The slow death of Tasik Chini

The area and community of Tasik Chini was what attracted a group of Asian Public Intellectuals (API) to gather there this year. This group of about 30, with two members each from Indonesia, Japan, Philippines and Thailand with the remaining number from Malaysia, was there as part of their regional project based on the common element — water.

Tasik Chini was their last stop. Since 2008, this group has visited the Kali Code River in Yogyakarta; Biwako Lake, the largest lake in Japan; the Tapee river in the Khiriwong community in south Thailand and the Batanes islands north of the Philippines.

Hezri Adnan was the leader of this site visit. He is an academic at UKM and also a visiting Fellow at The Australian National University. He said, “We are here to develop networking and collaboration within the API fellows in response to regional environmental challenges. The gathering here is to learn, document and promote local community knowledge and how they come to terms with the degradation of their traditional habitat — the water, lakes, forest and their communal life. We hope to learn from the indigenous Jakuns and then later frame an Asian perspective to mitigate these common and urgent environment issues.”

Freedom of Expression

Speaking out for peace, justice and liberty can be a dangerous thing. Just speaking out against oppression of the authorities can mean jail, banishment or even death but this has not discouraged many individuals from doing so.

In 1948, on December 10, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to promote the universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. There are now 192 member states in the United Nations. All member states have to comply with the declaration but many countries continue to violate it.

The Nobel Peace award this December is a reminder of the importance of the 62-year-old document on human rights. This year it was awarded to Liu Xiaobo from China but he was not able to receive the honour personally.

He is serving a 12-year prison sentence in a Chinese prison. His crime is freedom of expression. He spoke out for a more open and democratic form of government for the Chinese people. China, of course, is an economic giant today but there are many voices of dissent there.

Last Saturday, December 11, for the third consecutive year, The Annexe Gallery in Kuala Lumpur had an awards ceremony for the Annexe Heroes Freedom of Expression Awards 2010.

This is also another commemoration of the existence of the Human Rights declaration. It was a modest event compared to the internationally renowned Nobel award ceremony. But it was just as significant.

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Sharing a meal and life lessons

Dinner time at the Agathians Shelter home in Petaling Jaya

Do you generally feel that real kindness might not exist (with all the endless wars and human injustices around us, here and elsewhere )? Or, do you  simply believe human beings to be naturally kind?

Have  you also wondered why there are so many kids without parents and homes in our towns and cities? Furthermore, what are your reflections on this essential yet  eternal and complex question, “How shall one live?”

One of the many places, where you can reflect on the above issues, is at the Agathians Shelter, in Petaling Jaya, a home for the displaced young people.

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Langkawi Geoparks

Langkawi, the magnificient karst landsacpe of Kilim

Why do people visit Langkawi? A lot of people go there to buy or sell duty free goods. Some go there to buy or sell airplanes during the annual international air show. Tourists go to the islands for the beautiful tropical beaches and sun. Others go there to work in the tourist industry, the main economic backbone of the island.

However, there is a growing number who go there not just for its unique geographic settings of the hills, sea, beaches and sun but to know more about its 550 million years old geological history and its landscape.

In 2007, Langkawi, part of the state of Kedah, was given a new concept, geopark, by Unesco. Not long ago it was popularly called eco-tourism and before that, it was fragmented into nature, marine, forest and cultural reserves.

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