Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Seoul is a U-City.How about KL?

March 12, 2007

Jeff Ooi in his Screenshots has a nice story about Seoul and its young Mayor.We can forget about such success story for our cities as long as we continue to vote in the Umno-led BN government which would do its best to prevent the restoration of local government elections.

Seoul 2010… U-City

I was cursing myself why we had to keep on making retirees-to-be run our major cities as mayors, the datuk bandar. The feeling just got more intense as our appointment with the Seoul mayor approached by the seconds.

We all knew that Seoul just had a new, young mayor last July. But when he walked into the conference room, there were still audible sighs of awe, followed by enthralled silence.

Mayor Oh Se-hoon… LensaPress photo by Jeff OoiOh Se-hoon is young and looks young. He was born in 1961. But Korea believes he is fit to run the capital city, Seoul, which is the sixth largest in the world, with a population close to 11 million.

Being a city with a 600-year history, Seoul has all the trappings of a century-old city that has developed into a congested cosmopolitan — high population density within a small land area, huge demand for housing and amenities and astronomical cost for urban re-development, perennial traffic jams and escalating cost of living that put its global competitiveness to steep test. New threads are the worsening air pollution from neighbouring countries up north.

New growth engine industries

It’s particularly noted that Oh published a book in 2005, titled: Failure Offers Seeds of Hope. Talking to several senior officials from a Korean conglomerate, university students and our tour manager, I get the feeling that Oh is cut out for a job that seems unenviable to the faint-hearted.

Oh has put on record that, after taking office last year, he has dedicated his attention towards laying the foundation for ‘Creative City Administration” to make Seoul a more competitive city.

Tourism is given highlight in his revenue structure. With current tourist arrival hovering at 6 million, he has the ambition of doubling it to 12 million by 2010. His selling point is the ‘Clean and Attractive Global City’ that aims to project Seoul as a capital for tourism, fashion and design, finance and distribution, digital content, R&D and convention. These are what he has identified as the new growth engine industries for Seoul.

Skyscrapping 63 Convention Center, Gangnam District, Seoul… LensaPress photo by Jeff Ooi

Oh also outlined his intended efforts for environment and the ecosystem by adopting a working strategy for the development of clean and renewable energy. These are encased in projects slated for Cheonggye-cheon Restoration initiated by his predecessor, and the 253-billion won Han River Renaissance Project, which Oh announced last fall.

These projects are seen as strategies that will rejuvenate Seoul which is said to suffer from a dearth of tourist sites and activities.

Interestingly, when we met him last week, this grand plan of a ‘Clean and Attractive Global City’ was presented as Seoul, the U-City. U for ubiquitous.

550-UCity_0035.jpgRecently, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced a plan to build a large theme park near the Han River to make it a tourist attraction. The theme park would include an indoor ski dome and rafting facility on the Nanji Stream.

However, the plan drew flaks in the media which feared the proposed location may pose environmental impact on the World Cup Park and the nearby Han River, besides the potential traffic snarls.

There are 23 bridges spanning across the Han River to connect Older Seoul in the north
and new Gangnam area in the south (left-hand side area)… LensaPress photo by Jeff OoiThe Korea Herald, an English newspaper founded in 1953, suggested that “if a theme park is seen as a way to attract foreign tourists, there are already a number of theme parks in and around Seoul. Perhaps one of them can be revamped and updated”.

“The city is announcing one plan after another for boosting tourism in the city, apparently blinded by a target of 12 million foreign visitors,” the Herald said in an editorial. “In order to prevent costly mistakes, the city administration must fully consider the effects of such plans on the environment and the quality of life for residents.”

The controversy comes as little surprise if the experience of Oh’s predecessor in the Cheonggye Stream restoration project is taken as a lesson well learned.

This is how present day Cheonggye Square and its surrounding look like.


LensaPress photo by Jeff Ooi

Outsiders rarely know that much of the 5.8km Cheong Gye Cheon (cheon is Korean for stream or creek) was formerly concealed under concrete roads, and the water was polluted. In 1968, an elevated highway was built over it.

In July 2003, Oh’s predecessor Lee Myung-bak, who was the Seoul mayor from July 2002 to June 2006, initiated a project to remove the highway, and to uncover and restore the stream. Lee maintained that years of neglect and development had left the stream nearly totally dry and 120,000 tons of water had to be pumped in daily.

It became an instant controversy. Trades who occupied the place refused to relocate and a series of protests were launched. Environmental activists joined in to criticise the project for its high costs. They even termed it a purely symbolic project that would not really benefit the city’s eco-environment.

However, when Cheonggyecheon restoration work was finally completed and opened to the public in September 2005, it waslauded as a major success in urban renewal and beautification. The success also helped Lee consolidate his image as a serious contender for the 2008 presidency race.

That, to me, is a case of solving an old problem with new ideas. Looking at Oh’s U-City outline, he is apparently following the footsteps of the previous mayor while building his own legacy.

And he only three more years to realise his plans, as 2010 will determine whether he will succeed.

Meanwhile, South Korea has already been talking about relocating its capital city to the central Chungcheong region.

NOTE: A group of 50 business and IT journalists comprising 11 countries from Africa, Middle East, the Indian Sub-continent and South-east Asia were hosted to a media trip to Seoul by LG Electronics Inc. I understand that I was the only blogger invited to the media tour which incorporated a visit to the Seoul Metropolitan Government and LG plants and facilities.

Photo courtesy

More photographs chronicling glimpses of Seoul are available at

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Happy new year! xin nian kuai le! Selamat tahun baru!

December 31, 2006

“May 2007 turns out to be a pretty good year for you and your loved ones. May 2007 brings new hope and changes to Malaysia!”

Bye-bye 2006!

Malaysians in general by now must have realised that they had a hard luck having a man like AAB to be their prime minister. He’s not good in managing his Cabinet and he knows nothing about economy. And what could be worst, he trusted a group of immatured, inexperienced but “highly educated” team of advisors including his own son in law.

Even the former prime minister who hand-picked him  ” tak boleh tahan” with his performance and behaviour. And the man could only relied ion the so-called “elegance of silence” to avoid more shit on his face. But when he too “tak boleh tahan” with the old man, he tried to hit back but too bad… the shit hit the fan.

Both religious and racial extremists reared their ugly heads under his weak leadership. And he simply fip-flops in his stance and more ofthen not played to the gellery. In a way, he has encouraged more religious and racial extremists to “go to town” with their antics and stunts, causing much concern and uneasiness among its citizenry in this multiracial, multireligious society.

After a string of prices increase ( from petrol, diesel and gas to electricity, water and toll), bad goverment policies and decisions(revival of NEP and further emphasis on Malay supremacy)  and mislocation of public funds, leakages and wastage ( RM600 million for Umno division chiefs, RM300 million Monsoon Cup…) , the year 2006 ended with a massive flood that paralysed the entire south region. And rather sadly, the man set a very bad example for his Cabinet members; he went ahead for his year end holiday overseas, leaving the flood victims to find their own way out, so to speak.

GE in 2007 is possible

Many Malaysians are now eagerly waiting for the next general elections. Why? Because they wanted to teach the Umno-led Barisan Nasional a big lesson. But this man who has gotten the record-high mandate from the Malaysian voters  in 2004 has said that he would not hold a general elections this year.

But he certainly could not hold on for too long; Malaysians are losing both confidence and patience with him. Things can only get worse and time is not on his side. And say what you like, Anwar is still a factor.

I personally believe that he and his advisors on the fouth floor would make use of the 50th Merdeka celebrations to create a “feeling good” atmosphere and then call for an election immediately. 

Do you agree if I call this “leadership”?

December 17, 2006

Tian Shan,Xinjiang(Sinkiang)

November 25, 2006

  Tian Shan is standing gorgeouly behind the scenic Tian Chi. Can you see the ice-capped mountain right in the middle? The picture was taken during my trip to Urumchi in August this year. I was invited as a judge for the LongXi international Chinese advertising awards by the organiser,together with 15 other judges all over the Asian countries. I would share with you more beautiful pictures when I find time. Majority of the population in Xinjiang are Muslims. Urumqi(Urumchi) is waiting for you, my friends.

Stop Greed.Save Bukit Gasing.

November 20, 2006

Victor Oorjitham, the chairman of the local joint action committee was speaking to the journalists. Shamsul Iskandar and I were there to extend our solidarity. Stop raping Bukit Gasing!

Media statement by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP CEC member and NGO Bureau Chief on Monday, November 20, 2006 in Petaling Jaya 

About 400 residents and representatives of various organizations gathered at the foothill of the only green lung of Petaling Jaya at 4.30pm on Sunday, November 19,2006.  The chairman of the local joint action committee Victor Oorjitham was there early to lead the demonstration. The residents there were determined to preserve the Bukit Gasing. Their lives are now being threatened should the DBKL went ahead with its plan to allow a developer to cut the hill for 140 bungalows. DAP was represented by Lau Weng San and I. We were there to lend our support to the residents of Petaling Jaya in saving Bukit Gasing. Some PKR leaders like Sivarasa and Shamsul Iskandar  were also there together with Elizabeth Wong of Hakam, Yap Swee Seng of Suaram, Residents Association chief Eddie Lee and lawyer Derek Fernandez and several students from DEMA. The State assemblyman Dr Lim Thuan Seng of Gerakan was also there but he is non-committal in the struggle as far as I know. He quickly told me that only the hill on the side of DBKL will be cut. I told him that he should still stand up for the Bukit Gasing people because the development would certainly affect and threaten the lives of the local residents living on both sides of the hill. I also reminded him that he cannot wash his hands because his party, Gerakan, is after all part of the Federal Government coalition. 

We managed to climb up the slopes together with Karam Singh of TV3 and other journalists from The Sun and other Chinese dailies after reasoning with the Pak Cik who was employed by the developer to block the access road to the hill. I challenged the old man whether he has any evidence to show that his boss actually owns the hill. He panicked and certainly do not know how to respond to my request but to give in to us.  We found that the developer has started clearing the hill and the residents would have act very fast to stop the works. The works carried out so far has been quite extensive. We certainly have to lodge our report and demand for a stop work order immediately from the DBKL, the Ministry of Federal Territories and other relevant authorities immediately. The Government has ruled that slopes which are steeper than 15 degrees will not be allowed to be developed into residential area. The Government must honor its rules and reject the application to clear the hill immediately. Besides, there is a reservoir on top of the hill, holding some 2.4 million litres of water for the residents in and around the Bukit Gasing area.  Yes, we certainly do not want to witness anotherHighland Towers Disaster. The Mayor of Kuala Lumpur Roslin Hassan is leaving office in December 2006. He will not be there to accept any responsibility should any mishap takes place, just like what has happened to the Highland Towers Disaster some years ago.

The Twins a.k.s Double Happiness

November 9, 2006

I am sharing with you the twin beauties in my little garden as promised a week ago. They came as a nice surprise to me and my family- shortly one day after my return from Shanghai. Hope you like them.

Another stunning beauty in purple

November 1, 2006


This is another stunningly beautiful lotus in purple from the same plant in my little garden. The beauty in pink you have seen the other day was replaced by this one. Occasionally, both these pink and purple lotuses appear together. I will share with you when this happens.

What a beauty!

October 28, 2006

I was stung by its beauty and glory this morning. I’m sharing it with all readers of Colour-blind who were stung by racial slurs and  “venomous doses” thanks to various political scums and hypocrites.

I find it therapeutic. How about you, my friends?