Thursday, 28 June 2012

Water, Oil and Gas (WOG)

What is water? Where does water come from? Why do we need water? Can we live without water? We know from the Asian Tsunami 2004 that man can survive for 14 days without water. Is water essential? Where can we find water? Is there no water somewhere? Where? Where are our water resources? Who owns water? Who makes water? Who sells water? Who has no water? Why has water become a commodity? Why is water expensive? Why is water the #3 cause of war, after oil and gold? Why are we rushing for water ownership? Why are we fighting because of water? Why are we killing because of water? Why has water become a source of conflict in almost every nation that exists on Earth? Why? Why? Why? Remember, water, oil and gas all exist as a package in nature - conquering water resources means you automatically get the other 2, oil and gas. Let's look at the triad - water, oil and gas.

Here are some good reads and maps about water, oil and gas:

Thomas Malthus Theory:

Middle East Rainfall 1973:

Middle East Groundwater 1973:

Caspian Sea oil and gas 2001:

Maps of Israel:

Maps of Asia:

Map of Indo-China 1886: (shows proposed Burma-Siam-China railway)

Maps of Thailand:
- administrative map 2005: (also shows Satun, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat)
- 72 provinces in Thailand 1988: (Pattani is #34)
- shows names of towns: (also part of Burma, including a town called Pegu (Bago) which is much cited in Malay History. There is also the town of Moulmein).
- economy map 1974: (shows mining but there is no gold marked on the map. Where did Thailand obtain all her gold for her palaces and temples?)
- ethnic Thai groups 1974: (shows the Malays lives in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Satun)
- relief map: (also shows railway)

In the old days, if  a doctor needed to travel from Penang to Kota Bharu, Kelantan, he would have to take the train that went up to Thailand, then take another train that came back down to Kelantan. In Kelantan, the train previously stopped at Penambang, then the doctor had to take a ship across Sungai Kelantan, and make it to Kota Bharu. The journey from Penang to Kota Bharu, Kelantan may take many days. This journey appears in the biography of Dr Ali Othman Merican, and his sons, Dr Carleel Merican and Dr Ezanee Merican.

There was no bridge across Sg Kelantan till one was built by the British in 1939 - it was a bridge that collected toll. In 1967, the toll was $2 (RM2) per vehicle; motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians did not have to pay. Buses had to pay. 

Maps of Malaysia: (1998)

Map of Malacca 1854:

Malacca has a lot of water problems because geographically, it has a low water-table. This means, you need to dig a well deep enough to get to the water-table. However, it is rather weird that Malacca also suffers from floods! I don't understand the water and irrigation system in Malacca.

In the many reports of typhoid and cholera in the old newspapers, Malacca and Terengganu had major outbreaks in 1964 and 1967 (have to re-check the dates). Terengganu has many rivers.

In a book by Yeoh, she explained that when Singapore (and all of Malaya) used the bucket system, there were some problems with the collection of the buckets (tong tahi). The buckets had to be carried from the latrines, through the living-room to the front, so the Chinese man can collect the nightsoil. That cause diseases somehow (I have no idea how this can happen).

When I lived in Banda Hilir, Malacca, my family had a latrine far away from the house. It used the bucket system and a Chinese man would come and collect the nightsoil. The buckets were stinking and looked really ugly.

Malaysia was really lucky when Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin invented the Jitra Bowl in 1963, a cousin of the Siamese Bowl. In early 1970, my father installed the Jitra Bowl with a flush system for our Banda Hilir house. It was the first time someone did that for a kampung house. As kids, we didn't have to go to the dark latrine outside anymore. It was a great change in hygiene.

Maps of Singapore: (shows 3 airports 2005) (shows Keppel Harbour 1973) (built-up areas)

When the Japanese war reached Singapore (Battle of Singapore 8-14 February 1942), the first thing that Abdul Majid bin Ismail was assigned to do was to check the water resources in Singapore, for the Japanese army. He had to take water samples at about 8 places, some at the lowlands and others at the highlands. According to Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid (Coco Majid), the water samples at the lowlands were all salty and the ones at the highlands were freshwater. The names of the places are mentioned in his biography. There was a Japanese chemist whom Coco was working for.

There was some water problems experienced by the Japanese army. I don't know the exact nature of that water problem. I don't know if that same water problem is the same water problem that Singapore faces today (67 years post-war). What is the water level in the lowlands of Singapore? Aren't the reservoirs providing sufficient water? Singapore also buys and processes water for Malaysia and then sells it back at a higher price - why? When I went to see Singapore and crossed the Johor Causeway, I saw huge silver water pipes on my side of the train window. It was drizzling so my photos didn't come out good. Anyway. I didn't know it was the Causeway! I had thought it was a big river! I don't remember the Causeway from childhood.

Looking at the map of Singapore, I can see a lot of water bodies formed by lakes and rivers.  I'm just wondering what is the actual water problem - is it lack of freshwater or is it lack of water altogether? Penang is an island and it has no water problems. As I faintly recall, there is Guillemard Dam, one at Bukit Dumbar and another near where we lived in Penang, somewhere near Brown Garden side, facing Bukit Pemancar. Penang also has the best drinkable filtered tap water (no need to boil).

Maps of the Philippines: (shows Palawan, presumably home of the Sea Gypsies)

Internet Publishing

We now have a problem because everyone is split over the meaning of Internet privacy. I will select and list here the ones that have the correct interpretation. There are many interpretations. I have written to 5 people, including the publisher for the two books on The Early Malay Doctors. It will certainly delay publishing. I will write the full terms later, as I have a class session now.

Straits Settlements (SS)

The Straits Settlements (SS) refer to the 3 states which do not have Malay sultans - Penang, Malacca and Singapore. Actually the SS is a misnomer; the 3 states had Malay sultans. Penang was a part of Kedah (old spelling Quedah) and was thus under the Kedah Sultanate. Malacca was under the Malacca Sultanate which was over thrown by the Portuguese. Singapore had Sultan Hussain Muazzam Shah. What happened to them and the 3 sultanates? We have continued with the British system and legacy and even after Merdeka, we have not restored the 3 sultans for the 3 Malay states. I think we should since the lands are still Malay lands, and Malay lands have sultans. India had Indians sultans but lost them. Britain still maintains its white kings and queens. China had Chinese emperors and empresses but lost them. So, we too need to maintain our Malay sultans and sultanahs. 

Back to the SS, what did we have? I went to Penang Museum to see what they had under SS. This is what they have - pinggan-mangkuk kaca warna putih. Fine bone China with SS marked on the back. Have you seen them? What are they for?  They are very pretty.

The British had a lovely time here in Malaya. They dined and lived as if it was paradise, like in the movie Bali High. That is the picture I get when I read about the British people in Malaya. Even the hotels at the time were merely for them, including the swimming pools. Our lives and theirs were totally different and nothing we see today comes close to how the white masters lived here at that time. Our forefathers must have felt so bad.

SS dinnerware, Penang Museum

History of the Camera and Life

I want to bring up the camera as I think this is about the most important invention that records history in pictures.

If you go to museum, etc, you will see old models of cameras. Here are some old camera models: 

We can safely say the camera was invented by the Chinese, picked up by the Europeans, adapted and modified to whatever was usable though impractical. 

If we check old photographs of the 1830s, these were likely photos from the early camera models that worked, and the cameras were big and on a tripod-like structure. The flash used was blinding.

When I had my pictures taken in the early 1960s, the big bulky accordian-like box cameras were still in use by photo studios. I still remember in some cases they used a flash that was like a fan-flower piece and the flash itself was so strong that it could send a child rolling backwards. Many people did not like being photographed because of the blinding flash that was used for indoor photography. But the photographs from these early cameras are sharp and good, they last till today.

Some of the doctors had some of the early cameras. Later on there the SLRs, then the automatic disposable, followed by autofocus, then finally the digital still and now zoom and video cam. Soem doctors preferred to develop their own photographs.  

Most of the early B/W photos are very good are lasting. Nowadays we prefer coloured photos and I am worried they will not last. I looked through my photo collection and the coloured ones and slides may have to go soon. The B/W ones are still clear as if they were taken yesterday (they were taken when I completed my first degrees in 1976).

I have submitted 421 unique photos for the big book. The portraits are the usual ones but there is one portrait that stands out, and that is of Dr Megat Khas when he played the role of Bottom the Weaver in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream for a school play. He wore a dunce cap and looked really sad. The other stunning photos are of the Malay families and Malay ladies. I have never seen a Malay family gathered nicely for a photo and there is a nice one posed by Dr Megat Khas' family in a wooden home. There is one photo where 4 Megat brothers posed  for a photo, dressed in 3-piece and with pointed shoes. You may think such photos exist in European films but this is one with 4 Malay men. You cannot tell that they are Malay men. I particularly like the tea parties that the doctors attended. It seems that life was quite relaxed then and doctors had time to attend tea parties and enjoy the evening. In one photo, the men were dressed in baju Melayu and they looked really handsome. In another photo, the doctors & dentists gathered for dinner and they looked really happy. There is one photo with Dr Latifah Ghows seated very near to the camera and that is about the best photo of her so far. Next to her was a boy/man dressed in baju Melayu and songkok but I have no idea who it was. He looked Malay to me but I cannot make out who it is - could be any of the 12 doctors who are still not written about. There are quite a number of photos where most of the individual are still unidentified since the ones who knew them have all passed away. The faces are in full view but there is no clue to tell who they are. Most of the photos where the people are unidentified are from the 1960s. I don't know them too as I was 7 years old in 1965. I have passed on some of the photos to VI webmaster and to the Nursing Association in KL for assistance with identification. It is very sad that I don't know who are in the photos.

In the 1960s, there was the first Cabinet. That ministers whom I recall are Temenggung Jugah, Tan Sri Sardon Jubir, Aishah Ghani, Ghazali Jawi, Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Hussien Onn, Ghafar Baba, etc. I remember Tun Dr Mahathir from 1974 when he was education minister. I remember most of the Agongs, mostly from the stamps I collected (still at it). I remember Sultanah Bahiyah because she was the prettiest queen on TV. 

I think we were more patriotic as kids in the early 1960s. We celebrated everything that the school taught us, even Poppy Day was a big thing at school and at home. The school uniforms made us feel like responsible kids. Parents also had a different attitude then. It was a different life altogether.

We had P Ramlee movies, B/W only, for a long time but that didn't bother us as nobody had coloured TV then. There was only one channel - RTM. Much later, we had a second channel, RTM2. Then in 1982, after I returned from California, we had TV3, which was in English. Because I had returned from California after being overseas for 6 years, I could not understand the English that TV3 had used at that time. I had a lot of trouble getting used to Malaysian English; when I left Malaysia at 17, I could't even say a sentence of conversational English. It took me many years to become Malaysian again, but now I have become Kelantanese. If I venture outside Kelantan, eg go to KL for Aidilfitri, then it is hard for me to speak standard Bahasa Melayu as I have lost that skill after living in Kelantan since 1983. I can still speak some English but not as much as when I first returned in 1982. I am now learning some basic Arabic. Soon I will lose another language and pick up a new language. I'm also picking up Tagalog, hoping to travel and see Philippines for the first time. I hope to learn Indonesian so I can visit Indonesia for the first time. I have been to Thailand but the life there is very different that I got very scared of the rural life. I particularly like the shops that were selling fabric in Hadyai (if I remember the place). They sell a lot of fried chicken on the way and our bus stopped so we could by some fried chicken. I still don't know the Thai language even though I live about an hour from the Thai border. I have not captured a lot of rural life and clinics as I only had the new digital cameras this year. I was using an entry model digital still camera but I got angry with my CPU one day as a lot of viruses attacked it that I just reformatted and lost all my photos.

For the digital still, I only need a minimum 300dpi for book reproduction but dsc nowadays come at 14 Mpixels and each photo is approx. 5MB, when they were just 100Kb before. So when more photos mean more storage space, I am lost because I have a lot of photos but I cannot keep accumulating photos. At some point, some photos need to go so I have some space. For books on The Early Malay Doctors alone, I use a 13GB external HD plus  lots of cute little pendrives when I work on different computers. I buy a lot of pendrives when I go shopping, some for my kids and the rest for my work. I don't keep any empty pendrive; when I need space, I just delete an entire photo album. Then when I need the photos again, I go out to photoshoot a whole new set of photos. I still believe, the best way to work today is to have a very good camera and a very fast laptop with as much RAM as possible, and the fastest Internet. I don't scan but refer the job to my daughter - she does all the necessary scanning for me. My other daughter takes care of all my phone calls except the ones where the caller speaks English and she doesn't understand a word. She speaks American English but fails to understand the normal English on the phone. My husband takes care of all the calls which I don't hear, fail to answer, fail to understand or when I'm asleep. I don't like handphones at all. I still prefer the old dial-a-number phone. I miss the old days when things were a lot easier to manage. Technological advances are good but I still think we must keep the old things too. The new inventions today break down so often that sometimes I think it is not worth buying a new thing. I still prefer news coming from a person rather than watch TV. I still prefer story-telling rather than watch TV. A lot of things in the old days have personal touch and were so meaningful to life itself. Nowadays, there is lack of soul in life; people don't stop to ponder at all.

Batu Ferringhi beach (beach of Portuguese stones), Penang