Khamis, 27 Oktober 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Charlie Sheen brings his 'Anger Management' to FX

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 06:41 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES, (Reuters): Actor Charlie Sheen, fired from his previous role on TV's "Two and a Half Men," will return to television in summer 2012, in his new "Anger Management" on FX, the network announced on Thursday.

The new sitcom, which had been previously announced but had yet to find a network, sees Sheen playing an anger management therapist who causes chaos in his patients' lives by using unconventional methods, the network said in a statement.

The new show is the latest in Sheen's bid to turn over a new leaf in his career after a turbulent year.

He was TV's highest-paid actor for his role as womanizing bachelor Charlie Harper in the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men," but was fired after a public dispute with the show and network executives at CBS, during which he lashed out at show creator Chuck Lorre. He was replaced by actor Ashton Kutcher.

Sheen ranted against his old employers and posted videos on the Web in which he bragged about his "winning" ways and the "tiger blood" he had running through in his veins.

All of that came after a year in which he found himself in legal trouble and in rehab for drug and alcohol use.

More recently, the star has seemed contrite. He settled a lawsuit with the "Two and a Half Men" producers, and appeared on TV talk shows admitting he was out of control. took to the stage at the Emmys - TV's highest awards - and said to the "Men" cast and crew, "From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best for the upcoming season."

"Anger Management," in which Sheen retains a significant ownership stake, is loosely based on the 2003 film of the same name starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. FX has ordered 10 episodes, and production will begin in early 2012.

"We think that Bruce Helford, Joe Roth and Charlie Sheen have come up with a wonderful, hilarious vehicle for Charlie's acting talents, and a character we are very much looking forward to seeing him play," said John Landgraf, President and general manager of FX Networks, in a statement.

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Labour of love from Jason Scott Lee

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 09:10 PM PDT

Earthy Jason Scott Lee is willing to take risks to live life on his terms.

Mention Jason Scott Lee and the first image that comes to mind is of him portraying martial artist Bruce Lee in the 1993 film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. Undoubtedly, it was Lee's entry point to stardom – he became a household name on a global scale thanks to Dragon.

While the film provided him with a big shift in terms of his career as it allowed him to understand better both his acting and physical skills, it also made him aware of other things within the industry – like Hollywood wanting to shackle him to the role of an action star, banking on his first success and making him their cash cow.

Well, Lee was having none of that.

He wanted to grow, not only as an actor but as a person. This ultimately meant having to say no to lucrative projects. Forging his own path, he took on roles that challenged him on different levels, and not just physically.

This decision led the Hawaiian to take on roles in a few inspiring films and portraying a number of different nationalities such as an Eskimo in Map Of The Human Heart, a native of Chile in Rapa Nui and an Indian in The Jungle Book.

Currently, he is looking at an adaptation of Tenzing Norgay's story – playing the Nepalese Sherpa who went up Mount Everest with Edmund Hillary in 1953.

On the subject of his breakthrough Dragon, Lee also learned martial arts for the role. To play the part, Lee trained in Jeet Kune Do with Jerry Poteet, a student of Bruce Lee. This, in turn, introduced him to one of martial arts' philosophies.

"One of the (elements of) evolution of a martial artist is, once there is nothing more the teacher can teach, you must leave the nest and continue (learning) by observing nature, which is your greatest teacher," he says this in an interview at Putrajaya, having just come out of the jungles of Malaysia after filming Malaysian Journey: Hutan for the National Geographic Channel.

Thinking about what he can learn from nature, his train of thought took him to the big question of how he wants to live his life.

As an artiste he has always looked for a sense of freedom in expression and an infinite (creative) canvas that's perpetually challenging him.

Wanting to apply the same principle to his life, he began exploring the option of living a self-sustainable way of life.

This basically means working the land with his own two hands to raise food to feed his family. So some 15 years ago, he bought a 22ha plot of land in Hawaii, named it Pu Mu ("simplicity" and "nothingness" in Hawaiian) and started farming.

He chuckles when asked what it's like to eat the food he grows.

"I think I have a greater appreciation of food," reveals Lee, who has a 15-month-old daughter with his Singaporean wife.

His laugh naturally highlights the crow's feet on his tanned face – as if to prove further that he does spend a lot of time outdoors.

Although the 45-year-old comes off relaxed in person and very gracious, he carries himself with a seriousness at all times. It's almost as if he is thinking of something poignant 24/7 – erm, something like "by working the land and taking care of the plants it's sort of like I am nurturing life."

Lee can sure get into the deep stuff in conversation.

"That's a big part of being a martial artist. You learn these skills for fighting and the more highly developed you become as a martial artist, the easier it is to take a life. Once you realise that, and you know that's not the path you want to go on, you want to be on the path to nurture life, to give life.

"In essence, your being, your quality of life becomes richer because you have this everyday effort and activity that is nurturing life. Understanding that enhances everything that is around you. And you end up wanting to take care of all the things that have no voice, like the forest and the animals in it – things that have no one to stand up for them and are slowly being pushed out."

With the intent of wanting to take care of the land, Lee plants his food – making sure he doesn't use anything harmful to nature – and reforests deforested land next to Pu Mu.

He talks extensively about the crucial relationship between the predator and prey that exists even at the insect level, and how taking out even one species – no matter how small – from the environment will disrupt the entire agricultural ecosystem.

"We have to learn to put nature first before our own consumption. That's the big education policy that I advocate," he says.

Lee's aptitude for nature began at a very young age thanks to his father who used to take his daughter and three sons with him to spend time outdoors.

Working as a supervisor and later an engineer for a telephone company, the half-Hawaiian and half-Chinese dad would take one child per outing on a borrowed boat to go fishing or crabbing.

"He stepped up to deep-sea fishing when I was very young, I couldn't handle the ocean back then but now I go out fishing all the time. So I am sort of reliving that experience," recalls Lee.

At one point during the interview, Lee admits that he probably inherited his steadfast personality from his father, whom he describes as "very staunch and old school."

That ingrained quality came in handy especially when he wanted to grow his own produce.

Having no idea about farming, he turned to a friend from the Amish community to find out how his people grow food and take care of livestock.

A few tips here and there took him to Japan to visit Masanobu Fukuoka, a sensei of natural farming. At this farm, Lee worked for three months observing, working and interacting with fellow farmers.

"We worked from 8am to 5pm every day, six days a week. We had Sundays off, and one hour for lunch. That gave me a strong foundation to his technique on how to grow organically. I went home and applied that method, modifying it where needed because of the different soil and climate – learning by trial and error.

"When I met him, he said: 'So, you like this lifestyle?' And I said yeah. He said, 'I only have one piece of advice for you,' and he was 88 years old at that time. He said, 'If you want to go down this path, don't give up. It may seem simple but it's not easy.'

"And I finally understand what he meant. Because every year when I start on the work, I want to give up; it's ridiculously hard. But every year I stick to it and I realise that it starts to build character. And I continue to explore and there is so much more to learn. So it's like a giant encyclopaedia that's unfolding."

While his farm keeps him busy all year long, Lee remains active in the entertainment industry – he recently had a stint in Hawaii Five-0 and from time to time does projects that make a difference (like working with National Geographic Channel and education programmes with the state department in Hawaii).

But when questioned whether he misses the pampered "movie star" life, he says, "No. I really don't. That's the scary thing."

He adds: "I have always done things that inspire me. Farming was frowned upon because I was at a certain status in society. Now, looking back, I'd say it has always been there.

"When I was growing up, we had a garden. My father would take us so far into the sea that I couldn't even see the island. We went camping, had barbeques at the beach. Those were the happiest times – when you didn't look at the clock, and enjoyed the company of your family. I thought if I could reinvent my life I would like it to be of that; that would be my greatest art."

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Son of the soil

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Son of the soil

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 06:41 PM PDT

Leading a self-sustainable lifestyle on his farm in Hawaii for the past 15 years ensures actor Jason Scott Lee is kept busy working the land all year long. But once in a while, – when a worthy project turns up, Lee still takes time to get back into showbiz. In 2007, he took viewers on a cultural experience on the Malaysian way of life in the first instalment of Malaysian Journey. In that one-hour National Geographic documentary, he went hunting with the people of Semelai in Pahang, lived with fishermen on the Langkawi archipelago and shared good times with the Rungus tribe in Sabah.

He followed that up with another documentary titled Living Pono With Jason Scott Lee, which showcased his farm in Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The most recent gig that captured his attention was hosting a second instalment of the documentary Malaysian Journey, this time titled Hutan. For this one-hour documentary – tentatively scheduled for airing in the first quarter of 2012 – Lee visited Malaysia's rainforest regions including Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, Taman Negara National Park, Tasik Kenyir, Gunung Mulu National Park and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

When we met at Putrajaya in September, he had just completed a non-stop 15-day shoot to cover the abovementioned areas.

"I had no idea about the rainforests in Malaysia when I said yes," says Lee. "All I knew was Borneo because I have a friend in the film business from Malaysia (a dancer by the name of GTO), and I was like where is that? So I finally got introduced to his country."

The first time he landed the hosting gig, it happened by chance. He was in Singapore filming Dance Of The Dragon when a producer friend asked if he'd be interested in doing it.

"I hadn't been to Malaysia at that point and I was excited to see a place I've never seen before."

The first documentary was a big hit not only with Malaysians but also internationally. "They told me it did well and they wanted to do one more. So it started as a fluke of an opportunity, now I have to talk to the press about it," he explains with a smile.

Going out in a small crew, everything is kept on a flexible schedule with no script.

"I really try to reserve my reaction on camera so it can be a narrative on camera. I think that helps to bring the viewers into what I am feeling while it's happening. It's a good format for storytelling."

In this journey, Lee may not have learned anything that he can use on the farm except for the little trick of which tapioca leaf to eat from the Orang Batek. But he took note of the kind of tools the people he met in this trip use – learning about the wood they use to make boats and how the resources they use are connected to the culture of the people.

"When you maintain the forest, you maintain the culture. That's the philosophy we have where I come from ... take care of the land and the land will take care of you, not only your health and well-being, but also the culture." Mumtaj Begum

Malaysian Journey: Hutan is scheduled to air early next year on the National Geographic Channel.

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Toiling Tiger's winless run closes in on two-year mark

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 05:09 PM PDT

Oct 27 (Reuters) - With the two-year anniversary of his last tournament win fast approaching, Tiger Woods is preparing for next month's Australian Open amid growing doubts over whether he can ever regain his former dominance.

His world ranking has slipped to a mind-boggling 55th and golfing greats Nick Faldo and Greg Norman have both said that Woods is incapable of adding further major titles to his career haul of 14.

Woods himself bristles at such notions and, as the greatest player of his generation and arguably of all time, he can point to previous achievements as a guide to the likely way forward.

"I've heard that before," a steely-eyed Woods said earlier this month of the comments made by Faldo and Norman. "It's not the first time I've heard that. And I've kept on winning them, too."

However, time is beginning to run out for the former world number one who will celebrate his 36th birthday in December and has already undergone four surgeries on his left knee.

Ever since Woods's world was seismically shifted by lurid details of his marital infidelities at the end of 2009, he has struggled on and off the course.

His marriage disintegrated, he battled injuries to his left knee ligaments and Achilles tendon earlier this year and has been working through the fourth swing change of his career.

A combination of injuries and poor form severely curtailed his 2011 PGA Tour campaign and he ended up a lowly 128th in the money list with earnings of $660,238 from just nine starts.

After failing to qualify for the lucrative FedExCup playoffs, Woods was urged by U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples to try and play himself into form ahead of the Nov. 17-20 tournament in Melbourne.

Consequently, Woods added the Open in California to his schedule, his first appearance in one of the PGA Tour's Fall Series events which generally attract only the journeymen on the circuit and players striving to retain their cards.

Woods finished in a tie for 30th at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin but he was greatly encouraged after shooting three-under-par 68s in his last three rounds.


"I got better every day," the 71-times PGA Tour winner told reporters after competing in his first PGA Tour event in almost two months. "Unfortunately, there were a couple of times where I kind of didn't get the momentum going when I had a couple of chances to make putts or I hit a bad shot.

"I felt very comfortable, and I just need to keep staying the course. The game's coming."

Woods played with his good friend Arjun Atwal in the final round at CordeValle and the Indian marvelled at the American's form, especially with the driver, as he birdied four of the first six holes.

"He is very close, very close to his best," Atwal told Reuters. "It's just a matter of Tiger playing a few more competitive rounds and everything else will be sorted out.

"His driving was so much better than it was when he was winning all those tournaments with Hank," Atwal added, referring to Woods's former swing coach Hank Haney.

"Even his (fairway) misses were only just off line. Tiger's still flying the ball 310 (yards) off the tee but his shots aren't off the map any more. And that old sound on impact is back."

Atwal and Woods are neighbours in Windermere, Florida, where they regularly play practice rounds together.

Injuries are no longer a problem for Woods, who says he has regained strength and the "explosiveness" back in his left leg since being sidelined for three months earlier this year.

His other main problem, lack of competition, is slowly being corrected and his next event will be the Nov. 10-13 Australian Open before he represents his country the following week at the Presidents Cup.

Woods has not triumphed anywhere since Nov. 15 2009 when he clinched the Australian Masters.

If he continues the encouraging progress he made at CordeValle, he could complete a tortuous journey somewhat fittingly on Australian soil by ending a two-year wait to get back into the winner's circle.

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Aussie shoots flawless round to take a one-shot lead

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 04:33 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Australian Robert Allenby got off to a superb start in the US$6.1mil CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia by firing an eight-under 63 to set the pace in the first round at the Mines Resort and Golf Club.

Allenby, who was terrorised by a monkey while practising on the 10th hole earlier this week, had no such problems yesterday.

In fact, it was smooth sailing for the 40-year-old as he signed off with a flawless card to lead the 48-man field by one shot.

US PGA Tour rookie Jhonattan Vegas was second with a seven-under 64 while Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden was third with a six-under 65.

Allenby, ranked 63rd in the world, was one of the early finishers and he was delighted with his eight birdies and blemish-free start.

The 63 is Allenby's best round since he fired a final-round five-under 65 at the AT&T National in July.

And Allenby is looking for his first win since December of 2009 – when he won back-to-back titles at the Nedbank Challenge and the Australian PGA Championship.

"I made a lot of nice putts and hit the ball really well all day," said Allenby.

"I had just one wayward tee shot at the last but I made a good par save after that. Overall, I'm very happy with my golf. I've been playing well for a while but I just have not really put the scores on the board.

"To have a bogey-free round and to shoot eight-under here is a great score."

Allenby also said that he felt comfortable on the course.

"It sets up really well for me. There are holes where you can drive the ball long and straight but there are also a lot of holes where you have to have good iron play.

"My iron play was solid today.

"My putting has been letting me down of late but I'm working hard on it.

"I'm starting to make some putts and hope that's how it stays for the rest of the tournament," said Allenby, who finished fifth in last year's inaugural Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia.

Vegas, who won the Bob Hope Classic this year in his rookie season, stayed in touch with Allenby with a magnificent finish – where he birdied his last four holes.

"I had a really good round. Hopefully I can keep that going for the next three days and hold the trophy on Sunday," he said.

"I hit the ball beautifully. I kept hitting the fairways and the greens, made some good putts and finished with four birdies in a row, which was a nice way to end the round.

"Winning earlier in the year was like a dream come true.

"I feel like I'm starting to play well again like how I did earlier in the year, which is nice."

Defending champion Ben Crane of the United States was tied on 19th spot with a two-under 69 while Bangladesh's Siddikur Rahman and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee managed similar 68s to be the best Asian finishers.

First round scores

63: Robert Allenby (Aus);

64: Jhonattan Vegas (Ven);

65: Fredrik Jacobson (Swe);

66: Cameron Tringale (US), Jimmy Walker (US), Bo Van Pelt (US);

67: Scott Stallings (US), Stewart Cink (US), John Senden (US), Jeff Overton (US), Mark Wilson (US);

68: Brendon De Jonge (Zim), Tommy Gainey (US), Rory Sabbatini (Rsa), Carl Pettersson (Swe), Kyle Stanley (US), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Siddikur Rahman (Ban);

69: Charley Hoffman (US), Ben Crane (US), Jerry Kelly (US), Ricky Barnes (US), Camilo Villegas (Col), Jonathan Byrd (US), Milkha Jeev Singh (Ind), Chez Reavie (US);

70: Chinnarat Phadungsil (Tha), Spencer Levin (US), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Jason Dufner (US), Tetsuji Hiratsuka (Jpn);

71: Jbe Kruger (Rsa), Ryan Palmer (US), D.A. Points (US), Chris Kirk (US), Lucas Glover (US), Brian Davis (Eng), Ryan Moore (US), Danny Chia (Mas), Brandt Snedeker (US);

72: Stuart Appleby (Aus), Shaaban Hussin (Mas), Chan Yih-shin (Tpe), Vijay Singh (Fij);

73: Angel Cabrera (Arg), David Gleeson (Aus);

74: Brendan Steele (US);

75: S.S.P. Chowrasia (Ind).


8.00am: S.S.P. Chowrasia, Brendan Steele;

8.10am: Angel Cabrera, David Gleeson;

8.20am: Chan Yih-shin, Vijay Singh;

8.30am: Stuart Appleby, Shaaban Hussin;

8.40am: Danny Chia, Brandt Snedeker;

8.50am: Ryan Moore, Brian Davis;

9.00am: Lucas Glover, Chris Kirk;

9.10am: Ryan Palmer, D.A. Points;

9.20am: Tetsuji Hiratsuka, Jbe Kruger;

9.30am: Jason Dufner, Kiradech Aphibarnrat;

9.40am: Chinnarat Phadungsil, Spencer Levin;

9.50am: Chez Reavie, Jeev Milkha Singh;

10.00am: Jonathan Byrd, Camilo Villegas;

10.10am: Ricky Barnes, Jerry Kelly;

10.20am: Ben Crane, Charley Hoffman;

10.30am: Siddikur Rahman, Thongchai Jaidee;

10.40am: Kyle Stanley, Rory Sabbatini;

10.50am: Carl Pettersson, Brendon De Jonge;

11.00am: John Senden, Tommy Gainey;

11.10am: Mark Wilson, Jeff Overton;

11.20am: Stewart Cink, Scott Stallings;

11.30am: Jimmy Walker, Bo Van Pelt;

11.40am: Fredrik Jacobson, Cameron Tringale;

11.50am: Robert Allenby, Jhonattan Vegas.

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Malaysia target team title in world junior tourney

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 04:31 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia go into the World Junior Badminton Championships, which begin in Taiwan today, hoping to make history by capturing the team title for the first time.

Malaysia, who are led by top singles ace Zulfadli Zulkifli, have been given top billing in the absence of China.

Malaysia should have no problem topping Group W1, which also comprises Hong Kong and the United States, to set up a possible last eight clash with Denmark.

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching and training chairman Ng Chin Chai believes it's time Malaysia won their first team title at the world junior event.

"We have a better chance in the absence of China, who have withdrawn from this tournament. At the Asian Junior team event in July (in Lucknow), we lost to China in the final," said Chin Chai.

"Our goal is to win the team title for the first time. We have a balanced team. We finished third after beating Indonesia in the bronze medal playoff last year ... we hope to do much better this time.

"South Korea are possibly our biggest threat. They did not play at the Asian junior meet in India and we do not really know their strength. Denmark could be tricky too as they are led by world junior champion Viktor Axelsen."

The individual event will begin on Nov 1 and Chin Chai is hoping that Malaysia will continue to keep up with their good tradition in the doubles event.

Last year, Malaysia won the boys' doubles title through Ow Yao Han-Yew Hong Kheng, who defeated compatriots Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Teo Ee Yi in the final.

Nelson-Ee Yi will be seeking to go one better this time, especially after failing to bag the boys' doubles title in Lucknow.

"The boys are on the right track. We are hoping that our girls' doubles players will also get on the podium," said Chin Chai.

Malaysia will have three girls' pairs – Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean, Sonia Cheah-Yang Li Lian and Shevon Lai Jemie-Joyce Choong Wai Chi.

Of the three, Mei Kuan-Meng Yean look to have the best chance to go far.

Chin Chai said that KLRC's Zulfadli would have a tough task to become the country's first world junior singles champion as Axelsen is the hot favourite to retain the title.

The Squad

Boys' singles: Zulfadli Zulkifli, Goh Giap Chin, Soong Joo Ven, Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub.

Boys' doubles: Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Teo Ee Yi, Low Juan Shen-Sant Enos, Tai An Khang-Calvin Ong Jia Hong.

Girls' singles: Sonia Cheah, Yang Li Lian, Lim Yin Fun, Lim Chiew Sien.

Girls' doubles: Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean, Sonia Cheah-Yang Li Lian and Shevon Lai Jemie-Joyce Choong Wai Chi.

Mixed doubles: Nelson Heg-Chow Mei Kuan, Tai An Khang-Shevon Lai Jemie, Calvin Ong Jia Hong-Lee Meng Yean, Sant Enos-Joyce Choong Wai Chi.

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YTL Comms is the frontrunner for the RM1.5bil 1Bestarinet to wire up schools

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 04:54 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: YTL Communications Sdn Bhd (YTL Comms) is the frontrunner for the RM1.5bil 1Bestarinet project that involves wiring up schools in the country, sources said.

YTL Comms may have edged out 18 other players, including a joint bid by Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) and Time dotCom Bhd (TDC) for the 1Bestarinet tender. The project involves providing Internet access and a virtual learning (VLM) platform for 9,924 schools in the country from January.

Sources said on Tuesday at about 1pm the YTL Comms' name appeared as the winner of the contract on the Education Ministry's website but two hours later the announcement was taken off the website for reasons unknown.

A proof of concept is required before YTL Comms can embark on the first phase by rolling out access to at least 7,000 schools by Jan 1, 2012. Sources said the success rate of the proof of concept would be the determinant to the company bagging the contract or else another party will be chosen.

The contract is for a five-year period, with an option to extend for another five plus five years, totalling 15 years, and this would include installation, maintenance and provision of a VLM.

Some have expressed surprise that YTL was the frontrunner.

Said an industry player: "If indeed they are the winner, it is shocking as they are an unproven service provider. They also do not have fibre so how are they going to offer the services?"

The industry player also pointed out that the tender specifications for 1Bestarinet seemed vague and cautioned that he hoped the project would not suffer the same problems faced by a similar project in the past called Schoolnet.

1Bestarinet came about as a result of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit national key economic area lab series as there is a need to provide Internet access to all schools in the country since the earlier project to wire up schools, Schoolnet, did not meet the objectives set.

For 1Bestarinet, the Internet speed has to be constant and cannot be based on "best effort.'' For urban areas, the access speed is 2Mbps to 10Mbps, and for rural and remote schools 1Mbps to 4Mbps.

All sorts of technologies can be used, be it fibre or wireless technologies including Vsat, wireless, WiFi, but the link to the school should be via fibre. The winner will only be paid based on how much access is provided, the source said.

Schoolnet was introduced in 2004 to wire up schools using wireless or fibre technology but it had major constraints and did not live up to expectations in terms of speed and capacity, and also due to the lack of specifications and integration.

In May, the Education Ministry called for a tender bid for the wiring up of all schools under the 1Bestarinet project.

In the tender's posting it was clearly stipulated that the tender was open to all local companies with preference given to bumiputra tender bids registered with the Finance Ministry under some codes stipulated.

This 1Bestarinet tender bid was opened on May 5, saw 80 companies collecting the tender documents but at its closing on May 31, only 19 companies submitted their bids.

Ironically, YTL Comms, TM and TDC had initially wanted to put in a joint bid but at the last minute the parties could not agree on terms and YTL Comms put in its own bid while TM and TDC submitted a joint bid.

StarBiz reported on Aug 31 that six companies were shortlisted. They were YTL Comms, TM/TDC, Celcom Axiata Bhd, Jaring Communications, Maxis Bhd, and Multimedia Synergy Corp.

Though the Government is looking at RM4.5bil as the absolute sum for the 15-year contract, those in the know claimed the bids received ranged from RM2bil to RM6bil.

At RM4.5bil, it works out to RM1.5bil for every five years or RM300mil for each year.

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Motorola Mobility revenue misses, net loss narrows

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 04:50 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc's third-quarter revenue rose at a slower pace than Wall Street estimates as it shipped fewer smartphones than expected.

Motorola, which has agreed to be bought by Google Inc , said it sold 4.8 million smartphones in the quarter, compared with the average forecast of 4.96 million by five analysts contacted by Reuters.

Morgan Keegan analyst Tavis McCourt said Motorola's slight shortfall on revenue and phone shipment volumes was likely due to a pullback on marketing.

"They're getting acquired so they spent less on advertising and (therefore) sold slightly less phones," said McCourt.

Motorola's selling, general and administrative expenses fell to $426 million from $456 million in the year-ago quarter.

But since Google has already agreed to pay $12.5 billion, or $40 per share, to buy Motorola Mobility, investors focused on the deal rather than financial performance, analysts said.

Chief Executive Sanjay Jha said in a statement that the company still hopes to complete the Google deal in late 2011 or early 2012. Both companies have received requests for additional information from U.S. antitrust regulators reviewing the deal, which was announced on August 15.


While Jha said international sales were strong, North America, where it trails rivals like Apple Inc with the iPhone, accounted for a growing share of its business. About 48 percent of its third-quarter mobile device revenue came from the region, up from 43 percent in the second quarter.

Its next biggest markets were Latin America and China. Motorola uses Google's Android software in its smartphones.

Motorola Mobility reported a net loss of $32 million, or 11 cents per basic share, compared with a loss of $34 million, or 12 cents per basic share, in the year-ago quarter before Motorola Mobility became an independent company.

Excluding certain items, it earned 12 cents per share, double Wall Street expectations of 6 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose to $3.26 billion from $2.95 billion, compared with Wall Street expectations for $3.37 billion.

Including less advanced phones and tablets, the company said total mobile device shipments were 11.6 million. It shipped about 100,000 Xoom tablets, the company said.

Motorola shares were largely unchanged in late trade from their $39.02 close on New York Stock Exchange.

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Chipmaker AMD says resolving output problem

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 04:49 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Advanced Micro Devices Inc forecast higher fourth-quarter revenue as it recovers from a manufacturing setback that has pinched the supply of its new personal computer processors.

AMD, a distant second to Intel Corp in selling microprocessors that are the brains of PCs, said it was working with manufacturing partner GlobalFoundries to resolve the problem affecting its new 32 nanometer Llano chips as well as older 45 nanometer chips.

"We are already seeing steady improvement day after day, week after week, but we are not out of the woods yet," recently appointed Chief Executive Rory Read told analysts on a conference call.

That progress helped the Sunnyvale, California company give a forecast for current-quarter revenue that beat most analysts' expectations, even as AMD faces a shaky economy and weak consumer demand.

"They're gradually improving. Clearly their biggest problem in the quarter was supply-related and going forward my sense is they'll have a healthier supply level in the current quarter and beyond," said Patrick Wang, an analyst at Evercore Partners.

Intel said last week that brisk growth in first-time PC purchases by families in emerging markets like China was helping make up for soft demand for laptops in the United States and Europe.

That emerging markets strength is supporting sales of companies that make chips for PCs, while other parts of the chip sector suffer more from the slow economy.

"Just about everyone else in semiconductors is guiding for down 10 percent for the fourth quarter so anyone that's guiding up is seeing a different market," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Kevin Cassidy.


AMD does not expect a shortage of hard drives caused by recent flooding in Thailand to impact the PC supply chain and hurt business in the current quarter, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Seifert said on the call.

Like Intel, AMD has failed to gain traction in increasingly popular mobile gadgets like Google Inc's Android smartphones and Apple Inc's iPad, which some people are buying instead of laptops.

In August, AMD hired Read, replacing Dirk Meyer, who left in January partly due to differences with the board of directors over the company's mobile strategy.

AMD said revenue in the third quarter rose 4 percent from the year ago period, to $1.69 billion.

AMD said revenue in the fourth quarter ending in December would rise 3 percent compared to the previous quarter, plus or minus 2 percentage points, equivalent to $1.71 billion to $1.77 billion.

Analysts on average expected fourth quarter revenue of $1.71 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Non-GAAP earnings in the quarter were $110 million, up from $108 million in the year-ago period. Non-GAAP earnings per share were unchanged at 15 cents, beating expectations of 10 cents.

The company reported a net profit of $97 million, after a year ago loss of $118 million.

Shares of AMD rose 4.8 percent in extended trade after closing up 8.63 percent to $5.54.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Ministry to set nitrate level in bird's nest next month

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 06:33 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): The nitrate level in swiftlet bird's nest will be set next month to ensure that the product can be exported overseas, especially to China, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

"Although we already have a standard, this will be a more comprehensive as it includes nitrate content of bird's nest from caves, houses and others.

"We will set the level and notify the Chinese soon," he told reporters after talks with bird's nest producers at his office Thursday.

Confusion arose after the Chinese government announced that bird's nest from Malaysia contained high nitrate level harmful to health.

They decided that Malaysian bird's nest could only be exported to China if the nitrate content was zero.

Liow said the people were confused over nitrate content in bird's nest fearing it was harmful while nitrate was also contained in meat products.

"With permissible nitrate level, we are sure that it is safe. But if it (nitrate) is over the level, we will stop the sale of bird'snest," he added.

After the nitrate level has been set, guidelines will be submitted to Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry for enforcement purposes. - BERNAMA

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Dr M: Can PAS' hudud serve justice to all?

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 06:30 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has questioned whether PAS' plans for hudud can serve justice to Malaysia's multi-religious population.

"They have a stand (on hudud), they say hudud is for Muslims only.

"So, if you happen to go stealing with a non-Muslim friend, they'll chop off your hand but your Chinese or Indian friend will get two months' jail.

"To PAS, that is justice. Of course, if you do something else, they'll chop off your head," he told a press conference Thursday.

The former prime minister was responding to reports that the Kelantan government announcing the setting up of a hudud technical committee headed by Deputy Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob.

On the proposal by United PasokMomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) to create the post of a second Barisan Nasional deputy chairman from among component party leaders in Sabah and Sarawak, Dr Mahathir said what was more important was serving the people.

"Everybody wants (a post). There should be an MCA deputy, an MIC deputy, a Gerakan deputy and if Pakatan wins, everybody will become prime minister.

"But why Sabah and Sarawak? What about other states? Kedah also wants a deputy prime minister.

"Whether you're deputy (prime minister) or not, if you serve the people, that's fine. If you don't serve the people, you'll suffer the fate of Mr Gaddafi (Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi)," he said. BERNAMA

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Five foreigners found after missing for 20 hours in Johor jungle

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 05:15 AM PDT

LABIS: One of five foreigners, all of whom went missing for 20 hours while jungle trekking in Bekok, died of a heart attack, police said.

A search team found the five at Lipur Sungai Bantang Forest at 10.50am Thursday. Police received a distress call from the group at 3pm on Wednesday.

Segamat OCPD Supt Abd Majid Mohd Ali said Australian Chris Birchill, in his 40's, could have died of a heart attack.

Birchill's body had been sent to the Segamat Hospital for post-mortem.

"The remaining survivors, from South Africa and United Kingdom, are now being treated at the hospital," said Supt Abd Majid.

The forest is a popular tourist destination located in the Labis Forest Reserve, about 8km from Bekok town.

More in The Star Friday.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The kung fu feminist

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 05:26 AM PDT

A kung fu take on the tale of a female revolutionary is director Herman Yau's way of attracting the audience.

HONG Kong director Herman Yau is nothing if not commercially oriented. He knew his new movie, historical biopic The Woman Knight Of Mirror Lake, needed something extra to bring in the audience.

The film is about a historical figure whom many people probably have not heard of.

Qiu Jin, who is played by Chinese actress Huang Yi, was one of the most prominent female revolutionists in the fight to bring down the corrupt Qing empire, which fell in 1912.

The movie's appeal is also limited by the fact that the only big names in the cast – Hong Kong actors Anthony Wong and Kevin Cheng – have small supporting roles.

Yau's brainwave: turn it into something closer to his 2010 movie, The Legend Is Born - Ip Man, a prequel to the popular movies about the grandmaster of the Wing Chun style of martial arts.

"I needed to repackage the film in some way, and I thought that kung fu would be a good way to do that.

"Hopefully, people who watch the film will enjoy the kung fu scenes but, at the same time, be interested enough about Qiu that they will then go and look up books or information about her after the movie," he says in a telephone interview.

He also tweaked certain historical details in the story to better fit his overall vision for the movie. For example, he made the character of Qiu's loyal servant Fu Sheng mute, despite no historical records stating this.

He says: "I did that because I wanted to inject some symbolism into the story. Qiu was a remarkable champion of women's rights at a time when most women were silent about being treated as inferior to men.

"Fu Sheng thus symbolises the type of silence suffered by all the women around Qiu."

Some of Qiu's descendants have not taken well to Yau's revisions. One almost slammed the door in the filmmaker's face.

Yau says: "I tried to contact as many of Qiu's family members as possible because I really wanted them to watch the film and tell me what they thought.

"But one of them, a descendant of Qiu's brother, refused to watch my film even though I took a copy of it to his house in China. He didn't think any non-related people had the right to tell Qiu's story, I think."

The response from the members of Qiu's family who did watch the movie has been generally positive, according to Yau.

He says: "Some of them were crying non-stop when they watched the movie. They appreciated the fact that I was getting Qiu's story out."

Qiu, who was also a poet, was executed after a failed uprising. She is considered a heroine in China today.

Yau says: "I am a big fan of Qiu. So to me, as long as I represent her fairly and get her message across to people, I think it's fine."

n The Woman Knight Of Mirror Lake opens in Malaysian cinemas today.

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From Tumpat to Toronto

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 10:37 PM PDT

From his boyhood adventures in cinema, Dain Said is today recognised internationally as the director of the critically-acclaimed Bunohan.

GROWING up in small town Tumpat, Kelantan, in the 1970s, filmmaker Dain Said, as a boy, eagerly awaited the travelling cinema that came to town every now and again. The two guys who brought the magic lantern and big screen to town would give out "sekla" (circulars, or leaflets) from their lorry, announcing the night's offering, often also blaring through loudspeakers urging the residents to come and see the film.

Sitting in his home in Kuala Lumpur now, Dain laughs when reminiscing about the old days and recalling the fun times he had back then being introduced to the magic of cinema.

"They didn't have current films," says Dain. "They showed old films, because it was cheaper. This was sometime around the 70s. I saw Ben-Hur, which was made in the 20s. I was like, wow! That was my first memory of cinema."

From the days of watching classic epics from halfway across the world, he is today presenting his own film to audiences halfway across the globe. Dain and his producer Nandita Solomon have just returned from the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where his action-drama Bunohan was screened to the public and also industry players.

Dain and Nandita went there as a little-known team of director and producer, along with their Los Angeles-based co-producer Tim Kwok. Then something quite extraordinary happened. The response from the first two screenings of the film had been good, but what was better was when Variety reviewer John Anderson was in the audience.

Tracing the archetypal violent story of fathers and sons to The Godfather, Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung's films, and even Biblical and Shakespearean origins, Anderson goes on to say in his review that Bunohan is "... a fight film with echoes of King Lear, and a ghost story about living people who occupy the edge of existence."

Anderson went on to praise the film's pace and momentum, even describing actor Faizal Hussein as "the Jack Palance of Malaysia".

That amazing review started getting the little film from Malaysia noticed by industry folks, critics and the general public, and Dain being recognised on the streets.

"There were instances where people stopped us on the streets," says Dain. "A couple of kids walked past us and kept staring at us. We looked back, and they looked back, and they kind of went, 'You're the director of that film, Bunohan, right?' I said, 'Yeah.' And they said they loved the film. That was kind of nice."

Right after TIFF, Bunohan went on to screen at the Fantastic Film fest in Austin, Texas, where it garnered a full house (probably due to the Variety review and positive word from other publications and websites). There was reportedly a queue at the box-office of people wanting to see if there were extra tickets.

Not bad for a local film set in a borderland that has tomoi fight action, wayang kulit, a dead Ho Yuhang, and a woman who turns into a crocodile. Although some things were cultural-specific, says Dain, foreign audiences still managed to digest the drama and action, the relationship between the father and his sons, and the backdrop of folklore. Surely, the story about strained familial ties and estrangement, and the poignancy when tradition is washed away by the currents and tides of time and modernity, should have a universal resonance.

"They understood the story," says Dain. "There were certain cultural nuances that they might not have gotten, but they translated it through their own cultural experiences. One blogger wrote about Ilham living on a boat, and he referred it to his own American cultural experience, which was Miami Vice where Don Johnson's character lives on a yacht!"

Dain admits they had a slow start, but after the second screening of the film and the Variety review, things started to roll a little easier.

"We had a reception, and we could only have a small one (for industry and media people)," explains Dain. "What was really nice was that the people we wanted to meet did come, and they stayed till the end. They didn't have to because there were 15 parties going on all over town. But they did and it was great."

And then there was the unexpected local element that added to the TIFF experience, and brought some cheer for Dain during the Aidilfitri season. A family from Ipoh that ran a restaurant in Toronto cooked dinner for Dain and gang and also laid out the food for the reception.

"They said, 'It was Raya recently, so let us make some rendang for you!'" says Dain. "They were very, very proud that a Malaysian film was there. Their sons are also really into films and had done film studies and worked on small productions. The food also helped to bring people to our reception and got them to stay!"

I ask Dain if the endorsement from Variety provided some kind of vindication after the times of uncertainty he and his team have had to face, and gave them even more confidence to forge ahead.

"For me it's not so much that," Dain replies. "I'm sure other filmmakers also face this. I've worked on this for a long time, I don't actually know what it means. When that kind of accolade comes, it's very ... strange. I don't know what to make of it.

"But of course, one is happy. Emotionally I've been living with (the film) for so long, I don't know how to judge it anymore."

Snakes and leeches

For a while, it seemed one couldn't escape news about Bunohan. Almost every week, someone was either reviewing the film or interviewing Dain. And thanks to one online interview, everyone became intrigued by "heat-seeking vipers". It probably made a lot of people want to visit the village in Kelantan where the movie was filmed, to see if there were indeed such snakes.

There are, Dain confirms. The vipers and giant leeches were some of the biggest concerns of filming in the bog on the east coast, and during the monsoon too. He relates how a documentary-maker friend of his once encountered one of these vipers on a night shoot. The snake, sensing heat from the guy's helmet-lamp, shot for his head, but thankfully only grazed him.

Scary stuff, but such things only confer upon Dain the title of "maverick director", going fearlessly into the unknown to capture the real thing, much like one of his filmmaking heroes, Werner Herzog, who's known to venture into the remotest places on earth to shoot a film.

And like Herzog, Dain's not stupid. No one goes into these things unprepared. His team had contingency plans in case of emergencies, the nearest hospital and clinics were noted, and even locals familiar with the waterlogged area were hired to keep everyone safe.

Few directors today would bother getting their hands dirty, so to speak, to get that perfect shot or lend their films more authenticity and immediacy. Most things can be done with CGI in post-production nowadays. But for Dain, that perfect sky, perfect light or beautiful landscape meant sparing no effort, sometimes getting into the water among the lalang himself.

"This is part and parcel of how I work, I guess," says Dain. "Sometimes I get lost in it. Sometimes time is of the essence. For one scene I was in the water because Azura (supermodel Tengku Azura who plays a mysterious woman who appears time and again in fever-dream sequences) was supposed to come out of the water. Time was really running, and I didn't want to lose those clouds.

"It was towards the end of the day already, and I didn't want to lose the light. I also wanted her to come out of the water in a particular way. It was difficult to explain, so it was better to get in there and show her how I wanted it."

Meeting Godard

Dain seems to believe in the old aesthetics, the classic way films were made, from when directors immersed themselves in certain locales (think John Ford and Monument Valley) or fleshed out the imaginary with the real (think Terrence Malick and nature).

It's easy to see why once you're familiar with his background. After Kuala Lumppur, as a boy he lived in Egypt (his father was a diplomat) and spent his time watching spaghetti westerns. But it was in London during his teens that his real adventure in cinema began, stealing out of Latin classes to sneak into a nearby repertory cinema to feast his eyes on European films.

"I skipped Latin classes because I thought 'Who wants to learn a dead language?'" says Dain. "So I ponteng lah. They were double lessons in the afternoon and you tended to fall asleep. So I thought, I can't do this! And it was so easy to get into the cinema because those back doors were loose."

The rep cinema played five to six different films a day, and one day, Dain came face-to-face with a Jean-Luc Godard film. But no, it wasn't the film that inspired him to become a filmmaker.

"It was the Godard that got me really, really pissed off! I didn't understand it!" he says. "And in those days in London, there were loads and loads of secondhand bookshops. There was always a huge film section. I would spend my lunch hours there. Each book was about 20 pence, which was really cheap, like 20 sen. So I started reading up on cinema."

It wasn't all just European cinema though. It was also the time of the then-new generation of filmmakers out of Hollywood, film school graduates ready to break old rules and make their own. Directors such as Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola were making films that had a literary quality to them yet was entertaining enough for the masses. Coppola's Apocalypse Now!, in fact, drew inspiration directly from Joseph Conrad.

Dain himself started his love affair with literature after seeing Kafka's The Castle televised on British TV. And he was only 12 at the time. His mother was a schoolteacher, so reading was cultivated at home. Literature and the love of 60s and 70s cinema in his formative years helped to shape his vision and his desire for films that have both entertainment value and substance.

He graduated in photography, film and video in 1990 from Harrow College, Polytechnic Of Central London (now Westminster University).

"For me, film was at its height in the 60s and 70s, with the new breed of filmmakers," says Dain. "The French, Italians and Germans were coming up with different things, and so was Hollywood, with (Bob) Rafelson and gang, and then Scorsese and (Paul) Schrader, and Coppola. It was a very, very exciting time for cinema because it was all so new. There was no precedent for anything and all the rules were being thrown out the window. But (the filmmakers) were very articulate, they weren't doing things haphazardly."

Made for Malaysians

Dain is currently travelling between here and Indonesia, working on a documentary. He's heard good things from our neighbours.

"The Indonesians say the film scene in Malaysia is very, very healthy at this moment," he reveals. "Malaysia is doing very well. There is diversity – there are the die-hard Hollywood wannabes and the more independent filmmakers producing things on their own, and our films touch on very diverse subject matters."

The word most often heard when Bunohan is mentioned, is "game-changer". Malaysian cinema may be robust and diverse at the moment, but we're still waiting for that one film, the game-changer, the one that will successfully bridge the gap between entertainment and artistic integrity, please both critics and the general masses.

Dain seems to identify most with Jean-Pierre Melville, Malick and Herzog, "outsiders" who don't fit easily into any category. Melville, who helped Alain Delon to become a star, influenced directors such as Johnnie To and John Woo. Malick has Hollywood A-list actors busting down his door for a role. Herzog, who had to steal a camera to make his first film, continues to work comfortably in various kinds of cinema. Game-changers they are, bridging art and entertainment.

Come March 8, Malaysians will get to see what the fuss has been about overseas over a little film called Bunohan. The film has been passed without cuts by the censorship board. Meanwhile, it is also going to Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Festival next month, in the Going South category.

"I made the film for Malaysians to watch and enjoy," says Dain. "We still need to make sure that we do well in our own country. The box-office is my producer's worry, but for me, I want audiences back home to see the film."

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Bruce Willis, Emma Heming expecting baby

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 10:16 PM PDT

LONDON, (Reuters): Hollywood star Bruce Willis and his wife, designer and model Emma Heming, are expecting their first child together, Willis' spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

"The couple ... are overjoyed with this news and they look forward to welcoming this newest addition into their family," the "Die Hard" star's representative said in a statement confirming Heming's pregnancy.

The baby, the couple's first child together, is due early in 2012.

Willis, 56, married Heming, 35, in 2009. He has three daughters with his ex-wife, actress Demi Moore, the youngest of whom is 17 years-old.

Willis shot to fame in the 1980s on the hit television series "Moonlighting," and went on to become a top box office star in such films as "Pulp Fiction," "The Sixth Sense" and "Armageddon," in addition to the "Die Hard" series.

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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Haute wheels

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 05:30 PM PDT

WIN invites to the Malaysia International Fashion Week (MIFW) on Saturdays from Oct 29 to Nov 12. A total of 50 tickets will be given away on every Saturday.

All you have to do is catch the MIFW'11 Fashion Force at the following venues in Kuala Lumpur; look out for these striking Peugeot cars (pic). Answer some simple questions to win tickets to the exclusive event as well as goodies from make-up brand MAC.

The selected venues are:

12.45pm – 2.00pm: Fahrenheit88, Bukit Bintang

3.30pm – 5.00pm: Maybank, Bukit Bintang

6.00pm – 7.00pm: Bangsar Village 2, Jalan Telawi

8.00pm – 9.00pm: In the vicinity of KL City Walk, Jalan P. Ramlee

9.00pm – 10.00pm: Frangipani at Changkat Bukit Bintang

Peugeot is MIFW'11's official car partner. For periodic updates, check out Mifa's facebook page at

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Raising the stakes

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 05:30 PM PDT

The Malaysia International Fashion Week 2011 is set to take fashion up a notch.

IT IS time to raise the glamour stakes again. Yes, the Malaysia International Fashion Week (MIFW'11) is back – and it's bigger than ever.

MIFW, hailed as one of the most prestigious fashion events in the region, is an ongoing effort by the Malaysian International Fashion Alliance (Mifa) to support the professional development of local couturiers and promote the Malaysian fashion industry in the global market.

This year's instalment of the annual event – which started in 2003 – will be held at Zebra Square in Kuala Lumpur from Nov 21 to 27.

This year, London-based Singaporean designer Ashley Isham, known for combining big-time glamour with contemporary elements in his signature drape dresses, is among the 170 local and international designers who will be showcasing their collections at the event.

MIFW'11 boasts 26 fashion showcases altogether. Among them is the Asia Magic Gala, which will be held at 8pm on Nov 24. The showcase will feature some of the most celebrated designers in Asia. They include the much-revered Ashley, Malaysian Khoon Hooi, and world-famous actress-turned-designer Lee Sinje, who has taken girlish elegance to new heights with her latest collection, Cacac by Sinje. Emerging local labels KLutched and Gallo will also be unveiling their latest collections at the event.

The young and young-at-heart may be interested in a fun showcase titled Tribute To Mickey & Friends on Nov 26. At this event, MIFW pays tribute to Mickey Mouse, by featuring past MIFW participants and their personal ode to the classic Disney icon.

Meanwhile, notable bridal designers Eric Choong and Carven Ong will add a touch of luxe to the runway with their elaborate gowns. The Bridal Glitz showcase, to be held at 4.30pm on Nov 26, will also feature collections by Celest Thoi, designer labels Nthiran Couture and Allure Couture, and jewellery brand Suhara Jewel Art.

Co-hosts for this wedding extravaganza are Signature Weddings (renowned bridal magazine and online portal) and MyDentist (a celebrity dentist who is focused on providing "winning smiles" to customers, including potential brides-to-be).

Rising star

"Up-and-coming designer Silas Liew is especially one to look out for," says Mifa chairman Heah Sieu Lay. Liew, who won Mifa's Who's Next Designer Search last year, will be premiering his men's wear collection at MIFW'11 on Nov 24.

Heah explains that the annual search for budding designers around the country is part of Mifa's efforts to encourage young talents to explore the fashion industry.

"It helps us discover young talents and to guide them towards a possible career in fashion. Participants also gain exposure in both local and international markets through the competition," he elaborates.

"The winner of this year's Designer Search will get the opportunity to participate in the Who's Next? fashion trade fair in Paris, France in 2012."

Heah reveals that Mifa has also been working with local fashion associations such as the Bumiputra Designers Association (BDA), Young Designers' Arena (YODA) and Islamic Fashion Festival (IFF) on this year's fashion week.

"The associations have invited designers from Indonesia and Vietnam and I'm excited to see how they will present their unique qualities in their creations," he says.

To boost the international appeal of the local fashion industry, Mifa also introduced the Global Fashion Inspiration (GFI) programme this year. Heah says the programme aims to acquaint homegrown talents with the international fashion scene.

"We are sending local designers to participate in fashion weeks around the world. This year, under the GFI, the Farah Khan label has had the chance to showcase its designs at the Russia Fashion Week."

Delectable dozen

Mifa also conceptualised The Twelve, a pop-up clothing store at Fahrenheit88 in Kuala Lumpur. Launched last April, The Twelve features a dozen of the nation's most promising designer labels: Benson Chen, Radzuan Radziwill, Key Ng, Sasha Rowena, TAS Iman by Tom Abang Saufi, Shinju Pearls, JKhan, PU3, uREKA, BDA, YODA and Zero To Ten.

"The Twelve was formed to provide a platform for local designers to display and sell their creations, and will be available at the shopping mall till April next year," Heah says.

"Apart from that, we have also invited foreign trade buyers to attend MIFW'11 to create more business opportunities for our designers. Some designers have actually been invited to fashion weeks overseas or sold their collections to stores all over the world as a result of these meetings."

Heah shares his big plans for the local fashion scene. "Ultimately, our target is to propel the local fashion industry to the ranks of renowned fashion capitals such as Paris, Milan, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

"We encourage our designers to come up with ready-to-wear pieces to increase the international marketability and appeal of their designs."

That said, Heah admits the industry is not without its flaws. "Our fashion industry is still very young in comparison to our European counterparts. But we believe that continuous efforts and experience will transform the industry over time.

"Designers here are actually very creative and innovative but they need some guidance when it comes to marketing and selling their collections."

Some of the challenges they face include engaging the proper channels to export their clothes, Heah opines.

"We are helping them overcome these challenges by introducing them to Mifa's logistic partners. For example, Logwin Logistics is our official logistics partner this year and they're coming up with a service that will help assist designers who want to export their collections."

To learn more about Mifa and MIFW'11, log on to The Star is an official media partner.

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Sisterhood of style

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 05:29 PM PDT

Actress-turned-designer Lee Sinje wants to help women look their best with her urban fashion line.

FOR some, Lee Sinje will always be the blind girl with the big, bewitching eyes in the 2002 horror hit The Eye. The actress was so convincing in her role as a troubled violinist who gains an eerie ability to see ghosts after a successful cornea transplant, it made her the rising queen of scream.

Lee's performance in the film also helped her clinch the best actress awards at the 39th Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan, the 22nd Hong Kong Film Awards and the Eight Golden Bauhinia Awards in Hong Kong, catapulting the Kedah-born beauty to international stardom.

In no time, she became the face that would launch a thousand horror films, lending her quiet charm and charisma to 2004's Koma and 2006's Re-cycle. It seems inevitable that her brand of grief-stricken helplessness would also become a permanent fixture of the genre.

In person, though, the talented 35-year-old bears no hint of that poignant vulnerability she so often espouses in her films. Lee is chatty as she is vivacious and radiates a great, positive energy.

She is also surprisingly down-to-earth. Dressed simply in a grey off-shoulder dress that flares from the waist, Lee is a picture of understated elegance. Her pixie haircut adds a sassy edge to her soft, girlish demeanour.

True to her minimalist style, Lee says that chic, functional everyday looks for the modern woman embody the essence of her clothing line, Cacac.

The line defies the traditional Asian concept of elegance. "In the past, Asian women often equate elegance to wearing heavy, dramatic make-up with lots of jewellery. But for me, elegance is all about simplicity and being confident. It's a lifestyle," Lee elaborates.

Indeed, the launch of her latest collection, Cacac City Romance by Cacac by Sinje in Kuala Lumpur last month saw an array of simple but elegant ready-to-wear casual and evening pieces in shades of champagne, navy blue and a touch of bubblegum pink.

The clothes range from stylish casual wear to flirty cocktail dresses that accentuate the delicate female form – notably the legs, shoulders and waist. Fabrics are mainly silk, satin and chiffon, with a mix of jersey and polyester. There are accessories and shoes available as well.

"I picked simple colours because I think they embody the concept of elegance. I also picked soft, comfortable materials that will take a woman from a day at work to a night-out with friends," Lee enthuses.

With Cacac, she wants to help women look their best. "Cacac is derived from the Malay word 'kakak', which means 'sister'," she explains. "The brand is all about sisterhood and I want to treat all women like my sisters."

Cacac also celebrates femininity, she adds. "It's about rejoicing life, being bold and being proud of one's individuality."

Lee, who began the venture with two of her best friends, hopes to make her mark as a fashion designer with Cacac. She admits she has had no formal training in fashion and has learned the trade through trial and error – with swathes of fabrics and a mannequin, of course.

Being the creative director and designer of Cacac, Lee oversees the entire clothes-making process, from designing to selecting and sourcing for fabrics, to trying out samples and ensuring the quality of her creations.

She launched her first range of clothes with Cacac in May last year and aims to come up with two collections yearly. She also hopes to go to London for a professional fashion course one day.

"I'm proud to be a Malaysian designer and I hope to create an impression in the local fashion industry. This is a very important chapter of my life," says Lee, who looks to be in a state of such intense excitement that it is hard not to be drawn in by her zesty personality.

Her first foray into the entertainment world began in 1996 with the release of her Mandarin album, Under The Same Starry Night. She made her debut as an actress in 1999 in The Sunshine Cops. In 2001, she picked up the best newcomer award at the Berlin Film Festival for her role in Betelnut Beauty.

In spite of her successes, Lee has never been the showy, ostentatious type, preferring her books and canvases to the limelight. She likens the designing process to painting a picture and recently held her maiden art exhibition – a collection of abstract oil paintings in Taipei, Taiwan.

A fan of bold colours – her favourite being red – Lee developed a passion for fashion when she was just a child.

"I bought my first dress when I was 12 in Pekan Langgar, which is a small town in Alor Setar. And it was from that moment, right after I put on that dress that I knew, for the first time, what it was like to feel pretty.

"It wasn't even one of those fancy dresses, just a plain one I bought from the market. But that was when I started becoming really interested in fashion. I went on to buy more dresses and I loved them all so much I even wore them for tuition classes," she shares with a laugh.

Clearly, her love for dresses hasn't diminished at all. Her latest collection boasts strikingly bright evening pieces imbued with urban pizzazz. Her stand-out piece was a royal blue chiffon knee-length dress with an elaborate train that flows like waves from the waist down to the floor.

While Lee may look like a million bucks in that dress, which also fronts her promotional print material, she exudes none of the hauteur inherent in most superstars. Candid and kinetic, Lee has no qualms sharing her personal thoughts and details with the media. Except, maybe, when asked about her age.

"I'm not telling you but you'll be able to find out on the Internet," the actress says with a loud laugh.

We're guessing that her mirthful candour and compelling presence probably had something to do with her getting discovered by Sylvia Chang, Taiwan's doyenne of film and music at a Kuala Lumpur audition in 1995.

Chang became her mentor-manager and changed the young girl's life forever. In 2004, they starred together in drama-comedy 20,30,40, a film that chronicles the intricacies of the female psyche at three different stages of life.

Lee's easy likeability also won her the role that made her a world-famous star. The Pang Brothers, Danny and Oxide first saw Lee, then an unknown in Hong Kong on MTV and knew instantly that their long search for the lead actress of The Eye had ended. They were swept away by Lee's performance of her song, Ocean Of Love.

A year after filming The Eye in Thailand, Oxide and Lee started dating. The couple tied the knot in February last year in an intimate island wedding in Pulau Pangkor. Now, the power-couple are joining forces again in the upcoming psychological thriller, Sleepwalker 3D. The film, which is due for a Nov 3 release, also stars Lee's good pal Charlie Yeung and Chinese actress Huo Siyan.

Lee plays a woman who sleepwalks and her nocturnal adventures may prove shockingly murderous. "My character struggles with her conscience and she may have killed her ex-lover in her sleep. But I wouldn't call this a horror movie, it's more of an abstract way to talk about love," Lee reveals, her dark eyes gleaming.

The production is also her first with her husband without Danny. "We have really high expectations for this film and that placed a huge amount of pressure on us," she adds.

"We never argued, but we'd looked so serious in our discussions that people thought we were fighting."

Lee, who has 18 films under her belt including last year's romantic comedy Ice Kacang Puppy Love (directed by Ah Niu) says she loves all her cinematic adventures. "They're all my babies," the actress professes.

Speaking of which, will we be hearing the pitter patter of little feet anytime soon? "I love kids but I'm too busy for that right now. Besides, I love my career and I really just want to enjoy life for now," Lee tells us.

Cacac by Sinje is now available at Parkson outlets in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur and Gurney Plaza in Penang. Cacac's flagship store is located at Sunway Giza in Kota Damansara, Selangor.

You can catch a glimpse of Lee at the Asia Magic Gala in Zebra Square, Kuala Lumpur on Nov 24. The gala is organised by the Malaysian International Fashion Alliance (Mifa) and co-hosted by Logwin Logistics, and is part of this year's Malaysia International Fashion Week (MIFW).

Lee will present a more extensive collection from Cacac at this event, which also features London-based Singaporean designer Ashley Isham, local designers Khoon Hooi and Benson Chen, as well as up-and-coming designer Jonathan Liang and his label Nue. Local labels KLutched and Gallo will also be unveiling their latest collections.

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