Isnin, 14 November 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Pamela Anderson to play Virgin Mary in Christmas special

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:06 PM PST

LOS ANGELES ( - Sex-tape veteran and frequent ''Playboy'' Playmate Pamela Anderson is reclaiming her virginity - at least on Canadian television.

The former ''Baywatch'' babe will play the Virgin Mary - yes, the chaste mother of the Son of God - in CTV's ''A Russell Peters Christmas,'' the Canadian network announced Monday.

The special, which will be hosted by comedian Russell Peters, will deliver ''an irreverent twist on the Christmas special making it unlike anything viewers have seen before.''

No kidding. What, Ron Jeremy wasn't available to play Joseph? Also joining in for the twisted Yuletide festivities: Michael Buble, Jon Lovitz and Ted Lange, lovingly known by millions as Isaac the bartender from ''The Love Boat.''

''A Russell Peters Christmas'' will air Dec. 1 at 9 p.m. ET on CTV - assuming the Christian community doesn't somehow cause a power meltdown with mass collective outrage.

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'Biggest Loser' nutritionist Cheryl Forberg leaving show

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:05 PM PST

LOS ANGELES ( - Cheryl Forberg, the longtime off-camera dietary architect for the NBC reality series ''The Biggest Loser,'' is leaving the show, she told TheWrap Monday.

Forberg, a best-selling nutrition author who has served as a registered dietitian for the show since its launch in 2004, said she's looking for an on-camera career.

An NBC spokesperson has yet to respond to an inquiry from TheWrap.

''I was there from the beginning - I've been with the show for 12 [cycles]. I co-wrote the eating plan, but I want to be on camera. That's part of the reason why I left,'' Forberg said.

Forberg - who is now sponsored by New Zealand-based appliance maker Fisher and Pykel to produce a cooking show out of her own kitchen - said her departure from the show is unrelated to trainer and former tennis pro Anna Kournikova's decision to leave the series, which was announced earlier on Monday.

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Kim Kardashian sued over hair-removal sponsorship

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:04 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: Kim Kardashian has found herself in a hairy situation - and it has nothing to do with the drama over her impending divorce from NBA player Kris Humphries.

Hair-removal product company Radiancy is suing the ''Keeping Up With the Kardashians'' star, claiming that she's made numerous false and misleading statements while shilling for hair-removal company Tria, which is also named in the complaint.

According to Radiancy, Kardashian made numerous claims during various media appearances and on her Twitter account that can't possibly be true.

Among the alleged falsehoods that Kardashian disseminated: That Tria's laser hair-removal product have been deemed safe and effective by the FDA, and that it also provides permanent hair removal.

The suit goes on to note that, during an appearance on ''The Wendy Williams Show,'' Kardashian claimed that she uses the Tria product ''on [her] entire body'' - even though, by Tria's own admission, the product is unsafe for use on the face, head, ears, neck, nipples, genitals or around the anus, as it may injure skin.

Also, according to Radiancy, Kardashian tweeted last December that she had begun using the Tria product and was ''loving the results so far'' - even though she had just become the company's spokesperson a few weeks before, and Tria's own web site states that a user wouldn't begin to see results from the product for at least 90 days.

These allegedly false statements have done damage to Radiancy's business, the claim states. The complaint is part of an ongoing legal battle between the two companies.

This isn't the first time that Kardashian has come under fire due to her many endorsements - last November, she and her sisters, Khloe and Kourtney, pulled out of a deal to sponsor a prepaid MasterCard because it carried ''outrageous'' fees.

She's also been accused of accepting money to tweet about products without revealing that they were sponsored tweets, though Kardashian, 31, has denied this.

Kardashian's spokesperson 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

Obama administration launches $1 bln healthcare drive


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Monday said $1 billion of federal funds allocated in last year's health reform law will go toward innovation programs designed to boost jobs and improve patient care.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at his news conference at the conclusion of the APEC Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii November 13, 2011. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)

The announcement is the administration's latest attempt to show that it is working outside of a deeply divided U.S. Congress to create jobs.

The administration will award grants in March to people who come up with the best ideas to lift care and save money for those enrolled in the federal healthcare programs Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

However, the administration did not say how many jobs the measure would create.

Don Berwick, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said a good example includes the Baylor Heart Hospital in Dallas which has worked to lower readmission rates for congestive heart failure.

"With the healthcare innovation challenge, we're going straight to the source," Berwick said during a news conference for the announcement.

"We want to find them, we want to help them, we want to spread what they know and what they've learned."

The $1 billion of awards will cut into the $10 billion that Congress set aside in the Affordable Care Act to fund a new CMS Innovation Center. The center is meant to promote better care and health at reduced costs by identifying, testing and spreading new models of care and payment.

To get a grant, projects must start within six months and the program will concentrate on those ideas that spur the most hiring and workforce training, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

Awards will range from around $1 million to up to $30 million and be spread over three years. Applications are open to providers, payers, local government, community organizations and public-private partnerships.

Separately on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide the legal fate of Obama's healthcare law, with an election-year ruling due by July.


President Barack Obama has been aggressively promoting programs that hold potential to boost hiring, amid 9 percent U.S. unemployment which will hurt his re-election chances next year unless job creation improves.

Republican lawmakers have held up passage of most of a $447 billion jobs bill that Obama proposed in September, and which Democrats want funded by a tax on millionaires.

So far, only two modest proposals in the package have been approved by the Senate with Republican support.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have meanwhile passed a number of measures to boost jobs, but these have yet to be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Asked how many jobs the grants would create, Dr. Rick Gilfillan, acting director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, said: "This is not about a specific number. This is about recognizing that there are going to be more people involved in healthcare" as the population ages.

"The question is what are they going to be doing," he said, adding that the program would help identify high-value jobs in healthcare and help train people for them.

Some Republicans have questioned the innovation center's approach.

"We are concerned that at a time of significant uncertainty for the fiscal health of the U.S. government, funds are being expended by the Innovation Center with little to no actual value provided," three Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee wrote to Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week.

Senators Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the committee, Mike Enzi and Tom Coburn said the innovation center received $10 billion in federal funding but has not yet produced recommendations or implemented any reforms.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Yemen's Saleh says ready to step down in 90 days


SANAA (Reuters) - Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Monday he was ready to step down within 90 days of reaching a deal on a formal process for implementing a Gulf initiative aimed at ending the nine-month-old crisis in his country.

Saleh, who has so far refused to sign the accord proposed by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council in April, told France's Channel 24 television in an interview that he had given his deputy, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, authority to negotiate a deal with the opposition.

Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration to demand the ouster and trial of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz November 13, 2011. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)

Asked when he would leave office, Saleh said: "When an agreement on the Gulf initiative is reached, and when it is signed, and (it is agreed) on the operational mechanism and when elections are held, the president will leave."

Asked if there was a time frame for his departure, he said: "It is defined. It is within 90 days (of an agreement)."

"I have 33 years of experience in power and I know the difficulties, I know the negatives and positives. The one who clings to power is mad," he said.

An opposition official said on Sunday that Saleh was trying to thwart a mission by U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar to implement the U.N.-backed Gulf initiative, by insisting on staying in office until new elections are held.

"Saleh wants to preserve all his powers until the election of a new president and that is rejected by the opposition and because of this the U.N. envoy's mission is going to fail," said the official, who declined to be identified.

Benomar urged all Yemeni factions on Monday to reach an agreement "to save the Yemeni people from the sufferings of the current crisis," the Yemeni Defence Ministry's website said.

"I am in nearly daily contact with all political sides in Yemen and efforts are continuing to reach a peaceful end to the crisis," he added.

Under an "operational mechanism" proposed by Benomar, Saleh would step down immediately, triggering the formation of a national unity government ahead of early presidential elections. A body would be set up to restructure the armed forces.

Saleh said he had no objection to restructuring the armed forces, which split after the protests against his rule began in February. "Restructuring the army, I have no problem with that. The army belongs to the homeland and is not a personal property," he said.

Saleh also slammed the Arab Spring protests, calling the demonstrations "Arab anarchy".

He said support for these protests had come from a "small and weightless state" -- an apparent reference to Qatar, a wealthy Gulf Arab state and home to the Al Jazeera satellite TV channel, which gave sympathetic coverage to the Arab Spring uprisings, particularly those in Libya and Syria.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi in Dubai and Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa; editing by Tim Pearce)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Syria faces growing world pressure to halt bloodshed


BEIRUT (Reuters) - Jordan's King Abdullah told Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on Monday he should step down and the European Union added pressure with more sanctions after the Arab League's surprise suspension of Damascus for its violent crackdown on protests.

People attend a rally to show support for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Hama November 13, 2011, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. (REUTERS/Sana/Handout)

Syria looks ever more isolated, but still has the support of Russia, which said the Arab League had made the wrong move and accused the West of inciting Assad's opponents.

Despite the diplomatic pressure, there was no let-up in violence and some 40 people were killed in fighting between troops and insurgents and army defectors near the Jordanian border, Syrian activists said.

The anti-Assad unrest, inspired by Arab revolts elsewhere, has devastated Syria's economy, scaring off tourists and investors, while Western sanctions have crippled oil exports.

Jordan's King Abdullah said Assad should quit. "I believe, if I were in his shoes, I would step down," he told the BBC.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem said the League's decision, due to take effect on Wednesday, was "an extremely dangerous step" at a time when Damascus was implementing an Arab deal to end violence and start talks with the opposition.

Syria called for an emergency Arab League summit in an apparent effort to forestall its suspension.

Nabil Elaraby, the organisation's secretary general, said he had delivered the request to rulers of Arab League states and 15 members would have to approve in order to hold a summit, according to Egypt's state news agency MENA.

The League's suspension is a particularly bitter blow for Assad who has always seen himself as a champion of Arab unity. But adding to the injury, the Cairo-based League plans to meet Syrian dissident groups on Tuesday.

Even so, Elaraby said on Sunday it was too soon to consider recognising the Syrian opposition as the country's legitimate authority.

Elaraby met representatives of Arab civil society groups on Monday and agreed to send a 500-strong fact-finding committee, including military personnel, to Syria as part of efforts to end the crackdown on demonstrators and dissenters.

"Syria agreed to receive the committee," said Ibrahim al-Zafarani, of the Arab Medical Union.

Moualem said Syria had withdrawn troops from urban areas, released prisoners and offered an amnesty to armed insurgents under an initiative agreed with the Arab League two weeks ago.

Yet violence has intensified since then, especially in the central city of Homs, pushing the death toll in eight months of protests to more than 3,500 by a U.N. count. Damascus says armed "terrorist" gangs have killed 1,100 soldiers and police.

Syria's ban on most foreign media makes it hard to verify events on the ground.


In the latest violence, army defectors attacked a security police bus at a highway intersection near Khirbet Ghazaleh, 20 km (12 miles) north of the border with Jordan, activists said, one of the first reported major armed clashes.

Government troops, backed by armour then launched an assault on Khirbet Ghazaleh, on the Hauran Plain an area of flat farmland that also borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and killed 20 insurgents, the activists said. A similar number of troops were killed, they said.

"Members of the (defectors') brigade fought back when the army attacked and Bedouin from nearby villages also rushed to help Khirbet Ghazaleh," said one of the activists, who gave his name as Abu Hussein.

Security police also shot dead activist Amin Abdo al-Ghothani in front of his nine-year-old son at a roadblock outside the town of Inkhil in southern Syria, a grassroots organisation known as the Local Coordination Committees said.

In Homs, residents said renewed tank shelling killed a teenager and wounded eight people in the restive Bab Amro district. Students in the Damascus suburb of Erbin chanted "God is greater than the oppressor," according to a YouTube video.

Moualem described Washington's support for the Arab League action as "incitement", but voiced confidence that Russia and China would continue to block Western efforts to secure U.N. Security Council action, let alone any foreign intervention.

"The Libya scenario will not be repeated", he said.

It was the Arab League's decision to suspend Libya and call for a no-fly zone that helped persuade the U.N. Security Council to authorise a NATO air campaign to protect civilians, which also aided rebels who ousted and killed Muammar Gaddafi.

Syrian state television said millions of Syrians protested at the League decision in Damascus and other cities on Sunday.

Crowds also attacked Saudi, Turkish and French diplomatic missions in Syria after the Arab League announcement.

Moualem apologised for the assaults, which have worsened already tense ties between Syria and its former friend Turkey.

"We will take the most resolute stance against these attacks and we will stand by the Syrian people's rightful struggle," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the Turkish parliament, saying Damascus could no longer be trusted.

Non-Arab Turkey, after long courting Assad, has lost patience with its neighbour. It now hosts the main Syrian opposition and has given refuge to defecting Syrian soldiers.


The European Union extended penalties to 18 more Syrians linked with the crackdown on dissent and approved plans to stop Syria accessing funds from the European Investment Bank.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was in touch with the Arab League to work on an approach to Syria, but the 27-nation body appears set against military intervention.

Syria, which borders Israel, is Iran's main Arab ally and has strong ties with Shi'ite Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon and the Islamist Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose country joined China to block a U.N. resolution critical of Syria in October, criticised the Arab League's decision.

Russia, an arms supplier to the Syrians, has urged Assad to implement reforms but opposes sanctions and has accused the United States and France of discouraging dialogue in Syria.

"There has been and continues to be incitement of radical opponents (of Assad) to take a firm course for regime change and reject any invitations to dialogue," Lavrov said.

The Arab League also plans to impose unspecified economic and political sanctions on Syria and has urged its members to recall their ambassadors from Damascus.

Assad still has some support at home, especially from his own minority Alawite sect and Christians, wary of sectarian conflict or Sunni Muslim domination if he were to be toppled.

Despite some defections, the Syrian military has not emulated its counterparts in Egypt and Tunisia in abandoning long-serving presidents faced with popular discontent.

The government has acknowledged that sanctions are hurting, but it is not clear whether this will force any policy change.

Chris Phillips of the Economist Intelligence Unit in London said Syria's economy was "slowly bleeding to death".

(Additional reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman, Steve Gutterman in Moscow, Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara, Dominic Evans in Beirut, Ayman Samir in Cairo and Justyna Pawlak in Brussels; Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Tennis: Kvitova named WTA player of the year

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 03:14 PM PST

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was voted WTA's Player of the Year on Monday following a season in which she claimed her debut grand slam title, steered the Czech Republic to Fed Cup glory and shot up 32 places in the world rankings.

The Czech, who ended the year ranked second, picked up four prizes in total on Monday following a remarkable 12 months in which she won six titles and chalked up a 6-0 record in Fed Cup singles. "This season has been simply a dream," the 21-year-old said in a statement after being voted to the top prize ahead of world number one Caroline Wozniacki.

"It is an incredible honour to win the Player of the Year award and join the ranks of some of the best players that have ever played the sport, especially Martina Navratilova.

"I will always cherish the 2011 season and look forward to building on it." Kvitova also bagged the Most Improved Player award and the fair play prize, while fans voted her the Breakthrough Player of the Year.

Kveta Peschke completed a good day for the Czech Republic when she and Slovenian partner Katarina Srebotnik earned their first award for Doubles Team of the Year.

Sabine Lisicki of Germany scooped the Comeback Player of the Year honour. The 22-year-old was out of action for five months last year with a horrific ankle injury and by March this year, she had toppled out of the top 200.

However, by the end of the season, she had clawed back into the top 15 thanks to triumphs in Birmingham and Dallas and by charging into the semi-finals at Wimbledon despite entering the tournament with a wildcard. -Reuters

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NBA players reject offer, season in jeopardy

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 03:09 PM PST

NEW YORK (Reuters): National Basketball Association players rejected the league's latest contract offer on Monday and will disband as a union, a move that could wipe out the entire NBA season with the sides taking their labor dispute into the court of law.

The National Basketball Players Association said it would no longer continue in collective bargaining and will become a trade association in order to pursue legal action against the NBA, with the entire 2011-12 season hanging in the balance.

"We have arrived at the conclusion that the collective bargaining process has completely broken down," NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said at a news conference in New York.

"As a result, within the last hour we served a notice of disclaimer on Commissioner (David) Stern and the NBA."

A shift from the negotiating room to the courts also came during this year's National Football League labor dispute, but NFL owners and players were able to reach an agreement before their season began and did not lose any regular season games.

The NBA, however, has already canceled the first month of a regular season that was scheduled to begin two weeks ago and offered no assurance that further cuts can be avoided.

"There will ultimately be a new collective bargaining agreement, but the 2011-12 season is now in jeopardy," Stern said in a statement.

The NBA, which claims it lost $300 million last season with 22 of its 30 teams in the red, locked out its players on July 1 given a disagreement over two major issues - the division of basketball-related income and salary cap structure.

The latest offer by the NBA called for a 50-50 split of basketball related income between the owners and players and would have provided for a 72-game season to start on Dec. 15.

Players, who received 57 percent of basketball income in the previous contract, also are at odds with the owners over rules governing contracts and free agency.

"We will allow our legal team to really lead the charge and hopefully at some point assist us in getting a deal done that is fair to our entire body," NBPA president Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers said.


Stern said the NBA prepared for the union's latest move.

"In anticipation of this day, the NBA filed an unfair labor practice charge before the National Labor Relations Board asserting that, by virtue of its continued threats, the union was not bargaining in good faith," Stern said.

"We also began a litigation in federal court in anticipation of this same bargaining tactic."

The last abbreviated NBA season was in 1998-99 when a six-month dispute reduced the campaign by 32 games to 50 and forced the cancellation of the All-Star Game.

That year, Stern said he would recommend scrubbing the season if there was no deal by Jan. 7. The day before that deadline, Hunter and Stern agreed to terms of a deal, and the season began in early February.

"We have negotiated in good faith for over two years and we've done everything anybody could reasonably expect of us particularly when you look at the number of give-backs and concessions," said Hunter.

"But the players just felt that they have given enough, that the NBA was not willing or prepared to continue to negotiate. Things were not going to get better and they were going to continue to reach and grab."

Stern had told the players that if they did not accept the latest owners' proposal, that their next offer would be rolled back to 47 percent of the pie for the players.

"There were some owners, not the majority, who felt our offer had gone too far in favor of the players," Stern told ESPN. "But I was confident I could use my powers of persuasion to navigate through to an approval if the union said yes.

"But that's really academic now, because it looks like the 2011-12 NBA season is really in jeopardy."

While a legal battle could drag on, a quicker solution is more likely, according to one sports law expert.

"There can be an expedited legal progress that gives us a decision from a court within a matter of weeks," Gabe Feldman, Director, Sports Law Program, at Tulane University Law School, said in a telephone interview from New Orleans.

"For the case to play itself all the way out from complaint to antitrust litigation, could possibly take years ... I just don't foresee that happening. It is more likely that whoever wins the initial legal battle is going to have more leverage, and that could lead to a settlement."

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Capirossi to advise on MotoGP safety

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 03:12 PM PST

LONDON (Reuters): Italian Loris Capirossi has been appointed to advise on MotoGP safety having retired this month after a 22-year career. "Loris Capirossi will offer the MotoGP world championship advice on matters relating to safety, the new regulations, the competition in general and the homologation of new tracks," organisers said in a statement on Monday.

Motorcyling is still reeling from the death of Italian rider Marco Simoncelli in Malaysia last month, prompting a safety inquest after the rider's helmet fell off following a crash.

Simoncelli's death was the first in premier motorcycle racing since Daijiro Kato was killed at the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix. "Capirossi's insight will provide a highly valuable input as MotoGP welcomes important and significant changes to the sport," the statement added. Former 125cc and 250cc world champion Capirossi, 38, made his grand prix debut in 1990 and started 328 races in his career.

"In recognition of Capirossi's outstanding contribution to the sport, organisers have also made the request to the FIM (International Motorcyling Federation) that his number 65 be retired from use in the MotoGP world championship."

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The Star Online: Business

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Dijaya, Ivory rise on Penang property tie-up

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 06:08 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Dijaya Corp Bhd and Ivory Properties Group Bhd shares were up after the companies announced a tie-up for a mixed-property project with a gross development value of RM10bil in Bayan Mutiara, Penang.

Dijaya rose 3.6%, or 5 sen, to RM1.44 while its warrants advanced 6.5%, or 3 sen, to 49 sen. Ivory Properties added 7%, or 7 sen, to RM1.07.

Dubbed Penang World City, the project will be undertaken by joint-venture vehicle Tropicana Ivory Sdn Bhd (TISB), which is 49% owned by Dijaya and 51% by Ivory Properties. TISB was set up on Oct 14.

Penang World City will be built on a 102.56 acre site, of which 35 acres is to be reclaimed. It will comprise residential units, a shopping mall, office suites, office towers, a hotel, retail spaces and an open mall with a boulevard.

The land is being bought for RM1.08bil from state-owned Penang Development Corp.

Bayan Mutiara is a new development hub in the eastern part of the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway and is in the vicinity of Sungai Nibong.

Ivory Properties has proposed to finance the project via a renounceable rights issue of 186,000,000 new ordinary shares of 50 sen each as well as 186,000,000 new free detachable warrants.

Dijaya, meanwhile, will extend financial assistance to TISB in the form of shareholder advances, guarantee, indemnity or collateral of up to RM525.4mil, or 49% of the total consideration of the development land.

Analysts contacted by StarBiz have a positive view of the project, citing its prime location as a major plus factor.

"Land in Penang is scarce and the outlook for housing in the Bayan Mutiara area is booming," an analyst said.

"It is not easy to get land in Penang for that price. Property developers prefer Johor Baru because land is much cheaper there."

Another local bank-backed analyst said although he liked the land, he considered it pricey. At RM240 per sq ft, it was comparably higher than IJM Land Bhd's land further north of the island that was purchased at RM50 per sq ft. IJM Land has a 150.24-acre mixed-development called Light Waterfront Penang.

The analyst also said the upside for Ivory Properties' stock would be capped at around 30% as its share base would be diluted by two to three times following the rights issue.

He added that the choice of office towers in the development mix was surprising as the demand for office space in Penang was tepid.

Nonetheless, he said the project was still at its early stage and was subject to change.

"We haven't seen a detailed breakdown of the development components yet but the residential portion is likely to be larger," he said.

Penang World City is scheduled to be completed in eight years. Work on the first phase is scheduled to begin at the end of next year.

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Asian markets on the rise

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 06:07 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Asian markets started the week higher, with penny stocks continuing their bullish run on Bursa Malaysia.

These stocks and their warrants dominated the most heavily traded list, swooping in exponential gains.

One counter that has continued to draw attention is SYF Resources Bhd, which was issued an Unusual Market Activity query by the stock exchange regulator yesterday.

But the stock surged another 37%, or 25 sen, to close at a high of 92 sen, reaching peaks never seen since mid-July 2007, with 102.61 million shares changing hands.

It had continued with its uptrend after closing at 65.5 sen on Friday, up 14% from its close of 57.5 sen the day before.

In its reply to the Bursa Malaysia query, SYF said it was currently in the final stage of negotiation to develop properties on a joint venture with the landowners who were mainly related parties, of which the details would be released immediately upon conclusion of the negotiations and the execution of the agreement.

Previously SYF was labelled a Practice Note 1 (PN1) company in May last year after failing to make interest payments amounting to RM2.19mil. It had said the default was due to lower demand for its products.

On Oct 25, SYF said its status as a PN1 company had been lifted upon the completion of several corporate proposals.

SYF's principal business activities are the planting of rubber trees for commercial harvesting, the logging of plantation wood, saw milling, treatment of timber, and the manufacture of furniture parts and components.

SYF's trading pattern mirrors that of timber manufacturer Harvest Court Industries Bhd, whose share price had jumped from 8.5 sen to RM2.13 in barely four weeks.

The counter is still showing no signs of slowing down, with its share price soaring another 48 sen yesterday.

Both the warrants of SYF and Harvest hit its limit-up yesterday, both surging 30 sen and 42 sen to 64.5 sen and RM1.81 respectively.

DPS Resources Bhd was also in hot pursuit of the bulls, surging 17.5 sen or a whopping 129% in a single day to 31 sen.

"The current run-up in prices just doesn't respect the fundamentals of the company.

"Investors who dip into these penny stocks should trade cautiously, as the bubble can burst any time without the strong support of a financially sound company," said a trader.

Asian markets started the week higher, amid optimism that new governments in Greece and Italy would take major steps to tackle the Europe's troubles, reviving hopes that the eurozone crisis will be contained.

The local bourse's benchmark FBM KLCI closed yesterday up 0.69%, or 10.12 points, with gains led by bluechip counters, namely, IOI Corporation, Tenaga Nasional Bhd and DiGi.

Elsewhere in the region, Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.05%, South Korea's Kospi Composite Index jumped 2.11% and Singapore's Straits Times Index added 1.4%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 1.94%.

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Eurozone debt crisis likely to hit Asian growth

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 06:02 PM PST

MUMBAI: The eurozone debt crisis will hit growth in Asia's developing economies this year and next as the key trade zone cuts back export orders, a senior Asian Development Bank (ADB) official said.

In September, the bank forecast developing Asia, excluding Japan, Australia and New Zealand, would grow at a rate of 7.5% in both 2011 and 2012.

But that estimate may now be unrealistic given the lack of resolution to the eurozone's debt problems, said ADB managing director-general Rajat Nag.

"Seven-and-a-half per cent (growth) is probably going to turn out to be on the higher side given what's happened since our forecasts and now," Nag told reporters in Mumbai.

Speaking on the sidelines of the India Economic Summit, Nag said it was inevitable Europe's fiscal woes would hurt export-dependent Asia, which ships a large chunk of its orders to the eurozone.

"If euro-growth is compromised," there would be a negative effect on Asia, Nag said.

"How much will depend on how soon the eurozone crisis works itself out," he added.

"But certainly there are very significant worries and significant clouds on the horizon on this."

The Manila-based ADB's Asian Development Outlook Update 2011 in September indicated slower-than-expected growth this year and next, as key trading partners reduce orders due to worries about the global economy.

The 7.5% forecast is lower than the bank's April estimate of 7.8% growth in 2011 and 7.7% next year.

Major drivers China and India are expected to grow this year at a rate of 9.3% and 7.9% respectively and 9.1% and 8.3% in 2012.

Nag said that while the overall rate of growth in the region was still "healthy", the bank's earlier assessment had been based on the "assumption of orderly resolution" of the eurozone debt crisis.

Moves that replaced the leaders of Italy and Greece in recent days, as well as austerity measures that have been put before the parliaments of both countries, were encouraging, Nag said.

But he added that the crisis reinforced how Asian economies need to be more aggressive in implementing institutional reforms as well as developing intra-regional trade. - AFP

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Penguin magic

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 01:58 AM PST

Continuing adventures in the magnificent landscape of Antarctica and all in 3D!

HAPPY Feet Two is the sequel to the Oscar-winning 2006 cartoon, with Elijah Wood returning as the voice of Mumble, the dancing penguin. And now he has a son.

Mumble, The Master of Tap, has a problem because his tiny son, Erik, is choreo-phobic. Reluctant to dance, Erik runs away and encounters The Mighty Sven – a penguin that can fly! But things get worse when the world is shaken by powerful forces.

Erik learns of his father's guts and grit as Mumble brings together the penguin nations and all manner of fabulous creatures – from tiny Krill to giant Elephant Seals – to put things right.

But this movie is not just about penguins, krill and seals. One of the moviemakers, crowd director Greg van Borssum says: "More than 16 million characters were animated by the crowds team in more than 600 shots – that made each crowd artist responsible for around 950,000 actors in the movie – nearly double the population of the Australian state of Tasmania!"

Now that's a lot of work for a lot of people!

Directed by George Miller (who won an Oscar as the creator of the original movie), Happy Feet Two features the voices of Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Pink, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon (Pitt and Damon play Will and Bill The Krill), Sofia Vergara, Common, Hugo Weaving, Richard Carter, Magda Szubanski, Anthony LaPaglia and Benjamin Flores Jr.

So is this a kiddie movie which will only appeal to those below 1.5m?

Miller thinks not. He says: "I often say that these stories are for the adult in the child and the child in the adult. I think one of the reasons why Happy Feet resonated is that it had a kind of nourishment to it, with the time-honoured ideas of being true to yourself, being brave and trying to treat the world and yourself with respect."

The idea for the story of Happy Feet Two actually began even as Miller and his team were putting the finishing touches on the first film.

"When you work on a film like that for so long, you actually fall in love with the characters. They became a part of your family," the filmmaker continues. "As you're thinking about them, new stories arise, which is what led to Happy Feet Two. It was surprisingly easy to go back there, and so much fun hanging out with them once again."

But Miller, who directed, produced, and also co-wrote the film with writers Gary Eck, Warren Coleman and Paul Livingston, aimed to do much more than simply return to Antarctica with Mumble, Gloria and the other penguins.

He explains: "I think what a storyteller wants from every film is to have the audience somehow experience something that they can relate to, so that they can see their own lives through it. I think this new film – which is about family and community – gives them the opportunity to be able to do that through the characters of the penguins."

Producer Bill Miller adds that the filmmakers wanted to also reacquaint the audiences with the characters they knew and love from the first film. "But we needed to take those characters and the audience somewhere different. And we had to raise the bar with the music and dance."

As such, filmgoers can expect some changes.

Miller observes: "Mumble is now a parent, and the tables have turned on him. Now he has the problem of being a father with a child who doesn't completely conform to the way Mumble thinks his son should be! And he truly wants to connect with his son.

"We all think when we become parents that somehow, we'll know how to do better than our parents did. And, of course, we often make the same mistakes, because there's no real instruction manual about how to be a good parent."

Producer Doug Mitchell comments: "One of the themes in the film is clearly about the relationship between father and son. Mumble, like all parents, struggles with the intent to offer unconditional love and support – he wants the best for Erik, but he also may need to let go a little and let his son find his identity for himself."

Happy Feet Two opens in Malaysian cinemas this Thursday.

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Former MIC deputy chief to be out of ICU soon

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 06:12 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Former MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam who underwent brain surgery is expected to be out of intensive care unit (ICU) of Pantai Medical Centre, here, in three or four days.

R. Balakrishnan, his former secretary and close friend, said if the health of Subramaniam improved, the doctors would allow him to be transferred from the ICU to a normal ward.

"They have confirmed that he (Subramaniam) is still unconscious, but his condition is stable and he's able to breath on his own without ventilator support," he said when contacted Monday.

Balakrishnan said the veteran MIC leader's friends as well as MIC members, politicians and community leaders continued to visit him although he was still unconscious.

Subramaniam, a former deputy minister, went through a five-hour brain surgery which lasted until 2am Sunday.

The veteran politician had warded himself at the Assunta Hospital in Petaling Jaya on Friday night after encountering health problems and was transferred to Pantai Medical Centre the following morning.

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Federal Court paves way for Kota Siputeh rep to attend assembly

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 05:46 AM PST

PUTRAJAYA: Kota Siputeh assemblyman Datuk Abu Hassan Sarif can look forward to attending the Kedah state assembly sitting Tuesday after the Federal Court set aside a Court of Appeal decision which ruled that the appellate court could not grant a stay on its own decision which prevented the assemblyman from attending the sitting.

The three-man panel headed by Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin agreed with the submission by counsel who appeared for the respondent, that there was no basis in law for the Court of Appeal to grant a stay in respect of a declaratory judgment.

"A declaratory order by the Court of Appeal cannot be stayed and there was no special circumstances to grant such a stay," Zulkefli said on the panel's unanimous decision.

The two other judges were Datuk Hashim Yusoff and Datuk Ahmad Maarop.

Later when met outside the courtroom, Abu Hassan said: "God willing, I will be in the state assembly hall tomorrow and will carry out my duty and responsibilities entrusted to me.

"Although many people think I was in the wrong, I believe I was not. I am grateful after 12 months of waiting, to return to the state assembly."

Counsel Datuk Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin, who appeared for Abu Hassan, had submitted earlier that the Court of Appeal's decision was manifestly wrong and without any legal basis.

He contended that granting such a stay was a grave error of the law and the court's decision also deprived the Kota Siputeh constituency from being represented at the assembly sitting.

Edmund Bon, who represented Kedah Speaker Dr Abdul Isa Ismail, submitted that the stay application was rightly granted by the Court of Appeal.

He pointed out that if Abu Hassan returned to the assembly and the Speaker succeeded in the Federal Court later, it would cause immense legal and practical problems for the Kedah state administration.

On Aug 18 this year, the appellate court overturned a Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision declaring Abu Hassan was no longer the assemblyman for the seat and ordered the Election Commission (EC) to hold a by-election for that seat after it allowed Abdul Isa's judicial review.

Abdul Isa filed the judicial review on Oct 1, 2009, after the EC accepted Abu Hassan's medical certificate and decided that there was no vacancy of the Kota Siputeh seat and that Abu Hassan was still its assemblyman.

In his application, Abdul Isa claimed that Abu Hassan failed to attend two consecutive meetings of the state assembly on April 19 and Aug 9, 2009, without leave from the assembly Speaker.

However, on Nov 2, the appellate court allowed an application by Abdul Isa to stay the Aug 18, 2011 ruling that Abu Hassan was still the assemblyman for Kota Siputeh.

The stay order was granted pending disposal of Abdul Isa's application for leave to appeal against the appellate court's ruling. - Bernama

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Terenganu MB lodges police report over khalwat claim

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 05:43 AM PST

KUALA TERENGGANU: Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said has lodged a police report against bloggers who have accused him of being caught for khalwat.

The report was lodged by his political secretary, Wan Ahmad Nizam Wan Hakim at the Kuala Terengganu Police District Headquarters at 3.35pm on Monday.

Speaking to reporters after lodging the report, Wan Ahmad Nizam said he handed over the blog posts on the slanderous allegations in print to the police.

He asked the police to investigate and take action against the bloggers for making baseless allegations.

Meanwhile, Kuala Terengganu police chief ACP Zamri Samsuddin, who confirmed receiving the report, said the case would be investigated under Section 500 of the Penal Code for defamation.

Ahmad had said that he would take legal action against the bloggers. - Bernama

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Patient must be comfortable with the doctor

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 03:56 AM PST

BESIDES checking on the status of a registered doctor on the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) website, there are several things that consumers can look out for when deciding on a plastic surgeon.

After visiting the beauty centre in Kuala Lumpur, the StarMetro team also visited another clinic in the area, which also offered plastic surgery.

The set-up was simpler than the beauty centre and a middle-aged woman who had a mask over her mouth greeted us. When we enquired about getting a nose job, she told us that the doctor was not in and we would have to set up an appointment for a consultation with him.

Noticing the difference in procedures, we spoke to plastic surgeon Dr Heng Kien Seng who operates a private practice in Petaling Jaya.

He said it was important for patients to meet the doctor who would be operating on them to see if the chemistry was right.

"Some doctors might just not click with you or you might feel that the doctor would not do a good job on you. You have to be comfortable with the doctor," he said.

"During the consultation, I would approach the patients and find out what they want and what their expectations are.

"I would then find out about their medical condition to see if they are physically and psychologically fit to undergo plastic surgery,"said Dr Heng.

He said he would explain to the patient what the surgery entailed, the complications, recovery time and fees.

"If the patient is unsure, they can also go to other places and seek a second opinion," he said.

Dr Heng said there were instances that he would decide not to operate on patients. "If their expectations are not clear or not what I can achieve, then I would say no. Some people also have health conditions like high blood pressure or heart problems and I would advise against it.

There's no point of going for a cosmetic makeover if your health problems are still there.

"Then there are also people who go for surgery after surgery but are still not happy with their body. I would make recommendations for a psychological examination," he said.

Dr Heng explained that there were several reasons why people opt for cosmetic surgery.

"Most people do it to enhance their looks and some to reverse the ageing process. There are also people who do it because of their career demands, like those in the entertainment industry. Enhancing their looks sometimes gives people confidence.

"Some people also do it for health reasons like obesity. They are too big so they just want to remove some fat so that they can move around easily and start exercising. I've also had cases where women come in to reduce their breasts because they were having medical problems like shoulder pains and fungal infections below the breasts," he said.

According to Dr Heng, the more common types of plastic surgery were eyelid surgery, breast augmentation and liposuction while non-invasive treatments like botox injection, fillers and lasers were also popular.

He said if a patient had any doubts about a doctor, they could always check with the relevant authorities like the Health Ministry, the MMC or the Malaysian Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Craniomaxillofacial Surgeon (Mapacs).

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Have a heart for the help

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 03:43 AM PST

IMAGINE your father losing his job and having trouble finding another one in these challenging economic times. There is one employable female in your family and she is the only chance your family has to live decently.

Not having finished a higher education and with the limited options in the local job market, she opts to work overseas in a country with a more progressive economy.

Off she goes and her monthly remittances start coming in. It is not a lot but you are able to scrape by each month. Your family is now able to eat three meals a day, your siblings can go to school and you can pay for transportation and electricity bills.

She misses home terribly but she cannot call often as her employer has taken away her mobile phone. She finds a way and sneaks around for that precious, quick phone call just so she can hear the voices of loved ones on the other end and ease her loneliness.

She works seven days a week, from dawn to late at night and is rarely given any days off.

Often, she is paid less than what is stated in her contract but she takes it, as it is all she has got. Her employer even limits her social contact and she cannot go to the supermarket to buy her own toiletries. She asks the kindness of her neighbours to buy stuff for her in secret.

Imagine if this is what your mother, your daughter or your sister had to go through. And now, look at your maid!

Our idyllic late weekend breakfast was shattered one sunny day when we heard the distraught screaming of a woman a few houses away from ours. A Madam had sent her Cambodian maid out of her house sans belongings.

"Give me my money and my passport! I want to go home!" the maid screamed in surprisingly good English, as most Cambodians I've encountered hardly speak the language.

A few of us concerned neighbours approached her and asked why she was screaming and what was wrong!

Her Madam came out and started explaining what had happened. Without going into the details of the discussion, there are always two sides to any story. Both parties have equal rights to terminate the employment contract when either one is neither happy nor satisfied or a good working relationship seems impossible.

This does not justify, however, any employer withholding their maids' passports. It gets worse when the passport in question apparently expired three weeks prior to the exchange, and the employer cannot produce it because "it is still being renewed" in the time frame way beyond its validity.

Earlier that same day, a Filipina maid from across the street fled from her employer in tears. The only word she could apparently manage in between sobs was that "she couldn't take it anymore."

No mother, daughter or sister would willingly or gladly leave her family to go and work overseas. But she does it so her family will survive and she is often their only hope.

When we arrived in Kuala Lumpur a few months back, we received an Expat Welcome Pack complete with some useful guides for expatriates. It is packed with tips on how to set up your new life in a new country.

It also offers information on how to go about hiring domestic help. It is common knowledge that Filipina maids are paid higher than their Indonesian and Cambodian counterparts. In general, Indonesians and Cambodians are not given any days off and not allowed to retain cash in their belongings. Some Filipinas are subjected to these same conditions as well.

It has been in the news recently that all three governments of these nationalities have recently either halted or decreased their export of domestic workers due to allegations and reports of abuse and other forms of inhumane treatment.

Those who can afford household help are aware how maids ease up a lot of our load on the domestic front, whether it is minding the children, cleaning the house or doing the laundry and ironing clothes. If she can cook, then you've hit the jackpot.

I can truly appreciate having the help at home after living in The Netherlands for the past five years. My husband and I juggled everything from raising a baby and a toddler, working at our individual jobs and running a business. Hiring full-time help was out of the question financially.

Like any employer-employee relationship, domestic helpers are not perfect and sometimes do not perform their duties in the manner we expect things to be done. It is useful to remember when patience is wearing thin that they are not white-collar workers.

Had they been given the same opportunities most of us educated and highly-skilled individuals were given under the circumstances, they would not have chosen to become maids. But they do because it is often the only option they have.

It is a common belief that what we give out to the universe, we receive in return. Kindness begets kindness!

Treat a worker right and you will be rewarded with faithfulness and loyalty.

A little patience, a little compassion and a little understanding of their backgrounds and where they are coming from can help us manage our expectations.

They have feelings, they laugh, they cry,they get tired and they need rest. They miss the sons and daughters they left behind so they can clean your toilets and prepare your meals. Some are good and some are bad. Some are capable of taking advantage of us. But most of them come with good hearts and will love your children as if they were their own.

Like you and me, maids are people too!

Born and raised in the Philippines, Melinda is a marketing executive, entrepreneur and writer who just moved from the Netherlands to KL. This intrepid traveller loves scuba diving, good food and wine, and is happy to be back in the tropics with her Dutch husband and two daughters.

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Environmental watchdog makes scientific expedition in Tambunan

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 05:06 PM PST

KOTA KINABALU: A scientific expedition was made to an important water catchment area deep in Sabah's interior to ensure it is well preserved and continues to be a pristine source of life.

Environmental watchdog WWF-Malaysia made the trip with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) to the Liwagu sub-catchment area in Tambunan, about 80km from here from Nov 10 to today.

The main objective of the expedition was to gather information that contributes towards building critical knowledge for supporting the management of the sub-catchment area and the natural resources within it.

The expedition included surveys and investigations, as well as identification and establishment of sampling and research plots for future data collection.

"UMS is very excited to work with WWF-Malaysia and we believe we can complement each other in terms of expertise, skills and resources,"

said UMS' Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation director Dr Abdul Hamid Ahmad.

The collaboration between WWF-Malaysia and UMS will continue beyond the expedition and will extend throughout further research undertakings in the Liwagu sub-catchment area in the future including in documentation and distribution of research findings.

"This expedition will be an interesting one as this will be WWF-Malaysia's first scientific expedition that focuses on upland catchment area in Sabah," said WWF-Malaysia freshwater coordinator Daria Mathew.

The Liwagu sub-catchment in Tambunan has been WWF-Malaysia's project area since January last year and will end by December 2012. It is fully funded by HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd.

This project site focuses on sustainable management of freshwater resources and water catchment.

Its core targets are to improve the protection and sustainable management of freshwater resources, enhance management, conservation and restoration of wildlife in the area as well as to enhance the capacity and participation of local communities in catchment and natural resources management.

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A day to remember for couples

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 05:06 PM PST

KUANTAN: It was a special moment for couple Kang Chih Yuan and Quik Shieng Wei who registered their marriage at exactly 11.11am on Nov 11.

They were also the first in line at a mass wedding registration event at the Pahang Buddhist Association temple here, adding another one to their auspicious wedding date.

"We did not really expect it and were quite surprised when the temple staff told us we were number one," said accounts clerk Quik, 26.

The couple had been together for two years after being introduced to each other by their friends.

Insurance agent Yee Chun Han and beautician Tan See Yee were the 11th couple to have their marriage registered.

"We feel so lucky today to get an extra eleven," said Yee, 23.

He said they had planned to get married on that date as it was a beautiful date.

"We started dating since Form Four.

"After eight years together, I said why not get married on this special date," said Yee.

They were among 62 couples who decided to tie the knot at the event on Friday.

Meanwhile, engineer couple Ng Yean Min, 31, and Eng Pei Chee, 23, waited half a year just to get hitched on the special day.

"We have planned this for quite a while.

"The date is important to us as the numbers signify one promise, one family, one heart and my will to take careof my wife for the rest of our lives," said Ng.

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Running to promote healthy lifestyle

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 02:50 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: Members of the public are invited to participate in the Malakoff 'Run For Eco Awareness' organised by Malakoff Corporation Berhad (Malakoff) in collaboration with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

The company is expecting 1,400 contestants nationwide to participate in the run which is held to promote healthy lifestyle especially among youths.

Malakoff head of corporate affairs and external relations, Yusop Rashid said other than participating in a healthy activity, winners will be offered prizes worth up to RM8,000.

"We will choose 50 winners and the run will be held on Nov 26," he said adding that this event was a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programme.

The run comprises six categories including Open Category (21km distance, Men's, age between 18 and 39 and Women's, age between 18 and 34), Veteran Category (15km distance Men's, age above 40 and Women's, age above 35).

Other categories include inter-Department Category (15km distance, Men's and Women's), Inter-University (15km distance, Men's and Women's), Youth Category (10km distance, Men's and Women's, age between 15 and 18) and Fun Run Category (5km distance, Men's and Women's).

The run offers three packages with participation fees ranging between RM30 and RM50 per participant.

Participants have the option to join the run specifically or take part in the various outdoor activities organised a day prior to the run.

Yusop said that The Malakoff-UTM Eco Run 2011 was aimed to introduce physical awareness among the public and promote healthy lifestyle.

UTM also has lined up several exciting activities in conjunction with the run including horse riding and kayaking.

For details on the upcoming race, including the rules and regulations, please visit

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