Sunday, January 31, 2010

On Zaib Ibrahim's "I, too, am Malay

1. I just finished reading this paper bag book which was written by a Kelantanese Malay lawyer cum politician. I was recommended to get this and read and I did without regrets. It was a beautifully written by a man who gave some thoughts about everything around him.

2. In the book some things struck me . He mentioned his friends and classmates whom I also knew; Dr. Nik Ismail Nik Daud, my colleague at UKM; Tan Sri Nik Ismail Mohamad, an ex Airforce chief and Dato' Nik Nasarudin Wan Mahmood, ex MACRES boss. I knew these people when they were in Form 3 at the Sultan Ismail College, Kota Bharu. Zaid spent three years in my alma mater.

3. He mentioned about Tok Awang whom I also remembered when I was young. This man went around Kota Bharu town shouted,"What cat shit Independence, I can have my nasi berlauk breakfast" As Zaid said the message was clear ....what kind of Independence in 1957 had we achieved if we could not feed this man with a cheap but good nasi berlauk Nak Nah? Of course Zaid failed to mention Mat Tok Pek, Tok Wali Saad, these gentlemen were also illustrous.

4. Zaid lamented a lot on what it takes to be independent and progressive Malaysians devoid of corruption, freedom, liberty, integrity, greed, intolerant etc. He also talked about religion in particular Islam citing a couple of verses from Quraan, hadiths and sunnahs.

5. He argued Malaysia would be a different nation had we practices some good governance based of our secular constitution, had we not put up a borad that read,"Ini satu lagi projek Barisan nasional". He criticised many past and present leaders at the same time he respected them for what they are. He had wanted them to have more self integrity and less corrupt. he has wanted more professional civil servants, police force etc.

6. He had wanted the present generation of students to be better educated in schools and universities. Here I agreed totally with him on the present quality of teachers and lecturers. He didn't believe in party politic patronage as we have been observed in many years now. I think I will stop here, go and get a copy of it and read it. Cheers

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A weekly activities

1. Two days ago one of my old friends commented that I apperaed busy or pretended to be busy as he couldn't contact me and advised me to take thing easy as I am not young anymore and also on contract with the university. I told him I have not been busy it was just that I have lost his handphone number hence didn't answer his call. Anyway, I told him to read my blog to know my weekly schedules. Herewith I put down my daily activities for this week.

0900-1200 hr Lectures on Economic botany
1230-1330 hr Has tuna sandwich at delifrance
1420-1820 hr Finalising a paper of Sphaeropteris arjae to be resent to Blumea

0930-1140 hr Meeting of Arus Perdana research grant
1330-1640 hr Meeting at bank Negara, KL - no lunch

0800-0900 hr To clinic for blood and urine test
0900-0930 hr Breakfast of pau kacang at Sri Serdang
1400-1600 hr Lectures on Seed plant families
1640-1750 hr BoT Meeting of Orang Utan Island Foundation at Damansara Perdana

0900-1200 hr Lectures on conservation biology
1400-1820 hr Finalising two papers for Malaysian Forester

0930-1100 hr School meeting
1100-1200 hr Lecture of Seed plant families
1500-1750 hr Special WWF Exco meeting at Kelana Jaya

0800-0930 hr In office
1000- 1300 hr Biology Task Force Meeting at ASM K Lumpur
1700-1820 hr Went for acupuncture treatment

0830-1100 hr Special lecture at UPM
1100-1340 hr In office
1430-1700 hr Officiate a seminar on Dinar Emas at UKM

2. So my dear friend that is my last week's activities. Not that busy but manageable and I enjoyed every hour of it. Basically the next week 25-31 Jan would be very similar.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Comments on Malaysian Naturalist

1. Today I received an email from Prof. Emer. Datuk Dr. Noramly Muslim who alerted me to two interesting things, namely The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and an International Committee of Taxonomits announced the top 10 new species in 2008.

2. On the list is a pea-sized sea-horse, Hippocampus satomiae, whose length is 13.8 cm which was discovered near Derawan island off kalimantan, Indonesia by Ms Satomi Onishi (hence satomiae). Also a gigantic new palm, Tahina spectabilis, found in a small area of Madagascar. Others include a tiny snake of ca. 104 mm, a small insect from Malysia of ca. 56.7 cm, a twisted snail etc.

3. In the latest Malaysian Naturalist 63(2) which I received today are a few interesting feature articles that include:
a) the caterpillar of the butterfly that has been eating the young foliage of my Cycas clivicola, called Chilades pandava. Thank you Arthur Chung for the information.
b) A tribute to Prof. dr. Kamarudin Mat Salleh submitted by Sonny Lim
c) In memory of Triple H whom I firest met during the Endau-Rompin Scientific Expedition
d) Maliau Basin
e) Mobilising civil society and private sector to address climate change by my schhol mate Dr. Martin Abraham, a one -time thin long-distance runner.
f) Mapping the impacts of climate change by Mr. M Loganathan
g) The itchy moth, Toxoproctis hemibathes that became a celebrity in Labis, Johore some times ago by Dr. Norela Sulaiman et al.
h) Cabomba furcata that has been infesting the water body of Tasik Chini, made famous by Prof. Dato' Dr. Musrifah Idris
i) Five-horned beetle Eupatorus whose species are in peril

Sunday, January 17, 2010

On Climate Change and Biodiversity

1. In June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro the political leaders and scientists discussed climate change at the convention and in 2002 they did again at Johanesburg. Mr Al Gore wrote a book and did a documentary on it and yet there are so many sceptics about the issue.

2. For Malaysia which does not have melting snow caps and whose temperature remains almost constant everyday and everyweek the common people find it almost difficult to comprehend about climate change. Although in the last decade the weather, the flood, the drought have been playing havoc ...are they due to climate change?

3. I was informed by orthinologists like Dr. Pan of FRIM that lowland and open-country birds have been observed on higher grounds especially at Gunung Jerai. Somehow these species sensed the temperature at higher altitude is similar to theri habitat at lower altitude. I have been informed there awas a study just published in foreign journal that moths at Gunung Kinabalu have been ascending some hundreds of meters higher ....again these lepidopterans must have sensed similar change of temperature.

4. For plants, I argued, it is not easy to monitor the upward distribution of the tropical lowland species as their diaspores are not dispersed upwards. Perhaps the diaspores of lowland ferns and bryophytes are being dispersed by warmer air current to higher altitudes. For ecologists it is so challenging to monitor the changes in mangrove and peat swamp forests composition to detect possible impacts of climate change on biodiversity.

5. The base-line data for the plants are available requires some students of MS and PhD to monitor the possible changes like that of the birds and moths. I proposed the 50-ha plots at Pasoh, Lambir and the recent one at Danum could be the filed labs for this kind of investigation. We need some funds and guide-lines to implement this.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On Avatar

1. Last Saturday my daughter Qistina insisted me to go and see the 3D movie called Avatar directed by the same man who did Titanic some years ago and initially I hesitated as I realised that it is about of descent of diety to earth in incarnate form. As I watched the epic Titanic, my son Razlan also recommended it as he earlier watched a 2D version. I hesitated as it would be about incarnation. Nevertheless I obliged both of them, including my son-in-law Enol.

2. Much to my surprise it was a great movie as I forgot about the incarnation but what I did remember were:
a) How arrogant the people from the sky who came in with their tanks, robots and sophisticated weapons to attack the tree and the forests. They behaved almost like the Americans who invaded Iraq some years ago to get the oil. Here the people from the sky were to steal the precious metals underneath the forests. When the Americans were in Vietnam they were as arrogant displaying their chemical weapons, big guns and yet they were defeated by the Viet Congs.
b) How beautiful were the seeds of the sacred trees, depicting the seeds of grasses among the extant angiosperms. The pappus of Gramineae are almost like that blown softly by the breeze to germinate in some remote areas.
c) How beautiful were the gigantic fungi which retracted on touch just like the touch-me-nots, Mimosa pudica. How elegant were the aroids with gigantic leaves that supported the fallen hero from above. How beuatuful were the flowers and leaves and aerial roots that had wanted Tarzan to use them
d) How fantastic were the hanging hills and mountains and the birds, tiger-like creatures, hyena-like predators etc. However, there were no land dinosaurs otherwise my grandson Ilyas is going to like the movie. There were no boas, pythons and anacondas!
e) How could Homo sapiens the so-called intelligent beings try to destroy the beautiful forests which are so important to the long-pleated-haired with tails beings? The forests were their souls and lives.

3. The computers did wonders to the movie. However, my daughter compalined a 2.5 hour in 3D glasses made her suffered from headache. I did not as I really enjoyed the movie. Congratulations to Mr. Cameron whose movie had made 1.7 billion yesterday.

Monday, January 11, 2010

On Murders

1. Today I read a news item in New Straits Times p. 23 that reports on the possibility Michael Jackson being "murdered" by his personal physician Dr. Conrad Murray who negligently treated MJ that caused an acute propofo intoxication.

2. Several years ago we were informed that the greedy Brazilians "murdered" the trees and other components of biodiversity in the Amazon Basin to make way for the expansion of agriculture and farms to feed the poor Brazilians.

3. The Malaysians and Thais and possibly other nationals "murdered" tigers, pangolins, monitor lizards, cobras, aloewoods, turtles and other animals to feed the greedy and rich people overseas.

4. Almost every year the Indonesians "murdered" peat swamp forests and their biodiversity releasing massive PM10 acroos her boundries choking some innocent Malaysians and Sinaporeans with haze.

5. The fish breeders and farmers introduced many exotic species into our rivers and lake thus "murdering" innocent indigenous freshwater species. Like-wise Acacia mangium is also "murdering" other local tree species.

6. The Bush and Blair peoples went to Iraq and Afghanistan to "murder" the innocent people there with various chemicals and gun powders all in the pretext of democracy. Like-wise the suicide bombers also took turn to "murder" the innocent Americans.

7. Lately, the terrorusts tried to "murder" the Togo team members who wanted to take part in African Cup. Emmanuel Adebayor decided to go home to Togo and rejoin Manchester City to plat safe football.

8. So, what are we talking about the muder of MJ?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My comments on mock turtles

1. I would like to wish all my friends and readers of my blog a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Some people say as 2010 is the year of the tiger (panthera tigris) it is a new and roaring beginning and a new start for a journey for another 365 days before we all come to another new year to be called 2011.

2. In my first posting for the year 2010 I would like to share with you all the content of Nature : 423 : 219-220 entitled, "Mock turtles". It is a must read for all the taxonomic students and those interested in taxonomy and conservation.

3. In the 1980s descriptions of many new species of freshwater and land turtles of China and Southeast Asia emerged in prestigous journals written by some well-known biologists. China Red Data Book of Endangered Animals put 4 of them for wildlife conservation.

4. One taxonomic student James Parham and his associate Haitao Shi from Hainan University went into private investigations and found out that one was a possible new species (Cuora mccordii), 3 were previously described elsewhere and 6 were probably hybrids.

5. The points are, firstly the scientists didn't know that those were hybrids produced by breeders in China, supplied the innocent specimens to the Americans Veterinarian by one Malaysian and one Hong Kong's dealers. Innocently or otherwise, the biologists described them as new. Secondly, the investigators claimed some funds already were spent to conserve these rare and endangered turtles, not knowing there were hundreds or thousands in Chinese farms for sale. Thirdly, it took another two biologist to unravel the mystries via DNA and genetic analyses . This is pure taxonomy!

6. In those times, James Parham met with resistance and attacks from the professional taxonomists and the scientific fraternity, including an invitation to participate in a workshop was withdrawn. Now the journals which published those papers conducted some inquiries of their publications and about the dealer-supplied specimens to determine "if any fraudulent or illegally gathered data were unwittingly published".

7. Could this also had happened in the botanical world, especially in Orchidaceae, Palmae, Zingiberaceae and Araceae, among the most prized ornamental plants? That I knew were some new species of plants were described ex night markets, ex botanical gardens ex private collections and probably ex botanical piracy!