Published works and Content Creation

Landfill treasure

In a recent NTS Alert on urban vulnerabilities, it was noted that the informal economic sector plays a significant role in supporting the formal economic sector and thus deserves greater attention in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction initiatives. Waste-pickers make up one such section in the informal sector and are commonly found in cities of developing countries.

Similar to other members of the informal sector, many waste-pickers have moved from rural to urban areas in search of employment, but have largely ended up living in slum areas or even in garbage landfills. These individuals make a living from collecting items such as used plastic cups, bottles and scrap steel from the landfills to sell to recycling plants.

However, such a practice is not sustainable in the long run…

To read the full blog post, click here

Nuclear energy protests in the immediate wake of the Fukushima Nuclear crisis in Japan (Credit: SandoCap / flickr.)
Nuclear energy protests in the immediate wake of the Fukushima Nuclear crisis in Japan (Credit: SandoCap / flickr.)

Civil nuclear energy policy in Southeast Asia has seen sharp swings recently. Prior to the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear crisis in March 2011, several ASEAN member states had been actively pursuing nuclear energy. Fukushima compelled some to re-evaluate their plans. Thailand delayed the construction of its first nuclear power plant. In the Philippines, it became more difficult to gain public support to reactivate the Bataan nuclear reactor. Meanwhile, Japan pledged to phase out nuclear energy. Two years on, however, the momentum has reversed. Japan is now taking a more pro-nuclear stance, and some countries in Southeast Asia have revived their nuclear plans.

What is behind the rapid policy about-turn? This NTS Insight argues that while the discourse post-Fukushima has emphasised safety and energy governance, economic and strategic interests remain primary drivers of civil nuclear energy use in Southeast Asia.

To read the full article, please click here.

Another book chapter in the bag. Weeee!!!! *Alhamdulillah* 🙂

gerlach bookThis chapter is part of an edited volume that has been the result of conference papers presented at Asia-Gulf relations workshop at the 2012 Gulf Research Meeting (GRM), held at the University of Cambridge in July 2012.

The 2012 GRM was perhaps the biggest compared to previous years, with a total 20 workshops happening simultaneously over 4 days and spread out in the various colleges of the University of Cambridge. Workshops covered a wide range of topics with a focus on the Gulf Arab region, including the impact of the Arab Spring on the GCC, Gulf-Latin America relations, Women, Energy and environment, socio-economic impacts of migration, tourism, visual culture, Islamic finance, etc…  I sort of regretted not being able to slip out to sit in for the environment workshop. Oh well, next time!

It’s also fun (and somewhat freaky) to meet random individuals a few thousand miles away, and realise that you have mutual friends in other parts of the Gulf and Asia. The world is getting REALLY  small microscopic!

Following the conference, I took the opportunity to meet fellow Muslim environmentalists in Birmingham and London (which itself deserves an over-due blog post… akan datang!)

Details of the book’s contents are available here [in pdf]

A report of the 2012 Gulf Research Meeting can be found here [in pdf].

Spot TheGreenBush: 3rd Gulf Research Meeting, University of Cambridge, July 2012
Spot TheGreenBush: 3rd Gulf Research Meeting, University of Cambridge, July 2012 [Credits to the Gulf Research Center]

RSIS Centre for NTS Studies' Year in Review 2012
RSIS Centre for NTS Studies’ Year in Review 2012

Think saving the planet is that easy? Think again.

If trying to understand the complex interactions between sciences, economics, culture, politics, security and global/regional frameworks is just not working for you and you’re close to giving up, then check this out.

For the fourth year running, the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies has released its Year in Review (2012). The Year in Review provides a snapshot of dominant NTS events/issues in 2012, particularly affecting the Asia-Pacific region.

This year’s publication focuses on the role of institutions in NTS and its feature article is on developments in Myanmar. Articles following that are based on the 5 themes: Climate, Energy, Food, Health and Water. The publication also includes a summary of activities and publications produced by the centre in 2012.

To view the report [in pdf], click here.

A slight abberation to what I usually post, but this is such a MUST post!

Shila Amzah from Malaysia wins the Asian Wave 2012 in China with her amazing voice, stage presence and lovely choice of songs from three languages – English, Mandarin and Malay.

Not only is Shila a testament that language is no boundary and music and passion conquers all, she’s truly an inspiration for many of us, especially Muslim youth worldwide.

Congrats Shila! The judges’ reactions are totally EPIC (especially at 14:57)! Haha! You rock!

Best wishes from the concrete island across the causeway 🙂

Yay Fitrian! 😀

On Sustainability, Commodities & Energy

“An Environmental Perspective on Energy Development in Indonesia”. Authors: Fitrian Ardiansyah, Prof Neil Gunningham, Prof Peter Drahos.

A book chapter (Chapter 5) in M. Caballero-Anthony et al. (eds), Energy and Non-Traditional Security (NTS) in Asia, SpringerBriefs in Environment Security, Development and Peace 1.

Please check this link to access the chapter: http://www.springerlink.com/content/k34716127r953750/

or see the pre-published version of the chapter here: ESDP Vol 1 Ch 5 F Ardiansyah et al Environment Energy Indonesia

Abstract:

Indonesia faces an energy trilemma on the energy security, climate change goals and energy poverty fronts. Policies that focus exclusively on one prong of the trilemma may lead to unacceptable consequences in the others. Conceiving the predicament as a trilemma will encourage a more unified approach to its problem solving. Successful management will require a search for policy complementarities—the likeliest source of which may be the renewable energy sector—that allow…

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Screenshot from MuzlimBuzz.sg

How awesome is that? I got interviewed by NTUMS’s Eleven and MuzlimBuzz.sg!

Thanks very much folks, for listening to my two cents worth on the need to increase environmental awareness and action amongst Muslims.

It is my hope that such messages will in time be shared further and ultimately reach a critical mass for a truly environmentally conscious Ummah, inshaAllah 🙂

If you haven’t checked out the interviews yet, click here for the Muzlimbuzz article  and here for the Eleven article.

Heavy rains in Thailand and Cambodia since July 2011 have resulted in high socio-economic costs from flood damage and has claimed at least 500 lives. For Thailand with areas only two metres above sea level, the flood is said to be the country’s worst in the past 50 years, with a third of its provinces declared disaster zones. However, such incidents are not all that new nor unexpected, for two main reasons:

Picture by Philip Roeland

Firstly, various studies have highlighted the increasing vulnerability of Southeast Asian countries to weather–related disasters. Among these is the Report by the International Development Research Centre, which has highlighted areas in Southeast Asia that are highly vulnerable to various environmental hazards. Similarly, other reports, such as those by the World Bank, United Nations and World Wide Fund have highlighted the socio-economic factors that increase vulnerabilities, such as rising population densities in cities. Secondly, there is existing knowledge and solutions to control floods, based on the region’s long experience with disasters. These factors are particularly significant in Southeast Asia, which is home to at least three megacities – Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila.

Yet, in spite of such information, there remains a strong dose of inertia within states to effectively integrate climate change adaptation strategies with disaster preparedness…

To read the rest of this commentary published by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies [in pdf],  please click here.

Three things need to be shared worldwide: clean and green living, good soulful music and lots of love.

While much of the work on this blog has highlighted the former, Junoon – the U2 of Pakistan – has been one of my main inspirations for the latter two. This article has been written in commemoration of Junoon’s 20th Anniversary.

Thank you Salman Ahmad for asking me to contribute a piece to this wonderful milestone. Allah Hafiz!

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Selamat Hari Jadi ke-20, Junoon![1]

I can’t actually remember how I got to know about Junoon. It must have been the result of a random search on Youtube in the late 90s. But I’m thankful for that random Youtube search, as Junoon music videos demonstrate a combination of some of my favourite things – Sufism, Rock Music and awesome beats to be grooving to… (and ok yes, I’ll admit.. a pretty darn cute guitarist!!)

Students of political science and international relations, such as myself, are accustomed to the term ‘soft power’ as coined by Prof Joseph Nye of Harvard University. Soft power refers to factors such as values and cultures which are primary currencies in influencing world politics. This is opposed to notions of hard power, where the use of military force and coercion are paramount.

One of the best biographies I've ever read.

Junoon is by far one of the best examples of soft power. As the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, once said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Junoon’s songs have clearly crossed linguistic and territorial boundaries far beyond the Indian sub-continent. Junoon’s music has and continues to be a shining beacon of peace and love.

Junoon’s ability to transcend linguistic barriers is clearly reflected in my own circumstances – a Singaporean with pretty much a 90% non-Urdu speaking background. The use of Urdu in my family pretty much stopped with my paternal grandmother. She did not speak Urdu with her children as it was the “secret” language that she would use with her elders!

In 2002, my love for Junoon grew more than just as a fan on Youtube and downloaded music videos on Napster. JUNOON WAS COMING TO SINGAPORE! I still remember going to Kallang Theatre with my pal Vik and seated right smack in the middle. Although down with a flu, I was still determined to be there to see Junoon in the flesh. *Hi Salman!!*

It was a great night, with fans both young and old clapping and bobbing their heads to the hypnotic beats. There was no mosh pit, but half way through the concert, some youth made their own in front of the stage.

Junoon was also particularly significant in my undergraduate years in Perth, Australia, where I and a fellow Singaporean friend, Jeskiran, would be crooning away during meal times in our hostel’s dining hall and beating dining tables like tablas.  Top tracks were Yaar Bina Dil Mera and Sayonee. It was such good fun for us, though our other girlfriends would often cringe when we hit the high and long notes.

It’s been about 6 years since those dining hall duet days, but Jeskiran and I still take the opportunity to drum tables in restaurants when we girls have get-togethers. More importantly, 20 years on, the spirit of Junoon continues to drum up passion and love for one and all.

Happy 20th Anniversary, Junoon!


[1] translation of title: Happy 20th Anniversary, Junoon (in Malay).