Saturday, 28 January 2012

Liew Wan Kean blogs from South Africa

Liew Wan Kean and daughter

One of my classmates, Chen May Yee, recently started One Brain Blog, to capture the stories of Malaysian returnees, thinking-of-returnees and i-will-never-returnees. She featured another one of our classmates, Liew Wan Kean, in a recent post and I'm sharing part of the story here.

Name: Liew Wan Kean but in Joburg, I had to simplify to Wan Liew (to make life less stressful for others and myself.)

Age: Let’s just say I’m in the same league (age wise!) as J Lo, Lucy Liu, Jenn Aniston, Demi Moore, Cameron Diaz…

Hometown: Born, raised, schooled and worked in Kuala Lumpur.

Current city: Some would refer to the place I live - Johannesburg, South Africa – as the crime capital of the world. But I think we lost that status when we successfully hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup!!!

No of years abroad: 8

What do you do for a living?

Indirectly changing the African continent!! (emphasis on IN directly aah..) I am the Director of Conferencing and Events for African Leadership Academy (ahem, Yah, Africa needs good future leaders. No more Mugabe, Gaddhafi, Mubarak type of dictators.

You’ve heard of Oprah Winfrey’s leadership academy? She develops high school girls from SA to be leaders. Our academy’s mission is to develop the next generation of African leaders, both boys and girls. ALA supports them in universities (mainly in America) and beyond. I am continuously inspired by the work of our founders and the kids on campus.

What do you like about where you live?

In no particular order:

  1. Simple lifestyle. Less competition. No keeping up with the Joneses. Less pressure.
  2. Outdoor activities. Picnics at the park. Fresh air and sunshine.
  3. Society is more open minded. I can be who I am, think, say and do what I want, wear what I want… and no one really bats an eyelid (as long as it’s legal and I’m responsible for my actions!)
  4. 4 seasons
  5. People here think I am thin and young looking. Bwah bwah bwah..
  6. Unlike in KL, where I have to buy clothes with ‘L’ size, here, I can even buy at the petite section!
  7. Better traffic.
  8. Peoples’ love for animals, especially their dogs!! A walk in the park is never boring!
  9. Senior citizens’ zest for life, unlike the mindset of senior Msians, who dare not venture out. Here – old people still work in offices, old ladies colour their hair, wear make-up, get their nails done, old couples still hold hands when they walk in the park…
  10. I still can have a maid! Maids everywhere. They come looking for you. No need look for them.
  11. Not many toll roads here. In KL, as soon as I drive out of my ‘taman’ and through the smart tag lane, the diminishing value in my ‘touch n go’ is immediately flashed ‘in my face’…ouch..

What do you not like about where you live?

In no particular order and not all impact me personally:

  1. The crime rate and their horrors. This may sound downright rude but the robberies and murders in Msia are REALLY amateurish compared to the intensity here. Our daily news is filled with horrendous murders, rapes, hijacking, missing children etc. Sadly, many cases are not followed-up due to lack of resources. Too many criminals, too few police… Some policemen have criminal records!! Every other person I know here have either (or know someone close who) lost someone in a robbery or hijack or drunk driving accident or suicide. Every organisation or school has a trauma counsellor.
  2. Just like most politicians around the world, politicians here are corrupt, liars and stupid. It’s really embarrassing. How can you have a toothless educational minister? Our President Jacob Zuma (JZ) is known as the showerhead man because he once said taking a shower after unprotected sex can prevent you from contracting the HIV virus. BTW, he has 4 wives and the 4th one, he had to marry after she got pregnant with his love child. So, that meant he had unprotected sex! And he is the leader of SA – the country with the highest number of people infected by the HIV virus! Hoiii….what kind of example is he setting?
  3. The gap between the rich and poor is huge. Too many beggars. Too many child beggars. Too many mothers with babies begging by the streets. Too many townships (poor living in shacks), even right across the affluent suburbs.
  4. Medical care is very expensive.
  5. Society security and employee benefits pretty much non-existent. No compulsory EPF contribution from employer or employee. No such thing as 3 months paid maternity leave!!!
  6. Petrol/fuel is still very expensive and worse, they tend to increase every month..(me not smiling)
  7. Not many good public (state) schools and teachers left. I guess that’s similar to Malaysia. Private education is extremely expensive here.
  8. Society (particularly the older generation) is not as integrated as M’sians. I guess they only have about 17 years of independence/democracy since Apartheid ended. So, generally, the Whites (English) still stick with Whites. The Afrikaans still stick with Afrikaans. The Coloured still stick with Coloureds. The Blacks still stick with Blacks. The Indians still stick with Indians. We do start to see some varsity students cross races (cultures) hanging out together but still not like what I see at Starbucks or Dome at KLCC.