Thursday, September 24, 2015

11th Borneo International Kite Festival (Pt.1)

Location : Old Bintulu Airport
Date taken : 24 Sept'15
Visitor to the festival
playing kite at the sideline.
This year is the 11th time the Borneo International Kite Festival is held at Bintulu.  The festival is becoming a major domestic tourism product that attracts vast crowds of local tourists or visitors  from surrounding regions especially the divisions of Sibu, Miri, Mukah and even Brunei.  As a destination marketing event the festival have over the years brought in international kite flyers from faraway countries like Brazil, France, Japan and many other foreign nationals.  The festival has placed Bintulu on the world map of kite flying destinations.  This year the festival is stretched over 5 days starting from the 23rd of September.
Kite flyers from Japan playing the 'wasp' kites
23 Sept'15

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

In the year 2013, an ecopreneur I became

A nature park in Bintulu 
Fresh Cempedak taken
In the year 2013, an ecopreneur I became.  Is there a time in your life that you can have the greatest fun doing what you love?  I have, and that happened in 2013 when I decided to call my eco-farm in Bintulu - the Kambatik Park.  It is the culmination of my strengths in landscaping, writing, photography, wildlife, aesthethics, planning, entrepreneurship, healthy life style, and passion in plants and life-long learning.  Here I build an eco-model for the cultivation of oil palm.  The sub-heading of the Kambatik Park's blog reads:" A private nature park developed by MOOD based on the principles of ecological diversity, oil palm integrated agro-forestry practices and Kambatik landscape design philosopohy and aesthethics".  You don't have to visit the park to experience it.  Making use of internet  technology I blogged on the development and happenings at the park for the whole world to see.  It has been more than two years since  and the story and discoveries keep on coming.  My ultimate vision is to see the model adopted along the 1000 km length of Sarawak trunk road such that it become a chain of 'kambatik park', the longest nature parkland  developed by rural entrepreneurs in Sarawak.
Sarawak - you are just so beautiful.

Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

( This is the 13th and final posting for my writing contribution on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as a way for me to celebrate Malaysia Day this year, 2015)

An oil palm tree planted 4 years ago (2011)  and bearing fruits...
Zone C.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

In the year 2008, a blogger I became

In the study with Inul, 13 Sept'15.
Closing in the one
million mark!
In the year 2008, a blogger I became.  It is a hobby, a pastime, a passion and a part-time job that has become more or less a permanent occupation. It has been seven years and I haven't stopped blogging.   In the early 2000's internet slowly crept into the towns of Sarawak.  By 2005 the reception around Sarawak town was fairly decent but a few kilometer radius outside town the internet is erratic and unreliable.  After 2005, the internet traffic in most town in Sarawak got jammed.  The internet service could not keep up with new applications like facebook, twitter, blogger, watsapp and instagram that snapped the internet highway of available space as the younger generation using smartphones become major users of the internet.   Despite all these challenges the telcos especially Celcom literally give up on improving their service.  So blogging was affected greatly in Sarawak especially in sub-urban and rural areas. Now, when I blog I'll have to face this reality.  One picture would take one hour to upload.  Therefore, blogging is a test of patience, passion and priority in life.  Today, I have time to check on my blogging activities and I found out that my blogs have in total garnered  823,982 page views (see inset) ....and counting.  I guess by the end of this year I'll hit the million mark.  Carry on blogging Sarawak!

Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

(Note: This is the 12th  post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)

Today's blogging  surprise .  Can you see four Tiong birds amidst the leaves?
'Tiong ' (Malay) or Hill Myna birds normally appear in a pair.  Today it's a crowd.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

In the year 1985, an AGM I became

Group photo with participants of a landscaping course organised by BDA, in front of BDA Building, Jalan Somerville, Bintulu, 1990.
My office at BDA Building,
Jalan Somverville.
In the year 1985, an AGM I became.  The AGM or Assistant General Manager of BDA (Bintulu Development Authority ) post covers a few portfolios.  The main divisions under my responsibility were low-cost housing, landscaping, PR and tourism, land matters and resettlement lots, administration and  legal.  The AGM post really kept me occupied and very busy in the various roles especially in laying the foundation stones for making Bintulu a beautiful tropical garden city of the future especially roadside planting, green lungs, and recreational parks,  construction of low-cost housing for new migrants to the booming town, removal and resettlement of squatters, promotion of Bintulu as a investment profit centre and the construction of tourism related projects like golf course, wildlife park and chalets at Similajau national park.  Sometime in 1991 I was interviewed by New Straits Time journalist Ahmad A. Talib  about my work in BDA and Bintulu (see news cutting below).   The interview says it all.  I feel I have done a great deal for my hometown and I hope others will continue on with the show.  Make Bintulu a beautiful, prosperous and friendly industrial city 2020.

Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

( Note: This is the 11th  post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)

In the year 1981, an artist I became

The Digital era 2012 and beyond
To see more of my works and adventres in art online, please follow the links below:

Batik pieces for sale,
early 2000's
In the year 1981, an artist I became.  It has been a long journey and it is not going to stop.  There is however a very important milestone in my passion for art.  It was in Kuching, Sarawak that I decided to celebrate my love for art and poetry in one exhibition.  I organised an exhibition never seen before in the capital city.  In the exhibition, my paintings were displayed together with other poetry works of mine. The poems were stenciled, drawn and and some recorded and the readings played as background sound and music for visitors to the exhibition.  The exhibition was a real success thanks to the great help of my artist friends in Kuching and the Sarawak Museum which provided the exhibition space. My adventures in art started very early while I was in lower secondary school in Bintulu (1963-1966), however it was at Tanjung Lobang College (1967 -1970) that my art training received a firm foundation.  In the 70's I was busy doing further studies at Pulau Pinang but continued to put some of my artistic talents to good use in making shadow play puppets, a minor option I took.  In the university years I found great escape in doing pen sketches of myself in different moods.  In the 80's I concentrated on making batik works which were mainly for sale. In the 1990's I did a few abstracts and this trend continued into the 2000's .  My abstract paintings have one very important thing in common.  The paints I used were left overs which I recycled in the form of abstract works.  When the Internet arrived and the digital age is here to stay, I toyed around with digital art which I called 'rendart' or art rendered digitally.  I am blessed to have acquired the skills of an artist to interpret the world around me and which has made me feel  'an artist at heart'.  Art is a need and I am most satisfied when I can express myself to fill the need  intuitively, intellectually and culturally.

Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

( Note: This is the 10th  post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)

1981 - First Solo Art and Poetry Exhibition , at Sarawak Museum, Kuching.
My artist friends and lovers of art who assisted in organising the exhibition.
Exhibition booklet for the first solo exhibition, 15 -17 October,1981.
This booklet is kept by the Library of Congress, follow the link below:-*&searchType=0&recCount=25&sk=en_US
As a young artist at Tanjung Lobang Beach, Miri. 1968.
At Tanjung Lobang College I received a firm foundation in Art.

At my first solo exhibition in 1981.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

In the year 1973, a historian I became

Penang in 1846, watercolour painting by Charles Andrew Dyce
to show mercantile tradition during the early years of Penang Free School

Graduated in 1973, major
In the year 1973, a historian I became.  I got my training at the Universiti Sains Malaysia,  Penang from the years 1971-73.  Upon graduation in 1973 I majored in history.  In 1973 I submitted an essay for the inter-university history writing competition entitled " The Concept of Malaysian National History".  The essay won first place in English section and I received the award signed and handed by the then Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Hussein Onn  in Kuala Lumpur.   My love of history has blossomed ever since and I continued to spread the love of history while in schools where I taught the subject to Form Five students.  While in the Educational Mass Media Service in Kuching I produced a radio programme on history which was broadcasted to schools in Sarawak in the late 70's called "Sejarah".
Over the years I did not write much history especially during the times when I was carrying the business as a contractor.  But once the internet became  more popular in Sarawak in the early 2000's , I began to be active again.  The internet provided the means for me to publish my writing and reach a worldwide audience.  With the new opportunities I started to make a comeback by blogging on history.  The history blogs I created are as follows:
1)  Images of Bintulu before and now
2)  The first 100 years of Penang Free School
3)  My Bintulu History
4)  Open coasts to mountain highs

Sometime in September last year, an article written by Bernama and shared with other news media in Malaysia regarding the changes in Bintulu  referred me as 'Bintulu historian', a title I feel good about .
History writing is a self-driven activity.  Like any other historian my dream is to produce a book on the history of Bintulu especially during its modern or contemporary era.   The process has started with blogging and I hope the printed form will come out soon.

Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

Note: This is the 9th  post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

In the year 2007, a bloom hunter I became

Flowers of the Poui tree (Tabebuia rosea) at Bintulu.

Daily Cut flower in
Kambatik Style
In the year 2007, a bloom hunter I became.  It is my passion for plants and photography that made me indulge in bloom hunting, besides a mission to define the Malaysian garden.   I started my first blog on ‘all the plants’ in June, 2007 and initially used the  Nokia phone camera n93i to capture the images mainly in three shots - CU, MS and LS.  The blog currently is in its fourth edition.  I have set myself on a mission to compile all the plants I encounter or hunt throughout Malaysian towns in my pursuit  for a comprehensive list of plants suitable for the Malaysian garden, which I defined as the Kambatik Garden or 'Laman Kambatik' in Malay.   The list covers the major groups of tropical plants, such as fruits trees, ornamental trees, palms, shrubs, covers, grasses, climbers, aquatic plants and orchids.  The blog on orchids - '4 da love of orchids'  is dedicated to garden enthusiasts, photographers, lovers and bloggers of tropical orchids.  Another relevant blog called 'Daily Cut Flowers' concentrates on floral arrangement using flowers in the Kambatik style.  The blogs covering a span of eight years have received reasonably good response as shown by the page views below: (as at 8 Sept'15)......
1) All the plants ( 1st Ed.) - 54,778 
2) All the plants ( 2nd Ed.) - 31,255
3) Laman Kambatik Plants List ( 3rd Ed.) - 210,558
4) Laman Kambatik Plants List (4th Ed.) - 12,764
5) 4 da love  of orchids - 78,718 
6) Daily Cut Flowers - 15,442
                        Total = 403,515 page views

It is my fervent hope that the name 'Kambatik' will one day be accepted into the Kamus Dewan ( Malay dictionary) as the name to define the Malaysian garden.

Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

(Note: This is the 8th  post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)

Capturing orchids at the Orchid Park, Kuching.

Monday, September 7, 2015

In the year 2005, an MBA I became

Credits: Borneo Post cuttings, May 11,2006.
ln the year 2005, an MBA I became. This feat was achieved in the toughest of conditions.  I have put myself to a  challenge of a lifetime. I decided it's about time to return back to campus life after I left it about thirty years ago.  That decision was made in 2003 when I enrolled myself in a postgraduate course at the Curtin  School of Business. The Campus was located in Lutong, a three hours journey by road from Bintulu. I took the course on part-time basis. That meant lots of sacrifices in terms on my business and family life, time and money.About two decades ago I dreamt of having an MBA, but my workload at the BDA, a statutory body for spearheading the development of Bintulu, was too heavy and my boss would not allow me to do further studies then.  I completed the course within time like other younger students, though I was the oldest in the class.  Lectures and tutorials were held on weekends, Friday - Sunday which meant that I had to rush to Miri in order to sit for the evening class in time. After the Sunday class I would drive back to Bintulu arriving  home before midnight.  This routine was for about two years.  I completed the  course on 5th April, 2005 and was conferred the MBA award by the University Council on the 30th September,2005.
If you put your heart and soul in whatever you want to achieve half of the battle is won.  The rest is just hard work.
Yes, I did it!

Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

(Note: This is the 7th  post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)
This letter says it all.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

In the year 1979, a headmaster I became

Friendly football match between school teachers and members of Bintulu public at the school football field.  I am standing 6th from right (back row)
In the year 1979, a headmaster I became.  It was one of the most challenging times in my life.  For one thing I was given very short notice about the appointment.  Immediately after a midnight fire leveled down the school’s main administrative office - cum staff room, I received a call from the Education Department to see the Director of Education.  I was then working at the Educational Mass Media Office in Kuching.  When I reached headquarters, I was instead directed to a room and met the Deputy Minister of Education Malaysia,  Salleh Jafaruddin.  We had an hour of discussion after which he said, “Tomorrow you go to Bintulu and take over the administration of the school.  The letter of appointment as Headmaster will follow later.”  Upon checking in at the school (which happened to be the school I attended in the 60's)  I found the Headmaster’s office, clerk’s office and the staff room in ashes.  That’s how I started administering the school.  I had no records, no files, no office etc..  That incident meant that all the school records since it started in 1963 turned to ashes. 

 As the principal of SMK Bintulu (Sekolah Menengah Kerajaan Bintulu) or  previously known as BGSS (Bintulu Government Secondary School),   I had to perform many official, semi-official and non-official duties related to the school.   In order to track my daily work schedule and  keep record of the events happening each day, I devised a ‘Travellogue” ( see inset).  Even as the headmaster I find time to mix around with the teachers.  One way was to play football with them.  (see top picture)   Often I would join them in the staff room during morning or afternoon break and night study time, chatting and getting to know them better.  One of the many activities that brought me to town often was to collect mail from the post office, bank in money to the local treasury, visit students in the hospital or attend official meetings with other government departments.  In those days, the school was the main source of "flower girls" and I had teachers responsible to get ready these girls in time and transport them whenever VIP's were to be officially welcomed at the airport.  Being the Principal of the only secondary school in a small town of Bintulu then, the post was a very high profile one.  You get to know people quickly and it worked both ways.  The public would  normally address you as "Cikgu" or teacher.  In Malaysian society being a teacher is one of the most respectable job, not to mention the Headmaster.  I was at the SMK Bintulu for about two years and by the time I finished my five years bond or scholarship contract with the government,  I decided to move into greener pastures and joined a newly formed statutory body specific for Bintulu called BDA ( Bintulu Development Authority) in November, 1980.

Thank you SMK Bintulu for the rare and challenging experience you gave me.

Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

(Note: This is the 6th of my post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)

Arrival of Prime Minister, Hussein Onn at Bintulu Airport.
Note the flower girls in traditional costume.
" Flower girls" from SMK Bintulu

Typed manuscript of Principal's message in the School Magazine, 1980.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

In the year 1978, a broadcaster I became

A Quiz Competition organised by the Educational Radio at the RTM Auditorium in Kuching in 1978.
In the middle of the picture is the Director of Education, flanked by me and Reg Salisbury, an expert in the teaching of English through radio.

At Sibu with two of the
radio producers, 1978.
 In the year 1978, a broadcaster I became.  In my role as head of educational radio for Sarawak, I was assisted by many veteran and senior broadcasters who produced radio programmes for school broadcasts.  There were weekly meetings to be held with RTM regarding  broadcasting schedules and booking of its recording studios.  I had for a year before learnt the craft of broadcasting through an educational broadcasting course organised at the Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang.  Back from the course I was entrusted to improve the utilisation of radio programmes since radio was a cheaper medium to reach the rural students and teachers especially in the teaching of language subjects.   I took the opportunity to visit all the respective divisions in Sarawak to find out first hand the problems encountered in the teaching and learning situations of radio programmes.   Courses were held for teachers in every divisions.  Many years later when I met one of the veteran producers I was somewhat surprised and honoured when he mentioned that throughout  his service with the education department he never had the chance to visit any other place outside Kuching, the capital city.  It was only when I brought him around to conduct the courses that he had the chance to visit the remotest and most urban areas of Sarawak.  That experience to him was one of the most memorable time of his life and had me to thank for.

Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

(Note: This is the 5th of my post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)

With teachers in Miri, 1978.

In the year 1975, a teacher I became

 With students at School Sports Day,  Bintulu Government Secondary School (BGSS) , 1976.
With Rebecca Bana, Head Girl
In the year 1975, a teacher I became.  It was my first posting and lucky me I was sent to my hometown, Bintulu.  As a graduate teacher I taught there for two years after which I was sent to Pulau Pinang to take up a course on educational broadcasting.  The two years spent at BGSS were wonderful years spent with young adults since the school was the only one that enrolled Form 4 and Form 5 students from around the Bintulu area.  I taught History and Bahasa Malaysia subjects.  In 1975,  the teacher composition was a diverse mix of nationalities (see picture below) - Chinese, Malay, British, Indian, Iban and Melanau.  As a young man and teacher, my time was very much occupied with extra-mural activities.  I was involved in the Music and Singing Club and was appointed as Teacher-in-charge of the School Library.  I trained the students in children's drama, playing the guitar and supervised them during work parties.  During school sports day all teachers were kept busy with the organisation of the sporting events because as a tradition the school would invite the town population to watch their children participate in the various field events.  In 1976, I was a proud owner of a Yamaha trail bike, the first ever to be seen on Bintulu roads and used it to go to school, picnics and scrambling along Bintulu beaches.  Even though the time spent teaching was brief, it was filled with rich memories, happiness and the rare chance to help students in many aspects of their  personal growth and educational up bringing.

Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

(Note: This is the 4th of my post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)
Morning Session teachers in a group photograph.  Father Harry, the headmaster is seated fifth from right( front row).  I am second from right (back row).  Photo taken in 1975.

Group photo with the school librarians.  I am at center (front row) as
Teacher -in-charge of School Library, 1976. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

In the year 1972, a bassist I became

As a Bassist in the USM or Universiti Sains Malaysia ( University of Science Malaysia) in Pulau Pinang in 1972. I am third from right .
Singing " Loving Her wa Easier" at BDA Anuual Dinner, 28 May,1987.
The accompanying band was called "Cakerawala" from Sibu.

In the year 1972, a bassist I became.  I was a young man full of life, hopes and aspirations.  To be a bassist in the university's pop band was something beyond belief.  It was by coincidence that the band was just formed and the band's leader by the name of Zainal was my coursemate.  He invited me to be the bassist which I agreed to even though my preference was to be a rhytmist.  Those days the band used to perform in the student's lounges and  open concerts in the unviersity compounds.  Needless to say my stage act has brought me many admirers and fans.  I still can recall many instances when years later the girls who graduated from the university  fondly recalled my version of "Rain" which I sang solo at the Chancellory open concert.  That song captivated many of them and really fell in love with the song the way I sang it and played it on the classical guitar.  My love of guitar and singing continued even after campus life.
 In 1975, I taught a few of the Form 4 and Form 5 boys of the BGSS (Bintulu Government Secondary School) to play guitar and sing for the main purpose of forming the first school band. To excite them further I rented a full set of electric guitars and drums from a local band called "The Rainbow".  The students were elated and very enthusisistic for the experience of playing the electric guitars, a novetly then.  Such was my interest in developing the students in their creative pursuits that many of them in their adult life fondly recalled the songs I taught them and the experience of playing in a pop band conveniently abbreviated as  "Kugiran" to mean in Malay ' kumpulan gitar rancak'.  In 1987,  I relished tremendously the magic moment on stage when I  sang the song " Loving Her was Easier" to a packed audience at the BDA Annual Dinner.  The VVIP at the dinner was the Chief Minster of Sarawak, Taib bin Mahmud.  There are many creative pursuits that form my personality but guitars and singing will always be in the top list of my favourites pastime.

Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

Form 4 and Form 5 boys of the BGSS on the school stage with electric guitars - a novelty then - 1975.

(Note: This is the 3rd of my post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

In the year 1967, an actor I became

1969 as the
Government  Inspector

In the year 1967, an actor I became.  I mean how at the fragile age of 16 would I be so interested in joining the Drama Club while studying Form Four at  Tanjong Lobang School, Miri?  We set a wonderful tradition for the school by producing an English drama every year for the school as well as the  Miri public’s  enjoyment from 1967 -1969.  The school’s principal, Mr. Robert Nichol was an ardent lover of drama and in fact wrote or adapted a few of the plays himself.  The most well-known was the play “The Government Inspector” which made me famous  for my role as the, guess what? – the Government Inspector.  For many years later I when I bumped into many ex-Tanjong students they could vividly remember the night of the play when I had the audience in stitches.  I love acting for many reasons but mainly for the confidence-building, social interactions, disciplined training and a tool to improve one’s English.  The plays I took part during my Tanjong days were; ‘The Government Inspector”, “ Pillars of the Community”, “Charley’s Aunt” and “ Tamu di Bukit Kenny” (Malay drama). 

Years down the road, in 1975 while a teacher at the Bintulu Government Secondary School or Sekolah Menengah Kerajaan Bintulu, I produced a children’s theatre called “Dewi Bunga” in Bahasa Malaysia.  The play was performed at the school’s stage to much amazement of the audience who never had  seen a drama or play in which humans assumed  the characters of animals and plants.  I was so driven to stage the play that it did not matter that most of the expenses were borne by me.  I just had to make it happen.
I would expect that today , in my adult life, in this new millennium, there would be more plays staged in Bintulu or other towns in Sarawak for the public to see.  Alas, this is not the scenario.  In this respect the town has not build up a cultural life that can contribute ‘ soul ‘ to the town or city of the future.  We have laid down the foundations, and would love to see newer generations continue with a good tradition.
Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

Charley's Aunt - list of actors and roles
Performers and officials from Tanjong Lobang College in a group photograph.  Date: 31 May, 1969.
The concert was named "Malam Lagu dan Drama", organised by the members of the college's Muslim League .
In the drama "Tamu di Bukit Kenny" I took the role of Bang Man.  The tall figure in the middle at the back row is our principal, Mr. Robert Nichol.

A Children Theatre entitled " Dewi Bunga" perfomed by students of Sekolah Menengah Kerajaan Bintulu in 1975.
The play was opened for the public as well as students to enjoy.

A page from my dairy..1969
(Note: This is the 2nd of my post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)