How should we judge a government?

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience - Mark Twain

Why we should be against censorship in a court of law: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no
responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options
I suggest government... because nobody has ever been caught.

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?
Corruption is so prevalent it affects English language?

When there's too much dirt...

When there's too much dirt...
We need better tools... to cover up mega corruptions.

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Emptiness in empty nest... numbed with worries

All of us are different in our makeup and outlook. So what is good for the goose may not be so for the gander.

I read with amusement, mixed with a feeling of resignation, about a mother who refused to let go of her daughter of 29, mainly because of her fears for her safety! It involves her daughter moving out of their home in Malaysia and to start work in Singapore!

Why a feeling of resignation? I find myself caught in situations where I could not prevent but had to accept my children's extended exposure to overseas education, job-related travels, and their love for travelling and adventures.

I am by nature a worrier, no thanks to my overprotective mother who lost her tenth child (my younger sister who was last in family) at the age of 4 because of kidney malfunction. I was brought up in an environment of having to 'play safe' in anything we do. No extra-curricular activities are best for her peace of mind, bearing in mind she had to look after 10 children.

When I got married, little did I know my wife (being older) became almost the sole decision-maker in most things. She is by nature domineering, and not because of being older. Anyway, one of the most significant decisions she made for our children was to send each of them to adventure camps: my son to Wilderness Adventure Camp, and my two daughters to Outward Bound School, both in Lumut, Perak. The idea was to toughen them up and train them to be able to look after themselves, and hopefully, possess some leadership qualities later in life. My decision then was 'anything but my sheltered life' and tried to hide my worries.

But one of the things I did not anticipate was the spirit of adventure instilled in them. Both my son and my youngest, daughter, had climbed Malaysia's highest, Mt. Kinabalu in Sabah, for instance. My elder daughter likes swimming and deep-sea diving. She is now somewhere near Koh Samui!

Update: Her reassuring email on Aug 6 at 8.09 pm Thai time:
'Just a quick note to say I got back to the Thai mainland safely. Now waiting for the train in a nondescript town, Chumphon. If it weren't for its pier (15 km away) that acts as a gateway to the lovely islands on the Gulf of Thailand, none of the western tourists around me, or myself for that matter, would be here. One local eatery was smart to capitalise on this niche market by distributing flyers upon our arrival from the pier, offering wifi, free bag storage and bathroom use (what more can us sleeper train passengers need?).
See you tomorrow at 1pm!!'

We were fortunate to be able to send them overseas for further education. My son, though born in UK, chose to join some friends to study in Australia instead. My elder daugther, having heard so much about our life in UK, since young, harped on her wish to study in UK only. The high costs of education there really worried me, so much so, I had to tell her younger sister to think of a cheaper place like New Zealand! But maybe it was fated, her wish to study Psychology in NZ or Australia was affected by a British education fair in KL. Basically, it was a choice of a shorter 3-year course in more expensive UK compared with a 4-year course in Australia for an Honours degree. Unlike some protective parents, all three went on their own on their first visit to Australia or UK.

To cut a long story short, for a number of years, we had to miss our children while they were having their education overseas. Instead of saving with 2+1, shortage of local students meant my son had to leave for Sydney earlier, which meant 1+2 instead. Both our daughters did their first year in UK, the most expensive place for education because of the high exchange rate at the time of 1 GBP = 7 MYR. We were relieved when elder daughter obtained scholarships for her Masters in Leuven, Luxembourg, as well as for her PhD in Maastricht, Holland. But my younger daughter wanted to study for her Masters in Aberdeen, Scotland. My son, felt left out and decided to work in UK, having found out that he is entitled to Right of Abode, which has all the privileges of a Permanent Resident. In fact, he was treated like a British when he went back to UK for the first time, having to queue with the British at the immigration at Heathrow Airport. While working in a college there, he did some part-time courses and added a marketing qualification. All these meant additional years away from home.

Though my son is now back and working in Malaysia, he has to travel overseas because of work. As I am typing this, my two daughters are out of the country, one in Bangkok and the other in Dubai. As I have told my youngest, I could not send or pick her from KLIA before when she travelled too frequently because of work (her 32-page passport actually ran out of pages a year before its 5-year expiry!), but I made an exception when she started work in Dubai because it was a new chapter. Because my elder daughter comes back less frequently, I made it a point to pick her from the airport as well as sending her off. She appreciates that very much.

As a comparison, being almost the youngest, by the time I went to UK, my father was already 64. When I was back, he was already bedridden because of stroke. When my son first left for Australia, I was only 48. But, now that I am 64, we are still experiencing the empty nest syndrome because they are all away from Batu Gajah because better job opportunities are just not found here. A local friend once commented about some children neglecting their parents. I had to remind him that if he was given a choice of his son staying with him in BG and loses out on career opportunities or working in KL or overseas with brighter career prospects, which would he choose? This is just one of the realities of life today.

Anyhow, besides the usual worry over each of their wellbeing when overseas, I had to face the difficult decision earlier, of my daughter leaving for Japan on a Rotary International exchange program for a year, just after leaving school at the age of 18! When she was in her first year in Essex University, she chose to tour Mexico during the summer holidays to learn Spanish! Spain is so much nearer to UK! Just ask an average Malaysian about Mexico, and he or she is likely to have the perception of a lawless country as portrayed in Clint Eastwood's For a few dollars more and his other spaghetti westerns. I could not worry for her but just left it to fate. Her travels included a 12-hour bus journey on her own, from one end to the other of Mexico! I was told she even took a dip in a Guatemalan lake outside Mexico border!

I could not keep track of where she travelled when in Europe but her networking must be extensive there. More recently, she decided to take up an offer as an intern with International Labour Organisation... in of all places, Bangkok! Well, she experienced martial law and curfew first hand. Instead of flying back, she also chose to travel by slow train from Bangkok to Butterworth, a 24-hour journey! As a natural worrier, I am already numbed by all kinds of their adventures over the years which would have worried me to death before. I am resigned to the fact that our children are living their own lives. Now you know why I felt amused by the mother worrying over her daughter working in Singapore?


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