Selasa, 18 September 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Top Colombian drug lord captured in Venezuela

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 09:14 PM PDT

BOGOTA (Reuters) - One of Colombia's most wanted drug traffickers was captured in neighbouring Venezuela on Tuesday with the help of Caracas as well as British and U.S. intelligence agencies, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said.

Alleged Colombian drug trafficker Daniel Barrera, known as "Loco Barrera", is seen in this handout photo provided by the national police on September 18, 2012. Barrera was arrested on September 18, 2012 by Venezuelan authorities in a street of San Cristobal, in Venezuela, President Juan Manuel Santos said. REUTERS/National Police Press/Handout

Alleged Colombian drug trafficker Daniel Barrera, known as "Loco Barrera", is seen in this handout photo provided by the national police on September 18, 2012. Barrera was arrested on September 18, 2012 by Venezuelan authorities in a street of San Cristobal, in Venezuela, President Juan Manuel Santos said. REUTERS/National Police Press/Handout

Authorities in Colombia, one of the world's top cocaine producers, had been closing in on Daniel Barrera - known as "Crazy Barrera" - in recent weeks, arresting 36 members of his gang and seizing five tonnes of the drug and 21 aircraft.

"Crazy Barrera has been perhaps the most wanted kingpin in recent times," Santos said. "He has dedicated 20 years to doing bad things to Colombia and the world, all types of crime, perverse alliances with paramilitaries, with the FARC (rebel group)."

In a televised speech, Colombia's president said Barrera was captured in the Venezuelan city of San Cristobal, about 15 miles (24 kms) from the Colombian border. Santos said the operation was directed from Washington by a Colombian police general.

The government says Barrera's smuggling ring was capable of sending 10 tonnes of cocaine a month to Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, the most powerful organized crime gang in the Americas.

He had a $5 million bounty on his head from the United States and $2.7 million from the Colombian government.

Santos thanked U.S. and British intelligence agencies as well as Venezuela President Hugo Chavez's government for their help. He did not give any more details about the operation.

Chavez's government summoned reporters to a news conference early on Wednesday but also issued a brief statement hailing the operation as further proof of Venezuela's "indomitable will" in the fight against drug trafficking.

"(Venezuela) ratifies its determination to continue with a sovereign policy in this battle, whose results can be seen by the international community," the Foreign Ministry said.

The Venezuelan government's statement did not mention the involvement of U.S., British or Colombian agents, saying Barrera was captured by Venezuelan forces led by the Interior Ministry's National Anti-Drugs Office.

The participation of foreign counter-narcotics agents would be something of a surprise, although far from impossible, given Chavez's frequent verbal attacks on the role of Western "imperialist" governments in Latin America.

He expelled U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials from Venezuela in 2005 after accusing them of spying, but says that his government has greatly increased its number of arrests of traffickers and its seizures of drugs since then.

Santos has forged a friendship with the socialist leader since Colombia's president took power in 2010. He has touted previous arrests of other Colombian traffickers in Venezuela as proof that he and Chavez's ideologically opposed governments are united against organized crime.

Santos risks the ire of his Venezuelan counterpart on Wednesday, however, when he is due to meet Henrique Capriles, Chavez's election rival ahead of Venezuela's October 7 election, in Bogota.

Santos' economic policies have won Colombia investment grade status from the three leading rating agencies but the achievements have been tarnished by a recent increase in violence by leftist rebels, including attacks on oil companies.

Drug-funded criminal gangs composed of members of former right-wing paramilitary groups and old cartels have also become a big security threat for the nation of 46 million people.

While bloodshed from Colombia's long guerrilla and drug wars has dropped since a U.S.-backed offensive began more than a decade ago, bombings, murders and combat continue, mainly in border areas.

The decline in violence has attracted billions of dollars in foreign investment, mainly in oil and mining, which has let the country boost crude and coal output to historic highs. (Additional reporting by Monica Garcia and Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota and Daniel Wallis in Caracas; Editing by Bill Trott)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Japan cabinet approves plan to exit nuclear energy

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 09:10 PM PDT

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's cabinet has approved a new energy plan to cut the country's reliance on nuclear power in the wake of last year's Fukushima disaster, but dropped a reference to meet a nuclear- free target by the 2030s, ministers said on Wednesday.

Since the plan was announced on Friday, Japan's powerful industry lobbies have urged the government rethink the nuclear-free commitment, arguing it could damage the economy and would mean spending more on pricey fuel imports.

Trade Minister Yukio Edano, who also oversees the energy portfolio, said the cabinet had approved the new energy plan.

"But whether we can become nuclear free by the 2030s is not something to be achieved only with a decision by policy makers. It also depends on the will of (electricity) users, technological innovation and the environment for energy internationally in the next decade or two," he said.

In abandoning atomic power, Japan aims to triple the share of renewable power to 30 percent of its energy mix by the 2030s, but will remain a top importer of oil, coal and gas for the foreseeable future.

Finance Minister Jun Azumi told a separate news conference that there needed to be flexibility in the policy to avoid putting a burden on the public in a country where nuclear supplied 30 percent of electricity before Fukushima.

All but two of Japan's nuclear 50 reactors are idled for safety checks after an earthquake and tsunami in March 2 011 devastated the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Under the new energy plan, there should be strict implementation of a 40-year lifetime for reactors. It also said existing reactors shut after Fukushima should be restarted only if a new nuclear regulator confirms their safety and there should be no construction of new reactors.

The newly established Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) will decide whether reactors currently under construction are safe enough to start commercial operations, Edano said.

Asked if newly built reactors could run beyond the 2030s, Edano said a decision on this would be decided later.

Reactors currently under construction include the 1,373-megawatt Shimane No.3 unit of Chugoku Electric Power Co's and the 1,383-megawatt Ohma unit of Electric Power Development Co's. (Reporting by Risa Maeda and Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Ed Davies)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Japan declares U.S. Osprey safe, to fly in Japan by October

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 08:58 PM PDT

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan has given the controversial MV-22 Osprey aircraft the green light to fly over the country from next month after tests found the American hybrid plane safe despite a number of crashes.

The United States had been seeking to deploy the tilt-rotor aircraft -- which takes off like a helicopter but flies like a plane -- to the southern Japanese island of Okinawa despite strong public opposition largely on safety grounds after it crashed twice earlier this year.

Final results of crash investigations have confirmed that the helicopter-plane is safe and the United States will begin deployment at some point in October, Japanese Defence Minister Satoshi Morimoto said on Wednesday.

"We have confirmed that the two accidents were caused by human factors and not by the aircrafts' systemic problems or by technical problems," he said, addressing reporters together with Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba.

"We have confirmed the safety for the Osprey to operate, and on the premise that there will be maximum consideration provided for the public, we have decided to allow the United States to start operating the Osprey."

The Pentagon welcomed Tokyo's decision as a sign of the strength of the U.S.-Japanese partnership.

"It is a testament to the strength and maturity of our alliance, which remains the cornerstone for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," spokesman George Little said in a statement.

The Osprey crash in Morocco in April killed two U.S. Marines, while the one in Florida in June left five injured. Thirty people, including 26 Marines, were killed in test flights or training accidents from 1991 through 2000 during the aircraft's development.

The first 12 MV-22s arrived by ship on July 23 at Iwakuni, the only U.S. Marine Corps station on the main Japanese islands. The Defense Department ultimately plans to base them at Futenma, a Marine Corps Air Station on Okinawa. They were grounded for the time of the investigation.

The Osprey is key to a U.S. force realignment in the Asia-Pacific region that has become a centrepiece of President Barack Obama's foreign policy since January.

"With twice the speed, three times the payload, and four times the range, the Osprey will make a major contribution in upgrading the capabilities of the alliance," Little said.

The aircraft is built by Bell Helicopter Textron and Boeing Co. It will replace the 40-year-old CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Additional reporting by David Alexander in Beijing; Writing by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Little to laugh about

Posted: 19 Sep 2012 05:29 AM PDT

The latest sitcom from Ricky Gervais is in danger of falling short of being funny.

THE brains behind TV series such as The Office and Extras are back and this time, it is very apparent that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are trying extremely hard to be funny.

The duo's latest TV offering, Life's Too Short, may just be one of those "sitcoms with lots of potential to become a major hit" to reach the small screen in recent years. However, it also dangerously borders on falling into the "it-didn't-work-because-Gervais-got-too-big-for-his-own-shoes" pile.

There is a very thin line that separates these categories and it is up to Gervais and his long-time comedic partner Merchant to make sure that they pull the show and its audience in the right direction.

Life's Too Short is a faux documentary starring Warwick Davis who plays a fictionalised version of himself – a little person down on his luck, trying to claw his way back into the limelight in the entertainment scene.

Davis fancies himself as Britain's go-to little person and desperately tries to maintain his talent agency for little people in showbiz – Dwarves For Hire – as well as his spot as vice chairman of a society for small people in England.

In Davis' twisted little mind, he is just as famous as any other A-list actor although he often has to remind his "fans" that he appeared in several movies such as Willow, played an Ewok in Star Wars Return Of The Jedi and was Professor Flitwick in the Harry Potter films. In reality, however, nobody remembers his small parts in those big-budget movies and almost everyone he comes across has never heard of Ron Howard's Willow.

But that doesn't stop Davis from trying to revive his fading career or even win over his estranged wife's affections, who may very well be having an affair with their divorce attorney. He believes that one way to jump-start his career is by seeking advice from his old pals Gervais and Merchant (who play themselves), and pestering them to use their A-list celebrity connections to aid his dwindling career.

What he doesn't seem to realise is that Gervais and Merchant would rather he didn't bug them (they moved the intercom button on their office building a few feet higher so that Davis couldn't reach it) and don't want to be associated with his act at all.

The faux documentary primarily follows Davis around (but who wants a documentary of his life is a question yet to be answered) as he tries to book gigs, struggle with several daily tasks due to his stature, win back his wife's attention and suffer from foot-in-mouth disease.

It is extremely disappointing to note that Life's Too Short is not as funny as it could and should be. That is very puzzling, considering the fact that Gervais basically copied the format for The Office (which was a super-hit across the globe) and British humour works well almost every time (the keyword being almost).

I think that it is because as funny as Davis is ... he is just not relatable. There are only so many little people jokes they can make based on him and sometimes, they are not even that funny. Getting locked in a bathroom because the handle is too high for him to reach and resorting to taking off his pants so that he could beat it on the window to get the attention of the people outside? Yeah, I stopped laughing two seconds into it.

One of the best characters who needs more airtime on the show is Davis' personal assistant Cheryl (played by Rosamund Hanson). She is just so precious in this series and is in fact one of the reasons I'll actually watch the rest of the episodes. Cheryl has some of the best lines and her unreadable expressions are so hilarious that you can just laugh by looking at her face.

As in their previous show Extras, Gervais and Merchant also rope in A-listers to make cameo appearances in Life's Too Short. In episode one, we see super-serious actor Liam Neeson pitching his idea of doing comedy with Gervais and Merchant, and in subsequent episodes, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter are the guest stars.

While these fine actors prove to be great additions to the show, it is still weird to see them "play themselves" and do and say things that you somehow feel do not portray the real them.

I was cringing at the scene in which Bonham-Carter humiliated Davis and remembered thinking: "How is this even funny?"

However, despite all the show's shortcomings, Life's Too Short has the makings of a great hit. All Gervais and Merchant have to do is come up with a better storyline for Davis – because right now he just seems to waltz through the series aimlessly – and utilise their main actor to his highest potential.

Life's Too Short is funny at times, but if Gervais and Merchant are not careful, their latest attempt at comedy might just fall short of being funny.

Catch Life's Too Short every Monday at 10pm on HBO (Astro Ch 411) and HBO HD (Astro Ch 431).

Happy winners

Posted: 19 Sep 2012 05:29 AM PDT

The on-going Sure Can Win contest is cause for celebration for Red FM listeners.

KHONG Yee Yen, known to her friends as YY, moved to Kuala Lumpur two years ago to further her studies. While away from family and everything familiar, YY has made some really close friends whom she considers confidants. These friends introduced her to Red FM. According to them, the music was good and since they have never steered her wrong, she decided to check out the radio station to see what all the fuss was about.

"I was on my way to work and the traffic was horrendous so I tuned in to Red FM to get into a better mood. As I was listening to Jeremy, he announced my profile for Red FM's Sure Can Win. The announcement came blaring through my speakers, 'if you're a 20-year-old student from Penang call now and win RM200'.

"I screamed, 'that's me, that's me!'. I quickly composed myself and called in, Jeremy took my call and I won the cash."

When asked what was she going to do with the money, she quickly replied: "I am going to save it! I am a student now, but I am about to venture into the working world and I will need all the extra cash I can get. I have five more months before I graduate. Who knows what the future will have in store for me."

Maryann Vargis' story is nothing like YY's, but she too was surprised at how easy it was to win on Red FM's Sure Can Win.

"I remember winning it like it happened yesterday. It was mid-morning when Jeremy announced that the profile Red FM's Sure Can Win was a 30-year-old housewife and I just couldn't believe my ears. I fit that profile perfectly, so I grabbed the phone and dialled as quickly as I could. I got through, answered a simple question and won RM250, just like that! But I have to confess that this is not the first time our family has won on Red FM.

"For Red FM's Runaway DJ campaign, (a previous contest on the radio station) my husband Soo Ravivarmah managed to track Fiqrie and won as well."

For Maryann, Red FM has been a key player in her family's celebrations and she is grateful. "Last year, we used our winnings to celebrate our son's first birthday and this time we are using the money to celebrate our son's second birthday. I guess my little Soo Rashvin has Red FM to thank for all his birthday parties.

"I still can't believe how easy it is to win, I am definitely going to keep taking part in these radio contests, it's so much fun and so easy to win!"

She explained that her ex-colleagues got her hooked on Red FM. "I definitely have my wonderful friends to thank for introducing me to this radio station," said Maryann, who has been listening to Red FM for more than three years now and she said there is no other radio station that can come close to it.

Tiong, another winner on Jeremy's show, admitted that prior to winning he didn't even listen to Red FM. "My friend Annie is a big fan and she has been listening to Red FM for years. She loves the music played. She even forced me to like the Red FM Malaysia Facebook page," Ting quipped.

"One day, Annie called me in a huff and told me to call Red FM to win cash. I was like ... how? She explained and I called. The profile was for a man born in the 1970s in Kelantan. I called in and all Jeremy asked was what is Kelantan famous for? Since I am from Machang, I told him about the Machang fishball noodle and he told me I have won. It was that easy. I just couldn't believe it.

"Now, Red FM is my favourite station, I listen to it all the time. Sarimah and Lil' Kev of the Red Breakfast, make me laugh out loud. I can't believe that all this time Annie was right and I was missing out simply because I was just too stubborn to listen to her. I am definitely going to listen to her more often now."

When asked what he was going to do with the cash, Tiong replied: "I am going to spend it on milk powder for my 16-month-old son!"

Red FM's Sure Can Win has brightened so many people's lives and has been a part of so many people's stories. The easiest radio contest is on till Sept 28. You could be walking away with cash just for being you.

For more information, log on to Join the Red FM Malaysia Facebook fan page on and follow us on Twitter @iloveredfm. Red FM is operated by The Star.

Red FM's Station Frequencies: Taiping, Kedah, Perlis and Pulau Langkawi: 98.1FM; George Town and Seberang Prai: 107.6FM; Ipoh, Perak: 106.4FM; Klang Valley, Negri Sembilan and Tapah: 104.9FM; Kuantan, Pahang: 91.6FM; Batu Pahat and Malacca: 98.9FM; Johor Baru and Singapore: 92.8FM.


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

BAM all set to appoint head honcho at today’s exco meeting

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 05:43 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian badminton will finally have its supremo.

Whether this national coaching director, or chief coach, is given the full power to run the programme will only be known at the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) exco meeting, headed by Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara today.

BAM are expected to unveil a 12-year plan to be headed by one person.

The programme will cater to three categories – singles (elite and 2016), doubles (elite and 2016) and the 2020 squad comprising those 17 years and below.

Each squad will have their own chief coach who will report to the supremo.

Those in the running for the hot seat are Kwan Yoke Meng (former national coach), Wong Ah Jit (National Sports Institute officer), Cheah Soon Kit (former coach), Yap Kim Hock (former chief coach) and even Park Joo-bong of South Korea.

Yoke Meng seems to be the frontrunner but a closed door meeting between Joo-bong and a Malaysian official at the ongoing Japan Open in Tokyo could result in the Korean coming onboard.

The likely candidates to head the singles, doubles and the Under-17 (BJSS) squads are Rashid Sidek, Tan Kim Her and Zhou Kejian respectively.

Many former shuttlers have called for BAM to name a coaching director to steer the team towards a set target.

They felt that Malaysian badminton has been like a headless chicken without a strategist to call the shots.

In China, Li Yongbo is the brains behind the team's massive success while Japan and Indonesia bank on the experiences of Joo-bong and Christian Hadinata respectively.

BAM should know by now that naming a reliable candidate for the job alone is not enough.

The supremo should be given the full mandate and support to carry out his plans.

Malaysia's previous head honchos – Morten Frost of Denmark, Kim Hock and Joo-bong – did not have much say in decision-making as the management team meddled in everything – even on technical matters.

The new supremo should be answerable only to the coaching and training committee and be accountable for the progress of the players and coaches.

This person should be given certain targets to achieve over a period of time.

It must be a result-oriented position and he should go if he fails to deliver.

But he must be given a free-hand to do his job.

Some of the former greats, however, say strengthening the centralised programme alone is not enough.

Many want BAM to channel their energy and funds to decentralised programmes and give states more prominence in grooming young talents.

They believe that a solid programme should be established at state level.

The exco will decide today whether to pump in millions for the states' development programme, knowing it is high time for them to find replacements for Lee Chong Wei, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and talent for the women's teams.

Otherwise, they can forget about even qualifying for the next Olympic Games in Rio.

Wei Feng and Daren must prove critics wrong

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 04:39 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: All eyes will be on Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng when the first round of the men's singles event of the Japan Open begins tomorrow.

While world No. 2 Lee Chong Wei is expected to rule the roost in the absence of China's shuttlers, his younger compatriots know they have a lot to prove.

The tournament will be a litmus test for Daren and Wei Feng to justify their continued presence in the national setup after numerous failed launches.

Both face tough first-round matches and will not have coach Tey Seu Bock, who is ill, with them.

World No. 27 Daren suffered from nerves and made an early exit in the first round of last week's China Masters at the hands of India's Sourabh Varma.

Jitters should not be a problem for Daren this time although he will have to contend with another Indian – B. Sai Praneeth – in the first round.

If India's impressive performance in Changzhou is anything to go by, Daren, 26, faces a tricky tie against the 20-year-old from Hyderabad.

"I don't really know this player and I haven't seen his game before. But I'm taking the match very seriously as it is always hard playing against underdogs or someone I've never faced before," said Daren, who hopes to reach the quarter-finals in Tokyo.

A win will pit him against Vietnam's eighth seed Nguyen Tien Minh in the second round with second seed Dane Peter-Gade Christensen his possible opponent in the quarter-finals.

The unseeded Wei Feng is poised to set up an all-Malaysian affair in the quarter-finals. The 25-year-old is set to face Chong Wei in the round of eight should he overcome Japanese fifth seed Kenichi Tago and possibly Ajay Jayaram of India in the first and second rounds respectively.

In the men's doubles, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong will be playing with a new sense of vigour as they look to end their partnership on a high with a Super Series title in Tokyo.

Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying look to be best prospects for the mixed doubles title.

Koo-Tan birthday wish: Keep us together

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 05:41 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Top men's doubles shuttlers Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong celebrated their birthdays in Japan yesterday and they had the same wish – to remain partners at least until next year's World Championships.

Kien Keat and Boon Heong took some time off from training to cut a cake in Tokyo – on the eve of the Japan Open – as team-mates and team manager David Wee looked on. The duo share the same birth day and have been celebrating the occasion together for the last seven years.

Kien Keat turned 27 and Boon Heong 25 yesterday.

"Koo and Tan look very motivated. We celebrated their birthdays together with women's coach Woon Sze Mei as it was her birthday too. The team are in high spirits," said David in a telephone interview.

"I can see Koo and Tan sticking together for a longer time. They have a good chance here after the re-draw following the withdrawal of the players from China. I'm hoping that they'll reach the final."

The duo's wish to remain together, however, may not materialise if the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) exco have their way.

The exco, headed by Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, will decide today whether to split them or keep them together.

The council members are said to be not too happy with the duo's recent form.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong, former Asian Games gold medallists and All-England champions, have been struggling over the last two years.

The final straw was at last year's World Championships in Wembley when they went down with a whimper to South Koreans Ko Sung-hyun-Yoo Yeon-seong.

They dropped their coach Rexy Mainaky and pleaded for another shot under Pang Cheh Chang.

They showed some improvement but failed to make an impression at the London Olympics, losing in the bronze medal playoff against another Korean pair – Chung Jae-sung-Lee Yong-dae.

Many feel that Kien Keat-Boon Heong have reached a plateau and that it would be best for BAM to focus on the back-up shuttlers.

Even BAM president Nadzmi feels that Kien Keat-Boon Heong should be split and teamed up with younger partners.

If BAM do break them up, this would be the last time they celebrated birthdays together as a pair.

In the Japan Open, the second-seeded duo are in the same half with three other seeds – Japan's Naoki Kawamae-Shoji Sato (5th), Japan's Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata (4th) and compatriots Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong (8th).


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

AirAsia wants Govt to allocate more funds to DCA

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 06:28 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government should allocate more funds for the Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia (DCA) in Budget 2013 in line with its efforts to transform Malaysia into a tourism hub in Asean.

AirAsia chief executive officer Aireen Omar said with air travel becoming a very crucial driver of the country's tourism, more funds for DCA would boost the department's capabilities in handling Malaysia's growing air traffic.

"Airlines from Malaysia, including AirAsia, bring a lot of traffic to the region and the country," she told Bernama in an interview.

Prime Minister cum Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is scheduled to table Budget 2013 on Sept 28.

Aireen said AirAsia's pilots were having difficulties with air traffic control at Malaysian airports, and the issue was persistent with the ever increasing flight movements at the airports during peak periods.

She added that the Government should consider introducing a system to monitor the landing period of planes according to airlines to prevent delays, like what was practised in Singapore, Indonesia and the Phillippines.

"Maybe through the system, we can ensure a smooth and efficient aviation industry," she said.

Malaysia registered 24.7 million tourist arrivals last year with about RM58.3bil in receipts.

For the first six months of 2012, a total of 11.6 million tourists visited Malaysia, registering growth of 2.4% compared with the same period last year.

Total tourism receipts for the first half of this year also rose, generating RM26.8bil in revenue, up 4% over the same period in 2011. Bernama

57 projects being considered for facilitation fund

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 06:26 PM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Fifty-seven projects are being negotiated for allocations from the Public Private Partnership Unit, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said yesterday.

The projects from various sectors, including tourism, commercial and mixed development, were expected to generate RM51.5bil worth of economic spin-offs, he told Bernama after the signing of an agreement for a facilitation fund for MAHSA University College.

He said that 17 projects worth RM1.6bil have received the facilitation fund so far.

The projects had created RM16.4bil worth of economic activities, he said. The unit was evaluating another 61 projects.

"If all the projects are approved, it will entail a cumulative RM6.6bil allocation," added Nor Mohamed, who is in-charge of the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister's Department.

The Government established a RM20bil Facilitation Fund under the 10th Malaysia Plan as the "tipping point" for the Public Private Partnership Unit to help finance private sector projects. Bernama

Plaza Premium plans to operate 100 lounges worldwide by year-end

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 06:24 PM PDT

SEPANG: Hong Kong-based airport pay-in lounge service provider, Plaza Premium Lounge Management Ltd, which operates 91 lounges, targets to operate 100 lounges worldwide by year-end.

Plaza Premium Lounge founder and chief executive officer Song Hoi See said the company would set up new lounges in Macau, Uganda, Vancouver and Edmonton in Canada this year.

In Malaysia, the network should be ready by the second quarter of 2013, including six lounges to be opened in Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, he said after the opening of the Plaza Premium Lounge at the KL International Airport (KLIA) yesterday.

A total of RM3.8mil was invested in the lounge covering 7,500 sq ft.

Customers are charged RM128 for two hours or RM168 for five hours to enjoy facilities including shower rooms, a massage area, buffet and a business centre. The lounge can serve up to 500 guests per day, said Song, who is a Malaysian entrepreneur based in Hong Kong.

It targets 85% of flight passengers who travelled by economy class as they do not have access to lounge services unlike business or first class travellers.

Plaza Premium Lounge is also bidding to set up a lounge in KLIA 2 which is expected to be operational in May 2013.

Besides airports in Malaysia, it has also partnered with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) to set up lounges in New Delhi, India where MAHB has a stake in the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

MAHB managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad said the services provided by Plaza Premium Lounge bode well with KLIA's aim to offer first-class travelling experience.

He also commended Plaza Premium Lounge for being a pioneer in setting up commercial lounges to serve passengers from different airlines.

"These are the kind of partners that MAHB would really like to have... Partners who can join hands with us to serve the needs of the passengers and the airlines," he said.

Meanwhile, MAHB senior general manager (commercial services) Faizah Khairuddin said that the KLIA main terminal targeted 7% to 8% year-on-year growth in terms of the number of passengers served in 2012.

She added that the rate should be higher in the second half compared with the first half in the aviation industry.


The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Foetus found dumped at KLIA quarters

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 08:05 AM PDT

NILAI: A three-month-old foetus was found dumped at a staircase in Block C of the KLIA quarters near here Tuesday.

Nilai police chief Supt Mohd Yusof Awang said the foetus, which was found by residents about 8.30am, was sent to the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital in Seremban.

He urged those with information to contact the Nilai police headquarters hotline at 06-7583222 or the nearest police station. - Bernama

Ngeh draws flak with remarks over anti-Islam film

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 07:16 AM PDT

IPOH: Perak DAP chairman Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham has drawn flak for a tweet on Muslim opposition to the "Innocence of Muslims" film which insulted Prophet Muhammad and Islam.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir described Ngeh's remark on his Twitter account as provocative.

The Perak 4B Youth Movement has lodged a police report against the DAP leader.

Ngeh had tweeted that "Khairy wants muslim protest against Sam Bacile. For islam or for his political gains? Are muslims wasting too much time and energy on this?" in reference to Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin's statement.

Zambry said that although Ngeh had asked questions instead of making statements, the remark disappointed all Muslims.

"He should have shared the feelings of Muslims following the production of the film because every religion had its concept of prophethood.

"No one would want their prophet to be subjected to all kinds of accusations," he told reporters after a Meet-the-Clients Day, here.

Zambry said Ngeh should be careful when issuing statements.

"I know he (Ngeh) will respond by saying that he did not make statements but asked questions, but his remark is very provocative," he said.

He said Ngeh was a Christian and he knew that Christians had also condemned the production of the film.

He said that even the cast of the film had said they felt cheated and misled by the producer.

Meanwhile, the Perak 4B Youth Movement lodged a police report against Ngeh at the Sungai Senam police station here at about 3.30 pm today. An executive committee member, Muhamad Iqbal Jamal Jamaludin, said Ngeh had ridiculed Muslims. BERNAMA

Road closures for Pudu Sentral in conjunction with UTC opening ceremony

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 06:58 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Part of Jalan Pudu and Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock here will be closed from 12 midnight on Thursday to 6 am Monday to accommodate preparations for the official launching of the Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) at Pudu Sentral.

According to the Finance Ministry statement Tuesday, the main stage and canopies for guests would be set up in the area for the scheduled opening ceremony by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, this Saturday.

Several other roads would also be closed in stages between 9 am and 3 pm on the same day, said the statement.

They include Jalan Pudu/Jalan Imbi, Jalan Pudu/Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan Pudu/Jalan Galloway, Jalan Pudu/Jalan Robertson, Jalan Pudu/Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock/Jalan Petaling, Jalan Tun Perak/Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Raja Chulan/Jalan Ampang, Jalan Tun Perak/Jalan Tun H.S Lee, Jalan Tun Perak/Jalan Leboh Ampang and Jalan Sultan/Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin.

UTC is a one stop centre introduced to ease the urban public's access to services offered by the Government and the private sector agencies and non-governmental organisations.

The first centre was opened in Melaka in June.

Pudu Sentral will be the second. - Bernama


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Nasty bites

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 03:44 AM PDT

It's shark week with a difference ... in the 3D feature, Bait.

IMAGINE not one, but two disasters occuring within the span of one day. In the film Bait, that is exactly the situation a couple of characters find themselves in.

Shoppers at an underground supermarket are minding their own business – well, except for Josh who still looks longingly at his ex-fiancee Tina whenever they meet – when the town is hit by a tsunami. The water is then trapped in the basement along with hungry sharks, brought there by the huge waves.

But that's not all. The tsunami comes just as the supermarket is held up by a couple of guys with guns. Working together so the thugs make it out alive as well is not up for discussion, is it?

This Australian 3D film directed by Kimble Rendall, features quite a large cast, including Xavier Samuel (Sanctuary, A Few Best Men, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse), Julian McMahon (Fire With Fire, Fantastic Four) and Sharni Vinson (You're Next, Blue Crush 2, Step Up 3D), Phoebe Tonkin (Secret Circle, Tomorrow When The War Began), Lincoln Lewis (Underbelly, Tomorrow When The War Began) and Singaporean stars Qi Yuwu (The Home Song Stories, Founding Of A Party) and Adrian Pang (Holiday, I Do I Do). Bait was developed by Russell Mulcahy and Gary Hamilton as a shark movie with a high concept. Their pitching sale was simply, "Sharks in the mall."

In the production notes provided by RAM Entertainment, producer Chris Brown said: "When somebody says that, what else can you say really? Except, I've got to make this movie. It's a brilliant high concept idea. I've always wanted to make a shark attack movie. We all grew up with Jaws, which is such an iconic film. To make a shark movie that takes on Jaws was a dream come true."

His co-producer Todd Fellman also said: "It was not your standard horror script with thinly drawn characters and a one-note storyline, it was about survival and human nature, about a group of people that is randomly brought together in one of the most horrific experiences imaginable and we watch their relationships develop and deteriorate. It's quite a roller coaster ride."

Speaking of Jaws, Bait comes at a perfect time since Jaws is making its Blu-ray rounds right now, featuring awesome digital restoration of the man-eater. Both make for a great reminder that this sea creature is not to be trifled with, and is best left alone. To maximise the scares, Rendall went with the fury of the great white shark and sharks that were as long as tiger Sharks. Several mechanical models were designed to create different effects and for different angle shots. One thing all these robotic sharks had to have was to look bloody real.

To gain the fluid organic movement, the team led by Grant Lehman, the animatronics supervisor, developed it further for six months.

Fellman shared: "By the end of it, we had a fully articulated swimming shark that could move itself through the water, to the point where our underwater cinematographer got down to look through the lens and jumped back in fright on the first day of shooting.

"The shark could lunge out of the water and snap its jaws. Its eyes rolled back and the gills moved. It was definitely delivering a performance equal to any of the cast members.

"The shark with the ramming head was incredible in its versatility of movements and the speed at which it could move underwater."

Completing the mechanical sharks is the digital technology. Director Rendall, however, knew that it's ultimately the characters that define what the audience is feeling.

Here to ground the emotion is the main character Josh (Samuel) who has to save the day. Samuel commented: "Julian McMahon's character is quite an imposing figure ... (but his character's) morality is in question. So that is the point when Josh steps up and tries to redeem himself in a way. But, it's a group effort, everyone's kind of involved in figuring out how to get out of here."

Actor Lewis added: "It wasn't really that hard to get into character because the shark looked the real deal as did the set, just unbelievable, and there were bodies everywhere and fake blood all in the water ... you could really feel that you were there." – Mumtaj Begum

Bait (3D and 2D) gnashes its way into cinemas starting Thursday.

'Resident Evil: Retribution' powers to top in N. America

Posted: 17 Sep 2012 11:14 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Sci-fi action-thriller Resident Evil: Retribution topped the North American weekend box office, holding off the 3D version of Finding Nemo, final figures showed Monday.

Both films were making their debut but the former, starring Milla Jovovich, took US$21.1mil in receipts, ahead of animated feature Finding Nemo, which earned US$16.7mil, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

Last week's number one, The Possession, a supernatural thriller starring Kyra Sedgwick, was knocked into third, well off the pace with just US$5.8mil in weekend receipts.

Depression-era gangster tale Lawless fell from second place last week to fourth earning US$4.3mil.

Action romp The Expendables 2, starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, continued its drop, finishing fifth on US$3.14mil.

ParaNorman, an animated movie about a boy who can speak to the dead, moved down to the sixth spot, earning US$3.09mil.

The Words, a literary drama about an author who earns fame by stealing another writer's work, was in seventh place, with US$2.86mil in sales, just ahead of thriller The Bourne Legacy which earned US$2.85mil.

In ninth place, quirky fantasy-comedy The Odd Life of Timothy Green brought in US$2.6mil.

And rounding out the top 10 was political spoof The Campaign, starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, which took in US$2.4mil. - AFP


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China's emerging writers find outlet in fiction and short stories

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 08:21 AM PDT

Internet fiction and short stories provide a platform for China's emerging writers to make an impression outside the country.

A POTENT mix of state censorship, conservative publishing choices and scant translation means international readers are given a narrow view of contemporary China, industry critics say.

There are the occasional books by Chinese authors that hit the international bestseller lists such as the blockbuster Wild Swans by Jung Chang, which has sold millions worldwide, and Adeline Yen Mah's Falling Leaves. But both of those authors are based in the West – highlighting the paucity of material from China itself that reaches international markets.

Hong-Kong based Harvey Thomlinson founded Make-Do Publishing in 2009 to produce quality Chinese and Asian literature in English translation, capitalising on Hong Kong's unique position as a multicultural Chinese territory, where freedom of speech laws remain intact.

"You can't underestimate censorship and the impact it has had on the quality of China's literary output," he said.

Chinese fiction also tends to follow a template, according to the British publisher, ignoring the realities of industrialised, modern China, which continues to grow and change at a bewildering pace.

Western imprints pick out only a few genres for translation such as the Cultural Revolution memoir, along with novels by Westernised Chinese authors, who often write originally in English. And economic factors also play a major part in the drive to boost sales.

"Most books have to turn a profit for publishers and this can make editors and their boards quite conservative about their choices," said London-based author and translator Julia Lovell.

"It means they need to look for commercial themes, or books that seem to recapitulate styles and ideas that have worked in the past. Anything new or very literary will, of course, seem a risk."

As well as being an easier sell in the West, such books are also less of a risk for the writers, who are reluctant to tackle current social issues for fear of official repercussions.

In China's big state-run publishing houses "editing is not a profession any more", said Martin Merz, a Hong Kong-based translator. "Now it's more about avoiding political errors."

Make-Do focuses instead on independent authors such as Murong Xuecun and Chen Xiwo, who tend to offer something different from the many government-backed writers in China, who receive stipends and other incentives to encourage them to stay on-side.

Murong's debut book, Leave Me Alone: A Novel Of Chengdu was first published online in 2002, where it attracted several million readers before being released in print. The novel tells the darkly comic story of three young men's attempts to make their way in newly capitalist China, their lives beset by dead-end jobs and gambling debts.

Chen, who was active in the student democracy movements of the 1980s, was also first recognised as an online writer. His controversial novella I Love My Mum, which has incest as a theme and is banned in China, will be published in the United States this month.

Internet fiction and short stories are two increasingly important platforms for emerging young writers in China.

Lovell, who teaches modern Chinese history and literature at Birkbeck College, University of London, said Internet fiction was "enormously popular".

The most prolific Internet writers produce up to 10,000 words a day and Lovell said "fast, cheap, popular genres dominate" online.

The trend has broadened the range of Chinese writing, making it easier for already established authors such as Mo Yan and Yu Hua to deal with issues like sex and drugs more directly than they had done before.

The Internet fiction phenomenon in the country was the result of "a perfect storm of historical and cultural factors coming together at the end of the 1990s", said Thomlinson.

But even with these factors, it is difficult to make an impression outside China. Just 2%-3% of books published annually in Britain and the United States are translations – although their share is slightly higher in non-Anglophone countries such as France and Germany. To grasp the new spirit of China, international readers should turn to short stories, Lovell said.

"Most people have by now woken up to the idea that the politics and economy of China are worth understanding. But familiarity with Chinese culture (especially literature) still lags behind economic and political interest in the country."

However, China's many literary magazines mostly carry short stories and some, such as the recently launched Pathlight and Chutzpah, are published at least partly in English translation.

They showcase young, contemporary Chinese writers who, Lovell said, have "strongly individualistic, personal" approaches and "a determination to illuminate the intense strangeness of the capitalist society that the Chinese Communist party is now building". – AFP

American author Strayed's trek of discovery

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 08:12 AM PDT

But first, she had to lose herself on a solo trek up a trail.

THE idea of a beautiful blonde woman determined to hike over ice, rock and snow for more than 1,000 miles sounds like something you'd only see in movies starring Angelina Jolie. But American author Cheryl Strayed, while certainly good-looking, is no fictional character, and that is exactly what she attempted to do at age 26.

It was the year 1995, four years after her mother's death when Strayed's life began to unravel. Unable to cope with life without her mother, who had been the nucleus of her family, Strayed and her siblings soon scattered, while her own marriage disintegrated from her growing sex addiction. Strayed's life was, to say the least, crumbling into pieces.

In between waiting tables and making out with strangers, Strayed finally decided there was nothing left to lose and made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State, and to do it alone in an effort to rediscover herself.

The only problem? Strayed had no experience as a long-distance hiker. In fact, she'd never even gone backpacking prior to her first night on the trail. Her trek was little more than "an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise," but it was a promise of putting back together a life that had come undone.

Her travel memoir, Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail encapsulates the experience in raw, palpable and often in-your-face verses. Along her journey, Strayed encounters rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls.

Told with great suspense and style, Strayed, who had been just a paper short of finishing her undergraduate degree at the time of the hike, effectively intermingles horror and loneliness, and above all, beauty to an almost comical effect.

The travel memoir vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of a young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened and ultimately healed her. And it is with unbridled furore and brutal honesty that Strayed recounts her struggles and misdeeds along the trail – from her blackened toenails that were fast coming apart to the sexual encounters with the men she meets.

Underlying the grit and grime is a true survivor's tale. For Strayed, losing her mum, who had been a single parent and sole breadwinner of the family, had meant losing the world that she had known.

Strayed's mother was herself a survivor of spousal abuse. By 19, she was pregnant and had married Strayed's father. "Three days later, he knocked her around the room," Strayed writes in the memoir.

"He broke her nose. He broke her dishes. He skinned her knees dragging her down a sidewalk in broad daylight by her hair. But he didn't break her. By 28, she managed to leave him for the last time."

Strayed and her siblings were raised in Minnesota, a Midwestern state in the United States that is best known for its trees and lakes, and had led a spartan lifestyle growing up.

It was spring time when her "vegetarian-ish, garlic-eating, natural-remedy-using nonsmoker" mother died suddenly of lung cancer at the age of 45, a little less than two months after she was diagnosed.

Strayed has described this loss as her "genesis story". To date, she has written about her mother's death and her debilitating grief in each of her books and several of her essays.

Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail is no different. Much of the memoir is dedicated to her late mother; in tribute to her love, as well as Strayed's love for her mother.

"The amount that she loved us was beyond her reach. It could not be quantified or contained.

"It was the ten thousand named things in the Tao Te Ching's universe and then ten thousand more," she writes.

Cohesively, the travel memoir chronicles the trials and tribulations that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe and in the process, put her together again.

Strayed has since graduated and now holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota. She is also a founding member of VIDA: Women In Literary Arts, and serves on their board of directors.

Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail, now a New York Times best-seller will be published in Brazil, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden, Israel, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Denmark, France, Norway and Italy.

To top that up, the travel memoir also made Oprah Winfrey's list as the first selection of the all-new Oprah's Book Club 2.0 in June.

Strayed currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, filmmaker Brian Lindstrom, and their two children.

To learn more about the author, log on to

Ex-Navy SEAL's account of Osama's last moments

Posted: 17 Sep 2012 04:17 PM PDT

A former US Navy SEAL gives a gripping account of the last moments of America's most wanted terrorist.

WHEN US Navy SEALs gunned down Osama bin Laden in his bedroom, it was up to one commando to take photos that would serve as proof of the al-Qaeda leader's bloody demise.

"I started to wipe the blood away from his face using a blanket from the bed. With each swipe, the face became more familiar. He looked younger than I expected.

"His beard was dark, like it had been dyed," the former Navy SEAL, Matt Bissonnette, recalls in his new book, No Easy Day.

His eyewitness account of the raid, which was released on Sept 4, has angered senior officers and drawn a warning of potential legal action from the Pentagon, which says the author revealed classified information.

As for the book, it is a gripping read, even if it often resorts to the macho cliches typical of the genre.

His account also conveys how "Operation Neptune Spear" was fraught with risk and uncertainty, with troops flying deep inside Pakistan without Islamabad's knowledge. But in the end, the raid was all over in a matter of minutes, with no gun battle and little drama.

After an unarmed Osama was shot in the head and then pumped full of bullets, it fell to Bissonnette to take the only photos of the al-Qaeda chief after his death.

"It was strange to see such an infamous face up close. Lying in front of me as the reason we had been fighting for the last decade.

"It was surreal, trying to clean blood off the most wanted man in the world so that I could shoot his photo." After taking pictures of Osama's full body – the images were never released – the commando kneeled down with his camera to capture the man's face.

"Pulling his beard to the right and then the left, I shot several profile pictures. I really wanted to focus on the nose. Because the beard was so dark, the profile shot was the one that really stood out in my mind," he said.

At one point he asks a favour from his fellow commando: "Hey, man, hold his good eye open." To confirm Osama's identity, the SEALs try to get someone in the compound to identify the tall man lying in a pool of blood. A woman refuses, but a girl tells the commandos what they had hoped.

"The girl didn't know to lie," he writes.

Although packed with intriguing anecdotes, the book offers no major revelations that change the fundamental version of events, despite the author's vow to set the record straight. About half of the 313-page book does not even touch on the raid in Abbottabad, barely a few hours' drive from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Instead, the former SEAL describes his upbringing in Alaska where he learned to hunt as a boy, the gruelling training that preceded his joining the elite SEAL "Team Six", other raids in Iraq and Afghanistan and the successful rescue of an American captured by Somali pirates.

He complains that in Afghanistan, the special forces' night-time raids were increasingly hampered by what he deemed bureaucratic red tape.

"It took pages of PowerPoint slides to get a mission approved. Lawyers and staff officers pored over the details on each page, making sure our plan was acceptable to the Afghan government," he wrote.

"Policy-makers were asking us to ignore all of the lessons we had learned, especially the lessons in blood, for political solutions."

In the Osama operation, he describes searching the al-Qaeda leader's bedroom, finding hair dye but no stockpile of bullets.

Above the bedroom door, he finds two guns, "which turned out to be an AK-47 and a Makarov pistol in a holster".

"They were both empty. He hadn't even prepared a defence. He had no intention of fighting," he says, expressing disgust for a man who appears to have relied on others to wage his extremist battles.

He then discovers why Osama's beard was not grey – as intelligence analysts had predicted – finding a bottle of "Just for Men" hair dye in the bathroom. On the flight out of Pakistan, the author focuses on how the crash of one of two helicopters in the operation could have caused havoc with the mission.

"Just more than an hour ago, I thought we were all going to die in a helicopter crash. It was funny, the crash stuck with me a lot longer than getting shot at through the door."

He credits the pilot with a skilful crash landing, but he worries that the team had to leave before their job was finished, having had to rush out without fully searching the compound.

"Part of me felt like we had failed despite the body at my feet," he writes, referring to Osama's corpse on the floor of the chopper.

"We weren't able to get as much intelligence as we could have. We left drawers unopened." – AFP


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Turf club honours nation’s top shuttler

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 07:01 AM PDT

TWO-time Olympic Games men's singles badminton silver medallist Datuk Lee Chong Wei brought joy to spectators on a different turf.

In his rare appearance as a special guest on race day at the Selangor Turf Club recently, the illustrious national shuttler presented his autographed posters during a brief meet-the-fans session as a prelude to the Datuk Lee Chong Wei trophy.

The highly anticipated feature race, offering RM75,000 and decided over the 1,800m distance, was hosted in recognition of the shuttler's outstanding exploits on court in vying honours for the country at the international level.

Besides acknowledging the local badminton followers for providing the unconditional morale boost and throwing the support behind him in his competitive career thus far during the pre-race interview, Chong Wei opted for Money Is King as his preferred winner of the race because he has been developing an affectionate link with the number 6.

"There is no prize for guessing here. Horse number six is my pick because six is closely associated with the registration numbers for my cars," said Chong Wei.

Despite showing the early brilliance leading the charge in the race comprising a total of 10 starters, Money Is King ran out of steam in the closing stages to finish fifth.

Pre-race favourite Alacarte trained by Richard Lines produced a superior finishing to emerge as the convincing winner with a healthy one-and-a-quarter length advantage over punters' choice Ocean Fantasy.

The victorious jockey Jackson Low said it was another thrilling moment to claim the victory as Alacarte gave everything in the final push on the home straight to finish ahead of the pack while Lines gave credit to Jackson for displaying his experience in pulling off the victory.

"We entrusted Jackson with the task because he has the knowledge in handling the horse. It is great to be winning the trophy named after a high achieving Malaysian athlete," said Lines.

In contrast, it was a tight photo finish for second, third and fourth.

Totorsa came in third, trailing behind Ocean Fantasy by a short head but took a neck lead in front of fourth-placed Volpista.

OCM awards for five

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 07:01 AM PDT

DATUK Suraya Yaccob's contribution to Malaysian netball was recognised when the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) presented her with the OCM-Women and Sports Award recently.

Suraya, a lawyer by profession, played an active role in the junior development programmes in Kedah.

After moving up the ranks to become the president of the Malaysia Netball Association, Suraya was responsible in Malaysia emerging as the champions in the Asian Junior Netball championships in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Under her leadership, Malaysia were ranked 22nd in the World Netball championship in 2011.

Suraya said she was happy to be given the award which was an appreciation for her services to netball.

"The award is not only for me but for all netball officials and players,'' said Suraya.

The OCM Women and Sport committee, headed by vice-president Datuk Low Beng Choo, also presented former international squash player Sharon Wee with the Women and Sport Grassroots Development award.

Sharon has been actively involved in squash since she was 13, for almost 20 years, until her retirement in 2010. She was the national women's squad's captain for eight years and also has a Level Three coaching certificate. Currently she is active in coaching as well as conducting clinics for juniors.

Sharon, who currently works as a sports commentator with Astro, said the award was a motivation for her.

Associate professor S. Vijaya-letchumi was awarded the OCM Women and Sport Veteran Development while diver Pandalela Rinong's parents — Pamg Joheng and Hartini Lamim — were presented with the OCM Partnership Award.

The awards were presented by Tan Sri Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah.


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