Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Leadership: I will follow my faith and not the MALAYSIAN way.

You would think that Muslims would have a better idea about what leadership means and what kind of leader they want to have, after all we have a rich history of great leaders arising from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself, to the four righteous Khalifs, even Muawiyah was a great leader and so many others including Muhammad al Fatih, Tariq bin Ziad, Sallehuddin Al-Ayubi and yet, we find ourselves being lead by not so 'great leaders' of today.

I think the main reason is because Muslims have completely lost their way in terms of their capacity to think and make judgment. We see things in flat dimensions, focusing on individual actions and personalities e.g. with the idea that an Islamic leader has to look 'Islamic' and have to be soft spoken, kind and yet, we fail to identify the shrewdness and political awareness of our great leaders in the past including our Prophet himself.

On the other hand, when it comes to political leaders, we place them upon a pedestal and feel the need to 'please' and follow without question despite their lack of sense and better judgment. The main culprit I think are those who have this infatuation with leadership positions. They are too blinded by power and prestige that they fail to realize that leadership is nothing but a responsibility. You find that when these same people whom might be struck 'lucky' to obtain that leadership position they so crave, they suddenly expect others to treat them with awe and they demand to be put upon a pedestal they way they put others upon a pedestal. Honestly, I think it is about time we put an end to ass-kisses.

I was brought up differently and I admired leaders who were themselves, before, after and when they were leaders. My Dean when I was at Medical school was Professor Adrian Eddleston, the Dean of King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry and he became the Dean of Guys, St Thomas, King's Hospital, Medical school. He was the most humble, cheerful and friendly man I have ever met. He used to sit with students in the cafeteria, asked us how we were doing and when we sat in his clinic, he would take the time to get to know us. The thing was I don't think he was faking it or doing it to gain popularity but that was just how he was. He was that type of person and most importantly, he was a good problem solver. To me, that is what makes a great leader, someone who takes responsibility and solves problems to achieve a common objective.

I have met so many humble, down to earth, just really good leaders in my working life and I know what kind of person I want to be. I am me, whether I am a leader, a mother, a wife, a daughter. I do believe however that we should give respect and take respect. We should respect everyone irrespective of their position and when I first got back to Malaysia, people said to me that I can't treat everyone the same, that Malaysia is different and that if I were to treat everyone the same then people would step all over me. They said to me that in Malaysia, leadership is hierarchal and I should not 'give face' to those under my position.

However, I refuse to be that kind of person and it wasn't because I was na├»ve or that I didn't believe them but I had a principle and to me, principle is everything. I hold on to the principle of Islam when the Prophet Muhammad said in his last sermon, he said many things but one of it was "All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action." 

I believe in equality and justice. I believe that if you want to respect people, respect everyone and if you want to treat people like shit, then treat everyone like shit. We shouldn't discriminate. I believe that there is no superiority and I hate positions, titles, royalties and anything to do with seeing oneself more superior just because one is born into a particular family. (This doesn't mean that I hate the individuals who are in positions, have titles or royalties per se but I hate the concept and those who make such a big deal about it) I believe this because our Prophet Muhammad says so and he has the authority to say so. Therefore, I believe this with all of my heart and I hold on to it and I will not change my principle just because I am put in another environment. I will not change my belief just because now I am in Malaysia and it so happens that a FEW people in Malaysia choose to be idiots.

Yes, it is true that I had one or two individuals who did step over me but that is less than 1% out of all those who did not, who valued my principles and treated me with more respect because of my stand. As for that less than 1% who did not know how to reciprocate respect, in truth they choose to be idiots. I say they choose to be because it is a choice. You can be whatever type of person. God gave us all a mind to think and we can all elevate our own thinking but sometimes, people choose to entertain their psychological trauma, low self-esteem, perhaps jealousy or inadequate personality that betrays their better judgment.

In a way, I am disappointed because despite God presenting us with the best of example (uswatun hasanah) and yet, we choose not to follow the footstep of Prophet Muhammad  and instead to have a 'jakun' mentality when it comes to leadership.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Dunkirk: at the cinema with the kids

Today we watched Dunkirk on the big screen. I got to know about the movie after reading an article on it in Time magazine. It was portrayed as one of the best movies in 2017. When I got home and told my kids about it, they too have heard about the movie from internet reviews. This time I wanted to get it right, after all this is no ordinary family Marvel movie where you go, watch and have a good time. This was a historical movie and one that is probably quite close to their hearts.

So, in preparation, the kids read up on World War 2 event at Dunkirk and the Time magazine article. It was exciting though because this was the first time we were going to watch a sort of 'war movie' in the big screen. There wasn't much dialogue but you still get that feeling of suspense and anticipation of what was going to happen next.

It was really a different sort of experience for the kids. Perhaps for a generation that is used to seeing a lot of visual effects, short sharp witty dialogues, battle scenes with lots of shootings and big explosions, you probably think this movie deserves a rating of PG 13 because it didn't really have those kind of gory scenes with blood spurting everywhere yet, it was scary for the little ones. I think It was the scene at the beach as the soldiers were lining up and waiting...just waiting for the ship to come and rescue them; Then suddenly, you hear this faint roaring sound that gets louder and louder until finally you see the silhouette of enemy jets coming towards the beach; and the sound of that engine roaring and knowing that they were going to drop bombs at any second. I think the fear of the imagination is more horrifying than graphics. My two under 14 kids were gripped with fear and perhaps it unleashed their imaginations unlike before.

It is definitely a good movie to watch. The star of the movie was not Harry Stiles but it was definitely those spitfires. I would go back and watch the movie in the big screen just to see those spitfires on air. The idea of them using real vintage spitfires for some of those shots was just incredible. Me and my younger son love planes and spitfire is just one of our favorites. I would give the movie a 5 star just for those spitfire scenes although we were hoping to see Messerschmitt but they used Heinkel instead, I supposed the German planes weren't the center of attraction for the movie.

The center of attraction was of course those civilian boats that came to the rescue for the trapped British soldiers at Dunkirk and that too captured the imagination and emotion of the audience. My two older kids definitely recognized the significance of that. In one scene when a soldier asked "Are you from Deal" we smiled because that was where we used to visit Grandpa and Jenny, and played at the stony beach. I guess it must have brought some connection to them, knowing that this event happened right on the other side of the Channel from where they would run around and throw pebbles into the sea water.

I think the movie did give an impression to the kids that war is messy, gruesome, it is not like seeing it from a F22 or B2 point of view. The reality of war is suffering and the British soldiers (and the French including those not represented in the movie like the Algerians etc...) suffered; and they were scared, frustrated and desperate to cross that bloody channel to get home.

It is a great movie. It was simple with expressions and gestures to convey emotions, not much dialogue and yet, intense and gripping. A bit of history on world war 2 and appreciation of those spitfires would make this your favorite movie of the year.

Monday, 24 July 2017

When 'Despacito' became a bad word

I don't follow all these new music and artist but sometimes I hear it from my kids. Don't get me wrong, I love music and I grew up listening to all sorts of music from classical to heavy metal. However, my favourite genre is New Wave. I have always been deep into Depeche Mode from the age of 10 years old and then, I met my husband and few other friends who introduced me to Metallica, Faith No More, Helloween and all those heavy metal bands. However, my soul resides in those 80s synthesizers like OMD, New Order, Simple minds, Thompson Twins and the ilk.

I think the first person ever influenced me in music was my mom. She was into Elvis Presley like totally big time. She had all his albums including those Christmas ones. She was also into P Ramlee and Saloma. My dad had all these old records and he was into classical music like Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Vivaldi and oldies like Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra in which I probably listened to those records more than he ever did. Then, it was my brother who introduced me to New Wave. I don't know...the sound, the beat and everything about it just captivated me. That began my love affair with British music.

So, here I am in my 40s and I keep telling my kids that "they don't make music the way they used to" and then my kids told me this hoo-haa about this Justin Bieber song "Despacito" and apparently it is so BAD that it needs to be banned in radio stations. Well, apart from the song being completely annoying and it plays in your head like worse than 'pen, pineapple, apple, pen' or 'A-yam Mee' song. I think it is overrated. The lyrics is supposed to be about 'sex' and which songs nowadays are not about sex, drugs or whinny annoying heart-broken love? We don't really get songs like, "Rasputin", "Blasphemous rumours" about lyrics that actually discusses life or historical figures anymore, do we? I mean some young people today have never even heard of the song, "Winds of change" or even know what it is about or even realize communism was not a myth!

This song "Despacito" is not even a new song. It is a remix version of the original song written by a Puerto Rican singer. So, why suddenly the big fuss just because Justin Bieber now sings part of it. Why suddenly it needs to be banned? So, I became curious and watched the original video and the Bieber remix video with my kids. Yes, we watched it all together. There was a lot of skin, showing off butt and sexy dancing. I must say the Bieber version was gross but the original Latino version had Salsa in it. I explained to my kids that it is a cultural thingy. It is part of the Latino culture that they have Salsa and yes, it is sexy but Latino have a very sexy culture. They were brought up that way. That was why they made that movie 'Lambada the forbidden dance'. I mean Puerto Rico is one of those islands near South America and South America is like, you have Brazilians and Argentinians who can swerve their hips and play great football at the same time. Obviously, if we Malays try to emulate that kind of Latino culture or to reproduce that kind of sexy Latino dance, it will look ridiculously odd and perhaps even a valid reason to produce projectile vomiting. < PIUK>

Every nation and people have their own culture. Then, we 'youtubed' some Brazilian cultural dance and watched this kind of Brazilian parade and my kids could see it themselves. I mean it was colourful with men and women wearing leaves and feathers with not much else on and my son was like "Wow! Brazil is such a cool place! It is so happening! I wanna live there"

I think the message I wanted them to get is that every nation have their own culture and we need to understand their culture and to realize that yes, it is sexy but they have a sexy culture. We don't have that kind of sexy culture. We have our own culture, in this country Malays, Chinese and Indians have our own culture so don't try to be something else. The Malays have joget, zapin, ulek mayang or wayang kulit that we should be proud of because it is artistic and beautiful. And for my kids and their half British culture, well...the British are not sexy either but they have their own traditional culture of Royal families, political satire and the British make great music since the era of the Beatles. The British invasion was not just in the way they colonized the world but also with their great music the likes of the Rolling stones, the Police, The Cure, Bob Geldof, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles even Cyndi Lauper and Culture Club. The British are pretty odd but they are certainly talented.

I don't want my kids to look at the Salsa in that music video and to view it simply as 'sex'. After all, kids will watch and if they don't watch it with us, they will watch it with their friends and God knows what rubbish will fill their heads. Some might find it arousing but without understanding the culture behind the dance and to appreciate it enough to not do stupid things or hurt anyone. Some may find it disgusting and reject totally without understanding that you can dance Salsa and be as sexy as you want with your husband or wife. That is the beauty of Islam, it NEVER says you can't, it says you can but with whom and where. You can be sexy with your spouse in the privacy of your own home. You can fulfil your sexual needs but with the opposite sex and within a legally binding contract (marriage).

Oh...and then people started saying "Despacito" is a bad word...well, it literally means 'slowly'. Should we ban Abba's 'Andante..Andante..' as well, is that about 'slowly' too? What about 'Kyrie eleison', that is a prayer related to the Christian faith. What about Def Leppard's 'Pour some sugar on me' or perhaps, Maroon 5's 'sugar' or One republic's 'counting stars'? What's that all about? - teaching people on how to avoid getting Diabetes? Aww...come on!!!!

In response to 'why overseas Malays are successful'

I agree with this article. Actually, I believe anyone can succeed anywhere but with the right mind set, determination and attitude; of course with a bit of luck or fate or whatever one wants to believe in. In Islam, we call it God's intervention (Qada' wal Qadr)

Anyway, let's just focus on what we can do instead of what God does because that is not in our control but the choices we make and the things we decide, we do, we act upon is in our control.

I think any people in their own home country tend to mess up. Perhaps in our own home country we feel 'safe'. It is a bit like we feel safe messing up in our own home but when we are outside we feel challenged like we need to work harder. This is human nature and is not exclusive to the Malays. Just look at any other people in this world, they seem to be doing pretty well outside of their own messed up countries.

But...we are talking about Malays here. Not anyone else. I just think it is important to set up a precedent because to claim that only Malays mess up in their own home country is a bit unfair. We can't take the credit for this alone.

Saying that, there are some specific reasons that makes Malays abroad seem to fair pretty well, if not better than at home. Let's look at the obvious.

1. Competition.

Out there when you are outside of Malaysia, you are on your own. You are not going to be treated 'special' or given any 'rights'. You have to fight for your own rights. Also, I notice that Malays do not have this positive competition among themselves. That kind of sportsmanship competitiveness and that desire to achieve more for your own self satisfaction. Things were different when I was growing up because we were in a school with all other races, Chinese, Indians, Punjabis and I felt that positive competitiveness which is lacking in schools today. Healthy competition is a good method of character building and unfortunately, I don't see that in an all-Malay environment. So, I don't agree in segregating schools and language based schools. I think all children should attend Sekolah Kebangsaan but who the hell am I? Just an opinion, that's all.

Amongst themselves, the Malays tend to shy away and to feel awkward when they achieve something or even able to answer a question right or to be able to speak English fluently even though that is expected and nothing to be proud about. When it comes to competition, it often translate into jealousy and 'dengki' type of negativity which is unhealthy in the development of a nation. This negative form of competition needs to be removed because it stifles creativity and achievement. It makes people go out to bring others down, and attend to 'bomoh' to destroy other people's careers and achievement. It should instead be replaced with healthy competition where everyone strive to be better, to achieve more, without bringing anyone else down. If anything, those at the top should help others to go up the ladder and to give motivation.

2. Hierarchy versus transverse leadership

I actually believe in transverse leadership or sometimes known as flatten leadership. As a leader, I want to work with people who know their job scope, know what is expected of them, able to perform their task independently and for the team to work together towards a common objective. A leader is there to guide, take responsibility and to ensure we are all heading towards the right direction. However, this type of leadership can only work when the type of people are those who can lead themselves.

I am pretty fortunate that I do have a team that is self-reliant and are independent thinkers. However, in general the Malays have a very hierarchal approach in leadership. It is often a one man's decision while others are mere followers. Often those at the bottom want to 'please' those at the top. There is a catch-22 situation here. When I came back to Malaysia from the UK, I tried to treat everyone the same irrespective of their position within the University. Unfortunately, there was ONE or TWO individuals who for whatever reason just didn't know how to respect this form of professional relationship. They don't understand that when someone give you respect, you should correspond with respect. These people are very typical and often outdated Malay mentality whom if you treat them with respect they will climb all over your head; and the only way to keep them in their place is to treat them like crap. It is unfortunate for such people because they put themselves in that position.

The other problem is most workers are used to function based on 'standard operating procedure' and are unable to solve daily problems independently. I agree rules and guidelines are important in ensuring there is a viable system but part of achieving a viable system is having those who implement the rules to be able to solve new situations. Whenever a new problem arise within my team or clinic, I love hearing solutions from any member of the team especially from those staff whom are dealing with those problems everyday. I believe, anyone can be creative and can solve problems for the betterment of others.

3. Religiosity

I don't know how to approach this one. It seems like you just can't say anything about religion without being charged a heresy these days yet, I think we have forgotten one fundamental thing. Before we want to pray, fast, avoid the haram and all that stuff we need to truly question and understand our belief as in Why do we believe God exists? Why do we believe the Qur'an is God's words? Knowing these fundamental questions would solve a lot of problem in our daily life because we won't have to argue about can we touch a dog or say the word 'babi' or some truly ridiculous things sometimes that my kids come home and tell me about.

One day I was talking to my daughter and we were actually talking about "najis" and she started spelling the word 'b-a-b-i' instead of saying it and I was like...why are you spelling the word? why can't you say 'babi' after all isn't that what we call that poor animal? I mean it is too bad we ourselves have turned it into a swear word but it is what that animal is right? So, apparently she said her teacher said it is bad to say the word. Well, I had to correct her but that is not the point. Point here is we are so bogged down by such trivial issues that are we really teaching our kids to think? I thought Islam was sent down to elevate man, and to make us the highest thinkers in the history of mankind. Yet, we have descended into herds of sheep and following the words of God knows whoever. Did you read in the newspaper today about a 'Daesh militant disguising himself as a woman to avoid being caught?' Just seems outrages to me how a Daesh militant, someone a few weeks or months ago was like the most feared terrorist organization in the world has now turned into a 'Mak Nyah'; and for what? why did these people went out there to a foreign land to fight and suddenly realizing they have been duped into doing so and by whom? To me, it is a tragedy. It is a tragedy how people sacrificed everything, their family, their jobs or whatever they had or did not have before to go and fight for a cause that now, no one even knows what the hell for? Well...I think we know but that's for another blog story.

Then, you get some people who are so called 'religious' and yet, spend so much time just judging everyone else. I mean did God hire you to be a judge? When I say judge it is like they criticize everyone and almost like fault finding; it is almost as if it is their career, like a food critic or perhaps football analyst. I wonder how much they get paid to do this? One ringgit per critic perhaps or is it one 'dosa' per critic? Why can't people just mind their own business? Are their lives too boring and empty that they have all that time and energy to analyse other people's lives?

Anyway, there you go. I don't believe the Malays are stupid or whatever people say. I believe that the Malays (just like many races out there in their own home country) are simply spoilt and just like those parents who spoil their kids and you know, your kids grow up and they still rely on you for everything...well, I don't claim to have any answers. This is more of a self-reflection and perhaps to stimulate more thought into NOT becoming a nation of spoilt brats.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Introducing the concept of Family Doctor in Malaysia

It is not easy to introduce something like the UK National Health Service system in Malaysia especially with the current economic climate however, to introduce the concept of a "Family Doctor" is not impossible. Most of us have a family doctor whether we call it that or not. The doctor that we often go to whenever we have some medical complaints is in essence our family doctor. When I was growing up, I had a family doctor who was also a neighbor so most of us will do.

The role of a family doctor towards the patient starts even at birth. After 6 - 8 weeks of giving birth, all mothers should go for a post-natal check up and it is also around this time that the baby will be due for another immunization schedule. At this check up, the family doctor will do a post-natal check up for mom and 8-week check for baby. 

The family doctor is also the one that mom (and/or dad) will go to if baby has any medical problems or is unwell. Otherwise mom and dad will bring the baby for routine immunization as well as developmental check up until the age of 3 and half. 

So, the family doctor gets to know a person from birth and looks after the whole family for any medical or indeed social issues. Imagine a child who has been seeing his/her family doctor with the parents and goes on to reach adolescent age. Some families are fortunate to be open and informative to their children about adolescent issues but sometimes adolescent may want to speak to someone professional, non-judgmental and a neutral third party. The child / adolescent may have acne problems, issues of self-esteem, peer pressure, or sensitive issues such as relationships, sexuality, body image, sexual abuse or bullying. The parents may want to bring the child to see someone who can educate and give further information with regards to these issues or to handle sensitive issues and to refer the family to appropriate services. The family doctor is a good place to start. Hence, part of the training of a family doctor is in communication, being non-judgmental, handling sensitive cases and to be the neutral / impartial person as well to coordinate patient care by referring to appropriate services. 

If a person is going through a difficult time in life or stressed out due to marital issues / work environment / bereavement or perhaps suffering from depression or some other mental illness, the family doctor has a role in listening, advising, making a diagnosis and if required to start treatment or refer to another specialty. The family doctor can also offer advice and emotional support for carers as well as referral to appropriate services e.g. counseling, hospice / respite care. 

Couples who are wanting to become pregnant may want to go for preconception counseling and the family doctor whom may have known them for years may be the first medical personnel that the couple would approach for advice. Older patients may require cardiovascular screening and management of chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Chronic disease management requires a continuity of care by a family doctor who knows the patient's medical background and pattern of illness in order to achieve good control. The family doctor gives education to the patient, encouragement for lifestyle change as well as medication monitoring. 

Therefore, in a day there is never a dull moment as a family doctor because of the variety in the cases seen. The cases may range from a simple sore throat due to viral infection up to serious conditions such as a person coming with chest pain suspected of a heart attack. The family doctor's challenge is to identify patient's verbal and non-verbal cues, to make a provisional diagnosis sometimes based on non-specific or early symptoms and most importantly, in decision making. Making a decision about treatment is an important skill for a family doctor because a family doctor works in a clinic and there is no observation ward or 24-hour monitoring to observe the progression of the disease. 

Hence, in countries like this one where there is not yet a system that dictates patients to register with one family doctor, patients can still understand the concept of a family doctor and how having a family doctor may improve their health quality.