Rabu, 10 Ogos 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Producer says Jennifer Lopez will return to 'Idol'

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 05:46 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP): An executive producer of the hit musical reality TV show "American Idol" says celebrity judge Jennifer Lopez will return for another season.

Lopez hasn't said anything.

But executive producer Nigel Lythgoe was on the "On-Air with Ryan Seacrest" program on Wednesday morning and made the announcement. He acknowledged it wasn't official. But he added he was "delighted to say that all three judges" and the show's "brilliant host" are back for the next season.

Seacrest is the show's host. Singer-actress Lopez debuted as a judge this past season. The other judges are Aerosmith rocker Steven Tyler and record producer Randy Jackson.

"American Idol" is due to return to Fox television in January for its 11th season.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Soul searching lies ahead as riots cool in Britain

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 08:32 PM PDT

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron will face pressure on Thursday to soften his austerity plans, toughen up policing and do more to help inner-city communities after days of riots and looting laid bare deep social tensions in a depressed economy.

A woman paints a message on a boarded up shop in Ealing, west London August 10, 2011. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

With the public seething over the looting of anything from sweets to televisions, Cameron has so far dismissed the rioters as nothing more than opportunistic criminals and denied the unrest was linked to the knock-on effects of deep spending cuts.

But community leaders say inequality, cuts to public services and high youth unemployment are also probably to blame for some of the worst violence seen in Britain for decades.

As the clear up continues, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government must find quick fixes to avoid further unrest while also addressing longer-term problems in what Cameron has called "broken Britain".

"There are pockets of our society that are not just broken but frankly sick," Cameron told reporters.

A surge in police numbers helped to calm streets in London and cities across England such as Manchester and Birmingham on Wednesday night, but four days of often unchecked disorder have embarrassed the authorities, leaving communities ransacked and exhausting emergency services.

Police arrested more than 1,000 people across England, filling cells and leaving courts working through the night to process hundreds of cases. Among those charged were a teaching assistant, an 11-year-old boy and a charity worker.

It is unclear whether the peace will hold, but trouble on Wednesday night was limited to the odd skirmish. Businessmen and residents had also come together to protect their areas.

"Blacks, Asians, whites - we all live in the same community - why do we have to kill one another?" said Tariq Jahan, whose son was one of three young Muslim men run over by a car and killed while apparently protecting property in the mayhem in Birmingham on Tuesday night.

"Step forward if you want to lose your sons, otherwise calm down and go home, please," he said.

As police investigate that incident and the many other crimes of the last few days, attention is now likely to turn to finding out why the riots and looting erupted and spread and why police were slow to tackle the violence.


Cameron has ordered a rare recall of parliament on Thursdsay from its summer recess to debate the unrest which flared first in north London after police shot dead an Afro-Caribbean man.

The opposition Labour party, eager for the government to take a less harsh approach to dealing with a record budget deficit, said cuts to police budgets had contributed to the escalation in violence.

"The scale of government cuts is making it harder for the police to do their jobs and keep us safe," said Yvette Cooper, Labour's home affairs spokeswoman.

Long-term tensions between police and youth, a dearth of opportunities for children from disadvantaged areas and visible inequalities where the wealthy often live just yards away from run-down city estates have also been highlighted.

Others have sided with Cameron, condemning the groups of youths as thrill-seeking thugs who are indicative of a breakdown in Britain's social fabric and morals.

Tensions have been bubbling in Britain for some time, with the economy struggling to grow after an 18-month recession, one in five young people out of work and high inflation squeezing incomes and hitting the poor hardest.

Finance minister George Osborne will also address parliament on Thursday amid growing concern that the widely publicised scenes of rioting could damage confidence in the economy and in London, one of the world's biggest financial centres.

(Reporting by Matt Falloon, editing by Tim Pearce)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Europe warns Syria of UN steps, Russia wants reform

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 06:59 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - European members of the Security Council on Wednesday threatened Syria that it could face tougher U.N. action if it continued a bloody crackdown on protesters, while Russia urged Damascus to implement promised reforms as soon as possible.

But veto powers Russia and China, backed by India, South Africa and Brazil, have vehemently opposed the idea of slapping U.N. sanctions on Damascus, which Western diplomats say would be the logical next step for Syria.

Council diplomats said there were no signs that the five so-called "BRICS" nations have altered their positions despite the five-month-old crackdown by Syrian security forces on protesters in cities across the country.

Envoys of Britain, France, Germany and Portugal spoke to reporters after a closed-door session of the 15-nation council convened to assess Syria's compliance with last week's call by the Security Council for "an immediate end to all violence."

They said Damascus has ignored that demand.

At Wednesday's meeting, U.N. deputy political affairs chief Oscar Fernandez-Taranco told council members that the violence had continued and the humanitarian situation remained dire, diplomats who attended the meeting told Reuters.

He said that nearly 2,000 civilians had been killed since March, 188 since July 31 -- and 87 on Aug. 8 alone.

Britain's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Philip Parham suggested to reporters that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continued to ignore calls from the Security Council for an end to the clampdown, Damascus could face U.N. sanctions.

"If they continue ... along their current path and they fail to heed those calls, then we believe the council must look at taking further steps to keep up the pressure on the Syrian regime," Parham said.


Parham's counterparts from France, Germany and Portugal echoed his warning that further steps -- which is often diplomatic code for sanctions -- would have to be discussed.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters earlier that "it would be much, much better for the people of Syria, and Syria would be better off, without Assad." She was echoing comments made last week by White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Rice told the Security Council that the United States "is working together with its international partners to bring greater pressure to bear on the Syrian regime through further coordinated diplomatic and financial measures."

"We are also working with our partners to stem the flow of the weapons and ammunition that Syrian security forces, under Assad's authority, continue to use against peaceful protesters," she said, according to the text of her remarks.

The Security Council will take up Syria again next week.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow had made clear to Damascus that it wants Assad's promised reforms implemented as swiftly as possible.

"What we are telling them is that they need to have serious reforms as soon as possible, even though we do realize that it takes time, especially in a dramatic situation like this, you simply cannot carry out reforms overnight," he said.

Asked if he thought new U.S. sanctions against Syria announced by Washington on Wednesday were helpful, Churkin said, "No."

Syrian envoy Bashar Ja'afari blasted the Europeans, accusing them of misleading reporters about the situation.

"They tried to manipulate the truth and to hide important facts and elements related to the so-called situation in Syria," he said, adding that the Europeans had deliberately ignored Assad's promises of reform and national dialogue.

He also took aim at British Prime Minister David Cameron.

"To hear the prime minister of England describing the riots and the rioters in England by using the term 'gangs', while they don't allow us to use the same term for the armed groups and the terrorist groups in my country," he said. "This is hypocrisy. This is arrogance."

Parham dismissed Ja'afari's comparison between the riots in Britain and the violence in Syria as "absurd."

(Editing by Paul Simao)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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White House rejects claim about bin Laden raid film

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 05:27 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Moviemakers producing a film about the U.S. special forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden are getting help from the Pentagon, but the Obama administration dismissed concerns on Wednesday that classified information has been divulged.

A resident walks past the compound where U.S. Navy SEAL commandos killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad May 5, 2011. (REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/Files)

The film, focusing on one of President Barack Obama's key successes in office, is due to be released in October 2012, less than a month before the election in which the Democrat is seeking a second term.

Republican Peter King, chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, called on Tuesday for an investigation into contacts between the administration and the filmmakers. King questioned whether special operations methods had been compromised.

"The claims are ridiculous," White House spokesman Jay Carney told a White House briefing.

"We do not discuss classified information. And I would hope that as we face the continued threat from terrorism, the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie," Carney added.

U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Defense Department is cooperating with filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal as they work on a motion picture about the raid that killed bin Laden.

The two, who collaborated on the Oscar-winning Iraq war movie "The Hurt Locker," had been developing the bin Laden film even before the al Qaeda leader was killed in May in a raid on a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

In a statement, the pair said their movie covered a period of three different U.S. administrations that searched for bin Laden, including those of Presidents Clinton and Bush.

"This was an American triumph, both heroic and non-partisan, and there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise," Bigelow and Boal said in their joint statement.

The Pentagon has a two-person entertainment media office that assists makers of films, television shows, computer games and other entertainment media targeting mass audiences.

"Mostly when we're contacted by filmmakers they're looking for access to our equipment, our personnel and our installations. Technical advice is kind of a byproduct of that relationship," said Phil Strub, who heads the office.

Reacting to a New York Times column saying the film was timed to give Obama a "home-stretch boost" in his re-election bid, King called for an investigation into the assertion that Bigelow had been given "top-level access to the most classified mission in history."

On the Bigelow film, Lapan said the Defense Department is "providing assistance with script research, which is something we commonly do for established filmmakers." Lapan said the Pentagon attempts to help filmmakers and authors but "we do not discuss classified information."

Carney said information provided to the filmmakers "has been focused on the president's role."

"There is no difference in the information that we've given to anybody who's working on this topic from what we gave to those of you in this room who worked on it in the days and weeks after the raid itself," Carney told reporters.

(Editing by Will Dunham and Eric Walsh)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

FBM KLCI down in early trade

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 07:45 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI was down 6.74 points, or 0.46% at 1,473.78 in early trade on Thursday, as local investors took profit following the overnight tumble seen on Wall Street.

Turnover was 329.72 million shares done valued at RM578.35 million. There were 131 gainers, 465 losers and 172 stocks unchanged.

HwangDBS Vickers Research said in a report issued today that the market rebound seen yesterday may be short-lived as the local bourse is likely to surrender all its gains and more following Wall Street's overnight collapse.

The benchmark FBM KLCI could tumble towards the support zone of 1,415 to 1,435. "Investors will be looking to dump shares across the region today after major US equity indices plunged between 4.1% and 4.6% last night," HwangDBS said.

Essentially, market sentiment was hit hard amid mounting worries that there would be spillover effects from possible fallout from the prevailing European debt crisis.

"With the number of declining stocks set to overwhelm advancing ones back home, hoping to buck the bearish trend is Malaysia Airports. The stock may react to a media report that airport taxes could be raised from next month," it added.

Meanwhile, regional peers were mixed in their early trade with Shanghai SE Composite gained 0.24% to 2,555.31, Kopsi increased 0.81% to 1,820.92 and Singapore's STI down 1.45% to 2,780.26.

The ringgit against the US dollar was quoted at 3.0104 against yesterday's close at 3.0071.

Crude oil was down at US$82.83, from yesterday's close of US$82.89. Palm oil futures on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange was up RM9 at RM2,946 per tonne.

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UOB Kay Hian: CIMB profit estimate reduced on lower loans growth

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 05:06 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Earnings forecast for CIMB Group Holdings Bhd has been reduced by 2% to 3.2% for the next two financial years to take into account lower loans growth.

In lowering its forecast, UOB Kay Hian said that following a recent downward revision of CIMB's loans growth target from 18% to "low to mid-teens" for this year, it was putting the loans growth target for CIMB from 18% to 15% for this year.

"We fine tune our net profit forecasts for this year and next year accordingly," it told clients in a report yesterday.

CIMB had lowered its loans growth target amid an intensifying price war for mortgage loans in Indonesia - where it has operations via its 97.7% owned unit, PT Bank CIMB Niaga Tbk.

That said, the research house is expecting CIMB to post a 7% to 9% year-on-year increase in its net profit for its second quarter ended June 30 - due to be announced before the end of the month.

This was on track to meet its return on equity guidance of 17%, UOB Kay Hian said, adding that quarter on quarter, CIMB was expected to post an increase of between 4% to 6%. CIMB posted a net profit of RM889.5mil for its second quarter ended June 30, 2010; for the first quarter ended March 31 this year, the group's net profit was RM916.5mil.

CIMB Niaga recorded a 12.5% quarter-on-quarter increase to Rp819bil in its net earnings for its recently concluded second quarter compared with a flattish quarter-on-quarter net earnings in the first quarter.

Kenanga Research, in its note, said CIMB Niaga's outlook should remain "positive" this year in light of the accelerating balance sheet growth strategy, supported by its recent capital raising exercises.

Balance sheet and earnings growth rates are likely to remain strong in 2011 and CIMB Group should continue to benefit, despite the risk of margin squeeze, Kenanga said.

In its report, AmResearch said it was not revising downwards its forecasts "at the moment"

"CIMB Niaga has historically been able to record quarter-on-quarter increase in net earnings and we expect the trend to continue," the research house said.

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MSC posts higher profit

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 05:05 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Tin producer Malaysia Smelting Corp Bhd (MSC) posted a higher net profit of RM36.3mil in the second quarter ended June 3O compared with RM7.98mil a year earlier due to higher profit from its tin mining and smelting operations in Malaysia and Indonesia as well as higher tin prices.

Revenue for the period rose to RM853mil versus RM623mil while earnings per share were 36 sen against 10.6 sen.

The group had proposed an interim dividend of 12 sen per share less 25% tax per share payable on Sept 28.

Meanwhile, at a media briefing yesterday, group chief executive Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Ajib Anuar said the group was hoping to acquire new and existing mines projects in Malaysia and Indonesia.

"We are hoping to get the approvals and getting the licences for some of the mines this year and some next year," he said, adding that the mines were not that big in size and capable of producing 100 to 200 tonnes per month.

As for the second-quarter results, Mohd Ajib said the group expected the overall performance to remain profitable in the second half of 2011 despite the current market volatility and uncertain short-term outlook.

He also said MSC was optimistic about the long-term prospects of the tin industry and believed that the group would be able to capitalise on the strong global tin market fundamentals to expand its business.

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Pressure and heat could make PGA a true gem

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 07:07 PM PDT

TIGER Woods is healthy. Rory McIlroy is ready. Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Adam Scott are hungry. Temperatures are hot, the course is formidable and young guns are taking aim at a Major title.

There's not much more golf fans could want when the 93rd PGA Championship tees off at Atlanta Athletic Club, a 7,467-yard par 70 layout where the world's finest meet in the year's final major tournament.

"The competition is strong," Scott said. "Luke Donald has played amazing, Lee Westwood is playing amazing and now we have Tiger healthy again, so this is going to be interesting for everyone to watch."

Former World No. 1 Woods, a 14-time Major winner chasing the all-time record 18 Majors won by Jack Nicklaus, missed three months with left knee and Achilles tendon injuries before returning last week at a World Golf Championhips event.

Woods said he was "absolutely encouraged" about his game even though he has not won any title since the Australian Masters in November 2009 and has not won a major since the 2008 US Open.

"It would surprise me if he went on and won the next couple of weeks," said World No. 1 Donald, the Englishman citing the difficulty in coming back from an injury at a high level.

McIlroy, the Northern Ireland prodigy who won his first major title at the US Open in June, was hailed as the next Woods but was unhappy with wind for the second British Open in a row and said he likely will play the US tour in 2012.

"I'm playing well," McIlroy said. "I'm really happy with the way I'm hitting it and driving it a lot better than I have done the last couple weeks, so yeah, I'm ready for it."

Considering the wet conditions in which McIlroy won the oft-punitive US Open, the PGA might produce the test Congressional Country Club did not.

"Very fast, slopey greens which is going to be quite challenging," Donald said. "If they get them any firmer and faster, it's going to play more like the US Open than the US Open was."

Sweltering heat will test fitness while the course takes its toll on golf skills.

"We have to conserve some energy this week and drink water because it is extreme heat out there," Scott said. "We're going to be out there for 5 1/2 hours and we're going to have to deal with it."

Americans will try to end a record six-Major win drought and prevent the first year since 1994 with no US Major winner. — AFP

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Scott unperturbed by caddie’s Tiger jibes

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 07:06 PM PDT

AUSTRALIAN Adam Scott (pic) said on Tuesday his caddie's jibes at Tiger Woods had been blown out of proportion and hoped his clubs would do the talking this week at the PGA Championship.

Scott won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday with Woods' former caddie, Steve Williams, recently fired by the former number one, enjoying vocal support from the crowd.

After the tournament, Williams was controversially interviewed by television before holding an impromptu news conference in which he rated his win with Scott higher than any of his victories, including 13 Majors, with Woods.

"I kind of think it's been blown out of proportion, unsurprisingly but I guess its newsworthy stuff. Steve was obviously delighted to win, as was I. He was speaking with a bit of emotion probably," Scott told reporters.

Some critics of Williams suggested he had stolen Scott's moment of glory at Firestone Country Club but the Australian appeared far from irked by that idea.

"I certainly don't think that was his intention to steal my moment at all," Scott said after playing nine holes in practice at Atlanta Athletic Club on Tuesday.

"He was asked these questions and he gave his honest answer I assume. And with a lot of things to do with anything related to Tiger Woods, it's all scrutinised and blown out of proportion a lot of the time.

"So this is no different. He was asked a question, and he gave an honest answer. So, I said, 'That's fair enough'. Hopefully we'll just go and let our clubs do the talking for the rest of the week now.

"Obviously he (Williams) had not won for a little while and he's really passionate about it, and that's what I see. When you're passionate and in that situation ... I think it all got a little out of hand."

Asked whether he had a quiet chat with the experienced caddie from New Zealand, Scott quipped: "Having a quiet word with Steve is not very easy. He's a big guy, you know." — Reuters

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Murray fails to get past second round

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 07:05 PM PDT

MONTREAL: Andy Murray's title defence at the Montreal Masters collapsed on Tuesday as the off-form Scot was crushed 6-3, 6-1 in his opening match by South African Kevin Anderson.

The two-time defending champion was bundled out in 69 minutes in his second-round start.

While Murray's Montreal campaign ended abruptly, top-seeded Novak Djokovic couldn't even get his going as rain rolled into the city in the early evening and eventually forced the postponement of Djokovic's scheduled second-round opener against Russian Nikolay Davydenko.

More poor weather was predicted for the area on Wednesday, when second seed Rafael Nadal and two-time Canadian winner Roger Federer are both due on court for their first matches in the US Open tune-up.

Djokovic won the Canadian trophy in 2007 and has never lost in Canada prior to the quarter-finals with a 12- record in the country.

Before the storms rolled in, Frenchman Richard Gasquet produced a repeat of his July Davis Cup victory over Florian Mayer as he defeated the German 6-3, 6-2.

A month ago, the 10th-seeded Gasquet won their Davis Cup encounter in Stuttgart after the 23rd-ranked Mayer served for the match at 5-4 in the fifth set.

German Philipp Petzschner defeated French ninth seed Gilles Simon 7-5, 6-2 while Michael Llodra of France notched an upset victory over Russian 11th seed Mikhail Youzhny 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

Murray, who had hoped to kick-start his summer after several weeks of gruelling preparation in Miami, remained baffled by his failure to fire when it mattered against Anderson.

"I just felt very slow, the game seemed to be going so fast," he said. "It's happened to me already once this year.

"I've trained really hard to get ready for the tournament. I've always played very well here.

"Today I couldn't get anything going. I started both sets really, really badly which doesn't help against someone that serves like Kevin.

"I was down a break early. I didn't get anything going at all.

"It's normal to be a little bit, sort of like nervous and not play your best when you haven't played for four or five weeks," he said.

"But I hoped to be playing better than that, especially with the amount I've been practicing.

Murray was joined at the exit by Gilles Simon, the ninth seeded Frenchman going down 7-5, 6-2 to Germany's Philipp Petzschner.

It was smooth passage, however, for Simon's French compatriot Richard Gasquet who blasted his way into the second round with a 6-3, 6-2 demolition of German Florian Mayer.

Michael Llodra upset 11th seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 to join his fellow Frenchman in the next round. — Agencies

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The Star Online: Nation

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All states to adopt e-Halal system by next year

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 06:43 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim) is targeting use of the e-Halal system by all states by next year, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim said Wednesday.

She said that only seven states would implement the system this year, led by Penang, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Sabah, followed by Pahang, Sarawak and Johor at year-end.

Mashitah told reporters here that the e-system would facilitate collaboration between Jakim and state religious departments and council to standardise procedures, certificates and logos.

She said that the e-Halal system that Jakim introduced in 2007 enabled applications to be made on line and for anyone to check on the halal status of products and premises. - Bernama

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Negri Sembilan to have sea-spanning cable car

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 05:16 AM PDT

SEREMBAN: A cable car spanning the sea is to be built in Negri Sembilan, linking Port Dickson to Pulau Arang about one kilometre away, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said Wednesday.

The cable car is a project of local company TSR Ocean Park Sdn Bhd, which is developing the almost completed PD Waterfront new township.

"The PD Waterfront and cable car project cost RM1.8bil. It will be built in two phases, with the cable car in the second phase. Phase one is almost complete," he told reporters after the weekly meeting of the state executive council.

Mohamad is confident the cable car will become a major tourist attraction because it will be the first over the sea in the country.

"Pulau Arang has a forest reserve with various species of trees and plants," he said.

PD Waterfront is a 20.2ha new township, where the state government is proposing a duty-free zone besides a jetty, hotel and shopping mall, he added.

Mohamad said he was confident the PD Waterfront project would be well received by investors considering that more than 1.5 million local and foreign tourists visited the Port Dickson beaches at the weekend.

Under the second and third phases, PD Waterfront will have three- and four-star hotels as well as a medical centre, a theme park and a convention centre, he said. - Bernama

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S'gor MB Khalid tells Jais to submit report on church raid by September

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 05:11 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has asked the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) to submit a report on its raid on a multi-racial dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church by September.

Abdul Khalid said Wednesday he understood Jais was having difficulty getting information from the 12 Muslims who attended the dinner.

"They are making 'legal excuses' through their lawyers not to speak to Jais," he told reporters after chairing a state executive council meeting here.

He said his office itself had received a letter from the law firm representing 10 of the 12 Muslim diners.

The state government was leaving it to Jais legal experts to give advise on the matter, he added.

Khalid said Jais should be given time to complete the report which would be presented to Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah so he could advise the state government on the next course of action.

He said the gag order on all exco members and government officers on discussing the issue openly remained.- Bernama

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Reality show star tests positive for drugs

Posted: 09 Aug 2011 11:16 PM PDT

BOLIVIA, North Carolina (AP): A lawyer for a teen who stars on MTV's reality show "Teen Mom 2" says she tested positive for marijuana and opiates.

Attorney Dustin Sullivan said Tuesday that Jenelle Evans was released from the Brunswick County jail on a $10,000 bond the night before. He said Evans was charged with a probation violation because of the positive drug tests.

The 19-year-old Evans was charged with assault in March after a fight recorded on video. A month later, she received 12 months of probation and community service for a drug paraphernalia charge.

Evans is from North Carolina. "Teen Mom" documents the challenges of four teens' first years of motherhood.

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The go-to guy

Posted: 09 Aug 2011 04:18 PM PDT

Veteran actor Andy Serkis is now best-known for his performance-capture characters.

WHEN the filmmakers behind Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes settled on virtual simians rather than people in monkey suits for their lower primates, their first casting task became obvious: get Andy.

British actor Andy Serkis has emerged as a master of the art of creating characters in the digital realm of performance capture. He's been the emotional backbone of the great ape in King Kong and Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, creatures that are completed by visual-effects artists layering computer animation over his raw performance.

Serkis, a 20-year veteran of stage and live-action screen roles, has become best-known for his performance-capture characters, which now include a super-intelligent chimpanzee in the Apes prequel, along with a key part in this December's The Adventures Of Tintin, from Steven Spielberg and Kong and Lord Of The Rings creator Peter Jackson.

He's playing Gollum again in Jackson's The Hobbit, a two-part prequel to The Lord Of The Rings.

When he first did Gollum, the technology was called motion capture. The performance-capture tag came as the tools evolved and filmmakers sought to emphasise that their actors truly were creating characters, not simply occupying space as place-holders for digital beings painted in later.

Serkis does not see himself when he watches his performance-capture characters that were completed by Jackson's WETA effects outfit. But he does see what he created on the set, wearing a skin-tight suit covered with reference dots for digital cameras to record his body language.

"I totally see the intentions, the facial expressions, the timing, the acting choices. You know, the performance," Serkis, 47, said in an interview at July's Comic-Con fan convention. "I know the manifestation of it is eventually not going to look like me, but when the director cuts the movie, they're cutting the footage of you in the suit, so they live for months and months and months with the performance.

"And a director like Rupert (Wyatt) – who wants to retain that performance, because that's why it's there in the cut – will make sure that it doesn't veer off through the animation and rendering process. It doesn't veer away from the intention created by the actor. And fortunately, WETA is a genius visual effects company, because for them, storytelling and character comes before showing off."

In the Apes prequel, Serkis plays Caesar, a chimp that inherited a deeper intellect from his mother, a test subject for a drug intended to cure Alzheimer's. Raised much like a human child by a researcher (James Franco), with help from a veterinarian (Freida Pinto), Caesar becomes a Che Guevara-style revolutionary, leading a rebellion of apes against their human oppressors.

Past Planet Of The Apes flicks used actors in chimp, gorilla or orangutan costumes. The filmmakers this time needed photo-realistic simians that could evolve into smarter-than-average apes.

Once the filmmakers decided to use performance capture, Serkis was the first person senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri suggested to Wyatt.

"You had this chimp that needed to grow up and have this relationship, this bond, with a human family," said Letteri, who also worked with Serkis on The Lord Of The Rings, King Kong and Tintin. "We needed someone who was going to be in there with James and Freida who's not afraid to interact with them and not afraid to have the personality play out as part of the performance.

"I can see a lot of Andy in it. It doesn't look at all like him, but there's an intensity, the way you can look into his eyes. You can just kind of see Andy's performance."

Wyatt wanted the best actor possible to play Caesar, and he was quickly convinced that Serkis was the primate he needed.

Letteri had told him that the visual effects artists were not alchemists who could salvage a performance that lacked real human spirit at the core of the character, Wyatt said.

"So he said, 'it's all about getting the best performance you can, and then after that, we take over and we echo that,'" Wyatt said. "If we hadn't gotten Andy, if we hadn't had the amazing privilege of working with him, then the movie would be a very different one. It wouldn't have such a great sense of humanity at its heart."

As a college freshman, Serkis studied visual arts but was required to take on a subsidiary subject. He chose theatre, where he initially designed posters, then tried acting.

Serkis' life changed after he landed a stage role as a rebellious teenager holding a teacher hostage.

"The whole course of the play took place while I was chain-smoking cigarettes over the petrol tank of a motorbike in a chemistry store, and it was just like, wow," Serkis said. "I kind of totally went into the deep end of that character, and after that, that was it. I literally put down my paints and wanted to become an actor."

Serkis has appeared in dozens of British theatre productions, while his film credits include Jennifer Garner's romance 13 Going On 30, Christopher Nolan's The Prestige and the upcoming crime tale Brighton Rock. For television, Serkis earned an Emmy nomination for the Charles Dickens miniseries Little Dorrit and a Golden Globe nomination for the prison drama Longford.

Though he already has shot his scenes as Gollum for The Hobbit, Serkis is not done with that world. Jackson hired him as second-unit director to oversee some action scenes and other sequences for the two-part epic.

That suits Serkis' career path, since he's been developing projects to direct himself and has started his own performance-capture studio to work on films and video games.

"I love working with the medium, and it is a medium that needs to be used appropriately. That's what worries me about motion-capture. It's not a genre. It's a tool," Serkis said. "The reason that some motion-capture films don't work is if the scripts are not good and the characters aren't engaging, then you don't believe in the journey, and you're not connected to it. It's not the technology's fault." – AP

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Temple devotees’ request for extension granted

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 05:43 AM PDT

THE Sri Maha Kaliamman temple in Jalan Cochrane, Kuala Lumpur, has been given a two-week extension to move out following requests from temple devotees.

Requests were made to Deputy Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk M. Saravanan during Kuala Lumpur City Hall's temple demolition exercise early yesterday.

About 30 policemen, DBKL officers and trucks were stationed about 100 metres away from the temple as early as 8.30am. Nearly 100 devotees turned up to show their support and negotiate terms with Saravanan.

According to Saravanan, a piece of land has been allocated for the temple in Jalan Nakhoda Yusuf 1. The temple has to make way for the LRT extension project.

The temple was built in 1966 and has served the residents living at the government quarters. The quarters has been slated to make way for a RM200mil mixed redevelopment project by the Armed Forces Fund Board. The project is expected to be completed in two-and-a-half years.

Residents have already been relocated to PPR Seri Alam and only the temple that was on government land has yet to be moved.

The temple received notices from the Federal Territories Land and Minerals Department on April 13 and July 29 to relocate.

Following several discussions with the authorities, DBKL has decided to allocate the land within the development in Jalan Nakhoda Yusuf 1.

"During a meeting held on Aug 4 recently, we informed the temple committee that in addition to the permanent land, they will also give RM200,000 to rebuild the temple," said Saravanan.

Apart from the allocation from the government, three families living within the temple grounds will be given low-cost flats at PPR Muhibbah, PPR Seri Sabah and PPR Seri Johor.

However, the devotees will use the extension to plan and hold further discussions on the fate of the temple.

Manivanan Gowindasamy, 35, said the temple was hesitant to move because of an old tree that had sentimental value to the devotees.

According to temple chairman Munusamy Arumugam, many devotees have had their prayers for children, marriage and business answered after praying to the tree.

"Moving the temple without the tree would be like moving the body without the soul. In 1967, the temple was then on a school reserve land. The school decided to let the temple committee build the temple after realising the history behind the tree," added Manivanan.

There is also a news article from a local English paper in 1967 that verified the story.

He also said the temple committee had decided to set up a task force and a legal team as they believed they had the grounds for a legal case.

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City Watch

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 05:43 AM PDT


Satu Hati Toastmasters Club welcomes people aged 18 and above who wish to enhance their public-speaking and leadership skills, and learn to become better communicators and leaders. Do join us on every 2nd & 4th Thursday of the month at 7pm at Level 3, Manara PGRM, Jalan Pudu Ulu, Cheras. To confirm your attendance or for details, call 016-2921 923 (Lenny), 013-304 6481 (Mandy) or email to mandysyong@yahoo.com


The Malaysia Australia Business Council (MABC) in collaboration with the EU Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EUMCCI) will be hosting a talk on Blue Ocean Strategy by UCSI- Blue Ocean Strategy Regional Centre on Aug 25 at Mezzanine 7, Crown Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur at 5.30pm. To register visit MABC website at www.mabc.org.my or call the secretariat office at 603- 7960 9490.


Cocoaland's warehouse sale for Raya goodies (cookies, chocolates, gummies, gift boxes and hampers) will be held from Aug 11 to 14 and from Aug 19 to 21, from 9am to 7pm at Cocoaland Tmn Ehsan Kepong and Rawang Integrated Industrial Park. Cash vouchers are up for grabs with purchase above RM50. For details, call 03-6091 3131 / 03-6276 6862 for more details.

The Persatuan Perkembangan Ajaran Dewi Kuan Yin Malaysia will be organising a nationwide blood donation campaign on Aug 14 from 9am to 4pm at their centre No 5 Lorong Titiwangsa 6, Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur. For details, call 012-327 5682 (Pearly Yap) or 03-4023 9946.


GGP Outreach, a community agency that reaches out to comfort and guide grieving persons after the loss of a loved one, will be holding a Community Lecture on Aug 20 at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Club from 2pm to 5pm. Admission is free but registration is necessary. For details, call 012-387 8668.


Evangelical Lutheran Church Malaysia (ELCM) in collaboration with the Malaysian Red Crescent Society and the National Blood Bank will be having a Blood Donation drive on Aug 13 from 10am to 2pm. ELCM headquarters is located at 21, Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. For details, call 03-2274 1033/2274 0204 or email to elcm@streamyx.com


Tai Chi Huang, OUG, KL, is conducting Tai Chi lessons every Monday and Thursday from 8pm to 9pm. For details, call 016-2898 793 (Yeo) or 014-621 4621 (Tey).


Cansurvive Malaysia will be holding a talk, Emotional Freedom Technique- A Universal Healing Aid by Dr Anne- Munro Kua on Aug 13. The talk will be held at Uptrend Network, Jaya One, Petaling Jaya.


For the first time since 1978, the old girls of SMK Tunku Puan Habsah, Penang, are organising a reunion in Penang on Sept 17. For details, call 017-8850 617 (Pollyanna).

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Making enzymes

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 03:31 AM PDT

When it comes to human health, there is much conjecture and misinterpretation over the role of enzymes.

RECENTLY, a couple of mutual friends threw a party to show off the fruit "enzymes" they had made out of an assortment of berries, grapes and dragon fruit.

I must admit the grape "enzyme" was the best, especially when taken chilled. A curious reaction took place that caused a little dis-inhibition and flushing. I departed the gathering heaping compliments on the host for serving the next best thing to ice wine.

He still insisted it was "enzymes" he created.

Some prefer to make "garbage enzymes" from kitchen discards, using the brew for scrubbing floors, washing dishes and insect repellant.

Enzymes have many industrial applications, such as in food processing, manufacture of detergents, stain removers, the pharmaceutical industry, bio-fuel conversion – the list goes on.

When it comes to human health, there is much conjecture and misinterpretation over the role of enzymes. Touted to be the "life force" of living things, it has been claimed that low levels of enzymes are the root cause of chronic degenerative diseases and ill health, spawning various philosophies like consumption of raw foods, concoction of home cocktails and feeding the ever-expanding supplementation industry.

What are enzymes, really? They are specialised proteins manufactured by various parts of different cells, each with a highly specific function. The process of production and replenishment is based on instructions from the genetic blueprint coded in DNA.

We therefore make our own enzymes all the time using the right ingredients and raw materials, somewhat different from kitchen chemistry.

Sailing across the sea of confusion, enzymes would be better understood if we load them into different boats: digestive enzymes; metabolic enzymes; plant enzymes; systemic enzymes; and enzyme supplements.

Digestive enzymes

Digestion literally starts in the brain! Thankfully, no digestive enzymes are secreted here, but thought, sight and smell can trigger a flow of saliva, preparing the oral cavity for the reception of food.

Subsequent grinding, chomping and blending of morsels with salivary enzymes (amylase) begin their deconstruction into smaller and partially digested particles.

The ball of food is swallowed and moved along the gullet by muscular contractions. Upon entry into the cavernous stomach cavity, a flurry of activities occur. Hormones are secreted and acid is produced, activating a powerful enzyme (pepsin) which breaks down proteins.

The stomach churns, allowing the acid, enzymes and food to mix well. After about an hour, the stomach starts to empty its contents into the small intestines, where the hive of activities further intensify.

Bile from the gallbladder and the enzyme-rich alkaline pancreatic juice flood the intestines. Amylase breaks down carbohydrates from complex long chain sugars (polysaccharides) to double sugars (disaccharides); protease dices the proteins into amino acids and lipase trims fats into fatty acids.

The cells lining the intestinal wall produce and release highly specialised enzymes like sucrase, seeking out sucrose and breaking it into glucose and fructose, which can then be absorbed.

Other enzymes (disaccharidases) include maltase (glucose-glucose) and lactase (glucose-galactose).

In the Asian population, there is a high incidence of lactose intolerance due to lactase deficiency, whereby milk sugar is not broken down and the affected individual experiences bloating, cramps, flatulence and diarrhoea after consuming dairy products.

Metabolic enzymes

Metabolism is the intriguing set of chemical processes that maintains life. Anyone who tries to gain mastery of all the possible reactions that occur within the human cell risks a challenge to their sanity as there are thousands of reactions, many tightly interwoven to meet a single objective of producing energy.

Each reaction is like a dance to music, needing two to tango. When glucose and oxygen comes together, nothing happens, but within the mitochondria in the cells, sparks literally fly, as the glucose is burned for energy with the help of firestarters like vitamins and minerals (co-factors), and enzymes, which fan the speed of burning.

Without such rate-limiting control, one would rage with fever after downing a bun!

By definition, a metabolic enzyme is a catalyst protein that controls a particular biochemical reaction. In instances of high turnover, the enzyme causing excessive build-up of uric acid from proteins results in gout.

Similarly, the increased tendency to turn bad fats into cholesterol induces inflammation of the arteries.

On the other hand, when certain enzymes are lacking, there will be a backlog of unwanted metabolites, eg lack of enzymes converting bilirubin to bile salts result in jaundice.

One of the commonest enzyme disorders is G6PD deficiency, where abnormal red blood cells self-destruct.

Disaster strikes when there is a genetically pre-determined errant enzyme not performing its duty, broiling deep trouble for many born with such "Inborn Errors Of Metabolism", with catastrophic consequences.

Plant enzymes

Plants, an inherent component of our ecosystem, are also well endowed with their own set of enzymes.

The human machine emits carbon dioxide, and plants soak it up for a specific chemical process known as photosynthesis, where light energy combines with carbon dioxide to release oxygen into the atmosphere, simultaneously creating the backbone of carbon atoms to form carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Man and animals feed on plants and each other, propagating the food chain.

As "green" as we try to be, humans have no capacity to photosynthesise.

Plant enzymes differ from human metabolic enzymes, but nevertheless do have some benefits on human digestion.

Plants and their fruits contain various enzymes in different forms and ratios.

A banana is a starchy fruit and contains mainly amylase, an enzyme that helps to break down starch into smaller units of sugars. A mango gets sweeter, juicier and more aromatic, compliments of its own enzymes. Avocado has high fat content and necessarily, has greater amounts of lipase.

These plant enzymes are mysteriously placed in specific fruits for their own ripening and subsequent breakdown.

If we chose to enclose ripe fruits in a jar over a period of time, the sugars become "ethanolised" through fermentation into one of the most enjoyed beverages since ancient times, namely alcohol.

As enzymes are destroyed through cooking at high heat, there is much written and talked about consuming food in the raw form.

Systemic enzymes

Generally, orally taken enzymes (particularly from animal sources) do not tolerate the acidic environment in the stomach, and since they are proteins, many are themselves broken down by our own digestive enzymes.

There are a few exceptions and these have found their way into the doctor's dispensary as part of therapy for specific disease states.

Papain, an enzyme extract derived from papaya, has specific protein busting (proteolytic) action. A squeeze of raw papaya into the toughest of meats acts as a tenderiser.

In medical application, papain has been used to treat tissue swelling from trauma, surgery, inflammation, wound healing and excessive mucous production.

Bromelain, derived from pineapples, is used as a commercial tenderiser and is also touted to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Serratiopeptidase, sourced from bacteria and the gut of silkworms, possesses mucous reduction effects and is used in respiratory tract inflammation. It is also found to reduce pain in fibrocystic breast congestion.

Claims of benefits of systemic enzymes in heart disease and cancer are currently inconclusive.

Enzyme supplements

There is certainly no doubt that enzymes are pivotal to biochemical reactions that sustain life. With ageing, poor nutrition, environmental stresses and disease states, both metabolic and digestive enzymes do get depleted.

The confusion here is that many proponents of enzyme therapy oversimplify matters, claiming that taking a particular enzyme drink or tablet would rejuvenate the enzyme's levels in the body.

Metabolic enzymes cannot be replaced by supplementation, full stop!

Good nutrition and healthy cells with proper genetic instructions ensure a constant supply of enzymes, as our body manufactures these enzymes from the necessary amino acids.

Many people after their 40s complain that they are unable to tolerate their favourite food as well as compared to their youth. With age, digestive enzymes secretion slackens, and foods that are not digested properly and absorbed remain as a substrate for bacterial fermentation.

"Indigestion" leads to bloating, burping, heartburn, abdominal cramp, constipation and flatulence, which is almost always offensive.

Since the body's digestive system is unable to cope, taking the right digestive enzyme supplement certainly provides not only relief, but restores physiological gut functions.

Most enzyme supplements contain amylase (for digestion of starch), protease (proteins), lipase (fats), lactase (dairy) and cellulase (plant fibre).

Some manufacturers add in proteolytic enzymes like papain and bromelain, which apart from aiding digestion of proteins, also seeks out inflammation.

It is amazing how the myriad of biochemical reactions in our bodies consolidate together; that the bits and pieces fall into place so perfectly on the jigsaw puzzle of life itself.

In good health, we should be thankful that all our enzymes are alive and kicking in unison.

If for some bizarre reason there is a missing link, the shattering impact of this biological earthquake is beyond comprehension.

May you have a good day making those wonderful enzymes ... err, not ethanol!

Dr C.S. Foo is a medical practitioner. For further information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my. The views expressed are those of the writer and readers are advised to always consult expert advice before undertaking any changes to their lifestyles. 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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Leading the way

Posted: 09 Aug 2011 04:23 PM PDT

These three individuals are a source of hope and strength to haemophiliacs.

THE people who best understand what a haemophiliac goes through and how he feels would be fellow sufferers.

Lin Hsu-Ke, chairman of the Taiwan Haemo­philia Society, was 12 years old when he was diagnosed with the condition. At the time, he did not know anything about haemophilia except its name. He soon discovered its impact, however, when his parents curtailed his activities in order to prevent him from getting injured.

"They stopped me from doing whatever was fun!" he says in a recent interview at the 3rd Asia Pacific Haemophilia Camp in Taiwan. "I knew then that I could not afford to get hurt."

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Living with haemophilia

Posted: 09 Aug 2011 04:22 PM PDT

A lively, creative bunch of kids at a haemophilia camp proved that the disease is no barrier to leading a full, healthy life.

THE children and teenagers at the camp looked and behaved like any other boys. On the surface, no one would have been able to tell them apart from other children and teenagers.

Yet, these ones have inherited a blood disorder called haemophilia; the blood lacks a protein – Factor Eight (VIII) or Factor Nine (IX) – and therefore cannot clot properly, leading to spontaneous or prolonged bleeding, especially in the muscles, joints and internal organs. When this happens, ugly bruises develop.

This condition, which is also marked by painful and inflamed joints, affects primarily males while the carriers are females.

Co-hosted by the Taiwan Haemophilia Society and Bayer HealthCare, the 3rd Asia Pacific Haemophilia Camp was held in Uni-Resort of Mawudu in Hsinchu county, Taiwan, recently. It brought together those affected by the condition, to learn and share about haemophilia, and build friendships with fellow patients. The camp also aimed to motivate, encourage and empower patients and their caregivers. Over 100 participants from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan and China attended the camp.

Facing the diagnosis

How can one tell if a bruise is just a normal bruise or whether it is due to haemophilia?

"There are two ways to be diagnosed. If you are born into a family that knows they have haemophilia, your parents are at least a bit prepared for it," says Brian "BJ" Ramsay, a haematology specialist nurse from New Zealand, in an interview at the camp. "If a family has a history of haemophilia, the baby is diagnosed at birth.

"In the first year of life, babies don't do an awful lot: they lie still, they're picked up, fed and put down. So the actual bleeding risk is quite low," adds Ramsay.

Parents who know the diagnosis from the time of the baby's birth have about a year – before the baby starts crawling and walking – to get used to the diagnosis.

"But for those who don't get the diagnosis at birth, and haemophilia is new to them, it is a lot more difficult. When it gets picked up as the baby starts moving around and bruising, it is then that the problem begins," says Ramsay.

"Treatment of small children can be difficult. You need specialist doctors and nurses to get venous access. Babies' veins are very small; sometimes it can take two, three, even four attempts to get a needle in. Treatments can be as traumatic as the bleeding.

"These parents hit the road running. There's an awful lot to take on at once," he explains.

Without treatment, the disease can result in debilitating pain, damaged joints, disability and even early death.

Wong Mun Kee knows all too well the grief and heartache of losing a child to haemophilia. Her elder son was only five years old when he suffered a fall, which led to bleeding and subsequently, death. If he had survived, he would be 21 years old today.

Wong has other children – two daughters and another son, Lam Weng Hong, 13. Understandably, Wong is very protective of her son, a haemophilia patient. He was diagnosed when he was a baby, after he developed unsightly bruises when learning to crawl and using the bouncinet.

She does not allow him to be "too active" but, rather, encourages him to pursue other interests, such as drawing and reading.

"He can draw very well. He draws buildings with intricate details," she proudly says at an interview during the camp. "I still keep the drawings which he's done since he was a little boy, when he drew a 'map of the world'."

"I want to be an architect when I grow up," says Weng Hong, who has learnt to live with his condition. He experiences discomfort, joint pain and swelling, especially in the ankle. "I feel irritable when this happens," he says. However, he is not about to let life pass him by.

"My hobbies are playing games and the piano. My favourite game is 'Angry Birds'," says the lanky boy. He is now at Grade Five for piano. At school, he excels in his favourite subjects, Maths and Science.

Weng Hong – who had submitted a poem – and the other camp participants were among the winners of the Live Your Best Life – Haemophilia Or Not! contest launched on World Haemophilia Day, April 17, in the Asia Pacific region. The children demonstrated creativity and originality in their entries, which comprised comic strips, paintings, drawings, poems and music lyrics. The entries also conveyed the hopeful message that one can lead full, healthy lives despite having haemophilia.

"Even if they're haemophilic, it doesn't mean that they can't be somebody. Nor does it mean that they're inferior to their friends. They just have to do what they do best, for example, singing, swimming or drawing," says Dr Novie Amelia Chozie in a separate interview. She is a paediatrician with Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital in Indonesia.

"They are perfectly normal children. Only one gene isn't working properly," says Ramsay.

Although there is no cure for haemophilia, patients can learn to manage the disorder. Proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial so that they can maintain a high quality of life. Haemophiliacs can enjoy most of the activities that other people do.

For the Show And Tell segment on the first night of the camp, some of the participants shone. For instance, Nabil Firdaus Mohd Nazri, 11, had brought his palm-sized skateboard, with which he performed some "stunts". This bright-eyed, active Malaysian boy loves skateboarding, he shared, but since he cannot pursue the sport – which is deemed extra dangerous for haemophiliacs due to its high risk of injury – Nabil has cleverly devised a way of pursuing it, nevertheless.

The audience and the emcee, Andy Lee, were baffled. How does one do skate-boarding on the little skateboard?

Nabil promptly showed the audience how. He "skateboarded" on it with his fingers! He demonstrated such nimbleness with it, including manoeuvres like flipping, tossing and catching the skateboard with his fingers, which led to Lee dubbing the item a "fingerboard".

Another patient, 10-year-old Nelson Jian, wowed the audience with his rendition of Justin Bieber's song, Never Say Never, and Jay Chou's Kua Shi Dai (The Era). The chubby, bespectacled lad from China clearly had natural talent and was quietly confident as well.

While aggressive, body-contact sports such as football and rugby should be avoided by haemophiliacs, other sports – like swimming and cycling – are fine. During the camp, the boys had a lot of fun in the swimming pool, doing hydrotherapy exercises under the watchful eye of fellow haemophiliac Hsiao Wei-Chih, as well as Luo Min-Long and Tu Jhih-Wei.

Through a series of talks and practical workshops, healthcare professionals equipped patients and caregivers with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage haemophilia, while representatives from various haemophilia societies shared about the progress they had made in raising awareness and the standard of haemophilia care in Asia.

The camp also aimed at motivating participants to live life to the fullest. Through the "Asia United Challenge" indoor group games, they had the chance to meet and befriend many other people like themselves, all living with the disorder and making the most of life despite the condition. The campsite was transformed into a hive of activity as participants tackled challenges at each of the six games stations: Lego-building, a musical performance, piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, decorating a giant postcard, designing an outfit and a trivia quiz plus landmark mix-and-match. The kids learned to work as a team in order to complete the tasks.

There were more opportunities to kindle new friendships at the campfire dinner on the second night of the camp.

The young patients had a hands-on experience making models from recyclable materials during a model-building session organised by the Taiwan Science Centre.

Meanwhile, parents and caregivers shared their views and experiences in dialogue forums, thereby drawing strength from, and empowering, one another. They also had sessions with specialist nurse Ramsay, and Dr Young Ji-Hsiung, chief of the oncology-hematology division at Taiwan's Lin-Shin Hospital, on haemophilia care.

To deal with any emergencies that might arise, a First Aid area was designated on the camp grounds. Patients could go there for health checks or carry out self-infusion. A nurse was always on hand to assist patients.

Ramsay took a workshop to demonstrate how patients can administer injections to themselves. Practice kits were distributed to all the patients, and Ramsay explained the usage of every item in it, then gave clear step-by-step instructions on how to carry out self-infusion.

More insightful talks were given on the last day of the camp. Dr Kang Jiunn-Horng from Taipei Medical University Hospital spoke on Joint Effort: How To Care For Your Joints while Su Hsiu-Yueh, from the same hospital, gave a talk on Eating Right.

At the end of the camp, patients and caregivers were enlightened on how to manage haemophilia better while members of haemophilia associations gleaned much from the experience of the Taiwan Haemophilia Society in garnering government support for the haemophilia community.

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