Thursday, 29 September 2016

(The Star) Pilot opens restaurant that replicates in-flight experience on the ground

JOHOR BARU: If you have always enjoyed your in-flight dining experience, you can now replicate it without leaving the ground at the Dream Liner Airway Café.
Its owner Jonathan Lee, 23, who is himself a pilot, said he had dreamt of setting up such a restaurant for many years.
“I had looked for ideas on how to turn my dream into reality as I wanted to set up an establishment that would be different from others.
“I am lucky to have received support from my elder brother and two best friends who supported my idea and become my business partners as well.
“I was inspired by a restaurant in China which operated from an old aeroplane,” he said when met at the café located in Taman Desa Tebrau here.
The café has been made to look like a cabin to give customers or `passengers’ that aviation feel.
“Customers are given a passport-themed menu and an order form that looks like a boarding pass,” said Lee, adding that seven “cabin crew” or waiters also wear airline-themed outfits.The cafe is open from 11am until 11pm daily, except Tuesdays.
Lee said it could accommodate about 53 diners and that the overhead compartments, aeroplane seats, windows, cubicles and other props were custom-built in China.

The cafe serves western, local and Korean dishes.

(The Star) More than just books

Having started out as a missionary printing press which was later named Methodist Publishing House in 1906, the company still carries the acronym today.
The business changed several hands before coming under the wing of Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar in 2000 to become a Malaysian-owned company.
Since then, the book retailer has established 35 stores nationwide.
“We have come a long way, and marked a lot of firsts in the industry,” said MPH Bookstores Sdn Bhd business development general manager Ivy Tan.
Among some of these achievements were opening megastores and entering the then lesser known e-commerce market.
“We had our first 30,000sq ft megastore at Mid Valley followed by a two-floor 40,000sq ft lot at 1 Utama Shopping Centre, and we were also the first to sell books online back in the late 1990s,” said Tan.
However, she said, the venture was affected by the Dotcom Bubble, and things did not pick up until 2007 when people started getting more comfortable buying things online.
“Slowly, people started to buy books too, and in 2012, the company registered a triple-digit growth in online book sales,” noted Tan.
Although the hype slowed down, Tan said the online business came to a stable state.
“Eventually, we want to be a B2B platform catering to mom-and-pop bookstores which distributors may not necessarily want to deliver to.
With the dynamic economy and ever-changing market demands, Tan said the retail business has to adapt with the times.
“Gone are the days when bookstores only sell books; they’re now more of a lifestyle store. This is also evident when you visit bookshops abroad.”
As the company celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, Tan said MPH is already on track to be more than just a traditional bookstore.
Diversifying, Tan explains, does not mean the company will change its core business.
“The book business will always be our bread and butter,” emphasised Tan.
“Granted, certain book genres are shrinking in demand such as recipe books, business, gardening and pet-related titles as the information are readily available online.
“But we’re fortunate to have a strong collection of children titles, international school syllabus and workbooks as well as young adult genre books which are a major contributor to the business,” remarked Tan.
She said the company will not stray far from its main business, but will offer value-added services and additional options for customers.
MPH is setting out to attract more non-book lovers with a wider repertoire of stationery, gift products and lifestyle items.
On top of that, it is also solidifying its company portfolio with two new ventures, namely office+ and the Sassy lifestyle brand.
“Office+ aims to become a one-stop business centre, and what better way to unveil it within our bookstore at Nu Sentral, which is located in the heart of a business community,” said Tan.
The room-for-hire is basically where businesses can opt for a meeting room alternative while they also have office solutions such as printing, photocopy and courier services.
“We also offer computer rentals as well as corporate gifts and premiums services,” said Tan, adding that these were directed at SMEs and startups.
Another of the company’s new brand, Sassy, is developed to capture the female segment of the market with a growing range of products spanning from stationery, decorations and accessories.
“It’s only launched in MPH Nu Sentral so far, but we’re already in the midst of setting up the Sassy corner in other outlets such as Publika, Mid Valley and 1 Utama by mid October.
“We’ll also be launching a Sassy webstore where customers can buy online,” added Tan.
She said eventually, both projects look to be expanded beyond MPH bookstore grounds and become standalone stores in the future.
MPH too, looks to continue in its expansion.
“We are still opening new stores, but we’re selective. We are looking at locations in urban cities.
"Two or three more will be established in 2017.”

And so, the story continues.

(The Star) Drawn to the prawn dumpling

Having been operating for more than three decades, Ming Ji Wantan Mee stall is no stranger to most people in Kuala Lumpur.
What is so special about this stall is its homemade ingredients used in its noodle dishes that leave a lasting impression on its customers, who return not only for the wantan mee but also other items on the menu.
Stall owner See Kok Meng, 69, has been selling the noodles since 1985 in Kepong.
“We have been here for a long time. We start our business at 3pm until 11pm or when we finish our stock of noodles.
“I make most of the ingredients such as the char siew (barbecued pork), curry chicken, soy sauce pai kuat (pork ribs) as well as the anchovy base soup,” he said.
One of the highlights is definitely the prawn wantan (dumpling).
See said he would not serve prawn wantan if he could not get fresh big prawns from the market.
“Big prawns make the wantan tastier.
“If there are no prawns, I use minced pork instead,” he said.
Aside from the staple char siew wantan mee, diners can opt for various sides to go with the noodles such as curry chicken, soy sauce braised pork ribs or braised mushroom and chicken feet.
My usual order would be a plate of chicken feet and mushroom noodles and a bowl of dumplings.
Using minced pork and prawns as the filling, the dumplings are tasty while the juicy Chinese mushroom and tender chicken feet go well with the noodles.
There are also rice dishes such as chicken rice as well as rice with char siew or pork ribs.
After so many years of selling noodles, See has yet to contemplate retirement.
“I will continue the business as long as I am healthy.
“This is a good business, I hope it can live on,” he said.

The stall is located in Jalan Antoi 1, Kepong. It opens daily except Tuesdays.

(The Star) Demand for residential properties in Putrajaya expected to increase

The recently concluded forum touched on a variety of topics, from the effects of the overnight policy rate (OPR) and leveraging one’s profile in mortgage, to the growth and development of Putrajaya.
Experts were at the event to impart their knowledge on how finance and location correlate to the feasibility of purchasing properties.
Ho Chin Soon Research chief executive officer Ishmael Ho presented his talk titled “Growth and development of Putrajaya: Now and then”, where he spoke on the centre of gravity which has shifted from the Kuala Lumpur city centre to the Kinrara Army Camp.
The population is moving down south rapidly, encouraged by existing and upcoming infrastructure in those areas.
A map plotted by the company showed two circles comprising the first and second tiers 20km of Greater Kuala Lumpur.
Putrajaya, which is located within the first tier, is currently experiencing robust population growth rates, signalling that demand for homes is still healthy.
The progression of Putrajaya is rapid even after only five years, where clear changes can be seen, thanks to the Maju Expressway (MEX).
“The expressway was one of the key infrastructures that helped to completely transform Putrajaya.
“Apart from the existing infrastructure, there are two interesting upcoming projects.
“One is the MRT 2, which is also known as the Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya line, that is expected to be completed in the year 2022.
“The other is the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) line which is located in close proximity to Precinct 12 in Putrajaya,” said Ho.
Tax and GST consultant Dr Choong Kwai Fatt said the 350km HSR line, which has an expected completion date in 2026, will pass through Putrajaya on its way from Bandar Malaysia to Jurong East in Singapore.
According to Choong, the KL-Singapore HSR line provides direct entry for Singaporeans to access the rest of Malaysia.
With 90-minute travel time, locals and foreigners will only need to take the KLIA Express for 19 minutes to reach KL Sentral, the main transport hub that connects to the rest of Greater KL.
“As Putrajaya is a green and intelligent city, it possesses many of the modern comforts, well-established amenities and excellent infrastructure, thus making it a central point along the HSR line.
“Therefore, one can expect more demand for residential properties in the district,” he said.

For details on future events and happenings, visit

(The Star) Environment exco: The alleged lot not part of the gazetted Paya Indah Wetlands

There are no plans to develop Paya Indah Wetlands in Dengkil.
A local daily had reported that a portion of the 450ha wetland was said to have been changed from agricultural to mixed development and it was believed to have been approved by the Selangor Government.
The particular lot, said to be Lot 68054 in Mukim Tanjung Dua Belas, Kuala Langat, was alleged to be located in the vicinity of Paya Indah Wetlands.
When StarMetro queried the state government, Selangor Green Technology and Environment Committee chairman Elizabeth Wong said the land in question was not located in the gazetted area.
“This lot is not part of Paya Indah Wetlands. Claims that a portion of the wetlands being approved for redevelopment is false,” she said.
She said the 450ha Paya Indah Wetlands was gazetted as a wetland sanctuary back in 1998 and development projects would not be allowed.
“There was a memorandum of understanding signed between the Environment Ministry and the Selangor Government to protect this wetland,” she added.
The land office showed that Paya Indah Wetlands was only made up of two lots, which are Lot 3974 and Lot 4827 Mukim Tanjung Dua Belas.
Both these lots are gazetted as a wetland sanctuary, dated February 1998 and is under the purview of the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan).
“The particular lot which was claimed to have been rezoned is located beside the Paya Indah Wetlands and not inside the area. It is not gazetted as a wetland,” said Wong.
She explained that any development or conversion of land done outside the Paya Indah Wetlands would have to adhere to the stipulated regulations and processes.
Wong said the particular lot was approved for conversion from agricultural to mixed development, but Wong reiterated that it was private land and was not part of Paya Indah Wetlands.
She said the state did not receive any application for the conversion of any portion in Paya Indah Wetlands.
Wong also refuted claims that the particular lot was listed under Unesco’s World Heritage Forest programme and was part of the Ramsar Convention, which is an inter-governmental treaty for the conservation of wetlands and their resources.
She said there were only six Ramsar Convention sites in Malaysia to-date and none of them were in Selangor.
The sites are Tasik Bera in Pahang, Tanjung Piai, Pulau Kukup and Sungai Pulai in Johor, Kuching Wetland in Sarawak and Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetland in Sabah.
When StarMetro visited the wetlands over the weekend, there were no signboards or activities to show any redevelopment was being carried out at the location.
There were a number of visitors at the wetlands having a picnic under the shady trees or cycling in the area.
Parents were also seen bringing their children to see the hippopotamus and crocodiles there along with turtles and hedgehogs.
There are also chalets for rent and campsites for the more adventurous visitors.

Perhilitan could not be reached for comment at press time.

(The Star) Shift in sales strategy helps Hai-O attract younger crowd

KUALA LUMPUR: Multi-level marketing firm Hai-O Enterprise Bhd said a shift in its sales strategy to focus on smaller and less pricey consumer items is helping the company attract the younger crowd.
This is fuelling its double-digit revenue growth.
“Our shift in strategy has attracted more young entrepreneurs to sign up as distributors in the MLM division,” group managing director Tan Keng Kang said.
“At present we have 80,000 distributors and the numbers are still growing everyday,” Tan told reporters after Hai-O’s 41st AGM yesterday.
Tan noted that in efforts to drive higher sales volume in the MLM segment, it had ploughed in RM10mil in capital expenditure to upgrade its e-commerce platform and set up more distribution centres nationwide.
“We will open more distribution centres to improve efficiency of resources and support the increasing sales volume to ensure business sustainability.
“We have also plans in the pipeline to expand Hai-O’s market share in the virtual market,” he said, adding Hai-O’s undertakings in the e-commerce activities were still in the preliminary stages.
Hai-O’s net profit for the first quarter ended July 31, 2016 rose 46.9% to RM9.74mil or 5.03 sen per share, from RM6.63mil or 3.39 sen per share, a year earlier, mainly contributed by its MLM and wholesale divisions.
Revenue was up 42% to RM78.66mil from RM55.38mil.
In the meantime, Tan expects Hai-O’s retail and wholesale segments to be impacted by the soft consumer sentiment amid the weak economy and uncertainties around the region.
But we hope to mitigate this by managing cost overheads and improving ties with business associates to expand product offerings,” he noted.
On its plans in China and Indonesia, Tan said the company did not intend to shift its distribution business from the countries, although the operating conditions were tough.
“It is rather challenging doing business in Indonesia and China due to the stringent regulations there, but we are not moving away because opportunities are still huge in these markets,” he said, adding that it would focus on growing its distributions in South-East Asia.
Hai-O intends to grow its market capitalisation to RM1bil in the next three years, and hoped to maintain its 50% dividend policy.

Hai-O shares closed unchanged at RM3.45 yesterday with a market value of RM662mil.

(The Star) Flat Q4 profit for Gamuda

PETALING JAYA: Gamuda Bhd recorded RM152.1mil in net profit for the fourth quarter ended July 31, 2016, down marginally by 1%, while revenue was at RM614.4mil, also lower by 1.4%.
In its announcement to Bursa Malaysia, the group said the decrease in revenue was mainly due to tapering of underground and elevated works of the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) Line 1.
The group’s profit before tax for the quarter, however, was up by 10.3%, attributed mainly to cost savings arising from the near completion of the same project.
For the full-year, the group recorded RM626.13mil in net profit and RM2.12bil in revenue, down 11.59% and 8.21% respectively.
It said this was primarily due to the softening of the Malaysian property market and the tapering of underground and elevated works of the KVMRT Line 1 project.
The group’s construction division saw a decrease in revenue and profit before tax for the current year to date, due to the lessening of underground and elevated works for the KVMRT Line 1 project.
Although its property division was hit by the softening property market, the group said sales from properties in Vietnam and Singapore continued to improve.
In its water and expressway concessions division, the group said the increase in revenue and profit before tax for the year resulted from the toll rate hike of certain expressways.
Quarter on quarter, the group’s profit before tax increased to RM210mil from RM186mil previously, mainly due to higher contribution from construction division on the back cost savings from the near completion of the KVMRT Line 1 project.
On its prospects for the year ahead, the group said it anticipates a good performance from on-going construction projects and steady earnings from its expressway concessions division.
“The property division’s performance is expected to pick up in the next few quarters due to the launches of several new projects in Malaysia and overseas,” it said.
On the status of the KVMRT Line 1 project, the group said the overall cumulative progress at the end of August 2016 was at 91% completion and was on target for completion of phase one in December 2016 and full completion by July 2017, with no significant cost overruns so far.

As for MRT Line 2, it said the contract award programme was on track with 22 work packages awarded for the construction of the line.

(The Star) Plan to demolish Ampang Park stalled

KUALA LUMPUR: Thirty-nine strata owners and tenants of the Ampang Park Shopping Centre here succeeded in getting their interim stay to the plan to demolish the iconic mall to make way for the construction of the MRT Line 2 project to Oct 20.
“The interim stay has been extended from Aug 16 to Oct 20,” lawyer Jason Ng Kau told reporters after meeting the judge in the chambers.
“This means, the land adminis­trator cannot issue ‘form K’ to take possession of Ampang Park and demolish it,” he added.
He said his clients would appeal to the Federal Court if they lose in Court of Appeal.
The High Court also fixed the same date to hear the proper stay application.
The interim stay was earlier granted by the high court on Aug 16 and expired yesterday.
The Court of Appeal has also fixed Oct 5 for the case management before the president of Court of Appeal fixed a date for hearing of their three interlocutory appeals.
The three interlocutory appeals include Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd’s (MRT Corp) application to become an interve­ner in the case.
Ampang Park traders had also requested for the MRT construction plan and other documents which was not granted by the High Court.
An appeal for the discovery has already been filed.
“The High Court had also dismissed our judicial review on June 30 and we are appealing against the decision,” he said, adding that all three appeals most pro­bably would be heard together in the Court of Appeal.
In the court papers filed on Jan 8, the applicants, who owned more than one strata title, sought a declaration that the approval of the state authority for the acquisition of their lands for the MRT project was unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid.
The MRT Line 2 has a total length of 52.2km, of which 13.5km will be underground.
They objected to the plan to demolish the shopping centre, which had been operational since 1973 and has 253 business lots.

MRT’s management had issued a notice asking them to vacate the building by April this year.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

(The Star) More green and open spaces

ISKANDAR PUTERI: Plans are in the pipeline to allocate more green areas or open spaces especially within Iskandar Malaysia which is the country’s first economic growth corridor.
Johor Housing and Local Government committee chairman Datuk Abdul Latiff Bandi said that the state wanted to have a balance between development and ensuring a conducive living environment for the people.
“Progress and development are inevitable but at the same time we, including developers, must take into account the social well-being of the people,’’ he said in a press conference on after opening a symposium on planning and property investment in southern Johor 2016 jointly organised by the Johor Baru Central Municipal Council and the Town and Country Planning Department.
Abdul Latiff said among the public parks to be opened in Iskandar Malaysia within the near future are the 135.16ha Regional Open Space in Horizon Hills, the 68.79ha Linear Park stretching from Kota Iskandar to Eco Botanics and the 23km boardwalk along Danga Bay.
He added these parks would enable residents and urbanites to enjoy outdoor activities and get closer to nature, especially children.
Abdul Latiff added that just like residents are proud of Central Park in New York, the United States, Johor too wanted to have its own version for Johor Baru residents.
“We don’t want to turn Johor Baru into a concrete jungle… our people deserve to have more green spaces for them to breathe clean and fresh air,” said Abdul Latiff.
On that note he said, developers also have a role to play in providing ample green areas in their development projects and not only think of making a profit.
Abdul Latiff pointed out although developers were required by the state government to allocate 10% of the total land area in their projects, some of them were found to have allocated less.
“It is clearly stated in the regulations imposed by us that 10% should be allocated as a single plot for a public park and not divided into small plots,” he said.

Abdul Latiff added this was one of the main reasons why the development plans submitted by developers were rejected by the relevant state authorities, causing a delay in their projects.

(The Star) Strong interest in industrial zone

Limited light industrial units at the Sungai Lokan Light Industrial Area in Butterworth, Penang, are still available.
Out of the 71 units, only 34 are left for sale in the prime location beside the North-South Expressway.
Each unit features a 10m-high ceiling and its floors are also capable of withstanding 2.5-tonne of weight per square metre.
Its built-up area is approximately 4,168sq ft with a land area of 8,105sq ft and above.
Prices for the units start from RM2.4mil.
The Pemaju Sungai Lokan project is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2018.
At the recent launch, state Works, Utilities and Transportation Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng praised the developer for initiating the project.
“The project will not only provide more jobs to the locals but also increase the economic value of the area,” he added.
Also present were the company’s board of directors members Datuk Seri Tan See Shin, S.P. Tan, Chooi Loo See and Ooi You Chai, who is also board chairman.

For more information on the project, call 014-5151515 or visit the showroom which is open from Monday to Sunday (9am to 6pm).