Friday, June 23, 2017

KL's oldest mosque renamed Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad

Masjid Jamek.

KUALA LUMPUR: The oldest mosque in the city, Masjid Jamek has been renamed Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad.

Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah renamed it after his ancestor — the fourth Sultan of Selangor Sultan Abdul Samad — as the mosque was originally built on Selangor land.

In a statement Friday, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the renaming of the mosque was part of an initiative to preserve national heritage.

He said the mosque had been refurbished as part of the River of Life project, and could now host up to 1,000 people for prayers.

"The jemaah (congregation) praying here need no longer face the heat, thanks to the giant shades installed outside the building," he said, adding that they were inspired by the giant hydraulic shades at Masjid Nabawi in Madinah.

Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad opened in 1909 and is an iconic part of the city centre. It shares its original name with the nearby LRT station.

-thestar online.

Istana Negara Open House On First Day Of Aidilfitri


KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 (Bernama) -- The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, will join the people at an Aidilfitri open house at Istana Negara on the first day of Aidilfitri.

Datuk Pengelola Bijaya Diraja Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz said in a statement today that the open house will be from 10 am to 2 pm.

"His Majesty will exchange greetings with the people from noon to 1 pm. Istana Negara is pleased to invite the people to attend the Aidilfitri celebration," he said.

Guests are advised to use the Main Gate and Gate 3 of Istana Negara and to be in the national attire and decently dressed.

This is the first Aidilfitri for Sultan Muhammad V as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. His Majesty ascended the throne on Dec 13 last year.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Govt may exempt locals from paying tourism tax at hotels rated 3-star and below

PETALING JAYA: There are plans to exempt locals staying at three-star hotels and below from the new tourism tax, said Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.

“There are certain categories of people, such as locals, staying at three-star hotels and below who may be exempted. We are studying this and will be making an announcement soon,” he told reporters after launching the Global Entrepreneurship Competition here Wednesday.

He said that collection of the tourism tax would be handled by the Customs Department, which has a system in place with regard to the classification of hotels.

The tourism tax is set to be enforced on July 1, with hotel guests charged between RM2.50 and RM20 for overnight stays depending on the type of hotel.
The tax is RM2.50 for non-rated hotels, RM5 for two-star, RM10 for three-star, RM15 for four-star, and RM20 for five-star hotels.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the revenue collected would be used to promote Malaysia overseas and refurbish tourism facilities.

The tax is expected to bring in RM654.62mil, assuming a 60 per cent occupancy rate at over 11 million hotel rooms in the country.

-thestar online.

Malaysia to host this year's ICGN conference


From July 11-13, 2017, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will play host to the International Corporate Governance Network’s (ICGN) annual conference.

Milly Sheehan, ICGN’s communications manager, explained that the three-day conference will be “very valuable” as it offers ICGN’s members and interested non-members the opportunity to meet face to face, share knowledge, extend their professional networks, and learn from one another.

Sheehan added: “It aims to promote a meaningful dialogue between companies and investors with a series of engagement sessions, company site visits and plenary debates.”

The ICGN conference was last held in Malaysia in 2011, and this year’s edition is expected to attract about 500 capital market senior professionals. It is hosted by the Kuala Lumpur Retirement Fund and in partnership with The Minority Shareholder Watchdog Group Malaysia.

The event is important to Malaysia as it will shine a spotlight on the country’s initiatives taken in the areas of corporate governance and stewardship developments, many of which have been promoted through a mix of government-driven reforms. As a result, the annual conference will help to attract inward investment by helping to instil investor confidence.

-TTG Asia.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Malaysia targets luxe shoppers as retail spend soars

image: Miss SHOPhia facebook

With shopping now a bigger driver of tourist spend than ever before in Malaysia, a luxury-dedicated component of the Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival was last week inaugurated by luxury retailer The Melium Group, in partnership with Tourism Malaysia and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

Abdul Ghaffar Thambi, secretary-general, Tourism and Culture Ministry, said: “In 2015, for the first time, shopping became the main tourist expenditure at 31.3 per cent, overtaking the share for spending on accommodation. This trend continued into 2016 with tourist expenditure on shopping taking up a share of 31.7 per cent.
“We are also seeing an increase in the amount spent by tourists for shopping. In 2016, tourists spent RM26 billion (US$6.1 billion) on shopping, up 20.3 per cent from RM21.6 billion the previous year.”

Based on a report on the Tourist Refund Scheme, 43 per cent of tourist expenditure in Malaysia is on watches and jewellery, both considered luxury items. Chinese tourists are the largest spenders on these items, followed by Singaporeans, Indonesians, Indians and Bangladeshis.

Beyond the Malaysia Mega Sale – Luxury Shopping Experience, Tourism Malaysia intends to attract big spenders in Singapore, Indonesia, India, the Middle East and Bangladesh through in-market tactical campaigns.

President of The Melium Group, Farah Khan, said: “Our aim in supporting the government’s effort in the Malaysia Mega Sale launch is to engage with the luxury tourism market segment and ensure that Kuala Lumpur is well-positioned as the next global market opportunity for luxury brands.

“With our duty-free status, we can capitalise on the luxury tourist shoppers market as luxury brand prices in Malaysia are within an average of 25 per cent lower than in other countries, and with the GST refund our luxury brands prices are more attractive.”

-TTG Asia.

Penang listed among budget-friendly places in Asia

GEORGE TOWN: Penang shines once more as the state is one of Time Magazine's "10 Amazing Asian Vacations That Won’t Cost A Fortune."

The magazine’s Money segment for their Best in Travel 2017 said Penang’s diverse attractions including “white sandy beaches, large resorts, quiet fishing villages and a bustling urban centre - are a steal right now”.

According to the article, the cost to spend a week for two in Penang is US$2,669 (RM11,399.43).

“Try it yourself at the LG Baru or New Lane Hawker Stalls, where you can sample char koay kak, a fried dish of rice cakes, egg and pickled vegetables. 

Most dishes will set you back only about a dollar,” the magazine said in the article on its website.

The list has scoured various countries in Asia for the best regions to visit which can make the most for the travel dollars based on various factors including airfare, lodging, food, restaurants, attractions, crime rates, weather and ease of public transportation.

During a press conference Monday, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Penang has added another accolade among the many as a value for money destination.

Other places which made it into the list are Taipei, Taiwan; Siem Reap, Cambodia and Chiang Mai, Thailand.

-thestar online.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Malaysian tour operators perplexed over which tax to apply

Conflicting statements by the federal and state governments and the lack of official documentation over the charging of the controversial tourism tax – supposed to come into effect on July 1 – is making it difficult for Malaysian operators to inform their overseas counterparts.

Adam Kamal, CEO, Olympik Holidays, said: “We are in a dilemma as we are unable to inform our overseas partners accordingly. To be safe, we have included the state tax and the new tourism tax as a precaution for new bookings made from July 1 onwards. We will discount the amount in the case that the implementation of the new tax is deferred or the state decides to abolish the state taxes.”

Malaysia’s tourism and culture minister Nazri Abdul Aziz earlier stated that states which have their own tourism taxes would be asked to stop the collection when the country’s tourism tax comes into effect.

However, Penang’s chief minister, Lim Guan Eng, said Penang would continue to collect the RM3 (US$0.70) levy on a per room, per night basis even after the enforcement of the tourism tax, and that the revenue collected would be used to promote tourism products in the state.

Mohd Rawi Abdul Hamid, Kedah’s state tourism committee chairman, told TTG Asia last Friday that the state had yet to decide whether to continue collecting levy on domestic and foreign tourists staying in hotel accommodations on Langkawi. This would depend on what percentage Kedah gets from the country’s tourism tax.

The levy currently imposed in Langkawi ranges from RM1 per room night for one-star and two-orchid rated accommodation to RM5 per room night for five-star accommodation.

“The government should send a clear message on the mechanics of the tourism tax or Malaysia will look bad. Everything is done in a rushed manner. There should have been half a year’s lead time so tour operators could inform their clients overseas,” Manfred Kurz, managing director of Diethelm Travel Malaysia, pointed out.

“The federal government must also be transparent to the states on their share of the revenue collected,” he concluded.

-TTG Asia.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

i-City brightens up Malaysia

Wonderland attraction: Many have been captivated by i-City’s
vibrant and colourful lights on its property.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s city of digital lights, i-City, has been listed in the top 25 of the most bright and colourful places in the world by CNN.

The urban development located in Shah Alam, Selangor, made the 21st spot in the list, joining the ranks of globally renowned locations led by Australia’s Great Barrier Reef which came in first.

Other top locations in the list include Holland’s tulip fields (13th), Rio de Janeiro in Brazil (16th), Times Square in New York (23) and Venice (25).

“i-City in Selangor, is a peculiar blend of a hi-tech development centre and an amusement park that includes an ice palace called the Snowalk, where the indoors is kept at freezing temperatures to preserve chambers of ice lit with coloured lights,” the CNN list read.

“In the evenings, outdoors in the tropical heat, millions of twinkling lights illuminate the trees in every artificial colour imaginable.

“It’s a Christmas yard display amped up to the nth degree,” the list said.

The 25 locations selected, said CNN, were places where nature’s palette concocts colours that seem unreal, or where designers have turned ordinary neighbourhoods into wonderlands.

In response, i-City said it welcomed the accolade which has now put it firmly on the global stage.

“It is very much an honour to receive the accolade as one of the world’s most colourful places in the world together with beautiful cities such as Cape Town, Tokyo, Argentina, Italy and France.

“A convergence of both technology and art, the digital lightscapes showcase will constantly be updated according to themes and festive celebrations,” the i-City statement said.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Hamzah Rahmat said the listing was good news for Malaysia’s tourism industry.

“It’s not easy to get in such a list and the accolade given to i-CIty also shows the big role that the private sector in Malaysia plays in helping to promote tourism in our country,” he said.

Civil servant Anisyuhada Zulkifle, 29, said she first visited i-City as a university student and was captivated by the colourful lights.

“The lights there are simply beautiful beyond words. Not only are the trees covered in lights, they also have lights shaped like flowers, so it’s very unique,” she said.

A graduate student, who only wanted to be known as Fatin, said i-City was also enjoyable for its many attractions.

“I don’t like taking pictures that much, but the sights at i-City are a unique experience that you won’t forget easily,” said Fatin.

-thestar online.

Trans Borneo 4x4 expedition to kickstart on August 13

According to the organiser, North Borneo Explorer's director Anuar Ghani (left), the event serves will provide not only a challenge for man and machine against the great outdoors, but also an impetus to improve regional bilateral ties and promote tourism. Pic by STR/MOHD ADAM ARININ.

KOTA KINABALU: Trans Borneo 2017, the 4X4 expedition endeavoring to brave the off-roads of Borneo, will officially kick off this August 13.

This year's theme, "Into the Heart of Borneo", will see up to 100 participants explore Sabah, Sarawak, Kalimantan and Brunei Darussalam in 15 days - driving through untamed jungles, deep river crossings, and challenging muddy roads.

According to the organiser, North Borneo Explorer's director Anuar Ghani, the event serves will provide not only a challenge for man and machine against the great outdoors, but also an impetus to improve regional bilateral ties and promote tourism.

He said back during the very first Trans Borneo event in 1988, Brunei wouldn't even allow the convoy to go through their borders.

Eventually, continued work behind the scenes allowed them to convince the state government to secure special permissions to cross these borders.

“In fact, part of this year's tour will feature the Trans Borneo participants as the first convoy to go through the Malinau - Ba'kelalan route in Kalimantan, which is usually closed off to the public due to its usage and surveillance under the Indonesian army.

“As a fairly new route built by the army and logging companies, it is barely fit for use, with at least three deep river crossings awaiting the convoy,” he added.

Trans Borneo 2017's participants will include media representatives from eight countries. Besides Malaysia, there will also be those from Indonesia, Brunei, Australia, Japan, China, Thailand, and Singapore.

The convoy will go through approximately 2,000 kilometers of both on-road and off-road trails, stopping by various tourist attractions along the way, including the Derawan, Sangalaki and Mararua Islands, Kinabalu Park, several conservation centres, Balung River Eco Resort and Merarap Hot Springs.

-nst online.

Festive Season: Reload Lanes At PLUS Toll Plazas Will Be Closed To Facilitate Smoother Traffic Flow

To facilitate smoother traffic flow during the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri festive season, all toll plaza Reload Lanes on PLUS-operated highways will be closed. 

The move is aimed at reducing and preventing traffic congestion due to long queue at reload lanes at the toll plazas.

All 134 Reload Lanes at PLUS Highways toll plazas will be closed to the public beginning 22 June to 2 July.

As such, PLUS reminds the public to ensure that their PLUSMiles or Touch 'n Go cards have sufficient balance at all times during this festive season.

PLUS also urges the public to reload their electronic cards at 9,200 other reload lane locations across the country. This includes at ATM machines, 24-hour convenient stores and petrol stations, to name a few.

The public can also reload their cards at petrol stations operating at the rest and service areas (RSA) along the highway.

Additionally, reload service is also available at PLUS customer service centres at selected toll plazas operating between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm daily (including Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday).

PLUS anticipates traffic on the mainline will increase by 21 percent this festive season as compared to normal days.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

DPM: Tourism tax will be imposed

No dispute: Dr Ahmad Zahid delivering his speech when closing
the Islamic education workshop in Putrajaya yesterday. — Bernama

PUTRAJAYA: The Government is going ahead with its tourism tax to be imposed from July 1.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who disclosed this yesterday, said more funds were needed to support tourism promotion activities.

“At present, some states receive little (funds), some get more,” he said. Under the new tax, hotel guests will be charged between RM2.50 and RM20 for every night’s stay, depending on the classification of the hotel.

Dr Ahmad Zahid disclosed that the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday directed that the tourism tax spat involving Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and the Sarawak and Sabah governments be put to an end.

“The Prime Minister chaired the Cabinet meeting and I have personally met with the Chief Ministers of Sarawak and Sabah.

“So the chapter is closed,’’ he told reporters after closing an Islamic education workshop here yesterday.

Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah had called on the Government to defer the implementation of the tourism tax in Sarawak and Sabah. This invited criticism from Nazri.

Dr Ahmad Zahid also said RM10mil will be given to the Advisory Board for the Coordination of Islamic Education for the enhancement of Islamic educational institutions.

The workshop approved several resolutions, including one on a special mechanism to strengthen Federal-state cooperation in Islamic educational development.

-thestar online.

Hutan Rekreasi UTM tawar keindahan semulajadi

Pengunjung yang inginkan keselesaan boleh menginap
di Rumah Kampung UTM yang terdapat di sini.

JOHOR BAHRU 15 Jun - Bunyi unggas dan burung berkicauan diselangi deruan air jeram Lata Jernih yang mengalir deras ke hilir bukit jelas kedengaran. Pokok-pokok hutan yang menghijau di sekeliling, antaranya keruing, meranti dan cengal membuatkan diri terasa bagaikan berada di tengah hutan belantara.

Namun, siapa sangka lokasi itu terletak dalam kampus induk Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) di Skudai di sini, yang terletak kira-kira 25 kilometer dari pusat bandar raya Johor Bahru.

Berkeluasan 53 hektar, Hutan Rekreasi UTM yang dibuka secara rasmi pada 22 Disember 2004 itu merupakan produk pelancongan yang ditawarkan menerusi inisiatif Kampus Ekopelan­congan UTM.

Bukan sahaja kaya dengan fauna dan flora, hutan simpan ber­kenaan yang dikelolakan oleh Unit Kampus Ekopelancongan UTM itu turut menawarkan pelbagai aktiviti riadah untuk pe­ngunjung. Antaranya yang disediakan termasuk meredah hutan, meredah ha­langan, memanah, flying fox, combat archery, paintball, explorace, war game selain menunggang All Terrain Vehicle (ATV).

Bagi memastikan keselamatan pengunjung, aktiviti-aktiviti tersebut turut diselia oleh jurulatih dan kakitangan berpengalaman serta terlatih.

Penolong Pendaftar Kanan UTM yang juga pengurus hutan rekreasi berkenaan, Zaidi Mahmod berkata, hutan itu baru dibuka semula pada 1 Februari lalu setelah ditutup sejak 13 November tahun lalu bagi kerja-kerja penambahbaikan dan naik taraf kemudahan asas.

“Biasanya, Hutan Rekre­a­si­ UTM ini menjadi lokasi pe­nganjuran kem perkhemahan, motivasi, team building dan bina semangat anjuran sekolah, agensi kerajaan, pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO), swasta dan juga luar negara khususnya dari Singapura.

“Setakat ini ia mendapat sam­butan yang memberangsangkan, bukan sahaja ketika cuti umum dan persekolahan malah pada hujung minggu,” katanya kepada Utusan Malaysia baru-baru ini.

Menurut Zaidi, bagi keselesaan pengunjung, pihaknya telah menyediakan kemudahan yang lengkap seperti tapak perkhemahan yang boleh menampung hingga 50 unit khemah dan maksimum 200 peserta semalam dan juga empat calet Rumah Kampung UTM.

Kemudahan lain termasuk dewan terbuka (resak), surau, ruang makan, dapur memasak, tandas lelaki dan perempuan, ruang BBQ serta sistem siar raya.

“Kita menawarkan lapan pakej untuk pengunjung yang mahu melakukan aktiviti di hutan rekreasi ini dengan harga yang cukup berpatutan bermula daripada RM10 dan boleh disesuaikan mengikut keperluan pelanggan.

“Malah, UTM turut bekerjasama dengan tiga agensi pelan­congan bagi mempromosikan lagi pelbagai produk pelancongan yang terdapat di universiti ini termasuklah Hutan Rekreasi UTM,” katanya.

Mereka yang berminat untuk mengadakan aktiviti di Hutan Rekreasi UTM boleh menghubungi 07-5531216 atau emel kepada serta melayari untuk mendapatkan maklumat lanjut mengenai produk pelancongan yang ditawarkan.

-utusan online.