Monday, December 31, 2012

the future

we have no fear for the future unless we forget how God had led us in the past!

so, 2013.....

bring it on!

“This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”        Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 NIV

Thursday, December 27, 2012

penang in december

it wouldn't be penang if long queues weren't seen at the 2 penang road cendol stalls....

or, the roads weren't constantly clogged with traffic.......

or, if the food courts weren't packed amidst live stage entertainment....

and, it also wouldn't be the north-south expressway if an error of judgment on the part of a single motorist didn't cause a 10km crawl...

talk about getting away from the crowd......!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

big brother

received this on my handphone today...

let's not get started on whether they have fulfilled their promises. i can imagine how they got my number (arm-twist the telco?) but it baffled me why i was chosen to receive this message while my colleagues or friends did not?

did they know our voting preferences?

is big brother watching?

end of the world?

folks, it's Dec 21, 2012.....

something is going to happen today...... 

the birds will stop SINGING......  

the skies will turn BLACK......

the sun will disappear DISAPPEAR ......... 

it is called NIGHT TIME.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

i thought i was scammed....

tried to pump petrol using credit card today. the 1st two attempts did not go through, so i thought that the card payment device at that pump was faulty. drove to another pump (same station) & this time the payment went through.

shortly after that, i received this sms.....
i was shocked since i only pumped rm30 worth of petrol. thoughts of how unscrupulous people were waiting around that pump that was rigged & preying on ignorant innocent victims like me filled my mind. i could almost hear their evil laughter as they filled petrol into their motorbikes with impunity.

i immediately called up the bank to report the misuse of the card.

however, i was relieved to be told that it's standard procedure to bill an arbitrary sum for transactions that did not go through. i'm not sure why it's done this way, but just glad that i was not penalised for being careless. i was told to call again in a few days to check the actual amount billed.

i think next time, i should press the "cancel" button at the pump when the transaction is unsuccessful, just in case.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

hercule poirot & dr obnoxious

somewhere along the trail of doctor-hopping, you'd have met dr obnoxious - the one grumpty, arrogant & condescending i'm-the-wise-doctor-you're-the-lowly-patient type.

have no fear. i have colleagues like that, too. the other day, someone threw one of dr obnoxious's personal belongings into the rubbish bin. needless to say, he was all worked up & started pointing fingers & making accusations. of course, without evidence, no one took him seriously.
another colleague joked privately that we'll need someone like hercule poirot, the famed detective from agatha christie's imagination to find the culprit. i remember watching Murder on the Orient Express in my student's days, & i won't be surprised if there were (at least)12 sets of finger prints on the discarded item.

such is the "popularity" of dr obnoxious.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

new zealand in 7 days

my friend B8's wife, E, is all fired up to vacation in new zealand after the other wives came back with stories of the paradise on earth.

since we've not been to the south island, she asked us if we'd like to go with them next year. i thought it was a good idea, considering that taking turns to drive is probably the way to go if one plans to traverse the wide expanse of land & mountains.

but B8 wants to take only 7 days off, E confessed. you see, B8 is a busy physician in  private practice plus he's also a workaholic. so, i told her if we spend 2 days for the return flight & another to recover from the jet-lag, we'd only have 4 full days for the vacation.

it was a laughable plan, i thought. i told her, as a matter-of-factly, that it's really no point going for less than 12 days.

well, what goes around, comes around & i had my comeuppance yesterday - i did my own NZ in 7 days.

that's the same as spending ONLY 45 mins at the Big Bad Wolf sale. maybe worse.

but let me defend myself. between shuttling between PJ, Puchong & Damansara to run errands, & i'm not exactly familiar with klang valley, i only had about an hour & a half for the book sale. after looking for a parking space (saturday afternoon, mind you!!) & looking for the place (the big banner at Mines 2 was most deceiving!!), that's all the time i had before the next errand.

and again, in my defence, i only targetted the books i had in mind. they didn't have jeffrey archer's 11th commandment & michael g gill's starbucks saved my life, so my only haul was this....

can you believe me? the biggest book sale is in town & i only want 3 books!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012


the generation gap is often blamed for the many arguments that arose between parents & their grown-up children. not only is the age difference telling, sometimes it's also the constrast in educational background & life experiences.

my daughter & i have our fair share of angst & aggravation between us. recently, i realised that, in the right circumstances, this difference in age & everything else can just melt away....

she bought me a novel at a sale, 3 weeks before my birthday. unknowingly, i bought the same book , the hard-cover version, shortly after at the discount section of a book-store. 2 events revealed how truly she is after my own heart - she knows exactly the book i want & she knows i like purchasing during sales.

goes without saying that i'm keeping both copies.

we watched the Jersey Boys two weekends ago - it was her idea actually & i'm a bit surprised because i thought Frankie Valli was a bit before her time. as we sang along, clapped hands & tapped our feet, the generation gap disappeared for those fleeting moments.

we were 1-generation & i look forward to doing that again.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

flesh & blood

the front cover of a recent copy of MMA News says it all....

i know there's a myth going around that doctors sometimes play god, making & taking life-changing decisions for their patients. as i ponder upon this, i realise it's often not of the doctors' own doing. they provide their patients with various treatment options & commonly, in a moment of duress & uncertainty about their own conditions, the patients ask their doctors to do what they think is best. when the outcome is not what they expected or desired, accusations that doctors are playing god abound.

doctors bleed & they hurt, too. 2 of my colleagues have been delibitated - one with parkinsonism & the other with a brain tumour.

the recent case of the health ministry DG who was found guilty in a syariah court is another case in point. doctors are not immune to the lure of the flesh, in as much as they are vulnerable to greed.

george bernard shaw drove the point home when he wrote:

Make it compulsory for a doctor using a brass plate to have inscribed on it; in addition to the letters indicating his qualifications, the words "Remember that I too am mortal."

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

shift work

factories use shift work if they have to operate for extended hours. it works well only if the jobs are repetitive from one shift to another.

hospitals operate 24 hours a day & nurses go on shifts as well. however, the work here is not repetitive, so this system will not be as successful as in factories.

so, if a nurse fails to do a task in the morning, the probability is high that the afternoon shift nurse will overlook the task, & even if she discovers the shortfall, she may choose to disregard it, esp. if the pervading attitude is lackadaisical.

that's why i just gave the afternoon shift nurse a mouthful, because the patient's condition is critical & any shortcoming can be lethal.

now, imagine, the 1st line doctors in public hospitals, the housemen, are working shifts. if you extrapolate what happens in nursing, you can imagine the consequences.

shift work for doctors is stupid a regressive step, back to the dark ages.

ok, i confess, i don't know what it's really like in the dark ages but you get my drift.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

a day in december in s'pore

they know how to celebrate christmas in style...

yet remain civic-minded...

self-proclaimed best laksa.....

A-level students unequivocally declare freedom at conclusion of exams.......

Frankie Valli & 4 Seasons sing-alikes are performing on stage...

guess who else is in town?

what's important to me is that the daughter is coming home....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

why you must tell your doctor everything.

53-yr-old man due for minor hand surgery. smokes but denied any known medical problem. a manual worker in the plantatiuon.

a routine pre-operative ECG showed that he had a recent myocardial infarct, aka heart attack. when asked in detail if he had any chest pain recently, he thought for awhile & said he did have a gastric-like pain 2 weeks ago & was a bit breathless at that time. however, he felt better after that without seeing a doctor.

as we all know, a myocardial infarct sometimes presents with atypical symptoms (read here) which are often ignored. for doctors, these should trigger off the alarm bells.

a blood test confirmed the recent infarct. he was informed of his condition & advised that the surgery should be postponed till the cardiologist checked him up. he subsequently had an angiogram which showed that 3 arteries in his heart were significantly blocked. he is scheduled for cardiac bypass surgery in a few week's time.

if he had undergone the hand surgery, there's a 1-in-3 chance that he will have another heart attack, in which case, there is a 50% chance he will succumb to it. which means that, if we had proceeded with surgery, there's a 1-in-6 chance, ie. 16%, that he will die on the operating table.

grim statistics but a solemn reminder of our mortality.

so the next time your doctor asks you if you have any medical problems, think carefully before you answer.

it could well save your life!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. matt 5:9

this may sound like the beginning of a sunday sermon but it's not. it's a confession actually.

today, i made peace with my mother.

happy birthday, mum!
"and i realised when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know." mitch albom in For One More Day

is ignorance bliss?

life is like owning  a car.

when you send your car for servicing at the authorised dealer, you usually assure yourself that the mechanics would do a good job & the parts changed are original ones. as long as the car runs like clockwork, you usually don't care too much about the bill.

consider this hypothetical situation.

a man injures himself badly & seeks medical attention. he goes to the emergency department, expecting to be seen by an experienced doctor who will examine & manage him appropriately. he would then be sent to the ward for further treatment & recuperation, or to the OT to have his injuries operated upon.

does it boggle the mind that his injuries are so severe because he is given less adequate treatment & because his condition is not stabilised at the emergency department, when he is sent to the OT, he is more dead than alive??

like i said, life is like owning the car. when you refrain from patronising the road-side workshops & choose to pay top dollar for the service at the authorised dealer, you don't expect your car to breakdown a day after the service. as long as it runs, you're contented.

sometimes, it's better not to know what transpires within the confines of the workshop.

or the emergency department.

ignorance is bliss.

P/S. in the same vein, you really don't want to see what's going on in the kitchen of your favourite restaurant.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

coming out of the closet

no, it's definitely not what you think it is.

i meant, what if you've been writing/commenting/blogging anonymously all this time, and then you decide that, for some inexplicable reason, you're going to reveal yourself to someone?

and, oh yeah, there are pictures to go with the disclosure.

the response from the other party was an emphatic :

Omai! Omai! This is so spine-tingling!!

yeah, just like a spy thriller movie.....and the opening scene unfurled today.

PS. hmm....maybe it is really what you think it is. after all, when you come out of the closet, people see you for what you really are (warts & all usually come to the fore) & what your deviant unusual inclinations & queer orientations are. and, hopefully, in a civil society such as ours, you are still accepted for what you truly are.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

the best brains

come march/may when the results of the SPM/STPM are released, the top scorers will proudly reveal to all & sundry the secrets of their success & then sheepishly hope that they'll get into medicine, dentistry, engineering, law, finance, & blah, blah blah.

nothing has changed over the years but apparently the govt will try to alter the mindset of our youngsters & get the top students into teaching. (read here) so, can you imagine straight-As students, instead of seeking employment in hospitals, clinics, law firms & banks, in the future would be heading for the schools?

neither can i.

at least, not when licences are freely given to start private medical schools, for whom a critical mass of students is necessary to make the business viable. yes, it's a business & a lucrative one at that. guess how many A's a student should have to meet the lowered requirements?

your guess is as good as mine!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

the waiting game

8.30am - scheduled time of surgery.

it's now 8.45am.

patient on the operating table.......anaesthetist ready to start......surgeon waiting in earnest.....

and, nurses just started preparing her instruments.

time of actual start of surgery - 8.55am.

it's days like this (& there are many of late) that makes me dread coming to work.

i suppose it could be worse - i could be dealing with a govt dept.

home alone

about twice a year i get to be home alone for the weekend when the wife brings the kids to the hometown.

i'm ok with it - not that i don't miss them (i do!) but i've got stuffs that keep me occupied.

for a start, i work.

i've also got a whole weekend of football on astro plus i've just started reading Life of Pi again. actually, i commenced reading last year but somehow after about 10 chapters, the unfolding of the growing years of the protagonist got a tad boring & i stopped. now that the movie version of this Man Booker prize winner is to be released next year, i thought i'd pick the book up again.

oh yes, i bought it last year at a book fair because the hard-cover sold at less than half price. much as i enjoy reading, i usually purchase when the books are really on sale.

like today. i dropped by the local bookstore & this just jumped at me from the discount counter. the yellow tag was a dead giveaway....

it's 2 years from its 1st release but where can you get a current hard-cover by a best-selling author for rm9.90 these days?

yeah, the wife & kids would be home before i know it!

Friday, November 16, 2012

football = sex?

you must have seen it on the sports channel, or at least, your football-mad colleagues would have been ranting over it at the office.

yes, i'm referring to zlatan ibrahimovic's outrageous overhead kick against england in a friendly in sweden this week.

as i was talking about it with some friends at work, this nurse, still single but in a relationship & who obviously had witnessed the wonder goal, injected : yeah, fantastic shot - as good as any orgasm i've had!

hmm, such vivid imagination!

not sure if she was exaggerating - but it was fabulous. it would be right up there with those scored by messi or ronaldo. a definite contender for goal of the year. decade even.

and yeah, i'll be thinking of the goal if i ever meet with the boyfriend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

time bomb in a bun

yesterday i learned of  the existence of a word that has been named "word of the year" by oxford dictionary, although it's the American Dialect Society that started this award in 1991. previous awards have gone to words like 9-11, subprime & tweet. anyway, this year the winner is.......


what?? (read here)

i doubt i'd be using it any time soon in my everyday conversation, unless i'm in deep discussion over some political or financial issues. however, it seems the americans, dissatisfied with the choice, thought selecting this year's U.K. Word of the Year was obviously total omnishambles.

never mind which word deserved the accolade, as inconsequential as it may be, but i did learn a phrase that would definitely make a difference in my life (& hopefully everyone else's too).....

a time bomb in a bun.

it's used to describe fastfood breakfast sandwiches (read here) & there's plenty to choose from, going by media adverts. currently, one promotion on TV guarantees nothing can go wrong in your day if you start off with their breakfast menu. ha ha, very effective but nothing could be further from the truth.

surprisingly, that's not the worst breakfast you can have. apparently, from the same report, NOT having breakfast is even worse for your health. i think that's probably true - my friends who fast during ramadhan swear they put on even more weight during that time than any other month of the year..

someone once advised me, long before i entered med school, regarding diet - have a king's breakfast, queen's lunch & a pauper's dinner. the rational is that you need a good proper meal to start the morning, & as the day winds down, the activities get less strenuous, you require less food.

i'll mull on that later but if you'll excuse me, i'll need to go for a late breakfast now....

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

an offer you can't refuse

reminiscent of a godfather movie, my colleagues say it's an offer you can't refuse.....

a brand new C180 at rm212,888. i assume they meant a mercs has never been cheaper more affordable. if that's true, car aficionados must be drooling all over at that offer.

for me, i didn't bat an eye-lid but i did wonder if this is one occasion where one buys something one doesn't really need, with money one do not have, to impress people that one don't even like??

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


this is the time of the year when parents of school-going children rejoice or grieve.

the year-end exams should have been announced. high-scoring students will win prizes for their achievements while those lagging far behind will get scoldings from their parents demoted to a lower class.

and tiger mums* would not exist if not for schools.

the reason we put the boy thru a mandarin-medium school is solely for him to learn his mother-tongue language; anything else useful that he picks up would be an added bonus. but because both the missus & i aren't native mandarin-speakers, we could not help him much in developing this language skill. even though he has tuition for this, we did not expect he would excel by way of exam results.

this year, he attained 26th position in a class of 39, a slight improvement over last year & he will remain in the same class for next year.

thru my (biased?) eyes, he has excelled.

he can speak & write mandarin far beyond our expectations, but what we find most encouraging is that he delights in going to school. as long as he enjoys school & doesn't run foul of the teachers, i think 26th or any other position, mucht like our age, is just a number.

*to be grammatically correct, shouldn't they be called tigress mums?

Monday, November 05, 2012

another reunion

besides the lunar new year reunion with the family, i have 2 other reunions which are both not held annually. one is with the 6th-formers which is held every 4 years on the same weekend as the football world cup final (read here); the other, with the varsity mates.

yesterday, we had varsity reunion 3.0 in KL.

35 turned up. most are from klang valley with 2 from penang & 1 from kota kinabalu.

we caught up on old times - shared jokes, traded barbs & revealed secrets long buried in the past. there were a few mates i've not met since graduation!

i learned 2 things :

(1) from personal accounts, UM med grads tend to tell it as it is, & non-alumni don't like that. most think we were over-meticulous & overbearing, sometimes bordering on arrogance. but that was the environment we were nurtured in, instilled by the icons of medical academia of old, to strive for perfection excellence. looking back, we were glad we went thru that because they pushed us to be the best we can be.

(2) one of my mates revealed he has found peace in, and with, himself. he's a paediatrician in private practice who's running an orphanage in addition to his clinic. this commitment runs from 9am till 12mn everyday - strenuous but it's something he enjoys doing, charging those who could afford & helping out & providing shelter to the disadvantaged.

in my opinion, that's a noble intention we all should aspire to. the wise man once said:
So I perceived that nothing is better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage. (Eccles 3:22, NKJV)

Friday, November 02, 2012

the black cat

many years ago during an inter-school debate, i heard one student taunt his opponent : my esteemed friend over there is confused, like he's in a dark room, looking for a black cat (pause) which isn't there.

looking back, it was a cynical comment & it sounded authoritative yet lacked substance. it's one of those phrases you bandied about just to impress the judges. much like a pick-up line.

a semblance of that statement was taught in med school. searching for a cause of an intra-abdominal infection can be difficult, hence "pus somewhere, pus nowhere, pus under the diaphragm." it just means that if you suspect pus in the abdomen, but you can't seem to find it, try looking under the diaphragm.

and no, i didn't learn any pick-up lines in the lecture halls either, but i digress.

so today, a 30yr-old lady presented with a lump in the groin. a biopsy of the tissue had been done & the lab reported it as metastatic cancer, which means this swelling in the groin (aka secondary tumour) is a result of the spread of a primary tumour.

this lady had been subjected to a battery of investigations to locate the offending growth - tests like gastroscopy, colonoscopy, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI & even a PET scan. but zilch! it's nowhere to be found. i can emphatise with her - it's an unnerving feeling that you know something sinister is growing in you & yet it remained elusive.

like the black cat.

running out of places to scan, & as if to grasp at straws, we did a scraping of the uterus & cervix today. just in case, because already we're at wit's end.

let's hope it's truly darkest before the dawn.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

sold out?

some say it's a sell-out when George Lucas pushed off Lucasfilm, which includes the Star Wars & Indiana Jones franchises, to Disney for USD4b. Disney then announced that Episode VII would be released in 2015.

i think i'm ok with that... long as mickey, minnie or goofy don't make cameo appearances.

can america take this and superstorm sandy at the same time??

**image from yahoo news**

Saturday, October 27, 2012

neither rich nor poor

i presume that's where most of us are in the grand scheme of things, although wealth & poverty are relatively subjective measures.

i'm thinking of the few punters who were reported recently to have hit jackpots of millions of ringgit.

i'm also thinking of a few friends of mine who had made on-the-spot property investment decisions, hitting that narrow window of opportunity, that had paid off handsomely.

the quickest decision i've ever made investing in a property was buying the house i'm currently staying. we went to the developer's office, glanced thru the plans, grimmaced at the price & paid the booking fee, all within 20mins of entering the office. that's only because we've been renting for 2 years & we thought that if we're staying on, we might as well get our own house.

all other investment decisions would take up days of mulling & deliberating. most instances, the circumstances have changed by the time we made a decsion.

time is money, right?

enter the genneva gold investment scheme.

a close friend had quit his day job to join genneva as a sales consultant. he had invited me to several of their investment talks, of which i have only attended one. however, i was quite sceptical of their business model because it was multi-level ponzi-like scheme. if i were to take that risk, it was only because of my dear friend's genuine persuasion. it was during this prolonged period of considering & re-considering, & weighing the pros & cons that bank negara raided the company.

that made the decision for me, & arguably for many other potential investors. indeed, time is money but probably not many envisaged money can be lost this way, too.

so, there i remain, right smack in the middle of the grand scheme of things, being neither rich nor poor.

for most of us, that's probably the safest place to be.

 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Tim 6: 6-10

Friday, October 26, 2012

channeling excesses

much has been read, written, argued, debated & deliberated on the issue of the infamous sex blog by a couple of  malaysian students in singapore. so much vigour, passion, creativity & free spirit - all  exhibited in a manner that earned outbursts & disdain  from the general public.

nobody knows why they didn't channel their energy positively. doesn't have to be a discovery that changes the world or breaking of a sports record - even something as mundane as swimming across the english channel (pun unintended) would have sort of made the nation proud.

or, like PSY, a singer/songwriter/dancer relatively unknown outside of his native south korea & who wrote a song out of nowhere & choreographed a dance that took the world by storm. admittedly, he may have displaced UN sec-gen ban ki-moon as the south korean with the most world-wide appeal.
imagine what a malaysian can achive on a UN platform?

*image from reuters*

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

nurses.....same old, same old.

the other day, i instructed the nurse at the operation theatre reception counter to get the elderly patient from the surgical ward down to OT & to bring along the relatives. i needed to explain the risks of the procedure to both the patient & his family.

after 45 mins, the patient was still not in OT.

me: nurse, where is the patient from the surgical ward?

nurse: he's not down yet. (duh....!)

me: what's the delay?

nurse: doctor, you said to bring the family along. the family is still on the way from home to the hospital. so, we're waiting for them to come before transferring the patient down.

me :  %$#&!@*!!

seriously, i can't fault her as she's following my instruction to the letter. but i would think that if the family is not yet in hospital, surely the patient can be moved to OT 1st while waiting for their arrival. no?

the procedure was delayed by over an hour. the nurse won't be getting the employee of the month award & neither will i be remembered as the doctor with the coolest temperament!

the only consolation was that the risky operation proceeded uneventfully.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

the storm

it's been brewing for some time now.

no, it's not because the daughter is bringing home 2 singaporean college friends in december. in fact, we're happy to host fellow students who may forge lasting friendships beyond the school years.

no, it's not because one of them is a guy as we're not averse to gender differences.

it's because they've set their own agenda already.

they expect the daughter to drive them around town. that's ok but they want to go drinking & stay out till midnite. they also want to go to KL on a day trip.

i'm not sure what "drinks" are implied here but i'll assume (for now) they meant teh tarik at the mamak stalls. but staying out till midnite is a definite non-starter for a bunch of 18-year-olds on my watch. don't they know this is malaysia, where their former prime minister once declared is notorious for car-jackings & robberies? under my roof, there are ground rules to be followed, whether they (daughter included) like it or not. the friends probably thought this trip is a breakaway from their strict parents, or maybe their parents have been very liberal with them, but i was brought up in a conservative family & i intend to instill these same values in my kids, with some leeway. if it ain't broke, why fix it? when they've finally flown the nest, then how they lead their lives is their own responsibility, although as parents, we never completely let go.

at the end of it all, hope it's just a storm in a teacup.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

great white

last nite, as i made my last round in the ICU, one of the nurses asked me if i could help insert an intravenous cannula for a patient who was not under my care. she had tried but failed in several attempts. as i checked on the patient's arms, there were several puncture wounds on both hands, evidence of the many unsuccessful attempts. even the patient looked fed-up & asked if the procedure could be deferred. being in ICU meant one was critically ill & hence an intravenous cannula was indispensable for the administration of essential medication.

after i managed to insert one, the patient asked sheepishly if i was going to charge him a fee for it. i returned an equally sheepish smile.

i know the public is generally wary of doctors in private practice with regards to the perceived exorbitant fees that they charge. i admit there are some black sheep in the profession. indeed, there's even a private hospital in ipoh infamously dubbed the great white shark.

so i wonder if the sheepish smile i gave the patient looked anything like this....

Saturday, October 06, 2012

money talks

for sales people, anyone could be a potential customer, more so if they think you are a big spender. i know marketing is a tough job & sometimes i sympathise with those sales people outsourced by banks to promote the latter's credit cards. that's why i have ended up with more credit cards than i really need. but i suppose it's a win-win situation - they receive their commission after i sign up & i get the sale gimmick gifts, eg. remote-controlled toy car, thermos flask, umbrella, shoe bag & the list is endless.

last week, i decided to cancel one such card after a year because the govt tax of rm50 was due. so i called up the credit card hotline to express my intention. the guy said i'd get a call from the bank in a few days to confirm the cancellation. in the mean time, i proceeded to cut up the said card & disposed off the mutilated pieces.

yesterday, a lady from the bank called & politely asked the reason for my cancellation.

me : i already have more cards than i need - all out of sympathy for the sales guys at the shopping mall.

she: sir, how about we renew your card free of annual fee & govt tax plus we'll throw in rm50 spending credit?

me : you'd do all that for me?

she : sure, because you're one of our special customers. (i've only spent about rm200 on the card the whole year - ha!)

me : but i'm already a special customer of 3 other banks!

she : it's ok lah, just keep the card at no charge - who knows when you may need it.

me : but my wallet now has more cards than money already!

she : sir, get a bigger wallet lah!

me : but i've actually cut up your card already.

she : no problem, sir, we'll send you a new one next week, again free of charge.

see what i mean - money talks & she must have sniffed blood. when you want a loan from the banks, they'll ask for an arm & a leg as collateral, but when they want you to spend with their credit card, they'll promise you heaven & earth.

that said, i politely turned down the near irresistible proposition & cancelled the call ....before she made the offer impossible to refuse!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

quote unquote

people (politicians don't fall into this category!!) generally don't like to be quoted for fear that they may be misinterpreted or misunderstood. when that happens to politicians, they famously stress that they have been quoted out of context.

my blog friend Yan asked me recently if she could quote me in an article she's writing for the borneo post (read here), to which i gleefully  enthusiastically  bashfully agreed.

suddenly, for a brief moment, i felt like a celebrity, being pursued by journalists & hounded by paparazzis, & much sought after for opinions that may change the world. a mover & a shaker, so to speak.

thanks, Yan, for my 2-second worth of fame.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

the grass is greener (aka going private)

my friend is a specialist in govt service & will go private next year. i suppose he will feel some trepidation because of the stiff competition he will face. on top of that, there's the premise rental, staff salaries & equipment costs to consider.

still, he is adamant he wants to leave. besides a better pay, he feels he will not get the promotion he wants in the current department. so, it's both push & pull factors.

from my viewpoint, i feel the govt specialists are getting a great deal, as least compared to my time. getting rm15k now is the norm, & more if you do some private work as well. on top of that, you get to go for upgrading courses & meetings, plus annual/conference/study/compassionate/paternal/maternity leave. for obvious reasons, the women specialists tend to remain in govt service.

sometimes, i look back & i wonder what if.....

isn't it true the grass always seemed to look greener on the other side?

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 1Tim 6:6,7

Monday, October 01, 2012

no bets

doctors shouldn't bet, because by nature, we're supposed to be averse to taking risks, whether calculated or not.

i was on-call the other day when my obstetric colleague asked me to do a procedure on his patient. he said he'd bet that the patient would scream her head off during the procedure; otherwise, he'll buy me a beer, not that i'm the drinking type.

to his & my surprise, she didn't even let out a whimper.

so today, after a hard day at the hospital, i'm having beer after dinner.

& someone else wants a piece of the action as well!


like i said, doctors shouldn't bet.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


why would anyone use someone else's name to commit a misdeed?

the nurse used my name to falsely obtain psychotropic drugs, examples of which include pain-killers like morphine & sedatives like valium, from the locked cabinet. apparently he's (yeah, he's a male nurse) been doing it for some months before someone snitched on him.

today, the guys from the pharmacy division of the health ministry came around to conduct its enquiry. because my name was used to perpetrate the theft, i was asked to give a statement which went on for a few pages. and yeah, these guys can't string a sentence in proper english.

but this is not the 1st time i've encountered this problem. psychotropic drugs are widely prescibed in the emergency department as well as in the operation theatres. when i was a trainee in OT at a teaching hospital,  one of the lecturers was found unconscious & frothing at the mouth one evening. it was later found that he had multiple injection marks on his limbs. another trainee with a similar problem was asked to leave the postgrad course.

this is not just a local issue. when i was in UK, a fellow trainee as well as a specialist were found to be drug-dependent. however, instead of being punished, they were sent for counselling 1st, after which, the trainee ended up in general practice while the specialist went into early retirement.

the male nurse has since left the hospital. at the very least, his nursing licence would be revoked. but he is only in his 20s & he is street-smart, which will likely see him thru. after all, he often lamented that he has been left largely to his devices in his growing years while both his parents had been busy working.

Friday, September 21, 2012


come on, take a guess!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

three times a lady

somehow, i thought of lionel ritchie's hit song when i read about the passing of heart-transplant girl tee hui yi. her heart failure had been initially & temporarily managed with a mechanical heart. the battery which operated it looked like a trolley bag which she lugged around with her. she then had a heart transplant in 2007 which failed. she was extremely fortunate to have found another donor heart within 24 hours & the 2nd transplant had kept her alive till yesterday.

technically, she had lived 3 lives & captured the imagination of the nation with her grit & determination to live. she's truly one tough lady!

And now that we've come
To the end of our rainbow
There's something
I must say out loud

You're once twice
Three times a lady.

i hope that you will be remembered for your courage & tenacity to beat the odds, more than the pseudo-heroes we were led to worship, like the space traveller, channel swimmers & mountain climbers.

hui yi, may you rest in peace.

Monday, September 17, 2012

learning to resuscitate.....the proper way.

do you know there are courses that teach the general public as well as paramedical & doctors how to help the collapsed man-on-the -street?

the basic life support course is mainly for laymen while those who have attained basic knowledge can sit for the advanced course. the latter is mainly geared towards paramedicals & doctors.

the course content is essentially based on the guidelines provided by the american heart association or european resuscitation council, & may be modified for local requirements. this was not part of medical undergraduate training, so most of us should attend these courses to update ourselves on advances in resuscitation. i said should because it is not compulsory at the moment.

so, i took it upon myself to attend one last weekend. the content of the course has remain largely unchanged since i last participated more than 10 years ago. it was very useful, to me at least, to re-learn the rigmarole of providing critical care.

each of the participants were tested on the theory & practical aspects of resuscitation. on successful completion of the course, a certificate was given. this is not the end, mind you. the certificate rightly is valid for only 5 years, after which one should to be re-tested. again, i mentioned should because this is not compulsory at the moment.

for more details in learning basic life support, check-out the following websites:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

is crime rate really down?

the IGP said it is. the Home Minister agreed.

my taman has been extremely peaceful, ie. no reported break-ins since the 1st residents moved in 12 years ago. but yesterday, 3 happened within a day.

at about 3pm, no one was in when persons unknown broke into a businessman's home, just across the street from where i live.

at midnite, thieves ransacked the home of another businessman behind the street from where i live.

at 6.30am this morning, 6 masked men jumped across the wall into my neighbour's home just 2 doors away. apparently, they had been waiting for the husband to send the kids to school before making their move. they warned the wife they only wanted money & jewelry, otherwise they'll hurt her.

the policeman said this is the 1st time they've been to the same taman 3 three times within 24 hours. as expected, he gave that sheepish look when asked if he thought crime rate was down.

what i learned from these unfortunate events, besides being a lot more careful & aware of the surrounding, is to keep some cash at home to appease any potential intruders. loss of cash trumps personal injury or loss of lives anytime!

i can count the number of gated/guarded communities in this town in 1 hand but that could change soon. i heard vendors of home alarms & CCTVs are doing a roaring business.

keep safe!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

the horse has bolted la!

just saw the late news. the PM, while officiating the ground-breaking ceremony of  MAHSA university's new campus, said fewer schools offering high quality medical education would be a far better strategy than having too many offering sub-standard education.

is he admitting that the mushrooming of private medical schools in the country, the licence of which were issued by his govt, thus far had been a bad strategy? too many sub-standard schools producing too many sub-standard doctors, who show neither dedication nor conviction in their line of duty?

too little, too late, don't you think?

now here's a scary thought  - make an appointment with a doctor from hell...... at a hospital near you!

Monday, September 10, 2012

national service

my daughter was called up for the 3rd batch of national service this year. the letter arrived 3 weeks ago. naturally, she would not be able to attend but i'll have to apply for exemption. or rather, in this case, postponement.

but, if she could go, would i have gladly let her?

not really. going by horror stories of how young healthy youths perished from known & unknown causes during camp, compounded by the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities, unconvincingly assuring that things are under control, i would think many concerned parents would object, if they had a choice.

furthermore, i doubt if the main objective of fostering closer relationship amongst youths of the different communities would be achieved. yeah, a few will become friends but by & large, they will remain segregated because they have been so since primary school. after 11 years in school where each student is made aware of the differences amongst the communities & yet not encouraged to reconcile, how will 3 months in a survival-like course make them bosom buddies?

& after the enforced camaraderie & apparent comradeship is over & everyone goes home, life goes on as before.

same old, same old.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

oh no, not another blueprint....!

on tuesday, the education ministry will announce yet another education blueprint, to move towards the uncharted territory called world-class education.

amongst the elements of this transformation, drawing high calibre graduates to teach & awareness that students are better off being bilingual or trilingual, will be given emphasis. so, i found this statement rather odd.....

shouldn't those english teachers who are found to be low or non-proficient be asked to teach some other subjects, instead of flogging the proverbial dead mule? looks like our kids are going to be subjected to another round of trial-and-error education. solly, I no speak Ingrish.

this reminds me of a blog posting i read recently (read here) where a faulty landing gear of a new MAS plane was not fixed within the 30-day grace period. so far, MAS has not denied this allegation.

isn't this scary? we know what plagues the country, yet the people who can fix this aren't doing it? doesn't this give you the sinking feeling, or in aviation parlance, mayday, mayday?

Saturday, September 01, 2012

brave new world

uprooting oneself to move to another country is a daunting experience for many.

21years ago, on sept 1, i started my new job as a trainee doctor in a small NHS hospital in dover, england. i was thrilled to receive the acceptance letter in late july that year, after having sent out more than 10 applications for a training post. suddenly, there were hordes of things to do before leaving, eg. apply for no-pay leave (which was denied), send out resignation letter, book flight tickets, settle income tax, sell the car, pack the stuff to bring along (mostly notes & books) & discard the rest, and oh yes, spend time with the parents in the hometown. yeah, i remembered my father shed tears as i drove off that day.

it helped that the wife had been to london before. so, it was a breeze to catch the coach from heathrow to victoria station, & then a train to dover in the south coast. the hospital has a accomodation officer who took us to our rented house.

i hit the ground running. no observation or familiarisation period but straight into the job, which was to be the 1st of many. the whole training process had taken me from dover to brighton, sheffield & leeds. i have to admit that i was very impressed with the work culture in the NHS. the service is consultant-based & the trainees are given ample opportunities to learn hands-on, attend courses & time-off for exams.

after 4 years, i'd like to think that i became a better doctor from the experience. i achieved the post-grad degree i had initially set out to attain, made some good friends & colleagues, travelled widely & returned home with an addition to the family - a lovely daughter.

on hindsight, would i have done anything differently?

maybe, i should have stayed back.

just maybe.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

saya yang mengikut perintah

many letters from govt departments end with these words. it means that the writer is just following instructions "from above," even though that person may well be the head of the dept. i thought it rather odd - if everyone is following instructions, can no one do things differently, or must it be strict compliance to "the instructions" from whoever who issued them?

i was interrupted in my sleep early this morning by the nurse from ICU, informing that my patient's breathing was laboured & the oxygen  content in his blood was very low. having rushed to hospital in double quick time, i was dismayed that the nurse had administered to him only 2 lit of oxygen per minute all that time, a miserly amount given his dire condition. she defended herself by stating that was the flow rate the previous doctor had ordered.

naturally, i snapped at her & criticised her for not using her discretion. 2 lit/min of oxygen is fine for most patients who are not critically ill, but when they develop breathing difficulties that result in low oxygen content in the blood, the oxygen flow needed to be increased. the level of treatment must be appropriate for the condition of the patient - is that too difficult a concept to grasp???

anyway, everything turned out ok for the patient. i left the ICU with the sinking feeling that the public sector's "saya yang mengikut perintah" culture has already pervaded private medical care.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

claypot loh shi fun

some years ago, a friend brought me to Yoke Heng restaurant in seri kembangan for the unique claypot loh shi fun.
made a day trip into KL yesterday & i decided to try to find it by GPS. it was actually listed under the dining section. it's that famous also because on the wall of the shop are media clippings of famous personalities who have feasted there, although i couldn't recognise any of them. the guy who took our orders also recommended the deep-fried taufu & seafood noodles.
did you see that HUGE prawn with the noodles? have a closer look here....
yeah, this dish caused a HUGE dent on the wallet as well!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

false impression

do all doctors in private practice drive big cars?

not necessarily true, but the parking attendant at the hospital seemed to think so.
being a holiday yesterday, i drove the wife's little proton & parked randomly in one of my colleague's lot. when i returned to the car park several hours later, one of the wheels had been clamped.
more amused than shocked, i reported to the parking office. the attendant apologised profusely while admitting, "tak sangka doctor pakai kereta proton la!" (translation: never expected a doctor to drive a proton!)

so there, that's one myth busted - now you know of at least one doctor who drives a little proton.

on the same note, not all doctors in private practice are mercenaries, either, but that's a post for another day.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

just say sorry.....

i remember in the 60s, the singapore government actively promoted their "stop at 2" & "2 is enough" policy on TV. this was in reference to limiting the number of children to 2 for each family, one reason being that the small land mass of the island may not be able to support a fast growing population.

fast forward half a century & as a result of that policy, they find themselves short of skilled labour & professionals, resulting in the rapid influx & immigration of foreign workers, much to the angst of the local residents.

in an interview some years back, lee kuan yew, the ex-PM who enforced that policy, confessed that he had made a mistake & in a turn-around, encouraged couples to have 3 children or more, if they could afford it. now, with the low fertility rate threatening to change the demographic profile of singapore, his national day message was headlined as this:

it was a mistake, he admitted, & the government is trying to reverse the trend. at least, he was being honest.

now, can we expect our government to confess its mistakes, take responsibility & then try to correct them?

Saturday, August 04, 2012


i'm as patriotic as the next guy & i do so want lee chong wei to win malaysia's 1st ever gold medal at the olympics but......

there's just too many unnecessary distractions to that cause, the biggest being the immense financial rewards promised for the feat. this includes the prize money, pension for life, a block of solid gold (valued at rm2.5m) & probably a host of others offered by his sponsors.

now, the PM's wife is making a special trip to london just to lend support for the realisation of the malaysian dream.

i have no doubt chong wei is one of malaysia's true sportmen whose professionalism & commitment to the game is beyond doubt, but he is human & all these pressure will play on his mind.

i have reservations but i hope he proves me wrong.

i hope he plays for the gold medal, not the bullion.

in any case, he's a national hero already, being the only sportsman to win medals in consecutive olympics.

go, chong wei!!

(our doubles pair has consistently disappointed us, this time by faltering in the semi-finals)

Friday, July 27, 2012

a caring goverment

1st they dish out bantuan rakyat money for the needy...

then students get book vouchers & free laptops...

taxi owners get free tyres....

undergraduates get discount cards....

this week, civil servants & pensioners get bonuses....

and today.....doctors in private practice get to increase their fees by up to 14%!!

don't you love a government that has the rakyat's interest at heart??

Friday, July 20, 2012

glamour teams

that's the name given to nurses & paramedics who are part of subspecialty teams, eg. neurosurgery or cardiac surgery. it's perceived to be glamorous because they are personally handpicked by the respective specialist to assist in complicated surgeries.

they also get special time-off from work & opportunities to attend courses but they have to be present when duty calls, whether on weekends or public holidays.

or, any time. like tomorrow, the 1st day of the fasting month & a public holiday. i can see some of them pulling long faces already.

suddenly, it's not so glamorous, huh?

maybe it's like, following a whim or fancy, you choose a career in medicine. anticipating the glamour that is perceived to go with the profession, suddenly the realisation that the long hours of sleepless nights, demanding patients, mean nurses & overbearing superiors hits you. & just as you think the worse is over, you realise you can't quit to open your own clinic because wherever you had in mind to operate, there are already 10 others before you. & it takes ages to enter the post-grad masters program because, somehow, others are given preference over you.

no, it's not exactly what you REALLY had planned to do for the rest of your life, the honorific "doctor" notwithstanding.

now, was that a dream or nightmare?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

bonding with the neighbourhood kids

can i say that most of us don't know a lot of people in our neighbourhood?

if you're like me, we work all week & when the weekend comes, we spend it with the family. maybe visit or go out for a meal with some close friends.

the interaction with the neighbours is mostly a hi & bye type, except for the occasional open house or wake service.

the kids in our taman at least have a common interest. they play football at the field on sundays & some parents have begun to join in as well. not many but it's a start.
hopefully, with time, more will join in & we can have some semblance of the muhibbah spirit of days gone by.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

is it a good time to be a taxi driver?

taxi owners seemed to be getting a lot of goodies this year.

last week, they were promised a set of 4 new tyres a year. yesterday, they were offered rm100 a month for 12 months if they were courteous to their passengers. soon, they may even get socso benefits & group accident insurance coverage.

yeah, it's good to be a taxi owner in election year - only problem is that a permit may costs an arm & a leg.

soon, maybe doctors want to demand for a new pair of Nike Air (for running around the hospital) & extra rm100 a month for being courteous to the patients.

or, teachers may demand a new wardrobe & rm100 a month for being courteous to the students.

but, wait a minute here ....... aren't the taxi drivers, doctors & teachers supposed to be courteous anyway?

another can of worms opens.....

sushi king, anyone?

i only take japanese food once in a while & go to sushi king maybe just once a year. most times, i get the cheaper version at jusco when they sell the day's portion at 30% off after 8pm.

yesterday, my nurse assistant told me sushi king is offering rm2 a plate for all types of sushi. she loaned me her membership card & this was what happened when you go to sushi king only once a year.
this was possible only because i had missed lunch.