About Abdillah Zamzuri



With education and entrepreneurship at the core of everything I do, this blog serves to provide you with information from my perspective, based on my knowledge, skills and experience on various issues close to my heart namely, general education, peacebuilding, public speaking, civil society and theatre/ drama.

Ask Your Member-of-Parliament

If you’re living in Singapore and you belong to the community that is affected by Malay/Muslim policies that the government rolls out. You’d probably want to carry on reading this.

As of last Friday, 11 April 2014, Minister for Communications and Information, and Minister for Muslim Affairs, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, will be going ‘LIVE’ on air, on Warna 94.2FM from 5pm – 6pm, every fortnightly to answer your questions or listen to your views on the state of the community, on a new programme called, “Tanya AP anda” (Ask your MP).

This initiative is only going to run for 11 episodes ONLY, and since the first episode has passed, you only have 10 more episodes to go.

So, how can you contribute to this segment?

  1. CALL 6691-1942 when the show is on air.
  2. Comment on Warna 94.2FM Facebook page, http://www.fb.com/warna942
  3. EMAIL warna@mediacorp.com.sg

Personally, I think it’s a good outreach that the government and Malay Minister is trying to do, although of course, it’s intentions are questionable as how most of you sceptics would think so too with the only one being:

  • Politics at Play
    You’re a politician, your party has lost a GRC and an SMC to the opposition for the first time in history. Your community is famous for being swing voters, which may give a win or lose result to the constituencies. Ground sentiments are anti-party, your party. So, obviously, some work has to be done on the ground and best way is still through the mass media outlets and radio, as a channel where people still listen and get emotionally connected to/with has proven to still be one of the best media channels.

Otherwise, I would say that regardless of the political strategies in place, to win votes in the next General Elections (which I strongly this is part of the outreach strategy), it’s a good initiative nonetheless.

It provides an opportunity for the captive audience (home-makers and the elderly), to air their views and concerns since most of them are probably less IT-savvy and wouldn’t use the internet as much as the young. 

There is no doubt that there is plenty of misinformation and misinterpretation on the ground with regards to policies and this gives them a good opportunity to try to understand and learn about what policies mean. I can only hope that there is sufficient enquiries to air these concerns because otherwise, it will only be another under-utilized platform.

So, if you’re a Muslim and you’ve got questions to ask or opinions to share, I hope you understand the Malay language enough to be able to understand what is being shared on radio. Otherwise, perhaps you could just surf on to Warna 94.2FM facebook page to air your views and hopefully, get a reply in English there.

On a sidenote, I think it’s also a good opportunity for those of us who’s Malay Language isn’t that good, to be listening to this, so we are forced to listen and understand.

Rags to Riches – You could be one

We all love to hear rags to riches stories and we never get bored of them. They inspire and motivate us on the large possibilities in life, on overcoming adversities and on how it’s never just about luck, but about how to create that luck and opportunity for yourself.

I’ve got my own story to share.

It’s not mine, it’s my family’s and I wasn’t aware of the structure of the story until recently when my mom visited Singapore, on her regular visa extension stay.

It’s common for me and my mom to discuss on issues related to money, religion and society. She loves to save, she’s frugal, she’s a devout Muslim and while she doesn’t champion for causes for the society, she is very much aware of what happens and has had her own personal encounters through her network of friends and it was during one of our conversations on money that she shared with me this.

She told me that I must never forget where and how our family was in the past. At this juncture, the only memory I had when I was a kid was living in a 3-room HDB flat in Yishun, that was it. I knew we lived in Ang Mo Kio when I was too young to have any recollection of memories and that my parents used to rent a room when they were a newly married couple with my sister when she was a baby.

Little did I know that this is how the structure looked like.

Rented a Room > 1 Room Flat > 3 Room Flat > 4 Room Flat > 4 Room Flat > 3 Room Flat > 7ha of Land

Total time taken?

30 years

Yes, I know it took 30 years because when they got married, it had to be 5 years before I was born (1 Room Flat) and at the time when they moved back to my dad’s homeland, I was 25.

But this progression was equally tiring and painful as well for both my mom and dad.

My dad’s career progression:

Construction Worker > Diver > Sailor > Captain > Tug Master > Self declared retirement cum Property developer cum Entrepreneur

He came to Singapore as a 13 year old and began working as a construction worker with barely a P6 education. One of the few lessons my dad always taught me was to study hard and he would be there to study with me, especially in mathematics. He would make me memorize the multiplication table almost every night, after dinner when I was 8. 

If I got it wrong, I had to go memorize it again. He was good in maths and physics despite. That’s one thing I can’t deny and for someone with only a P6 education, he writes in manuscript. I always thought it was horrible handwriting because I could never read them. Little did I know, he was much better than me in handwriting.

He’s an inspiration for me and gives me hope knowing that if you work hard and continuously improve yourself and work towards your goal, you can get there. 

I mean, he would always tell me that growing up, the only clothes he had were the ones he was wearing. He’d wash them at night before he slept and wear them again in the morning, EVERY SINGLE DAY. If that’s not poor, I’m not sure what that is.

Mom on the other hand, had a totally different experience in her working life:

Clerk at ROMM > Homemaker cum Seamstress cum Entrepreneur

I don’t think she ever knew she was running a business from her own kitchen, taking in orders from people to sew clothes for them. She always had an eye for detail and focused a lot on building customer relationships, ensuring quality of clothes sewn exceeded expectations, always improving her designs through taking up challenging tasks and keeping the price affordable for customers yet enough to make profits to sustain the family.

She was, however, never enterprising enough for the bigger business because she is risk-adverse. 

Through my mom, I picked up everything I observed she did and applied it to myself and to my business, in how I decide to deal with people. An inspiration for me as well.

Two very different individuals, providing me with different sources of learning and inspiration.

Today, they live comfortably in the 7ha piece of land that my dad bought in his hometown where he grew up and he’s still working hard, for himself at least and now, I’m making him do a bit of work for me since he’s got so much free time on his hands. And my mom, she’s still taking in orders to sew and word of mouth just keeps getting better even at this age for her. 

I’m not sure if I could ever learn her nifty sewing skills but perhaps I should and put that into good use for my business as well since I’m doing handicraft work as well. 

Regardless, one thing remains.

What’s the story of your family?

Perhaps, if you dig deep enough and spend enough time talking to your parents, you might just discover some interesting things about your family’s history and have a better appreciation for your parents journey in life.

One thing I hope for now, is to be able to spend Hari Raya as a family again. We haven’t been able to do that for the past 4 years, ever since they moved overseas.

SRSLY?! – A Self Reflection Method

Have you ever found yourself in situations whereby people began to drift away from you?

I know I have when I was much younger and had a fiery tongue.

With a bit more maturity in age and experience, I have come to realize that such situations doesn’t only happen to individuals who have a fiery tongue. It also happens, and more so, to people who are so negative about themselves.

Individuals who have such a negative outlook of the world that they see nothing good or is barely motivated by anything or anyone that tries to do good or inject positive vibes in them. Counselling wouldn’t and couldn’t help either because they individuals will only think that counsellors are trying to psycho them, rather than understand and help them.

Even in self-help books and articles that you read or even wise age old advice, we always hear somethings being repeated all the time:

- If you want to be a good person, hang around good people.

- If you want to be happy, be around happy people

- Stay away from people who are negative, they won’t help you in your cause and many more.

There are just way too many things available out there which goes along the same lines of ‘If you want to be successful, you’ve got to think like it and you’ve got to find people who can help you be successful’.

So, under the context of trying to help people who find themselves in situations where people drift away from them, I discovered that a common word we all love to use when such things happen is we go, “SERIOUSLY?!”

And since in this new age world of technology and abbreviations, it has since been cut to “SRSLY?!” when people send text messages.

So, here’s the ‘SRSLY?!’ method for those who find themselves in such situations:

- REFLECT ON YOUR PAST ACTIONS (Have you done/ said some/ too many negative stuff)

It’s a really quick and simple method to apply to ourselves.

So, anytime we feel that someone is drifting away from us and we go SRSLY?!  

We can use this method to immediately go into a reflective state and assess and decide our next course of action. Don’t wait for the other to move because we need to be responsible for our own actions. At the very minimum, we need to have taken that step forward towards closing the bridge than to further widen it.

The Lady At My Door

I thought I could sleep, I really thought I could but I’m reminded of what happened earlier this afternoon.

A lady in her mid 30′s had come knocking on the door. I thought it was the lady who usually delivers the mail but when I looked through the peephole, I saw a lady with a young child in tow, holding on to a stack of papers.

The lady, looked stress and desperate. Her body was fidgeting, as if scared, her eyes, they had the look of desperation and in dire need and when she began to speak, it was the voice of anxiety, desperation and lost.

She asked that I listen to her case first before I decided on my course of action.

She began to share her story, offering me letter after letter and her NRIC and parents home address to verify the legitimacy of her story – a life of poverty.

She was living in a rental flat, her husband was recently hired for work and they haven’t had any money to pay the utilities for the past 6 months or more, and had resorted to ‘stealing’ utilities for 6 months before they were caught by the authorities who now demanded they make payment.

Financial assistance from the relevant departments were taking too long and they were running out of time and options. Member of Parliament Zainal Sapari had given her $100 to help her tide through, an amount barely enough to cover the amount for her utilities.

With two kids, one in kindergarten and another attending a primary school I had taught for two years, there was every chance that her child had been a student of mine. Needless to say, as she mentioned her child’s name, the many faces of the students I’ve met flashed through me.

I’ve seen many students. I’ve taught many students. I’ve heard some of their stories and I’ve seen how they live through their stories in school but I also know one thing for sure, every child that I’ve taught deserves the opportunity to an education.

Denying this lady what I had in my wallet, could mean that my ex-student could end up staying home, dropping out of school eventually. A case which I do not wish to see end up as just another number.

Preventing students from dropping out of school was the reason why I had began volunteering in the first place as a Mentor to ‘at-risk’ youths, one which lasted a good 7 years. Denying this lady my assistance, was going against my values, values that I had been taught by my parents, religion and teachers who have taught me.

Whilst my contribution wouldn’t be able to create any significant impact on the amount she had to pay, she had lesser homes to knock on the doors to beg for assistance. She could spend a little bit more time at home with her children, to help them, to protect them from the world that she braved to ensure water and electricity could still run in their home tonight, for her children to study.

Having had a bit more time to think through, I’ve decided that should I have the opportunity to bump into her again, I will offer her some of the programmes that my company runs for her kids and her family at no cost, I am also considering engaging her in part-time work for her to assist me to help provide her with a form of sustenance.

It’s not much but I really hope it might be able to help her.

If you are reading this, please pray that I will meet her again.
Pray that her suffering will be lifted.
Pray that her kids will never have to go through what she is going through.
Pray that she and many others like her, will have their burden lifted.

’3 Factors To Living’ Not Tired Lives

Two nights ago, I completed my first milestone in 2014. I completed a course in Social Media Journalism. Not that I’m a journalist, but I blog about social issues like many others and I use social media and so I decided to sign up for the course and completed it.

But this post is not about the course that I sat for, this post is about sharing with you some of the very interesting things that many of my peers and family members have said to me, “Don’t you ever get tired?” or “Aren’t you tired?”.

When I was much younger, I remember I could play soccer for hours with my friends, to stop only because my mom had called out for me to come home for lunch or to shower because the sun was setting, otherwise, I would be playing soccer from 1000hrs – 1800hrs. 6 hours of soccer a day, almost everyday of the week, surely I’d be bound to get tired.

NO, I wasn’t.

When I grew a little bit older, in Secondary School, I was involved in several activities; Athletics and NCC Air officially for school as well as Soccer for weekend activities with schoolmates. I’d be out of my house by 0630hrs every morning and be back home by about 1900hrs, on some special occassions, probably be home by about 2200hrs. This was a schedule I lived with 6 days a week for about 4 years and I never got tired, and I never repeated or failed my examinations, maintained my grades and graduated with pretty good grades to enrol myself in business school.

When I began to grew a goatee in Polytechnic, I continued with my active lifestyle; Theater, Drama, Malay Language Society, Club Soccer, Rugby and Part-time work. On weekdays, I’d be out of the house by about 0700hrs and be back home by about 2300hrs, on weekends I’d be out by about 0630hrs and home probably 0200hrs, depending on what kind of working shift I wanted and got, as well as what kind of activities I had. This was the schedule I lived with for 3 years.

Never got tired, never repeated any examinations and graduated. Of course, results weren’t sterling since I really wasn’t aiming for grades.

Today, as I hit 30 years old by the end of the year, I still don’t feel tired and I still feel like as if I am 18 years old (minus the speed of my running and game stamina). Living an active lifestyle has definitely been something I enjoy but still, the question remains.

I put it down to 3 Factors To Living:

    If you don’t enjoy what you do, you can’t sustain what you do.

    At Sequoia National Park

    At Sequoia National Park

    I keep a schedule of what I have to do daily and keep up with my 5 Steps To Get Things Done and Feeling Great! Of course, this was inspired and encouraged by my parents when I was younger. My mom would often say, “Finish your homework first before you play, the faster you finish, the more time you’ll have to play”.That was all the motivation I needed, so I grew to became task oriented – focused on the task so I can reap my enjoyment.

    Where there’s a time to play, there’s also a time to learn and rest.

    Schedule it all in!

    Many times in the various relationships that I’ve been involved in, I’ve been told that when I’m physically with my partner, they feel loved but when I’m not with them, they feel distant.That’s simply because I’m the kind of person who lives in the moment, being exactly where I need to be at that moment. I immerse myself in the atmosphere wherever I go and prefer not to allow myself to be distracted.

    Basically, giving the best out of myself in order to get the best out of others – giving my heart and soul to the moment.

    Sunset at Santa Monica Pier

    Sunset at Santa Monica Pier

So, with these 3 FACTORS TO LIVING, how could I ever feel tired?

You ought to try it to!

Sincerely Yours,

The Edupreneur

5 Steps To Get Things Done & Feeling Great

We all have our own unique ways of trying to get the best out of what we do, some of us do it better than others, some of us just never seem to be able to do it at all but there are always times when we’ve managed to get it done.

So, here are some simple ways on trying to be great at what you do and feeling great about it, day in, day out. Not to mention, having more time for yourself and your loved ones to do other things!

  1. List of Things To Do
    Having this list, helps you prepare yourself in more ways that one. You prep yourself up mentally which is the most important thing and then you physically prep yourself up as well at the same time.I have found this to be extremely useful and I use it a lot, especially when I have too many thoughts in my head. I pen it all down and get right down to business once I’ve straightened things out.
  2. Prioritizing Things To Do First
    Having the list is great but without prioritizing which should get done first, you’d end up never finishing your tasks.The urgent items may not be the first items that you want to get done first because it may be the items that will take the longest time. You really need to have a good feel of the time required for each task to be completed.Personally, I like to mix it up both because as a task oriented person, I don’t like to move until I get things done and this includes meals and toilet breaks. So, I’ll plan for some quick tasks between the long ones.
  3. Finding Your Point of Focus
    There’s really no point of having the first two things done if you never get into focus. Shutting yourself off from the distractions will help and ensuring that you are just comfortable enough to do work is just as important. Too comfortable and you’d be too relaxed and you don’t get any work done.Here’s what I like to do when I’m at home, I sit under the fan, close the door to my room, keep my mobile phone away from me or I’ll just ignore calls/msgs from it and I’ll just ensure it’s just me and my work, nothing else. No music, no tv, although at times I do tune in when I need to get momentum going. (Only news channels because they are serious and I feel the seriousness)
  4. Celebrate With Each Task Completed
    I celebrate small successes. I really do. When I complete a task, I reward myself with a drink or a chocolate or a toilet break or I just take a short break to stretch – nothing more than 5 minutes or I will lose focus and interest.At times, I might do a victory dance or give words of encouragement to myself.YES, I talk to myself. Self-psychosis helps me a lot. Some people think it’s dumb. I think they never heard of the phrase, “What you believe you can conceive, you can achieve”.
  5. Share Your Achievements
    You’ll realize that when you start to do this, whatever work you were working on seems to be achievable and when you do manage to complete it, don’t forget to share your achievements with others!You share because sharing is caring. You share because you are proud of what you have achieved and could possibly inspire others to do the same.But most importantly, you share because when you start sharing and people believe and start looking up to you, there’s a standard that you have set on yourself and a standard that others have on you. This standard will ensure that you will keep up with this discipline each and every single time, every single day!

    By sharing, you place your reputation on the line and when people have high hopes on you, you wouldn’t want to disappoint them would you?

By sharing this to you, it is a commitment on myself to continuously keep up with this discipline that I have set for myself since I was young. I was taught to have this discipline from my parents and now, I’m sharing it with you.

So, if you believe this has been helpful for you, share it with others as well because YOU CAN DO IT!

Learning from NUS Prof’s Comments

“Your own words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams you want to realize. Your words are the greatest power you have. The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience.”  ~ Sonia Croquette

In the past week, Singapore has seen itself divided by a FB posting from an NUS Professor, Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied, of which his FB postings had ran afoul of the LGBTQ community because of some words that were considered ‘hate speech’.

For those of you who have watched the speech on ‘Exercising Importance of Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding (for work & personal)’, some key points which were highlighted, are reflective of the situation that the Prof and others before him who have been made famous through the internet, have found themselves in.

While the two examples shared in the speech were regarding the cultural relationship between Foreigners and Singaporeans, it also mentioned Singaporeans albeit a lesser emphasis on it and the other social issues grappling Singaporeans as much as the rest of the world.

But one thing for sure, the takeaway from this case, is as mentioned in the speech,

(With regards to the use of the internet) “When used incorrectly and negatively, we stir misunderstandings, misconceptions and an inevitable feeling of resentment and hate, which spreads faster than anything good. Rarely do we see good and positive things go viral. Most things that spread like wildfire are stories of negativity, hate and resentment.”

“Living in a small country like Singapore, we need to be extra conscious of our actions all the time. The words we speak, the photos and captions we choose to upload online will affect the country.”

Moving forward, I hope we can see a more compassionate community, regardless of who that person is.

Sharing with you a bit of what I learnt from Restorative Justice during my fellowship at University of California, Irvine, we need to separate the sin from the sinner because while the sin is bad, the person is good.

It was simply a case of the good person who committed a sin (and this is for you to decide on who the person is and what the sin is).