Jumaat, 16 Disember 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Betty White to dominate NBC with 90th birthday extravaganza

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 07:24 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Ready for some hot, steamy, Betty White-on-Betty White action?

You'll have to wait a long, cold month for it, but it's coming.

''Hot in Cleveland'' star White will be all over NBC on Jan. 16, with a 90-minute televised celebration, ''Betty White's 90th Birthday: A Tribute to America's Golden Girl,'' followed by a preview of her hotly anticipated hidden-camera series, ''Betty White's Off Their Rockers.''

A sort of ''Punk'd'' for the Geritol set, ''Off Their Rockers'' will feature White leading ''a fearless band of senior citizens to the streets to pull shockingly hilarious pranks on the younger generation,'' with the ''Golden Girls'' alum providing ''saucy commentary'' and sharing ''engaging, comical pearls of wisdom.'' The series, based on the Belgian show ''Benidorm Bastards,'' will be executive-produced by White.

The sneak preview will be preceded from 8 to 9:30 p.m. by ''Betty White's 90th Birthday: A tribute to America's Golden Girl.'' (White's actual birthday is Jan. 17, but she'll probably be otherwise occupied at Chippendales that night.)

Taped live at Los Angeles' Biltmore Hotel, the special will feature White's co-stars and other famous well-wishers feting the actress with musical performances, special appearances and comedy. Brad Lachman Productions and Universal Television are producing, with Brad Lachman, Jon Macks and Steve Ridgeway serving as executive producers.

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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

France launches spy satellites aboard Russian rocket

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 08:14 PM PST

KOUROU, French Guiana (Reuters) - The second Russian-built Soyuz rocket launched from French Guiana blasted off late on Friday carrying six military spy satellites, space officials said.

The rocket blasted off at 11.03 p.m. (2:03 a.m. British time Saturday) from a launch pad at the European Space Agency's (ESA) launch centre near Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America.

About one hour after launch, five of the satellites separated from the rocket.

The first was Pleiades, a one-tonne observation satellite to be used extensively by the French defence ministry.

Several minutes later, the rocket released four ELISA (Electronic Intelligence by Satellite) demonstrator satellites to test space-based mapping of radar transmitters globally for France's Defence Procurement Agency (DGA).

A sixth satellite, for Chile's armed forces, is scheduled for separation at 0639 GMT (6:39 a.m. British time).

The satellites will also have civilian applications.

The launch was controlled by France's Arianespace rocket launch company.

This was the second time that a Soyuz, which first flew in 1966 and traces its roots back even further to the earliest Cold War intercontinental ballistic missiles, was launched from outside its former Soviet bases.

The first French Guiana-launched Soyuz rocket orbited the first two of Europe's Galileo global positioning satellite constellation last October.

(Additional reporting by Alexander Miles, editing by Tim Pearce)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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U.S. lifts sanctions on post-Gaddafi Libya

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 08:00 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday lifted most of the economic sanctions it had in place against Libya before the fall of former ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

"After careful consultation with the new Libyan government, the United States rolled back most U.S. sanctions on the government of Libya to keep our commitment to the Libyan people," the White House said in a statement.

A boy holds a Syrian flag as a gesture of welcome during a military parade of anti-Gaddafi fighters coming back from Sirte, in Misrata October 28, 2011. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

Gaddafi's 42-year rule collapsed when his forces fled Tripoli in August and the last of the fighting in Libya ended in October when he was captured and killed by rebels.

The U.S. action followed by the lifting of sanctions by the U.N. Security Council on Libya's central banks and a subsidiary.

"Today's action unfreezes all government and central bank funds within U.S. jurisdiction, with limited exceptions," the White House said, adding that assets in the United States of Gaddafi family and his former aides remain frozen.

(Reporting By Caren Bohan; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Suspected WikiLeaks source appears in U.S. court

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 07:49 PM PST

FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - An American Army intelligence analyst suspected of being behind the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history made his first court appearance on Friday, sitting stone-faced as military prosecutors launched their case against him.

People leaving the St Paul's Cathedral annual Thanksgiving service look at a protest in support of Bradley Manning in London November 24, 2011. REUTERS/Olivia Harris.

Private First Class Bradley Manning, 23, faces charges including aiding the enemy, which could send him to prison for life. He is suspected of being the source of documents that eventually were released on the Internet by WikiLeaks -- data dumps that Washington said jeopardized national security.

Manning was quiet as he sat in the courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland, wearing military fatigues and dark-rimmed glasses, occasionally taking notes during the pre-trial proceedings.

He answered with a quick, "Yes, sir" when investigating officer, Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Almanza, asked him whether he understood the charges against him.

After questioning Almanza, Manning attorney David Coombs announced that the defence was filing a motion for the investigating officer to recuse himself because of his work at the Department of Justice.

The Justice Department is investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. If Justice "had its way," Coombs argued, it would get a plea from Manning that would help it "go after Assange." Almanza rejected the motion.

Security was tight as media and some protesters gathered at the base, which also serves as the home of the secretive intelligence-gathering National Security Agency.

WikiLeaks eventually posted online hundreds of thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables that exposed the candid views of U.S. officials and their allies.

It also released about half a million classified U.S. files on the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Prosecutors aim to show there is sufficient evidence to bring Manning to trial at a general court martial on 22 criminal charges.

If convicted of all counts, Manning would face a maximum punishment of life imprisonment, reduction in rank to the lowest enlisted pay grade, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a dishonourable discharge, the Army said in a statement.

The most serious charge, aiding the enemy, is a capital crime that carries the death penalty but the Army has indicated it does not plan to seek that punishment.

For much of the time since his detention beginning in May 2010 in Iraq, Manning was held on a charge of improperly obtaining a classified gunsight video that showed a 2007 helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Iraq, including two Reuters journalists. The video was released publicly by WikiLeaks.

The additional charges were brought against Manning last spring.


The proceedings began one day before Manning, a Crescent, Oklahoma, native, marked his 24th birthday.

Members of the Bradley Manning Support Network demonstrated on Friday, joined by protesters from the Occupy movement's encampments in Washington and on Wall Street, the organizations said.

Supporters plan a march outside the base on Saturday with Daniel Ellsberg, who released the controversial history of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers in 1971, expected to address them.

Manning defenders see him as a hero. Some view the release of the cables, with their frank discussion of corruption in some countries, as having contributed to the Arab Spring protests in the Middle East.

"He stands accused of doing the right thing," said Zack Pesavento, who was at Fort Meade.

Some protesters held signs that read: "Free Bradley Manning" and "The Truth Will Set You Free."

As the first day of hearings ended, a man with the group "Veterans for Peace" shouted inside the courtroom: "Bradley Manning, you're a hero," according to witnesses in the room. Manning, controlled throughout, didn't respond or turn around.

Manning was caught after he bragged about his activities to former hacker Adrian Lamo, who turned him in to authorities, Lamo told Reuters.

Lamo said Manning, who worked as an intelligence analyst for the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade in Iraq, told him he would bring in CDs and load them with downloaded data from the military's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, known as SIPRNet.

In Internet chats with Lamo, Manning appears to acknowledged giving materials to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He wrote to Lamo: "I'm a high profile source ... and I've developed a relationship with Assange."

Assange is in Britain fighting extradition to Sweden over accusations of rape and sexual assault made by two female former WikiLeaks volunteers in August 2010. Britain's Supreme Court said on Friday it granted permission for Assange to appeal his case. [ID:nL6E7NG2MN]

(Writing by Phil Stewart and David Alexander)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Who’s in the driving seat in Proton takeover?

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 06:29 PM PST

WHISPERS of a takeover of national car-maker Proton Holdings Bhd sprout every now and then. Talk of acquisition often grows more audible but eventually fizzles out into nothing more than posturing by the usual suspects eyeing a slice of the protected and should-be lucrative car market.

This time, however, the circumstances are vastly different. Proton has virtually bet its future on the resurrection of unit Lotus and is starved for cash to grow the bread-and-butter passenger car segment of its business and invest in the next generation auto technologies such as hybrid cars.

Adding to the growing belief that a sale will finally materialise has been the ongoing programme by state funds to dispose of assets to the private sector as a way of not only raising cash but more essentially injecting much needed entrepreneurship into the businesses that it owns.

Such a scenario now has added more credence to the thought that control of Proton is now up for grabs and the field of potential candidates remains the perpetual favourites for 42.7% block Khanzanah Nasional Bhd owns. The list of prospective new owners, however, has grown to what appears to be aspirants that have the capability to take over one of the most divisive companies in the country.

In the driver's seat

The shortlist of Malaysian companies that are able to take over and run Proton is not long but there is growing opinion that the favoured one is DRB-HICOM Bhd,

It's bid for Proton received a boost when it was publically favoured to be the new onwer of Proton by former Prime Minister and Proton advisor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The one-time controlling shareholder of Proton some 11 years ago, DRB-HICOM Bhd of today is largely different from the company that once held the reins of the national car maker.

Back in December 2000, under the stewardship of Tan Sri Mohd Saleh Sulong, DRB-HICOM sold its 25.8% stake in Proton to national oil giant Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) for RM981mil or RM7 per share as part of its restructuring process.

In a circular to shareholders in Sept 2000, DRB-HICOM had pointed out in its rationale for the sale of its stake in Proton that in order to remain competitive in the car industry, substantial capital outlay would be required for future plant upgrading and continuous research and development work.

"Competition is keen, especially in the passenger car segment as automotive companies are continuously striving to produce innovative models with cutting edge technology to meet customers' demand," noted DRB-HICOM in the circular.

Mohd Saleh's rationale for selling Proton in uncanningly similar to the predicament the company is in today and DRB-HICOM, after going through another round of reorgansiation under new ownership, appears to be in better health than the company that sold Proton.

DRB-HICOM is involved in the automotive, services as well as property, asset and construction sectors.

It is one of the biggest automotive groups in Malaysia, with vehicle distribution and assembly operations and ties with marques such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Mahindra, Volkswagen, Yamaha and Potenza Sports Cars.

DRB-HICOM also controls national motorcycle manufacturer Motosikal Dan Enjin Nasional Sdn Bhd (Modenas) and owns Puspakom Sdn Bhd, which has a concession from the Government to inspect and test motor vehicles.

It's tie-up with VW is seen as a big plus in its pursuit of Proton. Khazanah was close to roping in the services of VW years ago in its attempt to revitalise Proton but was rebuked at the last minute by parties that saw things differently.

There might be a possibility that VW might rekindle its interest in Proton's manufacturing facilities or emerge as a strategic partner once DRB-HICOM gains control of Proton but as for now, there have been no overtures towards that at the moment.

DRB-HICOM has invested close to RM2bil in a automotive complex in Pekan, Pahang where there is a workforce of 2,300 which may grow by another 800 people once the local assembly of Volkswagen cars gets fully underway.

In its annual report for the financial year ended March 31, 2011, DRB-HICOM pointed out that it is the only conglomerate involved in the whole integrated chain of the automotive ecosystem, and has developed world-class expertise and facilities that have positioned Malaysia as a regional hub for the automotive industry.

In its 2011 financial year, the automotive sector contributed RM4.04bil or 59% of total group revenue and Proton is an important cog in that.

DRB-HICOM group managing director Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil recently said that almost 60% of the group's automotive revenue came from business ventures with Proton.

The links DRB-HICOM has with Proton stems from two areas component manufacturing and the sale of Proton cars in which DRB-HICOM through its unit Edaran Otomobil Nasional Bhd is the master dealer for Proton.

Mohd Khamil said the group's manufacturing and engineering companies are all first-tier vendors to Proton, with an annual contribution of RM600mil- RM700mil worth of business.

As an example, the group's 51%-owned HICOM-Teck See Manufacturing Malaysia Sdn Bhd is the largest plastic automotive vendor in the country, and supplies replacement and facelift bumpers (for the Perodua Myvi and Proton Saga), instrument panels (for the Proton Waja and Persona, Honda Civic) and chroming emblems (Honda Civic).

Another factor is the consolidation of Proton's dealership network. DRB-HICOM's EON has 32 sales and service outlets in the country and Proton Edar has 28 sales and 32 service outlets.

OSK Research points out that although operationally, the dealership network between Proton Edar Sdn Bhd and EON has been integrated, a further consolidation of ownership between the two could potentially see even more efficiencies and cost-cutting enhancements moving forward.

Naza Group also in the picture

The race for Proton, however might not be cut and dry as it appears. The Naza Group has also reportedly courted the ownership of Proton is said to have submitted a proposal to take over Proton.

The Naza Group, founded by the late Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin SM Amin and helmed by his sons Datuk SM Faisal and SM Nasarudin today, is deeply involved in the distribution of imported cars and marques such as Peugeot and Kia. It also has an extensive property portfolio and other businesses such as hospitality, food and beverages, finance and insurance and, manufacturing.

Naza might go solo in its chase for the Khazanah block in Proton and given its history and depth in the auto business, it stands a chance of clinching the deal. But there is a train of thought that should it team up with General Motors, in which Naza has a relationship through the distribution of Chevrolet cars, it stands a better chance.

The likelihood of foreign participation in the fight for Proton received the backing of Dr Mahathir who says an outright control of Proton is frowned upon but a joint bid with a local party running the show will be more acceptable.

The Naza Group signed a distributor deal for Chevrolet vehicles in Malaysia last year.

Both the Naza Group and Chevrolet's owner General Motors (GM) are interested in setting up a local vehicle assembly venture for the American marque.

Research analysts say Chevrolet which has a plant in Rayong, Thailand is eyeing a bigger share of the Asean automotive market and there have been reports that GM has started talks with Proton for a potential vehicle assembly joint venture in Malaysia.

The success of the Naza-GM partnership however hinges on the willingness of the American company to plough in money and models into Malaysia and there is doubt if GM is willing to uproot some of its capacity from Rayong in Thailand.

OSK Research says it sees little synergy for a Naza Group-GM-Proton tie-up "as GM already has a state-of-the-art facility in Thailand."

The UMW factor

UMW Holdings Bhd, which through the sale of Toyota cars and its share of the business of Perodua sales makes it a dominant player in the non-national segment, and would be a candidate to take over the running of Proton should it choose to put its name in the bid race.

But any suggestion of doing so at the current time has been ruled out by the company. UMW Holdings told the stock exchange it has not submitted any bid to Khazanah for the acquisition of Khazanah's stake in Proton and is not in any form of discussion with any parties in this regard.

The group's corporate communications unit told StarBizWeek via email that "the UMW Group has not received any such offer nor had been approached by Khazanah regarding Proton."

Analysts do not think UMW's principal Toyota Motor Corp will want to expand its operations in Malaysia via an acquisition and while it is tempting to gain more market share in Malaysia, Toyota and its unit Daihatsu has in the past resisted attempts to merge Proton with Perodua. But if they do have a change of heart, then it will certainly add a new dimension in the race to control Proton.

Acquisition price and structure

Regardless of whichever party takes over Proton, a key issue will be the cost of doing so.

Media reports have said the bids for Khazanah's stake may be in the range of RM6 and RM7 a share, which RHB Research Institute notes is lower than Khazanah's entry cost of RM7.50 to RM9 per share.

HwangDBS Vickers Research says Khazanah may choose to sell a stake of less than 33% to avoid the bidder having to make a mandatory general offer (GO) but indications are that a full sale of Khazanah's shares is its preferred route.

RHB Research Institute has put a fair value of RM5 per Proton share, and says minority shareholders looking for a GO could be disappointed.

It says a 30% stake in Proton at RM8 per share would cost RM1.3bil.

"A sweetheart deal at say, RM8 per Proton share by a new strategic shareholder, would unlikely involve a stake exceeding the GO threshold of 33%. There would be little sense in paying such a large premium to the minorities. Shareholders of a listed entity offering an excessive premium for Proton's shares are also likely to react negatively."

In a report, CIMB Research says a GO in the region of RM7 per Proton share would entail a RM3.8bil investment.

"Thereafter, capital expenditure in Proton is estimated at RM900mil a year. With the removal of research and development benefits, this would increase to RM1.2bil. A cash call would be needed both at DRB-HICOM and Proton levels."

The research house says a takeover of Proton at RM6 to RM7 per share would not be earnings accretive to DRB-HICOM unless the conglomerate had the mandate to restructure the national carmaker.

CIMB Research says restructuring options could include taking Proton private and merging its assets with DRB-HICOM's auto assets into a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

"The valuation of DRB-HICOM's existing auto assets is estimated at RM2.4bil based on seven times calendar year 2013 price-earnings ratio. Combining this with the RM3.8bil GO valuation of Proton, the enlarged auto group would be worth RM6.5bil."

Analysts also think Volkswagen could be invited for an equity injection into the SPV.

"Volkswagen will not own a direct stake in Proton, which will maintain its national identity. This would allow for a valuable spin-off of the SPV in an amalgamated listing at a later date."

CIMB research also notes that with the acquisition of Proton, DRB-HICOM could offer vehicle assembly facilities in Pekan as well as full manufacturing facilities in Tanjung Malim and Shah Alam, capable of ramping up long-term production capacity to one million units a year.

"We believe Volkswagen may be interested in taking a strategic stake in the enlarged auto entity as it would be a perfect platform into Asean."

Industry observers also point out that DRB-HICOM will be embarking on the assembly of Audi cars in Malaysia and with VW having plans for regional distribution and using Malaysia as a manufacturing hub, the added capacity of Proton's plants will be enticing for DRB-HICOM.

RHB Research Institute also believes DRB-HICOM has the financial capacity to buy a substantial stake in Proton.

"DRB-HICOM's balance sheet is relatively unstressed with a net gearing of just 0.14 times or net debt of RM722mil."

Whoever takes over Proton can also look at the potential sale of the group's landbank in Shah Alam, where another Proton main plant is located.

OSK Research says the landbank in Shah Alam could fetch at least RM500mil in additional capital expenditure funding for Proton.

It notes that DRB-HICOM had recently announced it was raising RM500mil from the sukuk market to fund its working capital as well as other potential acquisitions and expansions.

"DRB-HICOM has an option to maximise this sukuk issue to RM1.8bil. Its net gearing ex-bank related assets and liabilities stands at only 17%, as indicated by its last quarterly results, and this can be maximised easily to 50% to acquire Proton."

Proton's net assets per share as at Sept 30 was RM9.81.

However, OSK Research says the Naza Group might find funding the acquisition of Proton to be a problem as "Naza's property development business is expanding in a big way. The fact that Naza is a private company presents a window for its eventual listing to raise funds."

RHB Research Institute says Proton could facilitate a backdoor listing for the Naza Group's auto businesses.

"Existing Proton shareholders could be diluted by the entry of the Naza Group although they will end up with a smaller share of a bigger business and also benefit from the injection of some entrepreneurial energy."

Management changes unlikely

Research analysts and auto industry observers say it is unlikely there would be management shake-up at Proton in the event of a takeover.

They say Proton group managing director Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir and his management team has done well in the last few years.

"As far as the domestic front is concerned, Syed Zainal has done a good job," says a bank-backed analyst.

Syed Zainal, who was formerly deputy managing director at Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua), joined Proton in January 2006 when the national carmaker was ailing.

The same year saw Proton facing increasing competition, declining motor sales and a lower share in the domestic car market.

It was in 2006 that Proton lost its crown as the top-selling national carmaker, when Perodua outpaced Proton significantly by selling 152,733 cars.

Proton sales in 2006 dipped to 115,538 units (compared with 166,118 units in 2005).

Since then, Proton has seen significant sales improvement fuelled by demand for its new Saga, Persona, Exora and Inspira models which were introduced within the last four years.

Auto industry observers point out that under the helm of Syed Zainal and his team, Proton has narrowed the sales gap with Perodua considerably in recent years.

Malaysian Automotive Association reports showed that for the first 10 months of 2011, Proton sold 136,589 units (compared with 145,825 units sold by Perodua).

Despite the fine job the present management at Proton has done, the perogative of keeping the current team intact will be that of the new owners.

PROTON : [Stock Watch] [News]

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The night McCann won top honours

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 06:27 PM PST

THE Kancil Awards 2011, dubbed as the Oscar for the Malaysian advertising industry has culminated with McCann Erickson (M) Sdn Bhd winning the "Agency of The Year" and the top award in the industry - the Golden Kancil.

Advertising agency Mattel (M) Sdn Bhd was named "Advertiser of The Year" while Commercial Radio Malaysia (CRM) president Datuk Borhanuddin Osman, an advertising icon, took home the Chairman's Award.

In terms of agency's ranking on winning the most awards, Ogilvy & Mather Kuala Lumpur was at number two, behind McCann Erickson which has collected 11 gold, 19 silver and 18 bronze.

Ogilvy & Mather Kuala Lumpur collected nine gold, nine silver and nine bronze this year.

In the third ranking for collecting the most awards, Naga DBB Malaysia won three gold, two silver and 21 bronze. It won gold in Film Single category, Film-Non Broadcast category and Craft - Sound / Music category.

The event, attended by the who's who in the advertising industry was held on Thursday night.

Addressing the audience before the prize presentation, Kancil Awards organising chairman Nicky Lim said the theme this year "Stop The Ordinary" was meant to encourage more creativity as a business tool in the industry.

"The wheels of economic fortunes may fluctuate but the enduring strength of our industry must be our collective ability to create work that reflects the true spirit of a brand," he said.

Borhanuddin, or popularly known only as Borhan, has more than 20 years in the advertising industry and 13 years in the radio industry.

He is currently serving an unprecedented eighth term as president of CRM and third term as chairman of Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia.

Borhan, is also chairman of the programming division of Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union.

4As Creative Council chairman Jeff Orr said this year's winners had already impressed judges internationally making the industry proud of its home-grown talent.

"Be inspired by those who win tonight and begin your day tomorrow with a personal promise to stop the ordinary," he said.

The number of judges for the Kancil Awards 2011 was reduced to only 35 from 50 in 2010. There were four international judges this year.

Hosted by 4As Malaysia, there were 11 main creative Kancil Awards categories in film, print, radio, cyber, outdoor, direct, design, integrated, craft, media and rebel.

Star Publications (M) Bhd was one of the sponsors of the the Student Kancil award.which was won by Soh Kai Ling from Alpha International College and two students from The One Academy of Communication Design Chok Yi Ning and Lee Jia Chang.

The Student Kancil award is aimed at recognising young and bright students. Soh won the gold for her Rock and Roll entry while Chok won the gold for Real News. Lee collected the gold award for StarBridge.

4As has reduced the number of categories for the Kancil Awards to 42 from 87 in 2010.

Orr says with the reduction in categories, radio would no longer be judged according to individual languages.

However, this has prompted CRM to consider reinstating its own radio advertising award.

"In radio, the language is important because unlike television, there are no pictures to project the message.

"Because of this, there is a need to explain more, hence the importance of having it language exclusive. Audio needs to be expressed differently," Borhan said in an interview recently.

CRM used to have its creative award show called the AIR Awards, but it stopped after the radio categories were expanded at the Kancil Awards.

Borhan is hopeful that the 4As would consider increasing the number award categories, especially for radio, at future Kancil Awards.

Previously commercials under the radio category were judged based on individual language but this year, 4As has decided to combine radio commercials, regardless of language, into just two categories.

For the last 30 years, the Kancil Awards has been seeking new talents that bring out the freshest ideas into the industry by recognising great concepts, people and agencies that strive for creative excellence.

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Posted: 16 Dec 2011 06:27 PM PST

Full Engagement!

Author: Brian Tracy

Publisher: American Management Association

MOTIVATION speaker and author Brian Tracy unlocks the performance from your work team. In today's tough economic times, everyone is expected to produce more with less. The only way to succeed is to inspire your work team. Tracy shows how to create a trusting work environment, removing fears, setting clear goals and objectives and unlocking the potential of your people.

Transformative HR: How great companies use evidence-based change for sustainable advantage

Authors: John W. Boudreau & Ravin Jesuthasan

Publisher: Jossey-Bass

SOME of the world's prominent organisations are redefining human resources leadership. They use evidence-based change to optimise efficiency, effectiveness, and strategic impact. The authors show how these organisations can achieve greater impact by adopting the five principles of change logic-driven analytics, segmentation, risk leverage, synergy and intergration and optimisation.

The Customer Experience Edge: Technology and techniques for delivering an eduring, profitable and positive experience to your customers

Authors: Reza Soudager, Vinay Iyer and Volker G. Hildebrand

Publisher: McGraw-Hill

WHETHER your company serves consumers or other businesses, you can no longer compete on price and quality alone. You have to deliver an experience that makes customers want to come back. The book looks at developing products and services that are valued by customers, forming bonds that keep clients and customers, and making your customers your best advocates.

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The Star Online: Sports

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Basketball star Kobe Bryant, wife file for divorce

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 06:46 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and his wife Vanessa have filed for divorce after more than 10 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences, a representative for the couple said on Friday.

"We ask that in the interest of our young children and in light of the upcoming holiday season, the public respect our privacy during this most difficult time," the couple, who have two children, said in a statement.

The couple's spokesman said Bryant, 33, and Vanessa, 29, resolved all issues regarding the divorce privately and both filed petitions. Vanessa went first and Kobe shortly thereafter.

Bryant has helped lead the Lakers to five National Basketball Association championships, has been named a most valuable player, been the league's top scorer and played on numerous all-star teams.

He was drafted into the NBA directly from high school in 1996 at the age of 17 and in his initial years enjoyed a stellar reputation with fans as a highly skilled player.

In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault by an employee at a Colorado hotel, tarnishing his reputation and leading to a media storm to cover his trial. He denied the claims and charges eventually were dropped after the woman refused to testify.

Bryant and his wife were married in April 2001 and throughout the sex scandal she stayed with her husband.

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Malaysia's Lotus in 9th position in Formula One 2012 line-up

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 05:20 PM PST

LONDON, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Formula One team lineups for 2012 after Force India named Britain's Paul di Resta and Germany's Nico Hulkenberg on Friday.

Race numbers are as assigned so far by governing FIA:



1 - Sebastian Vettel (Germany)

2 - Mark Webber (Australia)



3 - Jenson Button (Britain)

4 - Lewis Hamilton (Britain)



5 - Fernando Alonso (Spain)

6 - Felipe Massa (Brazil)



7 - Michael Schumacher (Germany)

8 - Nico Rosberg (Germany)



9 - Kimi Raikkonen (Finland)

10- Romain Grosjean (France)



11-Paul di Resta (Britain)

12-Nico Hulkenberg (Germany)



14 - Kamui Kobayashi (Japan)

15 - Sergio Perez (Mexico)



Daniel Ricciardo (Australia)

Jean-Eric Vergne (France)



Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela)




20 - Heikki Kovalainen (Finland)

21 - Jarno Trulli (Italy)



Pedro de la Rosa (Spain)




24 - Timo Glock (Germany)

25 - Charles Pic (France)

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De Villiers' 99 frustrates Sri Lanka

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 05:14 PM PST

CENTURION, South Africa, Dec 16 (Reuters) - AB de Villiers fell one short of a 13th test century on Friday after helping South Africa into a commanding position on the second day of the first test against Sri Lanka at Centurion. De Villiers scored 99 as South Africa, replying to Sri Lanka's first innings of 180, amassed 389 for nine for a lead of 209 runs.

The 27-year-old drove seamer Thisara Perera straight down the ground for four to go to 99. But, much to his annoyance, he cut the next delivery, which was short and wide, low to backward point where substitute Dimuth Karunaratne dived forward to take the catch.

"I was hoping the umpires would go upstairs on the catch, but when Rod Tucker asked me if I wanted to refer it, I said 'no, just ask the fielder'," De Villiers told reporters.

"I back the fielder, if he says he's caught it then that's fine with me.

"It was a poor shot I played, it should have been in the gap but I didn't do that and that's the end of the story."

Sri Lanka batting coach Marvan Atapattu praised the batsman's gesture.

"You don't see that very often, especially in the 90s, it was a nice gesture," he said. "The fielder was pretty sure it was a clean catch. I, myself, looking from the outside, was not that sure. Personally, I wouldn't have done what AB did, to be very honest."

De Villiers showed great determination and concentration in his 135-ball innings that was studded with fine strokeplay and contained 12 fours.

Ashwell Prince and Mark Boucher, both under pressure to keep their places in the team, were also able to rise to the occasion as South Africa's lower order more than doubled the score after they had been struggling on 173 for five.

Prince scored 39 before he edged medium-pacer Angelo Mathews to wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva, but the left-hander could consider himself fortunate to have survived two dropped catches. He was was dropped by Perera, diving forward in the gully, off Dilhara Fernando on 23, and by Silva off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath when he had 26.

Boucher finished the day on 49 not out, helping himself to six fours in a confident innings that has eased the pressure on the veteran wicketkeeper/batsman.

Last man Imran Tahir batted with cavalier disdain for the bowlers and stayed with Boucher for the last 38 minutes before stumps, making his highest test score of 24 not out as they put on 39 for the 10th wicket, extending the lead past 200.

Sri Lanka's attack had bowled with perseverance but little penetration as they failed to obtain the same assistance from the pitch as the South African bowlers. Perera was the most successful bowler with three for 114 from 24 overs.


De Villiers and Prince combined in a sixth-wicket stand of 97 to take South Africa into a handy lead.

The pair rescued the innings against a probing Sri Lankan attack which had reduced South Africa to 173 for five shortly after lunch.

Left-arm paceman Chanaka Welegedara removed Jacques Kallis for 31 in the fourth over after lunch, his first from the Hennops River End. South Africa's leading run-scorer drove at a delivery that pitched on off stump and was moving further away from him to edge a tumbling catch to Mathews at third slip.

De Villiers took no risks, pushing singles through the off side but punishing any poor deliveries on the leg side.

Prince was off to a quick, if streaky, start, collecting four fours, all of them to the third man boundary, off 98 balls.

A top-class spell of seam bowling by Perera had earlier allowed Sri Lanka to restore a semblance of parity as South Africa reached 168 for four at lunch.

South Africa resumed on 90 for one and made a poor start to the day when nightwatchman Dale Steyn was run out for a duck in the second over of the morning.

Steyn fended a lifting delivery from Welegedara to the leg-side and there was confusion between him and Jacques Rudolph, allowing Rangana Herath at mid-wicket to score a direct hit on the stumps.

Rudolph and Hashim Amla (18) added 35 for the third wicket, but the Sri Lankan bowlers kept plugging away and Perera reaped the reward.

Bowling a consistent line and length outside off stump, Perera found the edge of Amla's bat and Mathews took a fine diving catch at third slip.

Opening batsman Rudolph, battling the pain of a dislocated little finger on his left hand, showed tremendous determination in a 228-minute vigil at the crease, but Perera ended his resistance on 44, nipping away a delivery that found the edge and travelled low to Tharanga Paranavitana at first slip.

Kallis's 56-ball stay was not without incident.

He ducked into a bouncer from fast bowler Fernando and was struck a disorientating blow on the earpiece of his helmet.

Kallis received treatment for seven minutes before resuming his innings on 25 and was lucky as he prodded at the first delivery of Fernando's next over and edged a catch which diving wicketkeeper Silva should have taken.

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Appellate Court reinstates suit by three BN assemblymen against Selangor government

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 03:50 AM PST

PUTRAJAYA: Three Barisan Nasional Selangor assemblymen succeeded in their appeal Friday to reinstate the civil suit that sought declaratory relief concerning the legality of the Selangor State Committee on Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat).

A three-member Appellate Court panel, comprising justices Datuk Wira Low Hop Bing, Datuk Abdul Malik Ishak and Datuk Clement Allan Skinner, unanimously set aside the Shah Alam High Court's decision to strike out the suit filed by Sungai Air Tawar State Assemblyman Datuk Raja Ideris Raja Ahmad, Morib assemblyman Hasiman Sidom and Kuala Kubu Bharu assemblyman Wong Koon Mun.

Low, who chaired the panel, said the court was unable to agree with the High Court judge that their originating summons did not have sustainable cause of action.

The court ordered the suit be reinstated and remitted back to the High Court. The case would be heard and dispose off the merits before another High Court judge.

The assemblymen filed the originating summons naming Selcat chairman Teng Chang Kim, six Selcat members, namely Haniza Mohamed Talha, Mohamed Azmin Ali, Saari Sungib, Edward Lee Poh Lin, Sulaiman Abdul Razak and Ismail Sani, Selangor state assembly speaker, Selangor state assembly secretary and Selangor Government as defendants.

They filed the suit, seeking among others, a declaration that the formation of Selcat and/or its proceedings were null and void and had no effect, whatsoever.

The assemblymen also wanted the court to declare the committee was in breach of standing orders, state laws and federal constitution, and had acted in excess of its jurisdiction; and did not reflect the balance between the parties within the state assembly.

The High Court on March 22 had struck out the suit under Order 18, Rule 19 (1) (a) of the Rules of the High Court 1980 on grounds that it (the suit) disclosed no reasonable cause of action.

Lawyers Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin and M. Athimulan represented the assemblymen while counsel Tommy Thomas represented the respondents. Bernama

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Guan Eng to sue NST over report

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 03:17 AM PST

Published: Friday December 16, 2011 MYT 7:08:00 PM
Updated: Friday December 16, 2011 MYT 7:17:21 PM

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has ordered his lawyers to sue an English daily over a report that he "sold Malaysian secrets" to Singapore.

He said the New Straits Times, in their reported dated Oct 2, had alleged he and two others Malaysia Airlines (MAS) board member Datuk Mohamad Azman Yahya and businessman Datuk Seri Kalimullah Hassan had told the country's secret to several Singapore's People's Action Party senior leaders during a dinner in August.

"What was odd that after the report was published, the daily apologised to the other two (Mohamad Azman and Kalimullah) but not to me," he said Friday.

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Interlok withdrawn from school syllabus

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 03:06 AM PST

Published: Friday December 16, 2011 MYT 7:06:00 PM

KULIM: The government has decided to withdraw the controversial Interlock novel from the secondary school syllabus.

MIC president Datuk G. Palanivel said the cabinet made the decision last week.

More to come

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Metro watch

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 04:33 AM PST


The Sentosa Medical Centre is organising a free public forum on piles by consultant surgeons Dr S. Sivabalan and Dr Ng Soong Lek together with consultant physician & gastroenterology Dr Thein Soo Sun tomorrow at the centre in Kuala Lumpur from 10am to 12.30pm. The first 50 participants will receive free protoscopy test. For details and reservations, call 03-4043 7166 (ext 222 / 223 / 150).


SGM is organising an art exhibition "Hommage a Tan Tong Son Art et Son Temps (Homage to Tan Tong His Art & Times)" from Dec 17 to Jan 1 at Wisma Kebudayaan SGM in Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, from 11am to 6pm. For details, contact Chia Kok Peng at 012-212 6761.


Crescent's biggest book sale is back again offering discounts up to 80% from Dec 23 to Jan 1 from 10am to 9pm at the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council's multipurpose hall in Jalan BU 3/1 Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya. For details, call 03-6184 2448 or e-mail crescent@tm.net.my.


A closing down sale with books and golf items going at rock bottom prices (from RM1) will be held from today until Sunday at 106-2B, Jalan PJU 1/3B (Sunwaymas commercial centre) from 10am to 6pm. For details, call Jenny at 012-283 1375 (for books), or Virginia at 012-229 3750 (for golf items).


The Tropicana Medical Centre (TMC) will be organising a blood donation drive tomorrow to celebrate the giving spirit of Christmas. Held with the National Blood Bank, the event will have a carolling session with Santa Claus and Santarinas from 11am onwards. For details, call 03-6287 1106, or Phoebe at 018-2111 055.

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Rewards for SEA Games’ best

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 04:33 AM PST

THE Malaysian 4x400m relay quartet was one of the 15 recipients of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM)-Sports Toto Outstanding Athletes of the Games Award announced recently.

The foursome of S. Kannathasan, P. Yuvaraaj, Muhammad Yunus Lasaleh and Schzuan Ahmad Rosely won the relay at the SEA Games in Indonesia.

The athletes made the headlines not only for their stunning performance on the track but also for returning home without accepting the medals.

The quartet were presented with RM3,000.

Besides the relay team, the other recipients were Bryan Nickson Lomas (diving); Siow Yi Ting (swimming); Png Hui Chuen and Katrina Ann Abdul Hadi (synchronise wimming); Cheng Chu Sian (archery); Thor Chuan Leong and Chong Tin Sam (billiards); Adrian Ang (bowling); Fatehah Mustapha (cycling); Joshua Koh I-jie (fencing); G. Yamani (karate); Nur Suryani Mohamad Taibi (shooting); Phillipa Clare Yoong (water ski); Lee Yang (wushu) and the football team.

OCM secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi said the award and incentives were presented to athletes who were most outstanding among the gold medallists in the SEA Games.

"We had picked athletes from 15 sports. The recipients should regard the award as a motivation and strive for excellence in other competitions as well," said Kok Chi.

In total, Sports Toto had contributed RM22,000 for the awards. Sports Toto has been supporting the awards scheme since last year.

Four athletes — Nicol David (squash), Chai Fong Ying (wushu), Alex Liew (bowling) and R. Puvaneswaran (karate) — were rewarded with RM5,000 each last year for their impressive performance in the Guangzhou Asian Games.

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Lapping up Leehom

Posted: 15 Dec 2011 10:47 PM PST

Wang Leehom raised the roof at the Taipei arena recently with his Music-Man II show.

REVEALING your achy breaky heart for public examination is not easy, but it's something Leehom is going to have to get used to. His breathtakingly beautiful Music-Man II, the mother of all his concerts, details his love, love and more love

Before we go on with the show, there is one pressing question: Is he really in love with hot and haughty Taiwanese actress Shu Qi, as widely speculated?

"You know me," the 34-year-old Mandarin pop heartthrob tells yours truly backstage at the Taipei Arena, where 14,000 tickets for tonight's gig have sold out in a jiffy. "You've been with me since Day One."

Flashback to our first encounter in 1998, Leehom has always maintained that he's a private person, who lets his emotions run deep in his music. And he will not hesitate to end a romantic liaison once the newshounds sniff it out, he once confessed.

Tonight is the first time in his 13 years that his Best Of material has been aired in an intimate setting, yet so full of stadium spectacle. As soon as the spotlight is turned on, Leehom – garbed in a fluorescent red superhero-like futuristic army outfit – is wheeled on stage in a tank, launching into the anthemic opener, Open Fire.

Boom! A series of fireworks explodes from all corners of the stage at the end of the song.

Indeed, his Music-Man II concert performance is an extravagant piece of powerful pop entertainment. The show offers a lot of theatrics – RM1mil worth of state-of-the-art stage and props, a flying piano, eye candy back-up dancers, sexy dance moves, LED lights, rotating screens and confetti shower.

But most importantly, his songs have depth and lyricism.

The show also marks the return of Bahamut, his £20,000 (RM98,000) electric guitar with a dragon head, designed by Alistair Hay of Emerald Guitars (the Irishman who also custom-makes guitars for rock band U2).

But the good-looking music man is still the best thing on show on the elaborately-decorated T-shaped stage that stretches out like a runway. All his nervous energy is channelled into a performance that sees him constantly swirling, spinning, shadow-fighting and dive-bombing. During the patriotic Descendants Of The Dragon, he is one part kungfu fighter and one part hyperactive kid running around a playground.

"Taipei, I'm Music-Man," Leehom greets his fans after the beguiling Chinese orchestral classic, 18 Martial Arts, has been neatly dispatched. "I haven't been here for three years. How could you let me wait for so long?"

The crowd is wildly appreciative. Just the opening bars to Only You are enough to send the female audience members into a chorus of screeches, like a flock of gulls chasing a trawler that is loaded with herring. "Leehommm… we love youuu," screams the audience.

The pop maverick knows how to please his fans.

"Who needs my love?" he asks, halfway through the show. The screams reach eardrum-shattering proportions.

There is a winning bombast on Love Love Love as the elevated stage transports Leehom right till the far end of the indoor stadium. He peers into the crowd and says: "This venue is big. You guys at the back, can I get closer to you?"

The next 40 songs in his set are rendered with raw, feverish passion. Every pouting promise of love on Julia, Beautiful, Frozen Dreams, Can You Feel My World, You're Not Here, This Could Be Love, Falling Leaf Returns To Roots and Mistake In A Flower Field is simply too infectious to resist.

As the night comes to an end, everyone is so swept along by the soul-baring new and the life-affirming old, that Leehom is called back three times for an extended encore. With the power love ballad Kiss You Goodbye, the emotionally charged music man ends his concert on a strong note.

> Music-Man II will be staged at Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on March 3, 2012. Tickets for numbered seats are priced at RM498, RM388, RM298; and RM288, RM268 and RM128 for free seating. Showtime begins at 8pm. For more info, log on to galaxy.com.my or call the Galaxy Hotline ( 03-2282 2020).

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The outsider edge

Posted: 15 Dec 2011 10:33 PM PST

Newcomer singer-songwriter OJ Law has timed his entry to the music scene well – armed with an album to restore faith in homegrown indie pop.

YOU probably have not heard of singer-songwriter/producer OJ Law, but after listening to his music, you would agree that he definitely deserves a wider audience. Unlike many new bands or artistes that propagate the philosophy that one should begin your career with a bang of social media bursts and incessant gig-hunting, the Petaling Jaya, Selangor-based Law was happy to let his music gestate quietly first before debuting it proper.

Those clued in on the fringe sounds of the indie scene would have known about OJ Law a few years back. The bespectacled bloke released his debut self-titled album way back in 2006 under his more general moniker Law. He recorded and produced it on his own before following up with his sophomore Timezones two years later, also a one-man effort. Both albums were available for free download, and were well received around niche circles. The buzz surrounding this elusive artiste culminated in an unexpected appearance at the Urbanscapes 2009 festival in Kuala Lumpur.

But yet again, he remained largely a mystery, with hardly any shows after that and not much activity on the recording front as well.

As with all best kept secrets, the time appears to have come for the 29-year-old to come out of his shell and start getting his music out there. His third album Yesterday Is A Distant Dream, now available as a CD and download release, has been attracting healthy attention in the music scene here.

The 11-track album Yesterday Is A Distant Dream – with artwork designed by Law is a distillation of the young man's influences, whether soulful indie pop, swirly melancholy moments or danceable New Order-inspired melodies.

The gigs for OJ Law (and his band) have been steadily rising. Whether shows at hip venues or smaller indie engagements, the name OJ Law has become a familiar fixture. He plays the secret Fred Perry Subculture x TAG party this Sunday at an undisclosed location in Kuala Lumpur.

"It was a new challenge for me because my previous two albums were made without an audience in mind. This time around, I was more focused on making an entire album where I was happy with every song, but at the same time trying to keep the spontaneity of the music alive," he shared, before adding, "It was a long (recording) process."

The difference is certainly telling. While his previous two albums consisted of raw-edged songs and "little throwaways and underdeveloped ideas," this one saw him sifting through 50 song ideas before deciding on the 11 that appeared on the album.

In fact, Law kept the leftovers from Yesterday Is A Distant Dream – there are eight exclusive bonus tracks available for download when you purchase the album. Not to forget a 50-page "Making Of/Lyrics" ebook as part of the download deal. The song selection process on Yesterday Is A Distant Dream was subjected to just one criteria.

"I wanted to make an album that the 14-year-old version of me would have loved (back then) as well as something that represents me today," he said.

The result is a sonically sprawling album that encompasses everything from the buzzing feedback of Pinkerton-era Weezer on Lovers' Tiff to the smooth doo wop of StartStop.

"There was no one guiding influence. Everyone is an influence."

This new album also marks a change in his performance name, moving away from the single adjective Law to a fuller name. While he confesses that this has a little to do with his newfound comfort with getting himself out there, there was also a practical reason behind the change.

"If you google 'Law', I'm probably on page 100,000. If you search for 'OJ Law', I'm the first result."

As far as mediums go, it would appear as if old habits die hard as Law has so far released this Yesterday Is A Distant Dream album only digitally, like his previous two, except that he's actually selling this one. The new album went online in September. He assures us that his choice of medium has less to do with marketing nuances than it does with financial ones.

Nevertheless, after gathering resources and finalising artwork, Law has a CD version of Yesterday Is A Distant Dream ready to be shipped out to the broader masses by next month.

"The process of making an album is quite expensive, even if you record and produce everything yourself, like I do," he revealed, before explaining that this is not helped by the fact that he has always been a one-man operation – music, marketing, etc.

"You work within the budget and see what happens," he added.

Prolificacy is certainly one of Law's most distinguishing virtues. While other acts toil and labour for long periods to come up with good material, he seems to have the ability to churn them out like a factory. And these are hardly underwhelming ideas as well as his first two scrapbook albums have proven. Even in the spontaneous recesses of his mind, there're plenty of gems to mine as well. But while this is part natural talent, there were huge sacrifices made as well.

"Music is quite an anti-social activity for me because it involves sacrificing seeing people or leaving the room. You've got to get into the zone for a while, weeks, months even. And sometimes that level of spending time by yourself is discouraging. Especially if you spend a weekend working on a song and you end up hating the results. You think, 'Great, I wasted a weekend on this song when I could've been doing something else,' " he said while shrugging his shoulders.

"But when you finally have a musical breakthrough, when a song comes to life, the high can last for months as well."

And if initial reactions to Yesterday Is A Distant Dream are anything to go by, he isn't just 'getting high' on his own. With a live backing band consisting of members of Seven Collar T-Shirt and Komplot, it's obvious that his music has connected with a lot more people outside his bedroom.

And this newfound confidence to explore the homegrown music scene seems to have sparked him into overdrive, with a new duo project with local songstress Liyana Fizi (who sang on album opener Fantastic Adventure) on the cards.

"Musically, it should be a bit different from either of our solo material. I want to take the idea of the duet and push it and see where you can go with it," said Law, but he confesses that nothing really will materialise soon on the project is still being sketched out.

While that is happening, Law continues to be industrious with his own songwriting.

"Honestly, I always say one thing and end up doing something else. It's always a journey into the unknown. But that's how I like it," he noted. "It's always exciting."

> For more info on OJ Law, his upcoming shows and how to purchase his music, visit (ojlaw.co). Win 20 exclusive passes to the Fred Perry Subculture x TAG party this Sunday, featuring OJ Law, Tenderfist and DJ Oddjob. More details at (facebook.com/fredperrymy).

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Rodney Atkins denies abuse claim, seeks divorce

Posted: 15 Dec 2011 04:59 PM PST

NASHVILLE (Reuters) - Country singer Rodney Atkins has denied accusations he tried to suffocate his wife with a pillow in November and also has filed for divorce, his attorney said in a statement on Thursday.

Court records show that back on November 21, Atkins' wife of 13 years, Tammy Jo, called police and claimed he attempted to smother her with a pillow and threw her down a hallway after he had been drinking. The events took place in front of their 10-year-old son, the documents show.

Atkins was arrested by police and later released on bail.

But Atkins lawyer, Rose Palermo, issued a statement on Thursday saying the altercation was nothing more than an "unfortunate verbal dispute" between husband and wife.

"When Mr. Atkins realized their child was in hearing range of the argument, his first priority became getting out of earshot of the child," Palermo said in the statement.

Palermo called the claims by Atkins' wife, "completely untrue."

"Mr. Atkins realized that he would have no recourse but to file a complaint for divorce. Since filing the complaint...he has exercised substantial parenting time with the parties' son and he will continue to do so while the divorce is pending."

The singer's songs include "Cleaning This Gun," which looked at raising teen daughters, and his hit "Watching You." His wife appeared in his recent video for "Farmer's Daughter."

In her statement, Palermo said Atkins "requests privacy at this time" and he "wants to thank his fans for standing by him as he is confident that the truth will prevail."

Atkins is scheduled to appear on the Fox TV special, "American Country New Year's Eve Live" airing Dec. 31. He also has three live performances scheduled in coming days in the northeastern U.S.

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