Remembering that giant leap

       “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for Mankind”

One giant has passed away. The first man who stepped on the moon, and who uttered the above words as he landed on the lunar surface, is a hero of mankind.

Our generation of baby boomers was lucky to be born at that time. Not many generations of men had actually witnessed a watershed event during their lifetime, in the evolution of mankind, such as Neil Armstrong’s feat of being first man on the moon.

It is a feat no lesser than that of any other epoch-changing human achievement.

We may forget who was the president at that time ( was it Nixon?) or who was the second person who stepped on the moon after Neil (Aldrin?), but we would not forget the person who represented the giant leap of our species.

At that time, in 1969, I was just a teenager, and we did not have all the gadgets of the modern generation (try explaining that to our children and they would be thinking how these old fella live without handphones or computer?), and the only things that would enble me  to keep up with the news were either the semiconductor radio, or the bulky box with four legs attached sitting in front of one wall in the living room, and  that was our TV at that time. Despite the bulk, the box was only capable of displaying black and white movies and news.

I remembered  our parents watched together with us the footage of Neil walking on moon, and despite the  blurred image, it was something that made all of us stare in awe and spellbound.

Neil Armstrong has forever been etched in my mind as an epitome of heroism and adventurism.

I remember Life ( or was it Time?)magazine had an issue which used the image of earth as viewed from space as its cover.  A small but beautiful sphere hanging in the vast darkness.  How small we are indeed, the human being, and that was the moment I wonder why human should quarrel over small and trifle issues, and be divided into nations which are constantly fighting and squabbling over small issues all throughout history, when the whole human kind should be united and stand together to explore our surroundings and tackle issues that may threaten our survival.

In his walk, even if he was wearing the insignia of the United States,  he represented not just US, but the whole mankind.

His passing is thus a great loss to mankind, and on a more personal note, it reminds my generation how vulnerable we are, and that we should treasure our remaining time in this world to do something useful and fruitful..A small step, the historic moment


Who is in charge now?

The cabinet has decided that Section 114A is to stay.

This is despite the fact that power that be as high as the Prime Minister has mentioned publicly that it needs to be reviewed.

In the Malaysian tradition once the Prime Minster has publicly stated that that Section needs to be reviewed, it is really rare to see the whole cabinet of which PM is the head coming to a decision that runs counter to the PM’s.

Reading between the lines, it shows how precarious the PM’s own position is, and that vultures are ready to pounce on him if he does not deliver a better result the next GE. It makes me wonder who is really in charge of the country now.

I wrote about this section on 20th June and I paraphrase a part of it here:

The new Evidence Act is a killer. It is meant to stifle freedom of expression on the net. It is something akin to some criminals, who committed a crime in your house, and while the criminals escape, you as the owner of the house is being held responsible.

Say someone came in and robbed patients sitting in my waiting room. while the robber got away, I would be held as responsible for the robbery happening onthem. It is ridiculous, and no one would agree to that. Extrapolate this to the Evidence Act, and it is actually the same thing. 

It is like  a person  visiting a high rise building and throwing a flower pot down to kill someone, and then the person who is now held responsible is the owner of that building.  It is like you go to  a coffee shop, borrow the phone and call someone to threaten him, and then the police will haul up the owner of the coffee shop as the person who should be held responsible.

It is like a person who  visits  a minister’s house during a open house and then uses his phone to send a derogatory sms and then the person being held responsible would be the owner of that house, the minister ( In most likelihood, this minister would not be held responsible  since that is also a Malaysian tradition).

It is really against the principle of fairness. It also makes police work much easier. It is  pronouncing guilt on the owner and he has to prove beyond doubt that he is innocent.

It is guilty until proven innocent.

And to prove innocent, the owner will probably has to hire his own investigative team to track the real culprit.

This is really agianst common sense too.

Selamat Hari Raya

Wishing our Muslim friends


          Selamat Hari Raya


The rest of Malaysians have a nice holiday and rest, too!

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A wrong move

Many years ago, when I had just started out on my own and opened my own practice ( in the 80s) I met a patient in his sixties. He was a very gentle person, spoke with a soft voice and he came for vague symptoms of aches , inability to sleep well. I thought he was suffering from depression, and after a few visits, I decided to delve deeper into his history and asked about his family. He finally admitted he was very depressed since he was staying with his son, and that his son worked till very late very day, and hardly had time to speak to him. The main problem was his daughter -in-law, who had always nagged him about his ways of doing things, and made his life very miserable.

One day he told me that he felt like ending his life and asked me whether I had any medicine that could help him. I told him that no one had any right to end the life of anyone including one’s own life, since life is so precious.

I asked for his son’s office number. He gave to me but asked me not to speak to his son about his condition. He also did not want any referral to any psychiatrists who would be more qualified to handle such cases.

As all you know, doctors are bound by confidentiality clause. Anything that patients tell us stays within the four walls. I have always practised this and had always respected the wish of my patients not to inform their families about certain things.

But in this case, knowing that the threat of suicide was real, and that he should perhaps be seen by a more qualified person, I decided to call the son and let the son know about the father’s  feelings and his conditions.

This was one occasion that I might have gone against a person’s wish , for his own good. In the end, the son had a long talk with the wife, and the wife apparently realised how her words had hurt the in-law and promised to mend her ways.

I had a visit  2 months after from the patient and his son, and they expressed their gratitude about my help in solving a potentially life endangering situation. This was like a fairy tale ending, and all ended well.

Rules and regulations, as well as laws, are there to serve the interest of the people. There are laws to safeguard private interest, but private interest should always be subjugated to the bigger public interest. There are occasions that certain rules may need to be waived in order to serve a bigger good.

That is why sometimes, those who had committed crimes are actually let off if they are willing to become crown witnesses against bigger criminals and culprits. Some are even given protection and change of identities, in cases involving big time criminals.

We all know how Malaysians feel about the Cowgate incident where hundreds of millions of government money were allegedly involved in certain scandalous dealings. Some of those involved were now charged in courts after much public pressure.

This prosecution of those involved in Cowgate, albeit after much delay and public outcry,  means that those allegations contained certain truth, otherwise there would be no court cases against these people.

If that is the case, why arrest and charge the whistle blower who is doing a service to the whole nation and the rakyat by digging all the ‘dirt’ .

I think the government did something very wrong by charging whistle blowers.

However one looks at it, one cannot escape the conclusion that this has a lot to do with politics. Many view this as political persecution against someone who is actually doing a big favour by exposing the wrong doing. By prosecuting this whistle blower, the message that is being sent out is that the government is trying to silence people who may want to right certain wrongs; a message that the government may be trying to protect more wrongs being exposed.

This prosecution may give rise to a perception that those in power are not really interested to clean up, but rather are more inclined to cover ups.

They may win the court case and put the person involved in jail, but in doing so, they are actually doing themselves a  disfavour and risk losing even more support among the middle class and the civil society.  

It is like in the game of GO (WeiQi, a chess game with white and black chess pieces play on a board) where a player who is too obsessed to win certain small  battles on the chess board but lose sight of the big picture, and in the end, loses the whole game.

Wei Qi

In this game, black may win the small battle by cornering a few whites, but lose sight of the whole war since they  themselves  are being surrounded.