Sunday, June 22, 2014

Putrajaya Royal Floria Festival

  1. Introduction.  The Putrajaya Royal Floria Festival, an annual flower festival held in the new capital of Malaysia, was organised from June 14 to 22, 2014.  It was officially opened by DYMM Yang di Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah on June 16 and the Festival was, for the first time, accorded a Royal status.  The Exhibition site is an 11.73 ha by the lake in Presinct 4, Putrajaya.  I spent around three hours on the sweltering hot June 21 afternoon covering the many creative and beautiful flower gardens and pavilions on the Exhibition ground.


  2.  Floria Arts and Craft Section.  This section was made up of two section - the enclosed area where handicrafts and clothing materials and the open area where the nurseries displayed their various garden products from furniture, planting materials, fertilizers, seedlings etc.


  3.  Floral Pavilion.  This enclosed and air-conditioned exhibition area showcased international outdoor gardens, international floral designers, potted garden design, water feature home garden, rectangular window, body flowers, bridal work and IFD Wall art.



  4.  School and University Landscape Gardens.  This section showcased the creative work on landscape gardens by students at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

5.  Lake Corner Section.  This section by the lake displayed the creative work of the city and town councils and government departments.

  6.  Other Sections and Activities.  Other sections that I missed were the Cat's Garden, A Lover's Paradise and the Multi-purpose Pavilion.  The Festival also had other attractions - workshop and demonstration on handicrafts, water show, international cat competition, performances by celebrities, face painting, brassband show, aerobic exercises, colouring competition for the children, lectures on subjects related to gardens, cooking competition, nature photography competition, cultural performances, flower arrangement demonstration, practices of sustainable development.
  7.  Concluding Remarks.  The Festival has transformed considerably from when it first started to a wholesome festival having elements of educational, social, business, entertainment and sustainable development.  Congratulations to Putrajaya Holdings especially its President, Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat, who has expressed his wish (as reported in the New Straits Times June 21) to make the Putrajaya Royal Floria an outstanding if not the best floral show in the world and that it will be an international flower festival event. 


Monday, June 16, 2014

Visit to Phnom Penh, Cambodia: June 10 to 13, 2014

    1. Introduction.  This trip was mooted by Robin Tay as a follow-up to his earlier visit in exploring areas of business ventures in Cambodia.  On his earlier visit he indicated that he has made contact with a few influential peoples in the government.  I have always been fascinated with visits to ASEAN countries as the fares offered by the various low-cost airlines are affordable, people are friendly and costs of food and accommodation are comparatively cheaper.  When this trip was planned I jumped at the opportunity.  The delegation was made up of five people - Dato' Kamarudin Kachar, Datuk Zainie Abdul Aucasa, Robin Tay, Simon Sim Thai Fong and yours truly.  We departed by Malaysian Airlines at 9.30 am on Tuesday June 10. It was only a one-hour 35 minutes flight KL-Phnom Penh. On arrival we were received by Sothearith Long of Three Sixty travel who took care of our transport during our stay there. We checked in at the Holiday Villa Hotel.

  2. Visit to the Malaysian Embassy. Our first program on arrival was to visit the Malaysian Embassy.  We did not make any appointment but decided to go there to meet the officials.  Mr. Khairin, the Counsellor at the Embassy received and briefed us and when the H.E.Ambassador, Mr Raszlan Abdul Rashid walked into office later, he welcomed us as he was curious to know what the senior citizens (Dato' Kamarudin grey hair gave his age away) were at the Embassy for.  He informed that he has been in Phnom Penh for six months. He was at first a little unhappy when he was directed to take charge of the Embassy in Cambodia.  However, he was subsequently surprised to see the big cosmopolitan city that is fast developing and glad to be posted in the country.  Mr. Raszlan briefed us as to the opportunities of doing business in Cambodia.  According to him, Cambodia is a relatively young nation and accordingly, offers a wide range of business opportunities.  He indicated that Malaysia's presence in the country is strong in banking with the presence of CIMB, Maybank, Public Bank and Hong Leong; hospitality industry with investments in hotels - Nagaworld, Sunway and Holiday Villa.  However, he feels that there are still vast opportunities in manufacturing, franchise businesses (Secret Recipe and Nelson food outlets are already here), automotive, tourism, education and agriculture.  Though labour wage rates are low but they are rising as there is demand for increase in emoluments.  However, electricity bills are still high.  Cambodia also is quite liberal in permitting profits to be taken out.  H.E Ambassador Raszlan went out of his way to invite us for dinner and meet a few Malaysian leaders already present in Cambodia at Sunmay Hotel the following day.  Among them was Mr. Teh Sing, President of The Malaysian Business Council of Cambodia  We wish to extend our appreciation to H.E for his kind hospitality   

Members of the delegation with HE Ambassador in front of his office (from right
Simon Sim, Robin Tay, Datuk Zainie, HE Ambassador  Raszlan, Dato' Kamarudin Kachar
and yours truly
Signing the Visitors Book at the Embassy witnessed by Datuk Zainie
Dinner hosted by HE Ambassador Raszlan at Sunway Hotel with Malaysian

business leaders.  The lady in blue in the second row is Ms Elis Leong,
the Financial Controller of the Hotel

   3.  Property Development in Phnom Penh.  Robin Tay, leader of the delegation, and Simon Sim were particularly interested in the properties being developed in Phnom Penh.  On the second day of our visit (June 11), the delegation headed for the Diamond Island, a small island in Tonle Sap, with an area of 100 ha, which is being developed for residential and commercial purposes by Canadia Bank Plc.  The delegation was briefed by Ms Banh Souly, Head of Sales Department. A few of the properties being marketed are prized at US 3 500 per sq m of built-up area.  An iconic 555 m tower known as the Diamond Tower will be part of the development plan. Investors are from China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.  We were conducted around the development site and ended up at the Exhibition where the Malaysian Trade Fair was being held.  The following day (June 12), we visited another development area of Olympia City where residential high rise structures are being built made up of three bedrooms, two bedrooms, penthouse and studio units at various phases of development around the land property with a big sporting stadium.  The manager of Olympia City, Ms Sopheak Long, a pretty Cambodian graduate of the University of Law and Economics, conducted us around. Members of the delegation were impressed with her communication ability in English, poise and beauty and the depth of her understanding of the property market.       
 The delegation being received at the Sales Centre of the Diamond Island Development  
 Ms Banh Souly, Head of Sales Dept, briefing the delegation 
 Group photo in one of the showrooms
 Photo in the Study Showroom
 Photo of the delegation with the cultural troupe at the Malaysian Trade Fair
 Photo with Ms Sopheak Long in the one of the Showrooms
 Dinner at the Italian Restaurant with Datuk Zainie and Ms Sopheak
    4. Rotary Projects in Cambodia.  We were privileged to have the company of Datuk Zainie Abdul Aucasa, a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu, who has served with distinction as the District Governor of District 3300 covering Southern Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah.  areas.  The Rotary Clubs of District 3300 jointly with the Rotary Club of Phnom Penh has established a few years ago a HARELIP Programme in Cambodia and Laos, to provide medical facilities of corrective surgery for children with lip deformity. It appears this deformity is quite common in this country due to certain nutritional deficiency in the diet of the people.  Since the inception of the Project two years ago hundreds of children have undergone this corrective surgery.  Rotary provides funds so that parents of the children can travel and get accommodation when the children are being treated free of charge by surgeons who have volunteered to participate in the Program.  The Project Coordinator is Mr. Chan Kok Choy, a Malaysian banker who has lived in Phnom Penh for 16 years. He is the Executive Director/General Manager of Vattanac Bank.  We had the honour of visiting with him at his Vattanac Bank Office and he subsequently hosted the delegation for lunch at the Khmer-Thai Restaurant.  Following lunch we visited the Khmer-China-Russian Friendship Hospital where a group of Rotary volunteers from Singapore were providing dental treatments to the people of Cambodia     
The delegation with Mr Chan, 3rd from right, at his Vattanac Bank Office 
Presenting my book ' In Search of Happiness' to Mr. Chan
Dinner at the Titanic Seafood Restaurant on the Riverfront of Tonle Sap
The seafood dinner hosted by Rotarians from Singapore
  5. Concluding Remarks. It was an fruitful and memorable trip.  We made many contacts and friends.  Dato' Kamarudin and I were exploring opportunities in training in such areas as vocational skill, wellness and motivation.  Also, possible investments in agriculture.  We enjoyed the variety of food available in the city (Fried rice and bihun at Mamak Restauarant, Khmer-Thai Food, French at at un Francaise Restaurant, seafood at Titanic and Western at Sunway Hotel Restaurant).