Thursday, September 28, 2006

Big Storm in Little Teacup...

... not all Singaporeans regard everything Mr. Lee Kuan Yew says or does these days as superior logic - and the furore he has raised in Malaysia is one of these split issues. Some people feel his reference to marginalised ethnic Chinese in Malaysia was unnecessarily provocative. I am one of those who believe that some of Mr. Lee's ideas have become outdated for today's Singapore, but on the current controversy, I am fully behind him.

What sparked off the controversy was Mr. Lee's comment that the attitude of Malaysia and Indonesia towards the Republic was shaped by the way they treated their own ethnic Chinese minorities. By Seah Chiang Nee, 27th September 2006

Some choose to believe that MM Lee's remark was irresponsible, amongst a barrage of other things. Then, there is one who has spent a lifetime trying to best the bitter rival in MM Lee and loves nothing better than another chance to have go at him, regardless. Others think the good Minister has a hidden agenda. Young(er) Singaporeans like Chiang Nee thinks his views are archaic. But of all descriptions thrown his way, no one on either side of the Causeway has yet accused MM Lee of being a liar.

My view on this provocative issue is that MM Lee was merely stating the obvious. I am totally unaffected by the statement and I'm truly confounded by the intensity of ill-response generated towards it. I reason that it is because it has always been a truth, but rarely acknowledged. It has always been one of those things that people know but never speak of. Thus, MM Lee's statement comes as no surprise.

Chiang Nee is Singaporean. I'm Malaysian. We're both Chinese. And while anyone might think that my nationality by default makes me a victim implied by MM Lee's sweeping statement about my ethnicity, I am contrarily quite unbothered by it. Tomorrow morning, I wake up and continue with life in Malaysia as I have always known it. It doesn't look set for changes anytime soon. C'est la vie.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Allah is kind...

...merciful and forgiving plus 96 other ‘characteristics’. If our Allah can be all these, then why can’t we too since we too are his creation? When we say Allah is kind, to whom is He kind? When we say merciful, to whom is He merciful? And the same goes for forgiving as well. Who do we forgive if not those who transgress? We do not forgive our friends or those who have done us no wrong. It is our enemies we forgive. - By Raja Petra Kamaruddin in Malaysia Today, 21st September 2006


RPK was commenting on the Pope's quotation which drew worldwide condemnation, especially from the Muslim world. I say that because I am from a group of many who are not from the Muslim World but are not too keen on what happened either. Although for diversely different reasons, as a Catholic who staunchly believes in moderation and tolerance, I am against whatever reasons The Holy Father might have had to touch on a sensitive subject. The Muslims on the other hand, are likely to be unsure of exactly why and what it is that they are still angry about in spite of an apology already made.

Perhaps along the same vein with RPK's statement, this unfortunate event serves only to underscore the importance of sensitivities and awareness especially for others. We should not be unduly over-sensitive of our selves that we forget that there are others that we should empathize with.

Finally, what I feel should become everyone's golden rule; when in doubt, shut up and think first.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Theory of Moral Sentiments...

... "How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it" - Adam Smith

Adam Smith; most renowned as the father of modern economics. His lesser-known talent is for philosophy, or so it would seem.

How soever, I do think that the start of this line is a bit of an anomaly. He implies that no matter how selfish a person is, there are exceptional times when he does something for the sheer pleasure of seeing someone else happy. But since the pleasure derived from seeing someone else happy is his alone, isn't that selfishly motivated to begin with?

Not to be mistaken, I am in agreement with Mr Smith on this view. I am merely of the inclination that no matter how altruistic, magnanimous or municifent one might be towards an end, there is always a motivating factor behind it. It may be something as simple as going out of the way to see someone else smile or something as complex as allowing one's welfare to be sacrificed in exchange for some one else's good. There is ALWAYS a motivation... and love is normally the biggest culprit.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The power of a single mind...

... over matters of unimaginable odds.

Early on, it looked as though the match would be a blowout for Agassi, who raced to a two-sets-to love lead. With an injection of cortisone propping up the ailing discs in his back, Agassi looked confident and surprisingly energetic, skipping to the sideline after an early break of serve. Throughout the match, he struck the ball cleanly and convincingly. Late in the match, after holding serve at a critical juncture, Agassi jumped up and down on court like his 4-year-old son Jaden Gil.

Agassi won the match, by the way. He beat the young Cypriot upstart, Marcos Baghdatis,
6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5. Also by the way, Baghdatis was merely 14 months old when Agassi started playing competitive tennis.

The U.S. Open Tennis Championship 2006 will be Andre Agassi's last trip to Flushing Meadows as a competitor. And for good reason. The man is 36 years old! Considering how 90% of the players in the Open Singles categories are below the age of 30, Agassi is ancient at 36.

And along with the age are the symptomatic signs that he has to deal with; fatigue from playing marathon 5-setters with kids a little more than half his age and a chronic back problem as a result of years of physical stress. Anyone lesser would have given up years ago. In fact, when Agassi went through his abyssmal slump to a career low of 141 in the ATP rankings back in 1997, it would have been perfectly expected for him to just lie down and give up. But no, not Andre...

It is said that a man by the name of Anthony Robbins motivated and nursed Andre back on his feet, turned him around and what was left is the indelible mark of a meteoric and unprecedented comeback that will be near impossible to replicate. A year later, he was back at No.6 in the world. And by then, he was already 28. People retire from competition at earlier ages in some sports.

So, that's the rise, the fall and the rise again of the great Andre Agassi. This year's U.S. Open will be his swan-song and no matter what stage of the competition he goes out, millions will be watching. When he waves his last goodbye on centre-court, millions wave back in tribute. And no doubt that millions will remember the moment for many years to come.

But enough about Andre.

My learning today is from Andre Agassi as an illustration of the power of an individual mind. I have never been to a Tony Robbins' UPW (Unleash the Power Within) Seminar and thus have never experienced what the fire-walking brou-ha-ha is all about. And if it is true that Tony did turn Agassi around, I would be in awe, not of Tony but of Agassi. Tony may have been the guide but there is no use of a road-map for a lost soul if he is not determined to find his way back. Simple as that sounds, Agassi is the embodiment of determination overcoming all odds including age and an ailing back, to RETURN to the pinnacle of success. Here's a rebel who's found his cause.