Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The 9th Annual General Meeting of the Alumni Association of MARDI

1. Introduction.  The 9th AGM of the Alumni Association of MARDI was held on March 24, 2016 at the Tan Sri Yusof Hashim Hall, the Main Auditorium MARDI.  The activities started early with the registration of members attending and distributing the documents for the meeting, setting up the tables for displays of products by the 15 exhibitors made up of members. It provided considerable time for members to interact and visit the exhibition.  The AGM program consisted of three components - the Exhibition, the Forum and the Meeting itself.
The many happy faces of members (see pics below) who participated at the various events of the AGM

2. Official Opening.  In my welcome remarks as President of the Association I expressed my happiness at the opportunity of meeting colleagues who has served MARDI and that continued relationship with people around you - family members, friends, neighbors etc- is one of the ingredients for happy living.  I went on to express my appreciation to Y.B Dato' Fadil bin Osman, Chairman of the Board of Governors of MARDI for having given his undivided support to the Association and that at the last courtesy call on him by the Executive Committee we have briefed him on the objectives and activities of our organisation and that our members with the many years experiences in research and agricultural development can continue to assist in training and mentoring young officers in the mother Institute and participate in the transfer of technology by establishing business enterprises and utilizing the facilities that MARDI has, on a win-win sort of arrangement.  I also provided highlights of the activities undertaken by the five Bureau - Intellectual Activities and Communication with MARDI, Economic Activities, Welfare, Sports and Recreation, Communication with Members. In his officiating address, Dato' Fadil expressed his appreciation that alumni members of MARDI have continued to have the link with the mother organisation and that a few have embarked into agriculture related businesses.  This is testimony that MARDI officials unlike retirees from many other government organisations have the advantage of the professional knowledge to continue to practice their skills.  He went on to indicate that MARDI will continue, through its business arm, to embark on enterprises with the collaboration of Cooperative of MARDI such as establishing of hotels at Agrotourism Stations in Langkawi, Cameron Highland and Serdang.  MARDI is also in the final stages of establishing a Foundation, where a significant part of its activities, is to cater for the welfare of its personnel and this is where, he looked forward to working together with our Association.  In launching the Meeting and the Welfare Fund of the Association, he contributed a sum of RM 3 000 to the Fund.

Launching of the AGM and the Association's Welfare Fund

The Welfare Fund Collection Box was placed at a strategic point for members to make their contribution - Tuan Hj Halim, Hon. Treasurer with his contribution  

3.  The Exhibition. This is the first time that the Exco Committee decided to have an exhibition in conjunction with the AGM.  The response from the members was tremendous with the following 15 exhibitors displaying their various products.
     3.1 Dr. Abdullah Mohd Zain of AMZ Smart Sdn Bhd - products derived from 'kelulut' honey
     3.2 Dr. Mahamud Shahid+Bahari Ismail - health beverages
     3.3 Suci Sihartini Yuso - black chilli sauce
     3.4 Dr. Mohammad Ngah/Hamidah Ghazali - tin fruit industry
     3.5 Dr. Abas Mazni of Apadana Agro Sdn Bhd - various processed products and Laman Zeolite
     3.6 Maznah/Mohd Husin - beverages and cordials
     3.7 Dr. Syed Abd Rahman Rashid of Almashoor - strawberry and its processed products
     3.8 I-Crop Directory - working with the Assciation to publish the Agricultural Directory
     3.9 Dr. Ezanee - foot reflexology and body therapy
    3.10 Yazid Ali - chocolates
    3.11 Dr. Zainal Ismail - plant growth promoter
    3.12 Dr. Mohamad Mustaff of Triple I - Ecofarm - barbecued mutton and integrated eco-farm
    3.13 Dato Dr Masri Muhammad - publishing
    3.14 Dato' Dr Shukor of MScape - self-watering containers
    3.15 Tajarudin Jasi of Taja Therapy - health and body therapy

Dr. Zainal Ismail with his plant growth regulator product

Dato' Dr. Syed Rahman and Datin with their strawberry products

Dr. Ezanee explaining his reflexology and body therapy for health

Y. Bhg Dato' Fadil Osman, Chairman of the Governing Board o MARDI visiting the Exhibition

4. Forum. The forum entitled 'Business in Agriculture' is an effort by the Association to get members who have been involved in agricultural enterprises to share their experiences and the trials and tribulations of engaging in business after retirement. In my opening remarks as Moderator to the discussion, I emphasized that activities in the business area is not new to the Malays and that the Malays were engaged in commerce since the early history of the Malay Archipelago with centres of commerce then in Aceh, Melaka and Makasar.  Sir Stamford Raffles, in 1822 in the Forward of the translated version of Malay Annals, mentioned that the Malays were addicted to commerce. The four panelists invited to participate were:

    4.1 Dato' Dr. Syed A. Rahman A. Rashid.  Dr Syed Rahman who was a researcher in horticulture at           Cameron Highland, used his expertise after retirement to start his business in strawberry                       cultivation. His company. Almashoor, was registered in 2005 and not only market fresh fruits             but process them into jam, pickled products and sweetmeats. His high technology cultivation of           the fruit becomes an attraction to tourists which he uses as a source of income. He receives                 142,000 visitors to his farm in 2014.  He embarked in strawberry for a number of                                 considerations - the ready market and having the knowledge on the crop.  According to Dato'               Syed the key issues in this business are workers and cash flow. His ingredients to success are:               willingness to embark into it and that AGE HAS NO BARRIER, there are markets to the                     products, diversify products, from time to time undertake the SWOT (Strengths,                                  Weaknesses, Opportunities,Threats) analysis. He added that in what ever we do, we must give
           back to society. In his case, he devotes quite a bit of his resources to nurture young people                    in business through his training modules.

      4.2 Dr. Abas Mazni Othman. The dream to be an entrepreneur came early to Dr. Abas. He                        initially was involved in business when he assisted his wife in her company, Zanubah Batik,
           dealing with batik apparels and subsequently was involved in a Government-linked Company
           on livestock, Espek Livestock and ABI Animal Biotechnology where he faced considerable                problems associated with misappropriation of money and the organisational politics. He later
           went into the production of zeolite and mushroom.  Recently, he has a big break and is in the              process of utilising part of MARD's land in an agriculture transformation project into a Laman
           Zeolite. He reminded the audience that the business world is prevalent with cheating and                      money manipulation but advise that one must always be patient and the will power to succeed
           and not to give up easily.

      4.3 Dr. Mohamed Mustapha. Dr. Mohamed extended his expertise in animal husbandry to start a               mixed farming system, raising such livestock as Gopher goats. turkey, kampung chicken and               even camels and at the same time, grow sugarcane and lemongrass on his 10 acre farm. He                 also provides services in grilled food particularly barbecue lamb.  He even, jokingly, said that             he gets income by charging visitors to his farm RM 5 for photos with his camels.  Recently, he             has an opportunity to establsih an integrated eco-farm on MARDI's land. Dr. Mohamed                       emphasized that to succeed in business, one has to diversify products.

       4.4 Dr. Abdullah Mohd Zain.  Dr. Abdullah picked up the study on 'kelulut' honey when he was
             teaching at the University of Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) as an alternative employment to
             fisherman and at the same time the availability of abandoned land that can be utilized for
             kelulut rearing.  On retirement he decided to go into the 'kelulut' rearing business as he said,
             the capital needed is small, can initiate on a modest scale and the market for the products are                big. His company, AMZ Smart Sdn Bhd, also diversified the kelulut products and exploring                the possibility of exporting and at the same time produces multifuctional food such as 'budu'
             for non-Kelantanis, stevia and cordial beverages.

  5. The Annual General Meeting.  This is a non-election AGM and therefore it was devoted mainly       to the presentation of the Annual Progress Report and the Annual Financial Report.  The activities       of the Association were organised under the five Bureau as mentioned in my welcome remarks           above.  The Financial report indicated that the Association a carry-over balance of more than RM       40 000.
The Forum panelists fr right Dr. Abdullah Zain, Dr. Abas Mazni, dato' Ariff (organiser), 
Dr Mohamed Mustapha and Dato' Syed A. Rahman 

The Exco at the AGM (from right Dr Ezanee, Puan Hjh Rohani, Dr. Mat Daham Daud, 
Tuan Hj Halim, the President, En. Dagang, Dato Ariff, Dato SyedA. Rahman, Dato Dr Masri and Tuan Hj. A.Rahman

  6. Concluding Remarks.  All the three components associated with the AGM was well participated and organised.  The 15 exhibitors provide on the nature of the diversified agricultural products that are produced by companies of the members.  The panelists prepared their materials well that provide insights on the challenges and intricacies of the small scale businesses.  I have suggested that the materials presented at the Forum be edited and published and disseminated to the widest audience possible.  The AGM was attended by a record number of members with 90 registered. 

  7. Acknowledgement. Greatly appreciated the photos taken by Hjh Husna Saad, a member of the Executive Committee, which have been posted in the Association website 'Persatuan Alumni MARDI Malaysia (MASMARDI) and consequently uploaded on this blog website.  

Posted on March 30, 2016.    

Sunday, March 27, 2016

'We found the the God Particle, Can we find God?' - In Search of Truth (I-SET) Lecture Series

1. Introduction.  This is the second of the I-SET Series Lecture, a scholarly scientific forum based on research and new discoveries, organised by UIM and it was held on March 15, 2016 with the attendance of an estimated 150 participants. The Lecture was delivered by Prof. Dr Wan Ahmad Tajuddin bin Wan Abdullah of the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Malaya.
2. Content of the Lecture.  Prof. Wan started the lecture by citing the great excitement among the scientific community in 2012 when the announcement was made at the Centre for Nuclear Research in Switzerland of the finding 'particle in the Invisible World that create the forces field that causes matter to have mass and make things happen' (Higg's Particle), considered by a few scientists as 'God Particle'.  According to the speaker, physicists in this area of cosmological study went through a long journey to understand the structure of the Universe, its building blocks and governing rules. It started with the early work of Sir Francis Bacon who regarded the universe was constituted of matter, space and time and an atom was then considered as the smallest indivisible particle. This was followed by Newton's Laws of Motion on the conservation of energy and momentum. In 1834 William Hamilton with his Principle of Least Action, indicated that particles in the universe follow paths of least resistance. It was followed by Maxwell's Theory of Unification in 1861 that waves solution that contributes to light.  That there were smaller particles at the sub-nuclear level such as nucleons and quarks as small as a minute fraction of a cm, was the discovery of Rutherford in 1911 and the space in the Universe are then considered to have myriads of virtual particles of virtual photons and virtual neutrons.  These particles are subjected to various forces of electro-manetism, weak and strong forces.  The Universe, according to Prof. Wan, is constituted of 4.9 percent mass, 26.7 percent dark matter and 68.3 percent.  The extraordinary manner that the Universe is designed appears to provide evidence of the existence of the Grand Designer.

Posted on March 27, 2016


Saturday, March 19, 2016

2nd UIM International Convention on Wisdom - Unifying the World

Y.M Ungku Nur Faezah of the Attorney General's Office officiating the Opening

 1. Introduction.  The 2nd International Convention on Wisdom - Unifying the World with the focus on Childrens' Rights, organised jointly by Universiti Islam Malaysia (UIM) with its knowledge partners - Microsoft, Global Movement of Moderates and Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM)- was held on January 12, 2016 at Level 7 Auditorium of the University.  It was participated by an estimated 200 representing the international community from Islamic countries, the government departments, the universities and NGOs and the academic staff and students of the University.  It was officially declared open by Y.M Ungku Nur Faezah, who represented the Attorney General.  In her speech she indicated there were adequate laws at Federal level to the rights of children with respect to rights to education and health. Enactments at State levels under the Islamic and family laws provide code of ethics to protect the family and the children particularly on the abuses perpetrated on them.  Cases of these abuses were quoted where the guilty were punished with imprisonment.  Also under these enactments children have a right to health, express themselves, protection in time of war, to play, to education, to grow up, and the protection from digital abuses.

   2. Highlights of the Papers Presented.  
       2.1 Rights of Children in Sweden. The star speaker at the Conference was Kristofer Stahre who                was the defense counsel for the Malaysian couple who was then serving in Sweden, for                        violation of their three children integrity by caning them.  The violation was brought about by              the couple's children themselves to their teacher who subsequently reported the matter to the                police.  The couple was subsequently found guilty and had to serve a jail term. The case has                received considerable interest at home as the sentence was regarded heavy by Malaysian                      standard.  According to Stahre, a child by law in Sweden, is looked as an independent person              and violation of the children integrity is a serious crime where those found guilty can be                      imprisoned for a period from 6 to 9 months.

         2.2 Rights of Children to Grow Up.  Prof. Kevin Browne, Director at the Centre for Forensic                   and Family Psychology, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of                             Nottingham, England, cited the many studies undertaken comparing children raised under                   Family-based Care as opposed to under institutional care like welfare homes.  Children                       raised under institutions, where usually there are little time for social interactions, are found                 to possess less brain activity, are shorter in height and lighter in weight and generally                           disturbed that consequently lead to delinquency problems.  According to Prof Browne, a                     child raised in a family, as stipulated in the attachment theory, has one to one relationship                     and is exposed to community experiences grows up to feel more secure. The reasons why                     children end up in institutions are they are either orphans, abandoned, abused or disabled.                   Prof. Browne ended his talk by appealing to members of the community to come forward to                 adopt these children or provide family support.

           2.3 Protection of Children from Western Perspective.  Two papers were presented in this                          session. Prof. Chris Goddard from Monash University, Australia discussed on the silencing                  of children through deaths caused by neglect, abuse or ignorance.  The second speaker, Ms                  Jasmin Begum, Director at Microsoft Malaysia, spoke of Protecting children in Digital Area                where she mentioned on the online sexual exploitation and hacking targeted at children.                      Her company establishes a special project to examine ways of protecting children against                    these.

            2.4  Special Ministerial Talk.  Y.B Dato' Sri Rohani Abdul Karim, Minister of Women, Family                 & Community Development devoted her attention to Children's Rights, which is one of the                 eight important areas undertaken by her Ministry.  Children make up 33 percent of the                           country's population and existing laws provide them the right to survival, health, education,                 online protection and at the same time uphold their needs and interests.  Malaysia is a                           signatory to the UN Convention on Rights of Children (CRC) and currently, officials in her                 Ministry are scrutinizing laws and to make the necessary amendments such as abolishing                     whipping, family-based care, more deterrent punishment for abuses so that they are in                         consonance with CRC. She indicated that the Ministry has provided an online                                       communication with the public, Talian Kasih, where reports on abuse and neglect, poverty,                 disabilities, domestic violence could be made.  This communication channel could also be                   used to receive counselling and/or seek for financial assistance under the welfare scheme.                 

Mr. Kristofer Stahre delivering his paper

Prof. Kevin Browne discussing on the Rights of Children to Grow Up

The participants

The Conference is a meeting place of professional colleagues, from right Prof. Emeritus Sulaiman Yassin and Prof. Samsuddin

Slide on Ministerial Talk

Signing of MOU between Microsoft and UIM