri angpau I wanted this year, Hari Raya was not meant for duit raya anyway. Like Anas said, “You have given her 8 months of life, and a lifetime of hope.”

Although I welcomed this year’s Hari Raya with sorrow, I really appreciate all the comments on facebook, prayers for An Qi, all the comforting sms-es and the fact of knowing I really gave An Qi 8 months of life but not only a lifetime of hope for her. As Allen puts it, I have given hope to almost everyone around me – all of whom know about my liver donation!

I will welcome the next Hari Rayas with joy and meaningful days - not duit raya anymore.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tantrum, the adult way; Love me, the soft approach

Many of my friends would regard me as courageous and brave. Someone who would speak my mind and easy to talk to. A person who could cheer a party and lead the entertainment. A lady with such communication skills who would be in a relationship very soon and very quickly understands her partner. An individual who has a heart of gold, serves the community and put others above self.

But not many people could even believe this – I love to be pampered and sometimes even act like a spoiled child, could at times throw a tantrum in different ways.

I do not think that such behavior is wrong. In fact, it just shows that I am human anyway. Friends, relatives and even closest of buddies will see me as a heroin, view me as brave, courageous, always speak my mind out and will never believe this.

Only my father knows. He should. I am his only child so being pampered is just normal. And since I am his only child, being spoiled is also very normal. Throwing tantrum is my way to get things I want so I grew up with it.

I still remember once when I was not given the thing I wanted. I was only 4 years old, staying in my grandmother’s house. My parents were divorced and I stayed with my grandmother at that time. Being spoilt for 4 years and having to change environment so suddenly made me felt very uneasy. The little child in me could not stand the constant disciplining by my grandmother.

So, there was once when thing I wanted was not given, I went into my room, locked myself up and the worst nightmare began. I overturned almost everything in the room – from the mattresses, pillows, blanket and bolsters to the decorations on the table. Almost everything was in hay wire.

Outside, my grandmother and my aunts who were staying together in the same house kept on knocking the door, pleading that I opened it. I would cry non-stop, tears rolled non-stop and I will shout and shout and shout, while my hands, too, non-stop throwing everything I could see.

Suddenly, the door opened! Sensing that I will get to taste the cane flying to my skin, I equipped myself with whatever I could get. I threw at my “enemies”, almost everyone who enters the room got something flying to their forehead and face. What was the thing I wanted that I did this for? I forgot!

The adults had to stop me by holding my hands and legs. However, the more they did, the more I resisted. Another aunt came and when she walked to me, I can sense her love, she seem to be coming from somewhere without the “enemy” look. She opened her arms and pulled me to her body, hugging and cuddling me so tightly that no other adults could interfere our moments. I felt love. That was what I always wanted and my tears subsided.

I reflected this and came to now understand that I am a person who could be convinced, influenced and made to do things if I am treated with love and soft approach. It is true. One of my friends really discovered this very early and he uses very soft approach to get help to do things. And it was surprising how the results go.

Was it because I was brought up with lots of disciplining that I now tend to rely on soft approach? Was it because I lost parental love since young that I now look at love in this perspective? Was it because of my brought up that I desire much more attention when I am now an adult or was it natural to have a desire for recognition?

As an adult now, I am sometimes very childish in throwing tantrum in many different ways. No, I can’t throw things around my house anymore nor can I overturn the beds. Too messy and it will be hassle to clean up. I sometimes sulk, be quiet for long or at times even shout. Well, the “monkey” side (yes, I am born in the year of monkey) of me at times will need to be let wild. So I will complain, refuse to join certain events or ignore someone totally.

So, do not see someone so courageous or regarded as brave will not at times throw in a surprise.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Talk to Hoong Ling series: Part 1

Talk to Hoong Ling series: Part 1
Let's hear from Hoong Ling personally, her story, aspiration and her wishes! Let's help her make it!
I am just walking the talk
I have been promoting organ donation and spread awareness in this topic since school days. As I signed the organ pledge form at age 13, it came across my mind to do it (donate organs) even when I am alive. Look, I have been talking for years now so I am just walking the talk! For me, I have touched only one life by saving one person's life but for many people, they think I have touched more lives by having an inspiring story to tell.

read more.... here

I joked why didn't Mercedes give me a real Mercedes car so I can be its permanent marketer - it's tatooed on my abdomen! I did expect a C-class scar but as nurses opened the wounds, alas, I found a S-class! WOW!

I wish to talk to you and your friends so everyone could pledge their organs. I am willing to go around to speak on my story if it inspires people to pledge their organs. I hope to just quit my job and go around for one full year speaking to as many groups as possible to encourage more people to pledge their organs.

Look, we can't just see people die everyday because of our selfishness and ego. Can these attitudes be brought to the coffin? Come on, pledging means you donate organs after death. What else are there left on earth, your selfishness and ego?

I am not Buddha. I still want to be a multi millionaire and my goal is RM16 million cash, I want a big house and of course a Mercedes, too (why not?).

Yet, contrary to many beliefs that you can only do good or contribute to community when you are truly rich, I do it now while I have yet to reach riches in material wealth. But I am rich - I have a rich life, a rich story to tell and a heart filled with gold.

Continue reading here

Monday, September 14, 2009

Save Yvonne's Sight

Anas tagged me for the Save Yvonne's Sight’ Meme. I have met Yvonne 2 weeks ago at the Live and Inspire weekly help at Starbucks Bangsar where Mike Reyes spoke. Mike spoke on HOPE and ended with the hope of bringing hope to Yvonne. Let's all bring HOPE to Yvonne, too.

I'd love to see Yvonne regain her sight. I'd love to have her regain total hearing because I was born with only one functional ear so I know how it feels like without 'perfect' hearing. I'd love to see Yvonne play and enjoy the fun in life instead of having to work hard just to raise money for her plight most of the time.

Since last April Yvonne has been raising funds for the operations she needs to treat her neurofibromatosis which causes tumors to grow inside her body.

About six months ago, Yvonne lost her hearing. Now she's losing her eyesight and needs another operation. The operation is due in December and cost of the surgery is RM154,770 plus hospital stay for two weeks is RM3219.

She has already raised RM10, 000 and need more. She's hoping to raise the rest by republishing her book I'm Not Sick, Just A Little Bit Unwell in English and Chinese. The books are now available in Malaysian bookshops and from her website store. She is also selling T-shirts at bazaars and via her web site store.

You can read about her surgery and donate to her fund here.
You can also help by sending on this meme. If you do, please follow these meme rules:

  1. Create a blog entry titled "Meme: Save Yvonne's Sight"
  2. List three things you love to see. Add in the picture of Yvonne's book cover. The URL is
  3. End with the line, "Yvonne Foong is in danger of losing her eyesight thanks to neurofibromatosis (NF). Please find out how you can help her by visiting her blog at
  4. Tag 5 blog friends. Be sure to copy the rules, OK?

And if you want to blog about NF, that would be great too!I'm tagging the following blogger friends to ask them to help out:
1. Ongki (Elaine Ong)
2. Shiao Chin
3. Chiew Lian Keng
4. William
5. Yulduz
6. James Oh

Yvonne Foong is in danger of losing her eyesight thanks to neurofibromatosis (NF). Please find out how you can help her by visiting her blog at

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Joy of Giving

I first wrote on the jamban wound to reflect how kiasi (afraid to die) I am since young. I never actually realized it until my mom reminded me. That was during Chinese New Year this year. I was done with parting 60% of my liver to save a child's life to my mom's wondering what has made me out of mind to do it since she knew I was all the while very kiasi.

Until today, I could not explain why I did it. In fact, when my editor (I am writing a book on my journey in the recent liver donation) asked why I did it - I could not answer. The thought at that time was not the WHY I did it... it was supposed to be the other way round - WHY NOT? It is a life that is concerned and WHY NOT? Yes, I may die but the risks was only 1.0% - 1.5%, so WHY NOT? Organ donation is a cause close to my heart and being still alive, I have a chance to perform yet another service to mankind, so WHY NOT?

I recently held on to the book "The Meaning of The Holy Quran" by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, since my friend launched the Let's Read the Quran II campaign. And many also asked of my recent behaviour with escalated interests to Islam of which I also answered the same, WHY NOT?

I am very much impressed with the Quran emphasis on practising regular charity. In Surah Al-Baqarah alone, in several parts of the Surah, it mentions and repeatedly mentions:

And be steadfast in prayer; practise regular charity; and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship). (2 - 043)

.... Worship none but Allah; treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people; be steadfast in prayer; and practise regular charity..... (2 - 083)

And be steadfast in prayer and regular in charity: And whatever good ye send forth for your souls before you, ye shall find it with Allah: for Allah sees Well all that ye do. (2 - 110)

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah-fearing. (2 - 177)

They ask thee what they should spend (In charity). Say: Whatever ye spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good, -Allah knoweth it well. (2 - 215)

And whatever ye spend in charity or devotion, be sure Allah knows it all. But the wrong-doers have no helpers. (2 - 270)

If ye disclose (acts of) charity, even so it is well, but if ye conceal them, and make them reach those (really) in need, that is best for you: It will remove from you some of your (stains of) evil. And Allah is well acquainted with what ye do. (2 - 271)

Those who (in charity) spend of their goods by night and by day, in secret and in public, have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (2 - 274)

Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He loveth not creatures ungrateful and wicked. (2 - 276)

Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (2 - 277)

If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time Till it is easy for him to repay. But if ye remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if ye only knew. (2 - 280)
I wrote about the joy of giving and how indescribable it is. When someone asked me how does it feel like after saving a life, I merely answer, "Why not trying it yourself?"

The jamban "wound"

I still remember when I was very small. My parents divorced and I was brought to my hometown, Teluk Intan, purportedly for a "holiday". That holiday lasted about 15 years.

When I was small, I was the naughtiest girl in the village, Pasir Berdamar (a place where you mention it, everyone in Teluk Intan knew how naughty the children were brought up) and growing up with cousin brothers can't help much, too. When bitten on the right palm by a neighbour's dog due to my mischievous, my paternal grandmother quickly summoned that I will be treated with an injection. Fearing injection, being so kiasi (afraid to die), I cried so loud and refuse to go to the clinic until my aunt was asked to follow along. Along with a human being, there also came the accompaniment of a thin, long stick, something call "cane"! Somehow, the sight of a cane was enough to shut my mouth and I readily allowed the doctor to treat and injected on me the necessary treatments. The kiasi me. The small scar still remains till today.

I still remember that a few years before staying in Teluk Intan, I was all about with my aunts, my maternal grandmother and everywhere in Sungai Petani, sometimes Kuala Lumpur and Teluk Intan. Partly due to both parents working and could not take care of me much, I had to follow whoever who could help.

Remembering the times in Sungai Petani where the village shared a common toilet right in the middle of the kampung. Those which you call the jamban, wooden-made cubic, where you go right in, lock yourself and all you can see is a large hole in between your legs. If you look closely, there is nothing more than a bucket at the bottom of the hole. I thought someone will collect the bucket each time it was full.

Since I was so young, I think I was only 3 years old, my aunt reminded me that I should not lock myself. "Just go in and shit/urine." But being so afraid of exposing myself, again the kiasi, I locked myself one day. And lol and behold, my leg just step right into the hole due to darkness and immediately, I slipped and fell into the jamban hole! Shouting "HELP!" was all I can do. The whole village came to rescue by forcefully opening the jamban door.

I was carried to my home and looking at the "wound", although not even bleeding, I cried so loud. The ankle was with a small little piece of skin tangling. My aunt wanted to peel it off which I shouted and cried louder. Even with much reassurance that there will be no pain, I still hesitated. The kiasi me... Auntie has to convince me by saying if the skin was to accidentally peeled off, then could be much more in pain. Insisting that it should be removed but the kiasi me still could not believe her.

She then covered that piece of skin with a piece of tissue paper and I cried, too. Auntie said, "I am just covering it... don't worry!" and as she removed the tissue paper from my ankle, the piece of skin was GONE!!! Although I did not feel anything at all, but the dismiss of the piece of skin made me cried even louder... kiasi. My grandma always use the trick - tucking a spoon to the "Milo" tin and then tucked it right to my mouth to pacify me. Somehow, Milo powder was my favourite since young and that was the best thing to stop me from crying. And grandma knows best!

And did I went in the jamban to do big or small business? I have forgotten...

This morning, I went to Teluk Intan McDonald's to sahur. When I stepped across the step, I accidentally stepped into a hole, making the same injury I had at the jamban - a small piece of skin at the very same ankle! So, I covered it with a tissue paper and removed it. No, there was no pain at all, although the whole day I felt some tingling pain on that jamban "wound".

Today, I have a much much larger wound on my abdomen which I will never forget. A wound that will remind me of the dying and how I have saved someone's life. Being such a kiasi and still dared myself to cut a 14-inch "mercedes" logo on my abdomen. Just how things can change when we grow up.

This made me cry and cry and cry....

The last time I cried was when An Qi's (recipient of part of my liver) parents said thank you. It was so touching and I could not hold the tears. Not that I can hold tears very well anyway and crying is always easy for me - tears can be free-flow, non-stop and generously pouring! Well, don't see me as such a strong lady but I really can cry easily! One thing many people do not know - I can be very pampered (manja), too (hehe).

Please read this (click the link). It is well worth the tears and swollen eyes.

I am super blessed to have known this guy. Yes, it has been non-stop describing him, talking about him, referring to him in my recent blogs but I just can't count how much respect and admiration I have for him.

I will write my reflections on "money issues" later in my blog. A recent conversation with my friends also reveal that while I am progressing far better than most, I am still behind time. I will share when my emotions get more stable after tears and swollen eyes.

PS: But why he shops at Guardian? I need to ask him later, hmm...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Music of the Hearts

I actually didn't know how to participate in the Let's Read the Quran campaign as I was not the best reader plus I did not finish reading the Quran. Well I don't read the Dhammapada either. However, the recent march of these 50 barbarians to protest the relocation of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam was one of the greatest disgrace to Islam. It spurs me to understand further about Islam and what the Quran has to say about it.

I still remember when we were in school. We were segregated during the Agama (religion) class where Muslims will study differently with the non-Muslims. I still lingered to the thought of "why can't we study religions together?" For one, I would like to understand more about Islam and the Muslims may want to understand us better. Secondly, Buddhism wasn't taught in school so I also want to know more about my religion.

I later found out that somehow, when your hearts are open, it will open your mind. And when all senses are opened you will find music to your hearts. We always hear the azan on television and normal reactions for the non-Muslim was to just change channel or off the TV. When I was at my Malay neighbour home, I did that, too! Then I was "educated" by them that the azan is noble music to the ears.

It was then that I learnt to respect another religion. Studying Buddhism later, it also encourages me to learn, respect and understand other religions better. For me, each time I hear the azan now, I feel peace. The drums at the Hindu temple was the happiest tune I've ever heard (and I just love the head shaking), reciting the sutras in Buddhist temple was very pleasing and listening to the marvelous voice of church choir has never been better.

Somehow I find it rather difficult to understand why human race cannot come as one. Why must someone always think they are more superior than the other where we were all born the same?

PS: I am lost in finding the correct phrases in Quran to represent what I want to say so let Anas does this. Click here for his comments.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Let's Learn Together

Napoleon Hill Habitizing Program, the Magic Ladder to Success!
3rd-6th September 2009 (Thursday - Sunday)
9.00am - 6.00pm daily

Come for 4 exciting day on habitizing yourselves. A program that will truly help you towards being successful. Based on the very first philosophy of success written by Napoleon Hill in year 1928, this Habitizing Program includes in-depth explanations, detailed guidance, step-by-step HOW TO and even real games to understand each of the 17 principles of success spelled by Napoleon Hill.

Call Napoleon Hill Associates (M) Sdn. Bhd. at 03-2144 1818 or download the pdf copy here. (259KB) This course - because is so intensive, powerful and mind-blowing, is cost at RM3,000. Ask for a discount from me, too. Classes will be small - easy to form groups and specialized attention by the trainer. Therefore, only limited seats available - so book your seat now! (As per time of writing, only 5 seats left) CALL NOW!

For the pdf file, click here. (447KB)

For the pdf file, click here. (518KB)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Let's read the Quran

I have "announced" of my fasting this Ramadhan through facebook. Lots of feedbacks and it was intriguing to see the comments of many friends. No, I am not a Muslim but I am a bangsa Malaysia, when asked am I a Muslim (therefore fasting).

Fasting during Ramadhan isn't new to me. I did this as soon as I have the liberty to cook and sahur at 5am. Puasa for 4 years during Ramadhan and then stopped for 6 years due to gastric. This year, I am back on track. My colleague suddenly asked me today, the reason I fast.

The answer was simple. I was a church-goer for 6 years, apparently to learn and improve English and then only discovered Buddhism when I was 13 years old. Buddhism (yes, I am a Buddhist) encourages Buddhists to go search and find out about other religions before deciding one that is right for him/her. With this "freedom" of choice and Malaysia being one of the easiest place on earth to learn diversified cultures and religions, so why not? I went on to learn about Islam and eventually practise them in daily live.

I still remember quoting live on a talk show (Bicara Siswa) the Surah Al-Kafirun (1-6), to the amazement of everyone on air (and at home, too!).

  1. قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ Katakanlah: "Hai orang-orang kafir,
  2. لا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ Aku tidak akan menyembah apa yang kamu sembah,
  3. وَلا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ Dan kamu bukan penyembah Tuhan yang aku sembah.
  4. وَلا أَنَا عَابِدٌ مَا عَبَدْتُمْ Dan aku tidak pernah menjadi penyembah apa yang kamu sembah,
  5. وَلا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ dan kamu tidak pernah (pula) menjadi penyembah Tuhan yang aku sembah.
  6. لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ Untukmu agamamu, dan untukkulah agamaku
See? The Quran encourages freedom of choice in religion for non-Muslims. So, why the hoo-hah when Malaysia was then pronounced Islamic state and the "fear" of losing our religious rights when we don't understand the Quran. So, let's read the Quran.

Let's read the Quran is a campaign launched by my idol, my friend, my guru and now my publisher, Anas Zubedy. As a bangsa Malaysia himself, he has always emphasized on "Many Colours, One Race" and he could quote verses from the Bible, Dhammapada and the Hinduism scriptures. This is the second round of campaign he is doing.

What is the Campaign all about?
Read the Quran in the language that you are familiar with.

When will the campaign start and end?
August 22nd to September 21st (Hari Raya Aidil Fitri)

Participating blogs in the blogosphere.

So more people know what the Quran says and what the Quran does not say and to match its relevance to our daily lives.

Anyone who wants to – the more the merrier! If you have a Blog, Facebook, etc carry the logo/icon.

- To join the campaign, place the accompanying logo/icon at your blog.
- Write or share short articles based on the Quranic text.
- Share what you find in the Quran with family and friends.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My LaunchPad - Emceeing

Becoming an emcee was never my dream nor has it became something of obsession. I was TV Presenter for Selamat Pagi Malaysia some time ago and naturally, friends asked that I emcee for events which requires someone who speaks fluent Malay.

I find I have this talent in me naturally - to speak with confidence, to emcee an event as well as to know what to say when things go wrong. Way back when in school, being actively involved in St. John Ambulance, I was often asked to be the emcee. I even emceed during an annual parade where the DYAM Raja DiHilir Perak was gracing. It was the first time I emceed in a function with royal attendance and I enjoyed it. The main guy at the Information Ministry commended that I should take emceeing as a career because I've got the "VOICE" and "bass" was strong, and I could flow the words as it flows.

I did not take him seriously. I should have.....

Now, being an emcee for so many events, I have done emceeing only in Malay. However, I took the bold step and challenge when a friend asked that I emcee for an event the next morning. The time was 12.15am and I will need to emcee in English at 8.30am.

It was the FIRST time emceeing in English and first event after the liver donation. As much as I would like to take care of my health and sleep early, I also took the challenge to research and prepared script for the morning.

I did my best and surprisingly find myself a new-found ability. Hey, I can emcee in English! Why not? I did not try earlier and yet when the first opportunity came, I never hesitated my skills. It was partly due to my generosity in helping a friend who needed help at the very last minute. I did well so much so that I got enough praises that let my confidence flies.

And then I did another event with a mix of both Malay and English.

TODAY, I did it again! I made it a point to emcee fully in English and I successfully did an impressive job. How do I know it was impressive? By the number of cards that come naturally without asking for it! I cannot stand it if my audience is boring or sleepy. No one will ever sleeps when I emcee and I made this my objective every single time. This time, a business function so solemn - but I made them all warmed up and by the time they dash out the hall for refreshment, they'd have remembered my name because as they CHEW their food, they'll remember Chew, the emcee.

Next, let me pick up Chinese and one day, I will emcee in Chinese, too! And be warned - my script includes phrases of Tamil, too. You can't help it when you are bangsa Malaysia.

Tomorrow, I will be emceeing for the Women Entrepreneur Conference organized by the Gorgeous Geeks whom its president I met at the Great Women of Our Time award 2008 gala dinner.

Someone asked of my fees, expecting it to be very high and came to be surprise of the fees I charged. Ask me for a figure if you would like to know. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Giving liver to save life 無條件捐肝助陌生人‧周虹伶展現大愛

Let me try to translate the title with my little knowledge (and improving) Mandarin.

"Giving liver to save life, never mind the Mercedes scar"
"Chew Hoong Ling with big heart"
(not sure if I am correct...)






(15 years ago, Chew Hoong Ling after pledging organs, planned to donate organ even if while still alive and 15 years after, she got a chance to give part of her liver to Lee An Qi)






(Since parents divorced at age 4, she stays at her aunt's house. Since 6 years old, Hoong Ling went to church and eventually discovered Buddhism only in secondary school where she also joins Buddhist Association.)

(**Since I cant read Chinese, so during Chinese classes, a few of my classmates and I were sent to the library - from there I learnt Jawi)


(In about a year, Hoong Ling mastered bahasa jawa **truth is Jawi words** and then went on to read Al Quran and even fast during Ramadhan for 4 years. It was when gastric problems started that she then stopped) **If this year I still can't fast, it will be the 9th year not fasting**


(After knowing entrepreneur, Anas Zubedy and impressed with his ability to speak English, Malay, Hokkien and some Tamil, Hoong Ling also learns Tamil to stay closer with Indian friends. **Truth is I learnt Tamil during schooldays)







(In secondary school, Hoong Ling read an article on Joy of Giving in a book about organ donation and decided to pledge organs. When organising an organ and blood donation campaign after that, she realised many people do not know about organ donation. **I can't really understand the rest)


中學畢業後,周虹伶到吉隆坡報讀資訊系統科學課程,期間受邀參與電視台BICARA SISWA清談節目,因說得一口流利的國語而被大馬電視台相中,在2002年至2004年主持《大馬早安》(SELAMAT PAGI MALAYSIA)節目。

(After high school, Hoong Ling continued studies in Kuala Lumpur and was invited as panel speaker for Bicara Siswa talk show and eventually became TV Presenter for Selamat Pagi Malaysia from 2002 to 2004)


(Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Programme),擔任大馬青少年大使,到新加坡、雅加達、曼谷、馬尼拉和日本去進行文化交流,體會不同國度的民情風俗。


(In 2003, she was hand-picked by government to be ambassador on board the ship for Southeast Asian Youth Programme.)



(In that 2 months of the programme, it has changed Hoong Ling's life - other than "holidaying" in 5 countries, she also meet youths from 11 countries.)




Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gulai Tempoyak for CNY reunion dinner

How many Chinese family will have Gulai Tempoyak on the dining table for Chinese New Year reunion dinner? We have it every year except for the past 3 years. My family enjoys gulai tempoyak very much and we could take the gravy as if we're drinking soup. If you only have that dish and nothing else, we can eat that with rice for 3 days 3 nights, for all 3 meals!

Everytime we cook for Chinese New Year, we will cook a whole bigggggggg pot and then keep having it for 3 days. The rest of it will be kept in containers in freezer. Relatives from Australia and US will bring back the frozen gulai tempoyak. They will just melt it, boil it, add prawns to it and enjoy!

What the heck is gulai tempoyak? Tempoyak is fermented durians. We will take the flesh of durians and mix it with a little sugar and some salt, leave it overnight to allow it to ferment. Then the whole bottle can be kept in the refridgerator for... hmm... a year! Don't think "yucks!", think yogurt! Durian yogurt, anyone?

For the past 3 years (3 seems to be the lucky number in this post, hmmm), however, that dish vanishes from our reunion dinner table. Somehow, it was said to be tedious to prepare and difficult to get nice tempoyak.

Imagine torturing the taste buds for whole 3 years. It then prompted me to learn cooking it. FIRST I am super lucky to have my aunt kept a whole recipe book - recipes from my Amah (my uncle's mother whom I grew up along with) and the treasure was kept. I copied the recipe and tried about a year ago and SUCCEEDED! Since then, I have cooked 3 times. (3 seems to be just the number!)

Last week, my cousin, Colin, came. Amah was his grandmother. I grew up with 2 cousins - Colin and Kok Wai. Kok Wai stays about 5km away from my house now so we are closer to each other. Colin will stay at Wai's house so since the childhood siblings are having a get-together, I decided to dirty my hands in the kitchen again.

2 Timun (Cucumber)

About 17 dried chillies, 3 fresh red chilli, 3 serai

half a rice bowl of shallots

Prawns - udang sebanyak-banyaknyerrr - my favourite. Have to cut down though as the cholesterol level increased.

Everything prepared..... wait for me after work ya...

The results - gulai tempoyak udang! This time too watery - sigh... next month will cook again. Practise makes perfect!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tokleh Tehe: Bahasa Malaysia la, brader!

I can't stand some issues that is happening around but let me make this a positive one instead of a complaining blog. Tokleh tehe - a Malay phrase (Kelantanese slang) which means "Tak boleh tahan" will be used for all blogs regarding this issue.

Let me spill out, I cannot take it when we are using Bahasa Malaysia and then add on some English to it. Some people may do it for fun, some for "glamourous" effects and some doing it because they are out of vocabulary to use. Not that I speak pure Bahasa Malaysia when I speak but I do not do it for the earlier.

Likewise, when filling in forms in Bahasa Malaysia, I just could not see people use English phrases to do it. Today, I encounter a form from the Ministry of Youth and Sports. My friend suggested to put "programming" in one of the fields. As far as I am concern, "programming" is "pengaturcaraan" in Bahasa Malaysia and since the language is our country's formal language, let us all use it with dignity.

I am not a Bahasa Malaysia- maniac or so lunatic as to champion the use of the language in all areas. However, I have utmost respect for the language because we are Bangsa Malaysia and the language is a connector among people in Malaysia.

Why do I say this? I recall a friend who is selling spectacles. He is a Chinese Malaysian and he could speak Hokkien, Hakka, Mandarin, Cantonese and some Teochew. One fine day, a customer walk in. From the skin colour, he looks Chinese so my friend was not too worried.

All of a sudden, his customer spoke in a language he could not understand. He knew it was a Chinese dialect but he just could not understand the language. It was Foochew. He tried to speak to him in any other Chinese dialects he could speak. None of the dialects he knew could communicate with his customer.

That was critical. How can you communicate and talk about business when you can't understand each other? At this juncture, I was very intrigued and quickly asked how the deal ended. He said the customer finally asked, "Melayu tau ka?" (can you understand Malay?) They both laughed and spoke Bahasa Malaysia to communicate. The rest is history.

I have written a piece regarding my opinion on our national language. It was carried by Utusan Malaysia. I only emailed that article to the reader's column but the piece of article proudly presented itself in the RENCANA column instead. Months after that, I even received royalty for it. Cool piece - I guess. Let's examine and see if you agree.

Bahasa membina bangsa
(in the news ::: Utusan Malaysia, Rencana, 6 Oct 2006)


BERITA “Cemar bahasa didenda – Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka akan jadi badan penguat kuasa” di dada akhbar Utusan Malaysia hari ini amat menggembirakan. Sudah tiba masanya Malaysia mengukuhkan bahasa kebangsaan dan penggunaannya dalam seluruh lapisan masyarakat. Kita amat berbangga dengan tindakan Kementerian Kebudayaan, Kesenian dan Warisan untuk memberi kuasa kepada Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka untuk mempertahankan penggunaan bahasa kebangsaan yang betul.

Bahasa bukan sahaja merupakan satu pengantara pertuturan. Pepatah ‘Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa’ membawa maksud yang amat besar. Sesuatu bangsa itu tidak teguh jika tidak dipertahankan bahasa dan budayanya. Tidak hairanlah kalau terdapat pelbagai bantahan apabila bahasa Inggeris diperkenalkan untuk mengajar subjek Matematik dan Sains di sekolah.

Tidak salah jika bangsa Malaysia bijak bertutur pelbagai bahasa. Kita berbangga mempunyai bakat seperti Mahadzir Lokman yang pandai berbahasa, malah dapat menguasai sehingga tujuh bahasa. Ramai juga orang Melayu dan India sekarang menghantar anak-anak mereka belajar di sekolah Cina dan sebaliknya. Rata-rata, seluruh dunia mengagumi bangsa Malaysia yang dapat berbicara menggunakan lebih daripada satu bahasa. Inilah satu lagi keunikan negara kita yang tidak dapat ditandingi oleh negara lain.

Penulis berpendapat bahawa bangsa Malaysia harus mengusai berbagai-bagai bahasa demi mencari ilmu dan pengetahuan yang wujud di segenap pelosok dunia yang tampil dalam bermacam-macam bahasa. Malah bangsa Malaysia nanti yang akan mendapat segala kelebihan apabila dapat menggunakan pelbagai bahasa.

Namun, bahasa kebangsaan kita tidak harus dilupakan dan jangan sesekali diperlekehkan. Siapakah bangsa Malaysia tanpa bahasa kebangsaannya? Siapakah bangsa Malaysia jika bangsa sendiri mencemar bahasa sendiri?

Akta Bahasa Kebangsaan 1963/1967 menetapkan bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa rasmi negara. Setakat mana akta ini dihayati apabila kita masih mempunyai surat-surat rasmi yang menggunakan bahasa lain? Mustahilkah jika bangsa Malaysia menggunakan bahasa kebangsaan sendiri dalam urusan rasmi? Jika Frank Swettenham, Residen British semasa zaman penjajahan dahulu, fasih menggunakan bahasa Melayu, tidak segankah bangsa Malaysia sendiri gagal mempertahankan bahasa kebangsaannya?

Selain daripada mengenakan denda kepada pihak yang tidak menggunakan bahasa kebangsaan dengan betul, kita berharap lebih banyak tindakan diambil untuk memperbaiki mutu bahasa kebangsaan dan memperluaskan penggunaannya di semua peringkat masyarakat, lebih-lebih lagi dalam era teknologi masa kini.

Cadangan penulis adalah supaya bahasa kebangsaan dapat diperluas pencapaiannya. Di zaman moden ini, sudah banyak perisian penterjemahan dan kamus boleh didapati secara percuma melalui laman web. Dengan sekali klik sahaja, perisian begini boleh menterjemahkan semua teks dalam satu laman web atau dokumen daripada satu bahasa kepada satu bahasa yang lain.

Penulis percaya terdapat ramai pengendali laman web dan laman forum juga menginginkan perisian yang dapat membuat penterjemahan dengan mudah supaya dapat menyediakan laman web dwi- bahasa. Laman web bukan sahaja dapat menjangkau lebih ramai pengguna tetapi juga mudah digunakan pada bila-bila masa dan mana-mana tempat. Kamus dalam talian juga harus diperkenalkan kepada pengguna bahasa dan dirangka untuk memudahkan pencapaiannya yang seterusnya akan memperluaskan penggunaannya.

Penulis melihat usaha sesetengah akhbar bahasa Inggeris tempatan untuk memperbaiki penggunaan bahasa Inggeris merupakan satu langkah yang amat berfaedah untuk memperkukuhkan bahasa mat saleh itu. Contohnya, akhbar The Star mempunyai ruangan yang menerima beragam- ragam pendapat pembaca demi memperkukuhkan bahasa tersebut. Penulis mencadangkan supaya cara sedemikian dilakukan untuk bahasa Melayu bukan sahaja di akhbar bahasa kebangsaan tetapi di semua akhbar tempatan. Mudah-mudahan, akhbar-akhbar tempatan boleh menyediakan satu ruangan setiap hari atau setiap minggu bagi tujuan memperluaskan penerimaan dan penggunaan bahasa kebangsaan.

Microsoft di Malaysia sudah memperkenalkan sistem pengendalian pelbagai bahasa. Usaha ini bukan sahaja dapat merapatkan jurang digital malah mampu memperluaskan penggunaan bahasa kebangsaan dalam teknologi moden. Penulis mencadangkan agar perusahaan yang membantu memperkasakan martabat bahasa kebangsaan hari ini diiktiraf dan diberi penghargaan.

Segala perlaksanaan dan tindakan yang diambil oleh pihak kerajaan tidak memadai jika rakyat Malaysia sendiri tidak mengendahkan usaha kerajaan. Bahasa kebangsaan harus diterapkan sebagai bahasa yang digunakan setiap hari bukan sahaja sebagai mata pelajaran wajib di sekolah dan bahasa yang digunakan untuk mengajar sahaja. Murid-murid sekolah, sejak kecil lagi harus diberi peluang menghayati bahasa kebangsaan sebagai bahasa pertuturan, bahasa pengantar dan bahasa sastera. Segala aktiviti penghayatan bahasa kebangsaan harus dijalankan untuk rakyat muda di peringkat sekolah juga. Bak pepatah, “Melentur buluh biar dari rebungnya”. Pembelajaran bahasa kebangsaan tidak seharusnya memberi tumpuan untuk mendapat keputusan cemerlang setakat di sijil pelajaran sahaja.

Semasa di sekolah, penulis telah dibuka minda dan diajar menghayati bahasa kebangsaan melalui penglibatan dalam pertandingan debat, bersajak dan berpantun. Berbalas pantun sambil menyanyikan lagu Rasa Sayang sudah menjadi kebiasaan. Penulis masih ingat apabila lagu Rasa Sayang dibawa ke Kapal Belia Asia tahun 2003. Peserta-peserta Kapal Belia Asia dari negara Brunei, Indonesia, Singapura dan Malaysia berbalas pantun dan semua peserta bersama-sama menyanyikan lagu Rasa Sayang itu. Aktiviti ini mencetuskan minat para peserta dari negara lain untuk mempelajari bahasa Melayu supaya dapat berhubung dengan bangsa Malaysia dan rakyat dari negara-negara jiran.

Harapan penulis supaya bahasa kebangsaan dapat menjadi bahasa membina bangsa Malaysia sekali gus menjadi bahasa dunia yang dihormati. Biarlah suara bahasa Melayu menjadi suara lantang di peringkat dunia.

- PENULIS ialah Presiden Kelab Lions CyberCare Kuala Lumpur.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Mercedes in pain

I just couldn't get myself to sleep tonight. Many things on my mind after short reflections.

1. On my social activities - already thought to cut down and focus on organ donation last year. Anas suggested that I quit all others or just be member and focus on one. My first thought is Organ Donation but my heart just cannot leave St. John Ambulance, too. It is a burning fire since school days.

2. On my tasks - I have cleared a few tasks and more to clear tomorrow in office. But my single largest task is to finish the St. John Ambulance centenary book. While I was being assigned as co-director (unofficially) for the book, I did not hear any news update about it since my operation. I just sent an email to the team to find out my status. Not sure if I am still a part of the book production team.

3. On relationship - I found out where it went wrong. So I ought to correct this.

4. On coming blood tests - 7am I will be going to BP laboratories for a blood test and ultrasound scan. This is the second follow up tests after the operation.

5. On my gastric pain - I had gastric, quite serious wind and gastric before operations. Every now and then I would need a doctor's consultation. I still remember fasting during Ramadhan back when I was 18 years old. After 4 years of consistent fasting during Ramadhan, I stopped on the 5th because of gastric. This should be the 8th year I can't fast for the coming Ramadhan if the gastric does not get better. However, after operation, it was for months until I had some wind and few days ago, gastric came back. Overworked (trying to finish scanning 400+ cards to the CRM system), sleeping late, eating too much at different intervals, meal schedule altered and not taking the gastric pill when needed. OK, since I already knew the reasons, I will take care of myself better.

6. On my Mercedes (my scar on the abdomen) - the Mercedes is a little sensitive these few days. Touching the surface of the scar also feel sensitive. Right side of the scar also having occasional pitching pain. Seems like I am not fully healed yet. I have heard from friends and doctors that sometimes organ donors tend to be depressed mainly due to the pain.

As a happy-go-lucky person, I never find myself having problems with depression. With the Mercedes on and the occasion pain, however, I tend to avoid socializing and meeting people now. I realized that the name cards I got from attending a seminar is now lesser than previous. Even if I go to areas with many people or crowded places, I tend to protect my Mercedes with the fear of people bumping to this luxury logo!

A few weeks ago, I really felt the "depression". I felt that I am more reserved, not joining activities as I used to be, stay home more often and even when going out, I felt myself over protective of the Mercedes. I tend to talk lesser but laugh more. The more I feel sad, the more I laugh and tell jokes, so to release tension.

A fortunate thing to realize all these very early. I told my colleagues about this - releasing whatever feelings I have. Sometimes, pouring out is the best way out. I forced myself to join activities - I joined the Sampah Masyarakat for Buddhist Maha Vihara clean up from the Wesak day aftermath, braved myself to the 3,800 crowd in Millionaire Mind Intensive (even so, I bought the VIP ticket to avoid crushing on with people at general seats).

News on me were out in Feminine, Money Compass, Sin Chew Daily and multiple blogs written on me - all these are happy occasions. Frankly, who will not be happy with news on papers? These news actually helped to reduce my "depression". With more news, more sms-es poured in and more people lifted me to the sky by saying how great I am, how couragous I am, how goddess is this.... sometimes I felt that this liver donation only touched one life, more people have done more to touch more lives, therefore mine is not too big a feat. However, these comments did help to reduce the "depression".

Then during XeerSoft Day, I truly enjoyed the day as just any Xeer (in our company, everyone is a Xeer). I wasn't in any committee as I was already in charged of team building on XeerSoft Day before my operation. It was a full enjoyment. Although I could not run fast but I gave all I can to support my team, even running with both hands supporting my Mercedes. On that day, I got the best team member award. During that day, I was also awarded for being the best in Smiling Contest. The slow building up of "depression" was defeated by multiple "warriors of happiness and smiles".

I want to thank everyone who has helped me gone through the process of post operation. My aunts who took care of me surpassing the professional nurses standards, my friends and family members who visited me, news in the papers which came in the right time to surpress the "depression", all of the people who has said nice and kind words to me, every smile and laughter brought to me (I still remember how I chased Danny and Rudi out of the hospital ward when the two clowns made me laugh till it was so unbearable even when I support the Mercedes all the while), my colleagues who accompany me to sales initiatives without which I will need to carry heavy things, XeerSoft who brought me joy and fun at work, my Dad with his never ending support, new found friends whom I met after operation, my new found life - sounds like I found my life too - not just saving An Qi but I saved myself as well, every breath I am still taking for it allow me to inspire more people while I am still breathing, and myself for knowing how to take care of myself well.