Jumaat, 3 Jun 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

U.S. committed to Asia security despite budget crunch - Gates

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 08:20 PM PDT

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates assured Asian allies on Saturday the United States would maintain a robust military presence in the region despite a severe budget crunch and the protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speaks during a plenary session at the 10th International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 4, 2011. (REUTERS/Tim Chong)

Gates, speaking at the 10th annual Shangri-La Security Dialogue, said a decade of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan had strained U.S. ground forces and exhausted public patience, while the recession had left Washington with huge budget deficits and looking to cut military spending.

"Irrespective of the tough times the U.S. faces today, or the tough budget choices we confront in the coming years, ... America's interests as a Pacific nation -- as a country that conducts much of its trade in the region -- will endure," said Gates, who was making his fifth and final appearance at the Shangri-La gathering as Pentagon chief.

"The United States and Asia will only become more inextricably linked over the course of this century. These realities ... argue strongly for sustaining our commitments to allies while maintaining a robust military engagement and deterrent posture across the Pacific Rim," he said.

Gates' remarks come at a time of great change within the U.S. military community and uncertainty over defense spending as President Barack Obama faces rising political pressure to deal with Washington's $1.4 trillion budget deficit and more than $14 trillion in debt.

Gates is due to step down at the end of June and hand over to Secretary-designate Leon Panetta, the current CIA director. The top uniformed U.S. military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, will retire Oct. 1, and Obama has named Army General Martin Dempsey to replace him.

Against that backdrop, Gates sought to assure Asian allies that the United States would not only remain engaged in the region and fulfill its military commitments but would continue to develop and change to meet the shifting security situation.

"There is a fair degree of anxiety in the region right now -- given the budgetary pressures they perceive that the United States faces -- about what our future role is going to be in the Asia-Pacific region," a senior U.S. defense official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said few things would be as destabilising for the region than the perception of a retreat on the part of the United States.

"We are clearly signaling our commitment to continue to play a significant role in the Asia-Pacific region and on continuing to make sure that we have the capabilities ... to help underwrite peace and stability," the official said.

Gates told the forum the United States was not only committed to modernising its relationships with traditional allies Japan and South Korea but was also working to expand its presence and activities in Southeastern Asia.

"America has always shown the flexibility to not only maintain our presence in the Asia-Pacific, but to enhance it - by updating relationships, developing new capabilities, and transforming our defense posture to meet the challenges of the day," he said.


The U.S. defence secretary, who met his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie on Friday, said military ties between Washington and Beijing had improved recently and the two sides were working to build a "positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship."

Although Gates spoke of warming ties with Beijing, he also discussed how the U.S. government was funding weapons systems and capabilities seen as important in countering forces that could deny the U.S. Navy access to sea routes across the world.

Asked whether China wouldn't see the remarks as a concern, a senior U.S. defence official said it was an example of the need for greater military transparency between the two sides.

"Without transparency, we obviously have to do certain things and make certain preparations because it's not quite clear what everybody's intentions are," the official said. "So the more ... clear it is about what China's military investment is aimed at, the more clear it us for us what's going on in the region and what intentions are."

(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Jonathan Thatcher)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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More than 60 killed in Syria protests - rights group

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 07:49 PM PDT

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian forces killed at least 63 civilians in attacks to crush pro-democracy demonstrations on Friday, the Syrian human rights organisation Sawasiah said on Saturday.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets after noon prayers on Friday in defiance of security forces determined to crush a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year rule.

Sawasiah said 53 demonstrators were killed in the city of Hama, one in Damascus and two in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Seven people were also killed in the town of Rastan in central Syria, which has been under a military assault and a siege by tanks since Sunday.

It was one of the bloodiest days since the revolt broke out 11 weeks ago.

Security forces and snipers fired at tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the city of Hama, where 29 years ago President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar's father, crushed an armed Islamist revolt by killing up to 30,000 people and razing parts of the city to the ground.

Activists said at least 34 people were killed and scores wounded.

"The firing began from rooftops on the demonstrators. I saw scores of people falling in Assi square and the streets and alleyways branching out. Blood was everywhere," a witness who gave his name as Omar told Reuters from Hama.

"It looked to me as if hundreds of people have been injured but I was in a panic and wanted to find cover. Funerals for the martyrs have alrady started," he said.

In the southern city of Deraa, where protests first broke out 11 weeks ago, hundreds defied a military curfew and held protests, chanting "No dialogue with killers", two residents in the city told Reuters. The protest later broke up.

Syrian forces also opened fire on demonstrations in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor and in Damascus' Barzeh district.

"Tens of thousands turned up in Hama and Idlib in the biggest demonstrations since the uprising began. This is a natural reaction to the increased killings and lack of seriousness by the regime for any national reconciliation," said Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

One person was killed in Idlib, he said.

Activists and residents said thousands of people marched in the northwesterm province of Idlib, Kurdish northeast, several Damascus suburbs, the cities of Homs and Hama and the towns of Madaya and Zabadani in the west.


The U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded an immediate end to the "violent repression" and human rights abuses by Syrian forces.

Rights groups say security forces have killed more than 1,000 civilians, provoking international outrage at Assad's ruthless handling of the demonstrators.

Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed groups, backed by Islamists and foreign powers, and say the groups have fired on civilians and security forces alike. Authorities have prevented most international media from operating in Syria, making it impossible to verify accounts of the violence.

Activists say there have been some instances of citizens resisting security forces by using personal weapons, and of security police shooting soldiers for refusing to fire at protesters.

The activist who declined to be named said that before the shooting started protesters burned the Baath Party office in Hama and said it was not clear how the shooting broke out.

Assad has responded to protests by sending tanks to crush demonstrations in certain flashpoints and by making some reformist gestures, such as issuing a general amnesty to political prisoners and launching a national dialogue.

But protesters and opposition figures have dismissed these measures. The cities and towns of Deraa, Tel Kelakh, Banias and Rastan have undergone intense crackdowns by the military.

Western powers have condemned Assad as the unrest spreads and the death toll rises.

The United States, the European Union and Australia have imposed sanctions on Syria, but perhaps because of reluctance to get entangled in another confrontation such as Libya, and wary of provoking more instability in a region still in the midst of an "Arab Spring", their reactions have been less vehement.

Opposition figures meeting in Turkey called on Assad to resign immediately and hand power to the vice president until a council was formed to introduce democracy to the country.

(Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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"Dr. Death," Jack Kevorkian, dies at 83

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 07:18 PM PDT

DETROIT (Reuters) - Assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian, known as "Dr. Death" for helping more than 100 people end their lives, died early on Friday at age 83, his lawyer said.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian poses at the 62nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California August 29, 2010. Kevorkian, known as "Dr. Death" for helping more than 100 people end their lives, died early on Friday at age 83, his lawyer said. (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files)

Kevorkian died at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, where he had been hospitalized for about two weeks with kidney and heart problems, said Mayer Morganroth, Kevorkian's attorney and friend.

Kevorkian, recently found to have liver cancer, died from a pulmonary embolism, said Neal Nicol, a longtime friend who aided him in nearly all of his 130 admitted assisted suicides.

A pathologist, Kevorkian was focused on death and dying long before he ignited a polarizing national debate over assisted suicide by crisscrossing Michigan in a rusty Volkswagen van hauling a machine to help sick and suffering people end their lives.

Some viewed him as a hero who allowed the terminally ill to die with dignity, while his harshest critics reviled him as a cold-blooded killer who preyed on those suffering from chronic pain and depression. Most of his clients were middle-aged women.

"Dr. Jack Kevorkian was a rare human being," his longtime attorney Geoffrey Fieger told reporters on Friday.

"It's a rare human being who can single-handedly take on an entire society by the scruff of its neck and force it to focus on the suffering of other human beings."

Kevorkian launched his assisted-suicide campaign in 1990, allowing an Alzheimer's patient to kill herself using a machine he devised that enabled her to trigger a lethal drug injection. He was charged with first-degree murder in the case, but the charges were later dismissed.

Fiery and unwavering in his cause, Kevorkian made a point of thumbing his nose at lawmakers, prosecutors and judges as he accelerated his campaign through the 1990s, using various methods including carbon monoxide gas.

Often, Kevorkian would drop off bodies at hospitals late at night or leave them in motel rooms where the assisted suicides took place.

He beat Michigan prosecutors four times before his conviction for second-degree murder in 1999 after a CBS News program aired a video of him administering lethal drugs to a 52-year-old man suffering from debilitating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease.


Kevorkian was imprisoned for eight years. As a condition of his parole in 2007, he promised not to assist in any more suicides.

"People have taken a long hard honest look at death and I think that is probably his legacy," his friend Nicol said. "He would have liked to have done more, but those eight years in prison just took it out of him."

Kevorkian had appealed to leave prison early because of poor health, but said he did not consider himself a candidate for assisted suicide.

No heroic measures were used to treat Kevorkian and no public memorials were planned.

Kevorkian did not leave the public eye after his exit from prison, giving occasional lectures and in 2008 running for Congress unsuccessfully.

An HBO documentary on his life and a movie, "You Don't Know Jack," starring Al Pacino, brought him back into the limelight last year.

Born in the Detroit suburb of Pontiac, Kevorkian taught himself the flute and was a painter. Well read in philosophy and history, he cited Aristotle, Sir Thomas More and Pliny the Elder in his arguments for why people should have the right to die with dignity.

In a June 2010 interview with Reuters Television, the right-to-die activist said he was afraid of death as much as anyone else and said the world had a hypocritical attitude towards voluntary euthanasia, or assisted suicide.

"If we can aid people into coming into the world, why can't we aid them in exiting the world?" he said.

Doctor-assisted suicide essentially became law in Oregon in 1997 and in Washington state in 2009. The practice of doctors writing prescriptions to help terminally ill patients kill themselves was ultimately upheld as legal by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"It wouldn't have happened as soon, I don't think," Nicol said. "It may have happened in time. I think the logic of the situation is such that you can't deny it for too long before it becomes fact and I think Jack accelerated that."

Kevorkian was first dubbed "Dr. Death" by colleagues during his medical residency in the 1950s when he asked to work the night shift at Detroit Receiving Hospital so he could be on duty when more people died.

His career was interrupted by the Korean War, when he served 15 months as an Army medical officer.

After the U.S. Supreme Court permitted states to reinstate the death penalty in 1976, Kevorkian campaigned for performing medical experiments and harvesting the organs of death row inmates -- with their consent -- before their executions.

(Reporting by Mike Miller in Detroit and James Kelleher in Chicago; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by David Lawder and Jerry Norton)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'Glee' star Jane Lynch chosen to host Emmy Awards

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 12:17 AM PDT

NEW YORK (AP): Get out the megaphone: "Glee" star Jane Lynch will be hosting the Emmy Awards.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced Thursday that Lynch will host "The 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards" honoring excellence in prime-time TV. The ceremony will be held at Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre and will air Sept. 18 on Fox.

Lynch stars as a megaphone-wielding cheerleading coach who bullies students on the hit Fox series about a high school glee club.

The actress says she's "tickled pink" to be chosen as Emmy host. The awards show will be executive produced by Mark Burnett of "Survivor" and "Celebrity Apprentice" fame.

The 50-year-old Lynch has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance as Sue Sylvester on "Glee."

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The Star Online: Business

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China sees yuan rise halting

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 06:16 PM PDT

BEIJING: The Chinese yuan's steady appreciation could come to an end after two or three years, and the central bank is more likely to use quantitative measures rather than interest rates to check inflation, a former adviser to the central bank said in remarks published yesterday.

Fang Gang, a government economist, was quoted in the Securities Times as predicting the Chinese economy faced no risk of a hard landing, adding that although economic growth rate was still at a reasonable level, it pace was moderating.

"In the past eight months, the central bank more often used quantitative tools, including central bank bills, reserve requirement ratio and credit quota limit, but it made less use of interest rate rises," Fan said.

Such a preference would likely continue, he said, since raising Chinese interest rates would widen the gap with US rates and lure more undesirable capital inflows.

Fan's comments came amid market talk that the central bank may raise interest rates as early as this weekend as annual inflation is expected to accelerate in May from 5.3% in April, which was near 32-month highs.

Fan said China's yuan had risen 5% in the past year, and considering an annual inflation rate of 4%, he said the real appreciation had reached 9%.

The semi-official newspaper paraphrased him as telling a forum in Hong Kong that he expected the yuan to stop rising after two to three years.

In the short term, however, economists expect the central bank to allow faster yuan appreciation to cool inflation, which is its top policy priority now.

China has raised interest rates four times and increased banks' reserve requirement ratio eight times since October. Such tightening steps have started to bite, as two surveys showed on Wednesday that Chinese factories expanded in May at their lowest pace in at least nine months. - Reuters

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Celcom sees higher profit

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 06:15 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Celcom Axiata Bhd expects to grow its profit after tax and minority interests (PATAMI) for the financial year ending Dec 31 (FY11) by at least RM200mil via new product launches, cost savings and smart spending initiatives.

Chief executive officer Datuk Seri Shazalli Ramly said the telecommunications company expected PATAMI to hit RM2bil in FY11 from RM1.8bil in FY10.

"If we can hit the right momentum from sales (of products) as well as cost savings and smart spending activities, we should achieve it," he said at Celcom's first-quarter results briefing yesterday.

Shazalli said Celcom typically launched five key products per quarter.

"This would translate into about 20 products per year. The products can be new or adjustments and improvements (to existing products)," he said.

"This (the products) will drive 80% of our sales," Shazalli added.

He also said Celcom was investing about RM1bil this year in capital expenditure on network modernisation, upgrades to its business intelligence solutions and improvements to its billings platform.

For its first quarter ended March 31, Celcom's revenue rose 2% to RM1.74bil compared with RM1.7bil in the previous corresponding period.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) grew 5% to RM811mil from RM773mil previously.

The increase in earnings marked the company's 20th consecutive quarter of growth.

PATAMI grew 13% to RM499mil, driven by continuous effective cost-control management.

Celcom's user base rose 9% to 11.3 million during the period. These additions were due to the company's acquisition drives in conjunction with its "Our Celcom, Our Sale" campaign and successful targeting of certain segments such as foreign workers, said Shazalli.

Average revenue per user (Arpu) for its postpaid customers increased to RM94 in the first quarter of 2011 compared with RM90 a year earlier, while prepaid Arpu dipped to RM37 from RM42 previously.

The telco also saw its number of broadband subscribers increase 38% to 876,000 in the first three months of 2011.

Shazalli said Celcom's performance in the first quarter was commendable, given that the period was often the "toughest" in a year.

"Seasonally, the first quarter is usually the least favourable because of the shorter number of days and the festive holidays (like Chinese New Year) where our dealers will take long breaks."

On the outlook for the second quarter, Shazalli said he expected it to be challenging.

"Earnings for this (second) quarter will be similar to that of the first. It won't be drastic. (Other) telcos will also ramp up their campaigns and advertising in the second quarter," he said.

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Finally, TNB re-energised

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 05:29 PM PDT

There is renewed interest from investors in view of the Government's decision to allow for an electricity tariff hike.

It's been a long time coming, but now, the table has turned for Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB).

The national power company is now back in the game with renewed interest from investors, following the long-awaited decision by the Government to raise the price of natural gas to the power sector and correspondingly allow for an electricity tariff hike.

To recap, the Government over the week announced a gas price hike to the power sector from RM10.70/mmbtu (million British thermal units) to RM13.70/mmbtu and an average electricity tariff hike of 7.12%, both of which took effect fromWednesday. The average tariff increase was composed of a 5.12% hike to reflect the new gas price and a 2% rise in base tariff for TNB to partly recover from the higher of cost of power supply since June 2006.

(The base tariff was originally due for revision in 2009, that is, three years after the last tariff review in 2006, but this had been deferred until now, even though the cost of electricity supply had been rising over the years.)

Another positive surprise announced in this latest round of electricity tariff review has been the re-introduction of a fuel cost pass-through (FCPT) mechanism, under which the fuel cost would be reviewed every six months and any changes due to variations in fuel prices be it for gas, coal or oil - would be passed through in the end-user tariff. This could certainly help ease TNB's burden of future rise in fuel costs.

Running out of gas

But more than just benefiting TNB and helping to alleviate the company's rising cost burden, the latest round of revisions in the prices of power and its related sources is widely seen as a constructive measure to address what TNB president and CEO Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh calls a "real" structural problem in the Malaysian electricity delivery system.

"We've been keeping our gas prices suppressed way below market prices for far too long that the price we have today is probably relevant 15 years ago, and as a result of our inaction in addressing the issue, there have been very few new investments in our country to develop new sources of energy," he tells StarBizWeek.

The market price of natural gas has already risen to around RM40/mmbtu currently, and that goes to show how severely under-priced the country's gas price to the power sector is, even with the recent revision in prices.

According to Che Khalib, the volume of gas made available to Malaysia has remained unchanged for the last 15 years at around 2,000 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) even though demand has been steadily rising over the years and has exceeded the threshold at present. This, he says, is mainly due to the distorted gas price in the country.

"The sad part is, we have invested about RM30bil to develop gas-powered plants, which in total could generate about 12,000MW. But we cannot run them because we do not have enough gas. Based on our present gas power generation capacity, the volume we need is about 1,700 mmcfd," Che Khalib shares, pointing out that of the total volume of gas supplied to Malaysia, the power sector is entitled to 1,350 mmcfd.

However, during the gas curtailment period, TNB is only getting 850 mmcfd.

"People are just not putting in new investments into the sector because there is no incentive to do so; what we have at present are mainly investments made 30 years ago. In other words, we are using old infrastructure (which could break down anytime) to extract gas, and this has contributed to the inconsistency of the fuel supply in the country," he explains.

Addressing the problem

Nevertheless, with a clearer direction now from the Government that it will progressively realign the price of natural gas to the power sector in Malaysia, Che Khalib believes oil majors will begin to look at reinvesting in the sector aggressively.

The original plan put forth by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit, or Pemandu, under the Prime Minister's Department, is for the gas price to the power sector be raised at a fixed rate of RM3/mmbtu every six months until it becomes on par with international market price by 2015. The recent policy stance on gas and tariff adjustments reflects that Malaysia is on track with the proposal.

Such development bodes well for the industry, particularly with the establishment of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Malacca. Slated to be ready by July 2012, with a capacity of 350 mmcfd, the terminal will cater to fully imported gas, and help alleviate a potential gas supply shortage in Peninsular Malaysia.

"If gas price in Malaysia was to continue at subsidised rates, the LNG terminal is going to be empty because no company would want to sell gas to us at such low rate when it can sell it at market rates, which are higher, elsewhere," Che Khalib says.

"We can buy from companies in the Middle East, but they are not going to sell to us based on love and affection. They are also businessmen. Any deal will be based on commercial terms," he quips.

Minimal impact?

Undoubtedly, though, the rise in electricity tariff will add to the inflationary pressure that the country is already facing now. But the impact of the recent electricity tariff hike on the country's inflation, according to economists, will likely be minimal.

April's consumer price index growth was at 3.2% year-on-year, driven mainly by rising food and fuel prices. The recent change in power tariff is expected to add only around 0.1 to 0.2 basis points to the gauge of inflationary pressure in the country.

"I think the people have to appreciate this: When the Government looks at tariff revision, the public at large has always been the prime concern, as evident in it making sure that at least 50% of the domestic consumers would not be affected every time a revision is made," Che Khalib says.

Since 1997, the rates for consumers falling into the so-called lifeline category, that is, those who consume less than 201 kilowatt-hour per month (kWh/month), have remained unchanged. This round, the Government has widened the band for consumption level that qualifies for exemption from tariff hike to 300kWh/month, so that at least 75% of total domestic consumers would not be affected.

As for industrial customers, Che Khalib reveals that only a handful, less than 300 of industrial and commercial consumers, are heavy users, with power accounting for more than 5% of their respective total operating costs. These power guzzlers, which are typically involved in heavy industries such as steel and cement and electrical and electronic companies, are still eligible for Special Industry Tariff to help minimise electricity cost.

The bulk of TNB's industrial and commercial consumers, about 90% of them, are light and moderate users, with electricity accounting for only less than 5% of their total operating costs.

Che Khalib comments: "For easy calculation, if the tariff increase is 10%, their total production costs will only increase by 0.5%, not even 1%.

"So, I don't see any justification for them to raise their product prices, when the impact on their total operating costs is so minimal," he argues, adding that he hopes all consumers in Malaysia will begin to conserve energy and move towards energy-efficiency for better allocation of resources.

For TNB, in general, all costs have gone up substantially. It's not only in terms of its fuel requirements, but also for other components, such as copper, aluminium and steel, which are used in its power transmission systems in the country.

It's only reasonable, therefore, for TNB to have its tariff rates adjusted to achieve a reasonable return to ensure the sustainability and viability of its business in providing reliable electricity supply for the country.

"The more we delay the price adjustments, the more we will compound the problem," Che Khalib says.

"It's better to have a small increase now so that the industry and consumers can have time to adjust, than to have to face a sudden, big and painful adjustment later," he adds.

The constant battle

Moving forward, fuel security and fuel price volatility are expected to be a constant challenge for utility companies like TNB.

According to the company's annual report for financial year ended Aug 31, 2010, TNB's total generation mix was made up of 53.1% gas and 34.1% coal.

Besides the continuous rise in the prices of fossil fuel (in TNB's case, coal) inflicting pain on the company's bottom line, TNB is also concerned about the availability of fuel supply.

For one, the increasingly frequent weather problems such as the recent flooding in Indonesia and Australia could continue to disrupt fuel supply, especially that of coal.

And with some countries turning away from nuclear power due to the increasingly negative perception towards the technology, global demand for fossil fuel is set to increase, as those countries return to the conventional way of generating electricity.

"Already, we have price, inclement weather and supply problems. The policy of not using nuclear power as adopted by some governments will further compound the existing problems," Che Khalib explains.

As for TNB, the key is to be as efficient as possible in managing its operations and to save costs.

The company is currently absorbing the bulk of the cost increases in its operations without passing it on to consumers. For example the increase in coal prices. The recently revised electricity tariff is still based on a coal price of US$85 per tonne, even though the actual coal price has already risen to around US$120 per tonne.

The reintroduction of FCPT mechanism could be a form of relief for TNB in the future. Such mechanism, which was once applied in Malaysia before 1980, is a common feature in many countries such as Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Japan, the United States and Europe and it is to minimise the impact of fuel price volatility on utility companies.

But the FCPT mechanism in Malaysia will only be effective for gas prices at the moment. Other fuels such as oil and coal have yet to be included in the scheme, so TNB will still have to absorb the difference in the fuel prices until the revision comes.

"We are lucky because we have some leftover (of coal supply) from last year's contract. That helps to cap our average coal price at US$110 per tonne for FY2011," Che Khalib says.

"But next year is going to be a very big challenge for TNB," he adds.

Power security

With energy security becoming an increasingly pressing issue for Malaysia, Che Khalib points out the urgency to formulate a new energy policy for the country.

"The last time we formulated an energy policy was almost 30 years ago. Since then, no one has actually looked at it again, even though world circumstances have changed and the power sector is facing new challenges now," Che Khalib says, adding that he is currently involved in the process of formulating a new energy policy for Malaysia.

"In many industrialised countries, energy policy is second after national security," he adds.

Last year, the Energy Commission warned that Peninsular Malaysia could face a power shortage by 2015, with reserve margin falling below 20% from the present 42%. This was based on an annual electricity demand growth of 5% to 8% to correspond with the country's targeted economic growth rate of 6% per year for the next five years, and assuming there was no new additional capacity.

The other pertinent issue that requires urgent decision, according to Che Khalib, is the first-generation power-purchasing agreements (PPAs) that will be expiring in 2016. These PPAs involve independent power producers (IPPs) like YTL Power International Bhd, Malakoff Corp Bhd, Tanjong plc, and Genting Sanyen Power Sdn Bhd. They collectively account for around 4,115MW of the generation capacity in Malaysia.

The negotiation is currently led by the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water, with the assistance of TNB.

"We definitely need to address this issue urgently and see how we could do better moving forward," Che Khalib says, adding that he thinks the industry should be open to inviting new players who could be more competitive and efficient in terms of their generation capacity and pricing.

As for seeking alternative sources, such as renewables and nuclear, to generate electricity, Che Khalib thinks that the pursuit of renewable energy is no longer a choice, but a necessity.

Over the week, the Government has announced that it would begin collection of an additional 1% from the monthly electricity bill of users of more than 300kWh from Sept 1 this year to be channelled to the Renewable Energy Fund. The fund, managed by Sustainable Energy Development Authority under the ministry, will be used for the promotion and development of renewable energy projects and initiatives in the country.

Under the National Renewable Energy Policy and Action Plan, the goal is to increase renewable sources' contribution to electricity generation mix from less than 1% currently to 5.5% by 2015.

As for the pursuit of nuclear energy, Che Khalib says, there's probably still time for Malaysia to decide on that. Nevertheless, he thinks that the country should waste no time equipping its people with the necessary knowledge and skills to develop the technology.

"Should we decide to pursue the technology two three years down the road, we will be ready and equipped to do so," he explains, pointing out that nuclear plants take many years to build.

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

French Open finalist Li is key to boom in China

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 06:08 PM PDT

PARIS (AP) — With a racket in her hand, Li Na holds the key to a burgeoning tennis boom in China.

The 29-year-old Li, who is trying to become the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title, will face defending champion Francesca Schiavone in the French Open final on Saturday.

"Tennis is something of an overlooked sport in China," the Australian Open runner-up said Friday. "So I hope that it will become more common in China and that more and more people will become fans."

A few months ago, Li became the first Chinese player to even reach a Grand Slam final before losing to Kim Clijsters.

But in China, a country of 1.3 billion people, the sport is gaining more followers as the middle class grows. Li said she heard 40 million people watched her beat Maria Sharapova on Thursday in the semifinals.

Schiavone, the first woman from her country to win a major, went through a similar experience 12 months ago. And an increase in youth tennis in Italy followed.

"Last year when I won French Open, the percentages of the people that sign (up) in the tennis club, the young, the kids, are much higher than before. So that's good," Schiavone said. "Of course, we are not millions and millions like in China, because we are totally — how many we are? Seventy million?

"So it's big difference, but we are Italian. We have big hearts."

Combined, the finalists are the oldest pair in a women's Grand Slam championship match since Wimbledon in 1998, when Jana Novotna, 29, beat Nathalie Tauziat, 30.

Li is 29, but any questions about her advanced age — for a tennis player, that is — come with some risk.

"I'm not old," Li pouted when asked about the recent trend of older Grand Slam champions in the women's game. "Why do you think I'm old? I feel I'm still young."

The 30-year-old Schiavone is about 1½ years older than Li, but is taking her second Grand Slam final in stride.

"I (will) go to take a walk I think this afternoon and then rest a little bit, get some physiotherapy," Schiavone said of her plans for her day off. "Eating, enjoy with friends. Nothing special.

"I don't think now (about) Li Na. I will think tomorrow."

When she does get around to it, Schiavone will be able to recall last year, when she became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam title and the oldest woman since 1969 to win her first major title. Along the way to that championship, she beat Li 6-4, 6-2 in the third round, evening their head-to-head record to 2-2.

That wasn't a surprise, because Schiavone is comfortable on the red clay, while Li has said she was never a fan of the surface.

"It's a mix of everything. So you have to be good physically, mentally," Schiavone said of the clay. "You can't play just power, because you have always the time to (defend) and to counterattack."

Schiavone is playing in her first final since last year's tournament at Roland Garros. And by winning her second major championship, she would become the first woman over 30 to win a Grand Slam title since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon at the age of 33 in 1990.

Before that happens, Schiavone will have to take care of Li on Court Philippe Chatrier. That may not be so easy.

"In Melbourne was like first time in the final. You don't have any experience before you come to the Grand Slam final," Li said, remembering her recent experience at the Australian Open. "But I have one time already, so I think I can do better in this time."

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F1 returns to US for 21-race 2012 season

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 06:06 PM PDT

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Formula One will have a United States Grand Prix next year for the first time since 2007. The American race was the only addition to a record 21-race calendar for 2012.

Austin, Texas, will host the race on June 17, one week after the Canadian GP in Montreal. Austin agreed to a 10-year deal to host F1.

The Bahrain GP returns as the season-opener despite having to be rescheduled from March to October this year due to political protests in the Gulf Kingdom. The March 11 race begins a season that culminates with the Brazilian GP on Nov. 25.

The Korean GP was moved forward to April 22 while the Turkish GP on May 6 is still to be confirmed.

The calendar reached 20 races for the first time this year.

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Sharapova withdraws from Wimbledon warmup event

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 06:02 PM PDT

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from the Aegon Classic grasscourt tournament in Birmingham, traditionally her only warmup event before Wimbledon.

The 24-year-old Russian, who lost in the semifinals of the French Open, said Friday she would be unable to play because of illness.

Sharapova has played in Birmingham seven times, winning the title twice and reaching the final on two other occasions.

Fellow French Open semifinalist Marion Bartoli of France also pulled out of the tournament with an injury, leaving Kaia Kanepi of Estonia as the top seed.

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Gulp this down

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 03:26 AM PDT

Devil's Wealth: A New World Order
Author: Richard Bhar
Publisher: Authorhouse, 305 pages

RICHARD Bhar's debut novel is a global thriller charting one man's meteoric rise to the highest echelons of political and financial power. It also features generous doses of supernatural occurrences, liberal lashings of violence, murderous shape-shifting beasts, Mafia power struggles and spiritual enlightenment. And did I mention a love story being shoe-horned somewhere among all that?

Bhar, a mechanical engineer and management consultant by training, doesn't lack for ambition or high concept in his first stab at writing fiction. If his mashing of genres results in some jarring tonal shifts in the tale, the resultant hodgepodge of disparate themes still makes for a heady cocktail of immense readability thanks to Bhar's breezy prose and short chapters.

Anointed with greatness on the very day of his birth, pronounced by the village sage that "this male child will live the life of a mystic, encountering and controlling circumstances beyond the comprehension of normal beings", the story's protagonist, Malaysia-born Jaget Mann sets off to Britain at the age of 16 to fulfil his destiny.

There, he meets the mysterious and ageless Nicole Grey who grants him his wish to "be a very wealthy and powerful man with the right to move to the very top". But does his wish come layered in Faustian lustre?

With £100mil deposited into his account by his mysterious benefactor, and armed with solid guidance from legendary financial adviser Marcus Astone, Jaget begins accruing wealth with almost supernatural speed, adding to an already thriving business importing coffee through investments in the British Steel Corporation, commissioning the building of an oil tanker for transportation hires above market rates and the purchase of 20-storey Court Point, located on prime land in the heart of London which eventually becomes the centralised hub of his business operations not to mention an impregnable fortress.

In the process, Jaget gets into bed, figuratively, with the Mafia led by Don Cuzio and literally with the ravishing cardiologist Dr Rita Channa.

As Jaget's wealth and power grow to astronomical proportions thanks to his dabbling in the lucrative drug trade and the strategic removal (read: assassination) of rivals facilitated by The Don, the reader is primed to expect a morality tale with Jaget heading for a colossal fall – but Bhar throws a neat twist into the plot, veering the tale off into intriguing tangents.

For Jaget has plans for his drugs that can only be described as unique. A New World Order is being planned and somewhere, an Omnipotent Father watches ...

Bhar chronicles Jaget's rise to the topmost tier in "the sphere of influence" with consummate skill and the interesting directions the story takes makes for a painless and often exciting read, which compensate for certain scenes that go from implausible to frankly preposterous (there's an incident in Bali and a showdown on the helipad on top of Court Point that makes suspension of disbelief an arduous task).

The novel's timeline spans the late 1960s to the late 1970s but, barring the absence of the Internet and cell phones, could have been set in the current times with no difficulty, as there is a lack of period detail provided by the author.

The characters could have used a little more meat, development-wise, and while the entire tale is told from Jaget's point of view, as a protagonist you don't get to really like or sympathise with him thanks to an almost preternatural self-assuredness and a sense of his own importance that borders on megalomania. But Bhar's tale is ambitious in scope and the narrative suitably gripping to tide you over such shortcomings.

This is best read in a single gulp with light music and sipping whisky on a rainy evening.

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Shadowy secrets

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 03:24 AM PDT

The Secret Zoo: Shadows And Secrets
Author: Brian Chick
Publisher: Greenwillow Books,
272 pages

ONLY weeks after their return from the Secret Zoo, Noah and his friends must go back – and face their biggest challenge yet.

With monstrous sasquatches freely attacking the denizens of the zoo and the evil Shadowist at large, the fate of the world is at stake.

As Crossers, Noah, Megan, Richie, and Ella would help protect the zoo from these dangers. But do they have what it takes to complete their training? And what other secrets are hiding in the shadows?

The Penderwicks At Point Mouette
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young
Readers, 304 pages

WHEN summer comes around, it's off to the beach for Rosalind – and off to Maine with Aunt Claire for the rest of the Penderwick girls, as well as their old friend, Jeffrey. That leaves Skye as OAP (oldest available Penderwick) – a terrifying notion for all, but for Skye especially.

Things look good as they settle into their cozy cottage, with a rocky shore, enthusiastic seagulls, a just-right corner store and a charming next-door neighbour. But can Skye hold it together long enough to figure out Rosalind's directions about not letting Batty explode?

Will Jane's Love Survey come to a tragic conclusion after she meets the alluring Dominic? Is Batty – contrary to all accepted wisdom – the only Penderwick capable of carrying a tune? And will Jeffrey be able to keep peace between the girls who are his second, and most heartfelt, family?

Darkness Rising Book 1: The Gathering
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperCollins,
368 pages

STRANGE things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town.

First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake.

Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home – and her reactions to them are somewhat ... unexpected.

Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.

It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy – her paw-print birthmark.

Wings Book 3: Illusions
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Publisher: HarperTeen, 384 pages

LAUREL hasn't seen Tamani since she begged to see him. That was a year go. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that she made the right decision. But just as life returns to normal, Laurel realises that a hidden enemy lies in wait.

Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.

Wolves Of Mercy Falls Book 3: Forever
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press,
400 pages

IN Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. In Linger, they fought to be together. Now, in Forever, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death closes in.

Okay For Now
Author: Gary D. Schmidt
Publisher: Clarion Books,
368 pages

AS a 14-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him.

As he struggles to be more than the "skinny thug" that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer – a fiery young lady who "smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain."

In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam.

A Tale Of Two Castles
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Illustrator: Greg Call
Publisher: Harper Collins,
336 pages

NEWLY arrived in the town of Two Castles, Elodie unexpectedly becomes the assistant to a brilliant dragon named Meenore, and together they solve mysteries.

Their most important case concerns the town's shape-shifting ogre, Count Jonty Um: Someone is plotting against him. Elodie must disguise herself to discover the source of the threat amid a cast of characters that includes a greedy king, a giddy princess and a handsome cat trainer.

Author & Illustrator: Kevin Henkes
Publisher: Greenwillow Books,
192 pages

RETURNING to the beach cottage where she has always celebrated her birthday is a special occasion for Alice Rice.

Who will see the first dolphin this time? The first pelican? What will have changed? Stayed the same? And will this be the year she finally finds a junonia shell? Alice's friends are all returning, too.

And she's certain her parents have the best party planned for her. Alice can't wait. If she's lucky, everything will be absolutely perfect. Will Alice be lucky?

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Rabbis and robbers

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 03:24 AM PDT

The Jersey Sting
Authors: Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin
Publisher: St Martin's Press,
400 pages

IT was like a small military undertaking when the FBI deployed over 300 agents in eastern New Jersey and the New York borough of Brooklyn early one July morning in 2009.

They captured 44 people, including five rabbis. Most were accused of political bribery, money laundering and tax evasion. One rabbi was charged with trafficking in human kidneys.

The story of The Jersey Sting is meticulously, seriously – and humorously – told by Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin, two reporters at The Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey (Margolin now works for the New York Post.)

Coverage of the investigation by Sherman and Margolin and The Star-Ledger staff was awarded the Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting from the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and also was honoured as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.

The tale is complex. It centres on the career of Solomon Dwek, the son of a rabbi. He combined the roles of an unlicensed real estate broker, school executive, money launderer, political operator with a specialty in bribes and an FBI informant wearing a concealed camera and voice recorder.

Dwek's work for the FBI was authorised by US Attorney Chris Christie, now governor of New Jersey and a not-too-dark horse for the Republican nomination in the 2012 US presidential race.

Christie was also the first to announce Dwek's arrest following a plea agreement. Dwek pleaded guilty of trying to defraud a bank by cashing two phony checks – US$25mil (RM75.25mil at today's rates) each. It was an attempt to shore up a Ponzi scheme in connection with his real estate business. He faces nine to 11 years in prison, remaining under "house arrest" while other cases are being decided.

So it's not light reading to undertake instead of a TV whodunit after a heavy dinner and a long day at the office. The alert reader will also get an introduction to New Jersey politics and its reputation for corruption. It's a help that the authors have furnished a convenient cast of characters with nearly 100 names and roles. – AP

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Hollywood hot for music biopics

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 03:33 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Billboard): Biographical films about music icons often go through lengthy development periods.

Changes in directors, writers and stars are common -- witness projects involving the careers of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Miles Davis, Brian Wilson and the Mamas & the Papas that have kicked around for decades.

Here is a look at 12 projects in various stages of development, along with the one (Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life) that actually has a solid release date.


The latest: Casting sessions to find an unknown to play the slain rapper apparently proved fruitless: Soulja Boy told MTV in May he had been approached to audition for the role. Antoine Fuqua will direct the Morgan Creek production; 2Pac's mother, Afeni Shakur-Davis, is an executive producer.

Prognosis: Very close to definite, but the budget will likely hinge on whether 2Pac is portrayed by a star or an unknown.


The latest: A film about the Godfather of Soul was in the works before his death in 2006 with a script that had already been rewritten once. Spike Lee boarded the project within days of Brown's death and Wesley Snipes was fitted for the cape, vest, and conked hair. Two years ago, Lee said Snipes would sing as well. The film has moved to a back burner at Paramount -- perhaps because Snipes is serving time on income tax evasion?

Prognosis: Another Ray -- a film with a long road ahead.


The latest: Jake Scott (Welcome To The Rileys) will direct the untitled biopic, penned by Ryan Jaffe, about the rising star, son of late folk icon Tim Buckley, who drowned in 1997 at age 30. Michelle Sy (Finding Neverland) and Orian Williams (Control) are producing; Buckley's mother Mary Guibert is the executive producer. Principal photography is scheduled for the fall and Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson has been considered for the lead.

Prognosis: Likely to be made; distribution will be another story.


The latest: Producer Jody Klein, whose company ABKCO owns the soul singer's recordings and publishing, commissioned the team of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (Across The Universe, The Commitments) to pen a script. Klein has been taking the finished script to directors for a few months. ABKCO intends to finance the film.

Prognosis: A go project that, with the right star -- there have been rumblings about Anthony Mackie, and Ray Lavender announced a few weeks ago on his Twitter feed that he got the part, but there's no confirmation -- could be an Oscar contender.


The latest: Executive producer and writer Vivek Tiwary says he has the US$25 million needed to make this film about the Beatles' late manager as well as the rights to 6-10 Beatles songs. He has listed All You Need Is Love, A Day In The Life and You've Got To Hide Your Love Away as already cleared. The script covers Epstein's life from 1961 through 1967, the year of his death.

Prognosis: Beatles music in a movie means Paul, Ringo and the estates have approved it. If true, there should be no problem getting this made.


The latest: Franklin told USA Today she has secured ''financial and creative control'' but to date has not provided details. She has gone on talk shows (The View, Wendy Williams, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon) and expressed an interest in having Halle Berry (who passed on the project in January, saying she can't sing) and Patina Miller from the Broadway musical Sister Act to play the young Queen of Soul.

Prognosis: As a TV movie it's likely, but creative-control issues lurk.


The latest: After decades of stops and starts with different stars and directors, Screen Daily reported in February that British documentary filmmaker Julien Temple (Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten) would tackle the story of Gaye recording his final album, Midnight Love, in Brussels, as well as his friendship with the Belgian promoter Freddy Cousaert.

Prognosis: As proposed, this is not the biopic fans want to see. It would have to play extremely well at film festivals to get distribution.


The latest: Released in the U.K. last summer, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life will hit U.S. screens on August 31. Eric Elmosnino stars; Joann Sfar directed and wrote the script. It is the only biopic on a release schedule this year.

Prognosis: A box-office gross of US$5 million would be astounding.


The latest: Reese Witherspoon announced in August that she has secured Peggy Lee's life rights and music rights, and had tapped Nora Ephron would write and direct. Witherspoon would produce and, if her schedule allowed, star as the 1950s songstress. Witherspoon has since taken on two other acting-producing jobs.

Prognosis: Witherspoon's announcement came out of the blue and was immediately greeted with skepticism - when would she have time to do this? There have been no follow-up reports since the initial announcement.


The latest: Director Jenny Ash is developing a film based on Marley's year in London, 1977, theoretically circumventing the need for Marley recordings. Greenacre Films is producing.

Prognosis: The Marley estate has declined to give its blessing, making this a very, very tough sell to a distributor. If it gets made without music, it will be a tough sell to a large audience.


The latest: Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon created Queen Films to participate in the movie with GK Films partners Graham King and Tim Headington. Sacha Baron Cohen stars as Freddie Mercury in script from Peter Morgan that is being worked on. The band's involvement, combined with an emphasis on their less-prolific '80s era, will ease access to recordings.

Prognosis: As real a movie as there is. Hollywood Records presumably has a marketing plan in place around its reissue of the group's catalog this year.


The latest: The team is coming together at Universal Pictures, including director Martin Scorsese and producer Scott Rudin. It's four years away, though, as 2015 is Sinatra's centennial. The Sinatra family, which controls the music and his image, has all rights under a single roof.

Prognosis: The start is easily three years away, plenty of time for other projects to arise. Everyone will want this to be perfect.

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Movies coming soon

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 03:21 AM PDT

Super 8 – Director extraordinaire J.J. Abrams also writes this film which revolves around a bunch of friends in a small town in Ohio, who are making a zombie film during their school summer break. Their Super 8 camera, however, ends up recording an unusual event which will forever change their lives. The film is headlined mainly by young newcomers including Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths and Ryan Lee. The more known names featured in the film include Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler and Noah Emmerich.

Dylan Dog: Dead Of Night – Brandon Routh (he of Bryan Singer's Superman) plays a private eye who specialises in affairs of the dead. His business card reads: "No Pulse? No problem." It is based on the popular series of comic books.

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Lindsay Lohan's monitoring bracelet malfunctions

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 12:18 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (AP): Lindsay Lohan's attorney says the actress's electronic monitoring bracelet has been replaced after a malfunction. Attorney Shawn Holley said Thursday that Lohan's electronic monitoring system went off on Monday.

Holley says a representative from the monitoring company went to Lohan's house in Venice and found her at home. The bracelet was replaced the next day.

Lohan was arrested twice for driving under the influence in 2007, and remains on probation for offenses. She is serving about 35 days of house arrest for violating her probation by taking a necklace without permission.

Dave Leone, bureau chief of adult services for Los Angeles County's probation department, says private companies sometimes contract with the county to oversee electronic monitoring. He did not comment on Lohan's case.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Najib: M'sia to play greater role in global peace and stability

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 06:23 AM PDT

SINGAPORE: Malaysia will continue to match words with action in playing a greater role to help ensure global peace and stability, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"Malaysia has and will continue to play its role as a responsible global citizen. And, we have shown and will continue to show that our commitment is not merely rhetorical but is backed up by action," he said in his keynote address at the opening of the 10th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue here on Friday.

In working to secure world peace, Najib said, Malaysian peacekeepers had served under the umbrella of both the United Nations and Nato, and that from Somalia to the Balkans, Malaysian security personnel had made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of global stability.

"But ours is not simply a peacekeeping role. Malaysia contributes in many, sometimes rather unexpected, ways - for example in Afghanistan, where we are playing our part in the country's rehabilitation by sending much-needed female Muslim doctors," he said.

In the fight against global terrorism, Najib pointed out that Malaysia had also been an active player, pro-active in ensuring Malaysia became neither a hotbed nor a transit point for terrorist operations.

"This is either actively or through the sharing of intelligence with regional security apparatus. We have helped with the apprehension or elimination of terrorists like Mas Selamat, Dr Azhari and Nordin Mat Top," he said.

Citing the southern Philippines as an example, Najib said Malaysia had put in place an international monitoring team and acted as an intermediary by hosting peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

"And in southern Thailand, we have signalled our willingness to help with the socio-economic development of the four provinces with substantial Muslim population," he said.

Bilaterally, Najib said, Malaysia was working with the United States to combat crimes like drug trafficking, terrorism and fraud, and with Australia, to tackle the issue of asylum seekers and to foster stability in the region.

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5 out of 16 Taiwanese food products free of carcinogens: Liow

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 06:23 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: A total of five Taiwanese food products, out of the 16 samples taken for testing, were found to be free of carcinogens, so far.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said in a statement Friday that the rest were still being tested.

The 16 product samples were sent for testing at Universiti Malaya on Wednesday for possible traces of carcinogens.

Carcinogens made up of di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and di-isononyl phthalate (DINP) is a chemical that can cause cancer.

Two of the food products cleared, under the Ocean Spray brand, are the "Cranberry Juice Cocktail" and the "Cranberry Refreshers".

The other two were e.Ben's "Mango Flavour Coconut Jelly" and New Choice's "Fruitgurt Yogurt Style".

"The ministry will strictly monitor Taiwanese food products entering the country," Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said on Friday.

The test results were the second batch that were found free of contamination.

On Thursday, the first test result showed that was no carcinogen in the passion fruit drink range in Syarikat Chatime drink outlets.

For details, call the FSQ or ministry at 03-88833652/3653 or visit http://moh.gov.my or http://fsq.moh.gov.my

More in The Star on Saturday

Related Stories:
Passion fruit drink range cleared of banned substance
Taiwan fruit and energy drinks being tested for carcinogens

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‘Wives can curb social ills like prostitution by being obedient and alluring’

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 04:09 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Wives who "obey, serve and entertain" their husbands can help reduce social ills such as prostitution and domestic abuse, according to members of The Obedient Wives Club.

The Club, to be launched Saturday by Global Ikhwan Sdn Bhd, aims to teach wives how to keep their husbands happy and contented.

Global Ikhwan, an organisation founded by former members of the banned Al-Arqam Islamic group, also launched the Ikhwan Polygamy Club two years ago.

Global Ikhwan spokesperson Siti Maznah Mohd Taufik said that many social ills were caused by disobedient wives who failed to bring joy to their husbands.

"Domestic abuse happens because wives don't obey their husband's orders. A man must be responsible for his wife's wellbeing but she must listen to her husband," said Siti Maznah in an interview on Friday.

When asked whether it was the wife's fault for being abused, she said: "Yes, most probably because she didn't listen to her husband."

Siti Maznah, 48, also stressed that husbands would not stray and turn to prostitutes if wives supplied them with a satisfying sex life.

She said women had the duty of making themselves attractive and dressing up beautifully at home.

"Wives should welcome them with sexy clothes and alluring smiles when in the privacy of their homes," she said, adding that she herself did the same as everyone in the club practised what they preached.

Siti Maznah, a second wife and mother to five children, said she treated her husband's first wife like her elder sister.

"Altogether, we have 16 children in our household. My husband is a happy man, you can see it from his actions," she said.

According to her, the Ikhwan Polygamy Club now has over 1,000 members comprising both husbands and wives. The average number of children per polygamous household ranges from four to 26.

Siti Maznah admitted that husbands were not perfect and it was natural for disagreements to occur, sometimes.

"We can have discussions and disagreements. We don't just keep quiet when we don't agree with our husbands," she said.

However, as long as husbands did not go against Islamic law, their final word was law, she said.

More in The Star on Saturday

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