LIMA 2017: A bigger and better show

JUST before the KAI T-50B aircraft of the Republic of Korea Air Force aerobatics team Black Eagles came roaring overhead, flying in from behind the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC), the excitable team commentator caused some of those in Langkawi to burst out in laughter.

Practically shouting into the microphone, the commentator tried to get those attending the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (Lima) 2017 exhibition to turn to the rear.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, dragging out the second syllable of the first word such as a circus ringmaster would do. “Please turn your attention to the back side!”

Some photographers nearly missed the shot they were waiting for. Such was the mirth that overcame them.

The faux pas of the commentator aside, the Black Eagles’s routine, performed at least once a day for visitors, was a sight to behold. Theirs was one of the highlights of Lima, along with the SU-30SM aircraft of the Russian Knights, the famed aerobatics team of the Russian Aerospace Forces. So were the Tentera Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Udara aerobatics team Jupiter and, of course, the SU-30MKM, F/A-18D Hornet and Pilatus PC-7 aircraft of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

The 14th edition of the Lima series of shows, in fact, was a great success. With a growth in taken-up exhibition space of about 40 per cent compared with Lima 2015, the show was already considered a success.

But, with the participation of the aerobatics teams, alongside the ever-present crowd favourites of our own RMAF aircraft and the sleek lines of the French Air Force’s Rafale, everything seemed to buzz just that little bit more, at least where the aerospace segment was concerned.

In fact, the show had the best of starts after it was declared opened by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who, as defence minister in 1991, was in charge of the first Lima. The opening gambit following Najib’s speech featured the different aircraft of the RMAF fleet in quite a spectacular show that ended in explosions set off to simulate the destruction of targets attacked by an EC725 helicopter.

As the crowd walked off the tarmac and into the MIEC compound, two senior United States Air Force (USAF) officers were overheard talking to each other about how impressed they were with the opening gambit.

“That was an intense show,” one said to the other, to which the second officer said it was the best he had ever seen.

In truth, there have been Lima opening gambits that were better than the one on March 21, but to hear two lieutenant-colonels of the USAF, or any air force for that matter, saying such things would be enough to cause any Malaysian’s heart to swell with pride.

If the air show at the aerospace segment was awe-inspiring, the boat demonstrations at the maritime segment were no less exciting. The gracing ceremony, in fact, was a show of force by the different marine forces at Malaysia’s beck and call should any situation requiring their intervention come about.

At the ceremony, special forces from the Royal Malaysian Navy, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and police, with a little help from the Marine, Customs and Fisheries Departments, freed several “hostages” from the clutches of “kidnappers”. The agencies’ specialised boats and helicopters were used in the demonstration, showing off the power that Malaysia can bring to bear on those intending to do no good in our waters.

But, the demonstrations at either segments of Lima, exciting though they may be, are but mere sideshows. Yes, some like the Rafale, Saab Gripen and Muhibbah Engineering’s CJ66 rigid-hull inflatable boat are meant to be shown off to potential customers. But these are the exceptions.

What matters in any show such as Lima is what goes on inside the exhibition centre. The companies that attend such shows are there to sell their products or find potential partners. And, this is exactly what went on at MIEC and the exhibition centre outside Resorts World Langkawi, where the maritime segment took place. The hustle and bustle at the exhibitors’ booths on the first three days of Lima 2017, when only trade visitors were allowed in, was proof that the show was a success in terms of business.

So, overall, Lima 2017 proved a good show. In such uncertain economic times, such a success has an even bigger significance. It was a sign that Lima is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

Kudos then to the Defence and Transport Ministries, which were the main ministries involved in the staging of Lima. Bouquets, too, to the Armed Forces, which provides the manpower for so big an event.

And, congratulations to EN Projects (M) Sdn Bhd. As the new organisers of the region’s biggest show of the sort, the company did a splendid job. Yes, there were some hiccups, but they were few and far between, and minor enough to be of no consequence.

LESLIE ANDRES has more than two decades of experience, much of which has been spent writing about crime and the military. A die-hard Red Devil, he can usually be found wearing a Manchester United jersey when outside of work.

Source : NST

From tourist guide Lada CEO

IF YOU need a guide to take you on your travels throughout Malaysia, I have just the person for you. He can answer all your questions as you go on your discovery tour.

His name is Azizan Noordin. Datuk Azizan Noordin, to be precise. He is the chief executive officer of the Langkawi Development Authority, a post he assumed in December last year.

I caught up with him last week, after the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition on the legendary island. I met him again a few days ago to listen to his amazing story.

Azizan retired as the deputy director general of Tourism Malaysia in November and assumed his new post less than one month after retirement. I suspect he wouldn’t have minded being told to pack his bags and go to Langkawi immediately. Such is his passion for tourism.

It was difficult not to feel excited as he shared his plans for Langkawi. Being a Kedahan, having been born in Kulim, Azizan has a strong affinity with the island of legends.

His story: “Yes, tourism is in my blood. Many people do not know this but I’m a qualified tourist guide. I’m trained as a tourist guide.

“You see, there’s a provision given to a civil servant to prepare himself for post-retirement when the retirement date gets near. I was asked if there was any course I wished to take so that I can be productive after my retirement.

“I took up a tourist guide course at Karisma Institute, one of the recognised training centres for such a profession. The course was for six months. I enrolled in an ongoing course.

“Some people felt strange that a very senior tourism officer would take such a course. I gave talks in tourism as a resource person. And then I applied to participate on such a course. Some people thought I was going out of my mind.

“But I’ve been a tourism person in my entire career as a civil servant. Enrolling in a tourist guide course was a natural thing to do for me. I didn’t feel odd at all.

“Little did I know then that I was going to be the head of Lada! Even though tourism is in my blood, there’s much to gain from acquiring new knowledge and skills.”

What do they teach tourist guides, I asked him.

“Well, there are quite a number of things to know, apart from the various laws and rules and regulations. We need to know about the etiquette of being a guide, which is very important.

“We also need to know what tourists want and what they are likely to ask. We must be ready to face all situations, good or bad. The exams are divided into three sections: oral, written and simulation.

“I remember my written test. I was the only candidate who asked for additional sheets of paper to write my answers. I have so much information and information is what tourists want.”

Now that he’s the CEO of Lada, Azizan feels that his additional credential as a qualified tourist guide can really come in handy. A tourist guide’s guiding philosophy is simple — be a Jack of all trades and master of all.

What are his plans for Langkawi, then?

The island celebrates 30 years of its duty-free status this year. Azizan started work soon after taking up office with reorganising Lada’s operations.

His plans involve three thrusts — tourism, investment and community.

These three sectors were just units within Lada, but they have since been expanded to become full-fledged divisions.

If Langkawi is to compete seriously with other well-known holiday islands, everyone on the island has to work hard and be prepared to help.

“That is why my plans involve every member of the community.

“For this year, I have scheduled 33 events involving the community directly. Lada and the community must be one.

“I have 35 other events being organised, such as an international fishing competition and a power boat race.

“I also want more engagement with young Malaysians — entrepreneurs, students and youth leaders. These young people, especially those from the Gen Y, are important. I want them to be involved in Langkawi’s development. I’m sure they have plenty of ideas.”

No doubt tourism is the biggest revenue earner for Langkawi. But it’s time for upgrading and upscaling.

“We want to see more world-class establishments and events here,” Azizan said.

Langkawi’s infrastructure may have been adequate to serve the island in the first 30 years. There are demands for more infrastructure, such as a medical specialist centre or a private hospital, an international school and high-end resorts to cater to high-net worth individuals frequenting the island.

Azizan is full of excitement when he talks about Langkawi. After an illustrious career in tourism promotion, this UiTM graduate now finds himself right at the top of an organisation where he can execute his plans and realise his dreams right down to the last detail.

I asked him what would he have done if he had not been picked to head Lada: “I am now a qualified tourist guide. I thought that I would put my new qualification to a test by being a real tourist guide.

“But Allah has other plans. I’m thankful that I get an opportunity to put all my 38 years of experience in tourism to good use here in Langkawi,” he said. All the best, Datuk Tourist Guide.


AHMAD A TALIB is the chairman of Yayasan Salam Malaysia.


Credit : NST