Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Club HEAL's short film

Voila! We've completed our short film for Club HEAL
The film is directed by award-winning director Sanif Olek and acted by Adrian Pang, J Rosmini and other talented Mediacorp artistes. The full film will be screened at a premiere-cum-public discussion in Singapore next year. Hopefully, the film will educate the public about mental illness and stigma against patients with mental health issues. 
Enjoy the first segment of our film...

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

2012 Nobel Laureate John Gurdon

"When he was 15, John Gurdon ranked last out of 250 students in the subject of Biology. His school teacher even wrote in his report that it would be "a sheer waste of time" for him to study science.
At 79, Sir John Gurdon, currently a Professor of Biology at Cambridge University, won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his groundbreaking stem cell research.

He still keeps his teacher's report nicely framed on his desk."
Kudos to our Cambridge professor! His story reminded me of mine... 

1) When I was in Junior College, I wanted to apply to Oxford but my civics tutor discouraged me saying that there was no way that Oxford would admit me who always failed Economics in my class tests.

2) When I was working in the ministry, I wanted to apply for the ministry's post-graduate scholarship but my director refused to support my application as I was deemed not intelligent enough to enter the Ivy League schools I had put on my application. Instead I was told to apply to "easier-to-get-in universities".


1) I scored an 'A' for Economics (in the French language) at the prestigious Sciences-Po Paris under the tutelage of former French Minister of Finance Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

2) I was awarded the esteemed Fulbright Scholarship (that I applied on my own with NO support from the ministry etc.) to pursue my Masters at Lehigh University.

3) I matriculated at world-renowned Cambridge University and graduated with the MPhil.

So, never let anyone belittle you or say you can't make it. Believe in yourself and remember, poetic justice is served best with that Nobel prize or any other achievements or awards :)

ps. Yes, you who said that I would be a nuisance to society when I return from Cambridge and all the jealous "Hidayah Haters", well... if John Gurdon gets his Nobel prize at 79, I still have lots of time and stamina to work towards that prize. And God willing when I get it, I will smile to the camera and tell you to "Remember this!"

Visit to Palestinian Refugee Camps

I had the opportunity to visit 6 Palestinian refugee camps & Haifa Hospital in Lebanon in September as well as to witness the destructions brought about by the war.
What struck me is how positive the Palestinians are in the face of devastation. Although their homes were taken away, their orange and olive trees were uprooted, their families killed... they smiled and said, "We are not afraid."
Like them too, I will say this, "You may uproot my mango tree, but you will never uproot my spirit."

The Demise of my Mango tree

It's has been some time since I last blogged. Things have been hectic as always. After Dr Ang's visit, my mango tree was ungraciously cut down by mean folks who didn't even have the courtesy to inform me about it before cutting it down. To learn more about the mango tree saga, pls visit www.gedungkuning.com/mangotree

I was traumatised and cried for 3 weeks. But as per Erwin Bovian who comforted me, "May its demise give birth to soothing words of poetry so that more can be sown for her community". Indeed, "The Mango Tree" will rise from the deepest earth, only to be reborn into immortality. So keep Saturday 16 March 2013 free for its rebirth. To all guilty parties, "Be Very Afraid" because my great-grandmother had cursed (and on many occasions, her words came true), "If one has bad intentions, one will not be happy and safe in Gedung Kuning". 

Yes, Gedung Kuning does not forget. And neither will I.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

My surgeon 'mother' & mentor Dr Ang Swee Chai

Dr Ang Swee Chai visited Gedung Kuning, my childhood home. She felt so sad and asked me if she could share my story with the Palestinians who have lost their homes. I said "yes, of course". Then Dr Ang in her soft voice said, "The 5th stage of genocide is to erase all memories". She said I was right to have written my book on Gedung Kuning and that I should write that book on Kampong Glam. 

"The past is never dead, it is not even past." Nobel Laureate William Faulkner

Dr Ang with the bunga raya in Gedung Kuning. 

Dr Ang's late husband Francis Khoo loved the hibiscus and it was a coincidence that the bunga raya was the only flower in bloom at Gedung Kuning on Mon 13 Feb 2012.

Bungaraya (by Francis Khoo)

In a garden, in an island,

Sprouts a bush among the clay
Where the rains have failed to water
And the sun has gone away
All its leaves have turned to amber
While around the land is grey
Yet that bush keeps growing taller
Struggling on it makes its way
Came one dawn a drop of water
Fell from heavens way up high
First one drop, then pitter-patter
Thunder, lightning fill the sky
'Tis the Dawn, the dawn is breaking
Heralding a brave new morn
With the rains spring little flowers
From around that bush are born
So throughout this one dry island
Sprouts more bushes from the clay,
Gardens full with crimson flowers
Bungaraya blooms all day
Bungaraya blooms all day

Dr Ang, co-author of War Surgery Field Manual, gave me her book to be shared with my doctor friends who are going on humanitarian field missions. 

Thank you Dr Ang for inspiring me and encouraging me to try for HMS again. Insya Allah!

Archipelago Consultancy

Late in December 2011, I was head-hunted by the Richard Chandler Corporation (RC). I must admit that I never knew about the corporation and of Richard Chandler, Singapore's 4th richest man and humble philanthrophist. After getting to know about the corporation, I was excited at the prospect of working with RC as I believe in RC's mission and vision. Alas, RC decided not to recruit. Although I was quite disappointed, I thought, if I could not work with Richard Chandler, I could try to be like him. With that dogged determination and desire to continue my great-grandfather, Haji Yusoff's entrepreneurial spirit, I set up my own company - Archipelago Consultancy. God willing, I aspire to be the next Richard Chandler.


It's been a few months since my last entry. No, I haven't been lazy, just overwhelmed with many new adventures. Among them is Club HEAL.

Together with Dr Radiah and friends, we founded Club HEAL (Hope, Empowerment, Acceptance & Love), a non-profitable society that aims to assist and empower persons with mental illness to regain confidence in themselves and others in their journey towards community reintegration.

We had orientation tea, organised fund-raising bazaar, training for volunteers and next Monday will be the opening of Club HEAL day care rehab service at Al-Khair Mosque. And there's also an upcoming public forum "Genie or Genes? Differentiating Mental Illness from Being Possessed".

And we've just started ...

“Open your heart and through challenges, you will find brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers in the entire universe.” – a beloved and beautiful sister who had Bipolar Disorder

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Only from the heart can you touch the sky - Rumi
Here's to a new year, a new hope, a new adventure.

  Game On Bitches!*