Khamis, 20 Disember 2012

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

To the bitter end

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 08:33 PM PST

GET out of the gloom and doom mode because all is not lost, according to a couple of TV shows.

Even when the world has gone to hell (or is about to go to hell), there are still a few heroes among us who will do the right thing and lead mankind to victory.

It is only at times like, well, the end of the world, for example, that one truly knows the stuff he or she is made of.

So, where do you stand today? By the way, does anyone have Joss Whedon's number? He sure seems to have a thing for this awful scenario as it keeps popping up on his shows (Dollhouse, Firefly, Angel and Buffy The Vampire Slayer).

The Walking Dead: Welcome to a world in which zombies outnumber people. No matter how many sunflowers the survivors plant, the number of zombies doesn't seem to dwindle.

One group of survivors, led by a handsome sheriff who is dedicated, smart and gruff, tries to find their way to a safe zone. But at every turn, this challenge becomes a little harder and harder; not to mention the fact that everyone has a lot of personal baggage that gets in the way as well.

And, yeah, those annoying zombies don't care about personal space.

Firefly: One day in the past, the earth was reduced to The Earth That Was, and its human population had to abandon it on a great fleet to find a new planet to call home.

The year is now 2517, and humans are still looking. At least they get a new star system and have assimilated some Chinese languages into their English vocabulary. (Only two nations survived – the United States and China.)

A band of nine misfits find a home on the spaceship Serenity, captained by the charming Malcolm Reynolds, who always has great one-liners to suit the occasion.

Battlestar Galactica: The quote "All this has happened before, and all this will happen again" is repeated throughout the four seasons of this series. It marks not only the series' ominous start – with the destruction of a civilisation of humans who live on a group of planets known as the Twelve Colonies – but also of the vicious cycle of violence and hostility between the humans and the cybernetic race known as the Cylons.

One colonial battle fleet survives the attack and it is the people on board this ship who become the only survivors who go in search of the fabled thirteenth colony known as Earth.

Buffy, The Vampire Slayer: The Slayer (aka The Chosen One), by right, does not have a very long life. After all, her job description says she must fight against vampires, demons and other forces of darkness. And as a bonus, every year – before school breaks for the summer – she must stop an Apocalypse.

Buffy Summers takes all this into her stride. She has to, since her school library is Hellmouth, which basically means more demons come to hang out at this library than students.

It also means Buffy has to grow up faster than your average teenager. Her graduation day sees her fighting a crazy, destructive giant snake. Her first heartbreak happens as she stabs her boyfriend and sends him to hell in order to stop the end of the world.

She learns to prioritise when her best friend turns evil and wants to drain the earth of its life energy. And she knows better than to take any fashion tips from someone called Glory who wants to open a demon-filled portal (oh, all right, the lesson in this one is about sacrifice and not fashion tips).

Supernatural: Thank you, Dean and Sam Winchester. You guys have saved the world from demons and other supernatural megalomaniacs hellbent on destroying humans more times than we can count. OK, so we kept count, it was twice.

It all started with Lilith, a little girl with a penchant for white dresses and killer looks (Season Four). She tried to break the 66 seals to free her boss from his cage – that'd be Lucifer, he who heralds the Apocalypse.

Lilith kind of got smoked for doing this very bad thing, but at the same time she succeeded with her plan. In Season Five, Lucifer made life a living hell for Sam and Dean because he wanted to be Sam.

(Even Lucifer covets the Winchesters' good looks, eh? But, seriously, we prefer Dean.)

The brothers stopped the second Apocalypse when Sam went over the edge. No, really.

It’s party time

Posted: 21 Dec 2012 05:43 AM PST

Red FM ushers in the new year in style.

THE year has whizzed past in the blink of an eye. To celebrate, Red FM is throwing a big bash on Dec 31 at Hard Rock Hotel, Penang. The party will revel the awesomeness that was 2012 and kick off 2013 with a bang.

Red FM wants you to join them usher in the new year. Red FM's Red Beatz NYE Pool Party is in its third year running. Last year's event saw 200 people flocking to Hard Rock Hotel, Penang, to bid 2011 farewell in style and welcome 2012 with great music.

This year's poolside party promises to be just as great, if not better, with DJ Aye and DJ Roxy from Thailand on the decks. These two gorgeous and talented ladies will be spinning popular beats all through the night as you break out your best dance moves.

Count down to the New Year with the Red FM team. To be part of this event, tune in to the station to win passes. Pick up four passes each from now till Dec 28 on The Red Hub (Mondays to Fridays, 1pm- 4pm) with Linora and The Edge On Red (Mondays to Fridays, 7pm to 10pm) with Fiqrie.

Come in your best dance gear to rock the night away! You do not want to miss out on one of the most massive and splash-tacular parties of the year.

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

Red FM is owned and operated by The Star.

Red FM's Station Frequencies: Taiping, Kedah, Perlis and Pulau Langkawi: 98.1 FM, George Town and Seberang Prai, Penang: 107.6 FM, Ipoh, Perak: 106.4 FM, Klang Valley, Negri Sembilan and Tapah: 104.9 FM, Kuantan, Pahang: 91.6 FM, Batu Pahat and Malacca: 98.9 FM, Johor Baru and Singapore: 92.8 FM.


The Star Online: World Updates

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U.S. Marine convicted of urinating on corpses of Taliban insurgents

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 06:40 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Marine staff sergeant who urinated on dead Taliban insurgents and posed for photographs with the bodies has pleaded guilty to two charges in a military court, the Marine Corps said on Thursday.

His sentence was a reduction in rank and forfeiture of $500 (307.5 pounds) in pay.

Staff Sergeant Joseph Chamblin pleaded guilty at a special court martial at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to dereliction of duty for failing to properly supervise junior Marines. He also pleaded guilty to wrongfully urinating on a deceased enemy combatant.

The incident occurred during a counter-insurgency operation in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in July 2011. It came to light in January this year when a videotape of the incident was posted on YouTube and other websites.

The video showed four men in camouflage Marine combat uniforms urinating on three corpses. One of them joked, "Have a nice day, buddy," while another made a lewd joke.

The video was one of a series of offensive incidents involving U.S. service members that roused Afghan ire and led to heightened tensions between Washington and Kabul earlier this year.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the actions in the video as "inhuman" and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta telephoned him to denounce the incident as "deplorable" and promise an investigation.

Chamblin was charged with failing to properly supervise junior Marines, failing to require junior Marines to wear protective equipment, failing to report the misconduct of junior Marines, failing to report the negligent discharge of a grenade launcher, and failing to stop the indiscriminate firing of weapons, the Marine Corps said in a statement.

Chamblin waived his right to a jury and pleaded guilty to two counts before a military judge, the statement said. The judge levied a penalty that including 30 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, but because of a pre-trial agreement Chamblin received a lesser sentence.

The maximum penalty under the agreement was a reduction in rank to sergeant and a forfeiture of $500 in pay for one month, the statement said.

The Marine Corps declined to release details about the evidence or the findings of the investigation because, it said, cases were still pending related to the urination video incident.

(Reporting By David Alexander; editing by Philip Barbara)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

More funerals in Newtown, White House gun task force meets

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 06:22 PM PST

NEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) - As residents of Newtown, Connecticut, buried more victims of the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden convened a White House task force to search for ways to quell gun violence in the United States.

People visit a memorial for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims in Newtown, Connecticut December 20, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

People visit a memorial for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims in Newtown, Connecticut December 20, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

With funerals for a half-dozen victims on Thursday, services have now been held for more than half of the 27 people shot and killed last Friday by a heavily armed, 20-year-old man who attacked an elementary school with an assault rifle.

Hundreds of mourners packed into a funeral for Benjamin Wheeler, 6, filing into the gray stone Trinity Episcopal Church past two rows of Boy Scouts who lined up outside as a flag-bearing honour guard.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy called for residents of his state to observe a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, a week after the shootings, and his fellow governors from Maine to Kansas followed suit.

The rampage, in which 28 people died, including 20 children and the gunman, has sparked new discussion on tightening gun laws, a thorny political issue in the United States, which has a strong culture of individual gun ownership.

Biden brought together cabinet members, police officials and others in a 90-minute first meeting of the new White House task force charged by President Barack Obama with drawing up a plan to tackle gun violence in the United States.

"We have to have a comprehensive way in which to respond to the mass murder of our children that we saw in Connecticut," Biden told the group, which included Attorney General Eric Holder, Thomas Nee, president of the National Association of Police Organizations, and other officials.

"The president is absolutely committed to keeping the promise that he will act," said Biden, who as a senator authored a crime bill in 1994 that included a temporary ban on assault weapons.


The National Rifle Association, the powerful firearms lobby that has long resisted any effort to restrict gun ownership, said this week that it would offer "meaningful contributions" to prevent future such massacres at an event in Washington on Friday.

The group, which kept silent for five days after the shooting, plans to continue its media push over the weekend with its chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, due to appear on NBC television's talk show "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, formerly Obama's chief of staff, worried publicly that the NRA would not break its past patterns.

"I expect the Washington gun lobby and the gun lobbies around to do exactly what they always do, which is to try to apply political pressure so you ignore the overwhelming public opinion," Emanuel said at Chicago City Hall, where he called for a ban on assault weapons of the kind used in Newtown.

In Newtown, a few dozen residents met at the town library on Wednesday night to discuss ways they could influence the national debate. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal told the group it was time for a "seismic change" in gun policies.

"This horrific tragedy has changed America, in the way that it is ready to stop the spread of gun violence," he said.

The shooter, Adam Lanza, used guns that were legally purchased and registered to his mother Nancy, his first victim in Friday's attack.

A memorial service for Nancy Lanza was held on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing an official source in New Hampshire. It probably took place near Kingston, where Lanza grew up, the paper said.

"The family of Nancy Lanza share the grief of a community and the nation as we struggle to comprehend the tremendous loss that we all share," said a statement from Lanza's family, the Times reported.


Democrats in Congress who favour gun control have called for quick votes on measures to ban assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, hoping that the slaying of the 6- and 7-year olds in Newtown might be a tipping point to win over more lawmakers.

The backlash against guns has not been limited to lawmakers. Retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc took down a website about Bushmaster rifles, the sort used in the attack. Dick's Sporting Goods pulled all guns from its store closest to the massacre in Newtown, about 80 miles (130 km) northeast of New York City.

Newtown schools, with the exception of Sandy Hook Elementary, the site of the shooting, re-opened to students on Tuesday. On Thursday, school officials said Friday, the last day before the Christmas break, would be a shortened day.

Reflecting a heightened state of alert at schools across the United States, a school district near Boise, Idaho, cancelled planned assemblies at a number of its 50 schools after receiving a rash of threats that suggested "something bad" would happen on Friday, Meridian school district spokesman Eric Exline said.

Exline said the school system was working with police to respond to trouble, if needed. "The event last Friday in Connecticut has unnerved people in a lot of ways," he said.

Authorities in Phoenix said a 16-year-old girl was arrested on Thursday after making online threats to kill herself and other students at a suburban high school.

Sergeant Brandon Jones, a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokesman, said the girl, a student at Red Mountain High School, admitted to making the threat on a YouTube channel. It was not clear whether the teen had the means to act on the threat.

Authorities said part of the post read: "I now literally have a plan of seriously hurting ... killing ... murdering people in my high school. And a playlist to do it."

(Additional reporting by Eric Thayer in Newtown, James B. Kelleher in Chicago, David Schwartz in Phoenix, Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho, and David Ingram and Roberta Rampton in Washington; Writing by Scott Malone and Jim Loney; Editing by Mohammad Zargham, Vicki Allen and Jackie Frank)

Related Stories:
US Attorney General Holder to meet Newtown investigators

U.S. gun lobbyists plan media push after Newtown massacre
"Smart guns" show promise, but not readily available on U.S. market

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Four men accused of trying to sell weapons of Saddam's family

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 05:27 PM PST

(Reuters) - Four men were arrested on Thursday and accused of conspiring to sell stolen firearms believed to have belonged to the family of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, officials said.

The pistols, shotguns and revolvers are estimated to be worth $250,000 to $350,000, according to a statement issued by the office of U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in Newark, New Jersey.

The four men are accused of trying to find a buyer in New Jersey for the weapons, which were believed stored in Florida, the prosecutor said.

Law enforcement officials received a tip in April that the firearms were up for sale, according to a criminal complaint filed against the four men.

Authorities used undercover agents who posed as interested buyers in New Jersey to break up the alleged scheme, the prosecutor's statement said.

In October, Iraq's Ambassador to the United States, Jabir Habeb, confirmed that the weapons belonged to the Republic of Iraq, according to the complaint, which did not include any details of where the guns had come from or how they came to be stolen.

Officials said the weapons included a Coonan Arms .357 semi-automatic nickel-finish pistol with gold inlay and a medallion "QS" on the side of the grip believed to be the initials of Qusay Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti, one of Hussein's sons.

The other weapons were two Korth .357 magnum revolvers, a Chinese State Factories type semi-automatic pistol with a Yemen flag icon on each side and Arabic writing on the slide, two Cosmi 12-gauge shotguns and a Llama semi-automatic .45 ACP pistol with gold leaf and gold inlays, also bearing the initials "Q.S.," they said.

The accused men were identified as David Ryan, 48, of Miami; Karlo Sauer, 42, of Pittsburgh; Howard Blumenthal, 74, of Fort Lee, New Jersey; and Carola Quirola, also known as Carlos Quirola-Ordonez, 55, of New Milford, New Jersey.

They were charged with conspiracy to transport stolen firearms and conspiracy to sell and receive stolen property.

Ryan also was charged with unlawful mailing of firearms.

If convicted of conspiracy, they could each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The unlawful mailing count carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Blumenthal and Quirola appeared on Thursday before a U.S. Magistrate in Newark, Ryan appeared in federal court in the Southern District of Florida and Sauer appeared in the Western District of Pennsylvania, the prosecutor's statement said.

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters


The Star Online: Business

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Bank of Japan boosts stimulus again

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 06:32 PM PST

TOKYO: The Bank of Japan delivered its third shot of monetary stimulus in four months in a prelude to more aggressive action next year as it faces intensifying pressure from the country's next leader for bolder action to beat deflation.

It also signalled setting a higher inflation target at its next meeting in January, when a new government will be in place.

Shinzo Abe, whose opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won Sunday's election by a landslide, has put the central bank's independence on the line by repeatedly calling for a binding 2% inflation target, double its current price goal.

Feeling the heat, the central bank expanded its assetbuying and lending programme by 10 trillion yen (US$119bil) to 101 trillion yen, a widely expected move that barely moved markets.

"I take it as that the BoJ is carrying out what we sought during the election stepbystep," Abe told a party meeting.

The incoming prime minister caused a brief stir when he said that BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa had telephoned to inform him of the decision in the morning when the policy meeting was still taking place. The LDP later said the remark was a slip of the tongue and Shirakawa told a news conference he made the call in the afternoon, after the meeting was over.

With the latest move, the BOJ has expanded asset purchases five times this year, the most frequent activity during a single year in a decade. The last time it eased so many times was in 2001, when Japan was battling a domestic banking crisis.

"The next step is inflation targeting. The BOJ will come up with something that's just enough to avoid criticism from Abe but probably not enough to avoid some sense of disappointment," said Masamichi Adachi, senior economist at JPMorgan Securities in Tokyo.

"Abe is not even prime minister yet. If you look at how the BOJ is behaving, you could argue this is a loss of independence."

The BOJ now has a 1% inflation target in place, and defines a range of zero to 2% consumer inflation as a desirable level of longterm price growth.

The central bank said it would review that guideline next month. It will probably clarify that, after 1% inflation is in sight, it will aim to achieve 2% inflation.

Shirakawa admitted that Abe's request for setting a 2% inflation target was partly behind the central bank's decision to review its longterm price goal.

But he warned that in doing so, the BOJ would ensure that its policy flexibility was protected and take into account the fact that Japan has long suffered from deflation even as other advanced economies experienced inflation.

"We must bear in mind the fact that inflation has been low in Japan for a long time," Shirakawa told a news conference.

Shirakawa has consistently argued that setting a 2% inflation target would be counterproductive in a country that has not seen consumer inflation exceed 1 % for most of the past two decades.

But Abe made a rare, direct push for a higher inflation target when Shirakawa visited the LDP's headquarters on Tuesday, saying that the central bank must pay heed to the fact that he won an election campaigning for bolder monetary stimulus.

Abe also said that once he takes over as primes minister on Dec 26 he would instruct his new cabinet ministers to begin working with the BOJ on setting a shared inflation target. - Reuters

The FBM KLCI snaps gain streak in early trade

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 06:32 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The local market has snapped its gain streak in early trade as the benchmark FBM KLCI dipped into the red, in line with the regional markets.

At 9.45am, the FBM KLCI slid 2.62 points to 1,667.98 points with 87.9 million shares done.

In a report, HwangDBS Research said: "While there are no signs at all to suggest the world would come to an end today (21-12-2012), we suspect the short-term uptrend on our Malaysian bourse could be near its tail-end already.

"Technically speaking, the benchmark FBM KLCI after a cumulative rise of 60-point or 3.7% since end-Nov will likely struggle to overcome its immediate resistance threshold of 1,670 ahead."

In the regional markets, most Asian shares were in the red except Japan's Nikkei 225 which increased 0.14% o 10,051 points, Shanghai's Composite Index climbed 0.11% to 2,170.75 points. Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.7% to 22,501.14 points, Singapore's Straits Times Index lost 0.19% to 3,169 points, South Korea's Kospi down 0.8% to 1,983.54 points while Taiwan's Taiex slid 1.13% to 1,645.24 points.

The ringgit was stronger against the greenback at 3.0585.

Spot gold shed 0.16% to US$1,645.24 per ounce.

Nymex's crude oil was down 0.67% to US$89.53 per barrel.

At the local bourse, losers outpaced gainers at 129 versus 107 while 157 counters were traded unchanged.

Gainers were led by SHELL, up 23 sen to RM8.63, TWS climbed 15 sen to RM7.50 and TNLOGIS added 9 sen to RM1.75. Losers were LMCEMNT which shed 23 sen to RM9.41, AEONCR down 14 sen to RM12.50 while BAT declined 12 sen to RM60.38. Active stocks included OVERSEA, OPENSYS, SCOMI, XOX and SUMATEC.

Global report ranks Malaysia among the most ICT-enabled

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 06:30 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Many of us have heard of the Global Competitiveness Report. It is an important barometer of economic competitiveness of the nations of the world and it highlights key issues and developments concerning the factors that affect competitiveness.

However, few in Malaysia are familiar with the Global Information Technology Report (GITR). It is perhaps time that we acquaint ourselves better with the GITR.

In fact, both the Global Competitiveness Report and the GITR are published annually by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which describes itself as "an independent international organisation committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas".

Over the past decade, the WEF has been publishing the GITR series in collaboration with Swiss business school INSEAD. In the same way that the Global Competitiveness Report has developed into a well-accepted reference on economic competitiveness, the GITR is finding its footing as an in-depth and respected international assessment of the network readiness of world economies.

It is aimed at measuring the degree to which economies across the globe leverage on information and communication technology (ICT) to increase their growth and overall competitiveness. The research provides a unique platform for public-private dialogue on best policies and for determining what actions will propel national ICT readiness and innovation potential.

In the preface to the 2012 edition of the GITR, titled "Living in a Hyperconnected World", WEF chief business officer Robert Greenhill observes that the world has become increasingly hyperconnected over the past decade.

"We live in an environment where the Internet and its associated services are accessible and immediate, where people and businesses can communicate with each other instantly, and where machines are equally interconnected with each other," he wrote.

"This hyperconnectivity is deeply redefining relationships between individuals, consumers and enterprises, and citizens and governments; it is introducing new opportunities but also new challenges and risks in terms of individual rights and privacy, security, cybercrime, the flow of personal data, and access to information. As a result, our economies and societies will undergo fundamental transformations."

He points out: "Mastering and leveraging these transformations to maximise the positive impacts and increase resilience against the risks that ICT can bring to the economy, society, environment, and healthcare are crucial for boosting economic competitiveness and well-being."

A regional example

So where does Malaysia stand in the IT arena? A key feature of the GITR is the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), which the report says offers "a comprehensive assessment of the present state of networked readiness in the world".

In the NRI 2012, Malaysia is ranked 29th out of 142 economies, 8th out of 22 Asia-Pacific economies and 2nd in the Asean region.

With an index score of 4.8 out of a maximum score of 7.0, it is placed among the top quartile of the world's most networked ready economies.

In relation to the rankings of Asian-Pacific countries, it continues to be ahead of even China (9th, 4.11) and India (12th, 3.89). In the Asean region, Singapore (2nd in overall world rankings, with a score of 5.86) and Malaysia has the top two index scores.

When referring to the limited economic and social impacts of ICT in some South-East Asian nations, the report says: "No doubt these countries could learn from Singapore and Malaysia, two Asean members that have been very successful at leveraging ICT." The WEF acknowledges that the Malaysian Government has been pursuing a long-term plan with the ambition to achieve high-income status by the end of the decade, with ICT playing a critical role.

Most government-related indicators in the 2012 GITR report reflect this.

For example, in the area of government usage of ICT, Malaysia is ranked 6th worldwide. This underscores the Government's prioritisation of ICT, the importance of ICT to the Government's vision of the future, and the initiatives by the Government to provide online services.

These government-led efforts are a significant factor in ICT's transformational impact on the economy (Malaysia ranks 31st in this category) and on society at large (15th).

Malaysia's environment for ICT is ranked 23rd (from 36th in 2011). This is derived from its political and regulatory environment ranking (24th) and business and innovation environment ranking (23rd).

However, individuals and businesses in Malaysia need to step up to the plate to complement the Government's charge to drive ICT progress.

Lessons from Taiwan

The Readiness sub-index, which measures the degree to which a society is prepared to make good use of an affordable ICT infrastructure and digital content, is still an area of concern.

Malaysia's rankings for the three pillars within this sub-index are 65th for infrastructure and digital content, 47th for skills, and 41st for affordability.

Taiwan's performance in this aspect is something Malaysians should take note. The success of Taiwan, ranked 2nd among the Asian-Pacific countries, has largely been attributed to its Government's efforts to transform an agriculture-based and low-end manufacturing country into a major manufacturer of electronics and high-tech products as well as a key innovation hub.

Malaysia can taste similar success if the people in Malaysian and its private sector can fully leverage on the public sector infrastructure and resources.

For Malaysia to transition from a middle-income to a high-income economy, the continued development of the communications, content and infrastructure (CCI) sector through public and private sector efforts is fundamental.

The CCI sector spans a wide ecosystem covering content, network applications, services and devices. In 2009, the sector contributed RM22bil of the gross national income (GNI) from telecommunications, TV, broadcasting, post and courier.

The aspiration is to raise the sector's GNI contribution threefold to RM57.7bil in 2020. To achieve this, the Government has identified 10 national Entry Point Projects (EPPs) across three themes: Serving Tomorrow, Pushing Boundaries and Enhancing Foundation.

Going upwardly mobile

The first theme addresses the paradigm change of shifting profit pools from infrastructure and access to applications and content. This is to be done by strengthening Malaysia's domestic value-add in advanced services, particularly creative content creation (EPP 1), a new EPP named Track and Trace (to spur the use of radio frequency identification technology or RFID) and connectivity applications (EPP 3).

Already, the new industry-led public-private collaboration to grow the export segment of the creative industry has seen almost a 30% increase in export revenue to RM337mil in the third quarter of 2011 compared to RM260mil in 2010. This EPP is expected to register further growth by end 2012 as 22,000 hours of digital content is estimated to be made available during the year.

The impact of the Digital Malaysia Project championed by Malaysian Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) is also expected to be further felt in the near future.

As it is, 2011 proved to be a milestone year for mobile commerce in Malaysia. The total spent on mobile commerce grew from RM101mil in 2010 to RM467mil, representing a 370% jump in just one year.

Of this, the Malaysian mobile commerce comprised about a quarter of all online shopping in 2011. By 2015, this market is expected to grow more than seven times to hit RM3.43bil, indicating that the nation is upwardly mobile in every sense of the word.

Over the last couple of years, rapid introduction of mobile devices based on the Android and Apple operating systems have triggered a new way of looking at the consumption, creation and distribution of information.

About one billion applications are downloaded every month globally. As per industry estimates, this app economy has created almost 500,000 jobs since 2007 in the United States alone.

Malaysia, with seven million smartphones and 7.7 million mobile Internet users, has immense potential to participate in the new global app economy through the local development of innovative, ideas-led content.

The second theme (Pushing Boundaries) fully leverages CCI in strategic sectors through coordinated efforts to provide access, devices, applications and content; while the third theme of Enhancing Foundations capitalises on next-generation infrastructure opportunities with a particular focus on coverage, affordability and quality of access for all Malaysians.

The broadband-for-all mandate (EPP 7) targets access gaps (mostly in urban areas) by treating broadband as similar to other utilities such as water and electricity as a means for ensuring that all new residences will have ready access to broadband services.

For rural dwellers, the access to broadband, computers and relevant applications are provided through extending reach programmes (EPP8). Achievements in these areas include increases in broadband household penetration from 60% in 2011 to 65% in 2012, reaching a total of 4.5 million households subscription, and bridging the digital divide by getting more rural communities online.

In the first week of 2011, broadband household penetration was 56.2% and by December 2011, it grew to 62.3%. In addition, more than 1,300 villages across the country have been connected with wireless Internet services.

Building a high-income, high-tech nation is the joint responsibility of all social actors in Malaysia; it is a mission not only for the Government but also for individuals and businesses.

It is important for the country as a whole to leverage on ICT to increase our international competitiveness and economic well-being; using it as dynamic and strategic platform to enable the multi stakeholder interaction and action needed to further our progress on the global stage.


The Star Online: Sports

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Women’s World Open: Nicol breezes through but Wee Wern falls in quarter-finals

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 04:06 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Nicol David marched into the semi-finals of the Women's World Open in Cayman Islands but national No. 2 Low Wee Wern, hampered by a hamstring injury, crashed out.

Nicol, who is bidding for a record seventh world title, dropped a set against Madeline Perry of Ireland before eventually winning 11-3, 11-7, 9-11, 11-3 in 51 minutes.

The defending champion took control of the first set, winning 11-3, as Perry struggled to find her foothold.

Nicol then went 10-5 up in the second and appeared to be cruising to an easy win after taking the set at 11-7.

But 10th seed Perry, who famously beat Nicol in the 2009 British Open, gradually found her range and it came as no surprise that she managed to pull a set back.

However, The 29-year-old Penangite, up the pace in the fourth and dropped only three points as she wrapped up the quarter-final match.

"I was very happy to win that. Madeline kept plugging away and kept coming at me despite being two sets down," said Nicol on

"She was really firing the shots in and I knew I had to do something to stop her. I did step up my game in the fourth and everything came my way eventually, but it wasn't easy at all," added Nicol who has now beaten Perry 17 times in 18 meetings.

Nicol will next face sixth seed Jenny Duncalf of England for a place in the final.

Duncalf, now ranked 12th in the world after a dismal run, rediscovered her form to beat world No. 4 and compatriot Alison Waters 7-11, 17-19, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9.

World No. 7 Wee Wern, bogged down by the hamstring injury which she suffered in the Hong Kong Open earlier this month, went down 11-8, 4-11, 5-11, 5-11 to third seed Laura Massaro of England.

"I played well but lost to a better player on the day," said Wee Wern in a text message.

"I had my hamstring re-strapped after the second set, but I could not lunge forward or move back.

"It's always disappointing to lose but I've done well this year. I'm happy to end the year at No. 7 in the world and by making the quarter-finals of the world meet," added Wee Wern.

Massaro will next play Raneem El Weleily. The Egyptian world No. 2 ended experienced Dutch Natalie Grinham's gallant run with an 11-9, 11-9, 11-7.

Zul working overtime to shake off cobwebs

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 02:48 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: National bowler Zulmazran Zulkifli is working overtime on the lanes in the ongoing the Milo International All-Stars Masters at the Sunway Megalanes in Sunway Pyramid.

The 29-year-old, who got hitched on Nov 25, said he needed extra playing hours to shake off the cobwebs.

"After spending a week off for my honeymoon, I went straight to compete in the Penang Pesta International Open last week. I could only manage to finish sixth. It was not a good result for me," said Zulmazran.

Zulmazran has hopes of winning the All-Stars. But to do that, he needs to be at his best.

He is virtually assured of a place in the Finals after shooting a three-game 720 total.

"To win the title, I need to be sharp and at my best. The formidable South Koreans are in town with their best bowlers including former World Cup winner Choi Yong-kyu, Kim Do-young and Jang Dong-chul.

"I'm hitting the lanes in the last three qualifying sessions tomorrow night (today) to sharpen my game," said Zulmazran.

The Masters, which culminates tomorrow with the step-ladder Finals, pits the men and women together. The champion will be taking home the RM35,000 top prize.

Only the top 47 qualifiers plus the defending champion will make it to the knockout round where they will play 10 games. Only the top six will advance to the step-ladder Finals.

Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) special squad trainee Mohd Rafiq Ismail won the title last year.

Ishtiaq suspended after pleading guilty to drug possession charges

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 02:57 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Sports Council (NSC) have suspended coach Ishtiaq Mubarak following his guilty plead to drug possession charges at the Langkawi Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

NSC director-general Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong said NSC would be issuing a suspension letter to the former 110m hurdler to ensure the image of sports in the country is not tarnished by drug-related issues.

"I was shocked to hear the news and saddened because he is a big name on the local sports scene," he said at his office yesterday.

Ishtiaq whose full name is Ishtiaq Ahmad Mubarak Ahmad, 64, was a big sporting star in his heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. He competed in three Olympics and was a medallist at SEA and Asian Games.

He pleaded guilty to possession of 37.9gm and 5.53gm of cannabis at the Akademi Pelayaran Malaysia, Jalan Padang Mat Sirat, Kuah, Langkawi, at around 1am on Sunday.

He was charged under Section 39A (1) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 which provides for jail term up to five years and five strokes of the rotan upon conviction.

The court set Feb 17 for re-mention of the case pending the chemist's report.

Zolkples said the NSC would wait for the outcome of the case before taking further action on Isthiaq whose contract with NSC ends on Dec 31.

Isthiaq was on the resort island overseeing a national junior squad training stint when he was arrested for the drug offence last Sun–day.

The stint started on Dec 1 and is scheduled to end this Sunday. — Bernama


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Proposal for all parties to send 13th GE candidate list for MACC vetting

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 05:28 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel (CCPP) has proposed that all parties send their list of candidates contesting in the 13th general election for vetting by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

CCPP chairman Datuk Johan Jaafar said the proposal was to ensure potential candidates were not tainted with corruption and to prevent any baseless accusations on any individual or party behind the candidate.

"We were encouraged by the spirit that all parties have stated their support to fight corruption. Therefore we hope to get the support of all parties on this question," he told reporters after chairing the panel's meeting here on Thursday.

He said the filtering would involve all candidates from all parties irrespective of whether they are members of Parliament or state assemblies who would be renominated or contesting for the first time.

According to him, the filtering mechanism or vetting would be decided by MACC.

In this regard, Johan said CCPP would also be proposing that all members of the government administration at federal and state levels as well as close family members not to be involved in the application for government contracts.

He said the proposal was to avoid a conflict of interest and close possible space for corruption.

CCPP also suggested that all members of Parliament and state assemblies declare their assets each year to the MACC to prove their commitment to fighting corruption.

"They should not just do so before taking the post but also each year after taking the post. There should be no exception on this matter," he said. - Bernama

RapidKL bus routes resume operations at Central Market terminal on Saturday

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 04:38 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Twenty-eight RapidKL bus routes will resume operations at the Central Market City Terminal beginning Saturday following the completion of upgrading works by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

RapidKL bus chief operations officer Mohd Azam Omar said southbound RapidKL buses including the Pudu Corridor would remain operating at the bus hub near the Mydin Sinar Kota.

Among the RapidKL bus routes that would be operating at the Central Market City Terminal are the route A from Jalan Hang Kasturi (platform A1-A8), route C from Jalan Sultan Mohamed (platform C1-C3), route D from Jalan Sultan Mohamed (platform D1-D6), route E from Jalan Sultan Mohamed (platform E1-E3) and route F from Malayan Railway Kuala Lumpur (platform F1-F3), he said in a statement, here on Thursday.

He said the Central Market City Terminal was temporarily closed by DBKL on June 27 to allow for upgrading works which involved 37 RapidKL bus routes which were moved to several locations.

Beginning Dec 22, 28 of the 37 bus routes affected would be relocated to the terminal.

Users could call the help line 03-7885 2585 or surf the website for further information. - Bernama

PM: India to award 2 highway projects in Tamil Nadu to Malaysian firms

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 04:26 AM PST

NEW DELHI: The Indian government will award two highway projects in Tamil Nadu, South India, to Malaysian firms under a government-to- government arrangement, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said on Thursday.

Malaysia and India signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2010 on highway management and development.

"I informed them that we've already enforced the first phase of the MoU, but the project delivery under the second phase has not materialised yet," he said after a bilateral meeting with India's Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.

He said Manmohan Singh had given his commitment and was prepared to take positive steps to realise the MoU's second phase by offering the opportunity to Malaysian firms to undertake the two highway projects in Tamil Nadu.

As for the location of the highways in Tamil Nadu, Najib said: "Identification of the highways and the concession companies will be done later. Details will be announced later once the projects have been formally confirmed."

"Besides that, we also agreed to expand our collaboration with India, a very strategic partner to Malaysia.

"Given the warm and cordial bilateral relations with India, Malaysia is a natural gateway to Indian companies to penetrate the more open Asean market," said Najib, who is also Finance Minister.

On Malaysia-India CEO Forum, Najib said that it was one of the most active CEO forums.

"The forum serves as a platform for the private sector to share their experience on how to operate in India," he said.

"Overall, Malaysian companies have displayed their performance which has earned high appreciation and India has high regard for the capabilities of our companies.

"Projects such as the monorail in Mumbai and the highways that we've built were of the quality that we can be proud of and they also have high regard for our achievements," he added. - Bernama

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Tom Cruise plays title character in latest film Jack Reacher

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 04:58 AM PST

Jack Reacher's only possessions are his name, his passport and his toothbrush. And no baggage to hold him back.

IT IS never easy casting an actor for a film that's based on a book. No matter who is chosen, it's going to upset someone, from the author to the fans. This is exactly what happened when director Christopher McQuarrie picked Tom Cruise to play the title character in the film Jack Reacher, which is based on the novels by Lee Child.

In the books, Reacher is described as a 1.96m-tall (six-foot-five) guy with dirty blond hair, and there's no mention of a megawatt smile anywhere in their pages.

Cruise obviously does not come to mind from such a description, but McQuarrie – who was a writer on the actor's World War 2 thriller Valkyrie – just knew that he was the perfect actor to play Jack Reacher.

His choice was informed by what he knew of Cruise: an extremely calm person (Oprah Winfrey's couch notwithstanding) when faced with crisis, who is also pragmatic and strong-willed – all qualities that Jack Reacher possesses.

All the same, when McQuarrie had to propose the star's name to Child, he was a little nervous.

In an interview transcript provided by UIP Malaysia, McQuarrie recalled: "When we went to meet Lee to talk about casting Tom, there was a very carefully prepared speech – the rationale that led up to that decision. All of it was very carefully articulated and, quite frankly, all of it was inevitable.

"And when we got to the end of the speech, Lee just said, 'why wouldn't I want the biggest movie star in the world to play this character?' It was great.

"I feel some sympathy for Lee because I know there is a backlash from some of the fans. They feel that Lee has compromised and 'oh yeah, they wrote him a big cheque.'

"But that's not it at all. He was really a collaborator in this process and we were all functioning on a higher plane in terms of what meant the most to us about this character. And I knew right from the beginning that no one was going to get it like Tom was going to get it.

"More importantly, nobody was going to be as in synch with me as a storyteller. I didn't want to fight with the actor playing this role. Tom and I come from very different places in the universe with very different philosophies of filmmaking.

"If we have anything in common, it's our sense of story. Put us in two different rooms, give us the same story to tell, and I would say we'll tell that story the same way to a degree of 99%."

Cruise really became a collaborator on the film when he suggested to McQuarrie to turn a very simple sequence (in which Reacher crashes his car and runs off) into one of the film's signature set pieces. What he ended up with is Reacher driving a classic Chevrolet Chevelle through the streets of Pittsburgh, pursued at high speed by police cars. And since the leading man is also an experienced and professional driver, Cruise did most of the stunt driving himself. McQuarrie said: "What people won't realise when they watch that car chase is that it required Tom to do a lot of the sequence after a full day of shooting with the main unit.

"You're talking 24-hour days. No days off. A 30-minute nap between an all-nighter with the action unit and a long day with the main unit. In the end we shot five nights with the main unit and 12 days with the action unit without going over budget or over schedule."

The production did, however, encounter some bumps along the way. "There's a shot where Tom is standing on a bridge. The camera is mounted on a car and it does a 180-degree turn as it passes him, requiring a special rig. At sunset, by the way.

"But the city of Pittsburgh would only give us control of one lane of traffic, which meant we couldn't close the bridge. The only way to get the shot would be to leave Tom on the bridge alone.

"Every take would require us to drive in a huge loop around downtown Pittsburgh during rush hour, with Tom waiting for us to come by. And when I explained to Tom that this was the only way, he said, 'well then, that's how we have to do it.'

"So there was Tom with nothing but a walkie-talkie on a highway bridge at rush hour. Meanwhile, we're stuck in traffic trying to get to him. And he's waiting. At a certain point he's thinking, 'Did they leave me in the right place? Where is everybody?' Cars are driving by and people are looking out of their windows thinking: 'Is that Tom Cruise just standing on the bridge in rush hour traffic?' I don't know another actor at that level who would comfortably do that."

The plot of Jack Reacher is drawn from one of Child's 17 Jack Reacher novels entitled One Shot. Reacher is a former military investigator who doesn't say much but has abnormally fast reflexes and a fascination for mathematics (physics comes in handy when he has to make a quick kill).

He is a skilled fighter with an extensive knowledge of weaponry, and he enters a fight with the intention of disabling his opponent quickly, efficiently and permanently. In short, not a man anybody wants to mess with.

McQuarrie added: "What I liked is the character, and specifically, his approach, his methodology. I love this idea of somebody who lives completely free from our idea of contemporary society – he has no cell phone, no e-mail, no fixed address, no possessions.

"There's something really free and liberating about that. With Jack Reacher, Lee Child created the (successor) to (fictional detectives) Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade.

"But it was very important to him to create a character that didn't have the emotional baggage. And that's Jack Reacher – somebody who literally has no baggage." – Mumtaj Begum

>Jack Reacher opens in cinemas nationwide on Dec 21.

In the right corner

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 03:21 AM PST

Here Comes The Boom has lots of surprising elements, but the biggest of them all are its two main stars.

There is a very easy camaraderie between Salma Hayek and Kevin James, who are friends in real life and co-stars in the new film Here Comes The Boom. As it turns out, they're funny in real life too. At this particular press conference in Cancun, Mexico, the two kept the international journalists (gathered at a big conference hall of a five-star hotel) in stitches, either by exchanging insults or praises. One of the funniest moments was their reaction to a woman in charge of bringing microphones to journalists with questions (she was dressed like a boxing ring girl with cue cards).

Hayek, seemingly bemused, and James, seemingly amused, began – respectively – making observations about the hour of the day to be dressed like that (it was after 10am) and commented on how the questions kept coming from one end of the room, only to be followed by a question at the other end of the room, forcing James to follow the, erm, mike.

Hayek and James first worked together on Grown-Ups (2010), a film in which they had a good time and formed a bond.

So, when the opportunity came to team up again, they didn't hesitate.

In Here Comes The Boom, they play a pair of teachers at a school that is facing budget cuts. When this cost-cutting business threatens to cancel the music programme and lay off its dedicated teacher (Henry Winkler), James' character – biology teacher Scott Voss – decides to step up and raise the huge sum of money the school needs.

When he finds out teaching extra class leads to nowhere fast in earning the US$48,000, Scott comes up with the idea of participating in mixed martial arts fights. But first, he must not die at the lower levels of this brutal sport. He gets a friend to coach him, since the only experience he's had is as a wrestler – and that was in high school.

Meanwhile, Hayek plays Bella, the school nurse Scott runs to when he needs patching up, which occurs more than usual after Scott starts his nocturnal activities. Bella also happens to be the woman Scott has been pursuing romantically for years, but to no avail.

Since James has had a fascination with mixed martial arts (MMA) for over 15 years and has worked with a trainer before, the 47-year-old actor did the fighting sequences himself in the film.

And get this, the other fighters James fought with were all professional MMA fighters! No wonder, James began training seriously 14 months before the filming started, even adapting to a fighter's strict diet along the way.

Hayek was only too happy to tell the journalists exactly what James ate during this period: "He was eating just lettuce and the green stuff."

Naturally James jumped in with: "It was horrible. And you know what's the most horrific thing about it? You train for so long and you're still fat in the movie. I'm like 'What do you want from me? I just ate raw food for eight months of my life and I'm still jiggling up here?' "

At the press conference, it was obvious that James had regained some of the weight he lost, which he confirmed when he shared: "I did get in shape for the movie.... I have since gone to a lot of pizza restaurants."

In a similar spirit, Hayek did her 'physical' scene – in which her character gives Scott some fighting pointers by actually punching James and attacking him – without the assistance of a stuntwoman.

The beautiful actress said indignantly in her ever-recognisable Mexican accent: "I'm not gonna get a double for my fight. Are you kidding me?"

James, of course, had to add: "Yeah, she wouldn't have (a double) for that. Except for the kiss, then she wanted a double. I was like, wait a minute!"

This topic naturally got both of them started on a long exchange.

Hayek: "I actually did (want a double) because I'm really good friends with his wife and children. I've been kissing people on the screen all the time, but they're not like good friends, and our kids are good friends.

"I'm like, 'Are you sure they're not here?' because how weird is that, you know? It was the strangest thing ... By the way, it is really weird because he's actually a very good kisser.

James: "OK, I don't want to take this the wrong way because I will leave my family right now."

Hayek: "No! No! No! No! No! It was a joke. It was a joke."

James: "I will run away with you right now, Salma. We will never look back."

Hayek. "No, no. It was a joke. Oh my God. Big mistake!"

James: "OK. This is awkward then. Thank God I didn't call my wife."

Even when the topic did stray from the movie, Hayek and James (who named Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason as their comedian-heroes) couldn't help but overlap answers. Fortunately, they did get on track to enlighten the journalists on what it was like to work with MMA fighters.

"It's an incredible discipline," answered James. "That's why I was interested in doing the movie in the first place, because these guys are doing what could be conceived as the most barbaric thing in the world, where it's just two men in a cage.

"And it was exciting for me in a crazy way, but to meet these people – and I got to meet a lot of them – and to realise they're just husbands and fathers and friends and great guys, real guys, who just love doing this for the sport of it. These guys are incredible human beings, which is really why I was most inspired by them."

This very fact also surprised Hayek when she met them. Actually she called these fighters, erm, sweet. "It was incredible how sweet they were."

She continued: "But I want to say something that was very impressive for me. That Kevin, not only did he get in shape and did the fighting, he was actually good at the fighting. I mean, we did have some problems where he got injured many times ... he'd walk in limping every day ....

James: "All right. You don't have to say all that."

Hayek: "It was impressive. The fighters were impressed too."

Humour aside, at the heart of the movie is the theme of teachers trying to make a difference to students. And in the process, Scott discovers it's never too late to turn your life around and do some good.

When Scott first appears in the movie, he is not the greatest teacher – well, OK, he may be the laziest teacher in the whole school. But once he gets on the right path, he learns that he still can become a person who inspires students to tap into their potential.

"I try to convey a positive message in the movies without going too over the top," explained James. "You want it to be fun and not preachy. But it was a good message, as far as not giving up and kind of sacrificing yourself for others, which is important to do, and I think this world lacks a lot of."

Hayek noted: "Yeah, and I got to say that when you think you're going to do a movie about mixed martial arts, you think it's going to be a set that is just full of testosterone and violence. But it was really warm, and they really did care about having a heart for the film, sending the right message. So it ended up a really interesting combination. I really like it."

>Here Comes The Boom opens nationwide tomorrow.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Ten' to Kick Off 2014

Posted: 19 Dec 2012 04:28 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: Open Road Films will release Arnold Schwarzenegger's action thriller "Ten" nationwide on Jan. 24, 2014, the company announced on Wednesday. Directed by David Ayer ("End of Watch"), the former governor leads an elite DEA task force that takes on the world's deadliest drug cartels.

When the team executes a high-stakes raid on a cartel safe house, they think their work is done until, one-by-one, the 10 members start to be eliminated. The film also stars Joe Manganiello, Sam Worthington, Harold Perrineau, Terrence Howard, Max Martini, Josh Holloway, Olivia Williams and Mireille Enos. The original "Ten" screenplay is by Skip Woods ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine").

Bill Block, Paul Hanson, Joe Roth, Palak Patel and Al Ruddy produced the film. Financing was by QED


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Festive outfits

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 05:34 AM PST

THIS Yuletide, opt for a sexy-chic total leather look.

Glitter, bows, embroideries ... it's hard to make a decision when it comes to choosing a holiday outfit, given the enormous offers. Paris-based international fashion consultant Muriel Piaser shares her picks and takes on the main trends and accessories for celebrating in style.

Which outfit will make heads turn this Christmas?

Piaser: Just like every year, one has the choice between a host of sexy glittery outfits for Christmas. But I would go for ultimate chic: a black satin lapel tuxedo paired with a very trendy removable collar accessory. Whether it is sparkly, studded or beaded, this accessory will reveal something of your personality. If you feel like wearing a dress, opt for the sexy chic total leather look, either through a bodycon dress or a Catwoman-style jumpsuit.

Don't forget two-tone heels or booties for a swagger.

How should this outfit be accessorised?

This season, accessories will be king. Colours, glitter, rhinestones, paillettes: dare to go all out. Use your hair clips and headbands, and don't forget to make the most of the hottest winter beauty trends like nail stickers and "cabaret"-style fake lashes. The handbags are more subtle: glamorous with a hint of sparkle, animal motifs, glove clutches or mini shoulder bags. In the footwear department, one should go all out: sequins, glitter, strappy are a few examples. Thigh-high boots or booties can also be sexy and chic.

What about hair and make-up?

Choose a 60s-inspired makeup look, with dramatic eyeliner and brown-toned lipstick. Don't neglect the hair, it's important. I would recommend a lovely braid, a bun (a major winter trend) or even a retro-futuristic high ponytail. – AFP Relaxnews

Fashion: Warehouse's Fall/Winter 2012 collection

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 05:34 AM PST

Traditional rules do not apply this festive season, at least according to one high street label.

IT'S not everyday that the little black dress (LBD) gets a makeover, so imagine our delight when we spotted ├╝ber cool versions of this fantastic frock on Warehouse's latest Autumn/Winter 2012 runway show.

Must-haves encompass every- thing from a sequin bodycon LBD, with its contrasting velvet and shimmer to a studded bodice dress constructed out of a semi-sheer chiffon and pleated skirt. Incidentally, Patricia Knudsen, Capital FM deejay and emcee for the evening, bowled us over when she appeared in a cream-coloured adaptation of the latter.

Also on our radar is the feather hem frock adorned with fluttering marabou fur and the peplum dress constructed from mesh and jersey – both in black, of course. Alternatively, a black playsuit featuring strappy sleeves offers sporty senoritas a time-out from all that glamour.

The LBD is fashion's equivalent of the blank canvas, so feel free to customise to the occasion. Pile on some subtly studded accessories to go goth, or wear it with sleeked back hair and Jackie-O sunglasses to channel Audrey Hepburn. Either way, you'll ooze sex appeal without trying to look sexy on purpose.

Once you've had your fill of ebony, it's time to drink in the cheerful oversized jumpers that have snuggled up on the racks this season. Standouts include a navy blue sweater for equestrian lovers (the picture of the horse in front is simply adorable!), a chunky grey knit embellished with brightly coloured stones and a baroque print blouse.

The most interesting ensemble this season is without a doubt the digitally-altered floral printed suit. More eccentric than feminine, the pants, blouse and blazer looks like a Monet painting adapted for the 21st century and screams for attention when worn together. The great thing, however, is that it looks equally cool as individual pieces, so you can always mix and match whenever you're in the mood for frills and flowers.

Take a cue from the runway models and pair these with mini skirts or cropped pants – yes, the shorter, the better – to make a style statement. It may seem like a mildly curious choice for autumn and winter, but we certainly find the daring hemlines a nice refresher compared to the modest getups that characterise this season. Just be sure that your legs have been waxed prior; if not, slip on a pair of black tights and you'll still look super.

If you're wondering what the fuss is over cropped pants, never fear, it's really not such a difficult look to pull off, especially with a pair of pointy-toed pumps. Think big, voluminous tops and tapered bottom – a surprisingly chic silhouette pioneered by the high fashion houses. The beauty of a high street brand like Warehouse, however, is that none of these clothes will burn a hole in your purse!

Club 21 - New fashion boutique in town

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 04:54 AM PST

The Club 21 and Club 21 Men multi-label store offers a fresh selection of fashion brands for the style-conscious.

FOR avid fashion enthusiasts, nothing is more wholly celebrated than the arrival of a new boutique in town. To this effect, the recent opening of the Club 21 and Club 21 Men multi-label store in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur was seen to be a significant occasion which warranted a respectable response of excitement.

The store occupies a 427sqm retail space and is sleek, spacious and ultimately, for the lack of a better word, stylish. With a modern feel, it offers a roomy interior in which a person's shopping experience will be nothing less than luxuriously comfortable.

It is the first such store from Club 21 in Malaysia and also, the country's flagship. From within, shoppers can expect a wide range of men's and women's clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories, all from brands that make up a rather eclectic list.

It is all not too surprising considering that Club 21 has been known to be the purveyors of exquisite fashion. They are recognised for their fashion-forward style of emporiums whereupon each outlet carries a judiciously edited collection of brands.

As it is, Club 21 is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The opening of the Club 21 and Club 21 Men multi-label store in Kuala Lumpur is cited as just one of the different key happenings that have marked the company's 2012 calendar. The launch of its e-commerce initiative across seven Asian countries and a revamped global website are some of the other notable achievements for the year.

The new store in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur carries an interesting variety of ready-to-wear collections. Some of the brands that can be found in-store are 3.1 Phillip Lim, Acne, Alexander McQueen, Carven, Comme des Garcons, Jill Sander, Lanvin, Nicholas Kirkwood and Stella McCartney.

Not only are they a mix of Asian and Western, the selections are also balanced in terms of established, as well as up-and-coming brands. Club 21 supports existing, well-known labels, but at the same time also looks to pushing new talents that define the cutting-edge of current fashion.

For example, 3.1 Phillip Lim is a label that was launched in 2005. Eponymously named after the designer himself, the label offers clothing and accessories that has a cool, quirky feel to things. Lim, who was born in Thailand but to Chinese parents, grew up in the United States. He received the Council of Fashion Designers of America Emerging Talent in Womenswear award in 2007.

Another label Acne, has Swedish origins and pushes designs that are more architectural and modern – sometimes bordering on avant-garde. While the label initially started carrying only jeans, it has now expanded to include an array of discriminate apparels in different styles that would appeal to many.

Nevertheless, with that being said, more immediately recognisable designer labels such as Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang and Lanvin complete the round-up of offers from the store. Discerning customers would thus be able to find the most innovative or desirable collections to suit their fashion fancy. Sublime pairing

In celebration of the store's opening at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Club 21 recently put together an exclusive photo shoot for Star2 to show off the season's selections from different collections. In the visuals, celebrities Mizz Nina and Nazim Othman were outfitted in apparels, shoes, bags and other accessories from the various brands that the store carries.

Mixing a blend of hip-hop and electro groove, Mizz Nina is famed within the industry for pushing the boundaries of her music. She first gained fame as a member of the Teh Tarik Crew, a hip-hop group she co-founded in 1999, before launching her solo career with her debut album What You Waiting For, which was released in 2010.

She has since gone on to release a second album in May titled Take Over. Mizz Nina has also collaborated with some international names such as Colby O'Donis and Flo Rida, in her singles What You Waiting For and Take Over, respectively.

When spoken to during the shoot, Mizz Nina reveals that she has an upcoming collaboration with singer, Jay Park from South Korea.

"Yes, I will be working with Jay on a single that, hopefully is going to be released early next year. I'm going to fly to South Korea soon to work on that," she explains.

On fashion, the 32-year-old explains that she views it as something that plays a big part in her everyday life: "As an artiste, it's the whole package. Clothes that really match my personality and music have been the key to my success, in a way."

Nazim Othman, on the other hand, is an actor that has been seen in various Malay television series such as Ponti Anak Remaja, Trilogi Cinta, Pekan and Asmara. Apart from acting, he has branched out into singing. He sang Cinta, which was part of the soundtrack of drama Begitulah Cinta.

Having just completed his first foray in theatre where he made an appearance in the play Tribute Teater Tun Siti Hasmah, Nazim says that he is now looking to put more serious effort in expanding his music career.

"I hope that I'll be able to release a few of my own songs next year, and maybe even release a mini album in this regard," he adds.

His sense of style is described to be simple and practical. However, 28-year-old Nazim admits that he loves to experiment when it comes to dressing up. He thinks that Malaysian men should be more expressive with fashion and not be afraid to be who they are.

"Of course, as a celebrity, style is considered important. I do pay close attention to how I style myself and the aspects of my dressing each day. It's part and parcel of being a celebrity."

The shoot featuring Mizz Nina and Nazim represented the ease of which the different fashion pieces in the Club 21 and Club 21 Men multi-label store can be mixed and matched to create individual looks. The two celebrities are photographed in various outfits that were put together to represent diverse style quotients.

> The Club 21 and Club 21 Men multi-brand store is located at Level 3 of Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.


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