Archive for June, 2007

on May 26th

Blogging is always my temporary solace…

A get-together specially organized for Felily, the UTM-ian. Liang Chuan and CK left before the photo session.




Shameful scores: guess who’s the 1st runner up in the end?


Praying hard

Plea from all the cousins: See Yee, be strong!!!

sing aloud


Even though I’m just a K-le-fe for the project, I do feel a sense of pride (Please have patience in reading ) :-

Taken from


Tunnelling their way to the big league


From scepticism to admiration – tunnel specialist Dr Martin Herrenknecht’s involvement in the SMART project has made him take his hat off to the beginners who have made it to the champions’ league. 

WHEN tunnel specialist Dr Martin Herrenknecht first heard about a Malaysian company wanting to create about 10km of tunnel that would serve two purposes – for road traffic and flood water diversion – he was highly sceptical. 

Not only had he not heard of the company undertaking the project, Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART), he likened the exercise to a beginner learning to drive with an F1 car. 

Dr Herrenknecht should know, after all, he is the managing director and chairman of Herrenknecht AG, the southern Germany-based company which he founded. He has supplied tunnel-boring machines for many of the world’s major tunnelling projects for the past 35 years and is certainly an authority on tunnelling.  

“The job was going to be handled by a Malaysian company which did not have a lot of experience in this field. We were not talking about the more renowned European or American companies. Of course, I was sceptical,” the 64-year-old mechanical engineer said.  

Dr Herrenknecht was taken aback when Malaysia Mining Corporation and Gamuda Bhd, the joint venture partners for the RM1.9bil project, wanted a tunnel boring machine that was 13m in diameter, which is certainly on the large side. 

“One usually starts with smaller machines. After gaining the experience, you move on to bigger machines. But for SMART, it was like a person learning to drive with an F1 car,” he said.  

He, however, knew that MMC-Gamuda was serious about going ahead with the job when they brought him to meet then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.  

“They also understood the risks involved in the project but still pushed on. Many would have decided not to go ahead,” he said. 

All this took place in 2002 and recently, when met after the opening of the road tunnel portion of SMART on May 14, Dr Herrenknecht was all smiles and praises. “They have successfully completed a project that belongs to the champions’ league,” he added. 

The SMART project is indeed among the champions of civil engineering projects, not just because of its scale but also its concept. 

It involved digging a tunnel of about 10km between Kampung Berembang in Ampang and Sungai Besi to the south of Kuala Lumpur. The tunnel will allow access water from the upstream in the Klang River to be diverted directly to a huge lake in Sungai Besi, thus preventing flooding in the city centre near the Masjid Jamek area. 

What makes it so special is that part of the tunnel is also used for road traffic, the first tunnel in the world to have a dual purpose. The idea was so unique that SMART was even featured on Discovery Channel’s Extreme Engineering programme last year. 

As it is expected that the tunnel will only be used for flood water diversion once or twice a year, the dual-use would allow the this piece of infrastructure to be optimised.  

While the project concept created a lot of interest worldwide, Dr Herrenknecht was more concerned about the soil conditions which his machines had to deal with. 

Kuala Lumpur is built on a huge karstic limestone formation and such conditions usually cause a lot of headaches for people doing tunnelling work. Limestone formations have extensive underground caverns, streams, vertical drops and pinnacles and these often cause interruptions and delays, or other more serious problems with the tunnel boring machines. 

The tunnel alignment also required the machines to negotiate fairly sharp bends, making the work more challenging. 

Furthermore, tunnelling was carried out beneath the water table. This required the machines to be handled in such a manner that it would not cause the water table to fall. If that happened, the soil above, and any building on it, would start to subside and collapse.  

“Because of such conditions, I have to say that it was one of the most challenging projects I have ever dealt with. The experience gained from SMART will certainly be useful for me when dealing with karstic conditions in the future,” he said. 

Coming from a person who has sold over 450 tunnel boring machines for major projects (and over 1,000 smaller ones for minor jobs), and whose machines are currently digging tunnels through the Alps in Switzerland and under the Yangtze River in Shanghai, such words do carry weight.


Dr Herrenknecht said it was “excellent technical knowledge, flexibility and good management” which brought MMC-Gamuda success. 

One particular trait which Dr Herrenknecht singled out was the ability for the project managers and machine operators to quickly overcome problems. 

“Most of the time, people having long-drawn discussions before moving in to solve the problem. With SMART, the priority was to quickly get on the ground to overcome the problem,” he said. 

He said what MMC-Gamuda had achieved for the SMART project was nothing short of amazing. 

“It was a very steep learning curve but they have certainly made it. They have gained the experience to handle any kind of tunnelling projects, both in Malaysia and worldwide,” he said. 

MMC-Gamuda initially contracted the operation of one of its two tunnel boring machines for the project to a German company while operating the other itself so that it could learn from the foreign expert.  

Ironically, MMC-Gamuda’s machine was digging an average of 12m per day, compared with 7m by the other machine. The best record achieved by MMC-Gamuda’s machine was 29m per day.  

In the end, there were some problems with the foreign contractor. MMC-Gamuda took over the second tunnelling machine and completed the job themselves. 

These achievements would come in very useful in the future where, Dr Herrenknecht said, more tunnels would be built. 

“Everywhere in the world, more and more tunnels are needed, especially when cities grow bigger. They will need public transport, more roads, better water supply and sewerage systems. You will need tunnels for all of them,” he said. 

In Malaysia, several projects involving tunnels have been announced. The most major to date is the RM3bil Pahang-Selangor Raw Water Transfer project involving the construction of a 45km tunnel through the Main Range.  

Raw water, sourced from Pahang, will be channelled through the tunnel to a water treatment plant in Hulu Langat, Selangor, where it will be treated and supplied to households in the Klang Valley. 

While the project sounds massive, Dr Herrenknecht said the soil condition for the tunnel might be easier to handle than that for SMART because of its consistent granite formation. 

Fresh from the SMART project and another project in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where they constructed a portion of the tunnel for the city’s underground railway project, it is not surprising that Gamuda is interested. 

“Given the hugely difficult ground conditions which Gamuda overcame with success in the SMART project, I believe the water transfer tunnel will be fairly straightforward for them.”  

Despite playing a part in so many major tunnels in the world, Dr Herrenknecht said he remembers the uniqueness of each one of them.  

“When I see or go through these tunnels, I always remember the difficulties that they caused. I also remember the people whom I worked with for that particular project, and how we looked out for each other because ultimately, we all share that one goal of getting the tunnel completed.  

“Each tunnel has its own story,” he said. 

With the SMART project and many more projects to come, it may just surprise Dr Herrenknecht how many of his stories could come from Malaysia.  


I was the volunteer for a holiday camp

While waiting for photos taken using the official camera, these were briefly what I did on the June 3rd:-


Setting up for upcoming telematches. Timothy was too young for me to have a crush on, so I persuaded him to go after my sister!

Fan WC, the miserable soul… He was dragged along to become the volunteer


I was the MC on the last day of the camp. Look at my bored amused face.



Kids! Oh, kids!

I am not that caring actually, kids nowadays are monsters le! I gave my nod to help up in running this holiday camp organized by MRC (I drew banners for them last time) because I mistakenly thought that I’ll be paid

Canis lupus familiaris


Alaskan Mamalute or Husky?


Labrador and Chihuahua!



A lovely Afghan Hound!



St. Bernard!



Love triangle: this is a destined tragedy. The Shih Tzu grows fond of the Rottweiler; the Rottweiler is attached to the Labrador; but the Labrador likes the Shih Tzu. Worst of all, the 3 of them are MALE dogs.

And many more, just name it!

So, it was Dog Olympic day on May 27th, at the Central Park of Bandar utama, a day for me to molest all the cute doggies and to learn all their breeds.

As a mixed breed cat, I tried to act siao again: I meowed at all the dogs.


I spot you, creativity!

Creative job recruitment ad!

Reflection of the day

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