Rabu, 28 September 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

EXCLUSIVE: Lockheed lobbies anew for new Taiwan F-16s

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 09:06 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp is helping arm U.S. lawmakers for a renewed push to sell its new F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, not just the Obama administration's planned $5.3 billion upgrade of old ones.

A U.S. Lockheed Martin F-16 flies during an air display at the Farnborough International Air Show, Hampshire, July 19, 2004. (REUTERS/Toby Melville/Files)

A Lockheed Martin official last week emailed an unsigned memo to lawmakers on Capitol Hill titled "Taiwan -- The Benefit of New F-16 C/Ds," two congressional staff members said.

Lockheed's memo to lawmakers was dated Sept. 22, a day after the administration told Congress that it was offering Taiwan a $5.3 billion retrofit of 145 F-16 A/B models sold in the 1990s. Administration officials said a decision had not yet been made on Taiwan's 5-year-old request for 66 new F-16 C/D models valued at $8.3 billion.

Beijing calls U.S. arms sales to Taiwan the chief obstacle to better relations between the United States and China, now the world's biggest economies.

China's foreign minister urged the United States on Monday to reconsider its decision to upgrade the jets, saying it could harm ties between Washington and Beijing.

Beijing suspended military-to-military contacts with the United States for most of 2010 after the previous, $6.4 billion U.S. arms package for Taiwan. China regards U.S. arms sales to Taiwan as interference in its domestic affairs.

The Lockheed memo included "rebuttal points" to what Lockheed called the expected conclusion of a Pentagon report that the administration could use to try to defuse criticism of its decision not to release new F-16s to Taiwan.

Lockheed Martin neither confirmed nor denied having circulated the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters. It said a sale of F-16s would benefit not only the company but generate more than 16,000 jobs in the United States over five to six years, citing a study it had commissioned.

"Any questions regarding the sale of new F-16s to Taiwan should be referred to the governments of Taiwan and the US," Laura Siebert, a Lockheed spokeswoman, added in an email.

The company, the Pentagon's largest supplier by sales, typically depicts itself as a bystander in the foreign arms-sale process, patiently awaiting government decisions.

The one-page memo highlighted what some experts consider flaws in Obama administration decision-making on the F-16s. The memo raised questions that could put administration policymakers on the spot at a scheduled U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Taiwan on Oct. 4.

The issue is politically sensitive for President Obama. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act requires Washington to provide for Taiwan's defense without regard to Beijing's sensitivities on the matter.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney accused Obama last week of having "caved" to China by denying Taiwan F-16 C/D models, calling this "yet another example of his weak leadership in foreign policy."

In the U.S. Congress, 47 of the 100 U.S. senators and 181 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives have written to Obama since May to urge him to sell to Taiwan at least 66 late-model F-16 C/D planes.

Advocates of new F-16 sales say they should be in addition to the upgrade of the old models.

The document distributed on Capitol Hill by Lockheed was based on the "expected conclusion" of the Defense Department report on the state of Taiwan's air power, and sought to refute it.

The classified Pentagon report itself was sent to Congress on Sept. 22, the same day as the Lockheed memo, 20 months after a congressional mandate for its delivery, a third congressional official told Reuters.

"Taiwan cannot protect their F-16 aircraft or the runways from which they operate from the ballistic missile threat," the memo summarized the Pentagon report as finding, referring to how China might attack in any cross-strait conflict.

"So, new F-16 C/Ds would not contribute to their deterrent capability and are not relevant," the memo further summarized the report as having found.

But Taiwan has some of the best-protected, hardened aircraft shelters in the region, the memo argued. In addition, the self-ruled island is advancing the "state-of-the-art in rapid runway repair technology" and routinely practices using open roadway stretches for fighters' launch and recovery to curb dependence on airfields, it said.

The Lockheed memo also took aim at what it called an expected "red herring" conclusion of the Pentagon report. It described this as the idea that Taiwan needed an aircraft capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings, or STOVL, because of Chinese missiles' threat to Taiwan's runways.

Only two STOVL aircraft models have been developed -- the BAe AV-8 Harrier, which has been out of production since 1997, and Lockheed's own F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, which will not be available for export sales until the later part of this decade, the memo said.

Even if available today, the U.S. administration would most likely refuse the F-35B to Taiwan because of its advanced radar-evading capabilities, it said.

The F-35, the memo added, could be construed as introducing a new level of capability, something that would conflict with a joint communique signed by the United States and China in August 1982.

"If new F-16s are so irrelevant, why is China so vigorously opposed to their sale to Taiwan?" Lockheed's memo added in its rebuttal points.

(Editing by Carol Bishopric)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Cuba gives green light to buying, selling cars

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 08:05 PM PDT

HAVANA (Reuters) - For the first time since the 1959 revolution, Cubans will have the right to buy and sell cars in a much-anticipated reform under President Raul Castro, another step toward greater economic freedom on the communist-led island.

A car used as a private taxi is driven on Havana's seafront boulevard 'El Malecon' August 30, 2011. (REUTERS/Desmond Boylan)

An official government decree published on Wednesday said Cubans and foreign residents would now be able to do with their cars what they wanted "without any prior authorization from any entity."

The regulations, which take effect on Saturday, are not without limits, but they were welcomed by Cubans, most of whom have not been able to own cars for more than five decades.

"It's great because it was something forbidden and prices were really high -- and if you had a car you weren't able to do anything with it," said office worker Silvia Santos.

"It's a way of freeing something," she said.

The liberalizing of car sales was one of more than 300 reforms put forth by Castro and approved in April at a congress of the Communist Party, Cuba's only legal political party.

The proposed changes put a greater emphasis on private initiative, which had been largely stifled under Cuba's Soviet-style system, and less government control.

Previously, only automobiles that were in Cuba before the 1959 revolution could be freely bought and sold, which is why there are so many 1950s or older cars, most of them American-made, rumbling through Cuban streets.

There are also many Soviet-made cars, dating from the era when the Soviet Union was the island's biggest ally and benefactor. They have been available for those with government permission, including assorted officials, athletes, artists and doctors returning from service overseas.

A black market in which people illegally purchased cars licensed to somebody else has also been active.


The new regulations will only allow Cubans with government permission and foreign residents to import cars, while all others will be limited to autos already on the island.

They also allow Cubans migrating from the island to sell their cars or to give them to family members, neither of which they could do in the past.

Foreign residents temporarily living on the island will be limited to buying two cars, imported or not, during their stay.

Castro's reforms, which he says are needed to ensure the survival of Cuban communism, are wide-ranging, but have been slow in developing.

"It's a law that should have been approved a long time ago," said taxi driver Fabio Brito, 54. "This exists in all countries in the world. Why should we be different?"

Reaction to the change was swift on Revolico.cu, a website where Cubans buy and sell goods and services.

Listings to buy or sell all kinds of cars were posted on Thursday afternoon, at prices ranging from the equivalent of $25,000 for a 1951 Chevrolet to $4,800 for a 1948 Dodge.

The seller of the Dodge, Yosvany, who chose not to give his full name, said he did not know about the new law when he posted his car, he just needed money.

He said the old pre-revolution cars might drop in price as people finally had access to newer models. "Imagine someone who has a Toyota or a Hyundai that they can sell now with the new rules. Prices for those might take off."

One difficulty facing many Cubans, who make an average monthly salary equivalent to about $20, will be rounding up the money to buy a car. "It's a good law, but I can't even buy a bicycle," said a peanut vendor who did not give his name.

"Maybe if I can save money one day in my life I will be able to buy a car," said Santos. "It's going to be hard, but at least now it's a possibility."

(Editing by Todd Eastham)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

More U.S. military action in Pakistan possible - Graham

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 08:05 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Support is growing in the U.S. Congress for expanding American military action in Pakistan beyond drone strikes already used to target militants in Pakistani territory, a senior Republican U.S. senator says.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks to the media before voting on a bill allowing a rise in the debt ceiling on Capitol Hill in Washington August 2, 2011. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Files)

The comments by Senator Lindsey Graham, an influential Republican voice on foreign policy and military affairs, follow remarks by the top U.S. military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, accusing Pakistan last week of supporting the militant Haqqani network's Sept. 13 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

With growing calls for a tougher stance on militants accused of such high-profile attacks, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that Washington was closer to deciding whether to label the Haqqanis a terrorist group.

The United States has long pressed Pakistan to pursue the Haqqani network, one of the most lethal Taliban-allied Afghan groups fighting Western forces in Afghanistan.

The Pakistan-based Haqqani network has been in the spotlight since U.S. officials accused it of mounting this month's attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul with the support of Pakistan's powerful military spy agency.

Graham said in an interview on Tuesday that U.S. lawmakers might support military options beyond drone strikes that have been going on for years inside Pakistani territory.

Those options may include using U.S. bomber planes within Pakistan. The South Carolina Republican said he did not advocate sending U.S. ground troops into Pakistan.

"I would say when it comes to defending American troops, you don't want to limit yourself," Graham said. "This is not a boots-on-the-ground engagement -- I'm not talking about that, but we have a lot of assets beyond drones.

"A perfect world ... would be Afghan, Pakistan and (U.S. and NATO) coalition forces working jointly on both sides of border to deny safe havens, inside of Afghanistan and on the other side," in Pakistan's western tribal regions from which the Haqqani network and other militants are believed to operate, Graham said.

Graham said U.S. lawmakers will think about stepping up the military pressure. "If people believe it's gotten to the point that that is the only way really to protect our interests, I think there would be a lot of support," he said.


The Haqqani network is allied with Afghanistan's Taliban and is believed to have close links to al Qaeda. It fights U.S. and NATO forces in eastern Afghanistan, operating out of bases in Pakistan's North Waziristan.

"We are in the final, formal review that has to be undertaken to make a government-wide decision to designate the network as a foreign terrorist organization," Clinton said in an appearance with Egypt's visiting foreign minister.

Clinton said Washington already had placed a number of leaders of the Haqqani network on its terrorism blacklist.

"We're going to continue to struggle against terrorism and in particular against those who have taken up safe havens inside Pakistan, and we're going to continue to work with our Pakistani counterparts to try and root them out," she said.

A move to name the Haqqanis as a terrorist group would bar U.S. citizens from providing support to the group and freeze any assets it might have in the United States -- a symbolic step that might relieve some of the mounting U.S. political pressure to take a harder line with Pakistan.

Pakistan denies it supports the Haqqanis and says its army is too busy battling its own Taliban insurgency to go after the network, which is estimated to have 10,000 to 15,000 fighters.

Some analysts have speculated that the State Department has not yet taken that formal step in hopes the Haqqanis could be reconciled as part of Afghan peace talks between the government and insurgents. Any such talks now seem unlikely at best.

U.S. drone aircraft in recent years have targeted mostly al Qaeda figures rather than Haqqani militants.

Increased U.S. military action on Pakistani soil, including the idea of U.S. soldiers crossing the porous border from Afghanistan, would be deeply unpopular in Pakistan. Pakistan viewed the U.S. military raid in May that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden as a grievous breach of its sovereignty.

The tense ties between Pakistan and the United States worsened last week after Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the Haqqani network as a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's ISI spy agency.

Graham, known as a hawk, said on Sunday that the United States must consider all options "including defending our troops" in confronting Pakistani support for militant networks active in Afghanistan.

Such remarks from the U.S. Congress, where patience has worn thin with Pakistan, have intensified speculation that the United States might resort to another cross-border raid such as the one that killed bin Laden, intensify drone attacks in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions or send in bomber planes to attack militant hide-outs.

Lawmakers are proposing to restrict U.S. aid with stricter conditions under which Pakistan, which possesses nuclear arms but is desperately poor, can access U.S. military and economic assistance.

The unusually public criticism from Washington has provoked anger among Pakistani leaders who warn that the United States may lose a key ally in an unstable region.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Quinn; editing by Will Dunham and Anthony Boadle)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Now or never

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 02:52 AM PDT

Today's the last chance for you to win a brand new car.

IT'S been a monthlong, arduous track since Red FM's Runaway DJs took off in a Proton Inspira with listeners following their trail to different places around the Klang Valley and beyond.

Going out and about to secret locations every Monday to Friday, clues to those sites have been given on air and online to help participants "catch" a Red FM's Runaway DJ. It's a rewarding chase as they vie to win cash, iPad 2s, iPod Nanos and the ultimate prize — a brand new Proton Inspira.

The first listener to turn up at the correct location and identify Red FM's Runaway DJ of the day receives a key to enter the finale which offers a brand new car as the grand prize.

It's an exciting race against time as participants track them down at various locations.

The Red FM's Runaway DJs even travelled as far as Ipoh, Seremban and Malacca to spread the fun. With the opportunity to meet people who support the station, each stop has been enjoyable for the deejays as it is for the participants.

The contest draws to an end today, so it's your last chance to grab hold of the much sought-after key.

Tune in as clues to the whereabouts of the deejays are given out on air as well as through the station's website, Facebook page and Twitter account.

The finale takes place tomorrow at Tropicana City Mall, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Feel the pulse of Petaling Jaya vibrating in this friendly neighbourhood mall; its spacious environment in addition to being located just next door to the station makes it the ideal venue for the finale. Come and witness this thrilling finale where you can meet all of the Red FM's Runaway DJs.

Check out www.red.fm for more details. Join the Red FM Malaysia Facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/redfm.my) and follow them on Twitter (@iloveredfm) for the latest updates of the station's happenings.

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.

Kardashian family to co-host 'Today'

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 06:28 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Anyone who's been wanting to wake up with Kim Kardashian will have their chance next week.

NBC announced Wednesday that the recently wed reality TV personality and her clan will co-host ''Today'' next week, with each member of the family co-hosting with Hoda Kotb on a different day.

Khloe Kardashian will kick things off on Monday, followed by former Olympian and family patriarch Bruce Jenner Tuesday, while reality-TV mom Kris Jenner will handle Hump Day duties.

Kourtney Kardashian steps into Kathie Lee Gifford's shoes Thursday.

The recently wed Kim Kardashian will close out the week on Friday, offering a sneak preview of the special ''Kim's Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event,'' which is scheduled to air on E! on Oct. 10.

In a further bit of cross-promotion, behind-the-scenes footage from the Kardashians' co-hosting stints will air nightly on ''E! News.'' (E!, like ''Today,'' now resides under the NBCUniversal umbrella.)

Jenner also co-hosts on CBS' ''The Talk'' for two weeks this season, and is being eyed as a possible fill-in for Sharon Osbourne, who's gearing down her duties on the show to spend more time with her family this season.

Jason’s ‘Malaysian Journey’

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 06:27 PM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Hollywood star Jason Scott Lee – famous for his portrayal of kung fu film legend Bruce Lee – will host the second series of the Malaysian Journey documentary to promote Malaysia's eco-tourism sector.

"Malaysia's diverse ethnic groups and culture are simply captivating.

"There is so much beauty in your country that needs to be shared with the world," he said at the sneak preview of the upcoming documentary called Hutan organised by the Tourism Ministry.

The one hour documentary, scheduled for broadcast early next year, will feature the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, Taman Negara National Park, Tasik Kenyir Lake, Gunung Mulu National Park and the Bornean Sun Bear conservation centre in Sabah.

In 2007, Jason hosted the first instalment of Malaysian Journey where he shared his experiences with the Semelai people in Pahang, silat sessions, life with the Rungus tribe in Sabah, abseiling in Mount Kinabalu and living with fishermen in Langkawi.

It was broadcast on National Geographic Channel global network, reaching over 300 million households and televised in 166 countries and in 32 languages.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said in her speech that the Government remains committed to conserving Malaysia's nature through sustainable tourism.

"Our eco-tourism policy states that no more than 50% of our rainforest can be developed. This is to ensure that our forests are well-protected," she said.

In KOTA KINABALU, Jason volunteered to help put the finishing touches to a house in Kampung Lingubang in Kota Belud, about 150km from here, on Monday, before presenting the keys to home owner, 44-year-old Jenik Ladsou.

It was part of a programme by volunteer group Habitat for Humanity Malaysia to provide houses for poor families.

Jason, who lives in his native Hawaii with Singapore-born wife Diana Chan and their 15-month-old daughter, said he still remembered the first time he came to Sabah three years ago when he climbed Mount Kinabalu and shot a documentary.

"I still remember the pain and agony of coming down from the mountain," he smiled.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Malaysia monitors status of entry point projects on weekly basis

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 03:34 PM PDT

STOCKHOLM: The way Malaysians do business has changed and they now have a new way of doing it, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed when answering queries from Swedish companies during the Stockholm Roundtable Meeting.

During the session, Swedish companies were interested to know about the political situation in Malaysia, the level of skills among Malaysian knowledge workers and whether Malaysia really had the ability to execute.

"What is different now is in our planning. Now we have Pemandu, which monitors the status of every single entry point project on a weekly basis every Friday, in fact.

"Every two to three weeks, I chair the investment committee meeting," Mustapa said.

On Malaysia's level of skilled labour, he said Malaysia had universities and technical finishing schools to ensure that its knowledge workers were really qualified.

He added that the Government was hoping to sign the Free Trade Agreement with the European Union by mid-2012. So far, four rounds of negotiations have taken place.

During the meeting, Malacca's chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam invited Swedish companies in the areas of stemcell research, oncology, and information, Communications and technology (ICT) to set up base in the state.

"Malacca is very dynamic in terms of health tourism. Every year, we receive some 100,000 overseas patients for medical treatment.

"We can assist the Swedish companies to make applications to the Federal Government for the research and development grants. We are very interested especially in stemcell and oncology," Rustam said.

Also present during the meeting was Digistar Corp Bhd's managing director Datuk Lee Wah Chong. He is currently in talks with several Swedish ICT companies on the possibility of business cooperations.

There are at present, 120 Swedish companies operating in Malaysia with 13 of them operating with MSC status.

Investment by Sweden amounts to US$439.8mil as of Dec 31, 2010. The European Union's total investment is US$14.38bil.

Sweden is well known for its innovations, renewable energy, machinery and equipment and ICT industries.

PNB votes against Asia File directors

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 03:33 PM PDT

GEORGE TOWN: In a surprising twist of events, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) voted in an AGM against the reappointment of three independent directors of Asia File Corp Bhd and the payment of directors' fees.

PNB, which holds 15.4 million shares in Asia File representing 20%, voted against the reappointment of independent non-executive directors Nurjannah Ali, 52, Khoo Khai Hong, 83, and Ooi Ean Chin, 78.

PNB did not give reasons for objecting to the reappointments, said Asia File managing director Lim Soon Huat.

However, some 80% representing 61 million of the shares voted for the resolutions to reappoint the three directors and the payment of directors' fees, enabling the resolutions to be passed, Lim said.

The votes were cast via a poll conducted at the AGM.

Meanwhile, Lim said that beginning Oct 1, Asia File's sales and production contribution from Malaysia would drop to about 40% of total compared with 60% previously. Asia File makes paper-based filing products following the acquisition of a company in the United Kingdom.

In the United Kingdom and Europe, Lim said the market had softened in the past two years by about 10%.

"The weakening of the euro has also eroded our revenue and reduced the quantum of profits.

"Currently, the exchange rate is around RM4.90 to £1 compared with RM7 to £1 three years ago," he said.

Lim said the group had recently bought over UK-based Trissi Brissi Ltd for £4.6mil.

"The paper-related product manufacturing and sale company has the capacity to produce 35,000 tonnes per annum of coloured manila and paper boards, using recycled materials," he said.

Higher retirement age will benefit the economy

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 03:31 PM PDT

QUITE a few Malaysians would have pumped their fists into the air upon hearing of the plans to increase the retirement age of private sector workers.

That group would certainly be those thinking that their working life was coming close to an end and the prospect of having five or more extra years added into their careers and earning potential now would certainly be a windfall for them.

The fact remains that retiring at 55 in today's world seems a waste. The mortality age for Malaysians has risen quite a bit from when the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Act 1951 was first passed. At that time many Malaysians were not expected to live past 55.

The retirement age in Indonesia and Thailand is 60 and any high-income economy, in which Malaysia aspires to be, certainly has a retirement age beyond 60.

Today, with better medicine, diet and exercise, the average life of people has increased. A longer life based on a finite and short working career certainly would put a strain on the finances of many a retiree.

The EPF says 73% of contributors have less than RM50,000 saved while only 17% have over RM100,000 at the point of their retirement. Add in the ever-growing costlier living costs, that amount of money will not last long and many do end up broke just a few years after retirement.

Another reason why the EPF might suggest an extension of the retirement age is that Malaysia is now a greying country. Baby boomers will retire in ever increasing numbers and the money will be withdrawn from the EPF and that will be to the detriment of the current group of savers and the overall equities and securities markets where the fund is a major investor.

Also, the more workers a country retains as the population ages the more the benefit to the economy.

But the decision to increase the retirement age in my estimation will boost the economy in the longer term.

Extending the retirement age will act as a stimulus for the economy and that will be from a group of people with the highest earning power too.

Based on life cycle hypotheses, people tend to spend more during the early age of their careers and save more as retirement approaches. Now that they know retirement is postponed for five more years at least, those people who might be thinking of building a nest egg have the opportunity to spend.

Spending more now will certainly be a boost to domestic consumption which is a main driver of growth.

People will now look to buy a new house, upgrade their cars, do some renovations to their homes or spend on whatever else they want on now knowing that they have the flexibility without worrying about the end of their careers.

Extending the retirement age will not mean people cannot retire early. Anyone can retire today if they wish to but surveys from the United States have shown that people will choose to retire later if the retirement age is extended.

Should the retirement age of government employees be increased to 60, it will be illogical to have separate retirement ages for the public and private sectors.

It will mean having a person at a top salary bracket serve an extra five years instead of giving that person a golden handshake, pay him 50% of his salary for the rest of his life, and replace him with another person at the salary of the retired person. There are also other benefits the Government can save on such as healthcare bills.

Young people who might be worried about not moving up the ladder or getting a job should not. Should the economic transformation programme gain traction, that will mean 3.3 million new jobs over the next 10 years.

Add in the fact we are technically at full employment and have more than 2.3 million legal and illegal foreign workers at least, jobs will be there as the economy grows.

Company CEOs may think that extending the retirement age will mean they are stuck with the deadwood in the organisation.

The fact, however, is deadwood will inevitably exist in every organisation. If CEOs can miraculously be given one chance to remove all unproductive workers, you can bet others will emerge at later years. It's best that talent management is exercised to ensure such workers are minimised at all times.

Deputy news editor Jagdev Singh Sidhu thinks those who have planned for their retirement will now look to spend a bit more.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Results worldwide

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 04:05 PM PDT


Pan Pacific Open

Third round: Vera Zvonareva (Rus) bt Iveta Benesova (Cze) 6-1, 6-2; Marion Bartoli (Fra) bt Peng Shuai (Chn) 6-2, 6-1; Maria Kirilenko (Rus) bt Ana Ivanovic (Srb) 6-3, 6-1; Victoria Azarenka (Blr) bt Klara Zakopalova (Cze) 6-3, 7-5; Petra Kvitova (Cze) bt Vania King (USA) 6-1, 7-6 (7-4); Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt Julia Goerges (Ger) 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4); Kaia Kanepi (Est) bt Caroline Wozniacki (Den) 7-5, 1-6, 6-4.

Thailand Open

First round: Tobias Kamke (Ger) bt Pablo Andujar (Spa) 6-0, 6-1; Go Soeda (Jpn) bt Karol Beck (Svk) 3-6, 7-6 (7-0), 7-6 (7-4).

Second round: Matthias Bachinger (Ger) bt Danai Udomchoke (Tha) 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

McIlroy has learnt to deal with the madness – now top spot beckons

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 04:05 PM PDT

LONDON: Rory McIlroy says that in quiet moments on his own, he cannot help reflecting with incredulity on a season of meltdown and magnificence and madness.

"I just think, from the incredible low of Augusta to the incredible high of Congressional and everything that's happened since, that it's probably going to be the defining year of my career," he muses.

It is a year that has changed him, he concedes, a year that somehow seems to be symbolised by him being seated here in a vast conference room at the UK headquarters of Santander, freshly signed up by the bank to a multi-million pound endorsement deal which effectively screams confirmation that the boy has now joined the uber-elite of the world's sportsmen.

McIlroy still looks like the same mop-headed kid but he has had to grow up fast after his heartbreaking implosion at the Masters, his glorious redemption at the US Open, the subsequent madness of 'Rorymania' at Sandwich and now a romance with the world No. 1 tennis player Caroline Wozniacki which completes his transformation into one of sport's most compelling one man soaps.

"I think it has to change you. You do have to get harder as a person and I've noticed that a little bit about myself already," he says.

"The Open was an eye-opener for me in a way because I'd never really received that amount of attention before. You obviously want to try to be as open and honest as you possibly can but with so much attention on you it's hard. You have to put a little bit of a shield up."

Everything he does now gets magnified.

Take the other week when Lee Westwood tweeted about Wozniacki's boyfriend being "half-Danish", to which McIlroy responded: "At least I'm not English."

This daft exchange was then translated back home in Belfast as "Furious Twitter Row".

"It wasn't a war! Me and Lee are very good mates; it was just good friendly banter," says McIlroy, shaking his head.

There was, however, nothing too warm and fuzzy about McIlroy's angry tweet to American commentator Jay Townsend, telling him he was a "failed golfer" who should "shut up" following his criticism of McIlroy's caddie JP Fitzgerald.

"That was something that had built up over the last two or three years. I think every sport has guys who don't like certain commentators, it's just one of those things," he shrugs unapologetically before conceding with a smile: "Twitter's a very powerful tool, but very dangerous too."

So was this an example of the new hard as nails Rors?

He disabuses you of this with his charming reprise of the bloke the world fell for after his mind-blowing act at the US Open: "I still do find it hard to say 'no' to people, to all the requests.

"At the start after Congressional, I probably was a bit uncomfortable with all the madness but once you get used to it, you can find your feet and it's OK. I've had to learn to deal with it – but it's a great problem to have. Anyway, it's definitely calmed down a bit."

That is largely down to him not having won since then.

We now routinely expect wonders from a 22 year-old when it is easy to forget that, actually, he has still only ever won three professional tournaments.

Three top-six finishes in his last six events since Congressional do not meet the golfing world's great expectations. More importantly, they do not meet McIlroy's.

"I don't really care if other people think it's good enough. It's whether I think it is good enough and, to be honest, no it isn't. It's the best year I've ever had, but as with a lot of top-level sports people, you always think you should have done better."

His own starbursts of brilliance sound almost difficult for him to comprehend.

Ask him if he believes that at Congressional he played golf like no one else could and his eyes light up: "Yeah, definitely. I know I've done that and now it's just a matter of being able to do that on a consistent basis.

"When I'm 100 per cent, I won the US Open by eight shots, was six shots ahead in the final round in Dubai and, after being on the cut line, shot 16 under at the weekend to win Quail Hollow by four. So when you're on, you feel untouchable. I'd take it if this happened to me four or five times a year.

"But it's being able to win when you're not playing your best; that's the secret I want to find. Turning those second, third and fourth placed finishes, when I'm not playing my best, into wins is basically what I'm trying to do now." — Daily Telegraph

Couples picks Woods and Haas in US Presidents Cup squad

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 04:05 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Tiger Woods and Bill Haas were both named on a powerful United States team for this year's Presidents Cup while the Australian pair of Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley filled the two International places as the rival captains revealed their wildcard selections on Tuesday.

The American team's non-playing captain Fred Couples had already announced he was reserving one of his two spots for Woods while Haas provided a compelling case for his inclusion on the 12-man roster by winning last weekend's season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta and the US$10mil bonus as FedExCup points champion.

Norman also kept true to his pledge that he wanted two of his countrymen with experience of playing the tricky Royal Melbourne Golf Club layout where the Ryder Cup-style competition will be contested from Nov. 17-20.

He gave the nod to the two Australians ahead of last year's British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Fijian former world number one Vijay Singh to bolster a lineup already overflowing with talent.

The addition of Baddeley and Allenby boosts the Australian contingent on the International squad to five with Jason Day and Adam Scott, the joint runners-up at this year's Masters, and former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy having already earned automatic selection.

"Knowing we were playing in the backyard of Australia I wanted to load up the team with as many Aussies as I possibly could," Norman said on a conference call.

No player will be under more scrutiny or pressure than Woods, who has seen his ranking and form plunge since his last tournament win, in Australia two years ago, while trying to rebuild his golf swing and private life following the breakup of his marriage.

The former-world number one has played on every US Presidents Cup team since 1998 but has not won a tournament since the 2009 Australian Masters at Kingston Heath, located on the same renowned Melbourne Sandbelt as the Presidents Cup course. — Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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Morning surprise for employees of mall outlets

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 04:21 PM PDT

SUBANG JAYA: Employees who work at Empire Shopping Gallery had a shock when they arrived for work and found the place teeming with uniformed personnel and curious onlookers.

Sales personnel Ida Rahim, 20, thought a crime had taken place.

"I saw the police do-not-cross lines and a crowd of curious onlookers outside the mall when I arrived at 8am. I thought someone got murdered!" said Ida, who works at a department store.

"I only found out an explosion had occurred earlier in the morning after asking around."

Hundreds of shopping mall staff like Ida were left stranded outside the mall as they showed up to work without any knowledge of the pre-dawn blast.

Ida said her employer told her and her colleagues to go home as business would be closed indefinitely.

A bakery manager, who only wanted to be identified as Rusli, said he was told by fire department officials he was not allowed to enter the mall to retrieve money from his shop.

"I was told no one is allowed to enter the mall until the fire department finishes its investigation and gives clearance," said the 38-year-old.

On Twitter

THE gas explosion which rocked Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang Jaya created a frenzy of tweets and re-tweets on Twitter under the hashtag #empiregallery.

Others commented on #empiresubangexplode and #empiregallery.

Many of those living in the vicinity of the gallery and heard the blast said they were up watching the early morning Champions League games at the time.

Here are some of the tweets:


> experienced something like erthquake, scary. read twitter, #empiregallery had explosion. i don't know what happened!

> #empiregalle y is blown up aka. explosion an hour ago, I think block A is the one AND WEA RES TILLH EREI N BLOCK B! AARGGHH*!p! anic*


> I thank God it did not happen during business hours, otherwise casualty would have been severe.


> View from Federal Highway, note right of image. Parking area affected. http://yf rog. com/ke53oqlj


>If you have no business or reason to be at #EmpireGallery please don't clog the area & cause traffic, let officials do their work.


>Woke up to the news that #empiregalle ry #subang had an explosion last night. Thank God it didn't happen during the day


>Front door shook a little, with her father wondering why the cats were pushing at the door around 4am.

Related Stories:
Victims say loud explosion similar to that heard in action films'
Mall closed after gas blast
Fire Dept suspects gas leak before explosion

Mall closed after gas blast

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 04:06 PM PDT

SUBANG JAYA: Empire Shopping Gallery has been closed as the authorities scrambled to determine the cause of a gas explosion which rocked the building, injuring four people.

The closure, which covers the entire complex that houses a hotel, commercial and residential units, is effective until the structures are declared safe by the authorities.

Empire Shopping Gallery is one of the most frequented and popular shopping malls here, attracting thousands of shoppers daily.

The explosion, which occurred at the ground floor of the five-storey mall at about 3.45am yesterday, also tore into the adjoining office block and studio apartments. Two other floors in the shopping complex were also damaged.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said: "For the time being, the complex will be closed pending investigations by the Fire Department and police."

"Then, engineers, consultants, property owners and the local council will be allowed in to inspect the building before it is declared safe," he told reporters after visiting the scene yesterday.

It is learnt that Energy Commission investigations will take several days to ensure the gas piping system is safe for operation.

Initial inspection by the owners' engineers and architects revealed the building's main structure was not affected by the explosion.

"I was given the assurance by the owners' professional teams of engineers and architects that the structure of the building is not affected," Khalid said, adding that this would have to be verified by local council engineers.

He said public safety was the main concern and the complex would be temporarily closed.

To speed up the safety verification process, Khalid said local council engineers would work closely with consultant engineers to give on-the-spot decisions during inspections.

Mall management company Mammoth Empire Holdings Sdn Bhd's group chief director Datuk Danny J.Y. Cheah confirmed that the building's main structure was still intact, noting that the damage was confined to glass panels, ceiling boards and several brick walls "mainly due to the rapid expansion of air during the explosion".

About 300 people were rescued and evacuated, including some 170 hotel guests who were relocated to nearby hotels for safety reasons, he said.

The effects of the explosion reached both ends of the mall, and all five levels recorded some form of damage.

Several windows as high up as the eighth floor of the 12-storey office tower were also shattered.

"We are not able to ascertain losses at this point in time," Cheah said, adding that the mall was occupied by 180 tenants.

Mall general manager May Woo said all operations had been halted until further notice in the interest of public safety.

A preliminary report on the investigations is expected to be released by the fire forensics team within the next 48 hours, she said in a statement last night.

"We have taken the decision to halt operations as safety is our highest priority. We assure our tenants that this decision has been made after carefully considering all factors and advice from the authorities.

"I urge all parties to refrain from speculation and allow the authorities to carry out their investigations. We are also anxious to find out what caused this incident," she said.

The public can get updates via various channels, including the mall's website (www.esg.com.my), Facebook (www.facebook/esg.com.my) and Twitter (Empire SHGallery.com). Alternatively, they can call 018-701 2880.

Malaysian Association for Shopping and Highrise Complex Management president H.C. Chan recommended regular maintenance of gas supply systems in shopping malls.

Related Stories:
Victims say loud explosion similar to that heard in action films'
Morning surprise for employees of mall outlets
Fire Dept suspects gas leak before explosion

Go for technical education, Indian youths told

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 03:53 PM PDT

INDIAN youths who failed to pursue higher education have been urged to take up opportunities in technical education and vocational training, reported Malaysia Nanban.

MIC president Datuk G. Palanivel told reporters this after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between MIC's social arm Social Strategic Foundation and the Implementation Coordination Unit of the Prime Minister's Department.

He said the MoU was aimed at building skills among Indian youths and improving their chances of employment.

He called upon the youths to grab the opportunities in line with the Government's aspiration to produce highly skilled and semi-skilled workers to reduce dependency on foreign workers.

> A woman who had been staying in a Kampong Setiawan house for the past 40 years got a shock when the neighbouring SK Kampong Setiawan management told her to vacate the house by Sept 30 as the land belonged to the school, reported Malaysia Nanban.

However, widow P. Krishnammal said the land belonged to her father-in-law A. Muniandy and they had been staying in the house since 1972. She said that quit rent for the land had been paid till 1993.

She said that she was currently living in the house with her two children but the school claimed the land had been transferred to it in 1976.

They have given her a week to vacate, failing which the house would be demolished.

She said she had approached Pasir Panjang state assemblyman Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin for help.

>Makkal Osai reported that a woman who immolated her daughter-in-law was convicted of murder charges and sentenced to life imprisonment by Chennai sessions court judge R. Sethumadhavan on Monday.

The judge, in passing sentence, said that the court was not inclined to show any leniency because this kind of offence must be dealt with seriously.

Kaniammal was also fined Rs15,000 (RM1,000) and her son was sentenced to three years' jail and fined Rs500 (RM35).

Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with this > sign, it denotes a separate news item.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Anna Faris talks 'What's Your Number'

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 03:43 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters): Actress Anna Faris has been tickling the funny bones of audiences in films such as The House Bunny and on TV shows like Friends since the late 1990s. She has also shown versatility in movies like Brokeback Mountain and programs such as Entourage.

This week, Faris stars in adult-oriented comedy What's Your Number? She plays Ally Darling, a single woman on a quest to marry, but having slept with 19 men she feels like one more would make her ``unmarriageable.'' Soon, Ally learns marriage is not about numbers and love is closer than she thought.

Faris, 34, spoke with Reuters about the film, working in adult-oriented comedies, and co-starring with her real-life husband, Chris Pratt.

Ally feels like one more guy in her bed means no ring on her finger. Is 20 too high or too low?

When this script was at another studio, they thought 20 was too high. They wanted to make it 16. To me, I don't know if 20 is high enough! Don't you feel like it should be 70 or something? (laughs)

Hmmm, what are you saying? Or, more importantly, what are you implying about yourself?

(Laughs) I didn't get out into the world early enough. Plus I had (orthodontic) head gear. If you want your child to stay a virgin, put them in headgear. That's guaranteed to keep your number down!

Your real-life husband, Chris Pratt, who is on TV's Parks And Recreation is also in the film as one of your past lovers. How was it working with him?

We worked on Take Me Home Tonight a few years back and then we worked again on this. He plays Disgusting Donald, who is sort of the catalyst to my character's journey. It was a blast working with him. He makes me laugh all the time. But it's also scary. I felt a little more vulnerable doing our scenes together because I'm always concerned about what he thinks. When it's somebody who's really close to you, you care about their opinion a little bit more.''

Out of all your character's past boyfriends, Ally's storyline with Disgusting Donald was the most chaste.

Yeah. He's the one engaged to a really hot girl! (laughs) I'm like, 'Wait, you guys are going to kiss, again?'

Ah, but Ally has plenty of bedroom scenes with numerous men. How does your husband feel about you shooting those?

He's really supportive and so proud. As actors, we don't show up on the days when the other is supposed to be intimate with another person. I wouldn't want my husband sitting behind the cameras while I'm in bed with Zach Quinto or Joel McHale. Chris is so great about that.

You executive produced this movie. What did that entail, other than being able to cast your husband?

It means I also get to pick out what kind of donuts the crew is going to eat. (Laughs) It was a really collaborative process. I was always asked my opinion. They asked me about my choice of directors, actors, wardrobe -- everything. I have a lot of trust in people who are more experienced than I am.

What's Your Number is rated R in the United States. After successes with other R-rated, adult-oriented, female comedies this past summer like Bridesmaids with Kristen Wiig and Bad Teacher with Cameron Diaz, are you feeling pressure to keep that streak going?

It's always terrifying. Kristin Wiig and I are friends, and I'm so proud of her. I'm so excited that there's now this gang of female comediennes. Conventional wisdom in Hollywood was that women (moviegoers) wanted to see something specific out of women. What this summer has done is flip that on it's head. You can't define a gender's sense of humor.

When you were shooting What's Your Number? did you know there would be this wave or R-rated, woman comedies?

When we shot this last summer, the R-rated female comedy was still dangerous territory. In the past when I've pitched comedies, the first question from the studio was always, 'What's it rated? It's got to be PG-13.' Now the conversation is completely changing.

Ironically, the movie that put you on the map over 10 years ago was the R-rated Scary Movie. Are you comfortable in this niche or do you long to break out of it?

Quick -- somebody put me in a biopic, please! (laughs) It was really hard for me to break out of the Scary Movie genre, and I used to feel like I needed to do something dramatic or some weird, dark independent film to be taken seriously. But I really love comedy and weirdly enough, I love how my journey has ended up. I get to laugh all day long.

Catch The Three Musketeers on us

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 02:47 AM PDT

In the 17th-century, famed Musketeers Athos, Aramis and Porthos steal highly coveted airship designs from a high-security vault, but their sweet taste of success is short-lived. Their beautiful partner-in-crime, Milady drugs the trio and sells the designs to a higher bidder, the ultra-cool Englishman, Buckingham. It's a major blow to the famed swordsmen and leaves disheartened. A year passes and the devil-may-care young D'Artagnan journeys to Paris to realize his dream of becoming a Musketeer, but he finds them a shadow of their former selves, working menial jobs and seeking a cause worth serving.

And that 'cause' soon comes when they have to save the kingdom as the conniving Cardinal Richelieu hatches a deadly plot to overthrow the young King Louis with the help of the double agent, Milady.

Catch The Three Musketeers in cinemas this month. eCentral and Golden Screen Cinemas are giving away tickets to a special screening of The Three Musketeers.

We have 40 pairs of tickets to give away. To get a free pair of tickets, print this page and exchange it for the tickets. See details of redemption and screening below.

Redemption Details

Date: 5 October 2011 (Wednesday)

Time: 11am to 1pm

Venue: Lobby of Menara Star, Star Publications, 15 Jln 16/11, Section 16, 46350 Petaling Jaya

Screening Details

Date: 6 October 2011 (Thursday)

Time: 9.30pm

Venue: GSC Berjaya Times Square

Rules & Regulations

1. This redemption is open to all eCentral fans.

2. Print out the contest page and redeem it at the venue given in this article.

3. Each page entitles you to two movie tickets only. Each person is allowed to redeem only once.

4. Tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis.

5. Queue-jumping and reserving places in line during the redemption are strictly prohibited. The organizers reserve the right to refuse tickets to anyone found doing so.

6. Tickets are not exchangeable for cash.

7. Movie ratings will strictly apply for this movie. Please refer to your ticket or your daily newspaper for ratings. The organizers reserve the right to refuse entry to the cinema hall to those not within the permitted age limit. No exceptions will be made at any time for any reason.  

Produce a short movie

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 09:07 PM PDT

The 48 Hour Film Project is back, challenging you to make a short movie in two days.

EVERYONE'S heard this one before: "I want to make a film, a short film, but I don't have the time. I never have the time." But there are short films, and even feature films, made in one day, and with almost zero budget. One just has to get off her or his butt and do it.

That's basically what The 48 Hour Film Project is all about. Come up with a story, write the script, shoot the film, edit it, complete the post-production, all in a span of two days. And it all takes place during one weekend, a time when most people do not have to work their day jobs.

At this time in Malaysia, while our mainstream film industry is churning out more than 40 films a year and cramming up the queue for "Wajib Tayang" (compulsory screening), short-film competitions are also jamming up the calendar. In fact, The 48 Hour Film Project press conference took place on the same day as this year's instalment of the BMW Shorties. Perhaps after this, we will be seeing Kuala Lumpur crammed with film crews running around competing for shooting locations.

The 48 Hour Film Project is into its second instalment this year, having more than met the competition's producers' expectations.

Shahril Fahazmi Musa and Elly Marlina Zainal Abidin had expected at most 24 films to be made last year, but they ended up with a total 39 entries, out of which the winner of that inaugural competition was a film by a bunch of students from Mara University Of Technology. Titled Skodeng: Kebenaran Yang Nakal, it was made by the student team that called themselves Produksi Enjitsemut.

The competition not only requires filmmakers to make a short film in just two days, it also provides a set of genres for them to choose from and a few "elements" that have to be included in the film. Last year, contestants had to work a golf ball and a salesperson into their stories.

Shahril said they were more than happy with the results.

"We easily found our 10 best films, including both student and professional entries," he said. "I'm not saying the other 29 are not good. It's just that we had to select the best of the best. Overall, we can compete with the rest of the world. I've seen the films from the other parts of the world."

What he meant was that The 48 Hour Film Project is a competition that is franchised to about 100 cities around the world. It started in 2001 when founder and Washington DC-based filmmaker Mark Ruppert decided to try and make a film in 48 hours.

Last year, Linktree Sdn Bhd decided to bring the competition to KL. All the winning films from around the world then go on to compete at the finale festival known as Filmapalooza that takes place in the United States.

Next year's Filmapalooza will happen at the Taos Shortz Film Festival in New Mexico. Last year, the 14 best films at Filmapalooza were screened at the Cannes International Film Festival's Short Film Corner. Incidentally, this year is also the 10th anniversary of The 48 Hour Film Project.

"Even though we don't have the best equipment here, that doesn't stop us from producing good films," said Shahril. "In fact, last year's winner was shot by students using a handycam."

With the technology available today, it is even easier to make a film. A lot of filmmakers use DSLR cameras to make even feature films. Even an established, internationally renowned director such as South Korea's Park Chan-wook shot a 30-minute thriller using an iPhone 4.

"Something shot on an iPhone 4 is already SD (standard definition), and is good enough by broadcast standards," said Shahril. "We don't want the filmmakers to limit themselves. They can use whatever equipment they choose, as long as the film is submitted in standard definition so that it can be shown on a big screen."

That is one of the promises the organisers make to the contestants. Every completed film will be screened. Last year, a team shot their film on 16mm, but was unfortunately disqualified because they were five minutes late in submitting their entry. But the film was still screened to audiences in a cinema.

This year the judges will be filmmakers James Lee, Woo Ming Jin and Amir Muhammad; filmmaker and actor Abdul Mannaan Abdullah (aka M. Subash); and Primeworks Studios' associate creative director Eddy Lim.

This year's competition, at Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur, will start at 9pm on Oct 28 and the completed films have to be dropped off at 9pm on Oct 30. The registration fee is RM400, with a special early-bird fee of RM350 until Oct 3.

The awards night will be held at Zouk Club KL on Nov 10.

All the completed films will be screened at TGV KLCC from Nov 1 to 4, depending on the number of submissions.

"We do realise that now we have a lot of short-film competitions," said Shahril. "But our competition is slightly different from the rest. You need to write, shoot, edit and do everything within 48 hours. It's definitely more fun. We have it on a weekend because we want them to have an enjoyable weekend."

For more details, visit www.kl48hourfilm.com. Red FM, operated by The Star, is one of the media partners of the competition.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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One world, one heart

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 02:41 AM PDT

Cardiovascular diseases remain the world's main killers, claiming about 17 to 18 million lives each year. Heart Foundation of Malaysia (Yayasan Jantung Negara) director Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin shares his views on the matter on the eve of World Heart Day tomorrow.

IT has been repeatedly said that the heart is an extremely vital organ. Can you put this into perspective?

The human heart is really the most amazing organ in the body. It beats even before you are born into this world, continuing to do so until you take your last breath. For as long as you are alive, your heart is hard at work. There is no other muscle in your body that works in such an astonishing way.

The human heart is tasked with pumping oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the whole body. The heart's other function is also to "carry away" your body's waste products such as carbon dioxide, from the tissues. The heart is "connected" to every part of the body through blood vessels.

Despite the importance of our heart, it is often the most neglected organ in our body, as the rising prevalence of heart disease in the nation illustrates.

Also, after a heart attack, the damage done to your heart is irreparable. As such, it is of utmost importance that we prevent heart disease well before it strikes. This can be done if we eliminate the risk factors of heart disease, and this has to begin from childhood itself.

Isn't heart disease a problem for older people? How do young children fit into the picture?

It's really not accurate to say that heart disease only afflicts the older age group. Heart disease can be caused by multiple factors, called risk factors, which in fact begin building up right from childhood. I have personally heard that even children as young as two can already have developed risk factors for heart disease.

In my opinion, the true problem lies in the fact that the perception of heart disease has not evolved. In Malaysia, heart disease has been the number one killer for the past three decades. Before we can understand heart disease, we need to go to the root of the matter – the risk factors. The key is that heart disease is largely preventable, if only parents cultivate a healthy lifestyle in their children from young.

You said that heart disease is largely preventable, if tackled early on in life. Can you elaborate a bit more?

Yes, prevention of heart disease from childhood is what I wish to stress upon. I term this loosely as the "modifiable risk factor", which largely co-relates to the diet and lifestyle of the child.

Under the umbrella of modifiable risk factor, we have five separate and equally important issues to deal with: high cholesterol levels, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and of course, a sedentary lifestyle.

Most people will not contest that fast food consumption, frequent dining outs and being a couch potato profoundly affect the growing child. In fact, the more we move away from consuming a "natural" diet, the worse the outlook is in terms of heart disease.

Well, the notion of change makes people uncomfortable. So, instead of dwelling on change, why not instil the habit of healthy living in the child right from the start?

Healthy living does not mean creating a good food vs bad food list. Neither does it mean adhering to a vegan diet or bland and tasteless foods. That is rather unrealistic to ask for.

I task it upon the parents and caregivers, not to control their children and dictate their life completely, but to be a good role model and provide proper guidance to the young to live and eat healthily.

Of course, to err is human, and I am not saying that as a parent, you should be perfect. Neither am I asking parents to mould a Stepford child. A child will always be a child and it is in fact wrong to deny your child her "childhood" indulgences totally, as suppressing a child's desires too much will result in unhealthy emotional growth.

How exactly can parents influence those modifiable risk factors?

To answer your question, allow me to elaborate on each of the modifiable risk factor in turn, and how parents can actually make a difference to all of it.

High blood pressure

Also known as hypertension, it often has no symptoms. You will not know that you are suffering from it unless you check your pressure regularly.

High blood pressure increases your heart's workload, causing the heart muscle to be enlarged as it forces your heart to work harder than necessary. This would increase the risk of a heart attack or heart failure, as in the long run, this causes the heart muscle to weaken and work less effectively.

High blood pressure can be easily controlled by limiting daily salt intake. Try cultivating healthier habits by avoiding foods such as processed food, fast food, or even try to limit eating out. Home-cooked meals are always healthier and more nutritious. According to the Malaysian Dietary Guidelines 2010, salt intake should not exceed 5gm (or one teaspoon) a day.

High cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance and is needed by the body to perform its primary functions. In fact, your liver produces almost 75% of your body's cholesterol (also known as endogenous cholesterol) and the balance comes from the food you eat (dietary cholesterol).

It is important to understand the two different types of cholesterol – the good and the bad cholesterol.

> HDL-cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein): The "good" cholesterol is needed by your body to carry cholesterol away from cells back to the liver, where it is then broken down and passed out as waste products. Generally, high HDL-cholesterol levels may protect you from heart disease. Research has shown that regular physical activity can increase your levels of HDL-C.

> LDL-cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins): The "bad" cholesterol causes an accumulation of "deposits" on the artery walls, leading to blockage in the blood vessel (known as atherosclerosis). Progressive atherosclerosis with deposition of the LDL cholesterol in the walls of the arteries causes a build-up known as plaque.

When the plaque ruptures, this causes a formation of blood clot, which then obstructs blood flow to the heart, and this causes a heart attack.

> Triglycerides: This is a form of fat made in the body, brought on by obesity/overweight problems, lack of exercise, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. High levels of triglycerides, especially in conjunction with low HDL cholesterol levels, also predispose to coronary heart disease.

To control high cholesterol, it is important to note that cholesterol comes mainly from animal products. Limit your children's consumption of cholesterol-rich food or saturated and trans fats, which increase the amount of bad cholesterol in your body. Consume oil sparingly, and always opt for healthier options such as fat-free products or rapeseed oil.


Diabetes is generally known as the mother of all diseases and is often linked to a host of other diseases that fast-tracks individuals to suffer from heart disease. It is reported by the American Heart Association that heart disease and stroke are the main causes of death and disability among people with type 2 diabetes.

In fact, 65% of people with diabetes die from some form of heart disease or stroke.

Contrary to popular belief, diabetes also affects the young. In fact, in Malaysia, children as young as 10 years old have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes amongst adults and children can be easily managed by controlling sugar intake from young. It is advised that sugar intake should not exceed 50g daily (Malaysian Dietary Guidelines 2010).


Approximately 43% of Malaysians are either overweight or obese, an increase of a staggering 250% over a 10-year period from 1996, according to the National Health and Morbidity Survey III (2006).

Obesity is simply defined as having excess body fat. It is generally caused by consuming more calories than your body can burn up.

Nowadays, kids generally are more prone to obesity as they spend most of their time in front of their computers, being a couch potato or consuming too much unhealthy snacks or foods.

According to a study conducted by Segal and Sanchez (2001), after an obese child reaches six years of age, the probability the obesity will persist into adulthood exceeds 50%, and 70% to 80% of obese adolescents will remain so as adults.

According to the WHO, an estimated 17.6 million children under five are overweight.

Sedentary lifestyle

Essentially, our children lack much needed exercise. According to a study reported in Business Week, children spend almost eight hours daily watching TV, playing video games or surfing the Internet.

How often do we see kids running around in the playground or in the park these days? Parents should try to encourage regular physical activity amongst family members. It is not only good for everyone's heart-health, but encourages bonding among the family members too.

As the saying goes, a family that plays together stays together.

For children with parents who suffer from heart diseases, physical activity is even more crucial. By exercising, you can increase your levels of HDL-C (good cholesterol) and also eliminate other risk factors such as obesity and high blood pressure.

Recent research has argued that genes play a large part too, especially when it comes to heart disease. Any comments on that?

I will answer that question with another question: what is the standard of proof of that statement? Has it been proven beyond reasonable doubt that genes will lead to heart disease, or are we talking about it on the balance of probabilities?

According to the Framingham Heart Study published in the May 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that having one parent with premature heart or vascular disease can double or even triple one's risk of premature heart disease.

If both parents had premature heart disease, a daughter would have three times the risk, and a son, twice the risk.

Well, I am not denying that heart disease is a condition that can be passed down from generation to generation. But one word of caution here – even though you may have inherited such genes, that does not mean that it is cast in stone that you WILL suffer from heart disease.

Which means that this case is not proven beyond reasonable doubt. Hereditary factors simply predispose you and make you more vulnerable to heart disease.

It is risk factors like these that are beyond our control that should motivate us to get our act together and start instilling heart-healthy habits amongst our children. There are still the modifiable risk factors which play a larger role in preventing heart disease, even if hereditary predisposition is a factor.

That is why I repeatedly tell my patients to take extra care of their children's lifestyle and diet habits, to reduce the likelihood that heart disease will become a vicious cycle. There is a saying that goes: hereditary loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger.

You have emphasised the link between parents and their children. What about the role of families as a whole in collectively reducing their risks of heart disease? How important is that?

There is a Latin quote: non est vivere sed valere vita est, which simply means, life is not about being alive, but being well.

Think about it this way: we all have our respective roles to play in society. In my family, I am a father and a husband. Of course, I pray for a long life so that I can be with my family, but at the same time, I need to be well to be that loving father and husband.

As I have mentioned earlier, genetically, you can be predisposed to heart disease. It is reported that in Malaysia, children as young as seven years old suffer from high cholesterol.

Heart-healthy initiatives at home aren't as hard as what we may think. Start by having family time together at parks, walking the dog, or even going for a family sporting event.

Show your child that if you can do it, so can they.

The prevalence of overweight children has jumped from 2% (NHMS II, 1996) to 5.4% (NHMS III, 2006). According to the Journal of the American Heart Association, studies have confirmed that when children learn and practise heart healthy eating habits, it can significantly reduce their heart disease risk later in life.

Can you tell us what are some of the activities championed by the Heart Foundation towards reducing the prevalence of heart diseases in our country?

The Heart Foundation has been actively involved in conducting road shows all over the country. These road shows, or YJM Heart Weeks, are held in shopping malls and we offer free health checks and advice by experts.

YJM is also actively involved in educating Malaysians on heart diseases; specifically on the major risk factors, through educational press articles in major newspapers or magazines.

YJM also collaborates with the private sector to conduct educational community-based programmes.

The most recent one we undertook was the Quaker Make Malaysia Heart Healthy campaign. – Lee Mei Chieng

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Gimme my vitamins

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 12:36 AM PDT

Vitamins are essential organic compounds required by the body to regulate tissue growth and metabolism.

MY parents are always asking me to take my vitamins. When I enter any pharmacy, I also notice a lot of vitamin counters. Why are vitamins so important?

The word vitamin historically came from the term "vital amine" back in 1912. A scientist called Funk was describing a discovery that a certain "amine" extracted from rice polishings could prevent beriberi. Therefore, he thought that particular amine was "vital".

There are altogether 13 vitamins. They are essential organic compounds needed by the body to regulate metabolism, cell and tissue growth, help enzymes function, and basically allow you to carry on living healthily.

They are named vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the whole host of B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folate).

You can actually get all your vitamins from the foods you eat, assuming you eat a normal diet consisting of meat, vegetables, and carbohydrates.

Your body can make vitamins D and K.

Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, while the rest are water-soluble.

If you are vegetarian, you may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement.

How do you know if you are deficient in a certain vitamin type?

There are certain symptoms associated with the deficiency. For example, vitamin A is needed for vision (especially night vision and dark adaptation), immune response, bone growth, reproduction, and the maintenance of the surface lining of cells.

Therefore, if you have vitamin A deficiency, you will find it difficult to visually adjust to the dark. You can't drive at night. Your skin, hair and fingernails will be dry, lustreless, cracked, and easily broken, and you get infections very easily.

Then, as it gets worse, you get night blindness. You may even become totally blind.

If you eat a normal balanced diet, it is not "easy" to get vitamin A deficiency. Yet, vitamin A deficiency affects one third of the world's children under five. These children live in Africa and South-East Asia. More than half a million children die every year because of vitamin A deficiency, and another half a million become blind.

What about vitamin B deficiency? How would we recognise it?

We may suffer vitamin B complex deficiencies because we are taking too much processed foods (instead of natural foods) and refined sugar, and experience excessive stress.

The vitamin B family is responsible for the wellbeing of our cells, transmission of our nerve impulses, muscular contraction, digestion, brain function, thought processes and energy production.

Therefore, if you are deficient, you can have heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, indigestion, and the feeling of exhaustion all the time.

Mental problems may start to crowd in. You may have paranoia – the fear that something bad will happen to you at any time. You may feel nervous, easily agitated and frustrated. You can't sleep. You feel restless all the time. You may even have tingling in your hands and feet.

What about vitamin B12 deficiency? Why do vegetarians get it?

In general, vegetarians lack adequate intake of vitamin B12. It is only present in animal products like eggs, meat or milk. If you are a vegetarian who can take eggs and milk, all is well and good. But if not, you have to take supplements.

There is also another reason for vitamin B12 deficiency. There is such a thing called an intrinsic factor, which is produced by our stomach cells. The intrinsic factor helps the absorption of vitamin B12. So, if anything were to affect the stomach, such as serious, atrophic gastritis, this intrinsic factor cannot be produced.

Vitamin B12 is also absorbed in the latter parts of the small intestine, called the terminal ileum. If anything were to happen to the terminal ileum, such as if we had surgery, vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed.

Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine can also cause this deficiency.

How will I be able to tell if I have vitamin B12 deficiency?

You may get pernicious anaemia. This is a very "interesting disease" characterised by three symptoms:

> Megaloblastic anaemia – this is a type of anaemia which has a lot of early red cells called promegaloblasts. They can be seen under the microscope.

> Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, diarrhoea, and belching.

> Neurological symptoms like being unable to sense deep touch, pressure and vibration, and a persistent tingling. Mental disorders can occur.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can be very serious and cause permanent brain damage if you don't correct it.

Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health advice, computers and entertainment. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only.

Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information.

The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

My heart will go on

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 08:19 PM PDT

LIKE many Malaysians, I love food. The notion of "self-control" or "moderation" evaded my understanding, and I never once thought that I might one day be affected by heart disease due to my unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Most of the time, I felt sluggish and I would be breathless after climbing the flight of stairs in my home.

One day, I happened to read an article on heart disease, and boy, was I shocked to discover that I was a walking time-bomb for heart disease.

I then made a quick Google search about heart disease. The link I stumbled upon was the Quaker Heart-Health Test. I answered a few questions and waited with bated breath. Then came the shock. I was at "high risk" of developing heart disease. I quickly applied to be part of the Quaker challenge.

My prayers were answered. I received a call to inform me that I was selected to participate in the Quaker Smart Heart Challenge.

But before I could officially join the challenge, I was sent for a blood test. I did suspect that the results would not be optimistic, and I was right. I was diagnosed with high blood cholesterol.

I knew I had to do something quickly to reduce my cholesterol levels if I wanted to avoid a heart attack. No harm giving the challenge my all, I figured.

It was after all, just for 30 days.

I strived to adjust my dietary and lifestyle habits.

Two bowls of oatmeal, daily, for 30 days, plus various lifestyle changes, including regular physical activity.

First week into my oat meal diet, my perception remained unchanged – it was bland and I strongly contemplated giving up.

But, the experts who were monitoring my progress on a daily basis were my source of guidance and motivation. I filled up a daily log sheet on my meals and physical activity and I was given feedback and tips on what I was doing right and areas that I could further improve.

I learned more creative ways to eat my oats and began loving it.

My family members felt the difference in me and I knew I had made the right choice.

My energy levels did not fall even as the day progressed. Even my friends and family members asked what was my secret. I just smiled and told them my experience with the Quaker Smart Heart Challenge.

Then, the 30 days were up. The moment of truth dawned as I went for my second blood test to see if my efforts during the 30 days made a difference. However, something in me felt reassured that somehow, things would be different. I was right. I had won the war.

I managed to reduce my total cholesterol levels by a staggering 33% in just 30 days!

As the saying goes, let him who would move the world, first move himself. Building heart-health is a lifelong effort, but I know I must have a strong heart to keep my family fit for life. – Normala Nordin

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