Sunday, September 27, 2009

On Diversity of Stress

photo from Google

1. This morning I read the news ietm in NST on stress with some amusements. The reports say the Prime Minister's job is the most stressful, followed by that of Chief Justice, Doctors especially surgeons, Inspector General of Police, Attorney-General, MACC Chief and so on including that of teachers.

2. I personally view that the dgeree of stressfulness is proportion to their salaries, allowances, perks, priviledges etc. The Prime Minister, Chief Justice etc are stressful because they received a lot of monetary and priviledges returns. There are exceptions of course, the fishermen, taxi drivers, bus drivers are also stressful but their monetary returns make them among the poor and the under-priviledges.

3. The teachers are also quoted as stressful lot and their salaries and priviledges are small. Here I disgareed with the findings. Amongst the teachers include the lecturers, so they are also a stressful lot. Here I could give the readers some of the in-sights of the factors that make the lecturers stressful, though not of their own doings.

4. Teaching. It was so much fun in the 1980s. But now we are supposed to prepare our lecture notes and deposit in SPIN. We are suppose to take the attendance of our class, that routine I remembered well when I was teaching at Sultan Ismail College, Kota Bharu in 1973-74. I thought university teachers are spared of this routine

5. Supervising. Teachers in schools don't have to supervise BS, MS and PhD students but we all do in universities. To-day it becomes more stressful when we are supposed to handle and supervise foreign students, whose English and fundamental of science are inadequate.

6. Research. Teachers don't have to do research but we all do in universities. No funds no research and funds are not easy to come by because R & D administrators don't understand what R & D is all about. How could they understand for they have never done good scientific research in their life.

7. Publication. Teachers don't have to publish any thing, just like the other civil servants in the ministries, but we all do in the universities. No publication no promotion. To-day there are many silly indicators being dragged into our academic life such as Impact Factor journal etc. So far only two local journals have Impact Factor, so we have to penetrate oversea journals. The oversea journals now were run like a business venture, you pay USD we publish your unedited articles. Is this not stressful?

8. Service to community. All of us teachers and lecturers do but of different kinds and degrees. Taechers don't have learned societies to look after, teachers don't organise scientific international or regional conferences, teachers don't have to advise NGOs and government agencies. Yet they are stressful

9. My conclusion is simply ... NST published what I call an illusion.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Future Siege on Motorists

photo from Google

1. This morning I read (NST page 8) that the government is going to introduce a new system to monitor the errand traffic on Malaysian roads. It is called the AES (Automated Enforcement System) in which the company set up by the government is going to fix hundreds of laser-cameras to monitor the motorists.

2. In the past and presently, the traffic policemen were forced to sit or lie down the stomach secretly and unassumingly behind vertical pillars, bushes and on towers to snap pictures of motorists who sped up of beat traffic lights etc. During Tun Lim Liong Sik's time, the Ministry set-up many cameras along the roads and millions of pictures were tahen to scare the offenders. The Ministry officials said there were too many pictures to develop and no fines could be collected.

3. This time the Ministry boss said this is not scientific as the policemen used their manual systems and their hands are not that steady and furthermore they could only take one picture at a time. This is not costly enough and nobody is going to make money out of this archaic system!

4. The government is going to privatise this by allowing a company to do the job and the company is going to collect the fines and I bet Malaysians don't mind paying the fines so long as they could weave through the traffic in great speed. There are thousands of silly bus drivers, lorry drivers, motorists and motorcylists on our roads and the company is going to make a lot of money by fining the perennial offenders.

5. Privatisation is a lucrative business in Malaysia. The former British PM Margaret Thatcher introduced it in UK and Tun Mahathir championed it in our country and there area many Malaysians who became instant millioners. This is Malaysianomics and it deserves a philosophical study in Harvard as Najibonomics.

Friday, September 25, 2009

On the Beaches of Kelantan

photo from Google

1. During the Hari Raya Eidulfitri holidays I managed to visit two beaches of Kelantan. By the way from the beach of Tumpat on the north of Kelantan to the beach of Dalam Rhu, Pasir Putih, there are many once famous beaches of Kelantan.

2. I drove to Pantai Dasar of Sabak hoping to see the once beautiful beach where I played rubber football in the 60s. Much to my shock and astonishment as I passed the bridge I saw a horrible sight both of the river and also the beach. The river ia dirty and there are fish cages and there is no more beach. What I saw was a long mountain of rocks which were pitted there to save the remaining area from being eroded by the sea.

3. Before Thursday 24th I heard so many stories about the plight of Pantai Dasar but I didn't image it is that bad and horrible. I couldn't recognise the shophouse that serviced the visitors in the 60s that belonged to one of my relatives there.

4. Then I drove to Pantai Irama of Bachok and I found there was no more "irama" or rythym of the sand there anymore. In the 60s I thought it was beautiful with white sandy beach and Casuarina trees lining the paths. What I saw was dirty and smelly beach. There were two workers trying to clean the area but the place is horrible. I was told the public toilet was dirty and filthy! That I didn't dare asking my grandchildren to clean themselves there after playing on the dirty beach before putting on their clean pair of trousers and shirts.

5. What is happening to the Pantai Dasar and Pantai Irama? I am sure the authorities are not blind to see what is happening to our beaches. I talked to some friends who blamed on the coastal engineers who planned the deepening and chanelling the estuary of Tok Bali that eroded those beaches. Of course the coastal engineers must have received instructions from the state planners and other authorities. Some blamed mother nature that eroded those beaches. I saw similar phenomenon at the beach near the Kuala Terengganu airport.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Is Hari Raya Aidilfitri of 2009 Coming?

1. I must confess everything around me is quiet to-day. I went to the office, the office was quiet though the staffs were still in. The car parks were nearly empty, the noise on the road was not that bad; the staffs cars were missing .......something is coming!

2. I went into the office to drop some mails and cards, I met Dr. Mohd. Talib busy preparing his paper publication before the long holiday; Prof. Othman Ross was talking to his student; Dr. Sahibin, Dr. Norhayati and Dr. Haja Maideen were sharing some jokes.

3. As I was leaving the building I noticed Dr. Hasidah and Dr. Wan sharing some academic matters. I wished them happy Hari Raya and holiday, respectively.

4. At about 1 pm I went to the university mosque to do my Jumaat prayer, the car parks were not that full. On the normal Friday some of the jumaah parked their cars almost inside the mosque, but today the parking was orderly.

5. Then I went to AM Bank, the similar atmosphere existed, there was only one counter open for some 7 people wanting their transaction

6. But I noticed there were too many cars and other vehicles on the roads in Bandar Baru Bangi and Kajang. More so when I stopped to refill my gas tank .....I think people were on the move.

7. I think Hari Raya Aidilfitri is coming. I wish to wish my Muslim feoolw-bloggers "Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri" and drive carefully to your destinations. The radio deejays kept telling the listeners there had been too many death on the roads last year .....let's reduce the accidents and unnecessary deaths.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Of Black Coffee On the Table and Coffee Table Books

1. I am a cofee lover and I love Coffee O Beng of the north ....Whenever I travelled to Penang, Kangar or Alus Setar I never missed ordering Kopi O Beng. I love white coffee too with Mee Curry at the outlet.

2. The medical doctor says drinking coffee is not good as it contains a lot of substance called caffeine, an alkaloid that suffocate your blood streams. And tea has caffeine too.

3. Of late I have been involved with Coffee Table books.
a) At the Institute for Environment and Development (LESTARI) I have been involved with supplying small texts for, "The hanging Gardens of Langkawi" and "Memories of Eucalyptus Camp, Maliau Basin". The first is written to commemorate the declaration of Geoforest Parks in Langkawi and I must confessed it is one one of the best. The second is purely to record what went on while we were encamped in a remote area of Maliau Basin, Sabah. I must admit that this one is not that good.

b) At the faculty I was involved with, "Marine Wonders" and "Bukit Fraser - The Crown of Titiwangsa Range". The first is really great, potraying the wonders of life in the shallow seas and I like it so much. Some times I wonder of the beauty underneath the water surface - are they really beautiful? ....for I don't dive to appreciate them myself. The second was a reflection of this highland refugia. Indeen, I gave that title.

c) With the Department of Forestry Peninsular Malaysia I was involved too. The first "Terenggnau - A fascinating forest profiles" was a great piece of Coffee Table book. In it contains one of the most beautiful work of arts, the aerial picture of Jambu Bongkok. Then I was involved with, "Melaka - Where Forestry Began". Honestly I have not seen the finished product as yet. Now I am working on three more - "Significant Findings of the Expeditions", "Negeri Sembilan - Natural Resources and Heritage" and Cameron Highlang, Pahang : The Heart of Central Forest Spine".

4. Between the two i.e. drinking coffee which are put on the table and writing and help produce Coffee Table books, I like the latter as these books don't contain caffeine and they are pleasant to your eyes and minds

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Last Quarter of 2009 Scientific Expeditions

1. I have been informed by many reliable sources that the last quarter of 2009 is going to be filled with many scientific expeditions. So much so that many friends are going to miss the "Open House" phenomenon and many others are not going to find dates to hold an "Open House" this Hari Raya AidilFitri.

2. Immediately after the Hari Raya breaks, between 28 September to 1st October UKM expeditioners are going to Mt. Silam in Sabah. I am going to participate in this as the botany of this area is very interesting.

3. Immediately after Mt. Silam expedition the same group together with those from Taman-Taman sabah and Universiti Malaysia Sabah and others from other agencies and institutions are going to climb Mt. Tamboyukon, near Mt. Kinabalu. My good friend Emer. Prof. Datuk Dr. Noramly had already declared that he is going to look after the goodies at the Base camp. He did not have the legs to climb the second highest mountain in Sabah.

4. Then there is the Sungai Sedim, Kedah scientific expedition organised by the Department of Forestry Peninsular Malaysia and Forestry Department of Kedah. Sungai Sedim is a recreational forest with chalets and canopy walkway. Tentatively it is going to be on 19-23 October 2009 but I'm asking for a postponement to the following week.

5. Then in November, the Academy Science Malaysia possibly with PERHILITAN is going to organise an expedition to Gunung Benom, Pahang. I have been informed by Emer. Prof. Dr. H S Yong, the last time a scientific group went up there was in the 1960s. The late Dr. T. C. Whitmore climbed up there too. I read a paper on a quadrat survey of mosses published as a result of that expedition.