Sunday, 31 March 2019

(NST) 121 infrastructure projects to continue after cost reduction of RM805.99 million

KUALA LUMPUR: The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has saved RM805.99 million after re-negotiating 121 infrastructure projects.

The 122 infrastructure projects valued at RM13.93 billion were offered through direct negotiations and limited tenders previously by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

These infrastructure projects exclude mega projects such as the Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT3) project costing RM31.65 billion and the Mass Rapid Transit 2 (MRT2) project costing RM39.35 billion, each was lowered to RM16.63 billion and RM30.53 billion, respectively. The total costs saved from both projects amounted to RM23.84 billion.

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) said this followed the June 29, 2018 announcement on several initial steps sought to improve the governance of government procurement and country’s financial management, including reviewing projects offered on limited tenders and direct negotiations by the previous government.

“Based on the review, the government decided to undertake open tenders for limited tender and direct negotiation projects that have not yet been issued Letters of Acceptance (SST).

“In the meantime, for 121 limited tender and direct negotiation projects that had been issued SSTs, additional agreements will be finalised at the end of March 2019 after the prices were re-negotiated as a rationalisation of the project costs, while reducing pressure on the government’s fiscal position,” it said in a statement today.

“Now all the details will be dealt with by the respective ministries that handle the projects and will not involve the MoF anymore.

“Mindful of the current developments, the MoF is confident that the implementation of the government’s procurement through open tender in the near future will provide the best cost and value-added benefits to the government and the people.

“The old method of awarding contracts is maintained, but the only difference is that open tender is conducted to replace direct negotiation or limited tender award practice except for emergency factors, specific expertise needed or special reasons.

“For example, a contract offered to a Grade G1 contractor (formerly known as Class F Contractor) is still the same, except that it is only conducted in open competition among Grade G1 contractors and not as before, i.e. through direct negotiation or with the need to obtain a signature of consent from divisional heads of political parties.

“The MoF will always take a comprehensive initiative to ensure that government procurement abides by the principles of Efficient, Accountability and Transparency,” it said. - Bernama

(NST) Singapore third link need not be a traffic bridge

KUALA LUMPUR: The third link between Malaysia and Singapore need not necessarily be in the form of existing links between both nations.

Instead, it could be in the form of a rail link or a connection which is more feasible, said economist Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam.

The former Transport Ministry secretary general said what is crucial right now is for the Malaysian government to consult it’s counterpart across the causeway on the third link.

“First, both countries will have to agree that there is a need to look into this concern over the massive congestion at the Causeway and at Tuas.

“Second, establish whether there is a need to build another link to address the problem.

“(And) third, to establish what kind of link is needed. It does not need to be a bridge; it could be an undersea tunnel or railway link, which seems feasible as we already have the system. See what is feasible, effective and that could bring maximum benefit,” he told the NST.

He said both nations must work on it together, rather than it just being one-sided.

Asked on whether it seemed that only Malaysia was keen on the third bridge, he replied; “Well, it appears so. But if you ask them (Singapore), they may say yes.

“If they do not agree to it, then you cannot proceed with the idea. Maybe there are reasons why they refused.

“Nonetheless, we should explore the possibilities. The people, who are suffering every day, have the right to know why the Malaysian and Singaporean governments could not examine this matter; whether there is a need to have a (additional) link or not,” he said.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Graduate School of Business principal fellow Prof Datuk Dr John Anthony Xavier said a third bridge connecting Johor and Singapore would ease the massive congestion at the Causeway and the second link at Tuas.

He said the need for the third bridge can be demonstrated by the incessant delays and congestion at the existing links, which was further compounded when holiday and festive seasons come around.

“Yes, we need the additional bridge, besides upgrading the existing ones at Tuas and the Causeway (links). The new bridge will surely ease the congestion, which has cost time and money for commuters as well as for the cargo traffic that plies both the existing bridges.

“The shortening of commuter time will enable easier and greater flow of talent across the two countries, subsequently reducing the cost of overland transport.”

He said the infrastructure development involved and ancillary infrastructure supporting the bridge would also be good for the economic growth of both Malaysia and Singapore.

Xavier further said the new bridge could also promote tourism across both countries.

“Currently, for example, tourists flying into Singapore who plan day trips as far as Melaka are put off given the time it takes to make the crossing.

“Hence, with an additional bridge, these tourist excursions to Johor, Melaka and beyond will be further intensified.

"This will benefit the communities that rely on tourism along the related routes,” he said.

On Saturday, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian said the state was in dire need of a new bridge connecting Singapore to ease the critical traffic congestion at the Causeway and Tuas.

He said the worsening traffic situation at the two entry points into the country required a long-term solution to ensure that Malaysia’s economic development was not affected.

For that, Osman said the state government would discuss the matter with the Finance Ministry, Home Ministry and the Works Ministry next month to find a solution to the problem, with one of the suggestion was to build a third bridge to Singapore.

On March 19, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was quoted as saying that Malaysia and Singapore would need at least three to four bridges to ensure smooth traffic flow between the two countries.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

(NST) Johor MB again raises need for new link to Singapore

JOHOR BARU: Johor is in dire need of a new bridge connecting Singapore to ease the critical traffic congestion at the two entry points at the Causeway and Tuas.

Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian said the worsening traffic situation at the two entry points into the country requires a long-term solution to ensure that Malaysia’s economic development was not affected.

He said the state government would discuss the matter with the Finance Ministry, Home Ministry and the Works Ministry next month to find a solution to the problem.

One of the suggestions, he said, was to build a third bridge to Singapore.

“There is a need (for a new bridge). Even Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had previously stated that the Federal government has no objection to this. The issue now lies with Singapore.

“This issue involves both sides. The main focus now is to resolve the traffic flow problem between the two countries, which is now at a critical level.

“When the prime minister came to assess the chemical pollution situation in Pasir Gudang, I had the opportunity to show him the site for the third bridge. The prime minister was receptive to the idea,” he said.

Osman was speaking at a press conference after officiating the Kembara Sihat 2019 programme in Bukit Kempas here today.

On March 19, Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying that Malaysia and Singapore would need at least three to four bridges to ensure smooth traffic flow between the two countries.

“Singapore’s traffic volume is far bigger than Penang’s. We would need at least three to four bridges,” he said during a question and answer session at Invest Malaysia 2019.

Meanwhile, Osman said a long-term solution to tackle the critical problem of traffic build-up at the two entry points was necessary as it could also draw in more tourists.

“If the government does not have the financial capability to build a new bridge, the project could be privatised,” he said.

(The Star) 4DX system comes to Putrajaya cinema

Golden Screen Cinemas has launched its third 4DX cinema auditorium in GSC IOI City Mall, Putrajaya, bringing the next-generation cinematic technology to audiences in the heart of the country’s administrative capital.

4DX, technology developed in South Korea by CJ 4DPLEX, enhances the on-screen visuals of action-packed blockbusters, transcending the traditional cinema experience through special effects, including motion- synchronised seats, wind, fog, rain, lightning, snow, bubble, vibration and scents.

The result is one of the most innovative cinema formats in the industry, drawing fans into the action on the big screen.

CJ 4DPLEX chief executive officer Jong Ryul Kim launched the country’s third 4DX theatre, which seats 112 movie-goers.

With 4DX, thrill seekers in Putrajaya can now be fully immersed and engaged in the films they watch, thanks to the 21 signature effects, that will razzle and dazzle their senses, seamlessly transporting them into the movies.

“The opening of our third 4DX auditorium in Malaysia is a milestone for our partnership with CJ 4DPLEX, whom we are working with closely to bring new and exciting cinematic technologies to Malaysian audiences.

“The launch of this brand-new 4DX hall in Putrajaya is an affirmation of our commitment to innovation and continuous improvement as part of delivering enriching cinema experiences, and we will continue to invest into extending its availability in more locations for cinema-goers across the country,” said GSC chief executive officer Koh Mei Lee.

“We are overjoyed to open our third location at Putrajaya’s IOI City Mall, the heart of Malaysia,” said Jong.

“As our partnership continues to expand, we are thrilled to share a new level of immersion and storytelling to Malaysian moviegoers. Our goal has always been to provide a genuine enhancement in movie-going, and we look forward to GSC moviegoers experiencing the sensations of 4DX,” he added.

GSC IOI City Mall is the third cinema to carry 4DX, after GSC Paradigm JB and GSC 1Utama. Plans are also being put in place to roll out an additional 4DX theatre later this year, which will be available at GSC Mid Valley Southkey in Johor Baru.

GSC and CJ 4DPLEX has also announced that they will be introducing a brand-new experience in Malaysia with ScreenX, a premium 270-degree panoramic movie experience.

ScreenX utilises a propriety system to expand the screen image to the left and right walls, allowing audiences to go beyond the frame of traditional movie screen frame.The immersive multi-projection system is expected to arrive later this year.

(The Star) Almost 100% take-up on launch day

They came, they saw, and they bought almost everything.

Nearly all the units on offer at Elmina Valley Five (EV5), a free-hold development located in the award winning City of Elmina in Shah Alam, were sold out on its first launch day, reflecting strong demand for quality designed homes in a strategic location with excellent accessibility.

Buyers snapped up 164 or 98% of the 168 units on offer at EV5, the last instalment of the bestselling Elmina Valley homes in the City of Elmina township. All intermediate and end units have been taken up, leaving only four corner units left for purchase.

“We are humbled and proud by this reception. Homes in the City of Elmina have always been a hit and today’s results proves it again.

“Our initial plan was to launch only 92 units within Phase One but due to 100% take-up within a few hours, we decided to open up all 168 units available within the first phase,” said Business Unit 1 general manager Appollo Leong.

“This proves that quality homes offered at the right location with the right pricing are still in demand despite challenging market conditions.

“EV5 is part of a well-connected township that is situated next to the popular Elmina Central Park, a 121.4ha park, of which 14.5ha has been completed.

“Our homes have great architecture, beautiful and practical designs, and are definitely value for money,” added Leong.

The second phase of EV5 homes, comprising 205 units, is set to be launched next month.

Sime Darby Property has delivered 1,282 homes in the EV precinct over the past three years and EV5 is the last of this popular precinct.

Elmina homes have won nine awards at the Qlassic Awards recently, an annual national quality recognition by the Construction Industry Development Board, reflecting the quality standards behind a Sime Darby Property product.

EV5 offers double-storey link homes with built-up areas from 2,330sq ft with prices starting from RM816,199 (after sales rebate and before bumiputra discount). Purchasers are also eligible for stamp duty exemption for property purchases up to RM1mil before June 30 this year as part of the National Home Ownership Campaign 2019.

EV5 homes feature large built-up areas and an open plan layout, allowing flexibility in the usage of interior spaces. The homes are designed with large windows for abundant natural lighting, along with features such as ramps, spacious bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor, low height switches and pocket sliding doors for the convenience of the disabled or elderly.

Other features include stone wool roof insulation, quality timber flooring and built-in alarm system. All EV5 homeowners will enjoy complimentary high speed Internet up to 1Gbps from TIMEdotcom for two years.

For details, call 03-7831 2253 (Sime Darby Property) or visit

(The Star) It’s fun watching planes come and go

Aerophiles and visitors looking for Instagrammable selfies are flocking to Jalan Pekeliling at Sepang to watch plane landings in KLIA.

Readily googled on navigation and web mapping services, this spot is located just metres away from runway 32L and is an ideal destination for a low-budget day trip.

Kajang resident Azmi Ismail, 37, who comes here at least once a month, said the thrill of plane spotting lies in seeing them up close as they fly overhead.

“It’s like you can touch the plane,” said Azmi, who estimated arriving aircraft may be no higher than six metres off the ground as it prepares for touchdown.

Azmi (centre) enjoying watching the planes land with his family. When the Antonov An-225 Mriya cargo plane landed in KLIA in 2016, he and his wife were at the lookout spot, complete with a picnic basket.

One story he never tires of telling was when he and his wife witnessed the landing of the Antonov An-225 Mriya, the world’s largest plane, at KLIA in 2016. The husband and wife laid out their picnic basket here at 7.30am. The plane, equivalent to the size of a five-storey building, came in screaming with its six jet engines an hour later.

“The thrust from the jet engines was so strong the fronds on the palm trees swayed backwards,” recalled Azmi.

A regular spotter, Azmi also told of another heart-stopping moment when he witnessed a Boeing 737’s aborted landing in rainy weather just weeks ago.

“We saw it approaching but as it was nearing the runway, the aircraft pulled up,” said Azmi.

A view of the Sepang F1 Circuit from the roadside of Jalan Kuarters KLIA.

Visitors say they come here for varied reasons .

Rideshare drivers are known to wait here in-between drop-offs and pick-ups.

Airport staff say the place helps them destress after a day’s work.

People who have never flown in a plane before say coming here keep their dreams to travel alive.

Find budget eats at Downtown KLIA.

Cycling enthusiasts like Imran Raouf, 26, say the straight road offers a smooth ride while the spot is a good place for Instagrammable photos.

Parents are also known to bring their children here, hoping to inspire them to strive for higher ambitions.

Sepang councillor Hazimun Rahmat Mohammad, 31, remembers coming here with his late father at age 10.

“The flight landing view area receives as many as 500 visitors a day and more on weekends.

“At a recent urban beautification meeting, I suggested that a recreation area be set up here as it has potential as a tourist spot for Visit Sepang Year 2020,” said Hazimun.

The councillor offers examples of other airports in the world which have found a niche in catering to aerophiles, naming the Runway Visitor Park at the Manchester Airport in UK and the Thomas Dixon Aircraft Observation Area just outside the Baltimore-Washington International Airport in the US.

Visitors usually spend about 20 minutes here. After this, there are other locations to explore.

One is to take a shortcut through a gravel road located just opposite runway 33 of KLIA2. This road leads to Kampung Hulu Chuchoh.

The National Automobile Museum at the Sepang F1 Circuit.

Drive slow as it is riddled with potholes. Travellers should emerge at Jalan SPDN Airport after a 15-minute drive. From here, one can head to a kerepek factory in Jalan Balairaya to buy freshly made tapioca crisps or go to Banghuris Homestay for a short, scenic break at the bamboo grove. Bring mosquito repellent.

Giving an oral history, Kampung Hulu Chuchoh village head Nizam Saonan, 49, said the existence of the village can be traced back to 1920.

“The orang asli were the original inhabitants. Story has it that the village got its name after two orang asli tribes started warring over territory along Sungai Sepang Kecil.

“The word chuchoh meaning to instigate came from this action. Fortunately, the two orang asli chieftains came to an understanding and everybody was able to live in peace and harmony henceforth,” said Nizam.

The bamboo grove at Banghuris Homestay in Kampung Hulu Chuchoh offering a cool place for a short break but do not forget mosquito repellent.

A less bumpier option is to check out the National Automobile Museum located within the grounds of the Sepang F1 Circuit, some seven minutes away from the landing view. Admission is free but visitor movement to the rest of the circuit is restricted.

If you happen to hear the sound of vrooming engines and want a free view of the action, take a drive along Jalan Kuarters KLIA. You can see part of the circuit from the road. It’s a bird’s eye view, largely obstructed by buildings but the sight of racing cars zooming by is still thrilling to watch.

After the circuit, a nine-minute drive along Jalan Pekeliling will reveal a signboard showing the location to Kampung Baru Labu Lanjut.

Aeroplanes are not the only things to take flight in this area. This white stork was spotted at a nearby drainage canal near KLIA.

This turning leads into Jalan Utama and a roadside restaurant called Izah Selera Kampung in Jalan 7. They open at 7am, selling local favourites like lontong and roti canai. From 4pm onwards, the kitchen cooks up dishes like fried rice and tom yam.

Kampung Baru Labu Lanjut village head Damarulan Hassim, 51, said the best time to visit is during the fruiting season. This is when orchard owners will invite visitors to pick and eat fruits like durian, longan and rambutan off the tree for free.

Nurul Imam Misdar sorting out fresh sweet potato crisps just out of the fryer at her parents' shop in Kampung Hulu Chuchoh. Prices here are cheaper than in the city.

“We will only charge according to market price if they want to take away the fruits,” said Damarulan.

However, to avoid disappointment, it is advisable to call Damarulan earlier for reservations. He readily gives his handphone number, 013-665 7842, for this purpose.

For budget eats, there is Downtown KLIA, a 10-minute drive along Jalan Pekeliling from the circuit. You can find Indian food, tandoori chicken with naan and heady brews of teh tarik here. There is also a Chinese restaurant offering dishes like fried squid in salted egg and butter prawns.

(The Star) BMC Mall to be community hub

BMC Mall aspires to become the community mall of choice in the vibrant Bandar Mahkota Cheras neighbourhood in Selangor.

The two-storey mall has recently rebranded itself as an all-in-one shopping destination for its customers, especially young families with children, to spend their day out in a fun, relaxed and modern setting.

“BMC Mall is more than just a shopping centre. It’s about going the extra mile to excite and delight shoppers with an integrated lifestyle experience. This is very densely populated area, and we see the potential in redeveloping the mall,” said investment holding company Foremost Wealth Management Sdn Bhd director Tee Xun Hui at the mall’s grand opening last Saturday.

A colouring contest for children was held at the Nucleus community hall.

With over 700 parking bays, the bulk of the 18,581sqm mall is occupied by 60 diverse tenants across food and beverage, entertainment, beauty, wellness, fashion and specialty stores.

Among its tenants are NSK Trade City hypermarket, The Kids Playground and art enrichment programme Global Art. It also houses the Mahkota Cheras community public library and the Nucleus community hall. The mall is expecting to have at least 100 tenants in the future.

In addition, the mall operator has set up a marketing team to update on social media regarding activities, promotions and special deals available at its premises.

With over 700 parking bays, the 18,581sqm mall houses 60 diverse tenants providing food and beverage, entertainment, beauty, wellness, fashion and specialty stores.

Foremost Wealth Management general manager Justin Liew pointed out that the mall operator offers knowledge sharing on branding and other services in digital technology to help retailers become well-versed in conducting their businesses.

“We educate them on the branding of their products and services. We empower them to expand their business and reach out to the targeted consumers. It is a win-win situation,” he said.

Family-style restaurant Gold Coast Seafood, for example, was taught rebranding and came up with Zheng Palace, which offers banquet Chinese-style dining at the mall.

“They (previously) operated the restaurant which has limitations and they are now happy with the concept and know-how of having a proper banquet restaurant. They understood about branding,” he said.

Guests were treated to a lion dance in conjunction with the mall opening.

Foremost Wealth Management bought the mall for RM88mil from its previous owner Aeon at end-2017 and has spent RM25mil in renovations, including the 2018 addition of its al fresco dining area.

Prior to its renovation process, the mall operator conducted a study, held dialogues with the community and worked with the local residents’ associations to understand and cater to the needs of the local community, said Liew.

One of the results from this community engagement efforts is the community hall, which can fit 250 people.

Various activities were held at the hall, including a children’s colouring contest organised in collaboration with Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar).

Following the encouraging response from 60 participants at last week’s Zumba class, Tee said the class will be held on a weekly basis.

(From right) Special guests Datuk Kuan Ah Hock, MP for Kepong Lim Lip Eng and Tan Sri Tee Tiam Lee, and Tee Xun Hui at BMC Mall’s grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Tee suggested that the hall can be used to stage musical performances, as well as act as a venue where children can learn to play musical instruments, attend seminars or participate in other interesting programmes.

The community can also rent the hall for a fee to bring in local instructors to conduct other classes.

In addition, Foremost Wealth Manage-ment held a celebratory dinner in conjunction with the event, hosting 80 tables for guests consisting close friends, tenants and families at Zheng Palace.

Among the highlights of the dinner were the lion dance performances, Latin dance, ballet dance and a singing performance by Astro Classic Golden Melody 2015 first runner-up Lyee Cheok and lucky draws.

At BMC Mall, shoppers can find fresh produce and other household items.

BMC Mall is easily accessible via the Cheras-Kajang highway, Silk Highway and through the upcoming East Klang Valley Expressway.

Public transportation includes the nearby Bandar Tun Hussein Onn MRT station, with a direct feeder bus to/from the mall.

(The Star) Cravings for big burgers fulfilled

Those looking for sinful, stomach-filling food at night might like to head to Kaw Kaw Burger Bakar.

Known for its giant homemade patties that come with a decent burger selection, one serving is enough to satisfy your meaty cravings.

The humble stall at Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur, is not difficult to spot as it is located between commercial shoplots and a row of trees adorned with yellow light bulbs.

“Kaw Kaw” was founded by two young Malaysian entrepreneurs in 2011 and has claimed to create the first grilled burger or “burger bakar” to date.

It surprised me during my visit as diners continued to flock to the burger stall despite the evening drizzle.

Visitors can choose from three different patties – chicken, beef or lamb – and can customise how many patties they like to have.

Two special burgers, namely Chicken Permaisuri and Beef Smokeynizer, were among the highlights in the menu.

The Chicken Permaisuri, which I ordered, contained turkey slices, cheese salad sauce and chicken floss.

It lived up to its name as the “Queen of Chicken Burgers” with its gigantic patty towering over other burgers, topped with oozing salad sauce and sesame bun.

The golden skin enveloping the juicy chicken meat was a delight as it was crispy and mouthwatering.

The ingredients complemented each other well and made for the taste of the flavourful burger.

Meanwhile, the Beef Smokeynizer comes with cheese, beef bacon and smokey sauce.

I also ordered the Chicken Cheesynizer to try and it came with two cheese slices topped with cheese sauce.

It was a tad too much cheese for me but the chicken patty was hearty and juicy.

Service was amazingly fast as I waited only for about five minutes to get my food.

Small eaters can share one serving of the burger as it is quite filling.

Other choices include the basic and cheese burger as well as baconizer and turkeynizer.

Kaw Kaw Burger Bakar is located at Jalan 4A/27A, Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur. 

It opens from 6pm to 2am.

There is another stall at Sunway Putra Mall.

Parking can be a hassle as some of the mamak stalls hog the roadside council parking bays at night.

This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.

(The Star) MPKj to build park-and-ride facilities on new free bus routes

Park -and-ride facilities may be built along the new Kajang-Putrajaya route of the free Smart Selangor bus to encourage more motorists to take the bus.

Two new routes were launched on March 1 which are KJ 04 and KJ 05. Both start from Kompleks Hentian Kajang, but one ends in Dataran Gemilang, Putrajaya and the other at Bandar Baru Bangi.

Kajang Municipal Council deputy president Najmuddin Jemain said although there were only a few commuters using the buses now, there was demand for the service.

“Our target group is government servants working in Putrajaya. Those who have been using the bus service are thankful as they no longer need to drive.

“So, we are looking at upgrading the service by providing parking spaces near the bus stops to enable commuters to park and take the bus instead. However, it will also depend on allocation and suitability.

“I was also told that many were confused with the bus schedule. Government servants need to be at work at a specific time and with Putrajaya being the last stop, they may be late if the bus arrives late at their stop,” he said after a full board meeting.

Najmuddin also acknowledged the severe rise in dengue cases in Selangor and explained that the state government was preparing for a mass gotong-royong session involving all local authorities, to clean up the surroundings on April 21.

“Until March 16, total cases in Selangor is 18,626 with 18 deaths.

“Hulu Langat district is the third highest with 3,310 cases and six deaths, which is a 274.5% increase from 2018 during the same period which recorded 1,206 cases.

“The total number of cases in Kajang is 2,476 and five deaths. There are 82 localities with dengue cases in Kajang, out of which 21 are hotspots,” he said. — By VIJENTHI NAIR

(The Star) Looking to the past for town’s tourism

In view of the many interesting stories from its past, Sepang Municipal Council (MPSepang) president Mohd Fauzi Mohd Yatim is looking to use history as a way to attract tourists for Visit Sepang Year 2020.

He said since some shophouses along Jalan Besar can be dated back to the early 1900s, efforts should be made to conserve these buildings.

The little ferry that carries passengers across Sungai Sepang in just under five minutes is run by the same family of boatmen for three generations.

To reflect the town’s intention to use its past as a tourism draw, a traditional wooden Malay house in Kampung Baru Sungai Pelek has just been unveiled after years of being hidden by overgrowth.

Formerly the residence of the Sungai Pelek penghulu, it was abandoned 30 years ago.

Sungai Pelek Residents Representative Council chairman Suah Chee Hiong said there are plans to revive the building as a tourist centre.

Renovation works are estimated to cost RM150,000 and the council is awaiting budget approval from the state government.

Suah sitting beneath what he says is the oldest tree in Sungai Pelek. — Photos: GRACE CHEN/The Star

Suah named several places of interest for adventurous visitors.

One is an 80-year-old bungalow located in Kampung Jelutong Indah. Said to be built by a Chinese plantation owner during the Japanese occupation, the building was once used by a Japanese army officer as an administration office.

According to Perulmal Vellayan, 70, who now lives here with his two siblings, the bungalow was eventually bought over by his late mother Annamalai Muthiah in 1968.

A grander bungalow, located in Ladang Teluk Merbau, is said to be a century old.

Noormin and wife standing in front of the 100-year-old bungalow described in ‘Planter’s Tales’

Currently the residence of the estate’s senior assistant manager Noormin Isman, the house was featured in Planter’s Tales, a book on plantation life by Mahbob Abdullah.

Beside it is a tree which is said to be as old as the house and very possibly the oldest tree in Sungai Pelek.

However, old buildings are not the only source of historic fascination in this town.

The ferry service behind Taman Ria, which takes motorcyclists and pedestrians across Sungai Sepang to Bukit Pelanduk, Seremban, has been run by the menfolk from the Tan family for a century.

“The grandfather started by rowing passengers across the river in a boat. Then the father took over. Now, the son is continuing the service,” said Suah.

Kok Peng continues to live in the shophouse where his late father, Ong Seng Hong, used to sell rubber and petrol. Beside him is daughter Chen Nee.

He added that this ferry taxi service is unique to Sungai Pelek and is confident that it will remain relevant for years to come as this travel mode easily cuts travelling time considerably.

“For now, the stories surrounding these places have yet to be affirmed in writing.

“But Sungai Pelek locals are willing to give the oral version to tourists who are keen to know about the town’s past,” said Suah.

First-time visitors who are keen to learn about Sungai Pelek’s past are bound to hear the joke about how the town’s forefathers liked playing golf.

The coconut drinks stall run by Paramasivam beside the Taman KSM field.

In reality, there was no time for such luxuries. “Playing golf” referred to the swinging motions that came with clearing jungle vegetation either for settlement or rubber plantations, a major cash crop for the early settlers during the colonial days.

Oral history dates the founding of Sungai Pelek to the 1900s.

Lim Sun Dai, a Chinese immigrant from Fuzhou, was said to have arrived in Sepang then, clearing an area in Batu Dua, near Kampung Tanjung Mas, for settlement.

Soo Lai Pin, 86, the son of a grocery shop owner, described how simple life was back then.

“There was no entertainment. Not even electricity. So, people went to bed early. That was why people had large families,” smiled Soo, a father of seven.

Growing up in this agricultural town, one character remains vivid in Soo’s memory – a wealthy rubber trader who parked his car inside his shop.

“Back then, no one had a car except for the late Ong Seng Hong, who owned the first petrol station.

An old photo of one of Sungai Pelek’s early pioneers, Ong Seng Hong, celebrating his birthday. He passed away at age 94 in 1991.

“So you can imagine how precious the car was to him and how it would have been stolen if it had been left out on the street at night,” said Soo.

Today, Ong’s car is long gone but his shop, Hock Chuan Hin, remains open for business, not as a rubber trading and petrol outlet but a place for shaved ice desserts.

Ong’s son Kok Peng, 74, lives here while his daughter, Chen Nee, 39, runs the business with her husband.

Based on coffee shop talk, the two major events that had marred the town’s tranquillity was the Japanese occupation and the communist insurgency.

Liew says his father was taken away by the Japanese to work on the Death Railway in Thailand.

Liew Yoke Sin, a feng shui consultant, said his father, a coffeeshop owner, was taken away by the Japanese to work on the Death Railway in Thailand. Liew never saw his father again.

But one story often repeated here was when senior British officer, Sir Gerald Templer, came to Sungai Pelek intending to burn the settlement down to flush out Communist insurgents.

Residents knew Templer was serious because the British army had already burned down a village in Jenderam.

Soo says life back then was simple. There was no entertainment nor electricity.

To save Sungai Pelek, the headman arranged to meet with Templer, enlisting the help of a secondary school teacher to translate his intentions to cooperate with the British government.

Locals who grew up during the era recall how villagers banded together against rumour-mongers out to disrupt harmony.

Till now, kinship remains the most treasured value here.

Suah said visitors looking for oral history, can head to Hock Chuan Hin in Jalan Besar and a coconut drinks stall run by Paramasivam Sockalingam, beside a field in Taman KSM, to find out more about the town and its inhabitants.

Friday, 29 March 2019

(The Star) Quayside project tops the sales chart

Eastern & Oriental Berhad’s Quayside Seafront Resort Condominium in Seri Tanjung Pinang, Penang, attracted the bulk of the group’s nationwide sales in late 2018.

The sales, generated from the group’s Luxury Living Campaign, hit RM251mil for the group’s third quarter ended Dec 31, 2018.

“We were able to attract 70% of international buyers, with majority of them from Hong Kong and China while Penangites made up the majority of the local purchasers.

“Our Quayside Seafront Resort Condominium in Seri Tanjung Pinang appears to be the crowd’s favourite with majority of our sales coming from this development, which is the only property development in Penang to have emerged the Gold winner in the EdgeProp Malaysia’s Best Managed Property Awards 2018.

“The success of the E&O Luxury Living Campaign is evident in its global reach and further testament of E&O’s reputation as an innovative lifestyle developer,” said E&O group marketing and sales senior general manager Wayne Wong.

The sales of the third quarter reduced the group’s inventory level by 28.37% to RM232.4mil.

The Luxury Living campaign launched in July 2018 offered homebuyers exclusive packages for selected E&O landmark properties in Penang, Iskandar Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur city centre plus a chance to win one of two Mercedes Benz C-Class C200 AMG on offer.

The first winner was a couple from Hong Kong who made an impulse purchase of Quayside development within two days after visiting their friend’s unit.

The second place winner, engineer Liew Weng, also bought the same development as his retirement home.

To find out more, visit the Sales Gallery and show units at Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong, 10470, Penang. Alternatively, call 04-8909999 or log on

(The Star) Ready to transform housing design

The Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) signed a collaboration agreement with Gamuda Industrial Building System Sdn Bhd.

The collaboration, code named Housing 4.0, will include an open architectural design ideas competition and digital innovation labs towards transforming housing design and construction in Malaysia.

The project, led by Ang Chee Cheong from PAM and Tan Ek Khai from Gamuda IBS, involves innovation in building future homes by harnessing digital tools, including the use of Industrialised Building Systems (IBS) and Building Information Modelling (BIM).

At the signing ceremony, PAM president Ezumi Harzani said, “PAM welcomes this strategic cooperation between Gamuda IBS and PAM, and we look forward to the noteworthy milestone as Gamuda IBS is a pioneering IBS solutions provider that will help us attain our ambition of advancing architecture for the betterment of society.

“In this rapidly changing world, we are now talking about Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data. We need to make sure architects are up to speed with technology as well as developing innovative designs for future housing needs,” Ezumi said.

Gamuda deputy group managing director Mohammed Rashdan Yusof said, “Digital IBS make up the components of the building, similar to how limbs are to the body of a person. Similarly, the architect is the brains who will come up with the designs to fulfil Malaysia’s goal of delivering affordable housing, up to 100,000 units a year.

“With currently two Digital Robotic IBS plants, we can deliver fully functional homes, which can then be customised to the specifications of any developer.

“With full Digital BIM technology, costs and wastage are minimised and yet artistic creativity can flourish with maximum delivery efficiency as well as ensuring the quality of the delivery would be world-class,” he said.

On the competition, Mohammed Rashdan added, “I am very excited about this competition and hopefully, it will be the first of many where we will bring the best and brightest of the industry through PAM.

“We look forward to building new homes of the highest quality, of assured reliability, quickly delivered and yet are affordable to many.”

Details of the competition and digital innovation labs will be released next month.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

(The Star) Focus on investments in high-technology, high-value and halal industries

ISKANDAR PUTERI: Johor wants to further strengthen and develop its position as the leading investment destination in Malaysia by focusing on high-technology, high-value and halal industries.

State International Trade, Investment and Utilities Committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse said Johor has the right eco-system to attract investments in the three sectors.

“Johor received RM30.5bil in investments for manufacturing activities in 2018, the highest in the country, placing Johor in the top spot for five consecutive years since 2015,’’ he said.

Puah said this in a press conference after witnessing the exchange of documents between Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB) member company Iskandar Innovations Sdn Bhd (IISB) and South Korea-based KT Corporation.Their first collaboration in the US$1mil partnership is the setting up of a VR Centre of Excellence at the Mall of Medini here, which is expected to open at the end of the third-quarter this year.

Present at the event were IIB president and chief executive officer Datuk Khairil Anwar Ahmad, IISB executive vice-president (Transformation) Johari Shukri Jamil, KT Corporation, Global Business Group vice-president Kwon Oryung and New Media Business Unit vice-president Park Jung-Ho.

He said among the two biggest investments received by Johor last year were the RM7.5bil expansion project by an existing electronics company in Muar for a 10-year period and about RM9bil investment for the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex.

“The Muar project will create about 500 job opportunities and we are in discussions with the consortium on their schedule to start their project which was approved at the end of last year,’’ said Puah.

He said he will lead a trade delegation to visit several cities in China, including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan for a week to attract more Chinese manufacturers to relocate their operations to Johor.

Meanwhile, Khairil said the VR Centre would be a new attraction targeting mostly teenagers, adding that IIB has a long term to position Iskandar Puteri as a digital nexus.

Kwon said KT Corporation would provide various ICT technologies to boost business.

(The Star) On a mission to ease congestion

JOHOR BARU: The state government has asked the Federal Government to pay serious attention to overcome traffic congestion especially at the Second Link between Malaysia and Singapore.

State Women Development and Tourism Committee chairman Liow Cai Tung said this problem at the Sultan Abu Bakar Complex (KSAB) near the Second Link Crossing in Tanjung Kupang needed to be addressed as next year was Visit Johor Year, and also Sukma in Johor.

Next year is also Visit Malaysia Year.

She added that a special task force had been set up to study and find ways to overcome congestion at KSAB since last year.

She said the task force, led by Perling assemblyman Cheo Yee How, was working with Johor Immigration Department (JINJ).

She said the congestion was caused by increase in traffic along the route, especially during holidays.

“According to JINJ, the number of people using the KSAB bus route on March 9 was 11,965, while 19,308 were recorded on March 16,” she said.

Liow said the facilities along the route in KSAB could not accommodate the arrival of too many tourists.

She said the department has taken measures like increasing its workforce to alleviate congestion during this holiday season.

Liow said she also received complaints that tourist bus passengers had to disembark and queue up for immigration clearance.

“To overcome the problem, KSAB has deployed Rela personnel at the bus route to maintain traffic flow so that bus passengers do not have to come down and queue.

“At the same time, all must plan their trips weIl to avoid getting stuck in traffic snarls.

“Travel agents can guide their customers on this. Also, they should arrange for tourists to stay at least one night in Johor to enjoy tourism products in the state,” she said.

Liow also encouraged foreign tourists to enter the state through Senai International Airport which now has seven international routes including direct flights from Guangzhou and Haikou in China.

(The Star) Designing future-forward solutions

Mah Sing Foundation has launched its inaugural Young Nation Builders Challenge (YNBC) programme with the aim to cultivate the next generation of nation builders.

Through this programme, secondary school students will be guided to identify problems in public spaces affecting their communities and craft solutions using the Design Thinking framework and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) approach in a competition. 

Participants are required to innovate and reinvent spaces based on five design challenges – accessibility, natural disasters, cultural and heritage protection, environmental conservation and transportation connectivity.

Speaking at the launch event at Selangor Information Technology and E-commerce Council (Sitec) in Shah Alam, Mah Sing Foundation chairman Datuk Indera Syed Norulzaman Syed Kamarulzman said the YNBC programme was also the foundation’s flagship social innovation programme.

“We strongly believe that investment in a better tomorrow can be achieved when every child is provided with the opportunity to thrive and fulfil their potential.

“The YNBC programme is not just about fun learning but it is designed according to what the current market wants.

“Through this, we hope students will get a gist of what it is like when they join the workforce and also to get them exposed beyond their comfort zones.

“Additionally, knowledge-sharing among accompanying teachers will be able to improve their learning,” he said.

The YNBC programme is sponsored by Mah Sing Foundation and organised by EdSpace Projects Sdn Bhd. Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim officiated at the event.

The competition comprises four phases. The first phase, which took place early this year, was for students to form their teams and submit their ideas and applications.

The second phase is a bootcamp, which will be followed by developing prototypes to garner public votes in the third phase. The competition will culminate in a grand finale where the top three teams will vie for the championship title.

The launch event also marked the first day of the four-day bootcamp which was held at the same venue.

The bootcamp saw the participation of 50 students grouped into 10 teams. 

Led by Mah Sing’s chief design officer Kevin Lew, the students attended a series of workshops designed to equip them with real-life skills to help them build their prototypes.

Durrani Umairah Zulkafi, 14, from SMK Seksyen 19 in Shah Alam, said her team hoped to innovate a special needs vehicle for the disabled community.

“For instance, blind people cannot drive. This gave us the idea of inventing transportation that can help them travel from one place to another.

“This is our first time participating in such a competition and we hope to help the community while gaining valuable experience,” she said.

Going towards environmental conservation is Lai Jian Seng and his team, who will be inventing a water collection system to harvest rainwater.

“At times, Selangor faces water crises and we could save water while recycling rainwater to improve the situation,” said the 16-year-old student from SMJK Yoke Kuan, Sekinchan.

Also taking up the environmental conservation theme is 16-year-old Tan Wei Hao and his team from SMJK Yoke Kuan.

“We are coming up with a waste segregation bin which will reward people in the form of food vouchers when they insert rubbish into it. 

“On top of that, we hope that this bin will encourage recycling among society,” said Tan.

After the bootcamp, the teams will return to their schools to execute and document their projects while they garner public votes using social media throughout April and May.

The top three teams voted by the public will then pitch their design to a panel of judges at the grand finale in June. More than RM12,000 cash prizes are to be won.

For updates and to vote, visit and

(The Star) Buyers decide the outcome (dto)

These days, the trend has shifted online, bringing along with it the rise in the number of people who prefer to carry out transactions on the Web.

This trend has affected buying behaviour of consumers today, with many opting for online purchases due to the speed and convenience offered by this medium where almost anything and everything can be done at the click of a mouse.

In line with this, Sime Darby Property has unrolled its latest innovation – dto (pronounced “ditto”), an online platform that empowers consumers to have a say and co-create their future homes before taking on the commitment of buying it.

When it comes to purchasing a home, nothing is easy. A common complaint among potential homebuyers is: “It’s so difficult to find a home that truly fits my needs.” This is the problem dto is striving to solve.

This digital platform helps to bridge the gap between consumers and property developers by providing consumers a platform where they can vote for their preferred design options for their property of interest.

The logic behind this is that since property developers have to make these decisions anyway, why not empower consumers – the people buying the property – to decide instead?

This would help consumers to avoid “suffering” the consequences of decisions made by the developer.

For one, colour can impact the value of the property, so why are property developers deciding on the building colour? Another common concern of high-rise dwellers is maintenance fees – it simply does not make sense to pay for common facilities they don’t need nor use.

Also, a home is very much a reflection of personal style and tastes, so if an owner does not like the colour or flooring or tiles, he would need to spend even more on top of what has already been paid for renovations.

This is where dto comes in to help address the concerns and frustrations of potential homeowners. It simply does this by following the preference of the majority – as simple as that.

Sime Darby Property says dto is the first of its kind in the industry, leading the way where no other property developer has gone before in opening doors to not only building with consumers in mind, but also building with consumers involved.

The pioneer team behind dto truly believes that this is a step forward to actually “walk the talk” in putting customers first. With the new age of consumers and the power of technology, why not?

With the new currency being knowledge, dto leverages on the power of the crowd. This online platform is powered by crowdsourcing from consumers, similiar to the likes of other big players out there such as Waze, Facebook, Grab, AirBnb and Wikipedia.

Since being made available to the public in mid-January, dto has already launched two residential projects on the platform for consumers to have a say.

Now everyone can play a role in deciding the outcome of property developments by Sime Darby Property. This empowers future homeowners to be part of the decision making process, closely co-creating with developers and the community.

Just so you know, dto is championed by four optimistic young individuals below the age of 30, who are passionate about making a difference. They hope dto will in the future be a new verb in the property industry, where Malaysians can say: “Don’t buy that property if you haven’t dto-ed it.”

As dto is an internal startup incubated by Sime Darby Property, all property developments currently listed on the dto platform are future new property projects by Sime Darby Property.

On April 20, in conjunction with Primetime8 by Sime Darby Property, dto will be having its first launch party that will feature a material display exhibition and experience with power talks from its partners at SJCC Sales Gallery in Subang Jaya, Selangor, where consumers can see, touch and feel the actual materials before casting their votes.

Do take advantage of this and make your voice heard. Alternatively, you may log on to and check it out for yourself how you can help build your dream home that will fulfil your needs.

(The Star) New plan for Jalan Putra Permai starts April 6

Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ), Public Works Department (JKR) and Lingkaran Trans Kota Holding Bhd (Litrak) will implement a three-phase traffic system at the Jalan Putra Permai/Persiaran Lestari Perdana traffic light junction.

The traffic system to manage traffic flow in the area is on a three-month trial and will begin on April 6.

Traffic will be monitored by the local council, JKR, the police and Litrak.

During this time, Jalan Prima Tropika heading out to Jalan Putra Permai will be closed.

Motorist from The Atmosphere, Taman Prima Tropika, Taman Alam Putra and Taman Lestari Permai heading to Seri Kembangan are advised to use Persiaran Permai Sentosa, Persiaran Putra Permai Utama, Persiaran Putra Permai Selesa and Persiaran Pinggiran Putra.

Those travelling to Puchong or Putrajaya may use Jalan Atmosphere Utama 2 and those to Lestari Perdana are advised to use Persiaran Putra Permai Utama and Persiaran Putra Permai Selesa.

Road signage will be placed to direct motorists.

For details, call 03-8024 7700 or visit

(The Star) Parking rates to go up in Shah Alam

Starting April 1, motorists will have to fork out more to park in Shah Alam as the rates are being increased by 50%.

Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) decided to go ahead with the price hike – the first in 21 years – from 40sen to 60sen per hour following discussions at the full board meeting yesterday.

Shah Alam deputy mayor Mohd Rashidi Ruslan said the monthly parking pass price would also be increased from RM60 to RM90 a month.

“We have not increased the rate since 1998 so we feel that it is time for us to do so. The rate is also reasonable and we are still one of the cheapest compared to other city councils,” he added.

Rashidi noted that Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) charged RM1.50 for the first hour in the city centre followed by RM2.50 for the subsequent hour, while Kota Baru Municipal Council charged 80sen per hour.

MBSA will also be handing over all 70,000 parking lots in its jurisdiction to parking contractor Suasa Efektif (M) Sdn Bhd.

This, he said, would yield at least 50% extra income for the city council that would be utilised for amenities and facilities for the people.

“Previously we were getting RM524,000 only but now, if we let them manage it, we will reduce all the overhead costs and get a clean profit of RM1.4mil that can be used for maintenance purposes,” he added.

The topic caused a heated debate among councillors with some agreeing to the hike while others questioned it.

A few councillors said residents would retaliate over the price hike, especially since many were already complaining about poor road conditions.

Others felt that the contractor should not be given a share of the profits for managing the parking.

However, Rashidi said the company would have to look at the maintenance of the parking lots as well as provide manpower to take enforcement action as well.

Apart from that, the city council also launched a special donation drive for former national football athlete Anuar Abu Bakar, who is also the head coach for MBSA’s Soccerkid Academy.

Anuar, 48, diagnosed with stage four liver cancer recently, is in need of financial aid to cover medical costs.

MBSA together with Selangor Football Association (FAS) will be working together to raise funds for the Anuar Abu Bakar Legend Fund until April 21.

Present at the launch was FAS secretary-general Dr Johan Kamal Hamidon, who said they hoped fans could help Anuar who had contributed a lot to Selangor and the national football arena.

He said RM1 from the sales proceeds of three games – Selangor vs Terengganu, Selangor vs Perak and Selangor vs PKNP (Perak State Development Corporation) – would be donated to the fund.

MBSA will also be setting up a donation box at its own events until April 21.

(The Star) Lorong Perbandaran to reopen next month after public protest

Klang Municipal Council (MPK), following intense objections on social media over the closure of Lorong Perbandaran in Klang, will reopen the road on April 23.

The road in front of MPK has been closed to traffic for nine months.

However, the road will only be open from 6am to 8pm daily.

Boom gates will be installed to prevent vehicles from entering the road after 8pm.

MPK president Datuk Mohamad Yasid Bidin told StarMetro the decision to reopen the road was made at the infrastructure sub-committee meeting after weighing all views on social media.

He said the construction of the boom gate would take a month to complete, adding that work would start soon.

“I spoke to local residents in Kampong Delek, Sungai Udang, Taman Melawis, Taman Setia and decided to reopen the road,” he said.

Despite the closure of Lorong Perbandaran, motorcyclists still use it as it is a shortcut.

One of the busiest roads in town, Lorong Perbandaran, which meanders up a hillock, allows motorists to cross over with ease to Klang town, Meru and Kapar via Jambatan Kota and head on towards the Klang district and land office, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) and Little India’s commercial area.

On April 3, 2018, MPK closed the road citing security reasons.

Mohamad Yasid had said that there were many minor incidents of theft in Lorong Perbandaran, particularly at the MPK carpark.

The unilateral decision to close the road was met with much protest from motorists and residents.

Many aired their unhappiness over the matter on MPK’s Facebook page, Saluran Komunikasi MPKlang. It was even discussed on various WhatsApp neighbourhood groups. Last week, the matter cropped up again and people mounted pressure on MPK to reopen the road.

Residents said the closure caused massive traffic jam outside the Kuan Yin Chinese temple in Jalan Raya Barat during peak hours.

Klang’s traffic police also witnessed daily traffic crawl during peak hours from Jalan Bukit Jawa entering Jalan Raya Barat behind the South Klang police station.

Collision of vehicles involving two-wheelers were also reported due to increase in traffic volume.

When the online protest began last year, resident Sanjeev Kumar started an online petition titled “Save Lorong Perbandaran in Klang from Permanent Closure” to garner the support of all Klangites.

Mohamad Yasid was quoted in StarMetro saying that the road was “municipality property” and MPK had the right to close it off but did not expect such strong protest.

Netizens who followed the news on Star Online were vociferous on the matter.

Taman Melawis resident Serjeet Singh said it was only right for MPK to reopen Lorong Perbandaran as it spent taxpayers’ money to strengthen the slope.

“We are fine with the 6am to 8pm time limit, as these hours are crucial for people getting to work, doing errands and those wanting to go across to Klang town, Kapar and Meru using Jambatan Kota,” he said.

Klang resident K. Arumugam, 65, was glad that Mohamad Yasid understood the difficulties motorists’ faced because they had to drive a longer distance to go to Syabas or even MPK on Lorong Perbandaran.

Resident Lim Yeong Peow said it was good that the road would be reopened but wanted it to be turned into a one-way street for smooth traffic flow.

Y. Nageswari, 56, who works in Petaling Jaya, said she took extra 30 minutes to get out of Klang town and on to the Federal Highway when the road closure was implemented.

Upon hearing the news, Nageswari said she was happy that by next month, travelling to work would be less stressful, smoother and faster.