Isnin, 29 Ogos 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Siti Saleha Baharum makes her name in acting

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 02:28 AM PDT

Young actress Siti Saleha Baharum is geared up for the challenges in her acting career.

Budding actress Siti Saleha Baharum has always considered Britain as her home, but deep down, Hari Raya is still meaningful and poignant to her. Though her mum now resides in England, Saleha looks forward to every Raya where she gets to meet family members from her father's side from Kuala Selangor and Klang in Selangor.

"I usually take a short break, one whole week to unwind and just lepak with family members. The first three Raya days are the most fun and lively," said the bubbly actress who was born in Basildon, England.

According to Saleha, she doesn't really have a kampung apart from her hometown in England.

"My dad is from Kuala Selangor. Unfor-tunately, both my grandparents aren't around anymore so every year we celebrate it around Klang Valley, particularly Klang," said Saleha, who is the third of four siblings.

As far as tradition is concerned, she has two baju kurungs ready for this year's celebrations. With a cheeky grin, Saleha hopes she can fit into them once she is done with the ketupat and chicken rendang delights at home with the family.

Apart from Raya, there are other things that this young woman, filled with spirit and spark, should be celebrating. Though a newbie, Saleha is fast gaining a name in acting circles.

Not because she is the baby sister of Shamsul Annuar or Sam Bunkface, the lead vocalist of local pop punk band Bunkface and Azenders (his second band). Or that she is always referred to as the face in a popular beauty product advert here.

Instead, it's all because of Nora Elena, the character she played in the drama series of the same name that caught the attention of 1.75 million viewers over national station TV3. Saleha became a household name almost instantly.

"I love Nora Elena because she made it possible for me to get further careerwise. Although I have been in show biz for nearly three years, this drama series gave me the breakthrough and exposure. I think I am very lucky," said Saleha of her hit character in the 24-episode drama which ran early this year.

Despite the popularity of Nora Elena, Saleha's brush with fame started much earlier.

At 12, Saleha was already modeling. At 13, she seized another opportunity to appear in a telco ad. Thanks to her Pan-Asian looks which she inherited from her British-Dutch mother, Tracey Johnson (or Aishah Rahman), and father Mohd Baharum, Saleha has made the most of her parentage. This has led to many other commercials and print advertisements here.

"It was a gradual progress for me. I graduated from TV commercials to TV actress. Thank God for that because it made me more confident as I can use my past experiences in commercials," said the 21-year-old actress.

When she landed her first TV role, Saleha proved that she was just as natural on a TV screen too.

She made an impact with all her acting roles, ranging from Kasut Tumit Tinggi, Farah, Kapten Boleh, 5 Jingga, Zaleha, Kecuali Cinta Mu and Awan Dania (second season).

Saleha, who acted alongside actor Aaron Aziz in Nora Elena, has also appeared in several telemovies, namely Puaka Topeng Putih, Hati Batu, Raya Mona and Kau Laksana Bulan.

"I really want to act in movies next. I want to be a versatile actress and tackle different roles. I do not mind doing older characters or teenage characters. A horror movie would be nice," said Saleha, who has also dabbled in theatre acting (Stage Therapy in 2009).

But this mass communication student at a private college in Selangor is not in a hurry to plunge into a film career straight away.

"I am not disappointed that I have not been cast in a movie role yet. The time has not come. I'm sure it will happen eventually. Until then, I will wait patiently for that break," said Saleha, who admires actress Vanidah Imran.

At the moment, Saleha can't afford to act full time as she needs to concentrate on her studies.

"I have a very packed schedule, so I can't possibly go for long shoots," said Saleha, who named 5 Jingga, Habil dan Qabil and Ustaz Amirul as her favourite dramas. Finishing her studies ranks high on her priority list.

"Honestly, I don't intend to pursue journalism because I know writing is not my forte. But I would probably focus more on broadcasting and PR. Right now, I'm in the middle of producing a music video for one of the assignments I have.

"Producing as well as directing is something that I would plan to do in the future. It's definitely on my list," said Saleha as she finished off this interview with a winning smile.

Unique TV characters

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 12:14 AM PDT

Quirkly but lovable? This week the sofa spudniks embrace memorable TV characters that have bucked the trend.

I'VE been watching The Glee Project and am so inspired by the concept of celebrating individuality and unique characters that I began thinking of my favourite television characters that truly encapsulated the idea of being extraordinary, whether they were good, bad or ugly.

Very quickly my mind honed in on more than a handful, whom I don't think I will ever forget.

No.1 on my list is Nellie Oleson. Created by Laura Ingalls Wilder for her Little House books (apparently she was a composite character based on several of Wilder's childhood acquaintances), Oleson was played to a T by actress Alison Arngrim. The character was unbelievably naughty, sharp tongued and cunning. She was rich, prim and proper, the exact opposite of our heroine Laura. She had everything Laura wanted and more (well, she was rich and always got her way).

Nellie's parents, Nels and Harriet Oleson, owned the only shop in the small town of Walnut Grove. Nellie took after her awful mother (Katherine MacGregor) and was nothing like her kinder dad (Richard Bull). She was the epitome of the spoilt child and I don't think anyone else has come close to playing this sort of a character, or at least left an impression the way Nellie Oleson did. The thing about Nellie is that she was so good at playing bad (she had a true mean streak in her) that we accepted her for what she was. In fact, we'd expect no less from Nellie than the absolute worst possible behaviour.

Next up, I have to mention the Prince of Weird, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). Before the X-Files, I don't think I truly appreciated characters like him, not to mention his group of geek friends, the Lone Gunmen. But one doesn't get to make a cameo on The Simpsons unless one has some sort of monumental effect on the television viewing public, which no doubt Mulder certainly had on me.

So obssessed with paranormal, extraterrestial and conspiracy theories, Mulder's race to discover the truth (which he is certain is out there) becomes the force that drives his very existence. His sidekick, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), ably juxtaposes his character with her more scientific, rational, logical approach to life. A good yin and yang mix to keep all sorts of viewers happy.

I liked Mulder's particularly cynical brand of humour (google "mulderisms" to get a quick taste) and felt that Duchovny somehow managed to lend Mulder's character just the right amount of charisma to make him cool.

I can watch the X-Files over and over and not get tired of it. Yes, it has some far-out plots with mysterious twists and turns to whet my appetite, but mostly I think the series works because of Mulder, and the fact that he is matchless, in terms of someone who embraces his individuality and thrives on it.

I have more characters that I would like to expound on, for instance, absolutely anyone in the Alan Ball series Six Feet Under. The Fisher family – made up of Ruth, Nate, David and Claire – were absolutely divine. Each member so intricately different from the next and yet so believable as a family unit, albeit dysfunctional. The family business? They were funeral directors! Splendid! Again, with this series, casting was spot on because the actors (Frances Conroy, Peter Krausse, Michael C. Hall, Lauren Ambrose) managed to flesh out their suitably unique characters so convincingly.

But I can't dwell too long on them, because Indra is trying to bulldoze her way into this discussion and have a go at letting you know what she thinks individuality on TV is all about. – A.M.C.

UNLIKE Ann Marie, I am not a fan of Glee or The Glee Project. I am all for celebrating individuality on TV – you know, geek chic and all ­that – but not at the expense of good entertainment.

Somewhere along the line, I think Glee stopped being about compelling storylines built around interesting and often sidelined individuals. It became more about celebrity guest stars (does anyone else think there has been one too many episodes of Gwyneth Paltrow already?) and flashy song routines.

Musical theatre has given way to karaoke performances (err ... what was the Britney Spears tribute episode all about, eh?). What happened to the stories? What happened to character development? Glee lost the plot and I lost interest.

So I turned to another show that brings together an ensemble of oddballs – Modern Family. The 30-minute sitcom revolves around three households of one extended family: the first is the household of patriarch Jay Prichett (Ed O'Neil) and his hot, young Latina wife Gloria Delgado (Sofia Vegara) and her son Manny (Rico Rodriguez); the second household is that of gay couple Mitch Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and his partner Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and their adopted daughter Lily; and finally there is Jay's daughter Claire Pritchett (Julie Bowen) and her family: husband, Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) and their children Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel winter) and Luke (Nolan Gould).

Every character in Modern Family is precious. But more than that, the stories are fresh every episode and the writing is funny.

My favourite Modern Family character? I like Dunphy – the uncoolest dad on TV at the moment. Dunphy and Claire met in high school where he was ... a cheerleader. Unlike his father-in-law Jay, Phil isn't a man's man. He's a hopeless handyman (I am quite sure that the wonky step he keeps tripping over will never get fixed) and he's not a jock (cheerleader, remember?). But, he's a doting husband and a loving dad.

He's an overgrown man-child and his idea of being a good parent is being friends with his kids: he believes in peer-enting, not parenting. He is goofy, but really sweet. He's the kind of dad you love (because he'd do just about anything for you – even console the boyfriend you just broke up with), but would rather your friends (certainly not your boyfriends) meet.

Why? Well, he's embarrassing. He thinks he's cool and reckons he's "down" with everything hip (hey, he knows the dance routines and songs from High School Musical – whaaat?) but he's just not. But Dunphy has good intentions and is so earnest in everything he does that you just love him.

He loves Claire to bits and though he occasionally catches himself drooling at a hot neighbour or even his stepmother-in-law Gloria, he's as harmless as a cat on prozac (and just about as clumsy, too).

So you see? You don't need a contrived show about oddballs (Asian girl with a stutter, fat girl with a big voice, wheelchair-bound kid who gets a break, bullied gay kid who sticks to his guns) to celebrate them — you need a good old-fashioned comedy like Modern Family. – S.I.


The Star Online: World Updates

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New Japan PM Noda faces party feud, split parliament

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 09:01 PM PDT

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda is to be voted in on Tuesday as the country's sixth prime minister in five years amid doubts he can unite his fractious ruling party while tackling myriad economic ills and a nuclear crisis.

Japan's Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda (L), who was chosen as the new leader of Japan's ruling Democratic Party, speaks during a news conference after the party's leadership vote in Tokyo August 29, 2011. (REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao)

Noda, a 54-year-old fiscal hawk who wants to curb Japan's huge public debt, was elected head of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in a bruising run-off. He had come in second among five candidates in an inconclusive initial round.

The challenges he faces are legion: coping with a strong yen that threatens to undermine exports, forging a new energy policy while ending a crisis at a crippled nuclear plant, rebuilding Japan's tsunami-devastated northeast and finding funds to pay for that and bulging social security costs in the ageing society.

Noda repeated his call for "prudent fiscal management" on Tuesday at a final news conference as finance minister, but he acknowledged that the economy faced downside risks.

"I am aware of the problems of the strong yen and deflation. But at the same time, we need to maintain fiscal discipline," Noda said.

He also said he wanted to consult opposition parties, who control parliament's upper house and can block bills, on a bill to double the 5 percent sales tax by mid-decade as well as on funding for reconstruction.

Graphic on Reuters PM survey:

Graphic on Japan recent PM's:

In an apparent nod to Ozawa backers who want the party to stick to campaign promises to put more cash in consumers' hands, Noda added: "Our (party) motto is people's lives come first. Also I emphasised support for the middle class.

"We need not to lose sight (of these principles)."


No Japanese premier has lasted much longer than a year since 2006, when the charismatic Junichiro Koizumi ended a rare five-year term.

Noda was not the most popular of the candidates with the public nor did he have the strongest support base inside the party, which remains divided by personal feuds and policy disputes two years after sweeping to power with promises to change how Japan is governed.

But critics of party powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa, whose backing put trade minister Banri Kaieda in first place after the initial party vote, rallied around Noda to vault him to victory.

Some optimists say the low-key Noda may be the best bet for Japan now given all the hurdles to governing.

"In Japanese tradition, the less lustrous politicians have tended to be more effective," said Andrew Horvat, director of the Stanford Japan Center in Kyoto.

Many pundits, however, are already predicting that Noda may well end up the latest of Japan's revolving door leaders.

"The difficult structural problems remain -- a divided party, hostile opposition parties that deprive the government of a majority in the upper house and mountains of difficult and divisive problems facing the country," said Sophia University professor Koichi Nakano.

"These present a very high hurdle for anyone who wants to stay in office. Noda is rather more likeable and less tainted than Kaieda... but how long he will last, I don't know."

Noda's immediate task on Tuesday was to select lawmakers to fill the DPJ's top executive posts, including the key position of secretary-general, the party's second-in-command.

The appointments will signal how conciliatory he means to be to Ozawa backers, many of whom object to tax hikes for fear of putting off voters.

Whether Noda can unify the fractious party "ultimately depends on how conciliatory he can get in terms of appointments, but if he goes too far, that will antagonise the public," Nakano said.

"That is extremely delicate."

(Additional reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Neil Fullick)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Relative of Obama arrested in Massachusetts

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 06:27 PM PDT

BOSTON (Reuters) - A relative of President Barack Obama was arrested last week outside Boston on charges of drunk driving, an official said on Monday.

Onyango Obama, 67, of Framingham, Massachusetts, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, failure to yield at an intersection and negligent operation of a motor vehicle, said Cara O'Brien, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney's office.

Onyango Obama is a half-brother of President Obama's Kenyan father, an administration official confirmed.

Onyango Obama pleaded not guilty on Thursday in Framingham District Court and was released on personal recognizance, O'Brien said, but he was being held on a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer.

He hired Ohio immigration attorney Margaret Wong, said Wong spokesman Mike Rogers.

Rogers said Onyango Obama was released from a Massachusetts jail on Monday and was being supervised at an undisclosed location until reporting back to immigration officials on Tuesday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington had no immediate comment on the report.

Wong is the same lawyer used by Onyango Obama's younger sister, Zeituni Onyango, who was granted asylum last year by a Boston judge, putting the Kenyan woman on the path to U.S. citizenship.

(Reporting by Lauren Keiper; additional reporting by JoAnne Allen in Washington; editing by Jerry Norton and Mohammad Zargham)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

FACTBOX - 5.1 mln customers without power on Monday after Irene

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 05:56 PM PDT

REUTERS - More than 5.1 million homes and businesses along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard were still without power Monday evening after passage of Tropical Storm Irene.

That was down from 5.5 million earlier Monday, but utilities said it could take days to restore electricity in accessible areas and weeks in hardest-hit regions.

Waves from the storm surge created by the passing of Hurricane Irene crash over the rocks near the lighthouse at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, August 29, 2011. (REUTERS/Paul Darrow)

The U.S. Department of Energy reported that 5.12 million customers were without power as of 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT), with the most outages in New York state, where 888,637 customers - down from 939,000 Monday morning - were affected.

An earlier DOE report on Sunday had identified 5.95 million customers without power. Monday afternoon's figure implies at least 800,000 customers had power restored since then.

Reports from utility firms and tallied by Reuters identified at least 3 million users without power at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT), but that estimate doesn't take into account all utilities.

Monday's DOE figures break out power cuts by state. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Virginia -- where the outages were greatest in number -- all had more than 600,000 users affected.

In Rhode Island, where the biggest percentage of users was affected, about two-thirds of the customers had no power, or more than 280,000, the DOE said.

Utilities brought service to some customers on Monday, but said the work would take days in many areas.

Utilities spent the first hours after Irene assessing overall system damage and deciding where to send crews to restore service. Crews were already busy in storm-damaged areas on Monday. In some hard-hit areas, however, the fixes could take weeks.


Consolidated Edison said around 121,000 customers in New York City and nearby Westchester County were without power on Monday afternoon, down from around 188,000 on Sunday. The utility had plans to restore service to all customers by late Thursday.

Jersey Central Power and Light, which serves central and northern New Jersey, said 350,000 customers were still without power, down from a peak of 670,000 on Sunday. Most will be back by the weekend, and all by early next week, the company said

"There are still areas we can't get to because of flooding and debris," said Jersey Central spokesman Ron Morano, who estimated that restoring service would take several days.

In Pennsylvania, utilities estimated 90 percent of customers would be restored by the end of the day Wednesday.

In D.C. and Maryland, Pepco said it expected to restore all customers by Thursday evening. DelMarVa Power expected to have customers restored by noon Thursday. Baltimore Gas & Electric foresaw all customers restored by Saturday.

In Virginia and North Carolina, Dominion estimated at least 90 percent of affected customers would have power restored by end of day Friday.

The following table lists reports from utility companies tallied by Reuters.

(Reporting by Joshua Schneyer, Selam Gebrekidan, Eileen

O'Grady, Bernie Woodall, David Sheppard, Jeanine Prezioso, Anna

Driver, Bruce Nichols; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters


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Tunisian breaks through at US Open

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 04:30 PM PDT

Published: Tuesday August 30, 2011 MYT 7:30:00 AM

NEW YORK (AP): Malek Jaziri became the first Tunisian man to win a grand slam match Monday, defeating Thiemo de Bakker of The Netherlands 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in the opening round of the U.S. Open.

Jaziri, a qualifier ranked 184th in the world, will play American Mardy Fish in the second round.

Sharapova rallies to stay in US Open

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 04:21 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP): Third-seeded Maria Sharapova overcame a slow start to avoid a first-round upset at the U.S. Open on Monday, with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Britain's Heather Watson.

Sharapova made 58 unforced errors, dropping the first set, then letting a 4-1 lead in the second slip to 5-all. She also led 4-1 in the third, but gave back a break. After that, Sharapova broke right back then served out her match against the 19-year-old Watson, who came into the week ranked 102nd.

Watson covered the court nimbly throughout the match but eventually got overpowered by the Russian superstar, a three-time major winner, who is seeking her second U.S. Open title.

Sharapova improved her third-set record to 12-0 this year.

Results worldwide

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 03:35 PM PDT


World Athletics Championships


110m hurdles: 1. Jason Richardson (US) 13.16, 2. Liu Xiang (Chn) 13.27, 3. Andrew Turner (Bri) 13.44.

Pole vault: 1. Pawel Wojciechowski (Pol) 5.90m, 2. Lazaro Borges (Cub) 5.90m, 3. Renaud Lavillenie (Fra) 5.85m.

Hammer throw: 1. Koji Murofushi (Jpn) 81.24m, 2. Krisztian Pars (Hun) 81.18m, 3. Primoz Kozmus (Slo) 79.39m.


100m: 1. Carmelita Jeter (US) 10.90, 2. Veronica Campbell-Brown (Jam) 10.97, 3. Kelly-Ann Baptiste (Tri) 10.98.

400m: 1. Amantle Montsho (Bot) 49.56, 2. Allyson Felix (US) 49.59, 3. Anastasiya Kapachinskaya (Rus) 50.24.

Shot put: 1. Valerie Adams (Nze) 21.24m, 2. Nadzeya Ostapchuk (Blr) 20.05m, 3. Jillian Camarena-Williams (US) 20.02m.


Tour of Spain

Ninth stage (183km): 1. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo 4'52:14, 2. Bauke Mollema (Hol) Rabobank same time, 3. Juan Jose Cobo (Spa) Geox 0:03 behind, 4. Bradley Wiggins (Bri) Sky 0:04, 5. Christopher Froome (Bri) Sky 0:07, 6. Vicenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:11, 7. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis 0:12, 8. Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox, 9. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Radioshack, 10. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana all same time.

Leading overall standings: 1. Bauke Mollema (Hol) Rabobank, 37'11:17, 2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01 behind, 3. Vicenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:09, 4. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana 0:18, 5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:27, 6. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Team Katusha 0:35, 7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek 0:37, 8. Kevin Seeldrayers (Bel) QuickStep 0:42, 9. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Radioshack same time, 10. Juan Jose Cobo (Spa) Geox 0:46.


Canadian Open

Leading final round scores (US unless stated): 275: Brittany Lincicome 68-68-69-70; 276: Stacy Lewis 69-71-69-67, Michelle Wie 67-69-68-72; 277: Cristie Kerr 69-68-69-71, Angela Stanford 67-66-72-72; 278: Han Hee–won (Kor) 72-71-66-69, Jenny Shin (Kor) 67-70-71-70, Choi Na–yeon (Kor) 68-69-69-72, Shin Ji–yai (Kor) 70-67-69-72; 279: Yoo Sun–young 68-70-71-70, Kim Song-hee (Kor) 67-68-71-73; 280: Katie Futcher 69-71-71-69, Park Hee–young (Kor) 68-71-71-70, Jennifer Johnson 72-67-68-73, Tiffany Joh 70-69-65-76; 281: Becky Morgan (Bri) 69-67-70-75, Ai Miyazato (Jpn) 65-68-71-77; 282: Morgan Pressel 72-71-70-69, Mika Miyazato (Jpn) 69-72-72-69, Gerina Piller 70-66-77-69, Paula Creamer 68-68-72-74, Kris Tamulis 72-67-69-74; 283: Lee Seon–hwa (Kor) 71-65-76-71, Giulia Sergas (Ita) 71-71-69-72, Kim Mi–hyun (Kor) 67-71-73-72, Sophie Gustafson (Swe) 68-68-74-73.

Johnnie Walker Championship

Leading final round scores (British or Irish unless stated): 277: Mark Foster 66-71-68-72, George Coetzee (Rsa) 77-66-67-67, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 68-69-71-69, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 70-68-70-69, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 69-71-68-69 (Bjorn wins fifth play-off hole); 278: Stephen Gallacher 74-68-67-69, Joel Sjoholm (Swe) 70-71-69-68; 279: Victor Dubuisson 69-70-73-67, Kenneth Ferrie 68-69-73-69, Ignacio Garrido (Spa) 67-69-69-74; 281: Gary Boyd 70-71-72-68, Jaco van Zyl 68-73-72-68, Marc Warren 70-69-70-72; 282: Chris Wood 69-73-70-70, Carlos Del Moral (Spa) 72-70-69-71, Noh Seung-yul (Kor) 72-71-68-71, Simon Dyson 70-71-69-72, Magnus A Carlsson (Swe) 67-72-70-73, Peter Lawrie 68-69-71-74.


The Star Online: Business

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Oil rises on stronger consumer spending

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 06:08 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Oil prices rose Monday after the U.S. government said consumers spent more in July, easing concerns about another recession.

It was the latest in a series of reports that indicated the economy improved last month, which could strengthen demand for oil and gasoline.

Benchmark oil rose $1.90, or 2.2 percent, to finish at $87.27 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international varieties, increased 52 cents to end at $111.88 per barrel in London.

The Commerce Department said July consumer spending increased by the biggest amount in five months. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the nation's economic activity.

The report is an encouraging sign about the U.S. economy despite weak demand for gasoline, PFGBest analyst Phil Flynn said.

Energy analyst Jim Ritterbusch cautioned not to read too much into one report. A batch of economic news is expected this week that could provide a clearer picture of where the economy is headed - including unemployment numbers and manufacturing activity.

In the Northeast, there will be a bigger drop in gasoline demand over the next week or so because so many drivers filled up their tanks ahead of Hurricane Irene, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.

"It strained the system but the system will recover very, very quickly," he said.

There have been few reports of shortages at gas stations. "There should not be problems and people shouldn't worry that it's going to take forever to catch up," Kloza added. "We'll catch up in a couple of days in terms of reasonable supply."

Most refineries in the Northeast were spared significant damage from Irene. New York Harbor, a major terminal for oil and gasoline imports, also escaped damage.

ConocoPhillips said one of its refineries in New Jersey was shut down temporarily, and two Sunoco refineries in Pennsylvania were operating at reduced rates.

In other Nymex contracts, heating oil rose less than a penny to finish at $3.0173 per gallon, gasoline futures fell 1.65 cents to end at $2.7695 per gallon and natural gas fell 8.2 cents to finish at $3.830 per 1,000 cubic feet. - AP

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Italy revamps austerity plan

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 06:06 PM PDT

ROME: Premier Silvio Berlusconi and his allies on Monday revamped emergency austerity measures demanded by the European Central Bank, deciding to scrap a special tax on high earners and to spare small town governments after widespread public anger at the plans.

The premier's office said coalition leaders meeting at Berlusconi's villa near Milan came up with the new proposals - which the government insists will still amount to 45.5 billion ($65 billion) in new taxes and spending cuts and helps achieve a balanced budget by 2013.

Next week Parliament returns from vacation and starts examining the measures. The government is pressing for approval before the end of September to calm markets.

The new changes "must be approved by lawmakers within the original time frame and achieve the same overall savings," Berlusconi's office said.

The original emergency austerity measures, announced on Aug. 12 on the eve of Italy's big summer holiday, triggered deep resentment from the public and set Berlusconi's already squabbling allies bickering even more.

The political opposition, which has been struggling to find a leader charismatic enough to take on Berlusconi or his conservative successor in the next election ridiculed the government's revision of its austerity plan as an exercise in confusion.

"I don't see how they're going to balance the books," a center-left leader, Pierluigi Bersani told reporters.

"Altogether, it appears to me to be a lame solution. I hope it isn't judged too harshly by those watching us in the world," Bersani said, in an apparent reference to financial markets and ratings agencies.

Unions and business lobbies had contended that the original measures penalized honest taxpayers given widespread tax evasion by the self-employed.

Original plans called for those earning above 90,000 ($130,000) to pay an extra 5 percent income tax over the next three years, while those over 150,000 ($215,000) would pay 10 percent. Monday's huddle scrapped that in favor of cracking down on property taxes.

To make up for the shortfall, the new plan would crack down on the many Italians who own second or third homes at the sea or in the countryside and put them in relatives' names to avoid paying taxes. Citizens can own one home without paying property taxes.

Parliament's members would pay a special "solidarity" tax on their pay to help the state's coffers.

With the public resentful over high salaries and privileges for lawmakers, including chauffeured cars and sharply discounted meals in Parliament's restaurant, Berlusconi and his allies say they want to slash the number of lawmakers by 50 percent, a proposal that has been suggested many times before.

That change would start with the next election, due in 2013, assuming lawmakers make the necessary constitutional changes in time.

Particularly outraged had been citizens of towns with fewer than 1,000 citizens which would have been put out of existence by the first plan. Some towns began scrambling for ways to survive, with one enterprising place near Rome exploring the possibility of becoming a principality to escape abolishment.

Berlusconi's main coalition partner, the Northern League, which considers itself a grass-roots party, was buffeted by protests from small town League officials, worried they would lose their power base. The revised austerity plan calls for smaller town councils and eliminates pay for council members.

Italy has long debated eliminating its provincial governments and their largely duplicating functions compared to larger regions. The new plan effectively does just that, by removing state functions from provinces and giving them to regions. - AP

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Gold and silver fall as stock market rallies

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 06:05 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Metals prices closed lower Monday as increasingly confident investors move money out of hard assets and into stocks.

Gold and silver fell as the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.8 percent. Investors often buy gold as a last resort when they're fearful of holding stocks. The reverse also holds true: investors often dump gold once stocks start looking promising again.

Gold prices also fell because investment managers sold contracts to lock in gains made over the last month, said George Gero, vice president of global futures at RBC Capital Markets. Gold is still up 9.8 percent this month on fears about inflation and uncertainty over the economy.

Traders feel that gold and silver are a safer bet than stocks or currencies during times of weak economic growth. By selling appreciated gold contracts at the end of August, traders can take their profits and put them into other investments to make their portfolios look more diverse.

Gold for December delivery fell $5.70 to settle at $1,791.60 an ounce. September silver lost 40.6 cents to $40.546 per ounce.

Other metals also fell. September copper fell 1 cent to $4.089 per pound, October platinum fell $1.90 to $1,825 an ounce and September palladium dropped $2.40 to $753.95 an ounce.

While industrial metals often rise with the stock market, trading was weak in part because London exchanges were closed because of a bank holiday there. Gero said demand was higher for stocks, so metals contracts mostly stagnated in weak trading.

Grains were mixed. December wheat lost 2 cents to finish at $7.95 a bushel. December corn increased 3 cents to $7.70 a bushel and November soybeans rose 23.5 cents to $14.47 a bushel.

Oil prices rose after the government said consumers spent more in July, easing concerns about another recession. It was the latest in a series of reports that indicated the economy improved last month, which could strengthen demand for oil and gasoline.

Benchmark crude rose $1.90 to end at $87.27 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 0.15 cents to $3.0173 per gallon, gasoline fell 1.65 cents to finish at $2.7695 per gallon and natural gas lost 8.2 cents to settle at $3.83 per 1,000 cubic feet. - AP

Latest business news from AP-Wire


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PM: Govt has created new wealth and new jobs

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 06:03 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the government had come out with measures to create new wealth, continued economic growth and created highly skilled jobs for the country over the past two years.

"What we dream of is a prosperous and peaceful country in which the individuals are willing to work hard, improve skills and are committed to using every opportunity wisely to shape a continuously happy life for our future descendants," he said on Monday in his Hari Raya message.

Najib said economic giants like the United States and several European Union member countries termed as developed countries were struggling with serious financial crisis, which required rescue or "bailout."

"But Malaysia proceeds with prudent and efficient management and its economy has not only grown but has created new jobs.

"It has also been able to give half-month bonus to 1.4 million civil servants totaling RM2 bil for the Hari Raya and Independence Day celebrations," he said.

More in The Star on Tuesday

Hari Raya Aidilfitri to be celebrated Tuesday

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 05:09 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Muslims in Malaysia will celebrate Aidilfitri on Tuesday, the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal, Datuk Syed Danial Syed Ahmad, announced Monday night.

The announcement was broadcast by Radio Television Malaysia (RTM).

"In adherence to the command of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the consent of the Rulers, I hereby declare that the date for Hari Raya Puasa (Aidilfitri) has been set for Tuesday, 30 Aug 2011," he said. - Bernama

Cops to probe Mat Sabu’s alleged statement discrediting security forces

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 04:45 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The police have opened an investigation into an alleged statement made by PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu discrediting the security forces, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Khalid Abu Bakar said Monday.

He said the probe was to be conducted under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code on the making, publishing or circulating of any statement, rumour or report with the intention of causing fear or alarm to the public.

"We have received up to 49 reports on the matter so far. The (alleged) statement has alarmed the public. It has hurt members of the nation's security forces and the families of the victims of the Bukit Kepong tragedy," he told reporters after a visit to the Ops Sikap canopy at Jalan Sungai Buloh.

Mohamad Sabu was alleged to have said at a "ceramah" (talk) in Tasek Gelugor, Penang, on Aug 21 that the communist terrorists who attacked and killed 25 police personnel and their families in the Bukit Kepong tragedy in February 1950 were the real heroes because they were fighting against the British.

Mohamad Sabu was quoted as saying in the official PAS organ on Sunday that he was trying to retrieve a taped recording of his speech before taking any action over what he said could be a misinterpretation of his statement.

More in The Star on Tuesday

Related Stories:
Pakatan uses controversies to hide its flaws'
Mat Sabu's remarks an insult, says Muhyiddin


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Fly the Jalur Gemilang in true Malaysian spirit

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 04:22 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR is dazzling in red, white, yellow and blue — the main colours of the Jalur Gemilang.

Skycrapers, government buildings, utility companies, residential homes, cars, motorcycles and yes even trees and lampposts and railings have been used to drape, hang and fly the national flag — the symbol of our pride.

Go anywhere in the city and you will see how KL-ites are flying the Jalur Gemilang with pride on the roof of their homes, cars, balconies and windows.

It is indeed heartening to see such display of patriotism and love for the country. But having said that, it also sad to see how some people are indifferent to the national flag.

Some establishments are still flying torn, old and faded flags. One service provider in Old Klang Road has even put up brand new Jalur Gemilang right next to the old and faded ones it had put up last Merdeka.

In many government low-cost housing schemes in the city, new flags are placed right next to old and torn ones.

Some balconies of condominiums and low-cost flats in KL have displayed the flag right next to their undergarments.

No effort has been taken to remove the old flags. The sight of new and faded flags right next to each other seem so incongruous and inapproriate.

Is this behaviour from KL-ites a question of indifference or lack of patriotism?

Deputy Information, Communicat-ions and Culture Minister Datuk Maglin Dennis D'Cruz does not think that people are lack patriotism; "If they did not care, they would not put it up (flags) in the first place,'' said D' Cruz.

"While I don't know why they do it (don't take down the old flags) but it's definitely not lack of patriotism,'' he said. D'Cruz added that it is important that people must treat the national flag with dignity and respect and that the Jalur Gemilang should never be displayed in faded and tattered form.

In conjunction with the Merdeka celebration, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) recently launched the fly the Jalur Gemilang campaign.

KL mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail encouraged city folks to fly the national flag to show their love for the country.

Tournament may see 80,000 spectators this year

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 04:07 AM PDT

A bumper crowd is expected for the 10th edition of the Sultan of Selangor Cup football tournament at the Shah Alam Stadium on Oct 1.

Organising chairman Datuk Abdul Karim Munisar said they were anticipating a crowd of 80,000 for the annual event.

"It is going to be an entertaining event. We are working towards creating an atmosphere for the family.

"Besides performance by local artists, there will also be a parachute show as well as a lucky draw," said Abdul Karim.

Selangor's Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had initiated the event in 2001 to foster better relations between Selangor and Singapore.

Then, it was known as the Regent of Selangor Cup.

The competition was renamed the Sultan of Selangor's Cup in 2003.

The first match will be an encounter between the Selangor veterans and their Singapore counterparts while the second match will see the Selangor team taking on the Singapore selection.

Last year, the Selangor veterans beat their counterparts in a thrilling penalty shoot-out, however, the Selangor team lost to the Singapore selection.

In the match between the veterans, Selangor scored a 1-0 win over the Singapore counterpart with the winning goalcoming from former international Shahrin Majid in the last minute of the game.

However, the match between Selangor and Singapore selection was a one sided affair with the Lions romping to a 6-0 victory.

As the champions, Singapore took home RM50,000 as well as the prestigious Sultan of Selangor Cup while the Red Giants settled for RM10,000.

Abdul Karim said tickets for this year's Sultan of Selangor Cup tournament would be on sale from Sept 12.


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List of winners at MTV Video Music Awards

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 09:05 PM PDT

Here are the winners of Sunday night's 2011 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles:

Pop Music Video: Britney Spears, "Till the World Ends."

Rock video: Foo Fighters, "Walk."

Hip-hop video: Nicki Minaj, "Super Bass."

Collaboration: Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, "E.T."

Male video: Justin Bieber, "U Smile."

Female video: Lady Gaga, "Born This Way."

Video with a message: Lady Gaga, "Born This Way."

Choreography: Beyonce, "Run the World (Girls)."

Editing: Adele, "Rolling in the Deep."

Special effects: Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, "E.T."

Cinematography: Adele, "Rolling in the Deep."

Art direction: Adele, "Rolling in the Deep."

Direction: Adele, "Rolling in the Deep."

Best new artist: Tyler, The Creator, "Yonkers."

Video of the year: Katy Perry, "Firework."

Beyonce pregnancy announcement overshadows VMAs

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 08:02 PM PDT

Beyonce upstaged every performer at Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards before the show even began - she announced she and hubby Jay-Z are expecting a baby.

The soon-to-be-30 superstar arrived on the carpet holding her bulging belly while dressed in a loose-fitting, flowing red gown. MTV tweeted the news, and photos confirming her motherly status soon circulated.

Beyonce and Jay-Z have been married for three years; ever since they wed, the spawn watch has been on, with rumors of an impending announcement coming every few months.

Beyonce's announcement overshadowed the night's events, including Lady Gaga's cross-dressing performance to kick off the show.

The sunny side of Zee Avi

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 05:15 PM PDT

Zee Avi, Malaysia's songwriting pride and international talent, has reached out to the animal kingdom for her second album Ghostbird, a decidedly uplifting affair.

THERE may not exist such a feathered creature as a ghost bird, but that hasn't stopped us from philosophising mythical animals like the unicorn, dragon or leviathan. Hence, the beauty of direct translation from one language to another can never be overlooked. It has the ability to provide intrigue, humour and insult, all at the same time.

Intrigue is the case with Ghostbird, the title of Malaysian songstress Zee Avi's second album. It simply translates to burung hantu in Bahasa Malaysia ... yes, the owl. The animal kingdom was the source of inspiration this time around for the 26-year-old from Miri, Sarawak, currently based in Brooklyn, New York, and for some reason, the owl in particular. So, was it the owl's mythical wisdom or its physical ability to turn its head almost full circle that fascinates Zee?

"That's quite cool," she cackled on the phone during a recent interview from her American home-base to the question posed. "I guess more in the mythological sense because everyone who knows me, knows that sometimes, I'm a little too abstract for my own good. I know it sounds pretentious, but it's true," she continued, giggling.

While Zee has become a bona fide star to her home fans, her detractors have been a fair many, too, with some quarters of the press labelling her arrogant and devoid of her roots. It's strange though that the young woman at the other end of the line is in the greatest spirits, in no hurry to make disparaging comments about anything and continues to have intimate knowledge of Bahasa Malaysia (her "Apa khabar?" firmly intact at the start of the interview), a distinct contrast to the supposed reputation she earned recently.

In the two years her self-titled debut was jointly-released on Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records and Ian Monotone's Monotone Label, Zee's free spirit has wandered from major music festivals (Austin, Texas' South By Southwest; San Francisco, California's Outside Lands and Manchester, Tennessee's Bonnaroo music and arts festivals) to huge tours (the last Lilith Fair last year) and back to her homeland of Sarawak.

The proverbial tale of Zee's headstart as a YouTube sensation is firmly consigned to the history books now and the challenge that looms largest for the pint-sized singer is avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump.

But Zee is as self-assured as a cat, always prepared to land on her feet, regardless of public opinion.

Making music, making magic

"There seems to be a basic human need to see others fall, but I have little regard for that. I'm a musician and all that matters to me is my music," confirmed the singer firmly.

Rather than let her new album be "more of the same thing, but not quite as good", Zee has gone out on a limb to tap into her inner being and sought pastures anew to guarantee Ghostbird a decidedly different take on the album-making process.

"There's a massive difference. The first record was written in my bedroom and this one was written on a boat no bigger than a sampan (row boat). This was written on the ocean in Florida, so there you go," she offered humorously.

The instrumentation on her new album, also released on vinyl, has gained weight: there's a bit of piano, synthy soundscapes and even vocal samples. Likewise the vocal production, compared to her eponymous debut.

"I'm a vocal artiste and with that comes different spirits and different characters to what I do. You're channelling a person's story, so this is a story of a different way of looking at things."

Three years separate her debut and this new one, so Zee has naturally grown since, even if not vertically, and she has no problems plotting the course of her development in that time.

"There's a saying that it takes a lifetime to make your first album but only a year to make your second. Since my debut, I've seen so many things, met many different people, experienced different emotions and grew different mindsets. Ghostbird is more about keen observations on what influenced this path," she set the record straight.

While in Florida, Zee spent time in the marshes of the Everglades, right smack amidst the flora, fauna, the vastness of the locale and large confluence of water. Does having been that close to nature allow her to choose a favourite animal? Is she a gator person, then?

"Yes, I'm a gator person ... I come from Sarawak, man," she squealed in delight. "It's all about Bujang Senang (an infamous man-eating crocodile in Sarawak that was killed in 1992 in the Pelaban river after decades of terror)," she offered with a hearty laugh.

A different view

Ghostbird catches Zee stretching out and trying different things, like the song The Book Of Morris Johnson, for example. The tune was inspired by a Floridian folk artiste Morris Johnson, whose paintings of animals and accompanying text about their instinctual lives "capture naivete, innocence and enthusiasm," according to Zee.

After picking up a few of his works at an art exhibition, she called him up and said that she'd like to turn his words into song, thrilling not only the man, but his daughter – a big Zee fan – as well.

"For me, Morris Johnson is the second coming," she enthused, insisting that one has to meet him to understand.

"He's not a man of many words but there's something very intriguing about him. His presence ... he's like this very seasoned old artiste. He'll go out on little adventures and go looking for little artefacts with his friends. He's an otai (old timer), lah," she revealed.

It was Johnson's positive message that attracted Zee's attention.

"It's more than just about animals. It's about having a positive outlook in any given situation, like ... 'the gator grinned as he dreamed of his next meal'. Where other people would picture the gator as a vicious carnivorous animal, the gator was in fact put on this Earth to be this kind of creature, and he's smiling because he's thinking of what to eat next."

Two weeks was all it took for Zee to commit Ghostbird (all of 11 tracks) to tape at her boss' Solar Powered Plastic Plant studios in Los Angeles where producer Mario Caldato Jr (of Beastie Boys, Tone Loc, Super Furry Animals and Bebel Gilberto fame) directed the proceedings with a watchful eye.

Zee is full of praise for the Brazilian-born producer, professing his coolness, especially with his vocabulary, which still contains archaic terminology like "fly" and "dope".

"Working with him was such an amazing marriage. It was a great collaboration because he was able to enhance my ideas, execute and polish them ... he made all my stories shine. He added the right colours, the right vibe and the right atmosphere to them all."

Staying rooted

The new album sees Zee getting in touch with her homeland, courtesy of the song Siboh Kitak Nangis, which contrary to popular belief, is not her attempt to justify her Malaysian or Sarawakian credentials.

"I've always wanted to write a song in my dialect ever since I started writing songs. It had to be the right situation, for the right reasons and for the right time, so I guess it's found the right place and I'm just glad it's happened now," she explained, insisting that this is a blueprint from a long time ago. "Trust me, I have no ulterior motive," she quipped.

Although the ukelele is her weapon of choice, she was also handy with a piano and ... sea shells?

"I played some piano on a song called Anchor but the ukelele has become my primary instrument because it was easier to carry on the boat when I was writing the songs. I played guitar, I did vocal samples, I played sea shells ... and I happen to take it very seriously," she teased. She has also lined up a sape version of Tomorrow Is A Long Time for an upcoming Bob Dylan tribute album in the US.

Anchor is one of the handful of songs that made the album from Zee's New York writing sessions and also what she refers to as a "premonition track", and another NYC cut, Concrete Wall, is a striking a cappella featuring the contributions of turntable guru Cut Chemist. The vocal samples on this one echo like they're bouncing off a ... yes, concrete wall.

In early 2008, Zee left Malaysia to pursue a career in music in Los Angeles before heading to New York, making the Big Apple a permanent career base. Ghostbird follows her self-titled debut, which was released two years ago. It achieved gold status here with over 10,000 units sold, spawning the hits Bitterheart and Kantoi.

In an entertainment world that hungers for youth, the singer is convinced that she could still be doing this past the age of 45.

"People still think I'm 16, so as long as that stays that way, I guess I'm fine. But even if the situation changes, I'd be more than happy with the past. I'm sure something else will be around the corner. This is my mission and I'm out to do it."

In fact, it's Brushfire Records' faith in her that allows her to hang on to her beliefs.

"Brushfire is an independent label and for them to invest that faith in me, being the first and only female artiste on the label, I think that's saying a lot. I'm pretty happy about being part of this small, cosy family."

With Ghostbird now available, Zee hopes to get back to touring once again, and of particular interest is the chance to return to her native Sarawak to perform. She got a taste of what to expect in March when she performed and accepted an International Youth Icon Award at the 2011 Youth Assembly in Kuching.

Particularly satisfying for her was receiving the accolade from her home state.

"And also, I got to go home for a bit, and technically, it was my first show in the motherland, even if it was just one song. It was nice to be reminded that I come from this warm, welcoming and accommodating place ... I was constantly overwhelmed by it and it was hard to hold back the tears at times," she shared excitedly.

Never one to embrace convention, Zee's Ghostbird promotional plans are unique, to say the least. Her online Pledge Music Campaign entitles early bird fans to special merchandise.

"Basically it's to raise money for my tour. It's more interactive in terms of promotion, so if people get my record a day earlier, for example, they'll be privy to my artwork, decorated ukuleles or passes to my shows."

Zee also heads out on festival tours, gracing the Pop Festival in Philadelphia (she's excited to be on the same bill as pop outfit The Shins) and Massachusetts' Life Is Good Festival, where she'll be playing alongside the Robert Randolph Family Band and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Of course, of primary concern is a set of shows here in Malaysia, particularly her beloved Sarawak. Naturally, any visit home is a mouth-watering prospect. A November concert in KL, coinciding with a regional jaunt, has been talked about by her management.

"I can't wait to eat roti canai tambah sambal and my mother's Sarawak Laksa, too," she reminisced on what she hasn't had in a while.

Album opener Swell Window kicked off this most recent journey, and Zee just wants to run off and take it to her listening audience at her shows. "I want people to feel they're being hugged," she said of the balmy tune. "I think this is my swell window right now."

Zee Avi's Ghostbird is released by Universal Music Malaysia.


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Unique class reunion

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 07:35 PM PDT

MALACCA: Two medical doctors were in attendance but no consultation or medical advice was sought.

A few lawyers present expressed their views but not about legislation.

Half a dozen teachers attended roll call but rendered no lessons.

A few bankers, engineers, corporate executives and the rest all blue collar workers were also in the mix.

At no time did professional and personal status or standing in community was brought into focus.

All this spoke well of forty three students and teachers of Malacca's Gajah Berang Secondary English School (GBSES) Class of 1978 Fifth formers who banded together enthusiastically in reunion.

All catching up with one another whom they had not met for some thirty years.

Two interesting aspects came about which held much surprise and spontaneous and heartfelt gratitude.

The oldest reunion participant was 73 year-old Wong Non Chin who taught most of the former senior students while they were in primary school.

On getting wind of the reunion through an announcement in StarMetro's Metro Watch, he rang up reunion organising committee chairperson Peter Chung and insisted on keeping the date no matter what.

Peter on his part sprang a fine gesture.

As manager of a local engraving company, he crafted special gold plated pewter based coin-like souvenir momentos which were given to all who turned up from all over Malaysia, Singapore including a handful from Australia and New Zealand.

Suitably worded to reflect the spirit of the occasion complete with the embossing of the GBSES crest, the former fifth formers gladly pledged to meet up again in 2016 when most of them would be catching up or in the midst of retirement years.

The dinner gathering began with a minute's silence for those mates who had passed. Once the reunion and consumption of food and drinks wore on, true friendship, strong bonding and great camaraderie were the characteristics that stood out foremost.

Comparing receding hairlines, sagging jowls and spreading midriff,

seemed to be the order of the night as mates swapped and recounted memories, adventures and stories of those bygone years.

Said Peter aptly "For many of us, it was the first meeting in some thirty years. All of us at the gathering, in our fifties were at one time or another in the same class as we went through primary and secondary school level education at Tengkera English School (TES) and GBSES respectively between 1960 and 1978.

It was in the primary school days when we as young pupils bonded together regardless of race, religion or creed. It also spelt a time where firm and lasting friendships were made either in the classrooms, canteen or the sports field or during school excursions.

All this have stood the test of time and the reunion was one compete success as it truly reflected our perceptions in life.

Telco donates laptops and PCs to the needy

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 07:33 PM PDT

KUANTAN: Telco company, DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (DiGi) donated desktop computers and laptops together with free Internet connection to the underprivileged here recently.

It was part of the company's "Internet for All" initiative during the fasting month and festive season of Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

The company presented five units of desktop computers to Tengku Ampuan Fatimah Children's Home and a unit of HP Notebook with DiGi Internet modems each to four community rehabilitation centres (PDK).

The centres were PDK Tunas Sri Teruntum, PDK Pengkalan Udara of Kem Batu 10, PDK PPOC Paya Besar and PDK Pejabat Kampung Tiram.

DiGi's corporate affairs director Zaiton Idrus said their aim was to ensure that Malaysians from all walks of life were able to enjoy Internet connection which had unlimited access to information.

"Contributions such as these are important as they can keep up with the pace of technological advancements that provides access to information and education.

"We also hope that the gifts will bring joy to them especially in the coming Hari Raya celebration,'' she said here recently.

She added that the children would be encouraged to learn about modern technology and have access to online learning tools that could help them be better prepared for exams.

Zaiton also said DiGi had set aside 70 laptops and 10 desktop computers complete with DiGi's broadband connectivity worth about RM150,000 to be distributed nationwide.

The company had already distributed the items to 16 orphanages and PDKs in Kuantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Johor.

Nasom having food fair to raise funds

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 07:33 PM PDT

KUANTAN: The National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom) is organising a charity food fair aimed at raising funds to manage its centre here in Jalan Teluk Sisek on Oct 1 from 10am until 3pm.

Centre coordinator Mimi Suraya Anuar said the Kuantan Nasom requires an operating budget of RM100,000 annually.

She added that fees collected from its members were insufficient

"The fees collected are lower than RM80,000.

"Nasom has to depend on well wishers and sponsors to cover the shortfall and hope that the food fair will be able to raise enough fund to help ease the centre's financial burden," she said.

Mimi Suraya added that the centre was set up in 2005 with six students and the number had grown to 28 children aged 4 to 13.

The centre, she said, has seven teachers and two therapists.

"Besides providing early intervention programmes, the centre also provides occupational therapy and sensory integration therapy to children with autism and other learning disabilities," she added.

Mimi Suraya hoped that the public would support Nasom's good cause be it cash or kind.

She added that cash donation are tax exempted as stipulated under Section 44(6) of the Income Tax Act 1976.

For further details, call the Kuantan Nasom at 09-567 1070.


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