Wonderful Malaysia

Flight accidents affect tourism sector

Malaysian government proactively tries to improve growth of its tourism sector on backdrop of back-to-back flight accidents

Summary: The article talks about how the tourism sector can improve the growth of the country. Even against the backdrop of the flight accidents, and slackening tourist flow, the country is desperately trying to improve its image to ensure the growth of the travel sector.

One of the largest and fastest growing industries, the travel and tourism sector in Malaysia contributes significantly towards the economic advancement of the country. It is also instrumental in creating various job opportunities. The growth of this sector also encourages formulation of infrastructures and government policies that would help the country progress.


As per the Economic Impact Report that released today, the council said that the total contribution of the tourism industry in Malaysia to the country’s GDP last year was USD 49.4 billion or 16.1%. The sector’s total contribution towards job creation including jobs that were directly supported by the sector was 1.86 million, 14.1% of the total employment. In 2013 alone, the total investment towards the sector stood at USD 6.46 billion and was forecasted to increase by 5.1% in 2014 over 7.7% in 2013. Further actions were undertaken to ensure the growth of the sector in the upcoming years.


Even when outlook of the sector looks positive with annual growth forecast of more than 4%, it would still require support from the government. The government needs to implement more open visa regimes and adopt intelligent rather than punitive taxation policies. The sector also needs more public private partnerships so that most infrastructure and human resource needs are planned responsibly and sustainably to absorb the positive effects of the growth.

Setbacks amidst rising airplane accidents

The recent bout of airplane disasters have however, severely hit the Malaysian tourism sector. Ever since it disappeared on March 8, 2014 which makes it precisely six months this September, Malaysian flight 370 remains to be found. In July this year, the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over territory held by pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board, resulting in severe faculties.

Disasters such as these have shed negative light on the Malaysian tourism sector. Therefore, the government is trying desperately to rope in various methods that will help it sustain growth and generate revenues to meet earlier forecasted figures. As per the travel market report of Malaysia, the tourism sector is therefore keen to promote the country as an outstanding tourist destination that is also safe. Putting behind the string of disasters in recent days, the country is being extra sensitive towards tourists by ensuring their safety.

Promoting tourism

The government and key policymakers are aiming to develop Malaysia as the perfect hub for attractions, culture, conventions, exhibitions and incentives. Malaysia is hopeful that adoption of various advancements and precautions will help the country grow 6.8 percent this year, on the back of a positive performance in 2013. Furthermore, the government believes that by encouraging tourism, it will be able to drive new investments and employment opportunities in the country. By bringing about major improvements in its infrastructure and policies, the Malaysian tourism industry hopes to increase the number of foreign tourists to the country and extend the average length of their stay. All these factors will contribute significantly towards the country’s economic growth and the overall lifestyle of the population.


The overall outlook of the tourism industry in Malaysia in the upcoming decade looks favorable with a forecasted annual growth of 4%. However, this will only grow when policymakers drive more open visa regimes and adopt intelligent rather than punitive taxation policies. It is also critical to promote both public and private partnerships to ensure long-term plans that would help in sustaining the sector. Only then would the sector experience the inevitable growth that market experts are predicting.

Author bio: Aditi Biswas is a marketing communication specialist who works with Research on Malaysia to develop insightful reports on various sectors in the country, including the Tourism industry in Australia. With the recent spurt of accidents surrounding Malaysian airlines, the country is desperately taking measures to ensure continued growth of the sector.


Wonderful Malaysia

Awan Mulan, Negeri Sembilan

Lately, most of the young working adults look for places to relax and take a complete break from their everyday life over the weekend.

Awan Mulan is a collection of small homes in the hills located in Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan which is an ideal getaway from the bustling Kuala Lumpur with only 2-3 hours’ drive away. The management over at Awan Mulan is really efficient and would inform much earlier on the necessary procedures before one heads over to Awan Mulan.

(a) Read the map given. According to the manager at Awan Mulan, these homes stand isolated on a hillside where GPS would fail to guide anyone there.

(b) Contact the manager when one reaches the contact point, which is a Chinese school. This is for the manager to guide people on the roads leading uphill as well as to head down to unlock the main gate. The roads leading uphill is quite narrow and one might have to give way to the car from the opposite direction.

Awan means ‘cloud’ in Bahasa Melayu. And it’s no wonder the place is known as Awan Mulan because the windows of the bedroom have already revealed a stunning view of forests and open skies. How nice would it be if one could wake up to this view every day? But, happiness is short-lived. Besides, the huge balcony by the kitchen could accommodate a hammock where one could lie on it at night staring into the sky blanketed with stars. However, be prepared for the area’s occupant; strange insects and mosquitoes. Rest assured, as the kitchen has mosquito coils where one can lit them up and beds with nets if one prefers not to sleep with insects. Quick to notice the intricate design of these homes where the regular glass panes on windows are replaced with painted cement boards making curtains no longer necessary and also more efficient in withstanding the rain. One house with 10 beds is equivalent to RM2000+, but it would be at a cheaper rate depending on the number of pax.



The main activities would be to relax by the pool which overlooks the jungle, known as the jungle pool where one can catch the sunrise at around 6 to 7am in the morning as well as the sunset pool for the sunset at 7pm. If that’s not enough, the pools do not contain chlorine but purely salt and the water is being pumped down from one of the waterfalls at the hilltops. Besides the pool, one can take a stroll around the place where most of the guests would have a go at the fruits that were planted there, such as mangosteens, rambutans, cikus and even durians.



When it comes to dinner, it is definitely a home away from home experience where everything from toiletries to kitchen utensils is made available. Steamboat pots, barbeque pits and even charcoal are all provided but with only one condition, remember to clean up the mess when you are done with enjoying all these privileges.

It is completely a unique experience where a group of 22 of us really enjoyed the trip. The organizer for this trip will be planning a trip to this place again sometime in November. Definitely worth going!

About the author: Onn May Ling lives in Petaling Jaya and is currently new to writing on places she has visited. Her interest is on reading, writing on Science subjects and eating.


Wonderful Malaysia

Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra

Malaysia prides itself in its unique variety in cultural difference housed under the same flag. Due to the many races and different ethnic groups living in Malaysia, culture has become an integral part of Malaysia’s identity with tourism focusing on its multi-cultural society. And what culture does not have music integrated into them? Music has been the epiphany of the representation of emotions. Music has its way of connecting to the very soul of the audience no matter race, culture or belief.


This appreciation of music has led to the founding of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), residing at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (Petronas Philharmonic Hall). In 1997, founder and first music director, Kees Bakels opened the halls for the first concert in 17 August 1998. The hall is located in one of Malaysia’s most prestigious and monumental skyscraper, the Petronas Twin Tower (KLCC).


The Philharmonic Orchestra embraces a variety of genre ranging from traditional pieces and the classical to the more modern arrangements. One can enjoy musical arrangements from traditional ethnic music to the pioneers of classical music such as Beethoven, Vivaldi and Mozart. The Philharmonic Orchestra will let down their hair and play informal pieces from time to time as well and at other times one can enjoy more modern arrangements. The multi-cultural exposure includes as well music from Mexico, Germany and Russian and the orchestra regularly invites guest musicians and conductors from other countries to create a diversified field of talents.

Music has a universal language of expression and is widely used not only within the musical field but in visual as well. Movies and video games use music to amplify the cinematic and emotions and these pieces are highly appreciated by the Philharmonic Orchestra and are offered as well in concerts from time to time.


In addition to its efforts in encouraging and fostering an appreciation of all kinds of music, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra hosts as well the Malaysia Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO) to foster the young talents of Malaysia under the ideals of late Petronas Chairman, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Azizan Zainul Abidin. The MPYO was established in 13th January 2006 with 500 talents strong. Its first public concert was held on the 25th August 2007. Its reception was overwhelming and has been since slotted for regular concerts under the direction of its principal conductor, Kevin Field.

One can definitely expect the best from the multitude of musical talents from the country with diversified genre and style of music. With its strict standards in recruiting its musicians, high quality and excellence is expected of and a guaranteed fundamental when attending any of the concert events held. As all their proceedings are formal with a small exception of informal events, all patrons are required to be dressed formally, so if you are attending an orchestral event in MPO, ensure formal attire with the inclusion of ‘Batik’ is what you will be wearing.

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Wonderful Malaysia

Porta de Santiago (A’ Famosa Fort)

There is one place in Melaka that you should not miss when you set foot into the historical state. The said place is the Porta de Santiago, which might not ring a bell even among the locals but mention the A’Famosa Fort and you would elicit an ‘ah!’. The A’Famosa is one of the oldest surviving pieces of European architectural remains in all of Asia.


A’Famosa means ‘the famous’ in Portuguese. The fort was built by the Portuguese when they arrived in Melaka in the year 1511 under the leadership of Alfonso de Alburquerque. Alfonso ordered the construction of this fort to strengthen his hold of the newly acquired land. The sturdy structure helped the Portuguese secure their reign in Melaka for a long 130 years before the arrival of the Dutch in 1641.


The Dutch managed to wrestle over the A’Famosa Fort before eventually taking over the helm of Melaka for the next 184 years. The Dutch still utilized the fort and even made major renovations to it to improve its functionality. Most of what you see today are remnants of the Dutch improvements. If you are observant enough, you’d notice a small inscription ‘ANNO 1670’ on the fort’s arch as well as the coat-of-arms of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), all marks evident of the Dutch power’s presence in Melaka.


The A’Famosa survived another colonization after the Dutch, this time under the reign of the British, who decided to demolish the fort due to the difficulty in maintaining the fort. Fortunately, part of the fort was saved by destruction by the late Sir Stamford Raffles, the then British governor, enabling us to appreciate a monument significant in Melaka’s and Malaysia’s history. The structure seen today is merely a small gate house of the fort but it is nevertheless grand in its own way, standing proudly atop the St. Paul’s Hill close to the striking red Stadhuys building.


The traffic, both human and cars, around St. Paul’s Hill is testament to the popularity of A’Famosa. The name has become synonymous with Melaka, so much that a theme park has been given the same name. Therefore, if you are seeking directions to the A’Famosa fort, be sure to specify that it is the fort that you are looking for. Coming into the Melaka town, you will soon come to the ever popular Stadhuys. Find somewhere to park, which can be a long distance away due to traffic, and make your way up St. Paul’s Hill to access the A’Famosa.


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Wonderful Malaysia

Christmas in Malaysia

I am traveling in Malaysia during Christmas, what can I expect?

When someone mentions ‘Christmas’, snow, decorated pine trees, presents and of course, Santa Claus comes to mind. It’s close to impossible to have a white Christmas in Malaysia but this doesn’t mean that the celebrations are less festive, for Christmas is celebrated the Malaysian way!


Many look forward to the Christmas decorations put up by the shopping malls. The set up is certainly pretty with gigantic Christmas trees; some are even as tall as six storeys and are heavily decked with baubles, candy canes and angels. The malls change their theme each year and try to outdo each other, only to our benefit. One year, we had one mall ‘scattered’ with life-sized teddy bears in line with their ‘Beary Christmas’ theme while another had real fake ‘snow’ falling, leading to an elderly man exclaiming, ‘Wow, there’s snow, there’s snow!’. We were actually there the first time Pavilion KL started this snowwy tradition. Hundreds came to the square in front of the mall, to see the snow coming down (it was actually a soap-like substance, but nobody minded and everybody had a great time).

As Christmas approaches, don’t be surprised to find the Christmas spirit in even the non-Christians. Malaysians from all walks of life spend the Christmas holidays visiting their friends with their families. At Christmas countdowns in selected locations, you can see people enjoying the festive cheer and wishing each other happy holidays and Merry Christmas.

You can see people wearing the signature red cap of St Nicholas and grooving to the beat of Christmas songs. There is even caroling in some malls and the audience are from different walks of life and religion too. At the workplace, colleagues organize a secret Santa event to exchange gifts, where every member of the team shares the spirit of giving, regardless of status, age or race. Christmas is not exclusively for Christians here in Malaysia but it’s celebrated by all in their own unique way without disrespecting their own religion.


Most Malaysians, celebrating or not, flock to the shopping malls – a typical Malaysian past time. There, they enjoy the activities and events organized by the malls and even do some shopping, taking advantage of the Christmas and Year End Sale. On the night of Christmas eve, when the clock strikes twelve, various locations perform firework displays to welcome Christmas with a bang. Malaysians flock to these locations earlier during the day to get good spots to view the magnificent displays of fireworks. As usual, you can find Malays, Indians, Chinese and even foreign visitors enjoying the show together. In Malaysia, you don’t need to be a Christian to enjoy Christmas and have the holiday spirit in you.


In Malaysia, Christmas is only celebrated on Christmas Eve. The actual first day of Christmas is often business as usual for many Malaysians. The lush decorations cannot be taken down soon enough after Christmas, as then all the mall will repeat the same ‘contest’ for the nearing New Years Eve (which is immediately followed by Chinese New Year preparations). The is no second day of Christmas, as this is only custom in a few countries in the world. Many restaurants have special Christmas Eve menus. This is your chance to eat out at a fancy restaurant, as due to competition prices are often very low. Usually western oriented restaurants also have a special Christmas menu for the 25th of December.


Many expats in KL take a few days of holiday during Christmas, to travel to a nice destination within Malaysia. Though it is quite fun to spend Christmas at one of the islands of Malaysia, for example at Langkawi or Penang, the most popular place in Malaysia to visit around Christmas is Cameron Highlands. The highlands have a cold(er) climate, and the setting is perfect to replicate that cold Christmas Eve. Many hotels and resorts are fully booked during Christmas, so make sure you book beforehand. This goes especially for the more exclusive and romantic places. Three very popular places to stay overnight during Christmas are The Smokehouse Hotel ***, The Lakehouse **** and Cameron Highlands Resort *****.

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