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.