Wednesday, May 23, 2012

For what purpose should one cultivate wisdom? Only labor and devotion to one's mission gives life its worth.

In Soka University, these two phrases below welcome students and visitors into the campus grounds.

For what purpose should one cultivate wisdom? 

Only labor and devotion to one's mission gives life its worth.
These two phrases have come across me several times. However, only lately, that I fully appreciate the meaning of the phrases collectively and each word as it stands in significance.
I believe that many of my peers are now in their stage of life of tertiary education. It is also not rare for people to ask why you go to university. And, definitely, the answer ranges. There is also absolutely no one definite answer.
My own interpretation of the phrases above is as follow:
 For what purpose should one cultivate wisdom? 
Wisdom would indicate the end result of our education (though it is not necessary that by studying we cultivate wisdom). For what purpose would be the usual question we ask ourselves or anyone else would ask us. The layman question: "Why study so high ah?"

 Only labor and devotion to one's mission gives life its worth.
Labour would denote hard work, the effort we put into the matter. Devotion would mean how determined we are to pursue our goal(s), and our perseverance would really depend on our devotion.
Definitely, these two phrases can be applied in many other areas. The scope does not need to be limited to the above discussion only.

But, truly, I have been enlightened by these two phrases. The extent to how much I have been enlightened is hard to be explained by words, but in a simple sentence: I may not know what challenges lies ahead but I know would be prepared to face those challenges because I have known myself better.

Friday, March 30, 2012

From A Culture of Violence to A Culture of Peace Exhibition - Multimedia University

The "From A Culture of Violence to A Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit" exhibition.
Date: 20-22 March 2012
Venue: FIT Glass Room, Faculty of Information Technology (now known as Faculty of Computing and Informatics), Multimedia University, Cyberjaya, Malaysia
Time: 10am-4pm

In conjunction with the exhibition, there was a public peace forum with the following details:

Date: 21 March 2012
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Lecture Theater, (FOMXR1001), Faculty of Management, Multimedia University, Cyberjaya, Malaysia
Topic: "From A Culture of Violence to A Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit"

Opening - Visit by Mr Omarrudin Ibrahim, Senior Manager of Student Affairs Division and 
Mr. Nawi Mat Nun, Manager Student Affairs Division

Peace forum

Speakers: Pn. Fatimah Sulaiman, Chairman Malaysian Red Crescent (Selangor) and 
Prof. Dr. Christopher Boey, Vice President Soka Gakkai Malaysia

The exhibition panels

Photos from various sources.

It is a proud collaboration between Soka Gakkai Malaysia and MMU Red Crescent.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

Many would have seen the video or heard of Steve Job's speech featuring this quote. I have also bumped into it a several times. I think the first time I saw this was when someone shared it on Facebook (the power of social networks). But recently, I could relate a few things that I have been through with this speech and I would like to share the full text of Steve Job's speech here (taken from

This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Views on The Star

I have, in the past during my free time, wrote to The Star regarding few issues that I feel is necessary to address. Quite a number of them were published. And, since now I have some free time, I have organised them all here and also at the sidebar at the right corner of this blog.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Trip to Melaka

(Back to attend to my blog after being busy for the past few weeks)

Around five weeks ago, I have been to Melaka. (photos on my Facebook)

It's been 8 years since I last went to Melaka. Things have definitely changed a lot. Last time, I only had the chance to go around Melaka Town. This time, I have got the chance to explore beyond Melaka town.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude and say thank you so  much to Bear, Bear's mum and family...and also Aaron, Zi Jia, Shu Wen, Aeson, Yu Yan.  Sorry for all the trouble.

I think being sick did affect me during the trip but I really did enjoy the short escape trip from Cyberjaya.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

On Seeds of Hope

Many of you would realise that my blog have been full of posts regarding the Seeds of Hope exhibition.

For those who would like to revisit the posts: 

Definitely, being involved in the exhibition has taught me a lot of things. 
I think the most common response I got when I start to take visitors on their tour is: "Oh, it's a go green exhibition."

But, there is a sense of relief that I have narrated well when at the end of the exhibition they would announced proudly that they have been inspired by the exhibition. Most realised that the exhibition is just not about going green. 
I think that is actually how the exhibition works through the formula of Learn, Reflect and Empower. At the end of the day, we hope that the visitors are empowered to really initiate action for change. That would clearly reflect on the message of the exhibition: 'The power of one"

I must also stress that it is the heart-to-heart dialogue between the narrators and the visitors that have made the passing of the key message to be possible.

I am also grateful to the Good Samaritans I have met throughout the series of the exhibition I have been. I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. Those who are reading this, you would not be able to imagine how these people have really helped me.

The Seeds of Hope exhibition is now touring the country. So, do find out if it is near your place.

To end this: I would pick this quote of Mahatma Gandhi from the exhibition:"You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Touring Penang

For those who didn't know that I am back in Penang already, I am telling you now that I am back in Penang! It may be a little late for me to tell you now since I will be leaving Penang in 4 more days. But, as the saying goes: better late than never!

This semester break, the experience has been a little different. Overall, I had the pleasure of taking three different groups of friends to tour Penang. Firstly, it was housemates and university friends, the "4.30am Melaka people" and thirdly, SGM Educator Group members from Johor.

Perhaps, growing up in Penang makes some Penangites like me to take for granted the unique values of Penang. This time, it has been an eye opening experience for me to really look back and appreciate my hometown. Penang is the place where I was born and educated. It is here where I grow and Penang would be part and parcel that forms my personality. It is also here where I was well-fed with great food!

To describe how deep Penang is to my heart, I would rewrite this phrase that I have posted on Facebook before: 
"While many people (especially politicians) are still thinking whether to declare themselves a Malaysian first or not, I shall declare this: I am a Penangite first. 
And that does not make me less Malaysian nor less Chinese.