Sunday, February 17, 2019

32nd Fraser's Hill International Bird Race 2019

32nd Fraser's Hill International Bird Race 2019
22 - 23 June 2019

Fraser’s Hill is home to over 250 species of birds which provides a cool temperature climate due to its elevation on a mountainous area. Over three decades, thousands of bird watchers from all over the world have visited Fraser’s Hill to spot some of the amazing birds.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Hot and dry days to last until April

Hot and dry days to last until April

It is searing hot and dry, with five areas in the country already placed on heatwave alert.

And there’s more “hot” news – Malaysians have to put up with this weather until April, at least.

The tail-end of the north-east monsoon next month will see less rain in most parts of the country.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia), in a report on the country’s weather outlook from February to July, stated that most international climate models predicted a 65% possibility of the El Nino weather phenomenon occurring until May.

In the peninsula, Sik (Kedah), north Seberang Perai (Penang), Kinta and Kuala Kangsar (Perak) and Alor Gajah (Melaka) recorded temperatures of between 35°C and 37°C for three days in a row.

Throughout this month, the Department of Environment said most areas in the peninsula were likely to experience dry weather with less than 150mm rainfall.

It said Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan, Melaka, Johor, Perlis, south Terengganu and Pahang will get slightly less average rainfall compared with the long-term average figure.

Kuching and Samarahan in Sara­wak are expected to get more rain than average, while Miri is likely to be drier.

In Sabah, most parts of the state are forecast to receive less than average rainfall.

One level up from Category 1 (heatwave alert) is Category 2, which is when temperatures rise above 37°C for three consecutive days.

When this happens, the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry is empowered to officially declare a heatwave in that location.

This is to enable the relevant authorities to take follow-up action such as closing schools.

When an area hits Category 3 (when the temperature hits above 40°C three days in a row, which is considered the “emergency level”), the National Disaster Management Agency will be notified and the Prime Minister can declare an emergency.

According to the MetMalaysia report, the country’s weather until July will be influenced by three weather patterns – the north-east monsoon which ends in March, intermonsoon in April and south-west monsoon, which begins in May.

The start of the intermonsoon period is expected to see more thunderstorms in the west coast and interior of the peninsula, east coast of Sabah and central Sara­wak.

In the meantime, the Fire and Rescue Department is on alert for more forest fires following a recent incident in Baling, Kedah.

~News courtesy of The Star~

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Travellers against departure levy

Travellers against departure levy

AS the feud intensifies between Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and AirAsia, so too the voices from air travellers against the imposition of a departure levy, as well as increase in passenger service charge (PSC).

Malaysians, however, said they were determined to continue travelling.

The New Straits Times’ travel pullout, JOM!, inasurvey conducted on its Facebook page to identify the travel trends of Malaysians, found the majority objecting to both charges.

Of the 663 respondents, 73.2 per cent did not agree that klia2 and other Malaysian international airports should charge the same PSC as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

The survey, which comprises eight questions, ran for 11 days.

Effective Jan 1 last year, PSC for those travelling beyond Asean was increased from RM50 to RM73.

It has more than doubled since 2017 for passengers using klia2.

Passengers were charged RM32 before 2017 for travelling beyond Asean via klia2, and it increased to RM50 in 2017.

Since the increase, AirAsia Group Bhd and AirAsia X Bhd have refused to collect the additional RM23, with the justification that the facilities in klia2 were inferior compared with a full-service carrier terminal.

On Dec 11 last year, Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of MAHB, served a writ of summons on AirAsia Group’s unit, AirAsia Bhd (AAB), for RM9.4 million in PSC that AAB had not and refused to collect from travelling passengers.

Malaysians said the departure levy would not encourage domestic tourism as envisaged. Travellers said they would continue to travel, with 4.3 per cent of respondents saying they would travel within the country, 71.6 per cent within Asean and 24.1 per cent beyond that.

The departure levy proposed in the 2019 Budget for air travellers leaving the country is set to roll out in full force in June.

It is set at RM20 to Asean countries and RM40 for non-Asean countries.

The levy was to raise revenue allowing the government to collect a few hundred million ringgit annually, Transport Minister Anthony Loke had said.


Shamala Raj, 27, a frequent traveller, said the departure levy would not stop her excursions.

“I understand that the government wants to encourage domestic tourism, but if I have visited all the places that I want to visit in Malaysia, I will still travel abroad for my holidays.

“I believe the idea of introducing a departure levy to encourage people to travel within Malaysia is not effective as some may prefer to travel out of the country, despite the charges.”

She said the government should relook the departure levy as it would deter foreign tourists since the charges were more compared with other Asean countries.

“There are many other ways to collect the revenue, but the government should study this well before implementing it as it may have an adverse effect on Malaysia.”

Mohd Syukri Salleh, 34, who travels to London at least three or four times a year on business, said the extra RM40 would make him look for other options.

“Yes, the RM40 may not sound a lot, however, for a frequent traveller like me, it is an extra cost.

“I will fly as usual, but will look for a cheaper option when the departure levy comes into effect in June.”

Besides travelling on business, Syukri travels regularly for holidays and he did not agree with the increase in the passenger service charge, mainly for klia2.

“I understand the frustration that is brought up by the management of AirAsia. klia2 is a low-cost carrier terminal and it does not have the same facilities as KLIA. So, how can they expect the passengers to pay the same amount?”

The effectiveness of the departure levy, introduced to improve domestic tourism, was debatable, said Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) economist Adli Amirullah.

“Some might say they prefer to travel domestically using land transport, hence a higher departure levy will not affect such consumers.”

He said the departure levy might affect international tourists and deter them from choosing Malaysia as their Southeast Asian destination, compared with neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Indonesia.

“IDEAS’ study has shown that Malaysians are already paying one to three per cent more tax on full-service flight tickets to nearby destinations, compared with other Asean nations.

“This pressures the Malaysian aviation market and possibly limits the growth of tourism, as other nearby countries are cheaper to visit.”

He said although Malaysian tourism growth looked prosperous with the travel sector contributing 13.4 per cent to total gross domestic product and 11.8 per cent to the total employment in 2017, statistics had stated that there had been a three per cent reduction in tourism arrivals in Malaysia.

“It shows that Malaysia tourism is growing but at a much slower rate.

“With the number of arrivals turning negative and expected to be adjusted downwards, the losses of the tourism industry may be magnified by the departure levy.”

~New Straits Times~

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