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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Breaking the chains

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 01:10 AM PDT

A village in the Bharatpur district of Rajasthan in India is trying to rid of itself of the sex trade and gets a helping hand from Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor and CNN.

ALTHOUGH human trafficking leaves a black stain in the history of human civilisation, it is thankfully banned the world over today. But in the Bharatpur district of Rajasthan in India, there exists a community where many young girls and women are sold to the sex trade ... often by members of their own family.

The CNN Freedom Project Documentary exposes this violation of human rights through its documentary Trapped By Tradition: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary, which ropes in Bollywood luminary actor/producer Anil Kapoor as a partner. The network's multi-platform initiative aims to expose the horrors of modern-day slavery and to push for change and Kapoor's star power is hoped to cast a more prominent light on the social debacle.

During a recent phone interview from his home base in Mumbai, India, the Slumdog Millionaire star was only too keen to share his thoughts on these despicable happenings in northern India. Right off the bat, it was evident that this was a matter close to his heart, having visited Bharatpur two years prior to this year's return visit and having seen the place in a sadder state of affairs.

With hearty introductions out of the way, the genial superstar was quick to dig into the topic at hand, revealing what gnawed at his senses about the issue: "I've been working with Plan India (part of the global Plan International, a community development organisation dedicated in promoting child rights to eradicate child poverty) as a patron for the organisation.

"When they told me about this place in Rajasthan two or three years ago, I was completely shocked. It's a business there, where the young and impressionable are dragged into it and brainwashed into doing things against their will." So when CNN came a knocking, Kapoor was already familiar with the plight of the women in Bharatpur.

Although the situation still exists, the people in Bharatpur have made progress in changing their ways. "Families used to be viewed poorly when they didn't observe the tradition. Now families who observe that tradition are viewed poorly, which is a complete reversal of the situation and a sign of improvement," he enthused.

Given how the world exists in the information age today, it's a wonder how a place like Bharatpur has existed in the way it has, and stayed under the radar of morality. Surely the people there must have made some attempt at improving their situation?

Having visited the place and seen the plight of the people first hand, Kapoor reckons the seniors and elders there have played a part in attempting to eradicate this social malaise. "Human slavery in today's modern world is unacceptable and unpardonable," reiterated the 51-year-old.

In the documentary, Kapoor is pictured meeting a young "worker" and with her invitation, returns to her home to speak with her mother. The conversation he has with the girl's mother is a heart-wrenching one and it's evident that while the people there are aware that what they do is unenviable, extreme poverty can dull all sense of logic and morality.

Kapoor described the woman as the face of human trafficking, which seemed a trifle unfair seeing as she's just one in many mothers who've allowed their young daughters to walk out the door with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. "You can't sit on the fence. People have to be held accountable," asserted the actor who won his first Filmfare Award in 1984 for Best Supporting Actor in Yash Chopra's movie Mashaal.

Accurately, Kapoor singles out education as the most holistic approach in freeing Bharatpur of its archaic tradition, but that's always easier said than done, seeing as, like the rest of the world, India too is male-dominant.

"When the government and media are aware and keeping a watchful eye, people are more cautious about doing something immoral. Whether it is drugs, terrorism, etc, you are going to be exposed because the laws are stringent. With the aid of politicians and bureaucrats, the situation for the people there can certainly improve," Kapoor said, revealing that Plan India has even built schools there to provide appropriate educational needs.

As a celebrity, Kapoor is able to exert his star power to the cause but it's a very different story for the common man to fight human trafficking. So what can the man on the street do to prevent and combat this situation?

"For starters, they cannot play any part in human trafficking ... don't be involved. If he sees anyone being part of it, try to stop it. Report it to the police ... create a ruckus. If that doesn't work, see the MP ... take it to the highest level necessary. This is all about creating awareness. We live in a democratic country after all," he said assertively.

The living conditions of the girl and her family in the documentary are deplorable to say the least, but the most disturbing aspect of Kapoor's visit to Bharatpur was seeing the mental condition of the people there. "Poverty is the biggest problem. For the sake of survival, they'd do just about anything. They have no money, no jobs ... they're so innocent and vulnerable," he lamented.

There was another young girl, though, featured in the documentary, and she is one of a few from a growing group of young girls who aspires to educate herself and eventually become a movie star.

It's these little success stories though that make it all worthwhile for everyone who aspires to make Bharatpur a loving and civilised society. "She represents hope in that place, but she's just one of many now," Kapoor revealed.

Kapoor's quick to admit that he's not the only celebrity who is expending his energies on worthy causes. "There are many. Shabana Azmi is another person ... she's an activist and is always there to help," he said of his senior in the acting industry, who champions causes supporting child survival and fighting AIDS and injustice in real life.

It's intriguing how the movie that Kapoor has become inextricably associated with, Slumdog Millionaire, is a movie that addresses his interest in similar social concerns, too.

"Yes, Slumdog changed a lot of our lives. For me, living in Mumbai, I know those situations and have lived in those localities ... but when you don't see them, you tend to forget. It's easy to forget or be blinded because you're surrounded by your own needs. I moved on but now I've been reminded where I started. The film helped me be rooted," he conceded.

As far as his acting career is concerned, Kapoor will be appearing in the upcoming Mission: Impossible IV, which screens late this year. "I'm also appearing in the movie, Tezz (which translates to "speed"), which will be released early next year. I play a British cop," shared Kapoor of the thriller, which revolves around a hijacked train.

Acting is clearly his career, but Kapoor's growing concern in life is humanity and when he received positive feedback on the documentary from this writer, he sounded content and safe in the thought that his efforts have not been in vain.

> Trapped By Tradition: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary airs tomorrow at 9pm on CNN (Astro Ch 511).

Men in green

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 01:00 AM PDT

Beret Hijau uses real weapons, no less, in its combat scenes.

WE all know that the Malaysian Armed Forces is guarding our country from any form of threat or invasion. We also know about Warriors' Day or Hari Pahlawan which we celebrate on July 31.

Other than that, we have to admit many of us do not know much about the Malaysian Armed Forces. With that in mind, Global Network Entertainment decided to produce its first drama series based on the Armed Forces' Commando Unit, arguably the toughest and most elite unit.

Titled Beret Hijau, the drama follows Haziq and Kamil, who are from the same village but are opposites in terms of background and personality.

After getting involved in fights with village thugs, Haziq is advised by his uncle to join the army. However, on the day he enters the army, he bumps into Kamil, one of the thugs who beat him up back home. The guys put aside their differences as they embrace army life.

"This is my company's first big budget drama and we went through a series of challenges in producing the 13-episode series," said producer Den Wahab.

At the launch of the series, Den (who is well known for his tailoring business for the who's who in the country) said that the idea for producing Beret Hijau came from Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Budgeted at more than RM500,000, Beret Hijau also saw close collaboration between his company and the Armed Forces.

"Producing a drama series based on the Armed Forces was no mean feat. We had to ensure that all the facts and depiction of army life were accurate.

"Together with the Armed Forces, we decided to focus on army life and its training as accurately as possible. We also used the latest weaponry employed by the Armed Forces," added Den whose real name is Zaharuddin Abdul Wahab.

Filming began in March and it took 70 days to complete. The series was filmed in different army camps in the country, including Kem Terendak in Sungai Udang in Malacca and Kem Sungai Petani in Kedah.

According to its director, Along Kamaruddin, this drama series was the toughest he has handled in his filmmaking career.

"It's difficult to describe, but suffice to say, it was extremely tough, especially when it involved fighting or battle scenes. We were using live bullets and we could not re-shoot the scenes. Everything could only be done once and it had to be perfect and most of all, believable."

Den also hopes that with Beret Hijau, members of the public will be more aware of the Armed Forces and youngsters will be encouraged to join the army.

The series boast a mix of new and established faces such as Aman Graseka (who plays Abu Farsi), Hasnul Rahmat (Soleh), Iqbal Mazlan (Haziq), Lan Mazlan (Kamil), Azie Yahya (Aishah), Chomell Fana (Amirah) Corrie Lee (Sergeant Fong) and Kuswadinata (Pak Ali).

Member of Parliament Khairy Jamaluddin also had a cameo role as a captain and appears in a few parachuting scenes.

> Beret Hijau premieres on TV1 on Sept 30 at 9pm.

What the actors say

Iqbal Mazlan (Haziq)

The actor said he had gained invaluable experience and had a most challenging time filming the series at the army camps in different locations in the country.

"As an actor, what I learnt in 70 days was just a tiny bit of army life and it was very tough. I can't imagine being an army commando as my chosen career.

"But after being exposed to the army life while filming the drama, I can assure you that I have the highest respect for the soldiers.

"My other challenge was playing a kampung boy who joined the army and became a member of the Commando Unit, the toughest and most elite unit of the army.

"I have to portray the changes my character goes through as he takes on more responsibilities," said Iqbal who was the winner of reality show Pilih Kasih.

Lan Mazlan (Kamil)

"My character's an orphan who was raised by his aunt. He just decided to pack his bags and join the army after coming across a recruitment ad.

"Acting as Kamil was a once in a lifetime experience. It was tough. We didn't have any army training prior to filming. It was a big shock when we were told the dos and don'ts when shooting the training and combat scenes.

"I feel privileged to have received insight into army life; the sacrifices they make to safeguard our country.

"I also learned that some of them haven't celebrated Hari Raya with their families in 10 years. I have the highest respect for them."

Corrie Lee (Sergeant Fong)

"It was my first time playing a commando role. Normally I would play a Communist. I remember feeling so proud when I put on my army uniform."

The race continues

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 03:43 PM PDT

No letting up for both the hunters and the hunted.

IT'S been a busy week for both the hunters and the hunted as listeners continue their relentless pursuit of Red FM's Runaway DJs at a chance to win a brand new Proton Inspira.

Every Monday to Friday, the Red FM's Runaway DJs have been going out and about to secret locations. The first listener to turn up at the correct location and identify the Red FM's Runaway DJ of the day receives a key to be in the running to win a car.

Though the on ground search takes a respite on Saturday and Sunday, it's a non-stop entertainment filled weekend over the airwaves as the deejays continue to bring you Today's Best Music.

Check out Red FM's Fresh Forty Chart, Red FM's Skool Daze and Red FM's Remix to get your weekend going. Arnold brings you the latest hits with Red FM's Fresh Forty Chart Show (Saturday, 3pm-7pm). On Red FM's Skool Daze (Saturday, 7pm-11pm), Terry will play all your favourite school days anthems. Then let DJ Razz from Red FM's Remix (Saturday, 11pm-1am) hook you up with the top club songs, electronic dance tracks and dance anthem remixes.

With one week left in this month-long contest, it's a frantic race to grab hold of the key to enter the finale. In addition to the key, bonus prizes such as cash, iPad 2s and iPod Nanos are also given out.

Tune in as clues to their whereabouts are given out on-air as well as through the station's website, Facebook page and Twitter account. The hunt for the Red FM's Runaway DJs stops on Sept 30 at Tropicana City Mall, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, so don't miss out on your chance to pick up a key and join a thrilling finale.

Check out for the terms and conditions of the contest. Join the Red FM Malaysia Facebook fan page ( 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.


The Star Online: World Updates

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U.S. returns paintings looted by Nazis to Polish

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 09:26 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A pair of 19th century paintings by Polish Impressionist Julian Falat, looted by the Nazis nearly seven decades ago, were returned to Polish authorities on Thursday in a ceremony in New York.

President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland accepted the paintings -- "The Hunt" and "Off to the Hunt" -- at Poland's consulate in Manhattan. U.S. officials seized the works of art last year from two New York auction houses.

"The two world wars that we experienced and numerous uprisings ... left Poland's national heritage really impoverished," said Bogdan Zdrojewski, Poland's culture minister. "That is why every object that returns to our country has huge value that is both spiritual and emotional."

In August 1944, German S.S. commander Benne Von Arent confiscated the most valuable items from Poland's National Museum, including the two paintings returned on Thursday. Many of the looted pieces remain missing.

U.S. officials seized the Falat paintings after Poland's government learned in 2006 the works were being offered for sale by two auction houses.

"No one can ever provide just compensation to the victims of the Nazis' atrocities, but it is very gratifying for our office to play a role in returning the art that they looted during World War Two to its rightful owners," said Sharon Levin, chief of the asset forfeiture unit for the federal prosecutor's office.

Falat, who was born in 1853 and died in 1929, is well known for his hunting and landscape paintings.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Palestinian crisis looms over U.N. meeting

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 07:23 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Diplomats scrambled on Thursday to head off a clash over Palestinian plans to seek full U.N. recognition with little visible sign of progress and a deadline less than 24 hours away.

Zena, a 6-year-old Belgian-Palestinian girl, waves a Palestinian flag during a protest in central Brussels September 21, 2011. (REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad briefly seized the spotlight at the United Nations General Assembly, accusing the United States of using the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as a pretext for attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan and condemning western support for Zionism.

But attention focused on the crisis transfixing this year's U.N. meeting. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is ready to submit his application to the U.N. Security Council on Friday despite pressure from U.S. President Barack Obama to forgo the U.N. option and resume direct talks with Israel.

Obama's meetings with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday ended with no breakthrough, illustrating stark new limits on U.S. influence over a process spinning in unpredictable directions.

Obama, whose personal efforts to restart the Middle East peace process have proven fruitless, on Wednesday declared that direct talks were the only path to Palestinian statehood, underscoring unbending U.S. opposition to the U.N. plan.

Obama said the United States will veto any Palestinian move in the Security Council -- a step that would isolate Washington with its ally Israel at a moment of unprecedented political turmoil across the region.

"We understand that the Palestinian people feel like they have waited very long, and far too long, to have their own state. We want to help them achieve that state as quickly as possible," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told U.S. NPR radio.

"But the bottom line is there's no way to accomplish that short of the two sides coming back to the negotiating table," Rice said, calling the Palestinian U.N. bid "unwise and counterproductive."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had her own meetings with Abbas and Netanyahu, said the United States would continue to push for a durable, negotiated peace.

"Regardless of what happens tomorrow in the United Nations, we remain focused on the day after," Clinton told reporters.


Whatever happens at the United Nations, Palestinians will remain under Israeli occupation and any nominal state would lack recognized borders or real independence and sovereignty.

The cash-strapped Palestinians face their own political divisions, and may also incur financial retribution from Israel and the United States that could hobble their efforts to build the framework of government for their homeland.

But in the West Bank, Palestinians have rallied this week to support the U.N. plan, with many expressing anger and disappointment over two decades of failed U.S. peace initiatives.

At the United Nations, diplomats are focused on several scenarios which they hope may contain the damage once Abbas makes his application, as most expect he will.

The Security Council could delay action on Abbas' request, giving the mediating "Quartet" -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and United Nations -- more time to craft a declaration that could coax the two sides back to the table.

But the Quartet may be unable to agree on a statement that could satisfy both Israel and the Palestinians, who remain divided on core issues including borders, the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the future of Jewish settlements.

A senior U.S. official said Quartet envoys met for several hours on Thursday, continued "to work constructively" and would meet again on Thursday evening or Friday morning.

Another option, advanced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, would see the Palestinians go to the General Assembly, which could vote to upgrade the Palestinians from an "entity" to a "non-member state" while reviving direct peace talks.

Sarkozy's plan calls for talks to begin within one month, an agreement on borders and security within six months and a final peace agreement within a year.

The General Assembly route would require only a simple majority of the 193-nation body, not a two-thirds majority necessary for full statehood.

What remains unclear, however, is whether the Palestinians will insist on the right to haul the Israeli government or its officials before war-crimes tribunals or sue them in other global venues -- something Israel opposes.

The Palestinians have pledged to press the Security Council bid while keeping the General Assembly option open.


Iran's Ahmadinejad -- who arrived in New York this year weakened by factional infighting at home -- accused Western powers of a variety of misdeeds and again questioned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as "mysterious."

In what has become a regular piece of political theater, U.S. and other Western delegations walked out of the General Assembly hall during his speech.

Although he did not mention Tehran's disputed nuclear program in his speech, Ahmadinejad said later that Iran would stop producing 20 percent enriched uranium if it is guaranteed fuel for a medical research reactor, seeking to revive a fuel swap deal that fell apart in 2009.

"Any time they can guarantee us this sale ... we will stop 20 percent enrichment," he told reporters, although deep Western skepticism over Iran's nuclear intentions would likely slow any possible resumption of talks. [ID:nS1E78L1ZB]

The Iranian leader, who in the past has called Israel a "tumor" that must be wiped from the map, made only a passing reference to the Palestinian issue in his speech and had no comment on the Palestinians' bid for U.N. recognition.

(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed, John Irish, Louis Charbonneau, Patrick Worsnip, Alistair Lyon and Tom Perry; Editing by Xavier Briand and Todd Eastham)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Thousands riot in south China over land grab -report

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 06:22 PM PDT

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Thousands of people have attacked government buildings in southern China in protest at land sales, a newspaper reported on Friday, the latest outbreak of trouble in the economic powerhouse of Guangdong.

Witnesses in Lufeng city said the protests, in which around a dozen residents were hurt, were triggered by the seizure of hectares of land and their sale to property developer Country Garden for 1 billion yuan ($156.6 million), Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported.

Directing their ire at the local seat of government and attacking buildings including the local Communist Party headquarters and a police station, the angry mob in some cases used "sticks, bricks and their fists," the Post reported.

Roads were also blocked, and a businessman said several thousand villagers had joined demonstrations outside government headquarters since Wednesday.

Earlier this year, in the Guangdong factory town of Zengcheng, thousands of migrant workers went on the rampage over the alleged maltreatment of a female worker, torching government offices, smashing police cars and marching in the thousands through the streets.

The social unrest in one of China's most economically important provinces, encompassing the famed Pearl River Delta "world factory" zone that accounts for around a third of China's exports, has been a challenge for Guangdong Communist Party chief Wang Yang.

Wang, who is widely expected to be promoted to China's highest leadership ranks in a once-in-a-decade leadership transition next year, has called for a more balanced "Happy Guangdong" development model emphasising social harmony.

The Lufeng government confirmed the unrest in a statement issued on Thursday night that "put the number of rioters in the hundreds, and said more than a dozen police were injured and six police cars were overturned on the second day of unrest," the Post reported.

The dispute was triggered on Wednesday morning when villagers demanded the return of their land, the report said. ($1 = 6.388 Chinese Yuan)

(Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters


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Champions South Africa set several milestones in their blitz of Namibia

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 06:09 PM PDT


DEFENDING champions South Africa broke their own Rugby World Cup points record with an 87-0 blitz of doughty Namibia to all but seal a place in the quarter–finals at North Harbour yesterday.

The Springboks didn't quite replicate their landslide 105-13 win of their African neighbours four years ago but they still finished with 12 tries, seven of them coming in the final 20 minutes as the floodgates opened.

It was a night of milestones with the Springboks bettering their previous record winning RWC margin of 66 points against Uruguay in 2003.

South Africa also equalled their own record run of 10 unbeaten games at the World Cup and former IRB Player of the Year Bryan Habana set a new Springbok try–scoring record with his 39th career try.

Winger Gio Aplon, replacement back Juan de Jongh and scrum–half Francois Hougaard all scored try doubles with fly–half Morne Steyn finishing with 20 points.

"Pretty pleased, making progress. In the first half, we got stuck into a few bad habits. But we refocused at halftime, switched our game and got into a bit more shape. We needed the game time," said Springboks skipper John Smit.

The Namibians gave it a crack and held the Springboks to 31-0 at halftime before the effort told and their defensive line cracked wide open.

South Africa moved to 14 points at the top of Group D, eight ahead of Samoa and nine ahead of Wales, needing only one more point in their final group game against Samoa next week to clinch a berth in the last eight.

The Springboks have now collected 153 points in their three games at the World Cup and are moving ominously into form ahead of a likely quarter–final with Australia.

Habana finally overtook Joost van der Westhuizen to establish a new Springbok try–scoring record with his team's second try in the 22nd minute.

Right winger Aplon, who proved a handful for Namibia, scored the opening try after seven minutes helped by centres Jaque Fourie and Frans Steyn.

But the Springbok scoring was stalled by dropped ball and wayward lineout throws until Habana scooted clear after a great cut–out pass from lock Danie Rossouw.

The Springbok pack was relentless with loosehead Gurthro Steenkamp prominent and were awarded a penalty try in the 30th minute after attempts for a pushover try.

Fourie extended his Springbok record for most career tries as a centre to 28 when he scored off a clever Frans Steyn offload. Fourie has now scored nine tries in the World Cup.

Fourie's try claimed South Africa a scoring bonus point and a 31-0 halftime lead.

The impressive Frans Steyn crossed nine minutes after the interval off a Pierre Spies offload and Morne Steyn's conversion pushed the Boks to a 38-0 lead.

Morne Steyn's last act was to convert his own 60th–minute try from the sideline for seven out of seven kicks before he was replaced along with Frans Steyn and Steenkamp.

He finished with 20 points from a try, six conversions and a penalty.

The tries began to flow late in the half as the Namibians got tired with Aplon nabbing his second and replacement de Jongh and Hougaard helping themselves to doubles. – AFP

Player of the Year award a wide open affair

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 06:08 PM PDT

ATLANTA: With Tiger Woods no longer the dominant force he once was, the race for the 2011 PGA Tour's Player of the Year award is intriguingly wide open.

Six players have won twice on the US circuit this season – Steve Stricker, Bubba Watson, Nick Watney, Mark Wilson, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson – while world number one Luke Donald has been Mr. Consistency.

The days of Woods racking up multiple titles, and probably two Majors along the way, are a fading memory and speculation about who might win this year's award has sparked wide debate among the players.

"Player of the Year is much more interesting now than it was for about the last 10 years," Geoff Ogilvy told reporters on the eve of this week's season–ending Tour Championship. "There's actually a discussion."

Asked where he would place the greatest significance in casting his own vote on the players' ballot, Ogilvy replied: "Consistency to me is always very impressive because it's hard to do that.

"It's not easy to win any week, but it's probably easier to win one tournament than it is to be consistent. That blows me away. People who play well every week are incredible.

"But we don't play golf to be consistent, we play golf to win big tournaments, so I guess the successful guy is the guy who wins big tournaments. There's no obvious Player of the Year this year."

Britain's Donald, who has been the most consistent player in the game over the last 12 months but has to yet to win a Major, agreed.

"It is a little bit open," the Englishman said. "There might be a few guys who have more of a shout than others, but I think a win this week would sway a lot of people's minds.

"No one has really dominated as much as they have when Tiger was winning. A few guys have won two events this year, but there's no clear–cut winner."

Woods, a 14–time Major champion, has been voted Player of the Year 10 times in the last 14 years with Mark O'Meara (1998), Vijay Singh (2004), Padraig Harrington (2008) and Jim Furyk (2010) breaking up his monopoly.

However, Woods has been a shadow of his once–dominant self after losing form and fitness following the break–up of his marriage and no other player has managed to take over as a serial winner in a single season.

There have been four different Major champions this year – Charl Schwartzel (Masters), Rory McIlroy (US Open), Darren Clarke (British Open) and Bradley (PGA Championship).

For Matt Kuchar, the 2011 vote should probably go to Donald who won the prestigious WGC–Accenture Match Play Championship and has recorded a season–best 12 top–10s in 17 starts.

"Right now, I'd have to pick Luke Donald," said the American world number eight. "Keegan Bradley, having won the PGA and having won another tournament as well, has thrown his hat in that conversation.

"But Luke Donald, being so consistent and taking over the number one spot in the world and retaining it, is proving that he's been the best player in the world. He plays steady every week and always seems to have a chance." –Reuters

Sapura expect red-hot Azreen to trouble the big guns

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 06:07 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Azreen Rizal Nasir is going great guns for Sapura in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) and much is expected of him as his team prepare to face the top guns.

The 22-year-old Penang-born player has scored five goals in two matches and Sapura expect him to continue firing on all cylinders in the next two weeks.

Sapura play UniKL today and Nur Insafi and UiTM next weekend.

Sapura coach I. Vickneswaran said that Azreen had matured as a player since joining Sapura in 2009.

"He was just a fringe player in the last two years, drifting in and out of the national training squad," he said.

"But all that changed when he received a last-minute call-up to the Guangzhou Asian Games team last year. He has since become a regular."

All five of Azreen's goals have been from field attempts. He scored a hat-trick against Armed Forces on Sept 18 and followed it up with a brace in the 3-2 win over Maybank on Wednesday.

But Azreen is not an out-and-out forward. Instead, he operates from the midfield, where he partners S. Kuhan and Mohd Marhan Jalil.

"He gets into a lot of space by coming in from behind. So, he often finds himself in good scoring positions. The team work is also good and there is good support from those around him," said Vickneswaran.

Sapura plan to collect full points against UniKL today in the hope that it will keep them at the top end of the standings.

Sapura are second in the standings with six points, trailing Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) on goal difference.

But Vickneswaran knows it won't be easy against a UniKL side who are desperate to collect full points after dropping two in their opening draw with UiTM.

Besides, UniKL will be in high spirits after the morale-boosting 4-3 win over YNS on Wednesday lifted them into third spot, two points behind the joint leaders.


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US and global stocks plunge suggesting deepening worry(update2)

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 05:51 PM PDT

NEW YORK, Sept 22 (Reuters) U.S. stocks plunged on Thursday, extending a selloff to four days, as policymakers' failure to arrest global economic stagnation sent markets spiraling downward.

The heavy volume of Thursday's plunge signaled investors are selling in anticipation of more losses. Wall Street's "fear gauge," the CBOE Volatility Index, jumped 12 percent, giving the index its biggest 2day percentage spike in a month as investors protected against more losses to come.

Energy and materials shares were among the hardest hit areas on worries of slowing worldwide demand. Signs of a slowdown in China fed those fears.

"It's tough to find anything that is a positive catalyst for the market, either domestically or internationally," said TD Ameritrade Chief Derivatives Strategist J.J. Kinahan.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 391.01 points, or 3.51 percent, to 10,733.83.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 37.20 points, or 3.19 percent, to 1,129.56.

The Nasdaq Composite Index slid 82.52 points, or 3.25 percent, to 2,455.67.

Declining stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,724 to 343, while on the Nasdaq, decliners beat advancers 2,230 to 353.

Weak data from China followed an unsettling outlook about the U.S. economy from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday in stoking recession fears.

The previous session's losses were sparked after the Fed said it saw "significant downside risks" facing the economy.

China's oncebooming manufacturing sector contracted for a third consecutive month, while the euro zone's dominant service sector shrank in September for the first time in two years.

Those searching for positive market signs could point to the benchmark S&P 500 index holding above 1,120, seen as a key technical support level which could trigger more selling if broken.

"We haven't seen the market completely tilt just yet, so that does show there is some resilience.

There is some fresh capital on the sideline and people aren't necessarily hitting the panic button," said Joseph Greco, managing director at Meridian Equity Partners in New York.

"If we tested 1,100 that is where we could see a really sharp decline from there."

Volume of about 13.24 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq was well above the daily average of 7.8 billion and the highest since Aug. 10.

U.S. crude crude oil futures tumbled more than 6 percent, the biggest oneday percentage drop in six weeks.

The PHLX oil service sector index tumbled 6.6. Schlumberger slid 6 percent to 61.22.

The S&P materials index fell 5.5 percent, with miner FreeportMcMoRan Copper & Gold Inc off 9.7 percent to $32.14.

Banks also lost ground with the KBW bank index off 2.7. Citigroup shares were down 6.1 percent to $23.96.

The Fed's plan to lower longterm rates will compress margins for banks that borrow at shortterm rates and lend at longerterm rates. The declines also came a day after Moody's cut debt ratings for big lenders.

FedEx Corp, considered to be an economic bellwether, slumped 8.2 percent to $66.58 after the world's No. 2 package delivery company pared its outlook for the full year.

In addition to the statement on Wednesday, the U.S. central bank detailed additional stimulus measures to help push down longterm rates.

Investors worried the latest plan would have little effect on lending and that there appeared to be few solutions to sluggish worldwide demand.

Near the close, traders exchanged about 1.10 million option contracts in the S&P 500 Index as 2.69 puts were in play for each call, according to Trade Alert. That puttocall ratio was higher than the 22day moving average of 1.77.

Overnight Reuters reported Recession fears spark stock, commodities rout

NEW YORK, Sept 22 (Reuters) World stocks and commodities tumbled on Thursday as weak data from China crystallized investor fears of a global recession one day after a grim economic outlook from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Stocks tumbled more than 4 percent and commodities took a beating. The U.S. dollar climbed to a sevenmonth high against major currencies as investors fled risky assets. Private sector business activity in Europe and China declined sharply this month, pushing investors to the safety of U.S. government bonds, where benchmark yields again touched lows not seen in 60 years.

Data showing contraction in China's manufacturing sector for a third straight month helped drive down oil prices by more than 4 percent in London and sent the price of copper to a oneyear low.

Gold, a traditional safe haven, dropped nearly 5 percent to its lowest in nearly one month as the dollar strengthened.

Thursday's market meltdown came after weeks of worries that Europe's debt crisis could freeze the global financial system, and a day after the Federal Reserve disappointed markets with its latest effort to boost the economy by lowering longterm borrowing costs.

The Fed also spooked investors with a particularly stark assessment of the U.S. economic outlook.

"Global growth worries today are even more prominent than the sovereign crisis, and that's not because sovereign crisis risk has diminished, it's because global growth worries have clearly increased," said Patrick Moonen, equity strategist at ING Investment Management.

World stocks as measured by MSCI hit a 13month low and were last down 4.7 percent, bringing the yeartodate loss to 16.3 percent.

The decline also came amid concerns that the U.S. government is headed for another budget fight.

The House of Representatives unexpectedly defeated a bill that would fund the federal government past Sept. 30.

"Here we are, likely facing yet another recession, lacking in confidence, with limited jobs opportunity, hanging our star on a president and Congress that can't agree on what day it is, while offering very little hope of anything meaningful in terms of a jobs solution or a fix for the housing market," said Kevin Giddis, managing director of fixed income at Morgan Keegan in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Fed's statement that the U.S. economy faces "significant downside risks" and worry that the U.S. central bank's $400 billion program would be insufficient to jumpstart growth brought fears of another global recession to the forefront.

Investors, already worried about a possible Greek debt default and the euro zone's intractable debt crisis, see governments unable to respond to the problems.

U.S. stocks headed for their biggest drop in more than a month, extending losses for a fourth straight session, and European shares slumped to a 26month closing low.

Emerging markets stocks slid 6.5 percent. Overnight in Asia, Japan's Nikkei fell 2.07 percent.

Friday's early developments

* Australian shares dropped 2 percent on Friday, tracking Wall Street lower, after a grim economic outlook from the U.S. Federal Reserve triggered falls in world stocks and commodities.

Among the biggest losers, global miners Rio Tinto fell 5.2 percent, after losing 10.8 percent in London and BHP Billiton fell 3.7 percent, after falling 8.3 percent overnight, on concerns about slowing demand for minerals demand.

* New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 1.4 percent to 3,266.8 in morning trade.

* Seoul shares opened sharply lower on Friday as concerns about global economic stagnation deepened on debt problems in Europe and an increasingly grim U.S. and Chinese economic outlook.

Falls were led by crude oil refiners and shipbuilders, with SK Innovation , the country's top refiner, down 6.3 percent and Hyundai Heavy Industries , the world's top shipyard, tumbling 7.1 percent.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index was down 3.43 percent at 1,738.86 points as of 0003 GMT

Soros makes Forbes Top 10 rich list

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 05:45 PM PDT

SINGAPORE: Microsoft founder Bill Gates has retained his top spot on the Forbes 2011 ranking of the richest people in America with US$59bil.

The number two spot went to Warren Buffett with US$39bil and Larry Ellison (No. 3) with US$33bil.

George Soros (pic), in seventh spot, joins the Top 10 for the first time, with US$22bil, and is one of the 27 hedge fund managers – 7% of the Forbes 400 – featured in Hedged Fortunes.

This year, entrepreneurs dominate the ranks, comprising an all-time high of 70% of the Forbes 400 members.

Enthusiasm for popular brands, like Starbucks and Forever 21, has helped boost some fortunes, while the spread of social media has sparked others.

The combined wealth of America's richest is US$1.5 trillion, with an average net worth of US$3.8bil, reflecting a 12% uptick from 2010.

Wealth was up for 262 members of this year's list, while 72 members saw a decline.

The Forbes 400 welcomed 18 new members in 2011 (Fresh faces), including Sean Parker (No. 200) who rocked the music industry with Napster and helped build Facebook (agent of disruption), John Henry (No. 375), majority owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC, Jeffrey Skoll (No. 139) whose Participant Media's most recent release, "The Help", has grossed nearly US$143mil to date and Forever 21's Jin Sook & Do Won Chang (No. 88).

Every member of the Top 20 gained wealth this year, with the exception of Buffett, down US$6bil from 2010, the largest dollar amount loss of any 400 member.

The year's biggest dollar gainer is Mark Zuckerberg (No. 14), who cracked the Top 20 with a gain of US$10.6bil.

Among the 42 women on the list are media mogul Oprah Winfrey (No. 139) newcomer Gayle Cook (No. 96) and Meg Whitman (No. 331). – Bernama

Foster’s CEO defends sale of brewer

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 05:42 PM PDT

SYDNEY: Foster's executives defended the decision to approve a takeover for the iconic Australian brewer that will put it in foreign hands for the first time in its 150-year history.

The beer giant, which produces VB and Crown Lager, has agreed to an improved offer worth A$9.9bil, or A$5.10 per share, from Anglo-South African brewer SABMiller.

It follows Foster's rejection of a hostile bid from the same company, whose brands include Grolsch and Miller Lite, of A$9.51bil in August.

Shares in the Australian brewer gained 7.57% to close at A$5.26, while Moody's placed the company's rating on review for possible upgrade.

Foster's chief executive officer John Pollaers said the deal would open up new opportunities and he did not expect opposition from the government or regulators.

"Ultimately this is a great deal for a company and frankly a great deal for the staff and our customers," he told ABC television.

But not everyone is happy that the firm, whose origins in Melbourne date back to the 1850s, was falling into foreign hands.

Former Foster's chief John Elliot said he was aghast and hit out at management.

"It is a disaster. One of the great Australian icons is now gone because of exceptionally bad management and an exceptionally bad board," he told The Australian newspaper.

With Lion Nathan already in the hands of Japanese brewer Kirin, the Foster's takeover will leave Coopers as the biggest Australian-owned beer company with around 4% of the market.

There had been concern that Foster's head-office would not remain in Australia but Pollaers said "you can't really move a brewery making VB anywhere else". - AFP


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Interview with a vampire

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 01:40 AM PDT

Irish actor Colin Farrell had the time of his life chomping on necks in his latest movie.

WHEN he was first offered the part of Jerry Dandridge, the sinister, murderous vampire in this year's remake of the 1985 horror classic Fright Night, Colin Farrell was hesitant. He wasn't keen on doing a remake of a cult classic of which he is a fan.

Remakes, reckoned Farrell, could go disastrously wrong and after suffering several epic setbacks in movies that didn't go well – namely Alexander (2004) and Miami Vice (2006) – Farrell wanted to stay under the radar. He didn't want to do another movie that could lead him to the firing squad again, even though he redeemed himself in Martin McDonagh's In Bruges in 2008.

"This was a remake of something that I knew and loved and held in such nostalgic esteem," he's been quoted as saying, on online movie portal, "When I watched it for the first time, I was 10 or 11 and I loved it. I've seen it maybe 20 times since. I was worried about the notion of being involved. The ego doesn't want to be involved in remakes because then people go, 'Remakes? That's unoriginal ... uncool'."

But Farrell is Jerry in the recently released horror flick directed by Craig Gillespie. What changed?

"Well, I needed a job. I'd not been working for six months and I needed work," he half-jokes during a telephone interview recently. "I should probably say that I liked it too."

The truth is, Farrell had fun reading the script by Marti Noxton (of Buffy The Vampire Slayer). "I can't work on a movie if I don't like the script and this one was really fun to read. I also spoke to Craig Gillespie and I really liked what he had planned for the movie. He had a really clear idea of how he wanted to tell the story. I'd seen Lars And The Real Girl (Gillespie's earlier movie starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Mortimer) and loved it. Craig has the ability to strike a balanced tone between the absurd and comedic elements," shares Farrell, 35.

In the 3D update of Fright Night, Farrell plays a sinister vampire who moves in next door to Charley Brewster, a naive high school student (played by Anton Yelchin), and his mother (Toni Collette). A series of incidences makes Charley suspect his neighbour may be a vampire responsible for a string of recent deaths. But no one believes him. So, he enlists Peter Vincent (David Tennant), a self-proclaimed vampire killer and Las Vegas magician to help him take down Jerry.

Being involved in Fright Night and Horrible Bosses (another movie opportunity that came along around the same time) was a welcome respite for Farrell after having portrayed many dramatic characters in the past.

"I was looking for something a little lighter. They (the previous roles) were a lot of fun but they were heavy jobs, you know, and I wanted something light. What could be more fun than playing a vampire and killing people?" says the charming actor who is from Castleknock, a district in Dublin, Ireland.

Apart from In Bruges (for which he won a best male performance Golden Globe), Farrell was last seen in Triage (2009) a drama in which he plays a photojournalist who has just returned from war and Ondine (2009), a romantic drama which features him as a fisherman in love with a mermaid.

Farrell made his acting debut in Ballykissangel, a popular BBC TV drama set in Ireland, but was first discovered while acting on stage at the Donmar Warehouse in London by actor Kevin Spacey who recommended him for a role in the crime drama Ordinary Decent Criminal (2000). This led to him being cast in director Joel Schumacher's war movie Tigerland (2000). Playing the cocky young Texas soldier Boz in Tigerland turned out to be Farrell's breakout role – he was cast in five other movies almost consecutively after that stellar performance.

After American Outlaws (2001), Hart's War (2002), Phone Booth (2002), The Recruit (2003) and Daredevil (2003), Farrell soon became Hollywood's new leading man. Unfortunately, his quick rise to fame came with complications. It wasn't long before he fell victim to addiction.

The brash Irish actor began making headlines not for his acting accomplishments, but his party-boy ways. Alcohol, drugs and dalliances with numerous women (which resulted in two sons, seven-year-old James and Henry, two) were his all-consuming pursuits.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Farrell described described himself as going through a stage of "profound arrested development" at the time.

He was falling into a downward spiral and things only got worse when Alexander (Oliver Stone's RM465mil "pet" project ) bombed at the box office worldwide. Farrell was gutted.

"That was a strong one," Farrell was quoted saying later. "But if you're going to fail, fail spectacularly. Which is kind of what that film did, critically, creatively, financially."

The fact that Miami Vice was also fraught with problems didn't help the actor's confidence – the film went over schedule, over budget and director Michael Mann reportedly kept changing the script, leading to chaos on set. Worse, lead star Jamie Foxx walked off the set in the Dominican Republic after someone got shot by a security officer (who was reportedly a gang member), and the cast and crew had to deal with unsafe weather conditions (hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma all happened during the filming).

It was all a little too much and after filming completed, Farrell checked himself into rehab.

It's been six years and the determined star seems to have his life back on track. He's moved on from party boy to ... erm, vampire?

"I think every boy actor wants to play a vampire or a boxer," says Farrell about his role as the blood-sucking Jerry. "I've loved vampire films since I was young."

Because he is such a huge fan of vampire films, Farrell found himself having to go through a ritual before he went on set – he'd do a Dracula impression before each scene.

Farrell explains: "There is so much vampire lore embedded in my brain ... from Nosferatu (1922) to Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) to Fright Night and the Count in Sesame Street. There was this voice in my head that I just had to get out of my system so that I wouldn't take it into my scenes. I had to get it out, that's all."

Farrell has said in previous interviews that his portrayal of Jerry is very different from the original version.

He says: "This vampire was designed in a very specific way ... as a sexual predator, a survivalist, as kind of the ultimate example of carnivorous existence. Someone that reacts without compunction or remorse or even contemplation.

"It was less appealing to me than the kind of vampire initially designed. I found him kind of oppressive so I asked: 'Does he have to pick her up in the night club? Can we not have the seduction anymore? Can we do this, can we do that?' and two weeks into the film, Craig was like 'Colin, you're fighting the wrong fights. You address what's in the script but bring something new to it.'

"And so, I had to engage myself with this animal, this beast and then after deliberation, I started to enjoy walking around in his shoes, engaging with that cruel sense of power that Jerry carries with himself throughout the whole film. He so gets off on his own power and also, he's really bored. He's bored and he's so sick of these humans because they're so dull and he needs them to feed. And if he can get some sport out of them, that's all well and good."

Filming, says Farrell, was a lot of fun.

"We shot most scenes in Rio Rancho, (a desert community northwest of Albuquerque) New Mexico, in the United States. It was a really beautiful town ... quite romantic. I had a blast on the set ... we worked really long hours, maybe 10 to 12 hours a day but it was a blast. I mean, I was chomping on a couple of necks every day!

"No ... it was a great cast and everyone was on the same page," he said.

Having taken on the challenge of acting in the remake of an iconic movie with a considerable fan base, Farrell says he wasn't necessarily anxious when playing the re-imagined Jerry but he does hope that Fright Night fans enjoy the film.

"I kind of always feel pressure when I do any film," he says. "I know that the original was held very highly by a lot of people and I just hope they watch this with an open mind."

> Fright Night is now playing in cinemas nationwide.

Coming soon

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 01:10 AM PDT

Libas – Adnan is the country's top sepak takraw player. He no longer competes, but makes it his life mission to coach younger players and get them to win back the title of top team in the World Takraw Championship. However, these days Adnan is finding it harder to get talented players as not many youths are interested in the traditional sport anymore.

Desperate, Adnan has no choice but to train two bumbling fools to become champions in the upcoming tournament. Starring Rosyam Nor, Scha Al-Yahya, Johan and Fadzly Kamarulzaman.

Killer Elite – Based on real-life events, this movie tells the story of a former Special Ops agent who is forced to come out of retirement to save his mentor from the clutches of three assassins who are well-known for being ruthless and cunning. Starring Robert De Niro, Jason Statham and Clive Owen.

Taylor Lautner sees new dawn with Abduction

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 12:50 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters): To legions of teenage girls and fans of the Twilight films, Taylor Lautner will always be known as Jacob Black, the werewolf who competes with a vampire for the love of a young woman.

But today, the boyishly handsome actor with the six-pack strong abdomen hopes to broaden his appeal to wider audiences, headlining movie marquees on his own for the very first time in action thriller Abduction.

Lautner, 19, finds himself the sole person on the movie's poster with his name above the title -- a major fete for any actor in Hollywood. And he must prove not only that he can draw audiences to box offices, but also that Lautner -- like Cruise or Pitt or Clooney before him -- can be a powerful brand name.

Abduction marks the inaugural film of his production company Quick Six, which he runs with his father, Dan Lautner, and the hope is that there will be many more to come.

"I'd be lying if I said I did not feel any pressure whatsoever right now," Lautner confessed to Reuters. "But I'm trying not to focus on that."

Directed by John Singleton, the film sees Lautner portray a teenager named Nathan who learns that his parents aren't really his and that his life has been a lie.

When he's targeted by trained assassins for reasons unknown to him, Nathan goes on the run with his neighbor Karen (Lilly Collins). While evading capture, he and Karen must piece together the truth of his life, while protecting themselves from certain death.

Though Lautner has been working consistently in films and on TV for over 10 years -- including roles in The Adventures Of Sharkboy And Lavagirl 3-D and Cheaper By The Dozen 2 -- he said it wasn't' until the media began buzzing about New Moon, the second installment of the Twilight franchise, that he started being approached for other projects.

He was drawn to Abduction because he "fell in love with the character, the journey he went on, and I knew it would be challenging for me physically and emotionally."

Lautner -- who is a martial arts champion -- was eager to take on the stunts required for the action-packed movie.

"I was excited to use my martial arts and some of my athleticism in this, but there were some new things I had never done before," he said. "I never boxed before and motorcycling was new."

But acting is more than stunts, and Lautner said he found it challenging to relate to Nathan when the young character learns the life he has led is in fact, a lie.

"If that happened to me, I have no idea what I would do and that's exactly what Nathan is dealing with," said Taylor. "Abduction stretched me as an actor and challenged me emotionally way more than I've ever been challenged before."

In fact, Lautner said working on Abduction -- which he shot before going back to work on The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part One) and Part Two -- made him that much better of an actor to return to the Jacob Black role.

Lautner said that in Breaking Dawn, Jacob starts out as the same immature character viewers have come to know, but when he realizes the girl he loves has married the vampire, "he's forced to finally mature, to step up and be a man and deal with those emotions."

He said that with the Twilight movies now wrapped, "It's weird knowing that we're not going back to these characters we've lived with for the past four years.

"It was sad when we finished because we had all become so close. The biggest thing I've taken away are the relationships."

And Taylor's sentiments are not just confined to his co-stars, but to the Twilight fans, as well.

"I really do owe them everything," he said. "Those who have supported us for the last four years are the reason I was able to make this movie, so I definitely made Abduction for them."


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PM: Barisan govt always ahead of time in bringing change

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 08:01 AM PDT

KUALA SELANGOR: The Barisan Nasional-led government has constantly been ahead of the times in bringing change to the nation said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Thursday.

"The changes are not only now, but from the start in our pursuit for independence. We have been ahead of the times with our approaches, which were not thought of by other nations.

"For instance, in pursuing independence, the government was represented by all races. In the 1950s, nobody thought of this. In Northern Ireland, the Catholics and Protestants clashed for generations before it was resolved a few years ago via the power-sharing approach," he told thousands at a dinner hosted by the Barisan Assemblymen's Club here.

He reminded the people not to fall for the Opposition's promises for change, as they had constantly failed to deliver.

"We must remember their biggest lie ever in history, when they said that the Barisan government will fall on Sept 16, 2008 and that they will take over Putrajaya," he said.

He pointed out that PKR was facing infighting and that had resulted in many people leaving the party, while DAP and PAS did not get along in many issues, including the formation of the Islamic state.

"We will bring change. We won't promise change, (but) we will deliver change," he said.

More in The Star on Friday

Australia to ease visa rules to woo foreign students

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 06:28 AM PDT

MELBOURNE: Witnessing a steep decline in foreigners' enrolment in its universities, Australia on Thursday announced that it would relax some visa requirements to win back overseas students.

The new changes, expected to be enforced from the second semester of 2012 in the Australian universities, follow a review of the student visa programme led by ex-New South Wales government minister Michael Knight, Press Trust of India reports.

Under the new rules, the financial requirements for student visas will be eased and applicants would need about A$36,000 less in their bank account than they do now.

And new post-study work visas will allow students to remain in Australia for two to four years after their course ends, depending on their level of qualification.

Significantly, Canberra had earlier tightened the visa regime stating that many came to Australia to settle down by taking admissions in non-skilled vocational courses like cookery and hair-cutting.

"We were taking hairdressers from overseas in front of doctors and nurses, it didn't make any sense," Australian immigration authorities had said last year while tightening the visa rules.

Overall, 50,540 fewer international students were granted visas to study in Australia in 2009-10 compared with 2008-09.

The Australian authorities also said that students applying for various course will also have to prove they are genuine students and genuine about returning home.

"It's not enough to be genuine about your studies and have no intention of going home, nor is it enough to be genuine about going home but not serious about your studies," Knight was quoted as saying in the report.

The Knight report made 41 recommendations, which have been accepted by the government.

Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans said the changes would help Australian universities to be more competitive in the international market.

"They have articulated for a long time that the visa processes are a barrier to attracting students in an increasingly competitive environment," he said.

Evans said the sector's previous growth rate was unsustainable and could not continue.

"I think we had some of those problems with student welfare because the system had just grown too quickly," he said.

"This will help put this sector on a very good footing to continue to grow." - Bernama

DPM: M’sia not ready for hudud laws

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 06:05 AM PDT

Published: Thursday September 22, 2011 MYT 9:05:00 PM

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is not ready for the implementation of hudud law, says Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The Deputy Prime Minister said as a multi-racial and multi-religious country, Malaysia was not ready to introduce hudud laws as brought up by PAS leaders.

"Our stand is that in Malaysia, we cannot implement it in the present situation. I do not think in the present condition, it is suitable for implementation. We did not question the need to implement hudud law," he told a news conference after chairing a Cabinet Committee on Supply and Prices meeting here Thursday.

Muhyiddin said hudud laws could only be implemented when the situation was really conducive.

He said explanation and understanding of theses laws needed to be extended to cover all the people in the country so that they truly understood them.

"As a Muslim, I cannot reject hudud law. This is a fact from the Islamic law aspect but its implementation has become a subject of debate today. If Nik Aziz (Kelantan Mentri Besar) said it would be implemented in Kelantan, it is his wish," he added.

Under hudud laws, thieves hands are chopped off, adulterers stoned to death and murderers executed. - Bernama


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