Talks & Lectures

The Wilderness Among Us: New Horizons in Urban Nature Conservation by Benjamin Ong

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ABOUT THE TALK

We live in the Anthropocene, an age where humans might as well be gods. Across the world, rapid development, deforestation and other forms of environmental degradation are driving habitats and species to extinction faster than we can save them. More than 75 per cent of Malaysians now live in urban areas, generally disconnected from the bulk of nature conservation efforts that take place in large swathes of remaining natural ecosystem far from towns and cities.

Meanwhile, in spite of human action, nature exerts her own agency. While we encroach on wild areas, a sizeable number of plants and animals demonstrate remarkable resilience in adapting to urban settings. While urban areas are seldom associated with biodiversity conservation, patches and pathways of habitats and ecological corridors exist within the city. These support wildlife and challenge our assumptions of sterility, our understanding of urban green space, and our expectations of green cities.

This talk presents the preliminary findings of an ecological survey conducted by The Rimba Project at the Badan Warisan Malaysia (BWM) centre in downtown KL. It revisits a decade-old tree-planting project on the site, reviewing its progress and considering its significance amidst the backdrop of rapid development in KL’s Golden Triangle. Presenting a glimpse into the diverse animal life found in BWM’s one-hectare site, this talk argues that space can, in fact, be considered a hybrid expression of ex-situ and in-situ conservation. It is a co-produced space where human and natural agency operates in tandem, where the unexpected encounter with a bird, bat or insect may yet surprise us even as we go about our busy, busy lives.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Benjamin Ong is an ecologist based at the University of Malaya’s Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden, where he founded and manages The Rimba Project, a campus sustainability and urban conservation initiative. In 2016, he was awarded a Chevening-CIMB ASEAN scholarship to study Sustainable Development at the University of St Andrews. He won the Chevening Green Volunteer of the Year award in 2017 for his work with the Transition University of St Andrews, a community-based sustainability organisation. Benjamin’s research interests centre on the relationship between human communities and nature, especially in the urban space. He is an avid writer and photographer. His latest book, The Backyard Before You, is a meditation on biodiversity conservation in the urban residential neighbourhood.

Asia in Those Days by Thomas Brandt

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ABOUT THE TALK

This talk by Thomas Brandt will give us an insight into the social life of Europeans from the 16th to the 19th centuries in the Asian region. Brandt spent six years researching the subject and published a book of the same name. The talk, based on this book, will be illustrated with photographs and other historical documents including lithographs and quotations taken from travel reports and contemporaneous writing.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Brandt is the General Manager of the Malaysian German Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He has a deep interest in the history of Asia, having lived in South-East Asia for over 20 years. He has also published another book,”China in Those Days”, where he has drawn upon his extensive collection of old postcards from the region

Highways of Malaysia by Wong Fot Jaw

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This talk by Wong Fot Jaw gives us a peek into the Federal Road and Expressway systems in Peninsula Malaysia which he has researched over many years as he travelled around the country. An avid photographer, Wong will illustrate this talk with images from his personal collection.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Wong is a Committee Member of the Kuala Lumpur Tourist Guides’ Association and is especially keen to share his knowledge with the general public as well as with tourist guides through the Continuous Tourism Related Education (CTRE) programme.

Overland from Asia to Europe By Jimmy Leong

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ABOUT THE TALK

In December 2016, Jimmy Leong was part of an overland expedition from Malaysia to London which crossed the borders of 13 countries. His talk will be in two parts, starting at 10.30am and ending at 1.00pm. He will give us an insight into over 2,000 years of history and culture which he encountered on this journey, covering over 18,000 kilometers and taking 60 days, as he followed the trade routes between Asia and Europe.

Jimmy Leong is President of the Malaysian Tourist Guides’ Council. He is licensed as a tourist guide in both Malaysia and Singapore and is accredited as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Specialist Guide for the World Heritage Site of Malacca and George Town.

A Jewel in the Crown: Masjid Diraja Sultan Suleiman

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ABOUT THE TALK
Located in Kampung Jawa, Masjid Diraja Sultan Suleiman was built in 1932-33 in the Royal Town of Klang, Selangor and has been gazetted as National Heritage under the National Heritage Act 2005 (Act 645).  In November 2017, the mosque was reopened to the public following its restoration and refurbishment. This talk will cover the history of the building, the conservation and restoration work and the construction of new amenities to respond to the present day needs of the qariah.

Speakers will include members of the conservation team, architects Ar. Dr. Helena Aman Hashim and Mariana Isa from Badan Warisan Heritage Services Sdn Bhd, the consultant architect, Ar. Hafizi Tan Sri Mohamed from Linea Architect Sdn Bhd and Musrizal Mat Isa from Balai Seni Negara who was involved in the restoration of the bas-relief features in the mosque.

 

Cerita Pangkor by Faisal Abd Rahman

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ABOUT THE TALK

The Pangkor Story is a work in progress developed by Faisal and his team working closely with the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority. Originally developed as a training programme for the local taxi drivers to be Pangkor Island Guides, Faisal found that there were many cultural and heritage firsts in Pangkor that had to be documented. This has become the Pangkor Story – the Cultural Heritage Map of Pangkor Island. Want to learn about Frank Sinatra’s connection with Pangkor or who are the Kwantong in Pangkor?

Come join us and meet the team behind the project!

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

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Faisal Abd Rahman is a sought after tourism and training expert and frequently gives talks on a variety of subjects. He has developed many modules for tourist guides, cultural heritage guides, and national service trainees. Currently, he is focusing on community-based tourism initiatives.

Legends of the Secret Tunnel of Malacca by Dennis De Witt

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ABOUT THE TALK

Dennis De Witt will share the tales of the subterranean tunnels under the historic town of Malacca that has existed for over a century. There were stories of a tunnel under St. Paul’s hill and how people had gone into these tunnels but were never to be seen again.

This talk will give an overview of the book. What secrets do the tunnels contain and why were people willing to risk their life by descending into the dark and unknown orifices below Malacca? Is there lost treasure still buried in Malacca? This book uncovers the layers of history that unfold Malacca’s most bizarre and amazing legend. He will share pictures of Malacca and the historic St. Paul where the tunnel is, some of which are featured in the book. A book sale will also be held after the talk.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Dennis De Witt, a management consultant in Kuala Lumpur, is a 5th generation Dutch Eurasian originally from Malacca. He has a keen interest in subjects relating to the history of Malacca and Dutch influences in Malaysia.

Over the years, he has participated, spoken and presented papers in various academic, private and public seminars and events organized by the Malaysian National Archives, and the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Malaysia, the Malacca Museums Corporation, the Institute of Occidental Studies at UKM, Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and Universiti Teknologi MARA.

He also regularly conducts CTRE training for the Kuala Lumpur Tour Guides Association and speaks to the volunteers’ group at the National Museum. He has contributed articles for the Journal of Malaysian Biographies and written articles for various newspapers and magazines.

He has published several books, including ‘Reconnecting Through Our Roots’ (2006), ‘History of the Dutch in Malaysia’ (2007), ‘Melaka from the Top’ (2010), ‘Historical Tombstones and Graves at St Paul’s Hill Malacca’ (2016). In 2009, he was named the winner of the ‘Dutch incentive prize for Genealogy’ for his book ‘History of the Dutch in Malaysia’ and he received his prize in the Netherlands. He was the first-ever recipient of the prize who is not a Dutch citizen. His latest publication is entitled ‘Legends of the Secret Tunnels of Malacca’ was just released in 2018.