Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stand up agains poverty


On October 16, 17 and 18th, millions of people around the world will "Stand Up and Take Action" against poverty and for the Millennium Development Goals. The mobilization will send a clear message to world leaders that we refuse to be silent in the face of ongoing poverty and inequality. Stand Up & Take Action, coordinated by the UN Millennium Campaign and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), is a global event in which citizens urge their leaders to keep their promises to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
We heard from organizers around the world about the many Stand Up events planned. These events include concerts, silent vigils, tree plantings, campus rallies and many more creative event ideas. Last year 116 million people participated, breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest mobilization around a single-cause event in recorded history.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Yellow and brown folders

I was somehow awaken from my sleep by an unrully and unexpected phonecall around 11 am. It was my mother at school, asking me to head straight to the school. It sounded urgent, but i was quite dubious of her summoning me early in the morning while she was at her workplace. Being my mom, i know far too well of her schemes. I took a short shower, and i was on my way to MRSM Kuantan.

My mom was waiting for me with that cheeky smile of her, signalling that i have a task waiting for me somewhere in the school. She brought me to a room where piles and piles of yellow and brown folder lie stacked on the floor. I know that what i was about ot do will involve me mendling with all those folders. They were folders of student's information, going back all the way to 2005. My mother's friend briefed me on the task in hand; i was to key in certain information of students into spreadsheets to be sent to MARA HQ. Being raised by MARA all my life, a little typing and keying in is the list i can do. Sounds easy, but the folders do not just contain names and personal details about them, but they hid a sorrow chorus of grimness which the families of these students had to endure in the secluded areas around Malaysia they call home.

One of the folder tells about a student who came from a family of 15 siblings. What shattered me was the fact that the only breadwinner in the family was a just a single mother, who worked as a Felda settler with a monthly income of just RM600. I just could not comprehend the idea of a single mother could feed such a huge family. My family spend at least RM 250 for groceries every fortnight, and my family is only 6 people big. Instead this is a woman who brought up 15 children with an RM 600 paycheck. My attempt to imagined the situation and the standard of living that they had to go through was beyond comprehend, emotionally and logically.

Another was about a student whose father was a pensioner who relies on RM 400 a month to raise a family of 7. One could not help to ponder what kind of life do they lead, what kind of shelter do they live in, what kind of food do they consume... questions that stabed and ached my heart.

These are a few of the many stories of families who had to endure such tribulations and hardships. After all this while, i though stories like theirs are only plots in soap dramas on the television. But these are true life accounts, real-life conditions which these families had to endure, but sadly go unnotice. I was fortunate enough to be born in a family which is able to provide more than my essentials. How would they have survived with that small amount of money in this very hard times.

How can i eat with ease when they are people out there who can't afford a decent meal and their staple food are just tubers and rice donated to them?

How can i wear the many clothes i have when there are people out there whose clothes are all torn and worn out by time and dirt?

How can i enjoy the comfort of my home when there are families who had to call a crammed one-room hut as their home?

It just kills me.......

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Scrumptous, spicy, negeri sembilan food served with sugary desserts have always greeted my family on my mother's side at least once every Ramadhan. It has been a tradition for us to have this family-get-togethe-cum-iftar where most of my family members will assemble at my Mak Teh's house to break fast and have Tarawikh together. It's kind the once-every-year thingy, like raya where the whole family will convene in a fiesta of gastronomical festicvities. It was supposed to be those normal gathering that we had every year, but somehow, it turned out to be one which has surely left a huge mark not just in my 20 years of life, but it would be my realization to a turning point which starts to unravel in the coming days of my life.
My family was somehow appointed to 'foresee' the planning and the invitation of the event, though it was held in Damansara. Pak Lang and Pak Ngah, with their pious exterior and interior, have always been asked to lead thefamily's tarawikh. Unfortunately, my Pak Lang was in Mecca performing his umrah. My mom thought it would be nice if the 3rd generation would take the lead as the imam. So, she chosed me. I don't have any problem with it all, though my Ayat Lazim and Baqarah needed some brushing up to do. No piggy for me at all.
That night, i took lead of the congregation, reciting what's left of the memorized Al-Baqarah inside my head. I've done it a couple of times, so it was something that send shiver down my spines. A few glitches here and there, but alhamdullillah, everything went well and we completed the 8 rakaat of tarawikh and 3 rakaats of witir. It's those normal solat jemaah, and nothing fancy bout it. However, as the male line dissolved, what i saw completely shocked me. One of my aunties was emotionally crying, and i could see pools of tears formed in the water-glistened eyes if my grandma and my aunties. Was i that bad? i thought. Somehow, grandma extended her hands, waving it at me, asking me to appraoch her. She opened her arms and i could feel the warmth of a grandmother's love towards her grandson as she hugged me thighly. I could feel warm-tears slowly flowed down my neck, and she said to me "Inilah hadiah terbaik yang wan boleh dapat". One of my aunty held my hand and she hoped that this must not stop here. A wavering surge of my family's hope and aspiration gushed into the the my very veins, and from there, it came to me.
I have always thought that the only way i could prove myself worthy of my family's love is through worldly, tangible achievements. This axiom has fueled my never-ending thirst for victories, accomplishments, and glory. A tradition of excellence has slowly and gradually established in the pressure of proving myself to my family. But after that night, after i felt the comforting warmth of my grandma's hugs, the family's hope and aspiration from my aunties, i realized that what i have achieved after all this while came second. From what i see, what matters the most to them is to see the generation under them, and the coming generations, could sustain themselves not just physically, but spiritually as well. They want us to be righteous in mind and heart, where actions and decisions are made based on values engraved in the pages of the Quran and Sunnah. They know, without a shadow of doubt, that we are capable of gathering wealth and richess of the world, but it won't mean a cent if we are poor in heart and love. And i believe the same idea is shared by other families as well.
I am no cleric, and i have made a few mistakes of my own, but life is all about growing and learning, and indeed i have learned something new today.

Monday, August 31, 2009

An RM 29.90 pants

17 boys from MaBIQ, the local tahfiz school, ranging from the age of 6 to 16, greeted us as we stepped into Kamdar. The awe and excitement was apparent on their faces. My dad’s company was generous enough to donate RM 150 each for them to buy new Baju Melayu and clothes for them to celebrate on Hari Raya with their family, and my mother add in another 1000 to make their shopping trip a day to remember. These boys are from impoverished areas around Kuantan, who are not able to get a decent education as they can’t afford to get one. Some of them came all the way from Perak, though the question of how they end up in Kuantan I am not sure of the answer. At the school, their curriculum is Islamic oriented, where they emphasized a lot on memorizing the Quran and the Syariah.

It really caught my attention to see how the hopped from one section of the place to another. From their action, it is quite clear that they are quite hesitant of spending a ‘huge’ amount of money on clothes which they deemed are very ‘fancy’ and ‘posh’. Bear in mind that this is Kamdar where the baju melayu over there just cost around RM 20 to 90.

I got to assist a 16 year-old boy named Suhaimi on his ‘shopping spree’. I observed him as he hovered from one pants to another, flipping them from side to side, but after an hour over there, he didn’t come to a conclusion of what pants to buy. I convinced him into choosing any pants that he likes, and insisted him of not looking at the price tags. He slowly approached a cream-coloured slack pants and he showed it to me. For someone who is much inclined to quality, I examined the pants, and it is not something that I would wear. I took a look at the price tag and it was just RM29.90. He noticed that I was looking at the price tag and he suddenly apologized. “Mahal sangat ke bang? Saya tak pernah beli seluar harga camni”. I was taken aback and drowned in sympathy. Here was a boy who was reluctant to buy a RM29.90 pants because he thinks it is too expensive, and I was wearing an RM150 jeans.

The time I spent with these boys made me realize that they are familiar and aware of the opportunities available beyond the four walls of their school. A boy asked me about the school I am currently studying. I told them about the uni I’ll be attending. Their response were quite alien to me , and it came in the form of question directed to me with neutrality and confusion. “mane dapat duit tuk belajar abang?” Money was the first thing that came into their mind. My secondary and higher education fees have always been paid by MARA. But in their world, education was one of many areas that they believe that they can’t afford to enjoy. I talked about scholarships to them, but word does not register in their heads because they never heard of “scholarship”. To them, education is limited to those who are wealthy and the world is not made for them. However as I share my experience in Kuala Klawang and Langkawi during my MRSM days, they seemed so eager and it shows how interested of them in the idea of education and the perks it has to offer.

There are a lot of things in life, especially the small ones, we often take for granted; from the fancy clothes we wear on our body, to the mouth-watering delicacies that we enjoy on the dining table at least 3 times a day, to the warmth and comfort in the place we call home. To most of us, we are born with a silver spoon in our mouth, and we can get whatever we want simply on demand. But to the families of these boys, everyday is a battle just to meet ends meet. They are just some out of countless families who share the same fate as theirs. A single mother who rely on RM 100 a month from the welfare department to feed her 5 hungry children, a father who work odd jobs to make sure the bills are paid and his children get books to study. Listen to their story.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Family is where my home is

It is another 1 month till I board the MH2 MAS flight to London, leaving Malaysia, and continuing the next 5 years of my life on British soil. My dreams of reading medicine in the UK and having a nice shiny stethoscope around my neck has come to a near. I have waited this moment since I was 5, but as it comes closer, I felt this kind of solitude and displeasure suddenly arise out of the excitement of a UK education in London. I soon realized that I am not 100% ready to embark on this journey yet. Physically, I am built for it, but emotionally, my heart is still with my family here in Malaysia.

I chose MRSM Langkawi as my upper-secondary school of choice so that I can be far away from my family as possible. I also voiced out my intention to my friends of going out on this once-in-a-lifetime journey, with time and distance separating us. How bold and naïve I was back then. But once I got into my college years, that is when I found the value of family.

Now, as I count the days where I have to depart from them, I feel this awful kind of sadness gripping me slowly but surely. Maybe it’s true when they say, distance makes the heart grows fonder. I’ll be celebrating Raya in London this year, away from the warmth and festivities of my home in Kuantan. Trully, in every man, there is a child, regardless of how far he traverse, his heart will find his way back home. For me, inshallah, I’ll be coming back into my family’s arms one day. Family is where my home is.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A decison a Pakistani man has to make...

At times, people will have to make very tough decisions, but it can never be compared to the decision that Mohammed Iqbal from an improvished region in Pakistan had to make; to sell his kidney or his children, for a sad 1500 dollars?
He had to face this tribulation after being drowned in debt with his lanlord, who he borrowed money with, just to pay for the medical bills for his family and his wedding. I personally feel that no one should have to endure making difficult, inhumane decisions just to make sure there's a roof above his or her family, or to get a decent healthcare. I wondered on what grounds he made the decision and i seriously cant imagine myself being in his torn shoes. There are laws banning the selling of organs in Pakistan, but the enforcement department seems to be the most important yet missing piece in this huge, tanggled, sad puzzle. Toblame demand would be very inmature, as everyday people fall sick and in dire need of organ transplant. But my heart goes out to millions of people like Mohammed Iqbal, poverty stricken who had to make such decision. To me, one thing for sure, it all leads down to a more bigger and serious picture which has been the attention of nations, but with little effective action; poverty and famine. The so-called "rich-nations" have pledged billions and billions of dollars and euros and yens in aids to third world countries like Africa and Pakistan, still they have only reached a fraction of their total goal. Its and irony that wealthy nations have invested so much of their God-given resources in wars on the pretext of "spreading peace and democracy" when they have other alternatives which involve less killing and more humanity. The economic downfall was the number one excuse given by these nation's leaders which cause them to lag from their 25 billion dollars target by 2010 to africa. Well, US can still invest 651.2 billion dollars in defence, Sivio Berlusconi of Italy can still manipulate the state media to cover up its promiscuous activities with teenage girls, so why not they take out a very small share of their GDP to make the world a more sustainable and better place to live in. It's not whether they are able to, it's a question whether they want to give it or not. The battle that they have to concentate on is not just in the rouge lands of the SWAT valley or the Helmand Valley, as the biggest war of all takes place in the hearts and minds of the citizens of the world.
And if you are still wondering what Mohammed Iqbal chosed, he did what any responsible would do; sell his kidney.

This man's landlord forced him to pay off money he borrowed for his children's medical bills.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Scribbling after the 6th of July

What a relief... The IB results have arrieved, and it brought along a cocktail of bad and good news to the students of KMB. Some were completely gratified and thrilled to get the results that they hope for, and it had the sense that their two years of pain-stacking, gruelling IB has bear its fruits. But there were also those who are unfortunate, but i believe that they have worked as hard, if not, harder, than those who were successfull. it's just luck wasn't there to give that laverage. I believe that their future will be more vibrant than most of us, and i wish and pray them the best. Don't give up.
My results came unexpectedly. In the weeks leading to the 6th of July, i had totally deregistered the IB exams from my memory. I was so entanggled by my new hobby; travelling and music, that i have totally forgotten that the annoucement of the results has came to a near.
I didn't expected much. My forecast were ambition-lacked; a 6 in Maths maybe. 2 marks bonus marks... oklah. I also felt that econs would be around a 6. When that day arrived, i felt a sudden gush of anxiety travelling from the feet upwards, and it hovered around the chest, activating the sweat and adrenaline glands, which in turn caused me to severely perspire. I knew, in my mind, that the results are already out at school, but i wasn't sure whether to end the wait immediately by asking the teachers, or should i wait until 9.15 pm, when the IBO will upload our results on the net. It could not be contained, so i messaged someone, asking if the results are out. It has. OMFG! Then i got a phone call. I know it was about my result. i picked it up, and the person from the end of the line further exacerbated my anxiety attack, asking me whether if i would like to know my IB points? Yes, obviously.
I would never forget that moment when she uttered the digits of my pointer. My reaction depicted the time when Federer clinched his 15th Wimbledon title against Andy Roddick, and i kneeled and prostrated the presence of Allah as a sign of deep gratitude to Him for giving me the results that I didn't expected much. I just could not contain the tears that came trailing down my eyes; a great relief after what i have endured in KMB. It was sheer joy, and it lasted just for 17 minutes.
Reality came slapping on my face, and made me realize that what i got wasn't the destination, but a mere pitstop of my rally to the greater cause and objective that i have decided to bind myself to. After a day, it felt good, but noticably it was diminishing, and by the 2nd day, it felt nothing. And i just hope, in the long run, it won't turn into a curse, as what happened to me before.
Nevertheless, i felt grateful for the outcome i received. I dedicate this to my parents and family for their endless support, love and care. And if not for my dedicated teachers who put so much energy, time and faith in me, i would never come close to what i have now. And of course, my friends and my batch, who stood together through thick and thin, teaching me the ups and downs of life. Regardless of who you are, who came to know me, in some ways, you have lead me to my present and future, and prevent me from resenting myself on the past. I was a nobody, and all of you make me a somebody. I am trully in debt.
Now i could breath for a while, before i continue writing my next chapter my life.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I was lost not knowing how to kill the time i had in this very long break after my exams. So, my dad, seeing me sleeping and gaining pounds, asked me to give a talk on IB to the form 5 students in MRSM Kuantan for their Career Week program. He also had to present something on career in medicine. I didn't prepare much, just equipped myself with a couple of powerpoint slides and 2 years of experience. Thinking that having 2 separate files will take too much time that would rot the students to death, I suggested to my that is better to combine nthe slides into one. Good idea, he said. As I was transferring my presentation to his laptop, there was a file which caught my attention. It was a powerpoint presentation; "MFA.pptx". My initials. What was it about? Curiousity arose but i just pushed it aside. Its nothing i guess, might be some slides for his some other talk.
When i was in the small classroom, where he gave the talk in front of around 50 students whose passions are running high for medicine, i can't help myself from observing his 'tango', moving left to right, and left back again, a
s he pour his almost 30 years' of experience to them, and i realized how this man and me are 2 worlds apart. Apart from the minor resemblence from the neck above, i have to admit we have very little in common. I'm "not that tall", he's average sized. Me, chubby. My dad, skinny as a stick. He is a man of few words, while I'm the mean talking machine. It's funy how i end u
p being blood-related to him.
He took around 45 minutes before he gave the floor to me. Before i "bored" them, my dad opened the file which i was so curious the night before. The slides was about me, my biography, my life's journey and my almost all my life's experience. Every newspaper excerpts, pictures, awards, and articles about me and my firsts was on his slides, which "oohed" and "ahhed" the crowd, leaving them in amazement. There was this great pride on his face that was brightly radiated from his face; a father's pride for his son. I thought I had impressed him so little with all i had achieved, and at the same time i never e
xpected levish rewards from my parents as i did it for myself and for personal reasons. But in fact, from the fluctuations of his tones, from the thick atmosphere of amazement, I realized that he was always proud of me, and in his eyes, i saw a father's love to his son. My initial instic
t was to give this 49 year old man a nice father-son hug, but it would only turned up as a soap opera with the students as its audiense. So i just contained my overwheling love towards my dad. And i know he loves me in his own way.
This is the man who, every 6.45 am, would wake up, and sweep the floors. This is the dad who prefers to repair the pipes and wiring in the house despite the professional help available around him. This is the man who iron his own clothes
because he prefers it that way ( and not becau
se my mom's a lazy queen control). Not all man are like him, but i am proud to be his son. This is the man who's my mentor, my idol, my best friend. He is Kamarizan, My Dad.
I love you, Papa.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mind your own business, Republican strategist guy!

When i turned on my Pocketwit on my pocket pc, a thread of news on the iranian post-election fall out has been pouring in by CNN, as if the world stood still and there were no other story to be covered. I turned on the tele and channeled in to CNN to see what all the commotion is all about. On the screen was this Republican strategy analyst who was blasting President Obama for not taking a more "aggrasive stand" on this issue, and suggested that its allies are demanding for more action from the president. I was just compelled and disgusted by his remarks and suggestions of wanting America and the UN to impose economic sanctions on Iran, which clearly has failed to meet its purpose of pressuring Iran in the past. If he was trully an "analyst", he must know better that Iran has survived, in fact thrived from one sacntions to another. But the most important is that he must acknowledged that Iran is a sovereign country, and no country can budged its nose into its internal affair. Let them resolve their own problems. From my stand point, i see him as an opportunist neo-con who sees the current development in Iran as a chance for them to continue with their imperialist agenda. Some might say that the situation will detiorate even more if they don't intervene, justifying by the increase number of suicide bombers and the the ever-growing threat of a civil war brewing in Iraq as the dateline of US troops withdrawal came closer. To me, all these violence has been initated by the US themselves, who invaded Iraq on the pretext of "spreading democracy and liberating the people of Iraq". No doubt that Saddam Hussein was not popular among its people and seen as a dictator, but at least its people has seen better development and prosperity relative to the suffering which is on the surge present. Now, the president is withdrawing his troops, leaving Iraq in a very dire state. I'm not insisting US troops to remain in the country, but it is my hope that they have laid down a more proper, extensive, and systematic plan to empower the government and cultivate unity among its people, cleaning up the mess that they have started, as done by the British to its colonies, so that the country is left peaceful. Well, who am i to mend this broken world. I am a mere citizen of the world, just wanting to see the world a more peaceful place to leave in (if that is still possible). And I believe it is.