Sunday, January 28, 2007

Doctors on call

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FIVE medical doctors and two medical assistants made their way to Kota Tinggi last week to join friends and volunteers from MedicAsia to continue post-flood health screening. The doctors and MAs were from HUSM in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan.

The medicine men (and one woman) had four young lads from Warisan Global (WG), a knowledge building outfit from Kuala Lumpur as company for five days.

The doctors were attached to Hospital Kota Tinggi, bringing with them expertise and experience in family medicine, emergency care and child counselling. A seasoned paediatrician was also in the team.

Thanks to the generosity of the hospital director, the volunteers were housed in a vacant bungalow in the hospital compounds. The hospital was so stretched after the second wave of floods which adversely affected 40 per cent of its staff.

The four lads from WG brought an additional dimension to caring for flood victims. Graduates all of them, the lads would organise games, telematches, run quiz, painting competition and lots of other activities to keep the children in relief centres occupied.

I talked to a few ladies at one of the relief centres. I had asked whether they would mind having the young men in the hall making noise and creating a small din. "Tak pa. Kami lagi suka. Kalau tak buat cam ni, budak-budak ni merayau entah ke mana-mana (Go ahead, it's alright. If you don't do this, God knows where the kids will be going to occupy their time)."

MedicAsia's lensman recorded these pictures to give you some sampling of the work undertaken by the volunteers. We wish to thank the relevant people in Kota Tinggi, particularly Dr Salamah from the hospital and local ADUN Dato Halimah Sadique for their support and encouragement.

MedicAsia's next tour of duty will be in several Orang Asli villages in the Kota Tinggi/Mersing area.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Karim starts new treatment

REMEMBER Karim Sulaiman, former journalist who's now warded at the Dermatology ward of HKL for a skin ailment? Well, his wife Hawa sent me a text message a short while ago telling me of the latest development.

Firstly, she says THANK YOU to everyone who's been sending her messages and praying for Karim's well-being. Karim himself says THANK YOU to everyone for their kind wishes and warm regards.

Hawa revealed that Karim started a new routine on Monday when he was given what his wife termed as IVig treatment.

She said the treatment has been used overseas and there are cases of people suffering from scleromyxoedema showing positive response to this form of treatment. It is understood that HKL had used the same treatment on other patients with skin diseases and they too have shown some positive results.

But Hawa is a practical person. She said that it's too early to tell but everyone is hopeful that Karim would also respond well to treatment and get better. IVig is said to be very expensive but HKL told the couple not too worry about this.

Yesterday, Hawa went to Balai Berita in Jalan Bangsar to receive a cheque of RM14,000 from well-wishers organised by the MCA Complaints Bureau under Datuk Michael Chong. Hawa and Karim were touched when told that people from all walks of live donated to the fund set up by Chong.

Karim is on prolonged medical leave with full pay from his management at Harin Metro. He has been warded at HKL for almost a month now. Both patient and wife never ceased saying THANK YOU to everyone especially to the specialists and doctors and other staff who has made their stay pleasant besides giving them some hope of a cure for Karim's illness.

I suppose in life, we are grateful for little mercies. Hawa also reported that the couple's child who did well in the PMR exams last year have also been accepted as a student at the SM Sains Selangor in Cheras, which means the lass will join her two other siblings at the same residential college.

This piece of news certainly warms the hearts of the parents, whose dedication and parenting skills are showing early benefits. In the spirit of Ma'al Hijrah, let us wish Karim and family all the best in the new year - may all your wishes come true!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

When Rocky started blogging...

WHEN Rocky (Ahirudin Attan) started blogging, I dont think it was with any intention other than to try to continue to practice his trade, ie, to write, to report, to be a chronicler, to document.

He was a practicing journalist when he was writing for the print media for many years. And he saw that in blogging, he was able to continue sharpening his skills and utilising his considerable talents. He is, after all, a graduate of UiTM's School of Mass Communications and had served two newspaper groups before parading his prowes on the Net.

Soon after his few postings. I asked him whether he could earn a living by being a blogger. His response then was straight and simple: "No lah brother. It's the passion."

I suppose this is what drives many of us to jot down our thoughts and, wherever possible, share them with others. The fact that many people have their own blogs could mean that blogging is getting more popular. Judging from the many comments posted as a show of reaction to one's articles and essays, it can also be concluded that blogging is gaining acceptance as a way of communication between author and his audience.

Rocky's blog has certainly attracted much attention. One may agree or disagree with his views, or the views of those who post comments on his blog. That his blog has attracted a legal suit would mean that many others who had not known about his blog would now get to know about it.

Rocky, I assume, may not be unhappy about this part of the suit, judging from the many reactions he received. And he would certainly be encouraged by the show of support he had been receiving, not the least by declaration of funds to be made available to him by friendly parties and sympathisers.

While the news of a proposed fund for bloggers may not necessarily embolden all bloggers, guys like Rocky and Jeff Ooi would feel that they are certainly not alone in their court battle, if it comes to that. As in traditional media, journalists, commentators and writers are forever testing the limits of freedom of expression, a daily task that is often fraught with risks and potential danger.

I'm quite sure the entire blogging community worldwide will follow proceedings closely. And in the process, the country's administration of cyber laws will be deeply scrutinised and be put to a test like never before. More than just Rocky's and Jeff Ooi's freedom is at stake here!

I'll walk you to the courtroom Din.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Who's in charge of managing the floods?

LET'S talk politics for a while. While there's considerable interest in the Batu Talam by-election in Pahang where the BN candidate is expected to steamroll his Independent opponent, another kind of politics is taking place down south.

Yes, in the flood state of Johore. I'm talking about the politics of managing a disaster.

With so many statements being made by various Government leaders, promising so much help and support, one fact remains - we never really learned how to manage a disaster.

Who's really in charge of managing the floods? The Prime Minister? The Deputy Prime Minister? The Menteri Besar? The Armed Forces? The Police? The Welfare ministry? The National Disaster Committee? The whole Cabinet? The State EXCO? The MPs? The ADUNs?The volunteers? All of the above?


One needs only to listen to the voices of the makcik and hear the wail of hungry children and infants to realise that the flood victims have burning questions about their welfare. It's not so much as to have to sleep on mengkuang mats and eat nasi kawah that make these makcik and pakcik angry and hapless.

It's not knowing what their future will be! This is what makes the flood victims lose sleep, develop hypertension, feel depressed and hapless. They see their dreams washed away, swept by the strong currents of indifference and lack of urgency and direction in certain quarters.

Johore, which in recent months have been touted as the country's most promising state, has been proven to be so vulnerable. Heavy rain, non-stop rain, overflowing waters - these things are enough to cripple a whole state!

While it is very encouraging to see citizens rallying to offer food, clothings, blankets and money to help alleviate the suffering of the victims, no one has come out with a plan let alone a strategy to address the floods in the long term.

It's heartening to hear that money will be made available to help businessmen pick up the pieces. But can someone spell out the how? We hear statements by Government leaders to reduce red-tape so that aid can be dished out faster. That's all very good and heart-warming.

But spend some time among the victims and you'll hear whispers of cynicism and discontent. Mind you, these victims are grateful that they have hot food and warm clothings. But they speak increasingly loudly about not knowing where the flood waters will take them to the future.

It's time someone in the policy-making body "somewhere up there" take some time to figure out what is the solution to these floods, and how can the citizens rebuilt their lives and present a sunny future for their children.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Doctors need help from other doctors

THE two doctors who came back from Kota Tinggi gave me a quick briefing just before their flight to Kota Baru at 2305hrs yesterday. Tired but satisfied, Dr Rashidi and Dr Yazid gave a quick rundown of the situation there.

They met the local hospital authorities and toured several relief centres to get a fuller assessment. Helped by MedicAsia volunteers Mikaeel and Yus, a resident of Kota Tinggi, the doctors made these observations:

1 - The district hospital are stretched to the maximum, especially when their own staff are also affected by the flood.
2 - There is an urgent need for doctors who are familiar or specialising in family medicine, A&E (admission and emergency).
3 - Paediatricians are also needed since child care requires special skills and expertise
4 - The doctors are working round the clock and they need all possible assistance as fast as possible.

MedicAsia, with the support of Yayasan Salam and HUSM in Kelantan, is hopeful other doctors will come forward to help their colleagues who are doing everything possible to help the flood victims. Please mail me at or if any doctor is keen to join in this voluntary work. MedicAsia will facilitate your involvement as best as we can.

Individuals can also call Yayasan Salam at 03-79584021 if they wish to volunteer. Yayasan Salam have plenty of experience in disaster relief, especially having sent volunteers to tsunami areas such as Nias and Acheh, and earthquake spots such as Jogjakarta.

Volunteers are also needed to help children in relief centres. Since they can't go to school, these children have nothing to do and we are more than happy to help volunteers who can spare some time to be with them.

In this regard, knowledge company Warisan Global from Kuala Lumpur has agreed to spare MedicAsia a few of their staff who specialises in children activities to go down to Kota Tinggi and possibly Batu Pahat this week. I really appreciate the support and understanding of its CEO, Dash, a good friend who wasted no time in agreeing to help MedicAsia.

Meanwhile, UFL, a company specialising in the distribution of equipment for outdoor activities, have also offered some equipment for use by volunteers. I wish to thank its CEO, an old frined of mine, Radhakrishnan, who responded immediately upon getting my plea for help.

Why Kota Tinggi and Batu Pahat, you may ask. Well, they are the worst affected areas. Kota Tinggi, mind you, is now an island, having been cut off from the rest of Johor. Folks, please spread the word - the flood victims need you!

Remember these numbers and e mail addresses:

Yayasan Salam (03-79584021)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Karim Sulaiman continues tests

BED-RIDDEN former editor Karim Sulaiman was taken from his ward in Kuala Lumpur Hospital to Ampang Hospital today for some CT scan as he continues a series of tests for treatmentof his skin diseases.

Accompanied by his wife Hawa, Karim was taken in an ambulance this morning and is expected to be back in HKL the same day. The HKL skin specialist had already seen him where a series of x-days, blood tests and skin biopsies were done.

Even though these tests were done before, they need to be done again to get the latest results. Karim is in high spirit as friends join relatives to support him in his hour of need. Entertainment writer Adam Salleh have articles of him over the weekend in the Harian Metro. Let's continue our doa for Karim.

Wanted - doctors, nurses, volunteers!

TWO YOUNG doctors and a volunteer took a drive to Johor yesterday and sent a plea after getting to Kota Tinggi, one of the worst-hit flood areas. Mikaeel, who accompanied Dr Rashidi dan Dr Yazid, sent me a text message pleading for more help in flood relief work.

The three of them, representing non-governmental organisation MedicAsia, reached Kota Tinggi after a careful drive on the North-South Highway, followed by two boat rides courtesy of the Army. Bringing some medicines and a big desire to help the flood victims, the three young volunteers realised that they much to do.

The two doctors, for your information, took time off from their work at HUSM in Kelantan to join the on-going relief effort.

MedicAsia is calling medical doctors and those trained in healthcare to come forward and lend a hand. The NGO is also working with Yayasan Salam and members of the 4x4 club in providing relief to flood victims. The advantage of working with a small NGO is clear - decision making is fast. They are nimble and can move without too much hassle.

Those who wish to render their services can register here or e mail Please remember that is a voluntary exercise and not a tour of flooded areas. If you have some experience in disaster management, that will be an advantage.

Our fellow countrymen are in need of dire help. Let's lend them a hand.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Doctors and volunteers at work

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FRIENDS, have a look at these flood pictures. These were taken in Johor when a team of medical doctors from HUSM and volunteers from MedicAsia did their bit to ease the problems caused by the worst flood that hit the state.

The doctors undertook a series of health screening clinics in several villages, including an orang asli village, in Pagoh, to check if there was any outbreak of water-borne diseases. Luckily, there were none. But there were reports of hypertension, fungal infection and some respiratory infection.

MedicAsia will continue to send doctors to help monitor the situation in the flood affected areas. If you are a doctor, and wish to offer assistance and do some voluntary work, pl drop me a line. I'm sure your services will be appreciated.

MedicAsia is helping to facilitate medical doctors and paramedics to do health screening to help ensure no outbreak of water-borne diseases. Volunteers may stay between one and three days in the affected locations to operate mobile clinics.

As I said, take a close look at these pictures and you'll see why we need to lend a helping hand to these folks! These pictures were taken in the Kg Sentosa Orang Asli Village, Kg Tulang Gajah and Kg Jawa Lenga in the Pagoh/Muar areas.
Pictures by Hadi and Syawal. Click on images for enlargement.

Karim undergoes tests at HKL

SOON after lunch, Karim Sulaiman was taken by an ambulance from his home in Sri Gombak to Hospital Kuala Lumpur to begin another round of treatment for his skin ailment. Accompanied by his wife, Hawa, the former editor was wheeled into the Dermatology Dept of the hospital for full investigations.

Hawa, ever grateful, said she will accompany her husband in a First Class Ward at the hospital for the next few days. Two doctors saw Karim for a while today but he will come under closer examination from tomorrow. This is Karim's first examination in a Government hospital, having been seen by doctors from private hospitals in the last couple of years.

Let's pray that Karim's ailments can be treated well and, if possible, a cure be found. We are with you brother - hang in there!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Children brings cheer to Karim Sulaiman

HAWA, Karim Sulaiman's wife, sent me a text message a few days ago. Apart from wishing all of us Selamat Hari Raya Haji, Hawa gave an update of Karim's next appointment at Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

Karim's original appointment with the hospital's top dermatologist was Jan 8 but this has been pushed to Jan 10. Karim is looking forward to the appointment. Friends and former colleagues have been visiting him since news of his ailment spread in the last month or so.

Karim's ailment has caught the attention of the deputy minister of health. Datuk Dr Abdul Latif Ahmad, who keeps monitoring the former journalist's condition. The kind Dr Latif helped arranged an ambulance to fetch Karim from his house in Sri Gombak to be brought to the hospital

Hawa said the family requested for the postponement because she has to make arrangements to send one the couple's children to a boarding school nearby. Khair Najid, fourth in the family, is fortunate to have been accepted as a Form One student at Sekolah Menengah Sains Cheras. This will certainly encourage the lad to do well in his studies and do the parents proud.

But the family is not short of cheer. Their third child, Khairah Nazurah, brought more cheer when the PMR results were announced recently. She scored 8As in the Form Three examninations. She studies at the Sekolah Menengah Hillcrest but is now trying to get into Sekolah Menengah Sains Sri Putri at Jalan Maxwell.

Karim must surely be elated that his children are doing well in their studies. We pray that Karim's illness will be cured, and that some on-going medical research somewhere will lead to new discoveries to ease the man's burden.

For now, Karim is quite contended to have a very supportive wife who cares for him night and day; and children who knows the value of a good education and strive to be the best among their peers. Syabas kids! You sure light up the eyes of your parents! Alhamdulillah (Praise be to the Almighty).

Monday, January 1, 2007

Make your own luck in 2007

We have no time to lose, and having no time we must scramble for our chances. We are too poor to be late - Tagore's gitanjali

TWO days into the new year and Bob is already restless. He had a bad 2006. In fact, that's an understatement, he told me over teh tarik and kueh kodok. The year ended with much anxiety for the father of three.

I asked him what kind of a year is 2007 going to be? Happy and prosperous, as the cliche greetings on cards and text messages? Violent and brutal as in the past few years? Sad and miserable? What is his focus this year?

Bob's comments: "I've come to the stage in my life that only one thing matters - my own survival. That's all there is. I've gone passed the stage believing what the political masters say and promise. I'm my own man now. The system is not helping me, not helping small businessmen like me. From now onwards, I'm going to do what I have to do to keep my family intact and to keep me alive, period."

Bob spent the last two weeks of '06 trying to raise funds to keep his small business afloat. For several years, he tried to raise loans from banks. They all turned him down, saying that he has been blacklisted for loan default in the past.

"Yes, I did defaulted. But wait bro, I paid every single sen I owed to these creditors. I have documents as proof. But alas, the banking system in this country just refused to acknowledge that, refused to help a man with good projects to make good. Once you're blacklisted, that's it.

"Where do I go for funds then, you may ask. Ah Longs lah! If you ask me, it is the banks with their don't-take-risk attitude that help Ah Longs prosper. I know that banks give out loans at preferred rates to people with connections. But me, and others like me, sorry lah..they have no time for the small man.

"And if you ask me, is the Government doing anything? Sorry lah bro! Government is good at offering lip service only. Those lip service is not helping me when I was chased by the Ah Longs! I had to deal with it head on, and I'm very lucky to be around still," Bob poured his heart out.

Bob showed me documents to show that he has paid his debts to creditors who were responsible for him to be blacklisted. Maybe, there were weaknesses in his management team. I know he had some cash flow problems but i didn't realise the extent of his problems until he received threats to his life. He got out in the nick of time, enough for him to spend Hari Raya Haji with his family in peace.

The problem was so bad that he had to hide his family for several days. But friends rallied around him and he survived to tell the story.

Which raise this question - how are we reacting to challenges the new year brings? Will we be indifferent, or will we make a difference? Will be withdraw into our own cocoon or will we be more involved in the nation's growing process?

For instance, news of the worst-ever floods in Johor which saw more than 70,000 evacuated resulted in a rally between Government, corporates and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). It is a good feeling to see corporates, politicians and volunteers rallying to help, even though some of them did that more for the television crew and press photographers.

On the international stage, we were "treated" to made-for-tv execution of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Done on the eve of Hari Raya Haji, it didn't endear the executioners to Muslims all over the world. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad have some hard comments on this, if you see today's newspapers.

Some commentators angrily asked when will the perpetrators of the ethnic-cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina be made to go through the same justice system as Saddam. The world was promised much. But nothing much has really been delivered. Sounds familiar, Bob said cynically.

Looking deeper, Bob may be right after all. In the final analysis, it's every man on his own. Bob is going to make his own luck from now onwards..