22 November 1998

Who does not fear death? 1 know of no one really who looks forward or is in a hurry to meet his Maker in heaven.

I have lost many loved ones, relatives and dear friends and associates over the last two decades. Death will come uninvited, waits for no one. A Russian proverb says death carries a fat Tzar on his shoulders as easily as a lean beggar.

Every nationality looks at death quite differently. The English claims that he that fears death lives not, the Chinese look upon death as going home. For the Malay, death is the beginning of an eternal life. A Jewish proverb asserts that after death one becomes more important.

How true. P. Ramlee and Princess Diana are a couple of examples. Just read obituaries, visit memorials and read biographies and watch videos and films of the departed. A video on the Life and Times of Tun Razak has just been completed and is ready for distribution.

Americans fear dying is one of the most common chronic diseases, according to the latest quarterly survey conducted for the Wall Street Journal and NBC news.. Albert Hunt, a staff writer of the paper, writing about the survey says " ... the Americans are optimistic that medical science will develop a cure in the foreseeable future. Slightly more than half of the public is concerned they might die from cancer. Almost 40% have the same fear about heart disease." (WST, June 25).

He continues: "Actually cardiovascular disease is far more common in this country (United States) than cancer. More than 58 million Americans have a type of cardiovascular disease such as coronary, heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke. Almost a million people die annually from heart disease.

"About eight million people in the United States today are living with a history of cancer. More than half a million die each year from some form of it. But more than half of the people who contract cancer this year will live for five years or more, adjusting to normal life expectancies; that is double the rate of 50 years ago.

Life expectancy in the United States is 77 years against our 72 years.

A quick check in the New York Times 1998: Almanac shows the following: the United States today is the third most populous nation in the world with a population of 271.6 million people as of last year. China leads the world with 1.2 billion people, India slightly less that a billion (960 million) and our neighbour Indonesia is fourth with 203.5 million.

According to the almanac, in the year 2025 (five years after we achieve Vision 2020) there would be 31.6 million Malaysians against Indonesia's 275 million, Singapore's 4.2 million (now 3.4 million), China's 1.48 billion and India 1.3 billion. By then there would be 332.5 million Americans, a good proportion of them would be Asian, coloured and Hispanic.

As a matter of interest there were 7.2 million Asians in the United States or 2.9% of the total population according to the last figure available (1990 census) and of these the Chinese are the largest with 1.6 million followed closely by the Filipinos (1.4 million) and then the Japanese with 847,862 persons.

Now, the Asian population is estimated at about 4 % of the total and is growing fast.