Jumaat, 21 September 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Party invite on Facebook sparks melee in Dutch town

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 08:47 PM PDT

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Riot police broke up crowds of youths who turned violent in a Dutch town late on Friday after several thousand people descended on the community following an invitation to a birthday party posted on Facebook, Dutch media reported.

Media reports said six people were hurt, including three seriously, after disturbances broke out in the northern Dutch town of Haren. Reports said shops were vandalized and looted, a car set on fire, and street signs and lampposts damaged before police broke up the crowds.

Up to 600 riot police were on the scene during the disturbances, according to one media report. There were at least 20 arrests, media said.

Some 30,000 people received the invitation from a girl announcing her 16th birthday party on Facebook, according to media reports. The party was intended to be a small-scale celebration, but the girl did not set her Facebook event to private and the invitation went viral.

Reports said up to 3,000 people showed up in the town of 18,000.

Haren had been bracing for the event for most of the week.

(Reporting by Roberta B. Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Libyan Islamist militia swept out of Benghazi bases

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 07:53 PM PDT

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - A Libyan Islamist militia was swept out of the eastern city of Benghazi in a popular protest against the armed groups that ran into the early hours of Saturday morning, Reuters witnesses said.

Demonstrators celebrate after burning a car they say was full of ammunition as they stormed the headquarters of the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia militia group in Benghazi September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Demonstrators celebrate after burning a car they say was full of ammunition as they stormed the headquarters of the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia militia group in Benghazi September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

At least one person was killed and 20 wounded, a hospital source said, as militias tried to fight the demonstrators from a heavily fortified base. Gunfire could be heard in the area before the fighters were forced out.

Looters carried weapons out of the vacated Ansar al-Sharia military base compound as men clapped and chanted: "Say to Ansar al-Sharia, Benghazi will be your inferno."

Ansar al-Sharia has been linked to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last week in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans died. It denies involvement.

The action against the group appeared to be part of a coordinated sweep of militia headquarters buildings by police, government troops and activists following a mass public demonstration against militia units on Friday.

Chanting "Libya, Libya," hundreds of demonstrators entered, pulling down militia flags and torching a vehicle inside Ansar al-Sharia's headquarters in Benghazi - once the base of forces of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, which tried to put down the first protests that sparked last year's uprising.

The crowd waved swords and even a meat cleaver, crying "No more al Qaeda!" and "The blood we shed for freedom shall not go in vain!"

"After what happened at the American consulate, the people of Benghazi had enough of the extremists," demonstrator Hassan Ahmed said. "They did not give allegiance to the army. So the people broke in and they fled."

"This place is like the Bastille. This is where Gaddafi controlled Libya from, and then Ansar al-Sharia took it over. This is a turning point for the people of Benghazi."

Adusalam al-Tarhouni, a government worker, who arrived with the first wave of protesters, said several pickup trucks with the group's fighters had initially confronted the protesters and opened fire. Two protesters were shot in the leg, he said.

"After that they got into their trucks and drove away," he said, adding protesters had freed four prisoners found inside.

As protesters left Ansar al-Sharia's headquarters, the crowd swelled, reaching thousands as it headed toward its military base, which was shared with another militia group.

Protesters said the militiamen opened fire as they arrived and several people were wounded.

"We came as peaceful protesters. When we got there they started shooting at us," student Sanad al-Barani said. "Five people were wounded beside me. They used 14.5 calibre machine guns."

After the crowd entered that compound, Libyan army trucks sped away from the base carrying government troops cheering in victory and crying out, "God is greatest."

Vigilantes armed with machetes and clubs blocked the highway leading away from the compound, stopping cars to prevent looters from driving off with heavy weapons.

"We went into the camp and we didn't find anyone. We just took these Kalashnikovs," said one youth, holding rifles.

The demonstrators also took over a compound belonging to the Abu Slim brigade and another Ansar al-Sharia compound.


Thousands of Libyans had marched in Benghazi on Friday in support of democracy and against the Islamist militias that Washington blames for the assault on its consulate. Hundreds of Ansar al-Sharia supporters held their own protest.

Friday's "Rescue Benghazi day" demonstration called for the government to disband armed groups that have refused to give up their weapons since the NATO-backed revolution last year.

"It's obvious that this protest is against the militias. All of them should join the army or security forces as individuals, not as groups," student Ahmed Sanallah said. "Without that there will be no prosperity and no success for the new Libya."

Although the main demands of the marchers did not mention the attack on the U.S. consulate, it seems to have provided a strong impetus for the authorities to rally support behind the country's weak government.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was well liked, and many Libyans condemned the attack on the consulate despite being angered by the anti-Islamic U.S.-made film that triggered it.

Some protesters' placards read: "We demand justice for Stevens" and "Libya lost a friend." Others had mixed views.

"I am out today to defend Benghazi. Killing the ambassador is a completely separate thing," said 26-year-old Amjad Mohammed Hassan, a network engineer. "I don't give a damn about the killing of the ambassador because the Americans offended the Prophet. I am just here for Benghazi."

Benghazi, 1,000 km (600 miles) from Tripoli across largely empty desert, is controlled by various armed groups, including some comprised of Islamists who openly proclaim their hostility to democratic government and the West.

Some are identified by local people as being among those who were at the consulate protest last week. U.S. officials have described the violence as a "terrorist attack."

Abu Al-Qaa, a demonstrator at the Ansar al-Sharia demonstration, said Stevens had been "preparing for the entry of American troops into Libya."

"The will of the Prophet was to expel infidels from Muslim lands so that Muslims prevail. Terrorizing your enemy is one of Islam's tenets." He said he had fought U.S. troops in Iraq where he was arrested, sent back to Libya and jailed for three years.

One banner at the Ansar al-Sharia demonstration read: "Day to rescue Benghazi or day to rescue America?"

(Additional reporting by Omar al-Mosmary and Mohammed Al-Tommy; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Related Stories:
One killed, 20 wounded in Benghazi standoff - hospital source

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Police break up disturbances in Dutch town after party invite on Facebook

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 07:00 PM PDT

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Riot police broke up crowds of youths who turned violent in a Dutch town late on Friday after several thousand people descended on the community following an invitation to a birthday party posted on Facebook, Dutch media reported.

Media reports said six people were hurt, including three seriously, after disturbances broke out in the northern Dutch town of Haren. Reports said shops were vandalized and looted, a car set on fire, and street signs and lampposts damaged before police broke up the crowds. There were 20 arrests, according to reports.

Dutch media said 30,000 people received the invitation from a girl announcing her 16th birthday party on Facebook. The party was intended to be a small-scale celebration, but the girl did not set her Facebook event to private and the invitation went viral.

Reports said up to 3,000 people showed up in the town of 18,000.

Haren had been bracing for the event for most of the week.

(Reporting by Roberta B. Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Four-try Toulouse end crisis talk

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 05:00 PM PDT

PARIS:Nineteen-time French champions Toulouse ruthlessly crushed talk of crisis at the heavyweight club by handing out a four-try, bonus-point 35-6 mauling of Bayonne on Friday.

Former All Black Luke McAlister finished the match with 20 points as the defending champions, and four-time European Cup winners, moved into second spot in the Top 14 table.

Toulon, who have the only perfect record in the division with five wins in five matches, lead the way, two points in front of Toulouse, ahead of their match on Saturday against Castres.

"We needed to rediscover our passion. This is sport, we are not working in a factory," said Toulouse manager Guy Noves.

"This was a good Toulouse performance at a level where we should be at this stage of the season and with the European Cup starting in a few weeks."

Last week's 34-20 loss against Perpignan was Toulouse's second in five games, but they were untroubled against Bayonne.

Fijian winger Timoci Matanavou scored the opening try of the game after 16 minutes following good work by centre Florian Fritz and Romain Millo-Chluski after Bayonne had lost possession.

French international flanker Yannick Nyanga added a second try, five minutes after the interval with winger Vincent Clerc creating the opportunity.

McAlister converted to add to his three first half-penalties.

Replacement flanker Jean Bouilhou added the third try in the 71st minute before McAlister grabbed the fourth, shrugging off the challenge of compatriot Joe Rokocoko, in the dying moments.

Fly-half Benjamin Boyet kicked Bayonne's only points with two first-half penalties.

"We were eaten up," said Boyet. "We didn't know how to rival Toulouse physically and we spent all the second period in their territory. Courage is not enough." - AFP

Golf: Furyk grabs lead at PGA Tour Championship

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 04:44 PM PDT

ATLANTA, Georgia: Jim Furyk, seeking a second playoff crown and Tour Championship title in three years, birdied seven of the first 10 holes on Friday to grab the lead after two rounds of the $8 million PGA event.

The 42-year-old American, who has not won since capturing this crown in 2010, fired a six-under par 64 to stand on seven-under 133 after 36 holes in the 30-man showdown to determine the US PGA season playoff champion.

Fuyrk led by one stroke over England's Justin Rose with Americans Bubba Watson and Bo Van Pelt two off the pace and Americans Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar three shots adrift.

Former World No. 1 and 14-time major champion Tiger Woods, who shared the lead with Rose after the first round, fired a 73 to stand on 139 after the second round.

Furyk, who failed to qualify for last year's playoff finale, opened the front and back nines with birdies and sizzled in between, sinking three birdies in a row starting at the par-4 third and adding two more at the par-4 seventh and par-5 ninth.

Furyk struggled into the clubhouse with bogeys at the 13th, par-5 16th and par-3 18th while mixing in birdies at the par-5 15th and par-4 17th to keep himself atop the leaderboard.

Every man in the field has a chance to claim the $10 million playoff crown and some can do it without winning the tournament title depending on where other players finish.

Based on current placings, Furyk would finish second to World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who won two prior playoff series events as well as his second major title at last month's PGA Championship.

Northern Irishman McIlroy, one of five players who can take the playoff crown with a victory no matter where anyone else finishes, fired a 68 to stand in a share of seventh on 137 with Americans Zach Johnson and Robert Garrigus.

McIlroy birdied the par-3 sixth, took a bogey at the par-4 14th but answered with an eagle at the par-5 15th.

Woods, also among the five who can win the bonus by winning the event, began with a bogey, responded with a birdie at the third then sandwiched birdies at the seventh and ninth around a double bogey at the par-4 eighth.

After bogeys at the 11th and 12th, Woods birdied the 13th but stumbled again with bogeys at 16 and 17. Watson, the reigning Masters champion, and Rose, who shared the lead with Woods after day one, made back-nine charges after so-so starts.

Rose sandwiched bogeys at the sixth and eighth around a birdie at the seventh, then fired back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12 and added another at the par-5 15th, then answered a bogey at 17 with a closing birdie.

Watson went birdie-bogey to begin his round, then began the back nine with a birdie and added another at the 13th and back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17.

Van Pelt had back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth holes, then back-to-back bogeys at the fifth and sixth. He charged with four birdies in a row starting on the par-4 eighth but stumbled with bogeys at 15, 16 and 18 with only a birdie at the 17th to avoid a worse fall from Furyk's heels. - AFP

Scores on Friday after the second round of the $8 million US PGA Tour Championship (par-70, USA unless noted):

133 - Jim Furyk 69-64

134 - Justin Rose (ENG) 66-68

135 - Bubba Watson 69-66, Bo Van Pelt 67-68

136 - Dustin Johnson 69-67, Matt Kuchar 67-69

137 - Rory McIlroy (NIR) 69-68, Robert Garrigus 68-69, Zach Johnson 68-69

138 - Carl Pettersen (SWE) 71-67, Brandt Snedeker 68-70

139 - Rickie Fowler 71-68, Webb Simpson 71-68, Ryan Moore 69-70, Tiger Woods 66-73

140 - Luke Donald (ENG) 71-69, John Senden (AUS) 72-68, Jason Dufner 70-70, Phil Mickelson 69-71, Steve Stricker 67-73, Scott Piercy 67-73

141 - Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 70-71, Hunter Mahan 68-73, Adam Scott (AUS) 68-73

142 - Sergio Garcia (ESP) 69-73

143 - Keegan Bradley 70-73

144 - John Huh 74-70

145 - Lee Westwood (ENG) 72-73

147 - Ernie Els (RSA) 72-75

149 - Nick Watney 75-74 - AFP

Thien How and Wee Kiong upset world No. 12 pair to reach semis

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 04:26 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: It was a sad day for Japan's chief coach Park Joo-bong as his top two pairs were made to eat humble pie by Malaysians in the quarter-finals of the Japan Open in Tokyo yesterday.

Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong pulled the rug from under World No. 12 Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata with a 21-19, 21-11 win to set up a semi-final date with their more illustrious compatriots Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong.

Second seeds Kien Keat-Boon Heong continued their winning streak against Naoki Kawamae-Shoji Sato with a 21-10, 17-21, 21-10 victory. It was their fifth win over the World No. 13 Japanese pair.

As for Thien How-Wee Kiong, it will be their first appearance in the semi-finals of the Super Series after crashing out in the last-eight stage of four previous legs on the circuit.

The win over Hashimoto-Hirata was their third big scalp since the Malaysians' partnership was forged at the Denmark Open last year. At that tourney, Thien How-Wee Kiong stunned China's Guo Zhengdong-Chai Biao before upsetting Indonesians Mohd Ahsan-Bona Septano at the Indonesian Open this year.

Today, Thien How-Wee Kiong, ranked world No. 29, will be highly motivated to overcome Kien Keat-Boon Heong, who are eyeing their first Super Series title in two years. The other semi-final will be between South Koreans Kim Ki-jung-Kim Sang-rang and Japan's Hiroyuki Saeki-Ryota Taohata.

There was another blow for Japan in the mixed doubles when top seeds Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying laboured to a 21-18, 28-26 win over Kenichi Hayakawa-Misaki Matsutomo.

They face another Japanese pair, Takeshi Kamura-Kohari Yonemoto, in the semi-finals.

Peng Soon-Liu Ying have a great chance to reach their first ever Super Series final where they are most likely to play Mohd Rijal-Lilyana Natsir for the title.

The Indonesians ended the run of Wee Kiong-Ng Hui Lin in the quarter-finals.

In the men's singles, top seed Lee Chong Wei had few problems stopping his younger compatriot Chong Wei Feng 21-15, 21-15.

Chong Wei faces Indonesia's Simon Santoso for a place in the final.

Simon thrashed former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat 21-9, 21-14.

The other semi-final will be between Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand and Hu Yun of Hong Kong.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

The task of linking Asean bourses

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 05:39 PM PDT

OVER a cup of coffee, an investor spoke about how his son and some of his son's group of friends have been investing in shares. For those who wonder if young adults will have the investment penchant of their parents, such an example gives hope that a new breed of savvy investors are being percolated.

His son is using some of his future inheritance to make investments. But that money was not being used to buy Sime Darby Bhd or Malayan Banking Bhd shares. The young man was investing in Apple Inc shares in the United States, and so were his friends.

The propensity to invest in shares beyond the comfort of home has been a growing trend of late. The proliferation of foreign business news through different media have made young adults and even seasoned investors a lot more financially aware of opportunities on offer.

That growing trend has not been lost on two of the regulators of the two largest stock exchanges in the region Datuk Tajuddin Atan, CEO of Bursa Malaysia Bhd, and Magnus Bocker, CEO of Singapore Exchange as they too recall personal anecdotes on just how Malaysians and Singaporeans are investing cross borders.

"Some 70% of my friends are trading in different types of markets. If equities are not moving, they will go to bonds. If bonds are not exciting, they will move to foreign exchange," says Tajuddin.

Bocker too knows of Singaporean investors who can rattle off financial figures and names of US companies and their prospects at the top of their fingertips.

"You can ask them what they know about Singapore Press Holdings or DBS Bank and they are lost. We have a lot of traders who know the financial markets in the US better than they know the local market."

It can be seen as a missed opportunity if the stock exchanges did not harness the growing appetite for foreign shares among investors in this region for their own benefit. And that's what they sat down to do 17 months ago they conducted 17 CEO meetings and formed 150 working groups to see how Asean exchanges can work together.

Their mission was simple; the need to lasso investors into the regional stock markets.

"The best thing is that exchanges are working together for Asean," says CIMB Group Holdings Bhd chief executive Datuk Seri Nazir Razak.

Enter the Asean Trading Link

On Sept 18, Bursa Malaysia and Singapore Exchange kicked off the Asean Trading Link. The Stock Exchange of Thailand is set to join mid-October and together, those three markets offer, on paper, a tantalising opportunity for investors.

Combined, the three exchanges account for US$1.4 trillion in market capitalisation of companies in the seven exchanges in South-East Asia and nearly 3,000 companies for investors to choose from. The large companies in the region are being marketed as Asean Stars, highlighting the 30 largest and liquid companies on the respective bourses in South-East Asia.

It's that diversity and scale that the chiefs of the first two exchanges to join are excited about.

"Investors get more and more used to being able to invest in more and more markets. The competition for the attention of the investors is getting fiercer.

"We see especially the significance of Indian capital markets, Japanese capital markets and Chinese capital markets growing very rapidly and they take a lot of attention for investors," says Bocker.

The Asean Trading Link also means a change of tactics. For years, these exchanges were competing against each other, trying to build a moat surrounding their markets while offering more products and services for investors to pluck.

That meant being increasingly parochial as markets around the world start dropping their defences, engage in mergers and tie-ups to mutually grow their business and offerings to investors not in their home countries but from around the world.

"From an Asean perspective, it was more of the question of can we be stronger by being more of a united front and provide more information, and see Asean as a market leader, combined rather than for the individual countries.

"A lot of the discussions that we have had among the exchanges is very similar to the ones that the ministers of finances have had in terms of how do we strengthen the region in competition with other regions and in competition for the attention of the investors," says Bocker.

Levelling the playing field?

As it stands, Malaysian brokers through the likes of Maybank which now owns Singapore's Kim Eng Securities, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd from their ownership of GK Goh and RHB Capital Bhd when the merger with OSK Investment Bank is completed stand to theoretically benefit from greater integration.

Tajuddin estimates the Malaysian investment banks that own brokerages in Singapore account for 40% of the volume of trade out of the republic into the Malaysian stock market.

"Familiarisation is there. The Asean link facilitates trade," he says.

For the brokers themselves, the gains from the trading link will differ. For the large Malaysian investment banks that already have a regional network, the link is an added channel. The cost of participating in the link is minuscule compared with what they actually make on an annual basis from the trade of equities.

For the medium and smaller-sized brokers, the link itself will avail to themselves an opportunity not present in their business. The access to the other markets can be a marketing point, analysts feel, that can help them in the long run.

"The main people who will benefit will be the retail investors. Let's say, a small broker who has a bunch of investors who are interested in shares in the region can offer access to shares in Singapore and Thailand to such customers instead of losing them to brokers who already have the network.

"In the past, such retailers who want to buy shares in Singapore have to open an account in Singapore and know the rules. With the link, you don't have to. They will just need to know the home ground rules but there is now the currency exposure they have to be aware of.

"For the companies, they now have an alternative to get their shares traded. This is a new way for them. By increasing their profile, marketing and research done on such companies, it can attract investors from outside Malaysia," says Tajuddin.

While the link will allow access to the region for those that join, the difference will, however, remain in how those customers are served.

The big brokers with their teams of analysts covering companies in the region will be able to offer research and support to their investors. It will be the extra arrows in their quiver in gaining or more importantly keeping market share.

Maybank Investment Bank Bhd CEO Tengku Datuk Zafrul Tengku Aziz says the expansion of services by brokers to their clients was inevitable but the issue at hand was how were they going to be serviced?

"They can have the link but how are they going to go about supporting their clients?" he asks, on the need to provide research which the larger brokers have an advantage at the moment.

Will investors bite?

Having the link to buy Singapore and Thai shares is one thing but will investors want to buy shares in countries they are not familiar with at the moment?

The issue will surround the interest among retail investors to buy shares in the region and right now there appears to be very little appetite towards that.

Singapore investors appear to be familiar with shares in places like Hong Kong, London and the United States. Then, there are different interests among investors in Malaysia where it has been said that investors in Penang are interested in Hong Kong shares while those in Sabah and Sarawak will find more solitude in Singapore equities.

"Retail investors generally are not comfortable and unaware enough to be investing abroad," says an analyst, who adds that retail participation in Malaysia has been poor for years.

"There has not been enough promotional activity. The man-in-the-street investor does not know enough about the Asean exchanges."

There is hope that the ultra high net worth individuals through their private bankers will be drawn into trading shares in South-East Asia as the link now makes trading easier.

To generate interest, the exchanges need to do far more promotional activities on stocks in the region and that can be a costly affair, some will say over time will cost more than the link itself.

Who will bear that cost? Will the participating brokers be asked to contribute towards that?

For Tajuddin, the seeds to invest in foreign shares are there and they are for the exchanges to capitalise on.

"The outflow from here goes to the US and Hong Kong. The original objective of the Asean Trading Link is to build a start. It's a building block in trying to understand that as a single exchange, we are not close to any size that commands attention.

"By combining the exchanges, we can command enough attention. That's why people are saying Asean is the next growth decade, but separately we are too small," he says.

Bocker says the exchanges will only know if the link is a success once the full network effect is there.

"We need to have more markets in. I think it will take time for a lot of the brokers to do things and here you need to think in terms of years.

"It will probably take 3-4 years before you see the real impact of this and by then you will see the back office, clearing and depository effect cooperating better which will take a number of years," he says.

Related Stories:
What it means for Malaysia
Modest start for regional linkage
What trading link means for Singapore
Making Asean trade more accessible

Adidas cuts struggling Reebok’s 2015 sales target

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 05:37 PM PDT

FRANKFURT: Adidas has cut the 2015 sales target for its struggling Reebok brand by a third to 2 billion euros (US$2.6bil) after a torrid year in which it lost a major American football contract and fraud was discovered at its Indian operation.

The German company, the world's second-largest sports apparel firm, bought Reebok in August 2005 for US$3.8bil to try to close the gap on market leader Nike in the United States. It enjoyed initial success with a range of toning shoes, but has since struggled to find its feet.

Sales at Reebok slumped 26% in the second quarter and annual revenue is expected to fall from 2011's 1.96 billion euros.

Its performance contrasts sharply with the rest of the Adidas group, which expects overall sales to rise nearly 10% to about 14.5 billion euros in 2012.

Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer has said that Reebok needed to come up with new products and would focus on fitness categories such as keep-fit trend Crossfit, running, gym, yoga and dance.

Reebok will also restrict sales growth in less lucrative markets such as India and Latin America and instead focus on improving its profit.

"While we have seen some good progress from the brand ... we cannot claim that we are on the path to sustainable global success just yet," Hainer told investors in California.

Shares in Adidas, which have gained 30% this year and touched a record high of 65.76 euros on Wednesday, were down 1.5% at 64.56 euros at 0830 GMT, making them the biggest faller on Germany's Dax index of leading shares.

The reduced target for Reebok is a rare spot of bad news for Adidas, which has managed to perform better than Nike and Puma this year in Europe and China, where consumer spending has slowed.

Adidas kept an overall target to increase group sales to 17 billion euros by 2015, with faster than expected growth at its Adidas brand and golf business offsetting the weakness at Reebok.

Sales for the Adidas brand are now expected to reach 12.8 billion euros in 2015, up 5% from the previous target of 12.2 billion euros. Reuters

WTO cuts this year’s global trade growth forecast

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 05:37 PM PDT

SINGAPORE: World trade will grow by a mere 2.5% this year, dragged down by Europe to less than half of the previous 20-year average, according to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The WTO cut its estimate from a 2012 growth forecast of 3.7% it made in April and also lowered its forecast for 2013 to 4.5% growth from 5.6%.

"I see the risk more on the downside than the upside," WTO director general Pascal Lamy said at a news conference. "What could be surprising is that you have a volume of trade that is lower than world (economic) growth."

The WTO figures are based on world economic growth of 2.1% in 2012 and 2.4% 2013, which it said was a consensus estimate of economic forecasts.

"The main reason for the growth slowdown is of course Europe," said Lamy, who will step down next year as head of the 157-member group that has so far failed to agree on major reforms of global trade rules.

"We also know US growth is lower than expected, (and) Japan is not in great shape."

The WTO now expects 1.5% growth in exports from developed economies this year, instead of the previous forecast of 2%.

Those from developing countries are seen posting 3.5% growth, down from 5.6% previously.

It sees developed nations more than doubling their export growth to 3.3% next year and developing countries exporting 5.7% more.

The WTO said in a statement that its 2013 estimates assumed current policy measures would be enough to avoid a breakup of the euro and that agreement would be reached to stabilise public finances in the United States and avoid automatic spending cuts and tax increases early next year. Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Trailer Park: Mama

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 01:34 AM PDT


Guillermo del Toro recommends yet another creepy story involving children after the very successful The Orphanage. Andres Muschietti is given the task of presenting a feature based on his own short story of the same name that was released in 2008.

Aiding him in Mama is actress Jessica Chastain, who looks unrecognisable with short, black hair.

The trailer plays the horror for all it's worth – the soundtrack, odd images, weird kid staring at nothing and a creature moving on the ceiling. Brrrr. In short, it's a movie that will give you the heebie jeebies every time we hear the kid whispering "Mama".

If previous Spanish horror movies are anything to go by, then there should be a little something else in this film that we are not clued into yet.

Mama revolves around two children who have lived in a house in the woods on their own for five years. When they are found, they are given to their only remaining uncle (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). But something has obviously been living with them.

Mama is tentatively scheduled for a January 2013 release.

Monsters and ghouls are coming soon to cinemas

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 12:45 AM PDT

Hotel Transylvania — Dracula runs a hotel for his fellow monsters and ghouls. The huge hotel is also home to his 118-year-old (considered the "teen" years in a vampire's life) daughter, Mavis. We check into the hotel when Mavis is about to celebrate her birthday, bringing all her monster "relatives" together. Among the voice talents are Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Kevin James and Selena Gomez.

Tai Chi 0 – The first part of a trilogy detailing the story of a young boy who travels far to learn tai chi. He ultimately becomes the grandmaster of the martial art. When some bad characters come riding into town, it is up to this young man to save the day. The second movie opens next month on Oct 25. Starring Tony Leung Ka-fai, Eddie Peng, Angelababy, William Feng, Yuan Xiaochao, Shu Qi and Daniel Wu.

Looper – A shadowy company has figured out how to commit the perfect murder – by sending their target back into the past, where a hired killer will do the job for them. Trouble begins when the hired killer must kill his older self. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis.

Visually stimulating

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 12:42 AM PDT

Malaysian-born, Singapore-based filmmaker and artist Sherman Ong has made quite a name for himself.

FILMMAKER Sherman Ong has a gift for crafting the ordinary into extraordinary. Renowned for focusing on relationships and human nature, his critically-acclaimed films defy description and breach convention to deliver unforgettable stories which resonate across languages and cultures.

"As a filmmaker, I think my stories act as a catalyst for understanding the human condition. My stories don't provide answers but more questions, and possibilities for greater awareness and hope. To me, filmmaking is like an endless pilgrimage," Ong said.

The Malaysian filmmaker, photographer and visual artist is a founding member of the film collective 13 Little Pictures and serves as artistic manager for the Singapore International Photography Festival.

The winner of many prestigious awards, including the 2010 Icon de Martell Cordon Bleu Photography Award, Ong has displayed works in the collections of the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan, the Singapore Art Museum and the Seoul Art Centre in South Korea.

Many of his works have been featured in art and film festivals, as well as museums worldwide.

Ong's films take the spotlight in Focus On Sherman Ong: Filmmaker, Photographer, Visual Artist, an exhibition of his films organised by Kelab Seni Filem Negara which will take place in HELP University in Kuala Lumpur this weekend.

One of the films that will be featured is Memories Of A Burning Tree, Ong's ensemble drama about Smith, a man who arrives in South Africa and encounters a string of unusual characters along the way.

Featuring an improvised script and shot in a language he did not know (Swahili), Ong produced the film by making friends in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and weaved the stories they told him into a compelling plotline.

"I had a translator/assistant director help me to interview the selected 'actors' and discover their various backgrounds. Then, I created a storyline and script, gave them the scenario and let them flesh out my ideas in their own language," he said.

"I think if we look beyond the language, as human beings, we react the same way to happiness, sadness, longing and despair. We don't need to rely on words," he added.

Also showing will be Hashi, a story of three Japanese women from different age groups, and how their lives crisscross in oblique and tangential ways.

The film, which was awarded best screenplay (Singapore Film Awards segment) at the Singapore International Film Festival 2009, features multiple actors playing a single role.

One of Ong's more unusual works is Flooding In The Time Of Drought, a 184-minute experimental docudrama compiled from an eight-channel art installation shown at the Singapore Biennale in 2008.

Shown in two parts of four stories each, the film depicts the lives of foreign migrants in the face of an impending water crisis.

"The film is a fusion of the actors' stories, as well as my own research and imagination. It is immaterial whether they are seen as documentaries or fiction films because to me, they are the same. I am more concerned about what I can share with my audience: whether I offer them something that makes them smile, cry or changes their point of view," he shared.

A trademark of Ong's work is his regular use of non-professional actors.

In Hashi, for example, his cast comprised volunteers and visitors he met while on an artist residency programme in Japan.

"This is partly due to my limited budget. But more importantly, I think non-professional actors bring something that transcends acting technique.

"Essentially, after an in-depth interview, my actors are actually playing themselves. No amount of drama training can beat the kind of life training that a person has gone through," he explained.

Ong was also one of 16 filmmakers from all over the world invited to be part of the Little Sun Lights project, a film collaboration with world-renowned Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, at the Tate Modern in London on Sept 15.

Tasked to create a film inspired by light, love and the "Little Sun" solar-powered lamp (created by Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen), Ong's contribution was Mata Hari, a film inspired by the life of a notorious female spy by the same name.

Asked about his plans for the future, Ong said he is planning to shoot a film in Malaysia, but is still looking for funding.

"My focus has always been the human condition – the mundane and the quotidian, the simple pleasures and hardships that we face in our daily life.

"In an age where we look for one spectacle after another, I look for drama in the everyday and the routine, which holds more meaning for me."

Focus On Sherman Ong: Filmmaker, Photographer, Visual Artist takes place from Sept 22-23 at the HELP University Theatrette in Pusat Bandar Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. Admission is free. Ong will be present to discuss his works with the audience. For more information, call 012-225 5136. Film schedules can be found at www.kakiseni.com.my.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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No free lunch, someone has to pay, says Najib of Pakatan's promises

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 08:56 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians should not be taken in by the Opposition's promises which cannot possibly be fulfilled, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The Prime Minister noted that should Pakatan Raktan's Buku Jingga be implemented, the country could be bankrupt in just two years.

"There is no such thing as a free lunch, someone has to pay. Even if they abolish the PTPTN debts and provide free education, taxpayers must pay for it through increased tax," he said in his speech at the Tunku Abdul Rahman College (TARC) alumni association dinner here Friday.

He also said Barisan Nasional delivered its promises, as proven when Malaysia recorded a 5.4% economic growth in the second quarter, which Financial Times had described as "gravity-defying growth".

"This is a memorable achievement. There will be more opportunities as we continue to implement the economic transformation program and the government transformation programme," he said.

Najib added that education was the critical success factor for development, and the growth of TARC and the Tunku Abdul Rahman University (UTAR) had enabled access to quality education.

"The Opposition has delivered a lot of political rhetoric and, if I may add, a lot of hot air as well. But MCA has given something meaningful by producing 160,000 graduates since its inception.

"I am supportive of TARC being upgraded to a university college, provided it goes through the due procedure of submitting the application for Higher Education Ministry to make its evaluation in an objective and transparent manner," he said.

Najib also said the Government would continue its RM1-for-RM1 funding for the institution as well as maintain the funding for operations and management.

Chief Justice: Ensure integrity of judiciary not tainted

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 07:57 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Judges must decide on the cases they are hearing without fear but based on the sovereignty of the law, Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria said Friday.

He said the dignity and integrity of the judges would be protected if they made decisions based on the principles of justice.

The integrity of the judicial institution was at the highest level to ensure the effectiveness of the implementation of the country's legal system, he added.

"I wish to remind all judges and judicial officers not to be dazzled by the praises thrown at them and not to be angry at the criticism made," said Arifin in his speech at the oath-taking and appointment of two judges of the Court of Appeal, here.

He said it was normal that in any dispute in court, there would be winners and losers together with praises and criticism for each decision made.

Arifin said the objective of the judiciary was to emerge as the best judicial institution in the world.

At the same time, he wanted everyone involved to show their commitment towards disposing all the backlog cases so that all cases in the courts were current.

Arifin also disclosed that 6,500 cases at the Kuala Lumpur Original Commercial Courts (OCC) had been disposed of within three years since September 2009, and remaining cases numbered less than 100 currently.

The Original Commercial Courts had been closed down and the judges assigned to the court had been transferred to other courts.

Earlier, Arifin witnessed the oath taking by High Court judges Datuk Mohamad Ariff Yusof, 63, and Mah Weng Kwai, 63, who were appointed as Appeals Court judges.

They both took their oaths before Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif.

Mohamad Ariff served as a law lecturer at the Universiti Malaya from 1974 until 1985 and as an advocate and solicitor from 1985 until 2008.

Mah was a former president of the Bar Council for two terms in 2001/2002 and 2002/2003.

Earlier, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee, who was present at the oath-taking ceremony, said the Malaysian Bar was extremely delighted that two of its former members were promoted to the Court of Appeal. - Bernama

IJN's paediatric centre to be ready in 2015

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 06:39 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Heart Institute's (IJN) Paediatric Congenital Heart Centre (PCHC), which is under construction, is expected to be fully completed by 2015.

IJN deputy chief executive officer Datuk Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub said the centre, which was being built besides the IJN building, was set to be the biggest paediatric centre in Asia.

"The centre will simultaneously become the main pulse of IJN to emerge as a global excellence centre in cardiovascular and thoracic disease," he told reporters after the launching of the centre by Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali here Friday.

Also present during the ceremony were IJN chairman Tan Sri Datuk Dr Taha Mohd Ariff, PCHC head Dr Hasri Samion and Maybank Islam Berhad chairman (MIB) Datuk Seri Ismail Shahudin.

Dr Mohd Azhari said, currently, the centre was operating temporarily at the IJN children's ward, which was upgraded by increasing the beds from 30 to 52 and increasing the consultation rooms to 10 from six and a non-invasive laboratory for diagnostic procedure.

"Other than that, three dedicated paediatrics operating rooms were also renovated and upgraded and expected to be operational in December," he said.

MIB also handed a donation of RM50,000, which was part of the RM1.5mil contributed by the financial institution to finance the purchase of equipment at the centre, including a reading room and for treatment of paediatric patients. - Bernama

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Book launch

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 03:31 AM PDT

SILVERFISH Books' Malaysia/Singapore Book Launch takes place tomorrow.

Among the titles that will be launched are Routes by Robert Yeo, Dr Wong Yoon Wah's The New Village, and Wong Phui Nam's The Hidden Papyrus Of Hen Taui.

The launch will include discusssions on the development of Malaysian and Singaporean writings in English.

The event begins at 5.30pm, at Silverfish Books (03-22844837 / email info@silverfish books.com).

Admission is free, but seats are limited.

Myanmar in the middle

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 03:30 AM PDT

Where China Meets India: Burma And The New Crossroads of Asia
Author: Thant Myint-U
Publisher: Faber and Faber, 358 pages

WHEN Myanmar (previously known as Burma) is mentioned in the news, it is primarily in relation to Aung Sang Suu Kyi. As a country that was cut off from the West for many years, their living national icon (and arguably, an international one as well) served as one of the few bridges to the outside world.

Myanmar is also well known for its oppressive military regime and the devastating effects this has had on their economy. Furthermore, Malaysia has seen a large influx of Myanmar refugees looking for a better life.

For those of us who would like to see a silver lining in Myanmar's sad situation, Thant provides us with one in this book.

Where China Meets India serves as a journey into Myanmar, through the eyes of a Myanmar-born man who has lived outside of his country for many years. Nevertheless, Thant has kept abreast with developments in Myanmar, but in his book, he has chosen to focus more on the positive aspects of the situation.

This is where China and India come in. A look at the world map shows us that Myanmar serves as an important link between these two Asian giants. The resources from Myanmar could prove valuable to both countries. Yet, being in that situation is not ideal, either. Myanmar could easily be taunted on a rope by the two superpowers and dropped when results are not being produced.

The book is part-travelogue and part-history, with analyses of possible future directions for the country. We see the contradictions, for example, in the north-eastern region known as Lashio, where the closeness in geography to China has contributed to its success.

The truth of this success, however, is questionable, as it is also an area monopolised by drug lords, who gain many benefits from being close to China. Interestingly, while the book does criticise certain actions taken by China and India, Thant criticises policies, not the people.

While he tackles the big issues, the author also enriches the book with anecdotes, mythology and personal stories of the Myanmar people. Some may think that this reduces the validity of the arguments proposed in the book. I, however, believe it gives genuine insight into the lives of individuals who are isolated from even their neighbouring countries.

Despite this "silver lining" approach, I do believe Thant could have taken the book a step further by addressing the human rights issues faced by Myanmar. I found it difficult to keep the plight of the Myanmar refugees out of my mind while reading this book, and feel the lack of exploration of these issues is a major oversight. The book could have been an eye-opener for those who are passionate about human rights but not fully aware of the ongoing issues in Myanmar.

One can also question the feasibility of some of Thant's proposed solutions. As someone who was educated outside Asia, it is difficult to say whether his solutions have considered the complexities of Asian culture.

That said, the amount of work Thant has put into researching these three countries is commendable. It is clear from his writing that he is optimistic about Myanmar's future, and as a reader, you can't help but feel the same way. There is clearly a lot of passion behind Thant's words, and it is for this reason that I am now motivated to seek out Thant's other book on Myanmar, The River Of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History Of Burma.

The conclusions that Where China Meets India draws may need to be reassessed in the near future. Myanmar has been making some progress in its relations with the United States and Britain, and as a result of their recent general elections, many changes seem to be on the horizon. However, for anyone who has an interest in the Asian region and how its economy serves to fuel many of its issues, this book is worth a read.

Stepping up

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 03:28 AM PDT

Fantasy funnyman Terry Pratchett and sci-fi specialist Stephen Baxter join forces to step into a world of alternate Earths.

The Long Earth
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Publisher: HarperCollins, 352 pages

FORGET reality-changing spells, dimensional rifts or wormholes. All you need to step into an alternate Earth in Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's The Long Earth is a Stepper box made from, well, a box, some wires, a switch (which is vital), and a potato (for power of course, what else?).

With this laughably simple device, one can "Step" into any one of millions of alternate Earths, all of which are completely devoid of human life, and thus completely unspoilt by the destruction wrought upon the "original" Earth (or Datum Earth) by humans. After this miraculous discovery was made (during an infamous day called "Step Day"), people began making their own Steppers and exploring the "Long Earth" (as these alternate Earths came to be known), some going as far as to colonise and live in these unspoilt paradises.

Joshua Valienté also visits the Long Earth quite often, but unlike most other people, he doesn't need a Stepper box. He is what is called a "natural stepper", and his ability soon attracts the attention of a mega-corporation called transEarth, which is interested in exploring the vast reaches of the Long Earth. Thus, Joshua joins a strange character called Lobsang (who is apparently a Tibetan motorcycle repairman reincarnated into a... er... drinks dispensing machine) on a specially built "stepping ship" called the Mark Twain, and they attempt to travel to the end of the Long Earth.

I have to admit, what attracted me most to this book was the name "Terry Pratchett" printed on its cover. I'm a huge fan of Pratchett's books (Discworld or otherwise), but I had yet to read a single book of Baxter's until now, even though he is one of the most prolific authors in the science fiction genre.

This book is actually Pratchett's second collaboration with another author, the first being the hilarious and utterly brilliant Good Omens, with Neil Gaiman.

Now, Gaiman once told me during an interview that many people assume that Good Omens had him doing "all the dark bits" while Pratchett just walked around behind him adding in the jokes.

Well, I had that same assumption about The Long Earth, which really felt as though Baxter had written a serious science fiction book, and roped in Pratchett to make it funnier. Granted, that may be because I'm more familiar with Pratchett's work than with Baxter's, but I just could not shake the feeling that this was more of a Stephen Baxter book than a Terry Pratchett one.

Don't get me wrong though, The Long Earth is pretty good, as long as you're not expecting one of Pratchett's Discworld books. The story seems simple enough (it's mostly about Joshua and Lobsang's journeys through the different Earths), but it also touches on weightier social and political issues that arise from the discovery of the Long Earth. For instance, what would the segment of the population that can't Step (and are therefore left out) do? What happens if you put a group of different people together in an expedition to colonise a new Earth? With the explosion of easily available natural resources on all these parallel worlds, how would greedy corporations react, and what would it do to the economy? And how does a natural-stepping loner cope with being on a ship for extended periods with a talking drinks dispenser?

All in all, The Long Earth is an easy enough read (I managed to finish it within a day), and has enough charm and ingenuity to make it pretty compelling as well. However, I felt that there really should be more to the story, and that there is so much more potential to the universe Baxter and Pratchett have created.

The authors have announced, though, that there will be another book set in the Long Earth, so there will definitely be more Stepping to look forward to in the future. Until then, get those boxes, wires and switches ready. And don't forget your potato.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Faulty streetlights in Sea Park and Paramount Garden causing fear among residents

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 04:57 AM PDT

STREETLIGHTS at the busiest arteries of Section 21 Sea Park and Section 20 Taman Paramount have been out of order for months and this is causing much fear among the residents that snatch thieves would take advantage of the situation.

Despite their numerous calls to Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) to change the blown out bulbs, the situation has remained unchanged.

Residents and business owners interviewed were disillusioned with the utility firm, as it had failed to change the bulbs along the busiest roads in Sea Park and Taman Paramount.

Resident A.W. Wong, 65, said certain stretches of the roads were left in darkness, making it unsafe for residents, college students and office workers who returned home after 7pm.

"What is even more disturbing is the fact that most snatch thefts and cases of people being robbed after withdrawing money from the ATM, occurred at these dark stretches," he said.

Wong added that there had been a rise in crime cases and the major reason was the non-functioning streetlights.

Pensioner Foo Hong Seng, 56, said: "Streetlights are important for ensuring a safe environment at night. We fear being robbed even when we are just walking to the shops."

Sea Park resident Aida Kamaruddin, 25, said the snatch thefts and muggings occur along Jalan 21/11A behind the Shell petrol kiosk as the streetlights are not functioning and the place is dark.

She added that TNB must also light up Jalan 21/1 from the Paramount LRT station.

"Office workers who return from work are riveted with fear as they walk down Jalan 21/1 to Jalan 21/27 and Jalan 20/3 as the lights are inadequate.

"Snatch thefts are frequent and it's time we have policemen patrolling Jalan 21/1 on foot instead of in patrol cars," she said.

She added that police presence and closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) are a must to deter crime.

Sharon Kaur said her son got back late from tuition in Sea Park and because the road is void of proper lighting or police patrols, her husband Hardeep Singh has to send and fetch their son.

Businesswoman Tengku Anna Sirajuddin, 45, said the authorities had failed to keep public amenities in order and this puts the people at risk.

"Most of the streetlights are out of order and a number of times there have been road accidents due to the lack of proper lighting," she said.

Julius Chee, 48, who runs a music centre, said Jalan 20/16A outside Giant hypermart was in darkness as the blown out bulbs for the streetlights had not been replaced.

Accountant Anita Yam 38, said TNB must get the streetlights in working order within the 48 hours as reduction in street lighting would lead to higher crime, safetly problems and high risk of accidents.

"I think the local councillor in-charge of this area is out of touch as he or she should inform the utility company," she said.

Yam added that women who use Jalan 21/20, Jalan 21/27, Jalan 20/16A, Jalan 21/19, Jalan 20/7, Jalan 20/5 and Jalan 20/3 felt insecure when they walk on these roads and it would be better if TNB installs more streetlights. Residents also want the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) to install CCTVs.

Yam pointed out the lackadaisical attitude of MBPJ in leaving tree branches to cover floodlights at the playground along Jalan 21/27.

Selangor MCA Complaints Bureau deputy chief Kelvin Chong urged the authorities to buck up and get the lights fixed to ensure a safe environment.

Metro Watch

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 04:43 AM PDT

Law Conference

The 2012 Tuanku Ja'afar Law Conference and Workshop on Academic Entrepreneurship and University Start-Ups will be held at the Moot Court Building, Faculty of Law Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Bangi from 8am to 5pm on Oct 2 and 3. Jointly organised by the Faculty of Law UKM (FUU), the Centre for Entrepreneurship and SMEs Development UKM (CESMED) and Institute of West Asian Studies UKM (Ikrab) — the start-up gathers experts from academics, entrepreneurs, university technology transfer office and industry to exchange ideas and debate emerging issues in academic entrepreneurship. For details, call 03-892 16387 (Prof Zinatul) or email to shiqin@ukm.my/zzshiqin@gmail.com

Dodgeball Sessions

The YMCA of Kuala Lumpur will conduct free dodgeball sessions with experienced coaches every Wednesday at the YMCA KL Volleyball court from 8pm to 11pm. Weekly Scrabble sessions are held at the Lounge Hall (Level 1) every Saturday from 1pm to 7pm. For details, call 03-2274 1439, email programmes@ymcakl.com or visit log on to www.ymcakl.com.

Road Closure

Part of the Besraya Highway heading north from KM15.57 to KM16.34 will be closed in stages from 10pm to 5am until today. According to Besraya (M) Sdn Bhd, the roadworks are for resurfacing the road. Motorists are advised to look out for the road signs and keep to the speed limit. For enquiries, call Besline at 1-800-88-0999.

Events Galore

The Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) will hold a gotong royong, health exhibition, recycling campaign, finding mosquitoe larvae competition and mobile payment counter from 8am to noon on Jalan 45, Berhadapan SJK(C) Selayang Baru in Selayang Baru tomorrow. Participants are encouraged to bring long sleeves shirts, shoes and track bottom. For details, call MPS at 03-612 06312 or 03-613 11850

Allergy Workshop

In conjunction with Malaysia Allergy Day, the Malaysian Society of Allergy and Immunology (MSAI) will hold a Managing Childhood Allergies workshop from 9am to 12.30pm at Sunway Hotel Spa and Resort on Saturday. Three specialists in this field Dr Amir Hamzah, Dr Intan Hakimah Ismail and Dr Norleen Mohd Salleh would be giving the talks on various topics. For details, call Ms Soo at 012-711 6993 or email at soo@aworkingtitleevents.com

Mobile Counter

Kuala Lumpur City Hall will open its mobile payment counter from 9am to 4pm near JPJ, Bandar Sri Permaisuri, Cheras from now until tomorrow, Counters to pay assessment, summons, fines and quit rent are open.

Toastmasters meet

The Metro Toastmasters meets every second and fourth Thursday of the month in Vistana Hotel at 7pm. Toastmasters help people to improve their communication skills in thinking, hearing and speaking confidently. For details, call 016-332 2973.

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