Ahad, 14 Oktober 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Cambodia's former king Sihanouk dies in Beijing

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 05:20 PM PDT

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia's former king Norodom Sihanouk, a widely respected figure through decades of turmoil, died in Beijing on Monday, according to an announcement on national television. He was 89.

Sihanouk was a pre-eminent figure in Cambodia's history through a large part of the 20th century. He held considerable power in the 1950s and 1960s when, as a young, flamboyant ruler he held absolute authority and came to symbolise Cambodia.

Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni (R) and his father, former King Norodom Sihanouk, talk to media after arriving in Phnom Penh in this October 20, 2004 file photo. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/Files

Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni (R) and his father, former King Norodom Sihanouk, talk to media after arriving in Phnom Penh in this October 20, 2004 file photo. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/Files

He reigned over Cambodia from 1941-1955 and from 1993-2004.

Sihanouk died of natural causes in the early hours of Monday in a hospital in Beijing and his body would be returned to Cambodia for a funeral at the Royal Palace, the statement on national television said.

In the late 1960s, Sihanouk was powerless to stop his country's slide into the Vietnam War and the 1970s Khmer Rouge "killing fields", under which at least 1.8 million people died during Pol Pot's ultra-Maoist revolution.

He abdicated for the second time in 2004 to make way for his son, Norodom Sihamoni, and went to live in self-imposed exile in Beijing, where he had for years received medical treatment for cancer and diabetes, among other ailments.

After a long period of exile and a U.N.-brokered peace treaty that led to a shaky transition to democracy in the early 1990s, Sihanouk became a figurehead king with limited power. The fate of the monarchy, and the country, then rested with Hun Sen, the current prime minister.

Sihanouk was seen as a symbol of national reconciliation and unity when he retook the throne. Throughout his life he enjoyed the genuine affection of the majority of his people, particularly in the countryside, but he always had enemies in politics.

During a trip to Moscow in 1970 Sihanouk was ousted in a bloodless, right-wing coup led by General Lon Nol, who cranked up the war against Vietnamese and Cambodian communists.

Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge held Sihanouk prisoner in his own palace after their 1975 victory, which ushered in four years of brutality under which almost a quarter of the population died of starvation, disease, execution or torture.

Sihanouk lost five children and 14 grandchildren during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror.

He was forced back into an uneasy coalition with the Khmer Rouge after they were ousted in 1979.

Through the 1980s, the Khmer Rouge and Sihanouk's royalists battled Vietnamese troops and the Hanoi-backed government that Hun Sen eventually led.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said on Monday Sihamoni would fly to Beijing to collect his late father's body.

(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Paul Tait)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Gunmen kill 22 in village in northern Nigeria

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 04:59 PM PDT

KADUNA (Reuters) - Armed bandits descended on a village in northern Nigeria on Sunday, killing 22 people, most of them shot dead as they were leaving prayers at a mosque, the state police commissioner said.

The attack happened in a remote village called Dogo Dawa in Kaduna state, commissioner Olufemi Adenaike told a news conference. He added that two of the robbers had also been killed.

An investigation had revealed it was a revenge attack by the armed gang because four of its members had been arrested by vigilantes in the village and taken to the police.

"Following the arrest, some unidentified armed gang in Kuyello village, mobilised in large numbers and stormed the village in the early hours of Sunday in a bid to rescue the four persons arrested," he said.

"The gang descended on innocent members of the village, killing a total of 22 persons."

Most of the victims were killed as they left the village mosque, although a number were also killed in their homes, he said. He added that two of the gang members had been killed by the vigilantes in revenge.

Like much of northern Nigeria, Kaduna is plagued by an insurgency led by radical Islamist sect Boko Haram. That, and weapons flooding in from its neighbours on the threshold of the Sahara, have aggravated levels of violence in the region.

Armed robberies and local disputes degenerating into deadly shootouts are increasingly common across the impoverished north.

Kaduna also lies close to Nigeria's volatile "Middle Belt", where Nigeria's mostly Muslim north and largely Christian south meet, and where tensions over land and ethnicity often erupt into violence.

Abdullahi Muhammad, the traditional ruler and councillor of Birnin Gwari, a local government area next door to the village, earlier said the attack was carried out by a well known gang.

"The village had been terrorised by an armed group operating from camps in the forest. These armed men mostly attack villages and motorists along the busy Kaduna to Lagos highway," he said.

(Reporting by Garba Mohammed; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Alison Williams and Cynthia Osterman)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Gunmen kill 22 in village in northern Nigeria

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 04:59 PM PDT

KADUNA (Reuters) - Armed bandits descended on a village in northern Nigeria on Sunday, killing 22 people, most of them shot dead as they were leaving prayers at a mosque, the state police commissioner said.

The attack happened in a remote village called Dogo Dawa in Kaduna state, commissioner Olufemi Adenaike told a news conference. He added that two of the robbers had also been killed.

An investigation had revealed it was a revenge attack by the armed gang because four of its members had been arrested by vigilantes in the village and taken to the police.

"Following the arrest, some unidentified armed gang in Kuyello village, mobilised in large numbers and stormed the village in the early hours of Sunday in a bid to rescue the four persons arrested," he said.

"The gang descended on innocent members of the village, killing a total of 22 persons."

Most of the victims were killed as they left the village mosque, although a number were also killed in their homes, he said. He added that two of the gang members had been killed by the vigilantes in revenge.

Like much of northern Nigeria, Kaduna is plagued by an insurgency led by radical Islamist sect Boko Haram. That, and weapons flooding in from its neighbours on the threshold of the Sahara, have aggravated levels of violence in the region.

Armed robberies and local disputes degenerating into deadly shootouts are increasingly common across the impoverished north.

Kaduna also lies close to Nigeria's volatile "Middle Belt", where Nigeria's mostly Muslim north and largely Christian south meet, and where tensions over land and ethnicity often erupt into violence.

Abdullahi Muhammad, the traditional ruler and councillor of Birnin Gwari, a local government area next door to the village, earlier said the attack was carried out by a well known gang.

"The village had been terrorised by an armed group operating from camps in the forest. These armed men mostly attack villages and motorists along the busy Kaduna to Lagos highway," he said.

(Reporting by Garba Mohammed; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Alison Williams and Cynthia Osterman)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Brad Pitt: The first male spokesmodel for Chanel N°5

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 04:25 PM PDT

To its wearers, Chanel N°5 is the essence of femininity perfectly encapsulated in a square-cut bottle. In the brand's latest advertising campaign, it chooses to throw all caution to the wind ... by getting a male spokesmodel.

WHEN the grand dame of Parisian haute couture Gabrielle "Coco" Bonheur Chanel declared, "In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different", she wasn't just harping on empty rhetoric. Decades later, the people at Chanel are still taking this aphorism to heart, by signing on Brad Pitt (pic), 48, as the first male face of Chanel N°5 .

The actor-cum-producer has stepped into a role previously filled by some of the world's leading ladies, such as Catherine Deneuve, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard and Audrey Tautou. Shot by Joe Wright – whose previous works include two Coco Mademoiselle commercials with actress Keira Knightley – this campaign has been shrouded in secrecy since it was announced earlier this year.

But all will be unveiled today, in a global premier sure to raise some perfectly trimmed brows.

Brad Pitt? Who knew?

Chanel devotees know, however, that if there were anyone in this world who had the audacity to rebel against life's tiresome conventions and – in this case – get a ripped hunk to represent a woman's fragrance, it would be Mademoiselle Chanel. She has, after all, pioneered a modernist philosophy when ornate Edwardian styles were all the rage, and launched an iconic fragrance at a time when couturiers and perfumers practised very separate arts.

Now, for the first time, a man has entered the picture; not just any man but one whose rakishly good looks and formidable personality has earned him numerous accolades and the top spot on People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive – twice.

"What's important to remember about Chanel N°5 is how revolutionary this fragrance is. When it was introduced, it broke all the rules by discarding meaningless ornamentation for an honest and open aesthetic, and a scent which embodies liberation from trend, creating a fragrance which remains as modern today as it was during it's inception. Chanel N°5 has always been the most iconic women's fragrance.

"The beauty of its success for all these years is both elegantly simple and complex at the same time. That's what I see being the appeal of this campaign ; it goes beyond the abstract of emotion or beauty to evoke what is timeless, a woman's spirit," said Pitt in a press statement.

Born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the United States, William Bradley "Brad" Pitt has starred in numerous movies like 12 Monkeys, Fight Club, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Troy, Moneyball and Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

The Academy Award-nominated star's fiancee is the equally-famous thespian Angelina Jolie. Pitt and Jolie, 37, have six children: Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne.

For his Chanel gig, he reportedly pocketed a cool seven-figure sum.

It's a pretty reasonable amount, considering how some women – like fashion stylist Andrea Wong, for instance – think Pitt will do a better job at selling the fragrance than Kidman.

"It's a bold move from Chanel to have a man, no matter how gorgeous he is, to be the face of a woman's fragrance, but it might just be one that will pay off. Perfume has always been about seduction, and none more so than the iconic Chanel N°5 . What girl wouldn't want to be seduced by Mr Pitt himself?" says Wong.

Model and emcee Elaine Daly echoes Wong's sentiments: "Oh, it's so clever for Chanel N°5 to do this. Whenever I wear the scent now, I will think of Pitt! And if I don't have it, I will certainly hurry out to buy myself a bottle if it can get me someone like him!"

Former beauty queen Nadine Ann Thomas enthuses: "I never thought Chanel N°5 would associate itself with someone like Pitt. However, it's a nice little surprise for a scent that always prides itself in being very feminine. Pitt adds a muskier, more masculine, dimension to Chanel N°5 that I haven't seen and this is great! I have a bottle of Chanel N°5 at home and I will be looking at it differently from now on."

Not everyone is impressed however.

Ellfian Rahim, deputy editor of New Man, feels that "there is no logical reason for Pitt to be Chanel N°5 's new face, other than the fact that choosing him in the role adds shock value and draws attention".

"Honestly though, I don't see what this guy can possibly do to persuade more women to pick up and use this classic," he adds. "I guess Chanel chose him to illustrate to its audience that they know how to reposition classical points of view."

Although actress Sazzy Falak understands the raison d'être behind Chanel's campaign, she has another leading Hollywood heartthrob in mind for the role.

"I'd pick Johnny Depp because he was married to Vanessa Paradis and he's living in Paris ... you know, he's got the whole French thing going on!" she exclaims.

Love or hate its decision, no one can deny that the brand is taking a creative leap into the unknown.

Shooting star

Just as Pitt makes for an unlikely spokesmodel, Wright is the unlikely filmmaker. While filming his second Mademoiselle advertisement, he was lightly ticked off by the company for being "too romantic". Nevertheless, it was this sensual use of the camera that led to this 40-year-old being offered the N°5 gig.

Wright has matured tremendously since his first collaboration with Chanel in 2006. Working on Chanel commercials, he claims, has allowed him to grow because it gave him the opportunity to make "a small film of art".

"They talk about a world that expresses love and I love thinking about love," he rhapsodises in a press release.

Love is also the central theme in his latest project. To prepare for the shoot, Pitt was encouraged by Wright to think about Chanel N°5 in a personal way.

"We never discussed it in intellectual terms," explains Wright. "We discussed what Chanel N°5 meant to us. I wanted to ground it a real, emotional context." To Wright, the scent is accessible, but also symbolises dreams, luxury and seduction.

"It does not feel like a perfume that is designed to attract a male and yet it does," he says. "It feels more than that and kind of beyond sex."

The result – a black-and-white commercial set against a stark backdrop – features Pitt reciting an ode to a former lover, or so it seems to the viewer. Later, it's revealed that the object of his affections isn't a woman, but Chanel N°5 .

Wright has credited Pitt for his "great American voice", claiming that part of the commercial's magic was derived from it.

"I don't see why perfume commercials shouldn't be moving," says Wright, who has directed movies such as Pride And Prejudice, Hannah and Atonement. "There are lots of handsome men around but it's his soul that comes out in his voice. It gets under your skin."

It is said this intimate approach – the antithesis of today's dense, complicated narrative – was inspired by the classic N°5 Catherine Deneuve advertisements from the late 60s.

"I really admired the simplicity of the Deneuve ads," says Wright. "When you have Deneuve or in fact Brad Pitt, why would you need to decorate that? It would be like gilding a lily. I wanted to create something incredibly simple and strong that really focused on the performance."

The fact that he was shooting the first male spokesperson for Chanel didn't ruffle Wright's feathers. "I am quite irreverent and never really think about whether I am breaking rules or anything," he says. "It just felt right that Brad should be speaking this love letter. So it didn't feel odd or strange to me."

The editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar, Natasha Kraal, says that while she always looks forward to Chanel adverts, this one, in particular, has her heart racing with anticipation. She is optimistic that Wright's work will be just as stirring as past campaigns because "nothing Chanel does is ever without deep thought".

"Chanel commercials have always been more than just an advertisement; they are a dialogue for our times. I'm curious to see how this 90-year-old brand can be reanimated with an unconventional face."

Although Wright is intrigued by the public's reaction to his opus, he isn't worried. As a matter of fact, he's confident that the campaign will trigger a positive influence.

"The world is crumbling at the moment – there is so much loss and despair – and Chanel N°5 stands for an aspiration, a time and self-love."

It is also easy to imagine Mademoiselle Chanel looking down on both men from her heaven of quilt and pearls, and nodding her approval.

The Chanel N°5 ad starring Brad Pitt airs from 7pm today on Astro channels: Prima, Wah Lai Toi, TVBS Asia, KBS World, AXN, Star World, E! Channel and FOX.

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Posted: 15 Oct 2012 01:03 AM PDT

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The Star Online: Sports

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Early comeback boosts Stoner's confidence

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 07:34 PM PDT

MOTEGI - Reigning MotoGP champion Casey Stoner says it was worth the risk to make a comeback at the weekend's Japanese Grand Prix despite not being fully recovered from surgery on his right ankle.

The Australian Honda rider, due to retire from MotoGP racing at the end of the season, finished fifth on Sunday having missed the previous three races because of his injury.

"This weekend I slightly got my confidence back up," Stoner said. "During the race I had the pace to run with the front guys, probably not for the whole race. But we definitely had the pace and that's good."

The 2007 and 2011 world champion crashed in qualifying for the Indianapolis MotoGP on August 19 but still raced there to finish fourth. He underwent surgery on August 30 on torn ligaments and fractures to his ankle, tibia and fibula.

Stoner, who turns 27 on Tuesday, said: "(The accident) made me a lot more cautious, especially to come back here. I didn't really want to crash. Anything I do to my foot can send us back a long way."

The Japanese GP was won by his factory Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa as he beat Yamaha ace and championship leader Jorge Lorenzo into second, keeping alive his hopes to lift his first premier-class title.

The two Spaniards and Stoner have between them won every race this season with Lorenzo winning six against five for Pedrosa and four for the Australian.

Stoner's absence has pushed him out of title contention with just three races remaining.

But he has vowed to go full throttle to end his MotoGP career on a high, especially at his home Grand Prix on Phillip Island later this month where has has triumphed for five straight years.

Stoner, still limping, admitted his body "started to suffer and ache in ways I didn't expect" during the race at Motegi.

He could not put enough weight on the front and his bike suffered a "huge amount of chatter (vibration after braking)" as he protected his right foot, which is still undergoing extensive treatment.

"We had the pace to run a lot higher and get on the podium," he said. "Unfortunately, just physically, I couldn't manage this situation. I'm a little bit disappointed."

Stoner, who had initially planned to come back at the Australian GP at the end of October, said that his Japan outing might help him for the rest of the championship series which will end in Valencia, Spain, on November 11.

"Maybe, this bit of work will be good for it. We'll come to the next race and might be better. I can only hope that much."

The next round will be fought on Sunday at Sepang, Malaysia, where Stoner won in 2007 and 2009.

"It's a physically demanding circuit and I think it's going to be a quite a lot tougher race in a lot of ways," Stoner said of the Malaysian GP.

He added that he had struggled with the amount of corners on the geometric stop-start Motegi circuit.

"So, hopefully, in Malaysia, it's a little bit smoother, a little more flowing," Stoner said. "It's a circuit I had fairly good results (at). We'll have to wait and see." - AFP

Sweden's Blixt wins first US PGA title

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 06:11 PM PDT

SAN JOSE, California - Swedish rookie Jonas Blixt earned his first US PGA victory after rolling in a four-foot par putt on 18 to capture the $5 million Frys.com Open by one stroke on Sunday.

Blixt closed with a three-under par 68, collecting $900,000 in prize money and becoming the third rookie to win on the US tour this season.

"It's unbelievable," Blixt said. "This is the biggest dream I ever had. The greatest two weeks."

Blixt broke through Sunday after coming close this season with three top-10 finishes. He finished third last week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and tied for third at the Byron Nelson Championship.

The native of Nassjo, Smaland, carded his fourth round in the 60s to finish with a 16-under 268 total on the CordeValle golf course.

Americans Tim Petrovic and Jason Kokrak tied for second. Petrovic shot a 64 and Kokrak had a 68.

Third-round leader John Mallinger had a 72 to tie for fourth at 14-under 270 with US compatriot Jimmy Walker, Fiji's Vijay Singh and Alexandre Rocha of Brazil. Walker closed with a 62 and Singh and Rocha shot 68.

Blixt ranks third on the tour in strokes gained putting and managed to recover from a poor approach shot on 18 Sunday by two-putting for the victory.

Petrovic made birdie on the 17th to get to 15-under. He two-putted for par at the last.

Kokrak joined him as a runner-up after he eagled the driveable par-four 17th to gain a share of the lead. He also parred the 18th hole.

Walker, who started on the back nine, shot a course record-tying 62 to vault into a share of fourth place.

Last year's winner, Bryce Molder, carded a two-under 69 to tie for 11th on 273. - AFP

Joker saves five match points to seal a stunning victory

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 05:43 PM PDT

SHANGHAI: Novak Djokovic gained sweet revenge for his US Open defeat to Andy Murray yesterday, saving five match points to seal a stunning 5-7, 7-6 (13-11), 6-3 victory in the Shanghai Masters final.

The iron-willed Serbian was second-best for long stretches but refused to be beaten and sealed his 13th Masters title in a contest lasting 3'21 as he pursues Roger Federer at the top of the rankings.

The thrilling duel, played out in front of a packed crowd at the Qi Zhong Stadium, hinged on a monster second set tie-break that lasted more than 20 minutes, which the second seed won to stay alive in the match.

The defeat was third seed Murray's first loss at the Shanghai Masters after he won the tournament in 2010 and 2011.

"I'm obviously disappointed I lost the match," said Murray. "But it was a top-quality match. Both of us played some unbelievable tennis at times.

"It was literally the difference of one, two centimetres in winning the match and losing it. You have to put things into perspective. It was obviously a bit frustrating but it was so close and could have been a different outcome."

A gruelling first set contained seven breaks of serve as the players went toe-to-toe in a breathtaking display of power hitting, with neither able to grab the initiative.

But Murray, 25, made what proved to be the crucial breakthrough in the 11th game, recovering from 0-40 to break for a 6-5 lead as an infuriated Djokovic destroyed his racquet, tossing it away in disgust.

It was a different story in the second set, with both players secure on serve until the defending champion broke in the seventh game to lead 4-3 when Djokovic netted with a volley.

But agonisingly for Murray, 25-year-old Djokovic, refusing to be beaten, saved a match point to pull level at 5-5 and the set went into the dramatic tie-break.

The Serbian denied the Scot four more times in the shoot-out, sealing the set with a drive volley that was followed by a trademark fist-pumping celebration as the Scot destroyed his racquet.

Two breaks in the decider were enough for Djokovic to claim an unlikely victory.

Murray beat his rival in five sets in last month's US Open final to secure Britain's first men's Grand Slam singles title since the 1930s, just weeks after his Olympic triumph in front of home fans in London.

Djokovic came into the match on a 9-0 winning streak since losing to Murray in New York, a run that included his third China Open title.

The Serbian enjoyed one of the finest seasons in tennis history in 2011, winning three Grand Slams. He is hot on the heels of Federer as he tries to secure the year-end number one ranking for the second year in a row. — AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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Zeti says strong fundamentals needed

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 06:10 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The most pressing challenge confronting policymakers in the crisis-affected economies is to develop an optimal policy mix that will address the fiscal imbalance and impaired financial sector, and structural adjustments that will enhance competitiveness while being able to reduce the adverse impact which the policies have on the economy, according to Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

She said while there was a general consensus that fiscal consolidation and structural adjustment were necessary to regain competitiveness and sustainable growth in the future, in the immediate term it would involve costs to the economy.

As the experience in previous crises had shown, including during the Asian Financial Crisis, there were threshold levels that when breached the economy would be pushed into an even deeper recession, she said in her keynote address entitled "Growth and stability – implications and priorities for Asia" at the Institute of International Finance (IIF) Annual Membership Meeting 2012 in Tokyo on Saturday.

This would in turn increase the cost of the resolution of the crisis and result in an even more prolonged period of weakness, said Zeti, adding that the concern was also the potential huge financial and social costs.

She pointed out that Asian experience during the financial crisis in the late 1990s had also shown that the potential for effective results was enhanced when the policy package was comprehensive.

"Financial restructuring and repair, fiscal consolidation and structural adjustments have their best chance to yield results in an environment in which there is some economic growth," added Zeti.

Another challenge is how policy coordination may be improved, both within and across borders, to maximise the impact of policy measures while minimising the unintended spillovers on other parts of the economy or financial system and across borders.

"Strong fundamentals in Asia will continue to support our prospects in this more challenging environment. Following the Asian financial crisis, several emerging economies in Asia have strengthened their economic and financial fundamentals, improved their fiscal and external debt positions, and reformed their banking sectors. This has yielded tremendous payoffs," she added.

Zeti also said that Asia's development agenda formed a key part of the efforts to firmly anchor the future growth.

First, is the further financial deepening in the Asian economies through the development of market-based and diversified channels of intermediation to support the region's economic transformation. Since the Asian financial crisis, Asia has already made significant progress in this direction, in particular, in the progress and growth of the capital markets. Across Asia, the development of the financial system also continues to be pursued with vigor.

Looking ahead, she said the next phase of Asia's transformation would see a rising and more affluent middle income population.

"There will also be massive investments required for infrastructure and development and for a higher contribution to growth by small and medium businesses.

"This will substantially increase demand for a wider spectrum of high quality financial products and services. The strategy is also for the intensification of financial deepening in Asia to meet the increased demands of domestic investors in the management of their surplus funds," said Zeti.

A large part of Asian funds are still intermediated through the global financial markets and then recycled back into Asia. This increases Asia's exposures to volatile capital flows. Second is the strengthening of financial linkages and connectivity, within the Asian region, and between Asia and other economies including other emerging economies. Asia has reached the stage of development where its further advancement calls for deeper regional integration that will result in greater capital mobility across borders, facilitated by more interconnected financial systems.

As a rapidly growing region, greater regional financial integration will support the more effective and efficient intermediation of Asia's sizeable funds towards meeting the investment opportunities of the region.

Zeti noted that a third imperative was the alignment of the financial sector to Asia's demographic trends. Demographic profiles vary widely across Asia and have a significant impact on economic potential of the region. For many parts of Asia, demographic developments foreshadow significant changes in consumption, health and educational patterns.

Going forward, the access to financing for healthcare, education and retirement will reduce the need for high levels of precautionary savings, and thus strengthen further domestic demand in the economy.

The fourth imperative relates to ongoing efforts to expand financial inclusion. Zeti said financial inclusion had been, and must continue to be, a key component of Asia's overall strategy to achieve balanced and equitable growth.

"Emerging Asia has achieved remarkable progress on this front. The period of higher growth has been accompanied by lifting millions out of poverty. Asia, however, still remains the home of two-thirds of the world's poor. Therefore, much still remains to be done," said Zeti.

She also said the authorities in Asia were at various stages of translating the global financial reform measures into local standards. "The implementation of global financial reforms has, however, also substantially increased the regulatory complexity associated with the proliferation of binding 'one-size-fits-all' prescriptions.

"While these rules mainly aim to address the fundamental weaknesses of the global financial system exposed during the crisis, it is important not to lose sight of other critical elements of sound regulation and supervision," added Zeti.

MKH to gain from MRT project as its property developments are close to the rail line

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 06:07 PM PDT

KAJANG: MKH Bhd (formerly Metro Kajang Holdings Bhd) will derive considerable leverage from the mass rapid transit (MRT) line which runs close to its property developments and the two MRT stations that will be coming up here.

The MRT project aside, group managing director Datuk Eddy Chen Lok Loi said the company was also seeing improvement in its financial figures as a result of its rebranding exercise undertaken a few years ago.

"The quantum leap is waiting to happen for MKH given our strategic landbank of 500 acres to 600 acres in Kajang and Semenyih, excluding the 550 acres turnkey project in Puncak Alam, Selangor," Chen told StarBiz.

The company is planning to launch properties with an estimated gross development value of more than RM5bil over the next seven years in Kajang and Semenyih, including its Puncak Alam RM135mil turnkey project from Puncak Alam Resources Sdn Bhd.

Chen said:"We are targeting to launch our Puncak Alam's mixed development which will include affordable housing by year-end or early next year.

"The year 2017 will be significant as our Puncak Alam project will be completed and the MRT line in Kajang will be up and running thus enhancing the value of our residential and commercial developments.

"At the same time, our plantation will attainfull maturity with expected yields of between 28 and 30 tonnes per ha per year," he pointed out.

MKH, which used to derive its revenue from property development and investment, has added oil palm plantation to its current core business. The plantation division will start to contribute positively from 2013 onwards.

"All these years, we wanted to go into the plantation sector to balance the ups and downs characterised by the property development market," said Chen. It has a total of 15,000 ha planted as at June 2012. Harvesting area as at June this year was about 7,740ha .

Its plam oil mil commenced crude palm oil production at a rate of 60 tonnes per hour and this can be upgraded to 90 tonnes in time to come, he said.

He said the company's earnings momentum was also gathering pace, boosted by higher property development activities which saw its third quarter revenue for the 2012 financial year reaching RM376mil, or a 73% increase compared to the same period a year ago. Property development saw an increase to RM274.1mil from RM118.7mil for the nine-month period a year ago, representing an increase of 130% year-on-year.

The key contributing projects are Hill Park Homes, Pelangi Semenyih 2, its Kajang 2 township developments and the Saveille@Melawati condominium.

Its property investment division, with a value of RM216mil, contributed RM22mil revenue for the third quarter under review, reflecting a marginal increase of 2.8% compared to the same period a year ago.

"This division is providing a steady income, contributing between 12% and 13% to our group profit," said Chen.

MKH's third quarter net profit is expected to reach RM47mil compared to RM21mil for the same period last year, representing an increase of 124%.

Property development and construction division contributed the largest segmental portion of the profit for the three quarters, at RM66mil, compared to RM12mil for the same period a year ago, reflecting an increase of 447.5% increase.

"We saw a four-fold increase profit from property development and higher average rentals and lower operating costs," said Chen.

Despite competition heating up with the entrance of new and bigger players in Kajang and Semenyih like SP Setia Bhd, Mah Sing Group Bhd and Sunway group, Chen said MKH's cutting edge would be its land cost, which was considerably lower than its competitors and its reputation on a home turf.

Jalan Sultan Ismail projects will unlock value in the prime location in KL

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 06:06 PM PDT


PETALING JAYA: The redevelopment of some of the buildings in Jalan Sultan Ismail, one of the longest and main arteries in the heart of the capital, is gaining further traction to unlock the value in the prime location and meet the future demands of the Greater Kuala Lumpur.

Just last week, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), which acquired the former MAS building in late 2006 for RM130mil in cash, awarded a RM673mil contract to Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd to demolish the podium building and build a 50-storey tower hotel with six levels of basement parking. PNB also intends to refurbish the 35-storey office building on the site.

And in June, Tradewinds Corp Bhd confirmed in a news report that it would demolish the Crown Plaza Mutiara Hotel and Kompleks Antarabangsa to make way for a mixed-development project, called Tradewinds Centre. It is reported that the project might cost around RM6bil.

The redevelopments in Jalan Sultan Ismail is not only to further unlock the value of the land there but also to catch up with the growth and development of nearby prime areas such as Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) and Bukit Bintang.

Tradewinds group chief executive officer Shaharul Farez Hassan told StarBiz that the company planned to develop Tradewinds Centre as an iconic building as well as a destination.

"Key to the development will be the concept of urban and environmental harmony.

"As one of the few green buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Tradewinds Centre's outstanding architecture will be complemented by a central Grand Plaza covering a large area of about one acre. This plaza will feature broad open spaces, breezy courtyards, lush landscaping and much more," he said.

Shaharul said the company had consciously allocated a Grand Plaza in the centre of the development, much like to the sunken plaza in Rockefeller Centre in New York and Roponggi Hills.

"The Grand Plaza would be a focal point for the public and users to enjoy the stunning environment, socialise and relax.

"It can also be used for festive events such as New Year countdowns or other celebrations.

"Its signature profile will greatly contribute to the overall composition of the city skyline.

"Its large scale and memorable public plaza unites neighbourhoods in the urban fabric, creating a dynamic focal or meeting point that is systematically linked via pedestrian-friendly walkways and public transportation," he said.

On how the multi-billion ringgit project would further unlock the value of the land, Shaharul explained that the existing buildings were conceived during a period of lesser competition.

"Since then, the city and its buildings have grown to meet future demands for better quality, larger spaces and added features.

"While such buildings can be retrofitted and enhanced to address competition, there are limits to such a strategy. Looking towards the future, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to totally remake this location to serve the city's needs far into the future," he said.

Furthermore, Shaharul said, the plot ratio of the existing buildings was small, at about five, thereby resulting in gross under-utilisation of the potential property value.

"Planned as an iconic, integrated and modern redevelopment with grade A building features, Tradewinds Centre would maximise its potential more than doubling the amount of allowable high value space," he said.

Real estate consultant Rahim & Co group of companies executive chairman Senator Datuk Abdul Rahim Rahman said that in his opinion based on market demand and environment, hotels were more likely a better decision than office building as there was a oversupply of that now.

"And the Government is also confident that tourist arrivals would be good. Furthermore, the hotels rates in Kuala Lumpur are more competitive that in Singapore, Hong Kong and even Jakarta," he said.

As for Jalan Sultan Ismail, Abdul Rahim said it was the prime location before the development of the KLCC which was now fetching better rates.

He added that Jalan Sultan Ismail was a long stretch where rental rates were RM5 per sq ft (psf) as opposed to RM8 to RM10 psf in KLCC.

"Although Jalan Sultan Ismail is not the prime location anymore, it will still remain as one of the prime locations in Kuala Lumpur," he said.

Nevertheless, Abdul Rahim said it might be easier to get better yields in Jalan Sultan Ismail.

"For instance, if one wants to get a good apartment in KLCC area one has to pay around RM1,500 psf, but in Jalan Sultan Ismail due to its long stretch one can get a good apartment at RM800 psf, where it would be easier to get 5% to 7% returns.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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Kid-centric Frankfurt Book Fair

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 08:53 AM PDT

THE Frankfurt Book Fair is spotlighting child and youth literature and its role at the avant-garde of the publishing world with playful apps for smartphones and tablet computers as well as interactive games.

The media world for children and youngsters breaks new ground for publishers in the digital age by pushing the boundaries far beyond the printed book, say organisers of the world's biggest book fair, which opened in Frankfurt, Germany, on Wednesday. The event ends today.

Electronics giant Sony and Nintendo, the titan in electronic games, were slated to be among about 7,400 exhibitors at the five-day fair, reflecting innovations in an industry where "content is king", the fair's director said.

"Children's and youth media are a prototype for what is happening in the publishing industry but also for what is happening at the moment socially," Juergen Boos told reporters.

Sony will showcase its new Wonderbook device, which under the guise of a classic book links up to a PlayStation console to display 3D images on screen for its young user.

As well as homing in on which trends may evolve into universal standards, industry movers and shakers will ponder whether new technology limits the imagination, or encourages it to expand.

"In order to keep up with the changing reading and learning habits of future generations, we need to constantly create new formats and develop and expand popular topics and trends," Boos said.

He said around 1,500 publishers who deal exclusively with the children and youth market were due to attend the Frankfurt fair, describing the sector as a growth area.

The fair not only acts as a kind of "scout" and "navigation system" but is also a forum for bringing together different multimedia representatives to get a project off the ground, Katja Boehne, the fair's spokeswoman, said.

"When someone has a children's book, they look for musicians, they look for technology companies, they also look for computer games experts – and then together, a children's book is initiated," she said.

Dealing with the development of offshoot products from a book has become a trend at the Frankfurt event, she added.

Technological innovation however is not the only way in which children's literature has changed, with content moving away from being either "moral" in style or purely entertaining. "Demanding children's and youth literature, which we now have, has basically also become more entertaining," Boos said highlighting a children's book about a dysfunctional family by New Zealand writer Kate De Goldi.

Education is another major theme at this year's fair which displayed a "classroom of the future" offering an insight into how tomorrow's students will learn with interactive or digitised aids.

With several debt-wracked eurozone countries feeling the pinch, Boehne said they had been pleasantly surprised that attendance figures had remained steady and saw it as a "symptom of the crisis" that exhibitors felt the need to keep in touch with business partners. – AFP Relaxnews

Book Review: 'A Perfectly Good Man' is quietly brilliant

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 08:49 AM PDT

An easy writing style feeds the reader a complex tale of what constitutes goodness.

A Perfectly Good Man

Author: Patrick Gale

Publisher: Fourth Estate, 406 pages

THERE are writers who burst into your life with a razzmatazz of the sort that makes you ransack their backlist and rush out to buy their latest book as soon as it is published, and there are writers who quietly snuggle up to you and nuzzle their way into your affections. If my favourite hard-boiled crime thrillers fit the first category, those by Patrick Gale are a fine example of the second.

Gale is not a writer of melodrama and thrills and adventure but a quiet and perceptive commentator on life and relationships, especially family ones; a writer whose grasp of the big picture (in this case, among other things: What is goodness? How do we attain it?) is firmly rooted in our everyday actions. And when you think about it, he is of course right. Goodness for most of us is not the heroics of a gunfight at the OK Corral; it is moments of kindness, support, compassion and generosity. There is no such thing as abstract goodness, it has to be made flesh or it goes the way of all good intentions. Nowhere.

Barnaby Johnson is the perfectly good man of the title. There is of course a slight ambiguity about that wording; perfectly good also implies not quite good enough. Little wonder, then, that Gale prefaces the book with a quotation from 15th century priest/writer Thomas à Kempis: "All perfection in this life hath some imperfection bound up with it; and no knowledge of ours is without some darkness". The extent of Barnaby's imperfection is not revealed until well into the book but the opening scene is indicative of some of the moral complexity that is to follow.

As parish priest of two remote country churches, Barnaby is called to one of his parishioners. Lenny Barnes is paralysed from the waist down and wheelchair-bound after an accident playing rugby. Under cover of pouring Barnaby a glass of water, Lenny pours himself a lethal cocktail and drinks it. The fatal dosage of drugs bought on the Internet means he will be dead within five minutes. Barnaby gives him the final sacraments rather than calling an ambulance that he knows will not arrive in time. Does that make him an accessory to suicide, a criminal offence?

At the coroner's inquest, Barnaby is challenged.

"So let me get this right for the record, Mr Johnson. Knowing Lenny Barnes to be dying, you did nothing to help him?"

"No, I helped him."


"By prayer. He asked me to pray for him."

A Perfectly Good Man is divided into sections that are initially somewhat confusing. Barnaby's life is effectively told backwards, while the stories of those around him are more chronologically straightforward. These include his wife Dorothy, his daughter Carrie and his adopted Vietnamese son Jim, who later insists on being known as Phuc, with all the trauma and re-orientation that shift of names implies. In a wider circle are other local parishioners and contacts including the wild Australian potter Nuala, who is Lenny's mother, and the book's most insidious character, Modest Carlsson.

If Barnaby is the flawed good man, Modest Carlsson is the closest thing in the novel to everyday evil. His assumed name is a cover for a past in prison where he served time for a sexual offence, after which he found a new life as a second-hand bookseller specialising in pornography. Physically repellent, Carlsson is an ugly toad of a man who follows Barnaby around masquerading as a faithful parishioner while searching for flaws in his character and performance. When he finally finds one, he uses it to destructive and devastating effect.

Gale has many gifts as a writer. The first is an easy, mellifluous, fluent style that is seductively easy to read. In fact, so easy to read is Gale that I wonder sometimes if this, perversely, has had an adverse effect on him being taken as the serious novelist that he actually is, prepared to tackle complex and difficult themes.

But perhaps the finest of his qualities is that he writes with utter authenticity about family and relationships. Time and time again in A Perfectly Good Man I was aware that his analysis of and reflection on his characters' emotional and spiritual lives rang completely true.

There is an elevated ordinariness about Barnaby that is completely engaging as he searches for the way to be a good man, while knowing in his heart that he falls far short of what he would like to be. Tolerance, kindness, compassion – these are the qualities that Barnaby has to access, the sharpest tools in his priestly toolbox, but they do not make for an easy life and they are not fit for all purposes.

I need hardly add that I was gripped and impressed by A Perfectly Good Man and it reminded me of how much I had enjoyed Gale's earlier Notes From An Exhibition.

Slowly but surely Patrick Gale is moving from my "snuggle up and nuzzle" list to the "must have as soon as it comes out" list. Read this and you will know why.


Posted: 14 Oct 2012 02:52 AM PDT

FOR the week ending Oct 7, 2012:


1. Unstoppable: The Incredible Power Of Faith In Action by Nick Vujicic

2. 1D: The One Direction Story by Danny White

3. Sodomy II: The Trial Of Anwar Ibrahim by Mark Trowell

4. The Magic by Rhonda Byrne

5. The Lady And The Peacock: The Life Of Aung San Suu Kyi Of Burma by Peter Popham

6. No Easy Day: The Only First-hand Account Of The Navy Seal Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen & Kevin Maurer

7. I Declare: 31 Promises To Speak Over Your Life by Joel Osteen

8. Soul Food: Stories To Keep You Mentally Strong, Emotionally Awake And Ethically Straight by Dan Clark

9. Guinness World Records 2013 by Guinness World Records Ltd

10. A World Without Islam by Graham E. Fuller


1. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

2. Fifty Shades Of Grey by E.L. James

3. Sidney Sheldon's Angel Of The Dark by Tilly Bagshawe

4. The Sins Of The Father by Jeffrey Archer

5. Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

6. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

7. The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

8. Winter Of The World by Ken Follett

9. Eighty Days Yellow by Vina Jackson

10. The Innocent by David Baldacci

n Weekly list compiled by MPH Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur; mphonline.com.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Mukhriz: Govt wants to develop Changlun as aerospace centre

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 04:52 AM PDT

SUNGAI PETANI: The government intends to develop Changlun in northern Kedah as an aerospace centre following increasing market demand for aerospace industry products in Asia.

International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said although the idea was still new, there were several factors for choosing Changlun as the location, including its large areas of undeveloped land.

"In Changlun too, there is already a company, Asian Composites Manufacturing Sdn Bhd, producing Boeing aircraft components since 12 years ago.

"However, this opportunity has not been tapped to set up support or downstream industries in the area.

"This is a waste, but it's not too late as the aerospace industry in Asia, in particular the demand for aircraft is increasinmg rapidly.

"Therefore, we should make full use of this opportunity," he told a news conference here.

"The approach of the ministry and Mida (Malaysia Industrial Development Authority) is clustering, that is, if there is an anchor industry, we want other companies to come in and set up support industries.

"Many companies are interested, and in fact when I met several small and medium entrepreneurs this morning, they welcomed the proposal and even gave suggestions on how to make the idea work," he said.

Mukhriz also said that Kulim which was known as an industrial area, could also further benefit from the setting up of a science-based university in the area to produce more high-quality human capital to meet the needs of the industries.

"In developed countries like Japan, Taiwan and Korea, science-based universities with focus on research and development are surrounded by sophisticated industries but there is no such university at the Kulim Hi-Tech Park at present."

He said by having such a university in Kulim, close cooperation could be established between the university and industries in spurring industrial development in Kedah without sidelining the agriculture sector.

"Besides, the university will be able to get the latest information on the manpower market trends from the industries," he added.- Bernama

PM in Manila for official visit, witness signing of MILF agreement

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 04:43 AM PDT

MANILA: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak arrived here on Sunday for a three-day official visit, including witnessing the signing of the historic Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Prime Minister will have a tight schedule, beginning with a wreath-laying ceremony at Luneta Park (Rizal Park) here on Monday, followed by an official welcoming ceremony at the Malacanang Palace.

Najib will hold a closed-door meeting with Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III at the President's Hall of the Malacanang Palace.

After that, Najib will lead the Malaysian delegation to an Expanded Bilateral Meeting with the president.

After attending the official luncheon hosted by Aquino, the prime minister and the president will witness the signing ceremony of the landmark GPH-MILF Framework Agreement at Rizal Hall.

Najib is scheduled to deliver a speech, followed by Aquino, at the event, which among others will be attended by Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) secretary-general Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim is also scheduled to deliver a statement at the event, which marks an important milestone towards sealing durable peace in conflict-ridden Mindanao.

Malaysia facilitated and hosted the peace talks between the GPH and MILF since 2001, culminating in the announcement simultaneously in Manila and Kuala Lumpur on Oct 7 of the long awaited peace agreement.

The framework agreement is a road map for establishing a new autonomous region to be administered by the Muslims in the nation's south, and is aimed at paving the way for a long, lasting peace after more than 40 years of conflict in the resource rich but impoverished region.

It will also lay the foundation for a more detailed implementation of the peace agreement.

Besides this, the prime minister will also attend a business dialogue with the Philippines-Malaysia Business Council.

Meanwhile, Najib's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor will deliver a speech at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati.

Among dignitaries scheduled to attend the event are Kris Aquino, sister of the Philippine president, and AIM president Dr Stevan J. DeKrey.

Rosmah, who is an alumni of the institute, will also tour the AIM campus. - Bernama

Ahmad Zahid: Relentless questions about submarines will have negative impact

Posted: 14 Oct 2012 04:15 AM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: The relentless questioning by certain groups, especially the opposition, on the procurement of national defence assets, including the Scorpene submarines, will have a negative impact on the security forces.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the opposition's action aimed at gaining public support for their own political interest could undermine the image of Malaysia's defence among the international community.

He said the action of non-governmental organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) of continuing to question the government's purchase of the two submarines could also be seen as mocking at the level of professionalism of the country's security forces.

He was speaking during a one-day working visit with 80 media representatives to the Royal Malaysian Navy base, here.

Ahmad Zahid expressed regret over the opposition using the issue for political expediency as the general election is approaching, without considering the implications.

"In fact, the opposition is still criticising the purchase of the two Scorpene submarines although the matter has been explained many times including through the media and briefings. Some opposition members were even taken into the submarines for a visit.

"We don't want the issue (purchase of the submarines) to dent the spirit of the submarines' crew members. Don't belittle their capability and that of the submarines.

"Although we have political differences, we should not dispute the capability of our armed forces. We should all appreciate them as security cannot be compromised," he said. - Bernama

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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Threads of Laos tradition

Posted: 13 Oct 2012 07:28 PM PDT

An exhibition of woven works highlights one woman's efforts to preserve Laos' unique weaving traditions.

CAROL Cassidy's works are more than just textiles; woven among the vibrant silk are the threads of her passion for the craft, her efforts to preserve traditions, and her determination to empower struggling communities.

Hailing from the United States, Cassidy has been based in Laos for the last 23 years, where she established her own textile business to preserve and nurture the tradition of hand-weaving silk. Lao Textiles has helped to not only to introduce traditional Loatian weavings to a global market, but also provided scores of women with a means of livelihood – and perhaps even more importantly, empowerment.

The first American to own a business in the country, she was granted permission by the government to set up her company in 1990. After spending years building a relationship with rural silk farmers, she now wholly relies on them for her supply of domestic silk.

Cassidy calls Laos "a weaver's paradise". "It has both a rich history in design and weaving techniques, and weaving is a national treasure here," she says.

Over the years, her works have become renowned for incorporating and reinterpreting traditional Laotian colours, images, symbols and myths with a contemporary aesthetic, as well as using ancient local weaving techniques with a markedly artistic touch.

"We work with ancient and complex weaving techniques that include brocade, tapestry and ikat. I also experiment with new and original combinations; my goal is to create original designs with ancient methods."

A recognised Guggenheim Studio Artist, Cassidy's works have been shown at various prestigious exhibitions around the world, including the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco, in the United States. Her textiles will also be featured in a group exhibition, Out Of Southeast Asia: Art That Sustains, at the Textile Museum in Washington DC next April.

Her weavings, currently on show at Glorious Weaves at Shalini Ganendra Fine Art gallery in Petaling Jaya, are a gorgeous example of her ability to fuse the traditional and the modern.

"I love discovering hidden meanings in the animist pieces of historic Lao textiles," Cassidy says. "I also love exploring their motifs and the way they tell a story, reflect dreams and reveal the weavers' beliefs. I try to honour their work by revisiting their story and telling it again in a different way."

She goes on to explain that some of her pieces begin with an exact replica of rare, historic Lao fabrics, which she then re-stylises, interprets and modifies, while other designs are purely contemporary yet inspired by nature and her surroundings in Laos.

"My passion for weaving over the past 40 years has given me experiences that are unique. I have intense focus on colour, details and design. My work often employs a complex construction but has a simplicity.

"Over two decades in Laos has seen my designs evolve. Most importantly, our senior Lao designers embrace this creative spirit as well."

Even from the beginning of her career, Cassidy's craft seems inextricably linked to rural communities and their development. Having studied weaving in Norway and Finland, she then completed degrees in fine arts, political science and women studies at the University of Michigan.

She then worked for eight years as a textile/fibre consultant for development programmes that improved the lives of indigenous women in southern Africa. On a CARE project, she trained women in Lesotho to produce hand-spun mohair yarn for export, and later, on a rural development project for the United Nations, she helped set up sustainable cottage industries for women in rural Lesotho, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

It was her work with the UN that initially brought her to Vientiane, Laos, where she worked as an advisor on a weaving project. The rest, is weaving history.

Cassidy's efforts in the field of Laotian weaving extend beyond simply raising the craft's profile; indeed, she contributed towards reviving the country's weaving industry as a whole, at a time when it was facing near extinction.

For this, Lao Textiles was given the Product Excellence Award by Unesco in 2001, and the first Preservation of Craft award from Aid to Artisans in 2002.

She continues to advise the UN and other development agencies on income-generating activities for rural women, and shares her model of success with weavers, artisans and audiences throughout the world.

Cassidy's work has also made a tremendous impact on the lives of the Laotian female weavers she employs.

"I have worked with a generation of Lao women weavers who have enjoyed a lifetime of professional employment and all the benefits that come with it – better education for their children, better health, and improved life conditions," she says, adding that she feels privileged to witness the transformation she sees in the community.

"In our 23 years in business in Laos, we have mostly the same staff, and we've watched our young weavers of 19 or 20 get married, have children, build houses and become middle-aged with family."

Cassidy is convinced that textile traditions in Asia play a vital role in national identity as well as community building. Having advised weavers in Assam in northeast India, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Vietnam and Myanmar, among other countries, she has been working closely for the last several years with a group of weavers in Cambodia who are landmine survivors.

"There is a great need and urgency in South-East Asia to focus on preserving textile traditions and other traditional crafts. Textiles are at the heart of many cultures here. I hope that my voice and experience can help play a role in raising awareness," she says.

> Glorious Weaves is on at Shalini Ganendra Fine Art @ Gallery Residence (8, Lorong 16/7B, Petaling Jaya) until Nov 10. Viewing from 11am to 7pm, Tuesday to Saturday. For more information, call 03-7960 4740, or go to shaliniganendra.com.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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