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The Star Online: The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Posted: 27 Feb 2013 11:25 AM PST

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Johor Premium Outlets are going a long way to boost tourism in Kulai

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 05:13 PM PST

KULAIJAYA: This area used to be regarded as a "black area" during the communist insurgency in the 1950s with vast tracks of forests and hilly terrain.

However, the landscape in this district, which is about 45 minutes drive from Johor Baru, has been rapidly transforming in the last two decades with the emergence of rubber and oil palm plantations by major conglomerates mainly IOI Bhd and Genting Bhd.

These two companies, which have been credited for bringing development into the area, have now started going big into real estate and has now put Kulaijaya, in the world map with the opening of South East Asia's only Johor Premium Outlets (JPO).

This has resulted in huge tourists arrivals to the JPO looking for bargains for their branded goods.

Genting is expected to invest up to RM1bil investment for the JPO project, which will include 130 stores, a 2,000-room hotel and a water park.

Kulaijaya is also easily accessible and well connected via land and air through its two highways and also Senai International Airport.

Although there is a lot of modernisation especially via infrastructure projects under Iskandar Malaysia, the old parts of Senai and Kulai towns, mainly comprising two rows of shop lots, still remain until today.

The district is also a popular "enclave" for locals working in Singapore due to its cheap rental compared with houses in Johor Baru as each day, dozens of buses ply between Singapore and Kulai ferrying local factory workers.

The Kulai parliamentary is carved out of three state seats mainly Senai, Bukit Batu and Bukit Permai.

Although Kulai has rapidly changed in the last 10 years, the local residents have voiced their concerns especially with the increasing crime rate in the area, rising cost of living, not enough of Tamil schools to cater for the local population, poor cleanliness, increase in house prices, too many flies in the area due to chicken farms and congested roads.

Retired Tay Kim Chang, 74, who moved to the area after being posted to the Kulai English School in 1963, described the area as a cowboy town previously.

"Those days there were only two rows of shophouses in the area and you can close your eyes and cross the road but nowadays, the traffic is heavy," he added.

He explained that in the 1960s, land was being sold for RM200 per acre.

"Now there is so much development taking place here," he said, adding that his three children were all grown-ups and now were working in Singapore due to better job opportunities there.

Tay, who now spends his time working at the Kulai Rotary dialysis centre, added that his children have now all registered as first time voters.

"I hope that they will be back to vote in the coming general election," he said, adding that he enjoyed living in Kulai as he still has a lot of friends and looked forward to visits from his children during the weekends.

On improvements needed for the area, he said the roads needed to be paved as they were riddled with potholes and also needed better system as there were too many traffic light junctions and also more police presence to curb snatch theft.

For cook Noraini Jamian, 40, who has five children aged between five and 19, the rising cost of living here was a huge burden for her.

"I was forced to borrow from friends and relatives to make ends meet after my husband was retrenched from a furniture factory recently," she said, adding that she earned about RM40 per day cooking Malay dishes in a restaurant in Bukit Permai.

"Sometimes we only have egg and rice with ketchup for meals in our home," she said, hoping for more assistance from the government especially through the RM500 Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M).

Noraini said she was lucky that she was able to use her savings to purchase a low-cost house in 1996 worth RM25,000 as house rentals have also doubled.

For couple Thomas Chia and his wife Sally Yap, both 56, crime was something that needed to be addressed in the district.

"There were two robberies at my shop since I started business two years ago," Thomas said, adding that one time his shop was ransacked while end of last year he was robbed by a drug addict at knife-point.

He added that in the second incident he was fortunate when he managed to nab the addict and handed him over to the police.

"There are a lot of drug addicts loitering, looking for opportunities to rob people," said the father of four.

Chia lamented that it was difficult to get licenses even to sell gas at his sundry shop with him being "kicked around" by various government agencies.

"Finally I decided that I will not bother selling gas at my outlet. Everything needs licenses but it is so difficult to get approvals," he said, adding that he presently had six licenses for various products including for rice and sugar.

For businessman S. Suresh, 31, the district was still a nice place to live in as there was more greenery than staying in Johor Baru.

He said although the price of houses had gone up, he blamed speculators as the reason for the huge increase.

Suresh explained that he purchased his double storey home for RM160,000 several years ago and the bank's valuation recently was about RM195,000.

"The same type of house was launched recently and the starting price was RM500,000 onwards.

"I believe that the property market could be artificially boosted up by speculators wanting to make quick gains," he said, hoping that the government would step in and curb such unhealthy practices as it was a burden for middle income earners.

Suresh explained that Kulai was also facing a huge problem with flies as there were quite a lot of chicken farms in the area.

"We also need wider roads as there are frequent traffic jams and bottle necks especially during rush hour," he said.

Kulai also has several major Felda estates namely Felda Taib Andak and Felda Bukit Permai.

For housewife Salmi Ahmad Mahmud Yusof, 52, who was raised in Felda Taib Andak since she was two years old, the area has changed tremendously over the years.

"My parents managed to put all their nine children through school until secondary school with their income from the 10 acres of land planted with palm oil.

"Now I have siblings who are teachers, doctors, in the police and also in the army," she said, adding that she decided to remain a housewife and helped her husband at the orchard to support their family comprising seven children.

Salmi added that she also did not mind the simple life in a low-cost home in Taman Anjaria as it allowed her to be close to her elderly parents who were in their 90s.

However, she said that it was sad that many youths from felda were now dabbling in drugs, which was a huge problem in the area.

"We are now trying to work with agencies and among the local residents to keep proper checks on our children," she said, adding that there were also a lot of illegal Indonesian workers employed in the plantations.

For former Kulai Rotary president A. Ganggayah, 50, some of the issues that needed attention here includes regular rubbish collection, another Tamil school in Senai to cater for the growing student population and a crematorium for the people.

"The present Tamil school in Kulai Besar is too far and there is a sizable Indian population in Senai," he said, adding that a government-run crematorium was also important as for now they were privately run which were too expensive.

This elections, Kulai will be a hot seat with Barisan Nasional going all out to recapture the Senai state seat which fell to the DAP in 2008.

Both sides are expected to keenly contest this seat, which is one of the biggest non-Malay seats in the state. The constituency has 82,253 voters.

Terengganu expects four million visitors

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 05:14 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: Terengganu expects to receive about four million local and foreign tourists in conjunction with the Visit Terengganu Year 2013.

The Terengganu rural development, entrepreneurs and cooperative chairman Datuk Muhamed Awang Tera said the figure would be double from the two million tourists the state received yearly.

He said the state had already recorded about 300,000 tourist arrivals as of this year and anticipated some 500,000 visitors would have visited the state by end of March.

"They are so many attractions in Terengganu that will be of interest to local and foreign tourists," Muhamed said when met at the launch of "Teganu Kite 2013" carnival at Angsana Johor Baru Mall.

Some 40 small and medium-sized entrepreneurs took part in the four-day event offering a wide range of items such as batik, songket, ready-made apparel, food products, leather goods, jewellery and tourism-related information.

He said Singaporeans were the main foreign visitors to Terengganu followed by tourists from European countries, Japan and China.

Muhamed said on the average the domestic and foreign visitors spent four days and three nights visiting the state and high on their list were the islands off Terengganu waters such as Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian.

"Lake Kenyir is also becoming popular among them as well as home stay programmes," he said adding that among the popular homestays were in Teluk Ketapang, Setiu and Kuala Berang.

Separately, Muhamed said Terengganu's famous keropok lekor would be made available in Malaysian restaurants in London this April following the success of free sampling of the food held last year.

He said 12 tonnes of frozen keropok lekor would be exported to London monthly adding it was an achievement as the food had passed the stringent requirements imposed by the British Government.

Muhamed said the "Teganu Kite 2013" would be held in Miri, Sarawak next month and in Alor Setar, Kedah, and the date to be determined later.

"The carnival is a good way to promote products by our entrepreneurs and promoting tourism attractions in our state," he said.

China crewman slips off ship and falls to death

Posted: 26 Feb 2013 04:03 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: A crewman from China drowned when he slipped and fell into the sea near Pasir Gudang here while carrying out works on a vessel in Tanjung Langsat Port that was set to sail to Singapore.

The victim Ling Fu Zeng, 33, was walking on the gangway, a passage leading to the ship's upperdeck, when the incident took place at around 4.30am.

Several other crewmen who were working with Ling at the time noticed that he had fallen over when they heard him screaming for help.

Tanjung Langsat Port head of operations Captain Abdul Rahim Omar said the other crewmen rushed to Ling's aid but was too late and he drowned.

"He was working on MT Ocean Dragon, a Singapore registered tanker that transports oil, which was parked at the Langsat Terminal One.

Meanwhile, Seri Alam OCPD Supt Roslan Zainuddin said that the body was found eight hours after the incident.

"Ling's body was discovered by the Fire and Rescue Department's scuba unit at about 10m deep," he said.

The body has been sent to Hospital Sultan Ismail and have been classified as sudden death.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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