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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In memoriam: Dr Alias Mohd Yatim

You have to admit, Facebook does have its advantages. It was through this Internet application that I learnt of the death of Dr Alias Mohd Yatim albeit somewhat late. Dr Alias passed away on 28th July 2009.

Dr Alias was perhaps the longest serving chairman of my secondary school's Parent-Teacher Association. My father knew him quite well. When my sister was in school, both of them became quite close as they waited for their daughters to finish the day's schooling.

His eldest daughter is one year older than myself, and his youngest was the same age as my sister (14 years my junior). I know three of his daughters quite well. In fact, his second daughter Arni Aryani Sarlis was in my batch in school. His passing is most definitely a great loss to his family.

In my professional career, I have met him several times during academic seminars. He lectured at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) and more recently the Open University of Malaysia (OUM). I am sure his students will miss him dearly.

A childhood friend, Wong Chee Hong, would never miss visiting his home in Kulim during Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Dr Alias was always a father figure to the friends of his daughters. We are always welcomed to his home.

My only regret is that I came to know of his passing rather late. I was unable to pay my last respects. Nonetheless, I pray that his ruh will be placed amongst those who are promised paradise in the Hereafter. And to his family who mourn his passing, I pray that they would remain strong.


A poem: "A Man's Trail"

I found the following poem from an online source some years back, and read this as one of the capsules for Radio IKIM. To my mind, this is one of the most touching Islamic poems that I have ever come across. The poem was quite popular back then, and I am putting it up again as a reminder for us all. After all, we need to be reminded from time to time so as to not stray from the right path. (A special thanks to Alawiyah Ahmad for reminding me about this poem after all these years).

Note that the author of this poem goes by the name of Dee77. I believe the author is a Singaporean. If anyone has details about the author, do let me know. Thank you.


This is the story of an average human
From his story there is so much to learn

"I work through life working day and night
Let me tell you of my miserable plight
Before that, let me thank Allah Most Merciful too
That's why I'm sharing my story with you

From young I was told I had to be the best
I must learn to score for my exams and tests
I studied hard to be the top in class
So that my friends will respect me with all the fuss

In my youth days, I was actually insecure
So much temptations and many are impure
I prayed sparingly but it didn't help me
Why couldn't I feel that Allah was watching me?

I wanted to be the cream of the cake
I didn't allow myself to make a single mistake
I wanted more friends and also be praised
When I didn't get complimented, I felt so dazed
I began to doubt myself again and again
Was I not good enough or was I insane?
I was feeling inadequate for my lack of looks
Was I too fat, short, or did my smile give the spooks?
I learnt to dress up in trendy clothes bought from stores
I wanted people to look at me and say 'wow' in awe

I wanted to be adored, praised and be popular
Success to me is to be top scholar
I wanted to shower myself in fame
I also hoped to earn a big name
I studied hard and topped my school high
I believe that to make friends, success is a tool

Whenever I was with friends and my date was just beside
I felt the pressure to display my witty side
I'm afraid my friends would leave me if I'm not nice enough
So I bought them gifts and other good stuff
Branded clothes, car, intelligence and friends indeed
You may think I have all that I need
But I'm still unhappy inside and I don't even know why
Was I not good enough, too ugly or too shy?

At work, I pleased my boss to show him I was the best
I treated my colleagues lunch and sacrificed all my rest
I was afraid that my boss disliked me if I lazed about
In front of him, I did my best and tried to stand out
Then I climbed the corporate ladder and be my own boss
Finally, I was successful but I was still in a loss
I was cheerful outside but scared inside
I was not even sure what I'm doing is right

I looked around to see all my best friends
I wonder if they still like me if my wealth ends?
I cannot bear to face rejection or even fail
If I become poor and old, will my friendships be stale?
I work hard, but who am I trying to impress?
The fear of losing my reputation is causing me stress
I want friends to respect me forever and ever
I could imagine my friendship to sever

But alas! My business failed me terribly
I was down with illness and suffered painfully
All the people whom I thought were faithful friends
Left me because my status has no stands
I'm left alone and wonder whether it is true?
To make good friends, wealth matters too?

I looked at the side of my bed and saw the Qur'an
Guilt enveloped me because the Qur'an I have read none
Since I was alone and feeling so bored
I explored the Qur'an to know about Allah the Lord

True Muslims friends start to befriend me
It doesn't matter whoever I'll be
They accept me and love me despite my flaws
I don't have to make them like me by using force
I don't have to impress Allah with my witty charm
I already know Allah loves us and protects us from harm

With Allah's help, we can attain peace in self
So let's put doubt back in Satan's shelf
If there are problems with work and with men
Please remember that it's part of Allah's plan
Ask from Allah because He listens to us always
Allah will help us with His Kindness and Grace

I met a man who is unfortunately blind
He then advised me with words so kind
He said, 'Love yourself and be grateful for what you are
You owe it to Allah for coming this far

Allah loves us and makes us Muslims
But many people don't appreciate it, it seems
It doesn't matter if we're poor or earn less
Allah loves who we are and He cares
Don't do good deeds if you do it for show
Or else your spiritual status will sink below

If you're humble, do good deeds and pray to Allah Most Wise
You can earn yourself a place in Paradise
Good Muslims overcome worries and insecurity
They are unfazed even if they are treated with hostility

Why be a slave to affluence and glamour?
Why worry if we are not witty with humour?
Always be yourself, dear brother, have no pretence
Allah will still love you, even if you don't have any fans
Why be afraid, dear brother, when friends shun away
When Allah is there for you it's always that way.'

After the blind man left, my mind started working
I was still surprised and truth starts coming
It seems that I may be a boss or lying here poor
but good Muslims greet me with salaam, a smile and no fear

I kept wondering, what is success to me?
Is it about having friends, or earning a good degree?
I had all these and yet I was not satisfied
Could it be because that Allah was not on my side?

Then I realize that I have been foolish
My INSECURITY is the one that was my leash
Why was I ungrateful to Allah Most Great?
Allah's helping us all the way as Fate

Oh! I'm ashamed for being so proud
When my success was actually a passing cloud!
Now I realize my great big mistake
So I do more good deeds now with sincerity and no fake

Let's learn from this life and tread the virtuous road
Remember that this world is only a temporary abode
Now I live through my life devoted to the Islamic cause
And repent, so Allah will love me despite my flaws."

Remember true success is not about having lots of friends
In fact, it is about passing Allah's tests
Happiness is not about showing off your generous part
In fact, it's about the ATTITUDE of your heart

Say: 'I like who I am and I'm glad to be me
I love being a Muslim and Allah sets my heart free!
I can feel in my mind and in my little heart bone
I confess - with Allah around, I know I'm never alone'.

-Written by Dee77

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy birthday, Abah

Today is my father's 60th birthday. This entry is just a short note to say thank you for being there all these years.

Happy birthday, Abah. May happiness always come your way.

Friday, July 24, 2009

This amuses me

From time to time, I find something in the Internet that I find amusing. And the following is one of them...


I have come across many people who claim to practise professionalism when it comes to carrying out their duties. I often hear them say, "I will be professional when dealing with this matter" or "I can be professional about this" or "When it comes to work, I am a professional".

I truly and honestly wonder, when we mention the word "professional", do we really know what this word mean? More often than not, I find people misuse and misunderstood this word.

Some equate professionalism with power and superiority that come with a certain position. Some regard professionalism as a means to create castes and cliques in an organisation. To me, those with this myopic understanding does not understand the meaning of being a professional. Rather, they are confused between being professional and being bossy.

A professional is someone who is able to create a conducive working environment, and not someone who creates animosity, uneasiness and feuds, thus giving unnecessary headaches to the upper management.

A professional is someone who checks all the facts before making a conclusion. Even in the Quran, we are reminded that:
O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done.
[Al-Hujurat, 49: 6]

A professional is someone who is able to facilitate matters efficiently, effectively and promptly, He/she does not procrastinate or delay matters. As a matter of fact, he/she who is a professional would ensure that the matters need taking care of are expedited, and know how to prioritise.

A professional is someone who does what is said. He/she is a believer of action speaks louder than words, and not the other way around.

A professional is someone who does not feel threatened when there is someone better even if that person is lower in rank. He/she would instead treat this situation as an opportunity to learn and improve, rather than treating the situation as a threat.

A professional is someone who is able to take criticisms. In other words, a professional's ego does not dominate. After all, no one is perfect and flawless. Criticism is a part of continuous self-improvement.

Of course, this list can be longer. The reason why I listed the above is simply a reminder to myself and others. Do not simply claim to be a professional if we are unable to meet the above "requirements" so to speak. Personally, I have never claimed to be a professional. I find it odd to be saying the words, "I am a professional" because it sounds so egoistic and aloof. To me, let others judge your actions whether you are a professional or otherwise.

My concern in my line of work has always been to make things easy for others. That has always been the maxim in my working life, i.e. "memudahkan, jangan menyusahkan" as outlined by the following Hadith related by Ahmad:
Make things simple, and do not make things difficult. Give news that makes the heart happy, and not news that worries the heart. And one should obey, and not feud with others.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Body language

The first day of interview for Yayasan Ilmuwan ended at around 5 p.m. which saw 21 of the 34 candidates called for the interview attending. Today's interview was for the post of research executive. The candidates had to go through three stages of interview. The first was the personality test, followed by the writing test (to test the candidates' flair for writing in Malay and English) and the third was the face-to-face interview. Alhamdulillah, we found three candidates to be suitable for this post.

Anyway, the point that I would like to share here is the importance of body language when attending an interview. It is important for candidates to remember that their body language "show" a certain aspect of their character. Slouching, continuous scratching of the arm and fidgeting would easily be detected by interviewees. Admittedly some of these "movements" are done subconsciously. Having said that, I think it's always crucial that candidates be conscious with regard to their body language.

Just my two cents...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Aquaria: Trip 3

It has been a long while since I last took my family on an outing in Kuala Lumpur. Well, shopping doesn't count.

Last night, my eldest son Amir Husaini told me that he wanted to see fishes swimming in water. So, I decided to bring the family out to Aquaria. This would in fact be Husaini's third trip to Aquaria. The first visit was blogged here. As for my youngest son Ammar Qusyairi, this would be his second trip there.

There weren't that many people there compared to the previous visits. Husaini was of course excited with the various fishes and other marine life that he saw. He was particularly interested in the big fishes such as the sharks and manta rays.

Qusyairi on the other hand was more interested in the people getting excited with the exhibits. He wasn't paying much attention to the fishes, rather his attention was fixated to the excitement of other children.

All in all, I think the boys had a good time. I will take them there again when they are slightly older, so that they'll be able to appreciate the marine life better.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Choosing the best option

There are many times that we make choices that change our direction in life.

I had always wanted to be a doctor when I was schooling. But immediately after the SPM examination, I made the choice of going to Glasgow, rendering my early ambition null and void.

All the while when I was in Glasgow, I had always envisioned myself working for the oil company that sponsored me. But almost immediately after returning home, I changed my mind despite getting an offer to work in a chemistry laboratory. I chose instead to go into the academic world.

It has been 13 years since I made that decision. And during this period, I made other "crazy" decisions as well.

And all these have indeed changed my life for the better, alhamdulillah. While the choice that I made in 1996 did not seem to be logical, I can say that I have no regrets whatsoever despite many of my friends questioning my sanity for choosing the path I chose.

To those who have stood by my "crazy" decision those many years ago, including my family and my closest friends who have helped me to go through some difficult times back then, allow me to say thank you.

No doubt choosing what is best for us may be difficult. Often we do not want our decision to disappoint others. There are times when the choice seems to be paved with difficulties ahead.

But sometimes, we have to put ourselves first when deciding what is best for us. Choose, and leave the rest to Allah SWT, i.e. by observing tawakal. I am often reminded that it is better to make a wrong decision than not making one at all.

Back on tv

A year ago, as was blogged here and here, I was involved in the production of a documentary entitled "Rahsia Anatomi".

I had just been informed that the programme is now on air at 9 a.m. every Tuesday on TV1. The documentary has 13 episodes altogether.

I missed the first episode already as I was not informed earlier. Too bad I won't be able to watch the rest of the episodes as well as I'd be working.

Monday, July 13, 2009


What is it with people and their dislike for Mondays?

I noticed many of us complain when we get to Monday. Quite a number of us start Monday rather reluctantly.

Frankly, I don't believe this is a good attitude to have.

For me, I am grateful that I have been given another day to live. The fact that I get to start the week breathing is reason enough for me to be thankful.

If people say, "Oh, no. It's already Monday", I would say, "Alhamdulillah, it's Monday."

For that matter, I would say "alhamdulillah" for the other days of the week as well.

Pi joke

One of the things that intrigue me academically is the study of the history of the irrational number, pi. So, I find the following to be quite funny.I guess there is such a thing as a pi joke.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The search is on

I have to say that it is going to be quite a task to sift through the 400 or so applications that we have received up till the closing date (yesterday). Currently, the summary for the applications is being compiled, and the next step would be the shortlisting process.

I hope to have that done by Monday, so that we can fix the date for the interview by the third week of the month. Of course, this is just my wish but the final say belongs to the big boss.

I am aware that some of the applicants have stumbled upon this blog when they searched for Yayasan Ilmuwan. A note for all applicants, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for the interview.

If you are one of the lucky ones to be called for the interview, may I share the following advice:
  1. Be presentable, i.e. dress smartly.
  2. Be punctual.
  3. Bring all your original certificates.
  4. Equip yourself with general knowledge.
  5. Speak confidently but politely.
  6. Be honest. If you are not sure or you do not know something, just say so. It is unwise to try to guess or kelentong because that will only put you in a bad light.
All the above are of course common sense. Please be aware that we are looking for someone who not only possesses good grades, but also someone who has the potential to perform in carrying out his/her responsibilities.

As an aside, Yayasan Ilmuwan's website is now up and running at

Should you receive the call for the interview, I wish you all the very best.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Small but significant pointer: Don't let your words shout

In everything that we do, politeness is important. We have to be polite, not only when we speak, but also when we write.

Those familiar with netiquette would be aware that using capital letters is akin to shouting. Therefore, even when we communicate with others using e-mails or chat programmes, it is important that we do not use capital letters, because if we do, we give the impression that we are shouting to the other person.

Now, imagine that you are a jobhunter applying for a job. Would you write in your application using capital letters to the organisation or company with the job vacancy? I think common sense would dictate that we should not. Nevertheless, I have found one application with the following message:
Dear Mr/Mrs,



To me, the message is somewhat crude and sounds like shouting. And I am not even commenting on the grammar.

I believe it is important that jobhunters polish their letter-writing skills and know the basic of netiquette especially when applying online. Don't take the smallest of things for granted. Every letter in every word in every sentence of the application will draw the picture of the applicant and give prospective employers a certain degree of what to expect from the applicant.

Choose your words carefully. And present your words politely.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Two points to remember

I thought I wouldn't be blogging about how to apply for jobs anymore, and I guess I thought wrong.

Anyway, I would like to highlight two more points. These may seem trivial but they do carry weight if the prospective employer is particular. More so when the number of applicants is high.

Point number one, when sending in applications over e-mail, make sure that you apply to one employer at a time. Do not c.c. one application to several employers in one e-mail. One applicant actually did this when sending her application. Aside from Yayasan Ilmuwan, she also sent the same application to two other companies. The message in the e-mail is a generic message, something along the line of "applying for a suitable post".

My advice is to never do this. Send individual applications to the respective companies and organisations. Take the trouble to address individual company or organisation, and state the actual post that you are applying for. The applicant may be thinking that it is good to just c.c. one application to several companies and organisations, but the impression that the applicant gave is that he/she is lazy and just trying out his/her luck.

Even if you still want to send one application to several companies and organisations, please be smarter. Use blind carbon copy (b.c.c.) in your e-mail. This way, those receiving your application would not be aware of other applications. But still, one must state what position one is applying for. Bear in mind that the prospective employer has to sift through hundreds of applications for more than one position.

Point number two, when attaching files, make sure that the files are properly (and decently) named. Remember you are applying for a job, not writing an e-mail to a friend. Improperly and indecently named files will give the wrong impression to the prospective employer.

Like I said, these two points may seem insignificant, but they do give a certain impression to the companies and organisations that one is applying for. Always remember that there are hundreds of applicants applying for the same position. It is important to give out the right impression from the way we send in our applications. Otherwise, one would risk not being shortlisted for interview.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Final tip, hopefully: Be thorough

This is essentially an extension to what I wrote a few days ago.

It is important that we check and recheck any document that we want to send in order to ensure that there is no mistake. Surprisingly, quite a few applicants sent in their applications twice, and one actually sent the application thrice. When I compare the original submissions to the ones sent later, there are a few new information here and there added in the applicants' curriculum vitae. The impression that I get is that the applicants updated their information after the original submission, and reubmitted their applications.

Again, this highlights the applicants' lack of thoroughness in submitting their applications. Applicants should first update and check their curriculum vitae and all related documents before sending them in. When one resends the application, it is as if he or she was not thorough the first time.

And please, never ever do the following mistake. An applicant e-mailed in the application three times. The first submission had an attachment containing a curriculum vitae. The second submission contained a message saying that the first submission was erroneous because the curriculum vitae actually belonged to someone else, and hence the second e-mail contained the right attachment. The third submission had no messages whatsoever, and contained an attachment which in essence is the same as the second attachment. The only difference is the photograph in the last e-mail is different compared to the second one.

Now, if you were an employer looking for an employee, would you employ someone who is not careful, thorough and meticulous?

I think not.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Yet another pointer: Send appropriate photos

Thus far, we received close to 200 applications for the four vacancies that we have. One point that I feel I must emphasis is the need to send in an appropriate photo to accompany the application.

Most people would use passport-sized photographs which, to me, is the best thing to do. The passport-sized photographs are suitable for job applications. Some may argue that this kind of photos are formal and emotionless. But to me, if you are serious in applying for a professional position, then this kind of photographs is the best.

Having said that, I have noticed some applicants who send passport-sized photographs which show them wearing collarless t-shirts with writings on them. Unfortunately, such depiction give the impression that the applicants are not serious especially if they are applying for management positions.

There are also applicants who send photographs which have been cropped or photoshopped. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, but again please make sure that the photos are appropriate for the purpose of applying for jobs.

The reason I raise this is that there are applicants who send photos of them posing in a rather unsuitable manner. The first thing that came to my mind was, "Is this person applying for the position of a researcher, or is this person applying to become a model?"

The fact of the matter is photographs will project the applicants' image and will give the prospective employer the first impression of those applying for the vacant positions. Therefore, it is important to project the right first impression to the prospective employer.

Do a little bit of homework. Know the nature of business of the employer. Do not send casual photographs if the employer is looking for a serious and professional employee. The safest bet is to dress smart (no collarless t-shirts though) and take a passport-sized photograph.