Saturday, May 8, 2010

MARDI: Celebrating its 40th Anniversary - 16/3/2010

I attended the 40th Anniversary of MARDI held at its Exhibition Hall, officiated by YB Dato' Seri Noh Hj Omar, the Hon. Minister of Agriculture. I was associated for 17 years with the Institute having joined it during its formative years. It was YAB Tun A. Razak Hussein, the then Prime Minister who decided to strengthen agricultural research in the country by having an agency of its own. Thus in 1970 MARDI came into being. During its formative years, I was involved in the recruitment of staff, establishment of research stations and laboratories and purchases of lab equipments, establishment of genetic museums.
In his address, Dato' Dr. Shukor Abd Rahman listed out the staff strength of the Institute with 550 research officers and a total staff strength of more than 3000 working at 32 research stations. He highlighted the achivements and recognition that MARDI has obtained since its establishment. In his remarks, the Hon. Minister congratulated the Institute for the many research achievments particulary in food and processing technology.
I have the opportunity of visiting the exhibition organised in conjunction with the 40th Anniversary celebration, highlighting the research activities of MARDI from upstream to downstream processing and biotechnology. Indeed MARDI has made valuable contribution in the advancement of agriculture in the country. Happy Birthday MARDI.

1Malaysia Tea Party with the Prime Minister - 13/3/2010

I was one of the 300 Facebook friends who was invited and attended the Hi-Tea Party hosted by YAB Dato' Seri Mohd Najib Tun A. Razak (DSN), the Prime Minister at Seri Perdana Putrajaya. In his welcoming remarks, the Prime Minister indicated that the Event was organised for him to get to know his Fb friends and to indirectly interact with the rakyat, as more and more Malaysians are actively participating in the internet. Internet breaks down the raciaal, religious and age walls and through the internet connections the spirit of 1Malaysia could be promoted and internalised particularly among the younger generation as Malaysians below 40 are the most active in the Online world.
My presence on that day gave me more insights of the PM as a person and CEO of the country. He was relax and mixed freely with the crowd, obliging with practically every request to autograph his book 'Inheriting & Legacy - Fast Tracking Change'.
Responding to the questions posed by the participants during the dialogue session, it emerged that YAB DSN finds time to read, and as he put it 'each one of us has to allocate some time daily for intellectual input i.e time to to think, time to reflect, time to read'. Among others he has read books on lateral thinking by Edward de Bono and books by Friedman. Incidentally, I share the same interest in books by the same authors.
On the political front, he went to elaborate on the 1Malaysia concept, which emphasises NATIONAL UNITY which ensures political stability and the priority to serve the rakyat (RAKYAT DI DAHULUKAN) and that the Govt must be responsive and result-oriented (PENCAPAIAN DIUTAMAKAN). He is committed to see economic growth target of six percent for 2010 by enhancing the government administrative machinery, encouraging foreign investment and finally through competitiveness and productivity. The government has also taken steps to improve security and reduce crime rate and among the measures to be taken is the identification of the 50 crime hotspots. Among the fight against corruption government procureement are handled by open bidding.
Having heard from the PM on the commitments to restore some of the critical ills of the country - corruption, security, economy, politic- to be implemented by someone who follows what is happening in the world through reading; a healthy person as YAB DSN gives importance to regular exercises; disiplined with the heart to see the rakyat being served; I came out of the gathering feeling that the country is indeed in good hands. I feel that YAB DSN has the capacity and capability to harness the people to transform Malaysia into a UNITED, STRONG & DYNAMIC country.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friendship Journey to Chiang Mai, Thailand - 22/1 to 25/1/2010

This is my third trip to Chiang Mai - the first being an official scientific trip to study agricultural development in Thailand in the 1980s; the second is a holiday trip with my wife three years ago. This trip is another holiday trip and I was accompanied by Rahim Rahman, Mohd Nor Abdul and Zakaria.
It was an early flight on Friday January 22 by Air Asia (Flight AK 692)departing at 06.55 hrs. It was a three hour flight. We checked in at the Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel - an old hotel near the night market and the centre of activities in the City. In the afternoon on the first day we visited the Botanical Garden - an impressive collection of plants from many countries. The night safari was adjacent to it. We then visited the wet market. I bought pegaga and guava which I took home. We visited the night market which sells the whole range of products from clothings, furniture, electrical goods, and foodstuffs. I capped the day with a two hour traditional Thai massage.
The following day (Jan 23) we hired a taxi and by 8 am we proceeded to the Golden Triangle. The Golden Triangle is a must visit destination if one is in Chiang Mai. We stopped at Hotspot which is a hot spring area. We dipped our legs in the hot water flowing drains. There were souvnir shops selling gemstones, handicrafts, clothings. Proceeded to Chiang Rai and right to Mae Sai which is the border town between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. we were back at the Hotel at 8 pm. It was a 12 hour trip. The taxi rental was Bhat 4000 (RM 400). I had another 2 hour Thai traditional massage with hot stones. It was an invigorating experience.
On the third day (Jan 24)we decided to visit the Elephant Farm - about an hour drive from the city. As we were walking towards the elephant show arena we passed by a river where the elephants are having their bath. By the time we were at the arena around 11 am for the elephant show, the arena was full with spectators. It was a fascinating show as the elephants showed their skill in pulling and arranging in stacks logs of wood, tug of war, kicking balls and painting pictures. On our return journey we stopped at the Snake Farm with demonstration of handling cobras and the Tiger Farm. We visited Chiang Mai Hill Resort and capped the day with herbal massage (Bhat 700).
Our return flight to KL was scheduled at 9.55 on Monday Jan 25. We were up at 6.00 am, had breakfast and by 7.00 am headed by taxi to the airport. by 10 am we were airborne. Another memorable Friendship trip to an ASEAN country.