Khamis, 3 Januari 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Venezuela's Chavez still has "severe" respiratory problem

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 06:48 PM PST

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is still suffering a "severe" respiratory infection that has hindered his breathing as he struggles to recover from cancer surgery in Cuba, the government said on Thursday.

Nancy Romero places a figurine on a religious altar with images of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez in Caracas January 3, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Nancy Romero places a figurine on a religious altar with images of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez in Caracas January 3, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The 58-year-old socialist leader has not been seen in public nor heard from in more than three weeks. Officials say he is in delicate condition after his fourth operation in just 18 months for an undisclosed form of cancer in his pelvic area.

"Comandante Chavez has faced complications as a result of a severe lung infection," Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said in the latest official update on the president's condition.

"This infection has caused a breathing insufficiency that requires Comandante Chavez to comply strictly with medical treatment," the communiqué added, giving no further details.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro had earlier returned to Venezuela on Thursday after visiting Chavez in hospital as rumours swirled that the president could be close to death.

Flanked by senior government figures including Diosdado Cabello, the head of the National Assembly, Maduro toured a coffee production plant in Caracas - the type of visit that the president made frequently before he fell ill.

"He is conscious of the battle that he's in, and has the same fighting spirit as always, with the same strength and energy as always, with his confidence and security," Maduro said. "We're going to be alongside him with the same strength and the same energy."

Maduro said Cabello, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez and Chavez's elder brother Adan, among others, had all been with the president in the Havana hospital.

Venezuelan bonds rallied to five-year highs earlier on Thursday on rumours that Chavez's health had taken a turn for the worse. Foreign investors generally hope for a more business-friendly government in Venezuela, and its assets have rallied in recent months on news of his illness.

In scenes that recalled Chavez's hours-long televised visits to building sites, hospitals and oil refineries, Maduro told workers at the nationalized Fama de America factory that there was no "transition" taking place in the country.

"The only transition in Venezuela is the transition to socialism," he said in comments carried live by state television.

"It began six years ago, ordered by Comandante Hugo Chavez as chief and president, elected, re-elected and ratified, much as it pains the bourgeois hucksters and the right, who have done so much damage to our fatherland."

Chavez's abrupt exit from the political scene would be a huge shock for the South American OPEC nation. His oil-financed socialism has made him a hero to the poor majority but critics call him a dictator.

His condition is being watched closely by Latin American allies that have benefited from his help, as well as investors attracted by Venezuela's lucrative and widely traded debt.


Chavez is still set to be sworn in on January 10, as spelled out in the constitution. If he were to die or had to step aside, new elections would be held within 30 days, with Maduro running as the ruling Socialist Party (PSUV) candidate.

While the constitution gives January 10 as the start of a new presidential term, it does not explicitly state what happens if a president-elect cannot take office on that date.

Top PSUV officials have suggested that Chavez's inauguration could be postponed - while the opposition says any delay would be just the latest sign the former soldier is not fit to govern.

Cabello said the "Chavismo" movement was in pain but remained resolute, and he issued a warning to the opposition: "Make no mistake about these people or this revolution. It is going to cost you very, but very, dearly," he said.

On Saturday, Cabello will likely be re-elected as head of the Chavista-dominated National Assembly, a key post that could see him assume Chavez's role temporarily while new elections are called should the president have to step down.

In the past Cabello has been considered as a rival of Maduro, but the pair have been at pains to deny that. Their appearance side-by-side at the coffee factory on Thursday looked to be the latest effort to project a unified front.

Last year, Chavez staged what appeared to be remarkable comeback from the disease to win re-election to a new six-year term in October despite being weakened by radiation therapy. But he returned to Cuba for more treatment within weeks of his win.

Officials have said he suffered unexpected bleeding and then a respiratory infection after a six-hour operation on December 11. That respiratory infection caused further complications, they have said, without giving more details.

The head of the opposition's Democratic Unity coalition, Ramon Aveledo, has accused the authorities of breaking a pledge to keep Venezuelans informed about Chavez's health.

And one opposition leader suggested on Thursday that legislators should form an official commission to visit Cuba and assess the president's condition for themselves.

Maduro hit back in his televised comments, saying the public had been provided with updates almost every day, and he accused Aveledo of orchestrating a campaign of misinformation.

"We have no doubt Mr. Aveledo is behind the campaign of sick rumours that began on Twitter and Facebook," Maduro said.

(Editing by Kieran Murray and Lisa Shumaker)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

U.S. House chooses Boehner as speaker again despite dissent

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 06:38 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite a rocky few weeks during the "fiscal cliff" fight, John Boehner won re-election as speaker of the House of Representatives on Thursday and will again lead Republicans as they take on the White House over federal spending.

Speaker of the House John Boehner takes his oath during the first day of the 113th Congress at the Capitol in Washington January 3, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Speaker of the House John Boehner takes his oath during the first day of the 113th Congress at the Capitol in Washington January 3, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Boehner defeated House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi 220-192 in a vote on the opening day of the 113th Congress and vowed to use his second term to shrink the national debt of $16 trillion (10 trillion pounds) to prevent it from "draining free enterprise."

The Ohio congressman narrowly avoided the embarrassment of having to go to a second round of voting, as 12 conservatives held back their support for him. It was the closest margin of any speaker vote since 1997.

But without a challenger from inside his party, Boehner's re-election was never in doubt even though he has struggled to control an unruly group of fiscal conservatives in his caucus.

True to form, the often emotional Boehner shed a tear or two as he took the gavel and spelled out the challenges ahead.

"Our government has built up too much debt. Our economy is not producing enough jobs. These are not separate problems," Boehner said.

"At $16 trillion and rising, our national debt is draining free enterprise and weakening the ship of state."

Questions were asked about Boehner's speakership when conservative Tea Party-backed lawmakers delivered him a stinging defeat in December by rejecting a proposal of his during talks with President Barack Obama to raise taxes on millionaires.

Boehner also came under fire for voting on Tuesday for a compromise deal to prevent the U.S. economy from falling off the so-called fiscal cliff and for being slow to approve aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast.


"Being speaker today is no bargain, I tell you," Republican Representative Peter King of New York told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Widely seen as having lost the "fiscal cliff" fight with Obama by accepting tax increases, congressional Republicans are keen for a rematch and they will get the chance soon.

Debate is likely to be fierce when lawmakers deal with planned spending cuts for military and domestic programs that are due to start in February. Around that time, Congress is likely to take up the thorny issue of extending the "debt ceiling" - the limit of how much the federal government can borrow.

Boehner was the Republicans' front man in fiscal talks with Obama but stepped aside for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who struck a dramatic New Year's Eve deal with Vice President Joe Biden.

The stress of recent weeks seems to have got to Boehner, who cursed at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at the White House twice after a meeting last week, according to Senate aides.

Reid had accused the Republican of running a "dictatorship" in the House and being more interested in keeping his speakership than in cutting a fiscal deal.

The son of a bar owner, Boehner had a tough upbringing. He shared one bathroom with his 11 siblings and worked in the family business while still a child.

He was elected speaker after the 2010 midterm elections when a Tea Party surge helped Republicans take the House from the Democrats.

Pelosi, his predecessor and now Democratic minority leader, presented the gavel again to Boehner on Thursday just after he won re-election.

"I know all too well that we will not always agree," Pelosi said. "But I hope, with all my heart that we find common ground that is a higher, better place for our country."

Fellow Republicans, not Democrats, have been landing some of the toughest blows on Boehner, notably New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who launched a tirade against the speaker for postponing an anticipated vote on a $60 billion storm aid package for the victims of Sandy.

King, who was among Boehner's critics, was more forgiving on Thursday after the speaker agreed to abruptly reverse course and set a timetable to approve the storm relief.

"John is really a voice of reason in our conference, despite some of the things I said yesterday," King told NBC's "Today."

Seeking to explain the difficulties of Boehner's job, Representative Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, borrowed a line from fellow southerner Bill Frist, who once described leading Republicans in the Senate as: "It's a lot like being a caretaker of a cemetery â— a lot of people under you but nobody listens."

(Additional reporting by Samuel P Jacobs, David Lawder and Susan Heavey. Writing by Alistair Bell; editing by Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Wave damage, flooding found on beached Shell drill ship

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 06:14 PM PST

ANCHORAGE (Reuters) - The Royal Dutch Shell drill ship that was tossed by high winds and grounded off an Alaska island on New Years Eve has suffered some damage from waves and flooding, but so far has not spilled any of the 155,000 gallons of fuel and other petroleum products aboard, officials managing the emergency response said Thursday.

The conical drilling unit Kulluk, owned by Royal Dutch/Shell, sits aground 40 miles (64 kms) southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, on the shore of Sitkalidak Island in this U.S. Coast Guard handout photo taken January 2, 2013. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Marsh/Handout

The conical drilling unit Kulluk, owned by Royal Dutch/Shell, sits aground 40 miles (64 kms) southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, on the shore of Sitkalidak Island in this U.S. Coast Guard handout photo taken January 2, 2013. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Marsh/Handout

Salvage experts were flown to the stricken Kulluk on Wednesday and Thursday, officials said at a news conference in Anchorage.

"Today we can confirm that the Kulluk remains upright and stable and there is no evidence of sheening in the vicinity," Sean Churchfield, Shell's Alaska operations manager and the company's emergency-response coordinator, said at the news conference.

The salvage crews found "some wave damage to the topside of the vessel" and several breached hatches that caused water damage inside, Churchfield said. Generators had also been damaged, he said, and new generators might have to moved in to provide power to move the vessel.

It remains unclear how serious the damage is or how long it will take to move the ship away from its site, Churchfield and other officials said. Churchfield said he could not comment on how the Kulluk grounding would affect Shell's 2013 drilling plans.

Coast Guard Captain Paul Mehler III said that, at his request, marine-casualty investigators were on their way to Alaska from the Coast Guard's Centre of Excellence in New Orleans. Findings from the Coast Guard investigation will be made public, Mehler said.

Area residents have expressed concerns about conflicts with upcoming commercial fishing seasons and traditional food-gathering activities, state and local officials said. A particular concern is the vulnerability of a nearby historical site, they said.

The Kulluk is grounded near an important cultural site for the region's native Alutiiq people, who are concerned about protecting the area's values to their heritage, state and local officials said.

Sitkalidak Island was the site of a notorious 18th century massacre in which Russian colonial forces killed hundreds of Alutiiq men, women and children.

The site, called "Refuge Rock," is "probably the most culturally significant place" for residents of the nearby village of Old Harbour, said Duane Dvorak, a community liaison from the Kodiak Island Borough.

(Editing by Jonathan Weber and Matt Driskill)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

It's marriage before babies for Rob K

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 08:40 PM PST

Rob Kardashian seems to be judging his sisters for having babies with men they are not married to. He told People Magazine, "I'm so proud of my sisters, but I'll be married before I have a baby."

Two of Rob's famous sisters have made a different choice. Kim just announced she is pregnant with boyfriend Kanye West's child.

While, Kourtney has two children with her longtime boyfriend Scott Disick.

Rob also added that the whole family including Kim and Kanye are happy and that he is "excited to be an uncle again."

Red FM offers chance to attend the Grammys

Posted: 04 Jan 2013 12:58 AM PST

Red FM wants to send one talented person to the Grammy Awards in February!

START the year with a bang! Red FM is sending one person to the 55th Annual Grammy Awards on Feb 10 in Los Angeles, California!

The Grammys recognises outstanding achievements in music in the United States, and the awards night will see a large number of artistes, bands, musicians and celebrities gracing the red carpet for one glitzy show. Among the nominees this year are Kelly Clarkson, Fun., Gotye, Frank Ocean, Taylor Swift, Mumford & Son, The Black Keys, Adele and Katy Perry, while rapper/actor LL Cool J is set to host the show. You really don't want to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of the fabulous shindig!

The Grammy Awards is also about recognising people who have pursued their passion. Red FM is inspired by this fact and has come up with a contest to reward a listener who cleverly showcases his or her talent. However, you will not be strictly judged for your talent – Red FM will be focusing on the creativity, showmanship and passion of the competitor.

Starting from Jan 7, Red FM announcers will be inviting you to head to the station's official website to upload your video. Whether you are an artist, dancer, scientist or singer, do not be afraid to show the world your talent! Each of us have our own unique talent, so put it to good use and join in the competition.

If you do not have a video camera or a camera phone that could record your "show", just listen in to Red FM for the daily whereabouts of the Red Ryders, who will be able to help you out.

You can also check out the Red Ryders' Facebook page ( to find out where they will be. Apart from the chance to attend the Grammys, the winner also gets to go on a day trip to either Universal Studios Hollywood or Disneyland!

For more information, log on to or join the Red FM Malaysia Facebook fan page ( You can also follow them on Twitter (@iloveredfm).

Red FM is owned and operated by The Star.

Red FM 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: Business

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The Star Online: Business

RHB Research sees Alam Maritim breaking out of 72-75 sen resistance

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 06:59 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Research Institute expects Alam Maritim Resources to break out above the resistance region of 72 sen to 75 sen in the short term.

It said on Friday that technically, the stock has ended its month-long consolidation with its recent breakout above the SMAs.

"The formation of a long-white candlestick and the spike in buying volume on Jan 2, 2013 suggest that the stock is geared to resume its advance in the near term," it said.

RHB Research expects the stock to break out above the resistance region of 72 sen to 75 sen in the short term and advance towards the next resistance region of 82 sen to 86 sen over the medium term.

"Any further breakout above the 86 sen resistance could clear the path for a longer-term rally towards the psychological level of RM1," it said.

The research house said investors should thus accumulate within the region of 70 sen to 75 sen on expectations of further upside over the medium term.

"While we expect good support at the previous month's low of 66 sen, breaching this level could turn the overall outlook negative again.

"All in, we see a good risk to reward ratio for investors with a theoretical entry price of 73 sen given that the downside to the support of 66 sen is 7.0 sen while the upside to the resistance of 82 sen and 86 sen is 9.0 sen and 13 sen respectively," it said.

VSI secures contract from US MNC to make water filter

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 06:57 PM PST

SENAI: VS Industry Bhd, one of the top 50 electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers in the world, is cautiously optimistic on the outlook for 2013, describing it as the "most challenging" for the company.

Managing director Datuk Gan Sem Yam said the implementation of the minimum wage scheme on Jan 1 was the main issue affecting many local companies as it added to the rising operating costs.

He said other hard-pressing problems faced by manufacturers in the country included getting locals to work as production workers and hiring engineers.

Gan said the company had recently secured a new contract from a US-based multinational corporation (MNC) to produce a water filtering device by the second quarter of this year.

"We are negotiating with another US MNC to manufacture a home appliance product which we expect to start producing in the third quarter of the year,'' he said after the company AGM yesterday.

Gan said it had also been entrusted by the US-based Keurig Inc to produce another model of single coffee brewing machines this year for the North American markets.

Keurig, a global pioneer and leading manufacturer of single-cup coffee brewing machines. The RM30mil plant on 2.42ha, opened in November 2011, is a dedicated facility for Kuerig Coffee Brewer at VS Industry's plant at Jalan Senai-Seelong here.

Executive director Ng Yong Kang said that the new product allowed multiple users to brew their coffee instead of single serving like the earlier brewing machines produced by the company.

"This new product is a high-end coffee brewing machine unlike the first one which is the entry-level product, and demand for coffee brewing machines is good in the US and Canada,'' he said.

Ng said with the uptrend in sales orders, the company anticipated Keurig to contribute about 10% to VS Industry's revenue in the current financial year ending July 31.

He said the company's proven track record in securing contracts from many MNCs would pave the way for it to continue attracting new contract manufacturing jobs from new clients in the future.

For the financial year ended July 31, 2012, VS Industry reproted RM38.6mil in net profit on RM1.20bil revenue compared with RM27.72mil and RM1.02bil respectively in 2011.

Fifth extension to Maybank to sell down stake in BII gets tepid reaction

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 06:55 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: The market reacted tepidly to Indonesian banking authority Bapepam giving Malaysia's largest financial services group Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) a fifth extension to sell down its stake in PT Bank Internasional Indonesia Tbk (BII).

Maybank's share price closed up one sen to RM9.04, while BII's share price rose five rupiah to 410 rupiah. A source told StarBiz that the extension was not a major issue, hence the muted market reaction.

Maybank, which currently holds a 95% stake in BII, has until June 1 to refloat 20% of its stake in BII. Previous extensions were on Dec 3, 2010, May 31, 2011, Jan 3, 2012 and July 6, 2012.

Maybank had paid close to RM9bil or 4.6 times book value for a 97.5% stake in BII in late 2008, following the acquisition of 20% stakes in Karachi-based MCB Bank Ltd and Ho Chi Minh-based An Binh Commercial Joint Stock Bank respectively.

Chief executive officer and president Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar was last reported as saying that Maybank was still looking at opportunities to comply with the requirement, but the bank was not compelled to sell below its cost.

However, previous attempts to sell down the stake had been futile on account of the acquisition price.

Analysts at M&A Securities noted in a report that the top-10 banks in Indonesia were currently trading at an average of 2.9 times book value. They said Indonesian banking regulators may not want the stake sold to another Malaysian entity.

They said Maybank could be looking for an Indonesian partner that could potentially add value to BII, but looking for such a partner may take some time. They added that another potential buyer may be Singapore-based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd.

BII plans to have up to 500 branches throughout the country by 2015. BII ranks second behind Singapore in terms of profit contribution to Maybank, contributing 14%, but this may change, given the vast untapped market in Indonesia and the steps taken to improve its operations and business.


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Shortened PGA season begins in Hawaii

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 05:17 PM PST

KAPALUA, Hawaii: American Rickie Fowler will strike the first ball as the 2013 PGA Tour season kicks off Friday with 30 players in the field for the winners-only Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Last year's winner Steve Stricker is back and he will have some strong competition to beat in his quest to repeat.

Stricker, who is the only previous winner in the abbreviated field, posted a pair of 69s in the final two rounds last year, defeating Martin Laird by two strokes.

Stricker's worst finish in his last four times at Kapalua was a tie for 10th three years ago.

Reigning major champions Bubba Watson (Masters) and Webb Simpson (US Open) are also contenders.

Watson, who has played here the last two years, carded his best finish last year when he tied for 18th.

"I'm excited about it," Watson said. "A great time for the family, hanging out with friends and seeing the scenery and playing the golf course is a challenge but it's a fun time to start off the year in Maui."

Watson said his goals this year are to get back to the winner's circle and make the Presidents Cup team.

"For me it's about winning a golf tournament," Watson said. "And the second thing is making the team event.

In the US we have a team event every year. This year it's the Presidents Cup, so that would be the second goal.

"I got my tour card for five years now. That would have been number three, but I'm good for five years."

Simpson tied for third place in his first appearance at Kapalua last year.

Players Champion Matt Kuchar tied for sixth in 2011, while Tour Championship winner Brandt Snedeker is back after not playing the tournament last year.

The Kapalua event begins a shortened PGA season after organisers decided to switch to a 2013-14 season next year. The former Fall Series is now the beginning of the new season, resulting in seven fewer tournaments in 2013.

Hunter Mahan said the new so-called "wrap-around" season has added to the work load and created some uncertainty among the players.

"With golf now, it's year-long," Mahan said. "The season doesn't end in September. I mean, it doesn't really ever end. It just keeps kind of looping over and over and over again.

"Starting the first week of January you don't get a whole lot of time off.

"The wrap-around schedule, I just don't know. When does the season actually end? Is it December?"

Mahan will play in a group that includes fellow American Zach Johnson in the Friday to Monday event.

Fowler is partnered with Jason Dufner.

The PGA Tour stays in Hawaii next week for the Sony Open, where Johnson Wagner captured the title by two strokes last year. - AFP

Nicol suffers group match defeat to Massaro in World Series

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 03:45 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Nicol David's hopes of retaining the World Series Finals title suffered a major dent after she went down fighting 10-12, 9-11 to world No. 3 Laura Massaro at the Queen's Club in London.

The 29-year-old, fresh from winning her record seventh world title, appeared to be on top of her game when she blew away Hong Kong's Annie Au in her first Group A match on Wednesday.

But home favourite Massaro was determined not to repeat her Women's World Open final loss to Nicol in Cayman Islands last month and started strongly, edging to a 10-9 lead in the first set.

Nicol, however, levelled it at 10-10 but Massaro again nicked ahead to take the the first set 12-10.

The Malaysian squash queen, however, had a better start in the second set.

But Massaro gradually took control of the match and the 'T' as Nicol committed too many errors.

The Englishwoman then sealed the match in just 29 minutes to hand Nicol her first defeat of the year.

Massaro, who beat Holland's Natalie Grinham a day earlier, is now through to the semi-finals.

This is only the third time that Massaro has beaten Nicol in 18 professional meetings.

Both her previous wins came in 2011 – in the Cleveland Classic and Singapore Masters.

Nicol must now beat Grinham, who defeated Annie 14-12, 11-4 yesterday, in order to make the last four.

There were also major upsets in Group B when Jenny Duncalf of England and France's Camille Serme overcame their more talented Egpytian rivals.

World No. 8 Duncalf, going through a poor run of form, brought the home crowd to their feet by beating world No. 2 Raneem El Weleily 10-12, 11-8, 11-8.

Serme, who only confirmed her ticket to the World Series at the Hong Kong Open last month, routed world junior champion Nour El Sherbini 11-9, 12-10.

In the men's Group A, World Open finalist Mohamed El Shorbagy of Egypt got off to a great start by beating Englishman Peter Barker 11-6, 11-7 while compatriot Amr Shabana silenced the home crowd by overcoming Nick Matthew 11-6, 11-6.

In Group B, former world No. 1 James Wilstrop defeated Karim Darwish 11-9, 11-5, while Frenchman Gregory Gaultier came back from a set down to beat late entry Simon Rosner 10-12, 11-4, 11-7.

Syafiq shows nerves of steel to reach third round in Sheffield

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 03:12 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Top Under-17 junior Mohd Syafiq Kamal held his nerves to book a spot in the third round of the British Junior Open squash championships in Sheffield.

The talented 16-year-old from Kelantan powered past American Jordan Brail 11-7, 11-7, 5-11, 11-7 yesterday. A day earlier, the soft-spoken Syafiq overcame England's Cillian Duanne 10-12, 11-3, 11-1, 11-8 in the first round.

It was an excellent result for Syafiq, who has now achieved his own minimum target of making the last 16.

Syafiq, however, feels that he needs to do better in the next round as he will be up against joint fifth-eighth seed Abdel Zaher of Egypt.

"It was a tough match against Jordan and I'm happy to win 3-1. But it wasn't my best performance ... I'm not happy at all with the way I played," said Syafiq.

"Perhaps it's because my opponent is the type of player who makes you lose concentration, which I did, and that's how I dropped a set.

"My next opponent will be much tougher.

"I definitely need to do my best to win a spot in the quarter-finals."

Syafiq is the sole survivor in the Under-17 category after Darren Chan and Al Nikc Ally crashed out in the second round.

Darren, who scored a good 9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 win over Belgium's Tiago Goriely in the first round, failed to keep up with joint fifth-eighth seed George Parker of England and lost 3-1.

Al Nikc, who squeezed past local hopeful Ben Windle in the first round, went down in five sets to yet another English lad – James Peach.

Meanwhile Jesse Foo, who upset India's joint 17th-32nd seed Aryaman Andik in the first round of the Under-15 event, failed to join top seed and compatriot Ng Eain Yow in the third round after losing an epic five setter to Egypt's Ziad Sakr, last year's Under-13 champion.

In Under-19, Sanjay Singh Chal cleared his first hurdle by beating England's Scott Young 11-4, 12-10, 11-3 before going down 10-12, 5-11, 11-6, 11-6, 9-11 to Kuwait's Youseff Saleh in the second round.

In the girls' event, Penang Junior Open champion Teh Min Jie made the third round of the Under-17 category by first beating Wales' Lowri Roberts before stunning local favourite Kip Quiney 11-4, 11-2, 11-5 in the next round.

Rachel Arnold, who received a first round bye, also made the last 16 after crushing Canada's Sophie Mehta 11-7, 11-4, 11-3.


The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Official: Technical glitch caused error in DAP election results

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 07:54 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: A technical error in calculations during party elections at the 16th DAP National Congress on Dec 15 resulted in an inaccurate result of the positions in the Central Executive Commitee (CEC).

Portal reported Thursday that the error was unlikely to greatly affect the 20 top positions of the CEC.

In an interesting turn of events, candidate number 65, Zairil Khir Johari, who initially had the same number of votes received by candidate number 35, Manogaran Marimuthu (305 votes), actually received 803 votes.

This put him in the 20th position, which means he is automatically appointed to the CEC.

Candidate number 63, Wu Him Ven, who was initially in the CEC with 1,202 votes, actually received 669 votes and is in 26th position, putting him out of the committee.

"Incredible turn of events. Am still shocked myself," Zairil tweeted late Thursday.

Returing officer Pooi Weng Keong, who was responsible for making the final calculations and presenting the results to the party congress, said the error occurred when transferring the results calculated using Microsoft Excel.

"As a result of the error, the number of votes for candidates numbered 31 to 38 are the same as candidates numbered 61 to 68," he said.

He added that the mistake was not noticed by his side until the next day and was reported to DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

According to the portal, DAP viewed the mistake seriously and has ordered for an internal audit, led by Dr Ong Kian Ming, to investigate the error.

Dr Ong is the newest member of DAP that acted as an observer during the party's congress and did not vote as well as play any role in the calculation of votes.

PM pleased with response to RM200 smartphone rebate

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 07:15 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is pleased to see that the RM200 smartphone rebate promised in the 2013 Budget is a hit.

Najib, in his latest tweet Thursday, said the move would encourage Malaysians to communicate more.

"Pleased to see RM200 smartphone rebate promised in 2013 Budget is a hit. It means we can all be more connected," he said.

The Prime Minister also asked his Twitter followers on the smartphone models that they would choose.

His tweet was retweeted more than 500 times in about 10 minutes with some Twitter users responding and telling the Prime Minister their dream smartphones.

On Wednesday, the Cabinet had agreed not to set a price limit on the smartphones which could be purchased by youths aged between 21 and 30 and earning less than RM3,000 to be eligible for the RM200 government rebate.

The rebate is implemented under the Youth Communication Package, following the announcement by the Prime Minister when tabling the 2013 Budget last September. - Bernama

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Cuepacs urges reappointment of contract workers

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 07:00 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Local authorities have been urged to abide by the Public Service Commission's (PSC) circular to extend the services of contract workers until the end of this year.

Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) president Datuk Omar Osman said the services of 300 contract workers in the peninsula and 88 in Sarawak were terminated effective Dec 31, 2012 but they were not reappointed as directed by the circular in November.

"Termination of service should not happen as other departments such as the Treasury had complied with the circular," he said Thursday.

"It is difficult to find work now. The problem of unemployment will become more serious in the country if they terminate their contract workers.

"The departments that refuse to comply with the circular will claim they don't have the budget to reappoint the contract workers," he said.

Omar asked workers who did not have their contract extended to lodge a report with Cuepacs so that it could be forwarded to the Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Dr Ali Hamsa.

He also suggested the addition of another 100,000 public servants nationwide specifically in customer service.

"We do not agree to a reduction of 10% of government servants as suggested by the PSC recently," he added. - Bernama


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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'Lincoln', 'Les Miserables' among Producers Guild nods

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 07:29 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Steven Spielberg's presidential drama Lincoln, musical Les Miserables and Kathyrn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden thriller Zero Dark Thirty were among 10 films earning Producers Guild Award nominations on Wednesday, as the Hollywood awards season gathered momentum.

Ben Affleck and George Clooney, two of the producers behind Affleck's Iran hostage drama Argo, and the team that brought Quentin Tarantino's darkly humorous slavery Western Django Unchained to the screen also won nods for the awards handed out by the Producers Guild of America.

The critically acclaimed James Bond blockbuster Skyfall, which last weekend surpassed US$1 billion at the worldwide box office, got a big boost to its Oscar hopes when producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson were included.

They joined an eclectic list that featured Ang Lee's shipwreck tale Life Of Pi, and quirky comedy Silver Linings Playbook.

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, and mythical indie film Beasts Of The Southern Wild rounded out the feature film nominations, the PGA said in a statement.

The Producers Guild Awards will be handed out at a ceremony in Los Angeles on January 26 and will be a key indication of Hollywood sentiment ahead of the Oscars on February 24.

Many of the PGA-nominated movies are expected to feature strongly on the list of Oscar nominations when those are announced on January 10. Eight of the movies are also in the running for best picture Golden Globe trophies on January 13.

But the PGA had nothing for The Hobbit from director Peter Jackson. It also left early awards hopeful The Master out of the running in a sign that the cult tale starring Philip Seymour Hoffman may be losing steam in Hollywood.

Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises also failed to make the list.

The PGA nominated the producers of five films for its animated movie honors - Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, Disney family films Wreck-it-Ralph and Brave, and ParaNorman and Rise Of The Guardians.

The PGA also named its picks for producers of television movies and miniseries. Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story, the team behind HBO film Game Change about Sarah Palin's 2008 vice presidential bid, and Britain's modern twist on detective Sherlock Holmes Sherlock were among the five making the cut.

They were joined by Hatfields & McCoys, about a legendary family feud starring Kevin Costner who was also one of the producers, and the PBS chronicle of the 1930s drought The Dust Bowl.

'Hobbit' fights off rivals atop New Year US box office

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 05:18 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" fought off all comers at the North American box office over the New Year holidays, beating two Oscar-tipped movies to the top spot, figures showed Wednesday.

The long-awaited first part of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" prequel trilogy earned $31.9 million in its third week in theaters, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

That was just enough to keep it ahead of Quentin Tarantino's brutal western "Django Unchained," which made $30.1 million in its debut weekend in second place, ahead of musical adaptation "Les Miserables" at $27.3 million.

Both films are in the running in this year's Hollywood awards season, which climaxes with the Oscars on February 24. Tarantino's film already has five Golden Globe nominations, against four for "Les Miz."

All-important Oscars nominations are due to be announced next Thursday, January 10.

In fourth place was another debut offering, "Parental Guidance," a comedy starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler looking after their grandchildren, which earned $14.6 million.

Tom Cruise crime drama "Jack Reacher," in which the Hollywood A lister's character investigates fictional shootings by a trained military sniper, took fifth spot with weekend earnings of $13.6 million, two weeks after its release.

Also on its second weekend in theaters, Judd Apataw's comedy "This is 40," billed as "a sort-of sequel" to the 2007 film "Knocked Up," slipped to sixth place $12.5 million.

In seventh spot was Steven Spielberg's political drama "Lincoln" - another Oscar hopeful which topped Globes nominations with seven nods - earning $7.3 million on its eighth weekend.

"The Guilt Trip," about a mother-son road trip starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogan, earned $6.5 million for eighth place, just ahead of the 3D version of the 2001 animated hit "Monsters, Inc," which took in $6.4 million.

Rounding out the top 10 was Dreamworks's "Rise of the Guardians," featuring Jack Frost, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and a tattooed Russian Santa Claus, which earned $4.9 million on its sixth weekend in theaters.- AFP

Versatility Shaheizy

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 02:37 AM PST

Multiple-award winner Shaheizy Sam proves that he is more than just a comedy actor.

SHAHEIZY Sam. If you have been following the local movie scene, you would know who this actor is.

In recent years, he has appeared in numerous movies, many of which have been blockbusters. That's quite an achievement for someone who essentially only became "popular" about two years ago, starring in a film called Adnan Sempit. His role as a hopeless romantic mat rempit in the film – which garnered RM7.6mil in box-office takings – had earned him a place in the hearts of many local moviegoers.

Sam, as he is fondly known, grew up in an artistic family – his mother Kathy Fauziah and sister Zizie Izette are well-known actresses – so it is no surprise that he would follow in their footsteps.

While many may associate him with comedic roles, the truth is that the 30-year-old Sam is a versatile actor. For example, his convincing portrayal of an enraged and emotionally unstable man in Bohsia: Jangan Pilih Jalan Hitam earned him a nomination for the best supporting actor award in the 23rd Malaysian Film Festival in 2009.

In the following year, Sam was named the first ever recipient of the Special Yasmin Ahmad Award in the Anugerah Skrin 2010. He was also honoured with the best actor award in the 24th Malaysian Film Festival 2011, for his work in the film Kongsi, where he played a gangster named Tumulak. Sam's other prominent films include Jangan Pandang Belakang Congkak, Ngangkung, Niyang Rapik, Sekali Lagi, Aku Bukan Tomboy, Saya Amat Mencintaimu and Evolusi KL Drift 2.

Sam also starred in the award-winning Songlap (2011), which tells the story of two brothers who become entangled in human trafficking in Kuala Lumpur. The role further strengthened the KL-born Sam's reputation as a versatile actor; he won the best actor award in the Anugerah Skrin 2012.

When asked what his secret to consistent good acting was, Sam said that it is all about research.

"I like to do my own research on the character that I play. I will find out the background of the character and how it is linked to the other characters," said Sam in an interview recently.

It is also nice to note that Sam's appeal is somewhat different. His acting is more intense with a variety of colours.

"You know, I have this habit of shutting myself off from the real world whenever I receive a new script (be it for TV or film). Then, I like to be alone because it is easier to be in an intense mood and this will allow me to understand the role," explained Sam.

He has quite a creative mind: for each role he plays, the image of that character is formed in his head.

"To prepare for a role, the first thing I do is lock myself in a room. I will read the script and understand each line until I am satisfied," said Sam with a laugh.

Despite his fame, Sam is worried about the expectations that many have of him.

"Granted, in the past few years I have learned to cope with all the publicity and expectations, but I'm still nervous when people expect me to do wonders in each drama or movie that I act in," he said.

Many may be unaware that Sam was also once a musician and recording artiste way back in 1998. He was a member of the hip-hop/R&B group M.O.B, but he quit the group after two singles and decided to act instead.

However, Sam did have one song released last year called Beginilah Caranya, a duet with Yana Shamsuddin. The song was selected for the semi-final rounds of Anugerah Juara Lagu 2012.

"I know where I stand when it comes to singing. I don't think I want sing seriously now. I really want to focus on my acting.

"Singing and acting are about exploring and nurturing your talents. Once you know your capability, no one can stop you from exploring your skill. You just have to believe in yourself," shared Sam, who has just completed work on a romantic comedy called Mamak Cupcake, directed by Woo Ming Jin.

In Mamak Cupcake, fans will see Sam executing some nifty dance moves and singing – Bollywood style!

Acting alongside Siti Saleha, Sam plays MJ, who is torn between continuing his family legacy of running a restaurant and pursuing his love of baking by starting his own cupcake business.

"I'm happy to play MJ in Mamak Cupcake as it adds to my versatility in acting, which I'm always striving for in every movie role I take on," said Sam, adding that he is still thirsty for more unique and challenging roles that are able to push his creativity and ability to new limits.

With his feet firmly on the ground, being an actor is not all fun for the charming guy, especially after winning a few awards.

"Once you've won something, that's when you really have to prove your worth. When you hear people say, 'you are good', you'd better be good," said Sam. n Shaheizy Sam's latest films Mamak Cupcake and 2 Kalimah are scheduled for release this year.


The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Mall’s RM1.5mil ‘grand piano’ staircase ‘sings’ when stepped on

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 04:35 AM PST

Those who have been to Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur might know that the mall has three main sections — east, west and central wings.

The lower ground floor of the central wing, which is the centre of the mall, is called the Lower Ground Concourse.

Before this, visitors who wanted to traverse between the lower ground floor via the ground floor of the central wing had to walk over to either of the two side wings and take an escalator down.

With numerous visitors coming in daily, Berjaya Times Square recognises the growing traffic between these two floors and has built its first Grand Musical Staircase.

Unveiled recently, the Grand Musical Staircase is vibrantly lit in dancing LED sound graphs and designed to resemble a classical piano keyboard down to its actual chords.

This larger-than-life piano does not only feature its normal piano sound, but also the sounds of a harp, percussion and flute.

Nestled amidst the grandeur of its design and state-of-the-art technology, the landing area of the staircase on Lower Ground Concourse is installed with liquid panels that produce ripples with every footstep.

It is also bespangled with fibre optic lights and zen-like steps which greet visitors at the Lower Ground Floor.

The staircase is designed to give shoppers the illusion of walking on a sea of stars.

The mall management hopes that by adding an idea of 'fun' to a mundane act, like walking up or down a flight of stairs, they can subtly coax their shoppers into a healthier lifestyle.

Not to mention the pure novelty of walking on a giant piano, especially for the younger ones whose eyes light up when they realise there is a giant piano staircase in the mall.

The Grand Musical Staircase took a little more than 13 weeks to construct, costing RM1.5mil.

As the Lower Ground Concourse is used primarily for staged events, the landing area is built to allow an extension for an elevated platform akin to international catwalks and stages.

The management has also configured several staging options which will appeal to event organisers and possibly attract a new demographic of shoppers.

Metro Watch

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 04:35 AM PST


WWF-Malaysia and its Earth Hour partners are inviting Malaysian bands to participate in the inaugural Earth Hour Band Contest to build environmental awareness through music. The contest is open to three to six-person bands comprising Malaysian citizens who have not signed up with any record labels. Interested bands can submit their videos to wwfmy on Jan 22 before 5pm. Voting will begin in February and the top five bands with the most votes will participate in the finals during Earth Hour on March 23 at Sunway Pyramid. For details, email


Open University Malaysia's new Toastmasters Club is organising a New Year Toastmasters meeting this Saturday at 3pm, at Theatrette, Block B, Area A, Open University Malaysia, Jalan Tun Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. The public is invited to join and improve their public speaking skills, witness speeches and evaluations, and even deliver impromptu speeches. For details, call 012-210 2977 / 03-2773 2395 (Arnie) or 012-919 3190 / 03-2773 2760 (Nazrai).


Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre Klang (SKSMC) will be organising a free public forum on 'Elderly Health Issues' on Jan 19. The programme will be scheduled from 8.30am to 1pm at SKSMC. There will be talks on osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and sleep disorders. Refreshments will be provided. Admission is free but seats are limited. For details, call 03-3373 3636 ext 7313 / 7335 / 7356.


The Philharmonic Society of Selangor Choir invites singers of all ages to join in the 2013 season. Orientation will be held on Jan 14 and 21 at 7.15pm at Free Space@ Kakiseni, L1-35 & 36, Level 1, SS Two Mall, 40 Jalan SS2/72 in Petaling Jaya. Rehearsals are held every Monday, from 8pm to 10pm. For details, call 012-277 8871 (Swee Chin) or email selangor.phil@gmail. com.


University of Malaya Malaysian Centre of Regulatory Studies is having a free public talk on Personal Data Protection Act at the Law Faculty in University of Malaya on Jan 22, from 10am to 11am. Registration is on a first come, first served basis. RSVP before Jan 18. For details, visit


The National Blood Bank will be having blood donation drives today at Dewan Institut Kemahiran Mara (IKM) Kuala Lumpur (9am-3pm), Ampang Park Management Corporation (10am-5pm), Mont Kiara Mall (10am-4pm) and Nadin Holdings (11am-5pm). For details, visit


Kuala Lumpur Divine Life Society, Sivanadhashram in Jalan Batu Caves will be organising a meditation workshop daily from 10am to 4pm, fro m this Friday until Jan 17. Admission is free. For details, call 012-323 0398 or SMS 012-212 8936 (Sre).


The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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University expands into China for energy efficiency research programme

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 03:23 PM PST

KOTA KINABALU: Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) has expanded into China by venturing into energy efficiency research in Dongguan.

The university inked a deal with a Chinese firm - Centro Ecotech (CE) Energy Technology (Dongguan) Co. Ltd for the setting up of a research lab in the city located in the southern Guangdong province.

The signing was done between UMS Vice Chancellor Prof. Datuk Dr. Mohd Harun Abdullah and CE Co. Ltd chairman Chen Bing Guang in Dongguan on Dec 22.

Mohd Harun said this collaboration and the setting up of a research lab would help in the better understanding of green technology research and development.

This initiative also supports the university's vision and mission of implementing sustainable environmental friendly energy and natural resources in and out of the campus, he said.

According to the agreement, both parties would also work together to develop the energy efficient cleanroom control and create an automated building system, as well as exchange of ideas and knowledge pertaining to this field.

Meanwhile, another letter of intent was signed between UMS and the Graduate School at Shenzhen Campus, Tsing Hua University during a visit to the campus on Dec 24.

This signing will see both institutes collaborate on science and engineering, thus further strengthening the diplomatic bonds between Malaysia and China.

UMS officials had also earlier on suggested for a Tsinghua marine science research centre to be established in UMS, as well as strengthening collaborative research for green technology development between both parties.

New Year babies joy for families

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 05:39 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: Administrative executive Koh Geok Kim was all smiles after giving birth to her third child on New Year's day as she had not expected to go into labour the night before.

She believed that her newborn baby girl could not wait to see her parent and siblings.

Koh pointed out that she had wanted to give birth on Jan 1, 2013 instead on Dec 31.

"Initially I have planned to give birth via Caesarean section on New Year's day, however my water broke the night before New Year and I gave birth naturally," said the 32-year-old.

Koh, who believed that her 3.40kg baby girl is a lucky child, added she was born a healthy baby at 5.31am.

Another mother Bong Chiou Ping, 33, said that she had planned to deliver on New Year's day as her husband believe it to be a special and memorable date.

"I went through Caesarean because my husband and I taught it would be an easy date to remember and it would be special for my baby to be born on the first day of the year," she added.

Bong was delighted to be mother of two beautiful girls as she gave birth to her second healthy baby girl weighing 2.72kg at 9.15am.

KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital's public relation executive Shariffah Alia Syed Abdul Rahman said that four New Year's babies were born at the hospital.

"In total three babies were born while the hospital is also waiting another baby to be born before Jan 2," she said.

A total of 41 New Year babies were born in four different hospitals here in the city, Puteri Specialist Hospital (six), Sultanah Aminah Hospital (12) as well as Sultan Ismail Hospital (19).

SCCS brings cheer to cancer patients

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 05:41 PM PST

KOTA KINABALU: Cancer patients at the Sabah Women and Children's Hospital day care centre were all smiles when they received a year-end party from the Sabah Children's Cancer Society (SCCS).

Members and volunteers of the association gave goodies to the children and sang them Christmas carols, as well as celebrated the birthday of one of the boys there.

Despite their illness, the children still participated in the singing and some simple games organised by the volunteers.

Parents and relatives of the patients were also very willing to join in all the fun.

SCCS which was officially launched by the Sabah Women and Children's Hospital director Dr Tan Bee Hwai on May 19 last year, focuses on reducing the stress of cancer patients and their family members.

It was also established to promote research and public education in the prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer.

The society initially founded by a group of parents whose children were under treatment in the hospital was earlier known "Kelab Sokongan Ibubapa Onkologi Kanak-Kanak" (KIBO).

SCCS is now chaired by Datin Betty Pedro whereas its committee consists of parents of children with cancer and volunteers.

The society's medical adviser is Dr Ong Eng-Joe, the Paediatric Hemato-oncologist at the Sabah Women and Children's Hospital.

Among activities that have been carried out included a Dental Check-up and workshop for both parents and children in May.

A visit to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, and other birthday parties and festive celebrations were held during the second half of last year.

The public can email their questions regarding the society, its activities and donations to


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