From Work

Courage: How much is your PhD worth?

I first met Amir (not his real name) in my office about six years ago when he told me that he wanted to do his PhD under my supervision. While I do not remember much what we discussed, I do remember being a little annoyed by his presence. Overdressed and smelling of strong cologne, Amir looked…

A tale of a Malaysian lecturer teaching in a Kazakhstan university

Recently I was working in S. Seifullin Kazakh Agro Technical University (KATU) in Astana, Kazakhstan from Oct 14-31, 2012. I was invited to give a two-week lecture on “Soil Conservation” to KATU’s undergraduates and postgraduate students. This was a unique invitation too valuable of an experience to pass up. Rarely are foreign guest lecturers invited…

“Agriculture and Man” (PRT2008: Pertanian dan Manusia): A course few want to learn it and to teach it

The course “Agriculture and Man” or “Pertanian dan Manusia” (course code PRT 2008) is perhaps one of the most maligned courses among UPM undergraduates. This course is compulsory for all undergraduates regardless of their degrees. So you have students from motley disciplines: music, social studies, engineering, medicine, and language studies gritting their teeth as they…

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…

Malaysia’s reading habit

Update (30 Oct. 2013). Added two photos, updated some information, and slightly reformatted the article. It is well known, even among Malaysians, that Malaysians hardly ever read. So, imagine my surprise when the Information, Communication and Culture Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Rais Yatim, recently said that “Reading has become an enveloping habit for Malaysians…

Over-parenting: Parents who won’t let go

In my ten years teaching at UPM, I have met several students (some of them First Class Honors) who have shared with me about their problem with their parents, or more specifically, their problem of parents who won’t let go. Although these students are in their mid-twenties, their parents still see them as small boys…

No more hullabaloo over English?

“Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) contribution to the national education system proves that Bahasa Malaysia can be used in higher education,” so says Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is both the Deputy Prime Minister and the Education Minister of Malaysia. “Much work [such as academic papers, books, and doctoral theses] have been produced in the Malay…

The ubiquity of bottled water

My university has joined in the bottled water craze. I have just seen UPM’s bottled water about two weeks ago. Though the water is purified tap water and not groundwater or springwater, we, the lecturers, were unashamedly gulping it down once they started to distribute the bottles. Faster than you can say “Universiti Putra Malaysia”, some…

The audacity to learn English

Ever since the Malaysian government decided to revert to using Bahasa Malaysia as the language of instruction at schools, there have been screams of protests in the form of letters and articles in newspapers. Yes, we all know the importance of English. Yes, it is the lingua franca in international politics, business, and education. Yes,…

Learning Management System (LMS)

Last week, I was “forced” by a certain person to participate in the Putra LMS workshop. I say “forced” because I was actually planning not to attend the workshop, even though attendance was supposed to be compulsory. Putra LMS stands for my university’s Learning Management System. Essentially, Putra LMS is a system where lecturers can…

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