#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 When I have no materials with which to update my blog, I will simply choose one of those unpublished articles to be posted.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

 

 

 

Dear Readers, Live Your Life Free!

Screenshot 2018-08-04 21.40.05

It was a sad day for the medical fraternity in Malaysia when we woke-up last weekend to the breaking news of having a sex predator in our midst, holding the significant post of a HOD in one of the hospitals in the Klang Valley.

I could NOT believe my eyes when I read the article shared by one of our members in our forum. It sickened me! Not just for the fact that the sex predator is a senior doctor who has been using his high position to prey on vulnerable housemen for many years! But for the fact that MANY people in the department as well as in other departments in and out of the hospital had KNOWN about it and yet they DID NOTHING!

Some of these people were specialist and consultants too but they turned a blind eye and DID NOTHING!

I felt disgusted and nauseated by such cowardice.

***

I don’t blame the victims for not speaking up. They are vulnerable, after all. But I blame the specialists (even the MOs, when I think about it) who had known but kept silent. Anyone who has been secured in their position (confirmed in their posts/ sah dalam jawatan) not speaking up against injustice done towards vulnerable people in their circle (innocent, green HOs who have not been confirmed in their posts and IN NEED of the good will of others) are accountable, in my opinion!

This was EXACTLY the sort of shameful cowardice I talked about many, many times in my previous blog posts.

How DARE specialists scream at HOs for not presenting properly or for making some mistakes that they did out of ignorance…. but turned a blind eye when their own colleagues or their boss had committed a crime purposefully! 

All specialists in that department who knew this and did nothing are also accountable! Shameful!

Next time, don’t talk about low quality housemen! Look at low quality specialists who were as mute as they were spineless!  And look at the HOD of an outstanding criminal quality! Bravo!

What an amazing outcome of having been trained ‘during your time’, huh? (Yup, this is not a fair statement. Many other older specialists who were trained during that time are good. But I just want to demonstrate to you how it feels when the juniors have to listen to you huffing and puffing about ‘housemen these days’ as though none of them is good! Because THAT is also not a fair statement, isn’t it? So, let’s stop talking about your time and comparing it to the current time! Your time has passed! Move on! Our time is current… it is more relevant! Help us make the best of it, ok?)

***

It baffled me.

How could you NOT take complaints like this seriously when it was informed to you? When I was a HO, I won’t even tolerate unfair scoldings…I would speak up and defend myself if I knew I was right. 

So, it baffled me why SPECIALIST and people in the higher position can turn a blind eye to SEXUAL harrassment! 

Your higher position comes with RESPONSIBILITY….not just privilege! Think about what it means, for a moment, to be called a specialist and a consultant. Think!

You are at a MUCH better position to go against the HOD than anyone else. 

Who can we rely on to help the juniors if not you guys?

When I was a HO, I have heard stories of some of my colleagues who had been romantically propositioned by specialists too… but it was never up to molestation or sexual harassment (that I know of). Or else, I was sure people would have spoken up (of course, now I am not so sure anymore). I NEVER thought that any one who called themselves a doctor would just do nothing if he or she knew that someone was sexually harassed.

To think that MANY PEOPLE knew of this behaviour and DID NOTHING other than secretly warning the HO to be careful… why didn’t they go to the pengarah or lodge a police report instead?

Or maybe they did…. but THEY also did nothing?

***

“Hang boleh cakap lah, Afiza. Hang tak dak kat tempat diorang. Depa nak kena jaga periuk nasi depa juga. HOs semua nak kena pass posting. Master trainees semua depend on him. Specialists pun belajar dengan dia, indebted to him, depending on him. Cuba kau letak diri kau kat tempat depa. You were not there!”

Hahah! Damn! I couldn’t believe it!

Look, just because I wasn’t there, doesn’t mean I cannot talk about it and cannot have an opinion about it! (I wasn’t there when  the BN government stole the country’s money! Most of us Malaysians were not there among the BN kleptocratic circle when Najib committed so many atrocities against many people… but didn’t we TALK ABOUT IT? Didn’t we blame the whole BN party when they failed to stand up to Najib, and thus we had punished them in the last election by voting for PH? Heck.. yes, I wasn’t there but I am STILL gonna talk about it. This will serve as a lesson against anyone in the future who knows something like this is going on but keep their silence!)

Only people who don’t know me would ever think that I would do NOTHING if I ever find out about something like this! I have created havoc for even less than this, ok! So, I would have NO COMPUNCTION WHATSOEVER in creating a lot of chaos over something as serious as this. Mark my words! I will go against anyone who do this to my friend, let alone to myself or my family. I have spoken up for something even less.

Just because YOU are a coward, doesn’t mean everyone else is like you, ok?

And for that, I thank the tarbiyah that I got from my seniors in Australia. I thank God every day of my life that He put me in Australia and open my heart to be receptive to dakwah. I may not dress alim… but I know the basic tenets of justice in my religion! I fight when I believe I am right.

Against oppression, Islam told me to stand firm and resolute! Even against your own selves or your parents or your relatives (let alone your boss!!). Islam told us not to follow personal inclination (such as passing your master training, maybe?). Islam told us not to distort testimony or refuse to give it (by keeping silence like what we have done!) when it comes to standing for justice. 

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever acquainted with what you do.

(Al Quran: An-Nisa 4:135)

My Prophet p.b.u.h told me to ALWAYS look out for the weak  and the vulnerable among us! That we are only supported and provided for by the Almighty if we support the weak and the vulnerable in the community. In our case as doctors, the housemen are the vulnerable among us! And we should look out for them! 

Abu Darda reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Seek out the vulnerable among you. Verily, you are only given provision and support due to your support of the weak.”

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1702

So, how do you justify your silence when you KNOW there is a sex predator in your department? How could you do NOTHING?

“Mungkin depa dah buat something. Tapi nak buat macam mana? Dia lebih powerful.” Said someone else in the forum.

Ah, I couldn’t BRAIN this kind of response!

“Oh, ok. Depa buat something. Bila tak jadi, so depa stop doing anything? That’s it? Responsibility done? So, pi kerja macam biasa? Bila tahi macam ni dah viral, baru tiba-tiba nak tunjuk concerned??!” I STILL couldn’t brain this!

For something as sinister and evil as sexual crimes, you should NEVER stop doing something until the bastard is convicted! Just because you have done something that didn’t work, doesn’t mean your responsibility is done! Not until you accomplish the mission… your responsibility is STILL not done! No!

Think about what you would do if these housemen were your wives? Your daughters? Your sisters? How could you have been SO SELFISH!!

***

I have a theory regarding why Malaysian are too timid in speaking up against injustice.

Everyone ‘kalut’ to please the boss! What is the worst thing that can happen if you speak up against anyone? You lose the job, maybe?

Well…

We have to live FREE… not tied to any ‘artificial’ sense of obligation or fear when we speak up for the truth.

By all means… respect your superiors and respect the system… but not beyond a certain limit. 

  • Naik pangkat, naik gaji…. don’t upgrade your lifestyle just yet. Don’t increase your commitments just yet. Don’t start shopping for new cars or buying another house. Instead, save that money! Invest it! Have other source of income! Should something happen to you because you speak the truth against ANYONE, you have that money to tide you over until you can find another job or hire a lawyer against that person. 

 

  • Some people said “you don’t understand.. these people are powerful.” But all it takes is for someone in the department (preferably the specialists who is already established and can always find other jobs in the private setting should something go wrong) to speak up, lodge a police report and if those actions failed, just viral it macam sekarang! Can’t you see the power of social media? The bastard’s immunity is gone because public sentiment is more powerful, thanks to social media! Why was it so hard to viral it THEN compared to now? Sure, the government had changed from BN to PH now, which might explain why it would be easier to go against the bastard NOW. But the social media has been around for many years and it was successfully used by the former opposition all these while! Heck, social media is one of the best factors of why we were able to change the government!  Why couldn’t it be used back then, against this predator, if push comes to shove? Why didn’t any specialist use this as the last resort if all police reports or any appeal to the higher authority have failed? Perhaps even the victims were too scared to use the social media back then because they perceived that even the people in that department, (her superiors who should have known better) did not lift a finger to help them. 

 

  • Actually it wasn’t that hard to speak up… it was only hard because we all have our own conflict of interest against speaking up (takut kena target, I need my salary, takut training tak lepas, takut this and that). So we become selfish and we silence our conscience. 

When we start putting priorities on other things over principles/values/justice… that’s when it is so hard to speak up!

Live free! Live with REAL freedom! 

In order to do that, we must not be dependent on anything or anyone too much. We must be able to walk away and say “my career is not worth putting up with THIS injustice.” And you CANNOT do that when you depend too much on your work… and you depend too much on your work because you want to live a certain lifestyle that you used to be able to live without before. 

You used to be able to be content before you went for master training! But because you value your master training more, you won’t speak up against your  boss… even if he is a sex predator? You used to feel content with just a simple house and one small car.  But now that you have upgraded your lifestyle and have acquired a lot of loans to finance that lifestyle, you NEED the job too much now. Because you value your job more (the salary from which you get to afford your bungalow and your BMW), so you won’t speak up against your  boss… even if he is a sex predator?

Is that justifiable?

Real freedom can never be attained when you attach yourself to any artificial sense of well being that is material-dependent! Can you PLEASE attach your sense of well-being to having good principles? How about attaching your sense of well-being to freedom of action, freedom of speaking up your mind, freedom of movement, freedom of doing what you believe as right!

Thanks to the tarbiyah that I got in Australia,  I associate my well-being to freedom from any artificial attachment to material things that don’t guarantee happiness anyway.

I don’t depend too much on my work. I can LIVE not being a doctor. I can honestly say that if push comes to shove, I can walk away and do something else. I love my job as a means of contributing to the society, as a means of ibadah…but when all is said and done, there are other ways I can contribute to the society. Other jobs can also be an ibadah. I can downgrade my lifestyle any time! I can walk away from my job if my principles are violated. (But before I do, I will create a lot of shit! Since I am gonna lose my job anyway, I might as well exit in style and make sure the evil person pay for what he/she had done! If you put me in a position when I have nothing more to lose, then OF COURSE I will give you my best fight! Bring it on!)

dangerous
A wounded lion is the most dangerous. I can be a lion when I have to.

I don’t depend too much on the good opinion of my boss, though all my boss now are nice (but who knows what sort of boss I will get in the future, right?) I specifically design my life that way when I choose the external pathway over master! Because I KNOW myself… I am not the timid type and I am quite abrasive against an unjust authority. But EVEN if I had chosen master, at the end of the day, I also know that I can live just as well not being a specialist! But I can NEVER live with myself if I let a sex-predator continue to commit heinous sexual crimes against my subordinates! I would have spoken up!

I also value freedom of movement! If I ever become dissatisfied with the injustice in my country (which was the case before we switched the government, recently), I can work elsewhere. Again, that is WHY I choose MRCPSYCH over master, so that my qualification is recognized everywhere. That’s why I had OPENLY campaigned for PH in my facebook and my blog… because I could walk away! Anytime! I was willing to  take that calculated risk when I became a PACA! 

I make certain choices in my life so that no one has TOO MUCH hold on me! I will never allow it! And I pray to God that He would never make anyone have any hold on me because I can never tolerate living that way. And in order to do that, I know I must lead a simple life.

No grandeur lifestyle that entangled my routine; no unmanageable excessive loans that would make me depend on my job until I cannot speak up against anyone; no unmanageable ties and relationships that become a burden rather than a comfort.

I will speak up! If I am wrong, rebut me! Debate me! Make me see… then I will follow you willingly. Otherwise, don’t force me. Because I won’t follow. And I am willing to pay the price.

To me, THAT is real freedom. To me, THAT is real happiness. And I would never give that up for specialty training or lifestyle maintenance.

THIS, my dear readers, is my life philosophy!  It has been my life philosophy since I was in Australia.

And I thank God that I live in the age of the social media.  It is a tool that all of us can use wisely against ANYONE who violate us unjustly, regardless of their position! Let the public sentiment decide!

Screenshot 2018-08-04 21.39.48

***

Dear readers,

Live as free as possible. And one day, as you spread your wings, look up to the sky and say Alhamdulillah for the gift of freedom in your life.

 

Afiza’s Philosophy On First Impression

first impression wrong

Did you know that the original title for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was First Impression?

If you are a fan of classic literature, your answer would have been yes… because it is one of the most common trivia among ardent book readers.

history of pride and prejudice

Just like it is common trivia that Charlotte Bronte, Anne Bronte, and Emily Bronte had published their manuscripts under male pseudonyms of Currer Bell, Acton Bell and Ellis Bell because female authors were discriminated against in those times. Charlotte Bronte had said “We did not like to declare ourselves women, because we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice.”

There is that word again! Prejudice!

Elizabeth Bennet was prejudiced against Mr. Darcy whereas Mr. Darcy was prideful towards Elizabeth Bennet, hence the change of title to Pride & Prejudice….maybe. I don’t know why Jane Austen changed the title, actually. For commercial reason, perhaps? ‘Pride & Prejudice’ certainly sounds more thought-provoking than ‘First Impression’, no?

But my post this time is not going to be on Jane Austen’s highly acclaimed novel. It is going to be about the pitfalls of first impression and why we should never give it more value than it is really worth.

***

Some people place too much importance on first impression. They would quote to you quips that they think as intelligent such as “Two things remain irretrievable; Time and first impression”. Or they would say “First impressions are the most lasting.” Then, they sell their products to you… be it whitening cream, clothing, shoes, tudung, perfume… with the tagline of “First impression is the deepest”. Haha.

But in my opinion, to be relying so much on your first impression of others, obstinately refusing to change your opinion even after you have had the opportunity to revise your first impression, is the height of wilful idiocy.

The word first impression itself is quite self-explanatory. It denotes lack-of-depth, lack-of-accuracy, lack-of-assessment. In short, it is just lacking, period!

And for those who insisted on how important first impression really is… well, MY first impression of such a person would be “You are too superficial! And we will probably never see eye-to-eye in most matters if this is the way you persist in making your judgment.” But then unlike them, I am more open to changing my opinion about them if they are able to show me evidence of the depth of their thoughts in our future encounters next time. Because again, unlike them, I NEVER put much faith nor stock in my first impression even when my first impressions have turned out to be right many times in the past (because I ALSO remember the times when I turned out to be wrong and I don’t want to persist in the stupidity of making snap judgment).

judge man's life

***

“So you don’t think first impression is important? How about when you are going for an interview? Would you dress shabbily? Would you arrive late? Would you not want to appear competent and successful?”

Look, first impression is important… but only up to a point…. and then, no more. THAT is what I am driving at! I repeat, first impression is only important up to a point… and then no further.

If it is as you had said “First impression is the most lasting”, I would be quite skeptical of your ability to learn new information and unlearn false information… there is something wrong in your cognitive flexibility (or your brain plasticity) if the first impression – regardless of accuracy – is the most lasting one for you!

Don’t you think?

Most of the time, I don’t remember my first impression of anyone. Perhaps, because it was never that important to me. I distrust it.

But once I have had enough opportunity (by the means of multiple encounters) to form an impression, then you will never get me to change my mind because THIS TIME, I have had enough encounters with you to be able to form a fair and accurate judgment of your character and temperament.

Still, it doesn’t mean I am not optimistic that you might later change some of your bad habits. But just go and change those bad habits first… then I will re-assess my judgment of you, even when I know that my first judgment of you was correct AT THAT TIME (because I actually made an effort in coming to that judgment, in the first place. I did not simply rely on my first impression and I actually have observed you multiple times before I arrived to that judgment). But now I am re-evaluating you because you have made some changes. If I change my mind about you, it wasn’t because I was wrong the first time…. it was because you have changed now and therefore I am willing to change my impression of you, accordingly.

That’s all.

umar
See? That’s why we should always reassess our initial judgment!

***

Muslims in general should not be putting stock in first impressions. I remember the story of Saidina Umar Al-Khattab R.A when he first arrived in Jerusalem after the Muslim army had been successful in their campaign to conquer the holy city from the Christians.

Abu Ubaidah R.A, the commander in chief of the Muslim army and himself a very pious man, suggested that Umar change his clothes so that the people of Jerusalem, accustomed to the pomp and grandeur of kings and emperors, were not dissuaded from handing the keys of Jerusalem over to him. Umar hit Abu Ubaidah hard on the chest and reminded him that the Arabs had once been a disgraced nation. What had brought them honour and elevated their status was Islam. Should they seek honour from anything else, they would surely be humiliated again.

Lesson learned: Don’t seek honour through the superficial means of your clothing/shoes/brands in an attempt to make a great first impression. Instead, seek honour through strength of character. And this is not something you can tell upon a first glance! It doesn’t work that way!

By all means… wear nice clothes to an interview. But not as a means to hide your real character, but rather to enhance them. Work on your character first…then you work on other superficial things that would reflect your real character!

By all means, be polite and speak nicely in order to create warmth and mutual good regards. But above all else, mean your words! “Say what you mean. And mean what you say.” Say what you really believe… not what you think the others or the boss want to hear just because you want to make a favourable false impression. (I always try to say what I mean… I am just not very good at doing it politely especially when I am too upset. I am learning to sheathe my blunt honesty with a scabbard of politeness… but it takes practice, of course)

***

There are a few reasons why I feel strongly about not trusting first impression. It was because I have been subjected to one numerous times.

The most common first impression about me was “sombong” or “unfriendly” or something along those lines. Which I think, is really unfair. Just because I was quiet and slow to warm up to strangers, doesn’t mean I am arrogant. It takes time for me to be comfortable to open up to people, and I generally become close to people as I interact with them through work-related necessity rather than socially. I am generally not good at friendly banter… but I can do it when I have to, in order to be polite and to reciprocate your own friendliness. If you initiate the contact, I will mirror your attitude accordingly. So, how is that ‘sombong’? Serius, aku tak faham!

The next common first impression about me is shyness, or “diam”. This one… memang semua yang kenal aku akan gelak terbahak-bahak! Because I am not shy… AT ALL! I am an introvert… but there are 4 types of introverts; social, thinking, anxious, restrained.

The anxious ones are the shy ones!

I am the thinking one! Give me an interesting topic that I have thought of to talk about… I will have no problem airing my opinion. In fact, I can sound quite earnest and enthusiastic about it until I will get accused of being too emotionally involved. Since people have seen me being quiet most of the time, they think that when I am speaking so ‘bersemangat’, so enthusiastically… that MUST mean in this particular matter, I am losing my objectivity due to some sort of emotional involvement. But that is not true. I rarely get emotionally involved. When I am interested in something, I have always talked earnestly. Hit upon something that pique my interest, oh boy, I can really talk your ears off, making me seem totally different from my usual reserved self! (And this is when people would think I am too affected by something…when they see how I deviate from my taciturn quietness. When actually, I am not affected in any way, shape or form…. I am just interested in getting my point across because this is important!) When there is nothing interesting to talk about, no points of interest in any particular case, just the same old mundane thing….I will be quiet again especially when I am in a new environment. That’s just how I am. (And then I get accused of being sombong. Damn! Haha)

***

There was one time when I was late on the first day of one of my numerous postings. In my own defense, I wasn’t late through any fault of mine. The formal black-and-white letter that I had received had stated clearly that upon arriving to the place of posting, I should report to the Unit Sumber Manusia first. I actually arrived early at 7.20 and had been waiting at the Unit Sumber Manusia for what felt like ages before I was finally informed that I was supposed to be meeting my boss at another place, instead. So, it would be quite easy for people who didn’t know me at that time to have a first impression that I was not a punctual person. My boss had even insinuated that he was a ‘punctual person’ and I should try to be on time in the future, to which I had just replied “Sorry, but the letter I received had told me that I was supposed to report to the Unit Sumber Manusia first and that was where I’d been for the past one hour,”

If he had formed any first impression of my being late, would it be a correct impression, you think? When in actuality, I am very OCPD about time. I am quite anal about it! Hahah. I treat everybody’s time as equally precious, regardless of whether I am dealing with my superiors or my juniors. Whenever I am on-call with my HOs, if I told them to meet me at any particular ward to review a case at this particular time, I would whatsapp them 10 minutes before the designated time if I knew beforehand that I might not be able to make it on time. I feel anxious when I know people are waiting for me. I apologize sincerely whenever I am late even to my subordinates…. but I was not gonna feel so sorry if I was late through no fault of mine. In fact in the particular case of my being late in my posting, I was the aggrieved party here! I was misled by the letter that was given to me, so whose fault was that? I was even more upset than my boss because I am OCPD about time! (My whole family is OCPD about time, thanks to my father’s military-like training).

I respect everybody’s time…. my superiors’ time are not any more precious than my juniors’ time or my patients’ time. And I expect my time to be given equal regard, as it should.

So, can you see how misleading first impression can be? So, what is the basis of us putting so much stock on first impression?

In fact, why bother having a first impression, anyway?

But if you are gonna have one, you should have the right attitude and the right philosophy about it. For example, my philosophy of first impression is “I have this idea about you straight away based on my first impression of you… but I will reserve my judgment about you until I get to know you better. But if we are never again to have any future encounters, then I would not even remember my first impression of you because it doesn’t matter anymore. But if we are to become close in the future, it would not be BECAUSE OF or DESPITE OF my first impression….it would be because I have thoroughly assessed your character and have decided I like you, whatever my first impression of you had been. In BOTH cases, either I meet you again and we become close or not meet you again for the rest of my life, my first impression does not carry much weight at all. See?”

And to the ladies, please be highly suspicious of any man who says that they fall in love with you at the first sight. Instead of being flattered, think about what it means to have someone falling in love with you because of how you look! That is casanova alert! Aren’t you scared?Think about the cheapness of such a sentiment… to be loved so easily with just one look?? In the future, God knows with which beauty queen he would find himself in love with at the first sight AGAIN! Haha.

Love-At-First-Sight-Is-Often-Cured-rfg210desi14
Yup! In fact, don’t just take a second look…but take multiple looks first, ok! LOL.

***

Let me end my post with the saying of Saidina Umar Al-Khattab again. (You guys know that I think of Saidina Umar as my superhero) 😀  Read it, understand it and internalize it. Think about the day of the ultimate judgment. Perhaps, it will humble you.

Until next time, my dear readers.

umar judgment

Section 509 Penal Code

I believe that human beings being different from one another is a blessing bestowed by the Almighty to all of us that are wandering the face of this glorious earth. Allah said so himself.

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female,
And made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other
(Not that ye despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight
of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well-acquainted (with all things).”

(Quran – 49:13)

I have been told some time ago “Afiza, not everyone is like you. Some people care about other things and those things are just as important to them. Those things that are important to them influence their feelings and their actions too. Just like what you care about influence your feelings and your thinking and your actions. If things that we care about don’t influence our actions, well, we never really care about it in the first place, isn’t it? But people are different. Embrace the diversity.”

Well, I actually have embraced the diversity for a long time. But I manage the diversity by putting people into categories of whether they can fit in my table or they should sit in other tables. Whether they can be close friends or casual friends or just acquaintances.  

I actually think that it is a good thing that people are different. That’s how we learn from each other and that’s how we grow… when we come to understand that other people’s way of doing things are much better than ours in this particular context, (but not necessarily better in another context) we can adopt and adapt or fit and match our methods accordingly. It gave us certain nuance and flare that wisdom is so characterised by. 

So far, I have had fun finding out  that sometimes I could be wrong. (ok, it wasn’t fun, but it was educational… and education is kind of fun. So yeah, it can be fun in a convoluted roundabout way, if you know what I mean. haha)

But some things are objective. Some things are factual. Some things are not subject to your opinion or your preferences. Some  things are carved in stones because they are universal ethics that surpass any consideration of individual culture and local customs. And most importantly, some things have legal consequences. (ALTHOUGH, some things that are legal are not always the most fair or just, anyway. People in the parliament who MAKE the law are not infallible individuals. Sometimes, they overlook certain things. Sometimes, they have their own agendas and interest too. So bear in mind, that laws can have weaknesses and loopholes. And when the laws contradict universal principles of justice or ethics, they are BAD laws)

One particular issue that came up up in the (social) media had really pushed my brain into overdrive. Especially after I have read so many comments about it in our private doctors’ forum on Facebook. Nothing so polarize the medical fraternity more than the issue of the treatment of house officers, don’t you think? 

HO

I have talked about the issue of housemen in so many of my postings. But I never get tired of discussing it. It is like my pet issue, I think. In the same manner that I never get tired of talking about the rights of Muslim women, the rights of mentally-ill patients, the importance of practicing the Islamic religion fairly and correctly (rather than culturally and convolutedly), the quality of Malaysian education system or the importance of reading fiction and improving your language…haha. Those are my favourite topics. If you talk to me about those things… about books, psychiatry, women’s rights, education, bullying of house officers, the kind of weird rulings given by misguided so-called ustaz (giving people a bad impression that our religion doesn’t make sense when actually the religion should not be practiced in the manner they have jumud-ly described)…. I can talk about those issues all day long. (If ever I become a member of parliament, those will definitely be the issues I want to champion.)

Screenshot 2018-07-12 21.48.38
And many MOs/specialists keep on bashing about housemen as manja when they commented about this article. They thought it was shameful that HOs couldn’t fight for themselves and need to run to mummy and daddy to solve their issues or fight for them.  I wonder, what made them think that the HOs themselves had approved of the parents’ action of writing these things in the newspaper? Maybe the HOs do not even know that their parents were writing stuff in the newspaper on their behalf, right?

 

Everyone knows my stand on houseman issues. I have written about it ever since I myself was a house officer. And I have been consistent in my stand about them.

While I do think that HOs should stand up for themselves and fight their own battles without relying on their parents (because we are all adults here) while at the same time having excellent work ethics (do your work, no MIAs, continue to improve), I DO NOT and NEVER will I condone bullying, public humiliation, histrionic file-flying tantrums or any form of vulgar verbal abuse in the name of ‘tough training’. Never! 

Those are childish behaviours and reflect poor anger management and pathetic emotional regulation. Say what you want to say to your HOs firmly, give warning letters, terminate the HOs, go through the channel…. but mind your manners in front of your staff and your patients.

“Even in a declaration of war, one observes the rule of politeness.”

And….

“Manners maketh man”  😉

I admit that I have disagreed and crossed heated words with many people within my own department or inter-departmentally… but only when I feel they have crossed my sense of rightness and fair treatment (towards my patients, my colleagues or my department). I hate it when people make unfair or stupid decision and force me to abide by that decision simply because of their rank or position.  But even then, I have NEVER shouted or sprouted profanities. People generally know Afiza is upset, but Afiza has enough self-control and enough vocabulary to make her displeasure known without using vulgar profanities that reflects poor breeding. 

When I talk about politeness, I don’t mean you have to pretend you are not upset when you are. But there is no need to shout psychotically, and there is no call to broadcast to the whole ward of your displeasure in a histrionic attention-seeking high tone, with patients as witnesses to your childish public tantrums. Please…. pull yourself together! Say your piece assertively and move on. 

It is easy, isn’t it… to display your displeasure to a subordinate who you think is dumb! But how many people have dared to shout at their bosses who they also think as dumb? If you are upset at your bosses and you NEVER shout at them, how can you freely shout at your subordinates when you are upset with them? That’s preferential treatment based on rank, isn’t it? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? Or perhaps, more accurately, that is preferential treatment resulting from your own inner cowardice. Shame on you! At least, strive to treat people equally based on the merits that they deserve. If you treat your bosses nicely even when they are being dumb, then you should do the same to the subordinates as well. If you are the short-tempered type who cannot hold your temper with your subordinates, then I dare you to equally be short-tempered with your bosses. So that even as I cannot approve how you treat your subordinates, but at least, I am more likely to respect the CONSISTENCY of your conduct. Otherwise, I will go away thinking what a pretentious unprincipled cowards you are!  

I tend to treat my subordinates in a similar manner I treat my bosses… sometimes, even better. With my subordinates, I feel like I owe them a duty of care and a duty of protection. I am in friendlier terms with them than I could ever be with my bosses. I am in friendlier terms with my nurses and my HOs and my fellow MOs than with my bosses. My HOs are helping me with MY work… by rights, I am in-charge of my patients. Not them. They are only helping me while they are learning and training.

Similarly, that’s how specialists should think of MOs too. The specialists are the attending physicians. All the patients in the ward and the Klinik Pakar are the patients of the specialists… the MOs and the HOs are helping them. But the specialists are in-charge! That’s what attending physician means! The specialist MUST know in and out about the patient. 

Of course we all want competent helpers. MOs want competent HOs. And specialists want competent MOs. But at the end of the day, the patients in the ward belong to the specialists. FACTS! So, specialists should not pull a long face or make your subordinates feel like they have bothered you when they wanted to consult cases with you! They are YOUR cases! 

“An attending physician typically supervises fellows, residents, medical students and other practitioners. Attending physicians have final responsibility, legally and otherwise, for patient care, even when many of the minute-to-minute decisions are being made by house officers/residents.”

Get it? 

The moment you become a specialist, all the MOs/HOs under you are automatically your responsibility and patients seen by them are YOUR patients.

Frankly speaking, I would rather be the kind of specialist who is very approachable so that they won’t be afraid to let me know every single detail of my patient… easier for me to do some damage control should anything go wrong. If you are unapproachable, your subordinates might hide things from you or do not feel like some things are important enough to bother you with (because you always make them feel like they have bothered you whenever they approach you)  and by the time the shit hits the fan, it’s too late, ok! Your reputation goes down the drain. Scary isn’t it? 

So, how do you train your helpers? How do you help them to help you?! Teach them la! And teach them humanely. Because at the end of the day, they are helping you. Help to look after your patients for you. They help you… and this is how you treat them? By bullying them? And cursing at them? 

Teach them how to best serve you and adapt to your style of management. And you are not going to be able to do that with your childish (bordering on criminal) behaviour.  

***

Another doctor in our doctor’s forum had pointed out that insulting someone’s modesty is also a criminal act! He highlighted Section 509 of the Penal Code to educate doctors in the forum who were bashing “housemen these days”. In him, I find some hope in the future of our medical culture.

Shall we see what Section 509 of the Penal Code said, hmmm?  

Section 509: Word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a person

Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any person, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such person, or intrudes upon the privacy of such person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with fine or with both.

It is not even necessary to talk about legal sections on assault (Section 351 of the Penal Code deals with assault).  Because insulting someone’s modesty is already a criminal act!

Do you want to be a criminal MO or a criminal specialist? Hahah. Just because you want to “tunjuk lagak” you might end up having your practicing license revoked when you end up becoming a criminal. So, be warned! 

This is the law! No one can argue with what the law has clearly stated! (You see, I am doing forensic psychiatry now… So I am at the ‘look at the law’ phase of training. Haha)

***

So my take home message to housemen and all doctors: Do not ever tolerate abuse by anyone in the medical fraternity. Of course people cannot always go along with each other because, yes… we have different personalities with different drive, different goals, different (conflict of) interests…. BUT!  be mindful of the Section 509 of the Penal Code.

After all said and done, some  things are objective and not subject to your own biased opinion. When it comes to the law, we don’t give a fig about what happened “during your time” or whether “You came from a tough generation who became oh-so-great via gangster-like training“ or whether “The HOs who lodged a report against you was weak and manja” . The law doesn’t care about those irrelevant non-issues! When you insult someone’s modesty with a word or a gesture… doesn’t matter whether he is manja or otherwise, competent or otherwise, responsible or otherwise….you have committed a crime under the Section 509 Penal Code. (Because you could have dealt with incompetent HOs by giving them warning letters and terminate them through the right channel. There was NO NEED to insult or threaten them. So, when you did that, you have become a criminal! Got it?) If the HO decided to sue your ass…. you are doomed!

Wouldn’t it be easier for you to simply remain polite, give the HO a warning letter and then proceed to terminate the HO…all done in a pleasant and civilised manner through the channel? Why expend all that energy scolding and harassing people only to get sued in the end, risking your career and your livelihood in the process? 

Think about it. 

My GE 14 Saga With Invoke (Illustrated By My Facebook Status)

Screenshot 2018-05-24 06.14.10

“Kak Ngah, careful what you write on facebook. Kak Ngah tu penjawat awam.” My mom admonished me one day when I went back to my parents’ house for a visit.

“Kenapa pula, mak? Kerajaan dah bubar. La ni mana ada kerajaan. Time ni lah nak berkempen, nak cakap apa pun.” As usual, I was being my obstinate self.

So, my mother left me to my own devices.

 

Screenshot 2018-05-24 06.15.54

The truth is, I use social media to advocate for what I believe in… not really to connect with friends or acquaintances. With real friends, I would just call, or whatsapp or simply meet them face-to-face.

I use facebook to read interesting articles shared by friends, to follow pages of political parties,  NGOs or associations, to follow the news by BBC/Al-Jazeera/CNN… well basically, just to be in the know. And just to update my store of general knowledge. I think Facebook revolutionized the rate of news acquisition and the variety of general knowledge we can be au courant in. That’s why I usually approve most of my friend requests by Facebook even when I don’t really know the person requesting to follow me. These people will share their own news and articles of their liking, and therefore I get to read and learn something new other than my own existing interest. At the same time, the more people reading my Facebook status, the more people I get to reach to share ideas and beliefs with. Facebook is great for social advocacy, if you care about that sort of thing. (But I make sure my instagram followers are real friends that I have actually met and like. haha. I post a lot of silly pictures on instagram, so I am pretty particular about who I am friends with on instagram. My silliness  are reserved for certain people only.)

In the days leading to the historical GE 14, I was very, very active on Facebook. I shared article upon article from many sources that I came across. All those articles had one important thing in common; they all condemned the BN government. My parents were getting pretty worried about how transparent I have made of my opinion about the government.

But to me, if not now, when?

Are we supposed to keep silent when something clearly evil and unjust are happening around us just because we are too selfish to jeopardize our position? Even at the stake of the nation?

So how are we different from the people around Najib whom we labeled as “spineless, corrupted and brainless” in their blind support of Najib. People were always wondering “Kenapalah orang-orang sekeliling Najib ni tak tegur dia? Kenapa diorang tak cuba perbetulkan apa yang salah? Don’t they have the balls to fight for the rakyat?”

Wow! Pandai kita nak suruh orang lawan Perdana Menteri! *clap clap* Well, ask yourself why you couldn’t even speak up for something right even in your own small department! If we ourselves are a ‘yes-boss’ man, then we have no rights to criticize the ministers around Najib! Kita yang lebih bacul! Pengecut di medan kampung! I have no respect for any type of cowardice. These sort of people will never earn my respect or admiration. They hide their weakness and cowardice behind the mask of diplomacy… when the truth is, they are cowards… fighting is just too hard for them… so they just go with the flow. Selfishly, ruthlessly uncaring of the subordinate’s or the rakyat’s plight. Shameless! Shameless! Shameless!

Screenshot 2018-05-24 06.09.57
My facebook status, sharing Tun M’s open letter to all UMNO members! One really powerful letter! I am sure ramai ahli UMNO sendiri undi PH!

List of Oppression committed by Najib (and the list is NOT exhaustive)

-Dropping Abdul Ghani as AG and replacing him with Apandi

-Removal of two MACC directors for investigating 1MDB (Datuk Bahri Mohd Zin and Datuk Rohaizad Yaakob)

-Removal of Bank Negara Governor (Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar)

-Sacking of Muhyiddin Yassin and Shafie Apdal

-Removing of Mukhriz as Kedah MB

-Unfair election tactics in which the Election Committee was basically under Najib’s thumb-

– gerrymandering

-election day set on a weekday 

-unfair anti fake-news law

-Registrar of Society refusing to recognise Pakatan Harapan 

-the banning of Tun M’s face in campaign posters

-the rule of 10 days notice to campaign in other constituencies.

All these resulted in an unlevelled playing field between BN and PH in the GE 14. These are Najib’s obvious attempt to steal an election. 

Screenshot 2018-05-24 06.10.27

 

I was getting heartily sick of the oppressive cruelty of BN, to the point that I have made some mental plans to migrate to Brunei or Singapore or the UK when I have finished my final exam. I remember thinking “Thank God, I took the MRCPSYCH pathway, so that my qualification is recognized everywhere in the world. I can just pack up and get out!” And I was not the only one who had made plans. Some of my Chinese friends wanted to migrate to Australia… and I didn’t blame them. They have kids whose future are their primary concern, enough said.

Screenshot 2018-05-24 06.18.05

 

A few days after the dissolution of the parliament, I saw the status in the INVOKE Facebook page about how they needed 20,000 volunteers for the election. And they only had 4000 so far. That piece of news came across as very alarming to me. That was 16,000 volunteers short of what they actually needed!

Screenshot 2018-05-24 06.16.14
I started calling for other people to join INVOKE when I found out that they only had 4000 volunteers at that time.

I wanted Najib and BN to lose… but how could I expect PH to win when they were the underdog fighting against the bully in an unlevelled playing field that seemed to  favour the bully?

PH did not have as much funds as BN to help them campaign and win the election. They didn’t have much funds to entice people to act as their polling agent and counting agent. All they had were their ideals and their integrity and their sincere desire to rebuild the nation.

Guys, I am not the sort of person who like to do any sort of work that involves having to meet and socialize with complete strangers. I don’t enjoy being placed in a situation of discomfort involving getting to know people in order to have to work with them.But it spoke volume of how much I loathed and despised Najib and the BN government that I could even overcome my dislike of meeting strangers and just registered my name online as an INVOKE volunteer. (It spoke volume of how much Mahathir and the opposition hate Najib when they could collaborate to topple him! I NEVER thought I would see Mahathir and Anwar team up again in my lifetime!)

I am the sort of person who love spending my free time reading and writing and surfing the internet for ideas and inspiration to write…that I have never done one single locum in my entire life! All my free time is for me and my hobbies and my family….I make sure my salary is enough for my lifestyle without any need to supplement my income in other ways. And now that I am furthering my study, my free time is even more precious because I get so little time to read now.

If the situation was not so dire, I would never willingly volunteer at INVOKE. I would just inconspicuously watch the progress of the election campaign while being an ardent supporter in the social media rather than actually having to be personally involved or having to come down to the Pusat Operasi Pilihanraya, or having to meet complete strangers and making small talk. In my mind…. doing all these is agony! 

But the situation was dire. It was critical. They needed volunteers and I could not ignore the Invoke’s call anymore. (I had ignored some of the INVOKE facebook status calling for volunteers in the past. I tried to silence my conscience by thinking that other people would step up soon and there was no need for me to volunteer.)

As I have mentioned before… I believe in effort. I really do. I believe God will help you if you are sincere and your effort is enough. The fact that you put in some effort is already a mark of sincerity. If you are just being wishful of a government change without really doing anything…. how really sincere is your wish for a government change?

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I took the opportunity to attend a MEGA PACA course when it was held on the 13th of April at Dewan Lip Seang Khor in Sungai Petani, which was quite convenient for me as I live in Alor Setar. I didn’t know anyone there. I went there and had to make conversation with a bunch of older ladies because I sat with them at the same table. But despite all the social discomfort, I learned a lot at this course. It was packed with knowledge regarding the election process, the important roles played by PACA as the last defense against a rigged election process, what we have to do if there were some hanky panky (blackouts, anyone? haha). And I noticed how utterly prepared the PH people were this time around. For example, we were provided with the number of lawyers near our area who we could contact should we need them to come to us for any legal issues that might have taken place in each saluran.

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I guess, many people were like me. We were all so alarmed by the small number of volunteers… so we volunteered ramai-ramai and within a week, the number of volunteers increased from 4000 to 17,594 PACAs!

 

Within a few days after registering online to be an INVOKE volunteer, I was added into INVOKE Kedah Whatsapp group. And later, I was added into Parlimen Pokok Sena Whatsapp group,… and then later I was added in DUN Bukit Pinang Whatsapp Group… and then I was added in Hutan Kampung Whatsapp Group (because that was the polling centre where I would be doing my PACA duty).  Yupp… so many whatsapp groups. My whatsapp traffic had never been so busy before the days leading to the GE14. These whatsapp groups contained political hot news and latest information, but sometimes also rumours and hearsay. I was inundated with political datas! But it was up to my judgment how much I wanted to believe them.

When I first went to Pusat Operasi Pilihanraya DUN Bukit Pinang, I met Kak N (the DUN candidate’s agent) who proceeded to brief me regarding my PACA duties and the area I would be assigned to. We went straight into business without much unnecessary small talk (Thank God). I was asked to sign Borang Sumpah Kerahsiaan (Borang A) that all polling agents must sign.  Then, I was immediately made comfortable when we talked politics and our common aspirations for Malaysia and our dissatisfaction towards PAS (the PAS topic will be in my next post, insyaAllah)

I tried to avoid telling the people in the pusat operasi about my job as a doctor. I really didn’t think it was that relevant to what I was volunteering to do. But they kept on asking where I was working, and then which department… and what exactly did I do in that department… they were relentless in pursuing all my vague answers. They were so surprised to have a doctor volunteering as PACA. All these while they had people of a lower socioeconomic status volunteering to do these sort of work… and mostly for the allowance money (which was not even that much. Only RM 50).

It was like PKSN (program khidmat sosial negara) all over again. I was the only one from MRSM school who volunteered to attend PKSN… and had to make new friends with people of different background from me. Intelligent students don’t seem to care much about volunteering… they are less patriotic… they care only about studies and the number of As they could obtain. After SPM, they will go travel overseas, and get a driving license… they care about themselves and things they can do to advance themselves. If their names come up for PLKN training, they rush to see a doctor to get the doctor’s confirmation of how unfit they are to be a PLKN trainee.  I wonder sometimes, do these intelligent people have any higher ideals in their lives beyond their own day-to-day life? Don’t you care about the country? 

I guess, doctors and professionals are just too busy to be volunteering. But wait a minute… my Chinese friend who is also a doctor had volunteered as PACA too (but at a different DUN than mine). Most of my Chinese friends do a lot of volunteer works for Tzu Chi. My doctor friends from Australia do a lot volunteer works too. Volunteerism is like a way of life. Intelligent people in other places and within other races will volunteer because they have ideals they want to champion!

It is not so among Malay professionals, though. What we like to do is simply to become keyboard warriors and just ineffectively vent out our frustrations with each other (but not in front of the boss. Hahaha! See?) Anyone who is too vocal or too blunt is considered an anathema. This is something in the Malay culture that is so rotten that it stinks so bad. The Malay attitude of  “berdiplomasi, hormat tak kena tempat,” is the very reason BN could get away with daylight robberies and blatant oppression all these years. They KNEW the Malays’ anger  “tak ke mana”. Maybe we had deserved the sort of government we had had all these while.

The day before the election, I came down to Pusat Operasi again to take my SPRM name tags as a counting agent and a polling agent. I realized that our situation was so dishearteningly sad. I was quite worried, to be honest, when I compared the PH’s resources to that of BN and even PAS. Other parties had many agents, so they could do a duty roster consisting of 3-4 shifts, allowing their polling agents to rotate duties frequently. And they had different people to be the polling agents and the counting agents. Whereas for us, our duty as a polling agent was continuous with our duty as the counting agent too. We only had two shifts as polling agents from 7.30 am until 5 pm. From 7.30 until 12.30, the first polling agent would be on duty (while the second polling agent went to vote). From 12.30 to 5.00 pm, the second polling agent would take over from the first polling agent (to allow the first polling agent the opportunity to cast his own vote)  Because I was the second polling agent, I had to negotiate with my first polling agent to allow me to pray my Zohor prayer first before I took over from him. And after 5 pm, the first polling agent will return and join the second polling agent at the saluran, but this time, both of the polling agents would switch their ‘polling agents tags’ to ‘counting agents tags’. 

See? That’s why I was given two tags: polling agent and counting agent! We were so short of staff. We could only watch as other PACAs from other parties came and went and rotated multiple times for toilet breaks, lunch time and even ‘rokok time’. 

 

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And while other parties sent two polling agents each shift (one for the DUN candidate and one for the Parliamentary candidate), we could only send one agent. So I was the polling agent for both DUN and Parliament candidates. Double the work…. double Borang 13 to be filled, double Borang 14 to be filled. And it was also my first time doing all these! I was such a novice and was simply learning everything on the go. Thank God the PACAs from PAS were quite helpful. PH agents and PAS agents formed a kind of team, helping each other… we didn’t talk to  the BN agents as much. Haha. 

The polling and counting process in my saluran was quite smooth-sailing. Our presiding officer (ketua tempat mengundi/KTM) was quite cooperative and very reasonable. After all the paperwork was done, and all the numbers tallied nicely, my Borang 14 which contained the formal result for each saluran was signed without any hassle. I snapped the picture of Borang 14 and sent it through the Whatsapp Group. And then all the PACAs and SPRM officers said our goodbyes and our apologies for any offences caused.  I went out of the polling center at 8.00 pm and managed to submit my Borang 14 at the Pusat Operasi around 10 minutes past 8.00. People in the Pusat Operasi asked me to join them hanging around but I politely excused myself. My duty was done and I needed to withdraw to my own familiar environment.

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My facebook status after I have submitted my Borang 14 to the Pusat Operasi, which meant that my PACA duty was done and dusted. Alhamdulillah.

I rushed to my parents’ house for Maghrib prayer and Isha prayer and then I came down to be with the whole family in the living room to watch Astro Awani on TV (even though we ended up following the results through the internet because the election results on TV was so slow). I have never been THIS excited in following the election results before. This time, I was directly involved in the process, directly involved in the making of history.

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This was my facebook status while awaiting the results of the election. I was alarmed when I heard that in some places in Sabah, KTM had refused to sign the Borang 14.  My friends in my various Whatsapp  asked me whether everything was ok at my saluran. I reassured them that everything was smooth and fine at my saluran. And they made their usual joke about me “Berani KTM nak buat pasal kat tempat Afiza jaga”. Hahha. But actually, the more experienced PAS PACA was much more vigilant than I was. I only followed what they did and supported all their objections. LOL.

I only slept at 4.00 a.m when I was reasonably sure that PH had won. I could never sleep before knowing for sure who was the winning party. The whole family was jubilant! We had dreamed of this… but we didn’t dare to dream hard because it felt like a battle between David and Goliath! In that historical battle, David had won, of course. But how sure were we that PH could replicate David’s epic win against all odds? It felt too far-fetched…too good to be true… too much of a fairy tale. We toiled and persevered to  the end, of course… but we didn’t dare to hope too much, lest we would be too disappointed.

But miracualously, Alhamdulillah, PH had won against all odds too! What do you know, huh? See? Dreams do come true, sometimes. 

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Haha! Nampak tak merah menyala status Mak Ngah! Merah itu kemarahan rakyat terhadap kleptokrat! Dan merah itu juga semangat juang dan semangat kemenangan rakyat!

I felt like all my effort and my exhaustion and my emotional investment in the whole thing had paid off. I played a very small role in this election, I only did what I could… but it accumulated into a big collective effort. Our role as PACAs and as responsible Malaysian voters paid off! We had grasped in our hands a resounding success!

Thank You, Allah, for always reminding me repeatedly that efforts are required for us to receive YOUR help… even when it felt like it was against all odds. YOU had allowed me to experience the same Sunnahtullah again and again. That I should always “Tie my camel, then trust in Allah.” Don’t bother about the odds. Just do your part!

Allah said that He is what His slave expects Him to be.

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Allah the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’”

So expect that Allah will grant you your dreams when you do your part! And you yourself will channel your effort according to your expectations. Expectation is a powerful thing! We work in accordance to our own expectation and ideals about ourselves and others. And if we set a low standard in how we should behave, then that’s it! We won’t volunteer, we won’t fight, we won’t lift a finger, we won’t speak up… we will just be cowards!

I am sure the GE14 saga will be made into a political case study in political science courses around the world. Our election was closely followed by International media the world over. How a small nation can topple a kleptocratic government without shedding even one drop of blood! That’s gloriously inspirational! That’s something Malaysians should be proud of!

The peaceful Malaysian Spring bloomed hopeful flowers rather than burned building and damaged bridges! May 13 tragedy has been overshadowed by May 9 victory. People won’t talk about May 13 without also talking about May 9 to the future generation next time. This is the power of the rakyats who came together for their love of Malaysia, putting their racial consideration aside! Look how far we could achieve when we fight hard enough.

For now, I leave you guys with more pictures of the election day and some of my FB status throughout the election day.  Here they are!

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I put up this status the day after the election day! I was so happy that PH won! Alhamdulillah.

Everyone played a small part… even the postal voters did what they could in their own limited capacity! But collectively, it made up into a gigantic effort that had succeeded in toppling the kleptocrats! This is our glorious Malaysian history!

And yes… oh yes… what a time to be alive!

 

 

Work Hard, Play Harder, Contribute Always

WORK HARD

The month of April (till early May) has been a helluva hectic time for yours truly.

I have been swamped… right, left and centre. At the end of most days, I was left exhausted. 

When my colleague Dr. T said that she needed me-time in one of our binge-whining session, I was quick to jump in and said the same. “Yeah, I need me time, too.”

She looked at me incredulously, “Kau single, punya banyak me-time lepas habis kerja”

No one has any idea.

My idea of me-time is me on the bed… with a good book… for two straight days, at least. A really good book that left me staring at the wall, stunned… by the beauty of its words. By the crazy plot twist! By the dialogues! 

When I am at home, I may be by myself… but not the whole of that alone hours are me-time.

Studying at home is NOT me-time…. that is studying time, all right? Going shopping for groceries or clothes or shoes is NOT me time… that is necessary shopping time (I don’t enjoy it much). Doing house chores at home is NOT me-time… that is a necessary household maintenance time! Hiking is NOT me-time… that is exercise time which is necessary for physical health and fitness (though I enjoy it, of course). Listening to political lectures or religious sermons through Facebook and Youtube is NOT me-time… that is increasing-general-knowledge time (though it does feed my need for intellectual stimulation and I like it too). Going out with friends to catch up and gossip is NOT me-time… that is socialising time (and it is done so that my friends won’t think I didn’t care about them or have forgotten them. Because I do remember them in my heart… of course.)

Seriously! I need a lot of alone time….to do all those things… and a portion of those times MUST be spent reading a good book in order for me to feel like I have enough me-time. In order to feel refreshed and rejuvenated! 

Adulthood is killing me slowly (okay, I have to stop being a drama queen. Hahha. I like having my own money as an adult. LOL. But seriously, what was I thinking when I used to want to grow up as fast as possible when I was a child?)

Whenever I feel extra tired, I would remind myself of what Imam Ahmad Hanbal had said to her son:

When do we rest

So, yeah…. life is a never ending struggle. Don’t expect to rest here in this world. Just work hard. 

That was what I told myself when I had to organise Autism Awareness Day on the 21st of April 2018. It took 2 months of careful planning, various meetings, numerous phone calls and a few unrestful nights to get it done but Alhamdulillah, after all the hard work, it was done and dusted. 

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The picture of the staff and committees that had worked so hard to organize Autism Awareness Day on the 21st of April 2018

PLAY HARDER

It was very nice and sweet of my colleagues to say that “We should all go to Pulau Songsong to blow off the steam and relieve some stress.” As though they were planning this trip for the sole purpose of making me feel refreshed after the past hectic months.

The truth is – and I know it – they wanted to go to Pulau Songsong… because they WANTED to go to Pulau Songsong. Whether or not it was specifically for my stress relief was neither here nor there. The fact is, they needed a driver to drive them there, anyway. And as I have always been the designated driver for the girls, of course they wanted me to come along. Hahah. Nice of them to pretend that it was all for my stress-relief, though! LOL. 

But yeah, I was glad they pushed me into doing it. Just like in any social activities, I ended up enjoying it more than I initially thought I would. And I need these type of friends to push me into it… otherwise I will be forever buried inside my house with books. 

The truth is, I relieve stress by solving the cause of the stress. If it is exam that’s causing me stress, I deal with the exam and get it over with. If organising an event is the source of stress, then again my stress can only be gone once the event is done. And all I need afterwards to de-stress is just to be alone, to enjoy my solitude and  dive into the fantastic world of my mystery and fantasy books. That’s all. 

But I am glad for people around me who didn’t give up on me when I was quite hesitant to go. If they didn’t push, I wouldn’t go. But they did, and I ended up really enjoying myself. 

That’s why an introvert person need an extrovert friend…. yin and yang and all that. The introvert is content with what she already has; already content with her own thoughts and the world inside her head. She doesn’t think she needs more. She doesn’t know that there are just as many fascinating things in the real world outside… until the people around her had pushed her to and she has no other choice but to realise  that the outside world is just as great. So that next time, when they plan another trip, she will be much more willing to go because she remembers her positive experience from the previous outing.

In fact, I really can’t wait for the next trip. 

Below are the pictures of the beauty of Pulau Songsong. It ALMOST felt like we were in the cheaper and primitive version of the Maldives. To those who don’t know the history of this enchanting island, Pulau Songsong was previously used by the Royal Australian Force as a missile testing ground in the 50s. The island has been closed off to the public for many years until circa 2008. Until now, the island does not have much in terms of amenities. No chalets (so camping out is the only option), very primitive toilets and a very simple and small surau. I hope the state government would do something in terms of development for this island. It was said that this island has one of the best coral systems compared to the rest of the nearby islands in the area. 

Below are some of the pictures of the enchanting Pulau Songsong. I highly recommend my dear readers to pay this island a visit. The cost of the entire trip was only RM50 per head (for the boat and for the food that we brought to be barbecued).  So much value for money, isn’t it? 

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Such a nice clear water…
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The rocks are really that colour. It casts a beautiful hue and glow to the surrounding water.
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This picture was taken on the other side of the island (the less crowded side)
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The turquoise colour of the sea is really calming, ain’t it?
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Haha our creative photographer had edited the picture of us posing in the water . It looked as though we had just finished fighting off monsters deep inside the water.

CONTRIBUTE ALWAYS

Another reason why my April month was so busy was because I had used up most of my free times to volunteer at Invoke for the recent election. And I was so happy and jubilant when Pakatan Harapan won stunningly and gloriously against the oppressive Barisan coalition led by the kleptocratic Najib and supported by his shameless cronies. 

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I have decided to write a specific post about my involvement with INVOKE (the brain child of PKR’s vice president, Rafizi Ramli). Perhaps, I will do that in the next post, Insya Allah.

But in short, I had volunteered at Invoke to be a PACA (polling agent and counting agent) for Pakatan Harapan around one month before the election. I had to attend a few courses and talks organised by INVOKE, Pakatan Harapan and Pusat Operasi Dun Bukit Pinang. I learned how to ensure a fair election, how to detect any hanky panky during the voting process, how to fill up specific forms while being a polling/counting agent (Borang Bantahan, Borang 13, Borang 14. Borang 10/ Akuan Identity, really so many borangs) and I was also given the phone number of lawyers that can be contacted if the presiding officer (Ketua Tempat Mengundi) refused to sign Borang 14 (the formal final result of the voting for each saluran). We also went through scenarios of what to do if certain circumstances arise (electricity/power blackout for example) and who we should contact to advise us on legal matters on the election day should any skirmish/argument take place. 

So the duration of April and early May was so exhausting, guys! Sometimes I was post-call, but I made myself attend the talks/ceramahs anyway at the pusat operasi. I believe that I am doing this for my beloved country.

I was raised by my parents to be really patriotic. We were hard-core UMNO supporters once upon a time. My father encouraged me to volunteer to go to PKSN (Program Khidmat Sosial Negara) while awaiting for my SPM results… in fact, I used to like going to BTN (but mainly for the outdoor activities haha). After medical school, I could have stayed in Australia like some of my other batchmates but my parents had reminded me of my duty as a Malaysian scholar to come back and serve the country. It was one of the hardest decision I had to make that I actually had to do istikharah for it because I was so torn apart (I rarely do istikharah in general because most of the time, I am pretty certain of my decision based on the facts and figures of the situation). I watched and enjoyed a lot of patriotic movies like Sarjan Hassan, Leftenan Adnan, Tanda Putera, and Ola Bola. My father would always say things like “Orang Melayu kena kerja kuat dan rajin, Tengok macam orang Cina! Siapa lagi kuat berusaha, dia yang akan berjaya.” My father would feel so proud when my school marks were better than the Chinese in my school or if I was the top scorer for any particular subject. In his mind, he was not being racist but he was being patriotic. He cares about the Malays and he has always been a part of some political party or some organizations that champion the Malay cause. 

Every general election is like a raya for our family. My maternal aunt’s house in Sungai Limau has been a bilik gerakan for BN since I was a child. It was still used as BN’s bilik gerakan for the recent GE14. But this time… WITHOUT the participation of my parents’ and myself. My aunt was so disappointed when my parents and all my siblings had, ehem, well..  ‘defected to  the other side’ (hahha. In her mind, it was the ‘evil’ side). Unlike the top UMNO members, my aunt was just an ordinary patriotic party member who thinks of UMNO as the Malays’ sole chance of surviving. In her mind, she is doing all these for her country too. She thinks she is supporting the same UMNO that she has been supporting since she herself was a small child. Nothing my parents said could ever shake her belief in UMNO. 

My parents are now a proud member of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. They had switched allegiance since all Najib’s scandals started coming out in the social media 3 years ago. Then they joined Parti Pribumi Bersatu after Tun M set it up around one year ago. Me? I am not sure if I will ever be able to overcome my hesitancy in joining ANY organization, unnecessarily. Organisation has rules. And with me, I tend to break any rule if I don’t agree with it. I don’t respect position, insensible rules or diplomacy or form without substance. I respect fairness and justice, ideas, intelligence and plain speaking. You can be my boss, but I can go against you if I think you are wrong. And because of this, I can never be a good member of any particular organization. And I probably never even want to. I love being free to form my own mind and if it happens to be against any organization… well, that is EXACTLY why I am not a member of any. 

I prefer to volunteer the way I did with INVOKE. In my mind, I was not volunteering to be a PACA because I was a member of any of the component party of Pakatan Harapan (because I wasn’t and I am still not. I probably won’t ever). I volunteered because I wanted to ensure a fair election that will bring Najib down! The destroyer of this country must be punished and justice must be served. I volunteered for my own personal principle even if it meant I had to sacrifice my study time or my reading time. 

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And when Pakatan Harapan Alhamdulillah won, I felt an immense joy that was bordering on euphoria. I felt glad for the opportunity to be directly involved in this historical election that had seen Najib and BN perished in the hands of ordinary citizens who love Malaysia. The parliamentary candidate I was assigned to be a PACA to (at Sek Men Hutan Kampung Saluran 2) was Dato’ Mahfuz Omar… and Alhamdulillah he won the parliamentary seat of Pokok Sena. 

After seeing our beloved Tun Mahathir being sworn in as the 7th Prime Minister at Istana Negara via the LIVE broadcast of RTM2, the whole family cheered. Welcome back Tun Mahathir! And of course, welcome back Mukhriz as the MB of Kedah!

For now, I am your fan… but remember, if you betray the rakyat’s trust I will not hesitate to change my allegiance again. And so do many Malaysians in our age group. They say that this is the Malaysians Tsunami…. but it is MOSTLY the tsunami of the younger Malaysians! Who would have thought that we could do it? Alhamdulillah!

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A proud Kedahan. That’s me.

And thanks Rafizi, for creating INVOKE as a platform for many patriotic Malaysians to volunteer and be part of this momentous occasion. The kleptocrats are down! Alhamdulillah! Alhamdulillah! Alhamdulillah! It’s time to rebuild the nation. 

In the mean time, now that the election is over with a resounding glory, I can finally rest. May the rest of the month of May be a bit more pleasant and peaceful. I suspect that until the election fever is over (personally, it takes me some weeks to get over my election fever; I always have the tendency to follow many political news for many months after the election day. And what I read and thus what I think, is what I tend to write), many of my future posts will be about this country or about politics in general. So, stay tuned, if you like that sort of posts (and I am sorry if you don’t. Please feel free not to read my posts. If you do like that sort of posts though, you might encounter ideas or opinions of mine that you don’t agree with. Please feel free to comment or better yet, create your own blog and spread your own beliefs and ideas. This is now a FREE country!)

I leave my dear readers with a reminder to “Work hard, play harder and contribute always”.

Until next time, insha Allah. 😉

Core Project

Professor Brian Little argued that people are more than just a bunch of traits. There may be many people out there who have the exact same personality traits as you (maybe all of you tested as INTP in your MBTI personality test) but there is something about you that makes you unique (from the rest of other INTPs), regardless.

In psychiatry, we have many trait theories and of course my personal favourite is the MBTI personality theory. I always tested as either INTP or INTJ. 

But we also have other personality theories/tests. The common and easy one we usually learn in our Part A Psychiatry exam is the OCEAN personality theory.

O stands for Openness to Experience (how open are you about exploring new interests – being creative/flexible/ curious and adventurous. Personally, I rate my openness to experience as moderate. I am not creative and I am not that flexible. Once I have perfected my point of view and my principles, I rarely change my mind. But I am very curious in nature and that’s why I read on many genres and on various issues. And I am quite adventurous especially when it comes to outdoor activities. I like to travel and learn about new cultures. So, I think I am pretty open in certain things.)

C stands for conscientiousness (how organized, how thorough, how much planning you put in your work. How hardworking you are. I also feel I am moderate in this. I must care ENOUGH in order to give a good effort. I care about my studies and my work, so I am organized when it comes to those sort of things. But I can give up easily when it comes to doing things that I am just not interested in.)

E stands for extraversion. (Extroverts are those who are recharged by having social interaction. The more they interact, the more energy they have. Whereas, introverts are those who are recharged by having some alone time. The more they interact, the lower their energy level becomes. Introverts do enjoy social interaction with people they know well, but even so, they NEED some time alone in order to recharge before they can come back to interact some more. I am very, very introverted. Outside office hours, I really just want to be by myself and do my thing.)

A stands for agreeableness (how kind, how ‘nice’, how affectionate you are. I am not that agreeable. I am not universally nice. I am only selectively nice. If you do something that I feel is very irresponsible or cross a certain principle, I won’t mince words in how I let you know that you are a slacker and you better buck up now and meet the standard! But I think I am nice to my friends and my family….. but still…if they do something that I think is unacceptable, I will let them know….eventually.)

N stands for neuroticism (how tense/moody/ anxious you are. I think I can be quite neurotic… but again, only about things I really care about. Like exams. Hahha. Or when I am planning for something important, I get a bit tense…. ehem, or a lot tense. When things go awry or opposite to what I want, I cannot even hide my displeasure and it would show on my face… or show through my words. I guess I am moderate to high in neuroticism).

But remember, Brian Little said that we are more than our traits. What makes us unique, he said, is what we have undertaken as a core project in our life.

Brian Little used himself as an example when he said that we are more complex than just our traits. He said, that he is an extreme introvert. But because he is a professor and his personal project is TO PROFESS, therefore he has to act in an extrovert manner when he is teaching his students, be more jovial and more animated, so that his students will be interested in what he has to profess.

In his TED talk ‘Who Are You, Really? The Puzzle of Personality’, he said,

“How about the idiosyncratic you? As Elizabeth or as George… you may BOTH share your extraversion or your neuroticism. But are there some distinctively Elizabethan features of your behaviour or Georgian of your behaviour…. that makes us understand you better than just a bunch of traits… that makes us… love you. Not just because you are a certain type of person….. So what is it that makes us different? It’s the DOINGS that we have in our life. The personal projects. You may have a personal project right now, but nobody may know it.”

He continued to say that the personal project can be anything. It might be your mom. You might be an agreeable person. But you act disagreeably in order to remove the administrative barrier that keep your mom from getting the kind of treatment she needs at the hospital, for example.

He termed this ‘out of character’ event as adopting a ‘free trait’.

 

Take myself as an example: I am an introvert. I am not universally friendly and very slow to warm up to strangers. But if I am suddenly being placed in the position of asking for a sponsorship in order to organize a non-profit event, won’t I have to adopt a ‘free trait’ (out of character traits) and act like an extrovert with people I have never met before just because I need their sponsorship? Yes, right? That’s what I have to do, isn’t it?

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I will have to smile when I don’t really feel like it, and act like I don’t mind when you are not on time or when you don’t deliver your sponsorship on the day you said you would. I would have to be so conscientious in following up on things I never really care before. Normally, I won’t ask people for their help and I won’t bother to follow up on whether or not they can help if they can’t immediately say yes to my request. Because usually, I can always find other ways to accomplish the same thing without having to ask for help multiple times. But because I have to run a state-level event, I will have to act like asking people for money and sponsorship, and keep on messaging them to find out their answers are something I don’t feel embarrassed about. Like it is something I don’t hate doing. Like I do things like this all the time and I am not stressed about it.

When you are running an event, you have to be patient in dealing with many people. Person A complains to you about Person B. Then Person B complains to you about Person A. Then Person C complains to you about Person A and Person B. Or your boss tells you to change something (multiple times!) in the Program Booklet, so you then have to go to the booklet designer and apologize to him for troubling him again but can he please, please, please do the changes again, you beg. Or you are stuck in a war between 2 committees; BOTH insist that the job does not belong to their committee. So, you resist the temptation to be your usual character and say “I will do it myself lah kalau dah susah sangat” (you resist saying that because you know you can’t do it yourself, this time) and be patient and listen to their problems, ‘pujuk-pujuk’ /cajoling them with soft words, in order to get things done.

So in the above example, I adopt a ‘free trait’ (that of extraversion and agreeableness) in order to advance a personal project. Because I care about my work (and unfortunately sometimes it involves organizing events), I have to adopt ‘out of character’ trait to advance a personal project that I care about.

And I am not the only one who does this. Everyone behaves outside their character because of their personal project. And Brian Little said, that’s what makes you unique… that’s what makes you MORE than just a bunch of traits that you share with many people. It’s the things we DO and the core projects that we embark on (that necessitate us to behave in a counter-dispositional manner) that make us different from one another.

That’s why at the end of the day, our traits are our traits (something we in our own self know about ourself if we are self-aware) BUT where it counts most (in reality, when things must get done), we are what we repeatedly do. Or rather, we BECOME what we repeatedly do, even as we know that it is against our biogenic trait.

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I guess, that is the basis of attending occupational therapy and training,right? Why train if we can never change?

 

However!!! He also said, even though adopting ‘out of character’ free traits may enhance well-being when we become successful at the project we pursue, it can also COMPROMISE well-being because it challenges your autonomic nervous system (The fight or flight or freeze reaction! With me…. I tend to fight than flight or freeze.)

Indeed! Behaving out of character is stressful. Pretending to enjoy excessive social interaction is stressful. Forcing yourself to be okay about asking for help, managing conflicts between people, dealing with people you cannot stand, dealing with sudden multiple changes because there are too many heads and different ideas to follow…. are stressful. Prolonged excessive environmental stimuli is stressful to an introvert.

See? There is an EMOTIONAL COST to adopting ‘free traits’ behaviour when it is done in a prolonged and excessive manner. Continuous ‘free-traited’ behaviour means dealing with chronic stress. In which case, I suggest you find a different core project that most of the time complement your real personality.

Choose your core project wisely. Make the cost worth it.

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