Sabtu, 13 Ogos 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

ANALYSIS - Palin boosts US political influence, buffers brand

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 08:40 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sarah Palin may not be officially seeking the Republican nomination for president, but she is making sure she stays within the party's public eye.

Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin greets people during a visit to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 12, 2011. (REUTERS/Jim Young/Files)

Whether visiting the Iowa State Fair the day before the closely watched Iowa "straw poll" or roaring into Washington at a motorcycle rally to honour veterans, Palin has orchestrated her appearances in the focus of the Republican faithful.

Her political fund-raising has lagged, but polls show the former vice presidential nominee has retained a strong core of support as she flirts with entering the presidential race -- and makes millions from books and television.

"She desperately wants to remain a national figure, who can engage on issues, who can have a real impact," said Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak, adding that Palin sees her role partly as someone who keeps party rivals honest.

Although she has not thrown her hat into the ring, Palin is third in the Republican nomination fight, according to polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, behind front-runner Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry, and narrowly ahead of U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann.

If she did enter, Palin would be the best-known Republican in the field, and one spared months of intra-party fighting, media scrutiny and expensive campaigning.

"Like every other Republican who potentially will run, she's keeping her name out there, keeping her brand name but generally staying out of the debate, to avoid making any mistakes," said Princeton University professor Julian Zelizer.

"At a minimum, she keeps the Palin brand name going for other reasons," he said.

The former Republican vice presidential nominee made a surprise stop at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Friday -- scheduled neatly between a debate between declared Republican contenders and Saturday's Ames straw poll, an unofficial test of campaign strength.

"She's still contemplating whether or not she's going to run," said Ford O'Connell, who was an advisor on the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008. "Her appearance in Iowa, which is the center of the political universe, shows that she is politically relevant."

It was Palin's second high-profile trip of the summer to Iowa, which will hold the first contest of the Republican race for the nomination to oppose Democratic President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election bid. She is also due to speak to a Tea Party movement rally in Iowa early next month.


"I think there is plenty of time to jump in the race," Palin said at the fair on Friday. "Watching the whole process over the last year certainly shows me that, yes, there is plenty of room for more people."

September would probably be her decision deadline. "I don't want to be perceived as stringing people along," she said.

Since John McCain made her his surprise vice presidential selection in 2008, Palin has made millions. She has become a contributor on Fox News Channel, written best-selling books and starred in a reality television show.

Palin also enhanced her political influence during the 2010 midterm election season by campaigning for candidates in congressional and state elections backed by the Tea Party grass-roots conservative movement.

Fuelling speculation about her plans, the former Alaska governor reportedly bought a house in Arizona where she could base a campaign and has travelled overseas to boost her foreign policy credentials. On Memorial Day, she roared into Washington on a motorcycle and then embarked on her "One Nation" bus tour to historic sites along the East Coast.

However, Palin has slipped in one area essential to any political candidate -- the money race.

Palin's primary fund-raising committee, SarahPAC, raised a paltry $1.6 million in the first half of 2011, far below the amount needed to fund a campaign staff and travel the country.

Romney, the Republican money leader, raised more than $18 million in the second quarter alone.

Palin's appeal has also been usurped by Bachmann, a Tea Party movement leader who appeals to many of the same anti-Washington voters. Perry is also popular with Tea Party movement backers.

Palin's Iowa visit was not the first time this summer that her travels have stolen the limelight from declared Republican candidates. In June, Palin's went to New Hampshire on the day Romney launched his presidential campaign.

And she was in Iowa for the premiere of her documentary "The Undefeated" as Obama visited the state on June 28, the day after Bachmann announced there that she would run.

"She enjoys, in a way, big-timing the announced candidates. She enjoys going into markets where people are doing things and making them see that she's a bigger political figure," Mackowiak said.

(Additional reporting by John Whitesides in Des Moines; Editing by Kristin Roberts and Vicki Allen)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Bachmann wins Iowa Republican poll, Perry jumps in

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 08:40 PM PDT

AMES, Iowa (Reuters) - Michele Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll on Saturday in the first big test of the 2012 Republican presidential campaign, as Texas Governor Rick Perry launched a White House bid that could reshape the race.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann greets supporters after her victory in the Iowa straw poll in Ames, Iowa August 13, 2011. (REUTERS/Daniel Acker)

Bachmann, a U.S. representative from Minnesota, narrowly edged out Ron Paul and rolled over the rest of the field to capture the nonbinding mock election, an early gauge of strength in the state that holds the first 2012 Republican nominating contest.

Tim Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, finished a distant third, dealing a setback to his struggling campaign.

"This is the very first step toward taking the White House in 2012," Bachmann told a small crowd of supporters outside her campaign bus on the straw poll grounds. "Now it's on to all 50 states."

In South Carolina, Perry formally jumped into the race with a blistering attack on President Barack Obama.

"We cannot afford four more years of this rudderless leadership," Perry told a conference of conservatives, promising to reduce taxes, regulations and government intrusion in people's lives.

The straw poll and Perry's campaign launch, coming less than six months before Iowa's nominating contest, promised to reshuffle the Republican field fighting for the nomination to challenge Obama, a Democrat, in 2012.

Perry, a staunch social conservative with a strong job creation record in Texas, is expected to immediately vault into the top tier of contenders along with front-runner Mitt Romney. Perry visits Iowa on Sunday.

In the straw poll, Bachmann won with 29 percent of the vote. Paul, a U.S. representative from Texas, was a close second with 28 percent and Pawlenty had 14 percent.

Bachmann's win adds to her recent momentum and cements her standing in the top tier of contenders. She had shot to the top of opinion polls in Iowa this summer with the support of social conservatives and the fiscal conservative Tea Party movement.


Pawlenty's showing raised questions about his ability to continue in the race after spending $1 million in Iowa. He has been mired in the low single digits in polls in the state and nationally.

"We made progress in moving from the back of the pack into a competitive position for the caucuses, but we have a lot more work to do," Pawlenty said in a statement. "We are just beginning and I'm looking forward to a great campaign."

Perry finished sixth with 3.6 percent of the vote even though he was not on the ballot. That was more than Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who was on the ballot but did not participate in the poll. He finished seventh.

Six Republicans had paid to erect tents and speak at the event, pleading for support from voters who rolled into the site in dozens of buses and jammed candidate tents for music and free barbecue.

Lines were long at the tents hosted by Bachmann and Pawlenty, who competed for the votes of the social conservatives who dominate the Iowa nominating contest. The supporters of Paul, a libertarian with a loyal following, swarmed the grounds and jammed the arena when he spoke.

The 16,892 votes was the second biggest straw poll turnout behind the nearly 24,000 cast in 1999, when then-Governor George W. Bush of Texas won on his way to the White House.

Clara Bulens of Grinnell, Iowa, said she travelled to the poll to vote for Bachmann because "she's beautiful, brilliant, very personable and I love her platform".

The poll, a fund-raiser for the state party, created a carnival atmosphere around Iowa State University's basketball arena in Ames. Any Iowa resident over 18 could show up and participate, with many allowing a candidate to buy their $30 ticket.

The poll has a record of winnowing the poor performers from the field, but a straw poll victory is not always a harbinger of later success. Romney won in 2007 but lost the Iowa caucuses to Mike Huckabee, who was a surprise second-place winner in the straw poll.

Bush's father lost in 1987 before winning the presidency and Bob Dole tied in 1995 before capturing the Republican nomination the next year.

Finishing fourth on Saturday was former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, with businessman Herman Cain in fifth ahead of Perry.

(Editing by Will Dunham, Vicki Allen and Paul Simao)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Palin stokes 2012 speculation with Iowa appearance

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 01:01 PM PDT

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Republican Sarah Palin rolled into Iowa's state fair on Friday, stealing the spotlight from the party's presidential contenders and sparking a new round of speculation about her plans for 2012.

Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin and her husband Todd visit the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 12, 2011. (REUTERS/Jim Young)

Palin's visit to the cattle barn at the fair attracted a wild crush of photographers, reporters, fans and onlookers who swarmed the former Alaska governor, alarming the cows and bringing activity in the barn to a halt.

The timing of the visit, a day before a straw poll that is a big early test of campaign strength for the 2012 Republican presidential contenders, renewed questions about whether she will jump in the race.

Palin, who stopped to talk to reporters and fans outside the barn, said she was still uncertain of her decision but there was time and room for more candidates to run.

"I think there is plenty of time to jump in the race," she said. "Watching the whole process over the last year certainly shows me that, yes, there is plenty of room for more people."

She said that "practically speaking" September would probably be a deadline for her decision. "I don't want to be perceived as stringing people along," she said.

Palin joined a half-dozen declared Republican presidential candidates who visited the fair on Friday to speak at a local newspaper's stage, make a traditional visit to a life-size sculpted butter cow and eat fried Oreo cookies or meats on a stick.

The fair visit is a traditional rite of passage for presidential contenders, and Palin's timing on Friday stole the spotlight from potential rivals, including former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann.

Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee, denied that was her intention. "I don't think I'm stealing any spotlights," she said. "We're very thankful to have been invited by friends and I'm glad we could make it."

Talk about Palin's entry in the race had slowed after she ended a bus tour of several states in early June. As the 2012 race heated up, speculation focused on other new entries, like Texas Governor Rick Perry who is expected to declare his candidacy on Saturday.

Dressed in black jeans and a white t-shirt with a cartoon stick figure woman and hearts on the front, Palin posed for photos with fans, signed autographs and petted a calf that was led to her through the media mob.

She dismissed suggestions that if she gets into the race she is on a collision course with Bachmann, another outspoken and flashy conservative woman who is popular with members of the Tea Party movement and attracts heavy media attention.

"That's so passe to say that just because there may happen to be two women in the race that they would, you know, get in the mud and engage in some catfighting," said Palin, who was accompanied by her husband Todd.

"That's ridiculous, it's even a sexist notion that two women would duke it out. If I'm going to duke it out I'm going to duke it out with guys," she said.

She said Thursday night's debate involving declared Republican candidates in Iowa was "great" and she welcomed the entry of Perry into the race but said it would have no bearing on her final decision.

"It adds to the debate, it adds another voice for Americans to consider," she said.

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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Catcha Media says it has not reduced the company’s revenue targets

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 03:52 AM PDT

[unable to retrieve full-text content]PETALING JAYA: Catcha Media Bhd has clarified that it had not reduced the company's overall revenue targets with regards to an announcement it made to Bursa Malaysia on Thursday.

AQRS banks on synergy

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 03:02 AM PDT

It aims to be an integrated engineering, construction and property development company.

MAIN Market-bound Gabungan AQRS, an enlarged group of four companies, will pool its expertise in the areas of construction and property development to become an integrated engineering and construction service provider as well as niche lifestyle property developer.

"Synergy" is a word the founders of Gabungan AQRS quite like to use. "The synergy of our two businesses (construction and property development) allows us to have a dual-income stream. For example, if our construction businesses are going through a dry period, the property division can step in to provide jobs for it," Gabungan AQRS CEO Alvin Ng says.

Other synergistic benefits of the merger, he adds, include operational and cost efficiency, leveraging on each companies' network and human resources, and the ability to tender for bigger projects. "The merger is a launch pad for us to get to a higher playing field," he says.

Gabungan AQRS consists of wholly-owned subsidiaries Gabungan Strategik Sdn Bhd, Megah Ikhlas Sdn Bhd and Motibina Sdn Bhd, which make up the construction portion of the business, and AQRS The Building Company Sdn Bhd which handles the property development side. The company will launch its prospectus on Aug 23 and list on Bursa Malaysia in September.

It will make a public issue of 62 million new shares with par value of 25 sen each and an offer for sale of 30 million new shares with par value of 25 sen each. As part of the listing exercise, Gabungan AQRS will acquire the entire issued and paid up capital of the four subsidiaries for RM73.38mil, which will be satisfied through a share swap.

The group's consolidated revenue for the year ended December 31, 2010 was RM300mil. Group profits amounted to RM49mil, a margin of 16.3%.

When quizzed about the timing of the listing, the founders were not unduly worried about the capital market's presently volatile conditions.

"In our view, there was no new event that triggered these sudden losses. The financial problems in the United States and eurozone have been known for a while now.

"The listing is only a starting point, and we're in this for the long haul. We just have to conduct our business professionally, and the rest will follow," Gabungan AQRS founder Paul Ow explains.

Gabungan AQRS is a merger of the companies (except for Megah Ikhlas) started by three friends - Alvin together with Ow and Ng Kit Heng. Their's is a friendship that goes back 27 years to when their careers in construction first began in then fledgling Sunway Construction.

The trio have seen each other though thick and thin during their Sunway years. There was a time during the Asian financial crisis when they worked from a cramped old bungalow belonging to Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah's (Sunway Group founder and chairman) brother.

The three later struck out on their own by starting different companies before deciding to merge in 2010.

"We're essentially contractors," Alvin says, emphasising that construction forms the bulk of their business while property development is the complementary activity.

In the past, the construction companies under Gabungan AQRS have worked on a hodgepodge of projects for both the public and private sectors such as schools, houses, the NKVE interchange and toll plaza and even a stretch of the Kemuning-Shah Alam Highway.

The company has previously handled RM700mil worth of construction work and currently has about RM900mil construction contracts in hand.

The RM900mil includes three parcels of project enhancement of the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong highway and its flagship commercial development The Altium.

On the property side, Gabungan AQRS has a residential development in Kota Damansara called The Residency and its to-be-completed Countours in Melawati and Gombak Grove, the latter of which is sold out. The 60%-70% sold Countours is the company's first foray into high-end housing, each unit coming with its own lift and pool.

Next month, the company will launch its RM280mil gross development value The Altium. Located next to PJ Trade Centre in Kota Damansara, it sits on 2.66 acres and comprises 22-storeys of Grade A offices, 11-storeys of Soho (small office/home office) suites, and a retail and F&B podium.

To avoid overexposure in the market, Gabungan AQRS splits itself 50:50 between commercial and residential projects. In the near term, Ow says they will focus on affordable residences targeting the mass market.

"I'd say there is a bubble in the local property market, but the authorities have moved to curb speculative elements, for example with the 70:30 loan-to-deposit rule for people buying their third property," Ow notes. "Bear in mind that our properties have the lowest price per square feet in the region, lower than Singapore and also some parts of Jakarta."

"Liquidity is high and people still see property as a good hedge against inflation," Ow adds.

He foresees a construction boom in the next five years and says Malaysia has a good 30 to 40 years more of construction potential, unlike in some mature markets.

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Rashdan: MAS off to a good start

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 02:23 AM PDT

The same team that crafted and undertook the widespread asset unbundling (WAU) exercise a decade ago to bail out the then debt-ridden Malaysia Airlines (MAS) on the brink of bankruptcy is back on board. And on Tuesday, MAS tied up with its once arch rival AirAsia founders Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun. This marks yet another fresh start for MAS which has seen more than its fair share of restructuring, turnaround and transformation plans in the past decade.

The idea for the collaboration is to get MAS to do what it's best at being a focused full premium service carrier. The newly-set up executive committee led by new MAS chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof met for the first time on Thursday. It plans to scrutinise every single document, contract, strategy, profit and cost centre to weed out the weak areas and bolster the airline's financial status.

StarBizWeek's B.K. SIDHU met up with MAS' newly-appointed executive director Mohammed Rashdan Yusof (pic), who says the team is off to a good start. Below are excerpts of the interview:

SBW: What is the biggest problem facing MAS?

Rashdan: If you look at its operating statistics, the airline's cost is one of the best versus other full service carriers. Its cost per ASK is competitive but the RASK (revenue per available seat km) is suffering. It (lacks) the ability to charge on a global basis, and this in turn is connected to our products. What we need is quality. We need a product which is highly competitive, the likes of the Middle Eastern airlines, and not Singapore Airlines alone. They are formidable competitors and we need to be at least at par or better.

Our strength clearly lies in our service the golden girls, the golden touch, the Malaysian touch, Malaysian hospitality. Hopefully people will pay what it's worth and we can raise yields and RASK. We want to bring back the golden days that is how we made money and that is how we want to continue to make money. It is a simple strategy. We need to get back to that.

Do you agree that share swap does not address the fundamental need to manage revenue?

RASK is about revenue quality. In the past, the airline did a lot of global sales. We had revenue but now we want high quality revenue such as high yields and high RASK. People will only pay high yields and RASK if the product and service is good. So we will continue to maintain our competitive edge in services, both cabin and ground crew and also our inflight products. The good thing now is that we will no longer be distracted or detracted.

The A380 aircraft is coming in May. That will be a class of its own. Tony and Kamarudin have a fantastic relationship with Airbus and we can do a lot of things with them on our side. They are a clear asset ... the way they negotiate for engines, spare parts and even planes and their cost savings culture. We could use all of that expertise at MAS.

Do you have the buy-in from the employees?

We met the union leaders and to my sweet surprise they are fully behind us. They understand that if we succeed, so will they. The rest is about execution and the new team will not let them down.

Where will immediate savings come from?

At our very first exco meeting, we identified savings in procurement. I can't tell you where as we have not told our suppliers yet. They are capital expenditures and are large.

We have looked at the detailed study done by Bain & Co and the figure is up to RM1.2bil cost savings jointly.

The immediate areas will be training, (the whole gamut of) procurement from aircraft, spares, engines to simulators. As for funding, we can look at new ways of financing our aircraft purchase. In training, both of us have simulators and facilities. We will look at how we can share and have best practices.

What is the cash situation at MAS?

It is manageable and we have in excess of RM1.6bil. Obviously we have very large deliveries in the pipeline in terms of aircraft and these are for replacement of the aging B747 aircraft which have a high fuel burn. But with the new B737 and the A380 coming in, we immediately move to a higher productivity platform. If we use these new aircraft for our thick trunk routes, and promise improvement of product, which we assure you will be second to none in the region, surely people will pay more for it.

(That will lead to) fuel ASK improvement, and yield and RASK improvements. If we are able to demonstrate that and generate positive cashflow, the financing will surely come.

There has been much criticism over WAU, which you were also part of. Your comment.

WAU was successful in that it saved the airline from the brink of bankruptcy in 2001/2002. It gave the then MD Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof a platform to put into place operational restructuring, which he did. If you look back at the share price chart right up to his last day, it peaked during his tenure and shareholder revenues increased. So it is up to MAS to continue the good work he has done. Md Nor did financial restructuring and the managers (his successor) should have followed through.

Now his return as chairman is more meaningful as he understands the industry well.

Note: MAS has pointed out in a letter that the following should be the correct response for the above question.
"WAU was a financial restructuring and it was never designed to be an operational restructuring. The task of operational restructuring is left for managers of the business to follow through. In that regard, Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof and his team did exactly that and there was a significant turnaround in the profits of MAS in the following years after WAU, during his tenure. In fact, the share price rose to the then highest level right up to his last day as MD, and perhaps he left rather prematurely as he was doing very well at MAS, but he had to answer the call of national duty at the Securities Commission."

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge that could derail these big plans?

The biggest risk is if we take our eyes off the ball on how difficult this is to execute. It is not an easy ride.

The global economic outlook points to a double dip. Will this throw a spanner in the works on your plans?

Economic cycles come and go. But when the cycle is going up, you better be sure you are there to milk it. That comes in well with our aircraft deliveries. The future is for our taking. We just have to make sure we have the capacity to deploy and take advantage of it. Of course, we will face fierce competition from the usual suspects Garuda, China carriers that have identified Asia as their playground, the Middle Eastern carriers and Qantas, Jetstar ... Why on earth should we retract when Asia is the playground?

To compete with SIA or Emirates, you need connectivity, frequency and comfort. How do you stack up?

We are seriously looking at launching the premium segment for short-haul carrier and that will serve us a strong feeder network. We already have the resources from Firefly jet services and that resources can be directed for full services proposition. It takes only months to realise this.

Three years from now, will we have to hear the story again of why MAS failed?

Three years from now, the only airline you will want to fly is MAS.

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Serena Williams advances to Rogers Cup final

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 06:37 PM PDT

TORONTO (AP) - Serena Williams advanced to the final in the Rogers Cup, beating fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday night.

Williams, playing just her fourth tournament since being sidelined for a year by injuries and illness, will face 10th-seeded Samantha Stosur of Australia in the final.

Stosur beat Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.

Stosur broke Radwanska three times in the first set, but the Pole rallied to take the second when Stosur double-faulted. The Australian broke Radwanska to go up 5-2 in the third, then won the match with an ace.

The loss ended a nine-match winning streak for Radwanska, who claimed her fifth WTA title last week in Carlsbad, California.

Stosur will return to the top 10 in the WTA rankings next week.

"I think it's always for any person playing a professional sport like tennis, that benchmark is the top 10, and then you make your top five, and from there, you never know what's possible," Stosur said. "But I was definitely very excited when I broke the top 10 the first time."

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Yihan out to bury the ghost of last year’s early defeat in Paris

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 06:33 PM PDT

CHINA'S Wang Yihan is still haunted by the painful memory of losing in the second round to Eriko Hirose of Japan at last year's World Championships in Paris.

And the 23-year-old Yihan plans to make amends for that disappointment when she goes into action in today's final – and also to hold on to China's tradition of excellence in the women's singles event.

China have not lost the women's singles title since 2001, although for the first time, they are under serious threat of losing it.

Yihan will take on Taiwan's Cheng Shao-chieh in the final today.

Shao-chieh dumped top seed Wang Shixian of China in the quarter-finals before beating Germany's Juliane Schenk (Ger) 21-18, 21-6 in the semi-finals yesterday.

Yihan, however, feels that she will not be under any pressure in the final after defeating third seed Wang Xin 21-14, 21-14 in yesterday's semi-final.

"I was happy when I made it to the semi-finals. Now, I am in the final.

"I will just go out there and enjoy the game," said 2009 All-England champion Yihan.

"I hurt my right knee early this year and skipped the All-England but I am in better shape now.

"That is important."

In the mixed doubles, top seeds Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei of China marched into the final after compatriots Xu Chen-Ma Jin conceded a walkover due to Ma Jin's ankle injury.

Zhang-Zhao will take on the winners of the match between England's Chris Adcock-Imogen Bankier and Indonesians Tantowi Ahmad-Lilyana Natsir.

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Two urgent steps needed to stop Koo-Tan rot

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 06:31 PM PDT

BETTER communication and changes to the training programme – these are the immediate steps expected to be taken to stop the rot in men's doubles shuttlers Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong's game.

The duo showed an obvious lack of power and speed in their 17-21, 14-21 loss to South Koreans Ko Sung-hyun-Yoo Yeon-seong in the quarter-finals of the World Championships on Friday.

It was their fifth defeat by the second ranked Koreans and it denied them the chance of at least reaching their second final in a row. The Malaysans lost to Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China in last year's final in Paris.

National doubles coach Rexy Mainaky wants a more effective "two-way communication" so that he could address even the smallest problem faced by the players as he seeks to iron out their weaknesses before the London Olympics in August next year.

After their latest defeat, the players revealed several factors that led them to their exit from the world meet, including the lack of quality sparring partners.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong spar with Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif-Hoon Thien How, Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Ong Soon Hock and Mohd Lutfi Zaim Abdul Khalid-Vountus Indra Mawan in the elite squad daily.

The back-up squad, under coach Tan Kim Her, train at a different time. But both squads do have combined sessions twice a week.

"We will give them more quality sparring if that is what they want. It is important for the players to tell the coaches what they want. We will work on improving our two-way communication," said Rexy.

"They are not lacking in skill but we have to find new ways to improve their strength and movement on court. I hope the players will quickly recover from this setback."

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) secretary Ng Chin Chai, who is also acting as team manager here, said they would review the player's training programme.

"It's obvious that our players lack speed and power.

"The Koreans were faster on court and held the upper hand most of the time.

"We will get more details from the coaches and players over this defeat," said Chin Chai.

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The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Tan to Dr Koh: Let us debate in the open

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 06:46 AM PDT

Published: Saturday August 13, 2011 MYT 6:48:00 PM
Updated: Saturday August 13, 2011 MYT 9:46:39 PM

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) president Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping has challenged Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to an open debate if the latter continues to criticise him in the media.

Tan, former state Gerakan vice-chairman, said he could not tolerate anymore criticisms from Dr Koh, the former Penang chief minister.

Speaking to reporters Saturday, in response to Koh's recent statement claiming that "Tan must be blind or senile for not being able to see the development in Penang before 2008", Tan said:

"I do not have any personal agenda when I said earlier that Koh had not done anything during his 18 years as Penang chief minister.

"I never wanted to be in the limelight as claimed by Koh. What I said earlier (about Koh) is true and I was speaking on behalf of PCCC members."

It was reported today that Dr Koh, the minister in the Prime Minister's Department, had said the political attack against him was orchestrated by a 'puppet master' intent on seeing him vacate his post, ahead of the general election. BERNAMA

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'Those who turn 21 should be automatically registered as voters'

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 05:52 AM PDT

Published: Saturday August 13, 2011 MYT 4:58:00 PM
Updated: Saturday August 13, 2011 MYT 8:52:52 PM

KAJANG: All Malaysians who reach 21 years of age should be automatically registered as voters, said Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah on Saturday.

In fact, he said he was in favour of reducing the voting age to 18.

"Though these are not possible for the next general election, nevertheless, a road map needs to be in place to realise these matters.

"To have a great democracy, we need as many people as possible to come out and vote. To achieve this, we must make it easier for the people to do so (vote)," he said at the Electoral Reform and Purification of Democracy Forum organised by the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (Abim) and the Abim Lawyers Group (GPA) at Kolej Dar Al-Hikmah here Saturday.

Saifuddin, who was a panel member at the forum, also suggested that legislation for referendums be instituted because this was also part of a maturing democracy. - Bernama

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Home Ministry denies giving out PR status readily

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 04:10 AM PDT

Published: Saturday August 13, 2011 MYT 7:11:00 PM

KLUANG: The Home Ministry has refuted allegations that it readily accorded permanent residence (PR) status to foreign nationals.

Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein dismissed the allegations as baseless and said the opposition was raising the matter as an issue for the next general election.

"I know for a fact that the allegations are baseless because I am the one who considers the recommendations from our officers.

"We approve the PR status in accordance with the law," he told reporters after calling on Sembrong Umno information chief Abdul Rahman Shahdan, a diabetic, at Felda Kahang Timur, here. BERNAMA

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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Posted: 12 Aug 2011 06:31 PM PDT

Instant Influence: How to get anyone to do anything – fast

Author: Michael V. Pantalon

Publisher: Little Brown

Based on the only motivational approach scientifically proven to succeed in more than 100 clinical trials, this book is used in corporations, hospitals, rehab centres, court systems, universities and elsewhere to help cope with recalcitrant employees. It is also used to help long-standing problems between couples, and other tension-filled relationships. Motivational specialist Michael Pantalon teaches you how to plant the seeds for change, help others discover their own powerful reasons for change, identify effect "change talk" and take action.

Secrets of the Money Lab: How behavioral economics can improve your business

Authors: Kay-Yut Chen and Marina Krakovsky

Publisher: Portfolio Penguin

The authors offer lessons, now being put to use at Hewlett-Packard and other companies, on how to use incentives to influence employees, suppliers and buyers, and identify the negative effects of irrational behaviour. Essentially, the book translates the findings of behavioural economics into concrete actions to achieve new levels of success.

Reimaging Japan: The Quest for a future that works

Edited by: McKinsey & Company

Publisher: VIZ Media

Earthquake, tsunami and the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl – the triple disasters of March this year hit Japan when it was already feeling vulnerable. More than 80 thinkers address questions about Japanese industries, its coping mechanism, and what sort of changes the country needs to go through in order to rise above the ashes. The authors' conclusions are diverse and sometimes contradictory.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Daniel Baldwin's wife: Couple trying to reconcile

Posted: 12 Aug 2011 11:43 PM PDT

LAKE OSWEGO, Oregon (AP): Actor Daniel Baldwin's wife says the couple is attempting to reconcile and is dropping divorce filings.

Joanne Baldwin told The Oregonian newspaper on Friday that "we have a lot of work to do in our marriage and a lot of healing to do." Daniel Baldwin filed for divorce last month and was granted a restraining order against his 41-year-old wife.

The newspaper reports a Clackamas County court recently dismissed the restraining order. Baldwin's manager did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment.

Joanne Baldwin says she is living separately from her husband but they have joint custody of their two daughters, ages 1 and 3.

She was jailed July 13 after her husband reported she became violent when she drank and had threatened to kill him.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Saturday Events

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 06:43 AM PDT

Art exhibition

AN exhibition entitled "Stepping Forward: Nanyang Today — An Exhibition of Works by Singaporean and Malaysian NAFA Alumni" featuring artworks by 43 Singaporean and Malaysian artists will be showcased from Aug 13 to 28 at Wisma Kebudayaan SGM, No. 243 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur. The exhibition is organised by Soka Gakkai Malaysia and Club NAFA, supported by Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and NAFA Alumni Association Malaysia. The launch will be held at 2.00pm. An art talk entitled "A Contemporary Approach of Nanyang Style" will be held at 4:00pm at the same venue. The speakers are Choo Thiam Siew, NAFA President,Bridget Tracy Tan, Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Arts and Art Galleries Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and Lok How Yuan, Lecturer in Art History. All enthusiasts for art and public are welcome to participate in the art talk. For further information, please contact either Chia Kok Peng or Katherine Chui at tel no: 03-9075 6876; fax no: 03-9074 2413 email

Tupperware Carnival

THE biggest tupperware carnival by Tupperware Brands Malaysia to-date will be held on Aug 13 and 14 at Hall 3 of the MidValley Exhibition Centre, MidValley Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur. The two day carnival will offer visitors a complete Tupperware Brands experience, including a complete showcase of all its products, health checks, beauty tips and pointers for healthy living and space conservation. Tupperware Brands Malaysia, will also use the 2-day carnival to introduce its award winning Nano Nature Water Filtration System in Malaysia. Visitors to the carnival, will also be able to sample the clean, safe and nutrient rich water generated from the system, using its patented Nano-ceram technology and three-stage filtration. The carnival will be open to the public between 10am-10pm. Other activities include the MAGIC of makeovers demonstration on techniques for easy makeovers, make up techniques and grooming tips with BeautiControl, Tupperware Brands' beauty and skin care range.Visitors to Tupperware Carnival 2011 will also be able to check their BMI and blood pressure levels, conduct their health checks and receive free consultation from Nutritionists at the carnival. For more information on Tupperware Brands and the Tupperware Carnival 2011, visit or

Elvis Presley

D' Happy Club activity centre for seniors is collaborating with Malaysia Elvis Presley Fan Club to organise a special tribute to Elvis Presley Concert on August 14, at Eulogia Community Center, 11 Jalan SS26/6, Taman Mayang Jaya, PJ, at 7.30pm. There will be Elvis of Malaysia/Asia, Ht Long & a special guest artist, the best "Elvis" Award Winner appearance. It is open to the public and admission is by tickets, Limited places. For details, call 012-323 0560 (Christopher) or visit

Raya Celebrations

Come celebrate Hari Raya at Sunway Pyramid where the inspiration of waus surrounds the mall and becomes an attractive centrepiece. Watch the Wau Craftsmanship Demo conducted by Terengganu-ian Wau-maker Muhd Ariff bin Mazlan, the 'Wow' Raya Dance and the roving Cheer Raya Dance performances. Get dodols from Leo the Lion. Shop for exquisite souvenirs at LG2's Malaysian Craft Promotion or the Raya Bazaar to hunt for more great Raya gifts. You can also redeem uniquely wau-designed Raya packets, stand a chance to win iPad 2 or get Marks & Spencer Confectionary Vouchers when you shop at Sunway Pyramid. Call Sunway Pyramid at tel no: 03-7494 3100 or log on to for more information.

Chinese Opera

Central Market will be organising a special traditional Chinese drama and musical which will be performed by Choy Him Heong, the oldest and famous Chinese Opera Troupe in Kuala Lumpur. It is also the only opera group who can perform in English. The show will be held tonight at 8pm at the Central Market Stage. These specials events organised by Central Market is open for free to the public. For more information and details, please visit

Left Hander's Day 2011

Celebrate Left Hander's Day at 1 Utama Shopping Centre this weekend. The event will be held at the Community Centre, 1Utama Shopping Centre, First Floor, Oval (new wing), Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya from 10am-10pm. Look out for interesting activities like the Lefty Brain Teasers, Lefty Fun Dip, Lefty Survey and Lefty Items for sale. For more information contact, 016-628 1847 or 03-7877 3926 or visit

1Malaysia — A Touch of Style Art Exhibition

Capture the various displays of our very own Malaysian designers' artwork organised by Sungei Wang Plaza in collaboration with SAITO College held in conjunction with Malaysia Contemporary Art Festival 2011. Six creative artworks namely, "The Wishing Tree", "Ubi", "Lepak", "Bersatu", "Kita" and "U" are on display along Fiesta Street during the three month exhibition which runs tillSept 30. The art exhibits are results and ideas gained from the hard work & effort of young SAITO students and lecturers. The exhibition focuses on the multi-racial and cultural aspects of Malaysia with the aim of synergy and togetherness. For further information, please contact the Promo­tions/ Public Relations Department at 03-2142 6636. Be a fan of ours today @ for immediate updates and events on our promotion.


Shalini Ganendra Fine Art @ Gallery Residence presents Living Art from Ancient Land a landmark exhibition of work by aboriginal artists from Elcho Island, Australia that is curated by Dr. Susan Cochrane. The exhibition runs till September 30. The exhibition will feature works by five leading artists of Elcho Island, most of whose works are in museum collections. The exhibition will include paintings by Peter Datjing, paintings and prints by Margaret Gudumurrkuwuy, Spirit Men sculptures by Jeremiah Bonson, bark paintings by Richard Gandhuwuy, soft sculpture by Mavis Warrngila Ganambarr. These artists have achieved high reputations in Australia and internationally. This exhibition is their first in Malaysia. As part of the exhibition, Dr. Susan Cochrane, an international authority of Pacific Art, will speak at the Gallery's Vision Culture Lecture, (sponsored by HSBC, the Australian HC and UNESCO), on the history and current practises of Aborginal art, particularly in Elcho Island.

Calligraphy art exhibition

Oriental Art & Cultural Centre (OACC) is having an exhibition themed Five Styles of Calligraphy, featuring works of 40 calligraphers. The exhibition would run from July 27 to Aug 21 while the opening ceremony would be held on July 31 from 11am-3pm. The centre has also lined up a few talks in conjunction with the exhibition for calligraphy lovers to learn more about the art. OACC is located at No. 10 & 12, 2nd & 3rd Floor, Pusat Elken, Jalan 1/137C, 5th Mile, Old Klang Road, Kuala Lumpur. Opening hours are from 10am-6pm (weekends). Closed on Mondays and public holidays. Admission is free. For details, call 03-7785 6363 or visit

Art exhibition

There will be a solo art exhibition by Eng Tay called SIMPATICO. His solo will feature seven pieces of his new sculptures as well as 31 pcs of new oil pastels which he has not shown before. The exhibition will be held at the Art Accent Gallery 2F 9 & 10, Second Floor, Bangsar Village II, Jalan Telawi Satu, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur from 10.00am-10.00pm daily. For more information contact 603-2287 1908.

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Metro watch

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 06:43 AM PDT


THE Shah Alam Municipal Council (MBSA) would like to remind all property owners to pay their assessment fees by Aug 31. The MBSA main payment counters and the branches at Kota Kemuning and Sungai Buloh will be open from Monday to Thursday (7.30am- 5.30pm) and Friday (7.30am to 12.15pm and 2.45pm to 5.30pm). The drive-through counters at Wisma MBSA will be open from 7.30am–5.30pm, Monday to Friday. For details call 03-5522 2876 or 03-5522 2882.


A Blood Donation and Health Awareness Campaign will be held today from 9am to 3pm at the TOUCH Community Centre (124 - 126, 107-109, Jalan SS2/6 PJ). A team of doctors and medical students from Universiti Hospital (UH) will facilitate this and all blood collected will go to UH. For details contact 03-78730824.


Malaysian Institute of Art will organise a free photography talk on "Photography as a New Language: Innovation, Creation & Marketing". The talk will be presented by Diana Lui and Klavdij Sluban. The talk will be held on Aug 15 from 10am to 11:30am at the Malaysian Institute of Art. For enquiries and registration, contact 03-2163 2337 or 03-4108 8100 or email


Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) is organising a garden sale Aug 18 and 19 from 2.30pm to 6pm at its office at No 15, Jalan 14/28, Section 14, PJ. Look out for goodies and new items such as soaps, postcards, season's greeting cards. Bring your own bag. All proceeds go towards WAO's Refuge and Child Care Centre. call 03-7957 5636 for info.


There will be a blood donation drive on Aug 20 from 11am to 3pm at 1st Floor, Subang Parade (in front of Style Design). This programme is in conjunction with Global Peace Day on 11.11.11 at 11.11am. The target is to achieve 111 donors on this day.


Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) offers Chinese Brush Painting Short Courses at its Centre for Extension Education, PJ campus. The course will commence on Aug 24 (every Wednesday) from 7pm to 9pm. For details call 03-7957 2818 or 016-223 3563.

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Company and council gather to prepare porridge for Muslims

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 06:44 AM PDT

MALACCA: Some 6,000 packets of Lambuk porridge were distributed to Muslims here as prelude to Hari Raya.

The packets were produced through a gotong royong initiative between Nestle Malaysia and Malacca Historical Council (MBMB) that was held at an open space in Dataran MBMB.

Preparation of this local delicacy saw the participation of 80 people from Nestle and MBMB who took several hours to complete the task of packing the porridge.

State Housing, Local Government and Environment committee chairman Datuk Md Yunos Husin was given the privilige to distribute the packets to Muslims from the state as well as those from outstation states.

Md Yunos said the programme was organised for seven consecutive years and hope it would be continued in the future.

"I was told that 150 kilograms of rice, 110 chicken including other condiments were used to prepare the porridge.

"This is something that we are proud about as the enormous task was completed through team effort," he said.

The packets were also distributed at Tun Syed Ahmad Shahabudin mosque at Bukit Beruang Bukit Katil mosque, Tun Razak Bukit Mosque, Kampung Duyung mosque and Pengkalan Rama.

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Ramadan treat for 45 orphans

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 06:44 AM PDT

MALACCA: The Straits Meridian Hotel hosted some 45 orphans and underprivileged children from Madrasah An-Nuriah Ad-Dinah of Sungai Udang at a breaking fast buffet here recently.

The hotel's management, staff and family members gathered to spread some joy to the needy children in its annual charity event held for the past few years.

One of the guests, Mazlina Azlin Abdullah, 14, who stayed at an orphanege said she is thankful and felt contented to break fast with the hotel staff.

Heng Kim Boon and Francis Alberto, who were also guests at the Ramadan gathering, said such was a good opportunity for the employees and community to strengthen their relationships.

After a hearty meal, the children received duit raya from their hosts.

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College to build own hostel

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 06:44 AM PDT

JOHOR BARU: The rising demand for hostels to accommodate an increasing number of students at Sunway College Johor Baru had prompted the institution to build its own hostel.

College principal Hor Poh Choo said its called the Sunway College Residence and would be built within the campus vicinity.

"The four-storey hostel can accommodate 480 students and is designed to provide a safe, comfortable and conducive living environment for the students here," she said.

It has a total of 68 units and there are two to four bedrooms in each unit, which could accommodate four to eight residents.

"All the units are fully furnished and other amenities such as surau, study room and multi-purpose hall are located on the ground floor," she said adding that the building was also fully air-conditioned.

"Other than that, we also provide free WiFi internet for students while there is also launderette services available here.

"Besides the 24-hour presence of our Sunway auxiliary police and security personnel, we also installed an effective network of closed-circuit television (CCTV) in the hostel," she said.

One of the students Melissa Lawson, 18, said that with the security measures her parents mind could be at ease.

"I know my parents mind will be at ease with all these security measures," said the A-level programme student.

Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT) student Gan Hwa Xiang, 21, from Singapore said that staying in the hostel saves time.

"I am a futsal coach for the College's team and I stay back most of the days to train the players so it saves me a lot of time commuting as I still need to revise my studies," he said.

Another student, Lim Lisa, 17, from Kluang, who would be joining the Diploma in Hotel Management programme in August said that the hostel is one of the deciding factors she chose to study in the college.

"Amenities such as clinic, bank and food outlets are also easily and conveniently available in the vicinity of the hostel.

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