Friday, October 17, 2008

Field Trip To Ta Ann's Oil Palm Plantation

Datuk Wong Kuo Hea, CEO of Ta Ann Group welcoming participants at his 10,000-hectare Naman Oil Palm Plantation.

Datuk Abdul Hamed Sapawi, Chairman of Ta Ann Holdings Bhd briefing the participants in the plantation.He is also an Advisor to the Organising Committe.

Dr. S Paramanathan, Organising Chairman of the seminar.He has extensive knowledge on soil conditions, particularly the peatsoil in Sarawak and kalimantan Indonesia.

Dr. Lulie Melling ,Director of Tropical Peat Research Laboratory (TPRL). The TPRL was established to carry out research and undertake sustainable development on tropical peatsoil.
Participants digging out soil samples to analyse their contents.
Participants taking notes during the field trip.There are more than 100 participants from Indonesia. Other international participants include those from Thailand, Burma,Germany,Japan, India and Singapore.

Dr. Lulie's muddy hand.

Analysing different kinds of peatsoil taken from as deep as 6.5 meters.

Peatsoil land must be well drained before planting. The soil also has to be compacted.

Only a small percentage of land in Naman Plantation is undulating hills.

An expansive view of cultivated land on peatsoil.

Oil palm flowers.Don't they look beautiful?

The fruits from the peatsoil palm are generally bigger due to uninterrupted supply of water.

An international seminar on Agronomic Principles and Practices of Oil Palm Cultivation was held here from October 14-16. More than 700 participants from 10 countries took part in the seminar which was jointly organized by Agriculture Crop Trust (ACT),Tropical Peat Research Laboratory Unit in the Chief Minister's Office (TPRL), Param Agriculture Soil Surveys (PASS) and Ta Ann Holdings Bhd.Two separate field trips were made to Ta Ann's oil palm plantation at Naman on Tuesday and Thursday. The 10,000-hectare plantation is located about an hour journey by road from Sibu Town.90% of the plantation is on deep peatsoil which costs more than double in development and maintenance.

Sarawak now has more than 660,000 planted hectarage of oil palm and is ranked the 4th largest state with oil palm areas in Malaysia, after Sabah,Johor and Perak. The country's total export earnings from palm oil in 2007 were RM45.17 billion, of which Sarawak's share was about RM4.04 billion.

Seven major oil palm plantation companies from Sarawak also took the opportunity to appeal to both the state and federal governments to reduce taxes and cess contributions currently paid by the oil palm producing companies. They say they are greatly burdened by taxes as high as 55%.

Thanks to Ta Ann Holdings for assigning us to take photos of the whole event.It was very educational and fun as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Philippino Band At Bamboo House

The Bamboo House Lounge welcomes the arrival of a new Philippino live band, the Hit Mix band.The 3-girl (Mary,Amanda & Jhuan Chris)and 1 man (Rolly) band from Mindanao,Southern Philippines, will perform here for the next 3 months. Bamboo House is one of the hottest and most popular lounges in Sibu which has been operating for more than 30 years.It is centrally located on the first floor of the Sarawak House Shopping Complex which also houses the Premier Hotel and Premier Departmental Store.The hotel Manager, Mr. Tony Hii ( agrees to my suggestion on inviting active Sibu Bloggers to cover the next new band coming to perform in Bamboo House Lounge.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

20th Anniversary Party For Tiong & Lau

Cutting the 3-storey anniversary cake together

Filling up the glasses with champange

Oops...don't you think she was very nervous?...standing so unnaturally

The first kiss in 20 years....that is in front of 200 relatives and friends

The "white hair" among our friends is retired banker, Michael. He can eat and drink a lot, but never put on weight

Jennifer and Vivian posing for the camera. It's a night of fun for the pair of cousins to mingle with friends and having a big feast.
Tiong (with tie) is "beer container" among certainly no problem to yamseng with all the guests
Lau (second from right in back row) posing with classmates and friends.Can you identify who are the 4 sisters in the picture?

Tiong presenting a flower boutique to Lau while she led her lady staff singing a mandarin song for the guests

Guests performing and singing for the couple of the night

6-year old Brandon stole the night by voluntarily coming on stage to give a 20-minute non-stop disco dance. After the performance, so many of his big and small fans wanted to take photos with him.

The evergreen Pei Lei, who was champion in the Sarawak,Sabah and Brunei Chinese Song Competition belt out 3 songs for her classmate, Lau.

Tiong Hock Teck and Lau Sie Eng, active members of our get-together gang celebrated their 20th anniversary last night at the Empress Ballroom of Kingwood Hotel.About 200 close relatives and friends were invited to the fun-filled party.A very interesting home made video on the love story of the couple was released to the guests during the dinner. The couple also received congratulatory video clips and messages from well wishers as far away as Australia, China and England.Tiong is in petroleum business while his wife, Lau, is running a travel agency.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Convocation for University of Sunderland and Bolton University

Group photo with Guest of Honour, YB Dr. Hou Kok Chung, Deputy Minister of Higher Education,Malaysia (seated,middle) during the April 2008 Convocation.

YB Dr. How giving a press conference after the convocation ceremony at SEGi's Main Campus

The grand procession

2007 ceremony: Vice Chancellor of University of Sunderland presenting certificates to the graduates

Group photo of graduates of University of Sunderland with the VIPs

The grand Multipurpose Hall at Kota Damansara

Welcoming the Vice Chancellor to give his speech

Studio portrait: Happy faces

On graduation day the ladies are the most beautiful!

Family portrait

Most younger graduates prefer the book backdrop, but older ones prefer more plain backdrop like this one. Another family portrait (below)

I will be doing the convocation photography for University of Sunderland and Bolton University on October 25 and November 1.These few days there are very encouraging enquiries from graduates through phone and emails regarding our studio packages. Some of them have also made bookings online.

Both these UK universities are partners with SEGi University College,Malaysia and being the Official Photographer for SEGi, I do most of the convocation photography arranged by SEGi. SEGi is one of the largest and best equipped private institutions of higher learning in Malaysia. It was recently given the University College status by the Ministry of Education.It has campuses in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Damansara,Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya,Penang and Kuching and also a dozen training centres scattered over the country. The total student population of the group is more than 15,000, including many thousand of foreign students from ASEAN countries, China, South Asia and the Middle East. You can find out more details at their informative website:

The convocation ceremony for University of Sunderland will be held at the Multipurpose Hall, SEGi's Main Campus at Kota Damansara. The actual ceremony begins in the early evening but we will be taking studio portraits for graduates and their loved ones in the afternoon. For Bolton University, the ceremony will be held in the morning of November 1 at Hotel Nikko, Jalan Ampang.

The convocation photography is divided into two major parts. The stage photography and studio photography. The stage photography is a solemn one, there will be many VIPs, University Chancellors, Professors,Lecturers and Principals will all be there. Most parents and relatives of the graduates will also be attending the ceremony.At the end of the ceremony we will be taking a group photo of the happy graduates together with the VIPs,Chancellors,Professors,Lecturers etc. Crowd control is very crucial here as parents and relatives will normally rush to the front to take photos near the stage. The VIPs would not wait long so this important photo must be taken in just a few minutes.This is here I need several assistants to help in crowd control. Normally after a few announcements and pleas on the microphone, the crowd will obediently retreat to behind the restricted area.

Studio photography is a more interesting and fun part of the job. First we have to set up a temporary mini studio near to the hall where the convocation ceremony is being held. At SEGi's Main Campus at Kota Damansara, we are provided with a very big hall right below the Multipurpose Hall to set up our studio. In some hotels, space is very limited.In the mini studio we need at least 3 photographers and 5-8 helpers. We normally engage student helpers who are mostly introduced by the lecturers. Some of these students are in the photography,advertising or mass communications courses. So it will be a good experience for them. For the coming University of Sunderland event, I am delighted to have two student helpers from Sibu who are currently studying in KL.
SEGi is going to centralize its convocation ceremonies at the grand Multipurpose Hall at the Main Campus, Kota Damansara. It will also be very convenient for me as the space is very big and I do not need to rush from the hotel to the campus. KL's traffic could be very bad sometimes,if not most of the time. The management allows me and my team to put up at their 3-star hostel.That makes our job much easier.
Will have quite a few days in KL later this month so I look forward to taking many pictures in and around the city, meet up some old friends and hopefully also meet some new friends.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ocean going tug

A new 34 meter ocean going tug like this can cost as much as RM10 million

The mast of the tug boat is installed with radars,antennas,horns,lightings etc

Particulars of ship

The wheel house.Philippino Captain and his Officers

Very detailed marine maps are essential onboard every ship,otherwise it will get lost or ran aground.

Documents, records and reports are properly kept daily.The ship's log book records the details of each journey.

Another view of the wheel house. This one with a steel steering wheel.

All ocean going tugs and ships install Navtex (Navigational Telex)which provides direct-printing service for the delivery of navigational and meteorological warnings and forecasts and urgent marine safety information.

It's a floating office where modern office equipment such as computer,printer,scanner,photo copier are all available

All equipment are tightly secured at all time, to prevent them from falling off during stormy weather

The traditional steering wheel made of wood is still popular although many have now been replaced by steel steering wheel or joystick.According to many captains and officers, the wooden steering wheel is still the most practical.

The control panels with a lot of buttons to press and many round-shape meters are all installed within easy reach of the captain and officer and in neat rows.

I love the ocean and the ships that sail in it.When I was a small boy, I would talk about the ocean and the ships with a neighbour around my age for hours a day.After growing up whenever I have a chance to board a ship or just a small boat, I would never fail to grab that opportunity.In the last few years I had several assignments to photograph ocean going or foreign going tugs for their owners.It is always exciting,especially when you need to go off shore or another country to take these photos. In this post I would like to share with readers the navigational ,communication and safety equipment onboard the tug boat.I still cannot identify and know the names of all these equipment. They all look similiar, but actually they are quite different and complicated if you are not an expert such as the captain or officer of the boat.

Anyway, the basic equipment are listed below.

The communication equipment: (1) VHF radio telephone(2) SSB radio telephone (3)VHF walki talki (4) Intercom system (5) Satellite phone

The navigational equipment: (1) Radar system (2) GPS (3)Echo sounder (4)Autopilot system (5)Gyro compass (6)Magnectic compass (7) Speed log (8) Rudder angle indicator (9)Binoculars

The safety and rescue equipment:(1) Life raft (2)Life jacket (3)First aid kit (4)Motorized rescue boat (5)Co2 extinguishing system (6)Fire detection alarm (7)Search light (8)Siren (9)Fire extinguisher (10) Axe (11) Rocket parachute flare (12)Fireman outfit (13) Breathing apparatus (14)Epirds (Emergency position indicating radio beacons) (15)SART ( Search and rescue radar transponder)

Ocean going tugs are expensive to build and maintain. Each can cost more than RM10 million. The engines and the equipment cost is already some 35-40% of the total cost.Special purpose tug boats such as those used in the oil fields can cost several times higher than general purpose tugs.