Thursday, 29 October 2009

Count Down 2010

One of the pleasures of being an academic is that you can have really long lunches. Just came back from lunch with a group of graduates and students, a few of them having volunteered with Kampus Sejahtera. Best part of it was they paid for the lunch at Queensbay. Happy Birthday Chern Chung (did I spell it right) and thanks to for the lunch.

Over lunch I sat with a second year computer science student and tried to pick her brains about sustainability. Yes, she and her friends still occasionally tau pau with The White Coffin. Sometimes cannot help it, she said because it is so inconvenient to bring the tapauware. Of course, she is being much more influenced by her boyfriend (that Abe guy) and so she sometimes tries to "preach" green with her friends (she admits she is not as green as the BF), about not using polystyrene for instance. Initially, her friends give her the wield look. Then they will start avoiding her. She is also one of the first year students who last year got a free GoFlex collapsible tupperware container. Has she used it? Yes, once or twice (in one and half years). Her advice is, don't give people free gifts. They don't understand what it is for.

And I think that is true for probably 90% (I am exaggerating of course) of the staff and students. What's this thing, "sustainability"? Why can't we use polystyrene containers?

The unfortunate thing about me is that I am too observant. At about 11 am this morning, I walked over to see my old pal at CenPRIS and while waiting for the previous visitor to leave, I saw one of the staff walked into the pantry with a white plate full of food. My antenna immediately went hyperactive. I could not sit there anymore. I walked through the door (from where the staff had just come in), noticed the crowd downstairs, saw all the people eating happily away and stacks of polystyrene plates on the buffet spread. I walked down, bump into VC's steno. I asked, who's the organiser? "Koperasi USM. There, the Chairman is over there", she pointed. I took one of the plates, confirmed that it was polystyrene and headed for the Chairman. By the time I got close he was already sitting down with a big group of members of the cooperative. Many "big shots" were there, including the Chief Librarian. I didn't bother to do a head count. I did a backtrack and let them enjoy their lunch. Back at the office I asked my clerk whether she was at the lunch. She said yes. Did you eat at the lunch? Yes!

First there was the Raya Open house at Chancellory, then Chemistry, then Mechanical Engineering and then Computer Science. Now it even more blatant. I have detected used polystyrene containers outside the studio at HBP and in the rubbish heap at Education.

So, start the count down! To what, you asked? 2010. Still don't get it?


Chee Howe said...

Many people still think the White Coffin campaign is a hype thingy.. including our USM staffs themselves. Have we retrained all our staffs in sustainability awareness? We hear the "kelestarian" word everywhere but it has become more of a slogan to merely associate USM with Sustainability rather than to ingrain the whole idea into the life of every USM citizen. My suggestion? Make every Saturday a sustainability day, awareness trainings, field work (GET THE STAFFS OUT IN THE SUN) to understand why sustainability is important, and make sustainability efforts a big part of every department's KPI. And yeah... REPRIMAND the Koperasi for using the polystyrene plates!

Abe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abe said...

tck tck tck..
clocking i tcking.
Buck up USM!

shame on you who knew but still uses!


amran said...

Even though “Mr. Reporter” described himself as “unfortunate thing about him is that he is too observant”, but to me he is actually very fortunate to have hyperactive antenna and being observant. At least we have someone in our community to observe and to point out the mistake.

I understand that a very big and unfortunate mistake had already been done. So, Koperasi USM wants to apologize to everyone on this issue. However, please let me explain how this unfortunate mistake came about and the run-up to what happened before all of you reprimand on us.

Koperasi USM sincerely supports and committed in banning the usage of polystyrene containers. Our Kedai Mahasiswa is using paper bags instead of plastic bags for packaging. Book Garden is in the process of changing their plastic bags to paper once the stock of the plastic bags finishes. As for the AGM lunch, we regretted and felt very sad because the unfortunate mistake happened after careful precautionary action was taken. In almost every AGM each year we distributed packed lunches to our members where the ‘white coffins’ were used. The Chief Librarian cum Secretary of Board of Directors of Koperasi USM had much earlier called me to advise me against using ‘white coffin’ or polystyrene for our lunch in the AGM this year. Also at the board meeting we have already decided to have buffet lunch instead for the AGM. The AGM committee was also informed many times to make sure that proper plates are use for the buffet.

The AGM was scheduled to finish at 12.30 pm and lunch was the last agenda. However the AGM this year progressed smoothly and finished much earlier at 11.00 am. The caterer was called to quickly serve lunch. And….things started to go wrong.

I reminded the caterer about the specific instruction of not using polystyrene, but they blamed it on the reason of timing. I understand that I cannot change the situation there and then but warned them to make sure that all the polystyrene should be cleared from the event location and to be disposed properly.

On behalf of AGM committee, I sincerely apologize to The Chairman, Board of Directors of Koperasi and also to the Chief Librarian for this unfortunate mistake. VIPs were served using proper plates, so they only came to know of this issue after the event.

I will bring this matter to the next board meeting and will suggest that the caterer be fined and black listed. We might consider cutting their fees for the food served on that day as a reminder. We can channel this portion of payment to any suitable ‘tabung’ to support the banning of polystyrene container activities.

Please accept this sincere apology.


Manager Koperasi USM

Michael Peter Foo said...

To Mr. Amran,

Thanks a lot for the detailed expalination to give us a better insight on what's happening. I am Michael, volunteer of Kampus Sejahtera. On the matter of book garden giving out paper bags instead of plastic ones might arise due to the misconception of banning the plastic bag that is perceived by me. To me, banning plastic bag is more towards changing a lifestyle to a less-consumable one. Why should we give out packagings just for a book to customer when they already carry their own bag. Just in case they demand a bag, charge them for it, make them realise nothing comes free. That'd should be more appropriate to redress the issue of plastic or consumption as a whole for me personally,

Michael Peter Foo

PJ said...

Its tough sometimes. esp when i tapau food in kl.all the vendors use the white polysterene packets.
caring for the environment is hard work and can be inconvenient sometimes.
but i think i will try to bring my own containers to tapau in singapore. ;-)

Lik Meng said...

This VC USM's response to Kedai Koperasi USM :

Aslmkm, sdr Amran, tk. We are all in the learning mode which is what a uni is all about. All experiences helps. wslm

amran said...

Hi Michael,

Thank you for your opinions and suggestions. Together we build our better lifestyle for the betterment of our generations



amran said...


Thank you very much VC. Your words really cure my emotion. Just like a kid when they did mistake. He will be worry about his mom may be angry at him, so he feels very sad. Fortunately, his mom went nearer to him and rubbed his head and said “I understand that you are not purposely done it, but I know that you are going to change your attitude towards positive one. I trust you and believe that you will succeed”. What a nice feeling! Similar to me, I feel proud with the leadership of VC and my positive soul to work harder is now charging.

Just for the info, in line with the Vice Chancellor’s aspirations and efforts in this environmental and sustainability issue, The Chairman of the Board of Directors of KUSMB directed me to phase out the use of plastic bags and will opt for the environmental friendly paper bags.

Thank you again VC.

Abe said...

hmmm... seems like michael's suggestion are appreciated but not thought about? What matter is VC's comment only?

amran said...

Thank you Abe.


Chee Howe said...

I believe what is important is that more people are aware and seriously adopt the idea of sustainability into our daily practice. To make events more sustainable, anyone who wish to organize them should make serious changes in their personal lives as a start. When we live our daily lives in a responsible and sustainable manner, there is little problem making events more sustainable. As one saying goes, "How you do anything is how you do everything". So live sustainably, and our world will be a much better place to live in.