Thursday, 23 September 2010

Only good but not the bad?

Not too long ago, I was told by a friend that a mutual friend of ours was on long leave because her mom was sick. It turns out her mom was having breast cancer and she had to take care of her mom.

I immediately wrote to her via blackberry messenger to tell her I felt sorry to hear what happened to her mom. She did respond but when you read the replies, somehow, one can sense she was putting a brave front. So I told her that thinks will be ok since it was an early detection.

I told her that my mom had breast cancer not too long ago. I shared with her my mom's ordeals and how she is doing fine in remission stage. She began to open up and more responsive to what I wrote. She said she felt her life froze when she found out her mom was sick and she was worried if she could move on from there. On finding out there are other sufferers who had done well, she felt somewhat relieved. But what took her as a surprise was when I told her to trust me because I too am a sufferer. She was shocked. I related to her what I went through when I was 19.

After I finished, she said she then saw me in a new light and she said I was strong because I had no bitterness. I told her it is not unusual and I am just an ordinary sufferer like everyone else. I wonder why she spoke of bitterness and she mentioned she had seen other victims of cancer who survived physically but mentally scarred with bitterness and in me, she realised I had none!

I try to playdown the whole no bitterness issue but now that I reflect on it and as I read this interesting book, "How can a good God let bad things happen?" by Mark Tabb, I had a glimpse of what Job went through when when his wife told him to stop holding fast to his integrity and curse God and die!


I read Job's reply before on numerous occasions but the impression I had this time on what he said made me realised that what we see as evil and bad, may not necessarily be so.

"You speak as one of the follish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" Job 2:10

You see, whenever I see a doctor or dentist, they always ask me to open my mouth. However, whenever I open it, they said your mouth is not wide enough! I merely smile and told them that it is so but in actual fact, there is a reason for that. That is my "scar" that reminded me that while the cancer and the side effect of radiotherapy is real (where it killed my mouth muscles and after it recovered, I could no longer open it wide). That though I recovered from cancer, the impact is still present until today.

And God intended perhaps with this "scar" I can share with a friend and encourage her that what her mom went through is common and many survives more so those who detect early. As it helps her to move on, it is indeed worthwhile that I should just count my blessings and not do as what Job's wife told Job to do.

I do not deny life is hard. But it is a blessing that I can still write this after 12 years later and that my reflection of my past changes with new experiences intertwined with the past. For if a moment of familiarity and sharing can elevate the pain of others, is it really all bad?

I guess I really like the adage, "If it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger."

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Power - Of Obsession and Datukship

It is interesting to read about power. I mean, who isn't intrigued by it? For instance, it appears that Malaysians, together with Slovakians are world Power Distance Index (PDI) champions as our society worship power (we are at 104 btw).

From home to office to everyday lives, wouldn't we want more power? Isn't it great if we can wake up to a nice breakfast served to us in our beds, our children don't cry or make a fuss but obediently do their homeworks and houseworks or order people around to clean up our streets, fill up the potholes and importantly, do our every whim and bound? You can go off and do whatever you want while others sweat, panic and worry how to meet your deadlines.

According to Mr Lim Teck Ghee in the same article:

The idea of a hierarchy is very strict in Malaysia. So whatever the boss says, goes.

Interesting indeed. Deep down, who wouldn't want power? In any society, power exist because of hierarchy. It is the order of things. You can't have everyone running around like headless chicken right? You need order and to do so, you need hierarchy. Power is implied yet very explicit when exercised.

The interesting bit is of course in relation to why other societies have low PDIs such as US (40), UK (35), France (68), Denmark (18), Japan (54) and Australia (36). It doesn't seem to be an Asian thing too considering our neighbours results - Thailand (64), Indonesia (78), Singapore (74), Hong Kong (68), China (80) and India (77). If you want to point out it is an Islam thing, well. the Arabian world only average at 80 while Pakistan (55) and Bangladesh (80).

You can read more about the index here.

To say it is mainly a developed democracy thing with everyone perceiving each other as equals as how Mr Lim postulated in the same article seems like an over-generalisation because countries like France and Japan rank not too far from Pakistan.


So we can't derive much from the index really. The only conclusion is Malaysians, compared to the rest, are power crazy. On the same note, I wonder is that why there are so many people who would chase after Datukship. I wonder too what special positions do Datuks have in our society today.

If a Datuk goes to a bank and apply for a loan (but it turns out his/her conduct of account is bad), I doubt the bank will approve the application. Even if his records is impeccible, he/she can't borrow whatever he she wants. The bank will still assess his/her credit strength together with his/her earning power and then make a decision.

Or do a Datuk, when he walks into a packed restaurant tell the restaurant manager, he/she is a Datuk, therefore he/she can get a table instantly while there is a long line of customers waiting to be seated? Maybe but not those restaurants I have been going.

Or by invoking a Datukship, will someone get a discount from buying stuff in Starhill or Bukit Bintang? If I am going to buy 10 Patek Phillipe watches with cash versus a Datuk who only say he wants to buy 1 with credit card, who do you think will get a better discount? Will a Datuk also get the same discount?

Even if a Datuk were to be chauffeured via North South Expressway, he/she pays the same rate as everyone else. Compared to a Datuk who shops in Isetan without Isetan membership card, my parking fee is waived for the first few hours in KLCC, Lot 10 and The Gardens whenever I spend above RM100 in a single receipt simply because I have Isetan membership.

I guess there are other intriguing things but I certainly don't see how useful it will be. Which is why I find MIC Youth chief call for a centralised database for false datuks and datuk sris quite useless to me.

Maybe it is useful for those who perceive a title signifies power but in today's society, isn't it more true that cash is king while the rest means nothing?