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LATest e-bulletin April '23

In this issue: ① Flying Butter ② The Humanism of Malaysian Contradictions ③ No More Mandatory Death Penalty ④ Fares High in the Sky ⑤ Riau Now ⑥ So Many Good Reasons to Work with LAT ⑦ Telemedicine ⑧ Of Lounges ⑨ Of Instagrammable Interest ⑩ and Theme Parks (we can’t get enough of them)

Flying Butter

In Malaysia rights groups and urbanised middle classed – fed up with the sense of confusion induced by ill thought, random, illiberal and arbitrary rules – are calling the government hypocritical and insincere for praising compliments on Michelle Yeoh’s Oscar win for best actress for the movie “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” amid an ongoing probe into the locally produced film, “Mentega Terbang” (Flying Butter).

It is widely perceived as intellectually dishonest for government leaders and FINAS (National Film Development Corporation Malaysia) to sing praises for Michelle Yeoh’s win while hardworking local film producers and actors are subjected to harassment and criminal investigations over the content of their films. Were Michelle Yeoh’s movie shot in Malaysia, would have it led to a criminal investigation for offending sentiments or breach of religious sensitivity due to the LGBT themes in it? Would have Yeoh been hauled up for police questioning as it is now being done to the “Mentega Terbang” actors? The question posed to the elites of confused paths have naturally no answers for that.

It is rather distasteful and ironic for the government to now ride on the coattails of Yeoh’s Oscar win and begs the question of whether now the government will now withdraw or repent their repressive actions against locally produced movies such as “Mentega Terbang” and “Pulau”. Will they at least now stop kowtowing to the moral policing of zealots and give Malaysian artists and producers the necessary liberty to create quality movies, paintings, books and art in general for a population rightfully aspiring to a dignified intellectual national discourse?

On the other hand, more good news surface from the depth of the Malaysian parliament, underlining the struggle of all Malaysians trying to move forward with history and join the community of advanced democratic and liberal societies. In fact, lawmakers passed bills to repeal the mandatory death penalty and abolish life imprisonment, as Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's government puts in place legal and institutional reforms. The bills, tabled to parliament in March, will remove the mandatory death penalty on 11 offences, including kidnapping and drug trafficking, and give discretionary powers to courts in offences that result in death. They will also replace life sentences with imprisonment of 30 to 40 years.

The normality of life is finally back, and the demand for travel remains strong. We have experienced stellar 1Q and 2Q and look forward positively at the performance for the whole year. While the hospitality industry and tourism sector operators have resumed their business full steam, competing and providing services at competitive prices, the aviation industry seem to be enjoying the moment of scarce capacity and expensive air fares.

In a candid interview the Lufthansa CEO told analysts the carrier wouldn’t rush to add more aircraft capacity despite surging passenger demand. Why? Because those airfares everyone is paying “are just too much fun.” Lufthansa isn’t the only airline executive sounding exuberant about soaring ticket prices. Leisure travel demand is off the charts despite the continuing threat of Covid-19, and US and European airlines are either unwilling or unable to increase capacity sufficiently. And guess what? These advantageous conditions for airlines look set to continue for years.

Riau Now

The Riau Islands is a province of Indonesia. It comprises a total of 1,796 islands scattered between Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, and Borneo including the Riau Archipelago. Situated on one of the world's busiest shipping lanes along the Malacca Strait and the South China Sea, the province shares water borders with neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei. The Riau Islands also have relatively large potential mineral resources and energy, as well as marine resources. The capital of the province is Tanjung Pinang and the largest city is Batam.

The Riau archipelago was once part of the Johor Sultanate, which was later partitioned between the Dutch East Indies and British Malaya after the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, in which the archipelago fell under Dutch influence. A Dutch protectorate, the Riau-Lingga Sultanate, was established in the region between 1824 and 1911 before being directly ruled by the Dutch East Indies. The archipelago became a part of Indonesia following the occupation of the Japanese Empire (1942–1945) and the Indonesian National Revolution (1945–1949). The Riau Islands separated from the province of Riau in September 2002, becoming Indonesia's third-youngest province.

A free trade zone of the Indonesia–Malaysia–Singapore Growth Triangle, the Riau Islands has experienced rapid industrialisation since the 1970s. The Riau Islands is one of the country's most prosperous provinces, having a GDP per capita of Rp 72,571,750 (US$8,300.82) as of 2011, the fourth highest among all provinces in Indonesia after East Kalimantan, Jakarta and Riau. In addition, as of 2018, the Riau Islands has a Human Development Index of 0.748, also the fourth highest among all provinces in Indonesia after Jakarta, Special Region of Yogyakarta and East Kalimantan.

The population of the Riau Islands is heterogeneous and is highly diverse in ethnicity, culture, language, and religion. The province is home to different ethnic groups such as the Malays, Tionghoa, Javanese, Minangkabau and others. Economic rise in the region has attracted many immigrants and labours from other parts of Indonesia. The area around Batam is also home to many expatriates from different countries. Approximately 80% of these are from other Asian countries, with most of the westerners coming from the United Kingdom, rest of Europe, as well as Australia and the United States. The province also has the second largest number of foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia, after Bali.

Visit Riau with our tours and combinations with Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore. Click here for more information.

So Many Good Reasons to Work with LAT

Established in 1991

Independently owned and operated

Purely B2B with travel industry partners

Online booking engine with immediate

confirmation of hotels, tours and transfers

Skilful Contents Provider and Technology user

Knowledgeable and efficient reservations personnel

Long and proud association with the MICE industry in all Lotus destinations

Fully committed to Sustainability and CSR; ‘Travelife’ partner

Carbon Neutrality for all packages and services on offer

Extensive selection of scheduled group departures and innovative product lines

Direct access to a vast pool of local professional contributors

Owns small boutique island hotels strategically located

LAT Indochina subsidiary operating in Thailand and Vietnam

Multilingual guides in all destinations

Operations offices throughout its destinations

Centralised bookings and payments for multi destination tours

Assistance in language



Indonesia's combination of urban sprawl in the capital Jakarta and vast archipelagic geography in a country of more than 270 million people has long contributed to difficulty accessing health care fast and efficiently. But in recent years, companies offering telemedicine services are helping ease those challenges. App-based consultations are also becoming popular in other Southeast Asian countries, spurred by increasing demand for health care and a shortage of doctors in a region approaching 700 million people. Increasing smartphone use has allowed Southeast Asians to experience the convenience of on-demand app services in ride-hailing, food delivery, e-commerce and a range of other businesses, a trend accelerated by COVID. Telehealth is no exception. Regional peers are now moving beyond the basics and even delivering medicines as they compete for more of the growing market. Telemedicine is also helping health care systems in Southeast Asia cope as the number of doctors in some countries is not keeping pace with the region's rising populations and demand for medical services. Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, had 6.95 physicians per 10,000 people in 2021, below the 9.28 in Thailand in 2020 and 7.51 in Myanmar in 2019, according to the World Health Organisation. At the other end of the scale, there were 35.55 physicians per 10,000 people in the U.S. as of 2020 and 26.14 in Japan. In China, the figure was 23.87 in 2020. According to the WHO's global health expenditure database, Indonesia's health expenditure came to $36 billion in 2020, up 71% from 2010, while Thailand's nearly doubled to $22 billion during the same period. Medical spending in other Southeast Asian countries has also increased dramatically. Despite the benefits of digital-based health services, such as helping governments analyse health data and making access to medical services easy and efficient via a single mobile app, these services very convenience comes with data risk.


Of Lounges

Plaza Premium Group unveiled its brand-new combo lounge at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Terminal 1 recently, combining both The Plaza Premium First and the Plaza Premium Lounge under one roof. KLIA is the second airport to feature this new combo lounge concept, almost three months after Plaza Premium Group first introduced it at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta Airport last December.

Of Instagrammable Interest

Singapore records the top spot of the Babylon tower of the most Instagramable places in the world, therefore it is no surprise that it is also home to some of the most picture-worthy cafes, less the poets in them.

and Theme Parks (we can't get enough of them)

Sim Leisure Group is expanding its Escape brand in Malaysia with a new 48.5-hectare outdoor adventure park in Ipoh opening in 4Q2023 and Escape Cameron Highlands, set to debut in 2024. The company is also in negotiations with developers, landowners and mall owners for new sites to expand its Escape brand in Klang Valley. Its flagship outdoor retro-eco theme park, Escape Penang, is in its 11th year of operations and recently introduced two new attractions – Malaysia’s first Ski Slope and the Dead Sea Pool, where visitors can float similar to Jordan’s Dead Sea. How to live without that! Kudos to Sim Leisure, for its long term sustainable contribution to Malaysian tourism and development.


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