Ahad, 9 September 2012

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Legal tangle

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 02:24 AM PDT

Seeking Justice In The City proves to be quite a challenge for its lead actors.

A SLOPPILY dressed, street-smart lawyer who behaves in a roguish manner but with a sense of righteousness. No, we are not talking about Kevin Cheng's breakthrough role in the Hong Kong TVB series Ghetto Justice.

A look at Qiu Jian Zhi, the protagonist of Ntv7's new legal drama Justice In The City, brings to mind Cheng's character Law Ba. An attorney who doesn't dress or talk like one, Jian Zhi is smarter than he appears to be and has a heart for championing the rights of the underprivileged.

Portraying the role is Malaysian actor Shaun Chen, who is now based in Singapore.

"Comparisons are inevitable. Even I found the roles (of Jian Zhi and Law Ba) similar," Chen said at a recent press conference.

Before you write him off as a Law Ba wannabe, the 33-year-old Chen, a popular actor in Mandarin TV series in Malaysia and Singapore, assured that would not happen.

"I actually turned to a friend for inspiration. He's a thirtysomething consultant yet he keeps his hair long and talks and acts like a rogue," he said.

Of course, the 30-episode series would not be complete without an equally interesting female protagonist. Local beauty queen-turned-actress Chris Tong plays Zhuo Hui Qi, a lawyer who is far from your usual cold, expressionless professional who goes by the book. Having been scarred by an unpleasant childhood experience, she is smart and ambitious, yet emotion-driven at times.

It's not Tong's first time donning a lawyer's robe. She played a lawyer opposite MediaCorp leading men Tay Ping Hui and Qi Yuwu in the 2010 drama series The Family Court.

She spoke about her latest role: "She tends to pour a lot of feelings into the cases. At times, her feelings, along with an unpleasant occurrence in her childhood, get in the way of making a sound judgment. She has her blind spots and can be extreme in her approach at times."

The two, who take opposing sides in court, see their private lives intertwined when Hui Qi becomes Jian Zhi's tenant.

They may display unmistakable confidence in the court in the series, but Tong said she tends to forget her lines, which are laden with legal jargon.

"The dialogues were long and we had to film about 20 scenes in a day. At the end of the day, I didn't feel like I'm acting anymore. I felt as if I was a real lawyer," said Tong, adding that her co-star forgot his lines as much as she did.

"It happened all the time. But he worked so hard. Instead of eating with us, he would usually be at one corner memorising his lines," she added.

Chen had been working non-stop throughout the four months of filming and only had 11 days of rest in between. It eventually took a toll on him during the final two weeks.

"It was Chinese New Year. I was diagnosed with dengue fever and ended up having to stay in Kuala Lumpur to undergo blood tests for two weeks," he recalled.

Of course, with a story about two sharply dressed, good-looking lawyers, viewers can expect plenty of on-screen chemistry between the leading stars.

Tong, 29, recalled having to film "a truly embarrassing scene" after they only knew each other for two weeks.

"In the series, Shaun's mother, who is my landlady, tries to get me to move out by putting cockroaches in my room. While we're trying to get away from the pests, I accidentally fell and landed on top of him."

Was it awkward? Well, Tong said she was more distracted by the cockroaches than anything else.

Justice In The City is screened on Ntv7 Mondays to Thursdays at 9.30pm, starting tonight.

The daddy connection

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 02:24 AM PDT

Actor Jason Lee talks about playing a sensitive, down-to-earth single father in Up All Night.

WE all know Jason Lee as the actor who plays the irreverent, thirtysomething criminal who vows to do good deeds and make up for his past offenses in My Name Is Earl.

But the two-time Golden Globe nominee is not about to let the iconic role – or the even more iconic moustache – define his career.

Up All Night, Diva Universal's latest comedy treat, takes a light-hearted look at the ups and downs of parenthood.

In the series, Lee switches things up by playing Kevin, an affable guy-next-door (he literally lives next door from the new parents, Reagan and Chris Brinkley played by Christina Applegate and Will Arnett) who dates the career-minded talk show host Ava Alexander (Maya Rudolph).

Lee talks about his role on the series.

How did your guest spot on Up All Night come about?

They just reached out to me and I got very excited – great cast and great show. Since Memphis Beat got cancelled, and it had been a while since I had done any kind of comedy on television, it was really cool to come back and work on a great show.

What was it like working with the cast of Up All Night?

Fortunately, they're all very cool people, and as a guest star, you hope to just blend right in and have fun and feel comfortable. Everyone else has been totally inviting. There's a lot of improv and goofing off.

I thank them for making me feel right at home.

With Maya, for instance, I think there's great chemistry there. She is very playful.

You have a young daughter. Do you see yourself in Reagan and Chris?

I'm a father twice over. So, yes, absolutely. And it also helps playing a dad on the show because I can relate and identify with that energy of being a father. I hope that translates well. My character's daughter on the show is about 11. So, it's a good fit.

The show is hilarious, and it's been getting so much attention. Was it the chemistry between the actors?

It's definitely the chemistry, and also the amount of talent the actors bring to the table. The writing is really sharp, too. It's got heart. It's accessible. It's not better than thou. It doesn't have that sort of comedy undertone to it. At the end of the day, it relates to people.

How does Kevin compare to Earl?

Kevin is more straight-laced and clean-cut. He doesn't have an awesome moustache, unfortunately. It's definitely funny to see this sweet kind of guy who sort of grounds Maya's character. I like that, I get to be funny and also a bit sweet.

Going from Earl, which was kind of outlandish at times, and certainly a blast to do, it's nice just to see, as an actor, what it feels like to play it straighter.

What drives you as an actor?

Not knowing how something's going to turn out, trying to figure it out, and then seeing if it works. Scene by scene, you're dissecting your every movement with the director and the other actors. Maybe I should enter from this door? Maybe I should say the line like this? How about we tweak this? It's about experimenting and seeing what works. If it does work, you take a little win. If it doesn't, you try to figure out what went wrong. So, it's a constant learning process. – Article courtesy of Diva Universal

Up All Night airs every Monday at 10pm on Diva Universal (Astro Ch 702).

Record breaking drama series

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 02:21 AM PDT

IN a strong start to South Korea's new drama season, Tale Of Arang has been sold to Japan with a record-breaking price that easily surpassed the amount set by this year's biggest hit, Moon Embracing The Sun.

"What I can say is that this is even more surprising than the amazing record set by Moon Embracing The Sun – 100mil won (RM270,000) per episode," a PR official from MBC said, without revealing the actual amount.

Industry watchers assume the Lee Joon-gi and Shin Min-a's starrer could have measured up to 200mil won (RM540,000) per episode, which makes the 20-episode series worth a whopping 4bil won (RM11mil).

Lee is one of the most in demand actors by TV and film producers, as a few of his previous works have been commercially successful in the country and neighbouring Asian countries as well.

His note-worthy works include The King And The Clown (2005), the actor's film Fly, Daddy, Fly (2006), Iljimae (SBS, 2008) and Time Between Dog And Wolf (MBC, 2007). – Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Serena Williams wins U.S. Open women's singles title

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 04:35 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Serena Williams won the U.S. Open women's singles title at Flushing Meadows on Sunday, beating world number one Victoria Azarenka 6-2 2-6 7-5 in a dramatic final to capture her 15th career grand slam title.

Through sheer force of will as much as her unquestionable skill, the American showed all her great fighting qualities to claw her way back from the brink of defeat to become the oldest women's champion at Flushing Meadows in nearly four decades.

Against the odds after losing the first set, Azarenka looked to be on the verge of an unlikely victory when she led 5-3 in the decider.

She got within two points of winning the championship but was unable to prevent Williams reeling off the last four games in a row to seal her fourth U.S. Open title and enhance her status as one of the greatest players the game has seen. - Reuters

Spectacular British sporting summer ends in style

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 05:12 PM PDT

LONDON: The closing ceremony of the most successful Paralympic Games rounded off a spectacular summer of sport in Britain as the Olympic Stadium once again hosted a memorable party for athletes and fans alike on Sunday.

Paralympians rose and joined in with the Mexican waves inside the vast arena in east London after the end of the 11-day festival of sport in which China finished top of the medal table.

The Asian powerhouse bagged 95 golds in their 231-medal haul with Russia (36 golds, 102 overall) and hosts Britain (34 golds, 120 overall) in second and third respectively.

"We've had the most extraordinary summer of sport," London Olympics chairman Sebastian Coe told a news conference on Sunday, while International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Philip Craven could barely believe the amount of coverage.

"I'm floating on cloud nine, sometimes cloud 10 or 11. When you get everything in alignment you get a damn big bang and that's what we've had here."

The London Paralympics sold 2.7 million tickets in total, almost 900,000 more tickets than Beijing four years ago and the unprecedented sales brought in nearly 45 million pounds ($72.12 million), exceeding organisers' original target of 35 million.

The ramped up coverage and interest was felt everywhere, Alan Oliveira's shock defeat of Oscar Pistorius in the 200 metres final even "knocked out" all the football coverage in Brazil, said IPC chief executive Xavi Gonzalez.

Pistorius said after his 400 metre win on Saturday that the Olympics and Paralympics in London had been "the biggest highlight" of his life.

Australia's Evan O'Hanlon, who won the 100 and 200 metres in the T38 class for cerebral palsy sufferers and said having a disability is probably the "best thing" that ever happened to him, was equally overwhelmed.

"You have massive profiles over here. Hopefully London and Britain have set an example and the rest of the world can follow. Thanks to everyone for watching. Even just flicking on the TV is bringing our profile up."- Reuters

Golf: McIlroy rallies to win BMW Championship

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 04:02 PM PDT

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana: Rory McIlroy fired a five-under par 67 on Sunday to win the BMW Championship, holding off an elite field to win a second straight title in the US PGA Tour's playoff series.

McIlroy, who won the Deutsche Bank Championship last week by one stroke, finished with a 20-under par total of 268, two shots in front of Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood.

McIlroy, the world number one who claimed the second major title of his career at the PGA Championship last month, nabbed his fourth US tour title of the season and the sixth of his career.

England's Westwood carded a 3-under 69 at Crooked Stick, while Mickelson posted a 70 for 270.

McIlroy had six birdies on the day, breaking out of a four-way tie for the lead with birdies at nine and 10. Two more birdies at 15 and 16 gave him enough of a cushion to make his bogey at 18 irrelevant.

McIlroy became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win in successive weeks on the US tour and he joined Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win at least six PGA Tour events before his 24th birthday.

Woods, never a serious threat to the lead, finished three off the pace after a 68 for 271. He was tied for fourth with Robert Garrigus (69).

The top 30 players in the playoff standings now advance to the finale, the Tour Championships at Eastlake in Atlanta.

Defending FedEx Cup playoff champion Bill Haas was among those who didn't make it after a round that included a double-bogey and seven bogeys. - AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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Counsel: Bank directors and employees involved in committing fraud should be sent to prison

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 05:51 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Bank directors and employees involved in committing fraud should be sent to prison, according to a UK Queen's Counsel.

"What really frightens people or can induce high standards in individuals is that they may go to prison if they get caught," said Jonathan Hirst.

"If a bank has to pay out a million, it's not their money; it may affect their bonus but not in a big way."

"But if there was a possibility they could end up in the criminal court and face a sentence of several years in prison, that is a much more effective deterrent."

Hirst said there have not been any prosecutions as yet on the scandals involving HSBC and Standard Chartered but the banks had paid out huge regulatory fines out of corporate funds.

He said this in an interview after giving a lecture entitled Fraud by Bankers; Fraud on Bankers The Remedies organised by the Malaysian Inner Temple Alumni Association recently.

Hirst, Master Treasurer of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, a professional society of barristers in England and Wales, has appeared in all the High Court divisions including the House of Lords and Privy Council.

His practice covers general commercial litigation, which includes banking, insurance and reinsurance, shipping, European Union and competition law and arbitration.

Referring to the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) scandal, he noted that people "must have realised something was going wrong with Libor but they didn't do much about it at the time."

Asked who watched the regulators, he replied: "Ultimately, it's the Government's job, isn't it, to make sure the regulators have the powers they need and they exercise them properly.

"But at the moment, I don't think they are doing so," he said, adding that regulators were rather slow to act against banks.

He cited the money laundering regulations in the United Kingdom which "requires you to jump through so many hoops when we know perfectly well there are banks which will find it impossible to refuse money if it comes in large suitcases and in large denominations."

"That appears to be what caught HSBC - in Mexico, the pickings were too good and they couldn't resist helping the cartels.

"As you say, too often the small consumers get hit by these regulations and have their lives made considerably more inconvenient but it doesn't affect the big boys at all."

Earlier in his lecture, Hirst said the perception that bank fraud meant fraud on bankers and not by bankers has changed in the last few years.

He said things seemed to have gone from bad to worse during the world recession, proving the accuracy of Warren Buffett's famous observation: "After all, you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out."

"I am afraid that post Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and the collapse of the Lehman Brothers all that has changed: crookery in BCCI was well known perhaps less well known than that in Lehman - it turned out that client funds, supposed to be segregated and ring-fenced, had been routinely used to support the bank's own trading operations."

Among the more recent scandals, only the former Anglo Irish Bank chairman was charged in July over a fraud inquiry.

In the Libor scandal, Hirst said that Barclays Bank had paid out US$450mil in fines imposed by British and US regulators.

"It is clear that other banks were involved and we can expect regulators on both sides of the Atlantic to inflict further massive financial penalties on the institutions involved."

On Aug 6, the New York State Department of Financial Services threatened to revoke Standard Chartered's banking licence, alleging the bank had "programmatically engaged in deceptive and fraudulent conduct" in order to move at least US$250bil through its New York branch on behalf of Iranian financial institutions.

According to Hirst, although the bank quickly settled a fine of US$340mil to avoid a public enquiry, more fines are likely to be paid as five US regulators have an interest in the case.

While European Commission regulators are working to criminalise manipulation of benchmarks such as Libor and Euribor, Hirst said that Section 2 of the British Fraud Act could be used to bring a charge against fraud there.

A conviction would mean a prison term of not more than 10 years or a fine or both.

However, part of the battle will be over jurisdiction.

Hirst said defendants would be determined to try and have the cases decided in a jurisdiction other than the United States, but the United States is likely to prove tenacious.

The latest banking scandal brewing involves Malaysia. On Aug 31, Huffington Post reported that Switzerland's Attorney-General has opened a criminal case against the Swiss banking group UBS over "suspected money-laundering of timber corruption proceeds" from Sabah.

The next stage of progress in M'sia

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 05:49 PM PDT

KEY new features have been introduced to take us into the next stage of transformation while consolidating achievements made

How time flies! It seems like it was only yesterday when we embarked on the transformation programme but three years have passed rather quickly. Yes, we are pleased with the overall achievement by both the individual NKRAs and collectively, the MKRAs (www.pemandu.gov.my) but there are still lots to do.

That's as it should be because a programme for transformation changes too. It moves with the times and the objectives also change as we achieve some of them and put others on our list. It may be clichd but it is true when we say that change is the only constant.

We started work in 2009 and launched the first transformation programme in January 2010 to cover the years 2010-2012. The new government transformation programme is simply called GTP 2.0 and will cover the years 2013-2015.

A lot of hard work has gone into and is going into the fleshing out of the new programme of transformation. We conducted labs involving 500 people from April-May this year which resulted in eight reports totalling over 4,000 pages, 126 initiatives and 116 proposed key performance indicators.

We have asked the public to give their feedback after making presentations in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching during the recent GTP open days. These and others will be incorporated into the programme roadmap when it is finalised.

Despite some of the nay-saying, our intention is to push on and with the help of the rakyat that means you we hope to do our part to continue bringing meaningful change to our country through the GTP 2.0.

There are three broad thrusts in the second programme. First we continue with the initiatives from the first plan that we still need to achieve and to keep it in place, for example maintenance of rural basic infrastructure already built and measures to fight corruption.

Second, we will expand on the success of initiatives in the first three years, for example in education, there is the Teachers Career Package where teachers will be evaluated with a single evaluation instrument and promoted based on performance instead of time-based. In the rural areas, we have water and electrification projects as part of infrastructure development.

Third, we will come up with new ground-breaking initiatives to take us further such as a 21st century village and an online tracking system for police, using the best available technology to do things better. I will elaborate on these shortly.

These will work within the seven broad areas that have been identified for transformation. They are fighting corruption, reducing crime, reducing poverty, enhancing education, improving rural basic infrastructure, improving urban public transport and monitoring the cost of living.

Exciting things

There are a number of very exciting things being planned. Let me give you a sneak preview of just some of them.

In crime, we are introducing an online system for police report tracking. Everyone can track his or her own report from the report number you are given at the time the report is made. It will be possible for you to track your own report in the system to check on progress. This will also indicate that any report made will be reflected in the system, and hence, will add up to the overall crime statistics. This will in itself reflect the transparency in how the police conducts their processes.

Another example of using technology is the MyDistress app specifically developed for smart phones which brings help for those in emergency situations at the press of a button. This basically uses the smart phone's GPS locator to get the police to your location in your time of need.

This is undergoing tests in Selangor. If you are a Selangor resident or in Selangor a lot, do download the app. It is quite easy to do and very user friendly. Just go to www.mydistress.net to register.

In education, one example is to raise the bar for English teachers and raise proficiency in the language among students. In July 2012, 62,000 English teachers nationwide were tested on their proficiency level and those who do not meet the minimum standard will undergo professional development course conducted by the British Council. We aim to complete this by 2015 with the first 5,000 English teachers starting their course in October 2012.

In the rural development area, we have a new concept called the 21st century village. This is a pilot project to get qualified people to become successful rural-based entrepreneurs. Open to all Malaysian youths, the competition to select the first batch of rural-based entrepreneurs was held in July and saw over 500 entries, out of which 11 winners were selected. Financial assistance will be provided to the winners to carry out their rural-based businesses which in turn will create more job opportunities as well as enhance the rural economy.

Pilot project

Another pilot project is the allocation of up to 35 acres for the development of modern farms. We might build a prefabricated house on the land to save time. The concept is basically integrated farming, including fish culture, chicken and goat rearing and dairy farming in addition to crops. There can be elements of eco tourism too as in farm stays.

The water for the fish ponds can potentially be re-circulated for cultivating high-value agricultural crops such as rock melon through the addition of necessary nutrients. Fertile land can be planted with fruit trees.

We are looking forward to expanding this if the pilot project is successful. This will not only help keep people in rural areas but will also aid the rural folks in terms of food self-sufficiency, raising their incomes and provide rural employment.

In corruption, we have plans to strengthen enforcement, handle the issue of grand corruption and put in place more measures to ensure government procurement is clean and efficient.

All the items in the Auditor-General report will be monitored closely so that remedial actions are implemented. These monitoring reports will be tabled for discussion with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Chief Secretary and the relevant ministries.

Well, these are just some of initiatives being done under the second stage of transformation. A week ago today, I took the oath of office to be sworn in as a senator for a second term. We are pushing forward to ensure that the transformation continues, with more coming up as we go along and you will be kept posted.

  • Datuk Seri Idris Jala is CEO of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department. All fair and reasonable comments are most welcome at idrisjala @ pemandu.gov.my

Difficult oil or new efficient energy pursuit poser

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 05:46 PM PDT

PETROLIAM Nasional Bhd (Petronas), which recorded a weaker financial performance in its second quarter for the financial year 2012, is aiming to substantially beef up its capital expenditure (capex) moving forward.

Its CEO Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abbas and executive vice-president of finance Datuk George Ratilal had repeatedly highlighted in Friday's press conference that this will be the immediate focus for Petronas at least in the coming five years.

Shamsul who appeared sombre in the press conference said Petronas' capex requirements were projected to cost it RM32bil over the next five years. These would be spent on renewing its assets to cope in the new era of "difficult oil" exploration for oil and gas companies (O&G), he said.

"The era of easy oil is over. We are moving into an era of "difficult oil". To develop and produce these difficult oil involves new equipments which are costly. Entitlement in terms of production of (O&G) is going to get less and less. This will have a significant impact on Petronas' profitability," Shamsul said

"Old facilities have got to be replaced these are basically critical types of facilities and equipments. It will grow (lengthen) the life of these facilities but not bring in any profits at all. That's what it is. Towards the end of this year and the next, a lot of our upstream facilities' maintenance schedule have been deferred. This is because we are facing pressure to produce gas, so we have no choice but to defer some of these maintenance work because we were forced to produce gas for the country's requirements," he said.

He notes that due to this, Petronas will need to embark on "maintenance and shutdown programmes" for its asset facilities.

This sentiment is also shared by George who had articulated that Petronas will need to see substantial capex spending moving forward.

"Very soon you will see Petronas hitting the half a trillion ringgit mark in total assets. But the larger the base, the higher risk there is, especially when profits are down," he added.

"We have embarked on some major capex programmes the pipeline of renewals will have an impact and they are not going to bring any additional profit. This is cost, but we need this, otherwise we will not have any revenue in future," he said.

Petronas may need to rethink whether it is economically feasible to continue on the arduous task of exploring difficult oil or whether it should plough a portion of its resources into research and development and to eventually become a producer of new and more efficient energy sources instead.

This is more so as the national oil company is reliant on the fluctuations of oil prices and other factors such as currency movements which are out of its control.

As Shamsul aptly says in his presentation that should oil prices go below US$80 per barrel "it may be difficult for Petronas to continue growing, funding our capex plans and giving the government dividends."

As the national oil company moves into an era of difficult oil, industry trends of late indicate that traditional O&G giants are slowly evolving to become more comprehensive energy companies instead. This is apparent in commercial oil giants such as Shell, ExxonMobil and BP which have over time developed their alternative energy company entities.

On the backdrop of the evolving energy landscape, ExxonMobil had noted in its corporate profile that energy supplies can change dramatically over time considering that 100 years ago, most of the world's energy came from wood and coal.

"Over the next 30 years, advances in technology will continue to remake the world's energy landscape. Fuels will continue to grow less carbon-intensive and more diverse," ExxonMobil says.

Moving forward, it is forthcoming not only for commercially driven O&G entities to be in the learning curve of alternative energy production but also for state-owned giants such as Petronas to eventually step into this elaborate learning curve as well, however steep it may be.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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Names of 3,892 national service evaders given to cops

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 04:41 AM PDT

KOTA BARU: The National Service Training Department (JLKN) has submitted to the police the names of 3,892 errant candidates who had evaded national service (NS) training from 2010.

JLKN director-general Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil said the names were submitted to the police to enable further investigation before any action was taken against the candidates.

"We don't have any choice but to submit the names to the police," he told reporters after launching the movement of NS trainees of Group 3 Series 9/2012 at Mara Poly-Tech here Sunday.

Abdul Hadi said the police would conduct thorough investigation on the candidates before referring their cases to the Attorney-General's Chambers for further action.

"Those who are found guilty will be subjected to not more than 240 hours community service," he said, adding that even though the errant candidates had completed the community service, they would not be exempted from undergoing the NS training. - Bernama

Cops wrapping up 'Janji Demokrasi' probe

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 04:35 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Police are wrapping up investigations into the 'Janji Demokrasi' illegal gathering which was held on the eve of Merdeka.

Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Zainuddin Ahmad said police had finished recording statements from witnesses and organisers of the gathering.

"The investigation papers are being completed and should be handed over to the Atorney Generals Chambers soon," he said when contacted on Sunday.

Meanwhile, police on Sunday questioned Tian Chua, Mohamad Sabu and Hishamuddin Rais about the Janji Demokrasi gathering on the eve of Merdeka day.

Pas Deputy president Mohamad Sabu, Janji Demokrasi co-organiser and Batu MP Tian Chua, who came separately, were seen entering the Dang Wangi police headquarters at around 4pm on Sunday.

On arrival, Tian Chua said he was told that police were calling up activists who attended the gathering on Aug 30.

"I consulted my lawyer and arranged to have my statement taken today to assist police investigations as I attended the gathering," he said adding that he saw nothing wrong with the gathering.

Mohamad Sabu said that police had initially asked him to give a statement on Sept 5 but he rescheduled the meeting today as he was attending several functions here.

"I was questioned regarding the opposition leaders who attended the gathering, who organised the gathering and how many people attended it," he told reporters adding that he did not answer any question.

National laureatte Datuk A. Samad Said and Janji Bersi co-organiser Maria Chin Abdullah were previously called in to have their statements taken Sept 6.

They too chose not to answer any question from police.

Anwar’s bodyguard released after cops record statement

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 04:20 AM PDT

MALACCA: The Malacca police have released a bodyguard of Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after recording his statement for allegedly drawing a pistol and pointing it at the public at a function organised by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in Kampung Baru Rim, Jasin, near here on Saturday.

Malacca Crime Investigation Department head, ACP Raja Shahrom Raja Abdullah, said Sunday the 37-year-old was released at 9pm Saturday at the Jasin police headquarters.

He said the man was detained following five police reports lodged over the incident, which happened between 3.30pm and 4pm.

The man was investigated under Section 506 of the Penal Code for criminal intimidation and was released on police bail after police recorded his statement, he told a media conference at the Malacca police contingent headquarters here Sunday.

Raja Shahrom said preliminary police investigations found that the man had a licence to carry the firearm and based on his statement, he was just doing his job as a personal bodyguard.

However, police would conduct further investigation and would look at the video-recording and pictures taken by members of the public at the scene, he added.

In the 3.15pm incident Saturday, the body guard, who was travelling in a Toyota Camry, got out of the car and drew out his pistol and pointed it at a group of men who were trying to prevent a bus, which Anwar was in, from going to the PKR function.

The action of the bodyguard was witnessed by those at the scene who proceeded to disarm him.

Raja Shahrom said police would also investigate an allegation that the bus was splashed with red paint at the scene. - Bernama

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

As long as they’re read again ...

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 12:32 AM PDT

PUBLISHERS, as you might have noticed, are always publishing new editions of old books (classics?). It's a way of getting their backlists noticed – it attracts faithful fans, as well as new readers, and even those who buy books just for their covers.

When Penguin got Kazuko Nomoto to illustrate Jane Austen's books for their Penguin Red Classics range, I bought the whole set. They remain my favourite covers for Austen (one of my favourite authors) and I'm still looking for the perfect hardback (with jacket) of Persuasion, the Austen title I love best.

I admit I am frequently tempted by new covers and I can imagine how an attractive cover might draw a reader to a book she's never noticed before, or how it might beguile a reader into buying a book that she would not have purchased otherwise.

I also know that people buy books they already own just for their new covers – when I bought the Nomoto Austens, I already owned two full sets of the six books.

And I bought new copies of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy when they were illustrated by Eric Robinson for Yearling – just because I disliked my Del Rey editions with their futuristic-looking depictions of Lyra and Will.

Recently, the 70th anniversary of The Famous Five resulted in new covers (illustrated by famous illustrators like Oliver Jeffers, Quentin Blake and Helen Oxenbury) for the first five books in the series and, while I didn't like all the illustrations, I wanted the books anyway ... because I'm a Famous Five fan.

Now Vintage has launched a Children's Classics series that features (as described on the website) "illustrations, maps, 'backstory' content" and is "beautifully designed throughout".

Well ... I don't have much of an eye for design, but as far as cover illustrations go, I think some of the books are really quite ugly. For instance, the cover for Alice's Adventures In Wonderland features an Alice who looks like she might be a Korean girl band reject (owing to botched reconstructive facial surgery), while Katy Carr, on the cover of What Katy Did, looks a fright and makes me think of Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking, a fictional character I particularly detest.

Some of the illustrations look like the work of amateurs. I feel the Nesbit titles (The Railway Children and Five Children And It) look like they could have been knocked off by any fifth former who's signed up to take Art for SPM, and the colours and textures in the cover for Treasure Island seem influenced by Andy Warhol's pop art posters (I'm not a fan).

There are, however, a few attractive covers in the mix. I do think the two Arthur Ransome titles (Swallows & Amazons and Swallowdale) are a great improvement on the Red Fox editions a few years back.

I also like the dramatic red cover for Ian Serraillier's The Silver Sword, and the grinning wolves against the stark white background on the cover of Joan Aiken's The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase.

Covers aside, I think the books have been packaged to add value for money and with the aim to appeal to teachers and parents. Hence the "backstory" content, which includes author biographies, quizzes, activity guides and fact sheets.

Ah well, if it gets books bought and read, why not? I'm looking forward to seeing what they think of next, and, as always, I'm keeping my eyes peeled for that perfect hardback copy of Persuasion.

By the way, I've just been told that this column turned 10 a couple of days ago, on Sept 7. Blimey! I can't believe it's been that long. Well, Happy 10th Anniversary to Tots to Teens. May we have another 10 years of good books to share and talk about.

> Daphne Lee reads to wonder and wander, be amazed and amused, horrified and heartened and inspired and comforted. She wishes more people will try it too. Send e-mails to star2@thestar.com.my and check out her blog at daphne.blogs.com/books.

Straight from the heart

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 12:31 AM PDT

This is a must-read for anyone who wants to be touched once again by humanity, and for all of us who have inevitably become blinded by economic superiority.

Behind The Beautiful Forevers
Author: Katherine Boo
Publisher: Random House, 288 pages

INDIA will never become the next superpower. At least not for now. If we look beyond the glamorised images of rich Indians globetrotting and corporate buying, and the middle class purchasing fancy cars and gadgets, such a proclamation is not at all derisive.

All one has to do is to take a drive to Annawadi where millions of Indians have built makeshift homes in swampy plugs of cesspools.

Such is the reality, and reality is what Katherine Boo, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, promulgates in this wonderful book, Behind The Beautiful Forevers.

But to report what her eyes see would be to simply give way to glib moral outrage, for after all, what she sees is not what India wants the world to see.

That is why, along the road leading to Mumbai's sleek international airport, there is a high concrete wall covered with advertisements for Italian floor tiles called Beautiful Forever.

Behind that wall, hides Annawadi where Boo spent her four years detailing, recording, scrutinising and witnessing a part of the wretchedness of India.

The title of the book calls to us to look behind the extravagant Beautiful Forevers advertisements and asks us to become voyeurs of misery enumerated at a narrative pace with a novelist's eyes and a reporter's ears.

Boo's cast of characters is original and real. They are subjects of endless interviews and translations. By taking up residency in the slum and by bearing witness to the life of a handful of Annawadians, Boo presents stories that are meaningful, real and honest.

Individually, these stories bear different degrees of heartbreak and absurdity, but together, they share an equally bottomless grief.

Annawadians dump everything into the sewage lake nearby, "most recently, the decomposing carcasses of twelve goats. Whatever was in the soup, the pigs and dog that slept in its shallows emerged with bellies stained blue. Sewage and sickness looked like life".

Across the sewage lake is the Interconti­nental Hotel, its opulence standing in contrast with Annawadi's extreme destitution, as if India has run out of means to hide the disparity between wealth and poverty.

Wealthy Indians accuse slum dwellers of shaming the nation, while slum dwellers complain about obstacles the rich place in their way to prevent them from sharing the new profits.

But these rich-against-poor scuffles (whether verbal or physical) are not a consequence of the nation's new wealth. They are aged and deep-rooted due to myriad factors – the entrenched caste structure, the increasing wealth disparity and corruption.

As one of Boo's subjects puts it most aptly, "We try so many things but the world does not move in our favour."

Among the powerful Indians, distribution of opportunity is typically an insider trade. Without a fair chance to compete, coupled with a criminal justice system that works like a market in which innocence and guilt can be bought and sold, each step forward is possibly followed by a plunge down an entire floor. In the end, it is better to just let go.

So, some Annawadians resolve to hide in their huts where "Hut walls grew green and black with mold, the contents of ten public toilets spewed out onto the maidan (public meeting space), and fungi protruded from feet like tiny sculptures – a special torment to those whose native customs involved toe rings".

In her reporting, Boo finds that young people feel the loss of opportunity most acutely. Children like Abdul, the central character among Boo's subjects, have little power to fight injustice or to act on their own ideals.

By the time they grow up to become men, they may have become the same waste-pickers, wasting away in garbage and dying in the lake contaminated by slime or the bile of corpses and animals carcasses.

Abdul wanted to be ice in Mumbai's dirty water. In the end, he too succumbs to reality and becomes a puddle of dirty water like everyone else.

"I tell Allah I love Him immensely, immensely. But I tell Him I cannot be better, because of how the world is," Abdul mutters in the year he legally turns into a man.

Just as Abdul is not a representation of every underprivileged child in India, Annawadi is not symbolic of the state of poverty in the entire country.

But Boo's revelations – based on interviews, live video recordings, photographs, and counter-checks against public records – illuminates very well the lives of this particular group of poor people, encroached by the nation's feverish desire to achieve modernity and prosperity.

Her exquisite prose, crystal clarity, honesty, passion and talent have made Boo a superb writer, crisscrossing between fiction and nonfiction. In the guise of reportage, she narrates a story, and that story is told straight from her heart.

Boo's flawless work is a must-read for people watching India, for everyone who wants to be once again touched by humanity, and for all of us who have, inevitably, become blinded by economic superiority.

Preserving our stories

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 12:30 AM PDT

A publisher produces a series of books with 'stories about us', stories from the roots of our literary traditions.

SILVERFISH Malaysian Classics is a new series produced by independent Malaysian publisher, Silverfish Books. So far, four titles have been released, namely Marong Mahawangsa, Sejarah Melayu, The Epic Of Bidasari and Malaysian Fables, Folk Tales & Legends.

The books are in English, transcribed (and translated) from Jawi texts, or, in the case of Fables and as described by the book's transcriber and translator Walter Skeat in his introduction, "from the lips of the Malay peasantry".

Because Silverfish did not have to pay for publishing rights for these old stories that are in the public domain, the books are priced most affordably at RM30 each. That's great news for readers who used to have no choice but to fork out RM165 for the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society's (MBRAS) box set of the Malay Annals (Sejarah Melayu).

We learn more about the series from Raman Krishnan, owner of the bookstore and the publishing company.

How did you come up with the idea for Silverfish Malaysian Classics?

I have been interested in history since I was in Standard Four – I had a very good teacher. Later, I became fascinated with the intersection of history and myths. The latter is often dismissed as something untrue while history is all about the truth. Unfortunately, the more history I read, the more untruths I uncover and, conversely, the more myths I read, the more I wonder if some of them are based on truth.

History and myths are like first cousins. Myths feed off history and create stories that people like to hear, and some of them then become irrefutable historical facts even if they're not true. We see this happening all over the world, all the time, often in real time.

Far too many discussions – arguments – in this country take place from positions of total prejudice and ignorance. These are books with some stories about us. Malaysia, the country, is like a tree which has had all its roots cut off, and is currently buttressed by prosthetics. Few seem to remember these stories. These books are tiny bits of root material that have been salvaged in the hope that they will regenerate and create a stronger, more organic foundation, and the basis for more meaningful debates about our culture.

But these books give only us one version. One hopes they will become the catalyst for more discoveries.

The four books that have thus far been published are all translations. Did you consider rewriting the material to make the books more accessible, in terms of language, to modern readers?

Yes, I did consider a re-telling, but decided that it's more important to preserve the primary source (albeit in translation). Others are more than welcome to use them for re-telling and reinterpretation, hopefully from the original Jawi text. All versions are subject to the translators own interpretations and prejudices; hence, the more there are, the better.

There are two English translations of texts from Sejarah Melayu currently available (both are included in the MBRAS box set). Why did you choose Leyden's translation over C.C. Brown's?

I found many omissions in C.C. Brown's. When in doubt or there was contradiction or conflict, he left it out. Whereas Leyden translated everything as it was.

Why did you decide not to provide an index for this book?

We have produced the books as they appeared originally, and the version of Sejarah Melayu we worked on didn't have an index. Our aim is to preserve the original as far as possible – warts and all.

Do the Jawi texts for Bidasari and Marong Mahawangsa still exist? Would you consider publishing a romanised Malay version of these two titles? Would a Malay version be a case of translating the English back into Malay?

I have not seen the Jawi version of either, but I hope that after publications of this series, there will be some interest in retrieving them from a Borgesian cemetery of lost books! As for retranslating them back into Malay, why not? Stranger things have happened.

How important do you think these books are as reference material for those interested in regional literature and history?

These books have been produced with the lay reader and student in mind, considering the dearth of books about classical Malaysian literature and history. Academics could use them as starting points. They'll know what to do after that.

For someone coming to such mat-erial for the first time, which book would you recommend they start with?

Folk Tales is the most accessible. My favourite is Marong Mahawangsa for its Homeric scope – one can almost sense the presence of Odysseus. Bidasari is a charming fairy tale without pretensions or hidden meanings.

The books are numbered on the spine. Was this done as a means of compelling completists to buy the whole series?

The books are aimed at the collector who is also a serious reader, and libraries, universities and colleges. Is it a way of making one buy all the titles? Maybe. Still, I think people are smarter than that. We have also chosen the same black-and-white theme throughout for differentiation, and to make them look handsome on the shelf.

What other titles can we look forward to in this series?

We have a few in mind, but if we come across something more exciting, they could go onto the back burner. So it's better for me not to mention any titles now.

What else can we look forward to from Silverfish Books?

Frankly, I have no idea. I like serendipity. Let's see what comes up. We often surprise ourselves as much as the public.

Do you like the way our local publishing scene is developing? What would you like to see more of in terms of the kinds of books and writing being published?

Our local writers are developing, and that's good. Whether I like it or not, is not important. I'd like to see as many different types of books written and published as possible – both great literature and trash. I believe, going back to the original metaphor of roots, a beautiful tree only grows on manure.

> Silverfish Books is at No. 28-1 Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur (contact: 03-2284 4837 / info@silverfishbooks.com / silverfishbooks.com).

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Soap brand takes their campaign to primary schools

Posted: 08 Sep 2012 04:48 AM PDT

ABOUT 5,000 pupils from nine primary schools in the Klang Valley received hand sanitisers each as a reminder to practise good hygiene at all times.

The initiative was part of Lifebuoy's ongoing hygiene crusade to promote healthier Malaysians via the call of 'Malaysia, Jom Lebih Sihat! (Malaysia Let's Get Healthier!).

The brand's hygiene experts also provided informative hygiene facts and advice, including the proper hand washing technique to the pupils.

Malaysia and Singapore Unilever marketing director Hugo Verkuil said their aim was to remind young Malaysians to keep practising hygienic habits, even if they were on holiday.

"Eventually, we hope the message will remain ingrained in them throughout their lives

"As prevention is always better than cure, a hand sanitiser is ideal to keep you protected and to be used on the go so that you have less to worry about," he said.

With a history dating back to 1894, Lifebuoy soap continues to be widely available and affordable. To-date, the brand has helped more than 1.6 billion people around the world live with greater freedom from health problems.

The brand aims to champion the hygiene crusade to promote a healthier Malaysia via the continuation of its call for Malaysia, Jom Lebih Sihat!.

Saturday events

Posted: 08 Sep 2012 04:44 AM PDT


Mid Valley Megamall is celebrating the Mid Autumn Festival with the annual mooncake promotion. Feel free to sample the entire range beneath branches of bright and colourful lanterns at the East Atrium, Ground Floor of the mall from today until Sept 30. But bear in mind to bring them home while you can — they might run out of stock in seconds as most of these delightful delicacies are exclusive and only sold at the mall.


The National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) is having a talk on 'Childhood Cancers' today from 10am to 1pm at NCSM, No. 66, Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, Kuala Lumpur. The talk, open to all, is especially beneficial for parents of children with cancer. It will cover the facts and figures behind childhood cancers and give support to parents. The talk will be given by Hospital Kuala Lumpur Paediatric Oncologist & Hematologist senior consultant Dr Eni Juraida. Admission is free. For details and registration, call Adeline / Mila at 03-2698 7300 or email adeline@cancer.org or mila@cancer.org.my.


Drop by the Heartronics' booth at The Heart Exhibition 2012 at Mid Valley Megamall Exhibition Centre this weekend and get a free Electrocardiogram taken with EPI Life (only for those aged 45 years old and above), the world's first ECG mobile phone to detect heart abnormalities in minutes. There will also be a talk on detecting heart problems before it's too late, especially if you are a high-risk patient (diabetic, smoker, have high cholesterol and high blood pressure) today at 5.30pm. For more details, call Heartronics at 1300 88 2933 or log on to www.heartronics.com.my or http://health.mylaunchpad.com.my/


If you like the movies by the late advertising creative director turned movie-maker, Yasmin Ahmad, be sure to catch the two-day film festival showcasing all her movies this weekend at Berjaya University College of Hospitality, Level 11, West Wing, Berjaya Times Square (take the west lift). Showing today are Rabun (1pm), Sepet (3pm) and Gubra (5pm), while showing tomorrow are Mukhsin (1pm), Muallaf (3pm) and Talentime (4.30pm). Admission is by a RM20 donation or a day pass. All proceeds will go to Mercy Malaysia.


Be sure to catch a glimpse of Taiwanese heartthrob Yoga Lin, who will be making an appearance at the concourse level of Sungei Wang Plaza today from 8pm to 9pm to promote his concert in March next year. For details, call 03-2148 6109 or visit www.sungeiwang.com or www.facebook.com/sungeiwangplaza.


Tropicana Medical Centre will be organising a free public forum on lung cancer awareness to educate the public on lung cancer symptoms and available treatments today from 10am to 1pm in its auditorium on the seventh floor. The forum will be conducted in English. To register, call 03-6287 1206 (Mei Yee) or 016-211 1362 (Yati) or email: meiyees@tropicanamedicalcentre.com.


The International Psychology Centre is offering a public talk titled 'Anxiety Ruins Your Life. How Can You Prevent That?' today at 10am at the International Psychology Centre, 11-1, Wisma Laxton, Jalan Desa, Kuala Lumpur. The talk is recommended for those who wish to understand what anxiety is, why it happens and how to prevent it and lead happier lives. For enquiries, call 03-7982 4424.


Do your bit for charity and help the less fortunate. Shelter Home for Children is organising a bazaar / jumble sale as part of its fundraising initiatives. It will be held today from 9am to 1pm, at No. 4, Jalan Tinggi 6/12, Petaling Jaya. Those who have good, reusable items to donate can drop them off at the above address, or contact Roland / Edwin at 03-7955 0663 or email shelter@po.jaring.my


A Photograph Exhibition for Charity 2012 will be held from today until Oct 7 at Rose Hall, Global Business & Convention Centre, Level 3, No. 8, Jalan 19/1, Section 19, Petaling Jaya. Opening hours are from 9am to 6pm, Mondays to Saturdays (except public holidays). For details, call 03-7960 6118.


Come attend a Dhamma talk by Ven Dr M. Seelawimala Thero of the USA titled 'Roadmap to Heaven and Beyond' tomorrow at 10am, at the Buddhist Maha Vihara Brickfields. For details, visit www.buddhistmahavihara.com or call the Vihara Office at 03-22741141, or email: rogleestar@gmail.com.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The big sleep

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 12:49 AM PDT

Martin Vengadesan takes leave, not just of his senses, but of a decade-long column.

AND so another chapter closes ...

In over 250 columns over the past 10 years, I have gotten up on this print soapbox every alternate Sunday and strutted my stuff. Not quite the way I pictured it as a teen, when delusions of grandeur saw me imagining myself declining Grammy awards on account of the United States' imperialist policies. But one way or another, music has always been a huge part of my life and always will be.

If you've spent any time at all perusing this column, you'll note that I've been obsessed with music for as long as I can remember. Not just the music, but the people behind it and the stories they had to tell, and the methods of transporting it to me beyond space and time, creating a sort of immortal connection.

And yes, I've been a snob. Miles Davis' Miles In The Sky, Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven, those are true works of art in a way that the Thong Song or Gangnam Style will never be.

Thanks to what already seems like an overlong career as a music journalist, I've been lucky enough to meet many of my musical idols. I've chatted with Jimi Hendrix's sister Janie and B.B. King, been thanked by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover. Passed some recordings to Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. Fell on the floor dramatically when I got an email from Uriah Heep's keyboardist Ken Hensley, and I'll never quite forget hanging out of a minibus in Kampung Pandan minutes after a surreal half an hour with Carlos Santana. Along the way, I also got scolded by Phil Collins and Richard Marx.

It's been painful to watch many of my idols ride off into the sunset. The last 10 years have seen us lose global figures like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, as well as a host of fellows I used to pretend to be, like Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord, hard rock god Ronnie James Dio and the Pink Floyd duo of Richard Wright and Syd Barrett. Somehow, their music made their lives so immediate to me. I still remember picking up the paper as a seven-year-old and reading about John Lennon's death. I may not have understood it, but I never forgot that it was Mark David Chapman who killed him for no good reason at all.

I remember when I first mooted the idea of this column, my boss (now The Star's Managing Editor) June Wong, asked me if I was sure I had enough material to maintain a column over an extended period of time. So, I had to deliver the first three to convince her and kicked off in Sept 8, 2002 with an article about the damaged genius Roky Erickson, following it with pieces about the mystery death song Gloomy Sunday and the eccentric Screaming Lord Sutch.

Since then, the column has survived a number of changes ... "moving house" from StarMag to Variety and then to Star2 on Sunday. It seems like much more has changed than just the location of the column. The music business today is unrecognisable. After the models of the gramophone, LP, reel, cartridge, cassette and CDs, it's moved on to digitised versions on iPods and ringtones.

There was no Youtube, no wikipedia when I started this column. When I was getting heavily into music culture, I had to compile scrapbooks or articles and reviews (thanks, by the way, to our great journalists R.S. Murthi and Sujesh Pavithran). Even liner notes were to be hungrily devoured, as were random titbits the deejays used to throw our way. Often, it would take me many years to track down a single song or album. Nowadays, an obscure artist's entire discography is readily available for download, along with tons of information. That's not a bad thing at all, for music and knowledge are meant to be shared, not hoarded.

I, too, have evolved (more like devolved really) over the years. A simple glance at my byline photo will tell you I've been losing hair and gaining weight with cruel inevitability. I can't remember the last time I dreamt of being a rock star myself.

It would be nice to believe I have always held you in thrall, but I can't escape the feeling that the quality of my average column has declined over the last 24 months. It seems like I've shared so much that I've been running out of things to say of late. I know I keep repeating myself and more than once, I've enthusiastically commenced a column only to come to a grinding halt upon discovering that I wrote about the same damned thing three years earlier!

Many people have been gracious enough to write in and tell me how much they enjoy what I do. And thanks to this, I've realised that the vast majority of my readers are males in the 50-65 age group. I've joked often enough about trying to attract a younger and somewhat more female audience, but seriously, I'd like to thank everyone who got something out of these rambles.

For my part I'd like to thank anyone who ever introduced me to music. Friends, band members, strangers, uncles and cousins, and most of all, my father, Datuk R. Vengadesan, who not only introduced me to artistes from John Denver to ABBA, but also spent quite a bit of cash financing my "habit" back in the 1980s.

Music is the soundtrack to my life, so much more than a hobby. It's been more like a driving force and the most earnest form of communication I've known in a world full of lies.

After a decade, I do feel a bit worn out, and for now, I think I've said my piece ... but don't you believe it!

> For 10 years, music lover and history buff Martin Vengadesan combined his two passions in this fortnightly column.

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