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Pahang hotel stays open for frontliners - April 22, 2020

KUANTAN: Just when most hotels decide to close its doors due to the Covid-19 scare, a hotelier in Indera Mahkota here choose to "remain in business". However, instead of accepting room bookings from guests, the owner Pajan Singh has been providing frontliners battling the Covid-19 pandemic in the state to stay for free at his premises — Veer Hotel — which has 35 rooms. The Civil Defence Force personnel (APM) and National Security Council (NSC) staff have been occupying his premises here since March 25, and the 55-year-old is more than happy to accommodate them until the MCO is lifted. The father-of-three said he understood the struggles faced by some of the frontliners who were required to travel to neighbouring states and various districts in Pahang in order to carry out their duties and even lacked proper rest. "Since my premises was closed due to the MCO and there were rooms available, I decided to offer the frontliners to stay for free. "I informed the Pahang Tourism and Culture Ministry (Motac) chairman (Datuk Idrus Yahya) on March 23 and he shared the news with the relevant parties. "Two days later, an officer from MKN visited the hotel to check on the premises before arrangements were made for a group of APM personnel and MKN staff to move into the building which can accommodate about 80 people.

"I sometimes met some of them at the lobby and they are grateful for the resting facilities," he said today. Pajan who has been in the hotel industry for about eight years, said he was concerned with some of the frontliners who had no access to proper accommodation after a long journey due to work commitments. "Some were having a tough time to find a decent place for a proper shower and rest. "These days, I noticed that some of the personnel would return past midnight and then leave to work early in the morning.... the personnel are sacrificing their time and energy, and being in the hospitality industry, this is my small contribution in assisting them. "We provide the frontliners with the essential room services without any charges. "Since, we have the same group of individuals occupying the rooms, it is a little easier for us to coordinate them during their stay," he said, thanking Motac and the Pahang government for the opportunity to serve the society.

Pajan, who manages the hotel with his wife and 24-year-old daughter, said he had another hotel nearby and was prepared to open the premises for frontliners should the current one reached full occupancy. Meanwhile, Malaysia Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA) deputy president Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel lauded Pajan's decision saying although the industry was badly hit due to the pandemic, some hoteliers were trying to alleviate the burden of the frontliners. "Some hoteliers have offered their premises as quarantine centres for Malaysians returning from overseas while in Pahang, Pajan is offering those battling the pandemic to stay for free. "Malaysians are rallying together to battle the Covid-19 during these tough times." he said. Source-NST

Tourists choose to stay put in city - April 18, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: The Covid-19 infection has turned the tourism sector upside down, not just in terms of putting a spanner in people’s travel plans but also leading to flight cancellations the world over leaving travellers stranded with little or no money left in their pockets. While reports of such incidents have been hitting the headlines since the pandemic started, there are also cases of travellers who have chosen to remain in the countries that they are visiting. These travellers choose to stay put for many reasons. Some do not want to travel back to their home country and risk getting infected along the way, while others feel it is safer to remain where they are. Others have no choice because their country of origin is on a lockdown or strict movement control order, which saw most airports closed. There are also those who are forced to stay put simply because they do not have the funds for a return trip home. The New Straits Times spoke to several tourists in the city centre to see how they were coping with the Movement Control Order (MCO), which has been in force since the middle of last month.

A backpacker, who wanted to be known only as Elias, was seen walking around the Bukit Bintang area wearing a face mask. The 29-year-old from Belarus said he came to Malaysia about three weeks ago from Vietnam as part of his world tour. “I was in Vietnam for close to half a year, and I have been travelling around the world for more than three years now. “I quit my job as an aviation engineer in order to see the world,” he said, adding that he decided to visit Malaysia as he was in the region. Elias said when he flew here, reports about Covid-19 were not widespread. However, he said, his finances were running low and he was forced to remain in Malaysia. “To be honest, I don’t have much money left. Thankfully, the hostel I am staying at costs only RM19 a day and the owners have allowed me to do odd jobs like helping them clean up, so I don’t have to continue paying for my accommodation. “This is a great relief, especially on my very thin wallet, which is partly why I have chosen to remain here for the moment.”

Elias said he was able to survive in Vietnam for almost half a year because he taught English to the locals to earn some pocket money.  However, as he was unable to work in Malaysia. He has appealed to his friends back home to send him some money. Elias said several other backpackers were in a similar predicament. Despite his situation, Elias remained upbeat, saying he would cope as best as he could. Abdelif Bechker, 53, from France, said he came to Malaysia early last month for a holiday and to look into the possibility of pursuing a joint venture to run a guesthouse here. He said the MCO did not affect him much and that he was thankful to be in good health. “I have a nice, decent place to stay and sufficient funds to survive even though I can’t really go anywhere right now. “I have been in communication with my family back home in New Caledonia. They have asked me to remain where I am for the time being.” Abdelif said he noticed that when the MCO first came into effect, tourists went about the city centre without taking precautions to protect themselves, but things had changed now. “I hope things will get back to normal soon. “If the MCO is not extended and if everything gets back to normal by the end of the month, I hope to proceed with my plans to fly to Manila.”

Meanwhile, a Mexican national, who wished to be known only as Eva, said she had been in the country for quite some time and would fly back once she was able to. “Actually I had the option to return home before Covid-19 caused all this havoc, but I did not do it as I was enjoying myself too much. “However, now I regret my decision,” said Eva, who was seen happily walking along the streets of Kuala Lumpur without wearing a face mask. Source- NST


Tour guides, undergrads benefit from Pahang government initiatives : April 8, 2020

KUANTAN: Tour guides and undergraduates from Pahang are among the recipients of nine new initiatives worth RM2.1 million by the state government in its efforts to assist those affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail said the state government had set aside RM63,900 for tour guides whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic. “426 individuals comprising Taman Negara nature tour guides, tour guides and Taman Negara tour boat operators will each receive RM100 cash along with essential items worth RM50.

“Pahang-born undergraduates who remain at their campus hostels due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) will each receive RM150 cash. A total of RM97,500 has been set aside for 650 recipients,” he said in a statement today. Wan Rosdy said the state government had agreed to distribute 21,000 rice packets involving a cost of RM304,500 to all 14 parliamentary constituencies (1,500 recipients each) in Pahang to be distributed to deserving individuals, here. He said families under quarantine at home as patients-under-surveillance (PUS) for Covid-19 would receive essential items worth RM50 and some RM175,000 had been allocated for 3,500 head of families under the Ziarah Prihatin programme. “For those in areas where the MCO has been tightened and facing difficulties to obtain food supplies, essential items worth RM200 will be distributed to some 200 head of families at each district in Pahang.

“The Disaster Operation Control Centre at each district will receive RM5,000 to supply and distribute these items to the heads of the families. “3,500 settlers under the Felda Development and Security Committee and 3,100 recipients under the New Village Security and Development Committee will each receive RM100 cash and items worth RM50.” Wan Rosdy said the state government would also contribute RM30,000 to help e-hailing micro-entrepreneurs especially in the state capital who were badly affected by the MCO. Meanwhile, he said some 1,027 imam in Pahang will receive an early payment of RM500 each starting April 9 which is part of the RM1,000 one-off special payment announced during the state budget last year.

Pulau Tioman residents, tourists well taken care of - April 18, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Although it has been stranded on Pulau Tioman since the Movement Control Order (MCO) took effect on March 18, local residents feel safe as the island is free of Covid-19 infections. Kampung Tekek village head Zurkarnaini Hamid said ferry services to Pulau Tioman had been halted during the MCO to ensure no outsiders landed on the island, located off the coast of Pahang. “Thus far, the island is free from Covid-19. No one has tested positive for the virus and we feel safe here. “This is thanks to the movement restrictions imposed here. We want to ensure no one either enters or leaves the island to prevent the spread of the virus. “Like everywhere else in the country, we strictly adhere to the MCO, practice social distancing, stay home and take preventive measures to protect ourselves,” he told the New Straits Times. Zurkarnaini added that frequent police patrols around the island had made the atmosphere safer and secure.

He said some 3,500 residents in six villages — Kampung Tekek, Kampung Salang, Kampung Juara, Kampung Mukut, Kampung Genting, and Kampung Paya — had ample food supply. “Although we cannot leave the island, there is no problem in getting food supply as the grocery stores still operate as usual. “And the authorities are monitoring the situation on the island, too. They will send us aid should we face any problem.” However, he said, villagers had lost their source of income during the MCO as many of them depended on the tourism activities on the island. “They now have to rely on assistance from the federal and state governments, but everything is fine.

“The state government has distributed basic necessities such as rice and cooking oil to the villagers.” On the 85 foreign tourists who were stranded on the Island, Zurkarnaini said their welfare was being taken care of. “They were here before the MCO was enforced. “They chose to stay put because their countries of origin pose a higher risk of Covid-19 infection. “They are staying in chalets and are well taken care of by the operators. “They may leave the island any time they want with the permission of police.” Source-NST

Pahang introduces online Ramadan bazaar portal : April 8, 2020

KUANTAN: No Ramadan bazaars, no problem.

After deciding to cancel the annual Ramadan bazaars this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pahang government has initiated an online Ramadan bazaar portal called "PahangMart" to assist traders and customers during the upcoming fasting month. Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail said the new online Ramadan bazaar portal would serve as an alternative for traders to promote their breaking of fast mouth-watering delicacies and allow customers to place their orders with just a single click. He said the PahangMart portal would display a list of Ramadan bazaars throughout the state along with the "stalls" operating in the areas.

“Images of food items sold by traders will be displayed to make it easy for customers to make their choice before placing orders. Delivery services (runner) is provided. “So besides the existing food delivery service riders, PahangMart will also provide a platform for delivery riders and those interested to take up the job (as delivery riders) can contact PahangGo for further details," he said, adding that PahangMart would also include the names of all the supermarkets in Pahang along with the goods which they have on offer. Wan Rosdy said he hoped that the initiative would not only help people purchase food items for their breaking of fast and essentials from the bazaars but also pave the way for traders and hawkers to continue doing business during these tough times. Meanwhile, Wan Rosdy said the move to cancel the Ramadan bazaars at all 11 districts in Pahang was to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and heed the advice of Health director-general Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah which is to avoid mass gatherings for the next six months to a year. He said they had to call off Ramadan bazaars at 94 locations in Pahang which involves some 4,639 traders.

This is based on the records obtained last year from all 11 local authorities and the Tioman Development Authority. Wan Rosdy said the move to introduce PahangMart was made following concerns expressed by traders who needed to get by during these trying times. It is learned that Ramadan bazaar traders in Pahang will be required to register with the portal before their services can be displayed on PahangMart, which will be part of the existing PahangGo mobile application. Source-NST

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