A Leader’s Prayer

Gary Hooser, a former senator and council member from Hawaii was recently given the honour to offer words of ‘ reflection and contemplation ‘ to the Hawaii State Senate.

He spoke briefly and talked about leadership taking many forms.

He encouraged his audience to think about the path of servant leadership.

Gary Hooser followed his brief remarks by reading:

A Leader’s Prayer’
( There is no known attribution for this prayer)

Leadership is hard to define.
Let us be the ones to define it in justice.

Leadership is like a handful of water.
Let us be the people to share it with those that thirst.

Leadership is not about watching and correcting.
Let us remember it is about listening, connecting and acting.

Leadership is not about telling people what to do.
Leadership is about finding out what people want
and then helping them and empowering them to achieve that.

Leadership is less about the love of power
and more about the power of love.

As we continue to move down the path of leadership,
let us learn from and follow in the footsteps of those
servant-leaders that have gone before us.

Let our greatest passion be compassion.
Our greatest strength love.
Our greatest victory the reward of peace.

In leading, let us never fail to follow.
In loving, let us never fail.

This prayer is certainly worthy of reflection and deep contemplation.
( this prayer first appeared in freecatholic808 – 4 February 2018 )


Penang remains a favourite holiday destination for many

Malaysians and Foreigners Alike

I recently returned from yet another holiday spent in Penang, that glorious tropical island. Surprisingly even after numerous family holidays spent along the beaches of Penang, especially the famed Batu Ferringhi beach, my entire family are still enamoured by the island’s many charms.

Looking back over the last sixty years or so, I can still remember my first experience of Penang. It was way back in the early fifties when my late father, Victor Morais was the editor of a newspaper in Ipoh, Perak called the Malaya Tribune. My parents took us for a holiday to Penang in a brand new Austin A40 motor car.

I remember vividly that we stayed for a few days at a then prominent and well patronised two-storey hotel with the quaint name, Springtide Hotel. This hotel was situated along the then famous Tanjong Bungah beach. Today, that beach plays second fiddle to Batu Ferringhi beach.

Springtide Hotel Beckons

Springtide Hotel was unlike our modern hill rise hotels and resorts. It was basically a two-storey bungalow that was converted into a small hotel. It was patronised mostly by British civil servants, planters and tin miners. Most locals then chose to stay with relatives or friends when on holidays because it was much too costly to check into a hotel in those days.

The hotel was able to serve both western as well as Chinese dishes. We normally had a western breakfast of toast, butter /jam, scrambled or half boiled eggs and occasionally some sausages. For our lunch, it was the all-time favourite of nasi goreng ( fried rice ) or sometimes fried seafood noodles, Cantonese style.

The rooms had ceiling fans to cool us and I think we also had nets over the beds to keep out the pesky mosquitoes. It was a different time and a different era but it nevertheless remains a wonderful, cherished memory.

Impressive Park Royal Hotel

On this visit, we took four rooms at the 300 plus rooms, Park Royal Hotel, a 5-star property located along Batu Ferringhi beach. My two daughters and their families had a room each as well as my son. My wife and I took the last room.

As luck would have it, the hotel had just completed a refurbishment exercise. A few years ago, we had stayed at the Park Royal Hotel during another holiday. So it was great to see the hotel looking spick and span and the lobby lounge itself was totally transformed into a modern and spacious lounge. A three-piece band comprising two young female singers and a male musician belted out lively songs during the evenings to entertain the guests in the lobby.

The buffet breakfast at the Cinnamon Asian Restaurant was pretty impressive and there was something for everyone’s taste. There are western, Chinese and even Indian dishes on offer. The waiters and waitresses at this restaurant were on the ball and were quick to attend to our requests with a smile.

The hotel has a large, well-maintained garden with many medium-sized coconut palm trees offering guests lying on deck chairs plenty of shade as cool breezes from the sea blew in periodically. However, it was disappointing to note that a few of the deck chairs were broken! The hotel also has two swimming pools, one with a slide which young children seemed to enjoy. There is also a tennis court and two table tennis tables for those looking for some light and fun work out.

Wall Paintings Adorn Some Buildings

One of the unique attractions in Penang, over the last ten years or so, are the many wall paintings of local scenes, especially children at play, that adorn some buildings in George Town. This trend in Street Art was started by a then little known Lithuanian artist named Ernest Zacharevic.

His paintings are regarded by many as funny, captivating, fascinating and certainly open to interpretation by individual viewers. Later on, a few other foreign street artists added to this effort to make the city even more interesting.

Penang, I suspect, believes in re-inventing itself from time to time and that makes it doubly attractive to visitors. No wonder, it is often referred to as the Pearl of the Orient! And shine the pearl does quite beautifully.

Amazing Penang Hill Railway

A must do for any visitor to the island, with time to spare, is to take a leisurely trip up Penang Hill. The Penang Hill Railway first started operations in 1923. It was then a two section railway. In 2010, a major overhaul was undertaken to improve the level and comfort of service.

In the sixties, when I first travelled up the hill, it was on a wooden train that took about half an hour to reach the top. The trains then had no air-conditioned carriages. After the overhaul, the new funicular trains, one section railway, were smarter looking and  Swiss made, I think. They were much faster but still afforded us lovely, breathtaking views of the hill as we ascended and descended. The new trains are air-conditioned and the one-way journey now takes a mere eight minutes.

Some Suggested Activities on the Hilltop

What do you do when you reach the top?

There are a few options. I have been up the hill thrice in the last seven years. My wife and I always take a ride around the hill in an eco-friendly electric tram that seats maybe four to six passengers.

The half-hour drive around the hill is a most pleasant and enjoyable experience. During the slow drive you pass under a canopy of tall trees affording much shade and you can feel the cool and refreshing air. You can also get fantastic views of George Town from different vantage points along the route. One can also go for leisurely walks or even rent a bicycle and go for a ride if one is so inclined.

To cap the day off before you descend, you can stop by David Brown’s Restaurant for Afternoon English Tea. But do be warned, this place is expensive. There is also a cheaper option, a food court, for those just looking for a drink and some bites.

Exotic Array of Hawker Food

Visitors to the island, who enjoy indulging in exquisite hawker food, can do no better than visiting and dining at some of the world famous hawker stalls in George Town, Penang. I do remember reading about Penang being listed as one of the 10 Best Hawker Food Destinations in the World some time ago.

Then recently, the famous TV personality cum travelling chef, Anthony Bourdain reported that he was going to include some of these Penang hawker foods in a new place that he was going to open in New York. This is true global recognition indeed.

Some Hawker Food Favourites

What are some of these famous hawker foods?

Char Kway Teow, Loh Bah, Hokkien Mee ( Prawn Mee ) and not to be confused with another dish with the same name in Kuala Lumpur called Hokkien Mee. This is noodles cooked over a very hot wok and with the generous use of dark soy sauce. Another winner in Penang is Nasi Kandar. I once attempted this dish in George Town but decided against it after I noticed rats scurrying around the place. This was at one of the more famous outlets!

And finally, there is that famous Assam Laksa from Ayer Itam. However, this is now, in my opinion, not worth the effort. I happened to discover by chance, a very good Assam Laksa in a 5-star hotel, the E & O ( Eastern & Oriental ) once owned by the Sarkies brothers. I enjoyed this dish at Sarkies Corner ( quite misleading actually ) because the restaurant is huge. It also has an outdoor seating area facing the sea.

Reputation Built Over the Years

The international fame and reputation for Penang’s hawker food started way back in the seventies. This was when Adelaide and George Town became ‘ sister cities ‘ after the Prime Minister of South Australia, Don Dunstan and the Chief Minister of Penang, Dr Lim Chong Eu initiated this historic move.

This resulted in a Penang Week or Penang Fortnight in Adelaide on an annual basis. A number of the then well-known hawkers were sent on a mission to Adelaide to introduce the hawker foods and in the process to whet the appetites of South Australians.

This exchange programme… both ways incidentally went on for a number of years. I believe this Penang Week, forty plus years ago, paved the way for George Town’s current culinary fame.

Foreigners Who Visit Penang

Among the foreigners who choose to visit Penang, sometimes on a yearly basis for months at a time, are Germans, Brits, Russians and Australians. The Germans and the Russians choose to escape the cold winter months in sunny Penang.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) once had an airbase in Penang for a good number of years. Many of these visiting Australians were once stationed here while with the RAAF. Quite a number were also born in Penang. Mathew Radcliffe Ph.D, the author of the book published in Australia titled ‘ Kampong Australia – The RAAF at Butterworth  ‘ was born in Butterworth. He had served with the RAAF too.

These days many of the visitors are from the PRC. The citizens of this growing middle-class nation now have the money to spend on travel and the luxuries and they do travel extensively. According to some, they are also big spenders. They can sometimes be a little too loud too.

The Incredible Pull of the George Town Festival

I have sometimes visited Penang merely to attend some activities associated with the now famous George Town Festival. The George Town Festival or GTF is an annual month-long celebration of arts, culture, heritage and community. Some may remember that George Town was listed as a Unesco Heritage Site in 2008. GTF venues include historic mansions, landmark streets and arts-related sites like the Penang Performing Arts Centre.

The indefatigable and creative Joe Sidek is the festival director for the hugely successful GTF and he is also responsible for initiating two other fairly well-known festivals i.e. the Butterworth Fringe Festival and the Rainforest Festival.

From time to time, a one day Eurasian Fiesta is organised alongside the GTF and this fiesta is basically a heady mix of typical Eurasian food and music from well known Eurasian musicians and singers…… both past and present. The people behind this fiesta are James Rozzels and Kathleen Rodrigues.

I could go on but this should suffice for now. Penang is too big an attraction to be covered in a single blog post. Hopefully, this sharing has whetted your appetite to get to know this amazing island and its many delights.


Ghostwriters offer a real service

For individuals and organisations that have something important to say

Ghostwriting and ghost writers have been around for a long time. Ghostwriting is much more prevalent in the West than in other parts of the world. Why is this so? Many individuals want to leave something tangible behind. They want readers to know that they did not just pass through this life while on planet earth but did in fact make a contribution worth noting. As such, a book detailing their life and service or contribution is a good idea.

Who is a Ghostwriter?

Who exactly is a ghostwriter?  A ghostwriter is an individual of some considerable skill and competence in the field of writing. This individual is hired to author literary or journalistic works, especially articles, position papers, speeches and books. These efforts are then officially credited to another person.

A Professional Fee

A ghostwriter receives a professional fee for the job based on the time and effort spent on the job. To start with he receives a commissioning fee of say 20%, followed by another 30% at the half way stage and the final 50% on completion of the job. This is just a general guide.

I was once offered a ghostwriting job by a fairly well known and titled Malaysian business personality through an intermediary where it was stipulated that the payment would be made only on completion of the job.  Such was the audacity and gall of this cheeky individual.

This offer was flatly rejected. There are far too many con-men, with or without titles, and poor paymasters who are not shy of reneging with all manner of excuses.

Types of Ghostwriting Jobs

I have, however, undertaken a number of ghostwriting jobs for chief executive officers of established companies and presidents of clubs as well as societies. Most of these were to prepare speeches and press releases for these busy people. I have also prepared a few conference and seminar presentations for individuals who needed such assistance. Finally, I also undertook to prepare position papers on critical issues for a professional accountant serving on the council of an international accounting body.

Many well known business gurus, famous politicians and even celebrities turn to ghostwriters to tell their story.

Why Don’t These Individuals Write?

This could be because they do not have the time for it; or alternatively they do not possess the stamina, skill and ability to do so. Recognising this situation for what it is and having the means to pay a proper professional fee for the task at hand, many do turn to competent ghostwriters.

There are a host of famous business gurus, generals who won great wars, celebrities and politicians who have used ghostwriters.

Writing a book is, without doubt, hard work and requires discipline, energy and time to complete the task. This is what Lou Gerstner, chief executive officer of IBM had to say on the matter after he undertook to write the book: ‘ Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance ‘ – I had no idea that it ( writing a book ) would be so hard to do! ‘

Some Famous Personalities Who Used Ghostwriters

There are a host of famous business gurus, generals who won great wars, celebrities and politicians who have used ghostwriters.  Many have openly acknowledged the contribution of these ghostwriters but there are some who have not been so forthcoming.

Here are some famous personalities who have used ghostwriters. Did you know, for instance, that celebrated business guru Stephen Covey worked with Ken Shelton on the book: ‘ The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People?

Likewise, Jack Welch the legendary chief executive of General Electric had the assistance of John Byrne for his book: ‘ Jack – Straight From the Gut’.

And reality TV star of the Apprentice and real estate tycoon, Donald Trump had the service of Tony Schwartz for his book: ‘ Art of the Deal’.

Helping to Tell Their Stories with Expertise

Others who jumped on that bandwagon were Richard Branson in ‘ Losing My Virginity ‘. He had the assistance of Edward Whitley.

General Norm Schwarzkopf of Desert Storm fame had the services of writer, Peter Petre.

Former First Lady and former Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton in her book, ‘ Living History ‘ relied on Maryanne Vollers. Chris Gardner wrote the book: The Pursuit of Happyness ‘ with the kind the assistance of Quincy Troupe.

Even former president Jack Kennedy’s famous book about the courage of eight US senators titled: ‘ Profiles in Courage ‘ is rumoured to have had the assistance of famed writer, Theodore ( Ted ) Sorenson. And it won the coveted 1957 Pulitzer Prize!

Ted Sorenson was one of the many bright individuals who Jack Kennedy brought to the White House during his all too brief tenure as president.

A Malaysian Ghostwriter’s Experience

I know of a Malaysian professional in this niche field who was approached by a US based engineering professional to go over, edit and improve  his technical effort. This was a tough job but this ghostwriter was able to do it to the satisfaction of the client.

It subsequently resulted in another assignment from a different source.

There are many technical and professional individuals who do recognise their limitations in this area. To their credit, these individuals are professional and humble enough to seek this expertise from competent writers.

I do remember assisting a lawyer and a former magistrate who candidly confessed that his writings tended to be far too legalistic. He was open to the idea of learning the basics of good business writing.

Some Reasons to Engage the Services of a Ghostwriter

There are many reasons why one should think of engaging a ghostwriter.

For one, you may wish to capture the life and times of a loved one who means the world to you. You may have in your possession many relevant materials, photographs and documents. However, you have no clue how to go about the task of writing about that individual. This is when you can engage the services of a competent ghostwriter.

In another instance, you may wish to pen a tribute to a respected teacher, mentor or coach who has had a tremendous influence in your life.

Or it could be about a manager or director of a company or the president of a society or club who was truly a cut above the others in terms of managerial leadership and charisma.

In yet other instances, it could be to produce a book or booklet about a much loved club or society on its special anniversary. The list of possibilities is endless.

The important thing here is to meet that ghostwriter initially, discuss the matter in some depth and then get some idea of the time frame, supporting materials and documents that are required. You could also get an idea of the fee involved and the payment schedule. Once these matters are sorted out, you can begin the process.

Important to Honour Your Solemn Commitment

Distinguishing Mark of a Person of Integrity

I recently read a news item in one of the mainstream English language newspapers where it was reported that a staggering 410,500 individuals owe the National Higher Education Fund in Malaysia a whopping RM 6.84 billion.

Of this amount, RM 2.84 billion was from borrowers who had never bothered to repay a cent thus far to the NHEF since the programme was introduced. The report also mentioned that the remaining RM 4.05 billion in arrears is from borrowers who are paying their dues.

Indifferent to their Legal and Moral Obligations

This is shocking news on many fronts.

I am simply appalled by the indifference of these individuals to their legal and moral obligations. In addition, it reveals rather starkly a lack of integrity, the mother of all virtues, in these individuals.

These graduates are not keeping to their part of the bargain when the loan was first offered to these individuals. They seem to shrug off this responsibility with an air of casual indifference.

A reputation takes time to build and if early on in your career, you choose to self destruct in this manner, it is a wholly ill considered move.

In the process, they also inadvertently reveal to current and potential employers that they are not individuals who can be trusted! What a damning indictment!

It Behoves You to Reciprocate

These individuals who have received loans and benefited from higher education as a result, have conveniently forgotten that a much needed loan was offered to them in the first place. When someone or some organisation assists you in your time of need, it behoves you to reciprocate that act.

A loan has to be repaid if one has any principles…………no ifs and buts about that. And when you do not do so, you consciously sully your own reputation. A reputation takes time to build and if early on in your career, you choose to self destruct in this manner, it is a wholly ill considered move.

Extremely Wary of Standing as Guarantors

No wonder many Malaysians are extremely wary of being guarantors when colleagues, relatives and friends approach them. The number of shameless individuals without an ounce of personal dignity, who choose not to repay is very difficult to comprehend.

These individuals approach you with all manner of sob stories and even give you their solemn promise to repay but this is all a scam to deceive you. They have no intention whatsoever of repaying that loan. They had just taken mean advantage of your kindness and goodness of heart.

Therefore, it pays to listen to the great William Shakespeare  (Hamlet) who gave us this advice: Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry ‘.

These same individuals, I believe, have not cultivated a ‘ working ‘ conscience ( their conscience is in a comatose state  ) or even a sense of personal pride. Where are the values that they hold to guide them in life, love and career situations?

What Message are These Individuals Sending?

It is imperative that these individuals pay back their loans in a timely manner in order that other deserving candidates too can be considered for such assistance.

What message are these so called graduates sending to NHEF, their families, their employers and society at large by this wilful disregard to honour the terms of that loan agreement?

Revealing Their True Character

Finally, their current employers, regardless of whether they are in the public or private sector, should be alerted to this matter. By this casual and irresponsible disregard for their solemn obligations they have revealed their true character.

It is time we Malaysians get back to the good old fashioned values of yesteryear that have stood the test of time. Your word and your commitment must be taken seriously.

Good to be in the Civil Service?

Another Perspective to this Statement

Recently a reader of a main stream English language newspaper wrote a letter to the editor of that publication extolling the benefits of being in the civil service. His letter when published in the newspaper’s Letters page was titled: Good to be in the civil service.

Pension after Retirement

The main thrust of the writer’s case is that there is a pension to look forward to after retirement. He also cites the case of a friend who resigned from government service to go into business with a like-minded colleague. This business arrangement unfortunately ran into serious problems and the friendship too suffered as a result.

The letter also cautions others to ‘ think twice ‘ before resigning from government service. The writer also mentions that his friend is bitter about the decision he made and wishes that he had thought twice before resigning. Now he is apparently paying the price for that decision by continuing to work even at the age of sixty five because he has no pension.

Another Discerning Look at the Issue

I would like to offer a different perspective to the issue.

As most people are aware, venturing into business is always going to be a risky proposition. The percentage of those who actually succeeded is very small. This is a worldwide phenomenon.

Much too often, individuals go into business without a proper preparation and the necessary due diligence. They are all fired up with their ability to sell or market a product or service and are less likely to listen to sound advice from those in the know.

Civil Service Has Lost Its Lustre

The Malaysian civil service was once one of the best in the region. This was so especially after independence and till the late seventies. Many well qualified candidates chose to be in government service and only opted for the private sector if that was not possible. These civil servants performed at a professional level on a consistent basis and were generally highly regarded.

Over time, many changes took place. The mix of factors, political and otherwise, has to a lot to do with the slow decay and decline in the civil service. Quality candidates these days choose to look for opportunities in the growing private sector. More MNCs are now operating in Malaysia and these companies are on the look out for candidates of calibre.

Prepare to Forego Challenges and Promotions

One friend who left government service in the seventies put it quite bluntly: ‘ To get this pension, one should be willing to forego the challenges and the development of one’ latent potential.

One must also be prepared to forego promotions when less deserving candidates are fast tracked because of other unknown considerations! In addition, in order to get this pension one must endure mind numbing boredom, mediocrity and bureaucracy for years ‘.

In Life, Love and Career Situations There are No Guarantees

Yes, of course, do think twice or even thrice. Once you have made that all important decision, do not ever look back with regret. Instead look forward with confidence. I too was offered this advice by a good friend when he heard that I was contemplating resigning from government service after having put in 19 years.

That friend meant well. However, I chose to go ahead because to me that was a major decision I was prepared to make after all the relevant factors were considered. This is because I truly believe that in life, love and career situations there are no guarantees.

Courage and Confidence come from Within

President Ronald Regan once famously remarked after a space tragedy in the United States: ‘ The world belongs to the brave and the bold ‘. Courage and confidence unfortunately cannot be purchased from the neighbourhood convenience store! These qualities come wholly from within.

Before embarking on that significant and life changing move to the private sector, one must prepare adequately for it by continuous self education…as a life long pursuit and passion. You should also carry out a proper and realistic audit of your strengths and weaknesses and determine if you have what it takes to not only survive but make it in the private sector. There must also be that willingness to ‘ stretch ‘ yourself and the ability to work long hours as well as work smart.

The key to continuing success in the private sector is your ability to give your employer even more value on a consistent basis.

Give Your Employer Even More Value

The key to continuing success in the private sector is your ability to give your employer even more value on a consistent basis. Additionally, it is also your willingness to undertake urgent assignments and projects as required by your employer.

And when you do so willingly and with competence and flair, you will be noticed and recognised in an appropriate manner. And when there are promotions to be made, you will be on the shortlist.

In the private sector, as I discovered, you are measured among other factors, by Key Performance Indicators ( KPIs ). If you meet or exceed these KPIs on a regular and consistent basis, you are quick to be recognised and rewarded.

Deliver Excellent Results on a Consistent Basis

Unlike in the civil service where so much emphasis is placed on your entry level qualifications and you are then placed in a special salary grade, the private sector is focused more on your ability to deliver excellent results on a regular basis.

I am pleased to report that many of my friends and colleagues have made the transition to the private sector with considerable success. A few have, I admit, faltered because they lost focus, grew careless and impatient and subsequently gave up much too soon.

Quick to Recognise and Reward

In my case, I worked for two major international accounting institutes for over 18 years. I certainly enjoyed the challenges that came my way. My bosses here in Malaysia as well as those in London were very supportive throughout my years of service.

So too were the members and students of these international accounting institutes. Both these bodies were also quick to recognise and subsequently reward me with perks, privileges and significant salary increases on a regular basis.

Enjoyed Teaching at La Salle Brickfields

I must admit, however, that I did enjoy teaching at La Salle Secondary School, Brickfields, in Kuala Lumpur for 15 years.

The teaching chores, the camaraderie and the fellowship with teaching colleagues, the wide variety of extra mural activities with students, and the La Sallian traditions and ethos were a real delight.

Relished the Excitement, Professionalism and Satisfaction

What I particularly relished was the excitement, professionalism and satisfaction of embarking on new challenges and worthwhile initiatives while in the private sector. There was none of that repetitive, boring and soul destroying bureaucratic activities on the other side of the fence.

For sure, there were risks to be faced and I had my share too. But in such times, one should remain resolute, flexible and be prepared to think out of the box in facing such situations. It was, for me, an adrenaline rush of a delightful kind.

In short, even after thinking twice, leaving for the private sector was the best career decision of my life. If you can make it in the private sector, managing your finances in the post retirement phase should be a cinch …if you are disciplined. Moreover, it is merely a case of ‘ cutting your coat according to your cloth’.

Taman Jaya Was Once a Lovely Lakeside Oasis

Now It Is In A Sorry State of Neglect

As many are aware, cities all over the world are slowly but surely becoming concrete jungles. There are just far too many houses, office buildings, roads, highways and other structures in our cities. It seems as though all the lofty principles of good town planning can be sacrificed for a price.

Disappearing Parks

At the same time, what little we have in terms of gardens and parks in the cities are wantonly and carelessly reduced at the altar of greed. Even established green lungs, in the form of a small park or a football field, in housing estates are sometimes taken over by those with vested interests to erect huge condominiums!

Those who bought the houses in these areas for precisely that reason have to suffer this unfortunate fate. In addition, the values of their houses have also fallen quite dramatically.

I have lived, initially in Section 5, and later in Section 6, Petaling Jaya for over fifty-six years. It was once a lovely liveable city with well-kept parks, neat rows of houses and ample parking within the city too. All that orderliness and space seems to have vanished with the never-ending need to fill every available space, nook and corner with buildings, especially condos.

Success Park Was a Haven

In the seventies, many families in Petaling Jaya, especially those living in neighbourhood sections in and around New Town PJ used to take their young children to the park for an evening outing. At that time, Taman Jaya ( Success Park ) was well maintained. The fun structures there for the children to play on were safe and well looked after.

Today, the neglect and indifference shown to Taman Jaya is ‘on show’  for all to see. For a city that likes to boast with all manner of slogans on billboards about how progressive it is, this is a crying shame. Surely, they have adequate manpower in the municipality, especially in the relevant department, to take care of this matter.

Missing in Action

Where are these workers and supervisors? Sitting in their air-conditioned offices, chatting away, instead of going down to the ground and doing their jobs!

I go to the park four times a week in the early mornings for my walks. I usually complete three full rounds in about 45 minutes.  I have noticed only one male worker, probably in his fifties, diligently going about his work, day after day. He cleans the place as best as he can, he trims the hedges from time to time and he carries out other mundane tasks.

Why do we have a park with a lovely lake in it if we are not going to keep it pristine, clean and a sight to behold and marvel? This is shameful neglect.

I have also noticed two women workers occasionally watering the plants.  I used to notice a male worker collecting garbage from the lake from time to time while sitting in a boat. Not anymore. There is so much garbage floating on the lake. This consists of plastic wrappers, tin cans, empty drink bottles, fronds and branches etc.

How can this be a pretty sight or even acceptable by any stretch of imagination for a city that thinks it is progressive and modern?

Why do we have a park with a lovely lake in it if we are not going to keep it pristine, clean and a sight to behold and marvel? This is shameful neglect. It is not the only instance.

Rubbish can be seen discarded all over the park. This is the fault of inconsiderate users who come to the park to chat with their friends and bring along packs of fast food and local favourites, like nasi lemak and fried noodles with them.

Concerned Citizens Spring into Action

After consuming the food, these individuals just discard the food packets, empty drink boxes and plastic wrappers wherever they please. There are, for the record, sufficient garbage bins placed all over the place and yet these individuals behave in such a crass, inconsiderate manner. They have no ounce of civic pride.

On the other hand, on two occasions I have noticed some public-spirited senior citizens, each with a stick in one hand and a plastic bag in the other hand, picking up the garbage and then depositing it in the garbage bins. It is not their job but I suppose they were just concerned citizens who could not stand the park being dirtied in this cavalier manner.

Line Dancers Go Through Their Routine

Despite the poor conditions in the park, a group of about twenty plus women line dancers in their thirties and forties can be seen gracefully going through their stylised motions every single day. They put on lively country and western music and go through their enjoyable routine with joy on their faces. A few brave men occasionally join them in this fun activity.

In yet another part of the park and facing the lake, a bigger group of men and women numbering about forty and dressed in black pants and white t-shirts practise Tai Chi with great seriousness on a daily basis.

As I walk around the park, I am usually overtaken by a series of men and women, some young and some quite senior. Some of them are jogging, a few are walking briskly and others like me are in their own zone and walking at a steady, leisurely pace.

Public Parks in London, Perth and Sydney

I make it a point to visit public parks when I am overseas. In London, when I used to visit that city almost on a yearly basis for my divisional director’s conferences for over eighteen years, I frequently made time to visit a park.

London has, to my knowledge, two maybe more, legendary parks i.e. Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. Both are huge, delightful, sprawling parks with many amenities for the people. The gardens are exceptionally well maintained and the various facilities for the public are top class. There is even a restaurant in one of the parks.

The park that I visited in Perth is on higher ground than the rest of the city. This affords visitors fantastic views of the city from different angles. This park’s unique feature is the regal Black Swans in the lake. This park too is well maintained and has proper facilities for visitors.

Likewise, Centennial Park in Sydney is just as charming and has a range of facilities for visitors and city dwellers. When my wife and I visited it on one of our past trips to the city, we opted to rent bicycles together with the necessary helmets and enjoyed cycling around the park for over 45 minutes. After the ride, we enjoyed some ice cream from the restaurant in the park.

Way Forward to Revitalise the Park

By sharp contrast, Taman Jaya is a very small park. And yet they cannot deliver an enjoyable experience for the visitors on an on-going basis. Not because they cannot do it but because of gross indifference.

The situation at Taman Jaya can be redressed if these officials at the Petaling Jaya Municipality get down to the park and observe, first hand, what is actually the current state of the park. Repair work on some of the walkways, trimming of the hedges and weeding vegetative growth that blocks the drain holes around the park are tasks that can be attended to immediately.

The lake needs to be cleaned on a regular, weekly basis. Rubbish needs to be collected on a daily basis. And if people cannot be civic minded as well as responsible and choose to deliberately litter the park with drink boxes, plastic wrappers, food packets etc. then we should seriously consider banning food and drinks in the park.

Wardens should be employed to enforce this ruling for the greater good of all. Alternatively, charge individuals a fee, say RM 10.00 ( refundable ) for bringing food and drinks into the park. They can collect the refund when they deposit the rubbish before the eyes of a warden into the garbage bins. This seems a drastic move but we need drastic measures for stubborn and inconsiderate individuals.

I look forward to the day when Taman Jaya once again lives up to its name.

Gandhi’s Tryst with Destiny

and His Immense Contribution to Mankind

One hundred and forty-eight years ago, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 at Porbandar in the present day Indian state of Gujarat. Gandhi was often referred to and better known as Mahatma, meaning ‘ Great Soul ‘ in Sanskrit.

This term of endearment and high respect was first applied to him by that equally famous Nobel Prize winner and the first Asian to be awarded that prize in Literature, Rabindranath Tagore.

Gandhi was destined for success in the conventional sense.  But his tryst with destiny delivered a huge success of another kind. Gandhi is not only an iconic figure in India, he is also highly respected all over the world. His father was chief minister of Porbandar and other states in Western India. At age 19, Gandhi was sent to London to read law. He was subsequently called to the English Bar in June 1891 at the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.

Sent To South Africa

He returned to India to set up a law practice in Bombay but met with little success. That led him to accept a position with an Indian firm that sent him to its office in South Africa. He was to stay in South Africa for nearly 20 years.

Gandhi used to dress well and carried out his work and struggles with dignity and decorum. He was, however, appalled by the discrimination he experienced as an Indian immigrant in South Africa. In one instance, although he had a valid ticket for a journey in a train in South Africa, he was rudely and unceremoniously thrown out of the train.

Unjust Measures and Policies

After witnessing racism, prejudice and injustice to Indians and other coloured people, Gandhi was determined to fight apartheid through passive resistance. When he returned to India, he was highly critical of the unjust measures and policies of the colonial authorities. His passive resistance involved non – violent protests, civil disobedience and symbolic acts to register the displeasure of Indians.

His bold and unusual actions against the British galvanised the Indian masses and he attained a revered status. He deliberately discarded his western attire i.e. suits and took to wearing khadi –homespun and home-woven cotton clothing all the time. The image of Gandhi clothed simply in a loincloth and plying a spinning wheel is all too familiar around the world. Even on a visit to London, that was his choice of clothing!

Churchill and Gandhi

Winston Churchill, a former British prime minister well known for his war-time role in marshalling the citizens against their enemies, however, did not like Gandhi and made that crystal clear.

This is one of his infamous quotes: ‘ It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple (he got that wrong) lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the viceregal palace, while he is still organising and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the king-emperor’.

For Gandhi, simplicity was a way of life! Symbolism also mattered.

Passive Resistance and Civil Disobedience

Gandhi was involved in protesting Britain’s Salt Acts. Gandhi planned a new campaign that entailed a 240 mile march to the Arabian Sea where he could collect salt in symbolic defiance of the government monopoly. This march sparked similar protests and mass civil disobedience all over India. Over 60,000 Indians including Gandhi were jailed.

In 1942, Gandhi launched the ‘ Quit India ‘ movement that called for the immediate British withdrawal from the country. India gained its independence five years later in 1947.

Inspired Movements for Civil Rights and Freedom

Gandhi’s selfless actions and steadfastness in following through on the struggle was truly inspiring. In that manner, he was to inspire movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

The great Nelson Mandela was a true admirer of Mahatma Gandhi. He was particularly impressed by Gandhi’s philosophy of satyagraha and non –violent civil disobedience. Satyagraha actually means ‘ insistence on truth ‘ or if you like ‘ loyalty to truth ‘ as part and parcel of his effective passive resistance movement.

As president of the newly emerging rainbow nation, Mandela chose to forgive the past misdeeds of the oppressors. Mandela also chose to actively seek reconciliation in moving forward as a united nation. Such was this iconic figure’s magnanimity!

Another notable figure from history who strictly adhered to Gandhi’s philosophy of non – violence is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1955, he began his struggle to persuade the US government to declare the policy of racial discrimination in the southern states unlawful. The racists responded with violence to the black people’s non-violent initiatives. The police in these states wielded batons ruthlessly and even used fierce dogs to frighten the protestors. Some in his group wanted to retaliate but Rev. Dr. King stood firm. The bus boycott, for instance, lasted 382 days. On December 21, 1956 the Supreme Court of the United States declared, as unconstitutional, the laws requiring segregation on buses.

A third influential figure is Diasaku Ikeda, president of Soka Gakkai International.  Daisaku Ikeda is a peace builder, a Buddhist philosopher, educator, author and poet. He is the third president of Soka Gakkai, a lay Buddhist organisation in Japan and founder of several institutions promoting peace, culture and education. He has dedicated himself to bolstering the foundations of a lasting culture of peace. He is a strong proponent of dialogue as the foundation of peace. A core focus of Ikeda’s peace activities has been the goal of nuclear disarmament.

Mahatma Gandhi, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Daisaku Ikeda are four men from different cultures and continents who have followed a common path. They chose the path of profound dedication and achievement in improving the lives of all people.

Some Profound Quotes

Here are some telling quotes that reveal the thinking and philosophy of these great men. Do take a moment to ponder and reflect on these quotes because they reveal the humanity that guided them even during a troubled and difficult period.

‘ In the moment of our trial and our triumph, let me declare my faith. I believe in loving my enemies ‘ – Mahatma Gandhi

‘ On the one hand I must attempt to change the soul of individuals so that societies may be changed. On the other, I must attempt to change the societies so that the individual soul will have a chance ‘ – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

‘ A great human revolution in just a single individual will help to achieve a change in the destiny of a society, and further, will enable a change in the destiny of humankind ‘ – Daisaku Ikeda

‘ When I walked out of prison, that was my mission – to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both ‘ – Nelson Mandela

Gandhi Identifies with Uncanny Accuracy 7 Deadly Social Sins

In concluding, let me share with you the great Mahatma’s uncanny ability to identify 7 deadly sins plaguing our societies today. These are worth pondering over and deserve deep reflection and then, action on our part.

The havoc and mayhem caused by these deadly sins are taking a heavy toll in countries all over the world. Let me be clear: not just in the developing countries but also in the developed countries.

Deadly Sins

Wealth without Work

Pleasure without Conscience

Knowledge without Character

Commerce without Morality

Science without Humanity

Worship without Sacrifice


Politics without Principle


I acknowledge with gratitude that some of this information was obtained from the souvenir programme provided by the Gandhi Memorial Trust Malaysia on 2 October, 2017 at the Royal Lake Club in Kuala Lumpur.