Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Retirees come from a myriad of backgrounds. But one thing they have in common - an accumulated pool of financial resources to draw from by the time they turn 60. The size of this pool is determined by how much they have been saving during their working years and how well they have been managing their money.

Most new retirees can't wait to withdraw all their EPF (Employment Provident Fund) savings in one lump sum. They have made plans on what they intend to do with this pile of available funds in their hands. Here's a sampling:

Lavish wedding banquet - only if you can afford it
  • renovate the house
  • get a new car
  • invest in shares
  • pay for their son or daughter's wedding
  • start their own business, or help their son or daughter start their own business
  • put a down payment on a house for their son or daughter
  • sign up for a Rm8000 2-day course on how to make money
  • spend thousands on expensive holiday trips
The list is endless, and before they know it, these retirees are looking at their rapidly shrinking nest egg. We need to stretch our savings to last us for the next 20-30 years given that our life expectancy has risen to 76.

It's all about smart money management, as Mdm Koid Swee Lian, CEO of AKPK, told retirees at a special talk arranged for Seniorsaloud community last June. AKPK is an agency set up by Bank Negara Malaysia to help individuals take better control of their financial situation. 

Mdm Koid addressing members of Seniorsaloud community at AKPK headquarters.

Unless we have several golden geese that continue to lay golden eggs, we can't afford to help our grown children with huge sums of money. While it's fine to donate small amounts to charity, it's not okay to be paying for our adult children's housing mortage, post-graduate studies, car loans, and credit card debts. They are old enough to fund their own plans and pursuits.

Remember, retirement funds are for our retirement, and not for expensive weddings, luxury holidays, and children's tertiary education. As parents, we love our children, but loving them also means letting them learn self-reliance. We have heard too many stories of irresponsible adult children getting their parents involved in their debts. Some children become so used to parental support that they expect their parents to step in whenever they need an injection of funds. The financial aid has to stop once the children start earning.

It is also not okay for retirees to develop extravagant tastes just because our retirement savings make us feel rich and deserving of a 'better' lifestyle. The key words for retirees are 'Downsize' and 'Economize'. Move to a smaller house if you can't afford to maintain your current one. Switch to a smaller car that isn't a petrol-guzzler. Reduce club membership to just one. Limit your credit cards to one or two. Travel on a budget and trim shopping expenses. We can still live a comfortable life, and have fun and adventure without depleting our retirement savings.

If there is one single item that will swallow up all our hard-earned savings at one go, it has got to be medical expenses. Surgery, post-surgery rehabilitation, prescription drugs, medical treatment and procedures can cause severe haemorrhaging to our retirement piggy bank. We should opt for public hospitals and clinics. They are just as good if not better. Remember, many of us have elderly parents to support as well.

The smartest tip for retirees, in my humble opinion, is to invest in an active and healthy lifestyle. Look after your health. Adopt an exercise regime that is cheap and effective. Brisk walking is free. You don't have to spend a cent on taichi or qigong exercises done at home or in the park. Take up hobbies. Join clubs or groups that promote fun activities. 

Sign up for lifelong learning courses that don't cost a bomb. Look for senior discounts when you sign up for classes or tours. Extend your social network of friends of all ages. Make sure these friends have a positive influence on you. I can't think of anything more depressing than spending our precious time hanging out with friends who talk about nothing but their pains and aches, about growing old or about dying soon!

Let our motto be "Live a simple life without envy or regrets".

To find out more about smart money management tips for retirees, you can click on this link below:

Monday, January 28, 2013


This is one book I am definitely going to get my hands on, based on what I read about it in the New York Times. I am referring to '30 Lessons for Living' by Karl A. Pillemer, professor of human development at Cornell University and professor of gerontology in medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College and an internationally renowned gerontologist.

Some excerpts of interest from the book as taken from the New York Times article.

Advice from the elderly:

ON MARRIAGE A satisfying marriage that lasts a lifetime is more likely to result when partners are fundamentally similar and share the same basic values and goals. Although romantic love initially brings most couples together, what keeps them together is an abiding friendship, an ability to communicate, a willingness to give and take, and a commitment to the institution of marriage as well as to each other.

The most important thing is to be involved in a profession that you absolutely love, and that you look forward to going to work to every day. Although it can take a while to land that ideal job, you should not give up looking for one that makes you happy. Meanwhile, if you’re stuck in a bad job, try to make the most of it until you can move on. And keep in mind that a promotion may be flattering and lucrative but not worth it if it takes you away from what you most enjoy doing.

ON PARENTING The demands of modern life often have a negative effect on family life, especially when economic pursuits limit the time parents spend with their children. Most important is to spend more time with your children, even if you must sacrifice to do so. Share in their activities, and do things with them that interest them. Time spent together enables parents to detect budding problems and instill important values. While it’s normal to prefer one child over others, it is critical not to make comparisons and show favoritism. Discipline is important when needed, but physical punishment is rarely effective and can result in children who are aggressive and antisocial.

ON AGING “Embrace it. Don’t fight it. Growing older is both an attitude and a process,” an 80-year-old man said. The experts’ advice to the young: “Don’t waste your time worrying about getting old.” Most found that old age vastly exceeded their expectations. Even those with serious chronic illnesses enjoyed a sense of calm and contentment. A 92-year-old who can no longer do many of the things she once enjoyed said: “I think I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. Things that were important to me are no longer important, or not as important.” Another said, “Each decade, each age, has opportunities that weren’t actually there in the previous time.” 

Maintain social contacts. Avoid becoming isolated. When an invitation is issued, say yes. Take steps to stay engaged, and take advantage of opportunities to learn new things. Although many were initially reluctant, those who moved to a senior living community found more freedom to enjoy activities and relationships than they had before.
To those who worry about dying, these men and women said the best antidote is to plan for it: Get things organized, let others know your wishes, tidy up to minimize the burden on your heirs.

ON REGRETS “Always be honest” was the elders’ advice to avoid late-in-life remorse. Take advantage of opportunities and embrace new challenges. And travel more when you’re young rather than wait until the children are grown or you are retired. As Dr. Pillemer summarized the elders’ view, “Travel is so rewarding that it should take precedence over other things younger people spend money on.” Create a bucket list now and start whittling it down. 

ON HAPPINESS Almost to a person, the elders viewed happiness as a choice, not the result of how life treats you. A 75-year-old man said, “You are not responsible for all the things that happen to you, but you are completely in control of your attitude and your reactions to them.” An 84-year-old said, “Adopt a policy of being joyful.” The 90-year-old daughter of divorced parents who had lived a hardscrabble life said, “I learned to be grateful for what I have, and no longer bemoan what I don’t have or can’t do.” The elders saw life as too short to waste on pessimism, boredom and disillusionment.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Seniorsaloud regularly receives emails from people who write in asking us to recommend good daycare centres or nursing homes. Some of these emails come from senior citizens, but the majority are written by adult children concerned about their elderly parents living alone or left alone at home for much of the day.

The typical Asian family used to consist of several generations living under the same roof. In the 'ancestral home', there was always someone to look after the very young and the very old. Everything was shared - meals, household chores, even problems.

The Straits Times

Today we have the nuclear dual income family with both parents out the whole day working. So who looks after the young children? The maid. In homes where there is no maid, the children are packed off to daycare centres from morning till evening.

What about the elderly grandparents? If they are still fit and independent, they can help out with the children. What if they themselves need assistance with activities of daily living (ADL), and there is no one at home to fill this need?

The answer is daycare centres for the elderly. Unfortunately, a Google search shows a dearth of such centres in the Klang Valley. The few that exist do not have a schedule of daily activities. The elderly who are sent there spend the day sitting around with nothing to occupy them. They wait patiently for their daughter or son to pick them up after office hours.

On average, a daycare centre charges Rm70-100 a day, inclusive of lunch and tea. Given a choice, most elderly folks would rather remain in their own homes, in surroundings they are familiar with.

In countries like Japan, Korea and Singapore, an increasing number of the elderly are living alone. South Korea may have grown richer, but the traditional family with Confucian values is becoming fragmented. There are now 1.2 million elderly South Koreans, living - and dying - alone. This figure is set to rise as the percentage of the elderly is expected to grow from just 3.8 per cent in 1980 to 15.7 per cent in 2020 and to 24.3 per cent in 2030.

In Japan, the 2005 national census showed that one in 10 elderly men and one in four elderly women were living alone. The total in 2005 was 3.86 million, compared with 2.2 million a decade earlier.

From e-Monitoring Services
It's a similar situation in Singapore. The number of elderly citizens now will triple to 900,000 by 2030. The number of those living alone is likely to increase to 83,000 by the same year, up from 35,000 last year.

Adult children worry incessantly about their elderly parents living alone. What happens if they fall, faint or suffer a stroke? No one is there to help them. By the time someone finds out, it might be too late to offer any help.

National University of Singapore has come up with the e-Guardian, a special watch that can sense if the wearer (the elderly person) has fallen. It then starts in motion alerts to the base station and from there to other important contact numbers that are keyed into the e-Guardian SIM card.

Source: Straits Times

There are already several similar devices in the market. The question is - would the elderly be willing to embrace such new technology? If my 86-year old mother's response is anything to go by, the answer is No. She is suspicious of gadgets, says they are too expensive and she doesn't need them.

It would be a challenge to get the elderly to cooperate, even if it is often for their own good.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Thoughts are powerful. A thought is like a seed. Once planted in the mind, and given the right environment to grow, it will thrive and develop into something concrete. From thought to reality. When a thought is translated into action, and sustained through commitment and perseverance, it will bring you the results you want.

This applies to ageing too. We are all familiar with inspirational quotes on ageing.

~ None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.
~ How I feel about myself is more important than how I look.
~ When it comes to staying young, a mind-lift beats a face-lift any day.

It's not just about looking youthful at whatever age. More importantly, older adults who remain 'young-at-heart', who adopt a positive outlook on life are more likely to enjoy better health and longer life span. Ever wonder why some folks complain constantly of aches and pain, and seem to have endless health problems, while others remain active, healthy and happy even as they enter their 70s and beyond?

Keeping fit and active - positive age stereotypes.

The key lies in our beliefs. Positive beliefs produce positive outcomes. Negative beliefs produce negative outcomes. This is especially so when it comes to what psychologists call 'age stereotypes', that is, the beliefs people have about old age. This has an important effect on their health.

"When stereotypes are negative — when seniors are convinced becoming old means becoming useless, helpless or devalued — they are less likely to seek preventive medical care and die earlier, and more likely to suffer memory loss and poor physical functioning, a growing body of research shows.

When stereotypes are positive — when older adults view age as a time of wisdom, self-realization and satisfaction — results point in the other direction, toward a higher level of functioning." (Extract from 'Older People Become What They Think', New York Times. Click here to read the full article.)

More research to check out if you are interested:

It's time we changed how we view old age. If we embrace it positively, we will enjoy better health and longer life. If we continue to think negatively about growing old, we are likely to spend our old age feeling grouchy and bitter, and facing poor health.

“If you live to be one hundred, you’ve got it made. Very few people die past that age.” ~ George Burns

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Source: USA Today
I have been following the debate on gun control in America even before the horrific Sandy Hook incident where 20 first graders and six teachers were gunned down by Adam Lanza, a 20-year old former student of the school. He had shot and killed his mother before he went on a shooting rampage at the elementary school.

Since the incident, the debate on gun control has intensified, with both sides of the divide coming up with arguments to support their respective stand on the issue. Some of these arguments make absolutely no sense, if I may say so. Just go to Piers Morgan at CNN to listen to some of these debates.

Malaysia is a country with strict laws on gun possession. Under the Arms Act of 1960, no person is allowed to own or manufacture a gun without first applying for a license or permit.  The maximum penalty for illicit possession of firearms is up to 7 years prison and/or a fine of up to Rm10,000. There has been no mass shooting of innocent people by civilians. Gun homicide here is less than 0.5% per 100,000 people. Let's hope it remains that way.

Japan and the US are at the opposite ends of the list . Source: Washington Post

Coming from such a background, I find the data on gun ownership in the US alarming. US gun control laws are lax. Only 40% gun owners go through background checks before buying a gun. You can buy a gun easily at the thousands of gun stores or gun fairs in the country. Walmart, the world's largest retailer, sells guns, including assault weapons.

The data below is taken from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
  • The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world - an average of 88 per 100 people. 
  • There are 270 million guns in America in the hands of civilians.
  • In 2010, there were 11,422 homicides and 19,392 suicides involving guns.
  • In 2011, 59,208 people were wounded by guns.
  • Since the Sandy Hook shooting, there has been a spike in gun sales. 250,000 guns were purchased after the shooting as people feared stricter gun control laws would soon be enforced.
Although the figures have gone done slightly for last year, mass shootings seem to have increased, with 16 last year, including the movie theatre shooting in Aurora and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. In total, at least 88 people have died from these shootings in 2012. 

These are all scary numbers. Yet, each time the debate comes up, gun owners turn to the 2nd Amendment, citing their right to bear arms as enshrined in the constitution. They say they need guns to protect themselves and their loved ones, and for the sport of hunting. It is not surprising the National Rifle Association (NRA) boasts a membership of 4.2 million.

Why can't the NRA members see the sense
in supporting a ban on assault weapons?
What gun control advocates are asking for is not to take away the people's right to bear arms, but to ban only assault rifles such as the AR-15 which is the preferred weapon used by the perpetrators. Some of these weapons can fire 400 rounds in a minute. Why the need to own such a weapon of mass destruction? Isn't a hand gun sufficient for self-protection?

Imagine a scenario where some gun owners are so paranoid about the need to defend themselves that they carry concealed guns into cinemas, shopping malls, stadiums. At the slightest alarm or provocation, who is to say a nervous gun owner would not whip out his gun and start shooting at perceived attackers and hurt innocent bystanders? Imagine living in a society where people live in fear of being attacked or shot at, and have to carry a gun to protect themselves? When will this paranoia end?

Source: The Atlantic Wire

President Obama yesterday signed 23 executive orders to curb gun violence. You can view the full list here. New York is the first state to take legislative action to strengthen gun laws. It would be an uphill task to get support from all states, and to get the proposals (see below) passed into law by Congress.

Screen capture from CNN news on Channel 511 last night

Why should this controversy over gun control be of any interest or relevance to non-US citizens? What does it matter to them whether or not Americans have the right to own military-type assault weapons?

It matters because we are living in an inter-connected world. Some of us have children studying in the US, some have offices and businesses there, and some go there regularly for a holiday. According to the US Department of Commerce, in 2010, 60 million international visitors traveled to the U.S., generating more than $134 billion in revenue and a $32 billion trade surplus.

The US is a great country with so much to offer visitors. We want to be able to visit the US and know that we can travel freely without fear of being gunned down, whether accidentally or intentionally.

In 2011 on my first trip to Las Vegas, one of the first things I saw at the arrival hall of McCarran airport was this giant poster of a smiling woman proudly holding a semi-automatic with the invitation to 'Try One'.

Welcome to the US - it's the wild wild west even today.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Some of the apps on my mobile
Seniorsaloud is mentioned in today's New Sunday Times write-up on "App-Charged Assistance", about how smart phone applications can help to connect communities and provide much-needed assistance. You can click here to read the NST article which containS excerpts from the original email interview reproduced below.

1. Can you briefly describe your role as an advocate in the senior citizens space and the administrator of the Seniors Aloud community?

I started SeniorsAloud in May 2008 as a community blog in response to what I saw as a need for senior citizens to share their views, experiences and concerns. Retirement can be filled with daunting challenges and major adjustments in lifestyle. Who can best understand seniors and help them with their problems than other seniors?

Over the years as the online community grew, there were requests for opportunities to meet up and network. So in January 2012, Seniorsaloud started organizing activities on a regular basis with the focus on lifelong learning and active living. We organized seminars and workshops to help seniors prepare for their retirement, so they can look forward to their golden years with confidence and anticipation.

Seniors love the iPad (Pic: AARP)
2. What are the main challenges and issues that you face as a senior citizen?  Are there any challenges you face in particular in being a senior citizen in Malaysia?

As a group, senior citizens are often sidelined and attention paid to us only as an afterthought. When you no longer have earning capacity, you lose not only self-esteem but also respect from society at large. Public perception of older people is mostly negative. It is a challenge we face daily – how to get society to regard us as still productive and still able to contribute in terms of sharing our wealth of experience and expertise.

We have a long list of needs that have not been adequately addressed. Lack of financial security is the biggest concern, particularly for senior citizens from the middle income group. They face age discrimination in the job market. Without a steady income, they have difficulty getting bank loans to start a business. There are also health concerns and rising medical expenses that are not covered by insurance because of their age.

Although our population is ageing, our society is still very much youth-centered. Our cities and public places are not age-friendly. Public transport must be improved to cater to the special needs of the elderly. More hospitals and assisted living facilities must be built to meet the growing number of elderly people who require nursing care.

Senior citizens also find themselves quite lost in this fast-paced world of technology. Many of them are computer illiterate and clueless about how to use electronic gadgets like smart phones. To them, a tablet is a pill that you take when you are not feeling well. They know What’s Up, but not What’s App. The only applications they are familiar with are job applications.

But who is there to teach them the basics? Certainly not their busy adult children. It’s easier to look up zumba classes for mothers-to-be than IT classes for senior citizens.

Most useful app for Singaporeans needing
eldercare services developed under
the Community Health Assist Scheme
(Pic: Straits Times)
3. Do you think mobile apps can help you resolve some of these issues?  If so, what are the sort of Malaysian mobile apps you would like to see in relation to your area of advocacy / interest i.e. better living for senior citizens.  In short, what is your Malaysian mobile apps wishlist as a senior citizen in Malaysia OR what sort of mobile apps for senior citizens in Malaysia would you like to see developed as part of this challenge? 


There are already plenty of health and medical apps. Here’s my wish list for other apps, in no particular order.

Apps to do the following:

Access different genres of music from past eras e.g. 1950s to 1970s - classical, pop, instrumentals, religious, evergreens, etc
Search for senior discounts or the lowest prices for travel, movies, meals, classes, books, fares, medicines, assistive devices, etc
Connect with the neighborhood community e.g. Mont Kiara residents can organize car pools as many senior citizens don’t drive anymore, look for ‘kakis’ or companions to play mahjong, golf or tennis, go for a concert or join a tour. The app would also be great for posting announcements and sharing news.
Translate languages, especially useful for retirees who are still active and love to travel. A language equivalent of a currency convertor.
Provide first-aid tips, housekeeping guide, DIY manuals, and home safety precautions. An increasing number of older adults live alone. Many also take on the roles of caring for their aged parents and looking after their grandchildren. Such an app would serve as a useful resource in case of home emergencies.
Provide a comprehensive listing of senior citizens’ clubs, nursing homes, welfare homes, retirement homes, daycare centers for the elderly, support groups for caregivers, dialysis centers, healthcare NGOs, hospitals, community clinics, etc. A directory with such information is urgently needed.
List companies and businesses that offer home services e.g. catering, housekeeping, healthcare and physiotherapy, delivery of groceries, pet grooming, haircuts, manicures and pedicures, gardening, etc. Many of the elderly in their 70s and 80s are either housebound or wheelchair-bound. They need all the outside help they can get to assist them with their daily living activities.
Find out fares, routes and schedules for buses and trains. Also maps and directions. Senior citizens depend a lot on public transport.
Plan their budget, shopping, keep track of expenses, utilities, bills to be paid, etc.
Remind / Alert seniors about important birthdays, deadlines, expiry dates, medication times, appointments, health screenings, etc.
Help locate personal items. Elderly folks often forget where they left their spectacles, book, keys, wallet, etc, even where they parked the car!

(Apps developer who would like to work with Seniorsaloud on any of the above apps, please get in touch with Seniorsaloud at

Friday, January 11, 2013


These days it's with some trepidation that I read the morning papers. Why so? I dread reading yet again about another round of goodies given out by our government.

I have nothing against the government playing philanthropist when it comes to helping the poor, the needy and the less fortunate. Indeed these groups should be helped. But when rebates and handouts are being dished out so freely to folks who don't really need them, especially when they didn't even ask for the goodies in the first place, we can't help but view this generosity as an attempt at vote-buying.

Most youths already have mobile phones, and many have smart phones. What is the rationale behind giving this RM200 rebate? It would make more sense if the rebate was for youths who do not yet own a mobile phone. 

The Straits Times of Singapore in an article today put the government's total handouts to be distributed from January to March this year at nearly RM4 billion! That's not counting the billions already given out last year in 2012. And not discounting more handouts in the weeks leading up to the General Elections due to be held anytime from now till June.

Here's the breakdown (from ST):

Rebates, vouchers and handouts for ALL ages


RM300 million Youth Communication Package for 1.5 million young people aged 21 to 30 to get a RM200 rebate each on smartphones sold by selected service providers. 


RM3 billion 1Malaysia People's Assistance Fund 2.0 (BR1M 2.0) to benefit 4.3 million households and 2.7 million singles. Households earning RM3,000 monthly or less get RM500 each, while singles aged 21 or more and earning less than RM2,000 will get RM250.

  • RM325 million 1Malaysia Book Vouchers for 1.3 million public and private higher education students at RM250 per person.
  • RM224 million 1Malaysia Contribution for Veterans Without Pension for 224,000 military veterans at RM1,000 each to be distributed
Source: Malaysiakini
According to the 2011 Auditor-General’s report, our national debt stands at a whopping RM456.12 billion! At the rate the government is splurging on handouts, vouchers and bonuses, our country will soon go the way of Greece, and will require a massive bailout to staunch the fiscal haemorrhage. 

There are stories going around about where the government is dipping its hands into for funds. Whether the stories are mere rumours or not, retirees like me do not want to wake up one day to learn that our retirement savings have been siphoned off without our permission to boost the public image of the government.

Public-listed companies have CFOs and COOs to caution their CEOs to be prudent about spending. CEOs are answerable to the Board of Directors and to the shareholders. Who will take the PM aside and remind him of his real responsibilities to the people? 

Christmas is over. There's no need to play Santa Claus anymore. Please.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


If you could see only one movie in 2013, you have to make it 'Forks Over Knives'. It could change your life forever. It could even save your life!

As the title implies, the documentary's central theme focuses on why we should choose a diet of plant-based foods over meat and dairy products.
It offers convincing data to back this up, including the landmark The China Study, a 20-year collaboration between Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. It is the largest study ever done to examine the correlation between health and diet. The findings showed that people who followed a diet rich in animal-based foods were at risk of more chronic diseases, while those on a mostly plant-based diet were the healthiest.

The film also traces the personal journeys of Professor T.Colin Campbell, 78, (above left) a renowned nutritional scientist from Cornell University, and Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, 79, a former top surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. These doctors are a picture of robust health and boundless energy!

No longer McDonald's top poster boy!
If you are currently on an animal-based diet, consider seriously making a switch to a plant-based diet. Bill Clinton did and look at the results. After undergoing two heart procedures, he switched from a fast food, meat-rich diet to a vegan diet. Not only is he looking fitter and healthier, he looks much younger and more handsome! (Click here to read the New York Times interview with Clinton.)

Note how doctors would always advise their patients who are obese, diabetic or have heart problems, to cut down on meat, diary products, and processed foods. They should increase their intake of whole foods and commit to a regime of daily exercise.

I am a pescatarian - as far as possible I avoid eating meat except for seafood. I haven't had a steak, chicken chop or pork cutlet since 2008. I don't get tempted when I see my friends tuck into stick after stick of satay, although I must confess I still like to dip my ketupat rice into the peanut sauce.

I also avoid milk whenever I can. In July 2009 I wrote an article "Is Drinking Milk Udder Nonsense?" I had just attended an Anthony Robbins seminar. He was advocating that we stopped drinking milk for health reasons. That was contradictory to what I had been taught all my life, that milk is good for us, and especially good for children.

I decided to check out the validity of his statement. The more I read, the more sense it made to me that mother's breast milk is best for babies, and cow's milk best for calves, not human babies.

Just think about all the hormones that are injected into the cows. No wonder breast cancer is more prevalent in the west than in Asia. Unfortunately, with the fast food industry making giant inroads into China and Japan in the past decade, meat-based diets are gaining popularity among Asians, and the result of that is reflected in higher incidence of heart disease and cancer in these countries now.

The documentary also dispels fears that people who follow a plant-based, diary-free diet are weak, small in stature, and prone to fractures. We need protein to grow and build muscles, and calcium to build strong bones. Well, the documentary provides compelling evidence to prove that these 'beliefs' are myths. Eating more meat, drinking more milk and consuming more fast food puts your health at risk. Sure, it contributes billions to the meat-based food industries and businesses. It is in the interest of these companies to perpetuate the myths, and for people to buy into these myths.

(Above) Famous celebrity vegans. (Below from left) Anthony Robbins, Hugh Jackman, Carl Lewis

Here's the official trailer for 'Forks Over Knives'. Hope it motivates you to check out the film, as it did for me.

Go see the film before it ends its run here in Kuala Lumpur. It's currently being screened at Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) in Pavilion, 1-Utama and Mid-Valley. Check the papers or the website for screening times. I was the only patron in the cinema when I saw the film at Pavilion. What a shame! This documentary is an eye-opener and life-saver. It deserves to be viewed by everyone and should be screened in schools, public libraries and community centres. The message it carries is too important to just keep to yourself.

So spread the word, and live the message.

After you have viewed the documentary, you can better follow this post-screening panel discussion below.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


No plastic bags. Bring your own bag. Go Green. (The Star)
This little story has been making the rounds on the internet. If it hasn't reached you yet, here it is, with images added. Enjoy!

Being Green

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

Cloth diapers hanging out to dry
We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

I used to go to school in a trishaw much
like this one till I learnt to cycle in 1960.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?