Which matters more ? Better teachers or better learning processes?

What if the shortage of gifted, committed, teachers were a problem? (It is).

What if the best students get held back by a mediocre education system? (They are).

What if students who are already academically behind because of socioeconomic inequalities get left FURTHER behind because the students in the top 20% pull away and the top 60% push harder to pull up behind the front runners?

What if education became the Great Unequalizer?

Would a country be better off having 80% of its people of working age performing below their intellectual and other capabilities in order to accommodate the feelings of the 20% who cannot catch up?

Would a country be better off losing its top 20% to other economies because of a lack of educational stimulation or challenging and rewarding enough career opportunities at home?

I answered the first two questions. You, the reader, will have to answer the rest and see what it means for our country in terms of unity, integrity and prosperity.

The NEP was designed to bring the bottom 20% up and in doing so it created opportunities for 50% to have a false sense of achievement, 20% to leave and 10% struggling to make sense of the reality they are trapped in. We have a sum of mostly very average to inadequately mature or informed people forming the bulk of our population and labor market. They’re too smart for blue collar work and too dumb to create dynamic solutions and growth to match the world economy.

Catering to the bottom most portion has proven to be a disaster in the long run. And now we have to make a turn around and be an elitist society where the cream of the crop in schooling, are again, valued and worshipped and set the tone for the majority in the middle to pull up and  improve their personal standards.

Here’s the writing on the wall : (Parents, read this very carefully) :

1. The party is over. There are no more short cuts. All those years of criticizing the MOE for producing students who only know how to regurgitate answers? All those years criticizing endless tuition because the teachers at school are not skilled enough to transfer learning and asked students to attend tuition outside? That era is over.

2. If you are in the bottom 20 – 30% you will get increasingly left behind. This is more true of your family’s economic prospects and educational level than it is for your child’s one-time school results. If you are reading this blog you are likely in the middle 60%. The question is how to not be so far behind the top 20% that your children have to compete very hard in the open market with other 50% – 60%.

3. It is a scary time for unskilled teachers who are used to teaching by the book, buying workbooks, relying on smart boards and copy and paste for their school based assessments. It is a scary time for tuition teachers who rely on books that can be bought or imported to photocopy and let students practice in class. This is not the end of all published materials. Books and worksheets, along with other resources, will be used. The key word here is “rely”. Meaning, the teacher has to go through the book or material first before entering class and prepare the answers first in order to have the confidence to teach. KBAT will be extremely problematic for these teachers.

4.English – The focus and theme of this blog : I’m sorry, but your “pasar English” and communicative competence was enough to serve your needs during your time. However, for your children’s generation, they are coming up against a global world of ESL speakers who rank and judge each other by their level of intellectual clarity, diction and PROFICIENCY in Received Pronunciation English. Your Malaysian English may be good enough to communicate basic instructions to customers but in a future where computers are handling all basic correspondences and we need human beings to research, influence, persuade, negotiate, make an impression – your children’s level of English, unfortunately, reflects whether they had a prestigious education or not.

I’ll give you an example of how 20 years makes a difference. Whenever a 50 or 60 year old aunty realizes I have kids with a foreigner, their automatic assumption is I must have been relatively educated. I asked them why do they say that? They said it must be because I am able to speak in English that I am able to marry a foreigner. I find this HILARIOUS for 2 reasons. Why didn’t they think the foreigner is a Bangladeshi or someone from a generally non-English speaking country? Is it because Chinese women are of a higher social status than immigrant? Or that Malaysian women will want to “marry up” and the way to do that is being educated enough to be fluent in English? And why did they think being able to speak English is a pre-requisite to “marry up” ? (Since they have absolutely eliminated the possibility of me “coupling down”)

20 years, 30 years ago, being able to speak English was a tool for upward social mobility. Nowadays, even Thai prostitutes can speak enough English for upward mobility. We now judge and rank people not by their ability to communicate in” enough English to marry a foreigner” but in their ability to lead, persuade and influence. And in the future, if you only look across the Causeway at Singapore, the trend is starting that if you have broken English or do not write or speak with a certain level of diction and clarity, your “commercial and economic prospects” and respectability, among other things, become diminished.

5. Your children can’t get into the top 20% cream of the crop doing the exact same things the years before have done. You can’t actually go to any of the many tuition centres or hire untrained “freelance” tuition teachers who are not experienced and knowledgeable about how HOT and KBAT works to help your child get into the top 20%. What is possible is to be mentored under former professionals in their field who have trained others in systematic thinking and practice. It is one thing to help your child with someone supervising your child’s work but you could be sabotaging your child if the person who is his or her tutor either drills your child for answers or makes your child accommodate their old way of thinking of obtaining answers. You have to think carefully about whether your child will model after Lower Order Thinking processes (the common practice) or Higher Order Thinking (the way forward to the future.)

So, now, let’s look at this scenario of all the points above and put them together – is the answer better and more qualified teachers? Have you come to agreement about Higher Order Thinking becoming the aims of Malaysian education? Or do you think we still want to focus on school children memorizing, regurgitating, going to tuition and spitting out answers? Do you want a nation of Straight A-s who can’t think creatively and critically? Or do you prefer a tested solution where with enough tuition and stress the child will get 90 to 100 marks without understanding anything they’ve learned or why.

If you have any questions and comments please put them below or on my Facebook post and I’ll be happy to answer them.


Those Who Are Ahead, Stay Ahead.

After interviewing applicants with a minimum diploma / degree for the position of part-time English teacher I will conclude that the rot starts in Early Childhood Education.

Kindergartens are forcing children to learn by rote so that they can impress the parents who want their kids to be “ready for Standard 1”.

EC Educators pass the rot over to primary schools who continue to drill the learning and creative capacities out of these children in order to inflate test results.

As long as these children were passing dodgy “tests” they get passed on and on the conveyor belt, get to secondary school where it gets harder and harder to address the problem of learners who are incapable of higher order or complex thinking and incapable of acquiring the language competency to express complex thinking.

Finally, when these kids get to college or university the lecturers will LITERALLY GIVE THEM THE ANSWERS in order to meet the passing rate required.

Having written a course for a local college to obtain accreditation from MQA I know that it is with good intentions that the government says, “If your college is unable to teach this subject to a level of competence, we’re going to revoke your probationary accreditation.”

The colleges and universities, on the other hand, have to deal with a quality of students who are not self-directed and who cannot perform at any level above being spoon-fed.

Continue reading “Those Who Are Ahead, Stay Ahead.”

Barking Up The Wrong Tree Twice Over.

How is a lack of proficiency in the English language for a country where English is not a native language and a dismissive attitude towards a national language, a defining factor for unity – even related ? How does one who makes it to CEO and MD of a major newspaper like The Star be of such limited maturity to make such a simplistic and unrelated connection?

First, if any country is to be justifiably worried about a lack of proficiency in English, it’s the USA. English is supposed to be their native language and for a lot of them it’s probably the only language they know. In a way their native speakers are as illiterate in their first language as the Malaysians in our country that do not or cannot read and write proficiently in our national language, Bahasa Malaysia. (The issue was politicized by a local right-wing politician from a Southern Peninsula state.)

I have mentioned several times that I honestly believe that those who do not attempt to learn Bahasa Malaysia to a level of at least being able to function in daily life deserve to have their citizenship revoked.

The reason?

Their barriers to learning BM is a reflection of their prejudice towards the majority ethnic group. Their continued existence in our country, passing their prejudice down to their children, will breed disunity and disharmony and in the long-run, those who cannot assimilate into the Malaysian society become a threat to national peace and progress.


Whenever I come across Malaysians I have to translate for I will add, “How old are you by now? Even migrant workers who have been in our country for a few months can speak conversational Malay and understand what’s going on. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself that you have a right to vote and enjoy the peace and infrastructure and opportunities in this country yet cannot speak its language? Do you know that if you did not speak English or any native language of a foreign country you or your children would not be considered for citizenship? How will you integrate with the community and add value to the collective if you cannot assimilate?”

Let’s hold on for a minute before we get to why people hate learning Bahasa Malaysia and associating themselves with Malays through a common language. I’ll address that later.

First, why we have to keep an open mind when it comes to learning Bahasa Malaysia.

I am a language lover. “Bahasa itu jiwa bangsa”. Language and identity (Ego) is intertwined. “Tak kenal maka tak cinta”. You cannot respect or love an identity outside of your immediate Ego if you do not attempt to interpret the world through their filter and language is a HUGE lens in how we view the world.

When I started teaching in a Chinese school many of my friends asked me, “How can you stand being in a ching-chong environment and dealing with the mindset of Chinese-educated people?” –  I love languages. I’m good at them. It’s not personal!

A lot of my old friends made fun of the fact that I am now an “Ah Lian” for associating with Chinese-speaking people. They say I am mixing with “rough people without decorum and manners, lack ethics and are tactless and unprincipled, unscrupulous and selfish.”

My point ?

Many English-speaking people especially those from an urban upbringing discriminate against those who don’t speak English well.  They are pretentious and ignorant and greatly disadvantaged when it comes to maturity in how they think but they don’t know it. English-speaking, Western-leaning people, discriminate against Chinese-speaking people and the Chinese culture (including other-language speaking people and their culture) the way Chinese-speaking, Chinese-leaning people in Malaysia discriminate against Malays and thus, the learning of Bahasa Malaysia.

I will not deny that there is a hierarchy of language and because of its economic and social currency, English ranks the highest. It does not mean the possession of proficiency in that currency makes one superior by association with it but unfortunately way too many short-sighted people believe a proficiency in the colonial master’s language affords them prestige or status by mere mastery of the desired language.

To be fair, the problem is not the former colonial master’s language. History has seen how other languages (Latin, French) have had their days of glory as the language that ranks top in the hierarchy of languages. “Got Latin, can travel.”

The problem is the negative associations we make with any language that has very little social and economic value in a local or global context. Not being proficient in English may cost you in the employment marketplace. Not being proficient in Bahasa Malaysia will not.

Among linguists and language lovers learning a language is primarily about expanding ourselves by learning from the worldview of others and exploring and appreciating their culture, beliefs and habits. Language learning of a non-native language has always been the luxury of those with surplus time, money or verbal-linguistic prowess. That is how language should be learned – to understand the viewpoints of someone else. And that is what the Malaysian government is hoping to achieve – to defend the identity, significance and value of the Malay culture and to expand on them and impress them upon others if possible.

In Malaysia this intention has become misplaced when Bahasa Malaysia was forced upon everyone and made a mandatory subject and medium of instruction. The Bahasa Malaysia agenda has turned into a Nazi-like propaganda.

It is definitely a wrong approach to force Bahasa Malaysia unto both Malays and non-Malays while displays of the ineptness and retrogressive ways of “Melayu” exists all around. The Malay culture as a whole and how it is projected by media is unappealing to progressive minded people. An affinity for gossip and rumor mongering, belief in the supernatural, use of black magic, obsession with sex and porn / rape / incest culture, illegal racing, drugs – these dominate our perception of Malay culture.

A Democratic Approach to Bahasa Malaysia.

At the core of my language learning philosophy is the Affective Filter or AF hypothesis. And here is how we can finally tie, the problem of a lack of proficiency in English and Bahasa Malaysia in a Malaysian context, together :

Malaysian citizens or those with PR status that cannot or will not learn the national language have a huge stigma against the Malay culture. Malaysian citizens, both rural and urban, who lack a proficiency in the English language are reacting to the discrimination they feel English-speaking people have towards them. Both problems are connected to each other through PREJUDICE against the other.

How can Bahasa Malaysia become a desired learning objective for a Malaysian if the Malay culture as a whole needs a major revolution? The Malay culture looks a lot better from a foreigner’s point of view because unlike Malaysians, foreigners taking Bahasa Malaysia as a Foreign Language do not face the same penalties Malaysian do for not being proficient but more importantly foreigners don’t inherit the wounds inflicted unto Malaysians who feel so ashamed for being forced to associate with a culture they are too close to for comfort. Familiarity breeds contempt.

Bahasa Itu Jiwa Bangsa 

That means, “language is the soul of a people”.

The problem with Malaysia is we marry personal identity with language to such an extent that to be multilingual can be associated with being “polygamous” at best or worse,  a “traitor”.

It is exceptionally true that you cannot understand a person until you understand 3 things about them : their language filters, their money blueprint and their attachment style.

And we’ll focus only on the first of the three.

The Solution 

My opinions are often counter-intuitive. First, on the lack of proficiency in English :

The Capitalist’s Approach

We need to stop looking at Socialist approaches to solving the problem of a lack of proficiency in English. We need a Capitalist approach. I’ve written several times over the years about why the entire multi-billion dollar global ESL industry has been and will remain a colossal failure in its attempts to bring language competency in English to the world. This more recent news article with a local context explains the reality of the ESL landscape in Malaysia and why complaining and blaming is just futile.

A capitalist approach means that instead of pumping hundreds of millions or billions into attempting to “train” more teachers to teach English the way Pavlov trains dogs to salivate on cue we should just 1Malaysia-voucher the entire sincere initiative – give citizens cash vouchers that will allow them to pay for their own private lessons with tutors of their choice. Allocating about $200 – $300 RM a month would solve the ESL problem in 1 schooling generation (of approximately 15 years). This does away with the argument that only those who are “better off” are in a position to get better, which is true of what is happening today. The ESL students I’ve had in the past come from families with a very comfortable margin of surplus income.

We do not lack people who have a very high proficiency in the English language and are capable, though unwilling, to teach others. They are sitting at home doing nothing because these are law, engineering and graduates of other disciplines who have chosen to downshift in order to find more balance and meaning in life and to have time for their family. I speak for myself even when I know there are thousands like me languishing in their pile of unfolded laundry out there.

All people like me need in order to contribute to nation building is to make it worth their time. Like it or not we already have cuckoos and functionally-suspect individuals going around calling themselves “English teachers”. We might as well liberalize and monetize the industry’s potential to the max. And two motivating factors would lucrative opportunities that make margins from flipping properties look like child’s play and personal pride in being part of a progressive, lucrative collective.

And second, on why Malaysians are so shameless in not being able to converse well in Bahasa Malaysia.

I have always wondered whether the language itself is the problem or the perception of it is. I remember when I used to teach English at a Private Chinese School I asked my students why are they responding so much better to English lessons than they are to Bahasa Malaysia classes and their answer is, “BM is useless.”

Economic currency and social status is one reason but if you dig deeper you realize that non-Malay speaking students have a very negative association with BM. I know this because my first task in every ESL class is to assess how high the barriers to learning is before even conceptualizing a teaching approach – as long as students are not allowed to address their “language wounds” they cannot hold two opposing thoughts at the same time i.e. be motivated to learn something that is out to get you.

When I teach ESL to teens and children above 8 gears old I have found that in 100% of the time a learner’s language learning becomes fossilized because of the negative associations they’ve made towards a target language.

Fossilized. Yes. And I need to “warm them up” to learning by bringing down their AF.

Malaysians who lack a proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia are not lacking in it because of the level of difficulty of the language itself. They fossilized because of all the negative things they hear about Bahasa Malaysia. And here are the top ones that will come out of almost every Chinese-speaking individual :

1. Bahasa Malaysia is useless unless you’re going to apply for a government scholarship to get a government job. But those opportunities are almost exclusively reserved for Malays. We don’t stand a chance anyway. However, just in case we can’t afford private college and need to get into a public university, we have to make sure we get a good grade in Bahasa Malaysia.

2. Nowhere else in the world uses Bahasa Malaysia. If we leave this country we’re not going to have any use of it. We might as well invest in learning English. It’s a global currency.

3. Bahasa Malaysia is the native language of Malay people. And Malays discriminate against us.

No. Bahasa Malaysia DOES NOT belong to the Malay-Muslim people. The etymology of Bahasa Malaysia is completely separate from Islam. But it is very difficult for the average non-Malay, non-Muslim to understand this although Indian-Muslims can distinguish “Malayness” from “Islam” very well.

The Answer Lies in Sambal Tempoyak, Ikan Bakar and P. Ramlee movies and songs.

How do we bring desirable qualities of Malay culture to the forefront? How can we contextualize Malay culture in a positive light before we shove Tatabahasa, Sastera and Karangan down people’s throats?

Let them savor the flavors of Malay food that can only come from the willingness of people that will take forever to get something done – or at least five times the time it would take for a Chinese or German to get it done.

Let people enjoy the humor and creative and artistic  excellence of P.Ramlee rather than stupid, over the top Malay skits and “drama”.

And we should have another national holiday – A durian eating day. Eating out to unite everyone.

The idea may sound ridiculous : “We simply don’t have the time to make people know Malay culture and love it. We want them to pass a mandatory exam in language or penalize them.” But it may the only shot we’ve got towards national unity.

What’s The Difference between Homeschooling, Gentle Birthing and non-formula feeding?

I’m currently about 32 weeks along in my second pregnancy and what I’ve discovered is that my path to choosing home-birthing and breastfeeding is completely in sync with my choice to unschool.

Here are the similarities I have discovered among these three movements :

  1. We don’t choose the alternative to the standard, industrialized, one-size-fits-all system for schooling, hospital  birthing and formula feeding because we are hippies or rebels. Yes, there are rebels and hippies that media pay attention to as the anti-thesis of all things Industrial and “modern”  but a majority of us are neither hippies, anarchists nor rebels.Instead we are compelled to NOT choose the industrial standard and by default we end up with things like alternative learning, alternative birthing and alternative infant feeding to the post-industrial standard.I didn’t choose to homebirth because it’s avant garde. Like my homeschooling choice it became my default because nothing else is offered that matches my needs. Having gone through something once and finding it extremely unpleasant and traumatic (yes, school was for me)  I am just not brave enough to succumb to it twice and put someone else I love through it. I am a big risk-taker but I do not take risks when the odds  have been proven will turn out to be against me.

    I’m going to say that one person’s default is going to look a lot different from somebody else’s. – Today I read a personal facebook post of a gentle, water birth that was experienced in Pantai Hospital, KL (same place of birth for me decades ago) under the supervision of a particular doctor. That option is not going to be available for me without stretching my threshold for convenience because I’m from a different city.

    Just like my homeschooling experience I am not going to encourage anyone to make the choices I have made because I am a different individual from them. This sucks when people come online to get information and gather feedback hoping to find their own sweet spot only to be met by someone who is telling them, “This is working out fabulously for me but I’m not going to teach you the ropes or how to do it. You still need to go back to Square 1 and figure it out yourself.

    Think of it like going to a get-rich seminar. Whatever they are teaching has definitely worked for the speaker / trainer on stage.  But would that necessarily make you the next T. Harv Eker, Tony Robbins or Industry Rock Star of your niche? Not if you never discover your WHY and align yourself to your higher purpose for becoming a parent or becoming financially free or wealthy.

    What makes homeschooling / home-birthing even more challenging to teach others than get-rich-programs is that we’re dealing with young children who have yet to be formatted. Wealth programs are based on a definite system of money and wealth creation. Learning is based on a vast unknown field of human potential. It’s still possible for wealth programs to work for some people some of the time because money systems are a lot more predictable than human potential.

  2. Choosing how to birth (whether hospital or alternative) is really pretty much the same as choosing how to homeschool or unschool. It depends on one factor and one factor ONLY : who are you  and what’s the experience you want to create for yourself. (the parent / adult).In reading “The Birth That’s Right For You” I came across a page that explains how we usually deal with pain is how we’d deal with our labor. – Here’s how I deal with my migraines and other health conditions : I ask myself, what is the cause of this dysfunction and the purpose of  my suffering? How do I test then eliminate each theory one by one? I would be happy to rapidly gather tons of information to sift through and test just to arrive at one solution. I would avoid pharmaceutical products unless I have an important appointment and I need a temporary band-aid solution. I would look at the emotions and lifestyle choices causing a disruption to my homeostasis. I treat HEALTH and WELL-BEING as the most natural state and dis-ease as the intruder.

    When it comes to teaching language learning or homeschooling – how do we usually deal with the learning experience? I am the kind of learner that needs learning to be interactive, respectful yet not have a power structure to it. I need learning to be organic and to follow my natural learning curve which almost always means going WIDE and going DEEP rather than go linear just to be able to answer a question. I am a highly self-directed learner and I see LEARNING and RISK-TAKING as the most natural human state while FEAR and LAZINESS as the intruder. In fact, I see laziness as a positive thing – it is an indicator that I am either pursuing something that is not aligned to my higher purpose (just like dis-ease could indicate eating the wrong foods) or I am lacking a purpose or reason, a WHY (just like dis-ease could indicate a missing but essential nutrient.)

    As a non-academic kind of person I would not likely bother with specific learning goals and benchmarks. I would be content with having a few general goals which would take a 5 – 7 year learning curve to arrive at, going back and forth and sometimes apparently nowhere. I would not bother with tests and schedules, structure and a reward system.

    This kind of homeschooling style would not suit someone with a “B” frame – the typical engineers, academics, accountants. These people need a structure that’s a little bit rigid and mostly predictable.

    What stumps a lot of people who want to venture into this “homeschooling” idea is they can’t get away from the idea that there has to be ONE WAY of doing it that’s better than another. They might just need a little bit of introduction into the Theory of MI and theories of SLA to deconstruct from the industrial schooling paradigm they’ve been formatted into. An analogy would be a person who’s been brought up to believe in having a job until retirement and then live off their pensions or savings. They’d have no idea how being entrepreneurial works. They’d have little idea how to create a full time income from investing. In fact, the idea of having a passive income replace and exceed their working income is just unfathomable. The idea of being able to make MORE money after one retires using the free time they now have doesn’t exist. In fact, for some people, retirement is seen as a black hole one crawls into and making the matchsticks and candles one has brought along to last and keep warm as long as possible rather than freedom to make more money than a pre-determined monthly wage in exchange for hours.

  3. Trusting Yourself And Your Innate Higher IntelligenceMany, many adults don’t trust themselves to be competent teachers and instructors, trainers, coaches or people with any kind of authority to lead others. They have put their ability to learn, to lead and to inspire in the hands of figures of authority who would baptist them into worthiness and competency.Many people don’t trust their intelligence to learn, their courage to lead, their ability to inspire, their soul’s ability to heal nor their bodies to birth. This deep distrust in oneself is so pandemic in today’s world. People don’t even trust their ability to start and run a successful business or get out of financial ruin or financial mediocrity. They don’t trust their body’s ability to heal and they don’t trust their gut instincts and their intuition.

    Does this trust come instinctly or has this trust been destroyed by Industrial Schooling? And if it has been destroyed does it return to us over the passage of time or do we have to become conscious enough to decouple from the programming that has placed handcuffs on our Higher Intelligence?

    The transition to learn to trust my body when it comes to birthing and human-milk feeding in spite of the traumatic incidences I had gone through with my first child was helped by drawing parallels to another area of my life where I had been successful at : self-directed learning and homeschooling. It was also aided by my observation of nature and learning from them – cats I’ve had and how they handled their birthing and greatly accelerated by my acquaintance with and mastery of EFT (or Tapping).

    In learning about birthing and human-milk feeding the core idea seems to be a return to our higher or innate intelligence, a return to self-confidence, a return to our innocence.

    What we can do for education, the best thing we can do for education, is not to come up with more methodologies and approaches and theories, tools or technology, bigger budgets or more “wholistic” curriculum but to simply remind people that they are and have always been Intelligent Beings.

    We need to return to our own Innocence, our ability to trust and love ourselves and be self-directed. All the answers we have ever needed, all the comfort and peace and security for a better quality of life, all is already contained within us.

    It is a challenge to return to safety when our Minds are operating in a paradigm that is outward focused and fear-based. It is a challenge to redirect the outward projections of our Mind to be inward-focused to a dimension that is based on love and wisdom, clarity and awareness.

Private Chinese Schools of Malaysia – review of Private Schools in Penang.

It must have been circa 2006 that I taught at Penang Chinese Girls’ Private High School. It was a culture shock for me. 

  • the “chinese-mind” culture – arbitrary standards, rules and systems. Things seldom, if ever, go by merit. Things go by how popular you are and where you stand on the popular camp. Yes, rules can be bent if you are on the right side of the fence. 
  • No contracts given to teachers and very, very low requirements to hire someone as a teacher. 
  • Hiring process of teachers is as bad or worse than Kebangsaan schools. Do not expect qualified or mentally competent teachers. 
  • the “communist culture” – everyone is treated as a number, not an individual human being. You only  matter if you produce results, not because you are a unique human being. 
  • no innovation. In fact, innovation is not allowed. They are pretty bent on living in the past. 
  • If any innovation or “new ideas” are considered they’re always a few steps behind. 
  • Things are a lot more glossier on the outside. You get disciplinary action for saying anything bad about – just think North Korea.

Here are my Top 5 takeaways from my experience of teaching in a private Chinese school in Malaysia : 

  • They expand more time and energy trying to control others or each other or point out mistakes rather than being productive. This covers all aspects from time consuming (time wasting) activities, classroom practices and “homework”. 
  • They seldom walk their talk and are very incongruent between what they propagate and their beliefs. A harsh term would be “unconscious hypocrites”. For instance, they can preach “loving kindness” and “co-operation” but in reality they behave in ways that are cruel to a person’s developing psyche and model of the world and encourage cruel competition and selfishness. 
  • The students are usually a lot smarter than all the teachers combined and thus the concerted need to dumb them down with ridiculous rules. (like getting prefects to buy bras on weekends so they can do a strip search the next week and find “patterned” bras.) – think Nazi concentration camp minus executions. 
  • They pay attention almost exclusively to the “top students” and cream these students. Because of the small population of students the same students get roped in again and again for duties, responsibilities and competitions. 
  • The UEC examination really deserves to be flushed down the drain. I walked away with a new respect for our Education Ministry and how they can tolerate this nonsense called the Chinese Private Education System. The standards are abysmal and they cannot possibly produce anything refined. They may, however, succeed in not destroying the most emotionally intelligent characters who are usually in the “back class”. 

There are two groups of parents who send their children to private Chinese education schools in Malaysia : 

  1. The political extremist who would do ANYTHING to undermine the sovereignty of our government. These are usually educated, middle-class parents. 
  2. The working class / borderline poor who want to keep their kids in school for as long as possible knowing their kids would kick their way out of a Malay kebangsaan school where their primary Chinese education would make them feel like aliens. 

Overall, I think private Chinese school systems do more harm than good and take away  more than they contribute to Malaysia going forward. However, I am also glad they are around because they demonstrate how liberal and open-minded our BN-led government has been in spite of all the flak the MOE and BN-led government is getting over their “failures” in designing a cohesive, progressive education system. If someone else (say, me) took over the entire Chinese private school vehicle Malaysia would definitely achieve Vision 2020. But that’s never going to happen because I have zero love for Communism. Bear in mind that the history and roots of the DuZhong were to separate themselves from the nation and “brainwash” their own community enough to bring a return to communism or Chinese supremacy. Education is indoctrination. And they never forgot their main objective of creating separation. All their PR about unity? Total bullshit. You have to be in there as an observer and being non-partisan to know the place is crawling with communists. 

But hey, if you have nothing against Communism and you’re fine with your child being treated like a number then I suppose their ideology won’t really affect you to the degree it irks me. 

5 Reasons Why Would Middle-Class / Educated Parents Send Their Children to A Private Chinese School.

  1. They can’t afford international or real private schools. They think all private schools were made equal. They think if DuZhong schools admitted a few Thai, PRC and African students, it’s the equivalent of an international school. NOT.
  2. Even if they could afford real private schools or send their children to Singapore or elsewhere they are concerned about their child’s discipline and moral character if they mingled with “rich, spoiled, kids” or were too far away from the parents. 
  3. They bought the belief that UEC is superior to SPM. This must be one of the things that make me laugh hardest. It’s like saying infant formula is superior to breastfeeeding. Look, it’s true that not everyone can handle the lifestyle to breastfeed or have value systems that would encourage them to breasfteed. And I’m using this as an analogy because this post was written at the request of a breastfeeding mom. SPM is not for EVERYONE – especially those who can afford to do better than that and who have a lot more options in life i.e. who have different lifestyle options in life than going to a local U or get a government job. 

    But to compare UEC to SPM is like comparing infant formula to breastmilk. Sure, a lot more things go into UEC but none of them is actually better for an intelligent, young person’s mind. If anything, UEC makes you dumber because it’s more rote, more memorizing, more of the same drill that goes into communist-style learning. The Math and Science standards are higher but compared to what, SPM? Try comparing it apple to apple, say A-levels. Try Khan Academy and external exams instead of relying on UEC if you’re serious about getting graded on Math and Science. 

  4. They think the discipline in these schools are better. *chokes*. I don’t believe in humiliating and degrading human beings to the level they submit. In fact, I don’t even believe it’s the duty of a school or any teacher to discipline my child. My child goes to school for an empowering experience not to have another adult tell her who she is and what values and opinions she’s allowed to have. Hey, but that’s me – I’m not a communist, see? As my firstborn turns 16 in January I am becoming more and more aware that external discipline is a cruelty and violence towards another human being. I am a result of my conditioning and I have been guilty of trying to “discipline” my daughter and I regret every moment I was being that way. I was running on autopilot. 

    While I was teaching in that school I showed my students a movie, “The Emperor’s Club”. There was a scene where a Senator went against the school saying it’s not the school’s job to discipline his son. The moral of the story was fast forward many years later this son of a Senator becomes a Senator himself but had questionable morals and that’s what happens when you don’t let school teachers instill moral character. 

    I lean more towards Roald Dahl’s sentiments as expressed in BOY. I do not believe, that as a teacher, (and I still am, as a Life Coach and Business Coach) I have any right to judge anyone’s character when they are under my teaching. My job is to illuminate their minds. What they choose to do with their knowledge is up to them. Many teachers have taught talented students that have become deviants or antagonists. I believe in free-will and choice. And I believe that as teachers we cannot and must not discriminate when it comes to knowledge – even when our students use that knowledge against us or to defeat us. 

    Teachers are servants of our students. We serve. We are not their masters or their superiors or an authority, judge and jury over them. I serve and I get paid. I’m a social-preneur. 

  5. They’ve weighed the cons of a private Chinese school and think that additional mastery of the Chinese language by being immersed in that environment is more advantageous than mastery in Bahasa Malaysia or English. This is especially true when one of the parents is Taiwanese or PRC or if Chinese is their mother tongue and they have no intentions of their child spending their entire lives making a living in Malaysia alone. 

Roundup :

Here are the factors we usually take into consideration. Sorry that I’m not taking the time to make this into a table of comparison. I’m rating them from my own personal experience only of interacting with other teachers and feedback from students while I was still teaching. The ratings are 1 (bad) to 10 (good). I am using my alma mater (CLS) as an arbitrary control averaging 5 on every factor. 

Quality of Teachers and school administration

Phor Tay : 1 out of 10. 

Chung Ling : 1.5 out of 10. 

Binhua : 3 out of 10. 

Han Chiang : 6 out of 10.

Quality of facilities and extra-curricular activities :

Phor Tay : 1 out of 10. 

Chung Ling : 1.5 out of 10. 

Binhua : 3 out of 10. 

Han Chiang : 8 out of 10.

Quality of classroom teaching, methods, materials, curriculum, overall academic standards : 

Phor Tay : 1 out of 10. 

Chung Ling : 1.5 out of 10. 

Binhua : 3 out of 10. 

Han Chiang : 7.5 out of 10.

 Quality of student mix and social experience : 

Phor Tay : 5 out of 10. 

Chung Ling : 5 out of 10. 

Binhua : 3 out of 10. 

Han Chiang : 8 out of 10.

Stress level and additional after-school workload : (reverse ranking : 10 = high stress, 1 = good, low stress) 

Phor Tay : 2 out of 10. 

Chung Ling : 5 out of 10. 

Binhua : 9 out of 10. 

Han Chiang : 6 out of 10.

Conclusion : 

It might seem as if I am more biased towards Han Chiang and I have been for many years. I have neither personal reasons for or against it. On merit alone this is probably the ONLY PRIVATE CHINESE SCHOOL NORTH OF MALAYSIA that functions like one with a purely scholastic agenda Thanks to their board of directors, Han Chiang as an entire entity (primary, private secondary, college) is a good choice for people with few alternatives in education. They run their school like a school. They pay their teachers better. They have a functioning ESL department and they generally hire competent teachers. I have managed to convince one of my former ESL students to not move to Singapore and instead enrol for Han Chiang’s O-level stream. 

Han Chiang holds true to a culture and environment for learning and offering academic support and opportunities to the Chinese community. I cannot say this is also the agenda of other private Chinese schools north of Malaysia……..maybe, perhaps, the whole of West and East Malaysia combined. Perhaps it is due to the history of a relatively higher population of Thai, Indonesian and students of other nationality that contributed to the adulteration of the communist agenda and instead on the focus of a genuine Mother Tongue Chinese education agenda. 

I welcome any questions you have about enrolling your children in a private Chinese high school so do leave your comments below. I’ll leave you with this last but very important part though : 

What I say here is true for me and is  based only on my experience and the way I see things. Depending on your own mix of values and your child’s mix of expectations and personality things might turn out differently for you (and your child). I’ve met foreign parents who preferred Binhua and Chung Ling because of a lower foreign-student population. I’ve met parents who avoid Han Chiang because of the high foreign student mix. They consider this as a factor making the Chinese-mother tongue environment “inferior” because they stream students according to their Chinese-language ability.  

Ask yourself why a private Chinese school rather than a kebangsaan school. Being weak in our national language is NOT a good or valid reason at all. Unless you get into the O-level stream, a UEC is pretty useless, or is as good as never having gone to school at all. Sure they tell you that in Taiwan it is recognized. But let’s see if one is treated as an equal on a Taiwan campus or as a Chinese-speaking pariah. The only valid reason I can think of for going to a private Chinese school like Han Chiang is the same reasons affluent Thai and Indonesian parents send their children here : to be immersed in the environment and pick up the language and darn if the results are bad. 

If you’re a homeschooling “wannabe” seriously question your motives about compromising between a kebangsaan school and then “settling” for a private Chinese school. On any given day as a bonafide unschooling parent I’d say, go to a kebangsaan school. A kebangsaan school in Penang has a better chance of providing a healthier overall academic experience than a private Chinese school no matter how bad it is. If it’s bullying and such, change kebangsaan schools. If you’re going to suffer schooling anyway might as well suffer in one that has some form of legitimacy. I find the character of kebangsaan secondary school students more balanced compared to DuZhong students. 

I totally get what the problems are with our kebangsaan school system. I wrote this entire blog over a course of years focusing on little else than the problems we have with our school systems – here in Malaysia and elsewhere. If anyone knows so well what’s wrong with school systems, I’m one of them. But now we’re talking “if homeschooling is not an option for me, what are my options?”

Homeschooling or private schooling doesn’t offer “better options” for the future until you become the kind of person that can lead that change from home. Once you are it doesn’t really matter what school your child is in. 

I had wanted to send FirstBorn to Han Chiang for the sake of immersion. First Born needs to sleep – a lot. And we would’ve gone if she were allowed to fall asleep at her desk – which you aren’t in Han Chiang. And the hours are too long for First Born to survive it. Han Chiang didn’t match our internal climate. And as people who live by Design we can’t screw ourselves over just to get on the assembly line. Neither do we want to fight a battle that isn’t necessary with any systems out there.

FirstBorn intends to take the SPM as a private candidate. I leave it up to her because one of the things I teach is being self-directed and self-driven. I tell her : “Have clarity on what you want, why you want it, and do what it takes to own the results in your life. If it’s important enough to you you’ll do it. If it’s not, then at least you’ll know you won’t be spending your energy on something you don’t really want.” She’s mature enough to handle that though many parents would disagree because according to them, “At that age I didn’t know what I wanted and I’m glad my parents pushed me.” – But here’s the thing : different strokes for different folks. That’s the core tenet of homeschooling. 

Whatever decision you make just trust that it’s going to be right for you and when you discover it’s not – just do a retake. Life is just a dress rehearsal. 

Alternative Schooling Without Regrets And The Future of Education.

It’s been a very long time since I blogged anywhere on the cybersphere, especially on learning and education and for three main reasons :

– the letter “e” on my laptop keyboard fell off. To type efficiently I have to plug in my USB keyboard. Don’t love to. And my wifi-connection keeps turning off and I’ve done whatever remedy was out there on the web to no avail.

– I’d rather err on the side of not repeating myself. Some blogs and newsletters are just so repetitive and people blog for the sake of frequency and “SEO” and not the value they provide. I think I’ve said pretty much everything I think about the future of education, language learning and my unschooling experience.

– I’ve been consuming content on my very nice smart phone (HTC One) rather than create content on my laptop.

So, what’s changed?

After 16 years I’m having another baby! My firstborn is already 16 and has been looking forward to a baby for at least the last ten years. I told her that they don’t sell men in supermarkets that I can just buy off the shelf and make a baby with. Also, at 38, and with some limiting beliefs, such as not being sure if I wanted to give up my freedom and lifestyle to have another tyke again and build the next several years of life with the father of the baby, it did cause a block to my fertility.

And having #2 in 2014 got me thinking whether I’d do the exact same thing I’ve been doing from 1998 to 2014 and the answer was a simple. “No”. I’m a different person, the child is a different person from his/her older sister and he/she might be someone who thrives in a school environment.

The father of this baby, in terms of our general views in life, is the total opposite of me. He doesn’t really get what unschooling is. He thinks my firstborn should be in school. He also thinks I’m depriving her by not having a TV in the home. He has a son from another relationship and he wants his son to go to an international school. Or Chinese school. One advantage of not being legally married is he doesn’t have veto powers when the time comes to making major decisions in a child’s life – like, the choice of education.

What have I learned about unschooling now that my daughter is 16 and it’s just one more year before she’s officially “off school” and headed into life?

  1. There is no wrong or right.I know this is such a cliche but it takes a lot of inner-knowing to be able to make your decision from a place of love and confidence rather than fear. A lot of parents are looking into homeschooling or unschooling because they’re worried that our school systems are not going to be able to prepare our children for the future – which, a lot of people still don’t know what it looks like.The only way to homeschool or unschool without regret is to truly know and understand your purpose. Think of it like starting a new business. If you started a business because you want to serve your value and your brand with a purpose and you know exactly what and who it’s for and how to manage it profitably while giving you the lifestyle you want then go for it. But if you’re starting a business because you hate your job and you just want to do something else for money and profit and no other purpose you’re going to be bringing the same fears and limitations into running your new business.
  2. Structure, methods, curriculum, exams– it’s really up to you. What is your end in mind?For me personally, my SPM and college education did nothing for me. I dropped out of college when a few of my lecturers told me I’m wasting my time because I was already ahead of what they were going to teach me. In starting my new passion for profit business recently blending business knowledge and internet as the medium (profit brand and internet marketing consulting) I realized I really was ahead of the curve from what things were like in the late 90s and early 2000s.Whether it’s right or wrong most of us are going to project what our experiences has been like for us to our children. We think, “If this happened to me, I don’t want it to happen to my kids. If only I had known this – so I’m going to do this for my kid now.”But here’s the thing : either way you’re right. The economy of the next 50 years is going to be shaped by a mix of both technology and labor resources. Kids and grand-kids of hippies are going to make Green Tech an area of economy on its own. Knowledge-savvy, highly literate kids will manage and create content. People who are good with their hands are going to continue to make things. People who are good with design, with concepts and visualizations, with measuring and precision,  with art, with music……….as long as one has passion and purpose and has a sense of how value creation and money works our children will come together and create a synergy of their own. More of this in Point 6.
  3. Your decision does shape the choices your child has in life.- And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.My firstborn is very concerned that no one is going to hire her for a low end job without an SPM. But that’s because she has impossible standards for herself. And all teenagers are fraught with insecurities about themselves. I saw an opening  to work at a Subway sandwich shop opening near our place and told her to try and apply for it. She thinks she won’t get hired without SPM. And I was thinking in my head the Bangladeshi guy that served me the other day could barely understand what I was saying and I doubt he had SPM either. I suppose if I were a Subway outlet owner I’d like to save on the levy paid to a foreign worker if a young Malaysian with great working ethics, who loves my sandwiches and is looking for pocket change would be willing to try for a job – and work her way to store manager, even!I don’t know about most people but as a business-minded person I really couldn’t care less about high school diplomas and degrees if the job I require to get done is based strictly on performance and service and does not require years and years of specialized knowledge and competency – like say, an urban planner or brain surgeon.

    There is one thing written in the stars that is very clear in my firstborn – she is into money. A lot into money. And she is into how to manage property and their designs and functions to generate greater economic value. Running a franchise one day or a restaurant or food service center fits into that paradigm, among other things. She has an eye for design and marketing. And she NEVER breaks rules,takes them a bit too seriously and follows instructions very well. She errs on the side of not making mistakes. I err on the side of, “Let’s see what this button does or what happens if I do it differently.” She’d make a great employee and a pain in the ass boss. (And yes, I make a hopeless employee and a fantastic boss.) For $5 an hour I really think she’s a steal for any employer out there.

    After all these years I’ve come to my own conclusion that the only thing a child really needs is a sense of belonging, family (love), purpose and joy. The rest concerning life are just details that will work itself out. A child needs to feel they were born to be loved, not born to be compared, pitted against others or used for any other reason.Money is a learnable skill. How to make a living is not something that should float like a cloud above our head. Having learned money I can say that it has been one of the EASIEST aspects of life. What has been difficult for me was to find my reason for having more money in my life. Whatever our decisions are around our children’s future we should NEVER FACTOR IN how they’re going to thrive financially.

  4. Some doors open and other doors close – making decisions become easier.The decisions I’ve made pretty much closes the door for my child to become an academic. A PhD friend of mine lamented my anti-hyper-intellectual stand by saying, “If I had a mom like you I would never be who I am today” and in my heart I went, “Thank God!”

    I have a daughter. And a pretty cute one. I really wouldn’t want her fraternizing on a campus until she’s retirement age, dating undergraduates and graduate students. No offence to people who chose this as a lifestyle, it’s just that I don’t believe in the campus environment myself. I believe in profit and business and driving the economy. I believe in family and the hearth and babies and children. I want my daughter to run a business (or several) that she is passionate about and awaken the slave-driver in her. She has a bossy character (and I deny she gets it from me) and is a perfectionist and she loves money. You can’t teach in a university for the love of money! (I know lots of people do it anyway.) I want grandchildren. I want to see her married and to enjoy having a man – or woman. (You just don’t know these days.)

    The last thing on our minds, when we think about the choices we’d be offering our children in life with the education we give them, is Money. Money is as simple as being able to offer or create something of value and to exchange it. And then you manage and grow money to have more. It should be the least of our concerns.

    Whatever choices you make about your lifestyle and the things you expose your child to right now, all the conscious and unconscious beliefs they will pick up, will shape how they see themselves and the value they can offer to the world. If you travel around the world a lot your child might grow up to choose a form of work that requires a lot of travelling OR do the total opposite – depending on what your relationship was like.

    Since your decision about your lifestyle and what you wish to input and expose your child to eventually affects their choices and options in life play on their innate strengths and interests. It’s understandable that we all want our children to do well in life.

    Our children will do well in life based on only 3 things : Drive, Desire, Passion. A child who is not weighed down by a sense of disconnect, isolation, purposelessness (the causes will require an entirely new post but I believe parents are wise enough to already know what causes a lack of drive in people) will automatically be driven towards goals for their total well-being, including, financial. Behind this drive is Desire. And Desire comes from Beliefs of what they are capable of achieving. And this comes from their exposure, both conscious and unconscious, that shape their paradigm. Passion comes from being in alignment with what’s innate in them and what their purpose is in the world.

    I know all too well people who have a lot of passion but no profitable living. The only reason that is so is because they have the belief that you can’t make money doing “certain kinds of things”. And in a dilemma to choose either or, they choose either or. They choose passion and they justify why they can’t or are not allowed to make money in what they choose to do.

  5. Every child and every family is different. – again, a cliche.- There is ancestral knowledge, family patterns and a host of unique circumstances that make each family different. If a family is unsupportive, unloving, dysfunctional, parents are always fighting, there is disharmony and discord then forget about a better future because your present creates the future. Homeschooling and unschooling works almost exclusively for high-functioning families. That is why there is this perception that one has to be “rich” to be able to afford homeschooling. I agree.”Rich” in mindset and quality of life! There are many children who drop out of schooling systems only to have their farming continued at homeschooling “centers” that follow a syllabus. For-profit homeschooling centers is just another alternative to mainstream “tuition” classes. The whole purpose of homeschooling and unschooling is to extend the values of a family. Values such as harmony, communication, co-operation, support, love, understanding, etc.No family is perfect. Homeschooling families have their challenges with their children too. But some families are simply more functional, conscious and aware than others. If your family has the space, the means and the beliefs to extend your value system into the learning and growing experiences of your child then whatever mix of styles would work out just fine. But if your homeschooling and unschooling is driven primarily by fear and a sense of inadequacy your child would be better off not being an extension of your neuroses, insecurities and dysfunction.
  6. Whatever you decide it’s a selfish decision anyway.- Every single parent I have met, including myself, is selfish. We project our deepest, current needs unto our children. We love them and they are an extension of us and we carelessly try to mould them into us for better or for worse. We want them to have all the things we didn’t, all the things our parents couldn’t give to us, to have the experiences we wished we had when we were their age.In a way, any decision we make to homeschool or unschool is “wrong” because it’s coming from us trying to right a wrong done to us. It’s us trying to complete ourselves through our children. And that’s wrong at some level but necessary as part of our soul’s journey. Some of us dropped out of “promising careers” when we realized that the quality and purpose of life does not come from participating in the rat race and see no point in pushing our kids to get a professional “job”. Having a doctor, lawyer, accountant or engineer in the family is so ten years ago.As high functioning individuals that make decisions mostly from a place of confidence and purpose rather than fear and worry making a selfish decision to want our children to be more of what we are (high functioning and balanced) and less of what the industrial system is, is probably a superior choice.
  7. The Future Economy looks good to me.- After spending over a decade studying real-life economics, international money systems, trends, streets-smart business and immersing myself in technology and education I must say the prognosis is good for the future.The “Economy” boils down to really just 3 things :
  • Are you a producer or a consumer?
  • Do you understand how to create and distribute your value, transact and negotiate it?
  • Can you manage money and do you have clarity and awareness about how things work?

The problem with most people in our world is they build their whole lives around money that is built around being a consumer of a job than a creator of a job. They exchange higher order thinking and creativity for simple rote and routine chain-of-command tasks. And that’s the result of Industrial Schooling teaching them to take orders and follow a schedule. Most people are just dull in the head and stunted emotionally which causes the myopia, scarcity mindset and confused mind lacking clarity and awareness of How Things & Systems Work.

I see a movement where a lot of people are thinking about starting their own business, online or offline, and are eager to invest in learning new skills and new ways of thinking. I see more and more people believing in the idea of effortlessness and spirituality versus hard work and toil. I see a lot of people taking courses on business, investment and money and wanting to take control of their own lives.

And all this is good for the future economy. You know why? Coz when you have more people willing to be prosumers (produce and consume at the same time at a higher, more balanced level), more people willing to manage their money so they can lend to individuals and business as managed investments instead of using big banks as agents to invest (save money in a bank) and borrow from and more individuals becoming aware of how the value-chain works they are going to be more savvy in packaging and delivering their skill-sets and this will create an exponential and unprecedented market for the exchange of skills and knowledge – renewable, inexhaustible, resources that are self-sustaining.

Would I take a different direction in education?

The good thing about having done it at least ONCE is I’m really not as worried going into it the second time. Or third. Or fourth. Not worried at all. There’s no longer the stress about what early childhood method to choose, to start reading early or not, to send to enrichment classes or not, which school to enrol in, what efforts to direct my child’s energy towards, logistics about school and tuition and costs and – oh yes, and concerns about socialization!

Whatever my child wants that is right for him / her, the Universe will provide and all will be well. I trust myself that I have a great balance between flow and direction, purpose and faith, goals and methodology.

Some people are going to project their fears and inadequacies unto me the way I used to on my child. We want an IB education, we want a Green School, we want this and that to “prepare our kids for the future” – as if the future is a war coming upon us. But what if the future is not static and not something we prepare for but something our children are allowed to create without projections and interference by us?

I’m a lot calmer, more purposeful and less result-oriented when it comes to this second child. Don’t we all get mellow as we age? I suppose that’s the benefit of having “older parents” – they are a lot less neurotic and have fewer expectations.

Scammed : What’s the Lesson Here.

I was walking out of KBJ this afternoon when an Indonesian man flashed me a Galaxy S3 which I later realized was a fake “dummy” China  phone.

The cost : RM120 AND…I know, laugh, my Rayban shades! A thief begets a thief.

The lesson :

The first thing that came up from my subconscious mind was this : “My phones have gotten stolen more times than I can remember and it’s just the circle of life that when mine get stolen they ended up with someone else and here we have someone else’s stolen stuff and I’m just getting on the carousel.”

As I settled down to ask for the lesson I acknowledged the fact that I have buried resentment towards the fact that a majority of people are not decent and honest and kind. I have an unconscious resentment towards all the times I have acted decently, honestly and kindly towards others but have been set up, framed, stolen from, manipulated and betrayed. I wanted to start believing in “if you can’t beat them, join them.”

I need to heal from the resentment that I have not been rewarded in life for always sticking to doing what is right, what is fair, what is just and what is decent. I need to heal from the resentment that others keep taking from me and I don’t seem to be particularly materially as successful as I had hoped to be.

It’s not fair that what is mine is not forthcoming. But at the same time I realize what I would be doing : supporting the criminal act by being that part of the market that would create demand for contraband / stolen items. A part of me judged myself but another part of me justified the fact that I cannot make a difference to a world that has been turning even before I was born. Being “moral” has not gotten me very far in life, I told myself. These days I preferred to be morally ambiguous because it makes me less judgmental both towards myself and others.

Of course I was over-thinking the whole thing but that was what showed up for me – that was the Shadow that surfaced for healing. I need to heal from the resentment that I have not been rewarded in life for always sticking to doing what is right, what is fair, what is just and what is decent. I need to heal from the resentment that others keep taking from me and I don’t seem to be particularly materially as successful as I had hoped to be.

Now that this resentment, this wound, has been brought up to my consciousness, I can see that there is actually no correlation between being decent, honest and just and being materially rewarded in life. It was an unconscious belief that I had held that “you can’t get ahead being soft, being giving, being willing to serve others,  being willing to submit.” That belief has caused me to justify criminal intentions and be willing to sacrifice my ethics and principles under the influence of Greed.

I know it’s just a cheap China phone and I shouldn’t be over-thinking this but I can’t help being interested in the natural unfolding of my own cognitive processes. Imagine if I can begin my journey with a single step, being a willing participant in the idea of creating demand for stolen items, supporting thievery, (the phone wasn’t stolen but the scam is set up in such a way to trick people to think it’s stolen) I fear that my first step in that direction may not be my last.

I had just discussed about ethics and integrity and here I am willing to sell piece meals of my  integrity, erode its quality,  for less than a song. I am no better and no worse than the people I accuse of being unethical, actually.

The reason I do not have more material rewards in life can be more directly attributed to reasons such as me not being grateful for what I have, me having clutter in my life, me not valuing myself enough to give myself the best, me not having enough focus, clarity and drive to go for material pursuits and especially me having limiting beliefs that pursuing a material life makes life less ‘spiritual and meaningful’.

I see that now.

Another major lesson that came up for me was about “Shame”. I realized how ashamed I was to admit to anyone else how I got scammed. I was ashamed and I realize that “shame” comes from an inability to let go, to forgive ourselves, to accept ourselves in spite of our ignorance and mistakes.

I’ve written an article on scamming before and in this one I’d like to add two trinities that make up the spectrum of a scam. Scams can only happen because of

  • Greed
  • Fear of loss
  • Guilt

and the longevity and staying power of scam hinges on the fact that 99.9% of us carry with us elements of shame, unforgiveness and resentment in our energetic field.

Fear of Loss

The Fear of Loss encapsulates how our over-attachment to our illusions of the world we exist shows up in scams that are designed around them. Fear of loss of a loved one, fear of loss of saved money or investments, fear of loss of better opportunities for tomorrow, fear of loss of life, possessions, status, beauty, etc. Almost all fears can be extended from this “fear of loss” of something we give too much meaning, attachment, permanence and significance to.

Greed is self-explanatory. We want something for nothing or something for next to nothing.

Guilt is the final one that works us in; guilt of not helping someone, guilt of letting others suffer unnecessarily, guilty of having it better than others.

Guilt is so closely tied to the first of the next triad : Shame.

We live so much in shame, don’t we? We feel shameful about extolling our own virtues and we justify that as “humility”. We bastardize the meaning of “being humble” when instead what we are doing is to diminish ourselves and hide deeper within our shadows. “Being humble”, truly, is not about diminishing ourselves, shrinking, making ourselves smaller so others don’t feel so small about themselves. “Being humble” is not about cutting ourselves down in size so that we don’t cast a bigger shadow over others who still live in their own shadows.

The true meaning of humility is to grow ourselves bigger, stronger, more capable, and then to be willing to step into our full light and help others grow bigger and come into our Light once we are in a position of strength and power. In order to grow ourselves we need to value ourselves more, acknowledge and appreciate our own virtues more and be willing to grow and peel past our shadows. We need to be shameless. But being both humble (in my sense of the word) and being shameless is too hard in our world that is built on the  OS of shame, guilt, fear.  We’d rather diminish ourselves and continue to live in shame, being shameful, and justify playing small as keeping us virtuous and “closer to God and morality.”

I felt so ashamed to be admitting the fact that I entertained the criminal intention of purchasing a stolen item, partaking in the crime by being the channel for which thieves dispose of the item. I feel ashamed yet again that it is that exact thought of intending to willingly participate in thievery that set me up to walk into a scam. (The phone was not a stolen phone but the premise was set up that way to make the willing participants like myself walk myself into their format.)

I feel so ashamed that as a Business Coach teaching people how to do real-life business and how to be savvy when investing in businesses I got conned in broad daylight from someone who obviously, by choice of profession, had less formal education than I did. I felt stupid, ignorant, humiliated. I can teach people how to notice a bogus business or presentation but outside the box of a corporate or white collar environment I really don’t know much about “the real world”. I am naive and yet I think I am smart.

I suppose I am smart in a different playing field. But in the playing field with really hungry people willing to do anything I am out-smarted, out maneuvered, out done.

And I feel so ashamed of that. How can I teach people not to lose money in business and investments when I lost money in the streets to a smart, hungry, con man? I don’t have the same level of hunger, drive, determination and format that the street hustler has. I know nothing, really, and that makes me feel like a fake.

Yes, I’m being too hard on myself. There is a market for me after all – clients who are “dumber”, more giving, more naive, less savvy and more “liberal with money” than I am. I don’t pretend that I am the ideal coach for everyone – I am just truly fortunate that I am laser-focused on who my ideal clients are like and I attract them to me. I know who my clients are, what they’ve been through or are passing through and how to get to the next level of play because I am but a slight notch better than them in those areas I am coaching them in, a few knocks more into the game of life than they are. I am definitely not “The Main Deal” when it comes to Life and Business Coaching.

I feel equally ashamed about my criminal intent as I am about getting outdone in street hustling. I feel ashamed that I have greed, resentment and all those others things lurking in my shadow.

But this incident gave me an opportunity to face my Shadows and learn from it. It gave me an opportunity to forgive myself for resenting those who took from me and made me a “victim”. It gave me an opportunity to decouple an unconscious belief I held that one cannot be both decent and honest AND be deserving of being lucratively rewarded in the material plane.

Most of all it gave me an opportunity to deeply and completely love and approve of myself in spite of the fact that my Shadows and my spiritual frailness as a human being keep showing up in my life.

My shame has weakened me so much that I feel afraid to be judged by people reading this – judged for my foolishness, my ignorance, my criminal intention and a slew of other things. I feel as if no one else is more shameful and more criminal and more unethical than I am. I judge myself so harshly right now and am ashamed that people will see how harshly I judge myself in spite of my advocacy of “When we view the world with judgement we see only mistakes, when we view the world with compassion we see only lessons.”

Do I necessarily walk my talk? It’s very obvious here, not all the time. Am I then good enough to charge for what I do as a Life and Business Coach?

My only redeeming virtue here is my willingness to admit I am wrong, I am flawed, I am weak, I am imperfect and I am courageous enough to bare myself to be crucified. I think that will always remain as my one redeeming factor : that I am willing to be crucified either for the truth of my beliefs or for the confessions of my mistaken beliefs that I once defended as true.

And I am hoping that this confession redeems me somewhat. But the real work begins when i can truly forgive myself and just let it go.

Apa Cina Mahu – part 2.

The vote counting is over. Time to count our blessings. There’s no genocides, no street violence. Apa lagi Anwar Ibrahim mau?

I have lost all faith in Pakatan Rakyat after knowing about the 100,000 strong crowd at Kelana Jaya. Is that a sign of “respecting the democratic process”? They cannot even see themselves for who they are even if a mirror was held up to them.

Do I sympathize with the sense of defeat and loss Pakatan Rakyat is reeling from? Yes, but why do they have to take it so personally.

Everyone is so focused on BN cheating but no one is focused on the fact that Pakatan Rakyat is not well organized and plays “not to lose” whereas BN has experience and strategy and a PLAY TO WIN attitude.

In the midst of all this blaming and accusations running wild I see a few sparks from mainstream media :

The Barisan Nasional has proven that it is a faithful friend to members of its coalition. In my earlier post “Apa Cina Mau” I played the Devil’s Advocate to ask BN to axe MCA out. The premise of that came from a conversation I had with a taxi driver UMNO supporter who picked me up from the Sungai Nibong bus station when I got back to Penang.

He had asked me (and this was the night before the Utusan Malaysia article), “Kenapa Cina tak suka MCA?” The tone of his voice made me realize that UMNO is a much more faithful friend to MCA than PRK will ever be, based on current sentiments, to DAP or even PKR to PAS. Rather than BLAME MCA for losing so much support and costing BN seats UMNO wondered how to salvage the credibility of its friend and save it from becoming obsolete.

I am actually rather surprised that UMNO-supporters view MCA favorably. If they view MCA favorably and they know that MCA is there as the voice of the Chinese then is it possible that they can also simultaneously be racists against the Chinese at the same time?

This question sat and percolated in my mind for one night until I saw the APA CINA MAU headlines the following day (and the uproar that ensued). I wrote my “Apa Cina Mau” post on Tuesday to see what would resonate with UMNO supporters who would look it up.

By Wednesday I saw this statement by Barisan Nasional secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor  :

“Tengku Adnan said that MCA is dismayed over the poor results in the recent general election and it could still be reeling from it.

He said this was what made the MCA leadership to reaffirm its earlier decision that it would not take up any offers to hold government posts.

“Perhaps they feel rejected because from the results it looked like the Chinese voter base has shifted their support to DAP.

“Honestly, MCA is a party with a structure and it has fought long and hard for the ethnic community.

What a faithful friend, I thought to myself. There I was on Monday night trying to instigate the UMNO taxi driver and saw that what I said did not trigger any sense of blame from him towards MCA. On Tuesday I wrote my “Apa Cina Mau” and though it ended up on the bottom of the first page on Google search for those words it elicited no negative reactions. On Wednesday I see UMNO coming out in the news to proclaim the loyalty to have MCA’s back.

I believe the affection is mutual. All this while MCA must have had UMNO’s back to deserve this mutual affection. In fact I think UMNO realizes that MCA has stood by UMNO at the expense of its party losing credibility and relevance to the Chinese community. MCA might suffer a sudden demise and see the end of its political legacy because of how it stuck its own neck out to defend UMNO and the BN coalition.

I was discussing with friends on Monday night about why I said what I said on my facebook that BN deserved to win. I related it back to the principles we are learning about business and life so that they are able to detach themselves from mass emotions and focus on lessons we can learn. In the end when I broke down the theories and details they saw what I saw that BN simply had a better strategy and a better strategy is only possible because of trust and mutual co-operation, something Pakatan Rakyat, their supporters themselves admit from time to time, sorely lacks.

Taking it to the streets and stadiums simply because one did not have a better strategy is simply not democratic. Taking it to the streets, to me, is an adopted culture. We are not Filipinos and we are not Westerners. We are Malaysians.

As I am writing this my comments I’m getting on my facebook posts are saying that black t-shirts have a right to vent their frustrations. I suppose to a certain extent I agree with it but I am concerned that grassroots UMNO and BN supporters who have yet to cool down themselves will see the Pakatan supporters as “kurang ajar”. Humans, being humans, a lot of things will be said and done in moments of anger and frustration that in time we all will regret how we let emotions over-rule us and upset our sense of balance.  Ever been in a fight with your spouse / boyfriend / girlfriend? You know what I mean.

Rather than vent and throw tantrums and be frustrated can we take this all sitting down like mature people? Just accept that we played the game the best we could and we have lessons to learn from it. Losing is not personal. It’s a process. It’s a time for reflection.

When emotions over-rule logic Ego takes over. The need to be right will over-ride the need to be compassionate. The UMNO-led BN has admitted in mainstream media that all awhile they have been focused on the rural areas and now it’s time to understand the sentiments of the urban and the young up and coming who grew up in a world of niches and demassification of society ; meaning they  as a generation reject anything mass per se.

So let’s work towards that. Personally, I don’t really care if an UMNO-led coalition stays in power for the next 500 years. But psychologically I care about the fact that “a body at rest will tend to stay at rest” and stagnation stumps all forms of growth and expansion.

I want change not because I take all BN’s silliness personally but I want change simply because things need to change. I don’t even believe that heterosexual monogamy works for more than 20% of people out there and 80% of people need “change” in their relationships as they develop and grow as individuals. I don’t even believe that one religion works for everyone and that a person can change from one perspective of religion to another without making the religion they grew up in wrong for everyone else. I don’t even believe that one should only stick to one’s mother tongue and not “change” as social and economic patterns change.

I worry about people who want change because they hate what they have. I want change because I love what I have always had and I am ready to expand and experience more.

If I have to make my final stand clear to everyone it is that I have a lot of respect for what DAP and Lim Guan Eng has achieved and done for Penang. I also have a lot of respect for UMNO for having the backs of their coalition members and understanding what rural people want. I believe, MCA, like Gerakan, has ceased to be relevant to the Chinese community.

I do not think the Chinese are essentially racist – they are simply more HUNGRY, more educated, more progressive, more competitive and their common denominator is that they want to ensure a future of vibrant social and economic reciprocity for their children in this country.

But the Chinese have alienated themselves, no thanks to Dong Zong, by not being able to speak Malay well and that gives them an imagined sense of alienation and a real sense of discrimination.

Everything in extremes is bad. The Chinese being efficient ensure that they almost always don’t waste whatever little resources that they have and will manage to make something out of nothing. But they are so efficient that they find that learning Bahasa Melayu is a waste of time and resources.

If the Malays were economically more progressive or advanced in areas of new pockets of wealth and growth the Chinese, with their utilitarian values, will not have the same arguments they have now justifying their resistance towards learning Malay. The Malay language is not a difficult language to learn and because Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa truly reflects reality the resistance towards “the rural jiwa” is the premise behind the resistance towards learning Malay.

This resistance towards the language took a life of its own when the generalization of the resistance transcended culture, identity, values, religion…..I believe the actual cause of Chinese resistance, and they may not realize this themselves, is not towards anything Malays or Islam stands for. The actual resistance is towards backwardness and a lack of vision towards continued prosperity and abundance – values that drive the ethnic Chinese, conditioning and modelling that gets passed down generation after generation.


Apa Cina Mau? (What Do the Chinese community in Malaysia want now?)

We want UMNO to remain relevant to the Malays and to be the voice of the rural and working class Malays. We want, well, speak for myself :

I want UMNO to represent the voice and the rights of the Malay people who have yet to realize they are in the 21st century and that they are not a separate species from the rest of humankind.

I want UMNO to stop allowing MCA and MIC to bleed them off of seats and to axe off the MCA and MIC who have been poaching power and seats riding on the back of the strength of UMNO. Where would MCA and MIC really be if they did not piggy back on the strength of UMNO all these years?

I want UMNO to stop being so accommodating to MCA because MCA does not represent the voice of the Chinese people and are only taking UMNO for a ride by making the BN believe they have the support of the Chinese and urban community.

I cannot see MCA and Gerakan’s relevance in today’s age and time. But I do see MIC’s relevance in their particular niches. BN can support MIC in those areas through financial support and other campaigning aid when election comes around.

But there is no need for UMNO to give MIC a claim to fame on their BN platform or give MIC disproportionate claim to power in the matters of the nation’s policies. The Indian community would be better off if they identified themselves as Malaysian than they would as Indians needing “protection” from big-brother.

The idea of needing a political party to represent your ethnic voice is obsolete and damaging to our self-esteem as a nation.

Having said that MCA , like Gerakan, is totally irrelevant and that MIC is relevant only to a very limited extent I must say definitely see UMNO’s relevance and legitimate representation of certain demographics of the Malay community.

You have to be able to see the trees from the forest. BN’s strength comes from UMNO, yes, and that’s one part of the equation. But UMNO, by itself, as a political party, has a right to champion and defend its own ideologies and rhetoric, even if we don’t necessarily agree with them.

Sure, BN cheated but NOT BECAUSE it is UMNO-led or because it is a BN-coalition : BN “cheated” , or rather, with malicious intent, legally took advantage of technical loopholes, simply because, as an organism, it is willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES FOR ITS SURVIVAL.

That willingness to play to win is a form of virtue in my terms and if any organization wants to succeed it’d better be willing to have a do-or-die attitude.

I don’t think BN is as bad as people think they are. Childish tactics to win parliament is a lot better than genocide. As long as there is no economic sabotage or social disruption I think all is fair in love and war.

I know plenty of you who have colored yourself with prejudice and hatred to such an extent you cannot even fathom the rationale of what I am saying here. You will jump in your pants thinking I am so “stupid” to not blame BN and UMNO.

But that is what my training has taught me : stop projecting, do not blame, take 100% responsibility, be the change I want to see, do whatever it takes and bless that which I want.

I will end by saying I appreciate and respect UMNO’s legitimate right to represent the voice of its community even when the rest of you who are more “educated” think your intellect is superior to theirs.

I will also add that I view with full compassion the fears of a certain demographic of Malays and I urge you all to view their fears with compassion rather than judge them by your own standards of competency.

Finally, I,  formerly known as Chinese and Malaysian but now known simply as a Penangite will answer WHAT DO CINA MAU with this : Cina mau sama-sama cari makan, dapat meluangkan masa dengan keluarga, dapat hidup harmoni dan jalan-jalan cari makan / makan angin.

Personally, I want UMNO to redeem the pride of the Malays by empowering them economically. I want UMNO to provide a psychological comfort and sense of security to its little children. I want UMNO to have a solid administration and governance of their strongholds.

And I want UMNO to know it’s time to let MCA and MIC go even if it means losing the cabinet and focusing instead on the progress and development of the rural Malays.

How To Write A Book And Get Rich.

You put your left foot in, you take your left foot out,

You put your left foot in and you shake it all about. …………………blah blah……..that’s what it’s all about!

OK, now get that song out of your head! 😀

Here’s What It’s All About. 

Have you ever thought of writing your own book? This guy got kicked out of school when he was 15 and it was book-writing that got him out of poverty to making millions.

That might just work for us too since most of us either have kids already out of school or we’re seriously thinking of pulling them out. What would it mean to them if their mom/dad got a book published and became an authority on some niche? Would make them proud, I think!

In my capacity now as a Life and Entrepreneur coach I can see how having a book published is like having a business-card on steroids, a flyer, brochure, marketing campaign all at once.

Having a book adds credibility to what we do professionally, the message we put out there in the world, the message people pay us to listen to, to learn from. (Yeah, I got tired of dishing out free advice and tired of blogging for fun. Now I want to write for money.)

Whether it’s homebirthing or homeschooling (got a friend who has a DVD and book out about homebirthing) or anything under the sky we can only ever get paid for anything if we position and package ourselves as an expert in that field. Whether or not we really are is not a matter of content, it’s a matter of delivery.

You don’t have to be an expert at everything – just one thing that other people aren’t experts at. And people will pay you for it. Like me, I’m an expert at telling people the potential I see in them. I’m an expert at learning and an expert at teaching how to learn. I’m definitely not an expert in a lot of other things you are an expert in. But I leverage on what I’m an expert at – persuasion.

Some people will add that I’m an expert at pushing their buttons and annoying the crap out of them. But still – for every admirer you need a detractor. You can’t do anything worth doing if you’re not going to get someone criticizing you over it. You homeschoolers know what I mean – we get a bunch of people always criticizing us for something worthy we want to do for our own kids.

Whatever profession you currently find yourself in or whatever NGO activities and personal interests you’re investing your time and effort in you can actually GET PAID for what you know and get paid A LOT MORE if you have a book published. (Watch video of story of renovation business guy.)

Want more revenue, more sales, more leads?

Own a pesticide company, an organic farm or maybe you are online clothing wholesaler? Or you’re currently teaching a course on Reiki or Internet Marketing or How To Hedge a Hedge Hog? Have potted plants, do animal rescue, know how to organize camps and outings for homeschoolers? Have secret recipes and secret gardens and or perhaps hold the secrets of being an animal whisperer? Have a cause you’re fighting for, a story of a group of people / species you can lend your voice to and write about? Or maybe like me, you hold the key to Secrets of DIY Organic Learning – 7 Steps to Effective Left and Bright Rain ..I mean, Right Brain, Learning?

(I don’t know how I’m going to pull that one off but I’ve made a vow and the Universe is just going to send me the people and information I need to get that Secrets to DIY OL out one day!)

How long have you been thinking about writing a book?

Gerry Roberts is doing a seminar in Singapore March 22 – 24th and Success Resources has given me a small, limited supply of tickets worth SGD$3,999 at an UNBELIEVABLE price in RM. (The benefits of being a seminar-junkie and a decent persuader.)

If you watch the video below you’ve already missed the GBP200 ticket for the 2-hour evening that happened last Tuesday, January 29th.

What you can get is to go to the LIVE workshop and get the following bonuses :

how to publish a book_4

how to publish a book_5

how to publish a book_3

Read this article here to know how you can get a very limited supply of tickets that are offered to me at a very special price.

At least tell me how I did on this article? A departure from my usual content (which, honestly, I’m sick and tired of complaining about the school system) I realize………but how could I have written this article better in order to get you interested in coming with me to this workshop? (If you were ever so inclined.)