Tuesday, May 12, 2009

2nd Johor World Migratory Bird Day 2009

The Second Johor World Bird Migratory Day (WBMD) was held at Pantai Leka, Parit Jawa, Muar on Saturday May 9, 2009. The inaugural Johor WBMD was held on May 10, 2008. The WBMD is being held annually in 59 countries all over over the world as an awareness campaign to the world community as to the significance of migration among the bird population and the need to protect them.
2. I decided to participate at this WBMD. It was a 2 hour drive from BBBangi to Pantai Leka, taking the South Highway exiting at the Tangkak toll gate proceeding to Muar, Parit Jawa and thence to Pantai Leka. I was at the site around 10 am, meeting Dr. Maketab who is chairman of the Johor Branch of MNS, Sharban, Council meember of MNS who resides in Johor and Vincent, an adviser to MNS Johor Branch and a keen birder.
3. Pantai Leka is a fishing village with rather extensive mudflats during low tide which becomes the home of local birds and some migratory species. The iconic avian species is the adjutant stork. With the binoculars I started focussing my attention to the adjutant storks - four were majestically seen playing on a wooden platform some 5o m away and two perched on the mangrove. According to Dr. Maketab, 50-60 adjutant storks or known as Burung Botak are found in the area out of the estimated global population of 5000. The other species that I managed to see there were the terns (chamar), a small woodpecker and quite a few egrets.
4. The Johor State Government is developing the area as an ecotourisn destination particularly for bird watching and has allocated RM 300 000 to construct a watching tower and boardwalk to facilitate the bird watching activity. The Event of the day included the ground breaking ceremony for the facilities and a small exhibition devoted to birds and wildlife.
5. Pantai Leka is also wellknown for its 'asam pedas' and before returning to BBB, on the advise of Prof. Maketab, purchased the 'Ikan Merah Fish Head Asam Pedas' at Mak Pon Restaurant and sharing the delicacy with the family.
6. The Johor WBMD Event is an effort of MNS to create awareness among the local community on the existence of the iconic and other bird species in the area and the need to conserve them and with the bird watching facilities being constructed, Pantai Leka can be developed as an ecotourisn destination.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Centennial Celebration of the Scouts Association of Malaysia

The Centennial Celebration of the Scouts association of Malaysia (SAM) was held on Saturday April 25, 2009 at Stadium Negara Kuala Lumpur. It was a mammoth gathering of scouts from all over the country. Among the VIPs present were YABhg Tun Abdullah Hj Ahmad Badawi, Presiden Agung SAM; YAB Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia; Y Bhg Dato' Seri Dr. Hj. Shafie bin Hj. Mohd. Salleh, the Chief Scout of Malaysia; YB Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, the Minister for Youth and Sports; Y Bhg. Dato' Ahmad Fuad bin Ismail, the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur; members of the Scouts Councils at the State and the national levels; the State & District Scout Commisioners; various officials of SAM, the scouts representing the respective states and members of the public. The stadium was full. In conjunction with the celebration there was a two-day exhibition of the Scouting Movement in Malaysia.
2. Three speeches were delivered. In his welcoming address, Dato' Seri Hj. Shafie, highlighted the principles and activities of scouting that bond and unify the people of Malaysia. The scouting activities are guided by its strategic plan. YABhg Tun Abdullah in his speech related his involvement in scouting whilst in school and had served as a troop leader. Scouting unites the people and developes individuals to be healthy, responsible, loyal, thrifty. He believes that a scout will do well in life and that 'once a scout, always a scout'. In the opening address, the DPM believed that scouting is the foundation for prosperity as it brings about national integration, self-confidence, versatility and that it supports the concept of One Malaysia. The Job Week experience gives a scout the attributes to be a successful man. He gave the undertaking, as the Minister of Education, to encourage scouting in schools.
3. The Scout Movement was founded in England by Lord Baden-Powell in 1907. It found its way to Malaysia early as the following year, 1908 an experimental scout group at YMCA Penang was established. It then spread to Selangor and under the able leadership of its first Chief Commissioner, Frank Cooper Sands, who assumed office in 1910, scouting spread througout the country. Scouting found its way to many countrie in the world.
4. Scouting has found such a popular following throughout the world because of its promise, laws and the activities that teach one to love and enjoy nature. Its promise and laws provide the fundamental to successful living as a scout promise to do his best to perform his duties to God, King and country; to help people at all times and to follow the laws which advocate that he is to be trusted, loyal, useful and help others,a friend to all, courteous, friendly to animals, smiles under difficulties, thrifty and clean in thought, words and deed. The scout's many activities outdoors are driven by the Founder's belief that 'a boy is likely to find God in the open air than in constant teaching and preaching in stuffy surroundings or in a slum environment' and these include pioneering, camping, cooking, tracking, knowledge of plants and animals, exercise for health and dealing with accidents.
5. Scouting activities bring HAPPINESS. Happiness is the purpose of living. Lord Baden-Powell is a strong proponent of HAPPINESS as he said in his book 'Rovering to Success' that the only true success is happiness and that 'we were put into this world of wonders and beauty with a special ability to appreciate them, in some cases to have the fun of taking a hand in developing them, and also in being able to help other people instead of overreaching them and through it all, to enjoy life - that is, TO BE HAPPY'.
6. I have been associated with scouting since school and have been actively involved in the many outdoor activities to obtain my badges - pioneering, camping, swimming, cooking etc attaining the Bushman's Tong. It was the scouting movement that had provided the strong foundation for my love for the outdoor, for my active health regime, for my passion for nature and its conservation, for my active participation in community work, for my intellectual success; all these cumulatively have contributed to my happy life.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Launching of the MNS Office in Langkawi

The office of Malaysian Nature Society (MNS)Langkawi Branch was officially opened
on Tuesday April 21, 2009. I was given the honour of officiating it in my capacity as the Vice-President of MNS. The office is located at the Frangipani Resort and Spa. The Resort is a corporate member and its owner has been a member of MNS for many years and has been kind to have allocated some space as office for the Langkawi Branch.
2. The launching ceremony, held in the Hall at the Frangipani Resort was attended by officials of LADA, the Langkawi Tourism Action Council, representatives of the hotel industry, teachers and school children, a large group of media representing the newspapers and travel journals, officials of the Frangipani Resort and officials of the MNS.
3. In his welcoming address, Mr. Anthony Wong, the host and Vice-Chairman of the Protem Committee of the MNS Langkawi Branch, highlighted the many green efforts of the Resort- among them installation of sun panels to to trap solar energy for lighting, harvesting of rain, trapping of greasy materials, using organic detergents for cleaning, serving organic food, employing people who are green at heart, associating with green organisations etc. He plans to organise a series of international Conferences related to green and environmental issues. He proposes that Langkawi be developed as the greenest island in the world.
4. In my launching speech, as the event was organised in conjunction with Earth Day, the significance of the Day was highlighted with the need for each of us to prudently use the natural resources that we have. The green effort of the Resort was cited as an example of what can be done. The campaign to Save the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve initiated by the Kedah Branch of MNS is another contribution in conserving and protecting our biodiversity. The establishment of the MNS is a personal dream come true as its formation was part of a proposal arising from the 2003 Scientific & Heritage Foundation organised by MNS. I reminded the members that a follow-up action to the proposals that were adopted at the Workshop after the Expedition, which among others include to organise training programmes for all stakeholders on green issues, the formulation of the eco-tourism master plan and the associated conservation plan for the Island, the establishment of the Education and Recreation Centre in the Gunung Machinchang Forest Reserve, the conservation of the Kuala Sg Melaka as the bird sanctuary, to upgrade the information on the natural heritage of Langkawi and to establish wildlife corridors between forest reserves. I reiterated that MNS is a society that wish to see a balanced development between physical development and conservation of green areas and its presence is to promote sustainable development.
5. Among the events organised in conjunction with the launching and Earth Day celebration were birdwatching (hornbills) in the Gunung Raya Forest Reserve and a tour of the touristic destinations on the Island.
6. I have organised this trip to comply with the request of a close friend, Dato' Kamaruddin Kachar, who was entertaining his friend, Prof. Don Smart and his wife, who were visiting Malaysia. The trip originated in Kajang on the afternoon of Saturday April 18, visited the Kuala Selangor Nature Park and Bukit Melawati and ended up the night at the Resthouse Teluk Intan. The following day we cruised up north visiting the Turtle Conservation Centre at Bota Kanan and then the Zoo and Museum in Taiping, spending the second night at the Holiday Inn Batu Feringhi Penang. On Monday April 20, we visited the Butterfly Farm in Penang and crossing the Penang Bridge, we headed for Alor Star where we visited the Rice Museum at Gunung Kriang and then to the Kuala Perlis Jetty, departing for Langkawi by the 6.00 pm ferry.
7. In Langkawi, we went on the mangrove cruise in Kilim, visiting the fish farm and watching the Brahminy Eagle in the mangrove area.
8. The trip with our friends provided us time to interact, enjoyed their companionship, cherished the sceneries and places of interest, enjoyed the food dishes that we consumed. Above all it is another journey and experience that contribute to the joys and happiness in life.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Photos - Launching of the book' In Search of Happiness'

Welcome Address to the more than 150 business associates, school mates, family members and friends
The books launched were 'In Search of Happiness' and the Bahasa Malaysia translated version 'Mencari Kebahagiaan
Presenting Mencari Kebahagiaan to YABhg Tun Dr Mahathir, who officially launched the books.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Launching of the Environmental Interpretive Centre (EIC) at Sepang

The EIC at Sepang was launched on Thursday April 9, 2009 by YB Dr Xaviar Jayakumar, Exco for Health, Plantation Workers & Compassionate Government of Selangor. It is a joint project of Sepang Gold Coast Sdn Bhd and the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS). The site and building of the Cetre was an old police station which the Company has acquired and used it as a nursey of ornamental plants. It is located in the fringes of the mangrove areas of the Sepang Besar River in Sepang. The EIC here will function to undertake studies on the local ecosystems and the communities living around it, to conduct training in sustainable development related subjects and to monitor environment related activities . The target groups will include the government employees, schoolchildren, the business community, the villagers.

2. The EIC at Sepang is the seventh in MNS's network of environmental education centres established all over the country - Kuala Selangor Nature Park, FRIM-Shell-MNS NEC at Kepong, Boh-MNS Centre in Cameron Highland, Batu Caves, Rimba Ilmu UM-MNS Centre and ecoCare Centre in Kertih.

3. The launching ceremony was attended by around 70 participants who represent government departments, leaders of the community, the local business community, the Mah Meri group, employees of Gold Coast Sdn Bhd and MNS officials. The curtain raiser of the ceremony was the cultural dance of the Mah Meri community.

4. As the main organiser of the Event, Mr Ho Hock Seng, the President of Sepang Coast Sdn Bhd detailed the objectives and the planned activities of the Centre. I was the second speaker as the representaive of MNS. I touched on the need for a balanced development of the area - whilst having physical buildings it has to be balanced with retaining the vegetation. The mangrove plays an important role in the fishing industry and in protecting our shores. Development must also not ignore the role of the local community and the success of the Centre requires the support and participation of the local people. YB Dr Xaviar congratulated the efforts of the two participating organisations and look at the Centre as part of the ecotourism network in the State. He indicated that the Selangor State Government is aggresively promoting ecotourism and recognise the importance of the remaining forest areas in the State to be protected. He assured the audience that steps are being taken to conserve and protect the remaining 31 percent of the forested areas in the State. He emphasised the importance of retaining green areas to overcome the serious threat of global warming brought about by excessive emission of glasshouse gases as a result of too many people on the plane and the indiscriminate felling of the forest.

5. The ceremony was followed by tree planting and cutting of the ribbon and the tour of the Centre. An exhibition was made up of displays of items related to the ecosystem of mangrove, the traditional fish traps, handicrafts and games of the Mah Meri community. The Ceremony ended up with a lunch at the Sepang Coast Resort.

6. The opening of this Centre adds another in the network of environmental education to pursue further the awareness among the population. However, the critical issue before us is the fast warming of the globe. It is urgent that we play our role in stopping this threat otherwise NATURE has its own way of dealing with it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Launching of Books 'In Search of Happiness' & 'Mencari Kebahagiaan'

The launching ceremony for the books was held on Wednesday April 8, 2009 at the Perdana Leadership Foundation (PLF), Prescint 8, Putrajaya by YABhg. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia and Hon. President of PLF starting at 3.15 pm. YABhg Tun dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali also joined the Event.

2. A meeting of the Organising Committee and a rehearsal for the Event was held a day earlier. At this meeting members of the Committee felt that, due to the change of political leadership where YAB Dato' Seri Najib Tun A. Razak was taking over from YAB Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the role Tun Dr Mahathir was playing, it was anticipated that the Event would have a good turnout particularly from the media. It was decided among other things, to increase the food.

3. Guests started trickling in at 2.15 pm. Each guest signed the guest book, presented a door gift bag containing a paper weight and a 'Parker' pen and was ushered in to his seat in the main hall. Some of the guests mingled in the corridor where books could be purchased as the publishers of the book, Utusan Publications & Distributors Sdn Bhd, displayed their publications at the entrance of the building. I had also a table where I displayed all the publications I have edited and written. The media representatives registered separately. Yes as anticipated there was an overwhelming response from the media and the invited guests. The hall was full. It was estimated that the total no. of people attending the Event was 130 (guests, representatives of the media, members of the organising committee and those assisting in the organisation).

4. Tun Dr. Mahathir came out of his office at 3.15 sharp accompanied by Tun Dr Siti Hasmah. Dr Ahmad Hairi Abu Bakar, CEO of Utusan Publications and I escorted them to their seats in the Hall.

5. The MC for the Event was Dr. Rohani, the Director of the UPM Alumni Centre. I was invited to give a welcoming address. In my speech I expressed how touched I was to see the many friends who have responded to the invitations. I recognised by mentioning them - Alumni of SAHOCA, Alumni of UPM, working associates in the Dept of Agriculture, MARDI and the Malaysian Cocoa Board, colleagues in Malaysian Nature Society, associates in the business and corporate world and members of the family. The inspiration to write the autobiography was largely motivated by the realisation in sharing one's unique experience with present and future generations and that some of the information in the book would be useful and the writing kept one continuously reading and a test of discipline. I then went on to relate my early days as an island boy in Langkawi, the secondary education at Sultan Abdul Hamid College Alor Star before pursuing tertiary education at the College of Agriculture Serdang and the American Universities. The working experiences covered many years in the early formative years in MARDI and then served as the first Director-General of the Malaysian Cocoa Board (MCB). On retirement joined the corporate world. In the searh for happiness I related my involvement in community work: social include the Rotay Clubs, Parent-Teachers Association, Social Clubs; environment which include the Malaysian Nature Society, Business Council for Sustainable Development, The Environment Action Committee Sabah; sport and recreation which include Kota Kinabalu Recreation Club, Outward Bound School. The key to happiness is good health which can be achieved through proper diets and regular exercises. I shared my healthy regime of exercises which revolve arounf jogging, swimming and cycling.

6. I shared with the audience the writing process that I went thrrough. I started around June 2005 with a skeletal chapters of the book. For each chapter the information was collected by going back to the reports, papers, books, magazines and the internet. Using Buzan mind mapping technique where the points for each chapter were outlined, waking up at three in the morning, I wrote long hand. I completed writing in September 2007 taking slightly more than two years to finish. I targetted to launch the book on my 70th birthday on February 23, 2008. The first publisher sat on it and the publication could not meet the deadline. Utusan Publications is the second publisher, who after scrutinising the book, felt that it could be better marketted in the BM. It was translated, edited and the BM version was finally out in the market around September 2008. The original English version was out a few days before the launching.

7. The Happiness theme of the book was inspired by a few authors - Lord Baden-Powell, Lin Yutang, Edward de Bono, HH Dalai Lama who identified HAPPINESS as the very purpose of living and that it can be attained by being healthy; actively involved in social,voluntary works that one enjoys in doing; participate in activities that one feels exciting; get rid of the negative aspects of living such as greed, arrogance, wasteful etc; having friends and close and lasting relationships with members of the family; generous.

8. Tun Dr Mahathir congratulated the author for the successful publication of both the BM and English versions of the book. He encouraged those present to emulate the author in sharing one's unique experiences in a publication. The records perpetuated in a book will have significance in history. Tun Dr. Mahathir also mentioned that his own memoir is in the process of being published and indicated that it is scheduled to be in the market by the end of the year. He confessed that he has gone over the drafts many times
and that has delayed its completion.

9. The organisation of the Event received positive comments. One sms had this to say 'it was a well-organised, well-attended and well-supported launching event. It is heartening that at your age you still can muster that kind of attendance. Well done'. Another sms message 'Have to be here at your memorable moment of achievement. I thought you and Tun did good, light and appropriate speeches. Tahniah my friend'. 'At your age you are still contributing to the nation and the international world. Syukur you are blessed with good health and strong brain power' said another sms. At the post mortem meeting of the Organising Committee, the members expressed their satisfaction as the response was very good, the various components of the event went on smoothly and according to schedule. To me it was another satisfying and memorable event in my happy journey in life.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Health & Happiness Festival 09

The Festival was held for two days on March 21 and 22 at the Grand Millennium Hotel KL. I came to know about the Festival from a write-up in the Star. As usual an event that covers such topics as HEALTH and HAPPINESS will attract my participation. I decided to attend it on the first day of the Event.

2. The main organiser of the Event was Health Sense Sdn Bhd. Its CEO, Myriam Oliveres in the Foreward in the programme book spelled out that the objective of the Festival is to serve as a platform for health practitioners to connect to each other and to promote health, happiness and green living. It was under the patronage of HRH the Sultanah of Pahang, Sultanah Hajjah Kalsom.

3. The Festival was made up of two components - the Exhibition and the Workshops/Seminars. The Exhibition was located on the second floor of the hotel. The first stall I patronise was the Spa Village. I was offered a complimentary neck massage by the masseuse in attendance. It was an invigorating one. Next I was at a stall selling peria tea. Herbal tea preparations have always attracted me for I have been consuming them for quite some time - pegaga tea, misai kuching tea, hempedu bumi tea and now peria. Bought a box containing 30 satchels which I would like to try.

4. The next stall I visited was the Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM). I was given a plastic bag containing leaflets on TCM. Later on inspection of the content of the bag, I discovered an important document 'National Policy of Traditional and Complementary Medicine' published by the Ministry of Health (MOH). MOH recognises the contribution of TCM in the health care of the people. TCM is used by a high percentage of the people. MOH accepts it as an important component of health in the country. The booklet provides the vision, mission and objectives of TCM and elaborated on the strategies on the following areas: Practice, Education and Training, Raw Materials and Products and finally Research. I am heartened to know that TCM is an integral part of our health programme. Many of the stalls exhibited and promoted various areas of TCM - meditation, acupuncture, massages, emotional freedom technique (EFT), hypnotheraapy, tanscendental meditation. It is a learning process for me on TCM.

5. As to the Workshops/Seminars, many topics involving international speakers were invited which covered issues such as heart attack, power of simplicity, happiness, love, sustainable living, feng shui, cancer, transcendental meditation, spa, singing for health, laughter, herbal medicine. I attended two of the lectures - one by Tan Sri Dr. Ismail Merican and Dato' Dr. Rajen. Dr. Ismail in his talk entitled ' Wellness - a Shared Responsibility' indicated that the Malaysian population is not a healthy lot as two-third of them are overweight and obese. To promote healthy lifestyle he suggested healthy eating, healthy mind, healthy emotion, exercises and no smoking. According to Dr. Ismail, the keys to HAPPINESS include physical, emotional, intelligent, social, spiritual wellbeing. He reiterated that MOH adopts TCM - Malay, Chinese and Indian Traditional Medicines, Homeopaty and Complementary Medicines and that four TCM Centres have been established - Kepala Batas Penang, Putra Jaya, Pandan Indah and Johor Bharu. Dr. Rajen in his talk on 'Adding Science to Tradition' focussed on Kacip Fatimah as he feels that this herb has a lot of potential but very little research has been done on it.

6. I must congratulate Ms Myriam Oliveres for having selected this theme which is relevant and current. However, organising it in a hotel with limited parking areas can pose problem to the participants. The topics are too wide in scope with too many speakers involved. Logistics and coordination could be difficult. From the small no. of attendees at the two talks I attended it appeared that the Festival might not get the response it deserved.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Raptor Watch 2009

The Raptor Watch for 2009 was held for two days (Sat. March 14 and Sun. March 15). This annual event organised by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS)held at Tanjung Tuan (Cape Rachado) Melaka was to provide the opportunity for bird lovers and the interested members of the public to participate in one of the nature's unique phenomenon of raptor birds migrating back to the north (returning to their original nesting places in Siberia, Mongolia, China and Japan) after wintering in Sumatra.

2. I decided to rush back from Pulau Banding Resort in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex after attending a meeting of the BOT of the Pulau Banding Foundation held on March 14)to participate in this yearly event of the Society. It was on Sunday morning (March 15)that I drove up to Tg. Tuan taking around one hour to get there from Bandar Baru Bangi where I live. From the number of cars that were parked around the hotel area where the birdwatching activity was centred, the event once again was getting the good response from the public.

3. The largest no. of participants were the secondary school students who are members of School Nature Clubs from schools as far as Perlis and Kedah. The students were taken on nature walks in the Tg. Tuan Forest Reserve with guides who briefed them on the plant and animal species that are found in the forest and the history of the oldest lighthouse in the country, which is a landmark of the Forest Reserve. The students participated at the various events organised for them such as the Run and the quizzes pertaining to the natural heritage and the phenomenon of the raptor bird migration.

4. On arrival I decided to walk up the hill to the lighthouse. Although I have participated with almost all the Raptor Watch Event since its inception six (?)years ago, I did not have the opportunity of trekking up to the lighthouse. The forest on both sides of the road leading to the lighthouse can be considered as virgin. There are still very tall trees. At the lighthouse a few young people were strategically located with their binoculars trained in the direction of the Straits of Malacca and the Island of Sumatra beyond where the raptors were coming from. They were volunteers who had given the time to participate in counting the no. of raptors crossing over, as part of the study to gather more information on this natural phenomenon. I was told that so far, the no. that have been recorded for the previous day and in the morning were few.

5. The lighthouse is the oldest in the country, constructed by the Portuguese in 1520. The waters around it is said to be the graveyard for ships. It is also believed that a grave of the founder of the Malacca Sultanate, Parameswara, is located here and also that of the rock imprint of Hang Tuah's right foot.

6. Why are the raptors flying to Tg. Tuan?. Tg. Tuan or Cape Rachado is actually the narrowest land point between mainland Asia and Sumatra (20.5 nautical miles).

7. I joined the centre stage on the ground, where around it, were stalls - the main stall were by the MNS Birding Group who are the key players in the organisation of the Event. The Kedah Branch stall was busy with the signing campaign for the conservation and protection of the remaining Forest areas in the Ulu Muda and other forests in the State- a worthy cause. A stall was marketing herbal plants and others, promoting products related to bird watching such as binoculars.

8. I was invited to give away prizes for the various competitions. The prizes for the Run was contributed by IJM and for the quizzes Body Shop. As prizes were being given to the winners there were excitement as group of raptors were spotted coming with many binoculars 0f the participants aimed at them. The main species seen that day was the Crested Honey Buzzard. Other species that have been observed on this migratory trail include Oriental Honey Buzzard, Chinese Goshawk, Grey-Faced Buzzard, Japanese Sparrow Hawk and the Black Baza.

9. The Raptor Watch is attracting the attention of many birders from all over the world. This year we saw the presence of the Australians, British, Finns, Japanese, Singaporean, Philippinos and Thais. The Event is also getting increasing numbers of local Malaysians.

10. The organisation of this Event by MNS is to create awareness of a very unique natural phenomenon, to gather information and an educational programme for the young generations. The neutral topic pertaining nature bond us together and it can also be considered as an activity that unite us and also enhance international understanding. I was happy to be part of it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Belum-Temengor Rain Forests

I always have that ecstatic feeling whenever I am in the natural rain forests. This love for nature has been inculcated early, being born and raised on the idyllic island of Langkawi and subsequently joining the many trips as a scout camping in the forests. In my 10 years in Sabah I trekked in many of its parks and forests - Kinabalu Park, the Crocker Range, Danum Valley, Maliau Basin, Long Pasia. I had this chance again to be in the forest when I was in the surrounding of the Belum-Temengor on March 13 and 14, 2009. It was to attend the meeting of the Pulau Banding Foundation.

2. I departed from Kuala Lumpur on the Friday 13 afternoon heading to the Pulau Banding Resort, driving north to Ipoh and Kuala Kangsar on the North-South Highway and at Kuala Kangsar, taking the Grik route to Pulau Banding, a total driving time of around four hours.

3. The participants at the meeting were accommodated at the Belum Rainforest Resort, which is located on Pulau Banding, an island in the Temengor Lake. The shareholders of the Resort promotes it, appropriately, as the gateway to nature - the rich natural heritage in Belum-Temengor Rain Forests (BTRF).

4. BTRF extends over an area of 300 000 ha reported to be 130 million years old. Driven by its conservation objective, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS)embarked on two scientific expeditions, the first covering a period of 1993 and 1994 and the second in 1998 with the purpose of inventorising its biodiversity-the fauna and flora and the many different ecosystems. It is truly rich in biodiversity. It is reported to contain 44 species of mammals with a sizeable population of elephants, tapirs, sun bears and tigers. Seventy-one species of birds are found here and what is amazing is that it has the world's largest seasonal congregation of hornbills with all the 10 Malaysian species. On the flora side, the species numbers are high for mosses, flowering plants, wild fruits an ginger. It also carries the Rafflesia species. Its water fishes are known for snakehead (haruan and toman)and kelah.

5. With this wealth of biodiversity in BTRF and realising the rapid deforestation in many forested areas in the country, MNS pushed for its gazettement. It was not easy. Belum Forest was subsequently gazetted as the Royal Belum in 2003. MNS's contribution to the conservation of Royal Belum was recognised with the inaugural award of the Merdeka Award in the category of ENVIRONMENT.

6. But Temengor and the Grik Forest Reserves remain outside the gazettement area. This is not too satisfactory to the NGO as these two forests are integral components of the wildlife and plant habitats in the Complex. MNS is campaigning for the inclusion of both forests to be conserved.

7. The concern for the sustainable management of BTRF initially led to the establshment of an advisory panel with representatives from Govt departments such as FRIM, universities, state government, NGO and the private sector, which at its deliberations, formulated a Charter known as Pulau Banding Charter and proposed the establishment of the Pulau Banding Foundation (PBF). The Charter sets the framework and guidelines for the sustainable development of BTRF and PBF is the its catalyst and operational arm.

8. PBF received its intial seed fund from Emkay Founadtion which went to the establishment of the Reasearch Centre and the recruitment of skeletal staff to man and administer it. The meeting of the PBF Board that was held on Saturday March 14 was devoted, among others, to discuss the expedition of an Integrated Management Plan for BTRF.

9. At the meeting members of the Board were introduced to Dayang Norfaezah who has agreed to serve as the celebrity ambassador to PBF. Whilst welcoming her and familiarising her with the objectives of PBF and the conservation efforts of BTRF, the Board feels that her presence will enable the message of conservation and protection of the rainforests to reach the young generations.

10. The post-meeting activity was the visit to Sg. Enam, a 30 minute express boat trip from the Resort. We were at the location at around 3.00 pm and the reception we received was a melodious sound of crickets. It was so soothing and an undescibeable beautiful feeling of one's commune with nature. It is this feeling that pushes me to be in the forest natural surrounding again and again.

11. It is at Sg. Enam that an adventure facility with a few chalets and camping areas are being constructed. The chalets are designed on the orang asli environment friendly use of materials and simple need and constructed on higher side on both sides Sg. Enam. The River area has also been chosen as, its clear and rippling flow of water would be conducive for the breeding and multiplication of 'ikan kelah' which, with land clearing and overfishing, has depleted the numbers of kelah and other fishes, which were in abundance in the waters BT a few years back. The project of rehabilitating kelah in BTFR is being spearheaded by Prof. Mashhor of USM Penang.

12. It is so nice to be back to nature.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tree Planting at Bukit Kiara

The tree planting event at Bukit Kiara was jointly organised by the National Landscape Dept, office of the KL City Mayor and the Institute of Landscape Architects with the cooperation of Friends of Bukit Kiara, TTDI Resident Association and YAWA in the effort to conserve the area as a green lung. The Event was held on Sunday February 15, 2009. It is part of the National Tree-Planting Campaign initiated in 1997 by YAbhg Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad with the aim of inculcating awareness amongst the communities on conserving our trees and forests that is so critical in reducing global warming.

2. The Bukit Kiara is quite rich in its fauna and flora and is a popular recreational destination among the residents around the area. Its undulating topography offers a challenge to both bikers and trekkers. During week-ends and public holidays the place is thronged with joggers and bikers.

3. The Event was officiated by YAB Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the PM accompanied by YABhg Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah, Chairperson of the Malaysian Landscape Advisory Panel. Among the dignataries include a Minister, the Federal Secretary, officials of the City, corporate leaders, representatives of NGOs and residents. In his speech, among other things, he was heartened to see a good turnout on a Sunday morning and encouraged tree planting to be undertaken. He advocated the conservation and protection of more green lungs within urban areas and added that 'it is our responsibilty to sustain and care about our natural heritage, not only as our nation's pride, but most importantly for future generations to come. The effort which has been carried out nationwide to green our country by planting trees aand our national flower - the Bunga Raya, with a ssystematic plan, shows our commitment and initiative towards enriching our natural heritage'.

4. Among the organisations that have staunchly been involved with the National Tree-Planting Campaign are the Malaysian Nature Society. The Society was represented at the Event by its President, Dr. Salleh Mohd Nor and the two VPs, Dr. Hashim A. Wahab and Jeffrey Phang.

5. The National Tree-Panting Campaign encourages private citizens and corporations to participate and contribute in the program by contributing RM 60 a tree that goes for the cost of the seedling, handling and maintenance for three years. Each contributor to the Campaign will receive a commemorative inscription with his name tied on the tree and this will be registered.

6. The tree planting program at Bukit Kiara Forest is symbolic of the serious effort on the part of the Govt to conserve the area as the KL Green Lung (KLGL). The remaining KLGL areas are at Bukit Tunku, Bukit Persekutuan, Bukit Gasing, Bukit Sg. Puteh and the parks and there is considerable pressure to develop these areas. However, the total green lung areas in Kuala Lumpur is inadequate for healthy, comfortable and happy living. It has been reported that the appropriate green area to population ratio for urban living is 2 ha: 1 000 citizens. For KL it is 0.6 ha and, according to plan, the population density will increase further. Regular flash floods and traffic congestion are common. With so much of land in the other states, do we need to continue permitting development and population growth in KL and Klang Valley?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Agenda for a Sustainable Malaysia

I particioated in the Workshop on 'Melayu & Gejala Rasuah' held on March 12, 2009 organised by Kumpulan Melayu Serdang & YAB Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (TDM)at Perdana Leadership Foundation.

2. The Workshop was a follow-up of two earlier dialogues made up of a smaller group of representatives largely composed of ex-students of UPM, with TDM who were concerned of the political, economic and social scenario of the country arising from weak political leadership and the widespread and pervasive corruption. Dialogue 1 was held on October 14, 2008 at 86th Floor of Petronas Twin Towers and Dialogue 2 was on November 3, 2008 at Perdana Leadership Foundation.

3. The Workshop was held with the objective of identifying issues related to the practice of CORRUPTION in the country and formulate strategies and plan of actions that will be forwarded to Malay leaders in the Government for appropriate action.

4. The Workshop was participated by around 50 individuals who represent a wider spectrum of background - corporate leaders & businessmen, lecturers at universities, professionals, politicians and a few wellknown bloggers - Ahiruddin and A. Kadir Yassin.

5. The Workshop was divided into four discussion groups - Group A covered Education, Economy & Socio-culture which was led by Dr. Mohd Nor Ismail; Group B focussed on National Unity & Racial Integration chaired by Dr. Kamaruddin Kachar; Group C discussed Sustainable Development and Agriculture chaired by me; and Group D covered Malay Leadership and Thinking led by Syed Barkat Syed Ali.

6. A summary of the discussion papers are as follows:
6.1 Politic and Corruption - Corruption is defined as to give or receive money
or in kind to solicit favour for self gain. The cash and non-cash
payments are for the purpose of, among them, getting projects, to expedite
approval, to get land or residential units, to seek aquittal from
legal proceedings, to get elected in party positions, to get
promotions, to get awards, to be able to get appointments with
leaders of influence. In a political party, money has been passed
around among Branch and Divisional leaders as they need fund
to finance the maintenance of their offices and related costs
such as refreshments, entertainment.

6.2 National Unity and Integration - National unity and integrity is
critical in a multiracial society in Malaysia. Efforts to bring
this about have to start from primary schools right to the
universities. In a society such as ours, economic,educational
disparity can bring dissatisfaction and to forge unity can be
difficult, furthermore when political parties exist on the basis
of religion. Strategies for national unity and integration at the
racial, school, uniiversity and national levels have identified.
A strategy to enhance the thinking capability of the Malays has also

6.3 Agenda for a Sustainable Malaysia - in this paper of mine, global warming
caused by excessive emission of gases, is identified as the most critical
challenge facing mankind. It is contributed by high population causing depletion of non-renewable resources, pollution of the
ecosystems and accummulaation of wastes. It is important
that Malaysia formulates an Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Corruption has contributed to indiscriminate deforetation, loss of
biodiversity, pollution of the terrestrial and marine ecosystems and a
great threat to Sustainable Development.
Different strategies to meet the various goals of Sustainable Development.

a. Manage Population Growth and Physical Development
Strategies include family planning, population distribution from
high to population areas, promote development of small towns and rural

b. Restore, Conserve and Protect Biodiversity
Among the strategies are establishment of nature and
marine parks, sustainable forest management, tree plan-
ting, conserve heritage tree, establish natural history
museums and botanical gardens in each state and biosafety.

c. Food and Fibre Security
Farming systems, organic farming, soil amelioration
and conservation, integrated pest management and wastes
management are among the strategies listed

d. Sutainable Business & Economic
Strategies include low pollution economy, trade practices, CSR, carbon
emission trading scheme, parks and wildlife sanctuaries
as ecotourism destinations and sustainable harvesting of forest
products for pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries

e. Develop Clean Power and Energy Efficient Technologies
Among the strategies are improve public transport system, look at
alternative energy sources, research into energy efficient technologies

f. Promote Social Equity and Social Spirituality
Strategies include developing location specific curricula, encourage
people to be more active and lead a healthier life

g. Restore and Improve Clean Ecosystems
Ban the development of mangrove and steep hill areas, manage wastes and
strict enforcement of laws on banning the use of chemicals and bombs
in harvessting of marine fishes are among the straategies proposed

6.4 Education and Malay Thinking
Conflicting views on national issues that cover politic, religion, language,
constitution, legal and the Royalty institution have divided the Malays.
Corruption is pervasive - corruption of the mind, corruption of the systems,
corruption of the people and society. The root causes are many - low mental
quality, love for material world, weakness in moral and character, non-
creative mind, egoistic and arrogant, lack of enforcement.

7. Among the resolutions that were adopted are to reduce and eradicate corruption by rejecting corrupt leaders, include a curriculum in schools on corruption, the internalisation of the Islamic teachings that forbid corruption among its ummah.