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Monday, December 28, 2015

FREEPORT A ' FAMOSA OUTLET VILLAGE IS OPENED FOR BUSINESS

A new shopping village is now opened at Alor Gajah, Melaka at end December 2015. Why not go there and check it out. Happy shopping.

Freeport A'Famosa Outlet Village

Freeport A'Famosa Outlet Village confirm tenants are:
1. Forever 21
2. Marks & Spencer
3. TCBY
4. Papparich
5. Starbucks
6. Dome Cafe
7. Burger King
8. Cotton On
9. PONEY
10. ONLY
11. Sacoor brothers
12. Nike Factory Store
13. CHAI Fashion

Maybe in the tenants list:
1. Salvatore Ferragamo
2. Aigner
3. Furla
4. Hugo Boss
5. Hush Puppies
6. Levi's
7. Michael Kors
8. ESPRIT





TOURISM TO PICK UP IN 2016

Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul AzizDatuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul AzizMELAKA: Malaysia are expecting 30.5 million tourists to contribute RM103 billion in revenue to the country next year said Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.
Nazri was confident that the target can be achieved through various programmes in the pipe line and the existing yearly events, including the festive season Open House practiced in Malaysia.
"The tourism industry and cultural activities is expanding at a tremendous pace with new approaches like Health Tourism, Education and Sports Tourism initiatives to attract tourists to historic destinations.
"For the Tourism and Culture Ministry, the open house concept is not only a yearly event for Christmas and New Year but aimed at boosting the tourism industry, especially in a historical state like Melaka," he said in his speech at the 2015 Malaysia Christmas Open House Celebration at Proclamation of Independence Memorial, Bandar Hilir, here Sunday night.
The celebration was kicked off by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and attended by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup and Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Idris Haron.
Mohamed Nazri said the uniqueness of Malaysia's diversity and culture were showcased through the Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 or MyFEST2015 which was themed 'Endless Celebrations'.
Meanwhile, Idris said Melaka registered 12.5 million tourist arrivals as of Oct 31, and hoped the figure would increase by end of the year.
"Yesterday I was informed that not less than 435,000 tourists had come to Melaka in two weeks. I believe activities like the Christmas Open house can further boost tourist arrivals to Melaka and hit the 16 million target next year," he said.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016

Merry Christmas and very Happy New Year 2016

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

NEW DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN MELAKA

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 14 (Bernama) -- Star Alloy Industries (M) Sdn Bhd, which is mainly involved in infrastructures, telecommunications and manufacturing, today inked two memorandum of understandings (MoUs) with two Melaka-based companies for development projects in Melaka.

The companies are Melaka Biotechnology Corp (MBC) (develop Melaka Biocity in Alor Gajah) and LIS Petroleum Sdn Bhd (develop Melaka Oil Storage Terminal (MOST) at Pulau Hanyut, about 20 km from Umbai.

Star Alloy Executive Chairman, Ken Leong Wai Kit, said Star Alloy will be "fully operational" in the Biocity.

"Research will be conducted here with regard to commercialising, marketing, advancing of technology in the field of toxicology, food technology, tissue culture, phytochemistry, molecular biology microbiology," he said after signing the MoUs on behalf of Star Alloy here Monday.

MBC was represented by its Chief Executive Officer, Badrul Hisham Badrudin, and LIS its Chief Executive Officer Fadzil Ismail.

Also present was Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron.

"On MOST, we have envisaged the very potentials of Melaka. It is a very important sea route destination," said Leong.

Leong said plans were under way to build a deep-sea port by Star Alloy and its allies, pending the greenlight by state and federal government.

Meanwhile, Idris said, he welcomed the signing of the two MoUs, and hoped the ground works would start soon.

"I hope the signing of MoUs is not just ceremonial. The Melaka state government is serious on the development," he said.

-- BERNAMA

Saturday, December 12, 2015

HANG TUAH WAS A WORLD TRAVELER

In Hikayat Hang Tuah, it stated the travels of Hang Tuah as an emissary of the Sultans of Melaka. Hang Tuah traveled to China, Okinawa, Annam, Java, Sri Lanka, India, Arabia, Egypt and also to Turkey under the Roman empire.
Below is a map showing the journeys of Hang Tuah.

FLOATING DEEP-SEA ENTREPOT FOR MELAKA

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Floating deep-sea entrepot to turn Malacca into nautical hub

 
MALACCA: The state will soon control the key waterway of the Straits of Malacca, which links shipping routes between Asia and Europe, with the construction of a floating deep-sea entrepot close to its shores.
A renowned public-listed foreign construction company has agreed to inject RM12bil for the first phase of the harbour facility. The entire multi-billion ringgit project that will be developed in three phases is expected to be fully completed by 2025.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said the first phase of the entrepot is expected to be completed by 2020 and the remaining phases within the following five years.
“The construction company is a giant and well-known globally, but I can’t divulge the details for now as it must come from the company itself,” he said recently.
The project materialised after China’s Guangdong province signed a memorandum of understanding on Sept 21 in Putrajaya on the establishment of a State and Provincial Friendship and Cooperation.
Guangdong has also pledged fiscal commitment to construct an international seaport to turn Malacca into a top nautical hub in this region and at par with Singapore.
Idris said the economic spin-off from the entrepot is anticipated to be great and the state will work on mechanisms to generate income for the state through sales of power and utility to the harbour facility.
“Apart from this, the state would also benefit from tourism when crew members of shipping companies visit when the ships dock here,” he said.
Idris noted that in a study compiled by the Nippon Maritime Centre using data from the Marine Department of Malaysia, 79,344 transits by vessels were recorded along the straits in 2014. On average, 217 vessels per day transited the waterway last year, up from 201 in 2011.
According to the report, container ships, bulk carriers and oil tankers traffic were the largest users of the Straits of Malacca.
China will also benefit from the offshore harbour facility as it would reduce the risk of tankers taking the Lombok Straits to reach South China Sea due to heavy traffic along the Straits of Malacca.
The vast majority of China’s oil imports pass through the Straits of Malacca, Lombok and Sunda maritime corridor.
A tiny portion of Pulau Panjang, located about four nautical miles from the coast of Pulau Melaka, has been earmarked for the floating entrepot that will link Europe and China.
The entire project will occupy a reclaimed area spanning 272.8ha, and a bridge will connect it to the existing Melaka Gateway project.
It is expected to overtake Singapore Ports as the busiest harbour.
The entrepot is a gift to Malacca from China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang, who expressed Chinese interest for its construction companies to construct the proposed harbour, with facilities to transfer oil and cargo to other ships and to the mainland through underwater pipelines.
Li, who visited Malacca in November, was impressed with the harmony and diversity and has encouraged more China companies to invest in the state.
Idris said four reputable Chinese construction companies are in the run to construct the floating entrepot.
He said the man-made structure will shelter a vessel from wind, waves, and currents, thus enabling safe anchorage including loading of cargo.
“It would be an architectural wonder and engineering marvel , as the port will be supported by underwater beams and its length could accommodate the landing of an Airbus A320,” said Idris.
He said the Malaysian Maritime Agencies and Malacca Port Authority will fully manage the entrepot.
Floating deep-sea entrepot to turn Malacca into top nautical hub

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

MAMEE JONKER HOUSE

Mamee Jonker House at Unesco Heritage site costs RM5mil to renovate

Mohd Khalil (second from left) and Pang Tee Chew (left) at the Mamee Jonker House in Malacca.
Mohd Khalil (second from left) and Pang Tee Chew (left) at the Mamee Jonker House in Malacca.
 
MALACCA: Popular snack company Mamee Double-Decker has converted a heritage Dutch colonial building at Jalan Hang Jebat here into a unique retail and beverage outlet.
The Mamee Jonker House (MJH) cost RM5mil to renovate and is located in the middle of the Unesco Heritage site.
MJH director Kelly Lim said Mamee decided to provide a cosy outlet with Dutch architecture for its customers when the company decided to buy the 17th century structure in 2013.
“This is a fun-filled site for all our customers. There is also a section for children to make instant noodles and a merchandise store,” she said after the launching of MJH recently.
Malacca governor Tun Mohd Khalil Yakoob surprised everyone when he, too, came to enjoy a meal at MJH.
Mohd Khalil later presented electronic gadgets and hampers to members of the media from Kuala Lumpur and here during a lucky draw.
Mamee Double-Deckercelebrated its 45th anniversary with MJH as its new attraction.
The food and beverage company was founded in 1971 when the now executive chairman Datuk Pang Chin Hin started to produce dried noodles and vermicelli together with eldest son Tan Sri Pang Tee Chew in Ayer Keroh Industrial Park.
The company grew from a small business to a conglomerate.
Mamee Double-Decker was eventually incorporated in 1991 and became a public listed company on Bursa Malaysia.
The company then set up plants across Malaysia and presently employs 2,000 staff and will soon be expanding to Myanmar, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia

ZOO MELAKA TO BE UPGRADED

Melaka Zoo Is In Upgrades To Increase The Tourist Arrival - Management Company


MELAKA, Nov 30 (Bernama) -- The Melaka Zoo and Night Safari is currently being upgraded in order to attract more visitors, said KAJ Group of Hospitality Chief Executive Officer Seow Cheng Swee.

He said besides upgrading the facilities and doing refurbishment work, they were also planning to bring in new animals to woo more visitors to the zoo.

Speaking to Bernama here, he said they had brought in the antelope species known as Waterbuck from South Africa since last September and hoped that the animal will be a new attraction for the visitors.

"This is the first Waterbuck brought into Malaysia, and we are planning to bring in the other species of antelope, known as Kudu, next year," he said.

Meanwhile, Seow said the upgrading works had begun since the company started to manage the zoo in 2013.

However, the process would take a long time because it would be implemented in stages, he said.

"The renovation works will also be focusing on animal cages which are 50 years old and about two to three months are needed to renovate each cage," he added.

-- BERNAMA

Sunday, December 6, 2015

HANG TUAH MET DA VINCI?

Did Hang Tuah meet Leonardo da Vinci? 

5 DECEMBER 2015 @ 5:29 PM BY MOHD NASIF BADRUDDIN KUALA LUMPUR: 

Could famed Renaissance painter and polymath Leonardo da Vinci have met legendary Malay warrior Hang Tuah between 1503 and 1506? 

This was the tantalising possibility unearthed by researchers from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, a compilation the Italian master’s writings and sketches. 

Local researchers are now poring over manuscripts, and may soon seek the help of their European counterparts to ascertain the identity of a Malaccan noble who da Vinci wrote about. In the notes, da Vinci wrote, “I sketched a vehicle after meeting a Malaccan noble”. However, the word after that was unclear. 

There is a possibility that they met, as both men lived during the same era — da Vinci and Hang Tuah were born in 1452 and 1431 respectively. The exact time and place of the encounter between da Vinci and Hang Tuah is still uncertain, but both men were at the height of their reputations. 

Da Vinci was a noted painter and highly regarded as a military engineer, while Hang Tuah was sent by the Sultan of Malacca on several overseas missions, including Turkey. 

This finding was revealed by Dr Rohaidah Kamaruddin, a senior lecturer at the Malay Language Department, Modern Language and Communications Faculty, University Putra Malaysia. She presented her research at the “Wacana Manuskrip Melayu, Hang Tuah: Daripada Mitos Kepada Fakta Sejarah” event at Wisma Sejarah here recently. 

UPM’s professor of Malay Linguistics, Prof Emeritus Dr Hashim Musa also presented a paper at the event. Dr Rohaidah said da Vinci’s notes indicated that Hang Tuah may have existed. 

She said this was because Hang Tuah was mentioned by a foreign writer, and not in accounts in local books Hikayat Hang Tuah and Sulalatus Salatin (Malay Annals). 

Dr Rohaidah said she had tried to verify the contents of the two historical books through material available overseas. She said such material often contained dates of important events, unlike olden Malay books that placed no importance on dates, but only on what had transpired. 

However, she said the facts contained in the latest discovery could not yet be ascertained, and that she needed to conduct further research, as well as meeting historians to pore over old manuscripts in Spain or Portugal. 

Dr Rohaidah said she was told by a reliable source that Hang Tuah was mentioned by da Vinci, indicating that Hang Tuah was a Malacca Sultanate diplomat sent to various countries. 

Meanwhile, Hashim said there were 22 books by scholars that described Hang Tuah as intelligent, masculine and brave, besides being able to converse in several languages. “A personal note by the Portuguese conqueror Afonso de Albuquerque mentioned that during the conquest of Malacca in 1511, an elderly 80-year-old man with great reputation and knowledge emigrated to Temasik (now Singapore) after the fall of Malacca,” he said. 

Both UPM lecturers co-authored a book, Hang Tuah: Catatan Okinawa that posits the existence of Hang Tuah through research done in Okinawa, Japan, with the help of the Japanese Education Ministry. 

The discovery of a curved kris without its hilt and sheath at the Enkakuji Shuriji temple, located near the Shuriji castle, is solid evidence of the good relations between Malacca and Japan in the past. The kris, which has nine “waves” or curves, is usually presented by the Malacca Sultanate to other governments, while blades with fewer curves are gifted to individuals. 

The discovery of a letter sent by Hang Tuah to the emperor of the Ryukyu Kingdom between 1480 and 1481 is also evidence of good relations between the Malacca Sultanate and Japan. 

Diplomatic relations between the Malacca Sultanate and the Ryukyu Kingdom (in modern-day Okinawa) was clearly stated in the “Rekidai Hoan”, a historical document verified by scholars. 

The document also described Hang Tuah as a person who commanded great influence internationally, as well as a Malaccan diplomat who travelled to India, Turkey and Pattani.

Selanjutnya di : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/115660/did-hang-tuah-meet-leonardo-da-vinci?m=1

Friday, November 27, 2015

REGISTERED MELAKA BASED TOUR GUIDE

Mr. Low who is a registered tour guide based in Melaka has agreed to be part of our team at Tourism Melaka to promote Melaka to visitors. He is an English speaking tour guide.
Mr.Low has been tour guiding tourists from Star cruise ships into Melaka from Singapore which ply into Melaka fortnightly.

Mr. Low can provide private tours to tourists in groups or in smaller groups.
His services are available on demand and can be contacted at lowkianchye@gmail.com or on his mobile at +6012-2091187.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

NEW COASTAL FROM LIMBONGAN TO KLEBANG BESAR

A 4 lane coastal road is opened from Limbongan to Klebang Besar.


Monday, November 23, 2015

NEW ROAD WORKS AROUND MELAKA

They are going to build a flyover at Perringgit Point Traffic light and widen the road from GH to Sirim and Manipal Collage. 

Another flyover will be built at MITC traffic light. 

Two more flyovers are to be built at Pantai Hospital traffic light and Bukit Baru waterfall traffic light.

When all these flyovers are completed, the road from Ayer Keroh toll to GH will be  a 6 lane highway. This will solve the traffic jam problem especially during the weekends.

At the same time, a new coastal road from Limbongan to Klebang has opened to traffic. Less jam from Limbongan to Klebang now. Hopefully, in the future, this coastal road will link to Port Dickson.

HERITAGE CITY STATUS - A GAIN OR A CURSE

November 23, 2015 11:00 am JST
Sustainable tourism

Melaka highlights pros and cons of World Heritage listing


Tourists take a picture in front of the popular A' Famosa in Malaysia's historical town of Malacca. © Reuters
BANGKOK -- Arguably, no city in Asia is more evocative of the meeting of East and West than Malaysia's Melaka, also known as Malacca -- founding principality of the Malay peninsula, coveted and conquered by numerous European powers for its location on the strategic shipping lane of the Malacca Straits. But since 2008, when Melaka was designated a Unesco World Heritage site in a joint bid with George Town, in Penang state, the fragile outpost has succumbed to more modern foes: a surge in tourism from 7.5 million visitors annually to more than 12 million, a steep rise in property values and rents, and the construction of towering hotels, malls and new towns teeming with high-rises around its periphery.
     "Before the inception of Unesco World Heritage, our town was rustic and unpretentious, full of unique flavors, hybrid races, the smell of incense, wood houses, the muddy river, the sounds of craftsmen at work," said Bert Tan, head of the local Malaysian History and Heritage Club, and a resident of Melaka. "But World Heritage status has changed Melaka from a quiet community to the monstrosity of tourist commercialism and business. Old traders have been replaced by fancy bars and hotels. We have cartoon heritage, monstrous mega-projects, Hello Kitty buildings."
     Melissa Chan, curator of the historic Baba Nyonya House, noted: "The positive impact of World Heritage status has been an increase in visitors to Melaka. However, it seems to attract visitors who come primarily for the entertainment
value rather than the appreciation of a heritage town." Chan added, "There definitely isn't enough effective check-and-balance on new development projects. By the time the community knows about a pending development, it is too late and foundation work has already started.
     The World Heritage program, launched in 1972 and run by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, was meant to safeguard the obviously great achievements of humanity -- "the 100 or so landmarks like the Pyramids [in Egypt]," explained Unesco program officer Montira Horayangura Unakul. But it has now expanded to include more than 1,000 sites around the globe. With hundreds more clamoring to win similar recognition (China and India have each proposed around 50 candidates), Montira acknowledged an ongoing debate within the U.N. about the program's reach.
     Unesco officials argue that World Heritage status helps focus outside funding, attention and the aid of world-class specialists on preserving endangered cultural patrimony. But in 2008, a "process of reflection" about the future of the World Heritage Convention, an international agreement on the protection of natural and cultural heritage sites, was approved to facilitate discussion of issues such as geographic balance and a possible narrowing of the criteria for selection.
Help and protection
The program can boast many successes, such as designation this year of the first
World Heritage site in Myanmar -- the so-called Pyu Cities, abandoned ruins of the cradle of Burmese civilization, which desperately need renovation, study and
robust safeguards. There are also many other sites that are crying out for help and protection, such as Chandigarh, the capital of the Punjab, India, which was planned by the great architect Le Corbusier. While it awaits World Heritage designation, as part of a worldwide bid for many Le Corbusier works, Chandigarh's magnificent state buildings suffer from a poor state of maintenance.
     However, even a casual survey of the World Heritage program's impact in Asia shows that it can be a double-edged sword. Nearly everywhere, the global branding that accompanies designation spurs a growth in tourism and investment, often leading to the cultural dilution or destruction of the communities it seeks to preserve.
     In Melaka, "people have been driven out as the housing market has skyrocketed," said Ee Soon Wei, heir to the 19th-century Royal Press, a printing house that is now a museum and has become a major icon of restoration within Melaka's Old City. Residential market prices rose by 10% last year and the cost of terraced houses has increased by just over 50% since 2010. "There's no regulation of speculators, and the highest bidders win. There's no aesthetic, no feeling for the past," said Ee. "Where's the governance? Who is accountable?"
     Lijiang, in China's Yunnan Province, was a tiny, traditional mountain hamlet, interlaced with clear waters flowing in stone canals -- until, marketed as the real "Shangri-La," it became flooded with 4 million Chinese tourists in the first year after receiving its World Heritage listing. Almost overnight, the canals were lined with restaurants and tacky souvenir shops.
     The glittering temples and surrounding scenery of Luang Prabang, ancient capital of Laos, also saw a huge increase in tourism after it won World Heritage status in 1995. While temples and antiquities are well tended, the modern town has been made more uniform by a proliferation of hotels conforming to a "Unesco-approved" design.
     Major monuments of the historic, British-built center of George Town, on Penang Island, are now protected. But here, too, longtime preservation advocates such as Clifford Liang, head of the Penang Heritage Trust, complain about the dominance of tourist priorities. Garish hotels have helped to fund the expensive restoration of traditional shop houses, but have also led to the gradual disappearance of inner-city residents and their traditional way of life. "Most of the older generation has vanished," said Liang. "It seems the only model of preservation is painting up old buildings until they are moneymakers."
     Pierpaolo De Giosa, an Italian anthropologist who wrote a thesis on the inhabitants of Melaka's core World Heritage zone, noted, "While the UNESCO World Heritage program claims to empower local communities, the latter are not really empowered -- since the only way to nominate a site for World Heritage is through each nation-state." While countries make the case for selection, local authorities often end up charged with the task of supervising and maintaining the sites.
     In Melaka, "the repeal of the Rent Control Act means many residents of the World Heritage area have left," said De Giosa. "And it does not make any sense to preserve buildings if the local inhabitants are displaced by processes of commercialization, gentrification and so on."
Mundane condominiums
Meanwhile, the small historic core of the city has become overwhelmed by surrounding modernization, proceeding seemingly without limits. "Heritage villages and the old Portuguese settlement, the habitats of coastal fishermen, are all being surrounded by new high-rises," said De Giosa. Mundane condominiums now line the once-atmospheric banks of the Melaka River.
     Singapore's Hatten Group has become a major shaper of the city's landscape, with its Hatten Hotel and Square megamall covering more than 1 million sq. meters. A new project will add a 45-storey tower, two hotels, eight floors of retail space, a theater and a "Time Tunnel" featuring miniature replicas of Melaka's historic sites. In a statement, Hatten chief executive Colin Tan remarked, "In order to maintain our historical relics, we need to boost and sustain tourism."
     Many of the issues arising from World Heritage status are beyond Unesco's legal reach. As a consultative entity, it cannot use the force of law to coerce local or national governments into abiding by certain practices. Its main leverage is to label sites as "in danger" or, in extreme cases, to remove the World Heritage designation. However, only two locations have been delisted in the history of the program, and both were natural refuges whose integrity as environmental sanctuaries had been undermined. Of the 48 sites currently listed as "in danger" of being seriously damaged or destroyed, the only entry in Asia is the Sumatran rainforest.
     Along Melaka's historic Jonker Street, neon signs and billboards aimed at tourists provide a jarring contrast to the restored traditional shop houses on whose roofs they sit. Soon, the problems of over-development may worsen as direct flights to the city begin from Guangzhou, China, adding hordes of tourists on package tours to the existing visitor burden, much of which arrives from Singapore.
     In an effort to fight back, Chan and Tan helped to mount an exhibition (New Old Malacca, Nov. 27-Dec 31, Daily Fix, 55 Jonker Street) at a local gallery, in Chan's view to "create awareness that the soul of Melaka is getting lost." Even when it comes to economics, she noted, "if a heritage city loses its unique identity, it becomes another generic 'me-too' and loses its value."
     Chan and others can only continue to apply pressure on local authorities and developers to stop the relentless trend toward commercialization. Said De Giosa, "World Heritage status is for most Malaysians a source of pride. But I would say that it is a blessing but at the same time a curse."

Sunday, November 22, 2015

CHINESE PM VISITS MELAKA


Spotlight: Chinese premier visits Malacca to send message of peace amid U.S. meddling in South China Sea

English.news.cn 2015-11-23 06:10:08
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (2nd L, front) interacts with old friends and representatives of local people at San Shu Gong specialty shop in Malacca, Malaysia, Nov. 22, 2015. Li, accompanied by his wife Cheng Hong, visited Malacca on Sunday. (Xinhua/Li Tao)
by Xinhua Writers Quan Xiaoshu, Shang Jun
MALACCA, Malaysia, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday squeezed several hours out of his tight schedule in Malaysia to visit Malacca, a port city about two hours' drive from Kuala Lumpur.
The tour, quite distinctive in an itinerary crammed with multilateral and bilateral meetings, featured a diversity of activities from visiting museums to chatting with local folks.
However, it was well beyond a regular travel to get to know the local customs and conditions. More importantly, it was an explicit gesture of China's commitment to peaceful development and common prosperity in East Asia.
China has been playing a leading role in promoting all types of regional cooperation and integration, as the premier demonstrated in the 18th ASEAN-China (10+1) leaders' meeting, the 18th ASEAN-China, Japan andSouth Korea (10+3) leaders' meeting, and the 10th East Asia Summit.
He pledged to offer loans totaling 10 billion U.S. dollars for ASEAN infrastructure as well as free assistance worth 3.6 billion yuan (around 563 million U.S. dollars) to underdeveloped ASEAN nations in 2016.
He also called on China and ASEAN to speed up the upgrade of their free trade area (FTA), and conclude the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by 2016.
Although most of the nations in the region aspire for closer ties with China, a few countries have been hyping up "China threat" theories and wrongfully accusing China of bullying its neighbors.
Hegemony is never within China's culture and policy, as proved by ancient Chinese navigator Zheng He's great expeditionary voyages during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Li reiterated the message during his stay in Malaysia.
Li made a particular stop at Zheng He Museum in Malacca, a place to commemorate the erstwhile intercontinental voyager, who is also believed to be the initiator of the ancient Maritime Silk Road.
Starting his expeditions more than eight decades earlier than Christopher Columbus, Zheng made seven sea voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and East Africa from 1405 to 1433, and brought silk, tea and chinaware either as commodities or as gifts to the local people wherever he traveled.
Historical records revealed that Zheng visited Malacca for at least five times, and deepened the friendly exchanges between China and Malaysia in a significant way. Actually, he remains widely admired today for bringing nothing but friendship and prosperity to the places on the route with his big fleets.
However, maritime disputes have been simmering in recent years in the sea area where Chinese ancestors used to sail around. TheUnited States, with its high-profile strategy of rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, is meddling in regional affairs and stoking tensions.
Prior to the meetings, U.S. President Barack Obama labeled the South China Sea as "a major topic," and U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice dubbed it "a central issue of discussion."
Last month, Washington infuriated China and alarmed the region by sailing a naval vessel very close to China's Nansha Islands in the South China Sea.
Earlier Sunday, before he went to Malacca, Li urged countries from outside the region to play a positive and constructive role and refrain from taking actions that may cause tension in this region.
In a five-pronged proposal for peace and stability in the South China Sea, he also suggested that sovereign and jurisdictional disputes in the region be settled through friendly consultation and negotiation.
"Only by expanding our common interests and seeking common ground can we narrow our differences," he told ASEAN nations in an earlier meeting.
SPIRIT PASSED DOWN FOR CENTURIES
Six months before Li's visit to Malacca, Zhai Mo, a well-known Chinese navigator, also made a stop at the famous port city while leading his fleet of unpowered sailboats to retrace the ancient Maritime Silk Road in a bid to pass down Zheng's spirit.
They encountered heavy rain at the Strait of Malacca. "The sea water turned into dark green in the storm, and we approached the shore in rafts," Zhai said while recalling his first landing on Malacca.
"What struck me most is the sharp contrast -- how small the strait is and how huge Zheng He's fleets would have appeared," Zhai said.
Zhai could not even find a proper berth to anchor his boat, which has a draught of only 2.5 meters. It is just beyond his imagination how Zheng's hundreds of vessels and some 28,000 boatmen on board managed to swarm into the strait 600 years ago.
Looking around the exhibits, including boat models and porcelain remains said to be excavated from an ancient warehouse left by Zheng, the premier said he believes it was also the sharp contrast between what Zheng's powerful fleets could have done and what he actually did that won him the everlasting reputation.
As the museum displays, Zheng asked his people to help local soldiers and civilians build city walls, drive away pirates, settle conflicts and keep peace at sea in Malacca. They also passed agricultural and manufacturing technologies and medical skills to the local people.
Commanding the largest and most advanced fleets in his time, Zheng did not bring hostility and conflicts. That embodies the very essence of the traditional Chinese philosophy, where peace and good-neighborliness always come first, Li noted.
Following this spirit, China's development today will never sacrifice the interests of other countries and will always pursue mutual benefit and common development of all its partners, he said, stressing that China is willing to solve maritime disputes through negotiations and dialogues.
Another of Zheng's legacies lies in the bloodline of a very special community in Malaysia -- Baba and Nyonya. They are descendants of Zheng's followers who decided to stay and married the local residents between the 15th and 17th centuries.
In Malacca, Li also visited a museum about these natives of mixed blood, who have inherited both Chinese and Malaysian traditions and formed their own cultures in food, clothes, chinaware and building.
The Baba and Nyonya community is "a vivid example of the friendly exchanges and cultural blending between the two countries," Li said. "They also showcase the openness and tolerance of Zheng He's spirit, which allows different ethnic groups, cultures and religions to live in harmony."
"Learning from the history, we shall further promote cultural exchanges between China and Malaysia," he said.
FUTURE CARRIED BY NEW INITIATIVE
The premier, who also met with the Malacca governor and inspected a miniature of an industrial park, did not come here only to recall the past glory.
Malacca, located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, not only plays a critical role in China-Malaysia friendship since ancient times, but also stands at a key point along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which is part of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinpingin 2013.
In an early step to put the initiative into action, the Malacca State established a friendly partnership with South China's Guangdong Province in September, and the industrial park is a major project currently under construction by companies from both sides.
Listening attentively to the introduction about the industrial park, Li said he is pleased to know that Malacca has worked out detailed planning for the project and launched a series of preferential policies.
"The industrial park, with distinct geographical advantages and vast development prospects, will not only stimulate the local economy, but also boost a cluster of industries and promote practical cooperation between China and Malaysia," Li said.
The park was associated with the grand Malacca Gateway project. After China put forward the Belt and Road Initiative, which also comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt, the Malaysian government has decided to expand it as an active response to the proposal.
The project, covering more than 610 acres with two man-made islands and a natural one, was originally planned to comprise a cruise ship port, a service department, hotels and theme parks to invigorate the tourism and service industries.
After the expansion, it will turn into a center of tourism, logistics and high-tech marine industries, with a deep sea port, a ship yard and a duty-free trade zone added to the construction list.
More than 300,000 ships pass through Malacca every year, but due to a lack of related facilities, these ships have to wait for a long time to be served, which shows the urgency to build a new seaport terminal, Idris Haron, chief minister of Malacca State, once explained.
Haron said he had met more than 50 delegations, most of which came from Guangdong, since he took office about two and a half years ago, and he had visited China for at least seven times for the purpose of promoting cooperation.
The Chinese premier, who will hold talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday, said he hopes that what is going on in Malacca serves as an example for future bilateral cooperation and for the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative among Southeast Asian countries.
The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, covering a population of 4.4 billion people, will connect markets along its route and produce enormous economic potential.
"I hope the initiative will bring more markets and jobs to the local people and enterprises in Malacca," Haron said.
That is exactly what it is meant to do.
"China's development will first benefit its neighbors, including Malaysia, and I expect that everyone can seize the opportunity to contribute to the friendship and common development between China and ASEAN nations," Li said.
(Qu Ting and Zhao Bochao also contributed to the story.)