Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jamming studio spreads its wings

RASHDAN Entertainment Groups (REG), a popular jamming studio in Mukah, has spread its wings to Bintulu.

Registered on March 16, 2004, it has been encouraging youths to use their time wisely and develop their talents, especially in music.

REG is not new to some music fans in Bintulu as it had opened a jamming studio in Medan Jaya back in 2005.

According to founder-owner Zabidin Zamhari, 42, the new studio will concentrate solely on recording service.

“This is a new business, especially for Bintulu, but even with a challenging market, I still believe the venture is worth it,” said the father of five from Balingian, Mukah.

REG recording studio became “fully operational” in Bintulu in 2009 in a building at the back of Zabidin’s house in Kampung Jabai. He was assisted by Rosman Mohamad Tahir as producer.

Zabidin set up the studio at the request of friends, mostly among the indi-bands who wanted to record their songs.

“Before this, there was no place for them. They had to go to Kuching and it was quite expensive. So I thought why not give it a shot,” he recalled.

He said unlike other recording studios that charged a high service fee, REG tried not to over-burden customers who are mostly youths.

“I didn’t venture into this business just for the profit. I feel I have the social responsibility to help the youths spend their time wisely and develop their musical talents.”

The fully digital studio charges only RM80 per hour. Usually, two or three songs can be recorded in that time. And according to Zabidin, who is also the manager, it’s still comparatively much cheaper.

He has invested about RM80,000 in the business and assured there will be no compromise on quality.

“With the latest instruments and a knowledgeable staff, we strive to give our customers the best,” he assured.

So far, REG has recorded several songs for five local bands and its most recent recording was for a Bintulu Maksak choir.

“REG is only responsible for the recording and will not get involved in any kind of distribution. After the recording, the bands do the rest — promotion, selling demos and things like that,” Zabidin said.

Public response so far is average.

“Our studio is still new — people have yet to know about it after we closed the jamming studio in Medan Jaya. There is also no promotion. We cannot expect too much. Our music industry is not as big as the peninsula’s,” he noted.

REG owns two bands — Skool of Ska with seven members which is more to reggae genre, and Teshu with five members. According to Rosman, the bands have produced their own demos and are also active in stage performances.

On REG’s future, Zabidin, who is the manager, said it would organise a mini gig for local indi-bands, and produce a compilation of songs probably after Hari Raya.

“The mini gig will be the best opportunity for the bands to promote and sell their products. “I hope it will also encourage them to keep a healthy lifestyle.

“They can delve into music more seriously by producing their own songs. From there, you can see how the youngsters develop their creativity. So far, several bands have been identified.”

Zabidin who studied mechanical technology at a private college in Kuala Lumpur, also shared an interesting aspect on the origin of REG.

“R stands for Rashdan, my late younger brother who also loved music — in fact, he was more passionate about it. He had dreamed of setting up his own recording studio. So REG is a tribute to `him.”

REG in Mukah has been active in various activities and one of its regular events is ‘Battle of the Band’ held every Pesta Kaul.

The studio co-organised Lord of the Band in 2005 and Rexona Band Quest in 2007 with Hoc Star Entertainment.

REG Bintulu now has over 20 members.

REG can be contacted at:-

Zabidin – 0138416413
Rosman - 0198547310
Facebook: - R.E.G studio
Email- unp@tm.net.my
REG studio address - No 329, Jln Tg Batu, Kpg Jabai 97000 Bintulu Sarawak.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bakun Lake holds vast potential for fish culture

VIABLE market, social equity and environmental awareness are among the key factors to consider before fish culture in the 70,000 sq km Bakun Lake - about the size of Singapore - can be successfully implemented.

CIRAD (French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development) unit leader Dr Jerome Lazard made this observation in an interview after his recent trip to the lake site, some 60km west of Belaga in the central region.

Accompanying him were Lirong Yu Abit, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) assistant technical researcher, and Stephen Sia, general manager of Wargana Consortium Sdn Bhd, contractor of the fish farming project at Bakun.

Dr Lazard, who is adviser to Wargana, had led a team of UPM researchers on an initial study of the lake, and they found the environment and the water temperature suitable for tilapia farming.

He said from their data on water quality and fish species, it is feasible to carry out fish culture there.

“Many people would be asking why we have opted for tilapia and not other indigenous fish in the area. This is because tilapia is among the easiest and most profitable fish to farm. It’s quite popular and, most importantly, has a huge international market.”

Dr Lazard said during his recent visit to Kuching, he had met with Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu on Bakun aquaculture development.

According to him, Jabu, who also holds the portfolios for Infrastructure Development and Communications, and Rural Development, is eager to know more about the progress of the fish farming project under Wargana and has expressed support for the development of fish culture at Bakun.

“The minister recognises the big challenge is generating continuous economic activities in the area, particularly through aquaculture.”

Dr Lazard said looking at global supply of wild fish stock, tilapia was the second group, after carp, being cultivated on huge scale with production reaching about 2.5 million metric tonnes a year. Salmon is third.

“Just imagine how big the demand is for tilapia in the world market. To fully tap Bakun’s economic potential, this is something worth considering.”

He also noted the insufficient fish supply to the local market due to low fish culture production by locals.

“This is where they have to start thinking about commercially viable products that are acceptable to both local and international markets. Indigenous fish would probably be acceptable only in Malaysia.

“Besides, local species are not fully ready yet. More research is needed on their artificial breeding, nutritional requirements and culture strategies.”

Another criterion is social equity. Dr Lazard said fish farming should not only benefit the big players but must also involve all levels — small, medium and large — of the industry.

He is hopeful the project at Bakun can benefit some 15,000 people in the area, especially with sizeable private sector investments.

“For the project to be sustainable, the key factors are involvement of the local population and training for them.”

After several visits to the ponds in Asap and Batang Ai, Dr Lazard realised the need to upgrade the technical level of the fish farming sector in the state to ensure competitiveness in the global market.

“This is a must otherwise small-scale operators will not survive. I hope training can start soon and the training centre must be close to the lake.”

On environmental issues, he said one of the state government’s requirements was implementation of project with minimum negative impact on the surroundings.

According to him, this is vital not only for success of the project in the short term but also for its long-term operation to improve the socio-economic status of the local population.

“Therefore, it’s important to take water samples from the lake regularly to prevent ‘eutrophic’ water that causes poor water quality. This is to safeguard production.”

On rearing tilapia, Dr Lazard assured it is environmentally safe, saying since the species had been introduced to tropical countries, its biology and farming techniques were much easier to understand and learn in contrast to other indigenous species whose suitability for commercial aquaculture needed more R&D (research and development).

“UPM is drawing up a list of indigenous species for further research,” he added.

Dr Lazard also said the environment around Bakun Lake would change dramatically after the hydroelectric dam was closed, so there must be continuous research on the fauna as some species might vanish while some might evolve.

Among the indigenous species with good market price are labang (pangarius hiewen-husii), empurau (tor tambroides), semah (tor duoronensis), baung (mystus baramensis), tengadak (puntius swcanenfeldii) and mengalan/tengalan (puntis bulu).

“However, these species are not yet familiar to markets outside Malaysia. They have to be promoted to maximise their market potential. Also, they have to be tested first before they could be commercialised. In future, we will try to produce new species for the market,” he pointed out.

Dr Lazard said tilapia could be sold when they reached 500gm. The biggest specimen was recorded in Africa at 4.5kg but he believes the fish could grow up to 5kg.

He hoped the state government would continue to facilitate R&D on fish culture in the state, suggesting that subsidies or credit be extended to small-scale fish farmers or operators.

He proposed training to upgrade the skills of these people so that they could improve their productivity and the quality of their products.

Dr Lazard said adequate support was important to the success of a fish farming venture.“There is a need for reliable supply of fry, feeds and other essentials to the operators to ensure consistent flow of products to the market.”

He said locals into fish farming could do their bit by setting up ponds and processing their own feeds but first, they had to be trained and exposed to the business.

Dr Lazard hoped tilapia farming would become a cornerstone for commercial fisheries in state to benefit especially the people at Bakun.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Resident in step with dance festival

BINTULU Resident Ismail Mohd Hanis has praised the Bintulu office (cultural section) of the Social Development and Urbanisation Ministry for continuing to organise dance festivals for primary and seconddary schools in the division.

He said such events were very important in promoting healthy life-styles, especially among the youths.

“Besides being a part of our culture, dancing is an art to be preserved and strengthened from time to time. Creativity and innovation can be fostered through this activity which is good for the young generation,” Ismail said recently at the opening of the Dance Festival for Primary and Secondary Schools in Bintulu Division.

He said since becoming Bintulu Resident last year, this was the first time he had witnessed ‘such a wonderful and amazing event’.

He was especially impressed by the enthusiasm shown by the young participants.

“I was really glad to have been part of this event. In terms of standard, it seemed like I was attending a state-level competition,” he added.

Ismail hoped the ministry would continue organising the event to further improve standards and attract more youths.
He also hoped the community, especially parents, would encourage their children to take up a healthy activity such as dancing.

“The doors of the Resident’s Office are always open should you need any help from us,” said Ismail who was pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming public response to the festival at the civic centre.

Nine primary and seven secondary schools in the division took part.

Among those present were the Social Development and Urbanis-ation Ministry (Bintulu office) officer in-charge Jacqualine Richard Lee, principals, headmasters, headmistresses and community leaders.

The competition was divided into two categories — primary and se-condary schools. There was also one individual contemporary dance competition for senior dancers from Sri Budaya Bintulu troupe.

According to its choreographer and programme coordinator, Tuah Jili, this side contest was to give his senior dancers the opportunity to come up with their own ideas, creativity and innovation to make their dances more attractive.

He said this year, there was one clear change whereby the jury would give their comments after the participants had completed their routines.

This approach provided the participants with immediate feedback, enabling them to know their strengths and weaknesses on the spot, he added.

“This is important for them to become better dancers,” Tuah said. Ismail and Jacqualine gave away the prizes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sky’s the limit for young pilots

FIRST BATCH: Adam (right), Amira (third right) and the other young pilots at the convocation.

SIXTEEN young pilots have graduated with flying colours from the Gulf Golden International Flying Academy (GGIFA) International College of Aviation, Bintulu.

They received their licence at the College’s inaugural convocation on Dec 8 at BDA Auditorium after completing their course for commercial pilot licence (CPL) and instrument rating (IR) with Frozen Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).

They are now qualified to work for commercial airline companies in the country.

Adam Gumis, 20, was one of the pilots who received the Best Overall Performance Award (Kenyalang Award).

He said the cadets were given the best accommodation and treatment by the college throughout their studies.

“You feel like you’re actually at home. You have a foster family here and Datuk (Morshidi Abdul Rahman) and Datin (Joanna Lim Abdullah) take very good care of you,” Adam told thesundaypost after receiving the award. He was accompanied by his parents.

Adam said they had to work very hard to to complete their studies.

“I knew I had to slog to achieve my dream which is to be an airline pilot,” he added.

Adam’s father Gabriel Gumis, 53, said he was very proud of his son’s achievement, adding that the Bidayuh community also felt proud because “it is rare to have a Bidayuh pilot.”

Gumis believes his son will have a good future in the airline industry and most probably join local airline companies like Malaysia Airlines (MAS) or AirAsia.

To parents, who want to send their children to the Aviation College, Gumis said: “Young people have their own dreams. Let them achieve their dreams as long as they are good for them.”

He thanked the college management for looking after Adam and Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) for giving him a study loan.

“Parents shouldn’t worry if their children face financial problems when applying to study at the Aviation College. They can get study loans more easily now,” he said.

Gumis has five children — the first is a lawyer, the second (Adam), a pilot and the third is studying medicine.

For Amira Nuria Anuar of Kuching, one of the female pilots who graduated from the College, it is a great challenge for a woman to compete with the male cadets.

However, she said the challenge could be overcome if the female students proved they were just as good if not better, than their male counterparts.

“It’s been over two years that I studied at the college. I have always wanted to be a pilot,” she added.

Her interest in becoming a pilot was kindled when she heard there were no female pilots in the country.

On the biggest challenge she had to overcome while studying at the College, she believed it was the ATPL ground paper called CAA6 and CAA2.

“I think everyone agrees it’s hard,” she said.

Amira logged165 flying hours in a single-engine aircraft and 35 flying hours in a twin-engine aircraft to meet the requirements for completing the course.

She flew in a single-engine aircraft to Mukah, Sibu and Miri.

Meanwhile, GGIFA executive chairman Datuk Morshidi Abdul Rahman said they were entering the third year of operation and this was the first graduation ceremony for the college’s first and second batches of graduates.

“They have gone through tough training to qualify as commercial pilots as well as air transport licence holders and believe me, it hasn’t been easy,” he added.

Morshidi said the young pilots had gone through hard training and flown many hours through good and bad weather, tears and fears and laughter and anxiety.

“But above all, most came as young boys and girls and we have groomed them into disciplined and responsible adults,” he said, adding that these young pilots would be flying with high discipline, self-esteem and confidence.

“We, as owner of the college, together with the staff and instructors have grown with them, trying to understand these young minds full of ideas and rebellious spirits.

“Yet today, we have, through the commitment of our instructors, mostly former air force officers and airline pilots, moulded the young cadets into pilots ready to take to the sky with confidence and dedication,” he added.

The instructors, Morshidi said, had even taken the “slow cadets,” under their wings, especially in the flying stages, to ensure that they improved and graduated at the end of the course.

He thanked the hangar boys who sweated in the hot sun to make the aircraft safe for flying.

“We are also appealing to banks like Bank Rakyat to give study loans to help young potential cadets pursue a career as a pilot. We do not foresee any problem for them to pay back their loans.”

To the graduating pilots, he said: “I’m sure one day when they grow older, they will look back and realise that all the tough training they had at the college was for their own good.”