Her Excellency Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore and spouse Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee visited Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s Botanical Research Centre (BRC) as part of her first state visit to Brunei Darussalam.
Present at the UBD Botanical Research Centre were Yang Berhormat Dato Paduka Awang Haji Hamzah Haji Sulaiman, Minister of Education and Chair of UBD Council, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali Apong, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism and Deputy Chair of UBD Council as well as Yang Mulia Datin Dr Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Wijaya Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Aziz, Vice Chancellor of UBD.
Her Excellency then consented to plant a tree, the Aganthis borneensis, also known as Borneo Kauri, which is categorised as an endangered species based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The population of Agathis borneensis in Southeast Asia has been depleted due to overexploitation for its high timber value and high quantity production of resin.
Her Excellency, Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee and the delegation proceeded to tour the BRC nature trail and the green house. They viewed the different types of timber species, iconic plants of Brunei, orchids, pitchers, medicinal plants and agarwood at the BRC.
The Water Wheel in the pond at the BRC is responsible for oxygenating pondwater for fish, plants and bacteria responsible for breaking down organic waste. It also keeps the water from stagnating, deterring mosquitoes from laying eggs in the pond water. It utilises a multi sensor-controller integrated platform called “Droplet” developed by the Faculty of Integrated Technologies (FIT). As an energy-saving device, an Arduino Uno microcontroller uses a sensor to switch off the Water Wheel in the presence of rain. Droplet is an application of “Internet of Things” that can also be used to record rain data at the centre.
Her Excellency also viewed the exhibition area and was briefed on the medicinal aspects of the Pawas plant and sustainable energy research carried out in UBD, including the UBD Flyer which generates electricity for the Simpur Herbal Café’s signage located in the BRC compound. UBD also conducts research on the generation of sustainable electricity using photovoltaics and biomass plant residues.
Her Excellency and Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee signed the BRC guest book before having light refreshments in Simpur Herbal Café and then followed by a group photo session outside the café. Simpur Herbal Café is a UBD-owned café that operates in the campus premises. It offers cuisines incorporating fresh herbs grown from the UBD Botanical Research Centre. Similar to its sister restaurant, the Simpur Da Nang Restaurant in Vietnam, which was launched by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Chancellor of UBD in November last year, Simpur Herbal Café also serves as an internship and a training venue for Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) Hospitality students.
UBD is partners with several universities in Singapore including National University of Singapore (NUS), National Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU). UBD and NUS are co-founding members of the International Consortium of Universities for the Study of Biodiversity and the Environment (iCUBE) which UBD chairs and holds the Secretariat. It is a network of universities aimed at promoting collaborative research and education on biodiversity, climate change and the environment.
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