Thursday, December 26, 2019


The UN refers to people aged 60 and above as Older Persons. World Health Organisation uses the term 'older people'. Are these terms of reference preferable to 'senior citizens' or 'the elderly'? What is your opinion?

When I started this blog in May 2008, I had dozens of names in mind for the blog. Unfortunately all of them were already taken. In frustration I gave it one final attempt with 'SeniorsAloud'. The name had popped into my mind at that last minute. To my surprise, it was available and accepted.

I call this my 'passion card', rather than my business card or name card.
Both my daughters didn't like the name at all. They probably felt that with a name like SeniorsAloud, the blog would appeal only to old people. Of course, I went on the defensive. What did they mean by 'old'? I was about to turn 60 at the time, and didn't feel at all a day over 40! Neither was I frail, and definitely nowhere close to being senile. I am 71 now, still far from decrepit although admittedly my knees are starting to creak.

Let me ask my readers, do the words 'senior citizen' conjure up an image of a frail, wrinkly person bent over a walking stick or stuck in a wheelchair, suffering from hearing loss, poor vision and a host of chronic diseases like Alzheimer's? I have good friends who would cringe with horror at being referred to as a senior citizen, even though they are 60+ and retired. To them, that's as good as sounding the death knell!

Do you agree with these categories by age?
The problem with labels is they are generic. 'Old' people are painted with the same brush, and in the same grey colour. But there are so many different shades and hues of grey. If the 60+ are not quite ready to be called old, how then would you address them? In academic research old age can be divided into three stages: young old (55–65 years of age), middle old (66–85), and old old (85 and older). But that's chronological age, not biological age. I know of people who at 75 can outrun a 35 year old!

What other terms of reference do we have? The pre-war and post-war generations? Equally cumbersome and inadequate. Baby boomers? Well, we are long past our baby-producing age. How about 'perennials'? That is more fitting for trees and vegetation. And 'evergreens'? That sounds desperate, like trying too hard to remain young.
Some of our SeniorsAloud members at a photo shoot for The Star.
Quite often the media is guilty of mislabeling. "Elderly man victim of snatch thief", says one headline. You read the news report and find that the victim was only 63 years of age. Obviously the reporter had not heard that 60 is the new 40, and that people aged between 60 and 69 are called sexagenarians because they are still sexy and far from being over the hill and ready to be put out to pasture! But young reporters are incapable of making that age distinction. To those in their 20s, 63 is practically ancient, ready to be mummified and put on display in the museum.

So until we come up with more appropriate labels, I suppose we will have to forgive the young for addressing us as 'old' or 'elderly'. It could be worse, like describing us as cranky and smelling of mothballs and dead fish!

Which goes to show that it is an uphill battle to change the negative perception most people have of senior citizens. But change we must, and change must begin with us. We need to think positively of our age and of ourselves, because if we don't, we cannot expect others to view senior citizens as still active, healthy, productive, capable, wise, experienced, fun-loving, adventurous and bold. All the positives. In other words, we need to change the narrative of ageing and make 60+ truly the 'golden years' to look forward to.

For our Facebook followers, you will have noticed our postings of some really amazing and inspiring seniors who have defied the old image of ageing. From our own SeniorsAloud community, we have scores of members who look great, and are both physically and mentally in top form. Some of them are featured in our 2020 calendar and in the Star Lifestyle supplement dated 13 Dec 2019.

SeniorsAloud team - our ages range from 60 to 75. We aim to change public perception of ageing.
Postscript:The original article (above with minor revision) was written in 2011. Almost nine years have passed and I am glad to report that SeniorsAloud has grown in numbers and in outreach. We have gained a solid reputation for our noteworthy community initiatives.

What is my wish for the new year 2020? Well, I have always wanted to have a column in the newspaper to write about topics and issues of interest and relevance to senior citizens. If that ever happened, it would be a dream come true for me. Maybe I would call it 'Silver Threads'. It would also be a channel to share information and personal insights on matters that involve this demographic. There is growing interest in the field of ageing.

Other than writing letters to the newspapers, we make use of social media platforms e.g. facebook, to make our voices heard on a host of issues that affect us, including healthcare, cost of living, public transport, affordable housing, re-employment, age-friendly public facilities, retirement planning and end-of-life issues. At the same time, SeniorsAloud continues to promote active living as we believe that is the most effective way to enjoy longevity in good health.

Saturday, November 30, 2019


My mother first showed signs of Alzheimer's Disease probably as early as 2008. She was 82 then. She couldn't remember dates, places and names of family members. She didn't know one day from another, and forgot what she just had for dinner or where she had left her purse.

That was 11 years ago. I had not heard of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) then. Like most people with elderly parents at home, I took these signs as part of the normal ageing process. It was commonly accepted that people turned senile (nyanyok) in their old age, so I wasn't too concerned about it.

My mom would repeatedly ask the same questions even though I had just given the answers. It was almost impossible to hold a simple conversation with her. Her attention would drift off to some distant places in her memory. It was as if a mist had clouded the clarity of the moment. She was there with me but yet not there. I didn't know then how to handle such a situation.

It took a fall at home and hip surgery for my mom before I learned about Alzheimer's. During the ten days my mom was in hospital, her doctor noticed signs of the disease in her behaviour. He suggested I take her to see a geriatrician for a proper examination. A visit to see a geriatrician at UMMC Specialist Hospital and some tests later confirmed my mom had AD.

Thus began my interest in reading up as much as I could about AD. In December 2013, I signed up for an online course on Living with Dementia: Impact on Individuals, Caregivers, Communities and Societies offered by Johns Hopkins University. In 2015, my passion to learn more about AD took me to Hogeweyk, the world's first dementia village in Amsterdam. In 2017, I enrolled for MSc in Applied Gerontology at NTU, Singapore. At 69, I was the oldest in the pioneer class. I attended numerous conferences to learn about the latest developments in AD research and treatment. As my mom's primary caregiver, I wanted to know how to better care for her. At the same time I could learn how to avoid ending up with AD. As a blogger and founder of a seniors' community, I could share what I have learned with others.

The statistics for Alzheimer's are alarming. According to the World Health Organisation Report (WHO) 2019, there are currently 50 million persons with dementia (PWDs). This number is expected to increase to over 150 million in 2050. The World Health Organisation (WHO) 2014 report put the number of people in Malaysia with dementia in 2015 at 123,000. This number was projected to be 261,000 by 2030 and would continue to increase to 590,000 people in 2050.

What's the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's Disease?

I have frequently been asked this question. Put simply, dementia is an umbrella term for a host of diseases that affect the normal functioning of the brain. Depending on which part of the brain is affected, diseases associated with dementia include Alzheimer's Disease, vascular dementia, Lewy bodies (DLB) and frontotemporal dementia. The most common of these is Alzheimer's Disease which affects mostly the elderly. However, early onset dementia affecting adults in their 40s and 50s is on the rise.

Is Alzheimer's Disease hereditary?

This is the golden question for me. My mom has AD. I believe my great grandmother had it too. When I was growing up in the 1950s I recall seeing her playing with a baby doll, and treating it as if it were her own child. Another time I saw her packing a few personal belongings in a sarong, and telling the family she was going to take a trishaw 'home', meaning China. These incidents are etched in my memory. I have at least four members in my extended family who were diagnosed with dementia (AD) in their final years.

Like my mom, one of my aunts also showed signs of behavioural changes in her old age. She would accuse everyone of conspiracy, of hiding her passport and stealing her money. All not true, of course. But when she told me so-and-so had stolen her valuables, I believed her. It was only later when she was diagnosed with AD that everything she said and did began to make sense.

Does that put me at risk? Yes, but at risk does not mean 100% or even 30% certainty. I may or may not develop AD. There are preventive measures I can take to reduce the risks, such as exercises and activities that promote brain health and cognitive functioning.

I am very forgetful. Is this a sign of early Alzheimer's Disease?

All of us are forgetful, some more than others. How often have we forgotten where we parked our car, the name of someone we have just been introduced to, or the lyrics of songs we used to sing? We refer to these lapses of memory as 'senior moments'. Red flags of AD include repeatedly forgetting recent events and confusion in retrieving them. This Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or lapses in short-term memory may signal early Alzheimer's. Over time as the disease progresses, these memory lapses can potentially have serious consequences. My mom would forget to turn off the gas completely after cooking, forget to lock the front door when she left the house, or forget whether she had taken her medication. The latter could have resulted in a drug overdose. My mom also had mood swings, an obsession with collecting tissue paper and was prone to wandering around the house at wee hours of the morning.

My mom still enjoys browsing through newspapers and magazines. I bought this book for her in the hope the images would stir up fond memories.
We often read in the papers of a missing elderly who later turned out to have forgotten how to get home. There are no statistics on the number of such cases in Malaysia. The Japan Times (June 2019) reported that a record 16,927 dementia patients in Japan went missing in 2018. Alarming indeed. Do not leave an elderly unaccompanied especially in an unfamiliar place e.g. a busy hospital or a noisy mall. My mom had on several occasions stopped midway to our neighbourhood supermarket, unsure whether she was heading in the right direction despite having walked there countless times before. Confusion with directions is common in PWDs.

Can Alzheimer's be prevented?

Thanks to Google and the efforts of the Alzheimer's Disease Foundation of Malaysia (ADFM) over the years to educate the public, we now know more about AD. Not everyone develops the disease in their old age. There are people in their 80s and 90s whose minds continue to remain sharp. 

At present there is no cure for AD. Prescribed medicines for AD can only slow down the progress of the disease. Most of the drugs, e.g. memantine, have side effects. AD is a degenerative disease that can span many years, ultimately ending in death. I have watched my mom slowly change from a lively chatty woman to a shadow of her former self. After suffering a mini-stroke in February 2019, she has lost her ability to speak, and her memory has almost completely left her. She does not know who I am nor does she even ask. She sits in total silence, in a world of her own where no one can enter.

When my mom was discharged from hospital after her second surgery, she was prescribed expensive drugs by one doctor after another. After several years of seeing little improvement in my mom, and on the advice of a doctor friend, I decided to stop all the medication. My mom has been mostly drug-free since. She turned 93 in October 2019, still has a hearty appetite and sleeps well. That is good enough for me.

Preventive steps for dementia do not cost much money. Follow a regular exercise regime and adopt a healthy diet. Monitor your sugar level, blood pressure and weight. Keep your brain actively engaged with mental stimulation such as learning a new language or a new skill. Travelling broadens the mind, so go on trips whenever you can. Finally, build a network of close friends and avoid social isolation.

What preventive measures do I take?

As I am at higher risk than others of getting Alzheimer's, I make sure I stay active physically and mentally. I have always been active, interested in and curious about a lot of things. I read a lot, especially on ageing-related issues. I write a lot too. Curating for news and events to share on Facebook keeps me mentally busy daily. These activities stimulate the brain. That is why I enrolled for my second masters degree. I also took up singing, line dancing and learned to play the ukulele. Memorizing lyrics, dance steps and ukulele chords helps to stimulate my brain cells. I have been attending courses offered by the University of the Third Age (U3A) since 2011. Lifelong learning keeps the brain well-oiled and the social connections I make will hopefully keep AD at bay. 'Never too old to learn new things' has become my mantra for living life with a positive mindset.

KLSings' VoxPop choir performing at ADFM's 'Let's Talk About Alzheimer's' in conjunction with World Alzheimer's Day in September 2019.
If you are curious to know whether you or a family member has early AD, you could try taking the Mini-Mental State Examnation (MMSE). It is a popular test for cognitive functioning, and includes tests on memory recall, language and focus. There is even a Malay version. The scores will provide an indication of whether the person has any cognitive impairment. As it is only a simple diagnostic test, it should be followed up with a visit to the geriatrician for a full examination. 

Drop by at ADFM community corner at Wisma Atria, PJ, to find out more about AD. There are weekly group activities there for PWDs (persons with dementia) and their caregivers.

Thursday, October 31, 2019


Sometimes one can't help but wonder whether our city fathers and policy-makers consider the special needs of older people when they make decisions on improving the city's infrastructure and public facilities. Do they study the demographics when they brainstorm at meetings?

Admittedly there have been some improvement over the past few years, but there is still much more that City Hall can do to make Kuala Lumpur an age-friendly city. Taiping has just been picked for the first stage of the Age-Friendly Pilot Project financed with a grant of RM1.1million from UNDP. The project will be based on World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. Perhaps KL can take a cue from the project.

Here are some suggestions on how City Hall as well as the private sector (and also city dwellers in general) can make it easier for older people to move around in the city, and enjoy a day out on their own or with friends.


I gave up driving about 20 years ago, and have been relying mostly on public transport to get around. So my grouses here are mostly about the state of our public transport system. Thank goodness the days of the pink mini-buses and their wannabe F1 drivers are gone.

SeniorsAloud used to run a weekly facebook post on Fridays to highlight shoddy public works, poor maintenance culture and lack of age-friendly facilities. We took hundreds of photos and posted many of them as evidence. Glad that there has been much improvement since then. 
It took years but public transport has improved tremendously with the introduction of air-conditioned buses and trains that run on schedule most of the time. There are now free shuttle buses serving Kuala Lumpur city centre and Petaling Jaya township. Senior citizens aged 60 and above enjoy 50% off all fares. Kudos to the Ministry of Transport for these improvements. When we make enough noise, they listen. (Click here to read some of our previous complaints).

All kinds of notices and advertisements, but no information on bus routes
However, information about bus routes is not easily available. Many senior commuters have no clue what buses to take to reach their destinations. They are not internet-savvy, so we can't expect them to go online to check for information. The design of buses leave much to be desired for the elderly who find the steps too high for them to board easily. Only a handful of buses offer wheelchair access. No wonder we hardly see any OKU out on their own in the city.

Facilities at LRT/MRT and monorail stations have improved, but stairs like the above can be challenging for the elderly. Not all stations have escalators and lifts, and not all are always in working condition.
Just looking at the stairs is exhausting to an elderly. But how
else to cross the busy road to Ampang LRT station if not by this overhead bridge?


A challenge for the elderly to cross busy Jalan Ampang at KLCC. KL drivers and motorcyclists are not known for their patience.
The timing device at pedestrian crossings covering more than three lanes should be calibrated to give enough time for the elderly to make it safely across. An example is the Jalan Ampang crossing at KLCC/AvenueK. Is a 23-second time gap sufficient for the elderly and parents with young children to reach the opposite side safely? The elderly will have to cross busy roads at their own risk.

Evidence of poor planning and poor maintenance. The narrow sidewalk does not allow strollers or wheelchair access.


Only squat toilets at this premier department store, and no grab bars. A challenge for older women with knee problems to use these restrooms. 
Incontinence is a common problem for most senior citizens. Is it any wonder that they prefer to stay at home than go out to crowded places where the public toilets are either in short supply or in a filthy state? There is also the problem of long lines at the ladies restrooms. There is no priority queuing for elderly ladies. And while on the subject of public loos, how is it possible that one of the biggest departmental stores in the country does NOT have seated toilets in their restrooms? Don't they know that the elderly can't squat because of knee problems?


No benches to rest tired feet for the elderly while waiting for their e-hailing cabs or while waiting for their family members to finish their shopping.
Seniors enjoy walking around in shopping malls. The sights and sounds are a source of wonder and amazement to them, especially if they are visiting from the smaller towns. Unfortunately, the lack of facilities for wheelchair access, long lines at washrooms, and few rest areas make an outing to the mall an ordeal for the less abled elderly.

Educating the public about respecting the elderly is also important. How many young people will give up their seats on the train for a senior citizen, an OKU or a pregnant woman? Would older people be given priority in boarding buses?

The rush to board the bus. Gets worse during peak evening hours. The elderly get crushed by eager young men who push their way through. 

Credit must be given to govt buildings and banks that have special lanes or counters to serve the warga emas. We are also seeing more outdoor gyms for senior citizens and safer walkways and lanes for pedestrians. Let's hope for more improvements to follow.

The award for the worst design for bus stops goes to KLCC! No bus information boards, and these 'seats' are meant for perching on or leaning against, not for sitting and waiting for the bus. Most age-unfriendly!

For those interested in knowing what constitutes an age-friendly city, here is WHO's checklist of what an age-friendly city should be and should have. How does Kuala Lumpur fare?

Monday, September 30, 2019


The other day I dug up my favourite pair of jeans from the cupboard. It has been a number of years since I last wore them. To my horror, I had to struggle to zip up. What used to be a snug fit was now a tight fit. I knew I was in trouble when the bathroom scales read 56.4 kg.

My ideal weight is 50kg-52 kg. Anything beyond that means I haven't been physically active enough. Or overeating especially on carbs. Since the surgery to remove a lump in my right thigh, I have been guilty of easing off somewhat on my daily exercise regime. I am still nursing a swollen knee from fluid retention.

I do a lot of walking as I don't drive and rely mostly on public transport to get around. But when I am at home and sitting down at the computer, I tend to get carried away. I have to set the kitchen timer to buzz after an hour to remind myself it's time to get up, stretch and do something else before getting back to work at my computer.

We must admit that many of our daily activities involve sitting down, often for hours on end: working at the pc, reading, watching TV, listening to music, attending meetings/seminars, chatting with friends over tea or meals, sittting in buses, trains, even waiting...  Before we know it, we are several kilos heavier than we would like to be.

Thanks to years of going to the gym, running and yoga exercises back in the 1980s and 90s, I have managed to keep obesity at bay. I was a member of Fitness International in the 1980s before I switched to Fitness First. In total I was a gym regular for close to 15 years. I often put in hours on the treadmill and was crazy about aerobics. My daughter Belle even drew a caricature of me as a fitness fanatic on my t-shirt. I am glad I laid a foundation of regular exercise in my younger days. Never too early (or too late) to build up muscle strength, cardio fitness and joint flexibility. But it is a constant challenge to maintain a healthy weight.

I have always enjoyed running, but not competitive running, as I do not want to stress myself out too much with regular training, dieting and the constant need to improve on my best time. The runs I sign up for are usually short ones between 5km to 8km. As age starts creeping up on me, I have opted more for walkathons and jogging.

Source: Mayo Clinic
Nothing like brisk walking at our age to shed off those extra kilos, and give the heart a good workout at the same time. The good doctor says we should aim for 10,000 steps a day. Some days I fall short. But I tell myself a few thousand steps is better than a few hundred. Brisk walking is the simplest, cheapest and easiest exercise. Some women can spend hours walking the floors in the mall. However, that does not constitute brisk walking. It doesn't do anything for your heart. Nordic walking is arguably the best type of walking as it gives you a total body workout with the aid of the poles.
Ministry of Health, Malaysia
Exercising is one way to reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart diseases and cancers that plague older people. If you loathe going to the gym, and don't fancy jogging, hiking or playing tennis, I highly recommend investing in a set of stretch bands that are colour-coded for different levels of resistance. A complete set costs around RM50 or more depending on the quality of the bands.

If you are the type that abhor the exercises mentioned above, you can do gardening, fixing things around the house, or helping with the housework. Just don't be sedentary. Move those muscles and flex those joints. Muscle loss leads to frailty in old age, and stiff joints limit movement. That is something all of us want to avoid.

(Above): A comparison of three healthy plates. They have a lot in common. Sensible advice about making healthy choices. But knowing is one thing, applying is another. A healthier choice of nasi lemak, for example, is to have brown rice instead of the traditional white rice cooked in coconut milk, and add more kangkong or more slices of cucumber. As far as I know, the Ministry of Health has yet to promote this.

What we eat is as important as exercise. There are 101 diets out there, from the vegan diet to the keto diet and intermittent fasting as well. I have not tried any of them, but based on what I have learned from reading up on the diet of centenarians, almost all share similarities in that they eat in moderation, are vegetarians, and favour whole foods to processed foods. Sounds simple, but could be a tough act for most to follow. By the way, none of these centenarians are obese or even overweight, and they are all still active. It's also very important to cut down on our salt and sugar intake, especially the latter. When I see the long queues of young people at bubble tea outlets, I wonder if they are aware that consuming such sweet drinks will ultimately affect their health, resulting in obesity and diabetes.

Like most mothers and grandmothers, I hate to see waste but I also hate to see my waist expanding. I have a bad habit of finishing off any leftovers on my grandchildren's plates or leftovers in the pantry and fridge.The kilos have started to pile up, and the unwanted flab here and there doesn't make for a pleasant sight. Trying on clothes in the fitting room and seeing the reflection in the mirror is a reality check and a wake-up call.

It's a constant struggle to maintain good health. But we owe it to ourselves and our families to take responsibility for our health, to be aware of what is good for us, and what is not. I am sure none of us want to spend our retirement years struggling with pain and hefty medical bills.

Saturday, August 31, 2019


As Malaysia celebrates its 62nd independence day, it is time again to ask ourselves how far have we travelled on the road towards one nation, one people. When my former high school friends and I got together recently, we bemoaned how racially divided our schools have become, and how we wish for those good old days in the 1960s when we studied together, played together and ate together without any issues.

Today I would like to share an article from my blog archives. The message is still relevant today, perhaps even more so.

"Racial prejudice and religious bigotry have always been with us. We find it hard to talk about these topics in a cross cultural environment for fear of our emotions. Some of us would deny these things existed and would rather go into self-denial than grapple with this insidious moral and social disease in our midst. The problem unless we admit it, can balloon out of proportions. It has all the hallmarks of a major mental epidemic. We as a group who have been exposed to global cultures and have experienced first hand of these evils should help contain them from rearing up their ugly heads in our society.

It is convenient to put the blame for this prejudice and bigotry as part of the legacy of the former colonial masters. However, the reality is that much of this prejudice and bigotry is of our own making and enforced by interested parties driven by the fear-based environment. These parties need to perpetuate the prejudice and bigotry to exist, because these whether real, perceived or invented are the reasons that justify the existence of these extreme chauvinistic groups.

As a member of the endangered species, what is of concern to me is to see a more stark polarization of races in our schools and institutions of higher learning. This polarization opens the door to prejudice and bigotry amongst the various races. One group would have a sense of superiority from believing that they are members of some elitist group that is superior to others.

Unfortunately the adults at home and the mass media give support to re-enforce this sort of thinking. It is common amongst certain groups of society to believe that they are the chosen ones over the others. They refuse to recognize the worth and contributions of others.

There are enough examples of an artificial importance being placed on everyday happenings reported in the mass media. With a journalistic twist and inflection it could make it appear racial. When young riders are involved with a fight with another rider, all of the same race, it does not make news. But if one rider is beaten up and happens to be of another race, the media dresses the story up in a way that will sell fear and in so doing perpetuate racism and racial hatred. We are being re-enforced through the media, that the respective colors of the skin are more important than the crime itself.

Religious bigotry may well have been the most common form of bigotry for much of the world’s history. In parts of the world people are being persecuted to no end not just because they are of another ethnic group but of another religion as well. We read about these happenings daily in the papers.

Religious bigotry manifests itself as a holier-than-thou attitude towards others. Religious bigots have in their heads the idea that those belonging to their religious group will be saved and the rest will go to hell. They firmly believe that they and they only have a special connection with the Almighty that others lack. This in turn leads them to think that they only have His special favors and others do not.

In my jagged career path, I had occasions to visit countries where people of different religions live together and in so far as ethnicity goes, there are no physical differences between them. They speak the same language. They share a common origin and one would not be able to tell the difference from a member of one religious group from another on the street outside the mode of dress. The only difference is religion, and due to religious bigotry, they are willing to kill each other.

In the more sophisticated societies there are more subtle means of persecution than physical violence resulting from religious bigotry --- character assassinations, harassment of members of religious minorities and the people associated with them. Other members of religious minorities find themselves in the position of an outsider.

Now let us take the racial prejudices and religious bigotry on to the global scale. To these we add to the mix the concept of political correctness which has been in vogue in the last decade. We then have a new category called the ‘Axis of Evil’ which political correctness has been established to eliminate. In reality political correctness needs the ‘Axis of Evil’ so that the ‘Hate Crime’ Industry can continue to exist. Attempts to artificially combat hate, racism and terrorism have created ‘Hate Industries’ in themselves which focus on an attempt to control others. Those who are highlighting the inequality of discrimination are being called religious extremists, or worst still, terrorists.

In a multi-racial, multi-religious nation like ours, where the practice of the religion and culture of one’s choice is protected by the Constitution, there is no reason for any kind of race prejudice and religious bigotry. All of us wish to achieve the same ends, the enlightenment of the soul and well-being of mankind. These ends can be achieved, all the so much easier if there is mutual understanding, trust, respect and to practice what is universally accepted – kindness to others.

With a multi-cultural, racial and religious mix we have all the ingredients of potential social hotspots in the country. We recognize that social conflicts are inevitable, but there are strategies if we care to sit down and work them out for their resolution or at least minimize or divert them before they become unmanageable. It is important that we recognize potential hotspots as we are dealing with human lives, their jobs and their children.

There are enough hotspot indicators which we should take cognizance of. Every day we open the dailies, our computers or turn on the TV, we get reports of street demonstrations, strong public statements airing disagreements. We see increasing lack of respect for Heads of Institutions. There is open disagreement regardless of issues.

For too long we have backed away from displaying the dark side of our social problems, preferring to sweep them under the carpet. What can we do as a group to offer for avoiding and or resolving conflicts which affect our daily lives and the future of the young generation? Institutions of Higher Learning could be roped in, if they have not yet been harnessed, to help gather and analyze data and information on socio-economic matters so that honest discussions and recommendations could be made for a sound apolitical management decisions on the concerns of the people.

At the same time, acceptance and recognition of our diversity through the use of the mass media are conducive to dialogue among the various races, cultures and beliefs, promoting respect and understanding for each other. Our cultural diversity is an asset. It has intrinsic value for development as well as social cohesion and peace. Harnessing our diversity could be the driving force for development not only in respect of economic growth but also of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life.

Have a re-look at the linguistic dimension for our national development. Should we not encourage our young to be multi-lingual which would give them an edge for an appropriate and harmonious use of language in our society? Furthermore, language is of strategic importance for us. Educators amongst you will agree that acquiring languages offer unique modes of thinking and expression which can be an asset to a multi-racial society such as ours."

~ Excerpt from a keynote address given by the late Tan Sri Ani Arope in 2009 ~

( I first posted the above on SeniorsAloud blog in 2009 with the late Tan Sri Ani Arope's permission. Today, as the nation celebrates its 62nd Hari Merdaka, I am reposting it as a reminder that we are all one people, one nation, with one vision - to work together for the progress and prosperity of our country so that we can all live in peace and harmony.)

2010 - With my students at Wawasan Open University. Diversity in ethnicity enriches the learning experience.