Next…

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Another pond in the making. Effort for a more meaningful project is surely worth the time. A beautiful pond alone is not enough. It has to be productive and functional as well. As much of the ecology of home ponds, lakes and its surrounding have provide much leisure but how much have we learned to benefit without its destruction.
This year, onward and forward to Burma, the next place to acclimatise and fit into her culture. “min ga la ba”

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR 2015.

CNY 2015

This year is going to be a real busy year with much work going on at sites, travels, paintings and an own family-retreat development.

Will be travelling far and wide in India next month and heading for Bali and Bangkok as well.

When time comes to take a break, well take a break. For the time being, lets move ahead.

Lest Not forget. The Rubber Tapper

Letchumy, the Rubber Tapper

This painting of size 48″ x 32″ took the most time to paint due to its tiny details.  Only those who knows about tapping rubber or a once a rubber tapper himself will know the intended mistake in this painting. Mural paint (acyrlic on plywood).

The Bio-filtered Pond at Mahabalipuram, India

ITC2c       Still under monitoring. A large pond with the BFS bio-filtration system

ITC1cThe pond is designed for a low maintenance and chemical free water management.

The First Giant Victoria Lily in Malaysia ?

With Dr Slearmlarp Wasuwat, Thailand

With Dr Slearmlarp Wasuwat, Thailand

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In the late 1960s I saw the picture of Victoria lily in the Reader’s Digest for the first time. Later, the giant water lily was beautifully featured in David Attenborough’s The Living Planet in 1984.

I was introduced to Ajahn Dr Sleamlarp Wasuwat, the water lilies expert of Thailand back in 1998. He collects, studies and cross-breeds many varieties of beautiful water lilies as part of his collections. One of his favourite in his aquatic nursery is the giant Victoria amazonica. Dr Wasuwat wrote many books on the water lilies and also the planting and care of the Victoria lily. During that period, Victoria lily was not common in the Thai market and due to its large leaves of about 1 m in diameter when it is fully grown, therefore, there were not many collectors with such generosity of garden space..

When I was managing the aquatic nursery the for the Institute of Bioscience in UPM, I decided to introduce the Victoria lily into the research facilities. There was no such known Victoria lily during that time in Malaysia as I know then and I was fortunate enough to get an import certificate from the Department of Agriculture. The phyto-certificate/permit only allows one Victoria plant.

As I later learned that Victoria lily is a very difficult plant to survive upon uprooting them from the pond bed, therefore I decided to bring in three instead of one young plants for a better chance of survival rate. Each young plant would cost me about RM 600 each. Upon arrival in KL, I managed to bring all the 3 young Victoria plants back after much explanation to the agriculture officer.

After about 6-7 months in the pond, the giant leaves of Victoria lilies almost fully cover the whole pond of 500 sq.m. in area. I studied the flowers when they bloomed at night and later collected hundred of seeds that remain dormant for a long period of time.

Then one day, I received a call from the head of the Agriculture Department yelling and screaming over the phone that I have no regards to the phyto-certificate that only allowed one plant to be imported but I brought in three instead. His fear from his screaming voice was that, to his knowledge, that Victoria lily is an invasive water plants that can be spread like like ‘lalang’ (Imperata cyclindrica) or the Egyption cyperus or water hyacinth in water. For such to happen, as according to him, this Victoria lily invasion could wiped out paddy fields and destroyed the aquatic ecosystem in Malaysia. Then, I was instructed to ‘remove’ the Victoria lilies from the research facilities. I took a few young plants and planted in my own secret garden. The research facilities technician sprayed weedicides in the pond and therefore killed all the Victoria lilies just about the right time I decided to quit my post at the Institute of Bioscience.

In December 2013, I decided to make a short visit to the Penang Botanical Garden just to see the Victoria lily. I was told that the authority spent more than a million Ringgit for the Victoria lilies to be planted there. If the Head of the Agriculture Department was right then, today Penang island will be flooded with Victoria lilies right from the ponds, to paddy fields and all the drainage system but good Lord, he was wrong and therefore, the pathetic looking Victoria lilies planted in the Penang Botanical Garden look neither dead nor alive.

I’d learned a lesson though, never work with fools. “Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.”   ― Henry D Thoreau

The Victoria lily in Penang Botanical Garden. Well, judge yourself for the million RM spent ?

The Victoria lily in Penang Botanical Garden. Well, judge yourself for the million RM spent ?

Penang Botanical Garden. Some bad signs for the non-victory Victoria lily

Penang Botanical Garden. Some bad signs for the non-victory Victoria lily

Why Lampam Jawa ?

Fawzi releasing lampam jawa frys into a stream

Fawzi releasing lampam jawa frys into the stream

ตะเพียนขาว    Capture lj

Lampam Jawa, Pla Thapian in Thai, ikan tawes in Indonesian or technically once labelled as, Barbus gonionotus back in 1849, then  Puntius javanicus, Puntius gonionotus and recently Barbodes gonionotus in 1996, then Barbonymus gonionotus in 1999. Their common  names are like java barb or silver barb. In Malaysia, it is simply Lampam Jawa.

Is lampam jawa originally from Java, Indonesia ? There were reports that this fish was introduced to Sg. Perak and also in Trengganu, but anyway it is this lampam jawa that we ought to know better wherever it came from.

Back in 1989, my partner, the late Ahmad Fawzi and I were given the opportunity to run a 10-acre fish farm mainly to produce lampam jawa frys (young fish). We were given a contract to pay the rent of the farm in kind with the obligation to release 1 million frys back into natural rivers each year.

Fawzi was a keen enthusiast in freshwater aquaculture. He worked and spent much of his time in this subject honestly but unfortunately the world of businesses and the ethic of any humankind is crooked to the core. He once turned down the Colombo scholarship for further studies to pursue his love for fish farming. Over the years, fish farming in his time with me and later, without me was difficult and made worse by unscrupulous bodies and individuals who usually took advantage on his honesty. Sadly and with much regret in me, Ahmad Fawzi passed away on Dec 14th, 2013, before we can share and see the light that can bring us joy in fish farming.

With the help of a local worker, we learned and spawned the lampam jawa and produced millions of frys each year. It was a great experience and so much fun doing this without any application of artificial hormones meant for spawning inducement. It was all natural birth and for such experiences, one will never forget.

The lampam jawa flesh has fine cartilaginous bones and has to be careful when you eat this fish. Eating lampam jawa fresh from our pond is unforgettable and till today I still have in mind for lampam jawa on my dinner plate. Most freshwater fishes are quite similar in taste but from business point of view, freshwater fishes were made popular from exaggerated tales to boost its market sales. Especially the Chinese in Malaysia who are easily carried away with the mighty ‘kat-lo’ (kelah) and stupidly paid up to thousands of Ringgit for as long as it is red. These kind of businessmen are also good in naming the fish that makes it sound ‘marketable’.

Fish farming and any other businesses can surely fare well with honesty but unfortunately, unscrupulous and greedy businessmen, especially government officials and a hosts of others, polluted the industries and destroyed all those who have honest hearts for fish farming into a hell of failures. For that, we have to consume ‘adulterated’ preserved imported fishes from the sea, highly chemicalized endorsed Tilapia, giant tasteless Gariepinus catfish from Africa and almost once our rivers lost to ‘pacu’, the piranha-like fish and now the Arapaimas. Our local fishes that once identifiable with the local Malaysian culture like puyu, sepat, kalui, keli and even temakang are like all gone and their names sound very much like aliens to our urban younger generations.

Today, we can hardly see lampam jawa in urban markets though the world’s production has been steadily increased to about 100,000 tonnes a year since 2010. This is a small quantity if compared to seawater shrimps production.

In garden or domestic aquaculture that I am promoting, I welcome back lampam jawa as one of those fishes that we should care to grow  healthily in our own garden pond to provide high quality healthy protein in our diets, and please leave the Japanese Kois to the Japanese.

2014. Another Year, Another Story.

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A private residence landscape project in Bali for a client from Istanbul. 2005

 

By the end on 2013, it marked my 30th year in water management business.  Time flies. The first 10 year was all about aquaculture, working in freshwater prawn farms. The next 20 years were all about designing and consulting. So, what’s next ? 

Change is possible for the better. I have changed dramatically myself walking around with 7 kilo less in body weight, no more sound system as a permanent deaf. A kind of changes that nobody is interested. How about my career, what is the plan for 2014 ?

Well, everyone is quite sceptical about the economy and business market. Many are pulling back and lying low as daily and business expenses are going up and also heating up. There are still many enjoying a good business returns. For me, at this period of time, I not really into the negative or even the positive impact of the business. I am here for the years to come to enjoy both.

From the dark side, we have a leader and the government that are putting a lot hikes to our daily expenses. Prices of goods and taxes have gone up since the last election and businesses are going down. All of us are affected in one way or another, but my business plan is not here in KL for the coming years and therefore, such hikes in expenses have to be a pass without burning away much of my skin. Signs of rough times are here and everywhere. Some expensive Chinese restaurants are closing and more cheaper Mamak (Indian Muslims) restaurants are opening. Mamak restaurants are packed with customers from different ethnic groups and stay united while having their teh-tarik. They can curse each other after that along with their political beliefs.

On the brighter side, the year 2014 is the year that I have decided to slow down. Taking time to ponder back the past, living with the presence and prepare for the future. The past has been good, though it came along with some fire, pain, gain and bruises. It built my career, my reputation with some wealth along with cancer and loss of hearing. I think this sounds pretty normal if you are one like me who went on to take a challenge in life all on your own. Let this be the past.

Today, living in the present is like a day to remind me some part of life that once I was there before. Good and bad news are all over as I have heard before but I am not buying anything those that do not suit my presence that allow me to prepare for the future.  

Yes, there is future and it is coming. So, what is my plan for the coming years ?

First, I need to be present in the hot spot of protest and election heat in Bangkok. Get a feel of the heat and open my eyes to see as where to invest in Thailand with a population of 60 million people. A good place to work in the land of smiles and hatred. There is where I should begin but don’t stop as there is so much coming from the future.  Of course, how can I forget the wonder and exotic Bali where I spent half my career life there. Last week I received an sms from Bali and it goes like this, “..yang penting masih pintar dan cerdas, jangan takut masih ada Pak Made.” Well, it sounded like war-cries and all ready and prepared for the future to arrive and take on more challenges to come. Hello Bali, I am coming.

Kuala Lumpur, which means the river mouth of mud, ooze, mire, slush, slosh, slime, sludge and racists. Time to think  as what had happened in the past today in the present for the future to come. You don’t want to be buried in the river mouth of mud, ooze, mire, slush, slosh, slime, sludge and racists in the coming future. Welcome 2014.

 

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