Border crossing from Cambodia to ThailandBLANK EXPRESSIONSCustoms and immigrations checks can be some of the most anxious moments of any journey even for those who have nothing to hide. These days, there is a lot to be learnt and while I know and understand most passport rules, new ones occasionally present themselves. BORDER ZONESThere are crossings and there are crossings as anyone who has travelled through the developing world will bear testimony. While most travellers arrive in a country via airport where there appear to be customs and immigration rules, it’s the remote land and even sea border crossings that interest me most. Border crossings also have their own set of rules that are a combination of both countries and where local traders, dealers, fixers, panhandlers, desperados and opportunists rule the streets and know what they can get away with and what they can’t.
No stopping me this yearLAST Sunday, I did my first run for the year. Soon, we will have the first long weekend with the Chinese New Year celebrations on Jan 28-29. With these long weekends, we can practically save our precious annual leave for more regular short trips or for longer holidays in further destinations. By the look of it, with these long weekends, all my travel plans may go as planned. Zalina Mohd Som is an easy-to-please traveller, as long as there’s coffee and chilli.
After a three hour transit, my family and I continue our journey to our destination — Casablanca, Morocco. Located in the central-western part of the country, bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco. It is the largest mosque in Morocco and the 13th largest in the world. It is indeed a sight to behold, built based on Moorish influences with almost all materials sourced from Morocco. ADIEU MOROCCOOur final destination is Tangier, a city by the Straits of Gibraltar and an important port city in Morocco.
KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 19): As expected, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 3% today at its first Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting of the year. The central bank had reduced the overnight policy rate (OPR) by 25 basis points to 3% on July 13, 2016. The MPC will continue to assess the balance of risks surrounding the outlook for domestic growth and inflation," it added. On the global front, BNM said the global economy is projected to expand at a slightly faster pace this year. "Nevertheless, heightened uncertainty and downside risks to global growth remain, arising from risks of protectionism, geopolitical developments and commodity price volatility.
KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 19): Singapore may cancel its plan to impose reciprocal road charge (RRC) of S$6.40 on all foreign-registered cars entering the island state, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. He said Malaysia plans to impose a road charge at other border entry points with Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia. "The RRC mirrors Malaysia's road charge of RM20 (S$6.40) per entry for non-Malaysia-registered cars entering Johor, which was implemented on Nov 1, 2016," LTA was quoted as saying. The joint statement serves to affirm both parties' commitment to strengthen their cooperation in the field of land public transport. Both parties also declare their intention to cooperate in the area of land public transport in the fields of regulation, policies, planning, economic models, technologies, training and operations.
I trekked to Annapurna Base Camp with friends. That particular trip made me fall in love with the beauty of Annapurna. I made up my mind to visit the place again, and last November, I was back in the land of the mountains to make my second trip to Annapurna Base Camp. Although it was my second time, the idea of being able to witness the beauty of Annapurna again raised goosebumps. Pix by Azli WahabThe highlight of the trip was the spectacular sunrise at the base camp.
KUALA LUMPUR: There would not be any cannibalism to domestic elements with continuous inflows of foreign investments, especially from China, said InvestKL chief executive officer Datuk Zainal Amanshah. "It is also important to recognise that we are now attracting high value and high skilled investments - creating opportunities for real estate and talents. "That will create different opportunities for different types of demand," he told reporters at InvestKL's 2016 updates and 2017 market outlook here, today. A media report earlier quoted former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as saying that the aggressive move to attract such investments will threaten Malaysia, criticising the inflow of mainland China investments into Malaysia. He was reported to have accused Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of “opening the floodgates for foreign power to influence local political parties”.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s automotive sales have hit their lowest level in six years to 580,124 units in 2016. However, the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) expects sales to grow slightly to 590,000 units in 2017. Automotive sales for 2016 barely passed the year’s target of 580,000 units. The last time the total industry volume (TIV) was below the 600,000 mark was in 2009 at 536,906 units. Aishah said that the automotive market for 2017 remains challenging due to global economic uncertainties, the depreciation of the ringgit and stringent approvals on hire purchase loans.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) has lowered its growth outlook this year to 4.5 per cent, saying external demand is not likely to be as strong as expected. Dr Zakariah also highlighted that a rise in protectionist sentiment in developed economies, thanks to recent political developments across the world, will affect growth. Export demand has been downgraded to 1.3 per cent from an initial forecast of 3.0 per cent a year. MIER has maintained its GDP growth projection for 2016 at 4.2 per cent, led by domestic demand. For 2018, the economy is expected to grow at a faster clip of between 4.7 per cent and 5.3 per cent, as the think tank expects both domestic and export demand to improve further.
PETALING JAYA: A photo of a lorry with a Penang licence plate carrying dead chickens has gone viral, with claims that the meat was meant for human consumption. The image shows dead chickens being carried openly without containers or any covering, and had a caption claiming that the chickens were being sold for RM2 each to eateries. A voice recording was also shared together with the image, in which a man is heard saying in Malay that it was not the first time that chickens were transported this way. The man added that the dead chickens were bought and sold in this way. Neither the claims or the voice recording could be verified as at press time.
He added that this was to encourage civil servants to report bribery, which would in turn eradicate corruption altogether. However, said that only 162 civil servants had reported instances bribery despite the incentive. "There are 1.6 million civil servants, so only 0.01% of them have reported cases. We do not want this," he added, urging more civil servants to step up against corruption. Sadly not many civil servants are willing to step up, although we have the Witness Protection Act and Whistleblower Protection Act," he said.
"Apple is coming here because it sees a lucrative market, this is not a favour being done to India." Competitors such as South Korea's Samsung Electronics and China's Xiaomi have already set up manufacturing in the country. Despite the reluctance of some officials, Modi could intervene to get the Apple project back on schedule. Currently, Indian rules restrict such imports to phones that are no older than three years. Apple asked for the government's help in quickly processing a request for a ruling from Indian tax authorities on transfer pricing agreements between its affiliates.
KUALA LUMPUR: The board of Shell Refining Company (Federation of Malaysia) Bhd and the independent adviser have advised the minority shareholders to reject the takeover offer from Malaysia Hengyuan International Ltd.Independent adviser AmInvestment Bank said on Thursday the offer price of RM1.92 per offer share was not fair as it was 53.8% to 59.6% below the range of fair value per share based on discounted cashflow (DCF) valuation of between RM4.16 and RM4.75 per share.It also said the offer was a 61.13% to 65.76% below the closing market price as well as historical volume weighted average price (VWAP) of the shares up to the acquisition announcement, which ranged from RM4.94 to RM5.6082.AmInvest added it was 7.72% to 47.73% below the closing market price as well as historical VWAPs Refining shares up to the notice’s last trading date ranging from RM2.3334 to RM3.6735,” it said.“Based on the DCF valuation, the equity value attributable to each SRC Share ranges from approximately RM4.16 to RM4.75,” it said.Shell Refining's board (except for the interested directors) also concurred with the independent adviser's recommendation.It said the offer was not fair and not reasonable and “recommends that holders of offer shares reject the offer”.
If you've been playing Pokémon Go for a while you'll probably have noticed the so-called "GPS drift" where even though you're standing in one place without moving, your avatar in the game is walking around in a slow circle or occasionally running a few hundred metres away. Well, today, the folks at Niantic have released an update that, amongst other things, attempts to fix GPS drift so your character doesn't wander off too far anymore. We've tried the new update and while it doesn't completely fix GPS drift, it does limit the distance your avatar drifts away from your actual location. Nevertheless, the update also introduces a number of minor "text fixes" and an updated Apple Watch app that now also displays eggs obtained from PokeStops. Version 0.53.1 for Android and version 1.23.1 for iOS is available in Google Play now and the App Store respectively.
SUBANG JAYA: Malaysian automotive sales plunged 13% year-on-year to 580,124 units in 2016, its first decline after six consecutive years of growth.Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad attributed the weaker sales to the moderating economy, lower consumer spending and cautious business sentiment.Vehicle sales hit a record-breaking 666,674 units in 2015.Going into 2017, the MAA is projecting total industry volume (TIV) to hit 590,000 units. "Introduction of new models with the latest additional specifications, design styles and at a very competitive prices can assist to sustain buying interest," Aishah said at a briefing on Malaysia's 2016 auto sales review.At 580,124 units, sales last year narrowly met the MAA's target of 580,000 units for 2016.The last time TIV fell short of the 600,000-mark was in 2009 at 536,905 units. In 2010, sales hit 605,156 units.