Category Archives: Ramble & Babble


run to top of road

greater vision at summit

cross cracks along path

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.png




That’s my translation of the haiku in the book cover.

The following notes are more for the benefit of Malaysian students. It is an “”open” education, relating the visual natural world with the inner world of mind. It is a psycho-social therapy in the sense of soothing, or helping one to overcome the perils of outside world and to relate it with our own feeling and thinking. When the perceptive world changes, we adjust, attune and adapt our mindset to face the outside world. All knowledge begins with observation. We observe and learn from nature, then we reflect and contemplate on the lessons learned.

The cover picture are three young children running. Their backs are facing us; the parents are not seen, but behind watching. We give our kids freedom to explore, without over protection. If they fell, they would learn to stand up and run again. We pick up from where we fall, and learn better. The picture is a scenery in Spain. Travel is a good form of learning, but it does not mean going overseas.

The poet is also a narrator. We took them to the hill park at Kuala Selangor, Malaysia, overlooking River Yu. There were lots of wild monkeys. Visitors do not have to feed them, these monkeys snatch the bananas from the kids’ hands. What the animals want is food, not the visitors. Similarly, along the corridors of power, whether in parliament or outside, what the monkeys want is your vote and trust. They are the bananas in your hands. Of course, people in power do not generally snatch so openly, they give you promises in return. And it is silly to believe their words. The bananas are symbolic of power.

All stories side tracked to make it interesting. Let us return to the haiku/senryu.

“run to the top of road” is an initial goal, an aspiration to start. We are always on the run, and eager to reach the peak, or bottom, whatever the occasion. It is an achievement. When we are at the top, we have better sight of the scenery and the valley. When we pass a peak after another, we gain some experiences and insight. We are proud to overcome the cracks or the hurdles of life along the path. Often it is these cracks that gives us more meaning than the peak itself. From the peak, we see higher peaks beyond, endlessly. We learn to be humble that there are always higher peaks ahead. The peaks may not be mere heights. Irrespective of how high we ascend, we need to descend to our comfort level, for the top is deprived of oxygen, and we are not saints that live in the mountains. Mindsets are not easy to change, for they are often fixated and set by the education.

Any professor in Malaysia who buys a book from me, his university will receive two free copies for his libraries, via free fast delivery mails. (limit to the first ten don) I have sent a copy to my mentor professor, and two copies to the library of Bangi university. I have also sent two copies to an ex professor of English for his comment. These copies are not included in the offer.

For overseas buys, the freight charge for a single book is the same as two copies, due to weight. My book cost Rm 39.90; the freight cost is Rm 60 for either 1 or 2 books. Please get it from Gerakbuddaya Book Shops, as they have the physical books now.





unknown to the world

self change, rest is destiny

early bird nowhere



In Chinese Classics we often read: 1. Destiny  2.Luck or opportune timing  3. Feng Shui (geomancy, geopolitical environment)  4. accumulating merits or demerits  5. academic knowledge or profession.

In Yi Jing, there are two parts: 1. quo (hexagram) 2. Great Commentaries or philosophical guide. I prefer to begin with Confucius philosophical guide. I am also a medical man, partly trained in social psychology, psychiatry, philosophy and literary theories of the West.

It is interesting to note that academia is placed last. Perhaps that gives me much serenity and contentment  when I don’t succeed in a worldly sense. The best I could do was gaining merits as a doctors, poet and individual. I live and eat well, with good family life. There was little opportunity to meet people that could influence my social standing, without surrendering personal values. At best, I could move from base 5 & 4 to change my destiny. And if that dream seemed impossible, that would be my life, to be accepted with grace and bless. It is my understanding of effortlessly living , with the Dao.

This is not Echoes 100; in fact a little more. I am not an early bird to socio-political gain; also not an early bird to fly to heaven with my virgins (with erectile dysfunction at 70, I thought the creator has spared me many misdeeds I could have done to many damsels; instead of sex, the energy was channelled to creative writing.); nor an early bird to report to Hades, even though longevity might not be a blessing bur a cursed to our loved ones or to the community.











This is the question visitors to the exhibition are asked to write in their cards. I am never a fast thinker; and it is a strange query. Fifty years is a long time in a fast changing world, and who can really predict the future. “Que Sera Sera. What will be, will be. The future is not for us to say”.  I mentioned Amos Yee’s name, and the senior organiser was visibly agitated. I continued to remark that about 61% of Singaporeans supported PAP government and uncertain whether any grievances in that category of supporters. I could see the current PM had made adjustments to some of these grievances, but the opposition or the other 39% demanded more. If Maslow was right, when people were well fed, well sheltered and well educated (“air-conditioned nation”), they aimed for higher needs and wants to get their desire fulfilled. This is the same scenario with the Chinese in China and the colony. However, are the Singaporeans (or even the Chinese in China) really that well educated? Many of them are truly bananas, full of western ideas on democracy and freedom. They complained a lot, despite being the envy of their neighbours. The Chinese said when they stomachs were full and body warm, good to indulge in fantasy about “freedom and free speech”. Had they received some Confucian teaching (I think LKY had abandoned it at his own peril), Amos would have learned to respect others first before the u-tube, even though some of his contents might be right, but not the way he presented it and the poor timing for releasing it. He would be taught about “no big, no small” (Singlish), and learned to look at LKY’s achievement first, and the” flaws”, if any, as secondary. However, in the social context of the time, what would be the alternative?  For Singapore to save its fruits of success in the first fifty, the PAP government had to open their ears (Singapore’s Ga Ga’s aura scape) to listen to the loud ones, as well as the silent ones, attending with open hearts. It’s a different generations, who values freedom of speech at all cost, even to create social disharmony and chaos. PAP need to re-invent some kind of psycho-social-spiritual re-education in their education system. PAP also needs to shed the obsession with perfect 100% support in elections, an impossible task.

I wrote in a friendly blog about “Indivisible” on American Independence Day on July 4th, about liberty and freedom. The word, indivisible, contains visible individuals, searching for liberty and freedom in a democracy. Do Singaporeans and Chinese need a western type of democracy or freedom of speech? As a matter of fact, even the US is not really that free and democratic in applying fairness and justice to its own citizens? What more to talk about their standards to Asians. A lot of Asians in China, HK and even in Singapore and Malaysia conveniently ignore such facts.  The next generation of Singaporeans would not place excessive emphasis on technocratic sciences, or financial management, but the need to balance with humanities and art, including philosophical teachings.

I am not an expert to offer advices or antidotes. The next fifty years, I won’t be around, but in my frequent trips to Singapore, and in my observation and reading, Singaporeans suffer from a kind of syndrome: they think they are better than Malaysians (not realising we produce the talents for them in our own stupid ways), a little less than expats. Anyway the races don’t mix so much; too many sub-culture, despite the official attempts to create a melting pot or salad bowls in parades, yet each different salad can be identified easily. There are indeed many issues in Singapore that cannot be said openly. They have yet to learn how to be contented with what they have, and yet to learn how to offer opposition in constructive ways. Even China, at the peak of Ming Dynasty, could fall; same with Greece. What more for little Singapore!



In my last R & B 10,, anger and faith, the dividing line on belief is thoughts of kindness or violence; the differences among religions are cultural, languages, politics and rhetoric. Faith are belief we hold as “security” in the uncertainty of living and certainty of death. We believe there is serenity in faith, but this may no longer be true, if faith and energy are not well balanced.

We are angry for varied reasons.  My young man is angry because he is not recognized by his peers; that invisibility hurts and cause anger.

The word re cognition means to be repeatedly cognized, identified, acknowledged. It is a kind of seeking self-identity by another. The ego feels assured in another’s memory; a seeking of security, approval, support and prestige. In other words, the ego needs affirmation from outside. When the ego is unable to fulfill its wishes or desire, it is either compressed inwards or expand outward into anger. Some egos need designer shoes, branded handbags, fashion clothing, jewelries, straight a results, titles, degrees or even marriage and children to inflate it – keeping with the Johns and Jones, instead of just doing our best, and leave the rest to God or destiny. There are social connections and other condition for success. In other words, social recognition is regarded as a reward. However, non- recognition should not be regarded as punishment. In every reward, there is personal and social cost to pay. We find a lot of celebrities pay their fame with their lives. The winning is in the loss; and vice versa. In the quiet of non- recognition, there are opportunities and time for learning. This is a blessing in disguise and is often not appreciated. The world can be viewed as fair or unfair, depends on how one sees it.

I am not a psychologist to dwell in Theories. I find literature is as helpful as the other disciplines or religion.

Many must have read Aesop’s Fable in their childhood and have forgotten their lessons, or rather they do not tell such stories anymore. Please read these free “chicken soup for the soul” for free.

The Crow and The Swan:

And The Donkey and the Cricket:

Hopefully we learn about our limitations, and it will not be wise to waste our energy on it. It may be more fruitful to spend our energy and resources in exploring our potential and other skills. There are simply many levels of Smart; foolish in one and may be smart in the other or more domain. All these animals have their own smart.

Social Darwinist may tell us about the survival and continuation of the strong and vice versa for those who could not made it. The strong may not be the fittest, Do not get too concerned about the rat race; it may be good to lose games sometimes, for life is long and uncertain.

Any discussion?



A concerned parent wrote to me to provide some advice on “Anger” to his son.  I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or educator.  I hope they will find my ramble and babble helpful.

Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics wrote,” Everyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not easy.”

I read that wise quotation decades ago, and the word, “right” often ends up not quite right. There is a gap (time and event) between the cognition and the feeling or emotion.  Thoughts are electrical brain activity and feelings are chemically mediated, and it’s strange that the faster component seems to lag behind.  May be the chemical are seeping or immersing there for a long time since upbringing. The heuristics are automations, called it schema or whatever one likes. Anger, whether it’s feeling, mood, emotion, thought or all is indeed an arousal symptoms; similar experience with anxiety, stress, or even lust, only the mind names it differently.  We could not live in this world without “arousal”, for the creator did not make it safe for every one of us. And He complicated it without so many religions and knowledge, and each claimed to be “right”. Faith, a belief, no longer make serene.  Irrespective of how modern science progresses, the ego mind remains primitive: fight, flight or freeze. The Christian God is an angry god; in Buddhism, you need to achieve advanced sainthood to have no anger (no ego); in other religion, they claimed they are a religion of peace, but even their brethren’s do not feel peaceful living among them. Few of the Nobel Peace Prize winners are truly peaceful; if you doubt this, just ask Barrack Obama, or even the Dalai. This is said not to belittle them, but to point out they are as human as us. For most sane people, we can get rid of anger, so don’t try to be perfect, or feel guilty or shame about it (unless the feeling and thought have resulted into evil or harmful conduct) ; anger can be a great motivator, for it provides tremendous energy to move forward, though it is also powerful to do violence and destruction. Excessive faith and energy, without proper balance of conscience, shame of doing wrong or harming others or self, are living examples.

I do not wish to bore any reader with long statements. Jeffrey Kotler wrote, “Real insight, if it is truly part of you, cannot really exist as mere intellectual revelations.”  I shall conclude with the revised “Serenity Prayer of alcoholic anonymous” :

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the differences.”







It is often said that creative writers invent lies to tell the truth; historians invent truth to tell lies. Truth and lies are often so entangled to differentiate, except for the writers and historians. With the passage of time and cultural indoctrination/miseducation, hatred seeps in, and politicians become saints to deliver their sane messages. Critical political historiographies are getting harder to read and decipher.
The Israeli/Arab conflict will take ages to reach a peaceful settlement or negotiation; peace will require strong prayers by both sides, with big UN and American Joss sticks, which usually burn at both ends. Such disease has now spread to the East, with Western intervention. Even Buddhism was no longer that pacific in their own countries, such as Sri Lanka and Burma. In Malaysia, historians revise their texts for nationalistic and examination purposes, and school children just churn out the facts to score their As. Our novelists are not too good in telling lies, and the facts appear downloaded from somewhere, if you read Rain. Poetry is shunned by most who can read English, and any child who wishes to be a poet or a writer have to be psycho-analysed Perhaps easier to push drugs than listen). What are intellectuals (of non dominant groups) to do in a country who is neither secular nor religious, the politicians remind the other races they are truly peaceful but keep churning out threatening slogans? For retiree, it’s simple, take off the specs and hearing aids, and walk the talk, while the bones are still fit.


Ramble & Babble 8: No Zou No Die

A patient once told me that even though I spoke or wrote well or better than him, more people would understand him better than me. That statement is both true and factual. If language is meant for communication, I have to admit he communicates better with his peers than me. Indirectly, why do I bother to do a Masters in English at all?

The standard of “Good English ” is falling in this country. Singapore is better than us, but expatriates complain the English spoken and written by Singaporean graduates are poor too. Perhaps too much Singlish over the causeway, and we have our Manglish. No Zou No Die is Chinglish, and a lot of melodious song is sung on that theme. In this country we have education in Malay, and students learn their own mother tongue, either Chinese, Tamil or English, or Chinese dialects. Our neologism is wide, many idiolects, dialects, languages-mix (hybrid or creole), sms, emoticons and even Arabic figures to represent sounds that match with the written (Chinese is tonal). This is the modern trend, with complicated syntax that amuses the young, who are lazy to learn the hard way.

No Zou (walk), No Die (fall). Well, if you don’t walk, you don’t fall, so the second negative “no” is conditional on the first “no”. It’s a novel way of expression, albeit the confusion. However, I would not dare to speculate how I would feel or think if my grand children were to speak to me in such languages, or idiolects. Is the evolution a retrogression or progression? Moreover, in this country the races have their own sensitivities to words, certain words are exclusive right of the dominant race and cannot be translated or even uttered. The hegemony has gone even to language and literature. Our richness in multi-cultural diversity is often a show, good for tourism and marketing. No zou no die, no talk, no trouble; more talk, more trouble. Cut off the grammar and tenses, keep things simple. The language purist will faint, but better than putting a lot of our students under stress. In a digital world, there’s no need for “Good English”, as long as you are understood, and business can run, and money flows into your account incessantly.

no feng no lang (no wind, no waves)

No zuo no die: I was told that zuo is not walk, but implies work, pretend, affect; die is English, not Chinese tonal! The second “no” is still conditional on the first “no”. If language is for communicating, then I must comment unless you are in the peer wave length, it is difficult to guess the meaning.


There is a Chinese traditional saying among the aged that there are three real assets when one retires: aging spouse as a companion asset, your old good friends as social asset, and your financial asset for retirement. Some people may achieve good financial assets even before retirement, but they kick their spouse off and remarry someone younger or prettier, or they may trade their old friends off for more obedient new.
However, for most people, the financial cake shrinks in size with each passing year, due to rising living and health cost. Your spouse or bosom friends may die long before you, shrinking your social circle and interactions, due to reduced mobility and physical deterioration. Irrespective of how well you may take care of your health, there are simply many factors beyond your control or desire. You have limited choice ultimately, and have to accept whatever comes along. For those who can accept the changes, life may be easier for them; or those who reject the changes, life goes on, whether positive or negative. Is it the individual DNA or neuro circuitry that explains the differences? Or is it multi factorial that defies a simple answer? Or the chemistry in our limbic? Would drugging makes a real differences?
What makes the differences between the two groups? How do we “wager” the assumptions beyond Pascal belief in God? Beyond cognitive behavior and rationalism? Beyond logotherapy? Beyond System Thinking? It will be good to explore from readers.

NB: Pascal Pensee by Orwell 1627 is worthy of reading. If we don’t have time and energy to read “Great Books of The Western World”, read all the excellent summaries. In the same spirit, please read Yi Jing, the great Chinese classic, which I have written some brief introduction.


Malaysia has been increasingly racial over the years, but the coming election on May 5th, 2013, has thrown some light on the harm of racial issues in nation building. Candidates are now voted, not based on race, gender and social standing, but more on the loyalty of individual political party, which is simply, the support or resistance of the government or opposition parties. Independent candidates are doomed to fail and will have their deposit confiscated. Yet there are always a few brave ones on either side, if they are not selected by their own party or they prefer to try their personal fortune in national affairs.
For a start the digital and mass media has gone in full advertisement about the fairness and justness of non -racialism in this country. Even the prime minister, in his hind or fore sight wisdom, sent his son to Beijing to learn Chinese Culture, when such privilege has been denied to Chinese citizens. The election fever brings out the fervour. In this pre-election time, I have been frequently reminded, via sms, about the Rm 500 incentives my parents have received from them, and to vote for them. Well, to respond to their grace, I burn some joss paper to my parents, asking whether they have received their money in the right currency. Their line is perhaps down, for their world is as corrupt as ours. The notes are getting bigger and inflation must be bad in the nether world too. If there is no reply by May 5th, it may be a phantom vote, for we grant citizenships to all kinds of aliens. Hopefully they have the indelible ink in their market, otherwise I have to burn some, but how to burn liquid is not for me to know, as politicians are magicians.
The whole town is full of posters. I realise the female candidate in my state is an incognito person and a secretary of a VIP. I have no time to ascertain whether she is standing on her own or as a proxy for her boss. There are lots of u tube, leaflets and blogs to read, meetings with entertainment speeches, plus with free meals, to attend. All they want is your vote, and you are again non entity until the next election. In this election, it is the party, not so much the candidate, you are voting. The choice is thus support or against one or the other. It’s a demo crazy, some crazy thing people imitate from the West. It is nevertheless still a choice. People want change, and it is change that they are voting. Good or bad, it is a risk they need to take. With gerrymandering and all kinds of rules, it is never a fair fight, and despite this, you need to exercise your micro power well. Go for the kill!


On October 15th, I composed these lines for my birthday:

“At sixty six, run out of gimmick

Dream some multi-colored lipstick.”

Dream interpretations are always very exciting. The ancient Greeks have their Oracles; the Chinese have their Bakua. (Refer Yi Jing), whenever they face changing phase of lives or events. When, where, what, how to retire have been in my mind for a long time.

“Time to take off my working clothes

In nakedness, birthing freedom flows.

Wonder what to wear for graduate retirement;

Adorn with fancy dresses in old garment.”

Even before I take off my clothes, new garments are already planned for me. These new dresses are full of emotional colors. I thought  the interval between nakedness and nudity (wearing nothing) in the birthing process was “freedom”. The lived body (as against biological) was a social cultural construct, and how “free” one could be depended on many other factors. I was told how lucky I was, for others remained worse than nude. I need time to explore the meaning of “lipstick”. Perhaps it implies something sensuous, rather than sexuality. What is artistic pursuit without sensuality and ambiguities?  I am uncertain whether retirement means repeatively getting tired with new adornments or it will be better to take a leap and start afresh with something new after being tired by thirty odd years of work.The path not taken will open up other paths, as long as the legs are still working, and time is not always at the senior’s mercy.

Recently another classmate died of sarcoma. This year, three of our members have gone on “heavenly tour”. Our group of friends is dwindling, year by year. We should have juniors with us, but they would not be abled to share common stories or destinies with us. We would retell et infinitum with boring the other.

In my  Wuyisan, Xiamen trip, I wrote:

“A six-seater bamboo raft rowed down from upstream;

Gorgeous gorges, turns and twists, meandered in daydreams.

Calligraphy competed with misty rocky formation in bliss;

The hanging coffin reminded earthly souls what was missed.”

At this age, the physical and mental health have gone from upstream to downstream while meadering in the river of life, and experiencing the twists and turns of living. The hanging coffin is a constant reminder that the days are not for me to decide. Retire in a year or two before the regrets.

“The burnt candle exposes its cored wick;

The tired light allows some kick and pick.”

Taking up a Masters in English course was thought to be a search for “lipstick ”, but it was not English Literature or poetry as I have anticipated. It was a tiring journey with some laughter and sceneries along the way. Mt wife and daughter daughter are  calling for my early retirement so that the extended family can be together as a unit. The interpretation of dream begins with my angels in Singapore – they wear the lipsticks.