My Own Happiness Project

My Own Happiness Project
because happiness begins inside and flows out...


(wedding toast)

I said a few words during Vic's wedding reception, and I wanted to pst the text here, but I guess I am too tired for that now.

I've posted the speech text on 5.1.2009


random pics.......

Ah, when I thought of random pictures, I didn't expect that these would be arranged randomly as well, makes it so hard to tell a story here.. anyway, I'll just explain the photos as I go along..

The first time I got a room with a window at Swiss Inn, KL. The only reason I got it was because the room I booked was not ready, and they gave me an upgrade for free. The space is slightly bigger than the usual I got on 2nf floor, the toilet more spacious and there was a window with a view.

I learned so much about architecture and design during the few weeks interactions with various engineers and architects, like why some doors need to be somewhere specific, and how designs, however creative, must meet form and fuctionality.

My loyal companion during afternoons post-prandial sleepiness - Starbucks Venti Mocha to-go, no whip, no foam, no nonsense, just the real stuff filled to the brim, thank you!

Leaf design, on my cafe mocha at Jesselton Coffee in Sandakan. My favourite hangout place while waiting for departure time to BKI.

Having lunch with Martin, Anne and Laisan at the House of Pancakes, where everything is served with pancakes, even meat and chili and brinjal and everything you can ever disgustingly imagine... But somehow, it's nice...

KLCC / Petronas Twin Towers - the icon of KL

Winter didn't come to MidValley this year, instead the theme was Carnival. Elaborate decos immitating circus and carnival was put up, and they even have a few shows a day - presenting clowns and ballerinas in weird colourful costumes, very nice.

That afore-mentioned room with a view also has also a toilet where the door didn't ram into the toilet bowl... wow, it was almost like luxury.

But the afore-mentioned view doesn't really deserve a second mention, I had my curtains drawn shut most of the time anyway...

All photos taken using


on second thought.......

Last year when I was still the AIDS/STD desk Officer for the state, I undertook a project that was half way through its implementation, that was to organise and implement the mandatory testing of HIV for Sabah, so that we will be on par with the rest of the states in the country. At that time, we were pressured to be one of the only 3 states that were not implementing the mandatory testing yet.

The effort from the Healtyh Department is just to prepare ourselves and provide the testing when it is needed. We are not in the position to make it compulsory, being just the service provider, the callhas to come from the authority of the religion, namely Islam. And they have, to date, passed a decree, or (what is it called in BM I can't remember now) and the head of JHEAINS - Jabatan Hal Ehwal Agama Islam Negeri Sabah - has announced the 1st of January 2009 to be the date of launch and mandatory implementation.

Yes, I was proud to be involved in making it a reality, we were even thinking of bringing it to the other religions, and be the first in the country to implement it amongst the non-Muslims.

But I'm having second thpughts now... especially when I have to confront the statistics, and the Human Rights issues... sigh... what should I do?

Below, the article Marina Mahathir (whom I totally idolise) wrote in her blog, and the article from UNAIDS on the issue of ethical testing.

Friday, December 19, 2008
Why Mandatory Premarital HIV Testing is NOT the way to go

The announcement by DPM yesterday is not something new. Mandatory premarital HIV testing was first started in Johor in November 2001. It should be noted that this was a policy of the Jabatan Agama Islam Johor (JAIJ) which makes it the first time that a religious department has made health policy, thus far the purview of the Federal Ministry of Health (which up to yesterday did NOT support mandatory premarital HIV testing, at least officially).

After which, state by state, religious departments have taken it up so that now we have a situation where almost every state now has mandatory testing.

Interestingly enough, we have absolutely no data on the efficacy of this policy which ostensibly is to prevent women from getting infected. The MoH is unable to give us statistics on how many people were diagnosed HIV+ through this programme because, they said, all state results are integrated into one report and they are unable to segregate how many were diagnosed through the premarital testing and how many through other avenues ( testing of drug users in Pusat Serenti and prisons,STD clinics,blood donations etc) . So basically we have a policy for which there can be NO monitoring and evaluation. Isn't that a great way to spend taxpayers' money?

The HIV prevalence rate in Malaysia is currently less than 1%. Prevalence rate refers to the % of people infected among total population. Now if we test couples intending marriage, we are testing the general population ( as opposed to at-risk or vulnerable populations such as drug users, sex workers, fishermen etc). Therefore we can expect that the results of positive diagnoses would be also less than 1%. Does it make sense to spend all that money on testing equipment and human resources to get such a low return?

Let me state that I am not against testing if it is voluntary. I think it is good and healthy for a couple intending marriage to talk frankly to each other about what risks they may have taken and to allay any doubts and fears by going for testing. It may interest you to know that the small anonymous voluntary testing programme that the MoH did run had a better take-up and higher positive diagnoses rate than the mandatory testing programme. That's because people who feel they have been exposed are voluntarily taking the test themselves, and the anonymity gives them comfort that they won't have to reveal themselves until they decide to.

In terms of preventing infection to women, this is not only a particularly lazy way of doing things but also paternalistic and patriarchal. It is based on the assumption that infection only occurs from men to women and therefore women should be protected from these bad men.

Well, guess what? In the very first cohort of people tested in Johor, they found women already HIV+!!! So you don't need to get married to become infected.

What anecdotal reports we have also suggest these people were not given adequate counselling. All the HIV+ people diagnosed were allowed to get married if they wanted. Most of them did, because to not do so would risk broadcasting to their entire community that they were possibly HIV+. However these marriages did not last long. What's more some of the couples refused to even live together, from which you can surmise that they did not have basic info regarding how HIV can or cannot be transmitted. And certainly were not told about condoms.

More importantly is this: testing only tells you what anyone's status is at that point in time and no more. Without pre- and post-test counselling as well as sustained public education about HIV, there is no guarantee that anyone would remain HIV-free throughout their lives. And as long as women are unable to refuse sex with their husbands even when they suspect their husbands may be HIV+, they will be unable to protect themselves from infection. If anything, mandatory testing gives a false sense of security to these couples. (In KL, there have been 60-year old married women diagnosed HIV+.)

Last year I presented a paper on a cohort of 300+ HIV+ widows in Kota Bharu at the 8th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific in Colombo, Sri Lanka. All of them became infected through their husbands and all were left with children and no means of support. Many of them knew that their husbands were drug users when they got married but did not know that this put them at risk of HIV infection. They only found out their own status when their husbands were diagnosed, very often very late.

You have to wonder why these women married men they knew to be drug users. Some only realised how bad it was after they got married. Not all the men were HIV+ yet when they got married but eventually became so after a few years, probably after graduating from smoking to injecting. In many cases, it is only their younger children who are HIV+ which suggests that infection occurred later in marriage. While I do not recommend it either, it would seem that a premarital drug test would give you a better indication of who is likely to become HIV+ in the future than an HIV test.

Is the answer then to keep testing people throughout their marriage? Obviously not. We need public education about HIV and we need to empower women and uphold their rights. We have far too many cases of women being told that they have to have sex with their husbands because it is their duty even when they suspect or know their husbands are HIV+.

And of course we should talk about condoms. In a study of HIV-discordant couples ( ie one partner HIV+, one not) at KLH a few years ago, it was found that despite counselling, Muslim couples still did not use condoms, thus putting the negative partner at risk (usually the wife). Although the study did not ask why, we can surmise that it is because Muslims believe that condoms are haram. Our ulama, unlike in Indonesia, have not unequivocally said that condoms are ok within marriage.

For international policy on HIV testing, read this.

Now, here's a question: if couples run away to get married in southern Thailand, will they be subjected to HIV testing after they get back? But then they are already married, which means transmission of HIV can already have occurred. How do you then protect the women?

Posted by MarinaM at 12:51 PM 5 comments

HIV testing and counselling

In 2003, it was estimated that only 0.2% of adults in low- and middle-income countries received voluntary HIV counselling and testing services. People fail to be tested for HIV for many reasons: lack of access to testing services, fear of stigma and discrimination, fear the test will be positive, and lack of access to treatment. These facts mean thousands of opportunities for increased access to treatment, care, support and prevention have been, and are being, missed.

In light of the need for individuals to have earlier access to treatment, care, support and prevention, UNAIDS and WHO are supporting a major expansion of access to HIV testing and counselling through the scaling up of client-initiated testing and counselling services and through the expansion of provider-initiated testing and counselling services in health care settings. Such efforts are not only necessary to improve the health of individuals, they are also necessary to achieve universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support and to mount effective responses against HIV.

UNAIDS does not support mandatory testing of individuals. All testing, whether client or provider-initiated should be conducted under the conditions of the “Three Cs”: involve informed consent, be confidential, and include counselling. Recognizing the urgency of connecting HIV positive people to prevention, treatment, care and support, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization released in May 2007 operational guidance on provider-initiated HIV testing and counseling in health facilities. The guidance is in line with the 2004 UNAIDS/WHO Policy Statement on HIV testing and recommends that traditional voluntary testing and counselling be supplemented by provider-initiated testing in all health settings in generalized HIV epidemics, and in selected health facilities (such as tuberculosis, sexual health or antenatal health clinics) in areas with low or concentrated HIV epidemics.

Implementation of this guidance must be informed by an understanding of social and epidemiological context in which testing is taking place. Where there are high levels of stigma and discrimination and low capacity to implement testing and counselling under the Three Cs, these issues should be addressed before expansion of access to provider-initiated testing and counselling in health facilities. Though access to anti-retroviral treatment is not a prerequisite, there should be some realistic expectation of such access within the context of the country’s plan to achieve universal access by 2010. Furthermore, there should be access to a basic package of prevention, care and support, as the cornerstone of expanded access to HIV testing and counselling to achieve beneficial health outcomes.


what about love...

1. Went out with Vic 2 nights back, supposedly our last night out while he is still a bachelor - but not quite, since he is legally married a couple of weeks back - and had our catching up over pizza.

2. Talking to a married person, I could not escape talking about love and related issues, though I have conveniently put that matter at the back of my mind for a while.

3. I am not going to write much about it here, since I am too tired from attending project developmental meeting from morning to about 7pm today. Not like in Sabah, 7pm here is still bright, maybe that's why people don't have that sense of urgency to end the meeting sooner.

4. Tun Mahathir was here earlier, in MPH, to autograph his books and meet his fans. I was grumbling upstairs because I wanted to come down but yet I could not leave the meeting...

5. And this is also why I am writing in the style of Mahathir's blog... well, maybe next time.


when in rome......

...wear as the Romans do.

I am invited to give another AIDS awareness talk at a charity party tonight. Unlike the previous event, this one tonight has a theme - Toga. Well, I'm going to be sporting and go with my bedsheets.

Maybe it would deliver the message better?


hp mini 1001tu.......

There you go, the new member in the family...
  • Intel (R) Atom N270 Processor (1.6 GHz)
  • 60GB (4200rpm) Hard Drive
  • 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM (1Dimm)
  • Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP Home Service Pack 3 for ULCPC Programme
  • Webcam
  • 10.2" Diagonal WSVGA Brightview Widescreen Infinity Display
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 with shared graphic memory
  • 802.11 b/g WLAN & Bluetooth
  • SD/MMC Media Slot
  • 3-cell Lithium-polymer battery
born 2.25 lbs

Welcome, buddy!

gadgetophilia me.......

Ah, at first it sounds like an insult, but the more I think of it, I think it might be true, that I have a problem with a sickness called gadgetophilia. It is not as serious as it sounds, but the common side effects are usually shedding off pounds and in many cases, makes one lose his sen(ses).

My symptoms? The sudden appearance of a Hewlett Packard mini netbook in my sling-bag. Not that I have the mysterious appearance of the HTC TyTN II few months back completely figured out, and now this. The HP Pavilion tx1000 is still in perfect condition and working performance, if you're wondering. But still. And yeah, the pedometer is still there.

Notably I am still suffering from the shrinkage in my bank accounts. In great pain, in fact. At this rate, I should consider getting a sugar-mommy to soothe my pain, haha. Anyone?


2008: work.....

It's coming to the end of 2008. Years after high school seem to have passed so much faster than before. I remember how the PMR and SPM years were dreadfully draggy, but after that, University years seems to just sail by. Now that I'm working, 12 months seems more like 12 weeks.

2008 has been quite a bumpy ride in the beginning. The early year reshuffling of officers in the department has caused quite a stir in my working performance. Last year I was brought over by the Boss, DrY, all the way from Lahad Datu to fill a void in AIDS Unit. At first, I had my hesitance (for like 3 minutes) on taking up the post. See, the effect of stigma of this disease goes beyond the person having the disease itself, people are paranoid of having anything to do with the disease, even working under the department bearing the name. Anyway, moving back to KK was probably the best decision I did last year, and it proved to be a very interesting ride working in AIDS Unit. Then, in January, another more worthy officer was sent over to replace me, well, I couldn't complain much, being a junior without any further qualifications, I have to understand that whatever post I hold in the Department would be temporary, just awaiting an officer with proper qualification to come.

So that started a downward ride on my passion towards work. Being shifted down, there was even a standing order (fortunately without a supporting letter or transfer) asking me to go work in one of the busiest clinic in the state. Not that I do not want to do clinical works anymore, but I was nicely preparing myself for Public Health and sending me down back to the clinic would upset the plan. Anyway, since there was no proper Letter of Transfer issued, I conveniently hid under the shadow of my new boss, and do whatever he asked me to do. Being a refugee in my own office, I had all the time in the world to put up entries and hence the multiple entries a day in my blog. Comparing to now, I would be satisfied to just post one entry a week!

That went on for a few months, up to April or May specifically. By March I was beginning to come out of my depression, and started to enjoy work again. Working under DrP was indeed an beginners course in Public Health, seeing how he would manage a programme more systematically and plannings were made with more proper strategies. He allowed me to go around to do supervision visits even though I think I was not supposed to do that (when I was expected to be in a clinic).

In February when everything was at its lowest point, I turned 29, starting the 1 year countdown towards the last days of my third decade of life. Right after the birthday I started joining a few friends for occasional beer after work, and the occasions gets more frequent with time until at one point, I was chugging down beer every weekend. Ironically, at this point of time, I also made one of the best decisions this year - that is to take a break from work, to go on a proper vacation - which I've never done before in the past 5 years of working. So I took out the good old plastic, and paid my way to Indonesia and back, for a good solid 8 days! I was to travel in April and that was my motivation to go on with the days.

March left and April came, I was recovering from the depression at work little by little, and I went on a solo adventure to Jakarta, Jogjakarta and flew back via Surakarta. Coming back from that vacation, I was left thirsting for more, and soon after, I booked a vacation to Manila, scheduled in September.

That vacation surely left me refreshed and more positive about life and work (having visited the most jazzy city in this region, at least, left me with good vibes) and I started picking myself up at work. Then, one fine day in May, when I was doing a supervision in Sandakan, I got a call from DrY saying that he wants to talk to me. Spontaneous breathing stopped momentarily. I had to purposely suck in and blow out air to keep alive.

That message was very familiar. The last time I read a message like that from him, I was asked to transfer out from Lahad Datu to KK in 20 days. After that talk with the Boss, I was 'offered' to move from KK to Beluran in 15 days. Wow. I can almost see a pattern here. The next transfer notice might only be 10 days.

I tried negotiating, but DrY has always been so supporting in things that I do that I was convinced that working in one of the most backward districts in the state would not be that bad. Plus, how can I say no to the Boss? Being prep in a district to Public Health System is a better exposure than being in the headquarters. Plus, I heard that to go to some clinics I need to go by boat - now why would I trade that for a 8 to 5 job at the HQ?

Time went by ever so fast while in Beluran. Although I might say that I work there, but in actual fact I was almost 70% of the time elsewhere other than Beluran. Meetings are usually held in KK and I had to delightedly come back to attend them. Meetings at the beginning or ending of a week will mean spending the weekend prior to or after the function at home. Now would there still be any reason to complain? Nope.

The work itself proved to be as challenging as I liked it. Having to learn district management system in such a short time, I am quite glad to have some seniors to guide me through. DrP, DrT and DrJ, all past bosses in Lahad Datu were there to answer naive questions and gave directions. DrP even helped to plan financial requirements when budget was depleting at the middle of the year. DrJJ was helpful in showing the technicalities associated with work, and spelling out the dos and don'ts as the person in power of the district. Now that sounded really huge, and in fact it is. Now all problems in the district becomes my problems, and more often than not, I had to sit myself down and discuss the solutions with my new band of armies.Scope of job might be scary, but now I have came to love it so much, I might have hesitance to leave this place.

September vacation was in the middle of all the crisis with staffs problems, fuel supply being blocked and auditors coming left / right / centre. But I was able to settle some before I left and that trip to Manila was a blast, like a much needed oasis, a week of doing nothing about work - but still I had to check on my emails frequently because that's the only way to contact me from home / work.

Now I have heard a few hear says about another wave of reshuffling coming this new year. I have mixed feelings about getting a transfer back to KK. Only here in Beluran did I learn to organise a disease control team during an outbreak, learn about budget organisation and financial management of the district, be involved in clinic buildings design and planning for an impending disaster (the recent flood caution). Meetings were inevitable, but I've learnt to appreciate the necessity of them, for example, when someone died of an infectious disease or death of a pregnant mother. Although Maternal Mortality Meeting can be the most dreaded gathering o all - some of the nurses get so overtly defensive when this happens, and some almost peed in their uniforms - but much can be learnt about the management of a health system, not just the actual management of the cases.

Now, the boats are still the best thing to happen in Beluran, and tomorrow I might go on another boat trip to follow a traveling clinic team to a remote village. I'm looking forward to that trip, but SIRIM is also coming tomorrow for their re-evaluation audit for our MS ISO certification.

Hmm... decisions, decisions.

11Dec2008, 0100 a.m.


the red glam party at d'junction.......

Oleng-oleng Family organised an AIDS Awareness party to raise fund for Malaysian AIDS Fund last Sunday and I was invited to come and talk about the topic. Talking about the issue in a pub environment was not easy, especially when the whole sitting area includes a bar in the middle, but I guess it was okay. Some of the pictures taken by Greg of KupiO KawKaw...

Man, I look so bloody bloated...

I am right at the end...

Alex and me....

Thanks, Greg, for the photos. For the original coloured version, click here.


unfinished business.......

Can't believe it, 3 days meeting up to settle room data for the clinic in Telupid but still we could not cover all the rooms... seems like I have to make another trip here middle of this month to finish up the work... but am I complaining?

Hmm.. not really, heh...

Going back to KK tomorrow... I can't believe that I am actually missing home already... and the thought of the work piled up in Beluran... horror.... sigh...


random slice of information #1.......

If you're at MidValley and you want to go to Bangsar LRT station, wait for the shuttle bus at the entrance at South Court, where Dome is...
So now you know...

meetings, meetings, meetings.......

Been here in KL for the past few days, attending a room data interaction meeting for the new proposed clinic in Telupid. For those who are not architecturally initiated, room data discussion is the occasion where we discuss everything that is going to be built in to the room, including how many power sockets to be included - essential or normal, or general, phone lines and data cables, how many lights to be installed, what type of lighting needed, the air conditioning - how long does the room gets air con, central or individual unit, the type of ceiling, wall, the paints to be used, the time it takes for a door to be completely burnt down, small tiles, medium tiles, big tiles, open air, enclosure, roller shutters here and why not there.....
I'm telling you, at the second day of the meeting, I had a triple shot (plus one) cafe mocha from Starbucks at the starting of the meeting, and uncountable helpings on the served sweet cardboard coffee but still I find myself shutting down right after afternoon tea...
We have gone through Outpatient Department, Registration Counter, and Pharmacy; Maternal and Child Health Department and Oral Health Department in the past 2 days, but we have only covered up to half of day-2's itinerary. Don't think tomorrow we can finish all, and it seems like I would have to make another short trip to come here next week to finish up the discussion...
And while all that, trying to coordinate and run Beluran Office via remote control, whispering through my phone calls, and heaps and heaps of text messages to my staffs.
Suddenly I feel so tired...


quite a morbid week, i'd say.......

One after another, unfavourable news came to Beluran, and I suspect someone has not been changing his / her underwear! That's what the nurses say when you're the 'hot' type and patients seem to flood in when you're on call... but in this case, I am not the culprit, I changed my underwear regularly, bought some new ones and shower 3 -4 times a day. Just so you'd know. Heh.

Anyway, first there was the news about the robbery, and secondly, one of my staff's son just passed away at few months old after spending a few weeks in NICU. Last I heard, the doctors were suspecting intussusception of his intestine. Then, earlier this week, one of our nurses, who has been battling Nasopharyngeal cancer succumbed to a peaceful death. She has been warded in the hospital in KK and Sandakan even before I came to Beluran, and I did not even had a chance of visiting her. Just last night, my Nursing Sister called to again report a bad news, that another maternal death has occurred in Telupid Clinic, and this calls for another maternal mortality meeting, of which I said did not happen before I got to transferred to Beluran. and now, this is the third or fourth meeting I've chaired. Sigh... Is it me?

Probably Byford and John Langford is not good enough... Shall I try Renoma?


it's getting real.......

What's the odds of this coincidence?

I have been very much involved in the AIDS awareness movement since the Boss, DrYusof brought me over to JKNS to do the programme after DrNarimah transferred out for further studies. I have to admit, while I was in Lahad Datu, my favourite programme was maternal and child health, and even at that, I was doing heaps of adolescent health programme. I became quite comfortable with that, and work was enjoyable and (dare I say) easy. But the I was challenged by Boss, and yea, how can you say no to your Boss, right? So I took up the challenge, and I enjoyed it much! It even brought me on a free trip to Hong Kong! Yea, the perks of Public Health.

That was sometime last year, and for the second time in a row, WAD was an important date to mark on the calendar. I remembered even as a student, I was once guided by our (very sexy and alluring) ProfAdeeba, who was and still is, the authority in HIV / AIDS of UMMC and even KKM generally. I was so mesmerised by her that I thought to myself, if there's one thin that I want to be good at, I want to be Mr Know-It-All for HIV infection. Little do I know that I am living the aroma of that dream today, some 6 years after that infatuation with the Prof.

HIV to me has always been a job. It is work. I was involved in data collection for the State, and in running programmes to ensure we can manage and contain the infection and disease (though that is like the fattest dream one could ever have, since I do realise that I may not see the fruit of our labour in this near future) but still, someone still had to do the job and the show must go on.

We have been on the street, and off the street in some sleazy hotels and salons, doing prevention works, giving health education, building rapport with pimps and hookers (excuse me, I mean sex workers) alike, detecting some and did lots of counseling at the same time.

Now, something could be said about detecting a client with HIV- I've seen it as a personal victory, a reason for celebration, one of 'them' shot down before he / she could go and spread the disease to another, a success of the public health system and the world owe us a bottle of champagne...

Now, what follows after the detection of a case is quite schematic. A lot of thoughts have been put into making sure it is do-able, and facilities of all levels have been equipped to give the best care and support for the newly diagnosed. I, myself, has also been involved in a lot of counseling post-confirmation, and tears, anger, denial, fear and all that stages of accepting a bad news that we learned as students under psychology/psychiatry I've seen them all.

Positive living, bereavement, coping with stress, all these are things that comes to mind when we talk about life after diagnosis with the afflicted, it's quite easy actually. Doesn't take a shrink to do it, really.

But nothing prepares me for the one case that I got to know, just on the eve of World AIDS Day this year. A friend of mine (of whom I know has had a naughty reputation) was recently diagnosed with HIV infection, and currently battling with a bad infection of Hepatitis C, eating away his liver.

I was practically hyperventilating for a good 20 minutes. My mind was cloudy and that schematic algorithm on what to do suddenly makes no sense. No words of comfort I can think of at that time, in fact, I was looking for someone to offer me some comfort. Anything, anything would do, just say that it isn't real. I was in denial myself.

I have gone through the phase where my peers are getting married one by one, getting babies one by one and leaving the government for greener pastures one by one. I did have the thought of one day, my friends will start to die one by one, but I never thought I have to worry about that for the next 30 or 50 years to come!

All I can think of, is that what I have been saying all this time, suddenly makes sense and suddenly becomes so real. We do not talk enough about this matter, and we do not care enough about it to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

I want to challenge all of you who reads this, to talk about sex and protection to your loved ones, to your partner, to your regulars, whoever. I think this matter has been a taboo for a day too long, and really, change come from ourselves.

How to start? Just say,
Honey, we need to talk...

lead... empower... deliver...

The World AIDS Awareness Day Campaign 2008

“Presidents and prime ministers, doctors and lawyers, scientists and schoolteachers, chief executives and trade union leaders, religious groups and communities, and – critically – people living with HIV, are coming together in a brilliant coalition that has proved that, with clear targets and strong commitment, we can move mountains.”

- UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot
2008 World AIDS Day message


"We have to end the stigma and discrimination that still stop so many people from learning how to prevent HIV and get treatment. And we need resources -- enough to provide services that will have a real impact in communities and on entire nations. The need to lead, empower and deliver on AIDS is as real and urgent as ever."


day light robbery.......

Sounds like a figure of speech but I'm talking literally.

I've just received a phone-call from my nursing sister, reporting that one of our nurses was robbed on her way back home for the weekend. She was alright, traumatised nonetheless, but unharmed. Only her handbag was snatched and she's now at the Police Station, filing report of the incident.

Sure, it sounds like an everyday thing, happens so often that we don't make much of a big deal about it anymore... until it happens to one of our own people.

I have close to a hundred young nurses working in the interiors of Beluran (and by saying interior, we don't just mean you don't get your morning papers on time, or you can put your 3G phone down - we're talking of hours of car ride, boat ride and walking cross hills, valleys, rivers, swamps and open sea... and I'm not being dramatic here).

We've raised up the issue of safety of these girls (some of them even working alone in a rural clinic) but somehow they always turn out okay. Anyhow I don't think it is fair that we keep on betting their safety on luck and chances. I'll be calling a brainstorm session to think of ideas to keep our girls safe... we have a few suggestions listed...

1)Equipt every nurses with pepper spray - we have provided one for each clinic, but maybe we need to give to everybody

2)Sponsor them to self-defense classes ie karate, taekwondo etc, and some are already built for sumo ;-)

3)Did anyone say Tazer?

coffee with tony and anas.......

6 years later and we're still talking craps... It was nice to catch up with ol' med-school mates and see what becomes of us half a decade after graduation. Tony's doing masters in surgery, Anas is into Traumatology and I'm doing much desktop and traveling job that was conveniently left out from the syllabus (either that or I slept through SPM - Social& Preventive Medicine - what they call Public Health in Uni).

There's supposed to be our picture, taken at Espressemente Café...


...but I'm still figuring out how to post a picture from my (#%*+%) phone.

Damn. Later lah!

wifi on my HTC
Jesselton Cafe

blogging from my phone again......

I wish I had my laptop with me now, blogging from the phone may appear to be really cool when I first discovered the magic of wireless connectivity, but the novelty wears off after a few times. I may adapt to the slowness of the connection, but I don't seem to be getting used to typing on micro keypads. I may be a finger typist (meaning that I stab on the keyboard with my 2 index fingers to type) but stabbing the keypad with a toothpick is a different feat all together!

Anyway I'm here again at my usual place, that is, Jesselton Café in Sandakan, passing time while waiting to board the last flight home to KK later. It wasn't part of the plan to come so early, I even thought of staying back in the office till way past 5pm to settle the year end accounts, but we needed to do some banking in
the afternoon. So to be more economical on fuel expenditures, I had to come down early. not that I am complaining,I was looking forward to get lunch at Sim-Sim anyway. Just that my staffs had to stay up and did OT last night until 11pm. Even with that, they were still rushing this morning!

Lunch was ikan bakar at Pasar Sim-Sim. Nothing to shout about, other than they serve only the freshest seafood for cheapest price. My staffs and I shared 4 pieces of fish between us, with free-flowing rice, veges cooked in traditional recipes like kerabu and tempe, nangka muda masak lemak etc, and asam fish soup. All that only for RM27nett. Try ordering the same meal in KL or even KK!

wifi on HTC
Jesselton Café


another thing made me cry today.......

This may make me sound like a woos, and I'm not helping it by talking about my crying on the blog, but something really strong pulled on the heart-string, and I'm not talking about some Hallmark movies that I've watched.

I just came back from KASIH, which is a non-governmental support group that aims to relief the burden of people infected and affected by the HIV / AIDS epidemic in Kota Kinabalu, of which I've pledged membership. Talking to Monica, the person running the show behind the courtain, alongside DrFong who cares for the infected children in Sabah, I was notified that there are about over forty infected children (unofficial figure quoted) currently are under follow up at the retroviral clinic, and more than half of them are already started on treatment. Well, why am I sad about this, let me put it this way. Infected children can be healthy or health-compromised. The healthy ones may not require HIV treatment for the moment, and there are only less than half of them. And we are not only talking about the infected ones when we bring up the issue of HIV/AIDS in the community, because we have not yet begun counting thos who are affected (but fortunately not infected) who have lost their parents and any form of social support because of the prejudism and stigma associated with these 6 lettered nightmare - HIV/AIDS.

One of those kids, JC is his name, who is infected and affected, was already orphaned before he was even 5 years old. I was offered to adopt him, and be his care-taker so that he can be enrolled into the welfare programme, and receive a little funding from the government. KASIH is also helping him financially, to ensure that he comes for his follow ups regularly without missing his medication.

It didn't take long for me to say yes, of course. After leaving my particulars with them, I came home having mixed feelings, mostly good. A cocktail of sadness, pride, happiness, joy -- and I am really bad with adjectives -- but one thing I know, being a dad makes me look at life at a different angle, and there's a sense of fulfillment to it.

I've not met JC yet, but I hope to see him soon. Now you can call me a woos for crying, but you would too if you've just got a child, and when you know he is healthy, but not exactly.


tsk tsk tsk.......

Accidents like this happens almost everyday along the oily road of Telupid - Sandakan - Lahad Datu - Tawau route, especially after rain, when water would lift the oil spills up to the road surface and making it really slippery for speeding vehicles.

This one happened as I was on my way back to KK last Tuesday. Fortunately there was not casualty in this accident.

pollo fungi.......

The thin crust stone-baked chicken and mushroom pizza from Yesteryear Cafe, RM11.50. Quite okay for the price paid, perfect for people like me, who's quite impartial about his pizza. Actually I've been thinking of having this since last weekend, and a friend (sort of) promised to come get it together. But last minute change of plan and being stood up is not part of my evening itinerary, so I went ahead anyway, and got Dr Alex to join me for dinner.


something made me cry today.......

I found a video on Tony Melendez in Greg's blog, but I think rather just entertainment, I'm sure I've found something more...

All of a sudden my heart cringe... is it longing? Is it time?

Go ahead, don't forget the tissue, it's okay to cry at this...

Tony does Paul McCartney's Let It Be...

random thoughts.......

have we forgotten.......?


prayer for serenity - calvin style......

random thoughts......

november blues' here again......

Time went by extremely fast this year. It felt like only last week when I had my November Blues, and now it's here again... wait, I did have November Blues last week, in fact for this year, it came early.. haha. What I wanted to say was, time went by really fast, and if the sayings were true, I must be having fun. Am I? I guess I did have a bit of fun. Yes, I did.

November Blues is a period for me to reflect on things that I have achieved (or have not) for the year, and usually it coincides with the season of Advent of the Christian calendar. But I am not quite sure if Advent is already here yet, at this moment of time.

The issue of significance comes back during this season, like P.Ramlee reruns during Hari Raya, same thing over and over again. But this time, it is stronger as I approach the end of my third decade of life. Need some more time to think this over, before I can write about it.


what a wonderful world......

I may have hundreds of favourite songs, and they are reshuffled in my own Billboard chart according to my current moods. But I have only 2 soul-songs, meaning, that these 2 songs will remain in the top list at all time - and Sheena knows it!

Thanks, Sheens, the video-clip you posted really made my day! :-)

Stacey Kent singing What A Wonderful World

And since I am in the mood for youtube suddenly, here's another one of my favourite, by Eva Cassidy, on her guitar singing O'er the Rainbow.


jesselton cafe again...

Before anything else, I want to wish my mom a very happy birthday today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!!

Here I am again, stranded at Jesselton Café Sdk waiting for my bus ride. Not airbus, how I wish, but TungMa. It's been a while since I last took a long bus-ride home, I hope I can still sleep through the journey as before.

I'm in Sandakan again to chair a maternal mortality meeting, the fourth for our district. After so many, what Keets said once, came to mind again... that are these just statistic to me? Honestly, I do not connect to her, beyond finding out what could be the shortfalls in service, and how could we have done better... I'm glad that for this particular case, we are in the clear. But that's unlikely what would be felt by her loved ones...

I wonder if I've grown too cold towards soul-connections, that Spiritual interactions in Medicine, the first and actual reason that got me interested in doing Medicine as a life vocation. I need to sit and reflect...

wifi on my HTC
Jesselton Café
Mile4, Sandakan


the attempt to be sexy...

My one attempt to be sexy... in the voice department that is, since physically quite impossible, also failed...

The last thing I need when attending a meeting is a sore-throat, and yes I've got a full-blown one that gave me hoarse voice, alas not sexy like Brian Adam's but squeaky and scruffy one like Grover from Sesame Street.


wifi on my HTC


just trying this out...

I'm here at Jesselton Coffee, trying to blog using a stylus on my HTC while sipping on some warm café mocha, killing time before the flight later at 0910pm.

It is difficult to work while always on the move, meaning that I have to manage Beluran via remote control, thanks to handphones, fax and internet... but I'm actually starting to appreciate this job, and loving it! It's a challenge actually to organise work that should be done in 5 days and try doing 'em all in just 2...

wifi on my HTC
Jesselton Cafe


the most recent boating trip.....

Few days back, just before I came back to KK, I had an afternoon scheduled for a trip one of the clinics that I have yet to visit till now, at Kg Tagas-Tagas, about 25 minutes by boat from Beluran jetty. The journey will take us upstream Sungai Labuk, rather than down to the open sea so the river width will get narrower and narrower as we go further.

There are a few clinics that are only accessible by boat under the administration of Beluran Health Office, though this is not one of them, but we decided that it is faster to travel by boat since I have a flight to catch later that day.

This is one of the boats we have in the district, small yes. Staffs from KD Kuala Sapi and KD Keniogan will usually commute by this one and they have to go through the open sea to come to Beluran. Imagine that.

Few are already beyond economical repair, like these two that are just hanging around at the Clinic dock.

I think this one is also already scheduled for BER, formerly used as water ambulance and vehicle for traveling clinic.

The staffs enjoying the afternoon breeze at our clinic jetty during lunch break.

The infamous 'klinik-2-alam' that can only be found in Beluran, as I was told. 2 alam because there are 2 entries to the clinic, via land and water. Half of the clinic is built on the river bank, while another portion extends to the water via stilts. Sadly the river part of the clinic is very fast decaying and already showing signs of collapse. We're currently waiting for approval for relocation to another site - also just as ancient - next to the district hospital. I hope we don't have to experience Titanic before we finally move out!

This is our ride for the day, a 27-footer with 300HP engines, complete with GPS trekker.

That day only 3 of us went for the visit, Chief Medical Assistant Sius, Sister Malin and myself.

Eksyen jerr
wearing the cool life-jacket.

Carrying logs along the river.

The River getting narrower as we get further.

Sister Malin getting dizzy from the stench, actually the night before, Azman our boatman found a dead rat in the boat, most probably brought in by a cat... or is it because he also kept food in the boat. It was extremely unpleasing to have to sit in the stench throughout the trip but okay lah bah, style kampung kampung...

Some parts of the river was so still, believe that this was taken from a moving boat?

The weather for the day was very misleading, I thought it was going to rain looking at he clouds, but as we landed, the sun was out at its full strength.

Near the village.

Mmm... not a sight for the superstitious.

Kampung Tagas-Tagas.

Where are the clouds I saw earlier?

Signs that we're nearby a health facility...

And finally here...

First thing I did upon arrival was of course to put the fan on full blast and sit in front of it...

Maternal clients being attended to while Sister looked on to supervise.

Our problem in the district is still high rate of eclampsia. One of the remedial action we've taken is to put up eclampsia emergency kit in all the clinics and make sure all the nurses are on their toes about the management.

Don't think we're in the village and we won't know what technology looks like!

Half way through the visit we had news about an attempted break-in to one of our premises in town, with the window grills being sawed off... That's my tired and troubled face, thinking that we had to go through police report and all that stuff later when we get back to Beluran... sigh...

But luckily it was a false alarm, and I get go back to KK in peace...

This village also gets flooded during wet season, so some of the buildings are built on really high stilts like this school...

Children playing... reminds me of pictures that Rarindra Prakarsa would take, only much nicer when he does it.

Time to head home...

Weather was fine when we headed back, so I'll leave this one in colour.

Never thought you can plant palm trees right to the edge of the river...