“The ozone is thinning and we still keep burning” – “Hijau” by Zainal Abidin (1990)

As Singapore’s PSI exceed 150 tonight, eyes are tearing from irritation, but they should be shed for forests long gone, and repeatedly burnt in neighbouring Indonesia.

Mongabay.com reports that green groups have targeted Asia Pulp and Paper for its role in the destruction of forests and peatlands in Bukit Tigapuluh in Central Sumatra.

“APP’s activities threaten an important population of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans as well as other at-risk species, including Sumatran tigers. APP plans to clear up to 200,000 hectares of Bukit Tigapuluh.”

See Mongabay.com

South East Asia active fire areas in Google Earth (last 48 hrs) 20130617 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Active fire areas in South East Asia via Google Earth, 20130615-20130617 via @acroamatic

I was touched by a song I heard today. ICC Brunei Coordinator Alan Tan of Beach Bunch highlighted Malaysian singer Zainal Abidin’s song “Hijau” to me today (thanks bro’).

Zainal composed and sang the song way back in 1991, when he already asked “My fading world, Who sees you? By the time we realise, it might be too late.”

Zainal’s song is beautiful and should be heard by everyone.

Note that Abidin’s chorus is sung in his Kelantanese dialect! He’s a special guy.

Thanks to “The Imperfect Mom” for her lyrics and translation.

Hijau (Green) by Zainal Abidin (1990)

Bumi yang tiada rimba (A world without forests)
Seumpama hamba (is like a slave)
Dia dicemar manusia (she is polluted by humans)
Yang jahil ketawa (who only laugh ignorantly)

Bumi yang tiada udara (A world without air)
Bagai tiada nyawa (is a world without life)
Pasti hilang suatu hari (it will one day disappear)
Tanpa disedari (without realisation)

Bumi tanpa lautan (A world without the oceans)
Akan kehausan (will thirst)
Pasti lambat laun hilang (it will eventually vanish)
Duniaku yang malang (my unfortunate world)

Dewasa ini kita saling merayakan (In recent days we are always celebrating)
Kejayaan yang akhirnya membinasakan (Successes that in the end will destroy us)
Apalah gunanya kematangan fikiran (What is the use of maturity of thinking)
Bila di jiwa kita masih lagi muda (when our souls remain infantile)
Dan mentah (and raw)
Ku lihat hijau (I see green)

Bumiku yang kian pudar (My fading world)
Siapa yang melihat (Who sees you?)
Di kala kita tersedar (By the time we realise)
Mungkinkah terlewat (it might be too late)

Korupsi,opresi,obsesi diri (Corruption, oppression, self obsession)
Polusi,depressi,di bumi,kini (Pollution, depression on earth, now)

Oh …anok-anok (Oh, children)
tokleh meghaso mandi laok (will not feel how it is to swim in the sea)
Besaing,maing ghama-ghama (and play in it together)
Ale lo ni tuo umurnyo bejuto (this earth is millions of years old)
Kito usoho (we work)
Jauhke dari malapetako (to stave away disaster)
Ozon lo ni koho nipih nak nak aghi (the ozone is thinning and we still)
Keno make asak (keep burning)
Hok biso wei,pasa maknusio (poisoned by humans)
Seghemo bendo-bendo di dunio (all the things in this world)
Tokleh tehe (will not last)
Sapa bilo-bilo (forever)

Head down for lunch, fun, games and a bargain today at the Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2013

The fund raising carnival at the Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2013 is in full swing now with lots and lots of food, drinks, games and several flea market-type stalls with great bargains!

Our stall at the Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2013

This is the sixth year “Adrian Loo and friends” have set up a second hand sales stall to work tirelessly along side other volunteers, to sell items to raise funds for the Assisi Hospice.

A few of us were exhausted and wanted to rest this year, but Adrian found the strength when the hospice sounded the call. So our stall is alive today and making a contribution! Good job Adrian!

Adrian Loo @ Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2013
Adrian Loo already made a sucker buy today – we buy from our own stall at higher prices than the public so its good!

We aren’t professionals so our items are in pretty good condition and were sourced from friends who used the opportunity to de-clutter impulse buys. We have even acquired a reputation amongst some professional flea-market bargain hunters!

We aren’t always fussy about prices – I remember Ivan Chew selling a young couple an entire encyclopaedia set while they had thought they were bargaining for the price of one book. He said he realised their need was great. They were surprised and happy (I still remember the look of wonder), we were glad the books would be used and we added a little of the kitty in the process!

Airani usually initiates fire sales to start selling items for lower prices because we don’t have space to store the stuff for next year. Only at a fair like this will we have a large enough crowd to sell our goods.

Lim Chen Kee's sucker buy at the Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2013
Lim Chen Kee initiated into the sucker buy tradition this year!

Adrian says the loot collected for resale for Assisi Hospice was significant this year, because new people ransacked their houses to release decent items for sale today.

An important secret weapon acquired since 2011 is aunty-killer Kok Min Yee who ensures we raise decent prices for the good quality bags, clothes and shoes we always have to sell (2013 quote: “Bags are like kryptonite to women”). A fussy shopper himself, he isn’t going to part with good items for lame prices!

Kok Min Yee @ Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2013
Aunty Killer Kok Min set up shop early today – lots of good stuff to sell
and a great need to wrangle money for charity!

Ivan tucks in to lontong at the Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2013
Ivan Chew tucking in to some lontong this morning

It isn’t all sales, we wander off every now and then to spend out fun fair tickets at various stall which sell some wonderful food! So go down, have lunch, spend recklessly and help the Assisi Hospice keep running providing compassionate care to those in need,.

Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2013

The YEws @ Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2013
Friends meet friends! The Yews and organiser Karen Poon

I am away in South Korea this year for a marine debris workshop, so am glad kakis are going down to help out at the stall or just to makan and be part of the wonderful atmosphere of caring people having fun together.

Map - Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2013

All the best to friends managing the stall and and providing support this year – Adrian Loo, Ivan Chew, Kenneth Pinto, Kevin Lim, Kok Oi Yee, Lim Cheng Puay, Lim Chen Kee, Ng Kai Scene, Yew Chee Chien, Pauline Yew & family, Jennifer Kee, Amy Choong.

Thank to Adrian, Kenneth and Kevin for the photos I used in this post.

Postscript – Adrian makes a sale over LINE!

Line marketing at the Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2013!


Fri 28 Jun 2013: 1.30pm – 4.00pm: Public Seminar on Pangolin Conservation

RSVP to Yap Xinli by 21 June 2013 (Fri) at xinli.yap@wrs.com.sg

Public Seminar on Pangolin Conservation

Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF) cordially invites you to a public seminar on the conservation of pangolins. Look forward to specialists from this field addressing topics on the illegal pangolin trade and conservation efforts to save the pangolin.

Friday 28 June 2013: 1.30pm – 4.00pm
Registration starts at 1.00pm
At the Forest Lodge, Singapore Zoo

Topics and speakers:

  1. “Trade in wildlife for meat and medicines pushing Southeast Asian species towards extinction,” by Chris R. Shepherd, Deputy Regional Director, TRAFFIC
  2. “The IUCN SSC and new technology for addressing illegal wildlife trade,” by Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programmes Director, Zoological Society of London
  3. “The pangolin trade in Asia,” by Dan Challender, PhD student at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, UK
  4. “Pangolins of Singapore: In situ and ex situ conservation efforts,” by Razak Jaffar, Assistant Curator of Night Safari

Admission is Free!
Light refreshments will be provided.
Limited spaces only so please RSVP to Yap Xinli by Friday, 21st June 2013 at xinli.yap@wrs.com.sg.

Sat 15 Jun 2013: 3.00pm, talk at Select Books on “Pulau Ubin: The Last Kampung” – A photoessay by Nurfasihah and Nur Shafiqah

Email from: Select Books Events

Select Books is pleased to invite you to a talk by two student photographers, Nurfasihah Binti Abdullah and Nur Shafiqah Binte Md Abu Bakar, on their photography project and exhibition at Select Books, titled:

Pulau Ubin: The Last Kampung – A photoessay by Nurfasihah and Nur Shafiqah.

The talk will be held at on Saturday, 15th June 2013: 3:00pm at Select Books, 51, Armenian Street, Singapore 179939 [Facebook event page].

Nurfasihah and Nur Shafiqah will share their reflections about why an island like Pulau Ubin is a treasure for our national and natural heritage, and why the unique way of life on the island needs to be preserved despite rapid modernization.

Nurfasihah Binti Abdullah, 17, is an Arts student at St. Joseph’s Convent. She has practiced photography since 2008. She quotes Soren Kierkegaard, a philosopher from Denmark, who said, "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forewards" and adds, “To me, keeping the wild and nature alive, we have to understand how Pulau Ubin lived through the years. And as the photographer, I shouldn’t be indifferent to things that may be extinct.”

Nur Shafiqah Binte Md Abu Bakar, 17, is a Malay Language Major at St. Joseph’s Convent. Her interests include photography, arts and languages. She finds education and family as the most important things in her life. Shafiqah has practiced photography since 2009 and continues to enjoy it. “It helps me to relax and I learn a lot from my surroundings when I’m engaged through photography.”

This debut exhibition by the two young photographers also features selected pieces from guest photographers Dr Chua Ee Kiam and Marcus Ng, and is curated by Debby Ng. It will be held till 30 June 2013.

A cheaper, lighter book option for LSM1103 Biodiversity

The profits from making an International Edition of Solomon, Berg & Martin’s Biology (9/e) are kept lower than they are in the west. The book retails for about S$60 in Singapore, and this recommended text for LSM1103 Biodiversity has a potential market of 550 students from the Life Sciences 1st year cohort. Not all students will buy the book and some use their existing A level alternative of Campbell Biology (9/e).

With United States Supreme Court copyright decision Kirtsaeng vs Wiley 2012, however, these small Asian markets over Asia have become now a source of cheap books which will threaten the publisher’s larger US market. The 9th edition of Solomon et al. costs about S$150 there and imports from Asia will collapse the demand for US versions.

So to protect their US market, there is a feeling that publishers may stop publishing International Editions. And students will find only a very expensive US edition of Solomon in the co-op. Which they won’t buy.

In any case, I obviously won’t be recommending a $150 text.

A few weeks earlier, my new Botany and Microbiology colleagues in the module easily agreed that we all use the same text book for LSM1103 Biodiversity. So that finally reduced the recommended text from three to one.

Now we aren’t using the the entire book, just the section which deal with topics in biodiversity. So students don’t actually need 80% of the book they would purchase. Happily, publisher reps said they can easily arrange for a “custom print” of the relevant single section in the books. This would reduce the weight by about 80% and probably halve the cost.

Then I asked about e-versions of the book, and publishers all agreed to add a time-limited version for only marginal increase in cost.

So now, students will be happy with the cheaper, lighter texts with their optional e-versions. Publishers are happy to provide these customised options for our very specific needs, as there is no threat of piracy or legitimate resale to the large US market.

And I’ll be happy because more undergraduates will actually be reading their texts.

Yes, that “International Edition” can be used and sold in the US (says their Supreme Court)

When students buy a textbook published by a US company in the NUS co-op, they may have to fork out something like $60 for a copy.

The same book, sold in the US, may cost between $150-$200. The difference? The book cover! Holey-moley!

Well, also, the copy you buy in Singapore will be labelled “International Edition” or, in the past, “Not for sale in the US” or both.

Solomon, Berg & Martin, 2011
Solomon, Berg & Martin’s Biology (2011, 9/e)

So alert Singapore students heading overseas for studies should do their book shopping at the NUS Co-Op and make large savings.

Is it illegal? Publishers frown on this, but there is no law preventing this. Anyway, students purchases are negligible compared to the large US market so this has not really been an issue

Then Thai student Supap Kirtsaeng studying in the US, had family and friends ship him the cheaper international books from Thailand. He resold them in the US at higher prices and pocketed the considerable profits – close to US$1 million).

This dedicated operation won the ire of publisher John Wiley & Sons Inc. They took him to court and initially won their case in US district and appeal courts.

But on 19 March this year, the previous decisions were overturned by the US Supreme Court.

So it has now been made clear to all that you are free to use, import and resell copyright works in the United States even if they were produced outside of the US. In other words, the US Copyright law’s “first-sale doctrine” does not exert geographic limitations.

Amongst the relieved appear to be US Librarians as well – they can “loan the 200 million foreign-made titles on their shelves without seeking permission from copyright holders or fearing a lawsuit” (“Libraries Can Lend Foreign Books,” by Ry Rivard. Inside Higher Ed, 20 Mar 2013).

To combat this vulnerability, US publishers may decide to sacrifice the smaller profit market of International Editions in Asia, for example, to protect their much larger and lucrative US market.

This would mean my students in Singapore would only see US edition texts in the co-op. They are not going to fork out $150 for a single module text book and I would suggest alternatives.

But I needn’t begin looking for alternatives, there already solutions – custom print and e-books. The latter are already available for most new books and new editions. Happily, this will also lower student’s costs as they are cheaper than text books.

Students are more likely to buy and read a cheap, mobile copy of a recommended text rather than a heavy text book. And that will make their lecturers happy.

And happy too be will the publisher’s representative – lecturers should talk to them if in doubt about your recommended texts. They respond quickly and help with solutions. They don’t want to see $150 textbooks in the co-op either, it’ll mean the death knell for their line of work.

I almost regret the solutions. Using alternative resources for first-year biodiversity from multiple papers and resource webpages would be good training for our first years. But perhaps in later years.

First, they need to learn to read.


  • “Libraries Can Lend Foreign Books,” by Ry Rivard. Inside Higher Ed, 20 March 2013.
  • “Supreme Court Gives American Consumers Victory Over Copyright Owners in Kirtsaeng vs. John Wiley & Sons,” by Gary Shapiro. Forbes.com, 20 Mar 2013.
  • “Kirtsaeng and the First-Sale Doctrine’s Digital Problem,” by Clark D. Asay. Stanford Law Review, 07 May 2013.
  • “How Supap Kirtsaeng’s Textbooks Idea Led to Supreme Court,” By Greg Stohr. Bloomberg, 26 Oct 2012

Grand Traverse, New Zealand (Dec 2012)

An idea that arose from the walk last year is to stay in the Rat’s Nest alone one day. A minimalistic hut in solitude.

Walking through the trails and on to a warm hut can’t adequately capture the feeling of this space. Conditions can change drastically but I’ve learnt the kit and safety routines. When can I go?


World Environment Day cat

Sungei Buloh gave me a lovely gift for talking at the WED 2011 celebrations. Made of Xylocarpus granatum bark, they made a silhouette of a cat.

Xylo the cat is named after that same tree, as he appeared in the X. granatum forest at Buloh east, to claim me in 2006.

He still likes pawing flowing water.