Thursday, 31 May 2012

(BUSINESS TIMES) Glomac near deal to sell complex en bloc

KUALA LUMPUR: Glomac Bhd may ink an en bloc deal soon with an investor looking to buy its integrated commercial complex in Kelana Jaya, which has a gross development value (GDV) of close to RM300 million.

The complex, which comprises a high-rise office tower, an office suite and a mall, will be developed on a 1.45ha land, previously used by Kelana Seafood Centre.

According to group managing director and chief executive officer, Datuk FD Iskandar, Glomac is currently in talks with two potential buyers.

"The investors, a combination of both foreign and locals, are looking at the project in totality," he said yesterday on the sidelines of Invest Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Glomac, a medium-size developer with market capitalisation of around RM550 million, expects to increase the value of existing projects in hand from RM1.4 billion to RM7.4 billion, as it introduces new developments.

Glomac is buying more land in Greater Kuala Lumpur, despite global economic uncertainties and volatilities in the market.

The company is expected to close a deal soon to buy 84ha in Puchong for RM77 million. It is also buying 84ha in Sungai Buloh for RM45 million, to expand its ongoing Bandar Saujana Utama township there.

"Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we hope to launch the project in Puchong by year-end, or early next year. The project will have a GDV of RM2 billion. We expect another RM2 billion from the extension of Bandar Saujana township," Iskandar said.

Iskandar is bullish on the property market, adding that demand for landed properties is still going strong.

"Property is the only commodity, where 97 per cent of the time, it grows in value. People will stop buying only if they don't have confidence in the economy.

"Although the world economic is struggling, property demand, especially for landed properties, is still holding very strong," he said.

On earnings, Iskandar said Glomac will post record net profit this year. For the first nine months of its financial year, net profit rose 32.2 per cent to RM63.5 million compared to the previous corresponding nine-month period.

This surpassed the company's full-year net profit of RM63 million, for fiscal 2011.

(BUSINESS TIMES) Mah Sing expects more foreign buyers

KUALA LUMPUR: Mah Sing Group Bhd, Malaysia's second largest listed developer by sales value in 2011, expects more foreign buyers for its properties, and the driver will be the new 21 projects announced recently, with committed investment of RM20.46 billion.

"These projects will attract more foreigners to invest in Malaysia's real estate sector. By having the right products in good locations, we will be able to attract them," said Mah Sing group managing director cum group CEO, Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum.

Leong said despite the gloomy global economic picture, Mah Sing experienced strong take-up from foreign property buyers in the last two years, increasing from five per cent to around 10 per cent.

They are mainly buying into projects like M City at Jalan Ampang, Icon City in Petaling Jaya, and Southbay Plaza in Penang, he said yesterday, at the sidelines of Invest Malaysia.

Leong said Mah Sing is setting up offices in Jakarta, the UK and Singapore to woo foreign buyers here. It already has an operating office in China to do that.

On the property market outlook, Leong expects robustness in selected segments. Leong expects stronger demand for properties, especially in gated and guarded schemes, priced above RM1 million, in Greater Kuala Lumpur.

Mah Sing currently has 39 residential, commercial and industrial projects in Greater KL, Johor, Penang and Sabah, with remaining gross development value (GDV) and unbilled sales of RM18.2 billion.

Some 30 per cent of its residential projects are in the RM1 million to RM3 million range, and they comprise mainly semi-detached homes and bungalows.

(The Star) Popular bookstore opens in Paradigm Mall

POPULAR Malaysia unveiled its 71st store in Paradigm Mall, Kelana Jaya recently.
The 16,000 sq ft shop is located on the second floor of Paradigm Mall, presenting a wide variety of books while providing a spacious, comfortable and relaxing place for customers.
They will also be able to enjoy the latest and innovative selection of stationery items in the new store.
The bookstore has a designated event area at the entrance to hold activities.
Between now and June 24, the first 100 customers will get to enjoy exclusive deals on selected items when they present original cut-out coupons from press advertisements found in several newspapers.
Spacious: The Popular store at Paradigm Mall.
Not only that, selected English, Malay and Chinese titles are tagged with 10% rebate for all and 20% rebate for Popular cardmembers.
At the same time, customers can redeem a free trolley bag worth RM39.90 with a collection of 10 stickers. Customers can collect a sticker for every RM30 spent in a single receipt at the outlet.
In addition, customers who spend RM150 and above in a single receipt on the same day can also redeem a RM10 voucher.
Customers who spend RM100 and above in a single receipt can purchase Jimmy’s Joyful Dove tote bag at RM9.90 while those who spend RM250 and above will get the tote bag for free.
In conjunction with its opening, Popular has arranged a series of appearances by authors till June 24.
After the success of the movie You are the Apple of My Eye in 2011, Taiwanese author Wan Wan, who starred as herself in the movie, will make a special appearance for an autograph session with her fans.
On top of that, famous local comic artists such as Gemeilia (Eddie See), X-Venture (Redcode, Kino and Xeno) and many others will gather in the new store to meet and greet their fans.
Authors’ appearances include financial speakers and gurus Andrew Chia, Carol Yip and Ian Tai who will talk about investment and finance.
Other authors include Hanley Chew, Khaw Choon Ean and Samuel Lee. Besides authors, Malaysian chefs Hanieliza, Ricky Ng and Aliyah Sijari have been invited to show their culinary skills by demonstrating easy-to-make and delicious local dishes.
Popular will also be organising special thematic days.
Customers can expect activities such as New Discovery colouring competition which is open to children between the ages of seven and 12, fun art and craft sessions as well as mascot appearances by Clifford, Geronimo Stilton and Eori.
Popular cardmembers can participate in the I Love Popular contest happening where they can win attractive prizes.
Members who spend RM50 and above (accumulated receipts at outlets in Paradigm Mall on the same day) will just need a contest form and answer a simple question to be in the running to win a year’s supply of books.
Contest forms should be submitted with receipts at the cashier counter.
Lastly, every new application or renewal of Popular card or Privilege card walks away with a gift throughout the promotion period.

(The Star) Swiss brand of shoes promises various health benefits for users

J NINE International director Janine Chacko when describing Kybun’s brand of footwear and products said, “We are not selling shoes, we are selling health.”
Kybun is a Swiss footwear brand that uses health and fitness technology to make comfortable shoes.
It is the brainchild of Karl Muller, inventor of the Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) that revolutionised the technique of walking some 16 years ago.
The Kybun brand was brought into Malaysia by J Nine International with the opening of its first outlet in Cheras early in the year, which also doubled up as its head office.
The soft edge: Muller (left) and Chacko holding up a selection of Kybun shoes for men and women.
Kybun officially launched its second local outlet on May 24 in Publika, KL with much fanfare with the Swiss Ambassador to Malaysia and Muller — founder of Kybun AG — in attendance.
“Our mission is to spread the health attributes of this brand that provides a ‘walk-on-air’ sensation with many benefits to the person’s overall physique,” said Chacko.
J Nine International is Kybun AG’s local partner and exclusive distributor in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines as well.
“We are looking at adding six outlets in strategic market centres, nationwide, by next year.
“The cost to set up each outlet averaging around 500sq ft is around RM300,000,” added Chacko.
Each pair of Kybun shoes retails at RM1,150. Chacko noted that they have teamed up with selected banks to offer interest-free easy payment schemes.
The Kybun outlet in Publika had its soft opening in March and Chacko said they have seen steady combined sales of 60 pairs of shoes a month from both outlets.
“Notably, we have not done any advertising so far and yet, sales have been encouraging.
“We believe there is room for the market to grow,” Chacko said.
She added that an ideal target for now is to sell 120 pairs a month.
New in town: The Kybun outlet opens for business in Publika.
Kybun’s technology revolves around comfort for the feet which then translates to overall betterment of health and wellness.
The brand offers KyBoot, which are the men’s and women’s footwear, as well as the KyBounder, which is a range of therapy exercise mats of varying size and thickness.
Additionally, other exercise equipment like the treadmill, known as KyTrainer, is expected to hit the market in September this year.
“We do not sell shoes, rather we offer the return of a pain-free life when back, joint and foot pains are lessened and even eliminated,” Muller said.
According to Muller, the Kybun range of products promises 90% less pain or pain-free to its customers which can lead to reduction of fatigue, raising overall fitness level, eliminating muscle aches and pains in strategic muscles that control feet and leg movements.
“Having enjoyed success with MBT, I went on to improve the technology. Kybun is like a second generation of MBT,” Muller said, adding that Kybun went through five years of research and some US$7mil (RM22.1mil) in investment.
There are designs to match various needs, from boots to track shoes to comfortable slip-ons.
The shoes are airy and suitable for the tropics with honeycomb structure that creates an air cushion between the feet and ground.

(The Star) Amway invest RM5mil to convert remaining distribution centres into shops

PETALING JAYA: Amway (M) Holdings Bhd is allocating RM5mil as capital expenditure for the next three years to upgrade and convert its remaining regional distribution centres (RDCs) into Amway shops.

“Currently, we have 16 shops and nine RDCs in the country. Our plan is to convert the remaining RDCs into shops by 2013.
“This would be one of our thrust moving forward, as the shop strategy had been very successful since it was started in 2008,” said executive director Paul Yee after the company AGM.
He said Amway aimed to convert three of the RDCs this year and expected the conversion to cost an average of RM500,000 for each warehouses.
This year, the company plans to introduce 10 more products for its beauty, wellness and homecare range. “We will focus on our wellness and beauty business which forms more than 50% of our revenue.
“We will still focus on our core competency of direct selling and we continue to see constant flow of young talent joining us,” he said, adding that Amway had about 232,000 distributors now.
Yee said about 55% of people who joined Amway last year were below age 35 and this showed a continuity in the company's business.
The company also announced yesterday a higher net profit of RM21.59mil for its first quarter ended March 31 compared with RM20.2mil in the previous corresponding quarter. Revenue rose to RM179.2mil from RM172.7mil.
For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2011, Amway achieved net profit of RM89.9mil on revenue of RM735.8mil.
The company has cash amounting to RM123.2mil and has no plans to utilise the fund yet.
“Nevertheless, from now onwards, we would adopt a new dividend payout ratio that would return at least 80% of our net profit to shareholders on a quarterly basis,” he said.

(BUSINESS TIMES) WCT bids for public infrastructure concessions

KUALA LUMPUR: WCT Bhd, construction, engineering and property outfit, has bid for public infrastructure-related concessions in exchange for land deals from the government, through a public-private partnership (PPP).

Through PPP, a government aims to secure investment and greater efficiency in the delivery of necessary public services in areas such as infrastructure, healthcare, and education by getting the private sector to take them on. 

As an incentive, the government may offer concessions, tax breaks, or grants to the relevant private sector players to create a business case.

WCT manager for corporate affairs, Kenny Wong Yik Kae said the land deals will not only lift the group's property development activities, but construction order book as well.

"Getting more concessions especially under the Economic Transformation Programme is part of our way of broadening our construction profile," Wong said yesterday, at the sidelines of Invest Malaysia.

On the type of concessions that WCT has bid for, Wong said they are similar to the integrated complex at KLIA 2 in Sepang, Selangor.

WCT won last year a 25-year concession from Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, for privatisation of the construction, development and financing of the integrated complex. The complex will be constructed at a cost of RM530.3 million, funded via a combination of loans and shareholders equity.

(The Star) Ramp to USJ to close on weekdays

The ramp to USJ at the Kewajipan Interchange will be closed to reduce traffic congestion in Persiaran Kewajipan.
With help from the police, Kesas Sdn Bhd will be implementing the move from June 4 onwards, on weekdays, 6.30am to 9am.
The closure is the first-phase of a trial run to resolve traffic gridlock in the congested area.
Road users who are heading towards USJ are advised to keep to the left ramp of the Kewajipan Interchange and make a U-turn at Kewajipan roundabout.
Users are also advised to adhere to signage and drive carefully.
For details, call 03-5633 7188 or visit

(The Star) Quarry land status in Ampang changes to mixed development

Residents living around the Cemex Malaysia-owned Golden Plus quarry in Ampang can now breathe a sigh of relief as the 40-year-old quarry is no longer in operation.

It was announced at yesterday’s Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) fullboard meeting that the company had successfully applied for a change in the land use to residential and mixed development.
“The state has already given the green light so we are merely carrying out the decision.
“The approval for the change was made in September last year,” said council president Datuk Mohammad Yacob, adding that the council had received many complaints about the quarry in the past.
He added that the quarry was no longer in operation and the council did not renew the licence this year.
Closed for good: Residents living nearby the Golden Plus quarry thankful that it is no longer in operation.
Zakaria Yacob, 58, a businessman who lives nearby in Taman Bukit Ampang, said the decision was welcomed.
“We have been living in a dust-free environment since last year.
“However, since the asphalt plant within the quarry’s premises is still operating, we sometimes experience bad smells depending on the wind’s direction,” he said.
Two years ago, StarMetro highlighted residents’ problems with the quarry that included flyrock, vibrations as well as dust and stench.
Golden Plus began its operations in 1972 and some 20 years later, low-cost flats were built nearby on land that had been taken back by the state government from the quarry.
Cemex is an international cement-making company from Mexico and was considered the third largest two years ago.
On another matter, Mohammad Yacob said there was a small decrease in the number of reported dengue cases in Ampang.
“There had been 326 cases so far, about 13 less compared to last year for the period between January and May.
“We are happy that there has been no deaths,” he said.
Continuous checks for mosquito breeding areas have been carried out and the RM500 compounds issued to the guilty party is not discountable.
“Aedes mosquitoes breed in clean water. We are now having a long school break and dengue cases usually spike during such times, so I hope people can be vigilant and make sure they empty or cover any water containers at home before going away for the holidays,” said Mohammad Yacob.

(The Star) Mah scouting for additional land with potential GDV of RM1.4bil

KUALA LUMPUR: Mah Sing Group Bhd is aiming to acquire additional land with a potential gross development value (GDV) of RM1.4bil this year.
“We have acquired land with GDV of RM3.63bil so far this year, which is about 73% of our target of RM5bil. We have seven months to go, and we definitely have to lock in more land to fuel our long-term growth,” said group managing director and chief executive officer Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum on the sidelines of the Invest Malaysia 2012 conference.
This year, Mah Sing has acquired land for projects consisting of M Residence 2 in Rawang, Sutera Avenue in Kota Kinabalu, and Southville City which is a planned 412-acre township in Bandar Baru Bangi.
Leong pointed out that Mah Sing currently has 39 residential, commercial and industrial projects across Greater Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Penang and Sabah, with remaining GDV and unbilled sales of RM18.2bil.
The group's executive director Steven Ng Poh Seng said 70% of the remaining GDV would be from projects in the Klang Valley.
Ng also pointed out that the group has unbilled sales of RM2.48bil as of March 31.
“In acquiring more land, we also make sure we juggle our cash flow well and that the group's net gearing does not exceed our internal target of 0.5 times,” said Ng.
Ng said the group's net gearing was still manageable even after the recent RM333.26mil acquisition of 412 acres targeted for a mixed township near Bangi, Selangor.
“We have four to five months to pay for the land. Then we have about RM300mil cash coming in (from delivery of vacant possession of property units). Our gearing is always very manageable because of our quick turnaround business model.” Presently, the group has a land bank of 1,538 acres.
“Even now, we have enough land (to develop) for the next seven to eight years,” said Leong.
As at May 15, the group has achieved property sales of slightly above RM1bil, which is 40% of its 2012 sales target of RM2.5bil.
The bulk of sales were in the Klang Valley (82%), followed by Johor Baru (10%) and the balance from Penang.
Leong said he was “selectively optimistic” regarding the property market this year.
“We need to fit supply to demand. For example, we focus more on mass market products priced below RM1mil such as small serviced residences or link homes,” said Leong.
He also said the group was exploring potential opportunities in the region.

(NST) Budget hotel for unutilised Mara arcade

FRESH START: White elephant to get a new lease of life after being vacant for 10 years

PONTIAN: MARA will turn the top floor of the double-storey arcade at Kukup Laut in Pontian, into a budget hotel.

The top floor has been vacated since the past 10 years.

Mara deputy director-general (Entrepreneurship) Mohd Rosdi Ismail said the top floor of the building was meant for food sellers but they had declined to operate there due to poor business.

"This is because the elderly and the disabled are finding it difficult to go upstairs.

"Rather than leave it vacant and lose revenue, we will utilise the space to open a budget hotel.

"This venture is quite feasible as the arcade is near the Kukup ferry terminal for tourists from Indonesia and Singapore," he said.

It was reported that there has been a lack of shoppers at the arcade after it was opened for business 10 years ago.

Only three shops are in operation at the ground floor.

Rosdi said Mara has so far received three applications for the budget hotel but the agency has yet to decide on who would run it.


(The Star) RM48bil gross development value for SIC project

GuocoLand MD says the project destined to be a model city of the future
PETALING JAYA: GuocoLand (M) Bhd, the property arm of Hong Leong Group, will be developing the Sepang International City (SIC) with a gross development value of RM48bil.
GuocoLand said in a statement that the proposed project would span about 1,620ha in the southern corridor of Selangor and would be developed over 18 phases.
Full completion of the project is expected to take 15 to 20 years.
“The seafront development will include commercial, business, residential and leisure developments, a hub for institutions of higher learning and a large world-class urban park that will be modelled after the Central Park in New York City,” it said.
GuocoLand managing director Yeow Wai Siaw said the SIC would serve as the catalyst for the growth and future development of Sepang and its surrounding areas.
“SIC is destined to be a model city of the future, not only in Malaysia but in this region. We are very honoured to undertake our second entry point project (EPP) initiative,” he said.
The EPP is part of the new 21 Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) projects announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razakat an ETP progress update briefing earlier this week.
More than 500,000 people are expected to live and work in the SIC.
The project would be supported by direct transport links to the KL International Airport, Kuala Lumpur and other major points in greater Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley, it added.
GuocoLand's other projects include Damansara City in Damansara Heights, Commerce One along Old Klang Road, the Emerald master-planned township in Rawang, PJ City Corporate Hub in Petaling Jaya and Amandarii in Kajang.

(NST) 'Walking on air' with Kybun shoes

COMFORT:The shoes not only bring comfort but improved fitness level

WEARING the right shoes is vital to feet health. Yet many people still prefer "good looking" shoes that are lacking in terms of benefits for their feet's well-being.

Problems such as bad posture, bunions, aches and pains in the knees, foot joints, muscles and back are some of the problems that arise due to lack of support for the feet.

Seeing the need for Malaysians to have shoes that can offer comfort, improve foot health and wellness, J Nine International Sdn Bhd has partnered with Kybun AG of Switzerland to bring Kybun, a well known health footwear, into the country and Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.

J Nine International Sdn Bhd director Janine Chacko said Kybun's technology, which was invented by Karl Muller, revolved around providing comfort, health and wellness for feet.

"Today's footwear, especially for women, dictates that fashion comes first before comfort and this has brought on many health problems for wearers.

"Hence, with the availability of Kybun, we hope people will enjoy the "walk-on-air" sensation with our footwear," she said.

With two outlets, one in Cheras and another in Publika, the brand offers KyBoot men's and women's footwear, and KyBounder therapy exercise mats of varying sizes.

Muller, who was at the launch, said KyBoot gave wearers a "walking-on-air" feeling.

"A honeycomb structure creates an air cushion between the feet and ground. As for the KyBounder, those who stand for long periods can benefit from it because the cushion-like mat will stimulate muscles throughout the body."

Muller said KyBoot and KyBounder also helped to reduce back, joint and foot pain.

"With ease of movement one is inclined to walk more and this leads to improved fitness levels.

"In short, it brings back the fun and enjoyment of walking."

Muller said Kybun was the product of five years' of research and development.

Manufactured under stringent quality control and secrecy in Switzerland and Italy, Kybun offers various ready-to-wear footwear, including boots, track shoes and comfortable slip-ons, with a starting price of RM1,150 per pair.

Chacko said they had teamed up with Maybank credit card to offer interest-free easy payments.

"We are also in talks with other banks to offer the same scheme to those interested in buying Kybun for their health."

She also said the third Kybun outlet would be opened in Penang soon.

"We are looking to open three more outlets averaging around 46.5sq metres in strategic market centres nationwide by next year."


(NST) 'One-of-a-kind' gourmet hub opens in KL

KUALA LUMPUR: Jasons Food Hall, a new gourmet hub, was recently launched at the Bangsar Shopping Complex.

Almost 60 per cent of the items are imported, and many are exclusive and available only at Jasons. Pic by Hasriyasyah Sabudin

GCH Retail (M) Sdn Bhd group operations director Ian Cruddas said Jasons was already well-known in countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

"Jasons is a one-of-a-kind gourmet hub in Malaysia. It is the only food hall in the country where the ambience is more like a boulevard than a supermarket."

Cruddas said Jasons was designed as a paradise for food lovers. Almost 60 per cent of the items sold in the store are imported, and many are exclusive and available only at Jasons.

The items include Parma, Serano and Iberico air-dried and smoked meats, Pierre Ledent luxury chocolates, and Di Marlino, the best-selling pasta in Italy and Tourmate cheese from France.

Cruddas said a maitre fromager (cheese expert), wine sommelier and butchers were stationed at the store to anticipate customers' needs.

"We provide trolley porter service to shoppers who need assistance and offer home delivery within a 5km radius."

Cruddas claimed that gourmands would only be able to find Vom Fass oil and vinegar selection, artisan bread, the cheese room, the butchery and the chocolate, spice and herb sections at Jasons.

The oil and vinegar section at the store is unique and one-of-its-kind as all the products are imported from Germany.

"Vom Fass offers oils which are made from olive, nut, seed and other wellness oils, as well as vinegar aged up to 25 years old," he said.

Jasons also offers a wide range of artisan breads and pastries baked fresh throughout the day.

The most sought after breads available are rustic sourdough, cinnamon rye, dreikorn, seeded rye, sun-dried tomato onion, kraftkorn, multicorn and multiseed.

"The cheese room is one of the main attractions as it carries more than 100 varieties of cheese from around the world," he said. 

The butchery is divided into halal and non-halal sections.

During the launch, there was a cooking demonstration by international chef Bruce Lim, a mocktail juggling demonstration, home floral decor demonstration, and wine tasting and cheese sampling.

"At Jasons, shopping needs and wants are easily met as everything can be found under one roof," said Cruddars.

For details, visit 

(The Star) Shoppers enjoy promos during opening of hypermarket in Bandar Baru Air Itam

SOME 2,000 people attended the opening of the new Giant superstore at the All Seasons Place in Bandar Baru Air Itam, Penang.
Some could be seen queuing outside the outlet as early as 8am, an hour before the opening ceremony by Belleview Group managing director Datuk Sonny Ho, GCH Retail Sdn Bhd operations director Marius Knight and store manager Lau Cher Yong.
Also present were GCH Retail marketing director Ho Mun Hao and project manager S.T. Poh.
GCH Retail owns and operates the Giant outlets in the country. Belleview is the developer of All Seasons Place.
Mun Hao said Giant purchased its merchandise in bulk and was able to source at the best price.
“This enables us to price our items very competitively in the market.
“We also perform a daily price check on our competitors,” he added.
“The feedback helps us adjust our prices to stay competitive,” he said.
In conjunction with the opening yesterday, Mun Hao said special promotions would be offered for a variety of items at the superstore till Sunday.
“For example, you can get 2.2kg Milo for RM31.29 or three-in-one Nescafe for RM10.71 per packet. You can also get a 1kg chicken for as low as RM4.89,” he said.
With the addition of the 45,000sq ft Giant superstore, residents of Paya Terubong and Air Itam will now have four supermarkets serving their needs.
The other three are the Sunshine Farlim and Pasar Raya Bandar Air Itam supermarkets in Bandar Baru Air Itam, and Econsave in Paya Terubong.
Meanwhile, Sonny said the All Seasons Place had 500 car park bays.
“This is double the requirement of the Penang Municipal Council, which requires one to provide a car park per 1,000sq ft.
“The net lettable space at the All Seasons Place is about 250,000sq ft, which means we only need to provide 250 car park lots,” he said.
He added that about 70 retail outlets, including well-known food and beverage chains, would open at the All Seasons Park in the next two months.
“By the end of the year, there will be another 40 retail outlets opening at the place,” he said.

(The Star) Area Plan bids to rejuvenate George Town

THE implementation of the BIDS (Business Improvement District Scheme) will result in a cleaner, safer and more accessible George Town.
Think City Sdn Bhd, which introduced BIDS to stakeholders around the Komtar area in December 2009, has come up with an Urban Design Guideline and an Area Plan for the redevelopment of the city, said its senior fellow Dr Neil Khor Jin Keong.
“At the time, each of the stakeholders approached the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) with their own (separate) plans, wanting to contribute towards a better and more connected environment.
“The council was unable to adopt any one plan so we proposed BIDS — an innovative way to achieve the regeneration of the area.
“The Area Plan we showed was a community proposal and we have included ideas for programmes and events after rounds of consultations with the stakeholders, a public exhibition and surveys were conducted,” he said.
George Town BIDS Sdn Bhd was incorporated recently as a special purpose vehicle to implement the BIDS Area Plan.
Dr Khor said a manager and executive would be hired by next month to oversee the implementation of the BIDS Area Plan recommendations.
“The implementation of George Town’s BIDS will be the first in Asia covering a boundary area of 34.5ha. It is expected to improve connectivity through creative methods like green corridors, shaded walkways and a shuttle service which will result in a cleaner, safer and more attractive business and family-oriented district.
“Connectivity, a prerequisite as it ensures accessibility, will work in concert with a strategy to turn green spaces and urban plazas into congregational spaces,” he said.
Among the recommended measures are the use of green technology and sustainable practices such as rainwater harvesting, composting for businesses with organic waste and harnessing solar power at pedestrian shelters.
Dr Khor added that BIDS must recognise heritage values and be inclusive and people friendly.
Think City is the secretariat for BIDS. Feedback on BIDS can be sent to

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

(BUSINESS TIMES) IJM unveils RM11b project

KUALA LUMPUR: IJM Land Bhd has introduced its newest property development, called Bandar Rimbayu, which has an estimated gross development value of RM11 billion.

Bandar Rimbayu is a mixed township project that spread over 761ha across Kota Kemuning in Shah Alam, Selangor.

"Designed with an emphasis on sustainable lifestyles for residents with strong connectivity elements, Bandar Rimbayu reflects IJM Land's vision of what townships of the future will look like.

"The green township concept is our response to the demand from residents who are becoming increasingly concerned about giving back to the earth," said IJM Land's managing director and chief executive Datuk Soam Heng Choon in a statement.

In conjunction with the launch of the development project, IJM Land also signed a service agreement with Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) for the provision of high-speed broadband (HSBB) infrastructure at Bandar Rimbayu.

"This service agreement with TM, Malaysia's No. 1 broadband provider, signifies our commitment in providing fibre (connection) to home facility... we will be offering TM's HSBB service, UniFi, to residents of our first phase free of charge for one year," Soam said.

The Bandar Rimbayu township is targeted for full completion within 15 years and will boast about 10,000 residential units in total.

The launch of its maiden product, The Chimes, is targeted for the second half of 2012. By June Ramlee


(The Star) Moviegoing culture is finally getting the boost it needs in Malaysia

MORE and more multiplex cinemas are popping up all over Malaysia, offering moviegoers state-of-the-art visual and audio facilities, luxurious seating and lounges, and wider variety of items at concession stands.
Having multiplex cinemas located in shopping malls offers great convenience for consumers, as it makes the mall an all-in-one destination. MetroBiz speaks to two major cinema operators in Malaysia to find out how the cinema industry has evolved through the times.
Exclusive features: GSC likened its cinemas’ Gold Class as the equivalent to an airline’s first class service.
Expanding its reach
The introduction of a new brand called GSC Lite is Golden Screen Cinemas’ (GSC) latest venture to bring people from smaller towns back to the magic of cinema experience.
GSC Lite embodies GSC’s entertainment space in a lighter, more modest and accessible manner to cater to the local market, without compromising the effects of big screen and digital sound similar to those at its multiplex cinemas.
“We simplified the cinema’s interior design and ambiance, and scaled down the range of concession items. Ticket prices are reflective of its concept as well.
“We have been pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback it has received after the first GSC Lite opened in Mentakab Star Mall, Pahang in March,” said GSC Sdn Bhd general manager Irving Chee.
GSC – a wholly-owned subsidiary of PPB Group (a member of the Kuok Group) – celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. They presently have 197 screens in 24 locations nationwide, including Sabah and Sarawak.
“GSC opened several cinemas even after the 1997 Asian financial crisis as we were confident that there would be a movie-going crowd,” said Chee.
GSC has introduced many firsts in Malaysia, including: Digital Sound Systems in cinemas (1993), purpose-built cineplexes (1993), Gold Class hall for luxurious movie experiences (1999), International Screens for non-mainstream content and annual film festivals (1999), Premiere Class hall and twin seats (2004), GSC Signature boutique cinema (2007), 3D movies (2008), as well as mobile app and ticketless facilities for the convenience of movie-goers (2011).
The Gold Class is likened as the equivalent to an airline’s first class service, while the Premiere Class is the business class equivalent.
“The mobile app allows iPhone and Android smartphone users the ease of buying their tickets and choosing their seats at most GSC cinemas. “There are more than 600,000 downloads thus far and the mobile app usage is steadily increasing. Autogates were also installed at selected cinema checkpoints for movie-goers to have direct access into the cinema halls by scanning the 2D barcode on their smartphones,” he added.
Chee: GSC also works with embassies and various organisations to host numerous film festivals with specially-priced tickets or for free.
Chee said GSC develops its own systems and innovations internally to better serve customers.
“GSC invests heavily in high-speed Internet connections, technology and innovation. We also place emphasis on environmentally-friendly facilities, with features like energy-efficient lighting and air conditioning system installed while ensuring it does not compromise on customers’ comfort.
“It cost several millions in cumulative rollout for behind-the-scenes innovations, with the mobile app costing more than RM1mil,” he said.
According to PPB Group’s 2011 annual report, “GSC recorded a 12% increase in collections from new screens, stronger performance of existing cinemas and increased revenue from film distribution.
“Profits were, however, lower at RM37.4mil in 2011 compared with RM44mil in the previous year due to higher staff cost, film rental rates and film acquisition costs,” revealed Chee. He added that GSC will be opening two nine-screen cinemas by late June at Setia City Mall, Shah Alam, and Paradigm Mall, Kelana Jaya.
“We will also be opening two more GSC Lite at Sungai Petani, Kedah, and Miri, Sarawak, and two GSC Cinemas in Kuching’s CityOne Mall and Seremban’s Palm Mall by year-end or before the coming Chinese New Year.
“In the pipeline are plans for an 11-screen cinema in Nu Sentral, KL Sentral and 13-screen cinema in IOI City, Putrajaya. We are particular in the sites we pick, hence they are usually located in shopping malls,” he said.
Chee said the cost of building a GSC cinema varies depending on the interior design, size, digital projection systems, 3D systems and other elements.
“It ranges between RM16mil and RM20mil for a 10-screen cinema, with each cinema screen costing about RM2mil.
Classy concept: Wong at the TGV Club Lounge, where patrons can chill out, order hot food or snacks, or surf the Internet via Wi-Fi at one of the two TGV Club Premiere Class Halls.
“Meanwhile, simple decor at GSC Lite offers 20% to 30% savings in terms of building cost,” he added.
As one of the main movie distributors in Malaysia, Chee said GSC wanted to expose the public to non-mainstream and foreign language films, hence the introduction of International Screens when GSC opened the 18-screen GSC Mid-Valley.
“While the movies are internationally known as arthouse productions, we have to be careful with what we pick as it has to adhere to the local censorship,” he said.
“GSC also works with embassies and various organisations to host numerous film festivals with specially-priced tickets or for free.
“We have to look at the content and commercial value when choosing international movies to distribute, as some are too expensive to bring in or are not acceptable to local censorship. But we do make an effort to diversify portfolio of movies screened.”
Chee said GSC screens more than 300 titles of international and local films in all languages per year.
He explained that the cost of a movie ticket is divided among three parties — the government, movie distributors and cinema operators.
“It helped that the government has reduced entertainment tax to 25% per ticket price nationwide,” said Chee.
Before Oct 2011, the tax ranged between 40% and 50% on ticket prices depending on the state.
“Improvements in cinema technology and introduction of anti-piracy measures such as Parliament’s approval of the Anti-Camcording Act are great boosts in enhancing the moviegoing experience.”
Chee estimated that the moviegoing crowd would be 50% to 100% more than the present if not for piracy.
“This is one of the reasons why GSC Lite was introduced in the rural areas.
“Piracy is our main competitor, not the competition from fellow cinema operators,” he concluded.
13-screen cinema: GSC Pavilion KL is one of GSC’s flagship outlets. It features an International Screen and a Gold Class hall, and is a popular venue for events and private screenings.
An industry pioneer
TGV Cinemas introduced its much-raved about Beanieplex movie hall at 1st Avenue, Penang, and later at Sunway Pyramid, Petaling Jaya, and Tebrau City, Johor Baru.
“Beanieplex has a cinema hall filled with custom-made beanbag seats offering patrons a cosy and relaxed viewing experience,” said TGV Cinemas Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Kenny Wong.
“It has become a hit among moviegoers, especially children and teenagers. It has been so popular that a fan has even posted a photo of it on social media website (,” he said.
TGV Cinemas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tanjong Public Limited Company, was established in 1995 with its first cinema located in 1 Utama, Petaling Jaya.
“TGV was a pioneer in establishing the multiplex concept,” said Wong.
“We are presently the owner and operator of 16 cinemas with 124 screens, the bulk of which are located on the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia.
“The company went on a rebuilding mode the past few years and has been rapidly expanding with major investments in technology and innovation.”
TGV undertook a transformation exercise in 2010, which saw its new-generation cinemas adopting a fresh look and incorporating new advances in cinema technology to enhance the movie-going experience, such as digital screen movie halls.
“The opening of TGV Wangsa Walk, Kuala Lumpur, in April 2010 unveiled a new design, featuring ample seat-to-seat space and more leg room.
“We implemented that design at TGV’s new cinemas, while exisiting ones were refurbished to incorporate the new look,” said Wong.
If TGV Wangsa Walk was version 2.0 of its existing cinemas, Wong termed the revamped TGV Sunway Pyramid in PJ — opened in Dec 2011 — as version 2+.
“It is the only cinema in Malaysia that offers the IMAX experience, with both 2D and 3D digital versions,” he said.
“There are no words to describe the IMAX experience. Its full immersion gives you the feel of being a part of the movie, rather than watching it,” he said.
TGV Sunway Pyramid features the TGV Club Lounge, which takes on the airport departure lounge concept as patrons can chill out, order hot food or snacks, or surf via Wi-Fi connection, before their movie session at one of the two TGV Club Premiere Class halls.
Flashback: In the past, moviegoers had to make do with the less-than-perfect picture and sound quality from the standalone cinemas available. Shown here is the Ruby theatre owned by GSC in SEA Park, Petaling Jaya.
Even within the club halls, there are tiered seating options which are similar to the seating classes in an aircraft.
“Besides the Cantina takeaway counter that offers takeaways like pastries, ice cream and coffee, TGV also has its own exclusive range of concession stand products, like the unique Tumbo two-in-one food and drinks container that also serve as movie collectibles, gourmet Popcorn Royale packed in tins, and imported nachos served with two dips,” said Wong.
In 2010, TGV Cinemas took in RM153.9mil in revenue and RM14.5mil in operating profit, an increase compared to the RM67.8mil in revenue and RM4.5mil in operating profit recorded for the previous year.
“The next big thing is for TGV to go back to where it started.
“Unlike TGV Sunway Pyramid that was refurbished while still in operation, we will be rebuilding TGV 1 Utama from the ground up.
“TGV 1 Utama will be the new flagship for TGV, offering the best in terms of hardware (cinema equipment) and software (customer service), as well as more exclusive elements,” said Wong.
Measuring an estimated 50,000 sq ft, the new three-storey TGV 1 Utama will be located on the third floor of the mall’s new wing, and is slated to open this August.
The 11-hall cinema will have the Beanieplex, TGV Club, Cantina, purpose-built Digital IMAX theatre, and a new category of hall that Wong said is “one notch above TGV Club, offering more exclusivity and comfort.”
Wong highlighted that Malaysia is an underserved movie-going community, as, according to industry statistics, an average Malaysian watches movies 1.9 times a year compared to 4.5 times a year for Singaporeans and 7.3 times a year for Australians.
“We plan to serve the people’s growing needs with the opening of five to six new cinemas this year.
“TGV will be opening at Aeon Jusco Rawang, Aeon Station 18, Ipoh and Bukit Indah, Johor Baru, within the next few weeks, pending the necessary inspection and licensing approvals.
“We are also looking at opening in five more locations next year – Miri, Penang, Ipoh, Cheras and Kota Damansara.”
Wong said building a cinema is not difficult if one has the right partners.
“It costs between RM12mil and RM15mil to construct a basic cinema with 10 halls, which can double if we are to include exclusive features.
“The returns for establishing a cinema are not lucrative as it takes up to five to six years to recoup the initial investment,” he said.
Wong welcomed competition because he said is a matter of offering choice for consumers.
“1 Utama needs more than one cinema operator, as customers can go for the unique experiences that each cinema offers,” he said.
“In fact, piracy is the cinema industry’s biggest competition.
“The industry has always faced issues with piracy for a long time, although it has been contained pretty well the last few years.”

(The Star) One World Hotel named the best convention hotel in Malaysia and Asia Pacific

One World Hotel was named the best convention hotel in Malaysia with a five-star status and best convention hotel in Asia Pacific at the recent Asia Pacific Hotel Awards.
It became the first hotel in Malaysia to have received these two prestigious awards.
In November, One World Hotel will compete against other winning hotels from Europe, Africa, America and Middle-East for a chance to be named the World’s Best Convention Hotel at the International Hotel Awards at a gala event in London.
“My team and I are indeed honoured to receive the awards,” said One World Hotel general manager Ho Hoy Sum.
The business end: Ho (front row, centre) sharing the joy of winning the awards with his team from Conventions and Events and Banquet Department.
“To be voted the best convention hotel in Malaysia was indeed a wonderful recognition but clinching the title of best convention hotel in Asia Pacific at the same time was gratifying.
“Our team, especially the Conventions & Events and Banquet Departments, have been working very hard in offering superlative services to our guests. These awards are indeed a testament to their hard work and dedication.
“To be able to represent Malaysia and the Asia Pacific Region on a worldwide stage in London in November will be one of the hotel’s greatest successes,” he said.
“Nevertheless, we will not rest on our laurels but will continue to strive harder to maintain an excellent product and ensure that guests receive only the very best from us.”
We did it: Ho (left) and sales and marketing director Shereen Chow proudly displaying the award for the Best Convention Hotel in Asia Pacific.
The Asia Pacific Hotel Awards, in association with HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad, is a hotly contested competition, which includes categories for specific types and sizes of hotel.
The best hotels, hotel architecture, interiors, construction and design across the entire Asia Pacific region were celebrated at the recent awards ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur.
These awards, combined with the other regional hotel awards’ programmes for the Middle-East, Europe, Africa and America, form the globally renowned International Hotel Awards.
Judging was carried out through a meticulous process involving a panel of over 20 experts covering every aspect of the hospitality business.
Top scoring winners of five-star awards will then proceed to be re-judged against those from the other regions to determine the world’s best winners.

Source: The Star

(The Star) Luxury bus operators do not have to move

THE Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has clarified that they have no plans to move the luxury bus operators to the Integrated South-Bandar Tasik Selatan Transport Terminal (TBS-BTS) for now.
Luxury bus operators were asked to move their services to the TBS-BTS terminal following notices issued to them by the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) in 2010.
None of the operators heeded the advice and remained operating from hotels and shopping centres in the Klang Valley as they felt it was best for their customers.
A SPAD spokesman said they did not know of the notices issued to the operators by the CVLB as they only took over the task early last year.
He said the luxury bus operators could continue operating at where they were now.
Several passengers, who frequently travel on luxury coaches, voiced their concern and disagreement over the move.
Marketing manager Vivian Chan said she had been commuting to and from Singapore every weekend for the past five years.
“During the weekends I return home to Petaling Jaya to visit my parents and go back to my university in Singapore on Sunday,” said Chan who boards the bus from the 1Utama shopping centre.
She said travelling by bus was economical and convenient as the terminal was not far from her home.
Another reader, Roger Lim said he and his wife would usually board a bus from the same shopping centre for the trip to Singapore to see their grandchildren.
“The shopping centre is just five minutes from our home.
“Sometimes we go to the pick-up point by taxi, or our neighbours will drop us there,” said the 60-year-old who hoped SPAD would look into a better solution which best benefit the public, especially senior citizens like him.
Logistics manager Lesley Tan said she would have to take a flight or drive to Singapore if the buses were moved to the TBS-TSB terminal.
“Taking the bus has always been my preferred transport to Singapore even though it takes five hours.
“In Singapore, the bus stops are at the Vivo City shopping centre where I can get a quick meal or do some shopping, I am sure Singaporeans coming into Malaysia will also want to enjoy the same convenience,” she added.