Tuesday, January 17, 2012

ABC: A for Artist with a cause.

Oliver's Hope and Despair:

Artist's interpretation: Despair for the poor girl, Isabella and all those who think we deprive the orang utans of their livelihood. Sadness for Malaysians to see the people in power bulldozing through our forest indiscriminately to enrich themselves without social responsibilities.

Hope for the millions of labourers and small holders who depend on oil palm for their livelihood.

In the final analysis:
This world is not about making money.
It is about creating wealth so that we can live in harmony with nature.

Despite all of this, this world is still a beautiful place
Love conquers all
Love your ones that are still around
Appreciate the nature surrounding you
Feel the breeze,wind, snow and rain wherever you are

"Do not be afraid to die but be very afraid your life has not begun"

Oliver, when I knew him as a university student in 1978 in Auckland New Zealand


I haven't seen Oliver for more than 30 years. When we met at Facebook, he told me that he was involved in replanting of oil palm trees. I was very happy.

Oliver: Oil Palm - My sleeping partners and I bought the oil palm plantation 6 years ago when I was still in the bank. The oil palm trees were about 22 yrs old. I knew nothing about oil palm then. But one thing I know was after I retire from the bank as a manager. I want to do something that is back to nature. Opportunity came. We bought the land then everything just fell into place. I retired 6 months ago from the bank. My oil palm plantation was approved for replanting in October last year. Now I am learning to replant.

Because of the haze, nowadays the government doesn't permit burn the felled oil palm trees anymore. The leaves and trunk are left to rot and is a good source of fertiliser for the young plants. A great way to recycle.

I consider myself just a smallholder. Most of the works are contracted out to 2 Indonesian workers except for transportation of fruits which is done by local Malaysians. I just help to supervise and oversee the whole process. Not a big company, a small holding.

In New Zealand, kids are told the Indonesian and Malaysian jungles are cleared to make way for oil palm, and this means the orang utans are driven out of their homes and if nothing is done, the orang utans will become extinct.

The effect of such oil palm news shocked and impacted my nine-year-old student, Isabella Wilson who, after visiting the zoo, went home and cleared her mother's pantry of all products containing the oil.

"I stopped buying shapes, noodles and Tim Tams. Tim tams were my ultimate favourite, so it was very hard to give those up," she says.

Inspired, Isabella also gave a speech to her schoolmates at Pt Chevalier Primary.

"We have the power to stop this mindless killing. Stop buying products that contain palm oil. Demand manufacturers to use other sources of vegetable oil, or palm oil that has not been harvested in Indonesia and Malaysia," she said.

Isabella has learnt one lesson: standing up for what you believe in, can cost, but it can be worth it.

Television 3, Campbell live came to school, to interview Isabella. My school kids were very excited that TV came to our school.


With the "Don't use palm oil" culture in one camp in New Zealand, and having grown up in Borneo where the controversy is all about. In 2009, I went to Borneo, I had this issue in my head. I wanted to see how much of this is true.

Admittedly, I was only at the north tip of Sarawak/Borneo. The sky was hazy, visibility was low. But it was also the season of the traditional slash and burn season of the natives. The environmentalists claim that slash and burn would not result in such a big scale haze. So bad was the haze in Malaysia that they scaled down the National Day Celebration.

This would be Despair as painted by Oliver. Oliver is now replanting the trees on old plantations, there is no need to cut down the jungle. If more people would replant the trees, there is hope. How appropriate, Oliver.

I didn't know that Oliver painted when we were in Auckland. I asked him when he started, and here is his reply:

You ask " When did I start Painting?" Way back in Form one when I was 13, I quess. I remembered I use to paint almost everyday when I was in Form 4 , 5 and also had an art exhibition in school. My media is Batik mainly and sold a couple of my paintings then. then after Form 5, I didnt go for further study abroad but stayed home for a year to accompany my sister and care for my mum. During that time I also painted a lot. When I was in New Zealand I still painted. I love to go to the National Art gallery near Auckland University. Sometimes I just sit there hours looking at the paintings. I also liked to go to the NZ National Library and flip through all those paintings by the great Artist. It has always been part of me, to help me to release my emotions I guess.

Oliver is currently actively involved in Save Malaysia Stop Lynas campaign.



Suburban Girl said...

Wow, that is an interesting and enlightening story.

Maria's Space said...

Very well thought out.
I agree with you, this world is a beautiful place, despite a lot of the wrong doings we see. Love does conquer all.

Gail said...

If I have a glitch I don't know how to fix it...you may delete the link if you wish...sorry.

Roger Owen Green said...

I think it's SHAMEFUL how the great APES and other ANIMALS are treated in this world, in the name o9f "progress".
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Kate said...

The top photo is an appealing piece of art, and a good introduction to your post.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Hi Ann, This post was so interesting and educational. It reminded me of another blog I read recently. That blog was talking about some gorgeous mountain land in North Carolina being sold off --so that they can clear the land of its trees... She had pictures, and they almost made me cry-seeing all of those beautiful trees being bull-dozed. I don't know the answers to all of this--but I truly wish we humans would be 'nicer' to nature...


J.Rylie.C said...

I thought cutting trees will cause floods? Why do they do that?

Angel's Marching, hope you can come by, thanks!

Annie said...

Thank you for this very informative and important post. I love the piece of art too.

Oakland Daily Photo said...

Fascinating and educational.

Chubskulit Rose said...

This is an eye opening post Ann.

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

What a wonderful post and a great fella that Oliver is, what a remarkable men.

I also love the quote before Oliver's story...it's so very true.

You have a fantastically blessed day sweetie!!! :o)

Gail said...

Just delete all connections to me. I have no commercial links and have no idea what happened. I had some malware issues earlier this week and maybe something rode in on that.

I am sorry to have caused you trouble. I had no idea and have not linked to anything or anyone.

Good luck.

Kim, USA said...

I am happy that there are still people who are honestly concern to our environment. What happened last month in the Philippines (flash flood) is the result of illegal logging. Kudos to your friend, Ann!


lotusleaf said...

This is a very inspiring post. Thank you!

oliver wong said...

well done, a great piece of balance, impartial writing ..without fear or favors. Thanks

rainfield61 said...

Are you going to celebrate CNY?

Or you are now a half Angmo.

Anyway, happy CNY to you and your loved one.

Hootin Anni said...

I loved reading about Oliver...and his life-long painting aspirations. [and he was quite handsome!!]

And, the fact that tearing down the lush forests only to begin replanting is so inspirational.

I really enjoyed reading this. Very very good.

Reader Wil said...

This is a very important post. I heard about the destruction of the forest. Oliver and Isabella are doing a good job: each in his/her own way. The painting is very expressive.The world is beautiful, but we humans only realise this when we have lost a great deal of natural beauty.

Suzy said...

Awesome post Ann.
Loved the lines "in the final analysis, this world is not about making money. It is about creating wealth so that we can live in harmony with nature". This is so true.
Thanks so much for sharing.

Mel_Cole said...

fascinating art for a cause indeed. My "A" for ABC Wednesday.