Rabu, 6 Julai 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Japananese trade minister to take blame for nuclear restart confusion

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 09:26 PM PDT

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Trade Minister Banri Kaieda said on Thursday he would take responsibility for confusion on nuclear power restarts at a suitable time.

"When the time is right, I will take responsibility," Kaieda said in a parliamentary committee when urged by an opposition lawmaker to resign.

Japan's Trade Minister Banri Kaieda in Tokyo May 6, 2011. (REUTERS/Issei Kato/Files)

Japan's first restart of nuclear power plants since a devastating earthquake in March was thrown into doubt after the government's surprise announcement on Wednesday it was planning stress tests for all nuclear facilities.

(Reporting by Rie Ishiguro; Editing by Joseph Radford)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Israel, protesters at fault in Lebanese border clash - UN

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 09:26 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Israel used force "not commensurate to the threat" when it fired live ammunition during a Palestinian demonstration in May, but the protesters also behaved in a provocative and violent way, a U.N. report released on Wednesday said.

The Israeli army fired on a demonstration at a Lebanese border village on May 15, security sources and the Lebanese army told Reuters at the time.

Seven people died according to the U.N. report, a figure that was revised down from eleven initially reported killed. The incident happened by the Blue Line -- the U.N.-mapped frontier between Lebanon and Israel.

The report came from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's office and is based on an investigation carried out by UNIFIL, the United Nation's force in Lebanon.

"The Secretary General stands by his conclusions and observations," Ban's spokeswoman told journalists on Wednesday.

The demonstrators, "in throwing stones and petrol bombs across the Israeli technical fence and the Blue Line ... carried out a provocative and violent act that constitutes a violation of resolution 1701," UNIFIL's preliminary findings found.

However, the "firing of live ammunition by the Israel Defense Forces across the Blue Line against the demonstrators" also "constituted a violation of resolution 1701 and was not commensurate to the threat to Israeli soldiers."

The U.N. Security Council's Resolution 1701, adopted in August 2006, called for a full cessation of hostilities in the month-long war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war in 2006, in which 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, were killed, and 158 Israelis, mostly soldiers, also died.

The U.N. report calls on Lebanese Armed Forces and Lebanese authorities to "enforce law and order in the area and to prevent any incident on the Blue Line."

It also calls on Israel to "refrain from responding with live fire in such situations, except where clearly required in immediate self-defense."

Palestinians mourn the creation of the state of Israel on May 15 each year, mostly in West Bank and Gaza. This year, inspired by popular uprisings across the Arab world, they also organized demonstrations in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt along frontiers with Israel.

There are about 427,000 registered Palestinian refugees in 12 refugee camps across Lebanon, according to the United Nations.

The U.N. report, dated July 1, was an advance copy which will be issued as a Security Council document according to its cover.

(Editing by Jackie Frank)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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China deepens engagement with Libyan rebels

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 09:26 PM PDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese diplomat met with leaders of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) at their base in Benghazi, state media said on Thursday, building deeper relationships with rebels seeking to oust Muammar Gaddafi.

The visit by Chen Xiaodong, China's foreign ministry chief for North African affairs, was the second official meeting between China and Libyan opposition leaders in less than a month and comes as rebels advanced on Gaddafi's stronghold in Tripoli on Wednesday.

Chen told the deputy head of the NTC Ali Essawi that China considered the faction "an important dialogue partner," echoing comments made by senior Chinese officials on rebel diplomatic chief Mahmoud Jibril's visit to Beijing in late June.

Chen is the most senior official yet to hold talks with the NTC in Libya, although a Chinese diplomat based in Egypt visited the Libyan rebels in Benghazi for the first time in early June.

China, never very close to Gaddafi, also hosted Libya's Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi in early June. But Beijing's courting of the rebels has marked something of a practical policy adjustment for China, which generally avoids entangling itself in nations' domestic affairs.

Chen said China was "deeply concerned" about the five-month-old civil war and attached "great importance to the NTC's role in solving the crisis", official news agency Xinhua reported.

The combatants should begin substantial talks on ceasing hostilities and make a positive response to the international community's mediation proposal, he added.

Reports that Gaddafi was seeking a deal under which he would step down have come amid pressure from advancing opposition forces, sanctions, and a NATO bombing campaign.

His government has denied any such negotiations are underway, and NATO's chief has said he had no confirmation that Gaddafi was looking for a deal to relinquish power.

China was among the emerging powers that abstained in March when the United Nations Security Council authorised NATO-led air strikes to stop Gaddafi's forces from threatening civilians. China could have used its veto power as a permanent member.

But it also condemned the strikes, and has repeatedly called

for a ceasefire and political compromise.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Yoko Nishikawa)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Visa sees debit card rules slowing growth in 2012

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 06:56 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP) - Visa Inc. on Wednesday warned that its revenue and earnings growth will slow in 2012 after new regulations on the fees banks can charge for debit card transactions kick in.

The San Francisco payments network operator repeated an earlier forecast for its current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, for revenue growth between 11 percent and 15 percent and earnings-per-share growth of greater than 20 percent.

Next year, however, Visa said it expects its revenue growth to slow to the high-single-digit to low-double-digit range. The company expects earnings-per-share growth to slow to the mid-to-high teens.

Analysts, on average, were forecasting 11 percent revenue growth and 16 percent earnings growth for 2012.

The slowdown will reflect the rules announced by the Federal Reserve last week that kick in on Oct. 1 and next April. The first will limit the fees that banks can charge retailers for processing debit card transactions. The second will give merchants the power to decide which network handles their transactions.

Together, the two could drive down the revenue for the banks that are Visa's customers. While transaction fees are not paid directly to Visa, it's expected that the network operator will have to reduce some of the fees it charges banks. And since it operates the biggest debit card networks, giving merchants choice to go to other processors will also have an impact.

"We expect that fiscal 2012 will bear the weight of the regulations financially, and in fiscal 2013 revenue growth will regain momentum off of 2012s level," CEO Joseph Saunders said during a conference call to discuss the forecast.

Because Visa's fiscal year ends in September it was able to keep its forecast for the current year. Since the Fed moved the date the fee cap will kick in from July 21 to Oct. 1, it will have no impact on Visa's results for fiscal 2011.

U.S. debit revenue accounts for about 20 percent of the company's overall revenue, Saunders said during the call.

The CEO said Visa prepared for different scenarios while it waited for the Fed to decide on the new debit rules. Now that they are in place, Visa can go forward with its plans.

But Saunders declined to spell out how the company will respond, deferring specifics to late July, when it reports fiscal third-quarter financial results, and October, when it reports for the full year.

He did say, however, that "providing some level of incentives to specific merchants may be an effective strategy" to ensure Visa receives profits from their ability to choose processing networks.

"We will compete vigorously to maintain (the) Visa routing preference and have several strategies we will put into action to achieve this outcome," Saunders said.

For the current year, Visa's forecast translates to revenue of between $8.95 billion and $9.11 billion and earnings of at least $4.84 per share.

That is, however, short of Wall Street's forecasts.

Analysts, on average, are looking for $9.16 billion in revenue, with estimates ranging from $9 billion to $9.3 billion, according to FactSet. They are expecting earnings of $4.91 per share, with estimates ranging from $4.75 to $5.04.

Visa also said that it has completed its $1 billion share repurchase program announced in April. It bought back about 12 million shares at an average price of $77 per share.

Shares in Visa slipped 57 cents to $87.63 in extended trading Wednesday. They ended the regular trading session off 12 cents at $88.20.

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Australia lifts ban on cattle exports to Indonesia

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 06:55 PM PDT

SYDNEY (AP) - Australia will resume exporting live cattle to Indonesia within weeks after a ban on the $350 million per year trade was lifted, with the federal government saying new rules for exporters will help ensure the animals are treated humanely.

The government banned exports to Indonesia last month after an outcry over a video that aired in Australia showing animals crying out and writhing as they were slaughtered. The footage also showed cattle being beaten and taking minutes to bleed to death as their throats were repeatedly slashed.

"The Australian community made it clear it would not support a trade in which these things occurred," Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig told reporters on Wednesday. "I want to make it clear the decision to suspend the trade was not an easy decision to make, but it was the right decision."

Under the new system, slaughterhouses will have to prove they meet animal welfare guidelines. Ludwig said tracking and transparency in the cattle supply chain will also be improved.

"The exporter is required to trace the animals from the domestic supply chain into the feedlot, from the feedlot into the abattoir," he said. "The abattoir will be independently audited."

In Jakarta, Indonesian officials greeted the revocation as a good news.

"It's good if they lifted the ban," deputy minister of agriculture Bayu Krisnamurti told The Associated Press. "In principle, we are always open to imports to cover our shortages at home."

The ban was a reminder of the need for awareness of how cattle should be treated, said Thomas Sembiring, chairman of Indonesia's Beef Importers Association.

Malcolm Jackman, managing director of Elders Ltd. which supplies 60 percent of the Australian cattle exported to Indonesia and owner of an Indonesia slaughterhouse, said he aimed to send the first shipment to Indonesia on Aug. 1.

"I think you'll see that some of the larger exporters such as ourselves will be up and running fairly quickly," Jackman told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television late Wednesday.

"But I suspect it's going to take a couple of months to get the industry up to full speed," he added.

The animal welfare agencies that video taped and analyzed the scenes of cruelty broadcast on Australian television, Animals Australia and the RSPCA, said there was no guarantee that Indonesian slaughterhouses would use the Australian-standard technique of stunning - a process of rendering cattle temporarily unconscious with a device that causes a brain hemorrhage - before they are killed.

"They could still suffer the pain and distress of throat cutting while fully conscious, and that's not only unacceptable to the RSPCA, it's going to be unacceptable to the Australian community," RSPCA Australia chief executive Heather Neil said in a statement.

The minor Greens party says they will continue with plans to introduce legislation to the Australian parliament that would permanently ban all live animal exports.

Australia is the world's largest exporter of livestock. Exports of live Australian cattle account for up to 40 percent of the beef eaten in Indonesia.

The government's decision to halt exports was met with outrage by the Australian cattle industry, which blamed the ban for a sharp drop in income.

Last month, Australia's best-known Outback cattle ranch, the iconic Bullo River Station in the Northern Territory, was put on the market after its owner said the ban destroyed her livelihood.

Lang Coppin, who owns a cattle station in Western Australia's Pilbara region, said the lifting of the ban came just in time. About half of the 4,000 cattle Coppin exports each year go to Indonesia, and his business has been struggling since the exports were halted.

"All of a sudden they were just going to shut us all down, and I think they thought, 'Bloody hell, I guess we better do something about this,"' Coppin told The Associated Press. "(The ban) was just a very bad political decision and the ramifications, I think, between the two countries have been very damaging."

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Support Line

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 06:10 PM PDT


DRB-HICOM has been in correction mode but within a range since peaking out at a seven-year high of RM2.50 on April 7. For now, indicators are still unclear, implying more sideways consolidation until a clearer picture emerges. A positive breakout will signal a rally continuation, targeting the RM2.70 level. If the concrete floor of RM2.14 is violated, look for the RM1.90 mark as the next lower support.


HAP Seng Consolidated bounced off the recent lows of RM5.05 (now the solid support base) to a high of RM5.50 during intra-day session yesterday. Apparently, the mending technical reading suggests more rebound in the short term, with initial resistance anticipating at RM5.62, followed by the RM5.87 level, of which a decisive breakout would signal a new leg up uptrend.


RENEWED buying interest lifted Sarawak Oil Palms from the RM3.72 level on June 28 to an intra-day high of RM4.22 yesterday. Based on the daily chart, prices are poised to challenge the historical peak of RM4.25, established on June 7. Support is pegged at the RM4 mark.

> The comments above do not represent a recommendation to buy or sell.

DRBHCOM : [Stock Watch] [News]
HAPSENG : [Stock Watch] [News]
SOP : [Stock Watch] [News]

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Top-seeded Isner into quarterfinals at Newport

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 04:04 PM PDT

NEWPORT, Rhode Island (AP): Top-seeded John Isner rode his big serve into the quarterfinals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, beating Arnaud Clement 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the second round.

The 6-foot 9-inch Isner closed out the match Wednesday with his 11th ace and won 80 percent of his first-serve points.

Isner entered the tournament when defending champion Mardy Fish withdrew because he was selected for the US Davis Cup team. The 26-year old Isner will face Alex Bogomolov in an all-American semifinal.

Isner took control when he broke Clement in the seventh game of the second set, grabbing a 4-3 lead when Clement double-faulted on the final point. Knowing he has an overpowering serve, Isner felt he was in a great position in the match. It was like the first set, but this time he made sure he didn't waste it.

"When I get off to an early break, that's when I feel like I'm in control," he said. "I feel like I play my best when I'm ahead. It didn't happen in the first set, but it did in the second."

Isner broke to go up 4-3 in the first set, but Clement rallied to win the next two games. They played under slightly cool and breezy conditions, with light fog rolling in at times to block sunshine that was peaking out - a stark contrast to the sunny, hot, humid conditions Isner faced in his first match a day earlier.

A No. 1-seeded player has never won the title in the 35 years of this grass-court tournament.

"I'm not thinking about that," he said, quickly changing the subject. "I'm just trying to get to the semifinals."

Bogomolov overcame a rough start, downing Ruben Bemelmans, 2-6, 6-0, 6-1. The fifth-seeded Bogomolov dropped the first set in 23 minutes before winning the next 11 games.

"It's beautiful, that's what you want to get into - a comfortable lead where you can relax and hit your shots," he said of the run.

He felt it was a similar turnaround to what he made in his opening-match on Monday.

"After (my) first match I said the same thing - I switched my game completely," he said. "He was returning much better when I hit flat serves. He was in a groove from the back (line) since we started. Then in the first game of the second, I started hitting to his forehand, which was his weaker shot. After I got rolling I gained some confidence and hit some winners."

The victory earned him a berth in his third quarterfinal this season.

In another second-round match, sixth-seeded Olivier Rochus got past Nicolas Mahut, 6-4, 7-6 (3), winning six straight points after falling behind 0-2 in the tiebreak. He saved 16 of 18 break points in the match, raising his career record to 9-2 in Newport.

"When you save that many break points, of course it helps, it changes the match," said the 5-foot, 6-inch Rochus. "Maybe I was lucky at times, but that's tennis."

In other play: Matthew Ebden beat Matthias Bachinger, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4; Edouard Roger-Vasselin defeated Jimmy Wang, 7-5, 6-4; and Michael Yani advanced when Tommy Hass retired with a lower back injury when trailing 2-5 in the first.

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Two generations with two different views of US Open

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 04:00 PM PDT

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (AP): One is a 13-year-old, getting ready for eighth grade, spending the start of her US Open week wondering if she should be asking these players for autographs or playing beside them.

The other is 55, a winner of six majors and all but retired - yet still with enough game to grind through qualifying and earn a spot in what she says will be her last pro tournament.

Mariel Galdiano and Betsy King both have tee times at the Broadmoor on Thursday, even though in the golf world they are playing from completely different sets of tees.

Such is life at the US Women's Open, where the world's best try to enhance their resumes while competing against each other - along with dozens of amateurs, qualifiers and other underdogs with big dreams.

"I've been telling her lately, put your head down, look at people's feet, just focus," said Galdiano's father, Roger, who also serves as her coach and caddie. "I want her to think of it as practice."

The reality that it is anything but practice comes shining through at every turn this week the for Honolulu native, who picked up her first golf club about seven years ago, won her first tournament a few years after that and played well enough in qualifying last month, a few days before her 13th birthday, to earn one of 156 spots this week on the East Course.

On Wednesday, she played a practice round with another Hawaiian, Michelle Wie - "Very friendly," she said - took part in a kids clinic on the driving range with Annika Sorenstam and passed Natalie Gulbis in the tunnel leading to the course.

"She looked down at my shoes and said, 'Nice shoes,"' Galdiano said, glancing down at her white and aqua golf sneakers. "I said, 'Thank you.' Pretty cool."

Standing at right around 5 feet and with an average driving distance of 220 yards, Galdiano is not the next Michelle Wie, whose formative years have been defined by mishaps on the men's tour and a long list of lessons learned about what happens when you go for too much, too soon.

"The way we're going to do it is, we're just going to go through our routine," Galdiano's dad said. "I'm not going to sign her up to play against the men and stuff. We're just going to try to see how the progression goes. Depending on how good she gets, we'll see from there. High school and college - that will be a good experience."

While Galdiano's future is ahead of her, King concedes her slow withdrawal from the spotlight came for a reason most elite athletes are loathe to acknowledge.

"To be honest, if I could play well enough to play, I'd still be playing," she said. "Ninety-nine percent of the people that I know who retired - that's why they retired. They just didn't play well enough to keep playing."

King saw the beginning of the end coming in the early 2000s, when the two-time LPGA money leader started having more and more trouble simply making the cut. When her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2005, then her mother with Alzheimer's a year later, she realized it was time to focus elsewhere. Her folks passed away. King started doing charity work in Africa. She still played the game, but not in any real competitive sense.

"I've looked at other players that have tried to come back and I said, 'I'll never do that,"' she said.

Golf, however, does not let go easily. Neither does the drive of a champion. King has won 34 LPGA events, is the first woman to pass the $5 million and $6 million marks in prize money and has been a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame since 1995.

Earlier this year, she decided she wanted to play in a Legends event and thought the US Open qualifier the week before would be a good tuneup for that.

"I really surprised myself," she said. " I played OK. I played well enough. I'm very happy to be here. Obviously the golf course is a little bit harder than where I qualified."

The Broadmoor will be the first US Women's Open course to play longer than 7,000 yards. The USGA, as always, prides itself on setting up tough courses, with long rough and narrow fairways. The greens on this course, situated near the mountains on the southwest side of Colorado Springs (Locals will tell you: All putts run away from the Will Rogers Monument on Cheyenne Mountain), are difficult even when the resort players tee it up. It figures the course will yield a winning score of around par - more common for the USGA than the 16-under 268 Rory McIlroy posted to win the men's Open at Congressional last month.

In short, it's the sort of event that figures to play to the 20- or 30-something crowd - Yani Tseng, Paula Creamer, Stacy Lewis - more than an eighth grader or a Hall of Famer in her 50s.

"My goal this week is to feel comfortable standing over the ball," Galdiano said. "One shot at a time works best for me. When I think about score too much, it throws me off."

And for King - well, she says making the cut at the US Open would be a great way to say goodbye.

Some swing thoughts, though, die hard.

"Well, if I win, I can always change my mind," she said. "That would be a real miracle, believe me."

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Australian cyclist Hibberd killed in Italy

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 03:58 PM PDT

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP): Australian road cyclist Carly Hibberd has been killed after being hit by a car while training in Italy.

Australia's department of foreign affairs and trade said Thursday that the 26-year-old Hibberd from Queensland state died after she was struck by a car on Wednesday in Como in Italy's north.

Hibberd moved to Italy in 2009 to pursue her career as a professional road cyclist, joining the Cassina Rizzardi A Style Fionucci team at the start of this season.

Her fatal accident follows the death of Belgium's Wouter Weylandt in the Giro d'Italia on May 9.

Australian female cyclist Amy Gillet was killed and five of her teammates injured after a car ran into them as they trained for a road race in Germany in 2005.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Ship on Gaza humanitarian aid mission allowed to berth

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 06:54 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The humanitarian aid ship MV Finch, also known as the Spirit of Rachel Corrie, was allowed to berth at the El Arish port in Egypt at 7.10pm (Egypt time) Tuesday.

Perdana Global Peace Foundation President Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he was informed by members of the foundation in El Arish to oversee the operation, that they had unloaded the PVC pipes, weighing some 32 tonnes, on to seven trucks for onward transportation to Gaza, immediately.

The humanitarian aid cargo took almost four hours to be transferred to seven awaiting trailers and will be taken to Ouja at the Israeli border, where it will be reassigned to other trailers sponsored by the Palestinians and delivered to Gaza via Karem Shalom.

"It is my fervent hope that the new Egyptian government will continue to support our cause to extend assistance to Palestinians, especially in Gaza, who have been placed under illegal siege by the Tel Aviv regime since 2007," he said in a statement released by the foundation here Wednesday.

He also expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Egyptian Prime Minister Dr Essam Sharaf, whom he had met in Cairo last week, for helping to expedite the whole process.

"On our part, we will continue to be committed in opposing and challenging the siege that is nothing less than an act of genocide by Israeli regime on the whole population of Palestinians in Gaza," he added.

On May 16, the ship which entered the Palestinian territorial waters, was just 400m from land, when it came under attack by the Israeli Navy and thereafter forced to divert to Egyptian waters.

Later on the same day, it anchored off El Arish where it remained for the last seven weeks, waiting for permission to dock. - Bernama

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Sosilawati showed witness RM1mil cheque from Pathmanaban, court told

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 06:35 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: Murdered cosmetics millionairess Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya received a RM1mil cheque from former lawyer N. Pathmanaban during a brief encounter in August last year, the High Court heard Wednesday.

According to the deceased's close friend, Junaidah Ismail, 52, the cheque changed hands between Sosilawati and Pathmanaban on Aug 3, in front of the latter's office facing the Kuala Langat police headquarters.

She said that on that day, she and the cosmetics millionairess were heading to Port Klang to celebrate her (Junaidah's) birthday.

At the time, they were in Sosilawati's car which was driven by her driver, Kamaruddin Shamsuddin.

On the way, about 5.30pm, Junaidah said they dropped by Pathmanaban's office as he had earlier told Sosilawati he was on his way to the office.

"We waited for him in the car in front of his office. He arrived about 30 minutes later in a Mercedes sports car...I think it was a Brabus.

"Sosilawati alighted. They met briefly for about five minutes. She took something from him before returning to her car," the prosecution's 13th witness said during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Idham Abd Ghani on the third day of the murder trial.

Junaidah was testifying in the trial of Pathmanaban and three farm hands, T. Thilaiyagan, R. Matan and R. Khatavarayan.

The four are jointly accused of murdering Sosilawati, 47, bank officer Noorhisham Mohamad, 38, lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32, and Sosilawati's driver Kamaruddin, 44, at Lot 2001, Tanjong Layang Road, Tanjung Sepat, Banting, between 8.30pm and 9.40pm on Aug 30, last year.

They face the mandatory death penalty if found guilty under Section 302 of the Penal Code, read with Section 34 of the same code.

According to Junaidah, once inside the car, Sosilawati showed her what she had received from Pathmanaban, which turned out to be a cheque.

"At that juncture, Sosilawati had remarked, 'I received payment'.

"I noticed that it (cheque) was postdated. I questioned why it was for September, rather than August, which was the current month (at that time) but she assured me it was all right, as they (she and Pathmanaban) had already discussed it. The cheque was under Southern Symphony Sdn Bhd," she added.

The prosecution witness, who had known Sosilawati for 28 years, said she had laughed at the handwriting on the cheque which looked like that of a child.

"I wondered about it aloud but Sosilawati dismissed it lightly. After that, we went directly to Port Klang and after Maghrib, celebrated my birthday.

"Our conversation after that was only about what to do for fasting month and Hari Raya," she said, adding that was the last time she was with Sosilawati.

She also told the court that after the birthday celebrations on Aug 3, last year, she continued to be in contact with Sosilawati.

"Sosilawati usually called. On Aug 29, she called to ask how I was and we talked about Hari Raya preparations. Later, she asked me whether I wanted to follow her to Banting, the following day (Aug 30) and I replied I wanted to rest at home.

"She (Sosilawati) did not tell me her purpose of going to Banting and that was the last telephone call from her," she said.

Meanwhile, Junaidah, under cross-examination by Pathmanaban's counsel, Manjeet Singh Dhillon, said she did not know whether Sosilawati and her driver, Kamaruddin, had a relationship that was beyond that of an employer and employee.

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PM: Up to police to decide on approval for rally

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 05:11 AM PDT

Published: Wednesday July 6, 2011 MYT 6:44:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday July 6, 2011 MYT 8:11:22 PM

KLANG: It is up to the police to decide on approving Bersih's rally planned for July 9 in a stadium, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

"We leave it to the police to decide in the interest of safety.

"If an official application is made, then the organiser must abide by the conditions," he told reporters here Wednesday.

He added that any party which made a formal application for an event must be a registered organisation.

"Bersih remains an illegal entity as it is not registered with the Registrar of Societies," the Prime Minister said.

Asked if the application would be approved, Najib said it was for the police to decide after receiving an application.

Related Stories:
Govt ready to meet Bersih
Bersih calls off street rally and accepts stadium offer
Bersih wants to hold rally in Merdeka Stadium on Saturday
Home Minister says Bersih still illegal
Bersih can hold rally in a stadium, says Najib

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Special events at Central Market

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 05:45 AM PDT

Pasar Seni or the Kuala Lumpur Central Market, has lined up several events in July and August to add some excitement for locals and tourists. The events are as follows:

1Malaysia Mega Sale Photo Contest

Open to all Malaysians and expatriates residing in Malaysia aged 18 and above only. To enter, participants must make a minimum purchase of RM10. The receipt must be exchanged at the Central Market Information counter for an entry form (1 entry form per receipt). The contest period is until Sept 30.

Exhibition and workshop on postcard making (July)

This is a special exhibition featuring interesting postcards including a workshop for those who want to design their own unique postcard. It is open for free to the public every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm at Art Lane, Lower Ground Floor, Central Market Annexe.

Cultural Performance at Kasturi Walk (July and August)

This is a special dance performance by the Citrasari Dance Troupe in Kuala Lumpur. They will perform various traditional Malay dance such as Joget, Zapin and Inang alongside various Indian and Chinese dance performances. The dance performances are held at 9pm from Sunday to Friday at Kasturi Walk.

Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Dance Performance (July and August)

The Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Dance Performance will showcase a dance performance from the various races and ethnic groups in Malaysia. It will combine seven dance elements comprising the Malay, Chinese, Indian, the ethnic tribes of Sabah and Sarawak, orang asli and the Siamese. There will also be a singing performance by Sri Kenchana Group who will play live music and sing folk songs in Malay, English, Hindi, Tamil, Arabic as well as Mandarin songs popularised by Teresa Teng. The Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Dance Performance is held at 9pm every Saturday at Kasturi Walk.

Free Heritage Walk (July and August)

The Central Market Heritage Walk is a special guided tour by Be Tourist for enthusiastic tourist and locals who wish to know more about the history of Kuala Lumpur and its early establishment. The tour is free and begins at 10.30am every day. The meeting point is the Central Market Information Counter.

Malaysian Open Shuffle King Champion-ship 2011 (July)

This is the semi-finals of the dance competition organised by Worldwide Far East Berhad in conjunction with Fiesta Belia 1Malaysia. Consisting of five zones (zone A to zone E). Zone A will perform at the Central Market Stage today from 10am to 9pm. The finalists of Zone A will compete in the finals at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) Selangor.

Chinese Opera (in English) in August

This is a special traditional Chinese drama and musical which will be performed by Choy Him Heong, the oldest and famous Chinese Opera Troupe in Kuala Lumpur. It is also the only opera group who can perform in English. The performance is at 8pm on Aug 13 at the Cen-tral Market stage.

Job Placement Programme

This is an open day walk-in interview from 10am to 5pm on July 9 and 10 for employees whose company is registered under the Labour Department. The interviews will be conducted at the Central Market Walkway, Main Entrance of Central Market.

These events are open for free to the public. For details, visit www.centralmarket.com.my

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Awards given for outstanding planning and ad placements

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 05:42 AM PDT

GLITZ and glamour came in the colours of black and white for media planners, clients, media owners and creative agencies recently at the Malaysian Media Awards 2011.

Held at the One World Hotel in Petaling Jaya, the media specialists got recognised for their outstanding planning and placement of advertisements in the various media.

Hosted by Media Specialists Association, the night saw 12 awards being contended by various media agencies representing several brands.

The categories include utilising the best out of television, newspaper, radio, magazine, digital media, sponsorship, out of home media, digital sale, point-of-sale, branded content on television, small budget and the usage of integrated media.

Points were awarded according to the position received by the agency when results were announced with first place being the Gold Award followed by Silver and Bronze.

"The awards were about recognition and it has delivered strong business results for clients, via excellent strategy, solution and execution.

"It is about recognition of people behind the success of these campaigns," said Media Specialists Association President Ranga Somanathan.

Organising chairman Andy Miller said media planners had achieved a high degree of status at a time when there is an ever increasing amount of award show options being put into place by everyone.

This year, the organisers invited the Malaysian Advertisers Associa-tion (MAA) and Association of Accredited Advertising Agents (4As) members to join their judging panel together with the contingent of MSA members and clients as well as major sponsors which brought up to their largest ever jury of some 40 people.

After the scores were tallied, Universal McCann clinched four gold, two silver and two bronze medals which gave them the top two prizes — Agency of the Year and the Grand Prix award.

Mindshare Malaysia and Vizeum Media Services came in second and third respectively.

Meanwhile, Dutch Lady bagged the Advertiser of the Year award.

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Relationship between neighbours worsens despite signing peace agreement

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 01:31 AM PDT

JOHOR BARU: A feud between two neighbours in Taman Bukit Tropika, Ulu Tiram near here had worsen despite both parties signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to forgo their grudges.

The neighbours are still giving each other cold shoulders after making peace a few weeks ago.

Their effort were heavily publicised on June 13 as it was the first documented case in the country where feuding neighbours had decided to put their peace on paper.

Residents Ng Chee Leng, 33, and Yong Nguong Ping, 43, were at 'war' for three years due to minor misunderstandings.

Petty issues such as barking dogs belonging to Yong and a loud air-condition unit from his home became Ng's daily grouse.

"Frankly speaking, the MoU does not change the situation as my neighbour left me a hand-written letter on June 28 complaining about my creaking door," Yong told StarMetro.

He alleged that Ng had also mentioned about appointing a lawyer and is planning to sue Yong over the matter.

"There won't be an end to this unless one of us moves out," he said.

When contacted, Ng declined to comment.

Johor Baru MCA public complaints bureau chief Michael Tay who mediated both parties, had urged them to cooperate with each other and avoid taking legal action as it would worsen the situation.

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Sharks facing extinction in Sabah, says expert

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 01:31 AM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment's proposed ban on trade in shark fins should be welcomed and implemented fast said a researcher in fishermen's socio-economy and Sabah's maritime civilisation.

Associate Prof Dr Ismail Ali of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) added that Sabah's waters were at one time – rich in various species of shark including the grey bamboo shark (ikan yu), but are now facing extinction due to overfishing for their fins, meat and jaw.

Ismail, who is also dean of UMS' Centre for the Promotion of Knowledge and Language Learning, said overfishing of sharks was due to the high demand from hotels and well-known restaurants in the state as many tourists from Hong Kong, Korea, China and Japan enjoyed shark's fin soup.

He added that based on Sabah's maritime history, fishing and trading in sharks existed since the Sulu sultanate in the 18th century.

"Besides meeting the high demand of the China market for shark fins, sharks are also caught to make salted or dried fish, with Kudat, Sandakan and Semporna being the top producers in the state for these items."

Ismail cited Semporna, as an example where catching sharks for their fins was routine work, while his research found shark fins being dried openly at many of the wet markets in the state.

"Shops proudly display shark fins to attract consumers while shark jaws are also in demand as decorative or display items," he observed.

On the effects of fishing and trading in sharks, Ismail said it should be curbed as the presence of sharks in Sabah's waters was important for balancing the marine ecosystem and biodiversity.

"If fishing of sharks continues to be rampant, it will give a negative image

to the Sabah government which at the same time, is promoting its marine treasures to the world as an attraction."

He said many countries in the west had since, a long time ago, banned fishing and trading in sharks as they realised the impact of these activities on the marine ecosystem and on humans themselves. — Bernama

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Incentive for students in sports

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 01:30 AM PDT

KUALA TERENGGANU: All students in the state who are actively involved in sports would receive a monthly allowance of RM60 as an incentive to improve their performance.

State Youth and Sports Committee Chairman Rozi Mamat said at the moment there were about 700 such students, especially at the Bukit Nenas Sports School in Setiu.

"This does not include students who are in high performance sports as they will be awarded with other incentives," he said at a thanksgiving ceremony on being the 2011 Malaysian Games champion here recently.

Rozi added that the allowance would involved an allocation of about RM600,000 a year. – Bernama.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Joey Yung is not just a pretty face

Posted: 05 Jul 2011 04:39 PM PDT

Joey Yung is the epitome of grace and beauty, with talent to boot.

HONG Kong Cantopop singer Joey Yung was in Kuala Lumpur last month to ink a contract as the ambassador for collagen drink NH Colla Plus. Lending further credence to the event was the presence of Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

The highest-earning Cantopop songbird was a picture of poise. At 177cm and 53kg, she had the assured coolness that came from a body of great physique and established adulation all around.

She demonstrated the same grace in her affable answers to probing questions by journalists.

"How much are you paid for being the ambassador?" an inquisitive reporter piped up. "We're not too sure as the contract isn't signed yet," she said, brushing it off casually with a laugh. "But I'm excited to get free supply of NH Colla Plus throughout my contract."

Speaking blithely in Hong Kong Cantonese, the friendliness and absence of diva-ness encouraged the Q&A session. Hands shot up across the room, eager to connect with the fresh-faced songstress.

"Every woman is proud to be an ambassador for a brand," she said on being named the face of a beauty product. "Beauty is a big part of my life, I enjoy beauty very much and I like sharing tips with people."

Yung's saleable face isn't new, her portfolio of advertising includes being appointed spokesperson for Red Cross Movement, Netvigator (Internet service provider) and camera brand Nikon.

Up close, Yung's large almond eyes and porcelain-perfect skin communicate universal beauty. The most common comment overheard that day was about her flawless skin. Not a pore was in sight, no imperfection showed and it was, without exaggeration, that Yung, 31, had perfect skin.

Unlike her Hong Kong peers, Yung's guileless looks seem to define an international appeal.

Currently, like many Hong Kong stars who are struggling to maintain star power having to compete with fiercely popular K-pop and Taiwan stars, Yung intends on remaining relevant. Her first foray into the Taiwan market was in 2001 when her Mandarin album, Honestly, received good reviews.

The shift today is very different. Taiwanese heavyweights like Jolin Tsai, Elva Hsiao and Luo Zhi Xiang have placed great emphasis on energetic dance routines.

Yung has made no secret that the Mandarin market is her next stop. It was rumoured that Yung went to New York in recent years to brush up on her dancing skills. In 2008, the StarLight concert in Hong Kong showed off her fancy footwork that won praises.

She maintains her dance agility by dancing every day with her mum at home. "It keeps me slim," she said with a smile, adding that she is enthusiastic about showing off her dance skills.

Breaking into a new market is never easy but Yung is optimistic that the ocean is big enough for different performers.

"Every country has good singers and this makes the entertainment business very healthy. The China market is huge and any entertainer can enter this market as long as they have different talents to showcase to the public," opined Yung. "Competition is very intense and entertainers have to perform to their very best. This makes it great for the audience.

"I have heard of celebrities committing suicide in Korea due to immense pressure," said Yung on the demanding entertainment scene there. "It is the responsibility of every artiste to be disciplined about her lifestyle and maintain a healthy image. But there is no need to overdo it and stress oneself. Look at Hollywood stars. There is a carefree spirit there that is not apparent in Asian markets. Just be yourself. All of us have a stress threshold so we just have to be balanced about things and not get carried away."

Not bad at all for a girl who started out helping her mother run a fashion boutique. The evolving entertainer saw success relatively early in her career when her first EP broke Hong Kong records being on the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) album chart for the most number of consecutive weeks. It sold 130,000 copies in Hong Kong alone.

In 2001, her first compilation album, Love Joey, was named Best Album of the Year. Buoyed by the success, she entered the Taiwan market with her first Mandarin album. It was also during that time when she was being described as "pudgy".

Shortly after that, Yung became the spokesperson of a slimming parlour and sheded her girl-next-door appeal. Yung emerged with a new sexy image and a hot new body.

By the end of 2003, she dominated all major music awards ceremonies, winning prestigious awards that included the Jade Solid Gold Most Popular Female Singer award and Best Female Singer Gold award at the CRHK Music Awards, becoming the youngest singer to ever win this award.

Yung's success continued in 2004 when she received the Media Award, given to singers who accumulate the most awards from the four music award ceremonies in Hong Kong.

She then went on to record many successful albums, hold concerts and act in various television series and movies. Her fan base is huge in Malaysia and Yung said she has many friends here. Fans have said that Yung gets better every year; her singing abilities improve and her beauty continues to evolve.

Maintaining one's image in the Asian entertainment industry is particularly tough where beauty standards are high. Yung, however, is fully aware that beauty is innately linked to one's well-being.

"To look good or to be beautiful, you have to be happy. I remember a few years back when I was going through a bad period. My skin suffered terribly. For me, I don't bother with gossip and I know that there will be people who like me and those who do not. As long as I do a good job, I'm happy and the rest, I leave to fate. I do my best to be happy everyday."

She looks up in particular to international superstar Beyonce and aspires to emulate the top star's qualities. "Beyonce is gorgeous and an amazing dancer. She is an all-rounder and has mad talent. When she performs, she is super confident. From what I observe, she is humble offstage and down-to-earth. I aspire and hope to be like that."

The likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry are pushing the envelope on overt sexuality these days. Over-the-top sex has become the norm among artistes today who hope to make an impact. Yung feels sex should not take centrestage.

"I don't mind being sexy, but sexy dressing should not be the main focus in a performance. Sexiness has to fit the performance. When I perform during concerts, I try to represent women well. I want to show girl power with confidence, strength and independence. Sexiness is secondary."

This has been an exciting year for her. Yung proudly performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London, making her the first female Chinese singer to perform there. She is now busy recording a new Mandarin album and preparing for her concert in Guangzhou, China, in August.

"Job satisfaction is everything to me," said Yung. "My talent is a gift from God and I work hard to improve my abilities. My career is an important part of my happiness."

On whether the dynamic entertainer desires anything else in life, she replied candidly: "Of course, being a girl, I want a partner and family, too. When a person is in love, every minute is filled with happiness."

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Flaming guts

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 01:42 AM PDT

Inflammatory bowel disease describes a group of gastrointestinal disorders that primarily involves inflammation to the gut wall lining.

I HAVE had to go to the toilet very frequently for several months now. My stools have been bloody as well, and at first, I thought I had piles. But I was diagnosed as having inflammatory bowel disease. What is it?

This is a group of diseases where your intestine becomes red and swollen (inflamed). The two main types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Ulcerative colitis involves your colon or large intestine. Crohn's disease can involve any part of your gastrointestinal tract, from your mouth to your anus. But it usually affects your small intestine and/or your colon.

Most people get IBD from age 15 to 30.

What causes the disease?

No one knows for sure. There is an unknown agent or several agents that trigger off your body's own immune response to produce inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract.

This results in damage to the intestinal wall, hence ulcers, bloody diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

Scientists have postulated a genetic predisposition to IBD. But the triggering factor has never been uncovered.

How will I know if I have inflammatory bowel disease?

It's not a diagnosis easily made by the layman. If you have bloody stools, there's a common tendency to wonder if it's piles or a gut infection. Some people even worry about colorectal cancer.

Bloody diarrhoea is a feature of IBD. You should always go to a doctor if you have bloody stools. Sometimes, you can have bleeding through your rectum.

IBD lasts for a long time. There will be weeks or months when the disease flares up, and other periods when the symptoms disappear or decrease. The latter is called remission.

Your symptoms will depend on which part of your gastrointestinal tract is involved. If your large bowel is involved, you may have bloody diarrhoea or a constant urge to go to the toilet most of the time.

You may have abdominal cramps or pain, fever, loss of appetite, loss or weight or even anaemia due to chronic blood loss.

IBD is also associated with arthritis and inflammation in other organs such as your liver or your eye.

Is inflammatory bowel disease dangerous?

There are several complications that can arise that makes it dangerous if untreated.

You can have a lot of bleeding from ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract (for ulcerative colitis). The ulcers may erode until they actually penetrate through to the other side of the bowel, causing it to rupture. This then constitutes a medical emergency.

The inflammation itself leads to healing and the formation of strictures, leading to intestinal obstruction.

In Crohn's disease, the strictures do often resolve with treatment, but in ulcerative colitis, colonic strictures may become cancerous. In fact, having ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease itself makes your colon and intestinal cancer risk rise significantly.

The inflammation may lead to the formation of abnormal passages called fistulae.

Ulcerative colitis can also lead to a condition called toxic megacolon, which is a dilatation of your colon that is very dangerous.

Does inflammatory bowel disease interfere with digestion?

In Crohn's disease, the small intestine becomes inflamed. Therefore, it becomes less able to absorb food and nutrients. This undigested food dumps into your large bowel, thus causing diarrhoea.

In ulcerative colitis, the large intestine is inflamed, but does not interfere with the absorption of nutrients, which is the function of your small intestine.

The large intestine, however, absorbs water, and interference with this function causes diarrhoea.

Are Malaysians prone to getting inflammatory bowel disease?

Luckily, we're not. Westerners are more prone to it. But it is more common amongst people who live in cities, especially in developed countries. A family member who has it predisposes you to getting it too, as does smoking – which is a risk factor for Crohn's disease.

Can IBD be treated?

Yes. There are plenty of anti-inflammatory medicines available, such as salicylates, steroids, immunomodulators, and biologic therapies. Then there is surgery to fix or remove damaged parts/strictures of your intestine.

Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health advice, computers and entertainment. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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Be very afraid

Posted: 02 Jul 2011 06:35 PM PDT

An irrational fear that produces a conscious avoidance of the feared subject, activity, or situation is called a phobia.

EVERYONE has fears. However, some people are so affected by it that they arrange their lives to avoid whatever they are afraid of.

This irrational fear, which is called a phobia, may be towards a situation, place, object or animal. When the affected person is exposed to the source of the fear or thinks about it, anxiety and even panic can result.

The American Psychiatric Association defines phobia as "an irrational fear that produces a conscious avoidance of the feared subject, activity, or situation. The affected person usually recognises that the reaction is excessive."

Phobias are a common anxiety disorder and can affect anyone, irrespective of gender, age or social background. Some phobias start in early childhood and resolve spontaneously as the child grows up. Other phobias start in adolescence and the 20s. Many phobias occur after a stressful experience or situation. Some phobias may persist for several years.

Types of phobias

Phobias are classified into simple and complex ones.

Simple phobias are fears about specific situations, places, objects or animals. They often develop in early childhood and sometimes result from an unpleasant experience. There are several types:

·Animal – Fear of dogs (cynophobia), cats (ailurophobia), insects (arachnophobia), etc

·Environment – Fear of heights (acrophobia), water (hydrophobia), etc

·Situations – Fear of flying (pteromerhanophobia), enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), etc

·Injection/injury – Fear of pain (algophobia), being beaten (rhabdophobia), etc

Complex fears are more problematic as they are frequently associated with deep seated fear or anxiety about particular situations, eg public or open places (agoraphobia), social phobia. The exact causes of complex phobias are unknown.

Agoraphobia is defined as a fear of being alone in public places. There is overwhelming anxiety in situations which can be embarrassing, or from which it might be difficult to get away. This leads to fears about leaving home, going out and about and travelling on public transport.

Social phobia is a strong, persisting fear of an interpersonal situation in which embarrassment can occur. This may be an object or situation, eg meetings, public speaking. It may be due to a previous anxious experience in a social situation or a lack of social confidence.

There are several theories for phobias. They include activation of the sympathetic nervous system, psychological theories ranging from displacement of an intra-psychic conflict to conditioning, and genetic theories. The risks of specific phobias and social phobia appear to be inherited in some families and twins.

Clinical features

All persons who have a phobia have a need to avoid the cause of their fear. The extent to which the source of the phobia is avoided varies between individuals. For example, a person who has a phobia for a dentist may not have any contact with him or her at all whereas another person may only consult a dentist when there are certain symptoms.

Phobias can limit a person's activities of daily living and may cause anxiety and even depression.

The symptoms may be physical or psychological. Panic attacks are common and frequently occur suddenly, without warning.

The physical symptoms include rapid heart beat (palpitations), dizziness, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, muscle aches, frequent passing of urine, tiredness, trembling, confusion and even disorientation.

Psychological symptoms occur particularly in severe cases. They include feelings of horror and fear of fainting, loss of control and even dying.

Several phobias may be interlinked. For example, a person with a fear of going out (agoraphobia) may also have a fear of being left alone (monophobia) and trapped in an enclosed place (claustrophobia).

The majority of people with a phobia are aware of their condition. Many do not have a diagnosis made by a doctor. Instead, they institute self measures to avoid whatever they are afraid of.

There are questionnaires available from patient organisations which can assist an individual to make a self assessment and even a diagnosis of agoraphobia and social phobia.

Individuals who think they may have a phobia would find it useful to seek help from the family doctor or a specialist like a psychiatrist or psychologist. This is because almost all phobias can be cured with treatment.


Most phobias are curable. However, there is no single treatment for all phobias. In some instances, the doctor may advise a combination of different treatments.

Many people who have a phobia, particularly simple phobias, do not require treatment as avoidance of the object of their fear takes care of the problem. This is called desensitisation therapy and involves gradual exposure to the object of the fear over a period of time so that it leads to a decrease in anxiety about the object.

However, avoidance may not be always possible with certain phobias, eg fear of flying (pteromerhanophobia).

Talking treatments, ie counseling, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy are very effective. Counseling involves a trained counselor listening to a patient's fear and providing advice about how to overcome it.

CBT involves exploration of the patient's thoughts, feelings and behaviour in order to develop effective ways of addressing the problem. Psychotherapy involves a detailed approach to finding the cause of the problem and advising on methods to overcome it.

Medications are usually not prescribed as talking treatments are effective. However, they are prescribed for treating the effects of phobias, like anxiety. The medicines that are usually prescribed are antidepressants, tranquilisers and beta blockers.

Antidepressants are frequently prescribed to reduce anxiety. There are several types of antidepressants, ie selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

Antidepressant medicines are not addictive but withdrawal symptoms are common if they are stopped suddenly or a dose is missed. The side effects vary with individuals and the type of antidepressant.

SSRIs increase the brain's levels of serotonin, a compound which is thought to improve a person's mood. They are as effective as the older TCAs but have fewer side effects. The side effects of SSRIs, which include dry mouth, nausea and headaches, ease off with the passage of time. There are reports of increased risk of self-harm and suicidal tendencies with SSRIs.

TCAs increase the brain's levels of serotonin and noradrenaline, thereby improving a person's mood. The side effects include dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, problems passing urine and drowsiness, and these usually ease off after about 10 days. Cannabis should not be taken with TCAs as the heart rate can increase.

SNRIs, which are more recent additions, increase the brain's levels of serotonin and noradrenaline, thereby improving a person's mood. Their mode of action differs slightly from the SSRIs and TCAs.

Venlafaxine is a selective serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) used to treat general anxiety disorder. It increases the amount of serotonin and noradrenaline in the brain. The side effects include nausea, dry mouth, constipation, insomnia and sweating.

It cannot be prescribed if there is untreated high blood pressure, a recent heart attack or when there is risk of irregular heartbeats. Regular monitoring of the blood pressure is necessary when taking this medicine.

MAOIs are sometimes used to treat social phobia. The side effects of MAOIs include blurred vision, nausea, trembling, increased appetite and difficulty sleeping. They can also cause a marked increase in blood pressure, leading to severe headache, chest pain, rapid heart rate and stiff neck, which is a medical emergency.

People who are taking MAOIs must not take food containing tyramine, eg pickled fish or meat, cheese. One should also not consume alcohol or fermented liquids. A list of such foods will be provided by the doctor. As there are interactions between the MAOIs and many medicines, one should only consume the latter after checking with the doctor.

Benzodiazepines are categorised as minor tranquilisers. They are very effective in treating anxiety, easing the symptoms within an hour or so after consumption.

However, they cannot be used for long periods of time because of their addictive potential if used for longer than four weeks, and loss of effectiveness after this period. The side effects include loss of balance, tiredness, drowsiness and confusion. It is important to avoid driving or operating machinery when taking benzodiazepines.

Beta blockers are often used in the treatment of high blood pressure and heart problems. They are also prescribed sometimes to reduce anxiety symptoms like palpitations. They reduce the blood pressure and heart rate. The side effects include cold fingers, sleep problems and tiredness.

> Dr Milton Lum is a member of the board of Medical Defence Malaysia. This article is not intended to replace, dictate or define evaluation by a qualified doctor. The views expressed do not represent that of any organisation the writer is associated with. For further information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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