Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sabah Population in 2010?

Is there any truth to these figures? Anyone care to interpret this statistics?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to Copyright "Kopitiam"

Ever wondered how to copyright kopitiam so that no one else would ever use it except you? Easy. Go and file your suit in Indonesia.

Image credit:

Ok, that was sweeping. But at least others won't be using the term in any business venture there. The Chinese word kopitiam is kedai kopi in Malay or coffee shop as what we would understand it all the world over.

So, if you can copyright kopitiam then there's no stopping you from asking people to stop using 'bread' as in iBread, Nasi Kandar, or 'cloud' as in iCloud. I will name my coffee shop Kota Kinabalu Nasi Kandar and claimed intellectual property rights over that very words.

I remember when cloud computing was making its way into the IT world, IT giant Apple was said to buy iCloud domain from a Sweden company for $4.5mil, although the company declined to confirm the accuracy of the price.

I am now thinking about patenting 'anything' and call it iAnything so that the next time I see you using that word I could file a suit for $4.5mil. Of course you can do anything to you like with it, continue using it and I would not be able to anything to get anything from it.

If you are in Malaysia and Singapore though, try copyrighting Kedai Kopi instead, as patenting kopitiam does not work there. If you are in New York, try visiting Malaysia Kopitiam there.

For the info-hungry, here is the original report of the enlightening event:

Indonesian restaurateur wins "kopitiam" copyright
The star Online. Feb 27, 2012

JAKARTA: The Indonesian courts have ruled in favour of a local restaurateur who claimed intellectual property rights over the word "kopitiam" - a Chinese word which means coffee shop.

The Jakarta Post ran a story today that in 2010, Abdul Alek Soelystio, the owner of Jakarta-based "Kopitiam", had sued "Kok Tong Kopitiam" in the Medan Administrative Court for using the word and won the case.

Abdul claimed he had registered intellectual property rights to "kopitiam" in 1996. Unhappy with the outcome, "Kok Tong Kopitiam" owner Paimin Halim appealed to the Supreme Court, but the lower court's decision was merely upheld.The report said, Abdul took out an advertisement in a national newspaper on Feb 6 this year warning other restaurateurs to immediately drop "kopitiam" from their brand identities.

Abdul's lawyers said that whoever used kopitiam could be charged with piracy.

The Intellectual Property Law provides for up to seven years' imprisonment for those convicted of intellectual piracy, although in practice violators are seldom sentenced to more than several months.Indonesia Kopitiam Association chairman Mulyadi Praminta described the rulings in favour of Abdul as ridiculous.

"There was a similar case in Singapore. A company tried to copyright kopitiam as its own, but the government there rejected the request. It is shocking that we have a contradictory situation here," he remarked.Mulyadi felt that the government should support the restaurant industry instead of providing special treatment to certain parties.

"The local industry deserves support from the government. We hire many people, we use local products, including coffee beans," he added.

Meanwhile Bondan Winarno, Indonesia's most famous gastronome and owner of the "Kopitiam Oey" chain, asserted over the weekend that no one should be allowed to copyright the word.

Bondan, the association's spokesman, asserted that kopitiam offered a local option that could rival international coffee shops in Indonesia. "Kopitiam is not our creation. The name does not belong to us, but to generations before us. It is not a brand but a signature of culinary culture as well as social assimilation," he emphasised. BERNAMA

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mugabe to Cameron: To Hell With You

While not agreeing him words for words, I agree with his idea. Malaysia, like many African nations, should reject outright any such provision. Enough said.

Daily Express - Feb. 27, 2012

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said his government entirely rejected the suggestion from its former colonial master. He said: We reject that outright and say to hell with you.

Addressing the UK leader, who said last year that countries receiving British aid should respect human rights, including gay rights, he said: "You David Cameron, are you suggesting that you don't know that or is it some kind of insanity or part of the culture of Europeans.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


If you ever work in wood processing mill you’d be familiar with band-saws. The saws are attached to two big flywheels driven by AC motors. The wheels don’t need high initial torque to start rotating but once spinning, the band saw is capable of tearing apart even the biggest and hardest log.


Or, if you own a small diesel generator set – typically 5kVA to 10kVA – you’d be familiar with the tiring starting method. You need to spin a small but heavy flywheel to get the diesel engine going.

These are example of age old applications of flywheel. Let’s look at how flywheel is still relevant in today’s advance engineering. The following is an article I read from Daily Express:

What is a Flywheel?

A flywheel is a wheel that’s spun at high speed and used to store energy. They’ve been used for years in everything from traction engines to toy cars. But now Jaguar and Volvo want to see if they can be used to drive up fuel efficiency.

How would that work?

The car’s wheels would spin the flywheel, which would continue to spin until the stored energy was needed to drive the car. The stored energy would then be transferred back to the wheels via a transmission.

Are they currently used in cars?

Flywheels are an alternative to the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) most Formula 1 teams have been using last year. But although they’re permitted by the sport, no team currently uses them and neither are they found in road cars. F1 designers have worked on improving the technology but developing a flywheel is a headache; a great deal of stored energy can be lost to friction.

So what has changed?

F1 engineers have reduced the weight of flywheels using composite materials and cut friction by sealing the wheels inside a vacuum chamber. But it’s hard to make the seals between flywheel and transmission perfect. In F1, the seals only need to last for a short period of time. In road cars they need to be far more durable.

Is there a solution?

Engineering firm Ricardo has built a magnet-based system in which there’s no direct contact between flywheel and transmission. Jaguar is working with Ricardo and others on a flywheel, and Volvo is also looking into the technology for use in its vehicles.

Hope this will work towards energy efficient vehicles in the near future.

Source: Daily Express, Sunday Feb. 26, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

National Dual Training System (NDTS)

I visited a promotional booth belonged to DSD (Jabatan Pembangunan Kemahiran) at Suria Sabah not too long ago and get myself a copy of the leaflets. Few days ago I tried to surf the given website and it apparently was not working. In particular, pages on National Dual Training System (NDTS) had bad links.

This entry is therefore a reference for myself and perhaps folks who would want to know in brief what and how this program can benefit them.

What is NDTS?

(Note: For now, you will not find this in their website, or you will be redirected to other page)

National Dual Training System (NDTS) is a dual training apprenticeship system comprising of 70-80% training at the company and 20-30% at the training center. It is introduced to produce workers based on industry demand, thus reducing the problem of mismatch.

NDTS uses self-reliant learning and action-oriented approach to develop apprentices with knowledge-worker occupational competence comprising of technical competence, social and human competences, and learning and methodological competences.

A contract is signed between the conpany and the apprentices prior to the training. Apprentices are given certain amount of allowance throughout the trainnig by the company and are obliged to work with the company upon completion if they are offered employment.

Practical or hands-on skills training is conducted in the workplaces by selected coaches of the company, whilst the theoretical class and basic skills training in the training centre is undertaken by the centre's instructors.

How is NDTS different from other Trainings?

The requirement for coaches and trainers to infuse or integrate human and social skills as well as for the apprentices to learn on-the-job to get the most of the technical contents of the course/training.

Targeted Group

1) Those who are currently employed by the company can be selected for apprenticeship and enjoy the benefit of this program.
2) School leavers, SPM

Training Duration

Depending on the field of training and the level of certification.
Practical/hands-on training is 70% - 80% of the whole duration at workplace,
Theory and basic skills is 20% to 30% of the whole duration at training centre

Method of Delivery

a) Day release - for instance, a 3 to 4 days training at workplace and 1 to 2 days at training centre
b) Block release (if necessary) - for instance, 3 to 4 months at workplace and 1 to 4 weeks of theory classes at the training centre.

Training Content

Based on National Occupational Skills Standard (NOSS), NDTS Curriculum or other curriculum approved by Department of Skills Development.


Continuous assessment and final test.


Fully recognised by the government:
Malaysian Skills Certificate (Level 1, 2, 3)
Malaysian Skills Diploma (DKM, Level 4)
Malaysian Skills Advanced Diploma (DKLM, Level 5)


Apprentices are entitled to get minimum monthly allowance from company as much as RM300 - Rm500 during training period.

If the training is conducted in 2 years:
Semester 1 – RM 350.00 per month
Semester 2 – RM 400.00 per month
Semester 3 – RM 450.00 per month
Semester 4 – RM 500.00 per month

This program is coordinated by DSD and interested employers can contact the department to further refine the terms to suit their requirement.

Benefit to the Company/Employer

Single tax deduction, or PSMB reimbursement PSMB reimbursement.
PSMB - Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad/HRDF

I have few guys who I think will need the required skills in the near future and this may just be what I'll need. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mobile Devices to Outnumber Humans in 2012

The world population hit 7 billion in November 2011 and Worldometers estimated that net population growth is about 77,000 per day. Very soon, human will be outnumbered by mobile devices. Infact, according to network firm Cisco, that would happen this year.

Screen-shot of my laptop display.

Not surprising as the usage of mobile communication gadget is increasing at exponential rate and the personal mobile equipment is flooding the market like a huge wave.

The world is getting smaller and data users will be more and more mobile, no doubt. But those who produce data will still need to chain themselves to a desk in that sense; they will not be that mobile. Plus, in order to handle delicate data, you will need the big screens. Then again, how many of us would be managing such data compared to the mostly 'data consumers' masses?

I don't have a 7-inch tablet yet but I can't imagine doing a decent work on one if I can't do the same on my 3.5 inch 4S screen. At the most I read e-mails, news, and other Internet surfing from it. Replying to e-mails with lengthy wordings is a bit of a struggle too.

That said, let's see what the network company, Cisco said in their report.

Go to Cisco's global mobile data traffic forecast page and you will see a comprehensive Cisco VNI Forecast, their ongoing initiative to track and forecast the impact of visual networking applications on global networks. The forecast presents Cisco's major global mobile data traffic and growth trends. The followings are some of the summary of the long report:

1. The number of mobile devices will exceed the world’s population in 2012
2. There will be over 10 billion mobile connected devices in 2016
3. By 2016 monthly global mobile data traffic will surpass 10 exabytes (1 exabytes = approx. 1 billion gigabytes)
4. As a comparison, Cisco reported that mobile data traffic in 2011 was eight times the size of the global internet data in 2000
5. Global mobile-data traffic will increase eighteenfold between now and 2016
6. Currently the average smartphone uses 150MB of data per month but this is expected to rise to 2.6GB gigabytes by 2016. WELCOME TO THE GIGABYTE CLUB!
7. Mobile-network connection speeds will increase ninefold by 2016
8. Two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2016
9. In 2011 there were 34 million tablets and by 2016 tablets are predicted to account for more than 10% of global mobile traffic, out-pacing smartphones by miles.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sabah State Level World Water Day 2012

I visit Jabatan Air Sabah website from time to time and as I saw this, I thought the netizens, especially those with cameras might be interested to take part. I may just send in a couple of pictures this time around. Note: the following information is copied from the department's web site and I have made available the link to that site at the end of this article.

Photography Competition


International World Water Day is held annually on 22nd March as a means of focusing the world’s attention towards the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

The world is already burdened with chronic hunger and water resources are under pressure with population surge. At all steps of the supply chain, from producers to consumers, actions can be taken to save water and ensure nutritious food for all.

As the saying ‘picture speaks a thousand words’, the Organising Committee hopes this photography competition shall create awareness on the importance of efficient consumption and sustainability of water and freshwater in ensuring sufficient supply of nutritious food to meet dietary needs.


Open Category
1st Prize X 1 RM 3,000.00 Cash + Certificate
2nd Prize X 1 RM 1,500.00 Cash + Certificate
3rd Prize X 1 RM 1,000.00 Cash + Certificate
Consolation x 10 RM 100.00 Cash + Certificate

Student Category (Form 5 and Below)
1st Prize X 1 RM 500.00 Cash + Certificate
2nd Prize X 1 RM 300.00 Cash + Certificate
3rd Prize X 1 RM 150.00 Cash + Certificate
Consolation x 10 RM 50.00 Cash + Certificate

Competition Calendar
Closing Date : 10th March 2012 (Saturday)
Prize Presentation : 20th March 2012 (Thursday)

  1. Evergreen Colour photo centre | Lot 7-0, ground floor, Lorong Lintas Plaza 2, 88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Tel : 088-256977
  2. Yong’s Color Digital Lab | A20, 1st Floor, Centre Point Sabah, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Tel : 088-241700
  3. Sandakan Foto (Sabah) Sdn Bhd | (Town centre) Ground floor, Lot 11, Block 23, LebuhTiga, 90000 Sandakan. Tel :089-218728 (Mile 4) Ground floor, Lot 12, Block C, Bandar Kim Fung, Batu 4 ½, Jalan Utara, 90000 Sandakan. Tel: 089-238728
  4. GT Foto Studio, TB 329(A), Ground Floor, Block 41, Fajar Complex,, Tawau Tel: 089-748669


1. Mr. Ling - 0168339992
2. Mr. Henry Ng - 0138600714

For more information, visit the Jabatan Air's webpage on Sabah State Level World Water Day 2012, Photography Competition.

Taiwan Varsity Offers GREEN Course

This piece of information should be a cause for cheer because one can now get certified via proper or dedicated trainings in the emerging alternatives on renewable energy and energy efficient products.

Then again, to be honest I am not really sure if I should leap for joy or sit disappointed reading the news as we have some world class universities in Malaysia and yet we have to depend on others to learn technology that is already in existence -and in wide scale - in our country. 

I have a lecturer friend at UMS and I know he is actively researching in the field of renewable energy but that is a totally different thing. What is being research and developed, and what is being taught at school or uni are two separate issues. Syllabus and modules on green technology should be available in at least a couple of varsities to cater for the current and future needs in the RE initiatives. Remember, Prime Minister Najib pledged 40% carbon footprint reduction in Malaysia by 2020.

let's celebrate! Harnessing energy from the sun? Shot with Nikkor 18-200 | 18mm | ISO 200 | f/14 | 1/160sec |

If we don't prepare the current generation of student with the necessary educational background, then I believe we have missed out one point in trying to make Malaysia a major hub in production of RE equipment. Note that Malaysia is third behind China and Germany in solar PV panel manufacturing. 

Awareness campaign alone is not sufficient. Fiscal and monetary incentives are good but it only encourage foreign investment per see, and the goal to transfer knowledge is only at the industry/application level. Foreign investors must be 'forced' to transfer the knowledge through the higher learning institutions, too.

For now, the only proper training is conducted via Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia (SEDA) which focuses on teaching industry players on how to get certified as implementer and install/commission RE equipment such as solar PV, mini hydro, bio gas and biomass. This is nothing more than trainings done by ASTRO on its appointed Astro Installers in the monopolised satellite TV industry in the country. The Installers know their stuff - installing, commissioning, troubleshooting, etc - but very few know about the technology behind the application.

Similarly, in a couple of years time, many so-called Solar PV certified installers would become well-versed with lighting up the rural area and make money from there but it just stop there. Technological advancement is from somewhere else, and this does not help us in terms of global competitiveness.

So there, give it a thought when you enroll for 'green' courses such as the one reported by The Star in the following article:

Green Course in Taiwan
The Star Online, Jan 8, 2012

KUN Shan University in Taiwan is offering a Solar and LED Illumination Technology course for Malaysians below the age of 40.

The tuition fee has been waived. MCA Vocational Education Development Committee chairman Tan Sri Dr Fong Chan Onn encouraged Malaysians to enrol in the course as the country needed trained technicians in the field with renewable energy becoming increasingly popular. Dr Fong, who is also chairman of the Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia, said the government was committed to reducing the nation’s carbon dioxide footprint by 40 percent in 2020.

“Switching to renewable energy is certainly a step towards achieving the goal,” he said in a statement on Friday.

With the passing of the Renewable Energy (RE) and Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) Acts 2011, renewable energy would become a viable and sound long-term investment for companies, industries and individuals.

“We have abundant sunlight throughout the year, and should therefore fully utilise solar energy, which is green. The introduction of the Fit-in Tariff (FiT) system comes timely and would spur the demand for installations of solar panels nationwide,” said Dr Fong.

The FiT system is implemented following the passing of the RE and SEDA Acts 2011, obliging Distribution Licensees to buy from Feed-in Approval Holders the electricity produced from renewable resources, including solar energy. As the installation and maintenance of solar panels is an infant industry in the country, Malaysia is in dire need of experts in the area.

Hands-on training makes up the biggest chunk of the solar course offered by Kun Shan University, allowing students to familiarise themselves with the installation of solar panels during their two-year study in Taiwan.

This course is among the eight courses offered under the Malaysian Taiwan Skills Programme. Applications are now open and student intake is in March this year.

Students would also be exposed to the design of LED illumination system and applications, where they would acquire the skills to design flat display screen and LED lights meant for different purposes. Upon graduation, students can work in the industries of solar, LED illumination and LCD display manufacturing.

For enquiries, please call MCA Vocational Education Development Committee Secretariat at 03-2166 8211 or 03-2161 8044. The application deadline is Jan 17, 2012. [Note: This has definitely passed but there's no harm asking]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Solar-based Projects Worth Over RM2bil in Sabah

"Staggering amount!" is probably what you will say as you glance past the figure, but not just yet. Probably soon, if you take what was reported in Business Times at face value.

The RM2bil worth of investment in solar-based projects in Sabah is expected to be rolled out in stages and it certainly buds well with the country's pledge commitment to reduce carbon footprint in Malaysia.

First, it was the rural electrification initiatives by the relevant Rural Development ministry, quickly followed by enactment of two important RE-related acts by KeTTHA to implement FIT in Malaysia, and latest is the effort by Sabah Parks to install a solar hybrid system in Pulau Gulisaan. The latest effort Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah is indeed commendable.


The 6kWp Solar Hybrid system in Pulau Gulisaan will essentially light up the small 'turtle' island 24 hours a day. Pulau Gulisan (one of the three Turtle Islands - the others being Pulau Selingan and Pulau Bakkungan Kecil) is only 1.6 hectares in size and is the smallest of the three islands. Much of the land has eroded away leaving only the central portion still under vegetation. Hawksbills (turtles) prefer to lay their eggs on Pulau Gulisan where the type of beach and vegetation are particularly favourable.

Pulau Gulisaan, Sandakan. Image: Sabah Parks

Summary of the solar-hybrid initiative announced on Feb.16, 2012 by BT:

Pilot project: 6kWp solar hybrid
Location: Pulau Gulisaan, Turtle Island Park, 40km north of Sandakan town
Cost to install: RM270,000 (USD90,000)
Power supply: round the clock
Energy storage: lithium polymer cells (contain no lead and acid)

What's Coming Up

1) Solar hybrid plant worth RM30mil (USD10mil)
2) Sabah Parks facilities in the Kinabalu Parks and Crocker Range Parks
    - studies completed and proposal for green RE already submitted
3) Detailed study at the Pulau Tiga Park (Kuala Penyu), the Tawau Hills Park
    and the Tun Sakaran Marine Park - soon to commence.
4) Comprehensive study for the Sabah Forestry Department - proposal submitted
5) Solar-powered LED street lights to municipalities in Sabah - soon to install

This is indeed a wise move by Sabah Parks as it will spearhead the state, together with the other departments, to the front line of RE initiative. It showed commitment and action by the ministry.

The downside is the lack of effort to educate the public - the rural population in particular - on how to appreciate and maintain the solar power systems. The solar panels and energy storage battery normally last more than 20 years with proper maintenance. As the saying goes, to know is to love, if the people know little about the equipment then it is hard to expect them to appreciate them, and to care for them.

kWp - kilowatt peak (term used for solar panel energy-generation ratings; size/capacity)
RE - Renewable Energy
KeTTHA - Kementerian Tenaga, Teknologi Hijau dan Air
               (Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water)
FIT - feed-in tariff

The article by Business Times:

Monday, February 20, 2012

RE Advocateur

Site: Clean Technica
CleanTechnica has been covering the cleantech industry, especially clean energy such as wind energy and solar energy, since early 2008

Find them at:

Oscar Awards 2011 for Football cheats

The 84th edition of the annual Academy Awards just one week away, it is time to share the final projections or rather nominate probable candidates for best actors. I am a football fan though, so, my interest  and this entry would be skewed to football acts. If you follow the sport on a regular basis you'd roughly know who are these football Oscar front-runners.

It is not fun to watch football with some cheap cheats added in, especially if you are a strong supporter of a particular team and you feel the team's hard done by. Not fun at all. The act of diving should  not be permitted at all and be dealt with properly; take the following examples:
  • more frequent yellow-carding; make it mandatory
  • football clubs owners to act hard on such players - wage-cut, etc
  • shame them by showing their dark art to the paying spectators during pre-matches

Without further ado, let's meet the 2011 candidates:

Hamit Altintop
Euro qualification match with Croatia, November 2011. The midfielder latched on to a promising pass in the box, but after seeing the ball go loose took to the ground in utter desperation. It was so bad that none of his team-mates appealed and not even the opposition could be bothered to complain about his blatant act of cheating.

Not only did he fail to fool referee Felix Brych, but the slow motion replays made Altintop look silly for attempting such a stunt.

Diving Altintop. Credit:

Dani Alves
During Champions League semifinal, April 27, 2011. The Barcelona defender acrobatically spun to ground, clutching his right calf muscle, after he and Real Madrid's Pepe went for a loose ball with raised legs. Like the Zapruder film of U.S. President John F. Kennedy's assassination, the slow-mo was scrutinized across the football world for clues: Did Pepe actually touch Alves? No way!

Alves and Pepe in action: Click to see the frame-by-frame post-mortem

Gervasio Nunez
Europa League group stage, Oct. 20, 2011. Pushed on the shoulder by Fulham's Mousa Dembele, the Argentine midfielder for Polish side Wisla Krakow pretended he had been thumped in the face and collapsed. Referee Martin Hansson bought it, Dembele trudged off, Wisla turned its one-man advantage into a 1-0 win. "Of course, we will never complain after a red card,'' said Fulham manager Martin Jol before going on to complain. "It was a push on the shoulder, after being kicked,'' he said. "You shouldn't raise your hand. He (Dembele) pushed him on the shoulder and you shouldn't do that. The referee gave us a red card, but we felt hard done by.''

Peter Wisgerhof
Johan Cruyff Shield, July 30, 2011. In this match between the Dutch Cup winners and Dutch league champions, the captain of FC Twente looked like a mountain goat skipping over a rock or a frog on takeoff as he jumped into the air and rolled onto the ground after a tickle of a tackle from Ajax defender Daley Blind. To his credit, Wisgerhof later laughed at himself. "The worst dive of the match was definitely mine,'' Dutch websites quoted him as saying. "I felt something, but fell much later. Why didn't I get a yellow card? I quickly told the ref I'm a defender and don't even know how to fall."

All of them are great candidates but The Associated Press' John Leicester says that Oscar Award should go to Bryan Carrasco. I totally agree with him.

OSCAR Award Recipient: Bryan Carrasco

South American Under-20 Championship, Feb. 12, 2011. Such ingenuity by Bryan Carrasco! The Chilean midfielder plumbed new depths by grabbing an opponent's arm and whacking himself in the face with it, and then collapsing. You'll not tire of the video, with hilarity from commentators Nicolas Nardini and Jorge Nazar

AND for Carrasco's ingenuity, here is the movie that shows why he deserve it:

It is a short 1-minute clip, so it's worth the wait. You are going to love this one!

[Disclaimer: These picks are taken from an article by John Leicester, an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at jleicester(at) or follow him at]

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Health Ministry Warned Against Treatments Using Leeches

Article: Daily Express
The Health Ministry recently advised the public to stay away from traditional healing treatments using leeches as it may cause bacterial infection. Director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said the ministry had not approved such treatment centres as the effectiveness was not proven.

"The ministry strictly does not allow this treatment method as there is no scientific evidence to prove the treatment works," he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

Dr Hasan said stern action will be taken against traditional healing practitioners who continue to risk the public's health. He was responding to claims of a skin specialist at An-Nur Hospital, Dr Saadiah Sulaiman, that the leech treatment exposed the public to a dry cough.

She claimed that to date, two patients had sought follow up treatments for the illness at the hospital after trying out the leech treatment. Dr Hasan added that the perception of many that leeches suck dirty blood was also wrong as there was no such thing as dirty blood in medical terms.

"Infectious disease may spread through blood when the same leech is used on another patient."

Dr Hasan said the treatment process could transmit dangerous diseases related to blood flow from one individual to another besides slowing the blood clot process.

"This may lead to constant bleeding with an open wound giving space for more serious problems."

Bad News For Leech Farmers?

A couple of years or so ago, leech farming was quite a topic in town as some enterprising individuals vigorously promote leech therapy and hence the high demand for leeches. There were talks about contract farming and it all seems very lucrative. It has faded a bit now but I believe there are still people doing this business on a smaller scale. Demand is still there from traditional healing practitioners although we have no figures to show.

The warning from Health Ministry is a blow to the trade. Stern action is to be taken against those found to violate the directive. But to be fair to the traditional practitioners, even the Ministry did not clearly explained what it stated "there is no scientific evidence to prove the treatment works".

Is it fair to prevent people from practicing the alternative treatment on grounds that there is no scientific evidence to prove the treatment? Have the ministry proved that it was the leech treatment that caused the dry cough? It could be due to un-controlled treatment procedure rather than the practice itself.

People in many countries still use leech therapy in a controlled way, such as making sure a leech is used only once in a treatment to avoid infectious disease, health checks of patients prior to leech treatment, etc.

Going back to traditional and natural way of healing is good considering today's society's dependence on drugs. It is your health, be more alert and know the risk you are taking.

Is back-to-nature good in this context?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Switching to a More Careful Spending

Is it true that we are becoming more thrifty? Are we cutting back on telephone expenses, opting for cheaper grocery, spending less on new clothes, and cutting down on out-of-home entertainment? [read the appended  news articles]. 

According to Nielsen survey, yes, in terms of number of people, more Malaysians are doing just that. But in terms of amount, we are not sure. Many of us who are not-so-well-to-do may be cutting back on spending but the affluent folks would continue spending at pleasure.

Perhaps, we have come to term with the large number of bankruptcy cases in the country - almost 1% of the total population as of end-2011. Or, perhaps we really do not have the cash to spend.

But isn't our country prospering based on some indicators like the ability of the government to distribute many goodies lately? Straight thinking says it is. It should not be a window dressing activity if you take into account that Malaysia is doing really well.

According to International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, in terms of international trade, Malaysia is in top five countries after Singapore and Hong Kong, surpassing the United States of America, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. 

I'm a bit skeptical, has our total international trade gone so high or trade volume of other countries shrunk significantly? I have no access to the such report quoted by the Minister but if it really is what's been published, we should give a little pat on our backs. Well done! Of course there are other perspectives that one needs to look at as yard sticks to prosperity. But that would be for other discussions.

Total trade is growing and the economy shall flourish. When the economy is booming the people should do well in business, and the salaried employees should get better perks, right? There should then be greater spending propensity, unless people are all tied up with mis-calculated past commitments.

Back to the topic, spending is good for the economy as a whole (especially if these spenders are foreigners) but is bad for your pocket when done ravenously. Spend within your means.

So there, go spend to your heart content.


Malaysians More Careful With Their Spending
Business Times - Feb 9, 2012

Malaysians have started to cut down on telephone expenses as a means to manage their budget as concerns over the economy, job security and increasing food prices linger. At the same time, consumers are switching to cheaper grocery brands, the latest Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions reveals.

While spending less on new clothes and out-of-home entertainment remained the top two strategies to manage discretionary spending, switching to cheaper grocery brands and curbing telephone spending ranked third and fourth.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, the percentage of those surveyed who said that they are opting for cheaper brands increased to 53 per cent from 48 per cent in the third quarter of 2011. Those who cut telephone expenses increased to 48 per cent from 44 per cent in the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, online consumer confidence revealed that Malaysia remained the tenth most confident country among 56 countries surveyed. Malaysia was ahead of Thailand and just behind United Arab Emirates.

235,908 Individuals Declared Bankrupt as of October 2011
The Department of Insolvency Malaysia statistics show that there are 41 individuals declared bankrupt every day! At this rate, by the end of this year there would be more than 238,000 bankrupts and if there's no immediate bold action this could well reach half a million by 2020 when we anticipate the country to have attained developed nation status.

The main causes for declaring the 235,908 individuals bankrupt are:
1. Hire purchase, 26%
2. Personal loan, 21%
3. Housing loan, 14%
4. Others - business loan, corporate guarantee, etc.

But...Malaysia Records Highest Total Trade in 2011. Yes?
New Straits Times - Feb 9, 2012

Malaysia recorded its highest total trade of RM1.3 trillion last year, up 8.7 per cent from 2010, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed. He projected a growth of between five and six per cent for Malaysia's total trade this year.

The World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011 Report by the Institute for Management Development ranked Malaysia among the top five countries in terms of international trade after Singapore and Hong Kong, surpassing the United States of America, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Mustapa said exports expanded 8.7 per cent to RM694.55 billion last year while imports grew 8.6 per cent to RM574.23 billion. Trade surplus rose 9.4 per cent to RM120 billion.

"This was the 14th consecutive year of trade surplus recorded by the country since 1998," Mustapa said.

He said rising demand for production inputs and consumer goods from Asian markets boosted this sector's contribution by 71.3 per cent to Malaysia's total exports. Exports to Asia increased 11.2 per cent to RM495.19 billion in 2011.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Solar Powered SK Pulau Sepanggar

Welcome to Pulau Sepanggar.

a_DSC7041-p620In June last year myself and a group of other enthusiasts visited one of the nearby primary school under government rural electrification project, SK Pulau Sepanggar. The visit was scheduled during school holidays as we would not want to interfere with the school activities.

According to its web site, the school is a Grade A rural school with more than 400 students, 25 teachers and 4 non-academic staff. Quite a big number for an organisation located outside the urban boundary.

The reason we visited this school is that this is a site of a government funded 25kWp solar photovoltaic installation nearest to Kota Kinabalu. It takes about 25 to 30 minutes to reach there by speed boat.

Prior to the visit I had been in touch with Schneider Electric for quite sometime and one of the key areas I am keen to explore is Renewable Energy. With the kind of working environment we are currently in, the two RE initiatives that are likely to be of immediate interest to us are Solar PV and Mini Hydro power. After much examination of the Government incentives on FIT via SEDA, we decided that Solar PV is most appealing and profitable. To start of with, under the Malaysian FIT scheme, the base rate for Solar PV is RM1.40/kWh.

a_Sepanggar island houses620
30 minutes of bumpy ride and we have now landed on an island called Pulau Sepanggar. Most houses are built on the seashore.

The power supply system here is a hybrid of solar and a diesel generator (genset). The system combines two energy sources and it interchanges the source automatically according to the weather of the day. 

How Solar-DG Hybrid Works

During daytime and when the weather is fine, power is supplied solely by the solar modules, including recharging of the storage battery. For the installation at SK Pulau Sepanggar, the battery is designed to sustain supply of power for a continuous 3 days without having to start the stand-by Genset on. In the worst case scenario that it continues to rain or overcast for longer period, the Genset will kick in and take over the job of the solar modules, including recharging of battery.

Power System Summary

Location: SK Pulau Sepanggar, Kota Kinabalu
Owner:  Ministry of Education Malaysia
How to get there: By boat, about 30-minutes ride 
Design capacity: 25kWp, consists of one array of 10kWp modules and one array of 15kWp modules
Generator set: 3-Phase, 40kVA fully automated operations
PV Solar panel: SolarWorld, USA
PV Solar panel capacity: 165W +/- 3%
Arrangement: 9 panels in each array; total of 17 arrays
Inverter: Xtender, XTH-6000 series
Battery maker: FIAMM, deep cycle. Made in Czech Republic.
Battery capacity at 10 Hrs rate: 1850Ah to 1.8VPC
Communication: SCADA link to JKR IPsolar

The 25kWp solar hybrid installation; constructed within the school compound.

Top view of the solar panel arrays

Battery Bank A - special deep cycle wet batteries

40kVA Diesel generator acts as standby power supply, kicking in only when solar modules are unable to supply enough, and storage battery runs out of juice.

Nothing to do with the Solar PV system here but it probably adds greenery to an already eco-friendly initiative on the island. In any case, this should make great sunrise shots.

Personal Observations

The installation on the island was funded by the Government and we understand it was costly. For a private entity to embark on such initiative would not make business sense just yet as currently solar panels and storage battery are still very expensive. But with the FIT framework just put in place last year, it is very interesting to find out if investing in a larger system can generate ROI sooner than expected. For our initiative back home, it is possible to install a solar PV with a capacity of between 700kWp to 800kWp at each site.

DG - diesel generator
FIT - feed-in tariff
kWp - kilowatt peak
PV - photovoltaic
RE - renewable energy

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dare to Design your own House?

In the local scene, one of the hot topics among people of different trades lately is the Upside-down House in Borneo. This will be the third entry for me and I am not sure yet if this is the last. Not because I like the catchy, unique idea nor because I'm originated from the small town where this structure is built. It's something else - I am a go-green person.

Structural and architectural design were scrutinised and environmental-friendliness of the building was questioned. I like the work of the architect and the use of wooden fittings (or at least wood like) that blends well with the environment.

For those thinking that they can do better than the folks up there, try comparing how cladding systems in a building that you think would look better. To the non-technical readers but just want their future homes  to look great, you may want to read further. Cladding systems can be formulated to enhance the visual appearance of the building significantly. Does it look great, the Upside-down house? I think it looks decent. Not great, just decent enough.

Speaking of being environmentally friendly, and taking into account the fact that this building is meant to attract tourists, the developer could have incorporated some educational elements in the structure such as fixtures that promote energy efficiency, hence lesser carbon footprint. This could then be one of the subject the tour guide can talk about during the guided tour.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Upside Down: What's the Fuss About?

People like to make assumption rather than fact finding when exercising their right of freedom of speech nowadays. Nothing's wrong with that.

The issue is that when we offer opinion without really knowing, (or in the case of Rumah Terbalik in Tamparuli), and having no personal experience about the subject we are commenting. And because of that, people develop negative perception towards the subject matter.

My wife and I had an early breakfast this morning and while reading the Daily Express I saw another article about the Upside-down House of Borneo in Tamparuli. This time the owner and the architect came out addressing the concerns of the public - or rather few individuals - pertaining to health and safety of patrons.

For the record, few days ago PAM Sabah past chairman questioned the qualification of the architect involved in designing the house. Reporters on the other side question the so-called dizziness one would feel after being in the house for 10 minutes.

Read today's copy of the local papers yourself.

While having no vested interest whatsoever in the property and getting no monetary gain writing this, I would say those allegations are a complete NONSENSE! Go there and feel it yourself and tick me if you feel dizzy. If anything, the lack of air-conditioning is the reason you'll feel stuffy after 5 minutes. Temperature inside the house heats up during sunny days and that stresses the body a bit. I felt nothing unusual and the hanging upside-down stuffs don't confuse my vestibular system into coaxing me to lose my balance.

You are allowed to walk only on the dedicated carpet walkway to avoid bodily injury caused by impact from objects that might fall off. If that is your concern then your safety risk is higher back home where fluorescent lamps, ceiling fan, air-conditioners, or your lantern decors are hanging. Paul Yap is the engineer who made sure of the integrity of the structure and he is a well-known local consultant.

What's the fuss about? This house is as good as, if not better than the houses built within the area, except that it is artificially made to look upside down. Remove the roof-like fittings below the floor level and it looks no different from any house.

To the owner, Mr. Yee as the paper quoted him as, this is a great place to 'pit-stop' before continuing with a long journey to, say, Mt.Kinabalu, Kundasang, Ranau or Sandakan/Tawau in the East Coast. Since this is just part of the Tuaran Craft Centre as mentioned, it would be a good idea if you fill the 'tamu' with more handicraft sourced from the folks.

The bakery offers great foods but they come only in small quantity. The trays ran out stock of my favorite tuna and chicken curry puff. It was a weekend, so it could be due to that.

The Upside-down House of Borneo

Environmentally friendly building versus dizziness? Not in my dictionary. I am a strong advocate for the preservation of the nature but feeling dizzy when entering certain house cannot be in the same equation with environmental friendliness.

If you fancy getting dizzy, try driving further towards Tamparuli town and taste the famous Jambatan Gantung Tamparuli. It is a suspension bridge built with sturdier material compared to the old one but chances are many would feel uncomfortable walking on it simply due to the height and the structural sway.

Jambatan Tamparuli620
Jambatan Tamparuli. Down below is the pipe & concrete bridge built during British colonial times

Good luck, and happy travelling.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

FIRST solar thermal Power Plant in Southeast Asia

As posted in my December 2011 entry: Parabolic mirrors that produce electricity, harnessing of energy is done indirectly by converting concentrated sunlight into heat. This heat will be used by a steam turbine or a heat driving generator to generate electricity.

Hence, the name solar thermal.

TSE1 plant in Thailand. Credit: CSP Today
It is a known fact that Thailand is ahead of all other Southeast Asia nations in terms of renewable energy initiatives. Recently, Solarlite - a German concentrated solar power technology provider - commissioned Southeast Asia's first direct steam generation parabolic trough plant called TSE1, to supply 5 MW of electrical power to Thailand's public power network.

TSE1 is the first of 15 CSP stations planned by Thai Solar Energy and when completed, total generating capacity will be 135 MW. There is a feed-in tariff, FIT, scheme in Thailand for small energy generation system of up to a capacity of 10 MW.

Similar to Malaysia's initiative through SEDA, Thailand's aim is to give opportunity to people in the remote areas to participate in electricity generation, especially from renewable sources.

What makes Solarlite installation in Thailand special is that this is world's first in Direct Steam Generation. Instead of heating a thermal oil, the solar energy heats up the water that flows through the parabolic trough collectors receiver tubes. Therefore, no heat transfer oil is needed and heat exchanger - one of the expensive components in the CSP plants - becomes redundant. This means that the CSP plant is more ecological and safe as it uses only water.

Second plant, TSE2 is currently under construction and all of Thailand’s current Solar Program is targeted to be completed by 2015. New program was recently announced, under which 2GW of solar capacity from both solar thermal and Photovoltaic must be installed by 2020 as part of Thailand’s commitment to sourcing 25% of it total energy requirement from renewable energy sources.

Solarlite's solar thermal parabolic trough plant in Thailand. Image credit:

The TSE1 plant does not have energy storage capacity as it is not economical to install storage system for small plants. Meaning, every time clouds shade the plant there would be power outage. Furthermore, Thailand's FIT which has a framework of 10 years and maximum 10MW of plant generating capacity deprive Solarlite the benefit of economic of scale. The current feed-in tariff for energy generated from CSP is 11.5Baht/kwh (about RM1.12/kwh).

Compared with Thailand, FIT scheme in Malaysia is structured to run longer i.e. up to 21-year with more competitive rate, especially Solar PV. This scheme is however limited to only 4 sources of renewable energy, not including CSP. To recall, the four energy sources that enjoy the Malaysian FIT scheme are Solar PV, Biomass, Mini Hydro and Biogas.

Solarlite in an interview with CSP Today stated that if they can make it and be successful in Thailand, they can make it anywhere, and that include Malaysia. They have the advantage of producing components in Southeast Asia (Thailand) and with the right approach with our government, there's no reason why can't CSP be implemented in our country. We can start with the remote areas to power up the rural population.

Why not!

CSP - concentrated solar power
FIT - feed-in tariff
PV - photovoltaic
SEDA - Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Malaysia)

Car Insurance

Earlier this month I posted an article about  the 150 cars stolen everyday in our country. Unfortunately this trend is going to continue for sometime until some bold measures are taken holistically by both drivers and the authority. Well, insurers included.

I had an experience whereby my existing car insurer refused to renew my car insurance policy on grounds that my four-wheel vehicle was one of the hot items in car thieves list. It did not make sense to me as consumer, as I felt I was denied my right to have my property protected. But of course it made business sense to the insurance companies. After all they are here to make money, not to do charity work.

I read one of the online insurance services provider, Multi car insurance and not only did I realised that I could insure multiple cars in a single policy and save on premium but I came to understand the fact that under normal circumstances you have the right to be insured. Being the thieves' favourite does not make your car un-insurable.

However, if one insurer does not intend to provide the service to you,  it's just too bad you have to move on and find another that would shoulder the risk. Ask around or rather shop around on the net. That was what I did and on the second insurance company that I approached, my application was approved. Without loading!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Upside Down House of Borneo

Location: Kg. Telibong, Tamparuli. Not far away from SMK Tamparuli
Officially opened: 1st February 2012
Visiting hours: 8.00am - 8.00pm daily

Entrance fees:
    Adults - RM10 (MyKad holders), RM18 (non-MyKad holders)
    Children - RM5
    Babies - FOC (2 yrs old/ below)

Fancy living in an upside down house, anyone?

In Brief

It is a small house - 140sq. metre - equipped with kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom, bedrooms with its interior decorated with many unique features of Sabah. Except for a bubu (a traditional fishing trap) everything is placed upside down.

A guided tour to the interior of the house takes not more that 15 minutes during our visit, probably due to other groups of other visitors waiting in line. It is understandable as it was only the 4th day since its official opening. After sometime, perhaps, you could spend more time there and hopefully they would allow photography inside the house.

But considering the RM10 fee per person, it could be a one-of visit to many unless the owner add up more attractions within and outside the centre in the future. The house is designed for a small family of three and hence its small size.

Even the garage is upside down.

Further story with more pictures here.

Have a safe journey and make this place a pit-stop the next time you travel to Ranau, Sandakan, and Tawau. It's just next to the Shell gas station.

Friday, February 3, 2012

SESB: Kemukakan Segera Permohonan

Salam sejahtera.

Selari dengan hasrat kerajaan untuk mensasarkan liputan bekalan eletrik kepada 95% di Sabah tahun ini, SESB telah menggesa mana-mana kampung dan peserta Projek Bantuan Rumah yang belum mendapat bekalan elektrik agar membuat permohonan rasmi di pejabat daerah atau pejabat SESB terdekat.

Berikut disertakan keratan akhbar mengenai kenyataan tersebut.

Harian Express: 2 Februari 2012

Sekiranya anda merasakan Unit Pemimpin Kemajuan Rakyat, UPKR, atau pihak bertanggungjawab lain di tempat anda tidak memberikan khidmat sebagaimana yang anda harapkan, apakata anda sebagai badan JKKK membuat permohonan rasmi terus kepada Pejabat Daerah dan SESB?

Gunakan keratan akhbar ini sebagai testimoni dalam surat permohonan anda, yang juga menunjukkan pendekatan pro-aktif pihak TNB/SESB untuk memastikan semua kampung, jauh atau terpencil, mendapat peluang yang sama rata.

Sekiranya anda tercari-cari masa dan peluang keemasan untuk melobi pembangunan luar bandar di tempat anda, inilah masanya! Buat surat permohonan rasmi, sertakan salinan kertaskerja terdahulu, minta pengesahan atau perakuan YB ADUN dan hantar sendiri permohonan atau surat susulan tersebut kepada SESB.

Come on, 95% for 2012 and let's do our part to make it 100% by 2013. Nothing is impossible as, where there is a will there is a way!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

150 Cars Stolen Daily: is yours next?

Are you driving one of these? If yes then your car is one of those that are hot on the thief's list.

    Image: The Star

The Star reported that since 2010 thieves whisked away 112,503 cars comprising mostly Proton and Perodua models.

2010 - 57,462 cases
2011 - 55,041 cases (as of September)

This gives an average of 150 daily cases of stolen vehicles. According to Federal CID director Comm. Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin, demand for stolen vehicles is high and in particular they are:

1) used for repairs and parts replacement
2) popular at construction sites in the remote areas
3) used in robberies and other criminal activities

The above list is not according to rank but it is strongly believed that four-wheel drive vehicles, especially Toyota Hilux are high on demand in the middle East. 4x4 vehicles are the popular means of transportation among rebel forces.

Some insurance companies tend to turn away applications for vehicle insurance coverage for cars high on thief list. I have an experience whereby instead of getting Renewal Notice for my four-while vehicle, I received a refusal notice stating that AIG Malaysia (now Chartis) would not renew my policy. At that time a 'sibling' of the 4x4 model I was driving was known to be thieves' favourite.

So there. Take extra precaution so that yours is not the next car in the statistics.

And drive safely, too!