RM 1 for a doctor’s visit

I daydream of going home, where healthcare is universal.

Where I pay RM1 (USD 0.25) for a visit to the primary care doctor and RM5 for a referral to a specialist. A place where I don’t have to worry whether I should Uber to the ER or instead pay $500 for an ambulance. Health care is guaranteed and more importantly, shouldered by the government for each citizen. 

Last November, I ate with Mak Ngah (aunt in Malay) and her colleagues in New Jersey. She works for the Ministry of Health in Malaysia and is actively involved in the current pandemic. As I sat next to her eating microwaved briyani, she explained to me that her work is like the “FBI and CSI of outbreaks” in Malaysia. Then, her colleagues begin discuss about the epidemiology conference that they just attended. Things were normal. This was in 2019.

A month later, the outbreak in China begins.

Come March and April 202o.

14,000+ cases in Michigan. Malaysia on the other hand, a country twice the size of Michigan has 3,400+ cases. I’m not sure I have the words to express my shock that a developed nation, the self-proclaimed “greatest country in the world” has a sub-par healthcare system to Malaysia. I simply don’t. 

A few months ago I came to the ER department in Michigan Medicine. Though I was pleased by the service and excellent care, I balked at the cost of co-pay after insurance covered the ER visit. It was $75.

I could pay that. I’ll just have to take up an extra shift or two at work. Oh wait… the Uber was $19. Sigh.

Imagined if that happened this year when I automatically became unemployed. Gasp

What happens to the ones who can’t afford? Who lives and who dies? Who tells their story? I’m not going to claim that the healthcare system is perfect in Malaysia but the fact that I take it for granted  means that I am truly privileged to be doing so. It is an afterthought. I would have never in a million years guessed that my right to heal is a luxury.

Two years ago, I returned to Malaysia for an internship and upon knowing I needed to go to the doctor, I fretted about paying another $75 until my friend simply reassured me saying “Sarah, going to the doctor is RM1 here lah”. 

It’s just one ringgit.

(Credits: Mak Ngah, Hamilton Musical lyrics.// Image credits: Google Images)

How Lucky You Are

Seniors mourn their cancelled celebrations. People grieve over ill or lost loved ones. Many are unemployed and face hardships even after all of this is over. It’s true that the future is uncertain, which is why it’s important that you allow yourself to grieve. Allow yourself to be angry, frightened, or sad. Allow yourself to be concerned about your health, your job, and the economy. But also allow yourself to heal.

I turn to a song featured in the musical called SeussicalSeussical, created by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, is based on a variety of children’s books of Dr. Seuss. Having performed it during my senior year of high school, I will forever be biased towards this zany show; however, as much criticism as the musical gets, it’s undeniably a good time for performers and audience members alike. In all its wackiness, Seussical also projects positive themes and messages for all. One such message is found within a song that hits home right now titled “How Lucky You Are.”

How Lucky You Are

When the news is all bad
When you’re sour and blue
When you start to get mad
You should do what I do

Tell yourself
How lucky you are

When your life’s going wrong
When the fates are unkind
When you’re limping along
And get kicked from behind
Tell yourself how lucky you are

Why decry a cloudy sky
An empty purse
A crazy universe?
My philosophy is simply
Things could be worse!

So be happy you’re here
Think of life as a thrill
And if worse comes to worse
And we all know it will
Thank your lucky star
You’ve gotten this far
And tell yourself how lucky you are
How lucky, how lucky, how lucky, how lucky, how lucky, how lucky you are!

In the musical, “How Lucky You Are” takes place as the Whos’ clover—with all of them on it, of course—is dangerously soaring through the air. The Cat in the Hat, who acts as the musical’s narrator, freezes the action and sings ironic lyrics about how “things could be worse.”

Much like the Whos and their clover, the current epidemic and situation surrounding it can feel like a free-fall. Our world has been rocked, with many things we previously viewed as stable no longer being as solid. Our loss of our sense of security and social connections provide an even greater need for those connections, as we need a way to bear witness and communicate what’s happening around us.

In addition to educating yourself about the virus and following the instructions to stay at home, try to find new ways to adjust and move forward. I challenge you to acknowledge the grief you’re feeling, but to also know it’s okay to smile. During challenging times such as these, it seems impossible—or even wrong—to have fun and be joyful; however, being open to finding happiness in the mundane is important. Fear and anxiety over the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming, but healthily coping with stress can help make you and your community stronger. Gratitude and empathy can help us connect with one another and conquer these difficult times with grace. With that, I hope you stay safe and “tell yourself how lucky you are.”

The Wondrous World of Felipe Pantone

Felipe Pantone, an Argentinian-Spanish artist, creates futuristic, colorful art that breaks the boundaries of art technology. I first came across his work on Instagram, and naturally pored over his intriguing sculptures, described as “a collision between an analog past and a digitized future.” Infused with prisms of rainbow gradients, black and white glitches, and mesmerizing patterns, his art is an invitation to immerse oneself in another dimension.

Pantone acknowledges that he is “a byproduct of the technological age,” an identity that is familiar to we Gen Z’s and millennials. Growing up with the television and internet has shaped the ways in which we interpret visual information, something which Pantone plays with within his contemporary work.

Trained as a painter and graffiti artist, Felipe Pantone now holds shows all over the world and creates murals, sculptures, and paintings that tie together the natural and the digital–some can be read as “glitch art” and alludes to traditions of Futurism. His unique, futuristic, and dynamic works of art are also sometimes kinetic, allowing the viewer to experience different parts of the work as it moves. I find them completely alluring and fascinating–one day, I hope to own some pieces of his configurable art, such as works from the Modular Art System.

(All images from Felipe Pantone).

from chromadynamica


Mural from chromadynamica


SIN + MARCO from optichromie


Mural from optichromie


Process from planned iridescence


subtractive variability (kinetic color wheel)