Dear Selangor Government,

I have a bone to pick with you!

Starting the 1st of January, 2017, the whole of Selangor is now #bebasplastik (plastic bag-free).  Sure, it’s “good for the environment” but I say: shame on you, Selangor government, for taking the easy way out! Why do the ban at consumer level only? What are YOU doing on manufacturers’ level? Do you have a program in place that bans manufacturers from using certain types of packaging that can neither be recycled nor reused? At the very least, plastic bags get a second-lease in life (or maybe even more) as a garbage bag, as a shoe bag, for wrapping extra clothes to school, and so on. But is there any legislation for plastics used in electrical and electronic equipment?? In the UK alone, more than 10 million tonnes of packaging waste is produced every year. I dare say Malaysia produces so much more, especially for small electronic items like this!

Don’t even get me started on plastic water bottles. Why aren’t those banned, as well??

What about coffee pods? Why is there no regulation about coffee machines that use these single-serving pods?

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In Hamburg, Germany, a ban has been in place since January 2016 for “equipment for hot drinks in which portion packaging is used” – specifically singling out the “Kaffeekapselmaschine”, or coffee capsule machine, which accounts for one in eight coffees sold in Germany, due to these products causing “unnecessary resource consumption and waste generation.” Why can’t we do the same thing?

And finally, don’t even get me started on the waste segregation enforcement supposedly set in place since June 2016. What a joke! Our family dutifully bought the colour-coded bags and segregated our household waste like any good law-abiding citizen. But guess what? The garbage collectors simply grabbed ALL of the bags and dumped them all into the same lorry! Fast forward to February 2017, we segregate all recyclables into one bag and even when we specifically tell the garbage collectors what’s inside it, they simply dump it with the rest of the trash.

I may be only one irate Selangor resident but I can assure you there are thousands more who feel the same as I do!

Rant over. Over and out.

January marks the beginning of a new school year for Malaysia. For parents whose children are going to school for the first time, separation anxiety can be cause for major concern.  Not all children happily skip to class after parents drop them off; a good number  of children would cry, cling to their parents, and/or put up a major struggle not to get into the classroom.

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Sound familiar? Yup! I know the feeling all too well. I went through this phase with all six children and, I’m telling you, it never gets any easier!

It starts off as a feeling of dread that builds up during that short drive to school as you try to keep a semblance of calm as you navigate the early morning snarling traffic, which peaks when your child goes into major meltdown just as soon as you pull up the school entrance. “Tak nak schooooool! Nak Mamaaaaa!!!!” (I don’t want school! I want Mama!)

Your anxiety mounts as you feel torn between the instinctive need to comfort your child and the need to show up at work on time. Just five more minutes, you promise yourself, as you pull your child aside to hug him and shower him with kisses and promises to be back later. His cries reduce to a whimper and his hands release your clothes from what used to be a death grip. And the moment you utter, “Okay, Mama really needs to go to work now,” the whole wailing and screaming thing starts all over again. But at this point, you have no choice but go so you leave your child with his class teacher, leaving you feeling wretched and awful and a complete failure as a mother, guilt eating away at you throughout the day.

One week later, you go through the same pain and anxiety every single day. For some children, it can take two weeks, a month, maybe even longer.

So what’s a working mother to do??

First off, try to find out if there is any specific reason why your child cries. Talk to your child — young children are usually incapable of making up stories. Talk to his teacher — if your child is too young, he may be incapable of expressing what exactly is bother him. Could someone in class be possibly bullying your child? Is there anything in school that could possibly merit your attention?

If you find a valid reason, you might need to consider a different class, a different school, or maybe even re-think sending your child to school at all, perhaps wait for another year before doing so.

If you find that it’s purely separation anxiety, there are a few things you can do to help ease it, both for your child and for yourself:

1. Children can pick up on parents’ feelings. If we show some sign that we, ourselves, feel separation anxiety, I assure you, they can feel all that anxiety coming from you. So, when you drop your child off, make the trip as pleasant as possible (sing songs, talk about funny stuff, etc.) and do your best to appear calm and okay.

2. As you drop your child off, look him in the eye (squat down, if you have to, like Prince William does) and assure him that you will pick him up later or see him later at home, whichever is the case. It is very important to establish eye contact with your child as you make your promise. Then in the evening, when you pick him up or when you see each other at home, make it a point to remind him of your promise that morning and how you fulfilled that promise. Do this every single day.

3. When you drop him off, don’t prolong the agony for both of you. Drop him off. Do as in #2. Quick hug and kiss. Exit.

4. Let your child bring something extra everyday, like some treats to share with classmates, a special packed snack or lunch, maybe even sneak in his favourite toy inside his school bag (just make sure to label it with your child’s name and to inform his teacher, so that it wouldn’t get lost).

5. Find out the names of his classmates and talk about them at home. On the way to school, mention how those friends are excited to see him and how much fun they are going to have.

6. Maintain contact with the teachers. Find out how long it takes him to calm down. Does it affect him the entire day? Or does he stop crying the moment your car disappears from view? What helped me a lot was WhatsApp — my Little Dragon‘s teacher would take his pic between 30 minutes and an hour after I leave and that image of him interacting in class instead of crying allays any fears or anxieties that might be brewing in my head.

7. Give him some time. Some kids take a week to adapt, some a month, some even as long as two months.

All the best!

In the early 1990s, no one knew where or what Malaysia is. I used to enter IRC chat rooms and introduce Malaysia as a country in Southeast Asia located between Singapore and Thailand. When I’d tell French language speakers “J’habite en Malaisie” (I live in Malaysia), inevitably they’d ask me in jest “Tu as du malaise?” (Are you unwell?).

Then the Petronas Twin Towers were built and, I dare say, finally put Malaysia on the world map and stopped all the nonsense about malaise.

I realise it’s a man-made wonder but it is a wonder, all the same. These towers never fail to evoke deep within me feelings of amazement, of belonging, of being home.

Pics taken with an ASUS Zenfone 3 on auto mode.

Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM) 2016 concluded with a big bang, with a total of 5,595 runners finishing the Full Marathon within the stipulated seven-hour cutoff time;  8,160 finished the Honda Half Marathon within 3.5 hours; 12,804 finished the 10KM run; 2,400 finished the 5KM fun run; and 750 kids completed the Kids Dash, despite race day being a total scorcher.

Full marathon flag off

5 km Fun Run featuring 60 visually impaired runners with their running buddies

For this year’s race, SCKLM started implementing for the first time a new checkpoint system that is commonly practised in international marathons to ensure the safety of the runners and that the roads were handed in a systematic manner. Other changes included an extended seven-hour cut-off time for the 42.195-kilometre full marathon which flagged off at 4 am.

The race was flagged off by Tan Sri Datuk Mohd. Sheriff Mohd. Kassim, Chairman of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia, Ajay Kanwal, Regional CEO ASEAN & South Asia of Standard Chartered Bank, and Mahendra Gursahani, Managing Director & CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia. The race route afforded the runners closeup views of Kuala Lumpur’s iconic landmarks such as the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Parliament of Malaysia, the National Museum, Menara Standard Chartered and Dataran Merdeka, which served as the race village.

Emotions ran high at the final seconds of the cutoff time, as shown in this video by Hong Lan Tan.

Three Kenyans took the top three prizes for the male category — Kennedy Kiproo Lilan with an insane 2:18:57 finish; with Tonui Kiprop hot at his heels at 2:18:59; and Luka Kipkemoi Chelimo finishing at 2:19:24. Meanwhile, in the female category, an Ethiopian grabbed the top spot, followed by two Kenyan ladies –  Hirut Beyene Guangul at 2:39:02, Naomi Jepkogei Maiyo at 2:39:14, and Elizabeth Jeruiyot Chemweno at 2:41:10.

Malaysian Full Marathoners also put up a brave display with returning champion, Muhaizar Mohamad, winning the Full Marathon Malaysian Men’s title with a time of 02:39:23 and Yuan YuFang taking the Malaysian Women’s category with a time of 03:19:04.

Runners praised SCKLM 2016 for the strategically-placed water stations; plentiful portable toilets (rows of them as you turn into Dataran Merdeka!); friendly and efficient volunteers; and a fantastic medical team.

Making the race a true platform for people to do extraordinary things were 60 visually impaired runners with their running buddies taking part in the 5 km Fun Run category, 36 runners with autism together with their parents in the 3 km Kids Dash and over 300 Standard Chartered Bank staff running in red tutus across different categories.  Their participation in the race was supported by Standard Chartered Bank in their efforts to tackle avoidable blindness, raise awareness and educating the public on autism and HIV.

This Full Marathon runner was surprised with a wedding proposal at the finish line! Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia will be treating the happy couple to an exclusive dinner at the Grand Hyatt.

Under Standard Chartered KL Marathon’s “Run For A Reason” initiative, a total of RM444,848.00 was raised for the beneficiaries Standard Chartered Foundation, Hospis Malaysia, Yayasan Sejahtera and IJN Foundation. The funds were raised collectively by approximately 364 runners and Corporate Challenge participants who also did their part in raising awareness towards the beneficiaries they selected.

Managing Director and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia, Mahendra Gursahani, said, “Standard Chartered Bank is proud to provide a platform for people from all walks of life to accomplish extraordinary goals. These acts are a brilliant demonstration of what personal empowerment can do for the human spirit. We salute all runners that took part in the marathon, and we thank them all for the great support shown.”

The finisher’s medal is a real keeper!

The Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2016 was made possible by title sponsor Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia, along with event owner and organiser, Dirigo Events Sdn. Bhd. and co-organiser Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur. Also supporting the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2016 were Gold Sponsor, Honda Malaysia; and official partners Seiko, 100 Plus, Adidas and Pacific Regency Hotel Group.

Standard Chartered KL Marathon is sanctioned and supported by Malaysia Athletics Federation (MAF), Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur Athletic Federation (FTKLAA), International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Association of International Marathons, Distance Races (AIMS).

After a loooooong blogging hiatus, it’s only appropriate that, for my “I-am-back-did-you-miss-me” post, I’m writing about one of my great loves — running. Yup, Standard Chartered KL Marathon takes place this Sunday, 7th August 2016. Even if you are not fond of running yourself but plan to be in KL this weekend, you ought to pay attention due to the inevitable road closures.

Here’s a map of the full marathon route:

Aaaand….here’s the info on the road closures as at press time:

For more information regarding road closures, call the traffic hotline at +603 2071 9777.

See you Sunday, fellow runners!!! 😉