Saturday, July 31, 2010

Exciting races at Sarawak Regatta 2010

KUCHING: The ongoing 2010 Sarawak Regatta held at Kuching Waterfront has seen more stiff competitions among the competitors as they vie for top honours.

This has made the races more exciting.

Participating teams have done their preparations earlier than usual and are well prepared.

This can be seen in their determination to grab the coveted ‘King of the River’ title in the various categories.

“At this year’s regatta, we are seeing more stiff competitions showed by the various team participating at the races today (Friday).

“This is exciting indeed and members of the public must not miss this regatta,” said organising secretary Paul Kawin Pipo.

Apart from local entries, the regatta saw entries from Indonesia and Brunei.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Exciting races at Sarawak Regatta 2010
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Bigger purse for Padawan Raft Safari

THE fifth annual Padawan Raft Safari kicks off on October 31 with more and bigger prizes totalling RM17,000.

The organiser, Padawan Municipal Council, hopes participation will double this year, including contestants from overseas.

Two new categories have been created, one for hotel and travel agency staff members, and another specially for tourists.

“Last year the foreign teams had a tough time on the rapids. They weren’t as good as the locals, so their category this year is really just for them to have a good time,” said council chairman Lo Khere Chiang.

Speaking after the council’s 14th anniversary gathering at the MPP in Kota Padawan near Kuching yesterday, Lo said the safari was one of the safest ways to enjoy the rapids.

“Participants will experience the famous Giam Rapids as part of the challenge. It is quite difficult, but the safari is a great opportunity to enjoy nature’s bounty here.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Bigger purse for Padawan Raft Safari
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MASwings promotes Merdeka Value Fares in Kuching

KUCHING: MASwings is offering discounted fares from as low as RM36 to RM92 for bookings made via the Internet under its ‘Merdeka Value Fares’ package.The fare is available during promotional period from now until Aug 31 for travel period from Aug 2, 2010 to Jan 31, 2011.

MASwings customers will be able to purchase one-way ticket for as low as RM36 for Sibu-Bintulu sector, RM44 for Miri-Labuan sector or RM51 for Kota Kinabalu-Miri sector.

MASwings acting head (Commercial) Azlan Awang Tanjong said in a press statement yesterday that this fantastic deal was offered in conjunction with the ‘Merdeka’ celebration.

He said most Malaysians would take a short break during the ‘Merdeka’ or other celebrations from now until end of the year and the majority of them would plan for a trip to somewhere nearby.

“As an airline that provides extensive coverage in Sabah and Sarawak, we are happy to provide such services to fellow Sabahans and Sarawakians at a very reasonable and affordable fare.

“We wish to celebrate this joyous occasion of ‘Merdeka’ with fellow Malaysians and the noble way to do so is to assist Malaysians to prepare and facilitate their trips,” he said.

Continue reading at: MASwings promotes Merdeka Value Fares in Kuching
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Friday, July 30, 2010

Hornbill Fest to preserve ethnic culture

THE Kuala Lumpur Sarawak Heritage Association celebrated its annual Hornbill Festival at the Malaysia Tourist Centre (Matic) recently.

The festival, held for the past two years, is named after the hornbill, a bird native to Sarawak.

The Hornbill Festival which started on July 24 saw several events that made this tourism centre come alive.

It featured Sabah and Sarawak ethnic dances and theater, Kumang and Keling Gawai pageant 2010, Gawai open house dinner and Sabah craft and food bazaar.

Wearing their best traditional outfits, a total of 38 Sabahans and Sarawakians participated in the pageant.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Hornbill Fest to preserve ethnic culture
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kuching International Dance Festival highlights

THE three-day Second Kuching International Dance Festival last weekend ended on a high note as performers from overseas joined Malaysians to dance the night away and raise funds for the needy.

The festival’s final night, the International Belia Night held in conjunction with the state-level Youth Assembly, drew a full house at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching.

The audience was feted to a wide range of dances from graceful classical ballet and modern hip hop to traditional dances of ethnic groups from Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Singapore, and dance-drama from Hong Kong and China.

It was a golden opportunity for the city’s dwellers to watch the best dancers from around the world.

The festival was jointly held by the Dance Academy Kuching; Association of Wives of Ministers, Assistant Ministers and State Legislative Assembly Members; Social Development and Urbanisation Ministry; Tourism and Heritage Ministry; Sarawak Taiwan Graduates Association and Young Malaysians Movement Kenyalang and Batu Kawah Branch.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Kuching International Dance Festival highlights
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Widespread Coral Bleaching Discovered In Sepanggar Bay, Borneo

KOTA KINABALU: Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) scientists have discovered widespread coral bleaching in Sepanggar Bay, off Sabah waters.

In disclosing this, UMS Director of Borneo Marine Research Institute Prof Dr Saleem Mustafa said such activities deserved serious attention due to its implications on marine biodiversity and coral reef fisheries in the state's waters.

"UMS scientists, including M. Ali, Aw Soo Ling and Dr Abentin Estim noticed bleaching in some areas of Sepanggar Bay.

"They are of the view that in the context of Sabah, the corals have been living close to their maximum water temperature tolerance, and additional warming of water certainly has a debilitating effect on their health and survival," he told Bernama, here Thursday.

Saleem said coral bleaching was a stress response associated with ecosystem disturbances.

"It happens when corals loose the symbiotic micro algae (zooxanthellae) due to unfavorable environmental conditions.

"Bleaching stress has affected not merely the stony corals but also some soft corals, sea anemone and other marine invertebrates which have symbiotic relationship with the zooxanthellae," he said.

He said that while the degree of bleaching in Sabah would require more studies to quantify, it seemed to have started in recent months based on the routine observations that have been on-going during regular dives in the area by UMS marine scientists.

Saleem said the immediate causes could be unusual variations in temperature, dilution and sedimentation.

According to him, the dry spell and warmer conditions experienced in Sabah earlier this year (January-March) had weakened the corals and dealt a blow to their resistance to environmental stress.

"During that period, temperature and solar radiations were reported to be higher than average. The sea surface temperature anomalies (deviation from normal profile) exceeded 1.5oC in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and the consequential atmospheric anomalies that developed, reflected a moderate El Nino Southern Oscillation," he said.

Continue reading at: Widespread Coral Bleaching Discovered In Sepanggar Bay, Borneo
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sabah Government's Role in Danum Valley Success

KOTA KINABALU: The achievements at Danum Valley are testimonies of the state government’s openness and commitment to promote research with the aim of making Sabah a centre of excellence in tropical biodiversity research.

This idea of becoming a centre of excellence was adopted as a key strategy in the Sabah Development Corridor.

And it supports the federal government’s vision to transform the country into a world centre of excellence in conservation, research and utilization of tropical biological diversity by 2020.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman said this at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Royal Society and Danum Valley Management Committee on the rainforest research and training programme for the next five years at a resort here yesterday.

He said through the excellent collaboration between the Royal Society and the Danum Valley Management Committee, this field centre was now regarded as a leading and influential tropical rainforest research establishment in South East Asia.

The field centre in Danum also owes its success to the state Forestry Department, Yayasan Sabah, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment.

“Globally, it is one of the top three facilities of its kind after La Selva in Costa Rica and Baro Colorado Island in Panama,” he added.

However, the Chief Minister said the quest towards achieving excellence in tropical rainforest in Sabah was still far from complete.

“Compared to the Royal Society’s existence of more than three centuries, this is just the beginning,” he said.

Given the complexity of tropical rainforest and its status as one of the least understood of ecosystem, Musa said there was still a lot to be researched.

“We need long-term multidisciplinary research and we are aware that findings are crucial to ensure Danum’s sustainability in this fast changing world.

“And, there is also a need for continuity and enhancement of current programmes, with greater participation by both local and overseas research interest,” he said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sabah Government's Role in Danum Valley Success
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MAS and MASwings move ops to Sandakan airport

Sandakan: Effective Thursday, Malaysia Airlines and MASwings will cease operations at the town office here and move its entire operations, including ticketing operations, to Sandakan Airport.

This follows a successful integration and relocation of both its town office operations in Tawau and Bintulu to the respective airports last year.

"After comprehensive analysis of the options available for reservation and ticketing along with the strategic location of Sandakan Airport, MASwings finds it is more feasible to centralise its Sandakan operation at the airport.

"By doing so MASwings would be able to pull all resources, enhance efficiency and offer better service to our customers," said Shauqi Ahmad, Regional Manager MASwings Sabah.

Customers who do not wish to conduct transactions at the airport have other options as MASwings also offers various reservation and ticketing facilities, such as through internet booking and call centre, or they can simply approach any of its appointed agents.

Continue reading at: MAS and MASwings move ops to Sandakan airport
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sabah International Folklore Festival 2010 highlights

Kota Kinabalu: Taiwan were voted overall best and won the Chief Minister's award in their first outing at the 5th Sabah International Folklore Festival 2010 Competition at the Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang Saturday night.

To add glory to an ecstatic night, their lead dancer, Ms Tu Meng Cheah, of the Ou Yang-Hui-Chen Art Dance Company , took the Best Female Dancer Award while the Best Male Dancer Award went to Romania's Nita Launat Nicuson. It's no surprise the Taiwanese won hands down.

Most of the dancers are graduates of Dance Departments of top universities in Taiwan, many of whom are champion dancers in national dance competitions as well as had vast exposure in Asia-Oceana dance competitions.

Indonesia's Sanggar Ayudha cultural troupe were voted second overall best and won the Minister of Culture Award. Sanggar Ayudha focuses on presenting the various traditional ethnic dances across Indonesia.

Thailand's Inaitutute of Fine Arts Development (Bunditpatanasilpa Institute) were judged third overall best and won the Jury Award.

The Institute specialises in Dramatic Arts, Fine Arts and Music Arts both in Thai Arts and Western Arts.

Overall, performances at the finals were a pleasure to watch the 70 per cent packed spectators took home a good feeling about what they had seen, paving the way for more such events in future.

The string of high quality troupes justified a range of other cherished and deserving awards.

Philippines' dynamic South Cotabato Performing Arts Ensemble were justly awarded the coveted "Best Performance" award.

Continue reading at: Sabah International Folklore Festival 2010 highlights
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Borneo Cultural Festival - Biggest celebratory event in Sarawak

SIBU: Borneo Cultural Festival has become the biggest celebratory event in Sarawak as it continues to attract large crowd to its annual 10-day carnival.

Speaking at the festival grand finale on Sunday at Sibu Town Square, Sibu Municipal Council chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King said last Saturday night alone, there was an estimated crowd of 30,000 people.

On Sunday night, the crowd also numbered around similar figure of 30,000 people.

“Today, Borneo Cultural Festival has become the signature event in Sibu and in Central Sarawak.”

He expected the festive event to be a grander celebration next year because Borneo Cultural Festival 2011 would then celebrate its 10th Anniversary.

“We, therefore, hope that the festival will then be elevated to become a regional and international event,” he enthused.

Towards achieving a bigger dream next year, Tiong said they would immediately plan it right after the celebration this year.

“Let us work to promote our rich cultural assets to the world.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo Cultural Festival - Biggest celebratory event in Sarawak
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51 to race at 7th Borneo International Yachting Challenge

MIRI: Fifty-one yachts set off for Labuan yesterday for the 95-nautical-mile Miri to Labuan Passage Race in the 7th Borneo International Yachting Challenge which started last Saturday.

Boats from Australia the most number, four from Malaysia

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan flagged off the contestants at Miri Marina.

Also present were Assistant Minister of Social Development and Urbanisation (Sports) Datuk Lee Kim Shin, BIYC Miri Working Committee chairman Troy Yaw and Miri Mayor Lawrence Lai.

For the passage race, the participants will take the challenge to complete the route of which the fastest boat is expected to finish in 20 hours.

Apart from IRC Racing, participants would be judged accordingly to respective competing categories comprise Cruising A, Cruising B, Cruising C and Multi-hull along the passage race.

Last year, participating yacht from the Philippines was the champion for the IRC Racing of Miri-Labuan passage race after defeating two participating yachts from Sarawak, UluMulu and Sarawak Seahorse into second and third places respectively.

Remington from United Kingdom was the champion for the Cruising A category followed by First Light from Australia (second) and the third-placed winner was Tewai Pounamu.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 51 to race at 7th Borneo International Yachting Challenge
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Monday, July 26, 2010

World's most endangered Otter 'rediscovered' in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: The world’s most endangered otter species known as the hairy-nosed otter (Lutra sumatrana) has been “rediscovered” in Deramakot Forest Reserve in Sabah by a collaboration of German and Malaysian researchers.

“This is great news for Sabah and shows once again how unique and fortunate we are in terms of wildlife and nature. In addition, these findings also boost the conservation of this endangered otter internationally as historically this otter was distributed throughout large parts of Southeast Asia,” said an elated Sabah Wildlife Department Director, Dr. Laurentius Ambu.

The last confirmed record of the hairy-nosed otter in Sabah is a museum specimen collected over a hundred years ago.

“Even over the whole island of Borneo the last record – a road-kill from Brunei – was 1997, over ten years ago. Therefore it was unknown to scientists if this species can be still found on Borneo,” stated Andreas Wilting, the project leader of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW).

In 2008, IZW initiated the Conservation of Carnivores in Sabah (ConCaSa) project with the collaboration of SWD and Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) to study carnivores such as the Sunda clouded leopard, civets and otters in the State.

The ConCaSa project used automated camera traps that were set up in Deramakot and the surrounding forest reserves during the last two years. As the different otter species look very similar the hairy-nosed otter pictures had first to be verified by a number of experts before they were published recently by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission journal.

In addition to capturing camera trap pictures of the endangered hairy-nosed otter, the study also confirmed the presence of all five Bornean cat species, 13 other small carnivores such as the Banded civet and the sun bear.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: World's most endangered Otter 'rediscovered' in Sabah
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Brunei Royal event a pleasant surprise for tourists

Story by Aziz Idris

Excitement and joy were in the air as loyal residents of Brunei-Muara District as well as tourists came to witness the spectacular "Junjung Ziarah Bersama Rakyat" or "Royal Get-together" yesterday in the capital.

Lars from Denmark will have unforgettable memories of Brunei as he managed to shake hands with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam at the get-together. He told the Bulletin that he hesitated at first being in a crowd of thousands but said, "this is an opportunity you come across only once, might as well take it!"

Fiona, a New Zealander, was impressed with the colourful decorations and described the occasion as "a sight that I never seen before". She added that Brunei is truly a "Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures".

A couple from England, James Dalton and Gabrielle Donovan who currently reside in Australia caught a glimpse of the fireworks on Saturday as their were browsing through the lively 'Pasar Malam' or 'Night Stalls'. They were encouraged by locals to come the next day for the Royal Get-together and were amazed by the event. James commented that the event was "exciting" and full of customs and traditions. "Simply put, it was beautiful," said the couple.

Marje and Jim also from Australia said, "The event was spectacular, we never seen anything quite like it before." Both are first-timers in Brunei and would like to come back for a longer stay. "We are definitely coming back and today must be our lucky day because we didn't know about the event."

Stella from Netherlands travelled from Sarawak and was on a stop-over in Brunei. She told the Bulletin that it was a coincidence she was in town yesterday. "A story I can tell to my family and friends back home," she said.

Tourists Kira and Kathrine from Denmark were also surprised to find out about His Majesty's get-together. They were spotted along the road leading to Lapau where His Majesty made his rounds to shake hands with his subjects.

Both of them managed to shake hands with His Majesty and members of the Royal Family. "The Sultan asked us where are we from. We were so nervous meeting and greeting the Royal Family of Brunei. We managed to take a photo too!" said both of them.

Scottish tourist Naomi was unaware of the ceremony. "Bruneians are extremely friendly, I think they got it from the Sultan!" she said with a smile.

Being her first time here, she was intrigued by the culture and religious landmarks such as the SOAS Mosque. "That will be my next destination," she gestured at the mosque as she happily snapped photos.

Brunei's culture and heritage were also of interest to the 'Supreme Master TV' crew, who are on an 11-day visit to the Sultanate from Taiwan. The crew's cameraman said, "We are here to show Brunei's culture and heritage to an international audience."

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Borneo Cultural Festival to go international

THE Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) will be celebrated on a grander scale next year and be elevated into an international event.

Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King said the planning and coordination would commence immediately to make sure the festival’s 10th edition achieves the objective.

“The council will take the opportunity to promote and showcase our rich cultural assets to the region and to the world,” he said at the closing of the 2010 BCF at the Town Square last night.

BCF began in 2002 after other pioneer celebrations like Pesta Sibu, Millennium Celebration and Borneo Tribal Extravaganza, he added.

“Today, BCF is the signature event of Sibu and the central region of Sarawak. The crowd on Saturday night was estimated at 30,000. I am proud to say that BCF is the event which attracts the most people, compared to other celebrations in the state,” said Tiong.

This year’s BCF theme was Beauty in Ethnic Diversity. An exciting addition this year was the Swan Delicatessen Contest in which 50 cakes and pastries were nominated.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo Cultural Festival to go international
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wonders of Mulu Caves

The scenery inside the cave

The well-lit interior of the cave

Signage leading to the Clearwater Caves

Monophyllaea leaves growing on the rock formation

The entrance to the Clearwater Caves

Visitors making their way along the walkway

The longboat used to travel to visit the cave

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to AK and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.



By AK

Adventure seekers who love thrills and excitements should add cave exploration in their must-do itinerary. One of the ideal places to visit is the Mulu National Park.

The Clearwater Caves (Gua Air Jernih in Malay) at the Mulu National Park, is the 8th longest cave in the world and the longest in South East Asia. There are two ways to get to the caves, namely by using the longboat transportation or trekking by foot. However, it is advisable to use the longboat, which would take approximately 30 minutes, if you are staying at the Royal Mulu Resort.

If you are staying at the Mulu National Park lodging, the tickets can be purchased at the park's headquarters. Visitors are not allowed to visit any of the caves without a park ranger or guide. The ticket fee is RM10 per person while the longboat for return trip is RM30 per person. Usually, the trips to the cave and back will take about three to four hours.

For the more adventurous travellers, they could opt to stop at the Wind Caves first and gradually make their way by foot via a wooden walkway along the river to the Clearwater Caves, off the Melinau River. Then, the journey to the next cave would take about five to 10 minutes by foot.

Otherwise, by using the longboat, it will bring you off the Melinau River and directly to the Clearwater Caves area where visitors will be awed by the crystal clear waters. A shaded area with chairs and tables is also provided. At times, people can be seen swimming at the pool in front of the jetty.

Once ready, the park ranger will then lead you up a flight of 200 steps to the Clearwater Cave entrance. At the entrance, lit walkways are paved with railings for safety and conservation reasons. Along the way, the guide will explain and illustrate the history of the caves.

Before going in, take a look above you and you could see some single leaf plants growing on the rocks. It is believed that these leaves have some sort of medicinal values which can only be found in Mulu, Sarawak. It is recorded that there are 23 species of Monophyllaea, which is a genus of the limestone.

Moving along the cave, the platform keeps descending lower as you get deeper into the cave. For camera enthusiasts, the luminous environment would be a wonderful opportunity to try out their photography skills.

Inside the cave, there are plenty of stalagmites and stalactites, which were formed thousands of years ago. Animals such as spiders, bats, cockroaches, centipedes and swallows have made a home in the caves.

There is also an underwater river running through the Clearwater Cave.

Clearwater Caves is a recommended place to go for families who wishes to bring their children experience and learn about nature, flora and fauna of the Borneo rainforest.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Borneo Arts Festival in Labuan

LABUAN: Several performing art groups from around Borneo will be at the Borneo Arts Festival 2010. Director of Tourism Malaysia Sabah Mohd Roslan Abdullah said Labuan was chosen to hold the Borneo Arts Festival 2010 on August 6-8, as it is a centre of multi-cultural people living together.

The event is being organised by the Labuan Malaysia Tourism Ministry, government agencies, private sectors and NGOs in Labuan.

Fourteen genres of stage performances will be performed during the festival by groups around Borneo including from Brunei.

Among the performances are lion dance, medley dance, Labuan ethnic dances, Sabah ethnic dances, Sarawak ethnic dances, sape, bamboo music, fusion music, singing, aerobic dance, live band, acoustic guitar performance, contemporary dance and ‘Bang a Drum’.

Art contests will be organised during the festival such as in Visual Art, Borneo Artistic Photo, Teen Graffiti, Shoe Graffiti, Creative Moulding, Decorated Bicycle, Borneo Cuisine, Borneo Top, Scooter Attack, Face Sketching, Egg Art Painting and Food Sculpturing.

The champion will receive a cash prize of RM5,000, while second prize is RM3,000 and third prize RM1,000. In addition, RM500 each will be given as consolation prizes to participants.

The Tourism Ministry’s objectives in organising the event is to discover talents, expand creativity and provide an avenue for the people here to appreciate the beauty of art.

Continue reading at: Borneo Arts Festival in Labuan
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Taiwan dance troupe to perform at Borneo Culture Festival

SIBU: An internationally renowned dance troupe, Hwa Kang Dance Troupe from Taiwan, will present a story about life and nature at the Borneo Culture Festival (BCF) tonight.

The troupe, from the Chinese University of Taiwan, was founded in 1967 under the sponsorship of the University of Chinese Culture.

Members of the troupe are mostly students and alumni of the Dance Department of the University.

During their visit to the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC), Level 24, troupe leader Professor Wu Man Li said apart from making regular appearances in Taiwan, the troupe has often been invited abroad.

“We often get invitations to perform in Europe and we had been touring around and performing in United States, Europe, South Korea, Singapore, China, Egypt and today, we are making our first appearance in Sibu,” Wu said.

The troupe will be presenting three dances — Chinese dance ‘One Cloud’, Modern Ballet ‘Distance’ and Modern Contemporary ‘Vanity and Emptiness’.

Inspired by the variation of cloud, Wu created the Chinese ‘One Cloud’ dance to represent different cloud and weather patterns.

“The cloud could be smooth, slow or very fast; we are presenting this unique nature through our dance using the fan and long silk,” she explained.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Taiwan dance troupe to perform at Borneo Culture Festival
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Intriguing Teochew delicacies at Borneo Cultural festival

SIBU: Does this list of food ring a bell — the ‘kuih’ of rice-within-rice, crystal ‘pau’ and rice dumpling (‘chang’) of contrasting tastes?If it doesn’t, you have until Sunday to taste them at the Teochew cultural food stall at the Borneo Cultural Festival.

The food affair there is an experience that will not disappoint.

After all, you only get to taste these delicacies only once a year at this festival. They are not easy to come by even in other parts of the country, especially the Teochew ‘chang’ of contrasting tastes.

Called the double-taste dumpling in Chinese (Shuang ping zhong zhi), the ‘chang’ has both the salty and sweet tastes within. Head of the clan’s women section, Tay Lee Joo explained, “We have the salty braised meat with mushroom at one side of the filling and the sweetened yam paste at the other.

“So, it is really a challenging taste of half salty and half sweet. To imagine it seems odd but it will be a surprise when one tastes it.”

Chairman of Sibu Teochew Association Chua Hiong Kee regarded the ‘chang’ of the two-tastes as one that spelt out the basis of Teochew food.

“A lot of our dishes are either sweet or salty. For example, we eat sweetened mee sua but on the other hand, the Teochews are good in braising ducks, pork, intestines, etc, which are the salty side of our food.”

Tay said they sold nearly 400 ‘changs’ nightly, mostly the dumplings of two-tastes. She said business was so surprisingly good that their ‘changs’ would sell out before 9pm on some nights.

The clan head said even when they were carrying in the dumpling from their car at 6pm, early birds were already grabbing them.

On why public members can only taste the Teochew food at their stall once a year, Tay said, “You do not find them in town because they are not made commercially. We only make them for our own consumption.”

Continue reading at: Intriguing Teochew delicacies at Borneo Cultural festival
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sabah to be destination of choice in Asia for business and leisure

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan says Sabah would be developed into an internationally recognised destination of choice in Asia for business and leisure by 2025 under the 18-year Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) Project.

“Tourism, logistics, agriculture and manufacturing sectors will be the main focus of SDC, and shall be guided by the NKEA in line with its key factor endowments,” said Pairin when addressing more than 100 delegates from Malaysia and China at the 7th Malaysia-China Joint Business Council Meeting here yesterday.

He was here with ministers, assistant ministers and officials from the State government and corporate leaders from Sabah to attract Chinese investment in the SDC project.

When elaborating on tourism development under the project, Pairin said, the Sabah government would turn the State as a target of high-yield and long stay visitors, with premier eco-adventure destinations, as well as a high-end second home destination with luxury holiday villas and lifestyle activities.

“Offshore islands and Kinabalu Gold Coast Enclave will be developed into high end signature resorts, together with new eco-tourism products such as wildlife safari, rainforest interpretation, island hopping and submarine diving,” he said.

Lifestyle products like Mt Kinabalu lookout, Mice facilities, marinas, holiday homes, spas, wellness, healthcare centres, boutique resorts, performing arts, handicraft centres and art galleries will also be built.

He said, development would capitalise on Sabah’s largest genera of marine life (cradle of coral life), oldest rainforest and colourful and diverse native population, agro-tourism in the interior districts and wellness tourism in the highlands.

Continue reading at: Sabah to be destination of choice in Asia for business and leisure
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Borneo Cultural Festival begins with 15,000 enjoying various events

THE increasingly-popular Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) 2010 in Sibu kicked off last Friday night with at least 15,000 people cramming the Town Square to witness a host of simultaneous events.

Apart from three specially-erected stages, one each for the Chinese, Dayak and Malay-Melanau communities to present cultural performances nightly during the nine-day celebration, there are more than 100 stalls selling food and handicraft of the various communities.

Two other attractions are a trade expo and a photography and calligraphy exhibition.

The festival’s highlight will be the dances, songs and competitions involving individuals and cultural troupes representing Sarawak’s ethnic groups on the main stage during the final three nights.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh and Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King accompanied by the community leaders of the ethnic groups led a colourful street parade to kick-start the festival on Friday night.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Borneo Cultural Festival begins with 15,000 enjoying various events
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UFO reported sighted in Tuaran

KOTA KINABALU: An unidentified flying object (UFO) was reported sighted at a beach resort in Tuaran recently.

The round blue object, which was said to be hovering in the sky near the Tuaran Beach Resort, was sighted by resort guests and employees.

Tuaran Beach Resort restaurant manager, James Dungil, 27, who were among the eyewitnesses said the object was sighted on Saturday around 4pm.

“I was in the restaurant with some friends and saw some guests pointing up to the sky.

“We were curious so we went out to see what the commotion was all about and I saw a round transparent object in the sky,” he said when contacted yesterday.

James said he and some others then ran up to the resort’s family living room, located on the second floor, to have a better view.

“I managed to take one photo before it disappeared out of sight,” he said, adding that there was no sound or shining light when the object vanished.

Several other guests and employees, who claimed to have also spotted the object, said it hovered in the air for a few minutes before disappearing.

Some even claimed that their handphones “went dead” when they tried to record the object with the devices.

Another witness, Donny Benedict, 29, said he did not believe in the existence of UFOs, but changed his mind upon watching the unusual sight.

“I saw the object for about 20 seconds before it disappeared.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 15 countries dance troupes at 5th Sabah International Forklore Festival
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15 countries dance troupes at 5th Sabah International Forklore Festival

KOTA KINABALU: The 5th Sabah International Folklore Festival has received overwhelming response from the people of Sabah which indicates the success of the festival, said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun.

According to Masidi, almost all the tables for the main show on July 23 have been sold and it will be graced by the attendance of the Sabah Head of State, Tun Datuk Ahmadshah Abdullah.

He said that Sabah is fortunate to have the performers flying all the way to the state capital and expressed his appreciation to them for accepting the state government’s invitation to join in the festival.

“I think all of us are winners in our own right,” said Masidi yesterday while addressing the delegates at a welcoming dinner yesterday.

Also present at the dinner were Sabah Tourism Board chairman, Datuk Tengku Adlin Zainal, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment permanent secretary, Datuk Suzanna Liaw and Sabah Cultural Board chairman, Datuk Wences Angang.

“While other parts of the world are engulfed in wars and problems, all the countries that are represented here are willing to forget about the problems and have come to Kota Kinabalu to send a very strong message to the world that we all want peace,” said Masidi.

“The friendship that we are going to create at this festival would always be felt by other countries that are having the problems,” he added.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 15 countries dance troupes at 5th Sabah International Forklore Festival
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival has reached a plateau

ALTHOUGH last year’s Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) was threatened by the influenza A (H1N1) virus, the crowd turnout remained high with almost 22,000 visitors cramming the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) near Kuching.

The turnout for this year’s festival, however, was a disappointment to a certain degree.

While the organiser, Sarawak Tourism Board, blamed the just-concluded Fifa World Cup in South Africa, some say the event has reached it peak and people are just bored.

Experts in the industry claim that STB did not do its job efficiently, particularly in the promotion, marketing and sponsorship aspects of the festival.

Other issues were the increase in ticket prices and hotel room rates, accommodation problems and poor transportation to the festival venue and back to the city.

Despite the decline in the turnout, the 13th RWMF from July 9 to 11 was still a success. About 7,000 people attended the concert on Saturday night.

Randy Raine-Reusch, who helped start the festival in 1997, told StarMetro that there were several factors affecting ticket sales this year, but did not agree that the festival had reached its peak and was beginning to lose followers.

“Yes, I agree the event has reached a plateau, but there is room to enrich the festival. There are many ways to do that. It will continue to be the most-attended music festival in this region,” he said.

He said the decline in numbers this year was due to wrong marketing strategies and bad decisions — the sale of tickets and preparations were late.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival has reached a plateau
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Rhinoceros hornbill at Matang Wildlife Centre

IT IS DIFFICULT to say how long Jerry has to be in rehab. How do you wean a rhinoceros hornbill of the affection and care that human beings have shown it for half its life?

For 15 years, Jerry was a pet of Beliang Mandang who bought it for RM35 in Tebedu. Home for Jerry was a longhouse in Sri Aman. When the time came for Beliang to part from Jerry, Beliang was heartbroken.

It seems tragic that the love of Beliang and his wife for Jerry had poisoned Jerry to the extent that it had to be rehabilitated.

When Jerry’s story and photo appeared on the front page of The Star last month, it caused quite a buzz. Not many people have seen a rhinoceros hornbill or burung kenyalang, much less one that is breathing.

You usually have a better chance of seeing one after a taxidermist has done his job, rather than in the wild. Not surprisingly, our reporter who wrote the story received several emails enquiring about Jerry and where it was now.

Jerry is at the Matang Wildlife Centre. It will be released into the wild when it can fend for itself, but the jungles today are not the same as when it was caught more than a decade ago.

Of the 12.4 million hectares in Sarawak, there is only 512,390ha where Jerry can be safe. Even then, the land is distributed over 18 national parks, four wildlife sanctuaries and five nature reserves, and not all the habitats are suitable for a rhinoceros hornbill, the largest species of hornbill.

Whether that tree with the hollow in which Jerry was hatched from an egg, and where its parents had cared for it, is still standing, nobody knows. What’s for sure is that Jerry and others like it are rare in Sarawak and desperately need human intervention to ensure their survival.

There are some who argue about whether Beliang was right in handing Jerry over to Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC). After all, he had cared for the bird for more than a decade and done a good job.

Beliang, however, did not have a choice. If he had not surrendered Jerry. a protected animal, he could have been fine RM25,000 or spent two years behind bars under the state’s Wild Life Protection Ordinance.

Let’s hope then, for Jerry’s sake, that the people at SFC will do a better job than Beliang.

The affinity of Sarawakians for the rhinoceros hornbill is expected.

We live in the Land of the Hornbill and the bird is in our state emblem. It is revered by ethnic groups in the state, particularly the Iban and Kayan.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Rhinoceros hornbill at Matang Wildlife Centre
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MAD musical cast make a difference at Rainforest fest

CAST members of the Make A Difference (MAD) musical to be held at the Youth Rally on July 23 recently had a pleasant respite from the intensive rehearsals they have had over the past two months.

Rather than having a leisurely time at the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF), they decided to give a preview of their performance.

Needless to say, the festival goers were surprised by a lively performance of Shakira’s Fifa World Cup theme song Waka Waka.

Performing on all three days, their energetic show attracted a big crowd of spectators who cheered, sang and danced along.

The performance was a publicity blitz for the Youth Rally organised by the Social Development and Urbanisation Ministry.

Cassandra Robert from Sabah, a student of Limkokwing Borneo, relished the opportunity to perform at RWMF.

“It is my first time at the festival and I never knew it would be so fantastic,” she said.

“I had so much fun performing and attending the workshops during the day and the concerts at night.”

For the cast from Tunku Putra International School, performing at the festival was an amazing opportunity to get to know each other.

“We had a lot of fun at the festival and having the opportunity to perform was an added bonus,” said Abbey Jones.

Another student, Sharon Lugun said: “I have been part of RWMF for many years and even performed as a member of Kan’id, a Kelabit world music group.

Continue reading at: MAD musical cast make a difference at Rainforest fest
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Global cuisine in Kuching

THE new Raintree Restaurant at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) promises a new dining experience for city folk with its global cuisine and views overlooking Sarawak River.

The restaurant, which was launched last Saturday, offers quality, value-for-money food in a beautifully-designed space at one end of the centre. It can be accessed from indoors or through an outdoor garden.

BCCK chairman Datuk Raziah Mahmud-Geneid said the Raintree’s concept of global cuisine emphasises the combination of ethnic ingredients with classic French cooking techniques and Japanese food presentation skills.

“We have brought together a team of professionals with experience in international hotels and restaurants in Kuching, Peninsular Malaysia and overseas,” she said.

Describing the Raintree as “another piece in the BCCK jigsaw,” she said it would not only serve guests and delegates attending events at the centre but also provide a welcome addition for city folk with a preference for fine dining.

“We have a unique design in a unique setting, serving some of the best food in Kuching and a magnificent view over Sarawak River,” she added.

Continue reading at: Global cuisine in Kuching
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Sarawak Regatta gets RM50,000 sponsorship

MIRI: JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corporation (Nippon Oil) yesterday presented a sponsorship of RM50,000 to the Ministry of Tourism and Heritage for the Sarawak Regatta.

Its managing director Hideki Kitagawa handed over the sponsorship to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan.

Kitagawa said the sponsorship was part of Nippon Oil’s corporate social responsibilities (CSR) adding that the company wanted to contribute to Sarawak’s efforts in promoting local cultures and products, education and other areas.

The company felt that the Sarawak Regatta, to be held from July 30 with local and foreign participants, would directly promote racial harmony, greater understanding of cultural diversity and promote the tourism industry.

In an update on the company’s current 2D seismic acquisition programme for SK333, Kitagawa said with the support from government and local communities, the programme, which started in May 2009, had proceeded smoothly and was expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year as scheduled.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sarawak Regatta gets RM50,000 sponsorship
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AirAsia offers special ‘Just-for-Two’ deals

Low-cost carrier AirAsia is offering special fares for two guests as part of its innovative marketing campaign enabled by new features incorporated in the airline's new reservation system.

Under the special "Just for Two" deal, two passengers for domestic flights will be able to travel for as low as RM50 while two passengers on international flights can travel for as low as RM100, both for one-way travel.

Passengers can book online at www.airasia.com or mobile.airasia.com from July 19 to July 25, 2010 for travel between Aug 2 and Nov 15 2010, the company said in a statement Monday.

AirAsia is also offering an Early Bird Promotion for travel next year where guests can book tickets between July 19 and July 25 to make their journey between February 14 and May 8, 2011.

Continue reading at: AirAsia offers special ‘Just-for-Two’ deals
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

More MAS Flights From Sabah To Japan By Year End

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will operate more flights to Japan from Sabah, including a new destination from Kota Kinabalu to Haneda Airport, south of Tokyo, from Nov 15.

MAS will also increase its current six weekly flights to Kansai International Airport, 50km from Osaka city, to eight weekly from Jan 15 next year, comprising six weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur and twice weekly from Kota Kinabalu.

Its senior general manager (Commercial Strategy) Amin Khan said there would be three weekly flights from Kota Kinabalu to Haneda Airport -- at 4.35pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which would complement the airline's existing 11 weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur to Narita International Airport.

We are confident that these services will be well received as the new flights into Haneda Airport will provide customers with easier and speedier access into the city of Tokyo," he said in a statement issued here Sunday.

Continue reading at: More MAS Flights From Sabah To Japan By Year End
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Turning Borneo Cultural Festival into an international tourist attraction

SIBU: Double your efforts and make the Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) known not only nationally but internationally as well.

That’s the message from Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh after noting that the BCF had gained prominence at the state level.

“Sustainable efforts, such as marketing the event on the world wide web (WWW), have attracted the attention of foreign tourists from the United States, Britain, South Korea and Japan to the ‘Pandaw Cruise’.

“Perhaps, with more publicity, we can attract foreign tourists to come for the BCF,” he said at the launching of BCF Tradex 2010 in Sibu Town Square Phase II on Friday.

Wong, who is also Minister of Environment and Public Health, noted that the BCF had been able to promote racial unity and cultural diversity.

On the BCF Tradex, Wong commended the organiser for continuing with the green campaign to safeguard the environment against global warming.

In his speech, organising chairman David Tiong said he had no doubt that the weird weather patterns in recent years were the result of global warming.

He lamented that whenever green activists championed the issue, not many people pay heed to it.

“But with what is happening around the world today, including natural disasters, we now know that something is really wrong.

“That is why this year we want to continue our green campaign which was launched last March, themed ‘Only One Earth’.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Turning Borneo Cultural Festival into an international tourist attraction
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Kinabalu to be benchmark for national parks

KOTA KINABALU: The Tourism Ministry intends to use Kinabalu National Park as the benchmark for a quality rating system for other national parks.

Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen said the rating would be a useful guide for foreign tourists and a way to improve the quality and management of parks.

“We hope all our national parks will also have the same high quality as Kinabalu National Park,” she said during a product inspection at the national park yesterday.

Dr Ng said she was impressed by the park and congratulated Sabah for its maintenance and management.

Continue reading at: Kinabalu to be benchmark for national parks
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Central Borneo culture on display at Rainforest World Music Festival

KUCHING: The annual Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) was extra special this year thanks to the display of indigenous culture from Central Borneo on the festival grounds.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia social development advisor Cristina Eghenter said a range of high quality highland products such as Adan rice, mountain salt, wild cinnamon, indigenous handicrafts and musical instruments were displayed and sold during the festival.

“Cultural performances and poster exhibitions in and around the booth captured the beautiful landscape and culture of the land of Formadat (Forum of the Indigenous Peoples of the Highlands of Borneo) as well as promote eco-tourism destinations in the highlands.

“Music and lyrics have the capacity to bind people together with a shared understanding or vision. In many ways this is exactly what Formadat represents,” she said.

Through RWMF, Formadat hoped to raise awareness of its existence within the community as well as its vision and commitment to protect and sustainably develop the common cultural heritage and land that lies within both Malaysia and Indonesia in the Heart of Borneo (HoB).

Eghenter said among the ways was through performances by the Dayak community, which portray a strong image of rainforest diversity.

The booth was set-up through collaboration between Formadat – a grassroots, cross border, organisation representing the indigenous people of the highlands, WWF-Malaysia and WWF-Indonesia.

Formadat was established by the main ethnic groups in the area — the Lun Bawang, Lun Dayeh, Sa’ban and Kelabit – who number around 25,000, 75 per cent of whom are on the Indonesian side of the border.

The Borneo Highlands, which comprise the sub-districts of Krayan Selatan and Krayan in East Kalimantan (Kaltim province, Indonesia); Bario, Ba’Kelalan and Long Semado in Sarawak; and Long Pasia in Sabah constitute one geographic, environmental and cultural land inhabited by people who share a common origin.

WWF said in a press statement that the HoB initiative aims to assist Borneo’s three governing nations (Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia) to conserve the area through a network of protected areas and sustainably managed forests as well as through international cooperation led by the Bornean governments.

HoB is the only remaining place in South East Asia that still holds huge tracts of continuous pristine forest.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Central Borneo culture on display at Rainforest World Music Festival
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Sarawak needs to reinvent to draw tourists

LUNDU: Something new and different to attract more tourists had to be found although ethnic culture, hospitality and friendliness have been major selling points in the tourism sector for years.

Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said this when officiating at the ‘Pesta Lundu-Sematan 2010’ at the waterfront here yesterday.

Taib said: “The state’s main advantage in tourism is ecotourism. We provide relaxation and stress relief for our tourists here.”

On the need to reinvent to create ‘something new’ to draw tourists, he suggested that assets such as culture and the way of life of the people of Sarawak could be ‘tweaked a little bit’ to suit the tastes and preferences of foreign visitors.

“For example, some foreign tourists could not handle spicy delicacies. Maybe we could lessen the spiciness a little. Western tourists are used to bathe in hot water (due to their weather), therefore all our ‘homestays’ or tourist accommodation could provide hot water,” Taib said.

As for handicrafts, maybe they could be made smaller for ease of handling when boarding a plane, he added.

He said Sarawak had a lot of heritage that could be introduced to the world, but the question was how to get more people to come and admire the sites.

Taib said various activities and programmes could be created to complement the beautiful scenery in the state.

“They could incorporate tourists’ favourite activities. We could organise events that appeal to them. Tourism enables small areas like Sematan-Lundu to develop. The beauty of tourism is that it brings the market to us,” he said.

He suggested the holding of festivals as a way to boost local tourism.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sarawak needs to reinvent to draw tourists
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Friday, July 16, 2010

The Green Connection in preserving Borneo's biodiversity

KOTA KINABALU: What used to be a vacant swamp area five years ago is now the home to over 1,200 native species of Borneo's vast biodiversity, from sharks and stingrays to non-poisonous snakes and frogs.

The swamp today is part of The Green Connection, an aquarium and science discovery centre that opened its doors to the public on May.

It is more than just your usual eco theme park run by profit-oriented organisations, it is a conservation and education centre set up and operated by concerned conservationists and the Sabah Foundation.

Located about 2.5km from the city centre, this centre aims to promote environmental awareness by showcasing the land and marine biodiversity of Borneo and highlighting both the threats they face and the need to conserve them.

Visitors who come here will journey into the ecosystems that can be found in Borneo and explore the vast biodiversity contained within.

HOW IT STARTED

Prof Steve Oakley, a marine biologist for the last 25 years, is among the pioneers of the centre. Oakley, the technical director of the centre, who hails from England has been residing in Malaysia for the last 15 years, and has worked in 28 countries to date.

"Many years ago, a few concerned conservationists who worked for me at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak's (Unimas) Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation carried out numerous studies on coral reef degradation in Sabah and Sarawak.

"Once we found out the source of the problem, we started looking for the solution. And the solution is to create marine protected areas ....but that's the government's job like regulating and controlling destructive fishing, not really the role of an NGO," he said in an interview with Bernama.

"So instead we adopted an approach similar to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), whereby we started rejuvenating coral reefs, rescuing sharks, stingrays and snakes...

“So the next logical step is to open a conservation facility like the one you see here today," he added.

NO EASY FEAT

However, it was no easy feat as it took five years to create the place and raise money for the RM12mil project.

They were then lucky to meet a partner with similar goals, the Sabah Foundation (YS) that is now the major shareholder of Aquatica Aquarium and Discovery Centre Sdn Bhd, the company that owns The Green Connection.

"We went looking for partners with the same objectives to set up the facility. YS' first objective is education, ours is also education, so we agree completely," said Oakley.

Continue reading at: The Green Connection in preserving Borneo's biodiversity
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Borneo Cultural Fest to kick off tonight in Sibu

SIBU: A parade featuring nine contingents will be the curtain raiser to this year’s Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) that begins tonight.

Second Finance Minister and Minister of Environment and Public Health Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh will lead the parade tonight at 7pm at the Chuang Corridor.

The contingents are the flags contingent, army band, distinguished guests, Tradex, Dayak group, Malay/Melanau group, Catholic High School brass band, Chinese group and lion/dragon dance troupes.

The various communities joining the parade will showcase their traditional costumes.

The BCF, which ends on July 25, is an annual event organised by the Sibu Municipal Council.

Council’s deputy chairman Daniel Ngieng told a press conference yesterday that he expected the event to bustle up the town.

He said immediately after the parade, the official opening ceremony would be held at the Town Square phase II about 8pm.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo Cultural Fest to kick off tonight in Sibu
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Top folk dancers for Sabah International Festival

KOTA KINABALU: Folk dance enthusiasts are in for a treat as some of the best international folk dance performers are coming to Kota Kinabalu for the 5th Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF).

Currently, the countries which have confirmed their participation are Latvia (Ceiruleits) India (Tanjore dance music & arts research centre), Kazakhstan (Shalkyma), Taiwan (Ou yang hui-chen art dance company, Thailand (Bundit-Pattanasilpa Institute), the Philippines (South Cotabato performing arts ensemble), Saudi Arabia (Arts and Culture association group), Indonesia (Sanggar Ayudha), China (Guangzhou Returned Overseas Chinese Association), Romania (Calusarii), Uzbekistan (Mavrigi dance and song ensemble), Libya (general body of equestrian, theatre and arts of Libya), Eygpt (Al-Wadi Al- Gadid folklore team), Sri Lanka (Ranranga dancing company) and Singapore (People’s Association talent).

The festival proper will kick off with the local folk dance competition over two days at the Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang on July 21-22.

Groups from all over the state will hit the stage first as a prelude to the main festival where ensembles from 15 countries will be performing at the same venue from July 24 to July 25.

A premier show will be held on July 24 at the Magellan Hotel at Sutera Harbour in Kota Kinabalu.

Prior to the competitions the foreign dance troupes will be making promotional appearances at several schools and shopping malls across the state capital as well as attend technical briefings.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Top folk dancers for Sabah International Festival
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Sarawak Museum - 100 years of oil in Sarawak

SARAWAK Museum will hold the Grand Old Lady Centenary Celebration at the Petroleum Museum on Canada Hill in Miri on Aug 7.

Many fringe activities have also been lined up to enliven the celebration.

Sarawak Museum deputy director Dr Charles Leh, in announcing this in Miri yesterday, said that Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud was scheduled to launch the event.

Miri is the first location where oil exploration began in Malaysia. The first well on Canada Hill known as the Grand Old Lady is a symbol of oil exploration in Sarawak.

“We have to promote and understand our heritage before we build a love for it,’’ said Leh.

The theme for this year’s event is Miri, a Green City, Heritage and History.

Leh said that Sarawak Museum would host the event in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism Heritage, Sarawak Shell Bhd, Petronas Sarawak and Miri City Council.

Among the highlights will be the Centenary Race, popularly linked to The Amazing Race reality television show.

Leh said that each team in the race would have a maximum of four participants in a car and they would race to destination.

“Along the way, they will have to answer riddle-type historical questions for which they will be given marks. There will be five questions and 10 check points leading to the final destination.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Museum - 100 years of oil in Sarawak
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

AirAsia to fly 2X daily from KL to Brunei


By Achong Tanjong

Good news for travellers!

AirAsia has announced it will have two daily flights from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Brunei Darussalam, from August 25, 2010 onwards.

To celebrate AirAsia's new daily flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bandar Seri Begawan, the airline is offering "all-in-fares" from as low as RM29 (for a one way ticket) for the travel period between August 25, 2010, and May 8, 2011.

According to a press release from AirAsia, travellers will be able to book this "ultra-low" fare online at www.airasia.com between July 14 and July 25.

"Increasing the frequency for flights to Brunei reiterates AirAsia's commitment to enhance connectivity in the Asean region," said Kathleen Tan, AirAsia's Regional Head of Commercial.

"The introduction of this additional morning flight to Brunei will enable business travellers to have the convenience of a day trip to Brunei for meetings and vice versa, thus fuelling the economy expansion of both Brunei and Malaysia and increasing foreign direct investments," she added.

According to Kathleen, places of interest in Brunei such as the Royal Regalia Building, Jerudong Park Playground and Jame' 'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque will continue to draw in visitors.

AirAsia also flies daily to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

In conjunction with the additional daily flight to Brunei, customers can also enjoy special promotions for holiday packages to the Sultanate such as a three-day, two-night stay in Brunei (including a return air ticket) from as low as RM202 per person. To learn more about this promotion, visit www.airasiago.com

AirAsiaGo.com offers guests personalised holiday packages with more than 70,000 hotels worldwide and over 5,000 tours and activities.

For real-time updates and promotion updates, guests can stay connected with AirAsia via Facebook at www.facebook.com/AirAsia and on Twitter via www.twitter.com/AirAsiaDotCom. For more information, visit www.airasia.com.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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21 Villages In Sarawak Offering 19 Types Of Homestay Programmes

SIBU -- Twenty-one villages in the state are now offering 19 types of homestay programmes under the guidance of the federal Tourism Ministry.

However, the ministry would like more to participate, state director of Tourism Malaysia Ahmad Johanif Mohd Ali said here Wednesday.

They could get the registration form from the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Heritage Sarawak, 2nd Floor, Bangunan Baitul Makmur, Medan Raya, 93050 Petra Jaya, Kuching or call 082-319313 to do so.

Ahmad Johanif said this when closing a three-day basic homestay course organised by Tourism Malaysia.

Thirty-seven participants from Dalat, Mukah, Bintulu, Sebuyau, Kanowit and Sibu took part in the course.

Of the number, 33 are new and four are already homestay hosts or coordinators.

Continue reading at: 21 Villages In Sarawak Offering 19 Types Of Homestay Programmes
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sabah tourism should learn from Balinese

KOTA KINABALU: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun called on the people to see themselves as players in the tourism industry and to be ambassadors for its growth. Citing Bali as an example, he said Sabah had better beaches or forests than Bali, but it was the attitude of the Balinese who integrated themselves into the industry that made tourists flock to the island instead of Sabah.

From greeting people to maintaining their rich cultural heritage, Masidi said it was a clear manifestation of the Bali people’s desire to be part of the tourism industry.

“In Bali, the people feel that they are the ministers of tourism. They want the industry to grow by becoming a conscious part (of the industry).

“The problem in Sabah is that we don’t care.”

He said that to the media during the international conference of “How to Successfully Design and Implement Master Plans for Sustainable Tourism Development” here yesterday.

“When we feel ourselves as a player in the tourism industry even though we are not in the business, the industry will grow.

“Eventually it is not about the physical products but how people treat foreigners; that’s a very important component of the tourism industry.”

Masidi further stressed the need for quality products and services, saying that he had received complaints from tourists not getting what they were promised or being given inferior products.

“We can have the infrastructure and hotels, but if our service is poor and dishonest, it will just be an one-off transaction.”

Continue reading at: Sabah tourism should learn from Balinese
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Low count on Sarawak homestay

THE homestay business in Sarawak is still at its lowest.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said there were only 19 villages with homestay operators throughout the state and most were unsuccessful.

Of the 19 villages, she revealed that only five homestays were considered active.

“The relevant tourism bodies in Sarawak ought to sit down, study this and report back to the ministry so that we know what is lacking and should be improved. This applies for all tourism products in the state aside from homestays,” she said during a stop-over at Homestay Santubong near Kuching on Sunday.

Ng said her ministry supported homestays as it not only promoted the greening of the earth through its “Plant a tree” programme but also shares with the world the Malaysian culture and lifestyle.

“Homestay is part of our nation building as its ambition is to bring tourism to rural areas and develop the economy in the area. It was found that one-third of tourists want authenticity and homestays provide this,” she explained.

Dr Ng said for a homestay to work, the most important thing operators need to pay attention to is cleanliness and hygiene.

Continue reading at: Low count on Sarawak homestay
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Sabah Tourism Master Plan 2011–2025 by IDS

KOTA KINABALU: Institute of Development Studies will be formulating the second Sabah Tourism Master Plan (STMP) which will be used to guide tourism development in the state from 2011 to 2025.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun said in his keynote address on ‘Tourism Master Plans: Roles, Opportunities, Issues and Challenges” at the conference entitled “How to Successfully Design and Implement Master Plans for Sustainable Tourism Development” yesterday that his ministry has already commissioned IDS to review the present STMP which will end this year.

The first STMP was implemented in 1995.

According to Masidi, the STMP needs to be updated in order to bring tourism development to the next level that is current with changes occurring regionally and globally.

The update would also help enhance strategies recommended in order to meet and address the multiple challenges and changes occurring universally within and outside the industry which impact on Sabah’s tourism industry and development.

“The principal objective of the second STMP is to formulate a strategic development plan for tourism in Sabah to bring the industry to the next level of value added and long-term sustainable growth. This would involve the utilisation and management of Sabah’s tourism resources to benefit a wide range of stakeholders that includes tourism players and rural communities, and also to contribute significantly to Sabah’s economy,” he said.

Sabah is among the few states in the country that has a Tourism Master Plan.

Prior to the implementation of the STMP in 1994, Sabah’s foreign tourist arrivals stood at only 98,535. The state also had limited range of tourism products and corresponding infrastructure at the time.

The STMP recognises both the strength and weaknesses of Sabah tourism resources and their management and recommended strategic management options and directions to optimise appropriate development, he explained.

Continue reading at: Sabah Tourism Master Plan 2011–2025 by IDS
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Seven performers thrill crowd on final day of 13th RWMF

KUCHING: Seven performers namely, Pingasan’K of Sarawak, Minuit Guibolles (France), Layatharanga (India), Musafir Gypsies (Rajasthan), Watussi (Columbia/Australia) and Leila Negrau (Reunion Island) mesmerised the audience at the final day of the 13th Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF).

Each of them combined various instruments and unique techniques to create high quality music to the delight and amazement of the crowd that gathered in front of the stage at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong near here.

Pingasan’K is a group of Biannah Bidayuh musicians from Annah Rais Longhouse of the upper Padawan region in Sarawak that was specially formed to revive their traditional music and instruments.

According to them during a press conference on Sunday, their instruments are made from a section of bamboo found almost exclusively in the upper Padawan mountains.

The strings are formed by pulling up part of the bamboo peel and placing small bridges beneath.

Layatharanga of India which performed Indian Classical Music said in their country it would be a must for all ethnics to preserve their respective classical music.

“Classical music should come from the heart of the musician, those who listen to it not only get entertained but touched by the message which seems to come from the music,” its spokesman said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Seven performers thrill crowd on final day of 13th RWMF
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Sabah needs to show its cultural richness for tourists to return

KOTA KINABALU -- There is a need for Malaysians to exhibit their rich culture and traditions for tourists to return for new scenes and experiences.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said if Malaysians did not value and practise their own culture, it would be possible for the number of international tourist arrivals this year to drop compared to 23.6 million last year.

"Last year was the hardest year for the global tourism industry, but Malaysia was fortunate. In fact, our tourist arrivals increased.

"One reason was the political uncertainty in neighbouring Thailand and many tourists shifted their holiday plans to Malaysia.

"But now Thailand's situation is getting better and they (tourists) may revert to holidaying there instead of here and this could also hurt Sabah's tourism industry," he told reporters before presenting a keynote address at an international conference on tourism development, here, Monday.

The conference on "How to successfully design and implement master plans for sustainable tourism development" was earlier officiated by the Foreign Minister's political secretary Datuk Norhaidi Che Dan.

Masidi said if Malaysia's tourism industry did not improve its products and services, it would be unlikely for the country to meet the 24 million target in international arrivals, expected to generate RM54 billion in tourism receipts this year.

Continue reading at: Sabah needs to show its cultural richness for tourists to return
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Rainforest World Music Fest exposes Sarawak’s diverse cultures

THE Rainforest World Music Festival never fails to entertain.

After four days and three nights of performances, there’s little to fault organisers.

Sure, there were reports in the local media of poor promotion and slow ticket sales during the run-up to this year’s event, but last minute sales and discounts proved rather successful.

In the end, what really became a problem was transportation, due to the capacity crowds, especially on Saturday.

Queues for shuttle vans back to Santubong Resort, about 3km away, the only place where public parking was allowed, were long.

Some attendants waited more than an hour for the service. Outside of minor issues like this, the festival has been growing from strength to strength.

Allround praises should go to former Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Gracie Geikie for her feat, while the present CEO Datuk Rashid Khan’s efforts and ideas for future events are encouraging.

The annual Rainforest weekend at the Sarawak Cultural Village incorporates not just music but also an arts and craft bazaar. It provides revellers another venue to learn about Sarawak’s many indigenous cultures.

Already there are plans for a food festival to be held at Kuching next year, which could last up to one week, taking place immediately after the music fest.

But the musical event will continue to be promoted as the main draw.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Rainforest World Music Fest exposes Sarawak’s diverse cultures
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Sarawak going for ‘food tourism’

THE organiser of the Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival will introduce another major event next year, which is likely to focus on the state’s native food.

“It would extend the ‘Rainforest’ brand name, and keep tourists within the state for longer,” Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan said, adding that planning for the new fest was in the early stages.

“Food is an area we strongly feel we should leverage on,” Rashid said, adding that other ideas include an overall cultural event.

“We want to have the fest after the musical weekend, and it would probably run for about a week’s period.”

Rashid said preliminary discussions have been positive, and suggestions have been made to stage it on Padang Merdeka in Kuching.

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