Two weeks ago, the Malaysian opposition culminated its election campaign by dethroning a government that had been in power for more than 60 years. But as Alican Ayanlar reports from Kuala Lumpur, now the real work begins, starting with getting to the bottom of one of the biggest financial scandals in the world. [...]
But don’t worry: The clubs aren’t going anywhere
By NIKKI EKSTEIN
Close your eyes and imagine you’re at a Nikki Beach club — the original in Miami, or perhaps the one in Saint Tropez. What do you see? Someone spraying Champagne while dancing on top of a bar? Languid couples with bronzed complexions on marshmallowy daybeds? DJs spinning untz-untz beats while servers flit around with trays of sushi?
Now try again. But this time, you’re at a Nikki Beach resort. Instead of turntables, there’s a massage pagoda on the sand; loungers are half- submerged in a serene pool; and rather than the bar, you can meet your friends at the library-like “Soul Lounge” before exploring Greek ruins or Thai temples.
Welcome to the Nikki Beach of the future.
Nikki Beach has been refining its concept at 4 locations: Porto Heli, Greece; koh samui, thailand; Bodrum, turkey; and most recently, in Dubai
While the 20-year-old nightlife company has no plans to abandon (or slow down) its fast- growing beach club business, it’s also doubling down on Zen-inspired hotels and resorts. It plans to open 20 ultra-chill locations in the next five years in classic and emerging destinations alike — think Santorini, Greece and Montenegro — throughout the Mediterranean, South-East Asia and the Caribbean.
“The two concepts [beach clubs and resorts] are extremely symbiotic,” says Alexander Schneider, VP of Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts in Europe and the Middle East. “Every person has introvert and extrovert phases. There are hours in the day where we want to show what we’re made of, and hours of the day where we just want to cocoon and read a book,” he tells Bloomberg.
A ‘Disruptive’ Hotel Brand
Deanna Ting, senior hospitality editor at Skift, says Nikki Beach is a ripe entry in the hotel market.
“There aren’t many brands outside of the gaming space — think MGM and Sands — that are combining the pool-party experience with a spa and a retreat where you can recover,” she tells Bloomberg. Its competitors, by comparison, are more urban (W hotels), less global (Gansevoort), or less bohemian in spirit (Soho House and SLS). “There’s definitely an opportunity there,” Ting says.
So far, Nikki Beach has been refining its concept at four locations: Porto Heli, Greece; Koh Samui, Thailand; Bodrum, Turkey; and most recently, in Dubai.
The properties promote more bliss than booze; some don’t have beach clubs at all. Instead, they have such amenities as a Nikki Spa and a healthy all-day dining venue called Café Nikki, which are set to become recurring
elements at most Nikki Beach resorts to come. All four operational properties have four- and-a-half or five-star ratings on TripAdvisor, with only the occasional complaint about Spring Break vibes and sleepless nights. Food quality and service — which Schneider calls brand-defining points of pride — receive mixed reviews, while design and relaxing spaces are cited as the brand’s greatest strengths.
Both qualities play into Nikki Beach’s “celebration of life” ethos. (The brand is an ode to founder Jack Penrod’s daughter, killed by a drunk driver at the age of 18.) “Usually the places that want to be cool make you feel like you have to dress up,” Schneider says. “We want you to just feel very comfortable how and where you are.”
Risks and Rewards
According to hospitality branding expert Erich Joachimsthaler, this kind of clear “belief system” — one that fosters an emotional connection for consumers — can guide a brand through unlikely expansions. But he worries the company may limit itself by keeping its clubs and resorts under the Nikki Beach name. A sub-brand strategy allows for greater growth, he tells Bloomberg. Much as “Nikki” has been used on cafes and spas, it could be applied to future projects (eg Nikki Resort, Nikki Yacht and Nikki Jet).
Maintaining the desired clientele will also be key to the expansion. “Any particular resort is a function of the people who are there,” Joachimsthaler explains. “I wouldn’t want to show up at Nikki Beach and have a family with kids splashing around me.”
So far, that hasn’t been a problem. The Dubai location, for instance, notched 85% occupancy rates in its first year, according to the company, compared to a city-wide average of 65% — something Schneider attributes to a large and loyal brand following.
Nikki Beach’s failed pop-up in the Hamptons this summer proved just how easy it can be to dent a brand’s reputation — and how little margin for error exists in the highly competitive hospitality industry. But Schneider is undeterred. “The world still wants micro- brands that have a soul and aren’t driven by world domination,” he tells Bloomberg.
Still, he sees the company expanding beyond beaches. “I can see a Nikki Beach ski resort,” Schneider muses. “When you think about it, it’s not really about the beach. It’s about people coming together to have a good time.” — Bloomberg
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Lim Guan Eng speaks to reporters at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur August 6, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 — The abolition of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by the new government did not cause the country to go bankrupt but has in fact been able to survive so far, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.He said although GST was idolised by certain parties who wanted a free market and feared losing foreign investors, the impact of the tax system burdened the people, especially those in the lower income group (B40).“Although the new government has abolished the GST, so far Malaysia has not become a bankrupt. We can still hang on, it proves that we can survive without GST,” he said when winding up the debate on the 2018 Goods and Services Tax (Repeal) Bill in the Dewan Negara today.The bill was later approved for third reading with a majority vote before Dewan Negara president Tan Sri SA Vigneswaran.Lim explained that many complaints had been received since the GST was introduced and it showed that the tax system had a huge impact on the lives and cost of living of the people, especially their economic well-being.The Dewan Negara also passed the Service Tax Bill 2018, which Lim, when winding up debate on the bill, had said that the government had exempted school canteens from the service tax.However, he said, service providers and restaurants in universities were still subject to service tax due to varied customer factors.“If we look at the University of Malaya or other universities, these are rather large establishments where the clients are composed not only of students but also lecturers, professors and others.“That’s why the Royal Malaysian Customs Department feels that they should be subject to service tax because they are already at the level of establishments, not like in schools,” he said.The sitting today also approved the Customs (Amendment) Bill 2018 to amend the Customs Act 1967 and the Free Zone (Amendment) Bill 2018 to amend the Free Zones Act 1990.Vigneswaran then postponed the sitting of the Dewan, which sit again on August 27. — Bernama [...]
Millions of people were swept apart by the 1950-53 Korean War, which separated brothers and sisters, parents and children and husbands and wives. AFP photo
SEOUL: With tears and cries, dozens of elderly and frail South and North Korean family members met on Monday for the first time since the peninsula and their relationships were torn apart by war nearly 70 years ago.
Clasping one another, they tried to bridge the decades of separation through precious physical contact and by showing each other pictures of their relatives.
Many of the North Korean women were clad in traditional dresses, known as hanbok in the South and joseon-ot in the North, and all had the ubiquitous badges of the North’s founder Kim Il Sung or his son and successor Kim Jong Il, while the Southerners wore their best suits.
As soon as 99-year-old South Korean Han Shin-ja approached their table, her two daughters — aged 69 and 72 — bowed their heads deeply towards her and burst into tears.
Han also broke down, rubbing her cheeks against theirs and holding their hands tightly.
“When I fled during the war…” she began, choking back tears as if she were about to apologise for leaving them behind.
Millions of people were swept apart by the 1950-53 Korean War, which separated brothers and sisters, parents and children and husbands and wives.
Hostilities ceased with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically still at war and the peninsula split by the impenetrable Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), with all direct civilian exchanges — even mundane family news — banned.
The three-day reunion at Mount Kumgang, a scenic resort in North Korea, is the first for three years and follows a diplomatic thaw on the peninsula.
According to pool reports, the event began with a popular North Korean song “Nice to meet you” — also well known in the South — blaring out from speakers.
– ‘Never imagined this day would come’ –
Lee Keum-seom, now tiny and frail at 92, met her son for the first time since she and her infant daughter were separated from him and her husband as they fled.
At the time Ri Sang Chol was aged just four. Lee shouted his name when she saw the now 71-year-old, before hugging him as both were overcome with emotion.
Her son showed her pictures of his family in the North — including her late husband — telling her: “This is a photo of father.”
Before leaving for the meeting, Lee told AFP: “I never imagined this day would come. I didn’t even know if he was alive or not.”
With time taking its toll, such parent-child reunions have become rare.
Since 2000 the two nations have held 20 rounds of reunions but most of the more than 130,000 Southerners who signed up for a reunion since the events began have since died.
More than half the survivors are over 80, with this year’s oldest participant Baik Sung-kyu aged 101.
South Korean Park Ki-dong, 82, met his two North Korean siblings, who had brought dozens of family photos with them.
Pak Sam Dong pointed at one of the images, telling his brother: “This is you.”
The older man stared at the picture silently, deep in thought, while his North Korean sister quietly wiped tears from her eyes.
– Bittersweet –
The reunions are resuming after a three-year hiatus as the North accelerated its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and relations worsened.
But after a rapid diplomatic thaw the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in agreed to restart them at their first summit in April in the DMZ.
The two Koreas have since discussed cooperation in various fields at meetings between officials.
But while Kim and US President Donald Trump held a landmark summit in Singapore in June, Pyongyang has yet to make clear what concessions it is willing to make on its nuclear arsenal, while Washington is looking to maintain sanctions pressure on it.
Families at previous reunions have often found it a bittersweet experience, with some complaining about the short time they were allowed together and others lamenting the ideological gaps between them after decades apart.
Some of those selected for this year’s reunions dropped out after learning that their parents or siblings had died and they could only meet more distant relatives whom they had never seen before.
Over the next three days, the 89 families will spend only about 11 hours together, mostly under the watchful eyes of North Korean agents.
They will have only three hours in private before they are separated once again on Wednesday, in all likelihood for the final time. – AFP [...]
TONGOD: A retired teacher who was working on his padi field rescued his son from a sun bear attack at Kampung Entilibon here on Monday (Aug 20). [...]
BEIJING: There will be no changes in policy towards China under the new Malaysian government, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Dr Mahathir gave the assurance when meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guest House, here today.
"We're here to assure the Chinese government and its people that there will be no change of policy," the Prime Minister said.
Dr Mahathir is on a five-day official visit to the People's Republic.
Dr Mahathir underscored that there would be continuity in Malaysia's policy towards China. He took the opportunity to point out that Malaysia adopted a friendly stance towards other friendly countries.
The visiting Prime Minister also said China had been a long-standing trading partner of Malaysia.
Dr Mahathir told Xi that he was impressed with the level of development achieved by China, the world's second largest economy after the United States.
"We see China as a model for development," he said.
Dr Mahathir's visit to China ends tomorrow. — Bernama [...]
Amirudin Shari remind candidates contesting in the PKR elections not to use dirty tactics to attack each other. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
SHAH ALAM, Aug 20 — Candidates contesting in the PKR elections are reminded not to use dirty tactics to attack each other to win any post during the campaign period, said Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari.He said such act would not bring any benefit to anyone and would be rejected by the grassroots members.“Do not make any personal attack...there are some who make wild allegations. Supposedly when there is an election, members contesting need to provide programmes to empower the party and not do anything like this,” he told reporters after launching the monthly assembly of government departments and the state-level Jalur Gemilang Campaign 2018 here today.Amirudin, who is contesting a member post in the PKR central leadership council (MPP), had called on the candidates who were attacked by various allegations to lodge a report to the party’s disciplinary board.Meanwhile, asked on the cooperation between PAS and UMNO in the Seri Setia state by-election, he said it should be respected and proposed that both parties to merge to enable them to compete fairly against the Pakatan Harapan.The Seri Setia by-election will be held on September 8 following the death of its incumbent, Prof Dr Shaharuddin Badaruddin of PKR, due to colon cancer on August 2.The by-election is a straight fight between Pakatan Harapan’s Halimey Abu Bakar and PAS’ Dr Halimah Ali. — Bernama [...]
SAN FRANCISCO • Tesla Inc’s board of directors is at a critical juncture, wedged between a larger-than-life figure to whom many are personally close and their larger responsibility to shareholders.
Elon Musk’s astonishing interview with the New York Times has heightened concerns surrounding the health of Tesla’s chairman and CEO, with shares plunging 8.9% last Friday, the largest drop in nearly two years. The references to Ambien use and driving while tweeting are fuelling calls for Tesla’s board to step up its oversight of the company’s CEO and largest shareholder.
“If the board is going to take any initiative, they will clamp him down,” said Maryann Keller, an independent auto industry analyst in Stamford, Connecticut. “He isn’t doing the stock or the perception of him as a leader any good.”
Musk told the Times he didn’t recall communications from the board and that he “definitely did not get calls from irate directors” after his Aug 7 tweet that he had “funding secured” to go private.
He later amended the comment through a spokeswoman, saying lead independent director Antonio Gracias had contacted him about the Aug 7 tweet. Musk agreed not to tweet again on the possible transaction without discussing it with the board, the spokeswoman said.
Among the challenges of supervising a peripatetic entrepreneur is that running Tesla isn’t his only job. He is also chairman and CEO of innovative rocket manufacturer Space Exploration Technologies Corp or SpaceX, and has created two other entities that add to demands on his time.
“It’s clear that Musk cannot continue to run four companies at a time,” said Stephen
Diamond, an associate professor of law at Santa Clara University who specialises in corporate governance.
“Tesla needs and deserves a full-time, exclusive CEO. But the first question the board needs to clarify is this: Is Tesla for sale, or not? If they are going to entertain this goprivate idea of Musk’s, they are obligated to get the highest share price possible.”
Last week, that hasn’t been the case. After the stock soared to a record intraday high of US$387.46 (RM1,591) on Aug 7, it’s had its worst week since 2016, ending at US$305.50.
But at Musk’s companies, it’s largely business as usual. Tesla workers at the Fremont, California, assembly plant said they are focused on making cars, but they do have questions about how the go-private idea will affect the stock options that constitute a sizeable chunk of their compensation.
Earlier last week, the four astronauts who are counting on SpaceX to safely ferry them to and from the International Space Station spent time at the company’s Hawthorne, California, headquarters with employees. COO Gwynne Shotwell presided over the event, which Musk didn’t attend, at least while journalists were present. Musk is also the founder of the infrastructure start-up the Boring Co and Neuralink, which is developing brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers.
The Tesla board’s job has become increasingly complex this month. Last Tuesday, three directors announced they had formed a special committee to evaluate the not-yet-seen details of Musk’s go-private plan. The proposal appears tenuous, with one analyst putting the chance at less than 50%.
The committee has yet to announce which bank they have retained to act as a financial advisor. A US Securities and Exchange Commission probe into Musk’s tweet and other company statements is intensifying, with a subpoena already issued.
And unlike SpaceX, Tesla doesn’t have a COO or a clear No 2 in place. Musk told the Times he has no plans to give up his dual roles as chairman and CEO, but also said that “if you have anyone who can do a better job, please let me know. Is there someone who can do the job better? They can have the reins right now”.
Tesla’s communications team — which has spoken in turn on behalf of the company, the board and Musk himself — didn’t immediately comment on the Times story, the board’s activities or whether the company is actively looking for a COO. Tesla board members didn’t respond to several requests for comment; they often forward journalists’ inquiries to Tesla’s communications team.
The board of directors is on the lookout for senior talent but is not actively searching for a COO, a person familiar with the board’s thinking said late last Friday.
“Tesla’s board needs to think long and hard about their relationship with their CEO, as their own reputations are very much at risk. They are the last responsible party here, besides the US government,” said Charles Elson, director of the John L Weinberg Centre for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.
“The actions of the last few weeks have caused a crisis of confidence in Musk’s leadership. Tesla’s board is viewed as being very close to Musk, but they have legal and ethical obligations to shareholders besides him,” he said. — Bloomberg
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Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun confirmed today the release of two men detained over the alleged theft of a 23kg Radioactive Dispersal Device (RDD) worth RM75,000. — Picture by Hari Anggara
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 — Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun confirmed today the release of two men detained over the alleged theft of a 23kg Radioactive Dispersal Device (RDD) worth RM75,000.Mohamad Fuzi said both men, who were the employees of the company responsible for the transportation of the radioactive device, were released after they were picked up on August 11, a day after they lodged a police report into the device’s disappearance.“Both were remanded after their arrest and their statements have been taken before being released on the 17th,” he said after launching an anti-Aedes campaign in Bukit Aman.The New Straits Times (NST) reported today that the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) and the police were looking into the disappearance of the RDD after it went missing during its journey from Seremban, Negri Sembilan to Shah Alam, Selangor.The report said the two technicians were arrested over inconsistencies in their statements, but were released due to lack of evidence.The RDD is a non-nuclear industrial radiography equipment, but which contains the radioactive isotope Iridium-192 that emits beta and gamma radiation.The paper cited metallurgy expert Abd Nassir Ibrahim, managing director of Madani NDT Training Centre, as saying the equipment is used in various engineering projects, including the building and maintenance of power plants, chemical and petrochemical plants, and automobiles factories, but in the hands of terrorists, can be turned into a “dirty bomb”.MORE TO COME [...]
KUALA LUMPUR: The Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) has completed its 100-day mandate and a report containing its recommendations will be submitted to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad upon his return from China. [...]
Selangor police chief Datuk Mazlan Mansor shows how the drug mules operate during a press conference at IPK Selangor in Shah Alam, August 20, 2018. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
SHAH ALAM, Aug 20 — Police believe they have smashed another syndicate from smuggling drugs abroad after arresting eight carriers suspected to be “mules” at Terminal 2 of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (klia2) last week.Selangor police chief Commissioner Datuk Pahlawan Mazlan Mansor said police seized 76 packets of syabu worth RM675,994 from the suspects on August 11 and 15.“The suspects who were in possession of 13.52kg of syabu were detained as they were screened at the airport security checkpoints and while waiting for their flight.“During our search, we found the drug packages strapped to different parts of the suspects' body and stashed inside their baggages,” he said in a news conference today.Following the initial arrest, police raided the syndicate's “service centre” at a budget hotel in Petaling Jaya where preparations and planning were made to smuggle the drugs.Mazlan said the syndicate would usually strap the drug onto the suspects' legs and hid inside shoes worn by the suspects' to confuse authorities.“The syndicate would then advertise on social media by offering free holiday trips to victims whereby allowance are also provided throughout their stay with the condition that victim only needed to deliver 'gifts' overseas.“Should they accept the offer, they would be invited into groups in WeChat and our investigation also revealed the suspects' were aware of the drugs being smuggled,” he said.Initial investigations showed the suspects aged between 18 and 53 were headed to South Korea, with payments ranging between RM3,000 and RM9,000 for each successful return trip.“Our investigation does not stop here and we are still tracking down the remaining syndicate members including their network in Klang,” he said.Mazlan also said gang members were posing as security guards or sub-contractors of security companies for their drug activities.This follows after police picked up four local suspects aged between 21 and 41 believed to be members of Gang 21 in Klang Utara last Tuesday.Investigation revealed three of the suspects were security guards and one was a site supervisor for security.“We also worried that these unregistered individuals getting hired for 'protection' in an area to exert gang territory control,” he said. [...]
KUALA LUMPUR: A special fund is to be established for the socio-economic development of the Indian community with an initial allocation of RM4 billion for 10 years, the Dewan Negara was told today.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Senator P. Waytha Moorthy said the fund would be used to help develop members of the community, especially those from the B40 group.
"The government is desirous of continuing to raise the equity of the Indian community in the national economy. The initial allocation will be raised through contributions from the government, government-linked companies (GLCs) and the private sector," he said.
He was replying to a question from Senator Datuk M. Sambanthan who had wanted to know whether the government would increase the equity through the Malaysian Action Plan for the Indian Community (MIB) introduced by the previous government.
Waytha Moorthy said the government was reviewing all the programmes undertaken under the MIB and was trying to step up the efforts to improve the standard of living of the Indian community in the country. — Bernama [...]