June 20, 2013

Together We Care-A PCA Effort

There were shy laughter, quiet giggles and whisperings among the patients at the Palliative Care Unit and the Palliative Care Association’s Day Care today when the female members of Australian band, Big City Beat started dancing.

Slowly, after warming up to the group’s lively mood, some of the patients even broke into a loud cheer, waving their hands to the music and even clapping in sync.
Big City Beat visited the venues today to bring cheer to the patients through their music before the Association’s annual charity dinner and concert kick-off tomorrow night.
These patients have always been in the ‘care’ of the Palliative Care Association (PCA). PCA is a voluntary charitable organisation that provides home care to terminally ill patients from all age groups. The association have for many years been the pillar of strength for many of these patients by giving them not only moral but emotional support as well.

A total amount of RM4000,000 per year is needed to run the association, man by several core staffs and volunteers. Being a non-government voluntary body, the Association gets its support mainly from donors.

Every year, the Association would organise its charity dinner and concert to raise funds to run the Association’s Home Care Programmes for the benefit of these patients. Last year, the annual event raised RM240,000 and the Association hopes to do even better this year by targeting to raise RM320,000.00.
This year’s 13th Palliative Care Association Annual Charity Dinner and Concert will be held tomorrow night (Friday, June 21) at the Grand Ballroom of The Magellan Sutera Resort. Besides the dining and entertainment, there will also be the auction of three paintings – one by Christianne Goonting and two by Tina Rimmer.

Big City Beat will perform several covers from megastars like Taylor Swift, Pink, the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Madonna and Queen. The opening act will be Shaneil Devaser, a Sabahan singer-songwriter who recently launched his self-titled solo debut EP.
If you would like to support the cause, call +60 88 231 505 / +60 16 841 1499 to book your table for the Black Tie event.

May 20, 2013

Simple Yet Fun Finale

It was a fun nine days for some of us who were at Sutera Harbour Resort’s recent gourmet fest. Two of the guest chefs were from hotels in Kuala Lumpur while the main act, Chef Carmelo Greco was flown in from Italy.

My friends and I did not actually go to each and every session of the activities spread over the nine days. However the few we attended were impressive enough to leave a good impression of Sutera Harbour Resort’s maiden effort at introducing a gourmet fest of modest standards.
Over the nine days, foodies made up of young adults with their parents in tow as well as housewives and career ladies flocked the three participating outlets to learn a trick or two from the celebrated chefs. I’m not much of a cook and so the classes were given a big miss.

I did however attend the SPP Night at Spice Island. It was a beautiful night with good company although the menu wasn’t as impressive as I had hoped. The ambience however was first class and we ladies couldn’t help falling in love with the almost life-sized grey elephant placed inside the restaurant just by the entrance. We heard he will have a partner soon.

The closing of the event was on the eight day, hosted by Winecellars at the boardwalk of the Marina. It was an evening of wine sampling and enjoying the sunset. At that hour we thought it would have been good to have a few food counters selling a selection of dishes that complement the wine. No, not satay, of course.

The Sutera Harbour Resort & Winecellars Gourmet Fest 2013 introduced this year could probably be made into a yearly event. A collaboration with the Winecellars, the fest is aimed towards bringing together refined tastes through fine dining and premium wines.

If you are keen to participate next year, get in touch with Sutera Harbour Resort’s Marketing Communications at +60 88 303 355 (Marketing Communications) for enquiries.

May 12, 2013

Best Food Forward at Island Holiday Hub

As mentioned in my earlier post, I would be at Tariks Lobby Lounge of The Magellan Sutera Resort as part of the 200 guests invited for its inaugural Gourmet Fest 2013. How did the evening score? Well, it was reasonably impressive and fun.

The setting was simple; the Lounge was divided into three corners with each of the three participating restaurants occupying a corner each. Chinese restaurant Silk Garden of The Pacific Sutera Hotel was at left, Italian restaurant Ferdinand’s of The Magellan Sutera Resort at right and Malay-Indian restaurant Spice Garden of The Sutera Harbour Marina & Country Club took centre spot.
Fantastic drinks, great ambience, friendly staffs.
When my friends and I arrived, I heard some guests commenting that in terms of d├ęcor, Silk Garden scored 1st. The fierce-looking lion sculpture seemed to be guarding the spot and female wait staffs dressed in body-fitting red cheongsam were enough to pull in the crowd.

Spice Island was charming and rustic with the elephant sculpture, the trishaw and the simple, true-to-life old-styled Malay-Indian stalls. And, having the Guest Chef himself sweating behind the stove left a very good impression among guests.

Ferdinand’s however was a little simple and bright. I was expecting a more romantic setting – dim lights, a few petals of pink roses on the tables maybe. And most times I only saw in-house chef, Daniele Rossetto preparing the food. Probably Chef Carmelo’s surprise will be on Ferdinand’s Host Night itself. Some friends gave different reviews on Ferdinand’s offering and friends who tried some of the items showcased were impressed with the risotto.
Chef Carmelo Greco (top, centre) and Chef Daniele Rossetto (bottom, right).
When it comes to food, my preference is on Malay and Indian, Italian (depending on dishes and my mood) and Chinese (occasionally). So it’s obvious that I zoomed in on Spice Island, shook hands with Guest Chef, Chef S K Sabuddin and the rest of the team manning the station and tried out most of the items featured. The verdict – mostly delicious except for the Samosas, which were fried too brown. But flavour wise, everything scored high, especially the Fish Tikka, which had just about the right amount of spiciness in it. Good on its own, even better with the Murtabak.
Spice Island - Chef S K Sabuddin busy making Murtabak and pretty girls dresssed in traditional Indian costumes.   

Many of the guests were actually circling the Silk Garden spot from the start of the event but when we finally noticed the food was not yet ready, we moved on to the other two stations. However, when the chefs were ready with their entire preparations, the team took the crowd by surprise with items showcased. Among the three outlets, I’d say Guest Chef, Chef Roy Wong surprised me most.

The Smoked Egg topped with sauce flavoured prawns served in a simple presentation – halved egg placed on a porcelain Chinese spoon – had a unique sweetish flavour that’s simply addictive.
The Silk Garden team and their impressive food selections.
Judging from guests’ turnout, the Sutera Harbour Resort & Winecellars Gourmet Fest 2013 may well be a yearly calendar as it has many attractive features that would help boost Sabah’s tourism especially now that Visit Malaysia Year 2014 is just around the corner.

May 11, 2013

Launch of Gourmet Fest 2013

Tonight is the opening night of the Sutera Harbour Resort & Winecellars Gourmet Fest 2013. The event is by invitation only, accommodating a maximum of 200 guests including Press. I will be there with friends and some of us are pretty excited, seeing that this will be the first time that Kota Kinabalu is having such a glam event.

Two Italian chefs, one a Michelin Star and two award-winning chefs based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia will highlight during the fest period. Tonight, the chefs will showcased their signature items for guests to savour.

We heard the evening's agenda has been kept simple with light food complemented by selected wines, provided by the event's partner, Winecellars belonging to Ms Meng Tan.

Initially the event was planned at The Magellan Sutera Resort's Club Garden but because the ground is rather soggy due to the constant rain over the past few days it has been moved to the Resort's Tariks Lobby Lounge instead.

Well, it's just a few hours more to the opening and the sky looks dark. Let's see if everyone is in high spirits because we are!

March 23, 2013

Earth Hour at Sutera Harbour Resort

My colleagues and I were at Sutera Harbour Resort's Earth Hour event and we captured some shots but due to the limitations of our handphones our photos didn't turn out even close to brilliant. But still, they are my keepsakes for my first Earth Hour participation.Enjoy the read!

The start of a beautiful day. Catch the early moon.

It's now 11 minutes past midnight. I've just had a smashing time celebrating Earth Hour at Sutera Harbour Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (East Malaysia). The boardwalk and the area just at the bottom of the Resort's prominent landmark; the Bird of Paradise was the selected venue for hosting this year's celebration.

Earth Hour 2013 was not opened to the public. Invitations were extended only to special guests that include long-staying hotel guests of the Resort’s two 5-star hotels, The Magellan Sutera Resort and The Pacific Sutera Hotel.

It was drizzling at past 4pm and most of us were so afraid the sky would open up and spoil the night. But it didn’t. In fact there was little wind compared to other evenings. The sunset though was glorious, much better than the previous day.

Although the Resort’s Earth Hour celebration was a closed door event, it did enjoy the presence of the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah YB Datuk Masidi Manjun officiating. Also present were the Resort’s President, YBhg Datuk Edward Ong and YBhg Datin Enung Njoman and several other prominent figures.
Glorious earthly beauty - the majestic sunset!
It seemed this year’s celebration was taken a notch higher by tying up the 1-hour darkness campaign with a marine conservation effort. This year, the Resort embarked on a coral planting project in the Marina as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program.
Preparations for the evening.
It was no easy task to plant corals in the dark but with the help of University Malaysia Sabah’s team from its Borneo Marine Research Institute headed by its Director, Professor Saleem Mustafa everything went smoothly as planned.
The in-house emcee, Ms Imelda doing last checks before the kick off.
The night’s event was fairly simple. There was the screening of the official Earth Hour video on a giant screen, the bell ringing ceremony to signal the 1-hour darkness that started universally at 8.30pm, the lighting of the Tiki torches and followed with the planting of the corals by the Marina’s pontoon.
As the sun sets, the boardwalk lit up with minimal lights.

Universal countdown with the help of Earth Hour's official video.
The UMS team preparing the corals for planting under minimal light.
The VIPs at the pontoon with the divers assisting in planting the corals.
The rest of the night was spent enjoying good food by candlelight and soft music provided by The Magellan’s strollers.
Romantic setting combined with good food.

March 11, 2013

No Drama In City Centre

Everyone’s talking about it – stay away from Sabah. Sabah is not safe. Red alert!!! Don’t travel anywhere close to it. And here I am, right smack in the centre of Sabah and life is as it always is – PEACEFUL!
Relax at Sutera Harbour Resort's beachfront by The Pacific Sutera Hotel.
I’m from West Malaysia and I’ve been in Kota Kinabalu for the past eight months – change of job, change of lifestyle and reasonably happy. And then the Lahad Datu incident where some intruders attacked a village in Sabah rocked the entire world (or almost) with negative reports. But what is actually the truth? Does anyone out there really know how unsafe or safe Sabah is? For those of you who are not residing in Sabah, or anywhere close to where the intruders are, don’t spread crazy news. You are not helping the situation. Why do you want to cause panic when there is no reason for panic?

I live in Sabah’s capital city, Kota Kinabalu and that is about 6 to 8 hours drive to Lahad Datu and Semporna where the incident took place. There are no curfews here or any of the nearby areas. The only areas that are under tight security are Lahad Datu and Semporna. While our security forces are everywhere in the areas, protecting the innocents the rest of the world shoot their spirits down by spreading news that things aren’t under control. Have some faith in them, ok?

My family has called several times. They have asked me to book the next flight out. Take a long holiday, they suggested. When I said no, they planned my escapade should the entire office come under siege. Pack a bag they said. Bring your passport with you at all times, stash a sports shoes in the bag as well so you can change from those killer heels. So now I travel in my sporty little car with a black luggage bag in the boot filled with a track suit, a track top and a pair of running shoes. And my passport? It’s inside my handbag, just in case I can’t make it to the car and I have to make an instant dash to the airport. I mocked my family by asking, "What if the airport is under attack?" They ignored me. Instead they said: Leave everything else behind BUT your passport.

Okay let’s get serious, my family buzzed on Skype. But I am serious. Sabah is doing fine. Kota Kinabalu is operating as usual. Businesses continue without a hitch. I’m still driving around safe and sound and the clubs around town are still buzzing in the evenings. 

Seriously romantic - an evening watching the sunset at Sutera Harbour Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
So chill, ok? Time is ticking so why not enjoy the beautiful sunset like I did this evening or go for a swim at Kota Kinabalu’s beautiful beaches? Things here are under control and if it’s really as bad as what you've been hearing then wouldn’t you think the entire state would have been under curfew by now?

Read from reliable sources:

July 1, 2012

The World of Journos

WE’VE been there and done that. In our call of duty we journalists have been assigned to all kinds of reporting and we have met all kinds of characters; from the humble to the arrogant to the downright rude. But we take it all in our stride. It is our job, a job that feeds and clothes us.

It goes without saying that people have flaws but in dealing with humans (even animals for that matter) we must have respect. And sadly, many of us are disrespectful, using foul language as a weapon, thinking no one knows who they are and so can easily get away with it, at least that is what they think. Name callings and unkind remarks posted in the comments section are uncalled for. And at the end of the day, they actually reflect our characters and our level of professionalism. It shows our weak communication skills.

The thing about blogging is that most times readers do not exactly know who the person behind the site is. Readers do not know the person’s background, unless of course all is revealed in the ABOUT section, which again is the site owner/owners’ prerogative. But event organizers and owners of businesses who extend the invite for coverage should and this is where respect becomes even more important.

NewsFlashMedia is made up of seasoned writers, journalists and professionals in their respective fields. NewsFlashMedia is just our space to communicate on other things besides work. It is also our room for ‘practice’ so as not to get rusty and laid-back because understandably when we do the same thing every day we fail to see that other side of life besides the computer that we stare at from morning to night while on the Desk.

A lot of people, especially business operators and owners, see journalists as a ‘helping hand’ when they need publicity. A majority of us are seen as freeloaders. To some extent we cannot blame the general conscientious of us because there are journalists who are, but as with everything else, we cannot generalise and should evaluate each one of us through our interactions with them.

As journalists we have had free room stays with family in tow offered to us. Free food vouchers, free drinks, free gifts, free perfumes and cosmetics, free everything. The writers on NewsFlashMedia are reputed to be a disciplined lot who will not sacrifice their integrities and work ethics for some freebies, which in the first place they can afford to buy themselves. As such, how great the freebies given out at the event is none of our concern and so we do not include them in our reviews to reflect the generosity of the organisers and business owners. It is, however, a great publicity stunt, and has proven to work.

And being journalists who have slogged on the Desk for many years, a majority of our contacts are PR agents and business operators and owners. Some are mere networks while the more genuine in intentions become our friends. But, being friends do not necessarily mean we cover up their flaws by saying only the good things in our reviews so our friends appear perfect. As journalists, a review that has a balance of good and bad is justified as it allows organisers and business operators to review their strengths and work on their weaknesses.

We have had in the past restaurant owners sending hate mail to our ‘big bosses’ simply because journalists sent for food reviews have little praise of their menu. Unknown to most of them, we do check-out their establishments on the quiet upon an invite to see if they actually warrant an interview. At times they didn’t live up to the standards but we obliged just to help them out. The same goes when clearing an unimpressive review copy. In fact some of us would visit the outlet reviewed (again on the quiet) just to know if it was really as bad as what our journalists told us. Well, for example, if you find expired baklavas on the cake counters still being sold to customers and wait staffs who take ages to serve just one cup of coffee, what do you think the review would be like?

Some of us in NFM are seasoned club reviewers. And we have had DJs and dance club operators getting all hot and bothered after reading one or two negative sentences in the review of their performance. Our advice is, do not just single out the negative sounding sentences and ‘explode’. Read the entire article, digest it and then decide if the writer has been fair overall.

One other thing that most people don’t see is the difference between negative reviews to the point of defaming and negative sentences that are based on what the journalists see, hear or picked up from interviews they have while at the venue. Some words are quoted by others present and are not necessarily the writers’. Defaming is when someone or something is falsely accused of something that has no proof to the truth.

All that is said here is just a tiny fraction of the journalism and journalist world. There are bigger issues that we are also concern with. These are probably just tiny drops in the ocean but it would do a whole lot of good if these tiny drops are understood so people can go about their work without unnecessary animosity.

We remember what one Public Relations guy used to tell us: “I believe any review is a good review. If it is good it is a plus point. And if it is bad, we still become known because people get curious and want to know who we are”.

To end this, below is a screenshot of the comment we received from Shin Kajiwara, Chief Executive Officer of Monhan Holdings Sdn Bhd that owns and operates GoMakan.com. Because we have closed the comment thread and because we have high respect for his professionalism, we’ve decided he deserves the space again. We were expecting a respond from Mr Shin but we did not know what the response would be like. His comment truly reflects an educated and open mind. To Mr Shin and GoMakan.com, we share your triumph and wish your business grow from strength to strength.