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Monday, 3 August 2015

(The Star) Unique Rainforest Festival will feature renowned international and indigenous musicians

KUCHING: The 18th edition of the Rainforest World Music Festival will be celebrated at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Damai near here this weekend.
The much-awaited world-class music celebration will feature entrancing world music, songs and stage performances, presenting world music celebrities which will resonate the foothill of the rainforest of Mount Santubong.
Ethnic and tribal music from across the globe will be featured at the nightly stage shows with musical workshops and jamming sessions being held in the afternoon creating a harmony to bring unison of interest for world music professional and enthusiast.
The festival has attracted music lovers from across the globe for their annual pilgrimage to Sarawak to enjoy the weekend of ethnic and traditional music in the midst of a lush tropical rainforest.
Acknowledging the festival due to its unique appeal, it is again voted among the 2015 top 25 international music festivals for six consecutive year by “Songlines”, a renowned world music magazine based in the United Kingdom.
This international Malaysian home-grown event, organised by the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), is considered to be one of its kind in the region with its uniqueness that brings together on the same stage renowned international musicians and indigenous musicians from the interiors of the mythical island of Borneo.
The festival found its unique home at the “Sarawak’s living Museum”, below the imposing shadow of mystical Mount Santubong in the midst of a virgin rainforest and stretching its edge to the South China Sea.
The strong kinship and brotherhood among music makers, enthusiast and lovers alike in celebration together with Mother Nature and in the midst of the intricate ecosystem that celebrates the diversity of life.
This year, the festival will kick off at 2pm with concurrent musical workshops featuring various ethnic and near-extinct musical instruments, followed by the two tree stages being set alive by 7pm where festival goers interact with the musicians to experience the music and dance presentation till past midnight.
Apart from the music, there will also be a delectable delights at the Food and Village Mart which include arts and craft outlets set against the setting of the Borneon’s native Orang Ulu and Iban longhouses.
Festival tickets and updates are now available online or from the ticketing agents listed at www.rwmf.net.
The event is supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia and Ministry of Tourism Sarawak and endorsed by Tourism Malaysia with Malaysia Airlines and Rip Curl Malaysia as partners.
Established in 1998 with an audience of only 300 people, it is now a major annual event in the state’s music calendar, eagerly anticipated by a crowd of over 20,000 people who flock from overseas, interstate as well as locals.
It is a family-friendly event with an accent on participation especially at the afternoon workshops. It has a record of environmental awareness as evidenced by its tree planting campaigns, its attention to recycling and the use of shuttle buses to reduce carbon emission.
For STB, the festival’s objective is to be the most visible, most international cultural event in Sarawak’s calendar of tourism activities.
The name, the venue and the theme of the festival are very much in line with STB’s promotional messages of positioning Sarawak as a culture rich destination with caring attitude towards its major natural attraction – the rainforest.
The theme rainforest will encompass music, arts, crafts and food. Rainforest species and processes provide an invaluable source of ideas in music, arts, crafts and food. For those who live within or near them, they are source of a deep sense of belonging, cultural heri-tage, religious and spiritual significance.
Last year, the festival drew more than 22,000 music lovers to Santubong.

(The Star) Can automotive industry's million-unit vehicle target be met by 2020?

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian automotive industry can still hit a total industry volume (TIV) of one million units by 2020 – with the right economic fundamentals and proper incentives in place.

Speaking at a press conference last week, Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad said this target, which was set by the Government, could be difficult to achieve if the annual sales growth continues to taper.

“Achieving one million units by 2020 is a little bit on the high side. But it will depend if there are initiatives such as a scrapping policy or good incentives that can boost sales,” she said.

In 2011, StarBiz, quoting Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) chief executive officer Madani Sahari, had reported that TIV could hit one million units by 2020, if certain factors are met.

These include organic TIV growth, rising population, rising disposable income and the continuous need to replace old cars, until 2020.

The MAI is a policy-formulating agency under the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti). Miti is responsible for the country’s automotive policy.

TIV hit an all-new high of 605,156 units in 2010, but dropped to 600,123 units in 2011. Since 2012, vehicle sales have been reaching new heights annually, but growth, however, has been tapering.

According to the MAA, TIV is set to record its lowest growth in five years this year – a measly 0.5% to 670,000 units from the 666,465 units achieved last year.

Some industry experts reckon that with the current growth trend over the past few years, the one million unit-mark by 2020 might just be a tall order.

“The automotive sector is hitting saturation point and it would be quite hard to reach that (one million) target in the next five years,” said an industry observer.

However, there are some who believe that the industry is still far from hitting saturation point, and that the one million unit-mark is achievable.

“Economies with a young population will help spur growth for the automotive segment. Therefore, we believe there’s still room for growth,” said an analyst.

“Looking at the country’s demographics, about 40% of the population is below 20 years of age who, once they enter the workforce, will want to buy a car.”

Another analyst noted that there was a close co-relation between gross domestic product (GDP) growth and TIV, pointing out that vehicles sales should continue to grow in tandem with GDP growth.

Vehicle sales in the first half of 2015 fell 3.3% to 322,184 from 333,156 units in the previous corresponding period, mainly due to subdued business optimism and moderation in consumer spending, as a result of the economic uncertainties and increased cost of living.

Stringent lending practices, especially for hire-purchase loans, also had an impact on vehicle sales in the first half of the year.


(The Star) Targeting China market

JOHOR BARU: Pineapple exports are set to increase tenfold from RM24mil to RM250mil by 2020.
Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board (MPIB) chairman Datuk Samsol Bari Jamali said this target would be realised once Malaysia successfully taps into the China market next year.
He said talks were at the final stage with its Chinese counterpart to allow Malaysia to export premium MD2 pineapples to the republic.
“We see China as a large market and are trying our best to comply with their regulations.
“Discussions are now at the final auditing stage.
“Once completed, we aim to support their demand for not only fresh pineapples but also for pineapple-based products.
“We plan to increase the value of our exports to RM250mil in the next five years,” he said after attending the board’s Hari Raya open house at Wisma Nanas, Bandar Baru Uda here.
Samsol Bari, who is also Semarang assemblyman, added that Malaysia currently exports pineapple products like fruit, juice and jam mainly to Singapore and the United Arab Emirates as well as Japan and South Korea.
He added that seven major projects would be rolled out worth RM102.6mil by 2020 under the 11th Malaysia Plan.
This includes strengthening pineapple farming and the industry, expanding pineapple farms and improving farming technology.
“At the same time, the board aims to increase pineapple productivity from the current 40 metric tonnes per hectare to 56 metric tonnes per hectare,” he said.

(The Star) Bus shuttle service trips increased to four a day

The bus shuttle service Bridge Express Shuttle Transit (BEST) from the Penang mainland to the island will now make four trips in each zone from tomorrow.
Earlier, it was reported that the service would be reduced from five trips to only three a day.
The changes were made after considering the feedback from commuters.
For route BEST A, morning trips are at 6.30am, 6.50am, 7.15am and 7.50am.
The return trips for this route are at 4.45pm, 5.15pm, 5.45pm and 7.10pm.
For route BEST B, the sche-dule is 6.30am, 6.50pm, 7.15am and 7.50am.
Its return trips are at 4.45pm, 5.15, 5.45pm and 7.10pm.
For route BEST C, the trips are now at 6.30am, 6.50pm, 7.15am and 7.50am while evening trips are at 4.45pm, 5.15pm, 5.45pm and 7.10pm.
For more information on the service, please call Rapid Penang at 04-2381313 or the local traffic management unit at 04-6505257.

(The Star) Council to conduct repairs at Bayan Baru market

The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) will be making necessary repair works at the Bayan Baru market to ease the woes faced by the traders.
Council secretary Ang Aing Thye said among the problems were leaking gutters, overflow sewage manholes and faulty pipes.
“Some of these problems are due to the wear and tear of the building while others are due to unsatisfactory repairs,” he said on Friday.
Ang said they would also patch up the potholes at the loading and unloading bay.
“They reappeared due to the heavy use of the area.
“We will resurface the area with cement as it’s more durable than tar,” he said.
Ang said the private contractor engaged for the job would not be paid if the repair works were not satisfactory.
“If we are not satisfied with their work, we will consider hiring other contractors to get the job done,” Ang said.
The council has spent over RM160,000 on repair works at the Bayan Baru market from January to July this year.

(The Star) Newly launched outlet mall to boost KLIA’s appeal

MFMA Development Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between Mitsui Fudosan Co Ltd and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, celebrated the launch of the Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA Sepang (MOP KLIA Sepang) last Wednesday.
The launch was officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and marks a milestone in Malaysia’s transformation to become a major shopping destination in South-East Asia.
The completion of the first phase of MOP KLIA Sepang will boost Kuala Lumpur’s appeal as a transit hub and shopping destination to over 27 million international and regional travellers who land in Malaysia each year.
Mitsui Fudosan president and chief executive officer Masanobu Komoda said, “We will unite Malaysian culture and tastes with the Japanese style of hospitality, and we will strive to operate Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA Sepang to be an attractive and safe destination complemented by comfort and convenience. We have injected our experience and knowledge acquired from the development and operations of 13 existing outlet malls in Japan as well as many other retail malls that we own and manage internationally.”
Malaysia Airports chairman Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah said, “Malaysia Airports’ vision is to be a global leader in creating airport cities.
“As such, the development of KLIA Aeropolis is one of the major catalysts in the achievement of our vision. MOP KLIA Sepang is one of the first steps we are taking in achieving our goal.”
“We are certain that not only will this vision benefit the group but our nation in general. The development of KLIA Aeropolis will spur an increase in employment opportunities thus stimulating the local economy. The facilities provided will also spur domestic and foreign investments, as well as strategically position Malaysia on the map as a global business hub for South-East Asia.
“Further to MOP KLIA Sepang’s contribution to the national GDP, the project is projected to provide over 1,800 employment opportunities by the end of this year,” he said.
MOP KLIA Sepang features a “Paradise Village” design concept with four nature-inspired zones – the Sunshine Square, Pier Walk, Tropical Plaza and Beach Walk – to evoke a tropical feel.
This ensures that visitors feel relaxed and comfortable while walking among the 127 stores. MOP KLIA Sepang is set to be a new shopping destination where luxury meets affordability.
Visitors can expect discounts between 30% and 70% throughout the year on off-season products from international and local brands such as Hugo Boss, Bally, Polo Ralph Lauren, Outlet by Club 21, Ermenegildo Zegna, Aigner, Sacoor Brothers, Tommy Hilfiger, BCBG Max Azria, DVF, Hackett London, Bonia, Adidas, Guess, Hush Puppies, Karen Millen, Topshop and Superdry.
MOP KLIA Sepang will also enrich the shopping experience for regional and international travellers who visit and transit via Kuala Lumpur by offering them a taste of both Malaysian and Japanese culture a stone’s throw away from the airport.
Visitors can get their dose of culture through specialty restaurants serving local culinary delights, while the “Japan Avenue” allows visitors to experience authentic Japanese culture through demonstrations of traditional arts and crafts, tea, and various other culinary delights.
Popular international restaurants, such as Sushi Maru, Don Don Tei, Gao! Gao!, Beryl’s Chocolate & Café and Para Thai, will find their first homes in Malaysia in MOP KLIA Sepang. Specialty restaurants include Hidang, M.A.D!, Bari-Uma, Straits House and The Eatery. Other favourites are The Loaf, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Dome. MOP KLIA Sepang also houses a food court that can accommodate up to 800 diners at any one time.
The outlet mall also boasts a flight check-in centre, which is a dedicated service for travellers that adds a new dynamic to the regional traveller’s layover experience.
In order to allow for a stress-free shopping experience, the check-in centre lets visitors obtain their boarding pass while they shop, while a flight information display systems allows travellers to check the latest flight information without leaving the premises.
For added convenience, the mall also has a free baggage storage service.
MOP KLIA Sepang is the first Mitsui Outlet Park to feature a flight check-in system and flight information displays within the premises of the outlet mall.
Additionally, MOP KLIA Sepang also provides dedicated shuttle bus service to and from KLIA & klia2.

(The Star) Tokyo Street turns four

Say konnichiwa to Chibi Maruko Chan when you see her at Tokyo Street in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.
The popular Japanese cartoon icon is celebrating the shopping area’s fourth anniversary until Aug 9, bringing with her fun for the whole family in Malaysia’s first Chibi Maruko Chan Land.
Located in the vicinity of Tokyo Street on the mall’s sixth floor, it is where visitors can experience festival activities common in Japan such as wanage (a ring toss game) andkatanuki (candy-making) as well as shop for Chibi Maruko Chan’s official merchandise.
The cartoon mascot will also be greeting shoppers on the weekends, first at the mall’s Bukit Bintang entrance at 2pm and at Tokyo Street at 4pm and 6pm.
“Over the past four years, we have become friends with the Japanese community and have brought Japan closer to locals in terms of culture, art, retail and food.
“This year, we want to strengthen this relationship by bringing Chibi Maruko Chan here,” said Pavilion Kuala Lumpur retail chief executive officer Joyce Yap.
She said the icon promotes friendship and family ties in the manga and television series of the same name.
Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Makio Miyagawa expressed his delight for the Tokyo Street’s fourth year mark.
“Since its inception, Tokyo Street has become one of the platforms to introduce Japanese culture in Malaysia.
“Pavilion has also been a strong supporter of Japan with many events held, such as the Sakura Collection fashion design competition,” said Miyagawa.
He also expressed hope for the mall to continue developing Tokyo Street to forge greater collaboration between both countries.
Other highlights taking place during the celebration period include a Japanese Summer Dance Performance, Fukubiki Japanese Lucky Draw as well as special promotions by selected tenants at Tokyo Street.

(The Edge) Pavilion REIT’s resilient earnings sustained by retail mall

Maintain buy call with an unchanged target price (TP) of RM1.80. We maintain our buy rating on Pavilion REIT with an unchanged TP of RM1.80, derived from a dividend discount model. 

Our high conviction on the stock is underpinned by the sustainability of Pavilion REIT’s existing tenancies; and potential yield accretion from management’s potential move to gear up on the financing of the acquisition of Pavilion Extension (of which we expect to materialise in 2017). 

On the near-term outlook, we believe that retail sales are expected to remain resilient despite lower tourist arrivals and inflationary impact subsequent to the goods and services tax (GST) as most shoppers at Pavilion Mall comprise the higher-income segment. 

Pavilion REIT’s estimated financial year ending Dec 31, 2015 (FY15E) to FY17E distribution per unit yields remain attractive at 5.7% to 6.6%.

Pavilion REIT’s first half (1HFY15) realised net profit of RM119.8 million (up 6.7% year-on-year, y-o-y) was within consensus and our expectations (49% of our FY15E realised net profit). 

Key earning drivers for 1HFY15 were mainly higher average rental income from Pavilion mall (RM21.40 per sq ft, up 4.6% y-o-y); additional contribution from new flagship store openings in 2014 and asset-enhancement initiatives (Beauty Precinct, Couture Pavilion and Dining Loft); and an increase in service charge by 60 sen per sq ft (revised in May 2014). 

1HFY15 net property income (NPI) grew 5.9% y-o-y underpinned by approximately 97% revenue generation from the retail mall and 3% from offices. The office rental revenue was 3.7% lower y-o-y, but we note that occupancy rate is picking up — 87% as at second quarter (2QFY15) versus 81% as at end-FY14. 

Quarter-on-quarter, revenue and realised net profit were lower by 2.1% and 2.0% respectively, but this is largely due to seasonality and partially pre-GST spending in 1Q15. 

A first interim dividend of 4.09 sen has been proposed (2QFY14: 3.65 sen). — AffinHwang Investment Bank Bhd, July 31

(The Edge) USJ secondary market takes off

  • This week, the spotlight falls on the burgeoning non-landed market of the Klang Valley’s USJ township. An extension of the matured Subang Jaya township that was started by the same developer, Sime UEP Bhd, USJ has witnessed a slew of new launches over the past few years, with its popularity also buoyed by its access to highways, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya.
  • Some of USJ’s notable new developments include the 77-acre One City by MCT Consortium Bhd. Other new developments recently launched include You One, Da Men, The Regina, Empire Remix and The Duo.
  • Data analyzed by theedgeproperty.com has yet to reflect these new projects. However, transactions of existing non-landed properties reveal that USJ’s secondary market has seen robust capital appreciation, reflecting its increasing popularity and affordable pricing points.
  • Based on theedgeproperty.com’s analysis of transactions, prices in the secondary market have grown remarkably over the past two years. The average transacted price per square foot (psf ) of non-landed residential was RM411 psf in 3Q2014, up 16.8% y-y from RM351 psf in 3Q2013. The preceding year charted even more outstanding price growth, up 34.5% y-y.
  • Total transaction volume for the 12 months to 3Q2014 fell 22.5% from 742 to 575 units. Transaction activity in the secondary market is likely to pick up again with the newer developments reflected.
  • Most of the existing developments in USJ are located along Persiaran Kewajipan. They are set to benefit from the Kelana Jaya LRT extension which will run along Persiaran Kewajipan and will have 4 new stations in USJ. The newer condominiums are primarily clustered in USJ1 to take advantage of the existing retail and commercial centres.


Saturday, 1 August 2015

(The Star) New specialist hospital coming up to meet demand

KUCHING: KPJ Healthcare Bhd is expanding its services in Kuching by building a new specialist hospital to complement its existing facility and cater to rising demand.
President and managing director Datuk Amiruddin Abdul Satar said KPJ Kuching Specialist Hospital had grown rapidly since opening its doors at Tabuan Stutong Commercial Centre 11 years ago.
“Last year it saw a total of 63,486 outpatients and 3,448 inpatients, compared with 44,866 outpatients and 2,185 inpatients in the first year of operation.
“In view of the pressing demand for quality health specialist services, KPJ Healthcare felt that there was a need to build a new hospital in Kuching,” he said during a groundbreaking ceremony at the project site in Jalan Stutong yesterday.
The groundbreaking was performed by Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Amiruddin said the new hospital’s RM130mil first phase would have 150 beds, 24-hour accident and emergency department and specialist services.
He said other services planned for the new hospital include oncology, heart centre, intensive care unit, operating theatres and medical imaging.
He added that the new hospital would contribute towards the growth of medical tourism in Sarawak, based on an increase in the number of KPJ’s health tourism patients.
Kuching Specialist Hospital received 14,775 foreign patients last year, representing 20% of its total patient numbers. Many of its health tourist patients are from Indonesia, the Middle East and east Africa.
Assistant Public Health Minister Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, who represented Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem at the ceremony, said the new hospital would not only offer more medical services to city folk but provide employment opportunities for locals.
“There are many unemployed graduates in para-medical fields, such as lab technicians, nurses and medical assistants. I hope KPJ will consider taking them in and retrain them if necessary,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kuching Specialist Hospital Sdn Bhd chairman Abdol Wahab Baba said construction work on the new building was expected to start in one to two months’ time.
He said the hospital would be built in two phases, with the first phase scheduled for completion in 2017, and would eventually have 300 beds.
“This is a continuation of our existing hospital, which has a limited capacity with 70 beds. The new building will increase our facilities and capacity to meet demand, which is increasing every year,” he said.
He also said KPJ would operate two hospitals upon completion of the new building and was still discussing what services to continue at the existing hospital.
“We will synergise the services at both hospitals. One option is to offer niche services at the existing hospital, such as dialysis,” he said.