Saturday, July 31, 2010


THE world's seas are gradually filling with an increasing volume of waste, with plastic making up the single largest part of pollution in the marine environment, according to a new report authored by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Washington-based advocacy group The Ocean Conservancy.

Plastic most often found in the form of PET bottles and shopping bags can be found floating in seas around the globe. It accounts for up to 80 per cent of marine waste pollution in some waters, according to the report which was published in Washington and Nairobi to mark World Oceans Day on June 8.

Smoking also plays a major role in marine pollution. The report's researchers discovered that of the 103 million pieces of marine pollution categorised in the study, 25 million were cigarette filters or individual cigarettes.

"The oceans are our life support systems," says Ocean Conservancy president Vikki Spruill. "They supply much of the oxygen we breath, the food we eat and regulate the climate we need to survive. But marine pollution continues to pose a threat to our health."

The report highlights the plight of sea turtles who often confuse plastic bags with jellyfish, one of their main sources of food. Many sea turtles die from consuming plastic bags.

A five-year study of Arctic Fulmar seabirds in the North Sea found 95 per cent had pieces of plastic in their stomachs.

This plastic is then broken down into smaller parts before being passed out into the environment and consumed by smaller organisms. In this way plastic is reaching the lowest levels of the marine food chain.

"Marine waste pollution is symptomatic of a wider problem," UNEP executive director Achim Steiner explains in a press release.

"It highlights our wasteful practices and bad management of natural resources." Plastic bags, bottles and other forms of waste that are gathering in our seas could be recycled or considerably reduced through proper waste management.

"Some forms of waste such as tin foil or disposable plastic bags, which are choking our seas, should be banned or their manufacture quickly stopped. There is no justification for their continued production anywhere," says Steiner.

This first study of its kind looked at marine waste found in 12 sea regions including the Mediterranean, the Baltic and the Caribbean. According to the report's authors much of the waste found at sea is caused by tourism.

A good example of how tourism and clean oceans are not mutually exclusive can be found in Mauritius and the Seychelles which are not contributing to waste pollution in the Indian Ocean even though they are very popular tourist destinations.

According to earlier findings by UNEP, 6.4 million tonnes of waste are disposed of at sea every year. Every square kilometre of sea has an estimated 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.

Most of that waste is produced by international shipping. Instead of paying to dispose of their waste in harbours, many captains decide to have their ship's garbage simply thrown overboard while at sea.

Shipping as a source of marine pollution is followed by domestic and industrial waste that is washed into the oceans down rivers and then spread around the globe by currents and the wind.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Malacca airport becoming ‘white elephant’

An opposition assemblyman has raised the fear that the recently extended RM190mil Melaka International Airport would become a “white elephant” if it is not fully-utilised.

Khoo Poay Tiong (DAP-Ayer Keroh) expressed this concern after the legislative assembly was told that the state government intends to set up Syarikat Melaka Air Sdn Bhd to operate low-cost flights from the airport in Batu Berendam.

“Is Melaka Air being formed because no other airline wants to come to this international airport?” he asked, saying that there were only daily flights by Wings Air and Indonesian-based Riau Airlines.

He added that budget airline Firefly had only operated two chartered flights here between May and July.

“I am worried that the airport will end up being a white elephant as there are only three airlines operating here, with one operating just chartered flights.”

He reminded the House that Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam had said in August 2008 that low-cost carrier AirAsia would use the airport.

In his reply, state Transport, Information and Consumerism committee chairman R. Perumal said Melaka Air would be managed by state-owned Perbadanan Melaka Holdings.

He said the aim of forming the company was to attract more tourists to the state, in particular those coming for the health and recreational tourism sectors.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


An engineer died and ended up in Hell. He was not pleased with the level of comfort in Hell, and began to redesign and build improvements. After a while, they had toilets that flush, air conditioning, and escalators.Everyone grew very fond of him.

One day God called to Satan to mock him, "So, how's it going down there in Hell?"

Satan replied, "Hey, things are great. We've got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and there's no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next."

God was surprised, "What? You've got an engineer? That's a mistake. He should never have gotten down there in the first place. Send him back up here."

"No way," replied Satan. "I like having an engineer, and I'm keeping him."

God threatened, "Send him back up here now or I'll sue!"

Satan laughed and answered, "Yeah, right. And just where are YOU going to get a lawyer?"



Project Consultant
School of Hospitality, Tourism, & Culinary Arts
Taylor's University College

The international expectance of NGO’s is that no one, including the public authority can enforce strict procedures for one to be a forced member. I sit on many international bodies and on the local level have been involved with Youth, Sports, Leisure, Recreation, private clubs, religious organizations and hotel industry and am of the opinion that an NGO becomes stronger and attractive if they do not have forced membership.

An NGO should be attractive, serving, representing and giving. Then only will someone join the organisation. And, when that happens, the NGO will be strong and respected by the members.

For me the closest example to my chest is MAH – The Malaysian Association of Hotels.

The former Minister of Tourism Tan Sri Dato Paduka Sheikh Kadir Sheikh Fadhir tried to get forced membership of hotels for MAH, MBHA and MAHO. He succeed through the Cabinet but his paper was thrown out by the AG Chambers.

AG Chambers bluntly said “ No one should force membership into an NGO”. In fact this is enshrined in the -Robert’s Rule of Law that governs NGO’s. Apparently, and I hope I heard it right, that for MATTA, the AG overlooked this clause and allowed mandatory membership.

It was at this junction that under the leadership of then President of MAH Tuan Agus Salim, that MAH started to be attractive to the members and its membership mushroomed and state chapters formed. Then, during the term of Datuk Ilyas, MAH consolidated further to strengthen the chapters and provided a more effective platform of members in their respective states.

NGO should serve and not be used for personal glory and personal travels.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Applications for low-cost passport may hit 1.8 million

The cost-effective international passport has received an overwhelming response from the public that the Immigration Department believes applications will increase to 1.8 million this year.

The department’s director-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Othman said there were 1.2 million applications last year for the RM100 passport, which is valid for two years.

“We attribute the jump to the low cost and value-for-money factor as well as the speedy one-hour processing period,” said Abdul Rahman during a press conference in Pusat Bandar Damansara yesterday.

He said the department had received 913,440 applications for passports from January to June this year, which marked a 200,000 increase compared to the same period last year.

“This is the best product we have offered to meet the people’s need,” he said.

He said the one-hour passport service is available at 28 out of 35 branches nationwide.

The service is available in Alor Setar, Langkawi, Kulim, Bukit Kayu Hitam, Muar, Mersing, Kukup, Segamat, Kuantan, Raub, Temerloh, Lumut, Teluk Intan, Pengkalan Hulu, Taiping, Tawau, Sandakan, Bintulu, Sibu and Miri.

Abdul Rahman said that despite the speedy processing time, the security features have a 100% record with no forgeries or tampering reported yet.

“Malaysia offers the fastest passport processing time, our closet rival can only achieve it within three days,” Abdul Rahman added.


By Mano Tharmalingam
Kingfisher Tours Sdn Bhd

In a democratic system, all must be given a choice, and that includes choice to be a member of any legal association including the various ones in the travel and tour industry.

If anyone tries to change this rule I will be among those opposing it. A monopoly in any form is bad news as it not only prevents competition but could create unhealthy practices. A democratic practice (if practiced in a healthy way) will bring out the best of each association and that is exactly what the members of each association deserve including MATTA's.

To say that it's easier for the Ministry of Tourism to deal with one association is a suggestion of monopoly.

If MATTA has it's members interest at heart and functions efficiently, I do not see any problem it being the best representative in the industry and am sure it will have a lot of influence when it deals with the Ministry of Tourism or any other organisation.

As to MATTA being politicised, I feel sad as it could be the start of the beginning of its down fall. One way to prevent this from happening is to educate our members, that we should be apolitical at all cost.
Any ideas ?.

MATTA is a member based association and it is the members, who will ultimately decide on the course of its direction. If the majority decides on the wrong path, too bad. But I strongly feel that this will NOT HAPPEN with MATTA.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


A Harley biker is riding by the zoo in Washington, DC recently when he sees a little girl leaning into the lion's cage. Suddenly, the lion grabs her by the collar of her jacket and tries to pull her inside to slaughter her, under the eyes of her screaming parents.

The biker jumps off his Harley, runs to the cage and hits the lion square on the nose with a powerful punch.

Whimpering from the pain the lion jumps back letting go of the girl, and the biker brings her to her terrified parents, who thank him endlessly. A reporter has watched the whole event.

The reporter addressing the Harley rider says, 'Sir, this was the most gallant and brave thing I've seen a man do in my whole life.'

The Harley rider replies, 'Why, it was nothing, really, the lion was behind bars. I just saw this little kid in danger and acted as I felt right.'

The reporter says, 'Well, I'll make sure this won't go unnoticed. I'm a journalist, you know, and tomorrow's paper will have this story on the front page...
So, what do you do for a living and what political affiliation do you have?'

The biker replies, 'I'm a U.S. Marine and a Republican.'

The journalist leaves.

The following morning the biker buys the paper to see if it indeed brings news of his actions, and reads, on the front page:


That pretty much sums up the media's approach to the news these days


Many graduates of tourism and hospitality studies have been found to be unemployable. It is therefore the responsibility of supervisors and managers to utilize these available resources to train, qualify, and develop their new hires.

On-the-job training (OJT) is one of the best training methods because it is planned, organized, and conducted at the employee's worksite. OJT will generally be the primary method used for broadening employee skills and increasing productivity.

It is particularly appropriate for developing proficiency skills unique to an employee's job - especially jobs that are relatively easy to learn and require locally-owned equipment and facilities.

Morale, productivity, and professionalism will normally be high in those organizations that employ a sound OJT program.

An analysis of the major job requirements (identified in the position description and performance plan) and related knowledges, skills, and abilities form the basis for setting up an OJT plan.

To be most effective, an OJT plan should include:

The subject to be covered;
Number of hours;
Estimated completion date; and
Method by which the training will be evaluated

To have a successful OJT program, supervisors need to assign a coach to each employee involved in OJT. It is the responsibility of the coach to plan training carefully and conduct it effectively.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Operators of hotels which have yet to be issued with the Malaysian halal certificate are advised to apply for it from the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) or the Islamic Religious Department in their respective states before Ramadan.

Jakim director-general, Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz, said immediate approval would be given to hotels which submitted their applications now, but on the condition that they met all the stipulated requirements.

"With the coming of Ramadan, many 'buka puasa' (breaking of fast) events will be held at hotels, Jakim will have special officers to process applications for the halal certificate," he told reporters here today.

He also said that awareness courses on the requirements for halal certificate were being held by Jakim, with the cooperation of the Halal Industry Development Corporation and the Malaysian Associations of Hotels, for hotel operators in Selangor, Langkawi, Penang and Johor since early this month.

This course was necessary in view that only 64 hotels nationwide had been issued with the halal certificate, he added.


Some folks transition seamlessly into a happy retirement and get right to the business of enjoying their new lives. But other people have a tougher time entering the retirement years.

Some of these folks may wonder whether they are really cut out for retirement at all and let us consider the following if Malaysia is to be the best retirement place on earth:

Here are seven traits happy retirees share.

Good health. Enjoying good health is the single most important factor impacting retiree happiness, according to a 2009 survey. Retirees in poor health are nearly 50 percent less likely to report being happy, trumping all other factors including money and age.

A significant other half. The same study found that married are more likely than singles to be happy in retirement. The news gets even better for couples enjoying retirement together. Retirees whose partners are also retired report being happier than those with a working partner, according to research conducted earlier this year.

A social network. The study also found that having friends was far more important to retirement bliss than having kids. Those who have strong social networks are 30 percent happier with their lives than those without a strong network of friends. Having kids or grandkids had no impact on a retiree's level of contentment.

They are not addicted to television. After they retire they will have lots of time to fill. If they want to be happy in retirement, don't fill that time with endless hours of television. Heavy TV viewers report lower satisfaction with their lives, according to a 2005 study. The same results were found again in 2008 by researchers at the University of Maryland. In that study, a direct negative correlation was found between the amount of TV watching and happiness levels: unhappy people watched more TV and happy people watched less.

Intellectual curiosity. Adults over 70 who choose brain-stimulating hobbies over TV watching are two and a half times less likely to suffer the effects of Alzheimer's disease, according to Richard Stim and Ralph Warner's book Retire Happy: What You Can Do Now to Guarantee a Great Retirement. Not only will shunning TV make you happier, it will make you healthier. Good health will in turn make you happier -- a not-so-vicious cycle.

They aren't addicted to achievement. The more you are defined by your job, the harder it will be to adjust to life without it. According to Robert Delamontagne's book The Retiring Mind: How to Make the Psychological Transition to Retirement, achievement addicts have the most difficulty transitioning to retirement.

Enough money. Of course they'll need enough money to support their chosen lifestyle in retirement. But beyond that, more money will not make you happier. The survey found that the absolute amount of money you have for retirement is less important than how your retirement income compares to your income before retirement. If you have enough to continue your pre-retirement lifestyle, you have enough.

Our advice

If you don't have the traits necessary for a happy retirement, don't despair. There's good news for you, too. Consider a retirement that includes a little work. Researchers found that retirees who go back to work either full or part-time are healthier. The benefits don't depend on how many hours you work. Even temporary work has the same positive impact on health. A growing body of research shows that retirees who volunteer reap the same benefits of health, happiness, and longevity. And since a happy retirement is a healthy retirement, they will be set up to enjoy both.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


The reality is about Malaysian workers. No matter how smart, how strong, how educated or how hard working they are, they just cannot compete with foreigners who are desperate to put in 10 to 12 hour days at much less than an hour on the other side of the world.

After all, what companies in their right mind is going to pay a Malaysian worker 10 times more (plus benefits) to do the same job? The world is fundamentally changing. Wealth and power are rapidly becoming concentrated at the top and the big global corporations are making massive amounts of money. Meanwhile, the Malaysian middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence as our workers are slowly being merged into the new "global" labour pool.

What do most Malaysians have to offer in the marketplace other than their labour? Not much. The truth is that most of us are absolutely dependent on someone else giving them a job. But today, Malaysian workers are "less attractive" than ever. Compared to the rest of the world, Malaysian workers are extremely expensive, and the government keeps passing more rules and regulations seemingly on a monthly basis that makes it even more difficult to conduct business in the Malaysia.

So corporations are moving operations out of the Malaysia at breathtaking speed or if they are forced to stay wil employ foreigners. Since the government does not penalize them for doing so, there really is no incentive for them to stay.

What has developed is a situation where the people at the top are doing quite well, while most Malaysians are finding it increasingly difficult to make it. There are now about two unemployed Malaysian for every new job opening in Malaysia, and the number of "chronically unemployed" is absolutely soaring. There simply are not nearly enough jobs for everyone.

Many of those who are able to get jobs are finding that they are making less money than they used to. In fact, an increasingly large percentage of Malaysians are working at low wage retail and service jobs.

But you can't raise a family on what you make flipping burgers at McDonald's or on what you bring in from greeting customers down at the local Giant Hypermarket.

The truth is that the middle class in Malaysia is dying -- and once it is gone it will be incredibly difficult to rebuild.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Enjoy and try to understand the following :






























Having a conversation with a Minister

No one ever said that having a conversation with a Minister was easy. Some of us tend to clam up; others of us yak non-stop due to nerves. But, with some insider advice, you can learn to focus your chit-chat in a way that will have your Minister seeing you at your very best.

All you need are the right words — and no, we’re not talking about overused phrases like “You look great.” The best conversational strategies are far less obvious, which only add to their power. Try floating a few of these key phrases and watch them work their magic.

Smart phrase #1: “Tell me more about it”

Congratulations, you two have graduated beyond small talk and have delved into a meatier topic — namely, a problem he or she’s struggling with at work or in some other area of their political life. You, in a sincere effort to be helpful, offer a solution. Suddenly, that bonding moment you two were carefully cultivating freezes over as your Minister icily says, “Well, it’s not that easy...” What happened? In short, you gave unsolicited advice, an all-too-common conversational faux pas — especially for us tourism players, who are often accused of trying to “fix” tourism problems. Both sides, however, should take care to hold their tongues at any point they’re tempted to offer a solution. Instead, encourage your Minister to keep talking by saying, “Tell me more about it.”

We’re not saying you should never share your brilliant ideas with your Minister; just be sure to give them space to vent for awhile. Then — and this is crucial — ask for their permission with, “Would you like my advice?” If you’ve given your Minister ample time to get things out in the open, he or she should be more than happy to listen.

Smart phrase #2: “What are the reasons for your opinion?”

Oh, no! Your Minister is in favor of deepwater drilling. You, on the other hand, have marched in every petroleum-use protest within a hundred miles of your hometown. We’re not saying you two are doomed; in fact, butting heads a bit is a great way to get to know each other, not to mention make some sparks fly. So by all means, share your opinion — just do so after you’ve asked your Minister to speak first with a diplomatic, “What are the reasons for your opinion?” This is the difference between an engaging conversation and an instant turn-off.

Smart phrase #3: “I never thought of it that way”

Want to make your Minister’s day? That’s simple: After explaining his or her viewpoint on anything from a current event to a celeb’s odd behavior, ponder the comment and say, “I never thought of it that way.” Saying this doesn’t mean you think your Minister is a genius, it merely shows that you’re being influenced by that person’s thoughts and opinions. And once someone senses that you respect other ideas than your own, the ensuing ego boost will keep that certain someone coming back for more.

Smart phrase #4: “That must have upset you”

One moment, the person in front of you is ranting non-stop about how her constituents are giving her endless problems. But the minute you try to jump on the bashing bandwagon by blurting, “Your constituents sure sounds like a loose cannon!” or some such comment, your Minister suddenly makes an about-face and says, “Actually, you do not know the problems.”

The real problem is, you took sides — and insulted someone your Minister cares for deeply, in spite of the occasional gripes he or she might have. Stay neutral and say something sympathetic like “That must have upset you,” or “I can understand how that would annoy you.” This way, you show compassion and empathy without hitting any landmines.

Smart phrase #5: “How did it go?”

Sooner or later, your Minister may mention an upcoming event that’s important. Take note when you hear these tidbits, since they will turn into prime opportunities to show your Minister you were listening later with a “So how did that event go?” While it may seem obvious to follow up on occurrences like this, they are easy to forget, especially if they’re not of life-and-death magnitude. Or, your Minister may soon squander your chance by volunteering the information with a “So my event went well...” Bottom line: Ministers do like to be asked about things they’ve mentioned to you already — make a point of ponying up as soon as you see each other and your Minister will think, “Wow, how thoughtful.”

Smart phrase #6: “You are a really generous person”

Many people, are quick with the compliments: “You have the most powerful speech,” Your Minister will love it, at first. But then the compliments wear off and so does the reciprocal interest in you. What’s going on? The problem is, you’re focused on superficial qualities when people often prefer to be recognized for who they are on the inside. One’s personality, warmth, generosity, compassion — these things are desirable virtues. So try complimenting an internal quality. Say something like, “It was so thoughtful of you to ______ (for example, “go out of your way to meet me here”), or “You are a ______ (fill in with “caring” “honest,” etc…) person. I really like that about you.”

Smart phrase #7: “I really admire that”

Everyone loves to be admired and loves to be around people who admire them. So, look for opportunities to make your Minister feel proud.


(The ITUC) Congress renews the call for effective regulation of global business by states acting individually at the national level and collectively at the regional and global levels.

The case for such regulation is stronger than ever before and it is needed to increase corporate accountability through better systems of corporate governance and mandatory reporting on both the financial performance of the enterprise as well as on the social impacts of its activities.

New and better regulations are needed to ensure that business pays its fair share of taxes and that the environment is protected from business activities that are damaging.

Most importantly regulation of business activities is needed to ensure respect for trade union and other human rights. In this regard Congress welcomes the "protect, respect and remedy" framework proposed by the UN Secretary General's Special Representative on business and human rights and accepted by the UN Human Rights Council. Congress notes that the realisation of this framework will require standards of due diligence, a more encompassing definition of complicity and meaningful judicial remedies that will not be possible without a strong government role.

The changing organisation of business is used to avoid the legal responsibilities of the employer and is having the effect of reducing wages, worsening working conditions, removing or reducing social protection and making rights unrealisable. Regulation is required to end the abuse and exploitation of workers performing work in increasingly complex supply chains who are without access to the management of the companies for whom the work is ultimately performed.

The rush to avoid responsibility is contributing to the informalisation of work relationships where work is performed outside any legal framework and protection. Governments must ensure that the rights of workers to form and join their own organisations and to bargain collectively with their employer are realisable in small and medium sized companies.

Friday, July 23, 2010


On 13 July 2010, the Minister of Tourism announced that licensed travel agencies were allowed to choose which travel trade associations that the agencies would like to be a member with rather than mandatory membership with MATTA, as currently stipulated in the Regulations 9A under the Tourism Industry Act 1992. The Minister of Tourism had explained that the Regulations 9A were included into the said Act in 2000 to strengthen the private sector enterprises in the industry then.

The Minister further explained that the industry has now matured and it is an opportune time to provide a choice to the private sector enterprises to decide which association that they would like to be a member of.

In response to this announcement by the Minister MATTA Secretary General, Joseph Xavier said that MATTA were not aware of the decision of the Minister of Tourism before the public announcement of the said decision. The principal members of the Executive Council of MATTA had met with the Minister and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism to discuss the decision and the process of implementation of the decision.

MATTA recognized that it is the prerogative of the Ministry of Tourism in the matter, and believe that that the Ministry had analysed the current market situation and deliberated deeply before the reaching the decision. MATTA supports the decision in providing choices to travel agencies in the matter.

MATTA he added will continue with its programmes and activities, and providing services to our members as normal. MATTA will further strengthen and grow to ensure that we provide quality support and services to our members, and to show our value to travel agencies for them to continue to be a member of MATTA.

MATTA believe that with this decision of providing choices to travel agencies, it will attract quality members for the good of the Association and industry. MATTA has the structure and adequate resources in the whole country to bring the Association and its membership to greater heights as we move forward.

He said that to date MATTA have not received any written confirmation on the above matter and they were informed about it through the said meeting and media announcement by the Minister of Tourism. They were later informed that the decision can only be implemented when the changes to the said Regulations are gazetted by the relevant authorities.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


former Managing Director of Malaysia Airlines.

The government apparently has decided to take steps to upgrade the efficiency of the system as transport is an important component of economic development of the country. Many big things are being planned for transport in the country but what the public would like to see is that whatever changes that are introduced would avoid costly, irreversible mistakes.

I have been associated with the transport industry for almost 40 years. I was the president of the Chartered Institute of Transport Malaysia for more than 10 years and the president of the International Council of the Chartered Institute of Transport, London for five years.

During those years, I remember participating in many forums and seminars in the country on public transport. I spoke at some of those forums.

Regrettably, I have not seen much change in terms of efficiency of our public transport system. I have from time to time noticed efforts by the authorities at various levels to improve the system, but we have seen very negligible achievement.

I am convinced that the reason the authorities have not been successful in improving the situation is because the fundamentals of the system are wrong.

We have to look at the fundamentals first before formulating the concept and the policy. The first question that I like to ask is what is the main objective of our land public transport system? Is it supposed to cater to the lower
income earners of our population or for everyone?

The next question is what is our policy with regard to motorcar ownership? The government has from time to time declared that everyone should aspire to own a motorcar and indeed we have encouraged motorcar production and ownership in the country.

Therefore, there appears to be conflicting objectives of public and private land transport systems.

Another issue is the different demands of urban transport and the rest of the country’s transport requirements. The fundamentals of these two sectors are again different and of course there is a need to get the right formula for the integration of the two sectors. This by itself creates many issues.

The Prime Minister, in launching the 10th Malaysia Plan, stated that there was a need for Malaysia to have a new approach, a new enthusiasm and a new determination to propel the country into the next level of high growth.

Land public transport plays a very significant role in the economic activities of the country and in fact it forms the backbone of the efforts of enhancing the efficiency of the machinery of the economic activities.

To achieve the targets set by the government, changes must be done to the government structure to support the objectives the country is striving for.

One of the key principles adopted in transforming the economy of the country is a culture of creativity and innovation. This principle is, in my view, relevant to the land public transport system of the country.

It is indeed refreshing to note that the government has established a new regulator called the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and this, I must say, is very timely and a step in the right direction.

It is understood that the commission will be responsible for the regulation, planning and management of public transport in Malaysia. The commission has an enormous task ahead, as it is generally known that our land public transport system is in a mess.

I am glad to note that the commission welcomes ideas and proposals from the public. The public transport activities have many stakeholders and I hope they will come forward to assist SPAD to enable it to draw up a well-researched masterplan for public transport in the country.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Just to learn a few things from Singapore we would like to show how they organise a three-day tour.

A city as small as Singapore can be toured in just three days, many would say, but to see all the highlights and get beneath the skin of this charming place definitely warrants a longer stay. A tour planned around the major districts allows one to appreciate its history, people and rich cultural diversity in an optimal period of time. Here is the best of Singapore not to be missed.

Colonial Core

Singapore's architectural goldmine. Let yourself be whisked back in time to 1819, when Sir Stamford Raffles first stepped ashore and the Union Jack was raised. Still exuding a strong air of colonialism, are well restored government buildings, cathedrals and churches, notably Singapore Cricket Club , once a sports center for the British colonists. Esplanade Park makes for a pleasant stroll, while learning about the martyrs and heroes, for whom the various memorials in the park have been built. The city's finest museums also lie nestled in and around the district including the Singapore Art Museum , Asian Civilisations Museum , Singapore Philatelic Museum and Singapore History Museum . Just at the eastern outskirts of the colonial core stands the renowned Raffles Hotel . A modest museum on the third floor retells its legend.

Singapore River

This is the very origin of Singapore's prosperity, with the Merlion (the city's tourism icon) steadfastly standing guard at the mouth of the river. Quaint bridges span the river, ranging from the elegant Anderson Bridge to the simple Ord Bridge. Boat Quay , an excellent reincarnation of Peranakan shophouses and godowns, is a pleasant place to dine alfresco, with its long slew of chic cafes, restaurants and pubs. Further upstream is Clarke Quay , yet another series of restored shophouses, where a carnival atmosphere prevails at the fall of dusk. Come Sunday, a flea market thrives here, displaying an appealing range of old treasures, curios and collectibles. Other dining and entertainment attractions along the river include the Riverside Point, Riverside Village and Robertson Quay at the uppermost end.

Financial District

Home to the towering skyscrapers that lend Singapore its distinctive skyline. Over the years, building after building has battled to be the tallest; today, three have tied for the honors—OUB Building, UOB Building and Republic Plaza, all standing at the maximum permissible height of 280 meters. At one end near the mouth of the Singapore River is The Fullerton Singapore , a hotel built in the classical architecture that once dominated the district. Further south is Clifford Pier , built in 1931 and is today the embarkation point for cruises to neighboring islands. Another piece of old Singapore is the Lau Pa Sat Festival Market , a complete reconstruction of the first municipal market of 1894 that has been transformed into a thriving food centre—the perfect venue for relishing Asian cuisines at rock-bottom prices.

Orchard Road

Shop till you drop! Join the jostling crowds and do what young and hip Singaporeans do best—shop, catwalk and flaunt their latest buys. Swanky malls and charming boutiques dot Singapore's prime shopping belt from end to end, while chic alfresco eateries make great spots for watching the fashion parade go by. Top stops include local department stores Robinsons and Tangs (which is a landmark in itself with the distinctive pagoda-roofed tower of the Singapore Marriott just above it), and mammoth shopping arcade Ngee Ann City for its posh boutiques and the anchor tenant, Takashimaya. Christmastime along Orchard Road is always a colorful spectacle of bright lights and exuberant decorations.


Once a victim of redevelopment, this ethnic enclave still holds pockets of old, dilapidated buildings where Singaporeans continue to practice age-old trades. Others have been restored to their former state, like the series of shophouses at the Tanjong Pagar Conservation Area . For an authentic taste of Chinese culture, try visiting a teahouse, then take a peek into a typical middle-class Chinese home in the 1920s at the Chinaman Scholar's Gallery . Crowded streets throb with people, especially just before Chinese New Year, when Chinese opera and lion dances add to the festivity. Do not forget to visit the eclectic mix of mosques and temples while you are here—the serene Nagore Durgha Shrine , the elaborate Sri Mariamman Temple and the grand Thian Hock Keng Temple are just a few.

Arab Street

With its top draw being the Sultan Mosque , this is the repository of culture for Singapore's Muslim community. Halal restaurants and coffee shops line the streets serving up traditional Indian and Malay fare. During the holy month of Ramadan , even more food stalls are set up in preparation for breaking the fast at dusk. Shopping here is a refreshing change from the glitzy malls of Orchard Road , with stores selling Malay, Indonesian and Middle Eastern merchandise—lots of textiles, carpets, antiques, jewelry, artifacts, basket wares and alcohol-free perfumes. Do not forget to drop by Istana Kampung Glam and take a stroll around Singapore's oldest Malay cemetery.

Little India

A riot of color, particularly on Sundays and during major Hindu festivals, like Thaipusam and Deepavali . Awash with scents and sights of the Indian subcontinent, this is where everything needed by an Indian household is found. Traces of Hinduism are seen everywhere, from the embellished Veeramukaliamman Temple to pictures of Hindu deities. Mustafa Centre sells just about anything you need under one roof and is a haven for bargain hunters.

Interesting isn't it ?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Alternative Development Paradigm

by Imtiaz Muqbil,
Executive Editor, Travel Impact Newswire

At the World Travel Market in London this November, the UN World Tourism Organisation plans to convene its fourth and largest-ever Ministers' Summit which "for the first time (will) conclude with a Statement of Intent outlining the future direction of the travel and tourism industry." Under the meeting theme, "Shaping a Stronger Travel and Tourism Industry – Governance and Business Models for the Future", the ministers are to agree on their plan and direction for the industry for the next 12 months. According to the UNWTO, it will be the first time global travel ministers agree a set of actions and principles for the future of the industry.

All well and good. However rather than issue yet another bland and banal statement that repeats all the traditional commentary of tourism's growth potential, resilience and contribution to jobs and sustainable development, would it be useful if the UNWTO ministers followed the ITUC in moving the industry from "Crisis to Global Justice" and joined the global push for an "alternative development paradigm"? A good way to start, for example, would be by finding a fresh set of speakers. Last year, private sector speakers included Thomas Cook Chief Executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa. This year, how about dispensing with the usual line-up of industry CEOs's and inviting the ITUC General Secretary Mrs Sharan Burrow and a supporting crew of unionists, social and environmental activists, civil liberties and consumer protection watchdog groups?

This is a rare opportunity for the travel & tourism industry leadership to refresh its idea-bank, review its strategies and reset the parameters of growth. Not well known perhaps is that the UNWTO Secretary-General Dr Taleb Rifai is himself a former senior ILO executive. The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is chaired by Hiran Cooray, a rising young industry entrepreneur from Sri Lanka, a country that is rebuilding its tourism industry from the ravages of war. PATA is preparing to mark its 60th anniversary next year. Both PATA and UNWTO have themselves undergone heavy-duty internal restructuring. Should they simultaneously be spearheading a new roadmap that goes beyond the usual crowing about resilience and recovery? Is it time to give voice to the voiceless?

Rank-and-file employees seldom, if at all, feature in any of the industry conferences. Providing an alternative perspective on the development paradigm has been one of the biggest missing links on the industry agenda. Isn't it time to plug that gap? For how much longer can organisations like UNWTO, WTTC, PATA, IATA and others continue ignoring the downsides of globalisation without their own credibility coming under serious question?

It is not surprising that jobs at the centre of the focus. Many of the job losses are occurring in travel & tourism, but exactly how many is not known. Quite amazing that an industry which knew exactly how many jobs could be created by an expanding industry in the 1990s now suddenly seems to be unable to figure out how many travel & tourism jobs have been lost and/or are set to be lost as a result of a contracting industry. The ITUC Congress and its recommendations and pursuit of Global Justice now can be brought into the mainstream of the travel & tourism agenda, too, even if it requires decisions that may not be politically acceptable to the ministers and corporate CEOs.

A very turbulent area of instability and crises lies ahead, with rank and file employees set to become the first victims. Both the mainstream media and travel media give them little or no coverage. By putting more NGOs, activities and grassroots people on the industry conference agendas, some of the CEOs may find it a humbling experience to be held accountable and publicly skewered for their faulty policies and strategies.

The various comments, resolutions and documents issued by the ITUC Congress, all of which have been posted on its website, can be used to restructure the entire travel & tourism industry and develop a long-overdue blueprint for the new world order. When the next crises hits jobs in travel & tourism and the labour disruptions start, industry leaders will have no one to blame but themselves.

Monday, July 19, 2010


BY Shahrim Tamrin, The Malay Mail

Five travel and tour associations lauded Tourism Ministry's latest policy change in allowing travel companies without Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) license or its non-members to have their licenses renewed annually.

The five associations — Bumiputra Travel & Tours Association (Bumitra), Car Rental Associations of Malaysia (CRAM), Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA), Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) and Malaysian Indian Tourism Association (MITA) — expressed appreciation and gratitude, following the ministry's announcement last Tuesday.

“We are grateful with the decision and we commend minister Datuk Seri Dr Yen Yen's vision and wisdom to facilitate the growth of the country's tourism industry,” said CRAM president Datuk Dr Joshua Peter Tan. He said the industry welcomes this latest development as it allows the associations to play more effective roles for its members.

Tan said back in 1999, it was compulsory for all travel agents to apply or renew their licenses with MATTA since there were fewer companies within the industry then. “Now, because it is no longer compulsory, it would spur the industry to grow tremendously with more diversity and specialisation for inbound tourism especially” he said. Any company can now choose to be members of any travel association that best suit their interest and objective.”

Tan's view was echoed by Bumitra president Mohd Ayub Hassan, who said: “This is a good move. The last time a travel company wanted to register with the ministry, it must register annually with MATTA.

“It (the new policy change) is indeed refreshing. It was a long-awaited move by the industry. Now, tourism would be strengthened with each company and association being able to play more effective roles for business development and expansion,” he said.


SATU Persidangan Antarabangsa akan diadakan pada 20 Julai 2010 bertempat di Dewan Tun Hussein Onn, Pusat Dagangan Dunia Putra (PWTC). MATTA penganjur acara ini telah menjemput YB Dato’ Dr Mashitah Ibrahim, Timbalan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri untuk menyampaikan Ucap Tama bertajuk “Anjakan Paradigma Dalam Pelancongan Muslim”.

Selain daripada itu, penceramah lain dari dalam dan luar Negara juga di jemput untuk berkongsi ilmu serta pandangan untuk manfaat peserta. Ketua Pengarah dari Jabatan Wakaf, Zakat & Haji, Jabatan Perdana Menteri YBhg Dato’ Dr Hj Sohaimi Hj Mohd Salleh akan menyampaikan pembentangan yang bertajuk “Polisi, Prosedur dan Garis Panduan Kerajaan Berkaitan Umrah & Haji”.

Yuran penyertaan adalah seperti berikut :
Ahli MATTA : RM100
Bukan Ahli : RM120
Pensyarah / Pelajar : RM100

Pendaftaran boleh dilakukan secara online di

Untuk maklumat lanjut dan Aturcara Program, sila layari laman web rasmi InCoMTHU di

Persidangan ini dijangka akan dapat memberi impak kepada industri pelancongan muslim khususnya dalam konteks anjakan paradigma industri pelancongan.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


As seen by Rough Guides

Founded in the mid-nineteenth century, Kuala Lumpur – or KL as it's known to residents and visitors alike – has never had a coherent style, a situation only aggravated by the fact that the city has changed almost beyond recognition over the last thirty years.

The first grand buildings around Merdeka Square, dating from the 1890s, were eccentric mishmashes themselves, the result of British engineers and architects fusing, or perhaps confusing, influences from around the empire and the world – Moghul, Malay, Moorish and Victorian.

Today, those colonial buildings that remain are overshadowed by towering modern buildings – most notably the Petronas Towers – that wouldn't be out of place in Hong Kong or New York, reflecting the fact that this, the youngest of Southeast Asia's capitals, is also the most economically successful after Singapore.

A sociable and safe place, KL has a real buzz to it, with good nightlife and enough interesting monuments to keep visitors busy for a few days at least. The ethnic and cultural mix of Malays, Chinese and Indians makes itself felt throughout: in conversations on the street, in the sheer variety of food for sale and in the profusion of mosques, Buddhist temples and Hindu shrines.

A stay of a few days is enough to appreciate the best of KL's attractions, including the colonial core around Merdeka Square and the adjacent enclaves of Chinatown and Little India, plus, to the east, the restaurants, shops and nightlife of the so-called 'Golden Triangle', the modern sector of downtown KL.

It can be equally rewarding just strolling and taking in KL's street life, in particular its boisterous markets, ranging from fish and produce markets stuffed into alleyways, to stalls selling cooked food of every shape and description, or inexpensive clothes and accessories.

Saturday, July 17, 2010



You may have heard that a good friend of ours in Mequon lost their 25 year old son (Arun Gopal Ratnam) in a fire at home June 4th.

This is what happened.........
He graduated with MBA from University of Wisconsin-Madison two weeks earlier and came home. Had a lunch with his dad at home and decided to go back to to clean up his room at school. Father told him to wait and see his mother before he goes back for a few days.

He decided to take a snooze while waiting for his mom to come home from work.

Neighbors called 911 when they saw black smoke coming out of the house.

Their 25 year old son Arun died in the three year old house.

It took several days of investigation to find out the cause of the fire. It was determined that the fire was caused by lap top in the bed.

When the lap top is on the bed cooling fan does not get air to cool the computer and that is what caused the fire. He did not even wake up to get out of the bed he died of carbon monoxide.

The reason for writing this post to get you to stop using our lap top in bed. Let us all decide and make it a practice not to do that. The risk is real. Let us make it a rule not to use lap top in bed or put computer on bed with blankets and pillows around.


by Al Ritter

What is the most effective way to create and sustain great relationships with others? It's The 100/0 Principle: You take full responsibility (the 100) for the relationship, expecting nothing (the 0) in return.

Implementing The 100/0 Principle is not natural for most of us. It takes real commitment to the relationship and a good dose of self-discipline to think, act and give 100 percent.

The 100/0 Principle applies to those people in your life where the relationships are too important to react automatically or judgmentally. Each of us must determine the relationships to which this principle should apply. For most of us, it applies to work associates, customers, suppliers, family and friends.

STEP 1 - Determine what you can do to make the relationship work...then do it. Demonstrate respect and kindness to the other person, whether he/she deserves it or not.

STEP 2 - Do not expect anything in return. Zero, zip, nada.

STEP 3 - Do not allow anything the other person says or does (no matter how annoying!) to affect you. In other words, don't take the bait.

STEP 4 - Be persistent with your graciousness and kindness. Often we give up too soon, especially when others don't respond in kind. Remember to expect nothing in return.

At times (usually few), the relationship can remain challenging, even toxic, despite your 100 percent commitment and self-discipline. When this occurs, you need to avoid being the "Knower" and shift to being the "Learner." Avoid Knower statements/ thoughts like "that won't work," "I'm right, you are wrong," "I know it and you don't," "I'll teach you," "that's just the way it is," "I need to tell you what I know," etc.

Instead use Learner statements/thoughts like "Let me find out what is going on and try to understand the situation," "I could be wrong," "I wonder if there is anything of value here," "I wonder if..." etc. In other words, as a Learner, be curious!

Principle Paradox

This may strike you as strange, but here's the paradox: When you take authentic responsibility for a relationship, more often than not the other person quickly chooses to take responsibility as well. Consequently, the 100/0 relationship quickly transforms into something approaching 100/100. When that occurs, true breakthroughs happen for the individuals involved, their teams, their organizations and their families.

Friday, July 16, 2010


The Madrid Zoo said Thursday that it has made an offer to buy Paul, the octopus who became a pop culture sensation by correctly predicting the outcome of as many World Cup matches as he has legs - all seven of Germany's games plus the Spain-Netherlands final.

The zoo said it made the offer after receiving hundreds of requests from Spaniards for Paul's transfer from a German aquarium after Spain won the World Cup on Sunday.

Zoo spokeswoman Amparo Fernandez said an unspecified amount of cash was offered for the purchase of Paul, now a hero in Spain, which went wild after it won its first World Cup ever.

"We hope that within the next few days we will be able to confirm news that the admirable Paul will be part of the club of the most loved and charismatic animals of the Madrid Zoo," said a statement from the zoo.

Paul's owner - the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany - declined immediate comment and requested that a reporter send questions by e-mail.

The intuitive invertebrate was retired this week from predicting football game outcomes, and Madrid Zoo officials promised he wouldn't be used again for similar duties.

This is a good example of how proactive a zoo can be. MTF feels that our National Zoo should be the same.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


The government, under the 10th Malaysia Plan, is targeting to improve Malaysia’s position to be within the top 10 in terms of global tourism receipts by 2015. According to the Minister of Tourism, the ministry would focus on attracting a larger share of high-end travellers capturing a bigger share of high-growth segments and increasing the number of tourist arrivals, in order to achieve the 2015 target.

There are, of course, many issues and challenges ahead that have to be resolved said Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Rahman, former Managing Director of Malaysia Airlines.

One of the major ones is the fragile global economic recovery. Government budget allocations for the purpose of promoting tourism is not unlimited. So, it is vital that the right priorities be exercised.

It is equally important, he added, to ensure the maximisation of positive results in promotional expenditure.

Those involved in the industry have questioned the wisdom of some of the high-cost domestic promotion activities. They argued that the expenditure could have been better utilised in promotional events in the relevant foreign markets. They have also commented that some of the activities carried out in the country were not within the scope of the tourism authorities.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said her ministry was prepared to assist with policies and guidelines for the industry and was willing to play its part. but ultimately the success and continued growth of the industry was in the hands of the players and all Malaysians.

Attracting more tourists to Malaysia requires industry players to be creative and innovative in providing niche products and services that cater for various markets, including the corporate sector.

Responding to questions about safety at tourism spots Dato Seri Dr Ng said“There needs to be a change in mindset of all Malaysians in terms of safety, security, hygiene and respect for the environment.

“For industry players, there needs to be self drive to look at creative and innovative ways to grow the industry,” she said yesterday at the second dialogue with industry players themed Malaysia Tourism Transfor-mation Plan 2020 towards 36:168.

Dato Seri Dr Ng said 36:168 represented Malaysia’s target of 36 million tourists and RM168bil in tourism receipts by 2020, the year Malaysia has set to achieve developed status.

“It’s a big challenge but achieveable if we are creative, innovative and competitive by developing niche and attractive packages for various segments of the tourist market, especially those with higher disposable income,” she said.

She added that conscious consumption was a new tourism trend as consumers sought ecological and culturally sensitive travel products as well as meaningful experiences.


Tourism Minister Dato Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said travel agencies would be allowed to join any travel and tour associations recognised by the ministry, other than the Malaysian Association of Travel and Tours Agencies (MATTA), by October this year.

She said this was to allow travel agents to choose the association that best represented their unique needs and nature of business.

The other associations travel agencies can join are the Malaysia Chinese Tourist Association, Malaysia Inbound Tourist Association, Malaysian Indian Travel and Tours Association, Bumiputra Travel and Tours Association of Malaysia (Bumitra) and the Car Rental Association of Malaysia.

“These associations are required to submit a report to the ministry every six months for us to monitor their activities,” she said this at a dialogue session with tourism industry players yeste4day at MaTiC yesterday.

In response to this matter, MATTA President Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun said this new ruling would get rid of the canserous elements in MATTA and would allow the association to forge ahead.


Despite the Tourism Ministry having spent RM3.6mil for capacity building programmes of tour guides and foreign language course,there was a shortage of Malaysian tour guides who could speak Japanese, Korean, Iranian and Russian.

Tourism Minister Dato Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said this at a dialogue session with industry players held at MATIC yesterday. She said this was a wake-up call for local tour guides to buck up and learn more foreign languages to cater the need of tourists from these countries.

“So far, 480 participants have joined these programmes, of which 245 existing tour guides joined the foreign language course and 235 graduates from institutions of higher learning participated in both courses,” she said.

“We have no choice but to bring in foreign tour guides because very few Malaysian tour guides can speak these languages, which is the main reason for the sharp reduction in tourists from these countries,” she told a press conference after a dialogue session.

She said these foreign tour guides would be closely monitored by the ministry and they would only be allowed in to the country when there was a need.

“It is not an open licence but we will allow them to come on an ad-hoc basis to ensure that we do not open a floodgate for them to work in Malaysia,” she said.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


THE organiser of the Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival will introduce another major event next year, which is likely to focus on the state’s native food.

A culinary event would soon be featured in Sarawak as an extension of the ‘Rainforest’ brand name to keep tourists within the state for longer.

Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan said that planning for the new fest was in the early stages.

“Food is an area we strongly feel we should leverage on,” Rashid said, adding that other ideas include an overall cultural event. We want to have the fest after the musical weekend, and it would probably run for a week’s period.”

Rashid said preliminary discussions have been positive, and suggestions have been made to stage it on Padang Merdeka in Kuching.“We could have stalls there, and these would only feature local food by local people. Meanwhile, hotels and restaurants can offer international cuisine promotions.

Rashid added that preliminary discussions have been positive, and suggestions have been made to stage it on Padang Merdeka in Kuching.

I’m very excited about this. I feel the private sector could even invite foreign chefs and if everything goes to plan, we could run a cuisine competition to cap off the festival.”

Performers from the music fest, Rashid added, could also be invited to perform during the extended festivities.

Monday, July 12, 2010


While Malaysians are used to extending a handshake and asking apa khabar? (How are you?), the Tourism Ministry would rather adopt a more gracious form of welcome, by placing the right hand just below the left shoulder and a slight bow.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said this greeting method was initiated in 1999. “I am trying to reintroduce this greeting method because whenever I visit other countries, people ask me why Malaysians don’t have a special greeting like the Thai Sawadika.

“The greeting method was even endorsed by the Cabinet two weeks ago. I only need at least a third of Malaysians to adopt it and others will follow through.”

Dr Ng said she is trying to spread this greeting method through word-of-mouth as well as at tourism clubs in schools.

Many tourism players think that this idea will fail like it did in the past. The Ministry should just focus on issues relating to upgrading of tourism products and not worry about introducing new ways to greet people. Putting your right hand on you left chest is not certainly not in our culture.


Universiti Teknologi Malaysia centre for innovative planning and development director Prof Amran Hamzah said Malaysia is a hot-bed for the world's rarest iconic natural attractions and serves as a tourist magnet.

The country has attractive locations with vast potential for development as eco-tourism icons, according to a development planning expert.

Malaysia's natural attractions would lure inernational tourist to the country and will be spellbound by the unique flora and fauna, clean beaches, exotic marine life, oldest rainforest and the world's biggest caves.

Currently, Amran said Sabah and Sarawak were the country's largest contributors to the eco-tourism industry as compared with Peninsular Malaysia, as they had the world's rarest iconic attractions.

For example, he said the Mulu National Park in Sarawak, and Mount Kinabalu and Sipadan Island in Sabah were deemed among the world's top five locations for scuba diving activities.

"Tourists will come to Sabah and Sarawak because they know they can find the orang utan in Sepilok or Kinabatangan where there is a unique range of eco-tourism attractions."

Amran said there were many high potential places in the peninsula, including national parks, which were either under-developed or over-developed. Among the places were Tanjung Piai in Johor, Royal Belum (Perak), Bera and Chini Lakes in Pahang, he noted.

He said eco-tourism activities could be the source of high income for the country, as well as local residents. However, the growing passion to develop eco-tourism attractions could also lead to negative impact on the environment and the people, if the source of wealth was badly-managed.

"Eco-tourism means, we should add value to the source of wealth and the people. They should get the highest revenue. If it means that the people will be sidelined, then, we will fail," he said.

Amran said planning, management and systematic monitoring should be done to prevent massive destruction of the environment because the country was capable of developing its eco-tourism industry.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Not long ago I was on a Southwest Airlines flight when a flight attendant announced, "We have a very special person on board today. He's 99 years old, he's celebrating his birthday, and this is the first time he's ever flown!"

As you can imagine the cabin breaks out in light applause. She continues to say, "On the way out, stop by the cockpit and wish him a happy birthday!" The cabin exploded in laughter.

Southwest does a wonderful job of laughing. They laugh with their team, they laugh with their customers, and they laugh at themselves. That's one of the reasons they're a great company.

Have you ever experience this in Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia, Firefly or MASWings ?

Just how important is laughter?

A recent study revealed that laughter is key to our mental wellness. The study, in fact, stated that we need a minimum of 12 laughs a day...just to stay healthy! In fact, Mark Twain said, "The human race has only one effective weapon and that is laughter. The moment it arises, all your irritations go away, and a sunny spirit takes their place."

Here's a confession. Whenever I find my attitude slipping, or I'm feeling a little down, I resort to what I call...The one minute laugh. Here's how it works.

I get in my car, roll up the windows, and drive. I then force myself to start laughing and I laugh for one solid minute...not 15 seconds, not 45 less than one minute.

Now, I'll bet you're thinking, "Mac, here I am feeling down in the dumps and you're asking me to laugh for one minute. Are you nuts?" Yes, I am! Here's how it'll work. After about 10 seconds, you'll be thinking this is one of the dumbest things I've ever done...and you'll just keep right on laughing!

But here's a tip - don't do it at the traffic lights! There may be a big guy in a car next to you that thinks you're laughing at him and you'll want to keep those windows closed!


You cannot swim in the sea off Port Dickson, Penang, Cherating and Malacca, and corals are dying off Tioman Island, Redang Island and Paya Island off Langkawi, said Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman, former Managing Director of Malaysia Airlines.

Pollution is a big problem. We also have to limit the number of visitors to fragile areas. We cannot have a thousand visitors visiting Paya Island in Langkawi when the carrying capacity is only, say, 300 visitors a day. Thus, the pollution will kill the corals and reduce the fish population there, he added.

There is also lack of enforcement and maintenance in these areas. Sewage, grey water, household and restaurant waste are being discharged into drains polluting the water. Most of our rivers are getting more and more polluted due to no laws to reduce and control household discharge into drains and rivers.

Two beautiful nature sites — Lake Chini and Taman Negara — have been spoilt by over-development. Lake Chini was damaged by building a dam to raise the water level to make it easier for boats to access and by killing most of the trees surrounding the lake and until today, the place has not recovered and no one takes responsibility.

Taman Negara gives a bad taste to visitors as floating restaurants discharge their waste straight into the pristine river and illegal hotels and guest houses discharge poorly-treated sewage into the river. There is no proper control of development and pollution.

Tourists do have a bad image of Malaysia when more and more cases of snatch thefts are happening in places like Penang, Johor Baru, Malacca and Kuala Lumpur. Even poorer countries like Myanmar and Cambodia do not have such problems.

As is widely known, he said that the tourism industry is the second-largest foreign exchange earner to the country. So, the stakeholders have to continue to strive hard to ensure that the industry remains sustainable.

TAN Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman is currently a practicing advocate and solicitor. He was previously the Managing Director of Malaysia Airlines for 20 years. Prior to this, he was the judicial and legal officer in the government for 10 years.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


'Ecotourism' is responsible travel to fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas that strives to be low impact and (often) small scale. It purports to educate the traveller; provide funds for conservation; directly benefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities; and foster respect for different cultures and for human rights.

Eco tourism is held as important by those who participate in it so that future generations may experience aspects of the environment relatively untouched by human intervention.Most serious studies of ecotourism including several university programs now use this as the working definition. Ecotourism may appeal to ecologically and socially conscious individuals.

Generally it focuses on volunteering, personal growth and environmental responsibility. Ecotourism typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions.

One of the goals of ecotourism is to offer tourists insight into the impact of human beings on the environment, and to foster a greater appreciation of our natural habitats.

Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local people.

Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for local communities.


Several hundreds of people without any political power already serve the public – the charitable organisations, NGOs, and private individuals who dedicate their lives to helping those who are less fortunate.

These people are motivated by altruism – not the power and the glory that comes with political point-scoring or perks that accompany the job. The people who organise help for the homeless and the runaway children are sometimes self-funded and count on the generosity of friends and the public to donate food, clothes and shelter.

The people who spend hours researching and writing in blogs are also motivated by altruism. This is what our watchdog blog is all about. Thank you.


THE Tourism Ministry is studying the prospect of promoting the highly lucrative birds’ nest industry as part of the country’s new list of tourism attractions.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said tourists could be enticed to purchase the nutritious products on a large scale.

The multi-million industry has the potential of attracting more tourists to the country, if it is well regulated.

Speaking almost as the Minister of Agriculture she said “Based on my ministry’s survey, the birds’ nest now fetches at least RM6,000 per kg and last year, the country produced 350 tonnes of it. I am of the opinion that my ministry can market the industry to attract tourists who are keen on buying quality birds’ nest,”

Dr Ng said that Kelantan had the potential to attract more tourists as it had a thriving birds’ nest industry. She has forgetten about Sarawak and the famous Niah Caves which has been doing this since time immemorial.

She had asked her ministry officials to come up with a working paper on the industry soon and probably determine who much more money to ask from Putrajaya for this purpose. Renaming her ministry as the Ministry of Tourism and Agriculture is not impossible

Friday, July 9, 2010


"Tourism is the biggest employer in the world and can play a role in helping the globe recover from the economic downturn, and this sector needs to be recognised as a major economic motor that deserves the same sort of attention as the manufacturing and finance industries," tourism leaders from around the world said at a conference.

The head of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Jean-Claude Baumgarten, told a conference held last year in southern Brazil that the sector represents nine per cent of the world's economic output and 220 million jobs.

Tourism companies were not asking for a rescue plan like those given to the US banking sector or to automakers around the world, but rather an easing of restrictions, including the scrapping of visa requirements and airport taxes, and improved infrastructure and tourism promotion campaigns.

"Millions of jobs are at stake, from that of hotel receptionist to flight attendant, to taxi driver," said Hubert

Jose Luis Zoreda, the head of Exceltur which represents Spain's biggest tourism companies, said in his country 600 jobs a day have been lost over the past five months in tourism.

"Government measures are going in the right direction but are too timid," he said. The WTTC warned that, planet-wide, some 18 million jobs directly or indirectly dependent on the tourist trade have disappeared over 2008 to the end of 2009.

The effects of the crisis on limiting travel will see the sector - worth US$5.5 trillion (RM19.6 trillion) - shrink 3.5 per cent this year, the body said.

Joly said 2009 was a "very, very bad year" for business travel, which was seeing the brunt of the crisis- even more so than leisure travel."Business travel in the world is down 10 to 20 per cent in the first quarter" of 2009, he said.

"Companies are cutting costs, and trips are the first thing to go," said the Carlson boss.

He predicted the decline would remain into next year, depressing a segment of the travel market estimated to be worth US$350 billion a year.

The number of events and conferences had also been sliding by between 30 and 50 per cent in the United States so far this year, he said.


by Tan Sri Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman
former Managing Director of Malaysia Airlines

While we welcome every effort to promote Malaysia through the various activities and events, many find it rather confusing when these events transgressed other boundaries.

For instance, the Colours of Malaysia, the Pesta Air and the Chelsea Flower Show all should have been organised and promoted by the former Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage and the present Ministry of Agriculture, Horticulture and Agrotourism, respectively.

The Colours of Malaysia has always been a cultural representation of the country’s rich multi-racial communities through songs, dances and cuisine. This celebration is also to highlight the various cultural differences of the 13 States in Malaysia.

But the irony is, “Since it is a cultural event, wouldn’t it be appropriate if it were to be placed under the purview of the former Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage? Reason being, such a ministry was well-positioned as the proper custodian or gatekeeper to promote the various cultures of Malaysia.

Furthermore, the venue for the Colours of Malaysia has always been an issue. Sometimes, it is staged in a stadium and sometimes it is portrayed as a street parade spanning from Dataran Merdeka to Jalan Raja Laut and Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. The decision changes each time Malaysia receives a new tourism minister.

The changing of venues must indeed incur heavy costs. Quite frankly, one does not have to look far to realise that staging the Colours of Malaysia as a street parade could easily incur higher costs than hosting the same event in a stadium. One wonders just how much of this cost really goes down to the infrastructure, props or the site preparation (no such costs are required if it is staged in a stadium).

Of late, the Tourism Ministry has been subscribing to the practice of scrapping good events and replacing it with other “unrelated” ones without any proper study or market feedback.

One really wonders, “Whatever happened to the Pesta Air Malaysa?” Instead, we find ourselves promoting a new product. The Chelsea Flower Show has raised a few eyebrows in the industry. Some critics are asking ”Why are we into it?”

No doubt Malaysia managed to secure a gold medal in the recent Chelsea Flower Show after spending RM2 million for the sophisticated landscaping and floral arrangements by an ethnobotanist, James Wong. But what the ministry failed to realise is that Malaysia’s recent participation has raised a high level of expectancy on our parks and gardens.

Having said that, now everyone knows that you can never get a similar garden like the ones showcased at the Chelsea Flower Show in any of the parks in Kuala Lumpur. Just visualise tourists bound for Malaysia, who are now expecting to catch at least a “similar” garden and park in the open spaces of Kuala Lumpur and your guess is as good as mine… they will be disappointed!


by Twyman Towery

The attitude of the wolf can be summed up simply: it is a constant visualization of success. The collective wisdom of wolves has been progressively programmed into their genetic makeup throughout the centuries. Wolves have mastered the technique of focusing their energies toward the activities that will lead to the accomplishment of their goals.

Wolves do not aimlessly run around their intended victims, yipping and yapping. They have a strategic plan and execute it through constant communication. When the moment of truth arrives, each understands his role and understands exactly what the pack expects of him.

The wolf does not depend on luck. The cohesion, teamwork and training of the pack determines whether the pack lives or dies.

There is a silly maxim in some organizations that everyone, to be a valuable member, must aspire to be the leader. This is personified by the misguided CEO who says he only hires people who say they want to take his job. Evidently, this is supposed to ensure that the person has ambition, courage, spunk, honesty, drive - whatever. In reality, it is simply a contrived situation, with the interviewee jumping through the boss's hoops. It sends warnings of competition and one-upmanship throughout the organization rather than signals of cooperation, teamwork and loyalty.

Everyone does not strive to be the leader in the wolf pack. Some are consummate hunters or caregivers or jokesters, but each seems to gravitate to the role he does best. This is not to say there are not challenges to authority, position and status - there are. But each wolf's role begins emerging from playtime as a pup and refines itself through the rest of its years. The wolf's attitude is always based upon the question, "What is best for the pack?" This is in marked contrast to us humans, who will often sabotage our organizations, families or businesses, if we do not get what we want.

Wolves are seldom truly threatened by other animals. By constantly engaging their senses and skills, they are practically unassailable. They are masters of planning for the moment of opportunity to present itself, and when it does, they are ready to act.

Because of training, preparation, planning, communication and a preference for action, the wolf's expectation is always to be victorious. While in actuality this is true only 10 percent of the time or less, the wolf's attitude is always that success will come-and it does.

Editor Footnote : This clearly reflect the similarities we are facing in the tourism industry today.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


THE Rainforest World Music Festival may see a whole new setting next year said Tourism and Heritage Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan.

The Sarawak ministry was toying with the idea of extending the festival to include certain city areas instead of confining it to Santubong.

It is not known what he is talking about. So far Santubong is an excellent venue for this sort of event. It has the right rainforest setting and highly accessible.

Tan Sri Dr George Chan said, “The idea is to get more people, including business circles, to get involved in this international festival,”

To do this, the venues must depict the tropical setting befitting the festival’s rainforest theme, he said.

“We have to find venues with a tropical feel as we do not want to hold it at places such as hotels or buildings. This will defeat the purpose.

“We may also want to invite more bands next year,” he said at the presentation of a placard for the festival by Xpax (Celcom) at his office in Kuching yesterday.

Xpax (Celcom) sponsorship for the festival at Sarawak Cultural Village from July 9 to 11 is worth RM1.2mil.

A total of 20 groups representing all the continents plus two Sarawakian groups will be performing.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


The Electric Train Service (ETS) which will reduce travel time between Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur to just two hours from three hours previously, is expected to be fully operational by mid-month although the exact date has been revealed yet.

Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) is targeting professional groups and businessmen, besides the regular users of public transport, to use the service and it will be a big boost for domestic tourism.

With a speed of 140km/h, ETS will definitely reduce travel time, and the service of stewards and stewardesses will also provide comfort to passengers.

In future, KTMB will also provide wi-fi facilities in the train and are in the midst of getting the right service provider.

Eventually the ETS would also be expanded to Seremban.

There will initially be five ETS trains which would provide eight return trips for the Kuala Lumpur-Ipoh route daily, with the first train leaving at 5am and the last, 11pm.

KTMB was still waiting for approval from the Ministry of Transport for the fare structure and it was expected to be between RM30 and RM35 per trip.

KTMB had prepared an organised maintenance system for the ETS to ensure that it would not face similar problems as its existing train services.

Each ETS train will also be equipped with close-circuit television cameras to monitor the safety of the passengers, besides having the capacity of 350 passengers per trip.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


In the tourism system the consumer is the most important element as the consumer is the reason tourism products and services exist. Everyone working in tourism must ensure that the consumer is fundamental to all business and planning decisions.

Consumers have many choices about how to spend their money and leisure time.

If they choose to spend their money on a holiday, they will then determine their budget, decide how much time they have available and what types of activities they would like to do while away.

Then they will begin to select a destination, decide how they will travel there and make reservations accordingly through a travel agent, wholesaler, over the Internet or directly from the tourism operator.

The travel experience relates to how the consumer travels to the destination and the experience they have along the way. The choices can include air, car, boat, coach, train, motorbike, hiking or a combination of the above. The mode of travel affects the type of experience, for example flying to a destination is a very different experience to driving.

A destination can suffer if transport options, links and support services are limited or below standard. Issues such as the variety of attractions, facilities and accommodation available en route, the road quality, signage and frequency of transport services, can all affect the quality of the travel experience.

When consumers decide to take a particular type of holiday they have expectations of the experience they will have. This could relate to the quality of accommodation, service and food, the range and cost of activities available, the length of time they have, the weather, etc.

Their satisfaction will be based on how well the holiday met their initial expectations or exceeded them.


Can you tell the difference between a homestay and a village stay ? Only Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen can do that.

She said monday, " Empty and abandoned houses in villages can be a new source of extra income for villagers as the Tourism Ministry plans to have a new category called "village stay".

She said that compared to homestay, village stay would only provide the basic necessities without the choice of having the experience and engaging in activities with the home owners.

"Maybe you want to do other things (own activities) but you want to stay in the village and don't want the homestay experience," she said after meeting 64 Indonesian homestay participants here.

She said, however, the ministry would hold discussions with the Malaysian Homestay Association so that they could understand the purpose of having a village stay.

"Maybe they have 40 tourists. The village can only provide facilities for 20 people. So, maybe, that accommodation (village stay) can provide some sort of complementary support," she said.

Ng said 17,842 foreign tourists had experienced homestay in the country in the first four months of this year, besides 52,575 Malaysians.

Can we rubbish this idea bearing in mind that it is a poor concept to start with and her figures of foreign tourists is very doubtful. The rest is academic.


Following a bashing session in parliment, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen had explained to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia the conflicting answers given in the Dewan Rakyat with regard to Malaysia's pavilion at the Shanghai World Exposition.

"The answer to Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) was very clear. It is RM20 million for building, RM15 million for management ... for example opening ceremony, national day, closing ceremony, the cultural group and all. It is very clear when the combined cost is RM35 million," she said.

Last week, MP Teresa Kok (DAP-Seputeh) had demanded action against the Minister on the grounds that her ministry's written reply to Fong on June 15 had stated the cost of the pavilion as RM35 million but Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit had told the Dewan Rakyat that it was RM20 million.

"The deputy minister answered according to the question: how much was the cost to build. It cost RM20 million to build," Dr Ng said.

Monday, July 5, 2010



The people must lend their support to make Malaysian art an iconic product which is desired, pursued and collected worldwide, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Saturday. To truly develop its potential in art tourism and enhance its global appeal, the country's art and cultural products must be strong, he said.

Noting that the country must look into the arts and cultural offerings which locals and foreigners clamoured for, he said today's traveller wanted the industry's offering to be fresh, new and exciting. Such a traveller, Muhyiddin said, was not only looking for destinations but also experiences.

"However, such responsibility should not be left entirely to the government but also the private sector which should lend its hand to achieve this goal. Malaysians, the artists involved, art galleries, art promoters, art critics and art lovers and collectors, need to grow upon this base to lend their support to making Malaysian art an iconic product that is desired, pursued and collected worldwide," added the deputy prime minister.

Muhyiddin was speaking at the launch of the inaugural three-month 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism (MCAT) Festival at Galeria Sri Perdana here.

On the event, Muhyiddin said it was in line with the government's target in promoting differentiated strategies to cater for unique and the distinctive high-yield travellers.

He expressed confidence that with the creation of more meaningful and high value products, coupled with excellent service quality, the industry would be able to attract a greater number of tourists willing to pay a premium price for first-rate experience in the country.

"I believe the tourism industry has the potential to play a much more prominent role in the economy's growth. By creating new and innovative tourism products such as MCAT, the nation's profile could be boosted as a top tourist destination, and simultaneously, contribute towards its economic growth.

Tourism has been identified as one of the 12 potential National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs). The government also targets to increase the sector's contribution by 2.1 times and provide some two million jobs in the industry by 2015.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


by Dr Micheal Heah

MY second honeymoon holiday last month was “buried” under the Icelandic volcanic ash in Europe. I share the same misery, frustration and financial losses (from non-redeemable airline and hotel
bookings) with thousands other stranded travellers who either could not get a flight back or get to their European destinations.

The freak incident of a volcano eruption that dismantled the world’s air transportation system shows the need to take tourism seriously. Let me talk a little about how my wife and I felt about this incident.

Did we feel bad? Not really, because we could not compare our misery with those who had to camp in airports for weeks without a flight back, or those who had lost millions because they could not travel, and organisations like airlines, hotels, playgrounds and entertainment centres that depended on tourist dollars. Nor were we totally dampened by the cancellation of our trip to Europe because we opted instead to go to Hong Kong and China. It turned out to be a good holiday after all.

But the crisis exposed the vulnerability of tourism to both natural and man made hazards. This time a single volcano eruption caused untold damages that spread across continents. There will be many more crises that will come our way — environment-related, security-related, health-related, financial-related and all kinds.

They will continue to challenge the tourism industry. When a disaster strikes, affected countries would pray that they have a workable plan in place. In business, we call this Plan B. It is a second plan to fall back on when the first fails to deliver.

A good Tourism Plan B should contain plans to entice domestic tourists to travel within and attract regional tourists to their destinations. But how many countries have developed Tourism Plan B? A Tourism Plan B is essentially a broader strategy plan catering to more differing segments so that there will be a steady flow of tourists all year round.

The world is simply too uncertain to go for only a shorter term Plan A. Indeed, tourism is a big business and a major export commodity that can be repeated without fear of depletion if we take care of it. A mountain will remain a mountain no matter how many tourists climb up there. So let us think hard about sustaining our tourism attractions and making them work for us in good and bad times.

The writer is International Coach Federation (ICF)’s Credentialed Professional Coach with over 30 years experience in the tourism industry. For enquiries, call 03-2070 9988, or go to

Friday, July 2, 2010


On Tuesday, about 400 farmers in Bertam Valley blocked the main road for three hours to stop enforcement officers from tearing down their farms to make way for a road project.

MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Pahang state executive council member Datuk Hoh Khai Mun later arrived at the scene and asked the enforcement officers to stop their operations.

The Government, they said, should not use strong arm tactics in its enforcement to destroy the farms in Bertam Valley, Cameron Highlands.

Tanah Rata state assemblyman Ho Yip Kap had said that about 110 farms were located on a piece of land in Bertam Valley earmarked for the construction of a 79km federal road from Bertam Valley to Kuala Lipis.

An action committee, headed by Datuk Seri Liow, has been set up to study the report submitted by the Cameron Highlands Farmers Association.

The committee will study how the measures suggested in the report can be implemented – so that there will be a more holistic approach to increasing vegetable cultivation and to resolving land problems in Cameron Highlands.

A tourism consultant should also be appointed to assist the committee. The committee was expected to submit its findings in a month’s time.

They will then present it to the state and the Federal Government for consideration bearing in mind that the area has high tourism attributes.


One of the most motivating reasons to retire in Malaysia is the cost of living. Living in another country can cost considerably more.

Almost anywhere in the world your monthly expenses are largely what you make them. Individuals can decide, for example, whether to rent or own a home. If you don't buy a house you don't have the accompanying carrying costs to worry about, such as repairs, maintenance, and homeowner's insurance. You can also decide whether to purchase a car or not. Going without a vehicle means you don't have to pay to fix it when it breaks down, fuel it, or insure it.

Retirees make choices about whether to run air conditioning 24 hours a day or only in your bedroom at night. And you decide whether to shop for groceries at the supermarket or the local pasar tani. Individuals choose whether to hire help around the house and where and how often you dine out.

Another fundamental choice retirees abroad must make is how local to go. If you're willing to purchase local goods your budget can be seriously controlled. Going native doesn't mean living uncomfortably. Your lifestyle, in fact, could be enhanced and improved in many ways. Retiring is all about embracing the new and the different.

Just how affordable could your new local life be? As little as RM 1500 a month or less. Malaysia is one of the world's most affordable places to live well.

Think of this as a starter budget. For a total of RM 1500 a month, including a comfortable entertainment allowance, you could live a comfortable and interesting life in this part of the world that boasts warm weather year-round.

Malaysia is small enough so that you always see someone you know when walking around town. Yet it's not so remote that you can't find the services you need. The local lanscape, night markets, and heritage of the cities make you really feel like you're really experiencing a country with a rich culture that provides loads of different ways to spend your time. Public transportation is great, both within the city and between cities. Retirees won't need to invest in a car if they don't want to. The community is large enough so that you can find English-speaking company when you want it.

Malaysia is perhaps the top choice in the world right now for living well in retirement on a super-modest budget.