The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Sunday, April 18, 2010

On the need for a postal service.

A postal service is basic to any modern civilization, even in the age of the internet, since, sometimes, a physical object must be delivered and information is not enough. Unfortunately, Malaysia has overlooked this necessity. I shall explain.

Yesterday, we were talking to a recently married expat, living in KL with his Asian wife. At one point in the conversation, he shared with us his unhappy experience with the Malaysian postal service. They had mailed out 30 invitations to intended wedding guests in Thailand. They were very well presented invitations and a lot of work had gone into preparing them. Imagine, then, their surprise, when, two weeks after they had posted them, in a Malaysian post office (and been assured that all would be well, since they had asked about the likelihood of a successful delivery), not a SINGLE guest had contacted them, to say that they would be coming. So, they had to contact them all, one by one, by phone and to their amazement, discovered that not a SINGLE wedding invitation had arrived. No one ever received any of the invitations. Yet, thirty had been posted to Thailand.

This tale sounded very familiar to me. You see, we, too, have had trouble with the postal service. Many items of mail, which we know have been posted, have never arrived. My mother posted a birthday gift for Tiarnan. We never got it. We posted a gift to my father in law, in Singapore. It never arrived. A very important letter concerning the acceptance of Fintan, into a school in KL, just didn't get to us - leaving us in the dark, for some time, about his schooling. In short, the mail service in Malaysia is extremely unreliable. A very high percentage of items that we have either posted, or had posted to us, have not arrived.

One of the people at our gathering last night, had their own theory about what is happening. They think the postal service workers are opening mail that looks interesting - and simply taking what they like. Now, this is quite possible, since it is very noticeable that GIFTS we send from Malaysia, tend not to arrive (no gift we have ever sent has ever arrived). Also gifts sent to us from other countries, tend not to arrive either. This is suggestive that sometimes, postal workers are stealing from the mail. If so, this is truly an appalling situation, since it means that one of the basic services that allows a nation to operate, is failing, due to a lack of honesty among the staff.

Whatever the cause of the postal failures, it cannot be denied that the postal service does not work, in Malaysia. It is a real gamble whether or not any particular item of mail will arrive: sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Even non-valuable items like letters or birthday cards, can fail to arrive. So, it is not just a case of valuable items being stolen by dishonest staff - there must be incompetence or laziness too, and so things are being lost or just not delivered.

Malaysia is a nation of much potential. It has great natural resources. It has a diversity of people of a diversity of skills. In some sectors, particularly the private sector, its education is strong. So, there is much reason for hope, for this developing nation. Yet, some basic functions of society are not being performed to a high standard. Running a postal service, should not be beyond Malaysia...yet, presently, it is. Greater attention should be given to ironing out the systems in place to ensure the efficient, reliable movement of letters and packages in the postal service. If this is not done, Malaysia cannot expect to grow as it should, nor to encourage foreign companies to set up here. International companies expect, as a basic, that such things as postal services (and transporation systems!) are functioning. If they discover, before they arrive, that they are not working well, they are likely to choose another nation, in South East Asia, where such systems do work well. Thus, Malaysia, will lose out on job creation, because it will not have shown that it deserves the investment in question.

I would like to see a Malaysia with efficient public services. They are basic to the functioning of any society. Let us start by having a postal service that delivers the mail, every time, without fail, whether it be a letter, a birthday card or a gift. The postal service should be safe enough to post valuables and reliable enough to entrust with such things a wedding invitations. Presently it is not, in any way, reliable enough. I hope that this changes for the better, soon.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 6 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to:

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:
Ainan's IMDB listing is at
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This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:52 PM 


Blogger Christine said...

It looks like the ol' Pony Express worked better. It's a shame that they steal people's mail sometimes and are lazy about delivering things as well. If they can't be trusted with mail, it does make them look bad and rightfully so.

5:09 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It is only when the postal service fails as Malaysia's has, does one realize how much difference a good mail service makes to quality of life.

Yes. It does make them look bad.

How is the mail in Korea?

Kind regards

8:05 AM  
Anonymous William said...

This is off topic and I would have sent this to your email address, however I was not aware of it. Anyways, on a previous blog post I made some comments about Adi Putra a math prodigy and "buisiness man". Here is an article about his supplements about his pills containing steroids!

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me n my frenz never encounter your bad experience just yet. And we had been living here all our life. We do online trading using mail service. All is safe n sound. Not all post worker are like that. I know u are talking generally but then..ouch. Go and report your undelivered postal things to the postal service company. Maybe..just maybe the Thai service guy are d one doing all that? Who knows yeah..maybe.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It seems unlikely that your experience of the postal service is as good as you say...UNLESS the postal workers in question are specifically targetting foreigners. This is because it is the COMMON EXPERIENCE of our expat friends, that they have had great trouble with the postal service. Maybe you are protected by your local name.

My mother posted a gift from England, to never arrived. Same for a gift we posted to Singapore. Our friend posted thirty items to Thailand...none ever arrived. A local school posted a letter to us, from never arrived. This is a lot of instances for someone to experience who has only been here for four months (these are the ones that come immediately to mind). By contrast, in all the ten years we were living in Singapore, only one item of mail went missing - and that might have deliberately gone missing (taken by the "system") given its contents. In the UK mail is almost certain to arrive on time and without any problems...we never really experienced any difficulties in thirty years there.

So, I would say, without doubt, by comparison to the other places I have experienced, Malaysia's mail service is not performing well. It is very unlikely that our experience, and that of our expat friends is unique - unless expats are being deliberately targetted. That seems I cannot help but wonder why you think so highly of the system which has already failed us many times.

Thanks for your comment, however. It is just another part of the puzzle.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

By the way, the only place in common with the three journeys: UK to KL, KL to Singapore and KL to Thailand is KL itself. This indicates that KL is the problem, not the other three countries. It would be extremely unlikely that all three countries are at fault but Malaysia is not. Then again, the fourth item I spoke of was a mailing from KL to KL: which country would you blame that one one?

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Mr Cawley

It looks like you would have to rely on courier service, for the delivery of physical items that really matter.

BTW, how was your experience with baggage handling at Malaysia's airports? I had in the past read of complaints by some Malaysian travellers themselves about having had their luggage tampered with (in some cases, locks broken) by baggage handlers at KLIA.

It may be that the postal staff, airport ground staff, policemen, etc are underpaid, but it should be obvious to Malaysians that where corruption and thieving are commonplace, the whole country is held back from realizing its true potential.

And the irony of it all: you have the Muslim-majority in Malaysia pushing for Islamic law (under which the hands of thieves shalt be chopped off) to be made the law of the land.

My guess is that UMNO (the main component of the ruling party) will never agree to have Islamic law, because there is so much corruption and "money politics" in its ranks.


1:46 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

The mail in Korea isn't usually too bad. Yet some people do complain that care packages from overseas do get things missing from them.
I did work for a company that often held people's packages instead of letting the teachers know about them right away. The teachers were dispersed all over Korea, and many packages were sent to the main office. I do think they should have sent the teachers an e-mail so they can make some arrangements for their packages if they didn't want to pay for so much postage. I know they held a package of mine for many weeks and I was wondering what happened to it, and I went there in person and someone pulled it out and it was dusty. I wasn't very happy about that.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're quite lucky that you did not experience any postage delays in the UK.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. links on postal strike.

I was lucky really, that I didn't experience delays...I left the UK in 1999: eight years before this strike you have linked to.

Thanks for the links though.

By the way, my post concerns mail that never arrives, not mail that arrives late, but intact (as it would after a postal strike in the UK).

Having read the links and hearing of the pay of the striking workers, I rather agree that they should be paid much more than they are: the job is a physically demanding one, and should have a salary to reflect it.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. Adi Putra: what a strange story. Firstly, he becomes known as a maths prodigy, then he sets up a supplement business - purportedly "herbal" we find out that they are actually steroid pills. It seems that this young boy's life is quickly heading downhill. I would like to hear the sequel to your link: where charges pressed? Have they gone out of business? What will the repercussions be? If you know, let me know, below.


9:47 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, Clunies-Ross, for your views on Malaysia.

Re. underpaid. I think it likely that this plays a big role in the petty crime that is rampant in Malaysia: people just don't have enough for themselves and their families, and put those demands above honesty and integrity - so they cheat and steal. A taxi driver, here, is typically, a thief, on a daily basis, from my experience - they steal in various ways, with various ploys, but what they are doing is stealing all the same. It is very annoying.

Re. politics and Islamic Law.

I cannot comment on such subjects, for I don't know enough, except that I know enough to know that comment is not welcome, in such forgive me if I am not forthcoming. Your views have been aired, however.

I hope life is treating you well, in Singapore. It is good to see that you are still reading my blog, when I have the urge and opportunity to write it.

By the way, I am taking action on the advice you gave sometime ago (unprinted comment).

Thank you.

Kind regards

9:52 PM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

Thank you Christine for your experiences of Korea. It is telling that items go missing from packages. Perhaps the same thing is happening in Korea as is happening in Malaysia: some postal staff screening packages for things they might want for themselves...and then just taking them. It is not a happy story.

I understand you might not be staying too much longer in Korea. However I hope you can see that you have learnt something more of the world, than if you had stayed at home (in the States, I assume). Many people never travel and live their lives understanding little about the wider world. That is not you.

Best wishes in Korea.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous William said...

I don't know. I just stumbled upon this article somehow. I have one other thing to tell you. Someone is impersonating your son (Ainan) on facebook. I tried reporting this person, but for some reason my computer is not letting me. Just wanted to inform you of that.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, William for informing me. Ainan does not have a facebook account. In fact, he is not present on the internet in any way, now (he had a small blog when he was 5 years old, but dropped it pretty quickly).

It is pretty strange that your computer won't let you report it. I will see if I can.


2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Cawley,

This is the link to the fake facebook profile.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

malaysia is a stupid country, PERIOD! everything has to do with religion, one cannot live a day without religion being mentioned and used as an excuse. err, ok may be my comment is a bit off-topic.
but yeah, i do agree that the postal service here sucks cuz it takes longer than what it promised to deliver. and yeah, often expats are the victims.

3:16 PM  

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