Durian Story

  1. Durian time!
  2. It’s the heady wafts of durian everywhere. I am OK but some people are partially choked by it. My olfactory nerves aren’t bludgeoned by the durian smell as I like the similar strong smell of pekasam and belacan stuff.
  3. As I step out of my car, a pak cik with smelly sweat-stained T-shirt welcome me. It is just a small stall by the roadside on the way back from my office.
  4. “Durian, durian, durian..big one, small one..choose, from local kampung and durian kahwin”.
  5. A scooter suddenly parked next to me. It’s my friend who thought my car ran out of fuel. I am okay, just want to look out how much they sell durian here. My friend was relieved and quickly started his scooter and go. I feel a bit overwhelmed and guilty for not asking him to browse through the price together.
  6. “Mana ni, pak cik?” “Sik”. Short conversation to start with.
  7. The burly man with a rounded face flicks his chin at me as I hand him a few durians I have chosen. “Berapa sekilo?” “Jual biji”. “Ha!” “Ini murah, ni!” He tried to convince me it is, even more, cheaper to buy without weighing as durian contains thick, hard shell and sharp thorn more than the edible flesh altogether.
  8. Somehow, when I look at his eyes, I tend to believe this poor kampung vendor who is here to sell fruit only once per season. Ok, why don’t I give a try?
  9. I don’t like eating durian by squatting on the ground like many people did when testing to buy durian. I quickly ask the birdy vendor to incise the thick skin and pinch the fleshes to get an idea that they already ripen readily for immediate consumption.
  10. “Berapa?” “60!” “Wow!” “Murahhh lah! Saya bagi dua lagi”. I look again at the yellowish custard flesh and felt in love instantly. “Tiga tu ka?” “Ya!” “ok!”
  11. In less than half an hour I reached home. My son is likened to hantu pulut durian (a fond durian lover). He asked my wife: “..mak, malam ni kita makan pulut durian” Pulut durian is indeed glutinous rice steamed with coconut milk and served with ripened durian.
  12. The taste of pulut durian is hard to describe. The consequence of eating it, is even more, harder to describe as it may be likened to a steamy, risky forbidden love affair with a secret lover. The feel hot sensation accompanied by mild tachyarrythmias makes you awake for hours feeling guilty with pleasure for the rest of the night.

Hari Raya

  1. Celebrating Eids every year is a must. When the new moon set in, Syawal appears.
  2. The last week of Ramadan was spent for hunting the auspicious LailatulQadar.
  3. Next, in the agenda is Hari Raya Eidul Fitr. The celebration starts with acquiring new Hari Raya paraphernalia like new Baju Melayu and kueh mueh such as ketupat and rendang.
  4. This year Raya is slightly different. As kids are busy working and celebrate Raya in a rushing mode, the jubilation is slightly limited. As we are getting older, the mode of celebration is shifting. Becoming independent means I have to shut myself off from being too hedonistic about Raya. Let’s the young ones celebrate as now is their time to fully celebrate Raya.

Happy Ramadan al-kareem

1. When we want to make contribution, there always be obstacle. Call it a cause or what, something meaningful will always be difficult. We need a supportive environment and supportive companion.

2. Ramadan Kareem is coming soon. It is the time that we can make choice either to follow our nafs or find the correct purpose that we will choose to pursue. The basic motivation for nafs is survival. Therefore, it has to conduct itself on reactive basis. On the other hand, the total opposite is aql; the rational domain in decision-making.

3. Ramadan is the month to sanction nafs and to promote aql in order to conquer ruh (spirit). Refraining self from sinful behaviour and promoting good self-behaviour are the essence of fasting in Ramadan.

4. Contribution is encouraged in Ramadan. It gives us the sense of meaning like never before. Remember, no man is so poor as to have nothing worth giving. Even little gesture like smiling is considered as sadaqah. Even if you know how to read, find someone who can’t. If you’ve food, find those who starve and if you are happy, seek out some one who is not. Each one of us can do a little to bring some portion of misery to an end.

5. We relish news on donation by the government minister, forgetting that we ourselves can become a hero too, in a small way. Make contribution to the extend that the right hand didn’t even know what the left hand delivered.

Happy Ramadan al-Kareem.

Aspiration of PMS

1. In the Malaysian context, private medical schools (PMS) are largely divided into few catagories based on the ownerships, niche curricula and diverse experiences (including internationalization). These categories are far from complete but as Daniel Levitin rightly mentioned in The Organized Mind, catagorization such as the above is necessary in order to conquer information overload and hence simplify understanding.

2. I believe the time when private medical schools work in silos has passed. The new slogan should be: to avoid competition and to work together toward collaboration. A win-win situation as notified by Stephen Covey in the 7- Habit of Highly Effective People, must be to emphasize on the genuine agendas with some form of mutual respect and common understanding to achieve beneficial academic goal.

3. Association of Private Medical Schools is at the founding stage. It is my hope that this association can discuss issues related to private medical education and collaborate resources for the benefit of its members. In the same note, University of similar niche medical curricula should be encouraged to form a committee which resulted in fair sharing of resources as well as experiences. Not to be forgotten, the fact that public universities have already had Dean Council and Council for the Public teaching Hospitals to discuss issues, address their common problems and chart future direction.

4. MOE must have a clear vision to align private medical institutions; in order to push medicine as the national agenda for the next decade. Academy of Medicine should work hand-in-hand with the Academy of Science to draft clear vision, mission and objective to be targetted at, for the next decade. The Ministry of Health as guardian of health in this country is expected to think strategically into the future needs and demands of the rakyat and formulate strategies into the next decade. If this is not being done, Malaysia will be losing in term of strategic health leadership and priorities.

5. As goverment is pushing internationalization agenda in higher education, ways and means have to be developed so that equal chances are given to players irrespective of who and where they are. It simply means that some birocratic processes have to be simplified and made available for direct accessibility. Coaching similar to enterpreneural assistance can be provided from time to time for new universities to grow faster without repeating the same mistakes made by the predecessors. Though I acknowledge that mistakes are necessary for learning, in the end, time wasted can be avoided as long the desire for learning is kept alive and kicking.

On Becoming a Doctor

  1. Some people are forced into medicine because of parental persuasion. Parents may think that once they grow older, doctors in the house can help ease their treatment process that may become a necessity in the old age.
  2. The misconception about doctors’ life and personal wealth make many parents envious and dream about the life ahead for their children. Nonetheless, medicine is a noble profession. It is not a trade and secondary advantages should not be the aim.
  3. A good doctor must possess some good qualities like empathy, compassion, professionalism, hard work, confidence, passion and more importantly, he must like his work more than anything else. As a result, there is no retirement for doctors. Once a doctor, always a doctor!
  4. The practice of medicine is guided by strict work ethics. Doctors must be willing to study and improve their medical knowledge for the rest of their life. Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) has made compulsary for doctors to attend continous professional development (CPD) before the renewal of new medical licences.
  5. I become a doctor because I like to play a critical role in anything I do. Throughout my career, I was made to decide where should I go. When I was in the Ministry of Health, I strategically decided to push myself into teaching, service and research by joining a university. It was a strategic decision that I’ve never regretted. It gives me a sense of freedom and self-empowerment. I believe human beings should be empowered to take charge and trust themselves as there is no one else on earth that is better suited to determine their ideal and making it happen anyway.
  6. 33 years in medicine is a long time. Moving up and about the corridor of services from government clinics and hospitals to private clinics and hospitals; from public to private universities had given me real time perspective of the healthcare business.
  7. Lest we forget is that doctors solve problems day in, day out. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are embedded in problem-based learning (PBL) subjects.
  8. PBL teaches students to decipher complex information query into simple learning objectives which they need to find the answer on their own by checking medical textbook, journal and electronic references. The whole exercises help students learn to utilize their brain to solve medical puzzles.
  9. My last message to matriculation students is UniSHAMS Kulliyah of Medicine is here to make it happen.

Start registration guys.

Medical School of Today

1. Those who live under great academic leader like Ungku Aziz can imagine the difficulties in running a university based on demand from the generation that dominated sociopolitical pursuits at that time.

2. Though the era of student revival like in the 70s had become the past, demand from the new generation of iGen (or Gen Z) in the era of 2020s is real and urgent. Even if we pay close observation on the event that lead to governmental change during the last 14th general election, the voting result suggests that the role of this generation is significant and indisputable.

3. Running smart institution like medical school is challanging in many ways:

(a) Having vision is important for future planning of the medical school. As vision help leaders to see possibilities of tomorrow within the realities of today and motivates them to do what need to be done.

(b) Getting good team members provide good team work as the world is moved not only by the mighty shoves of the heroes but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.

4. We do see many schools of similar orientation offer similar courses. That means competition is stiff when each and every medical school has to create niche area and identifying unique character.

5. These uniqueness has to be made known to potential costomers through proper sale and marketing practices. At the end of the day, market force will determine the survivor of the race tribes.

6. Designing marketable curriculum to meet everchanging demands in medical sector like aging in the population, urbanization and related occupational hazard, life style changes and non-communicable related diseases must always be the priority for lifelong survival.

7. Finally, research and innovation strategies have to produce impactful results to the students, faculty and community at large.

Perfect Stranger

1. When I take student for clinical exam, I have to be a stranger to them. I have to get rid of bias and jaundice view of the candidate ability. Unfortunately, many people have difficulty to be impartial.

2. These conflicting roles are difficult to deal with. One as a teacher who is supposed to guide students and another as examiner who is supposed to gauge how much knowledge acquired by the students.

3. I had humbly confessed to a person who later turn out to be a colleague that I had forgotten when did I last examined him as clinical student. It is not that I’d suffered from selective amnesia but my mind wasn’t focussing on his face when I examined him but rather focusing on his thought and the substance that he presented.

4. Bias is the term that needs to be avoided in any clinical examination. Suggestion is a form of bias. Cues and clues subtly help students to pick up the answer that examiners expect.

5. Playing dual role is obviously hard. I hope I could keep acting well into my 60s.