Trump praises Najib for coordinating well ASEAN-US dialogue relations

Posted on : 13-11-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

MANILA: US President Donald Trump praised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for Malaysia’s role as country coordinator for ASEAN-US dialogue relations.

Trump, in his opening remarks at the 5th Asean US Summit today, said Najib had done an excellent job for carrying out the task in coordinating the relations between Asean countries and US, for the period of 2015-2018.

“I want to thank Prime Minister Najib for the excellent job you have done as coordinator. I appreciate it very much … I really appreciate it, you did coordinate very well with us,” he said.

This year is the 40th anniversary of Asean-US dialogue relations and today, the prime minister presented a report on the progress made throughout the years and future direction between Asean countries and US.

Earlier in the morning, Najib and wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor attended the opening ceremony of the two-day 31st Asean Summit and Related Summits by the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who chairs this year’s Summit, at the Cultural Centre of the Philippines in Pasay City, here.

Najib later led Malaysian delegation, which include Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, at the Summit and Related Summits.

Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in his opening remark at the Summit, urged leaders to strengthen their fight against terrorism, piracy and armed robbery in the seas, and illegal drugs that threaten peace and stability in the region.

He also thanked Asean member countries and dialogue partners for providing assistance to his government in liberating Marawi City from terrorist groups who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

He added that they were now helping the people get back on their feet and resume their lives.

Duterte also said that the menace of illegal drug trade continued to endanger societies.

Yesterday, hours after arriving here, the prime minister held a 30-minute bilateral meeting with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

Tomorrow, the prime minister is scheduled to attend six Related Summits, followed by the closing and handing over chairmanship to Singapore ceremonies before flying home.

SOURCE:- NST

Malaysia Airlines and Sabah Tourism sign on for new partnership campaign

Posted on : 09-11-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

LONDON: Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) in London and Sabah Tourism Board (STB) signed a new partnership campaign for 2018 to continue to boost arrivals to Sabah and raise the profile of Borneo (Kota Kinabalu) in the United Kingdom.

Next year, MAB London will be conducting a series of trade and consumer activities and campaigns to promote Sabah and Malaysia through digital campaign promotions on the Malaysia Airlines UK/EU online portals, partnership with Kuoni, and travel trade partnership with key tour operator partners to launch the A350 route.

Signing the agreement at the World Travel Market London 2017 at ExCel London  were Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun  and Adrian Keating, Malaysia Airlines Regional Manager UK, Ireland, and Europe and North America.

“This partnership will help to create even greater opportunities to increase the growing number of tourists and business travellers from UK and Ireland flying to Sabah,” said Masidi, adding that the statistics by Sabah Tourism Board revealed that in 2016, there were 35,901 arrivals from these key markets, a seven percent increase compared to 2015. The overall international arrivals in 2016 recorded more than 1.1 million visitors, a notable significant increase of 15.4 percent compared to 2015.

On Malaysia Airlines, visitors to Kota Kinabalu grew by 57% from January to September 2017 to reach 10,523 arrivals compared to the same period in 2016.

According to Keating, Malaysia Airlines is a brand that is embedded in the culture and diversity of Malaysia and we are delighted to renew our partner with the Sabah Tourism Board to showcase all that the region has to offer.

“Whether you want to explore the heights of Mount Kinabalu or relax on a paradise beach, Sabah is the perfect place to start your Malaysian adventure,” he added.

Also present were Suzaini Sabdin Ghani, Deputy General Manager of Sabah Tourism Board and Daniel Roman, Assistant Manager Marketing, Sabah Tourism Board (UK, Europe and US Market).

The Sabah Tourism delegation was led by Masidi and also participated by Borneo Nature Tours, Borneo Adventures, Shangri La’s Rasa Ria, Rustic Borneo, and Borneo Sandakan Tours.

World Travel Market London is the leading global event for the travel industry, generating more than ¢G2.8 billion of business contracts between attendees.

Over three days, the travel industry comes together as almost 5,000 exhibiting destinations, technology and private sector companies meet and network with 51,000 travel professionals, key industry buyers, journalists, digital influencers, students and tourism ministers.

SOURCE: THE BORNEO POST

Malaysia exceeds sales target at book festival (Frankfurt Book Fair 2017)

Posted on : 17-10-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

FRANKFURT – The Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) 2017, the world’s largest book and publication industry event ended on Sunday with Malaysia recording a sales contract of over RM9 million.

Head of the Malaysian delegation to FBF, Abd Wahab Ibrahim said generally this year Malaysia’s participation was very encouraging, especially from the publishing industry.

“We have exceeded our goal. We targeted a sales contract of RM8 million but we achieved over RM9 million,” he told reporters on the last day of the book fair which saw a gathering of 300,000 book publishers from around the world. The five-day fair opened on Oct 11.

Abdul Wahab, who is also National Book Council of Malaysia (MBKM) director, said the organisation played its role in looking for business opportunities through business match-making with international publishers, including from Turkey, Vietnam and Taiwan.

He was also impressed with the level of professionalism shown by the Malaysian delegation who   included 31 exhibitors from government and private agencies, government-linked companies and Malaysian Book Publishers Association.

“It shows the seriousness of the book industry players in upholding the industry not only at national level but also internationally,” he said.

He added that Malaysia was also invited by representatives of London Book Fair, the Seoul International Book Fair and the Turkey International Book Fair to participate in their country’s book festival next year.

Meanwhile, Perbadanan Kota Buku senior manager Hasri Hasan said the sales value recorded by Malaysia has opened more opportunities for local book industry players.

Various activities were held at the Malaysian Pavilion throughout FBF 2017 at the Frankfurt Trade Centre among them, the launch of Storymaker League’s 1st Asian Story-Writing Challenge 2017, launch of language month and a novel titled ‘The Blood Witch’ by a Malaysian author Cinthia Koeksal.

In line with the theme Faces of Malaysia this year, a display on the culture of the Mah Meri Orang Asli tribe was brought specially from Carey Island, Banting to Frankfurt as an attraction to the Malaysian Pavilion.

SOURCE– BERNAMA

The world’s 30 most competitive economies – WEF

Posted on : 28-09-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

Switzerland is the world’s most competitive economy for a ninth straight year, the Geneva-based World Economic Forum said on Wednesday.

Since suffering a rare blip in 2008, when it was nudged into second place by the United States, the Swiss economy has maintained an efficient but unshakeable grip on the top spot in the WEF annual ranking .

WEF economist Thierry Geiger said Switzerland had a virtuous circle of infrastructure, institutions and education, but at the heart of its success was the way it created and used talent.

“That is really the secret of Switzerland, this ability to innovate, supported by a whole range of enabling factors,” he said.

However, after almost a decade at the top, Switzerland is at risk from complacency and populism. The ageing population could undermine the innovation miracle by shutting the door to foreign talent in one of the referendums that make Swiss law, he said.

“We see a proliferation of such referendums on everything, some of them are kind of dangerous, they could really endanger and jeopardise Switzerland’s prosperity,” Geiger said.

The World Economic Forum, the same organisation that runs the Davos meeting of global powerbrokers each January, bases its rankings on a dozen drivers of competitiveness and a survey of business leaders.

“Global competitiveness will be more and more defined by the innovative capacity of a country,” Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman, said in a statement.

Besides Switzerland, the top 10 remained the same as a year ago, although there was some shuffling of the order. The United States climbed over Singapore into second place, and Hong Kong jumped three places to sixth, leapfrogging Japan in ninth spot

Britain slipped one place to eighth. It has not yet dropped in the rankings because of its Brexit negotiations with the European Union but it is expected to do so, the WEF said.

China inched up one place to 27th, well ahead of 38th-ranked Russia and India, which was in 40th position.

The wooden spoon went to Yemen, a poor country further devastated by civil war, economic collapse, cholera and near-famine conditions, which was in 137th place.

Following is a table showing the top 30 countries, according to the World Economic Forum.

1 Switzerland
2 United States
3 Singapore
4 Netherlands
5 Germany
6 Hong Kong
7 Sweden
8 United Kingdom
9 Japan
10 Finland
11 Norway
12 Denmark
13 New Zealand
14 Canada
15 Taiwan
16 Israel
17 United Arab Emirates
18 Austria
19 Luxembourg
20 Belgium
21 Australia
22 France
23 Malaysia
24 Ireland
25 Qatar
26 South Korea
27 China
28 Iceland
29 Estonia
30 Saudi Arabia

SOURCE:- MONEY WEB

Race to turn flying car into reality gathering steam

Posted on : 29-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

Le Bourget, France : Aeronautics giants are treating the idea of a flying car with caution, as such a project raises more questions than it answers, experts say — it’s a child’s dream, a millionaire’s toy.

But is it really the next big thing in transport?

At this year’s Paris Air Show, you had to search hard to find an aircraft that looked anything like an automobile: but one such model, the AeroMobil, was tucked away under the old Concordes at the Air and Space Museum, just outside the capital.

This strange-looking hybrid, with its bulbous nose and retractable wings, designed by a Slovakian company, is scheduled to go into series production by 2020.

“After you’ve landed at an airport, you transform the plane into a car and take the road to wherever you want,” Simon Bendrey, AeroMobil’s deputy head of engineering, told AFP.

And they have already received a number of orders, he added, despite an asking price of 1.2-1.5 million euros ($1.3-$1.8 million).

While flying cars have starred in films including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Fifth Element, the race to turn such dreams into a reality is being run by dozens of small creative start-ups like AeroMobil.

– Quantum leap –

Among those nearest to take-off is the Dutch outfit PAL-V, which is offering a two-seater gyrocopter and is scheduled to be available by next year — a steal at 300,000 euros.

Czech company Nirvana Systems says it has had dozens of orders for its mini-helicopter, which can also travel on roads, albeit at rather sluggish ground speeds.

Silicon Valley-based company Kitty Hawk says its Flyer will be on sale by the end of the year.

And just last week France’s Pegase, a cross between a ultra-light plane and a mini-car, crossed the Channel, the narrow stretch of water between England and France.

Until recently, flying cars “were a cross between a bad car and a bad plane,” said Bruno Sainjon, head of the French aerospace lab ONERA, on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show.

But there has been a quantum leap in design thanks to vast improvements in the power of electric propulsion, linked largely to the rapid advances in drone technology recently.

Today, such engines lift 80-100 kilos (176-220 pounds), Xavier Dutertre, director of the Techoplane project based in Normandy, northern France, told AFP.

“And we’re not far from having the capacity to transport one or two men for about 20 minutes,” he added. “In five to 10 years, that will have become commonplace.”

While driving-flying hybrids may initially be the latest must-have gadgets for the ultra-rich, experts believe that such vehicles could actually be rapidly overtaken, as the industry sets its sights on fly-only solutions further down the line.

– ‘New era for aviation’ –

The real future, said ONERA’s Sainjon is “a system of on-demand air transport, which would clearly be the start of a new era for aviation” — a flying taxi service, in other words.

Flying cars will not be something that just anyone can drive, “because it’s too risky,” Pascal Pincemin, an aerospace specialist with Deloitte, told AFP.

He envisaged digital platforms to manage the new form of traffic, and that appears to be what Uber, the App-based ride-hailing service, has in mind with its “Elevate” project.

The idea appears to be to develop a network of electric, vertical-takeoff aircraft and they are aiming to make their first demonstrations in 2020.

Dubai could be the first off the starting blocks with a new kind of small autonomous electric helicopter scheduled to come into operation later this year.

There is “a real appetite, a real interest”, in this kind of transport in some of the more traffic-congested cities, said Jean Brice Dumont, head of engineering at Airbus Helicopters.

At the last Geneva motor show, the company presented its own prototype flying car, “Pop Up”, developed in cooperation with a subsidiary of Volkswagen. But Dumont said they were expecting the technology to mature and develop further.

Boeing, so far, has not shown its hand and Deloitte’s Pincemin does not see flying taxis becoming a common mode of transport before 2050. First, he said, the vehicles would have to prove their reliability.

Air transport today has a death rate of 0.2 per million flights, said Patrick Cipriani, director of security at the DGAC, France’s civil aviation directorate.

“Will we be prepared to accept levels like those of light aircraft, which are 100 times less safe?” he asked.

SOURCE:- AFP

Visitors impressed with Malaysia’s renewable energy project

Posted on : 11-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN: Visitors and delegations to the Malaysia Pavilion at Astana Expo 2017 here were impressed with the renewable energy project highlighted at the pavilion, such as the dual-purpose solar farm for electricity generation and agriculture.

Malaysia’s Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said they were also impressed with the rainforest immersion being incredibly life-like.

“They said our content on renewable energy, sustainable growth and energy efficiency to display Malaysia’s measures to decarbonise our economy was inspiring, informative and of quality,” he told Malaysian reporters here yesterday, on the sidelines of the Astana Expo 2017.

He said the Malaysia Pavilion received over 15 ministerial officials and expo commissioners from Thailand to South Africa, with comments ranging from “one of the best pavilions”, to ‘most interactive experience at the expo’.

Ongkili said a total of 4,942 visitors had visited the pavilion on the first day of its opening yesterday.

The Malaysia Pavilion, themed ‘Powering Green Growth’ will showcase Malaysia’s best practices and innovation,

policies, research and development and green product and services with the aim of attracting investors, promoting collaboration with countries in Central Asia and encouraging exports from Malaysia to Kazakhstan.

“They also liked how our showcase was not just a hard sell, but incorporated our cultural demonstration and Malaysian cuisine which ended the tour of the Pavilion with a taste of Malaysia for the visitors,” said Ongkili.

He also invited Malaysian industry leaders and industry players to come to Astana to visit the Malaysia Pavilion to support as well as participate in the business matching sessions that have been planned for the three-month ongoing exposition.

Over 150 entities, including 62 speakers and 94 private and government organisations are part of the Malaysian delegation to the expo and will participate in various activities lined up over the next 91 days to promote and showcase the best practices Malaysia has to offer in green energy.

SOURCE— BERNAMA

Smart genes’ account for 20 pct of intelligence: Study

Posted on : 23-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

PARIS – Scientists on Monday announced the discovery of 52 genes linked to human intelligence, 40 of which have been identified as such for the first time.

The findings also turned up a surprising connection between intelligence and autism that could one day help shed light on the condition’s origins.

Taken together, the new batch of “smart genes” accounted for 20 percent of the discrepancies in IQ test results among tens of thousands of people examined, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Genetics.

“For the first time, we were able to detect a substantial amount of genetic effects in IQ,” said Danielle Posthuma, a researcher at the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research in Amsterdam, and the main architect of the study.

“Our findings provide insight into the biological underpinnings of intelligence,” she told AFP.

Most of the newly discovered gene variants linked to elevated IQ play a role in regulating cell development in the brain, especially neuron differentiation and the formation of neural information gateways called synapses.

An international team of 30 scientists combed through 13 earlier studies in which detailed genetic profiles and intelligence evaluations — based on IQ tests — had been compiled for 78,000 people, all of European descent.

LINKS WITH AUTISM

Increasingly powerful computers have made it possible to scan and compare hundreds of thousands of genomes, matching tiny variations in DNA with diseases, body types or, in this case, native smarts.

The human genome has some 25,000 genes composed of more than three billion pairing of building-block molecules.

Many of the genetic variations linked with high IQ also correlated with other attributes: more years spent in school, bigger head size in infancy, tallness, and even success in kicking the tobacco habit.

One of the strongest — and most surprising — links was with autism, noted Posthuma.

“Gene variants associated with high IQ are also associated with higher risk of autism spectrum disorder,” she said in an interview.

One gene in particular — SHANK3 — “is a very good candidate for explaining that,” she added.

Conversely, the absence of certain high-IQ genes was more common in people suffering from schizophrenia or obesity.

A GENETIC IQ TEST?

To challenge their own results, the researchers separately checked the 13 databases they drew from — each had used slightly different IQ tests — against the 52 gene variants to see if the combined match-up between intelligence and genetic profile held up. It did.

They also scanned a very large database that had not been part of their study. Once again, the link held up, though — as expected — with a smaller percentage overlap between with IQ.

Scientists would have to scan millions of genomes to find them all, and the raw data and computing power for doing so is still out of reach, Posthuma explained.

“For intelligence, there are thousands of genes,” she said. “We have detected the 52 most important ones, but there will be a lot more.”

Experts agree that genes probably account for up to half of measured intelligence. But even if scientists could map all the genetic quirks that contribute to being brainy, that might not be enough to predict IQ, much less success in life.

“We are looking at all these genetic effects in isolation,” said Posthuma. “Maybe it’s a certain pattern of genetic variants” — and not just their sheer number — “that makes you more intelligent.”

The other major ingredient for achievement, she added, is exercising one’s quotient of grey matter, however big or small it might be.

If someone with a big genetic endowment “chooses not to put any effort into learning, then that will definitely diminish their chances for achievement,” Posthuma said.

SOURCE:-ABS-CBN

Najib participates in Belt and Road Forum

Posted on : 15-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

BEIJING: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak Monday participated in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation here.

State and government leaders from 28 nations took part in the round-table discussions of the Belt and Road Initiative, a concept aimed at providing mega infrastructure for international trade.

The meeting took place at Yangi Lake, and was chaired by President Xi Jinping who had come up with the initiative.

Najib also joined in the discussions held over lunch.

Cultural exchanges and people-to-people relations were also a focus of the discussions.

Malaysia is committed to the initiative and had come up with several infrastructure projects such as the East Coast Rail Line, port expansion and modern city construction.

SOURCE– BERNAMA

Made-in-China passenger jet set to take wing

Posted on : 03-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

SHANGHAI: China is expected this week to conduct the maiden test flight of a home-grown passenger jet built to meet soaring domestic travel demand and challenge the dominance of Boeing and Airbus.
The C919, built by state-owned aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), was set to take wing over Shanghai on Friday, the company said on Wednesday, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
“If weather conditions are not suitable, the maiden flight will be rescheduled,” COMAC said, adding that engineers had completed some 118 tests.
The narrow-body jet represents nearly a decade of effort in a state-mandated drive to reduce dependence on European consortium Airbus and US aerospace giant Boeing.
“The first flight itself is not a huge deal. (But) of course, it’s going to be a hugely symbolic moment in the evolution of China’s aviation industry,” said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at industry publication Flightglobal.
The C919 is the country’s first big passenger plane and the latest sign of growing Chinese ambition and technical skill, coming one week after China launched its first domestically made aircraft carrier and successfully docked a cargo spacecraft with an orbiting space lab.
The C919 can seat 168 passengers and has a range of up to 5,555km.
LONG WAY TO GO
China is a huge battleground for Boeing and Airbus, with its travellers taking to the skies in ever-growing numbers.
The Chinese travel market is expected to surpass the United States by 2024, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The C919’s test flight comes after almost a decade of effort by Chinese authrorities to build a domestic aviation giant and reduce reliance on Boeing and Airbus AFP/STR
Airbus has estimated Chinese airlines will need nearly 6,000 new planes over the next two decades, while Boeing foresees 6,800 aircraft. Both put the combined price tags for those planes at around US$1 trillion.
But aviation analysts said Shanghai-based COMAC has a long journey ahead before it can challenge the lock held on the market by Boeing and Airbus.
“This is an important milestone for China with this new aircraft. But for it to move to the next stage, which is to sell this product, is not going to be so easy,” said Shukor Yusof, an analyst with Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.
But COMAC may be able to rely on purchases by fast-growing Chinese airlines as it looks to get sales off the ground.
COMAC had already received 570 orders by the end of last year, almost all from domestic airlines.
Waldron agreed it will take time, but said that over the next century China will become a world aviation player.
“You are going to have three big companies. You will have Boeing, you will have Airbus, and you will have COMAC,” he said.
China has dreamed of building its own civil aircraft since the 1970s, when it began work on the narrow-body Y-10, which was eventually deemed unviable and never entered service.
COMAC’s first regional jet, the 90-seat ARJ 21, entered service in 2016, several years late.
LONG-HAUL AMBITION
The ARJ 21 is currently restricted to flying Chinese domestic routes as it still lacks the crucial US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification that would allow it to fly US skies.
The C919’s first test flight had been due to take place in 2016 but was delayed.
Besides the C919, China is also working with Russia to develop a long-haul wide-bodied jet called the C929.
Although the C919 is made in China, foreign firms are playing key roles by supplying systems as well as the engines, which are made by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric (GE) of the US and France’s Safran.
During a visit to COMAC in 2014, President Xi Jinping said not having a homegrown plane left China at the mercy of foreign industrial groups, state media reported at the time.
China last August launched a new multi-billion dollar jet-engine conglomerate with nearly 100,000 employees, with the hope of powering its own planes with self-made engines.
After the C919’s first flight, it will still need to pass a series of tests to obtain Chinese airworthiness certification before it can sell the aircraft.
China also has for years been in talks with the FAA to obtain certification for both the ARJ 21 and the C919, without result.
SOURCE: AFP/mn/ec
SHANGHAI: China is expected this week to conduct the maiden test flight of a home-grown passenger jet built to meet soaring domestic travel demand and challenge the dominance of Boeing and Airbus.
The C919, built by state-owned aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), was set to take wing over Shanghai on Friday, the company said on Wednesday, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
“If weather conditions are not suitable, the maiden flight will be rescheduled,” COMAC said, adding that engineers had completed some 118 tests.
The narrow-body jet represents nearly a decade of effort in a state-mandated drive to reduce dependence on European consortium Airbus and US aerospace giant Boeing.
“The first flight itself is not a huge deal. (But) of course, it’s going to be a hugely symbolic moment in the evolution of China’s aviation industry,” said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at industry publication Flightglobal.
The C919 is the country’s first big passenger plane and the latest sign of growing Chinese ambition and technical skill, coming one week after China launched its first domestically made aircraft carrier and successfully docked a cargo spacecraft with an orbiting space lab.
The C919 can seat 168 passengers and has a range of up to 5,555km.
LONG WAY TO GO
China is a huge battleground for Boeing and Airbus, with its travellers taking to the skies in ever-growing numbers.
The Chinese travel market is expected to surpass the United States by 2024, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The C919’s test flight comes after almost a decade of effort by Chinese authrorities to build a domestic aviation giant and reduce reliance on Boeing and Airbus AFP/STR
Airbus has estimated Chinese airlines will need nearly 6,000 new planes over the next two decades, while Boeing foresees 6,800 aircraft. Both put the combined price tags for those planes at around US$1 trillion.
But aviation analysts said Shanghai-based COMAC has a long journey ahead before it can challenge the lock held on the market by Boeing and Airbus.
“This is an important milestone for China with this new aircraft. But for it to move to the next stage, which is to sell this product, is not going to be so easy,” said Shukor Yusof, an analyst with Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.
But COMAC may be able to rely on purchases by fast-growing Chinese airlines as it looks to get sales off the ground.
COMAC had already received 570 orders by the end of last year, almost all from domestic airlines.
Waldron agreed it will take time, but said that over the next century China will become a world aviation player.
“You are going to have three big companies. You will have Boeing, you will have Airbus, and you will have COMAC,” he said.
China has dreamed of building its own civil aircraft since the 1970s, when it began work on the narrow-body Y-10, which was eventually deemed unviable and never entered service.
COMAC’s first regional jet, the 90-seat ARJ 21, entered service in 2016, several years late.
LONG-HAUL AMBITION
The ARJ 21 is currently restricted to flying Chinese domestic routes as it still lacks the crucial US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification that would allow it to fly US skies.
The C919’s first test flight had been due to take place in 2016 but was delayed.
Besides the C919, China is also working with Russia to develop a long-haul wide-bodied jet called the C929.
Although the C919 is made in China, foreign firms are playing key roles by supplying systems as well as the engines, which are made by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric (GE) of the US and France’s Safran.
During a visit to COMAC in 2014, President Xi Jinping said not having a homegrown plane left China at the mercy of foreign industrial groups, state media reported at the time.
China last August launched a new multi-billion dollar jet-engine conglomerate with nearly 100,000 employees, with the hope of powering its own planes with self-made engines.
After the C919’s first flight, it will still need to pass a series of tests to obtain Chinese airworthiness certification before it can sell the aircraft.
China also has for years been in talks with the FAA to obtain certification for both the ARJ 21 and the C919, without result.
SOURCE: AFP/mn/ec

Singapore to carry out trials of self-driving pods, buses

Posted on : 10-04-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

SINGAPORE— Trials for self-driving pods in Sentosa and autonomous buses possibly around Jurong Island and the National University of Singapore (NUS) will kick off in the next three months, and if things go well, the rides may be rolled out to the public from as early as 2018 and 2020 respectively.

In Sentosa, testing for four mobility-on-demand pods will start this month along three routes: Tanjong Beach, Palawan East to Siloso Point, Sentosa Golf Club to Imbiah Lookout. Artificial intelligence will allow the 15-seater Navya Arma and 20-seater ST Kinetics Shuttle to replicate the behaviour of a human driver.

From 2018, the public will be able to book a ride on these by booking through their smartphones or information kiosks around the island as part of the trial.

Over at a still-undecided location, work on a trial involving two 40-seater electric buses will start between this month and June as part of a 42-month trial. The Land Transport Authority said possible sites include Jurong Island and NUS. If all goes well, the goal is for the buses to run on fixed and scheduled public routes on selected feeder and trunk bus services in 2020.

Both projects were unveiled by ST Kinetics at a ceremony on Monday (April 10). Several initiatives were announced, including the launch of the Singapore Autonomous Vehicles (AV) Consortium and AV development projects with the Ministry of Transport (MOT), Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC).

For the Sentosa trial, the engineering company will work with SDC and MOT, and make use of a fleet management system to analyse passenger demand and optimise route management.

For the driverless bus trial, ST Kinetics is collaborating with the LTA. Initial stages of the trial will be conducted during off-peak hours at an industrial area, before progressing to more complicated test sites. In the future, the trial could be extended to public roads for intra-town travel, said the LTA.

A satellite-based Global Positioning System and sensors will enable the buses – traveling up to 60km/hr – to identify their location and surroundings. Radars and sonars will be able to pick up other vehicles and pedestrians as far as 200 metres away.

Permanent Secretary for Transport Pang Kin Keong said: “The autonomous mobility-on-demand trial in Sentosa and the autonomous bus trial with ST Kinetics are further major steps in our plan to leverage the technology to improve urban mobility in Singapore. We will progressively launch more trials, including in other parts of Singapore, with the aim of eventually deploying such mobility concepts as part and parcel of our transport system.”

SOURCE— TODAY

Brunei-Sabah tourism deal

Posted on : 28-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: A memorandum of cooperation signed between national carrier Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) and Sabah Tourism Board (STB) was a first for tourism development between Brunei and Malaysia.

The memorandum, which aims to develop joint promotional activities for the inflow of tourists from Melbourne into Borneo, was signed by RBA Executive General Manager Brett McDougall and the general manager of Sabah Tourism Board, Gordon Yapp. The signing was witnessed by RBA CEO Kram Chand and the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.

“STB has worked with RBA before on several joint promotions be it for Australian market or long haul like UK markets, therefore this cooperation will further intensify and cement our working relationship for future mutual benefits,” said Masidi.

As part of the cooperation, the two parties agreed to cost share the promotional activities that will centre around stimulating the increase of Australian tourists into Brunei Darrusalam and Sabah.

Selected Australian travel agents will be appointed to sell special packages within a time frame, which includes a dedicated Return and Services Leagues (RSL) package to attend the Sandakan Day Memorial Service in Sabah this year.

For higher destination awareness on both Brunei and Sabah, the document also agreed to work with Australian online writers and media to produce online content as well as a promotional e-book.

“Brunei is our closest neighbour and was one of our top international arrivals into Sabah last year. Some of our long haul arrivals particularly from Australia traditionally use the Melbourne-Kota Kinabalu route, a connection they have been enjoying for the past few years.

“We are seeing positive results from fresh strategies and new marketing approach, continued awareness in the correct platform combined with the convenient air accessibility by RBA, that arrivals from Australia last year increased by +8.7 compared to 2015. It is only right that we embark on this memorandum right now to further develop this market segment for both countries. On behalf of the State Government, I wish to congratulate both parties on this historical partnership,” added Masidi.

SOURCE:- THE BORNEO POST

Qatar an attractive investment destination

Posted on : 05-02-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

DOHA: Qatar is still an attractive investment destination and Malaysian companies must capitalise on the intimate bilateral relations to boost their businesses in one of the world’s richest countries.

Malaysian ambassador to Qatar Datuk Ahmad Jazri Mohd Johar said the Qatari Government has high confidence in Malaysian companies based on their performance record in helping the country develop, especially quality infrastructural development since 2014.

“We have the abilities because many Qatari firms recognised the strengths of Malaysian companies.

“We have a very special diplomatic ties because as Islamic countries we always help each other achieve common goal at international level, especially at the Organisation of Islamic Countries,” he said here yesterday

He said total Malaysia-Qatar trade has increased by three-fold in 10 years, from US$265.5mil in 2006 to US$842.38mil in 2015.

“Qatar is the third biggest trading partner of Malaysia in the Middle East after United Arab Republic and Saudi Arabia. Its key trading partners in the world are still Japan, the United States and Germany.

Malaysia’s key exports included electrical and electronic products, machines, equipment and tools, metal and wood products and processed food. Malaysia imports raw petroleum, refined oil, chemical and chemical and metal products from Qatar.

Ahmad Jazri said Qatar was now the focussing on the construction and infrastructural sectors in the urban areas as it prepared to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

On the success of Malaysian firms in Qatar, he said, many of them were in construction and engineering services and hotel management.

“One of them, WCT Engineering Bhd, is involved in many construction projects in the new Lusail township,” he said.

He said among the projects WCT and its Qatari partner were involved in were the building of railway stations and underground railway line, power plant and informaton technology in preparation to host the FIFA World Cup.

Ahmad Jazri said the four-day visit of Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, to Qatar starting on Saturday would help boost bilateral relations and would give Malaysian firms more business opportunities.

“The visit will offer economic opportunities and jobs for the companies and Malaysians and help existing investment cooperation,” he said.

He said Ahmad Zahid’s first visit was at the invitation of its Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah Nasser Khalifa Al Thani.

In addition to having an audience with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al-Thani, and calling on Sheikh Abdullah, Ahmad Zahid would visit the National Control Centre and community projects in Lusail, Doha, Hamad International Airport and meet Malaysians in Qatar, he said.

Malaysia started diplomatic relations with Qatar in 1974 and the bilateral ties were strengthened with the opening of the Malaysian embassy in August 2004 followed by the opening of Qatari embassy in Kuala Lumpur in September 2004.

Ahmad Jazri said there were 5,000 Malaysians in Qatar with most of them working with Qatar Airways, education and petroleum industry.

He said because of the intimate relations, many Malaysians hold high positions in many government sector.

“There are Malaysians in many sectors. We have their confidence and even the chef in the palace is a Malasians,” he said.

SOURCE–BERNAMA

Tourism Malaysia to make strong pitch for New York Times travel show

Posted on : 09-01-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

NEW YORK: Tourism Malaysia is making a strong pitch for the country to be a destination of North American travellers at the New York Times Travel Show from Jan 27-29.

Its vice-president in New York, Ahmad Johanif Mohd Ali said Tourism Malaysia would present Malaysia as an attractive destination, highlighting three major attractions – culture, adventure and nature (CAN).

The show is the most important trade show for the travel and tourism industry in North America.

Unlike other travel shows in the region, which are highly specialised in certain segments of the tourism industry, the show attracts a large turnout of the trade and consumers.

“We will bring Malaysian costumes at the show and encourage visitors to try them out and pose for our Facebook,” Johanif said here yesterday.

Tourism Malaysia will use the colourful costumes worn in Sabah and Sarawak, among others, to catch the attention of tourists.

Johanif is a participant at a panel on travel and tourism, and will speak on Malaysia as a CAN destination.

“We have been sending our mails to invite customers to visit our stand and also our website www.malaysia.travel which provides extensive tourism-related information,” he said.

In the first eight months of 2016, tourist arrivals in Malaysia from the United States declined to 149,696, down 7.9% from 162,544 in the corresponding period of 2015.

Tourism Malaysia in New York believes that the depreciation of the ringgit against the US dollar has created a favourable climate for tourism from the United States because it is making visits cheap as never before.

“Based on the feedback we have received, Americans like Malaysia because of its people who are considered to be very friendly.

“Americans have been saying that Malaysians love smiling. Another plus point is that they find it easy to travel within Malaysia because most of us speak English and the signs on the road are also in English,” he said.

Johanif said Malaysian food was also very popular.

Indeed, McCormick and Company, the US spice company, has listed Malaysian food in its 2016 Flavour Forecast as one of the popular cuisines in the United States.

SOURCE — BERNAMA

Najib to lead Malaysian delegation to 28th, 29th ASEAN Summits (at Laos)

Posted on : 05-09-2016 | By : sabah today | In : International News

VIENTIANE: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will lead the Malaysian delegation to the 28th and 29th Asean Summits from Sept 6 to 8 in Vientiane, Laos. This will be the first Asean Summit held after the establishment of the Asean Community on Dec 31 2015 and after the adoption of the Asean 2025; Forging Ahead Together (Asean Vision 2025), both of which were concluded during Malaysia’s Chairmanship. Malaysia’s Director-General to the Asean Malaysia National Secretariat, Jojie Samuel said given that this marks the inaugural year of Asean Community, Laos’ Chairmanship theme of ‘Turning Vision Into Reality for a Dynamic Asean Community’ is timely and appropriate as Asean strives to turn its aspirations and vision into reality. “In addition to the Asean Summits, the Prime Minister together with other Asean leaders will also attend the Asean Plus Three, East Asia Summit and other Asean + 1 Summit with dialogue partners, which include the United States, China, Japan, India, Australia, South Korea and the United Nations,” he told the this reporter, here today. Samuel said Najib’s programme will kick off tomorrow with the opening ceremony of the 28th and 29th Asean Summits. “During the opening ceremony, the leaders are expected to witness the launch of the ‘Visit Asean@50 campaign logo. The logo will be used in 2017, as part of the visit Asean@50: Golden Celebration campaign,” he said. The visit Asean@50: Golden Celebration campaign will be held to promote the twin objectives of commemorating the 50th anniversary of Asean, and embracing the Asean region as a single and united tourism destination. “The event will be followed by the convening of the 28th Asean Summit or the plenary session. Taking into account that this will be the first Asean Summit after the Summit in Kuala Lumpur, and given the importance of realising Vision 2025, the agenda of the plenary session is mainly to discuss the progress of the implementation of Asean 2025: Forging Ahead Together or also known as Asean Vision 2025, a roadmap for the region’s continuous community building efforts,” he said. Samuel said the leaders are also expected to sign the Asean Declaration on One Asean One Response: Asean Responding to Disasters as One within and outside the region, which aims to enhance Asean’s collective prepardeness in dealing with disasters including coordination of efforts to disaster management; enhance Asean’s coordination among Asean member states in disaster management. “The prime minister’s programme on Sept 7 will begin with the 29th Asean Summit. This session will be conducted in retreat format whereby the leaders will have a closed session and will have frank and constructive discussions on external relations and Asean’s future direction. The Asean leaders will also exchange views on regional and international issues,” he added. On the same day, the Asean + 1 Summit will also begin with the convening of the 19th Asean-China Summit to commemorate the 25th Annivesary of the Asean-China Dialogue Relations. “The leaders are also expected to have constructive discussions on the Asean-China cooperation throughout its 25 years of cooperation and its future direction,” he said. Apart from the Asean-China Summit, the leaders are also expected to convene the following Asean+1 Summit – Asean-Japan Summit, the 18th Asean-South Korea Summit, 2nd Asean-Australia Summit. On Sept 8, the leaders will continue their Asean+1 Summit with the 14th Asean-India Summit followed by the 4th Asean-United States Summit. “During the summit, the leaders will also issue a Joint Leaders Statement on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). A statement will be made to further demonstrate Asean’s commitment in ensuring a swift conclusion of the RCEP negotiations,” he added.

SOURCE–BERNAMA

China opens longest glass-bottomed bridge in world

Posted on : 22-08-2016 | By : sabah today | In : International News

Tourists who suffer from vertigo need not apply. The world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge opened Saturday in China’s spectacular Zhangjiajie mountains — the inspiration for American blockbuster Avatar.

Some 430 metres (1,400 feet) long and suspended 300 metres above the earth, the bridge spans the canyon between two mountain cliffs in Zhangjiajie park in China’s central Hunan province.

Six metres wide and made of some 99 panels of clear glass, the bridge can carry up to 800 people at the same time, an official in Zhangjiajie — a popular tourist destination — told the Xinhua news agency.

Tourists can walk across the bridge, designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan, and the more adventurous will be able to bungee jump or ride a zip line.

“I wanted to feel awe-inspired by this bridge. But I’m not afraid — it seems safe!” Wang Min, who was visiting the new structure with her husband and children, told AFP Saturday.

Following an alarming glass bridge cracking incident at the Yuntai mountain in northern Henan in 2015, authorities in Zhangjiajie were eager to demonstrate the safety of the structure.

They organised a string of media events, including one where people were encouraged to try and smash the bridge’s glass panels with a sledge hammer, and another where they drove a car across it.

“It’s crowded today and a bit of a mess. But to be suspended 300 metres in the air, it’s a unique experience,” said Lin Chenglu, who had come to see the bridge with his colleagues.

Only 8,000 people each day will be allowed to cross the bridge, Xinhua said, and tourists will have to book their tickets a day in advance, at a cost of 138 yuan ($20).

Cameras and selfie sticks are banned, and people wearing stilettos will not be allowed to walk on the bridge, Xinhua said.

Local authorities have said that one of the summits in Zhangjiajie Park inspired the floating mountain which appears in the American blockbuster Avatar.

A Hollywood photographer visited the area in 2008, taking images which were used for the film, according to media reports.

SOURCE– AFP