Kuala Lumpur mandates WiFi in all restaurants and bars

kuala lumpur wifiThanks to a new law, visitors to Malaysia‘s capital city of Kuala Lumpur will be able to enjoy WiFi in all local restaurants and bars starting in April.

The New Straits Times reports that the law, passed yesterday, will make it mandatory for restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, and clubs larger than 120 square meters in area to offer wireless Internet services free of charge, or for a reasonable fee. Kuala Lumpur’s city council intends to extend the requirement to public food courts, or hawker centers, later in the year.

While the law will certainly cement Kuala Lumpur’s reputation as one of the most connected cities in Southeast Asia, one has to wonder how the proliferation of WiFi will affect the dining experience, especially for travelers. It’d be a shame to be distracted from Malaysia’s mind-blowing cuisine by email and Facebook.

[Via The Next Web Asia; Flickr image via the trial]

More people traveling to Malaysia to go under the knife

One type of tourism has managed to thrive despite the poor global economy. The prevalence of medical tourism is on the rise in countries like India and Malaysia.

Think that it is a little extreme to go under the knife abroad? Consider this: depending on the procedure, surgery in Malaysia can cost half of what it does in the US or UK. Many doctors in Malaysia are foreign trained and facilities are world-class. The rate of patient infection at clinics and hospitals in Malaysia is much less than it is in the UK.

Last year 341,288 foreign patients came to Malaysia for its medical services. Projections show a 30% increase each year over the next several years.

Who are these medical refugees? People without insurance, people whose insurance won’t cover a procedure, or those who want surgery for cosmetic purposes. In countries with socialized medical care, the wait list can be several years long. In Malaysia, minor surgery can be arranged and performed in a day or two. If health care costs in the west continue to rise, look for Malaysia’s medical tourism industry to grow with it.

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When karaoke turns deadly

Karaoke is deadly. Deadly boring. That is, unless you happen to be quite drunk or with someone you are physically attracted to. I’ve never gone out to find a place to sing karaoke. But I have spent a lot of time in East Asia, where karaoke seems to seek you out. I’ve witnessed some violence as a result of the sing-along phenomenon. Usually, it stems from “you took my beer” rather than “hand over the mic.” Come to think of it, people get the most agitated when someone doesn’t sing, rather than when they sing too much.

But that wasn’t the case in Sandakan, Borneo recently. A 23 year-old man was stabbed to death in a fight that began when he refused to give up the karaoke mic. Abdul Sani Doli, the deceased, was apparently feeling the groove that night. Unfortunately, others in the bar were not. When he refused to give up the stage to the next person in line, an argument broke out. It only ended when Doli was stabbed by at least two other patrons on the street as he fled the scene.

Malaysia Airlines First in Asia to Offer In-Flight Mobile Phone Service

Malaysia Airlines has received and installed an in-flight mobile phone system designed by AeroMobile on one of its Boeing 777s. Passengers will be able to safely use their cell phones and PDAs during the cruise portion of the flight without interfering with the aircraft’s navigational controls and communication.

The system has been tested extensively over the past few weeks. Cabin crews will be given the green light to “advise” especially chatty passengers to be mindful of others during long haul or overnight flights. The service will be available on regional and international flights to Australia, Africa and the Middle East.

Passengers who choose to use the service will be billed by their own cell phone providers. Roaming, international and out-of-network charges will be applied. Currently, AeroMobile is working with Malaysian cell phone service providers to ensure that users won’t hit any snags if the try to make in-flight calls while in international airspace.

[Via My Sinchew]

Lavigne Too Hot For Malaysia?

Malaysia’s main opposition party called on the government to cancel a concert featuring Canadian pop/punk princess Avril Lavigne. Why? The singer’s on-stage moves are too sexy. The Pan Malaysian Islamic Party’s youth wing made the request.

The government wrote off the request as moralist nonsense, right?

Actually, they took the advice seriously and canceled Lavigne’s concert. Aside from being “too sexy,” there was also something in the explanation from the Arts, Culture and Heritage Ministry about the concert being held on August 29th, just two days before Malaysia’s independence day.

How have other “sexy” artists fared in Malaysia in the past? Gwen Stefani was forced to cover up more than usual for a recent show. The Pussycat Dolls were actually fined for indecency in 2006. Beyonce moved her recent concert to Indonesia and Christina Aguilera opted for Singapore. The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party even protests at some concert by Malaysian artists. One wonders how the censorship is going to jive with Malaysia’s Vision 2020, an ambitious project to join the list of fully developed nations by the year 2020.