Sabtu, 24 September 2011

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro


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The Star Online: World Updates

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U.S. says Russia 'reset' to last, Putin fuels doubts

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 09:40 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration said on Saturday the "reset" in relations it has pursued with Russia would remain on track despite a looming leadership reshuffle in Moscow widely expected to return Vladimir Putin to the presidency next year.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside Moscow's Kremlin February 23, 2011. (REUTERS/Ivan Sekretarev/Pool/Files)

The White House made clear that President Barack Obama would press ahead with efforts to repair relations regardless of who takes over in the Kremlin. Analysts said Putin's comeback could complicate -- and possibly slow -- the process of reconciliation between the former Cold War foes.

Putin declared on Saturday that he planned to reclaim the Russian presidency in an election next March that could open the way for the former KGB spy to rule until 2024.

The announcement ended months of speculation over whether he or his protege, President Dmitry Medvedev -- who has forged a close working relationship with Obama -- would run. It also makes it all but certain that Putin will return to office because of his United Russia party's grip on power.

With Putin considered by Washington to be the "Alpha dog" of the ruling "tandem" since yielding the presidency in 2008 and becoming prime minister, his decision did not come as a surprise to the U.S. foreign policy establishment.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said Obama's diplomatic outreach to Russia -- which the president declared from the outset to be a centerpiece of his global agenda -- did not depend on "individual personalities" at the top.

"We will continue to build on the progress of the reset whoever serves as the next president of Russia because we believe that it is in the mutual interests of the United States and Russia and the world," Vietor said in statement.

Since taking office in 2009, Obama has made it a foreign policy priority to fix relations with Moscow, which frayed in the final stretch of Putin's presidency when George W. Bush was also nearing the end of his eight-year tenure as U.S. leader.

The "reset" -- as the Obama administration dubbed it -- has yielded a new U.S.-Russia nuclear arms reduction treaty and what Washington sees as improved diplomatic cooperation, including help in pressuring Iran over its nuclear program and logistical support for U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan.

But U.S. missile defense plans and fallout from the 2008 Russia-Georgia war have remained major irritants.


Matthew Rojansky, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that while the reset could not have proceeded without Putin's blessing, his stridently nationalistic tone -- compared to Medvedev's technocratic approach -- would bring new uncertainty to the relationship.

"Putin's way is security, stability and power -- and 'don't mess with Russia,'" he said. "That doesn't mean the reset disappears the day he takes office. There's too much at stake."

Though the White House sought to play down such concerns, Rojansky predicted that any major diplomatic initiatives could be stalled while the power shift in Moscow is sorted out.

James Goldgeier, a Russia expert at American University in Washington, said the United States and Russia have too much common interest on issues such as global economic recovery and containing China to keep things on hold for long. "There will be a businesslike relationship, but not a warm one," he said.

As prime minister, Putin has occasionally been stridently critical of U.S. policies. He raised eyebrows in Washington last month when he accused the United States of living beyond its means "like a parasite" on the global economy.

Obama has cultivated a relationship with Medvedev -- they are of similar age and temperament and are both lawyers -- but has less-direct dealings with Putin.

"While we have had a very strong working relationship with President Medvedev, it's worth noting that Vladimir Putin was prime minister throughout the reset," Vietor said.

U.S.-Russia relations warmed at first under Putin's presidency. He telephoned Bush to offer condolences -- followed by support for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan -- after the Sept. 11 attacks by al Qaeda militants in 2001.

The two developed a close rapport but ties gradually deteriorated. Relations hit what many saw as a post-Cold War low three months after the end of Putin's presidency, when Russia fought a war with pro-Western Georgia.

(Editing by Will Dunham)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Cain upsets Perry in Florida Republican straw poll

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 08:39 PM PDT

ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - Former pizza executive Herman Cain surprised rival Rick Perry with an upset victory on Saturday in a Republican presidential straw poll in Florida, dealing a disappointing loss to the Texas governor two days after a shaky debate performance.

Presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks to delegates during the Republican Party of Florida Presidency 5 Convention in Orlando, Florida, September 24, 2011. (REUTERS/Phelan Ebenhack)

Perry, leading in the polls for the 2012 U.S. Republican presidential nomination to run against Democratic President Barack Obama, had needed a victory in what was an early test of strength to salve the wounds left over from a debate with his rivals on Thursday in which he struggled.

Instead, former Godfather's Pizza executive Cain, who is far behind the two top-tier candidates Perry and Mitt Romney in national polls, won with 37 percent of 2,657 votes cast.

Perry was a distant second at 15 percent, just ahead of Romney, who won 14 percent despite not participating in the poll. Further back were Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann.

Florida's straw poll is nonbinding and significant only in terms of showing a candidate's strength in the state. State contests to pick the nominee do not start until next year.

The Perry camp shrugged off the results.

"Cain won, we still have work to do," said Perry spokesman Mark Miner. "It's his day. The conservative message won today. We've been in this race for five weeks. We're going to continue campaigning hard."

Miner put the focus on Romney's third-place finish, saying Perry's chief rival has been running for president for years and is still not breaking through.

"It's more of what happened to Mitt Romney. He's not going to be crowned president of the United States. He's going to have to work for it. And after five and a half years he once again got rejected in a key state in the Republican primary process," Miner said.

Perry created doubts among some conservatives at a Republican candidates debate on Thursday, which he admitted on Friday was not his best performance. He was criticized by his rivals for a Texas policy that allows children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at Texas colleges.


"Perry doesn't stand for our constitutional values," said delegate Kris Anne Hall, who voted for Cain. "Perry doesn't stand up against illegal immigration."

Perry surrogate Michael Williams, addressing the straw poll delegates on Saturday before the vote, sought to do some damage control for the Texas governor, who had addressed an Orlando breakfast earlier before campaigning in Michigan.

"We're not electing a debater-in-chief, we're electing a commander-in-chief," said Williams, adding that no Texas illegal immigrant had received a handout for a free education.

Cain, who promotes himself as a pragmatic problem-solver with a clear tax reform plan, eagerly welcomed the victory. "This is a sign of our growing momentum and my candidacy that cannot be ignored," Cain said after his win.

Most political analysts give him no chance of winning the nomination.

But Florida's Republican Party noted that, since 1979, every winner of the Florida straw poll has gone on to become the nominee. Senator John McCain won it in the 2008 cycle and defeated Romney to become the nominee.

Florida, the most populous of the presidential swing states, is a critical test for both Republicans and Democrats. The Florida vote was so close in the 2000 election that it led to a ballot recount battle between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, who was ruled the winner.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Bachmann chose not to compete in the straw poll but their names were put on the ballot since they took part in the debate and spoke to delegates in Orlando.

Perry issued a statement after the straw poll results were revealed that was clearly aimed at Romney.

"Floridians and voters nationally want a candidate who is clear on the issues and talks honestly about the future, not someone who takes multiple sides of an issue and changes views every election season," Perry said.

Romney also held off from directly targeting Perry in a speech later on Saturday in Michigan. Instead, he took aim at Obama and made his case against Perry indirectly.

Romney called for strict measures to stop illegal immigrants, and echoed his contention that the country needs a businessman like himself, not a career politician like Obama or Perry, to solve U.S. economic problems.

"Those skills are what are needed in America today," said Romney, the multimillionaire founder of private equity firm Bain Capital.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington; editing by Todd Eastham)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Power blackout stuns Chile, halts copper mines

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 08:39 PM PDT

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A massive power blackout paralyzed crucial copper mines in Chile on Saturday and darkened vast swaths of the country including the capital Santiago before energy started to be restored, officials said.

A man waits for the bus during a blackout in Vina del Mar city, about 121 km (75 miles) northwest of Santiago, September 24, 2011. (REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez)

The outage acutely exposed the fragility of the energy grid in the world's top copper producer, which was devastated by a powerful earthquake in 2010.

Critics have blamed Chilean President Sebastian Pinera for under-investment in infrastructure and his popularity ratings have dropped since taking office last year. Prior to the power failure, he has already struggling with massive protests by university students demanding deep educational reforms.

Engineers scrambling to restore power were able to get the lights turned on in at least some districts of Santiago and at the sprawling El Teniente copper mine of state-owned Codelco, officials and Reuters witnesses said.

Chilean Energy Minister Rodrigo Alvarez said the cause of the failure was unknown but that computers that help run the energy grid had also malfunctioned.

"This affects the fourth and seventh region, or much of the country's most populous area," he said on state TV. Those regions include about 10 million people in the center of the country.

Angloamerican said operations at its Los Bronces mine was halted by the blackout and state-run Codelco said its Andina division was also paralyzed.

Authorities said the Collahuasi and Chuquicamata mines in the far north of Chile were not affected and that the power outage did not extend to them.

(Reporting by Moises Avila; editing by Todd Eastham)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Baddeley close to fulfilling Presidents Cup dream

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 06:32 PM PDT

ATLANTA (Reuters): All year, Aaron Baddeley has dreamed of playing in his first Presidents Cup and the Australian has given himself every chance of achieving that goal at this week's Tour Championship.

Baddeley is among a handful of contenders for the final two spots on Greg Norman's 12-man International team to take on the United States at Royal Melbourne Golf Club from Nov. 17-20.

Norman gave his fellow Australian a timely pep talk earlier this week, and Baddeley has capitalised on that motivation by surging into a tie for the lead in Saturday's third round.

"That's been a huge goal of mine, to make that team and play down in Melbourne," Baddeley told reporters after firing a six-under-par 64 at East Lake to end the day level with American Hunter Mahan at nine-under 201.

"It was definitely on the forefront of my mind to be able to knuckle down, play well this week and show Greg that I've got some form."

Asked what Norman had told him during their conversation, Baddeley replied: "He told me he was just going to watch this week. He told me one other guy he was going to watch, and that was about it.

"He said: 'Just go out, play good, win the golf tournament'. I said: 'All right'. For me it's a motivator."

The other player Norman has been monitoring this week at East Lake is Australian John Senden who carded a 69 on Saturday to lie joint 24th in the elite field of 30.


As long as Baddeley remains in the title hunt during Sunday's final round, he should clinch one of the two wildcard picks to be announced by Norman on Tuesday.

The other is widely expected to go to another Australian, Robert Allenby, a Royal Melbourne expert who ended up 13th in the final Presidents Cup standings. The first 10 players on the team were decided by the world rankings.

"I really want to be on that team, so I knew I had to play well this week," said the 30-year-old Baddeley, who has never previously played in the Ryder Cup-style team competition.

"I got some good work done on Tuesday and Wednesday, especially on my putting, and I'm very pleased so far."

The Presidents Cup has previously been staged at Royal Melbourne, in 1998 when Baddeley was an enthusiastic spectator.

"I remember watching, going down there and seeing Freddie (Couples), seeing Jim Furyk, seeing all the guys down there, seeing Norman playing," said Baddeley, a three-times winner on the PGA Tour "I have always wanted to play in Presidents Cups. It's been a massive goal for me."

Van der Valk fires six birdies to take seven-shot lead into final round

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 04:20 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Holland's Guido van der Valk fired an impressive five-under 67 to go seven shots clear of the field after the third round of the PGM-MIDF-KLGCC Classic at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club here yesterday.

The 31-year-old Dutchman, bidding for his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) win, reeled in six birdies against a lone bogey for a three-day total of eight-under 208 and put some distance between him and second-placed Filipino Gerald Rosales, who returned with a one-under 71 for a 215 total.

Japan's Yosuke Tsukada fired a 70 to move into third position – nine strokes behind Van der Valk.

Malaysia's Nicholas Fung carded a dismal 74 to be tied in fourth spot with American Jonathan Moore, the current ADT Order of Merit leader.

But it was the form of the flying Dutchman that caught the eye.

Van der Valk, who finished joint second in the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic on the Asian Tour earlier this month, credited a new putting grip for his new-found surge of confidence on the greens.

"I changed to the cross-handed grip and I'm more confident to make a stroke. I've always struck it well but when you have days with eight three-putts, it's not nice. Golf is more enjoyable now," said the Manila-based Van der Valk.

He was four-under through 10 holes with birdies on the second, third, fifth and 10th holes before dropping his lone bogey at the par-three 11th.

He, however, finished strongly with birdies on 17th and 18th holes to leave his rivals trailing.

"I'm not doing much wrong as I've been hitting a lot of fairways and greens. I'll play smart golf tomorrow and take my chances as they come. I can't be playing conservative golf," he said.

Rosales, meanwhile, was left to rue several missed close-range putts.

"It was disappointing as I kept missing short putts. Guido is playing really well. I need the putts to drop to have any chance," he said.

The RM200,000 tournament is the last leg of the ADT season and offers three places for the Asian Tour next season.

The fight for at least one of the places intensified yesterday when the current third-placed Kao Shang-hung of Taiwan came in tied at 20th after a miserable seven-over 79.

His poor showing has opened the door for Japan's Takafumi Kawane. The fourth-ranked Takafumi needs to finish at least in fourth position on his own today to overhaul Shang-hung.

The 29-year-old Takafumi kept his slim hopes alive with a 77 to be placed in joint 11th position yesterday.


(Malaysian unless stated)

208: Guido van der Valk (Ned) 71-70-67;

215: Gerald Rosales (Phi) 74-70-71;

217: Yosuke Tsukada (Jpn) 72-75-70;

219: Jonathan Moore (US) 74-72-73, Nicholas Fung 71-74-74;

222: S. Siva Chandhran 77-73-72, R. Nachimuthu 75-73-74;

223: Wittawat Sae-ung (Tha) 75-76-72, Pawin Ingkhapradit (Tha) 77-70-76;

224: Rashid Ismail 73-78-73;

225: John Shin (Can) 77-77-71, M. Sasidaran 76-76-73, Michael Moore (Aus) 77-74-74, Takafumi Kawane (Jpn) 74-74-77, Akhmal Tarmizee 73-74-78, Marlon Dizon (Phi) 73-73-79;

226: Zurie Harun 74-79-73, T.J. Kim (Kor) 76-76-74, Matt Jager (Aus) 75-74-77;

228: Chang Tse-peng (Tpe) 76-75-77, Kao Shang-hung (Tpe) 75-74-79, S. Murthy 75-73-80;

229: Cash Lee 75-76-78, Artemio Murakami (Phi) 72-79-78, Khor Kheng-hwai 79-78-72.

Yew Ming and Co fail to get past first qualifying round

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 04:20 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Local interest in the singles event of the Malaysian Open tennis championships ended after national No. 1 Si Yew Ming and Co failed to lift their game in the first qualifying round at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The 32-year-old Yew Ming was given a wildcard to compete in the qualifying rounds but fell to Ukraine's Stanislav Poplavskyy – 12 years his junior – 4-6, 2-6.

The second set was delayed for about 30 minutes due to lighting problems at the centre court with Poplavskyy leading 3-1.

When play resumed, Poplavskyy continued from where he left off.

Ipoh lad Yew Ming was quite pleased with his performance des­pite crashing out at the first hurdle once again.

"He (Poplavskyy) made quite a few good returns on my service ... perhaps I could've done better," said the soft-spoken Yew Ming.

"I will need to brush up on my shots, especially at the net, but overall I thought I played quite well. It was quite satisfying in the end."

While the elder statesman of the national team failed to get past the first round, the juniors fared no better.

Eighteen-year-old Ariez Elyaas showed flashes of brilliance in his match against China's Zhang Ze but crumbled in the second set to lose 4-6, 0-6 while 16-year-old Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak was totally outclassed by Taiwan's Jimmy Wang 1-6, 2-6.

Another Malaysian youngster Wan Abdul Muiz was given a 1-6, 0-6 thrashing by Bulgaria's Alexander Lazov.

Despite the early whitewash in the singles event, Malaysia will still have something to cheer for as Yew Ming will compete in the main draw of the doubles event , partnering rising American youngster Ryan Harrison.


First round: Alexander Lazov (Bul) bt Wan Abdul Muiz (Mas) 6-1, 6-0; Zhang Ze (Chn) bt Ariez Elyaas (Mas) 6-4, 6-0; Jean-Rene Lisnard (Mon) bt Koki Matsunaga (Jpn) 6-3, 7-5; Mikhail Ledovskikh (Rus) bt Gong Mao-Xin (Chn) 6-4, 7-5; Chen Ti (Tpe) bt Scott Lipsky (US) 7-6, 6-3; Jimmy Wang (Tpe) bt Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak (Mas) 6-1, 6-2; Stanislav Poplavskyy (Ukr) bt Si Yew Ming (Mas) 6-4, 6-2; Mikhail Elgin (Rus) bt Jean-Julien Rojer (Aho) 6-4, 6-7, 7-6.


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Leadership among bosses

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 05:46 PM PDT

Title: Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders: The Three Essential Principles You Need to Become an Extraordinary Leader

Author: Rajeev Peshawaria

Publisher: Free Press

THIS is a simple book yet extremely powerful. The title sounds more like a cliché but the author revitalises it, making it highly relevant, significantly thought provoking and incredibly resonating. A roadmap for managers of every level in any organisation, I urge you to read this book for its tremendous benefits.

Of all the bosses you have had in your career, how many do you consider truly great leaders? One might reply, "Not too many." That is true for bosses these days are merely bosses, not leaders. And if you yourself are a boss, how do your subordinates rate you? One might be tempted to ask before attempting to answer, "Does it matter?" Well, it does. While bad leadership can go undetected, it can cost organisations tremendous amount of money. Again, are you a good leader?

You're not one if, according to author Rajeev Peshawaria, you don't take it upon yourself to dig deep and find solutions to the most pressing problems of our times.

Yet there is more than just devoting yourself. Leaders who achieve exceptional results despite the toughest challenges are able to do one simple thing – to harness human energy toward a shared purpose. This book is about how to discover, or rediscover if you have lost it in the face of adversity, the energy you have once had to fuel yourself as well as many others to create sustainable collective success.

Again, if you think that is hackneyed, don't. Peshawaria, having spent more than twenty years working alongside top executives at some of the biggest corporations in the world, knows precisely what makes and how to be an effective leader. His journey to great leadership is personal and the steps he outlines are simple and intuitive which allows continuing prowess that separates tomorrow's leaders from today's bosses.

Leadership is a journey so are the rewards. Because leaders are in it for a long haul, the first step leaders must take is to identify and be clearly convinced of the underlying purpose or values of their leadership endeavour. The emphasis Peshawaria places on this initial commitment is profound because great leadership indeed cannot be pursued without laser-sharp purpose and values. Furthermore, it is this purpose that defines one's leadership identity and gives the lasting energy to stay on course. But if your purpose is to lead a life enriched by everyday material pleasures gained through your positions, then this book is not for you. You are better off remaining a boss.

Do something different in your life for each economic trajectory, which we most likely will soon witness when technology takes us onto a whole new horizon in solving worldwide problems, gives leadership opportunity. If you have a purpose, like Howard Schultz (chairman and CEO of Starbucks) did back in the 90s, you will have a shot to lead a life enriched by not only materialistic rewards but also satisfaction and meaning.

The same goes to Jeff Bezos of Bezos had a purpose. He then found a channel (a firm), defined the brain (story) of the business, wired it with bones (strategy) that is well understood by everyone in the firm, and aligned it with nerves (cultures). On the outset, brains, bones and nerves maybe the only framework required to energise a business.

Underpinning each pillar of the framework, however, are threads that weave successes and needles that prick them. As a way to demonstrate management of these threads and needles, Peshawaria provides from a large pool of stories on leadership and managerial experiences. Drawn from the little-known philanthropic organisation called Acumen to the highly regarded Goldman Sachs, lessons on characters, fortitude, values, processes and practices abound.

They, too, are simple but by no means simplistic. They are not detailed but in no way less insightful. They help provoke ideas that leaders can use in managing their firms and finding their own paths to great leadership.

Are leaders born or made? Peshawaria thinks while some may be born, leaders can certainly be made as well if they have the will to lead. But do all leaders understand good leadership? No? Read this book.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Hardy boy

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 02:19 AM PDT

IT is an understatement to say that actor Tom Hardy's star is rising fast. Last year, the 33-year-old British actor earned Hollywood credibility as a member of Leonardo DiCaprio's dream travelling posse in Inception. The film's director, Christopher Nolan, then cast Hardy in one of 2012's most coveted roles: the villain Bane in Batman flick, The Dark Knight Rises.

Last week, his movie Warrior, set in the world of mixed martial arts, debuted in US theatres. It was filmed before Inception and it catches the actor at a time that will soon be rare – a time when he was a relative unknown.

The actor plays a former wrestling prodigy-turned-marine who returns to the ring to fight for a US$5mil prize, only to be pitted in the ring against his estranged brother (played by Australian actor Joel Edgerton).

Hardy gained an additional 13.6kg of muscle, thanks to physical training, and lived out a Rocky-esque fantasy in scenes where he waded through crowds of cheering fans on his way towards the fighting cage.

As convincing as he may look physically for the role on screen, Hardy harbours no notions that he could actually thrive as a fighter in the MMA world.

"I'd get knocked out – stone cold," said Hardy with certainty. "I'd probably trip on the stairs on my way up to the ring and knock my teeth out. So its a very short-lived moment of 'I can do this!' because I really can't."

Still, that doesn't stop him from taking on roles that might prove otherwise. Hardy put on over 18.2kg to play the real-life British prisoner Charles Bronson who spent most of his life in solitary confinement, in the 2009 film Bronson. His current weight as Batman rival Bane is 87.3kg – the most he's ever weighed.

"I feel heavy," he admitted. "This size is not real. I only feel strong in short stints of times. If I needed to get across the room and throw someone through a door, I could do that, but ... as soon as I'm done shooting, I'm dropping the weight."

His role in Dark Knight Rises is a gig that landed on Hardy's plate unexpectedly. While in Canada shooting the Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy This Means War, Hardy was getting ready to head to Australia to spend a year shooting the new Mad Max movie, Fury Road, taking over the role that made Mel Gibson an international superstar.

But Mother Nature had other plans. She flooded the Australian desert with torrential rains, wiping out the wasteland setting and cancelling the shoot, despite the fact that sets already had been built.

Hardy was devastated – until Nolan called about playing Batman's powerful foe. "Chris rings and says: 'I'm not sure if it's your sort of thing because it would mean wearing a mask. How do you feel about wearing a mask as an actor?'"

Hardy laughed when recalling the day that changed his career: "How do I feel about wearing a mask? I'd wear a plastic bag over my head for Chris! I'll do anything for him. I did not see that coming. I never, ever thought I'd be in Batman."– Reuters


The Star Online: Nation

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Dompok: Sabahans don't know how many of them are M'sians

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 05:34 AM PDT

PENAMPANG: Sabahans themselves do not know how many of the state's 3.3 million population are Malaysians, said Upko president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

He said in 1960, Sabah's population was 454,561 with 42% made up of Kadazandusun. The figure increased to 653,604 in 1970; 1.3 million in 1980 and 1.7 million in 1991.

In 2000, the population was 2.5 million and by 2005, Sabah's population increased to 3,313,000. It registered the highest percentage of increase in population with 3.1% compared with the national percentage of 2.3%.

Dompok said the National Registration Department could not provide the data of actual number of Malaysians living in Sabah, to the Parliament Select Committee on Integrity in 2007.

"And now the perception among the people is that the government does not know how many Malaysians are living in Sabah," he said at the Upko delegates congress meeting.

Dompok has called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the presence of so many foreigners that has contributed to the steep rise in population.

Norman, Memey tie the knot

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 05:19 AM PDT

KOTA TINGGI: Actors Norman Hakim, 35, and Memey Suhaiza, 23, both of whom were caught for alleged khalwat (close proximity) in 2008, were married Saturday after a one-year engagement.

The marriage was solemnised at Memey's family house in Felda Tenggaroh Selatan I here and attended by family members of both sides.

Norman presented Memey or Suhaiza Suhaimi with five trays of gifts and a RM24,000 dowry while Memey responded with seven trays of gifts.

Norman said they planned to go for a honeymoon in Paris.

The couple will hold a reception at Crowne Plaza Mutiara, Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Related Stories:
Norman and Memey freed of khalwat
Memey to wear Choo-designed shoes

RCI on illegal immigrant problem possible: DPM

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 05:13 AM PDT

PENAMPANG: The Government would look into all aspects, including a Royal Commission of Inquiry, in tackling the illegal immigrant problem in Sabah, said Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

"I am willing to accept all aspects, let's look into that. We would consider every committee report and whether the way forward is the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) or other approaches.

"At the end of the day, this is something we can look into seriously," he said when opening the United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) delegates meeting.

He said Sabah Barisan Nasional had formed a special committee chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan to tackle the issue.

"Whether it could be resolved through any initiative or means, I think it is something that the people will believe that the BN is doing the right thing and at the end of the day, the support of the people towards BN is of importance," he added. BERNAMA


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

A life filled with high art

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 07:35 PM PDT

A visit to one man's home sheds light on the real meaning of national treasures and why we're getting it all wrong.

Collector, custodian, conservationist. The real Henry Bong, founder of Pucuk Rebung Gallery-Museum and local arts connoisseur, emerges the moment you step across the moss-covered gates into his three-storey Ken Yeang-designed home – if he lets you through, that is.

"Aiyoh, can we reschedule the interview? My house looks like Ali Baba's cave right now, and I need at least one month to clean up the clutter," he insisted over the phone earlier.

After half-an-hour of intense persuasion, the 58-year-old finally relented, but not without some misgivings.

"We Baba-Nyonyas are known for our hospitality but it's been more than one year since I welcomed my last visitor. My house is so messy. It's so disrespectful to you!" he moaned.

My curiosity was piqued the moment I hung up. I bound up the porch as soon as those massive gates creak open, only to find myself tumbling into his world.

It's a world that is both bizarre and magnificent, other worldly and filled to the brim with Peranakan furniture, Islamic carvings, Christian icons, Chinese porcelain, Kelantanese songket and big smiling Buddhas.

"I hate this house," says Bong, as I gape at the magnificent sight before me. "It's too modern. Too harsh."

So Bong did what any creative soul would do. He ripped his house apart – first by adding wrought-iron banisters from Penang, then hand-painted Vietnamese tiles, and subsequently Corinthian columns – to give it "a softer look."

The Sultan of Kelantan was so impressed by what he saw that he agreed to launch Bong's house under the Sayang Pusaka (love of heirlooms) programme.

"Malaysians are very proud of their culture but their homes are filled with stuff from Ikea. They really don't have anything at all which reflects their roots," Bong says.

Bong's home, though, is a manifestation of his past and present, from the intricately carved Peranakan door right up to 5,000 pieces of traditional Malaysian textiles piled six-feet high in the living room (he wasn't exaggerating about the mess).

"People usually think I'm eccentric. But I suppose you have to burn with a degree of excitement, to operate on a different plane of existence, to do what I do," he muses.

No place like home

It's difficult to describe what Bong does without stereotyping him. The media has dubbed his collection "one of the largest in Malaysia" – an achievement that he proudly bears like a prizefighter.

The Textile Society of Thailand even e-mailed him a request for a tour of his not-so-humble abode a while ago, a request that he is still deliberating because of the current disorder (incidentally, part of his collection is still on loan to the Sultan of Kelantan for an exhibition at the Palace Museum).

"That chair you're sitting on, for instance, was taken from the royal train when I renovated it. It's beautiful, is it not?" he asks, as we kick back in the patio.

These objets d'art may take up every square inch of Bong's home, but they aren't the only things that matter. We are surrounded by his other loves, his pets – whole cages, aviaries and aquariums of dogs, cats, birds and fish. A symphony of sound and smells swirl in the balmy evening air as these animals welcome their first guest in over a year.

"This is Pusak," he says, stroking a white kitten in his arms. "I rescued her a while ago. Some of these animals I rescued, the others I bought. They enrich my life in a different way."

But that's another story for another day. Right now Bong is on a mission to elevate Malaysian art forms, particularly cultural and heritage aspects, to world-class standards.

"That's why I left my US$14,000-a-month job in the banking industry to start Pucuk Rebung 13 years ago. It's a lifestyle institution which sells you your own heritage," he explains.

Located in KLCC, this museum-cum-gallery is a tribute to the artistic and cultural legacy left by Malaysians across the centuries. Much of this quaint shop resembles Bong's home — fusty and intimidating on the outside, but a cavern of exotic treasures for those who can look past the initial flaws. But while his shop stocks myriad antiques and collectibles, it's only a fraction of what is found in Château Bong.

"I find it rather strange that some of us go all the way to London to gawk at old things when there's such a rich artistic tradition in Malaysia," he says.

A tinge of childlike happiness illuminates his expression as he speaks of his formative years in Sarawak, collecting his parent's things for the heck of it.

"My family was hardly conservative. In fact, my grandma had two husbands, even though she lived in the late-19th century! The women in my family were very strong and progressive. They were the ones who taught me hard work and resilience," he says.

Bong was also around to witness the establishment of the Malaysian Federation on Sept 16, 1963 – a day when he swapped his British citizenship for a Malaysian one.

"To be honest, August 31 doesn't hold much significance for me," he says. "As a Sarawakian, (I find) it's Malaysia Day that matters, and how we got there. Did you know that Sukarno was strongly opposed to the idea of Sarawak joining Malaysia? Therefore, he started an undeclared war on East Malaysia. During the confrontation, I could hear gunfire right outside my house every day."

Bong eventually made his way to the Peninsula in 1972, after being offered a scholarship in agricultural studies at Universiti Malaya.

"East Malaysians, particularly the Peranakans, were a manifestation of 1Malaysia even before it was sloganised. When I came here, all I saw was racial polarisation. It freaked me out," he says.

His forte had always been in history and arts, not agriculture, but the lack of interest did not hinder Bong's early career, and he began working for Bank Pertanian before moving on to other banks.

"At the tail-end of my banking career with the Bank of America, however, I began indulging in my love for architecture and interior design by designing branches. That's when I started asking myself, What am I doing here? I can do so much more than this by myself," he says.

It took Bong 13 years to answer his calling, and he now does with fervour full-time what he used to do for fun. Does he have doubts?

"Now I wonder if it's the right calling," he wonders aloud. "I should be a multi-millionaire by now, but I'm not."

The cost of cool

The art business is a tough business. Bong feels overworked and underappreciated.

"In this country, art is limited to paintings and sculptures. We really need to enlarge our appreciation of things. Why can't a piece of antique jewellery or pottery from the 18th century also be art?" he questions.

Don't get Bong wrong; he isn't against the modernist movement. In his opinion, however, modernity alone does not make the man.

"I think we're suffering from a form of colonial hang-up," he says.

"We're Anglophiles who, in our quest to appear modern, tend too detach ourselves from what's old. But you cannot study Picasso for two years and call yourself an expert and come up with abstract paintings that don't mean anything. You have to understand the fundamentals before you can evolve."

Bong tells me how disturbed he was when, several months ago, a visiting friend asked if Malaysia was aiming to become the next Dubai.

"The new generation is quite directionless. All we're doing now is imitate and build one cubic house after another. It makes you want to puke," he says.

"The foreigners appreciate our heritage more than we do," says Bong. "Londoners and New Yorkers are buying from me. Once sold, these things leave the country. I hope we don't end up like Laos. To see the best of their civilisational art, the Laotians have to visit France."

Dusk has fallen. Overcome with restlessness, I scan my surroundings as Bong takes a long swig from a second can of Coke. His home seems capable of frightening the bejesus out of new visitors, especially after dark. Under the fluorescent lamps, the ancient relics start to take on a menacing glow and my head is replaying scenes from Amityville Horror.

The man, however, shrugs of all talk of poltergeists, claiming that it's just the by-product of an overactive imagination.

"I, myself, have never experienced any bad vibes, even though I live among execution swords, tomb carvings, death masks and photographs of those long deceased. You treat them as art, so why should they torture you?" he says, smirking.

According to Bong, there is a long history of connoisseurship in ancient China, proving that such superstitions did not exist then.

"The Ching Emperors collected Ming pieces and so forth," he says. "I think modern society has just been exposed to too many horror movies. Everything is haunted to them."

Haunted or not, Bong's house has played host to a number of dinner parties, several of which were attended by luminaries, reporters, dignitaries and the occasional Sultan. Nevertheless, if there was one person he dreams of inviting, it is the late Tunku Abdul Rahman.

"I've kept much of Tunku's things, like his customised greeting cards, his letters and his crystal wine decanters," he says.

Apart from Tunku's memorabilia, Bong also owns pieces by Frank Swettenham, the White Rajahs of Sarawak and Tengku Mohammed Ali, the last Sultan of Singapore – none of which are up for sale.

"How do you put a value on such things? There's no way I would sell them, because I'm not like some people who say they would sell their mothers for a price," he says, adding somewhat slyly that he will not name names.

And where will all of these go when he kicks the bucket?

"They will go to a deserving institution dedicated to my descendants and trustees," Bong declares.

"I will only donate it to a museum if it displays credibility or a sign that it values your contribution. There have been so many instances when the names of donors disappeared over time."

"I love my country but I don't know if they feel the same way about me," he says. "At the end of the day, I'm just a guy selling old things."

> Follow Louisa Lim at


The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Membership programme gaining popularity

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 05:53 AM PDT

WORLD OF SPORTS, the distributors of almost 30 sports and outdoor brands in Malaysia, membership programme has become a hit among sports enthusiasts.

Since the membership programme launched in 2008, WOS have recruited about 10,000 members. WOD retail sports division senior sports manager Carol Wong said membership card enabled members to a load of benefits.

"Members are eligible to get up to 20% discount for WOS in-house brands and up to 10% discount for agent controlled brand. Members will also enjoy exclusive privileges and discounts from about 10 key participating partners.

"There will also be an additional five per cent discount for products purchased on the members' birthday,'' said Carol.

The membership fee is RM39. Upon signing, the member will be given a Salomon Backpack, worth RM159.

Carol said currently they had almost 7,000 active members.

"We consistently keep in touch with the members through e-mails and brochures in updating on promotions, activities and news.

"The unwavering support from our joint merchants and members has certainly made the WOS membership programme a big success leading to the significant increase in the retails chains,'' said Carol.

The WOS in-house brands include Mizuno, Columbia, Salomon, Teva, Head, Hi-Tec, Lafuna, Rollerblade, Satoni, BMX, Thorlos, David & Little Rider and Keen.

The participating merchants are Celebrity Fitness, True Fitness, Clarins, Bizzy Body, Sakae Sushi, Snips, Sri Sutra Travel, Foto Shangri-La, GNC and Elianto & Bonita.

Carol said the membership programme was an opportunity for them to reward their loyal customers.

"We are committed towards the programme and we are looking at increasing the members. We will also be organising several events, including an exclusive sales day for members, soon,'' said Carol.

‘Super Mokh’ and ‘Spiderman’ honoured

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 05:52 AM PDT

MALAYSIA'S football legends — the late Datuk Mokhtar Dahari and Datuk R. Arumugam — were among those honoured during the gala dinner organised by the Ex-State & Ex-National Footballers Association of Malaysia recently.

Mokhtar was represented by his daughters — Nur Azera and Nur Arina — while R. Subha and R. Rubha accepted the award on behalf of Arumugam.

Former international and Penang striker, the late Isa Bakar, was also honoured and his state and national teammate Shukor Salleh went on stage to receive the award.

The Ex-State & Ex-National Footballers Association of Malaysia deputy president Datuk M. Kuppan said they were pleased to gather the former national and state players for a get-together.

"We also took the opportunity to honour some of the great players who had contributed to the nation as footballers. It was also good to meet Mokhtar and Arumugam's children at the programme.

"In fact, the programme was a big success as we managed to gather former internationals from hockey, athletics and also cricket,'' said Kuppan.

Former international N. Thanabalan was awarded a special award for being a top scorer in the final of the Malaysia Cup competition. Thanabalan scored four goals for Selangor in their convincing 8-1 win over Penang in the 1968 Malaysia Cup final.

Former Malacca player — V. Kalimuthu — who had represented Malaysia in football and hockey was greeted with the biggest applause for being the oldest player in the competition. He is 65 years old.

Former national captain Datuk Soh Chin Aun was recognised as the player with the most international caps. Chin Aun had represented the country 252 times.


The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Nasi Lemak 2.0 packed with the necessary ingredients

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 05:54 PM PDT

I FIRST met Namewee (Wee Meng Chee) last year, at the preview of the local film Ice Kacang Puppy Love.

Unlike how some organisations have portrayed him, he appeared to be full of good manners, humility and down-to-earth practicality.

So when news of his debut film Nasi Lemak 2.0 surfaced, I thought, "Wow, good for him. Let's see how this goes."

And then came the controversies. But above it all, came the huge number of praises the film received after its special screening in Melbourne on Merdeka Day and after opening night in Malaysia.

So I had to go watch it. And watched it, I did.

Never mind that this movie is primarily in Mandarin and I barely understood five words of it.

Never mind that I barely got any of the Chinese jokes that were told and thank heavens for the subtitles!

But at least there were different languages spoken in the movie, such as English, Malay, Tamil and several other Chinese dialects.

Namewee's social commentary was brought to cinemas via a food-themed comedy celebrating Malaysia's famous dish.

The comedy gives an unflinching but ultimately endearing perspective of the racial stereotypes that Malaysians are accustomed to.

The film's plot is anchored in Malaysia's undisputed common cultural touchstone: love of the country's diverse and spicy cuisine.

Namewee plays Chef Huang, who studied Chinese cooking in China and is unable to adapt to the 'localised' versions of Chinese food, something his Malaysian customers prefer.

In order to get his life and the restaurant business back on track, Chef Huang must now seek help from a mysterious hawker stall lady who summons him to embark on the extraordinary journey of his life.

During this self-enlightenment experience, he meets many 'local heroes' — including a Malay man with four wives and an Indian man who dances around trees and bushes, Bollywood-style — to create a delicious new version of nasi lemak.

They each lend their support to help him re-discover his roots and the real hidden message of Nasi Lemak.

This film is not out to be artful, nor it is to win awards or rave reviews from uptight film critics.

It is a show full of racial gags and cultural nuances that Malaysians are all too familiar with, but done with a fresh perspective.

Here are my top five favourite parts of the film I am excited to share:

5) Karen Kong and Namewee's characters singing in a Chinese kopitiam, in hope of getting more flower garlands from Pete Teo's character.

4) Afdlin Shauki's character with his four hilarious wives in the kampung

3) Datuk David Arumugam hiding behind the tree, Bollywood style.

2)The famous Baba Nyonya characters played by Kenny and Chee, from my favourite local 90s sitcom, Onde Onde.

1) The finale song, aptly named Rasa Sayang 2.0, which is still ringing in my head to this day.

Nasi Lemak 2.0 was made on less than RM1mil, after failing to obtain funding from the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) and Creative Industries Fund (CIF), who were supposed to be supporting the local arts and entertainment scene.

For a film that faced all these obstacles, it has currently made over RM4.5mil in box office sales alone.

I also got a big shock when Namewee told me over the phone that this film did not get "Wajib Tayang" approval, which is supposed to guarantee a local film is shown at cinemas nationwide for 14 days.

Speaking in a serious tone, Namewee told me that he hoped that his movie does its bit to help stop racism in Malaysia.

For all that it's worth, I believe that it's an unusually daring exploration of the racial ties that bind us all and I applaud the film for its success in doing so.

Watching Nasi Lemak 2.0 will make Malaysians (those who possess some sense of humour anyway) take a good look at themselves in the mirror and laugh.

This film is produced by Fred Chong and Sylvia Lim.

The cast includes comedian and singer Adibah Noor, Karen Kong, Afdlin Shauki, Kenny & Chee, Reshmonu, Dennis Lau, Nur Fathia, Nadine Thomas, Pete Teo, Ho Yuhang, Dian Sharlin, and Felixia Yap.

Dawn Jeremiah would like to sing Rasa Sayang 2.0 out loud but unfortunately, she's almost tone deaf. Armed with a passion for television and journalism, she handles regional marketing at a high definition lifestyle channel. An actress part-time, she also tweets at

Just Eating Out

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 05:53 PM PDT


Steamboat lovers are welcome to Manja Coffee House of Hotel Grand Continental Kuantan for this month's promotion 'Steamboat Pantai Timur, priced at RM29nett per adult (min two persons). The promo is available from 11am-2.30pm and 6.30pm-10pm. For reservations, call 09-515 8888.


The Hou Mei Noodle House (Level 2 of First World Plaza in Genting) brings Sze-Chuan Noodles (RM15++) to spice out your taste buds from 11am-11pm. For reservations, call 603-6101 1118. (


First World Cafe (Level 3 of First World Plaza, Genting) offers a buffet spread for the month featuring a wide variety of street food such as Fried oh chien, cuttlefish served with kangkong, prawn mee, different types of satay, chicken kebab, roti john, roti hot dog, steamed coconut rice and waffle ice cream. Buffet lunch from noon to 2.30pm is priced RM41++ (adult) and RM20.50++ (child) while buffet dinner (5.30pm-9.30pm) is priced RM48++ (adult) and RM24++ (child). For reservations, call 603-6101 1118. (


Posted: 23 Sep 2011 05:52 PM PDT


Watch the Chinese magic show and Shaolin Kung Fu performances at Johor Baru Sutera Mall today. For details, call 07-558 9009.


Sin Sin Book store is having a book fair offering Chinese novels and childrens story books with discounts up to 50% at Johor Baru KSL City today. The book fair starts at 10am. For details, call 07-228 2888.


Members of the public can go to the Love Malaysia community carnival today at Taman Tun Aminah mini stadium at 9am. The activities include free medical check-ups and a blood donation drive.


Online game enthusiasts can come to the Online Game road show today at Johor Baru City Square which starts at 10am. For details, call 07-226 3668.


Art lovers can go to the 1Malaysia Contemporary Art exhibition until Oct 15 at Johor Baru Danga City Mall exhibition hall at level four from 10am until 10pm. For details, call 07-221-5008.


After a full house performance last year, the Prince of Love Ballads is back to rock the house down at Arena of Stars. This year, Jeff Chang will be singing some of his favourite hits 'Forgiving', 'Ai Ru Chao Shui', 'Guo Huo', 'Don't Tell Him', 'Tai Xiang Ai Ni' and many more to his fans. He is no stranger to the music scene in Taiwan. His talent was brought to light when he won a singing competition during his college years. Since then, he has honed his talent through the release of numerous successful albums since 1989, earning himself the title "Prince of Love Ballads". With years of experience in the showbiz world, Jeff will be taking his crooning prowess to stage tonight.


Bring your friends and family to Petrosains Playsmart Sports Festival 2011 today and tomorrow which takes place at the Pahang Foundation Complex in Tanjung Lumpur, Kuantan from 9.30am-4.30pm. Among the activities are interactive workshop 'Blowpipe', 'Jump Energy' and 'Banana Kick' for mini show and more. Admission is free.


Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang is expected to grace the Aidilfitri Open House at Dewan Orang Ramai Muadzam Shah in Pahang today at noon. All are invited.


K-Pop fans, do not miss the performance at 3pm tomorrow by 'K-Pop Super Hip Hop Dance' at the Kuantan Parade shopping complex in Kuantan. Admission is free.


In-conjuction with the Royal Pahang Billfish International Challenge 2011, a fishing competition will be held today from 9am to noon at Pantai Kg Bernas, Rompin in Pahang. Fee is RM30 per rod. The first prize winner will receive a cash prize of RM3,000.


Malacca's Montfort Youth Centre (MYC) is holding a 10th Anniversary charity dinner and concert today at Hotel Equatorial Melaka from 7pm onwards. Ning Baizura, Shanel Shanty and Helmi Gimick are some of the highlight performances of the night with a ten-course dinner. Some of Ning's costumes jewelleries will also be auctioned off with proceeds to the MYC. For details, call 06-351 0114.


Pantai Hospital Ayer Keroh (PHAK) is organizing a health talk on "Endometriosis: What is it?" conducted by Dr. Tan Geok Kee, PHAK Consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist on Sunday from 2.30pm to 4pm at Conference Room, 3rd Floor Melaka Mall (PHAK's Office). Admission is free and first 70 participants will receive door gifts. Refreshment will be served. For details, call 06-231 9999 ext 2415.


Pantai Hospital Ayer Keroh (PHAK) will be having a free health screening at Menara Taming Sari today from 8am to 1pm. All are welcome for the basic 3-point health check (blood glucose, blood pressure and body fat analysis/BMI). PHAK's dietitian will be present to provide free consultation. For details, call 06-232 1782/0072.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Jury selected for Jackson doctor's trial

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 10:06 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: A 12-person jury was selected on Friday to hear the manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's former doctor in a process one prosecutor likened to "speed dating."

The panel of seven men and five women includes one man who said he briefly met Jackson when he worked at Walt Disney Co in the 1980s and the singer was starring in a "Captain EO" film that was a Disney theme park attraction.

That juror told attorneys he could approach the trial fairly.


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