From Rants and raves

The involvement of the Chinese in Malaysia’s agriculture sector

The book “Land to Till: The Chinese in the Agricultural Economy of Malaysia” by Tan Pek Leng is a welcome find in the local bookstores. This book is a welcome addition because it tells about the role the Chinese have played, past and present, in the Malaysia’s agriculture sector. Although this book contains some valuable…

Malaysia’s education system: Waiting for Superman

“One of the saddest days of my life was when my mother told me Superman did not exist.” She said, “Superman is not real.” I was, like, “He’s not? What do you mean he’s not?” “No, he’s not real.” And she thought I was crying because it’s like Santa Claus is not real. And I…

Decline or rise in English proficiency in Malaysia?

Update (Dec 8, 2011): A modified form of this blog entry was published today in the New Straits Times newspaper. Few people would argue against the importance of English language today. It is the lingua franca in cyberspace and in international science, politics, business, and entertainment. A study in 2011 by English First (EF) showed…

Does the internet promote greater democracy and freedom? Take heed, Bersih, Pakatan Rakyat, and your supporters

Is it true that the internet offers freedom of information, empowers people, and promotes greater democracy? Browse to any Malaysian anti-government websites, and there are bound to have postings about how some people have stopped depending on traditional newspapers and TV for their news and information. People have lost their confidence on these mass media…

Bersih 2.0: So, where were you on July 9, 2011?

Where were you on July 9, 2011 when Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, was in locked down due to Bersih 2.0 street demonstrations? Were you at the streets, along with the 5,000, 10,000 or 50,000 people (figures differ according to whom you ask)? Or did you try to go, only to be turned back by…

Should we give an iPad to our children?

Update: A modified form of this blog entry was published today in New Straits Times newspaper (2 Jun 2011) Last Saturday was Parents-Teachers Day at my son’s pre-school. While my wife and I were waiting for our turn to see my son’s teacher, I noticed some parents giving their children iPad. One four-year-old child was…

Food economics: How and why food prices rise and fall

Patrick Westhoff’s book “The Economics of Food: How Feeding and Fueling the Planet Affects Food Prices” is a fascinating read because it is targeted to non-specialists who desire to understand the recent trend of high food prices in the world. Westhoff uses the food crisis in 2008 as a focal point to explain what factors…

What Utusan newspaper doesn’t want you to know: Aquaculture at Pulau Ketam

The Malay-language local newspaper, Utusan, recently published two of my articles on agriculture. Utusan published my articles in the Agrobiz section on Sept. 20, 2010. One article was about urban agriculture, and the second was about aquaculture in Pulau Ketam. The second article was written by three of my students who took PRT 2008 course (Agriculture and…

Sesame Street Live in Malaysia: Unfortunately unnoticed

Sesame Street recently came to Malaysia for a three-day live performance (3-5 Sept. 2010) at Stadium Putra, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur. My family and I went for the Saturday night show (4 Sept, 8:30 pm), and I was surprised by the rather tepid turnout. The stadium was only about one-quarter filled, with the biggest crowd,…

Why only one child? RM1.1 million to raise a child in Malaysia

Updated (Aug 18, 2013): This article was used as a source of reference by New Sunday Times for their cover story, “Too expensive to have children”, pg. 12-13. I was also interviewed by the NST journalist, Tan Choe Choe. Updated (May 7, 2011): Local radio station, BFM 89.9, carried a podcast story about this blog…

Rice edition of Asian Geographic

The latest issue of Asian Geographic (Issue 5, no. 74,  2010) caught my eye recently. This issue was dedicated solely on rice, and one of the main feature articles was on the work by IRRI (International Rice Research Institute), located Los Banos, Philippines. IRRI is of course very well known among agriculturists as one of the…

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