Yan's Corner - In Touch

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"My Way"

My husband is rather impatient with 4WD's drivers. He is a careful driver himself but just would not compromise with discourteous drivers. He seems cannot tolerate 4WD drivers who are inconsiderate. He said 4WDs are meant for rugged terrain, not to be driven between schools, work and shops in town areas.

I often wonder why 4WD drivers irritate him so much. Could he be jealous of their huge vehicles? But he is not materialistic. He is not the type who "spends what he has not earned to buy things he does not need to impress people he does not like". Aha, I begin to get a glimpse of it after reading this study by The Australia Institute.

The study found that four-wheel-drive vehicle owners are often obese, aggressive, intolerant and aged in their 40s and 50s. It also found 4WD owners are less community minded than other drivers, less charitable, more likely to be homophobic and have a low opinion of indigenous culture. They are more likely to use force to get their way.

The report’s authors, Clive Hamilton and Claire Barbato said, “These drivers tend to see themselves as rugged individualists.”

However, the authors said drivers of luxury 4WDs are very different. They are more likely to be female, in their 30s and 40s, and are more materialistic than other citizens. This group is more than twice as likely as the general population to say, “I was born to shop”.

Do you drive a huge 4WD and park your car right in front of the school gate while singing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Knee and the Brain

“If you are with the government, all the mental faculty is in your brains, your heart and your hands. No matter how clever you are, if your brain power does not rise above your knees, you are only kicking.”

This is the remark made by deputy chief minister of Sarawak in lashing out at certain intellectuals who, he said, had used their “knees instead of their brains” to stir up negative politics.

He described these group of people of “nuisance value”.

Recently, I read a text of a sermon delivered by a preacher. He related this story when he preached on how our body works. He said, -

I was preaching in a certain place in the East once and a doctor came up to
me afterwards, and said, "You may be interested to know that there is a certain
part of your body that is absolutely essential to you as a preacher. You
probably do not even think about it when you are preaching, and yet without it
you could not do the work you are doing. Do you know what it is?" I said, "No.
Is it my tongue, or my brain?"

"No," he said, "those are obvious. It's your big toe. Did you know that if
you didn't have a great toe on each foot you could not even stand up to preach?
It is the toe that has the ability to sense when your body begins to lean, or
shift, or get out of balance, or fall, and it immediately strengthens you so
that you can stand up and speak."

I have been guarding it very carefully ever since, because I need that big
toe! It is an essential part of my ministry.

I have not been able to comprehend how without a big toe you won’t be able to stand up. But, I know the importance of knee! Two years ago, I broke my knee. I had an operation to get it fixed. Sounds easy, just fixed it, isn’t it? But, it was not that easy. It was just the knee that hurt, isn’t it? No, the rest of my body was also concerned. My body did not just say, “Oh, go the sleep! Go off and hurt over in the corner and let me go to sleep.” The whole body suffered for days and nights. For weeks, I was not able to lift up my legs. I was on clutches for a while. Without my knee, I just could not walk!

It was then what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:14-16 gave me new meaning –

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say,
"Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it
any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an
eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the
body. If the whole body were any eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole
body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? (1 Corinthians
12:14-17 RSV)

There are people who think that they do not need the rest of the body, they can function on their own; they have their own abilities, and not valuing what others are doing.

The truth is there are really no insignificant members of the body. It applies not only in the Church, it applies to the society at large.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Happy 15th Birthday, Rachel

You are SGH's new arrival on 27th September 1990!

It seems like only yesterday -

You were a tiny little contended baby as in the photograph. You were the most contended baby. After the last feed at 10 pm, you would sleep through the night until 6 am the next morning. You spared me from having to join a mothers' support group to share the horror stories of their babies treating day as night and night as day.

Thank you, Rachel!

You grew into a curious toddler. You were as curious as the asking eyes in the photograph. Any object that you grabbed hold of, you would put into your mouth. Nieces called you "vacuum cleaner" because no carpet left unturned with your presence. It was then I learnt to live in simplicity.

Thank you, Rachel!

You began to ask the whys, the whos, the whats, the hows the moment you opened your eyes. And you would only stop when you were too tired until you went to sleep. You began to have a mind of your own. You refused to sing the kindergarten songs because you thought some of the songs were actually laughing at the unfortunate people. To you, describing a child without mother as a grass without nobody to take care of them was actually laughing at the child. You enjoyed the bedtime stories. It was this time of bedtimes stories that laid the foundation of our bond when times become difficult as you enter into your teens.

Thank you, Rachel!

You barricaded yourself in your room, music blaring, with earphones fused to your ears. When I tried to talk to you, you rolled your eyes and exclaimed, "Mum, you just don't understand!" There were battles and struggles everyday. As I began to despair of ever being a meaningful part of your life again, you suddenly grew out of it! I even did not know when the mother/daughter connection is once again filled with laughter, trust and love!

Happy Birthday, Rachel!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

It's okay to be different

By Christopher Lau

My sister and I are different.

My sister likes to eat noodles. I like to eat rice.

My sister likes to read love stories and horror stories. I like adventure and crimes.

My sister likes to play computer games. I like watching TV.

Even our looks are different. My sister is tall and slim. I am short and fat. (Hope I will grow tall too!)

My sister is good in art. I remember quite a few years ago, she said she wanted to be a fashion designer. At that time, I was very jealous of her because every time in the art class, the teacher said my sister's piece was better, so I remarked that she could only be a tailor, not a fashion designer. Recently, my sister said she would want to be a computer graphic designer. This time I think she can be the best GM. GM as in Game Master.

I am not good in art. But, I love drawing.

So, we are different. Because we are different, sometimes we quarrel. We even fight when I was younger. Now, we don’t fight anymore.

Despite the quarrels and fighting, we are the best of friends most of the times. We love each other. We do have some common likes. We both like mummy's pizza, chicken pie and chocolate cake. We want to have a PS2 and have been asking mummy for one, but she has never agreed.

Tomorrow we (me and my friends in Sunday School) shall be presenting a cantata in the church worship services at 7:30 am and 5:00 pm. The title of the cantata is “It’s okay to be different”.

The story is about lions and lambs fighting with each other because of their differences. Lions do not like the way the lambs “meh, meh..” while the lambs do not like the way the lion “gorr, gorr”. So, they are forever fighting. I take the role of Lion 2.

The lions and lambs finally become best of friends and live together in peace and harmony. It is through the teachings of a choir conductor that we really need to accept each other because God makes each one of us different.

I think because we are different, it makes life more interesting. What if my sister and me look exactly the same? Mummy and daddy will have a hard time. They don’t know who likes noodles and who likes rice!

Yan's thoughts - Just the other day after a function with the Association of children with special needs here in my small town called Sibu, I had lunch with some doctors. I confessed that I am the lousiest mother because I travel too often. I don't have time for my two children. One doctor remarked that I should hold video conferencing since the society is now so high-tech. Even so, I always remember the script that I watched during those far-away days like the Little House on the Prairie or The Waltons.

It is so heart-warming even when I recal how the families say goodnight to the children, the family celebrations over victories, the sharing of family empathy over disappointments.

I confess that I have not done enough.

But, I am fortunate to have Chris and Rachel as they are. Enjoy them to be different.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Solar-powered handbag

I pick up this interesting news, Now Where Did My Keys Glow from The Journey.

A handbag powered by solar energy has been designed. The bag uses a solar cell to store energy from sunlight. When the bag is opened, it lights up.When it is closed, the light automatically shuts down.

The "great inventor" got this idea when she saw friends frantically searching their bags for house keys.

Anyone for the patent? The designer is looking for one.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Significant 7

Desi tags me - the "secret 7"!

Seven things you plan to do before you die
As C.S. Lewis said, "These are the shadow lands. Real life has yet to begin."
So, seven cheers for the new life...

Seven things I could do
As A. Maude Royden said, "Learn to hold loosely all that is not eternal."
So, yearn for more in eternity..
seven cheers, too, for a world far more than the present that is restricted by seven!

Seven Celebrity crushes
Really can't think of one - but can count from one to seven. Remember I am Desi's fav 7!

Seven often repeated words
One minute
Two minutes
Three minutes
Four minutes
Five minutes
Time's up
Wake up
(Remember? I am Chris' alarm clock! I have to do it everyday, from Day 1 to 7!)

Seven physical traits I look for in the opposite sex
Ssh...Have to borrow Desi's secret seven! Some of the traits may not be found in the significant half!

The seven people that I'd like to tag next
De book-worm
Ignorant Cow
H J Angus
Mystery 7

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

When life's storm rage

A story was told of a ship that made its first voyage across the Atlantic. During the first evening, one of the passengers who was a peacher announced that he would be leading a prayer meeting every morning at 6 am. He invited all passengers and crew to join him.

The next morning, the preacher prayed alone. Nobody joined him. He made another announcement during the dinner. Still, nobody joined him the next morning. For many days, the preacher prayed alone.

One night, the ship ran into a storm. The ship pitched and tilted on the rough sea like a toy boat in a bath tub. Everyone was terrified, the crew and passengers alike.

At 6 am, the storm still howling. Everyone on board squeezed into the little prayer room to pray for deliverance. But, the preacher was no where to be seen. Somebody ran into his cabin, but the preacher was not there. At last they found the preacher on the ship's deck. "Reverend! It's time for prayer meeting." one of the search party shouted to the preacher.

"Go ahead without me," the preacher called back, "I've been praying all week. This morning, I am just going to enjoy this display of God's power."

Yes, the preacher had peace on the inside - even when the sea around him is rough, the situation around him is in chaos.

Today's story is an echo to the "Customs D-G's poem" expressed over the controversy surrounding his allegedly expensive farewell bash which has been translated by Bernama to read as follows -

"Who would expect, when the ship approaches port,
a storm suddenly breaks out without mercy,
as though drowning one's sweat without pity,
But believe me, as long as I live,
I will certainly defend their integrity,
although not many dare to join me in the battle,
they may be thinking of their own future,
probably when Halil stumbles, they can then move ahead."

When life's storm rage, do you panic? Or do you still have the inner calm? Or can you still have a good night sleep?

The apple that reads "Good Night" in the photo was placed at my bedside table in a hotel I checked in recently.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Be delighted

The hotel that I stayed during my over-the-weekend-stay in Kuala Lumpur supplied the guests with New Straits Times. From Friday to Sunday, the moment I opened my eyes, I read “Scandals and failures”. Failure of our first batch of PMR students doing science and maths in English was the headline for Friday. The next two days on the alleged scandals of farewell parties for the retiring DG of Customs.

If you have scandals, disasters, crime, tragedies, accidents, death … the newspapers sales rise sharply. We want to know everything about how farewell parties will amount to RM5 million, a figure that many of us would never dream of. We want to know every details of a tragedy. We want to know how bad students are doing in their maths and science. We are caught by the big “F”. For students, it means “fail”, for someone who is used to that “Fxxx”, it means a different thing. We want to know what happened in a car accident. We need to know the details so that we can tell our stories in coffee shops or even in cyber chatting rooms.

But, if we start to read such news everyday, we will decide that this world is not really a place to live on. Don’t we have such conclusion that comes to our mind? For many, this is just a thought that flash through the mind. For some, the flash may mean making a decision that this is not the place to continue living.

Why can’t newspapers promote positive news? My heart is always warmed with politicians who talk words of inspiration. Today, Sarawak Second Finance Minister, Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh said this –

In this world, there is always a small segment of the population who are less fortunate. These are the people who require our help. If we put our hearts to a common cause and the common cause to our hearts, then we can make things happen.

He further quoted Confucious saying that when people extended their love from their families to their friends, then to their neighbours and to the elderly they would find that life is full of meanings.

Positive stories do sell. We all want to read stories that gives hope. We all want to be delighted over and over.

Newspapers do play a role in giving hope to people that life may be difficult, but there is a reason to move on.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

When Mummy is not at home

Just reached home in time for the Mooncake Festival. Read what Chris has to say about having no mummy at home -

When mummy is not at home

Christopher Lau

Mummy went to Kuala Lumpur on Friday for her Girls’ Brigade meeting. When mummy is not at home, everything seems not right.

Mummy is my alarm clock. She is an alarm clock that never fails. She will wake me up at 5:30 am if it is a school day. I always say, “Five minutes.” But, I think it is only one minute, she will call again. When mummy is not at home, I have to put two alarm clocks and my handphone at my bedside. The handphone is for my mummy to telephone me at 5:30 am. I always sleep through the alarm clock, but the telephone ring always wakes me up. The telephone ring means mummny calling! After half an hour, mummy will call again to make sure that I have showered and dressed ready for school. One time I joke with mummy. Half an hour later, when she called, I pretended that I was still in my dream and answered the phone with a sleepy voice. Mummy said, “You are late!” Then, I burst into laughter.

I learn to be punctual from mummy. When mummy says 5:30 am she will call me, it means 5:30 am. She is an alarm clock that never fails. She is an alarm clock that rings with love.

Mummy is my most trusted driver. She is always there at the school gate when the school is over. When mummy is not at home, I am worried that the driver forgets to fetch me.

I learn to keep my words from mummy. When mummy says she will be at the school gate, she will be there, rain or shine.

Mummy is also my best friend. She knows my every needs, even before I speak. Sometimes, I wonder how she knows. Whenever I ask she will always smiles and says that I am his son and she knows all my tricks. I guess she must be like me when she was small. Therefore, with mummy around, I can’t be naughty. But, without mummy around, everything seems not right, I would not want to be naughty anyway.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Sheperd

It has been a very, very tiring four days – Monday to Thursday. And I have not quite finished with projects in hand, and deadlines to meet.

Tonight, I ponder on this favourite Shepherd Psalm – Pslams 23 - which I memorized when I was a small child.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; (Psalms 23:1 RSV)

It strikes me tonight that – if the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. So, if I am still in want, it means that the Lord is not my shepherd. If I wonder and wander, then the Lord is not my shepherd.

If the Lord is my shepherd, then, I am his sheep. I am a sheep, how could the Shepherd meet my needs?

He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul. (Psalms 23:2-3a RSV)

What more would I need as a sheep? The green pastures, the still waters – how calm and peaceful it is. What more would I need?

He leads me in paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake. (Psalms 23;3b RSV)

Yes, He has even given direction in life. Why am I still worrying and uncertain about tomorrow?

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I fear no evil
For thou art with me
Thy rod and thy staff
They comfort me (Psalms 23:4 RSV)

He provides protection. Why should I fear?

Thou prepared a table before me
In the presence of my enemies
Thou anointest my head with oil,
My cup overflows,
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
For ever. (Psalms 23:5-6 RSV)

And now, He is a gracious host. A banquet.

He feeds. He protects. He leads. He protects. He provides. What else would I want?

Yes, I am off for three days pleasure-work trip for the next three days ….

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Your best for people's best

In a function last night, the speech of Chief Minister of Sarawak centred around “sacrifice”. He reminded his party members not to forget the value of sacrifice, especially in helping the rakyat.

The Borneo Post reported that the Chief Minister said without the spirit of sacrifice, they (the party members) would forget the struggles of the people, and would eventually only struggle for their own interests.

How noble it is – giving up your best for people’s best, giving up your best for God’s best. It is not easy.

It’s easy to give away unwanted things any day. It does not hurt to give away things you don’t want. But it really hurts when you have to give away something you treasure and with a willing heart for the sake of another who will need it more. Sacrifice is offering your brand new thing.

Remember the poor widow in the Bible who sacrificed two pennies? The poor widow’s sacrifice is no sacrifice to many at all.

It’s giving until it hurts, how many of us can do that?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


"You sell textiles."

"You sell newspaper."

It was a pleasant surprise this morning. A year ago, we were on the same flight from Sibu to Kuching. We were also seated next to each other. This morning on the same journey, we were again seated next to each other.

I remember him as a man who comes from KL selling textiles to local shops here. He remembers me as a woman who "sells" newspaper. We can't remember each other's name. We did not ask, in fact.

But the second encounter in the same manner gives much delight. Small delights like this makes my day too.

Monday, September 12, 2005

How to Hug

We went to a food sale yesterday. The food sale was organized to raise fund for the operation cost of a centre for special children. Four of us holding RM100 coupons could only buy one roasted duck. That's beside the point.

In a food sale like this, normally some clubs, associations or people with charity at heart would donate their merchandise for sale. The popular one would be food stall. A normal RM2 fried rice would be sold at RM10. Transaction is using coupons. I was told that a total of RM88,000 was being raised.

My teenage daughter after making one round finally found her treasures at a stall selling used books at RM2 each. She was so excited and asked me for RM10 coupon. I took a look and noted that it was sponsored by a centre that gives child education. It is even a franchised early child education specialist. So, it is safe.

But, back home, I was horrified to hear this conversation -

"Che-che (big sister), can I read the books that you have just bought at the food sale?" the 10-year old asked.

"No, there are some pervert pictures in these books. Che-che also cannot read." the big sister answered.

That reminds me of another story . A story is told about a man who was walking down the street one day. He passed by a book store selling used books. In the display window, he saw a book with this title, "How to Hug". He was caught by the title. On that particular moment, he was romantic at heart. He went into the shop and bought the book. When he got back home, he discovered that it was the third volume of an encyclopedia that covered subjects from "How" to "Hug".

We bought some coupons for charity. We brought our children to the food sale hoping to teach them to have a generous heart. We hope to see a demonstration of love there. But just like the man who wanted to learn "How to Hug" only to find an encycloopedia on theory. We want to teach our children a demonstration of love through charity only to find that love means dumping unwanted books or unwanted items. All done in the disguise of charity.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


By Christopher Lau

This is the first time that I know there is a day called “Grandparents’ Day”. And today it is Grandparents’ Day in America.

I want to wish my grandma happiness and good health for many more years. I also want to tell her that “I love her”. I also want to thank her for giving me such a wonderful person called “pa pa”.

My other grandma who had given me a wonderful mother went back to Jesus’ home five years ago. I was five years old then. I also remember her today. She was a loving grandma. My mother told me that grandma looked after me when I was a baby.

I had never seen the father of my mother whom I called grandpa. He died long before I was born.

My mooooooost loving grandpa went to stay in Jesus’ home last year in October. I miss him very much. I miss the time watching TV with him. I miss the dinner time with him when he would always joke with me. I miss the time when he and the driver fetched me from tuition lessons and music lessons. I just miss calling him “Gong Gong”. I even miss him calling me from downstairs – Liang Liang.

Mummy said “Gong Gong” is now living in Jesus’ home. It is a beautiful home with many rooms. One day, we all shall meet in heaven. But, why doesn’t Jesus let him stay here in our home for a longer time? There is a big room for him and grandma.

Dear Jesus, pluck a flower from your garden and give it to my “gong-gong” and please help me to say “Happy Grandparents Day” to him and give him a hug.

Gong-gong, I know it is more than a house in heaven, it is home of Jesus. I know you are singing happily there with a better karoke-system than the one at home. But, why do I still want you here?

Yan: My little star will be here every Sunday as the host. Today's thoughts on Grandparents' Day brings much tears to him. Read about Grandparents' Day in United States here.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Malaysian Star

As promised, here is the Malaysian Star, Carmen Cheh... This article forms part of the series on education in Singapore published in The Borneo Post on 10 September 2005..

They call her “Malaysian Star” in NUS High School of Maths and Science. Carmen Cheh is one of the Accelerated students in the School. Though she is in Year 1, she is doing Year 3 maths.

The “Star” shines, indeed. When asked where she would be furthering her studies after completing her high school, she answered without hesistance, “MIT in Boston.”

Carmen spotted NUS High School’s website on her own. She applied directly to the school and attended the Science and Math Camp. The Principal, Mr Lee who interview her said, “I can’t refuse her. She took all the initiative and expressed enthusiasm.”

Carmen’s father is a medical doctor in Perak, Malaysia while her mother is presently with her in Singapore. She is the only child of the family. She did her primary school education at Sekolah Kebangsaan Methodist, Tanjong Maling, Perak. She was the model student of the school for five out of the six years she studied there.

Asked on NUS High School, Carmen said,

“The teachers are very dedicated. They are kind. They help us in every way. If we have problems, they are ever ready to help and guide us. The school’s syllabus is very good. We can choose our own module. The facilities are good.”

On why she picked Singapore and not a school in Malaysia, Carmen said,

“For one, I always think of studying in Singapore.l This offer is difficult to refuse, you can choose the modules to study.”

Carmen’s favourite subjects are Maths and Physics.

During leisure time, Carmen reads.

“When I read books, I am immensed in my world. I select the books but my mother has to go through the books.”

On the question from her Principal posed, “Even books from our school’s library?”, Carmen gave a sweet smile.

Carmen also plays piano. She will play one or two computer games. She said, “When the computer is on, when I am tired, I would play one or two games.”

She wants to be a computer programmer. Her Principal said Carmen has been writing simple computer program. Carmen said her father taught her about computer programming.

The Principal said Carmen is very proactive.

“She would tell you what she has learnt. This will enhance her own learning and our ability to help her. She fights for what she wants. She has been with audition with the professors of National University Singapore, they will teach her on one to one basis for few hours a week.”

At the close of the interview with Carmen, I jokingly asked Carmen whether she played dolls when she was younger. The question brought a broad smile on our “Malaysian Star”,

“Yes, I play dolls and board games.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Desperate Housewife

Are you a desperate housewife?

Author Ron Hutchcraft says a big reason some wives are desperate or discouraged is a husband who fails to meet her needs for affection, attention and affirmation.

Here's Hutchcraft's three question test for men -

First, am I loving my wife in the ways that make her feel loved?

Second, am I giving her exclusive attention on a regular basis?

Third, am I building her up by praising her?

If a man says "yes" to all three questions, his wife won't be desperate, she'll be a woman who knows she's safe, secure, treasured and loved.

Yeah! Sarawakian picked to head MAS

That settles the issue! Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has appointed Idris Jala, 47, as its news managing director effective December 1, 2005. And that was after an extensive headhunting search.

Dr M has every reason to be happy this Friday morning. The Star reported on August 30 -

Dr M to MAS: Consider foreign MD plan carefully

Malaysia Airlines (MAS), which may be open to hiring a foreigner as its new managing director, should consider the matter carefully, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former prime minister said MAS should also gauge the response of its staff.

“I think you should test the waters,” he said during a dialogue session after delivering a talk at a seminar entitled The Thinking of a Thinker organised by the International Islamic University here yesterday.

“If people react negatively, you will not achieve positive results.”

He was responding to reports about a MAS' plan to hire a foreigner to head its operations following the retirement of managing director Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Dahlan last week.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had said last Sunday that he would give priority to a Malaysian to head MAS but was willing to consider a foreigner as a temporary measure if there was no local person qualified to take the job.

Now, the new MD has said this -

"As I am not from the airline industry, I will have to learn fast. I will do my best to work everyone in Malaysia Airlines. I believe the key to business turnaround lies in unleashing the talents of everyone in MAS."

Idris is a Kelabit (Read about Kelabit here from the Bario Highlands in Sarawak. He successfully led the business turnaround of Shell Middle Distillates Synthesis (SMDS) Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a multinational plant in Sarawak.

Updated at 3:30 pm - Read further from New Straits Times about this Sarawakian. Well, it's always heartwarming to read stories of "own people", people from the same State -

Some call Idris the turnaround specialist. Some say that his forte is in motivating people. Some say he is from the school of managers who are more comfortable in the trenches with the troops than in wood-panelled boardrooms. Some say his idea of a good time is a jam session, with him on the electric guitar.

...It would not surprise me if he rolled up his sleeves and helped out the crew during a flight. That is the kind of person he is.

Yeah, (sorry I am like my teenage daughter today) Yeah! Imagaine CEO ask you in an early morning flight - Nasi Lemak or Omelette?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Monday to Thursday, still counting

A good friend left for Europe for a conference followed by a tour. He wrote a "Hi" yesterday. I wrote back this morning saying that there is not much happening at home. But, I gave him an account of the headlines over the week -

Monday - Teacher held for alleged rape
Seven pupils, aged between 10 and 12, claim they were raped in teacher's quarters since last year

Tuesday - 143 die in Indon Plane crash

Wednesday - Wife hacks man with knife
Sight of her semi-naked husband on top of their 10-year-old daughter drives woman mad

Thursday - Road Tax down by 25-80 percent
Reduction part of government's effort to help ease people's burden caused by fuel price hike

I added a little note -

Sounds gloomy with all the sad news. The only good news is you can spend a little more in Europe. How much more? Just a little like 80 ringgit if you are paying 160 ringgit road tax for your car.

Today's posting is under the influence of Desi's postings from Monday to Thursday.

Well, still counting... Friday, Saturday, Sunday ....

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hymn Of Promise

... pon­der­ing the death of a friend (life and death, death and re­sur­rect­ion),
pon­der­ing win­ter and spring (seem­ing op­po­sites),
and a T. S. El­i­ot poem which had the phrase, ‘In our end is our be­gin­ning.’
These seem­ing­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry ‘pairs’ led to the the­sis of the song and the hope­ful mes­sage that out of one will come the other when­ev­er God choos­es to bring that about...

Her hus­band, Dr. Ron­ald Sleeth, heard Hymn of Prom­ise short­ly be­fore he died, and asked that it be sung at his fun­er­al.

Words & Music: Nat­a­lie A. Sleeth, 1986

I have always like this hymn called "Hymn of Promise" - with contradictory pairs and fill with hope.

I find this site called Cyber Hymnal. It is a site relating to hymns, with over 5,200 hymns and gospel songs.

I think it's great for finding hymns relating to death, hope, wedding, marriage and many others.

Desi's Challenge 5

I woke up at 4:30 am, the usual time when I would be sending my MIL for her morning's Tai-Chi sessions in an esplanade. It was raining. So, it means Tai-Chi lesson is not possible. It's Wednesday, I am supposed to work 40%. Remember? 100% at work and 40% is for Wednesday. Now, I realize why Wednesday child is a woe! Monday and Tuesday children are only working 12 and 23 percent respectively!

Well, from 4:30 am to now 7:40 am, I guess I have worked the 40% for Wednesday. That leaves me with no more capacity to work today. So, over to you all.

YAN happily accepts Desi's CHALLENGE 5 to run a Booker Review of Mitch Albom's TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE.

The First Prize is an autographed copy of CHALLENGE TO LOVE by Catherine De Costa (donatted by Desiderata;); and also First PUBLICATIONS RIGHTS to The Borneo Post (where Yan has a little say!) to feature THE TOP2 REVIEWS:);) where normal payments just like for anyother freelance contributions apply...

MGf Desi has promised to be hardworking Judge and his decisions are final & muktamad, to be announced Three Days after Borneo Post's use of the 3 reviews.

Entries of at least 2,500 words must reach YAN by Email at phylliswyy@gmail.com or chongyl2000@yahoo.com

Deadline is 2400 hours, September 30, 2005.



Monday, September 05, 2005

One Hundred Percent, Week after Week

My good friend forwarded this to me. How about that for a Monday morning?

High-Tech Apology

My small star was grumpy last night. I left him alone to give him time and space to wrap up the day before retiring to bed.

After half an hour, he wrote me a note.

I was busy. I did not take a tick immediately. He wrote another note.

After a while, my handphone incoming message tone was heard. I picked up and read -

If you forgive me, press the reply button and send a blank message to the sender. CLKL

Someone angry with you? Give it a try, it may work!

Who am I?

I was in a Girls' Brigade Officers' training for the last two days. In one of the sessions, the participants were asked to reflect on the question "Who am I?" and share in a small group concerning our own reflecton.

Who am I? We have answers like -

I am God's creation.
I am one in a million.
I am a miracle of God's creation, no more no less.
I am God's child.
I am somebody's wife, mother.
I am so and so..

A little story was printed in the note -

"I once heard this story about a priest, who was confronted by a solder while he was walking down a road in pre-revolutionary Russia.

The solder, aiming his riffle at the priest, commanded, "Who are you? Where are you going? Why are you going there?"

Unfazed, the priest calmly replied, "How much do they pay you?"

Somewhat surprised, the solder responded, "Twenty-five kopecks a month."

The priest paused, and in a deeply thoughtful manner said, "I have a proposal for you. I'll pay you fifty popecks each moth if you stop me here every day and challenger me to respond to those same three questions."

Identity. Are we all searching? Who am I? Do we answer differently each time? You carry with you many titles? Here is another story I read last night..

Pope died. He went to heaven. At the heaven's gate, the Pope was asked, "Who are you?" To that the Pope answered, "I am the Pope."

The gate keeper searched high and low for his name. He shook his head and said, "I could not find your name."

The pope reduced his rank. Still, could not not find. Finally, he mentioned his name only without any of the ranking.

The gate keep faced lit up, "Yes, you are xxx, I find it. You were compassionate to the needies while serving as a priest!"

No record of his good deeds as a Pope ...

Who am I?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Education in Singapore - a global experience

This article first appeared in Postmag, Weekend Magazine of The Borneo Post, on 3rd September, 2005.

First Class Education for all

“We are aiming for a mountain range, not a pinnacle. We want many routes up, many ways to succeed. If you are a teh tarik man, you must be a good teh tarik man, pour the tea and turn around … In Chinese, they say hang hang chu zhuang yuan: In every profession, there are people who are outstanding, who are world-class and I think we must be like that in Singapore.”

Thus, says the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, at his national day rally delivered on August 21, 2005.

Mr Lee was touching on the education system of Singapore aiming to give everyone, not just an elite few, a first-class education.

Global Experience through education

While Singapore wants to develop every talent, and aiming at a strong Singapore team, it also hopes to give their students a global experience through the admission of foreign students in its basic education and higher learning comprising of preparatory education from kindergarten to “A” level, certificate/diploma education and tertiary education (undergraduates and postgraduates).

“We want to give our own students a global experience through a learning environment with the presence of international students,” said Magdalene Lee, Director of Education Services, Singapore Education.

Singapore Education is a multi-agency initiative by International Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Education, Singapore Economic Development Board, Singapore Tourism Board and SPRING Singapore (Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board).

“One of our strong points in our education system is that courses are designed to prepare the students to join the work force. At the end of the day, these students are to join the workforce. We live in a very globalize world, students are also prepared to be globalize.” Said Magdalene.

“I spoke to some principals of schools in China; they felt that their students are more motivated to learn English when they see children in Singapore who are Chinese can master English. Likewise, our own children in Singapore are inspired to learn Chinese language when they see China students mastering the language.” Said Dane Lim Cher-Wee, Manager Basic Education and Higher Learning Department, Education Services Division of Singapore Tourism Board.

Magdalene said that opening Singapore universities and polytechnics and even high schools for international students is not purely an economic gain. It opened Singapore students to enrich their learning with the opportunity to learn together with international students. This offers a board-based curriculum and global perspective. She added scholarships are also made available to international students.

At present there are 66,000 foreign students in Singapore. The figure does not include the children of expatrates in Singapore. Public schools are allowed to take foreign students up to 20% of its total students’ population.

International Link-Up

Education is important to give Singaporeans the skills and training for a new economy. It also helps Singaporeans from poor backgrounds break out of poverty, thus said Mr Lee, the Prime Minister of Singapore.

Universities and polytechnics have linked up with foreign universities to run degree programme in niche areas.

There is a new initiative to give students more overseas exposure in the coming years. This would prime students to compete globally.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic has an early childhood education program with which it hopes to interest institutions such as Wheelock College in Boston, known for its degree course in the area.

Nanyang Polytechnic, which has run a digital media design course wince the mid-90s, is eyeing American institutions such as the DigiPen Institute near Seatle.

These entire joint programs are aiming to give the students that global experience in order to compete globally.

Learning Hub

Singapore is bringing life back to Bras Besah and Bugis area. Many of the old institutions were there in the 60s and 70s. This included St. Joseph’s Institution, Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, St. Nicholas, St. Anthony’s, Raffles Girls’ Primary School, Raffles Institution and Catholic High.

Now, educational institutions are moving back to this area. Singapore Management University, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, the new National Library are there. La-Salle-SIA College of the Arts would be up next year. Another new arts school would also be built.

“Changes have begun. It’s very different now. Students hang out in cafes, shops, new National Library. Some shops at the area have changed to give it a more student lifestyle.” said Dane Lim Cher-Wee, Manager Basic Education and Higher Learning Department, Education Services Division of Singapore Tourism Board.

The Prime Minister Mr Lee said in the national rally, “It’s something new and exciting but also something old and nostalgic about Bras Basah, Bugis.”

The Prime Minister’s school, Catholic High was also there. He related that the students used to haunt the whole area after and before classes.

“We will make this again into a lively arts, cultural, learning and entertainment centre in the middle of the city. And a new generation of Singaporeans are now forming memories and sentimental links and attachments to the new landscape, just as the older generation did, and it will be one of the things which will anchor Singaporeans in Singapore.” Promised Mr Lee to its citizens.

Education System

The basic education and higher learning in Singapore comprises of preparatory education, which is from kindergarten to “A” level; certificate/diploma education and tertiary education comprising of undergraduates and postgraduates.

There are three local universities, namely, National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University.

Singapore has an Education Excellence Framework that focuses on academic excellence, organisational excellence and excellence in student protection and welfare practices.

Liew Shang Zhao, ASEAN Secondary Scholarship student who studies in Raffles Institution Secondary 3 in 2003 left words at Singapore Education website –

“Since my arrival …. I must say Singapore education lives up to its name. I made the choice to further my education in Singapore because I viewed it as a stepping-stone to the working world … Boarding provides us with the opportunity to get to know and form close friendships with people of many different background….”

Support Services for international students

The Education Services of Singapore Tourism Board provides information and support services for international students. It also facilitates a conducive environment for international students to learn, love and play in Singapore. Some of the activities organized include road shows, education fairs and seminars in overseas market to raise awareness of Singapore education.

“Our work with schools is not purely promotional but it is engaging friends overseas. Engaging here means working with schools through road shows and information centres. In this way, we are able to bring across what Singapore has to offer in the most unbiased way possible. This also includes students exchange program.” Said Dane.

When asked on how Singapore Tourism Board and Ministry of Education work together in promoting education in Singapore globally, Magdalene said,

“Singapore Tourism Board provides a platform for the educational institutions to participate. We either organize our own road shows or participate in the education fair organized by the private sections.”

Scholarships available

There are a number of scholarships available for all nationalities. Scholarships are generally awarded to students based on academic merit and performance during the interview.

A few of the scholarships are –

NUS Graduate Scholarship for ASEAN Nationals, which finances the pursuits of a graduate degree by full-time coursework. Only nationals of a member country of ASEAN (except Singapore) are eligible to apply for the scholarships.

The Temasek Scholarship is available to all ASEAN nationals or permanent residents (except Singapore) and other Southeast Asian nations.

Other corporate scholarships include, DBS Scholarship, OCBC Scholarship, PSA Corp Scholarship.

Room of Improvement

Will the intake of foreign students deprive the opportunity of Singaporeans in universities? Magdalene said with a firm no.

“The government will ensure that that this does not happen. The inclusion of international students is a win-win situation. It is good for our own students, international students and also for the economic gain.”

Magdalene stressed that there is no way that we can learn of another countries better than learning in an environment where there is a mix of international students.

“They are training people to be hands-on, minds-on and hearts-on. So, you develop a complete rounded person.” Said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong praising the educational institutions.

Next: NUS High School of Science and Maths. Read about the “Malaysian Star”, Carmen Cheh who shines in Singapore..

Friday, September 02, 2005

Shared Dreams

When I was in Singapore two weeks ago, I watched the live telecast of its Prime Minister's national day rally. He shared with his people - the vibrant global city called home. He retold the story by a young Singaporeans in the book, "Today in the History of Singapore" through the eyes of young Singaporeans. Thousands of pupils have contributed to the book. Wong Yun Ting, aged 8 was quoted by the Prime Minister to have told this - "9 August is the day our nation got its independdenc ein 1965. Our forefathers struggled to build our nation and to provide us with a bright future. I feel very happy and proud to be born as a National Day baby."

The next volume, "Tomorrow in History" is for all young Singaporeans to write. ‘Young Singaporeans’ to include children, youths, young adults, and all adults – even those greying – who are young at heart. The Prime Minister said, "Together, we will continue to tell a special Singapore story."

On Merdeka Day, my little boy shared on what Merdeka means to him. He says he is a little star. Desi remarked that he is a shining star. Dobbs remarked that he is going to be an excellent writer. Auntie Ming said he is marvellous.

Indeed, it takes involvement of people, people like you and me, people like Desi and Dobbs and Auntie Ming to achieve a significant dream.

Last night, the small star, the future excellent writer, the marvellous one asked me to wake him up at 5:30 am. I woke him up at 5:30 am. He took a shower. I fixed his breakfast. After shower, he put on his school uniform. He held tight to a sheet of paper at the table. I took a peek. Printed on it are two Chinese essays. One of them, he has to memorize and write it down "for" his teacher today.

Naturally, he looked sad. The star is not shinning. His little mind must be wondering - what's this auntie Dobbs trying to tell me, I am going to be an excellent writer? No way. I am far from Auntie Ming's Marvellous! I can't even memorize this essay about "My Dog". My dog is brown in colour, why should I say my dog is white, whitter than snow?

The little mind doubts too - when mummy says write your own story, how much can I trust her? Every time, I write my own story, my Chinese teacher gives me only 50 marks. When my classmate memorizes the essay given by the teacher, he gets 90 marks. Can I trust mummy?

Well, such is the stress of the star. He wants to be original, but the teacher wants him to be a copy. He wants to use his creativity, but the teacher wants him to follow others' creativity.

I am putting a photograph of the leaders of my State, Sarawak shouting "Merdeka" in one accord on National Day Parade in Kapit. True enough, they are in one accord. But, they are certainly not involved in the dreams of my small star wanting to be orginal, not dying a copy.

Tomorrow I am going to post the first part of the 5-part series on Education in Singapore. I have no wish to praise the education system in this "sing-land". I write what I see. But, yes, one thing for sure, their system allows the young ones to be original in many ways.