Monday, November 28, 2011

Sham & Hassan

We were at a wedding reception of a friend’s daughter at Muadzam Shah, Pahang on Saturday, November 26, 2011.  We, means the husband, youngest daughter (Wan Nur Aiman) and yours truly.  Faiz was supposed to join us but a last minute miscommunication over his leave, left us with no choice but to leave without him.  He will be home alone over the weekend and a few days after as we planned on driving to Terengganu and Kelantan after the Muadzam function.  Hope the flood will not be in our way.
Muadzam is over 3 hours away and to be at such a faraway function drew some questions from my daughter.  The place is just too far away for a kenduri and she didn’t want to be disconnected from her friends, especially her web friends.  At 13 she is too young to be home alone and we insisted in her coming along in spite her resistance.  While explaining Aiman the need for us to be at this reception, I think it is best that I share this bonding that I have with Sham and Hassan, the parents of the bride.
It happened years ago (1984?) when I was at CIMB UPM (it was then Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Bhd [BBMB]) doing some financial transaction with Zaharah, a very close friend.  We bumped into Hassan and Izham.  Hassan was to leave for his PhD on a scholarship somewhere in the States.  While congratulating him for the scholarship award, we jokingly commented on what a waste it was for him to be going alone.  Hassan was still a bachelor then and shyly deflected our comments.  Should he go with a family, all expenses will be paid for with a family allowance to top.
Driving back to the office I commented to Zaharah that Sham would be a nice candidate for Hassan.  Sham was then a teacher assistant to our preschool children.  I know Zaharah’s child (Hasniza) and my children (Shaida & Nazim) adored her and were never happier at the pre-school.  Sham came from a respectable family with a strong religious foundation.  Zaharah was in agreement.  Zaharah is a person of action (she still is!).  She knew Hassan well as she was staying with a mutual friend close to Hassan while studying in the UK.  She suggested that Sham be introduced to Hassan.  We hatched out a plan to drive to the pre-school during an afternoon lunch break, called Sham out to the gate to talk about some school matters.  Hassan was to make his observation from inside the car and no way was he to show himself.  But I made the mistake of switching off the car engine (it was more of a sub-conscious action to take the ignition key upon leaving the car) thus the air-conditioning.  No way was it possible for Hassan to remain in the oven hot car.  He sheepishly extracted himself from the car showing himself.  Sham was obviously curious asking us who he was.  We told her half truth, a friend joining us for lunch.  It remained at that and we soon excused ourselves to go for the said lunch.  Barely 500 m away Hassan surprised us both, “OK, she is the one!” announcement.  I turned to Zaharah and both of us were just too shocked for any comments.  This is too good to be true.  Then the three of us burst out laughing.  You can’t remain a 35 year old bachelor and make that consent at an instant.  Now we (Zaharah and I) began to have our doubts.  Nevertheless we told Hassan to do it proper and have the families involved.  We’ll be there for referral.
From there on things went lightening speed.  Hassan went home to Johore telling about his new find to his family.  They were equally dumbfounded but were relieved that Hassan finally found his to-be soul mate.  Izham was ecstatic thanking us for doing what he had been trying to make Hassan commit to for years since.  We made a mention of the happenings to Sham’s sister, a close office friend.

To cut the story short, Hassan and Sham were soon engaged and married in time for them to depart for the US together.  I believed they went to Urbana-Champagne.  Later we had news of a child being born, Faizah, the bride at the reception that we went to.  We got to meet Sham again when they were back home from the States.  By then apart from Faizah we were also introduced to Syukri and Hanif. Last count they had eight children.  There’ll be seven more trips for us to Muadzam but I am not complaining.  I am happy for the family and I cannot but feel to be part of them.
Our congratulations to Faizah & Zaki.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

All you need to do is ASK

When in need, a friend advised me to do the simplest, "ASK".  We applied this advice today in seeking out the sub-lot owner neighbouring ours.  First a trip to the local (Kajang) land office.  When showed the land title we were told that there had been some revision of the district boundary. We were directed to the neighbouring district land office (Sepang).  The Kajang Land Office counter clerk was helpful enough to provide us the document reference number.  It's really a reference to a super big registration book!

Armed with the information we directed our search to the Sepang Land Office.  At a lost, we made enquiries at the payment counter where we were directed to the registration counter.  With the file reference offered by the Kajang Land Office, the clerk disappeared for a brief 5 minutes.  Would you believe it, she came back with an address of just the person we are looking for?  Just pray that this person is the one who owns the sub-lot neighbouring us.  We hope to make a quick dash to the address provided.

Who said that government servants are not at all helpful?  All one need to do is ASK.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dreamed Kitchen Garden

An achievement.  One day into my pre-retirement leave, we (between my husband and me) got something done.  See, we have been eyeing this empty neighbouring sub-lot for sometimes.  We have moved into this place for over 6 years and not once did we meet our 'neighbour'.  Our property is on a shared lot, the empty lot is really a sub-lot among the many.  Development had taken place all around us but this sub-lot remained vacant.

We knew of a friend who keeps tabs of the sub-lot owners.  We managed to get his number from another friend.  The tracking goes and several phone calls later we were directed to an address, 20 minutes away.  He has the land title document (land grant) for the lot and after making a photocopy for himself he handed us the original.  I never know of a person who is so easy and willing to part with such an important document, knowing that he is also a part owner.  Hopefully with the title in hand, we'll be able to track our neighbour to negotiate for the purchase of this long 'abandoned' sub-lot. 

Should this transfer become a reality, we planned turning that piece into a kitchen garden and playing area for the grandchildren to romp.  We have four of them now with another on the way.

The Lost IP

For an R&D organisation, IP count is a major KPI.  It tells how wise the taxpayers' money had been spent.  When we first started, IP was not a major issue, problem solving was.  Later as the country develops, we grow more conscious of IP matters.  IP awareness and appreciation issues were put on the spotlight and sessions were held moderating the issue.  IP relates to commercialisation and with the 'Agriculture is a business' slogan actively played, we were put into a capitalistic mode.

No longer is agriculture technology generation targeted to the small farmers.  It has to be commercialised to generate income and finally translated to GNP contribution.  Money matters and everything has to be so related.  Forever there is this 'return to R&D investment' and technology commercialisation percentage as to number of technologies generated.  But who is to tell what has business potential, the technology generators, the business community, the consumers?

I have this real case to share.  A friend is well known for dried flower/foliage technology; the plant choice, dyeing, potpourri mix, the perfumery to go with, the packaging and other complimentary works.  For technology and skill transfer, a paid technical course was held with participants from a transact of the industry.  It was meant to be a 5-working day course.  Participation was good until the third day where from there on a participant start going AWOL.  Being a caring organiser, calls were placed to the office of the participant.  He was in office and was all happy with the call.  Upon enquiring about his going AWOL he was all apologetic but told the organiser that he was very excited when he got what he came for even before the completion of the course.  He just has to try out the new technique he learned, forgetting the need to inform the organiser of his no show.

Now what is this technique that has this participant oblivious to the world?  It was the simple drying technique for orchid (flower).  Seemed that he has been trying his whole working life to develop a mould to cast orchid pewter.  A drying technique was all he needs to make a break to produce pewter orchid.  The technique was not at all IP protected.  The participant's gain brought no financial benefit either to the organisation or scientist developing the technique.  A business opportunity lost for the organisation and no financial benefit to the scientist.

To appreciate the full potential of an IP, it is obvious that those who can see a procedure as groundbreaking will stand to benefit, commercially and financially.  Public RIs and scientists will have along way to go to reap this benefit.  There is a lot to learn.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


We visited Syarmimi, our lovable 14 year old niece, at her sister's at Sunway Batu Caves, KL last night.  She was recently discharged from the IJN (National Heart Institute) after her sympathectomy for hyperhidrosis.  These are two new words for me.  Life is indeed made very much simpler with google.

Hyperhidrosis is an excessive and non physiological amount of sweat produced by the body. It can be a generalized situation where excessive sweating appears all over the body or focal hyperhidrosis where the excessive sweating is situated in areas such as the hands, palms, armpits, feet or the face.

Sympathectomy is a surgical cure for hyperhidrosis which is essentially finely-tuned and proven surgical procedures that take advantage of the latest endoscopic techniques. 

News of Syarmimi being at IJN was a shocker.  The norm (perception?) is that IJN is always equated to a heart condition.  Alhamdulillah that was not the case for Syarmimi.  Seemed that she has been complaining of her sweaty palms for sometimes.  It grew more serious over time and Papa finally decided to check her condition at the USM Hospital.  They were immediately referred to the KL IJN where the sympathectomy was successfully carried out.

The way I understand it is that sympathectomy involves short-circuiting the nerves causing the profuse sweating.  As the nerves lie deep under the lungs they have to partially collapse the lungs to get to the offending nerves.  All these were done endoscopically, thus not a very invasive procedure.  Syarmimi was discharged the day after the procedure.  Wonder should the medical fraternity approve of the way I made this out to be.

Wishing adik Syarmimi a quick recovery to enjoy the year-end school holidays.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PR in the broader perspective

Had an audience with a PR consultant today.  They are really perception managers.  Managing how people perceive us and circumventing them to have the positives highlighted.  They are 'image consultants' (reminds me of the much talked-about APCO) taking care of how we portray ourselves, particularly in content.  I caught a few key words/phrases that I love to share.

To move ahead we are to adopt the following strategic imperatives:
  • to perform - governance
  • to innovate - promise of things to come
  • to collaborate - partnership
  • to nurture - training and skill development
  • to conserve - resource management
Those I would says by themselves are tall orders.  But to strive forward, those imperatives are to be in our blood.

Things said:
  • investor kit in place of press kit
  • new ID tag: Sustaining agriculture potentials - Supporting future growth.  To that we want 'through innovation' thrown in to portray our core business 
  • moving from tactical to strategic media initiatives
  • moving from food security to nutrition security

For a person with two days left in service, I feel that I have much more to learn.  For that I promise myself not to ever stop learning.  With abundant learning resources and time on my side, I will have plenty to do after my retirement.  I will just go on learning.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Adam is flourishing, Alhamdulillah

It's the sleep, sleep, sleep life...... Hey, I woke up for my bottle, remember?

19 Oct 2011
2 Nov 2011....please get the flash off my face. 
Umi Tok did mentioned me resembling Abang Amir.
4 Nov 2011....blissfully snoring away
9 Nov 2011 - the drawn face after the one month immunisation jab. 
Sure I screamed at the nurse.  The jab did hurt.
Ibu will give me my bath after this much needed snooze. 
Don't I resemble Tok Ayah Pi?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Six Pillars in Agriculture

A directive came for us to come up with a paper on agricultural transformation.  We are to discuss it within the confines of six pillars: seeds, land (soil), water, machinery, human resource and climate.  What immediately came to mind was that in my college days it was ingrained upon us that agriculture relied on four production factors: land, physical inputs, capital, and labour.  Surfing the web under 'agriculture production pillars', I was directed to CAAPD (Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme) site which defines the four pillars in agricultural development as:

Pillar 1: Land and water management
Pillar 2: Market access
Pillar 3: Food supply and hunger (food security)
Pillar 4: Agriculture research

Looking at the subject in context, it looks like things have not changed much over the years, locally and globally.  We are very much talking about the same thing still, yet besieged by new challenges to feed the ever expanding world population.

Back to the publication, we got a team to brainstorm the subject.  For a brief sitting we came up with something worth sharing.

1.        Approach:
A coffee table publication that looks at agriculture in a historical perspective showing the modernisation and value change progression with technological injection.  To show agricultural productivity improvement along the value change.

Commodity based:
·    Rice
·    selected fruit types (papaya, mango, starfruit, strawberry, melon)
·    livestock (poultry, goat/sheep) with improved animal feed and husbandry practices – will need inputs from DVS
·    vegetable (chili, tomato)
·    fishery – will need input from DOF

2.        Sample write-up with respect to the six pillars:
2.1      Seed – varietal selection process
·    Traditional on-farm selection and processing as compared to the modern breeding approach in using MAS technology and development of GMO crops/animal breeds; NAEC contribution in developing superior breed/stock
·    The new seed production technology and facilities made available
·    Seed production being developed into an industry
·    Development of hybrid crops
·    Present-day seed trade

2.2      Land
Use of ICT technology in:
·    land use planning
·    determination of soil-crop suitability
·    VRT in precision agriculture
·    Imaging technology in determining soil fertility

Agricultural and getting scarce and in competition with industrial and domestic property development leading to intensification of agriculture in terms of land use:
·    Rainshelter and environmental controlled structures for crop and animal housing
·    Changes in crop culture and animal husbandry practices
·    Tiering structure/crop layering as in strawberry cultivation

2.3      Water
Would relate to climatic change and the need for mitigation measures in economics of water use:
·     Precision agriculture
·     aerobic culture technology
·     drought tolerant crop selection

2.4      Mechanisation
Will be portrayed at the respective value change at the respective production levels:
  • field production and management
  • harvest
  • post-harvest
  • processing and product development
2.5       Human Resource
·     Group approach in agriculture for economics of scale
·     More educated, technology savvy and knowledgeable population going into agriculture activities
·     Younger population going into agriculture entrepreneurship
·     Hobbyists going into agriculture and more willing to invest for personal satisfaction.
·     More capital going into agriculture with greater innovations

2.6      Climate
·       Mitigation measures undertaken to combat changes brought about by climatic variants
·       Water saving technologies
·       Crop/animal housings with environmental control
·       Crop architecture modification
·       New crops
·       ICT in agriculture: P&D control, crop surveillance, modeling and prediction,
·       ART technology – precision farming

3.        Title:

4.      Language: English

A path carved, but the writing journey has a long way to go.