Johor Jaya Toastmasters Club
International Speech Contest 2016/2017
22 February 2017

“She covers her whole body; she must be oppressed by her husband.”

“She wears all black; she must be a religious bigot.”

“She covers her head; she must be close-minded.”

Contestmaster and my fellow Toastmasters,

I can understand that you are amused that I just changed in front of you. And you feel that the extreme examples I just gave are funny. But let’s acknowledge one important thing right here – judgment exists. Despite the fact that the world has become borderless and internet is a global phenomenon, judgment persists. In fact, it has evolved into different kinds – internet bullying, visual manipulation and propaganda.

My mother taught me that “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” Once, many years ago, I received a feedback from a Toastmaster. She said, “Afzan, you should stop wearing baju kurung. You look outdated and closed-minded. You should flaunt your figures and baju kurung does little help with that. Even the name means locked cloth.” The first thing that came to my mind was, “Hold up right there, lady! I didn’t ask for your opinion. And why are you judging my character based on what I wear?” But I remembered my mother saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” But this lady persisted with her advice until one day when I found the right moment and words to say it, thanks to the evaluation skills I learned from Toastmasters. I simply said, “I feel beautiful in my hand-tailored baju kurung” and walked away. I would tell her why I like baju kurung so much, had she just asked.

My mother is the wisest person I had known for my whole life, until I know Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi. This sufi who is wiser than my mother once said, “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” Instead of just being nice and keep quiet, Rumi taught me that if it is true, necessary and kind, say it. I have a wise friend named Didi. Even though she is not wiser than Rumi and my mother, she once taught me something through a Facebook post. She put a quote as advice regarding teamwork. That time, we were together in a team for an event. I was taken aback and angry. So I just left Facebook. But later that same day, another teammate named Diana came into the picture. She commented on the post, “You should tell this to us face to face. You should be frank. You do this like a passive aggressor.” I was guilty of enjoying those for a little bit until I read Didi’s comment at the bottom. She wrote, “I am involved in a few organizations. I met hundreds of people every week. I am shocked that you have made this status about you and I, when in fact you could have just ask me directly.” That bullet went straight through my heart – wham! She was being true. She said what was necessary. She said it kindly – you could have just asked.

Asking is hard, because we have to step aside from our ego. A friend uploaded a sad status on Facebook, instead of thinking she is trying to get attention, we can ask, “Hey, Jenn. Are you okay? Do you need to talk?” Somebody told you that someone has been saying bad things about you, instead of trashing him back, we can ask, “Hey, QJ. Are you angry at me? I can’t help but feel like you do.” A teammate keeping a distance from the club, instead of judging her for lack of commitment, we can ask, “Hey, Diana. I noticed you have been missing from the club lately. How have you been?” And we will be surprised how much we can learn. A person who is so cheerful has a six-digit debt on her shoulder. An enemy who hates you has the feedback that you need to improve yourself. The missing teammate might teach you a real life lesson on how to juggle between jobs, family and a sick parent. But you must first, ask.

We can never put our feet in somebody else’s shoes. I was born Malay, I can never change to Chinese. I can never trade the 30 years of life I experienced with Ayen’s. A man can never know how hurtful giving birth feels like. Putting your feet into others’ shoes is rhetorical. The only real way out is to ask. And then listen.

My fellow Toastmasters,

The world will be a much better place if we talk to each other more than we talk about each other. Ask more. Ask now. Just ask.


Toastmaster of The Year Award

This speech will be delivered at Triple-Joint Christmas-Themed Meeting of MIM Toastmasters Club of Johor Bahru. Johor Jaya Toastmasters Club and Sacred Heart Toastmasters Club at 8 Days Boutique Hotel, Permas Jaya, Johor, tonight.

Advanced Manual: Special Occasion Speeches
Project 4: Presenting An Award

1. Present an award with dignity and grace.
2. Acknowledge the contributions of the recipient.

Time: 3 -4 minutes


Good evening, my fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen.

Every year, Johor Premier Toastmasters Club recognizes the one member whose work, dedication and enthusiasm has shined other members in the club and helped move our club forward. The selection process was not easy. With almost 30 dedicated and enthusiastic members in the club, identifying the one Toastmaster who is most deserving is difficult.

The selection process happened in the final club officers meeting last term. We listed members who have contributed to the club in many ways, achieved educational goals and inspired many club members to follow suit. The list includes contests winners, Distinguished Club point contributors, club officers and members who played roles in Toastmasters events beyond club level.

This Toastmasters was chosen because of several reasons. He was the Champion for the club International Speech Contest, Evaluation Contest and Table Topics Contest and the 1st Runner-Up for Humorous Speech Contest in term 2014/2015. He proceeded to represent the club to area level for the respective contests. He continued to bring up the club’s name to District level when he represented the Division in Table Topics Contest in the same term.

At the same time, he also worked enthusiastically and passionately for his speech projects and had contributed to the club’s Distinguished Club point when he achieved Competent Communicator status.

He had served the club as club officers for several term. His roles include Sergeant-At-Arms, Secretary and, in last term, Vice President of Membership. When he was the Vice President of Membership, he worked hard to ensure that the club submits the dues on time. He is also famous for making personal calls to members to listen to their needs and concerns as Toastmasters.

Other than that, he was the Organizing Chair for Area A4 Joint Installation Dinner and Johor Premier Toastmaster Club Guests Night. Both events were a success under his leadership.

I believe with his calm, charming and caring demeanor, he has shined inspirations to members of the club.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in honoring Johor Premier Toastmasters Club Toastmaster of The Year Award recipient for term 2014/2015, Vice President of Education, CC QJ Tan.

The Future of A Toastmasters Club

Advanced Project 5 from Speeches by Management manual
21 January 2014
Delivered at UTM Toastmasters Club meeting venue – C17, UTM JB


When this speech was delivered, only three people among the audience knew that it was not true – the Toastmaster of The Meeting (host), the President and the Area Governor.

For the record, there is no such rule as shutting down or merging clubs in Toastmasters. In fact, weak clubs are helped by coaches and district officers in many ways.

In short, the whole speech is a fib EXCEPT the first paragraph where I described how I feel about members of the club.

Fellow friends of UTM Toastmasters Club and visiting Toastmasters,

The members of this club are some of the amazing Toastmasters I’ve met in my three years as a member. You work hard. You’re so eager to learn. You’re inspiring me with your persistence. I’m so glad that I’ve become a part of you all these while even only as a regular visiting Toastmaster. Thus, to explain what I’m going to explain is a hard thing to do for me.

Do you know that there is a rule in Toastmasters International that states any club that has less than 10 members for three consecutive dues renewal terms will have to be merged with other Toastmasters club or shut down? That means if a club renews with less than 10 members every March for three years in a row, the club will have to find another club to be merged with or shut down. In your case, in March 2011, you renewed with 8 members, in March 2012, you renewed with 8 members, and in March 2013, you renewed with 9 members. Thus, TI will send the warning letter and they’ll probably shut the club down at the beginning of next term in July.

I see that there are three ways to overcome this situation. They do not totally solve the problem but they are better alternatives to the problem.

  1. You work very hard to achieve at least 1 more member by the end of March and send an appeal letter to Toastmasters International with a supporting letter by your Area Governor.
  2. Another way is to merge your club with UTM Aces Toastmasters Club or any other club. But I’d suggest UTM Aces since it is the closest to you. You’ll have to decide which club’s name remains and whether it’ll still be an in-house club or not.
  3. Or, the final alternative is to shut down the club, but before that transfer your members to other clubs nearby.

I believe you can understand now how crucial the next two months will be because you have to make this decision by the end of March. Why March? Because that’s the membership renewal deadline is 1st April. You have to find new members and send the appeal before the end of March or transfer your members to other club by then. If you don’t transfer your members, they will have to pay extra fee for reinstatement if they join other clubs after March.

Fellow friends of UTM Toastmasters Club,

Rejoice the fact that you had achieved so much all these years. In fact, you had done at least four things to contribute to your club’s Distinguished Club Goals: Dr. Zaleha achieved Competent Communicator, COT1, you submitted September dues on time and COT2. Celebrate these achievements despite this reality that affects your club’s future. I bid you all good luck in your Toastmasters journey in the future.

I received various feedback from the audience but one attracted my attention the most which said, “I foresee a great politician. Awesome. Good job.” I’m sure it was meant as compliment. But another way to look at it is it tells me that I’m a good liar. I feel a little bad.

I Love Johor Jaya Toastmasters Club

Project 4: Persuade to Inspire
Manual: Speeches by Management
Evaluator: Tea Hui Shyan
310th Regular Meeting (first meeting of 2014)

Let me begin with a question. “How much do you love Johor Jaya Toastmasters Club?’

My fellow Toastmasters and friends,

My next question is, “What is your personal goal as Toastmasters for the year 2014?” You don’t have to answer this out loud. Instead, put your hands on your cheeks, close your eyes and answer quietly to yourself. Now, put your hand on your heart and say it out loud, “I can do it.” Turn to a friend next to you and say, “I can do it. You can do it.”

Do you realize that all of your Toastmasters personal goals accumulated are the club’s goals, which we know as Distinguished Club Program (DCP)? You do not have to go all the way to contribute to the club. Just work for your personal goal and you’re actually helping the club to achieve the DCP plan.

I was not confident that this speech would be inspiring to the club members at first. I was nervous I felt I didn’t prepare enough. But it turned out well in the end – I was happy Hui Shyan evaluated my speech very well as a first timer and some members said my speech made them want to continue their projects. Four members volunteered to speak in next club meeting.

Happy Festive and Happy New Year

President Opening Address
Joint Meeting with MIM Toastmasters Club of Johor Bahru and Sacred Heart Toastmasters Club
8 Days Hotel, Permas Jaya

Good evening.

Sergeant at Arms, Mr Area Governor, Madam Presidents of MIM Toastmasters Club and Sacred Heart Toastmasters Club, fellow Toastmasters and honored guests, I used to dream everything in my life. I dreamed my exam results and I got them. I dreamed of becoming a commander “Hormat kanan, hormat kanan, hormat” and I won the marching band competition. I dreamed of small small things in life and God fulfilled them. And I drew my dreams.

When I was in school, when the class gets too unbearably boring, I doodled. My dream car. My dream house. Pictures of random people that came to my imagination. When I was sixteen, I drew this from scratch. Pure imagination. And put it behind this textbook where it remains till now. The best part was when I was 19, one day, when I was walking towards UTM library, I met a guy who looked exactly like my imagination when I drew this. The resemblance was so uncanny that I turned back, walk faster than him, and pretended like I forgotten something and turn around again. I think I stared at him and I think he pretended not to notice. The reality took a few seconds more to sink in that I forgot to ask to take picture with him.

Few weeks ago, I was reminded of this when I found it among my books in my parents’ house. It suddenly dawned on me that I’ve forgotten how to dream. My imagination was not as vivid as it used to be. I cannot draw as good as this anymore. Somehow, along the years, I’ve unconsciously unlearned my dreaming skills. So now, I’m taking up drawing once again to polish up my rusty hands.

Speaking of dreams, I’m reminded of new year resolutions. Christmas, a special time for our Christians friends have something in common with all other festivals in Malaysia, which is holiday. Christmas holiday is the best time to refresh our mind and body before kick-starting the new year with new resolutions because it falls at year end. The best time to do self-evaluation, celebrate our achievements and set up new goals for the coming year. Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen, no matter how old you are, how much you’ve grown up, never forget the dreamer child in you and fill your life with beautiful dreams and colorful wishes. I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, a refreshing holiday, an exciting new year and an enjoyable meeting tonight.

With that note, I would like to invite our meeting host tonight, the Charter President of MIM Toastmasters Club of JB. Please help me to welcome the Toastmaster of the evening ———-.

In Facing Adversities

President Opening Speech
308th Regular Meeting

11.12.13 How special this date is to you? To me, This date is more than special because 57 years ago, on this date, the number one person on my list was born. She is my mother.

Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,

That reminds me of the two mothers I met last weekend. I was in Kuantan, participating in an infamous flood relief team. As we were arranging pampers, cloths, blankets and some other things to be distributed to the flood victims, a young mother approached me. She asked for pampers of size M and S and some blankets. The thing was we didn’t distribute the goods randomly. We make sure the small amounts of blankets only goes to babies and kids. This mother was almost begging us for three blankets when we wanted to give only one. She said, “Please. I have five children. All kids.”

The other mother, I met her when we went from room to room to distribute donated goods. One of her kids was wearing only long pants. She told us they only have one pair of clothes for him and she just washed the shirt, so her child wolud have to sleep shirtless that night. What I mean to say is it is so amazing what parents can do for their children and how they put their children’s needs before themselves.

On the other hand, I also got to meet people with big hearts and strong will. One of my friends there took some orphans into her house when the orphanage was swept by the flood. Later when her house was also flooded, she took them together to the shelter centre. She also helped us in distributing the donated items from centre to centre. Another flood victim I got to speak to volunteered to cook for the officers and volunteers on duty. To me, it was irony that the person we’re helping was helping us too.

Fellow Toastmasters and friends,

In the face of adversities, we can be among two groups of people: The group of people who break down and weep, or the group of people who are larger than their problems and inspire people around them. The choice is ours.

With that note, I’d like to invite our Toastmaster of the Evening, a sweet, charming, gentle and the most important of all her characteristics, dedicated, lady. Let’s help me welcome her to take control of the meeting, TM Mazlah Awang.


President Opening Speech
306th Regular Meeting

When my sister and I went to beaches, we usually went strolling very early in the morning to watch sunrise. Then, we would sit on the rock by the beach, heads on our knees, humming to the sound of the waves. What do you think we talk about between the two of us? Most of the time, it was nothing. Because that’s our idea of doing something together – enjoying each other’s company in silence.

I used to feel guilty about not being able to start conversation with strangers, or making the conversation longer. Some people join sales and marketing because they like talking or the prospects of unlimited income. But in my case, it is simply to force myself into being comfortable about talking to strangers.

A few months ago, I chanced upon a book with the title Quiet, written by Susan Cain. Susan Cain writes about introverts. She said that it is ok to be quiet. It is ok to be absorbed in a book. It is ok to not like participating in group discussion. That doesn’t mean one hates human company. One might prefer to listen than talk. And some people proved to be more creative and powerful when left alone.

When I first join Toastmasters, I thought communication is majorly about speaking, talking and commenting. I mean, I know that 60% of our communication happens non-verbally. But I’ve never really imagined it Toastmasters way. How can one be so confident when giving feedback, speaking before an audience, and voicing opinion, yet the same person is so humble when listening to junior Toastmasters, accepting feedback and casual conversation? Then, I made the decision that that is the kind of person I want to be. So I stayed in Toastmasters and had surprised myself so many times during the last few years.

My fellow friends,

Plot your own journey in Toastmasters. As you continue walking, or running, or maybe climbing, you might surprised yourself too of how much you can achieve and break your own mental barriers.

Goals, Reminders and Evaluation

Goals, reminders and evaluation.

Area Governor, CC Avtar Singh, fellow Toastmasters and guests. Good evening.

What do goal, reminder and evaluation have in common? They are tools for success. They are tools to make daily lives meaningful. They are tools for a team like us to succeed.

As a Muslim, I’m grateful that at least five times a day, I’m programmed to do all these three. In the morning prayer, I reset goals for the day. In the three consecutive prayers, I remind myself, ‘Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this?’ And in the night prayer, I contemplate the course of my day, “Was it meaningful? In what way can I improve?’

I believe, regardless of your religion, you have ways to keep yourself on track in moving towards your goals. Meditation, prayers, writing them down and so on.

As a Toastmasters club, we have Club Success Plan, Distinguished Club Programme and awards that help us in constructing our goals. We have club officers and district officers who give reminders from time to time to make sure we are on track. We also give and receive feedback to evaluate performance and improve. In fact, the presence of Area Governor today with us also helps us in staying on track towards our goals.

As a President, I’ve set that one of my goal is to align the club goals to members’ needs. One way of doing it is by constantly communicating with members to speak about your personal goals. Thus, fellow Toastmasters, help me by providing feedback and letting me understand your goals. Your success is the club’s success.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our Area Governor for his official visit to our club today. And let us all except Siew Peng stand up and applaud Siew Peng for winning the first runner up in Area A4 Humorous Speech Contest. I believe Siew Peng has benefit a lot from that experience.

I will now hand the control of the lectern to our star of the evening.

Join me to welcome TM Shirley Kang.

Call Me A Rider 2

Area A4 District 51 Toastmasters

Humorous Speech Contest 2013/2014

“I modified my club level contest speech by incorporating some parts of my Advanced Project speech where I tested which parts audience laughed the most.”

I have a secret. Many people thought I wear high heels because I feel elegant or they elevate my self confidence. But actually, I started wearing high heels because when I have to stop at traffic lights on my motorbike, only with high heels on, both my feet can properly touch the ground.

Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen.

How do we motorists answer calls on motorbike? Telilin telilin! Telilin telilin! With right hand still on the handle, this is what we do. It is almost like using a headset, just slightly bigger. This is what usually happens when friends call. “Ah hello hello! Can speak now.” “Ajan, why is it so noisy?” my friend asks. “Oh, I’m on motorbike.” “On bike? Can speak now?” “1. You’re already speaking to me. 2. Don’t yell! I can hear you fine.”

I’ve been asked some funny questions when people know a girl like me ride motorbike. My personal favorite is “Are you not afraid?” Asking a rider whether he/she is afraid of riding is like asking a fireman whether he is afraid of fire, or asking a skydiver whether he is afraid of height, or asking a Toastmasters club president whether she’s afraid of speaking in front. Of course I am afraid. I just found some ways to make it manageable and maintain my level of confidence.

There is a flyover at Danga Bay, near Dataran Bandaraya that I like. Fact #1: The flyover goes high up facing Singapore with sharp corner to the right before it goes down. Fact #2: Motorcycle seat is higher than car seats. With the strong gushing wind, those settings are perfect to make you feel like flying. Every time I take that flyover, this is what I do, “Superman! Wuhuu…!” Sometimes I purposely choose that road to do that.

One of the things that I like to do on bike is singing. My karaoke talent comes from hours of practicing while riding. I can’t help it. When you wear helmet with full visor like this, it gives the stereo effect. It’s a strong temptation.

The genre of the songs I sing usually depends on the traffic or weather. When it rains, it gives the mood of Hindustan video clips and I start singing Hindustan song. “Ladkhi badhi anjanihe.” When I’m doing 120kmph, fast beat and high notes songs usually comes to mind, like “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” When the weather is hot, I sing rock song “I wanna heal, I wanna feel, what I thought was never real.” Ok, that doesn’t sound like a rock song.

One fine day, the weather was clear, I was in a good mood and I was happily singing while riding. I saw a massive traffic jam about half kilometer ahead of me. But I’m still happy because I can weave in and out of traffic. My good day was spoiled when, suddenly, a car came from behind me, went past just slightly next to me with high speed, nearly knocking me over, only to get in line and join the other cars in the traffic. I didn’t understand what happened. I mean, what’s the point of going so fast when you already see a traffic jam ahead? But I suspect he wanted to show off his turbo engine. I was so mad I feel like stopping next to the driver’s seat, make him roll down the window and sing Shania Twain’s song, “That don’t impress me much. Ah! Ah ah ah!” But of course I don’t have the courage to do that! What did I do in reality? I purposely changed lane to be next to his car and do this. ‘Huh! I’m going to reach my destination faster than you. Bye.’

I feel weird when people tell me that they are afraid of riding. I feel more weird when they proceeded telling me about their trauma because they had once seen blood and pieces of human body in a road accident. Doing that is like telling people about your diarrhea specifically, when the other people are about to eat something on a dining table. Or like telling me “Afzan, I foresee that you’ll be involved in a road accident. There are blood everywhere. Pieces of human body. Head rolling on the ground. Believe me.”

Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,

I don’t have a car yet. I’m in the lowest income segment among Malaysians. And sometimes, I worry about getting wet in the rain. But life is about being grateful of what we have and enjoying the moment to the fullest. Why worry about rain when you can fly like a Superman? “Superman! Wuhuu!”

I Am A Rider

Advanced Project 4

Humorously Speaking Manual

25th September 2013

“5 more projects to Advance Communicator Bronze! Keep going!”

I have a secret. Many people thought I wear high heels because I feel elegant or they elevate my self confidence. But actually, I started wearing high heels because when I have to stop at traffic lights on my motorbike, only with high heels on, both my feet can properly touch the ground.

Good evening, fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen.

Most of the time when people call me while I’m riding, I don’t answer them. But sometimes, when I expect important calls, I do answer. But there are times when these calls that I answered turned out to be not-so-important calls. Usually, after stopping at roadside and realizing it’s a regular call from friend, this is what I do. It is almost like using a headset, just slightly bigger. “Ah hello hello! Can speak now.” “Ajan, why is it noisy?” “Oh, I’m on motorbike.” “On bike? Can speak now?” “1. You’re already speaking to me. 2. Don’t yell! I can hear you clearly.”

Imagine this scenario. I was happily singing while riding my bike one fine day. There’s a massive traffic jam about half kilometre ahead of me. Suddenly, a car came from behind me, went past just slightly next to me with high speed, nearly knocking me over, only to get in line and join the other cars in the traffic. I didn’t understand what happened. But I suspect he wanted to show off his turbo engine. I feel like stopping next to the driver’s seat, make him roll down the window and sing, “That don’t impress me much. Ah! Ah ah ah!” What did I do? I purposely changed lane to be next to his car and wave like a Miss World. Watch me go ahead of you, calmly, happily.

One of the things that I like to do on bike is singing. My karaoke talent comes from hours of practicing on motorbike. I can’t help it. When you wear helmet with full visor like this, it gives the stereo effect, like head phones. It’s a strong temptation. One day, I ride with my sister behind me. We stopped at a crossroad. I was happily singing until my sister slapped my back. “Aww! What?!” “Stop singing! That brother across the crossroad is staring at you.” The genre of the songs I sing usually depends on the traffic or weather. When it rains, it gives the mood of Hindustan video clips and I start singing Hindustan song. “Humko humise churalo.” When I’m doing 120kmph, fast beat and high notes songs usually comes to mind, like “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” or rock song “I wanna heal, I wanna feel, what I thought was never real.”

Other than singing, believe it or not, most of my blog entries are written when I’m on the road. There is something about driving or riding that calms my nerves. And thus, helps with my flow of thoughts. Sometimes, when I’m desperate for ideas, I’d drive one or two rounds around the neighborhood to clear my mind. The problem comes when I started to focus on the flow of thoughts. There are many times when my mind was overflowed by ideas – Toastmasters, blog ideas, speech, a famous quote, something I forgot on my to-do list – and suddenly, I went pass the junction to my house. And the u-turn is about one kilometer ahead. By the way, that is 50 cent of petrol considering the petrol price hike last week.

One thing that I’d really like to do during rush hour is when I go pass the cars in between lanes, I feel like waving all of the drivers behind me like a Miss World. “Bye bye. Bye bye. I’ll go home first. See you at home.”

Do you know the fly over at Danga Bay which goes beyond the land above strait water? Every time I take that ramp, this is what I do, “Superman! Wuhuu…!” Sometimes I purposely choose that road to do that.

Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,

One day when I have a car, I won’t sell my motorbike. Too many good memories. For the time being, I’d just enjoy the moment with my boyfriend, JJN 2176. “Superman!”

Call Me A Rider

Johor Jaya Toastmasters Club

Humorous Speech Contest 2013/2014

2nd Place

When people loosely term all motorcyclists as mat rempit or minah rempit, I feel enrage.

My fellow Toastmasters,

Allow me to make it clear. Mat Rempit is the local term for illegal bike racers. They consist of probably 5% of the whole motorcyclists population in Malaysia. The rest, the 95% consist of those who either; 1. Those who have given up on Malaysia public transportation. 2. Those who are confident of their riding skills and want to save time on road in this congested city, or 3. Those who are in the lowest income segment among Malaysian population. I’m all three in the 95%. Never have I been or even interested in joining the 5% illegal racers. I’ve never even seen a live illegal racing in my whole life.

I’ve been asked some funny questions when people know a girl like me ride motorbike. “How many kmph do you usually push?” “What happen when it rains?” “Are you not afraid?” To the question “How many kmph do you usually push?”, I feel like answering “Mr, you question is invalid.” The second question, “What happen when it rains?” I feel like answering, ‘Madam, have you ever heard of an ancient human invention that is called rain coat?” The final question, “Are you not afraid?” Phewh!

Asking a rider whether he/she is afraid of riding is like asking a fireman whether he is afraid of fire, or asking a skydiver whether he is afraid of height, or asking a Toastmasters club president whether she’s afraid of speaking in front. Of course I am afraid. I just found some ways to make it manageable and maintain my level of confidence in riding. Just so you know, the number one death factor in Malaysia is heart attack and road accident does not reach even half percent of it.

Motorcycle logic and 4-tyre vehicle logic are different. Let me give you an example. When you drive on a sharp corner ramp, you push the brake pedal, right? We, riders, we don’t do that. We decrease the angle between our knee and the road surface in conjunction with the direction of the corner. We turn left like this. We turn right like this. It is very hard for me to explain this to drivers who don’t ride.

I was enraged when, once, there is this guy who shall not be named who proposed to the parliament to not allow motorcycles in major cities. When I saw this in newspaper, I told myself, “Calm down. Calm down. Aal iz well.” Hello, Mr. Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named! Some people take 9-year loan to buy the cheapest car in Malaysia. Public transportations are unreliable. The petrol price increased. And now, you’re suggesting this. I thank God they ignored that suggestion.

I feel weird when some people who just knew that I ride motorcycle start telling me why they are afraid of riding one. I feel annoyed when they proceeded telling me about their trauma because they had once seen blood, pieces of human body in a road accident. Doing that is like telling people about your diarrhea specifically, when the other people are about to eat something on a dining table. Or like telling me “Afzan, I foresee that you’ll be involved in a road accident. There are blood everywhere. Pieces of human body… and so on.” Stop doing that, human! You’re hurting my brain!

Fellow Toastmasters,

It is natural as human beings we are able to do what others don’t. And others are able to do some things that we are not. Motorcyclists are human being. Next time you want to argue about the danger, show me some concrete data. Or you’ll realize you are just being mathematically irrational. In my case, right now, transport is a need, but car is a convenience. To the ministers, I have three hopes – decrease car price, decrease petrol price, or at least, make public transportation efficient.

Devil’s Trill

This is my speech as Johor Jaya Toastmasters Club’s President in our recent Installation Night on August 24. It was a Joint Installation for three clubs including Sacred Heart Toastmasters Club and MIM Toastmasters Club of Johor Bahru.

Installation Night Montage

Area A4 Governor, CC Avtar Singh, Division A Governor, DTM Go Hwi Kueh, Immediate Past Division Governor, CC Ong Hong Siong, fellow club officers, ladies and gentleman. Good evening.

ACS Yvonne thanked her club members and friends in her speech just now. Whereas ACS Yasotha said she thinks that she isn’t up to the par but is grateful for the support from her club members. In my case, I don’t know any of that.

All I know is when I gave my first opening speech in the club meeting, I couldn’t help but noticed the unreservedly happy face of CC Terrence, our Immediate Past President, because his term was over. And I can’t wait to be as happy as he is.

<audience laughed>      <———-couldn’t help remembering this

But then, in the same opening speech, I introduced my fellow club officers and I realized that I am not alone in this. I have a great team by my side. I am more convinced that I have great people in my executive committee team when at the beginning of the term, CC Perkash and CC QJ laid out their personal plans for the term for their respective roles; CC Ain, my friend, agreed to become our Vice President of Public Relations even though she is also the President of UTM Toastmasters Club; and the first time club officers, Hui Shyan, Suraizah and Farhana are enthusiastic about learning their roles and confidently set out to complete the tasks assigned to them.

<initiated applause for my executive committee team>

Ladies and gentlemen,

Does anyone recognized the song or composition played in the montage background?

<nobody got the correct answer>

The composition is called Devil’s Trill. It was played by Vanessa Mae and composed by Giuseppe Tartini. It is considered as quite possibly the most difficult violinist solo ever composed in history.

As an analogy; if all us here were musicians and I was the violinist to play Devil’s Trill, I’d like to have the people I’d mentioned just now as my accompanying musicians.


With that, thank you for being with us tonight and I look forward for an amazing term with all of you. Back to the host, CC Hidayati.

Devil’s Trill by Vanessa Mae

Going Beyond Our Club

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The presentation Going Beyond Our Club is taken from Toastmasters International’s Successful Club Series. This presentation aims to educate Toastmasters of benefits in going beyond their clubs. To the speaker, it gives credit for achieving Advanced Leader Bronze as laid out in Toastmasters International Leadership Track.

This presentation was done on July 31st, 2013.


President’s opening speech on August 14th.

I am the first born in my family. My brother and I are three years apart. My sister and I are seven years apart. Yet, when we hang out, people always assume I am the youngest among three of us.

Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,

Today I’m going to share with you my opinions about bias perception, misconception and miscommunication.

Firstly, allow me to give you an example about perception bias. Apparently, changing a little bit of clothing articles will get people to have a certain perspective on what we are. This is what I usually wear when I’m going out for shopping alone. People will come to me and ask, “Adik, which year in university are you studying in?” A couple of years back, some even ask whether I’m still in high school. To me, this is practical. The jacket kept my headscarf safe from wind when I’m riding my motorbike and cinemas are usually over air-conditioned. The colors keep me in shadows and the attire looks cheap, thus make me less vulnerable to bad people. And because I look younger, I don’t feel guilty staring at the same bookshelf for two hours in MPH. And now, the transformation. Sling bag to hand bag. No jacket. Different head scarf style and colour. Flat shoes to heels. I washed this so don’t worry. Bigger brooch with blink-blink. And people starts calling me “Miss” How may I help you? You see, it is so easy to make people perceive you differently.

It is interesting to note that children are incapable of being bias in many areas, because they are pure and their knowledge about life is insufficient to make such mistake. For example, to many people, I’m in the lowest range of pay grade in the country because I ride motorcycle, but to my ten year old student, ‘Teacher, you ride motorbike coming here? Wow, you are incredibly super cool! Can I get a ride one round?”

Humans make hundreds of assumptions daily. Most of the assumptions might be made of wrong perceptions, leading to misconception. But being humans, interestingly, we are capable of making ourselves believe our assumptions are correct by repeating it to ourselves. And we tend to make assumptions based on things that stand out than things that are absent. I had these two friends in my first year. Let’s call them ‘he’ and ‘she’. He keeps telling us about how bad things are between him and his father. So, we assumed his relationship with his father is bad and it turned out correct. She never spoke about her father, so we assumed their relationship is okay. That’s what we’ve been assuming since we knew her that we believe it. Until one day, in a team building camp, we are required to tell others about our family and friends are allowed to ask any question. We were surprised, because she said, her parents are divorced for a long time and she’s been living with her mother ever since. To make matters worse, she cried right after telling that. We were so surprised that our assumption which has turned to belief is actually a misconception.

The trickiest part about a concept is to communicate it out of our mind. Or rather, the decisions whether we should keep it shut or tell it. This is the most crucial part of our communication or human interaction. For example, a man and a lady have been friends quite long. One day, this lady decided to tell her friend that she is falling for him by a letter. This man decided to keep quiet and act as if he didn’t receive the letter so they can remain friends. And they remain friends – happy ending. But take an instance, a husband and wife who disagree about something and they refuse to talk about it. They are mad at each other for longer they can remember. The kids got older and they can never understand what happened. It goes long back that they can’t even remember the actual cause. Wrong assumptions to wrong assumptions, miscommunication toward miscommunication, it became irreversible. Things might not be so, if long ago, one of them had cared to ask, “When I said this last time, I noticed your face changed. Did I say something you don’t like?” Or, the other party could have just say, “You know, that time when you said this and that, I felt sad. Please don’t say that again.”

Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,

Another thing that I learned from kids this Hari Raya is when you need to communicate something, say it clearly. “Assalamualaikum. Kami datang nak raya.” When you don’t have to say anything important, keep it. When my brother asked the kids jokingly, “Are you all here for money packets or food?”, they just smiled. They taught me that a smile means ‘I’m not telling anything to you but you are my friend.’



Johor Jaya Toastmasters Club President’s inaugural speech in the first meeting of term 2012/2013, the 300th meeting.

Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,

Today I’m grateful. I’m grateful because I’m surrounded by great people and friends. I’m grateful that you trusted me to become your President. I’m grateful that Terrence’s words had came true – I have a team of exco whom are beautiful or handsome, young and energetic.

There are great people, wise leaders and noble friends in my team of executive committees. There is no other way to feel about them but love. Today, I’m going to introduce them to all of you.

Our VPE is a guy who joined Toastmasters at the same time with me. Someone who never boasts about his good qualities, which you can only see when you are close enough to him. I’m happy that he started the term with the spirit and enthusiasm that I salute. He changed his day off to Wednesday and willing to take up this role even though he was just promoted at work, which means larger amounts of works and responsibilities. Let’s welcome, CC Perkash Loganathan.

The new VPM is a great speaker who had just received the CC award. His voice, which he is so proud of, reminds me of my late grandfather, strict yet assuring. He likes to describe himself as the opposite of what he truly is, for example, the villain, the Casanova and the narcissist. One way to prove it is by complementing him and doing that for a few minutes, his face will turn red. I mean, a Casanova can’t be that shy. Let’s welcome, CC QJ Tan.

Our VPPR is a dear friend of mine. I was her mentor. I am her mentor since she said, “You must be my mentor forever.” She told me a few times, “You’re the man. If you’re a guy, I am definitely marrying you.” That sounds pretty weird but that was meant to be adorable. I’m so proud of her because she’s taking the role even when she is also the President of UTM Toastmasters, to which she said, “Now, you are also my president mentor. You cannot escape me.” But in truth, she’s so independent I feel I didn’t do much as a mentor. Let’s welcome, CC Nor Ain Husein.

My secretary. Our secretary is a beautiful, young lady. She’s so humble till some people thought she’s naïve and child-like. Maybe it’s also because she always looks nervous and panic. But these people who thought so must have never seen her in action outside Toastmasters. When I asked her to take up this role, her answer was simple, “Afzan, if you need me, I’m ok.” To me, this is a sign of a noble friend. I’m proud of her willingness to help me. Let’s welcome, TM Tea Hui Shyan.

Our Treasurer is supposed to be Hian Siew. But I’m sad to inform that Hian Siew cannot be in the exco team due to sudden changes in her study schedule. She attended the first exco meeting. Even for only two weeks, I’m proud to have her in the team, all the same. Thus, the Treasurer seat is still vacant.

Finally, our Sergeant-At-Arms. She is a very new member to the club, yet I salute her because among some new members I asked to take up this role, she was the only one who said, “I’ll think about it.” To me, this means that she is confident with her leadership skills, but observant enough to still ask for time to consider this new environment she is in. She has the air of calmness and humility around her, despite her age – the signs of a great leader. Let’s welcome, TM Nur Farhana Mohd Isa.

Fellow Toastmasters, these are the people who will serve you throughout the term. I am proud of them. In my acceptance speech last term, I said that good leadership binds friendship. When at the end of the term, after all the trials and tribulations, our friendship strengthens, that means we have successfully practice good leadership. I’m looking forward to working with these great friends. Thank you. You may be seated.

Toastmaster: Before and After

Years ago when I was in school, one day, I was walking from the dormitory to class with my roommate. Suddenly, a dog came running and barking at us. I was about to run when my friend grabbed my shoulder and said, “Don’t run. It’ll chase.” She took a few steps toward the dog and yelled, “Argh! Hah! Hah!”

Contest chair, fellow toastmasters, beautiful people,

That day, my friend taught me a lesson on miscommunication. She said, “Since we don’t understand dog language, we only heard it barking. It was probably just saying, ‘Please walk and talk slowly. My puppies are sleeping.’ ”

In toastmasters, we learnt that it is good to give vivid and precise description to avoid miscommunication. I found that it is also useful when it comes to giving direction to people. Before I am a toastmaster, when I gave direction, I used to do it like this. To describe short distance, I would say “You go straight”. To describe long distance, I would say “You go straaaaaaaaight”. But now, I describe it vividly, “You go straight until you see a building” or “You go straight for about five minutes”. Vast improvement!

Public speaking has always been associated with nervousness. I can still remember my first table topics where I started with greetings, followed by a quote and two other sentences, and … until I saw the green light was on and I say “I think that’s all. Thank you”. Nervousness can never go away. But as you do it over and over again, you simply find ways to hide it or fake it. Now, if I am ever lost for words, I do this. I look to the audience on my left, shift my gaze to the right and finally look in front and say, “Fellow toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen” so that it looks like a deliberate pause, when the real thing that’s going on in my mind is ‘Oh, my God! I forgot my script’, ‘What’s the keyword? What’s the keyword?’, ‘Oh, I remember now! Here it comes’, “Fellow toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen”.

Toastmasters’ environment taught me to always say positive things even when we are highlighting people’s weaknesses. This is what we learn when we do evaluations. My brother doesn’t like to be told what to do, especially by me. I guess this is true for most guys. Most means all. Before I join toastmasters, when I don’t like what he was wearing, I would say, “That shirt doesn’t go with the sneakers. I think you better change.” He wouldn’t change and I thought he simply didn’t care about fashion sense, until I cared to put it this way to him, “I like it when my brother looks nice when he goes out with me. And you look nice when you do your hair like that time.” He changed the hairstyle immediately. “Now, nice?’

I am known among my friends as an honest person. I understand that when they said honest, they meant blunt. Problem is I always see things as black and white, yes or no, success or fail, when I gave opinion. Evaluations taught me to consider both sides thoroughly and balance it. You’ve got to highlight strengths and give recommendations for weaknesses. Years ago when a friend asked me during shopping, “What do you think of this shawl?”, I would look one time and say “Ugly. Don’t buy”. Full stop. But now, I would give it one good, long look and consider my thoughts and come out with something like this, “That’s pretty. The one you are wearing is also pretty. The one in your closet that I remember is also pretty. Considering that, you already have too many. I suggest you keep your money. Not that it makes the shawl less pretty.”

Fellow toastmasters,

I believe all of us are a changed person after we became Toastmaster. In these seemly tiny little small changes, we found that we have been a bigger person, set out to make great changes to the world.

‘How do you eat a big, fat elephant?’ ‘One bite at a time’

Johor Jaya Toastmasters Club
Humorous Speech and Evaluation Contest

The Rain

(My sixth project – Vocal Variety)


I remember when I was little, my brother, my sister and I used to play in the rain a lot. When it was school holiday, my parents used to leave us at home because my mom’s workplace was very near to our home. Occasionally, when it was pouring, we took the golden chance to play in the rain. What we did was we built a play boat using leaves, put a little toothpaste at the boat rear, released it in drain which was full of water and pretending we were boat racing. We would chase it around the house until the finishing line. I remember once we were grounded because we wet the living room carpet after hours of playing in the rain. Even now at this age, I would occasionally play in the rain with excuses like cleaning the drain, gardening or washing my motorbike. I would say to my mom, “Mak, I’m saving water. I don’t have to splash another round of water after cleaning because the rain will wash it for me.”

I live in the part of Johor where you can see the fog up till 8.00 in the morning. Sometimes, when it rains the night before, the fog might stays until 9 o’clock. The view is breath-taking. The smell of the rain is also different at my hometown than here in JB because my town is surrounded by oil palm plantation. Here, the rain smelled of smoke and chemicals. Back there where I came from, the rain smelled of grass and rotten woods. It’s so refreshing. Maybe this is why I’ve always love the rain ever since I was a little kid.

Since I like the rain so much, I don’t understand why some people are making a fuss when it rains. I have a friend who, most of the time, act like the rain is ruining her whole day. If it rains in the morning, she’d start complaining, “How am I supposed to go to work? I don’t have car. Nobody can come pick me up.” One day, I said to her, “What’s wrong with going to work by bike even if it’s raining? You can always wear a rain coat. If you are not comfortable with wet stockings, then bring another pair to work. If you are afraid of falling sick, then go to your doctor and ask for an Influenza injection. Your last option is buy a car. But since you don’t have the money, stop complaining and face the reality. Then, go back to my suggestion number one.” Yes, I was a little bit harsh but life isn’t supposed to be that hard, is it? She still complains now, but I manage to master the art of switching my ears to silent mode.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The best thing I learned about rain is that rain emits a very strong alpha wave. What is alpha wave? Alpha energies are the most powerful frequencies that our brain can emit. Alpha wave enhances our brain’s ability in creative problem solving, accelerated learning, mood elevation and stress reduction. Other than that, alpha wave also opens up our unconscious mind. According to the study of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, this alpha state programs our visualizations into our unconscious mind and makes things happen. I think this is why in some beliefs or religions; one of the best times to pray or make a wish is during rainfall. I love to think that the rain is a special gift from God, especially in Malaysia where it rains the whole year round. It is as like Jaya Jusco organizing JCard Day every week.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I believe that when we are grateful of something, we will get something back in return, sometimes in an unexpected form. Therefore, I would like to give you a suggestion. After this when it rains, instead of thinking it will ruin your day, you might want to enjoy the slight cold and the alpha frequency it emits. Stand by the window, close your eyes and simply enjoy the smell and the sound of rain hurling down your rooftop.

Back to you, Toastmaster of the Evening.

Seek To Understand Then To Be Understood

(I’m officially a Competent Communicator. Wow, what a journey after one year and 9 months. I still have a long way to go. This is the speech that marked the first flag in my long course of journey.)

Seek first to understand then to be understood.

My fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,

I admit. These words, as beautiful as they may sound to ears, are easier said than done.

Let’s take a look at our manuals in page two. It’s written with ‘The Mission of Toastmasters International’. Now, let’s look at the second paragraph: ‘TI helps men and women learn the arts of speaking, listening and thinking’. If we look at Toastmasters club’s mission, it’s written somewhere in the middle: ‘to develop oral communication and leadership skills’. From my understanding, this means that listening is a very important part in oral communication and leadership skills. To be able to communicate effectively, we must be able to listen effectively.

Now, let us ponder. How many times have we started talking or giving opinions before the other persons finish their talks? How many times have we started to tell people our points when we should in fact listen and understand what others are trying to tell us? How many times have we judged people without first hearing their true story?

When I first joined Toastmasters, can anybody guess what my greatest fear was? I feared I won’t be able to survive the culture. I came from a town where majority of the population is Malay. I’ve been in two boarding schools – both all Malay. I have only one Chinese and one Indian friend for 17 years of my life until I went to UTM. Seriously. The first few months in Toastmasters, I was still considering quitting. Being in Toastmasters was definitely an out-of-comfort-zone experience for me, even without the projects, manuals and contests. I don’t know how to communicate my wants because I’m not sure whether you’ll understand. But I kept reminding myself, apart from ‘aal iz well’, I must seek first to understand then to be understood. I must first listen before I seek to be heard. So I listen carefully to conversations and people’s stories to get myself familiar with Toastmasters. After a few months, I’ve able to understand the culture by my listening activity. But this is listening in a simple view.

I think it is not exaggerating to say that good listening skills can contribute for a better mankind. How many of you have ever watched the movie Invictus? This movie records the amazing moments when Nelson Mandela was newly elected as the president of South Africa. The black people were protesting against the national rugby team, Springbrocks, because to them, the white people brought in rugby, so the Springbrocks symbolized apartheid. They want to replace the team with a brand new one, complete with a new name, a new color and a new emblem. But Mandela said, “We had prevailed against the Africana. All of us. But now the Africana is no longer our enemy. They are now our fellow South Africans, our partners in democracy and they treasure Springbrocks rugby. If we take that away, we lose them. We prove that we are what they fear we would be. We have to be better than that. We have to surprise them with compassion, restring and generosity.” Mandela’s splendid listening skill is impressive. To be able to do this after long years imprisoned by the same people who he was defending at that time requires high level of empathy. Empathy is the very essence of effective listening skills.

To be able to listen emphatically, we must be able to open up ourselves to be influenced. This is risky because it takes a great deal of security to go into deep listening. But this is the only way – in order to have influence on others, we must let ourselves be influenced by them. Let me tell you a story about my mother and I. Before that, let me state a fact. Even though I’m a girl, I don’t get most of woman emotion or behavior like why women love shopping, why do women need plenty of shoes and why can’t women decide on blue or red after a few hours. So my relationship with my mom didn’t go very smoothly. But, a few years back when I came across the popular book “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” I stumbled upon many ah-ha moments throughout my reading.

One day, my mother said, “You never helped me clean up the house.” Before that, when she said this, I could feel anger filling up my lungs but that time, I simply listened to her while she kept lamenting about her tiring day. After she finished, I gave her a hug and said, “Kesian mak”. She simply said, “Hmm…” and proceeding to tell me about some funny things happening at her office. Then I thought, “Aik? It was that simple. How can I not know about this before?” When I do this, my mother was influenced by my behavior, which I hugged her, but actually, before that, I was influenced by her stories. My point of view had been changed because I listen without judging her, without making assumption about her feelings. I saw her hardships differently than before.

One of the greatest experiences I had related to listening is a few years back. One day, my brother was down because of his exam results so he poured out his feelings to me. While he was talking, I kept saying “I understand. I understand.” Suddenly in the middle of talking, he couldn’t contain his emotion and said, “Stop saying ‘I understand. I understand.” No, you don’t understand. You were always the top scorer. You are good in curriculum. How can you understand me being a fail student? Do you understand the feeling of being disapproved by mom and dad? No, you don’t.” I was stunt and silent. He’s right. I don’t understand. I don’t even have the right to say I understand because that’s like belittling his feeling. But later, I realized, he’s correct that I don’t understand his feelings. But I do understand the feeling of trying so hard but not succeeding. I do understand the feeling of trying so hard to make people validate me. These are the actual feelings that I must relate when he told me his story. This incident has taught me a great lesson on empathy and listening.

My fellow Toastmasters,

If listening is easy, there won’t be any wars in the world. If listening is easy, divorce rates won’t keep increasing around the world. We are different. This is what makes listening skills a valuable commodity in a person and the essence of oral communication. The good news is we can all learn and improve our listening skills. Remember. Seek first to understand then to be understood.

Aini and I vs The Dog

(Project 5: Your Body Speaks, presented in Evaluation and Contest Judging Workshop at Sunway College as test speaker)

One of my great teachers taught me a good tip on how to stay enthusiastic and energetic throughout the day – always say good morning at all times in a day so you feel as fresh as you are in the morning. Therefore, Mr. Chairman and fellow Toastmasters, good morning!

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have very little experience with dogs. But among these little experiences, there are three most significant ones that I think I can never forget for the rest of my life. One is when I nearly fell of my bike when a cute and cuddly, white poodle came chasing at me from behind. First thing I remember I was singing happily while riding on my bike. Next thing I realized it’s next to my bike trying to grab my foot.

My second experience is when I was walking around in a neighborhood in Taman Universiti, Skudai. A big, black dog chased me until a Chinese aunty came out of her house and saved my life.

The third one is the one I’m going to share with all of you today because this incident has taught me a very valuable lesson.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This incident happened some when in 2003. At that time I was in form 5, studying in a boarding school. Back then, my roommate was my best friend. Her name is Aini. Aini as in ‘wo ai ni’. In Arabic, Aini means eyes. One afternoon, Aini and I with three of our friends were walking to our class for preparation study. It was around three o’clock. We were late, so there was no one left at our dormitory.

My school was built in 1980. So, there were a few old dormitory buildings that are not used anymore. At that time, there was a stray dog just giving birth to her puppies. There were a few cases where students were chased by the dog. I remember one of my classmates telling me, “I suspect the dog was suffering from post natal disorder”. I don’t know, though, whether dogs can suffer from post natal disorder just like human.

As my friends and I were walking, we talked quite loudly. I remember my three friends were walking in front while Aini and I followed from behind. Suddenly, there was “Gong gong gong!!!” a very loud barking sound echoing from the old dormitories area. After a few seconds, we can see the dog running towards us. Two of my friends in front had started running. But one of them grabbed their hands and said, “Don’t run. It’ll chase.” So they stop running. 50 meters! 40 30 20 10 2 meters! It stopped, but the barking didn’t stop.

What did I do? What did I do? Exactly nothing! My feet was glued to the ground and I was like “Is that a dog? Oh yeah! I’m pretty sure that is a dog. Why didn’t I run? Oh, am I supposed to?” I was too panicked. But Aini didn’t panic at all. You know what she did? She raised her bag like this, walked towards the dog and yelled out, “Aaaah!  Hah!” Surprisingly, the fierce dog ducked down and made the “hmm hmm” sound, clearly scared. Aini took a few more steps towards the dog, yelled again, “Huh huh huh!!!” and thumped her feet like that. This time, the dog was terrified and ran back to where it came from. All the time that happened, the rest of us just look at Aini like this.

After all that panic, we resumed our walk very quickly, afraid that in case the dog might turn back. Meanwhile I said to Aini, “God, I didn’t know you are that brave. Where did that courage coming from?” She simply smiled and winked at me.

Ladies and gentlemen,

That day this incident happened, Aini might not notice, but she had taught me a very important lesson, that is; do not assume, check the facts. You know why? It’s because later that day she told me, “Alah! We assume the dog was angry and fierce but in fact, we don’t understand dog’s language. She probably was just trying to say, ‘Please talk quietly. My puppies were sleeping and you are waking them up.’ Ha kan kan?” Remember! Don’t assume. Check the facts. Back to you, Mr. Chairman.

As Kids See It

(My winning speech in Division A, District 51 Humorous Speech Contest – September 2010)

When I was very young, I used to believe that if we eat the centre of fruit, the seeds will grow into plants in our stomach. I even asked my father, “Abah, what if the plant grow so big, it comes out of our mouth? How are we supposed to eat, drink and speak?”

Contest Chair, Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,

The worst part is I actually believed that was true until I was 10, that is Year 4 in primary school which is quite not too young.

I think kids look very adorable when they are concentrating on something. But once in a while, you might want to check on what they are concentrating at. Once, when my sister was in kindergarten, one day, she was staring at our mom’s cookie container. She was staring very hard that it lured me to ask, “Adik, what are you looking at?” She ignored me. But a few seconds later, suddenly, with the joy like Archimedes discovering Eureka, she yelled out, “Boot-er cho-ock-ee-us!” My response was, “Huh?” She repeated the phrase a few times “Boot-er cho-ock-ee-us! Boot-er cho-ock-ee-us!” until at last, I only understood it after she pointed out the cookie container to me. She was actually trying to spell ‘butter cookies’, but got ‘boot-er cho-ock-ee-us’ instead.

Kids’ logic is always a mystery to adults. That’s why, when speaking to them, extreme patience and advanced listening skills are required. I’ve experienced this when I was six. My brother was two at that time. Compared to kids at his age, my brother’s vocabulary was growing so rapidly, he talked like a four-year-old. One evening, we were playing what he liked to call jumping-jumping on mommy’s cushions. While we were happily jumping, he slipped and fell face first onto the floor. He touched his mouth, found blood and two teeth missing. He cried out loud non-stop for two hours. My mom asked him, “Abang, why are still you crying? Does it still hurt?” “No”, he said. “Then why?” “I have no front teeth. My face is ugly. And how am I supposed to eat guava after this?” which was his favorite at that time. And then he said, “Mak, let’s go to supermarket and buy me new teeth.” My mom’s answer was, “It’s already past ten. All supermarkets are now closed.” “Then pull out your teeth, and then glue them into mine.” My mother was patiently entertaining him while he kept babbling till he was tired and fell asleep. The permanent teeth only grew out ten years later when he was 12. Thank God my brother is handsome now, or else I’d feel guilty for the rest of my life for making him jumping too excitedly.

Last year, I was tutoring primary school kids at a tuition centre. I remember one boy aged eleven in my class. His name was Ayub. One day I noticed his nails were full of dirt. So, I asked him to come with me to the toilet to wash his hands. I said, “Ayub, why are you not cleaning your fingers?” He answered enthusiastically, “Teacher, I’m conducting an experiment.” ‘Wow, this boy is very investigative!’ I thought. ‘Perhaps, a future scientist.’ He continued, “My science teacher said germs and bacteria grow very fast. She also said dirt contains germs and bacteria. But after waiting for days, I wonder why the germs and bacteria in my nails do not spread out to my whole hands. I thought they are supposed to breed very fast.” Good investigation, but wrong hypothesis.

There was another boy aged seven in my other class. He’s the kind of kid who I like very much – chubby cheeks, wide-eyed, dimples. But he seemed to have problems in arithmetic. When I asked the class, “What is six plus two?” He answered confidently, “Four, teacher.” I wondered why. So I asked him to show me his calculation. He took out his chubby fingers and started demonstrating, “Six (index finger plus thumb) plus two (middle finger and ring finger). The answer is four (he counted the thumb as one).” This boy was certainly giving me headache. Well, he’s now eight years old. I hope he managed to master his arithmetic by now.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dealing with kids might make us lose our patience sometimes. That’s why, Bill Cosby, once the host of the TV show, Kids Say the Darndest Thing, gave a good advice to parents. He said, “Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry.” For example, try differentiating between ‘Anne’ and ‘Anna’. Hear the huge difference? Despite that, we must bear in mind! Kids are something that we borrow from our future. Therefore, we must take good care of them before we give them back. Thank you and back to Contest Chair.