Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fiery Red on Lush Green

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Two years on and still shooting

Monday, January 25, 2010

300 partake in bicyclethon to mark World Habitat Day

Participants of all age taking part in a bicyclethon organised by the Housing Development Department, Ministry of Development to mark World Habitat Day yesterday.

SOME 300 cyclists took to the street yesterday in a bicyclethon, an outdoor activity which was organised by the Housing Development Department of the Ministry of Development to mark World Habitat Day.

Cyclists at the department's parking area as early as 7am and began with a light aerobic exercise.

Minister of Development Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdullah Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, who was among the participants, started off the event which took cyclists along the 44km route, starting at the headquarters.

Traffic gave way to the storm of cyclists as they made their way, passing through four checkpoints at Kg Jangsak, Jalan Jerudong, Tungku Beach and Tungku Link Highway, before finally reaching the finish line at the headquarters. The bicyclethon took roughly two hours.

Open to all cycling enthusiasts in the country, the event was held to enhance the harmony, cooperation and unity among officers. It also aimed to create awareness on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.

Safety was a priority in the bicyclethon as the cyclists were escorted by police motorcycles through the streets, accompanied by safety vehicles.

Development Minister Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdullah (in red shirt) joins 300 other cyclists in a bicyclethon to mark World Habitat Day

Monday, January 11, 2010

Laser eye surgery to be available in Brunei

THOSE seeking to correct short-sightedness completely will soon no longer need to travel overseas for laser vision correction as the necessary equipment of such procedure will be available in the Sultanate.

Optimax, a Malaysian eye specialist company, will soon be bringing its state-of-the-art equipment for laser refractive surgery to Brunei. The breakthrough All-Laser-Lasik (Laser Assisted In situ Keratomileusis) technology uses a high-precision Femtosecond Laser to treat common 'refractive errors' such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and astigmatism.

"With the arrival of these machines, Bruneians no longer need to travel overseas for cosmetic eye surgery, which for many years, Bruneians had to travel to Malaysia to have their eyesight corrected," said Farris Hj Abdul Rahman, managing director of Optimax (Brunei Branch).

"Bringing the machines down here may be an expensive process, but will greatly benefit Bruneians in the long run as it is more convenient and cost-effective for patients to be treated locally," he told The Brunei Times.

Farris said that arrangements to bring the technology into Brunei is under way as legal procedures have to be carried out in order to operate the service in hospitals in the Sultanate.

He hoped that the implementation of the equipment will be available in the region sometime in the middle of the year.

During a public education seminar organised by Optimax Brunei yesterday, guests were presented with a basic understanding on modern refractive eye surgeries delivered by a guest speaker from Malaysia, Dr Norazlina Bachik, resident ophthalmologists for Optimax Shah Alam Branch and laser vision correction expert.

"The goal of any refractive surgical procedure is to reduce your dependence on corrective lenses. The overwhelming majority of patients who have had laser refractive surgery with Optimax over the years are fully satisfied with their results," said Dr Norazlina.

"Lasik is widely considered as the procedure of choice for correction of most cases of myopia (short-sightedness). Our 'All-Laser-Lasik' procedure uses a highly precise laser, the Femtosecond Laser which precisely delivers the laser energy directly to the outer surface of the eye."

She said that safety is the most valuable advantage of All-Laser-Lasik and the main reason why Optimax invested in this expensive technology.

"This procedure is completely blade-free, unlike the conventional alternatives. With the accuracy and safety checks offered by Femtosecond laser, major complications do not occur and surgeons can avoid the complications related to surgical blade problems."

"By having the technology here in Brunei, we are giving Bruneians the treatment options that have been available in the world closer to them, and freeing our patients suffering from refractive errors from glasses and contact lenses once and for all," she said.

Feeling strongly about contributing her expertise to the advancement of laser vision correction, Dr Norazlina serves as a part-time lecturer in Ophthalmology in the Medical Faculty of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. She also has special interest in the subspecialty of cornea and refractive surgery and has performed more than 5,000 laser vision corrections and 3,000 cataract procedures.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What's This?

Witness the unveiling of a technological breakthrough February 9, only at Macworld.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

RBA apprentice engineers graduate with flying colours

Tan Siow Phing (L), RBA's Executive Vice President of Engineering, presenting a certificate to one of the recipients, Md Nizar Hj Noordin, at a ceremony at the Royal Brunei Recreational Club.

EIGHTEEN apprentices of the Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) engineering scheme received their certificates after completing their training, during a ceremony held at the Royal Brunei Recreation Club, yesterday.

The recipients were the 25th intake of Engineers from Air Service Training (AST) in Perth, Scotland and the locally trained B2 Avionics engineers who have just completed the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Part 66 course.

"Of the 18 graduates here, six are from Intake 25 of our Engineering Apprenticeship Scheme trained at the Air Service Training in Perth, Scotland; three of them are B1 engineers and three more are B2 engineers," said Tan Siow Phing, Executive Vice President of Engineering, RBA.

"The other 12 recipients are B2 trainees who are locally trained by Lufthansa Technic together with four MH mechanics. They are selected based on their experience, knowledge and work performance," he added.

"We are proud to say that we have achieved 100 per cent success in both programmes. RBA will benefit greatly from this achievement because in a nutshell, B1 engineers are responsible for taking care of the aircraft airframe, engine and electrical while B2 engineers manage the aircraft Avionics system," he added.

The event also saw the signing of an agreement between RBA and the Scholarship Section of the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the outstanding trainees from Intake 25, Mohd Alif Iftitah Morzuki and Dk Zanatul Iman Pg Jeffery.

"This is the first of such scheme where His Majesty's Government, through the Scholarship Section offers our outstanding trainees a chance to continue their studies to do a Bachelor of Engineering in aircraft maintenance. Their endeavours have offered young Bruneians a chance to build a career in the aviation industry which is in line with RBA's goal towards localisation," added Tan.

Present to witness the signing of the scholarship agreement and the certificate presentation ceremony was the ministry's Assistant Director of Scholarship, Hj Azis Hj Nayan.

One of the new graduates, Md Nizar Hj Noordin, told The Brunei Times that learning the technical aspects in ensuring the safety of an aircraft was a great challenge.

"The challenge of the technical work is always changing, so there's no denying that we will certainly face new challenges everyday," added Md Nizar.

"But one of the most important lessons learned from the course was that teamwork can help to overcome any difficulties," he added.

Another graduate, Dk Nordianah Pg Omarali said that she would be pursuing a degree in engineering as soon as she completed her current course, hoping for a better position in her career with RBA.

"You have to be humble in this line of work as there is no such thing as knowing everything. New challenges have to be faced every single day. In addition, it is even more challenging being one of the few female engineers, where you get tested further to see whether female engineers could do as good as their male counterparts," said the 21-year-old.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Expert hails HoB lead to curb degradation

BRUNEI'S Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative have spared lowland trees from further degradation which has already occurred in some parts of Borneo due to climate change caused by years of human activities.

This was indicated in a research by Ferry Slik, Associate Professor at the Key Lab in Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Gardens (XTBG), Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), Yunnan, China which he represented during the second day of the Asem (Asia Europe Meeting) Workshop 2010 held at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), yesterday.

During the session, which primarily discussed on Biodiversity, Forest Ecosystem and Functions, Slik presented his research on Borneo-wide modelling of tree diversity, composition and biomass and their indication on possible climate change which impacts on tropical forests.

"We still have limited knowledge of how global climate change may affect tropical forests around the world, even though this information is crucial for designing conservation strategies that can counter some of its possibly negative impacts."

Slik's research is focused on tree species diversity and distribution patterns in relation to environmental variables in lowland rain forests of Borneo and Southeast Asia.

This includes investigating the amount of forest structural damage caused by drought, fire and logging and their effects on tree species diversity and composition, as well as species-habitat associations in old growth forests.

Slik has build up a large database of plant morphological traits, which in combination with a GIS environmental and tree species inventory database can be used to study floristic, diversity and plant functional traits in relation to the environment.

"One way of predicting possible impacts of future climate change on tropical forest biomass, tree diversity and composition is by determining the influence of current climate gradients on these forest properties."

He said that once these relationships are known they can be superimposed on maps containing modelled future climate scenarios to determine if and how forest biomass, tree diversity and composition will change in a spatial context. This in turn can be used for better spatial planning of conservation efforts for tropical forests.

In his study, Slik and his team used a large data of old-growth forest tree inventories from across Borneo and related their biomass, tree diversity and composition to eleven environmental variables including several climate related ones such as annual rainfall, rainfall seasonability, temperature seasonability, temperature annual range, drought stress and elevation (which is a proxy for yearly average temperature).

During his presentation, Slik related his findings to expected climate change models for Southeast Asia.

"Our results show that forest biomass, tree diversity and composition are all significantly but differentially correlated with climate variables. This means that future climate change will affect these forest properties in sometimes contrasting ways."

"It is likely that tropical forests will show changes in structure, composition and diversity over the next 100 years that are related to changing atmospheric conditions."

Tropical forests in Borneo are likely to show changes in structure, composition and diversity related to changing atmospheric conditions.

He went on to say that it is also likely that these changes will differ considerably between the main tropical forest regions due to regional differences in climate change.

"Models for Borneo seem to indicate increasing tree alpha-diversity due to increasing temperature, considerable shifts in tree species distribution due to changing temperature (elevational shifts) and changes in temperature and rainfall seasonality, and increasing biomass due to increasing rainfall."

"So the main question is not 'will tropical forests change due to climate change', but 'can tropical forest adapt to climate change given the time scale involved, existing land use patterns, forest fragmentation levels and tree dispersal capabilities?"'

Brunei is among the remaining countries that still has a lot of lowland forests, which is reasonably good. However, Brunei is surrounded by Malaysia where a lot of forest degradation and fragmentation has already happened, so if species need to migrate, they probably need to migrate to higher elevations.

"If the area surrounding Brunei is deforested, that's going to be a major problem for the species because there is nowhere for them to move."

"I think it's good that Brunei is in the Heart of Borneo initiative because Brunei has rich lowland forests still untouched.

"The most diverse and interesting but also threatened forests are the lowland forest, which is mostly outside the Heart of Borneo. At least some part of lowland forests get preserved."

Slik who obtained his PhD at the National Herbarium of the Netherlands, Leiden University, The Netherlands. is interested in theoretical and statistical problems with current diversity and ordination methods. He is also into new species identification techniques, such as DNA-barcoding and next-gen sequencing.

"I hope to expand my studies to include the whole of Southeast Asia, up to the most northern limits of naturally occurring Dipterocarp forests," he told The Brunei Times.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

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