Wednesday, June 30, 2010

When You Are 62

1. Some 62 years ago at about 0908 hr on this date I was born to a coconut tapper father and a housewife in the village of Parang Puting, Pengkalan Chepa, Kota Bharu, Kelantan. Being the first born in the family I was pampered like any other child to spoil my later adulthood. I was told by my late grandmother that my late uncle Pak Teh Hussin would not leave the house to go to work without seeing me in my sleep. It was only after seeing my innocent face that he cycled to work. However, my late grandfather didn't tell me what my late father did before he went out to do his chores.

2. I was spoiled from my childhood until my adulthood by members of my family. I gathered that was the way the last generation showered their love. Of course when my sister Latifah born in June 1952 and my cousin Eshah born in 1953, the close family attention went to these girls.

3. I started schooling in January 1955 at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Parang Puting which is situated on the road from Kota Bharu to Sabak at the 6.5 milestone. I remembered thefirst school very well; the walls were made up of bamboo, the roofs of nipah attaps and the floor is bare sand. I could not remember whether I had shoes or not, if I had they surely became dirty of mud which we called the Malayan snow. I used to carry one slate board and one slate pencil to school on which I wrote every subject matter from arithmatic to religious studies. I was quite good in school coming 5th in Standard One and from Standard 2-5 on top of the class.

4. I took the Special Malay Examination in 1958 hoping to enter the English school in Kota Bharu in 1959. I came out 4th in Kota Bharu District 4 and was posted to Merbau English School where I stayed until December 1961. In January 1962 I enrolled at the Sultan Ismail College and studied there until I completed Upper Six Science in December 1968. In the school I was a little active playing some games, though didn't excel in any; was a school prefect, president of Interact Club and Deputy President of Science & Mathematics Society. The president of the latter was Wee Chan Hock.

5. I entered the Faculty of Science, University of Malaya in May 1969 without knowing what to do. I did economics, chemistry, biology A and biology B in the first year; eliminated economic in the second year; and did all biology in the third year. In the final or Honours year I specialised in botany .....and botany I professed until to-day when I am 62

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Gunung Benom Scientific Seminar

1. On Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th most of those participants who took part in the Gunung Benom Scientific Expedition in November 2009, met to discuss their findings at J. W. Marriott Hotel, Putrajaya. The Seminar was officially opened by YBhg Dato' Azmi Che Mat, Deputy Secretary General, Ministry of natural resources & Environment on behalf of the Minister. Most of the seminar participants were young scientists and this augurs well for the future of Malaysian biodiversity.

2. There were two keynote addresses, on the first morning we had The Deputy Director-General PERHILITAN YBerusaha Pn Misliah speaking about the coming activities and mission of the Department of Wildlife & National park and on the second morning YBhg Prof. dato' Ibrahim Komoo of Academy of Sciences Malaysia who spoke about the role of ASM in organising scientific expeditions.

3. Altogether a total of 29 papers were presented covering topics like water quality of streams in the expedition area, geology of Gunung Benom, the flora and fauna of Gunung Benom, the Orang Asli of Krau and the ecotourism potential of the area.

4. I talked about the issues of connectivity of Krau Wildlife reserve in which Gunung Benom is situated on the north-western boundary of the game reserve. I realised this patch of wildlife reserve which is extremely rich in biodiversity is separated from the Banjaran Titiwangsa, which forms the core of the Central Forest Spine in Peninsular Malaysia. I personally believe that it is still possible to create and establish the forest corridors between these.

5. Among the significant findings were (a) A new record of Trichosanthes emarginata (Cucurbitaceae) for Peninsular Malaysia in Krau, discovered and collected by Datuk Seri C. K. Lim, a species 10 years ago was described by Dr. Rugayah (BO) from Sumatera, (b) A new record of gigantic earthworm for Peninsular Malaysia on Gunung Benom by Ms Tan, tentatively identified as Pheretima darnleinensis, a species that was discovered in Australia and 5 years ago recorded from Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah. It may be a new species! (c), Two new records of frogs, Hylarana siberu and Theloderma licin for Krau. The former was first described from Pulau Siberut, Indonesia and the latter was described from Weng, Kedah. (d) There are other new records for the mosses and possibly many new species of beetles yet to be identified.

6. After a panel discussion on the Gunung Benom and Krau ably chaired by Prof. Mohd. Shaffea Leman of UKM, the seminar was offically closed by a representative of ASM. the panel consists of Haji Mohd. Nawayai Yasak (PERHILITAN), YBhg Dato Dino Sharma (WWF Malaysia), En. Salleh Daim (UiTM) and a representative of the Krau community.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gunung Belumut Forest Biodiversity

1. Last week, on the 1-2nd June 2010 more than 60 scientists and forestry officers met and discussed the findings of the Gunung Belumut Scientific Expedition organised on 10-14 August 2009, in a seminar held at Johor Bahru. It was officially opened by Johor Exco, a member of State Legislative Assemby from Paloh. On the night of opening ceremony we were entertained with various shades of zapin, a portpouri of traditional dances, originated from Persia but made popular in Johor. A total of 28 scientific papers were presented.

2. The papers covered forest management, ecotourism, water quality, flora, fauna, and the Orang Asli communities. It was reported that more than 60,000 people per year visited the Recreational Forest there and this augurs very well for the state of Johor which attempt to lure the Singaporeans across. There is a possibility of a new species of Scaphochlamys (Zingiberaceae) being described from the area; 11 new records of mosses were made and several other records of both the flora and fauna.

3. Many findings of great significance to the heritage of Johor were recorded and discussed. Among them are (a) the conservation and survival of the populations of Paphiopedlim barbatum which is iconic for Gunung Belumut, (b) four new records of orchids including Corybas carinatus and Anoectochilis, (c) the rare and important Hopea johoriensis, Androtium astylum, Kopsia teoi, Dichapetalum griffithii and Croton kelantanicus.

4. The productivity of the forest at Gunung Belumut whaih was presented by Dr. Mohd. Nizam et al. at 498.44 t/ha; an area of 0.5 ha support more than 772 tree species, H = 4.58 and a possible carbon stock of 289 t/ha

5. The seminar was officially closed by State Forestry Director, Hj. Yahya bin Mahmood.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

On the record by Abdullah Ahmad II

1. At last I finished reading this book, in between reading the biography of Mahatma Ghandi, chapter 4 of Kwek's MS thesis, Samsudin Musa PhD thesis, manuscripts on Rafflesia lawangensis, Folia malaysiana, a MS theses from UPM and USM and others. I wished I could do speed reading, but you can't apply sped reading to reading the thesis.

2. I saluted Abdullah Ahmad's clarity in expressing his dislikes of Western Press especially Newsweek, when these media attacked Malaysia and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. I am as patriotic as Tan Sri, and I would do anything to defend my beloved country and also my beloved state, my beloved town and of course the village of Parang Puting where my blood was shed. But many a time I asked myself if my country and my Prime Minister were not wrong, why would these media did what they did. Of course tan Sri already explained the intention of these media.

3. Coming close to home I would have said the similar things to The New Straits Times, The Star, Utusan Malaysia, Harakah and other tabloids because these local media have quite similar intentions, right or wrong. At times I felt the editors and sub-editors and reporters were a bunch of "idiots" but then I think I understood their intentions as guided by their bosses and owners. After all journalism is a hypocritic arts and journalists are hypocrites.

4. However, I am so proud that Tan Sri expressed his thoughts and ideas in excellent English, very articulate and easy to understand. After all he was a former journalist, diplomat, politician, editor and etc. I had a couple of times spoken to him in person and I admired his philosophies and straight-forward ideas though too biased for his former boss, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, whom I perceived as committed some mistakes as politician.

5. In the last few records he did not minced his thoughts about his dislikes of Kelantan's MB Dato' Nik Aziz, Dato' Sri Anuwar Ibrahim, PAS, Islamic terrorism, western media and Mr Bush. I thought it was fair because Tan Sri had seen most and heard most, but how I wish he was more fair and balanced in his treatments of those who had been "damaged" by NST and all the TV stations especially during the elections.