Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Author

I was born in Malacca on 15 October 1958, the third of seven siblings. I was brought up by my paternal grandmother in our heritage home in Banda Hilir, Malacca till age 5. I attended three primary schools, first Sultanah Asma Primary School in Alor Star (Std 1-3), second Tanjung Aru Primary School in Jesselton, Sabah (Std 3-5) and third Zainab Primary School in Telipot, Kota Bharu, Kelantan (Std 5-6). I attended three secondary schools, first Zainab Secondary School in Telipot (Form 1), second Malacca Girls' High School (Form 2 & 3) and third Tunku Kurshiah College, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan (Form 4 & 5). I went to California at age 17. My academic qualifications are BA Microbiology with Distinction (1980) and BA in Chemical Sciences (1980), MSc Biochemistry (1982) and PhD (Medical Physiology)(1990). 

At my first university, California State University, Chico campus (CSUC), I created two personal records. In 1976, I was the youngest ever to have broken the American Chemical Society (ACS) record for scoring the highest marks in an ACS US-nationwide Chemistry entrance exam. The following year, in 1977 (in my second year), I was offered my first job (as Math tutor) by the Mathematics Dept. Job offers in Mathematics never stopped coming. I was also offered to attend Rochester University at the advice of my Chemistry professor.

At my first graduate institution, the University of California, Riverside campus (UCR), I was invited to join the Physics Dept, Standford University at Palo Alto. 1n 1981-2 when I was 22-3, I wrote my first Chemistry textbook when studying for my Graduate Exam in Biochemistry (unpublished & handwritten in pencil). I invented my first prototype DNA/RNA vertical electrophoresis unit in 1981-2 (still have it) whilst in California, before Biotechnology came to Malaysia. I was advised to remain in the US and become a US citizen.

At my second graduate institution, the University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Crawley, Perth campus, I made one personal record. In 1989, I submitted the best PhD thesis in Physiology/Medicine. That PhD thesis became a resource book for further biotechnology research for many other Australian researchers.

Back on home ground, I introduced computerisation for clinical laboratories in November 1990. Today, almost all clinical labs in Malaysia are adequately computerised. I have yet to address the issue of a nationwide ICT network for health, medicine and teaching. I had given a keynote address on Biotechnology and Bioinformatics which moved research in that direction. I have worked in many research disciplines and in administration. I am now in ICT, especially in e-learning and I am involved with applications for off-shore medical programs. I do database design (functional requirement document, FRD) for free consultancy. 

In my spare time, I usually cook, read and listen to the news. I'm married and have six grown-up children, two sons and four daughters. My eldest daughter is married (she's in Aeronautical Engineering at UPM). My elder son is an accountant in Cheras. The rest are still studying - second daughter is studying Medicine in Bangalore, younger son is studying Multimedia at KUIS, a daughter in Form 5 and the youngest daughter is in Standard 6.

Historically and socially, I am a Jawi Peranakan. I am descended from the Hadrami Arabs of Malacca who married to the Chinese Muslims at the time of Princess Hang Li Po. I am also descended from the Sindhi male lineage from my Penang grandfather who married my Ceylonese Burgher grandmother who came to Malaya from Ceylon. I am therefore a heavy mix of the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, the Orient and with traces of Caucasian. I am grouped as a Malay in Malaysia but mistaken as a Chicano and grouped as a Hispanic in California! I am Filipino to the Filipinos (Mahal kita!), Indian to the Australians (G'day mate!) but 'orang luar' to the Kelantanese Malay. This is my wonderful background and I am thankful for what I am.