Happy New Year 2020: A New Year Rant!

Happy new year 2020 greeting card with fireworks
Wishing everyone a blessed year ahead.

Dear readers,

I hope it is not too late for me to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Truly, I have given up making any sort of New Year Resolutions because it has been made clear to me year after year that I truly do embody the true spirit of hangat-hangat tahi ayam. And therefore, I have given up on having yearly goals or resolutions.

I only have short-term agendas… daily agenda, weekly agenda, monthly agenda and so on and so forth.  And my resolution is to cross off the list of my agendas and just get things done within the time I have stipulated for myself.

And that is why I am particular about time. Because I have daily goals to achieve. Even if the goal is as simple as to finish my latest fiction, or to finish reading the latest journal article suggested by the Royal College or just to finish writing an article for my blog (Remember that I have a monthly agenda of one blog post per month. And included in that agenda is to finish at least 2-3 books per month so that I could write about them in my blog post in the section of Book Of The Month at the end of each blog post.)

So yearly resolution doesn’t do much good for me. Never have I ever lost the weight I wanted to lose at the beginning of the year LOL.  Instead I have my “let’s try to jog and sweat more today” days and my “I just want to eat Secret Recipe cakes and Baskin Robbins ice cream” days. These two types of days are of equal importance to me. Because… it’s about balance, guys… right?

Never have I ever been a good, obedient daughter for the whole year. But instead I have my good daughter “I am a blessing to my parents” days and my bad daughter “Poor my parents, I am giving them the worst kind of headache” days. LOL.

Never have I ever been a good, sociable friend who is always available for everyone all year round and will attend all kenduri invitations and get-together events. Instead I have my “let’s try to socialize more today” days and my “I really just want to be at home and read and do my own thing” days.

Never have I ever for the whole year been diplomatic and soft spoken always. But I have my “I can be patient about this for a little while and will try to respect your authority even though I think you are making a wrong decision” mood and my “I absolutely cannot tolerate this and will argue till kingdom come if you don’t withdraw your faulty decision no matter who you are in your position” mood. (In general, this involves people doing something unacceptable that I think violates my sense of justice, fair treatment and good conduct. I cannot be patient about that. But I have learned to pick and choose my battle these days. Because… priority, guys!)

So I find that daily renewal of good intention works better for me. Because I am human. I am not infallible. I forget my intention. I forget my purpose sometimes. And I am thankful that I am surrounded by people who can metaphorically whack my head when I am being a pain in the proverbial backside.

You see, I choose my friends carefully. I have inspiring friends all around me. I have friends who have such a similar view with me that she will fight side by side with me or support me if I choose to pick up a battle. I have friends who teach me to be patient and diplomatic when I am so upset I forget to hold my tongue. I have friends with whom I can talk for hours about anything heavy or light-hearted that we are insensible to the passing of the time. I have friends who are so strong that they can face trials in life multiple times and they can still get up from their falls, forge ahead and able to make it in the end. I have friends who enjoy adventurous stuff so that we can travel to earthquake-ridden places and do meaningful volunteer works when we feel like it. I have friends who share similar worldview with me that we will marvel for hours over a cup of coffee on why most people don’t think the way we do. LOL.

In short, I have inspiring friends whom I can learn from and I can emulate.

I do not place myself in a position of having friends with negative attitude and negative mindset. If I sense from the very beginning that you will weigh me down with all your “unprincipled, pemalas, kerja cincai, tak tepati masa, kaki bodek, negative about others all the time,” I will still treat you with distant politeness but you do not fit into my inner circle.

I truly hold on to this hadeeth below:

The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said:

“A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.”

(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Hadith 314)

As a doctor, our clinical practice is based on evidence-based guidelines. As a Muslim, our whole life has been guided by the Quran and the Hadeeth  though I am not perfect (FAR from perfect) in following all of them. But when it comes to choosing friends and my close companions, I do follow this hadeeth strictly. Because I believe that the impact of friends on you is significant. At the end of the day, you must have enough strength of character to walk away from bad friends because otherwise, they will affect you little by little and before you realize it, you have changed.

It is true that good people around you can influence your behaviours. I credit my much improved patience now to my calm, amiable, friendly friends that I met in Australia. If God had left me to my own devices, I think I would not be able to moderate my temperament and would still be that tiresome argumentative child who just wants to win and have the last word (even though one can argue that I still retain that tiresome traits until now LOL. But in my own defense, I really did believe that I was right when I was being argumentative. If you do not have the oratory skills to convince me, how would I know that I was wrong?) Their calm, logical, kind understanding in answering all my questions… I had never met someone like them before I went to Australia. I don’t think I have ever told them about how much they have impacted my worldview about life and about religion… maybe if they still read my blog, at least they will know.

There are still so much room for improvement in me… but really, this is a much better version of me. This is Afiza version 3.0 ha ha ha.

A review of 2019 & The Beginning of A Rant (LOL)

2019 had been full of ups and downs. But I managed to complete my MRCPsych exam in 2019. So that was something major in 2019 for me to be thankful for and to be jovial about. That was the goal I had successfully achieved last year, Alhamdulillah. #AchievementUnlocked #MoveOnToTheNextLevel

But what’s next?

 

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I received an offer from Athona recruitment centre in the UK to become a psychiatrist there around 2 weeks after passing my exam. At first, I ignored the email from the recruitment centre because I didn’t think I wanted to work in the UK. My whole family is in Malaysia and I wanted to remain in Malaysia. But later, when the social media was abuzz with the news that critical allowance for newly appointed doctors would be abolished, I found myself staring at the email from the recruitment centre again. I found myself evaluating the idea of moving to the UK and continue working there.

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Solidarity for junior doctors!

I was wondering whether I should really give up on Malaysia.

I have experienced a lot of…. well, dissatisfaction… about a lot of things. I am wondering if I could be a better doctor somewhere else, if I could do more somewhere else…where the system is superior, the allied health workers are enough and functioning, and the admin is reasonable when you lodge a complaint against any staff who does not treat your patient professionally.  Truthfully… there are times when I am tired of working in Malaysia. It’s not about the money. It’s never about the money because I am relatively financially free with no responsibility to anyone other than myself, Alhamdulillah. When I say I am financially free, I am not saying that I am rich… because I am not, LOL. But then, I don’t need to be rich. I am content. My freedom is my greatest treasure ever. I can speak up and challenge authority if I am so inclined because I know that should anyone try to oppress me unfairly, I can fight them back. If I lose the fight, I can afford to tender my resignation (after first creating a lot of havoc and probably dragging that person to court. LOL. But most people do not push me  that far.) This is the reason I choose MRCPsych. I have more options in where I can work if I have had enough of Malaysian bureaucracy. And the freedom that comes with a world-recognized qualification is a bliss.

Alhamdulillah, thank God that He had placed me in a job I love. Going to work is not even a job for me…. but a vocation. If I ever decide to leave KKM and go to the UK, it will not be about the money.

It will be about having to be under the thumb of foolish people in the admin side who discriminate the psychiatry field in the way that they deal with problematic staffs. Sometimes these admin people let dysfunctional staffs with criminal-like behaviour to continue working in psychiatry when the same kind of behavior in another department would not have been tolerated and would have caused them to be transferred out from that department pronto. (And these rejected staffs from other departments got transferred to PSY Department most of the times! And then this kind of staffs continue to create havoc in PSY department but when we complain about them, the admin people will not bother transferring them out from PSY department. The double standard is abominable!)

It’s also about dealing with rigid, bureaucratic red tape set by KKM admin who sit around making decisions about us without discussing their (unfair) decisions with us first. It’s also about the increasing pressure of being oppressed in which the burden of work is increasing (has there ever been a time when doctors’ burden of work is decreasing?) but the privileges and the allowances are abolished (or are being discussed and debated for abolishment). They have revoked their decision to abolish critical allowance for now, but who knows what else they would try to take away from us in the future?

On a larger scale of disenchantment, Pakatan Harapan proves to be disappointing to most of us who had worked really hard as a PACA in the last GE14. There are so many issues that have made us wonder on whether or not we should vote for BN in the next GE. Despite thinking this way, I never regret choosing Pakatan Harapan in GE14. The message we sent to the politicians was crystal clear. You cannot take for granted the loyalty of our votes if you do a poor job of governing the country. BN got the message already in the last GE14.

Maybe PH needs the same message as well during the next GE. Hmm? Maybe for the next GE, I will be a PACA for BN pula? LOL. My maternal aunty (whose house has been a BN Bilik Gerakan in Sedaka for decades) will be pleased about that, I am sure. She was so upset at my parents, myself and my siblings when we voted against BN during the last GE.

Let us be demanding of our government to deliver high quality governance. We can keep on switching our votes between various different parties till the end of days if we have to. That’s why I am not a member of any political party. I choose who to support based on issues. Not because I am a member of any political organization. I wish to stay objective and unbiased. I don’t believe in misplaced loyalty and unconditional love to any person or organization. My love and loyalty will always be conditional upon you being a good and worthy person. Because I don’t like to waste my time and my resources. (My INTJ traits could not have borne it! We loathe inefficiency in anything or anyone).

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The same reason : The craps that they accumulate if they are not changed often.

Ex-Education Minister

A lot of people in my Facebook newsfeed had expressed sadness and dissatisfaction about Dr.Maszlee having to resign from his post as Education Minister. I didn’t express any feeling whatsoever about this because I believe that if he is really good, he will make a comeback. In fact, he will come back stronger and wiser if he learned from this experience. Even Tun M was expelled from UMNO once upon a time because he was too loud in his criticism against Tun Abdul Rahman, remember? And yet he is our PM twice over. Sometimes, things happened so that you can internalize the lessons that you would not have learned, otherwise. He has a lot of loyal supporters. Insya Allah, he will make a comeback.

I do believe that Maszlee is a good person but I did not always agree with all his statements and actions. When most people in my Facebook newsfeed were shocked about Dr. Maszlee having to resign from his post as Education Minister, I was not all that surprised by the news. I had predicted it in my previous blog post.

Below is the snippet of my previous blog post by the title of ‘Truly Non-Partisan’ :

Nowadays, Dr. Maszlee has received criticism right, left and centre! He has nothing to lose if he just says “We will abolish vernacular schools. The standard 1 batch who first enters the new education system will no longer be subjected to any quota system when they are applying for matriculation, 10-11 years from now. We hope to promote unity between races by abolishing vernacular schools as well abolishing quotas between races.” 

But what did he do instead? He said  something to the effect of “Quota should be there because even job openings are discriminatory. Private companies only hire mandarin-speaking candidates.” Gosh! Is he saying that one act of discrimination justifies the use of another act of discrimination?! “Oh sebab hangpa discriminate kami dalam pekerjaan, so kami discriminate korang dengan quota lah.” OMG…. no wise politician will say something like that!

Politicians should have basic debating skills, in my opinion.  Rather than comparing quota with job discrimination, you should compare quota with vernacular schools…. because the existence of quota is part of Hak Bumiputera. And if Bumiputera have to sacrifice their rights, then the non-bumiputera must also sacrifice their vernacular schools. Barulah comparable kat situ, faham tak? Barulah kau tak kena bash! Dan kalau kau kena bash pun, at least it will be for a WORTHY statement and a WORTHY move!

If  you are interested, you can read the whole article in the post ‘Truly Non-Partisan’. But basically, I had written about how unsatisfied I was that he did not put his foot down and be firm about abolishing vernacular schools. How he was seen to be focusing on frivolous issues. It’s good that he is concerned about Pendidikan Untuk Semua especially concerning OKU kids… but get it done in a single-stream school. It’s good that he upgraded schools in the rural area and all… that can happen while prioritizing single-stream school too. It’s good that he is concerned about ‘beban kerja guru’…. again beban kerja guru could be dealt with while also making the bigger and more important change of having a single stream school.

Tackle the most important priority, first! The problem in Malaysia is racial disunity secondary to childhood racial segregation in schools! At least, even if you ended up making so many enemies that you had to step down, it would have been for a worthy cause. But now even without touching vernacular schools… he still had to step down anyway. What a shame.

Leadership is not about trying to please everyone (but ended up making every faction hates you anyway because of your lack of firmness). It is about doing the right thing, even if you please no one. When you do the right thing, even if you get a backlash from it, at least you will be satisfied and content. But when you try to compromise and please everyone, sometimes the strategy will backfire on you and at the same time you don’t even get the satisfaction of having done the right thing. For example:

  • Go ahead and be firm about learning Jawi in schools. Even if you had to displease the Chinese and the Indians, insist on learning Jawi because it has been decided. Tapi tiba-tiba daripada 6 muka surat jawi… tinggal 3 muka surat. Because you want to compromise and please everyone. But what happened instead? The Malays are very displeased because it was supposed to be 6 pages. And the Chinese/Indians are still displeased because they don’t even want to learn 3 pages of jawi! What did you get? None of the races are happy with you! At least if you had stick to your gun and insist that we are sticking to 6 pages of Jawi…. because you believe that this is the right thing to do (otherwise why would you have made that decision in the first place)… you will still please the Malays. But when you reduced the learning of Jawi to 3 pages, hoping to appease other races (but at the same time trying to comfort the Malays that Jawi will still be taught albeit with a reduced number of pages), every race is angry at you! Nampak tak how being Mr. Nice Guy to EVERYONE will backfire on us! Just do what you believe as right. Because when you do what you believe as right, that intention of yours please God. Don’t try to please others because there are so many of them who have their own conflict of interests that you can never please everyone. There’s a lot of freedom in knowing that you don’t have to please anyone else other than God. Try it sometime, okay? You might get so addicted to that freedom, you will never go back to being a Mr-Nice-Guy-To-Everyone again. #Leadership101
  • Go ahead and defend tanglung at schools because CNY is a cultural celebration and not a religious one. Defend tanglung even if you had to displease the Malays. (Tapi yang ni, pandai pula PH Government defend bagai nak rak. Isu jawi pula diorang macam tak ada spine!)

 

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When it comes to Jawi, you said PIBG’s decision was the reason not to implement it. How about Tanglung? It was the PIBG who decided to get rid of the tanglung! This is a rather obvious inconsistent reasoning!
  • You want to enforce the rule of no smoking in public premises to please the non-smoking public. But then you ambivalently flip flop and decided to allow a smoking area in the restaurants to cater to smokers. Seriously… whaaatt??

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Create a pattern of leadership that is so fair and so firm in its fairness no matter who is displeased, that you inspire respect in your leadership.

And I am not saying this only about Dr. Maszlee. But the whole laughable PH government is an epitome of spinelessness. I think the young generation is getting very disillusioned about this country. Part of me feel like I should have stayed in Australia when I had the chance.

I am a very patriotic person. But when the fate of our country lies in politicians whose honour is questionable at best, the inclination to pack up and get out is very strong.

Why do I say their honour is questionable?

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Well…if I were a politician, I certainly would not have hired political aides who are involved in drug parties. (Remember the hadeeth?) And I certainly would not want someone who commit adultery/sodomy to be among my trusted circle and working with me in developing my political career. In order for me to work with you, I need to know that I can trust and respect your integrity. I make it compulsory that if I am going to have to deal with you day in and day out, you better buck up and deserve my friendship and the trust that comes with it. I don’t want to waste my time having to deal with the complication of your dubious character. Time should be spent focusing on things that matter. Not dealing with bad behavior of undeserving people in your life that makes your life difficult to the point that you spend the bulk of your time settling headache-inducing personal issues, when you could have spent your time doing important things that would make a difference; things that would give you a reward in this life and the hereafter.

When it comes to dealing with my subordinates, I don’t go around checking the whereabouts of my HOs or my staffs every single minute of their working hours. I have better stuff to do with my time. But I want things to be done within the stipulated time that we had discussed. I will check and follow up on what I had asked them to do. I want them to show results without me having to micro-manage their time. You can keluar ambil anak from school or do whatever you have to do as long as you deliver progress and good results in your work. Tapi kalau kau pemalas, kau tak berdisiplin, kau suka buat pesakit atau kau tak buat kerja sampai pesakit under your care banyak relapse…. You should be sacked out of your department! Don’t demotivate other staffs around you who had to put up with your behavior.

As a leader, they must start learning the concept of Pygmalion effect. People deliver something better, because YOU expect something better! People will try to meet your standard because you expect it from them and will not put up with anything less.

As simple as that.

So why did you expect low?

 

***

The Worrying Global Trend Of Religious & Racial Persecution

Things that are happening to Uyghurs in China and to Muslims in India and Kashmir…. they are very disheartening.

In our own country, racial issues are fired up constantly and consistently.

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Modi’s government wants India’s Muslims to prove their Indianness because their faith renders it suspect.  Seriously!

Some of fellow Malaysians of Indian race had dared to question Tun M’s stand to continue to criticize India, because now India had retaliated by not buying our palm oil. And some of these ‘Malaysians’ who are still LOYAL to India are saying things like “Take care of the economy of your own country first and guard your mouth, Tun M.”

Wow…. their priority is certainly skewed.

So, I then wrote this Facebook status. I hope my message is clear. Jangan main dengan api just because the majority is silent. I am certainly not the silent type when I have had enough.

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One of my friends were saying to me, “Aku tak berani nak tulis some of the Facebook status that you had written even though I agree with you. Facebook aku ada kawan-kawan India, Cina…. aku takut depa offended.”

I have said it before. I say the truth even if people don’t like it. I am not responsible for your hurt feelings. I certainly do have Chinese and Indian friends in my Facebook as well as in real life and in our day-to-day life, we get along well and respect each other!

But this is political! Everybody will have their own political opinion which may be influenced by their race or their religion.

But regardless of which race or religion you are, justice is a universal concept! Regardless of which race or religion you are, FACTS are facts!

Below are the facts!

In China, the main culture/religion is Buddhism, and they speak Chinese languages (Mandarin/Cantonese/Hokkien etc), and the Chinese students take exams based on the syllabus in their own country which has been tailored to suit the Chinese values, Chinese culture and Chinese philosophy. Can a Muslim whose Malaysian ancestors had migrated to China demand that the Chinese Government recognize her SPM qualification (based on the Malaysian syllabus) so that she could enter universities in China? How is that fair to other citizens who took different kind of exams? #SayNoToUEC

Likewise, in India, the main culture/religion/language is not Islam or Arabic…. it is Hindu as the religion of the majority and Hindi language is the official language. Can a Muslim whose ancestors had migrated from Saudi Arabia demand that the India Government recognize her exam qualification based on Saudi Arabia’s syllabus in order for her to enter Indian Universities?

In Europe, the Western values is the dominant culture and Christian is the main religion. Before going to study in Australia, I took International Baccalaureate (IB) qualification before I can enter Newcastle University! Should I have demanded that they recognize my SPM, instead? I could sure try, if I wanted to be a barrel of laughs!

In the Middle East, the main culture is Arabic and the language is Arabic. I am sure they too have their own system!

In EVERY region and EVERY country, there is one dominant culture and one dominant religion and one official/dominant language. This is the country’s identity! Every country has ONE dominant identity which is usually influenced by the culture and religion of the majority! #FactsOfLifeInThisWorld  Please get this into your head!

In Malaysia, that dominant identity and that dominant culture is the Malay culture and the official religion in this country is Islam… but we didn’t stop you from practicing your own culture and religion! But respect to the dominant culture and the dominant religion must be there! You do not get to demand EQUALITY of all religions and cultures in Malaysia. Just like other minorities in other countries also cannot (and DID NOT!!) demand EQUAL recognition of their own cultures and religious practices in that country. As long as they can practice their religion and culture without disturbance, they do not demand that everything about their culture and religion is treated equally with the dominant culture/religion. In fact, they assimilated! Some of the Chinese and Indians in Australia could not even speak their mother tongues, and they have Western values and they adopt the Western culture.

Sure, Barack Obama who is a black American had been the US President for two terms. But don’t try to compare that situation with Malaysia by saying stupid things out of context such as “Malaysia is so backward… in the US,  they already have a Black president. Kat Malaysia, kenapa orang Cina/India tak boleh jadi PM? So racist!”

Hang on, guys! Barack Obama didn’t speak Swahili… he speaks perfect English. And his culture and religion are Western and Christian. He has assimilated! THAT is the difference!

He is so assimilated that people were not worried that someone like him was going to be the President of a white-majority country… because they were very confident that it wouldn’t affect their way of life in any way, shape or form. But can you imagine if Barack Obama speaks hesitant English, and more fluent in Arabic than in English, and is a practicing Muslim rather than a practicing Christian, whose values are Eastern rather than Western…. would he have been the US President? Think about it! Be fair in your judgment!

So if you want to be a Malaysian PM, come and join us and assimilate with us… starting from learning with us in a similar environment at schools during childhood. Tapi kalau itu pun kau tak boleh buat, tiba-tiba nak demand jadi PM Malaysia? Are you out of your mind? Who would vote for you to be Malaysian PM in a Malay-mojority country? This is not about being racist. This is about understanding facts and contexts! In Australia, MOST members of parliament are WHITE…. hardly any Asians or Muslims or Indians can be an MP despite them having assimilated completely with the Australian culture. Most of them don’t speak their own mother tongues and hardly know anything about being Asian or being Indian. And yet, they are much less represented!

Compare that situation to Malaysia where there are SO MUCH MORE Indians and Chinese who are MPs.  I and many Malays certainly would vote for a PM who is a Chinese Muslim like Brother Firdaus Wong. I am sure a lot of Malays would vote for an Indian Muslim like Brother Shah Kirit to be a PM… because we feel like they have assimilated perfectly with the culture of the majority! They would not suddenly question Islamic practices or the fact that Islam is the official religion of the country. Sebab tulah Barack Obama boleh jadi presiden US…. because he assimilated! #PoliticalScience101 Kalau benda simple macam ni kau tak boleh grasp (or maybe it is actually too complicated for you?), how can you have the maturity to be a PM?

Below is  an introduction to the wit of Brother Wong, to those who have never known him.

When you go to the Western countries, pandai pula kau tak demand vernacular schools kat sana. There are so many Indians/Chinese living in the UK or the US…. but why does no one demand for the UK or the US government to recognize their syllabus based on their country of ethnic origin? Why do you dare to insist on your vernacular schools when you are in Malaysia but not when you are in the Western countries? Perhaps minorities in the Western countries are more reasonable and they know not to cross boundaries. They know their place, their rights and their limitations. So, I reiterate #SayNoToUEC

Nak dapat cuti CNY/Deepavali… jangan haraplah kalau kat Australia! During Eid day pun aku pergi lecture hall ok! Nak bina kuil, rampas tanah orang suka-suka hati kat Western countries, kau berani ke? Kau ingat negara tak ada undang-undang??

If I ever decide to migrate to the UK, I would NEVER behave like some of the minority extremists here in Malaysia. Because in Islam, we are taught #FiqhMinoriti (Fiqh Al-Alqalliyyat or Jurisprudence of Muslim Minorities). Did you know that in Syariah Law, Muslims minority must follow the law of the land they reside in? Otherwise, we have the options to berhijrah. Simple kan? We will still do the actions required in our 5 pillars of Islam (rukun Islam; namely shahada, praying, zakat, fasting, hajj pilgrimage) but we are not asked to change the law of the land to be in accordance to Islam.

But when we are in a Muslim-majority country, we are obliged to uphold the Islamic Law without trampling on the rights of the minority. And Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country!

“Fiqh al-Aqalliyyat”—the jurisprudence of Muslim minorities—is a legal doctrine introduced in the 1990s by Taha Jabir Al-Alwani and Yusuf Al-Qaradawi which asserts that Muslim minorities, especially those residing in the West, deserve a special new legal discipline to address their unique religious needs that differ from those of Muslims residing in Islamic countries.

According to Taha, “While Muslims in Muslim Countries are obliged to uphold the Islamic Law of their state, Muslim minorities in the United States are not required either by the Islamic Law or rationality to uphold Islamic symbols of faith in a secular state, except to the extent permissible within that state.”

But there will be extremists in any religion and any race. We certainly do get Muslim extremists in  the West too. And in Malaysia… there are minority extremists who are being given a wide publicity by the local media. My question is, what are you playing at? Are you trying to burn the country to the ground with racism and racial hatred?

So, if you are wondering why I can write controversial stuff in my Facebook my answer is…. “Kenapa kita kena senyap bila ada orang lain tengah propagate for falsehood, wanting something beyond their rights? Kenapa diorang boleh cakap lepas dan mulut capoi macam dengan apa dan post kat Facebook benda yang salah? Tapi kita tak boleh propagate benda yang betul? Kau boleh terima ke bila ada Malaysian biadap yang cakap jangan menyibuk soal India… jangan sibuk speak up bila Indian Government discriminate orang Muslim kat sana just because our palm oil will be boycotted? Economy first, before humanity and justice…. is that it? Religious persecution is okay ke… as long as our palm oil can be sold to India? I cannot accept that. So kalau orang boleh berani tulis benda yang salah, kenapa aku  tak boleh tulis benda yang betul!”

I posted what I believe as right! That’s my answer to why I don’t care whose feelings are hurt by what I write.

If you are hurt by the truth, you are the problem. Not me.

***

Book Of The Month

In the month of December, I had finished 5 books; 3 fictions and 2 non-fictions. But I would like to write only  about the non-fiction ones because I think these two books are quite beneficial to be read by my readers.

Some of my patients had asked me about what books should they read that would motivate them. And usually, I would be at a loss to recommend one for them. You see, the truth is, I do not set out to motivate myself by reading motivational books. I find that they are too contrived and they are trying too hard to motivate us in an unnatural way to the point that they sound unrealistic. I read fictions…. on justice, on quests, on hardship and difficulties… in which the hero would win in the end after facing so many trials and tribulations. To me, THAT is motivating.

So I don’t read books like ‘Chicken Soup For The Soul’… Or books like ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ or ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’. I mean… I guess, they are alright but they are not my cup of tea. I was never able to finish them and have given up buying them.Those kind of books are too… instructive, for me. Too contrived. Like I have to follow a manual instead of leading my life naturally. LOL.

So, I didn’t know what to recommend my patients if they asked me for that kind of books because I don’t read them, in general.

But one day I came across an instagram page of Mizi Wahid and I kind of like the things he posted. Later I found out that he had authored a book by the title of The Art Of Letting God. I bought this book in Senai Airport at the price of  RM50, and for  a 147-pages hard-cover book, I must say it was a great purchase.

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This book is for Muslims who are looking for inspiration, motivation and the strength to let go of their past hurt and regrets. And it is the Muslim version of evidence-based practice (i.e, dalil-based) for letting go and letting God. I certainly enjoyed reading it and I finished them in 2-3 days. It does intrigue my mind and challenge my thoughts in certain things and that is quite rare to happen for me these days. For example in Chapter 9 “Leave Your Enemies To Him”… hahha…. I had a long thought about that. Because my core belief is Justice.

Let me quote some of the sentences in this Chapter:

In Islam, the choice to avenge a wrongdoing is a valid one. It is an option as long as the “retaliation” is equal or less than what was done to you. But there are other options too. And they are: the choice to be compensated and the choice to forgive the wrongdoer.

I will never be able to talk about forgiveness until you first acknowledge that avenging a wrongndoing is also a valid course of action! Most motivational books would jump straight to “Forgiveness of Others” as though the wish to be avenged is unnatural. But Mizi Wahid took a balanced approach. He had rightly stated that being compensated and being avenged is also a valid option. It does celebrate our natural human nature of seeking justice. And only AFTER talking about justice, he talked about forgiveness. That is very good…. very palatable to someone like me.

Don’t you just HATE it when some ‘budget bagus’ preacher talk about forgiveness without talking about justice? So impractical and so devoid of any understanding of human nature! Padahal dia sendiri pun mulut boleh tahan and taklah automatically forgive orang. Ha ha.

I like something real, genuine and practical. Don’t sound pretentiously religious when actually the reality is different. I tend to question your intention if I don’t trust your holier-than-thou tone.

So I do recommend my readers to read this book by Mizi Wahid, The Art Of Letting God. I think this is one of the motivational books that are less pretentious compared to many others out there. And like I said, it is dalil-based (evidence-based).

x298

The next book I would like to talk about is Labyrinths by Catrine Clay. I bought this book in Alor Star during the Big Bad Wolf book sale last October. The reason I bought this book was because it is related to my career in psychiatry.

This is about Carl Gustav Jung and his marriage to Emma Jung and the early days of psychoanalysis. Even Sigmund Freud made an appearance in this book and he was like a father-figure to Carl Jung…until finally Carl Jung departed from Freud due to their disagreement about one aspect of psychoanalysis… namely the psychosexual part of psychoanalysis.

After reading this book, I had a clearer idea on how psychoanalysis was practiced in the early days and frankly, I am not impressed by how very unscientific their methods were.

Below is a table outlining the differences between Carl Jung’s assumptions and Freud’s assumptions (Nama pun assumptions, ok!)

Screenshot 2020-01-17 10.31.57

I find this book is particularly illuminating when it comes to personal anecdotes of Carl Jung’s life and childhood (he was sexually abused). There were some questions on whether or not he might have suffered from Bipolar?

It was interesting to know about the ménage à trois between Carl Jung, Emma Jung and Toni Wolff. I felt so sorry for Emma Jung about that.

In this biography, Carl Jung was depicted to have had multiple romantic relationships with his patients. For someone who should know better about transference, he certainly didn’t give a damn. There had been times when he continued to encourage romantic feelings in his patients.

I find that at the end of the book, I could not respect Carl Jung as a person. Maybe as a psychiatrist he deserved some recognition and respect. But on the whole, I find that he is not up to the ethical standard that should be expected from a psychiatrist. I wonder if the ethic governing doctors back then was much different than now.

But do I recommend this book to my readers? Well, I recommend psychiatrists and psychiatry MOs and psychologists to read this book. But I don’t recommend it to the general public.  Because you guys might have a wrong idea about psychiatry when you read the unscientific nature of dream analysis and psychoanalysis based on free-association.  Adeh!

Until next time, my dear readers. Much love and may Allah bless all of us.

Screenshot 2020-01-17 11.38.04

How did you know that? Who told you that?

There have been a few hot topics in the social media that I am personally interested in and have been following for the past few weeks.

  1. Polio virus made a comeback after 27 years of eradication in Malaysia. (heartbreaking, really)
  2. A famous da’i who had previously rejected 18 proposals from other women finally could not resist the aura of the 19th woman and got married to her, who also happened to be a fake doctor, before divorcing his pregnant first wife. (#DramaSangat)
  3. The (old) news regarding the change in the landscape of HIV transmission in Malaysia received a lot of emotionally-charged comments on the social media.

Do let me know if you have any opinion to share on these topics. I have personally shared my opinion on these in my Facebook and I don’t feel like repeating myself in my blog.

***

The Conversational Impasse

The Atheist: Why are Muslims against LGBT? They are very nice people. It’s just  that they have different sexual orientation. They don’t harm other people. As long as they don’t harm others, let them do whatever they want.

The Believer: Who told you that? Who told you that “it is okay to do whatever you want as long as you don’t harm others?”

The Atheist: Memang macam tu pun. Why should we curb other people’s freedom to do what they want when they don’t harm others? I don’t believe in your religion, so I am not going to follow what your religion says about LGBT being haram and all.

The Believer:  I repeat, who told you that “it is okay to do whatever you want as long as you don’t harm others?” I assume, you believe there is no objective truth… no absolute right or wrong in this world?

The Atheist: Stealing is wrong. It harms others; taking the rights of other people is wrong. Murder is wrong…. It takes life away from others. But in things that don’t harm others…. Why should we bother to push our religious beliefs onto other people?

The Believer: How did you KNOW that “it is okay to do whatever you want as long as you don’t harm others?” Was it something you read? Was it an opinion of an author you had read? Which philosopher told you that? Or is it just your opinion?

The Atheist: What are you getting at?

The Believer: There is NO OBJECTIVE TRUTH to your statement that it is okay for us to do anything as long as we don’t harm others. In fact, you are pushing YOUR OPINION, YOUR IDEOLOGY, YOUR WORLDVIEW on me. I don’t believe that we can do everything that don’t harm others. I believe that in certain things there are clear-cut rightness and wrongness. Yes, I call them good deeds and sinful deeds… but that’s just words and semantics. You have your own internal bias that clashes with mine. You believe that people can do anything that don’t harm others. I don’t believe that.

The Atheist: But I don’t believe in your religion. So don’t push your religious values on me.

The Believer: And I don’t believe in your opinion. Why are you pushing it on me?

The Atheist: I am not pushing my opinion on you. I am saying, be free to do anything that don’t harm others.

The Believer: And I am saying, that there are certain things that we should NOT do even if it doesn’t harm people. Not all sinful things harm others… but I don’t believe it is okay to do it. Because things that you do that don’t harm others may actually harm yourself. Religion is not meant to just protect others around you but also to protect yourself. Things that you do that don’t harm others but harm yourself is still wrong. You want to indulge in alternative sexual lifestyle… go ahead. But if you ask for my opinion, I am not going to lie and pretend that I don’t think it is wrong. Am I not free to state my opinion? How does my opinion harm you? Why am I not free to state my religious belief as long as, ehem, it doesn’t harm others?

The Atheist: But your religious opinion harm others!

The Believer: Says you! I think, your opinion harms others too. Impressionable Muslims/Christians/Jewish kids, for example. It confuses their minds. They will start doing dangerous things that harm themselves…maybe take drugs/indulge in extramarital sex leading to teenage pregnancy for example… because they don’t believe they are harming anyone by doing it. They are just harming themselves and destroying their own future…. but to you, that is okay? It’s funny! You think your opinion doesn’t harm others… but you think MY opinion based on my religious values harms others?

The Atheist: Your opinion causes others to discriminate LGBT people. You call them deviants, deny them their rights to marriage, destroy their political careers and their reputation. Is that okay?

The Believer: Your opinion causes others to discriminate religious people. You call them backwards, orthodox, kampung, and distort other people’s impression of their intellect by labelling them religious bigots. Is that okay?

The Atheist: It seems like we are at an impasse. You don’t believe in freedom.

The Believer: You are wrong! I believe in the freedom to do what is right. I don’t believe in the freedom to do what is wrong… to lie, to cheat or to distort truth! I believe there are things that are right and things that are wrong… and at the same time, there are things that we are free to do because they are neither right nor wrong and God simply left it to our own preferences and discretion. In Islam, we call it halal, haram and harus. If two adult siblings engaged in sex consensually, it is STILL wrong even if they don’t harm others. If a parent and his/her adult child choose to have sex with each other even when they don’t harm others, it is STILL wrong! And when it comes to homosexuality, my opinion is that it is wrong and I am not going to change my opinion. I don’t go around shouting my opinion to others unnecessarily… but if anyone specifically asked me for my view on homosexuality, I am not going to lie and pretend that I think it is okay just to please them. As a Muslim, I CANNOT say it is okay… and forcing me to say things I couldn’t say as a Muslim does not reconcile with your concept of freedom of speech, does it? My worldview will always clash with yours but it doesn’t mean I am pushing my worldview on you…. because then, I can also say that you too are pushing your worldview on me. See? Truth is not objective because none of us can agree on one similar worldview. In this world, where no one can agree on what is the truth… what is right becomes debatable to the public.

The Atheist: Yes, we cannot agree on what is the truth. I will continue to say what I say. And you religious zealots will continue to say what you say.

The Believer: And each of us will continue to propagate what we believe as right. Each of us will try to gain followers for our cause, influence public opinion, lobby our MPs to change laws in the parliament! In this world, the truth is acknowledged by the law because everyone in that particular place will have to follow the law. And the law in Malaysia says that homosexuality is wrong, period. In fact homosexuality was wrong even in the West not so many decades ago! Because in this world…  we can never agree on what is the truth. We can’t even agree if there is a God. And even among those who agree that God exist… they couldn’t agree on which is the right religion… and among those who can agree which one is the right religion, they could not agree on which mazhab/sect within that religion is the correct one. But if you change the law, you can change the truth as it is perceived in  this world.

The Atheist: I guess, the word ‘truth’ becomes a study in grey. Nuanced. Uncertain.

The Believer : That’s why various groups from different ideologies will continue to push their opinions on others… will continue to try to influence public opinion and public policy. People go to war to champion their ideologies until now! In this world… what is the truth is best determined by policies and laws. If your country approves LGBT and creates pro-LGBT policy… that is the truth of what is accepted in your country. But in Muslim-majority countries, we have a different truth. Likewise, I cannot go to the Western countries demanding my idea of the truth to be upheld there until I can change the law there. Just like you cannot demand your idea of the truth to be upheld in Muslim-majority countries until you can change the law here. Our truths are reflected by the law. You change the law, you change the truth. That is kind of sad for the truth but that is how it is. In the West, LGBT is winning and the laws are gradually changing in their favour. Isn’t it funny how what used to be wrong is now right? Isn’t it sad how subjective truth can be in the hands of human beings who are always at the mercy of their conflict of interests? Over time, I wonder if consensual incest can be made right too as long as they, ehem, “don’t harm others”.

That Atheist: So we are engaged in an ideological war? Where truth is subjective and whoever can influence the public opinion more and whoever can cause the law to change in their favour will win?

The Believer: Exactly! It’s been like that since time immemorial. Didn’t you notice? May the best propagator win! To you is your belief. To me is mine. And we will see which one of us can influence the society more. And which one of us can cause the law to swing in our favour.

***

“Doing the right things start with knowing the right things.” In what way does responsible action depend on sound critical thinking?

That was my Theory of Knowledge essay question that I had to answer as an IB student back in 2005. I got an A in that essay, Alhamdulillah. And since then, I do believe that Pendidikan Islam must be taught this way. Ask the students to write an essay, UTILIZING and APPLYING their knowledge.

I have spoken about this before, how very unsatisfied I was when ustazah and ustaz gave me half-baked answers and an incomplete picture of a story. “What do you mean Al-Quran is a miracle? What do you mean gaya Bahasa Al-Quran tak ada siapa boleh tanding? Ada judge ke yang come up with who is the winner? Ada pertandingan gaya bahasa ke zaman Nabi dulu? Give me examples of the Quranic verses that are so miraculous that the Arab poets were stunned speechless? Who were the poets involved? I am thirsty for details! Give me some details!” Don’t simply give me simple one liners in answering things like this! Because my default mode would be to question and question and question… until I am satisfied. And I am glad I did that… because now that I have found the answer, I am a confident Muslim and I know that Islam is the truth. But there are SO MANY people… even dah adults…. who STILL had no idea how to answer basic questions of creed like this! Tapi ada hati nak jadi ustazah/ustaz ajar impressionable kids and the gullible public! We have people with questionable intellect and dubious honour being a loud self-proclaimed spokesperson for our religion (And they are products of reality TV competition with titles like  Da’i and  Pencetus Ummah. Gosh!)  #18/19Aura anyone?

Why can’t we have more Malay Muslims like Dr. MAZA or Dr. Rozaimi to make up the majority of our religious leaders? Why do I have to turn to International speakers or revert Muslims in order to gain more knowledge about Islam? Why do we make reality TV personalities famous when they usually smear the beauty of our religion? There will be no market for mindless poor-quality entertainment if the majority of Muslims in this country are serious-minded and demand more thought-provoking TV programs.

As Muslims, we should really work on our critical thinking. We should really hone our ability for clarity of thoughts. We should practice how to vocalize our point of view so that truth would resonate from every single syllable of our words. Because as we all probably realize now… truth can be buried under false propaganda when the said false propaganda has the ability to gain more public favour. So it is our responsibility to be a competent propagator. Because at the the end of the day, the best propagator wins. Remember?

kebatilan terancang

***

This is the fact that most men are ethnocentric. They believe there is only one true morality and it is their own. It makes it difficult for people to know what is right and what is wrong.

But if you CARE enough….if you REALLY want to know the truth, you would have found it. Eventually.

6 or 9

Take the picture above as an example. People love to reference this situational picture to show others of how every perspective, every point of view can be right or wrong depending on which angle you see things. As though there is no absolute truth in anything in this world.

Well, I beg to differ.

In real life situation, depending on criteria and the weightage of the criteria, you can always come up with what decision is more right to be done.  For example, there are ways we can know whether the number should be 9 or 6. I would resolve the situation by hearing the arguments on each side of the party…. why he says it is 6, and why the other party says it is 9.  Perhaps, a few metres down the road, there was another number carved on the road as 7… and therefore it makes sense that this one should be 6. Find out la! Jangan malas! Hear all arguments…. Hear everything. If things are still blurry, I would find out who wrote that number 6/9 and I would search for that person, call him up and ask him myself, “What did you mean to write, actually? 6 or 9? Why did you write that number in the first place? Was there a purpose to the writing of the number?”

The thing is, when something is important enough to me, I want to know everything there is to know about the answer to that particular question! I want to be convinced.  I am not easily satisfied by people’s laziness in answering “Bergantung kepada situasi. Bergantung kepada factor-faktor tertentu.” Aduh! You should elaborate and tell me “Bergantung kepada situasi yang macam mana? Faktor yang macam mana? In what way would things change if the situation or the factors change?” Don’t give me half-assed answers that satisfies no one. At least have the honesty to admit that you don’t know and you too would love to explore further. Admit your ignorance and vow to find out the truth and clarify the matter.

There are ALWAYS ways we can find out the truth! Either you want to go through that effort or not… is up to you. So in trivial things like the picture above (6 or 9), I might not go to the trouble of finding the person who wrote the number because it just wasn’t important enough to me. Effort should be proportionate to the significance of the expected outcome. Our time in this world is limited. Choose where we put our effort accordingly.

But in finding out about whether or not you are following the right way of life, in finding out whether or not your worldview is right (your religion/ your life philosophy/ your political ideology) I believe you have to go ALL OUT and search for the truth until you find it! It is worth finding. If you can invest so many years of your life to become a doctor, why can’t you spend some time just reading on philosophy, World Religions, comparative religions, watching philosophical and religious lectures on You Tube. This is only a very small effort on our part. It amazes me that people can be satisfied when things don’t click! It amazes me that people are not bothered by contradictory facts that don’t connect. It amazes me that people can live with cognitive dissonance and continue to believe things that they doubt deep inside. And they can brush off their worries and concerns that they might be wrong… just because they have been brought up with an unconscious internal bias.

Examine your mind properly… how did you come up with that opinion? Is there an objective truth to it? Or does it ‘seem’ to be the truth because it is the law of the country or the sentiments of the majority of the people in your circle?

I hope my readers will do one thing in their life whenever they are confronted with a new information, a new thought, a novel ideology. Always question and verify that information! Ask them… how did you know that information? How did you come up with that opinion? Do you have a reference? Do you have a book I can read on that topic myself? Is there another possible explanation? (Even in learning worldly matters like psychiatry… I am like that. For example, don’t be offended if I question some stuff in Psychoanalysis. To question is to learn. Be worried if your students don’t question everything you said. How interested are they in learning what you have taught them if they don’t have ANY question and ANY doubt at all?)

Al-Hasan al-Basri said: “The believer reserves judgment until the matter is proven.”

***

Book Of The Month

Dear readers,

I have decided to end all my future blog posts with books that I had read in the previous month. I have been reading 2-4 books per month since I started working as a doctor (previously when I was a student, I was able to read 2 books per week. Those were the good old days when I still had the energy and the luxury of time to indulge in my hobby). But I rarely shared with my readers about my thoughts of the books I had read. I think this should change. Reading is a large and important part of my life and by sharing my thoughts on books that I read, I hope to inspire you guys to read them as well. It would be a shame not to tell you guys about books that you might possibly enjoy reading too.

So from now on I would end all my blog post with the section of Book of The Month. And if you are not fond of reading, you can simply skip this section in my future blog post.

 

 

So in November, I had read Animal Farm by George Orwell and The Silence of The Lambs by Thomas Harris. You guys are probably familiar with the film version of The Silence of The Lambs, featuring Hannibal Lecter as the genius psychopathic psychiatrist. So, I don’t think I should say anything more about the book. It was not a bad book, but it wasn’t exactly awesome.

But I am more impressed with Animal Farm.

I recommend Animal Farm to all my readers because it is a very thought-provoking satire on politics and society. The plot is a thinly-disguised political criticism of Russia’s Bolshevik revolution. To those who don’t know about The Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution who had chased away Tsar Nicholas II, the last Russian Emperor. Vladimir Lenin then passed away and Joseph Stalin took over the leadership of the Revolution. Joseph Stalin had used a lot of unscrupulous methods and various propaganda to eventually betray the ideals of the deceased Vladimir Lenin in The Russian Revolution.

It taught me that people tend to distort truth (in the novel: the truth is dubbed as ‘commandments’) with the passing of the time in order to justify the conflict of interests of the society leaders. Animal Farm is only a thin novella… but it is one of the greatest books in history and arguably Orwell’s finest work. So, if you are interested, do check it out.

1984

 

I also recommend you guys to read 1984, also by George Orwell. But if you are new to political satire, you might have more tolerance and patience to read Animal Farm first before you move on to read 1984. (In my case, I read 1984 first… and became interested with George Orwell afterwards. And only recently did I have the opportunity to read Animal Farm.)

If you guys have any book recommendation for me, do let me know. I always appreciate people recommending me a good book to read. After all, I was told that “seeing someone reading a book that you love is like seeing a book recommending a person,” I think that this is quite accurate. I can make an educated guess of what sort of person you are just by knowing what is your favourite book.

book recommend

 

Until next time, my dear readers. Much love and may Allah bless all of us with knowledge of the truth. And may Allah give us the strength to be steadfast in practicing the truth and speaking the truth that we had painstakingly found. Amin.

The Hong Kong (Mis)Adventure

Assalamualaikum my dear readers,

Alhamdulillah, after passing my CASC exam, I had received a lot of inquiries for tips on how  to pass the CASC exam. And the answer is….

…..I really don’t know. Haha. Really!

Because there were certainly a lot more candidates who were much better than me but did not make it anyway. I have several practice buddies for CASC exam, locally in Alor Setar as well as in other places and let me tell you, sometimes who ended up passing and who didn’t make it surprised me too. Some who I personally know are so good, did not make it. Some who I feel are okay (not excellent, not bad, but average) made it.

This is a real puzzle for me when it comes to CASC. (In paper A and paper B … it is different. If you study, if you know what you know… and if you answer the questions based on what you have studied… chances are you will make it. The outcome largely depends on YOU yourself, and of course, also by the will of Allah).  We have had some candidates who were very good… some of them were so motivated that they took BOTH the master pathway and the parallel MRCPsych pathway. Some of those who made it in the master pathway with no record of failure during their master exams had to sit for CASC 3-4 times before they finally passed. So please don’t think that the MRCPsych exam is easier than the master exam. It isn’t. Likewise, I also don’t think the master exam is easier than the MRCPsych exam. They have different criteria and system in grading their candidates and regardless of which pathway you choose, you must find ways to beat the system in order to pass. It’s like playing two games with different rules. You cannot expect to win in one game by using the strategy employed in another different game. Get it? Even though I made it with CASC, but who knows whether I would pass if I took the master exam instead.  So, kudos to those who took BOTH exams… you guys are really awesome!

You see, I am the sort of person who has a very internal locus of control (and this is not necessarily good, either). I believe that, Insya Allah, your success in life depends on you MOSTLY… with some minor external factors minimally influencing the outcome. But I must admit that when it comes to CASC… my locus of control really shifted. Big time!*LOL*. Because I could not explain how come some outstanding and experienced candidates from other countries who are already a consultant in their own countries could not make it in CASC. It really puzzled me.

And I put it down to rezeki and fate. At the end of the day, it really is!

Just pray HARD for a miracle…. for things to go smoothly for you during the exam. Just pray HARD for a miracle… for you to be struck by an epiphany of wisdom while performing your task in the CASC station. Just pray HARD for a miracle… for the examiner to suddenly perceive you as outstanding, nice, likeable yadda yadda yadda.

My Chinese friend Dr. C was my study and travel buddy for this Hong Kong CASC, and had been a witness to my 5 prayers per day routine while travelling. Like me, she had an attack of post-exam anxiety after we went out of the exam hall (because the exam was a bloodbath of trickeries and ambiguities in how they set the task in each station, I tell you!). So she started to say “I think I will go to Temple while waiting for my CASC result”. *LOL*. And another friend of mine teased her by saying “Oh, only now you remember God, is it?” *LOL* (Muslims pray as an act of worship, 5 times a day. We do not necessarily pray for something specific while worshipping. Even if we had perceived ourselves as sufficient in everything, we would still pray 5 times a day for the purpose of worship. God is to be worshipped…. not only when you need something from Him but especially when you don’t. It shows sincerity when you worship Him anyway even when you are already satisfied with whatever He has given you. But yes, even Muslims would pray much harder and more frequently during exams. I am guilty of that too…Haha. May Allah forgive us for whatever conflict of interests is going on in our mind while worshipping Him. And may Allah guide us to worship Him with better sincerity in the future. Well, just to clear that up.)

This shows how very MUCH the candidates’ locus of control would shift when it comes to CASC. Those who don’t pray would suddenly feel like they should visit the temple, LOL. And those who don’t believe in any deity would suddenly invoke the name of God they don’t really believe in.

And me? I just pray even harder.

25 candidates were successful at the MRCPsych CASC Examination in Hong Kong held in October 2019. A total of 46 candidates sat the examination. So, the overall Pass Rate is 54.3%

All in all, I had passed 14 stations out of 16 stations. The passing mark was set at 63.7%. And Alhamdulillah, I obtained 70.8% in the exam. That is the miracle I was praying so hard for and I am so grateful that Allah had granted it for me. Allah has been Most Beneficient and Most Merciful towards me for granting me this happiness. And trust me, dear CASC candidates out there… just do your best and pray hard! Ask your parents and loved ones to pray for you too. Pray for each other. And Insya Allah, you will make it. (And just some tips… it is better to do your CASC in the UK straightaway. Invest a bit more money and just get it done once.)

Screenshot 2019-11-22 07.17.19
Alhamdulillah… it is official!
Screenshot 2019-11-22 07.18.09
The morning CASC stations results
Screenshot 2019-11-22 07.18.24
The PM CASC station results

 

But let me tell you, my dear readers, there were a lot of misadventures that I had to go through before Allah gifted me with this happiness. As my sisters would know, I had created a hashtag #RanjauSepanjangJalan to describe my Hong Kong CASC Journey. Haha (So, if you think you are going through a hard time now, the harshest of storm precedes the appearance of the clearest sky. Have faith… your turn for happiness will come, my fellow comrades. It is just a matter of time. Believe it… and PRAY HARD!)

Want to know why #RanjauSepanjangJalan was chosen as my hashtag in describing my CASC journey in Hong Kong? Hahaha. It is a quite funny story, but it is not at all informative or illuminating in any way. So you guys can skip reading the contents below and do something more productive with your time (seriously… be more productive). I am just writing them as a personal record for myself, and if it benefits you, well and good. And if it doesn’t, well, you have been warned.

***

#RanjauSepanjangJalan: The Novel

My dear readers, are you familiar with Shahnon Ahmad’s literary work entitled Ranjang Sepanjang Jalan? Shahnon Ahmad was a Sasterawan Negara, as you guys probably know. (He was also famous as the writer of SHIT, around the era of Malaysian political turmoil in 1998.) When I was doing my IB studies, I had to do a literary analysis of Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan as part of my IB syllabus.

It was the most boring (but thought provoking) ordeal I had  to do as an IB student. Sorry Mr. Shahnon Ahmad…. I didn’t really enjoy reading your book at that time. I have always been an optimistic person and this book did not celebrate my values of ‘hard work begets success’. So, I positively hated it! I am the ‘happy-ending’ kind of person. I personally feel, it is not an ending unless it is a happy ending (sure you can die in real life… but you still have the hereafter to look forward to where great things can happen and you get to enter paradise. Yes bad things like divorce can happen…. but it is not yet an ending. You can go on with your life and attain more success with or without your spouse! Nothing bad in your life is an ending! You decide, with  the help of Allah, to make the most out of  your life). In my books, good MUST prevail. It MUST! And I am quite rigid and autistic about it, LOL. Hard work must be rewarded! Struggle must end with success. Those are my values and I would NOT read any fiction that does NOT celebrate my values.

Unless it is an academic reading. And so, I had to do it. *LOL*

SYNOPSIS (my version)

Till the end of the book, the family of Lahuma and Jeha with their seven kids were filled with one trial after another. They were a family of paddy planters during the 1960s, which was around the time when the Malaysian government encouraged farmers to make use of modern farming techniques. But Lahuma and his family were persistent in using the traditional method of farming even though they hardly made ends meet. Lahuma passed away in the middle of the book from busung (can you believe it? Busung is like ascites, right? I could not remember Shahnon Ahmad describing the cause of the busung), leaving Jeha as the sole breadwinner to the seven kids. Jeha had some sort of mental disorder  (not properly described and thus, I could not come up with a diagnosis. Most likely, Schizophrenia) due to the stress of the trials that she had to go through after Lahuma passed away. There was one time when Jeha was traumatized by an encounter she had with a SNAKE ‘ular tedung selar’ at the paddy field (the snake is the decisive factor of why I choose my hashtag, LOL).  Jeha was even committed to Tanjung Rambutan at one point. It was so depressing and there was no happy ending!

Have I said that I hated it? So, I am saying it again. I hated it! Hahah

But Alhamdulillah, my version of #RanjauSepanjangJalan had a happy ending. Haha.

***

#RanjauSepanjangJalan: My MRCPsych Casc Hong Kong Story

Let me enumerate all my ordeals in a chronological order (because INTJs LOVE logical order):

Ranjau No 1: The Hong Kong riot

My two friends and I had already planned to take our CASC exam in Hong Kong in October even though we knew that there would also be one CASC exam in  the UK in September. The reason was financial in nature. I could not afford to go to the UK for my exam with the savings that I had at that time.

So I decided to do my CASC exam in Hong Kong. Even though I knew that there was a political turmoil going on in Hong Kong at that time (between the Hong Kong freedom fighters and the Hong Kong government who is subservient to the China mainland leadership; and it is still ongoing until now), I was hoping that the political upheaval would settle down by the time I would be going for the exam (yup, sometimes I am too unrealistically optimistic and it can be a bad thing. Haha).

Sadly, I was mistaken.

So some had advised me to cancel my plans to go to Hong Kong. But I had already paid for everything! So, I just decided to trust fate and go for it. In my mind, I was like “I can die anywhere. No one can escape death, right? You can die while you are in bed because your time on earth is up! So just go and hope for the best.” 

Some had suggested that I should just ask my parents for money to go to the UK. But I have never been the sort to do that. I was not brought up freely asking parents for money for non-necessities (and exam is not a necessity! I grew up during an economic downturn in 1997/1998 and I knew the value of money. I didn’t simply ask my parents for money as a child and I won’t do it as an adult). I used my own savings for all my exams… and if my parents wanted to sponsor anything, they freely offered it to me without me ever asking. I am an adult and I do not want to rely on their money. I made it a point to only spend on what I could afford myself (because I tak suka berhutang… even for credit cards)… but if they want to give me some money as a show of support for me, I will take it. But I don’t want to need it. It is a matter of pride and principle for me that even without their money, I could still take the exam with whatever I could afford myself. If I couldn’t afford something myself, I should simply adjust my needs and wishes according to priority.

I knew I could afford Hong Kong. And I knew I could not afford UK. It was a pretty straightforward decision, in my mind. My parents did offer to sponsor my flight ticket and hotel rooms … but by that time I had already paid for everything. Their money came as an extra I could replenish my bank account with. (Thank you, Mamita. You are awesome!)

So decisions had been made… and every day, my two study buddies and myself followed the news in Hong Kong, hoping things would settle down. But the situation persists until now.

Below is the picture of the Hong Kong police on standby in the MRT, preparing to deal with the riots. So yup, the Hong Kong riot was my first #Ranjau.

My Macbook screen cracked 

Just one month before my exam, my Macbook screen was somehow cracked and I could no longer use my Macbook to study. Unfortunately, all my notes and CASC videos were in my Macbook.

It was so stressful.

I checked the Swift store for the price of repairing or replacing the Macbook screen. I was heartbroken to find out that the cost was RM2100. That is almost the cost of a new Macbook.

At that time, I had just spent a large amount of money paying for my CASC exam, my flight tickets, and my hotel room and I had put aside some money for my expenses in Hong Kong. I could not justify spending more money that I didn’t have to repair my Macbook. There was an option of using my credit card… but like I said, I don’t like to do it. I am uncomfortable with unnecessary debts. I felt like perhaps, I could still study even without my laptop.

So I downloaded all the CASC videos into my mobile device (google drive app) and I just printed out my SPMM notes so that I could study without my laptop. The most amazing thing happened, my dear readers. I could focus better without my laptop to distract me. With my laptop, I tend to use more You Tube/ Netflix and social media. My brain no longer associated the usage of laptop for pure studying. Instead one can argue that laptop is now used more for entertainment than studying per se. Haha.

So without my laptop, I got more things done, Alhamdulillah. Sometimes Allah’s help comes in the form of calamity and we are without wisdom to know the reason behind what has happened. So trust Allah and do your best. Plan with what you have. It will never be ideal. If you can afford it, go ahead and buy a good laptop to help you study. But if you can’t, make the best of what you have. No one can say for sure that you would not succeed just because you lack certain material comforts. Just do your best with what you already have and pray that it would be enough. Remember that when things are difficult, it is not an ending unless it is a happy ending, ok?

URTI at the start of my study leave

You know, I am very bad at being sick. I would be so lethargic and would only stay in bed during weekends. When I go to work while having URTI, my friends can actually notice that I seem lethargic, irritable and less animated than usual. Even though it is just URTI! (other people handle URTI with much better poise and grace, I must admit. Well, not me. But I would still go to work because I could not justify getting MCs for URTI. However, at work, my suffering shows on my face. LOL).

You see, I am allergic to Paracetamol and NSAIDs. I don’t take any meds when I am sick or in pain. I could take Tramal, I suppose… but Tramal makes me dizzy and groggy.

But the good thing is, Alhamdulillah, I rarely got sick. But when I do, it hits me harder because I could not take anything for it.

Of all the time to get sick, I got sick just when I was starting my study leave. And it lasted a few days during which time I was quite unproductive with my study. That was a few days of my study leave wasted, my dear readers.

So many stressful ranjau, huh?

Interrupted study time during study leave

Those who knew me knew that I am a social hermit during exam times. I simply can stay in my house for an extended period of time without meeting anyone when I am studying. And I have no problems doing that because I am an introvert. I feel okay doing things alone and being alone. In fact, I am at my best when I am in peace, away from outside noise and disturbance. My hobbies are mostly solitary; reading, writing, blogging… even hiking, I can do it alone!

But CASC is not the sort of exam that you can study alone, I am sure fellow candidates know that. And this is a struggle for me. For the CASC practice during my study leave, I had to take a shower, dress up and wear tudung and all… and then go out and drove to the clinic to our study room to practice with my study buddies… those activities took precious time AWAY from my studying and memorizing tasks! While I was doing Paper A and Paper B, I could cover a lot of topics because I didn’t have to take a shower until I was about to perform my Zohor prayer….I could study continuously without pause from the time I woke up until around Zohor time. There was no need for me to get out of my house at all because I didn’t get involved in any study group for Paper A and Paper B. And to me, I studied better that way. I don’t like interruptions in my task once I have gained the right momentum and have zoned out into the task. But with CASC prep, just when I was getting into the task, suddenly I had to stop my studying and prepare to go out for study group meeting. There were many frequent pauses instead of continuous studying. I don’t like that kind of pauses and disturbances.

So in a lot of ways, CASC was a challenge for me because there was a huge deviation in my study patterns.

Also, around this time, my parents went for umrah and left our cats outside their home in the cage. They had hired someone to come every day to feed the cats so that I wouldn’t have to go out of my house and drive to their house just to feed the cats. Unfortunately, due to frequent storms in Alor Setar (and thus causing electrical power outage), the automatic gate in their house got stuck a few times during my study leave, and I had to go settle the matter so that the lady my mother hired to feed the cats could enter the house and feed the cats. But when you think about it, I might as well feed the cats myself since I had to go out anyway to let the lady in. Adeh! Really… this was also an interruption for me.

These are the kind of  things that don’t bother most people. I know that. But it bothered me because I was not used to studying with this kind of frequent interruptions. I am the sort of person who plans my activities and I always have things to do. Unforeseen interruptions are mostly unwelcome to me. (Even when I am free, I have fictions to read. So I don’t actually have free time because whenever I have free time, my default mode would be to automatically pick up a book. That’s how I rest. Or I will sleep. Sleeping is also an activity…the purpose of which is to gain good rest for your next activity. So really… what free time do I have? None! So be honoured if I spend my time with you. If your plan is sudden but I accommodate you anyway, it must mean that you are important enough to me to the point that I am willing to alter my plans for you… otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it! LOL. I am the sort of person who is not comfortable with people saying “Let’s see how it turns out”, to explore what happens next. Adoi! I am more comfortable with “Let’s plan how this is going to happen” Hahha.)

But deep inside my heart, I wonder if this is probably Allah’s way of teaching me to be more flexible, to be more comfortable with sudden interruptions and to be less bothered by unforeseen circumstances. I mean, I have to grow as a person. And flexibility is my area of deficit and weakness. And maybe this is something I need to grow to be good at. (Well, that was what I told myself as I was dealing with those interruptions. It was actually a form of self-consolation LOL) All these while, my family and friends accommodated my needs for certain orders and I have no reason to change and be more flexible. To me… being on time is good. Having a plan is good. Why should I change? Convince me that your method of “no plan, no specific time, and let’s see” is better than my method. LOL.

So I have never had to be flexible. Because people adjust to me (and in their opinion, they were compromising. To me, they were not compromising… they were just doing the right thing. They were not following me per se; they were just following the right way and the efficient way of doing things. If they could come up with a more efficient and timely way of doing things, I would follow them too. Nowadays, I can be flexible with change of plans. But I am still very particular about time! I don’t think I will ever change in that!)

So it takes these kind of unforeseen interruptions to make me be more flexible. I could not blame anyone for electrical outage following a storm… so I simply had to adjust, right? Storms are natural occurrences. They happen through nobody’s fault. There is no specific time for storms to happen too. Haha! And if I am going to learn to be more flexible, I can only learn when something like this happens! Things that are beyond my control and NOT caused by someone’s lack of punctuality or someone’s lack of efficiency. Otherwise, I would never change. And Allah knows that. So He taught me how to be flexible in this way.

Well, as it turns out, I was going to need the lesson when I arrived in Hong Kong.

Luggage Lost In Hong Kong Airport

Okay, in general, I don’t trust Air Asia airlines. I have always been loyal to MAS. But my Chinese travel buddies (who were also my tour guide in navigating the Hong Kong MRT from the airport to our hotel at BlueJay Residences) preferred to book the Air Asia flight because it was cheaper. So I followed their plan (because I needed them since I could not speak Mandarin or Kantonese) and we booked the Air Asia flight from KLIA2 to Hong Kong.

But because I didn’t trust Air Asia, I decided to place all my exam stuff (the exam documents, some of my exam notes, my exam outfit, my exam shoes and some miniature toiletries) into my hand luggage so that if my checked-in baggage somehow got lost, I would still have the most important stuff with me.

See? It’s not so bad being a rigid planner, right? Part of being a rigid planner is anticipating bad things that might happen and make contingency plans for it.

Because my dear readers…yes, my baggage did not arrive with me in Hong Kong. Adeh! Even though I had most of my important stuff with me, but I also STILL needed some of the stuff in my baggage. I didn’t have any other change of clothes other than my exam clothes. My contact-lens solution was also inside my checked-in baggage. The books that  I had planned to read in the next two days before the exam were also in the baggage (even though I did have the more important notes with me in my hand luggage. Still, it was a bother!)  I also had my Brahim’s pre-cooked food inside my baggage… so, my source of halal sustenance for the next 5 days was lost to me. I remember thinking, “I am going to have to shop for bread… and hopefully they have IndoMie here. Takkan nak makan roti sampai 5 hari!”

And to make matters worse, I had only very limited funds with me because I did not expect to have to pay for anything other than taxi fares. And Hong Kong is an expensive city.  In a lot of ways, I was really unprepared to deal with a lost baggage.

Below is a video of me walking around town searching for cheap clothes, only half an hour after I had reached the hotel. I was tired after the journey from Malaysia to Hong Kong…. I had wanted to rest and then get some study done at night. But instead, I spent most of the afternoon walking around town to replenish some of my supplies and then I slept that night without studying because I was so exhausted.

Thinking back, sleeping without studying when the exam was so near was a HUGE change of plans, for me. It was something I would never have done in the past. But I guess, I was finally able to be flexible about the whole thing. *A proud moment for me. LOL* Or maybe, I was just too tired to stick to my plan and thus to make myself feel better, I simply chalked it up to me being flexible. Haha.

 

Luckily, later at midnight, I received an email from Hong Kong airport service that they had been successful in tracing my baggage and I could pick it up the next morning. Dr. C was so nice when she offered to go back with me to the airport to pick up the luggage with me.  She was worried that I would get lost if I went out by myself. Again, we had actually planned to study the next morning…. but we had to pick up my baggage at the airport instead. Again… I dealt with the change of plans with as much poise and grace as I could. LOL. Throughout the journey to and from the airport, Dr. C and I practiced our CASC stations on the train. For someone who hate practicing or studying in a noisy environment, I have to say that I did quite well adjusting to it. *Proud Of Myself*

It’s good to know that at the end of the day…. I could still go back to my survival principle of “You have to do what you have to do. If you have to adapt, then you have to adapt and do it!” Alhamdulillah, Thank You Allah for letting me adjust to the whole drama of lost baggage with manageable level of stress. I don’t think I could have handled it well if I hadn’t had the practice during my study leave, courtesy of the storms. LOL.

Below is the video of me using a hair dryer to dry my clothes after washing it…because I really did not have any more change of clothes.

 

The whole experience taught me that indeed, I could live with less. We can always make do and we can find ways to deal with having less. In that short time when I was without most of my stuff, I realized that I could still survive with whatever I had in my hand luggage. I just had to be frugal enough in my spending, and only spend on cheap food for the next few days (I did find bread and IndoMie for dinner) and I just had to be diligent enough to wash my clothes frequently and use  the hairdryer. There was one point when I came to the conclusion that, “Yup, even if the airport service never found my luggage, I will adjust to this just fine. I just had  to put in more effort, that’s all. But I can do this.” (I was surprised that I could think this way. Previously, it would take much longer for me to snap out of any disappointment and to feel okay about an undesirable situation, given my ruminating tendencies. Haha)

Not one hour after reaching that conclusion, I received an e-mail from the airport service that they had been successful in tracing my luggage. Alhamdulillah. Perhaps – I’d like to believe – that Allah wanted to teach me a lesson about dealing with delays and interrupted plans in a calm manner. Perhaps He wanted me to learn how to make the best out of botched plans and still be okay about it. And having learned the lesson by coming to the conclusion that adjusting is not that hard, He returned my stuff back for me as a reward.

Alhamdulillah.

And here comes the snake to complete my #RanjauSepanjangJalan

On the day I arrived in Hong Kong, my brother-in-law went to my parents’ house to feed the cats because again, the automatic gate did not function and thus, the lady my mother hired to feed the cats could not enter the house. Before going to Hong Kong, I had passed over the job of dealing with the gate and feeding the cat to my brother-in-law (Alida’s husband).

While dealing with my luggage being lost at the airport, suddenly I received a Whatsapp message from my younger sister, Alida, telling me that her husband had found a snake on top of the cats’ cage. Oh my God.. I had just arrived in Hong Kong with a lost luggage, and now there was a snake posing a danger to the well-being of my beloved cats!

Could the day go any worse? I wondered to myself with a heavy chest.

Luckily, the snake did not yet had the opportunity to bite my two cats. Kuja and Ku-Ni removed themselves from their customary position at the top of the cage and stayed at the lower level of the cage. I have another cat named Ku-Shan but she was in another cage and was not in any immediate danger like Kuja and Ku-Ni were.

When I saw the picture of the snake lying on top of my cats’ cage, I felt my stomach drop. The snake was not exactly as big as a python but it was not small either! And I didn’t know what type of snake it was and whether or not it was a dangerous kind.

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I just told Alida to call abang Bomba because I really didn’t think it was safe for my borther-in-law to deal with the snake himself. At that time I was thinking…. wow… my CASC journey this time was filled with such tribulations from the very beginning, culminating in the appearance of a snake threatening my beloved cats. I had double whammy of worries to deal with simultaneously… lost baggage in a foreign country, limited amount of money to deal with the difficulties and the fear for the safety of my beloved cats. What else could go wrong? Hopefully, my exam will be something that goes right, I remember wishing. Please God, let this be the last #Ranjau, I had prayed hard. (But no, my dear readers.  It turned out that the tough exam was my last #Ranjau. Haha! Adeh.)

While telling my sisters in our siblings Whatsapp Group about my bad day, I joked with them that what I had been going through for the past few weeks reminded me of the novel Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan by Shahnon Ahmad. “In fact, there was even a plot involving a snake in that story,” I told them. They all concurred wholeheartedly.

And it was thus that the hashtag #RanjauSepanjangJalan was born in describing my CASC trials and tribulations.

 

***

After the exam, my friends and I were left dazed by the level of difficulties that we had encountered in the exam. We felt like some Asian actors in the CASC stations were not helpful and were withholding information despite us having asked plenty of open ended questions. We wondered whether their level of English was not sufficient to be able to provide us with a good answer when we asked for it during the exam. We noticed that the Caucasian actors were more helpful and forthcoming in giving information when we asked an open ended question. (Some of the candidates, including myself, had written a complaint about it to the college. We felt like the college should know about this so that it won’t happen again in the future. I will, Insya Allah, write about this in my next post. So stay tuned, yeah?).

We were quite worried about how our results would be. But what is done is done. It was time to hope for the best.

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Our worried face, after the exam

Right after the exam, we went sight-seeing at Aberdeen… not like there was anything much to see. It was just a fishing village, really. So, we simply went for a short boat ride, had our dinner and then went back to the hotel.

 

 

The next day, I went to Ocean Park which is a popular theme park in Hong Kong to reward myself after the crazy exam and to have a reason to shout on top of my lungs while riding the roller coaster. We wanted to go to Disneyland initially, but then we found out that there was probably going to be a riot there. So we had to cancel the plan. It was so sad because really, I have never been to Disneyland before. And I was so looking forward to it.

But again… I was getting better with change of plans these days. Hahah. So we improvised on the plan and went to the Ocean Park instead, which was also an enjoyable outing, Alhamdulillah.

 

I enjoyed the 20 minutes cable car ride.

 

I also enjoyed watching various species of sharks in the shark aquarium. I had never seen a shark before… so I told myself that this outing was also educational. Haha.

 

This one below was an insane ride. They turned us over 360 degrees up the sky. It was crazy fun! Greater thrill than the roller coaster! (By this time, you will probably know that I am a thrill junkie. Hahha. Which is quite weird considering that I am an introvert. But when I do decide to have fun, I REALLY do it! I just feel like, if I am not going to pass this exam, at least, I have had some fun out of my Hong Kong trip. LOL. Otherwise, it would truly be wasted money.)

 

I am glad that after all the misadventures and the #RanjauSepanjangJalan I had had, Allah gave me the happy ending that Shahnon Ahmad did not create for Lahuma and Jeha. Haha.

And for that, Your slave is forever grateful, Ya Rabb.

And to those who did not make it in CASC this time, Allah will give you your own happy ending one fine day. You will do well, next time. Keep practicing and pray hard for the best outcome. Do not give up. It is just a matter of time and you too will make it in the end, Insya Allah.

There will be times when you feel like nothing will go right and everything is always going wrong in your life. Hang on… pause for a minute. Exam is not everything, at the end of the day. It is great when you pass any exam. But not passing it is not the end of the world. There are OTHER aspects of your life that are equally important. And Allah certainly had taught me about that when I failed my first CASC attempt just a few months prior. So I do know what I am talking about. Some lessons must be learned the hard way… and it will make you a much better person, Insya Allah.

I do receive a lot of personal messages through Facebook asking me about MRCPsych and CASC. There were some personal messages from Master students too (not just in Psychiatry but in other fields as well). Some asked me practical questions about the exam which I always tried to reply when I had  time… but I did not always have the ability to reply to everyone. And I am sorry about that.

Some contacted me to ventilate about their difficulties and trials while pursuing their post-graduate studies and I myself could not help much because I did not know some of them who had contacted me through Facebook. I could not tailor my advice accordingly when I don’t know you. In psychiatry, there is no place for generic advice when dealing with contextual problems. And I regret that I really could not help much. Please seek professional help if you feel like you need support to go through your difficulties in life. I could not help you through Facebook, as much as I wanted to.

But know that whatever difficulties you had in your life, it will pass. You will learn a great life lessons out of it! It serves a purpose. Nothing that Allah does is random. Believe it!

So to those who are feeling hopeless while facing their difficulties, I created this post for you. I might not be able to respond to all of you personally, but I hope you can get some hope and motivation out of what I had written. I wish you would know that I had had my difficulties too and in the end, I made it by the grace of Allah.

I repeat, it is not an ending unless it is a happy ending. So, bersangka baiklah with your Lord. And you will get what you expect from your Lord. I am not saying these things out of my own mind… but this is Allah’s words in hadis Qudsi.

Aku mengikut sangkaan hambaKu kepada Ku, Aku bersamanya (memberi rahmat dan membelanya) apabila dia mengingati Ku. Jika mereka megingati Ku dalam dirinya nescaya Aku menyebutnya dalam diri Ku. Apabila mereka menyebut nama Ku dalam kumpulan nescaya Aku menyebutnya dalam kumpulan yang lebih baik daripada mereka. Jika mereka menghampiri Ku sejengkal, Aku mendekati mereka sehasta. Jika mereka menghampiri Ku sehasta Aku mendekati mereka sedepa dan apabila mereka datang kepada KU dalam keadaan berjalan, Aku datang kepada mereka berlari’

(Hadith Bukhairi & Muslim)

Until next time, my dear readers. Much love and may Allah bless all of us.

Remembering The Grace Of Allah

I know. I know.

I know… that it has been more than 2 months since I last wrote in this humble blog of mine. For the countless times, I had broken my promise to write consistently, at least once per month. But, my dear readers… trust me…. I have some really good reasons for not blogging once per month as I had promised.

Reason No 1: My Macbook screen was cracked and broken a few days after I posted my last blog post in August. And I took my sweet time repairing my Macbook screen because the repair cost was too expensive for me, especially since I had just spent a lot of money to pay for my CASC exam. I just couldn’t afford to repair my Macbook screen just yet. (Very good reason, no?)

Reason No 2: Exam! (Enough said. LOL)

My CASC exam was held on the 18th of October 2019 in Hong Kong. I am not exaggerating when I say it was the hardest exam of my life. At the end of the exam I felt like crying bloody tears. There were 16 CASC stations altogether and we were allocated 7 minutes to perform the task in any particular station. My problem with CASC was that I always felt like I didn’t have enough time to perform the task to my heart satisfaction. So, there would be times when I covered enough depth… but not the range that was required to pass the task. That was what happened during my first CASC attempt. My study partners were always telling me “You tak payah tanya dah yang lain-lain tu. Cukup criteria for diagnosis, move on. Tak payah tanya everything. Banyak lagi nak tanya….past psychiatric history, family history, risk assessment, coping, drug and alcohol. Kalau tanya detail sangat, yang lain-lain tak sempat. ”

Okay, but that is my problem. I whiningly told my friends “Susahlah. Aku rasa tak puas kalau aku tak tanya bagi habis semua symptoms for that diagnosis even if symptoms yang aku dah dapat tu dah cukup untuk diagnose. Tapi mungkin dia ada more symptoms yang aku tak cover lagi, right?” I would still feel like I might have missed something. That was the OCPD part of me that was ugh!! really troublesome for me. I just didn’t have enough time to cover the task for each station to my heart satisfaction.

There was a time when I had to give myself a serious pep talk. “Afiza, this is not about your heart satisfaction. This is about the examiner’s satisfaction! Please get this into your head! Just because you have covered the depth that is required to make the diagnosis, you still wouldn’t pass if you didn’t cover the range of the marking scheme. Range and depth! Not depth alone! 7 minutes is all you have and you cannot be too detailed on just one thing. Prioritize! Come on!”

CASC is so different compared to Part A and Part B. In Part A and Part B, I could still indulge my OCPD-ness to a certain extent. For example, for each question in Part A and Part B… even if I already knew that the answer was E, in my head I would still go through my own method of reasoning regarding why A, B, C and D were not correct. I just had to check and double check each answer even when the correct answer was quite obvious already in the first glance. I did all that because… yup, I have some OCPD traits that just could not be ignored at times. LOL.

But CASC was a whole new ball game. I had to learn to think quickly and to not ruminate. I had to learn to cover just enough in depth and then quickly move on so that I could cover the breadth/range of the task. It took hard, intensive practice for me to overcome and suppress my obsessive tendency but Alhamdulillah… as the exam date was geting near, I was able to overcome the urge to dwell on one thing in too great a depth. But ah… it was hard. I am the ruminating type. When something doesn’t make sense or when a story just doesn’t have enough details to it, well… it bothered me. (Which kind of explains why even as a child, I had a lot of questions about anything that was taught to me especially in learning the religion. The same obsessive ruminating trait that was so bad in exam, was the same trait that allowed me to discover the beauty of having real faith and real conviction in my religion. Because I questioned stuff, I now understand Islam better and it was the best thing that could ever happen to me especially when I was in my early 20s. So yeah… I don’t always regret having this OCPD trait. But I must admit it can be troublesome in certain situations… such as in exams. LOL).

***

There was one time when I was so frustrated while studying for CASC that I felt like giving up. Seriously… CASC is the worst exam for many of us. The financial burden was huge! Some people had to borrow their parents’ money to take CASC exam one more time because they had already run out of all their savings courtesy of previous payments of past CASC attempts.

Some of the candidates were already consultants or specialists in their own countries… but they took this MRCPSYCH & CASC so that they could work in the UK. They were so much more senior than us…. what chance do we have in competing with these people?

There were also times when I felt angry at myself for not passing CASC the first time. Doctors are always hard on themselves when they don’t pass exams, you know. Because the experience of failure is so rare and far in between. Most doctors are top students their whole lives. When they got into medical school, then they realized that there were so many other people who were just as good and clever as them, if not better. Then they would feel overwhelmed by the competition. And if they actually fail, they would feel like the stupidest person on earth. Even though failing your professional exam is quite common, it is still a bitter experience for any doctor to have to undergo.

Alhamdulillah, Allah created me with an ability to self-motivate. I am a very optimistic person, in general. And for that, I thank my parents very much. My father always encouraged repeated efforts in order to gain success. The concept of putting in an effort was very prominent in my upbringing. “Kena usaha! Sampai dapat!”. And until now, I internalize that concept. And it is a very motivating concept. Because my dear readers, Allah sees your effort. And I believe it wholeheartedly and behave accordingly. I don’t believe that my effort guarantees anything. I just believe that effort is required to qualify for God’s help. And I need His help in everything that I do. And therefore I have to make myself qualified for His help. So I put in my effort, hoping it would be enough.

And it is true that it is in the remembrance of Allah that the heart finds rest. It is really difficult to feel bitter about not passing an exam when I know that Allah has blessed me in every other aspect of my life so mercifully… that it would be very stupidly ungrateful of me to indulge in endless self-pity. I was afraid that Allah would punish me for being an ungrateful slave. Very difficult to pity myself after that. LOL.

One of the ways I calm myself is by reading and writing, which is something that I am sure you guys already know about me. I love reading stories and seerah. I also love composing poems of religious themes because I think they are motivating, uplifting, always relevant…. well, Islamic poems are evergreen, no? Because Islam will always be relevant in our daily lives as Muslims.

So I wrote a poem to remind me to be a grateful slave of Allah. To always be mindful that I also have another test to pass. The test of patience and fortitude and the test of NOT despairing of Allah’s mercy. And the outcome of this test would only be revealed in the hereafter which makes it far more important to me than passing CASC would ever be in this world. It doesn’t even begin!! to compare!

So I moulded my thinking accordingly and asked Allah to forgive me. I wrote the poem below around 3 weeks before my CASC exam in order to gather my thoughts properly. It was the most therapeutic thing I had done in a long time. The title of my poem is Remember.

REMEMBER

Once upon a time,
I stretched my arms faithfully upward
Supplicating in silent soulful solitude
Hoping You would deign to look downward
And grant Your slave in prayer stood
All the wishes and dreams of her heart
to fly to heavens, a brand new start.

But the hand of fate was full of pain
Dreams of mine went down the drain
I wondered why my prayers were in vain
When You have the power to grant my gain.

Did I not to You faithfully worship?
That You had so forsaken me
Have I not for You a love so deep?
That You entirely shunned me
Have You withdrawn from me Your favour?
To bleed my heart all over.

But immediately I felt a twinge of shame
What You must think of me, I’d take the blame
As I imagined the response You exclaim
To this ungrateful slave that I became.

Remember Ya Ibadi,
When you prayed to me with outstretched hand
For things you thought I wouldn’t grant
Instead I bestowed you a better one
Gratefulness for Me you displayed scant.

Remember Ya Ibadi,
Sins You committed I’d overlooked
Without you begging My pardon
Still your soul-cleansing I undertook
All that you lost I then returned.

Remember Ya Ibadi,
All the promises to Me that you broke
Hoping it would be of little concern
Still your heart purification I undertook
Your will and resolve I then hardened.

Remember Ya Ibadi,
Good things happened you didn’t ask how
Glorious miracles you asked to allow
They happened without your bargaining vow
How could you forget all my blessings now?

Remember Ya Ibadi,
Did you suppose things happened in coincidence?
Did you not see the purpose in all happenstance?
Should everything go your way in every instance?
What do you suppose your reason of existence?

I remember now, Ya Ilahi,
And fervently I promise to do better
Pardon this slave, in need of Your favour
Forgive my sins past, present and future
Have mercy on my soul now till the hereafter
Only to You I place my worries, my fear
I accept Your decrees, doubts burst asunder
Whatever transpires, to My Lord I surrender.

-Afiza Azmee-
29/09/2019
6.00 pm

***

Dear readers,

Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, has bestowed upon me his blessing once again.

Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah. A wave of happiness and gratitude filled my heart so overwhelmingly that my eyes teared up as I informed my parents the happy news. That I have passed my CASC exam.

I imagine that once upon a time when Allah had created the story of my life in the Luh Mahfuz, He had probably written “Today, Afiza will be filled with happiness for passing her CASC exam.”

Alhamdulillah, Ya Rabb.

 

 

 

 

Freedom & Independence

Dear readers,

The month of August is the month of Independence for Malaysians. And therefore I thought it would be nice to share with you guys how I view the concept of freedom and independence and why I believe that they are not the same but are very much related to one another.

This is just my own point of view and everyone is free to think differently. Those who have followed my blog since I was in medical school would understand how frequently I write about freedom. How preferentially I choose which fictions to buy based on the plot revolving on freedom. I value it very much. I believe that being relatively independent (and therefore, more free compared to those who are relatively dependent) is mandatory if you want to be a good person or a good Muslim. I believe that it is a religious obligation and a religious principle for you to keep yourself as independent as possible because without independence, you can be oppressed, coerced, thwarted from doing the right thing because you have no other choice.

***

My General Philosophy On Freedom

What is independence to you?

I might be the odd one out here but I don’t really think that independence is the end goal that we should aim for. Independence is only a TOOL…. and it is a relative one too! Because we are always dependent on something or someone, one way or another. We are dependent on the oxygen we breathe to stay alive, aren’t we? (haha I know that is an extreme example, lol). As a Muslim, we believe that we are always dependent on The Almighty for our every sustenance. We are also dependent on our family and friends for social and emotional support. No man is an island, right? We are all inter-dependent. We also learned about organisms interdependence in the food-chain chapter of our Standard 4 Science subject, didn’t we? (well, during my time, at least. Nowadays, the kids might be learning it in the kindy!).

I like the word freedom better in describing our end-goal in life. We can be inter-dependent while still being free to make our own decision and chart our own course in life. Just because I am dependent on you in certain aspect of my life, it doesn’t mean that I cannot have my own will and choose my own actions. You can disapprove my decision and hence choose to withdraw aid/resource/support from me, and I am sure I will be affected to a certain extent… but there are OTHER aspects of my life that has nothing to do with you whatsoever and therefore it wouldn’t be fair for you to dictate to me what I should do that doesn’t affect you just because I am dependent on you in one particular aspect only. I can choose to depend on other people as well to give me what you are not willing to give. So, go ahead, condemn me, threaten to withdraw aid/support…. I will just find a more compatible entity to be inter-dependent with.

But in order to boldly state that sentiment to ANYONE, we must be inter-dependent ‘just enough’ and no further. In other words, we should not be dependent on others for survival matters… but only for matters of comfort. So that if people try to get us to do their unjust bidding, we can just say “Look buddy, don’t overstep your boundaries with me. What makes you think you are so important that I cannot just walk away and find my resources elsewhere? It’s not like I need you to survive, ok?”

That is freedom! Irrespective of how dependent we are on anyone! Freedom is a mindset and our end-goal.

And any free, sovereign country should be able to say that to any other country who might be trying to manipulate us just because we are dependent on them on certain things. Our official foreign policy is based on the principle of neutrality and maintaining peaceful relations with all countries, regardless of their political system. During the time of cold war between the Soviet Unions and the US, we did not favour one political system over the other. And that is the only wise stand that a small, non-powerful but proud and sovereign country can have. Neither can use us against the other. We form our own independent opinion based on issues and how it affects our own interest. In certain issues (like the support of the US for Israel’s terrorism towards the Palestinians) we will condemn the US and Israel. But at the same time, in championing democracy and human rights, we will support the Western countries. We can warn Philippine to beware of China’s debt-trap while at the same time support China in its trade-war against the US by not banning Huawei in our country. See how great it is when we do not limit ourselves to a sense of false loyalty (to any organization or party) but instead, we choose our stand CAREFULLY by analyzing on issues!

Freedom or free-will is the concept being debated back and forth among theologians too. Some have posed the questions of “Do humans have free will… or has everything been pre-determined by God?” Very interesting debate. You can check it out on You Tube.

In Islam we believe that we’re free to choose our actions but God has the ultimate control over the outcome of those actions. According to the teaching of Islam, Allah has given humans free will to make choices in their lives but only God has foreknowledge of our destiny.

See? Freedom is our birthright given by God. Whereas independence is just a tool to reach freedom. No one is truly independent! But free? Yes… we are truly free!

“Come on, are you saying everyone is TRULY FREE? We have the law to abide by and we have our own culture that we are bound to. Violate them at your own peril.” some might point out.

Yes! I really am saying that we are free! It is our birthright, guaranteed by God. We are free to make our own choices. And we are also free to face the consequences of our choices. If it means going to jail and losing our physical freedom, then yes, you are free to make the choice that might lead to that. Just because you are afraid of the possible consequences and therefore refrain from doing any particular action, it doesn’t mean you are not free. It just means that you have weighed the risks and benefits of your actions and choose not to do certain actions because you are not willing to pay the price for it. But if you REALLY want to do those actions regardless of the consequences, can anyone stop you? No!

So, you DO have free will!

But because we are dependent on our surroundings and our society, we exercise our free will cautiously by weighing the risks and benefits of our actions.

For example, when someone said that they were not willing to fight the ex-PM Najib while BN was in power back then (or not willing to fight their HO-molesting or HO-assaulting boss, for those working in MOH), “because their hands were tied and they were not free to fight against him who is more powerful”, what they were REALLY saying was “Look, I know I am free to fight and go against anyone. Not like anyone can stop me if I am REALLY determined to do it. But I have weighed the risks and benefits of fighting my boss and I don’t think I can do it. My job and my livelihood is dependent on him. So, I am sorry.”

(Well, weren’t you sorry when Najib lose the election? Weren’t you sorry when your HO-assaulting boss got sacked from MOH? Now, you are saying that you, the enablers of immorality, had nothing to do with what your boss did? You had your chance to do something about it. You were not REALLY that un-free. You just weighed the risks and benefits and decided not to fight for your principles, didn’t you?)

This is why….. the more dependent you are, the more cautiously you exercise your free-will. This is why if you value your freedom, you will be hesitant (and in my case, paranoid hahah) about being too dependent, if you can help it. There are times when you cannot help it. Recognize why and make plans for the future so that you won’t be placed in a similar situation.

free

***

Financial Independence & Freedom

In the past, your inability to pay your own debts can cause you to be enslaved, did you know that? This is called debt-bondage or debt-slavery. This is SO SCARY because debt bondage could be passed from one generation to the next. If you were unlucky enough to be born from parents who were debt-enslaved, you have been dealt a terrible hand by fate. You were born physically enslaved (but hopefully, you are free in your mind. No one can enslave your mind if you don’t allow it! And you must NOT allow it! Freedom is a mindset too, remember?)

freedom-is-a-mindset-34601957

Similarly, we heard phrases in our modern era like “enslaved by debt”. Think about this!

Think about a person who is juggling his house mortgage, his car loans, and all the items he bought via instalments… things that he bought because he wanted a certain level of lifestyle that he used to be able to live without! Wouldn’t the thought of debts weigh heavily in his mind every single day, robbing him of happiness and contentment in his life? Wouldn’t he lose his passion for working if he found himself having to do a lot of overtime (or locum works, in the case of doctors) in order to pay his debts? Would he dare to firmly state his opinion even if it is different from the popular opinion of his colleagues or his superiors if he has to always be careful because he wouldn’t dare to jeopardize his current job in any way, shape or form?

“Aku kerja sebab aku perlu duit. Kalau aku cakap banyak, orang tak suka kat aku pula. Nanti aku nak pi kerja pun jadi tak syok. Nak berhenti kerja pun tak boleh juga sebab aku banyak hutang ni. So buat ja lah macam biasa. Boss molest pekerja ke, assault pekerja ke, pandai-pandai lah mangsa bela diri sendiri. Kalau boss songlap duit syarikat dan cakap itu derma from Saudi Arabia pun… what to do? Apa aku boleh buat? Bukan tanggungjawab aku.”

Hmm… this is the mentality of someone who is NOT financially-free. Just come to work, do the most minimal you can get away with, no need to uphold anything of human principles and values and at the end of your shift… just go home. Sad, isn’t it?

And whether or not you are financially-free has nothing to do with the objective state of your income. A cleaner can have financial freedom by living within his/her means whereas a CEO might have to file for bankruptcy! Whether or not you can attain financial freedom has A LOT to do with your ability to maintain your lifestyle according to your income!

If I have X amount of money, I am going to make sure my mortgage, my car loan, and my lifestyle is less than X-amount every month! That I have enough savings for a rainy day! I am not going to upgrade my lifestyle every time I get a hike in my salary. I am not the sort of person who would have multiple houses or multiple cars just because I can afford it. One house to live in and one car to get me from one place to another is enough for me.

The rest of the money will be used for the sake of increasing my independence. I finance and service my independence, regularly. Because the more independent I am (even though as I said, no one can be truly independent) the more liberally (and the less cautiously) I can exercise my free will. 

Freedom is expensive. It is knowing that if things happened, you have money to tide you over until you can find the next job. It is knowing that if things happened, you have money to sue people and take legal actions. It is knowing that if either of your parents or your child are not well, you can take unpaid leave to care for them because you have enough savings to do so or maybe you can hire a nurse to care for them while you continue working (instead of IRRESPONSIBLY taking multiple ELs and causing trouble to your colleagues… or not settling the issues that crop up in your marriage causing you to take multiple MCs from psychiatry department by using your psychiatric diagnosis to not come to work! And you cannot settle your marriage problems because you don’t have money to hire a lawyer to fight for you for proper divorce settlements! So your marriage will continue to be the perpetuating factor to your depression because you JUST CANNOT SETTLE YOUR PROBLEMS! And you continue using your diagnosis to irresponsibly MIA from work!)

But how can you hire a nurse to care for your sick family members while continuing to go to work if you have multiple mortgages and loans? Your financial freedom is gone because you have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle that NO ONE force you to maintain yourself at.

The more materials you have, the more care and time needed to invest on them! Instead of the materials making your life comfortable, they are making your life more difficult. It always annoys me when I have to pay my ‘cukai pintu/cukai tanah/car insurance’ because I would start thinking that these are the money I won’t need to spend if I don’t own these materials. Lagi besar periuk, lagi besar keraknya, isn’t it? It always annoys me when I have to spend time cleaning my house because I feel like the time spent cleaning my house can be used for reading fiction! (Hahha… forgive me and my stereotypical, repetitive routine of fiction reading!) I used to live well with just having one room when I was a student at the uni and I didn’t remember my life back then as lacking anything in particular! But because I now have a house, I have to invest even more time and money for these materials that in the end, I could actually live just as well with less! What’s wrong with just renting a studio? Less cleaning time, less maintenance expenses! What’s wrong with just using public transport (especially if you are living in a Western country where public transport is amazingly reliable)? Why not use the extra money that you save for not having these materials by travelling and improving your mind and your view of the world?

This is the basis of the Japanese Zen-concept of minimalism and simplicity. (Mary Kondo, anyone? LOL!)

In Islam, we have the concept of ‘bersederhana’ or wasatiyyah which means best, middle, centered, balanced. It refers to the “middle way” or “moderation”, a justly balanced way of life, avoiding extremes and experiencing things in moderation. (But, of course we all have different needs. What is moderate to you, might be too much for me or vice versa. You know best what kind of lifestyle suits you better. But what I am saying is… be sensible. Don’t go overboard with materialism.)

So when my parents suggested that I changed my car because they felt like it was time to kind-of upgrade hahha, I just told them “The only reason I am going to change my car would be because the car can no longer be used or for some other practical or safety reason. As long as the car can safely and comfortably bring me from point A to point B, I am okay to use the same one.”

Likewise, I am not interested to invest money in properties. To me, if I have an urgent need of money, what would usually happen is I am going to have to sell the plot of land or the house at a cheaper price, won’t I? Because my financial need is urgent, how can I wait for better offers? And I might not even have finished paying the bank for those plot of land or house, in the first place! So whatever cheap offers I have to settle at, a large chunk of it still need to be used to pay the bank first before I can use the money urgently! Too much leceh-ness and paperwork and procedures! I hate it!

Compare that to investing in gold! Acquiring gold is a straightforward process. Just walk into any gold/jewelry shop and pay for them and I am done! Minimal paperworks and no complicated procedures! I can also get money stat whenever I need it by pawning them off! I might as well invest in gold jewelries which I can also use to accessorize my outfit haha. So practical, isn’t it? I just love, love, love simple things like that!

When it comes to financial aspect of things, my aim is to stay liquid! I don’t want to be tied up in assets that are going to use up more of my money and time to care for them. Because I use my money to buy me independence… as the road to freedom (of speech, of action, of movement)! Not to buy materials which I don’t need and which also troubles me with all their maintenance and up-keep and taxes!

This is my financial freedom philosophy. I know some people would think about it differently. Some people straight-out advocate for property investments! But not me. This financial freedom philosophy works for me for now. You can even call it my over-valued ideas. I am paranoid, even, about losing my freedom! Perhaps I was influenced by the books that I read… the struggles that other people had written about breaking away from oppression. I pray to God, I will not be placed in such a situation.

Whenever I talk about financial freedom, I would reflexively think about the doa below that I repeat every time I perform my prayer. Notice that ‘being heavily in debt’ and ‘being overpowered by other men’ are being grouped together! Amazing, isn’t it!? Once you are in debt, you are VERY VULNERABLE to being overpowered! If you value your freedom above extravagant lifestyle, you will NOT put yourself unnecessarily in a position of being in heavy debts!

Screenshot 2019-08-30 11.45.48
Have you noticed how being heavily in debt and being over-powered by men are being grouped together? Because they are very related!

In terms of the state of the country, remember how everyone was worried about China debt-trap? Makes sense, isn’t it…how debt can restrict your freedom! A lot of countries have fallen trap to China debt and some even said that Malaysia was also at the brink of it during the time of Najib! Some are not even sure if we have truly been saved from it, anyway!

My take home message is: FEAR DEBT! You can lose your principle and your very soul because of debts! Don’t do it to yourself, I beg you.

***

Other Factors Can Restrict Freedom Too…

Other than financial debt, there are other ways that your freedom can be restricted. Your freedom can be restricted by forming bad relationships that you then become stuck with, for example. But unlike financial debts, this can be easily managed by having some willpower and by coming up with strategies to modify the behaviour of the people around you so that you can have some breathing space.

rsz_1screen_shot

People have also gotten into financial problems by forming bad relationships and lost their money due to having to finance a ‘biawak hidup’ in their lives. Some of these biawak hidups are drug-addicts who exploit their partners financially. But if you have a concept of how your freedom is highly related to sound financial independence, you wouldn’t have tolerated this biawak hidup for long because you want to protect your freedom. Right?

No?

There are times when I despair at the fate of women who do not know how to look out for themselves especially when our religion is so protective of our rights as a woman. But we are all adults here. You have free-will and you have a choice to leave your biawak hidup. If you make a choice of sticking with your biawak hidup, you know the consequences for it which would include being in debt! There are times when I feel like maybe this is a lesson to those women. “Allah gave you freedom or free-will. To make the right choice when you had to make it! Then you made the wrong choice…. against ALL REASON! So Allah withdrew your freedom by putting you in debt. And when you think about it, it wasn’t Allah that had put you in debt and thus restricting your freedom! YOU had chosen to stick to your biawak hidup… and then your biawak hidup exploited you financially. Your debt now is YOUR choice…. don’t you blame fate or God.”

I put more emphasis on debt (rather than any other factors that can also restrict your freedom) because being in debt is the highest threat to freedom (and thus, reflected in the doa I posted above). If you are financially-free, other things (including bad relationships) can be easily managed. If you cannot manage it despite having financial freedom, you might have issues with problem-solving or getting enough willpower to get things done (like ending your no-good relationship). Don’t worry. This is where our psychiatrist and clinical psychologists can help you. We can give you some really good problem-solving advice and skills.

Come and visit our clinic and we will, Insya-Allah, help you! But gosh… please help yourself, first! Please help us to help you.

Last but not least….

M-449

Happy Freedom Day, everyone! Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! May Allah bless our country with peace and prosperity for many more years to come. Amiin, Ya Rabb! Until next time, my dear readers. Take care and may Allah bless all of us!

freedom-qoutes-01

(Not exactly) Newsflash: KKM Semakin Tenat.

Screenshot 2019-07-22 19.28.52

Seriously guys… it wasn’t exactly a newsflash that MOH is understaffed, under-budget, over-worked and basically functioning sub-optimally due to all of those reasons. The same issues have been plaguing MOH since I started working in 2011 (and also long before that, I am sure). And naturally, with the way our economy is doing, the state of hospitals and health facilities in MOH has been progressively worsening since then.

And what a surprise (NOT!) that THIS time, it isn’t the mengada-mengada, manjalitis Millennials who are saying these things. These things come from the professional opinion of our country’s National Audit Department! When they say it, they have credibilities. People started sharing the news (which is not exactly news) all over the social media, flooding my newsfeed with their own take and opinions on the news. But when the junior doctors say it…. well, we can brush them off as manja dan mengada-ngada, kan? (Okay, I better stop the direction in which my composition is currently heading. Haha. I have promised myself that I am done championing the issue of junior doctors. I am already a senior now and I have my own issues that I care about to fight for. But old habit dies hard, LOL! I have always believed that as a group, we are only as strong as the weakest link. And therefore, we must empower our junior doctors so that they can be as, ehem, great as us the seniors. But heck, the juniors can learn to fight their own issues especially if they believe they are right. I have my own stuff as a senior doctor that I am unsatisfied about! LOL.)

If you look at the comments section, you will notice some of the commentators saying something to the effect of “Dahlah memang tak cukup staff. Yang ada pun, bukan semua functioning! Ada yang bermasalah… asyik EL, MIA dan ada yang mempunyai masalah peribadi hutang dengan Along sampai Along mai cari kat tempat kerja and mengamuk kat sana. Exit policy buat perhiasan agaknya!(Love your comment, there!)

Another LOVELY comment:

“Aku tak tau la susah mana sangat exit policy tu tapi yg aku tau ada ex-staff klinik aku ada kes polis pun masih kekal lagi kerja dekat PKD aku tapi dibayar gaji hari. Depa sanggup buat laporan berjela2 utk tatatertib and bayar gaji hari tapi tak sanggup nak buat laporan utk pecat org. depa punya “busy” tu macam tiap2 bulan ada kes pecat org

Another comment which I personally LOVE :

“Bukan saja masalah tak cukup pekerja… tapi ada yg tak function. Ada yg kerja cincai, salai-balai, tak bersungguh buat kerja, lembap…. dan ada yg jahat terhadap pesakit!Kalau aku jadi org admin dah lama aku buang dan terminate org2 bermasalah mcm ni. Kalau nak kerja, buat cara nak kerja. Berdisiplin mai kerja, dress appropriately pakai uniform kerja, professional layan pesakit dan PAP! Jgn sampai benda basic routine pun nak kena ketuk every day and nak kena cakap byk2 kali. Org2 yg baloq liat macam ni memang tak layak kerja dgn KKM. Ramai lagi menunggu masuk kerja. Inilah waktunya yg paling sesuai untuk kita terminate pekerja2 lembab dan membebankan jabatan. Sebab berlungguk lagi menunggu nak dapat kerja!”

Soooo many of my friends had the same view as above! We REALLY vented out while sharing the news in the social media.(Seriously, we cannot stop millennial doctors using social media anymore! One day the millennials will become the leaders and saying things in social media will no longer be taboo! Instead, it will become the mainstream. Trust me… you can see the trend already.)

We are FED UP of the admin people not doing something concrete to these toxic, cancerous, pathetic excuse of a human being who are degrading the morale of the rest of our MOH staff by their despicable (sometimes criminal) behaviour! Not just to their own colleagues but sometimes even to the patients! (I won’t say much if  you are bad to your colleagues. Kawan-kawan sekerja kau tu memang deserve your bad behaviour sebab depa tak pandai nak defend diri sendiri dan lawan kau balik sedangkan diorang mampu nak buat kalau diorang betul-betul nak! They deserve the headache of dealing with your problematic behaviour and your unnecessary EL/MIA/laziness if they do not have the spine and are TOO MUCH OF A COWARD to report against you. But if you are UNJUST to my vulnerable, defenceless, involuntarily warded patients, I will personally make it my life mission to deliver your punishment even if I have to charge you through the legal channel. I swear it! I have even warned my own staff that if I EVER see them using ‘ubat kampung’ on my patients, I will go after them myself! Because my patients are vulnerable and they are MY responsibility. I WILL GO AGAINST YOU if I see your unethical or criminal behaviour WITH MY OWN EYES. The responsibility is mine to report on you if I see your ‘ubat kampung’ with my own eyes! If I can’t get you through the admin channel, I will get you through the legal channel! I don’t care whether the charge will stick or not… but police report WILL be done against you if any form of punishment failed to be delivered using the hospital admin channel. Whether or not the charge will stick… is the job of the police and the DPP. But making the report is MY responsibility and MY prerogative and IT WILL BE DONE if the admin people fail to give a suitable reprimand and punishment against you.) 

So the admin people, please listen to the plight and woes of your clinical colleagues. Please take action against the person who has had multiple, repetitive complaints being lodged against him. (one complaint may be due to personal issues! But if multiple behavioural issues with multiple complaints?? Takkan nak brush off lagi?) Because even if we may not say things in front of you, we will certainly vent in the social media by hiding behind the sharing of ‘current issues’. Hahah. And the public will come to know all about it.

***

COURTESY STIGMA

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One week ago, again my Facebook newsfeed was exploded by the scandalous news that a private psychiatrist had allegedly sexually harassed his own patient. To be fair, we need  to know both sides of the story before we come to any sort of judgment.

But, I was disheartened by some of the comments that I read in Facebook regarding this case.

Even doctors had said something to the effect of “Psychiatrists pun sama macam pesakit depa.” And another one had said “Psychiatrists pun ada mental health issues,” (What? You think Cardiologist cannot get heart disease? Oncologists cannot get cancer? Wake up to the real world, genius!)

Have you guys heard of the term ‘courtesy stigma’, first defined by the sociologist Erving Goffman in 1963?

Courtesy stigma is basically ‘stigma by association’ in which the stigma is extended to the people who are close to the stigmatized group. For example, family members of mentally ill patients are often affected by courtesy stigma. “Kakak dia ada Schizophrenia. Tak payah lah kawan dengan dia.” or “Padanlah dia suka marah-marah. Ayah dia pun bipolar. Like father, like son.” (even if the person has an absolutely valid reason to be angry at you, you will somehow relate it to the person’s mentally ill family member.)

And courtesy stigma also affects psychiatry doctors. Trust me, we in psychiatry know this VERY WELL. Some of our own doctor-friends will say things like, “Psychiatrist boleh faham patient mental sebab depa pun mental.” and disguised their offensive sentence as a joke.

Well, I am having none of that! None of my friends will ever dare say things like that to me because I call out on it STAT! Right there and then I will challenge their statement and shred their reasoning to pieces. And they learn to behave well with me next time. See? I am a staunch believer and practitioner of behaviour modification. Your bad behaviour will be called out and punished stat! I don’t put up with crap. Welll… not for long, at least!

So, I wrote my own comment in the Facebook thread by saying:

When a prominent ortho surgeon was accused of multiple counts of sexual harrassment, we do not generalize all ortho surgeons “gatal” the lot of them.

Anyone can behave unethically and despicably. And we shouldn’t overgeneralize a group over any misdeed done by a few in that group.

Please don’t say nonsensical things like “psychiatrist are also like their patients” or that “some psychiatrist have mental health issues”.

A lot of doctors have mental health issues across all fields. Some have anger management issues as well, making life hell for their subordinates. Some were depressed while undergoing their master programs. We in psychiatry have seen all of them. We know mental health issues are prevalent in any field.

Some of the other doctors have spouses or children who are affected by mental health issues…. because their parents are only concerned about being good doctors rather than being a good parent/daughter/son/sister and they delegate the job of caring for their own family to others.

Anaesthetists also have a higher rate of suicide. What funny jokes can we crack about that? Access to lethal means of suicide is a known risk factor for anyone who is depressed. But depression or other mental health illness can happen to anyone.

Stop this stigmatization and overgeneralization. Cognitive errors are so unpalatable when they come from doctors who are supposed to have an enlightened mind.

I was gratified to see that many had liked my comment even though I wasn’t expecting them to. Having a lot of people read this comment of mine and liking it means that people understood and supported what I had written. So at that particular time, I have at least educated some people into not stigmatizing us. Small steps… but everything big starts with something small, right? I have done my part. I have spoken up.  In some other place and some other time, another person will speak up over the same issue and do their own part in reducing courtesy stigma. Slowly and surely the stigma will be reduced by these collective small steps. In fact, it is already reducing! The number of junior doctors queuing up in the waiting list to become Psychiatry MO is quite high, these days!

In fact, I was informed by one of my readers that my blog is one of their point of reference when they are trying to research on psychiatry career pathways! So, if my blog has done nothing else, it has at least promoted the field of psychiatry to some junior doctors. The popular campaign by RCPSYCH to #ChoosePsychiatry is also gaining momentum in the other side of the world.

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The number of junior doctors choosing to train in psychiatry is at an all-time high, according to the latest statistics.

New figures from Health Education England reveal a 92 per cent uptake in England, Scotland and Wales, with 446 of 483 available places taken by junior doctors wanting to specialise in mental health.

This compares with a 69 per cent fill rate in 2017, when only 337 accepted one of the 491 places on offer.

The dramatic increase follows the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ #ChoosePsychiatry campaign, which launched in 2017, and has worked to increase the number of junior doctors choosing psychiatry as their speciality.

The figures also reveal a significant improvement since 2018, when 480 junior doctors accepted one of the 613 places on offer – a 78 per cent fill rate.

Record levels of investment in mental health services by the government and the NHS has helped increased public awareness to unprecedented levels, making psychiatry a more attractive career path.

Dr Kate Lovett, dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Psychiatry is an incredibly rewarding career and these figures are exciting news for patients as well as the specialism.

“The College’s #ChoosePsychiatry campaign has helped drive this dramatic rise in junior doctors choosing psychiatry as their career path. 

ETHICS & LEGALITY IN PSYCHIATRY

As psychiatry doctors, ethics is one of our core subjects and is supposed to be our strength and our specialty! It is REALLY sad if we are the ones who cannot practice it properly. When ethical issues involving psychiatrists appear in the social media, it is especially disillusioning and disappointing.

We used to think that doctors are generally kind, helpful and ethical. But these days, that impression can no longer be taken for granted. Remember the case of the prominent Ortho surgeon who had sexually harassed his housemen? We all had wondered regarding how his criminal behaviour could be ongoing for so long? Aren’t MOST DOCTORS ethical? So, why do MOST OF THEM become the ENABLERS of criminal behaviour? We started to wonder and cast blame when the shit hit the fan.

“Kenapa specialists lain pun tak bersuara?” 

“Kenapa tak ada siapa buat police report?”

“Kenapa Pengarah Hospital tak buat apa-apa sedangkan dah banyak complaints?” 

I am sure, AT THAT TIME, they would answer things like, “Nak ambil tindakan kena cukup bukti.”  OR, “He is too powerful. Dah buat report police pun tak boleh nak buat apa.” OR “HOs sendiri and victims pun tak berani nak ke depan buat laporan kat dia. Budak-budak Master pun bawah dia juga… nanti depa takut tak pass master.” 

They justified their inactions and silenced their conscience!

Suddenly, ONE FINE DAY, it took only ONE PERSON to decide to contact the mainstream media (THE STAR) to give her side of the story. Maybe she was thinking, “To the hell cukup bukti ka dak! Yang pasti, aku nak benda ni keluar juga!” Sebab once dah keluar, barulah siasatan akan berjalan untuk cukupkan bukti! Masalahnya bila benda dok hushed up tak keluar-keluar sampai ke sudah… sampai bila bukti nak cukup?

So things that used to be swept under the carpet (BERTAHUN-TAHUN berlalu tapi TAK PERNAH CUKUP BUKTI sebab tak pernah siapa pun teringin nak siasat habis-habisan dan ambil tindakan) tiba–tiba senang ja terbongkar dan siasatan boleh berjalan.

Bila keluar berita yang “pakar-pakar Orthopaedic di hospital tersebut akan dipindahkan” (mungkin sebab pakar-pakar tersebut dilihat seperti membenarkan dan membiarkan penganiyaan berlaku) tiba-tiba ada yang mahu complain pula! “Kenapa kami kena pindah? Sedangkan kami tak terlibat! Kami tak bersalah! Kami tak tau pun kejadian sexual harassment tu semua!”

Amazing! Orang di hospital lain pun boleh tau pasal your notorious HOD…. macam mana kau di hospital tu boleh tak tau? What wilful ignorance is this?

You deserve the punishment of being transferred out! When you are neutral and not taking sides in the face of oppression, you are actually a co-conspirator to the act! Your silence in a situation of injustice means you are siding with the side of the oppressor! To quote Finaz Yunus, (the host of Analisis in TV Al–Hijrah) we have to “BE TRUTHFUL! Not Neutral!” and this is ESPECIALLY important in the case of human rights!

So, in my opinion, you deserve to be punished (mobilized and transferred out of the hospital) if you had known what had happened and yet you had silenced your own conscience and let the heinous crime persist indefinitely!

So the take home message is: Bukti memang takkan cukup AT FIRST. Tapi, tugas siapa untuk cari bukti once orang dah complain? Tugas KITA lah! Tugas admin! Tugas polis! Tugas DPP!

Kalau admin malas buat kerja dan nak brush off complaints by saying things like “Ada cukup bukti tak? Dia ni dah counselling belum? Korang dah pernah minta explanation letter kat dia ke belum? Dah pernah bagi warning letter ke belum? Dah pernah pergi kursus-kursus untuk pekerja bermasalah ke belum? Bla bla bla..Dia ni dah lalui this procedure and that procedure ke? Kalau benda2 ni tak buat lagi, tak boleh ambil tindakan lagi!” Aduh! Sampai menyusahkan pula pakar-pakar yang dah lodge complaints…. and the problematic worker will continue his problematic behaviour till kingdom come! Well, orang lain mungkin akan give up or just internalize learned helplessness in dealing with problematic staff. Tapi kalau aku kat tempat orang yang complain, aku takkan diam! Orang yang setakat ada problem EL/MIA bolehlah nak suruh counselling ke and whatnots…. tapi kalau kesalahan menyalahi undang-undang dan ada kes polis dan sebagainya (like being accused of sexual harrassment/rape/assault)… aku akan laksanakan gantung kerja dulu sementara siasatan penuh dijalankan! Once you are cleared, you can come back  to work! But this is a HEAVY accusation, and you should be suspended until you are cleared!

In psychiatry, every single thing we do from patient admission, to medication, chemical restraint, physical restraint and seclusion/isolation are governed by the Mental Health Act! We are bound by the law in our clinical practice.

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One of the shameful anecdotes in the Malaysian Psychiatry history! When a mentally ill patient dies in custody, the pounding headache is real!

 

But it is no secret that mentally ill patients are very vulnerable to being abused by our own staff or by the police officers who had made the arrest. Sometimes they are abused to their deaths as in the case of the article above. And this can happen anywhere, especially in the third world countries where patients’ rights are not that well-advocated.

It is our responsibility as a psychiatry doctor to make sure that our staffs are ethical and follow the law in how they handle our patients. Mentally ill patients have their own rights. If they cannot speak up for themselves, we must look out for them!

One of my friends had said that she had heard some talks of how “ada staff masuk cell dalam wad purposefully untuk pukul patient.” in one of the hospitals she used to work at. I won’t be at all surprised if some of our staff might have unnecessarily roughened up or abused our patients.

But, that is CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR, okay! And if I see such a behaviour with my own eyes, I will give them hell!

I personally had sternly warned my own staff, “Kalau saya nampak siapa-siapa pukul pesakit tak pasal-pasal, saya akan report! Saya akan siasat! Saya akan ambil tindakan undang-undang kalau admin tak nak buat tindakan tatatertib dan orang lain tak nak buat apa-apa! Kalau pesakit unmanageable, inform saya. Kita boleh bagi ubat, atau sedation, boleh chemical restraint atau physical restraint. Tak perlu nak kasar dengan diorang pun! Tapi macam mana kita nak bagi sedation kalau korang tak report? Dan macam mana korang nak report kalau korang tak monitor patient betul-betul? So kalau patient buat perangai, jangan nak lepas geram kat diorang kalau korang yang tak buat kerja monitor patient. Kalau korang monitor betul-betul dan inform MOs betul-betul, dah lama doctors bagi intervention tanpa perlu nak kasar-kasar! Kalau pesakit aggressive sekali pun, pergi mana breakaway technique yang dah belajar tu? Pesakit aggressive sebab dia sakit. Yang kita tak sakit ni, apa alasan kita nak aggressive?” 

I make myself clear and my stand is rock-solid, unshakeable! If things happen behind my back, I might not be able to punish you because I do not know about it. But if I, myself, is a witness to your criminal behaviour against my patient, I will go all out to make sure you get your just dessert by the admin. And if the admin brushes off my concerns, I will use a legal channel to punish you! I will do it because I have the freedom and the means to do it! And most importantly, I have the WILLPOWER to do it!

Some people think that, it is necessary to hush things up untuk ‘jaga nama hospital’. Silap besar! What happened to Hospital Sungai Buloh once the conduct of the notorious Ortho surgeon became well-known, huh?!

The truth has a way of coming out! Instead of being known as “the admin who had done nothing when multiple complaints had been lodged”, be the admin who had done something worthy of your position by lodging your own complaints against him to the DG and MMC! Say to the DG and MMC “I have concerns about this specialist. I receive reports from HOs that he has been sexually harrassing them.” You MUST do your part. The outcome of your complaint is a secondary consideration! But you must do your part, first!

My principle is clear: I don’t owe my loyalty or my allegiance to any department, hospital or ministry. I owe my loyalty and my allegiance to the truth only. I owe my obedience to God, religion and my own personal principles, FIRST! Anything else is always secondary! Kalau kau salah, kau salah! My report against you had nothing to do with where I work at! I want my department and my hospital to be known as “jabatan/hospital yang akan jaga etika terhadap pesakit dan sanggup report staff sendiri kalau staff memang salah” rather than being known for lack of ethics or under the carpet dirt-sweeper! Because I believe that IN THE END, the truth will come out someday, somehow, someway… because the sunnahtullah is like that! And my lacking in action today will be the shame of me one day. I am accountable for what I see, what I hear and what I do about it. Even if the outcome might not be what I want and the perpetrator might go free, I have done what I should in my own capacity within my own limitations and that’s all that matters! 

THE LEGAL CHANNEL IS ALWAYS THE RIGHT CHANNEL

We always tell our staffs not to use the social media and we encourage them to complain using the right channel (which is usually incompetent and slow and broken). Kalau admin tak buat tindakan sepatutnya through the right channel, then we should go through the legal channel! (The legal channel is ALWAYS the right channel, anyway). Imagine what will happen once the legal channel is taken? Well, of course media akan hidu and things will become viral anyway. So remember, the legal channel is always an option! It is YOUR RIGHTS as a Malaysian citizen. And your job does not bind you from taking legal actions against anyone who had broken the law. The hospital admin CANNOT punish you for taking a legal action when they themselves fail to deliver a fair outcome out of your complaints.

And the bonus is, the legal channel can also be the viral channel. Imagine the headlines, “Houseman lodged a police report against nightmare specialist” Haha!

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Remember this incident, guys? It was only last year! The HO took a legal channel (which is always the right channel, as a Malaysian citizen) and the issue became viral!

So, my recommendation to any victim of injustice is this: It’s okay if you cannot use the social media since it is not allowed for you to do it. If you are asked to use the right channel, go ahead and use it as your first line action. But if your admin FAILS to give you justice, you must go through the legal channel. And trust me, the legal channel will be the viral channel, anyway! Because the media will pick it up! So, yup… you get what you want at last!

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Unfortunately, most people will not want to go through the hassle of taking any legal action, especially if the criminal behaviour is directed towards others rather than themselves. Well luckily, I am not most people. Once I am angry enough, I will fight to the end. If my warning is not heeded by my staff, I will strike on my own if the admin is too slow in doing their job. I will take a legal action. I am not used to learned helplessness and I will never make myself get used to it when it comes to dealing with dysfunctional staff with criminal-like behaviour.

***

THE STANDARD

Before I end this post, I want to ask my dear readers to ponder the concept of justice and redha. Because trust me, even so-called religious people get confused at times!

My dear readers,

In our daily interactions with others in the society, the standard that is outlined by Allah for us is JUSTICE! That’s why in Islam we have judges and the justice system (Syariah: Hudud, Kisas, Takzir etc). It is not the place of ANYONE to tell you “Redha sajalah anak you kena bunuh. Kalau  you marah pun, bukan boleh dapat balik anak you. Tak payah nak siasat, panjang-panjang cerita! Maafkan saja pembunuh tu. Redha kan dapat pahala! Redha kan Islamik.”

NO! NO! NO!

Instead, in our daily interaction with OTHERS – with our fellow human beings – we must always be mindful of justice because that is THE STANDARD that Allah had DEMANDED of us! You should instead say, “Allah had enjoined us to be just! Allah will punish us for failing to do justice! It is our responsibility to see it delivered no matter what!”

However, in our relationship with Allah, the STANDARD is redha! You should not question Allah, “Why are You not fair to me? Why do You let my son be murdered! Is this fair of You to allow him to be killed when my son is a religious Muslim and a good person?”

No! No! No!

Instead, in our relationship with Allah, we must always be mindful of redha! “Ya Allah, apa saja yang terjadi, aku redha! I submit to your wisdom.”

Redha and justice are NOT contradictory concept! You can be “redha anak dah tak ada kena bunuh” even as you demand that justice be done for your murdered son. Your demand for the justice system to deliver justice for you has NOTHING to do with how redha you are with what God has fated for you.

Justice is your standard with fellow human beings and with the administrative system in this dunya! Redha is your standard in your personal relationship with Allah! They are two separate (but related) concepts!

(Not delivering justice is BELOW standard. Demanding justice is THE STANDARD… and it is THE MINIMUM STANDARD expected of us by God. Choosing to forgive your oppressor is ABOVE standard. But you cannot make any inference regarding level of redha, faham tak? You might choose to forgive your oppressor, but deep inside, you are still NOT redha about what Allah has fated for you! Yes… that can happen, ok? You can trick other non-educated civilians into forgiving crime by manipulating the concept of Redha while ignoring the concept of Justice, but you cannot trick me! Because when I tak puas hati, I read up! I know my stuff! Manipulate me at your own peril.)

Please be clear about this. And try to lead your life according to THE STANDARD (of Justice and Redha). Even as you may not do it perfectly hundred percent of the time. At least, TRY!

Until next time, my dear readers! Much love and may Allah bless all of us.

Revising The Islamic Education Syllabus. It’s High Time.

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Recently my Facebook newsfeed exploded with a piece of controversial news involving Ministry of Education (again. Hahha). Some keyboard warriors among netizens have lambasted Teo Nie Ching, our Deputy Minister of Education, for allegedly sticking her nose into the Islamic Syllabus of Muslim students in Malaysia. Racial slurs could be read in every other comments on Facebook, it was positively nauseating.

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To those who are still in the dark regarding what has been going on, let me just give you a short update of the matter just to give you guys a heads-up (please google the news further for more details).

The Ministry of Education, via the National Education Advisory Council (Majlis Penasihat Pendidikan Kebangsaan /MPPK)  had launched a national survey to revise and upgrade the Islamic Education Syllabus for Muslim students in Malaysia. Our Deputy Minister of Education, Teo Nie Ching, had then innocently shared the link to the news via her social media. Suddenly, the netizens blew the matter out of proportion by accusing her, a non-Muslim, of trying to stick her nose into the Islamic Education. The UMNO/PAS politicians and supporters started to politicize the matter with religious and racial themes in their fear-mongering campaign against PH.

Maszlee Malik defended his deputy by saying that “Kaji selidik tersebut dikeluarkan di laman web Kementerian Pendidikan, kemudian Nie Ching kongsikan maklumat tersebut di media sosial beliau. Ada orang tangkap layar dari media sosial beliau dan timbulkan isu bahawa timbalan menteri mahu campur tangan isu Pendidikan Islam, itu tidak benar dan tidak timbul isu campur tangan,”

In other words, Teo Nie Ching was only sharing on her social media of the latest initiative by her ministry (because she works there, okay?). It just so happens that the latest initiative by the ministry (in which she is THE DEPUTY MINISTER) is about our Islamic Education. However, because she is a non-Muslim, she was accused of sticking her nose into the Islamic education of Muslims. *sigh* 

There haven’t been many occasions in which I was supportive of the Ministry of Education. But in the matter of revising the Islamic Syllabus for Muslim students in Malaysia, I am all cheers! I think, it is high time we have a deep and conscientious thought about what sort of Muslims we want to produce in this country.

I have said it before, and I will say it again now. I learned MUCH MORE and in GREATER DEPTH about Islam when I was in Australia (by my own initiative and with my seniors in usrah) than what I had learned in 11 years of FORMAL Islamic education in school. Our Islamic Education syllabus in Malaysia is very superficial, focussing more on ritual than it focusses on creed (akidah); emphasizing more on superficial memorization than in-depth understanding; rewarding shallow knowledge than higher-order-thinking skills (HOTS/KBAT).

11 years!! of formal education was wasted on me! I found it so difficult to question things that I didn’t understand in the religion because it was so taboo to appear to doubt what was taught to you. Because it was a tacit understanding that questioning things that you don’t understand would somehow reflect badly on the strength of your iman. So, I just performed the rituals of prayers and fasting without any real “penghayatan” about what being a Muslim meant.

Want to know what I mean? Read on!

***

Question #1: Who creates God?

Don’t kid yourself! Don’t deny it! Everyone – including YOU, my dear readers – MUST have thought about this question at some point in their lives. But most of us swallowed it and brushed it off, didn’t we? Because some of us were told “Kalau kita tanya banyak sangat perkara-perkara ghaib, iman kita tak kuat. Benda ni kena percaya sebab rukun iman.” And then we were told to mengucap and say astaghfirullah for having doubts.  I had asked this question to adults since I was 8 years old.

But could the adults in my life answer my question to my satisfaction? Not really.  They would say something like “Mestilah Allah tak diciptakan. Kalau Allah tu diciptakan, Allah bukan Tuhan lah.”

Oh ok… so you are answering my question based on YOUR DEFINITION of God. I see.

But I wasn’t satisfied. You told me only JUST NOW that “semua benda di dunia ini diciptakan.” So, wasn’t it natural for me to just ask, “Jadi siapa cipta Tuhan? Kan semua benda di dunia ini diciptakan. You just told me that!” And now? You couldn’t answer it yourself! Or you think your previous answer satisfied me? Well, it didn’t! But because I could sense your discomfort and your disapproval, so I put off questioning you further.

I learned eventually to brush it off and bury my doubt deep inside my heart. Even when I was just a child.

But how long could I bury it? On and off it would bother me again and again. And I said astaghfirullah again and again! (And I believe this is the case for many Muslim kids as well. I was not alone, here. But because I am the ruminating, over-thinking type, hahha… it bothered me more than others, perhaps. I certainly knew that even my Kak Long had wondered the same thing and I had discussed this with her as a kid, and then later as a young adult. So jangan kata aku sorang yang tertanya-tanya benda ni! Mustahil aku sorang yang wonder pasal benda ni. This is basic akidah yang FORMAL EDUCATION di sekolah TAK MAMPU address dengan baik! Basic akidah, weh!)

Until at one point, I couldn’t bury the question anymore. After my friend passed away at the age of 18 from a car accident, I was so shocked to the core that I felt like I could not postpone answering this question any longer. It MUST stop bothering me once and for all.

So I did my research and somehow (Alhamdulillah) I happened to pick up a book by Harun Yahya entitled Timelessness And The Reality of Fate and I devoured the book in 2 days. From the very first few chapters of the book, I got the answer already. The answer that I had been wondering about since I was 8 years old… it was hidden in this 97-pages-thin, ordinary-looking  book! Amazing! The best, most-worthy book purchase I have ever made in my entire life to date!

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I couldn’t recall the specific words of the explanation but it basically goes something like this:

“In order for anything to be created, it must be in the system of time. ‘Before and After’ only exists in the system of time. The system of time itself is created by God. God is not bound by the system of time. So, it is scientifically impossible by the law of physics to ask a question of who creates God because the system of time existed after God had created it. In fact, the question is unscientific and irrelevant.”

See? The book even talked about the science of physics when it discussed the system of time. Siap dengan quotes by famous scientist and physicist of the world! Barulah convincing! It makes sense! I could accept it easily enough! Think about it! Malam dan siang adalah masa kan? Macam mana nak wujud malam dan siang kalau matahari dan bumi pun tak wujud lagi. Planet, bintang-bintang dan matahari pun tak wujud lagi, macam mana bumi nak beredar untuk menghasilkan peredaran masa atau malam dan siang itu? So, everything must be in place first (the whole universe, the planets and the stars, must be created by God first! The system of time must be there first before you can ask who creates what! The creator exists BEFORE the creation. The creation exists AFTER the creator. But BEFORE and AFTER are the terms in the system of TIME. And the system of TIME did not exist until God created the universe, including the earth and the sun. This is what we mean when we say God is beyond creation. That is why when you ask who creates God, the question is unscientific! Your question is unscientific because that is THE LIMIT of the science of creation in this physical world.)

Now, ask yourself: Boleh ke ustazah sekolah rendah dan sekolah menengah ajar macam ni? Can they explain as comprehensively and thoroughly as above? Boleh tak depa address BASIC matters of akidah sampai student puas hati? Mana mungkin boleh kalau ustaz/ustazah sendiri jahil fakta sains! Lepas tu membuat ‘insinuations’ yang orang yang bertanya itu yang kurang iman! Padahal, mungkin mereka yang tidak pandai jawab! (Sorry if I sound emotional. This is a raw topic for me! Sampai sekarang, aku tak boleh terima orang-orang agama yang jahil kemudian berlindung dengan imej agama untuk MEMBULI orang yang hanya bertanya untuk kepastian. Tiba-tiba dijawabnya kita kurang iman!)

 

Question #2: How do we know Islam is the right religion? 

Again, don’t lie to yourself. I am sure EVERYONE must have thought about this at some point in their lives!

In fact, inilah caranya orang-orang dari agama lain boleh menemui jalan untuk memeluk Islam. Sebab mereka sendiri bertanya dalam diri mereka sendiri, is my religion the real truth? And then they did their research until they come across Islam.

Ini adalah NALURI (instinct!) yang Allah kurniakan kepada SEMUA manusia supaya manusia mengenali diri-NYA. Just because you are born as a Muslim, DO NOT EVER THINK that you have real faith! Your faith doesn’t mean a thing if it was never challenged. Your faith may not be true  if you’ve never had  to answer the challenge and come to your own conclusion. That’s why we are tested in this life… to TRIGGER us to seek REAL CONVICTION and REAL BELIEF (the death of my friend was MY trigger. I have met people whose trigger would be different. It might be ‘divorce’… it might be ‘cancer’… it might be bankruptcy…. it might be ANYTHING) Kalau kita hanya mengikut arus just because we were born into Islam (but we were never really convinced in the first place) what good is that belief? Apa beza kita dengan orang-orang yang dilahirkan dalam agama lain? Kita pun hanya mengikut agama nenek moyang juga kan (it just so happens yang agama nenek moyang kita Islam)…. sedangkan belum tentu kita betul-betul percaya.

Allah tests us until we can find Him. So regardless of what religion you were born with, you are not given a free ticket to Paradise. You WILL BE TESTED as a proof TO YOURSELF whether or not you have put in the effort to come to real faith. You yourself will know whether or not you truly believe or if you are simply following the tide of societal pressure! You will know what is in your own heart and you are accountable for it!  Allah says in Surah Al-Ankabut: 2-3 “Do the people think that they will be left to say “we believe” and they will not be tried? But we have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful and He will surely make evident the liars.”

I guess the verse is asking… Adakah kamu berfikir kamu hanya akan dibiarkan menyatakan “Aku orang Islam” sedangkan belum tentu hati kamu betul-betul percaya? Sebab kamu tak pernah jawab apa yang bermain di fikiran kamu! You brushed off your doubts! And you think everyone is supposed to blindly believe like you?

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Jadi semua ujian yang datang dalam hidup kita adalah untuk TRIGGER kita bermuhasabah dan menjawab the important questions in our lives! Please take the opportunity to answer those questions!

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There is NO PLACE for blind belief in Islam! We are asked to do inductive reasoning when we are learning the religion! This is Quranic method in pondering the questions of faith! Al-Quran encourages us to question stuff! So jangan kau pula pandai-pandai nak menghalang orang lain bertanya kalau kau sendiri tak pandai jawab! Siap nak label orang yang bertanya tak kuat iman!

So, how do we know that Islam is the right religion? Well, by studying comparative religion! Of course! There is always a course of Comparative Religion / World Religion/ Theology in any university, even in the Western countries! If you can spend YEARS studying to become a doctor to complete your dunya, can’t you spend one semester of learning comparative religion for your akhirat? Sometimes, you can even do it informally by reading books on world religion during your free time. Tak payah pun nak masuk formal class bagai. Learn about other religions and compare between them! Sheikh Ahmed Deedat had done such a splendid job when it comes to comparing Islam and Christianity! In fact, that was how I had come to be convinced of Islam as the religion intended by God for his slaves. I read The Choice by Ahmed Deedat when I was 18 years old.

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You yourself must go through this journey of discovery. No one could do it for you. Every one of us has their own unique journey in discovering faith and spirituality. This is why one of my favourite YOU TUBE videos are conversion stories. My personal favourite was the conversion story of Yusha Evans and I recommend it to all my readers.

Now ask yourself: could any ustazah/ustaz in your previous school tell you in details regarding why Islam is the right religion compared to Christianity? Were you convinced? Or did the ustaz or ustazah never really answer your question? Or perhaps, you yourself never question it? Again… this is BASIC CREED. Kalau benda tu pun tak settle, no wonder lah kita asyik takut anak-anak kita murtad. Isu penggunaan nama Allah di kalangan Kristian di Sabah/Sarawak jadi havoc sampai pecah alam. Padahal memang kat Middle East orang Kristian guna nama Allah juga. Kita kat sini sibuk-sibuk nak halang orang Kristian guna nama Allah…sebab takut anak-anak kita cepat keliru!

Macam mana SEBELAS TAHUN belajar akidah  di sekolah, masih boleh keliru? Allah itu satu VS Allah itu tiga! Beza kan?? Apa yang nak kelirunya?? Yang kelirunya adalah sebab ORANG DEWASA pun keliru tak reti nak ajaq anak-anak depa! Tu pasallah takut sangat! In fact, kita sepatutnya fikir yang orang Kristianlah yang keliru! The WHOLE WORLD associates the word ‘Allah’ with Islam… orang Kristian di Malaysia la yang patut lebih keliru bila nama Tuhan mereka adalah sama macam Tuhan orang Islam.

Bila kita lokek ilmu dan lokek hujah, kita akan sentiasa rasa takut dan terancam! Dan bila kita lokek ilmu dan lokek hujah, semua pertanyaan tiada jawapan. Alih-alih suruh orang lain jangan tanya dan tuduh orang yang bertanya tak kuat iman! *facepalm*

Did you know that in the Quran, we are taught to do inductive reasoning? Allah always asks us to look at specific examples in order to reach a conclusion. He asks us to look at the moon. Look at the sun! Look at the mountains and the seas. Look at the signs in the human embryology. 

Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) did inductive reasoning before concluding that his GOD was NOT the sun, the moon or the stars. He had explored one option after another and then another before he finally arrived to his conclusion. Just like our revert brothers and sisters had  to go through one religion after another and then another before arriving to Islam. 

“Those who listen to all statements, and then follow the best of it. These are the ones whom God has guided, and these are the ones possessed of minds.” (39:18)

Question #3: Why Is Quran Considered As A Miracle? 

This question was one of my struggles in understanding the religion.

Your ustaz or ustazah would ask you to memorize a few ‘skema jawapan’ talking about language style of the Quran which ‘proves’ that Quran is a miracle.

And in my mind, I was like “Kat mana yang hebat sangat bahasa Quran ni sampai jadi miracle dan mukjizat? Boleh tak bagi contoh? Ayat mana dalam Al-Quran yang miracle sangat ni sampai penyair-penyair Qurays boleh terpaku dan speechless? Awat aku tak rasa apa pun? Boleh tak elaborate dan bagi contoh?! Convince me, please!” 

Your ustaz would also teach you to write “Al-Quran ini mukjizat kerana ia tidak boleh ditiru. Ramai orang yang tidak berjaya menandingi gaya bahasa Al-Quran walaupun telah dicabar untuk melakukannya.” And then, the answer stops there. Adoi!!

I was like, “Okay…. boleh tak bagi contoh siapa orangnya yang cuba attempt nak bertanding dengan gaya bahasa Al-Quran? Is it Ka’ab Bin Malik? Abdullah Bin Rawahah? Both of them were great poets, right? Apa ayat yang diorang produce? Kat celah mana yang diorang kalah? What is the criteria yang diorang kalah tu bila dibandingkan dengan Al-Quran? Ada hakim ke yang dilantik untuk judge gaya bahasa siapa yang menang?” 

Faham tak? Look at how I overthink stuff? hahha. Jadi adakah aku akan puas hati dengan jawapan-jawapan one-liners yang superficial macam tu? Sedangkan banyak lagi soalan tak terjawab dalam kepala otak aku ni. Hahha.

Do you get it? There is just NO DEPTH!! in our learning of the religion! I was a student who DID NOT UNDERSTAND in which part of the Quran yang kau cakap gaya bahasa hebat sangat ni? Aku baca translation of the Quran dan aku rasa macam biasa saja. (I have since come to know how difficult it is for translations to convey the beauty of a text’s original language. For example, can anyone translate a Malay pantun into English while maintaining all the rhymes and the rhythms? No, right? The beauty of any language will be lost in translation. The language miracle of the Quran can only be appreciated in its original Arabic language. But there are other aspects of miracles in the Quran. For example, there are medical and scientific aspects of the Quran too!) 

As a student at that time, pelajaran agama adalah pelajaran SURE DAPAT GRED A punyalah! Because so simplistic punya skema jawapan, anyone can get an A in it! We students devoted MORE TIME for Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Add Math because they were more complicated and interesting dan belum tentu dapat A. Hahha.

But with pelajaran agama, hafal sikit-sikit, pakai common sense sikit-sikit… terus dapat A. Mudah macam makan kacang! When the fact is, learning arts (including religion/theology, history, political science and philosophy) requires inductive and exploratory reasoning involving the understanding of contexts, nuances and depth! BUKAN simple one liners!

But after years of learning to brush off my doubts, I followed the tide of peer pressure by simply burying my questions deep inside my mind!

So when did I FINALLY find the answer?

Well, I found the answer regarding why Quran is a miracle at the age of 20+ when I was listening to the lecture of Nouman Ali Khan in You Tube about The Miracles of The Quran. The video clip only lasted for two hours! Two hours! And that was enough to answer YEARS of wondering to myself about the miracles of the Quran! Below, is one of the examples of the video produced by Nouman Ali Khan’s team regarding the language miracles of the Quran. If you have time, you can watch the lecture yourself. It is very good, (better than the one I listened to years ago) because this one is illustrated.

I also learned about the Quran from books like Medical Miracles of The Quran written by Dr. Sharif Kaf Al-Ghazal.

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So, can you see HOW PATHETIC is the Islamic syllabus in our formal education?? How unhelpful the syllabus was in perfecting my aqeedah and my understanding of basic Islamic principles!

Perfect the Aqeedah FIRST! Simultaneously, you can also learn the technical stuff of ibadah, muammalat, munakahat, syariah etc etc. But the Aqeedah is always a priority!

Look, there’s a reason why the Prophet PBUH spent 13 years perfecting the Aqeedah alone in Makkah! Because that is the most important thing! Only in Madinah did the Prophet proceeded with the teaching of the Syariah! Once your aqeedah is settled, the rest would be easy!

 

Question #4: All the questions I had about illogical Israilyat stories that were told to me. 

I had talked about this so many times in the past! About the fake story of Hassan Al-Basri & A Beautiful Woman and also about the bogus tale of Siti Mutiah! Hahha. So, I am just not going to elaborate on this further. But it highlights my point that MOST ustaz/ustazah are not equipped with enough knowledge to soothe our thirst for real conviction. They do not address our confusion and our sense of incredulousness.

If you are going to be ‘guru agama yang mengajar budak-budak aliran sains’, you better know how to present your content! Science students are taught to QUESTION stuff!

If you are passionate teachers, your target SHOULD NOT be to finish the syllabus cincai bocai! Your target is to make sure your students understand and are convinced by your presentation. (Tu pun kalau kau memang nak jadi a great teacher lah! Otherwise, no use for me to elaborate further). You must encourage questions among your students and you must equip yourself with knowledge too! Teach beyond the syllabus! Read stuff! Relate your religious contents with current issues and scientific phenomenas! Buatlah homework sikit…. you are teaching the religion! How much pahala will you get if because of YOU, your students attain real faith that goes beyond getting an A in Pendidikan Islam!

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So, below are my ideas of how religious syllabus should be revised.

1)Ask students to do a critical essay on any topic of aqeedah. An essay! A CRITICAL ESSAY! NOT simple one liners! 

2)Give them reading tasks that requires them to summarize, review and state their own opinion. 

-suggested topics for their reading tasks include comparative religion, theory of evolution, Richard Dawkin’s The God Delusion.

2) Review You Tube videos of comparative religion and encourage voicing out of questions and doubts. 

3) Invite doctors, engineers, professors and physicists to talk about verses in the Quran that relate to their respective specialty! Show the students that religion is NOT SEPARATE from the practical aspects of worldly life! Show your students that religion is RELEVANT and PRACTICAL! 

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Examples of exam questions and assignments at the secondary school level could be something like these:

Question 1:

It has been a widely popularized propaganda that Islam was spread through the edge of the sword. By using your knowledge of the Quran, your knowledge of the world history and the Islamic History, write a CONVINCING commentary to dispute this preposterous libel.   (Not less than 2000 words)

-this question requires the student not only to know the Quran alone, or the history alone. It requires the student to know BOTH;  and then to integrate those different knowledge and connect them together to produce a good essay. They must provide evidence and quotes by historians and ulama as well to get an A. 

Books
This is one of my favourite books to answer the above question. Full of references. Written by a Non-Muslim some more!

Question 2:

By using your knowledge of The Quran, The Bible and the History of Pre- and Post- Council of Nicaea, discuss the concept of trinity in Christianity.

-The question makes it clear that the students need to know some basic knowledge regarding what trinity is all about; what the Quran says about Trinity (this requires the student to know specific Quranic verses that talk about trinity); what the Bible says about Trinity (that means the student must memorize some biblical quotations allegedly alluding to trinity); and what happened during Council of Nicaea.

-After knowing the basic knowledge, the students then need to apply those knowledge and try to connect them together and arrange them into points of natural sequence so that the essay would look good and professional.

-In short, it requires application of knowledge and critical thinking! KBAT at its best! Not simply memorize and vomit the memory into paper. Takkan matematik dan sains saja nak KBAT! Adakah pelajaran agama tak penting untuk KBAT??

 

Question 3:

An Atheist came to you and declared his conviction that there is no life after death. How do you convince this atheist to the contrary? You are allowed to use your knowledge of The Evolution Theory, your knowledge of biological science and your knowledge of philosophy to produce your argument in not less than 1000 words.

-Whoa. Imagine if religion is being taught this way at school! The ustaz/ustazah will give you this question for homework with next week as a deadline. So, students are required to do proper research into Evolution, other aspects of biology as well as philosophy….and the challenge is how to connect all these knowledge into a religious article. The students actually have to put serious hard work and energy in researching and then thinking about these topics in order to produce a good essay.

-The ustazah can discuss the answers to this essay in a very interesting lesson.  For example, she may invite the school biology teacher or a philosophy lecturer from outside to sit in the class and discuss all the points together.

-How INTERACTIVE and INTERESTING Pendidikan Islam would be if it is being taught this way, can you imagine?

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We have to revolutionize our education system of memorizing without thinking. It is imperative for Muslims to recognize that we should change and it has to be done from NOW, starting from the teaching of our youngsters at school.

After going to Australia and experiencing a dramatic change in how knowledge is supposed to be taught, I must admit that I became HYPERCRITICAL at our education system and I have a tendency to always question first whatever is being told to me if it sounds dodgy to me. I have promised myself many years ago that I will NEVER AGAIN believe in something that sounds weird regardless of who says it until I do my own research. Which is kind of why, even in learning psychiatry, I prefer to explore knowledge by myself rather than going through the master system. It might be harder, it might take longer, I might have to spend some of my own hard-earned money…. but I still prefer it that way. (I was asked by one of my colleagues while discussing psychiatry “Afiza, kau kena psychoanalyze kenapa kau tak suka psychodynamic.” I didn’t answer anything but in my mind I was like…. aku tak perlu nak psychoanalyze kenapa aku tak suka psychodynamic. Aku dah tau kenapa aku tak suka. Because some of the dodgy-sounding stuff in Freud’s psychodydnamic REMINDS me of the same dodgy stuff I had to swallow as a child because I was told it was part of the religion and part of being a good Muslim. And then it turned out that actually, they were wrong! And now you are trying to sell to me that accepting some of the ridiculous theories in psychodynamic is part of being a good psychiatrist?! Come on! Don’t kid yourself! There are MANY psychiatrists who DO NOT BELIEVE in psychodynamic, themselves. In fact,  Dr. Jeffrey A. Lieberman, the President of American Association of Psychiatry from 2013-2014 had written a SCATHINGLY CRITICAL analysis of the history of psychodynamic in America in his book “Shrink: The Untold Story of Psychiatry”. He wrote about how the theories WERE FORCED UPON THEM by their previous seniors and anyone who even attempted to question psychodynamic at that time was being bullied into submission rather than being given a proper well-thought out answers! Sebiji macam apa yang berlaku dalam pelajaran agama di sekolah! So, aku tak payah pun nak psychoanalyze kenapa aku tak suka psychodynamic! Aku dah tau pun! Hahah. One day, in a separate post, I will Insya-Allah write further regarding how I developed transference reaction towards psychodynamic. Hahah) 

It’s time we begin a much-needed paradigm shift. 

And I hope Dr. Maszlee and the National Education Advisory Council will deliver an exciting change in the teaching of Islamic Education in Malaysian schools. May Allah guide us all.

I leave you guys with a very famous video of Muslim spoken words regarding the meaning of life. Another one of my all-time favourite You Tube videos. I especially love the final part of the video that says, “If you disbelieve, READ!” I myself found real conviction through reading the books that I had mentioned above. This is why I always advocate for people to READ! In fact, I find it VERY LOGICAL that the first verse of the Quran that was revealed to the Prophet PBUH was Iqra’! Read! This is one aspect of the Quran that is so appealing to a reader like me.

So, enjoy the video, guys! Until next time. Much love and may Allah bless all of us.

Addendum:

P/S: I just had a phone conversation with my Kak Long about this particular issue. She told me that just a few days ago, Aayra, my 5 year old niece had asked her the exact same question of who creates Allah! Kind of proves my point that this question is a natural progression of a growing mind and it will come to every one of us, sooner or later. My Kak Long tried to answer the question to Aayra’s satisfaction but she could see that Aayra was not convinced even though Aayra did not ask further. One day, I will lend my Kak Long the book Timelessness And The Reality of Fate. And her task is to simplify the answer to Aayra in a way that would make Aayra understand.