Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth Hour 2012

Environment-conscious citizens can take part in one of the various activities lined up for this year’s Earth Hour - a practice observed worldwide to raise awareness on climate change - this evening. If you are still wondering or unclear about it, you can read about what is earth hour here.

Consumers are encouraged to switch off their non-essential lightings or electrical appliances during Earth Hour, which falls today, March 31, 2012. As its name suggest the period is one hour, starting from 8.30pm. During this period, our local energy utility, SESB, expects a reduction of load of 50 MW. But it also anticipate up to 70MW of drop of power consumption throughout the state.

For the record, highest drop of power demand was recorded in March, 2007 totalling 30.28 MW. Consumers in both Sabah and Federal Territory of Labuan took part in that practice.


Earth Hour Happenings: What and Where.

City Hall leads. City Hall collaborates with Sutera Harbour Resort to hold exciting programs at the tennis court (Sutera Harbour Resort), starting 6.00pm with food stalls, children’s recycled item contest, spa product show, and night photography. Night photography can be very rewarding and you would be surprised at how fascinating the results could be. Try it, compact point-and-shoot or DSLR camera would both give interesting perspectives.

Perhaps a good idea to take picture of the night/evening view of Sutera Harbour Resort itself.


Street-wise. Turning off of streetlights at 8.30pm along the main road from Tun Mustapha building (Yayasan Sabah) to the citi centre to Coastal Highway and down to Tanjung Aru. An entourage by the Mayor and other guests will cycle from the city to First Beach, Tanjung Aru later at 9.30pm.


Tun Mustapha Tower is on the far left. Can't imagine these street lights being switched-off.


Educating the youth. At St. Michael’s School, Miss Earth Sabah, Olivia Vun gave a talk on the Earth Hour and also conducted a quiz session with 500 secondary students on Friday. Organised by MNE (Mandy Nandu) Productions, such program is one of Miss Earth Sabah’s initiatives to practice the cause that they upheld. Also present was Sabah Environment Protection Director, Yabi Yangkat, and the program sponsor Gardenia’s GM David Yong.

What about petition? Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society (SWCS) will have a petition signing during Earth Hour (today, March 31 2012) against a proposed condominium project in the vicinity of the First Beach in Tanjung Aru.


Tg. Aru First Beach - maybe SWCS should highlight this indiscriminate felling of trees, too.



A challenge for a good cause

In support of the Earth Hour 2012, HSBC Bank Malaysia will switch off non-essential external lights and internal signboards in all of its branches starting 8.30pm nationwide.

HSBC also challenged you to a duel: “I will if you will”. In this challenge, the management pledges to plant 10 trees for every 1kg of used dry cells, rechargeable, mobile phone or laptop batteries collected. Special recycle bins will be placed at common and public areas within its headquarters in Leboh Ampang, Kuala Lumpur and selected branches nationwide. If you are HSBC’s customer and happen to read this, do ask the bank if they have the bins and take part of you have used batteries with you.


What about you?

If you prefer to stay at home and watch this weekend football matches, or enjoy some great movies, the least you can do is switch of one or two of your non-essential lightings, such as the 60W corridor bulb, the  2 x 36W garage fluorescent lamps, etc. For me, I will turn off one of the energy saving lamp at the backyard and the fluorescent tube at the entrance.

Happy Earth Hour, everyone. AND save few watts of energy today.


Note: All photographs in this article are taken by myself and are therefore copyrighted. Should you wish to paste them on your website, kindly give due credit and link them back to this page.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Demand for solar PV materials doubling in 5 years

Despite the imposition of tariffs on Chinese solar panels by the US Department of Commerce, sales of solar PV panels is set to increase by one-fold over the next 5 years.

AEI Consulting recon that, over the next five years, materials used in solar PV modules will surge to nearly US$42 billion worth of sales. This is a very encouraging finding from the perspective of solar PV entrepreneurs, as well as us who think green is the way forward. If the people still think that solar photovoltaic business is not profitable, this piece of information would and should be an eye opener.


PV cell and module chemical and material demand, in US $ millions. (Source: AEI Consulting)



AEI's studies are wide ranging and covers the production processes and supply chain for solar cell manufacturing, including silicon, slurries, gases, wet chemicals, precursors, dopants, and other materials. It found that the $19.7bil worth of solar photovoltaic materials transacted in 2011, polysilicon made up the biggest chunk:
41% - Polysilicon
16% - Glass, EVA films, backsheets
12% - Saw wires & slurries
11% - Metallic pastes
9%  - other chemicals
11% - other materials
However, in 4 years' time the use of poly-silicon would shrink to 16% as a result of adopting new means of reducing its use, and due to improved processing methods. Increasing cell efficiency also will lead to more technology improvements, which would effectively reduce the solar module prices.


Progress in the pipeline


Manufacturers of thin-film solar PV modules are progressing fast in improving efficiencies and reducing materials costs. Technology upgrades include improved plasma deposition, buffer layer designs, and anti-reflective layers, and laser patterning.

Also, advancements are seen with nano-crystalline silicon oxide doped layers, replacing the cadmium sulfide (Cds) buffer layer with a more transparent material (zinc oxide or ZnO), and adopting close spaced sublimation (CSS) deposition for CdTe cells.


What's in there for me?

Cost to put solar PV panels on your rooftop will obviously be cheaper. Cheap in this context is relative but judging from the world-wide investments and green initiatives by a lot of countries, you can be sure of better acceptance of this method of RE in the near term.

Currently, a grid-connected installation would cost you roughly RM14,000 to RM15,000 per kWp of solar PV. In 5 years, that could go down well below RM10,000 (US$3,000). Throw in the FiT incentive and you just need to pay a fraction of that upon signing of the power purchase agreement.

Previous article: Seminar transformasi negara


References:
RenewableEnergyWorld news,
AEI Research (Consulting)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Seminar transformasi negara

Date: 29 March 2012
Venue: Tun Hamdan Hall, Tamparuli
Speaker: Datuk Hj. Ibrahim Saad - Director of BTN, Sabah



"Minum dulu, Datuk", an organising committee member offering Datuk Hajiji Hj. Noor a drink during the closing ceremony.


It was an interesting session with the Village Heads and JKKK Chairpersons whereby they get some insight of the ongoing government transformation programs. A relatively brief session considering the large crowd turnout from Tamparuli, Kiulu and Tuaran.

I wished there was Q&A session so that participants could ask questions and bring forward suggestions and comments. I've wanted to ask about the GST implementation and seek clarification on how it will champion the interest of the generally poor people, or at least how this would benefit them. Tuaran is not one of the Districs with better income population. 

Then again, seminar lke this may not be the venue for such dialogue. Datuk Hj Ibrahim seem to be a well learnt person and he should've been able to provide a reasonably good answer to such query.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

GST likely after general election

Quote of the day:

“I guess when the time is right, in the near future, probably after the next general election, we will introduce the GST," - PM, Najib Razak during an interview with Forbes Media, September last year.


Image credit: isarawak.com


Firstly, politics is not my cup of tea, so, the title should be read in no way affiliated to my or anyone's political inclination. This entry is just a reminder to all of us of the imminent implementation of the goods and services tax (GST). Should Malaysia implement it, or should we stick to the current taxation system?


What is GST

GST, also known as VAT (value added tax) in many other countries is a multi-stage consumption tax on goods and services. It is levied on the supply of goods and services at each stage of the supply chain, and the proposed rate is 4% of the value of the supply.

In simple term, if you buy an item (say Manchester United cap) for RM100.00, a goods tax of RM4.00 (4% GST) will be levied on you pay a total of RM104.00 for the merchandise.


Why switch to GST

To replace the current consumption tax i.e. the sales tax and service tax. The government hopes to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the existing taxation system by introducing GST. It is also capable of generating a more stable revenue to the nation.


How does it work

Registered businesses charge and collect from buyers/customers GST on the taxable supplies of goods and services made by them. Businesses must be registered under GST if their annual sales turnover has exceeded the prescribed threshold. The collected taxes would then be remitted to the Government. For illustration and if you enjoy lengthy explanation, make a jump to Ministry of Finance website and look for 'How does GST work'.


Is GST widely practiced?

Most developed nations implement GST and as of 2010 there are 146 countries adopting this taxation system. These includes United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Indonesia, India, to name a few. Click to see the list of countries which have implemented GST/VAT.


How about South East Asia?


Indonesia (10%), Philippines (12%), Singapore (7%), Thailand (7%) and Vietnam (10%) are currently implementing GST. The figures in brackets are rate at which GST is levied, as at August 2010.

In comparison, GST rates in other countries are higher. For instance:-
Denmark (25%)
France (19.6%)
United Kingdom (20% as of Jan 2011)
Canada (5%) - notably lower
Japan (5%)
China (17%)
South Korea (10%)
Spain (18%)
Argentina (21%)

Malaysia proposed a GST to be levied at the rate of 4% on the value of the supply. This has not been finalised yet.


How will this affect me and you?

I will quote PM Najib: "Malaysia has a 12 million workforce and only 1.2 million paid taxes" - The StarOnline, Tuesday September 13, 2011.

With the implementation, all 28 million Malaysian will be paying taxes instead of the current 15% (roughly) working population, plus corporate taxes. From this point of view, I would agree to it as I'm currently in the 15% category and I am feeling the pinch of paying high individual tax while others who work and earn more than me pay nothing because of the limited scope of taxation.

Then again, the 85% earning less than the threshold salary, and those self employed earning 'just enough' would be victimised by the GST. A poor farmer would pay the same GST as the high income CEO of a company. It is no surprise then that the proposed GST implementation have come under strong criticism and protest from many quarters.

There has to be a mechanism to discriminate the rich and poor in terms of paying taxes. The well educated and experienced policy makers just need to work harder.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The water buffalo

The water buffalo, also known locally as kerbau, karabau or karibo is the classic work animal in Malaysia and in general, Asia.

The kerbau is considered domesticated animal as it takes special place in the traditional economic and cultural activities of human. Water buffalo is often relied upon for ploughing the rice fields and for transportation in many parts of Asia.

Many years ago, water buffaloes were seen and considered as one of the indicators to one's wealth. The bigger the herd, the wealthier the individual is. Also, they were often given to the bride's family as customary dowry during wedding ceremonies of some indigenous people in Sabah.

This one is a carving of water buffalo and it is almost life-size. I shot this at J-Borneo Native Village, not far away from Lok Kawi wildlife park:


the water bufallo
Carved wooden wall showing a lady riding a water buffalo.

See more (not carving), real water buffaloes of Borneo here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kimanis RM1.5bil gas-fired plant

Last month myself and a group of colleagues travelled South to Beaufort on a tour of duty. After about an hour of driving, we passed by Kimanis, Papar. This is the location of the (soon-to-be) biggest - designed for 300MW - power plants in Sabah to address the power supply issue in the state. It is still in the early stage of construction.

Not exactly the Power Plant but this SOGT project site should give you an idea of where the generators will be sited.


The power plant costs about RM1.5 billion (US$485 mil) to build and it is owned by Kimanis Power Sdn Bhd (KPSB), a 60:40 joint-venture initiative between Petronas Gas Berhad and NRG Consortium (Sabah) Sdn Bhd, a company under Yayasan Sabah.

The gas-fuelled plant consists of 3 nos of 100MW generating blocks, each of which consists of Gas Turbine Generator (GTG), Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG) and Steam Turbine Generator (STG). This makes it 300MW in total and this should take care of at least short term electricity demand in Sabah. But it is also understood that the plant has allocated a space for future upgrading and the expansion infrastructure can cater for additional 100MW of supply.

According to SESB's data, Sabah recorded a highest peak demand (MD) of 830MW on June 28, 2011. The independent power producer (IPP) could not have came at a better time.

Engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning works for the combined cycle gas power plant is to be done by Synerlitz Sdn Bhd (Taiwan owned) and SCHB Engineering Services (a subsidiary of Suria Capital Holdings Berhad).

The Kimanis Power Plant project is one of the bigger spin-off activities from the proposed Sabah Onshore Gas Terminal (SOGT) project, located in Kimanis and implemented by Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd. Site preparation works for the SOGT project was undertaken by Montis Sdn Bhd, a Penampang-based local company.

SOGT site preparation works - local company benefited.


The power plant project is scheduled for full completion in 32 months' time, from Apr 1, 2011 and the first commercial operation date for the first generating block is December 1, 2013.

Once completed, the Kimanis Power Plant will be the biggest IPP plant Sabah (until such time that a bigger one comes in) and it will take great responsibility in supplying reliable and clean electricity to Malaysians in Sabah.


Power plant summary


















Power supply requirement fulfilled?

The short term energy demand should be taken care of for now but more such facilities must be constructed to meet the fast increasing peak demand. According to SESB, electricity demand in Sabah is expected to reach 1,500 MW by the year 2020.

Preferably, there should also be some investment in renewable energy such as hydroelectric, biomass/biogas and solar photovoltaic.

Can you tell what this is?

No? Move closer to your screen.



Still looking? Stand up, move away from your computer, 1 or 2 metres away. You can stand further if that makes it easy to recognise the picture.

Okay, sit down and get on with the job. Hope that've moved a muscle or two and made you feel better.

Good day!

Credit: I got this from xlupa.com but I suppose the originator of this image is the one on the watermark (in blue).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Taxpayers to get refund in less than 30 days

That's right.

Taxpayers who filed their taxes via e-filing will receive their refunds within 30 days. Tax refunds will be credited directly into their bank accounts.

Inland Revenue Board, IRB head office in Kota Kinabalu



IRB public relations officer Masrun Maslim was quoted by Daily Express (March 25, 2012) to have stated that the refund would be made using Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) system, which can shorten the processing time under a month.

“The process is done online and refunds will be credited directly into their bank accounts declared to the board when they fill up their Income Tax Return Forms (ITRFs),” he said in a statement in Kuala Lumpur.

The process could be expedited even further if tax-payers had submitted their ITRFs through e-filing. Tax payers must however, ensure that the information, such as their names and identification card numbers match the details in their declared bank accounts. Any discrepancies will result in delays.

Last year, the board approved as many as 1,270,000 refund cases. Of that, 285,261 cases or 24% were processed through EFT. The number of refund through electronic fund transfer is still far from IRB’s target due to a number of reasons, such as:
  1. Taxpayers are still apprehensive when declaring their bank account information when filling out the Forms,
  2. Bank accounts declared inactive,
  3. Bank accounts frozen or closed,
  4. Taxpayers had submitted passport and/or identification card numbers that did not match the information in their bank accounts.
I found, through online readings, that there are taxpayers who get refunds as soon as after 1 week of filing through e-filing. If I recall correctly, last year the amount of tax overpaid to the board was refunded to me in less than a month. So, this should be good news.


Get paid 2% if IRB refund late

Meanwhile, to show accountability on the part of IRB, starting from Year of Assessment 2013, a taxpayer who has submitted the income tax return within the stipulated period will be entitled to a compensation of 2% per annum on the amount of tax refunded late by the IRB.




The 2% compensation is payable where the amount refunded is made after:
  • 90 days from the due date (for e-filing); or
  • 120 days from the due date (for manual filing); whichever is applicable.

    Compare this to the current 10% penalty on taxpayers who are late in paying the outstanding tax or are late in submitting their returns, and you would feel hard done by.

    I agree. The quantum should be similar in two ways, vice versa.

    References:
    1. Tax budget 2012
    2. Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia

    Saturday, March 24, 2012

    Not just great advertisements

    These are good teamwork illustrations. Obviously this is coming from a transportation industry and yet there is nothing that suggest they (advertiser and the characters) are intended to be connected.

    Have a great weekend and enjoy the clips.
    (By the way, don't be fooled by the captions on each clip. You have to see them to dispute them)


    "Mr. Crab, here is your $1 million!"




    Mr. Penguin - 'is as cool as ever'. Remember Madagascar




    Check out if "As hardworking as ant" is even relevant here.


    Note: You can view the high-definition versions on Youtube.

    China, Indonesia sign US$17b deals

    Jakarta Globe on Mar 23, 2012 posted on its website that Indonesia and China signed six agreements and prospective deals worth at least $17 billion.

    The deals, signed in Beijing, are reported to be in the fields of mining, hydropower and steel. This is following China's President Hu's six-point proposal to expand links with Indonesia in oil, gas, mining, electricity, space and renewable energy.

    I am particularly interested in the effort by the two Asian economies to strengthen ties in renewable energy. As indicated in the report, China would be collaborating with Indonesia in the development and installation of hydroelectric power generators, and probably solar PV. Note that China is currently the largest producer of solar modules and is very aggressive in promoting the solar PV industry.

    With these deals and agreements, it is expected that Indonesia will step up the gear in renewable energy initiatives as in Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippine. In South East Asia, Thailand is the fore runner in renewable energy industries.

    China is currently Malaysia's biggest trading partner but on few occasions (months) is surpassed by Singapore. In January 2012, Malaysia's top 5 trading partners  are China, Singapore, Japan, EU, and the United States in that order.


    Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (C) walks with China's President Hu Jintao (L)
    as they inspect an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in
    Beijing on March 23, 2012. (AFP photo, channelnewsasia.com)


    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Read the rest of the story:-
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Jakarta Globe
    March 23, 2012

    Beijing. Indonesia and China strengthened their bilateral relations on Friday with the signing of six agreements and prospective deals worth potentially more than $17 billion.The agreements followed talks on Friday between visiting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Chinese President Hu Jintao, in which both sides reaffirmed the importance of relations.

    “Both countries have the spirit to increase strategic cooperation in various sectors,” said Yudhoyono, who received an honorary doctorate from Tsinghua University on Friday afternoon.

    Hu and Yudhoyono witnessed the signing of agreements on maritime cooperation, fighting drug trafficking, trade statistics, Chinese visitors to Indonesia and a joint oceanography and weather-research institute. China’s Foreign Ministry quoted Hu as telling Yudhoyono that China supported the idea of Indonesia playing a greater international role and that it wanted to expand bilateral cooperation on global affairs. Hu made a six-point proposal, which was welcomed by Yudhoyono, to “strengthen strategic communication,” increase trade and broaden ties in other areas.

    China wanted to expand links with Indonesia in oil, gas, mining, electricity, space and renewable energy, Hu said. The nations should also expand defense cooperation by “staging joint drills, increasing visits [and] jointly combating terrorism and cross-border crime.”

    Indonesian and Chinese business leaders also reached agreements worth $17.4 billion, Yudhoyono said.

    “The cooperation has been agreed upon in 15 memorandums of understanding. The sectors in which cooperation has been established include seaports, roads, alternative energy, the motorcycle industry, mining, construction in strategic areas and steel industry,” he said.

    Chinese state news agency Xinhua said companies attending the business summit included China Huadian Corp., China National Offshore Oil, China Harbor Engineering and Indonesian state steel maker Krakatau Steel. Yudhoyono said Indonesia welcomed Chinese companies to invest in the country and assist with infrastructure projects. Hu said the two nations were on track to Reaching $80 billion in bilateral trade by 2015.

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    International Solar PV Manufacturers in Malaysia

    Current statistics (forget about the outdated data in Wikipedia) shows that Malaysia is currently the THIRD largest solar module manufacturing hub in the world.

    Several solar panel manufacturers are thriving in the country, such as First Solar, located at Kedah; Q-cells, which has a base in Selangor; AUO and SunPower’s unit, located at Melaka; and MEMC, which operates from Sarawak.

    UPDATE: Due to deteriorating market conditions in Europe, German's First Solar scaled back on production in Malaysia by idling 4 production lines at its plant in Kedah effective May 1, 2012. Not a good news for the industry.



    AUO SunPower solar PV manufacturing plant in Melaka, Malaysia


    SunPower and AU Optronics have begun the construction of a new solar photo voltaic production facility, which will generate 1,400 MWs. The facility will be completed by 2013 and is located at Melaka, which is the hub of solar energy in Malaysia. Located outside the capital of Kuala Lumpur, the installed capacity will be 28 solar production lines.

    It began production in October 2011 and produced close to 5 MW, showing high conversion efficiency of 22.5%. This facility will be unique, in the sense that it will have a parking area that also hosts solar cells, helping in the production of 2.6MW of power generation annually. Additionally, rooftop installations will help in the production of another 10MW every year.

    The latest investor is Panasonic Energy Malaysia Sdn. Bhd., a Japanese electronics giant that has grown significantly as a solar panel manufacturer. The company has announced that it will invest US $580 million to install a production facility for a solar cell plant at Kedah. It is expected to be operational by December of this year. The facility is slated to produce 300MW of PV. The plan includes production of Panasonics’ HIT photo voltaic modules and will look at solar wafers, modules and cell production, while employing close to 1,500 personnel.

    Other companies beginning production are IRM Group subsidiary IRM Solar Sdn Bhd, following the Feed-In Approval it received from the Sustainable Energy Development Authority for the installation of 5.0MW capacity at Padang Besar. The FiT for IRM Solar will commence from 9 April 2013, and will be provided for the next 21 years.

    Malaysia is very upbeat with the introduction of a new silicon-cell product, which includes a wafer production system that is expected to cut solar cell production by a massive US$0.40 per Watt/W. The company, called Twin Creeks Technologies, has already announced that aside of its Senatobia demo plant in Mississippi, where it is currently manufacturing 25MW; it wants to increase production to 100MW by opting for a joint venture in Malaysia to build production facilities. Twin Creeks has released a new product that slices polysilicon with an ion cannon to one-tenth of the thickness of today’s wafers.

    Looking for sales in Asia, Malaysia has a promise of becoming the Grand Central of solar, second only to China for new and old companies.

    Source: solarpvinvestor

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    A Healing Miracle for Burns

    This is one of the tips you'd have probably received as friends and acquaintances forward things and stuffs through to you via e-mail. This has not happen to me nor my next of kin but it is worth keeping, who knows.

    It is about treatment for burns with egg whites.

    'Use only the egg whites' - Image source unknown


    Keep in mind this treatment of burns is being included in teaching beginner fireman. First Aid consists of first spraying cold water on the affected area until the heat is reduced which stops the continued burning of all layers of the skin. Then, spread the egg whites onto the affected area.

      Example: One woman burned a large part of her hand with boiling water. In spite of the pain, she ran cold faucet water on her hand, separated 2 egg whites from the yolks, beat them slightly and dipped her hand in the solution. The whites then dried and formed a protective layer.
      She later learned that the egg white is a natural collagen and continued during at least one hour to apply layer upon layer of beaten egg white. By afternoon she no longer felt any pain and the next day there was hardly a trace of the burn. 10 days later, no trace was left at all and her skin had regained its normal color. The burned area was totally regenerated thanks to the collagen in the egg whites, a placenta full of vitamins.

    Since this information could be helpful to everyone, it is a good idea to share it with them. I pray that you never have a need for it but in any case, keeping a dozen or so of egg in your kitchen is not going to cause you any harm. You've got nothing to lose, the eggs are there also for consumption.

    Author's unknown, so this is yet to be proven. At least for me.

    How fast would you have to run to "walk on water"

    I attended a World Water Day recently, but this has nothing to do with conserving water or anything about food security. This is purely for light moment/s.

    spectators
    "Trying to walk on water, kids?"


    So, how fast would you have to run to run on water? Science Focus gives us some insight:

    To avoid sinking, you need to generate thrust equal to your weight. You generate this by pushing water down and backwards with each step. For a size 9 shoe, you can’t push more than around 3.5 litres of water at a time or you would sink too far and friction with the water would slow you down too much. So that 3.5Kg of water has to be pushed back fast enough to offset your weight.

    If you weigh 75kg, you’ll need to push it back at around 11m/s. Since the water moves back as you push it, you need to go twice as fast as that or you would stand still. So that’s a running speed of almost 80km/hr, which would be quite impossible even in a calculation that ignores things like fluid drag.

    So, if you can finish a 100m track within 10 seconds, you are running at 10m/s and you are very close, but not quite. I think Usain Bolt won't be able to accomplish that (running on water) either.

    Calculation source: Science Focus

    Previous article: No Plastic Bottle at World Water Day

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    No Plastic Bottle at World Water Day, Sabah

    This is the first ever State Level World Water Day (WWD) in Kita Kinabalu, co-organised by Jabatan Air Negeri Sabah, Jabatan Kerja Raya Sabah, Jabatan Pengairan dan Saliran Sabah and The Institution of Engineers Malaysia Sabah Branch.

    A series of related entries will be following shortly but just for eye opener, I'll share some introductory facts about the theme - Water and Food Security. This year marks the 19th Anniversary of the WWD and the theme is one that was chosen by United Nation.

    The amount of water on our planet is 97.5% salt water, and only 2.5% is fresh water. The 2.5% freshwater is made up of 68.5% water locked in glaciers, 30.8% is groundwater and 0.3% are lakes and rivers. One-third of the world's population now lives in countries where there is not enough water or its quality compromised, and by 2025 the UN assessed that this number shall increase to two-third. That's just 12 to 13 years from now!

    If nothing is done to sustain the availability of freshwater, its scarcity shall increase and the world shall be hungry, especially when the world's population keeps growing. Currently 70% of available water is used in agriculture for the production of food.

    No bottle
    The conference doesn't allow plastic bottles in the event. That's cool!


    WWD is an international day to celebrate freshwater and it was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), and 22 March 1993 was designated as the first World WaterDay.

    Since then nations around the world have been celebrating WWD each year by organising their own activities.

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    Rare Earth Metals - the new oil

    Not too long ago not so many people think that rare earth elements, REEs, were going to become one of the precious and sought after commodities in the IT age. Or at least people took REEs for granted, thinking that, although they are called 'rare', rare earth metals exist in abundance in many parts of the world and hence no one should be worry about their supply.

    But today - and you know it happened in a blink of an eye - many applications of REEs change the way we do things totally and differently. Suddenly developed nations start worrying about China's over 95% control of REEs production. No doubt REEs are very important and you can look at the non-exhaustive rare earth elements applications in my previous entry, posted as the protest to the setting up of Lynas rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Pahang gathered pace.



    Rare Earth Elements - world production and reserve. Source: US Geological Survey


    Rare Earth is the new oil

    At least this is what Asia Times online believes. Rare earth elements are becoming as important as oil in many aspects of our life. They are used in most high-tech products predominantly in the form of heavy-duty batteries and magnets. They are pivotal in defense technology as in lasers, radars and electromagnetic weaponry, as well as green technology as in hydroelectric power plant, windmill, hybrid cars, etc.

    Asia Times online noted that US Geological Survey (USGS) estimated global reserve of rare earth elements as of 2011 as follows:

    China - 36 Mt to 55 Mt (megatons). Half of the world total reserve.
    USA - 15 Mt
    Russia - 19 Mt (together with former Soviet republics)
    Australia - 1.6 Mt (down from 5.4 Mt)
    India - 2.7 Mt
    Malaysia, Brazil - listed by USGS as 'small' amount

    What is interesting to note here is that despite China's only 50% of rare earth reserve, more than 95% of production is currently in China. Meaning, other countries are not interested (or trying to avoid) in doing the processing/production domestically.


    Is it a dirty industry?

    Many developed countries with untapped rare earths reserve prefer to buy processed products from China, and many people, including rich nations rightly think that rare earth processing is best left outside of their respective countries. And who else could you depend on in doing such tasks? China.

    Malaysia is currently contemplating constructing Lynas Advance Material Plant in Gebeng Pahang, a rare earth processing facility owned by Lynas Corp., Australia. This is a multi-billion dollar project that is said to benefit Malaysia financially and technologically.

    Dirty or not, rare earth metals are fast becoming the goods to die for and prices per kilo of REEs have increased 10-fold in 2010. China is now reaping the benefit of accelerated growth of high-tech industry as many high-tech manufacturers are forced to relocate to China.

    I suppose Malaysia is eying the same. But the situation in Malaysia is different - we import raw REEs, process and produce them, then send the finish products back to developed countries, and we keep the waste. Cleaning the dirty waste is not easy, and is far from cheap.


    Don't get ourselves exploited

    Malaysia must stand firm against the demands from foreign countries wanting to make Malaysia as their rare earth processing factory. If the US can put priority on its environment, and willing to buy processed REEs from China, than there must be something right about them not doing the mining and processing domestically. Remember, the US has a lot of REEs reserve of its own.

    Malaysia has its own reserve of fossil oil, plenty of it. Explore it and process domestically and don't export crude oil. We don't have (very small) rare earth metals in our country - so, don't pollute our backyard by importing them from Australia.


    For further readings jumps to:
    Previous article: Of rare earth and Lynas - Part II
    Previous article: Of rare earth and Lynas
    Source of this entry: Asia Times online

    Sunday, March 18, 2012

    RM700 - Get your own accomodations

    I wrote about my opinion on the illogical One maid, one task decision in my previous entry. I'll add to that post my further take on the minimum RM700 maid salary.

    Image credit.


    By setting yourself a minimum salary of RM700 per month, doing only the task you are trained for, you are in your own right a professional. You are governed by a structured work ethics, a guaranteed fixed salary structure including compensation for working outside of your stipulated working hours. This is exactly what the the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration set out in its training to prepare aspiring maids to work in Malaysia.

    Common sense would have it that for the above to have taken place, the worker (in particular, the maid) is a competent, self-sufficient employee just like anyone working for someone else. As such, the maid is expected to:
    1. Provide for his/her own accommodation, probably by renting a house or room nearby. Or, rent a room in the employer's home.
    2. Provide for his/her own meal. Buy all the groceries he/she need and never touch a single piece of rice in the employer's kitchen
    3. If he/she is renting a room in the employer's home, he/she will provide for her own cooking utensils.
    4. In-house entertainment. A maid is not allowed to turn on any TV, media players, computers, etc without the employer's verbal permission.
    5. Like any other professions, a maid is subjected to disciplinary actions when he/she violate the working ethics and job descriptions.
    Now that would be harsh, tense or at least 'too formal' for a housemaid who is expected to bond a fairly good tie with the employer and the children under his/her care. You don't want to go to that extent so why set a condition to your prospective employer in the first place.


    Let the market sort out the demand-and-supply issues

    A job is a contract that both parties agree to. If there is big demand for certain job, supply will be short and price will be higher. So be creative and source for locally available supply,  or from oversea supply elsewhere where talent requirement is similar at less demanding cost.

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Day 28, United go top!

    After so many weeks of playing catch up with noisy neighbour Manchester City, defending champions Manchester United finally go on top on the 28th game. Both teams are now out of Europa League following their early exit from the prestigious UEFA Champions League.


    English Premier League standings after 28 games. There are 10 more games left to play.


    For United, the domestic league is the only hope for a silverware this season, trying to defend the titled they won last season. For city, this is the closest they have come to in an attempt to claim their first premier league title since 1967/68 season.

    So, I'll mark Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 as the turning point for United to have turn things around for the better.

    Manchester United beat West Bromwich 2 - 0
    Manchester City lose to Swansea City 0 - 1
    United go top with 67 points to City's 66 points.

    Been there, done that, so many times. United visit Wolverhampton tomorrow and if they can get maximum points they'll be 4 points clear at the top. City play Chelsea in the mid-week and pressure will be on them if United win at Molineux Stadium.


    Prediction for tomorrow's game: 2 - 0 to United.
    So, come on you guys! Go! Go United!

    One maid, one task not logical

    "If a maid is employed as a cook, she will only be tasked with chores related to cooking and will not be doing any other duties such as babysitting or washing clothes," - Dr Reyna Usman, during a task force's meeting at the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, Jakarta.


    Daily Express - Mar 17, 2012


    Okay, this is not in line with the understanding achieved by the two nations, according to Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam. But if it is going ahead as stated by Indonesian Minister Dr Reyna Usman then employers are likely to have to hire 4 maids to cater for the different chores:
    1. Cooking
    2. Babysitting
    3. Taking care of the elderly
    4. Housekeeping
    In most cases families would take care of the elderly and the more likely scenario is to have maids for babysitting, cooking and housekeeping.


    So, here is what I think will happen:

    Different maids for cooking, babysitting and housekeeping: RM700 x 3 = RM2,100
    Cost to hire maids ( one time, to hiring agencies, etc) = RM4,511
    Overtime payment if working on rest days = RM27/day

    Rest day per week: 1 day
    Passport: To be kept by the maids

    By spreading the cost for hiring into 36 months (3 years), it is an equivalent to RM125 per month and add this to the monthly wages of RM2,100 and the employer ends up paying RM2,225 every month for the next 3 years. Is this the scenario you want to put yourself in?


    No, thank you

    No, not for me. RM2,225 can go a long way. I will hire a local who would be happy to do all 3 chores at RM800 - RM900 per month, give the maid a 1 day of every weekend, and I can make use of the remaining RM1,425 to pay for a brand new car of my choice, or pay my home loan.

    My local maid won't need any passport and I do not have to worry about a maid running away to a better paying employer. 


    Human Resource Ministry partly to blame!

    The reason why locals are reluctant to become household maids is that there is no salary structure or scheme and no clear employment benefits put in place by the Human Resource Ministry. If there's one, and there is minimum wages for maids then it will become a profession.

    It takes a bold move from other countries for the government to start thinking about solving the maids shortage in Malaysia. Why foreigners? Why not locals? Are we locals really not that interested in this kind of profession? I don't think so. Given the right working condition, and a clear framework for remuneration, anyone would do it. It is similar to the construction and plantation industries.


    What do you think?

    To be fair to the Indonesia government, this may have been the current practice and arrangement with other countries where its maids are deployed to. But if it's not then we have every right to question such move and reject the seemingly illogical decision.

    If you think locals are hard to deal with, or problematic and lazy, it makes very much sense to look elsewhere other than Indonesia.

    20 MW Apple's NC Solar Farm?

    Read the title or mention Apple and you immediately think about iPhone and iPad. You are not to blame for such alignment. In fact, to the people outside of the US these two products are the closest they could relate the blooming company to. Little known is Apple's green initiative for sustainable energy source in solar PV. The company is initiating a solar farm in North Carolina.

    Mention Samsung to anyone anywhere in the world and chances are the person knows at least one or two of their telecommunication products. Apple and Samsung are two electronics giants that are shaping the way we communicate today. In their own right, they should be the front-runners in terms of sending the go-green message to the world. Let's look at how environmental-friendly they are.


    Samsung's Green initiatives

    Samsung Electronics' green initiatives are enveloped in its company-wide commitment called PlanetFirstTM, a commitment to become one of the world’s most environmentally friendly companies by 2013.

    Samsung's green initiatives. Click image for large view.

    In order to make this commitment a reality, Samsung targeted four specific areas: reducing greenhouse emissions, offering more eco-friendly products, building eco-management partnerships around the world, and investing in eco-friendly R&D design facilities. Obviously, this is a huge project, but we are proud to share some of the outcomes - by samsungtomorrow.

    Check out Samsung's PlanetFirst™ short video clip here.

    To summarise things for this company, Samsung Electronics' Green Initiative have accumulated green management investment to a total of US$1.90billion since 2009.


    Apple's 20MW Solar Farm?

    While Samsung focus its green initiatives on products and procedures, Apple seem to be a step ahead in harnessing renewable energy to power up its operations.

    RenewableEnergyWorld carried a report in its magazine revealing Apple's plan for a big solar project at its new data farm in North Carolina.

    In February,  Apple disclosed plans to partly power its giant new data farm in Maiden, NC, with a 20 megawatt (MW) solar system. Also part of the plan is a smaller fuel cell system. Early March, there was a new filing with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) that lays out more details about the proposed 100-acre project, including size, possible cost, and the main technology supplier.

    Some of the information that can glean from the publicly available NCUC documents, filed under "SP-1642/Sub 0" are as follows:-

    Size and scope: 
    No of installations: 14 PV installations, though the final number is yet to be determined.
    PV modules:  E20 435-watt photovoltaic modules, rated at 20% efficiency
    Energy output: Planned  for 20MWl.

    Timeline: 
    Expected to start delivering power to the grid as early as October 2012,
    Whole installation to go online by December 31.

    What's not said:
    The documents don't directly get into costs either for Apple or Duke, except to say that there will be no discernable impact on Duke Energy's expansion plans or costs. For Apple, all it reveals is that the project will be self-financed from both current assets and ongoing operations, and represents "less than a quarter of a percent of positive cash/securities balance." However, in Apple's latest public filing as of Sept. 2011 (also listed in the NCUC docs) that cash/securities number is listed as $97 billion, so 0.0025 percent out of that is roughly $242 million - source: RenewableEnergyWorld.com


    TheGreenMechanics says: I believe it's their noble intention

    Both Samsung and Apple have so far shown interest and investment (read commitments) in ensuring sustainable working environment, and products.  

    On whether they are looking more at taking care of their bottom line, is remained to be seen but indications are that both electronics giants are also caring for a safer and sustainable environmental care.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Statistics of the day

    1 percent (1%) - is the statistic of the day.

    Let me explain in mathematical term. Royal Malaysia Police has the following assets:

    Number of sworn members: 102, 037
    Number of Police Stations: 1,000

    1% represent: (1/100) * 102,037 = 1,020 policemen


    On average, for each of the 1000 police stations in Malaysia, there are at least 1 (one) policeman reported to have taken a bribe.

    Do you have a police station in your area/district? It would be interesting to interpret the figures and relate them to your place and situation.



    -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

    Only one per cent of cops on take - IGP

    KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 (Bernama report) — Only one per cent of about 100,000 policemen are reported to have taken a bribe, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said today.

    He warned that the number, however, could spread like cancer if the situation is left unchecked.

    Ismail was quoted by Bernama as saying, “It is always regrettable to hear someone say many policemen are corrupt. This is not good.”

    He also told the national news agency that he is working on inculcating a zero corruption culture in the police force and urged the public to report corrupt personnel. The performance of the Police Disciplinary Department, which was established to address police misconduct has been satisfactory, he added.

    Candid Wednesday

    The common domestic fowl yang sedap dibuat sup.

    The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a domesticated fowl, one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird - wikipedia.

    _DSC6811 hen600
    Gallus domesticus on Wednesday

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Sabah rubber smallholders shortchanged?

    The Sabah Rubber Smallholders Association (SRSA) says it is time the state government adopted an open market policy on raw rubber sales in the state.

    SRSA president Chua Men Nam, commenting on the plight of the rubber smallholders in Sabah, said dissatisfaction over “low” prices fixed by the Sabah Rubber Industries Board (SRIB) for the commodity is paving the way for a thriving black market.


    Rubber plantation. Image source.


    He said the low prices as well as an export tax had forced some rubber smallholders to smuggle out their raw rubber through the backdoor for a better profit.

    Chua said SRIB should be able to assess the worth of the smuggled raw rubber based on its available data on the total annual rubber production for the state, against the 10% duty collected by the state government. To stop this activity, SRSA suggested that the state government abolish the 10% export duty for raw rubber from Sabah and allow rubber smallholders to sell the raw rubber to factories in the peninsula directly.

    “Many rubber smallholders considered the current charges as exploitative which does not benefit the state rubber industry at all,” he said.

    “We have our own cooperative. We can always organise ourselves to sell the raw rubber to the peninsula directly. In the end, we just want to ensure the smallholders are getting a fair and better price,” he added.

    SRSA is already discussing a possible joint venture with the private sector to set up its own processing factory to purchase raw rubber from rubber smallholders, if the state government adopts an open market policy. Chua said that by adopting an open market policy, it would encourage the private sector to set up rubber processing factories in the state and help create a competitive market for the state rubber industry.


    Processing fee

    Under the present set-up, rubber prices determined by SRIB is much lower than that offered by factories in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.

    SRIB has said the high processing fee imposed on the state rubber smallholders is due to logistics, high electricity charges and high freight charges as a result of the cabotage policy. However, Chua scoffed at the claims and questioned how Sarawak could afford to give a better price to the rubber planters there, despite the fact that they, too, are having the same problems as Sabah.

    “The difference in rubber price between Sarawak and Sabah is RM1.50 to RM2 per kg. Even a difference of 10 sen makes a huge difference, especially if based on our annual production of about 70,000 to 80,000 tons.
    “If it is calculated on RM1.50 per kg, our (rubber smallholders) losses is about RM1 million. Hence, many rubber smallholders prefer to sell their raw rubber to Sarawak,” he said.

    In Peninsular Malaysia, most of the rubber-processing factories are owned by the private sector and they imposed a processing fee of between 70 sen and 90 sen per kg on rubber smallholders.

    “SRIB charges as much as RM1.60 per kg despite being a government agency that is supposed to be service-orientated. We demand the SRIB to explain on how it determines the rubber price in Sabah,” Chua said. 

    He also reminded SRIB general manager Harris Matthew that in 2003, it used to deduct 70.2 sen only from rubber dealers who collected the raw rubber material from the rubber smallholders and sold it to SRIB. This allowed the rubber dealers to make at least RM1 per kg or RM1,000 per ton.


    Financial constraints

    Chua also said many rubber smallholders in the state are puzzled that SRIB claims that it is not only not making a profit but also facing financial constraints, despite having imposed such a high processing fee on them all this while.

    He recalled that last year the state government had to inject RM60 million into SRIB, so that it could continue to purchase rubber from the rubber smallholders. At one stage, SRIB even owed the rubber smallholders up to three months, he added.

    “We urge the state government to open the rubber market and break the monopoly by SRIB,” he said. There is only one private-owned rubber processing plant in operation in Sabah. Sited in Keningau, the factory which has operating for about five years is only processing “in-house” rubber to be sold to Kuala Lumpur.

    “Unfortunately, it is also following the price set by the SRIB,” Chua said.

    “We also want an open debate with SRIB on this issue; the sooner the better,” he added.


     TheGreenMechanics' comment:

    If what  the Sabah Rubber Smallholders Association (SRSA) claimed is true, then it is only fair that the Government do the right thing to benefit the people; the smallholders in particular. Paddy planters and fishermen get assistance from the Government. The smallholders deserve similar treatment.

    What do you think? Fair enough?

    Why fish bombers escape the law

    It is just sad, isn't it?

    People continues to flout the law at the expense of fellow humans and the environment, and walk away scot-free.

    Image: DE - Mar 23, 2011
    While killing of sharks isn't a crime as fish is one of the long list of consumables in our dietary,  it is disheartening to  learn that people kill them and throw their bodies back into the sea.

    Fish bombing is a crime in Malaysia and some of the key legislation outlawing fish bombing are the Explosives Act 1957, Fisheries Act 1985, and Sabah Parks Enactment, 1984.

    But fish bombers tend to escape the law, every time.


    How so?

    Captain Maritime Amir Azwa Mohd Alias, the Operation Director of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) thinks that legal loopholes made it hard for enforcers to charge fishermen using explosive device in court (Daily Express, March 12, 2012).

    Despite MMEA's officers' certainty that they were real culprits, they (the culprits) would be able to walk free due to insufficient evidence presented in court. They would bomb and let someone else pick up the catch, and the guys who collect the dead fish would claim their innocence and say they were only picking the catch and knew nothing of any explosives.


    Review Maritime Law to give it more bite

    Since MMEA's inception in Feb 16, 2007, it has now expanded nation-wide and currently, MMEA Sabah has about 709 officers and members Statewide with 209 of them placed in Kota Kinabalu with much of their assets coming from Royal Malaysian Navy, Marine Police, Customs and Fisheries Department.

    With that number of officers in Kota Kinabalu alone, I think the agency is well equipped in terms of manpower. With 209 personnel they can have at least 10 enforcement teams working round the clock, not necessarily on the look for fish bombers only.  Talk about rescue, enforcement of maritime laws to nab smugglers, illegal immigrants and other offenses.

    From 2007 to January this year, MMEA has caught a total 962 maritime offenders and conducted a total 11,187 checks on boats and vessels statewide. The followings are statistics given by MMEA on its hauls since inception:

    Data source: DE - Mar 12, 2012

    Exactly, what sort of revision to the maritime law is needed then? One example is by giving the law more power in enforcing the banning of fish caught using fish-bombs. Procedure could be streamlined and made easy to implement. Provide modern, powerful tools to easily detect such catch. Provide trainings for the relevant personnel - technical and motivation wise.


    Other measures and activities

    1. Holding regional symposium on Anti Fish Bombing, such as one held recently in Kota Kinabalu and attended by many stake holders.
    2. Share experience gained from other countries and adapt it to the local scene, when feasible.
    3. Involve the local communities. The more the communities are being involved, the more cooperative they will be to the government initiative.
    4. Conduct campaigns to create awareness, and do this on a regular basis; not seasonal.
    5. Perhaps, it is a good idea to recruit officers from the problematic waters. Note: A study will still need to be done though.

    What can you and me do?


    Simply put, don't eat fish caught using fish-bomb. Similar to fish preserved with formaldehyde, there are tell tales of fish caught with bomb. Ask around. People close to the fishing industry knows more than you think.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    SESB Shocked by Tresspassing

    Well, don't be! With appropriate tools, anyone can trespass any of the the restricted sub-stations.

    I have conducted a number of investigations (not SESB properties) on stolen cables, station transformers, HT switchgear and their fittings and the people who stole these equipment are clearly those with some sort technical knowledge of electricity. They have special tools, or what we call dedicated tools for working with live apparatus.

    It's about time SESB make full use of the internet, webcams and wireless communication to put 'eyes' on all the sub-stations. Perhaps they can start with the critical loads/clients and slowly cover the rest of them.


    One of SESB's facilities near KKIP



    As reported by Daily Express yesterday:

    Kota Kinabalu: SESB was once again shocked by a trespassing incident at the electricity substation by some individuals who then stole electrical equipment in the substation at 1:57 pm on Monday.

    Following this incident, power to Wisma Merdeka and Wisma Perkasa was immediately cut off for several hours until SESB employees managed to find the cause and replace the lost electrical installations, it said in a statement Saturday.

    It findings at the scene also found a number of important installations for the supply of electricity to both buildings had been lost and SESB estimated losses of about RM10,000 due to the greedy and inconsiderate actions.

    Electricity supply in the area was resumed fully at 5.30 pm on the same day. SESB once again sought cooperation from the public to immediately report to the SESB on-line number 088-282455, if they notice individuals who look suspicious and do not look like SESB employees working in the electrical substation/SESB premises.

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Hawaii Clean Energy

    Hawaii is one of the world's premier travel destinations. However, if visitors look beyond the views of Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, palm trees and the blue Pacific, they'll see a renewable energy transformation under way that could be a model for others around the world, RenewableEnergyWorld.com reported last week.

    Kahuku wind farm. Image by- npr.org


    90% of Hawaii's energy for transportation and electricity comes from fossil fuel, making it the highest in the US. This cannot go on forever with the depleting oil reserve and the ever increasing cost of obtaining such energy source.

    Caring for nature and concern for emission of carbon, Hawaii took several measures in adopting green energy source such as using biofuels to generate power, encouraging the use of electric vehicles, drilling for more geothermal energy, and integrating more solar and wind power. Latest in its list of initiatives is the testing of the smart-grid by Hawaiian Electric Company, HECO together with its subsidiaries.

    In 2010, the Solar Electric Power Association ranked HECO third in the United States for growth in solar power. According to RenewableEnergyWorld, Hawaii has more solar watts per customer than all but a few U.S. states.

    Wind farms provide power on our three largest islands and additional projects are in the pipeline.According to Clean Technica, Hawaii is currently developing its 69MW Kawailoa wind power project, dubbed the largest in the tourist island on Oahu’s North Shore. The wind power installations consists of 30 nos of 2.3MW Siemens wind turbines, enough to power approximately 14,500 homes on Oahu Island. This makes about 5% of the island’s total power demand.

    Another renewable energy source - geothermal energy - provides about 17% of the electricity on Hawaii island. Collaboration between authority and the local communities, and renewable energy developers also helps in shaping the future of the island's geothermal development.


    Go green

    Common sense tells us that if clean energy technology can be made to work on the small independent grids in Hawaii, it can work anywhere. Solutions developed and tested in Hawaii is said to feature the most advanced technology. It will be constructed in ways that are environmentally friendly.

    Hawaii encourages the use of Electric Vehicle developing 'discounted overnight charging rates', and the government is working with electric vehicle manufacturers and service equipment suppliers to ease broader adoption of such vehicles there.

    Let's hope that Malaysia could make similar effort to encourage the use of more electric vehicles, such as lowering the cost or owning the New Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight.

    Sunday, March 11, 2012

    Killing of Sharks at Mabul Island

    These are pictures shared by Semporna Shark Sanctuary a non-governmental organisation (NGO), on the rampant killing of sharks in Mabul island near Semporna (in the island of Borneo), for their fins. Shark fins are quite popular in the local restaurant menu and it also made its way into upscale eating destinations not too long ago.

    According to the NGO ,the sharks are finned and their bodies are then thrown back into water and it happened right in front of Mabul resort.







    Click the link given above to learn more about this and give your support. There is an online petition to this cause in their web site.


    About Semporna Shark Sanctuary


    The mission of the Semporna Shark Sanctuary is to protect one of the most diverse marine eco systems on the planet and protect the over exploitation of sharks, mantas, eagle rays, devil rays, marlin, sail fish and sea turtles. In doing this its objective is not only to protect and preserve these animals and the diversity of the coral reef systems in Semporna, but in doing so, protect and compensate fishing communities, secure the jobs that are currently held by many Sabahans in eco tourism which would be lost with the decline of these species and create many more in the maintenance, up keep and protection of South East Asias first Shark Sanctuary. - excerpt from the NGO's website.

    Saturday, March 10, 2012

    The All New iPad (iPad3)

    Excited about it yet?

    The all new iPad from Apple was officially announced on 7th March 2012 and will be available to the US consumers beginning 16th March 2012. As always, they did not continue with the numbering sequence, instead they called it just iPad and for now, we'll call it the New iPad.



    Image: store-apple.com


    WHAT'S NEW

    Resolutionary Retina Display

    The typing error is intentional; it was meant for a revolutionary-high-resolution display. The new iPad is packed with stunning Retina display and probably making it the most pixel-packed tablet on the market. The screen size is similar to the iPad2 but packed with 3.1 million pixels in a 2048 x 1536 arrangement; claimed to have great improvement in color saturation.


    5MP iSight Camera

    Although only 5 mega pixel, the iSight camera is similar to the one fitted inside the iPhone 4S, with backside illumination sensor. If it is as good as the one in the 4S, then I will be the first to agree that the images captured are quite decent. I own a couple of compact cameras, a D90 and a D700 DSLR. The iPad lens assembly has five elements in it to capture the best possible image, and it is claimed to be capable of capturing 1080p HD video.


    Super fast 4G connectivity

    The new iPad boasts 21 mega bits per second (Mbps) HSPA+, with LTE radio capable of 73Mbps downlink on both AT&T and Verizon in the US, the home of Apple. In Malaysia though, we are just at the early stage of adopting 4G LTE technology. Case in point is Klang valley, although certain telcos claim to have 4G services in other cities. 4G connectivity is said to be up to 10 times the speed of 3G. It seems like this new gadget is way ahead of our telecommunication infrastructures.


    And that's it! Nothing to shout about, really.

    With technological advancement in the manufacturing of telecommunication and IT gadgets, newer product sporting a relatively similar feature or even a slight upgrade like the new iPad should be priced lower instead of going up. Or, at the very least maintained. Check the price movements in the following matrix:




    iPad2 (US$) New iPad (US$)
    WiFi 16GB     399.00     499.00
    32GB     499.00     599.00
    64GB     599.00     699.00
    WiFi +3G 16GB     529.00     629.00
    32GB     629.00     729.00
    64GB     729.00     829.00

    If you are a consumer like me, you will agree that the increase of US$100 (approx. RM300) for a slight tweak is not justified.


    Comparing iPad2, New iPad, Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Galaxy Tab 8.9

    So that we have some idea of what sort of progression the new iPad went through, I have compiled in the following Table my findings from the internet, mostly from Apple website. Just for comparison, the new super AMOLED Galaxy Tab 7.7 is pitted side by side, specification-wise, with the new iPad. See which one is worth the money and of course most importantly, better suited to you.



    Note: The new iPad uses dual-core A5X processor, with quad-core graphics.


    When our regular phone outlet receives their shipment next week, we'll be checking the Tab7.7 out to fiddle with features. Some say, you have to see it to appreciate the super AMOLED display.