Today is the last day of 2016. As I look back at the year, I am filled with mixed feeling. Someone said that every year, like wine, has its own flavour. I cannot agree more. At times, 2016 was sweet like a Vin Santo Rosso but at other times, it was overwhelming like a Cabernet Sauvignon.
The election of Trump as the next President of USA is probably one of the biggest stories of the year. The British voted in favour of Brexit. The migrant crisis and ISIS provided horror stories aplenty. The price of crude oil hit record lows. We saw the world being swept by a non-fatal epidemic – the Pokemeon Go. And we got tortured by the atrocious song PPAP Pen Pinapple Apple Pen by Piko Taro.
At home in Malaysia, it has been a dismal year. The Rio Olympics provided moments of joy with Malaysia winning 4 silvers and 1 bronze. The country seems to be sinking into an abyss of gloom. There has been little to cheer about on the political front. We see many politicians making a clown of themselves. The Malaysian Ringgit has been dropping all year, making it tougher and tougher for the ordinary Malaysians to cope.
The second half of 2016 brought one heartbreak after another for me and my family. It was like a Vin Santo Rosso turning bad to become bitter like Tongkat Ali but without the benefits of the Asian aphrodisiac. On August 30, my dearest mum succumbed to her lung cancer after a year-long struggle but we were comforted by the fact that she passed on so peacefully without much suffering. And then came the shocking demise of my nephew Lawrence Lim Wui Kiet at the age of 37 from a massive heart attack on the morning of October 25. It was so heartbreaking to see his life ending so prematurely and the grief his passing inflicted on my brother Chin Tian, my sister-in-law Christina Sio and Lawrence’s wife Cathryn. And just 3 days ago, on December 28, my brother-in-law Chieng Yew Kuok had a fatal heart attack while he was attending a wedding dinner. His passing dealt a devastating blow to his wife (my wife’s younger sister), his three sons and his only daughter. His funeral will be held tomorrow, on the first day of 2017, when the whole world is welcoming the arrival of a new year. Within a time frame of 4 months, I lost my mum, my nephew and my brother-in-law.
Because of my mum’s cancer, I made numerous trips back to Kuching in 2016 to spend time with her. I will always remember the stories she shared with me and the chats we had during my trips to Kuching. I would sometimes share with her the photos I took in my brother’s garden. And she liked seeing photos of our old friends from Bintangor so I showed her such photos from Facebook. The trips to Kuching also allowed me to meet up with several of my Kolej Bujang mates and to spend some time with all my nieces, grandnieces and my grandnephew in Kuching.
2016 brought its share of cheer and joy to our family. It was gratifying to see my nephew Lim Wui Zhuan and my niece Angel Lim graduating with their Masters degrees. It is also uplifting to see my nephew Leroy Lim progressing well in his Bachelor of Medicine studies, on course to follow in the footsteps of his two sisters Lorraine and Angel who are both doctors. I feel happy for my nephew Esmond Ngieng who left for Adelaide to further his studies and also for my nephews Terrence Lim and Gerald Chieng who registered their marriages to Eva Chu and Mei Mei respectively. I pray that my nephews Gerald Chieng and Boiboy Chieng who opened their own hair saloons this year will carve a name for themselves in the hair styling industry. It was also a joy to witness the marriage of my niece Carissa T’en to Yeo Jia Lim just a week ago.
The trip to Brisbane and Gold Coast in June was a most memorable one for me, my wife and my son Leslie. We owe our heartfelt thanks to my ex-Kai Chung classmate Siong Choi Fung for her immense hospitality for not only inviting us to stay at her house but also taking time off to act as our tour guide during the entire duration of our stay in Australia. A million thanks, Choi Fung!
The trip to Taiwan in October was another memorable trip. Our hired drivers Coke Liao and his friend Ching Man Zhu made sure that the seven of us (me, my wife, my son Leslie, my mother-in-law and three of my sister-in-laws Margaret, Angela and Shirley) had a great time.
The sale of Perdana Trading Company (a partnership with a few of my in-laws) to a lady and her husband brought a tinge of sadness as the partnership has been in operation for 30 years. But it was time to move on as everyone was tired of doing stationery business for the last 3 decades.
I was also filled with a sense of inner joy when I received a letter from World Vision in June that my sponsored child Ha Van Minh in Vietnam doesn’t require my sponsoring anymore as he has found a job. He has been under my sponsorship since 2008 and I am glad that I have made a difference in his life.
On January 14, I had my first ever live interview on REDfm Sarawak in regards to the Kolej Tun Datuk Tuanku Haji Bujang Year 1975-1976 Reunion. The interviewer was none other than my fellow college mate Rosalind Tan, the popular REDfm DJ. Thank you Rosalind for this wonderful opportunity!
The Kolej Reunion from January 25 till the morning of January 27 was truly grand and most memorable. The organising committee, with the help of many Kolejians, pulled off the best reunion ever. Being the treasurer for the reunion, I know how generous some of my fellow Kolejians were. God bless you all!
I took up poetry writing in March through the encouragement of my college mate Tingang Trang. Tingang is a master in poem writing. I churned out quite a lot of poems, most of which were mediocre at best in my personal opinion. But what the heck! At least I tried and I find it personally inspiring to be able to read my own poems. Dr Margaret Trey, a Sarawakian Foochow married to a German and currently residing in New York, praised me for my blog articles and encouraged me to publish my own books based on my blog articles. Dr Margaret, who has a Doctorate in Counselling, is herself an author of a few books which she is selling on Amazon. Thank you Margaret for your encouragement. I promise I will give your suggestion serious consideration.
This year, I got hooked by a Singaporean author by the name of Kevin Kwan. His satirical novels Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend were a delight to read. I read quite a lot of books this year, with “Journey Under The Midnight Sun”, “Malice” and “A Midsummer’s Equation” by Keigo Higashino and “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins among my favourites for the year.
I bought a Huawei P9 smartphone after my two Xiaomis “died” within a few months of usage. I am pretty impressed with the camera of the P9 and have been taking lots of photos using it. My Canon DSLR has been relegated to a backseat now.
2017 will commence tomorrow. I pray that 2017 will leave me with a better taste. Maybe a taste like Mao Shan Wang durians?