With a kolam measuring 638.02 sq.m made in the 120,000 gallon swimming pool, Shangri La’s Golden Sands resort made its way into the Malaysia Book of Records ahead of Diwali celebrations in the country. The artwork, which depicted a majestic looking peacock, lotus and the “S” of the hotel logo, was entered in the records as the “Biggest Floating Kolam”.The successful attempt was celebrated with Indian classical dance performances. The artistic feat will help boost tourism in the state, Malaysia Book Of Records deputy general manager Mohamad Alex Edward Jamuh Abdullah, who certified the event, said.The project, completed on Oct. 10, involved participation of 100 volunteers from the resort, the Penang Hindu Association (PHA) and the Inti International College in Penang. It took them about 117 hours to finish the kolam. While 10 days were spent in planning the artwork, another nine days went in execution.The participants used 87 bags of desiccated coconut flakes, 37.9kg of sticker glue, 47 pieces of polystyrene and 5,000 bulbs of fresh pompon chrysanthemums to make the kolam in the swimming pool.“Volunteers would take turns to place the colored desiccated coconut flakes based on the design. It was amazing to see so many people making an effort to come up with this kolam,” an Indian national who has been living in Malaysia for 14 years said, describing the process to the Star Online.“This is a noble effort by the diverse people of Penang,” hotel manager Noel D’Couto said, giving credit to all the volunteers who gave their time and talent to ensure that the project took off. “It also reflects the good relations among the diverse people of Penang, and the harmony within a multi-cultural society,” he told the publication.The project cost RM 25,000. According to resort’s communications director Suleiman Tunku Abdul Rahman, the dessicated coconut flakes will be reused for other project. Related ItemsFloating kolamLittle IndiaMalaysia Book of RecordsMalaysia kolamPenang HindusShangri La Golden Resort Penang
The M/V Chenega undergoes repairs in drydock at the Ketchikan Shipyard earlier this year. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)The largest labor union representing Alaska Marine Highway System workers has a tentative agreement for a new three-year contract with the state.The Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific and the Alaska Department of Administration reached the agreement last week after more than six months at the bargaining table.Download AudioThe IBU represents about 650 Alaska Marine Highway System employees.While the proposed contract does not include a pay increase in the first year, workers would get a 1 percent raise in year two and a 2 percent increase in year three. Some employees would get additional increases to make their wages more competitive with other jobs in the maritime industry.IBU Regional Director Ricky Deising says the union’s negotiating team believes it’s the best possible deal and is urging members to ratify it.We fought for almost seven months to get fair treatment for our members and we believe that’s what came out of this negotiation,” Deising says.The state backed off a controversial proposal to change how the cost of living differential is calculated for ferry workers who live in Alaska. Those employees currently get an in-state salary adjustment based on Seattle wages. The state wanted to change the base city to Anchorage for all new employees hired after the start of the contract.During this past legislative session, the IBU and other maritime unions came out strongly against a bill that mirrored the state’s position. The legislation, Senate Bill 182, did not pass.“We weren’t willing to back off and allow future work to be paid less,” Deising says.The two sides agreed to freeze the cost of living differential for the duration of the contract, meaning employees won’t get any additional geographic adjustment as part of the negotiated wage increases.Administration Commissioner Curtis Thayer says the state is trying to keep the cost of running the marine highway system in check. The state operating subsidy averages more than $100 million a year, according to recent financial reports for the agency.“So when you have one sector of state government costing potentially a billion dollars in less than a decade, then there has to be a look for savings,” Thayer says. “And anytime that you’re negotiating wages and benefits that’s one of them.”Last month, IBU members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if negotiations failed. Thayer says the vote wasn’t much of a factor in reaching the tentative agreement. Deising says it was a show of solidarity, but the union never threatened to strike and had hoped to avoid one.“The bottom line I believe is the state understood they needed to come to an agreement to take care of their employees,” Deising says.The state is still negotiating with the other two unions representing ferry workers: the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association and the International Association of Masters, Mates and Pilots. Thayer says the state won’t budge much from the deal struck with the IBU.IBU has set the stage, and we’re not going to differ much for those two unions,” Thayer says.The current contracts for all three unions expire June 30. Now that IBU has a tentative agreement, Deising says its members will continue working under the current contract. He expects a ratification vote to take place in the next two months.The Alaska Legislature must approve the financial terms of the contract.Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify Ricky Deising’s comments about the strike authorization vote. A previous version stated Deising did not think the strike authorization was much of a factor in reaching the tentative agreement. In fact, he said it was a show of solidarity.