Ahad, 4 September 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Prizes galore

Posted: 05 Sep 2011 12:23 AM PDT

Spot the Runaway DJ and win great prizes.

RED FM will hit the road all this month and if you can spot Red FM's Runaway DJs, you will be in the running to win cash, gadgets and even a car.

Starting from today till Sept 30, the deejays will take turns to go out to secret destinations every Monday to Friday. Driving a red Proton Inspira, they will appear in various locations three times a day. Get clues to their whereabouts which will be given out every hour on-air and through the station's Facebook page as well as Twitter.

Be the first listener to turn up at the correct location and identify the Runaway DJ to win a cash prize.

Each winner will receive a key to be in the running to win a car at the finale. Only one key will unlock the car and you could be the grand prize winner to drive home the brand new Proton Inspira.

Be sure to keep your senses alert to your surroundings whether you are on your own or with a group of friends in tracking them down. With different stops being mapped out, you never know when and where the deejays may just pop up. They could appear at a mall, a petrol station, a car showroom or even at a mamak stall!

To make the search even more rewarding, bonus prizes such as iPad 2s and iPod Nanos will be given out at designated times. There's never been a better time to get up close with them as you have the opportunity now to win cash or gadgets as well as driving off with a Proton Inspira.

Check out www.red.fm for the terms and conditions of the contest. Join the Red FM Malaysia Facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/redfm.my) and follow them on Twitter (@iloveredfm) for the latest updates of the contest.

Red FM is owned and operated by The Star.

> Red FM's station frequencies: Taiping, Kedah, Perlis and Pulau Langkawi: 98.1 FM; George Town and Seberang Prai: 107.6 FM; Ipoh, Perak: 106.4 FM; Klang Valley, Negri Sembilan and Tapah: 104.9 FM; Kuantan, Pahang: 91.6 FM; Batu Pahat and Malacca: 98.9 FM; Johor Baru and Singapore: 92.8 FM.

Walters' 'View' primed for run at top of ratings

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 05:45 PM PDT

NEW YORK (AP) - With Oprah Winfrey gone, daytime television is ready for a new monarch.

Barbara Walters and the show she invented 15 years ago, "The View," pronounce themselves ready to step up. She may be past 80 now, but would YOU bet against her?

The show begins its new season Tuesday, with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as guest. In a muddled daytime picture, "The View" plans to compete aggressively for displaced Winfrey viewers with a more topical feel, aggressive booking of guests and a few pages ripped from Oprah's playbook.

"Oprah was the only other show that did some of the things that we did," said Bill Geddie, executive producer. "Quite honestly, some of the people that we might have gotten second, we'll be getting first now."

"The View" has just as much chance as any to become the daytime talk leader. Late afternoon, where Winfrey's show ran across most of the country, is considered a more desired time slot than the 11 a.m. home of "The View." But a big mixture of personalities like Dr. Phil, Ellen DeGeneres, Anderson Cooper and Dr. Oz will now be competing in the afternoon, some of them new to their time slots or new to the business, and none goes in with a huge advantage in the ratings, said Bill Carroll, an expert in the daytime market for Katz Media.

Meanwhile, "The View" is a fixture at its time of day.

"Consistency always works in your favor," Carroll said.

Geddie noted that no 11 a.m. show has ever been the top daytime talk program, and he seems eager for the challenge of changing that.

The time slot was no real prize back in 1996. ABC had a string of failures there before asking Walters to come up with an idea for a show. She thought of presenting a handful of women with diverse backgrounds and opinions, primarily an entertainment show. Still busy at ABC News, Walters appeared only two days a week and asked Meredith Vieira to be moderator, a role now held by Whoopi Goldberg.

Only 60 percent of ABC viewers could see the show at first, and Walters remembers spending much of her first year cajoling station managers across the country to carry it. Now "The View" is seen virtually everywhere on ABC.

"The View" evolved to become more topical and opinionated as the years went on, a progression that is continuing. The Sept. 9 show will feature former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and focus on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman are each scheduled to appear in the first month.

Such guests co-exist with the popular "hot topics" opening segment, where Goldberg, Walters, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd kick around the day's water-cooler subjects.

Still, Walters cautioned, "We are not 'Meet the Press."' Not when Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian are booked for Wednesday. Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Alicia Keys are among other first-month guests.

Behar and Shepherd will talk about what it was like for each of them to get married this summer, and the show plans to candidly follow Shepherd's effort to have another child.

"We still do loving interviews," Walters said. "We're not Bill O'Reilly." Fox News' O'Reilly, who's had some memorable tangles with the ladies of "The View," is also booked for the first month.

"Authors, actors, celebrities and so forth need a place to go," she said. "And we're a very good place to go. We're an intelligent show, we are a stable show, we like each other. ... It's a fun show, and I think they will feel all the more comfortable with us."

Sound like a pitch? Walters has made a few in her day. Much of the energy she brought to finding big interview "gets" for ABC News is now focused on "The View," where she usually appears three or four days a week. Firmly establishing the topical niche is a pre-emptive strike against CNN's Cooper, who premieres his show this fall, and Walters' ABC colleague Katie Couric. Couric, who was a guest host on "The View" for a week this summer, begins her own daytime talk show next year.

Geddie also talks about more frequently using panels of expert contributors - doctors, lawyers and such - to answer questions. That also sounds very Oprah-like, given the satellite system of contributors she developed through the years.

The competitive approach also extends to cosmetics. Instead of slapping a fresh coat of paint on an old set, "The View" completed a sleek redesign. Gone is the uncomfortable couch where Walters joked some guests nearly toppled over and off the set.

"We've always thought of ourself as the little engine that could, and now we're practically the railroad," Geddie said. "The landscape is changing, and it's not just Oprah. The soap operas are going away. At ABC, we were always the third or fourth show behind the soaps and now we're the No. 1 show. We felt that if we were a big show, we ought to look like it and act like it."

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Australia's Howard a surprise 9-11 witness

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 09:03 PM PDT

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's former Prime Minister John Howard, a surprise witness to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, believes former U.S. President George W. Bush deserves more praise for his response and for stopping further attacks.

Former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, (C) in Brisbane August 8, 2010. A (REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/Files)

Howard was in Washington when hijacked airliners crashed into the towers of New York's World Trade Center, the U.S. Defense headquarters the Pentagon, and into a field in Pennsylvania. Among the thousands killed were 22 Australians.

In an interview to mark a decade since the attacks, Howard said he has no regrets about joining the war in Afghanistan, cautions against an premature withdrawal of troops, and said history will vindicate Bush's response to the new threats.

"History will vindicate his great success in keeping America free from a further terrorist attack," Howard told Reuters from his office overlooking Sydney Harbour.

"The decisions I believed were right. I still believe they were right, and I believe history will vindicate them."

The events of Sept. 11 came at the half-way mark of Howard's term as prime minister, and had a profound impact on his next six years in office, propelling national security to the equal top political issue alongside economic management.

The attacks helped cement a close personal and political alliance between Howard and Bush, who named Howard a "man of steel" for his steadfast support of the United States, and fundamentally re-shaped the Australia-U.S. military alliance, which had been the bedrock of Australia's security for 50 years.


The attacks also led Australia into the war in Afghanistan, and later Iraq. The war in Afghanistan is now stretching into its 10th year, with 29 Australian soldiers killed.

Howard said he had no regrets about committing troops to the war in Afghanistan. But he cautioned against any premature withdrawal of allied forces because of falling public support for the war.

In Australia, latest polls show 64 percent believe Australian forces should be withdrawn, compared with 47 percent 12 months ago.

"It was certainly worth fighting and I do believe it can be won. Slow though the progress seems to be, it is being won," he said.

"It would be a big error for the allies to pull out prematurely," he said.

"Pakistan is more unstable than it was 10 years ago. If we left behind an ambiguous situation in Afghanistan, the impact of that on the terrorist cause in Pakistan, which is a nuclear-armed country, could be quite dramatic."


The day before the attacks, on Sept. 10, 2001, Howard met Bush for the first time. They spent four hours together, including talks over lunch at the White House, starting what became a strong political alliance and personal friendship.

"We didn't talk about terrorism. Nobody knew this terrible event was just around the corner," Howard said.

The trip had been timed to mark the 50th anniversary of the ANZUS military alliance, which commits Australia, New Zealand and the United States to come to the support of each other if their countries are attacked.

Howard believed the ANZUS alliance needed attention because it had lost some of its significance with the end of the Cold War, and with one of the partners, New Zealand, an inactive partner since 1985.

On Sept. 11, Howard was in his Washington hotel, only a few blocks from the Whitehouse, when the first attack happened. When he spoke to reporters a short time later, sirens could be heard outside.

"While we were doing the news conference, the third plane, Flight 77, drove into the Pentagon. We pulled back the curtains and we saw the smoke rising," he said.

"We knew then, beyond any argument, that this was a concerted terrorist attack on the United States."

The remainder of Howard's U.S. programme was immediately cancelled. The following day, Howard and his party were the only visitors in the US House of Representatives as it held an emergency debate on the tragedy. He received a standing ovation from lawmakers for his gesture of support.

Howard then attended a memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington, and spoke by telephone to then Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan about the market implications of the attacks.


By this time, Howard was already forming the view that Australia would be involved in any military response against those responsible.

"I just knew instinctively that if an international effort were needed, Australia should and would be part of it and would be a very early and willing part of it," he said.

Late on Sept. 12, the U.S. military flew Howard and his official entourage to Hawaii on Air Force Two. At the time, all commercial flights into and out of U.S. airspace were cancelled.

From Hawaii, Howard flew back to Australia on a Qantas jet, which had been given special permission to fly out of the United States, making it the first commercial flight back in the air in the United States after the attacks.

As he flew across the Pacific Ocean, Howard resolved to invoke the ANZUS alliance for the first time, committing Australia to support the U.S.

Howard said potential concerns from other nations, such as China, were secondary considerations.

"It was so fundamental, and so obviously an occasion where we had to be and should be a 100 percent ally of our close friend, it didn't really enter my mind for a moment, that identifying with the United States fully at that time would hurt relations with other countries," he said.

"And in any event, my thinking was that we had an obligation to give them full support."

Howard went on to win national elections in November 2001, and again in 2004, before he lost his seat in an election loss in 2007, ending his 11 and a half years in power.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

French first lady says will keep baby out of view

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 09:03 PM PDT

PARIS (Reuters) - French first lady Carla Bruni said on Sunday she will keep the baby she is expecting with President Nicolas Sarkozy strictly out of view and not allow any photographs to be shown publicly.

Bruni, who is due to give birth in the autumn, said she did not know whether she was expecting a boy or a girl, but her main aim was to protect the infant from the glare of publicity.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy arrive in a golf cart before boarding a boat at the Fort de Bregancon in Bormes les Mimosas July 9, 2011. (REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier/Files)

"You don't have a child for the gallery," Bruni told TF1 television in an interview.

"I understand the media interest (but) for children it's not possible. I will do everything to protect this infant and I'll be absolutely rigorous. I will never show photos of this child, I will never expose this child," she said.

Bruni's remarks suggested Sarkozy will shy away from using glossy magazine spreads of a newborn baby to polish his family-man image later this year as he announces a widely expected run at a second term in next year's presidential election.

The conservative is expected to announce his reelection plans in early November, just after France's G20 heads of state summit in Cannes and close to the time Bruni, a former supermodel, is expected to give birth.

Sarkozy's low popularity ratings have inched up during the summer as photos of him relaxing at the beach with the heavily pregnant Bruni gave him a family glow that contrasted with coverage of his erstwhile election rival on the left, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was in New York fighting sex assault charges.

Bruni, 43, and also a singer-songwriter, said she learned her lesson when she let paparazzi snap photos of her son from a former relationship, Aurelien, perched on Sarkozy's shoulders on a trip to Egypt during their whirlwind courtship.

Sarkozy's rapid attachment to the glamorous Bruni on the tails of his 2007 election and just a few months after his separation from his ex-wife Cecilia created a media frenzy.

With many French people critical of a manner they see as too brash and flashy for a head of state, Sarkozy has been at pains in recent months to act in a more austere and presidential way. He and Bruni kept silent about the long-rumoured pregnancy until mid-July.

Bruni shed no light on when Sarkozy will announce his election plans, but said she hoped he would be there for the birth of their first child together.

(Reporting by Catherine Bremer)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

New Orleans holds up as Lee loses strength

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 09:03 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Lee weakened to a tropical depression as it neared Mississippi on Sunday, and New Orleans' flood defenses held up under one of their biggest tests since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005.

A man sits on his front porch while flood waters reach outside his house as Tropical Storm Lee slowly makes landfall in Lafitte, Louisiana, September 4, 2011. (REUTERS/Dan Anderson)

The National Hurricane Center said the remnants of Lee were 55 miles (90 km) west-southwest of McComb, Mississippi, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) around 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT on Monday). The storm was moving east-northeast at 7 mph (11 kph).

The storm has temporarily shut over 60 percent of offshore oil production.

Even as a tropical depression, the storm remains a rainmaker, carrying the potential to dump up to 10 inches (25 cm) of rain over the Tennessee Valley and southern Appalachian Mountains, forecasters said.

The remnants of Lee could still bring flash flooding and tornadoes to Mississippi on Monday, and to Alabama and Tennessee on Tuesday, the Miami-based hurricane center said.

In New Orleans, the storm recalled Hurricane Katrina, which flooded 80 percent of the city, killed 1,500 people and caused more than $80 billion in damage to the tourist destination. Lee has dropped up to 13 inches (33 cm) of rain on New Orleans since it developed late last week.

Half the city lies below sea level and is protected by a system of levees and flood gates.

Some street flooding was reported, but the city's massive pumping system kept ahead of the volume and diverted the waters into Lake Pontchartrain.

Low-lying parishes around New Orleans did not fare as well, as Lee's winds drove a tidal surge over levees and onto roads.

"For a while we got some false hope that we might be out of the woods, but we realized overnight we would get more rain," Lafourche Parish spokesman Brennan Matherne said. "We're getting call after call about street flooding."

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu warned residents to stay alert for flash floods and high winds expected before Lee departs.

"Let's not be lulled to sleep by the breaks that we've had," Landrieu said.

New Orleans' levees saw less stress because Lee's winds were too weak to drive a massive storm surge into the city, as was the case during Katrina.

"The levees at this point are really not being tested because the surge is not coming into the system," said Colonel Edward Fleming of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "This is mainly a wind and a rain event."

There were isolated reports of flooding in roads and homes. No injuries or deaths were reported in Louisiana.

Wet conditions associated with the storm appeared to be a factor in an early morning car wreck in Mobile, Alabama, that killed one man and left several injured.

In Texas, just east of Austin, Lee's gusty winds fed a 14,000-acre (5,700-hectare) wildfire that threatened 1,000 homes and caused evacuations. Wildfires have burned more than 3.5 million acres (1.4 million hectares) of Texas, which is in the grips of a historic drought.


Lee's tidal surge could spur more coastal flooding in Louisiana, as well as in Mississippi and Alabama, before drenching a large swath of the Southeast and Appalachian regions in the coming days.

Storm winds have already pushed Gulf waters inland, slamming barriers in low-lying areas such as Lafourche Parish and prompting mandatory evacuations in the coastal communities of Lafitte, Crown Point and Barataria.

In Mississippi, local governments were taking precautions as forecasters predicted tides could be 2 feet to 4 feet (0.6 metres to 1.2 metres) above normal.

As of Sunday afternoon, 6,149 customers were without power in Louisiana and 609 in Mississippi, utility Entergy Corp reported.

More than 60 percent of U.S. offshore oil production, all based in the Gulf of Mexico, and over 44 percent of offshore gas production were shut as of Saturday, 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 late last week.

Shell, Exxon and Anadarko Petroleum Corp have started to return workers to offshore platforms.

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.

In the open Atlantic on Sunday, Hurricane Katia strengthened rapidly to a Category 2 storm.

Katia had top sustained winds of 105 mph (165 kph), the hurricane center said, but it was too soon to gauge the potential threat to land or the U.S. East Coast from the storm, which could become a "major" hurricane with maximum sustained winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph) on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Kristen Hays in Houston, Tom Brown in Miami, Kelli Dugan in Mobile, Alabama and Jim Forsyth in San Antonio; Writing by Chris Baltimore; Editing by Xavier Briand and Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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Malaysian banks losing appeal?

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 04:33 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: In the absence of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) activities, the Malaysian banking sector appears to have lost its lustre while Thai and Indonesian banks are hogging analysts' headlines.

"Thai and Indonesian banks are more attractive from the perspective of investment recovery and overall macro growth, respectively," said Lim Sue Lin, senior banking analyst at HwangDBS Vickers Research.

As for Malaysian banks, she noted that apart from the lack of M&As that had fuelled interest lately, there was not much upside to earnings growth.

Nomura Equity Research, in its report, said: "From a valuation perspective, Malaysian banks do not appear cheap, trading at an average financial year 2011 forecast (FY11F) price-to-book value (P/BV) of 2.2 times on a return on equity (ROE) of 17%.

"By comparison, we find Thai banks trading at a P/BV of 1.8 times with an average ROE of 15%.

The Nomura report noted that political risk was rising in Malaysia as the country headed for the next general election, and it expected:

2011 loans growth to maintain last year's momentum at 13%. But for 2012F, loan growths will fall back to trend levels of about 9%;

an absence of overnight policy rate hikes; net interest margin (NIM) compression has been more intense and prolonged than expected, leading to poorer average lending yields.

credit costs to fall more quickly than expected, cushioning pressure from narrowing NIMs.

Looking at the track record for the past 20 years, Nomura noted that for every 1% increase in the Government's development spending, it would typically raise construction sector loans by 1%.

"However, we note that the multiplier effect was stronger in the 1990s (2.7 times) than in the 2000s (0.4 time), partly due to greater level of private sector construction activities in the 1990s and a lower level of gearing for construction companies in the 2000s.

"Even if the Government achieves its economic transformation programme-driven gross domestic product growth target of 6%, it may only translate to a further 0.7 percentage point upside to loan growth, which is negligible," said Nomura.

DBS Vickers Research expects Thailand's economy to remain resilient in 2011 and provide a solid base for an investment recovery cycle. Capacity utilisation has gradually improved from trough levels of 50% back in February 2009.

"We have seen further recovery since April 2010, when it stood at 58%, to 62% currently," said DBS Vickers. "We expect to a strong 1H11 led by inventory re-building in manufacturing and a recovery in agricultural output, which was hit by adverse weather in 2010."

Muted private investment since 2006 due to political instability has meant that capacity utilisation rates are elevated in fast growing export sectors.

Sectors such as vehicles and technology have seen capacity utilisation rates increase in 2010 from 2009, said DBS Vickers.

A Singapore-based banking analyst views the Indonesia economic outlook as resilient, fuelled by strong domestic demand which acts as a buffer against world economic uncertainties.

"In that sense, Indonesia stands out and investors are willing to pay a premium for that," he said.

In an earlier report, DBS Vickers said: "Indonesian banks remain an attractive investment on a longer-term basis, based on potential growth prospects.

"Near-term, we see policies which will be implemented within the banking system derailing growth to some extent. The key risk lies in a potential decline in NIM, which will lead to lower ROEs.

"Despite potential competition in micro lending, we think lending yields will remain high (versus non-micro lending banks), given the large untapped business opportunities.

"The Indonesian market is largely domestic driven and is also awash with foreign liquidity."

The booming economy and accelerating infrastructure spending are good for loan growth in Indonesia.

Also, Indonesian banks' low loan-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio of only 28% represents one of the most promising growth prospects in the Asean region," said DBS Vickers.

However, on the longer term outlook, Malaysian banks are not losing out.

Although the interest in domestic M&As may have dwindled, it is expected to be rekindled once market conditions returned to normalcy.

"Future M&A activity will be driven by the competitive intensity within the Malaysian banking sector, the existence of smaller commercial and Islamic banks, which are potential targets and the controlling interests, held by certain shareholders in the local banking sector," said Malaysian Rating Corp vice-president and head of financial institution ratings Anandakumar Jegarasasingam.

On the regional front, Anandakumar said the main competitive threat for major Malaysian banks were the Singaporean banks.

"The Indonesian or Thai banks are unlikely to emerge as a regional force, at least in the medium term, as their financial sector and regulatory framework have not matured as much as that of Singapore or Malaysia."

On whether Malaysian banks can compete with Thai and Indonesian banks, Maybank president and CEO Datuk Seri Wahid Omar said: "Absolutely. Malaysian banks are stable and there are solid companies in the region."

At the same time, Wahid acknowledged the growing optimism in Thailand especially with the new government in place and Indonesia as the single largest economy in Asean.

Experts downbeat on global economy

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 04:27 PM PDT

CERNOBBIO, Italy: Business leaders and finance experts gathered here have offered a downbeat assessment of the global economy, with several predicting another recession due to a calamitous cocktail of sluggish growth, eurozone dysfunction and financial market volatility.

The year's events from natural disasters and violent uprisings to fears of debt defaults have not only sent shock waves through the financial world but also caused a slump in confidence among consumers and industry.

"There is a significant probability of a double-dip recession," New York University economist Nouriel Roubini said on Friday in opening remarks that lived up to his nickname of "Dr Doom", earned for forecasting a financial crisis years before the 2008 crash, even as many revelled in the boom times.

Much of the concern focused on the United States.

"The numbers that we've seen recently for the United States on manufacturing, on construction, on consumers' sentiment tell me that the odds have gotten much greater that the United States is going to continue to decline and that we are going to be in a formal recession before the end of the year," Harvard University economics professor Martin Feldstein, a member of President Barack Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, told the Associated Press.

Roubini blamed the mostly unexpected events of 2011 the Arab Spring fuelling oil prices, the turmoil in Greece spreading through Europe, the Japanese natural disasters upsetting global supply chains, and "significant worries about the US system and the political fight (over the debt ceiling) between the Democrats and the Republicans".

Because of this series of shocks, he estimated that advanced economies had reached a stall speed of around 1% annual growth, a figure that is lower than official expectations in many countries.

Roubini said governments and central banks, which have already made multi-trillion-dollar stimulus moves, had no more "bullets". - AP

QE3 no silver bullet for markets

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 04:26 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Friday's jobs report that showed hiring in the United States unexpectedly ground to a halt in August is increasing speculation the US Federal Reserve will move to stimulate the economy. But will it help stocks?

Fed action if it happens is no longer viewed as the elixir for the stock market it once was.

Wall Street tumbled over 2% on Friday as investors fretted more about the economic outlook rather than looking ahead to another round of Fed bond buying.

This week, the question of whether the Fed will step up to the plate with another round of quantitative easing will take centrestage with a highly anticipated speech from President Barack Obama. That could make for another volatile week.

This time last year, anticipation of a second round of quantitative easing, or QE2, sparked an almost uninterrupted rally that lifted the S&P 500 around 30% from August to May.

What a difference a year makes. Confidence in policymakers is sapping away as the economy languishes, the United States grapples with the loss of its top-notch credit rating, and the European Union seems to be coming undone at the seams.

Wall Street sees an 80% chance the Fed will intervene in the bond market to lower long-term interest rates, according to a Reuters poll on Friday.

But Friday's action in the stock market signalled that equity investors do not see that prospect as silver bullet for their woes. The broad-based S&P 500 index fell 2.5% on the day.

"This downdraft is based on sentiment and that has to be turned around," said Brian Battle, vice-president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago. "I think we're in for a longer trend of either malaise or just a down channel."

That means traders and investors who were hoping for a return to normalcy after extreme volatility in August may have to wait a little longer.

Obama is due to address a joint session of Congress on Thursday to lay out plans to create jobs, boost economic growth and lower the deficit.

He faces an uphill struggle when it come to reassuring investors, who fault the lack of consensus in Washington. Heading into an election year, the disharmony is not likely to get better any time soon.

Non-farm payrolls were unchanged last month, the Labour Department said on Friday, and figures for previous months were also revised down to show employers created a combined 58,000 fewer jobs than had been thought in June and July.

The US Treasury market rallied after the data as Goldman Sachs and other US primary dealers big Wall Street firms that do business directly with the Fed said they expect the US central bank to start buying longer-dated bonds after its Sept 2021 meeting.

Seasoned traders say that August's extreme volatility was one of the most trying periods in living memory, outstripping the 20082009 meltdown and the 1987 stock market crash on Black Monday.

"I've been doing this for 20 years and it's never been more exhausting," said the chief executive of a New York-based proprietary trading firm, who said many of his traders closed out their positions in August, reducing the firm's inventories to just 15% to 20% of what they could be.

At least some of that volatility looks set to spill over into September until there is more clarity over the economy and what the Fed is likely to do at its September meeting.

But some fund managers who take a more long-term view are using pullbacks to cut back positions that have done less well while increasing positions in their preferred stocks.

Many fund managers are still convinced the US economy will avoid a recession and stocks will rally into the end of the year. - Reuters

One of them, Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia, does not expect the Fed to act this month. He is not expecting a recession, but admits he has become more defensive.

"We used some of the volatility to swap out lower yields for higher yields, believing that a combination of income with capital growth potential will help us weather days like today," he said. "Equity values should still hold their own if not appreciate given the still-good corporate profit picture." - Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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History beckons as Kimbeley attempts SEA Games feat

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 04:13 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Kimbeley Yap will etch a place in history as the first Malaysian athlete to compete in three different sports in the SEA Games come November.

The former national swimmer and also two-time triathlon gold medallist will compete in the road cycling events of the Indonesia SEA Games in Bandung.

And Kimbeley, who is the half-sister of multiple SEA Games swimming gold medallist Daniel Bego, is keeping her fingers crossed that it will be a memorable outing for her.

"I have competed in many SEA Games but it's a new and different challenge each time. I missed the Games in Laos two years ago as I had to go for surgery to correct a slipped disc," said Kimbeley, who returned home from a national road training camp in Chiang Mai last week.

"I thought my hopes were ruined again when I crashed in a race in Vietnam last month, which affected my back a bit.

"I went for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) immediately after I got back and, luckily, there was no serious injury. I am doing the road time trial and road race as well for the SEA Games."

The 26-year-old has certainly come a long way since making her SEA Games debut in 2001 in Kuala Lumpur as a swimmer, winning two bronze medals as part of the relay squad.

Kimbeley went on to win the women's triathlon gold medal when the sport made its Games debut in Manila in 2005 and retained her title in Korat two years later.

The event was not included in the programme in Laos but Kimbeley had already begun her foray into cycling by then.

Ironically, cycling used to be her weakest discipline when she was a triathlete.

But she is beginning to see the fruits of her labour, which culminated with her breakthrough success in the national championships in Raub in June.

"That was my first national road race victory and it was good for the morale. I was unsure of where I was going when I started to take cycling seriously but there is more attention given to women's cycling now," said Kimbeley, who feels that the training stint in Chiang Mai has provided her with a better idea of the challenges ahead at the SEA Games.

The terrain in Chiang Mai is quite similar to the SEA Games road competitions in Bandung, which is about two hours by road from Jakarta.The terrain is expected to favour the mountain climbers rather than sprinters.

Others expected to make the women's cycling team for the SEA Games are Mariana Mohamad, Maszyiaton Mohd Radzi, Mardiana Mohd Radzi and Ju Pha Somnet.

Bigger and stronger KLRC stay true to their objective

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 04:13 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: It has been six years since KLRC's humble beginnings as a professional badminton club.

They may have grown stronger and bigger by the year, but their objective – giving shuttlers a second chance – has not changed.

And this was evident with their latest recruitment of former internationals Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif and Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari.

With the duo's inclusion, KLRC now have 16 professional players – both local and international – in their fold.

They are also placing more focus on their junior programme.

KLRC owner Datuk Seri Andrew Kam said they would continue to offer a new lease of life to those hoping for a second chance.

"We started modestly in 2005 as a small outfit ... but now we are where we are because we continue to give opportunities to players. Sometimes, a player goes through a slump and struggles for a while.

"All he or she needs is a second chance to get it right," said Andrew.

"Here, at KLRC, we give them that opportunity to rebound and excel. We are happy that Zakry and Fairuzizuan have joined us on their own accord.

"We will do our part to help them realise their dreams of qualifying for the Olympic Games.

"We have no intention of competing with BAM (Badminton Association of Malaysia).

"This has not changed over the years and we will continue to complement the national body's efforts as far as the development of the game is concerned."

Asked if KLRC would hire Razif Sidek as one of their coaches, Andrew said: "I hear that Zakry and Fairuzizuan want Razif to be their coach.

"I am open to discussion with Razif. It is important to give what the players want – especially if they are comfortable with the coach."

Razif has decided to coach Zakry-Fairuzizuan on his own accord, for now.

Should he be roped into KLRC, he will then be able to guide Gan Teik Chai-Tan Bin Shen as well.

Zakry-Fairuzizuan secure package to boost Olympic hopes

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 04:12 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Doubles shuttlers Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif-Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari secured two great deals yesterday to boost their chances of qualifying for next year's London Olympic Games as independent players.

Firstly, Zakry-Fairuzizuan announced their decision to join professional club KLRC. Then, the duo confirmed that former doubles maestro Razif Sidek would be their personal coach.

The experienced duo left the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) set-up after the World Championships recently. It enabled Zakry and Fairuzizuan to be reunited as a pair following national chief coach Rexy Mainaky's decision to make them play with Hoon Thien How and Ong Soon Hock respectively a year ago.

Fairuzizuan said that they "chose KLRC as it offered us the best package".

"We have joined KLRC to continue our journey as players with the ultimate aim of qualifying for next year's Olympic Games. The deal will see us competing in many international tournaments with the cost fully funded by KLRC," said Fairuzizuan.

The duo will compete in nine tournaments in the next three months, starting with the Indonesia Grand Prix Gold in Kalimantan from Sept 27-Oct 2. This will be followed by four Opens in France, Denmark, Hong Kong and China and four Grand Prix Gold events in Germany, Macau, South Korea and India.

"Our decision to join KLRC is not to show that we are against BAM. In fact, we only met all the respective parties after getting the green light from the national body to leave the team," said Fairuzizuan.

Zakry believes that Razif's presence would also help strengthen their bid to feature in the Olympic Games for the first time.

"We want to qualify this time after missing out on the last Olympic Games. We are thrilled that Razif has agreed to help us. It's good to have someone of his calibre to guide and coach us. He has not asked for any money ... all he wants is our commitment to give our best in training," said Zakry, who won the back-to-back Indonesia and Singapore Opens with Fairuzizuan in 2007.

"We may be independent players but our commitment has not changed. In fact, we are more motivated to prove ourselves."

Razif said he was looking forward to coaching again after leaving the national team in 1997 – the same year that Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock won a silver medal at the World Championships.

"My passion for the game has brought me back to coaching. They (Zakry and Fairuzizuan) met me and I have agreed to coach them. I want to help them realise their dreams," said Razif, who trains his seven-year-old son Mohd Fazriq at the New Vision Badminton Academy in Petaling Jaya daily.

"All I have asked from them is their commitment to training. They have to start from scratch ... but I have confidence in them."

Asked why he did not offer his services to the BAM, Razif said: "I had approached them several times but they did not show any interest.

"Now, I have a pair who is willing to learn and I am ready to help them."

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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Jacqueline wins women's singles bowling gold in World Championship

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 05:33 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Youngster Jacqueline Jenelee Sijore became the country's second bowler to win the women's singles gold at the Women's World Championships in Hong Kong on Sunday.

And the 19-year-old first-timer achieved the breakthrough in super style beating favourite and last year's gold medallist Son Yun-hee of South Korea 266-217 in a one-game final match.

In the semi-finals, the Sarawakian blew away top seed Shayna Ng of Singapore 246-214.

In 2007, 17-year-old Esther Cheah stole the show when she bagged the singles gold medal.

More in The Star on Monday

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Jacqueline gets into medal position in singles event

Safety measures taken before Somalia mission: Foreign Minister

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 04:50 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Wisma Putra had sent a team of officials to look into safety measures in Somalia before the Kelab Putera 1Malaysia humanitarian aid mission went there, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

He said Malaysian Ambassador to Libya, Datuk Zulkifli Yaacob, had also gone to Somalia and made the necessary arrangements for the mission.

"We needed to be very certain that the country we were going to, provided ample and satisfactory protection, which they did, but this is one of those unexpected things," he told reporters after joining the family of slain BernamaTV cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor for the arrival of the journalist's remains from Mogadishu at the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Subang near here on Sunday.

Noramfaizul, 39, was killed on Friday after he was hit by a stray bullet while travelling in a four-wheel-drive vehicle with other Malaysian media personnel covering the humanitarian aid mission to Somalia.

Anifah said Wisma Putra normally assisted local humanitarian aid missions in conducting ground and safety assessments of the country where they were headed to.

More in The Star on Monday

Highway traffic heavy as ‘balik kampung’ crowd returns to city

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 04:18 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Traffic at several locations along the northern sector of the North-South Expressway (Plus) to the Federal Capital was reported to be heavy this evening as more vehicles got on the highway.

The Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) reported that at about 5pm, traffic was heavy from Taiping to Changkat Jering in Perak.

Traffic between Simpang Pulai to Gopeng and from the Sungai Perak Rest and Recreation Area to the Menora Tunnel was reported to be slow moving.

Heavy traffic was reported from the Penang Bridge to the Juru Toll Plaza and from the Taiping North Toll Plaza to the Changkat Jering Toll Plaza.

MHA also reported heavy traffic at the East Coast Highway from the Bentong Toll Plaza to Kuala Lumpur.

A spokesperson of Plus reported no traffic congestion was detected in the southern sector of the highway including the Seremban Rest and Recreation Area to Nilai.

The spokesman also reported that traffic along the Federal Highway and at the Jalan Duta Toll Plaza was moving smoothly. - Bernama

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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Not short on style or story

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 02:12 AM PDT

An abridged book that retains the author's distinct voice can entice readers to seek the full-length original.

I HAVE just taken a trip down memory lane with a number of books from my childhood – the very copies that were arranged on the top shelf of my family's wooden bookcase with its sliding glass doors.

There were two sets of hardcover books: Junior Deluxe Editions, published by the Literary Guild of America, and Great Books For Children, published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Alas, several of the titles we owned seem to have gone walkabout between the time they lived in the aforementioned bookcase and their recent incarceration in cardboard boxes in my eldest niece's wardrobe.

The remaining eight books are now with me, on loan from her. I hope to share them with my children before I have to return them, and perhaps order copies of my favourite titles – I am delighted to see that they are still available at second-hand bookstores and on eBay.

My earliest encounters with classic children's stories were with these books. Little Women (Junior Deluxe Editions) is still with us, looking extremely well-thumbed. So is Andersen's Fairy Tales and Heidi (Great Books for Children). Sadly, Alice In Wonderland, The Arabian Nights, The Wizard Of Oz and Grimm's Fairy Tales are missing.

The Junior Deluxe Editions' Little Women is abridged – on the title page it says "abridged for modern readers". When you are seven or eight you don't notice these details and if you do, you don't understand what they mean.

A children's literature group I belong to recently discussed whether or not abridged texts are worth reading. Opinion was, predictably, divided. Many, myself included, remember growing up with abridged novels. One of the members said that reading abridged work made her feel she had been "cheated" and put her off reading the full-length versions because she already knew what would happen.

I, on the other hand, was thrilled to find that there were longer versions of these books available: "You mean, I can get more of the same?" Favourite scenes were extended and favourite characters described in more detail. Wonderful!

Another member said she couldn't see the value in reading abridged editions of Shakespeare's plays as she felt that the whole point of reading Shakespeare was to enjoy the way he used language. She said the actual stories aren't good enough to merit any attention without his words.

However, the language may not be the point for a child whose English is very basic. Abridged books are useful when dealing with such children. The original texts can be very intimidating, especially if the syntax is unfamiliar, as would be the case for Shakespeare and many classics.

Anyway, I don't think you are likely to appreciate a play by Shakespeare without a good teacher. I doubt many average teenagers, or adults, even those whose first language is English, would be able to make much of any of Shakespeare's plays.

Once you have the metaphors and symbols, and historical and social contexts and references explained to you, most of the plays are pretty amazing. Still, I don't think Shakespeare's plots are so pathetic as to collapse without the language to support them. They are tales that explore the human condition – what makes us tick, our foibles and strengths, the ghastly mistakes we make and the good fortune we enjoy even though we don't deserve a break at all. What's not to like?

I think abridged texts are definitely worth reading. I first enjoyed Pride And Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Gulliver's Travels and many other classics in abridged form. And I'm eager to reacquaint myself with the Junior Deluxe Editions and Great Books for Children versions of Little Women and Around The World In 80 Days, Heidi and Treasure Island, with their fine illustrations – illustrations that attracted me to these books in the first place.

I don't think the question is whether abridged texts are worth reading, but whether quality abridged texts are still being published. A good abridged text should capture the mood and tone of the original novel. The author's voice and style should still be distinct.

The abridgements I enjoyed as a child were not re-written. They were shortened by means of removing details like descriptive passages or even dialogue. Therefore, the reader still got a very clear sense of the original work.

Readers who are interested in such excellent abridgements should search online for the imprints I've mentioned. I'm told that Signet also publishes good abridged versions of classics. And there is also Orion's Compact Editions, with its tagline, "In Half the Time".

Think of these as tasters. If you like the short versions, there's nothing to stop you from reading the original full-length works.

Daphne Lee reads to wonder and wander, be amazed and amused, horrified and heartened and inspired and comforted. She wishes more people will try it too. Send e-mails to the above address and check out her blog at daphne.blogs.com/books.

Full list of nominees

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 02:10 AM PDT

THESE books were top sellers in 2010 in Popular and Harris bookstores nationwide, thus qualifying them for participation in the Popular-The Star Readers' Choice Awards 2011. They are arranged in bestselling order, NOT winning order:


1. Rojak: Bite-Sized Stories by Amir Muhammad

2. Madness Aboard! by Yvonne Lee

3. The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka

4. Kebaya Tales by Lee Su Kim

5. Orang Asli Animal Tales by Lim Boo Liat

6. The Embrace Of Harlots by David T.K. Wong

7. A Bit Of Earth by Lim Suchen

8. Inspector Singh Investigates: A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul by Shamini Flint

9. Sweet Offerings by Chan Ling Yap

10. Under The Sun by O Thiam Chin


1. Lim Lian Geok: Soul Of The Malaysian Chinese by Dr Kua Kia Soong

2. Moving Forward: Malays For The 21st Century by Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad

3. The Man From Borneo: An Autobiography by Brother Michael Jacques

4. From Poor Migrant To Millionaire by Chan King Nui

5. Islam In Malaysia: Perceptions And Facts by Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin

6. Katz Tales: Living Under The Velvet Paw by Ellen Whyte

7. Behind That Shiny Resume by Jasmine Yow

8. Syed Hussein Alatas: The Life In The Writing by Masturah Alatas

9. The Quran & I by Anas Zubedy

10. Footprints In The Paddy Fields by Tina Kisil

What they said online

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 02:08 AM PDT

TYPICAL of this digital age when so many people practically live online, the results of the Popular-The Star Readers' Choice Awards 2011 had responses shooting out to Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

"Just deposited my prize money at Maybank KLCC. Such a relief I don't have to carry all that cash around! #TweetMintakPenampar"

"Thanks to everyone who read & voted for Rojak! And to @EzraZaid for publishing it." – Two tweets from Amir Muhammad (@amirmu) after the Popular-The Star Readers' Choice Awards (RCA) 2011 ceremony at which he won second prize in the fiction category.

"My editor sent me a text message around noon today. I felt I had to call and hear him actually say: 'Your book won second prize in the Popular Readers' Choice contest.' So I called. My first thought had been: 'OMG! OMG! Really?'

"From the bottom of my heart, I want to say to you all: Thank you! Thank you for your support and your votes! – Excerpt from Tina Kisil's blog, Tea with Tina (teawith-tina.blogspot.com), on Aug 27 on winning second place in the non-fiction category.

"Thank you to everyone who voted for me for the Popular Reader's Choice Award 2011. I ended up in 3rd place in the non-fiction category. :)

I think the award is a GREAT initiative by The Star/Popular to celebrate local authors and to give recognition where recognition is due.

"However, at the risk of offending some people, I must say I'm not sure I celebrate receiving it, or that I care much about it on a personal level.

I am not quite sure it is a book to be proud of – given that it is simply about a season of struggle in my life.

[...] I really hope all those people who voted for me, voted because they were encouraged/touched/helped in some way by reading my book. I hope it wasn't because they knew me, were impressed by my resume (which I think spans three pages of the book), or thought "publishing a book" was an achievement, or any reason of that sort.

I always hope the book is beneficial and encouraging ... that it does not merely draw sympathy, or worse, invite others to drown in my past misery. I am sometimes concerned that I do not communicate this message strongly enough.

[...] Once again, I thank everyone for their well wishes and support!

I recently graduated and am enjoying my new job in Aussie, thrilled at all the learning opportunities coming my way. God takes care of His children and I am learning to trust in (and discover) His plan for my life. – Excerpts from Jasmine Yow's Facebook note on the RCA 2011, Aug 29.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Duhamel to raise funds for flooded US hometown

Posted: 03 Sep 2011 09:48 PM PDT

MINOT, North Dakota (AP): Hollywood actor Josh Duhamel is visiting his North Dakota hometown to raise awareness and money in the wake of a devastating flood there, and he brought along his wife Fergie and her bandmates.

Duhamel mingled with family and community members Saturday at the State Fairgrounds in Minot and later spoke during a benefit concert featuring The Black Eyed Peas.

Minot is recovering from record Souris River flooding this summer that temporarily forced about 11,000 people from their homes and damaged about 4,100 houses and hundreds of businesses.

Organisers say more than 12,000 concert tickets were sold for $100 each.

Duhamel says money from the Minot Rising show and a recovery fund will help buy materials for people rebuilding their homes. Duhamel stars in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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Beauty in simplicity

Posted: 04 Sep 2011 02:02 AM PDT

Common and mundane scenes inspire Calvin Chua's whimsical paintings, which are awash with sweet joy.

IN a world choked by modern trappings, the simple pleasures of days of yore can be rather appealing, especially for one who grew up in the embrace of pristine waterways, fruit orchards and paddy fields.

The passage of time may have taken full-time artist Calvin Chua far from his rural roots of Bukit Pinang, a quaint village in Alor Setar, but it has not changed his affinity for the sights and sounds he grew up with.

So much so that depictions of rural life have long been the central theme of the 50-year-old's oil and watercolour masterpieces. His latest solo exhibition, the fifth in an illustrious career that has spanned three decades, continues that trend.

Fruits Season – River Series II, presently on show at Galeri Seni Mutiara in Penang, features some 25 recent paintings, all bursting to life with depictions of carefree and cheerful kampung folk, juxtaposed against locals fruits, plants and waterways.

"I like to paint subject matter that I'm familiar with, and being a kampung boy who grew up near orchards and paddy fields, it does give me a tinge of nostalgia," Chua said at the opening of the exhibition last weekend.

The artist, now based in Shah Alam, looks back fondly on the days when one could frolic in the river and catch fish and prawns with simple nets – an activity that's all but impossible today, due to over development and pollution.

Several pieces, depicting people with beaming faces as they splash about in streams, rivers and ponds, reflect that longing. Through them, Chua hopes to give viewers a sense of how enjoyable the simple life can be, in the hope that it will spark a change and heighten awareness of conservation issues.

"We have to be sensitive to our environment and do our best to preserve it, otherwise it will disappear," adds the artist, who returns to his hometown every once in a while and has seen the changes through the years.

The other subject in his work, local fruits, is also close to his heart. He loves all kinds of local fruit, and believes they're as good as, or even better, than the imported ones.

"At times, I even go looking for fruits that I used to eat as a kid, but nowadays, they're increasingly hard to find," Chua says, referring to the orchards that have, over the years, made way for development.

A figurative painter by nature, his latest pieces exhibit a whimsical, and even surreal feel – where people, fruits and waterways come together in delightful compositions. A clever interplay of colours brings the entire piece to life.

"They're very Malaysian elements, and I just find a way to blend them all together. Besides, art is a medium of expression, and you're only limited by your imagination.

"I enjoy the challenge of taking a subject that is common and mundane to the average person, and present it in such a way that it becomes attractive and appealing," explain Chua, a fine arts graduate of the Kuala Lumpur College of Art in 1982.

He does a lot of sketching and study work on site, be it with pencils or charcoal, before adding splashes of colour that correspond to the particular mood of the scene. Warm reds, oranges, yellows and browns dominate; it also helps the green flora stand out.

"Colours dictate the mood of the entire piece, and I try to inject a sense of sweetness and joy into my works," adds the Malaysian Young Contemporaries Award and Yayasan Seni Selangor Award winner.

Chua's works grace numerous private and corporate collections. He has taken part in countless art events both locally and abroad, in countries like Sweden, Brazil, Jordan, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Despite all that, he is still as passionate about art now as when he first picked up a brush in his childhood. He works the canvas for six to 12 hours a day now, and cannot envisage himself doing anything else.

"It's funny – when you start painting, you will never feel tired nor want to stop," he says.

Galeri Seni Mutiara director-cum-curator Koay Soo Kau finds Chua's conceptualisation of fruits and rivers both exciting and mesmerising.

"The multiple washes of colour create a fluidity that is flimsy and transparent, yet refreshing. The figurative facial expressions and bodily gestures of children in the water express his own emotions, making for beautiful images and an insightful peek into the artist's carefully studied perception.

"Beauty from an artistic vision comes from seeing with the eyes, and with true passion and feelings from the heart," Koay adds.

Fruits Season – River Series II is on till Sept 11, 11am to 6pm daily. Galeri Seni Mutiara is at No. 118, Armenian Street, Geroge Town. For details, call 04-262 0167.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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