Sunday, April 26, 2009


Now I started to realise why most of my friends had been blogging so sporadically over the past few months. Working is really energy draining. All I wanted to do after coming back from work is just to relax and watch my Korean drama.

Yes I had started working since 16th April, the day after my previous post. Fortunately, I had managed to get a place in Sarawak General Hospital. What a relief. At least for the first year, there’s no need to live alone in some remote area of Sarawak.


What SGH used to look like. Now its under construction.

For my first rotation, I was attached to the Outpatient Pharmacy Department. Not an ideal place to start my year as a Provisional Registered Pharmacist; akin to a youth player being suddenly selected into the first eleven of the football team. For it was easily the busiest department as it caters for patients visiting the numerous specialist clinics in the hospital. For the last few days, all I did was just to read the doctor’s prescriptions and fill the necessary medications for the patients to take home, doing around 50-60 scripts per day. Nonetheless, it was quite a good way to get familiarise with the colours and sizes of the available drugs. Next week will likely be taking some tentative steps into patient counselling.


Drugs,.my new BFF. Should I go out with the red one or yellow one tonight?

It had been and will continue to be a steep learning curve. My brain had been rusty from nearly half a year of idleness. For the past week, I had been busy learning and being assessed on the counselling points for all the inhalers and insulin devices. Next up will be on Warfarin, nasal spray and eye drops etc. What’s more, I had to do it in three languages: Chinese, Malay and English. I miss Australia where just English will do.

image image

Insulin pens and inhaler devices.

Anyway, as far as first impressions go, the pharmacy department is far more organised then first thought. Hospital pharmacy in Malaysia is more or less comparable to the ones in Australia. What I like about their medications filing system is that all the drugs are grouped together according to mode of action, for example, cardiovascular drugs are all in the same area. This really saves time while filling. Another thing is that they packed the drugs in convenient packs of 30 or 90, which saves time.  There are also far more pharmacy assistants compared to Australian hospital, and the ones I had seen so far are also very competent.

I guess that all the updates for now. It is time to again prepare for another baptism of fire next week. Lucky its going to be a four-day week. Oh why it’s Sunday night already…

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Down Memory Lane

Last week, my mum uncovered something interesting: a yellow manila folder containing each and every one of my primacy school semester exam papers.

This was the very first semester exam I set for, nearly 17 years ago.


Chinese Language. 11 May 1992.  Not a bad start.


Mathematics. 12 May 1992. Oops. A bit downhill.


Moral Education. 13 May 1992.  Getting worse.

If you doubt the authenticity, here’s the prove that it’s really my paper. Notice my name? And the year?


Hmm was there only 3 subjects? I didn’t remember much about the first semester exams. Guess it was too long ago. The only thing I remember about it was the aftermath.

The whole class was sitting down in groups around square tables. Along each side of the table there was a long chair which seats two student each. Yeah, that’s how we were sitting last time,  8 students to a square.

The teacher was asking the class. “Who do you think got 1st place in class?” Names were brandied around . I remember suggesting a name (alas, I forgot who). The teacher shook her head. Then a guy named Alan say out my name. And yes its me! Haha that’s why I remembered it clearly I guess. But then, the innocent me never really thought about academic excellence. It’s more like enjoying what I was studying. It was much later, I think in primary 3 or 4 when I started to have that academic competitive edge.

But I do remember the semester 2 exams in Primary One. I was down with measles that time, so I only went to the exam one week after. I had the exam in the staff room, sitting next to my form teacher on her table. I had curious teachers looking at me. One even ask my form teacher “is this your son?”

Come to think of it, I remembered quite a number of events and incidents that happened in primary one. Like who was sitting next to me and my impression of him (I thought he was quite scruffy because he was picking his nose). He also forgot to bring his pencil box, so I lent him a pencil. I remembered the girl who peed in class and the guy who excreted faeces in class. I remembered who is the class monitor. The name of the teacher. The girl who was accused of stealing from the canteen etc.

Can’t believe 17 years had passed since then. It was like reminiscing the start of a marathon when I had already passed the finishing line. But it was fun. Anyway I thought I just wrote it down here so that I can reflect upon it in the event I got dementia or amnesia later in life. Memories carved in words.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lucky Guy 13 Final

image “Boon Phiaw Kho”

I doffed my square hat, walked into the glaring lights, collected my scroll, said a few thank yous, shook a couple of hands, and dissolved back into the dark anonymity.

It was often argued that the journey is more important than the destination.

I entered Uni with the well set destination being to graduate with a First Class Honours pharmacy degree.

Luckily I didn’t just focus on the final destination. Because all I have to saviour the success of reaching my destination was a paltry 30 seconds. Yes, that’s the time for me to walk across the dais, collecting my scroll in the process. It barely reflects the four years of hard work and dedication I put in.

In the end, it was the journey which I cherished most. It was in the journey where soft skills were learnt to complement hard facts. It was in the journey that acquaintances were made and friendships built. There are so many good friends that there is no fair way to anoint one as the best. Suffice to say, they all left footprints in my heart. It was also an eye-opening journey to all things unimaginable and previously unconceivable. It made me appreciate how diverse the world really is and how limited my knowledge were.

Something that I had never disclosed before is that I also entered Uni with three dreams. The first one was academic, ie graduate with First Class Honours. The second one was co-curricular. I wanted a life besides studying and also to make a difference to the life of other students, especially international students. I felt that after all the associations and activities I joined, I did achieve that. Being given the Community Achievement Award was icing on the cake. It was actually a nice feeling to have what I had done being recognised.

The third dream, I was ashamed to say, was to be popular. I know, it was a vain little dream, a castle in the air furnished by too many teenage dramas and movies, and a personal story by a friend. He said it offhanded it ages ago, but it somehow etched itself to my memory. During his birthday one year, the whole library full of students broke into a spontaneous rendition of Happy Birthday. Gee, I thought, it must felt good to be popular.

I don’t think I managed to fulfil that dream of mine. The nearest I got was being stopped by five or six people in the library asking about assignments and how-do-you-dos. Did I try hard enough? I have no idea. It is sometimes hard to judge oneself. There were times I felt lonely in the Uni, lost in the sea of people. There were also times where I felt so lucky to have people around me, joking, having fun. However,  I was not too disappointed for not fulfilling it, as it was more of a bonus dream. Besides, there were enough things to make me feel grateful.

Yes, I had graduated, putting a full stop to my memorable journey in Parkville Campus, Monash University. Nevertheless, it was not a full stop to continue learning. It is just a milestone, with the time off now being a pause to reflect and recollect before embarking on a greater journey.

As a final note, thanks for indulging the narcissistic devil in me by reading these posts since I put the first one up more than half a year ago. I know I used a lot of Is and mes, Nevertheless, I hoped you are entertained.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Lucky Guy 12

IMG_1890 Like Dumbledore looking into his pensive, i peered into mine, fixating on the not too distant past - my last semester in Uni.

The first image to appear on the silvery screen was me strolling into St Vincent’s Hospital one Monday morning, glad to escape from the falling rain and chilly wind outside. That was the start of my 3-weeks placement there. Overall, St V was a very relaxing and easy going placement where we students took long breaks and spent too much time chit-chatting and watching TVs. But can’t say I didn’t learn anything. In fact, I learnt a lot, but would have preferred a busier placement.

The second image was me looking at the blurry images of people dancing. It was the first time I wore contacts in an ‘official’ event and somehow one of them contrived to get lodged somewhere inside my eyelid. The event was the Pharmacy Ball – first time ever joining in the fun after spending four years in Uni. It was not a bad experience. Gave me a reason to buy an expensive vest! (not to mention paying the $100 ticket).

The third image that came forth was me gazing and touching an Olympic gold medal. One of Australia’s swimming star was in Uni giving a talk, and she passed her Olympic medal around. It was the second important medal I had ever touched, the other being the Nobel prize medal. Both occasions was quite inspirational.

The fourth image was me eating cheese cake in the tutorial room as a few of us exchanged notes and had a meeting on how to answer exams questions. It was the first time I took part in a group study and it was so much fun! A very memorable experience indeed. Should had done that way way way earlier. That sem I studied at Parkville library, Caulfield library, State library and Melb Uni Law library…

In the fifth image, I saw myself in my favourite jumper, sitting in the lecture theatre listening to Louis Roller’s talk in our very last lecture. I remembered trying my best to capture every sense and nuance of that last lecture experience. After listening to so many lectures, some interesting, some sleep inducing… Bugs Bunny suddenly jumped out and say “that’s all, folks!”.

The sixth image. I was drinking orange + vodka with chatting with a variety of people,  with a red fluorescent stick tied around my neck. To hell with it, I had said. This is the last semester. Last chance salon. So off I went to the Allied Health Cocktail Party even though had quite a tight study schedule. Too noisy and dark, but an interesting place to observe group behaviour and party animals.

The seventh image was me running the PISA Annual General Meeting. It was my last official involvement with the club, after putting so much efforts into it in my three years there. Presided over a tight presidential race, and was now still wondering did I set the fairest election rules. But anyway, we will see.

I was stuffing some sweet middle eastern dessert into my mouth in the eighth image. It tasted heavenly. The event? I was playing host to visiting students from the UAE. It was fascinating listening to their stories while showing them around Uni. Then there was me teaching Singaporean students how to eat meat pies, and wolfing down a hot dog in the lab (haha not many people did that) coz someone enquired the directions to there while I was on lunch break during Open Day.

The ninth image was me sitting in the campus’ admin office stuffing envelopes, thinking what sort of funny place Australia is, to be paid AUS$21 per hour doing such simple job. Wondered how much people doing the same job in Malaysia were paid. AUS$1/hour? I worked real hard that semester.

Oh, the final semester was just filled with too many fond memories. There were much more little snippets, like seeing people dressed up in the last day of Uni. Hearing someone play the piano for me. Walking around campus brandishing lanterns. Exploring my emotional intelligence. Juggling time tutoring students while preparing for my own exam. Taking part in my last global friendship event (it was self defence). Making lecture announcements.  How I wish I can relive them again…

P/s: This is the penultimate post of my Lucky Guy series. No prize of guessing that I will end at 13.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Goodbye Mr Prime Minister

After five and a half years being the boss of Malaysia, AAB will step down tomorrow. A tenure that promised so much at the beginning pattered out barely a whimper.

When AAB started helming the nation on 31 Oct 2003, there was so much good vibes surrounding his appointment that I felt that the country was on the threshold of change for the better. Especially with the enduring images of him doing spot checks on government agencies and rhetoric of cleansing out corruption from the country on the first few days. I had so much faith in him that I kept the whole 56 pages Star Special pullout on him dated 1 Nov 2003.


I still remember feeling euphoric when he won his first general election in 2004 with 90% of the seats. I was in INTEC that time, thinking that AAB must be an amazing guy. Fast forward 4 years later to the next general election, I stayed up till the wee hours of the morning in Australia refreshing the Malaysiakini website for the latest election results. I recalled feeling elated as more and more states fall to the opposition.

Last night, I pulled out that Star Special from my drawer and started reread the whole thing to see where he went wrong. I also scoured the Internet on what prominent people and political analysts make out of his tenure.

The summary was that he had noble intentions but was just weak in carrying it all out. Perhaps the photo below best captured the task in store for him.


If only he had the foresight that it was a huge immovable rock that he was trying to push once he became the PM. He might want to change but not everyone was ready for it. Changing is difficult. Not everyone was really to give out their comfortable lifestyle fuelled with corruption money. Not everyone was willing to relinquish their power for the good of the country. Power and money are like drugs, once you are on it, its hard to go without it. For his trouble, he will probably live with the legacy as the Flip-flop PM.

Perhaps his downfall was that he was a too nice guy. Because in politics, you can't be nice to everyone. He should have stepped on some toes and do some backstabbing. Perhaps he never have the intention to be PM at all. He started off as a reluctant politician, and probably suffers from a lack of ambition once he reached the top. He had the PM position handed to be on a platter after all.


But I think the timing of him stepping down is right. With the economy in a downward slump, we need a strong and ambitious PM. Najib seems to be the man. He may ended up to be a dictator as Mahathir, but a ruthless and wily streak can bode well if use correctly.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this power transition will be for a better future.  Perhaps it will be, as this time, I started off by having a lower expectation.

In the meantime, thank you for your services to the nation, AAB. I guessed you tried your best.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009