Malaysia, Indonesia to cooperate in Marine Tourism Triangle

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya and Malaysia’s Tourism and Culture Deputy Minister Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Marine Tourism Triangle Cooperation that will establish a cruise route between Langkawi in Malaysia, Phuket in Thailand and Sabang in Aceh province.

The agreement was made in Bangkok on Wednesday, during the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) 2017 Global Summit.

“We want to build a yacht and a sailing route that will allow travelers to visit three countries on one cruise,” said Arief.

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“After the Sail Sabang 2017 [event] in December, there will be a marine tourism project that is going to connect the three ports,” he added.

The agreement aims to help promote the Triangular Sailing Passage between Langkawi, Phuket and Sabang.

During a recent meeting with Arief in Bangkok, Thai Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said that Phuket has agreed to join the cooperation and would soon sign the MoU.

Source – TheJakartaPost

North Korea orders Malaysian ambassador out

North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol, second from right, arrives at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia on March 6, 2017. Malaysia is protecting its “sovereignty and dignity” by expelling the North Korean ambassador, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday, as relations between the countries frayed over the poisoning of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader. (Associated Press/Vincent Thian)

Kuala Lumpur | Mon, March 6, 2017 | 08:29 pm

North Korea has ordered Malaysia’s ambassador out of the country in a tit-for-tat after Malaysia expelled North Korea’s envoy over the death of Kim Jong-nam at Kuala Lumpur’s airport.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Monday that the Malaysian ambassador has been labeled persona non grata and ordered to leave within 48 hours.

On Saturday, Malaysia ordered North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol to depart within 48 hours after he criticized Malaysia’s handling of the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Kang told reporters Monday as he prepared to leave at Kuala Lumpur’s airport that Malaysia was taking “extreme measures” that would do “great harm” to bilateral relations.

Malaysia had already announced on Feb. 20 that it was recalling its ambassador to North Korea “for consultations.”

Source; TheJakartaPost

Interpol: $5.1 million of illegal wildlife and timber seized

Interpol says a three-week operation to tackle the illegal trade in wildlife and timber in 43 countries has led to the seizure of $5.1 million worth of illicit products from wild cats to seahorses and the jailing of almost 90 people.

The operation, codenamed Thunderbird, was carried out jointly by police, customs and border agencies, along with environment, wildlife and forestry officials ahead of World Wildlife Day on Friday.

Its results put a spotlight on the increase in wildlife trafficking and the billions of dollars it generates annually in illegal profits.

“Simply put,” said Interpol Secretary-General Jurgen Stock, “criminals are helping themselves to the environment’s precious resources without a care for the cost to our planet.”

He said in a statement that the success of the operation demonstrates what can be achieved by international cooperation.

The operation from Jan. 30 to Feb. 19 has already resulted in 370 investigations which have led to 89 people being jailed for terms ranging from several days to seven years, Interpol said.

According to Interpol, the seizures included 60 tons of wood and timber, 4,770 birds, 1,240 reptiles, 100 wild cats, 2.75 tons of pangolin scales, 2.5 tons of raw and processed ivory, 25 tons of various animal parts and 37,130 other products including medicines, ornaments and carvings.

US authorities seized 180 dead seahorses concealed in snack boxes, Interpol said, while officers in Hong Kong seized 1.3 tons of red sandalwood hidden in a container shipped from Malaysia.

World Wildlife Day, which was established in 2013, commemorates the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora known as CITES on March 3, 1973.

“Given the current rate of poaching and smuggling, will future generations one day speak of elephants, rhinoceros and many other endangered species as we speak of mammoths.?” CITES Secretary General John Scanlon asked at a UN event Friday marking the day . “We must not and will not allow this to happen.” (**)

Source: TheJakartaPost

Indonesian suspect partied night before assassination on Kim Jong-nam

Petaling Jaya – The night before the assassination, Siti Aisyah partied with her friends ar a wellknown night club in Kuala Lumpur.

A day before the assassination, Siti Aisyah had a wild night out with her friends to celebrate her pending success as an Internet celebrity.

One of her close friends, who spoke to China Press on condition of anonymity, said Siti Aisyah’s friends chipped in to throw a birthday party for her at a wellknown night club in Kuala Lumpur on February 12. That was before she was scheduled to participate in a “prank for a reality show”.

In a video shown to the daily, Siti Aisyah laughed and covered her face shyly when her friends commented that she was going to be a “big star”. Her birthday was on February 11.

“I do not believe Siti Aisyah would kill someone just for money. “It is impossible. I think she has been framed,” said her friend, adding that she was shocked when Siti Aisyah was named as one of the suspects who killed Kim Jongnam.

Jongnam was the estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jongun. She said Siti Aisyah did not know and had no motive to kill him.

Although she had no way of finding out the truth, she believed that Siti Aisyah was innocent.“She is a very simple person and hoped to one day break into the entertainment industry. “I knew of her ambition about a year ago,” she said.

She added that she hoped Siti Aisyah would be released soon and reunited with her family in Indonesia.

Siti Aisyah was one of two women suspects who police said wiped Jongnam’s face with a deadly chemical at KLIA2 on Feb 13. Siti Aisyah was nabbed three days later.

She told Indonesian embassy officials that she was paid 400 ringgit (US$90) to take part in what she thought was a prank, and that she was under the impression the liquid given to her was baby oil.

Source: The Nation

This combo shows four suspects, Malaysian Muhammad Farid Bin Jalaluddin (top L), Doan Thi Huong (top R) of Vietnam, North Korean Ri Jong Chol (bottom L) and Siti Aisyah of Indonesia (bottom R).//AFP

Exploring the delights of the Eastern and Oriental Express

Exploring the delights of the Eastern and Oriental Express

Eastern and Oriental Express, the luxury tourist train, played host to a lavish evening cocktail party in Bangkok on Monday, February 13, giving the Thai media a short but very luxurious ride that started at Bangkok’s Hualampong Station.

The three-hour ride allowed guests to discover the services and hospitality of Eastern and Oriental Express. 

Cocktails, finger foods and music from DJs and the piano bar fuelled the cocktail reception, which was already in swing as the locomotive pulled out of Bangkok’s main station. 

The Eastern and Oriental Express is run by the British hotel and leisure firm Belmond, formerly known as Orient-Express Hotels.

The luxurious tourist train offers a travel opportunity of a lifetime through its classic routes – Bangkok to Singapore and vice versa. It journeys through the countryside of Malaysia and Thailand stopping off at some fascinating destinations. 

In Thailand the tourist train travels further to Kanchanaburi Province, where tourists can see the famous Bridge of the River Kwai spanning the river dividing Thailand and Myanmar.

Tuesday’s cocktail event allowed guests to have a sneak preview of the luxurious cabins (sleepers), which range from the Pullman Cabin made for the solo traveler to the State and President cabins for two sharing.

All rooms have ensuite facilities. The cabins feature wood and lacquered panels with floral motifs and wooden floors that reflect the exotic East. 

The party reached its highest point as guests gathered in the main bar where the resident pianist, saxophonist and vocalist entertained with cool jazz. –

Phoowadon Duangmee, TheNation

Xaysana linked to alleged drug networks in South Thailand and Malaysia

EVIDENCE has been uncovered that links alleged Laotian drug kingpin Xaysana Keopimpha to a network suspected of selling drugs in Thailand’s South and also Malaysia.

Narcotics Control Board secretary general Sirinya Sitthichai confirmed a link had been established between the network of Bulan Tareeseub and Xaysana.

“They have had some connections,” Sirinya said. Last month, police nabbed Xaysana at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Bulan, meanwhile, was arrested alongside Jitpanu Saeheng at a safe house in Songkhla’s Hat Yai district on Thursday on drug-related charges. Cash and jewellery were found in their possession.

Bulan’s assets worth more than Bt68 million have already been confiscated pending the investigation.

According to authorities, Bulan is married to Mamarussan Darormae – who was arrested in Malaysia in 2014 on drug offences.

“Following the arrest of her husband, she has allegedly continued the drug trade,” Sirinya said.

Sirinya said that major drug suspect Kamarudin bin Awang, who is known in Thailand as Zainudeng Ma and was nabbed in Malaysia earlier this week, was a part of Xaysana’s alleged network.

Narcotics Suppression Bureau’s spokesman Pol Maj-General Sunthorn Chalermkiat, meanwhile, said his agency was now taking over the investigation into a recent big haul of illicit drugs in Bangkok’s Nong Chok district to assess its possible link to Xaysana.

 “Local police have forwarded the investigation on the drug seizure to us to facilitate the expanding probe into Xaysana’s alleged drug network in Thailand,” Sunthorn said yesterday.

On Thursday night, police found 2.67 million methamphetamine tablets, 7 kilos of crystal meth-amphetamine, 5 kilos of ketamine, and 34,000 ecstasy pills at a house in Nong Chok. Arrested at the house was Anon Laokasem, 24.

According to police, Anon has confessed that he was paid to stock and deliver the illicit drugs. He has received Bt700,000 after he completed the deliveries of the first lot of drugs during the past two months.

Police are now expanding their investigation into Xaysana’s alleged drug network. Xaysana, who had long portrayed himself as a rich and well-connected man from Laos, is believed to have had extensive connections on Thai soil.

Earlier this month, famous motorcycle racer Akarakit “Benz Racing” Worarohcharoendet became the first Thai celebrity to have surfaced in the Xaysana’s scandal.

One of Xaysana’s alleged accomplices, Nattapon Nakkam, said he had used Akarakit’s name in buying a Lamborghini and a big bike.

The two vehicles have now been seized pending further investigation alongside 10 other items of assets linked to Nattapon.

After publicly mentioning the questionable Lamborghini early this month, the NSB has received several reports of suspicious super cars from people.

“Thank you for sending information to us. We are in the process of verifying the report,” Sunthorn said.

He added that the NSB was now checking into the reports that a man in Pathum Thani’s Lam Luk Ka district had surprisingly owned more than 40 luxury cars.

“We will check if he has engaged in illicit drug trade,” Sunthorn said.

Source: TheNation

Malaysian national linked to Laos drug lord Xaysana arrested

BANGKOK: Thai police have contacted their Malaysian counterparts, requesting permission to interrogate a Malaysian drug suspect to probe his possible link to Xaysana Keopimpha’s alleged drug network.

Kamarudin bin Awang was arrested in Malaysia’s Kelantan State on Monday, weeks after Thai police had nabbed Xaysana – a high-profile Laotian – at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

“We have already contacted Malaysian police,” Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) chief Pol Lt-General Sommai Kongwisaisuk said yesterday.

He described Kamarudin as a man who had allegedly facilitated drug flows from Thailand’s North to Malaysia for years.

“I’ve heard that at the time of his arrest, more than Bt30 million cash was found, hidden in PVC pipes,” he added.

Sommai said there were grounds to believe both Kamarudin and Xaysana might have been drug lords.

NSB deputy chief Pol Maj-General Pornchai Charoenwong said his agency was now busy listing assets linked to Xaysana.

“We expect to complete the list by February 10,” he said.

He added that relevant authorities would then discuss financial probes next week.

Xaysana – who had long portrayed himself as a rich and well-connected man from Laos – is reported to have owned hundreds of super-cars.

Akarakit “Benz Racing” Woraroj-charoendet, a famous motorcycle racer, became the first Thai celebrity to be |linked to Xaysana because of a Lamborghini Gallardo SuperLeggera that he flaunted.

Akarakit often posed for photos with the luxury car. He claimed he owned it but Nattapon Nakkam, who was arrested earlier this month for allegedly facilitating Xaysana’s drug trade in Thailand, has told police he bought the vehicle in Akarakit’s name.

Police have suggested the possibility that many prominent Thai figures assisted Xaysana with money laundering and asset concealment.

According to Sommai, at least three super-cars linked to Akarakit and Nattapon are now in police custody pending further investigation. Each of them is worth about Bt20 million.

Pol Maj-General Chatree Paisansilp, a deputy chief of the NSB, said Akarakit would be summoned for questioning again next week.

“He’s now a suspect,” Chatree said.

Last Friday, Akarakit turned himself in to the NSB, claiming he did not know Xaysana and had simply borrowed Bt6 million from Nattapon to buy the Lamborghini.

At this point, police do not think Akarakit has sufficient evidence to support his claim.

Nattawat Huangmanee – the owner of the Buono Auto Clinic where the Lamborghini was sold – told police yesterday that the super-car initially belonged to a financial institution.

He declined to answer a media question as to whether he knew Akarakit and Nattapon.

Sommai disclosed that the ongoing investigation had already expanded to about 20 luxury cars on the Lao side as well.

“We have already requested information on these vehicles from Laos, as we suspect that they might have been linked to Xaysana,” he said.

Thai authorities have firmly dismissed rumours that Laos had demanded the release of Xaysana.

Deputy national police Commissioner Pol General Rungroj Sangkram, meanwhile, said a fact-finding committee was trying to gather evidence on the allegation that Pol Captain Pattarapon Thuaythong, a deputy inspector at Suvarnabhumi Airport’s checkpoint, had special ties with Xaysana.

“We will announce the probe results to the public, too,” Rungroj said.

An informed source said that Pattarapon always greeted Xaysana at the airport and kept a car key for the Laotian.

“If he is found guilty, he will face both disciplinary and criminal action,” Rungroj said. – The Nation/Asia News Network

Source: Laotiantimes

Malaysia – Carving out his own niche

Luthier Jeffrey Yong explains why he likes to use nontraditional wood for his guitars

Alder, ash, basswood, maple – these are just some of the woods used to craft the body of guitars. Malaysian Jeffrey Yong, though, has always preferred to use the tonewoods, as the cuts are known, from trees found in the region, and over the course of his career has crafted his instruments from the rain tree, rambutan tree, mango tree, rosewood, and cengal amongst others.

Now he’s hoping to try his hand at using Musang King, the wood of a type of durian tree.

Yong, 58, is one of the very few luthiers in the region. He has received various international awards and is often invited to exhibit his instruments overseas.

His career as a luthier started in the mid-1980s, the day, he laughs, when he realised he would never become the No 1 guitarist in the world. In 1985 he bought a set of equipment and started making musical instruments, travelling abroad to refine his skills and place orders for his materials.

“On one occasion when I was buying wood overseas to make guitars, the locals asked me why I was buying wood overseas when Malaysia is famous for exporting wood,” he recalls. “That really woke me up.

“At first my instruments made with non-traditional wood were treated with suspicion,” he says. “But as long as the sound produced is good, the process and raw materials are not important and musicians quickly came to understand that.”

The highest point of his 31-year career came when he won the top prize for a guitar made with rain tree wood in a contest organised by The Guild of American Luthiers (GAL) in 2006.

“It was like an athlete taking part in Olympics. Competing with so many others, I felt extremely small and never thought I had a chance to win.”

Yet Yong remains sad that despite receiving international recognition and fame, the majority of Malaysians do not know him. His Malaysian students make up only one per cent of his total students.

“A university lecturer told me that would-be luthiers are take to Japan to visit a factory manufacturing musical instruments,” he laments.

Yong describes making a musical instrument as similar to painting. “You need time and or inspiration. It might take two to three months perhaps even one year,” he says, adding that his classes do however enable students to make a guitar in two weeks.

In addition to guitar, he also makes the ukulele, sape and sundatang, traditional musical instruments from Sarawak.

One problem he faces is requests from people wanting tailor-made musical instruments. “They usually want a smaller musical instrument or one that fits their physical size. I always say no.

“Take a piano for example. A small child can play a standard size piano. He or she doesn’t need one made to scale.”

Yong is also the founder of Institute Guitar Malaysia and is often called upon to give lessons.

He tells parents not to just sign up their kids for classes for the sake of it nor impose their own interest in music on their children.

“The starting point for learning music is important. Let the children understand and like music. Don’t push them into sitting exam after exam. They play without knowing their mistakes. They can play difficult music pieces but they play without soul.”

He advises parents who feel their kids do have a talent for music not to rush them. “Don’t push them into attending music school. That will kill a child’s interest in music. Instead let them decide when they are ready.

“People tend to buy a guitar, learn how to play a couple of songs then complain that they are unable to make a living with music. They have never explored music in a professional manner. But you can make a career out of music. Music teachers, for example, have a good income.”

Yong is now planning to start classes in China, hoping to pass down his luthier skills to the new generation of Chinese.

Source: TheNation

Cambodia – Plan for Jurassic park is hatched

A Malaysian investment firm and its Cambodian-registered partner are looking to build a “Jurassic Theme Park” as part of a proposed $51 million entertainment complex that would include a casino, hotel and 500 serviced apartments set to rise in Prey Veng province near the Vietnamese border, according to a filing on the Malaysian stock exchange yesterday.

MQ Technology Bhd, a Malaysian investment holding company, said in the filing that it intends to form a joint venture with the newly established Cambodian Resort and Entertainment Ltd (CRE) to build the proposed development, with construction to be completed within the next six years.

The official filing on the Malaysian bourse provides new details on a speculated proposal for a casino and theme park development that the Post first reported on Monday.

According to a signed memorandum of agreement (MoA), Star Acres Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of MQ Technology, would hold 70 percent of the joint venture with CRE holding the remainder. The agreement states that Star Acres would shell out an initial $1.5 million to build the dinosaur-themed amusement park, while both partners would provide management services for the project’s 5.1 hectares of land.

Robbie Hari Krishnan Tatparandam, executive director of MQ Technology, who is spearheading the proposed development, said the project was still in its early stages. “Right now, the agreement is just to conduct a feasibility study to see if the project has potential,” he said, adding that his role in the company – which specialises in high-precision mould-making and magnetic coils for hard-disk drives – was to restructure the business to make it more profitable.

“We are trying to look for other investment potential outside of what we traditionally do, and we are already trying to build a theme park in the southern Malaysian state of Malacca,” he said.

MQ Technology has already raised nearly half of the $13.5 million needed to complete the Malaysian project, which is being developed on 3.7 hectares of reclaimed land, through the issuance of additional shares earlier this year, he said.

Tatparandam said the company was looking at all available options to raise capital for the Cambodian project. Few details are known on CRE, which was registered at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce in May by Chan Loong Wai, a resident of Malaysia.

According to Tatparandam, CRE is a Cambodian-based holding company established by Star Acres and MQ Technology in anticipation of the project. He said the company was already actively investing in scaling up an existing casino in preparation for its grand investment scheme.

“CRE has already invested $3 million into an existing casino in Prey Veng to refurbish the casino floor and improve the karaoke area,” he said.

While Tataparandam could not recall off-hand the name of the existing casino, Ros Phirun, deputy director of the finance industry department at the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), said there were only two casinos in the area that had been granted licences: Monaco Casino and Arunbopea Casino.

Michael Ho, whose name is listed as a contact on commercial registry documents for both CRE and Arunbopea Casino, said in an email yesterday that he was a friend of the chairmen of the two companies, though he denied any involvement in the project.

According to Pich Song, governor of Preah Sdech district in Prey Veng province, a group of Malaysian investors purchased the Arunbopea Casino two months ago from Hak Leng, a Cambodian business tycoon. “The deal is already done,” he said. “Right now, the casino is not operational as the Malaysians are remodelling it.”

He added that documents the MEF provided him show the casino’s licence is due to expire at the end of the year. “The company will have to apply for a new licence before it resumes operations,” Song said. While the MEF’s Phirun said that he was unaware of the details of the $51 million project, he suggested its success would depend on its ability to draw Vietnamese to its casino and Cambodians to its theme park.

“I believe they are investing more to create an integrated resort,” he said. “From my understanding, currently there are very few visitors from Vietnam coming to Prey Veng and the casinos there are empty. So a better destination would be welcomed.”

Source: PhnomPenhPost

Malaysia enthrones new king in lavish ceremony

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia on Tuesday installed its 15th king, Sultan Muhammad V, a relatively youthful monarch known for his fondness for four-wheel driving and other extreme sports.

In a ceremony steeped in pomp and centuries of tradition, the 47-year-old Sultan, dressed in gold-coloured traditional Malay formal wear, took the oath of office in the national palace in Kuala Lumpur.

The ceremony, marked by honour guards and Islamic prayers, was televised nationally and attended by Prime Minister Najib Razak and hundreds of guests decked out in Islamic finery.

Sultan Muhammad V, currently the ceremonial ruler of the conservative Islamic northern state of Kelantan, takes the national throne under the rotating monarchy in place since independence from Britain in 1957.

     In a unique arrangement, the throne of the Muslim-majority country changes hands every five years between the rulers of the nine Malaysian states still headed by Islamic royalty.

Sultan Muhammad V studied at St Cross College at Oxford and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, according to official media.

He is known for a relaxed public persona, taking part in walkathons to promote health, and has been photographed wearing a baseball cap backwards.

The Sultan “fills his free time by reading and has an interest in extreme sports such as four-wheel drive expeditions and endurance challenges and shooting,” Bernama news agency said.

Despite the merely ceremonial role, Malaysia’s Islamic royalty command great respect, especially from Muslim Malays, the country’s majority group, and criticizing them is strictly forbidden.

Portraits of the king and queen adorn government buildings throughout the country. The king is also the symbolic head of Islam in the nation, as well as the nominal chief of the military.

Malaysia’s sultans trace a lineage back to Malay sultanates of the 15th century. The king is referred to as Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or “He Who Is Made Lord”.

Sultan Muhammad V replaces Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah from the northern state of Kedah, now 89, who was king previously in the 1970s and became the first person to hold the position twice.

Source: TheNation