The Green Rajah of Sarawak
Ib Larsen doing the Ngajat
The most recent time that Denmark recieved so much publicity was during a Danish newspapers' publication of the cartoons which amongst others led to a lot of protests, newspaper bans, resignation of editors and a list public apologies. Apart from that there are not many things we would know about Denmark, except that they were once the Euro Champions (Soccer) and they also have talented badminton players - which is the closest links we may be able to associate with in Malaysia as we seem to be mad fans of these two sports when we are actually making names for ourselves in squash and hockey.
The new Chief Technical Advisor Mikael Keller gives a farewell gift to Mr & Mrs Ib (Lillian). Look its a Caricature of Ib.
Back to my post about Mr. Ib Larsen. To most people who know him well, he has really become our very own Green Rajah of Sarawak - hails from Denmark. Mr. Ib Larsen has been in Sarawak since 1999. He worked as a Chief Technical Advisor (CTA) for our Sustainable Urban Development Project in Kuching, which is funded by the Danish Government through DANIDA (Danish International Development Agency). For those of you who wonder why the Danish Government are helping us, we would have to go back to 1992 when all the world leaders convened in Brazil, for the Rio Summit. During this Earth Summit the developed countries pledged to commit 0.7% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the betterment of the environment in developing countries like Malaysia. These came in the form of financial and expertise assistance. We have benefited from the Danish expertise, especially in the environment know-hows. I can say I have gained a lot of experience from the inputs given by the visiting experts who came into Sarawak. On top of that the commitments and professionalism shown by most of them are worth mentioning, but Mr. Ib Larsen came up top of them all. However as Malaysia is becoming developed, we see that the Danish assistance is slowly fading as their priority is to assist underdeveloped nations. The assistance is expected to cease at the end of this year.
Ib's farewell speech
Guest of Honour - YB Dr. James Dawos Mamit Member of Parliament for Mambong with Mikael and Ib
I remembered meeting him on the second day he arrived in Kuching, Sarawak. I was working with the Ministry of Environment Sarawak at that time. Our first task was to look for a house to rent as he had to put up in a hotel that time. The other task was to look for a vehicle to purchase for the project.
I suppose it was a tremendous culture shock for him as he tried to adapt to Sarawak's way of life - especially in the art of bargaining for a good rental rate (houses in Kuching area are expensive! and 'boleh runding' term has not really sunk into him yet. He seemed to say yes to whatever the potential landlords were quoting to him). The other task was to look for an International School for his daughter (I really could not advice him there as my knowledge about International Curriculum is not that good). Finally the hellish experience of trying to get a project vehicle was quite tedious, as Ib wants a four wheel drive land cruiser. He waved the Project Document at me and informed me that its written in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Aid Agency and the Malaysian Government. Unfortunately the agencies in Kuching don't really know about the MOU and Ib was wondering why APs are needed). We managed to get the vehicle after a lot of paperwork and negotiations with the related agencies. Unfortunately for him, the project vehicle (a lovely golden imported Mitsubishi Pajero) was stolen at the Kuching Airport 6 months after it arrived - I forgot to tell him how the car jackers here love these vehicles). And so Ib got to experience the fun of going to file a Police Report and also the way our insurance here works. He finally settled for a Toyota Unser which he uses to cruise the length of Sarawak.
Ib's friends and colleagues
Another thing that I will always remember Ib for the question that would confuse any foreigners that come to Sarawak. After he has met so many VIPs in a few weeks, I believed he started becoming curious. "Why are there so many people called YBs, Datuks and Datuk Seris. How do you know who is who?" I understand his concern and there are no Datuks or Datuk Patinggi Tan Sris in Denmark. So i just told him that it needs getting used to - don't rush I said. To me, these VVIPs may forgive him if he misses a few 'titles' when mentioning names. I don't think our VIPs here are very obssessed with their title - or could I be wrong? For me the easiest way not to offend any VVIPs (if you are not sure) should they come within 100 metres of my comfort zone is to avoid them. That's why I can say I would not get promoted anywhere for the next 10 years.
Ms. Tang Hung Huong, Ib's assistant signing a farewell note
Mr. Jong & Dayang Duraiza
Mr. Peter Sawal (Deputy Controller), Ms. Tang and Mdm Rozie (Ib's Personal Assitant)
Yeah - perhaps I can only come up with these few words to describe someone who have done so much for the State of Sarawak. A very hard working and dedicate westerner who tried to adapt to our way of life and succeeded more than any regular Sarawakian. To prove this point, during every durian season, yes that fruit! A fruit that no westerners would want to be near, and a fruit which was featured in the Fear Factor Challenge. Some people mentioned that this is a Fruit With A Smell From Hell.
How some of the anti durians people feel a durian should look like
Ib would be the first to take it and its no joke - he conquered it. However he was not able to convince his other visiting experts that this was the tastiest fruit in the universe.
Me with Ib Larsen and his daughter, Lorna (she is quite Sarawakianised actually)
Ib - if you read this, you are most welcome to come back to Sarawak - durian season is coming and Gawai is coming in a few months time. However don't mix the two :)
I stumbled on your blog today and it is good to see you blogging like no tomorrow. I especially like the Sarawak politics pieces. I am in Labuan now. Check out my blog www.ibanguy.blogspot.com. I realised you introduced me to Def Leppard "Hysteria" in Sibu way back in 1990.I'll blogroll you on my blog.Ciao!!
Anyway, it's nice to see how fun it was for you with Ib :)
Send my regards to him.