Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Domestic Destinations Popular With Malaysian Holidaymakers - Survey

CITY LANDMARK...A mother taking photos of her children enjoying their holidays in the pool at the Suria KLCC Recreational Park, with the Petronas Twin Towers in the background. Pic: Amirul Azmi fotoBERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 (Bernama) -- Malaysians are increasingly looking closer to home for travel bargains, according to search data released by the leading online accommodation booking website,

A survey of searches conducted by Malaysian-based travellers between January-August 2015 showed that interest in domestic destinations has literally exploded, fuelled perhaps in part by the softening of the Malaysian ringgit against other currencies.

The findings support the sentiment expressed by exhibitors and visitors to the Malaysian Association Of Tour And Travel Agents (MATTA) Fair held here from Sept 4 to Sept 6, it said in a statement here today.

TOURIST ATTRACTION...Seafood galore at Restoran Muara Duyung in Melaka Pic: Sakini Mohd Said fotoBERNAMA

While Kuala Lumpur reigns in the No.1 spot, more than eight times as many people than last year are searching for travel and accommodation information on Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands. That put the town in sixth place, ahead of Kota Kinabalu and Johor Baharu, which are sitting in seventh and eighth place respectively.

"Other hot in-country destinations include Brinchang and Port Dickson, which are also seeing almost eight-fold spikes in interest, and Melaka, which is searched for five times more frequently than last year, said Senior Marketing Director, Asia Pacific for the brand, Nelson Allen.

Malaysians in increasing numbers are clearly getting back to their roots when it comes to planning vacation, and taking full advantage of the fantastic deals to be found at home," he added.

THE WONDERS OF TURKEY...A group of Malaysian women enjoying their holidays in Turkey in September 2014. The trip was organised by the Association for Women and Wives of Bernama Employees (Benita). Pic: Benita

Thailand has overtaken Singapore as the top regional destination for Malaysian holidaymakers. Bangkok and Singapore have swapped places compared to last year, with the Thai capital now sitting pretty at the top of the regional holiday destination table and Singapore sinking to third place.

"The seaside paradises of Krabi and Phuket are also on the radar of Malaysian travellers. Searches for Phuket are up two-and-half times, putting the islet in fifth place on the regional top 10 list, which it missed last year. Krabi climbed to fourth place overall," said Allen.

Europe has always been a long-haul favourite among Malaysians, with the top five most popular destinations unchanged from last year.

"London and Paris are still firmly in the first and second spot, and Istanbul, Amsterdam and Rome are right next to them in third, fourth and fifth place.

That solid, unshakeable popularity reflects the fantastic mix of leisure and cultural activities these cities offer visitors from Malaysia and all over the world. That's something that the whims of fashion and currency shifts cannot erase," said Allen.


Silver lining for Malaysia and Thailand amid currency woes

Malaysia and Thailand are experiencing a depreciation in their respective currencies although there are signs that the MICE sector could benefit from the market turmoil.

In spite of the combined onslaught of a depreciating currency and sluggish economy, MICE operators in Malaysia are seeing strong bookings from Chinese MICE groups for 2016.

The bookings have been driven by improved air links from China and visa exemption to be granted for Chinese groups of 20 pax and more from October 1 to March 31, 2016.

Air China will resume four-times weekly services between Beijing and Kuala Lumpur from October 25, complementing the daily services of Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia X. China Southern Airlines will also commence thrice-weekly services from Guangzhou to Kota Kinabalu from December 1.

Li Haijiao, account manager of Beijing-based Comfort MICE Service, said: “Better direct air accessibility and visa waiver for groups will definitely help to promote (Malaysia). Air China also has a good reputation and is a trusted brand among Chinese travellers.”

Chinese MICE groups are showing a stronger interest in Malaysia, observed Winnie Ng, deputy general manager of Kuala Lumpur-based Pearl Holiday Travel & Tour, which participated in a recent roadshow organised by Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau to major Chinese cities.

She said: “(Chinese) government officers are limited to a budget of US$110 per room night in Malaysia. With good rates and promotions from five-star hotels in the capital, many (Chinese MICE) are opting for five-star properties.

“We have a confirmed booking of between 1,500 to 1,800 pax from a multi-level marketing company from China for May 2016 and another multi-level marketing company for 3,300 pax in July 2016.”

Likewise, KL Tan, general manager of Borneo Trails Tours & Travel in Kota Kinabalu, is also seeing strong forward incentive bookings to Kota Kinabalu from China for 2016.

Over in Thailand, the MICE sector might see some mild benefits from the depreciation of the baht, buyers at IT&CMA told TTG Asia e-Daily.

A weaker Thai baht will work in the favour of the Thai MICE sector “a little bit”, especially in the context of other regional currencies, said Aleizer Yrrah Jasmin, MICE travel consultant with Philippines-based Corporate International Travel and Tours.

Longhaul buyers like Jorge Vasques Rodrigues, administrator/executive officer of Lisboa-based Sotto Tour Travel Engineering, also views a weaker Thai currency “an advantage”.

However, some trade members are not convinced that a cheaper Thailand would suffice to reboot its plateauing MICE sector, especially in an era of heightened security worries in the wake of the recent Erawan bomb attack in Bangkok.

Liam Crawley, chief financial officer, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia-Pacific, pointed to a more immediate financial problem a dipping baht brings. “Hotels will be negatively impacted should they incur costs not in Thai baht.”

On the other hand, despite the Singapore dollar surging to a new high against the ringgit, Malaysia appears less desirable as a destination for Singapore MICE groups, with agents reporting slower business events bookings from the Lion City this year.

RA Jits Travel & Tours managing director, Harminderjit Singh, said the strong Singapore dollar and good flight access out of the country had resulted in corporate companies looking further afield for their overseas events, with many opting for Thailand.

Said Singh: “While our FIT business had grown 15-20 per cent year-on-year, the reverse is also true for our meetings and incentives sector (which decreased 15-20 per cent).”

Similarly, Raaj Navaratnaa, general manager at Johor Bahru-based New Asia Holiday Tours & Travel, has received many enquiries from incentive clients in Singapore looking at destinations such as Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam.

Its inbound business from Singapore, on the other hand, dipped 30 per cent drop this year, a situation that was further aggravated by the haze in September and the recent ‘red shirt’ rally in Kuala Lumpur.

“A big meeting group of 600 pax from Singapore planning to have their meeting in Kuala Lumpur in end-September cancelled because of the rally,” said Navaratnaa. “They are instead going to Thailand.”

He added that the main challenge for Malaysia is a lack of new products to impress repeat corporate clients from Singapore, as upcoming attractions like the Twentieth Century Fox World Malaysia in Resorts World Genting and Movie Animation Park Studios in Perak will only open in 2016.
-TTG Asia.

Baghdatis, Chardy And Pospisil Power Through To Second Round As Troicki Suffers Surprise Defeat

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis overcome a spirited challenge from Spanish wild card Nicolas Almagro to win 6-3, 6-7(5-7), 6-1 in tonight’s featured first round match of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2015 played here at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
The world No.51 Baghdatis, making his fifth appearance in the tournament, showcased some sizzling form, serving up 18 aces and winning 5 out of 9 break points en route to victory.
“I think I started the match really well, serving big and putting a lot of pressure on his serve. I lost a bit of concentration in the second set and he did some great shots to win the tie break. I think I was more aggressive on the important points in the third set. It’s going be a tough match next against Pospisil, he’s a great young player with a great serve,” said the 30-year-old Cypriot, who made the finals here in 2011 (l. to Tipsarevic).
Earlier in the day, Moldovan Radu Albot (#107) caused the biggest upset of the first round as he overcame fifth seed and world No. 24 Victor Troicki 6-2, 7-6(7-5) in 1 hour and 30 mins on Centre Court. 
The 25-year-old Albot, who is more of a doubles player on tour (won first career doubles title at Istanbul in May), reached the semifinals or further in seven different Challenger tournaments this year to reach a career high singles ranking of No.85 just last month.
“I still knew I could come back (at 0-3 down in the second set tie-break) because I played so hard the whole two sets. I was happy I could make it and used a couple of his mistakes. Against a player like Viktor, it’s always difficult. The plan was to be solid and not give him any chances,” said the Moldova number one, who is playing singles in only his third Tour Level tournament this year.
Sixth seed Jeremy Chardy of France (#26) suffered an early scare in his debut Malaysian Open match, but came back strongly to defeat 18-year-old German rising star Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in 1 hour and 50 minutes. 
“Yes, I was a little bit worried (being a set down). It’s my first match since the US Open so it was tough to find my rhythm. But I knew I could come back because I was hitting the ball well and mentally I was strong.  I’m playing good this year, especially the last two months. Today is good for my confidence and I hope I will continue to play like this,” said Chardy, who is on course to eclipse his career high ranking of No.25 last achieved in early 2013.

In other seeded first round singles matches played today, eighth seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada (#44) easily overcame the challenge of qualifier Yasutuka Uchiyama of Japan, winning 6-3, 6-4 in 71 minutes.
Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia (#95) moved into the second round after opponent Aleksandr Nedovyesov of Kazakhstan (#115) retired in the second set of their first round tie, with scores at 6-1, 1-0 to the Georgian. The other Kazakh in the main draw and their country’s best player, Mikhail Kukushkin (#48), fared better as he defeated wild card Indian Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-2, 6-2 in 71 minutes to set up a second round tie against Radu Albot.
Japan’s Tatsuma Ito (#116), who is in the Malaysian Open main draw for the first time this year after three previous appearances in the qualifying rounds, also made the second round with a 6-2, 7-6(7-3) victory over last year’s semifinalist Jarko Nieminen (#135).
In their doubles first round match today, the top seeded doubles pair of Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram pulled no punches in their 6-2, 6-3 defeat of Aussie wild card pairing Nick Kyrgios and James Frawley.
The South African-American team struck up a partnership in June this year and have already won the Gerry Weber Open in June and made the Metz semifinals earlier this month. Klaasen won the doubles title in Kuala Lumpur in 2013 (w/ Eric Butorac).
The remaining first round singles and doubles ties, along with three second round singles matchups, will be played tomorrow as the Malaysian Open enters its fourth day.
In first round singles, Portuguese Joao Sousa, the lone former winner in the draw (2013) and last week’s finalist at St. Petersburg, takes on qualifier Michal Przysiezny of Poland while another qualifier, Mischa Zverev, faces off against Rajeev Ram.
All eyes, however, will be on second round ties featuring third seed Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, sixth seed Jeremy Chardy and local crowd favourite Nick Kyrgios (seventh seed).
The 36-year-old ‘King of Aces’, who faces Georgian Basilashvili tomorrow, may make history at the Malaysian Open. Should he hit 67 aces or more in Kuala Lumpur, he will eclipse countryman Goran Ivanisevic’s world record for career aces, which stands at 10,237.
Having beaten Zverev earlier today, Chardy faces another German tomorrow in the form of Benjamin Becker. The pair met once before, with the Frenchmen beating Becker comfortably in straight sets at the 2013 French Open.
Tomorrow night’s featured match on Centre Court will see world No. 41 Nick Kyrgios, who made his first career final at Portugal’s Estoril Open in April, take on Tatsuma Ito of Japan. The 20-year-old Aussie, who has a Malaysian mother, is in the best form of his career and can look forward to strong crowd support as he aims to bag his first career title.
All remaining first round doubles ties will be played on Court 1 from tomorrow afternoon onwards.
There was plenty of activity off the court today, as no less than nine players took the time to interact with fans and media at several events around Kuala Lumpur.
David Ferrer and Grigor Dimitrov started the day with a visit to the Malaysia Tourist Centre in the morning for a signature photoshoot. The duo entertained the crowd with mini-tennis and tried their hands at playing the ‘gamelan’, a traditional Malaysian musical instrument.
Leander Paes later joined the duo at tournament hotel DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur for a press conference, while Canadian-Austrian doubles team Adil Shamasdin and Oswald Philipp were involved in autograph sessions at the stadium foyer later in the afternoon.

In the evening, the annual Official Player Welcome Party was held at the Doubletree Hilton ballroom, with special guests including tennis stars Ivo Karlovic, Benjamin Becker, Eric Butorac, Scott Lipsky and Jeremy Chardy.
Once again the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur is making the event affordable for all Malaysians. The tickets will be between RM10 to RM620. Tickets can be purchased now on-line via the tournament website, at TicketCharge outlets or through the ticket hotline at TicketCharge Ph: 603-9222 8811.
The tournament would like to thank its suite of official sponsors. In addition to the distinguished support of the Event Patron, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia, Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of Youth & Sports, the event is proud to have prestigious commercial sponsors that include KPJ Healthcare Berhad, Rado, CNN International, the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Wilson, 100 Plus, the Albukhary Foundation, Astro and the ATP World Tour’s Premier Partner Corona. 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Terengganu Bike Week 2015 Expected To Draw 2,000 High-Powered Motorcycles Owners

image: Persatuan Gabungan Permotoran Negeri Terengganu facebook
KUALA TERENGGANU, Sept 29 (Bernama) -- The Terengganu Bike Week (TBW) 2015, which will be held from Oct 2 to 4 at Pantai Batu Buruk here, is expected to draw about 2,000 high-powered motorcycle owners from all over the country as well as Singapore and Thailand.

Confederation of Terengganu Motorsports Association (PGPNT) president Tengku Sri Temenggong Raja Datuk Seri Tengku Baharuddin Sultan Mahmud said apart from a high-powered motorcycle exhibition, several other events such as folk sporting games would also be held.

"This year, we have drawn up several additional events such as beach sports, traditional games and a convoy to Kampung Batu Rakit for the people's feast," he told reporters at a press conference, here last night.

He said this year's TBW was part of the annual programme to promote Terengganu, which was well known for its beautiful islands, sea and beaches, Tasik Kenyir and to promote the Visit Terengganu Year 2017.

According to him, TBW which was organised in collaboration with the state government would be concluded with a mega dinner event at Duyong Marina and Resort in Pulau Duyong, which would be attended by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman.

Meanwhile, Pesona Terengganu 2017 secretariat promotion manager Ahmad Fathil Abd Ghani said apart from TBW, there would be several other tourism programmes to be held throughout October.

The programmes are the Asia Oceania Paramotor Championship at Pantai Batu Buruk (Oct 8-17), the Kemaman International Motorcross at Pantai Teluk Mak Nik Kemaman (Oct 9-11) and the Terengganu Beach Festival at Pantai Batu Buruk (Oct 15-17), the National Gamelan Competition at Stadium Tertutup Gong Badak Sports Complex (Oct 19-21).

The Terengganu International 4x4 Jungle & Beach Challenge Marang, Dungun and Kuala Terengganu (Oct 23-30) and the World Gamelan Festival at Stadium Tertutup Gong Badak Sports Complex (Oct 24-26).


Get ready for another Europe-Asia showdown

Professional Golf of Malaysia chairman Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid (second left) holding the EurAsia Cup qith DRB-Hicom chief operating officer Datuk Mohamed Razeek Md Hussain (second right), European Tour deputy director of international policy Ben Cowen (right) and Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han (left) at the launch of the EurAsia Cup tournament.- Bernama

PETALING JAYA: A Ryder Cup-like showdown is expected at the EurAsia Cup at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club from Jan 15-17.
DRB-Hicom Berhad will return as the presenting partner and the format will, like the Ryder Cup, see the team captains assuming non-playing roles.
Each team will also be represented by 12 players – an increase of two from the first edition.
There will now be six matches in each of the fourball and foursomes sessions over the opening two days, which is an increase of one match per session. A total of 12 singles matches, an addition of two from 2014, will be played on the final day.
The winning team will share the prize money of US$3.6mil (RM15.84mil) and the runners-up US$1.2mil (RM5.28mil).
Team Asia will comprise the top four Asian players in the 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit as of Dec 14; the top four Asian players from the Official World Golf Ranking as of Dec 14; and four captain’s picks.
Team Europe will consist of the top 10 available players from the final 2015 Race to Dubai rankings plus two captain’s picks.
Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han said: “Following a thrilling conclusion to the inaugural EurAsia Cup, I’m sure golf fans will be eager to watch Team Asia take on Team Europe once again come January.
“The format changes are designed to create even greater drama and excitement to the EurAsia Cup as there will now be more matches being played throughout the three days of competition.
“I would also like to thank the Malaysian government for its support of the game and also PGM and DRB-Hicom for their commitment towards the EurAsia Cup as our presenting partner.”
Keith Pelley, chief executive of The European Tour, added: “There is something special about team golf and I know the EurAsia Cup will add another chapter to that in January after such a memorable first edition.”
The first edition, held at the same venue last year, ended in a 10-10 draw.
-thestar online.

‘Half-Kampung’ Kid Nick Kyrgios Continues Strong Season With Winning Start @ Malaysian Open

Local crowd favourite Nick Kyrgios gave fans something to cheer about with a strong performance in the first set of his first round match of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur this evening at Centre Court of Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
The 20-year-old Australian moved into the second round with a 6-1, 2-1(RET) victory after Columbian Santiago Giraldo retired in the second set due to illness.
Playing the best tennis of his career this year and reaching a career high ranking of No.25 in June after advancing to his first ATP World Tour final in May, Kyrgios paid tribute to his training efforts and believes he can win his first tour title right here in Kuala Lumpur.
“I think I performed really well. I'm really happy with the performance, especially it’s my first ever win in Kuala Lumpur. I felt like I did a lot of good training work at home so I'm feeling good. (My target is) definitely to win the tournament. That's my goal. I got to do everything I can here,” said the Aussie lad, who has a Malaysian mother.
In the only other singles first round tie contested today, German Benjamin Becker (#74) upset the odds to defeat big serving Aussie Sam Groth 6-1, 7-6(6) in 73 minutes.
The 34-year-old German number two has endured a difficult year, having not made the quarterfinals of a Tour Level tournament since last October and only winning 8 out of 26 matches, but took advantage of an out-of-sorts Groth to move into the second round.
Groth, the world record holder for the fastest service at 262km/h, is enjoying a career best ranking of No.53 but could not discover his serving rhythm in the first set (racking up 5 double faults) and then lost his nerve in the tie-break to squander two set points and the match.
“It’s always tough to play against Sam. He has a big serve so it’s hard to play your game. He had chances in the tie-break but I won some good points. I’ve had a tough year - a lot of third setters which I lost - so I’m glad to win here in two sets. It’s always nice to come back to the place you’ve had some success,” said Becker, who made the quarterfinals last year in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysian wildcard pairing Mohd Assri Merzuki and Syed Mohd Agil Syed Naguib put up a good showing in the first set, but could not sustain their performance as they went down 7-5, 6-2 in 62 minutes to the Mexican-German duo of Santiago Gonzalez and Phillip Petzschner in their first round doubles match.
The local pair have won four doubles titles as partners on the local circuit, but could not yet step up to the level required against their opponents, who are debuting their partnership but have 16 doubles titles between them.
“I think we played well in the first set and put up a fight. We tried to do our best in the second set, especially with the crowd behind us, but we could not keep up our momentum,” said Agil after the match.
Qualifying matches concluded earlier in the day, with two Japanese players, Yuichi Sugita and Yasutaka Uchiyama, securing their spots in the main draw.
Top seeded qualifier Sugita (#131) ousted Italian Matteo Donati 6-4, 7-6(2) while seventh seeded qualifier Uchiyama came from a set down to upset qualifying second seed Italian Luca Vanni 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 in a 2 hour and 17 minute thriller.
The 23-year-old Uchiyama will be proud to have secured his first ever appearance in the main draw of a Tour Level Tournament.

The other qualifiers moving into the singles main draw include Poland’s Michal Przysiezny, who beat American Daniel Nguyen 6-0, 6-1, and German Mischa Zverev, who overcame New Zealand’s Artem Sitak 6-4, 7-6(5) to join his younger brother Alexander in the main draw.


It’s a jam-packed day of action at the Putra Stadium in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow with six first round singles and two doubles matches being contested on the fourth day of the Malaysian Open.
The remaining seeds in the first round are set to take to court, with fifth seed Viktor Troicki of Serbia (#24), sixth seeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy (#26) and eighth seed Vasek Pospisil (#44) of Canada all looking to start strong campaigns against their lower ranked opponents.
Having dropped to just outside the top 100 and the end of last year, consistent performances by Troicki this season have seen him break into the Top 20 for the first time since November 2011 (he was ranked No.19 in August).
The 29-year-old Serbian, who reached the finals of the Mercedes Cup and semis of the Aegon Championships in June, will face off against Moldovan Radu Albot (#84), who is fresh off an early exit at St. Petersburg to eventual finalist Joao Sousa, who arrives in KL shortly.
Meanwhile, 28-year-old Chardy, who reached the 4th Round of the US Open with a victory over David Ferrer earlier this month, could breach his career high ranking of No.25 should he put in a good showing at Kuala Lumpur (currently at No.26).
His opponent tomorrow will be 18-year-old rising star Alexander Zverev - At 6’6”, the German is one of the most exciting future prospects on Tour and last year was the first 17-year-old to finish the year inside the top 150 for more than a decade.
He showed a glimpse of his potential with a strong run to the quarterfinals in the recent Citi Open 500, beating notable names like Kevin Anderson and Alexandr Dolgopolov along the way.
In the day’s fourth match on Centre Court, eighth seeded Canadian Pospisil (#44) will fancy his chances tomorrow when he takes on qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama, who makes his first ever appearance in the main draw of a Tour level tournament.
Tomorrow’s final match will see wild card entry Nicolas Almagro of Spain face off against Marcos Baghdatis in what should be a closely contested encounter between two 30-year-old players who are returning to form after struggling with injuries.
Baghdatis has pulled out of five matches due to injury over the last 18 months (three this year) but the Cypriot, who is making his fifth appearance here in Kuala Lumpur, also advanced to the finals of the Atlanta Open in July and reached the semifinals of two other ATP 250 tournaments this year to enter tomorrow’s match as the higher ranked player at No.51.
Almagro missed half of 2014 due to a foot injury and saw his ranking fall more than 150 spots to No.174 (May this year), but has reached the quarters or better at five other events so far in 2015 to bounce back up to No.76 and warrant his wild card entry into the Malaysian Open.
Two first round ties in the doubles will also be played tomorrow, with top seeded duo Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Rajeev Ram of the USA commencing their campaign against the Aussie wild card pairing of Nick Kyrgios and his long time hitting partner James Frawley.
Off the court today, top seeds David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez took time out to visit the pediatric ward of the KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital to visit and talk about health and fitness with patients and hospital staff. The duo also entertained the crowd by playing a game of mini-tennis with doctors.
At the stadium, Mikhail Kukushkin and Aleksandr Nedovyesov were present for autograph sessions held in the afternoon at the stadium entrance. 
Once again the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur is making the event affordable for all Malaysians. Entry from Saturday 26 September to Tuesday 29 September is free. Thereafter tickets will be between RM10 to RM620. Tickets can be purchased now on-line via the tournament website, at TicketCharge outlets or through the ticket hotline at TicketCharge Ph: 603-9222 8811.
The tournament would like to thank its suite of official sponsors. In addition to the distinguished support of the Event Patron, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia, Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of Youth & Sports, the event is proud to have prestigious commercial sponsors that include KPJ Healthcare Berhad, Rado, CNN International, the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Wilson, 100 Plus, the Albukhary Foundation, Astro and the ATP World Tour’s Premier Partner Corona. 

KL Pass For Tourists To Explore City's Attractions

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 (Bernama) - Tourists can now explore tourist attractions more easily with the KL PASS (travel pass), introduced by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) today.

Kuala Lumpur Mayor Datuk Mhd Amin Abd Aziz said KL PASS comes in six variants of 1 day, 3 days and 6 days for adults and children with starting price of RM125 to RM675.

KL PASS offers tourists the benefit of visiting 17 venues including KL Tower, Aquaria KLCC, Berjaya Times Square Indoor Theme Park, Sunway Lagoon Theme Park and Zouk KL.

"Users can also get discounts and other offers while shopping and dining at restaurant, cafe, bistro and entertainment venues just by flashing the card," he told a press conference after the launch of KL PASS here, Monday.

The card is equipped with a smart chip-based system and has the capacity to handle digital currency so that tourists can travel without carrying much cash.

Mhd Amin said the card can provide various information to new tourists, increase sale of traders and provide marketing information by tracking behaviour.

It can also help in the management of public transport services in line with the standards outlined in the Kuala Lumpur Tourism Master Plan 2015-2025.

Designed by Meridian Tourist Access Sdn Bhd, KL PASS includes standard international features comparable to Paris PASS, London PASS and New York PASS.

Meanwhile, Meridian Tourist Access Sdn Bhd managing director Farouk Nurish expects to sell 20,000 KL PASS cards in the first year.

KL PASS is available online via its website or can be purchased at KL City Gallery, KL Concierge Kiosk and at KL Hop-On-Hop-Off ticket counters.


Monday, 28 September 2015

UNESCO Wants Langkawi To Become A Geopark Reference Centre

LANGKAWI, Sept 28 (Bernama) -- The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has agreed to make Langkawi as a geopark reference centre for South East Asia, Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) Chief Executive Officer, Tan Sri Khalid Ramli said, here Monday.

He said the agreement was made in the UNESCO report on Langkawi which was tabled during the 4th Asia-Pacific Geoparks Network (APGN) San'in Kaigan Symposium held in Tottori city, Japan earlier this month.

According to him, the international organisation's gesture came as an additional boost for Langkawi as the island was accorded a green card rating for its efforts to retain its status as a UNESCO Global Geopark.

"UNESCO had mentioned that Langkawi is a dynamic and vibrant geopark," he said in a press conference to announce the achievement here Monday.

According to him, the latest validation made by UNESCO on Langkawi's status would synergise with the recent announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to make it as Malaysia's first low carbon island by 2030.

Meanwhile, APGN Coordinator, Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Ibrahim Komoo said the geopark reference centre would function through training provision at the Langkawi Research Centre or via exposure trips by geopark aspiring groups.

He said the geopark formal training would be conducted through the collaboration between LADA and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), while the local geopark task force would guide visiting groups to expose the latter on the Langkawi Geopark.

According to him, eversince being accorded the status for the first time in 2007, Langkawi had been "informally" made as a reference centre by other foreign groups from South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia who planned to create geopark in their countries.

Being the first global geopark recognised by UNESCO in South East Asia, he said Langkawi since then had continued to become a learning ground that had enabled the countries to suceed in creating their own geoparks.

"Now after getting a green card (to retain the Global Geopark status for the third consecutive term), UNESCO had felt that Langkawi deserved to be formally recognised as a geopark reference centre," he added.


‘Half-Kampung Kid’ Nick Krygios Faces Off Against In-Form Giraldo As Main Draw Begins Tomorrow

The exciting main draw of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2015 is set to commence tomorrow with two singles matches and one doubles match to be played on the Centre Court of the Putra Stadium here in Bukit Jalil.

Now in its seventh edition, the USD$1,041,540 ATP 250 World Tour tournament boasts one of the strongest fields of players in its history and although top seeds will only descend to the court from Tuesdaytomorrow’s featured match will see the seventh seeded ‘Half-Kampung Kid’ Nick Kyrgios take on Columbian Santiago Giraldo on Centre Court (beginning 7.15pm onwards) in what is arguably the most anticipated matchup of the first round.

The 20-year-old Australian Krygios is having the best season of the career, breaking into the top 50 for the first time in January and reaching a career high ATP World Tour ranking of No.25 in June after advancing to his first ATP World Tour final in Estoril in May (l. to Gasquet). He is currently ranked at No.42.

The 27-year-old Giraldo is ranked just 16 spots lower at No.58 and also comes into the Malaysian Open in good form, having already made two ATP 250 semifinals this year.

Kyrgios, whose mother, Norlaila, is from Malaysia, is returning to the tournament for the second straight year and will hope to improve on last year’s performance where he lost to Matosevic in the first round.

“This is one of the tournaments I would love to win (my first title) because it’s close to home - I’ve visited Malaysia six times already. Even though it’s an ATP 250 event, it’s a tough draw with lots of good players coming in. I have been training hard here in Kuala Lumpur so I think my chances are good,” said the confident Aussie, who beat Roger Federer at the Mutua Madrid Open in May.

In the other singles match to be played, big serving Sam Groth of Australia (#54) will face Germany’s Benjamin Becker in the day’s first main draw match on Centre Court (beginning 4pm onwards).

The 27-year-old Aussie Sam Groth (#54), who holds the world record for the fastest serve at 263km/h, has picked up two Challenger titles and beaten the likes of Feliciano Lopez and Viktor Troicki this year.

Becker is ranked lower at No.71 but is no stranger to the hard courts of Malaysia, having made the quarterfinals here in Kuala Lumpur last year.

The doubles main draw is also set to begin tomorrow with local wild card pairing Mohd Assri Merzuki and Syed Mohd Agil Syed Naguib taking on the Mexican-German duo of Santiago Gonzalez and Phillip Petzschner.

Merzuki and Agil put in a good showing at the Iran F13 last December, where they made the last 16 in their first appearance as doubles partners, but tomorrow’s match will be a sterner test of their growing chemistry.

Even though Gonzalez and Petzschner have never partnered on tour, the duo have 16 doubles titles between them, most notably Petzschner’s Grand Slam wins (Wimbledon 2010 and US Open 2011, both with Melzer).


After yesterday’s remarkable win in the first round of qualifiers, local boy Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak failed to overcome his second hurdle today, going down 6-1, 6-1 in 51 minutes to qualifying fourth seed Michal Przysiezny of Poland.

“I thought I was ready for today’s match, but I wasn’t, both physically and mentally. The level today was much higher and I’m not yet used to the pace. Now I feel I am more aware on what I need to work on to move forward,” said the 20-year-old, who will shift focus to the next Davis Cup, where Malaysia will attempt to maintain their position in Group 2.

With second round qualifying matches concluding today, all four final matches are set to take place on Centre Court and Court 1 from 1pm tomorrow.

On Centre Court, top seeded qualifier Yuichi Sugita of Japan (#131) takes on Italian Matteo Donati before Przysiezny (#150) faces off against 24-year-old American Daniel Nguyen.

Meanwhile on Court 1, second seeded qualifier Luca Vanni of Italy (#136) will face another Japanese, Yasutaka Uchiyama, at1pm followed by the match between German Mischa Zverev and Artem Sitak of New Zealand.

Off the court, several players were involved in activities in and around Kuala Lumpur today.

In the morning, local favourite Nick Kyrgios and Viktor Troicki of Serbia visited the Skyrides Festivals Park at the Malaysian administrative capital of Putrajaya, while a special meet and greet session with Nick Kyrgios and Jeremy Chardy saw fans throng to The Pavilion shopping mall located in the renowned Bukit Bintang shopping district in the evening.

Once again the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur is making the event affordable for all Malaysians. Entry from Saturday 26 September to Tuesday 29 September is free. Thereafter tickets will be between RM10 to RM620. Tickets can be purchased now on-line via the tournament website, at TicketCharge outlets or through the ticket hotline at TicketCharge Ph: 603-9222 8811.

The tournament would like to thank its suite of official sponsors. In addition to the distinguished support of the Event Patron, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia, Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of Youth & Sports, the event is proud to have prestigious commercial sponsors that include KPJ Healthcare Berhad, Rado, CNN International, the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Wilson, 100 Plus, the Albukhary Foundation, Astro and the ATP World Tour’s Premier Partner Corona. 


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Disappointing End For DRIVE M7 SIC Racing Team At Aragon

MotorLand Aragon, Spain– Sunday 27th September
Circuit: MotorLand Aragon
Circuit Length: 5.1 km
The results of the Aragon Grand Prix were less than satisfying for the DRIVE M7 SIC Racing Team, with both riders failing to capitalise on their qualifying positions.
Experiencing a difficult start in the opening lap, both Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Jakub Kornfeil immediately dropped back through the Moto3 field to 24th and 28th place.
Regaining his rhythm Kornfeil began to work his way back into the fight for the points. Lapping at the same pace as the leaders the Czech rider battled throughout the twenty lap race, but unable to regain positions lost, had to settle for fourteenth place at the finish line.
After showing strength throughout the weekend, Zulfahmi Khairuddin’s Grand Prix ended in frustration for the Malaysian rider, with a technical issue on the #63 KTM machine forcing him to retire from the race.
Johan Stigefelt – Team Manager
“This was definitely not the result we wanted, or expected today. We’ve had a very good weekend up until now; in practice both riders have showed improvement and consistency. Throughout qualifying they both had good pace but in warm up this morning we experienced some issues. The riders didn’t feel comfortable with the cooler track temperature and they didn’t do well, even though we had the bikes set-up exactly like we did yesterday. In the race both riders made a pretty bad start. Jakub also made a mistake going into turn four and a lot of riders passed him; he tried to fight back but he had already dropped down the field. We were looking for a top ten result with him today, so it’s very disappointing. I’m not happy at all with the way he rode today; he’s experienced and been doing this for many years so he really needs to ride better and fight harder. Fahmi unfortunately had very bad luck and for this I am very sorry for him. He experienced an issue with the bike from the start of the race and this forced him to stop. There was absolutely nothing Fahmi could do. It’s a real shame for him because he’s been doing a great job all weekend. I really think he could have scored points here today. Now we have to move forward from this and look to Japan; we will fight hard until the end.”
#63 Zulfahmi Khairuddin – DNF
“I’m really disappointed with the result today. I’ve felt so good on the bike all weekend, so it’s very frustrating that it has ended like this. My qualifying position was okay and with the set-up I had I felt really confident. However as the race started I immediately knew something wasn’t right with the bike. I tried to push but it was so hard and I slipped back through the field. I didn’t want to just stop so I kept going but the problem just got worse. Many riders were able to pass me. With seven laps to go I knew I couldn’t do anymore; I had no choice but to retire from the race. Of course I am disappointed but on the positive side I’m feeling a lot happier with the set-up we have found here. I hope now to just put this behind me and focus on Japan. I believe we have a good competitive bike and I know I can battle for the points; we just need a little luck on our side too.”
#84 Jakub Kornfeil – P14
“My start was not the best and already at the first corner I arrived in around fifteenth position. I wanted to go through the guys and make up for this but unfortunately I made a mistake into corner four; I went completely out of the track and in the moment that I was coming back another rider pushed me back out again. I lost a lot of positions from this moment and so I had to build my race again from twenty eighth place. After all of this I lost a little bit concentration and I didn’t ride my best for another four or five laps. I managed to get back into a rhythm and started to push as hard as I could. I set my fastest lap in the race and I caught the group fighting for the points. It was not easy to battle with the other riders but I knew I had to just try my best. It was a hard fight; every time I passed someone, they would just pass me straight back. I was angry because the Honda’s always passed me on the straight; they would never try in the corners. This is why I couldn’t make more progress through the group. In the last three laps I tried even more but there were riders everywhere; every single corner there was a fight, it was crazy. Of course to start twelfth and finish fourteenth is not what we wanted, so I’m sorry to the team for this. In the end we have some more points, which is good, so now we must continue to build on this at the next three back-to-back races overseas.”
-SIC Racing Team facebook.

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Local Wild Card Ahmad Deedat Snatches Impressive Victory In First Round Of Qualifying

While local tennis stars were giving the crowds something to cheer about on Centre Court, the main draw ceremony threw up a number of intriguing first round matchups for fans to look forward to in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2015 that began today with qualifying at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil from 26 Sep to 4 Oct.

Malaysian rising tennis star Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak stole the limelight during the first round of qualifying with an impressive 7-5, 6-3 victory over 27-year-old Australian Zach Itzstein.

The 20-year-old Damansara lad started strong, winning a break point in the very first game to set the tone for the match, and held off the challenge of his more experienced opponent on route to becoming only the second Malaysian to achieve victory over foreign opposition since the tournament’s inception seven years ago.

The youngster, who is having his best season to date after picking up the Kuala Lumpur Open title last month, will face the fourth seeded qualifier, Michal Przysiezny (#150) of Poland, in the second qualifying round tomorrow.

“It feels great for me to win here at the Malaysian Open. The victory will boost my confidence. I know better now where my level of playing is and what I need to work on, now that I am exposed to a higher level of tennis. I think I can still improve my focus and intensity so that I fight for every game and play better on the big points. I have to attribute my victory to my Dad and my coach for all their efforts and faith in me. I know that (Przysiezny) is a good player - his intensity and level of play will be high so I will need to maintain my intensity as well to match him,” said Ahmed after the match.

Meanwhile, 26-year-old Muhamad-Ashaari bin Zainal Abidin, who was the first local to win a match against foreign opposition at the Malaysian Open in 2013, came close to notching a second victory for Malaysia on Centre Court but could not sustain his first set performance partially hampered by a leg injury sustained during the match, eventually going down 7-6 (0), 4-6, 4-6 to 19-year-old Russian Ilya Vasilyev in a grueling 2 hours and 17 minutes encounter.

Two other Malaysians were also in action today - Syed Mohd Agil Syed Naguib and Christian Oliver Lee - but neither were able to overcome their higher ranked and more experienced opponents.

With a fully-packed qualifying draw this year, a total of 16 matches were held over three courts at the Putra Stadium today – a tournament record.

The second round of qualifying will be held tomorrow from 10am onwards, with five matches slated for Centre Court and a further three matches on Court 1.


The main draw of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2015 was held this afternoon in a public ceremony at the Putra Stadium here at Bukit Jalil and fashioned a number of intriguing ties to whet fans’ appetites before matches get underway from Monday.

Featuring one of the strongest fields in its seven year history, the tournament’s top four seeds this year include Spaniards David Ferrer (#8) and Feliciano Lopez (#16), Croatian wild card entry Ivo Karlovic (#18) and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov (#19), who all received byes into the second round.

Of the remaining seeded players, seventh seeded Australian rising star Nick Kyrgios can perhaps lay claim to the trickiest first round tie, drawing Colombian Santiago Giraldo.

The 20-year-old world No.42 Kyrgios is known in Malaysia as the ‘Half-Kampung Kid’, an affectionate nickname referencing his Malaysian mother, and is in the form of his life this year, having become the first teenager to reach the Australian Open quarters for 25 years in January and beating Roger Federer at the Mutua Madrid Open in May.

Meanwhile, 27-year-old Giraldo is ranked No.58 and is in similarly good form this year, having made two ATP 250 semifinals at the Brasil Open and Geneva Open respectively. The duo have only met once before, with Kyrgios eking out a tight two set victory in last year’s Canadian Masters.

“It was a long flight from Columbia but I’m happy to be back here in Asia and in Malaysia. The quality of the draw is really good and fans should be excited by some of the matches coming up. I have a tight first round, but I will take it match-by-match,” said Giraldo, who was present during the draw ceremony.

Fifth seed Viktor Troicki (#22) of Serbia will kick off his campaign against Radu Albot (#99) of Moldova, with the 29-year-old Troicki coming from a set down to take victory in the duo’s only previous meeting in last year’s San Marino Challenger.

Sixth seed Jeremy Chardy, who is playing some of the best tennis of his career this year (currently ranked at #26), comes into the tournament fresh off a confidence boosting run into the US Open round of 16 earlier this month, most notably ousting David Ferrer along the way.

The 28-year-old Frenchman will take on the very exciting 6’6” tall 18-year-old German Alexander Zverev, who boasted career high ranking of #74 in June this year (currently at #79).

In 2014, Zverev was the first 17-year-old to finish in the Top 150 since Nadal (No.47) and Gasquet (No. 93) in 2003.

The eighth and final seeded player in the tournament, Vasek Pospisil of Canada, will take on a qualifier in the first round. The 25-year-old will be making his third appearance in Kuala Lumpur, with his best outing in 2012 when he made quarterfinals.

Another exciting first round tie sees fiery Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis (#52) take on Spanish former top ten star Nicolas Almagro (#77), who is working his way back up the rankings after sitting much of 2014 out due to injuries to his shoulder and right foot.

Wild card recipient Almagro, who is making his third appearance here in Kuala Lumpur, won the ATP Challenger in Genova and reached the quarters or better at five other events so far in 2015.

Baghdatis is making his fourth appearance in Kuala Lumpur (made the finals in 2011 where he lost to Tipsarevic) and has consistently finished within the top 100 of the ATP World Tour rankings for the last ten years running.

The two 30-year-olds have only met once on tour, with Almagro winning in straight sets at Roland Garros in 2012.

In another intriguing first round tie, 27-year-old Aussie Sam Groth (#54), who holds the world record for the fastest serve at 263km/h, will take on 34-year-old Benjamin Becker (#71) of Germany, who made the quarterfinals here in Kuala Lumpur last year.

Groth has won two challenger titles this year in Manchester and Taiwan and also made the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 Mercedes Cup in Germany this June, beating Feliciano Lopez along the way.

The draw of the doubles was also released today, with all main draw matches beginning from Monday.

Off the court, a special autograph session was held at the Putra Stadium foyer before the draw ceremony. Santiago Giraldo was on hand to meet and greet with fans as well as pick four lucky winners to walk away with giant tennis balls.

Once again the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur is making the event affordable for all Malaysians. Entry from Saturday 26 September to Tuesday 29 September is free.  Thereafter tickets will be between RM10 to RM620. Tickets can be purchased now on-line via the tournament website, at TicketCharge outlets or through the ticket hotline at TicketCharge Ph: 603-9222 8811.

The tournament would like to thank its suite of official sponsors. In addition to the distinguished support of the Event Patron, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia, Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of Youth & Sports, the event is proud to have prestigious commercial sponsors that include KPJ Healthcare Berhad, Rado, CNN International, the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Wilson, 100 Plus, the Albukhary Foundation, Astro and the ATP World Tour’s Premier Partner Corona.