Thursday, January 31, 2008

That's everyday for me

Yep, that sounds about right. Which totally explains why I'm still in school at 10.31pm. Making up for lost time.

Changing Landscape Tutorial 1

This semester I have been assigned to assist in the module GEK2001/SSA2202 Changing Landscapes of Singapore. It's a really large class and I've been assigned to teach 5 tutorial slots for all 4 sessions through the semester as well as grade exam papers.

The tutorial exercises are designed by the lecturer so as to be consistent through all the classes. However, I've been experimenting with more creative ways of presenting my tutorial classes. As such I've come up with the "landscape idol" to encourage students to participate more and to be rewarded with some "intellectual prizes" at the end.

Here, I've uploaded the slides for tutorial 1 on which is an amazing tool.

I've also emailed the lecturer and TA asking them if it's alright with them for me to start a blog for my own tutorial groups. I hope they approve.

中国大雪气候 不影响本地应节年菜

30 January 2008 1912hrs by 黄双喜






Thursday, January 24, 2008

Progress for AY07/08 Semester 1

Had to submit a progress update for the supervisor today for evaluation *sigh* Somehow I could have done a lot more in terms of publishing and conference as well as field work.

Modules Taken
GE5217 Research Methods in Environmental Sciences
Grade attained: B
DE5106 Environmental Management and Assessment (offered by MEM program)
Grade attained: A

Regional Fieldwork
26-28 September 2007
Recce Trip to Cameron Highlands
Contacted and met with Mr Chua, the head of the Cameron Highlands federal agricultural department and was introduced to several farms owners and headman of villages in Cameron Highlands via Mr Chua. Conducted preliminary interviews with Mr Chua to get an idea of state side policies and local politics of the industry.

Local Fieldwork
August – December 2007
Contacted officers from Singapore’s Agri-Veterinary Authority (AVA), merchandiser for NTUC Fairprice as well as vegetable wholesalers and the association for fruits and vegetable wholesalers.

Data Collection
August – September 2007
Collected the vegetable import data for Singapore from 1990 – 2006 from the resource library of International Enterprise Singapore (formerly known as the Singapore Trade Development Board). Also collected the vegetable import export for Malaysia and Indonesia from 1990 – 2006 from IE Singapore.

Analyzed the annual reports from AVA as well as the FAO reports for Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Literature Review
Examining concepts related to farmers, agriculture, environmental assessment, indicators, virtual water, ecological footprint and the world food economy. Read classic works and current news related to both the history and vegetable production of Cameron Highlands, Malaysia in general and Indonesia-Singapore’s Riau Vegetable project.

Invited to write an article for the Singapore Environmental Council’s newsletter, Elements on environmental organizations in Singapore.
Tan, N (2007) "Going Beyond Green", in Elements, Issue 3, p3-5

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to go to Pekanbaru / Bukit Tinggi

We are seriously suspect that the farms are not in Pekanbaru but in nearby Bukit Tinggi. Till we find out, it'll be best to find out how exactly to get to Bukit Tinggi and Pekanbaru.

Here's some pretty detailed instructions from ISMIL 9:
"From Singapore, the default route is Singapore-Batam-Pekanbaru-Bukittinggi. From Singapore, take a ferry from the World Trade Centre to the Sekupang terminal on the island of Batam. A variety of companies run mostly super-modern ferries which leave every few minutes from around 0730 until around 2130. The crossing takes about 40 minutes, and gets you in to Sekupang about 20 minutes before you left Singapore, since there's an hour's time difference between Singapore (GMT +8) and Western Indonesia (GMT +7). If you're aiming for an immediate onward connection out of Batam, you'd be well advised to take the first ferry out of Singapore, which will pretty much guarantee an immediate connection. Once you've cleared Indonesian immigration and customs in Sekupang, step out of the terminal and turn right, avoiding the touts who will inevitably pounce on you, and head for the domestic terminal right next door. Most or all boats to Pekanbaru leave between 0800 and 0900. Basically there are two ways of getting from Sekupang to Pekanbaru. Since 2003, there are one or two direct boats, which go up the Siak river all the way to Sungai Duku, the boat terminal just outside Pekanbaru. The "older" route involves a boat to Buton, which is just a transfer point on the Sumatran mainland, from which a bus takes you to Pekanbaru, all on the same ticket. Either route is fine, though if you have a choice, the direct boats are more convenient plus the river trip is quite pretty. Whichever route you take, you can expect to get in to Pekanbaru around 1600 - 1800. A word of warning: if you choose to sit on the rooftop to enjoy the view, be sure to cover your head, however overcast and cool you may think it is. The tropical sun can shine through both clouds and hair, and fry the top of your head without your noticing until it is too late.

From Pekanbaru to Bukittinggi, the heavily travelled road trip takes 4-6 hours. Ordinary busses leave from the central bus terminal called Loket. If you arrive in Sungai Duku, a taxi to Loket should cost you 20,000 Rps (about 2 Euros), and a shared oplet (minibus) much less. If you're coming from Buton, ask to be let off at Loket. Most of the busses are night busses, so, if you so desire, you should be able to make an immediate onward connection. Some of the night busses have the rather irritating habit of stoping in the middle of nowhere for a few hours, in order for you to arrive in Bukittinggi at the crack of dawn rather than at, say 0200.

Alternatively, just about any taxi or oplet driver anywhere in town, including those at Sungai Duku, will be happy to drive you directly to your hotel in Maninjau, at any time of the day or night. The "official" rate for the journey is 500,000 Rps (about 50 Euros), but with bargaining you might be able to talk your driver down to 400,000 Rps, or even less, if the vehicle is sufficiently dingy. If you're travelling in a group, this can work out quite economical. There are some spectacularly good roadside Padang restaurants along the way; ask to stop at one (and it's customary to pay for your driver's food and drink)."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fieldsite Recce: Pekanbaru 20-24Mar 2008

My second field site is in the capital of Riau province, Pekanbaru. Planning a Good Friday weekend trip to recce the place with a few friends.

20 March (Thursday) Depart Singapore-Batam-Pekanbaru by boat, check in to poppies homestay
21 March (Friday) Fieldwork
22 March (Saturday) Bukit Tinggi
23 March (Sunday) Boat back to Singapore

Alternate Itinerary

21 March (Friday) Depart Singapore-Batam-Pekanbaru by boat, check in to poppies homestay
22 March (Saturday) Fieldwork
23 March (Sunday) Bukit Tinggi; flight back to Singapore on Air Asia (PKU-JKT-JB-SIN)

Currently the "team" stands at:
1. Monkey
2. Duck
3. Fish [unconfirmed]
4. [unconfirmed]

A view of pekanbaru - where are the farms? Photo by adibs
"Pekanbaru is the capital of Riau, a province in Indonesia on the island of Sumatra. It has an area of 446.5 km² and population of over 793,000. Located on the Siak River, which drains to the Strait of Malacca, Pekanbaru has direct access to the busy strait and was long known as a trading port (the city name is derived from the Indonesia words of 'new market', "pekan" meaning market, and "baru" meaning new). It is the home of Element One team member Renaldo Rasfuldi.

A settlement has existed on the city site since the 17th century. In the late 19th century, the city developed to serve the coffee and coal industries, and the Dutch built roads to help ship goods to Singapore and Malacca (now Melaka). After oil was discovered in the region in the 1930s, Pekanbaru's economy has depended heavily on oil revenues and made the city with the highest per capita income in Indonesia.[citation needed] Most of Indonesia's petroleum is produced in Riau, and much of Pekanbaru's economy is based on the petroleum industry. International oil companies, such as Chevron from US, as well as other Indonesian companies, have established their offices in the region. This location for oil has proven to be one of the best money providers in the world. However, the local government being so currupt, the US company Chevron only receives 10% of all the money made at the camps. The The city is connected by road to an oil refining and exporting port at Dumai. Many facilities, including an airport, three stadiums (buildig a fourth), swimming pool, one of the two bridges that cross the Siak River near the city, the roads in Rumbai area, and also the road to Dumai, were partially or fully financed by oil companies working in the area." - source: wikipedia
The city also has a website but is not particularly informative.

There is also a Riau University in Pekanbaru, possible contact. A very good collection of photos by Pekanbaru Photo Collections and here's another person on Flickr who's apparently from Singapore but traveled at PB.

Friday, January 18, 2008

More PhD topics ideas

was having a conversation about my frustration with neoliberalism and reading the confessions of an economic hit man and inspired for a topic I can work on for my PhD

Originally I was keen on doing a philosophical conceptual research on perspective and definition of conservation and development.

now im keen on developing an alternative form of measurement/denominator to the neoliberal economic development and gdp growth form of measuring development. this alternative paradigm must not be extreme lke the gross national happiness and must be located within a non radical, non extremist framework.

perhaps it is like developing a new system of indicators but more so a paradigm for locating environmental sustainability, conservation and development in a balanced equation. kinda sick of environmental solutions that are all located within neoliberal paradigms which really drives me bonkers because it neoliberalism does not really make space for real solutions and change that benefits more than the few ruling elites of the corporatocracy.

really something to think about. i can be the next karl marx. haha it's time we have a paradigm shift.