Category Archives: Musings

I met an ugly person yesterday…

Well, she wasn’t ugly in looks but in character. 

There’s a climate of anti immigration in the UK at the moment and the Government is making plans to cut benefits further to discourage economic migrants from coming. 

My views on benefits are shaped by my years in Malaysia and Hong Kong, where benefits are non existent as these countries are more capitalist in nature.  So I believe that I’m responsible for myself and my dependents and should do everything in my power to ensure their wellbeing. The UK by comparison is more socialist in that they provide assistance to those who are unable to fend for themselves. Despite this noble intention, there are some in society who are able bodied but lack the motivation to support themselves and instead rely on benefits.  I can’t understand this mentality.

While out for lunch with a friend, we bumped into her acquaintance and stopped for a chat.  The acquaintance was visibly upset and explained that she may not be able to pursue the nursing course that she had applied to. This was because her “b*****d” of a husband was working too many hours and so their combined income exceeded £30k pa. This meant that she would now have to pay for the nursing course rather than have it for free. Besides this all other benefits she was currently enjoying would be withdrawn. She wanted the benefits to continue and didn’t want the extra money her husband was earning. She was actually swearing at her husband for working hard to support the family. I was shocked, both by her swearing of her husband and about her mentality that she was entitled to benefits. 

I find it alien that this person who is gainfully employed, would be more interested in getting maximum benefits from the government although she perhaps has the means to pay for it.

Where is the honour in hard work and supporting oneself? I hope she is in the minority as a country could not progress if most of its residents behave as she does.

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Filed under Musings, Psychological Insights, UK

Malaysia’s police, an extinct breed

In my 2 weeks stay in Malaysia, I only saw 2 policemen on 2 separate occasions. It made me wonder where the police are if they are not out patrolling the streets and making their presence felt? Someone mentioned in jest that because of the heat (it is 35’c and more in the daytime), they were in their air-conditioned offices, playing computer solitaire. Another thinks that the police are focused on illegal immigrants.  Not to round them up as a reasonable person would think but to extort money from them in order not to do so. Apparently, extortion is big money compared to ‘kopi’ money (these are bribes that motorists pay to avoid a traffic summon. It is known as ‘kopi’ money or coffee money as it is offered under the guise of hospitality, i.e ‘let me buy you coffee for the inconvenience’.)

By comparison, we saw many killer/suicidal motorists driving at breakneck speeds, tailgating and weaving in and out of lanes, countless texting or speaking on the phone, while driving and just a general lack of regard for road safety and traffic rules.  Where are the police when we need them to police these dangerous behaviour? 

One of the clear signs of a breakdown in society is the lack of law enforcement, which then allows undesirable elements to take over the void. If left unchecked, residents will feel the need to take matters into their own hands. Those that can afford it will take flight and migrate to another country, those that can’t, will exact their own justice or worst, become bad.

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Filed under Malaysia, Musings

I hope you’re living the life you want

I was in a car crash 3 days ago and am very thankful to be alive.  My car is a write off but I escaped without a scratch; with only some pain in the neck and shoulders.  During the accident, I remembered thinking that my time is up and was so relieved when I realised it wasn’t.  I’m still in shock but trying my best to learn from this incident. Trying to remind myself what is important and to priotise that.

A large truck hit my car and it spun across 3 lanes of highway and finally stopped when it hit the middle, dividing concrete barrier. I’m glad the car was well-built as it protected me but it was badly damaged and can’t be repaired.   I’m very fortunate to be alive because it was rush hour and I could have hit other vehicles as the car was spinning.  In fact when the car stopped spinning, I was facing oncoming traffic and a lorry who managed to stop one foot away from smashing into me.

Since then, I’ve tried to resume my normal routine as if nothing had happened. But the thoughts of that moment is often present. I have no visible injuries but desperately want to speak to someone about it.  Everyone who heard about the accident thinks I’m fine because I have no injuries. H doesn’t know how to deal with it so pretends that all is fine. His advice to me is, focus on being grateful that I’m alive. I want to shout back at him, ‘but I could have died!’  Instead I withdraw and become silent. 

I don’t blame him at all.  I don’t expect him to understand what I’m going through and this is something I have to deal with.  I want this incident to mean something and be the catalyst for a better life. 

This is my wish for you,  that you’re living the life you want and you’re at peace with yourself and with your family. Life is not guaranteed so every day is a chance to be fulfilled.

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Filed under Advice, Musings

Today is the summer solstice

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The longest day and shortest night of the year. This photo was taken at around 1030pm in London and the distant horizon is still light. This is quite amazing for a Malaysian, where this doesn’t happen at the equator.

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Filed under Bermuda, Favorite pictures, London, Musings

Proper summer has arrived

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It is the middle of June but we were still experiencing spring-like weather up until last week. These past week has been sunny with temperatures in the 20s. Today may be the hottest day so far and it feels it!

I went for lunch at Malaysia House in Bayswater and observed several Malaysian in sweaters! Yes, London is cooler than Malaysia but 27’c is more than sufficient to induce sweat. I for one am glad to be here in summer than HK or Malaysia.

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Filed under Malaysia, Musings

Poverty in Hong Kong

In all my years in HK I can’t honestly say I’ve seen poverty. I have seen people looking through rubbish bins for recyclables and senior citizens pushing trolleys laden with cardboards and these surprised me but I wouldn’t call it poverty.  In wealthy HK, it is unimaginable that people could go hungry or homeless.  That was my assumption until I came face to face with homelessness and hunger in Sham Shui Po one evening.  A friend had joined a volunteer program to feed the poor in Sham Shui Po and I asked to tag along.  The program has been running for some time and it was well organised and meaningful.  Sham Shui Po was picked as it is one of the areas in HK with high numbers of homeless and poor people. 

Firstly all volunteers were given some money and a list of groceries, which we had to purchase from small stalls in that area.  This was symbolic as it was a way to give back to the same society that supports these homeless and poor people.  We bought fruits, can food, bottles of water and biscuits, while another group organised boxed meals.  We then carried the food to an area under a highway bridge where many people had already gathered.  The organisers estimated that around 1000 people came that night to receive the food.  A team of volunteers were already present to control the crowd and ensure orderliness. 

Despite crowd management, several small scruffles and near riots broke out as recipients pushed and grabbed at the food.  I was worried that someone would get hurt.  Besides the scruffling and grabbing, many recipients resorted to hiding and lying about the food they had collected so that they could collect more.  As a volunteer, I felt terrible having to enforce a quota on the food that I was giving out as demand was far greater than supply.  It also disappointed me that the recipients were not more considerate of other recipients and instead they behaved selfishly to satisfy their own needs at the expense of others.  This troubled me greatly and when I shared my views with several veteran volunteers, they said that such behavior is excusable because they (the recipients) have a real need and if that extra fruit means one less day without food, then they are going to take as much as they can get. 

Most of the recipients were elderly men and women and a few families with children.  The demographics surprised me because in a Confucius society like HK, which emphasises on family and filial piety, every one is expected to care for their elders.  It may be that these elderly people are without family or may be cast away from family.  Regardless of the why, it is atrocious that HK would allow its elders to suffer this fate.  

It’s been a month since this program and I still think about it almost daily.  Mostly I think about the options one has when one is homeless and hungry.  How does one get out of poverty when even a daily meal is hard to come by?  I wonder about the effects of hardship on people’s values, where desperation may drive many to behave unusually.  The reflections usually end with me feeling both grateful and guilty; grateful that I haven’t yet experienced such poverty and guilty that I should have so much when some have so little.

 

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Filed under Hong Kong, Musings

Can Malaysians be bought?

This is in reference to an excellent analysis by Bridget Welsh on Malaysia’s recent general election. Family and friends back in Malaysia told me about the many government handouts leading up to the election. It was such a blatant attempt at buying votes disguised as socialism and I felt embarrassed by it. As a matter of principle, I would not have accepted any of the handouts for what it represented. However, I understand that that money represents a relief to many people in their daily struggle to survive. Principles do not feed man.

In a way, at least the money was going to the people instead of into corrupt politician’s pockets. This is Malaysian realism; we try to look for a silver lining in every dire situation. We ‘trick’ ourselves into believing that a situation could be worst and the fact that it isn’t is cause for celebration. This is what has kept corrupt politicians in power, because we ‘excuse’ their behavior by believing that there is no such thing as an honest politician.

But you know what, many Malaysians like me are no longer willing to accept substandard governance. We want honest, competent and responsible governance and it needs to start now.

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Filed under Articles from or about Malaysia, Interesting Articles, Malaysia, Musings