Monthly Archives: January 2012

CNY 2012 Round-Up


The Chinese lunar Year of the Dragon kicked off with an open house at the residence of Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, on the first day of the New Year. Despite attempts by certain quarters to sabotage the function with false text messages claiming it was cancelled and destroying banners announcing the event, it was successfully organised, with a huge turnout of an estimated 15,000 people from all walks of lives, including foreigners.

Chinese New Year 2012 Round-upThe occasion was graced by HRH Sultan Azlan Shah, accompanied by HRH Tuanku Bainun and members of the royal household. State dignitaries and political leaders joined in the celebration.
Zambry expressed hope that the Year of the Dragon will bring peace and prosperity not only to the people but also the state and country.

The Perak Chinese Assembly Hall hosted a Chinese New Year lunch at Impiana Hotel Ipoh on the second day of the Lunar New Year. The guests of honour were Perak Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr. Zambry Abdul Kadir and state executive councillors. Representatives from Party Keadilan Rakyat Perak were also present.

Chairman of the association, Tan Sri Dato’ Chong Chin Shoong, in his speech, raised concerns about the global economy and political issues that may impact Malaysia. He urged the Government to look into problems faced by the lower-income group.

To the surprise of the 200-odd guests, Zambry pledged an allocation of RM50,000 for the association. This was roundly applauded by all present.

State Level CNY Celebration

The state-level celebration will be held on the first day of Chinese New Year at the residence of Menteri Besar Dato Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir.

Dato' Mah announcing the State level CNY Open House celebration

HRH the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah together with HRH Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku Bainun will grace the occasion together with the Raja Muda and Raja DiHilir of Perak. They are expected to arrive at 1pm.

Executive Councilor for Local Government, Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon said the event will commence at 11am and will feature local cultural dances and songs.

Other special performances include a Wushu demonstration by SEA Games gold medalist LeeYang, 26, as well as dragon and lion dances.
Dato’ Mah expects over 10,000 visitors to the event.

CNY Celebration 2012

CNY Celebration 2012 held in Sitiawan

Dato' Dr Mah Hang Soon, seated third from right

Perak has been selected as the host for the national-level Chinese New Year (CNY) celebration this year. It will be held in Sitiawan on January 28, the sixth day of the Chinese lunar calendar. A state-level celebration was initially slated to be held at Ipoh Padang on the same evening. This is the second time Perak is given the honour. The first national CNY “open house” was in 2004.

At a press conference, executive councillor, Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon said the Year of the Dragon will be ushered in grand style with a synchronised dance performance by a total of 212 lions and 9 dragons backed by 202 Chinese drums. This record number of lions performing at the same time and at one location will surpass the current record of 168 lions, as listed in the Malaysia Book of Records.

The celebration, which will begin from 6.30pm, will see performances by internationally-known artistes such as M. Nasir, Penny Tai, teen sensation Shruthi Jayashanker and violinists Dennis Lau and Joanne Yeoh, tagged the Vanessa Mae of Malaysia. Dua Space Dance Theater and Hands Percussion Team, both award-winning groups of performers, will be on hand to wow the expected 50,000-strong crowd.

Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, cabinet ministers, MB Perak and state officials will grace the occasion. There will be plenty of food and fun for everyone.


MB Hails Perakeans


New Year 2012 countdown celebrationOver 10,000 Perakeans filled the grounds of Stadium Indera Mulia to usher in the New Year. While they waited anxiously for the countdown to midnight and the approaching New Year, they were entertained to live music and songs performed by some of the country’s top musical and singing talents. The line-up included popular singers such as Saleem of Iklim, Adam of the Akademi Fantasia genre, Ramli ‘Papa Rock’ Sarip and some home-grown talents. TV host and presenter, Dato’ AC Mizal emceed the show, which helped keep the restless crowd at bay and on their feet.

The New Year signalled the start of the much-touted and talked about event of the state – Visit Perak Year (VPY) 2012. And there to do the honours was Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Zambry Abd Kadir. Accompanying the MB under the specially erected VIP tent were his wife, Datin Seri DiRaja Sharipah Zulkifli, Executive Councillor for Tourism, Dato’ Hamidah Osman, members of the state executive committees, invited guests and senior government officials. Their singular objective was to celebrate the dawn of the New Year along with other Perakeans.

In his keynote New Year address, Zambry thanked Perakeans for their support and confidence in his administration in spite of the many complaints. “Together we’ll develop the state and ensure that its economy will prosper with the rest of the country,” he enthused. “This can be achieved if the people work hard and maintain peace and stability.”

The MB was certain that VPY 2012 would succeed considering the prevalent mood engulfing the state. “With the support of Perakeans I am certain our target of attracting five million visitors will be achieved,” he remarked. “We don’t want Perak to be known for its many touristic destinations alone. We want to be known for our warmth, friendliness and hospitality too.”

The occasion also marked the launching of the Perak Tourist Police, a dedicated police unit to help ensure tourists’ safety while they are in the state. The unit consists of a mobile and a foot-patrolling team which will be deployed to areas frequented by tourists.

At 12 midnight the sky was lit by a brilliant display of fireworks much to the delight of the excited onlookers. It signified the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012.

An earlier event held in conjunction with the launching of VPY 2012 was Perak Tourism Idol, a karaoke competition pitting winners from the various districts. Fifteen finalists were on stage vying for the coveted title. Fendy Shah Nayan, 32, representing Ipoh, was adjudged the winner. Second placing went to Nina Pelez, 19, from Teluk Intan. Primary school student, Shahrul Izlan, 12, was placed third.


Nur Sofiera’s Condition


We refer to the letter “Nur’s Parents Seek Justice “(Ipoh Echo Issue 134, December 16, 2011).

We wish to extend our deepest sympathy to Nur Sofiera’s parents for their child’s condition. Nur Sofiera was initially admitted to the Paediatrics Ward at Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun Ipoh on March 11, 2009 for fever and fits. She was treated and discharged. She was again admitted on April 5, 2009 with similar problems and developed other complications which were treated. As she was noted to have hypocalcaemia, a slow injection of Calcium Gluconate was given for hypocalcaemia. Unfortunately, the Calcium Gluconate extravasated and caused tissue necrosis of the right hand, which healed with permanent scarring and deformity of the said hand. This is a known complication of Calcium Gluconate injection.

Nur Sofiera also has cerebral palsy due to the exposure to cytomegalovirus while she was still in her mother’s womb. As a result, she had neurological deficit and developmental delay. This had been verified by blood tests and MRI brain scanning of the child. This information was repeatedly explained to the parents by Paediatric doctors during consultations as well as during home visits by the hospital team with the state health director.

We have provided the best possible medical care and referral to appropriate departments for the rehabilitation of Nur Sofiera in order to improve her neurological and functional outcome.

To resolve the parent’s anxiety and dissatisfaction, we have, to date, initiated an Independent Inquiry on this issue.

Dato’ Dr Hj Ahmad Razin Bin Dato’ Hj Ahmad Mahir
Perak State Health Director


Subsidised Housing Scheme


Yayasan Bina Upaya Darul Ridzuan (YBU)Yayasan Bina Upaya Darul Ridzuan (YBU) will soon introduce a funding scheme to allow the less fortunate an opportunity to own a house. The foundation’s proposed subsidised-housing scheme is estimated to cost RM5 million. For a start, a pilot project will be built near Taman Kaya in Taiping on a 50-acre former mining land site. Application for funding has been forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Department for approval, said Dato’ Zainal Abidin Omar, CEO of YBU. “I expect it to be approved sometime this year,” he said.

The foundation-initiated programme is targeted at those earning RM3,000 and less a month. “There are plenty in this category. Due to their financial standing they can’t commit themselves to a housing loan primarily because they neither have the means nor the resources to service bank loans,” he told Ipoh Echo after handing over keys to three recipients of houses under YBU’s Housing Infra Aid Programme (Bantuan Perumahan Infra) recently. The proposed project in Taiping will take the form of low-cost housing with each unit costing between RM35,000 to RM 55,000.

“They only need to pay YBU a monthly instalment of about RM150 for a fixed number of years to repay the soft loan,” said Zainal Abidin. “We’ll simplify the application procedures to reduce bureaucracy and red tape,” he remarked. The availability of this new scheme will be announced once the green light is received.

Last year YBU spent RM4 million to build and repair houses under its Housing Infra Aid programme. “A total of 60 new houses were constructed while 710 houses were repaired. Another RM4 million will be set aside for a similar programme this year,” said the CEO. Those in dire need to repair their dilapidated houses will, however, get a reprieve, as the state has allocated an additional RM1.3 million for the said purpose.

Eligibility for such privilege is contingent upon the applicants’ disposition. Application for the housing-aid programme must be supported by proof, preferably by the applicants’ political representatives (Aduns) or their village heads.

This is part of the state government’s strategy to eradicate poverty and to assist the poor and the marginalised, regardless of ethnicity and beliefs. A number of public and private agencies are involved in the programme. Among them are CIMB Bank and Majlis Agama Islam dan Adat Melayu Perak.

Those keen on applying can enquire with YBU at 05-255 5945/46 or visit the foundation’s office at Greentown Square, Jalan Dato’ Seri Ahmad Said, Ipoh (near Restoran Simpang Tiga).

The handing-over ceremony (pic) was done at the finished house belonging to Puan Robaiyah Abdullah, 48, in Kampong Kepayang.


Impiana New Year Celebrations with Julian Mokhtar


Impiana New Year Celebrations with Julian MokhtarBidding farewell to 2011 and welcoming 2012, Impiana Hotel Ipoh rang in the New Year not with fireworks but with Julian Mokhtar in the house, dishing out his all-time favourite blues tracks into the New Year with his band, Soul Doctors. Julian Mokhtar, Malaysia’s very own home-grown living blues legend, was brought in to play at The Bistro to spark up the night. Definitely an overwhelming experience for everyone who was present.

Haven Fetes Its Customers

The Haven - Peter Chan

Peter Chan, CEO of Superboom Projects Sdn Bhd

Tambun’s Haven Lakeside Residences, developed by Superboom Projects Sdn Bhd, held a dinner to fete its customers recently. Contractors, suppliers, bankers, valuers, consultants, and purchasers were invited to view completed units and to enjoy some merriment, courtesy of the developer.

On track to be completed by middle of next year, the structure of all three towers compromising 26 floors, with 497 units, has been completed. Works on the jogging track is near completion and the swimming pool will start after Chinese New Year. Peter Chan, CEO of Superboom Projects Sdn Bhd remarked that the Haven has passed the half-way mark in sales with almost 70% of the condominiums sold. The condos are said to have the lowest selling price per square feet in the country for luxury condos. Sales to locals are in excess of 50%. The current prices are a bargain, as it is not yet reflective of its status as a resort condo. This is confirmed by Chris Boyd, Malaysia’s Executive Chairman of CBRE, the world’s largest realtor. The Haven won the Best Resort Condo Award in the country last year.

Guests visited the different kinds of units available at the site. Surrounded by a 4-ha hilly terrain fringed by pristine tropical forest, the Haven comes with high quality finishing and eco-features like solar energy and rainwater harvesting. Every inch of each unit is put to good use, as the design is meticulous. There is no need for renovation, unless the owner requests. Buyers present at the function were overjoyed with their purchases and voiced their appreciation openly.

Incidentally, the purchasers have contributed a congratulatory ad to show their appreciation to the developer (see page 7). This is probably the first time ever a developer is appreciated in public by his customers.


Misleading Information


On my way home recently, I chanced upon a billboard, outside of the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang, extolling the virtues of Visit Perak Year 2012. What puzzles me is the depiction of Istana Kenangan in Kuala Kangsar as the primary image associated with the occasion. Istana Kenangan, incidentally, is under renovation and is closed to the public. Its portrayal, therefore, is not appropriate at this moment in time.

At the Medan Mega Fair recently the Mayor was seen showing an Indonesian official a map of Ipoh. The map is a folded brochure detailing historical landmarks within the city, places to eat, to shop and to recreate and a list of private hospitals. Obviously, it is meant for Medan folks who wish to seek an alternative location for their medical needs.

The English-language brochure has many factual errors, including grammatical mistakes which I had raised with the council staff. The continued use of this brochure may not be in the best interest of Ipoh City Council, as the information available is misleading. Hopefully, remedial measures are taken before it is too late.


A Badly Conceived Election Budget Allocation


Recently, the leading state newspaper in Perak carried an article which contained details of the Perak State Government’s budget for 2012 which was tabled before the State Assembly on November 21, 2011 (Ipoh Echo, Issue 133, 1-15 December 2011).

Among the key items of planned allocation in what is clearly a pre-election budget aimed at buying votes for the present state government in the coming elections, the most problematic is the RM60 million fund set up to assist first time house buyers by providing the 10% deposit as required by banks to purchase a new house.

I sympathise with the plight of first-time low-income house buyers and agree on the need to assist them in helping with home ownership. I can also understand the populist intention of the programme. However, this programme – as it is currently designed – is not only likely to fall short of its noble goal but will result in grief to the Perak administration.

I can already foresee the following difficulties:

What will happen if the buyers cannot pay the monthly instalments to the banks? A Housing Loan Manager of one of the leading banks told me that the bank can issue the first letter of demand after the defaulter fails to pay up only after three months. Also that the bank is able to initiate legal action only after three letters of demand have been sent out. In all likelihood, the legal procedure to recover the property will take six months or more. Hence, it could take more than one year at least for the bank to evict a defaulter. By the time the house is repossessed, it would be in such a deplorable condition that the bank will not be able to recover its loan and administration costs in most of the cases. To sell a repossessed property, the bank also has to advertise to invite bids. In most cases, the bank will not be able to get

the reserved price in the first auction. If this happens, the bank will have to reduce the reserved price by 10%.  If the second auction is not successful, the reserved price will have to be reduced by another 10%.

What will happen when a buyer cannot pay back the 10% to the State Government? Does the Government have the necessary machinery to recover the debt? As you can see above, there are laws to protect the poor men. Even the commercial banks with all the rules and regulations in place, still have difficulties to recover their money, how can the Perak State Government expect to do better?
The administrative costs to recover the debt is not only likely to be considerable but could also exceed the 10% loan outlay. This will further impoverish the state by diverting resources to unproductive expenditure. What this means is that any recovery of loan funds will be much less than what has been dispensed, leading to a short life-span for the so-called “rolling” fund.

I hope all members of the Perak State Assembly will consider these comments seriously and delay the implementation of the scheme until a later date when all the design and operational kinks and problems are fully understood and accounted for.

A better planned and more stringent housing loan scheme is needed for the state if it is to be sustainable. The unseemly haste with which this poorly designed scheme is being pushed through for the coming elections will surely backfire on the state government and all Perak subjects.

Koon Yew Yin