Flashback to my blog entry of 11 September 2008 (below), when we learned that the four dozen or so Barisan Nasional MPs who had been packed off to Taiwan on an “agricultural study tour” were actually on a tour that included stints at leisure farms. They had been despatched to Taiwan to prevent them from hopping over like kataks (frogs) to Anwar Ibrahim’s side in 2008.
Perhaps because of this desperate move, Anwar Ibrahim failed in his “916” bid to capture federal power. I am not condoning his enticing of MPs to defect, but you’ve got to admit it was hilarious the BN MPs were sent packing to Taiwan!
This time around, government leaders are just as jittery. Read P Ramakrishnan’s piece “Has Anwar the numbers – or is it a bluff?” in Aliran. My guess is Anwar might have around 130 MPs on his side this time in the 222-seat Parliament. It will also be interesting to see which side Mahathir’s Pejuang lands up in.
In the next couple of days, I will try to look at not just the ethics of it all, but also whether there will be any difference in the direction Malaysia will take if there is a change of government, the fate of the reform agenda and if things will really change for the people, especially the lower-income group.
The original blog post on 11 September 2008:
Haha, it’s a Taiwanese leisure farm
The first clue was in theSun:
The entourage’s itinerary includes a tour of the Shangrila Leisure Farm in Yilan county, which coincidentally was hit by a magnitude 6.1 quake at 3.43pm (same time in Malaysia) on Tuesday.
The Malaysian delegation was welcomed by representatives from Taiwan’s foreign ministry as well as the manager of Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre in Taipei.
A-ha, a leisure farm reportedly among the stops; how interesting. So I looked up the Shangrila Leisure Farm (photo credit: taiwan-farming.org) in Yilan county and this is how it is described in two different websites:
(Photo credit: shineyou.sinotour.com)
Surrounded by hills and mountains, the farming offers a perfect site for you to overlook the valleys, rivers, plains, farms, islands, and ocean. The farming boasts an excellent site for visiting natural ecology, such as Taiwanese macaques, tree frogs, firebugs, butterfly and a variety of plants, inducing you with magnificent views and diverse creatures.
Surrounded by mountains, the farm is divided into tourism orchard and forest recreation area where rhesus monkeys, tree frogs, etc can be seen. Many folk activities are offered, such as sky lantern, traditional top, etc along with DIY courses like T-shirt painting. Food and lodging are both provided.
Notice there are a lot of kataks (frogs) in that farm.
And to think I had this vision of our MPs sloshing through muddy paddy fields in their boots, picking up the finer points of agriculture.
Anyway, here’s what they learnt, reported in the NST:
Earlier on Tuesday, the backbenchers stayed overnight up north in Yilan county, some 40km from Taipei, where they learned how the county incorporated agricultural practices into their development plans.
The MPs also had the opportunity to pick up pointers on how the county sells its agro-tourism through its Agriculture Leisure Programme.
Mind you, this is just one of the stops. No doubt, there will be other more “educational” stops along their tour. From the same NST report:
Yesterday, the group went to Kaohsiung, south of Taipei, to tour the local agriculture bio-tech facility.
The backbenchers were given an eye-opening tour of how technological advances have helped develop commercial applications for aquaculture and marine activities in the area.
The group also visited the Ting Tung University of Science and Technology, considered among the most advanced agriculture research and development centres in the world, before they were feted to a breaking of fast dinner by the magistrate of Ting Tung county.
You know what else is weird? This Ting Tung University is so advanced, if you google it, you won’t find it. Amazing.
Update: The World I Know has solved the mystery:
It’s National Pingtung University of Science and Technology not Ting Tung university, thanks!
Thanks for sorting out that puzzle. So it’s basically an agricultural university. You know, we had an agricultural university once – Universiti Pertanian Malaysia – before the administration of Mr Heavy Industries (Mahathir) decided agriculture was, well, not his cup of tea. He wanted to see highways (tolled, of course) and steel mills and Protons all over the country. So his administration turned our agricultural university into Universiti Putra Malaysia and built Putrajaya! If we had kept UPM as it was, we could have just sent those BN MPs there for an intensive course instead.
Now, the BN MPs are also supposed to be visiting three factories in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung. Nice to see them so busy.