Thursday, 28 May 2015

(The Star) Company lauds move to freeze service apartment projects

JOHOR BARU: SP Setia Bhd supports the move by the state government to freeze applications for service apartment development projects in Johor as it could help to stabilise the market.
Its general manager Ricky Yeo said the freeze did not necessarily mean that there was no demand for service apartments in the state especially in Iskandar Malaysia.
“We are registering good sales for our existing and on-going serviced apartment projects but we believed that the state authorities just want to ensure the stability of the market.
“When demand for service apartments exceeds supply again, Johor might consider reviewing the freeze,” he said in a press conference at the Setia Mega Showcase at Komtar JBCC here.
Yeo also said that local buyers can look forward to acquiring the company’s latest offering – cluster homes in Setia Tropika housing estate here. “The RM110mil project is slated for completion in the next two years with 96 cluster homes up for grabs,” he said adding that housing estate’s strategic location would be one of the main strong selling point for the cluster homes.
Some 5,000 visitors were expected to throng the three-day Setia Mega Showcase organised in conjunction with Setia Group’s 40th anniversary.
Yeo explained that the showcase was organised to provide information on the company’s progress and development since its establishment in 1974.
“We have been in Johor since 1975 but not many Johoreans know that Setia is not just based here but also in other states and countries including London, Melbourne and Japan.
“Through this display, we want to let the people know where we have step foot and what to look forward to in the near future,” he added.

(The Star) Spoting migratory birds

Fraser's Hill: One blow of the whistle and off they go.
Armed with binoculars, torchlights and a pair of good walking shoes, three in a team raced against one another to sight, identify and record the most number of bird species.
Through 23 hours, they trekked up and down the winding country road here to spot the migratory birds.
The 28th edition of the International Bird Race this year attracted a higher participation of 44 teams of bird watchers.
In addition, there were 60 students from schools and higher learning institutions, who joined in the fun race.
Last year, there were only 26 teams in the advanced category, meant for serious and experienced bird watchers.
Due to limited fundings, several side events such as colouring contest and eco hunt were retained but on a smaller scale.
A poster of the birds species which can be found in Fraser’s Hill
A poster of the birds species which can be found in Fraser’s Hill
Other activities include exhibitions on nature, workshops, wildlife and bird talks to instill public awareness on the importance to preserve the environment.
Mooted by Selangor Bird Group of the Malaysia Nature Society (MNS) and Fraser’s Hill Development Corporation, the first race started in 1988 with just five teams.
Today, the event has become an important annual get-together among bird watchers and nature lovers.
Present to flag off the race was Raub district officer Datuk Khairulanuar Mahmood while Tourism Pahang general manager Datuk Ishak Mokhtar gave away the prizes to the winners.
Also present were Pahang Malaysian Handicraft director Datuk Zubir Mohd Zain and MNS president Henry Goh.
Ishak said bird watching was a healthy and academic outdoor sport.
“The objectives are to preserve nature and promote Fraser’s Hill as a bird sanctuary.
Chief arbitrator Allen Jeyarajasingam briefing the participants ahead of the race.
Chief arbitrator Allen Jeyarajasingam briefing the participants ahead of the race.
“Fraser’s Hill is still a preferred destination among international bird watchers due to the presence of many migratory birds,” he said.
Records showed that there are 263 species of birds sighted in the highlands, also known as “Little England.”
This year’s rules were slightly stricter with the inclusion of checkpoints in four locations.
Winners of the race received prizes worth about RM15,000 contributed by among others, Omicron, Minox, Boh Tea, DSC World Sdn Bhd and Manfrotto.
The winner in the advanced category was Piculets, whose members spotted 75 species of birds.
The first runner-up was Blue Nuthatch 2 (74 species) while Triple A was third (73 species).
In the novice category, Twin Birds was first (51 species) while Peacock was second (39 species) and Pororo third (38 species).
Irisdescent Blue was first in the school category, followed by Alumni UMP 1 and Alumni UMP 3.
Ishak (left) presenting the trophy to the winning team - Piculets - whose members spotted 75 species of birds.
Ishak (left) presenting the trophy to the winning team - Piculets - whose members spotted 75 species of birds.
Meanwhile, Piculets, comprising Singaporeans Lim Kim Keang, Alfred Chia and Tan Ju Lin from Malaysia, said they had participated in the race for many years but had lost count on the number of times.
Lim said his team back then was known as “Sea Eagles” and they were one of the five pioneer teams, which took part in first race in 1988.
“Together with two other keen bird watchers at that time, we won the race.
“Sadly, one of our team members had passed away and I would like to dedicate today’s win to him,” he told StarMetro.

(The Star) Floral fest back with a flourish

This year’s Penang Floral Festival will be held over a week with a slew of exciting activities lined up for the whole family.
Visitors can expect to take part in guided nature walks by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and Friends of the Penang Botanic Gardens to the waterfall.
There will also be aerobics and zumba exercises, exhibition by 11 government agencies, sale of horticulture products and plants, free health screenings, logo designing competition, as well as a colouring, essay writing and drawing competition for children during the fest from Saturday to June 7.
Penang Botanic Gardens Department director Mohd Azwa Shah Ahmad said most of the activities would be centred at the department building while the exhibition booths would be located at the car park beside the building along Waterfall Road.
“The 25 stalls selling horticulture products and plants will be located at the car park in front of the bee gallery opposite our building,” he told a press conference at the Penang Botanical Gardens Department.
He advised visitors to park their vehicles at the Penang Municipal Park or the Tamil school nearby.
“We are expecting more than 10,000 visitors over the seven days,” he said, adding that the festival would be opened by the Governor’s consort Toh Puan Majimor Shariff on June 2 at 8am till 1pm.
“The nature walks will be held over two sessions this year — one in the morning and one in the evening.
“Previously, the walks were only held in the morning.
“Registration for the walks will be done on the spot an hour before the walk commences at the MNS and Friends of the Penang Botanic Gardens booths,” he said, adding that each walk would be limited to a maximum of 30 people.
“We are constantly looking for ways to improve the festival. Perhaps we will have a mini landscaping competition next year,” he added.

(The Star) All moving smoothly

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has reiterated his assurance that there would only be ‘very minimal’ land reclamation for the Penang Sky Cab project.
“If there is any reclamation, it will only be for the car park and an integrated public transport station. It will be minimal and it has nothing to do with any land swap,” he said.
The proposed 3km cable car system will link Penang Sentral in Butterworth to Noordin Street Ghaut in George Town, Penang.
Lim said Penang Sentral would be spending RM5mil for preliminary works as well as feasibility studies before they submit formal proposals to the state.
“They are proceeding with the studies seriously. Divers are conducting sound tests on the seabed,” he told a press conference in Komtar after Penang Sentral briefed the state executive council on the project progress yesterday.
The project to build the cable car system, which was announced on April 15, is estimated to cost between RM250mil and RM300mil.
The Penang Sky Cab project is slated to be operational in 2018 and will turn the Penang Sentral complex into a 5-in-1 travel hub offering taxi, bus, rail, ferry and cable car services.

(The Star) For a safer Sepang

Committed to the Safe City Programme, Sepang Municipal Council president Puasa Md Taib plans to continue the efforts he started with Petaling Jaya, in Sepang.
“The Safe City Programme was implemented in Sepang and Petaling Jaya in 2005, but we are going to focus on these efforts again as part of our vision and mission for this and next year, parallel with our ‘Green City’ initiatives.
“We will work together with the police to identify hotspot areas, beginning with Cyberjaya.
“There are three sectors in terms of safety that we will look to improve such as infrastructure, social and economic development,” he said.
The projects will include improving waste disposal, adding street lights, upgrading vehicle access and separating pedestrian walkways.
The council has also set aside RM100,000 this year to build cycling paths, bicycle parking and improve other safety features to encourage cycling as an alternative mode of transport.
In addition, the council is taking into consideration incentives to reduce the use of plastic bags and polystyrene containers at Ramadan bazaars.
“An audit by the Licensing Department for Ramadan bazaars in 2014 showed 16 traders were successful in reducing the use of plastic bags, but that number has dropped to 13 traders this year.
“Among the incentives the council will provide traders are the ability to choose the plot and market area of their liking as well as the provision of utilities for biodegradable containers,” said Puasa.
The council is also looking to enforce health regulations and check on licences at all 11 market sites around Sepang.
Meanwhile, the council’s Treasury Department director Raja Zulhelmi Raja Saleh said implementation of the parking coupon system in Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi had been postponed to September.
“Previously, the only area in Sepang that had council-controlled parking systems was Cyberjaya, which uses the machine system.
“The parking system is not for profit, but the council needs to enhance enforcement as we have found people leaving their cars at parking bays for the whole day with no regard for others.
“We will implement the coupon system in stages in areas under the council’s jurisdiction.
“We will be using the coupon system as the machines are too costly and sensitive, which may cause many issues in the future,” he said.
Although the parking system will be implemented on Sept 1, enforcement will begin on Jan 1, 2016.

(The Star) MPSJ scraps quota for wellness centres

The Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) has abolished the quota for wellness centres in the municipality with immediate effect.
The council will decide on a case by case basis applications by business owners for licences to provide services such as reflexology, acupuncture, cupping therapy, meditation and other health-related treatments.
However, the freeze on massage parlours still stands.
Council president Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan announced this after the council’s monthly full board meeting yesterday at its headquarters in USJ 5.
“Previously, we had a quota to control the number of wellness centres.
“From now on, enforcement officers will have to step up and conduct spot checks on these centres,” he said.
There are currently more than 400 licensed wellness centres, including those offering massage services, in the municipality.
While existing massage parlours can continue operating, a freeze on issuing new licences has been imposed since 2007.
MPSJ Corporate Planning Department deputy director Muhammad Azli Miswan added that another reason for doing away with the quota is that “the council is aware that more people are into health and wellness now, it is a trend”.
“Furthermore, people have the skills to provide such services. We just have to check on these centres to ensure that they follow the regulations,” he said.
Also highlighted by a councillor at the meeting was the issue of shoddy road works.
Nor Hisham said he too has received some complaints.
“I have spoken to the engineering department and we will terminate the service of bad contractors,” he said.
There are 24 contractors under the council, one for each zone.
To date, five have received warnings for not adhering to guidelines.
On the issue of noise pollution at Jalan Berkat in Kampung Seri Aman caused by piling works for the LRT project, Nor Hisham instructed officers to look into it immediately.
It was highlighted that piling was carried out late at night till the wee hours of the morning.

(The Star) DASH still on the cards

The proposed Damansara-Shah Alam Highway (Dash) project will remain in the amended Petaling Jaya Local Draft Plan 1 and 2 (RTPJ 2) despite objections by residents of Mutiara Damansara and Damansara Perdana.
But as a result of the residents’ objections, the state government had decided on April 29 that the Malaysian Highway Authority should conduct another study on the road alignment that crossed both the said neighbourhoods.
Petaling Jaya mayor Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain said the next public hearing on the project by the state government would not include the route passing through Mutiara Damansara and Damansara Perdana.
Mohd Azizi, who chaired the Petaling Jaya City Council full board meeting yesterday, said it was true that the council had wanted to remove the Dash project from the local plan last month but had to follow the state government’s latest decision.
“Areas with no objection will go on with the public hearing,” said Mohd Azizi, adding that the hearing for the stakeholders would be chaired by state executive councillor Datuk Iskandar Samad in Petaling Jaya after Hari Raya in July.
On another matter, Mohd Azizi said the state government had decided that starting January next year, domestic waste for all local councils would be collected by Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) — a government-linked company.
Until then, he said, another company Hebat Abadi Sdn Bhd would work as “back-up” contractor.
All local councils were also told to evaluate the performance of contractors appointed to collect domestic waste, he added.
“Those who score below 74% will have their contract terminated and Hebat Abadi will do the task until December.
“We are not sure of the fate of the well performing contractors and what the arrangement will be like when SPV takes over.
“They may absorb the good ones but I am not sure of the details yet,” said Azizi, adding that if Hebat Abadi did not perform, its contract too would be terminated.
On who would pay for the waste collection services come January, Mohd Azizi said he was not told the details yet.
“Now the waste disposal budget comes from the respective council but I am not sure of future plans. The council will soon get the full details on this issue,” said Mohd Aziz.

(The Star) Buses for the people

Shah Alam, Subang Jaya and Klang residents’ dream of enjoying free public transportation will come true in July when the Selangor government starts its free bus services in the three townships.
The bus service will enable about 24,000 people to travel around those three areas for free and with ease.
Selangor Investment, Industry (SME) & Commerce and Transportation committee chairman Datuk Teng Chang Khim said the project would cost RM3.6mil a year.
The money is from the transportation committee budget, costing RM1.2mil for each 10km route, he added.
“The possible routes have already been identified with one each in Shah Alam, Subang and Klang,” Teng said, adding that the free bus service was decided after studying the free bus service in Petaling Jaya, known as the PJ City Bus.
The proposed routes, designed by the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA), Klang Municipal Council, and Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ), he said, had been submitted to the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) for approval.
Teng added that the bus was expected to pass through busy areas including government buildings, schools, commercial districts and KTM Komuter stations.
“The routes planned by MPSJ will also run along the new Kelana Jaya LRT extension. We will not pass through areas that are being serviced by commercial bus operators because we do not want to compete with them,” Teng said.
Noor Farhana Ismail, (centre), her friends Khairanee Kamarazaman, (left) and Nurul Jannaj Mohamed Yunus, listening to MBSA’s community development, and corporate department Sharul Nizam Salim’s briefing about the community bus services. — filepics
Noor Farhana Ismail, (centre), her friends Khairanee Kamarazaman, (left) and Nurul Jannaj Mohamed Yunus, listening to MBSA’s community development, and corporate department Sharul Nizam Salim’s briefing about the community bus services. — filepics
The three townships, he said, were chosen since they were the largest areas with serious traffic problem.
Teng added that the service provider would supply 10 buses and the state government would pay a lump sum for the rental, services and maintenance of the vehicles.
There were two options for the bus services, namely renting the vehicles or buying and maintaining them, he said.
He added that the ideal move would be to rent the buses and get the companies to maintain them.
He said a reputable firm, to be revealed later by Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin Ali during the launch, had been chosen to spearhead the pilot project.
All three councils will begin the bus service simultaneously to make it easier to make any changes along the way.
MBSA officer speaking to students regarding the community bus service routes.
MBSA officer speaking to students regarding the community bus service routes.
When asked about the poor ridership on PJ City Bus and the possibility of the same problem in the new areas, Teng said it was only a hiccup at the initial stage.
“It is difficult for people who have been driving all the while to start using public transportation, but more people are aware of it and are starting to use the services,” he explained.
Teng said PJ City Bus that was launched on May 14 last year, catered to about 9,000 passengers a day. It covers a 28.2km-route from the bus terminal in Jalan PJS 3/11 and services the Kampung Dato Harun KTM station, Asia Jaya LRT station and Sections 14, 16 and 17.
Other areas covered include Universiti Malaya Medical Centre and PJ Old Town.
It is aimed at getting more people to use public transport to get around Petaling Jaya, especially during peak hours in the morning and evening.
The operating hours are from 6am to 9pm daily to cater to schoolchildren and working adults.
MBSA corporate communications deputy director Shahrin Ahmad said the council already had an existing free bus service but it ran only three times a day — at 7.30am, 11.30am and 4.30pm.
The bus routes with 25 stops, runs from the Shah Alam city bus station in Section 14, and passes through Sections 2, 7, 11, 16, 17 and 18.
The community bus service introduced by Shah Alam last year for all the residents.
The community bus service introduced by Shah Alam last year for all the residents.
He hoped to incorporate new routes under the new proposal to the existing stops. “This will definitely help the lower income group we targeted when the community bus rides were first introduced,” he added.
Welcoming the move, Selangor Wanita MCA chief Ong Chong Swen said its effectiveness could be measured only after its implementation. “I welcome anything that is beneficial for the people, whether the idea comes from Pakatan or Barisan Nasional,” she said.
Ong suggested that the cost of the project be checked to ensure it was cost effective and matched the running costs of the bus operators.
USJ 6 Rukun Tetangga (KRT USJ 6) deputy chairman Juan Lee said they had waited for the free bus service for some time.
He said USJ 2, USJ 6 and USJ 5 were home to many senior citizens and free transportation would be ideal for them.
“Most senior citizens find it a hassle to drive and find parking when they run errands. The bus will make the journey fuss-free,” he added.
Juan also suggested that the bus service catered to the rush hour traffic to ease congestion in the bustling neighbourhood.
A bus service at peak hours, he said, would be useful for residents working and studying within the Subang Jaya area, especially in crowded places like SS15 and Taipan.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

(The Star) Construction sectors lift cement maker’s profit

KUCHING: Conglomerate Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd (CMS) has chalked up sterling quarterly results, largely bolstered by the strong performance of its construction materials and trading business as well as construction and road maintenance business.
For first quarter ended March 31, 2015, group revenue soared by 32% to RM491mil from RM373mil in the previous corresponding period, lifting group pre-tax profit by 44% to RM95mil from RM66.2mil.
The construction materials and trading segment’s turnover jumped to RM222.5mil from RM132.8mil while that of construction and road maintenance segment climbed to RM126.8mil from RM86.7mil. Together, the two segments contributed 94% to group turnover.
The two segments’ operating profits surged to RM30.3mil (previously RM12.4mil) or by 145% and RM25.1mil (16.3mil) or 47% respectively, and together made up 90% of the group’s pre-tax profit, according to CMS’ latest quarterly results.
The group has long-term contracts to maintain some 680km of federal roads and 5,400km of state roads in Sarawak.
Other key contributors to group revenue were cement segment RM143.8mil (vs RM132.5mil previously) and property development RM16.5mil (RM29.3mil). The cement segment’s pre-tax profit surged by 44% to RM29.4mil from RM20.4mil previously.
“The improvement was attributed to higher cement sale volume due to the continued growth of cement demand in the state, improved efficiencies, lower volume of cement imported and higher volume of cement and clinker produced,” CMS said in explanatory notes to the quarterly results.
The cement manufacturer said the impressive results of the construction materials and trading segment was due to expanded sales volume of quarry aggregates and premix as well as increase in contract work and services.
The higher revenue posted by the property development segment in first quarter last year was due to proceeds from land sale.
CMS group managing director Datuk Richard Curtis said the company had recorded “better than expected” quarterly results due to the strong local demand for its products and services.
“With commendable performance recorded in first quarter, we expect to leverage on this positive momentum to record a strong financial performance for the full year,” he said in a press statement.
“We believe that CMS is still one of the best proxy listed investments in Sarawak’s accelerating economic growth. This is consistent with the state’s promotion of energy intensive industries under Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiative and the infrastructure and related services required across state.These two drivers are set to propel the state’s economy and CMS to new heights.”
CMS has investments in two major joint-venture energy intensive industries. The company has a 25% stake in OM Materials (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, which is currently ramping up the production of ferrosilicon in Samalaju Industrial Park, Bintulu, and a 40% stake in an integrated phosphate products complex project, its earthworks of which had started.
Curtis said the group was evaluating other potential investments.
“Our strong corporate governance measures, healthy balance sheet and professional management team allow us to maximise our participation in the Sarawak growth story and position ourselves to ensure long-term sustainable growth,” he added.

(NST) Second Genting premium outlet in 2017

Kuala Lumpur: Genting Plantations Bhd will open the second premium outlet in Malaysia, offering discounts of up to 65 per cent on branded goods. 

The 300,000 sq ft outlet in Genting Highlands will house 150 designer and brand name stores when it opens by early 2017. 

Genting is developing the outlet in a 50:50 joint venture with Simon Property Group via Simon Genting Ltd for RM200 million.