Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ambition to lead the ASEAN automotive market


THERE is huge potential for the automotive market in Indonesia, with quite a number of people predicting that one day Indonesia will be the market leader in ASEAN. According to ASEAN Automotive Federation data, Indonesia held third place in 2009 with 483,550 vehicles sold, while Thailand was first (548,871) and Malaysia second (536,905).

However, local data is slightly above the ASEAN figure as total sales from dealers to customers or vehicle registration applications were 488,912 units for 2009, including trucks and buses.

The 2009 sales figure was down 17.9 percent from 2008, when 596,166 units were sold, although 2009's sales were higher than the figure predicted by dealers, who said there would be a 30 percent decline. Although the sales figure for this year is very much unpredictable, Toyota Astra Motor (TAM) president director Jhonny Darmawan recently said that this year there would be a 20 percent increase from last year, totaling 550,000 units.

Association of Indonesian Automotive Industries (Gaikindo) records state that Toyota enjoys the largest market share with 38.9 percent. However, total units sold by Toyota, the world's largest car manufacturer, dropped 8.9 percent from 209,130 units to 190,471 units.

Ranking second in 2009 is Daihatsu, which took over the position of Mitsubishi. Daihatsu sales were slightly down by 2.9 percent, from 77,463 units to 75,169 units. Third place is held by Mitsubishi with 64,334 units, down 23.8 percent. Some brands, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW from Germany as well as Malaysia's Proton, enjoyed increased sales in 2009.

Based on such impressive data, will Indonesia manage to become the market leader in ASEAN in two years? For car manufacturers in Indonesia, this is not a heavy challenge as Indonesia has a huge population while car sales are less than 1 percent of the total population. To reach the target they will have to find new segments, or so says Transportation and Telematics director general Budi Darmadi.

Budi also said that Indonesian manufacturers would produce a low-cost green car. The government, namely the Transportation Ministry, is taking the necessary steps together with carmakers toward realizing this ambition. "I am not too sure if we will be able to produce low-cost green cars next year, but in 2012 it is certain. According to my estimate, a low-cost green car can be marketed in 2012. This will boost domestic sales," he explained, as quoted by Kompas daily.

Budi said the domestic sales potential for low-cost green cars was between 300,000 and 600,000 units, which would indeed increase car sales in Indonesia. Despite Indonesia ranking third in 2009 according to the ASEAN Automotive Federation, population-wise it is a bigger country than those in first and second place, he said.

"The government is working on the program to produce a low-cost green car, which will be offered to domestic car manufacturers. The selling price of the car, which will have a cylinder capacity of 1,000 to 1,300 cc, will be Rp 70 million to Rp 80 million per unit," he said.

Increased car sales figures in January 2010 have indeed boosted local carmakers' optimism. PT Honda Prospect Motor (HPM) marketing and after sales director Jonfis Fandy, for example, is optimistic about automotive sales here and said there was a possibility of high sales just like in 2008, when 603,744 units were sold. "Sales could even reach 630,000 units this year if sales are consistent, that is, at a level of 50,000 units per month. We could possibly set a new record as long as there are no major problems, like taxation issues, for instance," he said.

Gaikindo secretary-general Freddy Sutrisno also said that there had been an upward trend since early this year. He feels optimistic that car sales will increase by about 20 percent from last year, because the economy has improved. "During the economic crisis in 2009, car sales dropped by about 20 percent or 480 units per month," he commented.

This year, with the economy improving and with the introduction of new brands and new variants or models, many carmakers are optimistic about reaching their sales targets. However, Gaikindo has set a conservative target, between 550,000 and 600,000 units. Indeed, if external and unexpected factors are not managed properly, the ambition can remain just an ambition without realization. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, April 29, 2010

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/04/29/ambition-lead-asean-automotive-market.html

Monday, April 26, 2010

Age (is) just the Number



KAPAN seorang clubber harus pensiun? Tidak ada aturan yang baku tentu, seperti pegawai negeri, misalnya. Tapi yang jelas, usia tidak pernah bohong, semakin tua usia kita makin sulit menikmati musik-musik ala klub – sebutlah house, yang kemudian berevolusi menjadi trance, hardcore, jungle, progressive, dan seterusnya.


Maklum, musik yang mulai dikenal sejak awal 1980-an yang bermuasal dari “kiblat hiburan” – sebutlah klub-klub di Ibiza, Italia, dan London, yang kemudian mewabah ke seluruh dunia itu, mempunyai ketukan yang cepat, bahkan lebih cepat dari denyut jantung kita. Itu sebabnya, orang-orang yang sudah mulai uzur agak susah mengikutinya. Untuk menyamakan ritme musik tersebut, ada yang mendorongnya pakai, amit-amit, drugs.

Tapi tentu ada perkecualian, bagi partygoers sejati, datang ke klub-klub adalah wajib hukumnya. Mungkin musiknya disesuaikan dengan eranya ketika mereka masih muda. Misalnya Classic Disco, atau party dengan tematik “Zona 80”, misalnya.

Saya punya teman perempuan, yang meski usianya sudah melewati kepala empat, tetap saja clubbing. Paling tidak, sebulan sekali, pengusaha di bidang IT tersebut, selalu menghabiskan malamnya di sebuah klub. “Boleh dong sekali-sekali saya menikmati kesenanngan bersama teman-teman, sekadar melepaskan stres,” katanya.

“Apalagi, sehari-hari saya sudah mengerjakan tugas kerumahtanggaan dengan baik. Suami tercukupi kebutuhannya, urusan anak-anak juga beres. Boleh dong saya menikmati hasil keringat saya sendiri dengan menghibur diri,” lanjut ibu dua orang anak itu. 

Perkecualian juga datang dari para pekerja yang memang berhubungan dengan dunia hiburan. Entah itu pemilik, pengelola, artis, atau bahkan pewarta, dan fotografer yang mengabadikan peristiwa tersebut. Dengan kata lain, profesilah yang membuat seseorang berhubungan dengan dunia hiburan dan dunia malam!

Dua orang teman saya bisa menjacontoh. Yang satu, sebutlah Ipiek, dikenal sebagai wartawan “tiga zaman”, sebab dari dulu selalu menulis dunia hiburan (dan musik), yang membedakan adalah nara sumbernya. Mulai dari zaman Koes Plus hingga D’Massive. Mulai dari Broery Pesulima hingga Vidi Aldiano. Yang satu lagi, sebutlah Rasyid, mewartakan dunia malam sejak zaman Ebony hingga Immigrant. Profesilah yang mengharuskannya ke luar malam setiap Jumat dan Sabtu. Ya, mereka adalah senior yang selalu update dengan dunia yang digelutinya. Tua-tua tapi keladi, kagak ade matinye!

Lalu saya teringat teman yang lain, Frans Sartono, wartawan musik senior, yang menulis be bop yang “jadul” hingga hip hop yang masa kini. Dia juga menulis seorang pendiri Prambors, Malik Syafei Saleh, yang kini berusia 56 tahun. Bayangkan usianya tergolong “pensiun”, tapi masih mampu mengelola radionya “kawula muda” alias ABG. 

”Age (is) just the number. Young is forever”. Begitulah tulisan itu terbaca di pintu masuk ruang siar Radio Prambors di lantai 20, gedung Ratu Plaza, Jakarta, yang tahun ini memasuki usia 39 tahun.

Terus terang, saya terkesan dengan tulisan tersebut, yang menurut anak gaul sekarang “gue banget”. Lalu, saya posting di Facebook. Komentar teman-teman sangat beragam, ada memberi jempol, ada yang bilang “I like this a lot!”, tapi ada juga yang berkomentar sadis, “Ini status ngeles, mencari pembenaran...” atau “tanda-tanda menolak ketuaan.” Apa boleh buat!

Jadi, pada saat usia berapa orang harus pensiun? Masing-masing perusahaan memiliki ketentuan yang berbeda. Tapi di dunia entrepreneur, umur tidak menjadi patokan utama, nyatanya Malik Syafei Saleh, salah seorang pendiri Prambors yang saya ceritakan di atas, yang telah menginjak usia 56, masih saja aktif. Martha Tilaar mengawali usaha kosmetiknya pada usia 46 tahun. Kalau mengambil contoh global, Ray Kroc ketika memutuskan mengembangkan McDonald usianya sudah 52 tahun. 

Artinya, tidak ada kata terlambat untuk memulai sesuatu. Pada usia berapa pun kita bisa melakukan apa saja, kalau memang pilihan hidup kita mengharuskan begitu. (Burhan Abe)

AJ Magazine, April 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Medical tourism gaining popularity


A tour is all about pleasure. Even when one is not in the best of health a tour can be helpful, especially since domestic medical services are not on a par with those offered abroad. Indeed, the medical tour has become another important element in traveling.

People from highly developed countries also go on medical tours to countries less developed that their own. This is because such countries now have the sophisticated and high quality hospitals and medical equipment. Moreover, the services provided in some Asian countries cost less than in countries like America.

Due to the high quality of services that are less costly, numerous patients travel to Asia to be treated in countries such as Thailand, Singapore, India and Malaysia.

According to the Deloitte Centre, some six million American citizens will visit such countries for medical purposes this year, while the figure for 2017 is forecasted to reach 15,750,000. The current revenue of US$16 billion is expected to increase 325 percent to $68 billion within the next two years.

Malaysia, for instance, is one of the Asian countries to enjoy foreign exchange income from medical tours. According to The Star newspaper, this sector has certainly boosted the country's economy.

Malaysian Tourism Ministry data show that while in 2001 only 75,210 foreign patients visited Malaysia, the figure rose almost four times to 296,687 in 2006 with an income of 60.31 million ringgit (Rp 195 billion). The Malaysian Hospital Association predicts that this sector will contribute Rp 1.78 trillion in 2010 from 625,000 foreign patients.

According to Frost & Sullivan Indonesia country director Eugene van de Weerd, medical tourism has made a significant contribution to the economies of the aforementioned countries and has become a vital component in the planning and development of medical services there. "The market value of medical tourism in India, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia reached no less than $3 billion in the years 2007 and 2008, while the estimate for 2012 is $4.4 billion," he said.

In view of this promising potential, one should not be surprised at the all-out efforts by Singapore in managing its medical tourism. Many countries acknowledge that Singapore's medical facilities are the best in Southeast Asia.

To enhance the country's medical expertise, both the government of Singapore and private hospitals as well as leading medical centers in the country jointly seek breakthroughs. The medical centers are as follows: John Hopkins University Hospital, Pennsylvania University Medical Center, Stanford University Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Kaiser Permanente.

Why Singapore? Most countries respect the medical services provided by hospitals in this country. Both private and government hospitals there are equipped with the latest medical equipment and most have become a benchmark for hospitals in the ASEAN region.

Singapore is set to maintain its top position for medical care in the region, especially for patients from ASEAN member countries. Therefore, numerous patients from Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and India go to Singapore for quality medical care should it not be available in their home countries.

Singapore also has plenty of highly competent medical staff, professional doctors, nurses and so forth with the newest diagnostic and healthcare facilities. The cost is lower, or at least the same as in one's home country, but with more professional service.

What is unique is that patients are treated more like tourists. A patient can make a reservation via the hospital international medical service center from his or her home country and have free a consultation about his or her sickness or health complaint so that he or she can book the appropriate clinic. An estimate of cost is also provided before departure.

There is not much difference between the facilities at Singapore government hospitals and private hospitals. They are extremely clean and the design is modern and minimalist. Stores selling garments, toys and cosmetics as well a cafeteria are usually located on the ground floor.

The government hospitals are divided into two network groups: Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) and National Healthcare Group (NHG). Singapore General Hospital, KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Changi General Hospital and National Cancer Centre Singapore are under the SingHealth network, while National University Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Alexandra Hospital are under the NHG network.

The capability of medical teams and the high quality of equipment are also equal. Johns Hopkins Singapore International Medical Center (JHSIMC), for example, as the first Johns Hopkins hospital established outside the US, is dedicated to maintaining Johns Hopkins tradition in its superior research, education and medical and healthcare.

The medical team of JHSIMC jointly works to fulfill the patients' physical and psychological requirements and provides the highest standard of oncology service for both locals as well as international patients. Established in 2000 as a sophisticated oncology center at National University of Singapore, JHSIMC is now located in one of the buildings of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital. It has 12 beds for chemotherapy and can accept 30 inpatients for medical care.

JHSIMC also provides consultation and chemotherapy for outpatients as well as consultation for internal diseases and other specialized medical services. It also handles various types of cancers, including breast, ovarian, uterine, lung, throat, intestinal and renal cancer and lymphoma. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, April 18, 2010

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/04/18/medical-tourism-gaining-popularity.html

B’Day Party


DULU kita susah mengingat-ingat hari ulang tahun seseorang, teman atau kerabat kita. Tapi kini melalui Facebook setiap hari kita selalu diberi tahu siapa saja yang ulang tahun hari ini, bahkan besok atau dua hari ke depan – asal mereka menjadi “teman” kita dan memberi data kelahirannya.

Internet menjadikan hidup menjadi mudah. Revolusi teknologi informasi itu pula mengubah keseharian kita saat ini. Bangun tidur di pagi hari, kita langsung menyambar BlackBerry (bukan kotan pagi seperti dulu), melihat 140 karakter yang bertebaran di dunia Twitter, menulis kata-kata atau menjawab pertanyaan di jejaring informasi tersebut. Setelah itu aktivitas beralih ke Facebook yang memungkinkan orang-orang bergabung di dalamnya, berkomunikasi, termasuk mendapatkan info-info terkini – termasuk informasi ulang tahun teman-teman kita.

Dampaknya, kita makin sering diundang makan, atau bahkan party. Sebab, selain kita mengucapkan selamat ulang tahun, tak lupa, menagih traktiran. Ulang tahun adalah hari kelahiran seseorang, menandai hari dimulainya kehidupan di dunia. Dalam kebudayaan Indonesia, dan tentu banyak negara yang lain, peringatan ulang tahun ditandai dengan pesta, mengundang makan keluarga dan teman-teman, sebagai rasa syukur kepada Tuhan karena diberi panjang umur.

Memang, pesta hanya salah satu cara berterima kasih kepada Yang Memberi Hidup. Meski sebagian yang lain suka memperingati ulang tahunnya dengan menyepi dan merenungi hidup – bahwa umur sebenarnya bukan bertambah tapi justru berkurang.

Tapi yang dilakukan oleh mungkin kebanyakan orang, merayakan ulang tahun, dengan pesta, tentu tidak salah. Berusia panjang adalah prestasi, karena kita berhasil menjaga badan kita tetap survive di dunia, meski kematian adalah takdir Yang Maha Kuasa. Merayakan, dan membagi keriaan, kategorinya adalah amal. Lho?

Intinya sih, kalau dasarnya memang partygoer, mendapat undangan pesta selalu menyenangkan. Itu pula yan terjadi beberapa waktu yang lalu, ketika sebuah undangan masuk ke inbox Facebook saya. Pengirimnya adalah Martha Lory Fransisca, manajer PR Plaza Hotel Group. Ya, sebuah pesta perayaan ulang tahun akan digelar di tepi kolam renang Apartemen Golf Pondok Indah, Jakarta. Martha’s B’Day Pasta & Grill! Dress code-nya white T-shirt & short slipper. Bikini are most welcome!

Pesta yang seru pastinya, apalagi lokasinya di tepi kolam renang. Udara terbuka, busana kasual, pasta, bir, dan wine. Wow!

Sudah sangat jarang saya menghadiri pesta ulang tahun, dan acara yang diadakan Martha awal April lalu menjadi semacam jeda yang mengasyikkan di tengah-tengah kesibukan sebagai warga kota Jakarta. Mungkin itu pula yag dirasakan para undangan yang lain, termasuk para anggota HAM (Himpunan Anak Media) – journalist network yang sore itu diwakili Hadi Suwarno, Shalfi Andri, Trisnia Anchali, Stallone Tjia, Gita Narasati, dan Hendro Situmorang.

Byuurrr!!! Pesta ulang tahun itu diakhiri dengan penceburan yang empunya hajat ke kolam renang. Lumayan, cukuplah untuk mendinginkan tubuh dari udara panas Jakarta. Happy b’day! (Burhanuddin Abe)

http://perempuan.com/new/index.php?comp=myday&do=index&id=12

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Une Goutte de Lavaux



WINE adalah salah satu minuman paling populer di dunia, bahkan sejarahnya sudah dimulai sejal 5.000 tahun yang lalu. Minuman beralkohol ini terbuat dari sari anggur jenis Vitis vinifera yang biasanya hanya tumbuh di area 30 hingga 50 derajat lintang utara dan selatan. Ada pun negara-negara yang membuat anggur terbanyak (menggunakan data tahun 2000) adalah Prancis, Italia, Spanyol, Amerika Serikat, Argentina, Jerman, Australia, Afrika Selatan, Portugal, dan Chili.

Swiss memang tidak termasuk “the big ten” di dunia. Tapi negara yang dibatasi oleh Jerman, Perancis, Italia, Austria dan Lienchtenstein ini, termasuk penghasil wine terbaik di dunia. Itu sebabnya, saya tidak menyia-nyiakan kesempatan ketika ada undangan wine tasting di Marché Restaurant, Plaza Senayan, Jakarta, 25 Maret lalu.

”Une goutte de Lavaux“ (tasting Lavaux) diselenggarakan dalam rangka Semaine de la Francophonie (Pekan Bahasa Prancis) yang dirayakan di berbagai negara setiap akhir Maret. Sebagai negara yang aktif di Organisasi Francophonie, Swiss melalui Kedutaan Besarnya di Indonesia turut serta merayakannya di Jakarta dengan memperkenalkan Lavaux sebagai daerah penghasil minuman anggur berkualitas dari Swiss.

Lavaux mempunyai penduduk yang mayoritas berbahasa Prancis. Daerah ini dikenal dengan perkebunan anggur berbentuk terasering yang sudah dirintis oleh para biarawan setempat sejak abad ke-11. Perkebunan anggur dan produksi minumannya ini telah menjadi tradisi turun-temurun dan menjadi bagian dari kebudayaan setempat. Tradisi yang telah berlangsung lama dan terjaga dengan baik hingga kini, menjadikan Lavaux sebagai salah satu World Heritage (Warisan Dunia) yang diakui UNESCO sejak 2007.

Selain icip-icip winedari Lavaux, Presiden dari Lavaux Foundation, Bernard Bovy malam itu memberikan presentasi

mengenai Lavaux dan pengetahuan dasar produk wine beserta cara mengonsumsinya. Ya, ritualnya tidak berbeda dengan kalau kita menikmati wine pada umumnya. Tapi kali ini kita seakan-akan dibawa ke kebudayaan Swiss lebih mendalam.

Swiss adalah negara kecil yang cantik, luasnya tak lebih dari 41,285 kilometer persegi. Dari luas wilayah negara tersebut, sekitar 64,5% merupakan wilayah produktif, yakni 22,87% adalah lahan pertanian, 1,7% merupakan areal kebun anggur dan kebun buah-¬buahan lainnya, 13,6% adalah daerah padang rumput, dan sekitar 26,24% merupakan daerah hutan.

Negeri produsen jam tangan ini mempunyai iklam yang sedang-sedang saja, tapi bisa amat berbeda di antara beberapa tempat, dari kondisi amat dingin di atas puncak gunung hingga iklim Mediterania yang sejuk dan menyenangkan di daerah Selatan Swiss. Musim panas cenderung hangat dan kadangkala lembab dengan hujan yang sekali-kali turun sehingga menjadi amat ideal bagi padang rumput. Musim dingin di pegunungan diwarnai dengan matahari dan salju, sementara di tanah yang lebih rendah cenderung lebih berawan dan berkabut pada musim dingin.

Ada pun Lavaux mempunyai sejarah yang cukup panjang dalam soal wine. Perkebunan anggur (vineyard) Lavaux di Swiss adalah dataran yang indah, tanahnya sepanjang 30 km utara selatan menghadap tepi danau Jenewa dari Chateau de Chillon ke pinggiran timur Lausanne di wilayah Vaud, menutupi lereng-lereng rendah pegunungan antara desa dan danau.

Meskipun ada beberapa bukti bahwa tanaman merambat yang tumbuh di daerah tersebut pada zaman Romawi, Lavaux Vineyard sekarang dapat ditelusuri kembali ke abad ke-11,. Ini adalah sebuah contoh luar biasa dari interaksi selama berabad-abad antara masyarakat dan lingkungan, dikembangkan untuk mengoptimalkan sumber daya lokal, sehingga dapat menghasilkan anggur yang sangat berharga yang selalu penting bagi perekonomian.

Dengan latar belakang itulah bisa terbayang wine apa yang dihasilkan Lavaux, yang malam itu kami cicipi. Cheers! (Burhanuddin Abe)

AJ Magazine, April 2010

Chinese calligraphy imparts wisdom


THERE is no reason for the Republic of Indonesia to consider China an “enemy”. Although there is a distinct difference in the mainstream culture of the two countries, it does not mean that both countries should avoid getting to know each other better.

Furthermore, there is a similarity in the history of both countries, one of which is the Islamic influence, although in Indonesia Muslims make up the majority of the population while in China they are a minority.

What is interesting is that Islam, which made its entry in China in the seventh century, has left its mark on Chinese civilization, which in later years shared similarities with Indonesian culture. Anthony Garnaut, an expert on the relationship between China and Islamic culture, wrote about the Islamic contribution to the country in The Islamic Heritage in China: A General Survey. In China, Islam influenced technology, sciences, philosophy and the arts, he wrote.

According to Garnaut, one of the most visible Islam influences in China is in its architecture as can be seen in ornaments and calligraphy. Historical records reveal that the first mosque was built in the seventh century during the Tang dynasty (618-907).

The unique thing about this mosque is that it is of traditional Chinese architecture. The Chinese are also familiar with Islamic calligraphy, which in China is referred to as sini. Most sini can be found in mosques in the eastern part of China, while a leading sini creator is Hajji Noor Deen Mi Guangjiang.

In Indonesia, there is also a mosque that was built using Chinese architecture, namely the Mohammad Cheng Hoo mosque in Surabaya. Cheng Hoo was a Chinese Muslim who is often referred to as the Columbus of China because he led China’s Treasure Fleet on six expeditions across the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. While in almost all Indonesian mosques the calligraphy is Arabic, the Cheng Hoo mosque has much Chinese calligraphy.

There are also three plaques with Chinese calligraphy at Lautze mosque in Central Jakarta, which was given by an imam from the Beijing Islamic Council. Chinese calligraphy is one of the oldest calligraphies in human civilization and the wisdom and philosophy of renowned philosophers such as Lao Tze and Confucius can still be seen in calligraphic inscriptions.

People here began to learn more about Chinese calligraphy during the country’s reform era. One can usually find such calligraphy, with philosophical content, on plaques on the walls of homes or stores belonging to the Chinese. Sometimes the content is also used in greetings, such as weddings, birthdays and condolences messages.

History records reveal that in ancient times the Chinese used pictures to communicate, which were then turned into symbols, lines or curves to indicate the item referred to. These symbols, lines and curves were later the basis of what we know today as the Mandarin language. For calligraphy, the lettering was certainly enhanced.

The Chinese have a natural talent in producing calligraphy and previously used it for communication through calligraphic silk scrolls. Calligraphy also enjoys a respectable position in the eyes of the Chinese people, which is why calligraphic silk scrolls often adorn the walls of Chinese homes. Everyone surely agrees that Chinese calligraphy is a highly creative work of art and is highly esthetic as no single work resembles another. Chinese calligraphy has gained worldwide appreciation.

In Indonesia, Chinese calligraphy has also developed in recent years as there are now calligraphic courses available in the country. Students are generally of the older generation, who appreciate the art and the physical movement when drawing with the brush. The whole process is interesting to them because they have to concentrate fully and have peace of mind.

Unfortunately, the raw materials for Chinese calligraphy are rare here, such as the paper, the brushes and the ink, which must be imported from China, or even Japan, Korea or Singapore. However, it does not dampen their spirit in continuing to create to preserve the ancient culture. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, April 13, 2010

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/04/13/chinese-calligraphy-imparts-wisdom.html

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Passage to Malaysia



MALAYSIA is a familiar country to most Indonesians. It is only a short distance away by plane and the country’s Malays belong to the same race as Indonesians. Of course, Malaysia does not have the Borobudur temple, but the country, which is 329,847 square kilometers in area and has a population of 27 million, has one modern artifact, namely the Petronas Twin Towers. The 88-story towers are also called KLCC (Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre). They were built in 1988 and were the tallest buildings in the world until Taipei 101 was built in 2003.

KLCC is more than a concrete and glass building. The pride of the city is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and has an officials’ compound, convention board, a huge park and a modern business center. The towers were designed by Argentine Cesar Pelli, who was inspired by the geometric design often used in Islamic architecture, under the consultancy of Julius Gold.

Obviously KLCC is one of the major tourist attractions in Malaysia, especially Kuala Lumpur. The twin towers, which are the icon of the country, have unique tourist attractions, such as Aquaria, like Sea World in Ancol, Jakarta, and shopping malls. One of the most popular malls is Suriah, which is the favorite destination of shopaholics from many countries, including Indonesia.

Kuala Lumpur has become the favorite destination for those looking for top branded items. Next to KLCC, Bukit Bintang also called Bintang Walk, is another popular shopping destination. Here you can find traditional shops as well as modern boutiques. Many Indonesians seek Vincci shoes, which is Malaysia’s top brand for shoes sold at affordable prices.

Besides Kuala Lumpur there is also Sunway Pyramid in Petaling Jaya, where one can find a luxury mall. Here there are many programs during the year-end and branded items are sold at discounted prices. Apart from Indonesian tourists who visit, there are a great number of Indonesian students staying in this area, so it is not surprising to find numerous Indonesian restaurants around the mall.

There is also an outdoor park, called Sunway Lagoon Theme Park. One of the favorite parks for visitors is the water park, which resembles the water boom in Lippo Cikarang or the water park in Ancol, Jakarta. Also found here are an extreme park, scream park, wildlife park and amusement park just like Dreamland in Jakarta, but they are smaller in size. One can also find the Sunway Resort, so the whole area becomes an attractive integrated destination for the entire family.

A shopping trip is not complete without the uniquely Malaysian pewter accessories and jewelry made by Royal Selangor, which is finely made and famous worldwide. In the early days of Royal Selangor, the pewter was polished with “stone leaf” (tetracera scandens), a wild tropical leaf, to give it better shine. Royal Selangor, due to the fine craftsmanship, received recognition as DiRaja from Sultan Selangor, and was later recognized as Royal Pewter.

One of the attractions for tourists here is the School of Hard Knocks, where they are given a piece of pewter to make into any shape they want. Another tourist attraction is the world’s largest beer mug, which has been recorded in the Malaysia Book of Records and the Guinness Book of Records. The mug is 1.987 meters tall and weighs 1.577 kg and can hold 2,976 liters of beer. The mug has been exhibited in many countries, including Canada, Australia, Singapore and China.

Kuala Lumpur is indeed the starting point, but do not forget other interesting areas, such as Putrajaya, 30 kilometers away. It is the country’s third federal territory after Kuala Lumpur and Labuan. Here is the headquarters of the Malaysian government, just like Canberra in Australia. This was an ambitious project of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is believed to have spent more than US$6 billion establishing the city. The Putrajaya master plan commenced in 1993 and today most of the government offices have moved to this new city.

Putrajaya is not an ordinary new city, because it has beautiful architecture. All the buildings here are modern but built based on Islamic or Middle Eastern architecture. The main areas in Putrajaya are divided into precincts where you can find government and business offices, as well as residential and recreational areas.

Putrajaya is an integrated concept of a smart park city as 38 percent of its area is dedicated to parks, a lake and a valley. Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy the tropical flora and fauna here. There are 12 parks in total, including Wetland Park, which has a huge manmade lake in the center. There is also an orchid park. A big mosque stands majestically beside the lake. Also worth a visit is the prime minister’s office, called Seri Perdana.

There is a city tour in Putrajaya that uses traditional boats as well as cruisers. We had the opportunity to go on Cruise Tasik, which took us round the lake past beautiful bridges and some of the government buildings in Putrajaya.

There are eight bridges on the lake. Each bridge is attractive in its own way as their designs resemble some of the famous bridges in the world, such as Khasju bridge in Iran, the Islamic Moorish bridge and the Pont Alexandre in Paris.

No trip to Malaysia seems complete without a visit to Genting Highlands, which is located on a hill like Puncak and Lembang in West Java. Genting Highlands is one of the world’s most popular destinations.

Located 2,000 meters above sea level on Mount Titiwangsa, Genting Highland is on the border of Pahang and Selangor states. It is a one-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur or can be reached by cable car, called Genting Skyway, which is the fastest in the world and the longest in Southeast Asia.

Genting Highlands was established in the early 1960s by Lim Goh Tong, a Chinese immigrant from Fujian, China, who was later naturalized. It is also referred to as Malaysia’s Las Vegas and is the only legal gambling resort in the country. It is operated by Resorts World Bhd, a subsidiary of the Genting Group. The resort also has a number of hotels, namely Hotel Genting, Hotel Highlands, Hotel Resort, Hotel Theme Park, Awana Genting and Hotel First World. Hotel First World has 6,118 rooms, making it the world’s second largest hotel.

Apart from gambling, the resort has many other facilities, such as theme park, golf course, malls, sky diving simulator, concert hall and so forth. In short, Genting Highlands offers a wide range of tourist attractions, playgrounds and recreational places for the family, both outdoor and indoor. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, April 08, 2010

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Growing market of home appliances


WHO can live without electrical equipment, especially home appliances? The market this year is expected to grow 10 to 15 percent along with people’s improving purchasing power. “There is a growing demand for home appliances. But I am sure there is also tighter competition to win the market,” said the marketing director of a Korean electrical goods producer.

Data at the Electronics Marketer Club (EMC) show that the turnover of electrical and electronic products on the local market in 2009 reached Rp 20.09 trillion, an 11 percent increase from the Rp 18.1 trillion in 2008. This achievement was beyond the projected growth of only about 7 percent amid the global economic crisis.

Industry players are optimistic that in the coming years the market will grow, thus all of them will certainly be aggressive and the competition will get tighter, especially with the implementation of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement.

There are various kinds of home appliances, from the simple ones to those with sophisticated technology. Today, it seems impossible for families to live without certain items like refrigerators, washing machines and gas stoves.

Refrigerators

Many refrigerators with different brands are available. Popular products include Sharp, National and Toshiba, to name just a few Japanese brands. While those from South Korea that are gaining popularity are Samsung and LG. As for Electrolux, it is a legendary European product.

In general, the latest products of each brand have similar specifications like crystal shelves, PCM bodies, anti-rust, non-CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) so as not to damage the ozone layer, plus they save energy. A one-door refrigerator needs between 45-65 watts power, while a two-door refrigerator needs more electricity, more than 200 watts. Refrigerators with the least power is Toshiba (45 watts) followed by Sanyo (50 watts).

European refrigerators used to attract many buyers, but now Japanese and Korean products are leading. Refrigerators from the two countries are also affordable. For an LG one-door refrigerator, Express Cool, one only needs to spend Rp 1.075 million, while a standard two-door refrigerator is Rp 1.8 million. Need a bigger one? Larger two-door refrigerators are available at the higher price of Rp 6.5 million per unit.

In terms of quality, the market acknowledges that there is only a slight difference between the Japanese and South Korean products. However, for certain brands, some of the components, especially the compressors, are imported directly from the producing country. Considering that compressors are an important component of refrigerators, one product could have an advantage over another.

Sanyo is said to use locally made compressors, bodies and interior parts while Sharp, with models like Nice Crystal, according to the sellers, is said to still use compressors made in Japan, but the body and interior parts are made in Indonesia.

Regardless all of the advantages and disadvantages of each brand, it should be acknowledged that there is tight competition in the market of refrigerators. Many brands with various types and reasonable and competitive prices are on offer, making every consumer feel like a king. And now it all depends on the producers’ strategies to attract buyers.

Washing machines

Even though they might not be as alluring as other electrical goods, the washing machine market is becoming more and more promising. The market grew 15 to 20 percent. Many brands like National, Samsung, LG, Electrolux, Sharp, Sanyo, Toshiba, Sanken, Denpoo, Akira, Sanusi, Daichi and Daewoo compete against each other to win customers.

The washing machine market can be divided into three categories: twin tub (semi-automatic), automatic top loader and automatic front loader. The twin tub still dominates the market with a 72 percent market share, followed by the top loader with 21 percent and the front loader with 7 percent.

According to Sharp Electronics Indonesia (SEID) president director Fumihiro Irie, Indonesia has great market potential because only 7 percent of the population uses a washing machine. Taking into account the growing market, Sharp Indonesia will invest US $434 million (about Rp 40 billion) in its new washing machine factory. “Sharp will invest for injection machines and fully automatic machines on the condition that domestic sales increase,” he told MIX magazine.

Unlike Sharp, which focuses on twin tub washing machines, Electrolux focuses on front loaders. This year, Electrolux targets to win 50 percent of the total market for front loaders, which is expected to reach 30,000 units.

PT Electrolux Indonesia product marketing manager for fabric care Jane Ritonga said the front loader market in Indonesia was still small compared to that of the twin tub. But Electrolux, which only sells front loaders, is optimist about the market.

Gas stoves

Gas stoves were in the spotlight when the government carried out the kerosene-gas conversion program over the past three years. According to Hartono Elektronika director of sales and marketing Roy Suprapto, the impacts of the conversion program could be felt in the next few years when low-income people who received gas stoves from the government want to replace them.

In anticipation of consumer demand, Hartono Elektronika is providing various kinds of gas stoves, from one-burner stoves to three burners. Prices range from Rp 150,000 for a one-burner stove to Rp 1.5 million for a three burner. The most popular ones are those with two burners, which cost Rp 300,000 to Rp 400,000 each.

He added that sales of home appliances, especially kitchen items like magic jars, blenders and gas stoves, as well as fans were significant. “As for gas stoves, the contribution to sales is about 11 percent. Among the popular brands are Rinnai, Electrolux and Modena,” he said. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, April 04, 2010

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/04/04/growing-market-home-appliances.html-0