Friday, December 31, 2010

Good Bye to 2010

What a year, 2010 the year of the roaring Tiger...I couldn't have asked for more, really. Achieved few firsts in this year, the Medoc Marathon in September in France (minus that unpleasant incident in Paris), the scaling of Mt Kinabalu in September and last but not the least, the 100km LTAW event in December. Of course, there were some disappointments too. The failed business venture, only managed to survive for 6months...sigh, among the few!

Hmm, what will year 2011 bring? I don't hope for too much but there are few personal goals in the pipeline. Among others, to cover under 5 hours in Adidas Sundown 42km marathon in May after missing that in last Medoc run and to walk 200km to Malacca for a charity cause. As for career development in my next phase, I will get certification as a trainer of sorts and ACTA, I must work hard to achieve too.

Good bye 2010 and welcome 2011!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Let's Take A Walk (LTAW) - 100km Power Walk

What's the difference between running a full 42km marathon and a 100km walk, which one is actually tougher? I experienced both recently. Most runners will hit the wall at 30km mark (for some even earlier) and at that point cramps around the calves and thighs will start to build up. Much as I would like to run, I had to pull to a complete halt to stretch my muscle for it to loosen up, to apply ointment, whatever it took to relieve the pain and cramps, period. I had to walk, then ran some distance and then stopped to stretch and repeat the whole process again & again to the finishing. The last 10km was always torturous to the point of no return and this is marathon as far as I am concerned.

Walk could be a piece of cake, but to walk 100km, it is not a piece of cake no more. The 100km LTAW event on 18 Dec was by far the longest walk I had ever attempted in my entire 48 years, another first for me if I could complete the route, i.e. Our adventurous group, HTTB sent two teams to participate in this LTAW event, a charity walk event in their 3rd consecutive year. Proceeds this year are pledged to the Boys' Town cause.

The 50km team was led by SP and the 100km team where I was part of it was led by Eric. We had 6 members for each team and the rule requires minimum 3 members of the team to complete the whole journey, failing which, the team will have to join other team to make up the minimum number. Nonetheless, it was a non-competitive event and I believe everyone was in for an experience, to test one's endurance level.

The 100km event started at 8am near Tampines Station whereas, the 50km was scheduled 13 hours later at 9pm at Turf Club. I was up early, 6.30am and was already at Aljunied train station before 7am heading to Tampines. Slowly all my 5 team members made their way to the flag-off venue, Angela, Susa, Ashok, Kwan and Eric and we were raring to go. In this 100km power walk, I was told there some 150 participants but the fall-out rate could be as high as 60%, that gruelling if it did not damper our spirit. Before the flag-off, all of us gathered on the open ground, did our warm-up exercise together. And at 8.15am, we were finally flagged-off. Kwan had 2 friends and Eric had 1 friend who joined us in the walk, all 9 of us then walked together.

In all there were 10 checkpoints along the way, average 10km at each point and the finishing was at Liang Court, some 24 hours later. We had to report as a complete team at each check point to earn a sticker to be placed on our bib. Therefore, anyone walked faster still have to wait for the rest before the team can move out. Hey, this was a team event and team spirit must remain strong, if we were to last to the end. Alas, it was not to be when true colour of one member in our team showed as we progressed further.

We walked along Bedok Reservoir Road, past Kaki Bukit to the direction of Hougang Mall. The first 10km was a breeze for all, we were in high spirit. Along the way, we made friends with other teams, walked with them and joked with them. Piece of cake, we got our stickers at CP 1 at Hougang Mall. Shortly later, we moved out to CP 2 at Yio Chu Kang Stadium. We walked along the long stretch of Yio Chu Kang Road. We had covered 10km and another 10km to CP 2, no sweat lah! When we reached Yio Chu Kang Stadium, SP and Kiat Sing who brought along her nephew were waiting for us. SP was so nice to buy us 'chee cheong fun' and I gobbled all down swiftly. It was around 11am, we were still 'fresh' and energetic.

After a short breather at CP 2, we bid farewell to our supporters and off we go again. We had to walk along Sembawang Road to Chong Pang and to the PCN to CP 3 at the northeastern tip in Sembawang, the water plant. Along Chong Pang, there was a heavy downpour, otherwise the weather was excellent the whole morning. The rain stopped when we reached CP 3 but we were drenched. We took longer rest, to dry our shoes, socks and clothes. We had covered more than 30km at that juncture. It was already way past lunch time but we didn't have our lunch yet and nobody in our group requested for lunch break either, funny.

CP 4 was at Republic Poly in Woodlands. Susa was holding well despite the left knee problem, so too for Ashok who did not actually train much with us prior to this. I asked Eric, our team leader whether we were on schedule at each checkpoint so far and boy, we were actually ahead of our schedule. Going at this rate, we should complete before 9.30am on Sunday morning. Our pace was quite fast and consistent, around 5km an hour and we were among the early groups to clock in.

Before arriving at CP 4, TS and supporters were supposed to meet us for dinner at Admiralty MRT station. We were supposed to arrive at Admiralty station by 6pm and half an hour before our arrival, I made a call to TS to pre-empt him. Dora who was also about to leave to meet her 50km team at Causeway Point for dinner before heading to Turf City for their 50km flag-off, decided to wait for us at the Admiralty station too. Esther joined us shortly. I took a quick bite at Mac's as I was too hungry, having missed lunch earlier. TS and Esther walked with us to CP 4 at Republic Poly. We had finished almost half of our journey, evidently fatigue began to take a toll on some of us.

Our next CP was at Turf Club, also the start-off venue of the 50km walkers. We were walking along the fringe near the causeway where Johor was just opposite us and we cut into Marsiling estate to the direction of Turf Club in Kranji. As usual, Kwan, Angela and I were in the front but we shot past Turf Club, only to turn back when we realised our mistake. Each step forward was 'precious' to us, we tried not to walk the wrong way (if we could) as we needed to conserve as much energy to last the distance. Hooray, we had reached our half way mark, 50km! But Asok decided not to push on, he had exceeded his own mark with this distance - kudos to him.

CP 6 was at Rail Mall, a punishing 15km away. It was getting dark, by my reckoning (didn't check my watch though), it should be past 7pm. Much to my delight again, we were ahead of our schedule. TS and Esther left us at Turf Club - thanks to their support for walking with us.

We were walking along the Kranji Industrial area and I realised Susa was nowhere to be seen. She was lagging way behind. I signalled to Kwan (Eric and Angela were already way ahead) that I will wait for Susa to catch up. Kwan and Eric's friend (she joined us at Turf City) waited too. Finally, I saw Susa and we walked together. She was fighting pain in her left knee and at one point, she remarked to me (with some tinge of sadness in her voice though) that she might not be able to complete and most probably will drop out at Rail Mall, CP 6. We had scheduled to take a break at Bukit Panjang Shopping Plaza where some supporters including my running mate, Chua and his family were waiting for us. When we reached Bukit Panjang Shopping Plaza, it was easily over 60km. Chua bought some paus and isotonic drinks for us. A while later, the 50km team led by SP arrived too. One of SP's supporters bought isotonic can drinks too. Suddenly, there was an oversupply of drinks and food from our kind-hearted supporters. We took longer rest. Before I moved off, I gave each of Chua's kids a big bearhug. Susa decided to listen to her body not to press further, she dropped out at Bukit Panjang. I gave her a hug (would have hoped she could press on, sad) to bid her farewell.

When we reached Rail Mall at around midnight, Siti, Kiat Sing and Yosuke were waiting for us. They too readied a package comprising isotonic drinks and food for each of us too. It was so heartwarming to receive tremendous supports from them, only to inspire us to push on. Two had dropped off, there were four of us in the team now and more so, we should finish. We had covered more than 70km by now. Blisters had already seeped in, damn. To worsen matter, both my ankles started to ache too. Sign of old age, sigh!

CP 7 was at Trade Hub, Mac's. We walked past Bukit Batok and to the PCN. Every step taken was quite painful but still bearable. At Trade Hub, it started drizzling. After a short rest, we put on our raincoats and when I was about to move off, I saw Marcus, Dora's son with his two cousins. I told him his mother will be arriving shortly and then moved on with the team. Eric's car was parked near Buona Vista station and we were scheduled to arrive at the station to get some refreshment from his car and then, to take some rest. We walked along the PCN to the direction of Ulu Pandan and Clementi. Around 3am, we arrived at Buona Vista station. Surprise, surprise, Siew Hoon and her friend turned up at that hour too. She brought along paus, coffee and even toothbrushes for us. I told her no one was likely to eat, we were simply too tired & sleepy but the coffee was certainly a 'go-send' to me. She had not fully settled down, Angela decided to move on. At that point, I felt it was rude of Angela to insist to move on when Siew Hoon and her friend took all the trouble to bring us water and food at 3am, should we be more appreciative? I was simply put off by Angela's behaviour, to say the least. Eric, always the obliging chap decided that we should move on though we were ahead of our schedule. I knew Eric needed longer rest to recuperate but...for the team's sake, he acceded to her demand.

CP 8 was at Kent Ridge Park, up on the hill top. We reached in good time and I even joked to the volunteers to consider having that CP 8 at the foot of the hill instead of on the highest point, as if we were not 'punished' enough. We didn't rest much, registered our team and off, we left. Siew Hoon and friend were walking with us too. I was chatting, joking with Siew Hoon most time whereas Eric was behind us, quietly throughout. At Hort Park, I turned back and realised Eric was way behind. He wanted us to move first while he will take a short nap. Kwan and Angela were already way infront. He told me he needed sleep, even for that precious 5 mins. As we lied on the ground to catch few winks but I jumped up, deciding not to do so fearing we will doze off completely. I kept waking up Eric and finally, he decided to move on too. I knew he was fighting real hard to stay awake, poor Eric. Siew Hoon and friend were with us, to pep up our spirit too.

CP 9 was at Tiong Bahru Plaza and it was first light when we reached there. The volunteers told us we were the first 100km team to arrive, much to our surprise. Kwan and Angela had arrived earlier, they were having their breakfast at Starbuck by the time we arrived. I skipped breakfast, was on high spirit to finish the last 10km and very quickly, we moved on. My legs, especially the ankles were aching like hell and my back too, from carrying the backpack. Our pace were fast in the 5km but slowed somewhat at the last 5km. It was a long long last 10km as if never ending. We walked past Liang Court but we had to move further to Singapore Flyer, another 5km and then made a U-turn back. We pushed and pushed, everyone was quiet and not talking much to each other knowing the end was near. Finally, we reached CP 10 at Liang Court clocking some 24 hours 30 mins. We had arrived one hour ahead of our own schedule, it was 8.30am on Sunday morning. Tired I was but I was gleeing with satisfaction knowing I have achieved another first. Hip, hip, hip...hooray! (3x)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010

Indeed, it was a race like no other. Since 2007, I have been participating in the annual Stanchart Marathon event, from 10km to 21km to 42km and if any, it is my report card of sorts detailing my entire year performance. This year is no exception.

As I had already participated in the full marathon in September in France this year (only intended to run full marathon in a year), I’d decided to run the half marathon in this year Stanchart Marathon with a personal target to clock a sub 2 hours time. In August last year, I clocked 2 hrs 15 mins plus in my first 21km event in SAFRA Half Marathon and in May this year, I barely missed the 2 hours mark by a little over a minute in the Adidas Sundown event. It was that close for me and it only fueled me to train harder, with a vengeance to slash it down in this year end Stanchart Half Marathon.

Prior to the 21km half marathon which was scheduled on 5 Dec, Sunday, I have been training regularly with my buddy, Long Chua (who also completed his 4th 42km Stanchart marathon, kudos to him for his perseverance). I was also very much involved in other outdoor activities, such as cycling, trekking and long distance walking with my adventurous groups. All these different training of sorts did help me in one way or another to improve my stamina and endurance level.

Winnie was supposed to run this 21km event for the first time too but with some tinge of regret, she had decided to give it another miss due to her lack of regular training and also the persistent flu that did not seem to go away. Disappointed to say the least but we must always listen to our body. I fully supported her decision not to run this 21km at the last hour, as there’s always another chance to do so when she is fitter and raring to go. Fret not, will have realize your half marathon dream and beyond!

Typically of me, I was unusually quiet the day before the race. If I said I was not stressed up, I lied. The thought of not able to run my best race did rattle me somewhat. Later in the afternoon, Dora called, initiating a dinner with C.K., Anna & Esther and I agreed to join them to de-stress, perhaps. It was a sumptuous seafood dinner at a famous coffeeshop stall in Toa Payoh, recommended by Anna. After dinner, both C.K. and I left for home as we had the 21km to contend with the following morning. An early sleep was vital. The gals continued on their own at Anna’s place; understand they chatted till the wee hours of the morning…guys’ issues, gals’ issues & what not.

I got up at 0445 hrs. Brushed up, put on my running attire with the number tag on done the night before and I was already out of my house by 0500 hrs – that kiasu of me. I drove to HarbourFront, the flagged-off venue for our event. The flag-off was scheduled at 0630 hrs but by 0530 hrs, I already at the bridge warming up and looking out for familiar faces. By chance I met one of our SANL members, Jeannie who was one of the early birds too. I had a quick chat with her, conveyed my best wishes and then, I proceeded ahead to the start-line.

Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was the guest-of-honour who was to flag the runners off at exactly 0630 hrs. As the minute was ticking away, throngs of runners slowly made their way to the start-line. There were 15,000 runners registered for the 21km half marathon and on whole, 60,000 runners registered for varied events in Stanchart Marathon, an Asia record I understand. At exactly 0630 hrs, we were flagged-off in three waves. I was in the first wave.

It was still pitch dark running to the direction of Sentosa island. About 2km into the race, I felt quite ‘high tide’ and not wanting to wash much time, I made a dash to the nearest bush to relieve myself. I felt better and lighter after the pee (sheepishly). Around 3km mark, I heaved a sigh of relief when I past the 2-hour pacers and I told myself that I must ensure to stay ahead of the 2-hour pacers if I intended to clock a sub 2 hours timing. I ran a faster than usual pace. My only fear was I could burn off fast if I kept that fast pace for the first 10km. However, the thought of the 2-hour pacers overtaking me anytime soon, somewhat fueled me to keep to a fast pace. With trepidation, I was looking forward to the run through Universal Studio. At 6km mark, I arrived at Universal Studio. The attraction staff and cartoon characters like Shrek and company were on hand to cheer us on. My adrenalin was pumped up and while running, I gave a high-five to the supporters and the cartoon characters including Shrek, of course. This was by far, the best part of the run; runners are always motivated when there are many supporters to root them on – never always seen in Singapore. This time, the organizers got it right.

As each km had past, I was yearning for the 100plus isotonic drinks (a ritual for me in such long race) and finally at the 10km mark, 100plus drinks were offered…phew! I grabbed one and downed it swiftly, heavenly man. At that point, we were out of Sentosa island and inched up the expressway to the direction of Pasir Panjang. I had to push harder going up the highway and my many trekking at Bukit Timah and most recently, Mt Kinabalu really did me a big favour. I was able to run the incline without my problem while many simply ran out of steam. When I was about to make a U-run to the direction of Singapore Flyer at some point, I can still see the 1 hr 45 mins pacer on the opposite side and not far behind me, the 2-hour pacers. I was smacked behind them and by my ‘guesstimation’, I should be more than 500 metres behind the 1 hr 45 mins pacers and lesser than 200 ahead of the 2 hours pacers. If I kept to that, my sub 2 hours target should remain intact. Admittedly, I was confident at that juncture (reckoned it was around 12km mark and still another 9km more to go). .

It was getting brighter by then and sun was already up. It was a long 7km run along the expressway from HarbourFront all the way to the turn at MBS. I began to feel tired, slowed somewhat and some fitter runners began to overtake me. I was conserving my last remaining energy (if it still lasts) for the last 5km to the finish at Padang. When I reached Singapore Flyer, it was already the 18km mark, another 3km left. I decided to open my strides, caught up some runners along the way. I was on cruise control.

After the turn at Esplanade, it was the last 1km to the finish and the 2-hours pacers were never in sight. Barring any major unforeseeable, I knew the sub 2-hour time was within my grab. Finally at the turn to the Padang with about 150 metres to the finishing, I stretched my strides to the fullest, took off my cap and started to wave to the cheering crowd like a winner. I then made the final dash and the big clock above showed 1 hour 56 mins plus and ticking. It was a race like never before, my best 21km race which I will relish for the longest time to come. For the record, my chip finish was 1 hour 56 mins 12 seconds, finishing in 237th position out of 11,274 runners, among the top 2%.

This Standard Chartered Half Marathon has ended on a high note for me and now, the bar has been raised and the target is set on the full marathon in May next year, the Adidas Sundown. 5 hours and under is my target.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Too Know What I Am Fighting For

Note from me: Some years ago, I remember SM Goh who was then the PM, raised the much talked about topic asking Singaporeans, "Are you a quitter or stayer?". Many former Singaporeans called it quit for a myriad of reasons, I fully respect their decision. Is Singapore really that bad for them to uproot and seek greener pasture elsewhere? Our lack of 'so-called' freedom of speech or fearful to speak one's mind, painted by some very 'liberal-minded' western media gave wrong impression that Singaporeans living in this little red dot are largely restricted, sigh. Fortunately, it is not true at all. While many Singaporeans are still battling hard within themselves; to stay or quit?. Perhaps, this article below, which was written by a non-Singaporean may have changed the mindset of some quitters-to-be after reading what she has to say.

Her name is Zhong Heng, a first-year 19-year-old student at Nanyang Technological University and her article first appeared in Lianhe Zaobao and later, Straits Times which was picked up by me. As a Singaporean, I am proud of her for defending our Singapore in her capacity as a non-Singaporean but soon, she will be one of us, I am sure.

I recently read an article in Chinese language daily Lianhe Zaobao entitled I now What I Am Fighting For, written in response to comments made by a Nanyang Technological University student who said he did not know what he was defending. What the writer said resonates deeply with me, and I want to echo his views: "If I too know what I am fighting for."

I am a 19-year-old Taiwanese. My ancestral home town is in Shandong, China. I was born in America, spent my childhood in South Africa and now I am studying in Singapore.

For the sake of the future of three children, my parents moved the family from one country to another. My father said we had to seek the best place to settle in, while my mother said she was like Chinese philosopher Mencius' mother, who moved house thrice with Mencius before being satisfied that the environment was good for her son.

My parents are educators. They are not rich or powerful, but have a wider world view and more guts than others. Wherever we migrated to, they started with nothing and had to put in a lot of hard work.

We had relatives in all the places we lived in, except for Singapore. But we never lived more than three years in any country, until we moved here, where we have been residing for the past 13 years. We have sunk our roots here.

I was only seven when I first came to Singapore. When I began Primary 1, my parents taught me to fight to survive. This place was more competitive than other countries, we had no friends or relatives and we were new, so I had to reply on myself.

But fight? That sounds militant, but it is not. My first principle of war was to make friends and integrate, while the second was to strive to be better than others and earn their respect.

To win friendship, I was humble. I willingly took the initiative to give of myself, and to show sincere care for others. To earn respect, I was more hard-working than others. I studied hard and got good grades.

My six years in primary school were enriching and happy, as I did many things that others considered insignificant and did not want to do. I lived near the school, so I volunteered to be a traffic warden: Every day before sunrise, I was the first in school, collecting my equipment for the job. After school, I stayed behind to help the teachers tidy the classroom and do other stuff.

I never had tuition, only supplementary lessons in school. And I often got home late because I was helping my classmates out: keeping them company as they waited for family members who were late in picking them up, helping them locate lost items, taking part in group projects, taking care of my juniors in school.

Besides these trivial services, I also actively participated in all sorts of inter-school competitions: speech, art, athletics. All these efforts were to win glory, in the hope that my family, classmates and school would be proud of me.

Later, I made it to Raffles Girls' Secondary School (RGS) after topping my school in the Primary School Leaving Examination. My mother attributed my good results not to tuition or my intelligence, but to the love I gave my school and my efforts to integrate, as well as my joy in learning.

One example proves her point. I remember the day I went back to my primary school to receive my commendation. I met a teacher at the staff room door. I asked her sincerely: "May I get you just one more coffee or tea?" She smiled as she embraced me.

Over the years, every time I had passed her window, she would ask me to get her a coffee or tea from the canteen. After a few times, I did consider avoiding that window. But I quickly realised that I was more privileged than others to have the opportunity to render my teacher a service, which was great. So I did it willingly.

Over time, this teacher and I got into the habit of holding conversations through the window, and I unexpectedly gained from her teaching, which felt good.

Over 13 years, I have made many friends and never once been ostracised. I never think in terms of old or new immigrants. I feel I have become part of this place, and that this is my home.

But as I grow older, I often ask myself who I really am: Chinese, Taiwanese, American or Singaporean? After graduating from RGS, I suddenly craved a sense of belonging. I gave up the chance to study at Raffles Junior College and went to high school in the United States, to experience being an "American". I thought I would have to study for two years, but I graduated earlier than expected, as what I had learnt in four years at RGS went far beyond US high school standards.

When I joined the high school, the school realised that I was up to standard in all the subjects and I had to study only two - American history and physical education. (Singapore's physical education system is good too, but they did not accept my PE grade from Singapore as the system there is different}.

So I had an easy time, with plenty of free time to get my driver's licence - in the US, one can get a licence and drive at 16. I also worked part-time at a relative's company, typing documents and reports and doing filing work for US$5 (S$6.50) an hour, the minimum wage. I worked three hours every day after school, and eight hours on weekends and during vacation. The pay was a little low, but it was a month's pocket money. Compared to the rest of American society then, mired in the sub-prime crisis, with so many people bankrupt and out of a job, I was doing quite well.

I never thought that my US stint would allow me to witness the country's biggest economic crisis and the many social problems that resulted. A young teacher whom I admired lost his job due to the financial crisis faced by the California government (Teachers lose their jobs too!); an elementary school near where I lived had to cancel its music classes; and the state government had to cut the number of scholarships, and bursaries, so many people were unable togo on to university.

But the crisis did not affect my relative much, as he had business dealings with China. That is why he was happy to have me working for him, as my English was better than his other employees', and I could speak, read and write Chinese too. His own children spoke only simple Mandarin and could hardly read the language. This was his biggest worry.

After my stint in the US, I no longer had any illusions about the country. Once I got my high school certificate, I returned to Singapore, happy that I could still choose.

Perhaps I was affected by the US economic storm, but I was still a bit hesitant as to whether to return to Taiwan or go to China - so I applied to universities in both Singapore and Taiwan. In the meantime, I took the opportunity to vist Taiwan and South Africa, where I had spend my childhood.

I had been too young to know much of these places before, but on this trip, while the natural landscape in both places was stunning and I was moved by their unique ethnic features, South Africa's serious problem with law and order and Taiwan's chaotic politics left me shocked and disappointed. I had a sudden thought: When I have the means, I will go back and help African children who do not go to school, and change Taiwan's chaotic politics.

The strength to dream big probably stemmed from my 10 years of education in Singapore. Even I was surprised that living in such a small country would give me such a broad perspective of the world.

When I received admission letters from both Nanyang Technological University and National Taiwan University, I decided to stay in Singapore and continue to arm myself and face challenges. Here, I can see my future clearly, hone my skills with peace of mind and realise my dreams.

Before, I could not decide on my birth, place of origin or migrant journey. But now I have grown up and can decide on my own future. Of course, I will not forget where I came from. One day, I may seek my roots. But I cherish even more my present life and this country that groomed me. For this, I am very grateful to my parents for making the right choice.

Unlike 13 years ago, I no longer fight alone. All around me are more and more comrades around my age from different countries, of different nationalities and ethnic groups. Our aim is the same: to shine on the international stage. We never ask what we are fighting for, as it is clearly for ourselves, our families and the country we live in. As for the issue of old and new immigrants, who cares?

If I want to make Singapore proud of me one day, would you be so calculating as to ask me where I come from?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Water Agreements

Note from me: The water agreements have always been used by politicians from our neighbouring country during Dr Mahathir tenure ship as the 4th PM to threaten SIN to rev up sentiments when there were disagreement of sorts. Singapore has already moved on, and now, we are the leader in the treatment of re-cycled water. For as long as Dr M lives, we will not see the end of this water saga despite the first agreement expiring in 2011, sad.

Taken from the blog of Dr Mahathir (

1. Next year, 2011, one of the agreements to supply up to 86 million gallons of water per day (mgd) from Johore to Singapore at 3 sen per 1,000 gallons will end.

2. I understand Johore is still buying treated water from Singapore for 50 sen per 1,000 gallons. The amount purchased should not exceed 12 per cent of the raw water bought by Singapore.

3. The agreement also stipulates that the price of raw water and treated water can be renegotiated and changed if both parties agree. Should the raw water price be revised upwards Singapore would be entitled to revise the price of treated water.

4. If, for example, under the current agreement the water price is increased to 6 sen per 1,000 gallons, i.e. 100 per cent, Singapore can insist on the same percentage price increase by 100 per cent i.e. from 50 sen per 1,000 gallons to one Ringgit per thousand gallons.

5. If both sides agree on this quantum of price increase, Singapore would actually earn more from selling treated water to Johor than Malaysia would earn from selling raw water to Singapore.

6. Almost 10 years ago Johor was allocated sufficient money to build its own treatment plant so as not to buy treated water from Singapore. I am told that for reasons unknown, despite building its own treatment plant Johore is still buying treated water from Singapore.

7. Johore sells raw water to Melaka at 30 sen per 1,000 gallons. It seems that Johore is less generous towards Melaka than it is towards a foreign country. The wisdom of this escapes me.

8. Whatever, in 2011, a new agreement to supply Singapore with raw water from Johore may have to be made, I think that despite Singapore's desalination plant, despite Newater, and new reservoirs, Singapore would still need raw water from Johore. We should be willing to supply the people of Singapore with raw water.

9. The question is whether we should sell at 3 sen per 1,000 gallons and buy at 50 sen per 1,000 gallons of treated water as before or we should extract better terms.

10. Malaysian negotiators are unduly generous and we often provide ourselves with no exit clause. I will not cite the cases.

11. The public, the Johore people in particular, should be assured that we don't make agreements which are indefensible this time.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Scaling The Summit of Mount Kinabalu

My last visit to Sabah was some 15 years ago, then it was a working trip and climbing Mt Kinabalu was certainly never my agenda. This trip with SANL led by T.S. comprised 10 of us with an equal gender distribution of 5 guys and 5 gals.

The highlights of this adventurous trip included scaling the summit of SEA's highest peak, Mt Kinabalu at 4,095.2m, attempting the Via Ferrata at more than 3,000m and roughing out the grade 4 Padas River on a water dinghy.

With trepidation, we left on 28 Oct by Jetstar and on arrival at KK airport, our guide, Andrew from Amazing Borneo was already waiting for us at the airport. It was around 1300 hrs and we were first taken to Wisma Merdeka for our lunch. During my last stay in KK 'umpteen' years ago, Wisma Merdeka used to be my regular haunt being located just next to the hotel where I used to put up, the Hyatt. I cannot recognise the shops in the mall now. We had our lunch in this foodcourt styled in typical fashion back home. After lunch, we were ferried to Zen Garden, our hotel accommodation which is located some 1,500m in the national park region. The journey took some 2 hours to reach. We were given 5 rooms for the 10 of us, both Chua and I shared a room. Dinner was served at the hotel. A quick briefing by Andrew was made during our dinner to better prepare us for the climb the following morning.

We got up by 0630hrs, had our breakfast at 0700hrs and by 0730hrs, we were raring to leave for the national park office to do the registration process first and then to commence the climb. When we arrived at the national park office, we were introduced to our two assgined mountain guides and the sole porter. We were all in awe when we learnt that our assigned porter turned up to be a lady hailing from the tough Dusun tribe. She can carry a maximum load of 30 kgs up and 50 kgs down which made us guys 'malu'. I didn't let her carry my load, both Chua and Alan too while the rest simply off-loaded bulk of their load to her including lunch-boxes - faint man. They charge RM4 per kilo per way for the porterage service. By my reckoning, my own load should be lesser than 10 kgs, Chua's load should be more because he brought more clothing along.

After registration at the national park, we were transferred to Timpohon Gate which is already standing some 1,866m above sea level. I didn't see my watch but it should be around 8.30pm when we commenced our climb. It was an easy ascend, there are man-made steps along the initial part of the climb. We can hear the gushing noise of a waterfall nearby, the Carson Waterfall to be exact. We were taking it very easy, everyone was in a relaxed mood and moving in a group. Rain came shortly after, sigh and we had to take out our poncho or raincoats. The weather had been unpredictable, given it is a start of monsoon period. One moment it was sunny and the very next, it can pour without warning. Fortunately, the downpour was not heavy throughout the climb. I was moving up quite fast, breaking away from the slower ones. Only Alan, T.S., Chua and later, Zhangting and Siti managed to re-group with me at Layang Layang rest point at 2,702m. We had our packet lunch comprising two sandwiches, a hard-boiled egg and a chicken drumstick. I didn't take the drumstick, the oily stuff simply put me off but Chua had mine instead.

After lunch at Layang Layang, I broke-off with the rest as I wanted to arrive at Pendant Hut (3,270m) to take a longer rest & to acclimatise. I took a breather at some point, waited for a while hoping to re-group with Chua, T.S and Alan who should be moving faster than the rest. There were no sign of them after 15 mins of waiting, I decided to move on. The path was mostly rocky, quite easy to climb albeit slippery somewhat due to formation of algae from the intermittent rain. Fortunately, the vegetation did help to shield us from the rain.

I can feel my muscle straining but I ignored it and kept going. After climbing for more than 1 hour, I can see a hut from a distance and I knew I am quite near to our rest station at Pendant Hut. As I neared, I saw a sign pointing to Laba Rata and not long after, another sign pointing to Pendant Hut which was to be our accommodation for the night. I kept to the direction of Pendant Hut, it was not difficult to follow as it has been a single trail from start to end. Finally, I saw a long single row of wooden steps leading all the way to Pendant Hut. I took one step at a time, paused at some point to take a breather and finally, I was at the entrance of Pendant Hut. It was 1215hrs when I looked at my watch. Nothing to fuss, it was a small resting place good for a night and the view up the summit was simply awesome. As I arrived first, I took the chance to 'chop' the whole room of 8 for our group so that we don't mix with other groups. But for the couple, Katherine and Long they had to bunk-in with others in another room. It is dormitory-style living, everyone has to share one big room.

Via Ferrata briefing for all of us must be done by 4pm and those arriving past that time will have to miss it. Chua, T.S., Te and Alan arrived around 2pm. Not long later, Siti, Te and Zhangting arrived too. We were still waiting for Anne and the couple, Kat & Long. Anne arrived after 3pm but she immediately declared she won't be scaling the summit nor doing the Via Ferrata - "wasn't it a waste of money", I wondered to myself. We were still waiting for Long and Kat to arrive, hoping they will make it before 4pm deadline for the briefing. At 3.30pm, there was no sign of them though our mountain guide who was with them reported back they should be arriving by that time. At 3.45pm, still no sign. We kept our fingers crossed. Finally, at exactly 4pm, we saw the two of them slowly inching up the wooden steps. We went out to welcome them, rooting them on. They were totally exhausted but were certainly happy & relieved to have arrived just on the dot. The right side of Long's pants was sliced wide-open, exposing a large part of his 'sexy' leg. It torn off as he did a full stretch we were told but sheepishly, he admitted he is fat. Spurred on by Siti, I took a quick shot of his torn pants with 'evil' intention to post it on FB for everyone viewing when back.

We had our dinner at Laba Rata and the food dished out by them simply blew me away. At such high altitude of 3,270m, I cannot imagine they can still cook such sumptuous buffet spread for us. After a hearty dinner, we headed back to Pendant Hut for an early night. By 7pm, I was already on my bed in hope to rest well for the final assault to the summit. I was fighting hard to sleep but I was kept wide awake by Te's snoring just below me and Alan too, on my left. It was like a symphony choir that kept me awake the whole night. I tossed left, tossed right, counted sheeps but just couldn't sleep at all. At 1pm, I got up, brushed my teeth, dressed up and ready to move out. Everyone was awake by then. After breakfast, everyone except Anne was ready at 2pm for the final ascent. It was still pitch dark, each of us had our head-torch on. I had two layers of shirt, a tight fitting attire and a loose shirt and a sweater outside to fight the cold at the summit. To protect my hands, I first put on the surgical gloves and then the normal gloves. Our two mountain guides made a final count, 9 out of 10 of us with one opting out were ready and then led us all out. It was dark, the head torches were visible as more and more climbers made their way up. I was feeling quite charged-up though I didn't manage to catch a wink the whole night. I made my way past many. Before reaching Sayat Sayat at 3,668m, which was the final check-point, I began to feel uneasy. The breakfast meal that I took early was stuck somewhere near my chest, the 'buttering' feeling made me feel like I am going to throw out anytime soon. As if it was not bad enough, I needed to go toilet to 'bomb' big time. I knew the dreadful mountain sickness was beginning to take a toll on me, slowly but surely. Trying my best to ignore it, I pressed on. When I reached Sayat Sayat check-point, fortunately there is a toilet nearby. I made a dash for it, it was like a big stone had just been lifted off me. For that moment, I felt reprisal of sorts but only just. The uneasiness feeling continued to bother me as I inched higher and higher. The air was getting thinner, breathing was getting heavier and heavier. I had to walk few steps, stopped a while to catch a breather. I felt like vomiting as the mountain sickness had already kicked-in. It was still dark, by my reckoning it should be near 0500hrs. I took the chance to wait for the rest to catch up. Chua appeared not long after followed by Alan, T.S. and Te. I was already feeling sick but decided to push for the summit with them. A mountain guide told us it will take another 1 hour and a half before we could reach the summit. Each step seemed like eternity, slow and punishing on my body.

We could see the summit, the torches were clearly visible on the summit. The entire path leading to the summit was rocky, there was no vegetation to shield from element and some parts were steep too. Sometimes, we had to go on four. Only Alan was with me, we had broken off from the rest. I was feeling weaker and weaker due to the mountain sickness fatigue. I took longer rest each time and Alan stayed around, keeping pace with me. Finally we reached the summit. By then, Chua, T.S. and Te were already waiting and they will happily posing and taking pictures. I was feeling nausea, simply threw myself on the ground. Admittedly, it was a spectacular sight from the top despite my battered shape. A group of Taiwanese simply gathered at the summit, refusing to leave and we had to wait for our turn. It was very cold, I was shivering inside me. The two layers of clothes plus the sweater outside were not enough to protect me from the cold. After the Taiwanese group had left, we managed to move just underneath the summit, rolled out our nicely prepared banner for a group picture. All 5 of us, Chua, T.S., Alan, Te and I made it to the summit - much to our delight. Alas, Siti who was hit by mountain sickness waited somewhere below and Zhang Ting was further down at Sayat Sayat. As we had to re-group by 8am at Sayat Sayat for Via Ferrata, Siti and Zhang Ting had to give the summit a miss. Kat and Long, both suffered badly from mountain sickness had already made a detour back to Pendant Hut.

I felt much better as we descend to Sayat Sayat for our next event, Via Ferrata. After a good short rest at Sayat Sayat, we started our Via Ferrata event led by our instructor, a seasoned no-nonsense chap who insisted that we followed every of his instruction. Te began to feel jittery of the Via Ferrata decided to opt out instead. Thus, only the 6 of us instead of 7 to attempt the Via Ferrata. We were to move as a group in a single file, tied together. I was the leader, the first person to move off followed by Zhang Ting, Alan, Chua, Siti and T.S. in that order. Our instructor was the last person who watched us closely from behind. This was another exhilarating experience, imagine doing Via Ferrata at more than 3,000m. Though we were hanging high up, it was perfectly safe while we inched our way around the cliff. In all, it took us 2 hours to complete the whole circuit. We were told the slowest on record took some 8 hours. The completion of the climb and Via Ferrata in one go will soon earn us two certificates - I felt most satisfied.

The following day was the water rafting event at Padas river. Due to the constant downpour, the river was rated 4 which posed another big challenge for novices like us. We had another eventful day at Padas river and more pictures were taken. My only grouse was the short distance covered, sigh.

Both Chua and I stayed for 2 more nights after the rest had departed on 1 Nov. I took the chance to catch up with some old friends, Ronny, Tan and Maggie. During the additional days, we went island hopping and also did an exploration cruise on Klias river. I truly enjoyed this expedition with the group and have already confirmed my second Mount Kinabalu trip with another group of enthusiastic friends in April next year.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ipoh born, Cambridge educated, Malaysia’s loss, Singapore’s gain

The sorry state of Malaysia's bumi policy continues. Such a rare talent, would have been nurtured properly in his own country but he is going to work in SIN after having earned a rare first class in Cambridge. Read on...

Written By Mariam Mokhtar

He did his parents proud, his teachers are equally elated, his birthplace is euphoric to claim he is one of them, and his country would have been ecstatic.

His name is Tan Zhongshan and he was born in Ipoh. He chose to read law at university because he said, “Being in the legal line gives you a chance to make changes that have a far-reaching effect.”

In June, Tan received a first–class honours in Bachelor of Arts (Law) at Queen’s College, Cambridge, one of the world’s topmost universities. Cambridge, England’s second oldest university, usually contends with Oxford for first place in the UK university league tables.

Tan excelled as the top student in his final-year law examinations, but he also won the “Slaughter and May” prize, awarded by the Law Faculty for the student with the best overall performance.

In addition, he managed to bag the Norton Rose Prize for Commercial Law, the Clifford Chance Prize for European Union Law and the Herbert Smith Prize for Conflict of Laws.

Tan distinguished himself and was a source of help to his fellow students, according to his tutor and the dean of Queen’s college, Dr. Martin Dixon.

Dr. Dixon said, ““He is probably the best Malaysian student I have seen in the last 10 years. He is the most able, dedicated and one of the most likeable students I have taught in more than 20 years at Cambridge. He works really hard, has great insight and intuition. He is a problem-solver, listens well and learns.”

However, the 23-year-old Tan shrugged off his accomplishments which he said was due to “consistent work and a detailed understanding of the subjects.”

Tan, who plays classical guitar, was modest about his success, “It was a pleasant surprise as it is hard to predict the end results.”

Sadly, this brilliant, young Malaysian will not be working in Malaysia.

Tan, who has been in Singapore since August, expects to complete his Bar examinations by the end of 2011 and said, “I will also join the Singapore Legal Service in January”.

After completing his A-levels at the Temasek Junior College, the Singapore Ministry of Education awarded him an Asean scholarship.

Tan will not be the first nor last Malaysian who we let slip through our fingers.

It makes many ordinary Malaysians quietly fill with rage that the policies of our government reward the mediocre or the ‘can-do’ types and ignore the best and the brightest. When will this madness end?

Our judiciary was one of the best in the region, but today, it is not fit for purpose.

Sadly, we have clowns and fools to dictate how our courts are run. The best comedy act was played out recently in the Teoh Beng Hock trial when Thai pathologist Pornthip Rojanasunand was cross-examined by presumably the best of the attorney general’s bunch of merry-men.

If that is how Malaysian lawmakers prefer to project their image to the world, then they really need their heads examined.

We are haemorrhaging our best talent to countries that receive them with open arms. Record numbers of Malaysians are leaving – doctors, surgeons, nurses, lawyers, accountants, lecturers, engineers, quantity surveyors. We are experiencing the biggest exodus in our 53-year history.

It is estimated that there are over 1 million Malaysians living and working abroad, many of whom are highly qualified personnel.

If the government thinks that it is only the non-Malays who are leaving then they are wrong. If Malays are also leaving in large numbers then it should be obvious (which it is presumably to the ordinary man in the street but not to our government) that preferential treatment for Malays is not a major pull nor conducive to the normal thinking person.

What other countries do is to offer Malaysians opportunities – something which is not available, to the majority of Malaysians, of whichever racial origin. Our government fails to realise that people need to feel appreciated and thrive in conditions which stimulate personal development.

Government interference in the things that affect the personal lives of its citizens is what has kept many overseas Malaysians away. At the end of the day, most people value the things that have to do with their quality of life (not just for themselves but especially for their families), the laws, bureaucracy and tax.

Apart from having the best brains, those who left are probably the more assertive ones, the highly ambitious people who would have made good mentors, able and strong leaders. Their absence from our system only weakens us, as a nation.

Will these people return if the ISA is around? No. These people would probably find living in Malaysia under such conditions, like treading on eggshells.

How about corruption, nepotism, cronyism, lack of transparency, limited civil service and educational opportunities, questionable performance-based promotion, lack of freedom of worship, expression and speech, unfair preferential housing, fear for their personal safety and lack of open tenders for government contracts?

These are some of the things that are due for immediate review, but only if Najib is serious about reversing the brain-drain and only if he wants to improve Malaysia’s economy and reputation.

At a time when the country needs to tighten its belt and take effective measures to build a quality nation based on its human capital, Najib seems to build pointless monuments in mega-projects. Why not channel the funds and invest in its best resource – its people?

Malaysia is now paying the price for its crippling policies which our government feels unable, incapable or fearful of changing.

Najib recently warned us about the dangers of not embracing change. He is right. And we are all for it.

Forget about directing Talent Corporation to search for these ‘overseas’ Malaysians. If Najib refuses to make the all-important changes in the country, they will not be swayed.

So when will he legislate for change?

And one last thing: We congratulate Ipoh-born Tan Zhongshan on his outstanding achievements and wish him a bright future.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Racist or Not, Made Your Own Judgment On Dr Mahathir

Taken from a source which is written by a Haris Ibrahim

Dear Mahathir

Malaysianinsider reports that you had "defended the social contract, the so-called unwritten agreement between the Malays and the non-Malays during independence, by affirming that without the agreement, Malaysia would not have been formed".
They quoted you : "If there was no social contract, the terms and conditions of allowing citizenship to non-Malays would have not taken place. One million outsiderswere given citizenships at the time."

Now, this quote from you got me curious. Let me tell you why.

I conferred with my aunt, who confirmed that my maternal great grandfather, Eliathamby, of whom I've written previously in a posting entitled "The land that my forefathers helped build", would have left Ceylon and arrived in what is now West Malaysia, around 1870. He died well before the conclusion of that social contract that you spoke of, so my great grandfather would not have come within those 'one million outsiders' who acquired citizenship at the time of independence in 1957.
My maternal grandfather, Vellupillay T. Williams, never lived to see the formation of Malaya so he, too, did not make up the'one million outsiders'.

Enough of my family tree. Let's look at yours.
I got this from a blog, Malaysiana :
Perhaps, the most famous Malayalee to land in George Town was Iskandar Kutty, a merchant who married a Johor-Riau wife Siti Hawa Iskandar. They became the proud parents of Alor Star's top public school Sultan Abdul Hamid College 's founder-principal and Kedah's royal educator Datuk Mohamad Iskandar.
Mohamad was the school teacher of Tunku Abdul Rahman.
He and his wife Datin Wan Tempawan Wan Hanafi from the Kedah Bendahara's (Prime Minister's) clan, were the proud parents of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's Father of Modernisation and fourth Prime Minister.

And this from Malaysia Today :
Born in December 20, 1925, Dr Mahathir hailed from the state of Kedah, at the capital of Alor Star, whose father was a school teacher. His father was Indian who migrated from Kerala, who married a malay lady and sold banana fritters during the second world war. His early education was through vernacular school and at the Sultan Abdul Hamid College in the city.

My question, then, Doc, firstly, is whether your father was amongst the 'one million outsiders'?
And when did you become 'Malay', Doc?
When did you move from being a son of an Indian who migrated from Kerala to a Malay?
Not that I care, but when?

Speaking of Malay, do you remember your "Malay Dilemma", Doc?
Do you remember what you said about the problem of inbreeding amongst the Malay community, and that whole business of genes? Back then, who had heard of this thing called DNA?

Who had ever imagined that science would one day make it possible for all of us to trace our genealogy?
Guess what, Doc?
It seems, based on all this new DNA scientific knowledge, that there's no such thing as a Malay race.
It would seem that you've gone from being a son of an Indian who migrated from Kerala to a 'does not exist'.

Just like that!
My cyber buddy, Michael Chick, has written extensively on this matter, in a three-parter in Malaysiakini. HERE, HERE, and HERE.
See what Michael writes in his final part : "The people Malaysians call 'Malay', are actually only a tiny sub-component of the much larger Austronesian group. And all Austronesians are the end-product of extensive inter-breeding between the Taiwanese and Dravidic Indians. All this has finally been irrefutably proven by independent DNA testings from world-class faculties".

I've never been very good at all these sciences, Doc, but if you're any better, and you think Michael's cocked-up big time in his conclusions, why don't you take him on?

Damn, I digress.

So when and how did you become Malay, Doc? Because of the definition of 'Malay' in the Federal Constitution, Doc? Article 160 (2)? That right? So, right up until the last moments before Tunku's declaration of independence, you were the son of an Indian who migrated from Kerala, and moments later you were magically transformed into a Malay? And is not the definition of Malay in Article 160(2) stated to be for the limited purpose where the word 'Malay' appears in the Constitution?

But really, Doc, I don't give a toss whether you hold yourself out as Malay or the son of an Indian who migrated from Kerala.Whatever turns you on.

What pisses me off is this Bumi-non Bumi crap. November 19th, last year, The Star reported on Najib's balik kampung to Makassar in South Sulawesi . You can read the report HERE. Courtesy of The Star, Najib is reported to have said : "I feel like I am returning to my roots," and, when asked to comment on the possibility that some people might view the fact that he had roots here in a negative light, Najib said: "I am not apologetic about it. This is my family history and I am proud of it." According to the report, Najib said he was the direct descendant of Bugis royalty who migrated to Pahang in the 18th century.
Well, at least this Malaysian is not ashamed of his roots!

Now, you know that aunt I mentioned earlier? You know her. Aunty Rasammah.

I googled her name yesterday and this is what is written of her in Wikipedia.
"Rasammah Bhupalan, also known as Rasammah Naomi Navarednam or Mrs F.R. Bhupalan is a renowned Malaysian freedom fighter and social activist. Born in 1927, she has championed causes such as the anti-drug abuse movement, women's rights, education and social justice causes. Rasammah was one of the earliest women involved in the fight for Malaysian (then Malaya ) independence. She joined the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, the women's wing of the Indian National Army, to fight the British. She served in Burma during World War II.

As founder president of the Women Teacher's Union , she fought for equal pay for women teachers and tried to bring disparate teachers' unions under an umbrella.
The former school principal was the first Asian representative of the World Confederation of Organisations of the Teaching Profession for two successive terms. She was also very active in the National Council of Women's Organisation (NCWO) and Pemadam.

She was a teacher in the Methodist Boys' School, Kuala Lumpur from 1959 to 1964 and was the principal of the Methodist Girls School , Kuala Lumpur for 13 years from 1970 until she retired in 1982. On 11th November 2007, Mrs.Bhupalan was one of the few veteran teachers who were invited to attend MBSSKL's 110th Anniversary Celebration Dinner. The dinner was specially organized to honour all the former and current teachers of the school".

Quite frankly, I think the write-up in Wikipedia does little justice to all that Aunty Rasammah has done for this country. But that is another matter.

More importantly, Doc, why are you, the son of an Indian who migrated from Kerala, and Najib, the descendant of Bugis who migrated from Sulawesi , became bumiputra, whilst Aunty Rasammah is not?





Sunday, October 03, 2010

Pink Ribbon Walk and Run 2010

This year's Pink Ribbon Walk and Run on 2 Oct, Saturday was my second in consecutive time. The difference is last year men can only participate in the walk event and for the first time this year, the organisers viewed supports from the men should be encouraged too, thus the run category was opened to the men. The walk and run event was held in the same venue as last year at the former Big Splash along East Coast and the distance, 5km for both run and walk respectively.

The flag-off was scheduled at 8am for the competitive run and 8.45am for the walk. In bid to go green, I decided to cycle instead of driving, left my house at 7am which took me less than half hour to reach the venue. I was warmed up enough by the time I reached, parked my mountain bike near the guard post and then proceeded to place my haversack at the left baggage tent. It was still early, some 20 mins before the flag-off. I slowly made by way to the start-line and hoping to catch some familiar faces but no luck.

This being a Pink Ribbon event, ladies typically should form the majority and by my reckoning, some 70% come from the fairer gender. There were no more than 1,500 runners in the competitive run event. The guest-of-honour Grace Fu and some VIPs were up on the rostrum 10 mins before flag-off at 8am ready to blow the horn. At exactly 8am we were flagged-off to the applause of the crowd.

To my liking, the weather was fine, wasn't humid - fortunately. I was moving in a steady pace, not wanting to accelerate though it was only 5km. As it is not possible to completely close the entire running path in East Coast, we had to watch out for joggers from the opposite side and even cyclists too. The route took us from former Big Splash to the direction of East Coast Lagoon. Before reaching the chalets, we made a U-turn (2.5km mark) back. At that point, I decided to accelerate a little, past some runners who had earlier started ahead of me. The route has been a familiar site to me thus I know where exactly I should accelerate and finish on the high. The finishing was near with 100 metres or so and in my typical fashion, I accelerated faster and faster. I looked up and saw the clock showing 23 mins plus before touching the tape. By my standard, it was a good time. I gave a 'first' sign to the crowd, raised my cap in acknowledgement and walked to the finish tent for my drink and wet issue. No medal was given to all finishers though top 3 finishers walked away with good prizes. I didn't bother to find out for I knew I was not the top 3 finishers. I should be happy if I finish among the top 5%.

I spent some time walking around, had a cup of milo and hot milk and found a good spot to catch a breather. After retrieving my haversack, I took my bicycle and cycled home. That was how I spent my Saturday morning but in my little way, I felt tinge of satisfaction supporting the Pink Ribbon cause. This run is dedicated to all the cancer survivors - kudos!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dr Mahathir's Futile Rebuttal To MM Lee's Take On Racial Issues

Clash of the titans of the old guards between the 'supposedly retired for good' Dr M and our dear MM Lee. Credits to the both of them for their contributions to their respective countries as PM. MM Lee was recently interviewed by New York Times to speak on race relations between the two countries which garnered international audience, whereas Dr M's futile rebuttal of sorts could only attract some domestic listeners. Dr M, if he still remains effective (that is), should seek New York Times for a slot to be interviewed too. Below is another nonsensical article of his taken from his blog. Give it to this old fella for his unwavering spirit in trying to match up with MM Lee on the international arena and let outsiders, not Singaporeans or Malaysians form their own judgment.

1. Mr Lee Kwan Yew, the Minister Mentor of Singapore is three years my senior. That means he and I practically grew up in the same period of time. That also means that I have been able to watch the progress of Mr Lee, and in fact to interact with him on various occasions.

2. His assertion in his interview with the New York Times that "Race relations (would be) better if Singapore (had) not (been) "turfed out" (of Malaysia) is worth studying. Is it true or is it fantasy?

3. Before Singapore joined the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia, there was less racial politics in the Federation of Malaysia. In 1955 the Malays who made up 80 per cent of the citizens gave a large number of their constituencies to the few Chinese and Indian citizens and ensured they won with strong Malay support. As a result the Alliance won 51 of the 52 seats contested.

4. The Tunku then rewarded this willingness of the Chinese and Indian citizens to support the coalition concept by giving them one million unconditional citizenship. This reduced Malay majority to 60 per cent.

5. In the 1959 elections the Alliance of UMNO, MCA and MIC won easily though Kelantan was lost. PAS with only Malays as members was rejected. Racialism even when implied failed.

6. In 1963 Singapore became a part of Malaysia. Despite having promised that the PAP will not participate in Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak politics, Kwan Yew reneged and the PAP tried to displace the MCA in the Alliance by appealing to Chinese sentiments in the Peninsular. Of course the slogan was "Malaysian Malaysia" which implied that the Chinese were not having equal rights with the Malays. If this appeal to Chinese sentiments against the Malays was not racial, I do not know what is racial.

7. But the Peninsular Chinese favoured working with the Malays in UMNO. They totally rejected PAP in 1964.

8. Following the Malaysian Malaysia campaign a few UMNO leaders tried to rouse Singapore Malay sentiments. There were demonstrations in Singapore where before there were none. Kwan Yew accused Jaafar Albar for instigating the Singapore Malays. Although I never went to Singapore, nor met the Malays there, I was labelled a Malay-ultra by Kwan Yew himself.

9. By 1965 racism had taken hold and the Tunku was forced to end Singapore's membership of Malaysia. But the seed of Chinese racialism had been sown, so that even after the PAP left, the "Malaysian Malaysia" war cry was picked up by the DAP, an offspring of the PAP.

10. With the background of Singapore's activities in Malaysia in the short three years of its membership, can we really believe that if it had not been "turfed out" race relations would be better in Malaysia?

11. But proof of what would have happened was shown by the politics leading up to the 1969 Election. The MCA began to criticise the Sino/Malay cooperation especially on so-called special rights and demanded for a Chinese University. UMNO then began to clamour for a greater share of the economy of the country. The UMNO/MCA conflict resulted in the Alliance faring very badly in the 1969 Elections.

12. DAP and Gerakan, a new party largely made up of MCA dissidents made gains. The Alliance were shocked and rattled.

13. Then the Gerakan and DAP held their victory parade near the Malay settlement of Kampung Baru, hurling racist insults at the Malays. The result was the 13th May race riots.

14. Till today the racist slogan "Malaysian Malaysia" is the war-cry of the DAP. Racism in Malaysia is clearly the result of Singapore's membership of the country for just three years. Can we really believe that if Singapore had not been "turfed out" Malaysia would have no racial problem.

15. While Kwan Yew talks about his belief that all ethnic communities should free themselves from the shackles of racial segregation in order to promote fairness and equality among the races, he also said that "once we are by ourselves (out of Malaysia) the Chinese become the majority".

16. Singapore's population is made up of 75 per cent Chinese and they own 95 per cent of the economy. It is therefore not a truly multi-racial country but a Chinese country with minority racial groups who are additionally much poorer.

17. In Singapore dissent is not allowed, People who contest against the PAP would be hauled up in court for libel and if they win elections would not be allowed to take their places in Parliament. Whereas in Malaysia opposition parties invariably win seats in Parliament and even set up State Governments (today five out of the 13 States are ruled by the opposition parties) the PAP in Singapore has to appoint PAP members to represent the opposition.

18. Whether the PAP admits it or not, the party has always been led and dominated by ethnic Chinese and have won elections principally because of Chinese votes. The others are not even icing on the cake.

19. If Singapore is a part of Malaysia the PAP can certainly reproduce the Singapore kind of non-racial politics because together with the Malaysian Chinese, the PAP will ethnically dominate and control Malaysian politics. No dissent would be allowed and certainly no one would dare say anything about who really runs the country.

20. Amnesia is permissible but trying to claim that it is because Singapore had been "turfed out" for the present racist politics in Malaysia is simply not supported by facts of history.

21. Lee Kwan Yew and I saw the same things and know the reasons why.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Marathon Du Medoc 2010, France

This year was the 26th edition of Medoc Marathon, a proud tradition of the southern French which is second to the Paris Marathon in term of international popularity and participation level in France. Held on 11 Sep, Sunday in this wine growing town called Pauillac, which is about two hours ride from the historical city, Bordeaux where my accommodation is located.

Capped at no more than 8,000 runners, all participants practically had to fight hard for a place based on first-come-first-served only. Over in Singapore, this year our Stanchart Marathon boosts of some 60,000 runners in varied categories, an Asia record but in this Medoc event, quality stuff counts much. Almost every runner dressed to the occasion - the theme this year was 'Comic Hero', though many were not in sync with the given theme but really, who bothered much. I'd never witnessed an event like this in Singapore, so much alive and the supports from the ground, simply blew me away. For the record, this Medoc event actually attracted some 37 nationalities from around the globe excluding the French runners, of course. Our highly paid STB personnel should learn a lesson or two from them on how to internationalise our big-name marathons, the likes of Stanchart Marathon & Adidas Sundown Marathon luring the foreign runners and to cultivate/motivate local supports to the fullest. This is much more healthier and wholesome than relying on capital intensive IRs to bring in gaming tourists to our shore, rightly or wrongly. Without doubt, it will inspire more Singaporeans to appreciate sports.

From our little red dot, we had six participants (me & Yaw Heng included) and we are proud to say Singapore is the only country hailing from Southeast Asia. However, I lament I did not get to meet any of our Singaporean counterparts though I did chance upon some oriental faces along the way. Japanese runners form the bulk from Asia, some 165 of them to say the least.

I have to say it is indeed my greatest honour to be running this Medoc event, my second 42km marathon where I did my first at last year's Stanchart run. All this was only made possible with sponsorship by France Tourist Office in Singapore and AirFrance, the latter for the air passage. Thanks once again, to my sponsors for their kind generosity.

On the day of event, I got up early at 0545hrs and by 0630hrs, Yaw Heng and I were waiting at a designated pick-up point near our hotel for the 2-hour coach ride to Pauillac. We had runners hailing from the U.S.A., Canada, U.K., Mexico and Japan taking the same coach with us - a motley group of people indeed.

We arrived at about 0830 hrs in Pauillac. It was a sunny morning to start off and the morning weather was cool, something we can never get to experience in our humid Singapore. Everyone was getting ready with their own costumes and raring to go. I put on my 'self-made' Flintstones tee while Yaw Heng drew out his 'Lao Fu Zi' costume. I then put on the water-based tattooes, two Singapore flags on both sides of my face (patriotic, right?) and the logos of AirFrance and France Tourism on both my arms (to thank my sponsors). Yaw Heng had a Singapore flag on one side of his face and a Malaysia flag on the other (He is a PR, having best of both world). I saw one participant in his Flintstones costume and gestured to him which he responded with a thumbs-up. In fact, there were quite a number decked in Flintstones costumes. Hordes of participants arrived and we slowly made our way to the start-off point.

The announcer was simply energetic though I couldn't understand a word of French utterred out. We swayed with the music, danced & clapped in unison and at 0930hrs sharp, we were finally flagged-off - the race had begun. Though it was sunny, the weather was still cool much to my delight.

For the first 10km, we were running on tared road or gravel path but it was generally flat. I was doing fine, keeping pace with many front runners. At almost every turn, there were some supporters rooting us on. The clock showed 59mins plus at 11km mark which was a fast pace for me, considering it was a 42km run. I must say I was pleasantly pleased with the timing thus far, hoping to clock under 5 hours if I can maintain this pace to the end. However, I felt muscle strain on one my legs at about 15km mark which I normally do not encounter in my training and past long events. Disregarding it, I pressed on but moved on slower pace. We ran past long stretch of vineyard, there no shade to shield from the sorching sun which was getting fiercer and fiercer as the clock ticked on. There were no toilets anywhere around, we had to relieve in the vineyard or by the bushes and ladies too - modesty seemed to be secondary. As we moved further, the path was mostly undulating and that was the challenging part when our legs began to tire down. At some point, we had to run through a stretch of sandy path too. The supports from the residents were simply amazing. They were rooting us on, calling up our names (I had my name on my tag) which was certainly morale booster for me. Save for the vineyard, at every corner we can find residents offering us an assortment of items from water, wine, food, fruits, medical assistance and even live band.

The clocked showed 3 hrs 15 mins at 30km mark and by then I wondered to myself, "I had to finish at least 1 hr 30 mins in the last 12 km in order to come under 5 hrs which was own my personal target." Heart willing but my own body did not seem to want me to fight on. The cramp on both calves and thighs was building up fast. I had to stop, did some stretching and then walked & ran intermittently. At one stop, I had to sought the assistance of the medical helper who massaged on my legs which did help greatly.

Admittedly, the last 12km was indeed punishing for every 1km seemed like eternity when both my legs were aching like hell. Under that condition, there was no difference between running or walking, I had to straggle between running and walking. Many runners shot past me, even some much older men and women. At some point, an old lady who had an Alsatian dog in tow got past me too. Somehow, I managed to overtake her again and from there on, I did not see her in front of me anymore, phew!

The sun whether it is in Singapore or France is equally torturing. Imagine running under the sorching sun for 4 to 5 hours and for some, 6 hours or longer, without shade in the entire journey, I can feel I was being roasted alive.

Slowly but surely, I inched past 39km, then 40km and then 41km. I decided to quicken my pace in the last 1km despite the severe pain in my legs. Just ahead, I saw the grand stands holding the crowd at the finish line and I mustered my last and raced down the last 100 metres to the applause of the crowd. The clock showed 5 hours 9 mins 40 seconds when I ran underneath it and by my reckoning, my net finish should be 5 hours 7 mins plus. Though I couldn't clock under 5 hours in this event (well, will live another day to achieve my personal best in the near future, this is my target) but on whole, I enjoyed this event thoroughly.

Admittedly, none of our event in Singapore can come even near to that. Fantastic is the word to describe the occasion. To the organisers of Medoc Marathon, kudos to you guys for the great job.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dr M's Beloved NEP, doomed to fail from start?

When he was PM and now in his retirement, Dr M has never failed to live up to his notoriety with his 'bashing' of SIN whenever he feels like revving up Malay sentiments in his own country. He is a racist, no doubt about it.

Here, allow me to post an article written by a Lu Pin Qiang whom I reckon is a Malaysian. It first appeared in the Sin Chew Jit Poh, a Malaysian newspaper recently.

Written by Lu Pin Qiang

I believe many people would agree if one said Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew was one of the most successful politicians in recent times. I believe, too, that no one would object if one said his methods of governance were worth studying.

Speaking at a dinner held recently to mark the Republic's National Day, he said: "If one day, our communities become divisive and hostile towards one another; if they are not united and the bonds of national cohesion are weakened, the country will go downhill."

MM Lee attributed Singapore's "improbable success" to four factors.

First, having leaders of integrity who have the trust of the people to build a strong foundation for nation-building.

Second, having a meritocracy, where people can attain their goals based on merit and not connections, nepotism or corruption, regardless of their backgrounds.

Third, having a level playing field for all, with nobody given special attention or discriminated against by national policies.

Fourth, using English, the most common language in the world, as the working language of Singapore. This has enabled the country to avoid marginalising minority races and to become the commercial, industrial, financial and communications hub it is today.

These remarks from MM Lee should absolutely be studied and reflected upon by all countries.

No doubt, the conditions in Malaysia are different from those in Singapore. But just think: Malaysia has plenty of natural resources and wide tracts of land, yet why is it no match for "tiny" Singapore? Whether it is the economy, international fame or the credibility of its government and trying to catch up.

How did it turn out this way? Singapore carried out nation-building. So did Malaysia. Singapore has joined the league of First World countries; Malaysia is still a Third World country. At bottom, there is only one answer to the question. That is, the two countries chose different paths right from the start.

The path Malaysia chose was not based on any of the aforementioned four factors which MM Lee cited for Singapore's success. Given the political scandals and corruption controversies that have occurred in Malaysia over the years, can the country really have an upright and trustworthy leadership?

Does it have meritocracy? Under the New Economic Policy (NEP), are Malaysians living in an environment where policies favour some and discriminate against others? Has Malaysia avoided marginalising minority races?

After we have answered the above questions, Malaysians should be able to reflect on why they are what they are today. Do Malaysians continue to pin their hopes on NEP or the National Economic Model? Are they going to stick to the same path?

It is time to change course!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Is Dr M A Racist?

In Dr M's latest posting on his blog,, he again pulled in our MM Lee for special mention, which is of course not unusual of him. To strike a salient point, I copied a comment posted by one of his blind followers who himself (or so he claimed here) was a MARA scholar, a beneficial of Dr M's loop-sided NEP. For a scholar like Milsha to have written such a 'great masterpiece' in English language, i.e., greatly spells the sorry state of NEP in the bolehland. Read on for a good laugh...

Posted By Milshah (one of Dr M's blind followers who must have worshipped him like GOD)

Assalamualaikum Tun and Selamat Berpuasa,

Is meritocracy racist? It is racist when it is being used as an excuse for one race to become dominant over all the other races. For example, Singapore supposedly practice meritocracy. But we can see the economy, the military, the government and everything under the Singapore Sun is being controlled by only 1 race, the Chinese. The Malays Singapore is being sidelined to extent they have no role to in the nation building in Singapore. Of course no one talks about this, so long as meritocracy is being devotely practiced. On the other hand, Malaysia has NEP, but we can see the cabinet ministers are multiracial, we see the corporate leaders are multiracial, even our military and police force is multiracial. Most of the top 10 most richest Malaysian are non-Malays. So who is being more racist? Singapore or Malaysia?

We talk about Singapore because that is what some (or most?) Malaysian Chinese want Malaysia to be. Practicing "meritocracy" but opening the possibility of everything being controlled by 1 race. As Tun mention, maybe meritocracy is being used as an excuse to control everything by 1 race, as happened in Singapore.

There are some successful Malays. Some of them has become successful lawyers, owning the big or large law firms, some of them has become successful bankers and corporate leaders. I am sad that some of these Malays support meritocracy without fully understanding the implications to the country. They only look at themselves, once successful, suddenly meritocracy is the name of the game. Ironically, these successful Malays only called for meritocracy when they are at the top of their game. When they first started out in the corporate world or when they first wanted to enter university, there was no mention of meritocracy. The government, in the quest to create a successful Malays to balance the economic inequity among the races, has helped them become what they are today. They are burning the bridge that they used to become successful so that future generation Malays may not use the same bridge. If this is not selfish (some would say treacherous), I do not know what is.

I am a Malay and had benefited from the NEP, being a Mara scholar. Therefore, I feel duty bound to help my fellow Malays who are still struggling to become successful in their own country. The makcik, pakcik from the kampung. They are proud I am one of the successful Malays as most malay youths in the kampungs are still drug addicts. The Malays has still a long way to go to become successful. I would have hoped the succesful lawyers, bankers and corporate leader to look at their fellow malays in the kampungs before talking about meritocracy. Remember your roots. How you become as you are now.

1Malaysia can still be a reality. The problem is the inequity among the races. Most houses, banglos, mansions in the city belong to the Chinese. Most businesses belong to the Chinese. Even the in the private sector, even though the chairman is Malay, the middle management and front liners are mostly Chinese. The Malays are at the exact opposite. So how do we balance this imbalance? Either make the Chinese poorer to match the Malays, or help the Malays increase their livelihood to match the Chinese. Tun Razak know about this and that was how the NEP was formed. Instead of taking what the Chinese own, he chose to increase the livelihood of the Malays so that hopefully, it will match the Chinese and balance the equation.

Once that is done, once everyone is on equal footing, only then can 1Malaysia be a reality.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two Disabled Singaporeans To Run In Beijing Marathon

Extracted from Channel News Asia report, I am deeply humbled by these two Singaporeans in their resolute to run a full marathon despite one without an arm and the other a leg. Please find their inspiring story below.

SINGAPORE : Running a marathon remains a dream for many, but two disabled Singaporeans will live their dreams in the Beijing marathon this October.

Even though MD Shariff Abdullah runs with a prosthetic limb, while Adam Khamis runs without his right arm, they are able to compete against their able—bodied counterparts.

This was the result of determination and training.

31—year—old Khamis lost his right arm in a traffic accident seven years ago.

"I used to be an outgoing person. I was into bodybuilding, train five to six times in a week, and I used to be into soccer, rock—climbing... So when your life turns 180 degrees, things started to slow down. To get back on my feet — to start running — it took me a few years," said Khamis.

Today, he runs because he wants to raise awareness for disability sports.

Khamis said: "After my accident, I was not introduced to all this. So I thought maybe I have to do my part, to tell people that there’s such a thing as disability sports, where disabled athletes try to achieve their dreams.

"We’re different physically, but we are still able to do something, to achieve something in life."

Sharing his passion for running is 44—year—old Shariff, who was born without a left foot.

Two years ago, his doctor advised him to amputate five inches of the stump when he felt pain in the area.

Shariff said: "After my leg was amputated in 2008, I decided to run marathons because this is one of my dreams. I was inspired by this guy — Oscar Pistorius — he’s a world double—amputee runner. And from there I saw him, if he can do it, why not me. As a Singaporean, I can do it.

Both Khamis and Shariff will be heading to Beijing this October.

Their trip will be funded by the North East Special Talent Fund, which is set up to encourage those with disabilities to pursue their dreams.

"I want amputees in Singapore to come and join in disabled sports. Focus on yourself, believe in yourself, and it’s not over until you win — this is what you have to believe," said Shariff.

And Shariff already has his next goal set — he’s aiming for Mount Everest in 2015. — CNA /ls

Monday, August 09, 2010

Trekking at Bukit Timah on 8 Aug

Save for my army training years ago, I cannot remember I ever did a hike in Bukit Timah. This one led by seasoned trekker, SP, had attracted a motley of some 30 of us.

I was thinking of parking my car near the Malayan Dairy Farm and from there, I should be able to make my way to the visitor's centre where all of us were to gather. But I should count my lucky star when I decided to change that decision at last hour, took up SP's advice to park at Beauty World mall as waiting time for a free carpark lot could take half an hour or so. I would have gotten lost myself if I decided to drive to Malayan Dairy Farm side, totally two different sides altogether.

Requested Hwee who was to take a bus from her home in Woodlands to wait for me near Beauty World, and she will guide me to the visitor's centre. It was my first time to the visitor's centre, could have lost my way if I had gone alone - for sure.

The trek was to start at 0830 hrs and we had arrived around that time, SP was already waiting for us. It was my first time meeting SP though I have read about him and his many trekking trips on website and FB.

I reckon we started around 0845 hrs and before setting-off, SP gave us a short briefing on the route and the expected distance & completion time. The entire distance should take around 8 km and if all goes well, we should be back by 1230 hrs. We will start off from the visitor's centre, head into the trail around Bukit Timah which will take us to the Singapore Quarry.

I was among the last, was chatting with Meiti when we set-up. Meiti and another friend who came late had yet to move on. When the group moved into the trail from the tared road, I almost lost them as there were two paths. Meiti and her friend by then had already join me. Quickly I called Hwee on her handphone to estabish their location and after getting assurance from her that we were on the right path, we quickened our pace to catch up. Again, Meiti received a call from another friend who had just arrived and quick instructions were given to her friend to try to meet up with us.

About 1 km later, SP made the first stop for the rest of us to catch up. By then, Meiti and her two friends managed to join the rest of the group but they were really panting away.

For me, this was an easy trail though at some point, we had to do some ascending. Again, I was the more chatty one and quickly, made friends with some in the group. Hwee was mostly among the front of the pack and I didn't get to chit-chat with her along the way.

The sight that fascinated me most is the Singapore Quarry. This reminds me of little Guilin, simply beautiful. We took our group pictures before heading back.

By the time, we reached visitor's centre it was around 1230 hrs. Some of us had our lunch in the hawker centre at Beauty World and we had good time sharing our experiences and getting to know each other better. I truly enjoyed this trekking and the company was great.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Malays in Singapore – No Crutch Mentality

Allow me to post this speech by Berita Harian Singapore editor Guntor Sadali, at the Berita Harian Singapore Achiever of the Year Awards ceremony on July 28, 2010

It is a fact known to all that Malays in Singapore are a minority.

However this minority is quite different from other minorities in the world.

Similarly, to some, Singapore is just a red dot in this vast Asian region.

But it is no ordinary red dot.

It is a grave mistake to equate size with ability, just as it is wrong to assume that being small and in the minority is to be weak and insignificant.

The recent World Cup proved this. While Spain may be the world champion, it was minnow Switzerland that became the only country in the tournament that was able to defeat Spain.

Forty-five years have passed since Singapore left Malaysia, yet every now and then we still hear non-complimentary comments from across the Causeway about the Malay community here.
The latest came from former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who casually reminded Malaysian Malays not to become like Singaporean Malays.

He did not make it clear what he actually meant, but the comment was made in the context of the possibility of Malaysian Malays losing their power in Malaysia.

Again he did not specify what type of power, but it could safely be interpreted as political power.

Now, what could have happened to the Malays here in the last four decades?

What could have driven Dr Mahathir to voice his concern and to caution the Malaysian Malays?

I wonder.

The Malay community in Singapore, of course, know what has become of us here.

First and foremost, we have become a completely different community from what we were 45 years ago.

We have developed our own identity and philosophy of life that are distinct from our relatives across the Causeway.

We may wear the same clothes, eat the same food, speak the same language and practise the same culture.

However, the similarities end there.

We are now a society that upholds the philosophy of wanting to stand on our own feet, or what is known in Malay as ‘berdikari’ or ‘berdiri atas kaki sendiri’.

We do not believe in being spoon-fed or being too dependent on government help.

In other words, we do not have a crutch mentality.We firmly believe that a community with such a crutch mentality will soon become a “two M” community – the first ‘M’ stands for ‘manja’ (spoilt), and the second for ‘malas’ (lazy).

We definitely do not want to be labelled as a pampered and lazy community.

That is why our Malay community here constantly work hard to raise funds to build our own mosques, madrasahs and other buildings in expensive and land-scarce Singapore.

Over the years we have raised millions of dollars to become proud owners of these buildings.

Through our own efforts and with the help of other organisations, we have also helped the needy not only financially, but also in equipping them with new skills so that they can earn their living.

For Dr Mahathir, however, all that we have done and achieved so far are not good enough.

He takes a negative view of our changed attitudes and different mindset, and has therefore cautioned Malaysian Malays not to be like us.

What about power? For Malays in Singapore, power is not about wielding the keris.

For us, knowledge is power. In fact we believe that knowledge is THE real power.

The constant emphasis by the community on the importance of education and acquiring knowledge has led to the formation of institutions such as Mendaki, Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP), the Prophet Mohamad Birthday Memorial Scholarship Board (LBKM) and many others.

These self-help organisations not only provide financial help to needy students, but also strive to nuture our students to their full potential.

At the same time, these organisations help to tackle various social ills faced by the community.

Again, we do these all on our own. Malay children here attend the same schools as other Singaporeans with a shared aim – to obtain a holistic education and, of course, achieve good examination results.

Yes, it is tough. Like all other children, our Malay students have no choice but to work hard.

It is a reality of life in Singapore that we have come to accept – that there is certainly no short cut to success.

We do not believe in getting any special treatment, because it would only reduce the value of our achievements and lower our dignity.

The meritocratic system that we practise here is, without doubt, a tough system but it helps us to push ourselves and prevent us from becoming ‘manja’ and ‘malas’.

Still, Dr Mahathir and some Malay leaders across the Causeway do not like the way we do things here and have therefore warned Malaysian Malays not to be like us.

On our part, there is certainly no turning back.

Meritocracy has proven to be a good and fair system.

It pushes us to work hard and makes us proud of our achievements.

We can see how it has benefited us by looking at the growing number of doctors, lawyers, magistrates, engineers, corporate leaders and other professionals among us.

It is the successes and achievements of some of these people that Berita Harian wants to highlight and celebrate when we launched this Achiever Award 12 years ago.

Tonight, we have another role model to present to our community.

So, the question is: Shouldn’t our friends and relatives across the Causeway be like us – Malays in Singapore?

It is definitely not for us to suggest or decide.

And we too have no intention of asking our own community if we would like to be like them either, because we have already chosen our very own path for the future.

We, the Malays in Singapore, should be proud of our achievements, because we have attained them through hard work.

It is true that what we have achieved so far may not be the best, and that we are still lagging behind the other races.

There are large pockets in our community facing various social problems.

We have achieved so much, and yet there is still a long way to go. But we should not despair.

We can do a lot more on our own if the community stay united and cohesive.

In critical issues, we should speak with one voice.

We need to help and strengthen each other while at the same time reach out to the other communities in multi-racial, multi-religious Singapore. A successful and prosperous Singapore can only mean a successful and prosperous Malay community.

Can we do it? Well, to borrow US President Barack Obama’s campaign slogan, “ Yes, we can”.