I was born in Ipoh in 1971. My parents moved to PJ in 1976, but we continued to make many balik kampung trips, so I have lived some of Lat’s “Kampung Boy” and “Town Boy”.
I had excellent teachers at Methodist Primary School and a great education at La Salle PJ (thank yous, some posthumous, to Puan Maimon, Mrs Murugesu, Mrs Cheah, Tiger Thong, Mrs Chan, Mrs LC Choong, Mr Clement, Mr Rex Michael …..). I learnt discipline and diligence at MPS and acceptance and a broader view at La Salle, a melting pot of ethnic groups and social classes – the No 1 student of my year was in my class, so was the barely-literate last. I wish my children would be able to have a similar education, but that’s a pipe-dream after years of education policy mismanagement.
I have “done well” in the conventional sense, winning two scholarships for study in the UK (for which I am grateful to the University of Warwick and the British government), having lots of paper qualifications (a first-class honours B Sc degree from Warwick, a Cambridge MBA and the CFA charter) and a career which involved jetting around the world business-class and being whisked around Stockholm, Milan, London and New York in chauffeured cars.
Malaysia is my home, and has been home for my family ever since my great-grand father boarded a ship from China. I am third-generation born in Malaysia, which makes my roots deeper than some very senior UMNO politicians. My grandfather, my grandmother, my mother and all my parents’ siblings were teachers or civil servants contributing to nation-building while some of today’s bumiputeras were still growing up in Indonesia.
My family tries to practise low impact living. We do our best to minimise plastic usage – we use our own containers to “ta pau” food and take plastic bags to the pasar malam, we recycle where we can and make compost at home (which is a modest 2-storey terrace), I drive a diesel car (and continue to yearn for better-quality diesel), … but I’m far from a pleasure-denying ascetic. I enjoy teh tarik, canai and daun pisang, sambal belacan, ayam masak merah and nasi kerabu, and yes …. siew yok and wine .. my musical tastes range from AC/DC to Ramli Sarip, Search, Jackson Browne and Theresa Teng …. My guitar heros include Bala, Julian Mokhtar and Angus Young …
Everything in moderation is my philosophy … and I wish all of us can get together AGAIN and ENJOY Malaysia’s diversity rather than just tolerate the differences. “AGAIN”, because my childhood fun included so many birthday parties in so many homes with everyone eating and playing without thought of immaterial differences.