The fragrance that clings to the hand that gives roses

Reflecting on yesterday's blog, I realised that, of the five things I said I would do for others, the 'benefactors' of four were actually people I will always be grateful for. Here is why:

  • "helping a friend edit a report before he submits it to his boss" - This friend does not know that it was his revelation a year ago that he had the habit of writing a blog a day which gave me the motivation and determination to do the same. Without his example, I definitely wouldn't have kept it up.

  • "helping a friend who asked for ideas for a presentation do some research and then make some PowerPoint slides" - This friend is my former boss who has now retired. In a world where good bosses and colleagues are harder to find than Osama bin Laden, this great guy gave me more guidance, tolerance and, dare I say, love than I could ever dream of.

  • "preparing for a lesson that I will teach as a volunteer teacher tomorrow" - The organiser of this volunteer work project is the priest who officiated my marriage in his home country when he was on holiday there.

  • "helping my wife's friend figure out how he can upload things to the website that he paid someone to build for his business" - This person has been giving chiropractic treatment to my wife on a weekly basis.

So the realisation that, in helping them, I am actually paying them back in a small way has made the effort even more satisfying. To quote from Robin S. Sharma's The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari yet again, "when you work to improve the lives of others, you indirectly elevate your own life in the process."


No pay? Okay

I've taken today off but it has been an even busier day than when I have to go to work.
The difference, apart from being able to get out of bed on my own terms rather than being held to ransom by the alarm clock, is that the things I have done are those that I choose to, not paid to, do. And the fact that they all involve helping others has made it all the more satisfying. The tasks include:
  • helping a friend edit a report before he submits it to his boss
  • helping a friend who asked for ideas for a presentation do some research and then make some PowerPoint slides
  • making preparation for the volunteer work that I will be doing tomorrow
  • helping my wife's friend figure out how he can upload things to the website that he has paid someone to build for his business
  • helping a friend contact an acquaintance regarding a product that he would like to source for his potential business
I didn't get to finish everything in a day of course, but then I never expected to. And in writing about them, I didn't intend to boast about how generous I am or how I like helping others. The point I am trying to make is just that how much satisfaction or sense of fulfillment you can out of doing something has absolutely nothing to do with whether you are paid to do it. It is just a great feeling to know that what you do has made things easier for someone else.


Why did they do it?

There was an awful family tragedy in the news a couple of days ago. A fifteen-year-old teenager suddenly turned violent in the middle of the night and stabbed his mother and younger sister to death. The teenager has a close family and is considered to be a nice boy by others. There was no sign or record of mental disorder. After the tragedy, he was heard to be murmuring "flood... glacier... too many people in the world".

His father was completely baffled. He was shocked at the calmness of his son. "It was his mother and sister who died, but he hasn't shed a single tear." Nor could he understand why his son had done such a senseless thing. "He has a character which is like mine so he is absolutely not a child with violent inclinations."

Some of the mysteries surrounding the case may be unlocked after further policie investigation. The tragedy reminded me of one of my favourite songs, I Don't Like Mondays performed by the Boomtown Rats. The song, written by Bob Geldof, was based on the true story of a shooting spree. On Monday, 29 January 1979, Brenda Spencer, a 16-year-old high school student of San Diego, USA, opened fire on the elementary school opposite her home, killing two adults and injuring nine children. She showed no remorse for her crime. When asked for an explanation, she said: "I don't like Mondays; this livens up the day." Her father couldn't understand. He stated to the press, "I don't know why she did it... she was as good as gold".

And here are the lyrics of the song:

The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload
And nobody’s gonna go to school today
She’s gonna make them stay at home
And daddy doesn’t understand it
He always said she was good as gold
And he can see no reasons
'Cos there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be show-ow-ow-ow-own?

Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
I wanna shoo-oo-woo-woo-woo-oot the whole day down

The Telex machine is kept so clean
And it types to a waiting world
And mother feels so shocked
Father’s world is rocked
And their thoughts turn to their own little girl
Sweet 16 ain’t that peachy keen
Now that ain’t so neat to admit defeat
They can see no reasons
'Cuz there are no reasons
What reasons do you need?
Oh Oh oh whoa whoa

Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-woo-woo-oot
The whole day down, down, down, shoot it all down

And all the playing's stopped in the playground now
She wants to play with the toys a while
And school's out early and soon we'll be learning
And the lesson today is how to die
And then the bullhorn crackles
And the captain tackles
(With the problems of the how's and why's)
And he can see no reasons
'Cos there are no reasons
What reason do you need to die, die?
Oh Oh Oh

Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like
I don’t like (Tell me why)
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like
I don’t like (Tell me why)
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don't like Mondays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-woo-woo-woot the whole day down


A small region with a big footprint

A recent poll by a local university came to the uncomfortable conclusion that the higher a person's education standard, the higher his carbon emission.

According to the research leader, Hong Kong people are prone to the bad habits that lead to carbon emission, such as going online whenever possible (and not turning off the computer afterwards), eating more meat than vegetables, buying takeaway food and accepting disposable tableware, not carrying a handkerchief and not taking a water bottle with them. He urges Hongkongers to cut out such habits. He believes that the correlation between high education standard and high carbon emission can be attributed to those people being more knowledgeable with the use of the computer, always having to use the computer at work as well as their living habits.

It is a pity that in Hong Kong is no longer included in the international eco-footprint ranking after 1997 because Hong Kong is not a country, but according to pre-1997 figures, Hong Kong had a very large eco-footprint, with a ranking of 13 among the world's countries. One would have thought that well-educated individuals have the awareness and sense of responsibility for conservation, but that has not been the case. The sad truth is that higher education leads to more wealth and greater demand for convenience, comfort and enjoyment.

Many people are choosing a lifestyle as if there is no tomorrow. If the great damage to the environment is allowed to go on, it is doubtful whether there really will be a tomorrow!


Throw the Octopus in the frying pan (2)

While Paul the Psychic Octopus in Germany is enjoying some good-natured, magnanimous treatment by the public, Prudence the Octopus chief in Hong Kong may not be quite so lucky.

Prudence Chan, CEO of the electronic smart card company, provoked a huge public outcry by initially denying flatly that Octopus would sell cardholders' personal data to any third parties and finally admitted during a Privacy Commission hearing that they had sold the personal particulars of 1.97 million customers to six companies for HKD44 million over the past four and a half years. What got the general public so infuriated is not only that their personal data have been sold for a profit but also that the integrity of the CEO is highly questionable following what looked to be an attempt to cover up the truth with blatant lies. "Tentacles of Lies," exclaimed a newspaper headline today.

How ironic that the dictionary defines the word "prudence" as "discretion in practical affairs" and "knowing how to avoid embarrassment or distress".

It remains to be seen whether the slippery Octopus can wriggle out of this one or the recipes referred to yesterday can be put to good use.


Throw the Octopus in the frying pan (1)

Paul the Psychic Octopus got himself in hot water (and possibly in hot oil) by making his predictions of match results in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. There were calls for chopping him up, stewing, frying, roasting or grilling him for the 'crime' of getting his predictions right. "Cut him up in thin slices and grill him on all sides with a dash of lemon juice, olive oil and garlic on it," said a German fan. "Throw him in the frying pan," wrote a German newspaper.

These two recipes provided in an online article are good examples of these calls for his head (or his tentacles):

"Paul the Psychic Octopus Stewed
Ingredients: Paul the Psychic Octopus, two onions, two cloves of garlic crushed, two tomatoes chopped, tablespoon of tomato puree, cup of red wine, olive oil, oregano, basil and lemon juice.

Method: Season the tenderised pieces of Paul with the lemon juice. Slice the onions and fry in the olive oil until golden. Add Paul. Cook for two minutes and add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, basil and garlic. Cook for another two minutes and add the wine. Let this simmer for about five minutes and add the tomato puree. Add enough hot water to cover and simmer for ninety minutes. Serve with rice and bread.

Paul the Psychic Octopus Curry
Ingredients: Paul the Psychic Octopus, 500g of tinned chopped tomatoes, teaspoon of turmeric, teaspoon of cumin, teaspoon of ground coriander, teaspoon of garam masala, half a teaspoon of ground black pepper, two cloves, one onion chopped, two cloves of crushed garlic, 3cm piece of ginger crushed, two bay leaves, one chopped chili (more for a hotter curry), chopped coriander leaves and olive oil,

Method: Heat half the oil in a saucepan and fry the pieces of tenderised Paul for a couple of minutes and add the pepper and cloves. Add a little water and simmer gently for twenty minutes. In another pan, heat the rest of the oil and fry the onion, garlic, ginger and bay leaves until the onion starts to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for twenty minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, ground coriander, garam masala and chilli. Cook for ten more minutes and add the chopped coriander leaves. Add the Paul mixture and some hot water and stir well. Cook until the sauce thickens. Serve with rice or bread.

Alternatives to Paul the Psychic Octopus
For those who cannot get hold of Paul the Psychic Octopus, any other octopus can be substituted in these recipes. After all, it is the thought that counts."

And this link leads to a sports news video clip show how the German public scoffed at his predictions.

At the end of the day, all these were just said in good humour. As the spokeswoman of Sea Life, the aquarium which is Paul's home in Oberhausen: "Nothing bad will happen to Paul. No one wishes him ill-will. Paul has had a great run."


Abide with Me

We probably all have songs or hymns that touch us deeply or move us to tears. For me, it is Sister Miriam Therese Winter’s Spirit of God. For the priest who regularly conducts the mass I attend on Sunday, it is Henry Francis Lyte’s Abide with Me. He loves the song so much that he has translated it into Chinese to be sung by worshippers in masses. It is a job masterfully done.

Regarding Henry Francis Lyte, the biography written by Evelyne Miller makes interesting reading. Lyte was born in Scotland in 1793. Three people had particularly influenced his life.

It was his mother, Anna Maria, who had told him of the love of God, taught him his prayers at her knee and read him stories from the Bible. Sadly, this very close relationship was short-lived as his mother died when he was nine.

The death of his mother left him without any means of support as his father had abandoned his family. Lyte owed his education to Dr. Robert Burrows, the headmaster of his school, and his wife Mrs Burrows. They took him into their home and paid for his education.

When he became Curate to St Munn's Church, he met an Irish clergyman, the Reverend Abraham Swanne who was to have a great spiritual influence on his life. Lyte attended the Reverend Swanne when he was critically and had many deep spiritual discussions with the very devout pastor. The courage and confidence Swanne had in his divine beliefs and faith made a lasting impression on Lyte, who always looked back on those years as a great milestone in his spiritual and pastoral life.

Abide with Me was Lyte's last hymn, written during his last serious illness. He was in Avignon to avoid the cold, damp English winter, and as he knew that it was very unlikely that he would ever return home, he sent the finished manuscript to his wife Anna Maria. Shortly afterwards, he died in Nice on 20 November 1847. The hymn is a beautiful, touching tribute of a dying man to God:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou, Who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell'st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea —
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy Presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death's sting? Where, Grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy Cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
Heav'n's morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.


A book fair for book fans

Another strong proof of how much Hongkongers love reading is our annual book fair. This year a record 510 exhibitors are taking part and 900,000 visitors are expected, many of whom would queue up the night before to get in, and these book lovers would mob the authors of their favourite books for autographs.

Never mind that among the more popular “authors” are scantily clad langmo (literally “teen models”) who, in the words of one visitor, “have utterly nothing to do with books.”

Never mind that among the more popular “books” are risqué photo albums showing these langmo in skimpy outfits and suggestive or even lewd postures.

Never mind that among those “book lovers” are male oglers who are looking for free keepsakes or the chance to take pictures with their dream girls.

It suffices for us to remember that we have an annual “book” fair with an attendance figure that any countries in the world would be proud of.

Another piece of solid evidence that the reading culture in Hong Kong is “far better than in the United States”.


Our reading culture is "far better than in the US"

The reading culture in Hong Kong is "is far better than in the United States", if a poll conducted by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (yes, the ever so trustworthy DAB!) is anything to go by.

What got the researcher so thrilled was that about 70 percent of Hongkongers read at least one book in the past year. Never mind what they read and why they read.

Never mind that, according to this survey, among the respondents' favourite topics are stock investment, leisure and travel.

Never mind that, also according to this survey, half the respondents said reading relaxes them after a busy day at work.

If one cares to check out the best-seller lists, one would have an idea about how the reading taste of Hongkongers is like. Here are the top two best-sellers in the "non-literary" category:

And here are the top two in the "literary" (yes, seriously, LITERARY!) category:

Far better than the United States. Sure!



a typhoon day hike
more bluster, less heat, no sweat
wet leaves shake and squish


Same world, different fortunes

Depending on where you come from, helping children help themselves can mean very different things.

For Hong Kong, it may mean teaching a Primary Six child to tie his shoelaces.

This is a case quoted in by a clinical psychologist during a district event yesterday. The post-90s children in Hong Kong are described by several speakers in the event as being spoiled by their doting parents or maids and unable to adapt to life outside their homes. These 'mommy's children' are characterised by 'three lows' - low emotional intelligence, low resilience and low ability to fend for themselves.

So, incredible as it may sound, helping those spoiled Upper Primary children to help themselves is a matter of teaching them to tie their shoelaces, wear their own ties or take a shower themselves.

Elsewhere, helping children help themselves is a different story altogether. Take the 'Hole in the Wall' project which was derived from an experiment in India over ten years ago, for example. In 1999, some Indian slump children who 'barely went to school, ...didn't know any English, ...had never seen a computer before and ... didn't know what the Internet was' were given access to a computer in the wall. These children quickly taught themsleves how to use the computer and gather information with little supervision. The experiment has since been repeated at many places in India as well as Cambodia and several African countries. It has led to related ventures to study how to help such deprived children learn in unsupervised environments. It has also inspired the writing of the novel Q and A on which the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire was based.

It is hard to believe that we are talking about children in the same world.


Desex, anyone?

I am abhorred to find that for both colonies of stray cats I come across when I do my lunchtime hike, there have recently been new additions – newborn kittens! I reported that to a friend who is an active animal helper and she promised that she would help to find homes for the little kittens if I could capture them. That, for me, is mission impossible as I do not live nearby and I haven’t built up any relationship with those cats. But there is a woman who feeds them regularly, and if I could get her to help then the plan may work.

So a couple of days ago when I saw her again during a hike I asked if she could help capture the cats – the older ones for de-sexing and the babies for adoption. Unfortunately, she was not keen at all. She said curtly that she is a cleaning worker of a building nearby and had to get back to work after the feeding so did not have much time for a chat. She also said that it would be difficult for her to capture the kittens. That sounded like an excuse more than anything else. I can see with my own eyes how the cats nudge her and let her stroke them when she feeds them. Surely she is the one who can lure them into a cage if she has the mind to do it. But she has made her point. Period.

I have to say that I have great admiration for her act of kindness. Without a doubt, it costs her much time and money to regularly feed the cats that number no fewer than twenty according to my observation. But I can see that our views of how best to help them differ. She obviously thinks that as long as she keeps caring for them, they are fine. My view, on the other hand, is:

(1) Although the cats have certainly benefited from such kindness, the benefit only lasts for as long as the help keeps coming. Circumstances may change so that it can no longer be sustained. If this happens all of a sudden, it will be a huge blow for the cats who have developed a long-time reliance on the help.

(2) Stray cats are domesticated animals which have been abandoned to the street. They are not accumstoned to a street life in which they are exposed to all sorts of risks, challenges and abuses. Keeping the population under control and finding homes for them where possible are the best ways to reduce their misery.

I do realize that this view is not shared by some people. For one thing, de-sexing is considered by many as anti-nature. Just the other day, a relative who has one cat he swears he wouldn’t neuter said that it was inhumane for me to do so to my four, even though I told him that de-sexed cats are happier and healthier than cats whose sexual needs cannot be satisfied. During one of my “Trap-Neuter-Return” trips sometime ago, a local resident came forth and challenged us for our right to do it and branded us as “trouble makers”.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions. Ingrained ideas are difficult to change. Always the best policy is to remain humble and reflect on the matter from different perspectives rather than just being fixated on our own. In the present case, we could perhaps try to think about the situation from the vantage point of the cats that we so want to help.


The best of times or the worst of times?

At a family gathering yesterday, my sister-in-law's daughter, who is not even three years old, played with her parents' iPhone and displayed her deftness in manoeuvring it. Her father said she has some knowledge of using the "search" function.

To me, this is hardly surprising. On the MTR, I often see toddlers or even babies on strollers toying with electronic gadgets, such as game consoles or their parents' mobile phones. Many of them are not just fidgetting the devices but showing some attempts to control them. Such a phenomenon has important implications:

Computer technology and information technology are not only pervasive but also empowering. They have made the innovations and information so accessible, affordable and manageable.
Like it or not, kids of this and future generations are bound to spend a good part of their formative years typing at the keypads and staring at the screen. The advantage is that from very early on they will have the skills and the know-how for them to reap the benefits that a digitally-controlled and connected world may provide. But we have yet to fully understand the impact on the intellectual, social and physical development such a manner of growth may have on the children.

Last but not least, will the Digital Divide between the haves and the have-nots be widened or bridged? society be made more equal or will the Digital Divide widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots? Will it be that the accessibility of information and technology to all helps level the playing field? Or will it be that parents with iPhones for their children to experiment with, like my sister-in-law, have a distinct advantage in preparing their children for the Cyberworld?
It seems that what Charles Dickens famously wrote almost two hundred years ago still applies to the world today:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."


"There is need of only one thing"

In today's Gospel (Luke 10:38-42), we saw a woman called Martha getting upset, and possibly angry, about her sister Mary sitting beside Jesus listening to him speak while she herself was burdened with much serving work. She complained to Jesus and asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus's reply was:

"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."

When reading this, I had a strong feeling that Jesus was speaking to me. The name "Martha" could easily have been replaced with mine. I do get anxious and I do worry about many things. I also often feel righteous and virtuous, and easily harbour that feeling of indignation about others whom I see as not doing the good work I do. The statement above is a fitting reminder to me that my toilings and endeavours should be guided by Jesus's teaching. That should give me a clearer direction and give me better peace of mind. I will then not feel anxious and worried, nor be jealous of or angry with others without trying to understand them.

Taking the time to sit beside Jesus and listen to him speak is the "one thing" I need.


Shrek's shackle

I went to the IFC to see the morning show of Shrek Forever After. At HKD65, the ticket price was about half that of the regular shows. Not a bad deal for those who do not have to sleep until noon on a non-working day. But on the other hand, these days there is basically only the 3D version available for these animation films means that consumers are left with no choice and have to pay more. The situation is much like when the bus companies started to introduce air-conditioned buses to Hong Kong many years ago. The companies claimed that passengers still had a choice, meaning that those who did not want to pay the 40 percent extra fees (especially in winter time when air-conditioning was not necessary) could wait for a bus without aircon if they did not mind spending the time. But it soon became clear that non-aircon bus services were only available in those unprofitable lines, and even in those lines buses without aircon are so few and far between that you'd have to be out of your mind or out of this world to actually wait for one. Fairly soon, when the non-aircon buses have all 'retired', such 'choices', if you can call them that, will be gone 'forever after'. I can see the trend of 3D films developing along this line.

Back to the film itself, the moral of the fable is that one should appreciate what one has in the here and now. In Shrek's case, he got bored about his life despite having a beloved wife, lovely children and a bunch of good friends. It was when he failed to count his blessings and yearned for the life in the yester-years which he considered to be more fun and adventurous that he succumbed to temptations and messed up his life. To use Robin S. Sharma's symbol for the seventh virtue introduced in the book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Shrek failed to appreciate the Path of Diamonds he was walking, and became a prisoner of the past. Likewise, we can be trapped in the past, or in the future, and fail to "embrace the present", which is what the seventh virtue is about.


How happy are we?

Denmark is the world's happiest country, according to the latest survey by the Gallup World Poll.

The survey, conducted between 2005 and 2009, asked thousands of respondents in 155 countries to reflect on two types of well-being: "life evaluation" and "daily experiences". For the former, subjects ranked their overall satisfaction with their lives using a score from 1 to 10. For the latter, subjects were asked how they had felt the previous day, such as whether they felt well-rested, respected, free of pain and intellectually engaged. Subjects with high, medium and low scores were then classified as "thriving", "struggling" and "suffering" respectively. The percentage of "thriving" individuals in each country determined its ranking.

Besides top-ranked Denmark, Scandinavia has three other countries - Finland, Norway and Sweden - in the top five. The researchers concluded that money does buy happiness, as countries with high GDP win out, and there is an association between life satisfaction and income.
In making sense of the survey results, one crucial point has to be noted. Money does matter, but it is not just how rich a country is that determines how happy it is. Otherwise, the countries' happiness ranking should be the same as or similar to their GDP per capita ranking. But this is not the case. Take Luxembourg for example. The country has the world's highest GDP per capita according to IMF's 2009 figure, but it is only 28th in the happy country ranking. The discrepancy of Hong Kong is even more dramatic. Ranked 25th in GDP per capita, Hong Kong occupies a lowly position of 81 when it comes to happiness.

The determining factor is the proportion of people who are "thriving". Denmark is the world's happiest country, despite ranking only 5th in GDP per capita, by virtue of having 82 percent of its people "thriving" (and only 17 percent "struggling" and 1 percent "suffering"). Hong Kong, on the other hand, has only 19 percent of the people "thriving" (but 65 percent "struggling" and 16 percent "suffering"). So it is not just the net wealth of a country that determines its happiness but also the proportion of people thriving and having rewarding daily experiences. It is an issue of social equality.

Looked at in this light, Hong Kong may be fairly rich in terms of GDP per capita, but the wealth is not equally distributed, resulting in having only a small proportion of people "thriving" but a large proportion of peopls "struggling". So its people are only about as happy as those in countries such as Iran and Nigeria and less happy than those in Cuba, Kazakhstan, etc. Our money has not brought happiness for the majority of us.


Today, this day is all you have

Here is Robin S. Sharma's seventh and final virtue of enlightened living as introduced in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

The Symbol
The Path of Diamonds: a symbol of the path you are currently walking, one which is full of priceless treasures

The Virtue
Embrace the present

The Wisdom
  • Live in the "now"; savour the gift of the present
  • Never sacrifice happiness for achievement
  • Savour the journey and live each day as your last

The Techniques

  • Live your children's childhood
  • Practise the art of gratitude
  • Grow your destiny by savouring the "now" and following your dreams

Some Good Quotes

"The past is water under the bridge and the future is a distant sun on the horizon of your imagination. The most important moment is now."

"Being engaged in a pursuit that truly challenges you is the surest route to personal satisfaction."
"Happiness is a journey, not a destination. Live for today, there will never be another one quite like it."

"Happiness... is also a choice that you make. You can marvel at the diamonds along the way or you can keep running through all your days, chasing that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that ultimately reveals itself to be empty."

"Stop spending so much time chasing life's big pleasures while you neglect the little ones. Slow things down. Enjoy the beauty and sacredness of all that is around you."

"Never put off happiness for the sake of achievement. Never put off the things that are important for your well-being and satisfaction to a later time. Today is the day to live fully... Today is the day to enjoy the fruits of your efforts. Today is the day to live from your imagination and harvest your dreams."

"Live your children's childhood... Take the time to watch them grow and flourish."

"Life doesn't always give you what you ask for, but it always gives you what you need."

"When you savour 'the now', you kindle the fire of life that allows you to grow your destiny... We all have something that we are meant to do. Once you are connected to this mission, ...all your desires will be fulfilled effortlessly... Simply follow the path of your dreams, in full expectation of the bounty that is certain to flow. This will bring you to your divine destination. This is... growing your destiny."

"Revive your spirit and start tending to your soul. This is the way to Nirvana."

"Meditate on what your true calling is, and how you can give yourself to others."

"Everyone on this planet is a wonder of this world. Every one of us is a hero in some way or another. Every one of us has the potential for extraordinary achievement, hapiness and lasting fulfillment. All it takes are small steps in the direction of our dreams. Tiny, incremental changes and improvements... will create positive habits. Positive habits will create results. And results will inspire you towards greater personal change."

"Starting today, learn more, laugh more and do what you truly love to do. Do not be denied by your destiny."

Key Words
now, present, gratitude, Nirvana


Dirty Dutch

While Holland were at the receiving end of some rough and unfair treatment by their opponents last time they reached the World Cup Final, this time they were guilty of dirty play. The tactic of trying to unsettle Spain with over-physical play earned them nine cards (eight yellow and one red) but few friends.

One person who was disgusted by this style of play was Dutch legend Johan Cruyff. He slammed the national team for their approach and branded it as "ugly, vulgar, hard, hardly eye-catching, hardly football style".

"They were playing anti-football," said Cruyff.

In a sense, the loss of sympathy and support from the football world hurts more than the loss of the Final match.


Heartbreak for Holland (2)

The context in which Holland reached the 1978 World Cup Final was very different from when they lost to West Germany four years ago. For one thing, the squad was more noteworthy for the players who were absent than for those in the team. The absence of Wim van Hanegem, Holland's best passer of the ball, was keenly felt, but it was the decision of Johan Cruyff, widely considered as the world's greatest player of the 1970s, to retire from international football that had the biggest impact, so much so that team supervisor Ernst Happel had talked expansively about the team needing to rid itself of its "Cruyff complex". Happel himself represented another major change for the team. His emphasis on diligent defence was very different from the philosophy of flamboyant attacking football adopted by Rinus Michel, the man who led the team four years ago.

The team still had most of the players of 1974, however. And although they still argued about money, about team selection and about how many stripes there should be on the orange jerseys (look at the photo above and you will see what this means), they made it to the Final despite a slow start, and found themselves once again facing the hosts. The Argentinian side had reached the Final in the most controversial fashion. The arrangement of the deciding game against Peru in the second group phase to kick off after Brazil had played Poland meant that they had a blatantly unfair advantage over Brazil. The arrangement gave them the knowledge that they needed at least four goals to triumph over Brazil, and they somehow managed to beat the hitherto strong Peru team 6-0, a result that still leaves tongues wagging.

The Final started and went on in an equally controversial manner. Not only were there pre-match incidents of poor sportsmanship such as Argentina's delayed entry into the stadium and their well-orchestrated protests about the plaster in Rene van de Kerkhof's wrist, the game was brutal beyond expectation. Both sides were engaged in the physical confrontations, but the Argentinian side had the advantage of being cheered on by the hysterical crowd and having many of the referee's decisions going their way. Despite the difficult circumstances and going 1-0 behind at half time, the Dutch side fought on gallantly and equalised through a header by substitue Dick Nanninga in the 82nd minute. And they could have won it before the final whistle when Rob Rensenbrink turned the ball past the Argentinian goalkeeper. Yet, incredibly, as the ball was destined to roll into the unguarded net, it was somehow deflected, onto the post and away to safety.

It wasn't to be the Dutch's day. Argentina managed to come up with thirty minutes of vigorous football at extra time and scored two goals that yet again brutally shattered Holland's World Cup Dreams.


Heartbreak for Holland

When Holland and Spain made it to the 2010 World Cup Final at the expense of Uraguay and Germany respectively, I was happy for both teams. To me, it is good to have a new team to be crowned champions. They will be only the second team in forty years, after France, to break the stranglehold of Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina.

While I congratulate Spain for lifting the World Cup after beating the Netherlands in the Final today, I feel for the losers. It must be heartbreaking for countries to have failed after reaching the final for the third time. I do wish that they will take heart and their time will come.
I remember the two previous losses clearly, especially the first. It was in 1974 when the team branded "The Flying Dutchmen" took the world by storm with their Total Football. Instead of having specialised positions, individual players became strikers, midfielders and defenders as and when required. The newly-introduced off-side trap also caught their opponents by surprise. The star-studded side stormed to the Final against the host nation West Germany beaming with confidence. When the team with household names such as Arie Haan, Johan Neeskens, Wim van Hanegem, Wim Jansen, Theo de Jong, Rene van de Kerkhof, Willy van de Kerkhof, Ruud Krol, Rob Rensenbrink, Johnny Rep and, of course, the legendary Johan Cruyff.

The game couldn't have kicked off in more spectacular fashion, as West Germany's first touch of the ball was to pick it out from their own net. Holland had a penalty, won by Cruyff and converted by Neeskens, after barely a minute of play. At that point of time, few would give West Germany a chance, but as we all know so well, the rest is history. Gerd Muller's second half strike killed off the Dutch dream.

As the Dutch later admitted, many of their key players were less than a hundred percent fit in that match, a phenomenon analysts attributed to their complacency. Apparently, they were so sure of victory that wives and girlfriends were allowed to stay at the hotel rooms of the players before the Final. Apparently, the country had printed stamps celebrating the national side's victory before the match. Such over-confidence and lack of self-restraint were in stark contrast with the highly disciplined and determined German side, and they proved to be the crucial factors for the flamboyant Dutch team's downfall.


Some like it hot

It's not just China that has been suffering from a heatwave but also many regions all over the world. And it's not just a heatwave but an unprecedented one.

Since the end of May, many countries have registered record high temperatures. All-time high temperatures have also been recorded in six nations in Africa, Middle East and Asia. Chad, Niger, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Myanmar and Pakistan all set new records for their all time high temperatures, with the mercury hitting 47.6°C, 47.1°C, 52.0°C, 52.0°C, 47°C and 53.5°C respectively. India has also had the hottest summer in the country since records began in the late 1800s, the temperatures nearing 50°C have claimed hundreds of lives. Even earlier in the year, Melbourne recorded its hottest night in 100 years in January, with temperature reaching 37°C at midnight.

What more evidence is needed for the scary truth that the world is quickly becoming a cauldron? Amazingly, such figures do not seem to have raise enough alarm. In the midst of the current heatwave, there are claims that 'fortunately', we may not see the kind of death tolls experienced during the 2003 European heat wave because the residents of the countries affected by this heatwave are more adapted to extreme high temperatures.

So it's not bad enough that lives are lost because of the heat. Going back to this heatwave in China, people are scorched by manhole covers, vehicles get burnt up in flames or glued in the middle of the road by the tar melted by the scorching sun. All these don't seem to be bad enough to warrant attention.

And it's just the temperatures on land that are running amok. The oceans are warmer than ever too. There are bound to be an increase in storms and hurricanes. Just like in China now. At the same time that some regions are suffering from the heatwaves, other regions are having a huge deluge.

People probably do not want to face up to the facts, because if they do, they will inevitably see the relationship between their extravagant lifestyle and such natural phenomena. They probably do not want to be held responsible or to have to make changes such as economising or conserving. That is why no firm commitments have been made by nations in the recent Copenhagen earth summit.
But it is very likely that we are nearing the tipping point if we do not act fast. That will be a point of no return. And it will be too expensive a lesson for the human race to learn.


Live to give

Here is Robin S. Sharma's sixth virtue of enlightened living as introduced in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

The Symbol

The Fragrant Roses: a symbol of serving or giving to others, our ultimate purpose of life

The Virtue

Selflessly serve others

The Wisdom
  • The quality of your life ultimately comes down to the quality of your contribution
  • To cultivate the sanctity of each day, serve othersBy elevating the lives of others, your life reaches its highest dimensions
The Techniques
  • Perform some acts of kindness every day
  • Meditate every morning on the good you will do for others during the day
  • Cultivate richer relationships

Some Good Quotes

"Make it a priority to change your world view so that you stop seeing yourself purely as an individual and start seeing yourself as part of the collective."

"The most noble thing you can do is to give to others... It is all about losing your self-consciousness and starting to focus on a higher purpose."

"When we are born, we are crying while the world rejoices... We should live our lives in such a way that when we die, the world cries while we are rejoicing."

"Compassion and daily acts of kindness make life far richer."

Key Words
serving others, daily acts of kindness, compassion, ultimate purpose


"If youth only know, if age only could"

Here is Robin S. Sharma's fifth virtue of enlightened living as introduced in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

The Symbol
The Gold Stopwatch: a symbol of time, our most important commodity

The Virtue
Respect your time

The Wisdom
  • 'The Ancient Rule of Twenty': Eighty percent of the results you achieve in your life come from only twenty percent of the activities that occupy your time
  • Time mastery: Enlightened people are priority-driven
  • Deathbed mentality: Live every day as if it was your last

The Techniques

  • Plan your week and manage your time creatively. Focus your time around your priorities.
  • Simplify your life.
  • Wake up every day and ask yourself the simple question: 'What would I do today if it was my last?'

Some Good Quotes
"If youth only knew, if age only could."

"Time mastery is life mastery."

"Time mastery allows you more time to do the things you love to do, the things that are truly meaningful to you."

"Guard time well. Remember, it's a non-renewable resource."

"By anchoring all the most vital aspects of your life into your daily schedule, you ensure that your week and your life retain a sense of meaning and peace."

"Failing to plan is planning to fail."

"Stop living your life in compartments and understand once and for all that all you do forms one indivisible whole."

"Direct all your time to those activities that count."

"Life is like a fat strip of bacon. You have to separate the meat from the fat in order to be the master of your time."

"Don't let others steal your time. Be wary of time thieves... You must be ruthless with your time. Learn to say no."

"The most productive people in this world have cultivated the habit of doing the things that less productive people don't like doing, even though they too might not like doing them."

"Those people who are masters of their time live simple lives. Living a life rich with accomplishment and contribution did not have to come through the sacrifice of peace of mind."

"Simplify your life... One of the most tragic things that any one of us can do is to put off living. Too many people are dreaming of some magical rose garden on the horizon rather than enjoying the one growing in our back yard."

"Stop acting like you have five hundred years to live... Don't waste even one minute of your day. Develop a deathbed mentality.. When you adopt a deathbed mentality you live every day as if it was your last."

"The best time to plant a tree was forty years ago. The second best time is today."

"Push yourself to do more and to experience more. Harness your energy to start expanding your dreams... Don't accept a life of mediocrity when you hold such infinite potential within the fortress of your mind. Dare to tap into your greatness. This is your birthright!"

"Act as if failure is impossible, and your success will be assured."

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are a spiritual being having a human experience."

"The only thing you can take with you at the end of your life is your conscience. Listen to your conscience. Let it guide you. It knows what is right. It will tell you that your calling in life is ultimately selfless service to others in some form or another."

Key Words
time-consciousness, time mastery, simplify your life, deathbed mentality


Become the master of your will

Here is Robin S. Sharma's fourth virtue of enlightened living as introduced in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

The Symbol
The Pink Wire Cable: a symbol for self-control and discipline

The Virtue
Live with Discipline

The Wisdom
  • Self control is mind control. When you control your thoughts, you control your mind, when you control your mind, you control your life. When you control your life, you control your destiny
  • Moment is the secret ingredient to building self-discipline

The Techniques

  • Repeat at least thirty times a day: 'I am more than I appear to be, all the world's strength and power rests inside me.' Blend this mantra with the practice of creative visioning.
    Start doing the things you don't like doing.
  • Go an entire day without speaking, except in response to a direct question.

Some Good Quotes
"When the spider webs unite, they tie up a lion." (old African proverb)

"Willpower allows you to do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it."

"Through the steel of discipline, you will forge a character rich with courage and peace. Through the virtue of will, you are destined to rise to life's highest ideal and live within a heavenly mansion filled with all that is good, joyful and vital. Without them, you are lost like a mariner without a compass, one who eventually sinks with his ship."

"Building self-control and discipline into your life will bring you a tremendous sense of freedom."

"Most people have liberty... But too many people are also slaves to their impulses... They lack a key ingredient to a meaningful and enlightened life: the freedom to see the forest beyond the trees, the freedom to choose what is right over what seems pressing."

"Freedom is like a house: you build it brick by brick. The first brick you should lay is willpower."

"Developing the power of your will can erase the worry habit, keep you healthy and give you far more energy than you ever have had."

"Self-control is really nothing more than mind control. Will is the king of mental powers. When you master your mind you master your life. Mental mastery starts with being able to control every thought that you think. When you have developed the ability to discard all weak thoughts and focus only on those that are positive and good, positive and good actions will follow. Soon you will start attracting all that is positive and good into your life."

"When you control your thoughts, you control your mind. Whe you control your mind, you control you life. And once you reach the stage of being in total control of your life, you become the master of your destiny."

"When you come to know the tmeless laws of nature, those that govern the operation of this universe and all that lives within it, you will also know that it is your birthright to be all that you can be."

"Decide to do the things you know you should be doing rather than walking the path of least resistance. Start to fight the gravitational force of your bad habits and weaker impulses."

"Small victories lead to large victories. You must build on the small to achieve the great... You have set a goal and you have realised it. This feels good. The trick is to keep setting the mark higher and raising your standards continuously. This will then release that magical quality of momentum that will motivate you to keep exploring your infinite potential."

Key Words
discipline, self-control, mind control, freedom, willpower, momentum


Hea, anyone?

Among the popular Cantonese slangs used by youngsters these days is one called 'hea'. There isn't even a Chinese character for it. It literally means 'rummage', and is taken figuratively to mean 'idle' and 'kill time'.

A recent survey revealed that close to 40% of the adolescents in Hong Kong regard themselves as 'quite hea' or even 'very hea'. 7.3% confess to spending over six hours a day to 'hea'. To them, 'hea' means 'whiling away the time aimlessly', 'having nothing to do' and 'shooting the breeze with friends'. The social worker who conducted the survey said that many adolescents 'hea' because they have no goals.

In his book Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said that contrary to the popular assumption that being able to relax and having nothing to do is the royal road to happiness, people actually feel worst when what they do is motivated by not having anything else to do instead of driven by intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. In other words, doing something because one 'wants to do it' or even 'has to do it' is better than doing something without any kind of goal to focus attention.

Is there anything wrong with this 'hea' phenomenon? Lots, according to Csikszentmihalyi. He said:

"...the average person is ill equipped to be idle. Without goals and without others to interact with, most people begin to lose motivation and concentration. The mind begins to wander, and more often than not it will focus on unresolvable problems that cause anxiety. In order to avoid this undesirable condition, the person resorts to strategies that will ward off the worst of psychic entropy. Without necessarily being aware of it, one will seek out stimulation that will screen out the sources of anxiety from consciousness. This might be watching TV, or reading redundant narratives such as romances or mysteries, or engaging in obsessive gambling or promiscuous sexuality, or getting drunk or taking drugs. These are quick ways to reduce chaos in consciousness in the short run, but usually the only residue they leave behind is a feeling of listless dissatisfaction."

It is obvious that those youngsters who 'hea' will seek out (or have already done) many of the quick fixes Csikszentmihalyi mentioned, but besides providing a fleeting surge of pleasure, the stimulation does not bring lasting satisfaction.

That brings us back to what the social worker pointed out, that people need goals to guide them. A life without goals is not just boring. It is also dangerous.


Bursting stomachs

Right after I came back from the short trip to Kota Kinabalu, I fell sick. It's not just the usual symptom of feeling sick of Hong Kong after a good trip. I am physically sick. I suffer from lethargy, indigestion and loss of appetite. I believe there are two possible causes. It is either heat stroke or over-eating.

Hong Kong is currently under the Very Hot Weather warning and I find the heat much harder to bear than the tropical city which is nearer the equator. Not only is Hong Kong more humid, the mushrooming of tall buildings everywhere means that heat gets trapped and cannot dissipate easily.

The second possibility is even more likely. For the last few days, I have been guilty of binging in the morning. The breakfast of the resort hotel was so enticing that I just wolved down the food without regarding my capacity.

The other day, I came across a news article about how a python in Florida's swamps lost its life when it tried to gobble up an alligator. The 13-foot Burmese python tried to swallow the 6-foot alligator whole but then exploded. It's a classic fable of how one has to pay a heavy price because of one's greed.

I should take the lesson from the moral of the story. For a few mornings, I went on such a bust that my poor stomach nearly burst. This experience also reminds me of how Eve succumbed to the temptation of the serpent and sin against God. Genesis 3:6 reads: "...the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes" (Genesis 3:6).


A tale of two drivers

Besides reading the local papers, I also like talking to the drivers during my overseas trips.

In the most recent one to Malaysia, the driver I had a good chat with was the one driving the limousine of the resort hotel. With the possible exception of one I met in Fiji, he is the driver I have come across that speaks the best English. Maybe this is a must for someone working for a luxurious hotel group. Or maybe, like what I noticed during my last trip to the country in January, most Malaysians speak pretty good English. The driver is also very laid back and well-mannered and I found him very likeable.

As our conversation moved from the World Cup and the psychic octopus to something more personal, the drive began to talk about how he and his wife support a family with four children. It was obvious that they find it quite manageable as both of them have jobs which are stable and not too busy. He drives guests to and from the resort hotel six days a week. His wife works as a clerk for the government, and as they live very close to his wife's workplace, she manages to go home to take care of many things during the two-hour lunch time between 12 noon and 2pm (what a luxury!). Her working hours are from nine to five and the driver says that in Malaysia people seldom have to work overtime so they have a lot of time for their children.
Ironically, the difference between the life of this Malaysia driver and the Hong Kong taxi driver who drove me home from the airport. The first thing I noticed after getting on the taxi was that there were altogether seven mobile phones on or near the dashboard - six of which were in operation. During the journey of 45 minutes or so, apart from driving, he was constantly on the phone (hand-free of course), most of the time speaking to a fellow taxi driver friend but also answer other calls to receive and direct orders. This sort of multi-tasking (euphemism for not concentrating on the task one is paid to do) is very typical of the workforce here. All too often I see colleagues, especially the junior ones, navigating between different windows on their computer screens, happily chatting away with their friends or even checking stock prices while working at the same time.
Anyway, it was not possible not to overhear what this taxi driver said with his friend. It was mainly about how he could not make ends meet, what with the rental for the taxi and fuel charges being very heavy, expenses for rearing his only child and his few big dogs very high and all that. He said he wouldn't have been able to sustain the family without working two shifts.

There is no doubt that Hong Kong offers more modern facilities and convenience compared with Malaysia, but seeing and listening to these two drivers, it is not difficult to tell who is having better quality of life.

The seven mobile phones - are they a blessing or a curse?


Saving our close relatives

The resort I stayed at has a nature reserve and one of the activities for the guests is to go to see the six orang utans during their feeding time.

These orang utans were rescued when they were babies after their mothers were killed or their forest was destroyed. The reserve is part of a rehabilitation programme under which captive orang utans are taught the skills they need to survive in a natural environment. The reserve is a kind of half-way home where these primates may roam free but under the care and protection of rangers. When the time is right, these orang utans will be released to the jungle to live an independent life.

Before we went to the observation platform, we were shown a short film which was meant to give us some background information. There were two episodes that I found to be particularly powerful. One was about some young orang utans which have been taken care of by humans all their lives being taken to the reserve to learn how to survive on their own. When their cages were opened for the first time in their lives, the orang utans were so afraid to be free that they huddled in the cage or clung desperately to each other. I have heard it said that captive birds are so used to being caged and fed that they won't fly away immediately when the door is open. In a figurative sense, this is also true of human life. We have got so accustomed to the various controls and confines that we even derive a false sense of security from them. The drive and courage to take risks and to enjoy freedom are lost. If we ask ourselves what is stopping us from pursuing our dreams, most probably the honest answer is "nothing". But still we somehow prefer to stay in the comfort zone.

The second episode was that some of the people being interviewed observed that the conservationists do not have much chance of success because the loss of the forests is much faster than the saving of the orang utans. The rich natural resources are snatched by greedy humans. Forests are cleared, habitats are destroyed, and orang utans are made homeless, captured and sold as illegal pets or even killed. Well-meaning conservationists are fighting a losing battle to save them.

Orang utans, like other primates, are our close relatives, sharing 96% of the human genes. They also have a very close familial bond, with the mothers taking good care of the children and teaching them all the survival skills. So it is a miserable life for baby orang utans who are orphaned after their mothers were killed or captured. In taking care of these young orang utans and preparing them for a life back to nature, this conservation project is pursuing a good cause, but if humans do not change their greedy ways and the destruction of the natural habitat is not arrested, endeavours like that may not have much chance of success.


Fix a date with destiny

There is a good article in the Borneo Post, entitled Your Date with Destiny, that is worth sharing here.

In defining destiny as "the dream that lies within you, of your desired and preferred future", the point of departure of the article is a bit different from our normal understanding of destiny, which is that it is preordained and how it pans out in our life is quite beyond our control. The writer says that the things that we choose every day lead us to the destiny. Some actions are suggested as to how we can reach our destiny.

Answer the question: Do you really believe you can achieve a life of abundance?
Whatever your dream of success is, you need to continually tell yourself: "I can do it." Absolutely nothing in your current circumstances matter.

Develop a clear vision
Asking these questions about your destiny will help you develop a clear vision:
Can you describe it in intricate detail?
Can you "see" it?
Can you "feel" it?
Can you "hear" it?

Consider the resources needed
Resources can be in terms of money, time, natural talents, emotional health, help from others, etc. The questions to be asked are:
What are the resources needed for the achievement of your destiny?
What are your current level of resources?
How will you go about obtaining the resources you need?
How can you best utilise them?

Set a date and make a plan
Fix a real date by which you believe you can reach your destiny. Then make a plan to get there, with goals to strive for and evaluation points to reflect upon.

So start to change your mindset from accepting that destiny is something life thrusts upon you to believing that it is something you can master. Then take action to go about shaping it.


No sex education, please!

Here are some interesting articles related to education I have gathered from the papers:

"Discipline warning to teachers"
The State Education Department of Sabah has issued letters to 117 teachers (and will issue some more to another 150 teachers) demanding an explanation to their misconduct such as absence from school and failing to report to work on time. The state education director said he would conduct surprise checks to ensure that teachers carry out their duties responsibly.
What I find interesting is that the state education authority is taking action on matters which are supposed to be the business of the local schools. It begs the questions of whether the school authorities have failed to manage the teachers properly and whether it is the tradition of the system in Sabah for the State Education Department to stamp their authority like that.

"Probe report on Tamil school teaching sex education"
The Public Complaints Bureau and the State Education Department will carry out a probe following a newspaper report that a Tamil primary school taught sex education recently. According to the report, parents were upset upon learning that their children were taught sex education. The Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department said that if the report was true, he would write to Education Minister urging him to take action against those involved.

"Sex education like teaching thieves how to steal properly"
A spiritual leader disagreed with the move to teach sex education in schools, saying that it will do more harm than good to the younger generation and that it would be like teaching thieves how to steal properly. He said that the move would encourage children to learn about sex among themselves, resulting in negative incidences like throwing away of unwanted babies.
"There is already sex education in Islam like parents should have a separate sleeping place for their children when they reach the age of seven and that women should be properly covered," he said.

These articles said much about the Malaysian society and culture.