Thu, 30 May 2024



Envoys told: Stay longer in Sabah
Published on: Thursday, April 18, 2024
By: David Thien
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Envoys told: Stay longer in Sabah
Ribbon cutting opening ceremony: (From left) John, Christina, Joniston and Dr Stellios.
Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew urged visiting ambassadors and diplomatic staff to stay longer so as to appreciate the state and the people better.

She encouraged Hellenic Republic (Greece) Honorary Consul General in Malaysia Dr Stellios Plainiotis, his wife Viktorija Kaidalova and their children, to do so upon flying in from visiting Sandakan.

They were here for the opening of Malaysia’s first Greek-owned restaurant  “Chill” Taverna at Wisma Sabah on Tuesday. 

“Stay for seven days,” Liew suggested, adding that there can be no better testimony than from envoys who have visited the East Coast districts that are under Esscom jurisdiction and are the subject of some countries’ travel advisory to their citizens.

Dr Stellios Plainiotis (right) and wife Viktorija Kaidalova.

Dr. Stellios has lived in Malaysia for 15 years, and has served as the Greek Honorary General Consul for the past 4 years. He also held the position of Director at the EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EUMCCI) for 7 years.

He has learnt to speak Malay well, as he explained to the media that he has a Greek accent when speaking English.

More university courses in English are now available for Malaysian students in Greece.

He is also the founder and CEO of NEAPOLI, a multiple award-winning Environmental Design & Engineering firm with offices in London, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul that was part of the winning team of professionals that designed KLIA2.

A taverna is a small restaurant that serves Greek cuisine. It is an integral part of Greek culture and has become familiar to people from other countries who visit Greece, rich in history and gastronomy traditions.

“In Greece, restaurants that serve seafood do not serve meat, so Muslim visitors have many halal eateries serving only seafood,” Dr Stellios said.

 Olive oil and fine marble are popular export items to Malaysia. Greek pottery and ceramics can also be explored for export to Malaysia, he said.

In 2021, Greece exported $56.7 million worth of goods to Malaysia, mainly Packaged Medicaments ($10.1m), Recovered Paper ($9.23m), and Precious Metal Ore ($4.04m). 

Malaysia’s exports to Greece were rubber apparel ($68.3m), palm oil ($37m) and air conditioners ($13.8m).

Meanwhile, owner John Embiricos said he saw his eatery as not just where to taste great authentic Greek food but where both nations’ cultures could connect.

He said there are a few Greek restaurants in Malaysia but they are operated by non-Greeks.

He is married to Marina, a daughter of former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh.

“There are a few hundred Greek citizens in Malaysia,” said Dr Stellios and noted that  Sabah and Greece had similarities being coastal states with many islands.

Greece has more than 15,000 kilometres of coastline, thousands of islands and a long standing tradition as a maritime nation.

The shipping industry together with tourism are the country’s two most important economic sectors.

For Greece, preserving marine biodiversity and ecosystems is crucial, given the extensive coastal areas and islands which render effective controls over pollution and overfishing challenging.

Like Sabah, the promotion of the Blue Economy, through improved fishing practices, greening maritime transport, promoting sustainable tourism, and developing environmentally sound renewable energy, is an essential priority as a means to achieve SDG goals and safeguard prosperity for current and future societies.

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Chill Taverna


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