Rabu, 10 Oktober 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Local governmrnt debt fuels China forced evictions rise - Amnesty

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 07:56 PM PDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - Forced evictions in China, a major source of social discontent, have risen significantly in the past two years as local officials and property developers colluded to seize and sell land to pay off government debt, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Property disputes in a country where the government legally owns all land are often violent and have led to growing social instability, one of the challenges facing a new generation of Chinese leaders, led by Vice-President Xi Jinping.

A woman is warded off by policemen as she tries to stop the demolition of a house built illegally on public land in Zuoling, Hubei province, in this December 17, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer

A woman is warded off by policemen as she tries to stop the demolition of a house built illegally on public land in Zuoling, Hubei province, in this December 17, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer

Amnesty's 85-page report, compiled between February 2010 and January 2012, said violence exerted on residents resulted in deaths, imprisonment and self-immolations.

"Potentially, millions of people in the country are at risk of these illegal forced evictions and indeed protests about forced evictions are the single biggest issue of populist discontent in the country," Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty's senior director of research, told Reuters.

"So it's a huge issue, it's been going on for many, many years, we feel it's rising in scale now and it's really time to put an end to it."

Land sales by local governments soared as officials scrambled to raise the capital needed to hit ambitious targets for infrastructure building set by Beijing in a 4 trillion yuan economic stimulus plan, launched late in 2008 as the global financial crisis raged.

Frenzied speculative activity inflated a real estate bubble that resulted in local governments racking up debts of 10.7 trillion yuan (1 trillion pounds) by the end of 2010 as they also borrowed to build, compelling them to sell yet more land to pay back loans.

Beijing launched a campaign in 2010 to restrict speculative sales and development. There is some evidence of those restrictions working as total land area bought by developers fell 16.2 percent in the first eight months of 2012 versus 2011, with revenues down 7.6 percent in the same period.

China also unveiled new rules in 2011 to outlaw violent forced eviction, promising fair prices to the dispossessed.

Amnesty said it welcomed the regulations, but added they fell short of the standards it would like to see and applied only to urban residents.

Of 40 forced evictions Amnesty examined, nine culminated in the deaths of people protesting or resisting eviction.

A 70-year-old woman, Wang Cuiyan, was buried alive by an excavator in March 2010 when a crew of about 30 to 40 workers came to demolish her house in Wuhan city in central Hubei province, the report said.

Rights groups have repeatedly criticised the government for not doing enough to prevent forced evictions, especially when people are made to make way for large-scale events like the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai World Expo in 2010.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Additional reporting by Nick Edwards in Beijing and Stefanie McIntyre in Hong Kong; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Venezuela's Chavez names Maduro vice-president

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 07:52 PM PDT

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez named Foreign Minister and former bus driver Nicolas Maduro as his new vice president on Wednesday in a Cabinet shake-up following his comfortable re-election.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrives to receive his certificate as president-elect, from the national electoral council in Caracas October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrives to receive his certificate as president-elect, from the national electoral council in Caracas October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Maduro, 49, replaces Elias Jaua, who will run for the governorship of Miranda state against defeated presidential candidate Henrique Capriles in the South American OPEC member's December gubernatorial elections.

An ex-union leader on the public bus service and foreign minister since 2006, Maduro has long been seen as a possible successor to Chavez along with several other senior allies.

He was frequently at his side in the most critical moments of Chavez's year of cancer treatment since mid-2011.

The possibility of a recurrence of the disease hangs over Chavez despite a surprisingly vigorous campaign before his convincing 11-point win on Sunday.

Should Chavez's cancer reappear and force him out of office within the first four years of his six-year term, the vice president would serve temporarily as president before a new election. If Chavez left office in the final two years, the vice president would serve out the rest of the term. Chavez, 58, has ruled Venezuela since 1999.

"I don't recommend anyone for the vice president's job," Chavez joked, naming Maduro during the formal proclamation of his presidential win by Venezuela's election board.

"Putting up with me is not easy!"

The affable Maduro's working-class background gives him more appeal than other officials among Chavez's supporters. He was elected in 2000 to parliament, where his combative defence of Chavez's socialism turned him into a favoured protégé.

"He was a bus driver. How they mock him, the bourgeoisie," said Chavez, who depicts his socialist government as a protector of the masses against an evil capitalist elite.

In other changes, Interior Minister Tareck el Aissami, Presidential Office Minister Erika Farias and Indigenous Peoples' Minister Nicia Maldonada all left the Cabinet to fight for state governorships, the ruling Socialist Party said.

Replacements were not named.


Capriles, the energetic Miranda state governor, said he had put Sunday's loss behind him and urged opposition supporters to rally once more for December's gubernatorial elections as a way of putting a brake on Chavez's power across Venezuela.

"I'm back on my feet. ... The tears have dried up," Capriles, who won 44 percent of the vote compared with 55 percent for Chavez, told a three-hour news conference late on Tuesday.

A business-friendly lawyer and career politician widely seen as the opposition's best leader of the Chavez era, Capriles, 40, plans to run for re-election in Miranda.

Having beaten a heavyweight Chavez ally for that post in 2008, Capriles will now take on another senior loyalist, Jaua, in the highest-profile race of the December 16 elections.

Members of the opposition coalition control seven of 23 states, and they hope to increase that number in December.

But Chavez's candidates will gain momentum from his re-election victory, especially as he won in all but two states.


In the campaign, Chavez never referred to Capriles by name. He savaged his rival daily as a "pig," "loser," "sycophant," "fascist," "nothing" and "candidate of the ultra-right."

Yet the president appeared impressed by Capriles' quick acknowledgement of defeat and telephoned him on Monday.

"I took the telephone and thought, 'Gosh, let's see which of the nicknames he's going to use.' At last he called me by my surname," Capriles said with a smile.

"I told him, 'Mr. President, with all due respect, I hope we are not going to continue hearing insults and derogatory terms.' ... . He told me I had made a great effort, and that I should get some rest, and that I had pushed him hard."

Having won the most votes against Chavez of the past four presidential elections and galvanized the once-fractured opposition, Capriles looks like it's obvious head right now.

But there is no guarantee he will retain that status.

Other ambitious opposition leaders of his generation, like Zulia Governor Pablo Perez and former Caracas District Mayor Leopoldo Lopez, may be sizing up their own chances at a 2018 presidential bid.

Capriles, who has avoided mentioning Chavez's recent battles with two cancerous tumours beyond wishing him good health and a long life, has dropped plenty of hints that he plans to remain the opposition's driving force.

"I am going to continue going around Venezuela. There are lots of places I was unable to visit," he said of his gruelling campaign of hundreds of visits to villages, towns and cities.

"I left my heart on the road, and I'll do it again. ... No one is unbeatable."

(Additional reporting by Eyanir Chinea and Enrique Andres Pretel; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Beauty treatment kills Hong Kong woman, three ill

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 07:39 PM PDT

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A 46-year-old woman has died in Hong Kong and three others are fighting for their lives following a beauty parlour treatment that involves blood transfusion, highlighting a lack of regulation in the city's cosmetic industry.

The cases have prompted an investigation by police and medical authorities, and renewed calls by health experts for tighter regulation of Hong Kong's beauty industry.

"Yes, the woman aged 46 died (Wednesday morning) of septic shock," a government spokeswoman said. Three others, aged 56, 59 and 60, were in hospital with the eldest in critical condition.

Septic shock is normally caused by bacterial infection and can result in respiratory and organ failure, even death.

The four had recently undergone a complicated blood transfusion procedure at the DR beauty chain, according to government statements, in a treatment that was meant to boost their immune system and appearance.

The women paid around HK$50,000 (4000 pounds) for the procedure, which experts say is at best an experimental treatment for cancer patients and which has not shown to have any aesthetic application so far.

DR said in a statement on Wednesday that the procedures were carried out by a doctor who was not employed by the parlour.

The procedure required their blood to be taken to isolate and culture certain types of immune cells. These "cytokine-induced killer cells" were then injected back into the women together with their own blood plasma.

The four quickly fell ill with fever, dizziness and diarrhoea. In an earlier blood sample taken from the woman who died, health officials found Mycobacterium abscessus, a superbug that is notoriously difficult to kill.

Although the direct cause of the woman's death has yet to be confirmed, experts say it is likely to have been bacterial infection.

"They now have to find out where the bacterial contamination occurred in this whole process. Did it happen when the blood was drawn, during the culture process or when it was reinjected back into the body?" said William Chui, president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists in Hong Kong.

The cases raise fresh questions on how governments in many places in Asia regulate doctors' conduct and sale of medicines, but exercise little or no control over what goes on in beauty parlours or what goes into "healthcare" products.

In Singapore in 2002, 15 women developed liver problems and one died after consuming Chinese-made slimming pills that were later found to contain two undeclared ingredients. One of the patents, an actress, survived only after a liver transplant.

Felice Lieh Mak, a leading medical expert in Hong Kong and former chairman of the Medical Council, said: "We hope that this tragedy will result in some attempt at making a legislation, or at least work towards legislating and defining what medical treatment is."

(Additional reporting by Christina Lo; Editing by)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Bumi Armada’s green project

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 06:21 PM PDT

KEPONG: As part of its corporate social responsibility, Bumi Armada Bhd has sponsored RM107,000 for a carbon offset conservation programme with the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), a first of its kind in the country.

The contribution will cover the carbon credits from the conservation of carbon stored at Field 11, a 5.6ha forest site within FRIM's campus, for the next five years. Field 11 has the capacity to store 3,938.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.

Bumi Armada chief executive Hassan Basma said oil & gas outfits were usually seen as heavy carbon-emitting businesses and that this was a way to alleviate the carbon footprint. "In the oil & gas industry, we are allegedly accused of heavy carbon emissions whether from the floating production, storage and offloading vessels or the refineries," he said at the signing of a collaborative agreement with FRIM here yesterday.

Present at the signing were FRIM director-general Datuk Abdul Latif Mohmod and Malaysian Forestry Research and Development Board chairperson Hajah Nancy Shukri.

Hassan said that apart from making the environment cleaner and greener, such initiatives also created jobs making them worthwhile projects.

Among the other Bumi Armada environmental intiatives are tree-planting, fuel efficiency in its operations and using low-emission sulphur fuels and liquefied natural gas.

Carbon offset programmes allow individuals, corporations or countries to reduce their carbon emissions by offsetting, reducing or displacing carbon dioxide in another place.

S&P: Eurozone woes still main threat to Asia-Pacific

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 06:14 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The continuous deterioration in eurozone economies will remain as the main threat for Asia-Pacific sovereign credit worthiness in the coming year, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services (S&P) said.

In a report entitled Asia-Pacific Sovereigns: A Bit Of Stability In The Sea Of Uncertainty, the rating agency said risks of instability were still substantial, despite the more decisive actions shown by eurozone policymakers.

S&P credit analyst Kim Eng Tan said reforms that address fundamental imbalances in the currency union were still in the early stages of implementation.

"If investors perceive that European politicians are losing the willingness to continue with reforms or if major policy mistakes occur, it may send another financial and economic shock across the world," he said in the report.

Of the 22 rated sovereigns in the Asia-Pacific, S&P raised the credit ratings on the Philippines and South Korea during the past six months and revised the outlook on Vietnam to "stable" from "negative".

The upgraded two sovereigns were due to their credit support improved sufficiently to offset weaker growth prospects in the next few years, Tan said.

He said Asia continued to register moderate economic growth despite the intensifying global economic uncertainties.

India was the only Asia-Pacific sovereign to see a negative rating action during the period; the outlook was revised to "negative" from "stable".

He said S&P does not expect the positive trend of rating changes of the past six months to continue in the coming 12-18 months.

Meanwhile, economic conditions in the developed world and elsewhere remain weak and uncertain.

"Where credit metrics are already weak in their rating categories, policy mistakes or hesitance could drag sovereign ratings down," he said.

Apart from that, another round of unconventional monetary easing in the United States also brings additional risks to some Asia-Pacific economies.

Credit growth has been strong in parts of the region over much of the past decade.

These economies include Australia, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, New Zealand and Singapore, with some of them, real estate prices have also risen significantly in the period, he said.

"If inadequate policy responses to additional monetary easing from abroad fuel further financial leverage, the risks to economic and financial stability could mount, and that could damage sovereign credit worthiness," Tan added. - Bernama

Banks lead KLCI lower in early trade

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 06:13 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Banks led the FBM KLCI lower in early trade on Thursday, in line with the cautious regional markets, tracking the overnight losses on Wall Street.

At 9am, the KLCI was down 3.2 points to 1,656.20. Turnover was 9.42 million shares valued at RM4.54mil. There were 55 gainers, 37 losers and 83 counters unchanged.

Analysts said they expected the FBM KLCI to slip a few points on continued concerns of global economic growth which weighed on the performance of major equity markets as the International Monetary Fund issued a warning about the impact of the euro-zone debt crisis and uncertainty over Spain and Greece.

Overnight on Wall Street, US stocks fell sharply with the S&P 500 declining 8.92 points, or 0.6%, to close at 1,432.56. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 128.56 points, or 1%, to close at 13,344.97, dropping for a third trading session.

Hong Leong Bank fell the most, down 10 sen to RM13.80 with 900 shares done while CIMB shed seven sen to RM7.71. Among the telcos, Axiata fell two sen to RM6.61 and DiGi one sen lower at RM5.44.

PetChem fell five sen to RFM6.37, DRB Hicom three sen to RM2.34 and BAT two sen to RM61.14.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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Club create MHL history by winning third straight double

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 05:22 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: KL Hockey Club (KLHC) created history in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) by winning their third straight double when they outplayed Tenaga Nasional 3-0 in the TNB Cup final at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil last night.

The match, scheduled to start at 8pm, was delayed by 90 minutes due to heavy rain.

It was KLHC's fourth overall title as they also won in 2008, 2010 and last year. They pocketed RM60,000.

As for Tenaga, it was their second straight defeat to KLHC in the final as they lost 3-2 last year. The runners-up took home RM40,000.

Tenaga were a letdown in the final as they hardly created any chances in the first-half.

KLHC rested their national goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin and started with reserve Mohd Harfizi Baharom. They went on the offensive from the start when Tengku Ahmad Tajudin's hit from the top D was well saved by Tenaga goalkeeper S. Kumar in the fifth minute.

There was no denying Tengku Ahmad four minutes later when he collected a through pass from Azlan Misron before slamming the ball past Kumar.

A minute later, Tenaga's Mohd Faiz Helmi was stretchered off after he suffered a cut in his forehead after being hit by KLHC's Chua Boon Huat.

Surprisingly, umpire K. Lingam did not send Boon Huat to the sin bin for the offence.

KLHC increased their lead in the 13th minute when Ismail Abu picked up a pass from Kelvinder Singh in the semi-circle and fired home.

Boon Huat had a chance to make it 3-0 in the 27th minute but his reverse-stick effort went just inches wide.

KLHC went 3-0 up in the 32nd minute when Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim's through pass found Mohd Amerullah Abdul Aziz, whose brilliant reverse-stick attempt sounded the board.

Tenaga then brought on their top scorer Faizal Saari, still nursing a hamstring injury, and it was no surprise that he failed to make an impact. KLHC almost made it 4-0 in the 45th minute when Azlan Misron's effort off a penalty corner went wide. Tenaga earned their first penalty corner in the 52nd minute but Mohd Amin Rahim's flick was saved by Mohd Harfizi.

Tenaga's forwards also failed make the most out of a few chances created in the last 15 minutes.

KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj praised his players for scoring three goals in the first-half to quickly kill off their opponents.

"We took control from the start and scored some brilliant goals. I could not have asked for anything better," said Dharmaraj.

"We also created history by becoming the first team in the MHL since its inception 1987 to win a third straight double."

MHL history was also made when Maybank and Sapura were declared joint third after their match was abandoned in the 58th minute due to the downpur.

The score was 2-2 when the match was stopped.

Debutants Johor HA upset Division One champions Armed Forces 4-2 to lift the President's Cup.

The match was also abandoned in the 65th minute. Johor HA received RM30,000 for the success.

In the third place playoff, Thunderbolt defeated Bukit Jalil Sports School 5-3 to take home RM10,000.

Chinese blogger ‘sorry’ for threat against Federer

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 04:12 PM PDT

SHANGHAI: A blogger in China who made a death threat against Roger Federer said he had apologised but remained at large after vowing to "assassinate" the world number one, according to an Internet posting.

An Internet user under the name "Blue Cat Polytheistic Religion Founder 07" threatened the tennis player before he arrived to play, prompting organisers to step up security for the Shanghai Masters, which started on Sunday.

"I have not been arrested," said a posting on China's popular baidu.com site, where the original threat also appeared.

"I took the initiative to contact the relevant people to apologise," said the message, which was posted around midday on Tuesday.

The original threat read: "On October 6, I plan to assassinate Federer for the purpose of tennis extermination."

The user also posted a doctored image showing a decapitated Federer on his knees on a tennis court, with an axe-wielding executioner standing next to him.

Shanghai Masters organisers said last week ahead of the competition that they were taking the bizarre threat "seriously" while Federer himself labelled it a "distraction" after arriving in the Chinese commercial hub.

"Obviously maybe it's a little bit of a distraction, there's no doubt about it," Federer said on Sunday.

"It was something just very small on a website, nothing clear and concrete, people just debating."

Federer's wife and twin daughters have not travelled to China but he said that decision had nothing to do with the threats.

Federer has been surrounded by a dozen security guards in dark suits who also stayed on the sidelines around the court when he practised on Tuesday.

A Shanghai police spokesman yesterday declined to comment on the case.

In 1993, former world number one Monica Seles was stabbed by a fan during a match in Hamburg. — AFP

Vettel and Alonso to duel for Formula One lead in Yeongam

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 04:46 PM PDT

SEOUL (South Korea): Heading into this weekend's Korean Grand Prix, the Formula One drivers' championship is shaping up as a duel between defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull and leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.

Vettel took his second consecutive checkered flag at the Japanese GP on Sunday to move within four points of Alonso with five races left. Alonso's lead was further eroded after he crashed out on the first turn in Suzuka.

Vettel's dominating win from pole at Suzuka made him the first driver this season to record back-to-back victories, and he joined Alonso and Mercedes-bound Lewis Hamilton as the only drivers to win three times this season.

Despite his recent success, Vettel said a lot of things can change between now and the end of the season.

"Things can change very quickly," said Vettel, who also won last year's Korean GP.

"It's much closer now but every weekend can be different. It's a very new calendar for all of us this year with back-to-back races in Japan and Korea and then in America and Brazil, so we just have to focus on each individual race and see what happens."

Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo said Alonso has been a victim of bad luck and, if not for the mistakes of other drivers, would be in a better position.

"We know we can count on the strongest driver around at the moment, and it's only mistakes from others at Spa and again at Suzuka that have prevented him from having a more comfortable lead over his rivals," Montezemolo said.

Alonso was unable to finish the Belgium GP after a spectacular crash caused by Lotus driver Romain Grosjean. The Spaniard also crashed out of the Japan race after Lotus driver Kimi Raikonnen made contact with his Ferrari at the first turn.

"Let's not forget that," Montezemolo said. "But for those two collisions, today Fernando would have had at least 30 points more – and that's a conservative estimate."

Hamilton remains optimistic he can assert himself in the title chase after his fifth-place finish in Japan kept the McLaren driver fourth in the standings, 42 points off the lead.

"I think we've had the potential to win both Korean races in the past," Hamilton said.

"But I've never had a race weekend there on which everything has gone quite right for me.

"We've got momentum on our side once again, so I head to Korea determined to fight for victory."

Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher, who announced last week that he will retire at the end of the season, said he is looking forward to the race in South Korea after finishing 11th in Japan.

"The basic characteristics should be more favourable for us than in Japan," Schumacher said. "So we're heading to Korea in a positive mood.

"It's a pity because the circuit layout makes for good racing, but I think the situation is improving each year. It's a very challenging track and well designed, which lots of the drivers enjoy."

Raikkonen is third in the drivers' standings, 37 points off the lead and five ahead of fourth-placed Hamilton, in his first season back after a stint in rallying.

Next in the table lie Red Bull's Mark Webber, and Button.

"I've never been to Korea, but it doesn't make a difference for me," said the no-nonsense Raikkonen.

"Since I was very young I have always been able to pick up circuits very quickly. This has not changed. It's always interesting to race at a new venue and I enjoy going to different places. It gives me a good feeling."

The Korean Grand Prix is in only its third edition, and has suffered teething problems with heavy rain and patchy local interest. Alonso won here in 2010 and Vettel took the honours in 2011.

Qualifying is on Saturday at 0500 GMT and the race on Sunday at 0600 GMT. Initial forecasts are for dry, sunny weather on both days. — Agencies

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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Shahrizat tells court she was unembarrassed by focus on National Feedlot project

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 07:41 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil told a High Court that she was not embarrassed by revelation in the Auditor-General's report about the National Feedlot project as it was not about her husband's company.

"National Feedlot Centre and National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) are two separate entities.

"The Auditor-General's report is on the centre. NFCorp is a company which my husband and son own," she told lawyer Ranjit Singh.

Shahrizat, 59, was testifying in her RM100mil defamation suit against PKR strategic director Mohd Rafizi Ramli and Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin.

She disagreed that if NFC failed, it would be attributed to NFCorp which is in charge of running the centre in Gemas.

Asked if she felt embarrassed as newspaper reports had referred to NFCorp as in a "mess", she said:" In the beginning, I did not feel embarrassed but later I did."

She agreed to the suggestion by Ranjit, that the Auditor-General has found various weaknesses in the NFC project but denied that it could be considered a failure if it did not meet the target for beef self-sufficiency.

The former Women, Family and Community Development Minister also disagreed that if the NFC project did not have any income, it would have problems repaying the loan to the government.

Asked if NFCorp income would be generated from the NFC project, Shahrizat, who is also Wanita Umno chief said: "I don't know. I think it is a business entity. It may have other (income)."

In her defamation suit filed on Jan 19, Shahrizat said Rafizi and Zuraida started holding a series of press conferences in various locations, including the Parliament lobby, in an orchestrated attack against NFC, her husband and family.

Rafizi, in his defence, said his statement on Nov 8 last year constituted fair comment on a matter of public interest and filed a counter-claim on March 8 against Shahrizat over her alleged defamatory remarks.

Shahrizat agreed that the Public Accounts Committee's announcement on Oct 24 that it would look into NFCorp showed that the matter was of public interest.

She said that she did not feel defamed when other ministers and MPs asked her to resign and take responsibility over the NFC issues.

Shahrizat also said that her husband Datuk Seri Dr Mohamed Salleh Ismail had expertise in the cattle rearing business.

The hearing continues before High Court Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera on Monday.

Malaysian astronaut to star in space adventure film

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 07:06 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian astronaut Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor is to star in a space adventure film based on his own experience in outer space.

The film, titled 'N01 - 10 HARI: 21 JAM: 14 MINIT DI PINTU AJAL', is to be screened in cinemas in March next year, according to him.

He said the film would be directed by Imran Ismail of 'Jalang', 'Datin Ghairah' and 'Cassandra' fame, and would comprise a combination of computer-generated images, three-dimensional images and footage recorded by him in outer space.

Sheikh Muszaphar it was difficult to explain to Malaysians his experience in outer space.

"They will have to immerse themselves in that experience by watching this film," he told reporters at the launch of the film, here. Also present at the launch was Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) deputy editor-in-chief Datuk Zulkefli Salleh.

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar was launched to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft under an arrangement with Russia on Oct 10, 2007.

He said it was hoped that the film would be the best platform to depict outer space in detail for the viewing pleasure of the people.

"For, we are not sure when Malaysia will send another astronaut into space," he said. - Bernama

White paper on the S’gor-Talam issue is now available for public viewing

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 06:44 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: The white paper report on the Selangor government's debt recovery exercise involving the Talam Corporation is now available for public viewing.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said those interested in the report could do so by applying at the state assembly's office.

Khalid said the white paper would also be presented at the state assembly meeting on Nov 19.

"The state government has already met the Sultan to get an earlier date to hold a special a sitting," he said, adding that he was hoping to hold a special assembly meeting two weeks before the said date.

At the same time, he said a series of meet-the-people sessions to explain about the Talam debt recovery exercise would be held every Saturday night beginning Oct 13 in Kajang.

"Four spokespersons from the Selangor government will explain to the public about the (debt recovery) exercise.

"I hope the people will have a clearer picture from these series," he told reporters after chairing the weekly exco meeting on Wednesday.

On July 3, MCA Young Professionals Bureau Chief Datuk Chua Tee Yong had challenged the Selangor government to explain how its exercise to recover a RM392mil debt from Talam ended in questionable deals worth over RM1bil.

The state government is said to have obtained a grant of RM392mil and acquired additional assets worth RM284mil from Talam bringing the total acquisition to RM676mil. This RM676mil purchase of assets was said to be part of the RM1bil questionable deal.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Mixing business with romance

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 04:35 AM PDT

Love Is ... Pajamas is a heady mix of romance, business and funny antics.

WHEN veteran comedians Raymond Wong and Teresa Mo come together to make a movie, one can be sure it will be chock-full of crazy antics that will tickle every funny bone.

Their latest collaboration is romantic comedy Love Is ... Pajamas (Cantonese title Nam Yan Yu Yi Fuk), and the two spoke about their filming experiences in separate phone interviews from China.

The 100-minute romantic comedy is helmed by scriptwriter-turned-director Vincent Kuk, whom both Wong and Mo have had many previous collaborations.

Producer-actor Wong, 66, shared: "I've done many films with Vincent and I was always the one who initiated every single project. But this time, he approached me with a very refreshing concept and a unique topic. Apart from offering some suggestions in casting and romantic pairings, I left everything to Vincent.

"I recommended Teresa as we have not worked together in 20 years. Even so, we had no problems as our synergy was great. I also discovered that Teresa's acting skills have improved a lot. She's got some very emotional scenes in the movie and I am sure the audience will be moved."

Mo, 55, also praised Kuk. "I've worked with Vincent many times, but he was always the scriptwriter. Now that he's the director, he prepares very complete scripts. The happiest thing for an actor is to receive the script before filming commences. This way we can prepare ourselves adequately, knowing what the story is about."

Love Is ... Pyjamas revolves around Spring (Mo) and her daughter Autumn (Karena Ng) who run a family business – a multinational enterprise dealing in men's undergarments – founded by Spring's brother Hugo (Wong).

In a bid to win back his ex-girlfriend Miao (Hai Qing), who is now an internationally acclaimed fashion designer, Hugo pretends that his business is going bankrupt and he needs her assistance.

Having to share most of her scenes with Ronald Cheng, who plays her daughter's suitor in the movie, Mo gushed: "Ronald is a very good comedy actor, in fact he is the best comedy actor of his generation in Hong Kong today. I'm very happy with our collaboration as we've got excellent synergy and our scenes together went very smoothly."

When asked to comment on her collaboration with teen actress Ng, Mo replied: "A grown-up daughter is just like a friend and we naturally talk about anything. Although we are more like mother and daughter due to our age gap, Karena and I always have lots to chat about and we get along great. We even share the same taste in men."

Prodded to comment on the rumoured romance between co-star Raymond Lam who plays an ex-model in the movie, and Ng, which has become a hot topic for Hong Kong tabloids and gossip websites, both Wong and Mo responded with amusement.

Denying that the rumoured romance was a publicity stunt to promote the movie, Wong said: "In the movie, we paired Raymond Lam with Lynn Xiong (who plays a super model) and Karena Ng with Ronald Cheng. In fact, Raymond and Karena don't really have many scenes together. So, what happened between them is definitely not our doing. Even I was surprised to hear about the rumours of them being together.

"Since both of them are single and unattached, they are free to date whoever they please. I never noticed anything when they were on the set. Well, I can tell you that Raymond loves to bring yummy treats to the set for the cast and crew, while Karena loves to eat delicious food. So, I guess the way to the girl's heart is through her stomach."

Playing the mother to Ng's character, Mo whole-heartedly gave her stamp of approval to the "alleged love-birds". "Raymond is such a handsome fellow, so, of course I'm happy for my dear girl Karena. However, what's most important is that she likes the guy. I've asked her and she says he makes a very good male friend. So, though I can't really tell if they are dating, I think they are in the process of observing and getting to know each other better."

More laughs are in store for the audience as Wong and Mo will be teaming up again for another film project. They will be filming a lunar new year comedy in Hangzhou, China. The movie will be set in a hotel, where people from all walks of life and from around the world converge.

Love Is ... Pajamas opens in cinemas tomorrow.

Going nuclear

Posted: 09 Oct 2012 04:29 PM PDT

Hop onto a complex submarine drama manned by an equally complicated captain.

There are a few actors who command presence immediately. One of them is Andre Braugher, who has done his share of playing formidable characters both on TV and films (Detective Frank Pembleton in Homicide: Life On The Street and Captain Bradford in Poseidon are two fine examples).

Hence, it's a no brainer to cast Braugher in the role of a submarine captain in the new TV drama series Last Resort. But here's the thing: in the pilot, Braugher's character, Captain Marcus Chaplin, who embodies duty, honour and ethics with every fibre of his being, decides to question an order to nuke another country. The failure to follow this command puts his submarine in jeopardy and everyone in it – whether they agree with the captain's decision or not – is deemed an enemy of the state. The captain then docks the USS Colorado on a tropical island to calculate his next move: declaring a nuclear stand-off with his own government.

Braugher, in a telephone interview, theorised: "Because the decision to fire a nuclear weapon is so important, when he (Marcus) receives an order which is incomplete, and in some ways, not done correctly, he feels that it is his duty to question the order. When he does question that order, they are attacked. So they take refuge on an island, in order to defend themselves. And so, I think of Marcus Chaplin as a veteran commander and patriot who has been betrayed by Washington, DC, and he's taking refuge in order to both clear his name and protect his crew."

Braugher was calling from Kualoa Ranch on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, where the cast and crew of Last Resort are in the midst of filming the first season. During this particular call last week, the cast was shooting the show's seventh episode. While Braugher, a Chicago, Illinois native, loves working on the paradise island, he doesn't enjoy the fact that he is so far away from the people he loves. Yet, a chance to work on a show that departs from procedurals, or the usual legal or medical problems, and travels on an unpredictable path, is something Braugher is very interested in.

Then, there is the fact that Last Resort was co-created by Shawn Ryan, who previously came up with other impactful series like The Shield, The Unit and The Chicago Code.

"A number of factors got me interested in Last Resort," he said. "The first factor being the reputation of Shawn Ryan and Karl Gajdusek, the executive producers; followed by my admiration and respect for Martin Campbell, the director. And I found the script to be a very interesting depiction of submarine culture and the potential for a sort of catastrophic nuclear accident. Then I was attracted to the integrity, the smarts and the courage of Marcus Chaplin."

In the course of preparing to play a rogue submarine captain, Braugher spoke with Ryan about Marcus' moral conviction and his history. But rather than being guided by Ryan, Braugher depended on the script to create the character. The 50-year-old actor then supplemented his research by visiting submarines and referring to written materials on the topic.

"I spoke to four different sub commanders, not only on the script, but on what they call commanding presence; you know, how submarine commanders conduct themselves and their relationship with the crew. Then I did a lot of research online and read pieces of fiction and non-fiction that illustrated or depicted the captains and crews under great pressure and great danger. And in essence, used those to get inside the mindset of a naval crew and a naval commander to get a better picture."

According to Braugher, the series is always attempting to recreate the excitement of the pilot (so many things happen in the first 20 minutes of the episode) with an equal cinematic feel in each episode. Undoubtedly, to do this is kind of challenging as the pilot usually has a different schedule and budget compared to the following episodes. Nonetheless, Braugher felt that the cinematic feel is sustained in the episodes he has watched.

The pilot also stands out as it takes place mostly on the submarine, which comes off as a very cramped and tight little place. Braugher noted that it's a little wider than a typical submarine as it has to house a camera crew as well. Different compartments and rooms inside the submarine were recreated on the soundstage.

When asked if the series ever goes back to the submarine at any point, Braugher answered: "Well, the submarine is there in the harbour. We are on an island, because we had to find a base that we can operate from. I believe the rationale is, if the sub was trying to hide in the ocean, it would eventually be detected, and the crew would then be captured or killed. So, landing on the island is our attempt to find a base for ourselves and to operate with some autonomy."

He said that having the show off the submarine keeps the series from becoming claustrophobic.

"By going to the island, we've taken the soldiers to another culture, another environment. There's also conflict with the islanders, conflict within the crew, conflict with the US Navy trying to recapture the sub, and continuing political intrigue – because we have the submarine, the enemy of our enemy are now our friends. There are new ways to tell our stories. So arriving on the island is giving us the base to continue the story telling."

Guess that answers the question of how the series will continue beyond the pilot.

New episodes of Last Resort are aired every Tuesday at 10pm on AXN (Astro Ch 701) and AXN HD (Astro B.yond Ch 721).

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Metro Watch

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 06:59 AM PDT


IT was wrongly reported on page 3 of StarMetro on Oct 9 that Kuala Lumpur City Hall plans to hold the Deepavali bazaar at its Sports Complex in Brickfields. The DBKL Sports Complex in Brickfields was actually the venue for the registration of traders wanting to take part in the Deepavali bazaar this year. The error is regretted.


Want to embrace Death by Chocolate or Duck from Head to Tail? Keen to learn how to make Italian breads or pasta from scratch? Celebrate the Week of Taste with Flavours, The Star's premier food magazine by signing up for a three-hour cooking class beginning this Saturday till Oct 21 at the French Culinary School in Asia, KL or Jaya Grocer, Empire Gallery Shopping Centre in Subang Jaya. The special RM200 gourmet package includes a cooking class, a subscription to Flavours and either a RM150 hamper or RM100 product voucher. For details visit theweekoftaste.com.my/workshops or call 03-2026 9188 fast to book your place.


The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) Selangor branch in collaboration with the Malaysian Mental Health Association is organising a seminar on the religious perspectives of mental health issues on Oct 13 from 9am to 1pm at the MMHA office at Jalan Othman, Petaling Jaya. For details, call or SMS 012-3007377 (Alvin) or visit www.mccbchst.org and www.mentalhealth.org.my.


Kinrara Metta Buddhist Society will be organising a blood donation drive at B2, Jln Bangau 11, Bandar Puchong Jaya on Oct 21 from 10am to 4pm. Free health services and DIY workshops for headache and back pain will also be held including a public talk on "How to Face Death" by Dr. Goh Pik Pin, VP of Kasih Hospice Care Society, on Oct 14 from 10.30am to 12pm. For details, call 012-3732699 (Jon) or visit www.kinrarametta.org.


7 Chakram conducts weekly free Chakra meditation sessions and the learning and sharing of practical techniques as a tool of Art of Living Right to enrich and simplify your life towards happiness on Fridays from 7.30pm to 9.30pm and Sundays from 9am to 11am at 7 Chakram Resource Centre, 40A Jln Awan Hijau, Taman OUG, Off Jln Klang Lama, Kuala Lumpur. Call 03-7987 9188 or 012-6017771 or email 7chakram@gmail.com or visit www.7chakram.com


SMK Taman Yarl Alumni Association Kuala Lumpur is having their 20th Anniversary Celebration on Oct 20 from 3pm to 7pm at SMK Taman Yarl Open Hall to raise funds for improving the school facilities. For details, call 016-2367722 (Wai Lun).

Kuala Lumpur shuttlers fail to bag a hat-trick

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 06:59 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR lost their grip in the boys' Under-12 section at the national junior inter-state badminton mixed team championship in Kedah recently.

They failed in their bid to register a hat-trick after their previous back-to-back victories in 2010 and 2011. In the team event decided over 11 matches from three age-groups — Under-12, Under-15 and Under-18 — the eventual winners Penang ended Kuala Lumpur's campaign with 6-4 win in the quarter-finals.

Kuala Lumpur coach Abdul Halim Abu Bakar admitted they suffered the setback mid-way through the tie when their top ranked boys' Under-12 candidate Chia Weijie could not deliver a crucial point in the singles.

Weijie went down tamely 16-21, 12-21 to Penang's Lee Wei Hong in 20 minutes.

"It was unfortunate that he (Weijie) had a really bad day on a wrong occasion. He definitely performed below his true ability and could not get his game going. His opponent (Wei Hong) was all fired up to score an upset," said Halim.

For the past two years, Kuala Lumpur had a good run with emerging talents surfacing in the boys' Under-12 section.

This season, the duo of Weijie and Lim Chong King registered impressive results in the boys' Under-12.

Besides winning in the singles, Weijie bagged a double when he forged the victorious partnership with Chong King in the doubles at both legs of national junior zone meets and they also went on to live up to their top billing at the Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) championships and the national junior circuit grand prix finals this year.

Weijie was also the boys' singles runner-up at MSSM and national junior grand prix finals.

In addition, Chong King captured the boys' singles title at the MSSM.

After staying undefeated in the group stages with two convincing wins over Terengganu (11-0) and Sabah (10-1) in the recent team event outing, Kuala Lumpur were setting their sights to book their place in the final.

In the tie against Penang, the Under-18 mixed doubles pair of Darren Issac Deva Dass-Chow Mei Kuan and girls' Under-18 doubles combination of Erica Khoo Pei Shan-Goh Yea Ching provided the other two points for Kuala Lumpur.

Penang scored an easier 6-3 triumph over Johor for the victory while Selangor defeated Perak with the similar 6-3 margin in the play-off for third.

Although Kuala Lumpur will be missing the services of Mei Kuan and Erica, Halim said they can still count on several national junior trainees based up Bukit Jalil to beef up their line-up for the team event tournament next year.

"We will have to identify and develop a new batch of emerging shuttlers to continue our domination in the Under-12 age-group.

"We will be revisiting the drawing board and be more results orientated in our approaches. Currently, we have almost 90 trainees going through the paces in the state programme. We are considering to reduce the number of players in the training squad for the coaches to devote more personal attention on them in training.

"Our immediate aim is to retain players showing encouraging progress. We are going to focus on a quality group of youngsters with great potential.

"They need to set their goals to go beyond earning their places in the state training squad and gaining entry to compete at the national junior tournaments," he added.

The trio Tam Tong Pei, Hoo Pang Ron, Aaron Ng Long Wai are expected to make an impact in the boys' Under-16 section while girls' Under-16 trainees Loh Bao Ying, Johana Adryana Saha and Yap Karman are also on the right track in stepping up to the challenges next year.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Depression is widespread

Posted: 09 Oct 2012 04:22 PM PDT

The theme for this year's World Mental Health Day (today) tackles the issue of depression.

DEPRESSION is one of the most widespread of disorders, and often coexists with other serious illnesses.

Today, it is one of the leading causes of disease in the world. What this means is that depression is a major contributor worldwide in terms of total years lost due to disability.

An estimated 400 million people in the world suffer from depression and there are about 3,000 reported suicide deaths every day.

These alarming figures are significant because the overwhelming majority of people who commit suicide are persons with mental illness, particularly depression.

The degree of pain of a person with depression can be understood if one considers that many prefer death to their suffering.

The figures mentioned here should be a wake-up call for us to address depression as a global issue. Thus, "Depression: A Global Crisis" has been chosen as the theme for World Mental Health Day 2012. This day is commemorated all over the world on October 10 each year, and it provides an excellent opportunity to highlight issues concerning mental health.

Symptoms of depression

It is important to differentiate between normal sadness and depression. Under adverse situations, like death of a relative, personal humiliation (loss of face), disappointment, or loss of social or financial status, a psychological reaction is expected, and is of course, normal.

Over a period of time, one can get over this sadness. This is an "adaptive" response to an upsetting situation.

A dysfunctional response, which means a prolongation of symptoms, usually for more than two weeks, can result in clinical depression.

A person suffering from depression may present with low mood, loss of interest in pleasurable activities (anhedonia), decreased energy, feelings of guilt or low self worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, and poor concentration.

Of these, the two significant symptoms are low mood and anhedonia. These problems can become chronic, leading to substantial impairment in an individual's ability to take care of his or her every day responsibilities.

At its worst, depression can lead to suicide, or even homicide.

People who experience depression are often unable to complete daily tasks and do not enjoy activities they previously took pleasure in. They would often worry too much about the future and have negative thoughts about themselves and their circumstances.

Often, they experience irritability and agitation, and may complain of exhaustion. They may become more easily upset with those around them. Irritability, agitation and fatigue are often made worse by changes in sleeping patterns.

Depression can lead to individuals feeling trapped or hopeless about their situation, and suicidal thoughts are commonly experienced. In severe depression, these thoughts are acted upon.

On rare occasions, untreated depression can lead to danger to others as well. For example, in severe post partum depression, the suicidal mother may not want to leave the child "alone", and therefore may murder out of love, and then commit suicide.

Suicide by motor vehicle is dangerous to others as the driver has no control of the actual outcome.

Sometimes, depression can express itself in different ways. It can hide behind a variety of conditions, from being accident prone to sexual dysfunction.

It can also occur together with a great number of conditions like anxiety, panic attacks, alcoholism and drug abuse.

It can also result from physical illnesses like cancer, diabetes and chronic pain.

In some cases, depression could be masked. This is also known as "depression without depression", or "smiling depression". In such cases, the cardinal symptom of depression – low mood – is difficult to elicit and requires great clinical skills and experience on the part of the clinician.

Causes of depression

It's likely that with most instances of clinical depression, the transmission of certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters is disrupted. These chemicals carry signals from one part of the brain to the next.

The three important neurotransmitters that affect a person's mood are serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. When these mood-regulating neurotransmitters fail to function properly, symptoms of depression appear.

The causes of depression, however, are often likely to be the result of a number of inter-related factors. Besides abnormal functioning of chemicals in the brain, other factors like hereditary, stress and personality contribute to the development of depression.

Having a family history of depression does not mean that a person will necessarily develop depression, but it does mean that the risk of developing depression can be higher.

There are usually other stressful life events, like failure in an examination, or a relationship breakdown, or even a chronic illness like cancer that may act as a trigger for the onset of a depressive episode.

Some personality types are more likely to develop depression. There is evidence that people who experience high anxiety levels, are very sensitive to criticism, or those who have a perfectionist personality, have a higher risk of developing depression.

Treating depression

There are two major forms of treatment for depression that may be used individually or in combination, depending on the type of depression.

Psychological treatments for mild depression provide a supportive environment for a person to work through difficulties.

Mental health professionals like psychiatrists and clinical psychologists can help by providing skills and strategies to change negative thinking patterns and behaviours that contribute to depression and to lessen underlying sensitivity to future episodes of depression.

There are a number of psychological treatments that have evidence supporting their effectiveness.

One defining aspect of clinical depression is a change in the balance of chemicals in the brain that impact on mood. Antidepressant medications, prescribed by psychiatrists, are drugs that help restore the brain's chemical balance to improve mood and relieve other symptoms of depression.

For some types of depression, particularly more severe depression, a combination of both antidepressant medication and psychological treatment has been shown to be most helpful.

Antidepressant medication helps change a person's mood and increases their responsiveness to psychological treatment.

The psychological treatment provides support and strategies to change depressed thinking and behaviour, and improves long-term coping skills to minimise future relapse.

If the depression is severe and debilitating, or if the urge to act out the suicidal thought becomes overwhelming, a brief stay in an inpatient setting might be extremely beneficial.

Prioritising mental healthcare

Investing in mental healthcare, particularly primary healthcare, can generate enormous returns in terms of reducing disability as a result of depression.

In Malaysia, we have one psychiatrist to a population of 115,000, which is admirable, although ideally, as per WHO recommendations, it should be one psychiatrist to a population of 50,000.

The number of clinical psychologists in the country, however, remains extremely low, and there is an urgent need to employ more clinical psychologists, particularly in the public sector.

In recognition of the need to prioritise mental healthcare, Health Minister Datuk Sri Liow Tiong Lai had set up the Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council, which operates directly under his supervision.

As a result of the council's recommendation, teachers from six schools across the country have been given training to provide necessary mental health intervention for students needing help.

This is a pilot project under the "Sekolah Minda Sihat"programme.

Another pilot project is the "Klinik Kesihatan Minda Sihat", where several government primary care clinics benefited from special training in mental health with the aim of having the capability to provide comprehensive mental health services to the community.

While the government takes a serious view of mental health issues, the private sector too must play it's part.

In developed countries like the United States, it has been estimated that 35-45% of absenteeism from work is due to mental health problems, namely depression. Corporate houses in our country have not woken up to the fact that depression at the work place, often disguised as physical complaints, can result in a huge loss in productivity.

It would be advisable for big corporations to invest in some form of Employee Assistance Programme in order to take proactive measures to prevent work place stress and depression.

Finally, suffering from depression is not something to be ashamed of, or something to feel guilty about. It is not a character flaw or a sign of weakness. Neither is it a lack in discipline or personal strength.

However, it is also not just a "mood" that someone can "snap out of". Depression is a serious condition that can burden not only the individual, but also the nation at large. A holistic approach towards tackling this crisis is necessary.

Early diagnosis, improving accessibility to services, greater empathy, and the reduction of stigma and discrimination will go a long way towards facing this crisis.

The government, non-government organisations and corporate bodies must each play their role in the removal of barriers towards accessing appropriate healthcare for those suffering from depression.

In addition, every effort must be made to promote good mental health for all as part of our transformation towards the status of a developed nation.

Dr Andrew Mohanraj is associate professor in psychiatry at Perdana University Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Kuala Lumpur. He is also a member of the Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council to the Minister of Health, Malaysia.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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