September 2009 - i'm saimatkong
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Archive for September, 2009

Do you feel dizziness? Quake in Sumatra, tremors in Malaysia

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 3,272 views

Astro Mid Autumn Gathering

I was in Astro Mid Autumn Gathering in a boat @ Mines Wellness Hotel, heard some ppl mention about quake and termors, so I check my Twitter. When I reading my twitter updates, saw a lot ppl mention about termors felt in few places but I only feel the dizziness from the strong wave because i’m in a boat =p Do you feel the termors?

Met MyFM DJsMei Yan 颜薇恩 and Phoebe 菲比 there.

Mei Yan 颜薇恩
Mei Yan 颜薇恩

Phoebe 菲比
Phoebe 菲比

Phoebe 菲比
Phoebe 菲比

After checking TheStar online it’s true. I was thinking if it happens earlier then a lot of ppl can take the chance and go home earlier as need to evacuate the building. Haha right? Lazy pig is like that…

PETALING JAYA: A powerful earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale struck off the city of Padang off the coast of southern Sumatra at about 6.17pm on Wednesday, killing at least 21 people, trapping thousands of others and causing tremors as far away as peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.

The earthquake which damaged houses, brought down bridges and buildings and caused fires in Padang, also caused people to evacuate buildings in various towns and cities in Malaysia.

The epicentre of the quake was about 481km southwest of Kuala Lumpur.

At 6.38pm, a temblor measuring 5.5 in magnitude was also recorded 11km north of Padang.

So far, there has been no report of the 300 Malaysian students at Andalas University in Padang being affected by the massive earthquake.

Malaysian Consul-General Fauzi Omar told The Star that he has contacted the Sumatra Barat tourism chief and was told that there is no report of any Malaysians being hurt.

“Well at least the tourism chief’s handset is still working. I have been told the Minangkabau airport in Padang is closed.

“I am trying to leave for Padang tonight. It is a one-hour flight and by road it will take at least one day because of the bad road condition,” Fauzi said.

The Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta is despatching a team to Padang in Sumatra to assist the Consul-General in Medan in checking on the students.

Padang was hardest hit by the earthquake.

“We are sending a team as soon as possible and our Consul-General in Pekan Baru will also be despatched to help,” said Malaysian embassy charge d’affaires Amran Mohamad Zain.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre first issued a tsunami alert for Malaysia (George Town and Port Dickson specifically), Indonesia, India and Thailand, but cancelled it at about 7.31pm.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department monitored the situation from the outset, but did not issue a tsunami warning because no significant waves were generated.

In the JayaOne complex here, reports came in of shaking furniture and swaying fixtures.

In KUALA LUMPUR, Mariam Anis and her colleagues on their 21st-floor office in Plaza Sentral in Jalan Sultan Ismail felt the tremors.

“The tremors were strong and I could feel the building shaking. My colleagues and I did not waste another second and ran towards the emergency stairways to make our way down from the 21st floor.

“It was rather scary,” she said.

Tremors were also felt in the federal administrative capital of PUTRAJAYA. Mohd Kamel Othman, press secretary to Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, was in his office at the Prime Minister’s Department when he felt the tremors.

“I could literally see the building moving from left to right. Even the flowerpots were shaking. I immediately rallied my colleagues to leave the building.

“My minister also came out of his office as he too could feel the tremors,” he said, adding while he had experienced tremors before, the ones which on Wednesday were stronger.

In GEORGE TOWN, people rushed out of several high-rise buildings in Macallum Street, Tanjung Bungah, Tanjung Tokong, Gurney Drive and the inner city of George Town.

Student C.Y. Khoo, 18, said she decided to walk out from the cinema in Gurney Plaza with her friends after she felt the tremors.

“I feared for my safety. My friends and I decided to get out from the cinema although we like the movie very much,” she said.

A Golden Screen Cinema spokesman said a tremor was felt at about 6.20pm for about 25 seconds.

“Some moviegoers walked out of the cinema but … generally, the situation was not that serious,” he said.

Penang police chief Deputy Comm Wira Ayub Yaakob said policemen were deployed to monitor the situation.

“My men were on the look-out and would have moved in to help if the need arose,” he said.

Marine Operations Force Region I commander Asst Comm Zainul Abidin Hasan said all his men, both at the base and on patrol, were put on standby.

State secretary Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was concerned about the initial tsunami alert.

“The state directed all relevant departments such as the police to be on standby,” he said.

A State Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said they received numerous calls from anxious residents enquiring about the tremors.

However, there were no reports of any injuries or of anybody trapped in lifts or buildings.

In JOHOR BARU, many people rushed out of buildings and the new Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex halted operations abruptly and was evacuated for about 40mins.

This caused massive congestion as thousands of motorists were returning from Singapore after office hours.

Fire and Rescue Department personnel were called in to check the building before operations resumed.

The lanes were later reopened and traffic policemen deployed to control traffic at the complex.

Assistant administrative worker Wong Hook Tuck, 52, who was at his office at level six of Menara Plaza Pelangi, described the tremors as bad.

“The tremors started at around 6.15pm and lasted for about five minutes.

“I felt very dizzy and all my colleagues and I started to evacuate the building as the fire alarm had gone off,” he said.

He said he was in shock and had thought that there was an earthquake in Malaysia.

In Taman Ehsan Jaya, administrative executive Surinder Kaur said she was shocked when the people in her apartment building started running downstairs, saying that there was an earthquake.

“I stay on the second floor and I didn’t feel anything, but my neighbours warned me about the tremors and told me to quickly evacuate,” she said.

She said one of her neighbours was having his dinner at the time and the whole table started to shake, spilling the soup he was eating.

“All of the residents quickly assembled at the ground floor; the tremors lasted for about four minutes,” she said.

In SINGAPORE, residents from Toa Payoh, Woodlands, Bukit Timah, Simei and Kembangan in the eastern part, reported tremors shaking their buildings, The Straits Times reported.

A spokesman from National Environment Agency said it received calls from members of the public from Red Hill, Choa Chu Kang, Changi, Toa Payoh, the city area, Punggol, Sengkang, Sembawang and Pasir Ris.

Kee Ya Ting of Woodlands said she thought her flat was going to collapse.

“I was scared. I live on the 12th floor. I was sitting at my desk when the flat shook and I felt myself swaying from left to right. I thought my flat was going to collapse,” she told the paper.

In PADANG itself, the situation looked dire. Indonesian television reported that hundreds of buildings had collapsed and many people were feared trapped under the rubble.

Footage from Padang showed flattened buildings, with at least one person trapped underneath, a foot sticking out from beneath the debris, The Associated Press reported.

“The earthquake was very strong,” said Kasmiati, who lives on the coast near to the epicenter. “People ran to high ground. Houses and buildings were badly damaged.”

“I was outside, so I am safe, but my children at home were injured,” she said before her cellphone went dead.

The quake triggered a landslide that cut off land transport to the provincial town of Padang Pandang, which lies about 70km north of Padang, said a police officer in the town, who identified himself only as Riko. He said three cars were reportedly hit by the landslide.

Padang, a sprawling low-lying city of around 900,000, was badly hit by an 8.4 magnitude quake in September 2007, when dozens of people died and several large buildings collapsed, AP said.

Power in the city was reportedly cut and telecommunications networks were down or overloaded, making it difficult to get accurate information about the extent of the damage.

“Many buildings are badly damaged, including hotels and mosques,” said Wandono, an official at Meteorology and Geophysic Agency in the capital, Jakarta, citing reports from residents.

He said a steep, sloping riverbank collapsed, houses had toppled and a fire had broken out in buildings on the road to Padang.

Wednesday’s quake comes a day after a quake with a magnitude of between 8.0 and 8.3 in the South Pacific hurled a massive tsunami at the shores of Samoa and American Samoa, flattening villages and leaving at least 99 dead and dozens missing.

The epicenter of Wednesday’s temblor off Indonesia lies several thousand kilometres to the west, on the other side of Australia.

Danger ahead
Geologists have said Padang, which lies near the colliding Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates, is the most likely in the country to fall victim to the next major quake or tsunami, AFP reported.

“There will be aftershocks but it’s difficult to predict whether there will be a bigger quake,” Geological Disaster Mitigation and Volcanology Centre head Surono told AFP.

“There are three big volcanoes in West Sumatra — Merapi, Talang and Tandikat. We fear that this quake might cause volcanic eruptions there,” he said.

Experts have said the city is most at risk from a final segment along the zone shifting to unleash a massive amount of energy.

The zone’s other segments have already cracked, including a large portion off Aceh, at the northern tip of Sumatra, which triggered the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which killed more than 220,000 people.

Plans for evacuation shelters and improved roads to provide better escape routes from tsunami have mostly not been realised.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity.

A quake on the main island of Java earlier this month killed 123 people.

Source : TheStar

Sync your BlackBerry with Google Sync Services

Sunday, September 27th, 2009 2,412 views

Google launched a sync service that will make our life easier that it will be able to sync google services into our mobile phone! Yes, BlackBerry able to sync too.

Synchronize the built-in calendar and address book on your BlackBerry® with your Google account.

* Get your Google Calendar events to your device
* Synchronize your Gmail contacts
* Be alerted for upcoming appointments with sound and vibration using your BlackBerry’s native calendar

1st Step : Browse to and navigate to BlackBerry icon.

Google Sync with BlackBerry

2nd Step : Click on Download Google Sync

Google Sync with BlackBerry

3rd Step : Change your country to Malaysia then enter your number and click send me a link. Or type this URL into your phone’s browser:

Google Sync with BlackBerry

Google Sync with BlackBerry

Then you just follow the on the instruction to get started! That’s simple to sync and get connected to the world. How to get your Xpax BlackBerry? Find out more here.


Saturday, September 26th, 2009 5,386 views

The theme, “No Boundaries, No Limit”, is befitting for Season 3 of “Battleground” Street Dance Competition as for the first time, the competition will be open to everyone aged 15 and above, residing in Malaysia disregard of their nationalities or races. Ultimately, the formation of a universal culture in dance and music is anticipated.

Debuted in 2007, “Battleground” is a street dancing arena specially designed for dancers to compete, from Break Dance, Popping, Locking, New Jack Swing to New School Hip Hop. This year, the competition intensifies as participants from previous seasons are welcomed to make a comeback!

The dance-in audition was held successfully on 6 September 2009 at Sunway Pyramid and the audition saw a turnout of a variety of dancers from mix of past contestants, professional dancers, new faces and combinations of multi-racial teams, clearly reflecting the theme this year of “No Boundaries, No Limit”. The grueling dance audition saw a total of 16 teams qualifying to the preliminary rounds.

The preliminary dance battle will be held in two rounds with date and venue details as below,
Preliminary 1 and 2
Date : 27 September 2009, Sunday
Time : 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Venue : Sunway Pyramid Main Entrance

Preliminary 3 and 4
Date : 29 September 2009, Tuesday
Time : 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Venue : Sunway Pyramid Main Entrance

Members of the public are welcomed to support and cheer on the competing teams during the preliminaries. The 16 teams competing in the preliminaries are; Street WreckerZ, Elecoldxhot, MOVE, Max Identity, Shadow Emotion, La Bella Trio, FOX, D-Black Gang, Katoon Network, Dancologist, M.J.C., FREE, Haru Haru, Famous Strike, Twister XF, Wakaka Fever.

Street WreckerZ features Becky and Shake (also champion dancers of Battleground 2007)
Street WreckerZ features Becky and Shake (also champion dancers of Battleground 2007)

Elecoldxhot features Dennis (one of the champion dancers of Battleground 2007) and ECX (champion of Battleground 2008)
Elecoldxhot features Dennis (one of the champion dancers of Battleground 2007) and ECX (champion of Battleground 2008)

Wakaka Fever led by Popular dancer and reality star Alam
Wakaka Fever led by Popular dancer and reality star Alam

The competition heats up as past winners and prolific professional dancers raised the standards for this season. Dennis (one of the champion dancers of Battleground 2007) and ECX (champion of Battleground 2008) form a dance crew – Elecoldxhot while Becky and Shake (also champion dancers of Battleground 2007) form a group – Street WreckerZ. Popular dancer and reality star Alam, brings in his crew Wakaka Fever to the competition.

Rambo, a well-known choreographer from Taiwan returns as one of the judges – from auditions right up to the finals. Rambo who has previously work with numerous stars well-known for their outstanding choreography such as Wilber Pan, Show Lo, Vanness Wu, Jolin Tsai and Tata Young (to name a few) will also be part of the trainers for the qualified semi-finalists.

Another returning judge is Marcus Tucker, a renowned choreographer from The US. Marcus has previously worked with numerous stars well-known for their outstanding choreography such as Nick Cannon, John Legend, Marques Houston, Nas, and Ciara.

Exclusively produced by Astro Ben Di Quan (Local Belt), this widely-watched dancing competition is mainly sponsored by Gatsby with MY FM being the official radio station. Winners of the competition will stand a chance to win a total of RM50,000 worth of cash prize sponsored by Gatsby.

“Battleground” season 3 premieres on Astro Wah Lai Toi 24 October 2009 at 7 PM every Saturday,

Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival with Astro @ Kuching

Saturday, September 26th, 2009 3,790 views

In celebration of the coming Mid-Autumn Festival, Astro is bringing a variety of fun-filled events to the people in Kuching this weekend, featuring local and international artistes.

Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival with Astro @ Kuching

The event features MediaCorp artistes Jesseca Liu who stars in “Beach. Ball. Babes.” and “The Dream-catchers” (both on Astro AEC), Michelle Chia from Astro Shuang Xing’s “Perfect Cut”, and Professor Wynn HT Pan, a celebrity physician from TVBS Asia’s “All About Health”. Besides, Danny Koo, host of Astro AEC’s “Motosikal Balik Kampung”, together with Hong Geok Jin and Ivan, winners of Classic Golden Melody Singing Competition will be performing to thrill the crowd in this celebrated occasion.

Following the encouraging response received last year, Astro once again organises the Mid-Autumn Festival in Kuching this year as a gesture of gratitude to its regional customers.

Audiences will be able to interact with the artistes at a closer range by participating in stage activities and they stand a chance to walk away with exciting prizes. There are also a variety of games in the lineup open for audience of all ages; Street Magic Show and the Rubix’s Cube Challenge for all, as well as Talent Time and Lantern Decoration Contest for kids.

Schedule of the stage activities are as follows:

26th September (Saturday)
1:00pm – Professor Pan, Danny Koo, Hong Geok Jin and Ivan
6:00pm – Jesseca Liu, Michelle Chia, Danny Koo, Hong Geok Jin and Ivan

27th September (Sunday)
3:00pm – Professor Pan, Jesseca Liu, Michelle Chia, Danny Koo, Hong Geok Jin and Ivan

“Perfect Cut” is currently showing on Astro Shuang Xing (Channel 324) at 4.30pm on weekdays, while Astro AEC (Channel 301) is airing “Beach. Ball. Babes” at 7pm on weekdays, which its time slot will be taken over by “The Dream-catchers” starting 22nd October. “All About Health” airs on TVBS Asia (Channel 317) at 2pm every weekday, whereas “Motosikal Balik Kampung” airs on Astro AEC at 8.30pm every Saturday.

Gary Chaw vs Justin Lo – Fighting in HK streets

Friday, September 25th, 2009 9,384 views

OMG, two of my favorites male singers fighting in Hong Kong… What’s happening? Malaysia Boleh? Fight over $ or girls or career? Don’t fight pls, sing a long! We make friends not enemies. =)

Fists of fury in HK streets

HONG KONG: Award-winning Malaysian singer Gary Chaw and Hong Kong artiste Justin Lo are normally the best of friends. But the two pop stars turned into the worst of enemies during a roadside brawl after drinks at a pub here.

The local paparazzi were rewarded with dramatic photos of Chaw and Lo punching each other and Chaw kicking Lo while the latter was in the back seat of a taxi.

Lo, better known as Zak Tin, was even invited as the guest singer at Chaw’s concert in Malaysia last year.

On Tuesday night, they had gone for a drink at a pub with several friends at Central district.

Gary Chaw vs Justin Lo
When they’re not fighting: Lo (right) appeared as a guest singer at Chaw’s concert in Kuala Lumpur last year.

At about 1am, Chaw left the pub in anger while Lo followed with a “red face”. They then had a heated argument by the roadside.

Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily News reported that Chaw punched Lo until he collapsed on the side of the road.

Lo got up and fought back. After a while, they were pulled apart by their friends.

In a dramatic turn of events, the duo left in a taxi together with two male friends but the vehicle made an emergency stop soon after.

Chaw alighted and was seen jumping on the street and calling out to Lo to step out for a one-on-one fight. The latter refused.

The 30-year-old Malaysian then kicked at Lo who was in the back seat.

After a while, the 33-year-old Lo got off and was seen grimacing in pain, using his hands to cover his groin.

Then Chaw grabbed a road sign and attempted to hit Lo with it, but was stopped by their friends.

Half-an-hour later, both of them left separately accompanied by friends. Chaw behaved as though nothing had happened during an interview with a Hong Kong radio station on Wednesday. He only talked about his concert in November.

At a press conference in Hong Kong last night though, Chaw apologised to Lo for his act.

“I have no excuses, no reasons. I am wrong. I am willing to take whatever responsibility, punishment….

“Justin had never wanted to hurt me with his actions. It is very obvious this is not a fight … it was me who lost control,” he said.

Chaw, who was born in Sabah, was sent to study in Canada when he was only nine. He returned home and participated in an Astro singing contest in 1999 but lost.

Later, he was signed up by a recording company and released his album Xiao Wo Ben (Laugh at my stupidity).

Lo, who is also a song-writer and record producer born in America, was signed up as a singer in 2005.

The same year, his debut album Justin was released and became a hit with 15,000 copies sold on the first day. He held his debut concert at the Hong Kong Coliseum the next year and the tickets were sold out within 10 minutes.

He held his seventh concert in Malaysia on Christmas eve in 2006.

Source : TheStar

Original / Fake Made in China Crocs selling @ Pasar Malam

Friday, September 25th, 2009 13,866 views

Made in China Crocs @ Pasar Malam

Recently I saw a lot of stall at Taman Megah (Sunday), SS2 (Monday) pasar malam selling Crocs shoe, there are at least 3-4 stalls, and yes they are selling like hot cakes, maybe that’s the trend right now?? They looks real and a lot of different model. The most important thing is it’s only RM20-30 bucks per pair. I asked one of the seller “Is it real?”, he said it’s the same one la… same factory!?! Made in China Crocs… hmm. still wondering it’s original Crocs or not. If it’s real then it’s not worth for those ppl who bought those “Real Original Corcs” from malls? It’s about RM150-300 if get at the Crocs shop at all the malls.

Made in China Crocs @ Pasar Malam

I heard that some ppl telling me that Crocs is on bankruptcy and Crocs Malaysia is closing down hence they are selling it at the pasar malam at such “harga runtuh price”. But they are still selling in shops at all the malls…?

I have tried the Made in China Crocs selling at Pasar Malam and feel very comfortable but will it be like the photo shown below? I think of that because I received the photo from forwarded email previously stating that caused by china materiel… hence the leg was infected. hmm should we buy it? I don’t want my leg become like that… Anyone of you bought it from pasar malam??

leg was infected

Xpax BlackBerry Curve 8520 – The new way of keeping yourself up to date.

Thursday, September 24th, 2009 4,656 views

Xpax BlackBerry Curve 8520

With Xpax BlackBerry Curve 8520, it’s getting easier for you to connect to your friend and family thru social networking like Facebook, Friendster or Myspace and even twitter.

With social networking apps pre-installed on your BlackBerry® Curve 8520 smartphone, you can keep everyone updated from almost anywhere and whenever you want to. You’ll experience a truely mobile way of living.

Stay connected to the people who matter most with social networking apps on your BlackBerry Curve 8520 smartphone. So now you do not have excuses saying that I do not have internet connection or internet down and not able to online. Just get a WIFI spot and you are connected!

There are more features to be covered soon. Stay tuned. Pre-register now.

Unhealthiest Blogger Award…

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 2,724 views

After PRUhealth Sharing Session and Spa Massage we (kenny sia, kyspeaks, cheeserland, 5xmom, redmummy, snowxwhite, sixthseal…) went for health check.

Waiting for health check

KY Speaks doing health check

Health Check

Health Check

Health Check

Health Check
This was the metal that we need to hold it all the time during the health check, it’s even scary is the machine will sound like siren.

Health Check

Check on leg too.

Health Check
Arghh… luckily I cut my toe nails yesterday night. =p

Health Check Result
Result was written down on the paper.

Health Check Result

5xMom using view cam to record down on health check process…

Health Check Machine
The machine that do all the work. It will sound like siren when doing the check. It must be range between 50-55 so that it’s normal.

saimatkong on health check
Then my turn to do it.

In the process
In the process of checking…

My health check result.

When the doctor explaining my result, I looked scare because I’m not healthy… oh no.

*drum roll*

Healthiest Blogger Award goes to RedMummy.
Healthiest Blogger Award

Healthiest Blogger Award


The Unhealthiest Blogger Award goes to… *everyone was silent for a moment..* saimatkong!
Unhealthiest Blogger Award

Unhealthiest Blogger Award
So sad. Sumore they gave me a plastic ball, badminton racket and all the other sports equipment to indicate that I need more exercise to live a healthier lifestyle.

Winner vs Loser
Winner vs Loser.

Sport Theme
Another award was the dress code award, which only one came in the dress code, congrats Kenny Sia.

Then before conclude the session, we had a Q&A session.

Wait… we still have a Q&A question, don’t go home 1st!




Thinking how to answer the bloggers’ questions.

Mr Tan trying his best to cover all the questions and giving some tips on insurance and PRUhealth.

Group photo
Group photo of all the bloggers.

Group Photo

Omron - Walking Style
Before we leave, each of us was given a goodies bags and a Omron – Walking Style, to analyze the data regarding our personal physical activity. So far I used it for one week and it’s almost the same except when I go to 1 Utama Shopping. Haha. Shopping is a good exercise too.

Stay healthy dude!

Banyak Shop @ 1Utama Closed for Raya Holiday

Monday, September 21st, 2009 3,476 views

Went to 1Utama shopping and notice a lot of shop closed for the Raya holiday, but Jusco and all the big anchor still business as usual. Even mamak around PJ like Seapark Nasi Lemak Mamak next to Maybank , SS2 Murni, Sedap @ Aman Suria… also closed during the Raya.

Watch Zone
Watch Zone

O'Briens Sandwich
O’Briens Sandwich


Maxis Center

Nike Women
Nike Women

Nike Women

I hereby wish all our Muslim readers : Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri & Maaf Zahir dan Batin and Happy Holidays to all! Where did you all go and do during the festival break? Did you all go for the Open House by our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s or other Minister?

1Malaysia F1 Team – Malaysia's own F1 Team!

Sunday, September 20th, 2009 4,816 views

What’s your view on this 1Malaysia F1 Team to join in 2010 championship? I feel like it’s a waste of money $ instead of promoting Malaysia. Can our own F1 team even finish the race or dropped out halfway? How long can we survive and sustain in this F1? Or can we actually make profit and benefit out of it? Even Alex Yoong, Malaysia very 1st F1 driver, also cannot survive long in F1 and join A1 instead. How many million or billion gonna spend in this F1 team? hmm…

1Malaysia F1 Car

Malaysia’s own F1 team

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will have its own team in Formula One next year.

A Lotus-powered racing team, to be called the 1Malaysia F1 team, will take on giants like Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes and Renault in the premier motorsports event next year.

The team will join Force India-Mercedes as Asia’s representatives in F1, along with old-timers like Toyota.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has accepted Malaysia’s bid to enter the 2010 and future Formula One World Championships, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced yesterday.

1Malaysia F1 Team - Malaysia's own F1 Team!
F1 foray: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak receiving a model of the Malaysian F1 car at the Finance Ministry in Putrajaya.

The 1Malaysia F1 team will be a partnership between the Govern-ment and the private sector, including investors led by Datuk Kamarudin Meranun (AirAsia Deputy CEO), Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes (AirAsia CEO) and SM Nasaruddin SM Nasimuddin (Naza Group CEO).

The Malaysian-owned team will also mark the return of Proton-owned Lotus, the prestigious constructors who left F1 in 1994.

Najib, who made the announcement at the Ministry of Finance yesterday, said the team would be based at the Sepang International Circuit, making it the first to be located outside Europe.

“This is where the cars will be designed, manufactured and tested. It will be ‘Made-in-Malaysia, by Malaysians’ and of course, the pit-stops will be run by Malay-sians,” he said.

“This is a meaningful development and I hope that it will further raise our country’s profile on the world stage.”

The team will have a Malaysian technical and pit crew, totalling some 200 people, to be managed by former Renault technical director Mike Gascoyne.

Najib added that the team hoped to announce its two drivers by Oct 31.

“Currently, six local and international drivers have been shortlisted for evaluation,” he said.

“Our F1 team will also have technical experts from outside Malaysia to ensure that we are ready to compete on the world’s most prestigious racing stage.”

Malaysia hosted its first F1 race in 1999 at the Sepang F1 Circuit and Alex Yoong was the first Malaysian to race in the championships in 2001 and 2002 for Minardi.

The Prime Minister had earlier launched the exchange programme between employees from the government and government-linked companies (GLCs) as part of the Government-GLCs Cross-Fertilisation Programme.

He handed letters-of-trust to 47 government and GLC staff taking part in the programme.

Source : TheStar

F1 entry – good timing or big risk?

EYEBROWS were raised when news broke that Malaysia is participating in the Formula One (F1) race next year via the Lotus F1 team.

The team is a collaboration between the Government and a group of entrepreneurs linked to AirAsia Bhd and the Naza Group, with Proton Holdings Bhd’s British subsidiary, Lotus as the constructor.

Sceptics are many, especially since big names in the auto world such as Honda and BMW have withdrawn their participation from the sport due to the global economic crisis.

BMW Sauber Formula One crew pushing Nick Heidfeld’s
BMW Sauber Formula One crew pushing Nick Heidfeld’s race car past stacks of tyres at the Sepang International Circuit during the F1 race in April.

As the United States and countries across Europe and Asia are still trying to revive their economies, why would Malaysia choose this time to join one of the world’s most expensive sports? More importantly, who is forking out the money?

Let’s talk money

F1 is well known for its huge spending. The reported 2008 team budgets ranged from US$45mil to US$445mil (RM158mil to RM1.6bil) for sponsorship, supplier deals, prize money, team owner contributions, tyre provision and supply of customer engines.

In May, the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA), the ruling body of F1, decided to cap the budget for 2010 to £40mil (about RM228mil) in a bid to prevent more teams from dropping out and to encourage the entry of new contenders.

Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, the AirAsia Bhd boss and one of the investors in 1Malaysia F1 Team Sdn Bhd, which owns the Lotus F1 team, told CNN in a recent interview that the budget cap, coupled with the huge F1 following, made it “a good time to join F1”.

His co-investor, as well as partner in AirAsia, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun concurs, calling the venture “a commercially viable one”.

While Lotus F1’s budget remains sketchy for now, Kamarudin reveals that an initial investment of £10mil (RM57mil) has been made to start the construction of the vehicle. “We’re starting mid-way. So we need to be quick to get the approvals for the car,” he says.

While FIA’s capped budget covers team expenditure, it does not include marketing and hospitality, remuneration for test or race drivers, fines or penalties imposed by the FIA, and engine costs, which may come up to few hundred million ringgit more.

It also does not include the setting up of the new headquarters at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC), for which 8,000ha to 12,000ha of land have been allocated.

An SIC official says the two- to three-year development cost for the state-of-the-art facilities for the new HQ could reach millions, or perhaps billions, of ringgit.

The funding of F1 teams is usually supported by sponsorship. Companies form tie-ups with the teams in various capacities for brand-building purposes.

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, for example, took up a substantial sponsorship deal for Brawn GP in March this year (Virgin’s involvement, however, ends in November).

Fernandes is not new to such arrangements since his low-fare carrier has a three-year partnership with the AT&T Williams team as its official airline since 2007.

The Lotus F1 team, one suspects, will follow the same marketing trend of searching for potential corporate sponsors. Since its entry is supported by the Government as an opportunity to profile the 1Malaysia theme, government-linked companies are likely to be roped in.

F1 a nationalism symbol?

Talking about country profile, motor racing started out as a country-based competition and eventually evolved into a commercial sport involving independent teams and car manufacturers.

The existing F1 teams do not have specific country identity, with the exception of Force India, which used to be Spyker F1 team before it was sold to a private consortium comprising Indian millionaire Vijay Mallya and successful European e-businessman Michiel Mol in late 2007 for 88 million euros.

Force India’s main sponsor is Kingfisher, the flagship brand of Vijay’s beer and aviation businesses. His conglomerate, the UB Group, has annual sales of over US$4bil and a market capitalisation of US$12bil. Forbes puts Vijay’s net worth at US$1.2bil, one of the richest in India.

The team uses an Indian flag in its logo but the drivers are non-Indians – Adrian Sutil is from Germany and newly promoted driver, Vitantonio Liuzzi, is Italian. The team is solely driven by its private-entity owners and does not involve any Indian government initiative.

Similarly, India’s hosting of the F1 Grand Prix in 2011 is also an initiative driven by individuals. The project owner, JPSK Sports Private Ltd, owned by the Jaypee construction conglomerate, is funding the circuit construction costs.

The Malaysian entry, in contrast, has the Government’s backing, although the idea of Lotus F1 was mooted by both Fernandes and Kamarudin.

“There’s an opportunity to participate (due to the spot vacated by BMW Sauber) and so we went ahead to conceptualise the idea of our own team, roped in SM Nasaruddin SM Nasimuddin (executive chairman and chief executive officer of Naza Group) and Proton, and approached the Prime Minister for his blessing,” explains Kamarudin.

“The concept of 1Malaysia is not limited to people. My view is that it should be extended, to encompass the partnership of the private sector and the Government.”

Separately, Fernandes says the entry is “great for Malaysia” as it will further utilise its “hardware” at SIC while developing “the soft side – drivers, engineers, management”.

But what about risks?

As with any investment, there will be financial risks. In this case, the millions of ringgit that will be spent to set up the F1 team is at stake. Some argue that the huge investments are well worth the money because of the brand recognition gained internationally.

National oil company Petronas claims its annual cost of sponsoring F1 is less than 5% of what it would cost to gain similar exposure. Last year, its exposure via F1 was valued at about RM1bil.

But Petronas’ involvement is different as it does not run an F1 team. It supports BMW Sauber as its lubricant sponsor, and rightly so, since it’s in the oil business.

(It is uncertain if the national oil company’s sponsorship of BMW Sauber will continue since BMW has withdrawn from the team and Sauber does not have a firm entry for next year’s race.)

Aside from financials, there could also be the intangible risks. A poor performance may bring more detrimental publicity than the desired high profile.

Note that Malaysia’s first F1 driver, Alex Yoong, drove for the Australian-owned Minardi F1 team back in 2001 and 2002. Yoong only managed to finish five races out of the 11 in 2002, because of setbacks like engine, hydraulics and gear box problems.

Lotus technical director Mike Gascoyne is, nevertheless, confident of Lotus’ future performance. He told the British press recently that Lotus F1 was “a very substantial team.”

Gascoyne has over 20 years’ experience in the sport, having worked with Force India, Toyota, Renault and Jordan Formula One teams.

Still, it remains to be seen how Malaysians would feel, watching with millions of viewers worldwide, when Malaysia’s team finishes weakly, or perhaps not even completing races.

Lotus no newcomer to F1

The association of Lotus and F1 is not foreign. In fact, Lotus was a well-known participant in the glamorous sport in the 1960s. Between 1958 and 1994, the original Lotus team achieved 73 grand prix wins, 102 pole positions, six drivers’ world titles and seven constructors’ crowns from 489 starts, with illustrious names of the calibre of Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Sir Stirling Moss, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jochen Rindt, Mario Andretti, Ronnie Peterson, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet and Mika Hakkinen in its roll call of drivers.

Its success track record is mainly linked to founder Colin Chapman, who remained passionate about the sport until his death in 1982. Lotus’ last F1 race was in 1994.

The Lotus company, meanwhile, had been struggling with financial difficulties and had different shareholders trying to revive its finances. Proton has been the major shareholder since 1996, but it has long been rumoured that it wants to divest its stake.

OSK Investment Bank, however, said Proton had no urgency to sell Lotus Cars as the subsidiary had returned to profitability since 2008 with net earnings of £1.5mil.

While the Government’s involvement in the Lotus F1 team is via Proton, analysts do not expect the national car company to offer financial support. Proton’s role in the F1 venture will mainly be as the coordinator for Lotus, says an analyst in a recent report.

Source : TheStar

One Malaysia F1 team

1Malaysia F1 Team - Malaysia's own F1 Team!

After Honda and BMW have quit Formula One, and when the country is facing an economic recession, the government makes an announcement of forming the “One Malaysia F1 team”. It shows the spirit of “Malaysia Boleh” but from the commercial point of view, could such a huge investment bring the country any remuneration?

There are pros and cons to own a F1 team. The pros include enhancing the popularity of the country, Proton, Air Asia, Sepang International Circuit (SIC) and other sponsors, particularly Proton, in the international arena.

In fact, Lotus used to own a remarkable F1 team. It had won the annual championship for seven times since its first entry into the F1 race in 1958. By entering the race, Proton may master the latest technology and overcome the weaknesses of the engine, so as to open up more oversea markets.
“Is it a wise decision to join as even some famous automobile companies are unable to sustain?”

Once Proton gains a good reputation, it can sell a large number of licensed products. At the same time, the Malaysian team’s entry can stimulate F1 ticket sales, reversing SIC’s gloomy operation. Also, the team may share the total prize of US$500 million, as well as the TV rights revenue.

However, the formation of a team costs a lot. First of all, the new team must pay the The International Automobile Federation, commonly known as FIA, an entry bond of US$48 million. Also, Malaysia has to raise funds to build a production, design and technology development centre near the SIC.

Although Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak did not disclose the cost of setting up the team, it is estimated to cost at least US$100 million, including the salaries and business entertainment expenses of the drivers and the captain. For example, after Honda took over the whole racing team in 2006, it had to allocate up to US$500 million for its annual budged.

We are worrying about the Malaysian team’s ranking as the higher the points a team can accumulate, the higher the prize they get. If the Malaysian team is ranked at the bottom, it does not only have failed to gain popularity, but it may harm the brand. With Honda’s technology, it had been suffering a bleak record for eight years and in 2007, the team was ranked number nine with only 14 accumulated points. Meanwhile, BMW decided to quit F1 because of its poor performance this year.

F1 is a “money-burning” sport. Even it does bring certain economic benefits, its return has been reduced under the shadow of the global financial turmoil and the automobile industry downturn. Is it a wise decision to join as even some famous automobile companies are unable to sustain?

Compared to other racing teams, the Malaysian team possesses the advantage of the government’s support. But under the circumstances of deteriorating national budget deficit, would it be a wise investment?

What benefit has the country actually gained after spending US$130 million to build the circuit, hosting F1 races since 1999 and allowing Petronas to sponsor the BMW team for four years? It is better to show the people a clear account. The government should learn a lesson from previous failed investments in order to become a pragmatic investor. (By LIM SUE GOAN/Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/Sin Chew Daily)

Source : SinChew

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