Isnin, 5 Disember 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Fear factor

Posted: 06 Dec 2011 03:35 AM PST

Wendigos, angels, talking dolls and reapers... what makes your spine chill?

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition and it lies between the pit of man's fears and summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call ... The Twilight Zone.

THE Twilight Zone was the first TV series that really scared the bejesus out of me. Everything about the show creeped me out – from the eerie opening theme (doo-deee-doo-dooo ... YouTube it, I betcha you'll be scared too) to the above introduction that came before each episode (narrated by creator Rod Serling) to the amazing stories that were made to seem so plausible.

The show was created by war veteran Serling in 1956. It ran for five seasons and combined elements of science fiction, fantasy and the supernatural to tell stories of everyday people in extraordinary circumstances. The stories were told in half-hour episodes and there was no blood or gore, no outrageous props or super special effects. Heck, there was even no colour – the original was in black and white (only the 1980s remake was in full colour). I didn't watch the series to the finish, I only caught random episodes but I remember a few of them quite vividly.

In an episode titled Living Doll, Annabelle buys her daughter Christie a new doll, a talking doll (do you smell trouble?), much to the annoyance of her husband Erich, Christie's step-father. Erich thinks Christie has too many dolls; plus, he says, the talking doll is just too expensive.

Erich's a grinch, basically. He yells at Annabelle and Christie when they return from the store with the doll and the little girl runs to her room crying, leaving the talking doll behind. Annabelle goes to comfort the little girl. Erich (played by Telly Savalas aka Kojak) picks up the doll and winds it and she talks: "My name is Talking Tina and I don't like you."

Erich is a little taken aback. He winds the doll again and she says: "My name is Talking Tina and I think I could hate you." Erich chucks the doll on the floor and walks away.

At the dinner table, Christie pretends to feed Tina, as all little girls do. Tina behaves herself but when Annabelle and Christie aren't looking, she gives Erich an evil wink. Thus begins a duel between the two. Erich even tries to destroy Tina by setting her on fire and sawing off her head. These strategies don't work. She returns looking none the worse for wear. She laughs at him but, he doesn't give up. And neither does she: "My name is Talking Tina and I am going to kill you."

One night, Erich wakes up because he hears a noise downstairs. Talking Tina is "strategically" on the staircase. Erich trips over her and falls down the stairs. Annabelle runs to him. Talking Tina rolls down beside Erich, looks and Annabelle and says: "My name is Talking Tina and you'd better be nice to me." Cue music: doo-dee-dooo-dooo and the narration: "Of course we all know dolls can't really talk, and they certainly can't commit murder. But to a child caught in the middle of turmoil and conflict, a doll can be many things: a friend, a defender, a guardian. Especially a doll like Talking Tina who did talk and commit murder in the misty region of the Twilight Zone."

Creeped out much?

I swear after watching that episode, I developed an instant dislike for talking dolls. My dislike for clowns also stems from an episode of The Twilight Zone.

I watch spooky shows like a sissy – holding on to my blanket or a nearby curtain (sometimes I use them to cover one-and-a-half of my eyes). Though scared s***less, I still love watching shows about paranormal activity. And, to make matters worse, I particularly like watching them at night – sets the mood, don't you think?

The X-Files rocked my world in the 1990s even though I watched half of it crouched behind my mother (much to her annoyance: "Why do you watch it if you are afraid?"). One of the most disturbing X-Files episodes was Home (Season Four, Episode Two) – though it didn't have any aliens or ghosts, it is by far the creepiest episode! I wouldn't watch it again even if you paid me. Well, depends how much.

My current favourite? Supernatural! I only started watching the series a couple of weeks ago (yes, more than a little slow on the uptake) but I am hooked and it's not just because of the handsomeness of demon hunters Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) and his brother Sam (Jared Padalecki).

Dean and Sam have been hunting demons pretty much since their mother was killed by a demon when they were very young. Grief-stricken, their father John is hell-bent on seeking revenge on the demon(s) who murdered his wife. He goes on the road and takes his boys with him and, when they're old enough to handle a gun, teaches them to hunt demons and all things supernatural.

When the series starts, the boys are all grown up (and oh-so-handsome). Dean continues to hunt with his dad while Sam is in college, seeking a normal life. But when Dean comes to visit with news that John has disappeared while on a hunt, the boys pair up and search for their father and the yellow-eyed demon who killed their mamma.

Supernatural has got many things going for it. The writing is brilliant – series creator Eric Kripke and his team come up with some of the funniest lines on TV. Seriously. It's so clever, so real, so engaging and steeped in pop-culture that I find myself watching each episode at least twice to make sure I don't miss out on any of the dialogue. So, yeah, it is going to take me a while to get caught up to the current season (Season Seven).

The chemistry between the brothers is excellent too – they fight and then brush it off as siblings often do, they play pranks on each other and they tease each other mercilessly. But, they also look out for each other unconditionally. I'd say they love each other but some fansites have been speculating a bromance between the two (and they're often mistaken as a gay couple on the show) so let's not go there.

Then there is the supernatural element in the show. Demons, shape shifters, vampires, angels, vengeful spirits – you name it, you'll probably find them on Supernatural. Shows like these work on people's innate fears – every culture has its superstitions and folk lore and there are stories about ghosts and demons everywhere in the world. Death, God, good and evil – these are questions everyone thinks about at some point. Spooky shows kind of activate our uncertainties. Well, good shows do. With Supernatural, every episode is a new kind of spooky — not the muted and cliched things that go bump in the night that you'll find in a series like, say, Ghost Whisperer either (don't hate me all you Jennifer Love Hewitt fans).

So, why tune in to shows that only make me jump out of my skin? Well, here's the thing. I think it's science or something: when I watch spooky shows, my heart skips a beat or two. My brain registers this as a good thing and makes me want to come back for more. No, not really! I guess I'm just willing to endure the terror for the euphoric relief that almost always comes at the end.

It's just as well S. Indramalar has a huge fascination for the brothers Winchester and decided to wax lyrical about all things supernatural this week because her partner in crime Ann Marie Chandy just couldn't find the time to add her two sen worth (just so you know though, her favourite X-Files 'mutant' was Eugene Tooms and from Supernatural she was pretty spooked by the Albanian folklore monster the Sthriga!)

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'Real Housewives' star Kim Richards enters rehab

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 06:31 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: And the troubles keep on mounting for the ''The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills'' cast.

''RHoBH'' cast member Kim Richards has entered an undisclosed rehab facility to seek treatment, several sources confirm to ET Online.

Though it isn't clear what affliction Richards, 47, is seeking treatment for, her use of alcohol has become a point of concern on the series.

During the ''Beverly Hills'' season finale last January, Richards' sister, Kyle Richards, lashed out at her sister, accusing her of being an alcoholic.

More recently, in an episode that aired in October, Richards' new castmate, Brandi Glanville, accused Richards of being ''wasted out of her f--ing mind,'' an accusation that Richards denied at the time.

The second season of ''Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,'' which premiered in September, has already been marred by tragedy, with the August suicide of cast member Russell Armstrong - a month his wife, Taylor Armstrong, filed for divorce - casting a shadow over the season.

A spokesperson for Richards did not immediately respond to TheWrap's request for comment.

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Khloe Kardashian sued for assult and battery

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 05:57 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: Khloe Kardashian could have another hit on her hands - but not the kind that the ''Keeping Up With the Kardashians'' star would hope for.

In a lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Chantal Spears - also known as Ronald S. Spears - claims that Kardashian and 10 other unidentified defendants brutally attacked her.

According to the suit, Kardashian and her crew ''assaulted and battered plaintiff by violently striking plaintiff in and about her body.''

The attack - which the suit claims was unprovoked - allegedly took place Dec. 5, 2009 in Hollywood.

The suit goes on to state that the attack caused ''extreme and severe mental anguish and physical pain,'' and the injuries were so extensive that Spears had to consult surgeons.

Spears, who claims assault and battery and willful misconduct in the suit, is seeking unspecified ''general, exemplary and punitive'' damages, plus medical expenses and the cost of the lawsuit.

A representative for Kardashian and Spears' lawyer did not immediately respond to TheWrap's request for comment.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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South Korea's net nirvana spawns good, bad and ugly results

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 08:46 PM PST

SEOUL (Reuters) - On a single, dimly-lit floor in the towering central Seoul headquarters of Korea's National Police Agency, dozens of hard drives and mobile phones sit on shelves awaiting dissection.

A woman surfs the Internet on a computer for visitors at a registration desk at South Korean mobile carrier KT's headquarters in Seoul December 2, 2011. South Korea, with its near-ubiquitous Internet access and lightning-fast broadband connections, was ranked by the United Nations Telecommunication Union recently as the world's most advanced nation in terms of information and communication technology usage. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

Officials flit between cubicles, comparing notes, as above their heads massive LCD screens churn out graphs and charts for experts to interpret as all-clear signals or dire warnings.

It may lack the chaos of a physical battlefield, but the agency's Cyber Terror Response Center is the front line in South Korea's growing struggle against computer and Internet-related crime.

Established more than a decade ago, the response center now commands a network of 1,000 officials nationwide who monitor computer systems for viruses, hacking and related attacks and who conduct post-mortem investigations into those systems that have been compromised.

In one of the world's most wired countries, the center has no shortage of work.

South Korea, with its near-ubiquitous Internet access and lightning-fast broadband connections, was ranked by the United Nations Telecommunication Union recently as the world's most advanced nation in terms of information and communication technology usage.

The country is also known as the home of such technology giants as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.

Unfortunately, the country also holds less laudable titles. Data from U.S.-based Internet security research firm Team Cymru indicates South Korea is, by far, Asia-Pacific's leading host of peer-to-peer "botnets," compromised, Internet-connected computers typically used for illegal activities and usually without the owner's knowledge.

Steve Santorelli, Team Cymru's director of global outreach, says this represents the downside of being "one of the most connected places on the planet."

"Peer-to-peer based botnets are virtually impossible to kill...(the number in South Korea) is deeply disturbing," he said.

Computer security firm Symantec ranked South Korea seventh worldwide in terms of malicious online activity last year, up two notches from 2009 and trailing only far larger China and India in Asia.

"The cybercrime problem is constantly increasing," sighed Jung Suk-hwa, the Cyber Terror Response Center's soft-spoken investigation director. "Basically, Korea is a good place for it."


A series of high-profile attacks this year have highlighted vulnerabilities in South Korea's cherished communications infrastructure and thrust cybercrime squarely into the public spotlight.

In late November a hacking attack that targeted Korea-founded, Japan-based online gaming firm Nexon Co exposed the personal information of more than 13 million subscribers to one of its popular titles, casting a pall over its up to $1.3 billion (832 million pound) Tokyo IPO.

That followed a data breach of record scope in July at Nate and Cyworld, popular social networking sites operated by SK Communications. The incident affected the accounts of some 35 million users, equivalent to around 70 percent of the country's entire population.

In April hackers managed to access data on 23 percent of the 1.8 million customers of Hyundai Capital, a joint venture of GE Capital and Hyundai Motor.

The Nexon and SK Communications cases are still being investigated with the trail in the latter leading to China, where most attacks against Korean firms appear to originate, according to Jung.

Cybercrime has also rocked the political and national security spheres.

Police are currently investigating a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that crippled the National Election Commission's website during October by-elections, which the opposition alleges was the work of ruling party officials. And authorities in South Korea have linked North Korea to a series of hacks affecting financial, government and military websites.

Hacking and data theft have been issues for some time in South Korea's highly wired society, but "this is the first time we're seeing crimes of this magnitude," Jung says.

The local operations of global firms have not been immune. An August attack on a hosting provider temporarily brought down the local website and online banking operations of HSBC, while the same month an intrusion into Epson's Korea website exposed the personal details of around 350,000 customers, according to a company spokesman.


The spike in personal data leaks this year has fuelled the debate over the country's real name verification rules, which have been controversial since their introduction in 2005 in an attempt to moderate online discussions during election periods.

These require websites with more than 100,000 visitors daily to collect the names and personal details of users before the users can upload content or post comments.

By amassing private data, usually national resident registration numbers, on hundreds of thousands of people, South Korean websites create a tempting target for cybercriminals, says Park Kyung-sin, a professor of law at Korea University.

While the real name rules do not specifically require companies to store personal data, according to Park they are left with little choice in practice.

"If websites require identification each time people log on, people won't use them," Park said. "This makes it economically impractical for them to use one-time identification. The rules practically require the accumulation of personal data and also make it enormously profitable for companies to retain it."

Politicians such as Kim Sung-hoon, head of the digital policy committee of Korea's ruling Grand National Party (GNP), have campaigned for real name verification to be revoked.

In addition to restricting freedom of expression, the rules leave "no company safe at the moment, and we have to take fundamental action by abolishing them immediately," he said.

The country's Internet regulator, the Korea Communications Commission, is sticking to its guns. The agency acknowledges "questions over the effectiveness and suitability" of the rules and is "investigating every single step toward their improvement," said Oh Jung-taek, chief of the KCC's Network Ethics Department.

But real name verification is needed to discourage the online dissemination of defamatory remarks or rumours, particularly concerning North Korea, which "could give rise to serious trouble or social turmoil," Oh said.

"Given the special situation we have, it's inappropriate to talk about revoking the rules just a few years after they were implemented."


With the rules unlikely to disappear anytime soon, many companies are developing their own responses. Epson Korea no longer collects resident registration numbers, the company spokesman said. Hyundai Capital has established a separate information security unit and now assigns more than 10 percent of its IT budget to security, according to spokeswoman Fiona Bae.

Some companies have moved to bypass the rules altogether. Google, for example, has prevented users from uploading content or posting comments to the South Korean version of YouTube, stating that real name verification rules do not "fall in line with Google's principles."

The fight against cybercrime has seen some successes. In October the suspected hacker in the Hyundai Capital incident was apprehended in the Philippines. Incidents of online harassment, illegal website operations and piracy have dropped sharply over the last couple of years.

Authorities are trying to help companies shore up their online defences, with both the KCC and Cyber Terror Response Center offering information security training. The center also plans to boost manpower and cooperation with international authorities such as the Chinese police and Interpol, the National Police Agency's Jung says.

But with the number of hacking cases continuing to climb, Jung admits agencies like his lack the resources to turn a rising tide.

Critics of the real name requirements say their abolishment would do more to bolster the country's online security than any new software or hiring spree.

"No matter how much we invest in security to prevent cybercrime, it'll make no economic sense," says the GNP's Kim. "We'd do better to revoke the real name rules."

(Additional reporting by Seongbin Kang; Editing by David Chance and Matt Driskill)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Islamist rivals in Egypt election stand-off

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 03:50 PM PST

CAIRO (Reuters) - Rival Islamists in Egypt's parliamentary election played up their differences in a first-round run-off vote, with the top-placed Muslim Brotherhood anxious to show a moderate face to Egyptians hungry for stability.

A man casts his vote during the first day of the parliamentary run-off elections at a polling station in Cairo December 5, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

Hardline Salafis were the surprise runner-up in last week's opening stage, the biggest test of the public mood since street protests ended Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule in February.

But during the run-offs that conclude on Tuesday, both the Salafis and the Brotherhood are sounding lukewarm on the chances of forming a dominant Islamist bloc if they repeat their early success in subsequent voting rounds ending on January 11.

"There were attempts to unite but Salafis are very difficult," said Mohamed Hussein, 20, as he distributed leaflets for the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in front of a polling station in the port city of Alexandria.

"We may agree on certain things but we are different in vision and strategy," he said. "It is easier for me to talk with a liberal or a socialist than a Salafi."

The Salafi al-Nour's Party's leader Emad Abdel Ghaffour said the Brotherhood may try to paint the Salafis as troublemakers. "We hate being followers," he told Reuters.

Army generals have ruled a restive Egypt for nine months promising a transition to democratic civilian rule. Mass protests and street clashes in the run-up to the parliamentary vote forced them to bring forward their departure date.

The elected assembly, with its fresh popular mandate, will loom over the ruling military council until the army hands power to an elected president in mid-2012.

Despite its early electoral success, the Brotherhood seems unlikely to seek a showdown with the generals. Egypt's oldest Islamist group renounced violence long ago and has tended to avoid confrontation in furthering its aims.

Its chosen pitch for now is likely to be a new constitution that the new parliament will influence by appointing the assembly that will draft the document.


Voting was slow in Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said as the run-offs began on Monday, in contrast to the crowds at polling stations last week.

After the opening round, the FJP's party list won 36.6 percent of valid first-round votes, with al-Nour's list winning 24.4 percent and a liberal Egyptian Bloc on 13.4 percent.

But one fifth of the FJP's list included a variety of smaller parties that included the liberal al-Ghad (Tomorrow) party and the left-leaning Karama (Dignity), a precedent for possible cooperation between the Brotherhood and liberals.

Al-Nour - which wants to stop visitors wearing bikinis on the beach and ban alcohol, a death knell for tourism - quit an electoral alliance with the FJP before the vote, accusing the FJP of hogging too many seats on the list.

The Brotherhood's rivals say it bent campaigning rules by lobbying for votes outside polling stations. The movement said its rivals should accept the result as the will of the people.

Its early success was no surprise given its large network of activists and decades of grass-roots charity work.

But the strong showing by Salafis was a shock for many liberal Muslims and for Coptic Christians, who make up a tenth of Egypt's 80-million population.

"We still have high hopes that the silent majority in the coming two phases will go to the ballot boxes and we still rely on a comeback by the liberal wing," said Youssef Sidhom, editor-in-chief of Orthodox Coptic newspaper al-Watani.

Even if the Brotherhood consolidates its first-round success, Sidhom said, its more moderate members may prevail.

"They know they cannot honour the responsibility that has been bestowed upon them by the people by only preaching Islamic beliefs and a fundamentalist Islamic way of life," he said.

Under a complex system, two-thirds of the 498 elected lower house seats go proportionately to party lists, with the rest going to individual candidates, who must win more than 50 percent of votes in the first round to avoid a run-off.

Only four seats were won outright in the first round, leaving 52 to be decided in the run-off voting on Monday and Tuesday, 24 of them contested between the FJP and al-Nour. Other seats will be decided in later rounds.

(Additional reporting by Tamim Elyan, Maha Dahan and Edmund Blair; Writing by Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Clashes erupt in Congo ahead of vote results

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 03:48 PM PST

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Clashes erupted between protesters and security forces in parts of Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday as diplomats scrambled to defuse tensions ahead of the country's full election results.

A riot policeman sits atop a minibus in Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa December 5, 2011. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun

Police fired tear gas at opposition supporters in Kinshasa, and gunfire rang out in a city in West Kasai province, an opposition stronghold, after the government shut down a television and radio broadcaster.

The U.N. mission in Congo led a delegation of diplomats to meet with incumbent President Joseph Kabila and his main rival, Etienne Tshisekedi, to ease tensions stretched by allegations the November 28 poll was mismanaged and fraudulent.

Partial preliminary results released so far - representing about 68 percent of the ballots cast - showed Kabila with about 46 percent of the vote to Tshisekedi's 36 percent, but the opposition has said they would reject the outcome. Full preliminary results are expected as early as Tuesday.

At least 18 people have been killed in election-related violence, according to Human Rights Watch, and a senior member of Kabila's camp said the government will have to call in the army if protests become "too chaotic."

"We cannot let chaos prevail. If the situation becomes too chaotic for the police, we will definitely call for the army to come and help," Kikaya Bin Karubi, Congo's ambassador to Britain and a top official in Kabila's camp, told Reuters.

The first locally organised and funded election since the official end of years of war in 2003 was meant to offer hope that the mineral-rich, crisis-riddled giant may stabilise.

But fears are mounting a rejection of the results will pave the way for further bloodshed.


A national mediation commission is in place and former Zambian President Rupiah Banda may be involved in further talks, sources said. The United Nations peacekeeping mission also led a delegation that included Russian and Gabonese ambassadors to meet with Kabila and Tshisekedi.

Karubi said mediation was a "non-starter" as there was no current conflict, though a spokesman for Banda said he had been approached and was ready to travel to Congo.

"He is just waiting for the U.N. to send a plane for him to travel. He has accepted to mediate," a spokesman for Banda told Reuters, asking not to be named.

Tshisekedi enjoys broad support in Congo's sprawling capital Kinshasa, raising worries a Kabila win will spark unrest in the city of 10 million people.

Sirens blared as police convoys pushed through Kinshasa traffic Monday afternoon, and women and children piled into boats along the Congo River to leave for Congo Republic on the other bank, fearing an outbreak of violence.

"We decided to leave Kinshasa for Brazzaville to stay with family while we wait and see how things develop," said Paulette Pombo, a 43-year-old who sells drinks at a Kinshasa market.

Police used teargas on a crowd of opposition supporters who had gathered near Tshisekedi's residence in Kinshasa, a witness and an opposition party official said.

Gunfire also erupted in the city of Mbuji Mayi in West Kasai province after Tshisekedi supporters protested the closure of a local opposition television and radio station, provincial civil society leader Alexis Kasuasua said.

Tshisekedi supporters had been attempting to block roads in the city and were being dispersed, Alphonse Kasanji, the governor of West Kasai, told Reuters.

There were no reports of injuries from either incident.

In Brussels, home to a large community of Congolese immigrants, police used water cannon to break up a crowd of Tshisekedi supporters, some of whom were burning trash in the street and shouting slogans. Scuffles were also reported outside Congolese embassies in South Africa and France.

Congo's Catholic Church urged election authorities on Sunday to ensure published poll results were a true reflection of voters' intentions and warned that a dispute over the election could trigger major unrest.

Congo's election commission defied all odds to hold the presidential and parliamentary poll last week. Often chaotic and at times violent, voting had to be stretched over three days due to delays in places.

International observers have warned that the various steps of the counting process after the initial tally at polling stations have been poorly organised, with ballots and results sheets often being lost or destroyed in the process.

Kabila's camp has said the president would accept defeat. But it accused the opposition of readying people for protests and said he will not tolerate any threats to his authority on the streets in the event of him winning.

(Additional reporting by Chris Mfula in Lusaka, Mark John in Brussels, and Christion Tsoumou in Brazzaville; writing by Richard Valdmanis; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Young Shahkirah relishes life in the fast lane

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 05:01 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: "I want to be the first Formula 1 woman driver from Malaysia," Siti Shahkirah Shaharul says matter-of-factly when asked of her ambitions in motorsports.

It may sound naïve, coming from a 17-year-old who has just completed her SPM examinations, but Shahkirah knows what she wants. Better yet, this young lady driven by her passion for speed knows how to live that dream.

The Subang girl got her first taste of the sport when her father, Shaharul Mohd Ali, took her to the local go-kart track. It was just a family outing where the six-year-old Shahkirah got to try out the karts.

Her two brothers showed little interest but Shahkirah went on to compete in her first go-kart race at nine.

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Strong rivalry among teams points to an exciting 2012 season

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 04:59 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: The Petronas AAM Malaysian Cub Prix Championships ended on Sunday with the emergence of stronger rivalry among the teams – fuelling prospects of another intense season next year.

The 10th round finale at Esplanade in Penang saw Honda ending Yamaha's good run in the series.

Harian Metro TEQ SCK Honda Racing put up a tremendous performance to bag a double in the CP130 category – winning the individual title through Norizman Ismail as well as the team crown.

This is Norizman's second CP130 Expert title since 2005. There was further joy for the team when team-mate Mohd Affendi Rosli ended second overall.

But not all was lost for the Yamaha camp as Shahril Izzuwan Mohd Noor (Petronas Syntium Moto Yamaha AHM) won the CP115 category while Zulsyafiz Rosli (MOS Malaysia Racing) aced the Wira class.

Suzuki have also shown vast improvement, finishing fourth overall in the Wira class and proving that they will be a threat next season.

Safe Aim Mutual Sdn Bhd (SAM) promotions director Ron Hogg said: "This has been an exciting year for both the cub prix contingent and its legion of fans.

"We have seen seven different riders claim the CP130 chequered flag and we can expect things to heat up even more next season.

"This year we also had two Malaysian riders – Mohd Zamri Baba and Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah – riding in the Moto2 category of the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP) as wildcards."

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Prime Minister hails Nicol as Malaysia’s most successful sports icon

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 04:58 PM PST

PUTRAJAYA: Squash queen Nicol David was in high spirits after a short meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday.

The world No. 1 returned home last week after a gruelling, but outstanding, season in which she won a record sixth world title and seven Women's International Squash Players Association (Wispa) titles.

She recovered superbly from two surprise defeats, in the Singapore Masters and US Open, before going on to rewrite history and put Malaysia firmly on the world sports map.

That prompted Najib to invite Nicol and her parents – Desmond David and Anne Marie – to his office at the Perdana Putra Complex where he congratulated her for her record-breaking feat and phenomenal success over the years.

Najib hailed Nicol as Malaysia's "most successful sports icon", saying her ability to win the world title a record six times was a great accomplishment. He hoped that her success would spur other athletes to excel in their respective sports.

"On behalf of the government and the people of Malaysia, I would like to extend Nicol our heartiest congratulations," he said.

"She is the perfect role model for aspiring athletes and all young Malaysians."

"It was really a great honour to meet the Prime Minister and have him congratulate me and my parents for my success," said the 28-year-old Nicol.

"I'm really grateful because without the support of the government, Sport Ministry, National Sports Council (NSC), SRAM and all the people back home, I wouldn't have achieved anything."

Nicol is home for a short break before heading back to Amsterdam, where she is based, to prepare for the Wispa World Series Finals in London from Jan 4-8.

"It's good to be back, but home really is Penang and I can't wait to meet my friends and enjoy the food," said Nicol.

"I will be heading home tomorrow for a short break. Vicki Cardwell (the Aussie former world No. 1) and her son Josh will be in Penang to train and spar with me later this month.

"For now, I just want to enjoy my holiday and spend time with my family."

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The Star Online: Business

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Eligible firms can apply to be private retirement scheme providers

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 04:31 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The Securities Commission (SC) has finalised the eligibility requirements for private retirement scheme (PRS) providers and eligible firms can now make submissions to be approved as PRS providers.

The recent enactment of the Capital Markets and Services Amendment Act 2011 provided the regulatory framework for a PRS industry, including empowering the SC to approve PRS providers.

According to the SC, a selected number of suitably qualified and experienced providers with the required expertise in pension or retail fund management would be approved to offer PRS schemes with an appropriate range of dedicated retirement funds catering for different investment and risk profiles.

"Applicants will be assessed on their financial standing and organisational capabilities, including meeting relevant capital requirements, internal control and risk management practices.

"Qualitative factors such as governance structure, reputation and professional standing as well as track record and commitment to grow the PRS industry will also be taken into consideration.

"They will need to outline the business model for offering of PRS including the proposed range of funds, indicative fees and structure of charges as well as their ability to meet the specific administrative requirements of the PRS, such as resourcing capabilities, systems and process capabilities and member servicing," the SC said in a statement yesterday.

Once the PRS providers are approved by the SC, they will be required to make an application to the SC for approval of their proposed PRS scheme, which will provide options for the public to supplement their retirement savings by making additional voluntary long-term contributions within a well-structured and regulated environment.

PRS guidelines will be released by the SC for this purpose.

"The PRS industry is intended to complement and supplement the existing mandatory schemes of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF). The framework can be used by individuals who have disposable income to save as well as employers to make voluntary contributions above the EPF contributions on behalf of their employees," said the SC.

Measures to incentivise participation in PRS had been announced in the 2012 budget speech, whereby a personal tax relief of up to RM3,000 would be given for contributions by individuals to PRS approved by the SC as well as tax deductions to employers for contributions above the statutory rate up to 19% of employees' remuneration.

Furthermore, a tax exemption was also announced on income received by funds within the PRS schemes.

It was reported that the measures were meant to address the problem of inadequate savings among retirees, as studies showed that a whopping 70% of all retirees tend to exhaust their savings within 10 years.

Interested applicants are to submit their applications to the SC by Feb 15, 2012. More information about the eligibility requirements, as well as the format of applications, can be obtained on the SC website.

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Analysts positive on TNB deal with Malakoff

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 04:21 PM PST


PETALING JAYA: Analysts are generally positive on Tenaga Nasional Bhd's (TNB) power purchase agreement (PPA) with Malakoff Corp as power generation capacity will continue to grow.

"We are positive on the news, for TNB will need to secure adequate power generation capacity to meet the annual 4%-5% or 4,000GWh-5,000GWh per annum to cater for the growing power demand in Peninsular Malaysia," Hong Leong Research said.

AmResearch said that together with TNB's additional 1,000MW block at its coal-fired Janamanjung plant in Lumut, the additional capacities were clearly needed by 2016 to raise Peninsular Malaysia's power reserve margin to over 20%.

On Friday, TNB announced it had signed a PPA with Tanjung Bin Energy, a unit of Malakoff Corp to design, construct, own, operate and maintain an electricity generating plant with a normal capacity of 1,000MW to be located at Tanjung Bin, Serkat in Johor.

In a filing to Bursa Malaysia, TNB said the power plant, expected to be operational from March 1, 2016, would make available its generating capacity to TNB for 25 years.

TNB said its unit, TNB Fuel Services (TNBF), which is engaged in the business of supplying fuel and coal for power generation, has inked a coal supply deal with Tanjung Bin Energy to help it meet its obligations under the agreement.

TNB said the PPA commitments would have a huge impact on its earnings upon the achievement of project completion and commencement of operations of the facility.

Hong Leong Research estimated the additional 1,000MW coal power plant would be able to supply up to 6,500GWh a year.

"Furthermore, coal energy could be the cheapest fuel energy to produce power by 2016, which is only 14.5 sen per kWh (assuming coal price at US$115 a tonne).

Malaysia's natural gas price for the power industry is expected to rise gradually from RM13.70 per million metric British thermal units (mmbtu) currently to RM40.70 per mmbtu by end-2015 (in accordance to the EPU schedule)."

"Thus, natural gas energy will eventually cost about 40 sen a kWh, which is more expensive than coal energy, but still cheaper than alternative energy costing 50 to 60 sen per kWh," the research house said.

Nevertheless, Hong Leong Research said TNB was expected to receive average tariff hikes of 1.56 sen per kWh for every RM3 per mmbtu hikes in natural gas price.

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Malaysia Airports targets good growth

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 04:15 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Holdings Bhd (MAHB) targets a higher EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of RM822mil for the next financial year ending Dec 31 compared to the current financial year.

In a filing to Bursa Malaysia yesterday, MAHB in its headline key performance indicators (KPIs) said that based on the expected GDP growth of 5% to 6% and assuming world economic environment would remain reasonably stable, it was expected that MAHB's 2012 passenger traffic across all airports would grow by 6.6%.

MAHB added that its targeted return on equity (ROE) for next year was at 10.42% and to be in the top five in airport service quality awards.

This year, MAHB targeted an EBITDA of RM773mil and ROE of 10.7%.

The headline KPIs are set based on MAHB's strategic plans and longterm targets developed under MAHB's five-year business direction (2010-2014) planning initiatives with emphasis on the broader internal initiatives that are put in place for 2012.

On the aviation industry outlook, MAHB said that following the growth in 2010, passenger growth momentum at airports operated by MAHB group continued with vigour in 2011.

"We believe 2011 will again end with a double-digit passenger growth of about 10%. The sustained higher than expected 2011 passenger growth indeed promises further growth in 2012," it said.

Globally, MAHB said, there were fears of economic weakening especially in Europe and to a certain extent in the United States and oil price was also predicted to be on an uptrend where the possibility of another economic downturn remained.

"Despite the slowing economies and lower economic growth, airports operated by the MAHB group have done well in the past three years in terms of passenger growth. This is expected to continue though at a reduced level.

"We expect low cost travel would continue to grow as legacy carriers streamline their operations. The International Civil Aviation Organisation has forecast 6.2% in global passenger growth and 8.8% for Asia Pacific region for 2012, mainly driven by China and India," it said.

On the other hand, the International Air Transport Association has estimated global passenger growth to be lower, at 4.6%.

KLIA2 construction will continue to be a priority and with the projected passenger growth, MAHB expected a challenging but profitable year ahead. The headline KPIs were targets meant to drive MAHB's performance in 2012 and signalled its commitment towards transparent performance measures and good corporate governance.

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Give us the titles you promised, Coalfield folk tell Selangor MB

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 03:11 PM PST

RESIDENTS in Kampung Sri Aman, Coalfield, in Sungai Buloh have asked the Selangor government to issue them land titles instead of trying to relocate them, reported Malaysia Nanban.

The residents said Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim had promised them titles within three months if PKR won power in Selangor during the last general election.

Khalid who met the residents in Sungai Buloh yesterday said the previous state government had entered into a joint venture with a private developer in 2001 to develop the area and therefore the land titles could not issued as he had promised.

He said matter was taken to court and, on Oct 25, the court ruled in favour of the residents.

He said the state government had three proposals to build houses for the residents, develop the area into a housing estate or issue land titles.

He said the views of the residents would be sought before a final decision was made.

> The paper also reported that Barisan Nasional secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the Government was ready to help Indian youngsters become successful.

After a gathering of 7,000 Indian youths organised by Kajang Recreation Club at the Mines Conference Hall in Seri Kembangan on Saturday, he said more job opportunities were being created for Indian youths.

> Police are questioning a 38-year-old man for allegedly keeping his wife's rotting body at his home for three days after she committed suicide following a tiff between them in Chennai, South India, reported Makkal Osai.

Police said S. Parthasarathy, who works in a printing firm, regularly returned home drunk and had fights with his wife.

Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with this > sign, it denotes a separate news item.

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African students create a ruckus in Mantin

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 03:11 PM PST

IMMIGRATION officers, who had detained several African students who had flouted regulations, faced a standoff with other students in Mantin, Berita Harian reported.

It said the other Africans, who were unhappy over the detention of their coursemates, started verbally abusing the Immigration officers at about 4.30am.

One of the students drove a car to block and prevent the Immigration vehicle with about 50 students from moving.

A scuffle broke out between the Immigration officers and students, but the timely intervention of Rela officers prevented any untoward incident.

State enforcement chief Abdul Kadir Hussin said the students always created problems whenever operations were being carried out.

He said two students had been detained for obstructing civil servants from carrying out their duties while 46 others, most of them Africans, were detained in the seven-hour operation for having expired student passes, overstaying and having forged passports.

Abdul Kadir said a 24-year-old woman who was caught for "close proximity" with an African in an apartment unit had been handed over to the Negri Sembilan Islamic Religious Affairs Department.

> Sinar Harian reported that a young girl was molested while sleeping at her home in Jertih last Wednesday.

The girl's mother, a shop assistant, thought her daughter had been raped when she saw "redness" around the girl's private parts.

The girl cannot remember anything apart from recalling a man in trousers in her room.

She was sent to the USM Hospital in Kubang Kerian where doctors confirmed she had not been raped.

Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with this > sign, it denotes a separate news item.

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Karpal: Datukships put DAP in ‘awkward spot’

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 03:11 PM PST

DAP national chairman Karpal Singh regrets that two party leaders had accepted the Datukship awards bestowed on them by their respective Rulers, reported Nanyang Siang Pau.

He said Perak DAP chairman Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham and Selangor Assembly Speaker Datuk Teng Chang Khim's acceptance of the award had put the party in an "awkward spot".

"Their acceptance was not in line with the party's stand and principle as only party members who had retired or were not politically active are allowed to accept titles," he said.

Ngeh and Teng were conferred titles in 2008 and 2010 respectively.

Asked if their refusal would be perceived as an insult to the Rulers, Karpal said it was the party's stand and therefore, would not be deemed an insult.

> Sin Chew Daily reported that teenage girls nowadays were ready to "sell their bodies" for a fee.

Among contents posted by the girls on forums and Facebook were charges for each session, their vital statistics and places where their services could be performed.

They were mostly students who cited money as the reason for their willingness to become "social escorts".

One of them, a 19-year-old from Ipoh, needed the money to buy branded items.

Another girl, who calls herself "little fish", said being a "social escort" was her part-time job as she was still a college student.

Their actions have won the admiration of 2,500 forum members, with some male members even sharing their experiences after their trysts with the girls.

> The daily also reported that five Taiwanese tourists claimed that they lost RM20,000 to a bogus cop while shopping in Petaling Street.

One, known as Lim, said the man who looked like a West Asian, stopped them at the popular shopping area.

He said at first, they ignored the man in plainclothes, although the suspect had flashed a "police identification card".

"But when he whipped out a gun, we became fearful and allowed him to conduct a body search.

"After taking all our money, he ran to a car parked nearby and fled," he told Taiwan media.

Lim only learnt about a syndicate in Malaysia which targeted foreign tourists after returning to Taiwan.

Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with this > sign, it denotes a separate news item.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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''Tyrannosaur'' rules British Independent Film Awards

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 03:05 AM PST

LONDON, (Reuters): Actor/director Paddy Considine's debut feature ''Tyrannosaur,'' about a widower trying to conquer crippling anger, picked up three honours at the British Independent Film Awards including best picture.

Considine also won the Douglas Hickox Award for best first-time director and Olivia Colman scooped the actress prize for her portrayal of Hannah.

Other notable winners at the awards, which took place in London late on Sunday, were Lynne Ramsay as best director for ''We Need to Talk About Kevin'' and Michael Fassbender for his acclaimed performance as a sex-obsessed New York businessman in ''Shame.''

Stage and screen veteran Vanessa Redgrave won the best supporting actress category for ''Coriolanus,'' Ralph Fiennes' directorial debut, and Michael Smiley was named best supporting actor for ''Kill List.''

The best screenplay honour went to Richard Ayoade for ''Submarine,'' spy novel adapation ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' won the technical achievement category and ''Senna,'' about the late Brazilian Formula One champion Ayrton Senna, was named best documentary.

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Win Mission: Impossible Goodies

Posted: 04 Dec 2011 10:44 PM PST

Ethan Hunt is back in action but this time he is being blamed for the terrorist bombing of the Kremlin. The attack leaves Ethan out in the cold when he is disavowed along with his team by the President of the United States when he initiates "Ghost Protocol". Ethan now must find a way to clear his agency's name and to also prevent another attack. But it's not going to be easy when the people you have to depend on have their own agendas.

Will Ethan clear his name and that of his agency's? Catch Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol at an IMAX theatre near you. eCentral and United International Pictures want you to win limited edition Mission: Impossible merchandise. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol opens in cinemas this 21 December.

To take part, answer the questions below:

1. In the latest Mission: Impossible movie, Ethan is blamed for the bombing of what building in Russia?

2. Name the director of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

Email your answers with your details (name, address, IC number and contact number) to by 9 December 2011. Title the subject GHOST PROTOCOL.

Movie Prizes

Mission Impossible puzzle X 2

Mission Impossible helicopter flying drone X 2

Mission Impossible adventure flask X 5

Rules & Regulations

1. The contest is open to all Malaysian residents residing in Malaysia only.

2. To qualify for a prize, contestants must include relevant personal details (full name, address, new IC number , contact number). Email your answers to

3. Contestants may only submit one entry each. Multiple entries will be disqualified.

4. One prize is allowed per contestant only.

5. Prizes are not exchangeable for cash and the organizer reserves the right to exchange the prize with that of a similar value without prior notice.

6. Staff of The Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad, sponsors and their immediate families are not allowed to participate.

7. Judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entertained.

8. Judges will be from The Star Online.

9. For enquiries, please e-mail

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'Twilight' movie wins slow box office weekend

Posted: 04 Dec 2011 07:24 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The newest ''Twilight'' vampire movie ruled the domestic box office for a third time with $16.9 million in ticket sales over one of the slowest movie-going weekends of the year, studio estimates released Sunday showed.

''The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1,'' from independent studio Summit Entertainment, beat a pack of family films at U.S. and Canadian theaters. The fourth and second-to-last film in one of Hollywood's most lucrative franchises added $40.2 million at international locations.

After three weekends in theaters, ''Breaking Dawn'' has soaked up $588.3 million in global ticket sales.

The ''Twilight'' movies are based on best-selling novels by Stephenie Meyer about a human-vampire-werewolf love triangle.

The third domestic win in a row for ''Breaking Dawn'' came during the post-Thanksgiving weekend, typically one of the bleakest of the year at movie theaters following big releases a week earlier.

This year, total U.S. and Canadian ticket sales rang up at an estimated $82 million for the weekend, making it the year's second slowest, according to Box Office. Overall sales only slightly edged the $81.5 million take from the Sept. 9 weekend that followed Labor Day.

With no new films released nationwide, sales also slumped 4.8 percent below the same weekend last year.

After ''Breaking Dawn,'' the rest of the weekend's top five belonged to family fare.

Disney's ''The Muppets,'' starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams alongside Kermit, Miss Piggy and their puppet friends, rang up $11.2 million at North American (U.S. and Canadian) theaters. The movie represents a comeback for the Muppet characters, last seen in movie theaters in 1999. Worldwide sales for the new film have reached $60.1 million through Sunday.

''Hugo,'' a 3D family movie about an orphaned boy who lives in a 1930s Paris train station, moved up to third place from its fifth-place finish last weekend after expanding to more theaters. The film pulled in $7.6 million domestically, bringing its total after two weekends to $25.2 million.

Animated 3D movie ''Arthur Christmas,'' which explains how Santa delivers presents around the world in one night, pulled in $7.4 million domestically to finish in fourth place. To date, the movie has brought in $70.6 million worldwide.

In fifth place, dancing penguin sequel ''Happy Feet Two'' earned $6.0 million at domestic theaters. Total global sales reached $85.8 million after three weekends of release.

Walt Disney Co released ''The Muppets.'' Privately held Summit Entertainment released ''Breaking Dawn: Part 1.'' ''Arthur Christmas'' was distributed by Sony, and Hugo was released by Paramount, a unit of Viacom Inc. Time Warner unit Warner Bros. distributed ''Happy Feet Two.''

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Residents keep watch on slope conditions in Bukit Antarabangsa

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 04:29 AM PST

THE big green patch of land nestled along Jalan Bukit Antarabangsa is a stark reminder of the tragedy that shook the nation on Dec 6, 2008.

A total of RM70mil was spent to stabilise the landslide-hit area, which was completed by the Public Works Department.

Victims of the landslide are still haunted by the incident, which is still fresh on their minds.

One such resident, who has become a household name in the neighbourhood since the tragedy is Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan Abdul Rahman.

"It is difficult to describe the feeling, you can also say that it has left a painful scar for many people," he said.

Dr Rafick said after three years there has been some improvements made by the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ).

He added that MPAJ has been pushing developers and land owners to check on their land and maintain them well.

"But I feel there is no coordinated effort by the residents to check for signs of cracks and to see if the drains are in good condition.

"If another landslide occurs, you cannot totally blame it on the authorities. Residents should also shoulder the responsibility.

"They too must do systematic inspection but I feel the residents lack the knowledge," said Dr Rafick, adding that the residents association was not as committed to the task as it was done on a voluntary basis.

A community programme, SlopeWatch, under the Coalition of Bukit Antarabangsa Residents Associations (Cobara) however, aims to educate residents on slope maintenance and how to spot signs of failure.

Its programme director Eriko Motoyama said with knowledge, residents would gain a sense of control and acquire a higher resilience to risk.

"Landslides can be mitigated. We can reduce how badly affected we are as well as shorten the recovery time," she said.

Motoyama said landslides would not happen overnight and a cluster of tell-tale signs would usually appear beforehand.

"People should be more observant of their surroundings.

"Anyone who sees a sign of a landslide should report it to the local authorities and ensure there is follow-up," she said, adding that people should not press the panic button when seeing the signs either.

She also said they had developed a system within the Bukit Antarabangsa community where complaints or reports on slope problems would be channeled to them either directly, through the local councillor or head of housing area.

Motoyama said so far, the programme has processed 70 reports on such signs within the two-and-a-half years of its formation and have even received requests to look at slope issues in other areas and states.

"We have established a close working relationship with the MPAJ which in turn enables quicker action and feedback," she said, adding that they hope to formalise SlopeWatch into a non-governmental organisation soon.

She added that the theme for the third anniversay of the landslide this year would be more towards taking care of the environment.

SlopeWatch together with MPAJ went to inspect some of the places that had been identified with problems recently.

The inspection team, which was headed by MPAJ slope division head Zafrul Fazry Mohd Fauzi checked three homes in Jalan Kelab Ukay 3 in Ukay Perdana.

One of the houses had a pipe leakage, which was causing water to flow from underground while another had water coming out from a retaining wall.

After further inspection, Zafrul said they would contact Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Bhd (Syabas) to check the leakage.

He said if left unattended, the leak could cause erosion underground.

"Water tend to carry soil and it is also a loss for Syabas because of wastage," he said.

As for the water coming out from retaining wall, Zafrul said: "It is probably due to rain but it always a good sign otherwise it will soak in the soil, which is not good. A drain needs to be built to channel the water properly. So far there are no immediate signs of potential landslip as the wall looks strong and built well."

He added that it would take about two weeks to do the drain as the council would have to check the land status.

According to the affected resident Zaini Nordin, the problem with the pipe was about two months old.

He said although his house was not directly affected, the condition was directly affecting his neighbour's house.

"I had informed SlopeWatch and MPAJ, who had responded in less than a week to rectify the situation, so this is good," he said.

Meanwhile, SlopeWatch member John How said they had carried out inspection after the reports were made to them.

He said it was important for the residents to come forward because nothing can be done if they keep quiet.

"The collaboration from MPAJ, Syabas and Public Works Department has been effective.

"However we need the people to help us monitor their own areas," he said.

According to MPAJ president Datuk Mohammad Yacob, the council's Disaster Control Room has been on standby for the past month.

"Whenever the rainy season approaches, we will have three teams on standby to handle any disasters such as landslides, soil erosion, flash floods and fallen trees," he said.

So far, this year there has only been one landslip incident in Lembah Jaya.

There were also reports of fallen trees due to strong winds.

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Alam Flora to initially distribute 361,661 units for proper waste disposal

Posted: 05 Dec 2011 04:11 AM PST

WITH its intent to transform the solid waste management and public cleansing industry into an integrated and efficient sector, Alam Flora has started distributing bins in Kuala Lumpur this month.

Some 361,661 new bins will be distributed to all residential premises in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Kuantan and Pekan by April 2012.

The 120-litre bins with lids have a waste capacity of between 50kg and 60kg, and are safe and clean for both users and Alam Flora rubbish collecting team.

The second phase will target commercial premises where 240-litre bins will be given out. Food courts will receive 1,100-litre bins.

Highrise residential buildings will be given 660-litre and 1,100-litre capacity bins depending on its waste volume.

Alam Flora Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Zain Hassan said the company was spending RM802mil over the next four years to buy equipment and improve technology to enhance the level of professionalism in line with the privatisation exercise.

This is following a 22-year concession agreement between Alam Flora and two other concessionaires with the federal government for the privatisation of solid waste management.

The Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Act 2007 (Act 627) is being enforced with the implementation of Alam Flora's full privatisation of solid waste and public cleansing services in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.

"We are kick-starting it in Bangsar Baru. I urge all residents to accept a bin as it is free. These hardy bins could be used for seven years but ideally we will replace them after five years.

"There is no hidden agenda or increased assessment tax and residents need not fear.

''We also have records of each bin given to each house so that we can keep track of them.

"If the bins are damaged or stolen, the onus is on the resident to inform Alam Flora. For bins that have been stolen, a police report should be made," said Zain during a bin distribution programme in Bangsar Baru yesterday.

He said the company would also be increasing the number of rubbish compactors in Kuala Lumpur from 66 to 130 units.

The new vehicles, which would come in two sizes, would be fitted with a special lifting mechanism with a proper seal to avoid dirty water leakage.

"Collection time and day will remain the same," said Zain, adding that 254,220 bins were allocated for Kuala Lumpur, 15, 543 for Putrajaya, 85,915 for Kuantan and 5,983 for Pekan.

He added that by September 2012, Alam Flora would set a once-a -week schedule for garden, bulk and recycled waste.

Bangsar Baru Residents Association chairman Datuk George Joseph said the association would be teaching its residents' ways on proper rubbish disposal and how to use the new bins.

The association would also be educating the residents on this through a special edition newsletter by early next year. "The success of the programme not only depends on Alam Flora but also on the residents. They must be aware and need to know how to use the bins. Otherwise the bins won't be fully utilised," he said.

There are 1,800 land property households in Bangsar Baru and about 60% of the residents are senior citizens.

Joseph added there were still some residents who were sceptical of the free bin distribution by Alam Flora as they felt there was a catch behind it.

"We need to educate them and see this as a way of improving rubbish disposal and collection," he said.

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