Category: Social Issues

I have been privileged to have been part of the #BeMyProtector campaign as a copywriter! It is heartwarming to see the community come together to learn about human trafficking in Malaysia — the video gives a good snapshot.

Part of my contribution:

Tenaganita Hotline quiz

The interactive quiz aims to get Malaysians to remember and save the Tenaganita Hotline. Tenaganita helps rescue trafficked victims and assists in safe repatriation of survivors.

Human Trafficking

Malaysian horror

I hope I have helped bring these realities a bit closer to those of us who have been more fortunate. I also take my hats off to the vast number of people who have given their creative talent, time, money and effort to do this…

More info at www.bemyprotector.comCan you save, shoot and share as well?

p/s: Below is my favourite photo of the campaign. The Change Your World people inspired me when I was a teen. One never knows what will grow from the seeds we sow in young lives…


Serving Malaysia

The question of serving my nation is one I have grappled with again and again and again, especially when overseas. Others have as well.

I must admit, as I’ve grown more appreciative of the challenges and dilemmas of living in Malaysia, I’ve found it increasingly unfruitful to toss the question about. I looked at what I wrote in 2011 on the cusp of graduation and cringed at my naïveté!

I know now that one will always be torn and there is no easy resolution, but I’ve grown slightly tired of reading articles like this one, yesterday: Malaysians abroad – two sides of the coin. Bit of a waste of time to dwell on the obvious. In that way, my post too is a waste of time.

But my appreciation for those quietly labouring in Malaysia has grown, especially those who have given up bright futures abroad to live and work with the mess here. I am more convinced now than I was a few years ago, that the mess is growing, basic infrastructures are breaking, and Malaysians should be prepared for difficult times.

I don’t know if those who committed to come back to Malaysia made their decisions fully aware of what they were committing to, but I quietly admire their fortitude and perseverance. I am grateful to them. I think what they have done is very good, very Christian (I hate to use this word here but I find no alternative), bearing witness to hopeful redemption that is present in our world.

I do believe things are bad. But I also believe in hope in a real unwishful way — a hope grounded in a suffering reality. I don’t identify with and don’t have too much time for rants brimming with fatalistic disappointment. I believe in working in the mess and through the mess, and am very appreciative of a great number of Malaysians doing exactly that.

Embarrassingly, however, I find myself now caught out. My life contradicts my emotions or my hopes. I don’t agree with Marina Mahathir, that you can “go but don’t give up” on Malaysia. It sounds nice, but how does that play out in reality?

I had to throw all my energies into learning Australia. That was an all-consuming challenge. I learnt Australian ways, grappled with Australian problems. How could I stay equally invested and engaged in Malaysia? I could keep up with some news on the internet, but not at a level sufficient to affect meaningful change.

I also believe that if you live in a foreign nation which has graciously accepted you and extended its hospitality to you, your duty is now to that country, to assimilate and contribute and build that nation. I think that if people took that more seriously there would be fewer assimilation problems.

I tend to be sceptical when people tell me, “you can do both”. Like images of successful career women carrying their smiling babies, advertising the “women can have it all” catch cry — prod beneath the surface and you’ll usually find hollows.

Nobody can have it all; nobody. I believe there are creative ways to navigate life and make the best of things. I applaud those who excel in this.

But anyone attempting to entice Malaysians to return would have a difficult job. Can the sacrifice, difficulties and costs be hidden? If presented fully, how many would accept?

Should the (2 million and counting) emigrants who have left Malaysia be commended? Do Malaysians have a moral duty to the country, or not? If so, how can it be acceptable that one leaves for a “better life”?

Ten years ago, my biology teacher Mr Ch’ng Kang Beng taught me a lesson on the value of life. (I wrote a very short post on it back then.) He was a good teacher and that lesson stayed with me.

2005 was my last year in north Malaysia. I then left home: to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Australia. I read different stories, became aware of different ideas. I found abortion a difficult, tiring and emotive issue to grapple with.

I was in my teens when I watched Juno.  Funny I don’t remember much about the film, but I do remember the lone nerd girl outside the abortion clinic shouting after Juno, “Your baby has fingernails!”. I remember thinking to myself, I never, ever, in a million years, want to be such a loser. (Worth noting: she successfully changes Juno’s mind about the abortion. But I had to google to recall this — the film’s primary message to me, all these years, has been: DON’T be such a crazy loser.)

As I have come to grasp the underpinnings of the prolife movement — human dignity & charity — I have however grown to appreciate its wisdom and importance.

I met mothers who, in moments of desperation, had considered aborting their child…but didn’t. Thanks to others who provided emotional, financial and practical support, they changed their minds and raised their children. Some of these kids are blossoming beautifully. Some have very difficult struggles, but they struggle on.

At this point, pro-abortion friends might ask, “Who are you to force these mothers to choose a life of struggle?”

I have come to think that question is wrongly framed, but here I want to talk about another kind of deep struggle I have become aware of: the grief & pain of the post-abortive mum. Sometimes, the grief takes years to surface and it is awhile before the woman is ready to confront her suppressed pain. Some of these women are unable to deal with their decision to abort, and find no solace. Here’s one of many such stories. Kari, miserable, says:

People tell me that I shouldn’t feel regret.

This sort of advice offered by those who support “a woman’s right to choose” adds insult to injury. Shouldn’t feel regret? Hello? Who is forcing their beliefs on others now? We don’t often hear such public stories because it asks a great deal of a woman to let the world know “I aborted my child, and now I regret it”. It requires confronting pain and guilt, and overcoming embarrassment and shame.

Please read that last sentence again. Slowly. Out loud. Those are very, very difficult things. Think about how that skews the type of stories you hear about.

I personally know of several such regretful women. Anne Lastman (who has had two abortions) says:

Beginning with a society that has decreed that abortion is acceptable and is “the choice of the woman” the same society then proceeds to build and maintain social taboos about this procedure. This leads to a collective silence. Into this silence enters the abortive woman who must then live according to the rules, which govern the society with its taboos. That is, she acquiesces to the hiddenness of her abortion and so must remain silent about any emotions that she may experience about the event.

Because the abortion has been her “choice” alone, or her “choice” with the assistance or coercion of others close to her, it is believed that there should not be any grief associated with the experience. Therefore no grief will be experienced or grief-work required. This is not so.

I’m an irenic, relational person, and I dislike upsetting people. But having been in a different space before — a space of general disdain for prolife PROTESTORS (what an angry word!) and confused bewilderment regarding their posture and work — and having more understanding & empathy for that now, I hope I can help others grasp and think through the concept of human dignity. I hope some will begin to see why this is not merely an ideological debate “for those with an axe to grind”, it is a fundamental value worth protecting. It is a (Christian) value that helps societies become great.

I hope more and more will come to recognise the wrongdoing that is being committed in the name of “women’s rights”, and to see through the well-told “pro-choice” advertising lie.

And to my friends, who like me, wished for a gentler, “more compassionate” approach; to Christians who simply “shut-off” at the first sign of controversy, I hope one day you will see that battles worth fighting are unfortunately not mild and pretty. At the very least, I hope you see that abortion service providers have Bu$ine$$e$ to run, and as such find themselves in a conflicting position to truly provide for a woman’s wellbeing.

Abortion hurts women, and takes lives.

Splashed on the front page of the Herald Sun today is a suicide pact of two women who wanted to die with dignity. Here’s what I immediately thought when I read the heart-rending extract from Claire’s letter. My responses to each of her statements:

“Given the laws that exist at this time in history, what I am obliged to do, I will do, and do willingly.”

What are humans obliged to do? We are obliged to act virtuously – honouring God and loving our neighbours, acting in a way that is good for our community. We are not obliged to respond to every request our friends make of us!

“Who would consider a loyal friend to be someone who walks away when their friend is in need?

Indeed. A loyal friend offers faithful friendship. Loyal friends sharpen and encourage each other (Proverbs 27:17). A loyal friend warns us when he sees us acting foolishly (Proverbs 27:6). A loyal friend cares enough to oppose a harmful action. Love does not rejoice in untruth.

“What is loyalty when one abandons others in order to protect oneself? I find I cannot do that.

I find myself always encouraged with great hope when I see someone journey with a friend till the end of his or her life through pain and struggles. It is a painful and selfish thing to abandon those who are suffering. It is worse to say, “I expect the future journey with you to be too difficult, it is not worth it, it is better to kill yourself.” Claire and Val have abandoned hope and abandoned each other out of fear of the future.

“None of our actions has been taken lightly. But neither have they been taken with sorrow or regret.”

I feel grieved and disturbed to hear that she can proudly say she will take her life without sorrow or regret – it reflects such a low view of human dignity & a lack of appreciation for life. It reflects a total rebellion and disrespect toward the Creator of human life.

“We are just two ordinary people, content and fulfilled with our lives but who have planned how to manage the disease confronting us and have chosen to leave this world before all dignity and integrity is lost.

A view that prioritises personal autonomy at the cost of responsibility to God and others, and completely ignoring the effects of one’s actions on the community, has a low view of dignity and integrity. It also reflects a diminished understanding of contentment and fulfilment.

“We will have a wonderful final day and share a meal together before we wish each other well on our final journey.”

You know, I wonder what Claire and Val meant by final journey. Where did they think they were going on this journey after death? Or is it really a journey toward death – made in futility and hopelessness?

By contrast, I was glad to see NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner speak about palliative care recently. Some people do not know that giving adequate pain relief (such as morphine) in a way that may hasten death where death is inevitable is included in palliative care.

Real dignity is very different from the dignity claimed by euthanasia advocates.

For example, I was greatly encouraged by this real story of John negotiating the painful dying days with the love of his life. I praise God when I hear about quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada and her husband Ken, about limbless Nick Vujicic.

There surely have been many moments of despair and depression in Joni’s life. Same with Nick. Their challenges didn’t always feel dignifying. At times, they felt helpless. Joni was stripped of her strength and stripped of the wonderful future she envisioned.

But dignity is knowing that their lives were crafted by a loving Creator. Dignity is putting their trust in Him. Dignity is overcoming despair. Dignity is faithfulness through suffering.

This is something that Claire and Val have missed out on, way too late. If you are reading this, it is not too late for you. There is a real depth to God’s Father love – and He desires that all come to know it (2 Peter 3:9).

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