Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Peace and Non-Violence Education

It was the usual Monday morning round in the psychiatric ward
and the medical assistance was reporting incidences of violence involving patients in the ward. Managing violence has been part and parcel of my training in Psychiatry. The public tends to strongly associate mental patients with violence. However, my experience suggests to me that there is much more violence in the world, beyond the psychiatric ward. Criminological studies have actually supported my observation that rates of violent and criminal behavior are similar in the mentally ill and non-mentally ill people. So, I inevitably have to open up my mind to a bigger picture of violence, a disease of pandemic scale.

What is violence? Violence takes many forms and is understood differently in different countries and among different cultures. There is no universally accepted definition of violence but the following is a working definition accepted by World Health Organization (WHO), that encompasses a broad range of understanding:

*"Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation. "*

* *
There main categories of violence are identified from a public health point of view:

1. Self-inflicted violence: *This refers to intentional and harmful behavior directed at oneself e.g. self mutilation, attempted suicide or completed suicide.

2. Interpersonal violence: *This is violence among individuals e.g. violence against women, child abuse, bullying, sexual harassment and criminally-linked violence such as assault, rape and homicide.

3. Organized violence: *This is violent behavior of social or political groups motivated by specific political, economic or social objectives. War may be considered the most highly organized type of violence. Other examples include racial or religious conflicts.

Sad to say, there is not a single day these days whereby violence is not reported in the media. Since violence is now rampant, the United Nations have proclaimed the period 2001-2010 as the "International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World". As defined by the United Nations,

"Culture of Peace is a set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations"*
* *

In response to calling for peace, the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) is organizing a "Say NO to Violence Campaign" from 5th-15th May, 2007 in conjunction with the Wesak Day celebration and "Hari & Minggu Belia 2007". Thank God, religious freedom is practiced in this country and this is a significant contribution to the peace that we have been enjoying all this while. It's great to hear that the government is making concerted effort to promote peace in our beloved country. This is a very wise move as peace is a crucial prerequisite for nation building. We should give our full support to this and future peace promoting activities.

*"Together, we must build and develop for the future a culture of peace based on non-violence, dialogue, and mutual respect and social justice. This is neither easy nor a quick task. Nevertheless, it is possible and at a time of rising waves of new forms of conflict and violence, it is absolutely necessary."*

-The Dalai Lama-
(Nobel Price for Peace winner, 1989)

What are the factors that contribute to violence? Factors that are thought to contribute to the development of violent behavior include:

- Drug and alcohol use
- Access to firearms and weapons
- Having witnessed or victimized by interpersonal violence
- Lack of parental affection and support
- Physical punishment and child abuse
- Family history of criminal behavior
- Poor communication skills
- Poverty, urbanization and overcrowding
- Rapid economic development with unemployment
- Unequal power relations between men and women or different ethnic groups

For peace and non-violence to prevail, the United Nations have suggested these strategies:

- Foster a culture of peace through education
- Promote sustainable economic and social development
- Promote respect for all human rights
- Ensure equality between women and men
- Foster democratic participation
- Advance understanding, tolerance and solidarity
- Support participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge
- Promote international peace and security

Violence prevention efforts that address factors at all levels will be the most successful. However, I hereby would like to highlight peace and non-violence education program at school level as this has several advantages. Firstly, it's easier to start educating people while they are young before the personality is fully developed. Secondly, it can reach out to many people as the program can be easily incorporated into the existing school curriculum. Thirdly, there have been a lot of scientific studies to support the efficacy of school-based peace and non-violence education program.

The school-based educational intervention should include knowledge and skills in these areas:

- Assertive and non-violent communication
- Anger and stress management
- Conflict resolution
- Problem solving & decision making
- Mediation intervention
- Making friends and socializing
- Dealing with peer pressure
- Crime prevention and law-related education
- Religious and ethnic education

Since we spend a big portion of our life communicating with people around us, let me share with you in more detail on assertive and non-violent communication. Assertive and non-violent communication is the ability to express your thoughts, feelings and needs clearly, honestly, directly and at the same time considering the needs and feelings of others. The principles are as follows:

1. Honestly and clearly express your thoughts or feelings in a non-hostile way e.g. "John, I'm very upset and worried when you didn't call up after you missed our appointment yesterday". It's important to be specific and direct in expressing ourselves.

2. Be firm but friendly in your tone of voice and non-verbal language e.g. look up, have direct eye contact, smile and use opened postures. Be courteous, don't be defensive and never quarrel or fight.

3. Allow the other person to express himself or herself. Acknowledge the person's feelings or conditions e.g. "I understand that you had something emergency and I'm sorry to hear that..............".

4. Make your request clear, precise and in a positive manner (ask the person to do something rather than stop doing something) e.g. "I would be grateful if you could give me a call the next time whenever you miss our appointment. Is that ok with you?" Be diplomatic and willing to negotiate on the request.

5. Thank and compliment the person for agreeing to you request. You can also tell the person how happy you are because of the successful negotiation e.g. "Thank you very much for been so understanding. It means a lot to me and I'm very happy about that".

For further information on how to effectively and creatively run school-based peace education program, you can refer to UNESCO's compilation of "Best Practices" from various countries all over the world (* http://www.unesco.org/education/nved/index.html*). With this, I will end my little essay over here and may all of you be suffused with abundance of peace all the time.


1. WHO information series on school health – Violence Prevention: An important element of a health-promoting school.
2. UNESCO - Best Practices of conflict resolution in and out-of-school.

Dr. Phang Cheng Kar
20th April, 2007.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Good Morning...

Everyday, think as you wake up, ‘today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.

~His Holiness the Dalai Lama~

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why me?

Arthur Ashe, the legendary Wimbledon player was dying of AIDS which he got due to infected blood he received during a heart surgery in 1983.

From world over, he received letters from his fans, one of which conveyed: "Why does GOD have to select you for such a bad disease"?

To this Arthur Ashe replied: "The world over -- 50 million children start playing tennis, 5 million learn to play tennis, 500,000learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5000 reach the grand slam, 50 reach Wimbledon, 4 to semi final, 2 to the finals, When I was holding a cup I never asked GOD "Why me?". (Dear Arthur, It's you because you work hard and you train hard. You strive to be the best and so you play the best tennis and you won!! You will not win what you've won without working hard. But i bet you didn't work hard to get AIDS. So perhaps you are entitled to ask "Why me?!" the blood should have been checked to ensure it is not contaminated before it's being put into you...)

And today in pain I should not be asking GOD "Why me?"

"Happiness keeps you Sweet, Trials keep you Strong, Sorrow keeps you Human, Failure Keeps you humble and Success keeps you glowing, but only Faith & Attitude Keeps you going.....

Story taken from Joon Quek's message in the INVOVAR mailing list...

Bye Canon A70, welcome Fujifilm S6500fd

After serving me faithfully since April 2004, my trusty CanonPowershot A70 had finally fallen under the the pressure of the times around this time last year, leaving me with no camera to take my new pictures in... Ever since then, it had taken lots of memories as well as fantastic pictures because of it's renowned Canon reputation behind it. One year ago, the CCD (Charged Coupled Device, the sensor of the camera) had failed to work as it should, showing a blank screen every time i tried to revive it. I had came to a conclusion that the camera had died on me.

my trusty old camera...

Since then, I had used various ways to take my pictures and memories. The most used way is to use my camera-phone to take my various pictures. One way or another, they had always let me down with their quality. The camera that came with my old PDA phone O2 XDA Mini S was horrible in terms of quality, and I had rarely used it. Later, I sold off my XDA, and got myself a simpler, but more fitting to my style kind of phone, the K750i (Red Edition). The picture quality was very nice for a phone camera, and rivals many cheap digital cameras in terms of clarity, resolution and most important of all, quality as you can see from the newer pictures posted in this blog.

Then again, the quality of k750i is still not enough to be considered for proper photography. Last week (after a almost-daily chat with Jen), I decided to finally plunge in and get myself a brand new camera, so that I can take better pictures when I go traveling to Italy after the end of this semester. All along this while, I had been stalking the popular Canon camera of Powershot S3-IS. The long zoom range, coupled with the anti-shake capability will complement well with my shooting style, as my hands tend to be shaky resulting in lots of blurry pictures with A70. The price had been a hindering factor though. The last time I checked, it costs over RM 1600 with very limited availability in Malaysia due to the impending launch of the successor model Powershot S5-IS. It was launched last week, and the prices turned out to be in the 480+ Euro range. If I am going to buy a S5-IS, I might as well splash out another 100+ Euro and get myself a Digital SLR-type camera instead.

So I looked around DPreview, and had found a very favorable review about the camera Fujifilm S6000fd (model number S6500fd in the Europe region). It's heavy enough to prevent my shaking hands from having too much effect on the sharpness of the picture, and it have a DSLR feel to it, minus the lens and CCD/CMOS sensor dust management. It's grip is big enough to accommodate my hands, prefect for a sharp picture. (note that that's the reason why I am not a fan of the mini digicams, like the Ixus series, they shake too much when i use it). The price is pretty reasonable as well, checking in for a cheap 290+ Euro for the base model without accessories, 329 when I added a 1GB xD memory card to my package.

The site that handled the sales is really efficient, sending the camera over right after the money transfer had gone through, and sending e-mail with each step taken. With that, I had estimated that it will arrive at my doorstep last friday, which it did, right before I leave my place to visit King Ung in Mannheim, making me carry the whole half a meter length box along the way -.-

Anyway, I find that the camera produces very nice picture quality, the zoom is very smooth and handles itself just like how a DSLR would, i.e. by turning the lens barrel. This zooming turned out to be a disadvantage specific to myself though. After the accident 2 years ago that led to my joints at my wrist to be deformed (blame it on the stupid government hospital treatment), my wrist will hurt whenever i carry heavy stuffs or put my wrists at that angle (palms facing up) to support things. The zooming action forces me to put my left wrist at that position, hence will cause pain if I take too long to frame my shots.

The feel of the camera is solid although the body is made entirely out of plastic. It's heaviness gives it a robust feel. Then again, I think I will do my best to prevent it from falling down though, the lens looked fragile :p The 2.5 inch LCD screen of the camera is very bright and shows lots of details. The EVF (Electronic ViewFinder) is a bit letdown with subpar preview quality. Then again, I can always review what I had taken with the LCD screen, so the EVF quality is a non issue to me (I prefer to use the viewfinder instead of the LCD screen to frame my shots).

I will have to take my time to get used to the controls and menus, since I am pretty much accustomed to using the menu system of Canon cameras, so it will take me some time to maximize the potential of this monster. There are various modes available for various scenes, like the beach, snow, incandescent as well as the most powerful manuals functions Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and full manual itself. The customs modes are hidden under layers of menus though, making it a bit hard to carry out shots in a hurry.

The lens have a maximum zoom of 10.7x with no image stabilization capability. some will wonder why I picked one without after emphasizing so much on it in the past. Well, the weight of the camera compensates for the tendency of my hands to shake, which I think, is enough to justify the lack of it... Anyway, the zoom range of the lenses are 28-300mm (135mm equiv.). The wide low end zoom of the lenses means I can start dreaming about taking nice wide angle shots not possible with my old camera, and a whole new perspective of the world ;)

I think I can stop spewing out things that most people who reads this blog can't even understand, and let you guys have a look at the baby itself... Enjoy ;)

My new cam

contents of the box

xD picture cards

cables that came along with the package

The package itself (note: this is not what the camera arrived in)

See Hua
*Let's create a world full of LOVE~

p/s: For a comparison of specs of the cameras that I had considered, go and have a look here.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Another Peace ;)

You Are 85% Peaceful

You are the epitome of inner peace and total calm.
You are grounded, emotionally mature, and very wise.
While no one's life is perfect, you have a great amount of perspective on the world - and you place in it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Mothers' Day 2007

Yea, i know it's Monday already... but as the one who is always late to the party, I wish all mothers in the world a Happy Belated Mothers' Day...

I wish my mom to be blessed with good health and maybe less stress this year. Hopefully your business grows by day, and hope the situation is still merry even without me... heh heh... (she told me that the house is quiet without me and my little bro playing around). Hehe... the next time I go back, he's going to be squashed yet again mwahahaha...

Lastly, this is our blog's 201st post... Time sure flies fast when we are not aware. Hopefully everyone out grows older and wiser by day la... May all be well and happy ;)

Take care ya all... c'ya

*Let's create a world full of LOVE~

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Peace ;)

You Are 87% Peaceful

You are the epitome of inner peace and total calm.
You are grounded, emotionally mature, and very wise.
While no one's life is perfect, you have a great amount of perspective on the world - and you place in it.
How Peaceful Are You?

Dug this up from Day-Dreamer's blog... :p

Monday, May 07, 2007

Journey called Life...(Part 38: Prayer)


Its been quite some time since I prayed, and ever since I had been getting more and more off track from the path. Maybe the enemy within* had managed to sway me away all along. On Wesak Day, on Tin Song's advise, I get myself to do a short Puja** session in honour of Lord Buddha on the day when he is born, gained enlightenment and passed off into Nirvana.

And that was the time when i realized that I had never been so calm for such a long time. Its a miracle that a short prayer had brought myself back along the path, along with the reminder that traveling along path that challenges us as a living being to the limits. Most importantly, the short prayer had brought along much insight about my shortcomings, and that I must strive to work on them...

And calmness is the quality that brings along lots of benefits. It allows me to check my emotions before venting out and ending up hurting people. It allows me to check my intentions if they are bad. And most importantly, its the quality of great Prophets in the past.

As for me, I shall keep to my aim in life, doing the little I could to bring along happiness to the people around me, and making this chaotic world a happier place to live in...

This is my prayer and wish, may all be well and happy always~

Time to go back to my meditation, c'ya

A Prayer of Compassion
May i become at all times, both now and forever,
A protector for those without protection,
A guide for those who have lost their way,
A ship for those whit oceans to cross,
A bridge for those with rivers to cross,
A sanctuary for those in danger,
A lamp for those without light,
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter,
And a servant for all in need

~His Holiness the Dalai Lama~

Action, Reaction

Protect yourself, you protect the others. Protect the others, you protect yourself...
~Lord Buddha~

p/s: The opposite is true as well... Reflect well on this...


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Lego Street Bike

My latest masterpiece...


On a Sleepy Saturday...

I went to Ulm and Biberach today... Enjoy the pics taken along the way ;)

Aalen train station

Aalen bus station

Aalen train station (front)

During lunch in Ulm

random photo...

Ulm Cathedral in the background

Müller shopping centre

A street performer... (his music is unique and nice man)

Ulm Cathedral ...

The fountain in fronf ot the Cathedral

First pic of me in this blog :p

Ulm Cathedral from another angle

Yet another fountain

And another...

The pyramid is Ulm library, the town hall is at the foreground...

Ulm town hall

Some sign at Wei Chung's place.

Bye bye Ulm... off to Biberach now... Here is the Ulm main train station...

In the train...

Wei Chung dreaming...

Before the train moves...

Some cinema in Ulm

Here we are...

Time of arrival

A funny looking tree here


Empty streets... except for Wei Chung... :p

Some kind of a donkey-lookalike statue...

Time to go back...

A Prayer of Compassion
May i become at all times, both now and forever,
A protector for those without protection,
A guide for those who have lost their way,
A ship for those whit oceans to cross,
A bridge for those with rivers to cross,
A sanctuary for those in danger,
A lamp for those without light,
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter,
And a servant for all in need

~His Holiness the Dalai Lama~

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy Wesak Day!

image taken from http://www.mccullagh.org/

Today is the Wesak day, to commemorate the day when the Buddha was born, gained enlightenment and passed into Nirvana. It's a day when Buddhists reaffirm this vow to take the path towards enlightenment. It's a long long path, but we are slowly walking towards it, learning something more with each baby step that we are talking.

May the Triple Gem be with you always, Happy Wesak Day.

See Hua & Jen
A Prayer of Compassion
May i become at all times, both now and forever,
A protector for those without protection,
A guide for those who have lost their way,
A ship for those whit oceans to cross,
A bridge for those with rivers to cross,
A sanctuary for those in danger,
A lamp for those without light,
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter,
And a servant for all in need

~His Holiness the Dalai Lama~