A candid interview with The Pakistani Spectator
Posted on June 30th, 2008 by Lilian • Filed under: Life and rants
Would you please tell us something about you and your site?
My name is Lilian and I actually have over 20 blogs. However, some of them are to make money only. I am a mom to five boys, one of whom passed away. So, that’s how I get my blog nickname as The Most Obnoxious 5xmom at http://www.chanlilian.net/. I will explain the obnoxious part later on.
I am one of Malaysia’s top 50 bloggers and had been blogging since 2003. I write about food, faith, making money through blogging and personal issues that include political and social matters that affect me as an individual.
Do you feel that you continue to grow in your writing the longer you write? Why is that important to you?
Yes, I can actually see a transformation of my individuality. I started as a mommy blogger, then I ventured into making money blogger. Now, I am more into writing about my struggles as a Christian searching for her inner soul and also to state my stands on political and social matters.
I’m wondering what some of your memorable experiences are with blogging?
Blogging gives me back my individualism. I was a working woman before I become a full-time mother. Somewhere along, I lost my own personality, having put the children and home above everything else. So, when I started blogging in 2003, I found myself again.
What do you do in order to keep up your communication with other bloggers?
I am not a social blogger and hence, I like to stay away from cliques and groups. However, I do have my little circle of supportive friends and bloggers and we keep in touch by visiting each other blogs.
What do you think is the most exciting or most innovative use of technology in politics right now?
Some of the foolish politicians actually labeled us Malaysian bloggers as liars, unemployed women with too much time on hand, monkeys and all kinds of unsavoury names before the huge political tsunami in Malaysia. Then, they lost a huge chunk of power and they are now scrambling to get their voices heard through their newly minted blog.
So, blog is probably the most exciting arena in my country right now.
Do you think that these new technologies are effective in making people more responsive?
Blogs that are well crafted can be very influential. Notice that I use well-crafted and not well-written? Some bloggers are gifted to capture people’s interests through the way they present a case. They are so good, readers may not immediately notice that their minds have been influenced in a sub-conscious way.
What do you think sets Your site apart from others?
I am one of the few daring people who dares to write what I think. I do not hold back on my thoughts eventhough I know some parties may not like what they read. That’s why I have the Obnoxious title linked to my blog title.
Moreover, with my age, 44 years old, I have a lot more experiences in life to share. The good, bad, cynical and funny aspects.
If you could choose one characteristic you have that brought you success in life, what would it be?
Independent nature. I have learnt from young that no one will help us to get anywhere unless we do it ourselves. So, whatever I set my heart on, I will work on it till I achieved it.
What was the happiest and gloomiest moment of your life?
The gloomiest moment in my life is probably the birth, struggles and eventual death of my fourth son who died due to complications from a premature birth. But I shall wait for more happy moments. Save the best for last.
Do you think [the use of Twitter and other social networking tools by politicians] is bandwagon jumping or what?
Oh yes….a lot of politicians are foolish to think that they can just sign up a free blogging platform and expect to transform their sucky image into a saint. For example, one of Malaysia most detested ex-politician thinks people’s heart will melt when he puts photos of him going to poor people settlement and nail some planks to their broken shelter.
I wish to tell them things don’t work that way. People are not easily fooled. Moreover, if they have blogs, they have to make sure that their blogs can get on top of the search results. In this case, I must proudly declare that I am an expert in this. I have managed to get my own blog on the search results when people are Googling for the politicians’ names.
For example, a lot of people were very interested to find out about my Penang state Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng. He is quite the hero to me, being a former prisoner. So, I gathered a lot of heart-rending past stories about him and make sure people knew the struggles he went through to be where he is today.
If you could pick a travel destination, anywhere in the world, with no worries about how it’s paid for – what would your top 3 choices be?
I had been to Italy and I would like to go back again someday. I have always been fascinated with the colours and cultures of India. And I always dream of spending the rest of my life in Switzerland.
What is your favorite book and why?
I read a lot of thrashy novels, inspirational books, motivation craps, best selling titles and I don’t think I can name just one single book. But if the Bible qualifies as a book, I would name it. Why? Because this is possibly one book filled with so many disgusting acts from humans, just like how our world is and yet, it has the best and happiest ending of all.
What’s the first thing you notice about a person (whether you know them or not)?
I was an Executive Secretary before and I have this freaky ability to tell a person’s personality just based on their looks and the way they talk. I must say a person’s smile is very revealing. From it, you know the person is sincere or not.
Is there anyone from your past that once told you you couldn’t write?
Well, what matters is this one person who told me I can write. He is my son’s doctor and from the moment, he told me I write well, I haven’t stopped writing since. I had written some articles in the newspapers and magazines, wrote a book for parents on coping with terminally ill children and I can blog all day without running out of topics.
How bloggers can benefit from blogs financially?
People often asked how I make money from blogging. I told them to imagine my blog as a huge magazine. And that magazine has lots of space for rent. So, that’s how I earn. In fact, I am one of the few people in my country to ever hit a five digit income (in Ringgit Malaysia) per month, from blogging. I have retired from this craze and now, spend time learning about my faith.
Is it true that who has a successful blog has an awful lot of time on their hands?
Not really. It is just that we are very good in expressing our thoughts, we work twice or maybe thrice as fast as the regular Joe bloggers. And I can type very, very fast. However, blogging is work to me. I have my own desk, my own space and there are certain times when my children know that I am working and they leave me alone. Well, most of the time.
What are your thoughts on corporate blogs and what do you think the biggest advantages and disadvantages are?
Corporate blogs lack ‘life’. In order for a blog to be attractive, it has to have a personality. Unless the company is from the creative sector, corporate blogs are just plain dull. So, unless the company CEO (or anyone who works permanently there) can put their company’s image through the blog, it is pointless to bother at all.
What role can bloggers of the world play to make this world more friendlier and less hostile?
Disseminating information through blogs will make others more understanding to our cause. For example, I have a blog on my Catholic faith. I try to use it to make people understand why we believe in certain things and I hope they will be less judgemental and critical of us. At the same time, I also take time to learn about others’ faith and try to be more tolerant.
Who are your top five favourite bloggers?
1) Lim Kit Siang – He is this gentleman who never gives up and keep pushing for political changes. I read that he personally handles his own blog and all his posts are very passionate (about helping the downtrodden, fighting for justice and corruption)
2) Raja Petra – No one has the balls like him to fight for justice.
3) Jeff Ooi – He is ‘just one of us bloggers’ when I started blogging in 2003. Now, he is a Member of Paliarment.
5) Myself (just joking but I cannot think of anyone else when I need to limit the numbers)
Is there one observation or column or post that has gotten the most powerful reaction from people?
I have many. But right now, my most popular post is about Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. Everyone wants to know the ‘real him’ because he is the miracle guy I refer as ‘zero to hero’ . I discovered the kind of hardship he went through and blogged it.
What is your perception about Pakistan and its people?
To tell you the truth, I do not know much about Pakistan except that many of them are very rich businessmen in my country or they are working in the hard labour sector here. Two extremes. Beside that, I have always admired the late Benazir Bhutto for her beauty. That much I know. I must make an effort to expand my horizon.
Have you ever become stunned by the uniqueness of any blogger?
I have been a blogger since 2003 and by now, I am rather jaded. Things hardly raise an eyebrow now. However, there are those occasional enlightening posts that do make me think hard about life. Blog can gives the blogger a bigger than real-life presence. However, one has to remember not to let that get into their ego.
What is the most striking difference between a developed country and a developing country?
The developed countrymen only know how to rant and whine. The developing countrymen fight fearlessly for a better world.
What is the future of blogging?
Actually, bloggers are broken down to two different groups. I see more and more young people, retirees, parents getting on the bandwagon. But for those who are in the money making field, they are now exploring other new ways of making money and are dropping blogging.
But blogging as a fad won’t die so soon because many countries, like mine for example are just starting to bud.
You have also got a blogging life, how has it directly affected both your personal and professional life?
Since I don’t have employers to answer to, I do not have problems in professional life. However, being a Catholic Christian, I do cringe when people tells me they read my blog. My blog sometimes have ‘horns’ and I do not feel comfortable having peoples with ‘halo’ looking silently. However, I stand firm that no one has the right, not even my own husband and children, to tell me what I should or should not think and say. So, ultimately, I rely on my own conscience to tell me where to stop and draw the line. So, blogging does not affect me in person.
What are your future plans?
To keep blogging as it makes me a decent income. At the same time, I am now exploring other methods of making money. Still, I think I will continue blogging on my personal blog because I will never run out of things to write.
Any Message you want to give to the readers of The Pakistani Spectator?
Anyone can be a blogger but not everyone deserves to be respected as a blogger. Being a blogger will put the person in a vulnerable position of being thrashed if they write something not agreeable. Therefore, before you start a blog, see that you have the guts to face negative criticisms.
I must say that The Pakistani Spectator administrators and authors are doing a great job with the website. It is very informative and organised. I can see a very dedicated team working behind it. Bravo!