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Thursday, 26 May 2016

(The Star) Many flock to the stall to taste popular ethnic Hakka cuisine

MACHAP: Those who visit Machap Baru should not miss the hong mee (red noodles), a dish unique only to this small town.
The ethnic Hakka cuisine is identified by its signature soup, which is blood red in colour.
However, the recipe was lost for several decades.
No one was seen selling hong mee in the town anymore, until five months ago.
Machap native Lai Kok Lian, 60, was the one who rediscovered its recipe.
“When I was a child, I remember eating it at an old man’s stall. He has since passed away,” she said.
Lai figured out the ingredients needed for the dish when older, and would cook it during family gatherings.
The ‘hong mee’, a dish unique only to Machap has resurfaced after disappearing for decades, thanks to Lai.
The ‘hong mee’, a dish unique only to Machap has resurfaced after disappearing for decades, thanks to Lai.
“But I have never sold it, that is until Machap Walk opened last September,” said the former kuih seller.
The soup’s unique blood-red colour, Lai explained, was not from artificial colouring.
“It is because we add char siu gravy into the soup,” she said.
Fragrant, the gravy is drippings from roasting honey-glazed pork, also known aschar siu.
“My customers keep coming back just to savour the traditional taste of hong mee,” she said.
Another attraction was the price of the noodle dish.
At RM3.50, a dish of hong mee includes slices of char siu, vegetables and crunchy fried beancurd.
“We are not stingy with the ingredients,” said Lai.
Lai started selling the noodles at Machap Walk in November last year.
Lai started selling the noodles at Machap Walk in November last year. 
Machap Walk, Lai said, has brought a new lease of life to the sleepy town.
Since its opening, the food street has attracted more than 100,000 visitors to the rural town.
“Machap has become livelier,” said Lai.

Machap Walk is open from 5pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

(The Star) Looking positive despite downtrend

Kueen Lai Group is optimistic despite talk of a softer property market this year as sales for its new development is positive.
The company saw a 100% take-up rate of its Tiara Imperio Residence Tower 1, a building comprising 275 SoHo (small office home office) units across 18 floors, generating RM83mil in sales.
At the official launch of its 34-storey, 533-unit Tower 2 in Bangi, Kueen Lai Group of Companies managing director Datuk Eng Soo Min said about 40% had already been sold.
Eng said the freehold residential development in Bangi was popular among investors because of its location.
Tiara Imperio Residence is part of the 2.06ha Tiara Imperio integrated development that includes Hotel Grand Mincott, convention hall and more than 30 retail lots.
“It is located close to many well-known institutes and universities, including Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and the German-Malaysian Institute,” said Eng.
Universiti Tenaga Nasional, The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and Universiti Putra Malaysia are just a short distance away too.
“The location also has immediate access to the KL-Seremban Highway, SILK and LEKAS, which will connect residents to Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya in 30 minutes,” he added.
Of the units sold so far, Eng said about 70% were for investment. However, the smaller units were being snapped up by those looking to live there.
“Some work in Bangi or the education facilities nearby, while others are drawn to the proximity of the UKM KTM station and the LRT in the future.”
Kueen Lai Group chief executive officer Teow Wan Min shared the affordable price was also an important factor.
“Prices start from RM267,000 for units measuring 41.8sqm,” he said.
Teow added there would be a total of 675 studio units and 133 two-bedroom units across two towers.
The components that make up Tiara Imperio, including the convention centre and Hotel Grand Mincott will be fully managed by the developer.
“The convention centre, which will have a 1,000 pax capacity, gives the community more options as there are not many similar venues for rent in the vicinity,” said Eng.
He noted that operating hotels was not new to them as they have been running Hotel Mincott in Kuchai Lama.
Piling works for Tiara Imperio will start in August and the expected completion date is the first quarter of 2019.

The entire development has a total Gross Development Value of RM265mil.

(The Star) Popiah-making in his blood

A 50-year-old tradition of making popiah basah that was passed down to Tan Cheah Kuan from his father continues to woo diners.
Tan, 58, owner of Tan Kee Poh Piah at Eng Ann Hawker Centre in Klang, now plans to pass on his popiah-making skills and business to his youngest son, Wei Jinn, 26, who helps out at the stall.
Tan recalls how he used to help his father sell popiah basah on a motorcycle along Jalan Mengkuang near Teluk Pulai, Klang and at the night market every week.
“On the back of his motorcycle was a gas stove where the pot of sengkuang would slowly cook and a flat board to make the popiah. People used to queue up to buy my father’s popiah.

(Left) Tan preparing the ingredients for the popiah basah at his stall.(Right) This delicious snack costs RM2 for the original variety and RM3 for extra fillings at Tan Kee Poh Piah stall in Eng Ann Hawker Centre, Klang.
Tan preparing the ingredients for the popiah basah at his stall.  
“My father stopped selling popiah eight years ago as he fell ill, so I continued his trade,” he said, adding that he strictly kept to his father’s recipe and would pass it on to Wei Jin.
“Wei Jinn seems very interested and helps me prepare and cook the popiah.
“I have been operating at the food court for the last seven years,” said Tan, adding that he could sell up to 200 pieces of popiah a day.
Tan, a father of four who lives in Kampung Jawa, said he had stopped sellingpopiah basah at the night market and was focusing on his business at the stall.
Tan’s popiah basah in unlike others.
The filling consists of sengkuang, cucumber, egg strips and thinly sliced fried tofu topped with home-made sweet sauce, chilli paste and two special ingredients.
The two “star” ingredients – slices of grilled Chinese sausage and crispy bits of pork lard - are added for extra crunch.
“It was my father’s idea,” said Tan, adding the skin for the popiah basah was also home-made.

It’s a wonderful feeling biting into the appetising snack and enjoying the combination of soft sengkuang and crispy lard.
The popiah basah is priced at RM2 for the original variety and RM3 for additional fillings of pork lard and sausage.
The stall is located at No 47, Jalan Pekan Baru, Kawasan 17, Klang, Selangor.

It opens from 10am to 5pm daily and is closed once a week.

(The Star) Mayor: No application for highway

Petaling Jaya mayor Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain said no application has been received for the Petaling Jaya Dispersal Link (PJD).
Speaking at the Petaling Jaya City Council’s (MBPJ) full board meeting yesterday, he said if an application had been made for the proposed elevated highway to the state government, the council would have been informed as well.
The PJD Link is said to follow a similar route as the Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex), which was rejected by the state government last year.
It was reported that residents around the Section 14 area had received pamphlets about the link, raising fears that Kidex was being resurrected under a new name.
Section 5 councillor Derek Fernandez said improving public transport was more important.
“In order of priority, we would be looking at say, a Bus Rapid Transit or public transport as the highest priority for that route, followed by pedestrians, and then only a highway,” he said.
The meeting also discussed plans for MBPJ to map and plot the various utility lines and pipes within the city.
Previously, Section 2 councillor Ermeemariana Saadon had raised the issue of delays to drainage upgrades in her area as contractors were not aware of the presence of several underground utility connections.
“Previously, the Selangor Economic Planning Unit (Upen) had been directed by the state government to collate the various underground plans for sewerage, water and telecommunications for the different local authorities,” said Mohd Azizi.
This would have created a comprehensive overall picture and helped the local authorities in terms of planning and carrying out upgrading works, the mayor added.
However, although the utility companies submitted layouts of their local connections, they did not give a city wide layout.
“We’ll have to do it by ourselves, and the Engineering Department will have to look at the cost of carrying out such a survey,” he said.
The issue of Petaling Jaya’s ageing population was also raised by Fernandez, who urged the council to look into planning and zoning for retirement and aged-living communities.
“As at Dec 31 last year, 60% of the city’s population is 45 years and above, and many houses are being converted into old folks homes,” he pointed out.

Fernandez added that while the need for such facilities could be met by private companies, the authorities, including the city council, should come up with initiatives such as affordable housing for poor senior citizens.

(The Star) Longer waiting time for train users

Heads up, KTM commuters.
Expect delays in the KTM Komuter services tomorrow as works on the Klang Valley Double Track Project (KVDT) will start.
The infrastructure and systems upgrading work will be done in four phases along the route from Tanjung Malim - Rawang - Port Klang.
The four phases are: Rawang-Simpang Batu and Kuala Lumpur-Port Klang; Simpang Batu- Kuala Lumpur-Sentul-Simpang Batu; and Port Klang-Salak Selatan.
The project is expected to be completed in 2019.
KTM Berhad Project Management general manager Ismail Said said that Electric Train Services (ETS), KTM Komuter and KTM Kargo operating along the Tanjung Malim-Rawang-Port Klang route would be affected and there would be changes on the travel schedule.
“This is because one track will be closed to make way for the upgrading works and only one track will be used for the trains,” he said during a briefing with the media at KL Sentral yesterday.
He added that the peak period for train service would remain the same, with 15-minute intervals.
“But the off-peak frequency, now at 30-minute interval, will go up to an hour,” he said.
Ismail added that KTM services nationwide would not be affected by the project.
Once completed, he said commuters could expect a 7.5-minute interval.
“The project will increase safety standards for passengers and train operations,” he said.
The 16 KTM stations along the route will also be upgraded with new toilets, surauand longer canopy for passengers to wait for their trains.
KTM Berhad Commuter Services general manager Azshidah Shah Shahari said train delays and cancellations were expected during the course of the project.
“We have plans to handle any contingencies that arise but we are not expecting any problems as we have notified the public about the upgrade, a month ago,” she said.
She also assured the public that there would be no increase in train fares after work was completed.
Those who are affected by the upgrading work could take alternative bus transport.
Public buses are available every 10 minutes on the Rawang-Medan Pasar route at RM3.70 one-way.
There will also be Bus Expressway Transit (BET) on the Bandar Tasik Puteri/Rawang-Medan Pasar route with three services in the morning and another three in the afternoon.
The fare is also RM3.70 one-way.

For bus routes and info, visit www.spad.gov.my. For train schedules and latest info, call 03-2267 1200 or visit www.ktmb.com.my

(The Star) DBKL announces ongoing efforts to improve traffic

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the Pemudah Traffic Task Force Committee have teamed up to improve traffic conditions around the city.
The changes to traffic, which involve major roads in the city such as Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan Kuching and Jalan Ampang, aim to reduce congestion and facilitate smoother flow of vehicles around the city centre.
Committee chairman Datuk Pardip Kumar Kukreja said so far, around 50 spots in central Kuala Lumpur had been enhanced and he likened the improvements to a software rather than hardware upgrade.
“We started work six months ago and our target is to work on two spots in the city every week.
“We are almost done with improvements along Jalan Tun Razak and our next target is to accelerate traffic flow along Jalan Kuching.
“It will cost not more than RM200,000.
“Poor driving habits and behaviours are causing congestion.
“We need first world mentality drivers to go with our first world infrastructure,” said Pardip, adding that the adjustments to improve traffic flow were also meant to discipline drivers.
He added that they used methods such as a proper single-lane channelisation of traffic to speed up traffic flow and stop criss-crossing of vehicles.
Some of the U-turns and traffic lights were also removed to ease traffic flow.
DBKL executive director (Planning) Datuk Mohd Najib Mohd said they used surveillance videos from the Integrated Transport Information System (ITIS) to study traffic in congested areas and map out possible solutions.
“We cannot be constructing new roads in the city because in the end it will come up to six lanes or more.
“So instead, we are improvising the existing systems as the infrastructure is already good.
Mohd Najib said DBKL planned to develop a more integrated or holistic approach to commuting into the city.
“These improvements are intended to get people from one place to the other more quickly, with priority given to people commuting into the city.
“We are trying to reduce travel time from two hours to 90 minutes so it is not only about road infrastructure but also using public transport as an alternative,” he said.
The heavily congested Jalan Tun Razak was the first road tackled by the committee.
Kerbs were installed at the Jalan Pahang roundabout to prevent motorists from changing lanes.
Traffic lights at the Jalan Tun Razak flyover and the U-turn at Jalan Ampang’s Flamingo Hotel were also removed to create smoother traffic flow.
DBKL officers will be stationed at the Bukit Bintang area to prevent motorists parking along the road and blocking traffic.
“We have also installed two traffic lights at the congested Segambut roundabout to ensure smoother flow of traffic, ” said Mohd Najib.
He added that DBKL would use live video recordings from ITIS and rainfall data from the Drainage and Irrigation Department to identify critical areas affected by flash floods and how to redirect traffic away from the water-clogged roads.
Mohd Najib said vehicles breaking down on major roads in the city was also contributing to traffic congestion.
He said a study would be carried out to determine if there was a need to prohibit old vehicles and those which were not serviced regularly – especially commercial lorries – from entering the city.
He added that another project being carried out was the construction of rain shelters under pedestrian bridges for motorcyclists.

“One of the rain shelters that has been built is at the former U-turn near Flamingo Hotel along Jalan Ampang,” he added.

(The Star) I-Bhd’s RM600mil target

SHAH ALAM: I-Bhd is targeting to double its revenue and obtain steady revenue of RM500mil to RM600mil per annum by 2018.
The group also has plans to accumulate a RM1bil investment property portfolio by 2018.
Its current investment property portfolio stands at RM285mil.
“We have delivered the first phase of I-Bhd’s growth plan, which is to make property development the main contributor.
“Revenue from the property development segment had grown eightfold since 2012 to RM200mil in 2015,” said I-Bhd deputy chairman Datuk Eu Hong Chew after the group’s AGM yesterday.
The second phase of the group’s plan involves developing the investment property portfolio and leisure segments in order to contribute significantly to the group’s performance, with targets for these segments’ recurring income to contribute half of I-Bhd’s earnings.
As such, the group will invest RM20mil for its theme park’s upgrading works, scheduled to be completed by December this year.

In addition, I-Bhd is expected to perform much better than last year, on the back of unbilled sales of RM745mil as of end March 2016.

(The Star) Brahim’s expects to seal deal with KTMB

KUALA LUMPUR: Brahim’s Holdings Bhd, which is looking to finalise a deal with KTM Bhd (KTMB) as part of its revenue-diversification strategy, expects to “seal the deal” soon.
Executive chairman Datuk Seri Ibrahim Ahmad Badawi said the in-flight caterer-cum-restaurant operator was in its “final stages” of discussions with KTMB to provide railway catering services.
“We’ve been doing a pilot test for the past six months and we’re looking to formalise an arrangement with KTMB within the next two months,” he said after the company’s AGM yesterday.
“KTMB makes between 34 and 36 trips daily, so the potential for growth is there.”
The move to tie up with KTMB and provide services other than its core business of airline catering is part of Brahim’s move to boost its earnings. The company had been in the red for two consecutive years.
For its financial year ended Dec 31, 2015, Brahim’s reported a net loss of RM15.73mil on a revenue of RM281.78mil.
“For 2016, we should return to the black. We have had a few bad years,” said Ibrahim, adding that talks were still ongoing with pilgrim fund Lembaga Tabung Haji (LTH) for opportunities in the Middle East.

He said the company hoped to widen its collaboration with LTH by providing catering services for pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.

(The Star) Malaysians prefer travelling light, says survey

Some 80% of Malaysian airline passengers prefer travelling light, according to a survey conducted by online travel company Expedia, Sin Chew Dailyreported.
Respondents said they felt that baggage was “cumbersome” and preferred not to pay extra for check-in baggage.
The survey found that the most common reason for travelling light (62%) was the long checking-in process, whereas some attributed it to the fear of losing their baggage.
A total of 11,026 respondents from 22 countries, including Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, took part in the survey.
On average, 80% of Malaysians travel overseas five times every two years, which is higher than Singapore’s 65%.
The report also showed the top five needs of Malaysian passengers – sleep (66.9%), movies and entertainment programmes (43.5%), magazines and newspapers (37.9%), music (36.9%) and snacks (31%).
It said 56% of respondents from Malaysia, regardless of long-haul or short flights, were willing to pay extra for more comfortable seats.

(The Star) 182 abandoned housing projects revived

Two hundred and twenty-six private housing development projects in Peninsular Malaysia have been abandoned since 2009.
Deputy Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Halimah Mohd Sadique said the abandoned projects affected 40,866 house buyers.
“Of this total, the ministry has helped revive 182 abandoned projects involving 32,641 house buyers,” she said in reply to a question by Datuk Hasbullah Osman (BN-Gerik).
Halimah said 20 abandoned projects were in various stages of construction work involving 4,610 buyers, with initial plans to revive 24 other projects involving 3,615 buyers.
She cited several reasons why the housing projects were abandoned, and these included poor management, lack of finances, low buyer response, legal disputes and the rising cost of materials.
To address this issue, Halimah said amendments were made to the Housing Development Act to impose stricter regulations on developers while giving house buyers greater protection.
“For example, developers will have to place a deposit of 3% of their project’s total cost with the housing fund, compared with RM250,000 previously.
“Buyers can also now terminate their agreement with the developers if there is no sign of work at the project site for six months,” she added.
Halimah said the ministry would also step in to assist affected house buyers to negotiate loan terms.

She said the ministry was upgrading its My Teduh online database to allow house buyers to check the status of their proposed housing project.