Say No to Bullying

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I played talkshow host for an online show called Nadi on KiniTV few days ago. The above is a screen cap of the interview. Click here to watch the interview in full: Interview with KiniTV

This week’s focus is on the tragic death of a Malaysian teen, T Nhaveen who died after suffering from severe internal bleeding as a result of being bullied by four other teens. I spoke to Elizabeth from a Malaysian NGO called Protect and Save the Children about bullying and what we can do as parent or members of the general public.

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When you see bullying, take action. Talk to a parent, teacher, or another adult you trust.

Be kind to the kid being bullied. Show them that you care by trying to include them. Just hanging out with them will help them know they are not alone.

Not saying anything could make it worse for everyone. The kid who is bullying will think it is ok to keep treating others that way.

Let’s all do our part.

#saynotobullying

Our girls deserve better

I remember a discussion about women empowerment at an international event not too long ago. A fellow participant shared her personal experience. She had decided to further her studies and pursue PhD. That decision wasn’t exactly well received by her family. They were in fact more concerned with her sister and her upcoming wedding. There were barely any words of support or encouragement throughout. She recalled what was clearly one of her most important moments of her PhD, there was not one phone call to wish her well.

Halfway through her story, she teared up.

By the end of her story, we all teared up.

Until women everywhere are not made to feel like they made a wrong decision by choosing education over domestic life, we still need feminism. We still need to talk about gender inequality. Would a son be shamed for pursuing education over other things in life? That’s my point. And this is only one aspect.

Yet with the recent happenings and remarks, it does not feel like we are heading in the right direction.

Some quarters would say that the remarks in Parliament were taken out of context. I don’t intend to rehash the arguments here, though I will say that the girl’s right to education was barely a concern. I cannot see how child marriages, early pregnancy and early parenthood will not disrupt a girl’s studies and not cause a bleak future for her.

Something is not right when a female college student is made to feel like she made a wrong decision by exposing a chat group conversation consisting of inappropriate remarks towards fellow female students (This is according to the student’s account. The college has yet to respond to this). I don’t even know where to start. It is disturbing that our male youths think it is perfectly fine to make rape jokes. Something is certainly not right that the whole situation culminated in her having to leave and transfer to another college.

We need to instil from young that our girls and boys are of equal worth and therefore deserve equal respect and equal attention. Instead of dismissing it as “boys will boys”, we need to tell our boys that catcalling at girls is not cool, does not make them look cool and is disrespectful. We must stop perpetuating the thinking that for all the social ills in this world, it must be the women’s fault. Instead, let’s teach our boys respect and kindness towards everyone around them.

We need to impress on the young that if a girl wants to be a rocket scientist, there is absolutely nothing wrong with her and that she should go for it, instead of asking when is she finally going to get married.

By “we”, I mean every structure of the society – the family unit, the school, the politicians, corporations. Everyone.

This is more than a subject in school. It’s a life lesson, on how to become a respectful adult, a decent human being.

We hear some say that feminism is too unrealistic, too unreasonable, too “angry” a cause, that it’s a western concept, that gender equality is a non-issue.

No.

Let’s not let our girls down by dismissing gender inequality, like we always do time and time again.

Our girls deserve better.

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Saigon shenanigans

This post is kind of overdue. I had been wanting to write about my 2nd trip to Vietnam as soon as I got back but never managed to get around to it.

The plan to visit Saigon city was made quite hastily and me being me, I thought I could sort the things I have to do as I go along, whatever they are, only to realise nearing the trip that I have 2 wedding invitations to go. The 2nd wedding was on the same day I was to aboard the flight to Vietnam and it was in Sekinchan, some driving distance from the airport. I ended up not going to the wedding and joined my friends who went first much later. Bad, bad planning on my part.

It was Sunday evening by the time I reached our hotel and met the girls. We had pho’ and spring rolls for dinner (been craving for authentic pho’ since my last trip there!). After dinner we walked past a travel agency outlet and decided to buy a half day tour package. Reasonable price I’d say.

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Next, we went shopping at the night market right outside Ben Thanh market. It helps that the sellers accept Ringgits as I had trouble converting into the local currency haha! Bought a fake Nike slip-on shoes which was very comfortable (pretty sure it was fake lah considering how much I paid for it). One thing people will always tell you if you shop here, and I agree – you can haggle for lower prices, but they would not like it if you eventually decide not to buy once they do lower down their prices.  So think many many times before you bargain!

The next day we took the cab to Binh Tay market which was a huge market selling stuff in bulks at cheap prices. Everything you want is probably there, you name it. The walking paths from one seller to the next were very narrow we kept having to stop to give way or squeeze ourselves past.

After a quick lunch, we went shopping at Ben Thanh market (I know they sound alike,we almost got our cabbies confused!). This market had more breathing and walking space, though still easy to get lost if ever you get separated from your group. Bought a few fabrics and pretty pouches to give as souvenirs. Ain bought boxes of coffees (Vietnam is famous for their coffees).

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Walking back from the market to the hotel, we decided to take a breather at a park nearby. The weather was warm but still quite nice to stroll around. We could see a few people chilling at the park while we were there too.

Our travel agent picked us up from the hotel in the evening. First activity on the list was a water puppet show. There was no translation provided so we could only roughly guess what the performance was about. I admit I nodded off a bit during the show because I was tired from our day adventure. But overall, it was an enjoyable show about the life and culture of the Vietnamese people.

Next, we were taken on a cruise where we will be having dinner. We were first quite sceptical that it would be merely dinner on a ship that will not set sail, but the ship did sail as food was served hehe. Quite a lovely experience having dinner with the slow sea breeze as well as live music and dance performances. That really made a nice end to our short trip in Vietnam.

Such nice view of the sea and the city from the cruise.

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Although the trip was short (I had effectively only one day to enjoy Saigon), I was glad it turned out well. It probably helped that that was my 2nd trip to Vietnam and so I had a little clue of what to expect. It is also useful to buy a phone data once you get there. When interacting with the locals, expect limited English, though passable. And oh, one important thing, if you are exploring on foot, you need to have a strong heart and mind to cross the roads. Nobody will really stop for you. Nobody!

Ah well, all for the experience =)

 

Happy 2017!

I have not been writing for some time. Things have been pretty crazy. 2016 passed by before you know it and with 2017 rolling in, few things hit you. Few I can think of right now:-

  • I do not have an abundance of energy as I used to have in my 20s especially (yes, yes I have passed the big 3-0). I get tired easily, and it shows on my face! I try to be more consistent in taking supplements, exercising and just taking better care of myself generally.
  • I have a lot to be thankful for if I just take a moment to reflect. I know there are people who are looking out for me, from random texts, calls or invites. I tell myself to do the same for others as much as I can. Everyone appreciates small, random but thoughtful gestures.
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#throwback to Clapham Common (2015)
  • My workload and responsibilities are not getting any lesser. It’s a constant battle trying to tick them off the list of things-to-do one by one. I tell myself it’s okay to take a break once in a while, but don’t get too lazy! And find a smarter way to manage everything.
  • Ooh almost forgot, one more thing, this year I resolve to be less hesitant to say NO. Not a good idea to say YES to everything and not deliver your best (and “kill” yourself in the process).

On that note, it’s not too late to wish, Happy 2017!

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2017, bring it on! #throwback to Riverfront, Port Detroit (2016)

Have a good Friday and a great weekend everyone!

 

 

Women of the Future

The UK women delegate from the Women of the Future (WoF) Initiative was in Malaysia last week. This was the same programme I had attended in London last year as part of the Malaysian delegate. I was invited to join them for welcome cocktails and dinner at the residence of the British High Commissioner on Monday. I was super excited and of course really privileged to meet the WoF founder herself, Pinky Lilani as I did not have the chance to meet her in person when I was in London. This was a woman who has dedicated a big part of her life to support and recognise the force of young women.

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Photo credit: UK in Malaysia – British High Commission KL FB page

The next night, I hosted dinner for a small group of the delegate including Pinky. I decided to bring them to Rebung Restaurant, which turned out to be quite far from their hotel I feel so bad for their hungry tummy! I got to say, service at the restaurant wasn’t that great, even though the place wasn’t very busy when we were there. One thing that made up for it was the mix of oldies and traditional Malay songs sung by the restaurant staffs from a karaoke machine. Some of us had a whale of time dancing along to the songs (me included!).

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On Friday was the gala dinner at the ritzy Ritz-Carlton to launch the Women of the Future Global network in Malaysia. It was quite tricky for me as I had a speaking engagement at a forum right before the gala dinner. In the end, I decided to throw a black jacket over my glamorous dinner dress (Really, the dress code was that – glamorous). I was late to the forum (very bad time management on my part as I overlooked that it was Friday after work =_____=), and had to leave quite soon after the forum as the gala dinner was already starting.

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Photo credit: Angela Yap

Dinner was lovely and everyone looked their best. Midway through the courses, I went to the loo. On the way back into the ballroom, I heard the emcee talking about someone “…young lawyer something something campaign something democracy yada yada the constitution…”

And I thought to myself, “Hmm… who is this young lawyer? I need to network with this young lawyer after this!” Then…

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They deliberately kept it a surprise. Well, it really was.

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Photo credit: Honey Tan

This definitely goes on the list of the bestest moments of my life. That week, that particular week had been such a crazy, tiring week. And so being announced as among the recipient of the Women of the Future award was indeed a good feeling. Definitely makes me want to be better and do more =) It also makes me feel truly grateful for the wonderful support I have gotten from family, friends, colleagues right from the beginning of the my journey as lawyer and a member of the Malaysian Bar.

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With Rozana (SIS strongwoman) and Honey Tan (another superwoman) (Photo credit: Honey Tan)

Thank you Women of the Future program and the British High Commission! The support and recognition truly means a lot, more than I can say.

Work in progress

I was driving to a meeting earlier in the afternoon when I had a moment of self-reflection while behind the wheels (while still paying attention to the road, don’t you worry). I have been feeling constantly edgy, anxious and panicky, like something bad is looming, threatening to pounce on me big time. I had quite a productive time over the weekend. And some downtime too.

But that feeling of uneasiness was always there.

It’s compounded with a feeling of self-doubt too. Whether I am doing the right thing, or not doing the right thing. Whether I am saying the right thing, or not saying the right thing. Whether I am doing too much, or should have done more. Whether I should have taken a different route out of the many options presented in life. Whether I should live up to expectation (imagined or otherwise), and keep mum about the sick feeling in my stomach.

It hit me, while navigating my way through the traffic today, that I may be experiencing a near nervous breakdown. That’s not good. I even Googled existential crisis. Let’s hope displaying the signs they say you would have does not necessarily mean you do have one.

Whatever it is, I think surrounding yourself with the right people makes a whole lot of difference.

Today I met a group of people who have with them an incredible amount of wisdom having the benefit of years and experience life has to offer. No, we did not actually talk about ourselves. No heart to heart session or anything like that. But to be around people who had obviously been through a lot and seen a lot, but still turn out the kind, respected and dignified persons they are, with boundless energy and selfless heart to better things for others, it is so humbling and empowering. I came out of the meeting feeling a little better than I was before the meeting started.

It is a constant work in progress, but we should try to focus less on the negativity in life and look at the big picture and what life is also trying to tell you through the little things.

 

Sri Lanka says, “Would you like a hopper?”

I just got back from a 6 days trip to Colombo, Sri Lanka for LAWASIA conference. I’ve never been to that part of the world, so naturally I was pretty excited when I got the news that I will be joining the Malaysian Bar delegation to the conference. They told me that they were putting my name up to be a speaker to feature a young face of the Malaysian Bar, or something along that line.

Sometime later they said that I were to speak at the session on Business and Human Rights (BHR). I had given talks on human rights several times before, but never on a specific topic on BHR. So that was quiet nerve wracking. In the course of my research, I realised the topic is so, so wide! On top of that, I had quite a busy week in the days leading up to the conference. And so I did something I always promise myself to never do again, but always end up doing it, again. I finished work at the office at 2.00am, rushed home to pack until 4.00am, took a 2 hour nap, then rushed back to office to catch the transport to the airport at 7.30am. Thank God I was going with Karen who arranged our transport.

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Just before boarding

After all that, once we touched down and got to the hotel, I was completely worn out. It was impossible to prepare for my session. I woke up early the next day and started typing up until it was time to catch the chartered bus for the opening ceremony.

My session was scheduled to be the last session for the day so that gave me a bit of time to prepare. I decided to skip the breakout sessions right after the plenary session the next day to go through the presentation paper. My stomach was already upset from before the flight to Sri Lanka, so I decided to stay away from fully sampling Sri Lankan curries and other delicacies =( Lest I had to pull some dramatic exit while on the panel!

But thank God the presentation went alright, I think lah! I went about a minute overtime, but I managed to present all my points and even slotted in a shameless promotion of how great the Malaysian Bar is haha! Bar President and Bar secretary came into the room just as I was ending. Steven came up right after and was all “Well done, well done!” Yeah yeah… =_______=

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On the panel

Karen took pictures and it was quite clear from the photos that I was just immensely relieved the presentation was over haha!

A few people came up afterwards to introduce themselves and said they enjoyed the presentation. I got a smile permanently plastered on my face the entire night because of that. I’m glad I decided to write a full presentation paper instead of bullet points on a powerpoint presentation. When you don’t have much time to prepare, writing it out helps to arrange your thoughts better I feel.

With the presentation out of the way, I decided to enjoy the rest of the conference, and Sri Lanka! We had Sri Lanka Cultural Night on Saturday right by the sea. I love it! Although they could use more tables to accommodate everyone as it was a standing room. I think I was pretty worn out from the session earlier and that Sri Lanka is behind Malaysia by 3 hours. I was exhausted and decided to head back to hotel when it was only about 9pm!

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Grand Colombo was certainly a grand hotel. The room was fantastic. The building was attached to a mall so that was convenient if you need to get something quick. I love that the hotel location is very near the seaside of the Indian Ocean.

The staff and waitress were very attentive. Ooh I discovered that an apom is called a hopper here, and it’s like their national dish. Hopper this, hopper that. And they have sambal too, all kinds of sambal! Too bad my upset stomach kept me from really experiencing Sri Lankan food. Although there were times I simply ploughed on. They have fresh seafood and the best curries!

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Would you like a hopper?

We had few hours on the last day to do some shopping and checked out Colombo town. It’s a different kind of heat in Colombo during the day, but at night the weather was quite nice I must say. I got on their 3 wheeler tuk-tuk, which if you’re not careful, they might not use meter and over charge you.

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Independence Square
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Independence Square
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Colombo Lighthouse
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Seen outside Paradise Road, a shopping place

I didn’t actually think I was going to enjoy attending the conference as much as I did, as I was under the impression that it will be attended by only important, serious people discussing important, serious issues. While the issues were important and serious, the people I met were very nice, supportive and passionate about the issues discussed (there were a few interesting characters too haha!).

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I remember during Steven’s session when he spoke about the Malaysian government’s proposed amendments that threaten the independence of the Malaysian Bar. He got a standing ovation by the end of it. That was a moving show of solidarity I must say that I can’t help feeling proud to be a member of the Malaysian Bar.

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Thank you LAWASIA for showing how important it is for Bar associations around the world to support each other in maintaining the integrity and independence of the profession.

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Thank you Sri Lanka for the memories!