Jumaat, 14 Oktober 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Obama recruits more big cash donors for re-election

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 08:54 PM PDT

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) - The number of donors who raise big money for President Barack Obama jumped in the last three months as he builds a war chest for what will likely be the costliest presidential election ever.

U.S. President Barack Obama is pictured during remarks before signing the American Invents Act at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, September 16, 2011. (REUTERS/Jason Reed/Files)

At least forty-one people have raised at least half a million dollars for the president, compared to 27 in Obama's first report, according to an analysis of campaign data released on Friday.

The big donors, known as "bundlers," are typically well-connected people who pledge to gather tens of thousands of dollars for a candidate

Former Goldman Sachs executive Jon Corzine and Dreamworks Animation chief executive executive Jeffrey Katzenberg are on Obama's elite list and raised $500,000 or more.

The president's campaign finance report shows he can still pull in major cash despite a stagnant economy, dipping approval ratings and grumblings among some liberal supporters that he has not done enough for their cause.

While still keeping ties to his famed small donor operation, Obama is relying heavily on major donors early on to finance a campaign that is likely to break records in spending, according to Anthony Corrado, a campaign finance expert at Colby College.

"The emphasis has been on doing larger dollar fundraising events particularly asking for $2,500," Corrado said. "Events like this help him to raise substantial amounts of money for the campaign allowing him to exceed his pace for 2007."

Obama and the Democratic National Committee have raised more than $150 million so far for his bid for a second term, far outstripping Obama's Republican rivals.


But fundraising prowess doesn't guarantee victory for the incumbent, who is fighting for re-election amid a economic stagnation and high unemployment.

Opinion polls show that Obama will have a tough time winning re-election next year. A Gallup poll released on Friday showed that U.S. registered voters, by 46 percent to 38 percent, are more likely to vote for an unnamed Republican presidential candidate than for Obama in 2012.

Bundlers raised about a third of Obama's warchest so far.

Earlier on Friday, Republican Mitt Romney posted $14 million for the quarter, second to fellow Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry's $17 million. Obama's comparable fundraising figure for the three months was $43 million.

Obama voluntarily releases a list of bundlers. No other major candidate has done so.

The president regularly brings in more than $1 million in a single evening of fundraising, as supporters donate the legal maximum of $35,800 to his campaign and the Democratic party for the chance to have dinner and take a picture with the president.

UBS executive Robert Wolf and hedge fund executive Orin Kramer are also big Obama fundraisers.

At least 40 percent of all the money raised by the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee last quarter came from those giving in increments of $200 or less.

The Obama campaign has been touting its connections to mainstream Americans who send smaller checks, calling itself a grassroots effort.

"They are still doing well with small donors," said Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, a thank tank.

The campaign said that in the third quarter about 600,000 people donated to the campaign.

Much has been made of dipping support among Wall Street for Obama. Some financial executives, including hedge fund managers, have complained about Obama's tax and financial regulation policies and his comments about the wealthy, at times calling them "fat cats."

In the second quarter, more Wall Street money did flow to Romney, who has deep ties there. Still, Obama boosted the number of bundlers with Wall Street ties in that period.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Todd Eastham)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Leader of Cuba's 'Ladies in White' dies at 63

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 08:54 PM PDT

HAVANA (Reuters) - Laura Pollan, one of the founders of the dissident group Ladies in White, has died in a Havana hospital at the age of 63, fellow dissidents on Friday.

Family members could not be reached, but Pollan's longtime co-leader of the women's group confirmed her death, telling Reuters from outside the hospital that "Laura has just died."

Laura Pollan, leader of The Ladies in White, a group made up of family members of imprisoned dissidents, speaks on a phone in her house in Havana February 11, 2011. (REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa/Files)

Pollan was reported to have a pulmonary illness and been on a respirator since Oct. 7. There were reports earlier on Friday that her condition had worsened.

The former teacher became one of Cuba's leading dissidents after her husband and 74 other government opponents were jailed in a March 2003 government crackdown.

The Ladies in White, dressed in white and carrying flowers, began marching in silence every Sunday in Havana soon after the arrests to demand the release of their family members in protests the Cuban government initially tried to stop, but eventually allowed to continue.

All of the 75 dissidents imprisoned in the crackdown have been released, most of them following a deal between the government and the Catholic Church last year.

(Reporting by Rosa Tania Valdes; writing by Jeff Franks; editing by Todd Eastham)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Showdown averted in New York's Wall Street protests

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 08:54 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Anti-Wall Street protesters claimed victory on Friday when plans to clean the park they occupy were postponed, while police forces in financial capitals around the world braced for a weekend of rallies.

Members of the Occupy Wall Street movement perform yoga and prayer ceremonies in Zuccotti Park near the financial district of New York October 14, 2011. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

A planned cleanup of the Lower Manhattan park that has been home to the Occupy Wall Street movement since Sept. 17 was delayed just hours before it was due to begin by Brookfield Office Properties, which manages the publicly accessible park.

The move averted a possible showdown between police and protesters who viewed the cleanup as a ploy to evict them. Protesters loudly cheered the decision, and several hundred set off marching toward the city's financial district.

Police arrested 14 people, but there were no widespread disruptions.

"This development has emboldened the movement and sent a clear message that the power of the people has prevailed against Wall Street," Occupy Wall Street said in a statement, estimating more than 3,000 people had gathered in Zucotti park.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his weekly radio address on Friday, said his office was not involved in the decision to postpone the cleanup.

"My understanding is that Brookfield got lots of calls from many elected officials threatening them and saying, 'If you don't stop this, we'll make your life much more difficult,'" said Bloomberg, who added that he did not know which officials had called the company.

Protesters are upset that the billions of dollars in U.S. bank bailouts doled out during the recession allowed banks to resume earning huge profits while average Americans got scant relief from high unemployment and job insecurity.

They also argue that the richest 1 percent of Americans do not pay their fair share in taxes.

Many protesters feared the cleaning would be an attempt to shut down the movement that has sparked solidarity protests in other cities.


Bloomberg said Brookfield wanted a few more days to try to reach an agreement with the protesters, who have undertaken their own efforts to clear debris from the park.

Meanwhile, authorities in New York, London, Frankfurt, Athens and elsewhere braced for demonstrations on Saturday.

Rallies were planned in some 71 countries, according to Occupy Together and United for Global Change.

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, in an interview with Canadian national broadcaster CBC, expressed sympathy with the protesters.

"I understand the frustration of many people, particularly in the United States. You've had an increase of inequality," said Carney, a former Goldman Sachs banker, noting "a big increase in the ratio of CEO earnings to workers on the shop floor."

In New York, organizers planned demonstrations in Times Square and Washington Square Park. Protesters will also march to JPMorgan Chase bank branch to withdraw their money.

"Its going to be big, its going to be global," said David Sierra, 23, a carpenter from Queens.

A group of Occupy San Diego protesters scuffled with police on Friday as authorities sought to clear camping equipment, tables, signs and other gear from a downtown public square in the southern California city.

Police used pepper-spray on about a half-dozen protesters.

In Denver, at least 21 people were arrested on Friday and tents were removed from the Occupy Denver protest.

Protesters in New York had spent much of the previous night tidying the park themselves, in hopes of keeping out Brookfield, a major real estate company that counts Bloomberg's girlfriend Diana Taylor among its board members.

"We clean up after ourselves. It's not like there's rats and roaches running around the park," said Bailey Bryant, 28, an employee at a Manhattan bank who visits the camp after work and on weekends.

(Additional reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Ray Sanchez and Bill Berkrot; Editing by Will Dunham and Paul Simao)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Golf-Simpson stays in the title hunt at McGladrey

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 06:04 PM PDT

GEORGIA: Little-known Billy Horschel charged into a two-shot lead in Friday's second round of the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island in Georgia while fellow American Webb Simpson stayed on track for his third victory of the year.

Former Walker Cup amateur Horschel eagled the par-five 15th on the way to a sizzling six-under-par 64, sinking a three-foot birdie putt at the last to post a 12-under total of 128.

In hot pursuit, though, after carding a 67 was Simpson, who has won twice in his last five starts and has a chance to beat British world number one Luke Donald to the PGA tour money title.

"I've played great this year," Simpson told reporters after ending a breezy day at the Seaside Course on 10 under, level with fellow American Michael Thompson (65).

"Hopefully I can make a little dent in the (money list) gap this week."

Simpson trails Donald by $68,971 and both of them are scheduled to compete in next week's season-ending Disney Classic at Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

"It was a really tough day starting out," Simpson said of a round which included four birdies and a lone bogey. "The wind was blowing pretty hard and we had really difficult holes to start.

"But I hung in there ... and made a couple of nice birdies coming in."

South African Louis Oosthuizen, who romped to a seven-stroke victory in last year's British Open, fired a 67 to end the second round at eight under, along with Australian Nick O'Hern who also carded a 67.

The cut fell at one-under 139 with last year's U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland and former major winners Vijay Singh, Stewart Cink, Justin Leonard and David Toms among those failing to advance.

Top Scores

Webb Simpson (U.S.) 63 67 132 Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa) 65 67

Nick O'Hern (Australia) 65 67 134 Johnson Wagner (U.S.) 67 67

Scott McCarron (U.S.) 64 70 135 Jerry Kelly (U.S.) 68 67

Jim Furyk (U.S.) 67 68

Bryce Molder (U.S.) 67 68

Richard Johnson (Sweden) 65 70

Kris Blanks (U.S.) 67 68

Ben Crane (U.S.) 65 70

Jeff Overton (U.S.) 66 69

Angel Cabrera (Argentina) 65 70

Boo Weekley (U.S.) 67 68 136 Ben Curtis (U.S.) 66 70

D.J. Trahan (U.S.) 65 71

Lucas Glover (U.S.) 68 68

Heath Slocum (U.S.) 70 66

Stephen Ames (Canada) 66 70

David Hearn (Canada) 65 71

Jim Herman (U.S.) 67 69

Henrik Stenson (Sweden) 66 70

Kevin Streelman (U.S.) 66 70

Bud Cauley (U.S.) 68 68 137 Troy Merritt (U.S.) 68 69

Sean O'Hair (U.S.) 71 66

Trevor Immelman (South Africa) 66 71

Michael Bradley (U.S.) 68 69

Zack Miller (U.S.) 63 74

Chris Riley (U.S.) 68 69

D.A. Points (U.S.) 70 67

Brian Davis (Britain) 68 69

Matt McQuillan (Canada) 69 68

Colt Knost (U.S.) 66 71

Ben Martin (U.S.) 67 70

Kevin Kisner (U.S.) 70 67 138 Jeff Quinney (U.S.) 68 70

Kyle Stanley (U.S.) 69 69

Cameron Tringale (U.S.) 65 73

Jason Bohn (U.S.) 69 69

Blake Adams (U.S.) 69 69

David Mathis (U.S.) 69 69

Fabian Gomez (Argentina) 68 70

Tim Herron (U.S.) 71 67

Paul Stankowski (U.S.) 66 72

Spencer Levin (U.S.) 67 71

Matt Kuchar (U.S.) 70 68

Robert Allenby (Australia) 70 68

Josh Teater (U.S.) 69 69

Roland Thatcher (U.S.) 69 69

Chris Couch (U.S.) 69 69

Kim Bi-o (South Korea) 67 71

Andres Gonzales (U.S.) 66 72

William McGirt (U.S.) 69 69 139

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Australia's Beale out of World Cup semi-final

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 05:55 PM PDT

AUCKLAND, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Australia fullback Kurtley Beale has failed to prove his fitness and will miss the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand at Eden Park on Sunday.

The 22-year-old aggravated a hamstring injury in the quarter-final victory over South Africa last weekend but was named in the team on Friday on the proviso that he could prove his fitness on Saturday morning.

Beale, one of Australia's most potent attacking threats, failed to appear for the team photo at the Captain's Run session at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday, however, and a team spokesman later confirmed he would not play.

Adam Ashley-Cooper will move from centre to play his 20th test at fullback with big-tackling Anthony Faingaa coming into partner Pat McCabe in midfield and Rob Horne taking a place among the replacements.

France play Wales in the first semi-final at Eden Park on Saturday.

Team: 15-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14-James O'Connor, 13-Anthony Faingaa, 12-Pat McCabe, 11-Digby Ioane, 10-Quade Cooper, 9-Will Genia, 8-Radike Samo, 7-David Pocock, 6-Rocky Elsom, 5-James Horwill (captain), 4-Dan Vickerman, 3-Ben Alexander, 2-Stephen Moore, 1-Sekope Kepu

Replacements: 16-Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17-James Slipper, 18-Rob Simmons, 19-Ben McCalman, 20-Luke Burgess, 21-Berrick Barnes, 22-Rob Horne.

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Donald commits to Disney event with eye on dual money lists

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 05:53 PM PDT

World number one Luke Donald will compete in the PGA Tour's season-ending Disney Classic next week as he aims to become the first player to win the money list title on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Briton added the October 20-23 event in Florida to his schedule on Friday, the deadline for entries to be submitted.

"There was never really a decision to be made, I have a chance of making history," Donald posted on Twitter. "See you all at Disney next week #bringiton."

The 33-year-old Englishman leads Webb Simpson by $68,971 in the PGA Tour standings, though the American is playing in this week's McGladrey Classic in Georgia where he was in contention after the second round.

Simpson has won twice on the U.S. circuit in his last five starts to trim Donald's advantage atop of the money list.

The Disney Classic, the fourth Fall Series event and the final stop of the 2011 PGA Tour season, will be staged on the Magnolia and Palm courses at Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Donald, who has recorded 13 top-10s in 18 appearances on the PGA Tour this season, has not competed at the Disney since 2003 when he missed the cut.

While Donald holds a slim lead over Simpson in the U.S. money list, he enjoys a much more comfortable cushion of just over 1.3 million euros in the European Tour's Race to Dubai.

With 10 events remaining on the 2011 European Tour schedule, Donald heads the standings with U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in second place.

Donald, who clinched his third PGA Tour title at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, also won the European Tour's PGA Championship and Scottish Open this year.

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The Star Online: Business

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Your 10 questions with Dr Yeah Kim Leng

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 05:49 PM PDT

What should we do to enhance the regard for English at management and leadership levels? Marisa Demori, Ipoh

That English is a global language and, in some instances, the required international language in certain fields, is hard to dispute. Leaders and managers may not be imperilled for ignoring it, but they would be missing opportunities or under-performing if they choose to ignore the universal language in an increasingly globalised and connected world.

Fostering recognition and acceptance of the critical importance of a good command of the universal language would be the first step to enhance the regard for English at management and leadership levels. The second step is to encourage participation in national and international conferences, seminars, exhibitions, road shows and meetings, where the ability to communicate in English is both a strategic asset and a competitive tool. The third step would be to encourage managers and leaders to either mount or support efforts to enhance proficiency of the language among their staff or community, especially when this matters to the performance of the individual worker as well as the functioning and the image of the firm and the country.

How do you find personal development in your work? Bulbir Singh, Seremban

It is fulfilling as a large part of personal development and fulfilment is motivated by the challenge to acquire hard and soft skills when exposed to different formal and informal roles and challenges as a researcher, manager, consultant, and director. In economic research, the scope to develop one's interests and capabilities is virtually unlimited, save for the finite time and personal drive.

Having a systematic career development and staff training programme, together with continuous two-way feedback, will be a key requirement for organisations to ensure that every employee takes ownership and pride in his personal development, thereby boosting staff loyalty and talent retention.

Do you think the global economy will ever come out of this mess? Susan Lim, PJ

When the good years seemed to roll on indefinitely, some economists and analysts hailed the end of business cycles. The reality is that "boom and bust" cycles are very much with us. Such cycles have varying causes, but the most prominent has been the frequent occurrences of financial crises.

The epicentre of the current global crisis involves two of the world's three major advanced economies, Europe and the United States, while Japan is confronted not only by post-earthquake and tsunami reconstruction challenges but also a structurally weak economy. Expectations of a quick recovery in these crisis-hit economies therefore have been misplaced, with most prognosis pointing to an uneven and gradual recovery over the next three to five years on average, and five to 10 years or longer for the highly indebted economies within the Euro-zone.

This pessimism, however, is tempered by a shift in global growth pole to Asia, in particular, and the other emerging countries in South America, Africa and the Middle East as well. Sustaining growth, employment and income increases in these economies will have to shift to domestic sources as well as increased trade and investment with each other to offset the reliance on exports to and capital flows from the advanced economies. This is the new landscape for crafting responses at the firm, industry and country level.

What's so exciting about being an economist? Md Arshi, Penang

It was partly accidental and partly a blossoming interest in economics. I started out as a forester after obtaining a forestry degree from a local university. After seven years, I was fortunate to be awarded an overseas scholarship to pursue advanced degrees in business and economics. Upon returning, I joined a leading policy think-tank that launched my career as an economist.

It is a stimulating profession because of the wide-ranging knowledge, theorising and learning about motivation, causes and effects, relationships and behaviour relating to "what makes households, firms, markets, industries and economies tick". The challenge of getting economic analysis, strategy and policy prescriptions right and making better forecasts add to the excitement in the workplace.

Finally, an economist is never bored as there are many avenues to express one's work or viewpoints, such as conferences, seminars, professional meetings, journals, and not forgetting, the media.

Why is the rising household debt level in Malaysia such a big concern? Do you think there is a sub-prime problem of sorts forming here? Naza, Perak

Most financial crises result from too much easy money, over-exuberance and unbridled borrowing by individuals, firms or governments. The concern over the rising household debt level in Malaysia is not so much that it may develop into a US subprime mortgage-like crisis, as they do not share the same characteristics, particularly the lax underwriting standards and the complex credit derivatives that are absent here. It is the increased vulnerabilities to financial distress of those who borrowed excessively.

Hence, an early, pre-emptive flagging of a potential problem will ensure that loan delinquencies are kept well within the day-to-day ability of banks' balance sheets to absorb the losses without the need for capital injection or curtailing lending to other sectors, thus keeping the overall economy in good shape.

Does the Malaysian economy really have such strong fundamentals as reported? Ronald, Banting

It really depends on what fundamentals are referred to, how reliable are the measures and the benchmarking criteria and assumptions used. Since these can be fairly technical, a general guide is to give more weight to the reputation of the reporting institution and the extent to which the findings and interpretations are corroborated by other studies or institutions.

Malaysia's upper middle income status, a high GDP growth averaging 6.0% per year and low annual inflation of 3% over the last three decades as well as its current low unemployment rate of 3.2% would qualify the country as having strong fundamentals compared to many developing countries. However, the underlying fundamentals and the performance so far have not been sufficient for the country to join the ranks of advanced or high income economies.

More generally, strong fundamentals are associated with rapid and sustained increase in country's output or income and full employment with price stability; shift in the economic structure to higher value industries, driven by productivity increases, innovations and technological advancements; good quality infrastructure and skilled work force; sound institutions, policies and macroeconomic management, including the creation of competitive and well-functioning markets, and stable social and political systems that drive and change with the economic transformation.

Key elements shaping these fundamentals include far-sighted policies, strong commitment and implementation capacity, visionary and competent leadership and effective execution at all levels of the economy.

What are the things that Malaysia needs to do urgently to ensure the long-term sustainability of its economy? Melissa Lim, PJ

These are well-articulated in the New Economic Model under the eight Strategic Reform Initiatives. The transformation agenda has correctly placed top priority on private sector-led growth and human capital development to drive the shift to a high-performing, innovation-led economy. Reforms to raise the quality of education must be carried out in a comprehensive and sustained manner. Universities must produce appropriately skilled graduates that meet industry needs as well as drive an innovation and knowledge-based economy.

Policy reforms to unshackle the economy, lower barriers and regulatory burden, and make it more market centric and performance-driven will be needed to push the economy to a higher level of efficiency and competitiveness, thus ensuring long term sustainability.

Who has been the biggest influence on you as a person and economist? Why? Nik Hassan, KL

There is no one particular person but I have been fortunate to interact with and learn from several prominent economists and corporate leaders in the country.

How vulnerable are we to the ongoing debt problems of the euro region? Can we learn anything from this experience? Wong Muin, Penang

Just like the global financial meltdown caused by the US sub-prime mortgage market and its derivatives, the ongoing Euro sovereign debt crisis will impact Malaysia only indirectly through the financial contagion and trade transmission channels, and not so much through direct exposures to the distressed debts.

We have to brace for roller-coaster rides in the stock and currency markets but Malaysia's well-regulated financial system should once again prove its resilience. The lesson is quite obvious: overspending and over-borrowing ultimately leads to a hard landing.

Do you think US President Barack Obama's plan to create jobs can be successful, and why? Ranjit Singh, Malacca

With the economy running close to "stall speed" and unemployment persisting above 9%, a fiscal tightening induced by government spending cuts, end of payroll-tax holiday and expiry of extended unemployment benefits would raise the probability of a recession in 2012 to more than 50%.

US economists estimate that Obama's US$447bil plan would contribute between 0.6% and 1.2% to gross domestic product. It will add slightly more than a quarter million jobs and ease the unemployment rate by 0.2 percentage point in 2012.

Getting it passed without being watered down by Congress and quick implementation will be critical to its success in adding jobs quickly while forestalling the economy from double-dipping.

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Need to keep politics out of Maxis-Aircel deal probe

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 04:48 PM PDT

THE problems that tycoon T Ananda Krishnan's companies are facing in India may well be a reflection of India's political climate now, which has been rocked by a scandal over the awarding of the 2G telecommunications spectrum.

The resolution of the issues facing Maxis Communications Bhd (MCB) and Astro All Asia Networks will be closely watched not just because of the serious allegations being made against Ananda, senior executive Ralph Marshall and the two companies but also as a gauge of the independence of Indian criminal investigation and the courts if it goes to that.

If there is any hint of bias in the investigation and victimisation of a foreign investor, a Malaysian in this case, for nothing else but the fact that he was doing business in India under the best of circumstances a very difficult place to do business in then the ramifications for both India and all who do business there are serious and far-reaching.

Businesses and investors must at all times be assured that they will get a fair deal for all the money that they have put in (MCB's investments in India amount to a huge RM24bil) and that any investigation will be done fairly and quickly and disputes are settled equitably by the courts.

On hindsight, after his experiences in India recently, it certainly looks like Ananda was right in taking his telecommunications operations private in 2007 and subsequently re-listing only the Malaysian operations under Maxis.

With the problems that he is facing in India, including a relentless investigation by the powerful Central Bureau of Investigation into a deal that the now private MCB made to purchase Aircel way back in Dec 2005, he must be thankful he does not face a spread of public shareholders and volatile share prices.

Ananda had also privatised Astro All Asia Networks last year in a deal which valued the company at some RM8.5bil.

Basically, the investigations allege that Indian entrepreneur and former owner of Aircel, C. Sivasankaran, was pressured to sell Aircel to MCB by then telecoms minister Dayanidhi Maran, and that Astro's purchase of a 20% stake in India's Sun TV owned by Maran's brother was quid pro quo for the alleged coercion. Both MCB and Astro, which are majority owned by Ananda's Usaha Tegas, have denied the allegations.

Indian authorities are no doubt keen to show that they are pursuing any trangressions following the 2G spectrum allocation scandal in which the nation could have lost as much as an estimated US$40bil in revenues because of alleged corruption in the award of scores of licences in 2007-2008.

The telecoms minister at that time A Raja was arrested earlier this year while some of India's billionaires including Anil Ambani of the Reliance group and Ratan Tata of the Tata group have been questioned.

The investigations involving MCB dates back to 2-3 years before the 2G spectrum awards in 2007-2008 and is seen by the public almost as an extension of that even though there were different telecoms ministers then.

But, any complaints made now, in the wake of the 2G scandal are likely to receive a lot of public attention and therefore pressure both from the public and politically for a "thorough" investigation and punishment.

However, Indian authorities must not bow to such public, media and political pressure and be overzealous in their investigation for that would be unfair to those being investigated. There should be no tendency towards a witch-hunt and disputes about agreements must not be allowed to become something which is criminal in nature.

In the specific case involving MCB and Astro, the question has to be asked why the complaint to the authorities from Sivasankaran only came soon after he lost arbitration proceedings with MCB and five years after the sale of Aircel.

Also, while the controlling shareholder of both MCB and Astro are the same, both companies also have other strong and different shareholders and boards which are independent of each other.

A conspiracy involving both companies with one company paying for the benefit received for another company may be stretching the facts too far because all relevant parties the shareholders and board members of both companies will have to conspire or all of them have to be deceived for such a deal to go through.

India must not let political expediency rule even though it would be populist to hang a few big guys in the name of the 2G and related scandals. The overiding aim of investigations must be to uncover and punish wrongdoing nothing more and nothing less. The sooner they conclude the investigations the better for all concerned.

For Ananda, Marshall, MCB and Astro, the reality is that whether they like it or not, they are going to face a potentially long and tough investigation. Cooperating with the authorities is of course the right thing.

But, beyond that they need to keep their stakeholders, including the public, appropriately informed at every step, keep their noses to the grindstone and get on with the business.

If they have done nothing wrong, they should be vindicated hopefully not too long from now.

l Managing editor P Gunasegaram is still confused about spectrum, let alone 2, 3 and 4G as a Physics student, he was only dimly aware of it as a band of different colours. G stood for gravity then, not generation.

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The global effect on property

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 04:47 PM PDT

THE signs of the times are here, and they are not unique to Malaysia. The concerns about the global economy are real. Whether one is an avid property watcher or a young person considering a downpayment on one's first home, there are certain things to take into account.

Says property consultant and valuer Elvin Fernandez of the Khong & Jaafar group of companies: "It is clear and becoming clearer by the day that the growth will slow down because it cannot keep up with just continuous stimulus around the world. Whether this state of affairs will continue depends on how sales fare as we complete this year and move into next. It is also clear that volatility will continue into the new year, which explains why developers are revamping their plans and changing strategies."

Analysts have downgraded the property sector or had a negative outlook on it after they noted that average take-up rates of launches by property developers dropped from 80%-90% a year ago to a forecast 50%-65% in the second half of this year.

To understand what is going on in our current property market and to get some pointers about its future direction, we need to look back a little.

When property prices began to inch upwards in the second half of 2009, in the wake of the fall of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, there was cheer all round. But as prices continue to escalate into the first half of 2010 and then the second half, property watchers and buyers began to take note of the ballooning values in the landed property sector. The momentum shifted to high-rise, although to a lesser degree.

In response, developers fast-tracked their launch programmes. Some were quick enough to launch products in the second half of 2010, while many of the rest were able to do so this year.

Housing Buyers Association vice-president Brig-Gen (R) Datuk Goh Seng Toh said: "People bought in anticipation of higher prices later on."

This situation of "buying before price goes up further" is evident not only in the Klang Valley but was especially so on Penang island.

Says Real Estate & Housing Developers' Association (Penang) chairman Datuk Jerry Chan: "Because of land scarcity and worries that prices will go even further, people bought. Why? Because it was anybody's guess what was the ceiling. Is it too much to pay? That was difficult to answer because prices seem to have gone beyond what people expected."

It was this frenzy of buying in selected locations that fed the worries about a bubble, coupled with the easy credit and low interest-rate regime. This double whammy of easy credit and low interest was not just evident in Malaysia. It has also played out in China, Singapore and other countries in the region.

Banking on property

What is interesting is that the United States has gone through this situation a couple of times.

Says Fernandez: "The United States in the 1950s and 1960s were idyllic. After World War II, there was a certain amount of stability but there was this belief that a little inflation will boost the economic engine in exchange for more jobs."

It worked and the US economy flourished. Inflation inched up and as it did so, workers demanded wage increases to keep up with higher prices, companies raised prices to compensate for the rising wages, and it became an upward spiral. Recession was the only thing that can break the cycle, and it came in the mid-1980s.

That, both Fernandez and Chan agrees, is what is happening in the United States and then Europe today. In the 1990s, the then US Fed chief Alan Greenspan also kept interest rates too low for too long, which led to a speculative bubble in real estate.

"We are ignoring the dangers of the twin combination of easy credit-low interest and a speculative property market," warns Fernandez.

The prices of stocks and homes are every bit as vulnerable to inflation as chicken and sawi. He adds: "This notion that one will always make money on property investments is made popular by people who have speculated and gained from such activities, and their success stories are told time and again. We are now seeing in Europe, the United States and previously in Japan, that one can lose with property investment."

He says although the property market has some distinctive factors, like any other market, it still runs on demand and supply and underlying fundamentals. "Because it is a market that has no shorting mechanism, it has a tendecy to rise rather than fall, unless the fundamentals pulling it down are strong," Fernandez points out.

In Malaysia, this enchantment with properties the last two years has intensified because of a lack of alternative investment options, the availability of easy credit and as an hedge against inflation.

The government moves are a factor as well. Last year, the Government announced seven mega development projects to spur the economy. Two of these were mentioned in Budget 2012 the development of government-owned land around Sungai Buloh and the KL International Financial District (KLIFD). Both are expected to take off in the second half of next year. The Government has invited some developers to participate.

The finance sector has also profited from the property boom, with property loans being the main driver of growth for the banking industry, accounting for 40.6% of the overall credit expansion. The residential segment accounted for 27% of total loans. Analysts expect property loans to remain the key driver of credit expansion this year and in the near future. Although there was a slowdown in loan applications for residential mortgages after the implementation of the 70% loan-to-value cap on the third and subsequent house financing, the momentum has picked up again since March.

Making a mark in new


The sovereign debt problems brewing in Europe and the United States can impact consumer sentiment in property purchases, said RAM Ratings head of financial institution ratings Promod Dass. "The fact is, property is a cornerstone of any economy, and there is a property angle in just about any major venture. Even the proposed my rapid transit (MRT) system is known as "a property-and-rail play."

Says Fernandez: "Many of the country's plans are property-dependent. We may not be able to live up to that expectation. It is like a father having too many children, and all of them want to spend his salary."

The demand for property is driven by many factors. In today's prevailing uncertainty, demand is driven by job security, sentiment and affordability, says Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum, managing director and group chief executive of developer Mah Sing Group Bhd.

"We have a relatively young population, which means there will be a demand for starter homes. Whether for landed units or condominiums, the demand for larger units and high-end housing will definitely be slow. So we are changing our strategy," he adds.

"Instead of concentrating on high-end housing, we will do mid- to high-end on fast-turnaround basis. We will launch three to nine months from the day we buy the land. If semi-detached units, it will be RM1.4mil and below. If it is a landed strata, it will be priced lower, and if it is high-rise, the built-up area will be smaller. Our focus will be on affordability.

"The high-end sector will definitely soften in terms of sales in the next 12 month or so. Houses in the RM5mil and above range will be difficult to sell. The same goes for big units. The European crisis may be prolonged but we are hoping for a soft landing."

About two weeks ago, Mah Sing announced that it has purchased 90ha in Rawang. The move to less-prime locations will be another strategy to aid affordability and to overcome land scarcity in the popular areas. The company is the second top developer to recently signal this move to less-prime locations.

SP Setia Bhd is the other; it bought 673 acres in Rinching, located mid-way between Semenyih and the Bangi old town.

As the woes in Europe and United States cast a pall over global economy, what will be ahead for locations around the iconic Petronas Twin Towers in the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, often regarded as the pinnacle of Malaysian property?

Signs of slowing?

Henry Butcher Marketing Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Tang Chee Meng says developers have noted the signs of an imminent slowing of the market. "Developers are today revamping their sizes. They are taking their projects to Singapore, China and Britain to sell. Or they work with banks to provide innovate mortgage packages. Some developers are also having friend-bring-friend commission in order to move sales.

In a buoyant market, this will not happen. The larger units completed a couple of years ago in the KLCC market may continue to remain vacant with pressure on rentals.

"Today, the majority of the sales are from developers, the primary market. In the secondary market, property agents are not getting many calls. The situation with huge leaps in prices is not as serious as last year or in the first half of this year. It is only certain type of properties in selective locations."

"The European woes are weighing on investors. In that sense, the market is correcting itself. Developers may say these external global situations do not impact us. But there are many discerning people out there and they take note of what is going on in the US and in Europe," says Tang.

A real estate agent specialising in properties in Mont'Kiara, another location that is closely watched, says the Sunrise MK28 has reduced its original price of about RM680 to RM700 per sq ft to RM590 to RM600 per sq ft. In Desa ParkCity, where prices of landed units have gone up by as much 300% or even more, the larger units of some of its latest launches are still available.

Comparing prices

About a decade ago, especially when the interest in KLCC-Petronas Twin Towers began, and in tandem with the proliferation of high-end landed and high-rise residentials, developers and property professionals took great pride comparing property prices in Malaysia with regional countries and concluded that the prices of Malaysian properties were far below those of China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. Projects around the Petronas Twin Towers were compared with London's Hyde Park and New York's Central Park. Today, such comparison continues to be made.

Says Fernandez: "This comparison has not stood the test of time. This suggests that our properties are not open to such comparisons and that such comparisons are not an appropriate measure. The drop in prices of between 20% and 25% soon after the 2008 crisis show that the market is mainly driven by our own governing fundamentals.

"The KLCC market, until today, has not rebounded to their original levels. The second point is that location is driven by a large expatriate community, which we do not have."

Which is another sign of the times we are living in today.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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My boyfriend’s a real star

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 02:25 AM PDT

Some China models linked to well-known stars are cashing in on the publicity to increase their fees.

FOR models seeking instant name and face recognition, nothing seems to work as well as dating a star.

Just ask Hannah Quinlivan (the new girl in Mandopop king Jay Chou's life), Vivian Dawson (who is basically Mr Jolin Tsai) or even Mavis Pan (the notorious ex-girlfriend of TVB prince Raymond Lam).

They all have a long way to go, however, before they can rise to the heights of Lynn Hung, the girlfriend of Heavenly King Aaron Kwok who has become a top model in Hong Kong and a television star in Taiwan. Here's a look at models with better-known halves. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Who: Taiwanese model Hannah Quinlivan, 18. A photo was published in August of her and singer Jay Chou, 32, with his arm around her, in France – proof of their romance after six months of rumours circulating – and suddenly, she was hot.

Pre-Jay Chou: Quinlivan, who has an Australian dad and a Korean-Taiwanese mum, was discovered on the Jacky Wu variety show Guess when she was 14 and had chubby cheeks. Although she then joined the cast of the Blackie Chen variety show Blackie's Teenage Club, her career was lacklustre.

Career development: She was given star treatment in Taipei last month at an event for the jewellery house, Qeelin.

She earned NT$150,000 (RM15,000) for the event, NT$30,000 (RM3,000) more than her usual fee, reported China Times.

Last month, she confirmed a report that she had dated Lee Chuan, a Z-list regular from Lollipop, the sister show of Blackie's Teenage Club, when she was 16 and he, 18. But they broke up because her agent disapproved, she said.

Reading between the lines, China Times noted: "In other words, the agency has no objection to her relationship with Jay."

But she may be more interested in being Mrs Jay Chou than becoming a supermodel. At the Qeelin event last month, she was asked when she would be ready for marriage and she answered: "Now is OK."

Who: Chinese model Lynn Hung, 30. She moved to Hong Kong in 2006, the year she was linked to Heavenly King Aaron Kwok, now 45, after they made an advertisement together.

Pre-Aaron Kwok: The Nanjing native was a struggling model in Shanghai.

Career development: Her fee soared 10 times after reports of her relationship with Kwok surfaced, reported Apple Daily.

Although he has never officially acknowledged the romance, she seems to have made the most of her heightened media visibility.

In 2008, she made her acting debut in the film Ip Man, opposite Donnie Yen. This year, she starred in her first television show, Material Queen, opposite Vanness Wu.

Who: Chinese model Mavis Pan, 24, former girlfriend of actor Raymond Lam, 31. Bedroom photos of the couple were splashed in Next Magazine in March, after their break-up: a scandal that left him in tears.

Pre-Raymond Lam: The native of Taizhou, Zhejiang province, was known as "Taizhou's Little Shu Qi" in China but not well-known in Hong Kong and beyond.

Career development: She became famous as well as notorious because of the scandal as she was suspected of leaking the photos to the press. Not that it has hurt her acting career. This year, she was in the Nick Cheung movie Treasure Inn and will be in the Simon Yam film Five-Star General.

Who: New Zealand-born, Taiwan-based model Vivian Dawson, 27. He made his tabloid debut last year as the alleged beau of singer Jolin Tsai, 31.

Pre-Jolin Tsai: His mother is Singaporean. He won Cleo Singapore magazine's 50 Most Eligible Bachelors contest in 2009.

Career development: He has increased his profile – and price – for an appearance since his romance with Tsai, according to China Times. His fee is now a reported NT$100,000 (RM10,000).

Who: China-born, Hong Kong-based model Jenny Xu, 23. She has been lumped with the other Chinese model girlfriends, after reports linked her last year to Hong Kong actor Kevin Cheng.

However, he said she was just a friend. Tabloid talk has it that he suspected she was just using him and soon split up with her.

Who: Chinese model Zhang Xinyu, 24, girlfriend of Hong Kong actor Ron Ng, 32.

She has been tagged as an ambitious attention-seeker after she was seen holding his hand last month in Beijing, in full view of the press. But she is still based in China, although they have been dating for a year.

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Toughening up

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 02:18 AM PDT

South Korean leading actress Ha Ji-won is adapting well to her new status as action star.

STARRING in creature feature Sector 7, billed as South Korea's first 3D actioner (not available in 3D here, though), Ha Ji-won impressed the director so much that he felt that the movie could not be made without an actress like her.

Known as South Korea's Angelina Jolie, Ha's intense performance in Sector 7 (released in August in South Korea) has won her rave reviews from moviegoers in the country who have compared her performance to Sigourney Weaver's in Hollywood science fiction blockbuster Aliens (1986).

Directed by Kim Ji-hoon, Sector 7 also stars Oh Ji-ho, Ahn Sung-ki and Park Cheol-min. The movie depicts how the crew of an oil rig battles a sea monster that has mutated due to a virus.

In Sector 7, Ha plays Cha Hae-jun, a harbour equipment administrator. "The character interested me but I think the movie itself interested me more. When I was reading the script, I wondered if my country could produce this kind (3D) of movie too. Since I like challenges, I'd give priority to action movies."

Born Jeon Hae-rim in Seoul, the 33-year-old, started off her acting career in romantic comedies and is well-known as an actress who puts in a lot of effort doing research in preparation for her roles.

But lately, she has been bitten by the action bug and raised the bar by challenging herself further in her latest movie Sector 7. "I lived on the oil drilling ship in the middle of the ocean. Because it's also about discovery in the sea, I got myself a skin-scuba licence.

"Then, I was so surprised when I heard that there would be a bike riding scene in the movie. But I thought that it would be cool to see an actress riding a motorcycle in the movie, so I got myself a motorcycling license in a week too. Yet, I still thought that it would not be enough, so I watched a lot of bike-tours with my co-actors. I've put a lot of effort into narrowing the gap between myself and the motorcycle.

"There were also many action scenes that used wires. The director had even mistaken me as a stunt-man once, and he shouted at me, saying, 'Ask the stunt-man to get out fast!'"

Apart from getting qualifications in skin-scuba and bike riding, she also underwent an intensive training regime that helped a lot in the interpretation of her character in the movie. "I swam and did weight training for eight hours every day, to improve and train my stamina. I got a lot of help from the other actors to act rough and tough."

"I faced many difficulties at the beginning of the production, such as the emotions and the direction where my eyes should look, especially in scenes with the creature, as it is all up to imagination.

"The other actors felt like I did; the hardest part of the movie was having to fight an imaginary monster, one that we can't see. Although I'd acted in Tsunami At Haeundae (2009), Sector 7 was really tiring. The dialogue recording process was smooth because the director, seniors and crew were all there with us."

Ha felt that her character was very ambitious. "I've heard many people say that a Hollywood actor would be more suited to this sort of character compared to a delicate Asian actress. I hope that people will change their perception after they watch this movie."

With so many action scenes, it is inevitable that Ha sustained her fair share of injuries during production. "I always worry about safety because of many dangerous scenes in the movie. Even with all the preparation and security taken, my body still ached and required chiropractic treatment the day after filming the action scenes. I fell from the motorcycle once, and my hands and legs were injured and I'm still undergoing treatment for that."

But the actress is no stranger to challenging action roles. Her reputation for physically demanding roles grew as she took on difficult movies and trained herself to do advanced aerobics (Sex Is Zero, 2002), Korean martial art Sunmudo (Duelist, 2005), boxing (Miracle On 1st Street, 2007) and all sorts of stunt work for her stuntwoman role in TV series Secret Garden (2010). – Seto Kit Yan

> Sector 7 opens in local cinemas on Oct 20.

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Trailer Park

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 02:04 AM PDT

The Raven

FROM the trailer, it looks like this film, which features John Cusack in the lead role, is not unlike the popular series Castle, starring Nathan Fillion. Except the series is light and this film looks to be enveloped in bleakness – from the subject matter to the time period and the main character.

The Raven is, of course, in reference to Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem. Hence, the film is a fictionalised account of the author's life whereby a killer copies gruesome murders in Poe's books in real life.

Poe (Cusack) is called to help in the investigation when Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans, currently in The Three Musketeers) recognises the pattern of the murders as those in Poe's books.

Director James McTeigue can sell the film easily just on the casting, although Cusack's English accent is non-existent. Apparently, Ewan McGregor was supposed to play Poe ... but, hmmm, Cusack is a better choice, no?

The trailer shows that this might have been a straightforward murder mystery if it weren't for the "Poe" factor. Count us in as nevermore intrigued. The Raven is scheduled to fly into our cinemas on March 9, 2012.

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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Narnia for adults

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 03:22 AM PDT

This sequel to The Magician explores what happens after the thrones of Fillory have been won.

The Magician King
Author: Lev Grossman
Publisher: Viking, 323 pages
ISBN: 9780670022311

BEFORE we go into the review proper, I must warn readers that this is a sequel of which I have not read the first, or original, book.

This is not a usual occurrence for me as, like most regular readers, I like to proceed naturally from book one to two to three.

But two factors made me pick up this book: one, I was quite desperate at that time for some (any!) new reading material and the synopsis appealed to me; and two, I knew Lev Grossman is a book critic for Time magazine, and I wanted to know how good he would be as an author, considering that he has a full-time job criticising (both positively and negatively, I'm sure) other writers.

Anyway, The Magician King is a follow-up to The Magicians, published in 2009.

The one thing that continually ran through my mind while reading this book was how it is mainly set in what is basically a grown-up version of Narnia, called Fillory.

There are the direct counterparts: Ember (the ram) for Aslan (the lion), the Wood Between the Worlds for the Neitherlands, and the magic rings for the magic buttons (used to travel between worlds). And also general characteristics like having four kings and queens who come from another world, talking animals, mythical creatures, and a similar concept of magic.

But while Narnia is acceptable children's literature, Fillory is definitely darker and more real, making it more suitable for adult, or young adult, consumption.

The Magician King picks up a couple of years after the first book, where main protagonist Quentin Coldwater and his friends fought their battles and gained the thrones of Fillory.

Despite achieving his ultimate childhood fantasy, Quentin now finds himself bored, as being a king of Fillory is not as fulfilling as he thought it would be. Because of that, he grabs the excuse to go off on a sea voyage to the Outer Island – which, the friends discover has not been paying its taxes for a couple of years.

There, Quentin and fellow ruler Julia Quinn veer off in search of a mythical key on another island. But once they find it and try to use it, both of them land back in their own world, where they immediately try to find a way back to Fillory.

Those who have read the first book might be happy to know that along the way, the pair also meets up with some old friends. This basically forms the first two parts of the narrative, while the second half of the book revolves around a quest for seven keys that are needed to save Fillory.

An equally important part of the book is Julia's back story after she was rejected by Brakebills – the magical college where Quentin and the others studied in the first book; her discovery that magic is real after the failure of the memory-erasing spell the college cast on her; her desperate determination to learn as much magic as possible anywhere she can find it, and the consequences of that determination.

The narrative switches between her story, which reflects a different, rougher and less regulated system of magic than the one taught by Brakebills, and the main storyline. Fans should pay attention to Julia's story as, I suspect, it will provide the backdrop to the third (and probably final) story that Grossman is currently planning.

So, did I find it a good read? Suffice to say that I intend to pick up The Magician soon to flesh out all the quick summaries I got from this sequel about what happened before.

I enjoyed the writing, which is occasionally self-mocking and sarcastic, and is scattered with many pop culture references. The switch between the two narratives is also well done, and gives a good sense of what the characters are going through.

I don't think those who read the first book will be disappointed, although I must say I think that the vibe of this book is somewhat different.

If The Magician is about discovering that magic and a world like Fillory is real, then this book, as mentioned by Grossman in an interview for Kepler's Books' blog, is inspired by the thought of what would have happened if the Pevensies had not investigated the lamppost at the end of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

So, if you have ever desperately wished that the back of your cupboard could lead some place else, or that magic really exists, I would definitely recommend this book (and probably the first one, too).

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Comics are cool

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 03:13 AM PDT

COMIC shop Earth 638 is having an "open house" event called Comics Are Cool (4pm onwards) on Oct 29 at its premises at Kelana Mall in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Prominent comic publishers, creative talents and artists from the homegrown scene like Tan Eng Huat, Alan Quah, Sheldon Goh, Lefty Kam, alongside Gilamon Studios and Pekomik's finest will be part of the independently organised event.

Activities include book signings, meet-the-fans, live sketching and basically, a networking session to get to know the good people in the local comics scene. Loads of merchandise and local/ mainstream comics on sale.

For more info, call 03-78048380, email: (earth638@yahoo.com). Earth 638 is located at 2nd Floor, Kelana Mall, Jalan SS6/12, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Browse: (earth638comics.blogspot.com).

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Making sense of data explosion

Posted: 13 Oct 2011 08:24 PM PDT

Drinking From The Fire Hose

Author: Christopher J. Frank and Paul Magnone

Publisher: Portfolio, 215 pages

WITH the world moving at such a fast pace, data explosion has become a bit overwhelming for many people. Today, everything is tracked, measured, compared and analysed. Where does it end?

The authors show that the challenge lies not in how much data you can generate, but how much you can get out from it.

How do you transform figures into useful information? How do you convey your results for maximum impact?

Numerous case studies of iconic brands (for instance, American Express, IBM, Microsoft and Starbucks) illustrate the principles raised in this book.

Lost And Found

Author: Geneen Roth

Publisher: Viking, 205 pages

THERE was a silver lining in store for Geneen Roth when she lost her life savings during the financial turbulence. The shock prompted her to examine her priorities and explore how her unconscious choices – binge shopping, using money as a substitute for love, and "treating" herself in ways that fell short of expectations – almost led to her demise.

Roth relates her experiences and hard-won wisdom in this book and offers strategies for supporting and sustaining our lives with the resources we have at hand.

Apprenticed To Spirit

Author: David Spangler

Publisher: Riverhead Books, 295 pages

HE dropped out of college to follow an inner spiritual calling. This presence (the author named it John) became his colleague and mentor. He trailed the presence for the next three decades, learning the ways of the spiritual world. It was his guide to understanding the sacredness within us and the nature of the human spirit.

This book charts the highlights of David Spangler's journey and serves as a manual for those who want to lead enlightened lives.

The Method Method

Author: Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry

Publisher: Portfolio, 244 pages

CHILDHOOD friends Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry wanted to start a business with a difference – they planned to produce cleaning products in pretty packages. And what if these products not only worked well but also smelled nice and were eco-friendly, too?

They started out by selling surface cleaner out of the trunk of their car and the company soon began to thrive.

At the heart of its success lies seven principles, including quick action, inspiring advocates and touching the hearts of consumers.

A-Z Guide To The Hadith

Author: Mokhtar Stork

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish, 564 pages

THIS book is for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of Prophet Muhammad, whether he's a student of Islam, a Muslim convert or simply someone interested in the culture, religion and life of the prophet.

Structured alphabetically for easy reference, it cites the sayings of the prophet on numerous subjects and provides an insight to the Quran. A detailed explanation of different aspects of the Islamic culture is included.

You Losing Weight

Author: Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz

Publisher: Free Press, 115 pages

DON'T expect to be able to cheat when it comes to weight loss. There are no shortcuts. But you can diet smart, not hard, and in this book, the authors share 99 tips and strategies for getting your body into shape.

They also share with readers why crash dieting cannot work for long and what lifestyle changes you can make to become healthier.

Packed with food plans, shopping lists and advice on weight loss, this guide promises to help you shed and keep those pounds off for good.

I'm Just Sayin'!

Author: Kim Zimmer with Laura Morton

Publisher: New American Library, 301 pages

SHE has taken on the role of a cancer survivor, a loving mother, a Civil War belle, a time traveller, a manic-depressive and an Amish woman on the long-running television drama, Guiding Light.

This candid memoir by an Emmy-award winner and icon of daytime television is packed with photographs and insider stories. It provides an insight into the parallel lives of Zimmer and her fictional character, Reva Shayne, and includes anecdotes of what really happens off-screen.

The Big Enough Company

Author: Adelaide Lancaster and Amy Abrams

Publisher: Portfolio, 262 pages

ENTREPRENEURS start their own businesses thinking that it will give them freedom to work on their own terms, be their own boss and be able to tailor the company to meet their needs.

However, many of them find that this is easier said than done.

This guide explores how to grow an enterprise that is not only successful but also can sustain the owner's goals.

It includes information gleaned from interviews with more than 100 women business owners and strives to empower entrepreneurs to not buckle under peer pressure and take charge of the business the way they want to.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Keng Yaik to miss Gerakan conference due to illness

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 08:15 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Gerakan president Tun Dr Lim keng Yaik is going to give the party's National Delegates Conference (NDC) this weekend a miss as he has been hospitalised due to an illness.

Contacted by Bernama, Dr Lim, who headed the party for 28 years before stepping down in April 2007, said he will not be chairing the Gerakan Life Members Council (LMC) meeting on Saturday or attend the opening ceremony of the NDC by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Sunday.

"I'm still in the hospital. I have been here since last week. Most likely the party president (Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon) will chair the LMC meeting," he said.

Dr Lim become LMC chairman after resigning as party adviser in October 2010.

This will be the second time he will be missing the Gerakan NDC since stepping down as party president. The first time was Gerakan annual conference in September 2007 as he just undergone a minor surgery. BERNAMA

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Cambodia stops its citizens from working as maids in Malaysia

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 07:43 AM PDT

PHNOM PENH (Reuters): Cambodia has banned its citizens from going to work in Malaysia as maids, its prime minister said on Friday, following a series of horrific reports of beatings and rapes.

The order follows a similar ban imposed by Indonesia on its citizens from taking new jobs as domestic workers in Malaysia, where maids are common in middle class households, thanks in part to a large migrant labour pool.

"I would like to congratulate the prime minister for the suspension," Cambodia opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua of the Sam Rainsy Party told Reuters after the decision by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Cambodia's Community Legal Education Center, which is working with abused domestic workers, said there had been reports of three maids who were killed in Malaysia, and two were raped and kept in isolation, their passports held from them.

An Bunhak, president of the Association of Cambodian Recruiting Agencies, said it would uphold the order from the government to stop sending people to work as maids in Malaysia.

More in The Star on Saturday

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Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah of Kedah is the next King (Update)

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 06:50 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, will serve as the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong for five years from Dec 13, becoming the only ruler to serve as the King for a second time.

The special meeting of the Conference of Rulers, which elected Sultan Abdul Halim, 83, also elected the Sultan of Kelantan, Sultan Muhammad V, as the next Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong, said a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office.

The Kedah ruler had served as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong from Sept 21, 1970 to Sept 20, 1975.

Sultan Abdul Halim, who is now Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong, will succeed Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, the Sultan of Terengganu who completes his term of office in December.

Sultan Abdul Halim, born on Nov 28, 1927, at Istana Anak Bukit in Alor Setar, ascended the Kedah throne on July 14, 1958, following the death of his father, Sultan Badlishah.

He graduated from Wadham College, University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom, with a degree in social science and public administration. He joined the Kedah Civil Service in the 1950s.

Meanwhile, 42-year-old Sultan Muhammad V was proclaimed the 29th Sultan of Kelantan on Sept 13 last year.

The sultan, who is chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, was born in Kota Baru on Oct 6, 1969. BERNAMA

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