Sunday, August 14, 2016

Majulah Singapura!

So proud of anak Singapura (Singapore son), Joseph Schooling, for winning Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics! Singapura Boleh! Majulah Singapura! 

Joseph, you have showed, firstly, how one should always dream big and persevere to achieve that dream, and secondly, to never underestimate younglings or small 'dots'.

This reminds me of our Asian folktales about two 7-year old boys - Hang Nadim and Si Ma Guang. Hang Nadim's brilliant idea saved Singapore from garfish (not swordfish) attacks while Si Ma Guang quick-wittedness saved his friend from drowning. What happened to them? Instead of nurturing Hang Nadim, the Sultan immediately ordered his men to kill him as he feared that Hang Nadim would take over his position in the future. On the other hand, Si Ma Guang was groomed and he later became a high-ranking Song dynasty scholar-official and historian who authored 'Zizhi Tongjian', a pioneering reference work in Chinese historiography.

have, unfortunately, came across quite a number of 'high-ranking' people who suffer from the Hang Nadim syndrome. Instead of believing in other's capabilities and nurturing them, they behaved almost like that Sultan of the Hang Nadim's era. What we need is more people like the officials of the Si Ma Guang's era. They believed in the young boy's ability and groomed him so that Si Ma Guang would live up to his fullest potential.

Joseph Schooling is a good example of the Si Ma Guang-type of guidance. Let's not be like the leaders of Hang Nadim's era. Are we guilty of the latter?

*'Si Ma Guang and the Giant Jar' has been chosen for inclusion in the 2017 IBBY Selection of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities. Our book will be premiered at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair from 3rd to 6th April 2017.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Winners of the 2016 Rio Olympics in my eyes

Ibtihaj Muhammad, Team USA for Fencing (Sabre). She stood her grounds, fought for her rights, and is allowed to represent USA in fencing, wearing a hijab en plus! And no, I didn't hear the same rhetoric about respecting the public space and being inclusive blah, blah, bleah... being thrown at her.

Saiyidah Aisyah, Team Singapore for Rowing. She didn't receive the initial support, and had to resort to funding her own training and crowdfunding effort (started in January this year, and has raised over S$13,000). Only after Aisyah has proven her 'worth', was she awarded Sports Excellence Scholarship. And we wonder why Singapore often laments that we lack Singapore-born athletes and had to resort to luring foreign athletes with lucrative deals?

I remember my fencing days at university. My coach said that sabre fencing for women had opened as a new category at the Olympics and would l like to train to make it to the Singapore team? He saw the potential in me but I guess I didn't possess the determination and discipline to endure the rigour that came with the honour. Did I regret not trying? YES.

Ibtihaj and Aisyah, my respect and prayers go to you! You are already a winner and inspiration to many women (including Muslims and Malays) around the world.