What About Kuching is back!

Kuching is truly a wonderful place to be, and I’m extremely grateful to live here. There’s always something new to explore.

What About Kuching is a festival that aims to showcase Kuching’s arts, culture and lifestyle and will be a month-long event starting from 29th September 2018 until 28th October 2018. It’s actually the second edition this year. I foresee it to be a huge thing that will be an important annual event for Sarawak, on par with Rainforest World Music Festival.

This year I will be officially covering a few of the WAK events

  • Food Safari – 29th September, 8am – 6pm @ Padungan Street
  • World Press Photo 2018 Exhibition – 29th September, whole day @ Padang Merdeka 
  • A Stroll Through Sarawak’s Very Unique History – The Brooke Rajahs.  6th October, 10 – 11.30am starting from Fort Margherita.

Stay tuned for more updates!

For more info do check out:

Fundaztic vs Funding Societies: A Side-by-Side Comparison

P2P lending or equity crowdfunding is a relatively new field in Malaysia and I would say that 2017 has seen positive developments in this area with the launch of multiple new players in the country. I have covered two of the more well-known ones in previous posts i.e. Funding Societies and Fundaztic and given some brief commentaries (do check them out if you need more info).

How does one then decide which platform is better? In my humble opinion, putting your hard-earned money into both is well-worth the bet. Why? Simply because you are in effect diversifying and spreading out your investment risk by placing investments into multiple SMEs and companies from diverse industries.

That being said, there are some subtle differences between the two. I have tried my best to make this as detailed as possible, do let me know if I miss out anything.

Fundatic vs Funding Societies

Features
Min per investmentRM50RM100
Max per investmentNo maximumRM5000
Fees
Auto-investYesYes
Living WillYes - Rodgers ReidyYes

My experience with both Fundaztic and Funding Societies so far has been positive. In both instances, support has been great and any enquiries I have were answered quickly.

Occupational Health Doctor: An Alternative Pathway after Housemanship

I mentioned about OHD a while back. The reason why I chose this field was because:

  • It’s a relatively unknown field
  • It’s something quite different
  • No oncalls. Yass!

Chance had it that I was given the opportunity to pursue this pathway so I give thanks to God for that. Truth be told, I had zero inkling what occupational health is all about before I went for the course conducted by NIOSH.

Occupational health was and still is one of the subspecialty under the domain of Public Health in Malaysia. However the pathway now to become a recognised Public Health specialist is much more difficult compared to few years ago.

I got a lot of new knowledge after attending the Occupational Health Doctor course. For your information, NIOSH (short form for National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) acts as the agency responsible for training and research, whereas DOSH (Department of Safety and Health) is the enforcement arm that swings down the bat of justice hard on those unscrupulous employers that exploit and harm workers.

The current training format of OHD is one of short course where training takes place over 9 days split over 3 weekends. In this very short period of time, the amount of information they’ll cram into you is staggering. One would have to learn about the different terminologies, new way of thinking, adapting clinical knowledge into industrial setting, relevant laws and regulations and so on. Not to mention the myriad occupational diseases – which would be the clinical side of things.

The course I went for costed me about RM3k and it included all textbooks and food. It was held at the NIOSH office. We also had the opportunity to conduct a mock workplace assessment at a construction site (which is normally closed to the general public) to try our hand at identifying workplace hazards and come up with control measures, which is bread and butter for a practising OHD.

As to the exam.. well, that’s a post for another time. I haven’t sat for the exam yet.

I came to understand that OHD is a very popular supplementary qualification sought by a lot of doctors in the country. After attending the course, I realised why. A lot of the laws and regulations which employers and industrial companies have to adhere to require some interventions of which only qualified OHDs have the authority to conduct.

The lecturers allude to the lucrative side of the career- hard to see why. OHDs are high in demand by big multinationals and GLCs, and having this qualification puts you in good stead of clinching a good job offer in the private sector should you think of quitting the government at some point in the future.

That being said, becoming and OHD doesn’t mean you become a specialist. It’s just an extra qualification which qualifies you to do certain things the general public or practitioners from other fields couldn’t. While it can potentially be lucrative, it’s completely up to the resourcefulness of the doctors themselves to venture into business (depending on which side of the country you’re in).

Some final thoughts – OHD is one of the things I’m glad I forked out my hard-earned money for. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air compared to the usual things you see in the hospital wards. It can be dry at times, but the exposure to the technical side of things is essential for you to grasp the intricacies of this field and become an expert in it.

Always remember the adage, if you’re good at something, never do it for free.

Life after Housemanship: Now What?

It’s been 4 months after I officially finished my housemanship.

I’m pretty sure a lot of people had the same doubts as I had when I was nearing the end of my housemanship. Yet I consider myself decisive when it came to making a decision for myself.

Many people would settle for one of the big 7 specialisation – Medical, Surgical, Orthopaedics, Paediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Anaesthesiology and Emergency Medicine. A lot would settle for serving at rural clinics or Klinik Kesihatan.

As for myself, I have not an inkling of idea what to do with myself in the next 30 years. And I shudder to think of being oncall for the rest of my life. I don’t see myself being in the clinical side of things. And I absolutely hate calls. Lack of sleep and the heavy patient load has taken it’s toll on my body and health and I loathe to imagine how I would end up if I continue doing something I hate for the next few years.

So that meant almost all of the specialties is a no-no for me. In Malaysia, that leaves only going into administration or continue being a general clinical MO as viable pathways.

I have always liked Public Health as an alternative and for a time that became my goal. Unfortunately, in Malaysia, that would mean having to go through PhD before one gets recognised as a specialist eligible for registration in the NSR. Not to mention the “mentor-mentee” program (which I have absolutely zero idea about) and having to serve in district (at least that’s how it is in Sarawak).

I shudder to think of being bonded with the government for another 7 or 10 years if I do decide to go for the local PhD route. It would mean having served at least a quarter of my life in an invisible bondage of service.

Another option came up and I chose take it – Occupational Safety and Health. Granted, it is not a specialty by itself. But I went for the OHD course anyway and found myself quite interested in the field. That’s a story for another day.

There are a lot of different fields available in Malaysia as our healthcare system improves every year – nuclear medicine, pathology, radiology etc. Even more obscure ones are those who serve in the military, of which I’m pretty sure are only reserved for those who graduated from the RMC or Universiti Pertahanan. At one point I even fantasised of joining the army as an army doctor but that would mean forfeiting my life once my parents find out and kill me.

Well, for now, I’m content, and I haven’t felt this way in a long time. And that’s saying something.

Financial Tips for Young Malaysian Doctors

If you’ve just started housemanship, congratulations, welcome to the real world. The feeling of having money rolling into your bank account every month must be something new for many of you, especially if being a houseman is your first real job. However, your hard-earned money can be easily wasted if you’re not careful enough. I have listed a few tips that I personally use during my houseman years, and which I still practise until today. Here’s my top personal finance tips for young doctors.

1. Spend beneath your means

This mantra is often repeated yet rarely followed. Why? It’s actually really difficult to follow! I made it a habit to track my personal finance using apps. I have tried many, and currently BlueCoins remains as my favourite app for tracking my expenses (unfortunately it is only on Android). Make it a habit to enter every single money transaction into the app and before long you’ll start to see patterns in your spending, and even discover a thing or two about yourself. It is really crucial to know small unnecessary leakages from your spending habit before they drown you in a financial cesspool.

2. Save at least 10% of your income

Housemen’s take home pay is a considerable amount. Start building your net worth by making a habit to save at least 10% of your income. I suggest opening a new savings account and siphoning off a portion of your hard-earned money into it, and make it a separate account from your day-to-day spending. Always remember to practise this step because it ties to the next habit you should form, which is –

3. Pay yourself first

What does it mean to pay yourself first? Average people slog their asses off to get their wages at the end of each month. The first thing they’d do when they get the money is to pay bills, go out and splurge on things. Then only they save whatever is left. Savvy people like you don’t do that. A savvy young doctor like you, would save a portion of your income as soon as it hits your bank account, and THEN use whatever remains to pay off your bills and whatnot. See the difference? That’s why it would be useful to have a separate bank account, so you can siphon off a portion of your salary straight into another “trust fund” and not touch it. It helps your build discipline and prevents your from spending unnecessarily.

Make time your ally, and use the powerful force of compounding to increase your net worth. I hope these few tips can help you kickstart your journey towards financial responsibility.

 

 

Quitting Housemanship

Qutting Housemanship

Should I quit housemanship? To be honest, this question has crossed my mind countless times. I came near to my breaking point barely 2 weeks into my HOship in O&G rotation. I can understand too well the stress of being in a completely new environment, feeling like an idiot and having no idea how to function. I know too well the feeling of inadequacy and the anger at myself for having spent 6 years abroad with nothing to show for. If you’re a houseman on the verge of quitting, then I hope my writing would help you decide, if only a little.

Should You Quit Housemanship

That being said, I still think, no, you shouldn’t quit housemanship.

Yes, it is the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. Slogging 2 years without adequate sleep, enduring harsh criticisms from superiors, having the nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten to do something right – all these is part and parcel of working as a lowly HO in Malaysia.

Yet as I grow older, I saw housemanship as a period where one can achieve tremendous personal growth. Just bear in mind that no other profession gives you the opportunity to develop yourself in such a short period of time. At least, no other profession requires you to perform and not kill somebody at the same time.

The need to perform well under pressure will hone you into someone you’ll barely recognise 2 years down the road. Whether that pressure made you into an amazing healthcare provider or a horrible boss who will just continue the vicious cycle for the younger generation is another matter entirely.

It all boils down to one essential word: grit

Grit

If you haven’t read the book by Angela Duckworth, I highly recommend you to. Her book has opened my eyes on high performance and tenacity. Her research shows that, no you don’t need talent or a high IQ to be successful in life. All you need is the passion and the perseverance to persist to the end.

Yes, housemanship will break you.

You will be driven to the edge of your abilities.

You will be pushed past your limits.

Yet if you persist, if you hold on to that one word, believing that all difficulties will just help you develop that grittiness, then you have the essential quality called The Growth Mindset. It will carry you far in life.

Personally, for me, I held on, and I am forever grateful to my friends and family who helped me through it. I strongly believe the 2 years shaped me into a more mature and courageous person who will not easily take no for an answer. All the harsh treatment only made me develop a kind of mental toughness and tenacity to persevere through the shitty phase in life.

I will spare you the usual arguments defending our current HO training system. I personally think that it has much room to improve. Look past that, however, and you’ll realise that housemanship is a valuable training ground for you to rapidly become a capable adult. All the experience you garner through the period will help you in whatever field you choose, even outside of medicine.

Dear housemen, don’t give up. Fight on. When all else fails, just remember, pain is temporary, but growth is permanent. Everyone has the capacity to grow, and you can too.

 

Bako National Park

Yesterday was Labour Day and I decided to make full use of it by visiting one of the more famous attractions around Kuching – the Bako National Park. After 28 years of staying here, professing to be a local Kuchingite, frankly it’s a little embarrassing to have yet visited an easily accessible national park.

The park itself is situated approximately 37 km from the city.

How to go to Bako National Park

We started our journey from Kuching at 7.30am by car and reached the Bako National Park car park and boat jetty within 40 minutes. There is scarcity of parking spots around the area so we were lucky to have arrived early. By 8.30am the jetty was already packed with throngs of tourists and day trippers (especially so since yesterday was a public holiday).

Park entrance fee is RM10 per person for Malaysians, and it costs RM30 each person for the return trip by boat to the national park itself. The journey by boat takes 20 minutes.

The boat stopped at the beach and we had to disembark from it straight into the water. That was a bit surprising, yet we took off our shoes and waded through the water anyway. That was, as I later found out, the Teluk Assam beach. It was quite a walk to the park HQ – photo opportunities abound along the way on the vast expanse of sand.

Disembark from the boat onto the beach straight
Vast expanse of sand

Bako Hiking Trails

There were numerous hiking trails to choose from, some of them are closed so we went for the most popular routes – Teluk Pandan Kecil and Teluk Pandan Besar. One has to register at the park HQ before starting the journey.

After a quick breakfast of fried noodles, off we went merrily into the jungle. The flora and fauna is amazing – we saw long-tailed macaques and wild boars up close. No sight of proboscis monkeys though – they’re at a different part of the national park. The initial flat parts of the trail in some parts consisted of wooden walkways over mangrove swamps, but it quickly gave way to steep rudimentary steps perched on tree roots which turned out to be a testing exercise in physical strength. We reached the fork at the trail to Teluk Pandan Besar after almost 2 hours of huffing and puffing. By this time the mid day sun blasted its heat without mercy at us, testing not only our strength but endurance.

teluk pandan besar
Teluk Pandan Besar viewpoint

Teluk Pandan Besar Trail ends at a cliff which affords a spectacular view of the South China Sea and a secluded but inaccessible beach below. After taking photos we quickly left as the heat was too much to bear. We hiked back to the fork and made our way to Teluk Pandan Kecil and after another 30 minutes of torture, made it to what is supposedly the end point (judging from the number of people taking photos and even having a picnic there).

Finally made it

We were about to turn back and start on our journey back towards the HQ when a fortunate stroke of serendipity happened. An elderly gentleman told us it was actually possible to take a boat straight back to the HQ. So off we went, making our way down the steep descent to the beach below the cliff.

We arrived at a secluded beach which was really tranquil. Save for a few hikers, jolly swimmers and the boatmen, we were the only ones around.

teluk pandan kecil
Pure tranquility

We took a boat together with another foreigner couple and the boatman took us close to what is arguably THE place to be in the whole park – the magnificent Bako Sea Stack.

bako sea stack
Ain’t she a beauty?

It is one thing to be seeing this thing everywhere in tourist brochures and even textbooks, and an entirely new experience to be seeing it up close, with the choppy seas around us.

We reached the HQ at about 2pm, exhausted yet fulfilled. I kept thinking about the chance encounter with the stranger. What a stroke of luck! If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have known that it was possible to take a boat straight to the HQ, with the added opportunity to see the sea stack up close.

If you’ve never been to Bako National Park, I highly recommend you to pay a visit.

P2P Lending Malaysia: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

P2P Lending Malaysia

Peer-to-peer lending, otherwise known as P2P lending or financing is a relatively new concept in Malaysia and the government has taken progressive steps to regulate the industry with the Securities Commission announcing the regulatory framework for P2P financing in 2016 and the official approval of 6 peer-to-peer financing operators later in the year [1].

This has provided an alternative avenue for investors to seek higher-than normal banks’ fixed deposit returns in an increasingly challenging and inflationary economy.

What is P2P lending?

P2P lending in the Malaysian context refers to the opportunity for lay persons to pool together their money and invest in small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and businesses in Malaysia which are in need of capital for their operations.

Traditionally these businesses can only obtain financing via banks, which pose a hurdle as banks typically require some sort of collateral or at least a proven track-record. This means that new or small enterprises often encounter difficulties to obtain funds to sustain their operations or to expand their business.

SMEs as a group is a major engine of growth for the Malaysian economy and this obstacle to financing has been a major inhibitor to their growth. It was calculated that there is a RM80 billion gap in financing that has not been met. Thus, it is hoped that P2P lending can help fill that gap.

Worldwide, P2P as an alternative form of financing is fast becoming a proven alternative, given that over US$25 billion was raised on P2P platforms globally in 2015. That total is projected to grow to about US$96 billion by 2025, according to Securities Commission chairman Tan Sri Ranjit Ajit Singh. [2]

P2P financing operators act as platforms where companies can get access to funds directly from investors, resulting in a shorter turnaround time. All these are done online which means lower costs compared to traditional banks.

From another perspective, investors act as ‘banks’ that provide financing for these companies. In return, they earn a higher return on their investments compared to traditional fixed deposits.

Is P2P lending safe?

The main risk involved in P2P lending is the default risk whereby the company is unable to repay the loans. In the unfortunate event of default, investors only lose whatever amount they put into the particular investment.

Another risk event would be the shutting down of the P2P financing platforms, which is highly unlikely given that the platforms themselves are only acting as third party enablers that provide the underlying technology for the lending activities.

Who are the P2P Platform Operators in Malaysia?

Currently there are 6 official P2P platforms in Malaysia.

Platform OperatorWebsiteDescription
Funding SocietiesWell-established regional player with largest market share
B2B FinpalOwned by B2B Commerce, a supply chain management software provider
FundazticRobust P2P platform led by ex banking veterans and industry leaders
AlixCoOwned by FundedByMe, a Swedish-based equity crowdfunding platform
QuicKashOwned by ManagePay Systems berhad, an e-payment public-listed company
Nusa KapitalWorld's first shariah-compliant P2P lender

Why invest in P2P?

P2P is a great alternative avenue for investment. Let’s look at some of the advantages below:

Higher returns compared to fixed deposits

Investors get potentially higher return. Most of the investment notes offer rates higher than 5%.

Choose who you want to lend to

Before you part with your hard-earned money, you can check the company’s profile, sales and revenue figures as well as their plans for the purported loan.

Low Initial Starting Capital

You can start with as little as RM50. Most of the platforms allow miminum investments as low as RM100.

Compound Your Investment Returns

Reinvest your returns into new investment notes and compound your returns over the long run. Some of the P2P platforms offer auto-investing features based on preset conditions, which means you can essentially park your money into your account, set up the auto-investment feature and let your money compound itself without having to lift a finger.

P2P Lending Malaysia – A Solid Alternative Investment Avenue

P2P Lending in Malaysia is here to stay and the industry will only get exponentially bigger as more people accept it.

I sincerely hope you find this article useful. Do check out my other articles in which I review the different P2P platforms.

 

Source

[1] https://www.sc.com.my/digital/list_rmo/
[2] http://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/special-report-new-shot-funding-creditworthy-smes

Housemanship Experience – Part Two

After 2 gruelling years, I have finally completed my compulsory house officer training.

Anyone who has been through it would tell pretty much the same things – shitty working hours, exhausting workload, toxic environment – sometimes to the point of annoying those who are not in this field.

“Yeah yeah we get it. You have been through hell, bla bla bla. What else is new?”

Well before I get into that, let me recount my experience from my last 3 posting. (Click here to read my experience from the first 3 rotations)

Surgery

Surgery was one of the toughest posting for me in terms of workload. Back then there was no off days, so that means puny HOs have to work continuosly without break for 4 months, with only a weekend pass in between (or was it 2? I can’t remember).

Oncalls were terrible affairs as you’d have to work 30 hours, and if you were placed in one of the surgical subspecialties, it stretches to 36 hours straight. I had the pleasure of doing back to back calls for a week, which meant that the only time I went home was every other day just to shower and sleep.

I had no idea how I did it back then.

The only time I enjoyed myself was during my rotation in urology. Bosses were nice there. Other than that, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have to step into the operating theatre anymore.

Paediatrics

Ah, the dreaded department. The one that invokes a sense of impending doom in the hearts of every puny HO.

To be honest, I quite liked the rotation in paediatrics. I guess it was because it being the 5th rotation, everyone from my batch went into the posting together. So that means friends whom you could count on, and in housemanship, teamwork means everything.

I started off in the nursery, then the general wards, then came the rotation in paediatrics intensive care unit, and finally paeds oncology. Paediatrics was the one department where they hammer the sense of carefulness into you everyday. You have to pay attention to every single tiny little thing. You are dealing with tiny little humans after all. A simple mistake can cost lives.

I was fortunate enough to have had the chance of working under some of the smartest and most dedicated people in paediatrics. My time in PICU was spent just trying to not make any mistakes and trying not to shit my pants as I cower in fear in the shadow of the famous consultant there.

That being said, paediatrics was the one posting that thought me the value of perseverance. It was where I saw first-hand the true meaning of doctors being healers. It was where I saw miracles happen.

Emergency & Trauma

Ah, ED. The jungle.

The chaos in ED would make anyone rip their hair out in frustration. Luckily I went into the department together my batchmates as well, and like I said, teamwork is everything.

I would say I learned the most in this department. It is where one get to integrate everything they’ve learned in previous departments and apply it in real life, and sometimes in hair-raising situations. I’ve lost count the number of CPRs I’ve participated in.

The hours are long and the work is exhausting. Add to that the various shenanigans one has to put up with people who treat the ED as their personal pharmacy/free medical consultation clinic, it’s easy to hate the place. Yet strangely I found comfort in the chaos.

In short, ED was fun, and it was over in a blink of an eye.

Finally it was over

My last night shift in ED was a relatively peaceful one. And before I knew it, 2 years of hell was over.

Pictured here with the other survivors of housemanship

To be honest, it didn’t feel as liberating as I thought it would be. With the completion of housemanship, one becomes a medical officer, and that actually is the scary part.

There’s no one to breathe down your neck anymore, yes, but you’ll have to start being the one who makes decisions that will impact another human being directly. The responsibility is tremendous.

I just hope that when the time comes, I’ll be able to make the right decisions  to the best of my ability.

End of Another Year

I cannot believe it’s already the end of 2017, and even more perplexed to find myself struggling to remember what has happened for the past year. Everything seems to be a blur, a life lived as though I wasn’t in control, a life in which things happened before I could comprehend the full magnitude of it all.

All I know is, I have more or less settled into life as a HO in this hospital. The daily grind, the exhaustion, the toxic people I deal with daily at work – all these things have definitely changed me, and I hope for the better. Things don’t seem as difficult as when I first started. I guess that’s what they mean by grit – the more you put yourself into uncomfortable territories, the more you grow and adapt. It doesn’t matter whether you like it or not, what matters is just turning up and getting shit done.

Then there was another life-changing event that happened right at the beginning of the year that seemed to throw a wrench into everything. Yet I know I walked away from it a changed man who has a different worldview now. Alas, life is never a fairy tale. Yet there’s always a silver lining in everything, and when things seem to be darkest, that’s when the slightest sliver of light becomes a ray of life-giving sunshine.

That being said, 2018 represents a new beginning, a chance to wash away all the filth and start on a clean slate. It also represents a major fork in my journey in life since I have to make a career pathway decision pretty soon.

Here’s to another great year, and hopefully it won’t be another blurry, forgettable one. Happy new year folks.