By Aida Mokhtar
It was my first experience visiting Riau, Indonesia and it was an exciting one as I was part of the AbdulHamid AbuSulayman-Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowedge and Human Sciences (AHAS KIRKHS)-led IIUM delegation. Normally, seminars are platforms for us to share knowledge and ideas with others in formal settings with presenters, moderators and Question and Answer sessions in tow. But the International Seminar on the Roles of University in Responding to Psychosocial Issues in the Community (ISRUPIC) goes a step further as it also includes efforts to strengthen the relationship of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) and Universitas Islam Riau (UIR) through the AHAS-KIRKHS-led International Islamic University Malaysia delegation and the Faculty of Psychology-led Universitas Islam Riau (UIR) delegation in a sustainable manner. Future seminars, research collaborations, a remote postgraduate programme, an English programme and a special journal are in the pipeline as some of the outcomes of ISRUPIC 2023. The international seminar that was held on 18 September 2023 marked the fifth one in its series and the next one will be hosted by AHAS KIRKHS in IIUM Gombak, in 2024.
Other than presenting research papers, the IIUM and UIR delegation also made educational visits to several places in Riau strengthening our relationships with alumni members and enhancing our understanding of community engagement in a real setting. We visited Desa Wisata Koto Mesjid also known as Kampung Patin (Patin Village) in Kabupaten Kampar, Riau which was an 85 km trip from Pekanbaru, the capital city of Riau. The visit centred on CV Graha Pratama Fish that is an integrated fish farm in Desa Koto Mesjid. We met with Suhaimi, its owner and the Head of Koto Mesjid, Arjunalis, and together we had a friendly exchange. According to an article by Antara News Riau, Suhaimi had won several awards for his efforts as a self-made fisherman (see article: https://riau.antaranews.com/berita/341961/kisah-sukses-kampung-patin-bumikan-ikan-di-negeri-rawa-koto-mesjid) which was demonstrated by the successful fish farm.
It was an unforgettable experience where we observed the breeding of patin fish at its different stages. There were also several patin produce sold there such as bakso, nuggets, fillet, keropok from the skin of patin, fish floss and smoked patin at the farm. According to one of the UIR delegates, all parts of the patin fish are used and that private homes in the village also breed ikan patin marking the village’s slogan “satu rumah, satu kolam (one house, one pool)”.
We also went to visit the previous location of Desa Wisata Koto Masjid that had sunken. It is now a beautiful place with clear water and islets marking a lovely, picturesque scene; a perfect spot for taking photos. The village was relocated to its current place from 1989 to 1992. An article entitled ‘Dulu Tenggelam, Desa Ini Kini Menjelma Jadi Destinasi Wisata di Riau’ on Merdeka.com (see https://www.merdeka.com/peristiwa/dulu-tenggelam-desa-ini-kini-menjelma-jadi-destinasi-wisata-di-riau.html) quoted Suhaimi as saying that the village had to change from earning its income from rubber plantations to establishing the patin fish farm because the latter is more lucrative.
On 18 September 2023, the delegation visited His Excellency Mr. Husni Merza BBA, MM who is Wakil Bupati Siak (Siak Regent Representative) from 2021 to 2024, an alumnus of the IIUM. The visit took place in the Bupati Siak residence known as the Abdi Praja housing complex. There was the discussion of collaborations between the IIUM and the Riau community during the visit.
We also visited the Siak Sri Indrapura Palace or Siak Palace which is now a museum that houses many artifacts including the beautiful musical instrument, Komet, a type of gramophone that uses a phonograph record made of steel that plays music. It arrived at the museum from Germany in the 8th century after being brought to Indonesia by Sultan XI 1996 when he was travelling to Europe. We were told there are only two left, one in Germany and another in Riau and that only the latter is still functioning.
We also met with the Rector of Universitas Muhammadiyah Riau (UMRI), Dr. Saidul Amin who is an IIUM alumnus. He hosted a dinner for us and we were served with more patin dishes over a friendly discussion.
During the days we were in Riau, we tucked into a feast of durians, lontong, soto, gado-gado and ikan patin. ***
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