Rabu, 26 September 2012

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Malaysia-Market factors to watch on Sept 27(Thursday)

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 05:38 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Following is a list of events in Malaysia as well as news company-related and market news which could have an influence on the local market. GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks slip on Europe fears, Spain yields jump

SE ASIA STOCKS-Mostly down; Bank of Ayudhya block sales drag Thai index


* Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz delivers keynote address at a seminar on RMB Settlement for Trade and Investment in Malaysia: Future Prospects, Sasana Kijang, Bank Negara Malaysia 0900 am (0100).

* Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Peter Chin delivers keynote address at 4th National Energy Forum, Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur 0900 am (0100).

* International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed witnesses agreement signing on promotion and protection of Investment between Malaysia and San Marino, Zamrud Hall, Level 16, Block 10, off Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur, 1200pm (0200)

* Permodalan Nasional Bhd delcares dividend for Amanah Saham 1Malaysia, Theatrette, 2nd Floor, PNB Tower, 201-A, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur, 1200pm (0200)

* International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Datuk Mukhriz Tun Dr Mahathir launches ZICO law application, Parkview 3, 2nd Floor, Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur, 0500pm (0900)


> Nikkei drops as euro zone fear rears again

> S&P 500 falls a 5th day as euro-zone tensions escalate

> Prices rise as euro zone fears resurface

> Euro stays under pressure, eyes on Italy bond sale

> Gold down but off two-week low, EU debt crisis eyed

> Oil falls as Europe's crisis reinforces growth worries

> Palm oil falls on rising stocks, economic fears


> Vitol trades Iranian fuel oil, skirting sanctions

> Bursa Malaysia introduces rules to spur trade in bonds, sukuk

> Malaysia's PM to bet on generous budget as election looms - Reuters

DIARY - Malaysia-Sept 27 Thursday



SHAH ALAM - Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd launches Wakaf Selangor Muamalat at Concorde Hotel, Shah Alam at 0815am (0015).

KUALA LUMPUR - International Malaysia Law Conference 2012 second day at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre at 0900am (0100).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin Fah Kui delivers keynote address at 4th National Energy Forum at Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Kuala Lumpur at 0900am (0100).

* KUALA LUMPUR - The Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia (ICAA) and The Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA) hosts ICCA-MICPA Audit forum theme 'Corporate Governance in Insurance Companies - The Role of Audit Committee' at Sime Darby Convention Centre at 0900am (0100).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Molpay collaborates with MAD Incubator to boost e-commerce in Malaysia at Resources Centre, Technology Park Malaysia, Bukit Jalil at 0900am (0100).

KUALA LUMPUR - Bank Negara Malaysia Governor, Zeti Akhtar Aziz delivers keynote address at Seminar on RMB Settlement for Trade and Investment in Malaysia: Future Prospects at Sasana Kijang, Bank Negara Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur at 0915am (0115).

* PUTRAJAYA - Academy of Sciences Malaysia dialogue on 'Building National Commitment in Science and Technology' at Putrajaya International Convention Centre at 0930am (0130).

* KUALA LUMPUR - The National Cancer Council Malaysia, MNRB Holdings Bhd and Yayasan Tenaga Nasional Bhd launching Malaysia's first Mobile Breast Cancer Screening Unit at Sekolah Sri Cempaka, Damansara Heights at 1030am (0230).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Eastern & Oriental Bhd holds EGM at Sime Darby COnvention Centre, Kuala Lumpur at 1035am (0235).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) holds signing with Republic of San Marino at the ministry (MITI), Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur at 1200pm (0400).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Thailand Ambassador to Malaysia Thana Duangratana makes farewell courtesy call on Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin at Deputy Prime Miniser's Office, Parliament Building, Kuala Lumpur at 1200pm (0400).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Permodalan Nasional Bhd declares dividen for Amanah Saham Malaysia at PNB Tower, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur at 1200pm (0400).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin closes Literature and Language Festival at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur at 1500m (0700).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Mukhriz Mahathir launches Zico law application at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur at 1630pm (0830).

* PETALING JAYA - The Malaysian International Gourmet Festival (MIGF) 2012 Gala launch and press conference at Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre at 1700pm (0900).

* PUTRAJAYA - Prime Ministerr Najib Razak takes a look at preparations for tabling of Budget 2013 at Middle Block, Finance Ministry, Putrajaya at 2100pm (1300).


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of Aug 2012 Money Supply data


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 28 Sep 2012 and Aug 2012 External Trade data.


KUALA LUMPUR - Hack In The Box 2012 Conference at Intercontinental Hotel Kuala Lumpur at 0900 (0100). (October 8th-11th)


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of Aug 2012 Index of Industrial Production (IPI) and Aug 2012 Manufacturing Sales.


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of Sep 2012 Consumer Price Index.


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 15 Oct 2012


KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Aidil Adha.


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of Sep 2012 Money Supply data


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 31 Oct 2012


KUALA LUMPUR - Monetary Policy Statement and release of Sep 2012 Index of Industrial Production (IPI) and Sep 2012 Manufacturing Sales.


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of Sep 2012 External Trade data.


KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Deepavali


KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Moslem New Year.


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of 3rd Quarter 2012 GDP.


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of Oct 2012 Consumer Price Index.


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 14 Nov 2012


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of Oct 2012 Money Supply data


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 30 Nov 2012 and Oct 2012 External Trade data.


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of Oct 2012 Index of Industrial Production (IPI) and Oct 2012 Manufacturing Sales.


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of Nov 2012 Consumer Price Index.


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 14 Dec 2012.


KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Christmas Day.


KUALA LUMPUR - Release of Nov 2012 Money Supply data. - Reuters

VEGOILS-Market factors to watch Sept 27 Thursday

KUALA LUMPUR: The following factors are likely to influence Malaysian palm oil futures and other vegetable oil markets on Thursday.


* Malaysian palm oil futures ended lower on Wednesday, as investors stayed cautious on rising stocks and renewed fears about a slowing global economy on Spain's financing woes.

* Tumble on Europe debt jitters, end-quarter balancing

* Oil falls as Europe's crisis reinforces growth worries


* Stocks slip on Europe fears, Spain yields jump

* Oil, metals dive on Europe woes; soy near 3-mth low


> FOB Gulf Grain-Soy offers hold on moderate demand, lower futures - Reuters

Wall Street falls as euro-zone protests escalate

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 05:21 PM PDT

NEW YORK: Stocks fell on Wednesday as protests in Spain and Greece over euro zone austerity measures raised fresh concerns over Europe's ability to get its debt crisis under control.

Investors sold risk-sensitive sectors such as energy and tech, while they poured money into more defensive areas like utilities and consumer staples. The S&P technology sector declined 0.8 percent and the energy sector fell 0.9 percent, while S&P utilities <.GSPU> ended up 0.2 percent.

Violent protests in Madrid against expected austerity measures and growing talk of secession in the wealthy Catalonia region increased pressure on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he moves closer to asking euro zone policymakers for rescue money.

Meanwhile, Greece faced its biggest anti-austerity protest in more than a year as international lenders admitted to difficulty in working out how to solve Athens' debt crisis.

"When it gets down to it, there is real disagreement between the people in the streets and the policy maker," in Europe, said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.

"I think it's certainly causing some concerns" for investors, he said, adding, "The market's probably looking for an excuse to have a correction."

The S&P 500 is up 5.2 percent so far for the third quarter and 1.9 percent for September, historically a weak month for equities. Gains were largely tied to actions taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank to prop up their economies.

For the day, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 44.04 points, or 0.33 percent, at 13,413.51.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 8.27 points, or 0.57 percent, at 1,433.32.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 24.03 points, or 0.77 percent, at 3,093.70.

Volume was roughly 6.51 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the Amex, compared with the year-to-date average daily closing volume of 6.53 billion, even though many participants were out for the observance of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

Decliners outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by about 17 to 12, and on the Nasdaq by about 5 to 3.

Longer term, the outlook for stocks appeared more positive. While the S&P 500 wasn't expected to move much from its current level through the end of the year, according to a Reuters poll of analysts, it should advance in the first half of 2013, largely on central bank actions.

Also weighing on tech shares Wednesday, Jabil Circuit tumbled 9.9 percent to $18.90 after the technology company reported fourth-quarter earnings that missed expectations and forecast weak first-quarter results.

Other recent earnings warnings from companies including FedEx Corp and Caterpillar Inc have sparked concerns about global growth.

On the plus side, American Greetings Corp jumped 17.3 percent to $16.82 after the company said it received an offer to go private from a group led by its chief executive, valuing the greeting card company at about $580 million.

Economic data showed prices of new U.S. single-family home sales vaulted to their highest level in more than five years in August, the latest evidence the housing market was making progress. - Reuters

Samsung to shop for software to compete with Apple, Google and Amazon.com

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 05:15 PM PDT

SEOUL: Samsung Electronics, which has vaulted the value chain on the strength of its hardware, will go out and buy mobile content providers, a senior executive told Reuters, to compete with Apple, Google and Amazon.com in a global digital music market worth nearly US$9 billion.

The South Korean electronics giant has muscled its way to global leadership in TVs, smartphones, chips and display screens - packing internally sourced state-of-the-art components into consumer gadgets - but software remains a weak link.

"The message we're getting from the top is to raise software capability, and buy rather than build, if needed," Kang Tae-jin, senior vice president of Samsung's Media Solution Center, said in an interview. "Our focus on software is primarily aimed at driving hardware sales, rather than making money. We have a full range of handsets in so many countries, and, to better market our products, we thought it's better to start our own software business."

Apple's potential launch of an online streaming music service is prompting rivals to counter the iPod maker, which pioneered and still leads the digital music market. Success in today's mobile market means integrating products to seamlessly connect hardware and software.

In May, Samsung bought online music service mSpot and has built its own Music Hub service to compete against Android's Music Player, Apple's iTunes and Amazon's Cloud Player. Kang says Samsung is ready to do more deals.


The boardroom push, and Samsung's aim to grow Music Hub to among the world's top-four digital music services, has fuelled speculation that online streaming services such as Pandora Media and privately-held Spotify could become takeover fodder. Big content firms and broadcasters are jostling in a digital music market set to grow nearly a fifth this year, led mainly by streaming services.

Kang declined to comment on potential targets. "We want to grow the Music Hub to rank in the world's top four services within three years in both revenue and subscriber numbers. And to shorten the time, we're ready to do more acquisitions, if needed," he said.

"Mobile business is what Samsung is doing really well, and as a result we have deep pockets. We are very serious about content business, as we showed with the acquisition of mSpot."


Samsung has yet to prove itself in content, and remains some way behind Apple, which revolutionized the smartphone market in 2007 with an iPhone boasting seamless integration of software and hardware. Samsung's proprietary bada mobile platform has little traction in the smartphone market, and its ChatOn messenger service has yet to grip users.

The Koreans - who have tended to stick with alliances with content partners rather than go in-house - may be late to a crowded music market, but Samsung sees scope in leveraging its scale in hardware and some stand-out features of Music Hub.

"One of the great advantages we have over our rivals is that Music Hub is pre-installed in our flagship product and will be available later in a bunch of other Samsung devices," said Kang, who developed the Hangul 2000 software, a Korean equivalent of Microsoft's Word processor, and was poached from mobile operator KT Corp <030200.KS> in 2010.

Music Hub, available on Samsung's Galaxy S III smartphones in the United States and several European markets, combines all the key available music service options on a single platform - offering paid digital downloads like iTunes, a personalised radio service like Pandora, music upload to cloud like iTunes Match and Cloud Player. Users can access a catalogue of over 19 million songs - including the Korean hit 'Gangnam Style' that has taken the pop world by storm and topped iTune's download charts - and stream seamlessly to mobile devices. Apple says its iTunes Store has more than 28 million songs.

"Amazon, Google and Apple should really take note of Music Hub's radio service," Billboard said recently. "Whether or not the service is good, great or equal to something like Pandora really isn't the point. What's important is that Samsung has put the most mainstream of music products (radio) with less mainstream music products (downloads, cloud storage)," it said.


The toughest challenge is to turn around consumer perception that Samsung is only good at hardware, and to add killer apps to bind consumers to their Samsung devices.

"Pre-installing Music Hub on the Galaxy is powerful, but not enough," said Kang, adding there be more aggressive promotions, including month-long free trials and give-away albums.

That will put the squeeze more firmly on Pandora, Spotify and other online music firms that lose money as they depend on paid subscriptions and advertising but have no hardware to sell.

"We have an internal target to break even in software. But, in general, selling content won't make much of a contribution to the bottom line. We see other new business opportunities associated with content," Kang said.

Samsung plans to have Music Hub working on a range of consumer devices - from smartphones to Internet-enabled TVs and fridges - and is likely to ultimately want to monetize it by hooking up with an ad platform.

"We're preparing new services for launch early next year. With these offerings, people will start to think Samsung is good in software, too," said Kang, declining to elaborate on those launches. - Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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Ahmadinejad denounces "uncivilised Zionists," urges new order

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 08:32 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran's president said on Wednesday his country was under constant threat of military action from "uncivilised Zionists" and called for a new world order not dominated by Western powers in the service of "the devil."

President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures during his address to the 67th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 26, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar

President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures during his address to the 67th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 26, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar

In his eighth and likely final address to the U.N. General Assembly's annual gathering of world leaders, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad painted a gloomy picture of a world driven by greed rather than morality.

"The current abysmal situation of the world and the bitter incidents of history are due mainly to the wrong management of the world and the self-proclaimed centres of power who have entrusted themselves to the devil," Ahmadinejad said.

Iran's president did not reiterate his comments to journalists in New York on Monday that Israel has no roots in the Middle East and would be "eliminated.

However, he complained that nations were being forced to accept a new era of hegemony and added, in a clear reference to Israel: "Continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality."

On Tuesday, in his address to the General Assembly, U.S. President Barack Obama said he would do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from getting nuclear arms, adding that there is not an unlimited amount of time to solve the matter via diplomacy.

Israel and the United States have both refused to rule out the possibility of an armed strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, which the West suspects aim to produce atomic bombs but which Tehran says are for solely peaceful purposes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is due to speak at the United Nations on Thursday, has criticised Obama's position that sanctions and diplomacy should be given more time to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

He has called for Obama to spell out "red lines" that, if crossed by Iran, would trigger an attack, something the White House has so far rejected.

U.N. diplomats and nuclear experts say Iran appears to be making headway in building a research reactor that could yield potential nuclear weapons material, adding to growing Western concerns about Tehran's atomic aims.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu promised a tough response at the United Nations to Ahmadinejad's verbal attacks, which coincided with Yom Kippur, one of the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar.

"We are all united in the goal of preventing Iran from achieving nuclear weaponry," he said in open letter to Israelis before boarding a flight to New York.

"On Yom Kippur eve, sacred to the Jewish people, the Iranian tyrant chose to call publicly before all of the world for us to vanish. This is a black day for those who chose to remain in the auditorium and hear these hateful words," Netanyahu added.

Representatives of the United States, Canada and Israel chose not to be present in the U.N. auditorium for Ahmadinejad's speech on Wednesday.


Iran has been criticized at the 193-nation General Assembly for allegedly supplying arms to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crush rebels in an 18-month conflict that began with peaceful anti-government protests and evolved into a civil war.

Ahmadinejad has denied providing Syria with arms.

In the latest violence, a rebel bomb attack reduced the army headquarters in Damascus to a smouldering wreck, the biggest attack in the Syrian capital since July 18 when a bomb killed Assad's brother-in-law, the defence minister and a general.

While dozens of leaders have decried Syria's civil war at the General Assembly, none have offered concrete proposals on ending it.

Illustrating disagreements within the Arab world, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi said his nation opposed foreign military intervention in Syria a day after Qatar's leader urged Arab nations to intervene directly to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

At a news conference later on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad said Iran is "capable of avoiding and neutralizing" efforts to sabotage its nuclear facilities, while repeating that his country is open to talks with the United States.

"We are ready for a dialogue and a resolution of problems. ... We have never had any problems with the people of the United States," he said.

In his U.N. address, without mentioning the United States by name, the Iranian president took aim at Washington's global dominance, asking: "Are we to believe that those who spend hundreds of millions of dollars on election campaigns have the interest of the people of the world at their hearts?"

Ahmadinejad, whose own second and final term in office ends next year, said authority should be used as a sacred gift, "not a chance to amass power and wealth."

Iran is under sanctions imposed by the United Nations and Western powers for its refusal to comply with U.N. Security Council demands to halt its nuclear enrichment program.

Ahmadinejad said the 15-nation council, on which the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China all have vetoes, was dominated by "a limited number of governments," preventing the United Nations from acting in a just and equitable way.

Declaring that he represented "a great and proud nation that was a founder of human civilization," Ahmadinejad said: "There is no doubt that the world is in need of a new order and a fresh way of thinking."

His speech touched on issues he has raised in previous U.N. appearances, such as suggesting there should be an "independent fact-finding team" established to discover the "truth" behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and complaining about the "hegemonic policies and actions of world Zionism."

About a hundred opponents of the Iranian government protested across the street from the United Nations as Ahmadinejad spoke, bearing signs reading "Secular Democracy for Iran" and "Khamenei Dictator of Iran Must Go," referring to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

(Additional reporting by Randall Palmer in Ottawa; Writing by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Will Dunham)

Related Stories:
Netanyahu promises tough response to Ahmadinejad

Iran can neutralize sabotage of nuclear facilities -Ahmadinejad
Ahmadinejad's aide in prison as Iran president addresses U.N
Ahmadinejad hopes for better ties with Argentina after talks

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Chinese court upholds fine against dissident Ai Weiwei

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 08:15 PM PDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese court upheld a $2.4 million (1.4 million pounds) tax evasion fine against China's most famous dissident Ai Weiwei on Thursday, in a case that has badly tarnished the country's already poor human rights reputation.

"It's an extremely shameless court," Ai, whose 81-day detention last year sparked an international outcry, told reporters.

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei talks to a friend as he prepares to leave his studio in an attempt to attend his court case in Beijing September 27, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei talks to a friend as he prepares to leave his studio in an attempt to attend his court case in Beijing September 27, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray

"It didn't respect the facts or give us a chance to defend ourselves; it has no regard for taxpayers' rights," he said, adding he did not know whether now he had to pay to entire fine though he suspected he did.

Ai, 55, had asked the Chaoyang District Court to overturn the city tax office's rejection of his appeal against the 15 million yuan tax evasion penalty imposed on the company he works for, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd, which produces his art and designs.

"From the Fake tax case (we) can see that there's no fair justice in China," Ai added.

The case is widely seen by activists as an attempt to muzzle the outspoken artist, who has repeatedly criticised the Chinese government for flouting the rule of law and the rights of citizens.

Courts, controlled by the ruling Communist Party, rarely accept lawsuits filed by dissidents and appeals against official decisions are routinely dismissed.

The case comes on the heels of a score of other high-profile cases, including the fleeing to the U.S. embassy of blind, self-taught legal activist Chen Guangcheng.

Government efforts to silence Ai have frequently backfired, as demonstrated by an outpouring of public sympathy - and cash - in response to the tax penalty.

About 30,000 people donated money to help Ai cover an 8.45 million yuan bond required to contest the tax charges. Many of Ai's supporters folded money into paper planes that were flown over the walls of his home.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jonathan Thatcher)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

WikiLeaks' Assange mocks Obama via video at U.N. event

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 07:59 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaking via a choppy video feed from his virtual house arrest in London, lashed out at U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday for supporting freedom of speech in the Middle East while simultaneously "persecuting" his organisation for leaking diplomatic cables.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he appears to speak from the balcony of Ecuador's embassy, where he is taking refuge in London August 19, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he appears to speak from the balcony of Ecuador's embassy, where he is taking refuge in London August 19, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy since June to avoid extradition, made the comments at a packed event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Assange mocked Obama for defending free speech in the Arab world in an address to the United Nations on Tuesday, pointing to his own experience as evidence that Obama has "done more to criminalize free speech than any other U.S. president."

"It must have come as a surprise to the Egyptian teenagers who washed American teargas out of their eyes (during the Arab Spring) to hear that the U.S. supported change in the Middle East," Assange said.

"It's time for President Obama to keep his word ... and for the U.S. to cease its persecution of WikiLeaks," he said.

Assange's combative comments, plus statements made by Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino and his other allies at the event, suggested no solution is in sight to the diplomatic standoff surrounding the 41-year-old Australian.

British authorities have surrounded the Ecuadorean Embassy and said if Assange sets foot outside, they will arrest him and extradite him to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations.

Assange's lawyers and Ecuador's government fear that could lead in turn to extradition to the United States, where they say he would face "inhumane" prison conditions and even the death penalty.

Assange, who looked to be in good health as he sat at a desk in front of a bookshelf and addressed the 150 or so people at the event, said Britain and Sweden have so far refused to provide guarantees he would not be extradited to the United States.

U.S. and European government sources have countered that the United States has issued no criminal charges or launched any attempts to extradite Assange.


Patino is scheduled to meet with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in New York on Thursday to discuss Assange, and he said there are "multiple paths" that could lead out of the standoff. Yet, in an interview with Reuters following the U.N. event, Patino made clear that Ecuador is not willing to cede much ground.

"The ball's in their court right now," Patino said.

Patino held in his hands a mimeographed copy of an 1880 agreement signed between Britain and Ecuador, which he said prohibits extradition in cases such as Assange's. He said he would show the document to Hague on Thursday.

Patino rigorously defended Ecuador's decision to grant political asylum to Assange, expressing disbelief that Britain is "determined" to arrest the former computer hacker even though he said there are no criminal charges against him. "This means you have reason to suspect he's being persecuted," Patino said.

He said Assange is in relatively good spirits but expressed concern his physical and psychological condition could deteriorate.

"I think of myself, how I'd react in that situation, not being able to go outside, being isolated," Patino said. "It's practically like being jailed."

(Editing by Eric Beech)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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A slog for Nikolay

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 06:34 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Former champion Nikolay Davydenko was made to huff and puff before getting past lucky loser Sanam Singh in the first round of the Malaysian Open ATP 250 tennis tournament at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Davydenko, who made the semi-finals of the Moselle Open last week, was not moving at his best against Sanam and had to dig deep into his reserves to prevail 7-5, 6-4.

Sanam, who lost in the qualifying rounds, was elevated to the main draw after Slovakia's Martin Klizan withdrew from the competition.

And the India player was in such inspired mood that he pushed the experienced Davydenko all the way before the Russian came back strongly to win the match.

The 31-year-old Davydenko, who won the 2009 edition of the Malaysian Open, will face Denis Istomin in the second round after the Uzbek pulled off the shock of the day by beating sixth seed Pablo Andujar of Spain 6-3, 6-2.

"I didn't practice on the centre court before this match and it was definitely a slow start by me ... I also made quite a few easy mistakes," said Davydenko.

"I will have to improve more if I want to beat Istomin ... I need to have more speed and control from the baseline.

"Istomin is very good with his returns and I will definitely practise a little before the match."

Columbia's Alejandro Falla and Russia's Alex Bogomolov Jr are also through to the next round after fairly straightforward first round wins.

Canadian Vasek Pospisil, who came into the tournament as the lowest ranked direct entry, became the first player to qualify for the quarter-finals after beating qualifier Michael Yani 6-3, 7-5 yesterday.

"I'm very happy with the win and I'm looking forward to more good matches," said the world No. 122 Pospisil.

Hutchins loves cooking up a storm with his girlfriend

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 06:34 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: British doubles tennis player Ross Hutchins is no stranger to the kitchen, having doubled up as a baking assistant to his girlfriend of 10 years – Lindsay Wood – back home in Wimbledon.

"Yeah, I love being in the kitchen. My girlfriend's a great cook and she's really big on baking. She bakes everything under the sun – cookies, log cakes, speciality cakes, victoria sponges with fruits and whipped cream. I'm usually her kitchen assistant," said Hutchins.

On Monday, the world No. 37, who is here for the Malaysian Open, gamely donned a chef's hat and apron as he joined Alexandr Dolgopolov and Alejandro Falla in the kitchen at DoubleTree by Hilton to bake the hotel's signature chocolate chip cookies as part of the hotel's charity event – Baked with Care.

The cookies, which will be packaged into autographed tins, will be sold at RM50 per tin in aid of the Dignity for Children Foundation's mission to provide education for children living in poverty.

"I just think it's a brilliant event by the organisers to tie baking and tennis together. I'm really happy to be part of it, especially when it's for a good cause. I'm just not that skilled as you would have seen just now," laughed Hutchins.

A silver medallist in the men's doubles at the 2010 Common­wealth Games in Delhi, Hutchins loves nothing more than to unwind in front of the television set watching his favourite cooking shows.

"Lindsay and I watch a lot of cooking shows together. We're big fans of Ina Garten and her show 'Barefoot Contessa' but I also like Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and, of course, 'Man vs Food'," he said.

Hutchins' love affair with food does not end there as his girlfriend also bakes him treats to bring along while he's on tour.

"Yeah, she usually bakes cookies for me. It's usually things that have a long shelf life, so I can bring them on tour. The last one she baked was these chocolates nest that looked like little birds nest but I've finished them already," said the 27-year-old with a smile.

Hutchins will have to forget about baking for a little longer after he and his partner Colin Fleming booked their place in the quarter-finals by beating Alejandro Falla-Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-2 in the men's doubles first round on Tuesday.

Late-starter Yani is not done with tennis yet

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 04:34 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Michael Yani is no Andre Agassi, nor is he a Pete Sampras.

He is just an average Joe tennis player from the United States, struggling to make a living on the professional circuit and just one of the nice guys.

Since turning pro in 2003, the 31-year-old Yani has just amassed just a little over US$360,000 – a pittance compared to the astronomical amount the top players make.

Bu Yani, who was born in Singapore to a Chinese father and stayed there until he was eight, is just one of those guys who won't quit simply because he loves the sport.

Since becoming a regular at the Malaysian Open ATP 250 since 2010, Yani produced one of his best performances this year to get through three tough qualifying matches to make the main draw.

He then beat world No. 62 Brian Baker in the first round on Monday.

Yani's run finally came to an end at the hand of Canadian youngster Vasek Pospisil.

At almost 10 years younger than Yani, Pospisil proved too strong and won 6-3, 7-5.

But the journeyman Yani is not done yet.

He's definitely still going strong although others around his age, like Andy Roddick, have retired. "Well, Roddick may have retired but at least he had a slightly better career than me," joked Yani.

The affable Yani reckons that he still has a few years left in his body to keep up with the travelling and competing before falling back on a degree he obtained from Duke University years ago.

"I'm still playing because I love it. I love the travelling and playing around the world, although I do not make much money. Since I studied for a degree, I only started playing on the pro tour when I was about 23, which was about four years behind the guys," he said.

"I really don't know where I haven't played because I've been to so many places. But I would really like to go to South Africa and maybe more of Brazil."

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Two cops in critical condition after being shot by robbery suspects (Updated)

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 08:09 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Gunmen opened fire at two police personnel following a routine traffic stop, leaving the two in critical condition.

Federal CID director Comm Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin said the incident occurred around 6.45pm Wednesday when the two policemen spotted a Proton car being driven in a suspicious manner along Jalan Kuchai Lama.

"They chased the car for a short distance before it stopped near an intersection heading to Sri Petaling.

"The two policemen got out of their patrol car and approached the vehicle when the suspects opened fire," he told pressmen at the scene.

He said the two policemen, aged 41 and 51, and from the Brickfields police headquarters, were hit in the chest and neck.

"They were rushed to the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre when back-up arrived shortly after the incident.

"The suspects abandoned the vehicle about a kilometre away from the scene," he said, adding that police believed four suspects were involved in the shooting.

Comm Mohd Bakri said police were investigating the possibility that the suspects could have been involved in the robbery of a jewellery shop in Petaling Jaya earlier in the day.

During the robbery, a security guard died after he was shot twice by three robbers armed with a gun and two axes.

"We are investigating the case under Section 3 of the Fire Arms Act (Increased Penalties) and Section 307 of the Penal Code for discharging a firearm and attempted murder respectively," he said.

Comm Mohd Bakri added that the two policemen were in critical but stable condition.

"We are in the midst of taking statements from several passers-by who witnessed the incident," he said and urged those with information to contact the police hotline at 03-2115 9999 or the nearest police station.

Related Stories:
Guard shot dead in jewellery shop heist

Couple held over abuse of maid

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 07:20 AM PDT

JOHOR BARU: A husband and wife have been detained by the police to assist in investigations of alleged abuse of an Indonesian maid.

It is learnt that the couple, in their 20s, was arrested in Batu Pahat after they fled from their home in Taman D'Utama here to avoid being detained by the police.

It is believed that the couple had used hot water, a hot ladle and a hockey stick to abuse their maid.

Johor Baru (North) OCPD Asst Comm Ruslan Hassan said police arrested the couple at their relative's house at Rengit in Batu Pahat on Monday night around 9pm.

"After they avoided arrest twice, we learned that they were hiding in Batu Pahat. However, we managed to locate them.

"They turned themselves in after police arrived at the house," he said Wednesday.

He added that the couple was being remanded for seven days to assist in the investigations.

The case was being investigated under Section 326 of the Penal Code for causing harm using weapons, which provides for a jail sentence of up to 20 years and a fine or whipping upon conviction.

ACP Ruslan added that the maid was still receiving treatment for her injuries at the Hospital Sultanah Aminah.

It was recently reported that the 24-year-old maid had run away from her employers after being allegedly abused by them for the past nine months.

She claimed that her employers would get angry with her over minor things and beat her up.

Related Stories:
Bosses beat me with hockey stick'

Guard shot dead in jewellery shop heist

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 07:11 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: A security guard who had worked at a jewellery shop here for more than 20 years died after he was shot by armed robbers Wednesday.

The incident occured around 3.45pm when three men wearing full-face helmets barged into the shop along Jalan Othman.

One of the men brandished a pistol and shot the unarmed security guard twice at point-blank range.

The other two men then used axes to shatter the glass showcases and took the jewellery before leaving the scene on motorcycle.

Petaling Jaya OCPD Asst Comm Arjunaidi Mohamed said the security guard was rushed to the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre but died while receiving treatment around 6pm.

"We have identified the victim as P. Krishnan, 43. He suffered two gunshot wounds to the chest and arm," he said when contacted.

He said the motorcycles were later found abandoned at Jalan Carey, about 1.4km from the crime scene.

"We have acquired CCTV footage from the crime scene to facilitate investigations under Section 4 of the Firearms Act and Section 302 of the Penal Code," he said.

He urged anyone with information to contact the police hotline at 03-2052 9999 or the nearest police station.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Putting Sarawak on the map

Posted: 25 Sep 2012 11:27 PM PDT

DESPITE having been only in existence since 2006, the Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB) has been tirelessly promoting the state as a viable destination for conferences.

But, Mike Cannon, SCB's new managing director, says this does not mean simply bidding for every convention or conference willy-nilly.

To date, SCB has supported 206 convention bids, which has resulted in estimated direct delegate expenditure of RM215mil in Sarawak. This is just the amount spent by convention delegates on their hotel rooms, transport, meals and other miscellaneousexpenditures.

In 2011, SCB supported 56 convention bids.

Cannon said SCB aims beyond just direct expenditures and immediate tourism benefits.

"Whenever we bid for businesses and associations to hold their conferences in Sarawak, the criteria we look out for is that the convention should bring added value in some way to the people and communities in Sarawak.

"For example, if we manage to land a dental conference in Sarawak, it also means that we are bringing in outside knowledge, added value in terms of education to our own dental professionals when the latter attend."

"More than that, it also means trade opportunities coming because when you have these sort of professional conferences and trade shows, equipment and other manufacturers or importers come in as well," Cannon said.

He added that there is a corporate-social-responsibility aspect to the "added value" segment.

Often, such conferences, especially those for medical fields, also organise trips for their delegates into Sarawak's interior to help the indigenous peoples in any way possible.

"Sometimes the delegates spend maybe the night or even the whole day at the villages, before riding back via boat and four-wheel-drive vehicles to the conference location, and that is the adventure part we sell," said Cannon.

Indeed, "Where Business And Adventure Meet" is the tagline SCB is marketing to potential clients, leveraging on the East Malaysian state's "freshness", given that SCB has only been in existence for six years.

Cannon explains that the freshness factor for conference locations dip after about a decade.

"But by then, we will also have established our core values, or principles as a conference destination. Which is what we're offering now, business and adventure in one location."

"You can be in a workshop in the morning, then helping to clean out the orang utan habitats in the afternoon, or helping out with longhouse construction after the conference sessions.

"That is the beauty of Sarawak as a conventions destination," said Cannon.

While the main cities of Sibu, Miri and Kuching play host to many of the conference bids won by SCB, there have also been out of the way places such as the Mulu Caves, which Cannon said was the location for an archeological conference and perfectly suited its subject matter.

Of course, clever marketing plays a huge role in presenting Sarawak as a convention centre, and Cannon and his team are always looking for new ways to beat international competition, especially with rivals in both South-East Asia and China, nevermind worldwide.

"Once, we decided to use postcards from Sarawak, and we slipped the postcards under the doors of over 250 delegates.

"Throughout the event, we had about 50 delegates come and thank us for the postcards, especially in this day and age of email."

"Sure, not all of the 50 delegates are going to turn into clients either, but they will talk about it, things get spread through word of mouth, and our recognition increases.

"Basically, our competitors, from the US, Australia and Europe wanted to beat me up for the rest of the event," Cannon joked.

The competition is huge though, Cannon admits, as countries such as China and Australia, not to mention the more established places such as the US, have much deeper pockets.

Extra funds translate into better marketing material, not to mention a better ability to sponsor conventions to be held in their countries or cities.

"This means that we have to pick our battles carefully, bid on the business where we already have a high possibility of winning coupled with a high return on investment," said Cannon.

Having to choose their battles means that rather than trying to bid on as many conferences to fill up a year, Cannon and SCB have opted to bid for a rolling number of events in three year blocs.

This, he explained, helps make the conferences that the SCB manages to land more manageable.

"What a lot of people do not realise is that bids to land conferences are won a few years in advance. So the medical conference you are going for later this year? That was landed by the winning bidder back in 2009 or 2010," said Cannon.

It also means that rather than feasting one year on several conferences in the state, then starving the next, there is a consistent number of events being held in the state which makes for more predictable performance and bottom-line.

"It is also seasonal. For 2010 we had more international conventions and seminars, while last year there were more national conferences.

"What we are also doing is creating our own national-level events, which may come bi- or triannually, but it's Sarawak's," said Cannon.

However, this does not mean that SCB's objectives conflict with the newly-established Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau and both the state and federal bodies work together to ensure that there is no conflict of interest.

Attempt to smuggle 2,900 packets of cigarettes into Pontian foiled

Posted: 25 Sep 2012 11:24 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: The Marine police had thwarted an attempt to smuggle 2,900 packets of cigarettes into the country in Pontian.

Region Two Commander Asst Comm Zainul Abidin Hasan said his men had spotted a boat entering Sungai Pontian Kecil on Friday night.

Police then gave chase on the boat that ran aground.

"Two men then jumped out from the boat onto the muddy shores and run towards an undergrowth.

"We later inspected the fibreglass vessel and found several gunny sacks containing cigarettes covered under a fishing net."

Police believed that the contraband was smuggled from a neighbouring country.

ACP Zainul added fibreglass and its outboard engine was seized and the case is now being investigated under the Customs Act 1967.

"We busted five smuggling cases involving illicit cigarettes our neighbouring country and the total value of seized items are worth RM597,883.

"Last year, 10 cases were reported with items worth RM2.9mil seized from the smugglers.

"We will increase our coastal patrol to curb such activities."

Members of the public who have information on illegal activities such as human trafficking and smuggling are advised to contact the police at 07-237 2222 or 07-237 6122.

Residents told to be prepared for water cut

Posted: 25 Sep 2012 11:24 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Kota Tinggi and Pengerang residents are advised to store enough water during a 12-hour water disruption tomorrow.

Syarikat Air Johor Holdings Sdn Bhd corporate communication head Jamaluddin Jamil said the disruption, between 10am and 10 pm is due to maintenance work at the Sg Lebam water treatment plant in Kota Tinggi.

The affected areas are Gugusan Adela, Kg Muhibah, Tanjung Serindit, Ladang Sg Papan, Kg Pasir Gogok, Kelapa Sawit Adela, Terminal Feri Belungkor, Tanjung Belungkor, Tanjung Surat, Sabana Resort, Kg Bukit Gelugor, Kg Bukit Raja, Sg Rengit, Taman Rengit Jaya, Sg Kapal, Penggerang, Kg Lepau, Pularek, Teluk Ramunia, Kg Baru Punggai, Batu Layar, Felda Air Tawar 5 and other nearby areas.

Those with enquiries can contact the SAJ information centre at 1-800-887474 or SMS 109-7727474 or email to customer.care@saj.com.my.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

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School’s in session

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 03:26 AM PDT

The writer's unfortunate experience with school makes her understand her priorities on her kids' education.

IN my last column, I talked about my younger daughter Lauren having a hard time starting school. I also said that I thought the bad spell would last for a while (my estimate was months), judging by how bad the separation anxiety was, and it was BAD.

It just shows how little I know; she was okay by day four. Four days. That was all it took.

Frankly, she made me feel a little silly for making a big deal about how heart-wrenching it was for me to see her go through such a hard time. I became the drama queen instead of her.

Why can't she rant and rage for at least two weeks, and lend a little legitimacy to my previous column? Noooo, she had to go and be sensible and get her head around school in four short days. I am mortified. Children are so ungrateful these days.

I have to admit, now that both kids seem happy in school, I can breathe easier.

I remember hating school a lot when I was little. It was such a sterile place, with teachers that did not seem to care very much about the students.

Of course, there were 50 of us crammed into one class, with just one teacher who was probably trying her best to hold things together.

We were segregated into groups A, B and C; A being the "clever" group, B for "borderline" and C for "dumb". I kid you not.

During the 11 years that I spent in the school system, kids were routinely categorised and pigeon-holed. If you were smart from day one, you would probably be labelled as such throughout your academic life, unless you somehow lost your grip on the ability to get straight As midway, at which point your teachers would dismiss you in disappointment. "Whatever happened to XXX? She had such a bright future! She's turned stupid all of a sudden."

Something like that happened to me. Somewhere between Forms Two and Three, I lost all interest in my studies. Things came to a head in Form Four when I slacked through Physics and History the ENTIRE year, not listening to a single thing my teachers said in class. How I got through the year-end examinations, I'll never know.

By the time SPM rolled around, I knew I was a goner. At that point, I had missed not only a year of Physics but two. It was amazing how easily kids could slip through the cracks in the school system; I wasn't listening in class for two years, yet my teacher could not detect anything because I dutifully filled in my lab books, and handed in homework when it was due. The system wasn't able to catch that I did not understand a single thing I wrote.

My SPM results were way below expectations. According to my track record, I was a shoo-in for straight As. I only got two As – for English and Mathematics.

My experience with school has given me a clear idea where my priorities should be when it comes to my kids.

While academic excellence would be a bonus, the main thing I hope for is that they enjoy school. I hope that they love their teachers and vice versa, because effective teaching really is about a relationship between student and teacher that is filled with mutual respect and understanding.

I hope that they make good friends, because I remember the only thing that got me through the bad days in class were my handful of best friends.

I make it a point to talk to my daughters, and not just about lessons, but about what they did in school that made them happy that day.

With Angelica, it was often about learning a funny rhyme from a friend, or admiring a new piece of stationery someone had brought to school.

Occasionally, she would come back with new knock-knock jokes, or a new game she learnt. Lauren's definition of a perfect day so far has been about getting a chocolate bun during snack time, being given stickers and getting a double portion of fruits at lunch.

After all, how much of what we learned academically in school do we use in our daily life now?

n Elaine Dong thinks our education system needs an overhaul. She blogs at angelolli.com.

Children, about that teacher ...

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 02:33 AM PDT

What should parents tell their children when authority figures behave badly?

WHEN Pang Sze Ann read in April about her former school principal being charged with having paid sex with an underage girl, the 11-year-old "felt a little angry".

She says: "He had put Pei Chun Public in the spotlight for a very bad reason."

She was referring to Lee Lip Hong, who had been principal of Pei Chun Public where she studied from Primary 1 to 3.

She had already been studying at another school, Tao Nan, for more than a year when the reports emerged.

Her mother Teresa Wee, 47, a housewife, says she and her husband discussed the matter privately and brought it up with their daughter only when Lee's name was cited in media reports in April.

"I told her I had something important to tell her – that he had slept with an underage girl and was caught," says Wee, who is married to a fund manager and lives in a semi-detached house in Serangoon, Singapore.

"I asked her, 'Are you all right?', and she says she was shocked but 'okay'," says Wee. "I told her that for a person in a high position, especially an educator, the impact of his lapse in standard is greater than for someone who isn't."

Following reports of Lee expressing his wish to make amends to his family after his jail term, Wee says: "I said to my daughter that I could respect him more as he has learnt from his mistake and shielded his wife and kids from the incident."

For her part, Sze Ann says she has "worked it out" – that she should still respect other educators based on their actions, including her current principal, Dr Chin Kim Woon, who "stands at the gate every morning to greet parents and pupils".

There have been numerous reports of authority figures to children falling from grace.

In July, a former teacher in her 20s from a top secondary school was investigated for allegedly having sex with a member of one of the school's sports teams, who is now 16.

A coroner's inquiry two weeks ago into the death of a 16-year-old student at ITE College East, Chiu Ka Ying, found that she had jumped to her death.

Investigations showed that she had confided in a friend that a lecturer had molested her, The New Paper of Singapore reported.

How do parents handle the issue of respected figures who bring disrepute to the profession and betray the trust of young ones who look up to them?

Housewife M. Fong says if she had her way, she would rather not discuss such a thorny issue with her children. The less they know of the seedy side of life, the better, she adds.

Fong says she talked to her youngest child, a Pei Chun pupil, about ex-principal Lee's case only because the eight-year-old boy brought it up about two months ago.

"His classmates were talking about it as they must have discussed it with their parents," she says.

"I told him that in school, if you do something wrong, your principal or discipline master will come after you. Outside school, the law takes over," says Fong.

Her son, too young to further the discussion, had simply nodded, she says.

Parents may not be "natural-born counsellors", says clinical psychologist Dr Carol Balhetchet.

But their "biggest mistake would be to put their heads in the sand", minding only day-to-day fires or school grades, adds the director of youth services at the Singapore Children's Society.

"The best way to deal with such issues is to ask your children questions: 'How do you feel about what you have just read? What is the word going around with friends?'" she advises.

That is what IT sales director Basil Lee, 40, and his wife Elizabeth, 39, do with their two older children – Gabrielle, nine, and Ian, seven. The youngest, Nathan, is one.

The family lives in a four-room flat in Ang Mo Kio in the city-state. The couple use reports in the newspapers to teach their children lessons in avoiding "folly", although none of their children has experienced a situation where a respected person let him or her down.

Lee says that he tells his children that if a teacher does something wrong, he would raise the issue with the school.

He adds: "I will give the children time to work out their anger but teach them not to judge a person for the moment of weakness. Maybe in a year's time, the person could change for the better.

"So, they should still respect other good people in authority."

P. Tan, a teacher of more than 40 years, says she will encourage her pupils to continue to respect authority "if the person has the boldness to account for his wrong".

"But if he is in denial, then I will tell the children to think about the negative values he is exhibiting."

As far as M.F. Zhen is concerned, one errant teacher should not dent her children's trust in others. Her son is 16 and her daughter is 15.

Zhen and her husband are in their 40s. The family lives in a semi-detached home in Paya Lebar. Her children study at two premier schools which have been in the news because of their teachers' sexual indiscretions.

Zhen's son says: "The lapse of judgment by one or two teachers should not bring down the good work of all the good teachers and coaches we've had, and our opinion of people in authority." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Caring for gender development of children

Posted: 25 Sep 2012 08:47 PM PDT

How we can better care for the gender development of our children.

SO the recent reported "guidelines" for parents and teachers to spot lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) tendencies of their children and students have sparked much discussion, objection and even ridicule. I guess the only good thing that came out of it was that it did create awareness of LGBT issues after all, for better or for worse.

The truth is, LGBT issues are getting increasingly common nowadays. People are more outspoken and open about them. Indeed, the subject is highly controversial, political even.

Like it or not, we have to address it on one level or another. Be it from a religious or humanistic standpoint, from the human rights perspective or our personal conviction.

We cannot ignore the issue just because we don't know enough or we disagree with it and therefore don't want to know about it. Ignoring the matter will not make it go away.

Many of us parents used to worry about our teens or tweens getting involved in BGR (boy-girl relationship). Now, we have a different challenge. What do you say to your tweens (eight to 12 years old) if they come home from school and ask you: "Mummy/Daddy, what is gay? Can two men get married?" How should we respond? If talking about sex education with our children already makes our faces turn red, addressing highly sensitive LGBT issues may very well cause us to turn pale!

We are living in a world where wrong seems right and right seems wrong. In fact, when writing about LGBT issues, I am well aware that I may be politically incorrect.

Hence, rather than focusing on how to spot LGBT tendencies or debating who is right or wrong, it is more important that we think about how we can better care for the gender development of our children and raise our next generation to be secure in their gender identity.

You may have heard many different words and phrases related to LGBT. Here are some definitions to help us be more informed (adapted from emedicinehealth.com):

> Gender identity: Your internal sense of whether you are male or female.

> Sexual orientation: How you are attracted romantically and sexually to other people – to the same sex (homosexual), to the other sex (heterosexual), or to both sexes (bisexual).

> Lesbian: A woman who is homosexual.

> Gay: A man who is homosexual. "Gay" is sometimes used to refer to both men and women who are homosexual.

> Bi: A short, informal way of saying "bisexual".

> Transgender: People who don't feel that their gender identity fully "matches" their physical sex or other body characteristics.

> Transsexual: People who use medical treatments, such as hormone medicine or surgery, to make their bodies match their gender identity.

> Straight: Heterosexual.

> Ally: A heterosexual person who fully accepts and supports his or her LGBT friends or family members.

> In the closet: A person who realises that he or she is gay and keeps this a secret is "in the closet" or "closeted".

Sexual orientation and gender identity are related, but they aren't the same thing. For example, a person can be transgender without being homosexual.

During the sexual changes of puberty, issues of gender identity and sexual identity become especially relevant for teens. Dr Melvin W. Wong, a US-based clinical psychologist, mentioned in his book A Practical Guide To Raising Gender-Confident Kids that gender identity and orientation has a lot to do with early childhood parenting.

Gender identity formation begins as early as 18 months and most children believe firmly by the age of three that they are either girls or boys. Both the father and mother play a very important role to help the child become secure in their gender.

When secure attachment has been established with the parents from young, he/she will find it easier as they enter puberty.

Gender role socialisation becomes very intense during adolescence. In early adolescence, males and females (and important adults in their lives) are especially vigilant to ensure gender role conformity (Steinberg & Morris, 2001).

Parents and families have the potential to be an important stabilising influence in the development of adolescent sons' and daughters' identities. Family structure provides an important environment in which identity development occurs (Archer & Waterman, 1994).

Two important concepts are individuation (where youth are encouraged to develop their own identity) and connectedness (which provides a secure base from which the youth can explore their identity).

Parents and others can help the youth reflect on their identity and achieve a strong and healthy sense of self by facilitating both individuation and connectedness. This applies to the development of gender identity and also to other aspects of youth identity, including religious identity and family identity.

As we become more aware of LGBT issues, may we be open to learning more so that we can do a better job as parents and caregivers in the gender development of our children. Hopefully then, they can grow up to be gender-confident adults.

n Charis Patrick is a trainer and family life educator who is married with four children.

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