Book Review by Dr Lee Poh Onn, ISEAS Singapore

Dr Lee Poh Onn, Senior Research Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore was an important contributor to my book, “The Haze Problem in Southeast Asia: Palm Oil and Patronage”, for providing his own insights, linking me up with his contacts, and also giving his enthusiastic encouragement for the project. An expert himself about development and political economy in ASEAN, he has now written a very kind review of my book, where he reflects on the content through his own academic lens. This review has been published in the Journal of Southeast Asian Economies Vol. 34/3 (Dec 2017) Special Issue: “The Malaysian Economy Towards 2020 and Beyond”. it is available for free download at the Journal’s website here (direct download link here).  Thank you, Dr Lee!

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Exploring Geographies of Globalisation in Kuching, Borneo

I was invited to join a group of students and lecturers from the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, University of Newcastle, United Kingdom on a field trip in Kuching. I functioned as their ‘local’ academic resource person. The trip was to expose the students to geographies of globalisation in Kuching, especially in relation to how the palm oil industry has affected the process of globalisation here.

We visited a SALCRA (Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority) plantation and palm oil mill in Setenggang, about an hour away from Kuching. This was a great opportunity for the students to experience a real functioning organised palm oil operation, from plantation to mill.

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Book Review by Dr Rory Padfield

Dr Rory Padfield, formerly of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and currently at Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom very kindly wrote a review of my book, “The Haze Problem in Southeast Asia: Palm Oil and Patronage”. An early, condensed version of this review was read out at my book launch at University Malaya last year (by Dr Roy Anthony Rogers), and the full-length version has been recently published in the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography.

A (quite amusing, if I do say so!) excerpt:

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Press Release: Denial of long-term issues with agriculture on tropical peatlands will have devastating consequences

Following the 16th International Peat Congress (IPC) in Kuching (Sarawak), Malaysia, widely read media reported that the congress supported the view that current agricultural practices in peatland areas, such as oil palm plantations, do not have a negative impact on the environment. However, this view is not shared by many of the participants, and does not reflect the broad message conveyed by the research presented at the congress.

In an effort to correct these statements, a number of the world’s leading researchers researchers and practitioners from around the world (including myself) have come together to publish a letter in Global Change Biology, one of the world’s leading environmental science journals. The 139 authors represent 115 government, academic, industry and non-governmental organizations from 20 countries. Forty of these organizations are based in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore; the countries most directly impacted by the adverse consequences of unsustainable management of tropical peatlands.

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