Selamat Hari Raya

It’s the Raya festival once again! This time of the year always reminds me of how my family and I welcomed the fasting month and celebrated Eid when I was a child (though back then we didn’t call it Eid). I think the Malays started borrowing and introducing Arabics words into the Malay Language in the 80’s.

Here in my latest column I reminisced what fasting month (running up to the Raya festival), and the Eid celebration was like for me as a kid growing up in the 70’s.

What a feeling!

Letting go...My daughter, completely at ease

It always feels great when I know that I’ve given a task my best.
I know I’ve done well when there’s joy inside me. It’s like, I could feel my inner self smiling at me.



I’ve always loved the island state of Penang which I last visited six years ago. This visit (last week) I was head over heels and wished I had stayed longer!

Kids and I saw, did and tasted so many flavours of Penang the six days we were there. We are hungry for more!

Spotted this weighing scale at the Bukit Bendera, Penang funicular station
Discovered one of the measurement used which was koyan, was not a Malay word. My grandpa used koyan frequently when I was small
Turns out neither was pikul a Malay word! What a discovery!

We also loved the Penang War Museum, Ben’s Vintage Toy Museum, the State Museum, Victoria Street, and the oldest tree ever planted there, the Baobab.

This exhibits at Penang State Museum reminded me of my maternal grandma. This was how her dressing table looked like
The oldest toy at Ben's Vintage Toy Museum is a wooden tricycle made in 1800's
The Baobab Tree was planted by Captain Speedy in 1871

Interview with Ibu Robin Lim, CNN Hero of the Year 2011

On June 1st, 2013, I had an incredible opportunity to interview CNN Hero of the Year 2011, Ibu Robin Lim. Ibu Robin is known worldwide as a gentle birth advocator.

I asked Ibu Robin Lim, during the interview, what it took for her to give unconditionally.

She said: “Love. To me giving love is easy. It’s like letting go of a boomerang. What you give always comes back and sometimes in ways you never imagined.” To me, she’s the embodiment of unconditional love.

That few hours I spent with her was an experience I needed as at that time, as I was feeling rather victimised at where I was.

Ibu Robin reminded me that what we need, we already have in us. We just need to choose wisely.

I left the session feeling pretty much at peace inside.

Ibu Robin is truly inspiring. She exudes so much love and it seems to me, she does it effortlessly by just being.

Clik here to read my writeup on the causes Ibu Robin champion.

Leave the differences behind



A friend who works as a radio presenter once told me, she likened her job to a performance. She always does her best to sound happy for her listeners. Even on days when she’s feeling down. Nobody, she said, enjoys listening to a depressed person.

What she said resonates with me as I share similar take on friendships. I think it’s too stressful to be in a relationship where one has to constantly put up with the other person’s unhappiness. Nobody likes to be treated as a sounding board at all time. It weighs a person down.

I think we need to be responsible for our own insecurities and not make others around us bear the brunt of our own self doubts. In fact relationships shouldn’t be treated as a place to load off emotions. They should be nurturing and enjoyable, filled with fun and laughter.

From my experiences, insecurity is hazardous to any form of collaboration whether it’s professional, personal, between two individuals or among members of a group.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work with a group of 40 people to come up with a community service project. The assignment required all of us, aged between 17 to over 40 years old, to work together to raise funds, liaise with the community we had identified and organise a community event.

The hardest part about the project as it turned out, was to work together. This was a wake up call to me. It made me realise that when we get our priorities in the wrong order, it would have a negative impact on the group’s dynamic.

For some time we were focusing on the differences, like our insecurities and expectations, instead of the team vision which was to help the less privileged.

To begin with agreeing on a cause to champion were no easy feat, as some people are members were more selective about which community they wanted to serve. For example some chose to only work with those of similar faith. At the same time there were those who were only willing to contribute to their own ethnic group.

This made me see that while giving unconditionally may come easy to some, to others this was a tall order. Yet at the same time, there are member who were non-committal to the team despite the fact they had chosen to be part of the group. Some would not even bother to contribute to the group. In fact they would not even attend team meetings or answer phone calls.

Building good teamwork, without a doubt, takes time and efforts. It became apparent to me while working on the project that people are more willing to cooperate when their interests are at stake, or when they have something to gain.

I also take from that experience that most people do not want to lead. They would rather go along but would complain when things don’t work out their way. I find this attitude rather immature especially when people get emotional rather than intellectual in defending their stand.

Whether in a group setting or otherwise I find dealing with people who have trouble being honest, frustrating. Whether they realise it or not, their inability to be frank about their thoughts or feelings can create problem to a situation.

An ex -colleague who has difficulty being frank often keep her opinions to herself. Yet she is very righteous about her beliefs. She wouldn’t openly object to what she disagrees with, as she didn’t want to be seen as a downer. But her inability to cooperate was often reflected in her actions.

She would often do things that are contrary to what the team had agreed on. She felt she knew better. Her refusal to communicate with others or accept suggestions often slowed the team down as they ended up having to spend extra time fixing the mess she created due to her stubbornness.

I am not saying that people need to conform. I believe however that when you choose to be part of a team, it is important to compromise, be honest, communicate and focus on the common goals. It is fine to disagree but it is to also important to work out the differences instead of shutting others out.

Life is about teamwork after all. It is just impossible to live alone. We may have different belief systems. But when it comes to working together its best to leave that differences behind and work on common goals.

Published on The Star Editor’s Choice app on March 26, 2013