Yan's Corner - In Touch

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I'll Be With You

It’s one of the great privileges of being a journalist to participate with people in their wedding. Last night I attended the wedding reception of the youngest daughter of Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, the Second Finance Minister and Minister of Urban Development and Tourism Sarawak. Sharon is married to her University mate, Andrew from Sing-Land. They were married in Sydney on 18th Feb. Tonight’s reception thrown for over thousand guests saw the love of parents, siblings, community and political leaders!

Well, these people are all beside you, not in front of you or behind you, they are just walking side by side with you.

We are all familiar with this saying,

Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Eight members of the visionary team of Sibu (one of them is the bride’s father) sang this popular Chinese oldie, “I am beside you” (wu zai ni zuo yew). This is their “trademark” song during any function, whether it’s a political or community, and even at wedding. They have surely improved!

The bride’s mother, a very graceful woman formerly a school teacher, spoke. She spoke during all her children’s weddings offering advices to the newly wed. Besides, love, care, respect, falling in love over and over again with the spouse, and be there always meeting the spouse’s needs, Datin Sri Leong has never failed to advise her children to seek guidance from above, the Lord of their lives.

Sharon and Andrew also spoke thanking parents, relatives and friends in shaping them what they are today. I like it when Sharon said that they would not take it lightly to serve God as husband and wife!

Moses said the reason for marriage is that it is God’s work, God’s gift of a woman or man in your life, the possibility of entering into this creative work of God, of something that is unique and marvelous and that will display His character.

How wise is the bride to say that she and her significant other will not take it lightly to serve God as husband and wife!

My “journalistic observation” and knowing the parents of Sharon tell me that Sharon and Andrew are given the very good gift from God – fine parents. Children who have fine parents will learn from their parents – their honesty, humility, courage, hard work and love for God. They are to take from their parents what made them fine people and make it their own.

It’s such marvelous gift! They really have much to be thankful for.

As I was carried away by the melody of the eight politicians in “I’m by your side”, I said a little prayer for Sharon and Andrew –

Now that you are married, you don’t have the presence of God mediated to you through your parents anymore, you are in God’s presence yourself. You are not children dependent on your parents anymore, you are children of God, directly learning from your Heavenly Father. May you be united and joined investing your best emotional energy in strengthening the relationship over a lifetime. Father, draw them nearer to each other and nearer to You each day ...

With the assurances of the eight politicians in “I’m by your side”, I also wish a little wish –

Let your song shines before the people of Sibu, that they may see your good deeds and as a source of hope! Let your song speaks of life lived with real honesty, life that is open, joyful, energetic, enthusiastic, fair and hopeful. Let the song be not only a description of marriage, but a description of community life!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Day to Remember

Chris went to a dentist today and had one milk tooth pulled to give way to the permanent tooth that is cutting through the gum. I like to tease him that his milk teeth are jealous teeth who would not give way for the permanent ones. He reasons that because his permanent teeth learn the hard way to grow, so they are all aligned nicely.

Every time when he has a tooth extracted, we could tell stories after stories about “teeth”. Tonight he asked whether I remember when grandma (my mother) was very sick, I took the “teeth” (dentures) out of grandma’s mouth and brushed? He said he was then bewildered how grandma’s teeth could be taken out and put back. Chris was then five years old.

Talking of my mother always brings tears, and more tears. I said I could not quite remember and asked how he could remember that?

Chris said,

These are precious memories. If you choose to remember, you will remember.

We live in an era that is famous for 24-year-old self-made billionaires (this I borrow from mGf, Desi). We live in a time in which technology is outmoded six months after it is discovered. (this I hear from my significant other whenever I say I would like to buy a new gadget). Things happen very quickly. We also forget things very fast.

Perhaps, we choose not to remember.

Today I choose to remember the principle of the top management of NST for not putting the responsibility on one staff only.

Today I choose to remember the grace and kindness of our Prime Minister is closing the case of NST without “punishing” them for “sins not committed”.

As written in my earlier post, In the Light of His Glory and Grace, I repeat,

All the things on earth grow strangely dim in the light of the principle of NST’s top management.

All the things on earth grow strangely dim in the light of the grace and kindness of our Prime Minister….

These are precious memories that take a long, long time to come by...

Friday, February 24, 2006

There's a Camel in My Soup

I am way behind in my daily reading of "The One Year Bible". Going along with me is another companion, One Year Book of Praying Through The Bible".

NST greets its readers with "We Apologise. Unreservedly" today.

I thought, NST owes me no apology.

Praying Through The Bible greets me with this devotion, "There's a Camel in My Soup". Today, if you think NST owes you an apology, or someone owes you an apology, read on ...

Picture this: We reach over to pick a gnat out of our brother's soup only to discover a large, hairy camel sitting in our own bowl. When we lean in to get a better look, he spits in our eye. It's a camel, all right! Jesus paints a humorous picture of a serious subject - legalism. It's so easy to find fault with a brother or sister. After all, it's right there where we can see it plainly. Yet as we point out the gnats - those tiny, pesky faults in others that hover and annoy us - we have shortcoming the size of camels in our own lives!

When it comes to judging, what we need to do is offer our own hearts and minds daily to God so that his grace can redeem our failures. Then we can rejoice in our victories because we know that they are gifts from him. Even when we feel as if we have "arrived" and no longer have any imperfections, we still cannot judge our brother, for now we have a new camel in our soup - pride. Take a moment today and ask God to help you take your eyes off of others' fault and to help you examine your own heart.

When one knows oneself well, one is not desirious of looking into the faults of others.
- John Moschus

(taken from One Year Book of Praying Through The Bible, devotion for Feb 4)


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Why?

Someone has said,

There are only two kinds of speakers. One is those who have something to say. The other is those who have to say something.

Very often, we are the latter kind.

Life presents some riddles to us. Different people take these riddles differently. But, most of us will ask, “Why?” first. After the “why”, some will remain silent, some will express them through words, some will express their thoughts through cartoons, some will seek advices, some will …. Just having to say something as self-defence.


Why? The child with the asking eyes... (pix inserted)

Have you ever been pestered by children with the unending “why”? My two children are “problem” children with unending “why”. When Rachel was small (reason for not using “young” is because she still is), if she was not satisfied with the answers to her “whys”, she would experiment it herself. She would mix and mess until she found the answers. Very often, she ended up in trouble. Chris would dismantle and trying to fix back. He ended up in more confusion.

I am not a wise mother as to be able to give answers to all their “whys”. But, I know there are books like encyclopedia and Bible that would answer most of their “whys”.

Rachel and Chris are “wise” children. They often readily admit they are wrong and will never do that again (but usually with a turn of head, they would start mixing, messing, dismantling to answer their “whys”). They know that any self-defense put up in their wrongdoings would end them up in more trouble and they would not be expecting any advocate to stand in for them.

Wisdom is the answer to the question, Why? What is wisdom? Someone has described wisdom as the right use of knowledge. It is how to use things in such a way as to make things work out rightly. That is what we lack. We can do all kind of things with knowledge but we do not do the right things with it. We all lack wisdom. We have lots of knowledge but have no wisdom on how to use it.

Where can you find wisdom? The Bible! Read this one,

And he said to man,
Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
And to depart from evil is understanding. (Job 28:28)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! When life presents us with troubles, the first reaction is always to defend ourselves or to find excuses, like what Job was doing. We ask, “Why should this happen to me?” What we mean is “we have not done anything wrong, we are perfectly professional, we have contributed much to the industry we are in or to human kind.....” We have learnt from the book of Job that “as long as a man is defending himself, God will not defend him”.

Jesus taught us at the Sermon of the Mount, “Blessed is the man who is poor in spirit”. When we shut up and stop defending and justifying ourselves, God will rise to take up our cause.

That reminds me of what Martin Luther had to say when he was called before the head of the Holy Roman Empire at the cathedral at Worms, Germany. Martin Luther was charged with heresy, on trial for his life. All the dignitaries, the nobles of the empire and the princes of the Catholic Church were there.

Martin Luther said,

Unless I am shown by the testimony of Scripture and by evident reasoning, unless I am overcome by means of the scriptural passages that I have cited, and unless my conscience is taken captive by the words of God, I am neither able nor willing to revoke anything, since to act against one’s conscience is neither safe nor honest. Here I stand; God help me, I cannot do otherwise, Amen!

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

Wisdom has two parts
Having a lot to say
Not saying it.

May we all, especially journalists, has the wisdom that comes not from our own knowledge, but the fear of the Lord.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Life in the Fast Lane

I boarded 7 am flight to Miri yesterday morning reaching Miri city at 8 am. I met 12 journalists, each 15 minutes. By 12:15 pm I was on the plane back to Sibu. I have to catch this flight so that I could still have a brief stop at Bintulu airport for another journalist.

Last night, little Chris had a bad nose bleeding. It was a bad one because the bleeding was profuse and lasted for quite a while. Quite a while means long enough to get mummy’s attention while she was working on the report after the day’s trip. Quite a while means long enough to turn Chris’ calm and cool to fear and tears.

In between tears and sobs, Chris said, “Mummy, I want to “burn”* my nose. I am scared one day when my nose bleed and you are not home. The nose bleed is like your work that never ends. It comes so fast and it is like you that run so fast.” (*Chris’ ENT doctor’s term in order to stop his bleeding)

I have to confess that I am addicted to speed. I have never thought that young Chris would think the pace of my life is a “frantic” one likened to his nose bleeding that comes fast. I have taken the pace of my life as nothing wrong and even biblical. Jeremiah admonishes us these words:

“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?”

Paul asks in the letter to the Corinthians:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may attain it.

Paul also says,

“Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”

Even the Psalmist says,

“A strong man who runs the course with joy.”

What’s wrong? Deep down, I know these are just “comforts” that I use to tell myself that “it’s okay to be fast”.

William Wordsworth writes,

“The world is too much with us;
Late and soon, getting and spending,
We lay waste our powers.
Little we see in nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon…
We are out of tune,…”

Yes, I am out of tune, I guess. I am out of touch with nature. I am out of touch with myself. I am out of touch with my loved ones. I am even out of touch of this blog!

Today, another poet William Stafford gives me an understanding of time,

Time wants to show you a different country.
It is the one that your life conceals,
the one waiting outside when curtains are drawn,
the one Grandmother hinted at in her crochet design,
the one almost found over at the edge of the music, after the sermon.

It’s the way life is, and you have it, a few years given.
You get killed now and then,
Violated in various ways. (And sometimes it’s turn about)’
You get tired of that.
Long-suffering, you wait and pray,
and maybe good things come – may be
the hurt slackens and you hardly feel it anymore.
You have a breath without pain.
It is called happiness.

It’s a balance, the taking and passing along,
The composting of where you’ve been and how people
And weather treated you.
It’s a country where you already are,
bringing where you have been.
Time offers this gift in its millions of ways,
Turning the world, moving the air, calling,
Every morning, “Here, take it, it’s yours.”

Yes, take it, it's mine - the time. Time sitting by the river? As in the picture?



Friday, February 17, 2006

Just Friends

Friends and food. Food and fellowship. Fellowship and sharing. Sharing and caring. Such are the inseparables.

Last night while rushing to meet some deadlines, a mail came in. I like the “gmail notifier” that alerts me whenever there is a new mail inbox. The alert also shows the sender. It was from a new friend helping me to get Rachel’s hearing test to be interpreted by his friend. I am described as a “good friend”. He requested his friend to reply to me as he would be away.

I am surprised. It warms my heart though. How could a new friend call me “good friend” when I have made him into an Importunate Friend?

The Importunate Friend? Jesus told the story of The Importunate Friend in Luke 11, Verses 5-7”:

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer him from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is a friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs.” (Luke 11:5-8 RSV)

A friend comes after midnight. You have nothing in your house to give him. You are driven by a deep sense of concern. You have nothing to give. You go to your friend. Others’ needs seem more demanding to us than our own needs. Will you go over to your friend’s house in the middle of the night because you are hungry. No, you will endure the hunger until the next morning.

It’s the needs of a friend that will make you to be an importunate friend knocking at the door of the neighbour at midnight!

Jesus told this parable with a link to prayer – prayer often occurs from a sense of need, and this case the request of another person for a help and bare truth that we have nothing to give. So, we rush to the Saviour NextDoor for help.

Do you know what verse come next?

Ask, it will be given you
Seek and you will find
Knock and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives
And he who seeks finds
And to him who knocks it will be opened.

It takes a friend who will be importunate to persist in knocking the NextDoor neighbour in order that his friend’s hunger needs be met.

The NextDoor Neighbour has replied that Rachel’s hearing test shows normal hearing on both sides after treatment.

I borrow this poem called “Just Friends” from MGF Desi –

Just Friends

A generous spread on a round table
Juicy suckling piglet, roast to a golden sheen
Oyster-sauced kailan, teased with Chinese wine
Healthy washed down with vintage Le Gordon Bleu

But what's all these food and drinks worth?
If not for the boisterous crowd
Of back-slapping mates dating back a decade
Growing richer and wiser with passing years
Like good old wine, Chinese or French

So cheers to hearty and sincere company
The meal might just as well be mere entree
Or one main course
Or just desserts

It matches not really the dish
What's really cooking, whetting
Is your presence, old chap.
Camaraderie
Among just
Friends

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Dimming of the Light

Don’t get caught by the cartoon. It has nothing to do with my posting today nor has it got anything to do with the title of the posting. It is just to tell you that I appreciate cartoons because they drive a point home in a very striking way. Now, this cartoon may not represent my point of view, but I appreciate the humour of it because it drives a point home. Perhaps, one of the points in this posting. Enjoy and be amused. I mean, the cartoon!

The lights of many eating places were dimmed last night. Lovers were enjoying dinner with dimmed light, or over candlelight. You know with the dimming of the light, we do not see clearly with physical eyes. I hope each and every lovers who had dined under dimmed light had a new understanding of their mates today. It is logical that when physical eyes are not functioning well, the eyes of the heart perform better!

My significant other suggested to dine out too. But, I have an appointment with God every Tuesday - leading a Bible Study Group. My members have not indicated that they are having candlelight dinner. The light was not dimmed during the study. As always, we all came with expectations. Yesterday, I went with a heavy heart, eyes blurred, ears unclear. The only thing I had was a teachable spirit.

Since the ear squat incident in the country, I have been associated with “ear”. First, it’s Chris’ ear infection. Then, it’s Rachel’s mild hearing loss. I have been seeing the one and only Ear, Nose and Throat doctor here for the past three months, spending hefty thousand ringgit for consultation and medication.

Yet, the matters have not come to a rest. Chris still complains of ear pain. He is still on allergy treatment. Rachel’s case is new and I have to wait for another two weeks for hearing test or audiogram.

Ear, ear, ear! It no doubt loaded my mind with many small voices, some from the shepherd, some from the wolf.

“He who has an ear, let him hear ….” As I led in the opening prayer last night, I heard many words bubbled from my months having an ear in them. Those words are –

Heart - Learn
Hear - Clear
Fear - Bear

I remember when I studied Chinese or English Literature during the secondary school days, the eyes and the ears are often used as metaphors for an inner comprehension of the mind.

We all know the physical functions of eyes and ears. They are designed to see and to hear. Sometimes when they malfunction we provide aids for them, as glasses for the eyes and hearing aids for the ears.

But the souls has organs of sight and of hearing as well. When we said “we have understood what have been said” or when we heeded an advice or we respond to a request, we are actually hearing and seeing with our mind and emotions, the soul.

I do not know how much you grasp what I am trying to say about hearing and seeing with our soul due to my limitation in expression. If you don’t get this, or you don’t know quite what it is, you may like to say, “It does not sound right to me,”

There are many things happening around us that we do not understand. Certain words are said with hidden meanings. We are involved in a situation that we do not understand.

That is when you hear but you do not hear.
You see when you do not see.

There are times when we gain flashes of insight and thus have a full understanding of a truth in relationship to other truths.

This is when the eyes and ears of your spirit are working.

There are three levels here –

Seeing (with their physical eyes) they do not see (with their mental eyes).
hearing (with their physical ears) they do nto hear (with their mental ears),
nor do they understand (it does not reach the level of the spirit where they grasp the full meaning of the truth in relationship to themselves and the world around them)

When the light dimmed, use the ears and eyes of the soul to understand. You do not have to fear or bear the burden - for the Lord bears it all!

Yes, I am leaving the “ear” problems to the Lord. That’s the new understanding I gained as the light dimmed last night.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Be My V.A.L.E.N.T.I.N.E - all year long!


The first time I “celebrated” Valentine’s Day was when Rachel suggested that daddy and mummy went for a Valentine Candle Light dinner while she looked after Chris. She was then 6 and Chris, 1.

We did not go for a candle light dinner. My significant other bought some chocolates. Chocolates has never been my favourite, so the father-daughter team finished all. For that thoughtful suggestion of a romantic night for daddy and mummy, Rachel was rewarded with chocolates. And from that day on, she receives chocolate surprises now and then from daddy.

Over the years, my significant other would buy some gifts to show his love and affection.

One year, he went to England and came back with two skirts and two blouses from St. Michael. It was the first time he bought clothes for me. It turned out to be disastrous. He bought three sizes bigger. While I was shocked, I also thought that he would not mind me growing another three sizes bigger even when I am already over-sized. That warmed my heart. I still keep the clothes. Perhaps one day, I would be able to wear that!

Another year, he went to England again and came back with shoes also two sizes bigger. It took me quite a while to find the Cinderella to fit the shoes and gave them away. It was not cheap. I could not keep the leather shoes hoping that one day my feet would grow bigger! I jokingly told him that it was lucky that I could not wear or I would have "walked out of his life"!

Other years, he bought pearl necklace, chocolates, candies …. but no roses yet. Other times if he did not pick up any present, he would give a hug. Then the two children would always go, “Yeah! Me next!”

Such were the fun of Valentine's Day. However, I am romantically impaired. All the roses around the feet are transparent. I have never been attracted to them. All the candlelight set dinners are too expensive to waste money during valentine day. My gifts are limited to books, cards, CDs, cross-stitches I made and home-cook food. I am more a practical person.

I do not like to stick to routine. Or perhaps, I always do the opposite. When everyone is having new clothes for new year, I wear the usual clothes. When everyone is going for new hairstyle, there has never been a time that I change to a new hairstyle for new year. So, giving gifts on Valentine’s Day is definitely out of question.

What’s so special about Valentine’s Day this year then?

Yeah, it’s my blog’s anniversary!

It was last year I started this blog. I remember writing about a young charming journalist believing that the young bud in a vase on her table would blossom. Even when her colleague laughed at her that no beautiful flower would come from the bud, she insisted that within every bud there is a rose.

I do not know whether the young bud on her table blossomed later. But, over the year, this young journalist blossoms! She has won many prizes over the past year. She has written many delightful and touching articles that bring out the good in everything she has explored. The rose within her has blossomed many times over.

There is this journalist who suffers from insomnia for many years. For several years, he could never attend my morning meeting. Over the year, with much coaching and encouragement, he has been making presence at my morning meeting regularly and contributing ideas. He has made tremendous improvement in his work winning many prizes.

Yes, within every soul there is a rose … there is always something good in store in someone. It only takes love and living to nurture that good and bring it out.

Valentine’s Day is about living together in the Lord in a loving marriage relationship for husbands and wives. It is about a loving lifestyle of intentional, sacrificial commitment to each other, whether lovers, husbands and wives, friends and community members. It is also about loving oneself, nurturing the good in oneself.

C.S. Lewis talks about the event of falling in love in his book, The Four Loves. He says,

In one high bound it has overleaped the massive all of our selfhood; it has made appetite itself altruistic, tossed personal happiness aside as a triviality and planted the interests of another in the centre of our being.

That really means love another person. It’s more than roses, chocolates, cakes, candlelight dinner, diamonds ….. It’s more than the ability to accept the oversized dresses and shoes with a laugh.

We live in days of tremendous personal isolation, insulation and little tolerance. Demonstrations of affection are sadly lacking. The danger most of us face is showing too little rather than too much affection and have no commitment in any relationship.

Loving involves much more than making them happy on Valentine’s Day, it involves a commitment that can surmount any hurdle, a commitment that can survive any sorrow, a commitment that will last forever. Husbands and wives who give gifts to each on Valentine’s Day but are untrue to one another would not be people who know what love is all about. Husband and wives who are good at bringing momentary happiness but fail to stay committed over the long term would not be people who know what love is really all about.

Remember how C.S. Lewis defined what it means to fall in love? It is relationship marked by the kind of selflessness, altruism and concern for others. Such relationships are all humanly impossible.

Yes, it is humanly impossible apart from the grace of God at work among us, changing us.

Be my V. A. L. E. T. I. N. E, all year long.

V for my venture into the blogging world trying to make some sense in

every day’s life issues

A for the abundance of blessings from above and from friends

in this blogging world

L for the laughter, love and labour

E for the encouragement throughout the year

N for the nurture

T for the time spent exchanging conversations

I for making me feel important

N for meeting my every needs

E for empathizing with me in many situations

From your Valentine!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Thank you, thank you

I have meant to come back 144 hours after the last post. I have to come back early because I have friends to thank –

Thank you, Dobbs, for the link to some nice templates. Of all, I like the template you use best. So, I have to take the second best!

Thanks, anonymous for the reminder – Look at our own heart. We are all sinners.

Thanks, a lump of clay, for adding weight to what we are to do – to turn our eyes upon Jesus for only when we do this, we shall find peace amidst the turmoil in this world. How true!

Thanks, Desi, the never failing one, for the nice compliments to big-hearted Chris. Indeed, he is.

Thanks, joe.psc, for seeing the point of my stories of boss with strong principles. If we each play our role well, will the world be a better place to live in? Will there be more tolerance?

Thanks, Angus, it really should start from us, we are the Churches. Churches are made of people. If we should point fingers at someone, the first one we should point is ourselves!

I have lost count of the number of hours I have stopped blogging. So, forget about the 144 hours! I shall be back on Valentine Day, yes, it’s the first anniversary of my blog! I hope to have something delightful then!

Friday, February 10, 2006

In the light of His glory and grace

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk to you again.

This accurately describes the way I feel for the past 144 hours (counting 6 days).

Quite sometime ago, I begged to differ from Desi on this song, “Sound of Silence” written by Simon and Garfunkel in the 70’s.

Living in darkness – I am not. But I feel all the things of the earth grow strangely dim!

Feb 4 - I read the Sarawak Tribune publishing the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in its World News page to illustrate a story of the reaction of the world to the caricatures. I thought what an “insensible” mistake. I was worried.

All the things of the earth around me grew strangely dim!

Feb 5 – I read the “Notification” in the Sarawak Tribune regretting the publication of the caricatures and informed the public that the editor on duty has voluntarily resigned.

All the things of the earth grew strangely dim!

Feb 6 – Another “Notification” was put up in the newspaper indicating that only one person was responsible for the publication of the caricatures. Other newspapers reported that the Group Editor of Sarawak Tribune was served a show-cause letter by the Internal Security Ministry for the publication of the caricatures.

All the things of the earth grew strangely dim!

Feb 7 - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ticks off the Sarawak Tribune for publishing the controversial caricatures. He says the newspaper had been irresponsible.- The Sarawak Press and it editorial committee issue another apology, saying they are very sorry for any damage or hurt caused to the Muslim community.- Senior Tribune officials are summoned to the Internal Security Ministry in Putrajaya for a meeting with Deputy Minister Datuk Noh Omar.- After meeting Noh, Tribune editorial adviser Datuk Idris Buang accuses Melanyi of "inserting the caricatures right before the crucial time". Melanyi counters that the page had been cleared by his superior.
(I lifted the events of the day Feb 7 above from NST)

All the things of the earth grew strangely dim!

Feb 8 – NST reported that the Cabinet decided to suspend the newspaper indefinitely.

All the things of the earth grew strangely dim!

Feb 9 – The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the permit of The Sarawak Press Sdn Bhd, the publisher of the Sarawak Tribune newspaper, has been suspended immediately until further notice.

All the things of the earth grew strangely dim!

Having been in journalism for almost three decades, there were many times when the world grew dim, but very, very soon light came back.

At the age of 17 going on 18, I stepped into the Borneo Post’s office one evening. I met the boss. The big boss gave me a piece of news to be translated into English. I did it with not much difficulty. I remember the boss sent the translated news to the editor to assess. I was asked to report work the next day. I reported to work without even asking the pay.

I made mistakes too. The first mistake I made was misspelling the name of a prominent businessman in town. The “U” was replaced by “A”. It turned out disastrous. That businessman’s name read exactly as the “unspeakable male sex organ”. My superior took the responsibility to apologize to this businessman. My identity was not revealed despite the strong demand and threat of canceling all his advertisement orders. My boss stood by his professional ethics and principle. He protected me.

On that day, all the things of the earth grew strangely dim in the light of my boss’ principle!

One fine day, my newspaper suddenly decided to “appoint” a minister to develop “communism”. The blunder was, the Minister of Agriculture and Community Development was published as the Minister of Agriculture and Communist Development. At that time, communists were causing much trouble in Sarawak. Having a minister to develop communism? The seriousness and insensibility of the mistake was no lesser than the publication of the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad. My boss took it all. He did not set the poor proof reader and made her responsible for the oversight.

On that day, all the things of the earth grew strangely dim in the light of my boss’s sympathy!

Another fateful day, one technical staff inadvertently inserted a Minister’s photo into an obituary. The Minister concerned accepted a “red packet” graciously and wiped off the grave mistake of my newspaper. My boss took it all.

On that day, all the things of the earth grew strangely dim in the light of the big heart and forgiving spirit of the Minister.

I count myself very blessed to have boss who covered all.

A few hours ago, I talked to my 10-year-old son over a cup of coffee (he has Milo) about the suspension of the licence of Sarawak Tribune. The 10-year-old asked whether he could give his new year “ang-pow” to the workers who were jobless after the closing down of the newspaper. He counted,

I have only RM1,000. Less the 10% given to God as tithing on Sunday, I only have RM900. I think it’s only enough for one person’s one month salary. How about the other 299?

The things of the earth grows strangely dim in the light of young Chris’ acts of kindness.

This is one of the Chorus I would always like to sing when I lead my Bible Study group –

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Indeed, there are still some kind souls in the world. God is still there. The things of the earth grow dim because of the light from His glory and grace!

I shall not blog for the next 144 hours again for I am going to turn my eyes to up above ….  

Sunday, February 05, 2006

From Guilty to Glory?

My parents brought up their nine children with one principle that if we ever got into a fight with other children or got into trouble in school and punished by teachers, their fingers were always pointed to us first. We have to be absolutely sure that we were innocent. Even if we seemed to be the victims, we would be reprimanded because we were involved in a fight or we had given causes for teachers to complain about our attitudes. My parents would always lecture us or punish us first. Usually, after punishing us, the cases were closed.

Because of the house rule, nine of us had never brought our parents to school or neighbours for “justice to be done”.

I remember receiving 99 strokes of rotan on my palm when I failed to learn the times table (2x2=4 and so on) or rather I could not grasp the logic of the times table then. My parents did not stormed into the school and demanded an apology for my swollen palm. But, I remember my mother rubbed some ointment on my palm.

I remember one of my brothers’ hair was cut in a “zigzag-style” because his hair was a little longer than the standard length. My late father did not demand an apology from the school. I also remember my father brought my brother to a barber’s shop for a nice hair cut.

You call it “coward-parenting-style”. But it effectively taught us to be responsible. It taught us to always to be disciplined. It taught us not to regard the discipline of the parents lightly. It taught us to always get the subject correct.

My parents had not been “learned” enough to tell us in words the rationale behind their principle. My parents knew that law controlled and regulated and changed the actions of their children. My parents showed enough love and grace to control and change the attitudes of their children from within. My parents knew that no law or legislation or punishment could change the attitudes. They knew no one can control actions wholly by love and grace. Law and grace should work together.

My parents had not been “learnt” enough to put into words their objectives of punishments. They punished because they wanted to create a sense of seriousness in the one being punished. They wanted the one being punished to distinguish right from wrong. They wanted to shape the conscience of their children. They wanted to establish justice. They wanted their children to know that they were not alone in life. Any of their misdeeds affect not only themselves but others as well.

Indeed, we are not alone in life. We live in a community. Our misdeeds affect not only ourselves but others as well. If we are not punished for wrongdoing, we are instilling the idea in our next generation’s hearts that we don’t really need to care about the difference between right and wrong, and that there is no justice.

But, there are many important values in justice. By taking away justice, it also means we are eliminating mercy and grace.

In First Chronicles 21, David sinned. In contrary to the Word of God, and even against the advice of his generals, David numbered Israel to see how many soldiers he had. God did not want David to trust in numbers. But, David was disobedient. Realizing that he had done wrong, David confessed it to God.

God said to him, "Look, I'll give you a choice of three punishments: either you will experience three years of famine in the land, or three months of defeat at the hands of your enemies, or three days of pestilence among the people within the land. Which do you want?" (1 Chronicles 21:10-12). That is an interesting account, because it shows that God allowed David to enter into the choice of his punishment, understanding that this would deter him from ever doing anything like that again. But David made a wise choice. He said, "Lord, I can't choose; you choose."

I discussed with my 10-year-old son on the issue of 11 “grandfathers” arrested for gambling and the police had their heads shaved. Six of the 11 grandfathers lodged police reports alleging inhuman treatment.

My 10-year-old asked, “If I come home one day with my head shaved by the police because of illegal gambling, what is more important to you? My soul or my hair?”

The 10-year-old gets the subject correct.

When asked what punishment would be appropriate for such wrongdoing, the 10-year-old knew he could not choose, “I can’t choose, mummy. It’s up to you.”

Have we changed the subject by questioning “To shave or not to shave”? Have we chosen to glorify these 11 “grandfathers” with their guilt? Would the grandfathers choose what punishment they want?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Beyond the Mask

I have been disturbed by the unexpected unmask of a Church leader at the pulpit on the first day of Chinese New Year. What were rightfully my words were claimed by the leaders as hers. At that spur of moment, I even took a de-tour and left the Church through the side door to avoid shaking hands with the leader.

Tension built up yesterday while in a conversation with a church friend. I picked up that the same lie was repeated at the Chinese New Year visitations by the leader.

I was in total shock and disbelief that a leader can be so egotist, and being a boaster who claimed things she had no right to claim. I was restless last night. I told a learned friend this early morn and asked whether I had made our leader to be larger than life, to be something more than human.

He wrote,

The essence as you have put it – is that leaders are as human as us and as fallible as well and things like this can happen to them as much as any other human being. We are capable of doing this as well (some more than others).

Skipping the lunch, I pondered over the issue. Leaders or pastors – have I made them to be larger than life? Have I made them to somebody more than human?

I remember reading a young pastor saying this,

Jesus was so human that nobody would believe he was God,
But we pastors are so godlike that nobody thinks we are human.

Looking back at my working life –

How many scripts have I written for the boss?
How many press statements have I prepared for the boss or clients?
How many scripts have I written for friends?
How many messages have I written for the boss for magazines, newspapers?

Didn’t they claim all the words to be theirs? Didn’t they claim all the ideas were theirs? Yet, I have never felt that they have infringed my copyright. Yet, I have never felt that due credit has not been given too me.

I have divinized the leader or pastor!

Continue with what my learned friend said,

Perhaps she had a misconception or a mistaken idea of the whole event even – it will be important to know more about her own views and thoughts. Do not try to suppress the issue or it will resurface again in the most inappropriate time.

Yes indeed, there is no credit I can claim. It is the grace of God at work in me.

This little article has been kept in my file for a long, long time. I do not know who is the author, but it makes sense to me today. Indulge me. You will be amazed by what's beyond the masks people wear.

Look beyond the masks people wear . . .
A 91-year-old woman died after living a very long dignified life. When she met God, she asked Him something that had really bothered her for a very long time. "If Man was created in God's image, and if all men are created equal, why do people treat each other so badly?"

God replied that each person who enters our life has a unique lesson to teach us. It is only through these lessons that we learn about life, people and our relationships with God.

This confused the woman, so God began to explain "When someone lies to you, it teaches you that things are not always what they seem. The truth is often far beneath the surface. Look beyond the masks people wear if you want to know what is in their hearts. Remove your own masks to let people know who you really are.

When someone steals from you it teaches you that nothing is forever. Always appreciate what you have. You never know when you might lose it. Never take your friends or family for granted, because today and sometimes only this very moment is the only guarantee you may have.

When someone inflicts injury upon you, it teaches you that the human state is a very fragile one. Protect and take care of your body as best as you can, it's the one thing that you are sure to have forever.

When someone mocks you, it teaches you that no two people are alike. When you encounter people who are different from you, do not judge them by how they look or act, instead base it on the contents of what is in their hearts.

When someone breaks your heart, it teaches you that loving someone does not always mean that the person will love you back. But don't turn your back on love, because when you find the right person, the joy that one person brings you will make up for all of your past hurts. Times a thousand fold.

When someone holds a grudge against you, it teaches you that everyone makes mistakes. When you are wronged, the most virtuous thing you can do is forgive the offender without pretense. Forgiving those who have hurt us is often the most difficult and painful of life's experiences, but it is also the most courageous thing a person can do.

When a loved one is unfaithful to you, it teaches you that resisting temptation is Man's greatest challenge. Be vigilant in your resistance against all temptations. By doing so, you will be rewarded with an enduring sense of satisfaction far greater than the temporary pleasure by which you were tempted.

When someone cheats you, it teaches you that greed is the root of all evil. Aspire to make your dreams come true, no matter how lofty they may be. Do not feel guilty about your success, but never let an obsession with achieving your goals lead you to engage in malevolent activities.

When someone ridicules you, it teaches you that nobody is perfect. Accept people for their merits and be tolerant of their flaws. Do not ever reject someone for imperfections over which they have no control."

Upon hearing the Lord's wisdom, the old woman became concerned that there are no lessons to be learned from man's good deeds.God replied that Man's capacity to love is the greatest gift He has. At the root of kindness and love, and each act of love also teaches us a lesson.

The woman's curiosity deepened.

God, once again began to explain "When someone loves us, it teaches us love, kindness, charity, honesty, humility, forgiveness, acceptance, and all of these can counteract all the evil in the world. For every good deed, there is one evil deed. Man alone has the power to control the balance between good and evil, but because the lessons of love are not taught often enough, the power is too often abused.

When you enter someone's life, whether by plan, chance or coincidence, consider what your lesson will be. Will you teach love or a harsh lesson of reality? When you die, will your life have resulted in more loving or more hurting? More comfort or more pain? More joy or more sadness? Each one of us has the power over the balance of the love in the world. Use it wisely!"

Don't miss an opportunity to nudge the world's scale in the right direction!