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Added thrill in Kg Paya Gunung - November 20, 2017

JERANTUT: A new tourist attraction, a via ferrata, has been installed on a hillside in Kampung Paya Gunung here.

Italian for “iron road”, the via ferrata is a series of steel cables that allow climbers to scale the limestone rock hill, giving them a 360-degree view of the surroundings, including Jerantut town, the Felda settlement, Kota Gelanggi caves and also the neighboring Gunung Senyum.

The hill had existed for millions of years and villagers said the area was once a quarry.

The via ferrata is an initiative of hardcore rock climber Rozaman Ismail and was further developed by Tourism and Culture Ministry Pahang Office managing director Datuk Idros Yahya, Rozaman said he developed the site by fixing steel cables on the hill, making it easier to climb.He started the project some 10 years ago for his team of climbers and frequently brought friends to help them overcome their fear of heights.

“When Idros came to know about it, he further developed this via ferrata into a state tourism attraction.“It can also be a training ground for people whose work involves painting or cleaning high-rise buildings,” he said.Rozaman added a via ferrata is a protected climbing route commonly found in the Alps and certain other locations.“It is a steel cable which runs along the route and periodically fixed to the rock“ By using the special kits, climbers can secure themselves to the cable, preventing falls.“Additional climbing aids such as iron rungs (stemples), harness and other equipment are also provided for safer climbing,” Rozaman said.

Jerantut MP Datuk Ahmad Nazlan Idris, who visited the attraction recently, said the via ferrata was the second of its kind in the country with the first in Sabah.“This is the only one in the peninsula which can be presented as a new tourist attraction.“Those who love extreme sports can face the challenge of climbing the via ferrata in addition to taking part in rock climbing activities here,” Ahmad Nazlan said after presenting prizes to the winners of a rock climbing competition held here.

Idros said people could also attempt to overcome their fear of heights by attempting the via ferrata route, which is about 200m long and 120m above sea level.“It can also be a team-building activity for corporate staff or for youths to build their self-confidence as well as test their physical and mental fitness,” he said.Idros said the once sleepy area of Kampung Paya Gunung is now bustling with activity, particularly for its rock-climbing facilities.“Now, the place is visited by many, with companies bringing their staff here for team-building.” Idros said.

He added some RM200,000 was spent by the ministry and another RM100,000 by the state government for the infrastructure and facilities, including the dining hall, campsites, surau, public toilets and other rock-climbing facilities.Rock-climbing programmes and courses were also provided to locals youths and villagers.A rock climbing competition was held at the hill recently with 38 youths taking part.Muhammad Taqiyuddin Mohd Zulkifli, 23, emerged champion in the men’s category while Siti Nur Sarah Salehudin, 29, topped the women’s category.Ahmad Nazlan presented prizes to the men while the women received theirs from Jerantut district officer Datuk Tengku Nor Asmaliza Ku Lah.

Nazri slams no-headscarf policy of hotels - Nov 14, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz has slammed the discriminatory policy of prohibiting more frontline in the hotel industry. "It is rude and irresponsible. We have laws, and if it's true that this is an instruction, it means that they have gone against our Constitution," said Nazri.He questioned why international hotel chains are operating in Malaysia if they bar staff from wearing headscarves.

"Is being naked better than wearing a headscarf when sitting in front of a counter," he questioned at a press conference at the Parliament lobby on Tuesday (Nov 14)."Come to our country, respect our laws. Sixty percent of Malaysians are Muslims, of course, the headscarf is a norm here," said Nazri."We know that big hotel chains come from countries like the United States or the United Kingdom, which are countries that emphasize human rights," he added.

Nazri pointed out that Malaysia ranked 12th in the world in attracting tourists, and said that international hotel chains that were unwilling to conform to the country's values were not welcomed."If hotel chains want to operate here, they must follow our ways. Otherwise, there are other hotels to fill that gap, such as local hotels," he added.He added that the Tourism Ministry does not have the power to revoke the licenses of hotels involved in discriminatory practices, as this falls under the purview of the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT).

"So, the KPKT must be strict and not allow such companies to operate here," said Nazri.On Nov 6, the Union Network International-Malaysia Labour Centre (UNI-MLC) said in a statement that it had received numerous complaints from female hotel employees saying that their management does not allow them to wear a headscarf to work.On Nov 11, Malaysia Hotels Association (MAH) told The Star that this uniform policy has been practiced in international hotel chains for a long time.

MAH chairman Samuel Cheah Swee Hee said that there are many other employment opportunities for Muslim employees including working in the backhouse or choosing to work with one of the many hotels that incorporate the headscarf in its uniform."The problem is everyone wants to join the 5-star global hotel brand, but they do not want to follow the uniform policy that is their worldwide standard," Cheah added.


Bentong feasts eyes on tourists - November 10, 2017

BENTONG: The district of Bentong is all abuzz to welcome more than 50,000 local and international tourists for a king of fruits feast.Dubbed the Malaysia International Durian Cultural Tourism Festival, it will be held in this west Pahang district from Nov 25 to 26.The festival is organized by MCA’s Belt and Road Centre and executed by Hunan Broadcasting System Company’s Mango Entertainment.

MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said visitors could look forward to enjoying the “king of fruits” from Bentong’s farmers.“This is a tipping point for promoting Bentong as an international tourist destination – especially for tourists from China – and it will have a multiplying effect on the Malaysian tourism sector,” he said during a press conference to promote the festival here.Liow, who is also the Bentong MP and Transport Minister, hoped the event would be made into an annual affair in the district.On a separate matter, he said e-commerce acceptance in his constituency has been encouraging and youths were now coming home to take on new business opportunities via the internet.

“They don’t need to go far to seek opportunities and I’ve promised them better internet connectivity,” he said.Liow also called upon merchants to embrace the digital economy as it was gaining prominence.He said the digital economy means a lot to Malaysia as it could help the economy to achieve a double-digit growth.“E-commerce contributed to about 18% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product last year.“We expect this to continue following the establishment of the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ).

“The DFTZ is another milestone in Malaysia’s journey towards being an active player in the e-commerce sector,” he said.Liow said by 2025, Malaysia would be handling about US$65bil worth of e-commerce cargo.He said as such, there was certainly big potential in the digital economy.“But embracing e-commerce will require training and education. “We are prepared to help and guide merchants through the journey with courses offered by Utar (Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman),” he said.


Genting gets lucky again - November 11, 2017

THE founding family feud aside, luck is clearly on Genting Bhd side. The diversified conglomerate, whose business covers casinos; leisure and entertainment; plantation; power; as well as oil and gas, is seeing improving prospects across most of its divisions, especially gaming, thanks to increasingly positive market conditions.

Such expectation has already compelled many analysts to place their bets on Genting’s shares as one of the counters on Bursa Malaysia that will perform well this year. The counter also stands as one of the favorite picks among local fund managers.A check on Bloomberg poll of analysts shows there are 15 “buy” recommendations on Genting’s shares, two “hold” and only one “sell”.Genting’s shares ended 7 sen lower yesterday at RM9.41.That represents a valuation of 16 times the consensus estimated earnings for its financial year (FY) ending Dec 31, 2017, and about 13 times the estimated earnings for FY18.

This compares with the average 12-month target price that analysts have ascribed to Genting’s shares at RM11.36, which represents a conservative valuation of about 19 times and 17 times consensus estimated earnings for FY17 and FY18, respectively.

Buying opportunity

Genting shares have been under selling pressure from foreign shareholders since late last month, falling to an eight-month low of RM8.87 early of the week before rebounding to its current level on reports of solid earnings by its 53%-owned Genting Singapore Plc (GenS).

Among the foreign shareholders that have pared down their interests in Genting are Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co, Oppenheimer Acquisition Corp, and MM Asset Management Holding LLC, all of which have since ceased to be a substantial shareholder in Genting.Nevertheless, the selldown by foreigners – which resulted in the current weakness of Genting share price – gives investors a good buying opportunity, says TA Research.

“Genting shares have been under selling pressure from foreign shareholders recently, which we believe could be due to flight to safety before the General Election in Malaysia.“However, we see this as a good opportunity to accumulate, as the group is likely to benefit from the surge in gaming volume in both Malaysia and Singapore,” the brokerage explains in its recent note.Gaming business volume in the region has been on a rebound for the past one year, as reflected in the recent financial results of GenS. 

Following the first two-quarters of strong growth, GenS scored another solid win, with a 35% year-on-year increase in profits to S$143.8mil (RM443.5mil) for the third quarter of FY17, driven by strong recovery in its VIP segment. Its revenue rose 8% to S$629.9mil compared with S$581.5mil a year ago.On the strong showing by GenS, which contributes about 45% to Genting’s bottom line, the holding company is also expected to report solid growth for its third-quarter FY17 results, which will be unveiled later this month.

According to some analysts, Genting is favored as a cheaper alternative for investors for exposure to the upside of the conglomerate’s subsidiaries such as GenS, as well as Genting Malaysia Bhd (GenM), in which it owns a 49.37% stake and Genting Plantations Bhd where it has a 50.7% stake.

For instance, Hong Leong Investment Bank Research points out that Genting represents a “cheaper proxy” to buy into the expected growth of GenM’s GITP (Genting Integrated Tourism Plan) project and the excitement surrounding GenS’ bid for a casino license in Japan.

Family Feud

Meanwhile, Genting chairman and chief executive Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay and his eldest son Lim Keong Hui have recently solidified their control over the multimillion-ringgit business empire amid an ongoing legal dispute with other members in the Lim family.It is unclear whether the latest development will complicate the legal action that has been initiated against Kok Thay and his younger brother, Datuk Lim Chee Wah, by the children of their late brother, Datuk Lim Tee Keong, since last year.But what’s clear is, the feud is not expected to affect the business operations or prospects of the Genting group in any way.

If anything, Kok Thay’s solidifying of his control over Genting group is good for investor sentiment, as one fund manager puts it.Over the week, Kok Thay asserted that he is the major shareholder of Genting, with direct and indirect stakes totaling 44.38%.According to filings with Bursa Malaysia, Genting said Kok Thay has “reasonable grounds” to believe that he and Keong Hui have deemed interest in Genting shares and warrants held by Kien Huat Realty Sdn Bhd, Inverway Sdn Bhd and Golden Hope Ltd based on a legal opinion and upon review of certain rulings in the Companies Act 2016.The deemed interest encompasses an equity stake of 42.62%, or 1.63 billion shares, and 407.6 million warrants in Genting.

The announcement followed a recent report inferring that Kok Thay may not be a substantial shareholder of the Genting group, citing the company’s 2016 annual report, where Kok Thay was not listed as a substantial shareholder.As published in the company’s annual report, Kok Thay personally already has direct interests in Genting, comprising an equity stake of 1.78% and 17.03 million warrants, while Keong Hui, who is Genting executive director (chairman’s office) and chief information officer, does not hold any direct shares or warrants in the company.With a controlling stake in Genting, Kok Thay has also effectively become the controlling shareholder of other Genting subsidiaries.His rank in Forbes’s list of Malaysia’s richest is also expected to rise, given the increase in his net worth based on his stakes in the companies that he would directly and indirectly own through the increase in his shareholding in the companies that control the Genting empire.

Kok Thay is currently ranked the 6th richest man in Malaysia by Forbes.The tycoon and his brother, Chee Wah, is currently embroiled in a legal dispute with their late eldest brother Tee Keong’s children – Joey Lim Keong Yew, Benjamin Lim Keong Hoe and Marie Lim Seok Leng.Tee Keong was the eldest son of Genting patriarch and founder, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, while Kok Thay and Chee Wah are the second and youngest sons.According to reports, two matters are being contested. The first is the will of Tee Keong, who passed away a bankrupt on April 14, 2014.

The second is the removal of Benjamin and Marie as beneficiaries of the Tee Keong Family Trust, a discretionary trust set up by the late Goh Tong in 1990 for his son and his family. Goh Tong also set up six other trusts, including one called the Lim Kok Thay Trust and Puan Sri Lim (Goh Tong’s wife) Trust.While expressing puzzlement over Kok Thay and Keong Hui’s securing control of Genting, Joey told a business daily that he was not yet sure whether he would contest the matter in court due to the lack of information at that juncture.Kien Huat Realty Sdn Bhd is the major shareholder of Genting with 39.44% direct equity interest, while Parkview Management Sdn Bhd, as trustee, holds 39.68%.

Parkview Management, as trustee of a discretionary trust, owns 100% of the voting shares of Kien Huat International Ltd, which in turn owns 100% of the voting shares of Kien Huat Realty.Inverway, meanwhile, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kien Huat Realty.Parkview Management, as trustee of the discretionary trust, is deemed interested in the Genting shares held by Kien Huat Realty and Inverway by virtue of its controlling interest in both the companies. Kok Thay is the beneficiary of the discretionary trust.Meanwhile, Golden Hope Ltd, as trustee of the Golden Hope Unit Trust, is a private unit trust whose voting units are ultimately owned by First Names Trust Co (Isle of Man) Ltd as trustee of a discretionary trust. Lim is also a beneficiary of such discretionary trust.


Durian fest to attract 50,000 tourists to Bentong - Nov 9, 2017

BENTONG: The upcoming Malaysia International Durian Cultural Tourism Festival is set to become a key event to promote Bentong's tourist attractions to the world. Bentong MP and MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the event was a game changer for tourism in the district and could have a multiplying effect on the country's tourism industry. "This is a tipping point to promote Bentong as an international tourist destination, especially for tourists from China," he said at a press conference here on Thursday (Nov 9).


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