When  I was in my 2nd  year, I wrote a formal letter to the International Office of University of Newcastle, airing my dissatisfaction at the medical faculty. We were government sponsored international students; the university received our money. It was within our rights to complain.

The reason was because of the way they failed my friend. Twice. My friend was not allowed to check her papers to learn from her mistakes.

Well, I was scared at that time, of course. But it was my nazar, I had no choice but to complete it. My nazar was, “If I passed all my papers, I will help her fight.” Of course if I didn’t pass my papers, I would lose the credibility to fight the system, because then they would say I was complaining simply because I myself fail.

I tried to complete my nazar in the best way I knew how.

I appealed to the International Office.

I wrote my letter in points:

1)      Your examination system is oppressive. We have only one exam per semester. We don’t have quizzes or small tests leading to the big semester exam. So we could not gauge our level of understanding before the real exam and we don’t have the opportunity to know what we don’t know or what we know.

2)      And when we fail the one exam that you deign to organize for us, you did not allow us to check our papers. How are we going to learn from our mistakes?

3)      Furthermore, not only there’s only one exam per semester, not only you don’t allow us to check our papers or even discuss the answers with us…you also do not give us any repeat papers. Basically if we fail that one exam (one exam in the whole semester), we will have to repeat the whole semester because you refuse to allow for repeat papers.

4)      Other universities have repeat papers or at least supplementary papers. In fact, other faculties in this uni itself, at least allow for supplementary papers. The medical faculty doesn’t allow for supplementary papers at all.

5)      In short, you only organize only one exam for us. You do not give us the opportunities to prepare ourselves for the one exam by organizing quizzes of tests. And then, you do not allow us to check our papers to learn from our mistakes. And you do not give us supplementay papers or repeat papers when we fail.  In what way is this system not oppressive?

The mat sallehs over there did not respond to my complaints by saying “You are a negative-thinking medical student.” They have enough pride to respond intellectually by going over points by points that I had taken pains to number up. They didn’t sweep the issues under the carpet and simply said she is a negative thinker. Because that is a DEFINITE sign of someone who is too lazy to come up with a better argument.

“Why don’t we just paint the picture of her as someone who has negative thinking. There is no need to answer her point by point. Just throw one accusation at her, then, maybe what she said would not sound so true.”

Nope. They did not do that.

They answered one by one of my points, numbering them in the same way I numbered my points. And then they said, how can we help?

My friend still failed. She still ended up going back to Malaysia. I still didn’t get what I want right away.

But two years later, they have revamped the system.  Now, pre-clinical years consists of a few quizzes and tasks that would make up for a percentage of the final score. Of course, by that time I was already a 4th year medical student and no longer benefit by the change. But it doesn’t matter. The point I am trying to make is, they don’t simply look at the complaints in a defensive manner by saying that the person who makes the complaints are negative, without bothering to address the issues raised.

They also did not try to make my remaining 3 years in the uni as difficult as possible as a payback for my so-called churlish ways. They did not, for example, go to my PBL (problem based learning) tutor and get her to embarrass me in the tutorial. They recognized, that would be the cheapest trick on earth.

What is it that I have done to deserve being called negative-thinking? Because I talked about how we could improve our medical culture of being rude and discourteous to our subordinates? Because I talked about how nurses are more focused on doing the reports online in the e-HIS, sometimes even when patients are collapsing? Because I talked about how doing daily reviews online in E-His will not be beneficial a few years down the track as the only important thing to be done online is the investigation result and the discharge summary? Because I talked about how we could improve the shift system, making it a balance between the old on-call system and the current flexi hours system?

Those who label me negative thinking did not bother to answer any of the above issues. They did not say, I agree with this or disagree with that because so and so. They did not do that because it is much easier to simply ignore the points and make an argument consisting of I am negative.

How… positively… ehem, intelligent!

This is the case of different mentality. Of course.

And so we then wonder “Kenapa orang-orang yang kerja oversea ni tak nak balik?” So we then come up with a program of bringing back our professionals to Malaysia. We called the program “Returning Expert Programme” executed by the Prime Minister’s Department. It is a programme introduced in 2001 which provides interesting incentives for Malaysia talent living overseas who wish to return to Malaysia.

We practically bribed them to leave the status they have in overseas so that they can come back and work in Malaysia.

How about using that money (otherwise called interesting incentives) to study the working culture in overseas and reform our system so that they will come back for the right reason? Truly! We won’t have to bribe people to return to us and the solution would be permanent, too.

I chose to work in Malaysia after performing my istikharah prayer. Otherwise would I have returned? I don’t know. The only great thing about Malaysia is the location of my parents and family as well as the oh, so delicious Malaysian food. In terms of religion, Islam in the West is thriving too, so I do not miss the Islamic environment here!

I have just clearly related the story of how the non-Muslims in the Western country have better Islamic values in how they deal with issues. They are professional! Even though I was only a medical student and have no status whatsoever….and a foreigner to boot! So, Why would they care about me or my complaints?

You see, they didn’t care about me. I never deluded myself into thinking that they did. What they cared about is how to improve their system, which is something that we don’t. So here lies the difference in attitude.

When I was in my psychiatry rotation, all students were given a survey of how satisfied the students were about the teaching that were provided. Next year, they improved again and again. By rights, why would they care about us, mere students?

But again, they cared about improving!

But the system in Malaysia punishes those who speak up. It was funny when we go around wondering about how our government is dictatorial and would not give us the rights to march on the street and speak up. Look into the mirror and you will see why! You see, we are just like the government we criticize.

Just sweep the issues under the carpet and give people labels.

Much easier, isn’t it?


Since I have been labeled negative by a more positive thinking person, I have no choice but to defend my honor.

How does a negative thinking HO behave? I am sure she would be so stressed out that she would take EL multiple times (even though in this system, who can blame her?)  I am sure she would also leave a lot of unfinished tasks to be carried out by others. She might cry in public once or twice. She might also have had instances of going to the specialist in charge of HO and said she would like to resign. Some might even go to Pengarah and said, “saya nak tukar posting lain dulu.”

If anyone can come up with just ONE instance in which I have deliberately done any of the above, then and only then I will agree that I am a negative thinking person and not tough enough to be trained under the system. Otherwise, please consult the conscience of your heart before calling me negative again. Even if you had called me stupid, I would have agreed. If  I am not stupid I would already be a specialist and there’s no need for me to be under training.

But to call me a negative thinking person when I have never behaved like one, now that is something I am not willing to accept unchallenged.

For 10 months of working, I have never had any EL. NONE! Zip, zero, nada!

I finally had one EL on the 6th of October because Tabung Haji SUDDENLY said my parents flight to Mekah will be on the 6th.  It was very sudden and I had no choice but to take 1 day of  EL to send them to the airport. It was important to me because anything could happen to my parents in Mekah. Some did not make it back safely. And for THAT reason, I requested for EL. Even then, I had called the captain one day earlier to inform her about that. She then said, there is no one who could replace me. She suggested for me to call my ward colleagues to ask their permission and warn them to come earlier the next day to cover my cubicles.

2 days later, I treated them to Pizza Hut, my way of saying thanks for allowing me the EL that I needed in order to do what was very important to me, at that time.  I am fully aware of how troublesome EL is and I absolutely hate it when people do that and I end up covering their jobs. And for that reason I was very thankful to them for having allowed me the leave that I required.

When I was night call covering ward 5c and 4D, I had gastroenteritis. Multiple times of diarrhea as well as bouts of vomiting food particles. Rather than take EL ( because I have always hated it when someone go EL citing the reason as ‘diarrhea’. Awat hangpa ni kalau EL ja, mesti sebab diarrhea?) , I asked the staff nurse in 5 c to insert Brannula and give me 10 mg IV maxolon when tab maxolon did not work.

I did not take EL lightly. I took my responsibility very heavily. And for that reason, I have to defend my honor when anyone dares to call me negative thinking.

I have never gone to any of my superiors in order to resign even when I was in my first posting. I have seen people who resign when they were only a few days in the medical department; the most benign department consisting of the most kind-hearted and soft-spoken specialist and  MOs I have ever come across! I have seen people who resigned when they were doing surgical, which is a quite enjoyable department apart from the early hours. Of course I got scolded in surgical too, but it was devoid of feeling like it was personal.

So, in what way do I behave like a negative person again?


This post is written so that when someone come up with that kind of comments which do not have any basis in reasons, I can just reply by copy-pasting the link to this post. Save my energy and my time from having to reply to such unhelpful and ANONYMOUS comments. Don’t you believe in what you say ENOUGH to own up to it?

With that, Assalamualaikum and until the next posting, insya Allah. Take care.


“Never do I argue with a man with a desire to hear him say what is wrong, or to expose him and win victory over him. Whenever I face an opponent in debate I silently pray – “O Allah, help him so that truth may flow from his heart and on his tongue, and so that if truth is on my side, he may follow me; and if truth be on his side,I may follow him.” Imam Al-Shafi’i.

12 thoughts on “Negative

  1. Dear Dr Afiza,

    Please forget the anonymous and the nameless……..I cant agree more with you….why cant we accept constructive criticisms? ……feedback is a fundemental and integral part of communication/any initiative……there is nothing negative about you or your writing…its just that some people just cant accept the truth because it hurts the ego……let it be…….have a great day.


    1. Thanks for being able to see what I am on about.
      It gives me hope that there are others out there who are like you, able to see and digest what I have written frankly and clearly.
      You too, have a great day.


      1. I am able to see and digest ..yang tersurat mahu pun yang tersirat in your writings……its easy when we are able to empathise… have been not only frank, explicit and sincere but also downright and forthright…..there are a lot of intelligent and concerned souls out there who think and will do the same as you….but sometimes they keep quiet for various reasons….one of which could be command of languages…I am just assuming……like I said the truth hurts……but the Almighty decreed on us to speak the truth, nothing but the gospel truth…….do not worry about what some close and narrow minded people think….it does not matter…in any case, they are the minority who make the most noise macam tin kosong lah……I invited you to be my friend on FB tapi hang tak sempat jawab lagi kot……..on my FB page I have shared many, many letters (some really stinking ones) on housemen and their dilemma which has been published in the mainstream media over the last three to four weeks……ini semua akibat DG KKM mengatakan housemen hanya kerja 60 purata jam seminggu dan mereka mendapat dua hari cuti rehat seminggu (walaupun tak semestinya hujung minggu)…tapi the reality on the ground is tak sama serupa cakap………all those letters (more than 10 of them) are proof that you are not alone…and will not walk alone……


    1. I will certainly visit your FB page and read those postings, insya Allah.
      The opportunity to know many people who feel the same way yet unable to voice out how they feel is too tempting to pass. There’s nothing more intellectually stimulating than having like-minded people with similar wavelength who also share your thoughts.

      I wholeheartedly agree that the Almighty enjoins us not only to speak the truth, but also to be responsible about what we said. Therefore, I am not very impressed with a few of those anonymous comments telling me I am negative, though I approve all of their comments anyway, as a matter of principle. Anonymity when talking about an issue (as opposed to anonymity while engaging in trivial gossips) shows our lack of conviction in our own opinion. And it CLEARLY shows that we do not have the willingness to be responsible of what we said….as though what we write in someone’s blog will not be judged and questioned in the hereafter too.

      Furthermore, anonymity is weak. How many ANONYMOUS letters have KKM received complaining against the system? Numerous! Yet, the anonymity weakened the validity of the complaints.

      Our wise prophet (PBUH) had once said Qulil Haq Walaukana Murron (Speak the truth even when it’s bitter). If many people had done that a long time ago, we would have moved on much faster than this.


  2. Agreed and I shall respond to you later.

    KKM has to take heed of all those comments even though it came in the form of anonymous letters. The point is some of them are slow and lackadaisical. They are not even reactive, let one proactive.

    Salam hormat.


  3. Dear Dr Afiza,

    I respect your right to your opinion.

    However, for me, as a human resource practitioner, the identity of any critic/complainant is not important. What matters is the content of the critique/complaint. Of course, criticisms must be constructive and aimed at improving e.g. a system. My colleagues and I always treat all complaints/
    criticisms as a “gift.”

    AS HR people, we cannot afford to trivialise any comments, suggestions, complaints and criticism merely because the writer is anonymous. We look into them seriously, and deep down in our hearts, we thank them for the gift, and we are grateful. And subsequently, we make amends and take the necessary corrective steps (preventive measures are better and proactive). Feedback is an integral and fundamental ingredient of any initiative.

    Well, thats my opinion and thats how I feel.

    Salam hormat.



  4. Dear Dr Afiza,

    I like the way you put it : “most people.” because there must be some very proactive people at KKM but their views (minority) are silenced by the “most” (majority).

    It is indeed sad.

    Kind regards.

    Salam hormat.



  5. Esah

    Hi, haven’t been reading ur blog since my previous comment, ye lah bz sket. Nway good and brave move there back in ur uni. One thing if i may share with you, you can ‘hear’ negative comments, they come in both delicious and crappy manners however digest the gist of it to improve ourselves, of course all of us are not perfect thats why we need those comments even they are bitter. But please please don’t absorb the rudeness and sarcasm of a commenter, just do some ‘selective hearing’ and let it go after that. People whom you dont know by right should NOT be judging you, therefore they DONT deserve attentions. Only ake comments from people you know esp he ones dear to your heart. I learnt this after I became a doctor, as theres too much of sarcasm need to be entertained initially from my superiors. I dont want my juniors to experience such unnecessary things like me ( unless indicated), so again, hang in there and never regret treating ur patients, the silver lining will always be there!


  6. Agree Dr Esah…….biar orang mengata kita, jangan kita mengata orang……bila orang mengata dan berdosa kepada kita, kita perolehi pahala….dan begitu juga sebaliknya…yang penting, bagi saya, kita harus terima semua kritikan/maklumbalas itu sebagai satu anugerah kerana tanpanya kita tidak akan maju kedepan…..when you guys become MOs, I know that you guys will treat your HOs well….with empathy and care….Salam


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