Monday, January 24, 2011

Penang State Level CNY Open House 6th Feb 2011

The state-level Chinese New Year open house will be held in Balik Pulau, Penang.

The celebration has been scheduled for Feb 6.

Event coordinator and Komtar assemblyman Ng Wei Aik said Balik Pulau had been chosen as it was the southwest district’s turn to house the event.

“The state government has been rotating the celebration among Penang’s five districts.

“In 2009, we had the state-level open house on Campbell Street (in the northeast district) and last year, it was organised in Bukit Mertajam (in central Seberang Prai district).

“This year it will be held in Balik Pulau while next year, festivities will be held in either the north or south Seberang Prai district,” Ng said, after distributing promotional flyers to market-goers.

He said the Balik Pulau celebration would be centred in the vicinity of the Jalan Tun Sardon market complex on Thursday.

“We will have four main areas during the open house — the main stage, folklore art stage, musical opera stage and street performance area.

“All these will be located in front and around the new market complex where the entrance road (separating the market complex from the Rapid Penang depot) will be closed to traffic,” Ng said.

He said among attractions for the event, that would run from 6pm onwards, were acrobatic performances including one featuring a children’s acrobatic troupe from Beijing, ‘mask changing’ performances and ‘Shanghai Night’ dances.

Ng said several schools in the southwest district would also be presenting performances.

“Accomplished local photographer Jimmy Tan will also be visiting the area before the open house and his pictures of famous Balik Pulau sites will be showcased in an exhibition during the event,” he said.

Parents who want to register their children for a colouring/drawing contest and Chinese New Year singing contest that will be held before the start of the open house should call Tan Cheng Oee (019-4521077) or Lim Kheng Seng (019-5650480) by Jan 30.

Ng added that some 30,000 people were expected to attend the event.

“We are asking Rapid Penang to extend its operating hours till midnight on that day and also increase the number of buses heading towards Balik Pulau,” he added.

Penang Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng are expected to attend the event.

Hmm, must be and will be very nice and exciting. Been there before? If you haven't been to this part of the island, it's the right time and opportunity you pay a visit there. Ang pow as well of course!

More no-car zones in Penang?

Penang Municipal Council is now looking at introducing more areas under the proposed “no-car zone” within the heritage enclave.

This is following the success of a recent trial run at the Esplanade.

The council’s Infrastructure and Transport committee alternate chairman Ramlah Bee Asiahoo when contacted, said the trial run at Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, which was introduced three Sundays ago between 8am and 5pm had received positive feedback from the public.

“Families, tourists and the senior citizens visiting the area were happy with the campaign since they were able to walk around freely and take in the fresh air since there was no high level emission of carbon monoxide.

“Tourists had also commented that they could explore the heritage enclave better by riding on trishaws to admire the scenery of places such as Fort Cornwallis,” she said recently.

She said the proposed move was also introduced as part of the state’s ‘Cleaner, Greener’ campaign initiative.

Ramlah said the committee would hold a meeting today to discuss and study the results of the trial run and whether to expand the campaign to restrict the movement of cars to other areas within the enclave.

Last October, state Youth, Sports, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Lydia Ong Kok Fooi suggested the idea of banning vehicles from certain roads in the heritage enclave.

She informed council president Patahiyah Ismail about it in August.

She had also said that Singapore, (Jakarta) Indonesia, Paris and London already had such a policy in place, and Penang would be the first in the country if the state could adopt such a policy.

I believe this is a very good idea. Imagine people walking freely, relax and enjoying the walk with fresh air around and peaceful surroundings...perfect right?

TNB rebate now fixed at 2.5%

Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) customers will now get a 2.5% rebate per year for their deposit instead of 5%.

TNB said in a statement that since the new rebate percentage came into effect on March 9, 2010, the period from Jan 1 to March 8 would remain at 5%.

A TNB spokesman said the rebate would be credited into users’ January electricity bill.

“Depending on how much they deposited based on their account type, 2.5% of that amount will be subtracted from this month’s bill,” he said.

He added that customers could head over to any TNB branch for further explanation about the rebate.
I believe many will be raising their eyebrows on the rebate. Perhaps someone should come forward to explain this, any volunteers?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Penang Chinese Town Hall’s (PCTH) Chinese New Year Open House on Feb 4

The Penang Chinese Town Hall’s (PCTH) Chinese New Year Open House in George Town is set to be a grand affair this year with myriad cultural activities and food for the public.

PCTH deputy chairman Datuk Lam Wu Chong (pic) said the two-hour event to be held on Feb 4 (the second day of the first lunar month), would start at 9.30am.

“All races are welcome to share in this joyful celebration. There will be a buffet and even halal Malay food for the public,” he told a press conference on Friday.

He said the open house was an important annual activity for the PCTH to strengthen the relationship with the community and to foster better mutual understanding between all races.

The event will include a lion dance, an appearance by the God of Prosperity to give away candy, Chingay, Chinese orchestra, festive songs by a choir and a colourful cultural performance.

Among the dignitaries expected are Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Wow, a grand event....but I'm just afraid the lack of parking space :(

Ride with Rapid Penang and win iPads !!!

Public bus operator Rapid Penang will hold a lucky draw as part of its upcoming Lunar New Year celebration where the top prizes are eight iPads.

The lucky draw is part of the public transport operator’s aim to reward loyal commuters.

The Rapid Ride to Prosperity Draw will be held from Feb 1 until April 30.

Rapid Penang chief executive officer Azhar Ahmad told a press conference at the Eastin Hotel on Friday that the company was finding ways to excite commuters as well as enticing new passengers.

“We hope to attract more white collared workers to use our servi-ces,” he said.

Azhar said the move was in line with the government’s drive to expand public transport ridership.

Commuters have several ways of becoming eligible for the draw.

They can either obtain the Youth or Emas receipt tickets, which are sold mainly to the young and elderly respectively, or by collecting 30 Rapid Penang bus tickets.

Those with such tickets are entitled to one lucky draw per entry.

They can also choose to purchase the Rapid Preferred receipt ticket, which will be an added bonus, as they will be entitled to two entries.

The contest is open to all commuters.

They can send as many entries as they want.

However, each winner can only win one prize in the draw.

Entry forms are available at all Rapid kiosks as well as via its website at

All entries must reach Rapid Penang before midnight on April 30.

If any uncle or auntie that got this IPad and willing to sell it out at a bargain price, please contact me, I want !!! Haha :)

Annual Chinese New Year Cultural and Heritage Celebration 2011 Photography Contest

The annual Chinese New Year Cultural and Heritage Celebration in George Town will see something new this year as for the first time, a photography contest will be held during the event.

Winners will win cash and prizes worth more than RM10,000.

Co-organised by Penang Press Club and sponsored by Canon, the contest is divided into three categories — press club members, students and an open category.

Contestants are required to submit photos depicting lively scenes of the celebration, which will be held on Feb 12 from 3pm to midnight.

Organising chairman Ang Yee Shyuan said the photographs submitted would be displayed in a gallery during next year’s celebration.

“Some visitors had complained that they did not have enough time to tour all the places. The photo gallery will allow our visitors to get a better idea of the available attractions,’ she said.

Another interesting event is the ‘human chess’ competition, where students would take on the roles of the various Chinese chess pieces on a giant board.

“The last time a similar event took place in Penang was back in 1975.

“This time, we are holding it to raise funds for private education institutions in Penang,” she said, adding that it is co-organised with Penang Chess Association.

It's always nice to capture the festive mood especially Chinese New Year celebration and environment, probably due to the fact that I'm a Chinese. For all the photography friends out there, this is just a nice reason and occasion for the CNY theme photoshoot :)

A change for the good @ Carnarvon Street

Motorist who are stuck in a jam during peak hours along Carnarvon Street can now enjoy a scenery of green trees to sooth their nerves as the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) has given the street a new look.

The green pilot project saw the planting of 60 trees along the road and it was implemented in conjunction with the second anniversary of George Town’s listing as Unesco World Heritage Site.

An MPPP spokesperson said a total of RM101,604 was spent on the project, with RM75,144 of the total cost funded by Kha-zanah Nasional Berhad through its subsidiary Think City Sdn Bhd for the purchase of trees.

“The remaining RM26,460 was funded by MPPP for the purchase of materials,” he said.

He said four types of jungle species — Garcenia cova, Sterculia parvifolia, Syzygium syzygoides and Sindora coriacea — were selected among the 11 types proposed by the landscape consultant Sek San Design that was appointed by Think City Sdn Bhd.

“We planted 15 trees of each type respectively,” he said.

“The selection of trees was also in accordance with our aim to alleviate heat and add colour and fragrance to the city.

“It is also our objective to calm down road users in inner city roads as the greenery can be soothing. We also want to support the use of local flora,” he said.

He added that beautification work along the street started on Dec 17.

Parti Cinta Malaysia action team chief Tham Weng Fatt, in a statement, gave the beautification work a thumbs-up.

“This is a great move. They should also light up the road with colourful bulbs.

“I hope they will water the plants daily and repair the damaged road divider along Carnarvon Street.

“They should also bring up the concrete road divider height to 30.5cm to prevent motorcyclists from going over the divider,” he said.

This is a very good idea and implementation. I really hope that the council will continue to do the maintenance and care for the green plants there. After all, it's always so hot when travelling along that road. Hopefully this will be a thing in the past in few years' time.

Reminder: EPF workers' contribution back to 11% from January 2011

The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) has reminded employers that the monthly statutory contribution rate for the employees has reverted to 11% from 8% and this comes into effect from the January 2011 salary.

The EPF said employers had to ensure the correct amount was deducted from the employees’ wages based on this revised contribution rate and remitted to the EPF starting from the February 2011 contributions.

The employees’ statutory rate was lowered from 11% to 8% for two years from January 2009 to December 2010.

"Members who had previously submitted Form KWSP 17A (AHL) Khas/KWSP 17AA Khas to maintain the contribution rate at 11% during the two-year period, would not be required to take any action," it said.

It added the employers’ share of the monthly contribution to the EPF was unchanged at 12%.

I suggest that everyone that's working out there make sure you check your payslip come end of Jan to make sure that the deduction is now back at 11%. For those that have choosen to remains at 11% previously, do double check to confirm as well.

SP Setia wins Penang People's Park project deal

SP Setia Bhd (8664), the country's largest developer by sales has won a RM300 million project to build and operate the Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre (sPICE), Bloomberg reported, citing an email statement from the Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Last Thursday, Business Times reported that the property developer was the front runner and on the verge of winning the job.

Securing the project should bode well for SP Setia, which posted sales of RM1.74 billion and a net profit of RM251.81 million in the year ended October 31 2010.

The project aims to create a "Penang People's Park" that includes the country's first subterranean sPICE, a 2.83 hectares public park on the rooftop, a refurbished and upgraded Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa), a refurbished and upgraded Aquatic Centre and a four-star hotel with retail outlets and a spacious parking lot.

The project will be developed through a public-private partnership agreement between the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) and developer SP Setia Bhd's unit Eco Meridean Sdn Bhd.

On September 3 2010, SP Setia had bought 2 ordinary shares of RM1.00 each in Eco Meridian Sdn Bhd, resulting in the private company becoming a wholly owned unit of SP Setia.

Financing for the Penang project will see MPPP injecting some RM50 million, through a combination of land and cash, while Eco Meridean will finance the rest.

The proposed sPICE, which initially came with a RM50 million priceline, has been mired in controversy ever since Lim proposed it.

One of the concerns raised was that the project would incur huge expenditure, which could result in the council becoming insolvent.

Lim, however, claimed the council could save some RM25 million from the refurbishment, repairs and upgrading work on Pisa and the Aquatic Centre and that Eco Meridean will pay RM13.5 million for land to build a four-star hotel to complement sPICE.

This means that the net sum of MPPP's investment in the project would be RM11.5 million.

Work on the project is expected to start within three to six months' time and will be completed in three years.

Not sure if this project gonna go on smoothly as there are so many critics and complains from everywhere...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2nd Penang bridge project behind time

Construction work on the second Penang bridge is behind schedule by 3%.

Datuk Dr Ismail Mohamed Taib, the managing director of Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd — the biggest concession holder of the project — said however, that the delay would not affect the September 2013 completion date for the bridge.

“The total project completion stands at 40% and is just a little bit off schedule.

“We are confident that the contractors will be able to catch up (the 3%) in the year’s second quarter.

“These small delays are normal in construction and we have not yet reached a stage where the project is critically delayed,” Dr Ismail said, adding that projects would be considered critically delayed when construction was 20% behind schedule.

He said the construction of the RM4.5bil second bridge comprised five packages, of which only one — Package One by CHEC (China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd) (M) Sdn Bhd —was ahead of schedule.

Dr Ismail said CHEC was moving ahead at between 5% and 10% ahead of their timeline on their construction of the main navigation span and substructure, and foundation works of the approach spans.

He was speaking to reporters after a site visit and briefing for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) headed by chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid.

Azmi, who visited the CHEC office in Batu Maung, the bridge’s mid-span and the UEM casting yard in Batu Kawan, said PAC was visiting the project for a briefing and not an investigation.

Okok, I'm fine with the 3% delay. But please do not use this reason to accumulate more cost on it. At the end of the day, we rakyat are paying for it !!!

Check in online, urges AirAsia @ Penang International Airport

In the midst of the airport expansion works, I believe this is the best way to check in to AirAsia flights to avoid any inconvenience.

AirAsia is urging passengers to check in online during the ongoing expansion of the Penang International Airport.

Its Penang station manager Kenneth Tan said this would also help ease congestion and delay during peak times and festivals such as the forthcoming Thaipusam and Chinese New Year.

“We are expecting large number of passengers for Thaipusam and Chinese New Year and we hope that passengers would check in using AirAsia’s website in the convenience of their homes or offices instead of coming to the airport and waiting in queue to check in,” he said yesterday.

Expansion works costing RM250mil at the airport is expected to be completed by June 2012.

Tan said passengers could check in by logging in to and clicking on to the web check-in.

“For the web check-in, passengers need to refer to the terms and condition online,” he said.

He also advised passengers to be at the boarding gate at least 40 minutes before boarding time.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New management for Sg Nibong express bus terminal

Passengers using the Sungai Nibong express bus terminal here will begin to notice changes to the facility now following the appointment of a new management.

Among the visible changes now are fewer ticketing touts and a new coat of paint for the building.

The changes were attributed to the new management who took over in November last year.

Syarikat Aspirasi Utara Engineering Sdn Bhd, which was awarded the tender, has acted to resolve pressing issues by discussing with the express bus operators, the Penang Municipal Council and the state government.

Its manager Mohd Faisal Abdul Kadi said the priority now was to ensure a smoother flow of traffic.

“Traffic flow is being hampered by motorists and motorcyclists when dropping off passengers during peak hours.

“The terminal’s main entrance is actually the one facing the Pesta Pulau Pinang,” he said.

Mohd Faisal said many passengers do not know where was the main entrance and some were afraid to enter the terminal’s right-side access road due to the parking fees imposed near its entrance.

“Many people prefer to drop or pick up passengers along the terminal’s side entrance without the need to pay for parking fees,” he said.

He said the management was in talks with the state government, who owns the Pesta Pulau Pinang land, to provide some space so as to encourage more people to use the main entrance.

Mohd Faisal said one other aim of the new management was to ensure that every bus company has its own counter.

“There are only six counters operated by registered bus operators. The rest are actually appointed agents who do not own buses,” he said.

He explained that an operator can hire an agent to sell its tickets and the agent, who represents a few operators, uses only one counter.

“In this manner, they only pay expenses for a single counter such as monthly rent. They maximise their profits, but this is against the stipulated contract with us.” Mohd Faisal said adding that he now aims to ensure that there is only one counter per bus company.

MPPP councillor Zulkifli Mohd Noor said the upgrading works cost more than RM300,000 and is expected to be ready by end February.

“We need to build proper waiting and pick-up points for the public,” he said.

Zulkifli also wants the enforcement agencies to prevent bus drivers from picking up passengers in other parts of Penang.

“As express buses operators, they are only allowed to pick up passengers from this terminal and leave the island. This can also reduce the traffic congestion in town as express buses need not journey there,” he said.

The top floor of the terminal will also undergo changes with the setting up of a convenience store, a bakery and an Internet cafe for passengers’ convenience.

New management? I sure hope it's better management and well-manage place! After all, it's our island's main bus terminal, not counting the one in mainland.

MPPP calendar of events 2011 at Komtar office

Then, we have the event calendar by the state government. Now we have the event calendar from MPPP? I'm sure there will be a lot of overlaps. Why not just combine up and come out with a single calendar in order not to make the public confuse? Or maybe it's just 1 calendar after all, just the name different?

ThePenang Municipal Council (MPPP) has launched its calendar of events for the year.

Its president Patahiyah Ismail said the pocket-sized calendar, which is distributed free to the public, contains the date and location of 14 events to be held throughout this year.

She also said it was the first time the council had published such a calendar.
She said the events are organised by the council in collaboration with NGOs and corporate bodies.

Among the events are futsal, bicycle fun ride, bowling, charity run and recreational programmes.

The calendar also contains 13 sporting events for council workers such as table-tennis, ten-pin bowling, fishing, paintball, archery and sepak takraw.

State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow launched the calender during the council’s Family Day celebrations at Penang International Sports Arena (PISA).

Members of the public can obtain the limited copies of the calendar at the council office on Level 3, Komtar.

Tourists & Public TAKE NOTE: Ban on horses, ATVs in Batu Ferringhi

Hmm, I believe our beach will be safer with the action of banning these 2 activities, just wondering what new tactics will the operators coming up with after on:
Penang’s North-east district land office will put up billboards at Batu Ferringhi to inform the public that horse riding and beach buggies (all-terrain vehicle) are now banned activities at the beach.

State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the office would soon put up the billboards while the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) will intensify its enforcement.

“The billboards will let the operators and beach-goers know that these activities are no longer available.

“So far we have been advising the operators that the activities are prohibited. We haven’t seized any buggies yet.

“However, the council had earlier confiscated several horses that have been claimed back by the operators. We have advised them to sell off the horses,” he said after launching an intermediate Chinese course at Han Chiang College on Saturday.

The council had in November last year decided to ban commercial horse rides and beach buggies on the Batu Ferringhi beach starting this month to protect beach goers.

An MPPP online poll earlier had shown that 69.2% of 501 respondents disagreed that beach buggies be allowed on the beach while 40.1% were against horse rides.
I still remembered few years back when I went to the beach there after so many years of my last visit. It was filled with beach activities and operators and touts everywhere. Can't I just sit along the beach and enjoy the breeze?