I am back. Missed my last column in The Star as I had to put in a “bionic” spine on March 6. Technically, I underwent a major surgery to resolve degenerative lumbar kypho-scoliosis, causing severe multilevel spinal stenosis. Simply put, I had to fuse lumbar vertebrae #L2, L3, L4, L5, and S1 (the secrum). The outcome: I now have 10 screws in my lower back, and these are held together by two 8-inch titanium rods. It took eight hours of surgery, so I now have sort of a “bionic” lower spine. That does sound awesome, but I am fine—walking and sleeping without pain; a trade-off I assumed in exchange for a rather stiff and inflexible lower back. No more golf for me, I am afraid. But no problems in continuing with my qigong.
The past week was not all bad. On March 19, I was conferred the Honorary Doctorate in Economics by Universiti Sains Malaysia, at which I have served as its Pro-Chancellor for the past 10 years (2000–2010). It was an honor I deeply appreciated. Then, on March 23, I was awarded the Brand Laureate Brand Personality Award, 2010–2011, for achievements in economics and finance. That’s rather sobering since I have also been associated with (sitting on the boards of directors, mainly) some of the best Malaysian and foreign brands over the past 17 years: Jobstreet, Mid-Valley MegaMall, Genting and Resorts World, Silverlake, Top Glove, Fraser and Neave, Coca-Cola, Great Eastern Life, Straits Trading, and Cabot of Boston.