Sunday, February 26, 2006

PULAU KETAM





*By Wendy*

PULAU KETAM

Pulau Ketam, literally translated, means "crab island". It is a small island located off the coast of Klang. The island is easily accessible from the Port Klang jetty by ferry.

Getting There:

If from KL SENTRAL KTM station, it takes about 1 hours to reach the Port Klang terminal, then you will see the jetty a few meter away. If you are driving from KL, easily use Federal Highway, and follow the sign board to Port Klang (South Port).

Car parks are available at KTM Terminal, in front of the police station and private company's parking lots which charges RM3 for the whole day. Ferry services are available everyday. The journey takes about 30 minutes.

The fare is RM6 for one-way. The first ferry leaves Port Klang at 8:45am; and last ferry leaves the island at 6:00pm on Monday to Saturday and Sunday at 6:30pm.

History of the island:

Long time ago, Pulau Ketam was desolated, small island full of "Mangrove Swamps" amd famous for its crabs. Three Hainan fishermen from Bagan Hainan, Port Klang, were the first to arrive at Pulau Ketam catching crabs for their living. At first, they came and returned to Port Klang daily. The journey took almost a day.

A few month later, they built a small house to stay over nights. They rowed back to Port Klang the second day selling crabs and buying daily sundries on return. In 1872, they built a temple named "Chuan Eng Bio" located near Jalan Timur now. after that, they had decided to stay permanently.

Population

Basically, Pulau Ketam are two villages in this island. They are Pulau Ketam village, and Sungai Lima village, separated by forest. No roads are available to link each others. The Main transporation is by boat. The population in Pulau Ketam village reached its peak of about 20 thousends in 1980's.

The villagers consisted of Teochew, Hokkien and some Hainnanse. Currently the population is less than 8,000. This is due to many of the younger generation moving over to the main island to work or starting a business; or to further their education.

Lifestyle:

Majority of the population here are fishermen. If you want to see them unload their daily catch, then stay after 4:00pm as this is the time one can see the fishing trawler coming back one by one.

Day Trip: Saturday 25th.February 2006

After months of my initial promise to bring my friends to this 'House on Stilts' , I've finally made good that promise and away we go on the recent fine sunny Saturday morning. Temperature soaring around 34 degrees Celcius. With me are my old friends from school, eager and excited like the school kids of yesteryears.

Following the highways with the signage of Pulau Selatan (South Port), we reached the ferry terminal just around noon time. Found the uncovered parking lot, just couple of minutes walk away from the terminal.

"Gosh..it's hot"; screams out one of them. "Remember to wear your sunglasses"; says the other.

The parking fees are RM3.00 for the whole day, comparatively cheap on today's living standard.

Looking around the terminal, it shows some signs of 'wear and tear' after the many years of usage. Many small fishing boats are tied on small poles on the murky water. It's low tide at this time of the day so the view around the terminal are not very pleasant to looked at the moment.

The hustle and bustle of the ferry can be seen with the many Indonesian workers and their heavy loads returning to their country. The South Port also caters for passengers to Indonesia besides to Pulau Ketam.

On one side of the passenger's terminal is the container's terminal, long rows of containers are slowly been lifted up by crane to container ships. Port Klang is ideally placed to capitalise on the domestic and international markets.

As we walked towards the boarding platform, we were wondering where to purchase our tickets. We finally realised that the tickets are to be bought on board the ferry. No clear sign to indicate which ferry we are supposed to board.

But no worries just a simple smile and hello will ensure the person standing next to you, will show you on the right ferry to board.

After 10 minutes of waiting, the ferry finally arrives. It resembles more of a long speedboat than the big ferry boat of those that services the Butterworth-Penang Island route.

We found seats on the front end, which is much more cooler since the aircond hole( and I meant a kind of tube hole) are located at the front end of the boat. The lifejackets are hanging on the side panel. There is even television inside the fery to keep the passengers entertain while they wait out the departure time. Too bad, the selection of show at that time was a wrestling match between 'The Undertaker' and 'The Giant' (or something which sound like that).

15 minutes passed with the boat nearly in full capacity, the sound of the roaring engine can be heard and we are off on our way. The windows cannot be open and need some cleaning but the air-conditioning was good as the boat are kept cool. Of course the smell of stale, fishy air is not your everyday perfume and takes some getting used to. Luckily the journey to the island is less than 30 minutes.

As I glanced to the back, I can make out maybe around ten tourists including the four of us. The rest are returning residence with their bags of goods from the main island. Ikea plastic bags can be seen at the front end of the boat. Hmm...looks liked Ikea goods have made their way to this sleepy fishing village.

We passed through some mangrove swamps and the ferry ride was pretty smooth with the occasional bump of the waves. The chattering sound of the passengers are kept on the high to overcome the noisy sound of the engines. Everyone seems to know each other as they talk or should I say shout to each other inside the cabin area. It's hard to make out their conversation as it is a good mix of Mandarin and Teochew.

Before we knew it, just around the corner of the last mangrove swamp....there it was, in the distance which are clearly visible from our small window pane....the village 'house on stilts'.

Fishing trawlers are parked in front of the stilt houses. Some of the fishermen are cleaning their boats while others are repairing their nets. We have not reach Pulau Ketam yet as this is the Sungei Lima village. These two villages are separated by forest. No roads are available to link each and others. The Main transporations is boat.

The next stop is our stop, Pulau Ketam. We are greeted by the long white jetty with blue roof. As we walked up the concrete steps, two rows of bicycles are parked around the area. Bicycle or bicycle equiped with moto called "moto-cycle" locally are the major transports used. The moto-cycles are registered with the registration plate 'PK' (which stands for Pulau Ketam).

At the end of the jetty is the biggest restaurant of the village, 'Restaurant Lok Hian' and also the Sea Lion Hotel in pink. Bicycles for rent sign are prominently displayed so one need not look far if they are interested to rent one to ride around the village.

After 50 meters away, we have arrived at the 'main street'. So called because because this area is the commercial portion of the village. Restaurants on both sides calling out to us to savour their seafood dishes. Name cards are handled to us as we walked passed them, urging and persuading us to go in to their restaurants.....with the main dish attraction, what else but the live 'crabs'. Another famous dish of the island is the 'O-Chien' or in English we called it fried oyster with eggs. As we had quite a heavy breakfast, we decided to walk around first before going for lunch.

Sudries shops selling basic goods and also fresh vegetables are available here at the 'main street'. A local bank, the Maybank with ATM is set in the middle of the section of the street. There's also a police station( it's hard to imagined the existence of any hardcore criminal in this island with no route to escape except by boat).

The main street is less than 100 meters, so it took us merely a few minutes to walk from the commercial to the private residential area.

The main temple of the island, Hock Leng Keng temple separate the main street from the residential area. There is a stage in front of the temple for opera shows and mini concert during the 28th.of the 4th.Chinese lunar calender month , and also during the 'Hungry Ghost Festival in the 7th.month of the lunar calender.

The temple looks as if it has been recently given a new coat of paint so it looks brand new. The dragon inspired columns are the main design of the temple, plus the waves like roof with dragons and fishes. No doubt these are carefully chosen for it's auspicious meanings to the Chinese. Two big paintings of the 'Men Shen' (literally means 'Door Gods' in Mandarin) are painted on the walls besides the entrance to the temple hall.

Origins of Door Gods
( as stated on wikipedia)

Qin Qiong and Weichi Jingde - Qin Qiong (also known as Qin Shubao) has pale skin, usually carries swords; Weichi Jingde (also known as Weichi Gong) has dark skin and usually carries batons. Qin and Weichi (aka Yuchi Jingde), in a Tang dynasty lengend, were told by the emperor to guard the door because of a ghost harrasing him, thus resulting in sleepless nights. When Qin and Weichi were called, they guarded the emperor's door. Thus, the emperor had a blissful sleep. The next day, the emperor, not wanting to trouble his two generals, called on men to hang portraits of the two men.

A couple of old caretakers selling joss sticks and candles are seen sitting on the temple's bench. While the temple offer us a temporary reprieve from the sun, I could do with a nice cold drink.

The residential part of the village are a good mix of modern and old stilt houses. Some of them are fitted with aircondioning units and built from cements and bricks, while next to it is the timber type of stilt houses.

The houses are quite long and of standard size. At the back portion of the house is where their boats are berth, exactly like our car porch and also the area where they sort out their 'catch', drying them under the sun to be made into dried prawns, salted fish, dried anchovies, scallops etc.

According to the history of the island from their own 'Pulau Ketam webpage', there were two big fire. The first one was in the year 1967 when Pulau Ketam was caught by fire which destroyed more than 80 houses. In 1972 fire stuck again and destroyed more than 100 houses and shop lots.

In conjuction with these tragedies, villagers formed up Pulau Ketam Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1972 to safe guard their own properties.

There is another old temple located at the back of the village, which we chose not to venture further since the weather are too hot and humid for us. We can see it from afar, the temple are similar to one of the timber stilt houses.

One of my friend called out, "look up in the sky", a few eagles were flying just couple of hundreds meters above us. When suddenly, one of them came swooping down, snatching the fish from the water's surface with it's powerful feet. It must be one of our lucky day to be able to watch God's creation at work.

We decided to walked back towards the main street and to look for a place to have our lunch as the heat of the sun is getting too much for us. We decided on the biggest restaurant located at the jetty as it is a much better ventilated place compared to the rest, plus it also offer us a better view of our returning ferry which is scheduled at 3:15pm. We have around 45 minutes for lunch as my watch indicates 2:30pm.

After much deliberation with the owner, we decided on 'catfish', bamboo clams, fishball (locally made) soups and also hot plate tofu with mixed vegetables. The dishes came out in large sizes as we have forgotten to mentioned that we want the smallest size for each dish. So ensure you inform them while ordering or you'll end up liked us, having to waste the food as it is really too much for four of us. I would say that the large sizes are good for 6 persons.

The bill came up to RM57.00 including soft drink and a pot of Chinese tea. I would say that the price is cheap if let's say we have the same meal in Kuala Lumpur, it would at least cost us around RM80.00. Taste wise, eatable but not outstanding. But the seafoods were fresh, so who is complaining after all it's good value for what we had and much more.
For some of you who wish to do a trip to the fishing farm nearby, you can enquire from any of the shops. There is a tour operator which you can book on the spot at the island. There is a homestay programme at the fishing farm with the price of a steamboat dinner included in the package.

To sum up the trip to Pulau Ketam, I would say that it offers the city folk a good weekend break from their busy lifestyle with a chance to spend a different kind of experience with their family.

The short day trip, took us less than 4 hours from the start of our journey from home and back.

All in all, we went back in 'time' to feel rejuvenate again. So instead of spending your weekends at the shopping mall, make a trip to Pulau Ketam....the island with 'houses on stilts', where three Hainanese fishermen first make their living from catching crabs.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bario: Land Of The Friendly Kelabits


By Harlina Samson

BARIO, Feb 22 (Bernama) -- Bario, which means "wind" in Kelabit, is a remote plateau in Sarawak's northeast that stands at about 1,150m above sea level.

Almost entirely surrounded by densely-forested highlands, some rising to as high as 2,400m above sea level including Sarawak's highest peak Mount Murud, the air over Bario is always cool.

The temperature ranges between 16 and 25 degrees Celsius. However on some occasions it can dip to as low as 11 degrees and it is advisable to wear some warm clothing as it can be very "unpleasant" as the evening approaches.

Bario is about 50 minutes by air from Miri or 40 minutes from Marudi. Malaysia Airlines, via its Rural Air Service, operates nine flights a week to Bario from Miri and Marudi, using the 19-seater Twin Otter aircraft.

Another way to reach this valley of the highlands is a tortuous journey through leech and mosquito-infested jungles from Marudi, Bario's closest town or Ba'Kelalan, which is about 60km away.

HOME OF INDUSTRIOUS KELABITS

The Bario plateau is the home of the highly industrious Kelabits and the source of the highly popular, sweet aroma and high fibre Bario rice apart from the area's "signature" sweet and sugary pineapples.

A brief stay in a longhouse in Pa' Bangar, owned by Muslim convert Mustapha Raja, gave some insight into a Kelabit family's daily routine.

Mustapha's daughter Zaharah or Bulan as she is fondly known among the local community and her elder brother, Abdul Halim or Ben are busy with their daily chores.

This means taking orders and supplying rations for a nearby army camp and school, getting provisions from the airstrip and harvesting pineapples before sending the tropical fruits to Miri and nearby settlements.

"This is our routine. Most of the time I would be around here, carrying out my father's tasks as he is always on the move to Marudi, Ba' Kelalan, Miri and nearby areas," said the 29-year-old mother of two daughters, whose husband is working in Miri as a diver.

Abdul Halim, 30, said despite Bario's remoteness and under development, the Kelabits are happy and contented with the valley's natural beauty and feel that it should not be disturbed.

LAND OF HARDSHIP

"It may be a land of hardship as there is no proper roads ... we have an unsurfaced route which is only good enough for light motorised vehicles, enabling the people to reach the schools, shops and airstrip as well as areas as far as Pa' Umor and Pa' Ukat," he said.

However basic amenities are available in this valley. There are two schools, a clinic, an immigration office and a police station manned by skeleton staff as well as 12 shops, wet market and food stalls.

There are three pay phones that can be used to make calls during emergencies -- one at the airstrip and the other two at a shop and the secondary school. There is also a public phone that can only receive calls.

Abdul Halim said as there is no public transport in Bario, pick-up trucks are used to transport goods while motorcycles are the preferred choice of locals to move around. Most longhouses and the two schools use portable diesel or petrol-powered electric generators for lighting while others use solar panels as there is no power supply in Bario.

FRIENDLINESS OF KELABITS

For newcomers, they could feel the warmth and friendliness exuding from the Kelabits, as early as when they set foot at the Bario airstrip. And one may have the impression that they are not among strangers after seeing the smiles and greetings from the villagers.

Going around Bario's villages namely Ulung Palang, Pa' Ramapuh, Arur Layun, Arur Dalan and Pa' Umor, everyone met would stop to say hello while those riding motorcycles would raise their hands or nod their heads as a sign of greetings and courtesy.

A hospitable and friendly person is highly respected and valued by the Kelabits, said Zaharah, adding that the locals consider it rude if hospitality is not offered to any longhouse visitor."... and members of the community are expected to at least greet one another," she said. The Kelabits are one of the state's 26 ethnic groups.

Bario community leader Pemanca Ngimat Ayu, 84, said there are more than 6,000 Kelabits in Sarawak and about 1,500 are in Bario. The rest have sought better life in the petroleum-producing town of Miri.Ngimat said most of those living in Bario are from the older generation, easily recognisable as they bear the traditional Kelabit tattoos, elongated and pierced earlobes as well as heavy brass or hornbill-ivory earrings.

One of them is Maran Ratu, 94. He is still strong and commutes regularly on foot to the town from his Ulung Palang longhouse.

WALK FOR HOURS

"I can still walk for hours," said Maran Ratu, sporting a wide grin while showing his elongated and pierced earlobes, apart from the heavy brass earrings.Ngimat said the younger men and women have forsaken the Kelabit tradition of having tattoos and pierced ear lobes. Nowadays they are only noticed as Kelabits when they speak their mother tongue.

The Kelabits live in individual houses or longhouses in 17 villages and most of them plant paddy, pineapples, pumpkins, beans and other tropical fruits. They are also good hunters and fishermen.They are predominantly Christians, with many of them still leading their traditional way of life in inherited longhouses.

There are three Muslim families, including Zaharah's.Bario's strongpoint, apart from its natural beauty, is the friendliness and hospitality of the Kelabits, making the valley a "must visit" place for tourists in Sarawak.In a month, there are about 20 to 30 visitors in Bario and this number swells to hundreds during peak seasons.

E-BARIO

Bario's remoteness seems to work more to its advantages than the otherwise. It is the site of the "e-Bario" cyberspace programme, Sarawak's pilot Rural Internet Project to link the state's remote areas to the rest of the world.

The e-Bario, launched five-years ago, is a project under the collaboration of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Canadian Government's International Development Research Council (IDRC) and Mimos Berhad.As part of the Government's e-community initiative, e-Bario is an attempt to get rural settlements connected.

Housed in the Gatuman-Bario telecentre, the effort is a huge success but is continously plagued by power problems due to irregular supply of diesel.Last year's price hike of gasoline had brought more misery to Bario folks as petrol, diesel and kerosene are sold at RM32 a gallon or RM8 a litre. To further compound the hardship, the fuel is always in short supply.The cost of living in Bario is very high as all the necessities have to be flown in and this made their prices to "triple".

Sugar is sold at RM4.50 a kg, while a 14kg cylinder of cooking gas is priced at a "whopping" RM120 to RM180 (inclusive of the cylinder). Hence, the traditional way of cooking is still very much alive in Bario.

ECO-TOURISM HAVEN

The hardship aside, Bario offers a different kind of living experience to outsiders and tourists.Owner of De Plateu Lodge, Douglas Munney Bala said Bario is fast gaining a reputation as a tourist destination.

Munney said tourism provide a good source of income for the locals who are hired as guides for tourists who wished to venture to Bario's exotic spots such as the Pa' Umur salt springs, Pulung Tau, Batu Lawi and Mount Murud.

Tourists can experience activities such as jungle trekking, sports fishing and hunting, sight-seeing, longhouse visits, longboat trips and traditional farming.

"It is a great retreat for those from the urban areas who seek a serene atmosphere apart from tranquility and relaxation," he said.

There are several lodging houses adopting the Kelabit longhouse homestay style namely the Bariew Backpacker Lodge, Labang Homestay, De Plateu Lodge and several others. For tourists and adventure-seekers, Bario is an eco-tourism haven not to be missed.

-- BERNAMA

*photo source and more on Bario : http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Vines/6980/bario_1a.html *

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Formula One Malaysia Grand Prix



Sepang Circuit
Location: Pekeliling KLIA, Malaysia
Date: 17-19 March 2006
Lap distance: 5.543 m
Laps: 56
Race Distance: 310.408 km
Track Record: 1:34.223 J-P. Montoya (Williams), 2004

The Sepang F1 International Circuit is the venue used for the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix, A1 Grand Prix as well as the MotoGP Malaysian Grand Prix. It is also used as a venue for many other major motorsport events.

Widely regarded as a benchmark for other Grand Prix venues, the Sepang circuit boasts superb pit garage and media facilities, as well as impressive grandstands and patron amenities. Some complaints have been raised as regards to the unevenness of the surface, as the track appears to be slowly sinking. This is possibly due to the fact that Sepang was built on the site of a former swamp.

The circuit was designed by renowned German designer Hermann Tilke, who would subsequently design the impressive new facilities in Shanghai and Bahrain.

The main circuit, normally raced in a clockwise direction, is 5.54 kilometres long, and is noted for its sweeping corners and wide straights. The layout is quite unusual, with a very long back straight separated from the pit straight by just one very tight hairpin.

Other configurations of the Sepang circuit can also be used. The north circuit is also raced in a clockwise direction. It is basically the first half of the main circuit. The course turns back towards the pit straight after turn 6 and is 2.71 kilometres long in total.

The south circuit is the other half of the racecourse. The back straight of the main circuit becomes the pit straight when the south circuit is in use, and joins onto turn 8 of the main circuit to form a hairpin turn. Also run clockwise, this circuit is 2.61 km in length.

Sepang International Circuit also features kart racing and motocross facilities.


*source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sepang_International_Circuit*

Sunday, February 19, 2006

PUTERI GUNUNG LEDANG-THE MUSICAL

For those who wants to spend a different kind of evening, the PGL Musical is now playing at Istana Budaya. The sypnosis as appear on it's website with details can be found below. So why not spend a unique evening at the theater for a change.
http://www.pglthemusical.com.my/index.html

The legend comes alive


They are the legends that every Malaysian child knows by heart: Hang Tuah, the greatest Malay warrior, and Puteri Gunung Ledang, mystical keeper of the mists. And now Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical brings to life the beloved tale that is as old as time with a burst of theatrical magic.

Bring someone you love to experience the enchantment of an unforgettable performance that will delight the soul and excite the senses!

A musical spectacular

Majestic kings, dazzling damsels, heroic warriors. See the glory of 15th Century Melaka unfold before your very eyes. Breathtaking sets, resounding chorus lines, pulsating rhythms and spirited contemporary choreography combine in a fury of staggering imagination to bring you a night to remember.

Be immersed in the soaring love story between an invincible warrior and the beauty who tamed his heart. Feel the pain of two yearning souls. And then wonder at the dilemma tearing them apart between loyalty and desire as the sweeping award-winning epic is stunningly adapted live on stage.

A feast for the senses

Let the music move you with an unforgettable score composed by Dick Lee, the Andrew Lloyd Webber of the East, and Roslan Aziz, Malaysia’s magical maestro.

Together, they have produced a beguiling soundscape that is at once traditional and modern.
Marvel at the magnificent sets that rumble into place. Then be thrilled by the intricate choreography that weaves more than 50 actors on stage in perfect coordination. With clockwork precision, the elements come together to bring you a truly immersive experience.

Treat yourself and your friends and family to an awe-inspiring memory that will last a lifetime!


Dates: February 7 & 8 – Previews @ 8.30pm RM30 (Student, veteran, disabled)
February 9 to 26 – Show Dates @ 8.30pm (normal price)
February 12, 19 & 26 – Matinees @ 3.00pm (normal price)

Tickets:
RM150, RM100, RM70, RM50 & RM30

Venue: Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur

Box Office: 03-4026 5558

Booking Website: www.ticket2u.biz

Tickets available at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur.

For more information, please call/fax ticket2u.biz at 03-4026 5558

Email: production@enfiniti.com.my or visit www.pglthemusical.com.my

Saturday, February 18, 2006

VMY 2007 Logo



The Visit Malaysia Year 2007 (VMY 2007) logo design is a stylized illustration of the hibiscus or Bunga Raya , Malaysia 's national flower.

It is found in abundance throughout the country and was originally chosen as the national flower in 1960 by the nation's first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.

There are many varieties of hibiscus but the Hibiscus rosa sinensis was selected as its five petals symbolize the five principles of nationhood ( Rukunegara ) in Malaysia .

In the VMY 2007 logo, the word ‘ Malaysia ' is written in freehand to conform with the overall design of the existing ‘Malaysia Truly Asia' tagline while presenting a liberal nation and its accommodating population.

It is intended to portray the prevailing sense of casualness and lack of formality in the country that often impresses many visitors.

The red heart-shaped petal is symbolic of the people of Malaysia welcoming the world with open arms and hearts. This is reinforced with the ‘M' surround as well as being the primary petal of the design.

The five dots of the stamen represent the country's fifty years of independence and reinforce Tourism Malaysia 's existing corporate logo. The imagery also denotes Malaysia 's rising prominence in the region as a modern nation as well as indicating hope and happiness.

The colourful VMY 2007 logo has five petals in different pastel colours: red, orange, yellow, blue and green.

•The red represents the vitality, openness and hospitality for which Malaysians are well known.

•The orange stands for warm, tropical holidays in the country all year round.

•The yellow symbolises our constitutional monarchy, belief in God, and the rule of law which contribute to the nation's socio-economic and political stability.

•The blue represents clear and friendly tropical skies, our rich, warm seas and endless hours of fun and recreation.

•The green conveys our rich tropical, natural heritage, the million year-old rainforests and the vast biodiversity and ecosystems that we have to offer in abundance to the world.

The red outline of the five petals of the hibiscus provides visual cohesion and indicates the shared vision that binds all Malaysians together as a united nation living in mutual peace and harmony in a multi-racial context. It can also be construed as a shared thread of blood.

The VMY 2007 logo carries the slogan ‘celebrating 50 glorious years' to highlight the golden anniversary of our independence. It carries with it the idea of self governance and freedom.


For more information on the logo, please contact :
Mrs Hashimah Nik Jaafar
Head of Secretariat Visit Malaysia Year2007
22nd Floor Menara Dato Onn,
Putra World Trade Centre,
45 Jalan Tun Ismail,50480 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel : 03 2693 7111 (ext; 718, 713, 707, 706)
Fax : 03 2691 1272

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

New Tourism Minister-Tengku Adnan

*From Bernama news source*

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 (Bernama) -- Former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, who was excluded from the Cabinet in the reshuffle in 2004, has been appointed as Tourism Minister.

The Member of Parliament for Putrajaya was appointed to replace Datuk Dr Leo Michael Toyad who was not retained in the Cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Tuesday.

Tengku Adnan, 56, who is also chairman of the Federal Territories Umno Liaison Committee, was made a Senator in 2000 before being appointed Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in 2001, He was later appointed into the Cabinet as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in 2002.

When asked to comment on his appointment today, Tengku Adnan said he was thankful to the Prime Minister for his trust in reappointing him as a Cabinet minister.

"I will meet the Prime Minister soon to seek his views to improve the (Tourism) Ministry," he told Bernama.

He said he knew of his appointment through the announcement by the Prime Minister which was carried live by TV3, adding that he would also meet Toyad to seek clarification on all ongoing as well as future programmes undertaken by the ministry in developing the country's tourism industry.

Tengku Adnan, who first became involved in politics at the age of 19 when he held the post of Setapak Umno Youth head, was elected a member of the Umno Supreme Council (MT) in 1993 but failed to defend his post in the 1996 Umno election.However, he was again elected into the Umno MT in 2004.

He had also held the post of Umno executive secretary in 1999 and resigned from the post in 2004.In the 2004 general election, Tengku Adnan beat the Parti Keadilan candidate Abdul Rahman Othman with a 3,546-vote majority for the Putrajaya parliamentary constituency.

Friday, February 10, 2006

MSC-News Update



KL Sentral awarded Cybercentre status
By MALCOLM ROSARIO
February 10 2006


KUALA Lumpur Sentral, a mixed development that also houses a transport hub, has been awarded the “Cybercentre” status under an agreement signed with the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) yesterday.

The Cybercentre status simply means that MSC-status companies based within Kuala Lumpur Sentral will enjoy the same advantages as companies based in Cyberjaya and Penang Cybercity.
“Kuala Lumpur Sentral’s new status is significant as the Government is now making available the benefits and incentives of the MSC-status to ICT companies based in Kuala Lumpur,” said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis.

He said the launching of KL Sentral as a Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Cybercentre marks a significant milestone in the growth of MSC and dissemination of the information and communications technology (ICT) industry to the rest of the country.

Kuala Lumpur Sentral is the exclusive urban centre built around Malaysia’s largest transit hub, offering global connectivity, investment opportunities, business convenience and an international lifestyle.

The agreement awarding MSC Cybercentre status to Kuala Lumpur Sentral was signed by MDC chief executive officer Badlisham Ghazali and Kuala Lumpur Sentral Sdn Bhd chief executive officer, Chan Chee Meng.

The signing was witnessed by Jamaludin.Kuala Lumpur Sentral is already home to many ICT companies, and with the new Cybercentre status, some of these companies have the option of applying for MSC-status.

MSC-status is awarded to both local and foreign companies that develop or use multimedia technologies to produce or enhance their products and services for process development.

Applicants must meet the qualifying criteria and successful companies must observe the conditions attached to the MSC-status recognition, which include being located in MSC-designated areas.

MSC-status companies based in Kuala Lumpur Sentral will enjoy all the bill of guarantees extended to MSC-status companies based in Cyberjaya, with the exception of two — the MSC flagship applications and the infrastructure guarantee.

The tendering out of MSC flagship applications will only be done to MSC-status companies in Cyberjaya while infrastructure in commercial centres is based on the best endeavour of the centres.

*source:BusinessTimes*

**MSC Status Companies as of Feb.9 2006: 1,439**

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Statue of Lord Murugan


Grand feat

By A. LETCHUMANAN
*source:thestar.com.my*

Gazing at the magnificent 42.7m-high statue of Lord Murugan at Batu Caves, Selangor, artisan and sculptor R. Thiyagarajan still has trouble believing that his team’s three years of sweat and toil have come to fruition.

It is believed to be the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world and the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple officials are aiming to get it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The RM2.5mil statue is expected to pull in even more local and foreign tourists to the popular Batu Caves which already draws about 2,000 people daily.

Lord Murugan, also known as Subramanya, Skanda and Kartikkeya, among others, is popular among the Saivite Hindus of south India and is regarded as a protector of their culture and language.

Thiyagarajan, 42, from Trivarur, in Tamil Nadu, India, and his team of 14 workers began work after receiving a call from temple chairman R. Nadarajah.

The challenge was getting the statue’s proportions right.

“The statue is divided into nine-and-a-half portions from the head to the feet. Each portion is accurately measured and these measurements must be very precise,” he told The Star.

It is made up of 1,550cu.m of concrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and 300 litres of gold paint. The foundation reaches 3.04m (10ft) underground.

“We had to work within a small area, lining up the bricks because of the scaffolding and the cover for the statue,” he said, adding that the carved garland and the vel (spear) were each 27.4m (90ft) long.

“Our main goal was to make sure the statue was free of flaws,” he said.

Thiyagarajan is no stranger to creating Hindu deity statues in Malaysia. He helped construct the Mariamman Temple in Tasek Gelugor, Seberang Prai, in 1991 before coming to Kuala Lumpur where he built the Meenakshi Amman statue at Batu Caves.

He and his team also did the 36 Vinayagar statues in Kortumalai Temple on Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur, and the 50-feet (15m) tall Anjaneya statue, also in Batu Caves.

Thiyagarajan learned his trade from his grandfather, K. Periasamy Pillay and another guru, N. Kathiravale, in Thanjavur for 10 years before branching out on his own.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Gourmet Tourism

Restaurants to promote gourmet tourism

TOURISM Malaysia's wholly-owned subsidiary, Pempena Sdn Bhd, is identifying restaurants as candidates to promote Malaysia's gourmet tourism.

Pempena is putting to practice the saying "The way to the heart is through the stomach" as it develops the gourmet tourism via restaurants as a marketing vehicle to further brand Malaysia.

It is planning to hold a stake in these restaurants so that it is able to control the quality of the food and service provided.

Tourism Malaysia officials said a budget has been set aside for this purpose. It wants to emulate Thailand, which has managed to promote the country via its restaurants worldwide.

These Malaysian fine- dining restaurants will not only serve Malaysian cuisine but also offer leaflets and Malaysian destination information.

And unlike a one-off event which costs several thousands of ringgit, this type of venture gives continuous publicity to the country.

The restaurant workers are required to know the background of the food, ingredients and its origins to help explain to the customers.

"Through the fine-dining restaurants we hope to target quality tourists to our country. We have other interested parties showing interests as well," a Tourism Malaysia official said.


*source: www.btimes.com.my*

Rubber-News Update


Rubber prices hit 18-year high

MALAYSIA'S natural rubber (NR) prices hit an 18-year high of RM7 a kg yesterday due to a shortage in global supply caused by continuous rain and global demand, especially from China.

On the Malaysian Rubber Exchange, SMR20 rubber grade (Standard Malaysian Rubber) settled at buyers/sellers prices of RM7.03/RM7.05 a kg respectively, more than triple the levels four years ago.

National Association of Smallholders (Nash) vice-president Aliasak Ambia said the country's more than 200,000 rubber smallholders will be the main beneficiaries.

"A hectare of rubber smallholding can produce up to 1,000kg a year and at RM7 a kg, a smallholder can earn RM7,000 a year and triple the amount if he owns 3ha provided he is hardworking," Aliasak told Business Times in a phone interview.

He had said last month that NR prices had the potential to climb even as high as RM10 a kg between three and four years.

NR prices are high due to a shortage in world supply coupled with robust demand, high synthetic rubber prices and continuous rains.

Rubber futures also rose to their highest in more than 21 years on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange last month.

In ringgit terms, the price of RM7 a kg - the benchmark price used by the industry - is a historical high for SMR20.

NR prices, however, registered their highest level ever in 1988, breaching the RM10 a kg mark, due mainly to the AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) scare then, but at the time the ringgit was equivalent to RM2.50 to the greenback.

NR prices have been spiking due to a host of reasons, including robust demand from China's hungry motor vehicle sector, higher prices of petroleum-based synthetic rubber (NR's rival) and the volatile security situation in southern Thailand.

The formation of a rubber producers pact, heavy rains which prevent tappers from venturing out to tap as well as the wintering season which saps latex output have also supported NR prices.

Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, which are the world's top three rubber producers respectively, account for about 80 per cent of the world's NR output.
By ZAIDI ISHAM ISMAIL
*source: www.btimes.com.my*

Proton - News Update


Main points of Proton-Mitsubishi alliance

Proton Holdings Bhd and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation of Japan will collaborate to develop new Proton vehicles by early 2007 under an agreement signed on Feb 3.

Proton managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said that they aim to introduce the model in 12 months.

“We would not see anything this year, but we are already working together to develop a model. It (the car) would be ready in 12 months,” he said at a press conference after the two carmakers signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Shah Alam.

Also present at the signing ceremony were International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz, Proton chairman Datuk Mohammed Azlan Hashim and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation president Osamu Masuko.

Under the collaboration, Mitsubishi Motors could possibly assemble its cars in Malaysia at Proton facilities as the Japanese carmaker seeks to increase its presence in Malaysia and Asean, he said.

“That would be part of optimising Proton’s manufacturing facilities, so the assembly of Mitsubishi cars is a possibility,” he said.

Proton has a manufacturing plant in Tanjung Malim capable of producing 300,000 cars a year. However, it is currently only producing 100,000 units annually.

Under the MoU, Mitsubishi would transfer technical expertise to Proton and in return the national carmaker would allow Mitsubishi access to its facilities to expand in the Malaysian and Asean markets.

“This is not only, we hope, to be one way, that Proton will be receiving technology or products from MMC ... perhaps one day we could also share our platform with Mitsubishi not only for domestic (market) but for export,” Syed Zainal said.

He said the agreement would also include supply of components between Proton and Mitsubishi, technical support for production engineering and quality control.

  • Proton Holdings Bhd and Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore the feasibility of cooperation in the following areas:

    (a) product development of new Proton vehicles;
    (b) supply of components between Proton and Mitsubishi;
    (c) technical support for production, engineering and quality control from Mitsubishi to Proton and Proton's vendors; and
    (d) manufacturing of the vehicles at Proton's facilities to the extent mutually beneficial

    The signing of the MoU was held in Proton's Shah Alam plant on Feb 3.

    Proton said the MoU marks a significant step for car makers around the globe who are seeking collaboration as a means of rapid expansion and higher profits.

    The benefits of the arrangement to Proton would include the following:
    (i) Proton will be able to diversify its product range, producing a larger variety of cars within a shorter time to market
    (ii) Proton would be able to speedily diversify its compact and saloon vehicle range as well as fill in the missing gaps in its production line-up, tapping into the lucrative MPV and luxury cars segments of the market
    (iii) Proton will also avail itself to Mitsubishi's parts and components which will lead to component sharing over the long term

    Mitsubishi will provide technical support as well as quality control.

    As for Mitsubish, it can also avail itself to the manufacturing facilities at Proton's Tanjung Malim plant, boosting the factory's capacity and production quality.

    Mitsubishi, currently provides engines and transmission systems to Proton in the Iswara, Wira, Satria, Arena, Waja, Perdana and Gen.2 models.

By Joseph Chin

http://www.theedgedaily.com/

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Dong Zen FGS Temple





Fo Guang Shan (FGS) is an international Buddhist monastic order, originating from Taiwan and led by the Venerable Master Hsing Yun. There are 17 centres in Malaysia with the headquarters at the temple near Banting.

Location:
Sungai Jenjarom, Banting.

From Kesas highway just go towards Klang until you see the 'Banting' signage then turn left. You will see the 'Fo Guang Shan(FGS) Temple' signage guiding you along the way. It's around 17 km away after turning left from Kesas highway.

What to see?

First man-made Lumbini Garden (the birth place of the Buddha) in Malaysia. The main attraction is the “One Step, One Lotus” display which is a lifelike animatronic figure of Prince Siddharta walking seven steps after his birth, with each step forming a lotus in the Lumbini Garden.

Other features with special effects include the lapis lazuli tower and the mechanised lanterns in an area displaying the statues of 18 Arhats. (Arhats, a Sanskrit word, refers to a perfect person who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved nirvana or spiritual enlightenment.)
Flower exhibition was an apt highlight of the event because Chinese New Year was celebrated in spring when flowers bloomed.

A six-metre, seven-tonne bronze statue of the Buddha inside the main shrine. The statue, which was designed in Taiwan and made in China, and is a gift from the Chief Abbot of the Fo Guang Shan in Taiwan. Eight other bronze carvings line the walls, each depicting the Buddha’s life from birth to his achieving Nirvana.

Another unique features for this year is the garden sculpture "Goddess of Mercy" face and also the "Laughing Buddha'.

Four exhibitions are held on the temple grounds during the festive season. Among them are, a Book Fair that features journals on Buddhism and health, a Light of Art exhibition that has 60 table lamps from Taiwan and designed with Buddhism characteristics.

There is also an Artistic Exhibition that features works such as calligraphy, sculpture, carving, paintings and pottery by 100 local artists.

Food:
Various stalls selling vegetarian food can also be found at the temple.

Opening Hours:
Free Entrance.

The Fo Guang Shan Temple is open daily from 10am to 10pm on weekdays and till 11pm on weekends until March 6. After that date, it is open from 9am to 7pm from Tuesdays to Sundays.

Around that area:
Basically it's a laid-back town with old shophouses. It's famous for it's many seafood restaurants. But during this Chinese New Year, getting a table can be a test of your patience.

Advice:
Best time for visit will be starting your journey around 5:30 pm getting around there. Hopefully the traffic is kind to you and getting you there around 6:30 pm where there's still daylight for you to enjoy the ambience of the beautiful and colourful flowers. Then wait for the lanterns to be lighted up for nightfall and enjoy another different ambience of the garden.

During the CNY expect to find thousands of visitors paying a visit to this FGS temple. It took me nearly 2 hours to reach there from the city center. And then it was human contact on every turn and long queues. It could also be due to the fact that on the very night I was there, a big prayer was organised so which explains the many devotees paying a visit the same night as I did.
By: Wendy