In Death,There Is Life (Part 1)

by Patrick Liew on August 16, 2012

“Mai Chow!” (“Don’t Run!”)

That was the loud scream I heard one evening in 1972. When I turned to look at where it came from, I saw a group of gangsters running towards me and my friends.

I could tell from the terror in their eyes and body language, they were all out for our blood. They were carrying sticks and all kinds of weapons.

My friends and I immediately ran for our life. Every one of us must have clocked our best timing, better than even sprinting on a downward slope.

It was very clear in my mind that if the gangsters caught us, we would be dead meat. They would beat us badly to appease their anger and frustrations because we had earlier sabotaged their ‘business’ and wasted their evening.

It would be hard for young people today to imagine that there was a time when Singapore was not such a safe and secure place. There were many groups of gangsters running all over the island and they were quite rampant in carrying out illegal activities.

Prior to the scream, my friends and I were walking along a lonely stretch of the Changi Beach. One guy stopped us almost in desperation and pleaded with us, “Please! Our car is stuck in the sandy beach.

“Can you help us push the car out of the rut?!”

Without batting an eyelid let alone looked around the place, I had told the man, “Sure! Let’s do it.”

We pushed the car while the man sat on the driver’s seat. He had started the engine and put the car on reverse gear.

I could see his lady partner sitting besides him but I did not notice the fear on her face. There was no way I could sense that all of us, including the couple were in grave danger.

As the driver stepped on the accelerator, the car roared in battle against the sand. The tyres spun and threw sand, dirt and dust all over the air and on us.

Dark smokes were spurting out of the exhaust pipe. It almost choked us and covered us with a layer of oily soot, causing us to smell of petrol for the next few hours.

It took awhile for us to find and place stones behind the tyres to give them a better grip of the ground before we could get the car out of the hole. We threw up our hands in celebration and some of us were patting each other on the back.

We stopped only when the man stuck his head out of the window and said, “Guys, thank you for the help.”

He drove off and I was sure he should be happy but it was not to be so. We waved him off from the back and that was when I heard the scary “Mai Chow!”

It was later that we learned the couple had parked the car at a quiet spot on the beach. While they were fully absorbed with each other, a group of gangsters had quietly dug a hole underneath the tyres.

After the romantic liaison, the driver had tried to reverse the car out of the beach. The more he stepped on the accelerator, the more the spinning of the tyres would dig themselves deeper into the hole.

That was when the gangsters appeared and offered to help push the car out of the hole. The extortion worked well because by then, the couple had no other choice and they would be more than willing to pay a lot of money to get themselves far away from these hooligans.

After the couple left us, the gangsters were all out for vengeance. They were running after us, screaming all kinds of vulgarities and threats.

I was quite sure anger would blind their senses and make them want to take our lives. I won’t even have the time to tell them my favorite joke for diffusing stressful situations nor explore leisurely with them my preferred spot for burial.

I wanted to also tell these potential killers, “I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

“Besides, it’s too early in the evening for death. And after the long run, I’m just too tired to die.

“I also don’t like the feeling of sweat all over my face and dead body.”

I was not sure how they would take to my corny brand of humour. Anyway, there wasn’t much time to do it and somehow, the ambience did not also seem right.

That evening could be the last evening of our lives. The sandy beach might have been our unmarked burial ground.

Would you like to know how we got out of the incident alive? How our Creator helped not just the faster runners but also all of us to get out of danger?

Please read on.

Since that incident, I have gone through many other near-death experiences. They have become some of the best ‘teachers’ and transformational experiences in my life.

Near-death experience taught me to be grateful for and to value life.

I’m reminded that today could be the last day of my life. Therefore, I want to fully experience everything in my life and to cherish them.

I want to learn how to live life at its best – moment by moment. Every moment should be the best moment.

I want to live every moment as if it is the first and last moment. I aim to be mindful of every moment and do everything I can to live it out as the best moment.

If the experience of time as Albert Einstein might put it is relative. Then, I want to see how can I stretch time by maximizing its enjoyment and fulfillment.

I want to not only live every moment to the fullest but to also enjoy it while it lasts. If I am not enjoying it, it is a wasted moment.

I want to inject life into living. I do not want to exist or go through the motion of a ‘typical’ day.

Even if there are challenges, I want to go and grow through them.

I want to prolong the pleasure of every moment and savour it to the greatest intensity.

What’s more, I aim to accentuate and sustain the learning experience by anchoring them in my memory and recording them in my journal.

It is sad that in the past I have allowed many of these valuable moments to pass me by.

I have not lived through every moment very often because I have consciously or unconsciously lived in the yesterdays or tomorrows of my life. I have been too preoccupied with the baggages of the past and burdens of the future.

To borrow the words of a famous Chinese song, I wish that ‘明天会更好’ – tomorrow will be better. Unfortunately, I let today go to waste.

Over the years, I have discovered that when I learn to value and enjoy every moment of my life, I will deepen my love for our Creator and for myself at the same time.

I will become more aware of the positive emotions, including love, joy and peace that He has planted in my heart. In addition, I will carry less negative emotions, including many of the destructive emotions that can crush my spirit and destroy my life.

As I am mindful that my life can end at any point in time, I will manage my life, and not just my time.

I become more inclined to do well and do good at the same time, all the time.

As long as I live for another day, I will endeavour to craft a ‘fairy-tale’ ending for my life. I will constantly remind myself, What I need to do, I will do it NOW.

Back to my story. Just when I thought we would be running out of energy and the gangsters were running within reach of us, a miracle happened.

The man that we had helped to get out of the rut had turned around and stopped in front of us.

“Get into the car quick!” he shouted at us. We literally jumped into the car and it sped off to safety.

It was awhile later when my mind was clear and I was thinking about the incident that a few questions came through my mind.

Why did he not drive off with us in the first place? Did he panic after getting out of the rut and abandon us to fend for ourselves?

After driving off, why did he turn back? Did he feel guilty for forsaking us?

I supposed these questions could never be answered on this side of pearly gates.

I knew without a shadow of a doubt our Creator could have easily saved us. In His wisdom, he allowed me to go through the near-death experience so that I and probably you too could  learn from it.

I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

For my opinions on current affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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