Friday, August 27, 2010

Much Ado About Filial Piety....

"A father can raise ten children, but sometimes ten children could not even be filial to their father", lamented my beloved papa. It has been some four decades since those words were uttered when papa felt sad after he had read how an elderly man was left destitute by his ten children in Penang.

I guess things have not changed very much, especially when the government had allowed parents to take out money from their CPF to fund their children's tertiary education. Obviously the government had faith that the children would be filial and refund the monies into their parents' CPF account. The money in the CPF is money meant for their parents' twilight years, when they are no longer able to work.

Alas! The headline, "Grads not repaying parents' CPF for studies" hit the front page of the Straits Times yesterday. Some 7,500 graduates who are already working have not been refunding the promised amount into their parents' CPF accounts. One son was reported for using his salary to satisfy his own material needs - buying branded goods and a car. Another bought himself a car and an apartment, promising that he would refund the money slowly.

I guess if a father were rich, it would be alright for him to fund his son's education, but I cannot understand why Mr. Zheng, a technical officer, asserted that as a father it should be his responsibility to fund his son's education. I think a parent's responsibility is to see that his children get a minimum of secondary school education, and his children should learn to be responsible for themselves should they decide to get tertiary education. When I was studying in Canada, I was initially perplexed by most Canadian parents' attitude. Most of the students in Canada either take a loan from the university or work part time to fund their education. Now I realise that this arrangement is great for it teaches the youngsters to be independent and resourceful, and not to take their parents for
granted. This is why I am always impressed when I meet students like Abraham Lim who
work part time and full time during vacations so as to support themselves in their tertiary education. An active toastmaster, Abraham, continues to give private tuition to support his studies.

Right after my O levels I took up a secretarial course and I earned MR$70 a month as a clerk, my very first job. I gave my mama MR40 out of the MR70 salary. To supplement my meagre income I gave English tuition and earned an extra MR20 a month. By being frugal, I was able to save a few dollars a month. Entering the university was never my priority for I felt that I could learn as much by reading voraciously. After mama passed away, I had a pleasant surprise when my ex-employer's father gave me a one time bursary to study in Canada. The four years had taught me to be resourceful and independent as my scholarship paid for my school fees and my part time earnings paid for my food and lodging.

I once met an elderly lady in her late eighties when I first visited eldest sister in Kuching. The elderly lady looked younger than her age and I could still remember when she told me that her mother had blessed her to live to a ripe old age, for she had been extremely filial. "We have blessings when we honour our parents," she asserted. Eldest sister told me that the lady passed away when she was 99 years of age, a few days short of her 100th birthday! "Blessings when we honour our parents" true!

I am glad that the Ministry of Education has no plans to extend the scheme to students who want to pursue an overseas education. For it means digging a deeper hole into the pockets of the elderly parents' retirement funds. For those who really yearn to study overseas, you may try to do so after your first degree. I would encourage you to be courageous. Try to work part time and you will be surprised how well you will soon learn to organise and manage your time between work and studies.

Filial piety is important enough for it to be mentioned in the Bible. I believe that filial piety is also important to all races, regardless of language and religion, for it is a a characteristic that is expected of God's highest creation - homo sapiens. For filial piety implies gratitude and appreciation to our parents who have raised us up. The least we can do is not to take them for granted, and in return, receive tons of blessings from above.

Gan Cao

No comments: