Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On the last day of my trip to Sabah, we had a few more hours before our flight back to Kuala Lumpur. The ladies decided to spend the remaining hours raiding the Philippine market. I am too tired to join them so I spend my time sitting at a bench by the roadside writing my journal. In between, I had to waived away some ‘weird guys’ selling Ray Ban and watches. Few ‘tailors kiosk’ can be seen along the walkways. The sewing machines are from the old model. My mum has a similar sewing machine; now used as a ‘semi interior d├ęcor’.

The ‘weird guys’ selling Ray Ban and watches is not giving up easily until they get their buyers. I wonder whether their merchandises are genuine or fake. I over heard that they are selling a watch at a price as low as RM8. I saw one Kelantanese buying a watch from the seller and I hope he bought it at a good price (I doubt if there is any after sales service)

Few locals are playing chess at the walkways and it became some sort of entertainment. I guess that there are Kasparov hidden even at Kota Kinabalu. Some of the Ray Ban and watchers sellers also spend their lunch time playing chess. They are holding their merchandise at one hand and move their ‘army’ with the other hand; the same hand that holds their cigarettes.

I was at the bench long enough to observe the mini buses passing by. The number of passengers is less than a quarter of the available seat. Maybe it is a non peak hours. The traffic is quite heavy though may not as heavy as in Kuala Lumpur. The ‘Kuala Lumpur disease’ had found its way here. I guess Malaysian love to guzzle on petrol. I do not think it is too late to device a good public transportation in KK. Sabah should maintain its tagline as ‘Land below the Wind’ and not “Land within CO2’. Just let the honor goes to KL.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kinabalu Park

7.30am, Saturday16/5/2009 we left our hotel at 1Borneo towards Kinabalu Park. Although we are still fatigue from the previous day’s adventure ay Klias River, every body is in good mood to have a sight on Kinabalu Mountain.

The journey took 2 hours. The scenery is awesome. Even from the distance, Kinabalu Mountain looks so majestic. No wonder it attracts thousands of mountain climbers. We stop at Nabalu town for a break. From Nabalu town, the mountain seems so near and it makes a beautiful backdrop for your photo. If you have the energy, you can walk up the observation tower. You can also find souvenirs sold at a cheap price.

From Nabalu town, we resumed our journey to Kinabalu Park. We arrived at the park around 11am and the temperature is quite cool. If not because of global warming, it should be cooler I guess. According to our guide, there used to be ice on top of the mountain. However, it disappears since 1980s.

We took a guided tour through the forest track. Our guide, Ms Betty, was so helpful and elaborates with her explanation about the flora and fauna found in the forest. We just realized that bamboo is the tallest grass in the world. I don’t even know that bamboo is part of grass family. At the backdrop, the ‘audio entertainment’ of tour is the high volumes of cicadas. You also can find varieties of wild orchid. If you love nature, this is the place to be. If not, the only ‘sexy’ thing here is the ‘naked tree’.

Once in a while, our guide will explain the important of maintaining the biodiversity of the forest. For example, Silau-Silau River starts from the Kinabalu Mountain and will combine with other rivers to form a huge reservoir of clean water resources for the whole of Sabah. The forest surrounding the mountain functions as natural filter to these rivers.

Our guided tour took an hour to complete. Despite the long track, I felt so refreshed. Perhaps it is due to the fresh air and the cool climate. My friend may not share the same sentiments. Our next agenda is our favorite; lunch. When you are hungry, tired and the weather is cool, everything tastes delicious.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Poring Hot Spring

If the temperature in Kundasang is too cool for you, you can warm yourself up at the ‘Poring hot spring’. The hot spring is just another 45 minutes from the Kinabalu Park. There are many things to do/see like the butterfly farm, canopy walk, cool refreshing water falls and of course the hot spring. On our way up, there was a stalled bus that caused slight traffic jam (it takes more than this to cause massive jam at this part of the world). The bus was still at the same spot when we came down. I guess ‘technical support’ is quite slow at this area.

Anyway, back to the main attraction, for those who have lot of spare time, I would suggest that you do the canopy walk, refresh your self at the water falls and then hit the hot spring.

To get to the canopy walk, you need to pay a nominal entrance fee around RM3. You have to do some jungle trekking uphill about 500 meters. The trek is not that difficult but you might want to pace down to enjoy the fresh air. The reward at the end of the 500 meters of jungle trekking is the scenic bird eye view of the tropical forest.

Then you can relax your aching muscle at the hot spring. You can choose to take a bath at the designated area or you can just roll up your trousers and dip your feet inside the hot spring. The hot water soothes my aching and tired feet. I should have brought extra cloths so I can take a hot bath. Well, there is always a next time.

If that is not refreshing enough, you can go to the nearby stalls for a drink, where you can find almost anything from coconut, and sugar cane to canned drinks. I chose to drink 100 plus and to my surprise; I emptied the whole 325ml in 5 seconds. That shows how tired I am.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

About 2 hours drive from Kota Kinabalu, you can find a small town of Kundasang. Mother Nature had blessed this place with fertile soil so you can find fresh vegetables, fruits, honey and other agriculture products. You should try the wild Durian. It tastes a bit bitter than the normal Durian but with slight sweetness in between.

Close proximity with Kinabalu Mountain means that the temperature is low throughout the year; better than Cameron Highlands. However, unlike Cameron Highlands, the vast amount of available lands to grow vegetables means Kundasang can produce more vegetables. I was told that Kundasang ‘exported’ their product to Kota Kinabalu.

One thing that I notice is that the same ‘kiosk’ still selling the fruits when I came here 4 years ago. I just been thinking aloud, what happened (or not happen) for the past 4 years? Well, I am not expecting a quantum leap in these traders economic standing, but at least there should be some improvement. If there are changes in economic activities at this place, it is either it is not visible to me or there is an inequality in wealth distribution.

This is what baffles me; this place has the entire ingredient to be a great place; fertile soil, cool climate, access road and vast amount of lands, just to say a few. This place has the potential to be developed as the main producers of fruits and vegetable, and not just for Kota Kinabalu market. More importantly, the agriculture industry can elevate the economic status of the farmers/traders.

Perhaps the local government should play more active roles in developing and give access to the local farmers in better agriculture technique. Build up the supply chain from the farmers’ land right to the end users.

Noteworthy, to ensure sustainable development, the agriculture activities need to bear in mind the harm to the environment. We should not repeat the past mistake of using pesticides and uncontrolled land clearing.

The introduction of development corridor in Sabah should take the above into account. It is a pity if we ignore the future of these farmers/traders as well as the environment from the previously announced economic corridor.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Proboscis Monkey

Klias River is two hour’s drive from Kota Kinabalu. The star attraction of Klias River is the Proboscis monkey. I am quite amaze to see a lot of people come to this part of the world just to see the monkey. The scenery along the journey to the river is quite spectacular. However, you need to be careful as buffaloes may suddenly cross the road and because of they are buffaloes, they will not use the zebra crossing

The monkey did not actually do anything amazing. The Monkey just sits lazily on top of the trees doing their own thing. However, the mere sight of the monkey stirs a lot of excitement to the spectators. Our boat stops every time we spotted the monkey. Just imagine if we can fully exploit this monkey to attract more tourists to Sabah. I am thinking of better facilities, extensive promotions, merchandise etc. It is always our weakness...we have the product but we do not how to market our product.

We take a break for delicious dinner at the jetty. The chicken curry and the chicken soup was enough to recharge my battery. At 7pm, it is already dark. We took the same boat to see another wonder of Klias river; the fireflies. Clusters of male ‘light bugs’ trying to attract the females are ‘lighting’ up the trees along the river. I sure hope that these fireflies will not meet the same fate as their ‘brothers’ at Kuala Selangor.

By 8pm, we started our journey back to KK. The journey can be very tiring but it is worth it!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

permitted tresspassing

Somebody entered your land without permission and evict you from your land and claim the land as theirs. Under municipal law, it is an illegal act. Assuming that the infringing act was sanctioned by the ruler of the state, we call the ruler as oppressive ruler. The municipal law seems to take care of that circumstance. However, how can International law condone such illegal act?

The question then is whether the creation of Israel state is a legal act under the international law?

The above is the message from Dr. Azzam Tamimi in his public lecture at the Faculty of law University of Malaya. Dr. Azzam is the director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thoughts had delivered a clear message as to the predicament of the Palestine.

Palestine is a land that has been invaded and conquered by numerous powers under the God’s name. The last was the Ottoman Empire. As conquerors come and go the native of Palestine remains to stay at the ‘holy’ land. Looking at the vast amount of blood that had been sacrificed…we begin to ask why?   

Record shows that Muslims rulers never force the Jews to leave Palestine. It was the Romans in 135 AD that had expelled the Jews from Palestine en masse. However, after the World War II, the ‘victors’ decided to create a Jewish state in Palestine.

Another interesting question posed to the audience is the position of Declaration of Human Rights 1948 in the light of Palestine issue. By creating Jewish state at the expense of the ‘native’, are we protecting the human right of one but denying the right of another?

The preamble of the declaration says that;

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”

Is this declaration a mockery to human race?

The declaration further says

“Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law”   

The declaration aspires to protect human rights; but it depends on the ‘guardians’ or should I say the ‘manipulators’ of international law to determine who should be protected.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

wasted resources!

Malaysian waste management took another twist this week when Alam Flora terminated 40 of its garbage collectors. These 40 contractors have 2000 odd workers under their payroll. The 40 solid waste and cleaning contractors operates under the jurisdiction of MBPJ.

At a time of economic uncertainty, the termination of the contract is like death warrants to the workers. These workers may not have the right education to find other suitable jobs.  Even if there are other jobs available, do these workers will get the priority?

Perhaps the relevant authority has its own reason. However, the livelihood of the workers needs to be the priority. We have the option of merging these 40 contractors into a consortium. The existing workers from the existing contractors can be absorbed into this new entity. The new entity with better financial resources is at a good position to offer a better service.

However, whatever the solution, it boils down to the sincerity of the relevant parties to solve the issue. If any agenda hidden somewhere along the plot, it is a mockery  to the ‘welfare state’ tagline.