Monday, January 14, 2008


Hotel with integrated theme park planned for KK

The company that established the newly-opened KK Box entertainment outlet at Karamunsing Complex here is planning to open up a hotel with an integrated theme park here.
Rashid Hj Kayum Khan, group.director of Kuala Lumpur-based Total Metro Group, said they are currently in discussion with the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry to build the ambitious project.
“We believe the tourism potential here is very great. We are still in discussion with the ministry. Once that is settled I think together we will start building this hotel in one year,” he said at a press conference after the official opening of KK Box by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun yesterday.
Rashid, however, declined to reveal the location or the projected budget for the project, citing ‘strategic” considerations.
He noted that the Group is also planning to open up two new hotels in the city to cater to the growing number of tourist arrivals here.
“We have great confidence in the tourism industry here because the ministry has shown that it is very keen (to develop the industry),” he said.
Masidi said that there is a ready market in Kota Kinabalu to support more entertainment outlets, on top of the spending power of the growing number of foreign tourists.
“We have a large number in Kota Kinabalu that can afford to patronise entertainment outlets.
“More often then not, you have people going out to places like Kuala Lumpur to patronise entertainment outlets, but if we can provide these services in Kota Kinabalu I don’t see why they have to go out of the city,” he said.
Rashid meanwhile said that the Group expects to be able to recover its RM3.8 million investment in the KK Box outlet within six months.
“We initially set the target to recover our cost within eight months, but from the looks of things we may be able to do that in just six months.
“Prior to the official opening we had our soft opening and over the three weeks our earnings have been beyond our expectations, so we are quite confident,” he said.
Rashid said that their target demographic breakdown would include 40 percent foreign tourists and 60 percent local patrons.


KK needs more entertainment outlets: Masidi


There is a need for more entertainment outlets in the city to cater for the niche markets, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun. He said such developments would be in line with the State’s direction in developing a tourism industry centered on high-yield and quality tourists.
“We need outlets for the niche market here which includes the well- heeled, especially foreign tourists and also families,” he said at a press conference after the official opening of the KK Box karaoke outlet at Karamunsing Complex here yesterday.
Masidi said that entertainment outlets such as the RM3. 8 million KK Box are necessary to generate more interest among high-quality tourists, particularly from richer Asian countries, to visit Sabah. He said in 2007, the State attracted about 750,000 high-yield tourists or 30 percent of the 2.3 million tourist arrivals.
Masidi noted that among the target tourists include those from cities in South China, Korea, Japan and neighbouring Brunei Darussalam, besides domestic tourists from Peninsular Malaysia. He added that his ministry and the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) would also launch aggressive tourism promotions to other high-yield tourist markets, including Australia and possibly Russia. “I have already had preliminary talks with the chief executive officer of Aseana Airlines to work out a route where Russians can visit here as a destination via a transit between the western region of Russia through Korea and Sabah.
“We are marketing the State as one of the value for money stopover destinations in the region. “I must emphasize on the need to bring in quality tourists because the spillover from the tourism industry depends on the sort of tourists visiting Sabah.
“The Japanese for example are noted for having deep pockets, and I believe they find in Kota Kinabalu that they can spend money without feeling insecure because it is very safe to visit here. “We have possibly the best multiracial population in the world and this only adds value to the natural beauty that we have in Sabah. Currently tourists spend between five and eight days here on average, but we hope to extend that to 10 days,” he said.
On the shortage of hotel rooms in Sabah, Masidi said it is a perennial problem that the State Government is happy to have. “We have been experiencing double digit growth (in tourist arrivals) over the past few years and just for the first 10 months of last year, our growth was at 26.6 percent. “This brings about a situation where we can never have 100 percent availability of rooms, but we want to keep it that way because we need to maintain occupancy of at least 70 percent throughout the year.
“The whole idea is to have everyone benefit from the industry,” he said, while noting that the State Government is encouraging the development of resort-type hotels to keep in line with the development of the State’s tourism industry.


Ex-Melaka CM pursuing second PhD at UMS

Age is not a barrier to getting an education and former Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Tamby Chik can attest to that. The former Melaka Chief Minister is among 192 postgraduate students of University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) for the semester two session 2007/2008. “Although I am now 57 and already have a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), I still have the yearning to study and achieve more,” Rahim said when interviewed after the registration which was held at the Centre for Postgraduates Studies, School of Arts Building in UMS yesterday. “I have other responsibilities as a member of the Umno Supreme Council and the chairman of Gagasan Ekonomi Melayu Seluruh Malaysia but getting an education is very important. This is important for a leader nowdays and the younger genaration must ensure the culture of getting an education be continued from time to time,” said Rahim who would be doing a research on the development of politics in Malaysia while pursuing his second PhD part time at the university. According to him, he finished his first PhD at the University of the Philippines in 1997 with the research title, “Asian Financial Crises, Malaysia as a Reference”. When asked why he chose UMS to pursue the second PhD, Rahim said it is a good step for national integration even though there are many universities in Kuala Lumpur. Rahim added the quality of the university is the same with the other universities in Malaysia. “It (UMS) can provide academic excellence which is competitive with any university in the country,” said Rahim. Yusuf b Wahid, 38, from Tawau, who is also pursuing his PhD, said there is no limit in obtaining an education. “Knowledge must be obtained continuously as long as we could afford it,” Yusuf said, adding the university has the same standard as the other universities in Malaysia and outside.the country and that is why he is doing his PhD here. For Richard Nelson Sokial who will be doing Masters by research under the Tourism Department at the university’s School of Business, his interest in searching and documentating Sabah’s heritage architecture has made him take up the UMS postgraduate programme. “I was recommended to take the course by lecturers in UMS who felt that my work has an academic merit and value for society,” Richard said when asked what encouraged him to take up the course. He added based on observation or experience, heritage architecture can only be viable in Sabah and it can benefit locals from an economic standpoint. “However in Sabah, we are still lacking in good ideas, strong policies and implementation in regards to architecture heritage conservation. In fact, not many people are well versed in the said field in Sabah,” said Richard, adding that his aim is to continue his research work through UMS and he hoped that his findings could help to suggest guidelines and policies for Sabah’s heritage architecture that will benefit the local tourism industry. According to him, his book, ‘Native Architecture of Sabah’s West Coast,” which was written based on a study of six traditional native houses, will be coming out soon. He added the study grant was awarded by the Tun Fuad Foundation in 2005. Meanwhile, Deputy Dean (Academic & International) of Centre for Postgraduate Studies Dr Zaleha Aziz said that they expected a total of 273 postgraduate students to register for the Master and PhD at 12 schools and three research institutes. Registration for Master or PhD by research is still open for four weeks while for those who are doing Master by course, they have until next week to register. Of the 273 postgraduate students, 19 are taking PhD. “Six foreign students namely two from Indonesia, two from China and one each from Nigeria and Egypt will also register as postgraduate students here,” Zaleha said. She added the two students from Indonesia had already registered for Master and PhD respectively yesterday. Out of the 192 postgraduate students who registered yesterday, 182 are doing Master and 10 PhD.


Gaya Street Sunday Fair still attract crowds


The Gaya Street Sunday Fair has not lost its appeal despite being held for about 20 years and in fact, it is still attracting visitors from far and near. Every Sunday, visitors will start coming to the Sunday market as early as 6am to get the best bargains and products. An array of food, drinks, handicrafts and even pets can be found at the weekly market, which is a must for foreign tourists visiting Sabah. Those who have the cravings for traditional food and cakes will not be disappointed as a variety of Malay and Chinese favourites can be found at the Gaya Street fair, and visitors will be spoilt for choice. Sariah Sulaiman, 25, who has been selling ‘kerepek’ at the Gaya Street fair for 12 years, said the homemade local favourites are made by her family in Nabawan and they make the weekly trip to the state capital to do business at the street fair. Hamrah Hassan, 28, from Pekan Nabalu near Kundasang also makes a weekly trip to the state capital for the last 10 years to sell his fruit products, including the popular highland pineapples from the area. Lovers of Tenom coffee can be seen converging around a stall which offers the aromatic local coffee, grounded right in front of their eyes. For those with a sweet tooth, they can satisfy their craving at the stall selling cotton candy which is popular among children and youngsters. According to a student from Sarawak, Mohammad Nuruhisyam Mahdi, 22, he visits the Gaya Street fair frequently to look for bargains for jewellery, especially those made with pearls. “I’m looking for something special to present to my mother when I go back home,” said Mohammad Nuruhisyam who is studying at a higher learning institute here.


Tawau urgently needs new CIQ jetty Complex, MP

Tawau Member of Parliament Shim Paw Fatt has called on the State Government to seriously consider constructing a new Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex and a new jetty for Tawau.
This is because the existing ones could no longer cater to the tremendous increase in volume of foreigners, both tourists and labourers, coming into Tawau by sea.
In a statement issued here yesterday, Shim highlighted that Tawau is the gateway for people from East Kalimantan to Sabah and other parts of Malaysia.
"At the moment, not less than six ferries come from Nunukan and Tarakan, Indonesia bringing in more than 1,000 people daily. The number of persons going out is roughly the same.
"The tiny jetty could only accommodate two boats alongside at any one time and those coming in later have to berth alongside others so that their passengers are compelled to hop on and hop off in order to get to the jetty. The safety of the passengers is thus compromised.
"Long queue occurs every day for hours before their travelling documents are processed. This has caused enormous dissatisfaction to the passengers particularly the tourists.
"Over the years, I have had the opportunity to visit many towns in East Kalimantan and while there I was confronted by the community of the shabby treatments they received in Tawau. I was immensely embarrassed," he elaborated.
Shim revealed that he had in fact since 2000 appealed to the authorities concerned, the Minister of
Home Affairs in particular, fora new CIQ
Complex and a new jetty in order to accommodate the ever-increasing traffic.
But so far, he had only succeeded in getting
an allocation of RM200,000 which was used to
expand the immigration office to expedite the
procession of documents.
"Despite this, the congestion remains," he
Then in 2006, the Federal Government announced a plan to build a new CIQ Complex at a budget of RM40 million.
Unfortunately, the site at Sungai Imam proposed by the State Government was found to be unsuitable owing to its distance to Tawau town and the lack of infrastructure."I have made a number of appeals to the saidMinistry to build the complex at the present site orits immediate neighbourhood where there are amplespace. To my surprise, the Ministry in reply to myquestion in Parliament last year said that the project has been taken offthe Ninth Malaysia Plan. The task is givento the State Government as it is more appropriate for Sabahto undertake the project as the complex would be used morefor commercial activities and port operation," he revealed.
He then pointed out that the construction of a new CIQ Complex and a jetty for Tawau is both timely and significant in view of the various developments currently taking place in the region.
He cited for example, due to its proximity to Tawau, the opening up of millions of hectares of oil palm plantations in East Kalimantan will considerably boost the business volume in Tawau many folds from the present estimated RM10 millions of monthly transaction.
"The economic spin-offwffl be tremendous. It is therefore imperative for us to upgrade our facilities in order to reap the maximum benefit. Needless to say, a lot of business will be lost if the facilities remain as they are," he pointed out.
He added that if implemented, the project will also augur well
wefor the implementation of the Sabah Development Corridor which will be launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Abdullah Badawi on 29th of this month.


Chong vows to continue to serve Sandakan people


The independent Member of Parliament for Sandakan, Chong Hon Min, has vowed to continue to do his utmost best for the people here. The elected representative who defeated incumbent Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Datuk Lau Ngan Siew in the 2004 election, said his priority now is to continue serving his constituents. “The general election is still far off and I’m not thinking about it. I want to focus on ensuring the plight of the people in Sandakan is heard,” he said. Chong also stressed that even though he contested as an independent candidate in the previous election, his unwavering support is still with the BN. “I will continue to support the BN to ensure continued development in the area for the people,” he said, adding that he had applied to join the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) which is a component of BN on April 17, 2006 but had yet to receive any favourable reply. His intention to join BN has been made known to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, he said and pointed out that the BN Government has the best policies for the people. Chong also disclosed that in the past four years as the Sandakan MP, he had forwarded many of the identified problems in the constituency to the Government.
“The problems in the constituency which I brought up were also acknowledged by other elected representatives, especially from among the BN backbenchers in Parliament,” he said. Among the problems which have been given attention by the Government are on water supply to the district and frequent electricity disruption, he said, adding that he had also raised the problems concerning the presence of illegal immigrants in the district as well as the rampant electricity theft.
BN continues to guarantee religious freedom: Max

The Barisan Nasional (BN) Government will continue to preserve and guarantee freedom to practise one’s religion as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili who said this, pointed out that with regard to the use of “Allah” by non-Muslim religions, the matter was not new and was first decided by the Cabinet and the Conference of Rulers in 1986. “Nevertheless, through consultations between representatives of the various religions and the BN leadership, an amicable solution was reached. “Hence, it was never a real constraint to religious practice by churches in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said in his speech at the Christmas and New year celebrations hosted by Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS)’s Kiulu division in Kampung Pukak yesterday. Ongkili said problems did arise from time to time because of overzealous officers taking action on the importation and publication of Christian materials due to unclear guidelines. “As minister overseeing national unity, I am of the opinion that the spirit of consultation and moderation practised by both the churches and the BN Government should prevail as a basic approach to managing religious relations in Malaysia. “A confrontational approach through legal means or otherwise should be avoided at all times because of the long-term negative impact on all sides,” he said. Meanwhile, Ongkili urged the people in Kiulu to rally behind the BN in the coming general election to ensure continued development and prosperity in the state. - Bernama