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Remembering a great mentor


Soo was a much-loved columnist in The Star.

Soo was a much-loved columnist in The Star.

 The late Soo Ewe Jin inspired many with his wise words and kind-heartedness. 

RACE relations seem to have taken centre stage these days.

Today, we are concerned that fellow Malaysians used to be better at dealing with each other years ago.

Many of us believe that Malaysians were more tolerant and patient then.

I will put the blame squarely on the politicians, who use race and religion, which is surely toxic for Malaysia.

The colour of our heart is not the same as that of our skin.

It is time we have the heart to care for everyone, irrespective of race, that deep down we are all Malaysians.

But strangely race and religion take a back seat in our hospitals.

I remember my dear ex-colleague, Soo Ewe Jin, who used to share with me of his many visits to the hospitals in Klang Valley.

He would meet and console cancer victims and share his many battles against the dreaded cancer.

All of them, regardless of their race, would listen attentively to Ewe Jin, who himself, eventually lost the battle, but these cancer patients did not see Ewe Jin as a Chinese.

They regarded him as a caring Malaysian. They saw him as one of them.

They saw him as a kind-hearted Malaysian who was there to listen to them, most times, even better than their children, who would just pop by as a matter of duty rather than to listen to them.

I will never forget what Ewe Jin, whose column in the Sunday Star had a huge following with his kind words and thoughts, shared with me on visiting hospitals in Klang Valley as therapy.

When he first brought this up over tea, I actually thought it was a joke.

Malaysians are, after all, quite wary of going to hospitals unless it is necessary.

But everything changed when he finished his story.

Like him, I have now made it a point to visit friends and relatives at hospitals whenever I can.

It was really a wake-up jolt.

I would recommend some of our politicians and activists to do the same.

Let us take note of the fact that racism is the refuge for ignorants.

When one is about to meet God, the person is not worried about whether he or she has done the right things in their lifetime.

The person, in facing judgment day, has no time for political bravado, particularly those that are offensive.

At the hospitals, we all want the best medical help from the most capable and competent doctors and nurses.

None of us ask for their race or religion.

Why would we care about their ethnicity or religion when we just want to be cured?

“No one is born hating another because of the colour of his skin, race or religion.

“If people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes naturally from the heart,” Nelson Mandela said.

It will be utterly useless to have a doctor or a nurse of our own race and religion if they cannot to do a good job.

No matter how high or powerful you are in social status, we are all equal.

None of us had a choice to be born in the race, wealth or who our parents will be.

That is why it is good therapy for some of our politicians and activists to visit hospitals.

Even patients, who are in the hospital wards, mellow down as they exchange stories of how each of them is coping with their sickness.

Most no longer have the energy to be wasted on meaningless politics that seem to have taken up the time of ordinary Malaysians.

Essentially at hospitals, we get our priorities right.

At hospitals, too, we realise that some of our problems, that we often whine so much about, really are of little significance.

We thank the Man up there that He has spared us of the many unfortunate instances that have afflicted others, who are less lucky and are struggling to cope with it.

It is at such times that we humbled ourselves a bit.

Perhaps, in the run-up to the National Day, some of our politicians and activists, with their venomous political talk, should visit some of our Kuala Lumpur hospitals.

Be genuine, do not bring the media along merely for picture opportunities.

They would also see that the blood that is donated by people of all races is of the same colour. We are all the same.

Has anyone, in need, ever asked whose blood are these?

We all belong to one race, the human race. It is one blood, and it is one red blood.

Thank you, Ewe Jin, for reminding us that as human beings and as Malaysians, we need to find time to care for each other more.

To be truly human is a gift. Having a kind and helpful attitude contributes everyone’s happiness.

M. Krishnamoorthy, a former journalist with The Star, is thankful to his mentor and former Sunday Star editor Soo Ewe Jin who inspired him to write more people-centric stories.

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