Isnin, 3 September 2012

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Blinded Nepali soldier battles to London start

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 06:30 PM PDT

LONDON - Nepal athlete Bikram Bahadur Rana on Monday set a new personal best at the Paralympics, capping an extraordinary journey to the British capital from the Himalayan nation where he was blinded by Maoist rebels.

Aided by a guide runner, the former warrant officer came fourth out of four in his T11 200m heat for blind and visually impaired athletes, clocking a time of 26.95sec, more than four seconds behind the quickest qualifier.

He was ultimately slowest of 18 runners overall but the former soldier, one of only a two-strong national team at the Games, is lucky to be in London at all, after nearly losing his life in the forests of central Nepal.

Nine years ago he and his foot patrol triggered two roadside bombs left by Maoist rebels hiding in the forest.

The explosion forced Rana to the ground, blinded and with blood pouring from an open wound in his neck as he scrambled for his rifle while bullets whizzed past and shrapnel burnt into his face.

Now 31, Rana told AFP before travelling to London that he has vivid memories of his last day of active service as a government soldier battling the 10-year Maoist insurgency that finally ended in 2006.

"It was the morning of September 12, 2003. A few rain drops were falling from the sky and we had reached a road area in dense forests," he said.

"I was with two other soldiers when a bomb exploded. Both of my friends died on the spot and I was severely injured. My eyes were hurt, my face was covered with blood and there were wounds across my body."

Rana searched desperately for his gun, coughing acrid black smoke and blinded in one eye, as a group of Maoist rebels sprang from the roadside trees and opened fire. His life was saved when his comrades drove the insurgents back into trees. His last memory before losing consciousness was the silence that descended.

"I also heard music which sounded like water flowing in a small river but I found out it was the noise of the flow of blood from my neck and abdomen," he said.

Doctors battled to save the sight in one of his eyes in the coming days but after two weeks in an army hospital he was totally blind.

"I did not return to work for three months after the incident. I stayed at the hospital and with my relatives. But I did not want to live life doing nothing," said Rana, who lives in Kathmandu with his wife and two children.

As part of his recovery, Rana was persuaded to visit the Nepal Association of the Blind, where he was inspired by an army major who was taking computer classes despite also having been blinded in the insurgency.

He started classes himself and as part of his training at the association's headquarters in Kathmandu he was introduced to sport for the blind by a visiting cricket coach from Pakistan in 2008.

"I started competing in para athletics in 2008 and I became regional and national champion in the 200 metres in 2009," he added.

Rana clocked 12.85sec in the 100m at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Para Games, finished ninth among 32 runners and gaining a wildcard entry to the London Games.

The road to London hasn't been easy for Rana and teammate Maiya Bishankhe, a women's 100m runner who was born with only one forearm.

They have received little help from the authorities in Nepal, a country which does not invest in Paralympic sport and where facilities for disabled athletes are few and far between.

Rana, who is on Nepal's provisional squad list for the Blind Cricket World Cup in Bangalore, India, in November, says they have had no advice on special diets and have not been provided with footwear and clothing for the Games.

He admitted that he did not expect to be among the medals but said getting to London was a major personal victory.

"I feel very proud of my accomplishments. Despite being blind, I will be able to compete carrying the flag of my country," he said.

"I think the opportunity I have received being a blind athlete has made the country proud." - AFP

Errani, Vinci to be US Open foes not friends

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 06:16 PM PDT

NEW YORK - Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci will put their friendship to one side Wednesday when they clash in the US Open quarter-finals, the first time Italy has seen two of its players reach the last eight of a major.

Errani, the French Open runner-up and 10th seed in New York, reached the quarter-finals for the first time on Monday when she defeated last year's semi-finalist, German sixth seed Angelique Kerber 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.

Vinci, the 30th seed, saw off Polish second seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-4 to qualify for her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the age of 29 and at the 32nd attempt.

"We are very good friends in and outside the court. This is one thing that helps very much on the court, because, you know, the other will try and help the other," said Errani, who has won seven doubles titles this year with Vinci.

One of those trophies was at the French Open this year, a welcome boost after she had lost the singles final to Maria Sharapova.

"But also because we are playing both very good. I think this year we are playing very good tennis," added Errani, who has also won four singles titles in 2012.

Francesca Schiavone remains Italy's only Grand Slam title winner from when she won the 2010 French Open. She was also runner-up to Li Na one year later.

Vinci and Errani are also in the women's doubles quarter-finals in New York and Vinci, a singles winner in Dallas in the run-up to the US Open, insisted their friendship will remain strong whatever the result of Wednesday's tie.

Italy will be guaranteed a semi-finalist with either three-time champion Serena Williams or Ana Ivanovic waiting in the other section of the draw.

"First quarter-final against Sara. I'm happy to play against her, for sure an Italian goes to the semi-final. She's my best friend, so I'm very happy to play against her," said Vinci.

She has also taken inspiration from seeing Schiavone make the quarter-finals in New York in 2010 and Flavia Pennetta do so in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

"When Schiavone won Roland Garros and Flavia goes to top 10, also Sara in the final in Roland Garros, I try to come like the other one for sure, yeah," she said. - AFP

McIlroy rallies to win Deutsche Bank event

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 04:52 PM PDT

NORTON, Massachusetts - World number one Rory McIlroy fired his second consecutive four-under 67 on Monday to capture the PGA Tour's Deutsche Bank Championship by one shot over South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen.

McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, finished at 20-under-par 264 for his third victory of the season. He now has five career PGA Tour wins.

Oosthuizen closed with an even-par 71 on the TPC Boston to finish solo in second at 19-under. The 2010 British Open champion lost earlier this year to Bubba Watson in a playoff at the Masters.

Tiger Woods parred eight consecutive holes beginning at the 10th and then made birdie on 18 for a fourth round five-under 66. Woods finished third at 18-under-par 266. Woods also surpassed the $100 million mark in PGA Tour earnings with his third-place finish.

Dustin Johnson (70) and Phil Mickelson (66) tied for fourth at minus-14. It marked Mickelson's best finish since the Masters, where he finished in a tie for third.

McIlroy, who won the PGA Championship last month, vaults into the top spot in the FedEx Cup standings. - AFP


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

KLCI range bound in early trade

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 06:43 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips were marginally higher in early trade on Tuesday, where the FBM KLCI was range bound in the absence of strong external leads after the 30-stock index inched up to close at a record high on Monday.

At 9.22am, the KLCI was up 0.71 point to 1,654.61. Turnover was 125.23 million shares valued at RM43.30mil. There were 127 gainers, 92 losers and 164 counters unchanged.

Bloomberg reported Asian stocks swung between gains and losses as the European Union's outlook was cut by Moody's Investors Service ahead of meetings of the region's policy makers today. Energy companies rose after oil advanced.

At Bursa Malaysia, the quality of buying was relatively lacklustre while the top gainers reported thin trade only except for OSK Properties WC warrants which jumped 27.5 sen to 28 sen with 5.95 million units done.

F&N and Aeon Credit added 10 sen each to RM20.10 and RM13 while Ta Ann, Tradewinds and MNRB edged up six sen to RM4.10, RM7.68 and RM3.16 in thin trade. Genting Plantations rose five sen to RM9.36.

Dutch Lady fell 20 sen to RM42.30 with 1,000 shares done, KLK shed 12 sen to RM23.28 with 100 units done while Lafarge and CIMB gave up five sen each to RM8.58 and RM7.82. Tenaga eased four sen to RM6.80.

Bonia lost seven sen to RM2.45 and Padini two sen lower at RM2.18.

RHB Research sees Perisai testing RM1.04 in short term

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 06:26 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Research Institute expects more upside for Perisai Petroleum and expects the stock price to retest its all-time high of RM1.04 in the short term.

It said on Tuesday the technical outlook for the share price was based on the convincing breakout above the triangle formation in early August.

"Given the positive medium-term outlook, we are maintaining our view that the stock's price would continue to advance towards the next projected levels of RM1.26 and RM1.40 over the medium term," it said.

RHB Research advised investors to continue accumulating within the region of 93-96 sen on expectations of further upside over the medium term.

On the downside, it noted that the breaching of the 88 sen support would turn the overall outlook negative. Thus, investors should strictly cut loss below 88 sen.

"Overall, we see a compelling risk-to-reward ratio for investors with a theoretical entry price of 95 sen given the limited downside risk of 7 sen from the cut loss level of 88 sen compared to an upside of 31 sen and 45 sen to the resistance of RM1.26 and the projected level of RM1.40 respectively," said RHB Research.

Bankia to get emergency funds by mid-September

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 06:26 PM PDT

MADRID: Spain's nationalised bank BFABankia will receive up to five billion euros (US$6.3bil) in emergency funds by Sept 14 to cover steep losses and comply with stringent capital requirements, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

The capital injection of between four and five billion euros in the lender was set to be approved yesterday by the national bank rescue fund FROB, the source added.

It follows weeks of wrangling behind closed doors between Madrid and the European authorities on the need for help for the lender, heavily exposed to soured real estate assets.

A spokesman for Bankia declined to comment.

Bankia reported on Friday losses of over four billion euros in the first of half of 2012, while its core capital ratio a measure of financial strength was 6.3%.

Its parent company BFA had a capital ratio of 1.8%, far below the 9% level the government requires lenders to meet at the end of the year under the terms of the 100-billion-euro European aid for Spanish banks.

FROB had 4.14 billion euros available, the economy ministry said.

Banking sources told Reuters that FROB could inject cash into Bankia or use state-backed debt instruments to capitalise the bank, which it could in turn use as a collateral to obtain cash from the European Central Bank.

That constitutes an advance on the 19 billion euros that Bankia asked the state to inject as part of a total rescue package of 23.5 billion euros.

Several senior sources told Reuters last month that the eurozone wanted to wait for the conclusion of a final stress test of Spain's wobbly banking sector to be published in the second half of this month before disbursing the first tranches of the aid.

In June, consultancy firm Oliver Wyman said Spain's banks would need as much as 62 billion euros of extra capital from funds to be made available under a European rescue package. - Reuters


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Dressed for success

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 02:00 AM PDT

In its annual Fashion Issue, Galaxie picks the 10 Best Dressed Women in Hollywood.

IT is true that money can't buy style but you can sure use the dough to get yourself a good stylist. Kristen Stewart, star of The Twilight Saga movies, the recent Snow White And The Huntsman and, now, known as the girl who cheated on Robert Pattinson, has put her money to good use.

Once upon a time, the 22-year-old actress looked awkward on the red carpet wearing ill-fitting outfits. That's all in the past as Stewart, whom we are sure hired a team of stylists, nails it on the red carpet these days. So glamorous is the actress that Galaxie names Stewart as one of the 10 Best Dressed actresses in Hollywood for its annual Fashion Issue.

Stewart's rise in fashion started at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year when she was spotted wearing a pair of Balenciaga pants that screamed glamour. Stewart surprised fashion police with the bold choice – the lemon-yellow pants has multi-colour floral design and comes with ankle zippers. Stewart herself knows she has come a long way. "Look at a picture of me before I was 15. I am a boy. I wore my brother's clothes!" she has been quoted saying.

Joining Stewart on the Best Dressed list include Emma Stone, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Lawrence, Ashley Greene, Elizabeth Banks, Fan Bingbing, Diane Kruger, Charlize Theron and Blake Lively. Out of these 10 stars, Lively is the only actress who does not employ the help of a stylist.

Starring in Gossip Girl, a TV series that is as much about fashion as it is about the shenanigans of spoilt brats on the Upper East Side of New York, must have helped Lively in the fashion department. She said: "I love fashion. It's such an expression of self. I often see people and they look great but I can identify who styled them. Every stylist has a signature. I'm lucky to be on a fashion-centric show (Gossip Girl)."

While stars like Lively, Kruger (who was a former model in Paris) and Fan (labelled as Lady Gaga of China) are natural clotheshorse, for Greene dressing good is more of a necessity rather than choice, especially with the pesky paparazzi around.

"I have to make sure I look half-decent when I walk out of the house. I can't wear pyjamas to the grocery store anymore," Greene, who stars in The Apparition and The Twilight Saga, said. Whatever she's putting on must have impressed designer Donna Karan as Greene fronts the New York label.

Galaxie's current issue also has interviews with country superstar Carrie Underwood and the nation's favourite footballer Khairul Fahmi. The latter talks about looking good, staying fit and scoring big.

On the music front, Galaxie reviews new materials from The Script, No Doubt, Alanis Morissette and the mega hit everyone can't get enough of – PSY's Gangnam Style.

Ever wondered the craziest demands from artistes on tour? Galaxie investigates and reports on these diva demands – from Katy Perry's "No carnation" rule to Mary J. Blige who insists on a "Do Not Disturb" sign with 26 exclamation point (no more, no less).

The Sept 1-15 issue, out on newsstands now, is also your final chance to score big as Galaxie is giving away Samsung Galaxy Tabs and Sony MP3 players in its Picture Perfect Contest. And if you want to watch The Wanted's concert for free, Galaxie can hook you and your friends up with some tickets!

Freebies, fashionistas and football hero – all these and more in the new issue of Galaxie.

Voted Entertainment Magazine Of The Year for 2011 and 2012, Galaxie is published fortnightly by The Star Publications (M) Bhd. For more showbiz news, follow them on Facebook (/GalaxieMagazine), Twitter (@galaxiemag) and – Gordon Kho


The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

The Star's Wong is first Malaysian journalist elected into WEF

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 08:03 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Star's group chief editor Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai (pix) has been elected into the World Editors Forum (WEF) board, making him the first Malaysian journalist to be elected into the world body.

The Paris-based WEF is the organisation within the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra) that represents editors-in-chief and other senior news executives.

Wong is also among the first few editors from Asia to be elected into the 21-member WEF, which has been dominated by editors from Europe and the United States.

The election was made on Sunday in Kiev, Ukraine, where more than 1,000 newspaper publishers, chief executive officers and other media leaders have gathered for the global media group conference.

Wan-Ifra represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.

"It is an honour for The Star and also Malaysia to be elected into a world media body. It is even more satisfying as the decision was made as the nation celebrated its National Day," said Wong.

Wong, an executive director of The Star, said most media groups, including those in Malaysia had become more integrated with newspapers, television, radio, online portals and other media related businesses in the respective companies.

He said media groups in Asia had grown more influential as global attention shifted to Asia with its booming economies.

Wong is chairman on the Bangkok-based Asia News Network, the largest Asian umbrella group of more than 21 news media organisations including China Daily, The Jakarta Post and Thailand's The Nation.

Among WEP's seven other newly elected board members are Patrick Daniel, editor-in-chief of the English and Malay newspaper divisions of Singapore Press Holdings, Sanjay Gupta, head of India's most read Hindi language daily Dainik Jagran, and Kylie Davies, one of Australia's leading women in media.

Wong hoped to bring the ANN to work closely with Wan-Ifra on regional and global projects that would benefit the industry.

ANN held its first meeting of chief executive officers and those involved in the new media and advertising in Kuala Lumpur recently.

Police post photos of Janji Demokrasi gathering on Facebook

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 07:48 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Police through Facebook has highlighted 11 photographs which were recorded at the "Janji Bersih" gathering at Dataran Merdeka on Aug 30.

City CID chief Datuk Ku Chin Wah said members of the public who recognised any individual in the photographs were asked to come forward to provide the information.

He said they could do so to any police officer, police station or the Royal Malaysian Police hotline at 03-20319999 or KL Police's Hotline at 03-21159999.

"They can also directly contact ASP Azmi Abd Azizi at 019-2602344," he said.

Several participants of the gathering were seen trampling on pictures of national leaders, bringing a new flag to replace the Malaysian flag and showing their buttocks in public. - Bernama

Man beaten up for robbing, trying to rape hotel guest

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 06:39 AM PDT

MALACCA: A man was beaten up after robbing and allegedly trying to rape a salesgirl at a budget hotel here.

The victim, Wong Siew Hong, 38, said she noticed that her room on the second floor of the hotel in Jalan Melaka Raya 3, was broken into when she got back from a restaurant at 11.45am Monday.

"I saw that the padlock was broken and the door was slightly ajar. I was shocked to see a man in the room as I walked in," she said.

Wong, from Johor Baru, said the man who was clad in black with his face covered with a cloth suddenly rushed towards her and tried to undress her.

She said the man also punched her several times on the left cheek when she resisted and shouted for help. He grabbed her purse and fled the scene.

Wong then chased the man and shouted for help. The man was caught and beaten by several men about 50 metres from the hotel. Melaka Tengah police chief ACP Salehhudin Abd Rahman, who confirmed the incident, said the man was sent to the Malacca Hospital for treatment. - Bernama


The Star Online: Metro: Central

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

Mocking our heritage

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 05:33 AM PDT

They may naively think what they do is "cool" but drawing graffiti indiscriminately is nothing but vandalism. One of the latest to fall victim to such thoughtless acts is the mural in Jalan Sultan that calls for heritage preservation.

The mural painstakingly painted by 60 artists and art students from various ethnic groups is now spoilt by meaningless doodles and scribbles.

A carpark attendant nearby said the vandals must have done their act at night because he was always there during the day.

The artists, many in their golden years and travelled to the site from different parts of the country, braved the sweltering heat and long hours to paint the mural in conjunction with The Star's "Preserve Our Heritage" campaign held in October last year. Before that, it was only a dilapidated wall.

However, if vandalism and public apathy continue, it will return to its old state very soon. We urge everyone to help stop vandalism to protect what little heritage is left to us.

Better services for the blind

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 05:32 AM PDT

THE Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) has drawn up the "MAB Strategic Plan" to develop the organisation further in a more intensive manner, in order to provide a wider range of services in Malaysia.

MAB president Datuk Dr Abdullah Malim Baginda said the plan consisted of 12 points.

"The 12-point targets are very much in line with the Govern-ment's Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

"The MAB council aims to achieve the plan between 2012 and 2020. It is to coincide with the realisation of the country's aim to be a developed nation, by providing innovative programmes for the visually impared."

Among the aims of the plan, he said, were to set up MAB branches throughout the country and to upgrade the MAB training facilities to college level.

He added that the Gurney Training Centre (GTC) would undergo some changes including upgrading works by the year 2014.

"MAB also plans to embark on suitable enterprises that benefit the visually impaired.

"The organisation has set up a cooperative society for the blind in June this year, and will kick off the planned activities when it is officially registered," said Dr Abdullah.

He also said MAB welcomed any support, whether in cash or kind, besides constructive suggestions from any party as long as the suggestions would benefit the blind.

"To succeed, we need help and support from everyone including government agencies, the private sector and the public," he said, adding that the "MAB Strategic Plan" would cost approximately RM500mil to implement.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Rihanna gets worked up over-enthusiastic French fans

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 06:06 AM PDT

PARIS: Pop star Rihanna let rip in a series of foul-mouthed Twitter posts, saying she had to fight her way out of a Paris train station after a crowd of French fans gathered to greet her.

The singer from Barbados had earlier posted a photo showing herself at London's St Pancras station - and the time of her train's departure for Paris marked on a station sign.

She has 25 million followers on her Twitter account. She arrived at the Gare du Nord in Paris on the Eurostar late Saturday to find an enthusiastic crowd waiting to greet her.

The station's security team and her own bodyguards struggled to protect her from the crush as she tried to leave the station.

Rihanna later appeared as special guest of British band Coldplay for their sold-out concert in front of 80,000 fans at the Stade de France. - AFP


The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Easing flood woes

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 08:15 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: The rainy season expected at the end of the year has forced the Central Johor Baru Municipal Council (MPJBT) to speed up its flood mitigation process.

The council's director of drainage and irrigation Rosaidi Ibrahim said that the council had earlier closed Jalan Bakawali 91 as part of the month long flood mitigation programme.

"Now we have to close Jalan Rosmerah Utama to carry out the flood mitigation works.

"This involves widening of the drains and other works totalling RM760,000," he said during a special briefing on the council's projects here several days ago.

He added that adequate road signages would be put up to inform people about the road diversions which would affected thousands of road users.

Meanwhile Johor Jaya assemblyman Tan Cher Puk said that the project would take at least one month to complete and Jalan Rosmerah Utama would be closed beginning Aug 31 midnight.

"I hope motorist will be patient and understand that they will have to take a four kilometre detour with the closure of both these roads," he said adding that this was part of the MPJBT's RM1.3mil project to improve the drainage system in Johor Jaya.

He said hopes that the parents of a Chinese school along Jalan Ros Merah Utama and also those going to a Surau in the area would understand the need for the project to be completed before the rainy season.

"This year I was informed that the rainy season may be worse and as such taking the necessary precautions including finishing up flood mitigation projects were important to prevent flash floods," he said.

Among the alternative roads include using the Jalan Masai Baru. Pasir Gudang Highway and Jalan Johor Jaya.

Tan hoped that all these drainage works together with two retention ponds in Desa Tebrau would help prevent floods in Johor Jaya.

"So far the government has spent over RM60mil to deepen and widen Sg Plentong, Sg Tebrau and Sg Pandan since 2010," he said, adding that two years ago, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman had personally visited the area during a major flood, which affected more than 1,500 families.

He said that MCA had also set up a special unit comprising two of its councillors to ensure that the project was completed on time.

Members of the public who wanted to make enquiries or complaints could contact Tan Tuan Peng at 019-6561234 or Cia Chow Hui at 012-7724168.

During the briefing, Tan also showed photographs of the major floods in 2009 along Jalan Rosmerah Utama, which caused huge damages to property and vehicles.

Council acting on public complains

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 05:12 PM PDT

KULAIJAYA: Rubbish not collected on time, potholes, grass not trimmed on time and drains clogged are among the top complaints received by the Kulai Municipal Council (MpKu).

The council president Mohd Rofiki Shamsuddin said that last year the council received 1,099 complaints from the public on various issues especially on cleanliness.

"We have managed to solve more than 93% of these complaints," he said, adding that so far this year the council had received 547 complaints.

He added that other complaints include trees not pruned, problems created by wild dogs and even crows.

Mohd Rofiki added that the many of the problems were just not handled by the council but also involved cooperation from other agencies such as the public works department and Tenaga Nasional.

He added with the end of the year rainy season expected, the council was doing its best to ensure all the drains in housing estates and in its jurisdictions were cleaned to prevent flash floods.

"We have 23 zones under MpKu it is a norm each year end to ensure all these areas were free from flash floods," he said after chairing the council's full council meeting here on Friday.

Mohd Rofiki added that vandalism was another problem including cable theft and as such the council was now onwards putting up concrete lamp posts in housing estates.

"We are also putting the cables for the street lights at the top and no longer concealing it in the ground to deter vandalism.

"I think people are not so worried about whether it looks pretty with the wires running at the top as they rather the lights work during the night," he said, adding that this strategy was already implemented in Taman Putri.

Meanwhile deputy councillor head Chai Kuek Sen in his speech at the full council said that the councillors were getting many complaints about flash floods in the district especially in Taman Impian Senai, Jalan Senai - Ayer Hitam and Batu 21.

"We feel that many of these areas were experiencing flash floods during the rapid development taking place in Taman Indrapura and the drainage system is unable to accommodate the huge volume of water," he said.

He hoped that the council would continue to clean up the rubbish and drains to curb the problem.

Chai hoped that the drainage and irrigation department (JPS) and the town planning department would take into consideration proper drainage planning when approving development projects.

Fish breeders losing revenue due to water pollution caused by factory fire

Posted: 02 Sep 2012 08:16 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Fish breeders in the Teluk Jawa near Masai are losing millions of ringgit in revenue after a vehicle lubricant factory was razed nearby.

One of them Koh Kiea Sing, 45, said oil residue from the factory had flowed into the his farm and killed his commodity.

"The oil slick will continue to flow towards the sea if clean-up works are not carried out immediately," he added.

Koh, who ran his ikan kerapu (garoupa) rearing business over the past 10 years said he was forced to clean the oil slick himself by spraying water to prevent the sludge from entering his area.

"I hope that the authorities will do something to prevent our businesses from suffering further loss," he added.

Another fish breeder Teo Boon Hing, 39, claimed that a large quantity of his fishes had perished due to the water pollution.

"I only realised this on Sunday when my workers noticed the dead fishes floating on the water," added Teo.

In relation to the matter, Masai district officer Amran Abdul Rahman along with Permas assemblyman Datuk M. M. Samy and Johor Jaya assemblyman Tan Cher Puk also visited the area to meet with all 10 fish breerers there.

Amran said he had alerted all the relevant agencies including the Department of Environment (DOE) to carry out clean up works as soon as possible.

"We found out that the sludge, made up of car lubricant and other oil products from the factory has flowed to the fish rearing area from a ditch behind the factory along Sungai Rekok.

"The DOE has also taken a sample from around Teluk Jawa for analysis and installed pumps at three main points in the waters to prevent the situation from worsening," he said.


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Carif leads the way

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 12:10 AM PDT

Breast cancer

BREAST cancer is the most common cancer in Malaysia. Sadly, researchers still have an incomplete understanding of how the disease develops. So far, only 10% of breast cancer is preventable.

The Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (CARIF) plays a key role in identifying genes which cause breast cancer and studying how these genes, together with our lifestyle, cause the disease.

By targeting these genes, doctors and researchers can better identify the risk factors and recommend screening and prevention for women in the high-risk category. In turn, this will enable them to develop more effective treatments for breast cancer.

Nasopharyngeal and oral cancer

Carif has registered three patents on new treatments for oral and nasopharyngeal cancer. The foundation hopes to conduct clinical trials within the next few years. The research will be targeted exclusively at the Asian population.

Asians make up about 60% of the world's population, but less than 5% of Asians take part in genetic studies worldwide.

The foundation is studying how our Asian genes can increase our risks of having cancer and our response towards treatment.

Forefront of reseach

Carif is currently researching over 5,000 species of local plants for anti-cancer properties. They are looking for natural compounds that kill cancer cells but are not toxic to normal cells to avoid the side effects of chemotherapy.

To date, they have identified several promising candidates with anti-cancer properties and have filed a patent for one of these.

Fighting cancer head-on

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 12:09 AM PDT

The Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation examines how genetics can determine one's risk of developing the deadly disease.

MOST people are decidedly nonchalant when it comes to cancer research, but here's something that might grab your attention: It is currently estimated that one in four Malaysians will develop cancer in their lifetime.

To put it simply, cancer – once thought to be a rare disease – is now more likely than ever to rear its deadly head among your friends and family. Even you may not be spared.

Professor Dr Teo Soo-Hwang, chief executive officer of the Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (CARIF) says an unhealthy lifestyle contributes significantly to the elevated cancer rates.

"One of the top risk factors for cancer is definitely tobacco," Dr Teo notes. This is followed by a combination of poor eating habits and a lack of exercise.

"A national morbidity survey conducted by the Health Ministry found that about 90% of adult Malaysians do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, which is probably why the rate of colorectal cancer is increasing rapidly."

Being a sluggish couch potato makes up the other half of the unhealthy equation.

"About 20% of Malaysians are obese and I think this number is increasing at an alarming rate. It is not just weight that is the problem; we have many Malaysians who are skinny but do not exercise. They would rather go on crash diets which are detrimental to the body," she says, adding that it is important to get vaccination against viruses like hepatitis and cervical cancer.

"If you were to get rid of these factors that cause preventable cancer – tobacco, a poor diet and the lack of physical activity – you reduce the risk of cancer by one-third or half," says the professor at Carif's office in Sime Darby Medical Centre, Subang Jaya, Selangor.

The bad news is, not all cancers are preventable. Genetics also plays a large part in determining one's risk of developing the disease, Dr Teo says. For example, being Chinese automatically predisposes you to nasopharyngeal cancer (which affects the throat) more than any other population in the world. "In other words, in order to have nasopharyngeal cancer, you have to have some elements of Chinese, East Asian or Mongoloid genes in your genetic make-up. The cancer is almost exclusive only to the Southern Chinese," Dr Teo elaborates.

The foundation, which has collaborated with research centres in the United States, Britain, Japan and Australia, currently aims to develop new targeted therapy with fewer side effects for cancers that are more common in Asians. They include nasopharyngeal and oral cancers.

"We focus on why our Asian genes cause us to develop certain cancers and why we respond differently to treatment compared to our Caucasian counterparts."

According to Dr Teo, people of Asian descent may not respond as well to existing cancer treatments as they are targeted mainly at the Caucasian population.

"We know that Asians make up about 60% of the world's population and that means that six out of 10 of the seven billion in this world is an Asian. But at this moment, less than 5% of Asians take part in genetic studies," she points out.

"So for example, if you look up on any scientific discoveries, you'll find that less than 5% of the studies are actually conducted in Asia.

"Our research is important because we know that the genes we inherit influence the risks we have towards a disease as well as our response towards a treatment," Dr Teo adds.

Currently, about 80% of nasopharyngeal and oral cancer patients are Asians. In Malaysia, half of the oral cancer patients die within the first two years. Meanwhile, nasopharyngeal cancer patients often develop metastatic diseases (when the disease spreads from one organ or part to another non-adjacent organ or part) or recurrent diseases and treatment for such diseases is not very effective for both cancers, Dr Teo notes.

To make matters worse, very little research has been conducted on both cancers as they are perceived to be "low to middle income cancers" as well as cancers that are "taking place in Asia," says Dr Teo.

So far, Carif has registered three patents on new treatments for oral and nasopharyngeal cancer and hopes to conduct clinical trials within the next few years.

"We have found proteins in cancer cells that are not present in normal cells and these can be targeted to treat cancer.

"So far, we have developed new cancer cell lines from Asian patients that are being used all over the world to help us find cures for these cancers," she explains.

Carif is also researching over 5,000 species of local plants for anti-cancer compounds. Malaysia boosts a large chemical diversity of flora and fauna that may be developed into clinically useful drugs. Realising this potential, Carif has tapped into the country's natural resources, researching the use of plants, mushroom, seaweed, swamps, streams and oceans.

"We are focusing on natural compounds that kill cancer cells but are not toxic to normal cells. This will help avoid the side effects of chemotherapy," says Dr Teo. "Recently, we found a number of promising candidates with anti-cancer properties and we have filed a patent for one of these."

The foundation, which has been conducting patient-oriented research and awareness campaigns for the past decade, is also focused on finding genes that cause breast cancer and on dissecting these to find out how they can cause cancer.

"Currently, we know that up to 15% of cancer patients – regardless of the type of cancer – develop cancer because of the genes they inherited from their mother or father.

"If you can identify all these individuals ahead, you can then target them for screening and hopefully pick up the cancer earlier when it is more easily treated. And hopefully, these individuals don't have to die from the cancer," Dr Teo explains.

For instance, while it is generally recommended for all women over the age of 40 to have a mammographic screen, some women may actually require a screening from as early as age 25 because the genes they inherited put them at a higher risk of developing cancer.

"Our genetic technology allows us to identify these genes faster, so we can stratify the risks. Knowing our genetic make-up helps doctors and researchers target screening and prevention for women who need it most. Knowing the genes also helps us develop better treatments for these cancers," she says.

In its efforts to raise awareness on breast cancer, Carif also launched the second phase of its More Than A Mammo programme in May and hopes to recruit up to 3,000 women for a mammogram at a subsidised rate of RM50. Targeted at educating women on the importance of early breast cancer detection, the programme drew more than 1,000 participants within six months last year.

"Last year's participants contributed to a study conducted in collaboration with the Karolinska Institute, Sweden. Through that research, we hope to develop better ways to detect breast cancer in Asians," she says.

Carif celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Dr Teo, who has been onboard even before the foundation's launch in 2002, speaks fondly of their achievements. "Before Carif existed, there was no other non-profit cancer research organisation in Malaysia."

As a non-profit organisation, Carif relies entirely on public donations to sustain its long-term cancer research and nurture young talents for the cause. Currently, the foundation is supported by Yayasan Sime Darby and the Sime Darby Group of Companies, Petronas, Yayasan Lim, Lembaga Totalisator and the Selangor Turf Club, Joseph Eu Foundation and Eu Yan Sang, and Yayasan Al-Bukhary.

"We started off with a lab of just 700sqft and six scientists. Now we have two different labs, each about 2,500sqft and we are probably the best research facility in the country," she says. Currently, the research facility is provided by the Sime Darby Medical Centre.

Dr Teo says the foundation has also put Malaysia on the map for cancer research studies through its collaborations with top medical research centres like the University of Cambridge and the US National Institutes of Health.

The foundation, which depends solely on sponsorship and donations, is also seeking to engage the public to join them in their fight against cancer by participating in their Community Champion campaign. Marathoner and cancer survivor Frank Chong became their first community champion last June when he took part in a 90km run at the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. He raised about RM14,000 for cancer research through the campaign.

"There are many ways that the public can contribute to the cause. The campaign is one way. Volunteerism has a very important role among Malaysians," says Dr Teo.

On their slogan, Hope Lives Here, Dr Teo explains that it encapsulates their belief in their ability to make an impact in combating the disease. 'It is also our call to action. One in four Malaysians will get cancer in their lifetime and unless we do more about it now, I'm going to be really worried, not just for those in my generation, but also my children's generation," says Dr Teo, a mother of two. She is determined to tackle the challenge head-on.

To quote the former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who attended Carif's launch as well as their 10th anniversary gala, Dr Teo concluded: "Research is risky; we might never achieve anything in our lifetime but if we don't try, we definitely won't achieve anything."


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