Selasa, 16 Oktober 2012

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio


Khloe K, Mario Lopez to host 'The X Factor'

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 08:54 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Reality star Khloe Kardashian will co-host The X Factor, broadcaster Fox said on Tuesday, putting one of the popular celebrities on U.S. television at the forefront of the revamped singing contest.

Kardashian, who with her California socialite sisters Kim and Kourtney rose to fame in Keeping Up With The Kardashians, will appear on the U.S. version of the show from November.

She will share duties with Mario Lopez, host of syndicated entertainment news magazine show Extra, Fox said in a statement.

X Factor creator Simon Cowell said in September that Kardashian, 28, was his top choice to co-host the singing contest following his firing in January of little-known British TV personality Steve Jones, who had the job as host for the show's first season in 2011.

"The worst kept secret in Hollywood is out," Cowell said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Mario and Khloe are our hosts. They will debut on our first live show in November and I couldn't be happier."

Kardashian married basketball player Lamar Odom in 2009, and the pair got their own spinoff show last year. She has more than 7 million followers on Twitter and has been in the news recently over the couple's efforts to have a baby.

Lopez, 39, is less well known but the former actor hosts Extra as well as a radio show On With Mario Lopez. He is also an author of several fitness books.

Kardashian and Lopez complete the celebrity overhaul of The X Factor after a disappointing first season. Britney Spears and former Disney Channel star Demi Lovato made their debut as judges in September, replacing Paula Abdul and singer Nicole Scherzinger, who were also fired in January.

Lawsuit against TV station of racial bias dismissed

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 08:45 PM PDT

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - A federal judge has dismissed a civil rights lawsuit filed by two black men who said they were rejected for the starring role of The Bachelor on the popular ABC reality television show because of their race.

The discrimination suit filed by Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson in Nashville federal court argued that ABC had never cast a person of color - African-American, Hispanic or Asian - in the show's central role as a matter of policy.

The men's goals were "laudable," but the rights of the show's producers to control their creative content are protected by the First Amendment, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled on Monday in dismissing the case.

Claybrooks and Johnson had sued ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney Co, Warner Horizon Television Inc, which produces the show, Next Entertainment Inc, NZK Productions Inc and executive producer Michael Fleiss in April.

"We felt from the outset this case was completely without merit and we are pleased the court has found in our favor," WB Entertainment spokesman Paul McGuire said on Tuesday. Warner Bros. is a unit of Time Warner Inc.

An attorney representing Claybrooks and Johnson could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The two reality shows in question, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, follow a man or woman's search for a mate that is chronicled through dates with a couple of dozen contenders until a selection is made on the season-ending episodes.

Claybrooks, a former college football player and an entrepreneur, and Johnson, a teacher and football coach, said when they filed their lawsuit that their auditions for the show were perfunctory compared with those for the potential white bachelors.

Claybrooks and Johnson "seek to support social acceptance of interracial relationships, to eradicate outdated racial taboos, and to encourage television networks not to perpetuate outdated racial stereotypes," Trauger wrote.

"Nevertheless, the First Amendment prevents the plaintiffs from effectuating these goals by forcing the defendants to employ race-neutral criteria in their casting decisions in order to 'showcase' a more progressive message."

The Bachelor debuted on ABC in 2002 and The Bachelorette started the next year. As of the filing of the lawsuit in April, neither show had featured a person of color in the leading role and the vast majority of contestants had been white.

Sub plot

Posted: 17 Oct 2012 04:19 AM PDT

Trouble follows submarine crew on the run from the Navy.

A submarine drama on TV is an ambitious project for sure. Already on paper it sounds like something that might be difficult to execute.

Last Resort is the navy series that attempts to break new ground and watching the first 20 minutes of the pilot episode proves to be a nail-biting experience. As soon as viewers are introduced to the command structure on the ship – the USS Colorado – the pace picks up and a tense situation presents itself. What starts out as a routine day in the navy quickly takes a horrible turn when they are ordered to fire a nuclear missile on Pakistan.

Understandably, the people in charge of the sub are curious as to why the order is coming from a lesser used network. But questioning the order, or rather, in this case, where the instruction is originating from, places them in hot water. They are fired upon by their own people and are soon high-tailing it to the nearest safe haven – an island in the middle of nowhere.

Captain Marcus Chaplin (played by Andre Braugher) does his best to keep the US forces at bay for the sake of his crew by threatening to retaliate with nuclear missiles. Unfortunately, to the outside world that's watching, his bold posturing comes across as "the captain has gone mad and is hiding with a powerful nuclear sub".

Not only is there conflict with the navy and White House as the crew have been declared enemies of the state, there are also differences of opinion within the ranks, never mind that it's not exactly the best time to turn on each other. Then again, can you blame them?

None of the crew members asked to be put in this position and would love more than anything to be on home soil, not stranded on some island no matter how exotic it may be. The most vocal of the lot is Master Chief Joseph Prosser (Robert Patrick) who manages to convince a few of the men to be loyal to him instead of the captain.

Braugher's stoic, commanding presence as the captain makes him a believable leader. He may be tough but he also has his fair share of human failings. His executive officer, Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman), trusts him implicitly due to their friendship.

Speedman has come a long way from his days on teen drama Felicity as the boy whom girls always had a crush on. He is still eye candy of course, but his character's loyalty to his commanding officer and wife Christine (Jessy Schram) back home makes Sam very endearing and one of the few good men to root for.

Australians Daisy Betts and Daniel Lissing hold their own as well as Lieutenant Grace Shepard and Navy Seal James King respectively. Grace is one of the first female officers to serve on a US sub but her fellow crewmen can't help but wonder if she got there on her own merit or with her Admiral father's assistance. Meanwhile, James prefers to operate on his own after his Seal commander died and refuses to take orders from Chaplin.

As you might have deduced by now, the action in Last Resort is not confined to the interior of a submarine. The sub crew also has to deal with the island's local population.

Before the USS Colorado arrived, Julian Serrat (Sahr Ngaujah) unofficially ruled the place with his illegal operations. Chaplin and his crew discover the hard way that Julian can be a formidable and lethal opponent when they try to retrieve their kidnapped friends.

Tani Tumrenjak (Dichen Lachman), on the other hand, is a distraction for James who prefers to run around the fictional island of Sainte Marina with the pretty barkeep than blindly follow Chaplin.

Also sucked into the crisis is Sophie Girard (Camille de Pazzis), a scientist who works for NATO. She chooses to stay on the island instead of fleeing because she feels that she can help with the situation by using her knowledge of the place and her connections.

Viewers also have an idea of what's happening on the mainland through the eyes of rich girl Kylie Sinclair (Autumn Reeser), who is eager to find the USS Colorado and get her prototype technology – which essentially makes a sub invisible by masking sound and disrupting its magnetic signature – back.

There's plenty going on and at the moment, the situation seems dire with a lot of questions waiting to be answered. Chief among them: Who betrayed the USS Colorado and why? How will Chaplin and his crew clear their name and get back home?

Series creators Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Chicago Code) and Karl Gajdusek do a decent job of setting up the main story. After the pilot, however, the pacing has been a little uneven (the most exciting parts of the show thus far have been the scenes involving the state-of-the-art submarine) since there are so many characters to keep up with in so many places.

But hopefully, they will find their stride sooner rather than later and reward viewers with some answers early on. Last Resort has the potential to be a great show if they can set it on the right course and keep her steady.

Last Resort airs every Tuesday at 10pm on AXN (Astro Ch 701) and AXN HD (Astro Ch 721).

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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Fighting in Sudan border states kills 600 - minister

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 02:27 PM PDT

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - More than 600 people have been killed in insurgencies that erupted in two Sudanese states bordering South Sudan last year, Sudan's interior minister said on Tuesday in the first official count.

Fighting between Sudan's army and SPLM-North rebels broke out in the oil-producing state of South Kordofan in June 2011, shortly before South Sudan became independent.

Violence then spread in September 2011 to nearby Blue Nile state which also borders the new African republic.

The fighting has forced more than half a million people to flee and stoked tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, former enemies in a civil war that was fuelled by oil, ethnicity and religion.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan of backing the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North), charges dismissed by the South's government.

A total of 633 people have been killed in both states since last year, Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud told parliament. Most of the dead were civilians, the rest government soldiers, he said, without giving an estimate of rebel casualties.

Since the start of the year, 147 people have been killed in South Kordofan and 41 in Blue Nile state, he said.

A total of 791 people have been wounded since last year in South Kordofan, and 151 people were missing there, he added.

South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July last year, under the terms of the 2005 peace deal that ended their civil war. But the two countries have still not agreed on the ownership of a number of disputed territories and their armies have clashed a number of times across the border since the secession.

They agreed to set up a buffer zone along their shared boundary last month after coming under international pressure to end the violence.

But there has been scant progress in parallel indirect talks between Khartoum and SPLM-North, which fought as part of the southern rebel army during the civil war.

SPLM-North, which accuses the government of marginalising large parts of South Kordofan and other border areas, has formed an alliance with other rebel groups to try and topple the country's veteran President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Afghanistan's safest province falling prey to Taliban

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 02:23 PM PDT

BAMIYAN, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Violence is returning to what has long been the most tranquil region of Afghanistan, where fears of a resurgent Taliban are as stark as the ragged holes left by the bombing of two ancient Buddha statues in cliffs facing the Bamiyan valley.

The Large Buddha niche backdrops the town of Bamiyan, in central Afghanistan in this August 16, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/Files

The Large Buddha niche backdrops the town of Bamiyan, in central Afghanistan in this August 16, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/Files

Bamiyan had been seen as the country's safest province due to its remote location in the central mountains and the opposition of the dominant local tribe, the Hazara, to the Taliban, mostly ethnic Pashtuns who massacred thousands of Hazara during their austere rule.

But now, after 11 years of a NATO-led war against the Islamists, insurgents are edging back into the province, burying roadside bombs and striking at foreign and local security forces. Five New Zealand soldiers were killed in August.

The violence in a region that was a bellwether for NATO's Afghanistan strategy underscores how rapidly security could deteriorate across the country once foreign combat soldiers leave by the end of 2014.

Local people say the insurgent stranglehold is now so tight that the province is effectively cut off by road in all directions and safely reachable only by air.

"When there are no flights out of Bamiyan, I put myself in the hands of God and travel by car," says District Governor Azim Farid, now sheltering in the capital Kabul.

Adding to the despondency is a decision earlier this year by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, to call off negotiations to rebuild the two ancient Buddha statues, destroyed by the Taliban over two weeks in 2001 because they offended religious fundamentalists. UNESCO cited funding constraints.

NATO-led coalition forces say the recent insurgent attacks in Bamiyan are a tiny fraction of overall attacks across Afghanistan, although it could represent an attempt by the Taliban to retake the initiative.

"There has been an increase, but to put it in perspective this accounts for 0.06 percent of the total enemy-initiated attacks in all of Afghanistan," a coalition spokeswoman said.

Until the attacks began to spiral in July, when nine Afghan police were killed in two bombings, Bamiyan was a NATO success story.

It was one of the first provinces where security was handed over to Afghan forces in 2011, raising hopes that even tourists could soon be revisiting Bamiyan's soaring mountains, plunging azure lakes and ruined forts that once held out against an attack by a son of the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan.

Last winter, the province hosted a small international ski competition.

Now, local residents are trying to arm themselves, as they did during the brutal civil war between rival ethnic warlords that left thousands dead in the 1990s.

"The people are thinking the best course of action is to re-arm in any way possible to prepare for the Taliban coming back and preventing another slaughter," says Farid, his face etched with worry as he looks into an untouched mug of saffron tea.

"People regret handing weapons to the government in the past and accepting that the government would bring the rule of law because the government so far has been unable to protect them."

JEWS OF AFGHANISTAN

While eyeing new guns, the Hazara, among the poorest people in the country, are arming themselves with whatever is at hand, from axes to farming scythes and any old weapons left behind.

Most Hazara are Shi'ite Muslims and they are sometimes called the 'Jews of Afghanistan' because of their slaughter and persecution by the Taliban, who are strict Sunni Muslims and consider the Hazara as infidels.

"We are surrounded by different ethnicities, on this side and this side," says local spice shop owner Aziz, who only has one name, gesturing at the Hindu Kush ranges ringing his village which become blanketed in heavy snow during the bleak Bamiyan winters.

To the south and east are the Pashtuns, where the Taliban draw most of their support. To the north are the Tajiks and the Uzbeks, who are no friends of the Hazara either.

When NATO transferred the province to Afghan security control, the government promised to send more police, intelligence officers and an army unit.

But with the 350,000 strong Afghan security forces stretched to combat the insurgency in the Taliban's southern and eastern strongholds, those reinforcements never arrived and police numbers have been cut by a fifth from around 1,000.

That has led to the Taliban spilling into Bamiyan from neighbouring provinces. Government supporters have been dragged out of their cars at makeshift roadblocks, one was beheaded for simply for wearing a Western t-shirt.

Residents say that when tied to the threat of roadside bombs, they are effectively trapped in the safer central parts of the province.

"So many wars have passed through here and I have experienced them all. No one wants to protect us and look after security here," says Aziz, 44, sitting cross-legged in his shop.

Deteriorating security is also threatening to derail the biggest foreign investment in Afghanistan's resources sector, an $11 billion project to extract iron ore from the Hajigak mines in Bamiyan.

"The private company has expressed serious concern about security at Hajigak, so the government is coming up with a strategy," said senior engineer Abdul Hakim Hikmat at his office at Bamiyan's Ministry of Mines.

ETHNIC SLAUGHTER

When the Taliban last ruled Bamiyan, they took Aziz's shop and belongings, killing one relative. If they return again, the only option is to fight or flee, because foreign military protectors will have left the country, he says.

"We'll cross the Babbar Mountains to a district where there are other Hazara," he said. Up to half a million Hazara, easily identified because of their Asiatic features, have already fled to neighbouring Pakistan and onward to seek asylum in Western countries from Europe to Canada and Australia.

The Taliban now effectively control the north and eastern Bamiyan districts of Kohmard and Shibar, according to the United Nations, because outgunned police stopped patrolling those areas about six weeks ago in the face of the Taliban threat.

Bamiyan's Governor Habiba Sarabi, the only woman to run one of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, says reinforcements are on their way from the central government, although she could not say when.

"This is their duty. They have to do something," she said.

The central government had pinned hopes for tourism on development in Bamiyan, which used to draw thousands of tourists each year to see the ancient Buddhas and the lakes of Band-e-Amir, grouped into Afghanistan's first national park in 2009.

While the lakes remain free from insurgent activity, the Taliban's grip on roads into the province has choked off tourist flows.

Coloured swan paddle boats are unused even on the Friday holiday, with just a handful of locals strolling beneath the dramatic cliffs with their families.

"The real tourists are not here because of problems with the highways in Bamiyan," says Sayeed Ismaeel Balaghi, who owns the boats and who has lived by the lakes for half a century.

On the streets of the main provincial town, also called Bamiyan, many people are fatalistic.

"Of course the Taliban will come here and fight against the people," says 23-year-old Fato, selling fruit from a wagon. "Maybe the people can defend themselves, maybe not."

(Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi and Mirwais Harooni; Editing by Rob Taylor and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Colombia, FARC rebels set to start peace talks Wednesday

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 02:21 PM PDT

BOGOTA/OSLO (Reuters) - Colombia's government and Marxist rebels will start peace talks as planned on Wednesday in Oslo in a bid to end nearly half a century of conflict after logistical problems delayed departure of the delegates, Colombia's government said.

President Juan Manuel Santos, facing criticism on security issues, has launched the latest attempt to negotiate a deal with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas.

"We're leaving now with hope, with moderate optimism. We don't believe in false expectations," said Humberto de la Calle, head of the government's negotiating team, before boarding a plane at a military airport in Bogota with the rest of the team.

"We do believe that there are structural elements that give hope and the idea that we will bring good news to Colombia."

The two sides agreed in August to begin negotiations in Oslo in the first two weeks of October before moving to Cuba for the substantive part of their talks - the latest attempt after several failed peace negotiations since the 1980s.

It was not immediately clear whether the FARC delegation had left for Norway. The parties had been expected to arrive in Oslo last weekend for preliminary meetings, but their departures were delayed by heavy rains in Colombia and other problems.

De la Calle, a former vice president, said the negotiating teams would meet behind closed doors on Wednesday to work out logistics for the official installation and a press conference on Thursday.

The two parties would move to Havana "very soon" after meeting in Oslo, he said without elaborating.

He asked the press for patience and discretion and said information would be provided only through official statements.

FARC leaders have said there were delays in lifting arrest warrants for some delegates. News reports in Colombia indicated a conflict about the composition of the FARC delegation, particularly the inclusion of Dutch national Tanja Nijmeijer.

A spokesman for Interpol said Colombia had asked for the lifting of so-called "red notices," much like arrest warrants, on several FARC members.

Colombia controls only its own notices, and there is a "red notice" filed by the United States for Nijmeijer, alias Alexandra, which has not been lifted, the spokesman said.

In a statement published on Monday, the FARC insisted it had the right to select delegation members, and said Nijmeijer would take part. It is believed she would take part in the Cuban leg of the talks.

While security has improved since a U.S.-backed offensive against FARC rebels and drug barons began a decade ago, the security forces have been unable to land a decisive blow. That has left Santos vulnerable ahead of elections in 2014.

Negotiations in Oslo are expected to focus on laying the groundwork for the later discussions in Cuba, which would focus mainly on land, drugs and political participation issues.

Norway and Cuba have agreed to act as guarantors at the talks while representatives from Venezuela and Chile will also be present.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi and Anna Valderrama; Additional reporting by Helen Murphy and Jack Kimball in Bogota; Editing by Alison Williams and Todd Eastham)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Defending champ Dominika rallies to advance in Kremlin Cup

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 05:53 PM PDT

MOSCOW: Defending champion Dominika Cibulkova advanced to the second round of the Kremlin Cup, rallying to beat Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 yesterday.

The fifth-seeded Slovakian, who won her second career title in the United States in July, struggled in the first set, losing four consecutive games. But she broke Makarova in the 10th game of the second set to stay in the match and soon jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third set.

"The surface is very much different from the one here last year, and it's not the best surface I would say," Cibulkova said.

"Last year it was much softer and it was like a gum. But now it's very slow and very rough. It was not easy to get into the rhythm, that's why I had so many mishits in the first set."

In the second round, Cibulkova will face Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, who beat Varvara Lepchenko of the United States 6-0, 7-6 (3).

Also, Vesna Dolonc of Serbia made it into the final 16, rallying to eliminate Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.

On Monday Czech eighth seed Lucie Safarova advanced past Russia's wild card Margarita Gasparyan and into the second round of the Kremlin Cup here on Monday.

On the opening day of the joint WTA and ATP US$1.5mil tournament the left-hander beat the 18-year-old home favourite 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in two hours two minutes.

Moscow-born Gasparyan started confidently, taking a 3-1 lead with an early break but Safarova than moved up a gear to win five consecutive games for a one-set lead in 38 minutes.

The opponents traded breaks early in the second and held serve until the 10th game when Gasparyan, 227th in the world, broke again to level at one set all after one hour 27 minutes on court.

In the deciding set Safarova, a semi-finalist here last year, was in complete command, breaking her rival's serve twice before serving out the match at love.

"I met her for the first time and I didn't know whom I was playing against while she was serving very well and took the lead," Safarova said.

"But I kept on fighting and won the first set." — Agencies

Chong Wei vows to bag Danish title despite threat from youngsters

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 04:35 PM PDT

ODENSE: The youngsters are baying for his blood but world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei is not perturbed.

In fact, he believes that it will be some time before the new generation of players can make their mark.

And to hammer home his point, Chong Wei intends to bag the Denmark Open title this weekend – which will be his second Super Series title after the London Olympic Games – to show that he doesn't plan to slow down or make life any easier for the new crop of players.

Reigning Japan Open champion Chong Wei's first litmus test will come in the form of Denmark's future star – Viktor Axelsen – in the opening round today.

The others in Chong Wei's half of the draw are Chen Jin of China, Kenichi Tago of Japan and Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark. In the lower half of the draw are defending champion and second seed Chen Long of China, Indonesia's Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Simon Santoso, Denmark's aging star Peter-Gade Christensen and China's second stringers Wang Zhengming and Du Pengyu.

Chong Wei, winner of the Denmark Open in 2010, had tamed world No. 25 Axelsen twice – at the 2011 Hong Kong Open and last month's Japan Open – but the former world junior champion will be a different proposition this time as he'll have the full backing of his home fans.

Last year, Axelsen stunned former Olympic and world champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia in the Denmark Open to reach the last eight.

"Yes, some of the old stars like me do not have many more years left and this is an opportunity for the younger players to beat us ... it will make the world of badminton more exciting and will also a sign for me to retire," said Chong Wei.

"But for now, players like Peter, Taufik, Lin Dan and me are still the crowd pullers. It's the same in the men's doubles too as we can see Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng and Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen still holding the fort.

"The only one who has stepped up is Chen Long (who beat Chong Wei in the Denmark Open final last year).

"I challenge the other younsters – like Viktor, Liew Daren, Chong Wei Feng and a few others with potential in India, to rise up quickly ... otherwise, they'll miss the chance of beating us before we retire."

Malaysia's world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli of KLRC is also a star in the making but his progress has been hampered by injuries and certain limitations as a professional player.

Zulfadli won his first round match against Denmark's Flemming Qauch 21-17, 21-14 in the qualifying tournament yesterday. It was his first appearance in the Premier Super Series event.

Chong Wei is also looking forward to playing in the Denmark Open as it will be his long-time friend Christensen's last home tournament.

"This is his last Denmark Open ... I will miss his company in competitions as he has brought an interesting dimension to the sport. He has also done well as a prominent flag-bearer for Europe in the men's singles competition," said Chong Wei.

"He has launched a book, just like me, and I am thrilled with his venture. Hopefully, the book will be translated into English and other languages soon so that more people can read about his experiences and have an insight into his life."

Zul aims to celebrate birthday with record point haul and podium finish

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 05:56 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Moto3 rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin can look forward to a joyful birthday bash as he is likely to surpass a century of points in the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang on Sunday.

But the celebrations will not come any bigger than if he wins a first-ever career podium right in his own backyard.

With three rounds remaining, Zulfahmi, who will be 21 on qualifying day on Saturday, has amassed 92 points and an eighth placing on Sunday will be enough for him to hit the magical mark.

Zulfahmi had a challenging debut season in 125cc, learning all the curves of the MotoGP racing track around the world in 2010 and finished 24th overall with just four points.

The AirAsia SIC Ajo rider showed vast improvement in his second year to improve his position to 18th last year with a haul of 30 points but this year he has really soared with a new KTM factory bike as the GP125 class was substituted with a new 250cc-based Moto3 world championship.

"To be honest, I never thought I would be in this position before the start of the season. But now that I am, I want to work on achieving higher targets. If all goes well, I should get more than 100 points at the end of this weekend's race," said Zulfahmi, who took part in a laser tag game with the media that was organised by his sponsors AirAsia yesterday.

"Each time I start a race, the target is to finish as high as possible. A podium finish will be a bonus but it is tough based on the current competition.

"It's very, very competitive and, realistically, a top-five finish is possible. But of course, I will seize any opportunities that come my way.

"It will be a celebration for my fans too if I get on the podium in my home race. They are hoping I can do it," added Zulfahmi, who romped to fifth in the Japanese GP at Motegi last Sunday.

Zulfahmi finished seventh at last year's Malaysian GP, the best-ever finish by a local rider but his historic feat was overshadowed by the fatal crash of Italian MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli.

Zulfahmi pointed out that the grid is very competitive even though it's the first year of Moto3.

"Unlike the GP125cc last year where there were usually five riders challenging for wins at every race, there are now about 10 riders every week challenging for a win," he said.

"With such a big group at the front, you cannot choose your position ... whether to control the race from the front or keep close to the leaders and challenge for the lead at the tailend of the race.

"You need to grab any opportunity you have ... you see a gap, you take it.

"You cannot wait, sometimes, you could end up on the gravel bed. But that's Moto3 racing for you," added Zulfahmi, who has chalked up nine top 10 finishes out of 14 races so far, including a career best of fourth in Portugal in May.

Zulfahmi has shown his ability to jostle with the leading pack but there have been times when he miscalculated and slipped out of concention.

"Under current circumstances, I would prefer taking risks than adopting a safe approach and merely collecting championship points," he said.

"I am happy with the approach I am taking now and I think the team's also giving me full support on how I approach the races."

Regardless of where he finishes, his presence alone is the reason why the Sepang International Circuit is optimistic of hitting a record of 70,000 spectators on race day.

How Zulfahmi has finished so far

Qatar Grand Prix (Losail): Qualified seventh, finished sixth.

Spanish Grand Prix (Jerez): Qualified 28th, finished 10th.

Portugal Grand Prix (Estoril): Qualified fifth, finished fourth.

France Grand Prix (Le Mans): Qualified 10th, did not finish.

Catalunya Grand Prix (Catalunya): Qualified second, finished eighth.

British Grand Prix (Silverstone): Qualified 18th, finished ninth.

Dutch Grand Prix (Assen): Qualified 18th, finished 11th.

Germany Grand Prix (Sachsenring): Qualified 20th, finished sixth.

Italian Grand Prix (Mugello): Qualified seventh, finished ninth.

Indianapolis Grand Prix (Indianapolis): Qualified seventh, finished ninth.

Czech Republic Grand Prix (Brno): Qualified third, did not finish.

San Marino Grand Prix (Misano): Qualified eighth, finished 11th.

Aragon Grand Prix (Motorland): Qualified seventh, did not finish.

Japanese Grand Prix (Motegi): Qualified fourth, finished fifth.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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KLCI opens firmer, Maybank leads

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 06:24 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips opened firmer on Wednesday, underpinned by gains in Maybank, in line with key regional markets as sentiment was bolstered by the strong US earnings report.

At 9.07am, the FBM KLCI was up 0.64 of a point to 1,654.16. Turnover was 84.46 million shares valued at RM40.29mil. There were 92 gainers, 38 losers and 108 counters unchanged.

Reuters reported Asian shares rose on Wednesday as strong US earnings reports brightened investor mood, while the euro hit a one-month high against the dollar as Spain dodged a bullet when Moody's Investor Service kept Madrid's investment grade rating.

At Bursa Malaysia, Maybank and MMHE rose five sen each to RM9.13 and RM5.05 while Time dotCom added four sen to RM3.44. Top Glove advanced five sen to RM5.36.

Tasek was the top gainer, up 80 sen to RM12.80 while FACB Industries gained 12 sen to 59 sen sen while Ann Joo added four sen to RM1.37.

Green Packet rose 3.5 sen to 59 sen with 7.11 million shares done while the warrants added 1.5 sen to 21 sen on market talk the company may be in a mergers and acquisitions (M&A) mode.

Malaysian was shortlisted for prestigious Man Booker prize

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 06:08 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Tan Twan Eng shortlisted in 2012 for his book "The Garden of Evening Mists", narrated by Yun Ling Teoh who is the sole survivor of a Japanese prison camp, Reuters repoted.

Tan made it to the Booker longlist with his first novel "The Gift of Rain" in 2007.

Hilary Mantel wrote herself into the history books on Tuesday, becoming the first woman and first Briton to win the coveted Man Booker prize for fiction twice with "Bring Up the Bodies", the sequel to her acclaimed "Wolf Hall".

Two men had previously "done the double" - J.M. Coetzee who was born in South Africa and Australia's Peter Carey.

Chair of judges Peter Stothard described Mantel as the "greatest modern English prose writer" and told reporters she had rewritten the art of historical fiction.

Wolf Hall, her re-imagining of the rise of blacksmith's son Thomas Cromwell to the pinnacle of power in King Henry VIII's court, won the 50,000 pound prize in 2009. - Reuters

Affin Research reviews Reduce rating on AMMB, TP RM6.38

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 06:08 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Affin Investment Research is reviewing its Reduce rating and price target of RM6.38 for AMMB Holdings Bhd, which is based on a price-to-book value of 1.45 times on CY13 ROE of 14.5%.

"AMMB's earnings growth remains mediocre and outlook remains unexciting given potentially weaker loans growth momentum, dampened by the slower household loan segment," it said on Wednesday.

Affin Research said AMMB's KPIs over FY03/13-15 are a PATAMI CAGR of 9-12%; ROE of 14%-15%; cost-to-income ratio of 43%; gross impaired loan ratio of below 2.5%, and maintaining a dividend payout ratio of 40-50%.

On Tuesday, AMMB announced it obtained the approval from Bank Negara Malaysia to start negotiations with Friends Life FPL Limited (of UK) for the proposed repurchase of the 30% equity interest held by Friends Life in two joint ventures, namely, AmLife Insurance Bhd and AmFamily Takaful Bhd.

The proposal would allow both AMMB and Friends Life to pursue separate strategies business strategies and enable AMMB to focus on opportunities relevant to its business model. Notwithstanding this, Friends Life will continue to provide technical support to AmLife and AmTakaful over an agreed period of time.

"We are of the view that the proposed acquisition is mooted in-line with AMMB's objective of increasing their non-interest income contribution to the group to at least 40% in the group compared to 32% at present. Consistent with this strategy, AMMB has been on an active acquisition drive in the course of the year, positioning the group to be a major player in the insurance market," it said.

Affin Research pointed out the recent completion of the acquisition of Kurnia Insurans Malaysia has propelled the group to be the largest general insurance player in the country.

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Khan and Kapoor in Bollywood 'royal' marriage

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 07:00 AM PDT

MUMBAI: Bollywood glamour couple Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, who have been dating for five years, finally tied the knot in Mumbai on Tuesday in a much-anticipated Indian celebrity wedding.

Kapoor, 32, and Khan, 42 - India's answer to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie - held a quiet official ceremony at the groom's home, which will be followed by an evening reception at the grand Taj Mahal Palace hotel.

The newly-weds married in front of close friends and family, before emerging to pose and wave to the large press pack and fans waiting outside. Kapoor was dressed in an embellished red shawl, while Khan wore a simple grey kurta.

"It was a registered marriage with three witnesses - Kareena's father Randhir Kapoor, her mother Babita and Saif's mother Sharmila Tagore," marriage registrar Surekha Ramesh told the Press Trust of India news agency.

The couple, dubbed "Saifeena" by the media, come from famous acting families and their wedding attracting frenzied media attention.

"Party time" ran the headline in the Mail Today, which offered breathless coverage of a pre-wedding function in Mumbai on Sunday evening.

"Dressed every inch like a bride-to-be, Kareena dazzled in an orange- yellow lehenga (skirt) and a shimmering golden choli (top)," it said.

"Beau Saif Ali Khan turned out more on the simpler side. He looked dapper in a white outfit."

Superstar actor Shah Rukh Khan - no relation to the groom - was one of the first big names to congratulate the couple on Twitter.

"Happiest marriage bond to my friend Saif & Kareena. May Allah keep (your) family healthy & happy. Just saw it is registered, sealed & delivered," he wrote.

Friends have been tight-lipped about the private event, but the bride's uncle, actor Rishi Kapoor, confirmed to AFP that the wedding day would be followed by a reception in Delhi in the near future.

"It is a very joyous moment for our family," he said.

Another celebration is reportedly planned at the Pataudi Palace, the ancestral home of Khan in northern Haryana state.

Khan became the new Nawab (Muslim prince) of the former princely state of Pataudi last year after the death of his famous cricketing father Mansur Ali Khan, well known as "Tiger Pataudi".

Khan's mother is an award-winning actress and his sister Soha is also in the movie business.

Kapoor hails from one of Bollywood's foremost acting dynasties, started by her great-grandfather Prithviraj.

Her grandfather Raj Kapoor was a cinematic legend while his brothers and a number of relatives have become well-known names in the industry.

Khan, who has appeared in about 50 films including 2001's "Dil Chahta Hai" (The Heart Desires) and "Hum Tum" (You and Me, 2004), has two children with his previous wife Amrita Singh. They divorced in 2004.

Kapoor, entering her first marriage, has similar number of film credits to her name including hits such as "3 Idiots" (2009) and "Jab We Met" (When We Met, 2007).

She appeared alongside Khan in this year's spy flick "Agent Vinod". - AFP

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Burst pipe causes water disruption in Klang and Kuala Langat

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 06:59 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: Residents in several areas in Klang and Kuala Langat near here were experiencing an unscheduled water supply disruption on Tuesday after a pipe of up to 1,300mm in diameter burst at a location Lam Bee and Lipat Kajang.

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) Corporate Communication and Public Affairs Department assistant general manager Priscilla Alfred said the incident was detected at midnight Monday and immediate action was taken to turn off the water supply valve at 1am.

"Following the incident, it is estimated that part of the 113,345 households in Klang and Kuala Langat are experiencing unscheduled water supply disruption, especially those living in high areas," she said in a statement here Tuesday.

In Klang, the areas affected are Bukit Tinggi 1, Bukit Tinggi 2, Bandar Parklands, Bandar Botanik, Ambang Botanik, Jalan Batu Unjur, Jalan Kim Chuan, Taman Bayu Perdana, Bandar Puteri, Industri Megahub, Taman Kota Permai, Pendamar Indah, Taman Andalas, Taman Sentosa, Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan Raja Nong, Jalan Uganda, Jalan Penghulu Abu Bakar, Taman Petaling, Taman Selatan, Taman Chi Liung, Taman Palm Grove, Teluk Gedung Indah A and Kampung Pendamar.

Also affected are Persiaran Raja Muda Musa, Jalan Tengku Badar, Jalan Kastam, Pandamaran, Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital, Teluk Gedung Besa, Sobena Jaya, Kampung Delek, Sungai Bertik, Sungai Udang, Jalan Istana, Jalan Limau, Jalan Raja Jumaat, Jalan Langat, Kampung Lombong, Kampung Batu 7, Jalan Kebun, Kampung Johan Setia, Jalan Johan Setia, Berjaya Park, Pulau Indah Fasa 1, Pulau Indah Fasa 2, Kampung Pulau Indah, Armada Putera, West Port, Kampung Telok Gong, Pulau Ketam, Banting, Taman Eng Ann, Berkeley and Bandar Baru Klang.

In Kuala Langat, the affected areas are Telok Panglima Garang and Sijangkang.

Priscilla said at press time, Syabas contractors were still in the midst of repairing the pipe.

"We expect the repair works to be completed by midnight Tuesday and that the water supply to the affected areas will be restored in stages over the next two days," she said.

She also said that Syabas had deployed six water tanker lorries to supply clean water to the consumers in the affected areas.

Consumers are also advised to use water wisely and to contact Syabas' customer service centre at its toll free line 1-800-88-5252 for more information, she added. - Bernama

A-G’s Report: Higher Education Ministry fails to monitor progress of sponsored students

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 05:56 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The failure to update the training information system had resulted in inaccurate payment to sponsored recipients under the Academic Training Scheme for Institution of Higher Education (SLAI), the Auditor-General's Report stated.

The report said there was a lack of monitoring by the Higher Education Ministry on the progress of sponsored students.

It said that a total of 99 sponsored recipients who had reported themselves at public institutions of higher learning (IPTA) have not submitted their thesis, still writing thesis or waiting for viva (oral examination for thesis) results.

The SLAI's objective, under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, is to ensure that at least 60% of IPTA academic staff be equipped with PhD qualification or its equivalent by 2010.

There was also lack of evidence that the extension of the study period was approved, and there were cases of approval by unauthorised officers, according to the report.

The report said the Higher Education Ministry had not met its target to sponsor 3,517 staff as opposed to its target 6,103 from 2006 to 2008.

"The target was not met, despite RM1.102bil was spent from 2006 to 2011," the report said.

In its reply, Higher Education Ministry said it had not met the target because there was a lack of interest and qualified candidates. It also cited other factors such as family problems, exceeding age limit, and that "candidates were not ready for it".

A-G’s Report: RapidKL’s financial standing is not satisfactory

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 05:51 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: RapidKL has accumulated a total loss of RM293.82mil as at Dec 2010 despite making slight profits in 2009, according to the Auditor-General's Report 2011.

Tan Sri Ambrin Buang said in the report that the profit in 2009 was due to the federal government fund of RM112.23mil under the Economic Stimulus Package.

"Based on the audits, we believe that the financial standing of RapidKL is not satisfactory as it incurred losses in 2008 and 2010.

"From the feedback we received, one of the main factors that RapidKL is not making profits is because of the working and management cost that is rapidly increasing," said the report.

The report also recommended that the RapidKL Board members must ensure that the performance of the company was reviewed from time to time to ensure that the objectives were achieved in a bid to improve the quality of public transport services.

In a response, RapidKL said it will continue to work to ensure that all the initiatives taken will be able to make profits and reduce the operational working cost to improve its financial standing.

"The Monitoring Audit Committee in Prasarana will ensure that all the steps taken by RapidKL will be implemented effectively," it stated in the Treasury Report.

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Three DOs and two council presidents frontrunners for PJ mayor post

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 06:31 AM PDT

NOW that Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Mohamad Roslan Sakiman is certain to take up a new post at the Selangor state secretariat in Shah Alam, the big question is who will be his successor.

Among the names being bandied about for the Petaling Jaya mayor's post are three district officers (DO), namely Datuk Bakhtiar Hussin (Klang), Datuk Zulkepli Ahmad (Petaling) and Datuk Mohd Amin Ahya (Hulu Langat), and two council presidents Datuk Mohamad Yacob (Ampang Jaya) and Datuk Asmawi Kasbi (Subang Jaya).

For now Bakhtiar, Zulkepli, Mohd Amin, Mohamad Yacob and Asmawi are seen as the possible candidates.

All five are said to be senior officers and have the necessary qualifications and experience to take up the post as mayor of the most developed council in Selangor.

According to a source, Bakhtiar, 54, who became the Klang DO in 2006, could be given the post as he had previously served as the state assembly secretary.

Bakhtiar holds a Masters in Business Administration from University of Hull, UK.

Another senior official who also has an edge is Zulkepli, 58, who is familiar to Petaling Jaya staff as he had served as the deputy mayor from 2006 to mid-2007 and was Hulu Selangor council president before being transferred to head Petaling.

Zulkepli is a University Malaya Bachelor of Arts and International Relations graduate.

He had served in the Public Services Commission in 1978 and has been in the civil service for 34 years.

Mohd Amin, 51, who had taken up the post of Hulu Langat DO on Sept 3 this year could be transferred again. He was the Sepang DO from March 8, 2007 until August this year.

Among the council presidents, Mohammad Yacob, 55, who had served at the state economic planning unit as the chief assistant secretary (social development) from 2001 to 2004, holds a Masters in Public Administration. He has been with MPAJ since 2006.

According to another source, another likely candidate is Asmawi who has an edge as he has years of experience in the civil service sector and is well-liked by his officers and staff.

Asmawi, a civil servant for the past three decades, served 15 years with the Federal Government and 15 years with the Selangor government. He graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science in 1978.

Prior to his current position, he was the Kuala Langat district officer since 2005.

Meanwhile, a Selangor government source said it is unlikely Roslan's transfer, which is imminent, will take place anytime soon.

He said this was due to the pending general election.

"The transfer will take effect after the general election and Petaling Jaya will surely see a new mayor taking over from Roslan," the source added.

Meanwhile, the Selangor Residents Association Coalition (Apac) adviser Mohamed Umar Peer Mohamed said the post of Petaling Jaya mayor offered big challenges and those who assumed the post must understand that the city's green initiatives were an integral element.

"The new mayor must also emulate Roslan's leadership qualities, especially in being a good listener."

Mohamed Umar said Roslan had introduced various urbanisation programmes that caused the city to prosper and the Federal government must reward him with a promotion.

It was reported earlier that Roslan would be transferred to Selangor state secretariat as deputy state secretary 1 (Development) soon.

Society for Sustainable Development and Local Governance-PJ pro-tem president Eashvara Lingam echoed the same sentiments, saying that a promotion should be given for the good work done by the mayor.

Roslan was appointed as the second mayor of Petaling Jaya in August 2006, replacing Datuk Ahmad Termizi Puteh.

On Dec 3, Roslan will take up the new post after he returns from a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Since the announcement, speculation has been rife over who would take over as mayor from Roslan.

"No matter who gets the post, the person has a tough job to do," said Mohamed Umar.

Metro Watch

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 05:09 AM PDT

HEALTH FORUM

A free health talk "Exercise for a Healthy Lifestyle" by Tropicana Medical Centre on Oct 20 from 10am to 12.30pm. To register, call 03-62871206 (Mei Yee), 018-2116789 (Benjamin) or email meiyees@tropicanamedicalcentre.com. Free admission.

STRESS MANAGEMENT

Vishwa Nirmala Dharma Society and Malaysian Indian Congress will be holding a stress management session at Netaji Hall at MIC headquarters, Jalan Rahmat 1, off Jalan Ipoh in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 18 at 7.15pm. Admission is free. Call 016-3249214 (Mahesh) for details. A similar session will be at 8, LG-7, Menara Bangsar, Jalan Liku, Off Jalan Riong in Kuala Lumpur at 6pm on the same day and every Thursday. Call 016-3229302 (Joyce) or 012-2095414 (Kani) for details.

CULTURAL DIVERSITY

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman will be conducting a two-day workshop on "Managing Culture Diversity" on Oct 22 and 23. The workshop is to help those who work with people from different cultures and nationalities to understand their behaviours and working styles. For details, call 03-79572818 or 016-2233563 (Sia/Izad) or email cee@utar.edu.my.

BLOOD DONATION

A blood donation drive on Oct 28 at Confucian Private Secondary School, Lorong Hang Jebat, Kuala Lumpur. Organised by CAC Met-hodist Church, Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall and Confucian Private Secondary School. Free medical consultation and blood screening available. For enquiries, call 03-20783206 or 016-2892470 (Jacob).

ART EXHIBITION

The Alliance Fran├žaise de Kuala Lumpur is hosting a contemporary art exhibition by two Malaysian art groups from Oct 5 to 26. 'Toi, Nature et Moi' will feature the artworks of Seni Collective and IN-FEST artists. It is open from 9.30am to 8pm at 15 Lorong Gurney, Kuala Lumpur.

DODGE BALL SESSION

YMCA KL will be conducting free dodge ball sessions every Wednes-day at its volleyball court. Sessions are from 8pm to 11pm. For details, call 03-22741439 or email programmes@ymcakl.com.

DOG COSTUME CONTEST

Dress up your dog in the most creative "Frankenstein" style and stand a chance to walk home with amazing prizes. Contest is at Level 5, Splash Park, The Mines shopping mall at 5pm on Oct 27. Visit www.the-mines.com.my and www.facebook.com/theminesshoppingmall for details.

HATHA YOGA

Divine Life Society Petaling Jaya branch will have Hatha Yoga classes at Cobra-IJM Sports Complex, No. 7, Lorong Utara B, Jalan Utara, Petaling Jaya. Classes held every Sunday. Intermediate course is from 3.30pm to 5pm followed by beginners course from 5pm to 6.30pm. For details, call 012-259 2617 (Perumal) or email prasiv108@yahoo.co.uk.

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Checks on bogus degrees

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 07:35 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) has developed a software to identify bogus degrees, diplomas and certificates.

The system involves printing a 'QR code' on both sides of the certificates to prevent forgery.

Its developer claimed that the software called 'Academic Record QR Information System (ARQIS) Scanner' is the first of its in the world.

UTM Built Environment Faculty lecturer Dr Muhammad Zaly Shah Muhammad Hussein who developed the system said forged documents could easily be detected by scanning the code and running it through a database.

"The software includes a scanner like those used at supermarkets.

"The codes contain important information such the name of the university where the student graduated from, course details, date of graduation and the student's basic personal information," he said.

Muhammad Zaly Shah added that higher education institutes had to purchase the ARQIS system to verify the unique QR codes that links to a student information database.

"Employers then can use a reader programme to scan the code to determine if the certificates are genuine," he said.

Even if the certificates are photocopied, the QR code could still be scanned as it cannot be forged.

The new anti-forgery software had taken a year to develop with an investment of RM100,000 and is currently used by three public and a private university.

In relation to the software, UTM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Zaini Ujang said that the univeristy would focus on marketing the product at several local universities.

"The software is an easy way to identify genuine and fake certificates, not only for paper qualifications but also marriage certificates and the likes," he added.

Two honoured with Royal Education Award

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 07:36 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Spurred by the mission to prove to others that one can excel academically as well as in co-curricular activities, Bachelor of Science graduate Wan Ahmad Hazman Wan Daud had worked hard to achieve his goal.

The 23-year-old who majored in Land Administration and Development at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), graduated from his course with flying colours and was one of two recipients of the university's highest honour, the Royal Education Award.

He added that there were a lot of sceptical people who think that students could usually only focus on academics or co-curricular activities, not both.

"It had been my goal since the first day I stepped into the university four years ago, to do well in both aspects by juggling and managing time well," he said when met at the university's 49th convocation here.

He also said that besides paying full attention and never skipping classes, he also juggled time between participating in Reserve Officers Training Unit (Palapes) and as national president of the Student Representative Council (MPP).

The eldest of six sons to a contractor and a housewife, Wan Ahmad Hazman also shed tears when he thanked his parents, who he said never stopped giving him support and were always there for him.

Another graduate, Lai Khin Wee, 27, who received the Chancellor Award for his PhD in Biomedical Engineering, said that the hard work was worth it despite not having many friends due to the workload.

"I studied in Germany for two years and a year at UTM under a scholarship for my PhD and had to learn basic German in four months to adapt to the life there.

"My course mates and I used to have picnics at the park but most of the time we did not have much time to socialise but it was a valuable experience academically," said Lai, who hailed from Kuching, Sarawak.Wan Ahmad Hazman and Lai were among a total of 5,304 diploma, degree, masters and PhD graduates, who received their scrolls during the convocation ceremony.

During the ceremony, Johor Sultan's Consort Raja Zarith Sofiah Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah, who is also UTM Chancellor said that the graduates needed to have the edge and initiative to be innovative and creative to compete in a global economic environment.

"I would like to remind the graduates to adopt a lifelong learning culture whether formally or informally, in order to keep up with the modern and changing times.

"Graduates should also bear in mind about balancing between career and family responsibilities and should display good personality and personal development at all times," she added.

Illicit cigarettes and alcohol confiscated from trader

Posted: 15 Oct 2012 05:15 PM PDT

MALACCA: A trader's tactic to elude the authority by camouflaging contraband with plastic products was foiled by Customs department officers who raided his premise.

The 44-year-old man had carried out his illegal activity from the shoplot in the Hang Tuah Jaya Industrial park at Ayer Keroh for three months.

But his illicit trade was short-lived when the Customs enforcement team had put him under surveillance following a public tip-off.

State Customs director Datuk Mohd Nasir Said said his officers raided the premise after concluding their surveillance mission.

"We had kept an eye on the trader and ambushed when he was at the height of his illegal activity," he said.

During the operations, some 23 brands of clove ciggarettes and ordinary cigarette brands and other liquor were seized from the shop.

"The quantity of cigarette is worth RM669,000 with unpaid excise duties close to RM4mil.

"The liquor in the premise are worth RM2,331 with an unpaid duties amounting RM9,754," he said.

Mohd Nasir added that the trader was detained and his vehicles were also impounded during the operation.

He added that the trader had used the rented shop on the pretext of selling plastic goods.

"We believe the goods were meant for local distribution and scored from neighbouring states."

Mohd Nasir said the case is being investigated under Section 135(1)(d) of the Customs Act 1967.

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