Sabtu, 3 September 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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Renewed fighting, refugees in south of Sudan

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 09:03 PM PDT

JUBA (Reuters) - Seventeen people were killed in fighting between Sudan's army and rebels aligned to South Sudan in a Sudanese state on the border with the newly independent south, the official news agency SUNA said on Saturday.

Up to 3,000 people fled armed clashes in the region, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) reported, calling for an immediate halt to fighting to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Analysts say Sudan's government in Khartoum is trying to strike against the rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states before they become a serious political and military threat. The fighting risks drawing South Sudan into a proxy war.

The Sudanese government has accused the south's dominant Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) of being behind the violence in Blue Nile and South Kordofan. The SPLM-North, the movement's branch in Sudan, has blamed Khartoum.

Ali Abdel-Latif, an SPLM-North official, told Reuters that Khartoum security officials informed the group the government was banning its activities in Sudan. "They asked us not to practice any political work in the name of the SPLM," he said.

He said security forces had also taken control of SPLM-North's main offices in Khartoum.

There was no immediate official comment from Khartoum.

SUNA said 17 people were killed and 14 wounded in the fighting in South Kordofan, but gave no further details.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan -- at the time Africa's largest country -- six years after a ceasefire that ended decades of civil war between north and south. South Sudan denies Khartoum's accusations that it is supporting the rebels.

SPLM-North battled alongside the South in the civil war but its areas of influence remained north of the border after separation in July. The oil-producing south voted to split from the north in a January referendum promised in a 2005 peace deal, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

"Both the ruling National Congress Party and the SPLM-North are signatories (to the peace deal) so we don't expect them to turn to armed hostilities," South Sudan's information minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, told Reuters.

"We urge them to go back to the CPA and the popular consultations for resolving the issue."

Sudan's information minister, Kamal Mohamed Obeid, said South Sudan was involved in the violence.

During the popular consultations people from Blue Nile overwhelmingly asked for autonomy from Khartoum. The consultations were never held in Southern Kordofan.

Qamar Dalman, an official with the South Kordofan branch of the SPLM, told Reuters that about 14 government soldiers were killed during the clashes in South Kordofan.

"All the civilians had fled the area and the ones who were killed were from the government, not civilians," Dalman told Reuters by telephone.

In Blue Nile, clashes and Sudanese air strikes on Friday forced many people to flee, UNHCR spokesman Peter de Clerq said.

"Between 2,500 and 3,000 people crossed into Ethiopia yesterday morning but the number will have gone up since then," he said.

"In (the town of) al-Damazin there was serious fighting yesterday but we're not sure how many people have left. We understand that significant numbers of people are trying to leave al-Damazin."


UNHCR chief António Guterres appealed for an immediate halt to the hostilities amid reports of escalating displacement.

"We need, at all costs, to stop yet one more refugee crisis in a region of the world that has been witnessing in recent months so much suffering," said Guterres in a statement after visiting conflict and famine-ridden Somalia.

Yasir Arman, secretary-general of the SPLM's northern branch, said eight people had been killed in al-Damazin including two women, a child and four SPLM-N members.

"Many SPLM-North were arrested in al-Damazin and we're not sure of their fate. We're worried because all those who were arrested in South Kordofan were slaughtered by security agents," he said.

Last week international rights groups said witnesses saw Sudanese government soldiers and militia shoot people in the streets and carry out both house-to-house searches and stops at checkpoints using lists of names of SPLM supporters in the South Kordofan state capital Kadugli and other areas.

Some analysts believe the SPLM-North is now politically isolated and needs partners in order to sustain its rebellion.

"(The SPLM-North) are now a rebel group. The only way for them to survive is through insurgency and rebellion until they can negotiate a political settlement," Fouad Hikmat of the International Crisis Group told Reuters.

"They need to sustain this rebellion and therefore need partners in the neighbourhood -- South Sudan and Ethiopia."

The Sudan government declared a state of emergency in Blue Nile state on Friday and said it was replacing elected governor Malik Agar, who is a member of SPLM-North, with a military ruler, SUNA said.

(Additional reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum; Writing by Amena Bakr and Edmund Blair in Cairo; Editing by Karolina Tagaris)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Strauss-Kahn arrives at New York's Kennedy airport

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 09:03 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn prepared to leave the United States on Saturday for the first time since his May 14 arrest on charges, since dropped, that he sexually assaulted a hotel maid in New York.

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn carries his luggage to a van from his New York residence as he heads to JFK Airport in New York September 3, 2011. He and his wife Anne Sinclair are headed back to France. (REUTERS/ Mark Dye)

Strauss-Kahn was seen leaving his luxury rental apartment in lower Manhattan on Saturday afternoon with his wife Anne Sinclair and arriving by car at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Last month, prosecutors took the rare step of requesting dismissal of the charges after they discovered contradictions in the account of the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, a 32-year-old immigrant from Guinea.

A New York judge dropped all criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn on Aug. 23, leaving him free to return to France -- where he was once seen as a leading candidate for the French presidency -- and rebuild his shattered career.

The decision ended a case that brought three months of sordid headlines on both sides of the Atlantic.

Strauss-Kahn strongly denied sexual assault from the start. His lawyer Benjamin Brafman told Reuters in an interview after charges were dropped: "This encounter was quick, it was consensual and she was a willing participant."

Strauss-Kahn, who led the International Monetary Fund through the 2007-09 global financial meltdown, resigned from the IMF on May 18.

The charismatic diplomat was pulled from an Air France first-class seat by police 10 minutes before it was to take off for Paris and thrown into New York City's Rikers Island jail on charges of attempted rape.

But the case began to fall apart after prosecutors said Diallo had lied repeatedly.

Strauss-Kahn still faces a civil case brought by Diallo and an accusation of attempted rape by a woman 30 years his junior in France.

He has promised to offer the French an explanation when he returns.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

New Orleans braces for Tropical Storm Lee

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 09:03 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - New Orleans, devastated by Hurricane Katrina six years ago, faced a new threat on Saturday from Tropical Storm Lee, which was set to challenge the city's flood defenses with an onslaught of heavy rain.

Jeannie Breuer and her husband George walk by the Mississippi River as Tropical Storm Lee slowly makes landfall in New Orleans, Louisiana September 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Dan Anderson)

The storm was expected to bring up to 20 inches (51 cm) of rain to southeast Louisiana over the next few days, including to low-lying New Orleans, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Lee's tidal surge could spur coastal flooding in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama before drenching a large swath of the Southeast and Appalachian regions next week.

The slow-moving storm has bedeviled forecasters. Lee's winds weakened on Saturday night as it meandered northward toward the marshy Louisiana coast at 4 miles (6 kph), after stalling for several hours in the afternoon.

The center of Lee was 50 miles (75 km) west-southwest of Morgan City, with maximum winds of 50 mph (85 kph), the hurricane center said. Lee's winds were expected to stay well below the 74-mph (119-kph) threshold of hurricane strength as the storm crawls ashore on Saturday evening.

New Orleans' extensive levee system has pumped away about 8 inches (20 cm) of rain so far, with isolated reports of flooding in roads and homes. The system can process about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of rainfall per hour, but the storm's slow-moving nature remained a worry, officials said.

"We are not out of the woods," Mayor Mitch Landrieu told a news briefing, noting that hurricane-force gusts had been logged at City Hall. "This storm is moving painfully slow."

The prospect of flooding in low-lying New Orleans evoked memories of Hurricane Katrina, which flooded 80 percent of the city, killed 1,500 people and caused more than $80 billion in damage in 2005. Half the city lies below sea level and is protected by a system of levees and flood gates.

Slivers of sunshine in the afternoon brought some tourists out and drew grumbles from some local businesses that advance reports on Lee may have been overdone.

But Landrieu said stormy conditions could continue for the next 36 hours, warning, "Don't go to sleep on this storm."

No injuries or deaths were reported in Louisiana, but rough waters off Galveston Island in Texas led to the drowning death of a 34-year-old man, an island official said.

The storm could also bring heavy rains and flooding to Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle as it creeps eastward over the U.S. Labor Day holiday weekend.


Low-lying parishes around New Orleans saw rising waters, which covered some roadways in Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes, but no homes or businesses were threatened. Some residents in Jefferson Parish were ordered to evacuate.

Periodic breaks in the rainfall allowed the city's giant pumps to catch up with the water flow and clear standing water, said Jefferson Parish President John Young.

"Everything looks good," Young told local television. "The pumps are keeping up with the water. We are getting some street flooding."

About 14,000 houses were without electrical power due to the storm, according to utility Entergy Corp.

Over 60 percent of U.S. offshore oil production, all based in the Gulf of Mexico, and nearly 55 percent of offshore gas production were shut as of Friday, according to the U.S. government. Most of that output should quickly return once the storm passes.

Major offshore producers like Royal Dutch Shell , Exxon Mobil Corp and BP Plc shut down platforms and evacuated staff earlier this week.

Shell and Anadarko Petroleum Corp started to return workers to offshore platforms in the western Gulf of Mexico on Saturday.

Low-lying refineries in Louisiana that collectively account for 12 percent of U.S. refining capacity were watching the storm closely, but reported no disruptions.

ConocoPhillips' 247,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Alliance, Louisiana, 25 miles (40 km) south of New Orleans, was operating normally as Lee moved overhead, the company said.

In the open Atlantic, Hurricane Katia weakened to a tropical storm on Saturday and was forecast to wobble back and forth between hurricane and tropical storm strength far from land, the hurricane center said.

(Additional reporting by Erwin Seba and Deborah Quinn Henselin Houston and Jane Sutton in Miami;Writing by Chris Baltimore; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters


The Star Online: Business

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PKT into total logistics

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 10:34 PM PDT

TOTAL logistics service provider PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd's sprawling RM160mil state-of-the art centre called the "one logistics hub" in Shah Alam which spans over 27 acres is a far cry from its humble beginnings as a customs broker operating out of a simple two-storey link house in the mid-70s.

PKT was established by Datuk Tio Sook Keo and was originally called Port Klang Trading in 1974. In 1996, Tio's son Datuk Michael Tio (PKT group chief executive and managing director) who was studying and working in Britain returned to Malaysia to take over the reins of the business from his father.

"When I came back to Malaysia, I realised that companies here (in Malaysia) did not provide one-stop logistics services, unlike in other countries such as Japan or in Europe.

"With that, I set out to change the way this company operated to offer total logistics services," says Michael.

A self-proclaimed admirer of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's "Look East Policy," Michael looked to countries such as Japan and South Korea to expand PKT's business.

What are PhDs good for?

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 10:31 PM PDT

UNIVERSITIES award bachelors and masters degrees in different areas of learning, but regardless of the starting point, the apex of academic training is the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. So when I am asked what my doctorate is in, I would say "philosophy". This would be followed by an awkward silence before we change to a more comfortable topic of conversation.

It is awfully difficult to talk about philosophy, and the modern degree of PhD is not about classical philosophy. While watching an old movie The Wizard of Oz with my granddaughter, it dawned on me that The Wizard of Oz had the answer. In the movie, the wizard reacts to the scarecrow's desire for a brain by explaining that the brain is actually a very mediocre commodity every living creature has one. What the scarecrow really needed, and which the wizard grants, is the degree of ThD or Doctor of Thinkology. Voila! Thinkology the art and science of thinking that is surely what the PhD degree is all about.

Ordinary thinking is what every creature does, each in its own way. But the thinking that goes into becoming a Doctor of Philosophy is very different. What a PhD candidate does is to select a topic for research, and proceed to work on it in an organised and disciplined way. The end product will be a thesis, which would be a new book on the topic. Up to the level of Bachelors, or even Masters, one acquires knowledge from books written by other people, but in a PhD programme, the candidate writes a book for others to use. To emerge from a lifetime of reading books to writing one's own book requires a metamorphosis, like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly, but it would be an intellectually traumatic experience. Many candidates burn out in the process.

The candidate cannot simply copy what is in other books. That would be plagiarism and a plagiarist faces total disgrace if found out. The PhD candidate has to become totally familiar with the present state of knowledge of the topic by immersing himself or herself in what has been published about it, but in a critical way questioning previous interpretations and assumptions and re-evaluating the evidence. At the same time, the candidate looks for new evidence or generates new data by experiment. Finally the candidate has to write a book to make all previous books on the topic obsolete.

The topic of a PhD thesis is not as important as the critical thinking skill that is acquired. Its aim is to generate more knowledge about the topic. Whether this results in solving a problem is secondary. It is assumed that by generating more knowledge on a topic, other benefits will follow.

Now and then, an Einstein produces a thesis that revolutionises the state of knowledge of an entire topic, but in most cases, a successful thesis is merely the starting point of a career in disciplined thinking, provided that the new Doctor of Philosophy is employed in a university, a research organisation or a think-tank, where he or she can continue to do disciplined thinking.

It is not necessary to have a PhD degree to be a disciplined thinker but for employment in an intellectual or academic position, the PhD has become the normal requirement. But how do we know if PhDs are doing what they are paid to do? The only way is to enforce a publication rule. Under this mechanism, people employed to think have to show proof by publishing their work as "papers" in peer-reviewed journals. Peer-review means that the editor of the journal will send each submitted paper to at least two persons known to be knowledgeable in the topic, for review. The submitted paper is examined like a mini-thesis: it has to be original (not a rehash of previous work), and it must significantly contribute to new understanding of its topic. Only papers that pass peer review get published. A productive average rate of publication for a serious researcher is two papers a year.

Once a paper is published, the title of the paper and its contents, together with the names of the authors and their institutional affiliations (institute and country) are captured in global databases. The papers that attract attention would be referred to "in citation" by other scientists, and all such citations are captured in global databases. This has made it possible to keep track of the number of times each paper is cited after its publication, to provide a measure of the impact that each and every paper makes on the global intellectual community.

By tracking the number of times an author is cited, one can get a measure of the impact that the author has made. Such information is used to analyse the performance of authors. It is often used in making decisions on appointments, salary increments, promotions and terminations.

Scholarly journals are themselves ranked every year by the frequency of citation of the papers they publish. The ranking of journals, usually announced in June, is anxiously awaited by editors to see how they have performed from year to year. Editors strive to improve their journal ratings by imposing higher standards on the papers they publish. It is the editors who enforce and manage the peer-review process.

The body of data on publications and citations, sometimes in combination with other indicators, is also used to rank universities, and such ranking has become an annual global affair.

In 2004, in an interesting and innovative use of publication databases, Sir David King, chief scientific advisor to the British Government ranked countries according to their output of scientific papers. He found that 31 countries produced over 97% of the worlds' output of scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. These are the developed western countries, with the United States in the lead. Of the non-western countries, Japan and Russia are prominent in the list. Of developing countries, China, Brazil and India moved into the top 31 recently. China is showing the fastest rate of growth in number of papers published, but in quality, as measured by citation rate, it is still far below United States. Nevertheless, the rise of China, Brazil and India confirms the close linkage between economic growth and scientific performance, first observed in the rise of Western Europe during the Industrial Revolution, followed by the rise of US, Japan and Russia. The remaining 162 countries including Malaysia contributed a combined total of only 2.5% to the growth of scientific activity in the world.

Through the global tracking of publications, made possible by powerful computers, intellectual activity has become open, measurable, and thereby manageable. The main tool of management is the application of the rule "Publish or Perish". An academic community that has never been subjected to this rule will strongly resist attempts to apply it. This is the challenge that Malaysian institutions face.

Botanist and researcher Francis Ng is the former deputy director-general of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia. He is now the botanical consultant to Bandar Utama City Centre Sdn Bhd and the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre.

UK struggles to check inflation

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 07:46 PM PDT

LONDON: The Bank of England will struggle to return inflation to target due to its failure to raise interest rates, hawkish former policymaker Andrew Sentance told Reuters.

Sentance, whose term on the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) expired in May, warned that high inflation was damaging the BoE's credibility, and added that a further round of quantitative easing would not boost sluggish growth.

"I think the MPC over a period of time will struggle to keep inflation at target. It will be above target and that will be a problem over the medium term," he said in an interview with Reuters Insider television conducted on Thursday.

British inflation has been at least a percentage point above its 2% target since January 2010, and the BoE itself forecasts inflation will hit 5% later this year.

Sentance said his policy stance had not changed since he left the MPC, and that he still believed interest rates should rise, despite financial market turmoil and signs of a global economic slowdown in the intervening three months.

"While we do need relatively loose (monetary) policy ... we don't necessarily need monetary policy as loose as at the depths of the crisis,' he said.

"I don't think that financial markets and the policy debate have moved on far enough from the world where we were in 2008 and 2009. If we continue in this fire-fighting mode that in itself will undermine confidence," he continued.

The central bank is not expected to raise interest rates from record lows of 0.5% until next October at the earliest, a Reuters poll found this week.

The other two BoE policymakers who supported higher interest rates while Sentance was on the MPC, Spencer Dale and Martin Weale, dropped this call last month, and there has been growing speculation that the central bank could embark on a second round of asset purchases.

But Sentance said that supply side reforms were needed to boost growth, and thought more QE could be counterproductive in boosting corporate morale.

It is not going to make businesses think. "Wow, I must go out and undertake that investment," he said.

BoE governor Mervyn King has defended keeping interest rates steady in the face of rising inflation by saying that higher CPI was due to one-off factors, and pointing out that the MPC's mandate also called on it to avoid economic volatility.

Sentence said the MPC had stretched the latter argument to breaking point.

"I think the MPC has overused this flexibility and is in danger of stretching the credibility of the inflation target." Reuters


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Malaysia play second fiddle to Asian champs Pakistan again

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 06:31 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia again had to play second fiddle to Pakistan after losing 2-3 in their opening Asian Champions Trophy match at the Yijinhuoluo Hockey Stadium in Ordos, China, yesterday.

This was the third time in 10 months that Pakistan have beaten Malaysia. They did it last November at the Guangzhou Asian Games to win the gold medal (2-0) and then again at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (3-2) in May.

Malaysia led twice yesterday but failed to hold on to their lead and were sunk by a 63rd minute goal.

Coach Tai Beng Hai's men took a fourth-minute lead through a Mohd Amin Rahim penalty stroke but Pakistan equalised through national junior Abdul Asim Khan's field attempt in the 22nd minute.

Amir Farid then marked his senior team debut with a field goal in the 31st minute, only for Pakistan's Mohd Imran to flick in a penalty corner goal a minute later.

The came the late blow as Malaysia conceded a penalty stroke with just seven minutes remaining. Pakistan assistant skipper Shakeel Abbasi converted it to give the Asian champions their opening victory in the inaugural tournament.

In an earlier match, South Korea warmed up for their match against Malaysia today with a 3-2 win over Japan.

India also got off to a winning start, routing China 5-0. It was also India's first match under new Australian coach Michaell Nobbs.

Jacqueline gets into medal position in singles event

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 06:30 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Teenage debutant Jacqueline Jenelee Sijore put a big smile on national chief coach Holloway Cheah's face yesterday.

The steely 19-year-old Jacque­line bowled like a real pro to put herself in a medal position in the women's singles event on a glorious opening day for Malaysia in the Women's World Cham­pionships in Hong Kong.

The Sarawakian lass blazed the lanes with lines of 266-279-267-258-202-214 for a whopping six-game total of 1,486 pins to top the chart in Squad B.

She is now second in the overall standings – just 10 pins short of Squad A leader Son Yun-hee of South Korea, who downed 1,496 pins.

Jacqueline is the only Malaysian in the running for the medals after three others – Sharon Koh, Sin Li Jane and Esther Cheah – struggled to stay within the top 10 on the opening day in both the Squad A and Squad B actions.

Zandra Aziela Ibrahim Hakimi and Zatil Iman Abdul Ghani will be in action in Squad C today and hopes are high that the duo wil get off to a flying start as well.

Only the top fours bowlers after the completion of all three squads – A, B and C – will get to play in a knockout semi-final round.

The top seed will play the fourth-ranked bowler while the second and third seeds will square off in another elimination match.

The winners will then face each other to determine the singles champion.

Esther won the singles gold at the world meet in 2005 in Aalborg while Wendy Chai bagged a bronze medal at the following series in Mexico in 2007.

Malaysian bowlers returned home empty-handed from the last edition in Las Vegas two years ago.

An elated Jacqueline said: "I surprised myself with the way I bowled here.

"I gave it my all and just played my game ... and it all turned out nicely. I hope to qualify for the semi-finals and bag Malaysia's first medal." Holloway too is keeping his fingers crossed that Jacqueline will be in the final four.

"I am happy for Jacqueline as she bowled really well. I've never doubted her although this is her first world meet. To me, she is already an experienced and good bowler," said Holloway in a telephone interview.

"Hopefully, she can stay in the top four with one more squad to go. This long oil lane condition is suitable for high scoring games and, hopefully, no one from the final squad will dislodge her. She deserves a medal for all her hard work.

"The others – Esther, Li Jane and Sharon are not there among the top pack but they did not do too badly either," added Holloway, who hopes they will grow in strength in the doubles event next.

Ivanovic tops Stephens in straight sets at US Open

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 06:26 PM PDT

Published: Sunday September 4, 2011 MYT 9:26:00 AM

NEW YORK (AP): Ana Ivanovic beat American teenager Sloane Stephens in straight sets Saturday to reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open.

The 16th-seeded Serb won 6-3, 6-4. and will next face Serena Williams. Ivanovic has never been past the fourth round of the U.S. Open.

There were 10 breaks of serve in 19 games in the match. The former world No. 1 made the most of her opportunities, converting 6 of 7 break points, to overcome 26 unforced errors.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Historical epic film gets rare honor in Taiwan

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 08:34 PM PDT

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP): Taiwanese director Wei Te-sheng will lead scores of aboriginal actors to attend a gala premiere in Taipei of his historical epic "Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale."

The epic about a 1930 aboriginal uprising against Taiwan's Japanese rulers is currently up for best feature film at the Venice Film Festival.

The Taipei premiere will be held Sunday at a square facing the Presidential Office Building in honor of the island's first epic film production in decades.

Speaking to reporters in Venice on Friday, Wei said the film's nomination shows "arts and culture can have a greater power than politics."

The comments are seen as a mild criticism over the Venice festival's listing of the film as coming from Taiwan, China - a reference that makes the self-governed, democratic island seem like it comes under Beijing's rule.


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Refunds for study loan borrowers

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 04:18 AM PDT

TEMERLOH: Borrrowers who obtained study loans after 2008 will get a refund if they opt to convert their 3% administration charge to 1% under the ujrah scheme.

National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) chairman Datuk Ismail Mohamad Said said however, this would not apply to four categories of borrowers: those who have changed their course of study, obtained loans from other sponsors, have had legal action taken against them or have already settled their loans in full.

"The reduction will reduce the burden by borrowers.

"Borrowers also need not pay back the loan if they graduate with first class honours as the loans would automatically become scholarships.

"Some people think that the 1% or 3% is interest but it is actually strictly for our administration cost,'' Ismail said after he hosted a Hari Raya open-house in his Kuala Krau constituency in Kampong Peragap, here Saturday.

He said only 800,00 borrowers who have not settled their loans by June 1, 2008 are eligible to have their loans converted to the Islamic loan system of ujrah.

"Others, are not eligible as they belong to the four categories of borrowers mentioned,'' he said.

However, he said, they could till appeal for the 1% administration charges and are given 90 days from the beginning of this month.

On Friday, PTPTN announced plans to convert 800,000 conventional study loans to the ujrah scheme. Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the conversion was applicable to all borrowers and not limited to Muslims.

Aid mission members reach Mogadishu airport safely, leave Somalia

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 03:09 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Members of the humanitarian aid mission to famine-struck Somalia made it safely to Mogadishu airport on Saturday and have boarded the plane with the body of BernamaTV cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor who was killed by a stray bullet on Friday.

The plane will stop at Seychelles and Maldives before heading for Malaysia, Astro Awani reporter Tan Su Lin said by telephone from Mogadishu airport. She is a member of the mission's media team.

The plane is expected to land in Malaysia at about 9.30am on Sunday

Cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor, 39, was killed Friday by a stray bullet when shots were fired at a government army truck accompanying a vehicle carrying Malaysian media personnel covering the Putera 1Malaysia Club humanitarian aid mission here.

Noramfaizul, who had joined the Malaysian national news agency in 2002, leaves behind a wife Norazrina Jaafar, 37, and two sons Mohd Irfan, 8, and Mohd Naufal, 3.

Women, Community and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, who visited his family on Saturday, said that Yayasan Kebajikan Negara would take care of Noramfaizul's two children's schooling.

Noramfaizul's remains would be buried at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Muslim cemetery in Serdang near Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, said Kelab Putera 1Malaysia vice president Rahman Rahim, speaking on behalf of Noramfaizul's family.

He said the funeral would be held after the midday prayers provided the plane landed on schedule.

He said the body would be prepared for burial at the Royal Malaysian Air Force's Subang air base on arrival from Somalia before being brought to Noramfaizul's house in Taman Serdang Raya for the funeral prayers.

More in Sunday Star

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Somali rebel attack: TV3 cameraman’s family thankful he is safe

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 02:07 AM PDT

JOHOR BARU: The family of Aji Saregar Mazlan is thankful the TV3 cameraman is safe, following a shooting incident in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Friday.

However, their heart goes out to BernamaTV cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor's grieving family.

The 39-year-old was killed when rebel forces attacked and fired in the direction of the Malaysian media team's truck. He was hit by stray bullets in the incident about 11pm.

Aji's mother, Rohana Jamil, 50, said the family became anxious when her son did not call them Friday.

Anxiety turned to gloom when the family received a telephone call from a TV3 personnel about 11.20pm, with the news that Aji, 27, was hurt by after being shot at by a group of rebels.

"My heart felt like it had stopped...tears started to flow when I received news that my son had been shot," said Rohana.

She said, since leaving for Somalia on Aug 28, Aji would contact his father, Mazlan Mohd Sam, 52, daily at 5pm.

"Whenever my son telephoned, he would inform us that the turbulence in Somalia was worse than the conflict in Gaza. He asked us to pray for his safety, causing me to be even more worried.

"However, Aji failed to contact his father Friday, causing me to be very concerned that something bad had happened to him," she said Saturday when met at her house in Jalan Bukit Kempas here.

A tearful Rohana said she was very reluctant to allow Aji to follow the humanitarian mission but the cameraman had repeatedly asked her permission to go to Somalia.

Prior to this, Aji had been on several missions such as Gaza and Cairo.

Meanwhile, Mazlan was thankful as his son, who was injured on the right hand, was now reported to be in stable condition.

Nevertheless, he sympathised with the family of Noramfaizul who was killed after he was shot in the shoulder and chest.

"Tomorrow, at 5am, our family will go to Kuala Lumpur because all members of the humanitarian mission, including Aji, and Noramfaizul's remains, are expected to arrive at 10am," added Mazlan.

Aji and Noramfaizul were part of a 55-strong volunteers who were on the 1Malaysia Putera Club Humanitarian Mission to help victims of drought and starvation in Somalia. - Bernama


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Dream come true for Chelsia Ng

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 07:33 AM PDT

CHELSIA Ng has managed to grow beyond her achievements as an actress and singer to become a composer – a culmination of what has been a lifelong love of music.

"Since I was young, I never ever thought I would be able to write and compose a song, but now I have done it. It is a very good achievement," she said.

Ng would premiere her first single, a song written and composed by her, entitled Not a Lie in a music video under YES Entertainment this Sept 9.

She was inspired to write songs after she attended weddings of her close friends and was pretty much caught up with all the love and festivities.

One of the first songs she wrote was a wedding gift for her friend.

"I have written poems before but was never able to compile the words with a melody that made some sense," said Ng, whose accomplishments stretch from her comedic stints on Kopitiam to a role in the award-winning and critically-acclaimed film Papadom.

The Penangite cites her family and grandfather as her greatest influence and support in her career and passion.

"My parents love music and that love has passed on to my brother and I. Our home was — and still is — always filled with music," said Ng.

Her foray into the entertainment industry began with Asia Bagus — a popular regional singing competition that she participated at age 14 after much persuasion from her grandfather and parents.

Upon graduation from school, Ng studied at the Australian Academy of Dramatic Art in Sydney and did a short stint as a flight stewardess, before pursuing a career in the entertainment industry.

Ng has since acted in various TV shows and movies, performed songs and recorded demos, and served as hosts for several TV programmes.

"Different songs evoke different feelings in people – sadness, love or happiness. Sometimes a song comes on the radio and that immediately changes and determines the mood for the day.

"I want my songs to have that effect on people and make them happy," she asserted.

On her song writing experiences, Ng said: "I find that anything is possible if you put your heart into it and I am looking forward to writing more.

"It's a challenge for me, so I have to sit myself down and really focus on what I want to do.

"However, the inspiration for most of my songs did not come from sitting in a room. The first verse for Not a Lie came as I was taking the elevator down to get my morning nasi lemak!"

Her music video is written and directed by Ng Ping Ho, the award-winning director and producer of Kopitiam TV series fame.

Describing her music video team as the "dream team", Ng said she could not have asked for a better team.

"Everyone who worked on the video did it out of the love they have for their craft and out of the goodness of their heart.

"We had fun during the two-days shoot. I am very grateful," she said.

Ng said her debut album will contain 11 songs in English, Malay and Mandarin that she hopes to release by the middle of next year.

"The album will include two Mandarin tracks composed by my brother, and I'm hoping to perform a duet with Douglas Lim," she said.

"I feel like the luckiest girl on earth with so many angels helping me along the way throughout my career."

Fans can interact with Ng via,, or

Her music video will debut on the web at

Auditors go green

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 04:46 AM PDT

DELEGATES of the recently concluded world-class 2011 IIA International Conference have responded to Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau's (MyCEB) proactive eco-action to green the earth by fulfilling their pledge of RM25,000 to plant 250 trees at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) as part of the Malaysia Business Tourism Green Programme.

Held for the first time in Asia, the 2011 IIA International Conference attracted more than 2,200 internal auditors and governance practitioners from 93 countries.

MyCEB chief executive officer Zulkefli Sharif said, "We are delighted with the contribution from the delegates. It is our hope that this will spark and encourage more participation from business events held in Malaysia to be part of the programme".

The programme was launched last year in support of the government's commitment to offset carbon emissions by 40% by year 2020.

It operates on the simple premise whereby event delegates are given the opportunity to contribute a minimum of US$10 (RM30) for the tree planting.

"This is our first CSR green project with MyCEB and we hope this green effort can help inspire environmental awareness amongst our 3,000 members to undertake similar green initiatives," said conference organising chairman Wee Hock Kee.


The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Metro Watch

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 08:09 PM PDT

Ballroom dance class

A beginner's ballroom dancing class for cancer survivors, family, friends and caretakers is held every Thursday from 11am-12pm at a monthly fee of RM10 at Malacca Cancer Society's Oasis centre. Conversational Mandarin class is held every Tuesday from 12pm to 3pm at a monthly fee of RM20. For details, call 06- 283 0988 (Oasis), 012-399 7176 (Koh) or 012-323 9300 (Chua).

Seven combos treat

Soup lovers are welcome to Ani Sup Utara at Sri Dagangan II where seven combos are recommended. For reservations, call 019-938 8081 or 016-935 8087 (Nizam).

Authentic buffet

In Genting, the Restoran Kampong at the Resort Hotel is presenting the 'Authentic Malaysian Buffet' for Ramadan until Aug 29, priced at RM41++ (adult) while RM20.50++ (child). There's a 40% discount available for senior citizens. Contact Makan-makan @ GENTING for reservations, call 03-6101 1118. (

Grilled lamb

Indulge in a spread of traditional and international dishes that is sure to tantalize weary taste-buds for your friends and family to be enjoyed. For this Ramadan, Mega View Hotel in Kuantan invites diners to try their Sup Ekor Saderi, grilled lamb, Tom Yam Ala Chiang Mai, Ketam Bertelur Pedas, desserts and more at their Ramin Coffee House by the river. Priced at RM43nett per adult and RM27nett per child (five -12 yrs). For every five diners, one dines for free. You can also enjoy Hari Raya Not only that, you can celebrate Aidilfitri delights at RM28nett onwards (min 40 persons). For reservations, call 09-517 1888.

Mid-autumn fest

Come to the Mid-Autumn festival & performances at the lower ground floor in KSL City from Aug 23 and Sept 12. The festival will be from 10am until 10pm. For details, call 07-288 2888.

Organ donation drive

The Society of St. Vincent De Paul of the Church of St.Peter in close co-operation with the Malacca General Hospital Blood Bank will conduct a blood donation and organ donation registration campaign tomorrow. The campaign will be held at the church parish hall along Jalan Pengkalan Rama from 9.00am to 1.00pm. For details, call 012-2877607 (Stephen).

Learn sign language

Those wishing to learn sign language can attend classes organised by Johor Deaf Association at 64-01 Susur Larkin Perdana 2, Larkin perdana Johor Baru. For details, call 07 2320464.

Change of number

The Muar Inland Revenue Department at Sungai Abong here has changed its telephone number from 06-9527000 to 06-9563100.

Handicraft's lure

Looking for unique and beautifully carved wooden and traditional batek and ceramic products for souvenirs or home decoration? Check out the Pahang Handicraft Corporation complex at Kampung Pandan II, Kuantan-Terengganu bypass. Opens from Monday to Friday, 8am-5pm. For details, call 09-538 5677.

Zero waste zone

Kuantan Municipal Council (MPK) had launched the Zero Waste Zone 2011 and it is MPK's aspiration to ensure that Kuantan Town Centre becomes a zero waste zone from Jalan Tanah Putih in front of Giant Hypermarket to Teluk Cempedak. For details, call 09-5121 555/666 or log on to their website at

Volunteers needed

National Stroke Association of Malaysia (Nasam) Kuantan branch is looking for volunteers to help rehabilitate stroke victims. Nasam, a non-profit organisation, will provide training. For details, call 09-566 8195 or 019-951 0012 (Chua).

Cancer counselling

Mahkvota Medical Centre will be providing comprehensive cancer counselling services for free to the public, in collaboration with Malacca Cancer Society, every Friday from 4-6pm at No.76, Jalan Taman Melaka Raya 25, Taman Melaka Raya, Malacca. For details, call 06-285 2931 (Dr Sanjeev), 06-285 2975 (Dr Jayendran) or 06-285 0988 (Michaelina/Koh).

Items for recycling

Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Malaysia Kuantan branch welcomes used items such as metal containers, aluminium cans, glass and plastic bottles and clothing at its recycling centre. The centre is open every Sunday from 9am.

Thousands attend open houses

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 08:09 PM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: Overcast skies and intermittent rains had failed to dampen the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations here in Sabah.

Scores of people from all walks of life braved the drizzle to stream to Istana Negeri to attend the open house Yang Di Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin and his wife Toh Puan Norlidah Jasni here.

Among the important guests were Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman, members of cabinet and other senior state civil and federal civil servants as people walked up to the Istana to be treated to a Raya fair.

"It is my chance to greet our Yang DiPertua Negeri and also see the Istana," said a port worker Philip Pangadadu who hails from Sabah's northern Kota Marudu.

Pangadadu said that celebrations like Hari Raya was a chance for hin visit his Muslim friends and socialise.

"I will be going to many of my friends houses after this (Istana)," he added.

Like Pangadadu, many Sabahans had criss–crossed the homes of family and friends as they marked the first day of Hari Raya.

In a brief address, Juhar urged Sabah's multi-ethnic population of Sabah to continue with the open house tradition as it was an opportunity to visit each other.

He added that this would forge relations among themselves and thus strengthening unity in line with the 1Malaysia concept.

Juhar and Norlidah delighted the crowd by going around and chatting with their visitors.

On the second day of Hari Raya, scores of people headed for the Likas Sports Complex multi purpose hall that was the venue of the joint Aidilfitri open house of the Muslim state cabinet members headed by Musa and wife Datin Faridah Tussin

Musa and his wife Datin Faridah Tussin personally greeted and shook hands with the crowd.

He later told reporters that he was touched with the overwhelming response to the Hari Raya open house.

"The people who came were from all walks of life. This reflects the people's acceptance of our diversity," said Musa.

In the city, people on holiday had also packed shopping complexes with families as the few eateries that were opened for business struggled to cope with large number of customers.

"Our workers are off for Hari Raya, we did not expect large number of people to turn up," said a coffeeshop operator, who wanted to be known only as 'Ling'.

He said many other eateries decided to close as all their workers mostly Muslims had taken off for the Hari Raya holidays.

State distributes 120,000 flags for Merdeka bash during various programs

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 08:09 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: The state had distributed 120,000 flags in line with this year's Merdeka Day celebrations said state Unity, Human Resources, Science, Technology and Innovation Committee chairman M.Asojan.

He added that the flags were distributed via non-governmental organisations and the state assembly management committee.

"We have also had several programs where we handed out flags to lorries at the Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex.

"National and state flags were also handed out to bus and taxi drivers at the Larkin Central Terminal here," he said.

Asojan said that although the official state Merdeka Day celebrations would only be held on Sept 10 at the Dataran Batu Pahat, it is important that the people took the effort to fly the national colours.

"With Merdeka being so close to Hari Raya, it is a double celebration for us.

"Let us be proud and ensure that we show our patriotism to the country by flying the Malaysian flag in our houses, vehicles or anywhere else which is befitting," he said.

He added that people from all races and religions should also join their Muslim friends and celebrate Hari Raya together.

"Take the effort to visit your friends and neighbours and share the joy of the season with them," he said.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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Gene Simmons and longtime girlfriend engaged

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 08:40 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP): Rocker Gene Simmons and his longtime girlfriend, actress Shannon Tweed, are engaged.

Publicist Dawn Miller said in an email Friday that she is "happy to confirm that Gene and Shannon will be getting married in the near future."

The engagement was reported by "Entertainment Tonight."

The new season of the reality show "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" premieres Oct. 4 on the A&E network. The 62-year-old Kiss bassist and the 54-year-old Tweed have two children.

Saggy pants cost Green Day singer his airline seat

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 08:35 PM PDT

OAKLAND, California (AP): Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong says his sagging pants cost him a seat on a Southwest Airlines flight.

The singer-guitarist for the San Francisco Bay area band sent a message to his Twitter followers on Thursday expressing his indignation at being tossed from an Oakland-to-Burbank flight for wearing his trousers too low.

"Just got kicked off a southwest flight because my pants sagged too low! What the f(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)? No joke!" he wrote.

An ABC7 news producer who was on the same flight told the station that a flight attendant approached Armstrong as the plane was getting ready to take off and asked him to hike his pants higher. The producer, Cindy Qiu, says Armstrong initially responded by asking the attendant if there weren't "better things to do than worry about that?"

But the attendant persisted and told Armstrong he could be ejected for his refusal to comply. When Armstrong insisted he was just trying to get to his seat, he and a traveling companion were taken off the plane.

Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins released a statement saying Armstrong was allowed onto the next flight to Burbank and had told a customer relations agent who contacted him he had no further complaints.

"As soon as we became aware of what had happened, we reached out to apologize for this Customer's experience," the statement read. "He elected to take the next flight. We followed up with this Customer and involved Employees to get more details and, in our latest conversations, understand from the Customer the situation was resolved to his satisfaction."

A University of New Mexico football player was arrested at San Francisco International Airport in June when he allegedly refused a U.S. Airways attendant request for him to pull up his low-riding pants and, later, the captain's order to leave the plane.

The player, Deshon Marman, was held on suspicion of trespassing, battery of a police officer and obstruction of a police investigation when he allegedly resisted the officer who escorted him from the plane. But the San Mateo County district attorney refused to bring charges.

The incident sparked allegations of racial profiling after a photo surfaced of a man who flew aboard a US Airways flight wearing skimpy women's panties and mid-thigh stockings days before Marman's arrest.

That man was white. Marman is African-American.


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