Memorable camping trip for special scouts



Fun time: (Front row from left) Coordinator Veronica Pau, Nur Hasliza, Assistant Commissioner of the Scouts Association of Malaysia Neoh Dian Bin, Goh Kai Li, Khoo and Pulau Tikus assemblyman Koay Teng Hai sharing a light moment during the 4th Penang Cheshire Agoonoree camping weekend at the Penang Water Sports Recreation Centre.

IT was indeed a change of scenery for 30 “special scouts” from their daily routine when they had a thrilling time camping over the weekend.

The scouts, aged between eight and 40, from the Penang Cheshire Home and The Cerebral Palsy (Spastic) Children’s Association of Penang happily breathed in the sea air as they eagerly looked forward to the various activities awaiting them during their gathering at the Penang Water Sports Recreation Centre in Tanjung Bungah on Saturday.

They were joined by 40 regular scouts from SMK Jalan Damai, Bukit Mertajam for the camp held in conjunction with the 4th Penang Cheshire Agoonoree.

The “special scouts” were delighted when they flew kites with help from the regular scouts and they beamed with pride when photographs were taken.

Elated feeling: A regular scout launching a kite for his fellow scout at the camp.

Cheshire Home president Datuk Seri Khoo Keat Siew said the Agoonoree aimed to bring regular and special scouts together to forge a common bond and to integrate the disabled into the mainstream society.

“Such events gives the special scouts the opportunity to participate in practical outdoor activities such as camping, campfires, woodcraft, aquatics and sports,” he said in his speech.

The Penang Cheshire Agoonoree co-ordinator Veronica Pau said that camping was a way for the disabled to be exposed to outdoor life and to interact with regular scouts.

“All of them worked together in putting up the tents. Half was done by the regular scouts and the other half by the special scouts. It was a beautiful sight,” she said.

Pulau Tikus assemblyman Koay Teng Hai opened the event.

The other activities that were lined up for the scouts included cooking, trip to the National Horse Show at the Penang Turf Club, trishaw rides along the heritage trails, paintball games as well as arts and crafts activities.

Camaraderie of scouting pack


SOME 3,000 scouts from around the country and their fellow members from Bangladesh and Indonesia gathered at Tan Chay Yan Scout Camp in Bukit Katil for the 7th Malacca World Heritage City Jamboree recently.

The five-day event was packed with 17 scouting activities, including a tour of the Malacca historic city.

se_04know An assistant scout leader briefing jamboree participants on building a bridge without glue, duct tape and srings.

Jamboree chairman Tan Beng Siang said the gathering forged closer ties between the scouts and honed their outdoor skills.

“The participants were required to complete five activities of six activities and one of two tests to receive activity badges as a token of participation,” said Tan.

He said the six categories were scouting skills, science and handicraft, customs and cultures, adventure, Malacca day tour and amateur radio operating skills.

“They also had to choose between visiting an exhibition at the campsite and answering a series of questions or performing community services for the tests,” he added.

Contingents from Bangladesh and parts of Indonesia like Palembang, Riau, Jambi, Dumai, Bukit TInggi and Jakarta took part.

The scouts were required to apply their scientific knowledge and handicraft skills to create flying rockets by using bottles, a blade, glue, cardboards and cellophane tape.

In the spirit of brotherhood, the scouts cheered loudly when a rocket was launched into the sky and even applauded as encouragement when the rockets failed.

se_04bamboo Make-your-own: Muhamad Farid Amri Mohd Asri from Kelantan tying two pieces of bamboo to form the gateway for his contingent’s building.

Indonesian scout Hayati Puasa, 15, said the jamboree was the first she had attended overseas.

“I enjoyed the historic city the most as I visited landmarks such as A Famosa Fort, The Stadthuys and St Paul Hill,” said Hayati.

For 14-year-old Mohd Firdaus Hisha from Negri Sembilan, scouting was not only about learning survival skills.

se_04rocket Creative work: Malacca High School scouts creating a pressure-powered flying rocket with bottles, glue, cardboard and tape.

“Scouts today have to learn science and technology to keep up with the fast-changing world,” he said.

City lad Muhammad Farid Hamid, 14, said the bicycle expedition in a rubber estate and secondary forest next to the camp was the most exciting.

“I come from Kuala Lumpur and my parents always get worried when I take my bicycle for a ride as there are simply too many cars out there.

“Here, I can pedal my heart out without worrying about incoming cars and reaching the end of the road. The fresh air is a plus too,” he said.

For 16-year-old Chong Wai Seng from Pahang, the jamboree was a good opportunity to share experiences and make friends.

“It is a time for bonding with scouts from other states and contingents. New friendships are forged when we get together to do the same things,” he said.

Penang contingent leader Rozhan Yahaya, 38, brought along 66 scouts from five different troops.

“Most of them have attended jamborees while the newcomers have sufficient camping experience to go through the five-day event,” said Rozhan, who has been active in scouting since 1997 and has 10 jamborees behind him.

He said his boys enjoyed themselves and look forward to future activities.

25 scouts honoured with medals


KOTA BARU: The Kelantan scout movement awarded 25 medals of appreciation to its members to commemorate 100 years of the Malaysian Federation of Scouts.

The ceremony was held at Kem Kijang here in front of 500 scouts from all over the state.

Federation treasurer Datuk Jamaludin Mohd Tahir, in his speech, said measures were being taken to bring back the glory days of scouting.

“The council is aware that the scout movement is not as popular among school students as it once was,” he added.

Jamaluddin urged scouts to stay abreast with knowledge, which was easier now with advances in information technology.

260 learn useful skills along heritage trail


IT was a fun and educational outing for Cub Scout Yew Jia Jing when he got to acquire first aid skills, play games and learn some history when he took part in the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site Trail.

Yew led his team, Patrol A, to become the cham-pions in the primary school category in the event orga-nised by Scouts Association of Malaysia Penang on Saturday.

He said they were “physically very exhausted but excited.”

“We woke up early fee-ling over-excited and du-ring the activities, all of us gave our best but hadn’t expect to win,” the 12-year-old from SJK(C) Lay Keow in Permatang Pauh said.

scoutsScouts learning up some scout skills during the event.

His patrol member Teoh Chin May, 11, said she would share what she learned with her friends in school.

They were among 260 Scouts, Girl Guides and Cub Scouts who participa-ted in the event that was supported by the Penang Education Department, Penang Youth and Sports Department and Penang Youth Council.

The students were from 20 primary and secondary schools from Penang and Kedah.

The activities were divided into primary school and secondary school ca-tegories.

The Cub Scouts’ activities were held in the Fort Cornwallis compound while the Scouts and Girl Guides went to Dewan Sri Pinang, St George’s Church, Masjid Kapitan Keling, Khoo Kongsi and Mahamariamman Temple for their station games.

Chan Sing Ying, the leader of Patrol Orange from SMJK Keat Hwa in Alor Setar, the secon-dary school category champions, said the games encouraged better interaction among the members.

“We really learned a lot of stuff like banda-ging, survival skills, marching and mapping. And most important of all, we learned how to appreciate the rich history of the buildings.

“We had to cooperate with each other and it was pure team work that led us to become the champs!” she said.

Each champion team won a trophy and a certificate of appreciation.

State Scouts Commissioner Zulkafli Kama-ruddin said the event not only exposed the students to the various historical sites but also gave them a chance to explore various skills like map-reading and using a compass.

Flora lover

A story about an ex-scout

By Hilary Chiew

A lifetime dedicated to studying plants has not gone unnoticed for this botanist, who recently received a prestigious award for his work.

IF you ask Dr Francis S.P. Ng the name of any trees in this country, chances are he will be able to answer you. And he might even tell you where the herbarium specimens are kept.

Such is the depth of his knowledge for he is one of the handful of local botanists who have toiled for a quarter century surveying 2,800 species of trees, all of which are documented in the four-volume Tree Flora of Malaya.

Working alongside his mentor, the late Dr Tim C. Whitmore who had edited the first two volumes that were published in 1972, Ng edited the last two volumes which were published in 1978 and 1989.

He belongs to the pioneer corp of local foresters who gradually took over the management and research work at the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) from their English predecessors in the years after independence in 1957.

Under the Colombo Plan for economic and social advancement of the peoples of South and South-East Asia, Ng received a scholarship to pursue his botanical degree at the University of Tasmania. He joined FRIM upon graduation in 1964. Four years later, again sponsored by the Colombo Plan, he left for the University of Oxford where he based his thesis on the biological studies of the Ebenaceae, a family of 500 species of flowering trees and shrubs which include ebony and persimmon.

“Malaysia is the only independent country ever to finish a tree inventory,” reveals the botanist.

f_11francis Botanist extraordinaire: Dr Francis Ng holding up the pla que which honoured his long dedication to the world of plants.

“The process of Malayanisation, as it was called, spanned 1957 to 1965. Subsequently, Malaysia continued to receive support from rich countries in the Commonwealth group such as Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand,” he explains.

During that period, foreign experts were also sent to work and train locals in the former colony and FRIM benefited from experienced foresters who willingly imparted their skills and knowledge to develop a forestry management system for the country.

Recalling the extensive and ambitious Tree Flora of Malaya, Ng says the project spanned his entire career at FRIM.

“In those days, we were prepared to spend our lifetime exploring and dedicated to one single mission. Nowadays, scientists don’t harbour that big an ambition. Nobody will invest their lifetime doing one piece of work.

“With the new funding mechanism, researchers tend to think short-term. They do small projects and wait for funding. (In a way,) the prevailing funding mechanism has changed the scientific mentality (for the worse) and stifled good research,” he opines.

Ng’s interests in plants began when he was a young boy growing up in Kampung Simee in the outskirts of Ipoh. His family had built their house on the prescribed 360sqm of land given by the government to each resettled Chinese family during the Emergency period.

Like most settlers, his family grew edible plants. In his secondary school days, Ng was an active Scout and often explored the jungle which earned him one of the merit badges, the forester badge. Autobiographies of great people like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein inspired and nurtured Ng’s dream of becoming a scientist.

“By the 20th century, all the physical discoveries have been accomplished. The only discoveries that can be had were in the botanical arena,” says Ng who retired from FRIM in 1989 as its deputy director-general.

He later headed the forest research and training branch of the Food and Agriculture Organisation from 1991 to 1994 and was director of the research division at the Centre for International Forestry Research between 1994 and 1997.

His dedication to botany recently earned him the David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration, making him the first Malaysian to be listed on the esteemed list that includes other luminaries like Sir Gillian Prance, the former director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, renowned for his ethno-botanical study of the Brazilian nut in the Amazon forests.

Ng, 68, is instrumental in the ex-situ conservation to save the rare Malaysian witch hazel (Maingaya malayana), the only species of its genus and until recently known only from two herbarium specimens collected a century ago.

In 1971, upon returning from Oxford, Ng collected three seeds of the Malaysian witch hazel from one tree in Penang and planted them on FRIM grounds. When the tree’s rarity was noted, Ng rushed back to the place but the tree had been felled.

Ng is known for his exhaustive study of 1,000 species of tropical fruits and seeds.

The award citation noted Ng’s contribution to conservation, research and exploration of Indomalaya’s forest, achievements that are in the footsteps of Fairchild, an accomplished American plant collector before World War II.

As director of the Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction of the United States Department of Agriculture, Fairchild introduced some 75,000 selected varieties and species of useful plants such as durum wheat, Japanese rice, Sudan grass, Chinese soybean, Chinese elm, persimmon and pistachio to the world’s leading superpower.

A past recipient of the Fairchild award is Dr Ruth Kiew, a Malaysia-based English botanist renowned for her extensive work in Malaysian flora.

As someone who believes that knowledge is borderless and who appreciates the free flow of genetic resources throughout human history, Ng is concerned that recent developments governing genetics ownership under the Convention on Biological Diversity will have an adverse effect on knowledge about plants beneficial to mankind.

“The convention has rightly emphasised the need for conservation but on the flip side, barriers have come up that inhibit the sharing of these resources due to fear of bio-piracy. Now people tend to look at genetic resources as a pot of gold but without intellectual effort that goes into studying their properties and values, a plant may not have its perceived value.

“Very often, the intellectual input does not necessarily happen in the country of origin. So, if you discourage research, you risk putting an end to discovery of new knowledge,” he argues.

Ng’s vast knowledge in tropical plants now goes into the many consultation jobs that he has taken up. He is consultant editor for the Journal of Tropical Forest Science, lead consultant for the planned Natural History Museum and is also supervising the creation of a rooftop garden at 1 Utama shopping centre in Petaling Jaya.

He has published more than 140 scientific papers, books and CDs on tropical botany, including The Tropical Garden City: Its Creation and Maintenance and Tropical Horticulture and Gardening.

FT Girl Guides Association celebrates World Thinking Day


THE Federal Territory Girl Guides Association celebrated World Thinking Day on Saturday by launching an awareness campaign to stop the spread of AIDS through the sale of its bookmark.

The bookmark basically carries important information on AIDS awareness and members will help to sell it to raise funds to help the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) in its global fight against AIDS and other diseases.

World Thinking Day, which falls on Feb 22, was originally a Girl Guide and Scout initiative whereby girls all over the world sent kind thoughts to each other and learnt more about life from girls in other cultures.

Today, it has moved beyond the Guide and Scout movements and has been adopted by other girl groups. The message has also expanded to focus on health issues that affect girls and young women.

m_10norkhayati Informative initiative: (From left) Norkhayati (in white tudung), Yeoh and DBKL deputy director-general (administration) Datuk Norma Malik launching the AIDS awareness bookmark project.

The celebration, which was held at the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) auditorium, featured songs and performances by Girl Guides from various schools in the city.

The event was graced by Federal Territory Girl Guides Association patron Datin Norkhayati Hashim, who is the wife of Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail.

Also present were Kuala Lumpur Girl Guides Association president Datuk Yeoh Soo Keng and Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur Education Department director Sulaiman Wak.

Yeoh said the association had planned several activities for its members for the year 2009 and that most of them would include AIDS awareness education.

The programmes include social activities, scheme tests and handicraft making, involving Guides from 145 schools in the Federal Territory.

The Girl Guides movement in Malaysia began in 1916 with only six members, and there are now more than 8,000 members in the Federal Territory.

Calling all former scouts, ISGF Asia Pacific gathering to be held in July


THE International Scout and Guide Fellowship (ISGF) Asia Pacific Gathering will be held from July 16 to 21 at the Selesa Resort in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang.

It is the second time the gathering is being held here – the first in August 1998 – by the Malaysian Fellowship of Former Scouts and Guides (Fofsag).

Themed Towards A Better World, the activities would include a campfire night, waterfall tour and fellowship banquet.

“The highlight is the Asia Pacific Inaugural Golf Tournament for both local and foreign participants. We also have visits to places of interests and selected tours to promote Malaysia to the foreigners,” Fofsag president Tajinder Singh said.

Second time: Grant (third from left) launching the ISGF Asia Pacific Gathering. On the right is Tajinder.

ISGF world chairman Brett D Grant said the event’s objective was to bring all members within the region together to form a network.

“So far, 70 members internationally have registered to participate in this gathering, and we have also received enquiries from members beyond our region – Ghana, Egypt, Libya, Denmark and United Kingdom,” he said.

For details, call 03-40453421, or Shaharom Banun (013-3360088) or Tajinder Singh (017-3832303) or visit

Abdullah the scout par excellence


LARGE banners of outgoing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi looking resplendent in full Scouts uniform adorn the walls of Rumah BP, the headquarters of the National Scouts Association of Malaysia, in Jalan Hang Jebat, Kuala Lumpur.

The photo was taken after Abdullah, the association’s honorary president, received the highest award of the movement, the Semangat Padi Award First Class (Gold), during its centenary celebration in 2006.

In the picture, Abdullah is seen standing tall next to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who also heads the scout movement in Indonesia called Pramuka.

“Once a scout always a scout, Pak Lah always reminds us of that, and he practises what he preaches. Not only that, he has always been a sincere follower of all scout rules and principles,” national chief scout Datuk Seri Dr Shafie Mohd Salleh told StarMetro.

According to Shafie, Abdullah had shown his leadership abilities during his school days, when he joined the scout movement in his primary school days and later became a troop leader at the Bukit Mertajam High School.

“In fact, the humble prime minister always said the training he had during his scouting days made him what he is, and a scout will always become a successful person as discipline has been inculcated in him since young,” Shafie said.

Renewing their commitment: Shafie (middle) with chief executive secretary Mohd Zaki Nurud-Din (right) and national training commissioner Abdul Shukor Mohsin taking an oath.

Abdullah’s scoutmaster Ng Soo Chye has recalled in the scouts circular that he was someone who thought creatively, liked to mix with friends of different ethnic backgrounds, was a disciplined person and had innate leadership ability.

“Datuk Seri was also a selfless scout who was ever ready to help others, therefore he was always a crowd favourite. He was polite but firm, he could shoulder responsibilities and he was good at delegating tasks. He was an epitome of the scout spirit,” Ng was quoted as saying.

Shafie said it was quite a challenge to list out Abdullah’s contributions to the movement as there were just too many.

One of his first efforts, which is still much appreciated after several decades, was his decision to make uniform group participation a compulsory co-curricular activity in schools in 1984 when he was the education minister and the patron of the association.

He also directed the formation of the Training Scout Council of Malaysia under the Education Ministry to facilitate the movement’s development.

Shafie said Abdullah was also the first to take the initiative to bring scouts in Asean closer together, fostering closer bilateral ties among the countries and promoting better understanding between the people at all levels.

Leaders in the region welcomed the initiative with enthusiasm, and the Asean Scout was formed after a meeting between Abdullah and Susilo.

“When the Indonesian president came with his delegates for the centenary celebration, we were treated to a heartening scene where everyone scrambled to see their old scout uniforms. That simply demonstrated the spirit, Scout Never Alone and Always Like Young,” Shafie said.

He said Abdullah, as a caring leader, heeded the needs of poor people closely.

Shafie said among the various measures, Abdullah offered free uniforms to schoolgoing members whose household income was less than RM1,000 a month.

He recalled that the opening ceremony of the International Union of Muslim Scouts international jamboree in Malacca in 2006 coincided with a cabinet meeting but Abdullah made it to the function.

“Though it was difficult, Pak Lah did not disappoint the participants from all around the world. Such dedication and understanding really touched me,” he said.

Shafie said Abdullah’s efforts were appreciated by the international scouting fraternity, with the Indonesian Scout Movement honouring him with the Tunas Kencana award in Jakarta in 2007.

The scount movement’s centurial celebration will climax on April 25 when the commemorative medal and shilling will be unveiled. The association will present the medal to Abdullah and invite him to continue leading the local movement, which now has 250,000 members.

Leow loses kilos but gains friends during NS stint


KUANTAN: National Service (NS) trainee Leow Chee Yong might have lost some kilos during the three-month training programme but he was compensated by gaining a lot of experience and new friends.Leow, 18, who was announced as the recipient of the ‘Wira’ award at the end of the programme held at Hijrah PLKN Camp in Penor here recently, said he found the whole programme exciting and had no difficulty in completing the activities.

“The programme develops a wholesome attitude for the trainees and promotes unity.

se_03leow Sensational: Leow (right) receiving the “Wira” award from Abdul Hadi (left) after completing the three-month National Service programme.

“It teaches everyone about cooperation and ways to achieve it,” he said when met after the function.

The fifth boy of six siblings and a scout leader from Tangkak, Johor, Leow received his award from the NS director general Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil at the closing ceremony.

Leow added that during the stint, he was close to many trainees of different races and religion.

“It gives the opportunity for me to know about their culture better.

“I also learned to be more independent and gained knowledge on leadership qualities,” said Leow.

On the most unforgettable experience during the programme, Leow said it was when he tried rowing the kayak.

Leow added that there were concerns because of his weight but he managed to complete the task and was even praised for doing a good job.

Abdul Hadi, in his speech earlier, commended the trainees for completing their stint and was confident that they would become a better lot.

He also said parents would see their children as ‘a new person’ with a more positive outlook and a higher sense of patriotism.

A day out in the town for Girl Guides

Story and photos by NIK NAIZI HUSIN

THE three-day Friends of Asia Pacific World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) general assembly held in Kuantan was a time for bonding and also an opportunity for the participants to get to know Pahang better.

WAGGGS is the official umbrella organisation for the national Girl Guide and Girl Scout organisations in the world with about 10 million individual members.

It provided young women with high quality non-formal educational programmes, including training in life skills, leaderships and decision making.

se_06shahrizat Fostering good relationship: Tunku Azizah (left), Adviser on Women and Social Development to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil with the Korean participants.

The assembly held in Kuantan recently saw some 100 participants from Malaysia, South Korea and Australia taking time off during the event to have a familiarisation tour to the Royal Tenun (weaving) Centre in Kampong Sunagi Soi in the town and later proceed to visit Rumah Penyayang Tun Rahah and the Tunku Azizah cooking school in the Inderapura Resort, both in the Royal Town of Pekan.

Royal Patron of WAGGGS and Malaysia’s WAGGGGS chairman Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Sultan Iskandar said the participants were able to let their hair down during the three days to strengthen not only their friendship but the guiding spirit in them.

“It is what I call bonding time,” Tunku Azizah said in her message in the souvenier programme book.

se_06cooking This is how you do it: Tunku Azizah showing off her cooking skills to the participants.

She said the gathering was held a week after the World Thinking Day and in conjucntion with the day, she called on members to think of how to recruit more friends.

“Think of how many more friends we can have and all the wonderful things we can do to promote and contribute towards guiding in the Asia Pacific region,” she said.

During the visit to the weaving centre, the participants were shown the art of tenun Pahang, which included fabric weaved by the skillful workers and guests in the centre.

se_06music Music time: The villagers in Pekan district playing traditional music for the participants during their visit to the Tunku Azizah Cooking School.

They spent more than an hour getting to know the centre’s workers and guests while appreciating their art of weaving.

In Rumah Penyayang Tun Rahah, orphans and children from broken homes were delighted to meet the WAGGGS participants.

Lunch was held in a hall together with the participants and Tunku Azizah.

Later in the evening, the participants visited Inderapura Resort and the nearby Tunku Azizah cooking school where Tunku Azizah showed off her cooking skills.