Tag Archives: Others

Just Say No

Feeling overwhelmed by an “out-of-control” schedule? Maybe it’s time you learned to say “No.” If other people see you as a person who will agree to anything, you will constantly end up being the first one they ask when they need a volunteer. There’s always some new project at school or work that needs doing and it’s easy to feel obligated to step in and help, particularly when you don’t think anybody else is doing it.

The trouble is, most people who do all the work are the ones who have the least free time to help. And that’s not healthy for anyone. We shouldn’t ignore our own well-being in order to please others. Sometimes the only way to unclutter an overly-cluttered schedule is to learn that magical little word, “No.” Then stick to it, even if they try to make you feel guilty. As one wise friend used to say, “If they have the nerve to ask, I have the nerve to say no.”


Do you want to die?

euthanasia2I ask my young son the question to urge him to avoid recklessness, heed caution and guard his life – look before crossing the road; don’t stand behind stationary vehicles because the driver may not be aware that you’re there; don’t play with fire; and the list goes on…

The question is now asked as a matter of intellectual and public debate, as the topic of euthanasia makes headline news. I took an elective course on this while at university – (ahem…) some years ago. Although equally contentious then, it was at least clearly an issue of morals and ethics.

Today, it’s all about personal autonomy – the right of an individual to choose what he or she wants. This must, I think, be the curse of modernization. When medical science is limited, resources are underdeveloped and people are fighting for mere survival, no one even thinks of the possibility to legalize suicide.

The bottom-line: Let’s help those who want to die, die.

In my opinion, that’s what it is. It’s even termed “assisted suicide”.

Whether it should be…

  • determined beforehand while one is still “legally competent” (e.g., through an Advanced Medical Directive);
  • an expected service of healthcare professionals (“assisted dying”) or loving gesture of family members (e.g., through a “living will” or a “Power of Attorney”);
  • done through an act of commission (active euthanasia) and not just omission (passive euthanasia, e.g., physician-assisted suicide);
  • intentional and deliberated without any change of mind (possibly leading to involuntary euthanasia) or subject to situational variables that allow a patient to revoke his dying wishes (voluntary euthanasia);

… these are just the technicalities.

The Right to Live – and to Die?

It’s one thing to assert the human right to live; it’s uncannily strange to insist on the right to die. In a similar vein, have you noticed how your spirit quickens when you hear of a person who has cheated Death – such as the recent testimony of Suzanne Chin (“I Have Been Blessed with a Second Chance”, The Straits Times, Mar 24, 2013) – or fought a good fight for his/her life albeit unsuccessfully? We celebrate martyrs who live – and die – for a cause. In contrast, there’s nothing very noble about a person who simply wishes to die and gives in to Death.

I’ll leave the legalities to our Chief Justice, Sundaresh Menon, who wrote a good piece about the various arguments and theories involved, and the very “slippery slope” concerning this issue. (“Assisted Dying: A matter of life and death”, The Straits Times, Mar 24, 2013). For the man/woman on the street, it boils down to that timeless question we all face one day: What is the purpose of life?

Life – and Death – Matters.

For those of us who believe in a higher-order Creator who brought the universe into being, the sanctity of human life is undisputed. If we did not have the liberty to dictate our birth, why do we now think we can “play God” and self-determine our death?

I will unabashedly admit that more than death itself, I fear pain – and the agony inflicted on your loved ones who have to witness your suffering but are helpless to do anything. Thus I pray that when my time comes to leave the earth, it will be swift and straightforward. But that does not mean I want to decide when that “time” would be.

Life is complicated enough without unnecessarily complicating life-and-death matters. Instead of focusing the debate on how to die “well” (which is as subjective as living “well”), we should focus our energies on how to adequately provide available means of care and improved pain relief – so that no one would ever have to feel the need to consider an early death.

The Legacy of a Man of Honor and Courage

20 April 2004 – a Tuesday like any other day for most, if not all, Singaporeans. But that Tuesday did not end like any other day.

Construction was going on at the Kallang stretch of the Circle Line but at about 3.30pm, several supporting structures holding up a stretch of the underground tunnel began to collapse. The surface above started to cave in, bringing tons of soil and whatever that was on it, into the hole.

Thankfully, most of the workers were having their tea break and out of the tunnel at that time. However, there was a team of 8 foreign workers who were working deep in the hole. If not for their foreman, they would all have perished.

According to eyewitnesses’ accounts, Mr Heng Yeow Peow, affectionately known as “Ah Heng” to his colleagues, risked his life as he rushed to where his team of workers were and hurried them out to safety. By his heroic and selfless action, those 8 men were spared death that day.

Heng did not make it out of that tunnel. He was trapped as the tunnel collapsed. He never saw another dawn, or the faces of his beloved wife, Sally and his two children. Neither was his body recovered despite 4 days of rescue efforts.

According to a Channel News Asia documentary, “The Spirit of Singapore”, which was first aired last year, those 8 colleagues who lived to tell their stories described “Ah Heng” as a selfless man of courage, who put their lives before his own. Finally after 7 years and with tears in their eyes, they laid a memorial stone over a grass patch where they thought Heng was buried.

Heng’s wife and children remember him as a brave man who sacrificed himself for others. They testify that he was a dutiful man, a loving husband and a doting father who had always taken care of the family, loved them and protected them. He died the way as he had lived. He left a legacy of honor and courage for his loved ones.

This hero of the Heng family inspires me!

I too want to leave a legacy of honor and courage for my children. While many things in life are uncertain, death is not. My short journey on earth gives me little time to waste – what will matter to my wife, my children, and my friends are not the many material things that I can give to them, but the amount of time I spend to sow love into their lives.

The thought is easy but the journey is full of challenges. The demands of life are plenty and they compete for the time that I have. These demands all seem to be legitimate and necessary.  That is why I need the courage to make a choice. I choose to do my best to be

  • An honorable husband, always leading, loving, giving due respect to my wife and honoring our marriage bed and the vow that I made to her on our wedding day.
  • A courageous husband, always protecting my wife from all harm, to correct her when she is wrong, and to accept corrections when I am wrong.
  • An honorable father, always being there for each of my children as they go through pains in life, to love them even when no other would and to take all the responsibilities of fatherhood.
  • A courageous father, standing up to immoral and unrighteous values that tempt my children and showing them the right way by personal example.

This is the legacy I will leave for my loved ones.

This week’s guest writer is Steven Chan. Joyfully married to his wife Michelle for more than 30 years, he is blessed with two daughters and a son and gifted with a son-in-law.

Authored a book, Eight Keys to Family Power and writes weekly on two blogs: Great Lovers Make a Great Marriage http://begreatlovers.blogspot.com and Blessed to Bless Others http://stevenptl.blogpsot.com

Make a Difference

Last year, I had an opportunity to help deliver sofas donated by V.Hive to five needy families in Singapore.  Being rather new to Singapore at the time, I initially thought my colleagues and I would be going to a “poor neighborhood” somewhere in the corner of Singapore. So it was to my disappointment that our first stop was in a normal HDB block, not too far from the center of town and not unlike the one I am staying in. That day, I met five wonderful families whom I would have never known they were struggling otherwise.

It served as a reminder to always be sensitive to the community that I live in. It also opened my eyes to the growing need of families in Singapore who struggle financially. Unfortunately the new reality here is that a lot of families are struggling to make ends meet. With the rising costs of living and the housing crunch, they are facing some new challenges. Although it’s tempting to shift both the blame and responsibilities to the government, I believe ordinary people like us can make a tremendous impact on our community.

Just last week, I saw V.Hive featured in the Straits Times for their generous work. Michael Song, the director of V.Hive has donated over 350 household items since 2007. That’s one great way to contribute to your community and an example of someone who puts his words into action. I hope I can learn from him and put this sentiment into action as well.

Others may contribute through different expressions such as volunteering time (as a family) to visit or help another family in need in practical ways like coaching their children in their studies or playing a sport with them. That is also one excellent way to expose the more fortunate children to the harsh realities of the needy and underprivileged in Singapore.

So this year, I want to make it my goal to be sensitive to those around me and to impact a family or an individual in some way, shape or form. It is my hope that doing so will make an impact, big or small, in someone’s life.

Accepting Change, Embracing Technology and Setting Boundaries

I remember the day my parents finally caved in and bought me my first Nintendo Gameboy. I had begged them for a good two years to get me one and I was one of the last kids on the block to have it. My parents were a tad bit more conservative than average parents and they were convinced video games would turn me into a menace to society. Thankfully for my parents, that didn’t happen and I ended up owning several video game consoles during the course of my childhood. Despite the fears that my parents had, they accepted that times were changing and in order for me to be relevant to my peers, they needed to overcome their fears. Now, I wonder if I will be able to overcome similar fears when I become a parent.

I am 23 now and it’s not an uncommon sight to see toddlers still in their strollers with the latest iPad. Every time I see this, a tad bit of fear (and jealousy!) creeps in and I say to myself, “That is ridiculous, I will never get an iPad for my child.” A recent study by a non-profit group called Common Sense Media found that roughly 1 in 5 parents said they give their 2 to 4-year-old children electronic devices to keep them occupied while running errands. In fact, developers are finding tons of profit in apps specifically targeted at babies and toddlers. Technologies are making inroads into our educational system as well. Remember doing a research paper without using the Internet? That’s almost unheard of today. Internet, laptops, multimedia projectors, online textbooks and e-learning software have replaced the “old-fashioned” way of learning.

 So, whether I like it or not, these changes are here to stay and if I want my children to be relevant in the times that they live in, it is my job to set proper boundaries when it comes to technologies in the household without depriving them of it. There is a plethora of studies that found that television exposure at a very young age is detrimental to the development of a child’s focusing ability. Also, over reliance on gadgets to keep your child occupied, can have a similar detrimental effect. At the same time, however, children are finding it easier than ever to learn physics, math and chemistry with the powerful tools technologies have to offer.

So, here is my question. How can we give our children a variety of tools to learn from, but at the same time not let those things dominate, especially when they are young? Can parents play an active role in their child’s education and development?

A word from FOTFS in-house counselor Tan Soh Hiang

“Certainly, parents can play an active part. Recognizing both the benefits and banes of technology, parents can intentionally and only select those gadgets that are suitable and age appropriate for their children.  The intention should not be to show off or to catch up with the latest gadgets but think ahead of how you intend for it to benefit your child. Set rules with your child in its usage and most importantly guide and show them how to use it as intended.

As Josh wrote, parents can also use this opportunity of purchasing a gadget to help the child learn how to wait or save up enough to contribute to the purchase.”

For more parenting ideas, please visit our website www.family.org.sg

What Happened to Normal?

 The three judges of the new TV reality series, Glee Project, were debating about which of the three least impressive performers they should not call back as a contender for the new cast member on the successful TV show, Glee. One of the candidates up for elimination was a guy the judges described as the person who most “got it together”. He had issues in the competition because of his obvious awkwardness in the more sexual scenes he was required to do.

 In an earlier episode, Cameron was captured on camera in tears as he shared with his mum over the phone how he felt he’d cheated on his girlfriend back home. The “crime”: a fellow competitor had decided to turn on the heat and score points by initiating a kiss with him during a music video take.

“You’ve to put your own beliefs aside and act the part of your character.” [Implying: You can separate your convictions from yourself because it’s just acting.]

 “Sexuality is like putting on lots of different clothes and dresses.” [Implying: It doesn’t change who you are; it’s just like playing dress-up.]

 The judges were advising Cameron on how to cope better in the competition. I thought about how we often rationalize the behaviour that we intrinsically know is wrong but do anyway.

 The conclusion? The judges found Cameron to make an interesting potential character on the show. However, for better or worse, Cameron decided his time was up and the opportunity better given to one who would give anything to do the things he personally struggled with. He walked out of the competition and gave his place up to a guy who later went on to win the competition. (familiar scenario?)

 “Ouch” – or “Wow”? What do you think of Cameron? Was he brave to have made a stand, or did he chicken out and leave the competition prematurely because he could no longer take the heat?

 Whatever it is, it sure reveals how values have changed. What was once considered the norm no longer is. Cameron represented what should be normal behaviour which thankfully appeared attractive to the judges because it had – sadly – become a rarity.

Note to my Papa!

In a week, I’ll be home! Home to see my family and my father again. Unfortunately though, it’s not in time for Fathers’ day. So, in these words, I hope to make up for that:

Dear Papa,
Thank you for all that you have been to me. You’ve picked me up when I was down, you’ve pushed me when I was lazy, you’ve comforted me when I was sad. You’ve made all of us laugh, and never minded when we teased you back. You’ve given me the space to grow on my own, but yet have always remained close by in case I needed you. You’ve taught both my sister and I the importance of family. You’ve been a mentor, a friend and most of all, a father.
But more than thanking you, I want to affirm you for the wonderful person that you are. You are one who inspires people around you. By demanding the best of others, you are helping them live up to their best potential. That is what you have done for me and it has made me the person I am today. I am proud to be your daughter and I hope to make you as proud of me too.


This Fathers’ Day I mailed home a pair of paintings, pictures of oceans and sunsets. They symbolize that across distance and time, he is the best father to me.

Editor’s note:

Amanda’s father is a Facilitator and Speaker with Focus on the Family for Connect2 (marriage preparation workshop) and Parenting with Confidence (parenting program).