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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Only half of Durians this time around...

Thus, more expensive too this year...

NST/AsiaOne: Durian Harvest May Drop

Penang's orchards are experiencing a low durian yield and the state stands to lose about RM20 million a year if the trend continues.

Concern is growing as 1,500 durian planters, who usually generate a combined 14,000 tonnes of durian a season (between June and July) can now only come up with half that amount.

State Agriculture Department director Abdul Nasir Hassan said planters could ideally produce up to six tonnes per hectare, but they were only generating three tonnes per hectare now.

To turn the situation around, Abdul Nasir has proposed that several measures be taken, including replanting by owners, the cleaning up of land after harvesting, and early treatment of disease-infected plants.

Abdul Nasir was speaking after attending a programme on durian disease and pest control at the Balik Pulau Sports Complex near here yesterday. Also present was state Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Committee chairman Law Choo Kiang.

A total of 3,800 hectares of land is being used to grow durians here.


Bernama/FreshPlaza.com: Fruit prices up five per cent in Penang

The prices of fruits, especially durian, have gone up by five per cent in Penang following the recent rise in fuel prices, State Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Rural Development and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Law Choo Kiang said today.

"Durian growers are facing a high cost of production inputs, such as more expensive fertiliser and equipment, as well as higher transportation costs. The rise in prices cannot be contained as durian is not a controlled item," he told reporters after launching a programme against durian blight and pests at the Balik Pulau Sports Complex here.

However, he said, the higher price of the fruit did not affect sales as demand was still high. Law urged fruit farmers in the state to use the available technology to step up their competitiveness.

State Agriculture Director Abdul Nasir Hassan said the durian harvest for this season was lower than the previous season, around 6,000 tonnes compared to 7,000 tonnes due to climatic conditions.
More durian eating sightings available at ShahsRamblings's blog site.

Going Bananas: Program Komuniti USM Untuk Pembangunan Penduduk Balik Pulau

T.Y.T. Tun Dato’ Seri Utama (Dr.) Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Abbas akan merasmikan Projek Kemasyarakatan Universiti Sains Malaysia/Koperasi Usaha Kampung Balik Pulau (KUKAM) tersebut pada hari Ahad, 29 Jun 2008 di Kampung Perlis, Balik Pulau.

Program ini yang bermula sejak tahun lalu bertujuan untuk membawa hasil penyelidikan USM kepada masyarakat dalam bentuk yang mampu dikomersilkan dan memberi nilai tambah kepada ribuan penduduk di sekitar kawasan Balik Pulau. Menerusi program ini, USM turut sama membina sebuah makmal dan bengkel bagi pembuatan kertas dari batang pisang, kurtur tisu dan pembuatan makanan.

Untuk maklumat yang lebih lanjut bolehlah menghubungi Izam Fairus Kamaruddin.

New Syariah Lower Court Coming...

Another landmark for Balik Pulau is just weeks away from completion, situated across the street from the big Masjid al-Mukhtaar: Mahkamah Rendah Syariah for Penang's Southwest District...


A construction project started as early as late 2006, and more actively beginning late 2007.



This district mosque itself is only a few years old, and had been recently renovated to include khat-decorated wall in the praying area and several recreational huts on its frontyard.

And next to the Islamic mosque is the district library that only opens five days a week from morning until 6pm, Wednesday until Sunday (closed on Monday and Tuesday):

I'd wish that this library be opened on evening hours too so people can do light reading at night instead of being forced to resort only to lame DVDs and TV programmes. BTW, I wonder if there's any 24-hour libraries in Penang, or the whole Malaysia... and if not, why not?? Not much of a reading society are we?

And the new market again: bunch more photos of the facility can be found at SamYeap.com.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Eyes in the Sky are coming to Balik Pulau

RM4-million is being budgeted to bring 24 cameras to Balik Pulau/southwest district of Penang including six in Bayan Lepas area:

Council to install 24 CCTVs in district

By TAN SIN CHOW

TWENTY-FOUR closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras will be installed at the south-west district areas and Bayan Lepas free industrial zones (FIZ) as a move to increase surveillance on traffic flow and combat crime.

Penang Municipal Council president Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman said the Housing and Local Government Ministry had agreed to fund the project at an estimated cost of RM4mil.

He said the council and police have consulted each other on where to place the cameras.

Six cameras will be placed at Bayan Lepas FIZ while the rest will be installed at strategic locations in Balik Pulau.

“We submitted our proposal early this year and the ministry gave us the green light two months ago.

“The ministry has yet to decide on the date of installation,” he said over a telephone interview.

...


Hmm, that's RM 166,666.65 (rounded) per camera! Quite a large sum if you'd as me. I wonder which company is getting the big money....

Though, I'd be okay if installation of those mega expensive cameras (can buy four Proton BLMs per camera) also comes with wifi access points providing free broadband internet for nearby residents/businesses!


And would it be okay to ask that the public get access to the camera views as well? After all, for the big cost off people's coffers (via the Housing and Local Government Ministry) on setting up those cameras, it'd be good if people can make use of them too, for instance, to decide on which road to take to commute between Balik Pulau and towns elsewhere, either through Bukit Genting, Jalan Tun Sardon or Teluk Bahang. And crowdsourcing crime prevention might work too, as it has work various other localities around the world.

Read the rest of the article at the Star (17 JUNE 08)...

Oya, for motorcyclists forgetting to wear helmet or carrying more than two persons, WATCH OUT!! You're on cops' cameras...

Hospital Balik Pulau Kurang Berkualiti...

Kalaulah yang menjadi ukuran untuk ujian mutu tersebut didasarkan kepada "objektif kualiti" yang ditampalkan sendiri di kaunter pendaftaran pusat perubataan milik kerajaan ini, sebuah institusi yang gah di Balik Pulau ini selama berpuluh-puluh tahun lamanya - khususnya berkaitan dengan jaminan masa penyampaian perkhidmatan!

Kelmarin merupakan kali pertama saya berkunjung ke hospital tersebut dalam tahun-tahun kebelakangan ini (walaupun saya pernah mengunjunginya secara agak kerap lebih kurang dua dekad yang lalu semasa bersekolah di Maktab Rendah Sains MARA Jalan Pondok Upeh yang bersejarah - yang mana sekolah tersebut akan menyambut ulangtahun ke-25/Jubli Peraknya tahun ini). Pengalaman mengunjungi beberapa hospital dan klinik kerajaan lain di Pulau Pinang, walaupun tidaklah sesempurna yang diharapkan (kedapatan doktor-doktor yang rela membiarkan pesakit menunggu lebih lama sedangkan mereka cukup terluang untuk bersembang kosong dan sebagainya) tapi tetap mampu menyempurnakkan perkhidmatan dalam masa kurang daripada sejam seluruhnya, meyakinkan saya keupayaan Hospital Balik Pulau yang sewajarnya lebih kurang pengunjung berbanding dengan di bandar-bandar lain yang lebih sibuk seperti Ayer Itam, Bayan Baru dan Georgetown.

"Kurang dari(pada) 60 minit (selepas proses pendaftaran)", kata Objektif Kualiti tersebut. Saya sampai ke hospital dan menyerahkan MyKad kepada pegawai bertugas pada jam lebih kurang 8.45 pagi. Kedapatan ramai pesakit luar lain yang lebih awal menunggu, tapi saya agak senang hati yakin akan tetap akan mendapatkan perkhidmatan dalam masa yang "boleh tahan". 30 minit berlalu, beberapa pesakit mundar-mandir pelik nama masih tak terpanggil. Saya lihat keliling, tv tak dibuka, majalah atau suratkhabar tak ada, boring! Beberapa pesakit sudah mula berkata, "dah lebih sejam tunggu ni!" Kalih ke belakang, beberapa pelajar sekolah menengah dah terlentok kerana letih menunggu. Panggilan nama yang tak jelas kedengaran seperti nama saya hingga saya ke kaunter bertanya tapi nyata bukan nama saya - atau saya sudah mula mengigau. 9.45 pagi, baru nama saya dilaungkan dan akhirnya saya dapat nombor untuk lebih tepat menganggarkan jangka tunggu. 60 minit hanya untuk pendaftaran -- dan sepanjang masa tersebut, tanpa nombor, mykad jadi 'tawanan' dan tanpa apa-apa! Siapa sangka pendaftaran mudah boleh mengambil masa Malangnya, nampaknya tiada pula jaminan mutu untuk proses pendaftaran -- kalau ada tertulis "Kurang daripada 60 minit untuk pendaftaran", agaknya ada pesakit-pesakit yang berubah hati dan terus ke klinik swasta sebelum menyerahkan MyKad mereka.

Hmm, slip nombor yang diberi kepada saya mempunyai tanda waktu 08:49 - agaknya pekerja di kaunter pendaftaran masih ingat masih belum sampai jam 9 pagi! "#57" pastinya lama lagi memandangkan nombor sekarang baru "#12". Hmm, apa jadi dengan puluhan pesakit-pesakit sebelum ini, nombor negatif, atau nombor 9900+? Apa pun, saya kira pasti lama lagi justeru saya keluar membeli akhbar dan air minum (kedua-duanya tidak disediakan di perkarangan menunggu pesakit luar). Sesampai kembali, nombor-nombor yang dinaikkan ke panel LCD kelihatan melompat-lompat, kejap #40, kejap #50, kejap #60, kejap turun balik ke #47 dan sebagainya yang lebih memeningkan saya yang sudahpun pening kepala kerana demam selsema! Adakah nombor bertuah #57 saya sudahpun dipanggil, atau belum?

40 minit berlalu, akhirnya nombor saya kelihatan di panel dan saya diarah ke bilik #6. Masa berlalu begitu pantas. Sekurang-kurangnya penantian kali ini tak sampai sejam lamanya. Jam betul menunjukkan 10.30 pagi, tapi mungkin doktor yang memeriksa saya mendasarkan waktu perkhidmatan dengan slip pendaftaran, menulis waktu perkhidmatan sebagai bermula jam 9.47 pagi dan berakhir jam 9:30pagi ! Back to the FUTURE!!

Masa untuk ke Farmasi dan kali ini, barisan menunggu tak panjang, dan nombor siri yang diberikan agak tepat, bernombor #1090 (nombor dilayan #1077) pada jam 10.37 pagi. Hanya 13 orang di hadapan saya. Saya menarik nafas lega. 20 minit kemudian selepas pemanggilan bersiri yang tepat, saya menerima ubat-ubatan yang dipreskripsikan doktor.

Tempoh mendaftar: 60 minit
Tempoh menunggu konsultasi: 40-minit
Tempoh konsultasi: 2 minit
Tempoh menunggu layanan farmasi: 20-minit
Tempoh mendapatkan ubat: 1 minit

Tempoh lawatan keseluruhan:
> 120 minit!

(walaupun tiada kecemasan seperti pelajar-pelajar sekolah keracunan makanan, kemalangan ngeri, tsunami atau banjir mengejut dsbnya.)

Apa nak buat, kalau nak cepat, pergi klinik swasta lah, kan? Tapi saya pun nak berjimat juga walau sedikit memandangkan kos petrol saya dah naik 40% dan tak satupun daripada empat kenderaan dalam 'household' saya layak untuk rebat sehingga awal tahun depan... Lagipun, sebagai pembayar cukai yang pelbagai, nak juga merasakan khidmat awam dari pihak kerajaan. Bak kata orang, belum rasa belum tahu!


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Balik Pulau on Wiki

The single paragraph on "Balik Pulau" at the biggest (online) encyclopaedia on earth - WikiPedia has grown into six paragraphs today, yay!:
"Balik Pulau (literally meaning back of the island) is a town in Penang, Malaysia. Durians and other kinds of fruits are planted there. Balik Pulau is famous for its durian plantations which include the 'ang heh' (meaning red prawns) and 'holo' (meaning gourd like) variety. The area was affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Balik Pulau is also one of the thirteen parliamentary constituencies in Penang, possibly the largest in land size, stretching about half of Penang Island, from Batu Feringhi (famous for modern resorts and beaches) at its north to Teluk Kumbar (traditionally a fishing village but now a booming town close to Bayan Lepas) at its south. Its current Member of Parliament (MP) is YB Yusmadi Yusoff from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), having won his March 2008 general election bid, a historic win for a member of an opposition party, as well as for several other parliamentary constituencies and state governmentship of Penang that also surprising fell to opposition power. All three Members of State Legislative Assembly (ADUN) for Balik Pulau regions of Bayan Lepas, Pulau Betong and Teluk Bahang however continued to be held by members of the National Front (BN) coalition party. Chief advisor of PKR, the controversial Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim who is currently seeking a comeback into Malaysia's political scene had also hinted in February 2008 that he may contest in Balik Pulau in a possible re-election in May 2008, which he however did not as of June 2008.

Modern Balik Pulau is a self-sufficient township, serving the greater Southwest District (Daerah Barat Daya), one of the five districts in the state of Penang with basic municipal facilities including a hospital, a police headquarters, a fire station, a post office (postcode: 11000), a TNB power station, a TM telecommunications station, a PBA water authority office, a district judicial court, an Islamic Syariah court, a district land office, a government-owned Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN), a sports complex, a bus station and a new big wet market complex and food court (opened in December 2007 to replace the much smaller older market located less than 500 metres away), all within a 5-minute driving distance from its three-junction town centre (an subtown area called "Kongsi").

Balik Pulau is also home to several schools and higher learning institutions. Among the secondary schools located around Balik Pulau are SK Kongsi, SK Balik Pulau, SK Genting, SK Pulau Betong and Maktab Rendah Sains MARA (MRSM). Its higher learning institutions include Kolej Kemahiran MARA (KKM), Kolej Teknologi Pulau (KTP) and there is also a Tourism University being developed near its western coast of Pantai Acheh.

Commerce-wise, the town has several major banks (Ambank, Maybank and CIMB), many restaurants including at least three Indian-Muslim Nasi Kandar outlets operating around the clock (24x7: one at Kongsi (Bharvin), one at Taman Indah (Habeeb Mohamed) and another (Bharvin) at Simpang Empat), a 24-hour convenience shop (7-eleven), at least three petrol stations (two Petronas and one Shell), several clinics and various types of shops supporting its local residents numbering around 50,000 (or 38,610 qualified voters as of March 2008), many of whom however commute daily to towns like Ayer Itam, Georgetown and Bayan Lepas to work. Broadband Internet connectivity is available from TMNET (DSL), and all major mobile providers (3G and GPRS Edge).

Besides great food and breathtaking sightings (from the three major roads connecting the town to other parts of the island), another attraction for visitors include its remote beaches at Pantai Pasir Panjang at its south and Pantai Kerechut at its north, two rather clean and normally quite beaches. Pantai Pasir Panjang which is located near the tiny Pulau Betong island, had witness the terrible tsunami that happened in 2004. The beach also hosts the White Resort Camp, which is the National Service Training Centre ("Pusat Latihan Khidmat Negara (PLKN)") for selected secondary school graduates."

Wanna help me expand and improve it into a more useful piece? Handle this editing priviledge with care...

We need some decent translation into Bahasa Melayu too, which is only about three short paragraphs at the moment:

Balik Pulau merupakan sebuah bandar yang terletak di Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. Durian dan buah pala ditanam di kawasan ini. Balik Pulau terkenal dengan penanaman durian. Kawasan ini juga menerima kesan daripada kejadian Gempa bumi 26 Disember 2004. Terdapat beberapa sekolah rendah di Balik Pulau termasuk Sekolah Rendah Chong Teik.

Balik Pulau juga terkenal sebagai "The Village Behind The Island". Ini kerana ia juga merupakan namanya jika diterjemahkan dalam bahasa Inggeris. Terdapat beberapa sekolah menengah dan sekolah rendah di Balik Pulau. Ini termasuk SK Kongsi, SK Balik Pulau, SK Genting, SK Pulau Betong, dan sebagainya.

Terdapat satu lokasi yang sama taraf kepopularannya dengan durian iaitu Pantai Pasir Panjang. Pantai ini menerima tempias ombak tsunami pada 2004. White Resort iaitu sebuah kem Pusat Latihan Khidmat Negara turut terdapat di sini. Resort ini menjadi pusat latihan kepada pelajar selepas menamatkan alam persekolahan.


With regards to where Balik Pulau is located at and how big the area is (per elaboration in the Wikipedia article), Barisan Nasional Pulau Pinang has posted a nice electoral map for the entire state of Penang - you won't missed the left-most/west-most region in brown color:


It's worth noting too that since my first article written over a year ago, the number of online resources on this little town of ours has also grown significantly to more than double at 115,000 webpages based on Google Search and over 300,000 webpages using Yahoo! Search. The number of images or videos seems to have not grown at all though -- we need more sharings of local productions! (There has got to be a lot more than 700 photos capturing this beautiful town of over 50,000 residents)

Don't know where to upload? Try some of these free services:-
  1. Google PicasaWeb
  2. Yahoo! Flickr
  3. YouTube (for video)
  4. SlideShare.net (for presentations)
  5. Facebook (everything while networking, socially)
When uploading, be sure to tag your media with "balikpulau" or "balik pulau"!

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