Thursday, September 30, 2010


In tourism you can get away with murder. Developing a village based on non-historical fact is a good example.

The Melaka government will develop the "original" village of the Malay warrior Hang Tuah in Duyong,into a tourist spot to attract more visitors to the state. What else is new ?

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the project, located on a 24.7 ha site, covering also Sungai Duyong, would cost RM135 million. An unbeliveable sum especially when it is coming from public funds.

"We will carry out this project in four phases," he told reporters after a briefing on the project and a visit to the site with Melaka Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob Monday.

"The tender for the project is expected to be out in December and the first phase to begin soon after the tender is awarded to the chosen contractor." It is certain that the contractor has already been picked.

He said the project would take two years to complete which would involve renovating 20 traditional houses belonging to residents in the area and another 25 houses to be shifted to the site in order to create a similar scene during Hang Tuah's time, an excellent way to create a heritage site based on bullshit.

Mohd Ali said the project would also include the construction of a museum, silat court, commercial centre, recreational area, surau and other facilities. This is the whole idea. Who said it is about Hang Tuah, a character that really never existed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Malaysia hosts Islamic tourism event

Islamic Tourism Conference & Travel Mart 2010 is scheduled for 28 to 31 October at the Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

ITCM 2010 is an annual event, organised by Islamic Tourism Centre and endorsed by Ministry of Tourism of Malaysia. The event will address the theme “Harvesting the Potential of Intra-Regional Islamic Travel & Tourism.”

There are two main event zones – an International Islamic tourism conference and the travel mart, both running concurrently. The first two days is limited to trade visitors only while the weekend is open to the general public.

The objective is to create a B2B platform for networking and improve sales for Islamic travel and tourism suppliers.

In an official statement the organisers said the event would encourage the “convergence of viewpoints from the academic perspectives and business aspects of tourism” that could be harnessed to benefit Muslim travellers

The mart should attract 200 exhibition booths, 100 foreign travel trade buyers and 200 conference participants.

Apart from participation from local tourism and travel trade industry players and state governments another eight countries will be represented. They are: Saudi Arabia; Brunei Darussalam; Azerbaijan; Indonesia; Egypt; Oman; Iran and South Africa.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Passenger Movements At KLIA To Rise

Total passenger movements at KL International Airport (KLIA) in July 2010 rose to 3.025 million from 2.671 million in July 2009, said Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) in a statement last Friday.

In a filing to Bursa Malaysia, MAHB said international passengers amounted to 2.127 million while domestic about 899,000.

The airport operator said passenger movements for its other airports were 2.048 million in July this year compared with 1.895 million in the same month last year.

Aircraft movements at KLIA totalled 20,949 in July 2010 million compared with 19,329 in July last year.

Aircraft movements at other airports rose to 28,807 from 26,876.

These figures do not lie compared to figures collated by other relevant authorities. These will be scrutized by many stakeholders of the industry. They are not figures wanting additional allocation for promotion and what have you.

If you add up the figures with those numbers from other airports and include arrival by sea and national borders it will not total up to the figures given by the Ministry of Tourism bearing in mind that half the number were Malaysians returning home and many Singaporean doing their daily marketing in Johor Bahru. One has to be realistic, you will never achieve 36 million arrival next year, never.

Monday, September 27, 2010

High-speed rail link by KTM ??

The high-speed rail project is one of the 131 entry point projects being proposed under the Federal Government's Economic Transformation Programme.

(KTMB) president Dr Aminuddin Adnan said the link between the two cities would create beneficial spin-offs. "It is a great project," he said, adding that the project could propel the nation to be on a par with developed countries in Europe and Asia. It would be akin to the bullet trains connecting Britain and France through the English Channel,"

This is not the first time the plan for a high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore has been proposed. It was proposed in the late 1990s, but the cost factor was the main reason the government decided not to go ahead with the project.

Aminuddin said a high-speed rail link would also encourage more direct foreign investments, create more business opportunities and boost the country's tourism industry.

He dismissed the idea that a high-speed rail link would result in KTMB ceasing its train services between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, saying there would still be demand as there would be commuters wanting to disembark at other popular stations, such as Segamat.

Aminuddin also expressed his interest in participating in the proposed project. "We (KTMB) hope that we could contribute to the system by providing the operators with our expertise in handling railway systems," he said, adding that KTMB had more than 100 years' of experience with rail transportation.

For starters KTM should expedite the double tracking between Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru as they have done for Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh. The ETS is an excellent example of how this is possible. In less than two hours you can reach Ipoh from Kuala Lumpur.

No need for high speed stuff. Difference in travel time will be minimal, no land acquisition required, no massive purchase of new rolling stock, no new fancy foreign investment and no further day dreaming. Let's get on with it. KTM, you are almost there.

Meanwhile other transport mode operators have expressed support for a renewed proposal to have a high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chief executive officer Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin said the proposed high-speed rail link is a "good idea" as it would provide travellers with more choices.

"One of the most important considerations is to ensure that the high- speed train is an integral part of our transportation system." Azmil said there should be connectivity to other city centre rail stations. "Both high-speed rail and air travel can complement each other if they are well designed and maintained."

AirAsia Bhd group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said he was fully supportive of the project. "Whatever increases connectivity, we (AirAsia) will support."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Foreigners can buy uninhabited isles

Malaysia welcomes foreigners who wish to buy or develop any of its uninhabited islands as this could help stimulate the country’s economy and bring in more tourist dollars. The foreigners can develop these islands as joint ventures with locals or even build their homes here and make Malaysia their second home, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen in Osaka recently.

However,she said the state governments would have the final say on such transactions as land is a state matter. “We are, however, open to this idea. It will help open up our economy and provide more opportunities to Malaysians as well,” she said, adding there were 1,007 islands around the country with the majority uninhabited and some remaining unnamed.

If this idea catches on some of our islands can be called Pulau America, Pulau Jepun, Pulau Francis, Pulau Italy, Pulau Australia and so on.

Dr Ng, on a promotion tour of Japan as usual , was speaking to a group of Japanese investors, travel agents and operators, and airline representatives here. She said Malaysia enjoyed political stability and was not exposed to natural disasters, such as typhoons or earthquakes. It was also a reasonably cheap place to live in, she added.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Malaysia targets MICE market

Malaysia is consistently ranked as one of the world’s best value for money destinations. This year Malaysia was listed as one of the best value destinations in the world by Lonely Planet and in 2009 Malaysia ranked as the 4th most price competitive country in the world according to the Travel and Tourism Competitive index by the World Economic Forum.

Today we are targeting the meeting, incentive, conference and events market after recording consistent growth in MICE visitor numbers in recent years. There were an estimated 1.18 million MICE arrivals in 2009, a 150% increase since the opening on the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in 2005.

Malaysia’s state of the art facilities, value for money, close proximity and stability make it a popular choice. In the first six months of 2010, 2.7% of short term departures from Australia to Malaysia travelled for a conference or meeting, which was stable compared to the same period the previous year.

Kuala Lumpur has also recently leaped five spots to the 22nd position in the latest ICCA International Congress and Convention Association city rankings while Malaysia moved up one position to 32nd in the country rankings.

With a booming industry, product development in Malaysia has been significant. In 2010 no less than five new luxury resort developments will open with a total of 270 rooms. An additional 14 new resorts are planned before 2014.

Malaysia has maintained its position as a premier MICE destination in what was a challenging time for the overall industry.

Malaysia has a growing number of venue options for small to large conventions including two well developed conference hubs in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre opened in 2005 and the Borneo Convention Centre in Kuching opened in 2009.

Malaysia’s conference hubs are conveniently located in areas with plenty of air capacity and also within easy reach of Malaysia’s amazing tourism attractions. Malaysia offers a huge variety of pre and post touring options.

From climbing South East Asia’s tallest mountain in the UNESCO World Heritage Kinabalu National Park, taking the head hunters trail through beautiful Borneo, volunteering in an orang utang or turtle sanctuary or just relaxing in five star luxury along Malaysia beautiful beaches.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Ministry targets Japan for MM2H programme

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the number of Japanese people aged 65 and above was increasing and they would be more than comfortable to live in Malaysia due to its strategic location, advances in medicine and cheaper cost of living.

Furthermore, she added, Malaysia was already a popular retirement destination for the Japanese as they have been invited to make Malaysia their second home.

Dr Ng and Malaysian ambassador to Japan Datuk Shaharuddin Md Som launch Tourism Malaysia ’s first ‘ Malaysia Truly Asia’ advertisement put up on the Matsuzakaya shopping complex in Ginza, Tokyo .

“We are more than happy to take in more,” she told a gathering of representatives from several Japanese associations here.

“We have Japanese schools, Japanese clubs and Japanese restaurants back home.

“The cost of living in Malaysia is also a third of that in Japan . Almost everything is duty free except liquor, tobacco and Corningware (a brand of glassware that is resistant to thermal heat),” added Dr Ng, who is here to promote the Make Malaysia Your Second Home (MM2H) programme.

She said since the programme started in 2002, more than 14,300 foreigners had made Malaysia their second home. Of these, more than 1,100 were Japanese.

She said other successful applicants were from Iran , Britain , China , Pakistan , Singapore , Australia , Bangladesh , the United States and India .

Dr Ng said Malaysia was an ideal tourism as well as retirement destination with more than 1,000 islands, 42 marine parks and a 130-million-year-old rainforest.

“We also have homestay programmes which have been popular with Japanese tourists. Our diversity is also a big asset and this is certainly an added attraction to foreigners,” she said, adding that successful MM2H applicants would get a 10-year multiple entry social visit pass.

She said foreigners need only to show that they have liquid assets worth more than RM350,000 and some form of a monthly income, such as a pension, if they were above 50

“When your application is approved, you will have to save at least RM150,000 in a fixed deposit with a bank in Malaysia , of which RM50,000 can be withdrawn from the second year onwards if one wishes to,” she said.

For applicants aged 50 and below, they have to show they have liquid assets worth RM500,000 when applying and a monthly income of RM10,000.

“When the application is approved, he or she will have to keep RM300,000 in a fixed deposit account in a bank in Malaysia . He or she will be able to withdraw up to RM150,000 from the second year onwards if he wishes to use the money,” she said, adding that Malaysia was listed by the Wolrd Tourism Council as the ninth most visited country.

Ng said both Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia would start direct flights to Haneda, near Tokyo , in November and December and this would give the Japanese more reason to join the MM2H programme. MAS now operates regular flights from KL International Airport to Osaka and Narita.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Can Economic Transformation Programme spark economic activities

By Jagdev Singh Sidhu

THE headline numbers were impressive and the ideas put forward in the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) was a mix of flimsy, common sense and ingenuity.

With some US$444bil in investment expected under the ETP from 131 entry point projects (EPPs) and 60 business opportunities, domestic companies were inundated with proposals that could whet the appetite of idea seekers wanting to know where the next big opportunity will come from.

The purpose of the ETP is simple. The private sector has yet to wake up from its hibernation in driving economic growth in the country and by coming up with proposals on business opportunity, the Government hopes the ETP would be the spark that lights the fire under the private sector once again.

There is no arguing that something needed to be done after years of decline in private investment that has taken an economic toll on the country, and judging by the scale of opportunities and ideas presented by the ETP, it is different than what many other centralised plans or programmes have done in the past.

In this case, the ETP is mainly private sector driven and some suggestions put forward don’t require money at all but just a change in regulations to get a sector more efficient and get private sector activity going again.

Its up to the Government to decide if low hanging fruit should be picked, and whether that is sufficient to get a lot of companies moving and the Government to make the regulatory changes is still left to be seen.

But the ETP also calls for private companies to start putting their money to work as 92% of that vast sums of investments is expected to come from the private sector.

Companies need to assess the returns they can make from any project, the cost of funding such business ventures and the markets and clients where those new ideas and products can tap.

The risk of ideas not translating into actual business is great and the numbers show in the ETP. It’s commendable that there are US$47bil worth of investments for 19 EPPs that are at a stage where commitment is serious or close to.

However, US$169bil worth from 112 EPPs in active engagement, or at an expression of interest stage, means those projects stand a greater chance of not materialising.

Pemandu acknowledges that while some of those projects and ideas could well not be commercialised, its hope is that other projects could come from the seeds it has already sown.

But does the ETP address what were the underlying causes of the malaise in private sector since the 1997/98 economic crisis hit Malaysia?

What has been lacking somewhat has been the sense of risk-taking by companies, being bold enough to try something new or even try and expand the boundaries of their existing business aggressively.

In fact, companies are generating far more cash these days and ironically have chosen to distribute much of their cash in the form of dividends to placate shareholders, instead of taking a chance on something that may or may not pay off.

There is also a growing number of companies finding opportunities outside the country more lucrative as the outward FDI numbers have jumped up substantially over the last few years.

It’s not fair to generalise many Malaysian companies as such, as there are some who are progressively expanding their market share or have ventured into new grounds. But their number isn’t sufficient enough as the private investment numbers have shown.

Identifying projects is a step in getting private sector interest back to Malaysia, but it does not deal with setting the proper foundation for long-term business generation in the country.

A big bang approach is needed. Improvements need to be made expeditiously, legislation needs to be enacted, regulations changed to ensure a fair market place is created and regulators play an independent and fair role so that the private sector can flourish again.

Creating business opportunity without a vibrant and equal marketplace would mean that many of those ideas would sooner or later wilt without a change in mindset that is needed to get investments up again.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Heritage Can Help Enhance Country' Image

Malaysia's rich heritage is not only good for promoting tourism and trade but also can help enhance the country's image in the eyes of the world, said Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

He said in relation to this, Malaysia could follow in the footsteps of China and Eastern Europe which are using their national heritage not only for tourism and trade but also several aspects of their civilisation to enhance the image of their countries.

Rais said through studies and efforts undertaken by the National Heritage Department (NHD), he hoped the image of Malaysia's heritage in the eyes of the world could be enhanced from time to time.

"Heritage sites like Lenggong (Perak), Bujang Valley (Kedah) can make Malaysia more famous. Melaka and Penang, through our efforts, have earned Unesco recognition as world heritage sites," he said in his speech during a visit to the NHD here Tuesday.

Rais said heritage matters should be included in the national agenda and not limited to museums or archaeological sites. Cooperation between the federal and state governments was also important to ensure heritage sites were preserved, including in opposition-held states, he said.

"There are certain quarters who hold the notion that heritage sites in their states need not be consulted with the NHD or they feel its is the state's right to determine the future of such sites," he said.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


At a gala dinner in Langkawi a few nights ago in conjunction with the Kedah International Red Tee Invitation Langkawi 2010 golf championship Tourism Minister said the government will promote women's golf as a tourism product to attract more visitors to Malaysia.

Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said that previously, Malaysia had been focusing on men's golf but time had now changed.

"By promoting women's golf, we can get more revenue. When women come here, they can also go shopping as our country is also known as a popular shopping destination.

"We can also introduce to them our spa facility," she said at a gala dinner here last night in conjunction with the Kedah International Red Tee Invitation Langkawi 2010 golf championship.

Dr Ng said Malaysia had good golfing facilities, with about 170 golf courses, and fast becoming a major golf destination in the region.

"Next month is the 'Month of Champions' for Malaysia, as we will play host to three world class golf tournaments involving world top professional golf players.

"These back-to-back tournaments will be held at some of our esteem golf courses namely Iskandar Johor Open on Oct 14-17 at the Horizon Hill Golf and Country Club in Johor Baharu, Sime Darby LPGA on Oct 22-24 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club and CIMB Asia Pacific Golf Classic on Oct 28-31 at the Mines Resort and Golf Club," she said.

The inaugural event at the Gunung Raya Golf Resort was participated by 56 amateur lady golfers from Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea.

Monday, September 20, 2010

More Direct Flights To Langkawi - Dr Mahathir

Langkawi needs more direct flights to draw tourists, says the former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to this mythical resort island.

Dr Mahathir has been the prime mover for Langkawi's development with several tourism products created such as the cable car, Galeria Perdana, Kota Mahsuri, Underwater World, Bird Park and Craft Complex to name a few.

He said he had discussed with low-cost carrier AirAsia to have more direct flights into Langkawi from various destinations and hoped that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) would do the same.

"With more direct flights, tourists will be more keen to visit this duty-free island as they don't have to transit or catch a connecting flight," he added.

At the moment, MAS, AirAsia, Firefly and Singapore's Silk Air operate direct flights to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore.

Dr Mahathir also said that there was still more room to promote the island as an interesting tourist destination.

"We ask for the goverment's cooperation to promote Langkawi to the world," he said, adding that there were a number of projects still waiting for government approval before they could be implemented on the island.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Warning Light For Travel & Tourism

The world is in a state of "destructive disequilibrium", says UNTAD Secretary General, Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), at the opening plenary of the 57th session of the Trade and Development Board in Geneva. Offering a completely different perspective on the global economic crisis and its aftermath, the statement should be closely studied by the travel & tourism industry as it ponders its future in the upcoming second decade of the 21st century.

The multiple challenges now faced by the global community can perhaps be summed up in one word: imbalances. Imbalances in food, energy, housing and financial markets were allowed to grow during a sustained economic boom, becoming increasingly interdependent.

These mounting imbalances generated a level of economic fragility which eventually shattered with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. But despite the massive amount of public resources that have been mobilized to deal with the resulting collapse, the underlying forces have been left untouched in the aftermath of the crisis. They remain a toxic threat to stable and inclusive growth and the sustainability of the recovery.

Some emerging and developing countries have demonstrated relative resilience to the impact of the crisis. This is not just an accident; in several cases, it is the result of strategic actions and policies on the part of governments. The use of reserve holdings and massive economic stimulus packages, which in China's case amounted to 7% of GDP, helped stave off a full-blown depression. It also propelled the State back into the driving seat of economic management, with industrial, macroeconomic and selective trade policies helping to shore up against widespread market collapse.

The crisis has acted as a watershed, revealing new economic powers and exposing weaker ones. It is now clear, if ever there was any doubt, that in economic terms we are living in a multi-polar world, with new and emerging sources of trade, investment, and even aid. But there have also been other structural shifts in the past 10 years, most significantly involving surplus and deficit countries and regions. The pattern of global demand and output – in which US consumers accounted for roughly 16% of world output, and developing-country savers provided the credit lines that serviced US household debt – has proved deeply destabilizing and should not be resumed.

Replacing US demand cannot, however, be left to China alone, as is often assumed, given that China's rate of household consumption is in any case just one eighth that of the US. Moreover, an increase in Chinese consumption is likely to favour domestically produced goods and have less of an impact on imports. In such circumstances other surplus nations, in particular Germany and Japan, may have to rebalance their economies towards domestic consumption. This year's Trade and Development Report suggests that wage increases – albeit consistent with productivity gains – would support a move in that direction.

Over the past 20 years real wages have remained stagnant in many countries, including Germany, where productivity gains have tended to provide greater returns to capital. In developing countries, low wages have been the cornerstone of export-led growth, providing countries such as China with a competitive advantage in globalized markets and production chains. It is now time for countries such as China to encourage wage increases, and there are clear signs that this is already beginning to happen. UNCTAD believes that such pro-poor labour and wage policies will have an impact on several kinds of imbalances, at both the domestic and global levels.

A reduction in savings and the increase in wages – perhaps raising the price of exports – will also put an end to the subsidization of developed-country debt. UNCTAD's conclusion in this year's TDR is that wage increases and the provision of decent employment opportunities for the developing world's burgeoning labour force are essential for maintaining prosperity and avoiding a deflationary spiral.

Moreover, the large public deficits are the result of governments responding to corporate and market failure; banks and bondholders should now show patience with the unwinding of the resulting sovereign debt. Certainly, the re-emergence of speculative position-taking and the bonus culture in an industry that has perhaps become even more oligopolistic since the collapse of Lehman Brothers et al. is a step in the wrong direction.

Elsewhere, imbalances in areas such as food are also a source of serious concern for UNCTAD. On one hand, the problem is highly visible: some countries are facing an obesity epidemic even while they massively subsidize their agricultural sectors; others, meanwhile, are suffering famine and food insecurity. Yet we seem unable to comprehend the suffering of 1 in 6 of the world's population facing acute hunger, let alone the potential political and social insecurity confronting governments in those countries where household expenditure on food has risen to nearly three quarters of household budgets. As we know from countless historical precedents, not least the most recent in 2008, when people don't have enough food to eat, governments become particularly vulnerable and social and political instability ensue.

A low level of fixed capital investment in many developing countries is really a story for all sectors, where productive capacity has sometimes atrophied due to under-capitalization in the past 30 years. In agriculture, the picture for small farmers is particularly bad, not least because of the strategic importance of food for the welfare of citizens and for food security.

In the past 20 years, food and energy markets, and food and financial markets, have also become increasingly interlinked. The deregulation of commodities trading in the 1990s and the development of complex derivative products led to the increasing financialization of commodities and the development of food as a new asset class in its own right.

In general, inequality within, but also across, countries has been rising everywhere in the past 30 years, even as growth rates increased. In many cases, this has been associated with distorted economic structures, including the premature disappearance of industrial capacity. In Africa, by the end of the 1990s, the production structure was reminiscent of the colonial period, consisting overwhelmingly of agriculture and mining – that is, low value-added goods with decreasing returns to scale. Despite increases in commodity prices, the terms of trade for primary commodities today remain worse vis-à-vis manufactured goods and provide fewer opportunities for productivity increases or employment.

The economic crisis has represented a further transfer of wealth, as private debt was exchanged for public debt. Yet it is taxpayers and household savers – who cannot move their money easily, and who have pensions that are not easily liquidated – who are ultimately punished by having to finance corporate bailouts and endure public-sector cuts. The ultra-mobile super-rich have so far been able to protect their private affluence because of the inaction of governments and the G20 over income tax avoidance, or damaging currency speculation, such as the so-called "carry trade". It is time to close the tax havens and put a stop to the abuses of the privileges of wealth. Needless to say, this needs to be done in a coherent fashion to avoid arbitrage between tax jurisdictions, and the UN has made proposals on this in its report on the financial and economic crisis.

Over the past 10 years, the world has slipped into an "age of asymmetry", of destructive disequilibrium. This is a far cry from the promise of stable, sustainable and inclusive development that multilateralists and the UN in particular have always tried to promote. Almost everywhere one looks, one can see the pernicious effects of imbalances: between the widening incomes of rich and poor; between surplus and deficit countries; between agricultural subsidizers and food-insecure nations; between investor-exporter economies and between consumer-debtor countries; between market fundamentalism and the active intervention of the State, to mention only a few.

Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room is energy and sustainable development. Our work already risks overwhelming us, but we should not sacrifice our concern with long-term problems for the immediate pressures of short-term crises. Indeed, classifying the climate problem into its short- and long-term dimensions is no longer really appropriate; climate change and sustainable development should be at centre stage in our reflections about current and future economic strategies.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kuala Besut To Be Developed Into A Modern Tourist Town

It is about time that Kuala Besut, which is known as a fishing village and the staging point for people going to Pulau Perhentian, be developed into a modern tourist town under a special programme by 2015.

Kuala Besut Assemblyman Dr A Rahman Mokhtar said Kuala Besut was a popular destination among tourists for its fishing village and it also served as a centre for those going to Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Redang.

He said that based on statistics, Kuala Besut attracted between 70,000 and 80,000 foreign tourists every year."Now, Kuala Besut is being developed in stages, since a few years ago, by several government agencies, like MARA, the Malaysian Fisheries Development Board and the Besut District Council," he told reporters after flagging off a convoy of 53 taxis participating in a Malaysia Day parade on Thursday.

Dr A Rahman, who is the State Health, Consumer Affairs and Unity Committee chairman, said programmes were also carried out to encourage tourism industry players to be conversant in English."So far, about 80 per cent of them are now able to interact in English with foreign tourists," he added.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

International Peat Congress in 2016

SARAWAK will host the 15th International Peat Congress in 2016 (IPC2016) after Malaysia won the bid in Jyvaskyla, Finland, on June 16.

The five-day event scheduled for August 2016 is expected to generate revenue of over RM2.2mil for the local hospitality and tourism sector.

Some 700 national and international delegates are expected to converge at Kuching for the congress.

The winning bid gives credit to the collaborative efforts of the Malaysian Peat Society (MPS) and Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB).

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit, who is the MPS president and IPC2016 chairman, said: “We are pleased to win this bid for Malaysia since it will be the first time that this prestigious convention will be held outside Europe and North America. In securing the conference so early, we can draw on a wide international network to assist in the development and sustainable management of peat land and agricultural crops.”

MPS treasurer and IPC2016 congress secretary general Dr Lulie Meling said: “Travelling to Finland to bid for the conference was a truly memorable experience. We put so much effort into winning the bid together with SCB, which has been there for us from the early stage of the bidding process.”

“We presented to our colleagues in Finland the uniqueness of Sarawak, our amazing peat land, and the credibility and strengths of MPS.

“On behalf of the committee, I am honoured that the international decision-makers from around the globe accepted Malaysia’s bid especially since it faced strong competition from colleagues in Latvia,” she added.

SCB chief executive officer Jill Henry said: “Winning this prestigious event will add to the credibility of Sarawak as a preferred MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) destination and new hub for scientists and professional researchers to come together.”

SCB was thrilled with the win and would continue to assist other organisations prepared to bid nationally and internationally, she added

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Right To Lead

by John Maxwell

What gives a man or woman the right to lead? It certainly isn't gained by election or appointment. Having position, title, rank or degrees doesn't qualify anyone to lead other people. And the ability doesn't come automatically from age or experience, either.

No, it would be accurate to say that no one can be given the right to lead. The right to lead can only be earned. And that takes time.

The key to becoming an effective leader is not to focus on making other people follow, but on making yourself the kind of person they want to follow. You must become someone others can trust to take them where they want to go.

As you prepare yourself to become a better leader, use the following guidelines to help you grow:

Let go of your ego.
The truly great leaders are not in leadership for personal gain. They lead in order to serve other people. Perhaps that is why Lawrence D. Bell remarked, "Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things, and I'll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things."

Become a good follower first.
Rare is the effective leader who didn't learn to become a good follower first. That is why a leadership institution such as the United States Military Academy teaches its officers to become effective followers first - and why West Point has produced more leaders than the Harvard Business School.

Build positive relationships.
Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. That means it is by nature relational. Today's generation of leaders seem particularly aware of this because title and position mean so little to them. They know intuitively that people go along with people they get along with.

Work with excellence.
No one respects and follows mediocrity. Leaders who earn the right to lead give their all to what they do. They bring into play not only their skills and talents, but also great passion and hard work. They perform on the highest level of which they are capable.

Rely on discipline, not emotion.
Leadership is often easy during the good times. It's when everything seems to be against you - when you're out of energy, and you don't want to lead - that you earn your place as a leader. During every season of life, leaders face crucial moments when they must choose between gearing up or giving up. To make it through those times, rely on the rock of discipline, not the shifting sand of emotion.

Make adding value your goal.
When you look at the leaders whose names are revered long after they have finished leading, you find that they were men and women who helped people to live better lives and reach their potential. That is the highest calling of leadership - and its highest value.

Give your power away.
One of the ironies of leadership is that you become a better leader by sharing whatever power you have, not by saving it all for yourself. You're meant to be a river, not a reservoir. If you use your power to empower others, your leadership will extend far beyond your grasp.

You will hear from and read about people who have done these same things and earned the right to lead others. Because of the courage they found and the character they displayed, other people recognized their admirable qualities and felt compelled to follow them.

The followers who looked to these leaders learned from them, and so can we. As you explore their worlds and words, remember that it takes time to become worthy of followers. Leadership isn't learned or earned in a moment.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Tourism Minister Dato Dr Ng Yen Yen was in Shanghai Sunday officiating Malaysia Pavillion Day Celebration at the Shanghai EXPO Centre. Dr Ng was said to represent Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak at the event.

Speaking to the press she said her ministry was in the midst of introducing focus packaging and do away with general sight-seeing tour packages which include Singapore and Thailand.Tour packages have been re-designed and re-packaged to suit the Chinese tourists coming to Malaysia for shopping, delicious food, cultural heritage and adventure.

"China's tour operators are asked to develop focus products, such as to attract clans and associations and companies to hold annual gatherings and conventions in Malaysia, under the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions concept for tourism," said the minister.

Apart from the famous Malaysian pop singer Michael Wong (Guang Liang), renowned Malaysia Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Datuk Ooi Chean See has also been appointed Tourism Goodwill Ambassador for Germany and Europe to lure tourists, she added.

Ooi works with the equally-renowned Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, having put together a unique orchestral performance at the Shanghai Concert Hall, in conjunction with Malaysia's 53rd independence anniversary celebrations here Sunday night.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Malaysia Amongst Top 10 Tourist Destinations

Malaysia has emerged as one of the world’s top tourist destinations - in fact appearing in the top 10.

Both the public and private sectors have contributed towards the success of a nation many people would choose to ignore as a major tourism power.

In 1998, Malaysia welcomed 5.5 million foreign tourists. 11 years later, the situation has changed and that figure is over 18 million higher, despite the challenges to the tourism industry in recent years.

Last year, Malaysia jumped into the list of the top 10 world tourist destinations for a variety of reasons. This pleased Malaysian authorities very much particularly because tourism is the 2nd biggest foreign exchange earner in the country.

So what is the reason behind this huge success story?

There is not one single reason and the Malaysian boom has to be explained by numerous factors. The most impressive aspect of Malaysia is the way it is able to offer a multitude of cultures in one go.

The people of Malaysia are far from being uniform. The country is a mixture of religions, foods, colours and cultures. Whereas the huge metropolitan areas in western countries host different nations, which tend to adapt to local conditions, the Malaysian people have always preferred to remain the way they are.

A second factor is the availability of tours and flights. Flying to far away destinations has never been easy or cheap. Moreover, whilst many Southern European nations and other classic tourism giants suffer for various reasons, Malaysia is able to take advantage of wounded opponents.

Improved visa conditions for many nations have meant that more people are able to get to Malaysia than ever before and with a lot less hassle.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

No Food Into Australia

by Jamunah Ponniah

My sister, my best friend and I visited Perth last year in September after espying an irresistible offer from Air Asia. We hadn’t been to Australia before, so we trawled the Internet to find out about the weather, food, accommodation, etc.

We learnt that no food is allowed into Australia, especially not herbs and fruits. During our flight, we were given a form to declare whether we had any food with us. I ticked yes, my sister and my friend ticked no. When we reached the airport in Perth, they checked our forms and opened our bags.

My friend had brought a packet of Milo, which was a no-no. She tried to argue that Milo was not a food but a drink. My sister, who brought a few packets of ginger tea, also argued that it was dry stuff. As for me, they threw away my packet of Nestum.

My sister and my friend were given a warning letter at the airport for lying.
We grumbled in Bahasa Malaysia but it back fired on us. The staff there could speak fluent Bahasa Malaysia.

That really made us blush. We found out that they took courses in Bahasa Malaysia to communicate with Malaysians.

Later, when it was all behind us, we had a good laugh. What a way to start our holiday. Anyway, the 10 days we spent there was a good one. We are hoping to be back to Perth again but this time we will strictly follow the rules.

My sister framed her warning letter as a souvenir!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Many prefer to use own transport.

Three-quarters of hometown-bound Malaysians admitted in a public poll that private vehicles is the most preferred way to travel this Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

The online poll, which asked readers how they will be travelling home this festive holiday, saw 76.5% of voters picking car or motorcycle as their mode of transportation.

The poll ran for three days on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia blog and attracted 533 votes before it was closed late on Wednesday.

Travelling by air or bus showed close results at second and third placings, attracting 10.5% (56 votes) and 9.8% (52 votes) respectively.

The poll on also showed that few Malaysians opted to travel home by train, as this mode of transportation attracted only 17 votes.

PLUS Expressways Berhad corporate communications general manager Khalilah Talha concurred that the increasing number of Malaysians who owned private vehicles contributed to the congestion on major highways.

This is a trend observed every year in the mass balik kampung rush.

Khalilah also said “The congestion is made worse when everyone travels in the same direction at the same time. This is why PLUS issued a travel advisory to stagger the timings and to make travelling more comfortable for everyone."

Earlier, PLUS managing director Noorizah Abd Hamid said in a report that 1.4 million vehicles were expected to use the expressways two days before the start of Hari Raya.


Friday, September 10, 2010


We wish all our muslim watchdogs a very happy Hari Raya and may they be blessed by Allah swt for all the good things they have done during the holy month of Ramadhan.

1 syawal 1431

Move Ipoh airport elsewhere

The Government should not waste RM60mil to upgrade the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport but put the money to better use elsewhere as the airport has not contributed much to the growth of the city, said a special MCA committee gathering feedback for the proposed Ipoh Draft Local Plan 2020.

Committee deputy chairman San Chak Chun said the airport had instead hindered the development of the city as high-rise buildings could not be erected there.

“Under a ruling by the DCA (Department of Civil Aviation) buildings within the city area cannot be built higher than 130m above sea level. It has made clear that no buildings can hinder the flight path within the Kinta Valley."

San added that the RM60mil allocation approved by the Cabinet to extend the airport runway by 200m and upgrade the airport terminal, could be used for a new airport elsewhere.
He added that the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang Jaya had caused the value of property surrounding it to depreciate.

In the case of the Melaka Batu Berendam Airport some RM 200 million was spent to upgrade the airport which has now come to be another aviation white elephant. Planners should have been more professional in their study to ensure that money is not put in wasteful projects.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Danum Valley A World Heritage Site

The Sabah government is mulling the possibility of nominating Danum Valley in the east coast of Sabah as a World Heritage Site.

State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun said this reflected the state government's commitment to preserve Danum Valley - regarded as the Lost World of Borneo - given its almost undisturbed tropical rainforest and abundance of biodiversity.

On the progress of the state government's decision to nominate Maliau Basin in the south central part of Sabah as a World Heritage Site, Masidi said a technical committee had been formed to finalise details of that proposal to be forwarded to the Unesco World Heritage Centre for consideration.

The Maliau Basin, known as Sabah's Lost World, was declared a Sabah Foundation conservation area in 1981.In 1997, the state cabinet agreed to gazette the 588sq km site as a Protection Forest Reserve (Class 1).

Sabah currently has a World Heritage Site, namely the Kinabalu Park, where the 4,092-metre Mount Kinabalu is located.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Homestay info to go mobile

The promotion of homestay in Malaysia is going mobile with the launch of iPhone and Blackberry applications.

Developed by MoAd Technologies, the smartphone applications will incorporate global positioning system (GPS) enabled Google maps, photo galleries and even phrase book features.

MoAd Technologies said in a statement yesterday the multimedia applications would boost marketing efforts, and allow tourists easier access to information during their stay in the country.

“Smart phones have gained tremendous popularity. Indeed, it is the fastest growing mobile phone segment,” the statement said.

In an instructional video available at Tourism Malaysia’s homestay promotions website,, one of the coolest features demonstrated is the phrase book.

Users will be able to select sentences like, “Where is the closest eatery?” in English, and have the application voice it out in Bahasa Malaysia.

Adding more input and output languages are future possibilities.

Other features include entries on places of interests, coupled with GPS technology that allows turn-by-turn directions. It is worth pointing out the applications also include a built-in, video-calling feature.

The feature, which connects to the Tourism Ministry, allows prospective international clients to communicate directly with homestay operators visually.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Do more to promote local attractions

MATTA has been urged to do more to promote local attractions.

MATTA Fair in future should also promote tourist destinations in Perak, said senior state exco member Datuk Hamidah Osman.

She said although the fair was aimed at promoting destinations overseas, tour operators should also do more to promote local destinations such as eco-tourism in Belum and heritage trails.

Datuk Hamidah also reminded tourism players to help make Visit Perak Year in 2012 a success. “We will have seminars and meetings next year to promote Visit Perak Year 2012,” she said.

She was speaking while launching the MATTA Fair 2010 organised by the MATTA Perak Chapter at Dewan Leong Wan Chin in SMJK Perempuan Ipoh from Friday till yesterday.

Fair organising secretary Aminurrashid Abas said the event had been successfully organised for the last nine years. He said MATTA fairs had proven to be Malaysia ’s number one travel fair.

Exhibitors took up all the 80 exhibition booths in this year’s fair. Aminurrashid estimated that some 30,000 people thronged the fair during the three days.

Monday, September 6, 2010


As the e-book market starts becoming more mainstream, some electronic titles are beginning to outsell their paper versions. Because of these rapid developments, traditional paper publishers are quickly developing e-versions of their popular publications.

Lonely Planet, one of the biggest names in travel publishing just released their first five e-books to the Apple iBooks store. Their Discover guides are available for Great Britain, Italy, Spain, France and Ireland.

Unlike some static e-books, the Lonely Planet Discover guides have been completely recreated with a variety of interactive features. The guides offer over 3000 hyperlinks, detailed maps, bookmark, note and highlight options as well as hundreds of images.

Of course, you'll need an iPad to enjoy the guide, and walking down the streets of Paris while staring at your iPad may not be the best idea, but it should make pre-planning and planning from your hotel room much easier.

Best of all, because the content is stored locally, you won't burn through expensive international cellular data or WiFi to access information.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


A wife says to husband, "Today is your son's birthday. We still need to get him a present. What should we get?"

The husband says to his wife, "Well, what does he want?"

The wife replies, "He wants a watch!"

"OK, tell him tonight we'll let him."

Saturday, September 4, 2010


A beautiful, well-dressed blonde seats herself in the first class cabin on a cross-country flight, and settles herself in for the trip, smiling prettily at admiring passengers seated around her.

Underway, a flight attendant soon approaches the blonde and says, 'Miss, I'm sorry, but I see that your ticket is for coach, and you're seated in first class; I'm afraid you'll have to move.'

The blonde replies, 'I'm blonde, and I'm beautiful, and I'm going to New York to be a model.'

Slightly incredulous, the attendant alerts the senior flight attendant.

The senior attendant approaches the blonde and says, politely, 'I'm sorry, Miss, but since your ticket is for coach, you'll have to move back.'

The blonde replies, sweetly, 'I'm blonde, and I'm beautiful, and I'm going to New York to be a model' -- and shows no signs of moving.

Frustrated, the senior attendant informs the captain, and he says he'll deal with the problem.

He turns over flight control, walks to the rear, and observes the blonde seated comfortably in first class.

Approaching her with a smile, the captain leans over and speaks quietly into the blonde's ear. Almost immediately, the blonde gathers her things, gets up, and moves quickly to the coach compartment. Amazed, the senior flight attendant asks the captain, 'Captain, I'm impressed ... what did you say to her?'

The captain grinned slyly and said, 'I just told her that the first class cabin doesn't go to New York.'

Friday, September 3, 2010

Malaysian blogger faces jail over satirical post

A Malaysian journalist was charged Thursday over a satirical blog which made fun of Tenaga National, and faces a year's jail if convicted.

Irwan Abdul Rahman, a 36-year-old sub-editor with a Malay-language daily, pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court to a charge of posting a fictitious comment.

He was accused of "intent to hurt" over the posting, entitled "TNB to sue WWF over Earth Hour" which jokingly said Tenaga would take action over the World Wildlife Fund's annual energy-saving initiative.

In an entry earlier this week, Irwan said on his blog that he was hoping "for cool heads and a developed sense of humour to prevail".

He has deleted the offending item, which he said was merely "a stupid joke that does no one harm".

Malaysia's opposition condemned the prosecution as "not only harsh but ridiculous".

Does this mean a satire or a joke is now illegal in Malaysia? What has become of our country?

Malaysia had a great tradition of satire, which was also used in the independence struggle against British colonial rule, and that the government must respect freedom of expression.

Irwan's prosecution has caused a stir because unlike the mainstream press, the web and online media in Malaysia have remained relatively free, despite occasional raids, bans and government criticism.

Major newspapers and broadcasters are closely linked with the ruling coalition, so the Internet has become a lively forum for dissent and debate.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Malaysia has been ranked 13th in a global survey conducted to gauge travel freedom enjoyed by the citizens of various countries.

Britain, Denmark and Sweden topped the list with scores of 166, 164 and 163 respectively.

The index ranked countries according to the visa-free access its citizens enjoy to other countries, Henley & Partners said on its website.

Malaysia, with a score of 151, was ranked above countries and territories such as Liechtenstein, Hong Kong, Brazil, South Africa, Monte­negro, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, India, Egypt and China.

Henley & Partners said it had analysed the visa regulations of all countries and territories in the world.

“This is the first time that a global ranking shows the international travel freedom of the citizens of the various countries, as well as the international relations and status of individual countries relative to others,” it said.

The company noted that in today’s globalised world, visa restrictions played an important role in controlling the movement of foreign nationals across borders.

“Almost all countries now require visas from certain non-nationals who wish to enter their territory,” it added.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New budget terminal to be completed by April 2012

Due to be completed in April 2012 the new budget terminal will cost more than 2.5 billion ringgit (800 million dollars), officials said at a ground-breaking ceremony Monday.

Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad, Managing Director of Malaysian Airports Berhad which runs most of the nation's airports, said the date was later than an earlier target of end-2011 because of delays in building the runway on marshy palm oil plantations.

He said that although the cost of construction was put at 2.5 billion ringgit, "it could be more than that so we will see."

Tan Sri Bashir said the new terminal would be the biggest dedicated low-cost terminal in Asia with a floorspace of 237,132 square metres and able to handle 30 million passengers annually.

It is located less than two kilometres from the main Kuala Lumpur International Airport terminal, much closer than the current budget terminal which is a 10-minute drive away.

The main tenant by far is AirAsia, the Malaysia-based pioneer in regional budget travel which fought a long battle with airport authorities over the design and facilities of the new terminal.

AirAsia founder and CEO Dato Seri Tony Fernandes welcomed the start of work on the new terminal and said the carrier would have to accept the delay in completion.

"There's nothing we can do about it. We have to live with it. Of course we would have liked it much earlier, we did feel that the soil was going to be a little bit of a problem but we will make do."

Fernandes said his carrier had been given a guarantee that airport charges at the new terminal would not rise. He said the planned delivery of new aircraft would not be deferred as they could be redeployed to its Indonesian and Thai operations.