Friday, 31 December 2010

No Plastic, Everyday

Tomorrow, 1st January 2011 (1111), the Penang State Government will launch the "no plastic everyday" policy.

The model which the experts have promoted for environmental education is first, we create awareness. With awareness (i.e. knowledge) then a person will change his/her behaviour. Usually, that means you tell the people what is good and what is bad. And tell them we want them to be good.

Well, research has shown that knowledge and awareness often (most of the time) do not lead to any transformation. Life goes on as before.

The new thinking is "transformational learning" - learning which actually leads to a transformation in behaviour. What's the key? You just have to create the opportunities to reach that conclusion on their own steam. It has to be personal. There has to be ownership.

So, will laws and government policies have any effect? Yes, to a very large extent. If the World community did not come to an agreement and imposed restrictions on CFC emissions, we would have large hole in the Ozone layer above the Antartica. Now, the hole is healing and closing up. But we are still at loggerheads about CO2 emissions.

Yes, public policy must take the lead. Even if it is unpopular. Even if the opposing parties tease and challenge the policy. Governments must act for the good of the community at large.

Happy New Year. Stay healthy.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

No Parking, Sir!

The hottest news of the month - Wheel-clamp zone in USM!!

Starting 1st of September, wheel-clamp action will be taken for those vehicles which contravence the traffic rules in USM. The regulation is applied to all USM staff, students and visitors. (Quite fair right?)

The red-line areas are the clamping zones in USM. There are a few sign boards with words “clamping zone” putting up along the roadside.

Ops! No more wording on the sign boards now. I’m wondering why they remove it...

The wheel clamping thingy doesn’t look like this though.

It look like this! Red plate with Jabatan Keselamatan contact numbers 04-653 4333/4334 on it.
If your car is clamped *touch wood*, these are the steps that you need to do:

1. Pay the fine RM 20.00 at Jabatan Bendahari (office hour: 845am-430pm) or Jabatan Keselamatan (non office hour).

2. Call Jabatan Keselamatan to unclamp your vehicle.


I was in a meeting with some USM authorities months ago about the traffic and parking lot issue in USM. There are two student representatives in the meeting as well, they was sitting beside me (i think because i look like a student :D). The authorities suggested (to avoid misunderstanding: is suggested, not decided) student should park their vehicles at Car Park in front of Dewan Utama Pelajar and take USM shuttle bus or walk to lecture halls, so that there are enough parking lots for the staff.

Yes, it is good to have vehicle-free campus IF the shuttle bus system is efficient. IF the shuttle bus system is efficient, why not everyone in USM (not only students) enjoying the shuttle bus services and create a vehicle-free campus together as warga USM?

Some suggested to limit the number of vehicle's sticker application for students and student societies, for example: maximum 3 stickers for a student society.

Then how about staff?
Unlimited stickers can be applied, but we charge them at higher price.

Why not limit the number of sticker per staff?
Cannot la, they sure will bising-bising. Because sometimes they drive car A, sometimes car B.
Sometimes the spouse comes, sometimes the children come.

So how much do you think is the appropriate charges that able to discourage staff from applying more-than-they-need amount of stickers?
One sticker of staff is RM2, however, for the second and third stickers, we charge RM10! For the fourth sticker and so on, RM50!

Well, it was just a discussion. Don't worry too much as it is not implemented (yet?).

Back to the topic - wheel-clamping!
After the implementation, we can see no more illegal parking at the roadside now. So, where are the cars?

Gotcha!! Roadside along non-clamping zone.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Relay For Life 2010

Kampus Sejahtera,

Relay for life, symbol of our heart in supporting our loved one who suffered from cancer. It has been organized annually by National Cancer Society to raise fund for the patient and increase publics' awareness towards cancer.

The 7th Relay for Life, was successfully held on 5th to 6th June at Penang Youth Garden. With 3000 volunteers and supporter, the light of hope is never slake.

No other word to describe it, except awesome! A gathering of cancer survivor, cancer fighter, volunteers, youth and elderly had shown a concrete determination to fight cancer.

Luminal ceremony has been described as the climax of the carnival. The light from the lantern warmed everyone heart here. Light, the symbol of hope, has been a tradition of Relay for Life.

The survivors stepped on the stage, holding microphone with shaking hand, sweating palms to share

their story in fighting cancer. A spark comes in my mind: I’m lucky that

I still healthy, I shouldn’t blame so much, because I have everything. We all should appreciate what we have.

Koay Khang Siean

Green Lung USM's Volunteers

The daughter light up a handmade lantern to his dad


Monday, 24 May 2010

Welcome, USM Smokers

Dear USM smokers,

I am sure that all of us know how bad is smoking. Cancer, tar, carbon monoxide, nicotine...Now, smokers, let tell us what is(are) the benefit(s)?

Because it is cool (Chinese said it as 'yeng')?
Because of stress?
Because wanted to slim down?
Because my friend is smoking?
Because of curiosity, and now addicted?

I met up a smoker last week, she tell me that addicted to smoking is just nonsense. "I never smoke in front of my family for a week during school holidays, and i didn't feel like smoking too." Of course, some heavy smoker may have withdrawal symptom. She added, is a person really decided to quit smoking, it hardy fail then.

USM started a Quit Smoking Clinic in year 2002 in Pusat Sejahtera (2nd floor). Due to lack of man power, the clinic (which is just a room) is operating only on Thursday 3-5pm. Smokers walked in voluntarily with different reasons for example, a lecturer wanted to quit smoking because his spouse is pregnant, a gang of contract worker wanted to quit because smoking is expensive, a retired staff wanted to quit because of his health problem......

You can have the weekly lung capacity check (where usually smoker's lung age will be 10 years more older than their actual age) to keep track on the Caobon Monoxide level in your lung. Besides, free nicotine gum, patches and pills are also provided to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Dr Norlela (in charge person of the clinic) said that they spend nearly RM 1000 on each participant who wanted to quit smoking.

the Quit Smoking Clinic

nicotine gums, patches and pills to help smokers from withdrawal symptom

With all the tools that USM provide for you, so what is your reason not to quit smoking?

You can make a difference.
Kampus Sejahtera

Saturday, 17 April 2010

I bought a bottle of 1L dishwashing liquid last Friday. It claimed to be "natural" because it is degradable and do not affect aquatic life.

It is green and smell a little bit 'pandan'. I (we?) used to have a myth that natural washing liquid produce far more little bubbles than the normal commercial one, and less bubbles mean "not so clean". Apparently, it is just a myth~

36 of us visiting the home-business natural soap manufacturer at Lahat, Perak. The factory situated at the end of a long and narrow lorong in a chinese village. The owner Mr Tan, learn about natural soap during his visit to Minamata, Japan. He is also an environmental activist for the ARE incident more than 16 years back.

We have a brief introduction from Mr Tan outside his factory. For your information, natural soap is made from edible oil (coconut oil and palm oil), which turn acidic to alkaline and degraded in a very short time. It means, we can use the dishwashing liquid to wash vegetables and the leftover to water your plants.

There are total 4 products: shampoo, dishwashing liquid, bar soap and clothes washing powder. They are all made from coconut oil + palm oil + lye (NaOH) + water. We glad to have Mr Tan's daughter-in-law to explain on the manufacturing process after a light meal.

The mixture of coconut oil, palm oil and lye (is only in powder and bar soap) is cooked at about 70C in this machine.

This is the mixture of dishwashing liquid/shampoo after cooked. Waiting to be colded and filtered.

This is the mixture of bar soap. Waiting to be dried and molded.

It is almost same for the washing powder. After dried, put it in "meat chopper" machine to make it smaller pieces before blended it into powder. Of course the humidity must be well controlled so that it doesn't too dry to fly anywhere neither too humid to wet the packaging because they do not use plastic bag to pack the powder.

To be really care about the environmental, they fully utilized the plastic bottle before it goes to recycle. Besides, no nice packaging too. The products are highly supported by the local community. However, it is not certified by SIRIM because there is no such soap making formula in their database. It is only get certified by Japanese Industrial Standards (JIP).

We ended our visit with group photo session. Each of us is giving a lemon grass flavor bar soap as souvenir.

This is Mr Tan. A passionate environmentalist.

The group photo (Mr Tan & Mrs Tan)

There is a story behind....shhhhhhh~

Friday, 2 April 2010

Student-Community Convention 2010

It is over...

There are only around 20 students attended SCC 2010. From the committees feedbacks, we know that people heard about this convention, talk about it and noticed the 'creative' painting banners around DK Foyer (perhaps free coffee and movie vouchers?). Some claim that 2 days convention is too long especially at this timing where people rushing assignments and tests. Some saying that "Student-Community Convention" look boring (students are hard to please nowadays). So we might need to figure it out maybe next time we put it "Volunteerism Party" or move the convention to Langkawi beach resort. :p

We are glad to have 5 speakers to talk about volunteerism.

Dr Prema (top left) and Miss Poh Lerk Shih (bottom left) from WCC (Women Centre for Change), En. Ridzuan (top right) from Consumer Association of Penang, Mr Kevin Kong(middle)a very experienced person in community services and Bernard Hor (bottom right) from Summer Sands Group.

And 4 facilitators for the workshop. Wan Teng (top left) from USM Kanita, Jeannie (top right) from PUCS (they have a new name now: XXT), Yoke Pin from ARTS-ED and Khang Siean from Green Lung.

Community service is always start with an inspection on target community: community background and community profile.The inspection helps us to understand what the community really needs. Community service is not merely services you give to the community but empowerment. "Community empowerment is making the community independance and able to generate income themselves after you leave the community", said Kevin when he talk about his interesting story when staying in Orang Asli village during his 19 years-old.

Of course the first steps to organize a volunteering services/activities, we need volunteers. Fun and unique activities is the key to attract people to join. "If volunteerism is FUN, you might not need to shout so loud" said Bernard Hor.

I am still figuring out how to convert the video file so that i can upload and share the awesome presentations. Kampus Sejahtera is planning for the coming program. Stay tunned...

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Thursday, 4 March 2010

the AIESEC way

[Errata: I am hopeless with names. It's Evelyn, not Michelle. Thanks Gene.]

What is AIESEC? What does it stand for? Their website implores you to use it as is, forget the acronym. It's got a little more than 60 years under its belt. Briefly, it is a student-run organisation based in institutions of higher learning with networks in more than 100 countries.

What does it do? Empower young people. It provides a platform for young people to nurture their leadership to bring positive impacts on society. They have a set of values which includes leadership, integrity, diversity, participation, excellence and acting sustainably.

Of course USM has it's own chapter of AIESEC and its president gave a presentation about sustaining projects, the AIESEC way, during lunch. It was a pleasure listening to Michelle. I asked her later whether she was a natural born-speaker or did AIESEC bring that out in her. She said that before AIESEC, she was rather shy or scared of speaking in public.

Their membership is small, around 60. This is by choice because they have a targetted membership drive, aimed to recruit people with certain skills or attributes to undertake certain projects. One of their key project relates to HIV/AIDS where they work with young people (in secondary schools and elsewhere) using various techniques and methods (including World Cafe) to educate them. There's also a lot of cross-cultural and international exposure. Interns from other countries come to work on their projects and they go to other countries too. A local bank is also their partner in the HIV/AIDS project.

So, yes, there are clear benefits from being involved in volunteer work.
 Michelle in her element

The tiny crowd of about 20 students.

This talk by student volunteers is the 4th and final one before the Student Volunteerism Convention to be held on 20th and 21st March 2010 (Sat and Sun) at Dewan Kuliah A (DKA), USM Main Campus in Penang. If you have an interested, send email to All are welcomed.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Meatless lunch - for zero waste

 I brought my own plate and spoon. Next to me is Kiru who is the brains behind this 7-year effort. She's a staff in USM and has been cooking vegetarian lunch at her home for distribution to students and staff based on donations. Not a single sen from USM.

I want to support their effort for many reasons. One is the spirit of volunteerism amongst the group of students who help with the cooking, distribution of food and washing. Another reason is health. Less meat is good for your health. 3rd reason is sustainability - no waste and less use of resources (as in raising animals for meet). And 4th, it is truly multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religion.

We talked about making a petition to the University to adopt a no meat day per week. We talked about encouraging the "diners" to bring their own reusable containers so as not to generate rubbish. But it needs to be come from them.

Most of all, we must start recognising and taking notice of the wonderful things being done by students and staff for the good of the community.

I was told that many students are very poor and this wholesome home-cooked meal is a welcomed relief for them.

I am guessing it is not entirely their fault that they didn't bring any reusable containers. Many just happen to bum into the free lunch corner after lecture. Perhaps we need to give more warning, or set definite dates and publicise it so that people can bring their own containers. We also talked of possibility of buying some Tupperware to be given out on loan to regular "customers". Those who were aware brought their own containers (below).

I saw this banner (I still don't like plastic banners) along the way. Yes, "zero waste". Connecting it with religion is also a power tool.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Happy Chinese New Year - and stop the waste

The reporter from Guang Ming Daily was very persistent. The first request, I said, "sorry, very busy, I'll get back to you". After about 1 month or so, she emailed again. I said "sorry, am on my way to Bucharest". That was early Dec 2009. I thought that was the end of it. End of the year, she emailed again, reminding me of my promise. So how many times can you "Say NO"? So, I said "OK come over for a chat - no interview". She said OK, just chat. Guess what? She came with a photographer.

And finally, the article is out today. I have no idea what the article says. My daughter and wife read and translated parts to me. Essentially, stop generating the waste. It seems that Penangites generate an additional 70 tonnes of rubbish during the CNY period. Not sure if that is per day. But the key point is ADDITIONAL rubbish.

So, Happy Chinese New Year to all of you. When you go to the big party at the heritage enclave in George Town tomorrow, remember : avoid the disposal containers. Insist on your right as a consumer.

Watch for the next issue of Sustainability : The journal of record (February 2010 issue) : what would you like to see?.

BTW, I am told that my secret blog is too secret - nobody seems able to find it. So here it is - still in gestation.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Calling all volunteers


As I said before in my earlier post more than one month ago, I am changing directions (sort of) and focus. The Kampus Sejahtera blog does not belong to me. It belongs to the Universiti. And as you can see, someone else, with the monekar of Santos has started posting. She works with me and has the glamorous title of Coordinator for Volunteerism.
That's one of the new directions and focus. We are shifting our attention to volunteerism. That actually is a sort of pillar of Kampus Sejahtera. To get students and staff to come forward to contribute to the well-being of everybody. Not just to resolve problems. But to work towards a vision.

For three weeks now, the students have been giving lunch time talks (without the lunch). The first two saw only a handful of people attending. So, we rammed it up a little, even offering free ice-creams (popsicles). Today there was about 30 students or so.

What we are trying to do is to gather all the students who have done one form of voluntary work or another. Let's see if they can synergise. We are not trying to bring everybody under one roof. We just want to create opportunities for them to get to know what others are doing, perhaps learn from one another, hopefully find areas to help each other, and eventually work with one another. We don't even know how big an impact USM students are making in the community. From what I gather, many of the students are doing exemplary work, unnoticed.

We also hope to gather the students at a convention, tentatively scheduled for 19-21 March 2010. Students talking to each other. Is there something the students would like to do to help USM achieve the APEX University status? If you are interested to help or know more contact


psst, I have started a secret blog. And I start burning carbon tomorrow. Find me ...

Monday, 1 February 2010


Penang Undergraduate Community Service (PUCS), founded on year 1997 with the vision and mission as below:

1. To elevate the consciousness and the standard of education among the community
2. To elevate the mindset and learning ability of the community and our members.
3. To instill and elevate volunteerism and community consciousness, thus contribute to the community.

PUCS members have their own internal training before get into the community. Every year, PUCS liase with the local community to do educational type of volunteering work in their village. PUCS usually stay in the villagers' house by 'Adoption Program'.

They have variety activities such as recycling, gotong-royong, paper DIY, making garbage enzyme, sign language class, health awareness talk and so on...

They do not get sponsorship. Thus, every member have to pay themselves to volunteer.
PUCS members pay from their own pocket to volunteer, how about you?