Write Lah!

On Audio: Biggest Baddest Bomoh

I wrote a short story “Biggest Baddest Bomoh” 21 years ago. I don’t have an actor’s voice or talent but decided sometime back to record my reading of it, throwing caution to the wind and facing the outcome, however bleak!
Today, after some hesitation, especially since I cringe whenever I listen to my recorded voice, I’ve decided to share it with you.
The audio story is 22 minutes long and I hope you get to listen to it …

Can Kids be Wise?

How do you teach your kids wisdom? Maybe they’re excelling at school, know their gadgets backwards … but are they wise?

In the old days, which means those pre-internet, pre-screen addiction times, bored kids sometimes came across these strange things called books. Some of them were books of proverbs.


Many screen-dazzled kids today are not familiar with such idioms and what each one means. For why would they, if their attention is being stolen by non-stop communication and distraction?

Not all proverbs are wise, but most are. So it’s worth sharing these with your kids.

Here are some I know:

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Cleanliness is next to godliness

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me

When in Rome do as the Romans do

The grass is always greener on the other side

Charity begins at home

Blood is thicker than water

Don’t wash your dirty laundry in public

Rome wasn’t built in a day

Be careful of what you wish for

A journey of 10000 miles begins with a single step

Don’t cry over spilt milk

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

The eyes are windows to the soul

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Sometimes the best answer is silence

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealth and wise

The early bird catches the worm

Too many cooks spoilt the soup

Two heads are better than one

There’s more than one way to skin a cat

Prevention is better than cure

Curiosity killed the cat

No man is an island

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

Don’t make an encyclopedia out of a nursery rhyme.

KISS: Keep it super simple. (Keep it simple, stupid! is insulting)

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

The love of money is the root of all evil

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

Evil happens because good people do nothing

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder

One man’s meat is another man’s poison

The more things change the more things remain the same

History repeats itself

You reap what you sow

You make your bed you lie in it

Stop and smell the roses

Have your cake and eat it too

A place for everything and everything in its place

Save your pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves

One man’s meat is another man’s poison

Half a loaf of bread is better than none

A miss is as good as a mile

Better late than never

It’s the journey, not the destination

Slow and steady wins the race

Strike whilst the iron is hot

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

The pot calling the kettle black

Patience is a virtue

Waiting for the kettle to boil

Time waits for no man

Birds of a feather flock together

Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

No pain, no gain

A leopard never changes its spots

What is good for the goose is good for the gander

Empty vessels make the most noise

The squeaky wheel makes the most noise

When there’s a will, there’s a way

Casting pearls before swine

Idle hands do the devil’s work

Silence is golden

Cleanliness is next to godliness

Spare the rod and spoil the child

Birds of a feather flock together

Cut your nose to spite your face

Forewarned is forearmed

You can find more proverbs here:

First Horror Novels

Stephen King lived in a caravan.  When his first novel, Carrie, which came out in 1974, he got at an advance of US$400,000. A lot of money back then and still a huge amount of money now. Then came the movie. And there was no stopping him.



I read his novel as a teenager and later watched the movie, never dreaming that I would or even could write my own horror novel. My first one, Dark Demon Rising, came out 20 years ago. I’m glad to say the newly revised 20th anniversary edition is hot off the press. I don’t think Stephen King got a chance to revise Carrie but then why would he? Not many novelists get a chance to revise their published work, especially a first novel, so I’m awfully lucky. I have to thank my publisher for letting this happen: a 20th anniversary edition.

I love the new cover too. So very different from the original.


I hope you like it and, if you haven’t read the novel, I hope you like it too.

Thai / Malay Words

I am in Chiang Mai again. Been here 2 months now.

You don’t hear much Thai language being spoken here, but rather Chiang Mai Thai or Lanna. This is a northern language, not a dialect, because a Thai speaker cannot understand the Lanna language. The two are so different.

“Khun suai mak,” means you’re very pretty in Thai, but in Lanna, they would say: “Tua ngam kanad.” There’s no similarity there.

As for the Malay and Thai language, I previously posted that the only common word I could find was Ngiap and Senyap. But, of course, I missed the obvious. ‘Ini’ and ‘Ani’ are both mean here. Some Malays will use noon for there, just like the Thais.

There’s also phaasaa and bahasa for language, even though the two come from a different family of languages.

There’ll are other similar words, for example “chincok” for “chicak”,”‘gunjay” for “kunci”, “sabu” for “sabun” and, of course, “wau” for “wau”!

I’m sure I’ll unearth more of them.

Unfriendly Malaysians!

“Malaysians are unfriendly!” scoffed the Englishman.

“Oh?” I said.

Perhaps I knew the reason why he thought this.

“Maybe the people you met weren’t Malaysian,” I said. “The ones you met in the restaurants and eateries were probably foreigners from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan and the Philippines. They’re not likely to be happy working in Malaysia with poor pay, bad conditions and missing their families. We, Malaysians, are actually very friendly.”

“I didn’t know you had so many foreign workers.”

There may be as many as 5 million foreign workers in Malaysia and, unless you’re a local, you can easily mistake them for Malaysians. I wonder how many other tourists shared the same thoughts about these “unfriendly Malaysians”. Of course, I’ve met friendly foreign workers too, but they seemed to be in the minority.

“We’re multiracial,” I said. “So we’re very tolerant to foreigners and those of other cultures. So we’re mostly very friendly. And, of course, we speak English too!”

“Yes. That’s a real plus.”

“It is.”

But then, as I took my leave, with all the stuff going on in Malaysia, I wondered how friendly we would continue to be.

Trump Victory – The Beginning of the End?

So Trump has won.

Arriving at KLIA from Sydney last night, I saw the ungodly news. As I wheeled my luggage to the taxi counter, I wondered what this would mean for all of us. Has the US, like Malaysia, hit its lowest point or can both countries still plumb lower, fouler depths?


As I sat in the rickety taxi, I imagined his irritating smug face on screen. What inane rhetoric and lies will this racist, bigot, anti-Muslim, misogynist, sexual predator and climate-change denier spew in his victory speech? Oh America, I wanted to moan, what have you done?

This ill-tempered man now has his finger on the nuclear button. If not war, will this bring about a new world order? A meaner, unkind place where the downtrodden are further crushed?

There is the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

Times, unfortunately, have become very interesting indeed.

Why I Wrote “So Fat Lah!”

My book talk is on today.

So why the heck did I write “So Fat Lah!” – a weight-loss book?

A fellow writer calls me “Horror-man” … so shouldn’t I be writing more dark tales, so that my gnarled fingers can probe the softest, most vulnerable parts of your brain?

In fact, the first book I ever wrote, back in 1991, was a self-help book on how to buy condos. So my start in writing was in the non-fiction arena.

I like to think that I’ve always had one foot in the fiction and the other in the non-fiction world. I think that’s okay, because I haven’t fallen over yet!

About six years ago, then living in Australia, I could literally see that obesity is a huge problem and would be a growing world-wide one. I worked out a lot then and had certain strong views: eat as much as you like, as long as you can exercise it off.

So I started writing a book based on the simple premise of energy in / energy out. But as I began to research the subject, my views began to change and ended up altering quite drastically.

I wrote and re-wrote and researched the book over several years. And when it was finally ready, I hated it.


Yes, it contained all the weight-loss information one needed. But it was boring. It was lecturing and not unlike a text book. I would dread having it published.

So I put it away.

Then sometime last year, I hit on the idea of re-writing it just for Malaysians.

As I re-wrote it, I knew this was the right thing to do. I finished it within 2 months. This was the book that I’d always wanted to write.

“You wrote it for all of us,” a friend mentioned after she had ready it.

Yes, I did.

The Friendliest Guy

A close friend died today.

It was unexpected and, for a Chinese family, it was particularly hard as it was a day before Chinese New Year.

You too have lost a close friend, a relative or even a parent.

The feeling of grief and loss, I think, is the same for all of us. Some of us will, of course, take it harder than others. But that’s just a matter of degree. The essential feeling remains unchanged.

Grief. Loss. An inexplicable numbness.

Similarly, I’m sure you too may have experienced great joy and happiness at some point in your life.

That feeling too, I’m sure, is the same for all of us.

What about desire, excitement or loneliness?

These feelings too are the same. Perhaps just a difference of degree.

So, you see. We are not so different. You and I.

In fact, we’re the same. It doesn’t matter what our skin colour may be or what religion we follow, if at all.

So let’s not look to the differences but rather our similarities.

My friend, who is now gone, had friends of every colour and creed, and you couldn’t find a kinder and friendlier guy.

He always had a smile on his face. I can see it now, reflected in yours.

So goodbye … but he’s not really gone. His spirit of generosity and kindness lives in all of us.

Country and Names 101

With the American President’s recent visit to Malaysia, an issue was raised about an ungrammatical sign welcoming him to the country.


Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 11.05.32 am

The problem is not so much about grammar but a lack of awareness that some country names have the word “The” before it.

For example:

The United States of America

The Netherlands

The Philippines

Most countries don’t, including:




So we should say:

Welcome to the President of the United States of America, or

Welcome to the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Simple really.

The same applies to people’s names.

In Malaysia, we have many honorifics and, although it can get complicated, we should know how to use them. Many are bestowed either by the state or federal governments.

So we would say:

Welcome Datuk Saraswati and Tan Sri Lim

rather than:

Welcome Mrs Datuk Saraswati and Mr Tan Sri Lim

Some honorifics are hereditary.

We should write:

Dear Raja Azman and Tengku Ahmad

rather than

Dear En Raja Azman and En Tengku Ahmad

A good book on the subject of titles is Malaysia Protocol by Abdullah Ali.

I think I’m mostly right here but I’m happy to be corrected! 🙂

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