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[back] Ramblings of A Blessed Malaysian Chew Bee Peng - 24 November 2007
11 November 2007

We celebrated Malaysia's 50th year independence on August 31st recently. How many of you were born in the year 1957 or were around to witness that significant event 50 years ago? If you were around then, you must have been a young Malayan, dressed in your starched trousers and best shirt, cycling to the Stadium Merdeka to witness the auspicious moment or trying to impress your girlfriend by bringing her to the Selangor Padang on the eve of August 31st to witness the lowering of the Union Jack. Deep in both of your hearts then, you would want to tell your children and later your grandchildren how both of you felt when the first shout of MERDEKA filled the air.

If you were a young female then, you would be dressed in your cheongsam or the baju kebaya with your hair perm bouffant style. Or maybe you were part of the entourage that traveled by train to the capital city to witness the event. As a new nation then, did you ever wonder how Malaysia will turn out 50 years down the road? Independence brings upon us the opportunity to determine our own destiny, how we want the nation to grow and how we want the world to perceive us.

Well, fifty years down the road, all of us still get very excited when Merdeka Day dawns upon us every year. We may not be at the Dataran Merdeka to celebrate but that proud feeling still creeps into many of us and I reckon that is a good sign. I am a post Merdeka child but I have been looking forward to the year 2007 and the celebrations since the end of 2006.

It is a good time to reflect on the achievements of Malaysia during the past fifty years. We have definitely grown - the number of skyscrapers, cars on the road and the numerous economic opportunities available. We are more comfortable now and our lifestyle has improved by leaps and bounds. Just take a look at our girth!! Primary healthcare is easily available to everyone and Malaysia is regarded as a role model by the World Health Organization. Is it a wonder, why Malaysia is regarded as a land of milk and honey by the foreigners from less developed countries?

Yet we continue to hear voices of discontent from many quarters. Maybe, the convergence of new technology in the form of emails, blogs and sms has brought these rumblings to the fore faster. Well, Malaysia may not be perfect but on reflection, it has been a good country to many of us. We should at the very least concentrate on the good points rather than the negative aspects.

While Malaysia celebrates its 50th year birthday, let us not forget that the MPDA turns 13 in September. The formation of the MPDA in 1994 was definitely not as dramatic as the birth of our nation, but it was equally significant to all Malaysians. For once, the country had an NGO who would assist the Parkinson's Disease patients by educating and providing them with the necessary support.

PD patients who had no idea as to what the disease was all about now have the necessary information provided by the MPDA. Knowledge, as they say empowers and enables one to take charge of one's life. It is a form of independence as PD patients are now able to address their problems better, decide on the choice of treatment and communicate their needs to their caregivers and doctors better. To this, we have to say thank you to our late Life President, Mr.Lloyd Tan and his team for braving the challenges to set up the MPDA.

(In an article written by a PD patient in USA, she said she was so relieved when she was finally diagnosed with PD. She thought that the stiffness, depression that she felt prior to diagnosis was part of a more serious illness. After the diagnosis and medication, she could just pack her bags to go on a trip anytime.)

Working on a very lean setup, the MPDA has achieved remarkable performances such as the setting up of the Parkinson's Center. This has been due to the support of the patients, the caregivers, volunteers, medical organizations and the media who has helped to highlight the efforts of the MPDA.

Thirteen years may seem a long time, but biologically, it is the start of the teenage years. The MPDA will enjoy her teens discovering new friends and interests but as with many teenagers, she will be faced with all the angst in life, obstacles and challenges will rain on her and she has to decide on the right direction to take. I would like to think that teamwork, a sense of unity and a strong and genuine desire to help the patients will see the MPDA mature to a graceful adult.

When the MPDA reaches adulthood, many of us will still be around to witness the special day. But the same can't be said when Malaysia celebrates her centennial year. To ensure that we did not missed out on this year's celebrations, Eva, Lisa and myself went down to Putrajaya on the eve of Merdeka to witness the fireworks display.

It was a brilliant display of lights and sound with columns of light spiraling up from the ground to the sky and bursting into colours of multi hues and ending with a mesmerizing display of showers of gold that filled the sky, befitting the nation's golden anniversary.

While the fireworks display was lovely, we had the opportunity to meet some nice people in Putrajaya. Arriving after 9 pm, we were practically lost as to how to get to the Putrajaya Convention Center, the venue for the display. The only information that we had, courtesy of Ms. Priscilla Patrick of Lite FM was to take a shuttle bus from the Boulevard in Putrajaya. Where was the Boulevard situated???

We decided to drive to a "Park and Ride" stand to seek more information. The stand that we drove to turned out to be a bus depot. The bus driver offered to take us to the bus stand where we could take the shuttle bus to the Convention Center but we were not sure as it was dark and there didn't seem to be any other passengers. Anyway, the three of us hope on to the bus and to our surprise there was a mak chik in the bus too.

After the display, we had to wait for a good 20 minutes before we got on to a jam packed bus that took us back to Putra Sentral. We had no idea as to how to make it back to the bas depot. It was 2 am and we asked a bus driver and he said that we could follow any buses back, only when they finished their shift at 3 am. Not wanting to wait, I went to the taxi stand, hoping to hail a taxi but there were more passengers than taxis. Suddenly the bus driver who spoke to us started his bus and told us to hop in and took us back to the depoh. We were the only three passengers in the bus.

I am not sure whether it was the Merdeka spirit or the fact that these two gentlemen drivers were being good hosts but it is good to know that when you are most in need of assistance, at a unfamiliar place and at a not very safe hour, there are good people around to help you and who did not ask for any favours. It reaffirms your faith in human kind after reading of all the horror stories that are published in the papers.

HAPPY 50th ANNIVERSARY MALAYSIA and HAPPY 13th BIRTHDAY MPDA.

May the stars continue to shine on both of you.

(The MPDA would like to hear from you as to how we can improve our services to the members. Have we met your expectations in terms of activities organized? What other facilities would you like to see at the Parkinson's Center? Write, email or call us and chit chat with us on your suggestions .)