Rabu, 25 Mei 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Catch live telecast of American Idol finale today

Posted: 26 May 2011 01:37 AM PDT

WHAT drama! Lauren injured one of her vocal chords during rehearsal on arguably the most important night of her life? Scotty sounding flat and pitchy for the first time in the competition — he had to choose the finals to do this? It was mayhem on the American Idol stage during the Top Two performance show yesterday and it's anyone's guess who will win.

Idol pundits seem convinced that 16-year-old Lauren Alaina will take home the title and the recording contract that comes with the win. Apparently, judge Steven Tyler thinks so too.

''Lauren gets it hands down,'' declared the Aerosmith frontman after the two finalists performed last night.

Fellow judges Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson weren't as convinced but they, too, thought Lauren was the better performer of the night.

For those who missed the show, both Lauren and Scotty got to sing three songs each. The first was a song of their own choice: Scotty sang Montgomery Gentry's Gone (a song he aced just a few weeks ago) while Lauren chose Carrie Underwood's Flat On The Floor. In Round Two, the finalists sang songs that were chosen by their own real life idols. Lauren's idol — Idol alum Carrie Underwood — chose Maybe It Was Memphis (by Pam Tillis), while Scotty's idol George Strait chose his own song, Check Yes Or No for the 17-year-old. There was still no clear winner in sight ... until Round Three, when they sang songs that will end up as the winner's first single.

These choices were made by Jimmy Iovine. Scotty sang a ballad called I Love You This Big while Lauren sang Like My Mother Does. This round clearly belonged to Lauren.

Who will America vote for? Will Lauren win because of her stellar performance on the last song? Will she win sympathy votes because she was injured and disadvantaged?

Or will country boy Scotty stage an upset? Tune in to find out.

> Catch the live telecast of the American Idol grand finale today on Star World (Astro Ch 711) at 8am with repeats at 6pm and 8pm.

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'American Idol' crowns a winner (Updated)

Posted: 25 May 2011 07:48 PM PDT

American Idol Gallery

LOS ANGELES (AP): Scotty McCreery won the American Idol battle of the fresh-faced country crooners Wednesday, pulling more of a record 122 million-plus viewer votes than competitor Lauren Alaina.

"I never in my wildest dreams," said McCreery, a 17-year-old with a strikingly deep, old-soul voice that contrasts with his youth. "I've got to thank the Lord first ... he got me here."

McCreery and Alaina, 16, represent the first all-country finale and the youngest duo ever to compete on Idol, which is in its 10th season.

The exuberant, big-voiced Alaina performed on Tuesday's final sing-off despite a vocal cord injury that needed medical treatment. She received raves from the judges, who said she won the night.

But the consistently popular McCreery, who'd never been at risk of elimination, claimed the title and a record contract. The teenager seemed overwhelmed as he took the stage for a celebratory version of I Love You This Big, halting to embrace his parents in the audience, Alaina and others.

Then he playfully stuck his tongue out, trying to catch falling confetti. His victory continued a recent pattern: He's the fourth male in a row to win the Fox TV contest, with 2007's Jordin Sparks, 17, the last female Idol.

Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, two of the four female winners, have proved the winners with the most successful recording careers.

This season's vote total was more than three-quarters-of-a-billion, Seacrest announced Wednesday. For Fox, it's affirmation there's still life in the series that's had a long ratings reign as No. 1.

McCreery commented backstage Tuesday on the loyalty of country fans, and they clearly gave the show a boost. Last year, Fox didn't announce the number of votes for the much lower-key contest between winner Lee DeWyze and runner-up Crystal Bowersox.

In 2009, when winner Kris Allen and Adam Lambert duked it out in 2009, more than 100 million votes were cast.

The show also remains a hot promotional platform, with Seacrest helping some of the pop stars push either movies (Black's new Kung Fu Panda 2) or a Las Vegas show (Gladys Knight). Lady Gaga, whose new album Born this Way is out this week, was another performer.

The grandest bid for attention came from Broadway's troubled Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, with composers Bono and The Edge performing with the musical's star, Reeve Carney.

Other high-wattage stars who performed Wednesday at the Nokia Theatre included Beyonce and and Tony Bennett. McCreery and Tim McGraw sang Live Like You Were Dying, while Underwood returned to Idol to pair with Alaina on Before He Cheats.

Judge Jennifer Lopez - draped in a scanty outfit and shaking her famous booty - took the stage to dance while husband Marc Anthony sang, turning the night into a family affair.

On Tuesday, Alaina's tunes were Underwood's Flat on the Floor, Pam Tillis' Maybe It was Memphis and Like My Mother Does, an emotional tribute to her mother in the audience.

McCreery sang his future single, I Love You This Big, along with his version of Montgomery Gentry's Gone and George Strait's Check Yes or No.

"These kids are so young ... I just go, 'Wow.' They embody what this whole show is about," judge Randy Jackson said backstage Tuesday.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Death toll from tornadoes climbs in U.S. Midwest

Posted: 25 May 2011 08:26 PM PDT

JOPLIN, Mo (Reuters) - The death toll from a monster tornado that savaged Joplin, Missouri, rose to 125 on Wednesday and tornadoes overnight in nearby states caused at least 15 more deaths, authorities said.

Emergency response vehicles line a highway waiting to be dispatched early May 23, 2011, after a devastating tornado hit Joplin, Missouri. (REUTERS/Mike Stone)

Three days after the deadliest single tornado in the United States in 64 years, rescue teams with dogs sifted through rubble in Joplin without finding anyone alive on Wednesday.

Authorities said the operation was still a search and rescue, but hope of finding more survivors was fading.

The number of people injured by the massive tornado was revised up to more than 900, according to local authorities, from 823 earlier in the day.

Some families continued a desperate search for missing loved ones amid the ruins of homes and businesses.

For example, 15-month-old Skyular Logsdon, whose blue teddy bear, red T-shirt and pants were found wrapped around a telephone pole after the storm, remains missing, his great grandmother told Reuters on Wednesday.

His injured parents were found and taken to a hospital after the tornado. But the little boy has vanished.

"We're still hopeful," said Deb Cummins, great grandmother of the missing boy. She said they have checked every possible hospital.

Another wave of tornadoes roared across the Midwest on Tuesday night, leaving nine dead in Oklahoma, four fatalities in Arkansas and two in Kansas, officials said.

In Oklahoma alone, seven tornadoes tore across the state overnight, according to the National Weather Service. The deadliest of those, which killed seven people, left a 75-mile (120 km) path of destruction and lasted two hours.

Oklahoma authorities said a 22-year-old man died in a hospital of injuries from the storm, bringing the death toll in the state to nine.

Severe weather was continuing on Wednesday evening further east in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and north into Illinois and Indiana, according to meteorologists.

One funnel cloud struck Sedalia, Missouri, a town of 20,000 residents, on Wednesday afternoon, damaging homes and businesses, overturning vehicles, downing power lines and rupturing gas lines, emergency officials said.

The Joplin tornado on Sunday was rated an EF-5, the highest possible on the Enhanced Fujita scale of tornado power and intensity, with winds of at least 200 miles per hour (320 kph).

EF-5 tornadoes are rare in the United States but already this year there have been at least four.

Authorities in Joplin struggled to cope with the massive destruction. A system of permits to allow residents back to their damaged homes and prevent looting was abandoned on Wednesday as long lines formed. Officials decided instead to keep a strong police and National Guard presence while allowing people free access to the miles of damaged neighbourhoods.

This year has seen an unusually high number of tornadoes, with 1,168 as of May 22, compared to an average of about 671 by this time, according to Joshua Wurman, president of the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder, Colorado.

The United States is on pace to break its record for deaths from tornadoes this season, the National Weather Service has said.

(Writing by Carey Gillam and Greg McCune; Additional reporting by Suzi Parker, Steve Olafson, and Kevin Murphy; Editing by Peter Bohan)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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General Dempsey may become top US military officer

Posted: 25 May 2011 07:55 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama may pick Army Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey as the U.S. military's top officer, filling a crucial post that in recent years has served as the main point of contact with Pakistan's military, sources said on Wednesday.

Dempsey is a leading candidate for the high-profile job of chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey meets with U.S. soldiers at Baghdad's Camp Victory April 20, 2011. (REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen/Files)

Dempsey, who commanded troops during the Iraq war and has broad support in Congress, would replace Admiral Mike Mullen in the post. Mullen is a holdover from the Bush administration who has been in the role of top U.S. military officer since 2007 and is due to step down on Oct. 1.

As Army chief of staff, Dempsey is the top officer in the largest branch of the U.S. military. He has served in the post only since last month.

The nomination of Dempsey would be the last major change expected in Obama's national security team following the president's April announcement of new picks to lead the Defense Department and the CIA.

If confirmed, Dempsey would work with Leon Panetta, now the head of the CIA and Obama's choice to replace the departing Robert Gates as defense secretary. Obama picked Army General David Petraeus, commander of the Afghanistan war effort, to replace Panetta at the spy agency.

Dempsey's selection would alter the chemistry of a team that will help set strategy in Afghanistan, the Middle East and for looming defense budget battles in Washington. He also would be involved in plans to withdraw U.S. forces entirely from Iraq by the end of this year.

Mullen has worked to improve ties with Pakistan and served as the main interlocutor with Pakistan's powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani. Critics of U.S. strategy toward Pakistan say that despite Mullen's efforts and some $3 billion in U.S. aid to the country this year, Islamabad is a half-hearted ally at best in the fight against militants.

The May 2 U.S. raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden has heightened tensions between Washington and Islamabad.

Dempsey and Kayani studied together in the 1980s at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and met last month when the U.S. general was in Pakistan, an aide said.

General James Cartwright, the current vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had been considered the favorite to replace Mullen but Obama informed him on Saturday he was not chosen for the job, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official said one concern was that neither Mullen nor Gates had endorsed Cartwright for the job, the official said.

Some top brass have complained in the past about Cartwright's leadership style. Earlier this year, he was cleared of wrongdoing by a Pentagon investigation into accusations of having an improper relationship with a subordinate.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Will Dunham and Bill Trott)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Civil war looms as big blasts rock Yemeni capital

Posted: 25 May 2011 07:55 PM PDT

SANAA (Reuters) - Heavy explosions rocked the Yemeni capital Sanaa in the early hours of Thursday as fighting to topple the veteran president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, threatened to descend into civil war.

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaks during an interview with selected media including Reuters in Sanaa May 25, 2011. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)

More than 40 people have been killed since Monday in a part of northern Sanaa where fighters loyal to powerful tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar have been attacking and trying to take over government buildings including the Interior Ministry.

A Reuters correspondent was woken after midnight by the latest blasts.

"The explosions can be heard across town in the south of Sanaa. This seems to be heavier weapons than the machineguns and the mortars of the past few days," one resident said.

Each side blamed the other for the violence, which the opposition said could start a civil war.

The United States and Saudi Arabia, both targets of foiled attacks by a wing of al Qaeda based in Yemen, have tried to defuse the crisis and avert any spread of anarchy that could give the global militant network more room to operate.

Washington ordered all non-essential diplomats and embassy family members to leave the country.

"The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. There is ongoing civil unrest throughout the country and large-scale protests in major cities," the State Department said.

Citizens were fleeing the capital to escape the fighting in the Hasaba area of Sanaa, which erupted a day after Saleh pulled out for the third time from a Gulf Arab-brokered deal for him to step down and make way for a national unity government.

Pressure has been mounting since February, when protesters inspired by revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt began camping in squares and marching in their hundreds of thousands to call for Saleh to go.

Saleh's attempts to stop the protests by force have resulted in hundreds of deaths.


Saleh, a wily political survivor, said on Wednesday he would make no more concessions to those seeking his departure. But the capital of the country of 23 million has begun to feel like a city at war.

Fighters in civilian clothes roamed some districts on Wednesday and machinegun fire rang out sporadically.

Electricity was intermittent and Sanaa's airport was closed. Many city-centre streets were deserted in the afternoon, but for government checkpoints.

Long lines of cars snaked out of the city, bags piled high on their roofs, even as gunmen blocked entrances to prevent tribesmen from bringing in reinforcements, witnesses said.

"It's no longer possible to stay in Sanaa. The confrontations will reach all parts of the city," said Murad Abdullah as he left by car. "I am afraid for my life. I will go to my village in Ibb. The situation there is safe."

Witnesses and officials said supporters of Ahmar, head of the Hashed tribal federation to which Saleh's Sanhan tribe also belongs, controlled several ministry buildings near Ahmar's compound including the trade and tourism ministries, as well as the offices of the state news agency Saba.

Ahmar's fighters also attacked the main building of the Interior Ministry, whose courtyard came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades, witnesses said.

Televised images of Ahmar's own compound showed tribesmen rushing through opulent but dusty halls, their floors spattered with blood, as they helped colleagues wounded in the fighting.

Saleh told a group of invited reporters including a Reuters correspondent on Wednesday that his government was "steadfast".

"We are bearing the shocks of what happened from the sons of al-Ahmar: the chaos and the attacks on state institutions, the press and the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Interior. This is a provocative act to drag us into a civil war ...

"We are contacting some people to talk to them and persuade them to stop trying to storm the Interior Ministry and opening fire at the ministry in order to avoid widening the conflict."

Saba said four civilians had been killed and 11 injured in Wednesday's fighting.


General Ali al-Mohsen, a regional army commander who has sided with protesters, called on the armed forces to defy the president.

"Beware of following this madman who is thirsty for more bloodshed," he said.

Shadi Hamid, analyst at the Brookings Doha Centre, said: "I think there's a real risk that violence can escalate, and we see a move towards low-intensity civil war.

"There's a real loss of faith in the political process after Saleh refused to sign a deal several times. That really cast doubt on whether Saleh has any real commitment to letting go of power voluntarily."

Saleh said the deal remained on the table, despite his repeated failure to sign:

"I am ready to sign within a national dialogue and a clear mechanism. If the mechanism is sound, we will sign the transition of power deal and we will give up power ...

"No more concessions after today," he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky said Ban was deeply troubled by the clashes in Sanaa and called for further peace efforts and an immediate end to the fighting, while Britain reiterated calls on Saleh to sign the exit deal.

(Additional reporting by Mohamed Sudam and Khaled al-Mahdi in Sanaa and Nour Merza in Dubai; writing by Cynthia Johnston, Firouz Sedarat and Kevin Liffey; editing by Mark Trevelyan and Sanjeev Miglani)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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Red Bull to change pit procedure at Monaco GP

Posted: 25 May 2011 05:34 PM PDT

MONACO (AP) - Red Bull will change its pitstop procedures during Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix amid concerns that rival Ferrari was doing copycat stops during last week's race in Spain.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claims Ferrari was mimicking Red Bull in Barcelona because it appeared that two-time former F1 champion Fernando Alonso was pitting for Ferrari immediately after Red Bull had called in Mark Webber.

"Pitstops are all part of the game, and Ferrari's only way to beat Mark was to cover him in the pitstops," Horner said Wednesday ahead of Thursday's first practice session. "So we've changed our procedure this weekend to ensure we are less transparent."

Horner said Red Bull's pit crew gave away signs during the last race that a pitstop was imminent, like "putting their hands in their pockets at the wrong time or somebody was picking a tire up" - and this gave Ferrari an inkling to do likewise.

"They obviously saw something we were doing that was giving away when we were going to stop and would call in Fernando," Horner said. "It wasn't coincidence because every time we called Mark in, then Fernando would come down the pit lane, which is quite within the regulations."

Defending F1 champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany aims for his fifth win of the season in Monaco. The Red Bull driver already has a commanding 41-point lead over McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari has had a tough start, with Alonso securing the team's only podium finish when he finished third at the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul. Alonso is fifth overall, but is already 67 points behind Vettel.

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Lisicki taken away on stretcher at French Open

Posted: 25 May 2011 05:34 PM PDT

PARIS (AP) - Overcome by dizziness and muscle cramps during a 2 1/2-hour match, German qualifier Sabine Lisicki was helped onto a stretcher and taken off Court 1 at the French Open on Wednesday after losing to Vera Zvonareva 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the second round.

A trainer examined the 21-year-old Lisicki at least twice during third-set changeovers, even wrapping a black gauge around her right arm to check her blood pressure.

When the match ended shortly before 9 p.m., Lisicki didn't go shake hands, instead crouching down on court. Zvonareva - the runner-up at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year - walked around the net and checked on Lisicki, putting a hand on her shoulder. A sobbing Lisicki then lay down on a towel placed on the red clay, and a trainer massaged her back until the stretcher arrived.

As she was carried off, Lisicki covered her face with her left hand. She met with a doctor, and was to get additional medical tests Thursday, the tournament said.

"I started cramping at the end of the second set, and this continued in the third," Lisicki said in a statement released by the WTA. "From 4-2 in the third set, I began to feel dizzy and had problems seeing the ball clearly. At no point did I think of retiring, and I kept fighting until the end."

Lisicki, a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon in 2009, held serve for a 5-2 lead in the third set and in the next game was one point away from winning the match. But she sent a forehand return long there and never again held a match point, dropping the last five games.

After getting broken while serving for the match at 5-3, Lisicki asked to see a trainer. During an extended break, she ate an energy bar and banana and drank liquids; Zvonareva bounced around at the baseline to stay warm, then eventually took some practice serves.

When action resumed, the third-seeded Russian won eight of the next nine points to go up 6-5. Across the net, Lisicki began crying. She did keep playing, though, and managed to fend off two match points, including the second with a forehand winner.

But Lisicki barely sent a backhand wide at the end of a 22-stroke exchange, then crouched down, nearly taking a seat on the court. On Zvonareva's third match point, a backhand sailed long off Lisicki's racket.

"I hope she feels OK. I heard she's feeling OK now. She's seeing a doctor," Zvonareva said.

"That's what happens sometimes. It's part of the sport," Zvonareva added. "No matter what, I had to keep doing my job."

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Butcher Booth determined to hack it in Formula One

Posted: 25 May 2011 05:22 PM PDT

MONACO: When John Booth (pic) looked back on Virgin Racing's debut last season, the team principal could only wonder what kind of madness had led him to get involved in Formula One.

Creating a Grand Prix team from scratch, with limited resources and little time, was no light undertaking.

"We massively underestimated the task," the 56-year-old said in an interview ahead of Sunday's showcase Monaco Grand Prix.

"Who the hell did we think we were, to build an F1 team from scratch in six months? We must have been crazy, insane to even attempt it."

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The Star Online: Business

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Restoran Oversea owner works his way up from earning just RM15 a month

Posted: 25 May 2011 06:39 PM PDT

WHILE Yu Soo Chye's successful journey as an entrepreneur is well reflected and widely documented he owns Restoran Oversea, a booming restaurant chain which offers fine Chinese cuisine his real triumph really is from how he has worked his way up from earning a paltry RM15 monthly salary as a restaurant help back in 1957 to managing and owning a multi-million dollar business.

"I'm a very fulfilled and blessed person with support from my family, workers and public over the last 30 years. I always dreamed of having my own restaurant when I was young and I made it come true. My sons and daughters are also helping me with my business now by playing different roles," he said.

Since 1977, Restoran Oversea has gained much popularity for offering exquisite contemporary Chinese cuisine in Malaysia. Yu is the managing director and chief consultant of Oversea Enterprise Bhd which owns seven Restoran Oversea outlets, one "dim sum" outlet, one caf and two manufacturing plants in Malaysia.

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Fresh new start for Ibraco

Posted: 25 May 2011 06:39 PM PDT

KUCHING: Property developer Ibraco Bhd, which has exited the Practice Note 17 (PN17) list, will embark on a new residential project in Stutong here.

The company also plans to extend its property development activities to other major towns in Sarawak and venture into construction business.

Chief executive officer Chew Chiaw Han said Ibraco would launch the proposed Stutong housing project, comprising 77 single-storey terraced and semi-detached houses, in July.

"The project will have a gross development value (GDV) of about RM15mil," he told StarBiz.

Bursa Malaysia on Tuesday removed Ibraco from the PN17 classification, about six months after the company completed its regularistion scheme.

Ibraco was classified a PN17 company after its revenue for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2009 fell below 5% of its paid-up capital.

The company's regularisation scheme involved the development of Tabuan Tranquility, a massive commercial, industrial and residential project along Kuching-Samarahan Expressway.

The mixed development on 66ha will comprise 640 double-storey terraced houses, 108 semi-detached houses, 60 units of three-storey townhouses, 76 units of four-storey shophouses, 72 semi-detached industrial buildings, an office block and a petrol station.

Tabuan Tranquility, to be developed in five phases up to 2015, has a GDV of RM517mil.

Chew said all the 76 shophouses priced between RM1mil and RM1.79mil had been sold. These shophouses are expected to be completed in July.

"About 85% of the Tabuan Tranquility phase 5 residential development, comprising 204 terraced houses and 38 semi-detached houses, have been booked," he added. These houses are expected to ready by November 2012.

Chew said Ibraco also planned to undertake its first mixed property development in Bintulu or Miri.

He said the company had identified the land and might carry out the development via a joint venture with the landowner.

Although the plan has yet to be finalised, he hoped the project could take off this year.

To diversify its activities, Chew said Ibraco planned to venture into construction, including infrastructure and civil building works, for the private and public sectors.

"We are actively studying it. Ibraco is an experienced contractor and has all the expertise," he added.

Ibraco, which has built about 10,000 properties over the years in the Tabuan area here, has a land bank of about 285ha, mostly in Kuching and Lundu.

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TM Q1 profit down

Posted: 25 May 2011 06:38 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Telekom Malaysia Bhd's (TM) net profit for its first quarter ended March 31 (Q1FY11) was down 32.8% to RM163.3mil from a year ago mainly due to lower unrealised exchange gains on translation of foreign currency borrowings.

But the revenue for the quarter under review recorded a 1.1% growth to RM2.15bil year-on-year (y-o-y), mainly attributed to higher revenue from data, Internet and multimedia services, which when combined contributed 57% of the group's total revenue for the quarter.

Earnings per share was down to 4.6 sen for the quarter from 6.9 sen a year ago.

Boosted by higher revenue and lower tax expense, normalised profit after tax and minority interest was up 40.3% y-o-y to RM122.3mil.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 1.5% to RM730.9mil compared with same quarter last year.

Group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Zamzamzairani Mohd Isa (pic) said the company was making steady progress in all aspects of performance and operations despite the competitive market environment.

"We again returned a strong normalised EBITDA margin of 33.6% as a result of increasing revenue and controlled spending. In the first quarter, we continue to witness data and Internet driving our revenue.

"The mix of voice to non-voice revenue continues to change with voice now contributing 43.0% of revenue, while non-voice contributed 57% collectively," he said in a statement yesterday.

Segmentally, data revenue increased by 6.8% in Q1FY11 to RM424.6mil compared with the corresponding quarter in 2010 arising from demand for higher bandwidth services.

Internet and multimedia services turned in higher revenue by 12.7% to RM453.4mil in the quarter under review.

However, other telecommunications services recorded a decrease of 3% to RM346.1mil Q1FY11 from a year ago.

On operational performance, Zamzamzairani said it reflected TM's market leadership, growing data services, Internet and multimedia business, and prudent cost management.

"Internet continues to be a strong revenue driver for TM with continuous growth in our Streamyx customer base with over 28,000 net additions in Q1FY11.

"In addition, UniFi has also been successfully rolled out to 808,000 premises ... UniFi demand has also been very strong since its launch last year," he said.

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The Star Online: Nation

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PM to introduce two new interactive platforms in June

Posted: 25 May 2011 05:35 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will introduce two new interactive platforms in June, a mobile application (app) and the online 1Malaysia Roundtable.

He said the app would integrate all his online platforms including his website, Facebook page and Twitter account so that people could connect with him more easily.

"Instead of switching between different interfaces, you can leave comments on my blog or Facebook, tweet me, and register for upcoming gatherings using a single application.

"Insya-Allah, I will introduce additional apps in the future," he said in his latest blog posting entitled "Let's Keep the Conversation Going!".

The prime minister said people could discuss ideas that could contribute to nation-building, guided by Malaysian subject matter experts from various fields in the Roundtable.

"I am very excited about the online 1Malaysia Roundtable via 1Malaysia.com.my. You know that I have always made it clear that direct engagement with you is important to me.

"However, I also acknowledged that my time is limited, and there are a number of obligations that I must attend to daily.

"Hence, I came up with the Roundtable. The subject matter experts will assist us in shaping these online discussions and sharing your ideas with me," he said.

Najib would not say more about these two platforms for now but he hoped that Malaysians were looking forward to using them very soon.

"There are other exciting plans in the pipeline, but most importantly, I hope that you use these opportunities wisely and help me in making our nation better and in becoming the fully-developed, high-income nation we can all be proud of!

"As always, your thoughts are most welcome. Let's keep the conversation going!" he said.

Najib said he had stepped up his interactions with the people this year, by taking new approaches to engage with all of them a lot more.

"I have begun hosting gatherings with my online friends around the country, increased my interaction on Twitter by replying to your tweets whenever I can, and even made a radio appearance!

"This month has been packed with international trips to Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States, United Kingdom and currently Japan, so I have not been able to meet as many of you as I would like.

"However, that doesn't mean our interaction stops. A lot of work is currently being done to ensure that the 1Malaysia dialogue continues at a good momentum," he added. - Bernama

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Teoh inquiry: All parties have handed in written submissions

Posted: 25 May 2011 04:44 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: All parties in the the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock, except for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), have handed in their written submissions to the commission.

According to the commission secretariat secretary Muhamad Bukhari Ab Hamid, the commission's conducting officers had submitted their written submissions through a representative at 3.12pm Wednesday.

He said Bar Council handed in its written submissions at 4.45pm via its counsel Christopher Leong.

Muhamad Bukhari said that MACC, however, had submitted a letter via its counsel Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah at 3.40pm to the secretariat, seeking for an extension until Friday for them to hand in their written submissions.

Speaking to reporters at the court complex here, Leong told reporters that he was unhappy that MACC had not honoured the deadline given by the commission.

Throughout the 60-day commission proceedings that began on Feb 14, 70 witnesses were called, including Teoh's employer, Ean Yong, and several MACC officials, who were not called during the earlier inquest.

Commission chairman Federal Court judge Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen had fixed May 25 for the Bar Council and the MACC to submit their written submissions.

Findings of the commission would be submitted to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on June 24.

Other members of the commission are former Federal Court judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, former Court of Appeal judge Datuk T. S. Nathan, Penang Hospital forensic pathologist Datuk Dr Bhupinder Singh and psychiatry forensic consultant Prof Dr Mohamed Hatta Shaharom.

The setting up of the commission was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Jan 26. Among its objectives was to investigate the cause of Teoh's death after the inquest at the Coroner's Court ended with an open verdict.

Teoh, 30, was found dead on the fifth floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam on July 16, 2009, after being questioned overnight at the Selangor MACC office on the 14th floor.

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Prices of RON95 petrol, diesel and LPG to remain the same: Ismail Sabri

Posted: 25 May 2011 04:11 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: In a move that will please many Malaysians, the government has decided to maintain the prices of RON95 petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas for the time being.

Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the decision was made after an in-depth discussion on subsidy rationalisation at Wednesday's weekly cabinet meeting.

"The decision was made taking into consideration the interest of the people," he told a news conference at his ministry, here Wednesday.

The government would however continue to study the need for subsidy rationalisation in view of the increase in the prices of oil and gas in the global market.

Asked whether there was any discussion on the time frame for the prices to remain, Ismail Sabri said there was no discussion about time frame. The price of RON95 petrol is now RM1.90 per litre and diesel at RM1.80 per litre. LPG is priced at RM1.90 per kg.

The last time the prices for these three items were adjusted was in December last year.

Ismail Sabri said the decision to retain the prices of the three items meant that the government had to bear fuel subsidy totalling RM18bil.

Last year, the fuel subsidy was RM8.15bil. - Bernama

More in The Star on Thursday

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Battle of wits

Posted: 25 May 2011 02:00 AM PDT

Three Chinese superstars come together in Let The Bullets Fly.

CHINA'S biggest domestic box office hit Let The Bullets Fly has finally made it to Malaysian shores. The critically-acclaimed China-Hong Kong action comedy helmed by Jiang Wen was last year's highest grossing Chinese film in China at 730mil yuan (RM300mil), beating the record previously set by Feng Xiaogang's Aftershock.

Based on a story by famed Sichuan writer Ma Shitu, the movie is set in China during the warring 1920s and tells of a bandit chief who hijacks a conman's idea of posing as the new mayor of a remote town but has to contend with the local mobster. The movie has confirmed a Hollywood remake and is set to hit Japan, Australia and Britain in the coming months.

Written and directed by Jiang, Let The Bullets Fly (Mandarin title Rang Zi Dan Fei) features the top three leading men in Chinese entertainment – Chow Yun-fat, Ge You and Jiang himself – alongside fellow filmmaker Feng and recent Best Actress winner Carina Lau.

The US$18mil (RM54mil) film also competed with other Asian films in six categories at the Asian Film Awards 2011 held in Hong Kong in March, where it won the best costume design award for William Chang Suk-pin. The nominations included best film, best director and best screenplay for Jiang, best actor for Chow and best supporting actress for Lau.

Playing the notorious bandit chief Zhang Mazi is writer-director Jiang, who is best known for the award-winning arthouse movies he helmed like Devils On The Doorstep (2000) and In The Heat Of The Sun.

Let The Bullets Fly has been described as a parody of China's contemporary social and political phenomena but Jiang, 48, who was recently seen as Cao Cao in The Lost Bladesman, says everybody perceives the film differently.

Cannes best actor Ge plays conman Ma Bangde posing as a new mayor of a remote town but gets his identity hijacked.

"It's a meaningful script for an amusing film set in chaotic times. My character is a confidence trickster who begins as the train master but changes his identity to mayor after a robbery," said Ge in a recorded interview.

The 54-year-old Beijing native recalled one of his most memorable scenes was being submerged in water for three hours at a stretch in freezing cold weather.

"The train derailed and flipped so we were thrown into a body of water. That scene took two days to film as some technical problems required a retake. The container was leaking so heated water had to be pumped in to keep the temperature bearable."

Hong Kong-born Chow plays a tyrannical gentry, Huang, who tries to manipulate the townsfolk for his own gains.

"The character has had some western influence due to his dealings with American traders so he even speaks English and carries himself differently from other townsfolk," said Chow.

On why his gangster character does not join bandit Zhang and conman Ma in pursuit of a courtesan, played by Lau, Chow, 54, offered: "The director told me that the character was somewhat peculiar because of the fact that he had five mothers in his youth."

Suzhou-born Hong Kong-based Lau plays an opinionated courtesan who rides into town as conman Ma Bangde's wife. "She wanted to do things that men could do but women during her time were neither accorded appropriate social standing nor similar privileges. Hence, she had to resort to using a man to achieve her ideals."

Lau, 45, is now enjoying a renewed surge in popularity after finally nabbing best actress for her portrayal of Empress Wu Ze Tian in Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame at the 30th Hong Kong Film Awards in March. She has been nominated five times (1989, 1990, 1994, 1999, 2003) for the same award.

Let The Bullets Fly opens in local cinemas tomorrow, exclusively at GSC International Screens at GSC Mid Valley, GSC 1 Utama and GSC Pavilion KL in the Klang Valley.

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Films roll in

Posted: 25 May 2011 01:57 AM PDT

The world of movies comes to Singapore next month in a big way via ScreenSingapore.

SINGAPORE is all set to launch its international inaugural cinema event, ScreenSingapore, on June 5. The event offers policy makers, industry buyers, sellers, producers and creative talent from all over the world a platform to exchange ideas and opportunities, and will feature both international and Asia-Pacific premieres of prominent Hollywood, European and Aisan films through a series of red carpet gala and film previews.

The one-week event opens with a special presentation of Zhang Qi's film called The Devil Inside Me, which stars Tony Leung Ka-Fai. To officiate the screening, an entourage of Chinese celebrities are scheduled to walk the red carpet including Yan Ni, Colin Chou, Liu Yan, Zheng Shuang, Xie Nan and Bao Bei-Er.

Other highlights during ScreenSingapore include the premieres of Paradise Kiss (a film from Japan based on a popular manga series starring Keiko Kitagawa and Osamu Mukai) and May'n The Movie – Phonic Nation (a feature revolving around the Japanese singing sensation May'n).

Also in the programme are two Hollywood films: J.J. Abrams' Super 8 and Mr Popper's Penguins featuring Jim Carrey and digital/real penguins.

Bollywood's favourite son Shah Rukh Khan will also put in an appearance to present his upcoming sci-fi superhero film titled Ra One.

Naturally Singaporean filmmakers are not forgotten.

The closing night for ScreenSingapore will feature the Asia-Pacific premiere of the film Larry Crowne, starring Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks. Two-time Academy Award winner Hanks will grace the event scheduled to be held at the recently refurbished Shaw Lido Theatre.

The public can catch the screening of some of these films at Golden Village, Shaw and Cathay cinemas around Singapore from June 5 to June 12. Among the preview titles available for public viewing are The City Of Your Final Destination (Britain), A Beautiful Life (China), Brighton Rock (Britain), The New Daughter (US) and Haunters (South Korea).

Besides the big fanfare, ScreenSingapore is also celebrating the art of short films. On June 5, the Asian Short Film Awards will be held to provide filmmakers with a platform to showcase their work to a global audience. The top 20 finalists have already been identified with entries from Singapore, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, China, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

From June 7 to 9, a trade exhibition will also be held so suppliers, service providers, buyers and entertainment media professionals can meet under one roof. There will also be conferences, forums and the "In Conversation" series which see some of the movers and the shakers in the industry sharing their insights, addressing issues regarding the media platforms and touching on other entertainment-related topics. Among the highlights are Ashok Amritraj on "The Art of Film Producing" (June 10), Shekhar Kapur on "Directing In the East And West" (June 9) and Michael J. Werner and Daniel Yun on the "Changing Landscape of Film Distribution" (June 10).

Details, visit www.screensingapore.com.sg

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'Planet of Apes' actress arrested in Los Angeles

Posted: 24 May 2011 09:29 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: "Planet of the Apes" actress and former model Estella Warren was arrested after a late-night crash that led to her allegedly assaulting a police officer then trying to flee from custody, officials said Tuesday.

Warren was driving down Harper Avenue near West Hollywood when she crashed into three parked cars, Los Angeles police Officer Sarah Faden said.

Someone heard the noise of the crashes and came to see what was going on. That person called police then pursued Warren when it was clear she wasn't going to stop and leave her information, Faden said.

The person then forced Warren to stop, though it was unclear how. Police arrived and arrested Warren on suspicion of driving under the influence, but she assaulted one of the officers, Faden said. The 32-year-old actress was then immediately re-arrested for felony battery on an officer.

Police took Warren to Wilshire station, where she was detained in a holding room. Exactly how she managed it was unclear, but Faden said Warren slipped out her handcuffs then burst through a door to the police station and briefly escaped. She was immediately recaptured and booked on a felony escape charge.

Warren was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

A call to Warren's manager was not immediately returned.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

Metro watch

Posted: 25 May 2011 05:57 AM PDT

DYEA is back

Denso Corporation and Japan Environmental Education Forum are sponsoring 20 youths to join the "Denso Youth for Earth Action — New Earthlings Project" comprising a four-day training in Malaysia, where three will be selected to join youths from seven other Asean countries for a one-week programme in Indonesia. For details, visit www.denso-yea.com. Closing date is June 12.

Photo exhibition

A group of photographers known as "The Shooting Stars" are having a month-long exhibition titled "Metaphorical Garden" starting tomorrow at the gallery in Kuala Lumpur City Library (next to Merdeka Square). The MPO High Wind Ensemble under Joost Flach will play at the opening at 8.30pm. It is open to the public and admission is free. For details, call Mohd Khairul Adly at 03-2612 3500 / 3542 or Patsy Ng at 03-2164 2011 or visit info@kualalumpur.goethe.org.

Orchestra for charity

The Rotary Club of Shah Alam is hosting the Dama Orchestra Performance "The Moon Speaks For My Heart" on Friday at 8.30pm at Pentas 1, KLPac, to raise funds for charity projects. For tickets, call James Wong 03-2148 8968/ Soon Ee Hooi 012-3399 466.

Ramadan bazaar form

Those interested in setting up stalls under Ampang Jaya during the fasting month can download the MPAJ Ramadan Bazaar 2011 form from www.mpaj.gov.my and submit to Menara MPAJ by June 13. For details, call 03-4296 8007.

MIGP Expo 2011

Malaysia International Gifts and Premiums Expo 2011 kicks off today until Friday at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. It is an opportunity to source for unique and latest range of gifts and premiums. It opens from 10am to 6pm. For more information visit to www.migp.com.my

MBS Penang reunion

Old boys of MBS Penang are invited to join the reunion at the school field on Saturday at 7.15pm. For tickets, call Ooi Gim Ewe at 016-482 3595 or Lee Kok Joo 016-368 5387.


Super-Junior-M is making an appearance on Saturday at 9pm at Precint 3, Putrajaya, in conjunction with the Malaysia National Youth Day. For details, call 03-2092 1199 or visit www.marctensia.com or ww.kbs.gov.my

Xtreme challenge

The Roller Coaster X-Treme Challenge @Skytrex Adventure Park is happening on Saturday from 7am to 7pm at the Skytrex Adventure Park in Taman Botani Negara, Shah Alam. For details, log on to www.facebook.com/urc.rollercoaster

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Malaysia-based team holds successful competition in Hangzhou

Posted: 25 May 2011 05:57 AM PDT

IT WAS a proud moment for the Malaysia-based International Football Club (IFC) as they also showed their organisational skills by having a competition in China.

With support from the Hangzhou Municipality and the Hangzhou Tourism Board, IFC organised the two-day Hangzhou-International Football (IFC) Club Soccer Nines in Hangzhou, China recently.

Their president Sufardi Rijan said the organising committee had created history and the competition was a big success.

"We have succeeded in getting 16 teams from different parts of the world to congregate in Hangzhou for a football competition. It was a tough mission but the organising committee had worked to make the event a reality.

"We have also received encouraging feedback from the participating teams. Besides being part of the competition, they also had the opportunity to visit several tourist sites in Hangzhou,'' said Sufardi.

The competition involved 16 teams — Uniplast FC, Singapore Chinese FC, Kilat FC, Chengdu FC, Wednesday FC, IFC, Qantas Melbourne, Black Eagle FC, Dynasty FC, South Africa Airways, Hangzhou Veterans, Hangzhou Municipal, Malaysian United, Tunisair Technics, American Airlines and Shanghai Expatriates.

After the preliminary rounds, the top eight teams advanced to the quarter-finals while the rest were involved in the Plate category.

In the championship category, Malaysia's Uniplast FC and Singapore Chinese FC qualified for the final after beating Chengdu FC and Kilat FC respectively in the semi-finals.

Uniplast FC, with several former internationals, including goalkeeper V. Murugan and A. Jayakanthan, were considered the favourites for the crown. They were also the defending champions.

However, in the final, they were stretched to the maximum by a determined Singapore Chinese FC. The champions were decided on penalty kicks after both sides played to a 1-1 draw in the 20-minute match. During the shootout, Murugan saved a spot-kick and Uniplast FC, based in Batu Caves, Selangor, won 3-2 on penalties.

Murugan said they were determined to win the title for the second year.

"It was an exciting tournament and we had given our best,'' said Murugan.

Malaysia's Kilat FC finished third after beating Chengdu FC 3-2 on penalties. The score was 1-1 in regulation play.

Uniplast FC, as the champions, received US$700 (RM2,144) while Singapore Chinese FC pocketed US$500 (RM1,531). Kilat FC settled for US$300 (RM920).

In the Plate category Dynasty FC, a team from Macau, were too strong and defeated South Africa Airways 4-0 in the final.

IFC coach Ho Hon Seong said the competition had brought together players.

"Winning was not a priority. It was an occasion to meet old friends and have a good time. The hosts had also organised visits to some historical places.

"We certainly enjoyed our stay in Hangzhou,'' said Hon Seong, a former international.

Former national captain Datuk Soh Chin Aun was also part of the IFC entourage. Though he did not play, Chin Aun commended IFC for initiating the event in China.

"It was good to see the veterans, not only from Malaysia but also from other countries, display their skills in the competition,'' said Chin Aun.

Hangzhou Municipality deputy secretary-general Zhang Lian Shui said the football competition was a platform to foster friendship.

"Sports can bring together people from different parts of the world.

"We hope to organise more sporting events in Hangzhou,'' said Lian Shui, who is also the president of the Hangzhou Football Association.

The Hangzhou Municipality want to promote the city, about three hours on road from Shanghai, as a sporting as well as a tourist destination.

Besides the veteran football tournament, international junior shooting and boxing championships were held in Hangzhou recently.

"We also have an understanding with the Singapore Sports School. We have some exchange programmes with them,'' said Lian Shui.

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