Selasa, 2 Oktober 2012

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Lena Dunham vows to put some color into 'Girls'

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 07:02 PM PDT

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif : "Girls" writer, director and actress Lena Dunham said on Tuesday she was adding new, more diverse characters for the next season of her HBO show, after criticism that the first season failed to portray the rich culture of its New York City setting.

And the 26-year-old, who often sheds her own clothes on the show, also acknowledged that, most of the time, "it's not a good idea to be naked on television."

Dunham broke out this year as one of Hollywood's hottest young stars with "Girls," winning four Emmy nominations for her comedy about four 20-something women who find that work and relationships in New York have little of the glamour seen in 1990s show "Sex and the City."

Although Dunham took home no Emmys this year, her success earned her a speaking spot on Tuesday at Fortune magazine's annual Most Powerful Women Summit.

Answering questions in front of hundreds of female business leaders, Dunham said she took seriously criticism of "Girls" and its lack of minority characters. She said she felt "heartbreak at the idea that the show would make anyone feel isolated."

The show's second season next year will feature "a multitude of new characters in the show. There are some of color. Some are not. Some are Caucasian," she said.

Dunham said she was responding to viewers "who are women of color who want to see themselves reflected on screen." "All I want to do is make women feel excited and included by the show," she said.

Addressing her frequent nude scenes, Dunham said she felt they were appropriate because she was the person deciding when to take her clothes off in front of the camera.

But she generally advised against it.

"There may be a time when I have to explain to my daughters, 'You probably shouldn't be naked on television.' Most situations, it's not a good idea to be naked on television," said Dunham, who is single.

"I like doing it because I'm my own boss. I'm writing it. I'm directing it. I'm producing it," she said, adding that she would refuse to strip for another TV director.

As one of the youngest people to write and star in a television show, Dunham said she feels pressure to represent younger women well so she doesn't create a backlash that would hurt others trying to blaze a path in Hollywood.

"I don't want to do anything that is going to make them think 'this is why we don't give shows to 25-year-old girls," she said, joking that "I'd love to have a small dog, (but) I don't think it would be good for all of us if I were to carry a small dog to set with me."

"Girls" returns for its second season on HBO in January. - Reuters

Doctor Gangnam-style

Posted: 03 Oct 2012 07:27 AM PDT

A modern-day plastic surgeon from Gangnam gets abducted 700 years into the past by an ancient warrior in the sublimely hilarious Faith: The Great Doctor.

BEFORE you scream "Not another time-travel K-drama!", let me just mention one name – Lee Min-ho.

Yup, Faith: The Great Doctor is the much anticipated follow-up to City Hunter from the Boys Over Flowers star, and I have to say that this is worth the wait. The only snag for Lee and his fans is that his co-star, Kim Hee-sun (Smile Again, My Fair Lady), is stealing the show with her lost-in-time Gangnam plastic surgeon character in this fusion-sageuk (historical) drama.

We first meet Kim's Yoo Eun-soo at a medical convention in modern-day Seoul.

Eun-soo is so desperate to get funding for her own private clinic where she can continue her stem cell research that she is willing to marry for money.

A fortune-teller tells her that she is indeed going to meet the man of her dreams, but he comes from her past. As she wracks her brain for an ex-boyfriend rich enough to be her benefactor, she is ambushed by a man in a steel armour who commands her to go with him – the Queen is dying and she needs to be saved to avoid a political catastrophe. When Eun-soo politely declines, he throws her over his shoulder and storms off.

The costumed kidnapper literally turns out to be a knight in shining armour from the Goryeo period (some 700 years ago), Choi Young (Lee), who has gone to the future through a time-bending portal. The only thing is he thinks modern-day Seoul is heaven and that Eun-soo is the legendary doctor of God. Unable to wrap her mind around the theoretical physics of her predicament, Eun-soo convinces herself that she is being held captive in a sageuk drama production gone wrong, and resolves to escape and return to Gangnam.

Unfortunately, international pop star Psy does not come riding on a white horse to rescue her! But there are still buckets of laughter here.

The best thing about this drama is the writing, which is witty and layered.

While the central story revolves around the love affair between the doctor and the warrior, screenwriter Song Ji-na, who is better known for her complex serious dramas Story Of Man and Sandglass, links it well to the historical context and sageuk spirit.

Amazingly, Song manages to infuse a lot of humour into the show while weaving in a sharp look at the political war between the reluctant young ruler, King Gongmin (Ryu Deok-hwan), and his scheming nemesis Ki Chul (Yu Oh-seong), brother of the Qi Empress of the Yuan Dynasty. (History lesson: Goryeo then was under the "influence" of the Chinese Yuan Dynasty, which tried to accede the Korean kingdom by manipulating the royal family.) It may not be roll-on-the-floor comedy, but the wry humour will make you laugh out loud, especially when you least expect it.

Song even slips in real historical facts to create personal conflicts for the characters: Eun-soo, for one, has to save the life of a teenager, Yi Seong-gye, whom she remembers from her history lessons would later grow up to be King Taejo, the general who overthrew the Goryeo Dynasty and founded the Joseon Dynasty.

Of course, for Eun-soo, it is the realisation that he is also the one who would kill her love Choi Young in the future that makes her loose sleep. Talk about the power of history! How does one handle knowledge like this?

This is the interesting question posed by Faith in this current time-bending trend gripping K-dramaland. While many create fictional figures or avoid the question altogether, Faith ponders on how all this time travelling can affect history.

It is not all sombre though. When Ki Chul growls at Eun-soo, "Do you wish to die?", she simply growls back, "Is this guy's name Ki Chul? Oh right, I remember! Yuan doesn't stick around much longer and ends in ruin!"

This cheeky poking at the trend keeps the series fresh.

Even the predictable fish-out-of-water quandary is given a twist – the joke is not on Eun-soo in the Georyo kingdom, but the royals and their subjects who have to deal with the modern whims of the cynical doctor.

Kim simply runs riot with her "Get over fighting for the throne already, I want to get back to Gangnam" stance, creating many fun moments in the drama. It is no wonder that hottie Lee is overshadowed. To be fair, he gives his usual top-rate performance, and the two leads share a lot of chemistry. Unfortunately, to create good fodder for Kim's hysterical and over-the top Eun-soo, Lee has to keep stoic and restrained. It is an interesting casting, but I bet many fans are praying that Lee will come alive soon.

Faith: The Great Doctor airs every Monday and Tuesday at 9.05pm on One HD (Astro B.yond Ch 393).


The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

China banks pull out of IMF Tokyo meet amid island row - WSJ

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 08:31 PM PDT

TOKYO (Reuters) - Several major Chinese banks have cancelled participation in the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank to be held in Tokyo next week, the Wall Street Journal said on Wednesday, the latest sign that a territorial row is starting to hurt broader ties between Asia's two biggest economies.

Chinese lenders that have pulled out of International Monetary Fund-related events include Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of Communications, while Bank of China officials have yet to decide whether to attend the meetings, the newspaper said.

"Quite frankly, it's Japan-China relations," the paper quoted an official at the Tokyo branch of Agricultural Bank of China in explaining why the bank was pulling out.

Japan is scheduled to host the IMF and World Bank annual meetings for the first time in nearly half a century. About 20,000 people are expected to attend the event, making it one of the world's largest international conferences.

Sino-Japanese relations deteriorated sharply after Japan in September bought the East China Sea islets that both Tokyo and Beijing claim, sparking anti-Japan protests across the country.

Japanese automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co are cutting back production in China following the anti-Japan protests that shuttered dealerships and darkened their sales outlook in the world's biggest car market.

The disputed group of islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, are located near rich fishing grounds and potentially huge oil and gas reserves. Taiwan also asserts its own sovereignty over the islets.

China has sent its patrol ships into what Japan considers its territorial waters near the islands in recent weeks, prompting Japan to lodge protests against China.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

China banks pull out IMF Tokyo meet amid island row - WSJ

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 07:36 PM PDT

TOKYO (Reuters) - Several major Chinese banks have cancelled participation in the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank to be held in Tokyo next week, the Wall Street Journal said on Wednesday, the latest sign that a territorial row is starting to hurt broader ties between Asia's two biggest economies.

Chinese lenders that have pulled out of International Monetary Fund-related events include Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of Communications, while Bank of China officials have yet to decide whether to attend the meetings, the newspaper said.

"Quite frankly, it's Japan-China relations," the paper quoted an official at the Tokyo branch of Agricultural Bank of China in explaining why the bank was pulling out.

Japan is scheduled to host the IMF and World Bank annual meetings for the first time in nearly half a century. About 20,000 people are expected to attend the event, making it one of the world's largest international conferences.

Sino-Japanese relations deteriorated sharply after Japan in September bought the East China Sea islets that both Tokyo and Beijing claim, sparking anti-Japan protests across the country.

Japanese automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co are cutting back production in China following the anti-Japan protests that shuttered dealerships and darkened their sales outlook in the world's biggest car market.

The disputed group of islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, are located near rich fishing grounds and potentially huge oil and gas reserves. Taiwan also asserts its own sovereignty over the islets.

China has sent its patrol ships into what Japan considers its territorial waters near the islands in recent weeks, prompting Japan to lodge protests against China.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Trudeau scion hopes for Trudeaumania 2.0 in Canada

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 06:21 PM PDT

MONTREAL (Reuters) - The charismatic son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declared his candidacy for the leadership of the Liberal Party on Tuesday, hoping to recreate the sort of buzz that made his father prime minister in 1968.

Justin Trudeau said he was entering the race to lead Canada's oldest political party to serve his country.

"I love this country, I want to spend my life serving it. This is why tonight I am offering myself for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada," Trudeau told a packed hall in Montreal for the well-publicized announcement.

Because of his name and an army of more than 150,000 Twitter followers, Trudeau has become the immediate front-runner in the race to head a party that has become a pale shadow of itself, reduced last year to third place in Parliament for the first time in its 145-year history.

Trudeau, 40, has a youthful magnetism that he hopes to leverage into a reprise of "Trudeaumania," the wave of popularity that engulfed Pierre Trudeau in the go-go years of the 1960s.

In his speech, Trudeau signalled that like his father, he was for a united Canada and a foe of separatist forces that have long dogged politics in his home province of Quebec. The separatist Parti Quebecois was returned to power in a narrow victory in September.

"I also want to build a country ... worthy of my dreams. But for me it goes from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Great Lakes to the great North," he said to the cheering throng.

Trudeau, a former school teacher who is married with two children, is embarking on a cross-Canada tour to drum up support for his leadership bid, beginning in Calgary, Alberta, where the Liberal party has little voter support.

An inevitable question pundits raise is whether Trudeau, who has registered few accomplishments in his four years in parliament, will be able to convince Canadians in the 2015 election he has the substance needed to be prime minister.

In the run-up to Tuesday's announcement, he highlighted just four, relatively minor policies on the issues section of his website

His critics will say he is running on his name, which carries the same dynastic weight in Canada as Kennedy or Bush in the United States.

He will also be vulnerable to attacks for having speculated in February about backing Quebec separatism if Canada moved too far to the right, a surprising view given his late father's staunch opposition to Quebec independence.

His Liberal Party has been squeezed on the left by the New Democratic Party, which replaced it in 2011 as the official opposition, and on the right by the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Liberals governed Canada for nearly 69 years in the 20th century, but were reduced to only 19 percent of the popular vote in last year's election.

An online poll taken last week as news emerged of his impending candidacy saw a Liberal Party under Trudeau leaping to the lead with 39 percent support. The same poll showed that without Trudeau, the Conservatives would be back in first place, the NDP in second and the Liberals in third.

Analysts caution that until his policies become better known, such a survey was not a reliable predictor of an election result. It does, however, give some indication of Trudeau's potential impact.

(Writing by Randall Palmer in Ottawa; Editing by Russ Blinch and Eric Walsh)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Jazeman mulling move to World Series or GP2

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 07:05 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Jazeman Jaafar is considering moving to a more challenging series after his runner-up finish in the British F3 International Series.

Jazeman is setting his sights on either the World Series by Renault or the GP2 Series next year as the natural career progression after achieving his best overall placing in the British F3 championship.

Jazeman was sixth overall last year but stamped his mark this year for his Carlin team and was in the title mix until the last race.

The 19-year-old was quick and consistent in each of the 10 race weekends and enjoyed 15 podium finishes as he took the title fight down to the wire.

"Hopefully, my next move will continue to be supported by Petronas. I hope other corporate sponsors will also show their support as it can't just be Petronas doing it all alone.

"I hope to test the cars in both the World Series by Renault and GP2 before the year is over. My decision will be based on which cars I'm more comfortable with as the they are more powerful than those in British F3," he said.

The GP2 Series and World Series by Renault are the ideal training ground for drivers before they get into Formula 1.

They are run as support races during the F1 weekends. Stars like Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean are among former winners of the GP2 Series while Robert Kubica and Heikki Kovalainen were notable past champions of the World Series by Renault.

The races are longer with pitstops and the cars run on F1 tyres, but Jazeman is optimistic he can handle the challenge.

"Over the last three years in British F3, I've matured as a driver and honed my driving skills to get the results I felt I was capable of achieving," said Jazeman.

"It's been an exciting journey and I've been improving with each season. I was 12th in my first year, sixth last year and now second, so it's been a great three years of F3.

"I look forward to another exciting year with new challenges and new championships," added the Formula 1 hopeful.

As an elite athlete, Jazeman will continue to follow a strict fitness regime, including a winter programme of endurance activities.

His coach of five years, Bruce Jouanny, said Jazeman is disciplined and shuns night life even though he is based in London.

"His life is boring as it has lots of physical preparation and conditioning when he isn't behind the wheels," said Jouanny.

"He has already proved what he's capable of and has to get ready for the next stage of his career.

"He needs to step up his physical training over the winter break as he has to put on more weight to handle the heavier cars."

Jazeman is the youngest and only Malaysian winner of the Formula BMW Asia Pacific (now known as the JK Asia Racing series) in 2007.

Wei Feng wants Gold

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 07:09 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: National singles shuttler Chong Wei Feng has been playing with an extra spring in his step lately.

His rise to No. 27 in the world rankings has made him the national No. 2 and boosted his confidence ahead of the Taiwan Open GP Gold, which starts in Taipei today.

The 25-year-old Wei Feng is one of the most improved shutlers this year and has been playing with an air of confidence since coming through the qualifiers to make the second round of the All-England in March, before losing to world No. 2 Lin Dan.

He has also achieved several creditable results of late, notably making the quarter-finals of the Japan Open last month and the Singapore Open in June.

Wei Feng's performance in Japan is certainly laudable as he recovered from a terrible start to produce a stunning finish in beating home favourite Kenichi Tago in the first round.

The Kedahan is quietly confident of his chances in Taipei, where he will face seventh seed Alamsyah Yunus of Indonesia, who is now ranked lower than him at No. 29.

"I have played Alamsyah once and lost in three close games. He will still be the favourite because of his experience but I am out for revenge and I believe I can take him out," said Wei Feng.

"It's great to finally climb up the rankings ... it has given me more confidence.

"But what matters most is not about being ranked second in the country because my main focus is to continue playing well. I am seeking to do that in Taipei."

If he beats Alamsyah, Wei Feng will face local lad Chun Shih Kuei in the second round, with Hong Kong's Chan Yan Kit a potential third round opponent.

Besides Wei Feng, the other Malaysian shuttlers in the fray are Liew Daren, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, Misbun Ramdan Misbun, Iskandar Zulkarnian Zainuddin, Goh Soon Huat and KLRC's Zulfadli Zulkifli.

Of the lot, world No. 28 Daren has a clear shot at making the semi-finals at least following the withdrawals of several top players, including world No. 10 Tago and world No. 19 Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka. The only other recognised top player in his half is in-form world No. 15 Hu Yun of Hong Kong, seeded fifth here in Taiwan.

In the men's doubles, the Malaysian pairs competing are Mohd Lufti Zaim-Teo Kok Siang, Chooi Kah Ming-Ow Yao Han, Nelson Heg-Teo Ee Yi. The professional duo of Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif are also taking part in the tournament.

Hatta makes smashing return as karate exponents excel in Bangkok

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 04:38 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Former Asian champion Mohd Hatta Mahamut (pic) made a successful return to competition after a one-year absence as the national team flexed their muscles with a nine-gold show in the inaugural South-East Asia (SEA) Karate Championships in Bangkok.

Hatta overcame Indonesia SEA Games bronze medallist Hendro Salim in the men's individual kumite below 84kg final to mark his comeback after he was sidelined by a knee injury last year.

Hatta became the first Malaysian winner of the men's 84kg kumite title at the Asian Karate Championships in China in July last year but it came at a price as he sustained the injury there.

He had to undergo surgery and subsequently missed the chance to defend the SEA Games gold medal won two years earlier in Laos.

Hatta was one of the five Malaysian gold medallists in kumite with Indonesia SEA Games champions Loganesha Rao, Shaharudin Jamaludin and K. Teagarajan also living up to their billing in their respective categories.

G. Yamini was the only Malaysian woman kumite exponent to take gold in the below 61kg event.

Two-time Asian champion Ricky Leong Tze Wai led the way in the kata (performance) discipline as he avenged his SEA Games defeat by Indonesia's Faisal Zainuddin in the men's individual category and rallied his team-mates Kam Kah Sam and Lim Chee Wei to victory in the team event.

Thor Chee Yee, the Kuantan Sukma gold medallist, secured the women's individual title and added a second in the team event with Celine Lee and Khaw Yee Voon.

The nine-gold performance paved the way for Malaysia to finish second in the overall medals tally behind Indonesia, losing out by just one silver. What made it sweeter was that Malaysia only sent the seniors and did not contest in the junior categories.

Former Asian Games gold medallist R. Puvaneswaran, who is handling the national squad together with Latvian coach Andris Vasiljevs, was pleased with the performance of the exponents ahead of the World Championships in Paris next month.

"The SEA championships were just a warm-up for Paris. I'm happy with most of them as they gave a good account of themselves. Hatta did well as he hasn't competed for more than a year after his knee operation.

"He missed the chance to defend his Asian title and, hopefully, this will give him the confidence to win his place in the world championships," said Puvaneswaran.


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

KLCI higher in early trade, plantations fall

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 06:19 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips advanced in early trade on Wednesday, supported by gains in banks, as the FBM KLCI approached its all-time closing high of 1,654 on Sept 4.

At 9.04am, the KLCI was up 1.65 points to 1,652.68. Turnover was 35.78 million shares valued at RM26mil. There were 90 gainers, 46 losers and 80 counters unchanged.

Hong Leong Bank rose 12 sen to RM13.52 while Maybank added six sen to RM9.18. Petronas Gas gained 10 sen to RM19.52.

Adventa added 10 sen also to RM1.89 after it declared a one-off proposed distribution of RM1.70 a share.

Eng Kah was the top gainer, up 48 sen to 60 sen. KrisAssets added 28 sen to RM2.55 while E&O and DiGi added five sen each to RM1.73 and RM5.37.

However, plantations fell, dragged down by the steep fall in crude palm oil prices. Sime fell 21 sen to RM9.53, KLK 14 sen to RM21.90 while FGVH shed four sen to RM4.83 and TSH three sen lower at RM2.20.


UMW Toyota opens body, paint centre

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 06:15 PM PDT

KLANG: UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd has officially opened its flagship body & paint centre in Bukit Raja as part of the development of the company's Integrated Quality Hub (IQH).

"The body and paint centre, sited on 5.7 acres, forms an integral part of UMW Toyota's RM200mil IQH on a vast 87.5-acre plot which was previously launched about a year ago," said the company in a statement yesterday.

The company said the integrated facility was established for all of the pre-delivery activities before vehicles were delivered to UMW Toyota outlets.

"The main objective is to improve the delivery lead time so that Toyota customers can enjoy quality vehicles, fresh from the factory. The RM200mil IQH itself forms part of UMW Toyota's bigger RM1bil investment plans until 2013.

"The body and paint centre is specially designed to be environmentally friendly and has met all the environmental requirements will particularly enhance UMW Toyota Motor's after sales service experience for our customers as it is designed to meet their expectation of high quality repair works within the shortest possible time frame."

The facility would also be the model and training centre for other body and paint centres in Malaysia, the company said, adding that it was equipped with 42 work bays, four paint booths and state-of-the-art repair equipment, with a repair capacity of over 6,150 units per year.


Timber industry resilient

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 06:14 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysia Timber Council (MTC) forecasts a 5% growth for the timber industry based on the strong demand in the furniture sub-sector and signs of improvement in the US economy.

MTC chief executive officer Cheah Kam Huan said: "Hopefully by the year-end, the whole industry can see growth of 5%."

The United States, Malaysian timber's second largest market after Japan, was showing signs of economic improvement, he told StarBiz.

The overall timber exports improved marginally by 0.3% in the first half of the year compared with the corresponding period last yearwhile furniture exports rose 12% in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year.

"Our industry is quite resilient because we export to many markets. For furniture alone, we export to 150 countries," he said.

Malaysia's exports of major timber and timber products contracted by 2.4% to RM20.03bil in 2011 from RM20.52bil in 2010 due to the slowdown in the global markets.

"Ultimately, the target is to hit RM53bil worth of timber exports by 2020," he added.

He said industry players had to look to growth markets like the BRIC (Brazil, Russsia, India, China) countries, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Oman and also South-East Asia.

MTC also encourages timber players to produce value-added products.

"Instead of exporting sawn timber and plywood in the raw form, they can export flooring products.

"Based on calculations, value improved by seven times when raw timber materials are made into furniture," he said, adding that the industry was competing against other building materials like glass, aluminum, steel and concrete.

MTC will hold a three-day MTC Global Woodmart which will start tomorrow at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

A total of 118 exhibitors from 20 countries are expected at the event.


The Star Online: Nation

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Anifah Aman delivers Malaysia's statement at UN General Assembly

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 08:14 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman delivered Malaysia's statement at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York recently.

A statement from the ministry said Anifah touched on issues such as extremism, human rights, Syria, Palestine and the reform of the United Nations (UN).

The statement said that during the 67th UNGA session from Sept 23, Anifah attended several high-level meetings, including on the rule of law, peace-building - the way towards sustainable peace and security and countering nuclear terrorism and the UN Alliance of Civilisations Group of Friends Ministerial Meeting.

Anifah also met his counterparts from Bahrain, Sudan, Cyprus, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt and Sri Lanka and discussed bilateral issues.

The statement also said that on the sideline of the session, Anifah met Deputy Secretary of State of the United Sates of America William J. Burns and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

The statement said that during the meeting, Burns commended Malaysia's effort to overcome extremism and promoting peace through Global Movement of Moderates and both parties discussed issues on Palestine, the conflict in Syria as well as Iran's nuclear programme.

Anifah also touched on the upcoming D-8 Summit to be hosted by Pakistan on Nov 22 this year in his meeting with Khar who said that Pakistan was looking foward to the participation of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the summit.

The statement said Khar also explained on the current security situation in Pakistan to Anifah and invited Malaysian businessmen to invest in Pakistan especially in tourism and resort development. - Bernama

RCI on Sabah illegals starts investigations

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 06:32 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Investigation officers appointed by the Commission of Inquiry to tackle the issue on illegal immigrants in Sabah have begun their probe.

Confirming this, its secretary, Datuk Saripuddin Kasim, said in a statement that the investigation followed the appointment of the members by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, effective Sept 21. "The Public Prosecutor has appointed investigating officers pursuant to Section 16 of the Commission of Inquiry Act 1950 (Act 119) to investigate any matter relating to the terms of reference of the Commission," said Saripuddin.

The media had previously reported that the terms of reference for the Commission, among other things, was to investigate the number of immigrants in Sabah who had been given the identity card or citizenship.

The Commission would also investigate whether immigrants in Sabah who possessed the blue identity card, temporary identification receipt (blue) or citizenship in an illegal manner had been registered in the electoral roll.

It has been given six months from Sept 21 to complete the investigation.

The investigation report must be submitted to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. - Bernama

Salesgirl, boyfriend nabbed for staging 'kidnap'

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 05:33 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: A salesgirl's plan to dupe her mother into parting with RM10,000 in 'ransom' by allegedly faking her own kidnap, went awry when the police saw through her ruse.

The 20-year-old and her 18-year-old boyfriend, believed to be her accomplice, were caught napping at a hotel room in the Genting Highlands Theme Park.

The police went to the hotel at about 11.30pm on Monday, following a report lodged by the woman's cousin, seven hours earlier, after the salesgirl's mother received a call from a 'kidnapper'.

The 'kidnapper' reportedly told the mother that the salesgirl had been kidnapped and that the family should bank in RM10,000 into her daughter's account to secure her release.

The police did not buy that.

Selangor CID chief SAC Mohd Adnan Abdullah said a police team went to the hotel at the theme park and caught the duo.

"The suspects were believed to have planned to extort the money from the girl's family by hatching a fake kidnap," he said, adding that the money was not handed over to couple.

He said the suspects have been remanded until next Saturday. - Bernama


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Remembering Nigeria's civil war

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 07:13 PM PDT

NIGERIA'S Chinua Achebe (pic), often called the father of modern African literature, released his first major work in years last Thursday with a long-awaited memoir centred on the war that nearly destroyed his nation.

There Was A Country: A Personal History Of Biafra chronicles Achebe's experiences during Nigeria's 1967-1970 civil war, which saw his native eastern region, dominated by the Igbo ethnic group, secede as the Republic of Biafra.

The split came largely in response to massacres of Igbos in Nigeria's north and saw Achebe, author of the revered novel Things Fall Apart (1958), speak out forcefully in support of the move.

The tensions that ignited the Biafran conflict, which left around one million people dead, including many from starvation, are largely settled.

Experts, however, say a Biafra memoir from the 81-year-old Achebe is urgently needed in a country that remains deeply fractured on other levels.

"Achebe is sustaining the debate on integration, on unity and on oneness," says Dapo Thomas, a history professor at Lagos State University.

The octogenarian remains a towering figure in Nigerian and African literature, though he has been based in the United States in recent years where he has been a professor at Brown University in Rhode Island. He travels infrequently due to a 1990 car accident that left him in a wheelchair.

Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart, about the collision between British colonial rule and Igbo society, remains a landmark work 54 years after its release.

"Just as we read Shakespeare, it's not possible for any student in this department to graduate without reading the works of Chinua Achebe," says Adeyemi Daramola, head of the English department at the University of Lagos.

His legacy is secure in Nigeria but his absence has been felt, says Daramola. "For Achebe to have been away for so long, we have indeed missed him." – AFP

American author shares his Malaysian thoughts in debut novel

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 03:57 PM PDT

An American author with a Malaysian connection — including a love of durians! — shares his thoughts on his debut novel.

I WAS given a copy of The Blackberry Bush by a dear friend recently. Having been reading some serious books of late, it was a refreshing change indeed. The story of Josh and Kati, interwoven into historical events of the 20th century, is not only heart-warming but forces you to think about your own life. It is a story of love, forgiveness and redemption.

As I turned the pages, I was reminded that we are all journeying on in life, physically and spiritually. I reckon anyone who reads this book will come away with a very personal verdict of what this book is all about, and what it means to him.

So instead of reviewing it, I decided to e-mail author David Housholder, currently a pastor based in California, for his thoughts about the book.

The Blackberry Bush is obviously going to be the first in a series. What is your overall vision for the series?

Yes, the prequel, Amber Eyes, is almost finished. I designed the main characters (11 of them) before working out the story line, and just let them do what came naturally. Joshua's grandmother, Adri, was a character just screaming for her own book. So I gave it to her. Her story will describe her younger life and adventures.

How long did it take you to write this book and how has the response been so far?

I write very quickly, about 2,000 in two hours, every day. So it did not take long. The response has been strongest among those who enjoy deep and complex themes and storylines. Educated women in their 20s have been the primary buyers of the book. Over half of the fans on the novel's Facebook page are from India! Our best reviews have come from Turkey, especially one from a Muslim reviewer. Also, English teachers and book clubs are using it, because it comes with a study guide in the back.

The book digs into inter-cultural themes. To what extent is your own life, based on your travels and stays in many different parts of the world, interwoven into this novel?

All novels are autobiographical. This one is no exception. We have a three-continent family. My wife was born in Malaysia. I was born in the American Rocky Mountains. Our son was born in Germany. Imagine a kaleidoscope with little events from my life as coloured glass. I just kept turning it round and round until I liked the pattern. And then I wrote it down.

Your family also has a history in our part of the world. Can you share with us the connection?

My wife was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur. Her father was managing director for Anglo-American. I have also worked among the orang asli (helping them build native stilt homes and eating heaps of durian!) and what I enjoy most about Malaysia is makan-makan – best food in the world. I also love Lat cartoons.

Malaysia will be featured in the sequel, with one scene already written that takes place in the Batu Caves.

You dream and work for a better world, how?

I believe that our Creator is in charge and that His project will not fail. I also have a lot of love for the world's young adult population. They have high ideals and want to live in a world of peace and prosperity. I believe that they will make it happen as they get older.

> Soo Ewe Jin is a deputy executive editor at The Star.


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Chow Yun-fat packs a punch in The Assassins

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 03:14 AM PDT

Megastar Chow Yun-fat kickstarted director Zhao Linshan's film, The Assassins, when he agreed to star in it.

A FIRST-time film-maker directs a big-budget picture featuring not just Chow Yun-fat but also top-notch talent such as Zhang Yimou's cinematographer, Zhao Xiaoding. How is that even possible?

Incredible as it sounds, it did happen.

To hear Chinese director Zhao Linshan tell it, Hong Kong actor Chow is the "saviour" who strode into his life last year like a John Woo hero, all guns blazing, and made the film possible.

That was an afternoon around spring last year, when the doors of a private room in a Beijing hotel were flung open, and Chow entered, pointed at Zhao and said: "Director, I liked your script, so I decided to meet you."

At the time, Zhao had been making commercials for more than 10 years, the 37-year-old says in an interview in an office of the Chinese studio Enlight Media recently.

He had been working on his idea for an epic about Cao Cao, the formidable warlord of the Three Kingdoms era, for more than three years.

Zhao's story, written with Chinese television writer Wang Hailin, tells of the twilight of Cao's life, when the general rides home from the battlefield, only to walk into a domestic minefield where killers, schemers and plotters – including his son Pi – are waiting in ambush.

Zhao was intent on casting Chow as Cao, though rumours about Zhao's plans spread in the industry, and his peers called him "a lunatic, a liar".

He says: "If you are thinking of making a movie, you might as well think big. That is human nature, isn't it?"

He laughs as he adds: "I was afraid this movie would come out and people would say, Chow Yun-fat should have been in this movie. I didn't want to have regrets."

Thanks to a middleman he declines to name, Zhao was able to pass his screenplay to Chow.

After an agonising seven days – which "passed like years", he says – he received a call from Chow's Singaporean wife and manager Jasmine Tan saying they would go to Beijing soon and would meet him there.

About two weeks later, an anxious Zhao turned up two hours early for their 2pm meeting in a hotel, and ended up having lunch first at a fast food place next door.

He recalls his puzzlement when he showed up for the appointment after lunchtime and was led to a large room with a round dining table.

Five minutes to 2pm, Chow made that "cinematic" entrance, and they soon started talking about Zhao's story.

Beside them, Chow's wife began to order food – a lot of it, seeing that Zhao is a hefty northerner – and Zhao says his heart sank a little when he realised he had overlooked one thing. "The Cantonese have afternoon tea at 2pm. He had actually asked me to afternoon tea."

Zhao had to pretend to have a hearty appetite, as his hostess heaped food on his plate. His gut-busting performance paid off though. After Chow committed to the project, investors believed Zhao had some ability and gave him a 130mil yuan (RM63.3mil) budget.

Filming began in October last year. Led by Chow as Cao, the cast includes Taiwanese actor Qiu Xinzhi as Cao's son Pi; Taiwanese singer Alec Su as Emperor Xian, the puppet ruler who resents Cao; Taiwanese actress Annie Yi as Empress Fu, the ruler's wife who is ravished by Pi; and Chinese actress Liu Yifei and Japanese actor Hiroshi Tamaki as assassins in their midst.

Fast-forward to a press conference in a studio in the Enlight Media building, and Chow is making another dramatic entrance, escorted on stage by about a dozen actors dressed up as armoured soldiers.

Charming and cheeky, the superstar is king and court jester all rolled into one debonair, slicked-hair, grey-suited package, as he lavishes jokey praise on his co-stars, who are seated offstage.

Chow calls Su his "senior", who sang as a Little Tiger in the 1990s before Chow cut an album, and Qiu his "teacher", who speaks better Hokkien than him.

One of the tougher questions lobbed at Chow, 57, involves why he is starring in a Three Kingdoms movie after leaving another similar project, John Woo's Red Cliff (2008) and Red Cliff II (2009).

Chow dropped out of his role as strategist Zhou Yu in 2007, a few days into filming (the part was eventually played by Tony Leung Chiu Wai). He said at the time he had received the script only one week before, leaving him too little time to prepare.

He, however, side-steps the question, saying Zhou and Cao are different roles.

But Chow thanks Zhao for casting him as Cao, "the biggest CEO in the Three Kingdoms".

Asked what it was like on the set, Chow, an avid photographer, says he would go around, pointing his camera at people and telling them what to do.

But "when the director says 'Start', I'm his slave", he quips.

As Zhao tells it, however, Fa Ge (or Big Brother Fat, as Chow is called in Mandarin) was parental and protective.

"Fa Ge bet himself on me. He said, 'Since I believe in you, director, I'll act how you tell me to act,'" he recalls. "He didn't want to put pressure on me, a new director. Actually, he took good care of me."

In an interview after the press conference, Su, 39, says Zhao held his own on the set and did not look like a novice.

In fact, Su was the one who was nervous, although he has acted for more than a decade, in movies such as The Message (2009) and television shows such as My Fair Princess (1998).

When he got his role in The Assassins as the emperor with repressed ambitions and a penchant for singing poetic laments, he did not know how to go about playing the part.

But Zhao was very specific about how Su was to approach the singing, the star recalls.

He wanted Su to learn enough Chinese opera to sing in a narrow, weepy voice, but not too much, as Chinese opera did not exist until later in history.

It was a difficult balance to strike, but Su did as he was told, he says, because the director knew the story best.

After all, "it was his dream for a long time".

Away from Chow's clowning at the press conference, Yi, 43, gives a glimpse of the superstar's other side – the side which may have drawn him to The Assassins.

She says Chow once told her, during a chat: "Cao Cao is lonely, like me. A lot of people want me to make movies with them, but I can't make them all."

Instead, what he does mostly is "stay at home every day, take pictures, and keep my wife company". "It's lonely," he said. – The Straits Times Singapore/Asia News Network

> The Assassins opens in Malaysian cinemas this Thursday.

Arnie hopes to save marriage despite 'stupid' affairs

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 12:27 AM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Arnold Schwarzenegger says he still hopes to salvage his marriage despite admitting multiple affairs, including one in which fathered a child with the family housekeeper.

And, in a tell-all memoir published Monday, he insists he is "still in love" with Maria Shriver, his wife of 25 years who filed for divorce after he admitted he was the child's father.

The Hollywood star and former California governor said the fling with the housekeeper - which produced a baby boy at almost the same time as his fourth child with Shriver - was the "stupidest" thing he had done.

"The divorce is going forward, but I still have the hope that Maria and I can come back together as husband and wife and as a family with our children," he said in his newly-published memoirs, "Total Recall."

"You can call this denial, but it's the way my mind works... I'm still in love with Maria."

In a TV interview timed with the publication of his memoirs, the former bodybuilder told how Shriver confronted him about the child the day after he left office as California governor in January 2011.

He also admitted he had a habit of keeping secrets, including not telling Shriver that he was going to run for governor until days before he announced it, and trying to conceal having heart surgery from her.

Shriver filed for divorce in July last year citing "irreconcilable differences" with her husband, whom she met in 1977 and married in 1986, following him into the California governor's mansion in 2003.

Schwarzenegger had admitted in May 2011 that he had fathered a child, born in 1997 and named Joseph, with the family's long-time housekeeper, Mildred Baena, and announced the couple's separation.

In an interview with CBS show "60 Minutes," he said he realized when Joseph was about seven or eight that the boy resembled him physically, and while not discussing it openly, began giving the mother financial support.

The housekeeper remained in their employment, and Joseph played with the couple's children, but Shriver's suspicions grew and she finally confronted him the day after he left office, when they saw a marriage counselor.

Shriver asked him point blank: "Hey, I think that Joseph is your kid." He replied: "You're absolutely correct." She filed for divorced a few weeks later.

"I think it was the stupidest thing I've done in the whole relationship. It was terrible. I inflicted tremendous pain on Maria and unbelievable pain on the kids," he said.

Baena was not the first woman with whom he cheated on Shriver, he acknowledged - in the book he writes about a "hot affair" with actress Brigitte Nielsen while filming the 1985 film "Red Sonja."

Pressed in the CBS interview about other infidelities, he admitted: "I had others. But that's something that's between Maria and me."

"I'm not perfect," said the 65-year-old.

Allegations of sexual misconduct and affairs have long dogged the Austrian-born actor turned politician, who returned to the big screen in "The Expendables 2" this year, and has a number of other movies due for release.

In more topical comments Schwarzenegger, a Republican but with liberal social views, said he had not yet decided whether to vote for Democrat US President Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney on November 6.

"I'm open-minded and I want to hear what everyone has to say," he told "Good Morning America" host George Stephanopoulos, noting that Obama and Romney will hold the first of three public debates on Wednesday.

"I always wait until the last minute because there are some very interesting debates coming up and I think it's always nice when you see both of the candidates next to each other and they can debate the issues." - AFP

Drew Barrymore gives birth to baby girl

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 09:54 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Drew Barrymore has given birth to a daughter named Olive, her first child with husband Will Kopelman, the actress said in a statement on Monday.

"We are proud to announce the birth of our daughter, Olive Barrymore Kopelman, born September 26th, healthy, happy and welcomed by the whole family. Thank you for respecting our privacy during this most special time in our lives," Barrymore said.

The "Charlie's Angels" actress, 37, wed art dealer Kopelman in a Jewish ceremony at their estate in Montecito, Southern California in June.

The former child star of "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," who has since forged a career in romantic comedies such as "Never Been Kissed" and "He's Just Not That Into You," was last seen in whale movie "Big Miracle," released earlier this year.- Reuters


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Halo phenomena over Klang Valley

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 08:43 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Two phenomena involving the sun had Klang Valley and Johor folk snapping away to capture the moment.

The strange sight of a halo circling the sun became a talking point here as many were seen using their handphones to capture the spectacle at about 12.30pm Tuesday.

The National Space Agency (Angkasa), however, gave assurance that the phenomenon was not something to be alarmed about.

The "rainbow-around-the-sun" effect oc­­­curs naturally when light interacts with ice crystals in cirrus clouds.

The crystals act like prisms, refracting and reflecting sunlight to produce a rainbow-coloured effect around the sun.

However, the agency advised people not to stare directly into the sun to protect their eyesight.

MIC rep on DBKL advisory board to be replaced

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 06:37 AM PDT

ALL except one of the six Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) Advisory Board members whose term expired on Sept 30, will be retained for another year.

Datuk Mustapa Kamal Mohd Yusof, Datuk Yahaya Mat Ghani@Abbas, Datuk Sharifah Aminah Syed Ahmad, Datuk Lim Si Pin and Datuk Abdul Latiff Mohd Som will return to the board.

Batu MIC division chairman Ramanathan Chinnu, however, will not.

He would be replaced by another representative from MIC based on the recommendation by MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, said Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin.

Raja Nong Chik said Mustapa Kamal, Yahaya, Sharifah Aminah and Lim were political appointees; the first three are from Seputeh Umno, Batu Umno and Lembah Pantai Umno Lim is from Batu Gerakan.

Abdul Latiff comes under the non-governmental organisation quota.

When asked to describe Ramanathan's work with the community, Raja Nong Chik said: "Ramanathan was very committed and he attended most of the functions and meetings by DBKL. But I respect the decision of MIC in line with the Barisan spirit.

When contacted, Palanivel confirmed that MIC is replacing Ramanathan based on its new rule that MIC representatives sitting on various boards will be limited to one term only.

"The same goes for the senatorship, we are limiting it to a single term to allow others a chance to serve the public too," said Palanivel.

When asked if he had a candidate in mind, Palanivel said: "I have a few candidates in mind, we are reviewing the candidacy of several for other boards as well and will reveal them in due course," he told Star Metro.

Meanwhile, People's Progressive Party (PPP) is seeking a seat on the City Hall Advisory Board, and they have been lobbying for it the past 17 years.

PPP president Datuk Seri M. Kayveas expressed disappointment over the fact that PPP was always sidelined.

"Currently we have zero representation on any government board which is not right as we are also a member of the component party," said Kayveas.

"We have been writing to City Hall since 2003 to consider a PPP rep on the board," he said, adding that PPP has some 48,000 members in the Federal Territory and that the party has been championing the people at the grassroots level for years.

"We have been working hard in Wilayah since day one, and if you were to compare the component parties in FT, I think that PPP outshines everyone else, he said, adding that the party has registered over 100,000 new voters for FT.

The Federal Capital Act 1960 states that the City Hall advisory board must have 15 members with one member each from the Federal Territories Ministry, the Finance Ministry, and the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister's Department, and two members nominated by the Selangor state government.

The remaining members must be individuals with knowledge on local government issues, or hold a degree in a certain profession, commerce or industry, or have the expertise to represent the needs and interests of their communities.

Members must not be holding a full-time job, as they are required to be committed to the task given to them.

They are paid a sum of RM600 each time they attend a meeting and are given a laptop each.

Advisory board members are given portfolios such as vandalism, environment, hawkers and petty traders, sports and recreation and others are required to meet the residents at the grassroot level constantly and consistently.

DBKL advisory board members are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the recommendation of the prime minister as stipulated in the Act.


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