Sabtu, 22 September 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Ex-CIA man Edwin Wilson, jailed for selling arms to Libya, dies

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 06:11 PM PDT

(Reuters) - Former CIA operative Edwin P. Wilson, who was found guilty in 1983 of selling arms to Libya but released from prison in 2004 after a judge threw out the conviction, has died at age 84, a funeral home director said on Saturday.

When Wilson was sent to prison, his was the biggest arms-dealing case in U.S. history.

Wilson died on September 10 of complications from heart valve replacement surgery, said Craig Emmick, director at Columbia Funeral Home and Crematory in Seattle.

Following his release from prison, where Wilson had worked tirelessly to disprove allegations he was a traitor, he had spent recent years living in the Seattle suburb of Edmonds, said a statement from his family on the website of Columbia Funeral Home.

Wilson grew up on a farm in Idaho and joined the CIA in the 1950s after serving in the Korean War as a Marine.

He officially retired from the CIA in 1971 but continued to work for the spy agency as a freelancer, according to a 2003 ruling by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, the Houston-based judge who overturned his conviction.

He ran front companies for the CIA and later built a $23 million fortune with his enterprises, amassing a string of properties including a 2,500-acre (1,011-hectare) farm in Virginia.

In 1982, federal agents arrested Wilson. He was charged in the Southern District of Texas with selling 20 tons of C-4 plastic explosives to the Libyan government of the late Muammar Gaddafi.

Wilson was convicted in that case and other federal cases against him outside of Texas, and was sentenced to a total of 52 years in prison in 1983.

His appeal of the Texas case produced CIA records indicating he had worked for the agency on at least 40 occasions. None of those documents showed the CIA asked him to sell C-4 explosives to Libya, but several showed the agency knew he worked there and requested his help in obtaining information.

Judge Hughes found that U.S. Justice Department prosecutors knew Wilson had worked for the CIA but introduced a false affidavit from a top official with the agency who avowed the CIA never asked Wilson "to perform or provide any services, directly or indirectly."

The judge wrote in a 2003 opinion that "With their knowledge of the nature of Wilson's work for the CIA, they (prosecutors) deliberately deceived the court."

Wilson was released from prison the following year.

A representative from the CIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wilson.

He told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2006 that he was only in Libya to serve the U.S. government.

"I was doing it for them. If they hadn't walked away from me, I wouldn't have ever been convicted," he told the paper.

He is survived by his sons Karl and Erik, sister Leora Pinkston and his longtime girlfriend Cate Callahan, said the statement from his family on the funeral home's website.

(Additional reporting by Jim Wilson; Editing by Xavier Briand)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Egypt's Mursi says Iran is vital to ending Syria's crisis

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 05:55 PM PDT

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's Islamist President said on Saturday that having a strong relationship with Iran is important for Egypt at this time to be able to work out a way to end the bloodshed in Syria.

Speaking in a televised interview, his first to state TV since his election last June, President Mohamed Mursi described Iran as "a main player in the region that could have an active and supportive role in solving the Syrian problem."

Mursi, in a move to revive Egypt's role in the region, asked last month for Iran to join a quartet committee he called for which includes Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Egypt to try to find a solution to the violence in Syria.

Iran is the only state in the quartet that is an ally to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and has accused Saudi Arabia and Turkey of helping the rebels who are fighting to topple him. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have all demanded that Assad step down. Iran was attacked at the U.N. Security Council last week for its continuous backing of the Syrian regime.

"I don't see the presence of Iran in this quartet as a problem, but is a part of solving the (Syrian) problem," Mursi said, explaining that Iran's close proximity to Syria and its strong ties with it makes it "vital" in resolving the Syrian crisis.

Mursi's comments came after Saudi Arabia stayed away from the quartet's last meeting, which Cairo hosted on September 17. Saudi Arabia's decision was seen by diplomats and western officials as a reaction to the presence of Shi'ite Muslim Iran, the major rival of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has not officially commented on why it did not attend that meeting and Egyptian officials gave conflicting explanations for its absence.

Mursi said he could meet with top officials of the three states of the Quartet during the United Nations general assembly meeting he will attend in New York this week.

"And we do not have a significant problem with Iran, it (the relation between Egypt and Iran) is normal like with the rest of the world's states," said Mursi who last month became the first Egyptian president to visit the Islamic republic in decades.


Relations between Cairo and Tehran were badly strained after Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979. Egypt signed a peace deal with Israel and became a staunch ally to the U.S. and Europe.

But it is now taking a position at odds with that of Israel and its western and American allies.

Former President Hosni Mubarak, who Mursi replaced after his ouster by a popular uprising last year, never visited the Islamic state in all of his 30 years in power. Mubarak was known for his opposition to the Islamists' rigid style of government.

Mursi has been outspoken about Syria since he took office on June 30. He has described the Syrian government as "oppressive" and said it was an "ethical duty" to support the Syrian people in a speech he gave from Tehran last month at a Non-Aligned Movement summit, which was the reason for Egypt's historic visit to the Islamic state.

"The Syrian regime has to know it is violating all laws and norms in its continuation to shed blood," Mursi said on Saturday, repeating similar comments he made during an Arab league meeting he attended earlier this month and in a previous exclusive interview with Reuters.

The Syrian revolt erupted in March of last year, one month after the Egyptian uprising ended, over similar demands for democracy and freedom. But unlike Mubarak, who quit after only 18 days of protest, Assad sent his military to crush the revolt, leading the rebels to take arms against him and prompting violent battles that have been going on for 17 months.

The United Nations says nearly 20,000 people have been killed in the conflict and more than 235,000 Syrian refugees have registered in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, while about 1.2 million people have been displaced within Syria.


Mursi has vowed to meet the Egyptian people's demands for deeply rooted corruption to be eradicated from all governmental institutions.

He has said many of the changes he made in the leadership of state institutions, which have included the military, the state's auditing units and the state's intelligence department, were aimed at weeding out corruption.

"I won't leave a corrupted person unpunished," Mursi said. "I won't take extraordinary measures but I tell corrupt people that under the law, soon you will be punished," he added.

In a surprise move last month, Mursi dismissed the head of the military council and the military's chief of staff and cancelled a decree the army issued that gave it legislative powers in the absence of parliament.

The army last June dissolved the Islamist-led parliament shortly before issuing a decree that was seen as a bid to restrict Mursi's role.

When asked about the army moves, Mursi said they were "obligatory," without giving details about the true reasons behind them. Yet he said he felt the people approved of the moves and saw them as strengthening "democratic and civilian rule."

But Mursi did not forget to salute military forces to deflect concern about a hidden conflict between the Islamist president and the army forces after the recent decisions.

"The military forces made a huge effort to protect the revolution. ... It is an institution respected by the Egyptian people and the President of Egypt," Mursi said.

Mursi also said he would back any legislation to put limits on minimum and maximum wages to achieve social justice, work to advance education and medical insurance systems and the state's political and security status to increase the flow of investment, which was reduced after the uprising.

When asked about how he felt after he knew he won the presidential vote to become Egypt's first freely elected civilian president, Mursi said: "I was filled by an overwhelming feeling of responsibility."

"The targets are big, hopes are wide, resources are huge and strong efforts are requested," Mursi said.

(Additional reporting by Ali Abdelaty; editing by Todd Eastham)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Fake Italian pilot travelled in cockpit, police say

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 05:15 PM PDT

ROME (Reuters) - A man who posed as an airline pilot and travelled in the cockpit of at least one plane was arrested in Turin Airport using forged identity cards and wearing a pilot's uniform, Italian police said on Saturday.

The 32-year-old, whose real name was not released, allegedly created a fake identity as a Lufthansa pilot named "Andrea Sirlo," complete with a Facebook page that included fake flight attendant friends.

Police said they were alerted several months ago after "Sirlo" introduced himself as a captain to a Civil Aviation lieutenant, who became suspicious because he seemed too young for the job.

The national military police tracked down the suspect from photos on his Facebook profile, in which he is shown posing in uniform and sunglasses in front of airplanes.

He was arrested in the check-in area of Turin Airport on Friday.

Police said "Sirlo" had travelled for free on at least one flight as a "third pilot" sitting in the cockpit. They were investigating whether he had flown as an imposter at other times.

Lufthansa declined to comment on whether one of their flights had been involved and said it was a matter for the police.

At a press conference, police displayed a white shirt with epaulettes and a black double-breasted jacket with pilot stripes sewn on the cuffs. They said they also seized fake resumes, airline badges and an airport staff parking permit.

Turin Airport said in a statement it had not issued any permits in the name of the person involved.

A profile on a website where users can track their flights shows "Pilot Andrea Sirlo" flying from Munich Airport to Turin on October 23, 2011. (

Munich Airport did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case recalls the 2002 film "Catch Me If You Can," in which Leonardo DiCaprio played Frank Abagnale, a real-life con man who is said to have flown more than 1,600,000 kilometres (1 million miles) as a fake Pan American pilot in the 1960s.

'Sirlo' is the name of a flight corridor over Turin.

Copyright © 2012 Reuters


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Rose, Snedeker share lead at PGA Tour Championship

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 06:11 PM PDT

ATLANTA, Georgia: England's Justin Rose fired a bogey-free two-under par 68 Saturday to match American Brandt Snedeker for the lead after the third round of the $8 million US PGA Tour Championship.

Snedeker shot a bogey-free 64 at East Lake to join Rose on eight-under 202 after 54 holes with American Ryan Moore third on 204 and World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Americans Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson another stroke adrift.

"That was about as good as I could play," Snedeker said. "I missed a few putts. But all in all I played fantastic."

Rose felt proud of his round as well, having overcome a sore shoulder from lifting his eight-month-old daughter to cope well with winds and fast greens. He birdied the par-5 ninth and par-3 11th and otherwise notched 16 pars.

"To go bogey free on a course that showed its teeth was good," Rose said. "I feel good about my game. I've been patient and been able to get it around. It was a great day. I like tests like this where you have to grind for pars."

Tiger Woods, a 14-time major champion, was among four US players sharing seventh on 206 in the final event of the US PGA season playoff series, which pays a $10 million bonus to the points leader after Sunday's final round.

"I'm only four back. I've got a shot at it," Woods said. "I'm playing for the W (win). If I win the golf tournament, everything's kind of taken care of."

Woods, McIlroy and Snedeker can each capture the playoff title and rich bonus prize by winning the tournament.

"I'm only three behind, right there," McIlroy said. "If I get off to a fast start and put a lot of pressure on the guys behind me, that will help and we will see what happens. I'm just glad to be in the mix.

"It will probably be one of the most exciting Sundays of the year." Rose would need McIlroy to slide down to 17th in the 30-man field to have a hope of moving past the Northern Irishman into the playoff points lead, an event so unlikely that it has put the playoff crown out of his thoughts.

"I need a little help from my friends," Rose said. "I have the advantage of just playing the Tour Championship. For me it's just about one tournament. I wish I was in the position Brandt was in. I would trade him.

"Brandt is the one of the two of us who will be thinking about it." Both Rose and Snedeker have been distracted by children, Rose by his daughter - "changing a few diapers in the morning probably takes your mind off it" - and Snedeker also by severe injuries to the son of his swing coach.

"The biggest thing I've learned is priorities from being a parent and realizing how unimportant in the grand scheme of things tomorrow really is," Snedeker said.

"My coach is going through a tough time right now. His son was in a bad car accident last week, so it has really kind of made all of us re-focus everything and realize what's really important. It was kind of a wake-up call to us all to make sure what's really important.

This is just a golf tournament."

Snedeker birdied the fifth, seventh and par-5 ninth holes, opened the back nine with another birdie and added others at the par-5 15th and par-4 17th.

"I drove the ball great," Snedeker said. "I only missed two or three fairways. I put the ball on the green and made the key putts you need to make to have a good score around here."

Snedeker's hot putting touch made him a US captain's pick by Davis Love for next week's Ryder Cup matches against Europe, but it has also given him a solid chance at the playoff crown even though McIlroy won two playoff events.

"I've picked up a lot of confidence," Snedeker said. "I'm playing the best golf in my career and some of the best golf in the world. I'm realizing my best is good enough and enjoying playing out here."

And Snedeker would like to validate any doubters about whether or not he deserved the Ryder Cup pick.

"You definitely have a little bit of that," Snedeker said. "I want to show people Davis picked for more than because I was playing great golf."

McIlroy opened bogey-birdie and missed an eight-foot par putt at the seventh before making birdies at the par-5 ninth, the 10th and par-5 15th.

Woods birdied the fourth, took his lone bogey at the seventh and birdied the par-5 ninth and 15th holes as well as the 12th.

"Just claw your way back into it," Woods said. "I figured the guys aren't going to go out and run off and hide on this golf course. It's just playing too difficult."

Masters champion Watson was undone by a double bogey at the 16th while 36-hole leader Furyk found the water at the 17th for a triple bogey that dropped him from a share of the lead. - AFP

All Blacks captain McCaw to take sabbatical

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 06:09 PM PDT

WELLINGTON: All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is to take an extended break from rugby, sitting out next year's Super 15 championship and the June Tests against France, Canterbury Crusaders officials confirmed Sunday.

The talismanic openside flanker and three-times IRB player of the year is to enact the six-month sabbatical clause in his contract in the hope it will help extend his playing days through to the next World Cup in 2015.

"It is definitely going to happen," Todd Blackadder, the coach of McCaw's Crusaders Super 15 side, told the Sunday Star-Times.

"Richie is going to take a sabbatical. He will probably be available after June. He won't be available for the Tests or Super Rugby, so he's going to get a good break."

The 31-year-old McCaw will play in the All Blacks remaining Rugby Championship matches against Argentina and South Africa over the next two weeks and the end-of-year tour to Europe before taking to the sidelines.

"He's going to see the season out with the All Blacks, then have a break. It will freshen him up and he'll come back and be good for the next couple of years," Blackadder said.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen also said he was in favour of McCaw having a break.

"If we want to get him through to the next World Cup, then it would be a good idea if he uses it at some point," he said before the team left for Argentina on Saturday night.

McCaw will be the second All Black to take a sabbatical, an option on offer to leading players in an attempt to keep them in New Zealand instead of chasing lucrative contracts overseas. Fly-half Dan Carter took extended leave in 2008.

All Blacks backrower Kieran Read has been confirmed as the Crusaders captain for next year and has also been tipped as a future leader of the All Blacks. - AFP

Reds first to clinch division title

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 06:08 PM PDT

CINCINNATI: The Cincinnati Reds became the first team in Major League Baseball to lock up their division title with a 6-0 rout of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.

Pitcher Mat Latos went eight solid innings, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips both homered as the Reds, 92-60, clinched their second National League Central division title in three years.

Latos, 8-2 in his past 17 starts, surrendered six hits and struck out seven without giving up a walk. He also didn't allow a runner to reach scoring position.

Todd Frazier drove in a run in the fifth inning and Zack Cozart hammered a two-run, bases-loaded single in the eighth.

Reds manager Dusty Baker missed his fourth consecutive game with a heart problem and was unable to join his players in the clubhouse to celebrate the clinching victory.

Dodgers pitcher Stephen Fife took the loss, surrendering two runs on five hits over five innings. Fife, 25, is still seeking his first major league victory.

The Dodgers remain in the hunt for the National League's final wild card spot but with the loss they fell three games back of the St. Louis Cardinals, who defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-4 earlier on Saturday. - AFP


The Star Online: Business

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Investing community divided on Astro

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 11:34 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Few recent initial public offerings (IPO) have stirred quite as much polemics as the return of Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd.

While industry observers say the new RM3 retail price for the comeback listing of Malaysia's largest pay-TV operator is "fairer" compared to the indicative RM3.60 set for bumiputra investors, the investment community is still largely divided on the stock.

One fund manager told StarBizWeek that despite Astro's historical price-to-earnings ratio (PER) shrinking slightly to 24 times based on the retail price and net earnings of RM629.6mil for the financial year (FY) ended Jan 31, 2012 he remained unconvinced and would not be subscribing for the shares.

"The cornerstone investors have their own agenda. There could be other reasons. Maybe they think there is a possibility of someone coming in to buy them out later at a higher price," he said.

He believed the funds who showed an interest might be doing so for indexing purposes.

"This is especially true for funds who track the benchmark KL Composite Index. They are buying into Astro for that and not so much for the growth of the company."

Another fund manager who spoke on condition of anonymity said he would stay out of the IPO as his fund did not need to have a position in indexed stocks.

"Astro will likely be a substantial component of the index so fund managers who follow it will hold out for a stake," he explained.

According to industry executives, Astro's management has guided for lower earnings and margins for FY13 and FY14 as the company converts the current batch decoders to high-definition, the cost of which is borne by Astro. This earnings erosion is, however, expected to recover by FY15.

Based on Maybank IB Research's net profit forecast of RM408.9mil for FY13 for Astro, the stock has an estimated forward PER of 37.5 times and dividend yield of 2%.

StarBiz reported yesterday that 22 cornerstone investors had been secured for Astro's RM4.5bil listing slated for Oct 13.

They include tycoon Chua Ma Yu, Kencana Capital Libra Investment Sdn Bhd, Great Eastern Life Assurance, Myriad Opportunities Masterfund, Nomura Asset Management, Antell Holdings Ltd, Azentus Global Opportunities Masterfund Ltd, Caprice Capital International Ltd, Corston-Smith Asset Management, Gordel Capital, Ochis-Ziff, TPG-Axon International, TPG Axon Partners, and Universities Superannuation Scheme.

The biggest of these was said to be state investment firm Permodalan Nasional Bhd.

As one analyst put it: "There was never much doubt about demand for the IPO despite concerns about its rich valuations.

"The naysayers may disagree with how T. Ananda Krishnan lists and relists his companies, but the market is used to this."

Asked to comment on the strong institutional interest garnered by Astro, a head of research said: "This is the classic case of too much money chasing too few assets. Malaysian institutional investors are deprived of investment ideas for their domestic portfolio."

Ananda, the country's second-richest man, took the satellite TV operator private in 2009 in a deal worth RM8.5bil.

The company is being relisted at RM18.7bil without its Indian and Indonesian operations, or 125% higher than when it was delisted three years ago at RM4.30.

Another head of research at a local bank-backed brokerage considers Astro a longer-term growth story.

"If you invest now, you are buying into a long-term story. Shareholders will have to wait it out," he said.

He added that margins were likely to see compression for the time being as Astro worked to switch some 1.5 million of its subscribers to high-definition.

However, he said Astro's management was confident it could bundle both TV as well as broadband offerings once the conversions were complete.

"They believe customers who today pay RM300 a month for both UniFi and Astro will trade that for a better price."

Related Story:
Positive response to Astro IPO

Up close and personal with Mansoor Ahmed

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 11:30 PM PDT

STUBBORNNESS is a trait that has served Volvo Malaysia managing director Mansoor Ahmed well.

As a rebellious young man, Mansoor was against his parent's wishes for him to pursue medicine or engineering.

"I never wanted to do either of them," the 51-year old tells StarBizWeek. "Those two were the most sought-after professions in India. Most parents wanted this for their children, and with good intentions. As a child, you don't understand that."

Worn down by his father's persistent nagging about the other children being accepted into this or that college, Mansoor exclaimed: "If this is just about qualifying for college, I will do that, but I won't go."

It was this same willfulness that would later spur him to take the path less travelled.

"One day my father returned home with a glum face and told me there was a letter on the table," Mansoor recalls.

He did not get into medicine, his father said. "Good. I would not have gone anyway," was Mansoor's retort.

"He asked me to read the telegram. And it said, Congratulations, Mansoor selected for engineering'."

Still defiant, Mansoor asked his father to frame the letter and that would be the end of that.

"I told my father to tell his friends I wasn't going. Then I spent a few months unsure about what I wanted to do."

The Delhi native actually had a different passion in mind: the arts. He knew, however, that acting and directing plays hardly made for respectable careers back then.

But after much counsel from family and friends, Mansoor relented. College beckoned.

Varsity days

At university, which was 150km from home, Mansoor says he learnt to fend for himself.

He studied mechanical engineering in Aligarh University in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where diversity was part of daily life.

"It was an amazing mix. Aligarh did not separate us by disciplines, so there were Mauritian, Iraqi, Palestinian students in my wing," he explains.

Mansoor claims he did "reasonably well" in college despite not putting in so many hours.

"There were those who were envious that I was spending a lot more time socialising than studying."

Then came the time for work placements, an activity facilitated by the university.

"When Tata did their selection at the campus, I was one of the three chosen," Mansoor says, adding that he bagged the job seven months before graduation.

"Those days you retired in Tata. They were much respected in terms of their human resource practices. But there was another option."

Mansoor explains that his father, an economics lecturer, was at the time attached to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"He was in IMF when I graduated, so I could have furthered my education in the United States. I chose Tata."

Revolving door

Mansoor got his start in the 1980s in Tata Motors, the automotive arm of the Tata group, as a sort of management trainee. Knowing from his research that all the new products were made in a manufacturing facility Poona, he decided early on that was where he wanted to be.

"I joined the plant, which was a fantastic rotational learning opportunity as we experienced different functions every three months. Then we would meet HR to negotiate our next assignment depending on our interest."

One spot Mansoor was keen on was maintenance. The chief there, however, had other ideas, saying he should first try his hand at manufacturing.

"He threw me a challenge: complete the manufacturing assignment and he would let me into maintenance. I did that in about five weeks. Then he wrote me a letter to maintenance."

Internal audit was another position he benefited a lot from.

"As an investigator, you view people with suspicion and start smelling a rat everywhere," he points out.

"That happens when you are doing your work unilaterally and coming to your own conclusions without really listening to anyone.

"It was a humbling experience that taught me to listen to the other perspectives because otherwise you don't see the whole picture."

At each juncture, Mansoor felt the need to up his game and seek new challenges. Was he ever intimidated about leaving his comfort zone?

"Unless you take risks, how do you stretch yourself and get what you want to achieve? Taking manageable risks is good," is his reply.

So what led him to leave Tata after 12 years?

Starting anew

"It came to a point where everything seemed perfect," Mansoor answers. "The concern was becoming complacent."

An opportunity then arrived for a senior role in Tata overseeing marketing for the Mercedes brand, which he applied for.

"HR intervened and said I was growing too fast and making it difficult for them to manage my batch mates," Mansoor says exasperatedly.

"It was not meritocracy. I was pissed off. A year later the national head of dealer position opened up. I told HR I didn't want to hear the same thing and applied for it. Again, I was the best candidate but was denied the job," he explains, adding that he became disillusioned.

It was around this time that Mansoor was headhunted by Sweden-based AB Volvo, the world's third largest maker of heavy duty trucks.

The Stockholm-listed multinational used to produce cars as well as commercial vehicles but hived off its car division to Ford in 1999 for US$6.45bil. This was later sold to China's Zhejiang Geely Holdings in 2009 for US$1.8bil, making it then the largest overseas acquisition by a Chinese automaker.

Both Volvo and Geely share the Volvo trademark, the former for its heavy vehicles and the latter for Volvo automobiles.

Mansoor still remembers heading out at 4am for the interview to make his way across the 250km between Delhi and Chandigarh where he was working.

Sufficiently impressed with what he saw and the executives he met, he took a leap of faith and agreed to join Volvo.

"Tata tried to convince me to stay. But I had made my decision," Mansoor remarks.

In 1997, he moved over to Volvo as its regional head for India, initially working out of the Swedish embassy as the company had yet to set up an office.

"I was coming from an influential job in Tata and making huge sales. Now I had to begin from scratch," he emphasises.

The obstacles, he shares, were many and varied. "We had to sell vehicles that were much more expensive, craft the value proposition, communication strategy, shelf life, efficiency.

"We bundled in cashless insurance, the first of its kind in India, assisted customers with financing their vehicles and operated 24-hour maintenance services. Even the car industry had not attempted that before."

In Volvo, a project Mansoor helped pioneer was the Asia trucks organisation, an assignment which posted him to Beijing, China for four years.

"Earlier, our brands (Volvo, Renault, Nissan, and Mack) were run vertically and competing with each other," he observes.

"We created the organisation to centralise operations and make decisions on group strategy for all the brands. It was the first time we did something like this and it was very successful, so much so that the US market followed suit later."

Local leadership

Having come on board in September last year, Mansoor has helmed Volvo's Malaysian business for about a year now.

Elaborating on his plans, Mansoor says he intends for the firm to be no.1 in terms of brand, sales as well as customer satisfaction.

"We want to be a dominant player in the truck business. There is a lot infrastructure development going on and we want piece of the pie.

Despite the threat of a recession and stagnant growth in the US and Europe, Volvo's local operations have done commendably, selling some 200 units in the year to July, exceeding what it sold for the whole of last year.

Mansoor adds that the company's market share had improved to 32% from 27% a year earlier, against a 25% rise in total industry volume.

Asked to describe his leadership style, Mansoor says he is consensual rather than dictatorial.

"Singularly I cannot think of all the solutions. Alone I am nothing," he explains, guru-like.

Something Mansoor stopped doing a long time ago was writing poetry. He assures, nonetheless, that he has no regrets leaving it behind.

"I still found ways to channel my creative impulses, for example in marketing," he quips.

On the management lessons gleaned throughout his 25-year career, the one that has stuck with him is to do right by the customer.

"It is when you least feel like meeting your customer that you should meet him the most," Mansoor says.

"If he is angry, you are giving him an opportunity to scream at you so he can empty himself. Then he will listen to your viewpoint. That is how you create a better relationship."

Next to that, Mansoor adds, is to tell the truth.

"I once told a buyer his truck would not come for four months, although my boss told me to do otherwise. It is pointless to lie knowing full well you can't deliver.

"Be honest and let the customer know the real situation. If I lie and tell him the truck will be ready in two months, and I fail to deliver, he will come every day to curse me until I give him the vehicle. At the end of it, you would have lost a customer."

BORN: 1961, India

PERSONAL: Married with daughter and son

HIGHEST QUALIFICATION: Degree in mechanical engineering, diploma in marketing management

NOTEWORTHY: A change agent

FAVOURITE FOOD: Mughlai cuisine

FAVOURITE PLACE: US west coast, Malaysia, Beijing, and Bangalore

HOBBY: Reading about a wide range of subjects

VALUES: Integrity, loyalty, honesty, and spiritually awakened

INSPIRATION: My father, who rose from an extremely humble background to a senior bureaucrat advising various finance ministers, some of whom became prime ministers and presidents of India.

Making Asean trade more accessible

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 10:38 PM PDT

THE establishment of the Asean Trading Link plays quite a large role in facilitating and increasing the accessibility of inter-Asean trade.

The link provides the connection on a single platform for seven different exchanges in six different countries to create more investment alternatives for investors.

Bursa Malaysia, Hanoi Stock Exchange, Hochiminh Stock Exchange, Indonesia Stock Exchange, The Philippine Stock Exchange, Singapore Stock Exchange and the Stock Exchange of Thailand had decided to collaborated under Asean Exchanges to drive Asean investment opportunities to other countries and to build Asean to have a world benchmarked asset class.

However, the connected exchanges would not be able to function well if not for a technologically advanced platform that would enable the connection in the first place.

Software and technology company SunGard, took on the onus of creating a trading platform for the purposes of the link. In June, the company announced that it had been selected for the task.

Now, SunGard in Singapore supplies the infrastructure for the link via its trading solution suite Valdi.

Investors are now able to route orders to the two exchanges that have joined the link, namely the Singapore and Malaysia exchanges, and receive market data from each via the central point of connection.

Account director for South-East Asia and India for SunGard's capital markets business Mathias Bellancourt tells StarBizWeek that the link would enable larger brokerage firms to have access to multiple trading platforms but this may require a significant investment from the brokerages to have ease of facilitating trades.

"The Asean Trading Link enables access through existing infrastructure to the respective exchanges, thus allowing brokers to focus on business and building key relationships, reducing the need to focus on connectivity," he says.

He adds that the smaller brokerages that tend to focus on domestic markets are now able to immediately broaden their products and services to their clients.

The trading link provides Asean exchanges, which are currently the Malaysian, Singaporean and soon-to-join Thailand exchanges with the ability to electronically facilitate cross-border trades.

Bellancourt says the system has been designed to match the standard of the exchanges. Should a higher capacity be required in future, the link can easily be upgraded.

"It has been through rigorous testing to ensure that it is on par with the standards set by the exchanges and compliant with local regulatory requirements," he says.

He adds that the measure of the infrastructure's complexity is relative to the different geographical areas, in view that the link connects exchanges and multiple brokers in different Asean countries.

"The link has been designed to be an "out-of-the-box" solution where an institutional investor already connected to one of the participating exchanges, can start accessing the link using their existing setup (with the necessary commercial arrangements with the exchanges in place)," he says.

With trading solutions that have been used worldwide by brokers, investors need not worry as much, and have peace of mind in terms of the security and effectiveness of the link. Participants of the exchange will have to wait-it-out to see if the system proves to be sufficient and effective enough.

In a statement that was released earlier in June, SunGard president of global trading business Raj Mahajan says: "SunGard's strategy is to help broker-dealers generate new revenue by helping them navigate the global trading environment cost-effectively."

It is worth noting that the link will also be connected to the SunGard Global Network, so that brokers and investors alike can send orders to other participating Asean members.

SunGard via its trade automation and activity solution system SunGard Global Network, and its trading solutions suite Valdi has supported accessibility into the Asean markets for many years.

"We will now work with the Asean exchanges to tailor these technologies to their requirements," Mahajan says.

The suite will provide global, multi-asset class order management, market access, liquidity and compliance management, as well as hosted services.

"The challenges would relate more to managing the growth of our business with larger client bases in an efficient manner, which is a "good problem" to have, if anything," Mercury's Chew says.

The trading link is promoting the Asean Stars, which feature a total of 180 blue-chip stocks representing 30 companies from each Asean country. These 30 companies are ranked by their investability in terms of market capitalisation and liquidity.

"With the promotion of the Asean Stars from the exchanges now available through a single platform, it is also an important first step in introducing new investment opportunities to local investors," Bellancourt says.

Related Stories:
Modest start for regional linkage
What trading link means for Singapore
What it means for Malaysia
The task of linking Asean bourses


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Amanda Bynes charged with driving on suspended license

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 02:13 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Former child star Amanda Bynes was charged with two misdemeanor counts of driving on a suspended license on Friday, after the actress was stopped and cited by police last week in Burbank city, police officials said.

According to documents obtained by celebrity website, Bynes was cited twice by the same airport authority police official on Sept. 16 - the second incident an hour and a half after the first - for driving on a suspended license near Burbank's Bob Hope Airport.

Bynes' black BMW was impounded and she is scheduled to appear at Burbank Superior Court by Oct. 16 to address the charges, according to senior assistant city attorney Denny Wei at Burbank City Attorney's office.

Bynes, 26, who had her own TV comedy sketch show on Nickelodeon at the age of 13, is also set to appear in court next week to address two misdemeanor hit-and-run charges, stemming from two separate incidents in April and August.

She was also charged earlier this year with driving under the influence when she hit a police car in April and will attend a pretrial hearing on Oct. 29. The actress has been involved in a string of minor car accidents and violations in and around Los Angeles in the last six months, and incidents of bizarre behavior.

Paparazzi who have been trailing her every move for weeks reported that she locked herself in the dressing room of a Hollywood clothing store for two hours last week, according to

Bynes, whose last film was "Easy A" in 2010, has strenuously denied drinking and driving. "I am doing amazing," Bynes told People magazine earlier this week, adding "I don't drink and drive. It is all false."

She also told People that she had retired from acting and was moving to New York to launch a fashion line.

Bynes' representatives did not return calls for comment on Friday. The actress joins a list of young celebrities whose careers and personal lives have derailed after early promise. "Freaky Friday" actress Lindsay Lohan, 26, is currently trying to make a career comeback after five years of trips to court, rehab and prison stemming from drug and alcohol issues.

Pop singer Britney Spears suffered a highly publicized meltdown in 2007 that resulted in her father being appointed to manage her affairs. Spears, now 30, made a successful comeback in 2009 and made her debut as a judge on TV singing contest "The X Factor" last week.- Reuters

At 82, relaxed Clint throws another curveball

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 07:26 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Clint Eastwood made headlines with his off-the-cuff Republican convention speech - and defies expectations again with his latest film, returning to the screen as an actor at the age of 82.

The Hollywood icon and "Dirty Harry" star, who plays an ageing baseball scout in "Trouble with the Curve," has long focused on directing, and even announced his retirement from acting after starring in the 2008 film "Grand Torino."

But he said he felt comfortable being directed by long-time producer and collaborator Robert Lorenz in the movie, which co-star Amy Adams.

Lorenz "did a terrific job. He was making noises about wanting to direct for some years," Eastwood told reporters Beverly Hills, presenting his latest movie which opens this weekend in the United States.

Eastwood is one of Hollywood's most respected actors, adored by generations of fans since he starred in the 1960s TV series "Rawhide," through Westerns like "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964) to his "Make my Day" period as Inspector Harry Callahan in the 1970s and 1980s.

As a director he won plaudits and Oscars - for 1992's "Unforgiven" and 2004's "Million Dollar Baby."

Eastwood's Republican political leanings have never been a secret - he was mayor of his hometown of Carmel, California in the 1980s - and he endorsed Mitt Romney as the party's White House candidate in early August.

But his bizarre speech at the Republican National Convention - famously including talking to an invisible Barack Obama in an empty chair - raised many eyebrows, with some wondering if the icon was simply, sadly, growing senile.

Eastwood appears to have enjoyed the bafflement, and dismisses the suggestion he is going gaga.

"When you get to a certain age, you're just glad to be there," he said with a smile. "I've been enjoying the journey to this stage and so I intend to enjoy the rest of the journey."

The ageing process is at the center of his new film: Eastwood plays an elderly Atlanta baseball scout, refusing to admit that he is going blind.

His daughter, played by Adams, is frustrated by her father's obstinacy and gruffness, and insists on joining him on a scouting trip to North Carolina, to try to break through to him.

Eastwood says he enjoyed being able to leave the director's hat off, and to get back to his acting roots.

"After 'Gran Torino' I kind of thought that this is kind of stupid doing both jobs," he said.

"And I thought, maybe I should just do the actor and allow myself a little bit of comfort zone. And this was the opportunity. So I just didn't have to do anything but watching Amy throw the ball."

He added: "It's quite relaxing because I can just sit back. I probably won't do both again, at least for a moment. But I said I wouldn't act again a few years ago, and that changed too, so sometimes you just... lie."

At the Republican convention Eastwood wasn't lying when he urged US voters not to re-elect Obama - but he admits that his decision to use an empty chair as a prop was literally a last-minute affair.

"I don't know if I'd do it the same way, I doubt it because I thought of that about five seconds before I was on stage," he said.

"When you walk out there you got an audience of 10,000 people extremely enthusiastic and your mind goes blank anyway."

In any case, he joked, the Tampa speech failed in at least one sense. "It didn't get the response that I wanted because I was hoping that they'd nominate me. That was my ambition," he said, smiling. - AFP


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Sea Is My Brother – The lost novel

Posted: 23 Sep 2012 05:19 AM PDT

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The Sea Is My Brother – The Lost Novel review by AMY DE KANTER

There's a little kid in author James Dashner

Posted: 23 Sep 2012 05:18 AM PDT

[unable to retrieve full-text content]James Dashner employs science to fix breaks in history in a new multi-platform series.

Nik A. Ramli's tribute to Donna Summer

Posted: 23 Sep 2012 05:17 AM PDT

An interior designer takes his passion and creativity to a whole new level when he pays homage to his favourite singer through a self-written and designed book.

IT was a time before music albums were released on compact discs when Nik A. Ramli stumbled across American singer and songwriter Donna Summer. On a show broadcasted by RTM in 1979, she performed Love To Love You Baby, and he was instantly hooked. He was nine years old.

"My sister later introduced me to Summer's On The Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II. Her timbre, the delightfully designed LP cover and the way the songs blended into each other instantly attracted me," the Malaysian says of the double compilation album released in October 1979, the third multi-platinum album to Summer's name.

Nik, who is the youngest of six children, spent his childhood in Kuala Lumpur, Terengganu and Malacca. He discovered a passion for interior design, and went on to further his studies in Britain, where he has been based for the last 21 years.

But his interest in Summer and her music never waned. Fast-forward three decades from his first encounter with her music, and Nik has written a book – his first! – about the queen of 1970s disco boom, who died in May at home in Florida in the United States after a battle with cancer. The five-time Grammy Award winner was 63.

"It is a very personal tribute, a music biography celebrating the late American star's musical success. I decided to write this book as a tribute to Summer and her creativity. It is a thank-you for all the joy she has given me and all her fans. She is a singer I have always adored, and writing and researching about her work was a fascinating venture," the 42-year-old interior designer states in an e-mail interview from London.

Interestingly, this book was never meant to be published. Compiling the material started out as a hobby in the 1990s; it was a matter of a young man gathering information about a singer he idolised that ended up becoming a book some years later.

"As I accumulated more information about Summer, I got organised and typed it out on my laptop. By January 2000, I had 26 A4 pages printed. Still, publishing a book was not something I thought of," says Nik.

Shortly after submitting a six-part TV drama script for a competition (his script didn't make the cut, which was just as well in hindsight, he says, because it would mean having to leave his job), Nik started inquiring about how to publish his work. A manuscript was mailed to Book Guild Publishing in 2009, and he was over the moon when they replied favourably to working with him.

"They wrote to say that they found it interesting, and would be pleased to work with me to publication. I was so thrilled! From then on, it was all systems go," he recalls.

Not that everyone else was crazy about the idea, of course. The idea of an interior designer attempting to write a music biography was met with a few raised eyebrows.

"Some people reckoned it was unacceptable. They thought that an interior designer should release a design book. But, you know, life is too short and I don't like to be boxed into one creative place. And don't get me wrong, I received a lot of encouraging feedback too," Nik shares.

Donna Summer: The Thrill Goes On documents the ups and downs of the performer's music career. Nik, who returns to Malaysia often as it remains his family home, describes it as an informative read that contains a lot of detailed facts.

"This project is a fair and constructive critical analysis of Summer's artistic legacy. It is a way to compile her recordings in succession and to communicate my understanding of her music for other people in relation to her musical landscape. Still, one can't help it if there is a bit of bias because, after all, she is my favourite artiste," he says, adding that Summer's music and album covers (she was said to have been personally involved in most of them) provided inspiration for some of his creative works.

Nik is able – with great difficulty – to pick a favourite song by Summer, Work That Magic (Capricorn ISA Remix), but finds it impossible to settle for a favourite chapter from his book. Indeed, he is even hard pressed to choose which part of the writing and publishing process he enjoyed the most.

"I loved every part including writing the chapter titles, editing the chapter numbers, research, interviews, the whole lot. I put my heart and soul into it. I had total control over the look of the book, the jacket design, even the layout of the photo plates. Am I a control freak? Yes! I have my vision and ideas and I worked closely with the publisher's design team to turn that concept into reality," he says, adding that he was privileged to have singer-songwriter Bruce Roberts, who was involved with Summer and Barbra Streisand's duet No More Tears (Enough Is Enough), write the foreword. The song was included as a new number on On The Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II.

Producing the book was no walk in the park, especially since Nik was working full-time during the initial phase of penning the manuscript for publication. He likens producing a book to a balancing act, with difficult aspects to tackle as well as having to get in the mood and be disciplined to sit and write regularly.

"The book is a research-based work. I am not a trained creative writer or a novelist, or ever claimed to be one, but it is what I think a music biography would be. I have written articles on interior design tips, but writing a factual book about someone popular is a totally different proposition. You don't really appreciate how much work is involved in producing a book until you have gone through the process itself," he says.

The 264-page Donna Summer: The Thrill Goes On, which was launched earlier this month in Mayfair, London, was being prepared for release during the time of her passing. Summer knew the book was going to be released; Nik had previewed chapters and information for her management just the month before she died.

"I was shocked when I heard about her death, no words could describe my feelings at the time. It didn't seem real. I was on my laptop inviting guests for the book launch when I heard the news. Just earlier that day, I had written a letter to Summer, inviting her to the book launch. May 17, 2012, will never be forgotten by her fans. She will always be missed and our prayers go to her family," says Nik.

Summer was once quoted as saying: "I'm just an ordinary person that did some extraordinary things."

And perhaps for Nik, and many of her fans out there, it will always be summer as long as her music plays.

> Donna Summer: The Thrill Goes On is available for purchase online. For more on Nik A. Ramli, go to Also, watch out for Nik's guest appearance on Hello On Two, TV2's live breakfast show, in November.


The Star Online: Nation

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PM: Legoland Malaysia to be catalyst for development

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 08:30 AM PDT

NUSAJAYA: Legoland Malaysia will be a catalyst to the Iskandar Malaysia development, a project aimed to thrust economic growth and elevate the socio-economic status of Johor, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Speaking at the official opening of the Legoland theme park by the Sultan of Johor, Najib said the opening of the theme park would provide new job opportunities as well as training programmes to develop skills of workers.

"By God's grace, we have reached another level through the efforts of all those involved.

"Today we can see the Iskandar Malaysia's growth as a leading economic growth region," he said.

Najib said what was important was to carry out development projects based on the principles and aspiration that can upgrade the value and stimulate high income economic growth.

Johor would directly benefit from such projects that are designed to also integrate benefits for the nation and the people to enjoy economic, social development and to boost job opportunities, business and quality of life.

"Such developments are the basis for the 1Malaysia concept of 'People First Performance Now. The opening of Legoland here is a dream come true for the people of Malaysia who had dreamt of enjoying a world class theme park abroad," he said.

"We need not go abroad to enjoy such a theme park because we have brought a world class theme park here to Iskandar Malaysia. We have proved that we too can build world class entertainment facilities for the people," he said.

Najib later announced that LEGOLAND Malaysia would give away RM500,000 worth of tickets (worth RM110 each) to schools and welfare homes in Johor and benefit 4,545 poor students from 15 schools and three welfare homes. - Bernama

Promote gourmet food to boost tourism, says Ng Yen Yen

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 08:02 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Local restaurants have been urged to work with tour operators to promote the gourmet's delights, thus generating revenue for all.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said restaurants needed to offer gourmet food packages as it was a new product for food tourism which had the potential to reap good returns for local tourism, apart form shopping, eco-tourism and sightseeing tour packages.

"Tourists are likely to pay more in their tour packages if there are gourmet food packages allowing them to dine either in Arab, Italian, French or other restaurants located in various places nationwide," she told reporters after launching the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF) 2012.

The theme this year is 'Classical Chefs - A Symphony of Great Cuisines.'

The MIGF 2012 will be held from Oct 1 to 31, with 28 of the country's very best restaurants taking part.

The MIGF is a month-long fine dining festival that draws visitors from throughout the world to taste and appreciate international standard cuisines available in Malaysia, and the expertise of the country's top resident chefs. - Bernama

Teenage security guard hacked to death in revenge killing

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 07:51 AM PDT

ALOR GAJAH: In what appeared to be revenge attack, a teenage security guard was hacked to death by four men armed with machetes at the Klemak industry area here.

M. Kuganthiran, 19, who sustained wounds on the neck, left hand and abdomen in the 6.50am incident Saturday, collapsed from his motorcycle, enroute to his workplace at a factory.

He died at 9.20am, while undergoing surgery at the Alor Gajah Hospital.

Alor Gajah police chief Supt Umar Ali Saifuddin Shaharudin said initial investigations revealed the killing could be linked to a fight in Tampin last Wednesday.

In that incident, a man was killed and three others injured.

Prior to the attack on Kuganthiran, the victim was riding a motorcycle when a car grazed the machine, causing the victim to fall.

"Upon seeing four men armed with machetes rushing out of the vehicle, the victim ran for about 100 metres before the men caught up with him. They then attacked the security guard," he said. - Bernama


The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Metro Watch

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 06:58 AM PDT


Chung Hua School Seremban former students Association for Kuala Lumpur and Selangor will host the 38th National Classical Singing Competition (Central Region) at the KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur at 9am tomorrow. The objectives of this competition are to raise the standard of classical singing and to promote the local classical songs; and discover the singing talents. For details, call 012-311 5810 (Ma) or 016-288 1802 (Emily).


Community group SeniorsAloud is organising a half-day seminar on "Retirement Living" from 9am to 1pm today at Wisma WIM, Taman Tun Dr Ismail in Kuala Lumpur. It is open to all Malaysians aged 50 and above who are interested in exploring options for retirement living. Admission fee is RM20. Proceeds go to senior citizens care centre. To register, contact Lily (012-306 8291) or Choke Ling (012-200 1929), email or visit


If the public has any pressing questions on erectile dysfunction they can just place their questions in the "We Love Query Box" which will be placed at participating chain pharmacies in Klang Valley alone. Questions will be addressed by a panel of qualified healthcare professionals. Privacy and confidentiality is assured. The "We Love, Sustaining Passions" campaign will run from September to December.


The National Blood Centre is having blood donation drives at Bright Steel Sdn Bhd in Shah Alam (9am-1pm), Majlis Amanah Rakyat at Jalan Raja Laut, Kuala Lumpur (9am-4pm), Wisma Felda in Jalan Perumahan Gurney (10am-3pm), Universiti Islam Antarabangsa in Petaling Jaya (10am-4pm) and Menara Star in PJ (11am-4pm). For details, visit

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 or visit


The Metro Toastmasters meets every second and fourth Thursdays of the month in Vistana Hotel, Kuala Lumpur at 6.30pm. The next meeting will be on Sept 27. For details, call 016-209 1192 (Maxson).


The Malaysian Diabetes Association will hold the a workshop on Insulin Therapy Symposium at the Summit Hotel, Subang USJ at 8am today. For details, call 03-7957 4062.

Saturday Events

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 06:58 AM PDT


The viewing of the Henry Butcher The Young Contempo Art Auction (TYCA) will be held at Black Box, Publika today and tomorrow. TYCA is a new initiative by Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers to provide a platform to showcase works of young and contemporary Malaysian artists. Featuring works by Cheng Yen Pheng, Fauzul Yusri, Haslim Ismail, Meme, Mat Ali Mat Som, Saiful Razman, Wong Chee Meng and many more. For details, visit or call 012-2275325/016-2980852


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


A Dhamma talk titled "Who is Real Buddhist Devotee" will be delivered by Ven Panamwela Wajirabuddhi who was ordained as a novice monk in 1980 and subsequently received a higher ordination in 1987, today from 8pm to 10pm at Chempaka Buddhist Lodge, No. 60, Jalan SS 23/25, Taman SEA, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. For details, call 03-7880 3936.


With the vast experiences in the art world for decades, the renowned printmaking artist, Mr. Loo Foh Sang presents his "Colourful Life"- colour ink-painting exhibition at Samadee Studio in Jalan Jalil 4, Bukit Jalil from tomorrow until Oct 24. "Colourful Life" explains his paths of walk through the world with experiences gained from the artistic field. Mr. Loo has painted wide variety painting of his life. Every stroke, every drop and every detail in his artworks indicate every little milestone of his true life. The studio opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm. For details, call 012-235 5661.


A Silent Walk In The Night (ASWITN) an event for children and youths with learning issues will be held today at Taman Jaya, Petaling Jaya. Organised by a group of volunteers, the fun-filled day will kick off at 3pm and run till 9pm. There will be stage performances by special children, games, sale of art,craft and food and free talks and counselling at a host of educational and informative booths. At sunset all participants walk in silence with a light, which symbolises the lives and achievements of those with learning issues. Please bring your own candle, torchlight and/or lantern to participate in the walk which will be at sunset. For further details on ASWITN call Rebecca 016-2207091.


Viva Opera and the Chinese Assembly Hall Choir are proud to present 'Sole e Amore', a vocal recital celebrating the many wonders of classical music that Italy has to offer at the KL and Selangor Assembly Hall at 8pm today. The songstress of this recital is none other than our very own Malaysian award-winning soprano, Cecilia Yap. She brings with her the best of both worlds: her Italian vocal training and her feisty Malaysian spirit. To make this a truly authentic Italian experience, she has invited world-renowned Italian pianist, Maurizio Col acicchi to be her accompanist. A much sought-after accompanist, Maurizio has played for many of the biggest names in opera. Tickets are priced at RM60 and RM100. Interested, call Samual Lim at 016-2199328, Ashley Tan 019-278 8497 or Miss Chern 016-203 1611.


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


Wei-Ling Gallery celebrates its tenth anniversary with two important exhibitions at its gallery in The Gardens from today until Oct 10. The first entitled 'Timeless' showcases works by 10 of the gallery's represented artists and includes some of the most important contemporary artists in the country. The second exhibition entitled 'Bright Young Things' highlights 10 emerging artists to watch. For details, call Constance at 03-2260 1106.


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