Rabu, 2 November 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'The X Factor' picked up for second season

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 05:49 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Simon Cowell and his cohorts on ''The X Factor'' have something to sing about. Fox announced Wednesday that it has picked up the reality competition for a second season.

The U.S. version of the series, which premiered Sept. 21, has been the reliable performer it was predicted to be for Fox.

It's averaged more than 13 million total viewers, while providing a significant ratings boosts for Fox in the key adults 18-49 demographic on both Wednesdays (which have enjoyed a 37 percent increase in the demo) and Thursdays (which have had a 41 percent jump).

Cowell, who serves as the series' executive producer as well as co-judge, said he was ''absolutely thrilled'' about the renewal.

''I have loved making the show and I want to thank Fox, our sponsors and most importantly, the fans for supporting 'The X Factor,''' Cowell added.

Mike Darnell, president of alternative programming for Fox Broadcasting, called the show ''a monumental success.''

''The talent is phenomenal, the live shows are spectacular and picking it up is a complete no-brainer. Simon and his team have done an incredible job with the show,'' Darnell said.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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Pressure on Syria's Assad to implement peace deal


CAIRO (Reuters) - Syria is under pressure from its Arab neighbours to end months of bloodshed, after agreeing to a plan to pull its military out of cities, release political prisoners and hold talks with the opposition.

Syrians living in Egypt wave a large Syrian national flag and shout slogans against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a protest before the Arab League foreign ministers emergency meeting, at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo November 2, 2011. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)

"We are happy to have reached this agreement and we will be even happier when it is implemented immediately," said Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani of Qatar, which leads an Arab League committee behind the plan agreed in Cairo on Wednesday.

President Bashar al-Assad has deployed his army and security forces to crush protests inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world. He has said they are battling Islamist militants and armed gangs.

The United Nations says 3,000 people have been killed in the bloodshed.

Syria's opposition have dismissed Assad's offer of dialogue as insincere. Outside the Arab League's Cairo headquarters on Wednesday a group of protesters called for Assad to step down.

The United States reiterated its call for the Syrian president to quit.

"Our position remains that President Assad has lost his legitimacy to rule and should step down," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

Qatar's Sheikh Hamad said Syria had agreed to a complete halt to violence, the release of prisoners, removing the military presence from cities and residential areas and allowing the Arab League and media access for reporting.

He told a news conference the League would continue contacts between the Syrian government and the opposition "in preparation for a national dialogue within two weeks".

A League statement said: "The Arab committee (overseeing the plan) is responsible for submitting periodic reports to the ministerial council of the Arab League on the progress of carrying out the plan."


Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby told Al Arabiya in a telephone interview that the talks between the Syrian government and the opposition would be held in Cairo.

"The regime is trying to buy time. Its calls for reform and dialogue are false and deceiving," the opposition council said on Wednesday. It wants the League to take steps that include suspending Syria's membership in the pan-Arab body and ensuring international protection for civilians.

The Arab League has stopped short of suspending Syria, and has shown no sign of backing international military action, as it did against Muammar Gaddafi's Libya.

Syrian activists said on Wednesday that security forces shot dead at least 11 villagers at a roadblock near Homs.

A YouTube video distributed by anti-Assad activists purportedly showed several bodies, gagged and with their hands tied behind their backs. Another five were killed in Homs. All 11 were Sunnis, who form the majority of Syria's population.

Their killing follows reports by an activist in Homs, and on social network pages of Assad supporters, that nine members of the president's minority Alawite sect had been dragged from a bus and killed by gunmen near Homs on Tuesday.

Syrian state television showed tens of thousands of people rallying in Syria's eastern city of Raqqa, in the latest in a series of state-organised rallies designed to show Assad enjoys popular support nationwide. Similar demonstrations have taken place in Damascus, Aleppo, Latakia and Deir al-Zor.

With tight Syrian media restrictions in place, it is hard to verify accounts of violence or gauge the real levels of popular support for Assad or those demanding his removal.

(Additional reporting Marwa Awad in Cairo, Dominic Evans and Erika Solomon in Beirut and Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Peter Graff)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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PLO to pursue statehood despite Israeli measures


RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Israel's tough responses to a successful Palestinian bid to join UNESCO -- financial sanctions and a faster settlement drive in the occupied West Bank -- are unlikely to halt a Palestinian quest for recognition as a state at the United Nations.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official, speaks during a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 24 2011. (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/Files)

A senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday that Israel was trying to undermine the Palestinian Authority (PA) through a decision on Tuesday to freeze temporarily transfers of PA funds after it won membership of the U.N. cultural agency.

The UNESCO vote marked a success for the Palestinians in their broader thrust for recognition as a sovereign state in the U.N. system -- an initiative opposed by Israel and its main ally the United States.

In what the Palestinians saw as a reprisal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet also decided to accelerate the building of Jewish settlements on land where the PA aims to establish an independent state next to Israel.

"It is very serious. Israel wants to strive to destroy the role of the Palestinian National Authority," Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), told Voice of Palestine radio.

Saeb Erekat, another senior Palestinian official, said in a statement that Israel's latest decisions would "not change our course of action", signalling the Palestinians will push ahead regardless in their U.N. initiative.

Israel's decision to step up settlement-building drew expressions of disappointment and concern from Washington and the European Union.

"We are deeply disappointed by yesterday's announcement about accelerated housing construction," White House spokesman Jay Carney said, adding that such "unilateral actions" did not help bridge differences with the Palestinians.

The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "deeply concerned by the latest Israeli decisions" and urged Israel to reverse them.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also said he was "deeply concerned" by Israel's announcement and said funds transfers to the Palestinians must continue "in line with Israel's obligations".

Netanyahu, in a speech on Wednesday, said construction in Jerusalem -- whose eastern sector Palestinians want for the capital of a future state -- is Israel's "right and obligation". Israel deems all of Jerusalem, including areas taken in a 1967 war, as its capital, a status not recognised internationally.

The revenues Israel has decided to withhold include duties on goods being imported to the Palestinian territories and which amount to around half of the PA's domestic revenue base.

In May, Israel temporarily withheld the revenues in response to a reconciliation pact between Abbas and the Hamas movement, which governs the Gaza Strip and is deeply hostile to Israel.

That suspension meant the PA was unable to pay salaries to its 150,000 employees on time for the first time since 2007. A PA spokesman said salaries for November were paid on Wednesday despite the Israeli decision.

"The (Israeli) decision to deny Palestinians access to their own custom tax revenues is an unlawful punitive measure that Israel has done in the past (2005, 2006, 2007, 2011) and will most likely do again," the PA said in a statement.

While Israel may want to punish the Palestinian Authority for its pursuit of statehood at the United Nations, analysts question whether Israel has any interest in the PA's collapse, not least because of its role in policing the West Bank.

PA security forces currently cooperate with the Israelis.

"This is one point of strength the PA has," said George Giacaman, a political scientist at Birzeit University in the West Bank.


The Authority was set up in 1994 as a state-in-waiting at the outset of a peace process which the Palestinians hoped would yield their independence in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, which were all captured by Israel in 1967.

That process, to the extent it exists at all, is in deep crisis. The last round of direct peace talks broke down around a year ago because of a dispute over Israel's expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem -- construction which Abed Rabbo said aimed to kill any chance of Palestinian independence.

Israel said on Tuesday the areas where building would be accelerated would remain in its hands in any future peace deal.

"The Palestinians have no one but themselves to blame for the current impasse in the peace talks that stems directly from their refusal to negotiate peace, from their boycotting the negotiations and from their decision to attack Israel in international fora," Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said.

UNESCO was the first U.N. agency to admit the Palestinians as a full member since President Mahmoud Abbas applied for a full seat at the United Nations on Sept. 23.

Israel and the United States both see the Palestinian policy as an attempt to bypass bilateral peace talks. Israel also says that the Palestinians are aiming to delegitimise it.

Palestinian analysts say Abbas' resolve to press ahead has only been hardened by the recent success of his rivals in the Islamist Hamas movement, which last month scored points among Palestinians by brokering a prisoner swap with Israel.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to decide the fate of the Palestinian application for full membership around Nov. 11. Washington has vowed to use its veto if it comes to a vote.

The Palestinians could then ask the General Assembly to upgrade their status to that of "a non-member state", an improvement on their current standing as an "observer entity".

They also have plans to apply for full membership of other U.N. agencies, regardless of the course of events in New York.

(Additional reporting by Ori Lewis in Jerusalem, Arshad Mohammed in Washington and Louis Charnonneau at United Nations; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Roger Atwood)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Obama tops Forbes most powerful list, Putin No. 2


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Barack Obama topped Forbes' list of the world's most powerful people in 2011, as the U.S. leader's clout rose after the deaths of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Obama bumped Chinese President Hu Jintao from the No. 1 spot on the magazine's annual rankings.

U.S. President Barack Obama waves during an event at Abraham Lincoln High School in Denver, September 27, 2011. (REUTERS/Jason Reed/Files)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel remained the most powerful woman at No. 4 on the list, as Europe's largest economy continued to wield its influence over the troubled European Union.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is running again for president, was No. 2 and Hu came third as he gradually manages the transition of power to others in China.

"The U.S. remains, indisputably, the most powerful nation in the world, with the largest, most innovative economy and the deadliest military," Forbes wrote.

Obama's approval ratings have fallen at home as he struggles with stubbornly high unemployment and a tepid economy, but his fortunes on the world stage have been quite different.

Under orders from Obama, bin Laden, who helped orchestrate the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, was tracked down in Pakistan and killed in May after 10 years in hiding.

The United States joined the NATO-led intervention in Libya, which began with air strikes in March and led eventually to Gaddafi's death in October.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates at No. 5 was the first corporate executive on the list, thanks to a malaria vaccine backed by his charitable foundation that recently passed a key clinical trial.

"Gates' goal is to eliminate infectious disease as a major cause of death in his lifetime. He may succeed," Forbes wrote.

Mark Zuckerberg, the 27-year-old head of social networking site Facebook, shot into ninth position from No. 40 in last year's vote, sandwiched between U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (No. 8), who overseas monetary policy for the world's biggest economy, and British Prime Minister David Cameron at No. 10.

"What the CIA failed to do in 60 years, Zuck (Zuckerberg) has done in 7: knowing what 800 million people think, read and listen to," Forbes wrote.

The king of the world's largest oil producer Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, came in at No. 6 and Pope Benedict XVI was No. 7.

For a full list of the world's most powerful people go to www.forbes.com/power.

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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Marquez seeks vindication from third fight with Pacquiao

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 07:00 PM PDT

Nov 2 (Reuters) - Vindication is the buzzword for Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez as he prepares for the concluding chapter in his trilogy of bouts with Manny Pacquiao next week.

On Nov. 12, the two fighters will step into the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas where Pacquiao's WBO welterweight title will be on the line, along with final bragging rights from their encounters.

The boxers have met twice before, fighting to a draw in May 2004 before Marquez lost his WBC super-featherweight title to the Filipino in a controversial split decision in March 2008. On both occasions, though, Marquez felt he had triumphed.

"Now it's time to shed doubt over who the best fighter is," Marquez said on a conference call on Wednesday while wrapping up his training camp in Mexico. "I want to win this fight because I believe I won the first two fights.

"We are not the only ones saying that we won those first two fights. A lot of people out there, a lot of fans and a lot of the media, agree. So we will be ready and prepared."

Marquez gave southpaw Pacquiao extra motivation for the fight by wearing a T-shirt bearing the legend: "We Were Robbed" when their Nov. 12 showdown was promoted recently in the Philippines.

While Pacquiao claims he was insulted by that fashion statement, Marquez believes he has just as much incentive for their third and final meeting.

"It is personal for me too," said the 38-year-old Mexican, who has a career record of 53-5-1 with 39 knockouts said. "If he is upset about me saying that I won the first two fights, I am upset that I haven't got the decisions.

"I am just as motivated as he is. We all have our opinions. That's his opinion and my opinion is that I didn't get the decisions that I deserved. I think this fight is going to be great because we both want it so bad."

Marquez, a three-division world champion, is in the twilight of his glittering career and will go into next week's bout as a 9-1 underdog against one of the best offensive fighters of all time.


"(Odds) don't do anything for me," said the Mexican, who recovered from three knockdowns in the opening round to earn a draw when they first clashed in May 2004.

"People can bet what they want, people can put the odds how they want them. If they like the 9-1 odds, that's fine with me. It has nothing to do with the fight.

"I am just going in with the mentality that I have to win the rounds. If the opportunity comes, if I hurt him, then I will go for the knockout. I am not going to hesitate if the opportunity is there to go for it."

Pacquiao, who has won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions, has become a far superior fighter to the somewhat raw, all-action Filipino who faced Marquez in 2004 and 2008.

"Pacquiao has definitely become a better technical fighter than he was," said Marquez's trainer Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain. "He has become a more complete boxer.

"His punches are now more clinical, he is not as wild as he used to be. He looks like he knows what he is doing and that's directly the effect that Freddie Roach, his trainer, has had. He has learned a lot of techniques and a lot of new things and he is doing them better, especially the right hook."

Beristain knows Marquez can no longer simply focus on the Filipino's lethal left hand.

"When we fought the first couple of times, his (Pacquiao's) left hand was always the big one, the one we had to worry about, the one that we tried to nullify," Beristain said.

"We see that he has a better right hand now. I think you just go up into the ring with the mentality that you must be ready for both, stay focused on what you need to do.

"We have always won the 'comeback zone', as I like to call it. It's important that we do it again but we know it's not going to be easy. We have to be smart enough to know how to do it and when to do it. That's what Juan is capable of doing."

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Azlan thinking of calling it quits after painful defeat

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 04:45 PM PDT

ROTTERDAM: The disappointment of a second round exit at the World Squash Championships had a fatigued Mohd Azlan Iskandar contemplating the unthinkable yesterday. Slamming into the wall didn't help either.

The Malaysian No. 1 and world No. 14 hurt his right shoulder after running into the wall in the second set against Alister Walker of Botswana. He had taken the opening set 10-12 and led 5-0 in the second before the mishap.

His game suffered as a result and Azlan lost the next three sets 11-8, 11-7, 11-5. A despondent Azlan, who had beaten compatriot Ong Beng Hee in the opening round, hinted that he may be calling it quits when he turns 30 next year.

"I started well in the second set but tripped up by changing tactics," said Azlan.

"I should have continued with the long rallies rather than going for a quick kill."

Azlan feels that, more than the injury, he lost because he was mentally tired as he had not had a break since the Malaysian Open in July.

"I need a rest and might withdraw from next week's Macau Open," said Azlan, whose defeat ended the Malaysian challenge in the men's competition.

World No. 20 Walker will take on second seed Ramy Ashour of Egypt in the third round. Ashour, the world champion in 2008, came back from the brink to beat Nicholas Muller of Switzerland 8-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-5.

Defending champion Nick Matthew of England gained revenge for his loss last week in the Qatar Classic to young Egyptian Tarek Momen.

This time Matthew triumphed 11-4, 11-9, 11-4, knocking the ball around with great control and moving well.

Matthew plays another Egyptian, former world junior champion Mohamed El Shorbagy, next.

Thierry Lincou, the only Frenchman ever to have become world champion, produced a timeless display of skill and organisation. The oldest man on tour survived a draining 66-minute battle to earn a meeting with his fellow 35-year-old David Palmer, the former two-time world champion from Australia who is playing his final world championship.

Lincou quelled a late push from Stewart Boswell, the former world number four from Australia, to get home 11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7.

Palmer prevailed 11-6, 11-13, 11-5, 11-5 against fellow Aussie, Ryan Cuskelly, ranked 42.



Second round: David Palmer (Aus) bt Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) 11-6, 11-13, 11-5, 11-5; Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt Stewart Boswell (Aus) 11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7; Borja Golan (Esp) bt Omar Mosaad (Egy) 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7; Karim Darwish (Egy) bt Wael El Hindi (Egy) 11-9, 11-3, 11-4; Nick Matthew (Eng) bt Tarek Momen (Egy) 11-4, 11-9, 11-4; Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Simon Rosner (Ger) 12-10, 11-7, 12-10; Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Chris Ryder (Eng) 11-9, 11-3, 11-5; Peter Barker (Eng) bt Steve Coppinger (Rsa) 9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8; James Willstrop (Eng) bt Shahier Razik (Can) 11-1, 4-1 (rtd); Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Daryl Selby (Eng) 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 4-11, 14-12; Hisham Ashour (Egy) bt Martin Knight (Nzl) 11-3, 11-8, 16-14; Amr Shabana (Egy) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9; Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt Cesar Salazar (Mex) 11-3, 11-9, 11-5; Laurens Jan Anjema (Hol) bt Saurav Ghosal (Ind) 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5; Alister Walker (Bot) bt Azlan Iskandar (Mas) 10-12, 11-8,11-7, 11-5; Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt Nicolas Muller (Sui) 8-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-5.


First round: Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt Lauren Selby (Eng) 11-7, 11-4, 11-5; Samantha Teran (Mex) bt Tesni Evans (Wal) 11-5, 11-3, 11-7; Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl) 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7; Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy) bt Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) 12-10, 11-9, 12-10; Laura Massaro (Eng) bt Yathreb Adel (Egy) 11-9, 11-7, 11-6; Annie Au (Hkg) bt Joey Chan (Hkg) 13-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6; Joelle King (Nzl) bt Gaby Huber (Sui) 11-7, 11-6, 11-6; Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt Line Hansen (Den) 11-9, 12-10, 11-7; Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt Sarah Kippax (Eng) 11-9, 11-9, 11-5; Kasey Brown (Aus) bt Orla Noom (Hol) 11-6, 11-5, 11-4; Natalie Grinham (Hol) bt Aisling Blake (Irl) 11-5, 11-3, 11-9; Madeline Perry (Irl) bt Emma Beddoes (Eng) 11-8, 11-4, 7-11, 7-11, 11-3; Camille Serme (Fra) bt Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 12-10, 11-7, 2-1 rtd; Low Wee Wern (Mas) bt Latasha Khan (US) 11-6, 11-9, 11-8; Nicol David (Mas) bt Delia Arnold (Mas) 11-3, 11-6, 11-5; Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt Donna Urquhart (Aus) 10-12, 11-8, 13-11, 9-11, 11-2.

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Azizul tackles Track World Cup after long lay-off

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 06:52 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: A fierce scrap awaits Azizulhasni Awang on his return to competitive action, after a long enforced lay-off, in the opening round of the 2011-2012 UCI Track World Cup season in Astana, Kazakhstan, this weekend.

Azizul and seasoned campaigner Josiah Ng will compete in the individual sprint and keirin to fight for ranking points to boost their hopes of qualifying for the London Olympics next year.

But Azizul can expect tougher hurdles in his bid to pick up a fourth consecutive overall World Cup title in keirin this time as he is up against top class opposition.

Four-time Olympic champion Chris Hoy leads a strong British track squad to the first ever World Cup event in Kazakhstan eager to bounce back after a disappointing outing at the World Championships in Holland early this year.

Hoy lost his keirin title to Australia's Shane Perkins and was beaten in the battle for the sprint crown by Frenchman Gregory Bauge in Holland.

Shane and Bauge will also be on the starting line in Astana and will definitely be sizing up their pint-sized Malaysian rival as well.

Azizul won consecutive silver medals at the World Championships but missed out on this year's outing due to the horrific calf injury he suffered in the final leg of the World Cup series in Manchester.

His calf was skewered by a 20cm splinter and Azizul went through a long rehabilitation period with the National Sports Institute before returning to his Melbourne base to train under Australian coach John Beasley.

Azizul only recently started training on the track as much of his time was spent in the gym working on regaining his fitness, apart from physical conditioning through long distance rides.

Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president Datuk Naim Mohamad said there would be no pressure on Azizul to perform although it is the start of the second part of the Olympic qualification process.

"The only rider Azizul has not beaten is Hoy but this should not be his main concern.

"It's his first track competition after such a long period and it will be more to gauge where his level is.

"In fact, Beasley did not want him to go to the World University Games in China (in August) as he felt Azizul was not ready at that time.

"Azizul was ranked number one at the end of the 2010-11 season, so it will be more about strengthening his position as he heads into the Olympic year," said Naim.

Joining Azizul and Josiah in Astana is youngster Sofian Nabil Omar Bakri, who will race in the omnium and points race.

"The other national riders will be involved in the SEA Games around the same time so it's a good time to launch the 2016 Olympics programme.

"Sofian is part of the plan, so he will get his first taste of what it's like at the top level," added Naim.

After Astana, there are three more World Cup stops counting towards Olympic qualification in Cali (December), China (January) and London (February) before the finale at the World Championships in Melbourne in April next year.

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The Star Online: Business

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FBM KLCI down in early trade

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 06:29 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI was traded lower in early trade on Thursday, dipping 7.39 points or 0.5% to 1,463.56 at 9.10am, taking no cues from the gains seen on Wall Street overnight.

Despite opening at 0.92 points higher, the local index barometer succumbed quickly to bearish sentiments as investors took profit.

HwangDBS Vickers Research said in its market preview that the benchmark FBM KLCI will probably rise to challenge the immediate resistance level of 1,475 ahead, amid a steadier external backdrop that may lift share prices on the local stock market today.

Major equity indices on Wall Street rebounded between 1.3% and 1.6% overnight, boosted by stronger U.S. economic fundamentals.

Regional peers were mostly down with Taiwan's Taiex Index shedding 0.51% to 7,559.78 while Seoul's Kospi Index dipped 0.65% to 1,885.65.

Nymex crude oil lost 73 cents to US$91.78 per barrel. Spot gold fell US$5.98 to US$1,732.63 per ounce.

The ringgit was quoted at 3.1516 to the US dollar.

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M'sia has sufficient funds and is insulated from debt crisis and recession

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 05:40 PM PDT



KUALA LUMPUR: The country has enough funds to cushion the economy, should the contagion from the European debt crisis hit Malaysi according to Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah.

"We have our buffer the RM6bil stimulus spending allocated under the budget initiative. Assuming there's no recession, the buffer will be available to ensure strong growth. If there's a recession, it will help to protect our economy," he said after officiating the MIA-AFA Conference yesterday.

Asked if Malaysia had funds for another stimulus package under the worst-case scenario, Husni said the Government had its reserves for the purpose.

"We have a RM4bil contingency fund and about RM5bil in Kumpulan Wang Amanah Nasional.

"We have also asked our accountants to review trust funds worth some RM30bil," he said, adding that those funds were for various programmes, especially the dormant on es, the Government was reviewing.

According to Husni, the Govern ment could also monetise its assets by selling Federal Government land, s uch as that belonging to the Malaysian Rubber Board, to raise funds.

"There are a number of these pieces of land. They are just sma ll plots of three to seven acres that we are not going to utilise. If we are not utilising those land, why can't we privatise it?

"We have managed to raise the value of land through projects, such as the River of Life, which was a federal government initiative to transform the Klang and Gombak rivers into vibrant and liveable waterfronts," he added.

Separately, Husni said the net national debt was still manageable.

"It is well within our capability (to repay). Our debt ratio to gross domestic product (GDP) must not be more than 55% while external loans must not exceed RM35bil."

He said the current national debt was still below the critical level of 55% of GDP and the country's loan payment to national revenue was at 10%, which was below the prudent level of 15%.

Meanwhile, the debtserving ratio for external loans was about 2%.

According to the Economic Report 2011/2012, national debt continued to remain low at 28.5% of GDP as at end-June 2011, while federal government debt is projected to be marginally higher at 53.8% of GDP.

Total federal government debt is expected to increase by 11.9% to RM455.7bil in 2011, mainly due to higher borrowings to meet financing requirements.

Of the total, domestic debt accounts for 96.2% or RM438.5bil.

Similarly, the federal government external debt, which is mainly denominated in US dollars and yen, is projected to increase by 3.2% to RM17.3bil following the successful issuance of the US$2bil dual-tranche Wakala global sukuk.

Federal government external debt, however, continues to remain low and manageable at 3.8% of total debt (2010: 4.1%).

MIDF Research economist Anthony Dass said the debt rose to 12.3% in 2010 on the back of a 7.2% increase in GDP, implying that the 2010 fis cal deficit stood at 53.1% of GDP for the second consecutive year from 53.7% in 2009.

"In our view, the debt level is still at a manageable level but what is disturbing is the increase between 2010 and first half of 2011. Should this upward trend continue, it can add some pressure on the economy to reduce the debt level.

"However, if the policymakers were to institute policies for potential reduction in the debt level, the surge in the first half may not yield a strong adverse impact," Dass said.

Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd (MARC) chief economist Nor Zahidi Alias, when contacted, said Malaysia's debt level used to be higher at around 75% of GDP in 1990.

Since then, it had been brought down to less than 50% by the mid-1990s.

He said only since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the debt level had start ed to creep up; after the 2008 global financial crisis, it surpassed the 50% level again.

"What is more critical here is not the debt level per se whether on the absolute amount or as a percentage of GDP but the component of the debt.

"In Malaysia, only about 5% of the total federal government debt is foreign debt; the rest is domestic debt. This makes a whole lot of difference when it comes to the way sovereign risk is evaluated for a country," Zahidi said.

Similarly, Japan also has minuscule foreign debt; its debt level was about 200% of GDP. Part of the reason why the Japanese economy has not collapsed is due to the fact that a bulk of its debt is financed via domestic sources.

"This is quite similar to Malaysia. It is true that the benchmark of 60% of GDP is always on investors' minds but one should not forget the component of the debt itself. Secondly, if the budget deficit can be brought down to less than 5% of GDP next year and keeps on sliding in the following years, there will be less pressure on Malaysia's debt level," Zahidi said.

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U Mobile pledges to avoid future service disruption

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 05:27 PM PDT



PETALING JAYA: While U Mobile Sdn Bhd's major service disruption on Monday raises concerns about the stability of its network, chief executive officer Dr Kaizad Heerjee has assured that plans are in p lace to avoid future recurrences.

"We acknowledge that U Mobile has let down our customers as they expect better service from us. We have to redouble our efforts to rebuild their confidence in U Mobile ,'' he told StarBiz.

He declined to say ho w much more investments was needed or how much revenue the company had lost during the disruption as the priority was to keep its users on the network.

"Our technical team is monitoring the network closely and working on stabilising the service,'' a notice on the U Mobile website said yesterday.

To compensate its over one million users, U Mobile will offer free SMS for a 24-hour period on Nov 10, Dec 10 and Jan 10. In addition, data users will get free 500MB monthly for three months starting Nov 10.

"It was an unexpected glitch that came about, and in a way, it triggered the technical systems to fall over. So basically, it took a while to recover,' ' Kaizad said.

He pointed out that "no mobile operator can guarantee there will be no outages as networks are not 100% foolproof.

However, what we need to do is to enhance our network contingency and back-up plan."

For that, he said, investments would be made so that di sruptions would not recur.

"What we are building is the highest speed data network in Malaysia and, for that, we have been upgrading our network for a while now. The technical side is always a challenge but we have learnt from the episode and recovered quickly. We hope we will be able to rebuild customer trust and that is why I took the bold move to send a personal message to them (via Facebook and U Tube). We hope the customer appreciates that we mean it,'' Kaizad said.

He said the "small token (of free SMS and data services) can in no way compensate for the downtime they experienced but our goal is to rebuild customer confidence in U Mobile.''

The disruption occurred just before noon on Monday and, two hours later, the network was restored. However, the surge in traffic forced it down again and it took more than five hours for total restoration.

Since late last year, U Mobile had introduced its new strategi c partner China's ZTE Corp. Earlier, the company worked with Huawei and Ericsson.

Asked about the switch and whether it had anything to do with lower pricing, Kaizad said: "No. We found a strategic partner in ZTE, so pricing is not the only decision. But it is the long-term commitment that ZTE offered. We are also cooperating on products and services, network features and functionality.''

U Mobile has 1,500 base stations and, according to its website, its 2G coverage spans 98% of populated areas in the country.

Singapore Technologies Telemedia (STT) has a 33% stake in U Mobile; Tan Sri Vincent Tan's U Television Sdn Bhd has 62% and Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd 5%. STT owns StarHub, a telco in Singapore.

"We have very solid partners and each brings different capabilities and experiences to U Mobile. STT has a lot of experience in operations and management of mobile business via its StarHub unit, while the Berjaya Group (in which Tan is the controlling shareholder) has its expertise in distribution channels as well as good understanding of the local market. All this brings value to U Mobile,'' he said.

There had also been areas of cooperation between StarHub and U Mobile, he said, adding that "we have brought a lot of innovation to the market place and we are also the only celco that offers free roaming service to Singapore.

The same goes for StarHub users when they come here. It is a unique offering that has never been offered by any of the celcos.''

U Mobile has a partnership for domestic roaming with Celcom Axiata Bhd and recently inked a deal to use Maxis Bhd 3G network.

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Malaysia accedes to Antarctic Treaty Pact

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 08:03 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has officially become a member of the Antarctic Treaty Pact. It is the first Asean country and the 49th nation to do so.

Malaysia's accession to the treaty as a non-consultative party means that it can take part in the decision-making process at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM, conduct scientific expeditions to Antarctica and establish its own research base there.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday hoped this would enhance Malaysia's scientific research efforts and allow findings made by Malaysian researchers in Antarctica to be patented.

Malaysia has since July 2008 been a member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, a committee of the International Council of Science that is in charge of the initiation, promotion and co-ordination of scientific research in Antarctica.

Over 60 scientific expeditions involving Malaysian researchers have been conducted since 1997, when New Zealand opened its Scott Base to Malaysian scientists.

Twelve countries signed the Antarctic Treaty in Washington on Dec 1, 1959. It came into force in 1961.

"It is the Government's hope that Malaysia will be invited as a full consultative party to the ATCM in Australia next year," the statement said. - Bernama

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EPF adhered to procedures in issuing the RM55b loans

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 08:02 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Employees Provident Fund Board (EPF) clarified that all the 13 loans worth RM55.10 billion it granted without Government Guarantee were made in accordance with the procedures set.

The loans were given out within the provision of the EPF Act 1991, which gives EPF the power to provide loans to the Federal and State governments and corporate entities, subject to approval from the EPF Investment Panel and Finance Ministry.

The EPF said in a statement Wednesday in response to several media reports on the Auditor General's (AG) Report 2010 concerning the loans granted without Government Guarantee.

It said the 13 loans consisted of direct lending to the government, government-backed securities and AAA-rated papers that did not require government guarantee.

Direct lending to the government accounted for 39 per cent of the loans, while government supported securities took 48 per cent and the remaining 13 per cent of the loans were to AAA rated companies.

"When assessing a loan application, the EPF will ensure each potential borrower has strong payback capability, good security arrangement and returns that commensurate with the risks profile," it said.

The EPF also stressed it emphasized on its asset quality and in monitoring its loan portfolio, it reviewed its borrowers' financial portfolio annually as well as made visits to project sites.

"All of the loans under RM55.10 billion have demonstrated perfect record in interest servicing and loan repayment," it said. Bernama

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PLUS tells motorists’ travelling during Raya Haji to follow advisory

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 06:49 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: North-South Expressways users are advised to follow the time travel advisory (TTA) issued by PLUS Expressways Sdn Bhd (PLUS) to ensure smooth traffic flow in conjunction with the upcoming Hari Raya Haji celebration.

PLUS managing director Datuk Noorizah Abdul Hamid said the TTA issued previously had managed to reduce traffic congestion and ensure smooth traffic flow in the expressways.

"Road users planning to leave the city Saturday and return Monday should follow the schedule," she said in a statement Wednesday.

Those from Klang Valley heading north on Saturday are advised to start their journey as follows:
* Before noon for destinations in Kedah, Perlis and Penang via Juru;
* Between noon and 3pm for Taiping, Kuala Kangsar and Changkat Jering;
* Between 3pm and 6pm for Ipoh, Simpang Pulai and Gopeng;
* After 6pm for Tapah, Bidor, Slim River and Tanjung Malim.

The TTA for those heading south:
* Before 10am for Skudai, Johor Baharu, Senai and Kulai;
* Between 10am and 1pm for Ayer Hitam, Yong Peng and Tangkak;
* Between 1pm and 3pm for Melaka via Ayer Keroh;
* Between 3pm and 6pm for Tampin and Alor Gajah via Simpang Ampat;
* After 6pm for Senawang, Port Dickson and Seremban.

Noorizah said all vehicles with registration plate numbers ending with an even number were also advised to start their journey before noon and when the clock was at an even number, either at 8am or 10am.

"While vehicles with registration plate numbers ending with an odd number are advised to enter the expressway before noon and when the clock is at an odd number, either 9am or 11am," she said. Bernama

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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''Rum Diary'' one of Depp's bigger box office flops

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 04:32 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com): One of the biggest movie stars in the world suffered one of the biggest box-office flops of his career this weekend.

Even with Johnny Depp, the Hunter S. Thompson-themed ''Rum Diary'' couldn't scrape up more than $5 million at 2,272 North American locations. Considering the movie had a budget of about $45 million, that's a tough opening for the FilmDistrict release.

The movie was also poorly received by filmgoers who did pay to see it, garnering a soft ''C'' score in post-screening surveys conducted by Cinemascore.

Certainly Depp, who has driven Disney's ''Pirates of the Caribbean'' franchise and its ''Alice in Wonderland'' to multi-billion-dollar heights, has had other disappointments.

Last year's ''The Tourist,'' which also starred Angelina Jolie, grossed $67.3 million domestically and $278.3 million worldwide - an impressive number, except the movie cost an estimated $100 million to make.

His 2009 film ''The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'' opened to a shabby $1.6 million. It went on to gross $7.6 million domestically and $61.8 worldwide on a $30 million budget.

And his 2006 ''The Libertine'' fared far worse. It opened to $2.2 million and grossed $4.8 million in North America and $10.8 million worldwide. The film was shot on a modest budget of around $20 million.

And of course, Depp has played Thompson - who he counted as a close personal friend - before, in 1998's ''Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.'' That movie was made for an estimated $18.4 million and grossed only $10.6 million domestically.

Going into the weekend, FilmDistrict had modest expectations for ''Rum Diary.'' The distributor figured that Depp's appeal and Thompson's cult status would help the movie gross between $9 million - $11 million.

Depp, of course, is a huge international star, and the movie has fared well in the few territories it has premiered in abroad, grossing $2.8 million in the Ukraine and Russia.

''The Rum Diary'' also stars Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard and Giovanni Ribisi. Bruce Robinson wrote and directed and Depp co-produced.

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Pixar co-founder says shares Hollywood star with Jobs

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 11:10 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com): Pixar co-founder John Lasseter thanked lots of people when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Tuesday, from his wife to the directors, actors and composers who helped make Pixar the most successful and acclaimed animation studio of its era.

But only once did Lasseter's voice break, and only once did he struggle to find words as he held back tears. That came when he ended his speech by paying tribute to the late Steve Jobs, who bought Pixar from ILM in 1986 and watched as it morphed from a tiny tech company to a creative powerhouse.

''There is one last person I want to share this with, and that is my partner Steve Jobs,'' said a choked-up Lasseter. ''... Without him, Pixar would not exist.''

At their first meeting in 1987, recalled Lasseter, the CalArts grad - who'd won student Academy Awards for short films in 1979 and 1980 - pitched the idea of a short that would demonstrate the capabilities of the computer-animation software that was the young company's specialty.

''I had this crazy idea that toys are alive when you're not around,'' said Lasseter, who outlined the concept that led to the Oscar-winning short ''Tin Toy'' and, later, to the three ''Toy Story'' movies.

''I pitched the whole story to Steve,'' he said. ''And after it was all over, the only thing Steve Jobs ever asked of me was, 'John, make it great.''

Two dozen years later, Pixar is known not for its technical innovations, but as the most creative and successful studio of its day, with Oscars for three shorts and eight features, including ''Up,'' ''The Incredibles'' and ''Finding Nemo.''

Curiously, while Lasseter won Academy Awards as a student, and was given a Special Achievement Oscar for ''Toy Story,'' the last Pixar release not to win the Best Animated Feature prize was the one he directed, ''Cars.'' And Lasseter's 2011 sequel, ''Cars 2,'' is far from the prohibitive favorite that Lee Unkrich's ''Toy Story 3,'' Pete Docter's ''Up'' and Andrew Stanton's ''Wall-E'' were.

Lasseter's ceremony took place in front of the El Capitan theater and came, fittingly, on the day that animated-feature entry forms were due at the Academy.

At a lunch following the ceremony - a private open-air event catered by Lasseter's friend, Food Network chef Guy Fieri - the consensus among category-watchers was that at least 16 films will qualify this year, leading to only the third slate of five nominees in the category's 10-year history. (Fewer than 16 eligible films means four nominees - or in previous years, three.)

The caveat: There are enough entries for five nominees if the Academy's Short Films and Feature Animation Branch rules that three features made using the motion-capture technique - ''The Adventures of Tintin,'' ''Mars Needs Moms'' and ''Happy Feet Two'' - qualify as animated.

Lasseter's film ''Cars 2'' is certainly in the running for the top Oscar, though it's expected to have a tough fight in an unsettled year for animation.

Among its rivals: DreamWorks' ''Puss in Boots,'' Steven Spielberg's ''Tintin'' and Gore Verbinski's ''Rango.''

At the star ceremony, of course, nobody was working out Lasseter's Oscar chances. Instead, the man of the hour was lauded by a group that included Owen Wilson, Randy Newman, Don Rickles and the man who has been in more Pixar films than anybody else, John Ratzenberger.

The reason he's been in all 12 Pixar features, insisted Ratzenberger, dates back to a kindergarten trip Lasseter took to a state fair at which Ratzenberger was making a living as a tap dancer. With a straight face, the actor best known for ''Cheers'' said that he saved the young Lasseter from being crushed by a toppling funnel-cake machine.

''He looked up at me and said, 'Mister, someday I'm gonna pay you back,''' claimed Ratzenberger.

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Amanda Seyfried to play porn star Linda Lovelace

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 10:44 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com): Amanda Seyfried is going from ''In Time'' to ''Deep Throat.''

The actress has been cast to play the lead role in the porn-star biopic ''Lovelace,'' TheWrap has confirmed. The deal, however, is not yet closed.

Peter Sarsgaard is in talks to play Linda Lovelace's coercive husband, the pornographer Chuck Traynor.

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (''The Celluloid Closet'') are directing a script by W. Merritt Johnson and Andy Bellin. The script is based on ''The Complete Linda Lovelace,'' a book by Eric Danville.

Avi Lerner, Heidi Jo Markel and Laura Rister are producing the movie, which is scheduled to begin production in January.

Kate Hudson was offered the ''Lovelace'' role before she became pregnant. James Franco, who starred in Epstein and Friedman's ''Howl,'' also had been attached.

Lovelace is best known for the 1972 porn film ''Deep Throat.''

The Seyfried movie is one of two Lovelace projects now under way.

The writer-director Matthew Wilder is developing ''Ordeal,'' based on Lovelace's autobiography. Malin Akerman is set to star in that movie.

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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One Voice: Support for the learning disabled

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 03:25 AM PDT

Selected articles published under this column have been compiled into a book.

THE year 2001 was a watershed for the learning disabled community in Malaysia. It marked the birth of One Voice, a monthly column provided by The Star for the learning disabled.

Finally, a space was created in the local media for learning disabled persons and their parents, caregivers as well as advocates to speak with a collective voice.

Up until then, the avenue for them to express their concerns and to seek information was limited.

When a child does not fall neatly into the "normal" category, it can be heartbreaking for the family. More often than not, they do not know where to begin to look for help.

When a person is labelled as having autism, Asperger syndrome, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactive disorder, it can be hard on the ears and heart.

What can parents do? How do they manage? Who and where can they turn to?

This is what One Voice attempts to address. Ten years on, One Voice continues to serve as a channel for the community to have their say, from the challenges of raising children/siblings with special needs to laws governing their right to education, employment and healthcare.

As the co-ordinator of this column, I am ever grateful to the paper for sharing our vision of an inclusive society and supporting us with a column that ensures critical issues confronting the learning disabled are heard.

Hence, the book, One Voice: Learning Disabilities, The Malaysian Experience, 2001-2011. It comprises a selection of articles published in this column, which focuses on family, community, law and education.

The articles were contributed by writers who, in one way or another, were involved with the community.

Coloured by their respective experiences, the stories are a mix of the poignant and stoic, providing sobering facts and figures on the learning disabled community.

I believe the book serves well for parents, teachers, therapists and students of psychology who want to make a difference in the lives of the learning disabled.

It is my sincere wish that more contributors across the nation will come forward and share their stories to make One Voice truly representative of the learning disabled in Malaysia.

Admittedly, working on a voluntary basis and encumbered by time and distance, there had been occasions when One Voice was overtly Klang Valley-centric. This can be remedied if there are volunteers who are willing to travel the length and breadth of the country and report on the respective States' experiences.

It is my great hope that this book will inspire readers to contribute articles, keeping the column relevant and current.

Last but not least, I owe my thanks to the many individuals and organisations that have given their undivided support to the learning disabled community.

Together we can erase the divide and embrace all Malaysians, disabled and non–disabled, as one.

One Voice: Learning Disabilities, The Malaysian Experience, 2001-2011 will be launched on Nov 26 at the KL Convention Centre in conjunction with Dignity and Services' fund-raising event to commemorate its 20th year as an advocacy movement for the learning disabled.

All proceeds from the sale of the book (at RM10 per copy) will go towards promoting the causes of the learning disabled under Dignity and Services. To order, e-mail dignityandservices@yahoo.com or call 03-7725 5569/019-3458249.

Feedback on the column can be sent to onevoice4ld@gmail.com. For enquiries of services and support groups, please call Dignity and Services (03-7725 5569).

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A taste of country

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 03:16 AM PDT

Taylor Swift is giving country music a cool edge.

TAYLOR Swift is leading the charge of country music artistes dominating not just the pop charts but worldwide radio airplay too.

The bona fide country star will be receiving the Billboard Woman Of The Year next month for producing hit after hit this year and being the biggest selling albums artiste in any genre for the last 12 months.

Keeping Swift company in the mainstream music world from the country realm are the likes of Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, Blake Shelton and Scotty McCreery.

Somehow, these talented singers have managed to capture the hearts and minds of the masses, whether it is through reality shows like American Idol or The Voice or by coming up with tunes that have killer hooks and irresistible appeal.

By the looks of things, the country genre is having an influence on pop music too. Why else would Lady Gaga have a country version of her single Born This Way or Rihanna debut her song California King Bed at the Country Music Awards?

Galaxie magazine takes a look at how country music has made its presence felt in the pop scene today in the Nov 1-15 issue thanks to artistes like Swift, Shelton, Lady A, McCreery, The Band Perry, Lauren Alaina and Carrie Underwood.

The latest issue also features an exclusive interview with Justin Timberlake on his acting and singing careers.

All Time Low and violin virtuoso David Garrett took time out to chat with Galaxie about working with Rivers Cuomo and making "a good crossover CD".

What's more, fans of The Twilight Saga will not want to miss this issue as Galaxie is giving away passes to a special screening of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 plus awesome goodies like Terra Nova survival kits and Foster The People's debut album, Torches.

Packed into this issue as well is the juiciest gossip from the East and the West plus the lowdown on the latest in music, movies and TV.

Galaxie, which is owned by Star Publications (M) Bhd, also has a presence online at galaxieblog.com.my, which is packed with celebrity news and views. Greyson Chance fans will want to head on over there right now for a chance to win passes to his live performance in Kuala Lumpur.

For even more updates on the magazine, its blog and the entertainment world, follow Galaxie on Twitter (twitter.com/galaxiemag) and visit its Facebook page (facebook.com/GalaxieMagazine). – Evelyn Teo

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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More avenues to renew licences

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 04:27 AM PDT

ALL licences issued by the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) can be renewed at four shopping centres in Petaling Jaya when MBPJ starts the "Jom Bayar Lesen" campaign from Nov 9 to Dec 2.

MBPJ deputy secretary Ahmad Mohaayen Said said the campaign was part of the council's efforts to ease the congestion at counters during the licensing renewal period from October to December.

"This will not only expedite licence renewal, but also encourage licence holders to renew before the year ends.

"This time, we are setting up mobile counters on specific dates and in malls to facilitate the renewal of licences," said Ahmad, urging business owners to take advantage of this campaign and not give further excuses for not renewing their licences on time.

Mobile counters will be made available at the following malls from 11am to 6pm: Amcorp Mall on Nov 9 and 10, Tropicana City Mall on Nov 15 and 16, One Utama Shopping Centre on Nov 26 and 27, Giant Kelana Jaya on Nov 1 and 2.

Members of the public can also pay compounds and summonses issued by the council at these mobile counters.

Among other services provided include application for new business licence, application for advertising, banners and bunting licences, application and renewal of entertainment licence, new application and renewal of hawker licence, payment of assessment, compound and summonses (issued by MBPJ).

"We have been very lenient towards licence holders as those who fail to renew their licence on time are given an extension till March 31, which will be further extended to June 30 if they fail to do it still," Ahmad said.

However, he said this time the council would come down hard on those who failed to renew their licences on time, by charging a processing fee of RM50 for each renewal.

"We hope this will encourage licence holders to move fast and not wait until their licence expires on Dec 31," he said.

Ahmad said statistics for last year revealed a total of 4,577 business-related licences worth RM2mil had been terminated as licence holders failed to renew them by July 1.

"For next year, the council is expecting 37,693 licences to be renewed, of which 15,258 are commercial licences, 7,880 for advertising, 624 for entertainment, 7,650 for dogs and 6,281 for traders," he said, adding that under the council's 2012 budget plan, dog licences can be renewed for up to three years.

"Up to October, we have issued 5,676 compound notices to traders and hawkers for failing to renew their licences," said Ahmad, adding that the council expected to collect RM20mil in revenue from all licence holders for next year.

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MPKj aims to generate more income next year

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 04:26 AM PDT

COUNCILLORS at the Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) have suggested that the council generate revenue for 2012 via the issuance of permits, stricter enforcement and legalising renovation works.

Councillor Lee Learn Eng said as at end of August, the council had generated RM8mil via the licensing department and RM114,500 via issuance of parking permits.

"We can also generate RM900,000 from parking permits and RM1.35mil from billboards next year.

"To ensure this, there must be strict enforcement," he said.

In the meeting that lasted for over four hours, Kajang assemblyman Lee Kim Sin suggested that council members discuss in a macro way and set a goal.

"We are focusing too much on the technical aspects, which could go on for two days and still there will be no conclusion.

"We have to think a few steps ahead. There were too many debates on issues under the finance department," he said.

Kim Sin suggested the council make an analysis of what had happened (in terms of budget) and see which methods were successful and which were not.

"For example, we should focus on the flood problem and set a target; the same goes for problems pertaining to infrastructure," he said.

The meeting will resume on Friday.

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