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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Laid to rest

Posted: 10 Dec 2011 11:22 PM PST

This compelling documentary brings to light the truth behind one of Malaysia's most notorious and gruesome murders — that of Canny Ong.

FEW tragedies have inspired the same curiosity, horror and astonishment as Canny Ong's murder. When news of the sadistic attack first surfaced in 2003, a trail of wild, speculative and half-baked conspiracy theories followed in its wake. Almost every Malaysian had an opinion about it.

"She had a chance to escape," people blogged. "She was a black belt in taekwondo, why didn't she call for help?" others asked.

When you get a case where the evidence is just so clear cut, the only question remaining at the end of it is ... why? Why such brutality?

To make sense out of the seemingly senseless crime, people began to come up with answers of their own.

Chris Humphrey, executive producer for AETN All Asia Networks, thinks the "why" question is what made Canny Ong's one of the most-talked-about murders in Malaysia.

"Girl goes to car, girl gets abducted, murdered and then disposed of – all, for absolutely no reason. How can you understand it? You can't right? It's completely senseless," he says.

The stories have come and gone full circle.

Some say the victim knew her abductor and had a personal relationship with him. Others speculate that she was ridden with debt, and her demise was at the hands of a disgruntled loan shark.

Humphrey adds: "The press, of course, look at a story and feel the need to make something of it.

"But when one can't make sense of it, people try to do the understanding for you. And that's when you start to get opinions, non-truths, theories and ideas."

The story of how an attractive 28-year-old IT analyst was abducted, brutally raped, murdered and left to die before her charred remains were discovered three days later in a manhole along Jalan Klang Lama in Kuala Lumpur hasn't just haunted the Malaysian public. Its impact manifested in civilian efforts to initiate anti-rape rallies and calls by the Government for shopping malls to beef up car park security.

But perhaps the most potent after-effect was felt by the family she left behind.

Insensitive rumours and sensational media reports have over the years left Ong's family wary, suspicious and tired of the constant intrusions and "irrelevant" probes into her private life.

This is partly why, after eight years of silence, the decision by Ong's mother Pearly Visvanathan Ong to finally come out and tell her side of the story is of such great interest.

After all these years, an honest, straight forward account, free from sensationalist theories, seems very much in order. Hopefully this will provide closure, not just for her family who have had to endure so much, but also, the memory of Canny Ong.

Setting the record straight

Plain facts, backed by documentation, are what make up the back bone to The Murder Of Canny Ong – a documentary by director Ahmad Yazid, co-directed by Rob Nevis and produced by Lydia Lubon.

The show, commissioned by AETN All Asia Networks exclusively for the Crime and Investigation Network, aims to shed light on the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death, and lay to rest the many half truths which continue to circulate around this unfortunate tragedy.

Premiering tomorrow at 10pm, the documentary features exclusive interviews with Ong's family and friends, as well as top investigators directly involved in the case.

It has been eight years since her murder. The night after it happened, Ong was due to return home to a loving husband in America, having travelled to Malaysia to visit her cancer-stricken father who was, ironically, finally on the road to recovery.

Abu Bakar Mustafa was, at the time, the Selangor State Police crime chief.

One of the show's interviewees, Abu Bakar recalls how he put all his best men on the case.

He had, in the past, encountered several other equally brutal cases, but none had been highlighted to such an extent as this. The murder of Ong was of high public interest.

He says: "Speculation abounded. For the public, this was just a guessing game. We had to filter numerous theories, but based on our investigations, we found most of those assumptions carried no weight."

It wasn't an easy ride.

There were twists and turns in the search for the truth, and one of the greatest challenges was staying on track in the face of misleading information.

"No investigation is straightforward," says Abu Bakar, now retired and an intelligence advisor for the Malaysian Crime Prevention Association.

Thanks to the case's top team of investigators, however, the final stack of evidence used to convict 27-year-old aircraft cabin cleaner Ahmad Najib Aris, was about as straightforward as it gets.

Amidon Anan was, at the time, head of Crime Scene Investigation Malaysia. He remembers the Canny Ong murder as a landmark case.

It was the use of a comprehensive forensic science-based approach in documenting and recovering evidence that resulted in a case that was strong enough for conviction.

The team implemented skills gained from overseas training in applied forensic science.

Instead of just one or two persons doing everything, as per a normal investigation, they had an entire team of forensically-trained specialists.

"We had a photographer, a sketcher, an exhibit collector and an exhibit packager," says Amidon, explaining the latter is crucial to prevent cross-contamination events, which could lead to crucial evidence becoming inadmissible in court.

Thanks to precise details recorded during the first visit to the crime scene, an accurate reconstruction (with the suspect on site) was made possible.

This was key, as it led to the retrieval of important evidence that had been overlooked the first time round – a pair of the victim's earings, for example.

This evidence, combined with DNA samples extracted from Ong's severely charred remains, led to what Amidon describes as an "almost perfect" case.

Had forensic science not been used in approaching the crime scene from the outset, Amidon believes the chances of securing a conviction would have been signficantly reduced.

Still, Ong's murder remains surrounded by questions. Why would anyone murder a complete stranger, and in such a brutal manner? For Amidon, seeing the body was a gruesome experience. He turned to criminal psychologist Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat to gain insight into the kind of person capable of such a crime.

Understanding the 'why?'

Initially consulted unofficially, Dr Geshina went on to study the case in detail, based on information furnished by the police reports.

"Based on the symptoms, (Ahmad Najib's) behaviour, mannerisms and relationships with others ... it is typical of people, especially men, in possession of similar characteristics, to behave in a like manner," she says, recounting her findings.

"Sometimes they start small, with sexual harassment, and gradually, they may move on to murder. That is typical."

Ahmad Najib, it was later discovered, had a history of sexual harassment, though this was not played up in the media out of respect for his victims' privacy.

At least three other women had come forward, having recognised his face, according to reports.

This was all truly perplexing for Rosal Azimin Ahmad, who was Ahmad Najib's solicitor and previously the suspect's football coach.

He knew the man and thought him normal, helpful, in fact, and always willing to help out at the mosque.

Beneath this wholesome facade, however, Dr Geshina says she suspects Ahmad Najib suffered from a hyper-sexual dysfunction.

"He had very strong deviant sexual fantasies involving not just the sexual act, but also the destruction of the person."

In cases such as this, perpetrators often tend to see their victims not as people but as objects.

"It is cognitive distortion, (they) justify the act. To him, what he did was not wrong."

Dr Geshina thinks the reason why he risked committing the crime was simple – he thought he could get away with it.

Another question about the case has popped up, time and time again: There were two police officers on crime prevention patrol duty that night. Why did these officers not give a sustained chase afterAhmad Najib, having been stopped by them, sped off with his victim, leaving his and Ong's identity cards behind?

The documentary addresses this question at length through interviews with Abu Bakar and lance corporal S. Ravichandran, one of two police officers on duty that night.

As for the final question, the one at the root of so many half-baked conspiracy theories: why, upon being confronted by the police, did Ong not signal for help? No one will ever know the answer to that question for certain, but the documentary does try to offer some insight.

In fact, it was the experiences of co-director (and researcher) Nevis that may finally have convinced Ong's mother to take part in making this documentary in the first place.

From Sri Lanka, a country replete with historical violence, Nevis was in a good position to explain to her what it was the filmmakers and channel wanted the documentary to portray.

In a strange way, his personal experiences enabled him to empathise with Ong. He was able to superimpose his own feelings of what it means to be completely frozen with fear in that sort of situation.

"In 1998, in Sri Lanka during the Civil War, I was held at gun point for half an hour," he explains. "A handgun on my head, with the safety off. I'll tell you, the fear that you go through – I couldn't speak. And I knew that Canny must have gone through the same thing."

Perhaps there is a hope that this documentary may help people finally understand what it was that caused Ong, when faced with seemingly numerous opportunities to escape, not to move.

Ahmad Najib was sentenced to death for murder in February 2005.

He received a further 20-year jail sentence for the rape of Canny Ong Lay Kian, and lost his final appeal in March 2009 after the Federal Court reached a unanimous decision that there was enough circumstantial evidence to conclude that he, and no one else, was responsible for what happened to Ong that night.

He is inches away from the gallows, and the conclusion of his sentence hangs on a single last resort – the request for a royal pardon. It is only a matter of time before the fate of someone whom everyone once thought to be a helpful, unassuming young man goes down in history.

To catch The Murder Of Canny Ong, tune in to the Crime and Investigation Network (Astro Ch 732) tomorrow night at 10pm.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Turkey warns Syria not to provoke regional crisis

Posted: 09 Dec 2011 04:06 PM PST

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Turkey warned Syria on Friday it would act to protect itself if a Syrian government crackdown on protesters threatened regional security and unleashed a tide of refugees on its borders.

At least 24 Syrians were shot dead as protesters took the streets following Friday prayers and ahead of a general strike called for Sunday, according to a network of anti-government activists reporting events to a website based in Britain.

Other activist sources put the toll as high as 37 dead.

Ten were killed in Homs, the hub of the nine-month-old revolt, where televised footage showed demonstrators against President Bashar al-Assad chanting "Syria wants freedom" and "Bashar is an enemy of humanity."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu did not say what action Ankara might take, but he made clear Turkey would not hesitate to insulate the region's security from tumult in Syria. Turkey shares a 560 mile (900 km) border with Syria.

"Turkey has no desire to interfere in anyone's internal affairs. But if a risk to regional security arises, then we do not have the luxury of standing by and looking on," Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara.

Peaceful demonstrations calling for reform began in Syria in March, inspired by the Arab Spring, but were met almost from the outset by lethal force.

"If a government that is fighting its own people and creating refugees, is putting not only their own security at risk but also that of Turkey, then we have a responsibility and the authority to say to them: 'Enough!'" Davutoglu said.

Adding to the condemnation, a senior Saudi prince said Arab states would not turn a blind eye to violence in Syria.

Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal, seen as influential though no longer holding public office, told a conference in Vienna he believed the Arab League would not "sit back and allow the continued massacre of the Syrian people."

Activists say about 4,600 Syrians have been killed in nine months of protest and violent state suppression. Hundreds have fled over the border to Turkey which has established refugee camps.


President Assad says some "mistakes" may have occurred but casualties have been overwhelmingly from the security forces, targeted by "armed terrorist gangs" who are motivated and directed by unnamed foreign influences.

Syria has been hit by United States and European Union economic sanctions and suspended from the Arab League which is also threatening to impose sanctions.

Russia and China, however, have effectively blocked any similar move at the United Nations and Moscow is warning the West not to interfere in the affairs of its longtime Arab ally.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 28 demonstrations in southern Deraa province, calling for the overthrow of the government, on what protesters are calling the "Friday of the Strike of Dignity" planned over the weekend.

Security forces fired into a crowd outside the mosque in Al-Qusayr in Homs province, the Observatory said. Troops surrounded protesters as they came out of two mosques in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, and two children were killed in districts of Homs, the activist website reported.

State television also reported violence but gave a different account. It said a girl was shot by "terrorists" in Deraa and civilians wounded by "terrorist armed groups."


Davutoglu has proposed that contingency plans be made for a buffer zone along the Syrian border should violence escalate to the point where a mass exodus is threatened.

The United Nations said it was impossible to assess the situation until Damascus admits humanitarian relief teams.

"I repeat my call to the Syrian government to really let us in," said Valerie Amos, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, in Stockholm.

"If, as the government say, they have nothing to hide, then I think allowing us in to see that is the case and to do a proper assessment of what the implications of this are for the people of Syria is absolutely critical," Amos said.

Speaking to reporters in New York, U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay repeated her call for investigators to be allowed into Syria to assess the situation there. Pillay is expected to brief the Security Council about the crackdown in Syria on Monday, as requested by France.

Russia and China, which vetoed a council resolution condemning Damascus and threatening it with possible sanctions, resisted the idea of taking up the issue of Syria again in New York, Western diplomats told Reuters.

Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghalioun said he had pressed the leader of the Free Syrian Army, an umbrella group of armed rebels, to cease offensive operations that could provoke civil war.

"We want to avoid a civil war at all costs," he told Reuters in Vienna.

Assad this week denied all responsibility for civilian deaths and said he had given no shoot-to-kill order.

NATO wants him to step down. But Russia, China, Iran and Brazil, among others states, say the West should not interfere.

Syrian state television Thursday aired confessions by "terrorists" bent on destabilizing the country by attacking security forces, killing and sabotage.

It said they admitted making and planting bombs but did not elaborate on their alleged political motive for such attacks.

Anti-government activists say three unarmed civilians have died for every security force member killed since March. They say Syrian interrogators use torture to obtain confessions.

(Additional reporting by Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara, Sylvia Westall in Vienna, Daniel Dickson in Stockholm, Dominic Evans and Laila Bassam in Beirut, Louis Charbonneau in New York; editing by Rosalind Russell)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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New deal tabled at climate talks after rebellion

Posted: 09 Dec 2011 03:40 PM PST

DURBAN (Reuters) - Developing states most at risk from global warming rebelled against a proposed deal at U.N. climate talks on Friday, forcing host South Africa to draw up new draft documents in a bid to prevent the talks collapsing.

Delegates continue debating into the night during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban December 9, 2011. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane suspended the talks in Durban after a coalition of island nations, developing states and the European Union complained the current draft lacked ambition, sources said.

Delegates held overnight talks on a fresh draft and are expected to meet for a plenary session starting from 8 a.m. British time Saturday with many hopeful a deal could be reached that would bring on board the world's biggest emitters of the gases blamed for global warming.

"There was a strong appeal from developing countries, saying the commitments in the proposed texts were not enough, both under the Kyoto Protocol and for other countries," said Norway's Climate Change Minister Erik Solheim.

The European Union has been rallying support to its plan to set a 2015 target date for a new climate deal that would impose binding cuts on the world's biggest emitters of heat-trapping gases, a pact that would come into force up to five years later.

The crux of the dispute is how binding the legal wording in the final document will be. The initial draft spoke of a "legal framework," which critics said committed parties to nothing.

The new draft changed the language to "legal instrument," which implies a more binding commitment, and says a working group should draw up a cuts regime by 2015. It also turns up pressure on countries to act more quickly to come up with emission cut plans.

The changes should appeal to poor states, small island nations and the European Union but may be tough for major emitters, including the United States and India, to swallow, said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"One of the crunch issues that has been left out is the date by which the new agreement will enter into force, which could still be as late as 2020 and making it no better than the previous text on this issue," said Tim Gore, climate change policy advisor for Oxfam.

The delegates are also expected to approve text on a raft of other measures including one to protect forests and another to bring to life the Green Climate Fund, designed to help poor nations tackle global warming and nudge them towards a new global effort to fight climate change.


The EU strategy has been to forge a coalition of the willing designed to heap pressure on the world's top three carbon emitters -- China, the United States and India -- to sign up to binding cuts. None are bound by the Kyoto Protocol.

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said earlier that a "small number of states" had yet to sign up to the EU plan and that time was running out for a deal in Durban.

Washington says it will only pledge binding cuts if all major polluters make comparable commitments. China and India say it would be unfair to demand they make the same level of cuts as the developed world, which caused most of the pollution responsible for global warming.

Many envoys believe two weeks of climate talks in Durban will at best produce a weak political agreement, with states promising to start talks on a new regime of binding cuts in greenhouse gases.

"A crash is still a possibility. It is going to go on all night. That much is clear," said Gore of Oxfam.

U.N. reports released in the last month show time is running out to achieve change. They show a warming planet will amplify droughts and floods, increase crop failures and raise sea levels to the point where several island states are threatened with extinction.

The dragging talks frustrated delegates from small islands and African states, who joined a protest by green groups outside as they tried to enter the main negotiating room.

"You need to save us, the islands can't sink. We have a right to live, you can't decide our destiny. We will have to be saved," Maldives' climate negotiator Mohamed Aslam said.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Allan, Agnieszka Flak and Stian Reklev; editing by Jon Boyle and Myra MacDonald)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Drone crash unmasks U.S. spying effort in Iran

Posted: 09 Dec 2011 02:48 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The crash of a CIA drone in Iran has brought into the open what U.S. intelligence agencies would prefer kept secret: intense spying efforts in a country where the United States has no official presence.

EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran. An undated picture received December 8, 2011 shows a member of Iran's revolutionary guard (R) pointing at the U.S. RQ-170 unmanned spy plane as he speaks with Amirali Hajizadeh, a revolutionary guard commander, at an unknown location in Iran. The unmanned U.S. drone Iran said on Sunday it had captured was programmed to automatically return to base even if its data link was lost, one key reason that U.S. officials say the drone likely malfunctioned and was not downed by Iranian electronic warfare. REUTERS/Sepah Handout

Iran on Thursday aired with great flourish footage of the captured drone, which appeared largely intact. Pentagon and CIA spokesmen would not comment on whether it was the missing U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned aircraft.

A person familiar with the situation confirmed that the drone that crashed was on a surveillance mission over Iran.

It is believed to have crashed because of a malfunction and not from being shot down or computer-hacked by the Iranians, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

Although there are risks that Iran could attempt to reverse engineer the technology, or sell it to other countries, like China, U.S. officials believe that Iran will not be able to mine the drone's computer systems to learn details of the U.S. surveillance mission.

U.S. surveillance of Iran through various means has been going on for years, U.S. officials and others with direct knowledge of the situation say.

A private U.S. defence expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that when he visited the command centre at a U.S. military base in the Gulf region in 2008, it was clear that the installation was receiving multiple feeds of electronic surveillance information from inside Iran.

Some of the information appeared to be transmitted from high-altitude aircraft and some from electronic sensors which the United States had somehow installed on the ground in Iran, the expert said.

The United States has no official presence in Iran so it is difficult to determine exactly what is going on inside its borders. One recent incident has yet to be fully unravelled.


On November 28, there were contradictory reports out of Iran on whether an explosion had occurred in the city of Isfahan, which is also home to a major nuclear site.

David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said he has been studying imagery of that area and no damage was detected at the Isfahan nuclear site. But, he said, "it is credible there was an explosion, but not at the nuclear site."

He said it was puzzling that Iranians clearly said an explosion at a missile depot two weeks earlier had been an accident, but did not provide similar clarity about Isfahan. "We're trying to figure out what actually happened," he said.

"Explosions are happening in Iran, and Iran is not making a big deal out of them. They are either calling them accidents or saying they didn't happen, and therefore when these things continue to happen it could be because intelligence agencies are actually now playing sabotage," Albright said.

In the earlier November 12 incident, Iran said a massive blast at a military base west of Tehran killed 17 members of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, including the head of its missile program, in an accident while weapons were being moved.

When unexplained events occur that appear to be aimed against Iran's nuclear program, experts often question whether U.S. and Israeli intelligence services were at work.

Iran also has had alleged covert operations against the West come to light. Recently, the United States arrested a man accused of being involved in a plot by Iranian agents to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington.

The U.S. government also accuses Iran of arming and funding Iraqi militias responsible for attacking American troops in Iraq.

U.S. officials do not appear to be the least bit disturbed about mishaps to Iran's nuclear and missile programs that include the Stuxnet computer virus that attacked centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear site.

"Whether it's due to technical difficulties, incompetence, or other reasons, some setbacks to Iran's activities are welcome," a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Writing by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Warren Strobel)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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Cricket: Australia handed 241 victory target in second test

Posted: 10 Dec 2011 06:22 PM PST

HOBART (Reuters): Australia bowled New Zealand out for 226 in their second innings to bring up lunch on the third day of the second test on Sunday and give themselves a victory target of 241.

Australian paceman Peter Siddle and James Pattinson bowled superbly to end up with three wickets each and help restrict the Blacks Caps to just 87 runs in the extended morning session.

New Zealand had resumed on 139 for three on a cool morning at Bellerive Oval looking to build a big lead with a first test victory on Australian soil since 1985 to level up the series a realistic target.

Australia struck early with Siddle removing Kane Williamson for 34 with the third ball of the day to break up the New Zealander's 66-run partnership with his skipper Ross Taylor.

Ricky Ponting, wearing a black armband in memory of his grandmother who died overnight, took the catch at slip after Williamson got a thick edge to the ball.

Taylor managed to accrue only the second half century of the match before departing for 56, finally tempted to attack a wide delivery from Pattinson with Michael Clarke taking the catch in the cordon.

Dean Brownlie, who made 56 in the first innings, had already taken one ball on the wrist when he backed up to a short delivery from Pattinson on 21 only for the ball to catch his glove with Brad Haddin snaring the catch behind the stumps.

Siddle next had Reece Young plumb lbw for nine before offspinner Nathan Lyon came in to mop up the tail with three wickets of his own. Tim Southee, celebrating his 23rd birthday, slammed Lyon for a six and a four on consecutive balls before pushing his luck too far and holing out to Mike Hussey at long-on for 13.

Two balls later, Lyon bowled Doug Bracewell for four and Australia were allowed four extra overs to try and end the innings before the break.

Debutant paceman Trent Boult showed he might be a welcome addition to the New Zealand tail with 21 runs off 13 balls before the Lyon-Hussey combination ended the innings.

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NBA: Knicks acquire Chandler in three-team deal

Posted: 10 Dec 2011 05:54 PM PST

The New York Knicks have acquired center Tyson Chandler from the Dallas Mavericks as part of a three-team trade, the Knicks said on Saturday.

"Signing a player of Tyson's caliber, with championship experience, to this roster, is an opportunity we could not pass up," Knicks interim general manager Glen Grunwald said in a statement.

Chandler, 29, averaged 10.1 points and 9.4 rebounds in 74 regular-season starts for the NBA champion Mavericks last season.

He has spent 10 years in the NBA with Chicago, New Orleans, Charlotte and Dallas.

"Tyson will be the anchor to our defense," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "The trio of Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson makes one of the most formidable frontlines in the entire league."

The Knicks sent forward Ronny Turiaf, cash considerations and a 2013 second-round draft choice to the Washington Wizards and guard Andy Rautins to Dallas as part of the deal.

Dallas traded a 2012 second-round draft choice to Washington and the draft rights to forwards Ahmad Nivins and Giorgos Printezis to New York.

The Mavericks also gained a conditional future second-round draft choice from Washington. -Reuters

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Hockey: MJHL goes zonal

Posted: 10 Dec 2011 03:15 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) obviously don't believe in that saying.

The zonal system introduced for the inter-state Razak Cup tournament this year was an abject failure and was scrapped after just one try, but MHF have not given up on it.

They have decided that the Malaysia Junior Hockey League (MJHL), which is in its 16th year, will go zonal.

The MJHL is supposed to start in the middle of January but there has been no clear directive on how the zonal system is to be applied or what sort of format the league will take.

MHF secretary Maninderjit Singh said they will call for a meeting of all the teams that took part last year to discuss the format.

"The decision to change the format for the MJHL was made earlier this year when we held a seminar to discuss our domestic competitions. It was agreed then that the zonal system be implemented.

"The competitions committee have an idea how it works but they will have to discuss it with the teams first," he said.

The Razak Cup zonal experiment was a dismal flop. The idea was to utilise the system to trim the number of teams for the Finals, which would then be held on a carnival basis. This was to ensure that only quality teams made the cut.

But, along the way, the competitions committee decided to change their ruling and decided that all 16 teams would play in the Finals. In that event, why was there a need for a qualifying tournament? What made it worse was that a number of teams did not even bother to play in the zonal competitions.

Now, the MHF are going to change the MJHL format, which has proven to be a success since it was launched in 1995, with one which clearly does not work.

The MJHL started as a one–round league with 10 to 12 teams. It was then expanded to a two–division format when more teams entered the fray. It is still a two–division format and 24 teams took part this year. Ten teams played in Division One while the rest, in Division Two, were divided into two pools of seven teams each.

If the MHF were to follow the failed Razak Cup zonal format, then they will have four zones - east, west, south and central - for the peninsular and another for East Malaysia. Depending on the number of teams in the first stage, the competitions committee will then decide on how many will qualify for the final round which could be held at one particular venue.

Next year's MJHL, slated to start on either Jan 13 or Jan 19, comes under the ambit of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation with a new competitions committee in place. The MHF will be officially dissolved after the extraordinary general meeting on Dec 17.

The MJHL is now for the Under-19 age group but MHF plan to change it to Under-21 after the tournament next year.

But MHF will have to finalise the format of the competition first.

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The Star Online: Nation

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SUPP needs to regain people’s trust: Najib

Posted: 10 Dec 2011 02:06 AM PST

KUCHING: SUPP needs to rethink its strategies and improve its image in order to regain the trust of the people, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

He said it was important for SUPP to get the confidence of voters and the people back, particularly in the context of its performance in the April state election when it won only six of 19 seats it contested.

"What is necessary for SUPP to do is to reestablish the trust, bond and confidence of the people towards the party.

"In this regard, you need to rethink your strategies and develop winning strategies. You need to look your image with a view to improving it and you need to revamp your party machinery in order to strengthen it.

"In short, you need to change what needs changing to make SUPP again the choice of the Sarawakian people," he said when opening the party's triennial delegates' conference (TDC) here on Saturday.

In an indication of support for the beleaguered party, Najib said he came for the opening ceremony although SUPP was going through a testing time in its election for a new president because, as the Barisan Nasional chairman, each component party's state of affairs was important to him.

He said he was also here because Sarawak was important to Barisan.

"I have no other reason or purpose for coming here, much less to interfere in the internal affairs of a component party.

"I just want to see SUPP become strong again and respected by the people of Sarawak," he said.

As such, he said it was important for SUPP to continue doing what it could to convince the people, especially the Chinese community, to give their support to the party.

Although Najib did not name names, he was clearly aware of the split in the party due to the tussle for the president's post between organising secretary Datuk Seri Peter Chin and deputy secretary-general Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh.

Wong and his supporters, including SUPP's five other state assemblymen, stayed true to their word to boycott the TDC.

Najib called on party members to close ranks once the dust had settled after the TDC.

"The winner should not take all and the loser should not lose all, because the enemy is the Opposition.

"Be magnanimous, adopt a conciliatory approach and be inclusive in all your actions. If you do that, SUPP will emerge stronger and regain the confidence of the people," he said.

The Prime Minister also said SUPP was an old party which must be reenergised.

"SUPP is far from over. It has many more years to go," he said, adding that with the 13th general election looming, SUPP had to be ready for it.

Outgoing party president Tan Sri Dr George Chan later told reporters that the party would abide by the Prime Minister's advice to seek reconciliation when the dust had settled.

He said Chin should talk with Wong's group to see how they could patch up their differences.

"I'm sure they don't want to leave SUPP. They have differences, like any quarrel in a family. Sometimes in the heat of the moment you say all sorts of things you don't mean.

"So I hope they will come back. For the sake of SUPP and Barisan, we have to be together because this is a very difficult time and there is no time to fight anymore," he said.

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Suhakam wants MPs to focus more on basic rights issues

Posted: 10 Dec 2011 02:01 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) proposed Saturday that parliamentary select committees give more focused and informed consideration to basic rights issues.

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said this would bolster parliamentary democracy in the country.

"Every policy or law being formulated in the interest of the country must not only comply with the provisions in the Federal Constitution but also universal principles and human basic rights norms," he said at the inaugural Basic Human Rights Award 2011 presentation ceremony, here.

"The voice of the people must be acknowledged and accorded priority, regardless of whether they are government or opposition supporters, when drafting policies and implementing certain programmes, particularly with regard to women, children, senior citizens and the Orang Asli in the peninsula and natives in Sabah and Sarawak," he stressed.

He said Malaysia should be a forerunner among Asean nations in upholding basic human rights.

"Malaysia is lagging far behind in the aspect of human rights compared to other countries like Indonesia although we are progressing fast economically," he said.

Meanwhile, the Special Award went to Integrity School (a school of six set up within a prison for juvenile offenders based in Kajang, Kluang, Marang, Sungai Petani, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching).

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) received the award in the Organisation Category and Tijah Yok Chopil of the Semai Orang Asli, in the Individual Category.

A "Young Maid for Sale" report of ntv7's Mandarin version of "Edisi Siasat" hosted by Kong Lik Hwan won in the Media Category. - Bernama

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2,465 new HIV cases detected during first 9 months of 2011

Posted: 10 Dec 2011 01:58 AM PST

SANDAKAN: A total of 2,465 new cases of HIV infection were detected during the first nine months of this year of whom, 1,958 were men.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said that based on projection, the number of HIV cases this year would be 3,286 or nine cases per day and a rate of 11.5 percent for every 100,000 people.

Overall, she said, a total of 93,827 cases of HIV infection were detected throughout the country from 1986 until September this year.

The deputy minister said out of the total, 17,232 were AIDS patients while 14,804 were fatalities due to HIV AND AIDS.

"The highest number of new HIV cases reported was in 2002 with 6,978 cases or 28.5 per cent for every 100,000 people," she said when opening the World AIDS Day at the national level, here on Saturday.

The text of her speech was read by the Deputy Director-General of Health (Public Health), Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman. - Bernama

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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'Young Adult' is not women behaving badly, just real

Posted: 10 Dec 2011 03:40 AM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Nowhere is the old saying "beauty is only skin deep" less understood than in Hollywood where for years women have tried with sporadic success to overcome the notion that looks count for more than brains.

This past year two female-starring film comedies, "Bridesmaids" and "Bad Teacher," became smash hits based on the idea that women can behave badly and on Friday, a third, "Young Adult," hits theaters with a head-turning performance by Charlize Theron and written by Oscar winner Diablo Cody.

But Theron, Cody and director Jason Reitman are loathe to pigeonhole the film as just another funny story about a woman acting in impolite and socially incorrect ways. Instead, they see Theron's character, Mavis Gary, as a real-life person who is as flawed as anyone. And their take on Gary is winning praise from critics.

"I don't really see it as women behaving badly so much as multifaceted female characters," Theron said at a recent news conference. "You're actually seeing women in complicated, funny situations where you would normally see a man."

Theron sets out to prove that beauty may be skin deep, but ugly cuts to the bone in the role of hard-drinking Gary, a ghostwriter of young adult fiction who returns to her hometown to seduce her high school sweetheart - never mind the fact that he is happily married and a new father.

The movie reunites Reitman and Cody who collaborated on the unlikely 2007 hit, "Juno," about an unconventional teenager who becomes pregnant and decides to keep the baby. She, of course, learns many life lessons during her nine-month pregnancy.

Cody said the screenplay for "Young Adult" was inspired by a newspaper story she read in her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where "Young Adult" is set. The story made her think about what might happen if an emotionally immature woman returns to the best time and place in her life - high school.

"What if she thinks the only way she can reclaim that happiness is to go back and find the man who made her happy?" Cody wondered at the time.

Gary is not "behaving badly" - as comedies "Bridesmaids" and "Bad Teacher" have been described in the media - but simply chasing what everybody is, happiness.

Reitman characterized "women behaving badly" as a cheap term when it comes to describing "Young Adult" and said that he finds the female psyche more interesting than a man's.

""There's a long history of male characters (in movies) we love to hate, but there's actually very few female characters that we love to hate," Reitman said.

Once committed to the movie, he aggressively pursued Theron for the lead role of the passive aggressive Gary who spews hate with just about every word that comes from her mouth.

Critics, who for the most part have liked the film, know why. "In (Gary), it is her unintentional drive to destroy everything and anyone who comes close, and for this Theron uses her statuesque beauty as if it is just something else in life to be squandered," wrote Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times.

Theron initially passed on the role, but finally couldn't get the character Gary out of her head.

"It's obvious that she's delusional. But I didn't want to focus on whether she should do four-hours of therapy versus two hours," the actress said. She likened her character to "a beautiful car wreck" and said, "there's no cure for that."

In the movies, "women are usually either really good prostitutes or really good mothers. Maybe women are finally getting the chance to play more honest characters," Theron said. "We usually don't get to play bad hookers or bad mothers - or anything in between."

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Kirsten Dunst gets restraining order against alleged stalker

Posted: 09 Dec 2011 09:22 PM PST

LOS ANGELES ( - Spider-Man actress Kirsten Dunst has obtained a temporary restraining order against a Frenchman who's accused of stalking her, according to court documents obtained by TheWrap.

In a declaration filed with the court,the actress' mother, Inez Dunst, says that 51-year-old Jean Christophe Prudhon of Dijon, France, showed up at the doorstep of her Toluca Lake, Calif., home on Saturday, asking to speak to Kirsten. According to the elder Dunst, Prudhon has left ''dozens of letters at my home, describing his obsession with my daughter.'' The letters, according to the actress' mother, are ''frightening and harassing.''

Prudhon ''is clearly mentally ill,'' Inez Dunst says in the declaration.

In one of the letters to Dunst included in the declaration, Prudhon claims to have traveled to the United States several times in an effort to meet Dunst, selling his house in order to afford one of the trips.

''This is not the right/accepted way to do but honesty and directness, I have no other way,'' one of Prudhon's letters reads.

The temporary restraining order, issued by Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, orders Prudhon to stay at least 100 yards from Dunst, her home, her car and her workplace.

A hearing for the matter is scheduled for Dec. 21.

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Saturday events

Posted: 10 Dec 2011 03:51 AM PST


EXPERIENCE the sheer joy of shopping amid a candy-land world as Pavilion KL takes you on a mystical journey filled with colours, candies, and Christmas carols. Ride the magical carousel and be mesmerised by the 40-foot tall Christmas tree, exclusively designed for Pavilion KL by Tiffany & Co. While there, look out for Santa, Mr. and Mrs. Wonderland, and the Toy Soldiers Marching Band, performing only on weekends all through December! Catch the joyful jingles, Wonderland Carols and Christmas cheers. It's all happening at the Centre Court this season only at Pavilion KL. For details, call 03-2118 8833 or check out real-time updates on Pavilion KL on Facebook as well as Twitter at @Pavilion_KL.


THE Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) will bring you on a journey into The World of Rodgers and Hammerstein today at 8.30pm and tomorrow at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas KLCC. Slated under the Pops series, these concerts will be conducted by British maestro Martin Yates. Experience the magic of Rodgers and Hammerstein in these dazzling showcases which will feature two leading artistes from London's West End stage as well. For bookings, call 03- 2051 7007 or fax bookings to 03- 2051 7077. E-mail bookings are done at


THE Kwang Tung Dance Company (KTDC)'s second "We Dance" Train­ing Programme Showcase takes place today (3pm and 8.30pm) and tomorrow (3pm) at the Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Kwang Tung Asso­ciation in Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur. It features dance pieces choreographed Amy Len and Leng Poh Ghee, which highlight the choreographers' personal expressions towards life and love using contemporary movement. Tickets are priced at RM15. For details, call 03-2031 1203, 012-471 7730 and 019-356 1030.


THE Mah Sing Group will hold a MCommunity School Holiday Carni­val at Southgate in Jalan Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur this weekend. There will be variety of stalls, face painting, sand art, tarot card reading, street dances and organic cooking demonstration with free popcorn and candy floss for all visitors. For details, visit


THE Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre in Klang will organise health related and fun-filled activities with Upin & Ipin today from 9am to noon. There will be a colouring competition for six- to 9-year-olds and "Little Chef" competition for 10- to 11-year-olds. Early registration will entitle them to get free goodie bags, attractive prizes and meals. Admission is free. For details, call 03-3373 3636 ext 7313/7335/7356.


A PUBLIC forum on "Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis" will be held today at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. Admission is free. For details, contact the secretariat at 03- 4023 4700 /


A SLOW Food Carnival will be held today at the open carpark Wellness Concept, Block Allamanda, 10 Boulevard, Lebuh­raya Sprint, PJU 6A between 10am and 2pm. It is a day to celebrate eating locally and honouring the local food communities to promote good, clean and fair food. Slow food encourages everyone to slow down and use their senses to enjoy quality food with awareness, learning to choose good foods that are produced in harmony with the environment and local cultures. For details, contact Jessica at 012-485 2655.


CATCH ECHO II, a new dance work by Riki von Falken today (8.30pm) and tomorrow (3pm) at the Experimental Theatre, Aswara, 464 Jln Tun Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. It is performed by Bilqis Hijjas, Dayang Norinah, Khairi Mokthar, Naim Syahrazad, Ng Xin Ying, Nur Ekmal bin Yusof, Pengiran Khairul Qayyum & Rabiatul Adawiah. Every performance is followed by Q&A with the choreographer and performers. Fordetails, contact Bilqis 017-310 3769 or Entry is free.


INDULGE in 1 Utama's Christmas shopping and its fun and unique approach to Christmas decorations and activities with its dazzling underwater odyssey theme from now till Dec 26. Be sure to also catch an exclusive production, 'Splashing Over The Big Blue' throughout selected show dates this month. Taking inspiration from Grecian elements with elaborate ethereal costumes, the show brings the story of an exciting underwater world to life. Get immersed in this all-new performance with everything from water nymphs to sea angels dancing to superbly choreographed moves. For details, contact the Customer Service Centre at 03-7710 8118 or visit /

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Metro watch

Posted: 10 Dec 2011 03:51 AM PST


The Pastor's fellowship in Klang and Port Klang invites Klangites to a Christmas public concert at Dataran Seni Klang from 6pm to 10pm tomorrow. The songs and dances will be in various languages including English, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil, Vietnamese, Nepalese and Myanmarese. Light refreshments will be served for all and gifts for children aged below 12 who come early. For details, call Pastor Gary Yeoh at 012-916 3263.


ADFM KL-PJ Alzheimer's Care-givers Support is holding a talk- cum-exercise on "Laughter Yoga" at 2pm today at the ADFM PJ Daycare Centre at No 6, Lorong 11/8E, Section 11, Petaling Jaya. For details, call 03-795 62008.


TNT Express will be holding a TNT charity hunt on Dec 18. The charity hunt aims to raise RM20,000 for Shelter Home Malaysia and Precious Children's Home with a total of RM10,000 worth of prizes up for grabs. For details, call Nazeen Koonda at 012-337 5786.


My LightHouse will be organising an open day from 4pm to 8pm at it premises at 63, Jalan Templer, on Dec 15, 16 and 19. For details, call 017-6011 683 or email


Tao Studies Institute president Dr Geraldine S.N Goh will hold a talk on Dongzhi Festival from 2pm to 5pm at the Institute of Tao Studies at 31-1 Jalan Desa. Taman Desa, off Old Klang Road, today. For details, call 03-798 30388.


Malaysian Institute of Art is having an open day from 9.30am to 4pm at the MIA multipurpose hall at No 294-299, Jalan Bandar 11, Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur, today. For details, call 03-410 88100 or visit


Individuals aged above 50 years are invited to a free eye-screening and consultation by eye specialist from 9am to 5pm at Pusat Pakar Mata Top Vision at Setia Alam and Banting from Dec 16-18. For details, call 03-3343 9911 for Setia Alam or 03-3181 8993 for Banting.


The Malaysian Association of Learning and Development is organising the 4th Evaluation of Learning for Performance Improvement Conference 2011 on Dec 15 at the UEM Learning Centre, Kuala Lumpur. Those interested to attend the conference can contact the secretariat at 03-2166 8069.


Professor Ko Kam Ming from Hong Kong University of Science will give a talk on how to fight ageing with Chinese medicine at Auditorium 3, ground floor, Sunway University from 2pm-4pm today. For details, call Ms Ho at 03-7960 5678.

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Thousands throng St Paul’s Hill church for celebration

Posted: 09 Dec 2011 05:19 PM PST

MALACCA: Close to 3,000 Catholics from all over Malaysia and Singapore, including many local and outstation non-Christian devotees and pilgrims, thronged St. Paul's Hill church ruins in the heart of Malacca Historic City to commemorate the feast of St. Francis Xavier.

Two mid-morning Eucharistic services presided by Frs. Bernard Wong, Michael Mannayagam, Moses Rayappan and Deacon Anthony Chua were conducted at a specially erected elevated altar at the rear of the saint's empty tomb within the church sanctuary ruins.

The ruins stand on the site of a former chapel built in 1521 dedicated to 'De Nossa Senyon de Oiteru' (Our Lady of the Hill, in Portuguese).

The hilltop religious commemoration held on the last or first Sunday in November or December (closest to the actual feast date which falls on Dec 3), sees the 1845-built Church of St. Francis Xavier along Jalan Banda Kaba as principal organisers.

For Steven Ayaidurai, 72, among the many Catholics making the steep hilltop climb to partake in the religious rituals, coming to St Paul's Hill for the Feast Day event is a pilgrimage undertaken faithfully annually for the past 25 years.

Now residing in Perth, since leaving his hometown in 1994 upon retiring from the then Malacca Municipal Town Council, he considers St. Francis Xavier as the patron saint of Malacca and has a special prayer devotion for this missionary priest born of a noble family in Navaree, Spain in 1505.

"It was through his intercession that I have received and still continue to gain God's blessings following my wedding in 1963. Coming to the hill as long as I am able to make it, is my way of repaying the Almighty's mercy" said Steven whose wife Christine passed away in Australia in 1997.

Described as the 'Apostle of the East' and 'Patron of the Missions', St Francis Xavier spent nearly 11 years of his missionary life in Asia making five visits to Malacca between September 1545 and May 1552.

History records that following the saint's death on Sancian Island off mainland China in 1552, his body was temporarily laid at St. Paul's Hill before being shipped to its final resting place at Goa's Basilica Bom Jesus, in India. St. Paul's Church now in ruins atop a hillock was regarded as the missionary headquarters of St. Francis Xavier who used Malacca as a base for his travels to Indonesia and the Far East including Japan.

Presently the St. Paul's Hill complex, which was included in Unesco'sWorld Heritage List in October 1998, is a major landmark destination drawing tourists both local and overseas all the year round.

The Malacca Museums Corporation in 2000 undertook an extensive restoration and beautification works costing around RM1mil which involved the upgrading of footpaths, shoring up of weak points along specific locations surrounding the hill, landscaping and night time illumination.

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Preparations under way for bigger and better festival

Posted: 09 Dec 2011 05:20 PM PST

MALACCA: The Wangkang festival is back.

Yong Chuan Tian temple Lai Poon Ken said a mammoth procession is expected to take place in Banda Hilir during Chap Goh Mei in February next year.

"Visitors can expect decorated floats, lion and dragon dance troupe from a number of clans and guilds, stilt walkers from Batu Pahat including the char yong classical troupe from Muar."

Lai added that supporting performers would include Chingay flag bearers and Big Head Puppeteers from Johor Baru.

"The procession is scheduled to begin at 7.30am and end at 4.30pm, covering a distance of about 20 kilometres, paying homage to the various temples along the way but no stopping due to time constraint," added Lai.

A royal barge, he said, would be ferried along Taman Melaka Raya to Pulau Melaka for the final ritual before it is set ablaze on its final journey to the Kingdom of the Saints.

Mosaic expert Goh Kok Hin was given the task of building the barge which took him nearly three months to complete.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam is scheduled to visit the temple tonight and officiate the launch of the Wangkang festival on Facebook for Internet users.

Lai also appealed to the members of the public including tourists to cooperate with the ushers, security volunteers and the police not to simply park their vehicles along the route of the royal barge.

A Cho Cheo prayers will be conducted Feb 1-6 before the procession. "In short, the Wangkang festival is all about 'shipping out the evil spirits' and bring peace and harmony to the rakyat of all walks of life."

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Proboscis monkeys losing habitat

Posted: 09 Dec 2011 05:21 PM PST

KINABATANGAN: Sabah's proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) population is declining due to habitat loss as riparian forests are continually destroyed to plant oil palm while mangrove areas are reclaimed for development.

"Proboscis monkeys, or monyet Belanda as they are more commonly known in Malay, are declining in numbers because we have plantations planting oil palm all the way down to the river banks.

"In areas closer to towns, we have also seen their habitat being lost as the mangrove areas they occupy are reclaimed and built upon," said a very concerned director of the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Dr Laurentius Ambu, in a press statement

"To make matters worse, only an estimated 15% are living within protected areas, which means preventing the conversion of non-protected areas is also crucial.

"The palm oil industry does not have to plant all the way down to the river edge.

"They should leave the riparian forests that border waterways with a buffer of preferably 1km for wildlife and also as a measure to protect our waterways, as the water is also used for human consumption," he said.

"The state government is committed to reforestation and we are working closely with community groups, NGOs and even private companies, but the palm oil industry on the whole has been very slow to replant riparian areas although they talk a lot about it."

He also vented his frustration at seeing areas that are unsuitable for oil palm plantations due to semi-annual flooding being planted with the crop and then destroyed by floods.

"These marginalised land, which you see in the Lower Kinabatangan, particularly areas close or adjacent to Lots 3 and 6 of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, should be replanted by palm oil companies with native species of trees that survive floods instead of just being abandoned and the soil washed out into the river during flooding," he said.

The SWD estimates there are only 6,000 proboscis monkeys left, with five viable populations in Sabah.

"We have one population on the West Coast, one in the South and three on the East Coast including the Lower Kinabatangan where the palm oil industry has had a dramatic effect on a variety of Sabah wildlife, including this large-nosed monkey," said Laurentius.

Monitoring carried out by the NGO HUTAN under the Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation Programme (KOCP) from 2008 to 2010 along a 15km stretch along the Lower Kinabatangan found the area losing 10% of the proboscis monkey population each year.

A similar pattern has been observed in the vicinity of SWD's Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC).

"This is why we have been continuously pushing for forest corridors, particularly along riparian areas. They are crucial not just for primates, but all wildlife, particularly in the Lower Kinabatangan, which is heavily broken up between protected and non-protected areas.

"The proboscis monkey is at direct risk when riparian areas are lost as they are mainly confined to riversides within swamp, mangrove and lowland forests.

"These same forest types are also the most threatened, not only in Sabah, but within the whole of Borneo, which is the only place they are found in the wild.

"The only way to stop this decline and to ensure the survival of the eco-tourism industry that also benefits the local community is to stop all forest conversions even if it is a small area and continue with the various tree-planting projects," he added.

Like the orang utan, the proboscis monkey has been listed as endangered since 2000 under the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

The Red List also puts the figure for proboscis monkeys in Sarawak at 1,000 individuals.

This means Sabah, besides being the stronghold of the Malaysian orang utan population, is also the stronghold for the proboscis monkey population — Bernama.

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