Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Egypt imposes currency limits / Malaysia currency limits

If you are travelling to Egypt, you may want to take note of their new ruling on currency limits.

The Star reported today that:

Egypt has banned travellers from carrying more than US$10,000 in foreign currency in or out of the country, as officials worry over pressure on its pound currency and a rush by Egyptians to withdraw their savings from banks.

Political turmoil over the past month has raised fears among ordinary citizens and investors that the government - which has pushed back talks to seal IMF funding till January - may not be able to get its fragile finances under control.
More..Egypt imposes currency limits

Malaysia also has currency limits. Check out the Royal Malaysian Customs website for guideline on Permitted Currency Limits.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Floods worsen in east coast states

If you plan on visiting the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia, best to avoid this time of the year. It is the monsoon season now causing floods to occur with the heavy rainfall.

The east coast states include Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang. Popular resort islands of Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Redang are also on the east coast (off Terengganu), so is Club Med which is in Pahang. Club Med is closed from end of September through February due to the monsoon.

The above picture from The Star shows motorists forcing their way through a flooded road in Kuantan on Tuesday. (NIK NAIZI HUSIN/Starpix)

The Star reported that:

The flood situation in Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang has worsened with more than 10,800 people evacuated to flood relief centres as of Tuesday evening from 6,000 in the morning.

In Terengganu, 5,297 victims are now housed in shelters while in the Kelantan, the number rose to 3,218 people, according the the official websites of their respective state governments.
More: The Star..Floods worsen in east coast states, 10,800 evacuated

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Big Bad Wolf Book Sale 2012 - Biggest book sale in the world

If you happen to be in Kuala Lumpur shopping for Christmas, books may be what you would want to add to your shopping list especially when there is the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale currently on.

They are having the last 60 hours (until 9pm Dec 23) of non-stop book sale touted as the biggest book sale in the world! All books come with a discount of between 75 - 95%!

Here are details of The Big Bad Wolf Book Sale 2012 - with information on how to get there included. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Indonesian maid agency fees

Many households in Malaysia have a maid (or two and more) in their home. Indonesians make up a big percentage of foreign workers in this country who are employed as domestic workers.

On Dec 1, 2011, following the Lombok Agreement, a three-year moratorium was lifted allowing employment of Indonesians as house-help in Malaysia to resume. Despite the moratorium, influx of maids from Indonesia has not been significant. This has been due to agents complaining that the fees stipulated under the agreement were too low to make a profit.

Under the agreement, prospective employers need to pay a RM4,511 agent fee, which includes RM2,711 to be paid to the agency and a RM1,800 advance payment which employers can recover in instalments from the maid's salary over six months.

This would mean that in future, the cost of employing a domestic worker from Indonesia would be higher than what it is today.

Source: The Star..Malaysia, Indonesia to renegotiate maid agency fees

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Foreign students to pass BM in public and private varsities

The Star reported that

Foreign students in both public and private tertiary institutions will now have to pass a course in Bahasa Melayu Communication with the aim of helping the students assimilate into local culture and prevent misunderstandings.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said

“It covers very basic conversational skills in Malay, similar to how Malaysian students learn German or Russian when they study in those countries.

“We will also introduce compulsory subjects on soft skills (for local and foreign students) that are relevant to their field of study or is required in their professional careers,” he said after launching the 25th Star Education Fair here yesterday.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Multiple-entry visas for Malaysians travelling to India

Great news for Malaysians travelling to India..

The Star reported today that:

Malaysians travelling to India as tourists can now expect to be given multiple-entry visas that provide greater flexibility in their travel plans, according to the Indian High Commission here Tuesday.

Previously, the tourist visas only allowed double entry. Last week, the Indian government lifted the two-month gap requirement between two consecutive visits to India by Malaysian nationals.

Deputy High Commissioner Aseem R. Mahajan said all visas would be ready within three working days and applicants should exercise caution in filling in the forms and selecting the visa category to avoid any inconvenience.

Business and trade travellers to India also enjoy multiple entry visas that are valid up to a year and without any gap between entries. - Bernama

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Minimum Retirement Age in private sector in Malaysia

THE long-awaited implementation date of the new retirement age of 60 instead of 55 in the private sector has finally been announced.

The Minimum Retirement Age Act 2012 will come into effect from July 1, 2013. Employers have a six-month moratorium up to Dec 31 next year to fully come on board.

More: The Star..Get maximum advantage from Minimum Retirement Age Act

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lynas rare earth refinery starts operations

Lynas Corporation has announced the commencement of operations of its rare earth refinery here in Malaysia. The facility is located in Gebeng, Balok, a town in Kuantan, an east coast state in the peninsula.

View Larger Map

The Star reported that

The Australian miner said in a statement Friday that the first feed to kiln was now underway at its Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng here. More..Lynas rare earth refinery starts operations

Related article about the closing down of a previous rare earth facility.

Online database of stolen cars from next year

The increased incidents of stolen vehicles in the county has prompted the Association of General Insurance of Malaysia, the Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia (PIAM) to set up a database of reported stolen and total loss vehicles. This database will be available early next year as reported by The Star, article below:

KUALA LUMPUR: An online database of reported stolen and total loss vehicles will be available for checking by insurers and takaful operators at all points of sale, said Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia (PIAM).

This new initiative would come into effect early next year," it said in a statement today.

The move would see more stringent checks for possible stolen vehicles and total loss vehicles that have been reported to insurers and takaful operators before motor insurance cover can be issued, it said.

PIAM said the initiative was needed as the total overall number of vehicles including motorcycles reported stolen to insurance companies and takaful operators had decreased but the number of stolen private cars had increased by 2.5 per cent to 9,703 units last year from 9,467 units in 2010.

The association urged the public to be cautious when buying used cars as they may possibly be buying a stolen or total loss car.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1Malaysia Clinics around the country

Malaysians are lucky in a way where healthcare is concerned. For just RM1 (One Ringgit) - equivalent to roughly US$0.30, one can get quality medical treatment. Such treatment is available at any government clinic just like the one in the image above. These 1Malaysia clinics have just recently been set up and more such 1Malaysia clinics around the country are in the plan for next year.

1Malaysia Clinics, which is an initiative under the Cost of Living NKRA (National Key Results Area), are community clinics located strategically around the country and are open daily from 10am to 10pm.

Source: The Star..More 1Malaysia clinics planned for next year, says Liow

Monday, November 19, 2012

Melbourne to take over issuing, renewal of Malaysian passports

This is good news for Malaysians in Australia especially in the states of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

The Star reported that:

The issuance and renewal of Malaysian passports in Australia will be moved from Canberra to Melbourne early next year. Dr Mohd Rameeze Yahaya, the Malaysian consul-general made the announcement at the Malaysian-Singapore Lasallian dinner Saturday night.

This relocation is in response from years of complaints that Malaysians had to travel to Canberra at great expense to renew or get new passports.

Most feel Melbourne is a far more interesting place to visit than Canberra.

The Malaysian consulate in Perth will continue to keep its passport office.

Another relocation involves the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) which would move from Sydney to Melbourne in February.

It will be housed in the same building as the consulate-general in St Kilda Road.

However, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority will remain in Sydney.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Free Egg McMuffin for breakfast at McDonald's

If you are up for breakfast at McDonald's tomorrow, be there between 7am - 10am for a free Egg McMuffin burger. You read right.

McDonald's will be giving away 200,000 free Egg McMuffin burgers to the first 1000 customers tomorrow, Nov 19.

Details..McDonald’s giving away 200,000 free Egg McMuffin burgers

Friday, October 26, 2012

Selamat Hari Raya Haji

Today, Muslims in Malaysia like Muslims around the world celebrate Hari Raya Haji, as we call it here.

Hari Raya Haji is the second most important festival in the Muslim calendar. It marks the end of the annual hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca.

I'd like to wish everyone who is celebrating this happy occasion Selamat Hari Raya Haji.

The streets in the city are quieter than usual as people head back to their hometown to celebrate the festival with their family. And the holiday falling on a Friday means a longer weekend for to enjoy the holiday

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Malaysia's Most Valuable Brands 2012

Three banks and three telcos top the list of Malaysia's Most Valuable Brands for 2012. Maybank is number 1.

Image source:

The combined worth of Malaysia's 30 most valuable brands this year stands at RM80.2bil, a 49% increase from 2009, according to global brand consultancy Interbrand which conducted the study.

Maybank and CIMB, the two top brands, posted more than 100% growth since three years ago.

AirAsia, ranked 12th, registered a 257.3% growth, the biggest jump among the 30 listed brands.

The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As) and Media Prima, which were joint presenters of MMVB 2012, had commissioned the valuation study, which was based on three primary components, viz., financial performance, role of brand, and brand strength.

The MMVB 2012 event was held last night.

- Maybank is Malaysia's most valuable brand
- Maybank is number 1

Friday, October 12, 2012

2013 Malaysia National Public Holidays & School Holidays

When it comes to public holidays, Malaysia is among one of the countries with the most public holidays. Hence, being equipped with the knowledge of Malaysia public holidays is a good idea before you plan your vacation to the country.

Schools, government offices and businesses close during public holidays, the latter including banks, post offices and utilities companies. Shopping malls and complexes, restaurants and food outlets stay open 24/7 all year round, however.

Below is the 2013 scheduled national public holidays for your reference:

01 New Year's Day - Tuesday
24 Prophet Muhammad's Birthday - Thursday
27 Thaipusam - Sunday (Replacement on Monday)

10 Chinese Lunar New Year Day 1 - Sunday (Replacement on Tuesday)
11 Chinese Lunar New Year Day 2 - Monday

01 Labour Day - Wednesday
24 Wesak Day - Friday

01 Yang di-Pertuan Agong's Birthday - Saturday

26 Nuzul Al-Quran - Friday

08 Hari Raya Puasa Day 1 - Thursday
09 Hari Raya Puasa Day 2 - Friday
31 National Day - Saturday

16 Malaysia Day - Monday (Latest addition since 2010)

15 Hari Raya Haji - Tuesday

03 Deepavali - Sunday (Replacement on Monday)
05 Awal Muharram - Tuesday

25 Christmas - Wednesday

If you are a regular visitor to Kuala Lumpur and/or the Klang Valley, the following two public holidays may be useful to know:

01 Federal Territory Day - Friday

11 Sultan Selangor's Birthday - Wednesday

Public schools in Malaysia close four times a year per schedule below for 2013:

- Mar 23 to 31 (9 days)
- May 25 to Jun 9 (16 days)
- Aug 07 to 18 (12 days)
- Nov 16 to Jan 1, 2014 (47 days)

The above is good to take note of too as local holiday destinations would also be heavily-booked. Best to make advance reservations to avoid disappointment.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Ban stays on school children bringing phone to school

Many parents will be happy to know that the ban on handphones in school stays.

The Education Ministry has decided to maintain its ban on students bringing mobile phones to school, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister, said the ministry was still studying on the need for students to bring IT devices to school.

More.. School phone ban retained

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Malaysia Budget 2013 Report

Tax breaks, affordable housing and cash for the needy are just a few of the goodies in Budget 2013.

Here's the Full text of the Budget Speech

Friday, September 28, 2012

Malaysia Budget Day

Today, the PM announces the Budget for next year. What is expected?

Budget 2013 is expected to address the middle-income trap, in which more than 50% of the urban population are stuck.

From housing to transport, middle class Malaysians have been left unassisted as they grapple with the high cost of living in the city, and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is certain to look into rectifying the situation.

More..Urban group’s concerns to be focus of PM’s speech

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sights and sounds of lantern festival at Central Market

The 1Malaysia Lantern Tourism Festival 2012 kicked off with fireworks, LED drum performances and a dance with an amalgam of traditional costumes in front of Central Market last week.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said this year’s festival was different from previous years. “This year’s lantern is bigger and more beautiful,” she said.

If you happen to be in Kuala Lumpur, this would be a good time to visit the many beautiful lanterns on display at the Central Market, a tourist destination in itself where you can buy home Malaysian handicraft for friends and family back home.

More..Sights and sounds of lantern festival light up Central Market

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Affordable homes for middle-income earners

The prices of houses in Malaysia have risen so much that buying a house is beyond the means of a middle-income earner let alone one who is new in the workforce.

Under the 1Malaysia People Housing programme (PR1MA), affordable housing will now be available to middle-income earners, even those who have a total household income of RM7,500 per month.

After studying 20 schemes including the HDB in Singapore before coming up with the programme, the government has widened the band to stretch it to a combined salary of up to RM7,500, previously, RM6,000. The lower threshold is RM3,000.

The houses will be sold without any ethnic quota but will be available at special discounted rates through a transparent balloting method.

PR1MA chief executive officer, Datuk Abdul Mutalib Alias, stressed that these are not low cost units and that this housing programme is about solving housing needs as well as addressing the lifestyle needs of the middle-income group.

There will be a moratorium of 10 years before the buyers can sell their units though there will be exceptions based on circumstances. Details are being worked out for an announcement next week as reported.

More: Finally, affordable homes for middle-income earners

Estino Taniyu - third Malaysian to swim across the English Channel

Another Malaysian has successfully swum the English Channel. He is Estino Taniyu who hails from Sabah, East Malaysia.

His successful completion of a solo challenge across the 33.6km English Channel was done without his mother in Semporna knowing anything of his feat but naturally, she was happy when told of the good news.

There aren't that many Malaysians who have accomplished this feat of swimming solo across the English Channel.

Estino made history as the third Malaysian to have done it at 10.20pm Malaysian time on Friday clocking a timing of 13 hours 45 minutes to complete his endeavour.

The first Malaysian to complete the feat is Datuk Abdul Malik Mydin in 17 hours and 35 minutes in 2003, followed by Lennard Lee in 2004. He finished it in nine hours and 45 minutes.

According to Bernama, the Malaysian Royal Navy personnel reached Sandy Beach, Calais in France, after taking off from Dover Beach in Britain at 8.41am (Malaysian time).

Meanwhile, a relay team of six swimmers, also from the Malaysian navy, completed their challenge of swimming across the English Channel at 4pm on Thursday in 14 hours and 30 minutes.

The team comprised Mohd Roslan Mohd Zawawi, Mohd Khairul Faizal Mazli, Mohd Salleh Mahmor, Buranurdin Sali, Sharizal Omar and Mohd Zulfadhli Mahamad.

Syabas to all!

Source: Malaysians rejoice as Estino conquers English Channel — but his mum knew nothing of it

Update: Channel swimmers get hero's welcome home

Friday, September 07, 2012

Price of RON97 petrol is now RM3 per litre

Yesterday, Sep 6, saw a hike in the price of premium petrol RON97 to RM3 per litre, up by 30 sen.

The retail price of RON97 petrol is determined by a 'managed float' in which the price fluctuates according to market forces.

Here in Malaysia, the price of petrol is the same across the board meaning wherever you fill your tank in any part of the country, the petrol price is the same. There are two types of petrol being sold in Malaysia, RON95 and RON97. The latter being the premium grade is the petrol available to foreigners (i.e., non-citizens) in the country.

Related article:
Petrol price for RON97 is now RM3 per litre

Saturday, September 01, 2012

MAS operates direct flights to Katmandu

Good news for holiday-makers visiting Nepal or for Nepalese returning for home-leave from KL as MAS, the national carrier, now flies to Katmandu direct.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) began its thrice-weekly flights to Kathmandu, with the inaugural flight departing for Nepal's capital from KL International Airport at 8.55 am this morning.

The KL-Kathmandu flights will be on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft is used for the route and comes with 144 economy class and 16 business class seats.

With the flight to Kathmandu, MAS now operates 47 international routes.

Source: The Star..MAS begins flights to Kathmandu

Friday, August 31, 2012

Malaysia celebrates 55 years of Independence today

Today, August 31, Malaysia celebrates her 55th Merdeka (Independence) Day. This year, the celebration is here in Kuala Lumpur. In the image above, you see Malaysians proudly waving the Jalur Gemilang (the Malaysian flag) as they celebrate the nation's 55th Merdeka Day at Dataran Merdeka. (Image is courtesy of IBRAHIM MOHTAR/The Star)

In the background, is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Topped with its copper domes and a 40m high clock tower, it is a major landmark in the city. It serves as the backdrop for important events such as the National Day Parade on August 31 and the ushering in of the New Year.

In the picture, dignitaries and invited guests are seated in front of the building under makeshift canopies.

The Merdeka Day parade, in which 13,000 people participated..

Last night, a large crowd of Malaysians gathered at KLCC to celebrate the country's 55th Independence Day.

The party, which was organised by Petronas KLCC Holdings, showcased performances by local singers Datuk David Arumugam, Soo Wincci and Hafiz, as well as live music, fancy fountain displays and a colourful display of fireworks to mark the celebration.
More from.The Star: Performances and fireworks to usher in Merdeka Day

Google Malaysia even has a Google doodle for this milestone. It depicts the Hibiscus flower, Malaysia's national flower.

(Images, except for the last one. are all from The Star)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Greetings from Malaysia

Best wishes for a Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri to friends and readers..

It's often said that KL is the best place to be during a major festival such as Hari Raya and Chinese New Year. This is so because most city-folks are actually migrant workers from smaller towns across the country. During either of these two festivals, the exodus begins a few days ahead of the festival leaving the city quite deserted and relaxed. Roads in and around the city are so much less congested providing a great drive for those still in the city.

If you are planning a visit to KL during these festivals, you would be relieved to know that food is still readily available. Fastfood outlets (McDonald's, PizzaHut, BurgerKing, KFC, et al) are open throughout the festival. Malls and shopping complexes stay open, supermarkets, restaurants too are open for business.

As for hotel accommodations and flights, it is wise to make your reservations ahead of the intended time of travel.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Fair in Kuala Lumpur - Aug 18 to 26, KLCC

If you are a book-lover and are visiting Kuala Lumpur this week, here is an activity you will enjoy, visiting a Book Fair or officially known as BookFest @ Malaysia.

- Publishers from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Singapore and Malaysia.
- Millions of books from the latest and best collection of Chinese, English and Malay titles.
- Many fun-filled and exciting activities organised throughout BookFest @ Malaysia.

BookFest @ Malaysia is open from 10am to 10pm daily from 18 - 26 August 2012. Admission is RM 2.50 per ticket. FREE admission is given for students 18 years & below and senior citizens 60 years & above.

For more information, visit Book Fair / BookFest @ Malaysia is back!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Rules for Cigarettes

Source: The Star

Come Sept 1, all discounts in the sale of cigarettes will be banned and only 20-stick cigarette packs will be allowed for sale in Malaysia.

This is part of a new directive issued by the Health Ministry to standardize cigarette pack sizes with RM7 as the minimum retail price.

“All (cigarette) manufacturers will only be allowed to sell cigarettes in a 20-stick pack and every carton of cigarettes may only contain 10 packs each.

More..New rules for cigarettes

Age 60 EPF withdrawal option

PUTRAJAYA: Starting next year, private sector employees who work until the extended retirement age of 60 will have the option to withdraw their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings at the same age.

Under the amendment, the EPF will also compel those who work until the age of 60 to continue to contribute to their EPF savings throughout their term of employment.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said:

"The EPF, after deliberations with the ministry, has decided that a 30% EPF withdrawal can be made at age 50 and the remaining at 55 years old.

"But those who don't take out their savings at 55 can make the full withdrawal at 60 years of age."

Source: The Star..Age 60 withdrawal option after EPF Act amended next year

Monday, August 13, 2012

Smoking ban in Jonker Walk and Jalan Kota

Jonker Walk and Jalan Kota, major tourist attractions in Malacca, have been gazetted smoke-free zones.

Smoking indoors or outdoors including entertainment outlets at the two locations are strictly prohibited.

Smokers risk being fined RM5,000 if caught puffing along the streets in the historic city.

A signboard has been put up next to the Tan Kim Seng bridge near the entrance of Jonker Walk to remind smokers. A bin has been placed below the signboard for disposal of cigarettes. More signboards will be put up along Jonker Walk.

The authorities are in the process of getting permission from the Heritage Department for Jalan Kota to be smoke-free as it is located in the heritage core zone.

Source: The Star..Malacca bans smoking in Jonker Walk and Jalan Kota

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games

In a few hours, the London 2012 Olympic Games will come to a close. The Closing Ceremony promises to be an extravaganza of singing, dancing and silliness - a spectacular party, the best ever the organizers assured.

The Closing Ceremony is scheduled for 9pm BST which works out to be at approximately 4am Malaysian time, August 13. I believe on Astro, ESPN Channel will be telecasting it live. You can also watch it live-streamed on the Official Olympic Channel.

More information here on the Olympics Closing Ceremony.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pandelela Rinong wins an Olympic medal for Malaysia

Malaysia has won a second Olympic medal through 10m platform diver, Pandelela Rinong. Pandelela won a bronze. The other medal, a silver, was won by Lee Chong Wei of badminton.

More on Pandelela Rinong.

Sybas, Pandalela!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Warm welcome home for Lee Chong Wei

Badminton hero, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Malaysia's silver medallist Olympian was warmly welcomed home at the KL International Airport yesterday.

Waving flags and banners, over 400 fans gathered at the airport as early as 4.30am to wait for his arrival to show their appreciation for putting up a good fight in Sunday's badminton final.

Among those at the airport were a delegation from the Youth and Sports Ministry, as well as students from Bukit Jalil Sports School who described Chong Wei as their "idol".

Chong Wei thanked everyone for their support "but I am disappointed not to bring home the gold."

More: The Star..Warm welcome home for Chong Wei

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Penang hit by flood

In Penang, thousands of residents in low-lying areas woke up early yesterday to find water had flowed into their homes.

A downpour which started at 3am caused parts of Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Sungai Pinang, Jalan Patani, Jalan Air Itam and Jalan Datuk Keramat to be submerged in water.

Source: The Star

The water rose to knee-deep levels in several areas, and a high tide made the situation worse.

At least 3,000 people, mainly those living in the flood-prone areas of Datuk Keramat and Jalan P. Ramlee, were affected by the flood.

- Flash flood in Penang
- A rude awakening

Friday, August 03, 2012

Cameras for traffic offences

Come September, more than 1,000 cameras will “keep watch” on roads across the country under the Automated Enforcement System (AES).

Eye on the road: A camera is seen in Putrajaya as part of the AES test in over 10 locations.

There will be 566 speed cameras, 265 traffic light cameras and 250 mobile cameras (for places with inadequate infrastructure for installing a camera).

The AES is able to detect those who drive above the speed limit or beat the red light. There will be a 12mb image to indicate the time, date and location of the offence. Once the AES is launched, errant road users will receive summonses within two weeks of the offence being committed “while it is still fresh in their minds,” according to Road Transport Department director-general Datuk Solah Mat Hassan.

He also said that the police would use the AES to track down criminals and to control traffic.

Source: The Star..Road users under AES watch

Thursday, August 02, 2012

MRT in KL Chinatown - no demolition of lots

MRT Corporation reassured Chinatown traders that it will make good on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s promise not to acquire or demolish any private properties along the iconic Jalan Sultan here for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project.

Amir Mahmood Razak, its strategic communications and public relations director, told a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur that despite the many grouses raised by property owners along the iconic street, MRT Corp is still keen on engaging with them to strike mutual agreements (MA).

A group of Chinatown traders had last month demanded a signed undertaking from Putrajaya to ensure their properties would not be touched during construction of the multibillion ringgit rail line.

The traders complained that although the government had previously promised not to acquire their properties for the project, no one has since offered any confirmation.

As of June this year, the owners of 20 out of 24 properties on Jalan Sultan have agreed to sign Points of Agreement with MRT Corp, agreeing to vacate their premises for six months to facilitate the MRT’s underground works.

Amir added that the traders may not even have to move out of their properties during construction of the MRT underground, despite the initial proposal that they vacate their premises for six months.

A technical team is currently carrying out a survey on the condition of the buildings on Jalan Sultan to determine if they would remain structurally safe for occupation during construction works below.

Continue reading..MRT Corp insists no plans to acquire, demolish Chinatown lots

Friday, July 27, 2012

Opening Ceremony of London Olympics - Watch it LIVE

The day has finally arrived! It's the day of the 2012 London Olympics. One billion people around the world will be watching the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics live. Check out the many channels available you can watch the spectacular 3-hour show live.

The Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics is at 9pm, i.e., approximately 3am Malaysian time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

10 Foods to Try Before You Die

You've heard of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die or 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
.. and many others. Here is a list of 10 Foods to Try Before You Die as compiled by Viator Travel Blog.

Malaysian seafood curry laksa is one of 10 foods ‘to try before you die’ says Viator. This is what the dish looks like, image courtesy of Viator.

Hailed as Malaysia‘s king of soups, this laksa is a spicy, tangy, coconut-creamy soup packed full of noodles, seafood, fish sticks, puffed tofu, vegetables, a hard-boiled egg, coriander and chilli sambal.

The Chinese-Malay dish is a classic of Peranakan cuisine, merging elements from Malaysia and Singapore. There are heaps of regional variances, and some seafood laksas also include chicken. If you come across assam laksa, you’ll find it has a fish rather than coconut broth.

The general rule is the simpler the surroundings, the tastier the curry laksa, so pull up a stool at a streetside stall in a Penang backstreet or Singapore food court and tuck in. A curry laksa really is to die for!
- Viator's 10 Foods to Try Before You Die

The other dishes that made the list include:

- Masala Dosa, the popular Indian crepe-like pancake with a filling made of potatoes, lentils and spices is also widely available in many restaurants in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
- Peking duck from China
- BBQ ribs from the United States
- Teppanyaki from Japan
- France's escargots, which are actually snails served in shells and cooked in a delicious melange of garlicky parsley butter, before being served as appetisers.
- Moussaka finds a mention on the list - described as the Greek answer to the Italian lasagne. "The dish is made by smothering layers of ingredients in a cheese bechamel sauce, and baking until creamily melted and golden," the website describes.
- Zucchini flowers from Italy
- Thai dish Som tam or green papaya salad
- Pavlova from Australia-New Zealand.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Penang's new tourist attraction - steel rod sculptures

If you have been to Penang in the last two years, you would have noticed some street art in the form of steel sculptures. These steel rod sculptures featuring caricatures are Georgetown UNESCO World Heritage Site's latest tourist attraction.

Located in various parts of the city of Georgetown, these 24 witty sculptures have been attracting both foreign and local tourists alike. People have been flocking to photograph these steel sculptures that have a story behind every one of them. They each denote a trade or way of life from a past era. A short description accompanies every sculpture. A lot of research has been put in to ensure that the sculptures are based on historical facts.

Yes, there is even a sculpture for Jimmy Choo, the world-renowned shoe designer who started his apprenticeship in shoe making at the shoe store, Hong Kong Shoe Store, located at Munstri Street. Thus the Jimmy Choo steel rod sculpture is installed here on Munstri Street.

Sculpture At Work is the brainchild of this project and contributors include local talented artists including Baba Chuah, Lefty Julian Kam, Reggie Lee and Tan Mun Kian.

Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, launched the sculpture project yesterday. Lim appealed to the public and tourists posing for pictures by these artworks not to touch or vandalise the sculptures.

The following are the steel sculptures installed since October 2010 under phases one, two, three and four. This is an ongoing project, so there will more being installed around the island.

01. Narrowest Five Foot Way (Stewart Lane)
02. Win-Win Situation (Muntri Street)
03. Kopi ‘O’ (Kimberly Street)
04. No Plastic Bag (Prangin Lane)
05. Property (Victoria Street)
06. Untrained Parakeet (King Street)
07. Mr Five Foot Way (Transfer Road)
08. Wrong Tree (Market Lane)
09. Cheating Husband (Love Lane)
10. Limousine (Carnarvon Street/Carnarvon Lane)
11. Waterway (Prangin Road Ghaut)
12. Escape (Acheh Street)
13. Bullock Cart Wheel (Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling)
14. Cow and Fish (Malay Street/Fish Lane)
15. Labourer to Trader (Jalan Kuala Kangsar)
16. One Leg Kicks All (Muntri Street)
17. Too Hot (Weld Quay)
18. Jimmy Choo (Muntri Street/Leith Street)
19. Three Generations (Kimberley Street/Sungai Ujong Road)
20. Ting Ting Thong (Seck Chuan Lane)
21. Tok Tok Mee (China Street/Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling)
22. Too Narrow (Soo Hong Lane)
23. Procession (Armenian Street)
24. Rope Style (Rope Walk)

Bring along this list when you visit Penang next. It might come in handy.

Source: The Star..Witty new attractions

Friday, July 20, 2012

Free lecture on Chinese imperial ceramics

If you are in Malaysia and is a collector of antique ceramics or simply just interested to learn more about imperial porcelain from China, the Bank Negara Museum in Kuala Lumpur is where you would want to head to tonight.

There will be a free public lecture on National Ceramic Treasures of the Beijing Palace Museum organised by the South-East Asian Ceramic Society, peninsular Malaysia Chapter, in collaboration with the Bank Negara Museum & Art Gallery.

The ground-breaking lecture will be given by guest speaker Wang Liying, secretary-general of the Beijing Palace Museum in China, a leading expert and scholar on ancient Chinese ceramics. She is a central figure on policy matters pertaining to Government museums in her country.

Wang examining a celadon shard from the Southern Song Dynasty during a visit to an ancient imperial kiln site near Longquan city in China.

Wang's presentation will be based on the most important ceramic artifacts on display at the Beijing Palace Museum, where they are originally found.

Given the nature of the museum’s collection, the ceramics to be highlighted will be extraordinary ceramics of imperial quality.

Explained Wang: “I will explain the course of development of ancient ceramic and pottery production in China. I will also include the appraisal system and appreciation of ancient Chinese ceramics. If time permits, there will be a brief analysis of the ancient Chinese ceramic arts in the auction market today.”

Bank Negara Museum & Art Gallery
is located at 2 Jalan Dato’ Onn, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 603-91792784 / 91794077. The lecture is from 7.30pm-9.30pm, tonight.

Source: The Star..Spotlight on imperial ceramics

First day of Ramadan on Saturday

Muslims will commence fasting on Saturday (which is tomorrow) to mark Ramadan, said Keeper of the Rulers' Seal Datuk Syed Danial Syed Ahmad on Thursday.

The announcement was telecast through Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM).

The Council of Rulers had agreed that the method of deciding the date of the commencement of fasting would be based on 'rukyah and hisab'.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you, Selamat Berpuasa!

Source: The Star

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New voluntary Private Retirement Scheme launched

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak launched the voluntary Private Retirement Scheme (PRS) that will allow employees and self employed the opportunity to save for their retirement. To encourage savings under the scheme, individuals are granted tax relief of up to RM3,000 and employers are provided with tax deduction on contributions to the PRS on behalf of their employees above the statutory rate of 19%.

More..PM launches new voluntary Private Retirement Scheme

Related articles:
- Private pension plan launched
- More options to invest savings with new scheme

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Full EPF withdrawal only at 60

From The Star..

The age for full withdrawal from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) by contributors will be raised to 60 years and partial withdrawal to 55.

The planned amendment to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Act 1991 follows the passing of the Minimum Retirement Age Bill 2012 in Parliament last month which extends the minimum retirement age for private sector employees from 55 to 60.

“It is a consequential move. Once we raise the minimum retirement age, we have to raise the age of EPF withdrawal as well,” said Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai.

He said the decision had been made and it was only a matter of time before the amendment would come into effect.

Currently, contributors can make partial EPF withdrawal at 50 and full withdrawal of their savings upon retirement at 55.

However, Lim said they were looking at providing a transition period for contributors who have already planned to withdraw their contributions within the next few years.

“We have not finalised the transition period, but it will be between three and five years,” he said adding that during this period, contributors who reached the age of 55 could still make full withdrawals.

More: The Star..Full EPF withdrawal at 60

Related articles:
- EPF hassle-free withdrawal new ruling for MyKad holders
- Parliament passes minimum retirement age Bill for private sector

Monday, July 16, 2012

National Public holidays for 2012 and MAS extra flights for Hari Raya Puasa

This is seven months late but still good for until the rest of the year. The following are national public holidays observed this year, 2012:

1 Jan New Year's Day
23 Jan Chinese Lunar New Year's Day
24 Jan Second day of Chinese Lunar New Year
1 Feb Federal Territory Day
5 Feb The Prophet Muhammad's Birthday
7 Feb Thaipusam
1 May Labour Day
5 May Wesak Day
2 Jun The Yang di-Pertuan Agong's Birthday
19 Aug Hari Raya Puasa Day 1
20 Aug Hari Raya Puasa Day 2
31 Aug National Day
16 Sep Malaysia Day
26 Oct Hari Raya Haji
13 Nov Deepavali
15 Nov Awal Muharram/New Year
24 Dec Christmas Eve
25 Dec Christmas Day

The upcoming public holiday is the Hari Raya Puasa on Aug 19 and 20. This major festival will again see an exodus of people making their way back to their hometown to celebrate the happy occasion with their family.

Like previous years, MAS will have extra and upgraded flights for Hari Raya.

New Malaysian currency notes issued today

Source: The Star

Bank Negara issues into circulation the new currency notes today.

The new notes comprise RM100, RM20, RM10, RM5 and RM1 denominations, in bright colours and motifs depicting Malaysia's cultural heritage and nature.

More..Bank Negara issues new notes

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Petaling Jaya alternative transport system

Exciting times ahead for Petaling Jaya residents..

The Star reported that:

TRAMS, electric trishaws and water taxis along five rivers in Petaling Jaya are among the alternative modes of transportation proposed in the city’s plan to enable its people to travel in an efficient manner.

Under the plan, boats and hovercrafts would be used to transport commuters from piers built along Sungai Damansara, Sungai Kayu Ara, Sungai Penchala, Sungai Tambul and Sungai Payong by 2015.

Energy efficient: MBPJ has proposed several routes for electric trams such as the one used in Grenoble, France. (Pic from

Fast ride: Water taxis have been proposed by the city council for six rivers in PJ. (Pic from

Proposed tram route

Image source: The Star

New Harmony Act to replace The Sedition Act

Extract from the article in The Star:

The Sedition Act 1948 will be repealed and replaced with a new National Harmony Act in the latest measure under the country's political transformation plan, announced Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said the decision to replace the Sedition Act was made to find a mechanism that could determine the best balance between guaranteeing every citizen's freedom of expression and the need to tackle the complex nature of the country's multi-racial and multi-religious society.

Under the proposed Act, he said any attempt by anyone to pit the community against each other would be considered a crime against the people of Malaysia.

Najib said provisions in the new Act would focus on inculcating and protecting harmony and respect within Malaysian society from the action of irresponsible people.

It would allow the Government to act against those who use sensitive issues to split national unity.

He said the new Act would, however, maintain the Government's powers to act against those inciting hatred in order to give rise to disloyalty to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or any Malay Ruler; those who spread ill will and animosity between races; and those who question any right, special position, privileges and prerogatives enshrined and protected under Part 3 or Articles 152, 153 and 181 of the Federal Constitution.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Parliament passes minimum retirement age Bill for private sector

The private sector Minimum Retirement Age Bill 2012 was passed by the Dewan Rakyat Wednesday (today). The retirement age for private sector is now 60 from 55 years of age.

Social Security Organisation (Socso) members aged 55 and above would be eligible for invalidity pension, in line with the minimum retirement age of 60 from next year onwards.
- Source

As to the EPF withdrawal for people reaching 55 years, the Government will not make any amendment at this point in time to EPF withdrawal at age 55 even though the retirement age for private sector employees is extended to 60 years old. Refer to letter below from General Manager, Public Relations of the Employee Provident Fund.

THE Employees Provident Fund (EPF) refers to the letter titled “Let EPF contributors withdraw all funds at 55” (The Star, June 26).

The EPF is a retirement savings scheme designed for employees to ensure that they have sufficient savings for their old age. To ensure that each employee who retires at the age of 60 has enough funds to sustain them during their retirement years, certain provisions in the EPF Act 1991 and related regulations should be amended accordingly when the retirement age is extended.

However, after taking into consideration members’ feedback, the Government will not make any amendment at this point in time to EPF withdrawal at age 55 even though the retirement age for private sector employees is extended to 60 years old.

As Malaysia’s premier retirement savings fund, the members’ welfare remains our top priority and whatever decision we make will always have their best interest at heart.

General Manager, Public Relations
Employees Provident Fund

Source: The Star..EPF withdrawal stays at 55

Related articles:
- Full EPF Withdrawal at 60
- EPF hassle-free withdrawal new ruling for MyKad holders

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

RON97 petrol price reduced by 20sen to RM2.60 from July 5 2012

From The Star..
The pump price of RON97 petrol will be reduced by 20sen to RM2.60 per litre from Thursday (July 5). Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said in a statement that the reduction was due in line with the drop in the average global oil price.

The government had on June 7 lowered the price of RON97 petrol by 10sen to RM2.80 a litre.

The retail price of RON97 petrol is determined by a 'managed float' in which the price will be changed according to the market.

Petrol price of RON95 remains at RM1.90 a litre while diesel is at RM1.80 a litre.

Source: The Star..RON97 petrol price reduced by 20sen

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Clouded leopard caught on camera in Borneo

The Star reported that the clouded leopard, which is the biggest cat in the Borneo jungles, was captured by a camera trap set up by Cardiff University student, Penny Gardner. Ms Gardner was doing a study on wild cattle known as banteng or tembadau.

The rare shot of the elusive cat was caught on camera on June 22. The camera was set up next to a logging road in the Malua forest area close to the well-known Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu.

The clouded leopard population on Borneo island is estimated to be around 5,000.

For more pictures, visit the Danau Girang Field Centre’s Facebook page, where other wild animals including the bearded pig, Borneo pygmy elephant, crested fireback bird and orang utan in the wild around the Malua forest have also been uploaded.

Source: The Star..Clouded leopard caught on camera in Sabah forest

Monday, July 02, 2012

The People have a say on new laws from now

Government departments and agencies must now seek public opinion before proposing draft amendments to existing laws or introducing new Bills.

The mandatory requirement covers local council by-laws, policies and regulations by ministries and statutory bodies, irrespective of whether the laws needed to be tabled in Parliament.

Proposed changes to laws pertaining to national security and sovereignty of the country, however, are exempt from the requisite.

More: The Star..Rakyat have a say on new laws from now

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Malaysia's latest Heritage Site - Lenggong Valley

Malaysia has a new World Heritage Site when word was received from Unesco recognising the Lenggong Valley in Perak as a World Heritage Site.

Information Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim said that Unesco informed the government on Friday.

Unesco recognised Leggong following the completion of archeological excavation at the site that established that complete skeletons of Perak Man is more than 11,000 years old.

Unesco had earlier recognised George Town and Malacca as World Heritage Cities and Niah Caves in Sarawak and Mount Kinabalu in Sabah.

Lenggong Valley in upper Perak is where the earliest human skeletal remains in the peninsula, the 11,000 year-old Perak man, was found in 1991.

Source: The Star..Lenggong Valley, Perak, gets World Heritage Site status

IRB: No paying tax with credit card

Inland Revenue Board says No paying tax with credit card (yet).

The public will not be able to pay income tax with credit cards for now as the Finance Ministry has rejected the proposal to allow such a move.

According to IRB, this is because the ministry does not want people to take up a loan to pay off another debt.

Suggestions from the public are still pouring in via letters, email, feedback from seminars, urging the Government to allow taxes to be paid using credit cards.

More: The Star..No paying tax with credit card

Saturday, June 30, 2012

From July 1, food outlets without Jakim halal logo risk fine, jail

From The Star..

KUALA LUMPUR: Starting July 1, all food outlet operators who are still using and displaying halal logo not issued by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) or State Religious Council (MAIN), will be liable to a fine and imprisonment.

Jakim director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha said a corporate organisation still using the halal logo from other sources could be fined with an amount not exceeding RM200,000 for the first offence and not exceeding RM500,000 for the second or subsequent offence.

For a non-organisation, a fine not exceeding RM100,000 or a maximum jail term of three years, or both, can be imposed upon conviction, he said in a statement here Friday.

He said for a second or subsequent offence, they could be fined an amount not exceeding RM250,000 or maximum jail term of five years, or both, upon conviction.

"Starting Sunday, Jakim will not hesitate to take action against food outlets and premises which do not have Jakim or MAIN halal logo," he said.

Othman also reminded the food outlet operators that the usage of halal logo or words like 'ditanggung halal' (halal assured), 'Muslim food', 'Ramadan buffet', as well as symbols that could confuse the Muslims, was prohibited as stipulated under the Trade Descriptions (Definition of Halal) Order 2011, which had taken effect since Jan 1, this year.

He also called on members of the public with information about the abuse of halal logo to lodge a report to Jakim to enable further action be taken. - Bernama

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Raise in traffic fines

Vehicle-drivers may want to take note of the amendment to the Road Transport Act 1987 that was tabled for first reading at the Dewan Rakyat on Monday.

From The Star:

The maximum fines for three traffic offences were proposed to be increased because such violations caused many road deaths, said the Road Transport Department (JPJ).

JPJ deputy director-general Datuk Ismail Ahmad said Tuesday the three traffic offences - driving without a licence, exceeding the speed limit and ignoring traffic signals - also resulted in many cases of injuries and damage to public property.

The traffic violations were compoundable. The offender can either pay the compound or go to court. If he chooses to pay the compound, the total fine cannot be above RM300, according to Datuk Ismail.

He added that the payment of the compound was based on the principle of "the more you delay, the more you pay."

"For example, if a person does not display his vehicle registration number according to requirements, he only spends RM100 if he pays within 15 days after the summons is issued. If he pays within 15 to 30 days, then he needs to fork out RM150," Ismail said.

By encouraging traffic offenders to pay compounds, Ismail said the congestion and backlog of cases in court can be reduced.

Source: JPJ: Increase in fines proposed as violations caused many road deaths

Related articles:
- Proposal to double maximum fine to RM2,000 for those who drive without licence
- Kong: RM2,000 fine for traffic offence not excessive

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Plenitude Penang International Dragon Boat Festival 2012

If you happen to be visiting Penang this weekend, an event not to be missed is the annual Dragon Boat Festival at Teluk Bahang Dam from 9am to 6pm. Yes, this popular and exciting event, The Plenitude Penang International Dragon Boat Festival, is back again in Penang, for the 33rd time.

Scheduled for June 30 and July 1, this year's event will see 14 international teams competing. Teams from South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Thailand, Philippines and New Zealand have confirmed their participation, as well as 13 Malaysian teams.

The public is welcome to witness the race at the beautiful Teluk Bahang Dam.

As for public transportation, Rapid Penang busses travelling to Batu Feringgi will extend their route up to the dam from 8.00am to 6.00pm during these two days.

If you are visiting, no worry about food as you will be able to purchase meals at the site using food-coupons which will be sold by the organiser during the event. A purchase of a minimum of RM10 worth of coupons will entitle you to enter in the lucky draw and stand you a chance to win a Grand Prize of a cruise to Phuket worth RM 4500, hotel stays, 50 Swork sunglasses worth RM799 and other great prizes!

That's not all. In conjunction with the festival, a photography competition will also be held for shutterbugs. Those with the best photos of the race will be awarded RM800 for first prize, RM500 for second prize and RM300 for third prize. Photo submission date is to be by 15 July 2012.

A workshop will be held for participants of the race on 29 June, from 10am to 6pm at Tanjung Bungah Beach Hotel and later at Teluk Bahang Dam. An expert coach from The Philippines will be conducting the workshop covering rowing techniques, followed by a Water Safety Awareness Course by a qualified trainer. Each participant team can send two representatives to the workshop.

Source: The Star..Bill tabled to make it compulsory for franchisors to register business

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bill tabled to make it compulsory for franchisors to register business

If you are a franchisor in Malaysia, this one is for you.

From The Star:

KUALA LUMPUR: An amendment to the Franchise Act 1998 was tabled to make it a requirement for franchisors to register their businesses before they can operate.

This move was proposed in the Franchise (Amendment) Bill 2012, tabled for the first reading by Deputy Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Rohani Abdul Karim (BN - Batang Lupar) at the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday.

Currently, the Act does not state that franchisors must register their business with the Registrar of Franchises before they can start operations.

It only states that franchisors must register their franchise with the Registrar before he can make an offer to sell the franchise to any person.

Continue reading..Bill tabled to make it compulsory for franchisors to register business

Air Asia X flights from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing

There is no denying that with Air Asia coming into the picture, Malaysians and Asean folk alike travel a lot more. Holiday travel has escalated to a whole new level with the advent of cheap tickets and increased flight frequencies.

For instance, flying to Beijing is now so convenient, Asia Asia X flies to Beijing four times a week from Kuala Lumpur and soon there will be daily flights as announced by Air Asia X CEO, Azran Osman Rani.

AirAsia Group CEO, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, announced recently the setting up of the airlines’s regional operations in Jakarta to help solidify the low-cost carrier’s position as an Asean airline in its future dealings with China, according to Azran.

Indonesia and China are two very huge markets with a 600 million and 1.3 billion population, respectively.

Source: The Star..CEO: AirAsia X made right move in stopping KL-Tianjin route

Monday, June 25, 2012

Companies to get 100% tax rebate on expenses for holding Family Day events

Good news for private sector companies which hold Family Day gatherings and events.

From The Star..

KUALA LUMPUR: Private sector companies will get a 100% tax rebate on expenses to hold their 1Malaysia Family Day celebrations in conjunction with the national-level celebration in November this year, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Najib, who assumed the responsibility of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry in April, made the announcement in Parliament Monday, saying this was part of the ministry's move to further strengthen the family institution.

"I am glad to announce that November has been fixed for the national-level 1Malaysia Family Day celebration this year.

"Private companies that hold events to mark the celebrations would be given 100% rebate on expenses incurred to organise their respective events," he said, when answering a question raised by Zuraida Kamaruddin (PKR-Ampang) in Parliament.

Friday, June 22, 2012

No change to EPF withdrawal rule in new retirement age Bill

Employees are still eligible to withdraw all their EPF savings upon turning 55 as the current rule is still in place.

Human Resources Minister, Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, said no change had been made to that rule under the Minimum Retirement Age Bill tabled in Parliament last week.

The Minimum Retirement Age Bill raises the minimum retirement age for the private sector to 60 years, but the move has caused concern among contributors that the withdrawal age will similarly be raised.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lynas, rare earth plant, awarded temporary licence

Source: The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The Parliamentary Select Committee on the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant has given its approval for the company to be awarded a temporary operating licence (TOL) after finding that it has met all the requirements.

At the same time, the PSC made 31 recommendations that are concerned with the safe and transparent running of the plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

Continue reading The Star..Lynas plant gets green light

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Haze situation in Malaysia - June 17

Red balloon: A boy playing in the late after noon with the sun clearly seen as a red ball near Sungai Buloh on Friday - The Star.

Read about Haze situation in Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia - June 17

Friday, June 15, 2012

Malaysia allows qualifications of 820 institutes from China

Certainly a step in the right direction as currently, Malaysia does not recognise academic qualifications from institutions of higher learning in China..

The Star reported that:

The Government has agreed to recognise the academic qualifications of 820 institutions of higher learning in China.

Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung said the decision was based on the Malaysia-China Mutual Agreement inked last April 28.

He said under the agreement, Malaysia has submitted a list of 64 institutions for recognition by the Chinese government.

Haze is back in Malaysia

The haze is back over the city of Kuala Lumpur and surrounding areas. Many parts of Peninsula Malaysia are also recording unhealthy air quality.

The picture you see here is one of Klang town, a town some 32km west of Kuala Lumpur. Currently, Kuala Lumpur is also shrouded in haze but on a clear day, the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur would be a sight to behold.

More on The Haze is back in Kuala Lumpur - unhealthy air quality

Image source: The Star

KL among top five cheapest cities to visit

The iconic Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur

If you are a foreigner and planning to travel to Malaysia, have I got good news for you.

According to TripAdvisor's latest edition of its TripIndex published on Wednesday, Kuala Lumpur is among the top five cheapest cities in the world to visit.

A night out in the Malaysian capital that includes a four-star hotel room, taxi fare, a cocktail and dinner will set you back US$194.43 on average.

TripIndex found Hanoi ($84.89) to be the most affordable city, followed by Beijing ($159.05) and Bangkok ($161.90).

Budapest is the cheapest European destination on the list, where a night out in the Hungarian capital will set you back $193.78 on average, making it slightly cheaper Kuala Lumpur.

The TripIndex compares the price of a night out in the most popular tourist destinations around the world for the summer of 2012.

The average costs mentioned cover two cocktails, dinner for two at a restaurant, taxi fares and a night for two at a hotel.

European cities are the most expensive, with London coming in at $500 ($361.64 for accommodation and $82.61 for dinner), followed by Norwegian capital Oslo ($499.91), Zurich in Switzerland ($485.82) and Paris.

A night out in Paris, which this week MasterCard forecast as the second most popular city for tourists in the world after London, costs a total of $480.76, broken down in the following way: tourists shell out $306.71 on average for a room in a four-star hotel, $15.06 for a taxi fare (for a 1.8 mile ride), $57.44 for a cocktail for two in the bar of a five-star hotel and $101.55 for dinner (two main courses and one bottle of wine).

In North America, popular tourist destination New York is the most expensive city and sixth most expensive on the overall list at $456.50 ($341.63 for accommodation, $15 for a cab ride, $32 for two cocktails and $67.87 for dinner), while Las Vegas offers the best value at a total cost of $263.

Source: The Star..KL among top five cheapest cities to visit

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Minimum Retirement age Bill tabled for first reading

The Minimum Retirement Age Bill was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday paving the way for private sector employees to retire at the age of 60.

The Bill does not apply to employees under probation, foreigners, domestic servants or those who have already retired at 55 and are subsequently re-employed.

The Bill allows for punishment of employers who “prematurely retire” an employee before 60 with a fine of up to RM10,000.

The Bill also allows the Labour Department director-general to probe into complaints of “premature retirement” by staff and direct for reinstatement and compensation.

The order will be enforced six months after the date of gazette for private sector employees.

Source: The Star..Retirement age Bill tabled for first reading

Related article:
Donald Lim: EPF looking into concerns of those near retirement

Discount cards for foreign tourists

Good news for foreign tourists. Read on..

From The Star:

The Tourism Ministry, in collaboration with the Bukit Bintang-KLCC Tourism Association, is introducing a discount shopping card for foreign tourists in conjunction with the 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival 2012 kicking off from tomorrow, June 15 for 7 whole weeks ending on Sept 2.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said they would need to show their passports at the customer service counter of participating shopping centres to obtain the discount cards which are valid for one week.

"If they stay longer than a week, they can renew the card to continue enjoying the discount facilities," she told reporters after launching the shopping carnival here Thursday.

Discounts are being offered at leading shopping malls like Lot 10, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Sungei Wang Plaza and others.

Earlier, in her speech, Ng said that airlines should increase the frequency of flights to Malaysia to enable more tourists to take advantage of the shopping carnival. - Bernama

While in Kuala Lumpur, you will want to shop at the Pavilion, one of KL's popular shopping complexes. Here is how the Pavilion Tourist Reward Card looks like:

How to apply?
Just head over to the Concierge Desk on Level 3 with your passport to apply.

Similar Tourist Reward Cards can be obtained from the respective mall's concierge. Your passport is required for application.

Illegal hobby

In Malaysia, it is illegal to make air rifles, even as a hobby.

A man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for making air rifles as a hobby. The air rifles sold for RM300 each are being used for hunting wild fowls.

The High Court judge told him that he was lucky not to receive the death sentence under the Firearms Act 1960.

Justice Mohd Sofian told the accused: "You said this is merely a hobby but this is a dangerous one. If you do get a royal pardon, don't do this again.

"Now that you are going to jail, do learn appropriate skills like shoe-making or sewing. Repent, and accept your takdir (fate)."

Source: The Star..Making air rifles as hobby lands trader in jail for life

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Attraction in Malaysia - Pandas from China

Very soon, Malaysians will get to see pandas in real life following an agreement to be signed between Malaysia and China Wildlife Conservation Association, in commemoration of the countries' 40th anniversary of diplomatic relationship. The agreement will be signed on June 15.

The pandas will be placed in a special exhibit in Taman Wetland, Putrajaya. Malaysians will also get the chance to name the pandas in a nationwide contest.

China news reports in April reported that Malaysia would spend a whopping RM20mil for the upkeep of the pandas.

The budget is expected to cover the construction of an air-conditioned sanctuary for the pandas, importing bamboos from China for their meals as well to train local handlers for the animals.

Source: The Star..Giant Pandas for Malaysia

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Rare strong waves hit Penang, Kedah

Also read:
2013, June 14 - Penang freak storm havoc

It was reported that a rare occasion of strong waves with heights up to 3.5m hit the west coast of Penang and Kedah since 1pm Wednesday.

In Penang, not less than 11 houses in Kampung Tsunami Tanjung Bungah, here were reportedly inundated with sea water.

A man watches the waves at Esplanade in Penang - The Star

In Kedah, checks found that most of the fishermen in Kuala Kedah were unable to go to sea the last two days due to the phenomenon worried that the big waves would do damage to their boats.

According to Director of the Forecast Centre of the Meteorology Department, Muhammad Helmi Abdullah, he said the incident was a normal phenomenon and due to the shift of the northeast monsoon winds to southwest winds since May 4.

He said wind speed of up to 50 knots was expected to last until Friday.

Source: Rare strong waves hit Penang, Kedah
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