Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sibu In Water - From The Rooftop of Premier Hotel

Jalan Kampung Nyabor - This is one of the harder it areas. The building with blue roof at the far end is the new Police Station.
The gloomy sky is depressing Sibuians' hearts. The yellowish Rajang River seems to be sobbing together with the suffering folks.

Jalan Central.

Jalan Central - The Bomba Station srands tall in the water.

Almost the whole of Jalan Pedada is flooded to knee-high.

Foochow Lane - The building looks so pathetic in the water.

Jalan Tiong Hua.

The entire Foochow Lane is submerged in water.

In all honesty, flood is a natural phenomenon. Although climatic conditions and atmospheric changes contribute to it, human factors like environment-unfriendly developments and administrative laxity aggravate the havoc.
Flooding is certainly not new in Sibu, but it is obviously worsening and becoming a lot more frequent. In short, flood hits are much more perennial in Sibu now.
Decades-long environmentally destructive activities going on upstream and the climatic changes are chiefly the causes of it. As a result, Rajang River is badly silted up, making the river a lot shallower now. Consequently, Rajang River overflows much more easily, making Sibu a flood-prone town. Combined with the poor drainage system, flooding has long become a nightmare here.
Dredging was proposed last year to mitigate the perennial flooding, but it was refuted outright, saying damming is the only workable solution. Dredging has since been labelled a "taboo", not to be openly commented in the local press.
The local folks are certainly not expert in flood treatment. But common sense and logical thinking tell them that if Rajang River is left undredged, then in just 5-10 years from now, the proposed dam would be insufficient to hold back the much greater overflows from the river as a result of the continuous build-up of silt.
Greater intelligence needs to be exercised in working out a flood mitigation plan for the best interersts of Sibuians. For all the power vested in the politicians, they owe the folks here an honourable duty to do it right.
I went up to the rooftop of Premier Hotel to photoshoot the flooding scenes of Sibu with Meng Lei ( ) this morning. We spent a good time up to forty minutes to snap all the surrounding scenes. Truly, seeing the horrendous flooding conditions, we sighed as we clicked along.
Jalan Lanang - The conditions are bad, too.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sibu In Water - Deeply Frustrating!

The rising water level these few days eventually takes a heavy toll on Sibu - the town is flooded badly again. Sibuians are generally daunted and their sentiment is dented.
Over and over, Sibuians have cried out loud to the authorities to take up this burning issue with a caring heart for the folks here. Seeing that a workable solution is still lying somewhere, Sibuians' frustration is now at a bursting stage.
The latest 137-million flood mitigation project to spread over a period of three years has been booed by the market generally. They may have overreacted, but that precisely shows the prevailing level of low confidence in Sibu now.
To the decision -makers : Roll up your trouser legs, wade in knee-high flood and cry together with the suffering Sibuians to understand the sentiment!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lunar New Year - World In The Gathering Gloom

When Sibu town is flooded these few days, the world market is also flooded - but with depressing news of gloomy economic outlook.

We did expect conditions to go seriously wrong - even as far back as two years ago when the housing bubble started to deflate. But little did we anticipate them to get that bad and deep.

Stephen Roach, Chairman of Morgan stanley Asia said yesterday that the current globalized recession will be worse than even he foresaw last year.

Describing this recession as ruthless, Roach further added that we have got a simultaneous recession in the U.S., Europe and Japan which we have never seen before.

Developing economies in Asia are suffering, too. Malaysia is certainly not excepted.

Roach warned: There is not a country in the region that is not in recession or declining sharply. "The region has been hit hard, and there is more to come," Roach said.

Due to his generally pessimistic forecasts, Stephen Roach has been described as a "perennial bear". His views have been widely disseminated in print and on television, making him widely known among market professionals and the investing public.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lunar New Year - Floods Swamped Sibu

Sibu has not been spared of floods on the first few days of Lunar New Year!

The heavy downpour kept Sibuians in suspense and it turned out to be another hit. Certain main roads including Jalan Pedada have been partially flooded and this causes Brooke Drive to be badly clogged up. What usually is just a ten-minute journey took me up to forty minutes to drive.

This Lunar New Year is generally quiter. The poor market sentiment and low consumer confidence have been cited to be the chief causes.

Our hotel experiences less walk-in of New Year guests. Other trades have not been excepted, I believe.

The world's worsening recessionary conditions have kept prudent consumers daunted, worrying the worst is yet to come and the slowdown might be prolonged. As conservative as our Malaysian government took a drastic step to slash our rate by 0.75% before the Lunar New Year to circumvent a harder hit ahead. This signaled a bleaker outlook than anticipated, making consumers generally get even more cautious in spending.

One consolation here is that our government is prepared to go on an expansionary fiscal policy to revive the economy. But our nation is already deep in red in budget deficit for 2009. With the shrinking oil and palm oil tax revenue, how much more generous can our Federal government be?

All the best to everyone of you in Year of the Ox!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Fall of Iceland's Government - The First Global Shock In Year of the Ox

The collapse of the government of Iceland sent vibration all over, making the world wonder what else are on the pipeline. And this happened on the first day of Year of the Ox.

In the wake of the outbreak of financial crisis worldwide, Geir Haarde became the first leader to fall as a direct result of the turmoil.

It appears that the snowball effect of the economic crisis is building up and it is going to pinch us hard.

The photo shows Iceland's President Olatur Rognar Grimsson (R), Chairman of the Social Democratic Alliance Ingibjorg Gisladottir (C) and Chairman of the Left-Green Party Steingrimur Sigfussion leaving after a news conference in Reykjavik January 27, 2009.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Year of The Ox - With Subdued Display of Fireworks In Sibu

Sibu's tradition to usher in a Lunar New Year with glamorous fireworks has been a unique feature. But it failed to stand up well against the slowing economy. With prople generally going for belt-tightening as a measure to face up to the looming recession, naturally the firework fanatics scaled it down for the sake of their pockets.

At the transition of Years of the Rat and the Ox, we noted a subdued display when compared with the previous years'.

Several bloggers, photographers and journalists made it a point to go up to the top of Sibu again on Chuxi's night to photoshoot the magnificent scene of fireworks when Sibuians ushered in Year of the Ox.

I took them up to the roof-top to catch the fascinating display.

But a light drizzle started to fall, making the shooting almost impossible in the open space. Then we opted for an alternative - to move down to the top floor and use King's Suite instead.

By the time we positioned ourselves, we realised that we had missed the best time to snap - the sky had already turned so smoky that it was a frustration to shoot.

We had no choice but to call it off.

The group photo (taken in King's Suite of Premier Hotel, Sibu) shows ( back row) (3rd from L), me (4th from L), (5th from L), (6th from L), (on the extreme right); (front row) (on the extreme left) and (centre).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chuxi - The Lunar New Year's Eve

This year, Chuxi or Lunar New Year's eve falls on Sunday. It is a blessing indeed for us to devote the last day of the Year of Rat to God.

Pastor Tang Kah Hie in her sermon this morning dealt with Nian, the mythical beast in the tales and legends of Chinese.

Nian exists only in mythology. "But this beast is symbolic of evil, confronting us daily in our hearts," Pastor Tang made ur clear to the congregation.

Quoting 2 Corinthians 5: 6-21, the pastor said we must have faith in God in order to win our battle against Nian.

Outwardly Nian also challenges us in our daily life. We should regard no one from a worldly point of view. As Galathians 5:14 says: Love your neighbour as yourself. By showing love and care for one another, we are fighting a winning battle against Nian.

This morning's message was enlightening. It was helpful at the time when we are ushering in the Year of Ox.

The picture shows Pauline with Pastor Moh Chiou Ing after the service. Pastor Moh has been caring towards Pauline. May God bless the pastor in her ministry!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

On The Night Before The Lunar New Year's Eve

The lighted lanterns are up for sale.
All the mouth-watering goodies - tong kueh, man jiu kao etc.

With the Year of Ox just one step away, Chinese are on the last shopping spree for the festival before we call it a year!
My seemingly inexhaustible shopping list called on me to take the night off. I popped in to several places to join in the last-minute shopping crowds.
At Pasar Malam where life begins only at night, I was made to understand that it is going to operate through the night. This unique feature of Sibu has potential to be a tourist attraction.
I went through the market, stopping at some of the stalls to recollect my childhood memories.
Gee, tong kueh (or nien kao), man jiu kao etc were aplenty there. These are my childhood favourites and I srill love to take them.
Year of Ox may not be too promising with recession and depression looming large. The market generally feels a shrinkage in sales this time. This is going to be a belt-tightening festuval!
The thronging crowds at Pasar Malam.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chinese New Year Cards - E-Cards Now Dominate The Market

E-cards are fast outpacing the traditional festive cards in printed form. A few years back, I was told by a player in this industry that the e-cards would be on a rise to capture the market. It is not too far away from reality now as the e-cards' dominant role is increasingly felt.
In time to come, the younger generations may view the traditional greeting cards as an antique. This may sound a bit far-fetched, but the trend is heading towards that.
This year alone, almost 70% of the Lunar New Year cards that I received are in e-form. Barely a few of them still kept to the printed form.
The top picture shows the CNY greetings we received from Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Alfred Jabu anak Numpang. In the past 10 years, we never missed Alfred Jabu's warm festive wishes.
The bottom picture shows Datu Haji Len Talif Salleh's CNY wishes to us.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cheers With Teh Tarik

Our gang finally settled down for a refreshing moment in Cafe Palmelia where both oriental and international cuisine is served. By the way, Cafe Palmelia is a plush cosy corner and well-decorated eatery at Premier Hotel that offers guests an idyllic view of scenic Sibu and its traffic.

We opted for teh tarik which is a de facto national drink by virtue of its popularity.

Literally teh tarik is pulled tea. The beverage is now our flagship product enjoying good demand. It is served in a gigantic mug and it comes with a chocolate cookie. With refreshing aroma, creamy taste and a thick frothy top, our teh tarik makes an excellent beverage for you to chat away with friends or laze in a dull afternoon.

Not forgetting the inauguration of the new president on the day in U.S., the gang gave cheers to President Barack Obama and wished him good luck!

Photo courtesy:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

At The Top Of Sibu

It was a fun time photoshooting Sibu scenes from a high-rise. Meng Lei initiated it and it was well received by Steve Ling, Liong Khing Ying, Ling Ung Huat and Ting Leng Kieh. I extended my invitation to the gang to ascend to the top of Premier Hotel for a combination of photoshooting and hotel room inspection.

When Barack Obama made it to the top of the global power on Jan. 20 to become the world's most powerful man, we went up to the roof-top of Premier Hotel which commands excellent views of the whole Sibu town and the mighty Rajang River to feel the greatness of height.

It was a hectic half an hour of shooting before we descended to the top floor for a room inspection. I opened up our King's Suite to let them open their eyes to our best room.

Thereafter, we retreated to Cafe Palmelia for our flagship beverage - teh tarik. We chatted over the authentic Malaysian beverage and some luscious cakes before we called it a day.

The photo shows the gang at the great height. (Courtesy: Steve Ling)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Versus Osama

With the inauguration of Barack Obama as the new president of U.S., the feud between U.S. and the Muslim extremists in Middle East may not take any U-turn. However, a new dimension has been set - it is now a matter of Obama vs Osama.

The foreign policies of U.S. are not expected to deviate much under the new president. U.S. has been treading along Great Americana line with the preservation of American interests as the underlying principles. No past presidents could afford to deviate away from this national policy.

Likewise, Obama is not going to pawn the American interests for some regional amicable settlement. The history has told us that all American presidents had got to be prepared to go to war for the sake of American interests.

President Obama in his inauguration speech said that U.S. is in a state of risks unprecedented in the history. This calls for his intelligence to take on the external affairs affecting the interests of U.S.

All the best to you, Mr. President!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sibu - Multipronged Flood Mitigation Projects After Lunar New Year

The persistent rain keeps Sibuians nightmarish! It is nerve-racking nowadays to wake up in the middle of a night to find rain pouring down, worrying the water level might be already on the rise.

I am more fortunate to be in an area which is much less flood-prone. But I feel for those who are in the low-lying black-listed zones. Are they going to stay awake at night to keep watch of rising water level?

According to the news today, some multipronged flood mitigation projects would be planned out after the Lunar New Year. This is more or less warming up an old dish and as such, it is not expected to stir up any bout of excitement. Anyway, it has been a long wait and we sincerely hope something concrete would be forthcoming this time.

The ambitious PR has added a new dimension to the local politics, making it a lot more interesting. Let's stay tuned in to it!

The above picture is by courtesy of Steve Ling.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

After KT, All Eyes Are Now On Sarawak

With the KT bi-election over and the winner going to Mohd Abdul Wahid from PAS, the dust is settled for the time being. But the grand finale is far from over!
It is certainly time now for BN to reflect on the implications of KT's defeat. What actually had gone wrong? You may have one hundred and one logical explanations for the downfall, but none of them speaks louder than the votes!
Increasingly Malaysians have let their sacred votes to voice out for them. The political tsunami on March 8, 2008 and a few bi-elections thereafter had testified to it.
Our DPM Najib put it rightly after KT was proclaimed lost,"We accept that the people's voice is supreme." We hope BN would lend more listening ears to the rakyat.
After KT, the limelight of Malaysian political scenario is inevitably set on Sarawak. With the state election due to be held in less than two years, Sarawak has become a battlefield of supreme importance to PR in realising the "sky-change" dream.
You can't afford not to follow up the news!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

News Release - In Press And Blogsphere

A sampling time-You have to try out to find out!
It was a meet for bloggers also!

A photoshooting session - Andy Chua of Eastern Times (on the extreme right) is a veteran journalist.

Victor Kiu (on the extreme left) was spotted shooting.

Blogsphere is popping out to be a medium increasingly gaining popularity for promotional activities. In West Malaysia, bloggers are making inroad into commercial world of advertisements to gain a foothold. This trend is likely to gather momentum in time to come.
The idea came from Philip Hii about three months back. I tried it out this morning with our publicity release on our new band "The Life Line Band" and our food promotions.
Besides the mainstream news media, I also called in some popular local bloggers to cover the session. It worked out qyite well for the first try-out.
Philip Hii ( ), Steve Ling ( ) and Victor Kiu ( ) are obliging enough to turn up for both a meet and a session of promotions.
The morning was more than just getting down serious on foods and artistes - the occasion proved to be an excellent time for the few bloggers and reporters to rub shoulders and chat over foods and drinks. It was a sort of mini bloggers' meet!
Our hotel is promoting several food items at both cafe Palmelia and Bamboo House to entice customers. To whet their appetite, we seek to blend quality, creativity and tastes into one to come out with delectable delicacies. From claypot to seafood galore, you stand a good chance to have your taste buds tickled and mouth watering.
You don't have have to be a gourmet to appreciate all the promoted dishes. Come and dip your fingers in to find out!
Nicholas Lo (right) of The Borneo Post has never failed us.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kuala Terengganu - Arrows And Bows Are All ready Now!

Tomorrow, all the eligible voters in KT shall go to polling stations to vote in either BN or PR. I guess almost all of them have already fixed up their minds as to whom to cast their votes.

A decidedly narrow fight, KT's bi-election would not change the sky, but it may have profound implication for PR in its pursuit to get on to the mainstream politics in Malaysia.

Let's stay tuned in to the developments.

The picture shows the EC workers preparing the ballot boxes for the bi-election.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Life Line Band - Wow! They Are Marvellous!

Philip having a good time directing the band members.

A shot in our games room - The Life Line Band vowed to do their best!

A free pose - Joan, Tel, Junjie and Ching (L to R).

Need Li shares with the artistes the attractive shots.

The band's debut performance at Bamboo House of Premier Hotel,Sibu last night received a rousing reception and this was a pat on the artistes' backs. Joan Tel, Junjie and Ching beamed when they shared with us their maiden show in Sibu.
Again, I called in Need Li and Philip to photoshoot the artistes for publicity purpose. It was such a fun time with Philip and Need Li having to coach them to do posing
Need Li and Philip teamed up a smart partnership for the shooting session. Their superb skills are admirable and their works are artistic and beautiful.
The picture shows them in action.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sibu - Obnoxious Floods, Eerie Silence

The public outcry over the flood attacks this time seems to have been silenced!

Our media had done a commendable job in reporting the flood conditions during the hit period. The journalists took themselves to the deep-flooded areas to cover the front-line news. Some bloggers also ventured there to give their readers a firsthand coverage, notable among them were Philip Hii , Wong Meng Lei and Steve Ling.

But the media has been on unusually low profile on public voice. The silence is pretty eerie and it is worrying. Other than YB Wong Ho Leng with his trouser legs rolled up in the knee-deep flood calling on the authority to check on the deficiency of our drainage system, the media had generally kept mum on public feelings. I hope I have been mistaken.

Has the media's tongue been sealed on this havoc? The blowing wind in Sibu carries fishy smell and it makes Sibuians nauseous!

The picture shows the hardest hit zone - Jalan Ulu Sg. Merah. (Photo: Philip Hii)

Kuala Terengganu By-Election - A Crucial Fight For Both BN & PR

It is a three-cornered fight. Is the independent candidate BN or PR-supported?
Najib is full-time there to call the shots. He really can't afford a slip!

On the run-up to this crucial by-election, momentum is gathering as both sides drum up for support.
On BN side, DPM Najib is there to call the shots. Certainly this by-election means a lot to DPM since it is a prelude to his taking over from Pak Lah the helm of this nation. If you like, you may call it "a vote of confidence" on Najib, so to speak.
PR called on the voters to send a clear message in this by-election to take Malaysia for "a sky-change" in the next general election.
Anyway, KT is a deciding fight from all perspectives. You can't afford to miss out!
The picture shows Anwar with the president of PAS. The Islamic state issue is pretty sticky to talk over.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sibu Hard Hit By Floods

At Jalan Ling Kai Cheng, the flood was still at knee-high despite refilling up to two feet two years back. The area was one time listed black by the authorities. (Photo: Wong Meng Lei)
Jalan Ulu Sg. Merah was the hardest hit area this time. SMK Sg. Merah had to be closed since the place practically became inaccessible. (Photo: Wong Meng Lei)

This sampan owner was community-minded - he transferred the stranded flood victims for some meagre return selflessly in the stressful conditions of the floods. (Photo: Steve Ling)

A scene showing maternal care and love. (Photo: Steve Ling)

It was a non-stop torrential rain for 50 hours and this natural phenomenon swept back with extra might to bring Sibu in floods once again. The nature had been kind enough this time to spare the upper Rajang of a downpour. Otherwise, with the king tide coming up concurrently, the havoc would be quite beyond our imagination.

The floods were another wake-up call to take workable flood mitigation measure to relieve Sibu of such distress.

Let's stay tuned in to the gigantic project promised over and over by the authority.

The picture shows a vehicle splashing through deep-flooded area at Jalan Ulu Sg. Merah. (Photo: Steve Ling )

Sunday, January 11, 2009

KLSE - Set To Go To A New High

Foreign funds are anticipated to flow back in the coming week to Bursa Malaysia, paving the way for the CI to rise to a three-month high. This run is likely to be built on the run-up to the Lunar New Year and the installation of Obama Barrack as the new president of U.S. The market may have found new impetus to take off.

The governments worldwide are taking concerted efforts to revive the global depressed economic condition, thus shedding a light of hope on the globe. With the world under the lead of the Federal Reserve trending towards a zero-rate environment, the global liquidity flow may escalate in tandem with the ultra-loose monetary condition, giving a much needed push to the market.

Added to this, Obama continues to instil confidence in the investors. The charisma of the president-elect has given the world market optimism that the meltdown might be diverted in due course.

As such, despite the flooding of negative news, Dow Jones Industrial Average is least likely to be expected to slip further down. It may move within a tight range, waiting for the next uptrend movement.

Last week, Bursa Malaysia rebounded on the external positive sentiment and the rising commodity prices. But caution yourself against heavy profit-taking. Short-term trading would be the strategy in the week to come.

The oil price may be on the fall next week in the wake of the worsening economic condition in U.S. Falling below $U.S.40 looks likely to be the immediate target. However, if the tense situation at Gaza subsides, then the oil price is vulnerable to further dip. This is not going to augur well for the oil palm stocks.

The picture shows Datuk Bridget Lai, CEO of Alliance Bank Malaysia.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Zhang Ziyi - Fame-Driven Scandal

In the world of entertainment, celebrities relentlessly pursue for fame and material comforts. All sorts of publicity gimmicks have been designed to zoom up popularity in the circle.

The celebrities capitalise on the voyeuristic nature of media readers and use it to their full advantage.

And there is this group of paparazzi working on encroaching on the celecrities' privacy and initimacy to satisfy the lust for voyeutism of the readers.

The market mechanism of supply and demand is at work here. Paparazzi merely act to get the supply to meet the demand. The willing supply(by celebrities, although some may detest it) and the inexhaustible demand (by readers of media) make the game go on and on with endless headlines on explosive scandals to whack the strong appetite of entertainment readers.

Zhang Ziyi is just one of them on hot pursuit for more popularity!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chinese New Year 2009 - Red Packet Craze

Red packets are still a hot collector's item. The craze has been on for several years and there appears to be little sign of subsiding.
I have come across numerous red packets with very lovely designs. There is little wonder that so many people have grown frenzied about collecting them.
Premier Hotel came out with six designs this year to be given away to our guests as gifts. This trendy item is well demanded and it is truly a wonderful way to say "thank you" to our dear customers.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Zhang Ziyi's Scandalous Photos On Internet

The scandal involving the topless photos of Zhang Ziyi furiously spread on internet could be a set-up.
We may be fooled by her fiance.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Calling Far Away From Khabarovsk, Russia

Standing tall in the snow-covered Khabarovsk, Hock Lai put himself to the test of the freezing weather there. The severe coldness is stinging, making it a strong contrast with the warm condition back in Malaysia.
In a far-away land and amid freezing-point climatic condition, Hock Lai's heart remains warm with concern about Sibu. He called two nights ago to convey his New Year wishes to MAF of Sibu East District and all the brothers and sisters of MAF of The Masland Church. It was pretty touching.
Hock Lai, you have our best wishes.