Ahad, 26 Ogos 2012

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'Jersey Shore' actress Snooki welcomes baby boy

Posted: 26 Aug 2012 09:20 PM PDT

NEW YORK, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Jersey Shore reality star Nicole Polizzi, popularly known as Snooki, has given birth to a healthy baby boy, her representatives said on Sunday.

Polizzi, 24, one of the breakout stars of the MTV hit reality show Jersey Shore, which follows the loves, brawls and assorted dramas of a group of New Jersey beach housemates, had her baby in the early hours at New Jersey hospital.

"The world just got another Guido! Lorenzo Dominic LaValle has entered the world weighing six pounds, five ounces. Nicole, Jionni and Enzo are doing great," her representatives said in a statement.

The pint-sized Chilean-born star whose hard-partying Jersey Shore antics were a major factor in making it a hit show, announced in March her pregnancy and her engagement to boyfriend Jionni LaValle.

She has become one of television's most well-known reality stars, putting out a novel and branching out with her own spinoff show along with Jersey Shore co-star Jennifer "Jwoww" Farley.

While she and Jersey Shore have been the subject of some ridicule, the show has consistently topped U.S. TV ratings for cable channel MTV.

Join the Southland contest

Posted: 27 Aug 2012 12:53 AM PDT

In conjunction with the premiere of Southland Season Four, HyppTV, Telekom Malaysia's pay TV service, is giving fans of the show a chance to win cool merchandise.

All you need to do is complete this sentence: "I love Southland because ..." and post it on Twitter.

Make your reply as snappy and witty as possible (remember, Twitter only allows 140 characters in a single post), and, most importantly, mention @HyppTV in your tweet. The good folks over at HyppTV will choose the best posts and contact the winners directly.

Among the items up for grabs are a HyppTV pillow and bag, Big Bang Theory and Person Of Interest folders, Southland caps, foldable bags, posters and much more! The contest begins today (noon) and ends on Wednesday (Aug 29) at 6pm.

Who’s who in Southland

Posted: 27 Aug 2012 12:53 AM PDT

Detective Lydia Adams (Regina King) is smart and perceptive, possessing excellent investigative instincts. Working in the homicide division after previously spending two years in the gang unit, she is one of the sharpest detectives around.

She is sometimes impaired, however, by the emotional connection she holds to the cases she handles, as well as her insistence on doing things her own way.

Lydia has gone through numerous partners over the past few years. But she may have finally found the right fit in her new partner.

Ruben Robinson (Dorian Missick) is Lydia's new partner and a detective trainee. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he joined the Marines and served two tours in Afghanistan. He and Lydia seem to speak the same language and work well together.

Considering Lydia to be very wise when it comes to doing the job effectively, he hopes to learn as much as he can from her.

A family man, with a wife and three kids, Ruben doesn't define courage as facing danger and overcoming it. He defines courage as being able to get up the next day to do it all over again.

Officer Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) recently returned to being a beat cop after his detective partner was murdered during a confrontation with gang members in the previous season. Emotionally scarred by the tragedy and its effect on his partner's family, Sammy tried to take matters into his own hands by personally going after those involved. Sammy is a new father to six-month-old Nate and is discovering how his dangerous job could possibly affect the safety of his son.

Officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) is a seasoned patrol cop who most recently served as a training officer to Officer Ben Sherman. Suffering severe back pain from various work-related injuries, John became increasingly dependent on painkillers, making it almost impossible for him to function in his job.

Recent surgery on his back should put him on the road to recovery, but the emotional wounds caused by his drug addiction may take longer to heal. John is very guarded about his private life, but that may change when he uses his own experiences to help a suicidal teen.

Officer Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) is a rookie cop whose handsome face and winning smile make him a target of friendly ridicule among his fellow officers. Having recently completed his training rotation, Ben is now much wiser to the ways of the street – something he never learned growing up in a life of luxury. While he has moved on to the next phase of his police training, Ben's short fuse still lands him in trouble and shows his inexperience. Because of Cooper's addiction to painkillers, Ben was forced to carry more responsibility than a typical officer trainee.

Officer Jessica Tang (Lucy Liu) is a smart, engaging and caring officer assigned to John Cooper. Her first task is to evaluate his physical state on his first day back from surgery. She's been on the force for 13 years, but she's only been back on the streets for about a year after being nearly beaten to death by a man she pulled over.

The video of the beating is now used to train officers on what not to do during a routine traffic stop.

Although Tang has enormous courage and strength, she relies on quirky habits throughout the week to keep her life in order (like, she won't turn left on a certain street and has to eat at a certain place on a particular day).

Consequently, she has several unfortunate nicknames in the department.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Business

RHB Research maintains market perform on Aeon Co.

Posted: 26 Aug 2012 05:58 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Research Institute is maintaining a market perform on Aeon Co. (M) Bhd and revised its fair value to RM9.90 from RM10.40, based on 16 times FY13 EPS.

It said on Monday it continued to expect stronger earnings growth in H2, FY12, underpinned by: 1) seasonal sales boost due to the festive seasons (Hari Raya, Christmas etc); and 2) sales contribution from its newly opened store, that is Ipoh Station 18 as well as the maiden full-year contribution from its newly-opened Rawang shopping centre.

RHB Research said the Q2, FY12 net profit of RM38.2mil (+32.7% on-year, +1.6% on-quarter), brought 1H12 net profit to RM75.9m (+0.6% on-year), slightly below expectations as it only accounts for 33% and 35% of our and consensus full-year forecasts respectively.

"AEON's H1 earnings typically account for 35%-45% of its full-year net profit," it said.

Last Friday, Aeon chalked up a 32.7% growth in net profit to RM38.24mil from RM28.81mil a year ago boosted by contributions from its new stores and the re-opening of another store.

It said on Friday its revenue rose 10.4% to RM758.67mil from RM686.60mil. Earnings per share rose to 10.89 sen from 8.21 sen.

In the first half, its earnings rose just 0.6% to RM75.88mil from RM75.42mil a year ago when there was a recognition of net proceeds from an insurance claim of RM10.9mil in the first quarter ended March 31, 2011. Revenue increased 9.3% to RM1.538bil from RM1.407bil.

Demand for industrial properties on the rise in Iskandar Malaysia

Posted: 26 Aug 2012 05:51 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Demand for industrial properties in Johor is likely to remain positive based on the state's position as one of the top investment destinations in the country.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said the current situation would create demand for industrial properties especially in Iskandar Malaysia.

"Property developers should venture into industrial park projects to cater for the demand apart from the residential properties," he told StarBiz.

Ismail said Johor was still strong in the manufacturing sector and remained one of the top three destinations for foreign direct investments (FDI) in Malaysia.

Statistics from the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority showed that it had approved 929 manufacturing-related activities for Johor from 2007 until April this year with RM41.48bil in investment.

Of the figure, RM14.99bil (14.4%) came from the domestic investors and RM26.49bil (15.3%) from foreign investors.

He said the manufacturing sector was the top recipient of the cumulative committed investments in Iskandar Malaysia from 2006 until June 30.

It received RM32.71bil contributing 34% out of Iskandar Malaysia's total cumulative committed investments of RM95.45bil.

The property sector came in second with RM29.80bil followed by utilities (RM9.52bil), government (RM7.31bil) and petrochemicals (RM5.10bil).

Other sectors are ports and logistics (RM3.74bil), tourism (RM2.30bil), healthcare (RM1.60bil) education (RM1.55bil), creative (RM0.40bil) and others (RM1.69bil).

"With Iskandar Malaysia moving on the right direction, local and foreign investors are now turning their gaze on us," added Ismail.

Johor's proximity to Singapore was an added advantage as many of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and multinational corporations (MNCs) were looking elsewhere to relocate their operations.

"Logically, Johor Baru is the best choice for many of them as they could have the best of both worlds in two countries," he said.

He said new industrial parks within Iskandar Malaysia such as Senai Hi-Tech Park, Setia Business Park, Tanjung Langsat, IOI Kempas Utama and Southern Industrial Logistics and Clusters@Nusajaya were doing well.

Ismail said to-date Singapore was the largest foreign investor in Iskandar Malaysia with total cumulative investments of RM4.56bil as at Dec 2011.

Ismail said SMEs from Japan and MNCs from Europe, the United States and those based in China also had shown interest to relocate their operations to Iskandar Malaysia.

He said Johor's manufacturing sector received a shot in the arm with the Government planning to transform Johor into a leading electronic manufacturing services hub in the country and the region.

RHB Research sees possible rebound in MRCB shares

Posted: 26 Aug 2012 05:51 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Research Institute sees a possible rebound in the short term for Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) shares following the steep decline in the stock's price.

It said on Monday MRCB's share price had climbed from a low of RM1.27 in February 2010 to a year-high of RM2.60 on Aug 2, 2011 before a gap-down on Aug 5 2011 triggered a correction which saw its share price fall to a year-low of RM1.48 by end-September 2011.

RHB Research said as MRCB was grossly oversold, the stock's price staged a five-month recovery to a high of RM2.27 by early-February before it gradually fell back to a low of RM1.54 in mid-May.

A bullish wave subsequently lifted the stock to a high of RM1.93 in early-July. Nevertheless, the stock failed to sustain above the 61.8% FR level of RM1.91 and corrected to a low of RM1.71 by end-July. A second corrective wave subsequently pushed the stock's price to a low of RM1.67 over the next three weeks. "Last Friday, the stock continued to slip below the 10-day SMA and ended the day at RM1.61 (from its open of RM1.66), registering a total trading volume of 7.5m shares," it said.

"Noticeably, the medium-term outlook is negative with both MACD and signal lines heading deeper into the negative region. This is substantiated by the growing bearish divergence between the 10 (RM1.722) and 40-day (RM1.783) SMAs. RHB Research said similarly, the short-term trend is also negative given the increasing bearish divergence between the MACD and signal lines.

"Despite the negative outlooks, the steep decline in the stock's price saw both RSI (27.827 points) and Stochastic indices cross over into the oversold region prompting a possible rebound in the short term," it said.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Sports

Golf: Watney storms from behind to win Barclays

Posted: 26 Aug 2012 05:10 PM PDT

FARMINGDALE (New York): Nick Watney closed with a two-under 69 as the American rallied in Sunday's fourth round to capture The Barclays tournament, the first event in the PGA Tour playoffs.

Watney began the final round two shots back. He finished at 10-under 274 and won the title by three strokes at the Bethpage course.

The win moves him into first place in the PGA Tour's playoff points race with three more FedEx Cup events to play.

Brandt Snedeker, who is trying to land a spot on the US Ryder Cup team, shot a one-under 70 and took second at seven-under par. - AFP

Golf: Kiwi Ko becomes youngest LPGA winner at 15

Posted: 26 Aug 2012 04:33 PM PDT

VANCOUVER (Canada): New Zealand's Lydia Ko became the youngest champion in the history of the LPGA Tour on Sunday by firing a five-under-par 67 to capture the Canadian Women's Open by three strokes.

The 15-year-old South Korean-born Ko finished the 72 holes on 13-under-par 275 at the Vancouver Golf Club course to beat Park Inbee by three shots.

Ko, who is four months past her 15th birthday, is also the fifth amateur winner and also the first since JoAnne Carner captured the Burdine's Invitational in 1969.

Ko is 16 months younger than Lexi Thompson, who was the previous youngest winner on the Tour at 16 years, eight months. Thompson set the mark when she won the Navistar Classic last year.

Ko was born 11 days after Tiger Woods won his first Masters in 1997.

She finished five strokes ahead of South Koreans Choi Na-yeon, Shin Ji-yai and Chella Choi, who finished in a tie for third place at eight-under 280.

Earlier this year, Ko won the New South Wales Open in Australia at 14 to become the youngest player to win a professional tour event. Ko also won the US Women's Amateur two weeks ago in Ohio.

Ko pulled away with birdies on five of the first six holes on the back nine.

She began the tournament with two straight 68s and shot a 72 on Saturday, giving her a two-shot lead heading into Sunday's final round. - AFP

Jonathan dedicates first win to late pal

Posted: 26 Aug 2012 03:58 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Back-up bowler Jonathan Chan won his first international title at the 15th PBAP Bevida-Storm International Classic in Manila yesterday and dedicated it to his late team-mate Khoo Beng Khai.

The 21-year-old Jonathan defeated compatriot Siti Shazwani Abdul Suhaimi in a sudden death playoff, taking the opening game 236-221 and the second 244-233.

The victory brought back memories of his former roomate Beng Khai, who passed away last October.

The duo had competed in the youth division of the 2011 edition of the tournament in what was to be their last stint together.

"Beng Khai was always on my mind. It felt like only yesterday that we were here together. This win is for him," said an emotional Jonathan. In October last year, promising bowler Beng Khai collapsed in his car after parking it at the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex.

Jonathan had been with him but all efforts to revive Beng Khai failed and the whole episode was a traumatic one for the whole team.

"I spent some amazing time with Beng Khai and I will always cherish that," said Jonathan.

On his sensational game yesterday, Jonathan gave due credit to Shazwani for putting up a good show.

Shazwani did better than the boys to top the leaderboard with an eight-game score of 1,949 in the Masters Open qualifying round.

"It was a tough fight but I was confident I would win as I had better pin carry today," said Jonathan. "My coach Foong Tak Meng changed my release and helped me improve my physical condition. I'm thankful to him."

Prior to yesterday's success, Jonathan's most significant achievement was winning the team gold at the 2010 Asian Youth championships in Kuwait with Beng Khai, Abdul Syimir Razak and Aris Ardilla Santosoh.

Team manager George Tan was pleased with the country's 1-2 sweep especially as the bowlers were sent for the competition on the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC)'s own funding.

"MTBC are looking at exposing the back-up bowlers and identifying new and additional talents to strengten the team.

"We are quite pleased with their progress," said George.

The places in the national team are limited and the National Sports Council (NSC) only fund the select group. But that has not stopped MTBC from sending aspiring bowlers abroad.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Nation

Plans to give incentives to promote cycling culture in Putrajaya

Posted: 26 Aug 2012 07:04 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Putrajaya Corporation (PPj) plans to give various incentives to encourage the culture of cycling to the work place among Putrajaya residents, said the PPj Director of City Services, Datuk Abdul Ghani Ahmad on Sunday.

He said PPj planned to provide discounts to civil servants and residents here who rode bicycles to the work place when using facilities managed by the PPj such as the public parks, gymnasiums and public swimming pools.

"In Putrajaya, bicycle lanes have been built and they are suitable for cycling to the work place but the response had been rather poor because of various reasons such as unsuitable weather. Thus, the cycling culture to the work place or for recreation must be developed.

"PPj plans to give incentives to members of the public using normal or electric bicycles to the work place which would reduce the traffic congestion besides reducing carbon monoxide gas emission," he told reporters after launching the electric bicycle manufactured by Revolution Manufacturing Sdn Bhd here.

"As far as PPj is concerned, we are committed in embracing green technology and would continue to promote cycling culture more aggressively and provide the necessary infrastructure to cater for the users.

"Moving forward, PPj will continue to source for environment friendly products and services and make Putrajaya one of the liveable cities in the region," he said. - Bernama

Needy will get a lot of attention under 2013 budget

Posted: 26 Aug 2012 03:06 AM PDT

BUKIT MERTAJAM: The needs of senior citizens, single parents, children, the poor, disabled and those facing social problems will receive a lot of attention under the 2013 Budget to be tabled on Sept 28.

Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Datuk Heng Seai Kie said this was because the Barisan Nasional government under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was sensitive to the needs and problems faced by this group in society.

"The proposals for this group are still in the process of being finalised," she said when asked about the incentives to be given by the federal government under the 2013 Budget.

Heng had earlier handed over a welfare contribution to single mother Lim Lee Kheng, 29, who has to fend for herself and her four children aged between one and eight years following the death of her husband in May.

Lim will receive RM400 a month under the Social Welfare Department's aid programme for children, a sewing machine under the Teman 1Azam programme and a RM2,700 grant to start a tailoring business to generate income for her family.

Heng said the BN government had never neglected the needy, and was in fact sensitive to their plight, especially of the poor and disabled.

She said the federal government had given out RM1.35bil in 2011 under the Social Welfare Department's various aid schemes, whereby senior citizens received the biggest portion followed by children.

Heng said RM315mil was distributed under the children's aid programme last year, benefiting 98,848 recipients nationwide, including RM16mil for 5,529 recipients in Penang.

She said the federal government also gave out 80,597 aid packages with the maximum worth RM5,000 each under the Teman 1Azam programme, aimed at improving the recipients' quality of life. It has benefited 1,793 families in Penang alone.

Besides these, Heng said the government had approved RM18.6mil for 430 families as launching grants worth RM2,700 each for the needy interested to start a small business.

Meanwhile, Heng urged care centres to get themselves registered so that they could operate according to the stipulated criteria for the safety and in the interest of the centres' residents.

She said Under the Care Centre Act 1993, these care centres must be registered with three agencies, namely the local authority, Fire and Rescue Department and Health Department.

There are 818 care centres registered with the Social Welfare Department, with 66 of them located in Penang. - Bernama

Highway traffic grows heavy

Posted: 26 Aug 2012 02:59 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: While the roads were clear in the morning, there was a spike in the number of vehicles on the North South highway late Sunday evening as holidaymakers returned after a week-long Hari Raya break.

A spokesperson for the PLUS Expressway Bhd traffic monitoring centre said the flow of traffic was heavy at about 6pm compared to the smooth-flowing traffic in the afternoon.

"The traffic flow is high as many are returning after the Raya break, but there is no congestion as the vehicles are still moving," he said, adding that the flow was much higher than it usually was on Sundays.

He said traffic was slow-moving at several areas including between Juru and Bukit Tambun, Changkat Jering and Kuala Kangsar, the Sungai Perak rest area and the Menora tunnel.

He said traffic was congested for about an hour at kilometre 269 from Putra Mahkota due to a minor accident and also from Port Dickson towards Seremban due to a stalled trailer.

Malaysian Highway Authority director-general Datuk Haji Ismail Salleh said they had not expected traffic congestion on the highway as many had returned early before they start work on Monday.

"Traffic has been heavy over the past few days.

"It has been quite evenly distributed so we are not expecting much congestion on the highways," he said when contacted.

PLUS opened 1,500 toll counters and added 3,000 personnel to handle the exodus, which was expected to see approximately 1.4 million vehicles ply the North-South Expressway.

It had also increased the number of PLUS Ronda rounds during the festive period.

Cranes, ambulances and personnel from the police, fire department and Civil Defence Department are also on standby at strategic locations.

The latest traffic information can be obtained from Plusline's 1800-88-0000 and Twitter www.twitter.com/plustrafik, or LLM's line at 1800-88-7752 and Twitter www.twitter.com/llminfotrafik.

PLUS Time Travel Advisory can be viewed at www.plus.com.my.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Props at work

Posted: 26 Aug 2012 12:24 AM PDT

By playing with the visible and invisible, Ahmad Zakii Anwar creates tension in images that are open to interpretation.

THERE is something about the dark side of life that attracts, like a moth to a candle flame. Ahmad Zakii Anwar likes to skirt the frayed edges of this shadowy flip-side and then re-enact his moody, broody take on canvas.

His latest exhibition, Kota Sepi, which opened on Thursday, is a cavalcade of nine Hyper-Realist black-and-white works measuring 76cm x 206cm which focus on the goings-on in lonely back alleys and dingy rooms.

But the painted story has assumed new forms of film noir psycho dramas in the hands of this auteur, who hand-/finger-painted the 250gm Canson paper with ground charcoal. This gives a sense of immediacy to the quiet but intense moments captured in cinematic proportions.

It is no longer about the original impressions of transients roaming the streets at ungodly hours in search of sensation, or, more likely, bereft of sensation.

The darker side, like the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde psychosis, is also revelatory of the artist, like an alter ego. "They reflect certain things in me, which I find intriguing," he admits.

The dark theme that runs through in this sequel to his Kota Sunyi Series (2006/2007) is the same, even the scene switch from Johor Baru to Kuala Lumpur. Kota Sepi is darker, less revealing, and even concealing and dissembling, with the characters shown disembodied, half-turned or with faces downcast or in soft focus.

The current series revels in an enervating ennui and plays with light to accentuate or hide emotions and features, whereas Kota Sunyi, painted with acrylic, is a fugue of strong shadows.

But the facial expressions and gestures of the figures, either seated or standing, are still as compelling, if not more so. And the mood is greatly enhanced by the subtle touches of natural surface textures.

In a work depicting a seated woman clad in a cheongsam and a man with only half-body shown, questions that leap to mind include who is she – a prostitute, a transvestite or the man's girlfriend?

Ahmad Zakii explains: "I am not painting portraits. I am not interested in this person, who he is, his life or his history. I am only interested in him as a prop, an actor, in this psychological play I'm creating. It's not about social commentary or something conceptual or intellectual.

"I show and at the same time, I hide. I hide things in the darkness, in the shadows and especially in the meanings behind my works. I play around with the visible and the invisible, to create a tension and a situation open to interpretations by the audience."

Although he dabbled with charcoal for his preliminary studies at Institut Teknologi Mara (ITM, now UiTM) – from which he graduated in 1977 – it was only in 2000 that he took it up seriously as a medium and has had three exhibitions using charcoal since.

In his 1999 works with the ideal Michelangelesque nude torsos looking like a Mapplethorpe photograph, in his Presence exhibition, the darkened tones are more an epidermis of modesty. Vulnerable, yes, but with a sense of emancipation and renewed confidence.

Nakedness also means a sense of anonymity as there is no hint of race, religion or culture. "It was like an avatar, standing in for me," he confides.

When his subjects are clothed, it becomes a symbol of the earthy, something grounded in reality and influenced by its surroundings.

It was the mysterious Smoking Man "masked" in a smoke-screen, that first established Ahmad Zakii in the art firmament and saw this ad man breach the transition. He reprised this two-sided appeal in his works of Balinese dancers wearing the masks of spiritual entities with a double entendre, the worlds of dancers and demons which can be interchangeable.

"When at first I had this smoke covering up people, hiding their faces, I never really understood why. It was a mask not defined by culture, whether it's Balinese or from the Chinese opera. It's a front, a mask that everyone puts on every day, a different mask for the home when with the wife, and when at work with the boss or with the subordinates," the artist.

The mask also acts as an invisible vantage point from whence to look at people, to see their true selves and actions, and to size them up.

He explains how his approach is different from that of Lucian Freud, who painted like he sculpted, and Francis Bacon, who played on distortion emanating from the inner self.

Ahmad Zakii has also painted the cow, both sacred and profane; the wild boar and the rhinoceros with the immaculate skills of a Durer.

"I am not painting the wild hog as a small animal, but (have) invested it with a power and my own persona. It is scaled up (crowding out the canvas) to look grand."

Ditto, the series on sofas which he turns into something iconic, even transcendental.

He recalls how his interest in art was kindled when he surreptitiously copied a picture of a nude from a copy of Life magazine subscribed by his father (Tan Sri Anwar Abdul Malik), a founding member of Umno.

"The concept of art-making (since then) has not changed for me," he says, adding that he needs to get "excited" about a subject and "feel" it to want to paint it. And the result must be something sublimal, especially in reaching a state of "one-ness" with whatever one is creating.

But when Ahmad Zakii enrolled at ITM, he chose the more dependable graphic design course. He kept a nine-to-five routine for a year before taking up freelance work in advertising.

"I was earning good money as illustrator, visualiser and doing story boards, but after 13-14 years, I couldn't take it anymore – the pressure and stress, the long meetings and briefings, the perpetual changes to satisfy clients' demands. There was no freedom. So I quit in 1990/91.

"It was not a clean break at first, I was still taking the odd job or two on the side. I bought canvases and paint but was at a loss as to what to paint. Then I met Latiff (Mohidin, the poet-painter-sculptor), who told me not to think too much. He asked me to play to my strength (and that is Realism), and never to look back. And that was what I did," he recalls.

The still-life of fruits (later he tackled antique ceramic and earthen vessels to show the shapes and forms as well as to celebrate their antiquity) was a great confidence pep. It was no plain academic exercise but one laden with erotic overtones and, to boot, wit too, as at that time he was absorbed in the sex manuals like the Kamasutra.

The cucumber, persimmon, chilli, pomegranate, banana, tomato, mangosteen, papaya and durian are orchestrated into a poetic empathy with naughty captions such as Tales From The Kamasutra; 120 Days Of Sodomy and SixtyNine.

Back recently from Mexico City after a three-week residency, he had a three-man show with Mexican sculptor Sebastian and the Philippines' master of contemporary art, Benedicto Cabrera (better known as BenCab), in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Adaptable and sensitive, Ahmad Zakii is letting his Mexican experience seep into his works and admits to it. "I am an artist and I'm a user. I use things that I find intriguing."

Kota Sepi is on show till Sept 12 at Valentine Willie Fine Art Gallery, 1st Floor, 17, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur. Viewing is from 11am-7pm, Mon-Fri and from noon to 6pm on Saturday. Closed on Sunday and public holidays.

Using the body as a canvas

Posted: 25 Aug 2012 12:12 AM PDT

Tens of thousands of visitors showed up at The World Body-painting Festival in Austria last week to celebrate the event's 15th anniversary of taking human canvases to the extreme. Can the Asian public accept this art form?

IT takes four to six hours for Tommy Yap to complete a single painting, but only a fraction of the time – 15 minutes – to wash it all off.

But that's all right. Five years in the business has taught this 38-year-old that beauty is fleeting, especially if it's to do with a human canvas.

Yap, you see, is no ordinary artist. He is among only a handful of professional paint mavericks to have emerged on the fringes of culturally conservative Asia in the past few years. Like many of his peers, he works according to the rules rather than around them, creating PG-rated versions from an art form that is notorious for its erotic imagery.

"I love doing this, but you have to constantly remind yourself to work within the boundaries of religious and cultural sensitivities," he says.

The bespectacled Yap, who wears his collared shirt neatly tucked in, looks more like a direct salesman than Leonardo da Vinci. His creative side, however, materialises the moment he picks up the airbrush and starts working on his latest demo piece.

This time, his canvas is June, a freelance model in her 20s whose willowy form is swathed in a white cotton tube and pair of shorts. With her arms and legs splayed out like a modern-day Vitruvian woman, she stands in the middle of the room, looking startlingly chaste.

"I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that one has to do it in the nude. A fabric, especially if it's not cotton, might ruin the outcome of the work, but that shouldn't stop you from creating art," murmurs Yap, through a protective mask.

Self-regulation, in his opinion, is an important ingredient if a body painter wants to thrive in Asia.

Recently, Yap came face to face with a similar "should-I-or-shouldn't-I" dilemma when he was asked to paint the Malaysian flag on some models for the Federal Territory Day parade.

Relating the incident, he explains: "I knew I would be setting myself up for trouble if I went ahead with my client's orders, so I requested an official letter ... you know, just to confirm that this project had been approved by the mayor. The whole idea was scrapped, just like I thought it would."

Knowing how to tread the fine line between sensuality and sensibility, then, is key. If Yap hadn't followed his head, his career would've been very short-lived.

Nothing to hide

If the impulse to create art is a defining sign of humanity, the body may well have been the first canvas. The practice has been common for centuries.

Since the 1960s, there was a revival of body painting in Western society but even today, opinions are divided on the legitimacy of body painting as an art form. As society evolves, however, the art form is increasingly celebrated for offering a shrilly, stylised alternative to tiresome fashion trends. It has left its mark on magazines, movies and – less often – on the streets.

Take Air New Zealand, for instance. In 2009, they ran a cheeky campaign whereby the instructions on their in-flight safety video were given out by employees in the nude covered in body paint and with strategically placed seat belts.

A corresponding article in the New York Times stated that "passengers on the video's maiden flight may have never paid more rapt attention to the line 'undo the seat belt by lifting the metal flap'."

But perhaps the biggest indicator that body painting is going mainstream is the fact that the Malaysian Expert Institute of Cosmetology, headed by the immaculately turned out principal Lim Wee Nee, is now offering classes in body painting.

Lim became acquainted with the art form as a student 20 years ago after she witnessed a sea of painted humans picketing for human rights on the streets of Canada.

"It really impressed me," she says. "You wouldn't have guessed that body painting would one day be considered the haute couture of cosmetics. I thought incorporating it as an optional subject was a great way to give final-year art students an edge in their career."

As head instructor, Yap conducts classes whenever Lim requests for it.

Admittedly, it's a small group. With just two, soon-to-be graduates paying rapt attention beside him, Yap launches into action, coating June's entire body in non-toxic, non-allergenic yellow paint. Then, he draws on a number of black squiggly lines on her collarbone with a brush, slowly working his way down to her hips.

June, who's being transformed into a mythical beast bit by bit, hardly speaks or moves except to shiver from the occasional gust of wind that blows through the open windows. Her job as a live mannequin may seem simple enough to the bystander but, in Yap's opinion, standing for six hours is no easy feat.

"I've worked with a number of models and I can tell you this ... not everyone is up for it.," he says.

Yap continues with his painting and dispensing creative pointers to the students in between. The initial tension has all but disappeared, and it seems like he's engaged in something almost therapeutic. But that's usually how it is.

After all, think of getting up close and personal with someone you've only met for five minutes and see how you feel.

"Things can get pretty awkward at first," he admits. "That's why it's important to crack jokes and laugh as you're working. It's a good way to break the ice."

Beyond the facade

Going from a make-up trainer to body painter was a natural transition for Yap, who's always had a passion for colours having grown up in a family whose business was selling art supplies. But it was curiosity that ultimately drove him to pursue body painting.

"I came across some amazing works by a few European and American body painters who managed to camouflage an entire person in a brick wall by just painting their bodies. I was like, 'Wow, I'd like to do the same!' It was very inspiring," he says.

It took him about a month to learn the basic techniques of body painting, which combines the meticulous artistry of an oil painter with the special expertise of a make-up artist. One must understand how to paint human skin. Yap soon discovered that the craft was all about patience and practice.

"It's nothing like painting on paper. Paper is flat, while a person has contours. It's also much more difficult to deal with something that's dynamic," he admits.

Having a supportive and remarkably self-assured spouse also helps. Yap's wife (yes, he's married) is, in fact, his biggest supporter and critic!

"My wife is not jealous at all," he says. "She was my first test model but she felt so cold and ticklish when I was painting that from then onwards, she told me to look for someone else.

"I suppose she knows that when I'm body painting, I see the model as a life canvas. It's not something sexual."

Yap soon embarked on an ambitious project, painting a medley of elaborate cheongsam on different bodies, and photographing each one for future reference.

"I wanted to do an Oriental version since all the previous artworks I've seen are all very Westernised," says Yap, adding that he hopes to do a kebaya series soon.

"Although my work can be washed off in an instant, it doesn't pain me. I feel a sense of accomplishment whenever I see my work come to life," he says.

Business is also brisk these days, with most of his clients coming from the beauty and fashion industries. While it sounds like amazing fun, Yap insists that body painting can be pretty stressful.

"Half of the time, we work on a very tight schedule and only get a 10-minute break for a quick bite. Mistakes are common. So the next time you're at one of our events, try and spot them!" he quips.

Asked if he has had any strange requests from clients and Yap shrugs non-committally.

"Body painting is, by itself, strange. So, no, I don't think I'll do anything weirder than that, although I'd love to blend someone into the Petronas Twin Towers one day," he grins.

Yap's ultimate dream, however, is to attend the World Bodypainting Festival held annually in Pörtschach, Austria where artists compete in different categories including brush and sponge, airbrush and special effects.

Online news portal Gather claims the event "isn't just a bunch of hippy artists painting naked bodies", it is "the largest and most important competition of its kind in the world."

Yap feels that one day, body painting in this region will catch on and then "a lot more commercial works done in the region can be published."

How long before that happens remains to be seen. After all, the art was dealt another blow last year when Facebook took down several photographs related to the Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project, which featured photographs of the painted breasts of 25 post-mastectomy breast cancer survivors, citing them as "pornographic".

The photographer cum artist, Michael Colanero, had only this to say: "I think the human figure has been a subject since the first cave drawings. Are we still not used to it? We are all humans with similar bodies. Let's just get past that and talk about what matters."

> For more information on the next intake for body painting classes at the Malaysian Expert Institute of Cosmetology, call 03-7727 6636 or e-mail: enquiry@malaysianexpert.edu.my

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

0 ulasan
Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Pushing the limits

Posted: 25 Aug 2012 04:25 PM PDT

CrossFit, a strength and conditioning programme that utilises a short-duration, high-intensity protocol using constantly varied functional movements, has long been known for its punitive workouts. This writer shares her experience with the gruelling exercise programme.

FOR someone who trains up to five times a week, you would think that three bouts of burpees, push-ups, sit-ups and squats; interspersed by a 100m sprint in between, would be nothing, right?

Wrong! Barely five minutes into the timed challenge at a CrossFit beginner's course, I was down and panting like a dog. I thought my heart was going to explode.

The experience left me gobsmacked, and frankly, quite embarrassed. I mean, hello, this is someone who's been known to regularly attend back-to-back spinning classes, yet there I was, emerging from the hellhole-challenge as the single most pathetic weakling on the planet.

More alarmingly, what transpired served only as a mild glimpse of a broad spectrum of gruelling workouts inherent to the exercise programme.

CrossFit Inc, a fitness company founded by Greg Glassman in 2000, first gained popularity in the early 2000s and is known for its intense regimes and punitive WODS (workouts-of-the-day). To date, it is practised by members of approximately 3,400 affiliated gym, most of which are located in the United States.

Essentially, it is a strength and conditioning programme that utilises a short-duration, high-intensity protocol using constantly varied functional movements.

It is also the training programme of choice for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and professional athletes.

In short, CrossFit is something of an exercise nightmare for the average Jane, and if its killer reputation doesn't make you quake in your shoes, walking into a CrossFit gym to suddenly find that you're the least fit person amid a throng of super-strong regulars will.

Admittedly, my first visit to Pushmore, the pioneer CrossFit affiliate in Malaysia and South East Asia did leave me pretty intimidated.

The gym, which occupies the premises of Merchant Square in Petaling Jaya, is decidedly Spartan at first glance. Minus the gigantic weight machines and treadmills I have grown so accustomed to, this self-proclaimed "fitness enthusiast" was suddenly lost.

Meeting Jonathan Wong, Pushmore's compact and muscular founder, did nothing for my floundering self-esteem. He has muscles on his muscles, for crying out loud!

Wong, who is also the founder and director of CrossFit Malaysia, shares that he started the gym in 2008 after he stumbled upon the exercise programme on the Internet just the year before.

While he acknowledges that CrossFit can overwhelm the unsuspecting newcomer, he tells this writer not to freak out.

"The point of CrossFit is to take in the kind of training that athletes perform and make it accessible to the masses," he explains.

"Athletes train for specificity – whether it's to run faster, lift heavier weights or throw a javelin further.

"What CrossFit does is combine these training regiments from different sports with the aim of promoting 'all-round fitness'."

Something of a one-size-fits-all programme, Wong adds that because the programme is designed for universal scalability, the same routines are used, whether you are an athlete or a housewife.

"Athletes strive for performance, but a housewife still needs a certain amount of strength training to perform her daily routine, such as picking up things from the ground, picking up the kids or a flowerpot.

"We don't change programmes. Instead, we scale load and intensity according to an individual's abilities and fitness levels."

CrossFit incorporates three types of movements, Wong elaborates: Gymnastic movements (that use your own body weight); weightlifting (using equipment like dumbbells, sandbags, barbells and kettlebells); and metabolic conditioning (which incorporates cardiovascular activities such as sprinting, skipping, swimming and cycling. "All these elements make up our workouts, and we vary them so the body is constantly challenged."

The variation will result in a steady rise in your fitness level that can span up to 10 years, he says. "No other exercise programme can actually do that."

Currently, Wong, who looks only to be slightly taller than this 1.63m writer, can carry up to 210kg, a vast improvement from his 130kg marker only five years before.

Other improvements he has experienced include a change in his body composition. "My body fat percentage has gone down from 8% to 5-6%, he says (the average body fat percentage for a fit adult male usually ranges between 14-17%, while a professional athlete strives to keep a body fat percentage between 6-13%).

But while CrossFit can offer significant gains in strength and even long-duration endurance events, the high-octane nature of the programme also leads to higher injury risks.

A classic CrossFit injury would be like the case of one Brian Anderson, a 38-year-old member of the special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team in a sheriff's office in Tacoma, Washington in the United States, who ended up in intensive care and developed rhabdomyolysis (rapid breakdown of the muscle tissue due to injury) after his session of CrossFit.

Anderson had attempted to swing a 44-pound steel ball with a handle over his head and between his legs. The goal was to do 50 quick repetitions, rest and repeat.

But just six months later, Anderson was back in the gym, performing the very exercises that put him in hospital.

"I see pushing my body to the point where the muscles destroy themselves as a huge benefit of Crossfit," he told The New York Times in a 2005 interview.

Glassman himself had said that CrossFit can kill you.

Wong does not discount the regiment's risk, even to those who are already exercising, but approaches the subject more pragmatically: "I think any programme can kill you. People who play football or tennis get heart attacks and die. You can die even if you walk out the street."

That said, he concedes that CrossFit can be very dangerous when implemented incorrectly, especially for those who jump into the programme without prior screening.

The Foundation Series at Pushmore (the beginner's course that this writer undertook), aims to introduce core movements such as the "snatch" and the "clean", and CrossFit concepts to beginners, to mitigate the risk of injuries.

Wong, who has been training up to six times a week (and often two to three times in a day) to compete in the upcoming CrossFit Games (the Olympics of Crossfit, if you will), says he has sustained a series of injuries himself: "I've injured my back, shoulder, elbow, knees... everything. But as an athlete, I accept that injuries are part and parcel of my training."

But don't let all that put you off. Beginners are generally encouraged to go slow to ensure that they're working out and moving first before they load.

Members at the gym are also constantly monitored by a group of instructors that are certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). They currently have six instructors on board.

Despite its brutal reputation, Wong is adamant that anyone can take up the programme, including older adults and even those who are a little on the chubby side.

"My oldest client is 62," says Wong. "Even my son, who is seven-years-old, is doing Crossfit, but as more of a game than a structured programme.

"The goal is to introduce exercise as a lifestyle and not as an option or hobby. If you don't make the time now, it will probably be too late when you finally do."

It has been seven classes, and I am just one class away from completing my beginner's course as I write this.

Last night, I attempted a handstand push-up in class – an exercise that strengthens the shoulders and core – without success, ending up a sweaty, defeated pile on the floor.

The truth is, I haven't been able to do most of the movements that are integral to the programme so far (they include things like ring dips, pull-ups, chin-ups and push-ups) and that can be rather discouraging. I can't even do five proper push-ups to be honest.

But between taking up this new challenge to get harder, faster, better and stronger, and crawling back to the familiar comforts of the spinning studio, I am opting for the former. Simply because I'm a believer in moving forward and pushing my limits. (And also because I am just kiasu like that...)

After all, if a 62-year-old can do it, why can't I?

n Fiona Ho is a fitness enthusiast and an aspiring CrossFitter, who aims to be able to do 20 push-ups by the end of the year.

Delivering twins

Posted: 25 Aug 2012 04:22 PM PDT

There are a few factors that contribute to the successful management of a twin pregnancy and delivery.

TWINS could either be non-identical or identical. Non-identical twins arise from two ova fertilised by two separate sperms. Each twin has a separate placenta. They have separate sacs, each with an inner membrane (amnion) and outer membrane (chorion). Two out of three of all twin pregnancies are non-identical (dichorionic diamniotic).

Identical twins occur in one out of three twin pregnancies. They arise from a single ovum fertilised by a single sperm, which then divides into two identical embryos. If the division occurs in the first three days after fertilisation, the twins will have their own placenta and membranes (dichorionic diamniotic). Their ultrasound appearance will be the same as non-identical twins.

If the division occurs between the fourth and ninth day, the twin will share the same placenta and chorion, but have separate amnions (monochorionic diamniotic). If the division occurs after the ninth day, the twins will be in a single sac (monochorionic monoamniotic).

Two in three identical twins are monochorionic diamniotic; one in three dichorionic diamniotic and one in 100 monochorionic monoamniotic.

The diagnosis of twin pregnancy is enhanced by routine ultrasound. Without it, about four in 10 twin pregnancies will not be diagnosed until 26 weeks gestation, and about two in 10 remain undiagnosed until term.

Ultrasound in the first or second trimester will usually determine with more than 95% accuracy if the twins share the same placenta. The detection of foetal anomalies, of which the incidence is three times more in twin pregnancy, is best done with ultrasound between 16 and 20 weeks.

Foetal growth can be reliably assessed with serial ultrasounds in the second and third trimesters.

The incidence of twin pregnancies has increased worldwide and is the major reason for the increase in pre-term births. More than five in 10 twin, and more than 98 in 100 triplet, pregnancies deliver before 36 weeks gestation. Because of the increased incidence of pre-term births, these babies will need to spend some time in the neonatal intensive care unit.

There is no single method that predicts the likelihood of pre-term labour and birth. However, there is evidence that pre-term labour and birth can be predicted by vaginal examination, which detects premature change in the state of the mother's cervix.

There is also evidence that ultrasound measurement of the cervical length and/or the presence of cervico-vaginal foetal fibronectin is predictive of pre-term labour.

It is essential that there be a discussion with the obstetrician about the modes of delivery early in pregnancy. They are vaginal delivery or Caesarean section, which can be planned or unplanned. Because the likelihood of complications with twin deliveries is increased, an early decision will also have to be made about the place of delivery as neonatal intensive care units (NICU) are only found in certain hospitals.


Labour in twin pregnancy is the same as that of a single pregnancy. The lie and presentation of each foetus is checked on admission, preferably with ultrasound. An intravenous line would be inserted, and blood sent for screening and/or matching.

The obstetrician, anaesthetist, paediatrician, neonatal intensive care unit and operating theatre are informed early that there is a twin pregnancy admitted.

Both foetuses are monitored closely with continuous electronic monitoring of their heart rates. A foetal scalp electrode may be applied to the first twin when the membranes rupture. Labour may need to be augmented.

Pain relief with an epidural is often recommended as it facilitates assisted delivery, should problems arise.

The indications for any intervention for either twin are evidence-based.

Vaginal delivery

About five in 10 twins are delivered vaginally. The delivery process is the same as that of a single pregnancy.

If the first twin is presenting by the head and there are no obstetric or medical problems, the obstetrician will usually recommend a vaginal delivery. The occasions when vaginal delivery is assisted with a vacuum extraction (ventouse) or forceps are similar to that of a single pregnancy.

After the first twin has been delivered, the obstetrician will perform an abdominal and vaginal examination to determine the longitudinal axis (lie) and presenting part of the second twin.

If the lie is longitudinal, the membranes of the second twin will be ruptured artificially (amniotomy), and labour augmented with an intravenous drip containing oxytocin, if the contractions have slowed down or stopped after the first twin's delivery.

If the lie is not longitudinal, an external cephalic version (ECV) may be carried out, followed by amniotomy and augmentation of labour.

Alternatively, the obstetrician may insert a hand into the birth canal to grasp one or both foetal feet and draw it through the cervix (internal podalic version), followed by a breech extraction. Internal podalic version (IPV) requires a skilled obstetrician and is not done often nowadays.

If the second twin, with an estimated weight between 1.5 to 4.0kg, is presenting by breech, a vaginal delivery can be carried out, provided the obstetrician is comfortable with, and skilled in, vaginal breech delivery.

The maternal and neonatal outcomes of breech extraction with or without IPV are the same as ECV in twins weighing more than 1.5kg.

The optimal delivery interval between the first and second twin has been debated often. It is reasonable to expedite delivery of the second twin by amniotomy, intravenous oxytocin and assisted vaginal delivery.

Alternatively, it is also reasonable to allow a longer interval between the deliveries, provided the foetal heart rate, monitored electronically, is reassuring. However, if a breech extraction with or without IPV is considered, it should be done without delay.

Caesarean section

The reasons for planned Caesarean section include a breech (buttocks, feet, or knees) presentation of the first twin, a transverse lie of the first twin, twins with a shared placenta, conjoined twins, triplets and other higher order pregnancies, and indications as in single pregnancies, eg placenta sited over the birth canal (praevia), maternal hypertension, and difficulty in previous delivery.

Sometimes, a mother may choose to have a Caesarean section even when there are no complications.

An unplanned Caesarean section will be carried out should any problems arise during labour or after the delivery of the first twin. The former includes maternal hypertension, non-reassuring foetal heart rate(s), an umbilical cord dropping into the birth canal below the foetal presenting part (cord prolapse), poor progress, or failed assisted vaginal delivery. The latter occurs in less than five in 100 twin deliveries, and is usually because of non-reassuring foetal heart rate.

Pre-term babies

The longer the foetuses are in the mother's uterus, the higher are their chances of being healthy. Pre-term birth has immediate and long-term health implications for the babies. The earlier the birth, the higher is the risk to health.

One out every two babies born before 24 weeks live, and the other may die or have long-term problems. On the other hand, the survival rate of babies born after 32 weeks is high, and most do not develop long-term complications.

Pre-term babies have immediate problems with breathing, feeding and maintaining temperature. This requires nursing in an incubator, oxygen by mask or ventilator, and feeding by a tube inserted into the stomach or into a blood vessel.

Pre-term babies born in a hospital with a NICU have the best outcomes. However, not every hospital has a NICU. As such, it may be necessary to transfer the mother and babies to another hospital with a NICU, preferably before delivery, or if not possible, immediately after the babies' births.

The longer term problems of pre-term babies include developmental delay, asthma, behavioural problems and learning difficulties. The earlier pre-term birth occurs, the more likely the babies will be readmitted to hospital in the first few months of life, compared to those born at full-term.

There are several factors that contribute to the successful management of a twin pregnancy and delivery. The most important are a competent and dedicated obstetrician, paediatrician, anaesthetist and nursing staff with adequate medical equipment.

In short, effective teamwork makes the difference.

n Dr Milton Lum is a member of the board of Medical Defence Malaysia. This article is not intended to replace, dictate or define evaluation by a qualified doctor. The views expressed do not represent that of any organisation the writer is associated with. For further information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

Acting against AMD

Posted: 25 Aug 2012 04:21 PM PDT

Going for regular eye examinations and eating the right foods are the key to preventing loss of eyesight from this common condition.

WOULD you rather lose your eyesight or a limb? How about giving up 10 years of your life in exchange for your eyesight?

If you would rather lose a limb or 10 years of your life than go blind, you are not alone.

A recent international survey by eye healthcare company Bausch + Lomb found that two-thirds of the 11,000 respondents from 11 countries around the world would rather shorten their lives by 10 years than to lose their eyesight.

The results of the survey called Barometer of Global Eye Health announced last month, also revealed that 68% preferred to lose their limbs rather than their sight, while 78% would rather give up their hearing, and 79%, their sense of taste.

Despite that, the survey found that less than one-third of respondents take the necessary steps to preserve their eyesight, with only 21% having gone for regular eye examinations over the past five years.

And the reason given by 65% of those respondents who do not examine their eyes regularly for not going for these check-ups is that they did not have any eye symptoms.

However, this is a dangerous line of reasoning, as many eye diseases can develop quite extensively without any obvious symptoms.

One of these diseases is age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

How we see

According to consultant ophthalmologist Dr Kenneth Fong, AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people aged above 60 years in the developed world.

As stated by its name, AMD is a disease of the macula, that area of the eye that is the most sensitive part of the retina.

Our retina, located on the rear wall of our eyeball, is where the images we perceive are received as different frequencies of light waves, and translated into electrical signals to be sent to our brain, where they are processed into the images we actually see.

The retina is able to do this as it is made up of specialised photoreceptor cells that are sensitive to light.

These photoreceptor cells can be divided into two main types, named after their shapes: cones and rods.

Each type has its own particular speciality; cones enable us to make out fine detail and colours under daylight conditions, while rods provide our sight in low-light or night conditions.

The macula contains most of the cone cells in the retina, hence, enabling us to read, write, drive, recognise faces, and do fine work, like sewing and handicraft, among others.

These cone cells are particularly concentrated in the fovea, which is the central region of the macula.

The macula itself is located next to the optic nerve bundle, which sends the signals from the eye to the brain.

Wear and tear

There are two forms of AMD: dry AMD, which makes up 80% of cases, and wet AMD, which comprise the rest.

Dry AMD is essentially caused by the breakdown of the photoreceptor cells in the macula.

The scary thing about this condition is that it is untreatable, and symptoms only start to show up after it has progressed to the intermediate stage.

In addition, it is primarily a condition of old age, due to the wear-and-tear our eyes go through after functioning for several decades of our lives.

And its incidence is increasing in Malaysia because as Dr Fong points out, "our population is growing older and living longer".

Although its symptoms, like blurry vision, requiring more light to see and loss of central vision, only show up later in the progression of the disease, dry AMD can be picked up earlier by eye specialists.

Part of a regular eye examination – ideally done once a year – includes dilating the eye to give the ophthalmologist a better view of the interior of the eyeball.

This method enables the doctor to better detect yellowish deposits called drusen on the retina, which are a sign that dry AMD might develop.

Dr Fong explains that as we grow older, a cellular layer called Bruch's membrane, located between the blood vessel-rich choroid and the waste-processing retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), becomes less permeable.

This causes the waste from the RPE to start to accumulate on the membrane, which results in drusen. (The RPE is in charge of processing waste from the photoreceptor cells, which are located just next to it, on the opposite side to Bruch's membrane.)

However, Dr Fong notes that while all cases of dry AMD have drusen, not everyone with drusen will develop dry AMD.

Preventive diet

You might be asking at this point why should anyone bother undergoing an eye examination every year to detect this condition when it cannot be treated anyway?

The reason is, research has shown that the progress of AMD can be prevented and slowed down by certain foods and nutritional supplements.

Consultant dietitian Goo Chui Hoong shares that a major clinical study called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) had found that a high-dose combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc, delayed the progression of the disease.

The results of the study published in 2001 showed that those at high risk of developing AMD, including those with intermediate AMD and advanced AMD in one eye only, had their risk of the disease progressing further lowered by 25%, and their risk of vision loss lowered by 19%.

However, no apparent benefits were seen in those who had early or no AMD.

"So, diet is the only way to delay it, and there is definitely evidence to support that," she says.

Goo adds that while there are plenty of nutritional supplements available in the marketplace, consumers who want to delay their AMD must be careful to ensure that they get the right doses as the AREDS concentrations are higher than the norm.

In addition, they should consult their doctors before taking such high dose supplements as such high doses might have adverse effects under certain conditions.

The effective concentration of the antioxidants taken in the study were 500mg of vitamin C; 400 I.U. of vitamin E; 15mg of beta-carotene; 80mg of zinc as zinc oxide; and 2mg of copper as cupric oxide to help prevent copper deficiency due to the high levels of zinc consumed.

Goo also shares that the current ongoing AREDS 2 study is looking at the effects of replacing the beta-carotenes in the original formulation with lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as examining the effects of adding omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to the group of supplements.

"Certain beta-carotenes are used in the AREDS formulation now, but they cannot be taken by smokers because it increases their risk of lung cancer," she explains.

"In AREDS 2, the beta-carotenes are replaced by lutein and zeaxanthin, which are xanthophyll pigments found in the retina that help protect it against UV rays."

These pigments need to be obtained through the diet, and are particularly abundant in green, leafy vegetables.

This fact also explains why previous research has suggested that people who eat a lot of such vegetables have a lower risk of developing AMD.

Goo suggests that in addition to eating more green, leafy vegetables, those who wish to prevent or delay AMD can increase their intake of oily fish like salmon, sardines and tuna, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, as well as modify their diet to a low-glycaemic one.

The results of the AREDS 2 study are expected to be out next year.

In addition, certain risk factors for AMD like smoking, an overall unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle, can be changed with some willpower. Other risk factors like growing old or having a family history of AMD, unfortunately, cannot be avoided.

Bleeding in the macula

Because of the high density of photoreceptor cells in this area, the macula is well-supplied with blood vessels that provide them with oxygen and nutrients, and remove waste.

As we age, abnormal blood vessels start to grow into the macula from the choroid, which contains most of the eye's blood vessels.

These blood vessels tend to be fragile and leak blood and fluids, causing haemorrhage and swelling in the macula, which results in wet AMD.

Symptoms in wet AMD, like seeing straight lines as wavy and developing a blind spot in the centre of your field of vision, develop more rapidly than those of dry AMD.

This is probably a good thing in a way, as wet AMD can be treated, and the sooner it is treated, the better the chances of preserving your vision.

There are two main forms of treatment for this condition: injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and photodynamic therapy.

In wet AMD, there are abnormally high levels of VEGF secreted in the eyes, which promotes the growth of new blood vessels. The anti-VEGF injections aim to block this growth.

However, this treatment needs to be repeated as the abnormal blood vessels will grow back again.

As Dr Fong puts it: "It is like spraying herbicide on lalang, after one month it will grow back again because we can't kill the roots."

There are two drugs that can be used for this treatment: ranibizumab and bevacizumab.

According to Dr Fong, the main difference between them is their price and approval for use in wet AMD.

While ranibizumab has undergone specific clinical trials for the treatment of wet AMD and has been shown to be effective, bevacizumab, which is only approved for use in certain tyoes of colorectal, lung, kidney and brain cancers, has not.

However, many doctors have been using bevacizumab off-label (ie without official approval from drug authorities) to treat wet AMD.

And last year, they were proven right to do so when the results of the two-year Comparison of AMD Treatments Trials (CATT) showed that both drugs produced similar results in treating the condition.

Equally important, as Dr Fong shares, is that the cost of one injection of ranibizumab is RM3,100, while bevacizumab costs RM100.

Another treatment for wet AMD is photodynamic treatment, which Dr Fong says can be used for certain types of wet AMD.

In this procedure, a drug called verteporfin is injected into the patient's arm, which then travels through the body, including into the blood vessels in the macula.

When the drug reaches the macula, the ophthalmologist shines a laser beam into the eye to activate the drug to destroy the new blood vessels, and slow the progression of the condition.

Check your eyes

For Dr Fong, the take-home message is for Malaysians over 60 to regularly check for AMD and other eye conditions.

"Very often, patients don't present (to doctors) until they have lost sight in both eyes because the condition is not painful," he says, adding that most people are also unaware of AMD in general.

These observations, in addition to the facts that dry AMD can be delayed by diet and wet AMD can be treated if caught early, are what inspired him and his wife, Goo, to co-author a book called Food For Your Eyes.

Published by Star Publications (M) Bhd, this bilingual book in English and Chinese presents both information on common eye diseases and recipes that help promote eye health.

AMD, and dishes that incorporate nutrients to help prevent and delay it, form an important part of the book.

Food For Your Eyes will be available in major bookstores and selected Klang Valley Focus Point outlets from next month onwards.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved