Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tales of One Bataq Mat Jenin

1. Mat Jenin is a famous Malay character who likes to dream. All he did was to dream of the impossible.

2. They say if there is one Bataq all he does is to dream too. If there are two Bataq they play chess and if there are three they form a trio and perform in Bataqland.

3. These are tales of one Bataq Mat Jenin

a) He wants to look after a genie so that he can be a professional golfer for his country. He could be like Vijay Singh for Fiji, K J Choi for S. Korea and T. Jaidi for Thailand. He wants to use a genie to guide his golf ball where ever he wants so that he could play par golf.

b) He wants to publish in Science and Nature so that he could satisfy his boss who wants high Inpact Factor as his university's Key Performance Indicator. To-day his boss looks down on his publications in proceedings and in non-SI and non-Scopus journals.

c) He wants to have some endowments from his fellow Bataqs who had made good in life so that he could establish a Bataq Foundation to help his fellow Bataqs.

4. Well, as the saying goes to say, until another Bataq comes along to play chess with him, he will be forever Mat Jenin ......

Since 14th April Pak Teh's blog has registered a total 1075 hits where close to that of Che Det's blog ....may be I should go political

Thursday, June 25, 2009

National Forest Inventory

1. Every 10 years the Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia conducted nation-wide thorough forest inventory. Using standard methods their officers and forest contractors did the inventory surveys diligently to take stock of forest resources and their distribution.

2. In spite of the department's effort in documenting the number of stands and distribution of those species in their reports, CITES still felt many species such as Intsia palembanica, Gonystylus bancanus and Aquilaria malaccensis, amongst others are at the brink of extinction.

3. Botanists like me laughed at the way CITES worked as Gonystylus bancanus is no where near extinction in the peat swamp forests of Peninsular Malaysia. Similarly, Aquilaria malaccensis is also no where what CITES had reported.

4. However, many species were not identified to the species level in the previous inventory. This is in parallel to the value of timber as posted by MASKAYU, as they are quoted as "species-group" e.g. "nyatuh" for all the Sapotaceae and "resak" for all the Vatica species, for example.

5. In the coming 5th National Forest Inventory, I suggested it should be done to the species level. Specimens should be collected as evidence of their distribution. This will definitely help the preparattion of the Flora of Peninsular Malaysia.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Second UKM-UI Joint Seminar

1. This morning at about 1015 hr I gave a keynote address at the said seminar. The first was held in Jakarta in 2007. My topic was,"Biodiversity in Malaysia and Indonesia : The most undervalued natural asset"

2. Both countries share of the richest biodiversity in tropical Asia and yet both countries are still struggling to turn their biodiversity richness to eradicate rural poverty. Durng the colonial years both the British and Dutch exploited the richness in their colonists to the fullest. Both the Malay Peninsula or Malaya and Java have their own Flora. No other islands have their own Flora.

3. Both countries have a diverse ecosystem or community diversity, from islands to the mountains in Irian Jaya and Sabah. The richness of corals in both countries is also unimaginable to the botanist. The edaphic forests are immensely rich in unique floras.

4. The species diversity in both countries totals more than 30,000 from the smallest diatoms in the sea to the gigantic tualang and cengal in Peninsular Malaysia and rasamula in Indonesia. Don't forget both countries share more than 14 species of the gigantic and beautiful rafflesias and rhizanthes.

5. Both have the National Biodiversity Policy and National Biotechnology Policy, and yet both countries fail to realise their dreams to transform their rich biodiversity into the ingredients of biotechnology. The pristine ecosystem diversity and some of the iconic species are ingredients for ecotourism. I feel both the development in biotechnology and ecotourism could bring potentials in foreign exchange, in addition to the existing oil palm industries, timber industries, etc.

6. I just wonder what it takes to convince our economic and political masters to exploit the rich biodiversity for the benefitsof the poor in our pursuit of sustainable development. Perhaps these ideas will remain as dreams ......until we lost all these to the changing times and ignorance/

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On the Turtles and Terrapins of Terengganu

1. Years ago Terengganu's Rantau Abang is famous for turtles landings. Hundreds of them came up the white sandy beach every night to lay their ping pong sized eggs. And hundreds of visitors and tourists flocked the place at night to watch the events. I did go there twice to be part of the party. We shouted and we mounted on the backs of the turtles and shone lights straingt into their faces. And nobody told us not to do such mischiefs. The state of Terengganu became famous for turtles and the chalet owners and hawkers were happy to reap the products. A couple of years ago there was a statue of turtle in a round-about in Kuala Terengganu.

2. Today no turtle lands anymore at Rantau Abang, though the beach is still white and sandy. The locals were puzzled and what-ever reasons the scientists told them they didn't believe. The irony is that the expert on turtles Prof. Chan, from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu resides in Kuala Terengganu.

3. Turtles do land but at Ma' Daerah, a smal area with 1.7 km of white and sandy beach enclaved by Bukit Labohan Besar and Bukit Labohan Kecil in Kerteh. The area receives flares and lights from the numerous plants at Kerteh nearby. And turtles don't like lights and flares but they did land there!

4. Turtles do also land at Setiu where there is a longer white sandy beach. However, there is a looming aquaculture project coming to the area which is going to threaten the survival of the landing turtles directly. There are other land-use issues in the area.

5. Fresh-water terrapins are also found in Setiu. Some years ago many died of poisoning especially the weedicides and pesticides from nearby areas. Their carapaces were scattered everywhere.

6. The people of Terengganu still eat turtle eggs which are sold at the famed Pasar Kepayang. It is very difficult for the people of Terengganu, and for that matter, those of other states, to get rid of that old habit of consuming turtle eggs. If there is a legislation in Terengganu to prohibit eggs eating and selling, what stops their neighbours in Kelantan to bring across the eggs, sell and consume them in Kelantan?

7. But who cares about turtles? They didn't as there were still many people in Kelantan who caught monitor lizards, pangolins, snakes, frogs, terrapins etc to sell them across the northern border.

Monday, June 15, 2009

On the plight of turtles

1. The hawksbill turtles (Penyu karah) had been landing on the beaches of Melaka for centuries. The local communities, especially the fishermen had been collecting the eggs either to sell in the local markets or eat them. The eggs are a delicacy but they are said to contain cholesterols. These had been going on ......

2. Many of them were caught in the net of the fishermen, got drowned and died. Many of them were caught by the Chinese fishermen and taken back to China, consumed as foods. The carapace were made into ornamentals.

3. Many of them returned to Melaka beach to find out:

a) the beaches had been destroyed by land reclamation as the Mahkota Parade
b) the beach at Padag Kemunting had been eroded that they crawled up so close to concrete
c) the beach at Pulau Upeh had been turned rock-hard, so much so that the turtles had problems in digging the beach to lay their eggs

4. When the babies are released into the sea, they are believed to return to the same beach, if they survive at all, in 30 years time. Just imagine those that were released at Padang Kemunting on the night of June 2009 will return in 2039. What would be the condition of the said beach then?

5. Thanks to the Department of Fsheries Melaka which had cooperated with WWF Malaysia in trying to ensure the conservation and survival of the hawksbills. They said the turtle eggs contain life, save them, don't take lives

Friday, June 12, 2009

On the Parks

1. The 2nd National Park in Peninsular Malaysia is Pantai Acheh NP, Penang which is just over 1000 ha. It has been ridiculed as the smallest NP in the World.

2. Before the above the only National Park is Taman Negara which consists of Taman Negara Pahang, Taman Negara Terengganu and Taman Negara Kelantan as they were gazetted under the ordinance of the respective states. Only TN Terengganu had produced its Coffee Table book.

3. Today Sarawak has a total of 20 Totally Protected Areas which include National (State sic!) Parks and the state intends to go for 29 to achieve 1 Million ha of protected areas in the near future. Ten of the established parks are within the Heart of Borneo. The situation in Sabah is similar o that of Sarawak.

4. In Peninsular Malaysia, Perlis State Park covering an area of ca. 5,000 ha has been gazetted; Gunung Stong State Park, Kelantan is yet to be gazetted. I'm not sure whether Endau-Rompin State Park, Pahang; Pulau Jerejak SP and Bukit Panchor ST in Pulau Pinang have been gazetted. The parks in Johor, Selangor and Perak have been gazetted under corporations.

5. The states of Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Kedah and Terengganu are yet to consider their TPAs to be gazetted as state parks.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

On the language and authors in BM

1. I was away in Copenhagen attending the WWF Annual Conference, in Den Haag while visiting Nationaal Herbarium at Leiden and Liverpool visiting my sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. At Den Haag I met my nephews and nieces.

2. Marina studied microbiology in Dutch and took English as her second language; she speaks both languages fluently. Faisal studied communication, fluent in Dutch, English and Bahasa Kelantan. Mariani studied in Dutch too and took English as her second, she wants to be a environmental lawyer. In addition, she took to Latin, French, Spanish, German, Kelantan and Japanese. Munirah followed suit in IT, fluent in Dutch and English and Fadzli is fluent in Dutch as he is just in high school.

3. While in office to-day I read 15 scientific papers written in Bahasa Malaysia meant for Sains Malaysiana, the top journal of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. The papers are of biological sciences, physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering science. The Malay authors wrote their papers very well in Bahasa Malaysia, of course with English abstract. I presumed these authors were educated in Bahasa Malaysia as their medium of instruction while in university, as they are not of my generation.

4. My points are:

a) Malay children and Malaysian children can learn and master any language if they start early in their education. Why can't we package our children in primary school with Bahasa Malaysia as theri first language and English as the second language. As they move to secondary school, get them to master another language of their choice, mandarin, french, tamil etc. When they get to college or university, give them another language. Do away with English to teach them mathematics and science subjects, denying the non-science students to be good in English. In the past we had science vs non-science streams and now we have English science stream vs Malay non-science stream. What kind of education system is this?

b) The last generation who studied in Bahasa Malaysia as their medium of instruction did well in their science without neglecting English, as proven by those authors I mentioned above. Furthermore, these authors were educated overseas for their PhDs.

c) Encourage the not-so-young people of 40 to 60 to study another language, especially Arabic, Mandarin or Tamil ...... diversity of Malaysians.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

More About The Prisoner of Teheran Marina Nemat

1. As I read more chapters of the book I found some answers why most are intolerant. These include:

a) We are just ignorant about the issues and yet we are compelled to make wrong decision. For example, when the ex Minister of Education, was furious about Prof. Shahari's critic of the NST news, he was utterly ignorant of what Shaharir criticised. Yet he was because people around him advised him to.

b) We have own own personal agenda an yet we made the wrong decision. For example, when an ex TNC questioned the 12 lecturers who were said to be anti-government, he had his personal agenda of wanting to please the Minister and hoping to go up the ladder of power one way or the other.

c) We were just followers and yet we did what we did. For example, when the BTN officers interrogated and belittled the other officers, they were just idiots who were supposed to do just that. Just like the police officers who blown the Mongolian woman.

d) We wanted to be part of a system and yet we derailed our own principles. For example, some of us wanted to gain favour from the power that be, we just be part of the system .... be a member of UMNO or be an UMNO sympathisers, for instance, could take you up favourably be it in police force, army, ministries and even in universities.

2. These are a couple of observations that I could make after reading 17 Chapters of the above book written after the Iran Revolution.

3. When I was at Reading during the Iranian Revolution, my Persian friends talked so much good about Ayatollah Khoemeini even though they didn't know much about him as he was in exile in Paris, yet they expected so much of him. They were probably right as the Shah of Iran then was bad. When I met the same Iranian friend in Sydney in 1981, he told me the two era were not much different. The Iranians were still suffering from interrogation, execution and intolerance. If this could happened in Iran, why can't these also happen in modern Malaysia.

4. That is why I had wished ISA be abolished.

An afternoon with my grandchildren

Ilyas and Maisarah at Toys R Us, Liverpool

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Prisoner of Teheran

1. While waiting to board the EasyJet (equivalent of our Air Asia) plane at Schipol airport, Amsterdam to go to Liverpool to see my sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildrenm i purchased two books, Prisone of Teheran by Marinat Nemat (Publisher John Murray) and The State of Africa by Martin Meredith (Publisher Free Press).

2. I began reading the first book which is thinner, more attractive and more interesting, I thought as it is a true story, not a political propaganda as I thought the second book is .

3. Ms. Marina Nemat was 16 years old, a high school student when she was arrested for wanting to study calculus instead of listening to political speech of her teacher. This happenned during the Iranian Revolution, just prior to Ayatollah Khoemeini returned to Iran. She asked her teacher to teach the class the core subject of calculus instead of listening to Islamic political speech and propaganda. After reading up to 129 pages I realised Iranian Islam is so intolerant.

4. But, I thought intolerance exists everywhere.Whether it is in Iran, South Africa, US, Iraq, Thailand or even Malaysia. A few years ago, the Malaysian secret servicemen arrested a couple of innocent students in Kota Bharu because they received the information from the authorities yjese students were studying Islam in Pakistan. These police officers did not listen to reasons or rationale. They did what they were "told" to do regardless. Is this sound familiar?

5. I am brought up to be tolerant, rationale and common sense. That is why I hate intolerance, irrationale decisions and people who do not use and listen to common sense. Anyway, I'm going to continue reading while playing with my grandchildren, Ilyas and Maisarah, while receiving news about my injured son at home.

Lalan di hospital - another entry by Tina

lalan suruh mama buat muka sedih

tangan yang cedera

makan pun nak kena suap ke

mama duk ajak nak gi econsave kat bawah

lalan posing dengan operation gown nya

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lalan yang cedera

* entry by Tina & Lalan

Poverty and Biodiversity Conservation

1. A question sometimes asked by my students includes, "Why does biodiversity conservation in some countries fail?. My answer begins with a scenario setting in developed countries where most of biodiversity conservation succeeded. One common factor is poverty.

2. Then I move to a worst scenario in some central and east African countries where poverty is rampant. Where western aids came conservation succeeded and where western aids didn't appear, conservation failed. The success of biodiversity conservation depends to a certain extent on aids from the west and poverty eradication.

3. In Malaysia there are a few more scenario that include:

a) The owners or custodians of biodiversity conservation areas don't have much clue and knowledge about conservation approach. Much of the knowledge were derived from foreign scenario, imported by so-called experts to our shores and forests. The local people don't participate well in the conservation project

b) There were many greedy people in the country who have wanted to make much more money than what they can spend. They could not care less about biodiversity, conservation and environment. These people include those who worked with the middlemen to trap animals and collect plants for sale.

c) The rich Malaysian are yet to invest in biodiversity and the environment. They were the excellent sceptics with what the NGOs do in the country. Unlike those in US and Europe, the rich came forward to start their legacies for the environmental issues, such as climate change, rain forest conservation and conservation of iconic species.

d) Malaysia is still land of plenty, so if we have many flora and fauna, why should we embark on biodiversity conservation. My analogy is if we are healthy and kicking why should we go and see the doctor, only if we are sick we seek doctors.

4. Most developing countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Venezuela, Brazil, Congo, still have plenty of bodiversity, these countries are the present custodians of world's biodiversity. These countries need to develop further, eradiacte poverty among their citizens, increase ther GDPs and want to live a affluent life style. After all, who don't want to live like a Swiss?

5. We think in this century, we will stand or fall on our ability to collectively eradicate poverty, guarantee human rights and ensure an environmentally sustainable future. Freedom from want, freedom from fear and sustaining our future are all part of the same equation. However, this is a tall order!

6. If conservation or poverty eradication interventions are to be successsful, our leaders need to address factors like global trade, money markets, climate change etc. Most conservation projects take some account of local people's livelihood, albeit less of the political situation. Despite their distinctive goals, conservation and development can achieve workable accommodation in such things called trade-offs or win-win situation.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Biodiversity Conservation Highlights

1. In May 2009, the six Coral Triangle heads of states (incl. Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste) made a historic and precedent-setting commitment to work together to protect marine environment and resources, ensure the food security of their people, and build climate change resilience. The Coral Triangle leaders' declaration launched the most detailed regional action plan for ocean conservation ever seen, and the countries individually announced new commitments on finance, law and marine protected areas. President Yudhoyono and PM Dato' Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak made a personal plea to conserve the marine environment.

2. In a historic commitment, Sumatra's 10 governors and four government ministries of Indonesia commited to a sustainable development model based on ecosystem-based spatial planning. This agreement commits Sumatera to protect areas with high conservation values, restore important ecosystems on the island and reestablish connectivity between forests and habitats. Sumatera is home to Sumateran tiger, rhino, orang utan and Asian elephants.

3. Led by World Bank, the Global Tiger initiative brings together the Smithsonian Institution, WWF, Save the Tiger Fund, and other partners with the objective of gaining the support of tiger range state leaders for effective conservation of the severely endangered species, Panthera tigris. The total tiger populations have plummeted from 30,000 in the 1980s to an estimated 4,000 today. In December 2008, Malaysia launched a national Tiger Action Plan with the aim to double Malaysia's tiger (Panthera tigris jacobii) population to 1,000 by 2020. It is worth noting that EMKAY Foundation had partially supported Mark Ryan's work on the tiger in the Belum-Temenggor forests in Perak. The human-tiger conflict in Jeli, Kelantan is still on.