My Birthday – Year 2014

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Official annual birthday celebration has just passed. To me, it is just another day except that I do annual review of my life thus far. In the past, birthdays were big deals, where I must have my cake and candles to make wishes to and blow them out. These last few years, cake and candles were no longer important though sometimes dear hubby would buy a chocolate cake for me. No one else eat the cake in the family. Such a waste. Instead, I prefer to paste a picture of a lovely cake on my Whatsapp profile for the day. That should be good enough for me.

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My favourite flowers to decorate my screen. So pleasant to look at. As a treat on my special day, I only did the things that I enjoy doing. Every year, I spent almost the whole day at the bookstores but not this year.

This year, after so many years, my parents were here with me on my birthday. Truly blessed. We had birthday lunch together, after accompanying dad to his doctor appointment in the morning. It was a special and meaningful day for us all.

What have I learnt, directly (personal experience or self discovery) and indirectly (learned from other’s experience), for the past 12 months as compared to the previous year? Am I any wiser? Let’s see….and here goes the list :

1) it is alright to be mean simply to be kind. Some people needs to be left alone to deal with his/her issues to learn from them. If at each trouble, we lend a hand and brain, issues resolved by us and not by them. It is no wonder they repeat the same mistakes over and over, hoping that someone will come to the rescue again and again. Nope, the bug stops right here. I have learnt to stop myself from getting into my rescue gear when I recognise the familiar pattern of wrongdoings by the persons. It is hard not to help but I kept telling myself that he/she has to “Deal with it!”.

2) blood means relative and may not necessarily mean family. I have bad experiences directly and indirectly, sad to say. It is bitter and painful to swallow. In our minds, we shall always have a beautiful family, extended family, etc. Family means harmony and vice versa. But, when it is put to the test, hardship always reveals how strong is your blood ties. This is when you see more clearly if your ties are relative or family. What is family? Love, care, loyalty, to name a few. Certainly not lip service nor running to hide when the going gets tough and tougher.

3) health is a continuous effort of caring for self well-being. You must have the desire to be well before you can adopt a healthy lifestyle. What is considered healthy? To my understanding, being healthy means eating balanced diet, breathing in more oxygen, smile more, laugh more, having sufficient deep sleep, working without procrastinating as last-minute rush causes mores stress, managing stress by keeping it at bay, not worrying too much, adopt a more positive life outlook, praying daily and so on. No amount of words can change a person until the person is willing to make the change. Health is not about taking care of body but the mind too. A strong mind plays an important role to a person’s well-being. What goes into the mind determines what you think, do and feel. So, be cautious of what we feed our mind. Give boosters like positive and happy thoughts. Mix around with the right people. Trust me, it is super hard to be positive when surrounded by negative people all day and night long. Eventually, when you can’t beat them, you end up joining them. Talk about peer pressure and influence.

4) be careful when selecting life partner/husband/wife. Our parents always remind us to marry the right person. The right person doesn’t have to mean someone who comes in wealth and looks. I see the right spouse/partner as being someone who makes you grow and be a better person than who you used to be. Someone to share a more meaningful life with. Where we encourage each other towards achieving mutual life goals. We are each other’s anchor and home base. Cross motivation is important in a growing marriage and expanding family. As for me, if I could turn back the clock, I’d still choose the same husband over and over again. He may not be perfect to the 10, he is someone whom I can trust and depend on. He may not meet my ideal criteria but I am not an ideal person either. We can accept our good and not so perfect qualities. We are always making sure that whatever we do it is all about “US” as a couple and family. For the good of the family and the people whom we come into contact with, who have treated us well. Why is the choice of life partner so important to one’s life? The partner has great influence, one way of the other, to either build you up or ruin you to pieces. I’ve seen it happening. Therefore, it is wise to be selective and trust your gut feelings when making that choice.

5) when situation gets tough, go back to basics. Then, re-look at the whole plan. Make necessary changes to suit the condition before moving forward again. In life, nothing is permanent. Not even a plan. We need to review when faced with obstacles, make changes if necessary, but keep the final goal in sight. There are times when we have no alternative but to abort the whole plan and start all over again. Embrace change. Please bear in mind that there is no short cut to success. Forget about get rich or instant success schemes. Don’t be fooled by such schemes that most often than not, lead you to serious troubles. Success requires patience and doing the right thing right. Seek a good and sincere mentor. Do not follow blindly. Keep a positive mindset and remain calm. Calmness allows us to think more clearly and rationally. When we react and make hasty decisions, we may end up worse off. That causes not mere misery but time wasted as well.

6) never be ashamed to seek help/support. We know where our limit lies. If we are too weak, too confused, too sad, in any situation which we ourselves can’t handle it alone, reach out. Whether to family members, friends or support groups. You never know how much better you’ll feel when you receive such moral support regardless from known persons or total strangers sharing the same situations, locally or internationally. The magic of sharing is so divine that it lifts your spirit, owing to endless wishes and prayers that come your way across the miles and continents. It is amazing to learn that people see no boundaries….no colours, religions, age, gender and nothing else to separate us all. We are just human beings per se, coming together to wish only the best to everyone who crosses our paths, offer our daily prayers, sharing of knowledge and similar experience or discoveries, offering words of comfort, virtual hugs flow in from all directions. It is most soothing to know we are not suffering alone. Most people are full of empathy and compassion! I felt that. I experienced that. I knew that. And, I shall keep the chain going around. What I have received, I shall also give out again to those who need the support when one is struggling, fighting to survive, feeling so alone and helpless, etc.

7) a plan remains a nice plan to look at when there is no action. We heard many tips about how to plan well, effective planning that works, don’t fail to plan, and many more. Well, planning is a good to-do-list item. What must follow immediately after drawing up a plan is ACTION. No action equals to no results. Having the intention to do something new or different is good. Having the right intention is awesome. So what? I have made several wonderful plans, but wishes and prayers alone won’t work. The lazy bones have to start acting before the plan takes effect. Procrastination is the thief of time. Very true! It also gives us more stress which is bad, bad, bad for the body and soul. Taking the first step, writing the first page is always, always difficult. But, once we get through the firsts, the rests would become easier and easier as we go along. Gotta get into the mood…if can’t get in, drive/speed into the mood, so to say (LOL!). The correct word is MUST! No more trying or doing my best. I must do it!

8) take time to say “thank you”. Many people often remind one another to apologise. There are even songs about apologies! I do agree that we must apologise when we do something wrong. Let’s not let a good gesture or deed past without saying “thank you”. Show gratitude to people who have taken time and effort to offer a helping hand or a kind word at time of distress, including gifts of love. Send a card, physical card or e-greeting card can do, or just say it. It is the thought that counts. Let me ask you, when someone says “thank you” to you, how do you feel? Feel good, isn’t it? Why not spread gratitude and smiles around? It doesn’t cost us much (if you are thinking of buying a card and postage). Do that to your family members, friends, teachers, doctors, bosses, associates, hosts, colleagues, good service providers, anyone and everyone who have done something good for you.

9) keeping a journal has its benefits. When angry, disappointed, sad or any negative feeling, we need an outlet for such emotions. If we don’t “bite our tongues” fast enough, we would end up breathing fire and shooting hurtful words to those close to us which we would regret later. Best to write in a journal. Pour your heart’s content onto the piece of paper. Once all are calm again, tear the pages out, then throw away (shred or burn them). If it is about something positive, keep a journal for a collection of self-development and achievement. When you are down, this journal will motivate you and pump positive boosters into your brains.

10) sharing something good is fine but do not preach and insist your good practice/belief/life principles on others. When something wonderful happened to us, it is only natural to share with others. We love to share good stuffs with our loved ones because we care deeply for them. No harm in that but do be mindful that sharing has its limit. Do not preach endlessly or insist your practice or belief on others. Please understand that for the person to take your advice and follow your footsteps, or not at all, it is entirely up to him/her. Let’s not make a relationship or friendship more complicated.

I always believe that living on this earth has its purpose. Our purpose is to live a meaningful life and then, share what we have with others, hopefully making others live their lives as meaningful as ours, if not more. Not all of us can afford to give out money to make others’ lives better. But, what most of us can do, which is even more magical that money, is to feed the soul. Advice, encouragement, motivation, hugs, moral support, prayers, our time to do something for others are some of the wonderful gifts we can give to others. Small gestures do make a big difference. So, don’t wait for the right time to perform big gesture. The right time is now, no matter how small it is. It may be not so meaningful it the giver but it could mean a world to the receiver.

That is the update for being one year older for me. What about you? What have you learnt over the past 12 months? Make it a point to do review to track your self-development on your birthday. It is a way to find out how well you have done over the year, or not so well and therefore, buck up and do something for a change. On jobs, we have job performance review at the end of the year or half-yearly. Why not for our self-development? Start doing it at your next birthday!

My best wishes go out to my wonderful, loyal readers. Thank you for taking time off to read my posts. I hope it touches your life one way or another to make a small difference for the better. Cheers!

~ Alice N.


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Dad’s Health Journal

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I decide to create a new category in my blog, specially dedicated to a great man, my father. This shall be his health journal. I shall update his progress here, sharing with my wonderful readers, the journey dad would be taking in treating his condition.

Dad was a planter all his career life. He successfully managed rubber and oil palm plantation, from his first estate to the following, till he retired. His skills and knowledge are greatest assets to any planter. Till today, he still can remember very clearly the processes involving seeding to replanting to harvesting and so on.

Beginning of July 2014, out of the blue mom told me that dad has been losing appetite and weight ever since Father’s Day. She didn’t want to tell me much earlier for fear I’d be worried sick. Whenever I called them, they sounded their usual self. His blood sugar shot up too. His occasional nose bleeds, more like spotting I was told. Dad said he saw the local ENT but they couldn’t find anything wrong with the nose. Something was amiss but I didn’t know what. My gut feelings told me that he needs proper medical examination without any further delay.

The list of examinations started from 7/7/2014. Less than 2 weeks to his birthday. I was glad that dad managed to see Dr SP Chan of SJMC. Her calendar was full. I tried asking for an appointment but to no avail. I went into the medical centre online appointment and wrote the reasons for such urgency for this appointment to be on 7/7/2014. I was so relieved that someone from the calling centre called me on a Saturday evening to speak to me in response to that online submission.

Dr Chan discovered a few things from the blood test, x-Ray and ultrasound on the chest and liver. She immediately referred dad to a renowned gastroenterologist. Thank God, Dr Yin advised dad to see him early the next morning. Meanwhile, dad was put on insulin and change of Blood Pressure (BP) medicine. Ms Yong, a consultant at the diabetes care was so patient and kind. She briefed us about cause and effect of diabetes, then taught mom and dad on the use of insulin. This was something very foreign to us. Mom kept asking if he could do without the insulin. I consoled her that if he could, the good doctor would have prescribed it. Let us follow the doctor’s advice and act accordingly. I’m sure dad’s condition will become better under the care of Dr Chan.

The following morning, another blood test was called for. Dr Yin ordered for a CT Scan in next morning. In the meantime, we were all cheering dad on for the insulin and blood sugar self-tests. These things were new to him and being clumsy at them was only natural. I could see he painstakingly try to hide his anxiety and frustration from us. For all the medical exams that needed fasting, I fasted together with him. That was the most I could do to share his discomforts. I wished that I could cast them away and put things right again. But, that’s impossible. So instead, I shall pray to Almighty God for serenity, courage, strength and patience. I have to be strong for the family.

Following the CT Scan, dad had to returned for endoscope. I could feel mom and dad were getting more and restless and anxious by the day. I kept reminding him not worry about anything else except to take care of himself following doctors advice. We shall soldier on, one way or another. I am sure when there is a will, there is a way. At time like this, I am most grateful for my husband. He has been the pillar of strength throughout the whole process. He made mom and dad felt more relaxed with his constant assurance.

From the endoscope results, dad was referred to an Oncologist. As I was still concerned about dad’s nose bleed, Dr Yin referred us to an ENT specialist, Dr Puravi. Another wonderful doctor. He introduced neti pot to us. I read about the benefits of neti potting some years back. I was most glad to know more now.

Our meeting with Dr Matin, the Oncologist was another pleasant encounter. Again, thanking our stars and thank God for letting us meet all the wonderful doctors at time like this. Doctor indicated the condition as GISTs. The mass seen in the liver showed the spread of the tumours from the stomach. However, we had to wait for the IHC report for any treatment to be prescribed. Highly likely via a drug called Gleevec (or, Glivec) if the type of GISTs matches. Just yesterday, I went to see Dr Matin for the IHC report. It was confirmed GISTs and the type which can receive Gleevec. That was one good news, I guess. Hopefully, dad’s tumour would respond to the drug and tumours shrunk. We shall see the doctor again in a month’s time to check how he responds to the medication.

For now, we skip around the C word. We do not want to scare mom, if she hasn’t known as much. I need her to be her normal self. No point getting upset or being pessimistic about the whole issue. Dad needs more positive energy around him and I would very much like to keep it that way. You know, mind over body. Moreover, we have the medication and a good doctor with us. There is always hope.

To sum it all up, thank you SJMC and all those great doctors mentioned herein. Not to forget those hardworking support staffs who make all things bearable, with as simplest gesture as an understanding and consoling smile. Smiles were readily exchanged along the corridor, clinics, cashiers…..everywhere!

Thank you so very much!

~ Alice N.


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Happy 76th Birthday, Father!

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My father is 76 years old today. Happy Birthday, dearest father! Wishing you continuous good health and may your days be filed with happiness and laughter always. I love you, Dad!

For those of you who have read my past posts about my dad and on Father’s Day, you’ll know him better. You can say that he was my first mentor with whom I learned to be independent, about decision-making, management, leadership, kindness, generosity, selflessness, gratitude, forgiveness and many more, since I was 6 years old (that is how far back I could remember vividly). He set a firm foundation for me to stand on and walk with two feet planted firmly on the ground. I am who I am partly because of the “early grooming” by my dad.

For the past weeks, dad hasn’t been well. He is not the usual strong and active man I have always known. Putting on a brave front, he painfully makes himself look OK. We could see that something wasn’t quite right. When I asked, he would leisurely brushed my concern aside and told me not to worry my little head off. His doctors said he was fine. I doubt that.

I insisted and got him to agree to have himself checked out by doctors of my choice. I thank God for letting us meet with all the great doctors. Wherever we went, we were greeted by friendly, helpful and kind doctors, nurses and other ground staffs. Hats off to Ramsay Sime Darby Medical Centre.

Being a strong-willed and independent man, he would mask any discomfort he felt so that mom, my brothers, nephew and I won’t be worried. I know that he is not used to feeling weak like this. I’m sure it is not easy for him to reverse the roles; to be taken care of now instead of him taking care of us. Let me caution you….If you ever bumped into my dad and I, you will spot an elderly man carrying shopping basket/bag walking next to his adult daughter. If he can help it, he will not allow me to carry any basket or bag at all (LOL!). That is my dad. To him, I shall always be his little girl.

Happy Birthday, Dearest Dad! I pray to Almighty God and the Universe that he continues to be positive and strong no matter what life serves to him. On his birthday, I wish that he will be blessed with better health and live well. Dad is a wonderful person with a beautiful heart. He never fails to bring laughter and joy to people around him, young and old. He is a charming gentleman. He deserves life’s best and I am more than willing to pamper him as much as he has been pampering me, if not more.

Dad, let me be the pillar for you to lean on when you are tired. Let me shower you with life’s best and spoil you with love. Let me share your worries, pain, sadness and fear, if any. Let me take over the driver’s seat while you sit next to me enjoying the ride and scenery. Let me carry the burden and lighten the weight on your shoulders. Though we live miles apart, you will always be in my thoughts and prayers. I shall always be there when you need me. You can always count on me, Dad, rain or shine.

HAPPY 76TH BIRTHDAY, DEAREST FATHER! I LOVE YOU….

~ Alice N.


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19th Anniversary

We have come this far, almost 2 decades! Imagine how one feels sharing his/her life with another for that long and years to come.

From mere two people, expanding the family with the addition of little members, building a home to house all and facing daily challenges to keep everyone together.

What I learnt from all these years of being married….

1. We must have common goal(s) and family values;

2. Respect each other and each other’s space;

3. Speak up or write when something goes wrong in the relationship/marriage. It is not OK to feel lousy alone. Share it so the other would know how it is affecting you.

4. Don’t expect the other person to be like us. (Think / Do / Feel). Such expectations kills a marriage with slow death.

5. Avoid confrontation. Speak when cooled down. Silent when feeling heated up, or walk away for a breather. Emotion is more stable when calmed. More can be achieved then.

6. A line must be drawn on what are not to be tolerated. It goes for both parties.

7. Perform your duties as a husband /wife, not just economically but social well-being too. Be the strength of support to your partner.

8. Selective hearing/feeling/action….compromise whenever you can.

9. No place for ego. Fight for the marriage (All win), not personal victory (All lose).

10. Be Grateful to each other. Count your blessings.

11. Not everyone says “Sorry”. Look with your heart and eyes….it could be “sorry” being displayed by action. Receive it as good.

12. Have separate bank accounts, assets, credit cards, hobbies/interests, friends, etc. besides common ones.

13. You have chosen your partner. Stay loyal / faithful to the chosen one. If you have to “move on” under any circumstances, have a clean and fair break with the one who first built this family with you.

14. Things change, people change. Do not remain static at one level, or you’ll be left behind. Don’t be complacent. Upgrade yourself, learn a new skill, language, grooming, go for further education. Take good care of yourself too.

15. Love yourself and learn to be happy for yourself. It is alright. It is not being selfish if you share such love and happiness with your loved ones.

16. Be the companion whom your spouse feels proud and comfortable to be around with.

17. Treat your spouse as how you would treat your good friends.

18. Keep the communication line open. This will avoid unnecessary misunderstanding. People get upset or angry mainly because of misunderstanding.

19. Watch your words. Open the mouth only to speak good words. If you have nothing good to say to the next person, just keep the mouth shut. Cruel words uttered can never be erased from the mind….nothing will be the same ever again.

Life still goes on. Our lives keep changing. I know I have much more to go through, to learn and to live the life that I’m blessed with. Nothing is perfect. Neither am I.

Happy 19th Anniversary, Darling! It is the 19th, not 20th (LOL!). It is just a number, isn’t it?….Love you anyway.

~ Alice N.

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WOMEN AND FINANCE

This is all about women. WOMEN……for men reading this, you love them and sometimes hate them, don’t you? For women reading this, sit up and pay attention. This is important and I want to stress on it again this new year, 2014!

Simply put, it’s about women and money. True, money isn’t everything, but mind you, everything is money. Ask anyone on the street! You can’t literally move to do things without involving money. Time is money – the opportunity cost. I posted before about Financial Planning for Women. In it, I mentioned that most women would at one point in time, be single (again). It could be by choice (stay single, unmarried), divorced or being a widow. The stats recorded that women tend to live longer (than their husbands).

Having said that, wouldn’t women need money to be self-sufficient to last them their lifetime? Married women need to plan as if they are single. Don’t take it for granted that your husband is your retirement plan. He is NOT! If he is, that would be a bonus. Congrats! For now, take it as “NOT”, so plan ahead, solo.

Women, most often than not, would be sandwiched between young, growing family and ageing parents. Taking care of parents’ needs do not only involve time, but money too. Medical expenses, special diet, holiday, etc. Understanding women, they would rather use their own funds to pay for all these, instead of asking from their spouse. Parents are our own responsibility. Of course, no smart women would refuse the generosity of a spouse, to display respect and love for their in-laws.

Then, comes the issue of children’s higher education, the college and/or university fees. Parents always want the best for their children, including or especially education. In most families, our gift as parents to our beloved children would be the “golden key” to achieving financial freedom, and that “golden key” is none other than “Education”. We believe in not serving fish for the kids to eat but to provide them with basic tools to fish for themselves. We firmly believe that education opens doors to better and more secured future. It creates more options for one to choose. Therefore, most parents would strive to save as much for their children’s education. Funding them for as long as they are still studying.

However, if the choice is between children’s education and your retirement, woman, brace yourself and choose your retirement. Why? If you do not have sufficient fund for his/her education, there are other sources. There are study loans available, scholarships, or perhaps, he/she could work part-time. However, if you decide to save for children’s education and left with insufficient fund for own retirement, may I ask, where would be the source of funding for you? Live on charity? Now, do you see my point?

Women are known to take better care of people around them than themselves, especially their loved ones. Where the loved ones are concerned, there is always a bit more energy left, a bit more money spared, there is always time (just take away the me-time, tea time, short rest, even sleep)….the list goes on. It is amazing where they get all the energy from! They work so hard and still able to smile. Please don’t hate them but cherish them.

Men, now this is your part. Encourage your wife, daughter, sister, friends to plan for themselves, for a better tomorrow. If not, YOU better plan well for them. Which, I don’t think you would do or do so well. So, encourage them to seek knowledge or professional advice in financial planning. It is never too early nor too late to plan. Just do it now.

I hope to see more women be financial savvy this new year. Read and understand personal FINANCE. Know what you want and plan to achieve that goal. Dare to dream. You deserve to enjoy life after contributing so much during the earlier years. After planning, act upon it. It is alright to start slow or baby steps as long as you get started. As time goes, as you get more and more familiar with it, you’ll pick up pace and be more daring. Finance may be boring or even scary for some. Face it and you’ll soon realize that there isn’t anything to be afraid of, other than an insecure future, an empty nest for your golden years without planning.

~ Alice N.


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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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My Journey of Continuous Education – Sem 5

One and a half year has passed and I had just completed my 5th semester – all my 10 core and elective courses done. Wondering if it is age factor or what, that I find it getting tougher. This semester seems to be the toughest of them all. I thought, as I go from sem to sem, it should get lighter and easier!

5th sem was the most demanding of all whereby we were required to do mini theses. Meaning, theses that are shrunk into 10-20 pages. Lit reviews, field interviews for research studies, etc. When a thesis is long, we usually face the challenge of getting sufficient content. Conversely, when a thesis is supposed to be short, the great challenge is to “downsize” it by at least 10 times its usual size but, with all important contents remain. No more group projects this semester. One had to do it from A to Z!

Despite the frequent complaints from the heart and tired mind, I found this semester to be most fruitful. Never had I push myself so hard before. Working, playing the role of a mother to my teenager and tweenager, attending social functions and overseas delegations with dear hubby and burning midnight oils to complete my assignments/project papers. Sleeping at 2am+ was a norm, right till the end of the semester, the final exams. Stressed and drained. Amazing where all those energy came from every morning when I woke up…!

What was most fulfilling was that I learnt a lot from the lecturers. They demand for higher standard of works and that pushed us to meet that requirements. My heartfelt thanks to Dr Rizal and Dr Saiful. I told my children, one of the contributing factors of my “survival” was “when the goings get tough, I get tougher”. Also, I kept telling myself that survival and completion of each semester are not options. Just as passing the exams is not an option.

You can’t imagine how many times I read companies’ annual reports, which I had not done before. I did not need to because in the course of my work, someone else would do the reading and analyzing and then compile the reports neatly for my usage. This time around, I had to be on my hands and knees doing the works, reading, understanding and analysing the companies under study. It is a whole load of works but when I finally print and bind the project papers, my heart swell with pride having in my hands, the fruit of my hard labour. I know that I had given my very best to every piece of my work because I spent many nights and small hours going over and over again to perfect them to my satisfaction for the final prints.

During these last two courses, I am most grateful to my ever-loving and supportive husband, children, parents, my wonderful colleagues and Facebook Friends! Not to forget my wonderful classmates too! They were on the sidelines cheering me on, especially when I was at the edge of giving up. Thank you and love you all.

My last challenge is the following two semesters, the last. This one is the finale…..my dissertation. I have to think of a topic to write about, something related to corporate finance, come up with research proposal and then submit to my potential supervisor. Once he or she agrees to take me under the wings, then shall I apply to the Uni before I could start the ball rolling. That’s when the clock start ticking again. Now, thinking of a topic itself is a heavy task. Inspiration….where are thee…

Merger and Acquisition? Corporate Governance? Fellow Uni-mates have been most helpful, sharing ideas with me. Can’t thank you all enough… Liew, Radzi, Fariza. Finally, thanks to my favourite cousin, Ken Teh and his charming wife, for the invaluable advice shared over lunch.

Now, I have to do my part and do it well. Choosing the right topic is of utmost importance, just as important as a singing talent selecting her songs to perform. The choice could either break you or build you. This shall be the last lap to finish line. I envision myself to be one of the participants in the 2014 UUM Convocation. With blessings from so many supportive people around me and God willing, I shall achieve it.

This is it….results should be out by the first week of January 2014. Fingers crossed. Meanwhile, I am going to pamper myself and my family for a while.

~ AliceN.


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