Saturday, December 31, 2016

Annual Sports Competition for the Tan Sri Mohd Noor Trophy 2016

 The promotional banner of the Event

The trophies

Tan Sri Mohd Noor Ismail delivering his welcoming address

1. Introduction.  I was invited to the official opening of the sporting event by a close friend, Y Bhg Tan Sri Mohd Noor Ismail on the last day of 2016 i.e Saturday 31st December at 9.00 am held at the Uptown Sports Arena, Bandar Baru Bangi.  Besides the large number of participants, TS Mohd Noor has invited his friends who are ex-graduates of UPM with Dato' Seri DiRaja Syed Razlan, President of Persatuan Alumni Universiti Pertanian Malaysia, as the guest of honour and a few leaders of the BBBangi community.  In his welcoming remarks, Tan Sri shared his aspirations in that this sports complex was built and operated by a subsidiary family company with shareholdings wholly owned by members of the family, as a corporate social responsibility in providing sporting facilities to promote happy and healthy living among members of the communities around Bandar Baru Bangi, also known as the 'Knowledge City' and beyond.   DSDR Syed Razlan, in his brief remarks expressed his happiness for the efforts of Tan Sri Mohd Noor and members of his family, for having provided the facilities that bring members of the community together through healthy activities. As a symbolic act to officiate the Event he then kicked the futsal ball towards the goal post.       

 Friends around Tan Sri Mohd Noor

 Official Opening by DSDR Syed Razlan, symbolically by kicking the futsal ball

 Friends of Tan Sri Mohd Noor as guests at the Event

2.  The Competition.  This is the Third Annual Competition for the Tan Sri Mohd Noor Trophy which started in October, 2014 (First Open) and covers three main events:
     2.1  Futsal - open to two categories - participants who are under 17 years old where 96
                         teams have registered and the Open category also has the maximum 96
     2.2  Badminton - open to amateur men also has the maximum 96 teams registered

     2.3  Aerobic Exercise ( The Zumba) for ladies which is scheduled for 9.00 pm to 10 pm
            before the New Year Count Down

  According to the organisers all registrations are done online and to facilitate organisation the maximum number of teams have been fixed at 96.  Many teams have been declined their registrations due to the limits set. Many volunteers have assisted in the various aspects of organisation.

3. The Facilities.  The Uptown Sports is a multisport complex located in the vicinity of Kajang and Bandar Baru Bangi, consisting of three blocks of multi-purpose buildings that house 12 indoor badminton courts, 7 standard futsal court and one international size court.  Other facilities within the buildings are a gymnasium, a fitness centre, retail shops, food and beverage area, prayer rooms for male and female and also ample parking bays in the periphery of the buildings

The badminton courts
 Tan Sri Mohd Noor sharing his aspirations on his entrepreneural activities, with the friends present 

The light refreshments served on the occassion

Posted on 31/12/2016

Friday, December 30, 2016

Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) - Super Functional Food: A PAUPM Lecture Series

The Coconut Palm - photo downloaded from a VCO website

virgin coconutoil
Characteristics of VCO - photo from a VCO website

The speaker, Dato Ariff Othman, with the Alumni Wall of Fame in the bacground

1. Introduction. I participated in a lecture organised by the Alumni Association of Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (PAUPM) on Wednesday December 28, 2016 held at the Alumni Office, Chancellory UPM, Serdang Selangor. It was delivered by Dato' Ariff Othman.   This is the 38th in the Lecture Series organised as a fellowship to get Alumni members together to discuss issues and current technological development affecting the agricultural industry in the country. Being an occasional participant to this lecture series, I was attracted to attend this lecture for a number of reasons - firstly, Coconut brings back nostalgic memories of my first appointment as a young agricultural research assistant in-charge of the Crop Production Station (Coconut) of the Department of Agriculture located in the District of Hilir Perak for the period 1959 to 1965; secondly, the speaker was a colleague in MARDI and presently is with me in the Alumni Association of MARDI; thirdly, the continued stimulation of the intellectual activity and bonding relationship among friends.

2. Content of the Lecture. According to Dato' Ariff, there is a resurgence of interest in this commodity as a series of studies undertaken over the years have shown that coconut oil (CO) is one of the global healthiest foods, leading to the tremendous escalation in demand for this oil, particularly its virgin version (VCO), where it is not only consumed for health consideration but is widely utilised in cosmetics. For the uninitiated, Dato' Ariff, proceeded to explain that the ordinary coconut oil is derived from the copra i.e the dried kernel of the nut whereas VCO is obtained from the extraction process of the coconut milk.   Unlike other vegetable oils,  analysis shows that CO and VCO contain a high percentage of Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA) such as lauric, caprylic and capric, fatty acids that are similar to what is contained in mothers' milk, which have the properties of being anti-microbial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, easy to digest and not stored as fats in the body, with tremendous nutritional and health benefits to consumers . With these properties, Dato' Ariff emphasised with the power-point image, CO and VCO in particular VCO is now regarded as Super Functional Food and the Best Oil on Earth.
  The speaker indicated that there are around 77 reported uses of CO and VCO and their products but for the lecture, he devoted to only 20 uses, which among them are: treatment of Alzeimar, prevention of heart diseases and high blood pressure, curing of urinary tract infection, reduction of inflammation and arthritis, prevention and treatment of cancer, boosting immune system, improving memory and brain functions, improving energy and endurance, improving digestion and reducing ulcers and colics, easing gall bladder diseases, improving skin, preventing gum diseases and tooth decay, preventing osteoprosis, improving Type 11 diabetes, facilitating in weight loss, building muscles and losing body fat, caring for the hair, treating candida and yeast infection, enhancing anti-ageing and balancing hormones in the body.
  In his concluding remarks, Dato Ariff indicated that, following the increasing interest in the coconut industry, an International Coconut Conference was held recently in Bangkok, followed by a Coconut Workshop organised by PAUPM also just a few months ago. Another Conference/ Seminar on the commodity is also in the pipeline, possibly to be organised jointly between PAUPM and the Alumni Association of MARDI.

3. Q&A and Discussion Session. As the first to be recognized by the Chair, I commented that coconut is closely associated with the Malay culture and coconut palms are usually planted in the compound of their houses and that they are regarded as extremely useful crop, as all parts of the palm are beneficial to them - the roots have medicinal value, the trunk can be used as pillars in house construction, the leaves could be weaved for roofing, the nuts for its oil used for cooking, hair oil and medicine. The health and nutritional benefits of CO is a subject relevant to Natural Medicine Research Centre at Universiti Islam Malaysia (NMRC UIM) where I am associated with, where the Centre is undertaking studies on the practices in terms of physical activities and natural foods etc on healthy ageing among the peoples in Malaysia and also ASEAN countries. I went on to add that coconut palms are planted in the coastal areas of Peninsular. With the shortage of production of coconut in the country and the high demand for its products, it is perhaps appropriate to be considering the abandoned land and the marginal paddy-fields for the cultivation of the crop. Also, there is a need for all related agencies to come up with the strategic plan encompassing the supply chain of the commodity from primary production, processing, transportation, marketing both internally and for export. YM Dato' Seri Syed Razlan, President of PAUPM, interjected that we have the option of importing coconuts or growing our own. Currently, he said Malaysia is importing 600 million nuts annually, clearing the various import figures mentioned in the course of the proceedings.  According to him, coconut are hardy and adaptable plant and can be grown not only in the coastal areas as pointed out, but also on other edaphic and topographic environments. However, the bottleneck in the expansion of planting of the crop will be planting material as the Matag variety production is under the control of a plantation company.  Perhaps to overcome the planting material shortage the country can opt to grow whatever variety with the available planting materials.
  It was pointed out that at a Coconut Workshop organised by the Association a few months ago did come up with a proposal for the  establishment of a Board that will formulate a strategic plan,  providing direction in the development of the commodity but there were some reservations with this proposal.  The event ended around 12.30 noon with group photo session.                  

One of the Slides presented

Group photo of the participants with speaker

Selfie during the lecture

Glad to see that I am one of those selected as one the distinguished Alumni of Univeristi Putra Malaysia on its Alumni Wall of Fame (my photo - 2nd from left on the top row)

Posted on 30/12/2016 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

China and the World in the 21st Century - A Public Lecture

Dr. Martin Jacques, the speaker

Dr. Chandra Muzzaffar, President of MoJW, moderated the Event

Venue of the Public Lecture - Institut Diplomasi dan Hubungan Luar Negara

1. Introduction:  The Lecture was delivered by Dr. Martin Jacques, an authority on China and author of the book 'When China Rules the World: The End of Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order', on Saturday November 5, 2016 at the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs (IDFA), Kuala Lumpur. It was jointly organised by IDFA and Movement of the Just World (MoJW).  The lecture was moderated by Dr. Chandra Muzzaffar, President of MoJW.  Dato' Salman Ahmad, the Director-General of IDFA, in his welcoming remarks, indicated that the idea of organizing the event was that of Dr. Chandra Muzzaffar and IDFA considered it relevant in the context of the rise of China in the global scene.  The lecture was participated by an estimated 400 comprising of the diplomatic community, students and academic staff of universities and members of the public.

2.  The Content of the Lecture.  According to Dr. Jacques, China in the 1980 was poor with the size of its economy just 5% of that of the United States. The rise of China's economy and the beginning of a new era started in the early 1980s with the modernizing policies enunciated by Deng Xiao Peng with the focus on liberalizing the economy, the development of agriculture, science and technology, national defense, to spur economic growth and eradicate poverty among its people .  This shift in policies brought about tremendous growth in its economy and by 2015 its GDP exceeded that of the US.  This economic success led China to embark on doing things its own way - from passive bystander to proactive mover- in its role as 'shaper' of the global economy. One of the key actions it took to perpetuate economic growth was to establish the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, which subsequently attracted a membership of 57 countries, to finance the construction of infrastructures such as roads, railways and pipelines, not only linking the coastal part from Tianjin, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wenzhou, Fuzhou, Guangzhou and Zhangjian and the interior of the country but also connecting land-based destinations and seafaring routes from Asia to Europe, covering the largest land mass and providing facilities to 65% of the world's population.  China's ability to undertake these mammoth projects together with developing countries is due to its leaders' understanding of the problems of these countries unlike the US and UK where projects are built to meet their own objectives and interests. 

  China is projected to continue its economic growth and by 2030 its GDP is forecasted to be 33% of that of the globe and home to 20% of the world population. With a concommitant decline of the West, China will the dominant power in the 21st century, serving as the center of global economy with Shanghai as its capital. Its economic supremacy and dominance will have implications culturally, militarily, politically and diplomatically. 

  On the South China Sea, Dr. Jacques advocated the need to have agreement among the claimants in the territorial disputes.

  China's rise as a global economic power, Dr. Jacques went on to add, is not without facing numerous challenges as countries where it has its presence, are suspicious of its intention.  Its officials, dealing with these countries, have to understand the culture and have to build the language skill of the respective host country.  Also, building infrastructure and having projects incur high costs and with the extensive nations involved, China may be overreaching itself with resources at its disposal.  There is also concern that China , being a big country with high population, may encounter problems as factions in the country may cause disorder and disturbances.

  In his concluding remarks, Dr. Jacques, whilst praising Malaysia for its ability in handling the territorial dispute with respect to the South China Sea, advised that Malaysia, being its not too distant neighbor, has to orientate itself to understand the Chinese and grapple with issues related to China. The world has to be aware of the economic, cultural, political and militaristic significance of its global power.  However, Dr. Jacques, expressed words of optimism about the Chinese superpower for its rise is a peaceful one, unlike, the West where their dominance was built on brutal conflicts.      

   Finally, Dr. Jacques emphasized that 'it is important for countries to be clear about their priorities.  If anything is ever historically clear, it is the rise of China and the decline of the United States especially in the region. If these countries think this relationship with China is the most important one they have, then they must think proactively, strategically and creatively about what areas of cooperation they want to have with China'.       

Part of the audience

Dato' Ghazally Yusof was sitting next to me in the front row of the Hall

Posted on 27/12/2016

Monday, December 26, 2016

Address at the 5th Convocation Ceremony of MASA College

Bouquets of flowers being displayed for sale

Interacting with the guests before the Convocation Ceremony

 Photo with a few members of the Board of Directors

1. Introduction. I attended the 5th Convocation Ceremony of Kolej MASA (Malaysian Academic & Skills Advancement) held on Thursday 22nd December 2016 at UPMCS Banquet Hall, UPM Serdang starting at 1.00 noon. I was invited as one of the two guests of honor to address the graduating class made up of 316 diplamates in the Faculties of Corporate Administration, Executive Secretaryship, Hospitality Management, Information Technology and Computer Technology and Forensics. The Ceremony was attended by members of the Board of the College, the graduates, their parents and guardians, the academic and administrative staff and invited guests. It was officiated Y.B Senator Dato' Seri SK Devamany, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department.  

The commencement of the Convocation with the Academics' procession

 The guest of honor, YB Senator Dato' Seri SK Devamany, at the main dais

The audience during the Ceremony

Group photo with the graduste

2. Content of my Address 

1.       First of all I would like to take the opportunity to thank the College for giving this honor to be present and deliver an address to the graduates. It provides me the opportunity of sharing whatever knowledge, experiences and wisdom one accumulates through these long years.  I shall be 79 next February and do not have too long to be standing in front of such audiences such as this, sharing the few things with the young generation.  

2.      To the graduates, I wish to express my heartiest congratulations for having patiently going through the lectures, taking the examinations and finally completing the courses you have chosen.  This success bring to each one of you the feeling of exhilaration  after a period of trials and tribulations.  Congratulations to the parents and guardians who have faithfully put lots of trust, shower encouragement and resources to harness you with the knowledge, skill and wisdom to prepare yourself for the second phase of your life – the working life.

  Equipped with the knowledge, skill and wisdom, one may opt to seek employment in the corporate or public sector or start an entrepreneurial activity of your own. Each one of these options is not easy and one faces many challenges.  As an employee, one has to experience the new environment – the boss may be a difficult person to work with and each  personnel in the office has unique personality that one has to adjust with.  Going into an enterprise also poses such issues as what enterprise to embark in with the many competitors in the market, credit availability and workers to recruit to assist in your business outfit. Do not consider these as problems that can hinder and adversely affect your activity. Look at them as challenges and make it an exciting journey to overcome them. It is all in the mind.  Psyche each morning that today is going to be an exciting and happy day.  With this frame of mind locked up you will find that things will fall in place and your work is blessed with lots of joy and success will then prevail. 

4.      When working do not get carried away and get addicted to work to an extent of spending long hours in the office. Aim for a balanced, healthy and happy life, allocating time for work, spiritual activity, for the family (parents, wife and children), community and friends, exercises and recreation. One has heard of the saying – do not get burnt out as a result of too obsessed with work. Take time to recharge and renew.  According to Bonnie Ware as quoted by Sunday Clarke in his column ‘Sunny Side Up’ published in the Star (Dec 12, 2016), the no. 2 in the list of top 5 regrets of the dying ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’.

Take time to keep yourself healthy.  It does not take much to spoil your day and one is not able to put his best in his work – a slight head ache, stomach ache.  There are many exercises and sports that one can choose from. In my young days I played table tennis, rugby and hockey for my College.  I started playing squash when I started work in MARDI with the availability of the facilities there.  Many of these sports require playing fields, courts, equipment, partners to play with.  Opt for something simple, easy and cheap – brisk walking, jogging and running – at least 30 minutes, 3 days in a week.
6.      Keep abreast with the developments and happenings around you – your community, country and your world, by reading.  The smartphone is one source of information – whatsapp groups (health, spiritual and the latest on politics – true of false), Ted Talks and the latest addition to my knowledge source is MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses with the whole range of interesting topics – latest science discoveries, economics, politics, sustainable development, happiness. This source does not only provide information but also the avenue to release your cumulative pent up frustration with an issue (1 MDB).  In one whatsapp group I am in with a few members of the Cabinet and senior govt officials in it, a senior citizen posted posted all the postings on the current hot issue in the country with his own unsavoury comments.  I still rely on the conventional published texts – books and newspapers. 

7.       Finally I like to take the opportunity to wish everyone success , good health and HAPPINESS.

Welfie with the secretarial staff who were facilitating with the Ceremony

With two lady members of the College Board of Directors

3. Concluding Remarks. I find pleasurable participating in these type of event as it is in harmony with my philosophy of happy living and ageing. It provides the opportunity of enhancing one's bondage of relationship, get to know new people and best of all, interacting with members of Gen Y and sharing your views and experiences.

Posted on 26/12/2016