A New Year - By Alex Yoong


A New Year - By Alex Yoong

Happy New Year to all, and I hope for most of you it turns out to be a good one. I would love to say “all of you” but that’s practically impossible. So for those of you that have a challenging one, I hope you come out of it as well as possible with lessons learnt and spirits intact.

This year I turn forty and I’m actually looking forward to it. Pretty much my entire adult life has been one of challenge (self imposed, so I can’t complain) with not enough time for growth and reflection. So I needed to try and change things up. The plans and processes I put in place a few years ago seem to be working well. The result is that I find myself in a place that allows certain luxuries that should make this year a fun one.

One of the luxuries was buying a new car. A Jaguar XKR to be exact. I saw it online and funnily enough knew the owner. He gave me a deal that I couldn’t say no to and it’s been a nice early birthday present to myself. You’ve got to survive the bad days, but it is equally important enjoy the good days when they come along.

I’ve been reading quite a bit during the holidays too and there are a couple of reads I have to recommend. One is a graphic novel called the Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew and the other is Marina Mahathir’s new book, Dancing on Thin ice which you can grab at Borders.

The Art of Charlie Chan is about Singapore and how it grew up from pre-World War 2 (when it was a British colony) to present day – along with all the difficulties of having Malaya as it’s parent for awhile. It’s a daring well-crafted piece of literature. It’s ground breaking and clearly a labour of love. It’s a world class graphic novel in my view and the author is Malaysian funnily enough. Not that you’ll get to see it sold here in Malaysia. But if you do make it down to Singapore, go ahead and grab one, it’s very good.

Marina Mahathir is best known as the daughter of our former Prime Minister, Tun Dato’ seri Mahathir bin Mohamad, but to just remember her for that would be a disservice to her. She is an amazing woman in her own right, a social-political activist writer that does regular columns mostly for the Star newspaper. This book is a collection of her articles and it’s been a real joy to read. She is clear and concise and cuttingly points out the issues that Malaysia face.

If you listened to our leaders, everything is absolutely fine here in Malaysia, but it’s clear that we, as a country, are going through severely tough times, with the plunging ringgit and racial tensions on the rise.

Marina not only points these problems out, but she offers constructive criticism and presents possible alternatives. Mind you this is not someone preaching she knows best, but someone thoughtfully questioning why we are in the position we now find ourselves in.

In a country where are leaders don’t even know what questions to ask, never mind the solutions, Marina is a shining example of critical thinking and she is definitely asking the right questions.

In my view, it’s required reading, especially if you’re Malaysian.