Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sarawak's Traditional Festival Kaul To Be Turned Into International Festival

MUKAH (Sarawak) -- Kaul, a traditional festival celebrated by the Melanau living along the coast of Sarawak, will be turned into an international fiesta, said Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

He said in the past, Kaul was a ritual practice of the Melanau before the advent of Islam and Christianity.

The festival has brought together the alluring culture and way of life of the Melanau, who used to fish for a living, he said at the launch of Kaul in Kala Dana here Saturday.

"By 2020, we want Kaul to be an international festival that could bring together all Melanau cultures such as music, songs, musical instruments and clothing as successful as the Rainforest World Music Festival (in Santubong)," he added.

Taib said more locals would be trained and equipped with skills on Melanau arts and culture to enable the new generation to the keep the tradition alive, well and flourishing.

He said Kaul should also keep in steps with changing times without stifling the unique cultural characteristics handed down through the ages.

Continue reading at: Sarawak's Traditional Festival Kaul To Be Turned Into International Festival
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Borneo Cultural Festival can be hosted by private sector

KUCHING: If political parties do not want to organise the Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) any more, the private sector should take it up, says the Sarawak Tourism Federation.

Its president Audry Wan Ullok said yesterday that the private sector could organise something similar to the recently-cancelled festival.

“Some people feel very strongly about the cancellation. For this year, there is not enough time left. By next year, however, I’m sure some in the private sector will be willing and prepared to organise it. You see, tourism is always private-sector driven, and in the first place, politics and economics should not mix. The only concern is budget constraints,” she said.

But the success of the recent Flip Flops Beach Carnival 2011 in Santubong near here was an example of the private sector’s capabilities, she added.

Although Audry expressed disappointment with the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) for scrapping the festival after the election, she said: “It is good for tourism people to get out of the mindset of government subsidies and government-initiated programmes”.

On Wednesday, SMC said the festival was cancelled because voters had rejected the Sibu Barisan Visionary Team, which comprised mostly SUPP veterans, during the 10th state polls.

“It’s a shame they feel like that,” Audry said.

On state DAP chairman and Bukit Assek assemblyman Wong Ho Leng’s proposal for the Opposition help to organise the festival, Audry said the federation would welcome help from any party.

“My personal opinion is that it really doesn’t matter (where help comes from) as long as such events help drive the local economy,” she said.

Elaborating on the SMC’s cancellation, she said the loss of the festival was more of a loss for local businesses.

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AirAsia to re-impose fuel surcharge starting 3 May

Low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd has finally succumbed to the pressure of persisting high fuel prices and will re-introduce fuel surcharge ranging from RM10 to RM30 per flight after having abolished its fuel surcharge policy in late 2008.

AirAsia said in a statement yesterday the surcharge would be imposed starting May 3 for all domestic and international routes. All flight bookings made before May 3 are not affected.

AirAsia said it needed to re-introduce fuel surcharge to offset against escalating jet fuel prices, which have exceeded US$140 per barrel.

All domestic flights and international flights under two hours will be imposed with a RM10 fuel surcharge per way, RM20 (one way) for flights between two and three hours and RM30 (one way) for flights above three hours.

Meanwhile, long-haul affiliate AirAsia X will impose fuel surcharge ranging from RM50 to RM90 per way depending on destination.

Continue reading at: AirAsia to re-impose fuel surcharge starting 3 May
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Bringing Sabah, Sarawak Culture To International Stage

KOTA KINABALU -- The Information Communication and Culture Ministry seriously plans to take Sabah and Sarawak culture to the international stage in the form of quality and interesting animation, documentary and feature films.

Its minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Rais Yatim said the move was in line with the government's vision of seeing this country exporting animation, documentary and feature films each year.

"This means we must find ways to make interesting dramatisation of stories from Sabah and Sarawak that are worth for the export market," he said after opening the Borneo Culture and Heritage Seminar at the Lembaga Tabung Haji Building, here Thursday.

Rais said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) provided allocations to help achieve the ministry's mission of selling Sabah and Sarawak's image through films.

"This year, I had discussed with MCMC for part of the expenditure allocation be given for the production of animation, documentary and feature films.

"We are giving Sabah and Sarawak special attention as these places could appeal to the world as they evoke romanticism with stories based on humanity, and we can also use such taglines as 'The Land Below The Wind' (referring to Sabah)."

Rais hoped that all quarters could work together to relive the stories based on Sabah and Sarawak's history and the people's way of life, including of the young generation, through films.

He said his ministry was also working with various bodies to ensure that the culture and traditions of the various ethnic groups in the two states would not become extinct.

Continue reading at: Bringing Sabah, Sarawak Culture To International Stage
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Sabah's Borneo Bird Festival gaining popularity

SABAH’s Borneo Bird Festival (BBF) is gaining popularity, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

“The number of bird watchers attending the three-day event doubled last year to 3,000, comprising local and foreign visitors, compared to 2009’s 1,500 people,” he told the House in response to a question by Elopura assemblyman Au Kam Wah.

Introduced two years back, the event which is held at the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC), aims at luring bird watchers, both domestic and abroad, to learn the species of birds in Sabah.

There are 742 bird species in Malaysia, with 540 species found in Sabah.

The BBF is widely promoted and has attracted bird watchers from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Philippines as well as members of bird watching clubs from this region.

Continue reading at: Sabah's Borneo Bird Festival gaining popularity
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Sarawak local tourism industry needs more manpower

KUCHING: Permanent secretary of Tourism and Heritage Ministry Datuk Ik Pahon revealed that the local tourism industry needs more manpower to boost the industry and to achieve its target of recording 36 million tourists arrival nationwide.

Pahon said that the tourism industry focused on three Ps, which stands for People, Promotion and Product.

“However, there is a lack of human resources, especially foreign language speaking tourist guides,” he said during the signing of Memorandum Of Agreement between UCSI University and Grand Magherita and Riverside Majestic hotel here yesterday.

He said the industry needs more people with language abilities, experience and knowledge, in order to reach Sarawak’s target of having four million tourists this year.

He disclosed: “We are targeting to receive 36 million tourists nationwide by 2020. There is a need to upgrade the people’s competency, service, and quality, especially in hotel and hospitality as well as public transport services.”

He added that from January to February this year, the number of tourists visit had increased compared to last year, with foreign tourists arrival recorded an increase of 16 per cent and domestic at nine per cent.

On this note, UCSI has launched its Diploma in Hotel Management with work-based learning modules which will commence this coming May with its first intake of 25 students.

The partnership between UCSI and leading hotels will require the diploma students to undergo a total of 10 months training with the hotel of their preference, to ensure students are equipped with the best artillery for the industry when they face the real working world.

Continue reading at: Sarawak local tourism industry needs more manpower
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Tourism players call for Borneo Cultural Festival to be retained

SIBU: Taken aback by the abrupt scrapping of the Borneo Cultural Festival, tourism players here called on Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) to either retract its decision or entrust NGOs to organise the event.

This was because the local tourism industry was just starting to take off with the coming of another low cost carrier, slated in July.

Local tour operators said the move had upset their plans and they suggested that NGOs such as United Chinese Association (UCA) take over from SMC to organise the festival.

“It is very sad and indeed I feel bad that BCF, among the biggest tourist attraction events in Sibu had been scrapped. The timing could not have been worse as FireFly is set to spread its wings here this July.

“What a pity that it has to turn out this way. Otherwise with the good air connectivity and competitive airfares, the event could have been effectively promoted as more tourists from the Peninsula would be enticed to come for the BCF,” managing director of Equitorial Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd Robert Tan told The Borneo Post yesterday, urging SMC to consider retracting its decision.

Tan argued that the better connectivity could have spurred more economic activities for the locals to cushion the higher cost of living, pointing out that the event ought to have been organised on a grander scale.

SMC during its council meeting on Wednesday, decided to scrap the event, which entered its ninth year.

Council chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King was reported to have said the decision was made with a heavy heart, given that majority of the local populace did not appreciate the work of the Sibu BN Visionary Team, compelling them to cancel the signature event.

Tan said BCF had become very popular with the locals and tourists alike, pulling out the ‘plug’ now would cause Sibu to further lag behind Kuching and Miri in terms of tourism products.

Continue reading at: Tourism players call for Borneo Cultural Festival to be retained
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sabah Fest 2011 - A Colourful Cultural Extravaganza

KOTA KINABALU: The annual Sabah Fest, a cultural extravaganza, the state’s largest and most colourful cultural event of the year is here again.

It started yesterday with the Cultural Extravaganza while the Premiere Show will be held today at the Magellan Grand Ballroom, Sutera Harbour Resort at 7pm.

The grand launching will be carried out by the Head of State Tun Datuk Seri Panglima Juhar Mahiruddin, who will be accompanied by his consort, Toh Puan Datin Seri Panglima Norlidah Datuk R.M Jasni at the Magellan Grand Ballroom of Sutera Harbour Resort at 8pm.

At a recent press conference, the Minister of Tourism and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun revealed that the 23rd edition of Sabah Fest will bring to the audience the story of ‘Papakang – The Odyssey of Seven Brothers’, a one-hour musical theatre-style production based on a local folklore of the legendary Nunuk Ragang.

Guests can hope to be entertained by a dazzling display of Sabah’s traditional songs and dances, as the legend unfolds.

The story is about the seven sons of the Nunuk Ragang, chief of Kampung Tompios in the district of Ranau, who coveted the mystical Papakang stone.

They looked for it but it was the youngest son, Aki Lintobon, who successfully retrieved it from the bottom of the river.

After he retrieved it however, the brothers squabbled over who would possess the stone.

Seeing this, their father smashed the stone into seven pieces and gave each son a piece, telling them that this would serve as a reminder of their identity as siblings and their origin.

As time passed, food became scarce in that area and famine began to beset the land.

They were more quarrels as they strived to survive.

They fought amongst each other and headhunting became rampant.

The people had no choice but to make an option; migrate and look for better land or risk starvation.

They took the latter and the the six older brothers led their people to different areas.

They began their journey towards other part of the land one day, holding on to the stone their father gave them so that they may identify their people in other parts of the land one day.

The youngest named Aki Lintobon, remained in Tompios and even as he watched his siblings walked away, he vowed to seek and reunite his brothers.

The years went by and one day Aki Lintobon decided that it was time to bring his family back together again and thus began the amazing journey of Aki Lintobon across the land to look for his family and the stone of Papakang.

Guests tonight will see the depiction of this journey through the drama and dance.

Continue reading at: Sabah Fest 2011 - A Colourful Cultural Extravaganza
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Exhibitions to enhance cultural experience at Sabah Fest

KOTA KINABALU: While the Sabah Fest 2011 performance nights will be a dazzling display of traditional dances and musical presentations, the Sabah Fest exhibition also to be held on April 30 and May 1 is set to feature Sabah’s unique craft creations, ethnic recipes and locally made products.

More than 30 booths comprising handicraft stalls, traditional food and beverages, Borneo pearls, batik and exquisite paintings of local artists will be at the foyer of the Magellan Grand Ballroom from 10am to 10pm to enrich the Sabah Fest 2011 experience.

This exhibition is open to the public for free.

Visitors will be exposed to the art of the locals and craft stalls are each manned by the Kadazandusun, Murut, Rungus, Bajau, Bajau Laut, Iranun, Lundayeh and Brunei Malay communities. They will be displaying and selling crafts unique to their culture.

This is a perfect time to see skilled crafts people at work and a chance to purchase hard-to-find items, from hand-woven baskets to intricately-carved Sea Bajau lepas (wooden boat replicas).

Beads-making specialist Nonjiring Mantuku from Kampung Tinangol in Kudat, who has been in this industry for 45 years, will also be presenting her works.

Textile lovers of traditional woven cloths of Dastar, Mugah and Sambitan will have the opportunity to meet well-known Hajah Pandian from Kota Belud, who has been in involved in the local tapestry industry for 50 years. She will be showing how these clothes are woven.

Another highlight of the two-day event is the food exhibition consisting of local cuisines, local snack or kuih-muih such as Kuih Cincin, Ampalang and Kekara.

Continue reading at: Exhibitions to enhance cultural experience at Sabah Fest
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Sabah Dragon Boat Race returns in June

KOTA KINABALU: The annual Sabah Dragon Boat Race is back for its 26th edition at Likas Bay here on June 18 and 19.

The Sabah Tourism Board, together with its wholly-owned subsidiary company, Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd and the Sabah Chinese Cultural Association (SCCA), continue to be at the forefront in organising this event as one of the State’s premiere events in order to promote the diverse culture found in Sabah as well as marketing the State as a preferred holiday destination.

Besides being popular among local teams, the Sabah Dragon Boat Race has also caught the attention of participants from other states in the country and also international teams.

Among the teams expected to participate are from Sarawak, Labuan, Penang, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia and Brunei Darussalam.

The organisers would like to urge participation from teams from the private sector such as banks, airlines and hotels, and also non-governmental organisations, in the event.

Dragon boating is an ideal platform for team building because it involves teamwork and discipline, other than being a fun activity.

Continue reading at: Sabah Dragon Boat Race returns in June
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France's Les Doigts de L’Homme at Borneo Jazz 2011

Come May 13, Les Doigts de L’Homme will be serving up their explosive and eclectic interpretation of gypsy music on the Borneo Jazz stage in Miri.

An incorporation of exciting up-tempo rhythms and elements of swing, rock and even punk-influenced scales, Les Doigts de L’Homme’s music is unmistakably authentic.

With influences of rock vibes and various traditional musical styles synonymous with the Balkan region, the band members will also be displaying top-notch musical skills and powerful showmanship, reaching beyond the limits to produce a refreshing new sound.

So make sure you don’t miss this chance to see them performing on stage.

For the opportunity to jam together or meet them personally, then be at the musical meetings.

Running from May 13 to 15, promotional tickets for Borneo Jazz 2011 are still available only online at www.ticketcharge.com.my until April 30.

Otherwise you can also purchase your tickets at any of Sarawak Tourism Board’s Visitors Information Centres located in Kuching, Sibu and Miri.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: France's Les Doigts de L’Homme at Borneo Jazz 2011
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Miri May Fest 2011 starts this Sunday

MIRI: Miri will become a vibrant and busy city when the month long Miri May Fest 2011 starts this weekend.

Miri Chinese Chess Association will start the May Fest with a three-day Open Chinese Chess Tournament at Boulevard Shopping Complex tomorrow. The tournament will be held at Level 3 of the shopping complex.

To promote petanque in the Miri division, Miri Division Petanque Association will organise a two-day tournament starting on April 30. The tournament will be held at the Petanque court near Petronas Games Village.

See Hua Marketing Sdn Bhd will also participate by organising a trade fair from April 30 to May 2 at Merdeka Mall.

In collaboration with Boulevard Shopping Mall, Modern Art Gallery, Wajar Art Tuition Centre and Century Art Gallery will be holding an Art Exhibition at Level 3 of the shopping complex from April 30 to May 2.

Sarawak Children’s Cancer Society will be organising a fund raising event on May 1 – One Heart, One Act ‘Go Bald – Help Kids Fight Cancer’ at Bintang Megamall.

Dog lovers should not miss the Piasau Animal Welfare Support’s (PAWS) Doggie Show from 1pm to 6pm at Bulatan Park on Sunday.

Continue reading at: Miri May Fest 2011 starts this Sunday
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kaamatan more than just Unduk Ngadau

Tuaran: The scope of Pesta Kaamatan celebration is more than just about the beauty of Unduk Ngadaus (beauty queens).

Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Infrastructure Development, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said Sunday, it is a meaningful occasion to foster unity and goodwill among all communities who partake of the celebration.

In an era of globalisation which is full of challenges, he said the Sodop Unduk Ngadau is one place where we can exchange notes, get acquainted with people and strengthen our relations in a cultural environment.

"This community-based activity creates a happy atmosphere for all Malaysians to promote friendship ties and mutual understanding.

"It reminds us of the beauty of our culture. That is why the theme of this year's celebration is 'Understanding Culture - Wise Forward Move'.

"Having 55 tables on this gala night is great. It is a good sign. On behalf of the State Government and the State-level Pesta Kaamatan Celebration Main Committee, I wish to express my appreciation to all the donors and sponsors who have contributed to the success of this event," he said when officiating at the Tuaran Sodop Unduk Ngadau (the district's first such event).

About 600 people attended the function held at Shangri-la's Rasa Ria Resort here.

Continue reading at: Kaamatan more than just Unduk Ngadau
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The first Sumazau dance of Kadazan newly-weds

Kota Kinabalu: Most Sabahans may think they have seen it all - the Kadazan Sumazau dance. But what about a specific dance called Sumazau mingkung - the first dance together for newly weds?

That could be new for many attending the Sabah Fest 2011 cultural extravaganza on April 30 and 1 May, at the Sutera Harbour Magellan Grand Ballroom.

For Kadazans of Penampang, the Sumazau Mingkung is a specific dance performed especially as a tribute to a newly-married couple.

On wedding day, the groom heads for the bride's house in a procession with the bridewealth (nopung) on hand.

On arrival, gongs beat and the nopung is taken from him, the bride appears at the entrance and the bobohizan (ritual specialist) uses a popodu - a bunch of five types of leaves to sprinkle water to perform a ritual called vokis, to bless the newly weds.

After the blessing, the couple place a foot each on a round stone called pampang at the bottom of the stairs while the bobohizan symbolically holds the conical hats called seraung, over their heads.

The stone and the hats symbolize strong and lasting marriage while the hats represent shields to protect them from evil on wedding day and thereafter.

After a few short mantras, the bobohizan would then enter the house.

In the house, the couple performs their first Sumazau dance together as a married couple with the bobohizan and other elders surrounding them, performing that specific dance called Sumazau mingkung.

Continue reading at: The first Sumazau dance of Kadazan newly-weds
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New airline connects Sabah and Hong Kong

Kota Kinabalu: Visitors from China and Hong Kong which grew four-fold within eight years, are expected to increase with the inaugural flight of the latest carrier, Hong Kong Airlines, last week.

Together with other airlines, flights connecting Kota Kinabalu to Hong Kong has increased to 21 flights per week.

Hong Kong Airlines flies to destinations beyond Hong Kong, including 10 cities in China such as Changsa, Haikou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Kunming, Guilin, Nanning, Beijing, Sanya and Shanghai. Currently Sabah has only one connection to China, through Shenzhen.

"The introduction of Hong Kong Airlines to Sabah is the much-needed connection between Sabah with Northern Asia," said Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin, Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board.

Continue reading at: New airline connects Sabah and Hong Kong
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707,458 tourists toured Labuan last year

LABUAN: Labuan is yet to enjoy tourism returns despite the huge spending to pay for tourism infrastructures.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Davos Mamit said only 707,458 tourists including 74,499 foreign visitors toured the island last year.

“Although the number of arrivals is increasing, the yields generated from the tourism industry have not been able to cover the money spent by the ministry to build tourism facilities on the island,” he said.

Dr James said that it was high time for the tourism players to introduce more tourism products especially in the area of marine tourism.

“We can use this platform to turn Labuan into main tourist destination,” he said in his speech at the opening of the national Water Festival held at the International Water Sports Complex here.

He said the annual water festival must be aggressively promoted so that it could be associated with Labuan.

This year, more than 540 participants are taking part in the Labuan International Sea Challenge and among them are teams from New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, India and Singapore.

Continue reading at: 707,458 tourists toured Labuan last year
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Make a Borneo Breakaway with fares as low as RM84

KUCHING: Fancy a quick getaway this coming Labour Day?

MASwings yesterday announced its Borneo Breakaway special promotion offering all-inclusive fares applicable to travel from Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Miri, Sibu and Sandakan to all its coverage destinations from as low as RM84.

This offer starts from April 25 to 29 with travel on its outbound journey to be made from April 27 to Jan 31, 2012 and the return leg must be completed by Jan 31, 2012.

Borneo Breakaway promotion is a two-day advance purchase offering attractive all inclusive fares from Kuching to Sibu from RM90, to Miri and Bintulu from RM114 and to MuIu from RM140 whereas from Miri to MuIu from RM88, to Limbang and Bintulu from RM88, to Labuan from RM92 and to Sibu from RM108.

Passengers from Kota Kinabalu will also enjoy fares from RM93 to Sandakan, RM95 to Lahad Datu, RM96 to Tawau, RM99 to Miri, RM103 to Labuan, RM123 to MuIu, RM138 to Bintulu and RM138 to Sibu.

A total of 300,000 seats are up for grabs during this promotion which mostly represent a discount of up to 70 per cent.

Continue reading at: Make a Borneo Breakaway with fares as low as RM84
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sea of shrinking sharks in Sabah waters

The shark population in the waters off Sabah is getting smaller and this is mainly due to shark finning activities.

DIVERS' logs in Sabah are beginning to show fewer sharks. “In 1996/97 when I first came here, we did a lot of surveys to see what the issues and problems were and what we could do about them,” says marine biologist Steve Oakley.

“In December last year and January this year, a group did a lot of dives around Sabah. We have taken their information as well as information from dive resorts around the coasts and have come up with a picture of how many sharks have been lost.”

According to Oakley, who set up the Green Connection Aquarium in Kota Kinabalu, a staggering 98% of the sharks that had been recorded from 1996 have been lost.

A quick Google search revealed that Malaysia is ranked among the top 10 countries in the world that contribute to the depletion of sharks.

Both the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) have determined that sharks need protection. Many countries including the US (Hawaii) have imposed a ban on shark fishing.

Over the past few years, the campaign has picked up with “Say No to Shark's Fin Soup” groups from various countries supporting each other over the Internet. Their aim is to discourage people from consuming the soup, the biggest contributor to shark depletion. They also seek to remind people about the sharks' role in the ecosystem of the ocean.

Recently, this effort became more urgent as divers off Mabul Island, another popular dive site near Sipadan off the coast of Semporna in Sabah, witnessed the regular killing of sharks.

When he heard this, Kirk Keong Lee, founder of the Facebook group “Save the Shark from a Bowl of Soup”, went to Mabul to see it for himself.

“It was 6.45pm when someone told me there was shark finning in one of the villages. I rushed over with my camera and managed to see six or seven sharks, about two metres long, on land and another four or five in the water that had already been finned.

“I took a few pictures and when I turned off the camera, one of the persons there who spoke English well told me not to share the photos because some people had said it (sharks finning) was illegal,” he says.

“The fishermen cut off the fin, head and teeth (jaw) and dumped the body into the sea.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sea of shrinking sharks in Sabah waters
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How to enjoy long haul flights

By AKG

A flight that takes more time than the usual number of working office hours is for me one of the most challenging experiences.

In my years of travelling, I am also sometimes required to go through more than three flight changes at a time and on different airlines.

Being on the run to catch flights for myself now is an enjoyable task.

What with the time changes in between the countries that I have visited, it can be hectic, due to the long hours and our body clock, which we have to change and adjust with environments new to us, never mind the lost sleep.

But, if you think about it, the perfect time to get lots of sleep is while onboard an airplane - although it might not be comfortable, unless you are sitting in first class or business.

With the changing of the times, every-one can now afford to travel, thanks to the revolution of crosscutting technologies that contribute to the economy and people making financially sound choices with regards to airplanes as well as improvements in comfort.

Airlines have actually been providing the most comfortable flying experiences for its customers.

Of course, travelling coach is minimal in comparison and can be uncomfortable at times.

I always imagine that I am sitting and watching a movie marathon in those airline seats that literally only fits the frame of my body!

So here I would like to share through my experience as a frequent traveller on how to enjoy long haul flights, even if you cannot afford the first or business class.

One of the first things that I always have prepared is my mindset; I get myself wanting to feel that being on an airplane for long hours is one of the most wonderful experiences, although there are always hiccups and not everything goes according to plan.

So how do I do it?

One thing is to prepare what you need to travel with - always be ready, always have good bags with you and don't rush on the way or when you arrive.

What I have observed is that many people would pack a lot of unnecessary things into their bags.

Most want to have their favourite music with them, thus bringing MP3 players in their carry-on bags.

This may strike them as a good decision at first but considering that airplanes do offer some entertainment, instead of having an MP3 player with you (which most of the time airhostesses would ask you to switch off anyway for safety reasons), just sit back and enjoy the show provided all the way.

Another thing that you should do before getting on flights is always drinking enough water or liquid.

This has been common practice for me, and most of my friends share the same view.

One could get dehydrated due to the dry air inside the airplane and the varying cabin pressures.

Even though food and beverages are served onboard airplanes, I always make sure that I eat at the airport before I depart, because not everyone likes airline food, and considering their portions...

Well, for me, the portion is never enough.

So, to be truly comfortable and to avoid asking the airhostesses for more food after they are served, do eat beforehand, as the airhostesses have a lot more to do and a lot of passengers to handle than to be pestered by a hungry passenger.

A tip on using the small TV screen in front of you:

When you want to take that much deserved nap, switch it off, as I find that it gives out a lot of heat and, believe me, when you are inside a small space, that heat can be a nuisance!

I remember waking up with a jolt from a comfortable sleep because of the heat that I felt.

The worst thing was that I was up and couldn't go back to sleep after this.

I had to wait the next five hours for our arrival.

Remember, your holiday starts when you are in the airplane.

Sleep while you can, and this is also, if not more, important if you are on a business trip.

Enjoy movies that you did not get a chance to watch before.

Airlines have now become outstanding with their entertainment packages and updated, too, so sit back, relax and enjoy that long haul trip.

Source: Borneo Bulletin
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Semporna Regatta Lepa Festival Elevates Bajau Culture

SEMPORNA -- The Regatta Lepa Festival which enters its 18th year this year will be able to raise the Bajau culture and heritage to a higher level, said Minister in the Sabah Chief Minister's Office Datuk Sri Nasir Tun Sakaran.

He said the Regatta Lepa Festival which showcased characteristics of the Bajau culture not only had high esthetic values, but was also marked in the national tourism calender as an annual tourism event.

"Continuous publicity by the government through the federal and state tourism ministry, as well as the private sector, has raised the festival's popularity to a reputable level," he said during the launch of the 18th Regatta Lepa Festival by Sabah Yang Dipertua Negeri, Tun Juhar Mahiruddin, yesterday.

For example, Nasir said dance performances, traditional costume fashion shows and traditional Bajau delicacies not only helped to preserve the culture of the community, but also introduce the culture to other communities.

Continue reading at: Semporna Regatta Lepa Festival Elevates Bajau Culture
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Need to upgrade and promote Beaufort's Startevich memorial to tourists

BEAUFORT: Beaufort member of parliament Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin wants the Startevich Memorial here to be upgraded and promoted as a tourism product to attract visitors, especially Australians.

Lajim also called on the Sabah Tourism Promotion Board (STPB) to develop a special package for tourists which will include a guided tour to the memorial site, in addition to other places of interest in Beaufort.

“STPB should come up with a package which allows tourists to stay here and visit the site so that they can learn about the history of this area,” he said to reporters yesterday when met after a service at the memorial site.

Startevich Memorial was erected to remember the gallantry of Australian soldier Private Leslie Thomas “Tom” Starcevich, who in the World War II single-handedly destroyed four enemy machine gun posts near to where the site is now.

Beaufort together with Weston played important roles during the Borneo campaign of 1945.

After the Australian Ninth Division re-captured Brunei and Labuan from the enemies, they turned their attention to mainland Sabah as part of the final phase of their campaign, with the re-capture of Weston and Beaufort amongst the main objectives of their advance.

During the capture of Beaufort, the leading section of Starcevich’s unit came under fire from Japanese machine-gun posts and had suffered casualties.

Starcevich, a Bren-gunner, moved forward and assaulted each post in turn, killing five enemies in the process and causing the rest to retreat.

When the section was held up again, Starcevich adopted a similar tactic and single-handedly captured two more posts disposing off seven enemies.

For his bravery, Starcevich who grew up and later lived at Grass Patch, north of Esperance, Western Australia, served as a private in the 2/43rd Battalion of the Australian Army and was awarded with the Victoria Cross (VC).

The ‘VC’ is the highest decoration for gallantry “in the face of the enemy” awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces.

Continue reading at: Need to upgrade and promote Beaufort's Startevich memorial to tourists
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Kite competition among Tops and Open Market (Gata) Festival attractions

KOTA KINABALU: A kite competition is among the attractions at the Sipitang Tops and Open Market Festival or Gata Festival on July 1-3.

Locally known as the Kekek Bagulut and Lawa, the programme will be carried out at the Esplanade Sipitang, which is also to be launched during the three-day event.

Part of the programmes will also be held at the Sipitang town field.

Organising chairman Datuk Sapawi Ahmad added that thousands of people are expected to throng the district for the Gata Festival which will also see other events, namely the Sipitang Tops 2011 (National and Borneo Invitational); Tamu Besar Sipitang 2011 (exhibition by the government and private agencies); Traditional Food Carnival 2011; Silat Gata 2011; Gata Tug-of-War 2011; Sukan Rakyat Gata 2011 and the Sipitang Gala Night 2011.

“We have extended an invitation to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to launch the festival which is being held for the fifth time.

“This will be a grand celebration for Sipitang and is the most awaited event not just for the locals as it is a good business opportunity for them, but also our foreign guests,” said Sapawi, who is also the Sipitang member of parliament.

He added that they hoped to promote Sipitang as a tourist destination for both domestic and foreign visitors; besides showcasing the culture and heritage of locals from the district.

Sapawi said since the introduction of the Gata Festival in 2003, they have seen an increasing number of people attending the event.

“Most of our foreign visitors are from Brunei and Kalimantan. We have recorded nearly 60,000 visitors, both domestic and from abroad, in line with our concept Daie Sipitang Kuan Biskita, which is a combination of three languages – Kadayan, Murut Lundayeh and Brunei, meaning From Sipitang For You,” he said.

Continue reading at: Kite competition among Tops and Open Market (Gata) Festival attractions
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival among 25 best international festivals

KUCHING: Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) has been voted for the second consecutive year into the Top 25 Best International Festivals by renowned world music magazine, Songlines.

This most recent award adds yet another feather in Sarawak Tourism Board’s cap and elevates the RWMF’s status on the international music scene as a festival that has truly put Sarawak on the world tourism map.

The RWMF joins the list along with Ulsan World Music Festival, Korea, Womad Adelaide Australia, Chicago World Music Festival, USA, Essaouira Gnawa & World Music Festival, Morocco, Forde Folk Festival, Norway to name but a few.

According to the editorial team at Songlines, the selection of festivals “represents some personal favourites of Songlines’ staff and contributors as we feel that what these festivals are doing complements what we’re interested in at Songlines”.

This year, the event will be held from July 8 to 10 at the Sarawak Cultural Village.

If you have not purchased your tickets to the festival, now is the time to do so as promotional tickets are now available online and selling fast.

Limited tickets for a 3-day pass to the festival will only cost RM260 during the promotional period whilst daily tickets for Friday and Sunday are going for RM85.

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Dutch sextet to perform at Borneo Jazz 2011 in Miri

KUCHING: State of Monc will be one of 10 acts featured at Borneo Jazz 2011 at Parkcity Everly Hotel, Miri from May 12-15. The Dutch sextet will perform on the main stage on May 14.

From the beautiful country of Holland, State of Monc creates an undeniable compelling vision of where jazz is going.

At the cutting edge of pumping dance, complex break-beats and more traditional jazz, the band built around Arthur Flink and Hielke Praagman spins a unique, new sound that ushers in a new era of its own.

A press release said State Of Monc has put the Netherlands firmly on the map of the future of jazz.

Within the last few years, the group has sold out at top clubs, rocked major festivals, and built a loyal audience internationally.

As children of the dance age trained in traditional jazz, State of Monc fuses a slick electronic sound with pure jazz on acoustic instruments with an almost deceptive ease.

State of Monc has a musical story to tell, which they do with amazing drive and variation, all the while toying with the balance between electronics, brass and acoustic bass and percussion.

Continue reading at: Dutch sextet to perform at Borneo Jazz 2011 in Miri
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dayak Film Industry Wants Tourism-related Initiatives

KUCHING -- The Dayak film industry wants the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) to introduce initiatives to create a friendly environment for film producers to assist the state's domestic tourism industry.

Film producer Museh Amba said the initiatives could include the setting up of a film commission as a marketing organisation to promote localities to the movie and television industries by publicising filming locations, crew members and services of the local areas.

"As film-makers, what we ask is just a simple recognition for our efforts", said Museh, who is BFG Media and Entertainment Production Sdn Bhd managing director.

Museh, who is currently working on his first feature film, "Dunya Gangster" at various locations in Bintulu and Miri, said Malaysian film productions normally focused on 80 percent outdoor shooting locations such as roadsides, beaches, resorts and other attractive tourist spots.

"Basically, it will help promote the places for the shooting to movie audiences," he said, adding that he was optimistic the company's effort to promote the two northern gateways would gain recognition from the local authorities such as the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) and Miri Municipal Council (MMC).

He was confident that Dunya Gangster, which he said was unique, would receive overwhelming response from movie audiences, particularly from the Dayak community throughout the state as it was the first Dayak-Iban action feature film.

Continue reading at: Dayak Film Industry Wants Tourism-related Initiatives
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RM9.6bil Karambunai Resort City plan

In Sabah, a consortium comprising Prism Crystal Enterprises Ltd, Tan Sri Dr Chen Lip Keong and group of companies together with landowners, Karambunai Corp Bhd and Petaling Tin Bhd, will develop the Karambunai Integrated Resort City (KIRC) with an investment of RM 9.6 billion.

Contributing a GNI of about RM9.319 billion by 2020 and creating about 11,002 jobs by then, this premier world-class ecotourism destination will leverage on Malaysia's competitive advantages in ecotourism and biodiversity, and feature tourism, health and eco-nature edutainment recreation facilities, he said.

This will also include a water theme park, water spectacles and fountain, cable car, mangrove research centre, harbour cruise, aqua and spa village amongst others.

Led by the Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (FAMA), the "Pasar Komuniti" initiative (PAKAR) is a concerted effort to co-ordinate and amalgamate them in location with better facilities.

Continue reading at: RM9.6bil Karambunai Resort City plan
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuaran to host the launch of the State-level Tadau Kaamatan festival

Tambunan: Tuaran will host the launching of the State-level Tadau Kaamatan this year on May 1.

However, Deputy Chief Minister cum President of Kadazandusun Murut Cultural Association (KDCA) Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said the traditional celebration of the KDM community has already started at village and mukim levels.

To this, he said the Kaamatan is traditionally held to enable the people or residents of a village living elsewhere to return home to unite with their families.

"It is also to remind them of their identities and the effort to preserve and conserve their culture," he said at the Mukim Monsorulung Kaamatan celebration recently.

The theme this year he said is "Cultural Understanding - The Way Forward", which also is a symbolic appreciation to kinorohingan (God).

As with previous celebrations, he said the event this year is to showcase the rich cultural heritage in Sabah.

He said there would be event such as sugandoi (singing) contest, Unduk Ngadau (beauty contest), traditional sports and also exhibition on agriculture and handcraft products.

In conjunction with the Kaamatan, he urged KDM community throughout Sabah to wear their respective traditional sub-ethnic costumes.

"We hope that the celebration this year will be aptly used to display the unique tradition and culture of the community in a locality," he said.

He said they should be proud wearing the traditional costumes because such display would also attract visitors to know more about KDM ethnic diversity.

Continue reading at: Tuaran to host the launch of the State-level Tadau Kaamatan festival
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Top Malaysia Expatriate Travel Award for Best Golf Resort for Sutera Harbour

Worldhotels affiliate Sutera Harbour Resort collected the ‘Best of Malaysia Travel Award 2010’ for Best Golf Course or Resort.

Its three championship courses at Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club are set against the spectacular backdrop of Mount Kinabalu, beside the South China Sea in Sabah.

The ‘Best of Malaysia Award’ is voted by readers of The Expatriate Lifestyle Magazine, Malaysia’s top lifestyle publication for expatriates.

Golf facilities at Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club include a splendid clubhouse with 41-bay driving range. It is also East Malaysia’s only course equipped for night golfing.

Previous accolades have included 2nd runner up for Best Golf Resort in Asia in the Asian Golf Monthly Awards 2008, Best Golf Resort Malaysia at HAPA 2007 and Malaysia’s Best Golf Resort at the 2006 World Travel Awards.

Sutera Harbour Resort Group earlier collected a series of honours in the 2010 Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards – including ‘Most Unique F&B Concept’ for its sunset cruise aboard the motor yacht Puteri Sutera.

Continue reading at: Top Malaysia Expatriate Travel Award for Best Golf Resort for Sutera Harbour
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Tourism Malaysia to design brochures to promote parks and garden in Miri

MIRI: Ministry of Tourism Malaysia will come up with a brochure, themed ‘Parks and Gardens Trail in Miri’, to promote the unique and beautiful landscape and nature here to be included in its Parks and Gardens of Malaysia programme.

Its minister Dr Ng Yen Yen was attracted by Miri city’s parks and gardens during a recent visit to Miri and believes they have potentials to attract tourists, particularly pensioners and flowers lovers.

During a dialogue with industry players including hoteliers, she was stunned to find out that none of the tour agents here took the initiative to package them into tourism products.

Citing that New Zealanders would go to China for ten days just to appreciate the gardens and parks, she urged industry players here to be creative and innovative in creating tourism packages and products.

“Sarawak and Malaysia have a lot of unique and special plants and flowers such as ‘touch me not’ which is not found in some countries,” she said after visiting Miri City Fan.

Describing Miri as an uncut diamond yet to be refined, she said industry players should observe what is lacking or marketable and take the opportunity to create local tourism products, instead of depending on Tourism Malaysia to create them.

“You cannot depend on government to create (tourism) products. Everyone thinks that Tourism Malaysia will come up with the products. We will help to promote the events or packages that highlight the culture and heritage of Malaysia, for example through culinary, arts or festivals. We are promoting Malaysia as a Truly Asia destination,” she emphasised.

Dr Ng also related her experience of having dim sum in one of the hotel here during her visit, praising its cheap price and huge portion but was rather disappointed that the gastronomy aspects of food preparation was not observed.

“It is important for them to know and to study all aspects of their products,” she said.

She added: “We are selling experience. They will return again and again if they have a good experience. The government has recognised tourism as a major economy of the country. In the past it was viewed as a sideline industry.”

Continue reading at: Tourism Malaysia to design brochures to promote parks and garden in Miri
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Monday, April 18, 2011

MASwings continues plan to become the icon of East Malaysia

KUCHING: For Datuk Captain Mohd Nawawi Awang, his career has come to full circle.

The new managing director of MASwings Sdn Bhd (MASwings), who took the helm from former head Datuk Mohd Salleh Ahmad Tabrani in March, related to The Borneo Post recently about his enthusiasm in managing a brand that had very much become a part of his life.

“Since 1973, I was already in this part of the world,” he mentioned during an exclusive interview. “To me, Sarawak and Sabah are very close to my heart.”

By this, he was speaking literally – Nawawi’s wife hails from Labuan and his son-in-law is a police officer from Sarawak. Career-wise, the Malaysian Borneo had been his immediate starting point.

“It’s always been my chilhood ambition to become a pilot. I managed to enrolled into the Royal Military College, after which I enlisted into the Royal Military Air Force and remained in service for five years before I joined Malaysia Airlines (MAS) in 1975.

“At the start of my pilot career, I was stationed in Labuan and with my entry into MAS, I was based in Kota Kinabalu. Now with my new responsibility to head MASwings, I’m really excited to come back here.”

However, Nawawi would now be given a large heap of responsibility on his plate – very much different from what he had to deal with as a professional pilot.

MASwings – the community East Malaysian airline service arm of nationall carrier MAS – had undergone a significant facelift since its inception in 2007. Under its first managing director Dr Amin Khan, the airline was established to cater for the need to specifically serve both Sarawak and Sabah. Notably, Dr Amin’s immediate successor Mohd Salleh saw the situation where MASwings were operating on an ageing fleet – the Fokker 50 – that consumed higher maintenance costs per hour compared against the 747s.

With new measures prompted by Mohd Salleh, MASwings had successfully phased out the Fokker fleet last year, revamping its fleet into having 10 units of the more efficient ATR 72-500s. To note, the carrier flew about 1.2 million passangers last year; a rise from the total 970,000 passengers in 2009.

“MASwings, both in terms of hardware and software aspects, brings the aircraft and its people directly to cater for passengers’ need in East Malaysia. In order for me to bring anything new to MASwings, I need to see – in depth – what has been laid out. Saying that, I’m quite fortunate to be coming to MASwings at a right time…simply because my predecessors have established a solid foundation for me to built upon.

“I come into MASwings to look further into this growth phase already established by Dr Amin and Datuk (Mohd) Salleh. Thus, I have the ingredients already.”

Continue reading (incl. Pic) at: MASwings continues plan to become the icon of East Malaysia
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Sarawak Flip Flops beach fest strikes right chord with party-goers

SATURDAY night at Damai Puri Resort and Spa was certainly a night to remember, as over a thousand revellers and party-goers converged on the resort to attend the Flip Flops Beach Carnival Kuching 2011.

People began to arrive as early as 9am to experience the other rides and activities the carnival had to offer, but what they were really looking forward to was the rave party which began at 8pm.

Sponsored by BarZing Boutique Club along with the resort, and organised by Events Horizon, a host of international deejays were flown in from countries such as Indonesia, Italy, Australia and the US to perform at the fest.

Stage lights and sound systems began to flare, signaling the start of the party.

DJ Boyguth from BarZing, Kuching was first to get the party started as he opened for DJ Co2an from Melbourne, who really got the crowd going despite the heavy rain.

Many of the attendees who were gathering on the grounds began to disperse when the rain started but as it gradually became a drizzle, the crowd swelled to the thousands.

Continue reading (incl. Pics) at: Sarawak Flip Flops beach fest strikes right chord with party-goers
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

North Borneo Railway - Nostalgia back on track with steam locomotive

KOTA KINABALU: Fancy travelling back in time? Soon, visitors and locals alike will be able to experience the good old era of the steam locomotive when the North Borneo Railway resumes operation.

The North Borneo Railway, a joint project between the Sutera Harbour Resort and the State Railway Department to help enhance the existing infrastructure in promoting Sabah as a tourist destination.

The North Borneo Railway was officially launched on 22 January 2000 in conjunction with Kota Kinabalu’s elevation to a city on 2 February 2000, but its service was disrupted due to the reconstruction of the track by the State Railway Department.

The North Borneo Railway features a British ‘Vulcan’ Steam Engine number 6-016 manufactured by the Vulcan Foundry Ltd in Newton-le-Willows in Lancashire, United Kingdom and is the last of a fleet of locomotives that plied the tracks through Borneo since the late 1880s.

Comes July 2011, the steam engine locomotive, one of the few functional locomotives fueled by wood, will once again be plying these same tracks to offer passengers an unforgettable journey of rediscovery into the heart of Borneo.

The train has a capacity for 180 passengers accommodated in six colonial-time carriages that have been refurbished and restored to reflect the luxury of the era.

A kitchen car serves ‘Tiffin’ styled meals, highlighting an exotic blend of colonial and continental cuisine.

The railway, managed by Sutera Harbour Resort is operated to the highest of international standards and is fully compliant with modern safety standards.

Passengers on board the train will be able to take in the sights and sounds of the countryside, paddy fields, mangrove jungles and pristine coastal beaches as the train chucks along the tracks from Tanjung Aru to Papar and return to Kota Kinabalu after an hour-long sojourn in Papar, a small town famed for being the rice bowl of Sabah.

Continue reading at: North Borneo Railway - Nostalgia back on track with steam locomotive
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Aussie Minister, MPs complete Sabah Death March walk

Ranau: Australian Defence Minister (Material) Jason Clare, Independent MP and "king-maker" in recent Australian politics, Robert Oakeshott, planted a tree each at the Last Camp, Saturday, to mark the completion of their five-day Death March walk.

A total of 1,787 Australian and 641 British prisoners of war died. Only six Australians escaped and survived.

Clare was the first full Australian Defence Minister to ever retrace Sabah's Death March trail.

But, significantly, the Death March is intimately related to Independent MP Robert Oakeshott, who gained world fame for his "king-maker' role in the recent Australian hung Parliament, because his grand father, Captain Dr John Oakeshott, was one of five Officers and 10 ordinary soldiers who survived beyond Japan's surrender but was unfortunately executed on August 27, 1945, at the Last Camp, at Kg Kenepir, 5km south of Ranau town.

Joined by Liberal MP Scott Morrison - Shadow Minister for Immigration and a group of 12 students from nine schools in New South Wales, the high profile politicians walked 90km through tough and humid jungle sections of the 1945 Death March trail between Bauto to Gambaron, Maliau to Koporon, Taviu to Liwagu, Nabutan to Muruk to Marakau, although the full length of the Death March trail from Sandakan to Ranau is 265km.

The walk culminated in a profile service at the Church Campsite, Ranau, followed by a visit to the Last Camp Memorial where Robert Oakeshott paid tributes to his grandfather, Captain Dr John Oakshott.

They later visited the Ranau War Memorial, Kundasang, for their last ceremony, officiated by historian, Lynette Silver, who was their interpreter throughout while Tham Yau Kong and his pack of 10 guides provided the support.

Continue reading at: Aussie Minister, MPs complete Sabah Death March walk
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sabah Fest to kick off with cultural extravaganza on April 30

KOTA KINABALU: More than 1,700 people are expected to patronise Sabah Fest 2011, the state’s largest and most colourful cultural event of the year.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun said at a press conference on the upcoming event yesterday that the event will be preceded on April 30 with the cultural extravaganza and followed with the premier show on May 1.

Both events will take place at the Magellan Grand Ballroom of Sutera Harbour Resort near here.

The state government will spend some RM700,000 for the two-day event and patrons will have to purchase a RM50 ticket for admission.

“We’re hoping for more local support. We also want our locals to consider the RM50 ticket they have to purchase for the show as a symbolic gesture of their support towards the local theatre community,” he said.

More than 600 dancers, musicians and skilled handicraft makers in the state will be at the venue over the two days.

“The event is to provide both visitors and locals alike the opportunity to witness Sabah’s rich and unique culture,” he said.

The grand launching shall take place during the premier show on May 1 by the Head of State, Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Juhar Mahiruddin and his consort, Datin Seri Panglima Hajjah Norlidah Datuk R M Jasni.

Patrons of the 23rd edition of the Sabah Fest will be entertained to a one-hour musical theatre style production based on a local folklore of the legendary Nunuk Ragang entitled ‘Papakang – The Odyssey of Seven Brothers’.

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License requirement for Kundasang resorts

KOTA KINABALU: Resorts in Kundasang will soon have to comply with the building statutory requirements established by the Environment Department, Public Works Department and Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) before having their operating license approved.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said in a press conference on the Sabah Fest’s Colorful Extravaganza at a resort near here yesterday that he had already asked his permanent secretary Datuk Michael Embah to arrange a meeting with the local authorities concerned to establish strategies that would address the shortcomings and haphazard developments of resorts at the mountainous area.

“We need to put things right,” he said, adding that they would meet up with the operators and owners of the resorts once the report was ready.

He added that resorts and hotels must address all safety issues and that his ministry is unwilling to allow them to be lackadaisical on the matter.

“We can’t wait until someone dies before it is addressed,” he stressed.

Masidi commented on the recent landslide that occurred in Kundasang where it had affected some of the properties belonging to the villagers there as well as one resort.

He cited that the landslide has ‘exposed’ some aspects of resorts development at the area that needed to be rectified.

In the case of the affected resort, Masidi said that it had a hidden drainage and piping systems that were ill constructed.

He stressed that the relevant local authorities must ensure that all resorts at the district abide by the approved building plans.

Masidi was also asked to comment on a report on landslides that was published in another local daily newspaper.

In the report, there were comments coming from tour guides and tourists who were aghast at the sight of hill cutting activities and trees being chopped indiscriminately in the district of Kundasang.

Continue reading at: License requirement for Kundasang resorts
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Sabah Fest 2011 To Highlight Story Of 'Papakang: The Odyssey Of Seven Brothers'

KOTA KINABALU -- The state's largest and most colourful cultural event of the year, Sabah Fest, is back again and will be held this April 30 to May 1, this time highlighting the story of 'Papakang: The Odyssey of Seven Brothers'.

Besides the usual cultural performances, exhibition and demonstration booths, this 23rd edition of the Sabah Fest would see a one-hour musical theatre production based on a local folklore of the legendary Nunuk Ragang, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

"Through a dazzling display of Sabah's traditional songs and dances, the legend tells about the seven sons of Nunuk Ragang, chief of Kampung Tompios in the district of Ranau, who all covet the mystical 'Papakang' stone.

"The story will also share the journey of his youngest son, Aki Lintobon, across the land to bring together his family and the stone of 'Papakang," he said at the press conference on the event, here, today.

The two-day event, to be held at the Magellan Sutera Harbour Resort, will be launched by Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negeri Datuk Seri Juhar Mahiruddin on the second night.

While the handicraft and food showcase from 10am to 10pm on the two days is open to the public, entry to the night show performance which starts at 7pm, is priced at RM50 (RM30 for students).

Masidi said there would be 1,000 tickets allotted for the first night and 700 tickets for the second night, which is the premier show with the attendance of the head of state.

Besides that, Sabah Fest 2011 will also highlight the unique dances and rituals from eight districts, namely Ranau, Pitas, Kudat, Kota Belud, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Keningau and Penampang.

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Hong Kong, Taiwan Airlines To Begin Direct Flights To Sabah

KOTA KINABALU -- Hong Kong Express and Mandarin Airlines will begin direct flights to Sabah, said state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun.

He said Hong Kong Express would ply the HK-Kota Kinabalu route and Mandarin Airlines the Taipeh-Kota Kinabalu route.

"The new flights are expected to boost tourists from the two nations to Sabah. For the Taiwanese, we hope the visa-free privileges will create more interest among them to come here," he told reporters after the media briefing on Sabah Fest 2011 here Friday.

Hong Kong Express is a subsidiary of Hong Kong Airlines and Mandarin Airlines is China Airlines's regional and domestic subsidiary.

Masidi said while Hong Kong Express has confirmed plans to fly twice a week for the route, Mandarin Airlines was still in discussions over the landing rights.

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North Borneo Railway locomotive goes full steam in July

KUCHING: Soon, visitors to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah will be able to experience the good old era of the steam locomotive when the North Borneo Railway commences operation once again in July 2011.

The North Borneo Railway features a British ‘Vulcan’ Steam Engine number 6-016 manufactured by the Vulcan Foundry Ltd in Newton-le-Willows in Lancashire, United Kingdom and is the last of a fleet of locomotives that piled the tracks through Borneo.

Not only do these steam engines represent the last of a fleet that have plied the tracks through Borneo since the late 1880s, they are also part of the only few functional wood burners left in the world.

The train has a capacity for 180 passengers accommodated in six colonial-period carriages that have been refurbished and restored to reflect the luxury of the era.

A kitchen car serves ‘Tiffin’ styled meals, highlighting an exotic blend of colonial and continental cuisine. The railway is operated to the highest of international standards and is fully compliant with modern safety standards.

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Travel boon to Limbang and Lawas

LIMBANG: Malaysia and Brunei have agreed to ease travel to Sarawak's two northern territories, Limbang and Lawas, that are sandwiched by Brunei.

From Aug 1, frequent travellers from Sabah and Sarawak to Limbang or Lawas, or vice versa, will only need to have their passports stamped at the first entry point into Brunei and at the last exit point.

This was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he unveiled the Frequent Travellers Facility to ease travel along the Pan Borneo Highway that traverses Brunei.


To get to Lawas and Sabah from Miri, travellers have to first enter Brunei at the Sungai Tujoh immigration checkpoint, exit Brunei to enter Limbang at the Tedungan checkpoint and exit Limbang to enter Lawas at Pandaruan.

"At this moment, travellers from Miri to Lawas and Sabah, need to have their passports endorsed eight times one way.

"So, if they have a return visit, at least two pages of their passports are full of endorsements," said Najib at the launching of the Tedungan Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex yesterday.

Continue reading at: Travel boon to Limbang and Lawas
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hope for orangutans lies with youth

Biruté Mary Galdikas raises the microphone to her lips again and again.

Her patience and passion know no bounds as schoolchildren pepper her with questions from their seats in the Victoria Imax theatre. They’ve just watched Born To Be Wild, a newly released Imax documentary film in which Galdikas co-stars.

Several youngsters excitedly wave their hands in the air, hoping the world’s leading orangutan expert will hear their question next.

Galdikas sees their curiosity about the orangutans, which she has been trying to save for 40 years, as a silver lining to the dark clouds looming over the furry red animals considered close to extinction.

“It gives me hope for the future,” said the primatologist, who divides her time between the Borneo rain forest and teaching at Simon Fraser University.

The 45-minute big-screen masterpiece, narrated by actor Morgan Freeman, tells the stories of two women who have spent a lifetime helping young orphaned animals. The movie is as heartwarming as it is educational, ideal for school-age children.

The cameras follow Galdikas’s work at a Borneo sanctuary where more than 300 young orangutans are being raised for eventual release into the wild.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Hope for orangutans lies with youth
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Discover Brunei, Empire style

If the thought of spending almost 24-hours on a long haul flight to Australia or New Zealand is disconcerting, take the opportunity to discover a new destination and plan a stopover en route.

Brunei on the northern tip of Borneo is an ideal place to break the journey and is also an ideal location when twinned with a trip to the Middle East or other South East Asia destinations.

Just 20-minutes’ drive from Brunei’s Bandar Seri Begawan Airport is the luxurious 5-star The Empire Hotel and Country Club. The architectural design and ambience of this luxury resort is built in a style that befits the image of Brunei as the home of the Sultan of Brunei.

Overlooking the South China Sea and on the edge of one of Asia’s oldest rain forests, the hotel is located on a magnificent stretch of Brunei’s pristine coastline and has 162 hectares of lush tropical gardens that capture the calm atmosphere found throughout Brunei.

Hotel guests can unwind in the peaceful gardens or opt for one of the massage therapies and beauty treatments designed to de-stress and rejuvenate in the hotel Spa. Keen golfers can ease the strain of flying with a round of golf on the floodlit Jack Nicklaus signature 18-hole golf course or choose from a selection of other world-class sports and leisure facilities. Fine dining is another hallmark of the Empire Hotel & Country Club with a choice of seven restaurants offering regional and international cuisine.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Discover Brunei, Empire style
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fly from Sibu to KL for RM9

SIBU: How about flying from Sibu to Kuala Lumpur for just slightly more than three plates of kampua?

Firefly announced this attractive promotional rate yesterday during a meeting together with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and the Sibu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The meeting was to discuss better air connectivity, particularly once the Sibu Airport extension project is completed.

Firefly sales executive Mary Lee said the promotional Sibu-Kuala Lumpur fare is just 9 sen and including fees is RM9 per trip.

She said they had originally intended to run the low-fare trip from August, but decided to introduce it in July due to the overwhelming response.

There will be two trips from Sibu to Kuala Lumpur per day at 9.45am and 8.10pm.

The announcement was well received, with local travel agents and tour operators comparing the fare to ordering three plates of kampua.

Among those present during the discussion were Temenggong Vincent Lau, MAS Sarawak manager Mohamad Asif Abd Talib, Sarawak sales manager Moh Ung Chuang, head of state sales Aziz Ali and Sibu sales Effendy Abd Aziz, as well as Firefly Sarawak sales manager Harris Salleh, sales executive Hafiz Musammil and Mary Lee.

In a statement provided for discussion yesterday, travel agents and operators expressed concern over the number of flights between Sibu and Kota Kinabalu, which had been slashed from four daily to two.

“We have received lots of complaints from the students of Sabah University and businessmen travelling to Kota Kinabalu and to Tawau, Sandakan and Lahad Datu through connecting flights,” said the statement.

Continue reading at: Fly from Sibu to KL for RM9
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monkey business - Proboscis Monkey genome sequencing

IN January, American researchers published the draft genome sequence for one of Malaysia’s most iconic animals, the orang utan. This made the orang utan the third non-human primate to have its genome sequenced, after the chimpanzee and the rhesus macaque.

Not wanting to be left behind, Malaysia is now getting into the act of sequencing the proboscis monkey, an endangered species that resides here. According to Prof Dr Rofina Yasmin Othman, the proboscis monkey project will be Malaysia’s first effort to sequence, assemble and analyse the genome of an endangered primate.

“Since the proboscis monkey genome has never been sequenced before, it will require a computationally and intellectually intensive effort to assemble the sequenced DNA into a complete, whole genome,” explains Dr Rofina, who is the head of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation’s (Mosti) National Biotechnology Division.

“This will be followed by bioinformatics analysis to better understand the proboscis monkey’s physiology and genetics. As no reference proboscis genome exists, the proboscis genome project will require very complex de novo (from the beginning) sequencing and assembly that will be relatively costly. As an example, the first de novo sequencing and assembly of the orang utan genome announced in January cost US$20mil (RM61mil), whereas subsequent resequencing efforts will only cost US$20,000 to US$30,000 (RM61,000 to RM91,500) .”

So to sequence the proboscis monkey genome, it will cost the ministry nearly RM8mil at least.

According to Mosti, there are fewer than 3,000 proboscis monkeys left in the wild (in various parts of Borneo), and this species does not survive easily in captivity, hence the need to sequence their genome.

For this project, Mosti will work on proboscis monkeys from both Sabah and Sarawak in order to look at the genetic difference in the two main populations.

“Such an approach has been successfully used by Australian scientists studying the Tasmanian devil, where informative genetic markers were used to gauge the ancestry between animals,” says Dr Rofina.

“This knowledge can then be used to tailor breeding programmes to maintain biodiversity, and the resulting genomic data may be able to assist in enhancing conservation and breeding programmes. Furthermore, the availability of the complete genome sequence of the proboscis monkey will also enable the study of evolutionary relatedness to other mammals.”

According to her, the experience gained from this project will set the foundation for genomic studies of other Malaysian fauna and flora.

“In this way, genomics provides us with a deeper understanding of our rich biodiversity with a view to protecting, preserving, and exploring its usefulness. The data to be generated by both projects (MyGenome and the proboscis monkey genome sequencing) will provide numerous downstream research opportunities.”

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MASwings to mount extra flights for Sarawak

KUCHING: In conjunction with the state election and in view of the high demand, MASwings will mount extra flights to Bario, Ba’kelalan and Long Seridan from today until April 16.

This is part or its continuous effort in serving the community in Sabah and Sarawak.

“We would also like to get in touch with the tour operators for Ba’kelalan to discuss as to how best we could work together with them to promote Ba’kelalan so as to bring in more tourists into the area,” said a press statement issued yesterday.

It explained that MASwings acknowledged the importance of air transport to the community in Ba’kelalan and reiterated that it has always been their main focus to provide safe, reliable and affordable services, particularly to the people of Sabah and Sarawak,

“This has been our pursuit after taking over the Rural Air Services (RAS) operations beginning Oct 1 in 2007,” the statement pointed out.

In the context of Ba’kelalan, MASwings added the fourth frequency to Ba’kelalan last year and it was reduced back to three times per week effective 26 March, 2011 after due consultation with the Ministry of Transport.

As a RAS operator, MASwings faced various operational constraints and resources including the limited number of Twin-Otter aircraft used for their operations into the Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) ports such as Ba’kelalan, Bario, Long Akah, Long Banga, Long Seridan and Long Lellang.

Their operations into the STOL ports are also subjected to weather condition and whenever the condition is not favourable, the flights would either be cancelled or delayed.

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Decision on AirAsia moving to KKIA Terminal 1 rests with ministry

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia Airports Bhd (MAB) is ready to accept AirAsia if they move their flight operations to Terminal One of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA).

MAB general manager Zainol Mohd Isa said with the facilities provided at Terminal One, the low-cost carrier could fulfill all the needs of commercial flights and be able to provide better flight connectivity to their passengers.

“The decision on the matter now rests with the Transport Ministry. All I can say is, we have facilitated this airport with good infrastructure for any airline, including them (AirAsia).

“If they don’t want to move here, it is their choice and they still can operate from Terminal Two,” he said.

Zainol said this to the media during a press conference after launching of the safety, health and environment campaign at KKIA Terminal One yesterday.

Two months ago, AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said the airline was hesitant about moving out its operation from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 of KKIA because the operational costs would increase which would in turn force the reduction in the number of flights and ultimately causing Sabah to lose about one million tourists.

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