Rabu, 17 Ogos 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Syria's Assad says stops police operations stop - UN

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 09:17 PM PDT

Syrians living in Turkey shout slogans as they protest against the government of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Istanbul, August 12, 2011. (REUTERS/Osman Orsal)

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that military and police operations against protesters had stopped, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

In a phone call with Assad on Wednesday, Ban "expressed alarm at the latest reports of continued widespread violations of human rights and excessive use of force by Syrian security forces against civilians across Syria, including in the Al Ramel district of Lattakia, home to several thousands of Palestinian refugees," the United Nations said in a statement.

"The Secretary-General emphasized that all military operations and mass arrests must cease immediately. President Assad said that the military and police operations had stopped," the statement added.

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Libya rebels fight for refineries; US sends drones

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 08:47 PM PDT

ZAWIYAH, Libya (Reuters) - Rebels to the west and east of Libya's capital fought forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi for control of oil facilities vital to winning the six-month-old civil war.

The United States also deployed two more Predator drones for surveillance operations over Libya, a U.S. official told Reuters on Wednesday, as Gaddafi's forces faced unprecedented pressure.

A rebel fighter, with ammunition wrapped around his neck, waits at a checkpoint in the coastal town of Zawiyah, 50 km west of Tripoli, August 14, 2011. (REUTERS/Bob Strong)

The drones arrived earlier this week, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It was not immediately clear how many U.S. drones were currently deployed on the NATO mission.

In Zawiyah, 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli, rebels assaulted a coastal oil refinery to try to drive the last Gaddafi forces out and tighten their noose around the capital.

A rebel spokesman said a pipeline to Tripoli was cut. There was no word on the outcome of their assault after nightfall.

In Brega, on the eastern front, rebel forces said they had suffered 18 killed and 33 wounded on Tuesday and Wednesday in their battle to dislodge Gaddafi forces from the oil port and refinery, where they have been fighting for many days.

Fifteen of the rebels were killed on Tuesday and three on Wednesday, said spokesman Mohammad Zawawi.

Libyan state television showed video of Gaddafi supporters at the Brega terminal on Wednesday chanting the leader's name.

After 41 years of supreme power, the 69-year-old Gaddafi seems isolated. Rebel forces are closing in from the west, south and east, cutting off his Tripoli stronghold on the Mediterranean shore. Gaddafi's whereabouts are not known.

Aided by NATO's fighter-bombers, assault helicopters and a naval blockade, the rebels have transformed the battle in the last few days after many weeks of stalemate.

Zawiyah controls the western highway linking Tripoli to Tunisia. Gaddafi forces were holding the refinery there and harassing rebels in the city with shelling and sniper fire.

"There are some snipers inside the refinery facility. We control the gates of the refinery. We will be launching an operation to try to take control of it shortly," a rebel fighter, Abdulkarim Kashaba, said.


A rebel spokesman from the opposition-held city of Misrata to the east of Tripoli said rebels had found the buried bodies of civilians they said had been slaughtered by Gaddafi forces.

"We discovered a mass grave containing 150 bodies in Tawargha. These are the corpses of civilians kidnapped from Misrata by Gaddafi's loyalists," he said. Rebels found a video "showing kidnappers cutting the throats of people", he said.

The spokesman said rebel forces were now outside a place called Hisha about 100 km (60 miles) west of Misrata on the road to Tripoli. "They are now on the coastal road," he said.

Zawiyah's refinery is one of the few sources of fuel for Gaddafi's troops and the people of Tripoli. A rebel commander said the pipeline linking it to Tripoli was severed on Tuesday.

Gaddafi's green flags were still flying from a refinery building and an electrical pylon in Zawiyah. The rest of the city now flies the red, black and green flag of the rebels.

Streets were largely deserted apart from clusters of fighters. Shops were shuttered. Medical workers said three people were killed and 35 wounded on Tuesday, mostly civilians.

If the pipeline to Tripoli is indeed cut, "that would imply dire consequences for the population in Tripoli in terms of fuel supplies needed for the city to keep operating", said Fernando Calado of the International Organisation for Migration.

Calado said there had been a sharp increase in the past week in the number of foreign nationals asking to be evacuated. He estimated that more than 300,000 foreigners remain in Tripoli, including many from the Philippines and Sri Lanka, as well as Libya's neighbours Chad, Egypt and Tunisia.

"We have received 2,000 requests at this point. The potential caseload is huge. We're exploring the possibility of land, sea and air evacuations," he told Reuters.

Libya's rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) denies holding secret talks with Gaddafi to end the war. But suspicions persist that some form of end-game negotiation may be going on.

The NTC insists Gaddafi should step down and leave Libya, saying talks ignoring this basic demand would be "unthinkable".

(Additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva, Robert Birsel in Benghazi, Missy Ryan in Tripoli, Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers; Joseph Nasr in Berlin; Phil Stewart in Washington; Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Gundlach finishes testimony amid juror flap

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 07:46 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Star bond fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach concluded four days of testimony on Wednesday amid questions about his contact with two jurors in the case.

Bond fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach testifies in court in Los Angeles August 11, 2011 in this still image from pool web video. Gundlach denied in court testimony that he requested his co-workers gather anything "we might need" from his former employer, Trust Company of the West. (REUTERS/CVN/Pool)

After court adjourned Tuesday afternoon, Gundlach got into an elevator with two jurors who were talking to each other, according to accounts provided to the judge by both Gundlach and one of the jurors. Gundlach said he told the jurors "I feel bad for you guys," after thinking they were talking with him.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carl West ultimately decided that it was a minor mishap, according to a transcript of an in-chambers discussion.

In his four days of testimony on the witness stand, Gundlach provided plenty of details of a declining relationship with his former employer Trust Company of the West. But Gundlach, who was alternately diplomatic and testy, also made it clear he never told his colleagues to take TCW data.

The high stakes trial has given a rare glimpse into the inner workings of investment firms and the big personalities who run them.

Gundlach denied in court that he requested his co-workers gather "anything we might need" from TCW, countering testimony earlier in the trial from Gundlach's co-defendant, Cris Santa Ana.

Santa Ana, a member of the Gundlach's mortgage-backed securities group at TCW, is now chief risk officer at DoubleLine.

"Jeffrey asked for contacts, contracts, board of director contacts, copies of the red books which had the trade orders, holdings," Santa Ana testified last week. "And I think he made a blanket statement, something to the effect, 'and anything else you might think we would need.'"

But on Wednesday Gundlach told jurors that "we didn't copy any TCW code or systems to the best of my knowledge."

TCW fired Gundlach in December 2009 and sued him a month later, accusing him of stealing trade secrets, plotting to form a new company using TCW proprietary information and gutting the firm of its entire mortgage-backed securities team.

Gundlach fired back with a counter-lawsuit, alleging his former employer owed him hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.

In the weeks following his termination, Gundlach went on to form DoubleLine Capital, along with three of his co-defendants in the case. Roughly 45 TCW employees, largely from the mortgage-backed securities group, followed.

After testimony concluded for the day, the judge asked a juror who was in the elevator to describe what happened. The man said he told a second juror that he felt bad for him, because he had a bad back.

But Gundlach thought they were talking to him.

"I wasn't going to say anything to him but -- (TCW says) I'm the meanest weirdo in the world," said Gundlach, who told the judge in a separate meeting. "I don't want to stonewall the guy."

The judge admonished the jurors and Gundlach against having contact with each other.

In previous days of testimony, Gundlach had told jurors that he felt increasingly frozen out of TCW, where he was chief investment officer and a member of the board.

"If you fire me you're going to blow up this firm," Gundlach recalled warning TCW CEO Marc Stern. "You're going to blow up the business."

He also described positive feelings about his time at TCW.

"I was running a big business. I was making a lot of money," he said on Tuesday. "I was happy. I didn't want to end it."

Gundlach could also be blunt. At one point on Wednesday, Gundlach told TCW attorney John Quinn that, "with respect, you don't know what you're talking about," as Quinn drew a diagram of how mortgage-backed securities work on a display board for the jury.

The case in Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles is Trust Co of the West v. Jeffrey Gundlach et al, BC429385.

(Reporting by Mary Slosson; editing by Andre Grenon, Bernard Orr)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Support Line

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 05:57 PM PDT

DIGISTAR Corp recovered from a three-month low of 36 on Aug 9 to close at 44 sen, up 2.5 sen yesterday. The mending technical signal suggests more rebound in the short term. If prices can overcome the 50-day simple moving average of 47 sen, a re-test of the recent high of 53.5 sen can be expected. Support is pegged at the 40 sen mark.

SHARES of M-Mode tested the lower horizontal line of the relatively strong overhead resistance of 30.5-31.5 sen band on Tuesday before turning range-bound owing mild profit-taking activity. Based on the daily chart, this stock is on the rise, but in volatile style. A break above the 31.5 sen barrier may propel prices to the 41 sen level or to challenge the all-time peak of 48 sen later. Support is resting at 24 sen.

PETRA Perdana rebounded from the 59 sen level on Aug 9 to close at 81 sen, up seven sen yesterday. Despite the recent improvement, this stock is not out of the woods yet, and it will remain bearish, as long as the upper 200-day simple moving average of 93 sen is intact. Initial support is seen at 66 sen.

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

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11 named to oversee KLIFD project

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 05:53 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The RM26bil Kuala Lumpur International Financial District (KLIFD) will be overseen by 11 local and foreign consultants appointed by 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MBD) to push forth the development of the project.

1MDB said in a statement yesterday that the consulting companies were appointed based on their experience and track record in their fields such as sustainability, infrastructure, engineering, landscape planning and traffic management.

In March, 1MDB carried out a pre-qualification and request for proposal process through its subsidiary 1MDB Real Estate Sdn Bhd.

Among the selected local companies are traffic management consultant Perunding Trafik Klasik Sdn Bhd, quantity surveyor Perunding NFL Sdn Bhd, landscape architect Akitek Jururancang Malaysian Sdn Bhd and land surveyors Jurukur Perpaduan Sdn Bhd and Jurukur ESA Sdn Bhd.

The infrastructure engineering consultants are EDP Consulting Group Sdn Bhd and Buro Happold Consulting Engineers, a UK and US consultant which also acts as KLIFD's sustainability consultant.

Others include security and risk engineers ARUP Jururunding Sdn Bhd (from Malaysia) and ARUP Group International, a Hong Kong-based company. A consultant from Qatar, KEO International Consultants, was selected as programme management adviser.

The appointments are in addition to the two master planners named recently, Akitek Jururancang Malaysia Sdn Bhd and Machado Silvetti & Associates, selected from an international design competition.

1MDB Real Estate chief operating officer Datuk Azmar Talib said that the appointments were based on global practices and that the committee was "thorough and transparent in the selection process".

"Given the scale of the development and its impact on national growth, we seek not just capability and capacity but people who also share our vision for a sustainable and holistic KLIFD and our passion to deliver a Greater Kuala Lumpur," he was quoted.

1MDB owns the 30.35ha on which the KLIFD will be developed. As one of the entry-point projects under the Economic Transformation Programme, the KLIFD aims to attract financial institutions and global companies to complement other financial centres in the region.

The entire financial district is slated to be completed in two decades, with its first phase operational by 2016. Azmar has expressed hopes to integrate the development of the KLIFD with the country's mass rapid transit system which is slated to commence operations in the same year.

Azmar added that the selection of consultants for Bandar Malaysia, a KLIFD twin development in Sungai Besi will also undergo the same rigorous process.

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Japan has room for carriers, says Fernandes

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 05:50 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia Bhd boss Tan Sri Tony Fernandes is unperturbed by Jetstar's entry into Japan's domestic market to rival AirAsia Japan as he feels the market is big enough for all players.

"No issue, the market is huge but Jetstar has many things to sort out in Asia, so it will be stretched," Fernandes said.

The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said in a report that low-cost carriers (LCCs) still only operates around 2.7% of the 3,000 weekly international services to and from Japan currently.

It said LCC penetration within Japan was low at 9.1% but still higher than 6.8% for intra North Asia, which includes South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

"The new LCCs will only enter progressively but just the knowledge that they are on the way will dramatically shift the very cautious mindset that has kept Japan's aviation system the most expensive and under-exploited in the world," it said, adding that the "sky is the limit for growth upsides."

Jetstar on Tuesday announced plans to set up Jetstar Japan with partners Japan Airlines Corp and Mitsubishi Corp. Jetstar Japan will fly from Narita airport, the same terminal as AirAsia Japan, with the latter starting operations in August and the former in December 2012.

Jetstar group chief executive officer Bruce Buchanan remains bullish about the prospects and said earlier that the carrier did not see any problems in filling its 24 aircraft as Japan was an underserved market.

Jetstar's announcement comes hot on the heels of AirAsia's partnership in July with Japan's largest carrier, All Nippon Airways (ANA). The pact is split 49% for AirAsia in terms of revenue and 33% in terms of voting rights.

Separately, ANA has another LCC, Peach Aviation, which will compete head on with Jetstar Japan and AirAsia Japan. Peach takes off in March from Kansai airport.

"The propensity to travel among the Japanese is high compared with many other countries even though the rising affluence in countries like India and China has swelled on a scale never seen before. That also explains why Asia is the next growth area and why airlines are trying to establish bases beyond their own markets," said an analyst.

Though the market may be ripe for the taking, analysts believe that most Japanese have not fully warmed up to the idea of LCCs, despite Skymark Airlines the first airline to offer lower prices in the late 1990s and eight other LCCs flying to Japan.

AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani has a contrarian view. He said that before the recent earthquake in Japan, AirAsia X enjoyed passenger load factors of over 80% for its KL-Tokyo flight. During the earthquake, demand did plummet but the recovery afterwards has been strong and, in August, loads have reached 86%.

"A lot more people are Internet-savvy and more than happy to buy tickets online. There is a mix of consumers that still preferred packages and those who want to just purchase air tickets. The landscape is definitely changing," Azran said.

With three players emerging next year and the potential of a fourth coming, will the market get crowded and challenging despite bullish growth prospects?

"No challenge, it is such a great market and growth will come from the 126 million Japanese who found it too expensive to fly. The market is five times bigger than Malaysia," Fernandes said, asking whether "Jetstar had in seven years in Asia slowed AirAsia down?"

Operating in Japan could also be challenging, said a Maybank IB Research analyst. He pointed out that airport charges were among the highest in Asia and the airports were not so LCC friendly and that made it tough for LCCs that needed quick turnaround time.

Fernandes does not see this as a problem. "It (Narita International) is building a low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) for us as the market is massive." Both AirAsia Japan and Jetstar Japan have plans to fly to cities in North Asia from Japan but that will come later.

Separately, Fernandes twittered that AirAsia would soon announce a route to Manila and two new destinations in China. He said the airline needed more aircraft each year and he was meeting up with Airbus officials today.

"We need to lease more or buy classic A320s ... we are hoping to get LCCT in Penang or northern region and Langkawi."

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The Star Online: Sports

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Veteran France centre Rougerie hopes to earn place in World Cup squad

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 06:34 PM PDT

DUBLIN: Veteran France centre Aurelien Rougerie makes his return to competitive action after a long injury lay-off here on Saturday in the World Cup warm-up match with Ireland.

The 30-year-old, who has been capped 63 times and will be competing in his third World Cup, says his recovery process was made easier by previous long absences through injury.

He will undergo a stringent test against the Irish which will give the Clermont captain a good idea of how well he has recovered after breaking an ankle in the final match of the Top 14 regular season in May.

France coach Marc Lievremont handed the winger-turned-centre a vote of confidence by including him in the World Cup squad, although his knowledge of how to cope with the ennui of long-term injury has also helped.

"I have had the luck, if you can call it that, of already suffering serious long-term injuries," said Rougerie, whose career nearly came to a premature end in 2002 when he suffered a serious larynx injury after being deliberately struck by English hooker Phil Greening in a club match with Wasps.

"Therefore I knew what it took to come back."

Rougerie, whose dentist father Jacques won one cap for France at prop, is not exaggerating as his Six Nations campaign last year came to an early end after just five minutes of their opening match against Scotland with a shoulder injury, 12 months after he suffered a similar injury.

"Those are experiences which have served me well with this latest injury," said the floppy-haired blond pin-up.

"There are the highs and the lows, moments where you have to be patient, others where one is bursting with impatience and those where you need to know how to reason with yourself.

"Experience has played an important role."

Nevertheless Rougerie, who was an integral part of the France team that won the 2002 Six Nations Grand Slam and reached the 2003 World Cup semi-finals, accepts his level of match fitness will not be the same as his team-mates on Saturday in the second of their matches with the Irish, who they beat 19-12 in Bordeaux last Saturday.

"I do risk being a little bit below the level of my team-mates in terms of both physical fitness and stamina," said Rougerie.

"We will see at the end of the match how I feel," added the man who entered Clermont folklore last year when he captained them to their first ever national title.

Lievremont couldn't refrain from having a dig at the media and former players who had questioned why he had taken a risk on Rougerie and not included cover for him in the squad - though it could prove to be a pyrrhic victory if Rougerie suffers a reaction against the Irish.

"If we are to address the issue of our injured players, then we (the French coaching staff) have for the most part won our bet.

"I feel for those people who called us crazy."

Rougerie, though, takes no pleasure in proving anyone wrong.

He is only thinking about preparing for a tough clash with the combative Irish, who are desperate to gain their first win in their warm-up matches following the defeat to France and an earlier 10-6 loss to Scotland.

"We know their qualities well, they have very good players in the centre especially Brian O'Driscoll, who will come out raring to go on Saturday.

"We also know their 'fighting spirit'." — AFP

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Australia captain looks for better show

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 06:33 PM PDT

HAMBANTOTA (Sri Lanka): Australia captain Michael Clarke has urged his team to raise their game in the remaining two one-day internationals against Sri Lanka to clinch the five-match series.

Australia were let down by the batsmen during the third one-dayer on Tuesday as they suffered a 78-run defeat, their first in six matches under Clarke who replaced Ricky Ponting as captain after the World Cup.

Sri Lanka rode on opener Upul Tharanga's 111 to post a challenging 286-9 in the must-win match before dismissing Australia for 208, with paceman Lasith Malinga (5-28) doing the most damage.

"We have some work to do over the next few days because playing against Sri Lanka, especially in their home conditions, you have to be at your best to beat them," Clarke said after the day-night match.

Australia, currently ahead 2-1 in the five-match series, will play the last two games in Colombo on Saturday and Monday.

Clarke (46) and Michael Hussey (63) alone defied Sri Lanka's attack on Tuesday as they added 71 for the fourth wicket, but the remaining batsmen faltered against pace.

Malinga was superbly backed by debutant seamer Shaminda Eranga, who removed opener Brad Haddin (five) and former skipper Ponting (22) to jolt Australia's top order.

"We didn't perform as well as we would like at the start of the innings with the ball. We then came back really well with the ball but our batting let us down," said Clarke.

"We have no excuses, we didn't perform as well as we'd like and we know that."

Sri Lanka looked set to cross the 300-mark when they reached 220-1 after 38 overs but fast bowler Doug Bollinger led Australia's late fightback to eventually finish with 4-42.

Clarke said he was confident Australia can win the series if they repeat their earlier performances when the tourists won the opening game by seven wickets and the second by eight wickets.

"I'm very confident that if we play like we did in the first two games, we'll win the next two games," said the Australian captain.

Australia will also play three Test matches against the hosts after the one-day series. — AFP

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Six international sides give basketball venue a run out

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 06:32 PM PDT

LONDON: London's Olympic Park is undergoing its first real sporting test, hosting its debut tournament as six international sides give the new Basketball Arena a run out ahead of the 2012 Games.

London is staging a series of test events this summer to give their venues a practice go and allow organisers to iron out any problems before the Games begin next July.

The Basketball Arena is the fourth-largest venue on the park in Stratford, east London, measuring 35m high and 115m long.

With 12,000 seats, the white-clad structure is one of the largest ever temporary venues built for any Games. Even the doors are extra-high to accommodate the players.

However, only 3,000 seats are available per session for the warm-up basketball tournament, which runs until Sunday.

Organisers are testing out not only the arena, including the experience for players, spectators and media, but also transport to the site, ticketing, first aid facilities, the staffing – and the toilets.

Australia won the first round robin match, beating China 71-43 on Tuesday. Croatia then defeated Serbia 83-71 before France beat Great Britain 82-60.

Players and coaches were pleased with their surroundings.

"It's a beautiful place, a first class facility," said China coach Robert Donewald. "We're happy to be here."

Australia player David Barlow was also impressed.

"It's very important to try it out. It's just like having a home venue, where you need to get familiar with it," he said.

"It was good to see the English people come out to enjoy the basketball.

"It's a great venue. There's a lot of people here, I can't wait to see it all at the Olympics."

Team-mate Dan Kickert added: "It's important not just for the team, but for everyone involved, including the organisers, to see how everything works.

"It's a good court and atmosphere. It wasn't full but the atmosphere was loud."

Spectators faced a 10-minute hike from Stratford station to the site entrance, before going through airport-style security and taking a shuttle bus through the Olympic Park, still a maze of barricades and concrete blocks.

Inside, the seats are in the black and orange colours of a basketball, with a steep slope on the upper tier.

Jeff Harkman, 71, and his wife Heather, from Guildford, southwest of London, found the public address system fuzzy.

"I m a bit old but it is difficult to understand what they're saying," he said

"The seats were easy to get to and there's loads of space, it's very comfortable.

"I can't say we're basketball fans but we're very supportive of the Olympics. We're enthusiastic about the whole thing and want to see the site."

Bob Cook, 62, a retired engineer from Farnborough in southern England, said the atmosphere inside was vibrant.

"It's very loud and lively, you can imagine it will be buzzing here next year.

"It's amazing how much is still going on outside but it's all taking shape," he added.

Construction work on the arena was completed in June within the US$$70mil budget.

The outer frame of 20 steel arches has been wrapped in white fabric to form the canvas for a lighting display. Some commentators say it resembles icing on a cake.

After the Olympics, parts of it are expected to be reused or relocated elsewhere in Britain, though it could yet reappear at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. — AFP

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The Star Online: Nation

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Tony Fernandes close to buying QPR

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 06:45 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes is close to buying a 51% controlling stake in English Premier League football club Queens Park Rangers (QPR), according to several reports Wednesday.

He is reported to be on the verge of buying Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone's controlling stake in QPR for about US$196mil (RM583mil). The deal is likely to be announced soon, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Ecclestone reportedly owns 66% of the club, with Indian steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, the other major shareholder, owning 33%. Former Renault Formula 1 team boss Flavio Briatore owns 1%.

QPR has been majority-owned by Ecclestone for the last five years and he has wanted to sell for some time.

Fernandes, who also owns the Team Lotus Formula 1 outfit, added fuel to the takeover speculation on Saturday when he watched the team's 4-0 defeat to Bolton from the directors' box at Loftus Road.

If the deal goes through, Fernandes would be the latest in a string of Asian businessmen to invest in English soccer clubs. Previously, exiled Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra bought Manchester City and Hong Kong's Carson Yeung bought Birmingham City.

Citing people with knowledge of the transaction, another daily, the Financial Times, also reported that Fernandes was poised to take majority control of QPR as early as Monday, but cautioned the deal had not been sealed and could be delayed or even collapse as the parties sought to reach an agreement on the final details.

Fernandes, a West Ham fan, has several times tried and failed to buy West Ham United, the biggest soccer club in east London. - Bernama

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Suspended MIC Youth secretary to appeal

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 05:55 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC Youth secretary C. Sivaraajh, who was handed a 12-month suspension by the party effective Tuesday for criticising the party leadership for reinstating sacked members, said he would be filing an appeal by next week.

"I accept the decision to suspend me with and open heart and will appeal. Although I feel I did not do anything wrong, I will make the appeal. I hope the party will consider it," he said Wednesday.

His suspension was announced by MIC's disciplinary committee chairman Tan Sri K.S. Nijhar on Tuesday.

Sivarraajh was reported to have lodged a report with the Registrar of Societies after the party's central working committee (CWC) decided to reinstate three leaders, namely former youth deputy chief V. Mugilan and two former Central Committee members KP Samy and G. Kumar Amaan.

Mugilan, Samy and Kumar Amaan were expelled after they started a campaign to oust the then party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, following their sacking, and later formed a movement called Gerakan Anti Samy Vellu (GAS).

However, after Samy had handed over the party leadership to his successor Datuk G. Palanivel in December last year, the three were accepted and reinstated with their respective positions in the party.

This prompted Sivarraajh to claim that the CWC had acted against the party constitution.

"Under the Societies Act, the allegation, if proven, is really serious and can have a serious implication on the party.

"He called a press conference to air his allegations and this is something that we cannot tolerate," Nijhar said when announcing the suspension. - Bernama

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Motion on electoral reform committee to be tabled in October

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 05:49 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet has agreed to set up a parliamentary select committee to look into strengthening the law and regulations pertaining to the electoral process.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the Cabinet also agreed for the motion on the proposed committee to be tabled at the next parliamentary sitting this October.

The Cabinet agreed to meet with the Election Commission soon to discuss the framework of the committee, which would be headed by a minister, Nazri told reporters at his office in parliament building, here, Wednesday.

Nazri said the committee would consist of five parliamentarians from the ruling government, three from the opposition and an independent.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had on Monday announced that a parliamentary select committee would be formed to look into ways to improve the country's electoral process. - Bernama

More in The Star Thursday

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PM: Government committed to electoral reform

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Kidman, Cage, De Niro titles head to Toronto fest

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 02:26 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (AP): Bill Nighy and Rachel Weisz's British spy tale "Page Eight" has been chosen to close next month's Toronto International Film Festival, one of the world's biggest cinema showcases.

Co-starring Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon and Judy Davis, "Page Eight" will bring down the curtain on the festival that runs Sept. 8-18.

Other films added to the Toronto lineup Tuesday include Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage's thriller "Trespass"; Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard's Winnie Mandela drama "Winnie"; Gerard Butler's African missionary tale "Machine Gun Preacher'; Jason Statham and Robert De Niro's action saga "Killer Elite"; and Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy's comedy "Hysteria."

Among previously announced Toronto titles is "From the Sky Down," a portrait of superstar band U2 that will be the first documentary ever to open the festival.

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Back in the spy game

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 11:45 PM PDT

Jessica Alba plays a retired secret agent who gets back into action, with baby and stepkids in tow in Spy Kids 4.

EXACTLY a decade after Spy Kids (2001), the first in an espionage-based family-oriented francHhise that spawned well-loved sequels Spy Kids 2: The Island Of Lost Dreams (2002) and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003), now comes Spy Kids: All The Time In The World (aka Spy Kids 4).

Written, produced and directed by Robert Rodriguez, Spy Kids 4 (also released in 4D aromascope in the United States) stars Jessica Alba and Joel McHale who reprise their roles as a spy and her husband.

On the surface, Marissa Cortez Wilson (Alba) has it all ... a famous spy hunting television reporter husband, a new baby and intelligent twin stepkids. But in reality, trying to mother Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook), who clearly don't want her around, is her toughest challenge yet. Also, her husband Wilbur wouldn't know a spy if he lived with one, which is exactly the case – Marissa's a retired secret agent.

More valuable than jewels or gold is time and now the villain – Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) – has figured out how to steal the one thing we don't have enough of.

Marissa's world is turned upside down when the maniacal Timekeeper threatens to take over the planet and she's called back into action by the head of OSS, home of the greatest spies and where the now defunct Spy Kids division was created.

Rebecca and Cecil are thrust into action when they learn their boring stepmum was once a top agent and now the world's most competitive 10-year-olds are forced to put their bickering aside and rely on their wits.

The importance of family is the lifeblood of the Spy Kids universe and that was influenced by Rodriguez's upbringing as one of 10 siblings and as father of five children.

As with the previous films, he created a family with real issues that both kids and parents can relate to: parents that are too busy working to spend time with their family, kids who are too distracted with other things and a new mum balancing motherhood with returning to work.

Herself a working mum, Alba could relate to her character's dilemma. "It's so hard to try and juggle work with being a mum and how much time you spend on one thing versus the other and it kind of blends together. Suddenly, a year goes by and you ask yourself, 'where did the time go?'"

As a first time mum, dealing with a husband who works too much, Marissa is exhausted. Alba says in the movie's production notes: "She tries hard but gets overwhelmed and frazzled. Being a spy seems to be the easy part of what she does and being a mum is what she struggles with."

When called back into duty, her character finds that going back to work is no easy task, just as in real life.

"She has the baby strapped to her in a lot of sequences because she's a stay at home mum and doesn't have a babysitter. She still has to change, feed and keep the baby happy, all while trying to save the world."

She's also struggling with being a stepmum to kids who are critical of her parenting ways. "She wants them to love her as much as she loves them but it's hard for kids to accept a new parent."

When Rodriguez approached Alba about wanting to make her into a spy mum, she shared with him what she wanted that character to embody. "I wanted to see a modern mum. Someone who is trying to work and deal with family but isn't a nagging, dowdy woman. Someone trying to hang onto her own identity while trying to be the best mum she can be and kind of struggling with both."

It was important to Alba to have her character rooted in reality. "I think a lot of women want to relate to characters they see on the big screen. Even though Marissa is a cool spy chick, she's not great at everything but she's trying to be a good mum," she says.

Spy Kids: All The Time In The World in 3D opens in cinemas on Thursday.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

Parents of persons with learning difficulties hope to build a new vocational centre

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 06:33 AM PDT

CHNG Kuan Hua picks up a plastic spoon, tissue paper and chilli and tomato sauce sachets. He puts them together and then packs them into a KFC plastic bag. He is closely supervised by staff at the sheltered workshop run by Perkobp in Taman Puncak Jalil in Seri Kembangan, Selangor.

"My son is one of 36 persons with learning difficulties (PLDs) at this centre. He is 24 years old this year. Some of the trainees here have been with us since 1995. Our oldest trainee is aged 55 this year, and the youngest is aged 22," said Chng Cheng Hui, executive secretary of Perkobp (Persatuan Keluarga Orang-Orang Bermasalah Pembelajaran).

The 57-year-old father of two, who quit his job in 1999 as a customer service manager with an international shipping company to work with other parents in Perkobp, is currently working hard to help raise funds for a new building, through a Dance For Fund (In Aid of Perkobp)-cum-dinner concert.

"We were compelled to move to this current building because our previous centre had to be closed when the land on which it stood was sold in early 2010. The new purpose-built centre, located in Kg Tengah, adjacent to Putra Heights, in Puchong, is much bigger and can cater up to 100 PLDs.

According to Cheng Hui, they had 52 trainees at their previous factory-like premises located at 6½ Miles, Jalan Puchong, in Puchong, Selangor, but the number was reduced to 36 when they moved to the Puncak Jalil two-storey shoplot.

Full story in Metro Central today.

If you have a similar story to share e-mail us at inspired@thestar.com.my

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Let’s give our parents a holiday before they are too old to enjoy it

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 04:25 AM PDT

MY DAD'S friend is a brilliant doctor who has been running his own practice for close to 30 years.

For the past three decades, he has been working from Mondays to Saturdays, with the exception of Chinese New Year, where he takes a two-week break to spend time with his family.

His profession has enabled him to provide well for his family and send both his children for overseas education. Although he takes his family on a holiday abroad now and then, they rarely spend on themselves and would rather invest and save.

Not long ago, he bought a beautiful sports car. Much like many men I know, he is very much enamoured with cars (and watches!).

He didn't need another car, but it wasn't a matter of need as much it was a desire to own a sports car.

This was what he explained over dinner one night: "We've already invested and saved, and that's a very good thing; but one day I'm not going to be here and all the money saved will go to my boys. And then do you know what they're going to do?"

I started laughing as I gestured for him to continue.

"They're going to buy a sports car and enjoy it!!", he finished with feigned indignant.

His wife could only roll her eyes at him but she too (after the initial disapproval) couldn't disagree with that logic.

I too, agree wholeheartedly, yet I can see why many adults of my parents' generation would rather choose a security blanket they might never use over a purchase of something they will definitely enjoy.

No matter how our parents recall stories of their childhood — how they walked for more than an hour to school, how they shared a tiny room with more than five people or how they saved to enjoy a luxurious meal at KFC — we will never truly fathom the feeling of despair or desperation that must have plagued our parents as they were growing up.

I have never known my mother to be without worry about money. Even when she has enough, she worries about what will happen if it runs out.

I have told her more than a million times not to worry unncessarily, and how it doesn't make sense to rather have money in the bank as opposed to using some of it to enjoy the little luxuries in life.

For the past few years, I have been saying that I understand my mother's worry about money, but lately, I realised that I don't even come close to grasping her mentality of it.

"I don't know the feeling of desperation," I told my husband one night.

When my mother had trouble getting a job when she first came to KL at the age of 19, she was desperate.

She came to the city on faith and optimism, but she couldn't survive on that when her money started running out and she had to give up the bed and small cupboard she was renting.

Her only options were to either go back to Malacca, where my grandmother was struggling to feed the family, or continue going from interview to interview.

My mother's friend took her in, and mom slept in a makeshift room that was the balcony and eventually got a job.

"You slept in the BALCONY?!" I remember asking her in disbelief, thinking of all the mosquitoes and other bugs that must have shared the bed with her.

The way my mom tells the stories of her past, it was more matter-of-fact, with lots of humour thrown in, than sad or desolate.

Perhaps that is why it is always easy for me to dismiss her worries or get impatient with her "we shouldn't spend unnecessarily" advice.

I live in a world where, at five years old, I get more than a dozen wrapped presents of Barbies and pretty accessories for my birthday.

I live in a world where going to the cinema is a casual occurence, and having a conversation about how good an investment a Chanel bag is, is nothing out of the ordinary.

I go through life filled with optimism, good cheer and the belief that we should seize today instead of worrying about tomorrow.

I don't worry about tomorrow, because my parents have paved my growing up years free of worries for me.

I am 28 years old and I am starting to think that perhaps I've only skimmed the surface of what appreciation really means.

I've always been very tickled by how my grandmother would say "thank you" all the time, to everyone, for the tiniest things. She would even say thank you to me when she came to support me at my shows, when I should be the one thanking her.

My grandma is getting old, whereby she can't walk without aid and her leg aches after standing for some time. My mother wishes she had taken my grandma on more holidays when she could still travel.

"But when grandma was in good health, you couldn't afford to take her overseas, and it's not like you were going on holidays yourself," I told my mom.

And this is a frustrating and extremely genuine situation that people face.

Sometimes, when we can finally afford to treat our parents, their age and health prevents them from fully enjoying it.

My friend Chelsia, who badly needs a car but has decided to spend the money buying a holiday to Taiwan for her parents instead, told me that if she doesn't do it now, there will never "be a right time".

If you think about it, there are always more practical or crucial items that we need to spend our money on in our everyday lives, so when do we go "Okay, that's enough, we have everything now. Let's take our parents on a holiday!"?

Hopefully not when they are too old to enjoy the good things in life.

If my mother is reading this (as she probably will be), I want to let her know that I would like her and my father to take the holiday that I would like to give them.

I have always thought that when I give them a holiday, it would be an around-the-world trip where they don't have to worry about hotel rates or food prices, but I realised that I do not know when that is going to happen.

So, in the meantime, I would like to tell my parents and all parents reading this, to accept what little we can offer you right now.

Don't worry about the money; we will manage, just like you have all these years!

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Tender loving care

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 01:57 AM PDT

Women may think it is difficult to care for themselves, as well as their loved ones, but in reality, it may not be as tough as it seems.

WHEN it comes to our personal health and well being, we women are sometimes like doctors who don't heed their own advice.

We often know what our friends and family need for good health, but we do not necessarily practise what we preach.

Prof Dr Jamiyah Hassan, a lecturer at the Universiti Malaya Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology can empathise.

"Sometimes, we do not know how to take care of ourselves," she laments at the beginning of her talk about women and health.

"And these days, women multitask more and more. They are CEOs, career women, and many have eight-to-five jobs they need to see to. Yet, no matter what they do, and how many roles they play, they are still mothers to their children," she says.

Whether it is due to competing priorities, such as their careers and social life, or the lack of awareness on self-care, women's tendencies to put their health on the back burner is a matter of concern.

As women are usually in charge of their families' health, their personal health may directly impact the health of those under their care. "Women have to take charge of their own health. It is only then they can look after their family," says Prof Jamiyah.

Get to know yourself

The sheer amount of health advice available to us on the Internet can be confusing, but one of the easiest and most practical ways to take care of our health is to get to know our bodies.

Women need to be familiar with their own bodies because they are usually the first ones to notice if something is not right, says Prof Jamiyah.

From taking a few moments to take a good look at themselves in front of a mirror every day to performing breast self-examinations every month, women can monitor their own health.

As little things, like changes in appetite, bowel movements, sleeping patterns, and the colour of urine and stools, are important clues to our health, these observations can help doctors provide better care for us.

"If you do not know your body, you would not pick up any small changes," says Prof Jamiyah.

Even if the changes are "benign", at least it gives doctors a place to start looking.

After all, if your fatigue is due to frequent trips to the toilet at night (a common symptom of diabetes), instead of stress at work, your doctor is probably not going to know about it unless you tell them.

Although there are still a lot of diseases we cannot prevent, it is already possible to minimise our chances of getting some of them. However, we often overlook the importance of such preventative measures.

One of these measures that women often forget is vaccination, says Prof Jamiyah.

Some of them provide personal protection. Vaccines such as the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (approved for girls/women from nine to 45 years old), and the annual seasonal influenza vaccine, can protect a woman from infections that may cause genital warts (HPV-6 and HPV-11), cervical cancer (HPV-16 and HPV 18) and seasonal flu (influenza viruses) respectively.

However, there are other vaccines that also protect a woman's family in the process.

For instance, while a rubella vaccine can protect a woman against rubella (also called German measles) – a disease that may just give her rashes, a mild fever and running nose – it can also help protect her unborn child from congenital health problems if she is infected during pregnancy.

"That is why when someone who has never been vaccinated with rubella tries to get pregnant, we always ask them to get vaccinated before they try," says Prof Jamiyah.

Another example is the pertussis vaccine, which protects against Bordetella pertussis infections that can cause prolonged cough in adults and whooping cough in children.

While the pertussis vaccine is already included in the National Immunisation Programme (all infants in Malaysia should get it before they are one year old), adolescents and adults may need booster shots to keep them protected. This is especially important for mothers with young children and those who work with children.

"Adults can cough for weeks but they do not emit the whooping sound, so they attribute it to something else... But they are the ones that are passing on the (bacteria) to the young children in their households," says Prof Jamiyah.

As for diseases that cannot be prevented by vaccines, there are screening tests like mammograms and pap smears that can help doctors detect early changes.

Honouring me time

Aside from physical health, women should also take care of their emotional and spiritual health. That is why apart from a well-balanced diet and exercise, it is equally important for women to take time out to rest and do things for their own pleasure, Prof Jamiyah emphasises.

By having good mental health and inner peace, they can carry out their duties, as well as deal with the stresses that come along.

In the end, it is not a totally selfish pursuit. Because when we are healthy, we will be more able to take care of our families – be it our elders or children.

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My sinus problem

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 01:50 AM PDT

Infection of the nasal passages can lead to symptoms most people describe as a 'sinus problem'.

I HAVE been having some pain on the areas of my cheeks below my eyes. I've been told this is the "sinus" area and I am having sinus problems. What is a sinus?

Sinus is a layman's term for sinusitis, which is inflammation of your sinuses. Your sinuses can be infected by bacteria or viruses.

Frequently, viruses infect your nasal passages first, causing rhinitis (inflammation of your nose). This inflammation blocks the openings of the sinuses to your nose. Thereby, your sinuses get inflamed as well.

Sinusitis doesn't occur alone. It's preceded by rhinitis. Therefore, a more correct term to describe the affliction would be rhinosinusitis.

Viral respiratory tract infections frequently lead to sinus infections with bacteria. Your sinuses can also be infected by fungi.

Sinusitis is one of the most common chronic infections in the world. Unfortunately, most people overlook it because they don't understand the symptoms when they have it.

Where exactly are my sinuses?

Your sinuses are actually air-filled pockets within your facial bones. There are four groups of sinuses. They are named after the bones in which they are located.

1. The maxillary sinuses – this is the pair located beneath your eyes and on either side of your nose.

2. The ethmoid sinuses – these are located between the eyes.

3. Frontal sinuses – this pair is located in your forehead,

4. Sphenoid sinuses – this pair is located behind your ethmoid sinuses, near the middle of your skull.

Each of these sinuses has an opening that connects to your nose called the ostium.

What types of sinusitis are there? I have heard of some people having this sinus problem forever.

Forever is probably an exaggeration, but some people seem to be perpetually having rhinosinusitis.

Acute rhinosinusitis is defined as sinusitis that is present for less than four weeks.

Subacute rhinosinusitis is present for more than four weeks but less than 12 weeks.

Chronic rhinosinusitis is present for more than 12 weeks.

There is a variant called recurrent acute rhinosinusitis, which means that you have more than four acute episodes within a year.

Is it easier for some people to get sinusitis compared to others? It seems that my cousin is having this chronic sinusitis that you speak about.

Yes, there are risk factors. Viral infections of the nose may lead to sinusitis as described above, so if you are prone to getting common colds, you might be more at risk of sinusitis.

Nasal allergies also cause inflammation of the lining of your nose, leading to blocked ostia, and hence, sinusitis. So if you are the type to get allergic rhinitis, or vasomotor rhinitis, you might be more at risk.

In fact, if you have asthma or some sort of hypersensitivity disease like nasal polyps, your sinuses seem to get inflamed more easily as well due to increased levels of inflammatory substances floating in your blood.

Some people have anatomical obstruction of the nose, which may block the ostia.

Previous surgery of the area may also contribute to blockage of the ostia. Ironically, the most common surgery around that area is sinus surgery!

People who have had facial injuries, such as during contact sports, may also have alterations in their structure that may block the ostia.

How can I tell that I have sinusitis, in addition to having the common cold?

It sometimes can be quite difficult, hence many people miss it. But commonly, if you get snot that is typically thick and has a yellow or green color, this is a symptom of bacterial sinusitis.

Most people have a blocked nose and a cough, which is caused by a post-nasal drip.

If you press against the areas of your sinuses are described above, and there is pain over those areas, that is a sign of sinusitis.

Sometimes there is fever and ear discomfort, especially when your Eustachian tube from the nose to the ear is blocked.

Since sinusitis is so difficult to differentiate from colds, here are indicators that they may be the cause of your problems:

> Facial pain/pressure.

> Facial congestion and fullness.

> Nasal blockage.

> Thick green or yellow discharge from the nose or throat.

> Decreased sense of smell.

> Fever.

Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health advice, computers and entertainment. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only.

Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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Defective immune system

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 12:53 AM PDT

DID you know that your child might have an immunodeficiency if he has eight or more ear infections within a year or two or more serious sinus infections in a year?

Clinical immunologist/allergist and paediatrician Dr Amir Hamzah Abdul Latiff says that while immunodeficiencies are not common, they are not rare, either.

Primary immunodeficiencies, he adds, are grossly under-diagnosed.

"Back in the 1980s, the figure was maybe 1 in 10,000 but that's because of a lack of awareness and recognition.

"Currently, I would say that it is probably not a rare disease anymore. Certainly, in the United States, the prevalence is 1 in 1,200," he says.

Having said that, however, he assures parents that the incidence is much less among children.

What is an immunodeficiency?

That's when the immune system's ability to fight an infectious disease is compromised. If it is something a person is born with it is called a primary immunodeficiency. If it is acquired some time during a person's lifetime, it's called secondary.

This is in contrast to an autoimmune disorder – when the immune system does not recognise substances and tissues of its own body and thinks that it is being attacked by infectious agents. It then sends out immune responses to its own cells and tissues.

"If the immune system doesn't work, then the cardinal sign is recurrent infections," says Dr Amir, who explains that an assessment of the immune system is needed if:

> You have two episodes of pneumonia, and you are admitted and require intravenous treatment.

> For children, they have a bad ear infection about eight times a year and require oral antibiotics yet it persists.

ParenThots finds out the signs you should look out for.

Focus on the Family

How can parents find more hours in a day to spend with the children? Is it all about quality time or is quantity important, too?

Dr James Dobson shares his thoughts on prioritising family time.

Readers write in

Bridget Emily Mowe writes about going through postpartum depression following the births of her two kids and trying to get help.

Azatulsheeda Mohd Azman shares some advice on pregnancy and childbirth for first-time mothers.

Khairunnisa' Mohd Azman writes about her unplanned pregnancy and having to walk all over campus while pregnant.

Share a personal parenting story and you could win Giant vouchers worth RM200. For details, go to ParenThots.

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