Khamis, 13 Disember 2012

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

China cracks down on "slay red dragon" doomsday cult

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 09:00 PM PST

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has launched a crackdown on a cult it says is calling for a "decisive battle" to slay the "Red Dragon" Communist Party, and which has been spreading doomsday rumours, state media said on Friday.

In recent weeks, hundreds of members of the "Almighty God" group have clashed with police, sometimes outside government buildings, in central Henan, northern Shaanxi and southwestern Gansu provinces, according to photos on popular microblogs.

(The group) has "incited followers to launch a decisive battle with the 'Big Red Dragon', to make the 'Red Dragon' extinct and to establish the reign of the kingdom of the 'Almighty God'", the provincial Shaanxi Daily said on its website.

It added that the sect's followers have been distributing leaflets saying that the world will end in 2012.

China's Communist Party brooks no challenge to its rule and is obsessed with social stability.

It has particularly taken aim at cults, which have multiplied across the country in recent years. Demonstrations have been put down with force and some sect leaders executed.

"The State Bureau of Religious Affairs has already documented the group's cult nature, has outlawed it and is presently harshly cracking down," the Shaanxi Daily said.

It did not say how many followers the sect had.

The State Bureau of Religious Affairs did not answer repeated calls from Reuters seeking comment.

Former President Jiang Zemin launched a campaign in 1999 to crush the Falun Gong religious group, banning it as an "evil cult" after thousands of practitioners staged a surprise but peaceful sit-in outside the leadership compound in Beijing to demand official recognition of their movement.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee, Additional reporting by Huang Yan, Editing by Jonathan Standing and Elaine Lies)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Japan's LDP set for big win in Sunday election - polls

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 06:52 PM PST

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is on track for a stunning victory in Sunday's election, returning to power with hawkish former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the helm, and possibly ending Japan's political gridlock.

Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) leader and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to voters during his official campaign kick-off for the December 16 lower house election, in Fukushima, northern Japan December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Issei Kato (JAPAN)

Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) leader and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to voters during his official campaign kick-off for the December 16 lower house election, in Fukushima, northern Japan December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Issei Kato (JAPAN)

Opinion polls by the Asahi, Yomiuri and Nikkei newspapers on Friday forecast that the LDP was headed for a hefty majority in the powerful, 480-seat lower house of parliament.

The LDP and its smaller ally, the New Komeito party, could even gain the two-thirds majority needed to break through a policy deadlock that has plagued the world's third biggest economy since 2007.

An LDP win on Sunday would usher in a government committed to a tough stance in a territorial row with China, a pro-nuclear power energy policy despite last year's Fukushima disaster and a radical recipe of hyper-easy monetary policy and big fiscal spending to end persistent deflation and tame a strong yen.

Sino-Japanese relations chilled sharply after Japan bought tiny islands also claimed by Beijing from their private owner.

Abe may temper his hardline toward Beijing with pragmatism as he did when he took office in 2006, but he may have less leeway to do so this time as tensions escalate and experts agree his focus will be to bolster the U.S. alliance.

Japan is in its fourth recession since 2000 and business sentiment worsened for a second straight quarter in the three months to December and will barely improve next year, a central bank survey showed on Friday.

The worsening business outlook strengthens the case for the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to take bolder action to support an economy hurting due to the global slowdown and pressure from the row with China. The BOJ holds a policy meeting next week.


Between 30 percent and nearly 50 percent of voters were undecided just days before the election, the surveys showed. Experts said that was unlikely to affect the general trend, although turnout will probably fall below the 69.28 percent seen in the last lower house election in 2009.

Contributing to the indecision is a fragmentation of the political landscape that has resulted in a dozen parties, some of them just weeks old, contesting the election, and confusion over policy differences between the main contenders.

"Unlike the past two (lower house) elections, the main points of contention are not so clear and in that sense, it is hard for voters to understand," said Yukio Maeda, a political science professor at the University of Tokyo.

"But if there is no huge news, bad or good, in the next few days, there is unlikely to be a shift that is beneficial or detrimental to any particular party," he said.

The surveys showed that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which surged to power three years ago promising to pay more heed to consumers than corporations and break bureaucrats' stranglehold on policymaking, could win fewer than 70 seats. That would be its worst showing since its founding in 1998, the Nikkei said.

The new right-leaning Japan Restoration Party, created by popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and now led by outspoken nationalist Shintaro Ishihara, was struggling and might win fewer than 50 seats, the Asahi newspaper showed.

If the LDP and the New Komeito control two-thirds of the lower house they could enact legislation even if it is rejected by the upper chamber, where they currently lack a majority.

Since 2007, no ruling bloc has had a majority in the upper house, which can block bills other than treaties and the budget.

But over-riding the upper house is a cumbersome and time-consuming process, so the LDP and its ally will be aiming to win a majority in the chamber at an election next July when half the seats are up for grabs.

Related Stories:
Shinzo Abe: comeback kid with conservative agenda

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Korean American tourist detained in North Korea

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 06:34 PM PST

SEOUL (Reuters) - A Korean-American tourist who visited North Korea last month for what was to have been a five-day trip has been detained by police in the reclusive state, associates of his family and activists in Seoul said.

Kenneth Bae, 44, was in a group of five tourists who visited the northeast city of Rajin, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, citing a report by the Kookmin Ilbo newspaper. Bae entered North Korea on November 3 for a five-day visit.

"What we know is that he is a person who wants to help poor children, kotjebis (homeless children), and he took pictures of them to support them later," said Do Hee-youn, a North Korean human rights activist and head of the Citizens' Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees.

There are said to be thousands of homeless, starving children in the North after a famine in the 1990s. Kotjebis translates into English as "fluttering swallows".

It was impossible to confirm Bae's arrest in one of the world's most secretive states and there has been no formal announcement on North Korean media.

The Swedish Embassy in Seoul did not immediately respond to an inquiry about whether it was aware of the arrest. Sweden handles the affairs of U.S. citizens in North Korea because Washington does not have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

Kookmin Ilbo, owned by an evangelical church in Seoul, reported it was expected Bae could be released in two or three weeks. The paper cited an unidentified source and it was not possible to confirm the report.

It cited sources as saying Bae had been arrested for carrying a computer hard disk which contained footage of North Korea executing defectors and dissidents. This was also impossible to verify.


U.S. citizens of Korean descent have previously run into trouble in the North. Robert Park, a missionary, was detained after entering the country in late 2009 and says he was tortured for protesting against the country's human rights record.

Earlier that year, former U.S. President Bill Clinton flew to Pyongyang to secure the release of two American journalists who had entered North Korea illegally.

The U.S. State Department declined to comment on the reports.

"I don't have anything for you on that one way or the other, for privacy reasons," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing.

A pastor at a Korean church in Washington state, who said Bae's mother attended services there, said the mother, Myung Bae, had prayed for her son's release on Wednesday morning after learning of his detention from news reports.

"She just learned that he had been detained," pastor Chan Song of the Korean Emmanuel Church in the Seattle suburb of Lynnwood told Reuters. "She's scared. ... She doesn't know how he was detained."

Bae's mother has attended a morning prayer group at the church for several years, the pastor said, but her son was not a member of the church. Efforts to contact the mother at her Washington state home were unsuccessful.

The office of state Senator Paull Shin, a Korean-American whose district includes parts of Lynnwood, was trying to find out more but was not in contact with the family, legislative assistant Jeff King told Reuters.

On Wednesday, North Korea sparked calls for sanctions from Washington and others when it fired a long-range rocket that put a satellite into space.

Critics say the North is breaching U.N. Security Council resolutions that prohibit it from activities linked to nuclear development or missile technology.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Quinn in WASHINGTON and Laura L. Myers in SEATTLE; Ediing by Paul Tait)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

The Red Fix is what you need to make your day

Posted: 14 Dec 2012 03:04 AM PST

The Red Fix is what you need to make your day.

GIGGLES can be infectious. The Red Fix (Monday to Friday, 4pm to 7pm) with Terry and Azura is a show that contains loads of explosive glee and due to its content, is not suitable for those prone to laughter attacks.

With music to pick your mood up and topics that are trending, you are well warned to expect entertaining shows ahead. Whether you are heading home after a long day or heading out for a long night, these two energetic hosts will keep you in good company. On top of that, there's also movie passes, cash prizes, dining vouchers and holiday getaways to be won.

All next week, win tickets to watch the fantasy romance Upside Down starring Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess.

Christmas has come early with Terry and Azura giving away a Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio coffee machine worth RM599 and a box of Nescafe Dolce Gusto capsules worth RM27.99 daily from Dec 17 to Dec 21. We all need our daily coffee fix and it is getting increasingly expensive, so why break the bank when you can indulge in great coffee daily at your very own home or office with the prize they want to give you.

Brace yourself as you are in for a good time when you tune in every Monday to Friday from 4pm to 7pm to The Red Fix with Terry and Azura.

For more information, log on to and join the Red FM Malaysia Facebook fan page on or follow us on Twitter @iloveredfm.

Red FM is owned and operated by The Star. Red FM's station frequencies: Taiping, Kedah, Perlis & Pulau Langkawi: 98.1FM, Georgetown & Seberang Perai: 107.6 FM, Ipoh, Perak: 106.4 FM, Klang Valley, Negri Sembilan & Tapah: 104.9FM, Kuantan, Pahang: 91.6 FM, Batu Pahat and Malacca: 98.9FM, Johor Bahru and Singapore: 92.8FM


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Affin maintains Buy on AirAsia

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 05:32 PM PST

Published: Friday December 14, 2012 MYT 9:33:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Affin Investment Bank maintained its "Buy" call on AirAsia Bhd after the latter's move to put in an order for 100 Airbus A320s.

"All in, we are positive with the development. No change to our earnings forecast at this juncture. Maintain Add recommendation on AirAsia. Share price has been under pressure on concern of stronger competition in 2013 from new start-up Malindo Airways, and will likely see more pressure now that the stock is being taken off from the FBM KLCI Index," it said in a research report.

It said fundamentally, the airline has shown resilience in the face of competition and tough market environment (in the past and till now) with its lean cost structure and continuous expansions.

Slated to be delivered starting 2013, the 100 Airbus A320s orders consist of 36 A320s with the Current Engine Option (CEO) and 64 A320s with the new Engine Option (NEO) and is part of the group's strategy to accelerate growth in its core markets in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and new markets in Japan and the Philippines.

"The recent weakness in price, suggests a good opportunity to accumulate on the stock. No change to our target price of RM3.70 based on 12 times calendar year 2013 earnings per share. We continue to like AirAsia for the group's regional expansion, efficiency and sound fundamentals. Risk to our call is further selling by the foreign shareholders. As at end-August 2012, the foreign shareholdings stood at 52%," it said.


FBM KLCI snaps winning streak, opens lower

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 05:26 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The FBM KLCI clawed back some of its gains this morning after surging for for eight consecutive days, taking cue from weaker regional markets.

At 9.09am, the local bourse shed 2.98 point to 1649.77 points with 41.26 million shares traded, valued at RM20.04 million. There were 70 gainers, 114 losers and 134 counters unchanged.

"On the domestic front, we think that the FBM KLCI Index would likely trade sideways again as investors look to take profit following the local bourse's strong performance having clocked up 8 days of successive gains amounting to 45.4 points or 2.8%," HwangDBS Vickers Research said in a market preview note today.

Overnight market, US equity indices retreated between 0.6% - 0.7% last night as investors grew concerned on the standoff in federal budget negotiations. It said this overshadowed stronger economic data released yesterday indicating lower unemployment claims and a rebound in retail sales.

Regional markets were weaker on concerns of the US fiscal cliff, on concerns that US lawmakers might not be in time to avert a fiscal crisis with an end-of-year deadline looming.

Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 0.43% to 9701.02, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.26% to 22,445.58, Shanghai's Composite Index lost 1.02% to 2,061.48.

While Taiwan's Taiex dipped 0.48% to 7719.99, and Singapore's Straits Times Index drop 0.03% to 3155.53.

Trading interest might be stirred in Astro, Felda Global, MMHE and AirAsia, after Astro and Felda Global were announced as new constituents in the FBM KLCI Index following the semi-annual review, replacing Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering (MMHE) and AirAsia.

Meanwhile, Axiata announced that it will be acquiring its Cambodian rival Latelz Co for USD155 million (or RM470 million).


Malaysia-Market factors to watch on Dec 14(Friday)

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 05:21 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Following is a list of events in Malaysia as well as news company-related and market news which could have an influence on the local market.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares, oil fall on fears of US 'fiscal cliff'

SE Asia Stocks-Mostly weak; Manila further slips below record peak


* BiotechCorp announces partnership to improve healthcare for tropical diseases at Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Kuala Lumpur at 0930am (0130).

* Prime Minister Najib Razak receives courtesy visit by Thai Defence Minister Sukumpol Sawanatat at the Prime Minister's Office, at 1120am (0320), and attends East Coast Economic Region meeting at Special Meeting Room, Prime Minister's Office, Putrajaya at 1515pm (0715).

* K&N Kenanga Holdings Bhd's media briefing on the acquisition of ECM Libra Investment Bank Bhd at Kenanga International, Kuala Lumpur at 1130am (0330).


> Nikkei Dec futures, options seen settling at 9,720.36 -sources

> US STOCKS-S&P 500 ends 6-day winning streak on 'cliff' anxiety

> TREASURIES-Prices ease as 30-year auction mediocre

> FOREX-Yen on track for another sorry week as BOJ looms

> PRECIOUS-Gold falls as Fed fears prompt funds to liquidate positions

> Oil falls as fiscal cliffhanger fuels caution

> VEGOILS-Palm oil ends off 3-year low on stocks, U.S. fiscal woes


> AirAsia unveils $9.4 billion Airbus order

> Encana, PetroChina take $2.2 bln stab at joint venture

> Phillips considers sale of Irish, Malaysian refining stakes

> India Nov cooking oil imports drop by a third on the mth-trade

> Malaysia's Axiata buys Cambodia telco rival for $155 mln

> Petronas awards production sharing contract for Sabah block

> FEATURE-Malaysia's plan to dam its frontier for energy generates dismay - Reuters

DIARY - Malaysia 14/12/12 8:08:13(Friday)



* SEPANG - Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd recruits more aviation security personnel at Bunga Raya Complex, KL International Airports, Sepang at 0800am (0000).

* PUTRAJAYA - AID presentation by Yayasan Tunku Abdul Rahman 2012 at Higher Education Ministry, No. 2 Tower 2, Jalan P5/6, Presint 5, Putrajaya at 0900am (0100).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Nestle (M) Bhd's continues commitment to the environment and ecosystems at Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Kepong at 0900am (0100).

* PETALING JAYA - Rural and Regional Development Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal launches "Apa Khabar Orang Kampung" programme at Sri Pentas, Bandar Utama at 0830am (0030).

* KUALA LUMPUR - BiotechCorp announces partnership to improve healthcare for tropical diseases at Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Kuala Lumpur at 0930am (0130).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Hwang Investment Management Bhd fixed income market outlook at Hwang IM Office, Menara Keck Seng, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur at 1000am (0200).

* KUALA LUMPUR - BMW Group Malaysia media briefing at MINI Ingress Auto Bangsar, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur at 1015am (0215).

* PETALING JAYA - Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin Fah Kui launches Real Deal Expo at Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre, Petaling Jaya at 1030am (0230).

* PUTRAJAYA - Prime Minister Najib Razak receives courtesy visit by Thai Defence Minister Sukumpol Sawanatat at the Prime Minister's Office, Putrajaya at 1120am (0320), and attends East Coast Economic Region meeting at Special Meeting Room, Prime Minister's Office, Putrajaya at 1515pm (0715).

* KUALA LUMPUR - K&N Kenanga Holdings Bhd's media briefing on the acquisition of ECM Libra Investment Bank Bhd at boardroom of K&N Kenanga, Kenanga International, Kuala Lumpur at 1130am (0330).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Jamil Khir Baharom attends opening of Abdul Rahman bin Auf Mosque at Batu 5 1/2, Japan Puchong at 1200pm (0400).

* KUALA LUMPUR - MMC Corp Bhd holds EGM at Istana Hotel, Kuala Lumpur at 1500pm (0700).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Ismal Sabri Yaakob launches 'Back to School Sales 2012' at AEON Alpha Angle, Wangsa Maju at 1500pm (0700).

* KUALA SELANGOR - Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Noh Omar opens Sungai Yu fishing pier at the fishing pier, Kuala Selangor at 1500pm (0700).

* PUTRAJAYA - Launching of 1Citizen Certification programme for institutions of higher learning at Higher Education Ministry, Presint 5, Putrajaya at 1945pm (1145).

* PETALING JAYA - NAZA Group's 2012 media appreciation night at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co Citta Mittal, Citta Mall, Jalan PJU 1A/48, Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya at 2000pm (1200).

* KUALA LUMPUR - Prime Minister Najib Razak attends the Malaysian Medical Association dinner at Grand Hyatt Hotel, Jalan Pinang, Kuala Lumpur at 2030pm (1230).


* KUALA LUMPUR - Nomura Asia Equities 2013 Outlook Malaysia at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur at 0900am (0100).

* PETALING JAYA - Nakamichi Corp Bhd holds EGM at Tropicana Golf & Country Resort, Petaling Jaya at 1100am (0300).


* KUALA LUMPUR - Release of Nov 2012 Consumer Price Index At 1700pm (0900).


* KUALA LUMPUR - Release of International Reserves as at 14 Dec 2012 at 1700pm (0900).


* KUALA LUMPUR - Market and Public Holiday - Christmas Day.


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

NOTE: The inclusion of diary items does not necessarily mean that Reuters will file a story based on the event. - Reuters

VEGOILS-Market factors to watch Dec 14(Friday)

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

* Malaysian palm oil futures fell on Thursday to their lowest in more than three years, as record stocks and concerns that U.S. fiscal woes might drag on global growth spooked investors.

* Wheat futures extended a five-session decline and set a fresh five-month low on Thursday while corn futures fell for a sixth day as technical selling and sluggish export demand weighed on both markets.

* Oil prices fell on Thursday as worries about the economic impact of a U.S. fiscal crisis overshadowed improvements in U.S. jobs data and retail sales.


* Asian shares snapped a week-long winning streak on Friday, tracking global equities lower, on concerns that U.S. lawmakers are still too far apart to avert a fiscal crisis with an end-of-year deadline looming.

* Commodities fell broadly on Thursday, with oil and key metals markets ending down, as a U.S. fiscal deal seen crucial for preventing a recession in 2013 remained elusive before the year-end deadline.


> US soy processors' windfall profits seen fading by early 2013

> NOPA November US soy crush seen at 157.343 mln bushels

> Brazil ports starved of investment, buried in red tape-group

> Cargill expands rail service at Kansas grain elevator

> U.S. drought expands in many farm states

> India Nov cooking oil imports drop by a third on the mth -trade

> India Nov refined palm oil imports up 24.3 pct m/m -trade


> Cargo surveyor Intertek Testing Services to issue Dec. 1-15 export data on Saturday. Another cargo surveyor Societe Generale de Surveillance to issue export data on Monday.

> Malaysia crude palm oil export tax to be formalised in a gazette to be issued on Dec. 17 - Reuters



The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Koo-Tan bring cheer to Malaysian camp by staying in semis hunt

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 06:13 PM PST

MEN'S doubles pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong remained in the hunt for a place in the semi-finals of the World Super Series Finals after pulling off a superb win over world No. 1 Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen of Denmark.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong overcame the resilient Danish Olympic silver medallists 21-19, 15-21, 21-18 after fighting for 73 minutes in an absorbing Group A match.

It was the second time this year that they had beaten the top Danish pair and avenging their defeat in the China Open final recently.

The win handed the Malaysians a lifeline as they had lost their opening match against Olympic champions Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun on Wednesday.

The Danes also have a victory in hand after receiving a walkover from South Koreans Kim Ki-sung-Kim Ja-rang on Wednesday.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong will not be in action today but will have to wait for the outcome of the final Group A match between Haifeng-Cai Yun and Boe-Mogensen.

If reigning world champions Haifeng-Cai Yun win, they will top Group A and make the semi-finals, with Kien Keat-Boon Heong joining them.

"We were determined not to surrender although we were both very tired after staying here for more than a month (playing in the China League)," said Boon Heong. "Mentally, I was tired but I do not want to let it go. It has always been close against these top pairs and we just tried to finish things off well in the end. Our defending was good and that was the key to our win."

Mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying earlier found Denmark's Joachim Fischer Nielsen-Christinna Pedersen too hot to handle as they fell to their second straight defeat.

Peng Soon-Liu Ying needed to win the crucial Group B match but instead found opportunities hard to come by and eventually went down 16-21, 8-21 in 42 minutes last night. Their court coverage was also not up to the mark and it was the Danes who looked more polished as they virtually assured themselves of a place in the semis.

Peng Soon-Liu Ying now need to pull off a miracle by beating Olympic champions Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei in straight games today to have any chance of advancing to the last four.

Peng Soon-Liu Ying, winners of the Japan Open in September, have yet to beat the Chinese pair in four previous meetings.

"We found our rhythm too late in the first game and the Danes had already pulled away. We've never played against them before," said the dejected Liu Ying. Peng Soon added that there was a slim chance of them making the semi-finals.

"It has not been a good tournament for us so far ... we'll try our best to leave with something," he said.

The Danes, meanwhile, can rest easy tonight after bagging two wins.

Nielsen-Pedersen had earlier avenged their London Olympic semi-final loss to Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei on Wednesday, chalking up a 21-12, 23-21 win and were happy to keep the momentum going.

"The confidence was there and we just built on it. The Malaysian pair did not play badly but we were ready for them tactically," said Nielsen, currently ranked fourth in the world with Pedersen.

"It's two good wins for us and we just need to take one game off our next opponents (Indonesia's Muhammad Rijal-Debby Susanto) tomorrow.

"We won the title in Kuala Lumpur two years ago and it'll be great to do it here this time."


Men's singles

Group A: Du Pengyu (Chn) bt Hu Yun (Hkg) 21-18, 23-21.

Group B: Hans Kristian Vittinghus (Den) bt Kenichi Tago (Jpn) 21-18, 21-13; Chen Long (Chn) bt Liew Daren (Mas) 23-25, 21-8, 21-12.

Women's singles

Group A: Li Xuerui (Chn) bt Eriko Hirose (Jpn) 25-23, 21-15; Wang Shixian (Chn) bt Sung Ji-hyun (Kor) 21-19, 21-19.

Group B: Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) bt Saina Nehwal (Ind) 21-13, 21-16; Juliane Schenk (Ger) bt Tine Baun (Den) 14-21, 21-16, 21-8.

Men's doubles

Group A: Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong bt Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen (Den) 21-19, 15-21, 21-18.

Group B: Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa (Jpn) bt Bodin Issara-Maneepong Jongjit (Tha) 21-11, 21-9; Hong Wei-Shen Ye (Chn) bt Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong (Mas) 21-17, 21-16.

Women's doubles

Group A: Qing Tian-Zhao Yunlei (Chn) bt Poon Lok Yan-Tse Ying Suet (Hkg) 21-6, 21-9; Shizuka Matsuo-Mami Naito (Jpn) bt Aroonkesorn Duanganong-Kunchala Voravichitchaikul (Tha) 21-11, 18-21, 21-19.

Group B: Wang Xiaoli-Yu Yang (Chn) bt Matsutomo Misaki-Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) 21-9, 21-9.

Mixed doubles

Group A: Xu Chen-Ma Jin (Chn) bt Sudket Prapakamol-Saralee Thoungthongkam (Tha) 21-14, 18-21, 21-12;

Group B: Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei (Chn) bt Muhammad Rijal-Debby Susanto (Ina) 21-13, 21-10; Joachim Fischer Nielsen-Christinna Pedersen (Den) bt Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (Mas) 21-16, 21-8.

Graceful Ratchanok wins over crowd with humble ways

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 04:07 PM PST

TEENAGER Ratchanok Intanon has certainly come a long way from her humble background in north-east Thailand. The 17-year-old is assured of a big pay cheque after earning a place in the last four of the World Super Series Finals in Shenzhen this weekend.

Ratchanok won over the Chinese crowd with her humble ways as she gracefully clasped her hands together in the traditional form of greeting, often referred to as wai, and bowed to all four corners after beating world No. 3 Saina Nehwal of India in straight games in a Group B match.

Ratchanok chalked up a 21-13, 21-16 win over Saina for her second straight victory over a higher ranked player.

Ratchanok, whose parents were migrant labourers from the Yasothorn province, had opened accounts on a fierce note by beating London Olympic bronze medallist Juliane Schenk of Germany 21-17, 22-20 on Wednesday.

The Thai, who was a delight to watch with her accurate placings and good net play, was happy with her strong run in what is her first appearance in the Super Series Finals.

"I just realised that I'm the first to have checked into the women's singles semi-finals. I've lost many times to Saina, so I am happy to beat her in straight games.

"I do not have high expectations here as the top eight players in this field are equally strong. But now that I'm in the semi-finals, I'll try to take it a step further," said Ratchanok, a three-time world junior champion.

Ratchanok will complete her Group B fixtures against Tine Baun of Denmark. Saina is out of contention as her defeat by Ratchanok was the second in as many days.

Saina, a former world junior champion, was beaten 14-21, 21-11, 19-21 by Baun on Wednesday.

Asked how she took a liking for the sport, Ratchanok said her parents used to work at a badminton centre in Bangkok when she was younger.

"There was a badminton school and I was about five when I learnt to run. The owner was worried about my safety as there was hot water all around.

"I took up badminton and became good at it. Later, I wanted to become a national player like my older friends and play for the country as I felt that it was the best way to help my parents," said the filial daughter, who has given away her prize money to help her father open a food stall.

Ratchanok became the most successful player ever at the World Junior Championships, winning her third straight singles title in Taiwan last year.

Nadzmi a prime candidate for post of BWF president

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 04:07 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: South Korean Dr Kang Young-joong's decision not to seek re-election as the Badminton World Federation's (BWF) president has thrust Malaysia's Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh as the prime candidate for the post.

And Nadzmi, who stands to be the first Malaysian to assume the post if he contests and wins it, said yesterday that he would make a decision soon "now that the post is open for contest".

"There are a few things I need to deliberate on before making a decision. Dr Kang has done his part to improve the organisation of the world body and the next person should take it to a higher level. It'll be a different form of challenge," he said.

"So far, I have good support. It is, however, only right to seek feedback from the affiliates. Holding the post is one thing but you should also be able to do the work. The ultimate objective is to promote the sport and ensure that more prize money is offered for badminton so that it will remain popular.

"The BWF's election is next year (during the Sudirman Cup, which will be hosted by Kuala Lumpur) and I still have some time to decide."

Nadzmi is not going for a third term as the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president next year and that has given him the option to look at something even more challenging at a higher level.

With the headquarters of BWF being in Kuala Lumpur, it will be double joy for Malaysia to have a local man helm the world body as well.


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‘Datuk K’ stable after motorcycle crash in Queenstown, New Zealand

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 07:25 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Khalid Mohamad Jiwa, better known as 'Datuk K', is recuperating at a hospital in Queenstown, New Zealand, following a motorcycle crash Thursday afternoon.

The husband of Malaysian songbird Datuk Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin sustained a broken shoulder, and injuries in the hands and legs when he fell off the machine while avoiding a piece of wood on the highway.

His niece confirmed the crash, which occurred about 12.30pm (Malaysian time) when contacted by Bernama.

She said Datuk K was reported to be stable at the hospital in Queenstown, a resort town in Otago in south-west New Zealand's South Island.

She said Datuk K was in Queenstown to attend to business matters, adding that Siti Nurhaliza and the singer's sister-in-law, Datin Zaiton Mohammad Jiwa, would depart for New Zealand Friday.

Meanwhile, Siti Nurhaliza, via Twitter, apologised to her fans in Banjarmasin, Indonesia that she was forced to cancel her concert, 'Konsert Ekspresi Karya Gemilang' tonight as a result of the accident. - Bernama

Loh: BN win in GE will have positive impact on economy

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 05:36 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: The Chinese community can expect a Barisan Nasional win in the general election to have a positive impact on the country's economy, said MCA publicity bureau deputy chairman Loh Seng Kok.

Support for Barisan, he said in a statement, would encourage completion of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

"The ETP will create 310,000 jobs. But unfortunately, the Opposition is not supportive of the programme," he said.

Loh added that the ETP has shown success in various industries and economists have given positive feedback on the programme, nullifying the Opposition's criticism of the programme.

"Positive growth will be seen in all industries in the country (should Barisan win the elections), especially since the ETP promotes the economy through construction, infrastructure, industrial, oil and gas industries, and others.

"These examples show that the market generally has a receptive attitude towards the ETP," he said.

Loh urged the Chinese community to be discerning towards the strategies used by the Opposition to discredit the Government's efforts to develop the economy, saying that these strategies planted "seeds of chaos and uncertainty for Malaysia".

"JP Morgan Securities equities research executive director Mak Hoy Kit was quoted saying that the equities market and economic outlook in 2013 will be positive if Barisan continues to remain in power.

"In contrast, he holds the opinion that there would be some risk' which will worry investors should the Opposition come into power," he said.

Police bust five in copper cable heist worth RM70,000

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 04:16 AM PST

SERDANG: A group of thieves stealing copper cables were caught red handed at Taman Muhibbah near here.

In the 3.40am incident Thursday, a resident called the police after spotting five men, dressed as construction workers, digging up cables from the ground.

Serdang OCPD Asst Comm Abdul Razak Elias said policemen arrived at the scene within minutes, which prompted the thieves to flee.

"Two managed to get in a car and drive off, one of them got away on foot.

"We managed to apprehend two remaining thieves, one of whom tried to hide under their lorry," he said at press conference Thursday at Taman Sri Serdang police station.

He added that policemen also managed to nab the three men who initially got away about half an hour later.

"We caught the one who escaped on foot about 15 minutes later," he said, adding that police also managed to chase down the two who drove off in a car about 2km away from the scene.

All 16 policemen who were involved in the capture of the five thieves were given certificates of appreciation by representatives of Telekom Malaysia (TM) at the press conference.

Police recovered about RM70,000 worth of copper cables which according to the TM spokesperson affected about 3,000 internet and telephone users in the area.

"However the cost of reinstalling the cables would put the total cost over RM100,000," said the spokesperson.

Along with the cables, police also seized a lorry, which the thieves were using to drag the cable out of the ground.

Also seized were a cable cutter, a machete and construction signs and uniforms.

ACP Abdul Razak said one of the five thieves was a former contractor for TM who used to install the cables in the area.

"We also expect to make more arrests soon as we have acquired numerous leads following this and hope to eradicate such thefts completely," he said.

The detainees, aged between 24 and 44, have been remanded for two days starting Thursday.


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Sealing the deal

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 03:17 AM PST

Money! money! money! Does money really make the world go round? Or is love for money the root of all evil? The Golden Couple follows the life of a big-earning, big-spending youngster who struggles to get afloat when the tables are turned overnight.

In the movie, Spark is a hotshot advertising executive earning big bucks for his company while Jackie is a wealthy entrepreneur running a huge family business.

Though Spark falls for Jackie, she is not convinced of his sincerity. The two start off on the wrong foot and become bitter rivals in business.

Later on, Spark's flamboyant lifestyle freefalls into a debt-ridden nightmare. Ironically, it is when Spark loses everything that Jackie discovers the true measure of the man she regularly locks horns with.

The romantic comedy stars Taiwan's dashing Mike He as Spark and Singapore's vivacious Fiona Xie as Jackie. Co-stars include Malaysian actors like Steve Yap, Chris Tong, Phua Chee Kian, Aenie Wong, Alvin Wong, James Wong, Lai Meng, Josh Lai, Jack Yap and Jess Lee.

Filmed across several locations in Malaysia, including the Golden Triangle in Kuala Lumpurand a five-star resort in Selangor, The Golden Couple is the second movie directed by singer-songwriter turned actor/filmmaker Aniu (real name Tan Kheng Seong) and produced by Adrian Teh (Lelio Popo and The Wedding Diary).

The two have previously collaborated in Ice Kacang Puppy Love (2010), The Wedding Diary (2011) and the yet-to-be-released The Wedding Diary II (2013).

During the launch of The Golden Couple in Kuala Lumpur late last month, lead actress Xie was accompanied by director Aniu, producer Teh, and singer Lee as they met with fans and conducted a press conference to promote the movie.

Cast as the business-minded Jackie in the movie, Xie said the character was very unlike her.

"I'm normally more bubbly and energetic, but the director wanted me to be this cool character," she said.

Xie, 30, who left Singapore's Mediacorp in 2009 to pursue interests ranging from photography to fashion in Hong Kong and New York, shared that she was initially wary about venturing into acting again, but was moved by director Aniu's sincerity and the story he pitched to her.

"I was intrigued to find out that it was his own story and that all he wanted was to share his own experiences. Aniu's so sincere and at the same time so strange. When I first saw him, he didn't say a word and kept filming me. Then, he stopped to ask me a very weird question. He wanted to know what makes me most unhappy," she added, pointing how the director wanted her flesh out sad emotions.

To date, Xie has featured in six TV series and three movies – One Leg Kicking (2011), Rule Number One (2008) and Fist Of Dragon (2011).

As far as odd moments went in the movie, Xie admitted it was rather awkward when she was scripted to bite (movie love interest) Spark's lip when he tried to kiss her.

"It was quite embarrassing for me, because it was my first day on the set and we had just met. We hadn't even had time to say a proper hello yet, and I had to bite him already."

Although the Taiwanese main actor couldn't make it to Malaysia for The Golden Couple premiere due to packed filming schedules, He (also known as Xiao Mei) sent a video message saying how much fun he had working on the movie here and looked forward to returning for more.

"The movie examines relationships. I also learnt a lot from the director and enjoyed playing Spark as he's really a character with a difference and I hope that viewers will like him as much," said He, who has 17 TV series and five movie under his belt and, had to learn to speak a lot of Malay for the movie.

Collaborating with both Xie and He for the first time, director Aniu, 36, felt it was like working with two kids.

"When the two of them come together on the set, they will constantly tell jokes. It is easier to get into character that way given the long hours we have to spend on the set," said the boyish-looking auteur who also had a hilarious cameo role in the movie.

Meeting director Aniu for the first time, Lee, 24 said she was surprised to be offered a role in his new movie.

"I was quite nervous because I only know how to sing and hadn't tried my hand at acting before. But, the director said I didn't have to worry and that I should just be myself," said Lee, who expressed that she is now open to trying other kinds of acting roles.

Lee was the first Malaysian vocalist to win Taiwan's One Million Star (also known as Super Star Avenue) TV reality singing competition in 2010 and released her first album titled Thank You My Love under Warner Music Taiwan last year.

The Golden Couple romances local cinemas nationwide on Dec 13.

Boys don’t cry

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 03:16 AM PST

Singapore film Ah Boys To Men muscles up the growing up process with the military edge.

AH Boys To Men is a Singaporean film that claims many firsts. The first showing Singapore at war. The first that was shot using real military weapons and explosives. The one with the most visual effects. The first to be released in two parts. The first to be filmed at BMTC Pulau Tekong (BMTC is short for Basic Military Training Centre).

And, the man behind it all is none other than Singapore's most prolific and most bankable filmmaker Jack Neo.

The army-themed coming-of-age film has become the second-highest grossing domestic film in Singapore after chalking up more than S$5mil (RM12.5mil) at the Singaporean box office (since November), just behind Neo's own top-grossing Money No Enough (1998), which cracked the S$6mil (RM15mil) mark.

Even the four-minute Recruits Anthem composed by YouTube personality Tosh Zhang (also known as Tosh Rock) to serve as the movie's theme song went viral with 610,000 hits in a month. Zhang also plays a fierce platoon sergeant in the movie.

Over the phone from Singapore, Neo, 56, revealed the greatest challenge of the project was having to film both parts one and two of Ah Boys To Men at the same time. Part one was first released in Singapore on Nov 8, and the second part is due for release in Singapore on Feb 7. He shared that the bulk of the S$3mil (RM7.5mil) production budget went to the use of genuine weapons, pyrotechnics and extras. The special effects-laden battle sequences are a highlight in the movie and took over seven to ten days to shoot."The war scenes in this movie posed the greatest challenge to our art department. We even had to engage a stunts-and-explosives specialist for the project. The extras, who played the dead, had to endure long hours laying under the blistering hot sun with dirt and blood caked on their bodies.

"I've wanted to make a movie like this for a long time. I've always known army life stories would be very well-received. This year is the 45th anniversary of Singapore's National Service, with the Singapore Armed Forces stepping in to lend support, the time was ripe."

Ah Boys To Men revolves around the boot camp experiences of a bunch of young army recruits. The protagonist is a young man from a rich family with a businessman father (Richard Low) and homemaker mother (Irene Ang). Ken Chow (Joshua Tan) has been spoilt by his doting mother and grandmother since he was young. With sub-par A-level results, he has plans to further his studies overseas with his girlfriend.

Unfortunately, his plans are derailed by the Singapore National Service. There he meets a bunch of wacky youngsters – Aloysius Jin aka Wayang King (Maxi Lim), Bang Lee Onn aka Lobang (Wang Weiliang), Man In Ping aka I P Man (Noah Yap) – who help to liven up the gruelling training sessions.

When asked about his casting choice of fresh faced of bloggers and getai (stage) singers sourced via social media networks, Neo said, "I enjoy nurturing new talent, because I feel that the Singaporean cinema scene is still growing."

In the meantime, Neo is still working on the post-production for part two of the movie, which he hopes to impress audiences with during the Chinese New Year season. Ah Boys To Men: Part 1 marches into local cinemas nationwide on Dec 20.

Peter Jackson talks about his blockbuster 'The Hobbit'

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 11:44 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After bringing J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings trilogy to life, filmmaker Peter Jackson is back in the world of Middle Earth with the author's prequel, The Hobbit.

The three-film series opens in cinemas in Malaysia today with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The Oscar-winning director, 51, told Reuters about the 3D film, including the 48 frames per second (fps) format he used, which was widely debated by fans and critics.

You originally intended The Hobbit to only be two parts. Why stretch it out to three?

Back in July, we were near the end of our shoot and we started to talk about the things that we had to leave out of the movies. There's material at the end of The Return Of The King (the final part of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy) in the appendices that takes place around the time of The Hobbit.

We were thinking, this is our last chance because it's very unlikely we're ever going to come back to Middle Earth as filmmakers. So we talked to the studio and next year we're going to be doing another 10 to 12 weeks of shooting because we're now adapting more of Tolkien's material.

At what point did you decide you would direct the film yourself after originally handing it to Guillermo del Toro?

At the time (we wrote the script), I was worried about repeating myself and worried that I was competing with myself. I thought it would be interesting to have another director with a fresh eye coming in and telling the story. But after Guillermo left, having worked on script and the production for well over a year at that stage, I was very emotionally attached to it. I just thought, this is an opportunity I'm not going to say no to.

You hired Gollum (pic below) actor Andy Serkis to do second unit directing on the film, something he has never done before. What made you hand the task to a novice?

I know how strongly Andy has been wanting to direct. One of the problems with second unit is that you tend to have conservative footage given to you by the director. They play it safe. I knew that I wouldn't get that from Andy because he's got such a ferocious energy. He goes for it and doesn't hold back. I knew that if Andy was the director I would be getting some interesting material, that it would have a life and energy to it.

What inspired you to make a film in 48 fps?

Four years ago I shot a six or seven minute King Kong ride for Universal Studios' tram ride in California. The reason we used the high frame rate was that we didn't want people to think it's a movie. You want that sense of reality, which you get from a high frame rate, of looking in to the real world. At the time, I thought it would be so cool to make a feature film with this process.

Not everyone has embraced The Hobbit in 48 fps.

For the last year and a half there's been speculation, largely negative, about it and I'm so relieved to have gotten to this point. I've been waiting for this moment when people can actually see it for themselves. Cinephiles and serious film critics who regard 24 fps as sacred are very negative and absolutely hate it. Anybody I've spoken to under the age of 20 thinks it's fantastic. I haven't heard a single negative thing from the young people, and these are the kids that are watching films on their iPads. These are the people I want to get back in the cinema.

Why all the hoopla over a frame rate?

Somehow as humans, we have a reaction to change that's partly fear driven. But there are so many ways to look at movies now and it's a choice that a filmmaker has. To me as a filmmaker, you've got to take the technology that's available in 2012, not the technology we've lived with since 1927, and say how can we enhance the experience in the cinema? How can we make it more immersive, more spectacular?

George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney for US$4 billion. Do you think you will sell your New Zealand facility Weta someday?

I would if I want to retire at some stage and want to have a nice easy life, which will hopefully happen one day. But in the foreseeable future, the fact that I'm an owner of my own digital effects facility is a fantastic advantage for me.

How so?

When we asked the studio if we could shoot The Hobbit at 48 fps, we promised the budget would be the same. But it actually does have a cost implication because you've got to render twice as many frames and the rendering takes more time. The fact that we owned Weta and could absorb that in-house was actually part of the reason we were able to do the 48 frames.


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Defending champion pushes back the competition in British pool championships

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 04:15 AM PST

DEFENDING men's singles champion Chris Ku from Home and Away overcame stiff resistance to retain his title at the Black Barrel Super League British Pool Championships at the Newcom Club in Kuala Lumpur recently.

Despite taking an early 2-0 lead in the final, his opponent Cho See Woh, also from Home and Away, put up a courageous fight levelling the score at 2-2 and 3-3 forcing the championship encounter to last over seven frames.

"I felt very relieved after sinking the three yellow balls to wrap up a tough match. It was great to secure a meaningful back-to-back victory in the tournament," said Chris.

Chris pocketed RM4,500 for the win and Cho settled for RM2,000 while the losing semi-finalists of M. Keswaran of Studio X and Shamsul Annuar from Home and Away received RM1,000 each.

In contrast, the previous women's singles winner Lee Sook Kwan from CO Snooker had an untroubled stint in fending off challenges from Sarah Yong of Home and Away.

The 26-year-old Sook Kwan was in an uncompromising form as she went on to flex her command with a comfortable 4-0 win over Sarah.

"Going into the competition as the favourite, I was wary of the threats from other contenders. Luckily for me, my competition simply did not rise to the occasion during this tournament," said Sook Kwan, who was also the women's singles champion in 2009 and also help take the team event in 2008.

Sook Kwan took home RM2,800 as the champion while runner-up Sarah earned RM1,000 for her effort.

The two other losing semi-finalists — Krist Kwan (Home and Away) and Mint Yap ( Studio X) — of the women's singles contest received RM500 each.

Meanwhile, the duo of Andy Siow and Taymie Chin were instrumental in securing victory for Studio X 1C1 in the team event.

Studio X 1C1 chalked up a 3-0 win over Home and Away Cougars in the championship tie decided over five matches including the men's doubles and second men's singles.

Andy got to a good start with his win in the first men's singles before he forged a winning partnership with Taymie to deliver a point from the mixed doubles.

It was all over for Home and Away Cougars when Taymie contributed the decisive point in the women's singles for an unassailable lead.

All three matches ended with identical 2-1 scores in favour of Studio X 1C1.

A total of 30 teams took part in the home and away format team event offering RM22,000 cash purse for the top four teams over a two-month period that started in September.

Champions Studio X 1C1 and runners-up Home and Away Cougars were rewarded with RM12,000 and RM5,000 respectively.

Home and Away White Cougars and Hangover Pool Republic received RM2,500 after they ended their respective campaigns in the semi-finals.

Football legend to front Under-12 futsal carnival

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 04:15 AM PST

FORMER national football captain Datuk Soh Chin Aun will be the guest of honour at the Under-12 Junior Futsal carnival at the Rakan Muda Sports Complex in Alor Gajah, Malacca on Dec 23.

The carnival is organised by SportsUnite Sports Club with support from Milo, Figos and Revive. Only the first 24 teams to register will be accepted for the carnival.

Soh, who launched the carnival with a group of children in Malacca recently, will interact with the participants, parents and give away the prizes to the winning teams.

He said he was happy with SportsUnite's initiative promoting unity through sports.

"I share the vision of SportsUnite that sports is one of the best ways to promote unity. To me, it is important to give as many competition opportunities to our young to display their talents and skills.

"The confidence and experience gained from these competitions will make them better thinking players in the future,'' said Chin Aun.

For more information, contact 019-666 2171.


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