Jumaat, 4 November 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Kim Kardashian cancels Australian tour

Posted: 03 Nov 2011 11:54 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Attention, Australia: Kim Kardashian hasn't just left the building, she's left the country.

The ''Keeping Up With the Kardashians'' star has abruptly abandoned her promotional blitz Down Under, amid questions about her divorce from NBA player Kris Humphries.

''She went to Australia to honor her commitments,'' a statement from her personal publicist reads. ''However, during this very difficult time she felt it'd be best to return home to close friends and family.''

Kardashian arrived in Sydney with her sister Khloe on Tuesday, and managed to promote her Kardashian Kollection line of handbags at events in venues such as Sydney nightclub Hugo's and the Westfield Miranda shopping center.

However, the reality TV personality has reportedly decided to fly back to Los Angeles either Thursday or Friday. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Kardashian is ''devastated'' by her impending divorce from Humphries and is unable to fulfill the remainder of her obligations in Australia - which included an appearance at the Melbourne Cup Carnival Saturday.

Kardashian, 31, filed for divorce from Humphries Monday, after just 72 days of marriage.

The split has generated an onslaught of headlines, including numerous suggestions that the union was a publicity stunt, and reports that Kardashian had profited handsomely from the wedding.

As reported earlier, Kardashian and Humphries raked in about $18 million from the wedding, including $2.5 million from People for the wedding photos, and $15 million for the two-part E! special ''Kim's Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event.''

In a statement following the split, Kardashian lamented, ''I hope everyone understands this was not an easy decision. I had hoped this marriage was forever, but sometimes things don't work out as planned. We remain friends and wish each other the best.''

Spokespersons for Kardashian did not immediately respond to TheWrap's request for comment.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Papandreou wins vote, Greece still faces uncertainty


ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou survived a parliamentary confidence vote on Saturday, avoiding snap elections which would have torpedoed Greece's debt crisis bailout deal and inflamed the euro zone's economic crisis.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou raises his hand to vote in a confidence vote in the Greek parliament, next to Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos in Athens November 5, 2011. (REUTERS/John Kolesidis)

But the nation remained mired in political, social and economic turmoil and Papandreou signalled he would stand down, calling for a new coalition to ram the 130-billion-euro bailout deal through parliament and avoid the nation going bankrupt.

Papandreou's socialist government won with 153 votes in the 300 member parliament, and a rebellion by some dissidents in his PASOK party failed to materialise after he indicated that his term as prime minister was close to an end.

"The last thing I care about is my post. I don't care even if I am not re-elected. The time has come to make a new effort ... I never thought of politics as a profession," he told parliament before the vote.

Papandreou said the new coalition government should secure the approval of the euro zone bailout deal, the nation's last financial lifeline, which is also the euro zone's central plank to prevent economic crisis devastating the bloc's bigger economies.

The leaders of France and Germany told Papandreou earlier this week that Greece would not get one more cent of EU aid if it failed to approve the bailout, meaning that the state would run out of money in December.

Papandreou told parliament that he would go to the Greek president on Saturday to discuss formation of a broader-based government that would secure the euro zone bailout, adding that he was willing to discuss who would head a new administration.

The meeting will take place at noon (1000 GMT).


Papandreou dismissed demands for rapid elections as championed by the opposition. "Elections at this moment not only equal disaster but could not take place in the best interest of the people," he said.

"There is one solution. To support the (EU bailout) deal with a multiparty approach, without elections, with a strong government."

Greece has been racked by torment since soon after Papandreou won power in 2009 and revealed that the real budget deficit was three times bigger than original estimates put out by his conservative predecessor.

International investors took fright, Greece's borrowing costs soared and Papandreou was forced to go cap in hand last year to the only bodies still wiling to lend at affordable rates -- the European Union and IMF.

In return they demanded wave after wave of spending cuts, tax rises and pension cuts which provoked widespread protests on the streets on Greek cities, with bloody clashes between demonstrators and riot police in Athens.

On financial markets, analysts said Papandreou's victory had been Pyrrhic, and many ordinary Greeks said they were disenchanted with Byzantine political wrangling that was not addressing their basic shortage of jobs and cash.

"Even though he has won the vote, he engaged in a game of brinkmanship ... All that means to me is that his days in power are numbered," said Jurgen Odenius at Prudential Fixed Income, in Newark, New Jersey.

"At least, though, the worst has been avoided, where no new government was formed and Greece gets pushed into default. So at least we're back to where we were before."

Sources said Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos has won the backing of leaders of some smaller parties to support a new coalition that he would head. The new government would call early elections in a few months after the bailout had been secured, sources close to the deal told Reuters.

The leaders of the far-right LAOS party and another centre-right party indicated after Papandreou's speech that they would cooperate in a new coalition.

In parliament, Venizelos said a new government should rule until next February and then call elections.

Opposition leader Antonis Samaras counted his New Democracy party out of the coalition, saying Papandreou had spurned his call for a national unity government. "Mr Papandreou rejected our proposal. The only solution is elections," he said.

Papandreou provoked uproar at home and abroad on Monday when he announced a referendum on the bailout, agreed by euro zone leaders only last week.

Under heavy domestic and international pressure, he backed down on a vote which could well have rejected the deal, potentially sinking euro zone leaders' attempts to stop the debt crisis devastating economies such as Italy and Spain.

The government officially announced earlier on Friday that the referendum would not go ahead.

(Additional reporting by Reuters Athens bureau; Writing by David Stamp)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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EXCLUSIVE - Greek finance minister plans to forge coalition: sources


ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has struck a deal to stand down and let Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos form a coalition government aimed at winning parliamentary approval for Greece's latest bailout, sources close to the deal told Reuters on Friday.

Greece's Finance minister Evangelos Venizelos delivers a speech during a parliament session in Athens November 3,2011. Greek PM George Papandreou has struck a deal to stand down and let Finance Minister Venizelos form a coalition government aiming to win parliamentary approval for Greece's latest bailout, sources said. (REUTERS/Panagiotis Tzamaros)

Forming a coalition would avoid the risk of immediate snap elections that would push Greece closer to a default on its debts and would give Athens breathing space to approve the bailout to receive a vital sixth tranche of aid from lenders.

The sources said Venizelos had won the backing of leaders of some smaller parties to support the coalition before calling early elections in a few months.

They stressed that the deal was conditional on Papandreou confirming he would stand down when he speaks in parliament on Friday before a confidence vote on his socialist government.

"There is some concern that Papandreou may change his mind at the last minute and all eyes are on his speech in parliament," one source said, requesting anonymity.

The new government would probably exclude the main opposition conservative New Democracy party, the sources said.

Venizelos, a member of the ruling PASOK socialist party, would be prime minister of the new coalition government and it was not clear whether other parties would be given portfolios.

Papandreou provoked uproar at home and abroad on Monday when he announced a referendum on the 130 billion euro bailout, agreed by euro zone leaders only last week.

Under heavy domestic and international pressure, he backed down on a popular vote which could well have rejected the deal, cutting off Greece's last financial lifeline and potentially sinking euro zone leaders' attempts to stop the debt crisis spreading to bigger economies such as Italy and Spain.

The government officially announced earlier on Friday that the referendum would not go ahead.

The conservative New Democracy party had proposed a national unity government with the sole aim of forcing the bailout through parliament before early elections.

Venizelos, an ambitious and powerful Socialist who is leading talks with the EU, the IMF and banks on the country's bailout and debt swap deals, had broken ranks with Papandreou over the referendum and argued it was not what Greece needed.

Greece is due a vital 8 billion euros aid instalment this month, but exasperated European leaders have warned the country will not receive any more aid until it votes to meet its commitments to the euro zone.

Venizelos had been kept in the dark by Papandreou on the plan to announce a referendum, a Greek government official has said.

Papandreou is expected to scrape through the confidence vote, but analysts say it could go down to the wire.

PASOK has 152 deputies in the 300-member parliament. One lawmaker said on Thursday she would not back the government in the confidence vote, but on Friday softened her line.

The vote comes against a backdrop of growing anger in Greece over a bitter austerity bill of higher taxes and pay cuts while the country struggles through a fourth year of recession. Exasperated Greeks who blame a corrupt political elite for the crisis have held frequent protests and strikes.

(Reporting by Dina Kyriakidou; editing by David Stamp)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Greek PM to meet President on coalition talks Saturday


Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou addresses lawmakers in the parliament prior to a confidence vote in Athens November 4, 2011. (REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will meet the country's President later on Saturday to kickstart talks to form a coalition government with opposition parties, the PM's office said in a statement.

"Prime Minister George Papandreou will be received tomorrow at 12.00 (1000 GMT) by the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias," the PM's office said in a statement, shortly after Papandreou won a parliamentary vote of confidence.

(Reporting by Harry Papachristou)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Shuttlers Zulfadli and Wei Keat on course to being world junior champs

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 04:27 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Shuttlers Zulfadli Zulkifli and Nelson Heg Wei Keat are another step closer to realising their dreams of being history-makers when they checked into the semi-finals of the World Junior Championships in Taipei yesterday.

Zulfadli had to switch his style of play after a disastrous start to beat Indonesia's Wisnu Yuli Prasetyo 10-21, 21-10, 21-16 in a 43-minute quarter-final match.

The 18-year-old Zulfadli will take on Japan's Kento Momota today to justify his top billing.

KLRC's Zulfadli created a first for Malaysia when he nailed the Asian junior title in April. Now, hopes are high on him to be crowned the country's first world junior champion.

Zulfadli, however, does not want to think too far ahead. He'd rather focus on Kento, a player he has beaten twice this year – in the semi-final of the Asian junior meet and in the fourth round of last year's world meet in Mexico. Both matches, however, went down to the wire.

"The match with Kento will be tight. He is a fighter and I can't afford take it easy against him," Zulfadli said in a telephone interview.

The other semi-final will see defending champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark taking on India's Sameer Verma.

Like Zulfadli, the bubbly Wei Keat also has a good chance to make history by becoming the only player to win two titles in a single world junior tournament.

Wei Keat muscled his way into two semi-finals within four hours yesterday.

First, he partnered Teo Ee Yi to outplay Lukhi Apri Nugroho-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo of Indonesia 21-17, 21-19 in the boys' doubles. They will take on Taiwan's Tien Tzu-chieh-Wang Chih-hao for a place in the final.

Theh, Wei Keat combined with Chow Mei Kuan to knock out Denmark's Kasper Antonsen-Line Kjaersfeldt 21-18, 21-17 in the mixed doubles event.

They now face a tricky match against Indonesians Ronald Alexander-Nuraidah Tiara Rosalia.

Quarter-finals results

Boys' singles: Viktor Axelsen (Den) bt Khosit Phetpradab (Tha) 21-7, 21-18; Sameer Verma (Ina) bt Ng Ka Long (Hkg) 21-15, 21-16; Kento Momota (Jpn) bt Shesar Hiren Rhustavito (Ina) 16-21, 21-15, 21-15; Zulfadli Zulkifli (Mas) bt Wisnu Yuli Prasetyo (Ina) 10-21, 21-10, 21-16.

Boys' doubles: Huang Po-jui-Lin Chia-yu (Tpe) bt Takuto Inoue-Yuki Kanebo (Jpn) 21-15, 21-18; Tien Tzu-chieh-Wang Chih-hao (Tpe) bt Lucas Corvee-Joris Grosjean (Fra) 21-15, 21-16; Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Teo Ee Yi (Mas) bt Lukhi Apri Nugroho-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (Ina) 21-17, 21-19; Ronald Alexander-Selvanus Geh (Ina) bt Lee Chun Hei-Ng Ka Long (Hkg) 21-11, 17-21, 21-19.

Girls' singles: Caralina Marin (Spa) bt Romina Gabdullina (Rus) 21-14, 21-17; Inthanon Ratchanok (Tha) bt Christin Tsai (Can) 21-10, 21-15; Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn) bt Sonia Cheah (Mas) 21-19, 24-22; Elyzabeth Purwaningyas (Ina) bt Yuki Fukushima (Jpn) 22-20, 10-21, 21-19.

Girls' doubles: Shella Devi Aulia-Anggia Shitta Awanda (Ina) bt Chae Yoo-jung-Kim Chan-mi (Kor) 16-21, 21-18, 21-14; Han So-yean-Min Kim-hyo (Kor) bt Pacharakamol Arkorn-Kititharakul Chonthicha (Tha) 21-18, 21-12; Lee So-hee-Shin Seung-chan (Kor) bt Sonia Cheah-Yang Li Lian (Mas) 21-14, 21-12; Andini Suci Rizky-Nuraidah Tiara Rosalia (Ina) bt Yuki Fukushima-Naru Shinoya (Jpn) 21-14, 21-17.

Mixed doubles: Alfian Eko Prasetya-Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja (Ina) bt Lee Hong-je-Shin Seung-chan (Kor) 16-21, 21-16, 21-19; Ronald Alexander-Nuraidah Tiara Rosalia (Ina) bt Wannawat Ampunsuwan-Kititharakul Chonthicha (Tha) 21-15, 21-16; Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Chow Mei Kuan (Mas) bt Kasper Antonsen-Line Kjaersfeldt (Den) 21-18, 21-17; Choi Sol-kyu-Chae Yoo-jung (Kor) bt Lee Chun Hei-Cheung Ngan Yi (Hkg) 21-15, 21-10.

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Squash: Wee Wern delays return flight after stunning win over Serme

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 04:35 PM PDT

ROTTERDAM: Low Wee Wern was so sure she would not get past the second round of the World Squash Championships that she confirmed her flight back to Penang yesterday.

But after packing off world No. 9 Camilee Serme of France to advance into the quarter-finals of the World Squash Championships at the Luxor Theatre here on Thursday, she will have a bit of rescheduling to do.

The Penangite was in inspired form as she stormed to an 11-4, 12-10, 2-11, 11-7 win in 51 minutes – her first over the Frenchwoman in three meetings.

"I actually thought I would lose to Camille that I confirmed my return flight to Penang on Friday," she said.

"But it looks like I've surprised everyone, me included, by playing my best game of squash to beat Camille for the first time. It's great to be back in top form and scoring two stunning wins in a week."

Last week, she scored the biggest upset of her career by ousting world No. 4 Laura Massaro in the second round of the Qatar Classic.

What makes her achievements even more amazing is that she had been struggling to find her form in the last five months.

Now, everything is falling into place. "First I upset Massaro, the US Open winner, and it helped improve my world ranking from 21st last month to 14th this month," she said.

"Now, after beating Camille for the first time in the world meet, I hope to break into the top 10 next month." The 21-year-old Wee Wern will face four-time World Open runner-up Natalie Grinham of Holland in the last eight.

World No. 10 Natalie, the mother of a child, scored an upset of her own, taking out world No. 4 Madeline Perry of Ireland 11-6, 11-5, 11-8 in 36 minutes. Wee Wern last played Natalie in the first round of the world meet in Egypt last year and won 3-2.

"I beat Natalie in the first round of the world meet last year and I can beat her again to reach the semi-finals here," said Wee Wern.

Defending champion Nicol David, meanwhile, will be treading with caution when she faces sixth seed Kasey Brown in the quarter-finals.

Brown upset Nicol in the quarter-finals of the US Open last month.

In the men's competition, four-time world champion and fifth seed Amr Shabana of Egypt came back from two sets down to beat compatriot Hisham Ashour 3-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 to set up a quarter-final clash against fourth seed James Willstrop of England.

Willstrop eliminated reigning world junior champion Marwan El Shorbagy 11-8, 11-3, 11-0.

World No. 2 Ramy Ashour of Egypt also had to claw back from the brink of defeat to beat Alister Walker of England 8-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-3 for a place in the last eight.

The Egyptian takes on Frenchman Gregory Gaultier for a place in the semi-finals.

Defending champion Nick Matthew of England will square off with compatriot Peter Barker in the other quarter-final match.



Third round: James Willstrop (Eng) bt Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) 11-8, 11-3, 11-0; Amr Shabana (Egy) bt Hisham Ashour (Egy) 3-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-5; Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt Laurens Jan Anjema (Hol) 8-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-7; Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt Alister Walker (Bot) 8-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-3.


Second round: Low Wee Wern (Mas) bt Camille Serme (Fra) 11-4, 12-10, 2-11, 11-7; Natalie Grinham (Hol) bt Madeline Perry (Ire) 11-6, 11-5, 11-8.

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After 145 players, Project 2013 squad almost ready

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 03:39 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: After two painstaking years – and 145 players later – the Project 2013 squad is almost complete.

And today, Malaysians can catch a glimpse of their talent and potential when they face Australia in the opening match of the Sultan of Johor Cup.

These two teams met four times when Malaysia went on a Tour Down Under in June. The Aussies won three matches and the other was drawn.

Advantage Australia.

But don't tell that to coach K. Dharmaraj, who clearly feels that his team are up to the challenge, including meeting the target of a top-two finish.

"We are taking it one match at a time. If we beat the teams here, it will show that we have progressed," he said.

"Let's not talk about the top-two finish as we are preparing for the Junior Asia Cup, which will serve as the qualifier for the 2013 Junior World Cup.

"We have to beat the likes of India, Pakistan and South Korea here so that we will have the psychological advantage at the Asian qualifiers, which will be held in Malacca next May.

"So let's start by beating Australia first."

Dharmaraj has handled the team since they won the SEA Cup in 2009 and has had to sieve through 145 players, before arriving at his final 28.

"The core players from the 2009 squad are Mohd Noor Faeez, Amir Farid, Fitri Saari and Izzat Sumantri. Faisal only joined us a year later," he said.

"From the 18 players we have named for this tournament, 14 will still be eligible to play in the 2013 Junior World Cup. The four exceptions being Amir, Mohd Ramadhan, Izzat and Faeez."

For today's match, Dharmaraj is likely to opt for Hazrul Faiz in goal, with Faiz Helmi as the sweeper.

The defence is likely to comprise skipper Mohd Noor Faeez, Kavin Karthik and Izat Hakimi.

Fitri Saari is likely to get the nod to join Mohd Azri and Izzat in midfield.

Amir, Syamim Yusof and Mohd Ramadhan should start upfront.

"We need the fans to be behind us. I hope hockey fans here will be rally behind the team throughout the tournament and cheer us on," said Dharmaraj.

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The Star Online: Business

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Uncertainty prevails

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 04:55 PM PDT

REVIEW: Overnight Wall Street ended mixed but the closely-watched Dow eked out a small positive note, climbing 22.56 points to 12,231.11, supported by gains in Merck & Co Inc and Chevron Corp amid better-than-expected financial results.

Over on the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil futures sagged 64 cents to US$93.32 as uncertainty that the latest European Union rescue plan would resolve the region's debt crisis sparked a bout of profit-taking activity following the recent steep rally.

In the absence of clear direction from the United States, Asian equities fell and commodities slipped, as the dollar spiked to a three-month high following Japan's intervention in the currency market, prompting investors to book profits.

Mirroring the sluggish regional trend, Bursa Malaysia's leading indicator, the FBM Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (FBM KLCI) quickly retreated into the negative territory, despite opening the week up 2.84 points to 1,484.66.

Trading was lacklustre and it stayed that way until mid-afternoon, where institutional players emerged suddenly to cover their short positions by bidding the blue chips.

Apparently, their action helped the local bourse reversing early losses to register a gain of 10.07 points to 1,491.89, also bucking the overall weakness in Asian stocks on Monday.

Unfortunately, the upward thrust could not be sustained the next day, as persistent selling in offshore equities, led by overnight Wall Street after euphoria over European measures to resolve the debt crisis faded and doubt took hold, continued to pressure the local market sentiment.

News of MF Global Holdings Ltd, the futures broker that made big bets on European sovereign debt, filed for US Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, added to the downbeat note.

Against the negative backdrop, the local bourse dived 16.25 points to 1,475.64 in the wake of fresh liquidation on Tuesday.

Thereafter, profit taking selling dominated the floor amid dearth of fresh market-stimulating leads on the horizon and losses in the quality issues dragged the FBM KLCI down 4.69 points to 1,470.95 and an extra 8.58 points to 1,462.37 on Thursday before rebounding 15.14 points to 1.477.51 on renewed bargain hunting yesterday, encouraged by easing worries about eurozone after Greece backed away from a proposed referendum that threatened its membership in the euro and the European Central Bank cut interest rates.

Statistics: Week-on-week, the principal index eased 4.31 points, or 0.3% to 1,477.51 yesterday, against 1,481.82 on Oct 28.

Total turnover for the regular week stood at 8.148 billion shares worth RM7.222bil, compared with 5.944 billion units valued at RM7.098bil changed hands during the four-day holiday-shortened previous week.

Technical indicators: After flashing a short-term sell at the top, the oscillator per cent K and the oscillator per cent D of the daily slow-stochastic momentum index retraced further to settle at 35% and 47% respectively yesterday.

Despite retaining the buy signal, the daily moving average convergence/divergence (MACD) histogram had indicated a tentative bearish divergence pictogram.

On the opposite, the 14-day relative strength index touched a low of 53 before ticking up slightly to finish at 58 points yesterday.

Elsewhere, weekly indicators were positive, with the weekly slow-stochastic momentum keeping the buy signal and the weekly MACD on the verge of crossing above the weekly trigger line.

Outlook: Bursa tripped into correction mode, with the FBM KLCI retracing from the 1,493.08 level on Monday to a low of 1,452.64 on Thursday before halting.

The pullback in the key index the past several days was largely attributed to profit-taking activity after a stellar rally and although it had regained some semblance of calm apparently, uncertainty prevails.

Uncertainty at this moment entails risks as there may be a delay in the implementation of policies to resolve the eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Hence, it is best to exercise caution in the market place.

Based on the daily bar chart, the recovery from the recent ebb of 1,310.53 came to a temporary halt soon after testing the 100-day simple moving average (SMA) line on Monday. Despite the recent correction, the FBM KLCI still maintains a pretty comfortable position above the 21-day SMA and the 50-day SMA. However, we remain neutral, as the market continues to be pressure by the 100-day SMA and the 200-day SMA remains intact.

Technically, the mixed signal suggests the local bourse will probably be range-bound in the immediate term, pending a clearer picture to emerge from the eurozone.

Initial resistance can be expected at 1,493.28, followed by the 1,510.43, of which a successful penetration may prompt us to shift the outlook to bullish, enroute to the 1,545 points. The upper hurdle is envisaged at the 1,565-1,566 points band, and the next, at 1,580 points.

Important support is resting at 1,446.91 points and the lower floor is seen at 1,544 points.

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Ad spending going strong in Q3

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 04:54 PM PDT

ADVERTISING spending on media in the country maintained a good growth momentum in the third quarter (Q3) even as consumer confidence began to wane. According to market research firm Nielsen Malaysia, it grew 11.3% year-on-year to RM2.8bil in that period.

The double-digit growth came at a time when consumers seemed to be more cautious in spending. The Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index registered a nine-point drop during the same quarter the biggest quarterly decline in three years. Less than a third of online consumers polled felt that the next 12 months was the right time to buy items they wanted.

Girish Menon, chief executive officer of media specialist GroupM Malaysia, says advertisers do not cut their spending based on consumer confidence numbers. "But they will be forced to review their spending if the revenue numbers are not meeting expectations," he tells StarBizWeek.

"If there is a drop in confidence, usually the impact will be first seen in some leading indicators like real estate and automobile purchases. Usually, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and basic services like telcos' will not be seriously affected, as people will not sacrifice their daily basic' requirements."

For the first nine months of the year, advertising expenditure (adex) rose 13.4% to RM7.8bil compared with last year's corresponding period.

If the momentum continues in the fourth quarter, 2011 would see an adex growth that is almost as strong as last year's 15.8% growth. (Note that the 15.8% growth figure excluded pay TV, as Nielsen only began monitoring Astro channels in 2010.)

Menon reckons overall growth of adex is not likely to exceed 14% this year.

"Under normal circumstances, if we had achieved 13%-14% growth by September, we would have expected a strong push during the fourth quarter, coinciding with the year-end build-up (festive season, pre-Chinese New Year campaigns).

"However, with recent negative sentiments in Europe, many multinational advertisers are being a bit more cautious. Even if they are not actively cutting budgets, they are certainly not going for their stretch' numbers," he says.

On Monday, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development lowered its growth projections for the euro-area economy, saying it might grow 1.6% this year and 0.3% in 2012 instead of the 2% forecast earlier for each year.

Starcom Mediavest Group Malaysia boss Ranga Somanathan, who is also the Media Specialists Association president, cited certain sectors as contributing to the good adex growth for year-to-date September.

They included the toiletries sector, which was the largest sector spender with the highest absolute adex growth year-on-year, and automotive, which saw the highest percentage growth year-on-year (the biggest category growth came from passenger cars of 1,001-2,000cc).

Other contributing sectors were finance (mainly boosted by the insurance services category), retail (mainly contributed by automotive retail and fast-food centre categories) and entertainment (with key contribution from the photography segment).

Ranga expects adex growth for the entire year to remain strong within 13%-15% if the general election is called this quarter, along with the contribution from year-end festive season sales and the travel and tourism industry.

Noting that the reasons of falling confidence vary, he believes that the consumer is still very resilient.

"The domestic consumption is still strong. Off-take data across most categories, especially essentials like food and beverage, beauty and healthcare, and financial services (insurance) are trending positive.

"Given the people-friendly budget, Economic Transformation Programme/Government Transformation Programme, and people-friendly incentives in conjunction with the election, the consumer behaviour will be still optimistic even though consumer sentiment (confidence) will be soft.

"This contradiction was noted during the 2008 economic situation," says Ranga.

He says that with annualised gross domestic product (GDP) growth to be around 5%, the adex growth will continue to be robust.

According to Bank Negara, GDP growth in Q2 slowed to 4% compared with 4.9% in Q1; but last month Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said a minimum target growth of 5% for the year was still achievable.

Meanwhile, the Nielsen online poll conducted in September shows that almost half of online consumers felt the nation was in economic recession - an eight-percentage point jump from the previous quarter. Optimism on personal finances in the coming 12 months dropped slightly.

Nielsen Malaysia managing director Kow Kuan Hua says the majority of FMCG goods categories tracked by Nielsen (61 out of 76 categories) showed a month-on-month decline in sales value in September, reflecting consumers' wait-and-see' attitude.

"The jury will only be out in the fourth quarter whether this is a one-time slowdown or otherwise.

"For now, consumers are deferring plans to purchase discretionary items such as major durable goods," Kow says.

Despite the nine-point drop in online consumer confidence, Malaysia reported the 10th highest consumer confidence index score (along with Norway) among the 56 countries surveyed by Nielsen. In fact, the country has maintained an index score of above 100 since the third quarter of last year.

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SDB in Penang debut with By The Sea

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 04:54 PM PDT

SELANGOR Dredging Bhd (SDB) will be making its debut on Penang shores, literally, with a breezy project known as By The Sea.

The foray into the island's famed Batu Ferringhi beach comes just several months after the launch of its fourth project in Singapore.

The Kuala Lumpur-based developer has completed several projects in the Klang Valley.

"I believe I could do something different with this piece of land in Penang," says SDB managing director Teh Lip Kim.

The move by the property developer is seen as a strategy to extend its branding into cities favoured by the expatriate community and Asia's well-heeled, says the Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association Malaysia (Rehda) Penang chief Datuk Jerry Chan.

According to a survey by ECA International on 254 cities, George Town, the capital of Penang, is the eighth most liveable city in Asia, while Singapore is Asia's most liveable city.

The project comprises 138 units of serviced suites spread over three blocks of between five and 11 storeys. There will also be a low-rise commercial block to provide basic amenities to the residents and the public. The site of the development is located between Bank Negara's holiday complex and a community mosque.

The two hotels closest to it are the Hard Rock Hotel and Park Royal, both of which are just less than five minutes' walk away in opposite directions.

Teh's confidence in providing something different stems from the fact there will be two major focal points in the development that sits on 4.7 acres.

The first focal point of the RM230mil development is the beach which it will share with some of the island's most popular five-star and boutique hotels Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Spa and Resort, Golden Sands Resort, Hard Rock Hotel and the newly-refurbished Lone Pine.

Her second focal point is Sungai Satu, or One River, which flows through the land. The development will use the river as a border to separate the suites from the amenities block. The river, which flows past a cluster of squatters, will be cleaned and rehabilitated by the time it flows into By The Sea.

"The rubbish will be cleared and the water clarity improved considerably by the time it flows past the project and enters the sea," she says. The river banks will be landscaped to add to the serenity and ambience of By The Sea.

Because beaches are public areas, the project will be set 60 m inland in order to create a park and a recreation area for residents.

"There will be value in the open space," Teh says.

Priced at an average of RM1,200 per sq ft, By The Sea will be setting new benchmark in a predominantly tourist-centred area dotted by hotels. It is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016.

At that price and in today's uncertain economic climate, Teh says she is targeting the Penang diaspora who would like to return to the island. The company is known for setting new benchmarks. In Puchong, the gated and guarded development AmanSari has set new standards in what was then a fairly ordinary township, while Ameera and Five Stones adds a new dimension to high-rise living in SS2, Petaling Jaya, an established township with predominantly landed terraces.

Teh's main forte is landscaped housing, and this normally comes with a premium. She will use the same formula in the Penang property.

While SDB's lifestyle concept developments may be new to the local Penang population, buyers in the Klang Valley and Singapore are familiar to its style and concept.

In Singapore, the company recently launched Hijauan on Cavenagh in District 9, one of the city state's most prestigious areas and just minutes away from Orchard Road. The six-storey residential block sits on a half-acre plot and will have a total of 41 apartments with units ranging between 463 sq ft and 1,884 sq ft.

The units are priced between S$1.3mil and S$3.5mil each.

It will be built on the former Cavenagh Mansion land. Hijauan is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2015.

Cavenagh Road was named in honour of Maj-Gen William Orfeur Cavenagh, the last India-appointed governor of the Straits Settlements who governed from 1859 to 1867. Hijauan will have a combination of garden units, penthouse and typical units but all will enjoy the greenery in a coveted green lung within walking distance from Orchard Road and a tree-lined passageway besides the Istana and adjacent to 25,000 sq ft of lush state land.

The Istana is the official residence and working office for both the President and Prime Minister of Singapore and is also the place where they receive and entertain state guests.

A link bridge will connect Hijauan to Orchard's Centrepoint shopping mall. Twelve of the 41 units have been sold.

Besides Hijauan, SDB's other project in the city state includes Jia, OKIO and Gilstead Two. The company recently bought two acres in Singapore's Pasir Panjang near the National University of Singapore.

With today's concerns about eurozone, Teh says Singapore, like Britain, is seen as a safe haven for property investment, particularly if they are located in London's zone 1 and zone 2.

"Similarly, I see the same in Singapore. For me, (whether it is Singapore, Klang Valley or Penang), I want to do something different," says Teh.

Next year, Teh says SDB will launch a development in Cheras that will set tongues a wagging.

For now, her focus will be By The Sea and Singapore's Hijauan.

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The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Tintin in peril?

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 06:52 AM PDT

Boy hero back in a bother in Belgium.

BLISTERING barnacles! As Tintin prepares to take on the world in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster, the fearless boy reporter's adventures are hotting up at home. Thirty years in the making, the Avatar-style film hits screens worldwide as the Belgium-born comic-book hero fends off racism charges, squabbles over his legacy, and whisperings over his sexuality and morals.

A children's bedside classic in much of Europe, the movie and its sequels by Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson, look set to fire up sales of Tintin's 24 adventures from Tibet to the Moon that have left heirs to author, Herge, sitting pretty on a pot of gold.

But the couple overseeing his legacy – worth almost as much as Sean Connery and far more than Hugh Grant according to this year's Sunday Times "Rich List" – are under a barrage of "thundering typhoons" from Tintinophiles over the merchandising of the intrepid boy crusader.

If the movie, as expected, turns out to be a box-office hit in tune with the spirit of the original comic character, the Tintin revival may soothe the squabblings and turn the page on his creator's controversial dealings with the wartime far right.

Herge, real name Georges Remi and one of Belgium's most beloved sons, died childless in 1983 at age 75, leaving the estate to his widow Fanny Vlamynck, a colouring artist 28 years his junior.

By all accounts more interested in Buddhism than business, and more focused on Herge's groundbreaking graphics than his art as storyteller, Vlamynck for the past decade has left business dealings in the hands of second husband Nick Rodwell.

The Rolls Royce               of comic books

The controversial Briton 18 years her junior, said to have opened London's first Tintin shop, has slowly but surely taken Tintin's face off mustard pots and the like to refocus the brand in line with his belief that "Tintin is the Rolls Royce of comic books".

The couple to that end gifted an original Herge plate to Paris' contemporary Pompidou Centre art house, and in 2009 opened a €15mil (RM65mil) museum to his glory, designed by a Pritzker prize-winning architect and largely dedicated to Herge's art, rather than best-selling cartoon character.

Rodwell, said Hugues Dayez, author of a book on the Tintin legacy, "has completely cut Tintin off from children and from popular culture."

While Brussels' official Tintin boutique does offer small figures at around four euros a shot, prints go for €55 (RM237) and collectors' items such as the iconic red rocket range from €44 to €300 (RM190 - RM1,294).

The couple moreover have irked the press as well as the Tintinophiles.

In 2009, Rodwell kicked off a local storm after branding a journalist "a liar" and attacking two others on the official Tintin.com website. With Belgians already smarting over Rodwell's increasing restrictions over the use of the image of their favourite cartoon, the website shut down Rodwell's blog.

Worth €73mil (RM314), according to the Sunday Times, the couple will be under strict scrutiny by critics over the movie's treatment of Tintin under a deal between the pair and Hollywood.

"There's a risk that Spielberg's vision will undermine Herge's," Jean-Claude Jouret, a former manager of the estate told AFP. "It's undoubtedly good business but perhaps it won't help the longterm preservation of his work."

Belgian critics, however, have hailed a sneak preview of The Adventures Of Tintin – The Secret Of The Unicorn as "a bull's eye".

And Dominique Maricq, an oldtimer at Herge Studios, told AFP that Hollywood appeared bent "on respecting the spirit of Tintin's world, of not turning him into an American super-hero."

Racism case

Meanwhile, a years-long racism case against Tintin In Congo wound up last week in a Brussels court with Congolese citizen Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo demanding the album be pulled off shelves as "a justification of colonisation and white supremacy".

The 1931 book's childlike savages with their blubbery lips and poor French would offend any African child, he said.

Herge was anything but racist, retorted lawyers for his publishers and heirs. The neatly turned-out boy reporter with the quiff was a pure product of Herge's long involvement with the do-gooders of the Boy Scouts movement, he said.

A fresh-faced 23-year-old when he wrote the strip that became his second album, Herge had never travelled beyond his native Belgium, drawing inspiration as in all his works from books, museums, chance encounters and reports in the press.

"Herge reflected the times, it wasn't racism but kind paternalism," said lawyer Alain Berenboom, urging the judge, who will rule early next year, not to ban the book.

A similar appeal in Sweden against the album, published when Belgium ruled what is today the Democratic Republic of Congo, was thrown out. But in 2007 US bookstore chain Borders said it would pull copies from the children's shelves.

Britain's Commission for Racial Equality the same year deemed it contained imagery and words "of hideous racial prejudice", sending sales rocketing up.

Near absence of women

Through his lifetime, Herge was no stranger to political controversy.

Arrested after World War II for collaborating with the Nazis after his wartime Tintin strips appeared in a German mouthpiece newspaper, Herge subsequently faced finger-pointing over anti-Semitism, notably over Tintin's enemy in The Shooting Star – a greedy American financier originally called Blumenstein.

Like other cartoon super-heros, Tintin has become a literary legend, with academics, psychiatrists, journalists and culture buffs alike exploring his persona – and his author's – in hundreds of learned articles and almost as many books.

Herge's political leanings aside, one age-old mystery remains Tintin's sexuality.

"Of course Tintin's gay. Ask Snowy," said The Times journalist Matthew Parris when the boy reporter turned 80 in 2009.

"What debate can there be when the evidence is so overwhelmingly one-way? A callow, androgynous blonde-quiffed youth in funny trousers and a scarf moving into the country mansion of his best friend, a middle-aged sailor," he wrote, referring to foul-mouthed whisky aficionado Captain Haddock.

The near absence of women in the Herge universe too has intrigued – only eight of some 350 characters are identifiably female – as well as Tintin's lack of a love interest, a trait respected by the Spielberg-Jackson duo.

Snowy, on the other hand, is "unambiguously heterosexual," said Parris, adding that his tendency to be distracted by lady dogs "is consistently foiled by his master."

"Pity this dog, wretchedly straight and trapped in a ghastly web of gay human males." – AFP

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Mixed reviews

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 06:50 AM PDT

THE Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn, Steven Spielberg's 3D take on Georges Remi's treasured comic books, is already a hit overseas with audiences. But what about the critics?

Overseas opinionators vary wildly in their assessments, with some heaping on the praise and one British critic reacting violently against it.

In Belgium, where the comic books originated, the newspaper Le Soir, takes a positive view of the film – we think. According to the translation programme we ran their review through, The Adventures Of Tintin is "a popular and general public film, which alternates in a tasty way the exotic film of adventure, play of track Hitchcockian and the picaresque comedy."

So ... it's eclectic?

Alas, the film earned a huge thumbs-down from the Guardian's literary critic, Nicholas Lezard. A self-professed lifelong Tintin fan, Lezard likens the film to a sexual assault.

"Coming out of the new Tintin film directed by Steven Spielberg, I found myself, for a few seconds, too stunned and sickened to speak; for I had been obliged to watch two hours of literally senseless violence being perpetrated on something I loved dearly," Lezard writes. "In fact, the sense of violation was so strong that it felt as though I had witnessed a rape."

In France, Spielberg's interpretation of Tintin appears to be considered "tres bien". L'Express lauds the filmmaker for crafting an adaptation that isn't afraid to break with Remi's vision, but remains lovingly faithful in its own way.

Spielberg allows (himself) to reinvent certain sides of history, and to make some winks," the paper notes. Even so, the review adds, "One feels all the affection which it carries to its characters."

France's Cinema Teaser praises the film's "sublime" opening-credits sequence, as well as the much-ballyhooed technology behind the film. It says that The Adventures Of Tintin proves "that the performance capture can definitively cause life when it is used by a large scenario writer."

England's Empire Online also makes special note of the film's performance-capture technology, noting that it lends itself to "endless chase sequences." However, the review concludes that it's the heart beating underneath the bells and whistles that makes The Adventures Of Tintin a captivating read.

"You have a job keeping up, but never at the expense of the sheer goodwill," the review posits. "While luxuriating in its pre-existing universe, here is a film imploring you to join in. It would take a hard heart to resist."

Overall, Empire concludes, The Adventures Of Tintin is "action-packed, gorgeous, and faithfully whimsical." – Reuters

Read what our own reviewer thinks of the movie in tomorrow's Star2.

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The Rum Diary: Box office flop?

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 02:12 AM PDT

ONE of the biggest movie stars in the world suffered one of the biggest box-office flops of his career last weekend. Even with Johnny Depp, the Hunter S. Thompson-themed The Rum Diary couldn't scrape up more than US$5mil at 2,272 North American locations. Considering the movie had a budget of about US$45mil, that's a tough opening for the FilmDistrict release.

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 US$278.3 mil worldwide – an impressive number, except the movie cost an estimated US$100mil to make.

His 2009 film The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus opened to a shabby US$1.6mil. It went on to gross US$61.8mil worldwide on a US$30mil budget.

And his 2006 The Libertine fared far worse. It grossed US$10.8mil worldwide. The film was shot on a modest budget of around US$20mil.

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 US$18.4mil and grossed only US$10.6mil in the United States.

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

Depp, of course, is a huge international star, and the movie has fared well in the few territories it has premiered in abroad, grossing US$2.8mil 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. – Reuters

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Metro watch

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 04:16 AM PDT


Due to the KLIA2 construction works, the KLIA Highway at KM11 will experience a traffic diversion on both sides from 11pm on Nov 19 to 6am on Nov 24. Motorists are advised to slow down and follow traffic regulations when approaching affected areas. For enquiries, call 03-6203 3819/019-332 6500.


Sentosa Medical Centre and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical are holding a public forum on benign prostatic hyperplasia by consultant urologist Dr Bala Sundaram Mariappan from 9am to 1pm tomorrow at the centre in Kuala Lumpur. The first 50 participants will receive free PSA tests. For enquiries, call 03-4043 7166 (ext 223).


The Harvard Business School Alumni Club of Malaysia is organising an entreprenuerial leadership programme at The Eagle Ranch Resort, Port Dickson from Nov 24 to 26 for youths between 20 and 30 years old interested in setting up a business. Registration closing date is Nov 7. For details, call 03-7956 1192 or visit www.hbsacm.org.


Help raise funds for "Paint It Purple", a campaign by The Pixel Project with partner Women's Aid Organisation, by buying Bisou Bake House's special cupcakes until Nov 16. For each cupcake, RM1 will go towards the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign. For details, visit paintitpurple.thepixelproject.net


Mothers and teenagers (12 — 17 years old) can learn to achieve financial independence in a programme organised by AdrianYeo Chartered Accountants at Dewan Besar LPPKN, Jalan Raja Laut, Kuala Lumpur on Nov 19 at 8.30am. For free registration, call 017-235 9222 or 03-7802 3312 by Nov 16.


A talk free on the basics of commercial and product photography will be held at Galeri Petronas, Suria KLCC today from 5.30pm to 7pm in conjunction with the "Irresistible Wear" exhibition featuring fashion designs by local artist and fashion designers. For details, call 03-2051 7770.


Bring up complaints, suggestions or problems to the Shah Alam City hall in their Meet The Customer Day today at Wisma MBSA, Shah Alam from 9.30am to 11.30am. For details, call 03-5522 2734/2743/2741.


A tribute staging of "The Odyssey of Life" by the Malaysian Institute of Art music department is being held at its multipurpose hall, Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur on Nov 16, 3 to 4.30pm. Admission is free. For details, call 03-4106 4697.


The alumni of Tunku ABdul Rahman College are invited to an inaugural meeting to elect a pro-tem committee tomorrow at 10.30am at the proposed TARCian Alumni Association at the colllege Setapak campus. For details, call 016-277 7797.


The top prize Malaysia Eco Film Festival documentary on the poaching crisis in the Belum-Temenggor forest complex titled "On Borrowed Time" by WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia can now be viewed at www.ecofilmfest.my.


D'Happy Club Centre is organising a free talk on "Fight Against Corruption" today at Pusat Komuniti Touch, Petaling Jaya at 10am. For details, call 012-323 0560.

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Gymnastics festival chooses not to focus on acrobatic aptitude

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 04:16 AM PDT

THIS season's Kuala Lumpur Gymnastics Festival gold medallists SJKC Naam Kheung lived up to their top billing at the Gym for Life Gala in the Mines Exhibition and Convention Centre in Seri Kembangan recently.

Although the main group comprising 26 primary school lasses in the team did not deliver an immaculate display, it was enough for the favourites to fend off the challenges from eight other qualifiers to lift the challenge trophy.

The team's coach Hew Wan Ting admitted her charges produced a more convincing presentation at the previous meet held at the same venue earlier this year.

"We know they are capable of doing better based on their cleaner execution in training sessions. It was unfortunate they could not get into the right rhythm to pull off a more forceful show.

"They also fumbled on several occasions in handling the equipment," she added.

Following their victory at the carnival last year, which also incorporated the Disney animated film character Mulan, SJKC Naam Kheung returned with another well-planned and choreographed Little Show White and Evil Witches fairytale theme.

"We retained more than half of the members from last year's winning team.

"All the members in the team came from a rhythmic gymnastics background.

"This year, we opted for another fresh idea. It is important to choose a suitable story line in creating a nice flow and flair in the structured formations.

"In the recent outing, we made slight changes to the routine and added several new simple moves.

"We had more time to prepare for a more polished display but we did not managed to improve on our routine during the actual competition," Wan Ting said.

For the recent meet, the organisers selected the top 12 sides of less than 20 members and more than 20 performers from the qualifying round.

However, only 10 qualifiers were on the starting list and the Gypsie Dreams from SMK Convent Bukit Nanas withdrew from the competition.

The spectators had a big say in influencing the eventual results with their votes for their respective preferred teams making up a substantial 60% of the total score while the appointed four-member judging panel contributed 40%.

Acrobatic aptitude was not the main criterion as they gave more attention to the team work of the participating teams.

In the end, SJKC Naam Kheung's Little Show White and Evil Witches chalked up a deserving 45.97 to edge True Princess of SK Convent Bukit Nanas 1 (44.75) while another SK Convent Bukit Nanas 1 side's Fairy Tales came in third (43.60).

In addition, SJKC Naam Kheung's second-ranked Arabian Night side completed their campaign in fifth position.

Wan Ting said they were hopeful of fielding a team of similar winning quality to continue to vie for supremacy in the competition and extend their domination to three years in a row next season.

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion


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