Romancing Penang

This article was originally posted here.

RETIRING in Penang was an easy decision for Japanese nationality Kazunori Koga, 65.

RETIRING in Penang (image credit)

It came as no surprise to him when George Town was picked as the sixth ‘Best place to retire abroad in 2016’ by CNN Money.

For Koga, who has been living in Malaysia since last May, George Town has much to offer in terms of heritage, nature and hospitality.

“My wife and I first lived in Kuala Lumpur for six weeks but the pollution was too much. Our friends then recommended we take a trip to Penang. We did it and instantly fell in love with the place.

“You can say it was love at first sight,” he joked when met at his apartment in Gurney Drive recently.

With his French wife Caroline, 60, Koga plans to fully utilise their Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) visa, which lasts for 10 years.

He had also written a book in Japanese about his visits to 81 countries, and said Penang was one-of-a-kind.

Another pair of foreign retirees, British citizen R. Jayaram, 68, and his wife have made Penang their home for the last 11 years.

“The growing community of hashing, among other things, are some of the things I love about life here,” he said.

RETIRING in Penang (credit image)

The former manager of an airline catering company said Penang had some of the best places for trekking, naming Penang Botanic Gardens and Penang Hill as his favourites.

Supporting groups like Coconut Club have helped many foreign retirees to settle down here.

Its branch manager Yukiko Hashizume said the biggest problem for most foreigners is the language barrier.

“We cater mostly to the Japanese and help them with housing arrangements, banking and registering their children into schools,” she said.

Hashizume said the club, which has been in existence for 15 years, currently has more than 400 active members.

On Jan 6, a CNN Money report by Katie Lobosco dubbed the northern state as the sixth best spot out of 10 to retire this year.

The list’s top five were Algarve (Portugal), Cayo (Belize), Medellin (Colombia), Pau (France) and Abruzzo (Italy).

Penang’s First Museum Cafe Opens Next Month

This article was originally posted here...

Penang's first museum-themed cafe will officially open on March 1 at Jalan Bayan Lepas in George Town, Penang.

Penang Coffee (credit image)

Muzium Kafe is a family business owned by One Glory SA Venture registered under the Companies Commission of Malaysia. It is a combination of a restaurant and a museum.

Each section of the café introduces its own category of Malaysian history, which includes the sultans, heroes of Malaya, the prime ministers and a special room known as "Bilik Diraja" for VIPs.

Muzium Kafe owner Mohamad Shafiq Amin Arif said not many people understood the concept and he wanted them to learn and appreciate Malaysian history in a relaxing and enjoyable way.

"The main idea of opening a museum café like this is to educate the people of Malaysia, especially the youngsters, on the history of our sultans and rulers of Malaya so that they will have a better understanding of the history as well as respect for the royal institution.

"We want the people to enjoy learning the history of our country as well as to enjoy the leisure services we offer," he said. – Bernama, February 19, 2016.

Penang Turns To Smart Mapping To Deliver Improved Services

This article was originally posted here...

Singapore may be talking up a

smart nation

of late, but many others around the region are also rolling out technologies to improve the quality of services that are delivered to its residents.

Penang Smart Mapping (image credit)

In Penang, an application known as e-Peta now provides actionable information on areas such as land use, businesses, traffic and public transport to decision makers.

This information is invaluable for timely mobilisation of resources to areas of need, while providing a clear picture of the ground for supporting social development projects.

Developed in 2014 by the Penang Geographic Information Centre (PEGIS), e-Peta integrates data from various government departments, which can be displayed as layers on a dynamic map.

These algorithms are made possible by the location technologies provided by geospatial information firm Esri Malaysia.

e-Peta’s versatility is seen in its wide application by both the government and community advocates.

Its Town Planning & Development Department, Penang Island City Council and Seberang Perai Municipal Council have combined e-Peta and GIS to design sustainable structural layouts in the city.

Pusat Urus Zakat, an alms collection organisation, has also worked with Penang Women’s Development Corporation to map out the various locations of childcare centres in the state.

e-Peta has seen an increase in users since its launch, with 26,559 log-ins alone during 2015.

Currently, 90 per cent of e-Peta users are public servants employed by the Malaysian Federal Government or Penang State agencies, but there are plans for more members of the public to contribute to this database.

Esri-Malaysia (image credit)

“What made e-Peta so successful and interesting is its collaborative nature. When you make it easier for stakeholders to engage with one another and share data, it not only improves organisational productivity and efficiency, but it also helps facilitate the creation of next-generation services,” said Lai Chee Siew, CEO of Esri Malaysia.

The collaborative aspect of smart mapping is essential to its success, for more possible use cases can be imagined with a larger amount of data and brains behind them.

Singapore is off to a good start as well, with its OneMap and data.gov.sg portals providing rich amounts of government data that can be visualized in multiple ways in layers, much like e-Peta.

Such data is also available in the form of an open source Application Program Interface (API), for use by developers to re-package and deliver relevant information.

The next step, perhaps, is to allow non-governmental bodies with the expertise to contribute to the pool of raw data, such as what Pusat Urus Zakat and Penang Women’s Development Corporation has done in asset mapping the community in Penang.

The Soap Cellar: Everything You Need For Your Skin And Made In Penang!

This article was originally posted here...

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 21 — A strawberry cake. A Yule log cake. Lollipops. Cupcakes and slices of colourful cakes on a wooden counter, filling the whole space with the delicious fragrance of berries, vanilla and something unmistakably sweet.

Unfortunately, these sweet-smelling “desserts” are not edible because they are actually handmade soaps crafted by Penang couple Daniel Khoo and Candy Chan.

Fancy some soapy cake...these are handcrafted soaps for special occasions.Fancy some soapy cake...these are handcrafted soaps for special occasions.Khoo and Chan started dabbling in soap-making as a past-time several years ago when they used to give the soaps out to friends and relatives as gifts. Due to the popularity of their soaps, they decided to make more and sell.

They set up a small shop in Tanjung Bungah here, filling only a few small shelves with handmade soaps as a start and before long, The Soap Cellar, has become an exclusive handmade soap and skincare product supplier to hotels, companies and customers from all over the world through their website and shop.

The Soap Cellar started out small but before long, it now has a full range of skincare and hair care products along with raw materials.The Soap Cellar started out small but before long, it now has a full range of skincare and hair care products along with raw materials.Today, the couple has two soap-making companies; one is The Soap Cellar which is their retail shop and another, Global Organics Personal Care, which is the supplier for hotels and corporations.

“We also custom-make skincare products such as soaps, creams and lotions as door gifts for corporate events, weddings and parties,” Chan said.

The rare African black soap that is good for sensitive skin (left). Chan mixing up a batch of soap to be poured into the mould (right).The rare African black soap that is good for sensitive skin (left). Chan mixing up a batch of soap to be poured into the mould (right).The Soap Cellar today not only sells specialty soaps but also a full range of skincare from facial wash to lotions, creams, clay masks and bath salts, all personally mixed and made by both Chan and Khoo.

Khoo, who grew up in England, imported most of the certified natural ingredients for all his products from England. Though they have the usual scented glycerin soaps, The Soap Cellar is particularly known for their shea butter-based soaps and products.

The making of raspberry-shaped soap.The making of raspberry-shaped soap.The shea butter soaps are available in a dizzying array of natural scents from decadent mulled wine to delicious rich chocolate mint to the refreshing bright scent of olives or eucalyptus.

Shea butter is a rich moisturising ingredient used in body lotions to moisturise and soften the skin so soaps made using it as one of the main ingredients means luxuriously smooth soaps that are moisturising, aromatic and gentle on the skin. The shop has over 50 different types of these shea butter handmade soaps.

They also have pet shampoo (left). A fragrant lavender pillow mist for better sleep and insect repellent, also mixed by Khoo and Chan (right).They also have pet shampoo (left). A fragrant lavender pillow mist for better sleep and insect repellent, also mixed by Khoo and Chan (right).“One of our specialty soaps that is hard to find in Malaysia is the organic African black soap made with organic Shea butter with organic virgin coconut oil,” Khoo said. The soap may look like a mottled brown lump but due to its ingredients, it is very rich and moisturising which Khoo claims is beneficial for those with sensitive skin issues such as eczema.

As for their skincare range, they are particularly known for their varied choices of facial clays, particularly their French Green Clay and the Ghassoul Clay, both also hard to find in Malaysia.

Lollipop soaps that smell as good as they look.Lollipop soaps that smell as good as they look.Now, the shop also caters to fellow hobbyists who want to make their own soaps, creams and lotions by providing the basic ingredients needed.

“We will also teach them how to mix the ingredients to make their own lotions and creams according to their needs,” they said.

The special corner set aside for a teenage soapmaker to sell her handmade soaps.The special corner set aside for a teenage soapmaker to sell her handmade soaps.They also sell glycerin and goats’ milk soap bases so those who want to make their own soaps can also purchase the bases along with the fragrances from them. In fact, the shop even has a small corner for a teenage soap maker to sell her handmade soaps.

Even though most of the ingredients used in their products are imported from England, one of the main draws of The Soap Cellar is their competitive pricing.

“We don’t believe in charging sky high prices for quality skincare products,” Khoo said.

The range of products that the shop carries includes essential oils, hair care, baby care and even pet shampoo.

The Soap Cellar
22, Lebuh Lembah Permai 4, Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Penang
Tel: 604-899 2980

Pre-War Shop Rent Too High

This article was originally posted here...

GEORGE TOWN: A drastic increase in rentals has forced 34 tenants to move out of the 55 pre-war properties along Penang Road, Kimberley Steet and Lim Chwee Leong Road.

Pre-war houses lining a road in Penang (image credit)

The rentals have increased dramatically by 100% to 700% since Jan 1 when the new rates took effect.

Some of the monthly rentals have gone up to RM14,000 from RM2,000 (up by 700%), while others have increased to RM2,000 from RM700 (up by 285%).

“As a result, many of them have closed their businesses and moved out, leaving only 21 of the pre-war properties still occupied.

“About 50% of the tenants are involved in old trades that are responsible for the city getting listed as a Unesco World Heritage site,” George Town Heritage Action co-founder Mark Lay said in an interview yesterday.

Lay said over the past two years, the rentals in the heart of George Town have increased significantly, forcing those who could not afford them to relocate to the suburbs.

“The state government should intervene in the matter as maintaining the status of old trades in the heritage zone is the criteria for getting the Unesco World Heritage site status,” he added.

Meanwhile, Teong Hum Yem, 65, said he was considering moving out of the heritage zone as the new rental was a burden.

houses in Penang (image credit)

“I have already paid for January’s rent, which is RM4,000, an increase of 292% from RM1,368. But the coming months will be tough for me,” he said.

Teong said his grandparents had been doing business in Penang Road since the 1920s.

“I believe the properties here are owned by investors from Hong Kong, who bought them up in 1960s for a shopping mall project.

But for some reason, the project never took off.

“Six months before Jan 1, we were given letters indicating that there will be a rental increase beginning this year. Some moved out before the deadline while others, only recently,” he said.

Sharon Saw said the family had been doing business selling apparels in Penang Road since the 1960s.

She said her rental was now RM2,000, compared with RM700 before the increase.

“We want to do business here, but we can’t afford the high rent.

“Business here has been bad as tourists prefer to go for the local food rather than shop with us.

This is why we can’t afford high rent. We can hardly go anywhere as the rent in the malls are also high.

“We appeal to the state government to intervene,” she said.

RM2 Billion Investment In Penang

This article was originally posted here...

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 19 — P Linear Technology Corporation, a US-company, has invested an additional RM2 billion in its Penang plant, said International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

Penang Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (image credit)

An advanced integrated circuit manufacturer, Linear Technology, owns Linear Semiconductor Sdn Bhd.

This is a big success for the Malaysian business ecosystem, he told Malaysian journalists here yesterday.

“It is a great recognition for Malaysia as the Silicon Valley of the East,” he said.

However, he did not furnish further details of the additional investment put up by the American IT company.

Mustapa was here to attend the US-ASEAN Summit in Sunnylands on Monday and Tuesday, the ASEAN Economic Ministers Roadshow organised by the United States government on Wednesday and yesterday, as well as a business seminar at San Jose in Silicon Valley today.

He said American companies saw ASEAN as having great potential with the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community, a truly single market and production base with freer movement of goods and services.

Brazilian-style Wonder Goal

Faiz Subri Scorer of the Penang Wonder Goal

Midfielder Mohamad Faiz Subri yesterday said the extraordinary swerving free-kick he scored for Penang State in the Malaysian Super League was no fluke, after the goal prompted comparisons to Roberto Carlos’ thunderbolt for Brazil against France in 1997.

Footage of the the 28-year-old scoring on Tuesday from a free-kick 35m out in the 62nd minute has gone viral and made him a sensation.

Many fans on social media compared Faiz’s wonder strike with the goal by former Brazil and Real Madrid star Carlos.

“What a goal by Faiz Subri for Penang! ... like Roberto Carlos. GK did not know to come or stay,” one Twitter user posted.

Faiz’s shot swerved from left to the top right of the net after sending the hapless Pahang State goalkeeper the wrong way.

“This is no fluke goal. My coach makes me practice the kick after the usual training. I intend to score more of such goals God willing,” Faiz said.

Recalling the moments before the goal, his second in the 4-1 win over Pahang, Faiz said: “I looked for a target area, was calm and used the outer side of my right leg to fire a powerful shot at goal.”

Roberto Carlos (Brazil)

“I am happy that I have made Malaysia proud and it is a big honor to be mentioned with the likes of legend Roberto Carlos,” he added.

Carlos scored with a notorious banana strike from a 35m free-kick with no direct sight of goal.

Faiz could now even be a contender for the coveted FIFA Puskas Award for goal of the year in January next year.

“This is an award every football player longs for. I hope I will be short-listed,” he said.

Penang FA vice president Gary Nair said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng would award Faiz US$2,400 for the outstanding goal, and described it as “the most magnificent” he had seen in Malaysian football.

Lim had earlier posted on Twitter: “Definitely the best M’sian free kick goal ever n best in the world so far for 2016. Penang football team making waves.”

Compare the free kicks below:

Faiz Subri Free Kick 2016

Roberto Carlos Free Kick 1997

Roads Closed For Penang State’s Chinese New Year Festival

This article was originally posted here...

CERTAIN roads in George Town will be closed today for the state Chinese New Year Celebration at the Esplanade in Penang.

Chinese New Year Celebration on Penang (image credit)

Tanjong MP Ng Wei Aik said Beach Street, Church Street, King Street, Penang Street and Union Street would be closed from 7pm followed by Light Street from 9pm.

“The setup of the canopies will begin after the closure of the six streets.

“The closure will continue until tomorrow where Jalan Padang Kota Lama and Armenian Street will also be closed from noon till midnight tomorrow.

“Since Light Street is partially closed, traffic will be rerouted to Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah,” he said.

“Hence, parking will not be allowed along there from 9pm today to midnight tomorrow to ease traffic flow there,” he told a press conference in Komtar.

Ng added that more than 1,000 parking lots would be available for the public at several places including Union Street Multi-Storey Car Park, Fort Cornwallis, Beach Street Multi-Storey Car Park, Beach Street, King Street, Weld Quay and Downing Street.

“From 6am to midnight, the CAT Free Shuttle Bus is available every 30 minutes from Prangin Mall to Chulia Street.

“Those who want to avoid driving, they can use Grab, the online taxi service (formerly known as MyTeksi), by keying in the ‘PGCNY’ promo code to enjoy a RM8 discount,” he said.

Ng urged the public to handle the animated decorative lightings in Esplanade with care as repairs were already needed even though they were set up barely two weeks ago.

Penang Chine New Year Festivities in full swing (image credit)

He said the staff held by the Sun Wukong character was damaged while another character’s decorative firecracker was missing.

“The hand of one of the characters is also missing and at least 19 lanterns needed mending. We can only engage a local repairman to try fixing it as the sifu has gone back to China after the setup was completed,” he said.

The public should handle the decorations with care when taking photos as the decorations will be up until Feb 22.

Ng added that the decorations had proven to be very popular and visitors would flock to the area even until after midnight to take photos.

It was reported that the decorations were put up for the first time as part of the state’s Chinese New Year celebrations.

The decorative lightings including characters of the 12 Chinese Zodiac Animals, Monkey God (Sun Wukong) and a giant red Chinese character of the word chun (spring) as well as other festive characters were put up at cost of RM315,000.

Penang Cricketers Take The Trophy

This article was originally posted here...

PENANG Sports Club (PSC) has again displayed their cricket prowess on the oval to add two more trophies on the shelf.

The jubilant Penang Sports Club players (image credit)

Over the part two months, they have won the Saudagar Singh Challenge Trophy and the Super Sixes Cricket Challenge Trophy.

In their own backyard, PSC ousted Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) Ipoh by a comfortable 14 runs to clinch the Saugdagar Singh Challenge Trophy.

The trophy was a prize which came with the Penang Cricket Association’s (PCA) 30 Overs League title.

This feat was a relief since PSC came so close to winning the prestigious trophy after coming so close in 2014.

That year, PSC were made to play the bridesmaid’s role by Albhukhary International University in Alor Setar, Kedah.

PSC cricket captain Shahul Hameed did not hide his thrill at this latest success.

The string of victories started last year when they defeated their archrival Royal Bangkok Sports Club to grab the Elephant Trophy and Hayaty Nana Trophy in the annual inter-port clash, a tournament which had been on going for more than 80 years.

“With double honours at the end of last year and back-to-back honours to kickstart 2016, we are on song.

“I hope our streak will continue in this month’s PCA T-20 challenge and the Phuket Super Sixes tournament in Thailand this April,” he said.

Shahul added that his current squad was built around foreign players from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.

Penang Sports Club with their trophy (image credit)

They are not only PSC members but also cricket lovers willing to work hard to prepare for each tournament.

This year’s PCA 30 Overs League Challenge attracted four teams besides PSC – Universiti Sains Malaysia, UTP Ipoh, the Australian Defence Forces and the Penang State Development Team.

UTP Ipoh and PSC confirmed their place in the final but it was experience which gave PSC the edge.

UTP Ipoh, a side built around students from Bangladesh and Pakistan, won the toss and they sent PSC to open their final campaign by batting first.

PSC powered their way to 180 runs in 30 overs for a loss of eight wickets, with Venkat Raman emerging as their top scorer by contributing 56 runs in the process.

Hammad Khakwani, UTP’s best bowler, might have captured four wickets for 13 runs in six overs in the first inning but this still failed to stop PSC from trooping out with a comfortable lead.

That left UTP with the daunting task of chasing 181 runs in the second inning.

Even when Mohd Tahir scored with 56 runs when they took to the bats, PSC merely tightened their grip and restricted the Ipoh lads to just a 166-run reply to confirm their victory.

Hotel Chips In RM200,000 For Event

This article was originally posted here...

EASTERN and Oriental (E&O) Bhd is sponsoring RM200,000 for Penang’s annual Chinese New Year celebration for the 10th time.

E&O hotel George Town penang (image credit)

The company’s group corporate strategy director Lyn Chai said they were honoured to support the yearly festival which would be held tomorrow.

“It’s a long-standing commitment from our side for this highly anticipated Chinese New Year celebration.

“We are honoured to play a role in this celebration which is rich in culture and heritage,” she said after presenting a mock cheque to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng in a simple ceremony at E&O Hotel recently.

The celebration will be held at Esplanade and six streets in George Town from 4pm to midnight.

The streets — Armenian Street, Cannon Street, Chulia Street, Penang Street, Bishop Street and King Street — will come alive with myriad activities.

The public will be able to visit the ancestral temples of different clans which are usually closed to the public on other days of the year.

Lim, in his speech, thanked the E&O Group for its initiative.

“We want to make Penang a destination for tourists to visit during the Chinese Year celebrations.

“These events will surely attract both foreign and local tourists,” he added.

“It is a fact that tourism plays an important economic role in the state.

“We need to create good experiences for tourists so that they will return again,” he said.

Lim urged other companies to emulate E&O Group’s example and carry out corporate social activities to boost tourism and help the community in general.

Present to witness the cheque presen-tation were Tanjong MP Ng Wei Aik, Penang Chinese Clan Council vice-chairman Ong Teik Kim and E&O group hospitality and lifestyle director Michael Saxon.

Ong said the state event would be able to uplift and preserve the heritage and culture.

He said celebration was initiated by the Penang Chinese Clan Council back in 1999.

“It started off as a street party,” he said.

Ong said support from the state government as well as private sectors was vital in organising and promoting the event every year.