Selasa, 20 Disember 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Let’s dance

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 11:37 PM PST

Time to let loose with the contestants who give their best on the dance floor.

FOLKS, this is a lesson against being too judgmental. When I first read about Dancing With The Stars about five years ago (it wasn't aired here at the time), I scoffed, rolled my eyes and brushed it off as just another reality show that's banking on celebrities (and the drama they bring along with them) to draw in viewers.

Fast forward six years.

A month ago, I watched my first ever episode of Dancing With The Stars (currently airing on Star World on weekend at 9pm) and I was forced to recant my harsh (and baseless) criticisms: it took just one episode for me to be hooked.

The premise of the show is simple: celebrities (actors, singers, athletes, TV personalities) are teamed up with professional dancers to compete for a trophy at the end of the season. Each week, the teams are given a theme to follow – jive, quick step, salsa, etc.

The professional dancers have to choreograph a dance based on the theme and train their celebrity partners to master the routine they have come up with. The teams then present their dance to a panel of judges (Len Goodman, Bruno Tonio and Carrie Ann Inaba) during the performance show (aired on Saturday).

The judges score them (they can get a score of between one and 10) and then the voting is open to the audience at home. On Sundays, the scores are tallied (fan votes count for 50%) and results are announced: the pair with the least votes/score will go home.

Most of the celebrities on the show have little or no experience dancing. Sure, there was pussycat doll Nicole Scherzinger in Season 10 who has some dancing chops, but really, she is the exception. Most of the stars begin the show with zero knowledge of dance: they have no form, no technique and some have absolutely no rhythm. The onus is on the other partners to teach them the fundamentals of dance each week as well as coach them on the routine for each week's performance.

A lot of hard work? Heck, yeah!

The pairs apparently train for eight to 10 hours a day throughout the competition and, as a result, the training sessions can be pretty tense: tempers flare, emotions go all over the place and arguments break out. Viewers get to see clips of the couples training before their performances each week, and although the video clips are undoubtedly edited to be dramatic, the focus isn't really on the drama. Instead, the audience ends up feeling immense respect for the contestants who train hard. No wonder Kelly Osbourne (who participated in Season Nine) lost 19kgs while on the show!

The initial attraction of the show may be the stars – people tune in to watch these celebrities shake it out on the dance floor – but the real draw of the show, for me at least, is the dancing.

Having been born with two left feet, I can't dance and have never really been attracted to dance. Or so I always thought. Watching the show each week has changed my mind. I really want to learn how to dance now and, I bet I am not alone.

Sure, the stars on the show are impressive in how they train and improve each week. But the real stars of the show are the professional dancers they are teamed up with.

Boy, these dancers are amazing. If you watch the show, you'll know that some of the stars (namely Carson Kressley and Chaz Bono) have absolutely no rhythm and training is especially challenging.

Even when the lessons go well, the onus is always on the pros to carry their partners through the routine each week. For example, Rob Kardashian is a decent enough student; he usually gets what his partner Cheryl Burke teaches him each week. Still, Burke has to work extra hard to make sure the performance is a success and that Rob shines through it. Amazing.

Of course, I have my favourites. My favourite pairs are Ricki Lake and Derek Hough (pronounced huff) and JR Martinez and Karina Smirnoff. Neither Lake nor Martinez are trained dancers but they move like they were born to dance and are beautiful to watch. Lake is so graceful and invested in each performance while Martinez is really strong and graceful all at once. And Huff! Wow, that boy (he's 26) is phenomenal – this is his eighth time on the show and he's won three times (with Brooke Burke, Scherzinger and Jennifer Grey).

Though not all the celebrities perform as well, I find myself rooting for each one – well almost. I haven't quite connected with TV commentator/journalist Nancy Grace. And though it is a reality competition, I tune in each week not to see who got eliminated but just to enjoy the dance sequences and to watch how each couple survived the week. And, I'll be curious to know if enrollment in dance classes spikes in the coming weeks – I may find myself signing up for a class or two myself!

> Dancing With The Stars airs on Star World (Astro Ch 710) every Saturday and Sunday at 9pm.

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Furyk among 11 golfers to secure trip to 2012 Masters

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 03:46 PM PST

AUGUSTA (Georgia): American Jim Furyk, the 2003 US Open winner, was among 11 golfers to secure a trip to the 2012 Masters by finishing among the year-end top 50 in the world golf rankings issued on Monday.

Furyk qualified for a 17th consecutive Augusta National Golf Club invitation next April by edging into the list at 50th in the world, two spots below where he began the weekend but just high enough to reach the Masters field.

Also sneaking in at 49th was Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

Japan's Ryo Ishikawa (pic) just missed making the Masters field, finishing at 51st in the year-end rankings.

England's Ian Poulter, coming off a victory on Sunday at the Australian Masters, qualified at 16th in the rankings, as did his countrymen Simon Dyson, who was 28th on the final list for 2011, and Paul Casey, who was 20th.

Others adding the Masters to their 2012 travel plans included South Koreans Kim Kyung-Tae at 25th and Bae Sang-Moon at 30th, Spain's Alvaro Quiros at 22nd and Miguel Angel Jimenez at 44th, American Rickie Fowler at 32nd and Italian Francesco Molinari at 41st.

South African stars Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, both two-time US Open champions, did not crack the year-end top 50 and must seek another path back to Augusta National, where Els had made 18 consecutive Masters starts.

Els, who also has a British Open title on his career ledger, slipped from the year-end top 50 for the first time since 1993 by standing 56th in the final list, three spots beneath Goosen.

Remaining ways to qualify for the Masters include winning a PGA event not staged opposite a World Golf Championships tournament in the first three months of 2012 or reaching the rankings top 50 after the Arnold Palmer Invitational, staged two weeks before the Masters. — AFP

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Magnussen and Franklin put Phelps in the shade ahead of London 2012

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 03:48 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: With young stars like James Magnussen and Missy Franklin on the rise as the 2012 London Games approach, 2011 served to show Olympic swim great Michael Phelps just how much work he has to do.

Phelps, whose 14 Olympic gold medals include his unprecedented haul of eight golds in Beijing, was forced to play second fiddle at the World Championships in Shanghai to team-mate Ryan Lochte, who starred with five golds.

He also had to share the spotlight with 16-year-old Franklin, who enjoyed a breakthrough meet, and Magnusson — who thrilled swimming-mad Australia by winning the coveted men's 100m freestyle title.

Magnussen, 20, also spearheaded Australia's 4x100m freestyle relay world gold, his exploits building confidence in the flagging Australian men's swimming programme as the sport's eyes turn toward London.

Magnussen now has his sights on the 100m free world record of 46.91 set by Brazilian Cesar Cielo in 2009 when high-tech polyurethane suits were still allowed.

While the super-suits era is over, swimming didn't escape controversy in 2011, as Cielo was caught up in a drugs row on the eve of the World Championships.

Cielo escaped a suspension despite a positive test for the diuretic furosemide, which is banned in sport as a possible masking agent.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Cielo's assertion that the drug was in a contaminated caffeine supplement prescribed to him by his doctor.

However, not all were pleased with the decision, with one rival swimmer giving Cielo a "thumbs down" signal after his 50m butterfly triumph in Shanghai.

Now that the rules mandate textile suits, the World Championships saw just two world records fall — compared to the ridiculous 43 set two years earlier in Rome.

One of those belonged to Chinese teenager Sun Yang, who wiped out Australian icon Grant Hackett's 10-year-old 1500m freestyle record.

Five of China's 14 medals in Shanghai were gold — putting them second in the medals table behind the United States and signalling their intentions to make a splash in the competition pool in London.

America's effort, featuring 16 gold medals and 29 overall, was spearheaded not by superstar Phelps but by the low-key Lochte, who beat Phelps in the 200m freestyle and then in world record time in the 200m individual medley.

True, Phelps nabbed four gold medals among his seven total, but the 26-year-old acknowledged he had plenty of work to do.

"There are a lot of things that are going to really help me for motivation over the next year and there are a lot of small things that I can change," he said. "We have 12 months to prepare for London, and that's what I plan on doing."

Despite her youth, Franklin stamped herself an international star with three golds among her five medals in Shanghai.

She followed that up in October by breaking the short course 200m backstroke world record.

The bubbly teenager was presented her award as outstanding US Swimmer of the Year by Janet Evans, a four-time Olympic champion who starred at the 1988 Seoul Games and this year mounted a comeback.

The 39-year-old mother of two wasn't the only golden oldie eyeing a return to glory in the pool as Aussie great Ian Thorpe, compatriot Libby Trickett and American Brendan Hansen also opted to plunge back into the pool.

Thorpe stunned the swimming world when he retired at age 24.

"At that time, I didn't think I'd compete again ... so I surprised myself that I wanted to do this," he said, adding he had witnessed incredible progress in swimming during his retirement.

"What's fantastic about this progression is that it's from all over the world. It's not one or two countries ... but it's really spreading throughout the world."

With that in mind, British swimmers continued to show they aim to claim their share of the spoils in home waters next year.

Rebecca Adlington, a double Olympic gold medallist in Beijing, won the 800m freestyle world title and was voted Sportswoman of the Year by Britain's sports journalists. — AFP

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Citroen sign up Belgian driver Neuville

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 02:55 PM PST

BRUSSELS: Thierry Neuville became the first Belgian driver to sign up for the World Rally Championship since Francois Duval in 2005 when he was hired by Citroen on Monday for at least nine of the 13 rallies next season.

The 23-year-old – winner of two of the second tier IRC championship last season – is seen by Citroen as an investment for the future just as Frenchman Sebastien Ogier was.

The 27-year-old Ogier, who finished third in this year's World Rally Championships after notching up five victories, signed for Volkswagen after being released from his Citroen deal this month.

Ogier had made clear towards the business end of the season as he closed in on Citroen's lead driver and eight-time world champion Sebastien Loeb that he was not happy at the preferential treatment given to his compatriot.

Neuville, though, did not sound like a potential troublemaker following the announcement.

"I am still finding it hard to believe," said Neuville.

"The 2011 season was very positive, with two wins in legendary and difficult rallies like the Tour of Corsica and Sanremo.

"It is imperative that I move up another gear and I am proud that Citroen Racing have placed their confidence in me for 2012."

Citroen Racing director Olivier Quesnel said that the team believed he was worthy of the risk.

"We decided that the moment had come to give him his opportunity at the highest level," he said.

"Like Sebastien Ogier recently, Thierry will have at his disposal a team which will permit him complete his learning curve."

Neuville is the third new arrival at Citroen. He follows Finland's three-time world championship runner-up Mikko Hirvonen and Qatar's Dakar Rally champion Nasser Al-Attiyah. — AFP

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The Star Online: Business

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Asian markets up in early trade

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 05:51 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Asian markets were mainly higher in Wednesday's early trade as initial concerns about potential regional tensions following the death of North Korea's Kim Jong-Il subsided. However, the ongoing Euro zone debt crisis is still saping investor sentiment.

At 9.12am, the benchmark FBM KLCI was up 13.16 points to 1,478.33, underpinned by selected blue-chip stocks, such as British American Tobacco (M) Bhd which was up 84 sen to RM48.84; PPB Group Bhd which rose 38 sen to RM17.08 and Genting Bhd which gained 22 sen to RM10.58.

As for regional indices, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 1.47% to 8,458.94 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was up 2.12% to 18,462.64.

Shanghai's A index was flat at 2,215.93 while Taiwan's Taiex Index rose 3.84% to 6,918.48.

Seoul's Kospi Index gained 2.62% to 1,840.05, with Singapore's Straits Times Index increasing 1.66% to 2,657.98.

Nymex crude oil rose 28 cents to US$97.58 per barrel. Spot gold was up US$9.25 to US$1,625.15 per ounce. The ringgit was quoted at 3.165 to the US dollar.

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NZ current account deficit, debt rise

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 04:57 PM PST

WELLINGTON, Dec 21 (Reuters) New Zealand's annual current account deficit widened more than expected in the third quarter on Wednesday, as exports softened and foreign investors earned more from their New Zealand investments.

The balance of payments data also showed a rise in foreign debt as banks borrowed more offshore to fund loans to domestic customers because of low domestic savings.

"It's a doubledsided sword it's bad for the current account but it's actually reflecting positive signs in the domestic economy," said UBS senior economist Robin Clements.

"It's not a good look to have a current account deteriorating in the global environment."

The kiwi dollar was briefly softer at around $0.7673 from $0.7684 before edging back to predata levels, underpinned by improved risk sentiment driven by stronger U.S. and European data. Local interest rate futures were unmoved.

The deficit for the year to Sept. 30 widened to NZ$8.7 billion ($6.7 billion) from a deficit of NZ$7.4 billion in the previous quarter, equating to 4.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) compared with the forecast of 3.9 percent of GDP in a Reuters poll.

The current account deficit has started rising again, after falling to a 21year low of 1.9 percent of GDP in March 2010 because of large oneoff payments by major banks to settle a longrunning tax dispute with authorities.


The deficit is expected to worsen further as imports will rise along with a recovering economy, but the rise in overseas liabilities debt was also seen as a worry.

"With debt an ugly word at present, more progress will be needed to boost ... saving ... so that an unwelcome adjustment is not forced up on us," said ANZNational economist Mark Smith.

Smith said the onus will be on fiscal tools to boost savings and investments. "It will be painful, but necessary," he added.

New Zealand has relied on foreign borrowing to help fund its spending for decades due to low levels of household savings.

The bigger deficit raised the country's net foreign liabilities, measured by international investment positions, to 72.9 percent of GDP from 69 percent in the previous quarter.

The debt level peaked at 84.6 percent of GDP in March 2009. Australia's level is about 60 percent.

Standard & Poor's and Fitch cut New Zealand's sovereign credits to double A from double Aplus in September because of its high foreign debt.

The data does not affect the monetary stance of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, which has held its cash rate at a record low 2.5 percent since a 50 basis point cut in March to support sentiment after an earthquake in Christchurch.

The annual balance showed a narrower trade surplus, while investment deficit the gap between earnings for foreign investors in New Zealand, and the country's foreign investments increased to NZ$10.3 billion from NZ$9.6 billion.

The services deficit widened slightly for the year, as the cost of the Rugby World Cup offset the spending of more than 80,000 overseas visitors in September and October.

The capital account posted a surplus of NZ$9.8 billion, after peaking at NZ$13.7 billion in the June quarter on the inflows of insurance payments resulting from the Christchurch earthquake this year.

The central bank has forecast the annual current account gap to rise to 5.0 percent of GDP by March 2014 as the economy returns to normal growth, increasing imports and investment earnings for foreigners.


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HSBC sells Japan private bank to Credit Suisse

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 04:54 PM PST

SINGAPORE, Dec 21 (Reuters) Credit Suisse is buying HSBC's private banking business in Japan, beefing up its presence in the world's thirdlargest economy where it began onshore private banking just two years ago.

HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, said the value of the gross assets of the business being sold was $2.7 billion as of Oct. 31, 2011, but it did not disclose the sale price.

"This acquisition will strengthen Credit Suisse's private banking capabilities and reinforces its longstanding commitment to offering leading wealth management services in the Japanese market," the Swiss bank said in a separate statement

Credit Suisse said it plans to expand client coverage through the integration of new offices in Osaka and Nagoya and aims to boost profitability. Currently the Swiss bank has an office in Tokyo.

The acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in mid2012

"This acquisition is a demonstration of our commitment to build a leading private banking business in Japan, acquire assets, and drive profitability," said Junya Tani, head of private banking for Credit Suisse in Japan.

"Since we began our onshore private banking business in 2009, the progress we have made has exceeded expectations and we are looking forward to building on this success with this acquisition."

Credit Suisse said its private banking business in Asia Pacific has been among the fastestgrowing of its international wealth management businesses, with annual doubledigit growth in net new assets.

HSBC said the sale is part of its strategy outlined at the Investor Day in May 2011.

The bank's chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, wants to cut annual costs by $3.5 billion and sharpen the bank's focus on Asia by quitting countries or businesses where it lacks scale.

The British bank last month reported a 36 percent fall in thirdquarter profits as the euro zone debt crisis hit investment bank income, while strains in the U.S. economy saw bad debts there jump by almost $1 billion, the first rise in two years.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Six Brunei nationals killed in bus crash, 8 others injured (Update)

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 06:26 AM PST

KOTA KINABALU: Three of the six Brunei tourists who died in a road accident involving an express bus in Tuaran near here Tuesday have been identified.

Sabah Deputy Police Commissioner Datuk Tan Kok Liang said those identified were Abdul Manan Ishak, 50, Pangiran Zahama Pangiran Zainal, 61, and Dayang Norhayati Abdul Hadi, 61.

Two of the dead were only identified as Faridah, 60 and Sapawi, 60, while a woman's identity had yet to be determined, he said.

"We only got fellow passengers to identify them. We have yet to check with the Immigration Department. What was important was to rescue them," he told reporters at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

DCP Tan said six victims sustained critical injuries. He said there was not much information that could be obtained from the victims as they were all traumatised by the incident.

He said there were 32 people - 11 men and 21 women, including the driver and an assistant driver - on the bus that was travelling from Tawau to Kota Kinabalu.

In the 3.05pm incident, the bus carrying all Brunei tourists lost control and overturned at a sharp corner before hitting a tree at kilometre 8.9 of the Ranau-Tamparuli road near Kampung Koporingan in Tuaran.

Tuaran police chief Dept Supt Zaharuddin Rasip said two of those killed died on the spot. The others were pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

He said initial reports indicated that the bus was heading downhill when it slammed into a large tree and split into two.

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Report: Lynas plant safe if IAEA recommendations adhered to

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 05:28 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Lynas Corporation Ltd's rare earth plant in Gebeng, Pahang, will be safe and harmless if the company follows the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to two Malaysian professional bodies.

The Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) and the National Professors' Council (NPC), in a joint report on the project, said the plant must adhere to stringent procedures for waste management to ensure worker safety, public safety and environmental well-being.

The 63-page report, issued Tuesday, said the processing of rare earth produces some by-products which carry some low-level radioactive risks, but such risks are manageable and there are technologies available to effectively render the wastes harmless and safe.

ASM, an independent science and technology 'think-tank", and NPC, a body of more than 1,500 professors from the public and private universities, initiated a comprehensive study on rare earth and its potential contribution to the Malaysian economy.

In the report, titled "Rare Earth Industries: Moving Malaysia's Green Economy Forward", they also said that Lynas Corporation would have to ensure that there is a health scanning of plant employees as well as people working within the immediate vicinity of the plant.

The report said the health scanning is to establish a baseline data on the health of the community living and working around the plant premise.

It also suggested that the "discharge limits for toxic chemicals and heavy metals must meet standards stipulated in the Environmental Quality Act 1974 (and) properly designed permanent storage for low-level radioactive waste must be built to isolate gypsum residues if its beneficiation is not viable".

The plant also needs to construct an interim low-level radioactive waste storage within the premise to accommodate waste produced in the first three years of operation, it added.

The two professional bodies said the rare earth industry is expanding, especially with the growing demand for green products and the global push to embrace the green economy.

"As a result, investments in rare earth mining and processing have also grown. Apart from China, many countries have started to seriously allocate new investments in rare earth refining. "Some have begun reviving their old rare earth mines which were abandoned during times of low pricing," it said.

The report said the Lynas plant in Gebeng will be generating three types of residues, namely Water Leach Purification (WLP) residue, Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) residue and Neutralisation Underflow (NUF) residue.

It said the WLP and NUF residues can be considered as raw materials for other industry, for example WLP can be used as raw material in making gypsum plaster and NUF as fertiliser.

Storage and handling of the residues can be overcome because WLP residue contains mainly calcium sulphate, which is also known as synthetic gypsum, while NUF residue is rich in magnesium, the report said.

Meanwhile, ASM chief executive officer Dr Ahmad Ibrahim told reporters after issuing the report that claims that the Lynas plant would emit radiation detrimental to public health were not true.

He said the risks of the Lynas operation were manageable.

However, the company had failed to engage actively with the community in giving a detailed explanation of the project, he said.

"The Lynas management should enhance the understanding, transparency and visibility of its regulatory actions in the eyes of the public, particularly those actions related to inspection and enforcement of the proposed rare earth processing facility," he said.

Dr Ahmad said the actual rare earth business was good for the future as it led to the making of materials for the use of science and technology, including green technology, and was a good industry for Malaysia towards achieving its Vision 2020 of becoming a developed country. BERNAMA

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Floods worsen in Johor, over 3,200 evacuated

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 05:21 AM PST

KLUANG: The number of flood victims evacuated in Johor increased to 3,265 as of 8pm Tuesday, albeit fears of rising water levels.

The increase was due to precautionary measures taken by the authorities to avoid any mishap to those living in high risk flood prone areas.

A flood victim from Kampung Sungai Linai, Simpang Renggam, Siti Zubaidah Basiron, 46, said she and her family had to evacuate and take shelter at SK Sungai Linau due to heavy rain for the past two days.

"Though the flood situation is not very bad compared to previous years, we decided to shift as a safety measure," said Siti.

According to the National Security Council portal's 8pm report, 41 relief centres were opened in Kluang (23), Segamat (5), Kulaijaya (3), Batu Pahat (4), Pontian (4) and one each in Kota Tinggi and Johor Baru.

Among areas hit by floods in Kluang were Kampung Isnin Maarof; Kampung Tengah Renggam; Kuil Ketchumi; Kampung Seri Maju Jaya; Kampung Haji Hasim; Kampung Chokro; Mengkibol; Kampung Muhibbah; Kampung Sungai Linau; Kampung Parit Hassan; Kampung Bentong; Kampung SC, Kampung Baru, Kampung Tengah; Perumahan Rakyat Yap Tau Sah; Kampung Mengkibol; Kampung Kolam Air; Kampung Berasau; Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Peroh; Kampung Punchor; Kampung Sri Cahaya; Kampung Contoh; Kampung Bt 4 Paloh; Kampung Melayu Mardi and Kampung Haji Nor Md Amin.

In Segamat, Kampung Batu Badak, Kampung Paya Dalam, Kampung Spangloi Kampung Usaha Jaya, Kampung Poloh were affected while SK Bandan, Kampung Parit Haji Kamisan, Kampung Parit Khalil and Taman Sri Kota were flooded.

In Pontian, Kampung Kayu Ara Pasong, Kampung Parit Ramunia, Kampung Parit Yassin, Kampung Tampok, Kampung Lapis Tampok, Kampung Sri Gambut and Kampung Paya Embun were reported be flooded while Kampung Laut in Skudai, Johor Bahru; Kampung Sungai Besoi, Kampung Murni Jaya, Kampung Sungai Siam in Kulaijaya and Kampung Sungai Berangan in Kota Tinggi were all affected.

Those seeking information on floods can surf the website at contact the State Flood Operations Room at 07-2908012. BERNAMA

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

Metro Watch

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 04:13 AM PST


Sasaran International Arts Festival organised by Sasaran Art Association is being held at Sasaran Kuala Selangor until today to promote art activities. About 50 artists from 17 countries will take part in the art festival, including Hungary, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, China, Singapore, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia. Programmes include painting, sculpture, street performance, music performance, short films and seminar. For details, call Ng Bee at 03-6264 8235 or visit


NN Galery is holding a group exhibition entitled The Prayer from now till Jan 7 at White Box, Solaris Dutamas. The Prayer is an art exhibition inviting 25 Malaysian artists to present their reflection on the theme. Participants include Datuk Sharifah Fatimah Zubir, Ilse Noor, Ismail Latiff, Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Syed Thajudeen, Cheong Laitong, Tengku Sabri Ibrahim and Mastura Abdul Rahman. For details, call 03-4270 6588.


Tropicana City Mall, Petaling Jaya, is organising a Book Charity Drive with Cambridge English for Life. The public are invited to donate English language books, story books (fiction or non-fiction children age four to 17), picture books and encyclopedias. The public can pass the books at the Book Charity counter (next to the information counter) on the ground floor level. The books will be donated to poor children. For details, call 03-7883 0912/ 7710 1818.


Shelter Home for Children has come out with colourful desktop calendars for 2012 with a theme "Children are a precious gift of God" and it is priced at RM10 each. For details call Edwin or Brian at 03-7955 0663.


Crescent's biggest book sale is back offering discounts up to 80% from Dec 23 to Jan 1, from 10am to 9pm at the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council's Multi-purpose Hall in Jalan BU3/1 Bandar Utama, PJ. For details, call 03-6184 2448 or e-mail


The Nalanda Buddhist Society is organising an event to offer robes and other requisites to the Buddhist monastic in cultivation of generosity on Dec 25 at 2pm at the Nalanda Education & Outreach Centre at Happy Garden, Kuala Lumpur. All are welcome. For details, call 03-8938 1500 or visit


The Malaysian Art Centre is organising a Giving Art Exhibition in aid of the National Cancer Society Malaysia until tomorrow at Melia Hotel, KL. Pieces of artwork are being sold at a discounted rate from 10am to 8pm. For details, call 012-381 0819 (Jacqueline).


Buddhist Community Alliance is organising the 'Teenager's Camp: I'm So Blessed! at Nalanda Centre, Serdang from Dec 23 (3pm) to Dec 26 (8pm). The camp will be led by Samanera Amaranatho. Teenagers aged 13 to 18 years are welcome. for registration, call 016-908 7499 (Richard).

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Keeping our drains free of garbage is key

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 04:13 AM PST

NOW they say "Rubbish blamed for the recent Kajang floods" (Dec 6).

There could also be other contributing factors. That said, we just have to care more of our rivers and lakes.

We have not been doing so and we are now paying the price in the form of floods.

I have visited this area where the flood occured. I have seen the rubbish discarded everywhere.

We must care more for our Mother Earth.

We are already facing climate change and the extreme weather is causing much difficulty to the people and their livelihood — people are losing homes and valuables, and suffering severe damage to business premises and food inventories

We have contributed to global warming in many ways, like increasing deforestation with fewer tree-planting activities, aggressive development with little care for landslides, and polluted air released into the atmosphere untreated.

We continue to exploit the environment and nature with hardly any thought for the well-being of future generations.

Planet Earth is our only home and therefore we must respect, care, nourish and cherish it.

With the monsoon season at hand, floods and rising river water are things we need to keep track of. All of us must redouble efforts to keep our drains cleaner.


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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Paul McCartney to cover songs that inspired Beatles

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 06:28 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Paul McCartney will kick off 2012 with an album of cover tunes and two original songs, he said on Monday, offering fans a glimpse of the music that inspired one of the biggest rock bands ever, the Beatles.

The yet-to-be-titled album, due for release on February 7, will showcase the former Beatle on a "deeply personal journey" covering classic American songs that inspired him and bandmate John Lennon when they wrote their own tunes.

"When I kind of got into songwriting, I realized how well structured these songs were, and I think I took a lot of my lessons from them," McCartney said in a statement.

"I always thought artists like Fred Astaire were very cool. Writers like Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, all of those guys - I just thought the songs were magical. And then, as I got to be a songwriter I thought it's beautiful, the way they made those songs."

Teaming up with Grammy-winning jazz musician Diana Krall and producer Tommy LiPuma, the ex-Beatles frontman recorded his vocals in a booth without instruments for the first time in his musical career.

"It was very spontaneous, kind of organic, which then reminded me of the way we'd work with the Beatles. We'd bring a song in, kick it around, when we found a way to do it we'd say 'Okay, let's do a take now' and by the time everyone kind of had an idea of what they were doing, we'd learnt the song. So that's what we did, we did the take live in the studio," said McCartney.

While the full tracklist is yet to be revealed, the album will feature collaborations on two new, original songs, with legendary musicians Stevie Wonder on "Only Our Hearts" and Eric Clapton on "My Valentine."

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Anuar Zain shuns celebrity lifestyle

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 03:14 PM PST

As much as he is a major pop star, Anuar Zain isn't one for the celebrity life.

A LOT of celebrities live in their own little world. Pop singer Anuar Zain is one such celebrity. He seems to avoid the excesses of celebrity life, guards the details of his personal life and is especially in no mood to elaborate about his relationship with any woman at this point in time. And yes, he has earned the tag of being a reclusive singer, even with the media.

"I am indeed a private person who is at his most relaxed amongst family and friends. As a singer, I try to sincerely bring joy to my fans and other listeners," said the Merlimau, Malacca-born singer whose full name is Shahrul Anuar Zain.

In fact, Anuar is a rare local celebrity who has maintained his popularity through his award-winning songs despite his aloofness.

"I definitely do not pick and chose which media I speak too. But I do make it a point of speaking only when there is something to speak about and that usually pertains to my career.

"As far as tracking me down is concerned, it all depends on my schedule. Blame my management for over-working me!" said the former air steward with a cheeky grin.

As the story goes, Anuar started his singing career at a very young age. When he was in lower secondary school, he recorded five duet albums with singer Ellina, resulting in hits like Kain Pelikat and Senyumlah Senyum. Even as a raw teenage sensation in the mid-1980s, the young Anuar already had the pop smarts and extra pocket money to boast.

Later on, Anuar took a break from the music scene and joined Malaysian Airlines to be a steward. Still, the small town boy never forgot his passion for music, performing at private shows and functions.

Then in the late 1990s, he decided music was his true love and it was time to make it a full-time career.

His first solo album was released in 1998, consisting of 10 songs, and the first single was Bila Resah. At 28, he proved that late-bloomers did have a chance in the pop scene here.

Anuar outdid himself back then – he was awarded the Best New Artiste award at the Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) in 1999.

His second album was released two years later and the third one came out in 2007. His albums, rather curiously, have been self-titled affairs. One of his most memorable songs to date has to be Lelaki Ini – a heart-stopping ballad.

According him, the secret of churning out award-winning songs is really simple.

"I just stay true to what touches and inspires me. Even if it means having to wait years to collect the material or get the right creative direction. This explains why I'm not the most prolific artiste out there," said the 41-year-old singer, who is the younger brother of pop diva Ziana Zain.

His first recording contract was with Warner Music Malaysia, and later he joined Synchrosound Music. However, he decided to move away from those two record labels to make music under his own label (Anuar Zain Network).

Since then, he has been writing songs that have made him one of the most sought-after singers around.

Anuar doesn't mind digging into his own pocket to finance his music.

The investment can be quite substantial while the time frame to release an album is rather long, according to the singer.

Apart from being very selective about songwriters, Anuar has often been accused of being biased and only choosing his favourite composers. On his new album (self-titled again!), Indonesian songwriters like Nico Ajie Bandy, Ari Bias, Numata and Adrian Martadinata are featured while homegrown writers Hazami and Aylwin Santiago wrap up the cast of collaborators.

"To be frank, I have no preferences for songwriters or producers. Whatever and whoever speaks to my artistry is more than welcome to be a part of my creative process.

"People assume that I go for brand names only – but it's not true. I believe in giving any composer a chance, local or Indonesian," said Anuar who struck gold with Sedetik Lebih, which picked up the Best Pop Song award at the recent AIM18. Composed by Edry Abdul Halim, it was the theme song of the award-winning movie, Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa.

Sedetik Lebih also picked up the Best Original Song award at the 24th Malaysian Film Festival last month in KL.

Currently, Anuar is working the promo rounds for his fourth studio album, released in September this year.

Ku Berjanji Karna Cinta, the first single from the album, gained considerable pop mileage, while the second single Cinta Harus Memiliki looks the part to keep Anuar in the news.

His current direction of music, which centres on tender ballads and slick Malay pop, has kept him in the charts. But Anuar is game to explore other genres – jazz or soul – if given the chance.

"Whatever inspires me at any given time will show up in my music production. Just watch," said the singer who is known for his signature dimples.

Of late, there has also been talk that Anuar refuses to take part in any more song competitions. There has been much speculation about his bold stand.

"I won't deny that I'm abstaining from taking part in song competitions like Juara Lagu. I just don't want to deal with the stress anymore. At this stage of my career, I would like to think that I don't have to prove anything any more. Now, singing really is just about enjoying myself," he said.

And "enjoying myself" includes going for holidays, travelling alone to enhance his knowledge about music and people, and exploring and discovering new music.

For someone who likes to keep a low profile, the last thing Anuar needed was to be dragged into inevitable controversies such as the recent 'AIM-Yuna' fiasco, where indie singer-songwriter Yuna had to return the AIM Song of the Year trophy because of a mix-up on the AIM committee's part.

At the award rectification ceremony in KL on Nov 24, the AIM Song of the Year title was handed to Anuar's Sedetik Lebih.

It was an awkward situation, to say the least, and Anuar was really put in a spot.

"With regards to AIM18, a mistake was made and rectified. Let's leave it at that," said the talented vocalist, choosing to downplay the issue.

Popular as he might be, this heartbreaker admits he cannot see himself settling down in the next few years.

"I've been saying that I want to settle down – in the past decade and a half! But it looks like I'm not getting anywhere. At this juncture, my prayers would be: I just want to live happily ever after doing exactly what I'm doing right now. No more, no less!"

Anuar Zain's self-titled fourth album is distributed by Universal Music Malaysia.

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Many believe Xmas should be celebrated the old fashion way

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 04:45 PM PST

MALACCA: Ask 68-year-old retiree Joseph D'Costa about Christmas at the Portuguese Settlement in Ujong Pasir and he will vehemently stress that the religious and traditional traits have been overshadowed by numerous commercial aspects and merry-making.

"It's time we move away from the Christmas festival to a truly Christmas feast and appreciate the significance of the season while approaching it as a step in one's growth and development of Christian lives," said Joseph, a part time mango juice trader and long time resident of the setlement which was established in the 1930s.

His words and views were shared by Stephen Nonis, Jerry Alcantra and his wife Fendora.

An odd job worker, Stephen who takes time annually to put up his home crib, depicting the Nativity scene, said "Christ came at Christmas to bring joy. We should live this Christmas message through our involvement in the community, society together with the cares and concerns of our fellow brothers and sisters. It is Christ who brings joy, peace and blessings to the world".

Jerry and Fendora believe that sticking to traditional elements when it comes to Christmas would help the younger generation understand the true meaning of the festive season.

"Christmas is about bringing joy, love and happiness to those around us. We pass this message through our involvement in the community.

Christmas must always indicate the presence of Christ in the world at all times including with our lives' sorrows, disappointments, failures and moments of joy," he said.

The couple in recent years has grouped 30 young children including their own residing at the settlement to sing popular Christmas carols from home to home.

The group, tagged as 'Santa's Crew' wear red outfits and also perform at major hotels and shopping centres in Malacca Raya.

"Usually, the young are associated with merry making during the season and we have brought back traditional practices like carolling in spreading the season's joys.

"Traditions of old, like carolling and going to church seem to be dying out but we are making sure our young come to know of these practices and preserve them for the generations ahead," added Fendora.

Christmas at the settlement, is like no other place in the country.

Having hosted the national Christmas open house celebrations twice, the season to be merry and jolly is observed with much gusto and fervour.

No expense is spared where decorations and lighting up of Christmas trees in homes are concerned.

With multi coloured bulbs, miniature and fancy lightings and related decorative paraphernalia both inside and outside homes, the setlement invariably turns into a large fairyland.

Even trees, potted plants, porches, balconies, fences, gates and compounds outside are not spared the illumination.

Large plastic toys and even moving ones depiciting everything from Santa Clauses, Santarinas, sleighs, snowmen, reindeers, ginger bread houses, bells of all shapes and sizes complete with wreaths, gold and silver tinsel balls, fancy trimmings, buntings and still more varied lighting illumination are all part and parcel of the Christmas makeup that envelopes the settlement.

Christmas is also when women folks bake and cook up many Portuguese cakes, delicacies and curry dishes using traditional home recipes preserved from bygone years. Among the traditional foodstuff are bolukoku, a cake made with coconut scrapings and agar agar, a type of jelly made from seaweed.

Another seasonal cake is bluder, a butter-flour delicacy that is heavily spiced.

Also on the menu is the famed feng, a spicy combination of liver, pig's tongue, intestines and pork, all finely sliced, while a beef preparation called semur is a must during family reunion dinners and lunches.

The settlement's regedor Peter Gomes puts it "The overall atmosphere is simply spontaneous and the community revels in the festivity as if Christmas was made just for them. Also, the period is like homecoming with family members, relatives and friends returning from outstation and from abroad like Singapore, Australia and New Zealand to be with the community folks".

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Sukma Games preparations in Pahang gathering momentum

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 04:46 PM PST

KUANTAN: Seven new sports complexes are under construction and 20 current premises are being renovated for the Sukma Games, to be hosted by Pahang next year.

State Sports, Youth and Culture Commitee chairman Datuk Wan AdnanWan Mamat said the agencies implementing the projects were the Works Department (JKR) and Kuantan Municipal Council (MPK).

"The new facilities are a petanque court in Balok, an equestrian centre and a football field in Tanjung Lumpur, a shooting range, mini hockey stadium and lawn bowl court in Indera Mahkota and the main media centre in Darul Makmur Stadium," he said here recently.

He added that among the sports centres being upgraded included the swimming pool, stadium, gymnasium, indoor stadium, golf course, sports village,public amenities and telecommunication networks.

He also said the Sukma Games' secretariat had identified 14 colleges that would be used as acomodations.

"Eleven are located in Kuantan, two in Temerloh and one in Pekan,"Wan Adnan said.

On preparations by the state's athletes, Wan Adnan said everything was proceeding smoothly.

Among the events which the state have targeted gold medals are shooting, archery, petanque, cycling and track and field, he added.

Sultan of Pahang Sultan Ahmad Shah, who visited some of the facilities undergoing renovation works, wanted all the works to be completed by May next year.

"The works should be completed by May next year and be of international standard.

"We not only provide good facilities to our guests but also first class treatment and services to athletes and officials," he added.

He also said the Pahang team would need to produce first-class performances.

The Sukma Games will begin on July 5 with 9,000 athletes and officials expected to be in the state.

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Polytechnic director urges students to adapt to job challenges

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 03:24 PM PST

MUAR: Johor Mara wants its polytechnic graduates and trainees, who have completed specialised courses but cannot find suitable jobs, to become entrepreneurs.

Its director Razali Nurdad said there were many businesses with economic potential which they could venture into instead of waiting for jobs.

He said those who had completed electrical engineering, motor mechanic or even tailoring courses could open up their own workshops or boutiques.

"We have to adapt to the present challenges where even academic excellence does not always guarantee jobs.

"We must look beyond working and venture into the entrepreneurship sector," he said when launching Malaysia's first Poly Boutique outlet on Saturday.

Razali said many polytechnic graduates and trainees had mastered the necessary working skills and knowledge to enable them to set up their own businesses.

For example, he added, the Poly Boutique specialised in making dresses, handbags and other items, was set up by a former polytechnic student.

He said NorAdlin Abdul Rahman, 27, who operated the store studied tailoring at Sultan Ibrahim Polytechnic in Johor Baru for two years.

He said today NorAdlin had become an entrepreneur, operating her own tailoring shop at Maras Maharani Riverview Arcade in the Muar town.

Razali also said Johor Mara, which had about 55 business arcades and bazaars in the state, hoped more former polytechnic students would follow NorAdlin's footsteps.

Mara has special funds to assist those interested in entrepreneurship and we also have business outlets to rent to them in every district.

"If possible, we want every Mara arcade in Johor to have at least one former polytechnic student conducting business," he said.

Meanwhile, NorAdlin said she studied at the Sultan Ibrahim Polytechnic in Johor Baru for two years for her Diploma in Dresses and Fashion Designing.

"After I obtained my diploma in 2002, I went to London to learn more about fashion designing before I decided to open a boutique here," she added.

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