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Wednesday, 10 February 2016

(The Star) Cinema makeover set to wow movie-goers

KUCHING: Movie-goers can look forward to a great experience at the newly refurbished MBO Cinemas in The Spring shopping mall here.
MBO Cinemas operations director Mariam Yazmin El-Bacha said it featured Sarawak’s first premier hall with an exclusive lounge, comfortable recliner seats as well as food and beverage.
“Hall 5 also has an Auro 3D sound system that provides an unrivalled three-dimensional sound experience and pristine quality, as well as the widest screen in Sarawak,” she said.
Patrons can also enjoy drinks, cakes and snacks at MBO’s first cinema cafe, Cafecito, located at the main lobby.
“Together with the box office and concession stand, they have been fully refurbished. There are also plans to add a kids’ playground within the cafe premises,” Mariam said.
The cinema design respects Sarawak’s essential qualities, featuring wood as the main character.
This outlet is one of 26 located throughout Malaysia. It has eight halls offering 1,558 seats with the largest being able to accommodate almost 350 patrons.
“We wish to give the best in movie entertainment to the people of Sarawak and also visitors from elsewhere.
“Adding to our state-of-the-art offerings, patrons can join our MBO StarClub loyalty programme for free and be rewarded by using their StarPoints to redeem free movie tickets, popcorn, drinks and other exclusive movie premiums,” Mariam said.
MBO Cinemas marked its makeover launch with special treats for patrons, including entertainment by comedy queen Joanne Kam Poh Poh, street dance performance, fun with Hitz.fm emcees Kiyoshi and Natasha and Cosplay appearance by Iron Man, Ant Man and Captain America characters.

(The Star) S’wak to help Taiping set up new bird haven

KUCHING: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is assisting the Perak government to study the establishment of a bird sanctuary about 50km northwest of Taiping town in that state.
Its minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the area, located in the vicinity of a fishing village at the Kuala Gula mangrove forest, had the potential to be developed as a bird sanctuary.
He said this was because over 300 migratory bird species arrived there annually.
Thus, he added, Perak could emulate the success of Sarawak's Bako-Buntal Bay, about 30km from here, which became the first site in the country to achieve recognition as the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) in 2012.
He said the recognition had placed Malaysia as one of the 22 countries being involved in the EAAFP.
With such significant recognition, the Bako-Buntal Bay had immense responsibility as a conservation area for migratory birds at national and international levels, he said.
Wan Junaidi said cooperation among countries involved in the partnership to preserve the bird population was important to prevent bird species - which played a significant role in stabilising the ecosystem - from extinction.
He said the presence of about 35,000 birds of various species here at one season had put the Bako-Buntal Bay on the world map. – Bernama

(The Star) Growing number of seniors

KOTA SAMARAHAN: Malaysia is set to become an ageing nation in 14 years’ time and the government is making preparations to address the rising number of senior citizens in the future.
Women, Welfare and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said 10 to 15% of the country’s population would be 60 years old and above by 2030 or 2035.
She said the government already had a senior citizen policy in place but discussions and workshops were being held to prepare for an ageing nation.
“In terms of administration, we have made a number of improvements such as facilities and accessibility for the elderly.
“For instance, we have activity centres where senior citizens can gather and remain active,” she told reporters during a Chinese New Year visit to Rumah Seri Kenangan here.
Rohani said she was discussing with the Human Resources Ministry how job opportunities could be provided to those aged 60 and above.
She cited Singapore’s Changi Airport as an example where many senior citizens were employed, adding that she was gathering information to see if something similar could be done here.
“Senior citizens can still be active and contribute to the workforce. We’re talking about employing them on an hourly basis, rather than a nine-to-five job, so that we can keep them occupied,” she said.
Rohani also said statistics showed that Malaysian women were likely to live longer with an average lifespan of 79 years compared to 73 years for men.
“We must also make preparations so that there are programmes focused on meeting the needs of elderly women,” she said.
On another matter, she said her ministry was introducing a programme called De-Institutionalisation (DI) to reduce long-term stays at welfare homes.
“Entering a welfare institution should be the last resort. We try to reduce the number of residents from time to time.
“As far as possible we want them to stay with their families. Only when they no longer have relatives or close friends should they be sent to a welfare home,” she said.
She later distributed ang pow and Chinese New Year goodies to the residents of the home.

(The Star) Record breaking feat at Tanjung Pelepas port

JOHOR BARU: Pelabuhan Tanjung Pelepas Sdn Bhd (PTP) has become the first Malaysian port to handle more than 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) in a single berthing by a vessel.
PTP successfully handled some TEUs carried by a Matz Maersk vessel on Jan 13 which then continued its journey to Felixstowe, England.
The vessel would also head to Bremerhaven in Germany, Gdansk in Poland and Rotterdam in Netherlands before retuning to Asia.
PTP chairman and MMC group managing director Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh said the feat was made possible because of efficient planning of container operations.
“This latest achievement makes clear the port’s commitment to providing the best services to our clients,” he said.
Che Khalib added that the port would continue to build and strengthen its performance to meet the expectations of stakeholders such as Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).
“We believe that both the companies will expand their business this year due to the greater market options provided by the 2M Alliance, which is a shipment collaboration between Maersk Line and MSC,” he said.
PTP has recorded an increase of 7% TEUs as of 2015 from the previous year as a total of 9.1 million TEUs were handled including 800,000 TEUs monthly.

(The Star) Big things in store for Labuan

LABUAN: Several major new infrastructure projects are planned here.
Among them are an integrated tourism project which comprises several hotels and duty-free outlets for branded items as well as a water theme park costing RM300mil.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said this to reporters after a walkabout at Labuan Walk here.
He said a private investor had proposed to undertake the new ferry terminal project as well as the integrated tourism hub which would cost RM1.5bil in total.
He said with this, the RM200mil allocated for a ferry terminal project would be used to build a coastal road.
Tengku Adnan said the environmental impact assessment (EIA) is being carried out for the proposed terminal project and that construction would take between 18 and 24 months.
He said while waiting for the new ferry terminal, a second ramp (for ferry landing) at the existing facility would be constructed.
Meanwhile, a RM300mil water theme-park would also be constructed by the private sector.
“The project will commence as soon as we receive the EIA report as the proposed location is also close to the new ferry terminal,” said Tengku Adnan.
The integrated development stretches from Tanjung Aru to Kerupang
The government has approved land for the proposed project.
“We are worried about the lack of jobs especially in the oil and gas sector,” said Tengku Adnan. – Bernama

(The Star) Refreshed alley a popular destination

It was the first day of the long weekend before Chinese New Year.
Returning Ipoh folk and tourists could not pass up the opportunity to visit Concubine Lane in Ipoh old town.
With bright red lanterns hanging overhead and Chinese New Year songs playing audibly, the famous regenerated heritage site was ready to welcome visitors for the holidays.
The walkway had been newly paved with stone tiles, creating an even more rustic appeal to the site.
Among the visitors was engineer Seah Ching Sheng, 28, who was there with his family to have lunch.
Although he was born in Ipoh, he said he had been living in Kuala Lumpur since he was six years old due to his father’s wish to set up a construction business there.
“Every time I am back in Ipoh, I like coming back to Ipoh old town because there’s a lot of things to see here.
“Apart from the snow beer and chicken hor fun, this time I was eager to check out Concubine Lane because I’ve been hearing so much buzz about the place.
“I think it was a good idea they decided to revive the place as it attracts a lot of young people,” he told MetroPerak.
Seah hoped to see more live entertainment down the road to boost the atmosphere of the place.
“It would be nice to have street performers and events here, something that will surely gather people,” he said.
A dentist who wished to be known only as Cass, 24, said she had arrived in the city the night before, and decided to hit up Concubine Lane to try out the tau fu fahsold there.
“I am not a tau fu fah person, but I had been seeing so many pretty pictures of it shared on Facebook, I was tempted to try.
“I was surprised to see what the people in charge have done to the place here. It looks nice, very Instagram-worthy,” said the Ipoh-born woman who is currently based in Taiping.
Travelling together with Cass was her boyfriend 27-year-old K.J. Tay.
Based in Kuala Lumpur, he said his main purpose of visiting Ipoh was to eat, before returning to his hometown in Penang for Chinese New Year.
“Ipoh definitely has better food than Kuala Lumpur.
“It’s all over the city, even in Concubine Lane here.
“At first impression, this place seems very similar to Malacca’s Jonker Street, but I think it is not as matured or as populated,” he said.
Tay hoped to see more food shops opening up here, especially those selling authentic Ipoh street food.
Travelling all the way from Johor Baru, accountant Sally Choo, 37, was also in the area with her family.
“Ipoh is my hometown, but I have not been able to visit for two years now because the last two Chinese New Years I was with my husband’s side of the family.
“This year, I wanted to come back, and I am amazed to see how much Concubine Lane has changed.
“It is so nicely painted, and they have shops selling unique candies and souvenirs.
“I also think it is a great place for people to take pictures,” she said.
Choo pointed out that her children, aged 10 and 12, particularly enjoyed the cotton candy sold at the site.
“It was just a shame that Concubine Lane could not be any longer than its current length right now.
“I think it will look like a mini Chinatown here if more could be done to the place,” she said.

(The Star) Creating green spaces

The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) has allocated RM3mil to build 12 parks this year.
Its mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail said open spaces belonging to the state and the council would be turned into parks.
The open areas are at Jalan Sungai Ara 1, Halaman Murni (Bayan Lepas), Tingkat Sungai Batu (Teluk Kumbar), Lengkok Free School (Datuk Keramat), Lebuh Sungai Pinang 7, Lorong Tanjung Bunga 1, Lembah Permai, Lintang Pantai Jerjak 6, Jalan Delima (Gelugor), Jalan Semarak Api (Bandar Baru Air Itam), Bukit Jambul and Paya Terubong 3.
Patahiyah said the council developed nine parks last year with an allocation of RM2.4mil.
She added that the council would also plant more trees this year.
Patahiyah was speaking at the launch of the Taman Cantik neighbourhood park in Air Itam on Saturday.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who launched the park, said the council and the private sectors had planted 25,296 trees on Penang island since 2008.
“The Penang government is committed to making the state cleaner, greener, healthier and safer,” he said.
On the dengue situation in Penang, Lim advised the public to see the doctor immediately if they fall sick and to ensure the cleanliness of their surrounding areas.
“Dengue kills within four to five days. So far this year, it has claimed eight lives and this is a shocking number as the number of deaths caused by dengue fever was only two last year.
“We will continue our efforts to combat this problem together with the Ministry of Health and all relevant agencies,” he said.
The Taman Cantik neighbourhood park was built at a cost of RM99,320.
Its facilities include a jogging track, multi-purpose square, outdoor exercise equipment, solar lights, park benches and a stage.
African tulips were also planted at the park.

(The Star) Evolving into an interesting mall

From a distance, the logo of Evolve Concept Mall is visible as you drive along the Jalan Lapangan Terbang Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah stretch with its vibrant white font splashed across a blue motif.
However, the new shopping destination may be hard to locate as it is tucked away among commercial buildings and high-rise developments.
This is anticipated to change when the new LRT service springs to life.
“Based on communication with relevant parties, we anticipate the LRT to be up and running in a few months.
“As the Ara station will cover quite a major area, we look towards very high crowd traffic when it starts operating,” said Evolve Concept Mall leasing manager Selisa Usat.
When operational, the station will only be minutes away by foot from the mall.
Due to the link with the station and the direct catchment of the Ara Damansara, Kelana Jaya and Subang Jaya populace, the mall has no problems attracting prominent tenants.
Kow says the mall has a good repertoire of tenants, ranging from noted international names, new enterprises and prominent local brands.
Kow says the mall has a good repertoire of tenants, ranging from noted international names, new enterprises and prominent local brands.
“We are quite proud to say that 75% of our lots are leased; tenants have signed on and are committed to open,” said Usat of the five-floor, 140-lot shopping mall.
The mall has a nett lettable space of about 37,161sqm
Some of its main tenants include Logo, Jaya Grocer, H&M and the Peninsula restaurant.
Typically, smaller malls may allot about 30% space for F&B tenants, but Evolve Concept Mall assistant general manager Kow Shih Li said they have allocated about 40% to F&B.
“We have the option of having more F&B tenants or shops with interesting concepts such as those with a retail and F&B mix,” she said.
“Nowadays, a lot of things have changed; a boutique isn’t just a boutique anymore, it can also be a café – a good mix of both.”
Kow said the mall reserved the flexibility for tenants who want to achieve out-of-the-box business concept.
“I think many consumers are slightly tired with the things they so often see in shopping complexes, so we’re hoping very much that businesses can come up with new concepts,” she shared.
Kow added that a Japanese restaurant that had taken up tenancy in the mall had proposed for their lot to be split so as to have two different restaurant concepts in one, and the mall was all for it.
“We’re giving our tenants a say in what they think they want to do; in fact, the more variety tenants have, the better it is for everybody,” said Kow.
In a way, she said the mall is supportive of budding enterprises.
Besides accommodating creative ideas through space, she said the mall is also keeping rental reasonable. “Essentially, we want an interesting mall and we want to support the tenants that are keeping it interesting,” she said.
The mall marks the first for many tenants, such as the Loewe and Sons ice cream shop, the Snook leisure outlet and the Peninsula Chinese restaurant.
Anchor tenant Logo is also establishing presence in Klang Valley with a 8,361sqm, two-floor outlet.
With fashion items offering about 500 designer brands sourced from Europe and the west, Kow said the outlet promises at least 30% off normal price tags.
“The mall’s key target market surrounds Logo, as we look forward to a fashion forward crowd looking for bargains,” she said.
Even in its own food court, the mall tries to have a fresh aspect in order to draw customers.
“On top of the 12 Asian food stalls, we have put in a ‘Show Kitchen,’” Kow pointed out.
“Customers eat and leave at most food courts, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Food courts can be an activity area too,” she adds.
Like a pop-up kitchen, the area will be set up with baking and cooking facilities where people can run events, be they celebrity chefs, home chefs who want to do demonstrations, or cooks and bakers who want to run small workshops.
“Anyone can book the place for their use. We won’t be leasing the area out and it will always be kept for small for short-term events,” explained Kow.
“We will even allow them to sell, but perhaps at limited hours or days, as an attraction.”
The mall management is planning for a grand launch in April.
As tenants make their way in, Usat said the mall would be almost fully occupied by the time of the launch.
“Everybody is looking forward to the opening now, and by the time the LRT starts running, you can expect the mall to be abuzz with activity.”

Monday, 8 February 2016

(The Star) Export ban to benefit Sabahans

KOTA KINABALU: The state government's decision to suspend the export of fresh fish is viewed as "a very apt move" to ensure sufficient supply in the local market.
Sabah Fisheries Marketing Authority chairman Datuk Dr Jaujan Sambakong said the move was also seen as benefiting various parties, including consumers, restaurant owners and foreign tourists.
"I really welcome (the move) and agree (with Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin) that there should be control over the export of fresh or frozen fish.
"The control is only for a temporary period under certain circumstances such as during the monsoon season or the current El Nino.
“These factors normally prevent fishermen from going out to sea," he said in a statement here.
He was commenting on the announcement by Yahya, who is also state agriculture and food industry minister, over Sabah’s decision to stop the export of fresh fish with immediate effect due to the shortage in supply.
Jaujan said although the export of the state marine resources could increase the income of local fish traders, they should give priority to the needs of the local market. – Bernama

(The Star) R&R stops for the Pan Borneo

Three new centres to be built at Jelukong, Sungai Bassai and Lambir

BETONG: The Sarawak side of the Pan Borneo Highway will have three new and integrated rest and service centres and six lay-bys.

An aerial view of work being done on the Pan Borneo Highway at the nyabau-bakun Sibu-bintulu junction.

Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said the centres would be at Jelukong near here, in Sungai Bassai in Selangau and in Lambir near Miri while the laybys would be at smaller districts.

“The land acquisition process is still in progress for these projects,” he told the media during a pit-stop on a bus journey with 26 media practitioners and his ministry officials here.

He is currently inspecting some of the approved upgrading works on the highway from Telok Melano in Lundu to Simpang Nyabau-bakun in Bintulu.

Each centre would occupy an area of 4ha and have sufficient parking bays for buses, trailers, cars and motorcycles besides a surau, eight food stalls and others, said Fadillah.

“A special feature will be the tamu for some 30 traders,” he said.

The Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak was officially launched by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in Bintulu on March 31 last year.

Construction work along a 43 km stretch from the Nyabau to Bakun junctions began soon after.

When completed, the Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak from Telok Melano to Merapok will span a total distance of 1,089 km.

Fadillah said the extensive upgrading will result in a more comfortable, speedier and safer journey. – Bernama