The Plot From The Master Storyteller

You guys know that I love reading. The plot is important. But so do characters and characterization. Even with a good plot, having boring characters would fail to launch the plot into a beautiful story.

Allah is the Master Storyteller of this universe. For each of us, we have been given our own characterizations. There is a grand plot for the world (the beginning started when Adam and Eve came down to earth, and the first exciting conflict in the grand plot began when Abel and Cain fought one another, and then life went on for many millennia with battles and wars and great flood, and the rise and fall of great kingdoms, the rise and falls of civilizations, the failure and success of various propagandas and ideologies, ….all these might continue for thousand of years to come…until finally, the earth is destroyed on the day of apocalypse).

But God has also created for each of us our own plots that serve as micro-plots that would fill up the general progress of the grand plot. Micro-plots and micro-characters like us are needed to launch the grand plot. And sometimes these plots of ours will intersect, interconnect or interact in some beautiful (or nasty) ways. Our characters will have to learn to live with one another, or love one another or hate one another. Or simply indifferent to one another.

Or maybe…God has designed for us to never come across one another ever in this life.

But the main point is : We all have our own plot. We all have our own purpose in this life. We all sometimes may be at cross-purposes with one another, creating tension and conflicts at various points in our lives. But at the end of our plot, we will understand why things happened the way they had.

***

Gretchen Rubin
Disclaimer: I have not read this book fully. But when I read on the four tendencies concept briefly, I kind of get what the author was trying to convey

According to Gretchen Rubin in her book “The Four Tendencies”, when it comes to societal interaction and expectation, there are FOUR indispensable types of personality profiles that can be found and they are all important in the society. These four are called Upholder, Obliger, Questioner and Rebel. Each of them can be good, valuable, and necessary in the society. But each of them can also be bad and troublesome… but VERY MUCH indispensable.

We need ALL FOUR TYPES to make up a balanced society. Whether each of the character types are good or bad or neutral depends on the context and the plot that is involved or laid out to you.

In my opinion, I fall into the category of questioner (ehem, with some rebellious tendency).

In short, the concept of the four tendencies is simply described as below:

1)Upholder will meet outer expectations and meet inner expectations

2) Obliger will meet outer expectations and resist inner expectations.

3) Questioner will resist outer expectation and meet inner expectation.

4) Rebel will resist outer expectation and resist inner expectation

upholder obliger

***

Upholder

Kita mungkin terfikir bahawa menjadi ‘upholder of values’ adalah sesuatu yang baik. Walaubagaimanapun, ini bergantung kepada konteks dan keadaan. Sekiranya beliau berada di kalangan pembuli yang majoritinya mempunyai norma moral membuli, maka beliau akan berkeras mempertahankan tradisi membuli itu. Contohnya, beliau mungkin akan mengatakan “Ah, setiap tahun kita sambut juniors dengan ragging. Biasalah. Dulu kita kena lagi teruk kot. Tradisi ni menyebabkan kita lagi tough duduk asrama. Inilah caranya kita baik dengan senior dan kenal dengan senior. Aku dulu enjoy ja orientasi. Senior ragging sikit-sikit tu biasalah.” Hmm….ini memang perangai KLASIK Upholder. Mereka tidak nampak apa yang salah dengan tradisi yang sedia ada. Mereka comfortable dengan keadaan semasa. Jadi mereka ada kecenderungan untuk meneruskan tradisi, walaupun tradisi yang buruk. (Ini satu lagi contoh perangai Upholder dalam masyarakat Melayu : “Baca Yassin malam Jumaat ni dah lama kami buat. Kenapa tiba-tiba nak tukar kepada Al-Kahfi? Kami pun dah lama amalkan tahlil kematian. Pandai-pandai jer kau nak kata Bid’ah. Kau ni Wahhabi ek?” Itulah contoh perangai Upholder. Sticking to tradition and resistant to change.)

Tapi sekiranya beliau berada di kalangan orang-orang yang mempunyai nilai-nilai yang baik, maka menjadi upholder of values adalah sesuatu yang sangat bermanfaat untuk dirinya sendiri dan kepada masyarakat. Contohnya ketika di mana ada golongan yang cuba memperjuangkan hak perkahwinan sejenis di Malaysia, beliau (sekiranya seorang Muslim yang hidup di dalam masyarakat yang mungkin kebanyakannya beragama Islam) akan bangun menentang dengan lantang “Buatlah apa yang kamu nak buat di belakang pintu. But to formally recognize and legalize this, NEVER. Jangan kucar-kacirkan adat dan budaya di dalam masyarakat kita.” Di sini, beliau akan dianggap sangat berjasa oleh ahli-ahli masyarakat beliau yang beragama Islam di atas ketegasan beliau mempertahankan nilai-nilai agama.

Kita SANGAT memerlukan Upholder dalam masyarakat kita terutamanya apabila keadaan tengah stabil dan tiada apa-apa isu yang sedang bergolak atau perlu diperbetulkan. Sekiranya masyarakat kita hanya dipenuhi oleh Questioner dan Rebel, masyarakat tidak akan stabil, nilai atau polisi bertukar-tukar setiap tahun sesuka hati dan kelangsungan hidup jadi celaru.

Obliger

Mungkin kita terfikir bahawa obliger adalah seorang yang senang dibuli. Dia akan ikut saja apa orang mahu daripada dia dan tak pandai menjadi tegas mempertahankan hak sendiri. Tetapi, jika kebetulan dia berada di kalangan orang-orang yang baik atau pandai, dia yang nakal atau malas belajar mungkin akan cuba perbaiki akhlak diri dan rajinkan diri sampai pandai. Sebab masyarakat di sekelilingnya expect dia pun baik dan pandai. Jadi dia cuba untuk oblige that good expectation of the society. Namun begitu, jika dia berada di kalangan pembuli-pembuli yang expect dia untuk ikut cakap mereka and cater to their needs, habislah Obliger itu! Asyik jadi bahan buli jawabnya. So take care of yourself, please. Because I like you best (compared to the Upholder or the Rebel!)

Kita sangat memerlukan Obliger dalam masyarakat kita. These people will play nice with all characters. They would try to ease social discomfort by catering to people’s expectation and smooth the way out of conflict. Mereka ini pelincir dalam masyarakat.

Rebel

Kita mungkin berfikir bahawa menjadi rebellious adalah perkara yang negatif. Tetapi jika seseorang mempunyai watak rebellious di kalangan surrounding yang suka membuli, mungkin dia akan terlepas dari dibuli kerana dia berani membuat tunjuk perasaan dan membangkang. So, good job, oh my dear Rebel! But if you are in a good surrounding with good rules and yet you STILL rebel, then it can only lead to disaster for your own selves. So think before you give in to your tendency to rebel.

Masyarakat SANGAT PERLU kepada Rebel ini ketika mana sesuatu keadaan yang tidak adil sedang berlaku, dan semua Upholders and Obligers tak rasa nak ubah apa-apa. Mereka sangat diperlukan sebagai pencetus perubahan yang akan menyedarkan golongan-golongan lain di dalam masyarakat untuk berubah ke arah sesuatu. Ya, Rebel adalah pencetus, penyemarak dan pembangkang.

Questioner

As for questioner (I think that’s me. Haha), kami ada kami punya nilai sendiri. I have a set of values that I pick up from my upbringing… and ESPECIALLY from my reading. As a Muslim, semua benda yang jelas dalam agama, I will agree to it. Tetapi semua ruang kebebasan yang telah diberi dalam agama (perkara-perkara harus), aku akan ikut kepala aku sendiri.

Jadi adakalanya, aku tak dapat ikut apa yang masyarakat nak daripada aku sebab ia bercanggah dengan apa yang aku nak atau apa yang aku rasa betul. To get me to do something, you simply must make sure your expectations fit my inner expectations of myself and my worldview of how the world should be.

Orang macam aku tidak gemar berpersatuan sangat. We are okay fighting alone. Of course it’s good to have a group of friends who will cheer you on and fight along with you… but it is not strictly necessary to us. We are not great in society though we can try to work and compromise with them in certain things… but we minimize the need for society because there are things (like principles and our own ideas and expectations) that cannot be compromised. Kalau aku yakin yang kamu boleh terima karakter aku yang penuh dengan soalan, then I will be happy to join your society. (For example, I did join usrah in Australia. Because the seniors welcomed my questions and did not force me to comply to things I wasn’t ready to). Kalau aku puas hati dengan jawapan-jawapan kamu, aku akan ikut. You might confuse me with a rebellious person. But no… I don’t rebel against what I think is good. Only in what I think is bad. I follow rules when I can see the rational for it (and a lot of rules are rational and make sense, I must admit). Sometimes the rules are neither good nor bad… it is just the way it is (I will try to follow these type of rules when it is convenient. But if it wasn’t convenient… well, oops!)

BUT! when following rules would result in a greater evil, I will resist your expectation of me. I will break the rules. And I will fight it, bear the consequence and pray Allah will ease the way for me.

Because you see, Allah is the Master Storyteller. I put all my trust in Him. He gave me this particular character for this particular plot that He had set out for me. My responsibility is to make sure that I use my character that He bestowed on me in the way that He would approve. At the end of the day, He will be the one who will take care of me and it is to Him that I place all my reliance.

Screenshot 2018-09-28 22.01.49

Screenshot 2018-09-28 22.02.06
My Facebook status after the recent issue involving an ex-HO Miya Wong, started becoming viral in the social media. In this case, she is playing the role of the Rebel. I like her.

* * *

Believe me, your character suits your purpose in life. Suits your life plot. Allah designed it for you because He knew you are going to need it in the plot that He had specifically created for you.

However, the good thing is, characters are not carved in stones. Some aspects of your character are fluid and malleable. Allah asks us to get to know one another and learn good things from each other in order to grow into a more accomplished and well-rounded version of ourselves. I learned that some rules that are neither good nor bad (but just inconvenient) should not be questioned…buat penat jer dan no point for you to spend all that time arguing and questioning a neutral rule. (Waktu aku muda dan belum matang, semua benda pun aku rasa nak question haha) Kalau sempat comply, kita comply. Kalau tak sempat comply, mungkin tak boleh comply…. Tapi tak perlu buang tenaga dan meletihkan minda untuk question the rule. So, I adopt sikit perangai Obliger kat sini.

Apa-apa saja yang melibatkan prinsip yang jelas dalam agama, aku adopt perangai Upholder. (Unless kalau kau cakap tentang sesuatu perkara dengan konotasi agama yang tidak kena tempat dan mempergunakan imej alim untuk mepertahankan sesuatu yang salah… that’s another story. Contohnya, bila kau suruh orang yang didera atau dibuli untuk sabar dan redha tapi kau tak komen langsung betapa buruknya akhlak si pendera atau pembuli… haih, ini bikin aku panas, dong! Kau cakap macam tu depan aku, daripada aku nak adopt perangai Upholder, terus bertukar perangai Rebel pula jadinya. And I will call you out on your skewed judgment.)

Apa-apa saja benda yang melibatkan systematic injustice (injustice that has been legalized or accepted as a norm), I adopt sikit perangai Rebel!

See?

Regardless of what your character is… you have your own agenda in life. Your agenda sometimes might be at cross-purpose with another character. For example, the Questioner might get in conflict with the Upholder but find it easier to team up with a Rebel or even with an Obliger. On the Upholder’s part, he would feel like the Questioner are stirring things up for no reason with all his questions. (“Dah memang macam tu, kau ikut jerlah. Nak tanya banyak buat apa” the Upholder might feel irritated) The Upholder would ALSO find the Obliger as a better team mate.

(Obliger is well-liked by everyone. Hahha. Tapi dalam hati, entah-entah dia depressed kot! Sebab asyik nak kena oblige orang.)

Bayangkan bahawa pada masa dahulu, betapa banyak watak-watak telah berinteraksi bagi membolehkan sesebuah revolusi berlaku. Contohnya, dalam plot penghapusan amalan hamba di Amerika. Watak Rebel sangat perlu, bukan?! Watak Questioner who questioned the norm of the slave system was very much needed too. Mereka ini mungkin akan bergabung menentang watak Upholder yang masih mahu meneruskan sistem hamba di Amerika (as part of the Southern American culture). The Upholders at that time upheld the Southern culture and insisted on continuation of the slave system.

Boleh jadi ke ada watak Upholder yang mahu menghapuskan slave sistem pada ketika itu? Yes, mungkin ada watak Upholder juga yang tak suka slave system. Tetapi, diorang akan cakap “Okey, aku pun tak suka slavery semua ni. Tapi kita fight secara polisi dan diplomasi. Diplomasi ni memang adat kita dari dulu. Kita go through the channel. Tak payah lah nak question atau nak rebel.”

See? Upholders are not necessarily against the agenda of the Questioners or the Rebel. They might all have the same agenda and the same purpose. But they differ in their opinions regarding the methods of how it should be done. Yes, that can happen. Upholders can also side with the Rebels (imagine that!).

So things are not always as clear cut between Upholders, Rebel, Obligers and Questioners. Different type of characters can have the same goal.

***

Pada pendapat aku, asalkan kamu mempunyai matlamat yang sama, kamu tidak perlu nak halang orang lain yang mahu memperjuangkan isu dengan cara mereka sendiri.

Upholders might want to go through the diplomatic route… tapi itu adalah sesuai di peringkat policy-making atau di peringkat pentadbiran. Memang sesuai sangatlah untuk mereka menggunakan cara diplomasi tu sebab mereka yang dok attend meeting dengan pihak-pihak lain. Takkan dalam meeting dengan pihak lain nak bergaduh macam Rebel.

Tapi untuk orang biasa-biasa, rakyat marhaen, golongan bawahan yang bukan policy-makers… mereka akan merasakan “There will be no change in the policy, unless awareness has been created first.” Untuk golongan yang tak terlibat dalam pentadbiran dan tak attend apa-apa meeting, apakah peranan yang perlu mereka mainkan apabila mereka melihat sesuatu yang mungkar telah berlaku?

Sedangkan Allah asked us to fight evil with our bare hands or our tongues or with our hearts, whichever we can do best! Everyone has a role in this. The role of forbidding evil is not limited to those attending diplomatic policy meetings at the admin level!

forbid evil

It takes a Rebel to create chaos, FIRST! And then the chaos must be reported and widely publicized, FIRST! And then, Questioners and Rebels must loudly DEMAND for policy change continuously and incessantly, FIRST.

Lepas tu, barulah ada ‘political will’ dan ‘society pressure’ untuk berubah sehinggalah orang atasan (yang kebanyakannya Upholder of policies) terasa dah sampai masa untuk kita buat polisi baru. Lepas tu Upholders yang budiman (yang dalam diam menyokong Questioners and Rebel selama ni) bolehlah memainkan peranan…. when you go to that meeting pentadbiran, please use all your expertise in arranging diplomatic words to champion our mutual cause. Kerana kalau yang pergi meeting tu adalah the Questioner or the Rebel, meeting tu akan penuh dengan pergaduhan dan akhirnya polisi tak digubal-gubal sampai ke sudah sebab Questioner nak tanya semua benda. Hahaha.

So, Upholders tak perlu nak kacau method orang lain yang memperjuangkan isu yang sama. Kita semua ada watak-watak yang perlu dimainkan sebelum sesuatu benda terjadi. Just because you want to fight things diplomatically at the round table of any meeting, doesn’t mean you don’t need the Rebels and the Questioners to stir things up in the society. You guys perlukan kami untuk dapatkan political pressure… barulah senang korang nak insist dan point out ‘the need for change’ dalam pertemuan penuh diplomatic nanti.

Our methods can be used simultaneously in parallel! That’s the point!

Dalam apa saja bentuk perjuangan (Renaissance/ Menuntut Kemerdekaan/ Menuntut Sistem Hamba Dihapuskan / Penyebaran Agama Islam / Menuntut Wanita Dibenarkan Mengundi/ Menuntut Orang Kulit Hitam Dibenarkan Mengundi / Mengubah kerajaan BN kepada kerajaan PH), kronologi akan lebih kurang begini:

Screenshot 2018-09-28 23.53.51

Telitilah APA SAJA bentuk perubahan atau perjuangan, plot dan kronologinya akan lebih kurang begitu! These are the sort of books that I read all my life; makanan harian aku. I recognize that the plots in these sort of stories don’t differ much! To Kill A Mocking Bird is about treatment of Black People, and Go Set A Watchman is about the rights to vote among Black people, and 12 Years A Slave is about slavery. Dalam matapelajaran Sejarah, kita belajar bahawa kewujudan Protestant yang keluar daripada Katolik pun begitulah kronologinya! (Injustice had happened first apabila rakyat biasa tak puas hati dengan Spanish Inquisition yang kejam dan juga marah dengan paderi yang tamak mengutip duit indulgences/ duit pengampunan. Maka, berlaku perjuangan kecil-kecilan – memerlukan Rebels dan Questioners kan? – dan kemudian perjuangan ini bertambah lantang. Akhirnya muncul mazhab Protestant yang diasaskan oleh Paderi Martin Luther. Paderi Martin Luther menang bukan hanya kerana Rebel and Questioner… ada juga golongan atasan Upholder di kalangan paderi yang menolong beliau dengan cara diplomasi di meja runding. My point is : kita perlukan SEMUA watak, get it?).

Menuntut kemerdekaan Tanah Melayu pun begitu juga (British SUDAH TENTU kata pejuang kemerdekaan adalah pemberontak! British pun akan label orang-orang yang menentang Malayan Union sebagai orang yang ‘caustic, uncooperative, trouble stirrer’. Tapi sebab mereka QUESTION dan REBEL lah maka Malayan Union dibubarkan dan kedudukan Raja-Raja Melayu selamat hingga sekarang! At last bila public sentiment lagi kuat, Tun Abdul Rahman guna cara diplomatik merunding kemerdekaan dengan British. Tapi mana mungkin tiba-tiba British nak berunding kalau sebelum ni tak ada siapa cetuskan public sentiment! Think about it!) Aku dah banyak baca buku-buku melibatkan sejarah dan antaranya termasuklah autobiografi Mahatma Gandhi dan Nelson Mandela. Ini semua adalah sunnahtullah perjalanan melakukan perubahan! Read! Read and you will know why I believe the way I believe. I am influenced by my reading and by my basic knowledge of the course of history (yes, my history knowledge is very basic… but I have read enough to be able to detect the similarity in the plot pattern. You cannot possibly miss it when you have read enough!)

We all have our own roles to play. I won’t question your method when we have the same goals. Our characters have been made that way by God for a reason! Kalau semua orang mempunyai karakter polite Obligers, tak ada isu yang akan meletus untuk mencetus perubahan polisi.

Kalau adalah watak Questioner who are AGAINST my own goal, I will STILL oppose him. Walaupun kami ada watak Questioner yang sama, do you think we would mingle well together regardless of our similar character? No! Selagi mana aku rasa kau mempunyai sentiment yang salah dan bercanggah dengan apa yang aku rasa adil dan betul, aku tetap takkan mix well with you no matter how similar our characters are.

So… I don’t oppose orang yang berlainan watak dengan aku. Aku cuma oppose siapa-siapa saja yang bercanggah matlamat dengan aku, especially bila ini melibatkan soal keadilan dan ethical conduct.

Questioners and Rebels need Upholders. Just like Upholders need Questioners and Rebels. And we all need Obligers to support our causes because they will make up the majority!

Bila kita nak memperjuangkan sesuatu isu, make sure kita semua ada matlamat yang sama dulu. Lepas tu, let us work in our own way according to our own character. Jangan lah ada yang nak memaksa orang ikut cara dia. Sedangkan dia sendiri, jika dipinta, tak boleh nak ikut cara kita, kan?

* * *

Dulu! Dulu zaman aku naif dan berdarah muda, aku selalu cakap dengan kawan-kawan aku “Apsal kau tak lawan jer? Kenapa kau kena bertahan?” (Dalam hati: kenapa kau lembik sangat, hah?)

“Aku tak nak benda jadi lagi teruk. Ada cara lain yang lebih okey. Sabar tak semestinya mengalah.”

Dulu aku tak faham kenapa orang tak boleh be more assertive. Tapi sekarang I have become, ehem, wiser. Aku faham diorang tak boleh jadi macam aku. Plot cerita diorang lain. Character diorang lain. Plot cerita aku lain. Character aku lain. So, I appreciate them better and have stopped questioning how other people do things.

But that doesn’t mean I will follow their method. Like I said, my plot and my role in any particular event is different than yours. Our plots are now intersecting and interconnecting (like God has pre-ordained in the creation of His story) but we have different roles to play.

“Afiza, kau dah matang sekarang ni kan? Kurang melenting sikit. Tapi kau tetap cakap apa kau tak puas hati tanpa menidakkan point orang lain. That was very well done. Dah diplomatik sikit la ni” said my friend one day after I had finished debating an issue in one of our numerous whatsapp groups.

I just laughed. Because now I understand. And I can laugh. (Kalau dulu, tak cukup perkataan aku nak kritik… diorang lembik, tak reti nak speak up, tak reti nak fight, tak nak cakap benda yang betul and so on and so forth. Now I knew better. You do it your way, I do it mine. May our route converge to the same goal, Amiin. But if you have different goals than me, I will always oppose you regardless of what method you use. Sorry, nothing personal. It so happens that your goal is opposite mine).

Upholders yang pandai berdiplomasi dan bersopan santun di meja perunding, takkan nak jadi outspoken macam aku tiba-tiba. Setiap watak ada advantage and disadavantage masing-masing dalam pelbagai situasi. I will die of suppressed anger (or boredom) at meja perundingan. The meeting won’t end well if I open my mouth when I am too upset. That’s why dalam meeting apa pun I usually don’t pay attention that much and selalunya senyap (unless that meeting is interesting in some way, then I pay attention). Because the meeting table is not my turf. Meetings and me… we don’t do well with each other.

But I can, Insya Allah, thrive in a harsh environment that challenge my values because my character suits that kind of environment. That was how I survived housemanship. My attitude was “Lagi kau buli aku, lagi aku nak tunjuk aku tak kisah dan lagi aku nak stubborn. Jangan ingat aku takut nak datang kerja jumpa kau just because semalam kau marah aku tak bertempat dan tak hormat maruah dan air muka aku. No way! Aku takkan EL. Aku takkan MC. Aku takkan MIA. Sebab lepas aku keluar daripada department, lepas aku bukan lagi HO, aku akan fight isu HO cukup-cukup dan aku tak nak kau ada alasan nak jawab yang aku ni ‘not tough enough’ when I say what I say or write what I write. Bila aku raise issue, you can never say that it was because I could not survive the hostile treatment… because I could and I did… WITHOUT ANY EL/MC/ MIA… but I STILL complain because it was the truth!”

This is just how the Questioner (and the Rebel) do things! #SorryNotSorry

***

In the saga of housemanship training, Miya Wong plays the role of a Rebel. I stick to my role of a Questioner. We also have many Obligers who keep sharing her post all over social media.

The awareness is there already. Insya Allah, political will is getting there.

Now to upholders of system (they keep saying to go through the system. Go through the right channel. What if the channel is broken, though? Sampai bertahun-tahun HO Orthopaedic Sungai Buluh ketakutan dicabul kot! Channel apa slow sangat ni!?) and upholders of politeness (“diplomacy is the best way because we cannot fight alone,” they say. But I never minded fighting alone. But perhaps, I won’t get far.)… you guys can now play your role because the Rebel Miya Wong had stirred up an issue and the Questioners/Rebels/Obligers pun dah share dia punya status all over social media to create awareness and stir public sentiment. This is the ideal time to change the culture and win our mutual goal. Use your charming diplomacy at the meeting table NOW and prove to us that it works!

Oh all Upholders, are you going to uphold the bullying of house officers (in which case, I will continue to fight you and I will keep creating awareness in the social media and rebut all your biased posts. Sorry, nothing personal. I am just playing my role), or are you going to use your diplomacy to uphold the principle of Primum, non nocere in the training of housemen.

Primum, non nocere. First, do no harm!

Please , if you are going to uphold anything, uphold that, first!

gandhi
Satu lagi Aturan Alam yang tak dapat dinafikan. Dulu isu Housemen was ignored… aku pun sempat lalui fasa itu. Dan kini mereka sudah habis tertawakan isu housemen. Sekarang adalah fasa ‘fight’. So, dah tak lama lagi dah…Insya Allah

#RiseIniKalilah

Disclaimer:

After recently doing an attachment in another hospital, meeting other MOs who are based in many different hospitals all over Malaysia, I’ve had an opportunity to discuss with them regarding health care issues at their respective setting, and about how they run their service in their respective hospital. My eyes were open to the fact that no system and no service is perfectly run. But we must continually improve the system, regardless. The conversation that I had with fellow attachment doctors reminded me that I had written about some of these issues that we have talked about a long time ago.

I wrote this article below about one year ago, before the GE 14. But I did not publish this post publicly because it was still a bit of a sensitive issue at that time. Now that we have changed to a new government, I decided that I should publish this post publicly. One year ago, I had written this article after a very emotionally-charged encounter with a patient that made me feel defeated. That made me feel like I couldn’t do much for her. That made me question myself regarding why I was even a government servant? That made me want to migrate elsewhere! That made me feel very hateful of the BN government! Last year, there were so many issues that affect the provision of healthcare in Malaysia that made me wonder if I could ever be the kind of doctor that I had always envisioned myself to be.

And I blamed the government then. Hahah.

Of course after the GE 14, I am all hopeful and optimistic these days. But I also think that the issues I had ranted about one year ago are still relevant. And therefore, since I am having a writer’s block at the moment and have no materials or issues to update in this blog for the time being, I decided to publish this old article of mine that had been collecting dust in my hard drive. (One blogger had asked me regarding how I manage to maintain my blog since 2009 and not suffering from a writer’s block like her? Most of my friends’  blogs were not updated for many years. Writer’s block is real, people! It is the most dreadful thing that can happen to a writer. So I told her that I write a lot of things that I don’t always immediately publish in this blog and simply keep them in my hard drive. When I have no materials with which to update my blog, I will simply choose one of those unpublished articles to be posted. Writer’s block sometimes can persist for months, folks. So when I do have things to write, I would go on a binge writing session and put those articles away as reserve. When the next writer’s block strike, at least I would still have something to post in this blog. So that’s the secret. Maximize your articles productivity when your thoughts are clear and chockablock with ideas but don’t publish all of them immediately in your blog. Keep a few of them away to tide you over in the months when you are suffering from lack of productivity secondary to writer’s block)

So here’s the article I had written one year ago and it was about social justice. Enjoy!

***

For The Sake of Social Justice

The problem with me is that I have a pretty high expectation about most things. I really do.

I am not a perfectionist, though. I am a practical idealist (though some would argue that the term ‘practical idealist’ is an oxymoron).

You see, there are times when I can relate to difficult patients, because I am pretty difficult myself (with very good insight about my difficult temperament. Hahaha). Trust me, you don’t want me as your patient. 

For example, if I had waited for four hours to see a doctor, you can bet your little finger that I expect a lot from the consultation later. A lot!

I would feel pretty disappointed (like I was short-changed)  if the doctor simply asked “Ada dengar suara bisik kat telinga? Ok, tak ada. Ubat makan tak? Boleh kerja? So, semua okey? Okey, kita sambung ubat macam biasalah.”

Four hours of my time yields only 5 minutes (or even less) of consultation?! Any REASONABLE patient would feel short-changed (let alone a demanding and a difficult one!). The patient might even decide to default follow up next time because he/she didn’t feel the consultation was worth the trouble and the waiting time. (I certainly know that I am the type of person who HATES waiting. Hahaha. Orang macam aku takkan mau dah jumpa doktor kalau aku rasa tak berbaloi! I won’t do something that don’t give me worthy outcome!)

Sometimes, I feel so terrible about my inability to spend more time to see each and every one of my patient. There are times when I want to prolong the consultation simply because I want the patients to feel that their waiting was worth it. But when I look at the piles of cases left to be seen in front of me, all my good intentions fly out the window.

However I always make sure that I ask a token question of “Ada apa-apa dak nak tanya lagi?” or “Nak habaq apa-apa ka sebelum kita habis?” or “ada apa-apa lagi nak bincang dengan doktor sebelum habis?” (Nampak tak perkataan ‘sebelum kita habis’ dah ada unsur-unsur nak kejar patient? Unsur-unsur nak menutup consultation, tetapi masih berlapik. Hahah)

You know, it is laughable. Usually we said “Sebelum kita habis, ada apa-apa lagi ke nak tanya or nak habaq?” for a conversation that has been going on for a long time.

BUT! If they just came and ‘bontot pun tak panas lagi” and then suddenly I used the phrase “sebelum kita habis…” Hahaha. God… it is ridiculous, isn’t it? (If I were the patient, I would go, “You mean, we are already about to finish? We barely even started, doctor.”)

Most patients would say no. That they have nothing else to say or to ask. And some chronic Schizophrenic patients with negative symptoms really have nothing else to ask. In the first place, some of them are monosyllabic in answering questions. And some of them have poverty of thoughts and would not volunteer any information that is not directly asked. They don’t elaborate much on their answers because after years of illness and cognitive impairment, they are not able to produce the sort of spontaneous speech that we all have taken for granted. 

And some patients who are rushing to pick up their kids from school really don’t mind that the consultation is short. (“Saya tunggu lama sebab nak ambil ubat ja. Memang saya nak rushing balik kerja/ambil anak/nak masak. So tak pa lah, doktor sambung ubat ja lah.” they would say with an annoyed tone because they have been waiting for so long just to continue medication) But I still ask that token question of “ada apa-apa nak bincang dengan doktor?” just to comfort myself that I have done my job. That I have invited them to say their piece. That I have fulfilled my obligation to hear them out after they have waited for so long. And if they said they were fine, then I won’t feel guilty if I decide not to probe further. So it makes me feel better that I have asked. (As if my ‘ajak-ajak ayam’ to talk further is good enough! LOL)

Of course, we KKM staff can comfort ourselves by saying “Ni hospital kerajaan. Nak buat macam mana? Kalau nak cepat kena pi private. Patient lain dok tunggu lagi lama. Kalau tak boleh tunggu lama, pi lah private.  Kalau nak luah perasaan lama-lama, kena pi private. Kalau nak dapat doktor yang layan awak macam raja, kena pi private.”

Is that gonna be our tagline? “Kalau malas tunggu, pi private” or “Kalau nak demand, pi lah private”, dan yang sewaktu dengannya?

Whatever the patients want that we cannot fulfil, let’s direct them to the private clinics, huh?

So, other than our routine core business of seeing patients (furiously fast) what are we doing here as a government staff?

See…we in the government, have no choice but to prioritise. Some cases are difficult and we do spend more time exploring their issues to their hearts’ content (and our hearts’ content). Not all cases can ‘touch and go’. Affective disorders (with new stressors) will take up almost half an hour of our time, at least (and in the mean time ,’to be seen’ cases keep piling up in front of you. Patients keep knocking on your door, asking for you to hurry up because they have some other urgent matters elsewhere).

Some people think Schizophrenia is difficult to see. (“Pesakit Schizophrenia mesti aggressive. Susah. Mesti lama nak kena settle,” some inexperienced non-psychiatric doctors might think). But actually, psychotic disorders are the best cases to handle when you are rushing. When they are aggressive, you just jab them with IM Haloperidol.  (If they are already stable and not aggressive, you just asked “Dengar suara tak? Kalau tak dengar suara, dose ubat ni kira dah oklah. So, kita sambung ubat macam biasa.” End of consultation. That’s the main gist of it, with some variations. When you are rushing, you cannot be as thorough as you like. It is so sad.)

It is the affective disorders that always make me feel guilty when I cannot see them longer than I want to. They would cry, then they need to talk…and talk…. AND talk. And they will cry some more. They deserve my time… and I cannot fulfil their expectation, sometimes. Not because I am rushing to go out for lunch. But because other patients are waiting too and they keep rushing you! I could forego my lunch if patients are willing to postpone the rest of their activities just to wait for me to thoroughly see each and every one of them. But they are not willing to postpone picking up their children, are they? They are not willing to postpone going back to their office too, are they? They are not willing to postpone getting back home so that they can carry on with their routine, are they? THEY couldn’t wait! And therefore, I couldn’t spend more time than I would have liked to if it were up to me.

But when I DO spend my time with them, we get distracted a lot. By noises! By people going in and out. By conversation crossing over, here, there and everywhere. I lost focus. My irritability raises quite a bit when I am forced to converse in noise. I hate it.

It’s just not ideal.

The ideal side of my ‘practical idealist self’ finds it intolerable. But the practical side of the same self know that I should learn to accept the situation and make do with whatever we have.

If I were the patient, I would write a letter of complaint to Pengarah and said “Dahlah masa menunggu lama. Bila masuk bilik, jumpa doktor tak sampai 5 minit. Dalam 5 minit tu pun, bilik penuh, sendat macam dengan apa. Saya cakap pun kena kuat-kuat, sebab bising. Bila saya cakap kuat, pesakit sebelah lagi pun cakap lagi kuat sebab dia pun nak didengari juga. Doktor saya pun terpaksa cakap kuat sebab bising. Doktor sorang lagi pun akan cakap lagi kuat. Belum lagi medical students yang dok berkeliaran sana sini. Saya rasa saya lagi stressed out. Dalam bilik tu kena share punya ramai orang! Ada 4 doktor dalam satu bilik, campur empat pesakit dan campur keluarga mereka sekali dalam bilik tu. Dan student-student dok pi mai, pi mai. Rasa-rasanya, saya ada mood tak nak cerita masalah peribadi saya dalam suasana yang macam tu?”

(I told you that I am a difficult person. You really don’t want me to be your patient. See? You have no idea how thoroughly I can voice my complaints, and how profoundly I can elaborate on it. When I have something to say, I REALLY say it. Haha)

But as a pragmatic, we deal with the limitations that we have. We make things work because we have NO OTHER CHOICE. And this situation is similar in ANY government setting. Consultation rooms are shared because there are simply no more extra room to be used. When I talk to my friends elsewhere, they told me that in certain settings in KKM, even the pantry is used to see patients! (Again, if I were the patient, I will definitely complain.)

We in KKM might say, “So what? Bayar RM5 saja, dah mengada-ngada. Patients tak berhak nak demand dengan RM 5,”  Eh? Betul? Cuma kita sebagai doktor, patut ada rasa tak puas hati bagi pihak pesakit. Kita kena ada rasa nak improve kita punya service. But who would care about what the doctors had voiced out to the admin? People would only start to care once the patient himself/herself complains against any hospital in the social media and it becomes viral. 

Imagine if all doctors told their patients, “Encik pi lah mengadu. Nah….ni borang aduan. Lagi banyak encik mengadu, lagi senang kami nak justify buat perubahan. Semua ni perlu budget yang kami tak ada.” Why don’t we encourage patients to complain against us?!  You see….that’s what the practical side of my ‘practical idealist’ self would think as a good solution. My practical side thinks that encouraging our patients to complain against us is the most effective way to get the ball rolling. To get the attention of the higher up.

But no! Once you are in admin, you don’t want to hear complaints kan? Sebab nanti kau yang nak kena jawab. So…I don’t know. It’s a Catch-22 situation. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Maybe admin should welcome complaints as a method to pressure the powers that be to pay attention. When called to produce an explanation letter, we can simply write as follows: “I have nothing to explain. The patient was right in everything she said. Now, you deal with it! How can you help me to improve my service with the paltry, minuscule budget you are giving me? Call me when you have the answer. I am most anxiously waiting.”

Tak cukup staff kat ward sebab memang tak ada pengambilan staff baru… okey, we deal with it.

Tak boleh start appropriate medication untuk patient sebab tak ada quota, we deal with it.

Tak boleh nak provide more comfortable consultation environment for the patient, we deal with it.

Tak boleh claim elaun untuk provide good community service during oncall, we deal with it.

We are okay to deal with it as long as we think the government has no money through NO FAULT OF THEIRS. But that is not the case! The case is they are very much at fault! Where the hell is the GST money?  Budget cuts for health is starting to affect our patients.

The case is, the government is very incompetent through blatant corruption that has been swept under the carpet again and again.

The case is, all these difficulties are secondary to greedy politicians swindling money right, left and center!

That’s the case!

So nowadays, I push all my patients to apply for OKU cards and allowance. I used to dread seeing the OKU forms being brought by patients…. because it meant that I would have to go to my specialist, wait outside her door and pounce upon her once she has ended her consultation with her patient in order to get her to sign the OKU form. I hate waiting. The time waiting for my specialist to sign the OKU form can be used to see patients. That’s why I used to feel a sort of chest heaviness whenever I saw my patients bringing OKU forms that needed to be signed (In my mind, I went, “habislah masa aku terbuang menunggu depan bilik specialist untuk sign OKU form”. I generally don’t like to interrupt an on-going consultation and would wait until my specialist has finished with his/her patient before I would ask them to sign the OKU form. I project my own tendency to feel irritated when people interrupt my session with my patients. So I would have to wait in front of the specialist’s door until his/her patient comes out of the room… only then, I would enter the room to get the form signed.)

But nowadays, I stop rushing or thinking about wasted time. I give away OKU forms to most patients who don’t yet have an OKU card, even when they didn’t ask for it. “Nah, ni borang OKU. Akak balik isi borang ni, nanti bawa mai kat saya.” Some of them did not know that such welfare money is available, but I would voluntarily tell them to go and apply for it, overzealously pushing them to get the OKU card.

I want my patients to get the money, because otherwise those money will only sit around waiting to be swindled by other greedy hands. My patients have the illness, and they are entitled to it, in a way that no politicians are. At least I know that some of the taxpayers money are spent where it should be. That is my version of social justice. Distribution of wealth of the nation must be fair. In the cases when it is grossly unfair, then we should do everything in our power to help tip the balance.

In my current situation, the only thing I can do is to promote to every patient to apply for all sort of welfare aids that are available in the country. My patients are more deserving of the money than undeserving kleptocrats. Khalas! And if it means that I am going to have to waste some time getting the OKU form signed, then be it! For just a little bit of social justice, the wasted time would be worth it. 

Because, really, what else is there to do? When you are working as a public servant of a corrupted government, what else is there to do to ensure just a little bit of social justice takes place? Maybe… the time has come to really grieve.

The End

***

When I read back  the above article that I had written one year ago, I remember again all the anger and frustration I had felt at that time. But I also experience that bittersweet sensation one usually feel after having defeated an oppressive opponent in a torturous drawn-out battle.

Bitter from remembering the anger I had once felt against the government! Sweet because I had played a small part in toppling the kleptocratic government when I became a PACA for PH!

When I heard that a movie has been made about the saga of GE 14 and it would be released this September, I just couldn’t wait to watch it! Guys, I don’t usually watch local movies, but I do watch all local movies when they are about patriotism! And this one is special… because this patriotic story happened in my lifetime. I was a witness to a great history! And now that it is made into a movie, I will not miss watching this.

And what makes the movie even better is, one of the directors for the movie, Nik Amir Mustapha, was my batchmate in MRSM Langkawi! So, there are so many reasons why I am so excited to watch this movie.

Come on guys, let’s watch it when it is released on 16 September 2018! Tempt yourself by watching the trailer of the movie below. The trailer is inspiring!

#GE14

#RiseIniKalilah