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Old March 24th, 2012, 03:51 PM   #141
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Pen-drive creator setting up shop in Malaysia
By Risen Jayaseelan, The Star
March 10, 2012

PETALING JAYA: Pua Khein-Seng, the 38-year-old Malaysian entrepreneur who invented the pen drive and runs Taiwan-listed Phison Electronics Corp, is setting up a Malaysian branch of his business that will work closely with Silterra Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Malaysia's premier wafer fabrication plant in Kulim, reliable sources said.
Pua, often cited as Malaysia's biggest overseas technopreneur, will likely set up the plant in Penang and “bring back” some of the Malaysian engineers working in Taiwan's Phison plant. The amount of investment isn't clear although it could run into the tens of millions of ringgit due to the high cost of integrated circuit (IC) design equipment and software.

Pua is likely to set up the plant in Penang and ‘bring back’ some of the Malaysian engineers working in the Phison plant.

Phison designs ICs for use in data storage devices. In 2001, Phison came up with the world's first USB (universal serial bus) “flash removable disk”, which Phison named the pen drive.
In a past interview with the Malaysian media, Pua had said the presence of successful IC design houses is a critical factor in the success of Silterra.
Sources said the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) had drawn up a list of attractive incentives for Pua to set up the IC design house in Malaysia.
Mida had sent a media invite yesterday evening for an event on Tuesday that will involve Pua “announcing the establishment of a new project in Malaysia and launching his new book titled Driven To Success at Mida.”
Pua is chairman of Phison Electronics and according to Bloomberg data, has a 2.55% stake in the company that has a market capitalisation of NT$47bil (RM4.8bil). It counts heavyweights such as Toshiba Corp, Kingston Technology, Vanguard Group Inc, Blackrock and Fidelity as its other shareholders. Toshiba and Kington are also its key customers.
Phison reported a pre-tax profit of NT$2.98bil (RM304mil) on revenue of NT$32.34bil (RM3.3bil) for 2011.
Pua, who was raised in Sekinchan, Selangor, moved to Taiwan in 1993 to study engineering and continued to live in the republic after graduation. He founded Phison with four university friends in 2000.

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Old March 24th, 2012, 11:07 PM   #142
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Bertam to be Cyber City 2
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BERTAM town in Kepala Batas will be developed as the second Penang Cyber City (PCC 2) by 2020, following the declaration of the Bayan Lepas/ Bayan Baru industrial hub as the state’s first cyber city back in 2005.

The PCC 2 would lead in research and development (R&D) activities, especially in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), provide world-class ICT infrastructure and be a catalyst for development in Kepala Batas.

According to the North Seberang Prai Local Plan 2020 Draft, the Kepala Batas-Bertam-Kubang Menerong enclave has also been identified as one of four development corridors as outlined in the Penang Structure Plan 2020.

The other three corridors are Butterworth-Bagan Ajam-Teluk Air Tawar (including Sungai Dua) enclave, Penaga-Kuala Muda enclave and Tasek Gelugor-Ara Kuda enclave.

Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is Kepala Batas MP, first declared the launch of Penang Cyber City (PCC 1) on Jan 29, 2005.

At that time, former Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon had said that the state government had plans to establish two more cyber cities by 2008, one in Bertam and another in Batu Kawan.

The Bertam township, which is home to a number of educational institutions and Federal Government offices and agencies, would also be developed as a special industrial centre, a semi-regional centre and as north Seberang Prai’s district administrative centre.

Apart from emerging as a Centre for Excellence in Higher Education, Bertam would also be home to a cluster of companies in the automotive industry and an integrated farming-cum-processing centre.

The draft says that more landed property is encouraged in the township compared to high-rise buildings according to the suitability of the land area there.

To further enhance public transportation in Bertam, an integrated monorail service has been proposed to connect Kepala Batas with Bagan Ajam, Butterworth, Sungai Dua and Tasek Gelugor.

The North Seberang Prai and Central Seberang Prai Local Plans 2020 Draft are currently on display for public viewing and feedback since March 15 till April 12.

The documents are available at the MPSP headquarters in Bandar Perda here, the north Seberang Prai and central Seberang Prai district offices and at the Town and Country Planning Department office on Level 57, Komtar, George Town.

The exhibition is open from 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday.

Visitors can buy copies of the local plan drafts, which are available in CD-ROM format, at RM10 each.

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Old March 26th, 2012, 07:13 PM   #143
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Asia's 10 greatest street food cities
Asia's 10 greatest street food citiesThe best street dishes from the top culinary centers in Asia -- and where to find them
By Lina Goldberg23 March, 2012
The food is one of the best things about the Asian continent. But do you know where to find its best street dishes?
Now you do. We’ve put together a collection of the best examples of street food from 10 of the greatest foodie cities in Asia, and also made some handy maps to show exactly where to get them.
While the nature of mobile street carts and movable market stalls means pinpointing every dish isn’t possible, we have shown which roads in each city are more than likely to have someone selling each food.
Start your Asian street food journey below, by clicking on a city.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 07:20 PM   #144
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To those in the know, Penang is one of the world's top dining destinations. And street food--or hawker food, as it's locally known--is the city's big draw. Penang hawker food reflects the multicultural makeup of the town itself, which boasts citizens of Chinese, Malay and Indian descent. You'll also find a distinct Nyonya cuisine in Penang, the fusion food that has resulted from the intermarriage of Chinese and Malay immigrants.

One thing that unites Penangites of all backgrounds is their love of good food. The streets of Penang are lined with hawker stalls, coffee shops and hawker centers where multiple vendors offer their specialties.

Penang’s personality in a bowl.
1. Penang assam laksa

Assam laksa is so closely associated with the city that it is often called Penang laksa. The fiercely contrasting flavors of this soup -- fishy mackerel, sour tamarind and fiery chili -- come together perfectly in assam laksa. It's served with chewy white noodles and garnished with fresh mint, shallots, cilantro, cucumbers and sweet pineapple. You can find assam laksa outside of Penang, of course, but it's never as sour and certainly never as delicious.

Try it at: Cecil Market Food Court, Lebuh Cecil, Penang

Chinese goes Malaysian.
2. Hokkien mee

It may have its roots in the Fujian province of China, but the Hokkien mee you'll find in Penang is deliciously different. The soup is a fragrant, fatty prawn-and-pork-bone-based broth served with a combination of chewy yellow egg noodles and thin, white rice vermicelli. Topped with hard-boiled egg, small prawns, fish balls, crispy fried shallots and spicy sambal, the dish is one of the few perfect breakfast foods in existence.

Try it at: Beach Street (between Magazine Road and Prangin Road Ghaut), Penang

All together now.
3. Wonton mee

You'll find variations of wanton mee, a dish of Chinese origin, all over Asia, but the one in Penang leaves them in the dust. Springy egg noodles are served al dente with a sticky sauce made from soy sauce and lard oil, with a spoonful of fiery sambal on the side. It's topped with pieces of leafy green Chinese kale, sliced green onions, pickled green chilies and wontons. The wontons are either boiled or steamed, as you'll find them elsewhere in Malaysia, or fried, in a unique Penang twist. If you prefer, you can also order wanton mee "wet," meaning the noodles are served in a rich broth.

Try it at: Lebuh Chulia (in front of furniture shop), Penang

Rich flavor for not-so-rich eaters.
4. Nasi kandar

Nasi kandar, a dish of Indian Muslim origin that’s now a Penang specialty, used to be peddled by men carrying containers full of rice and curry on poles balanced on their shoulders. Today it’s most often found in small restaurants that spill out onto the street. This richly spiced meal features various meat curries and gravy over white rice -- prawn curry is especially popular.

Try it at: Line Clear, Alley next to 177, Jalan Penang, Penang

Fruit salad, Penang-style.
5. Rojak

A dish that sounds unappetizing but tastes wonderful, rojak is a fruit salad with pieces of fried crullers and topped with a thick, sweet sauce made of black shrimp paste and crushed peanuts. Sweet pineapple, green mango and papaya, rose apples, jicama, cucumber and guava are tossed in to the dark sauce, which has the consistency of molasses. The combination of sweet fruit and savory seafood is confusing but surprisingly good.

Try it at: Gurney Drive Hawker Center, Persiaran Gurney, Penang

So tasty, you don’t even need the dipping sauces. But try 'em anyway.
6. Lor bak

A Nyonya dish that is a specialty of the Chinese of Penang, lor bak is minced pork that has been marinated in five-spice powder before being wrapped in soft bean curd skin and deep-fried. Lor bak is served with two dipping sauces, a spicy red chili sauce and a gravy thickened with cornstarch and beaten egg called lor.

Try it at: Jalan Johor (near Jalan Dato Keramat), Penang

More ingredients, more taste. Forget about the more calories.
7. Curry mee

Sometimes called curry laksa, curry mee is an amazing spicy coconut curry soup with yellow egg noodles and rice vermicelli. The soup is rich and a bit sweet; it's definitely not for calorie counters. Each bowl has at least a few of the following: chicken, tofu puffs, prawns, pork blood, cockles and cuttlefish. Garnished with fresh mint leaves and a spoonful of peppery sambal paste, curry mee is, at its best, transcendent.

Try it at: Lebuh Cintra between Lebuh Campbell and Lebuh Chulia, Penang

Even better when served on a banana leaf.
8. Char kway teow

A Penang specialty, char kway teow consists of long, flat rice noodles stir-fried in a hot wok with soy sauce, fresh prawns, cockles, scrambled egg, bean sprouts and green onions. The dish is commonly served on a banana leaf and is one of the most popular hawker dishes in town.

Try it at: Pulau Tikus Night Market, Jalan Pasar, Penang

Taste the adventure. And the ears, tongue and blood.
9. Koay chiap

This fragrant pork and duck soup is flavored with star anise and cinnamon and filled with the parts of the duck and pig that many prefer to avoid: ears, tongue, liver, intestines, blood. The rice and tapioca noodles, or koay chiap, are handmade and the soup is served with a hard-boiled egg, sliced green onions and spicy chili sauce. Usually served at night, this is a delicious dish that rewards the adventurous.

Try it at: Kimberley Street Duck Koay Chiap, Lebuh Kimberley, Penang

Beans and corn for dessert? Some might say.
10. Ice kacang

The perfect refreshment on a hot day, ice kacang is a shaved ice dessert topped with red bean, grass jelly, sweet corn and attap chee (palm fruit). Sugar syrups and condensed milk or coconut milk are then poured over the ice to sweeten the dish. A Penang variation on this Malaysian dessert is the punchy addition of shredded nutmeg, a native fruit.

Try it at: Gurney Drive Hawker Center, Persiaran Gurney, Penang
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Old March 27th, 2012, 06:19 PM   #145
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Tuesday March 27, 2012

Heritage at a crossroads

IN THE 1980s, when I’d go home to Penang once a year for the holidays, I would always visit my old amah, who was retired and ran her kongsi on Love Lane.

She would ask me in her characteristic, deadpan manner, “What are all these scruffy white people doing in my neighbourhood?”

This was obviously the start of the budget backpacker onslaught into that part of town and well-heeled Penangites began to avoid if they could.

Fast forward to 2012. The article “Skyrocketting Shophouses” by Johnni Wong in MetroBiz on March 21 says it all.

It may sound really strange and inexplicable that people would pay RM3mil to buy three derelict shophouses on Rope Walk and do it up with another RM10mil, but this phenomenon of young or not-so-young professionals moving back to “old towns” is actually quite common in many cities in Europe and even in the hutongs in old neighborhoods in Beijing.

So, as a true daughter of Penang, despite having left Malaysia some 40 years ago to work for the United Nations (UN) in Africa, Switzerland, Italy and the US, I feel excited and proud that this phenomenon is happening in good ol’ Penang.

I believe the root cause of this awakening is the fact that Unesco bestowed the honour of World Heritage Site on Penang in 2008. This status is a godsend in many ways.

Firstly, it provides George Town with breathing space and a sort of legal basis to stop the wanton destruction of many of its treasures with deep historical significance reflecting the many waves of migration, and yes, even the different periods of colonisation with its effects, both good and bad, which contributed to the rich and unique heritage of this Straits settlement.

Secondly, it became a wake-up call for Penang’s citizenry, rousing them from a sort of comfortable lull and apathy (chin-chai mentality), to one of cultural and environmental consciousness and pride. “Hey the world recognises us, the world actually sat up and noticed us! Wow we do have something unique to offer the world!”

And, thirdly, it had a spillover effect onto other parts of Penang, raising people’s consciousness on environmental and aesthetic issues ranging from the decrepit and horrible living conditions of the poor in Ayer Itam, for instance, to the overdevelopment of mega-complexes on hills, cliffs and beaches in Batu Ferringhi.

I do not want to be misunderstood. I am not against developers or development. We do not need to live in the past.

We do not have to romanticise the past to the point that time stands still nor, as a friend of mine put it referring to overzealous heritage types, should we “live like folks in the 18th century!”

Penang’s citizenry have the gift, and a reputation, of sometimes being overly frugal, but, at the same time, they are generous, enterprising and savvy.

Surely the heritage types and developers can rise above their differences to recognise the comparative advantages Penang has — a unique heritage history, the best food in the world, rich cultural diversity and beautiful hills and beaches.

Instead of an antagonistic relationship, developers and conservationists should have a grand alliance, exploiting our comparative advantages for the sake of the prosperity of our citizens through more and better tourism products.

Although Penang has been successful in attracting foreign direct investment and the creation of manufacturing jobs, we may no longer have the comparative advantage of cheap, quality labour with competition from the Indonesias, Vietnams and Myanmars of this world.

Tourism, on the other hand, will only grow as more countries become developed and rich and choose leisure and wanderlust over labour.

Sometimes tourism can wreak havoc on a country by affecting local mores. But quality tourism, the kind that comes from well-educated, history- and culture-loving tourists who can afford to spend more than a few days exploring the cultural wealth of a country, can prove to be a wonderful engine of growth.

But you need something to attract these quality tourists — and we have it all in Penang!

Four years after the Unesco recognition, we are, I believe, at a crossroads, one that will be painfully clear in hindsight.

We may find out too late that we took the wrong course. Penangites, we have a choice — we can have a bustling, prosperous planned city, with architecturally aesthetic buildings and charming heritage quarters or we can have a haphazardly put-together city, with a lot of the charm of its heritage replaced by random buildings, incongruously placed here and there.

In the Penang Heritage Trust, we have a group of dedicated, brilliant historians, culture experts and conservation activists.

Georgetown has an organisational structure dedicated to conservation matters.

We now need an umbrella organisation to bring together all stakeholders — conservationists, developers, businesses, the diaspora and interested citizens to create a sustained heritage movement for a good 10 years when it will hopefully put itself out of business because there will no longer be a need for such an organisation.

n Judy Cheng-Hopkins is the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support and has over 30 years experience in key UN organisations.

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Old March 28th, 2012, 08:40 PM   #146
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Wednesday March 28, 2012

Mainland boom

SEBERANG Prai, which has long been treated as a ‘stepchild’ in tourism promotions in Penang, will soon have new tourism products to give the mainland a major economic boost.

A host of tourist destinations and related activities have been identified for inclusion in the state’s tourism map.

According to the North Seberang Prai Local Plan 2020 Draft, an Archeo-Tourism Trail, Heritage Trail and Beach Recreation Trail would be developed in the district in the next eight years.

The Archeo-Tourism Trail would encompass an old fort at Kota Kuala Muda, an archaeology complex in Sungai Emas, the Langkasuka ruins in Kota Aur, an early archaeology site in Guar Kepah, a candi (temple) in Permatang Pasir, the Merdeka Bridge-cum-fort in Bumbung Lima and a border cornerstone in Ekor Kucing.

The Heritage Trail would start from the Butterworth railway station through the Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal, a traditional blacksmith shop in Permatang Benuan, the Capal Jago chapal maker’s shop in Kepala Batas and ends at the whispering market in the Kuala Muda fishing village.

The Beach Recreation Trail would cover the Pantai Bersih beach, Bagan Ajam beach, Pantai Teluk Molek (Robina Park) beach, Teluk Air Tawar recreation park, Kuala Bekah beach, Pantai Penaga, Sungai Muda sanctuary park, Pantai Kamloon recreation park, Bertam Vision Park, Padang Cempedak recreation park and Air Hitam Dalam recreation park.

Over in central Seberang Prai, several tourism products have been outlined in the Central Seberang Prai Local Plan 2020 Draft.

In Seberang Jaya, there are proposals to upgrade the Penang Bird Park and the Seberang Jaya expo site apart from preserving heritage buildings in Kg Dock.

A rural homestay project has been proposed in Sama Gagah, Permatang Pauh, while an education-based tourism with MICE facilities would be promoted in Jalan Permatang Batu, Prai.

Juru would feature the Kg Sungai Semilang-Dataran Semilang-Pulau Aman-Pulau Gedung tourism trail, homestay programmes in Kampung Juru, recreational activities at the Bukit Juru recreational forest and visits to the Permanent Food Production Park.

Juru would also see the preservation of Masjid Lama Kampung Bukit Kechil, the upgrading of facilities at the Dataran Semilang seafood restaurants and the construction of a tourism-based neighbourhood centre in Kampung Bagan Nyior.

Facilities at the Highway Auto-City Juru commercial centre would also be upgraded.

In Kubang Semang, Penanti, an old musalla (surau) would be preserved, while the Madrasah Manabi’ululum Kubang Ulu would be upgraded to an international centre for Islamic studies.

The homestay programmes in the Mengkuang Titi traditional village and Kampung Kubang Semang would also be further enhanced.

Eco-tourism facilities would be intensified at the Mengkuang Dam, while the Cherok Tok Kun recreation forest park would be upgraded with more infrastructure facilities.

Bukit Mertajam town would be generally promoted as a shopping haven, while the old buildings there would be retained for aesthetic and heritage value.

The people can view both local plan drafts which are currently on public display, since March 15, until April 12.

They are available at the MPSP headquarters in Bandar Perda, Bukit Mertajam, the north and central Seberang Prai district offices, and the Town and Country Planning Department office at Level 57, Komtar, in George Town.

The exhibition is open from 9am to 5pm on Mondays to Fridays.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 08:53 PM   #147
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Wednesday March 28, 2012

Toy libraries for Nibong Tebal

TWO toy libraries opened their doors to children in the neighbourhood of Sungai Valdor, Nibong Tebal.

One is located in the Valdor Village Library while the other is in the Tadika Kampung Valdor.

Penang Toy Stories project chairman Dr Sim Joo Seng said there are now 14 toy libraries in the state with the opening of the two new libraries in Sungai Valdor.

“Besides helping develop a child’s motor skills, these toy libraries also create integration among the children of different races when they play together,” he said after the opening ceremony of the libraries at the SJK Kampung Valdor in Nibong Tebal on Sunday.

Dr Sim also said it is better to have such libraries located in neighbourhoods where children can learn to play together.

Kiddie rides: Children having fun at Kampung Valdor Toy Library in Sungai Bakap, Nibong Tebal
Also present were Penang Agriculture, Agro-based Industry, Rural Development and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Law Choo Kiang who is also Bukit Tambun assemblyman, and Pulau Tikus assemblyman Koay Teng Hai.

Law described the siting of toy libraries in rural areas as “meaningful because most children in the rural areas do not have enough toys to play with.

“These toys will stimulate the minds of these young children to be creative,” he said.

Methodist Boys’ School Penang Interact Club advisor Wong Chiew Lee who was present with her students, said her students have been actively involved in cleaning the toys and repairing them before placing them in the libraries.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 08:55 PM   #148
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Wednesday March 28, 2012
Clarion unveils Android-based navigation system developed in Penang
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CLARION (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd will be ready to produce between 30,000 and 50,000 units of the Android-based integrated audio-visual navigation system, Clarion Mirage, at its plant in Bayan Lepas, Penang, in the next two months.

Clarion (Malaysia) managing director T.K. Tan said the company here was now in the process of sourcing for approximately 200 engineers and technicians.

“We are working now with Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC) to look for about 150 research and development, software, and electronic and mechanical engineers.

“For example, we hope to work with PSDC and Talent Corp to produce about 60 software engineers over the next three years,” he said.

Tan was speaking at the technology launch of Clarion Mirage, which was attended by Star Publications (M) Bhd executive director Tan Sri Kamal Hashim and Clarion (Malaysia) deputy managing director Toshiyuki Nakazaki.

“The Clarion Mirage product was conceived in Penang with full development support from our Clarion headquarters in Japan and the Malaysian Government.

“It is only right that we launched it right here, today.

“That said, the Clarion Mirage was developed in collaboration with our renowned global technology partners.

“Over 80% of the raw materials used for the Clarion Mirage are sourced locally.

“Therefore, the product is Malaysian by birth,” he said.

Tan added that Wind River, a world leader in embedded and mobile software and a wholly owned division of Intel Corporation, assisted in the development of the unit’s customised Android software platform and provided software integration.

“Navigon AG, a Garmin company, provided the navigation engine and helped Clarion Malaysia to compile, for the first time, a seamless regional map for Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

“Meanwhile, Plextek Ltd, a UK-based research and development company, collaborated with the Clarion research and development team to complete the designing of the hardware,” he said.
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Old March 29th, 2012, 08:29 PM   #149
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Thursday March 29, 2012

CM: Penang effective in dealing with graft

GEORGE TOWN: Arrests made by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) show that Penang has been successful in fighting corruption.

Of the 57 arrests made nationwide last year, 37 were civil servants but only one of them was from the state.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said this was proof that the state’s measures were effective in improving the civil service.

He said although the state government had “many miles to go”, there had been much improvement in the administration at both the state and local authority levels.

“We aspire to be an international and intelligent city so we need to transform the civil service in order to drive our initiative.

“What’s important is to have in place a preventive system internally so that people will be afraid to try any hanky-panky,” he said.

Lim said that before blaming the local councils for delays in carrying out their duties, complainants should first look at themselves.

He added that there were cases where professionals engaged by complainants to handle the work were at fault and not the councils.

“If the local councils are wrong, we will act but there are cases of the councils’ officers chasing documents so delays are caused by those hired by the complainants themselves.”

Lim, who was speaking at the launch of a forum organised by the Malaysian Professional Centre (BIM) yesterday, said proposals to improve the administration were welcome.

He said the state government was willing to work closely with professional bodies so that they would have a role and say in the administration.

In his speech, BIM president John S.C. Loh said integrity and ethical behaviour was a culture that needed to be passed on to the next generation, adding that people skills were invaluable.
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Old March 29th, 2012, 08:31 PM   #150
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--repeated post--
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Old March 30th, 2012, 09:56 PM   #151
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Friday March 30, 2012

Three-day Plenitude World Music Festival kicks off today

OVER the next three days, the serene surroundings of the Penang Botanic Gardens will be resonating with the exotic beats and eclectic rhythms of the Plenitude World Music Festival 2012 starting tonight.

Some 12,000 music lovers are expected to throng the gardens’ Quarry Recreational Park to experience the unique brands of music conjured up by 18 international bands.

Tonight’s programme will kick off with local cultural dances, followed by the first act, Rentak Balai of Negeri Sembilan. They will be followed by the Phong Nguyen ensemble of Vietnam, and Will Crummers and The Rarotonga of New Zealand.

The Griff Trio (Belgium), Wild Marmalade (Australia), Aseana Percussion Unit (Kuala Lumpur) and The Fix (Kuala Lumpur/United States) complete the first night’s line-up.

Tomorrow’s playlist includes the Dhol Blasters (Penang), Kalja Riddim Clan (Vanuatu), Tori Ensemble (South Korea), Geng Wak Long (Kelantan), Altan Urag (Mongolia) and Guinee Percussions (Africa).

The carnival culminates on Sunday with Didit Dinai (Sarawak), Beoga (Ireland), The Grace Nono – Bob Aves Group (Philippines), Lokyo (Russia), Gus Teja World Music (Indonesia) and Maite Hontele (Columbia).

There will also be a series of workshops from 2pm to 6pm daily throughout the event.

Tickets are available at the event site beginning noon today. It is priced at RM90 for adults and RM45 for children for a one day pass, while the three-day options are priced at RM220 adults and RM120 children. There’s a buy-1-free-1 promotion for all categories.

The event is organised by the Penang State Tourism Development and Culture Office, with UCSI Communications Sdn Bhd as the festival’s event management consultant. For details, visit the official website wwwpenangworldmusic.com.
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Old March 30th, 2012, 09:59 PM   #152
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Old March 31st, 2012, 08:21 PM   #153
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2nd day of World Music Festival, Penang
Earth Hour, light shutted off for 1 hour

Guinee Percussions(Africa)

Geng Wak Long(Kelantan)

Penang Dhol Blaster
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Old April 1st, 2012, 08:40 PM   #154
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Sunday April 1, 2012

Lights out but the music plays on
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GEORGE TOWN: It is said that music transcends all boundaries and this time around, music did one better by bringing everyone together for Mother Nature.

As the lights were turned off for an hour at the Plenitude World Music Festival in conjunction with Earth Hour, spectators lighted up candles provided for them.

With candles in their hands, music lovers swayed together to the beautiful music of the South Korean group, Tori Ensemble.

On the musical front, Penang’s very own Penang Dhol Blasters kicked off the second day of the music festival with pulsating beats of the powerful dhol based rhythms.

This was followed by the Vanuatu-based Reggae band, Kalja Riddim Klan, who was making their maiden appearance in a music festival in Malaysia.

Their unique beat, which was inspired by the rich culture and tradition of Vanuatu, got the crowd swaying, before a family of musicians from Kelantan called Geng Wak Long entertained the fans with traditional music from the east coast state.

An eventful ocassion: Music fans with lighted candles enjoying the festival at the Penang Botanic Gardens yesterday.
Mongolian folk rock band, Altan Urag, which is loosely translated as ‘Kin of the Khan’, rocked out a mixture of traditional and contemporary music which got the crowd pumping their fists into the air.

An electrifying performance resonated from the Guinee Percussions as they seek to educate the people of the world of Africa’s rich cultural legacy, through music, drums, dance, and storytelling.

Wrapping up the second session was The Fix, which is a collaboration between a Malaysian and an American.

The results produced an array of eclectic electronic beats which covers genres such as Reggae, Funk, Soul and Electro.

According to Ai Li Koch, who came from Kuala Lumpur for the music festival, the experience has been especially fabulous for her children.

“My husband and I have been to the Borneo Music Festival in Sarawak once, but this time, we came with our children, so it is a good outing and experience for them,” she said.
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Old April 2nd, 2012, 05:04 PM   #155
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from NZ Herald

Malaysia: By George, it's got it
By Sheriden Rhodes
12:00 PM Saturday Mar 31, 2012
Sheriden Rhodes steps back in time to get a glimpse of old Asia.

The Eastern and Oriental Hotel. Photo / Supplied
Business is booming in George Town, but try telling that to Leong. I'm standing inside the young Chinese man's bric-a-brac shop in Penang's capital city, crammed to the rafters with old bikes and rotary-dial phones, vintage clocks and retro fans. The first time I entered his shop, an old lady shooed me away. I've returned today and this time I ask Leong how much he wants for one of his clocks. "Not for sale," he says, shaking his head apologetically. "How about this one, then?" I ask. Again he shakes his head. Can I buy any of the clocks on display? "No," he says sadly.

I'm in Armenian St, a narrow winding lane lined with boutiques and galleries where the revival of the city is best enjoyed. George Town offers a wonderful glimpse of old Asia, and is protected by a Unesco World Heritage listing. It is also where Australian entrepreneur Narelle McMurtie and business partner Alison Fraser have transformed a century-old row of Chinese, Malaysian, Indian and Eurasian shopfronts into the Straits Collection, an eight-villa boutique property.

Half of the villas are in Armenian St, not far from McMurtie's shops, the Bon Ton Shop and China Joe's, filled with Chinese antiques, porcelain, quirky gifts and Asian homewares.

The other half of the Straits Collection is a short walk away in Stewart Lane, where McMurtie and Fraser also run a cafe, Kopi Cine.

Part of the cafe's interior wall still bears a sign, "Serbuk Kopi Kim Guan" (Kim Guan Coffee Powders), and giant roasting pots from the site's former life as a coffee mill are in the courtyard.

I arrive here by trishaw on a muggy morning, still wondering why I can't buy one of Leong's clocks, and take a seat on the cafe's narrow balcony fronting the lane, beneath a red-and-gold Chinese lantern. A perfectly crafted latte is followed by Peking duck-style pancakes.

The young Malay barista, Faisal, tells me he picked up his trade from McMurtie's adopted Indian daughter, Linda, and from a couple of helpful Australian customers.

Afterwards, I take a stroll which, apart from the ubiquitous man-powered trishaw, is the best way to explore this historical city. I pass shophouses inhabited by tradesman tinkering on trishaws and craftsmen creating songkok hats, paper lanterns, joss sticks and wood carvings. One shophouse is filled with old tyres and car parts; others have become bustling cafes and diners.

You can feel the city's recent colonial past in buildings such as the iconic Eastern and Oriental Hotel, a glamorous place for afternoon tea. George Town's new life is reflected in galleries such as Fuan Wong Gallery, which showcases the owner's beautiful fused-glass sculptures, and in boutique hotels such as the Straits Collection, China Tiger, Yeng Keng, the Oasis in Love Lane and the beautifully restored Penang Hotel.

Just outside George Town is the Eastern and Oriental's sister property, Lone Pine, formerly a seaside escape for British planters and colonial civil servants. It reopened after a 57-million ringgit ($17.6 million) makeover.

George Town's heritage listing in 2008 convinced another Australian to start a business here, 30 years after leaving the city in which he was born. Hotelier Christopher Ong and his partner, Karl Steinberg, opened a boutique "flashpacker" hotel last year called Muntri Mews in old stables on Muntri St, the same street where Ong grew up. "We were concerned this would all be destroyed, which would be heartbreaking," Ong, a former banker, tells me over tea.

He is referring to the narrow streets and lanes lined with century-old shophouses surrounding Muntri Mews. "We were worried that if we restored the old buildings, someone could just build a multistorey tower next door," he says. "But as soon as I heard that they were close to getting Unesco listing, I came back."

Ong says developers who once would have been unmoved by heritage and aesthetics are investing in Penang's restoration, pointing out the Yeng Keng Hotel, a boutique property in a restored mansion. "It's great to see these guys embrace the heritage and culture of George Town," he says.

Ong restored old houses in inner Sydney and Melbourne and lived in Hong Kong before he and Steinberg moved to Sri Lanka in 2002 to establish the Galle Fort Hotel, a historic Dutch villa in Galle's old fort, which they converted into a 12-room hotel, picking up a Unesco heritage award in the process. "Now, one generation later, I'm back doing it here," he says.

They returned to Penang three years ago to restore an old house for themselves. They then bought a large, dilapidated Edwardian Anglo-Malay bungalow and transformed it into the beautiful Clove Hall, a boutique hotel set in a lush tropical garden, a rarity in George Town where the predominant architecture is two-storey shophouses with little outdoor space.

Using his Peranakan heritage as inspiration for his reinterpretation of the period, Ong opened Clove Hall in 2009 and stamped it with his style, blending the past with contemporary luxuries in six elegant suites.

He refers to Muntri Mews as "flashpacker" budget accommodation, or "affordable luxury", for savvy travellers. Situated at the heart of George Town, where arguably the town's best-preserved rows of 19th-century Straits Chinese architecture exists, Ong likens Muntri St to Singapore's Emerald Hill with its restored, two-storey Peranakan shophouses. Muntri Mews used to be the stables and carriage works of the street's grandest terraces.

Nearby is Cheong Fatt Tse, or Blue Mansion, so named for its indigo colour. It is an elaborate 1880s Su Chow Dynasty house owned by the eponymous late Chinese entrepreneur, which features in several films, including the classic 1992 Indochine starring Catherine Deneuve. The property is open for tours and as guest accommodation.

Ong and Steinberg have converted seven shophouses at the eastern end of Stewart Lane, opposite the Straits Collection, into a luxury Peranakan guesthouse, and will also open another 16-room flashpacker development Noordin Mews, heritage digs with a pool, by June this year.

Back on Muntri St, they are transforming a row of workers' cottages into boutique, self-contained accommodation called Muntri Grove.

"There's a lot of energy coming in here: small theatre groups, little cafes like mine and Narelle's, and boutique hotels," Ong says. "It's where you can experience old Asia, which is fast disappearing."

McMurtie loves the human scale of George Town. "We've got a lovely little walking map, which we give to guests so they can explore the heritage area," she says. "There's cafes, shops, galleries, mosques, Chinese temples and food on every street corner."

Encouragingly, McMurtie says, Peranakans are moving back to live in George Town. "The Chinese restaurants are full at night and there are more food stalls. Locals are becoming proud of George Town and realise they can have a successful business here."
Well, most of them. On my final day in George Town, I return to Leong's and implore him to sell me one of his clocks. "But I will have none left," he laments.

He finally agrees to sell me a retro Chinese Diamond wall clock for 90 ringgit, which needs to be converted to batteries to operate. Now the problem is time, there's less than an hour before I'm due at the airport.

"Can do, can do," Leong yells, suddenly jumping into action. I return at the last possible moment to collect the clock and I panic when I see it sitting in pieces on the shop floor as a man works on it with a screwdriver. But a minute later, the clock is complete and Leong puts it into a plastic bag as I leap back on the bus to the airport.

At home, every time I pass my vintage treasure, I dream of returning to old George Town.


Getting there:

Malaysia Airlines offers six flights a week direct from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur (11hrs) with convenient onward connections to Penang (55mins). Visit the site or call Malaysia Airlines Reservations on 0800 777 747.

Where to stay:

* The Straits Collection is eight, two-storey, self-contained shophouses decorated in simple, contemporary Asian style with cable TV, air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, rain shower, mini fridge and full housekeeping. A one-bedroom residence costs
from 450 ringgit ($180) a night. Phone +604 263 7299 for Stewart Lane accommodation and +604 262 7299 for accommodation in Armenian St.

* Muntri Mews has nine "flashpacker" suites with en suite bathroom, LCD TVs, private sitting areas that open to the veranda upstairs or the garden downstairs, Wi-Fi, a small shop and a small business centre. Rooms cost from 300 ringgit ($120) a night. Phone +604 263 5125.

* Clove Hall is George Town's most luxurious accommodation: six elegant suites that cost from 550 ringgit ($221) a night, with polished floors, four-poster beds, granite baths and more. Phone +604 229 0818.

* Lone Pine is a restored colonial property of 90 rooms and suites, located 20 minutes by taxi from George Town. A deluxe room, including breakfast for two, costs from 880 ringgit including daily breakfast, Japanese set dinner or Malaysian afternoon tea for two, complimentary minibar and more. Phone +604 886 8686.

* Sheriden Rhodes travelled courtesy of Malaysia Tourism and Malaysia Airlines.

By Sheriden Rhodes
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Old April 3rd, 2012, 09:35 AM   #156
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Tuesday April 3, 2012

A host of events to celebrate mall’s makeover

A TOTAL of RM1.7mil was spent on the upgrading of Prangin Mall in George Town to improve its facilities and rejuvenate the look of the mall.

The renovation saw improvements in terms of new toilets with disabled friendly features, replacement of floor tiles and the construction of the new link bridge to 1st Avenue.

The mall’s joint management board (JMB) finance manager Steve Lim said it was time for the 12-year-old mall to have a new look as they wanted to keep up with other shopping malls in Penang.

The mall’s JMB chairperson Terri Yeoh Mooi Sim said the most pressing problem at the moment was the encroachment of certain tenants into the mall’s common area which had made it difficult for shoppers to walk through the place.

“Some tenants even placed an illegal kiosk in front of their rented space without the approval of the JMB.”

New look: RM1.7mil was spent to improve the facilities and rejuvenate Prangin Mall in George Town
In fact, the mall’s JMB recently won a High Court case on Thursday where one of the shop owners was sentenced to three weeks’ jail for unauthorised renovation and encroachment in the mall.

“We prefer not to take the matter to court but if tenants and owners refuse to co-operate with us by removing their illegal kiosks, we will resort to legal action.”

Yeoh was speaking to reporters on Friday to announce the events to be carried out at the mall over the next two months.

Among the activities in April are children dance performances, Easter Bunny appearances and also the Grand Prix Sale Lucky Pick where shoppers will stand a chance to win Firefly tickets.

In conjunction with Mother’s Day, a Mum & Child Look Alike Competition will be held in May while in June, there will be a Steamboat Eating Challenge where participants will have to finish a steamboat BBQ set within an hour to win cash vouchers. Other events to be held throughout both months are the Ladies Merchandising Fair, Tribute To All Mum Redemption, Mum’s Talent Performance and Tribute To All Dad Redemption.
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Old April 3rd, 2012, 09:56 AM   #157
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Tuesday April 3, 2012

Belly dance to good health

BELLY dancing makes women feel good about themselves, regardless of their size or body type.

That’s the message Serene Dance and Performance Dance Studio will be spreading to all women at the upcoming The Star Health Fair 2012 in Penang.

Studio owner and choreographer Serene Keng said that belly dancing actually halted the ageing process, especially among women.

“It is an art that makes people feel good and you get to relax and destress your muscles too. Belly dancing could also make you feel much younger.

“When women do the belly dance, they would definitely feel sexier and thus, it would make them feel happier and have more confidence in themselves,” said Keng, who has been belly dancing for five years.

Keng also said that belly dancing is a good form of exercise and encourages more women of all ages to take up the activity.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, belly dancing is for everybody,’’ she said.

Don't miss out: Keng (second left) posing with her studio dancers for a photo at the Star Northern Hub in Bayan Lepas, Penang. They will be performing at the fair in Straits Quay
Keng added that about eight dancers from the studio aged between 19 and 40 would perform two types of belly dancing during the showcase.

“There will be two solo dancers and two group dancers, who will perform the oriental dance and the saidi dance which uses the cane.

“These are two types of belly dancing that we would like to showcase to the public,” she said.

“We hope that through this showcase, more women would take up this activity,” she said.

The event will be held at Straits Quay in Tanjung Tokong from 7.30am to 10pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Among the event’s fun-filled activities will be a fun walk, mass aerobics, martial arts demonstrations, dance routines and yoga as well as health talks and free health/medical checks.

The fair is aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle among people of all age groups. Admission is free.

The fair is organised by The Star and endorsed by the Penang Municipal Council with Straits Quay as the official venue host.

Takasima is the main sponsor while Pantai Hospital Penang and Gleneagles Medical Centre, Penang, are the event partners.

Details, call 04-6473388 for Eric (ext 3021) or Vicky (ext 3122).
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Old April 4th, 2012, 06:21 PM   #158
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Wednesday April 4, 2012

Partnership in medical tech and aerospace

THE Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC) and DMG Mori Seiki are collaborating to address the increase in demand for a skilled workforce in fields of medical technology and aerospace.

The collaboration with the machine tool manufacturer to provide PDSC with three computer numerical control machines from this year will give students the opportunity to learn about the latest in machining manufacturing.

A ‘Train the Trainer Programme’ will also be provided by DMG Mori Seiki to PSDC trainers to acquire the necessary skills before teaching the students undertaking the Diploma Programme.

PSDC Management Council chairman B.C. Ooi said the aerospace and medical technology industries were sectors which the Federal and state governments were strongly promoting. He said there were five institutions, including PSDC, offering machining courses and churning out 410 graduates yearly in the state.

However, he said the number of graduates was still not enough to meet industries’ needs as some 1,350 machinists were still needed in these two sectors over the next two years.

He said this in his speech during the launching of the Precision Machining Tech Centre at PSDC in Bayan Lepas, Penang.

He also announced PSDC getting the Electro Magnetic Capability (EMC) Lab Accreditation.
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Old April 4th, 2012, 06:49 PM   #159
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Wednesday April 4, 2012
Services sector to play bigger role

PENANG has introduced an outreach programme with the hope that the services sector would contribute at least 50% of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020.

The programme, which seeks convergence in the manufacturing and services sector, would enable the state to escape the middle-income trap and become a high-income economy.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the merger was part of the state government’s effort to balance the contribution of the services sector with that of the manufacturing sector.

Presently, the manufacturing sector is contributing 57% of Penang’s GDP compared to 40% by the services sector. The total Penang GDP as of now is RM50bil.

Speaking at the Joint Penang Industry Advisory Panel (PIAP) and Penang Services Advisory Panel (PSAP) meeting recently at Traders Hotel, Lim said the PSAP would sponsor two participants for a one-month on-the-job training stint under the Penang-Acheh Profes-sional Development Fellowship Programme.

Lim said the mission was meant to strengthen ties between the Acheh government and the Penang government.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 10:13 PM   #160
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