Rabu, 3 Ogos 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Probing the male psyche

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 02:34 AM PDT

Ntv7's latest reality drama series, What Men Want, seeks to investigate the intricacies of the male mind.

DEANNA Yusoff has the grace and charms of a refined, older woman. Though noticeably absent from the public eye since her last big-screen project Chermin (Mirror) in 2007, the actress has not lost that vivid sparkle she's known for.

Tucked in a quiet corner at Hoofed in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, the Malay-Swedish beauty lights up the room with a smile as she talks about her upcoming projects.

"I've been in the industry for nearly 20 years and I lost some of my passion for acting along the way. I took a break because I needed to rediscover that passion," explains the stunning 44-year-old.

Deanna thinks her age limits her choices in film roles. "When you're my age, people always expect you to play the mother. The problem is, mother roles are always so stereotypical over here – you're either the doting mum or the nagging wife – everybody can do that.

"Why can't we have more roles that have more substance for mature females? Because you've reached a certain age you're not cool anymore?" she muses with a wry smile. "Look at the American actresses – they're married and they have children and they still have exciting roles to play. I think the industry here tends to overlook those of us who are not too young and not too old."

The actress, who now divides her time between singing, emceeing and running her own handmade Swiss chocolates business, says she constantly strives for progress. "I always want to be better and not be typecast into any particular role. People like to stereotype me as a model but I think that's boring. I don't like labels," she says with a shrug.

She hints that she could be making an imminent comeback on television. "People have been saying things like, 'Oh, you have to make a comeback' but I don't think I ever went anywhere. But after Ramadhan (this fasting month), maybe … a drama," she teases.

"I've definitely been getting a lot of offers but I can't talk about them yet as nothing has been confirmed," she hastens to add.

One thing's for sure – Deanna will be the host of Ntv7's latest reality drama series, What Men Want. The testosterone-charged series, which sees six young Malaysian men huddled up in a penthouse, seeks to investigate the intricacies of the mysterious male psyche.

"It's a social experiment that brings these very different men together to show who they really are," Deanna elaborates.

The show, she adds, will reveal the social dynamics between six vastly different characters and highlight the relationships that develop among them as well as their lives outside the apartment.

Deanna claims that the series is completely unscripted. "The guys are just themselves and the show documents their real-life interactions. Nothing like this has been done here before and I find that really refreshing." And it is precisely that uniqueness and honesty about the programme that got the seasoned actress onboard.

The six gentlemen on the show are: The Joker – Imran Mohd Noor (Wolfie), 22; The Player – Gerrit Lee Poel, 24; The Stuck-Up – Fendi Shareef Ang, 24; The Filial Son – Kit Mah, 26; The Wimp – Ken Wong, 27 and The Romantic – Imran Fadzil, 28.

Self-professed funnyman Imran, a communications graduate, says he was picked to star on the show because of his big hair. "It looks a little like Wolverine's (from the X-men series). Someone just came up to me on the street one day and roped me in," he recalls with a laugh.

"Some of my friends also call me 'Bulu' (hairy)," he adds, displaying a hairy forearm. "I've been really hairy since I was 10."

Meanwhile, Lee Poel, a German-Malaysian business and arts student, has quite a reputation for being a ladies' man.

"I have no plans to commit at all, I hate responsibilities and I'm not into serious relationships," he reveals. "But when I have fun with a girl, I do it in a respectable manner. I make sure they know what they're getting into and I respect them just as they respect me."

Marketing executive Mah, on the other hand, says he is a one-woman man. "I've been in a relationship for eight years now," he shares.

Mah admits that he is very close to his mother as well. "I share everything with her." A part-time model, he works out daily to maintain his honed physique. "I like doing yoga. A lot of men don't do it but I think it's beautiful."

Wong, clearly the most easygoing chap of the lot, says he doesn't mind being dominated by his sassy girlfriend. "I'm quiet and I seldom talk but once I get to know a bunch of guys, I wanna be their taiko (leader)," the lumbering art director says with a laugh.

> What Men Want premieres on Nov 12 and will air on Saturdays at 8.30pm on Ntv7.

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Calling all aspiring chefs

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 02:33 AM PDT

Food enthusiasts get their chance to be AFC's Next Celebrity Chef.

IF you are a food lover who dreams of becoming a chef on the Asian Food Channel (AFC, Astro Channel 703), here's news that would put a smile on your face.

The AFC and Eastern & Oriental Berhad (E&O) are conducting a region-wide search for Asia's next celebrity chef, through the channel's first ever reality TV series, E&O Search For AFC's Next Celebrity Chef.

With contestants from across Asia and auditions held in five countries – Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore – the programme hopes to attract some of the region's most talented cooks.

All aspiring chefs, individuals with culinary training, or those with a passion for and knowledge of cooking are invited to sign up for auditions and take up the challenge to be crowned AFC's Next Celebrity Chef.

Besides providing inspiration and training to new chefs in an attempt to unearth their culinary talents, the competition also offers budding chefs opportunities to step up in their careers and embrace aspirations they dream of.

The winning chef will sign a one-year contract as a celebrity chef with AFC. The winner will also receive a year-long employment contract with the E&O Group and be the gourmet group's creative director and head of research and development.

AFC managing director and co-founder Maria Brown expressed her excitement at this production.

"This is AFC's first ever fully produced and filmed reality TV contest. We want contestants of different personalities and backgrounds to add to the mix of culture and character dimensions to the series.

"AFC has always supported Asian talents through productions featuring Chef Wan and Chef Martin Yan. This series gives viewers the chance of a lifetime to be a chef on our channel," said Brown in a press release.

Auditions will run till Aug 16 in the five countries. Shortlisted contestants must undergo a series of cooking tests and challenges. This is followed by an eight-part series which will reveal the top 12 finalists. Details of the show's premiering date, hosts and challenges will be announced at a later date.

Each week, one or more participants will be eliminated based on decisions made by judges comprising AFC celebrity chef and host of TV series Tablescapes Chef Bruce Lim and E&O Group's director of group hospitality & lifestyle Michael Saxon. A host of international and celebrity chefs will make surprise appearances as guest judges in selected episodes.

Lim said the show is open to individuals who are passionate about cooking.

"Auditions are open to Asians aged 18 and above. We are looking for candidates with skill, enthusiasm, passion and who are camera-friendly," said Lim during AFC's Next Celebrity Chef's press conference in Kuala Lumpur recently.

The 33-year-old chef has high expectations of Malaysian participants due to the country's exotic blend of culinary delights.

"I enjoy Malaysian food because they are flavourful and rich. Malaysian cuisine comprises Malay, Chinese, Indian, Nyonya and Eurasian dishes which are distinct and piquant. I love how spices are used in different cuisines. I hope Malaysians will showcase their skills and hopefully promote spices to the world," said Lim.

The entire series will be shot on location at E&O's numerous hospitality and lifestyle properties, including E&O Hotel and Lone Pine Hotel in Penang, and St Mary Residences and Delicious restaurants in Kuala Lumpur.

> All interested candidates can register at asianfoodchannel.com/nextafcchef.

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Kutcher will play Internet billionaire on 'Men'

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 07:02 PM PDT

BEVERLY HILLS, California (AP): Ashton Kutcher will play "an Internet billionaire with a broken heart" when he arrives as the new star of "Two and a Half Men" next month.

CBS Entertainment Nina Tassler shared this tidbit about the much-anticipated cast change for TV's biggest sitcom during a session with television reporters on Wednesday. Kutcher, of course, will fill the void left by Charlie Sheen, who made a stormy exit from "Men" last season.

Kutcher's character will be named Walden Schmidt, confided the CBS boss, who added that Schmidt has no family connection to the characters played by continuing stars Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones. They portrayed the brother and nephew of Sheen's departed character.

Tassler would not confirm or deny reports that the new season of "Men" begins with the death of Sheen's character, Charlie Harper, and a funeral.

"The mystery is part of the marketing," she said.

"Men" begins its ninth season on Sept. 19 with the first of a two-part kickoff that establishes Kutcher's character.

Kutcher's first week on the job begins a new chapter for "Men" after a tumultuous conclusion to Sheen's eight-season run as a fast-living, womanizing cad. Sheen's portrayal drew inspiration from his own life of sex sprees, serial marriages and substance abuse, which spiraled into clashes with the show's studio as well as its creator, Chuck Lorre, and CBS. He was fired in March and the season was shuttered early.

Predictably, Tassler voiced excitement about the show's new star. Kutcher, she said, "is an extraordinarily professional, talented, funny, gifted actor who comes with a tremendous amount of commitment and enthusiasm."

"The show will be as irreverent as it has ever been," she promised. "Our Program Practices people are already on high alert."

Even so, Kutcher and his "Men" co-stars were conspicuously absent from Wednesday's sessions of the Television Critics Association, which was visited by cast members from several of CBS' new autumn shows as well as from "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," the veteran crime drama that is welcoming Ted Danson to the fold for its upcoming 12th season.

Asked why the "Men" gang wasn't on hand, Tassler replied that the show is in production. It resumed shooting Monday, and a break for a meeting across town with reporters would have been too disruptive, she explained.

"There is a tremendous amount of energy and focus and attention," Tassler said. "I would be lying if I didn't say when everybody walked on that set on Monday, you could cut the air with a knife."

Tassler was asked what she had learned from her experience with Sheen.

"Oh, where do I begin?" she replied with mock weariness, but hastily insisted she preferred to look forward, not behind.

Then, when asked if, in the future, CBS might introduce new policies for casting actors who are known for erratic behavior, she cracked, "That would probably be every actor in the business."

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The Star Online: World Updates

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China warns Japan over defence policy paper

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 08:25 PM PDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has warned Japan over a defence white paper voicing wariness about Beijing's military build-up, telling Tokyo that it should instead focus on the economic opportunities brought by China's growth.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Defence Ministry joined in condemning Japan's latest annual defence report, which laid out worries about China's military modernisation and expanding maritime reach.

Japan, which is at odds with China over parts of the East China Sea, is planning to boost the number of its submarines to 22 from 16.

In his response to the Japanese report, which was issued on Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu obliquely warned Tokyo not to depart from its longstanding defence posture.

The Japanese report contained "irresponsible comments" and "the Chinese side expresses its strong dissatisfaction about this", Ma said in remarks issued on his ministry's website (www.mfa.gov.cn) late on Wednesday.

Geng Yansheng, the Chinese defence ministry spokesman, accused Japan of "deliberately exaggerating the 'China threat' and acting out of ulterior motives," according to the ministry's website (http://www.mod.gov.cn).

China's predictably dismissive reaction to Tokyo's policy statement underscored the mix of interdependence and mutual wariness driving ties between Asia's two biggest economies.

"China's development has brought major opportunities to every country in the world, including Japan, and China has not and will not constitute a threat to any country," said Ma, the foreign ministry spokesman.

"We hope that Japan will use history as a guide, and earnestly reflect on its defence policies, and do more to enhance mutual trust with its neighbours," he said.

Japan has a standing military of about 230,000 personnel, one-tenth of China's.

China's defence budget has shot up nearly 70 percent over the past five years, while Japan -- tied by a public debt twice the size of its $5 trillion economy -- has cut its military outlays by 3 percent over the same period, the Japanese report said.

The Japanese white paper expressed concerns over China's rapid military buildup, the murkiness of Beijing's defence budget, and its assertiveness in dealing with international conflicts.

"China's strengthening of its defence and modernising of its military forces is entirely for the sake of protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity and ensuring smooth economic and social development," said Geng, the Chinese defence spokesman.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Ken Wills and Ron Popeski)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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WITNESS - Signs of old era as Egypt turns page with Mubarak trial

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 07:53 PM PDT

CAIRO (Reuters) - Like many Egyptians, the closest I had ever got to the country's fallen president was when I waited in frustration in gridlocked traffic as his motorcade raced through the streets of Cairo.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is seen in the courtroom for his trial at the Police Academy in Cairo, in this still image taken from video August 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Egypt TV via Reuters TV)

On Wednesday, I got a bit closer to the only Egyptian president I have ever known. Hosni Mubarak lay on a hospital bed just metres away, behind bars and in the dock for conspiring to kill protesters during the uprising which ended his 30 years of power in February.

Oddly, this real-life drama opened on a series of television screens propped on the courtroom walls.

Before Mubarak and his sons arrived for their trial, people crammed into the courtroom at a Cairo police academy chatted excitedly, some pointing to television cameras broadcasting the session.

"Did the camera catch me? I think that was me on TV. I want history to show I was here," one policeman told a colleague after spotting himself on the TV screens. "I never thought I would live to see a day like this. No other day can top this."

Then a helicopter appeared on the screens, flying into the barracks compound as it brought Mubarak on the last stage of his journey from a hospital bed to the courtroom cage.

At last our attention turned from the screens to the cage, where defendants in Egyptian criminal trials usually stand. Inside, a metal door opened to let the defendants in.

Mubarak's son Gamal, who many thought was being groomed for top office, looked into the courtroom, glancing at his watch, arms folded and waiting for a request to step inside.

Far from being bowed, Gamal looked more like he was on the way to another meeting of his father's now disbanded political party. "That's Gamal! He is still acting like he is going into a National Democratic Party conference," an onlooker said. Gamal's brother Alaa followed, avoiding eye contact with the crowd.

But the shock of seeing Mubarak's two sons in the dock lasted only the few moments until their father entered on the hospital trolley. The courtroom gasped. "That's the president! There he is!" someone said.

Mubarak, who dyed his hair as he aged in office, still had jet black hair but seemed more frail than in his last appearance before he left Cairo and the presidency behind for the resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh.


Even the policemen, who were supposed to be watching people in the courtroom, stole glances at Mubarak.

"I'm dizzy. I can't believe my eyes," said Khaled, an electrician overseeing the court's sound system.

Mubarak was separated from the crowd not just by the cage bars. His sons, who appeared holding the Koran, seemed to be trying to hide their father from the cameras. Dozens of policemen also blocked the view.

The first day of Mubarak's trial may have opened a new chapter in Egypt's transition from decades of dictatorship. Yet, it was a trial that kept much of the "old Egypt" in tact.

Although the head of the old Egypt was on trial, overwhelming security inside and outside the courtroom showed that the methods of the police state that kept Mubarak in power for three decades are little changed.

Some lawyers representing victims of the uprising that toppled Mubarak and relatives were denied entry due to a lack of space. Yet I watched hundreds of plain-clothes police fill much of the courthouse.

Only four family members of the victims or 414 plaintiffs involved in the case made it into the courtroom.

With more than 100 lawyers in the room -- representing Mubarak, his two sons, the former interior minister and six senior former officers, as well as the plaintiffs -- the patience of the judge seemed to run thin.

"What else do you want? Are those your demands? Quickly please," judge Ahmed Refaat said as lawyer after lawyer took to the stand to make requests during the four-hour session.

Finally Refaat set the date for the next session, ended the hearing and Mubarak was wheeled out.

But I was left wondering how long this complex trial would last, just as before I would wonder how long I had to wait for the presidential motorcade to pass.

(Editing by David Stamp)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Syrian tanks thrust into Hama, 45 killed - activist

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 07:53 PM PDT

AMMAN (Reuters) - At least 45 civilians were killed in a tank assault by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces to occupy the centre of Hama, an activist said on Thursday, in a sharp escalation of a military campaign aimed at ending an uprising against his rule.

Protesters chant as they rally ahead of a funeral for residents killed in recent protests, in Arbeen, on the outskirts of Damascus, in this undated still image taken from amateur video made available on August 2, 2011. (REUTERS/Social media website via Reuters TV)

Reacting to intensifying assaults on Syrian cities and towns, the U.N. Security Council overcame deep divisions and condemned Assad's bloody crackdown on civilian protesters. It was the first substantive action by the U.N. on Syria's five-month-old uprising for political freedoms.

An activist who managed to leave the besieged city told Reuters that 40 people were killed by heavy machinegun fire and shelling by tanks in al-Hader district north of the Orontes river on Wednesday and early on Thursday.

The activist, who gave his name as Thaer, said five more people from the Fakhri and Assa'ad families, including two children, where killed as they were trying to leave Hama by car on the al-Dhahirya highway.

Syrian authorities have expelled most independent media, making it difficult to verify witness accounts and official statements.

Residents earlier said tanks had advanced into central Hama on Wednesday after heavily shelling the city and occupied the main Orontes square, the site of some of the largest protests against Assad, who succeeded his father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, in 2000.

Snipers spread onto rooftops and into the nearby citadel. They said shelling concentrated on al-Hader district, large parts of which were razed in 1982 when forces loyal to Hafez al-Assada overran Hama to crush Islamist insurgents, killing many thousands of people.

Human rights campaigners say more than 90 people, not counting the latest toll, have been killed in Hama since Assad, from Syria's minority Alawite sect, launched a military assault on Sunday to crush dissent against his autocratic rule.

Graphic on violence, click http://link.reuters.com/muw82s

The assaults triggered international condemnation and calls from U.S. senators for sanctions on Syria's energy sector, concentrated in eastern Syria.

Last week tanks moved into the eastern provincial capital of Deir al-Zor and the town of Albu Kamal on the border with Iraq's Sunni heartland. Both town have also witnessed large pro-democracy protests.


"The security apparatus thinks it can wrap this uprising up by relying on the security option and killing as many Syrians as it thinks it will take," a diplomat in the Syrian capital said.

"Tanks are firing their guns at residential buildings in Hama and Deir al-Zor after the two cities were left for weeks to protest peacefully. This is the first time the regime is using tanks with such targeted ferocity," the diplomat said.

The official Syrian news agency said "armed terrorist groups" had abducted three oil-well guards in Deir al-Zor on Wednesday, and killed one policeman.

Authorities say the army had entered Hama to confront "terrorists" who were intimidating inhabitants. State television broadcast footage of armed men who it said had attacked security forces and government buildings in Hama.


A Syrian pharmacist who managed to talk with her family in Hama told Reuters that they had tried to flee but that the 'shabbiha' were randomly shooting residents. Several buildings in Hama had caught fire from tank shelling and snipers were in position on rooftops in Orontes Square, she said.

The Local Coordination Committees grassroots activists' group said in a statement that the authorities were trying prevent any news emerging on the ferocity of the assault. The group said it could no longer contact its members in Hama.

"Communications have been totally cut off in Hama, together with water and electricity. There is a big movement of refugees trying to flee the city," the statement said.

In New York, Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, president this month of the Security Council, read out a statement condemning "widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities".

But it urged all sides to act with restraint, reflecting divisions among the West on one hand and China and Russia, which has a naval base in Syria, on how to deal with Assad.

The only dissenter in the council was Lebanon, where Syrian influence remains strong after a 29-year military presence that ended in 2005. In a rare move, Beirut dissociated itself from a formal statement agreed by the other 14 members.

Syria backs the militant Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, against the wishes of Syria's Sunni majority population.

The U.N. document agreed after three days of hard bargaining, instead of a full council resolution the West would have preferred, urged Damascus to fully respect human rights and comply with its obligations under international law.

The White House slightly hardened its stance against Assad on Wednesday, saying the United States viewed him as the cause of instability in the country.

"Syria would be a better place without President Assad," White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a news conference.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Arinc Bulent, whose country had grown close to Assad in recent years, issued the strongest condemnation yet of the Syrian president by a Turkish leader.

"I'm saying this on my behalf, what's going on in Hama today is an atrocity ... Whoever carries this out can't be our friend. They are making a big mistake," he said.

The plight of Hama has prompted many Syrians to stage solidarity marches since the start of the holy month of Ramadan earlier this week.

The Syrian Revolution Coordination Union said seven demonstrators were shot dead in attacks by security forces on protests after nightly Ramadan prayers across Syria on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Michael Roddy)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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Peng Shuai hopes to emulate Li Na’s heroics

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 06:25 PM PDT

SAN DIEGO: China's Peng Shuai (pic) entered the US hard court season with a career-high ranking and now holds hopes of some day matching the heroics of her trailblazing countrywoman, Li Na.       

Li Na became the first Chinese to win a Grand Slam singles title when she took the French Open in June, winning worldwide acclaim and marking another milestone in China's rapid rise as a force in the women's game.       

Twenty-five year-old Peng Shuai, long a stablemate of Li Na's in their country's rigid Soviet-style sport system, has taken heart at her compatriot's triumph at Roland Garros at the age of 29, and believes she might be in for some late blooming herself.       

"I think Asian players grow up later," Peng Shuai, who has soared to 17 from a world ranking of 72 at the start of the year, told a small group of reporters at the San Diego Open.       

"It took me five years to break the top 20 but I'm really happy I never gave up."

Peng Shuai said Li Na's win at Roland Garros was huge in her country and had inspired a lot of people to take up the sport.

She now hopes her hard-hitting game can help China break new ground at the US Open starting Aug. 29, where no Chinese has made the last four.

"A Grand Slam title is every player's dream but I really just want to try my best," said Peng Shuai. — Reuters       

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Rivals back Kendrick and rebuke Odesnik in dope fights

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 06:24 PM PDT

WASHINGTON: Some of Robert Kendrick's fellow ATP players are rallying behind the 31-year-old American in the wake of a one-year doping ban handed down last week by the International Tennis Federation.

But compatriot Wayne Odesnik, who played his first ATP match yesterday after a seven-month ban following an admission he carried human growth hormone (HGH) into Australia, is getting no such sympathy.

Kendrick tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine at the French Open in May. He claimed to have ingested the substance when he took a diet pill, Zija, to combat jetlag.

While accepting his story, the ITF said that players are responsible for any substance in their body and imposed a ban until next May, although an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport could see that timeframe reduced.

"I think it's absolutely ridiculous he has gotten a year ban," American Ryan Sweeting said after a first-round ATP Washington Classic victory on Tuesday. "I've been in touch with him. We've been speaking every day.

"For a 31-year-old to take one diet pill and receive a year ban, I just don't understand the logic behind it. All the players wonder what is going on."

While admitting that players do bear responsibility for what they ingest, Sweeting said that they wonder why some have received more lenient punishments for what could be considered worse violations.

Odesnik's two-year ban last year was reduced to seven months for participating in an ITF programme.

"He got let off the hook a little bit while Robert Kendrick got a really, really raw deal," said American John Isner.

"I can say with 1,000 per cent certainty (Kendrick) was not trying to enhance his performance. He made a mistake and he's paying a pretty steep price, too steep in my opinion."

US veteran James Blake also supports leniency for Kendrick.

"To put him out for a year, for all intents and purposes end his career, is pretty harsh," he said. "To go out this way I don't think is fair, especially when we've got a guy in this tournament (Odesnik) who I think has done a lot worse."

As for Odesnik, Blake said: "I wouldn't say he's at our dinner table too often. I don't agree with what he did."

There is a "Free Kendo" Facebook page and Bosnian Amer Delic posted his support for Kendrick on the Twitter microblogging service.

"Common sense should prevail," Delic said. "My friend and colleague has been treated really really unfairly."— AFP

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Injury-free Tiger feels ‘solid’ ahead of comeback

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 06:23 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Fresh from a practice session and eager to play again, Tiger Woods said on Tuesday he feels better than he has in a long time ahead of his return this week from a three-month injury layoff.

The former world number one, speaking to reporters ahead of this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invita-tional at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, said the left leg pain that kept him out of tournament golf since May is behind him.

"I don't feel a thing. It feels solid, it feels stable, no pain," Woods said after playing nine holes at Firestone, where he is a seven-time winner, without a noticeable limp.

Woods has not competed since he withdrew from the Players Championship in May after completing just nine holes and the 35-year-old American said he is excited to make his return to the game he once dominated.

The 14-time Major champion will try to get back into the swing of things this week at Firestone, then play next week at the PGA Championship in Atlanta.

He also hopes to qualify for the season-ending playoffs for the FedEx Cup and has signed up to play the Australian Open in Sydney in November, making him a likely starter for the following week's Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

A practice round on Monday in Atlanta and Tuesday's nine holes pleased him, he said.

"I still haven't been in a competitive environment yet, so that's a totally different atmosphere," he said. "But the shots felt very crisp, very clean. I was very pleased."

Woods, who missed the June 16-19 US Open at Congressional and the July 14-17 British Open at Royal St. George's because of the injury, said he had the urge to resume play last week at the Greenbrier Classic, but held off.

"Docs advised that maybe I'd want to take another week of training and really start pushing it pretty hard, so I did, and I feel good now," he said.

Woods hurt his left knee ligaments and Achilles tendon during the Masters in April but returned to competition about a month later at the Players, which he said was too soon.

"If I had just sat out another week or two, I'd probably have been playing through this stretch. But I wanted to come back and play and made it worse," said Woods. — Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Support Line

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 06:52 PM PDT

Fajarbaru Builder Group

SHARES of Fajarbaru Builder Group finished flat at RM1.07 amid extended sideways correction yesterday. With the stochastic falling and the moving average convergence/divergence (MACD) in danger of going under the signal line, prices may continue to consolidate in the short term. Solid support and initial resistance are envisaged at RM1.02 and RM1.14 respectively.

MNRB Holdings

RENEWED buying pushed MNRB Holdings to a near 20-month high of RM3.17 during intra-day session yesterday. Apparently, indicators are positive, implying prices may extend gains in the near term. If they can overcome the RM3.40 barrier, the next target would be to fill the RM4.04-RM4.16 gap. Support is seen at the RM3 mark, followed by the RM2.78 level.

Petronas Chemicals

PETRONAS Chemicals fell two sen to RM6.79 amid extended correction yesterday. Technically, the negative expansion of the MACD histogram against the trigger line suggests this stock may ease in the short term, with support anticipating at the RM6.60 floor. Strong resistance can be expected at the RM7.25-RM7.30 range.

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

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Overseer for China banks

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 06:10 PM PDT

BEIJING: China is considering a proposal to create a ministerial-level body to manage its state-owned banks and non-bank financial enterprises, two sources with knowledge of the plan said, a move that would strengthen Beijing's grip on its lenders.

China's motivations for the move weren't clear but the step could help the government tighten its control over the financial sector at a time when worries about local debt obligations are intensifying.

The new body would have a say in the management of China's biggest state-controlled financial institutions, including banks, brokerages, insurers, trust firms and funds, said the sources, one of whom has ties to China's top leaders and another who is a senior executive in China's financial industry.

By creating an overseer for banks, Beijing could distribute the burden of managing its numerous and sometimes unruly state-owned businesses.

The new financial supervisor would also outrank top bank executives in China's political hierarchy, said the sources, an important consideration in a country where top managers of state-controlled firms are usually high-ranking Communist Party members.

The heads of China's financial regulators, including the China Banking Regulatory Commission and the central bank, often have the same or slightly lower Party rank as the heads of the top state-owned firms.

The sources have requested anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to reporters. — Reuters

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S&P: Malaysia rating cut due to methodology

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 05:39 PM PDT

SINGAPORE: Standard & Poor's decision to cut Malaysia's sovereign rating last week was prompted by a change in its ratings methodology and its view on the country's creditworthiness remains unchanged, a senior analyst told Reuters yesterday.

The agency had lowered Malaysia's local currency rating to A from A+ on July 27.

"We define the foreign currency rating first, and then how much more the credit can notch up to the local currency rating," S&P's director of Asian sovereign ratings Takahira Ogawa said in an interview.

Following S&P's decision to reduce the maximum difference between a country's local and foreign currency ratings to two notches from three, the ratings agency decided to cut Malaysia's local rating to one notch above the A- foreign rating, he added.

"If you look at Malaysia, already 30% of the government (debt) securities is owned by foreigners ... It is getting more and more difficult for us to have higher differentiation between the local and foreign currency rating," Ogawa said.

Ogawa said yesterday that Asia's sovereign ratings remained on an uptrend although the pace would slow due to problems in the United States and Europe that could affect the region. - Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Sheen withdraws lawsuit over NY hotel incident

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 12:53 AM PDT

SANTA MONICA, California (AP) - Court records show a judge has granted Charlie Sheen's request to dismiss a lawsuit filed against a woman who locked herself in the bathroom of an upscale New York hotel room that the actor left in tatters.

Sheen claimed Capri Anderson locked herself in the bathroom of the Plaza Hotel because she had taken one of his watches valued at $165,000. His lawsuit sought reimbursement.

Anderson told police the actor put his hands around her throat during the raucous evening in late October, but she managed to slip away.

Sheen sued Anderson for attempted extortion in November after she recounted her version of events on "Good Morning America."

Court records show Sheen's attorney were granted a dismissal of the case without prejudice on Friday, which means the actor could re-file.

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Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones to receive Oscars

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 12:02 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (AP): Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones and makeup artist Dick Smith will be getting Oscars.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says the three will be honored with Oscar statuettes at the Governors Awards in November. The academy's Board of Governors voted Tuesday to recognize the entertainment industry veterans.

Winfrey will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which honors philanthropic and humanitarian contributions. The 57-year-old media mogul, who was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar for 1985's "The Color Purple," supports various charitable and educational causes, including her own namesake foundations and Academy for Girls in South Africa.

Jones and Smith will receive honorary Oscars for their outstanding careers.

Jones has appeared in more than 50 films. The 80-year-old actor - voice of Darth Vader in "Star Wars"_ was nominated for an Academy Award in 1971 for "The Great White Hope." His other credits include "Field of Dreams," "Patriot Games" and "The Hunt for Red October."

Smith was NBC's first makeup man when he started his career in 1945. He won an Oscar in 1984 for his work on "Amadeus" and was nominated again in 1989 for "Dad." Known as the "godfather of makeup," he also worked on "The Godfather," "The Exorcist" and "Taxi Driver." Smith also helped train many of today's top movie makeup artists.

Smith, Jones and Winfrey will receive their statuettes on Nov. 12 at the 3rd annual Governors Awards dinner at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center, just above the Kodak Theatre, where the Academy Awards are presented.

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Money for abandoned project not returned, Pempena COO tells court

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 04:56 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Pempena Sdn Bhd chief operations officer Idros Mohd told the Sessions Court here Wednesday that the RM888,000 sent to the company to open a Malaysian restaurant in Dubai was not returned, although the project was abandoned.

He said that Low Chin Meng, an officer of LCL Interiors, had suggested that the money be used to "offset" the amount that Pempena owed his company for opening Awana Beijing and Awana Hyderabad restaurants.

The proposal was brought to the board of directors on Oct 29, 2008 but was rejected, said Idros, the fifth prosecution witness in the trial of Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab and former Pempena chief operations officer Mohammad Rosly Md Selamat, who are charged with criminal breach of trust involving RM888,000.

Mirza, 54, and Mohammad Rosly, 57, are said to have committed the offence at the Pempena office on the 13th floor of Menara Datuk Onn at the Putra World Trade Centre here on Feb 27 Feb 2007.

Idros, 57, said Pempena, a subsidiary of Tourism Malaysia, did not have any written procedure on investments.

Idros, who joined Pempena at the end of 2008, said the company was in a critical financial state.

Hearing before judge Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh continues Thursday. - Bernama

Related Stories:
Pempena case: Witness confirms advance payment voucher for Dubai project
CBT trial involving Tourism DG, ex-Pempena COO begins
Mirza denies RM888,000 CBT charge

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MCA launches study link with six Taiwanese varsities

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 04:47 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA has launched a study link with six Taiwanese universities for 300 Malaysian students to pursue vocational studies in Taiwan for two years.

Party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said successful applicants would enjoy a full tuition fee waiver worth up to RM20,000, which would be borne by the Taiwanese Education Ministry.

He said a selection committee, led by Tan Sri Dr Fong Chan Onn, would screen and select the applicants based on their interests, attitude, results and performance.

"We don't discriminate against anybody. There are many Malaysians who are good in Mandarin and they are welcome to apply for the programme," he told reporters at a press conference to announce the collaboration with Taiwan at Wisma MCA here Wednesday.

Open to Malaysians who are fluent in Chinese, the programme emphasises practical training and industrial exposure.

The courses on offer include child care education, repair and maintenance of computers, communication devices, household appliances, tool and die, graphic and multimedia design, furniture design and hospitality.

The six universities are Chinese Culture University, Mingdao University, TransWorld University, Feng Chia University, I-Shou University and National Pingtung University of Science and Technology. Classes will commence next month.

Applicants must be below 40 and have at least SPM, STPM or UEC qualifications.

He said Kojadi would provide students with interest-free loans for five years to cover their living expenses, and that they would not be required to serve a bond upon completion of their course.

Dr Chua added the programme was in line with the country's development and need for a skilled workforce.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia representative Yu-chung Lo said Taiwan's vocational courses were recognised worldwide for their quality and advancement.

He hoped this programme would provide Taiwan with an opportunity to share its expertise and experience with Malaysia.

Dr Chua said the MCA Youth would also be having roadshows in Penang, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru to promote the study opportunities.

The closing date for applications is Aug 17. For more info, call 03-2166 8211 or 03-2161 8044 or visit www.mca.org.my.

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RM1mil worth of pirated DVDs, VCDs seized in raid

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 03:13 AM PDT

BUTTERWORTH: Pirated VCDs and DVDs worth RM1mil were seized in a raid by the enforcement division of the state Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministy on a premises in Seberang Jaya near here Wednesday.

Its enforcement chief M. Guna Selan said during the raid at around noon, 100,000 copies of pirated and pornographic VCDs and DVDs of various titles were seized.

He said the raid was mounted by the division's 11-member team lead by Mohd Amir Abdullah following a three-week investigation.

"During the raid, the premises was locked and we had to break open the doors to get in. The lights were on, but I believe those inside had fled the scene when they realised our presence. Efforts are being taken to track them down," he told reporters here.

Also seized were 11 CD burners and printing equipment.

Guna Selan said it was the largest seizure of pirated VCDs and DVDs in Penang this year.

Initial investigation found that the VCDs and DVDs were not only meant for distribution in Penang, but also in Kedah and Johor, he added. - Bernama

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Speed breakers a bane to residents in SS3

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 05:21 AM PDT

ROAD humps are a safety feature to slow down vehicles but about 20 new humps that were installed recently in SS3 have become a bane to the residents.

Two of the road humps in Jalan SS3/43 are about 280mm high — almost double the specification of the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ). A standard speed bump should be at 150mm high.

A resident of Taman University, Krishna Shanmugam, said the road humps installed overnight on June 12 were so high that only SUVs could clear it without damage.

"Motorcyclists find it difficult to ride over the humps and the front bumpers and undercarriage of cars will not be able to cross without being hit and damaged.

"Children are also complaining because the roads are no longer suitable for cycling," he said.

Krishna has written several complaint letters to MBPJ, including a hand-delivered letter to the mayor which were all unanswered except for the first copy which explained that the council was following the guidelines of the Public Works Department (PWD).

However, a PWD officer from the engineering and geotechnique department Hafisza Abd Hamid sent Krishna a copy of the basic road hump guidelines which were contradicting.

"Hafisza stated that the road humps should be 200mm high and 3.5m to 4m wide. He also gave a table which stated it should be 75mm high and 300mm in width as well as spaced at a minimum of 100m between the speed bumps and a minimum of 10m away from road junctions.

"When I questioned the contradicting figures, there was no reply," he said.

MBPJ public relations officer Zainun Zakaria said the road hump installation process would have to go through a few stages.

"The residents association (RA) or Rukun Tetangga (RT) makes a request to the council and then a traffic study is conducted by our officers to justify the need for the road humps and its effect on the traffic system.

"The results are then discussed by the infrastructure and traffic committee and if found feasible, will be brought to the full board meeting to be approved," she said.

However, in this case, SS3 RA and RT chairmen denied requesting for the road humps.

SS3 RT chairman S. Narasingam said that he had complained to MBPJ more than a year ago to increase the visibility and safety of an accident-prone junction that connected Jalan SS3/72, Jalan SS3/36 and Jalan SS3/29.

Krishna questioned the results of the traffic study.

"There is one outside my house on a quiet road. Neither I nor my neighbours were consulted before the humps were installed," he said.

SS3 Residents Association chairman Datuk Dr Wong Sai Hou said humps were also installed in the surrounding residential areas.

"The humps are high and installed at places like junctions and near car parking lots which may cause accidents. The safety standard has taken a backseat."

Wong said the council should look into the matter and rectify the situation before an accident occurred.

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Metro Watch

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 05:17 AM PDT


SEVERAL free public forums will taking place in the Klang Valley as part of the NAN Grow 3 presents Immunity Week's How & Why Series to empower parents with knowledge on their child's immune system. They will be held concurrently this Saturday at Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Sunway Medical Centre, Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur, and Tropicana Medical Centre. Register online at www.greattummy.com.my to reserve your seats.


D'HAPPY Club activity centre for seniors is collaborating with the Malaysian Parkinson's Disease Association to conduct a talk on "Understanding Parkinson's, its causes and symptoms", on Friday at 10am at Pusat Communiti Touch, 124 Jalan SS 2/6, Petaling Jaya. It aims to create awareness about the disease and give moral support to Parkinson's patient sand their caregivers. Admission is free. For details, call 012-323 0560 or visit www.kairosforcommunity.blogspot.com


THE Sitiawan Anglo Chinese School (Old Pupils Association) will be organising a get together at the Taman Rahsna Restaurant in Klang on Aug 20. Tickets for the eight-course Chinese dinner is RM50 each, inclusive of drinks. Those interested to attend can contact 012-693 3293 (Lau Ing Seng)/ 012-350 2921 (Lee Huong Seng)/ 013-363 2881 (John Ng)/ 012-225 6112 (Kevin Wong)/ 012-212 9098 (Ding Cho Hee).


THE Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) will be having a Meet the Customers Day this Friday from 9am-11.30am at the MBSA Gallery, Ground Floor, Wisma MBSA. They will be able to meet heads of departments as well as Shah Alam mayor to answer their queries and issues. For details, call 03-5522 2734/ 2743/ 2741.


A FREE seminar on UPSR examination will be held on Saturday from 9am-1pm at the Desa Mentari Education Centre, No 5-2, Jalan PJS 6/5, Desa Mentari, Petaling Jaya. It will cover overall exam topics and exam tips. For details, call 016-644 9747/ 010-261 2446.


The EIP (Early Intervention Programme) Autism will be having a community day on Saturday from 10am-4pm at PJU5, Kota Damansara. They provide screenings for children suspected of developmental delays. To register, call 03-6148 3142.

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Cultures galore at 6th Sabah Folkore Festival

Posted: 02 Aug 2011 05:22 PM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: The 6th Sabah International Folklore Festival drew to a close with China taking home the main prize, the Chief Minister's Award, in a night filled with the best of the world's cultures.

Dressed in figure-hugging long pink dresses, dancers from the Chinese Zhu Hai Hansen dancing group wowed the audience with their flowing and elegant moves on stage.

Putting in a stellar performance, dancers from Taiwan won the Cultural Minister's Award, making another fruitful outing to Sabah after notching the main prize last year.

Another staunch supporter of the festival, the Kazakhstan dance troupe also grabbed the Sabah Cultural Board Award.

There were also other subsidiary awards like the Best Music Award that went to the Egypt dance troupe, Best Choreography to Russia, Best Costume Award to South Korea and Best Performance Award to Indonesia.

The Namibian dancers on the other hand won the Most Popular Group Award while the Philippines attained the Highest Online Award and Slovakia notched the Jury Award.

Other countries that took to the stage were Singapore, Thailand, India, Latvia, Turkey, Estonia and Belgium while Malaysia, represented by the Johore Warisan Art Troupe did not participate in the dance contest but instead only presented the many dances of Malaysia.

State Resource Development and Information Technology Minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai presented the prizes to the winners.

Apart from promoting cultural tourism, the festival was aimed at fostering cultural ties between the participating countries.

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State to decide on changing streetlights

Posted: 02 Aug 2011 05:21 PM PDT

MALACCA: The State Government is mulling over replacing its conventional streetlights with cost-efficient LED's (light emitting diode).

The switch would be carried out once the local council have conducted a feasibility study on its usage.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the local council had been told to estimate the cost in making the replacement and its feasibility.

Once done, the state government would decide if they would fully introduce the LED or otherwise.

"I was told its cost about RM1,700 to convert from the bulb to LED for each of the lamp post but on a long term it would be more economical," he said after unveiling 10 of such streetlights along Jalan Tun Kudu here, recently.

The first batch of LED streetlights was installed by Selangor-basedlighting firm- MYLED Sdn Bhd.

Mohd Ali said the LED would also reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and minimise the infrared radiation.

LED also doesn't contain health hazard elements like sodium and mercy, thus it environmentally friendly, he said.

Mohd Ali said LED lifespan is determined by its light output and could last longer compared with other bulbs.

The primary appeal of LED street lighting is energy efficiency compared with incandescent bulbs of the same luminance, he said.

Mohd Ali said LED's could also reduce the glare for drivers and pedestrians.

"The drawback of LED focus panels is that it directed to the road where else light is emitted to footpaths and other areas could be addressed by the use of specialised lens design and adjustable mounting spigots."

Mohd Ali said research continues to improve the efficiency of LED models used as streetlight where such system could last for 12 years and allows it for cost recovery through energy savings in only three years.

An LED, based on a 901 milliwatt output, can normally produce the same amount of luminance as a traditional light, but requires only half of the power consumption, he added

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Dressing like a true Johorean

Posted: 02 Aug 2011 05:21 PM PDT

BATU PAHAT: When it comes to dressing up in traditional attire during Hari Raya Aidilfitri, true-blue Johor Malays will only dress in a style synonymous with them.

One could easily spot a Johorean Malay in his Baju Melayu Telok Blangah as men from Johor often that not, wear only that style.

Malays from others states, preferred Baju Melayu Cekak Musang, although both styles originated from Johor in the 1880s, Telok Blangah is more popular with Johorean Malays.

The Telok Blangah style has a round neck with a slit in the middle that's connected by a detachable single button while Cekak Musang, which comes in three or five buttons fixed at the placket, has a Mandarin-like collar.

The Baju Melayu Telok Blangah style would be matched with songkok tinggi (tall songkok).

"The classic Johor songkok tinggi is typical to Johor and best worn with the Telok Blangah style,'' said songkok maker Ismail Jushi.

He said Johor songkok tinggi was taller than the usual songkok worn by the Malays in other states.

"Songkok tinggi was believed have to be worn in Johor since the 1900s," he said.

Ismail, 46, is the only songkok maker left in the district. He has been making the headdress since 1984.

He took over the trade from his late father Jushi Said who started the business at Pasar Melayu, Jalan Ibrahim, some 40 years ago.

The songkok Ismail makes comes in various heights - from 11.5cm to the tallest at 14cm - and they are made from the best quality velvet known as Crown Jewel from South Korea.

Apart from walk-in customers, he also supplied the songkok to retailers in Batu Pahat, Muar and Johor Baru.

He said the demand for the songkok tinggi is high during the Hari Raya festival.

"I have got orders from my customers from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. They simply love the songkok as they think the style is unique."

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