Progress and innovation have changed Malaysia in countless ways. The past two decades have been defined by innovation in our technology, businesses, and society. Without innovation, there isn’t anything new, and without anything new, there will be no progress. Today, we look at 15 firsts that have ushered the nation into a new and exciting territory. Contributing to the development of Malaysia in the 21st Century, these innovations have monumental implications in the fields of politics, science, sports, arts, and culture. 


Bakebe – The Original App-Based Baking Studio


Bakebe is the original app-based baking studio that utilises digital technology to enhance the conventional baking experience. Revolutionising the traditional baking experience, Bakebe’s app-based teaching system, foolproof video guides, as well as detailed instructions allow those with zero baking experience to follow along with ease.

Throughout the course, beginner bakers would be equipped in transforming unassuming heaps of flour into dreamy desserts. Baking may be daunting to many people, but Bakebe is committed in taking care of everything – preparation, ingredients, equipment, and cleaning up. By the end of the course, customers would be able to create high quality, intricately designed baked goods that look like they were made by a professional pastry chef. Combined with the expertise of professional baking experts through Bakebe’s app, Bakebe aspires to create a space that will allow everyone to experience the sentimental joy of baking.

Baking projects can be selected by categories or by difficulty level but fret not as Bakebe’s friendly baking assistants are always available to guide customers. Established in Hong Kong, Bakebe Malaysia is located at Publika, Kuala Lumpur. Opening its doors to welcome everyone regardless of their experiences, the co-baking studio is committed in delivering a hassle-free baking experience that is bound to satisfy.


First Traxx – Malaysia’s First Indoor Ski and Snowboarding Centre


Recreation refers to the time spent in an activity one loves to engage in, with a purpose to feel refreshed. Located in PJ at Axis Business Park, Section 13, near the Fujixerox building, First Traxx is Malaysia’s very first indoor ski and snowboarding centre.

Utilising cutting-edge infinity ramp technology, First Traxx is both a learning centre for first time skiers, snowboarders, as well as a training ground for those who have already earned their snowstripes. Ultimately, the activities of First Traxx serve as a workout and a fun and healthy way to enjoy family time.

The slopes that First Traxx utilises are referred to as an “infinity slope”, which works very much like a large treadmill moving a surface made of a synthetic turf-like material. The speed and working angle of the slope can be varied according to the customer’s ability. Additionally, there is a support bar to assist the confidence as they build up their confidence while perfecting their techniques. First Traxx involves an active participation from participants, allowing them the opportunity to escape from the monotony of everyday life. 


Red Hong Yi’s First NFT


In 2021, Malaysian contemporary artist Red Hong Yi (better known by her moniker, Red) sold her Doge To The Moon non-fungible token (NFT) in an online auction for 36.3 Ethereum (ETH), which is currently valued at RM325, 000.

Recognised as the most expensive NFT sold by a Malaysian artist, this is the first work of six in her “Memebank” series, which will involve spoofing and redesigning banknotes from different countries such as the Chinese Yuan, US Dollar, Euro, British Pound, Malaysian Ringgit and Japanese Yen. Doge To The Moon is inspired by the Chinese Yuan as a nod to China being at the forefront of the cryptocurrency landscape, and being the first in history to issue paper money during the Song Dynasty.

The Doge To The Moon NFT dropped on Binance on June 27 as part of the cryptocurrency exchange platforms’ inaugural 100 Creators programme to launch the Binance NFT Marketplace. After a two-week auction, Doge To The Moon was sold to Anonymous_2la3, who will also own the physical copper plate (157.5cm x 75cm x 0.15cm) and the printed banknote on silk.

Red shares that a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Mercy Malaysia’s Covid-19 pandemic relief fund. She will also be using the money to initiate a series of community art projects.


The First Internet of Toilets (IoT) System


Sunway Pyramid has introduced Malaysia’s first Internet of Toilets (IoT) system for a seamless user experience. Part of the mall’s move towards digitalisation, the system sees the mall advance from a conventional washroom system to a more efficient management system to deliver a more connected, seamless experience for both the users and supervisors alike.  

In partnership with Singapore’s Rigel Technology, the smart toilet system optimises commercial toilet performance with the IoT system via data collection. With the previous maintenance system, supervisors often have trouble with cleaning performance, faulty equipment, and breakdowns as well as ineffective communication with the technicians that cause users’ underwhelming experience.

The IoT system also provided the mall’s management with an overview of the toilet’s function and performance through specialised sensors and monitors attached to toilet consumables such as soap, paper holders, paper towel dispensers and waste receptacles; main water fittings comprising taps, urinals lavatories and push valves, as well as environmental monitoring such as air quality, temperature humidity, people counter and interactive feedback panel. There are also ammonia sensors to timely detect ammonia and prevent foul smell in the washrooms.  


PVOD – Malaysia’s First Online Cinema Service


Film Wallet Premium Video-on-Demand (Film Wallet PVOD) has launched Malaysia’s first online cinema service. Committed to revolutionise and elevate consumer’s movie-going experience, Film Wallet PVOD offers hundreds of on-demand content from the United States, Hong Kong, China, Korea, Europe, and many other countries without the need to commit to any subscription package. Viewers only need to purchase the movie individually.

Determined to help the industry grow by exposing and distributing content internationally, the platform allows viewers to access content anywhere within the click of a button on their smartphones or televisions. From as low as RM1.90, users will be able to watch a film and rewatch it within the rental time. This makes Film Wallet PVOD an affordable and convenient alternative to catch movies from the comfort of the viewers’ home. 


FlowRider – Malaysia’s First Indoor Surf Park


Simulating real waves in a contained environment, FlowRider is a fun and frenetic activity that’s ideal for an exciting day out. Housed within the lower ground floor of 1 Utama, flowboarding is a relatively new sport in the extreme sports scene that is a hybrid boardsport combining the techniques of surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding and skimboarding.

Waves are flawlessly created by endless sheets of water flowing at 32 km/h over a composite vinyl surface. Submersible propeller pumps located in the pool below inject a three-inch sheet of water creating a surfable wave. The resulting wave-like shape also allows them to surf up and down and perform various tricks and spins.

With various options such as bodyboarding or stand-up flowboarding, FlowRider is the perfect water sport getaway destination for all ages. 


Penang Smart Parking – Malaysia’s First Smart Parking System


The first smart parking system in Malaysia (Penang Smart Parking) was launched back in August 2019. The technological marvel is achieved through a combination of Internet of Things (IoT) sensor technology, direction guide system and online payment system (eWallet). 

Having ushered a new era, the smart parking system was a vision of the Penang State Government to improve environmental, financial, and social aspects of urban life with smart city initiatives. To realise its Penang 2030 vision, the City Councils of Penang (MBPP & MBSP) needed a smart parking solution to improve parking space availability and utilisation for the community, reduce traffic congestion and CO2 emissions, and streamline parking payments for citizens.

The smart parking system transformed people’s conception on outdoor parking bays. The robust system boasts an IoT-enabled surface that has mounted sensor in each parking bay, connected to the 0G network, shares data to a dashboard confirming when a bay is occupied. The dashboard is visible to citizens via a mobile app and shows parking availability and processes payments.


Fatia – TikTok’s First Ever Global Artist


From singing duet songs in her bedroom to becoming a TikTok sensation, Malaysian-born talent Fatia, a 21-year-old is now TikTok’s first ever global artist. Releasing her debut single, My World Too on the video-focused platform last November.

Inspired by the vocal stylings of pop icons like Taylor Swift and our country’s very own Yuna, the song garnered lots of attention and was quick to top the music charts, not just in Malaysia but our neighbouring country, Singapore as well. Raised in a home filled with pop, classic rock and soaring showtunes, Fatia’s music talent was honed from a very young age—it comes as no surprise that her parents have always encouraged her heavily to pursue her passion for singing.

No stranger to the TikTok community, the young artist’s presence and following on the platform has been growing daily as people continue to discover her sweet and euphonious voice in her many videos.  

Fatia has 30,108 followers and a total of 467,228 likes on TikTok as of December 2021


Malaysia’s First International Financial District


YB Lim Guan Eng, the Finance Minister of Malaysia has officiated the launch of a joint venture development between Lendlease and TRX City Sdn Bhd, The Exchange TRX, in early 2019. Formerly known as the Lifestyle Quarter, The Exchange TRX is the centrepiece of the first and upcoming 70-acre international financial district in Malaysia. The 17-acre joint venture development will comprise a hotel, a grade A office, residential apartments, retail and leisure offerings, all integrated with a new 10-acre city park.

It is even said to welcome Malaysia’s first ever Apple retail store in Malaysia this year. However, it’s not all set in stone. According to sources reported by The Edge, talks are still underway with the representatives from Apple Inc. But if all goes according to plan, we may be looking forward to our very own Apple Store in the near future. Apart from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are the only other two Southeast Asian countries with Apple Stores. 


Malaysia’s First ICLQ in Pasir Gudang


Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan has recently launched Malaysia’s first integrated and centralised labour quarter (ICLQ) in Pasir Gudang, Johor, with a view of promoting and ensuring modern, safe and hygienic accommodation for the foreign workers in Malaysia.

The raging COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the cruel reality of insanitary, poor working and living conditions of migrant workers all over the world, making it easier for the virus to spread among them and prompting governments to seriously tackle the issue of workers’ accommodation. The Integrated Centralised Labour Quarters (ICLQ) which is being developed at the industrial area is said to become an example and module used for the development of the foreign workers housing in Malaysia. According to Saravanan, Indonesia is expected to send 5,000 to 10,000 workers to help address labour shortages. 


UNDI 18


What started as a student movement to a constitutional amendment has made history in Malaysia. The Undi 18 Bill had been three years in the making prior to the historic vote and its founders, Qyira Yusri and Augustman’s very own Men of the Year 2021 recipient Tharma Pillai have played a huge role in making that happen. The long journey of the significant movement was started by a group of Malaysian youth that successfully advocated for the amendment of Article 119(1) of the Federal Constitution to reduce the minimum voting age in Malaysia from 21 to 18 years old.

However, the fight is said to have started way before the three-year battle even began. They appeared as a student movement in 2016, under the umbrella of the Malaysian Students’ Global Alliance which gave them access to numerous Malaysian student and youth organisations across the world and throughout the country, officially launching with a memorandum to former prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in April 2017. Like the saying, hard work will never betray you—the Dewan Rakyat has unanimously voted in favour of the Undi 18 Bill on 16 July 2019, making it the first law to be passed by all Members of Parliament and according to Muda’s co-founder Lim Wei Jiet, the Undi 18 and automatic voter registration has been gazetted and was implemented on 15 December 2021. 


Malaysia’s First Women’s Tribunal


The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) and Engender Consultancy has announced Malaysia’s first Women’s Tribunal that took place online in November last year. The Tribunal was a first-ever in Malaysia, aiming to provide an alternative form of justice and advocacy for women’s human rights and gender equality in the country while creating a space for women to be agents of change. Women who are or have been affected by gender discrimination was able to give their testimonies at the Tribunal which intended to present the lived realities of women in Malaysia through its proceedings.

There were also presentations of advocates followed by the verdict of a panel of judges. “We want to highlight all women’s rights – be it civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights. They are not a formal legal process, and it has no official power to issue legally binding decisions or enforce individual criminal or state responsibility for violations, but our Women’s Tribunal will find new ways to speak truth to power,” said tribunal convener Ivy Josiah in a press conference.

In Kuching, a total of 67 cases of rape had been recorded from January to June 2021, representing a year-on-year increase of 14 per cent over the same period last year. In revealing this data, Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said 59 cases were registered in the first six months of 2020.

“Out of the total cases (reported from January to June, 2021), 39 were committed by the victims’ boyfriends, 15 by acquaintances, and five by the victims’ biological fathers. Also from the total number, 50 cases involved those (victims) aged between 13 and 16,” she said this during a press conference in Petra Jaya here yesterday.” 

Fatimah also revealed that out of the total 67 cases, 41 had resulted in pregnancies, adding that 34 of the pregnant rape victims comprised those aged between 13 and 16.


Malaysia’s First Dior Café


French luxury fashion house, Dior has unveiled its Cruise 2022 season with an immersive experience consisting of an exclusive showcase of the collection. The collection celebrates the eternal beauty of Greece with silhouettes adopting a resolutely contemporary sportswear style where cuts are loose and supple, as well as boldly matched and mixed motifs. Along with the enchanting showcase combining past and present, Dior Malaysia has taken the immersive experience to a whole new level with the opening of the Dior Café Malaysia.

Last seen in Singapore in October, the well-known pop up around the world that merges fashion and a refined gourmet destination for its stylish patrons has graced Kuala Lumpur with its presence. Though it was opened only for a limited time, the luxurious cafe quickly garnered an immense amount of attention from both the press and the people of Malaysia. The café is a one-of-a-kind showcase that features a decadent fine cuisine eatery along with the latest Dior Cruise 2022 collection, talk about creativity! 

Called Café Dior by Pierre Hermé, the first location of the French luxury fashion house’s café opened in Seoul back in 2015, and has since launched a second store at Tokyo’s luxury mall GINZA SIX in 2017. Both its success has led to a Dior Café opening up in the Miami Design District in January 2019, what started as a pop-up has now turned into an open-ended run. 


Tasman Teruntum Mini Zoo – World’s First Hybrid Zoo


While Kuantan is well-known for its beaches, the residents and visitors of Kuantan can now look forward to another special treat. The world’s first hybrid zoo is here and it’s located in Kuantan, Pahang. The Taman Teruntum Mini Zoo will allow its visitors to go through a once in a lifetime experience. The hybrid zoo does not only showcase the usual animals one can often see in zoos but also the extinct prehistoric animals like dinosaurs.

Unlike the people’s all-time favourite movie, Jurassic Park, the team at Taman Teruntum Mini Zoo has collaborated with Dinosaur Encounter—successfully creating an animatronic-form of the extinct reptiles.  Chairman of Pahang’s Local Government and Housing Committee, YB Dato’ Abdul Rahim Muda has stated that they hope this brand new hybrid zoo will be a fresh attraction to its visitors.


ONO – The First Specialty Coffee and Matcha Cafe


 

Priding itself as the first specialty coffee and matcha cafe in the world, ONO (styled as ŌNO) is co-founded by Malaysia Brewer’s Cup Champion Shaun Liew, together with co-founder of Niko Neko Matcha Syun Hattori, and Head Roaster of Curate Coffee Roasters Kent Wong. Available in both savoury and sweet options, the minimalist cafe boasts an extensive menu featuring specialty coffee, matcha drinks, as well as Japanese-fusion sandos.

Combining Scandinavian minimalism and Japanese aesthetics, ONO’s fusion concept is visible from every corner of its interior. Its gorgeous marble tabletops convey two different identities – the Dark Emperador brown marble top represents the coffee bar, whereas the Aldo Alpi green marble top represents the matcha bar. If you have a hankering for coffee or matcha, ONO is dedicated in delivering a caffeinated experience that will satisfy your deepest cravings.

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