Selasa, 8 Januari 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Kenya vows to crack down on fake police officers

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 08:57 PM PST

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya pledged on Tuesday to root out impostors in its police force following the arrest last week of a man suspected of masquerading for a decade as a top provincial security official.

Joshua Waiganjo, who said he was an assistant commissioner in the Rift Valley region, appeared in court on Tuesday to face 10 charges of serious crimes including impersonating a police officer and highway robbery, prosecutors said.

The case has caused a public outcry in the east African nation, where persistent corruption scandals have undermined confidence in the government ahead of a presidential election on March 4.

An internal police investigation found that Waiganjo had leaked information that caused the massacre of 32 police officers in November when they were pursuing cattle raiders, Kenyan newspaper The Standard reported.

Johnston Kavuludi, head of the independent National Police Service Commission, said it would seek to establish if Waiganjo had access to confidential security information and whether there was any link between him and the massacre in Baragoi, 210 miles (340 km) north of the capital Nairobi.

"The incident has exposed serious systemic weaknesses in the police service," said Kavuludi. "The commission is undertaking a detailed audit of all the police officers in the service, an action that would weed out 'ghost' officers."

Waiganjo's lawyer, Katwa Kigen, told Reuters his client "has nothing to do with the Baragoi massacre".

He said Waiganjo was not an impostor and they would prove his innocence of all the charges.


Media showed photos of a middle-aged Waiganjo wearing the uniform of senior officers and flying in a police helicopter. They carried tales of junior policemen he had intimidated and even sacked from the force over the years.

He attended several planning meetings for the doomed mission to recover stolen cattle, The Standard reported, quoting the report of the internal investigation.

Kavuludi said the police commission had suspended John M'mbijiwe, the Rift Valley police boss, and two other senior officers in the region to facilitate its probe.

The commission said a committee leading the investigation would report back within three weeks.

In 2006, two Armenian brothers - Artur Margariyan and Arthur Sargsian - whose swaggering lifestyle turned them into celebrities - were found to have been fraudulently issued with certificates showing they held the rank of deputy commissioner.

They were accused of involvement in a police raid on media offices and were deported after assaulting customs officers.

President Kibaki appointed a new police chief last month to bolster the force ahead of the March presidential vote.

It will be the first since a disputed 2007 election provoked ethnic clashes that killed more than 1,200 people and threw a spotlight on the failings of Kenya's security forces.

(Corrects story in paragraph 3 to show Kibaki not seeking another term)

(Additional reporting by Anthony Gitonga in Naivasha; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by George Obulutsa and Tom Pfeiffer)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Yum says China chicken suppliers dropped before probe announced

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 07:14 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - KFC parent Yum Brands Inc said it had stopped using chicken from suppliers in China that are now under a government investigation before the review was even announced and analysts said they expect the company to recover from the business hit in its biggest market.

A woman walks past a KFC restaurant as a logo of McDonald is reflected on a door window, in Wuhan, Hubei province, December 18, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A woman walks past a KFC restaurant as a logo of McDonald is reflected on a door window, in Wuhan, Hubei province, December 18, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

Yum, which gets more than half of its overall revenue and operating profit from China, on Monday warned that bad publicity from a Chinese government food safety review of chicken suppliers hit its sales in China harder than expected in the latest quarter.

Wall Street analysts expect that Yum's business will rebound as negative media coverage wanes even though consumers continue to criticise the company.

"Precedent suggests Yum can weather this type of incident," Bernstein Research analyst Sara Senatore said.

Some bloggers however, disagree with Senatore and have taken to China's Twitter-like Weibo to criticise KFC.

"I will never eat KFC again," said microblogger "Neverbunny". "We should get KFC out of China," wrote another under the name "ninibababa".

In 2005, Yum pulled some products from its KFC restaurants in China because they contained "Sudan Red" dye, which was banned from use in food due to concerns it could lead to an increased risk of cancer. Yum's China sales took a similar hit from that incident, but rebounded in the subsequent months, Senatore said.

Yum says it is cooperating with the Chinese government's review of two poultry suppliers - Liuhe Group Co. and Yingtai Food Group Co - that provided chicken to KFC with unapproved levels of antibiotics. Those suppliers "represent an extremely small percentage of product to KFC", according to Yum.

The company had stopped sourcing from Liuhe in August and has halted purchases from a problematic Yingtai plant, Yum spokesman Jonathan Blum told Reuters on Tuesday.

Yum had cancelled purchasing from the Yingtai plant before the government investigation was announced in late December, said Blum, who did not have more specific information on the timing.

Yum stopped using the suppliers after its own random tests showed that they were not meeting the company's own standards, he said.

"We certainly didn't knowingly put any product into the marketplace that had excessive antibiotics," Blum said. "We feel comfortable that we have the very highest, industry-leading standards on food quality and food safety."

Chinese food safety authorities, which were looking into a report from China Central Television that some of the chicken supplied to KFC contained antiviral drugs and hormones to accelerate growth, said in late December that KFC was supplied with chicken that contained excess amounts of antibiotics in 2010 and 2011.

Subsequent findings by the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration found the level of antibiotics and steroids in Yum's current batch of KFC chicken supply to be safe, but the watchdog found a suspicious level of an antiviral drug in one of the eight samples tested.

As part of its response to the publicity, Yum will use a combination of social media, mainstream media and other marketing and promotional activities to communicate directly with consumers, Blum said.

Yum has more than 5,100 restaurants in China and is the largest Western restaurant operator in China.

As a foreign brand, KFC had enjoyed a reputation of higher quality in China, where it now faces tougher local and foreign competition.

For example, Country Style Cooking Restaurant Chain Co Ltd, a local fast food chain based in the south-western city of Chongqing, has been gaining popularity.

China has been trying to stamp out health violations that have dogged the country's food sector amid reports of fake cooking oil and tainted milk. In 2008, milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine killed at least six children and sickened nearly 300,000.

Shares in Yum ended down 4.2 percent at $65.04 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Additional reporting by Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Leslie Adler and Matt Driskill)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Texas school can force teenager to wear locator chip - judge

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 06:12 PM PST

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A public school district in Texas can require students to wear locator chips when they are on school property, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday in a case raising technology-driven privacy concerns among liberal and conservative groups alike.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia said the San Antonio Northside School District had the right to expel sophomore Andrea Hernandez, 15, from a magnet school at Jay High School, because she refused to wear the device, which is required of all students.

The judge refused the student's request to block the district from removing her from the school while the case works its way through the federal courts.

The American Civil Liberties Union is among the rights organizations to oppose the district's use of radio frequency identification, or RFID, technology.

"We don't want to see this kind of intrusive surveillance infrastructure gain inroads into our culture," ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley said. "We should not be teaching our children to accept such an intrusive surveillance technology."

The district's RFID policy has also been criticized by conservatives, who call it an example of "big government" further monitoring individuals and eroding their liberties and privacy rights.

The Rutherford Institute, a conservative Virginia-based policy centre that represented Hernandez in her federal court case, said the ruling violated the student's constitutional right to privacy, and vowed to appeal.

The school district - the fourth largest in Texas with about 100,000 students - is not attempting to track or regulate students' activities, or spy on them, district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said. Northside is using the technology to locate students who are in the school building but not in the classroom when the morning bell rings, he said.

Texas law counts a student present for purposes of distributing state aid to education funds based on the number of pupils in the classroom at the start of the day. Northside said it was losing $1.7 million a year due to students loitering in the stairwells or chatting in the hallways.

The software works only within the walls of the school building, cannot track the movements of students, and does not allow students to be monitored by third parties, Gonzalez said.

The ruling gave Hernandez and her father, an outspoken opponent of the use of RFID technology, until the start of the spring semester later this month to decide whether to accept district policy and remain at the magnet school or return to her home campus, where RFID chips are not required.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Lance Armstrong to break silence in Oprah interview

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 07:49 PM PST

REUTERS - Lance Armstrong will break his silence about his lifetime ban from cycling and the doping charges made against him in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey next week, the television presenter announced on Tuesday.

The interview, to be broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey Network on January 17, will be the first the American cyclist has conducted since receiving his ban and being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

"Armstrong will address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating, and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his storied cycling career," the network said in a statement.

On Saturday, the New York Times reported that Armstrong, 41, had told associates and anti-doping officials he was considering an admission of using banned drugs.

The Times said Armstrong hoped to persuade anti-doping officials to allow him to resume competition in athletic events that adhere to the World Anti-Doping Code, under which the Texan is currently subject to a lifetime ban.

However, Armstrong's lawyer Tim Herman later told USA Today that there had been no talks with anti-doping bodies about any admission.

Armstrong has always vehemently denied charges of doping and has never been proven to have tested positive.

An October 10 report from the U.S. anti-doping body USADA cited Armstrong's involvement in what it characterized as the "most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen," involving anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, blood transfusions and other doping.

Less than two weeks later, Armstrong's seven Tour de France victories were nullified and he was banned from cycling for life after the International Cycling Union ratified the USADA's sanctions against him.

In November, Armstrong, a survivor of testicular cancer, stepped down as a board member of Livestrong, the cancer-support charity he founded in 1997.

Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj down play feud

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 08:36 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - New American Idol judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj shrugged off their widely publicized feud on Tuesday as a "trumped-up thing" that was merely a passionate difference of opinion over the TV talent show's contestants.

In their first big media appearance ahead of the hit show's return to Fox television on January 16, the two pop stars showered each other with praise while barely looking at each other.

A day after the airing of an ABC TV interview in which Carey said she hired extra security following threats reportedly made against her by Minaj last year, the Hero singer told reporters it was time to focus on the aspiring Idol stars.

"This is a very passionate panel. There are a lot of strong personalities," said Carey, who is reportedly being paid US$18 million to be an American Idol judge.

"The fighting is what it is. This is American Idol. It is bigger than some stupid trumped-up thing. It's about the next superstar ... The whole thing is convoluted. It's a distraction from the show and the contestants," Carey said.

Minaj, an outspoken 30-year-old rapper, called Carey one of her "favorite artists of all time."

"She has really shaped a generation of singers and to be on a panel with her where (contestants) all aspire to be Mariah Carey ... I feel excited to see them, see someone they look up to so much," Minaj said.

Carey, 42, recalled working with Minaj in 2009 on an album track, and knowing at the time that the rapper would be successful.

"Nothing to write about now!" quipped American Idol host Ryan Seacrest.


Carey, Minaj and country singer Keith Urban joined Idol as judges in September for the upcoming 12th season after the departures of Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler.

Carey, with more than 200 million album sales, and Minaj, one of the most exciting voices in rap, are expected to revive the contest, which last year lost its eight-year crown as the most-watched show on U.S. television to Saturday Night Football on rival NBC.

Video of the pair arguing was leaked online from early auditions in last fall, and Minaj was reported to have said, "If I had a gun, I would shoot that bitch."

American Idol executive producer Trish Kinane said the new panel was chosen after fans said they wanted to see judges who were current and talented in their own right.

"They (fans) also wanted honesty, and we very much took that into consideration. They (the judges) are not shrinking violets. They say what they think, and we encourage that," Kinane said.

American Idol, which has produced stars like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, faces growing competition for TV audiences from a slew of rivals like The Voice, The X Factor, and America's Got Talent. Last year, Idol attracted under 20 million viewers, down from the more than 30 million who watched on a regular basis five or six years ago.

But Mike Darnell, reality programming chief for Fox, said the new panel had "re-invigorated the show."

"Yes, there are too many (talent) shows on the air and they are all taking each other down a bit. But this is still the king of the shows and the only one that makes stars," Darnell said.

The odd couple in police dramedy Common Law

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 05:59 PM PST

Common Law may be ordinary within its genre, but the police dramedy does make for an easy and fun watch.

There is really nothing outstanding about Common Law, the latest cop-buddy show on TV. For starters, recent cop-inspired shows like Life, Life On Mars and The Shield have actually done the genre more justice than Common Law could ever hope to. Sure, Common Law has a unique key plot – the protagonists, two police detectives, have to go for couples' therapy. You see, they need to sort out a personal issue between them at the cop shop if they want to continue to work together. But at the end of the day, Common Law is still just about two very different people partnering up to do their job.

You may be compelled to say "been there, seen that." Yet, miraculously, Common Law draws you in even when you can ably guess where the story and the characters are headed. What the series has in abudance is enthusiam, courtesy of the main actors, who bring colour to their otherwise one-dimensional characters.

Travis Marks (Michael Ealy) is a politically incorrect man with very little depth as a person. When he is not working on a crime scene (sometimes even when he is at one), Travis often makes unwanted sexual advances. He pretty much has had a relationship with every women he comes in contact with – be it at work or elsewhere. In short, Travis is your typical cad.

Undeterred by this huge handicap, Ealy makes the character come off as nothing more than a man who has yet to grow up.

He plays Travis like he is sharing a joke with the audience. It also helps that Travis' encounters with ex-girlfriends are put to humorous advantage ... it's always good to see some women making this super cop squirm for the awful way he treats them.

It should be interesting to see how this character steps out of the stereotype in future episodes.

Well, it would've been interesting if not for the fact that the series is discontinued after its first season.

At the polar opposite of Ealy's Travis Marks character is Wes Mitchell (Warren Kole). Where Travis is carefree, Wes is extremely responsible. Where Travis is messy, Wes is orderly. Where Travis wears jeans and a biker jacket, Wes is all about looking professional in suits ... well, you get the idea.

With his unsmiling face and, unbending posture and personality, Kole's Wes really has nothing in common with Travis. The pattern also continues with Wes' background – he was a high-flying lawyer earning a heck a lot of money when he decided to give it all up and become a cop. And yes, he was a happily married man who is still in love with his ex-wife. Despite thebig difference in personalities, these two men turn out to be the best detectives in the precinct because they have the ying and yang element. This, as it turns out, is not always a good thing. As expected, there are a lot of heated disagreements between the pair. All these are brought up at the therapy sessions, which Travis and Wes share with other troubled partners (husbands and wives/boyfriend and girlfriend). Funny thing is, the "normal" couples seem to understand the problems the two men are experiencing, which is an interesting take on the whole cop/partners relationship.

Usually, when it is a cop show and there are two partners, we just get a man and a woman with sexual attraction between them, on top of the different personalities. But here, that formula is totally taken to a whole new level. If only Common Law had the good sense not to play so much on the stereotypes, the series may have done itself a favour and survived just a little longer because there is obvious enjoyment in watching the tough guys go to couples' therapy and then go out to save the day.

Well, whatever the reason for its early demise, for now Common Law does make Monday nights a little more fun.

> Common Law is shown every Monday at 9.05pm on AXN (Astro Ch 701) & AXN HD (Astro Ch 721).


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Al-Attiyah wins again, Sainz falls away

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 06:52 PM PST

AREQUIPA, Peru: Qatari ace Nasser al-Attiyah won his second successive stage in this year's Dakar Rally as he triumphed in the fourth stage to give himself a great chance of adding to his triumph in the 2011 edition.

The 42-year-old driver - who made it four stage wins from four for his Red Bull Buggy team - closed the gap on the overall leader, France's Mini-driving 10-time champion Stephane Peterhansel.

Guerlain Chicherit took second in the stage, 36sec behind, while Peterhansel, 47, who has won the race six times on a motorbike and four times in the car discipline, came in over a minute behind the Qatari and saw his lead clipped to 5min 16sec.

However, it was not all good news for the Red Bull team as the 2010 winner Carlos Sainz dropped out of contention with a second successive poor day, the winner of the first two stages suffering more problems with his car.

The Spaniard is now over three hours off the pace while another of the contenders American Robby Gordon, who was disqualified last year for his car not conforming to race regulations, also fell out of contention.

He attempted an ambitious manoeuvre and ended up with his car on its roof, losing more than two hours in the process.

Al-Attiyah, though, was all smiles when he emerged from his car.

"In the dunes at the start, it was very difficult to open the way, but in the end we are here without any problem at all and a good time as well so we are happy," said Al-Attiyah, who last year showed his all round sporting skills by winning Olympic bronze in the shooting competition.

"Of course, we know that tomorrow (Tuesday) the terrain is going to be less easy for the buggies and we will probably lose a bit of time, but since it should be better for us in Chile, I'm not worried, especially since we are out in front and not far behind Peterhansel."

The motorbike section saw a change of hands in terms of the overall lead as Frenchman Olivier Pain took over from compatriot and four-time winner Cyril Despres.

The stage honours went to Spanish rider Joan Barreda Bort on a Husqvarna, who recorded his second stage win of this year's race in beating Pain by 8min 23sec while another Frenchman David Casteu was third.

Pain leads Casteu in the overall standings by 2min 24sec with defending champion Despres, dropping to third 3min 09sec adrift. Pain, whose best finish in six previous editions has been two ninth places including last year, was not getting ahead of himself with regard to winning the race outright.

"I don't want to get overexcited about my place in the overall, the rally's still long and my objective is to finish in the Top 10 every day, and I hope to continue doing this well until the end," said the 31-year-old. -AFP

Shuttler Ramdan cites personal reason for leaving national set-up

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 05:33 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Blood is definitely thicker than water.

This adage was proven right when reigning national men's singles champion Misbun Ramdan Misbun quit the national team yesterday to "rejoin" his father – Datuk Misbun Sidek – under the banner of professional club Nusa Mahsuri.

Ramdan's shocking action is reminiscent of his father's own actions two years ago.

Then, just as Malaysia was ushering in the New Year, Misbun dropped a bombshell by walking out of the national team – resigning as the national coach.

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) secretary Ng Chin Chai confirmed yesterday that Ramdan, who will turn 22 on March 16, had handed in his resignation letter citing personal reasons.

Ramdan, however, had the courtesy to meet his coach Hendrawan on Tuesday to personally thank him for guiding him over the last two years.

After all, Hendrawan had played a big part in helping Ramdan achieve several breakthroughs. Ramdan won his first local title, the Pahang Open, last year and defeated two more experienced players in Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng en route to becoming the national champion for the first time.

"He texted me, asking whether I could meet up with him as he had something important to tell me," said Hendrawan.

"My suspicion were proven right when he told me that he was leaving. I asked him if he had any problems with me, the BAM's programme or anything else ... but he said no.

"He said it was time to go. I am glad that we ended it well. He thanked me for all that we've gone through together over the last two years. I appreciate his humility.

"Ramdan is one of the talented ones in the group and has the potential to be a world class player. I wish him all the best. I told him that the door is always open if he wants to come back."

Meanwhile, Chin Chai said that he would bring up Ramdan's resignation at BAM's exco meeting on Jan 15. Chin Chai, however, said that they would not stop Ramdan from playing in the Malaysian Open from Jan 16-20 as BAM had already registered his name.

"His resignation came as a surprise to us. I received a letter stating that he was quitting due to personal reasons," said Chin Chai.

In June 2011, BAM banned back-up shuttler Tan Chun Seang for two years when he left the national team to turn professional. He was not allowed to compete in any international tournaments in the Asian region. The ban was lifted during the BAM's coaching and training committee meeting in Alor Setar last month.

Will Ramdan be similarly punished?

Chin Chai said: "It's not for me to decide. Ramdan has left in a good way. Anyway, we'll notify the exco of his decision."

Aging Chong Wei must overcome young guns in Seoul

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 03:18 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: They are young – and restless. The season-opener Korean Open, which begins in Seoul today, could mark a transition in the world of badminton, with world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei the primary target.

The Malaysian is being viewed as easy prey due to his age and injuries.

The 30-year-old Chong Wei, who has just recovered from a thigh strain that led to him conceding a walkover in the Super Series Masters Finals in Shenzhen, China, last month, faces former world junior champion Wang Zhengming in today's first round.

Zhengming has never beaten Chong Wei in their last five meetings. But don't forget that Du Pengyu finally overcame Chong Wei at the seventh time of asking – in Shenzhen last month.

The other aspiring youngsters in the same half with top seed Chong Wei in Seoul are Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia; Viktor Axelsen of Denmark; and Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong.

Chong Wei will also have to worry about second seed Chen Long, who be baying for the Malaysian's blood with the likes of Du Pengyu, Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan and Kenichi Tago of Japan from the lower half.

Chen Long has beaten Chong Wei five times out of 12 meetings and has showed that he has the credential to be an able replacement for two-time Olympic Games champion Lin Dan.

National singles coach Tey Seu Bock agreed that it would be a challenging year for Chong Wei, whose goal this year is to become the world champion. The World Championships are in Guangzhou in August.

Chong Wei, who lost to Lin Dan in the final of the London Olympic Games, made eight other final appearances and won five of them. It will be a tall order to repeat that feat.

In the men's doubles, all eyes will be on Malaysia's Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong. Can they make a lasting impression this year by overcoming an array of new combinations and live up to the country's expectations?

They'll have to, don't they. Afterall, they've been given a chance keep their partnership alive until this year's World Championships.

They must prove themselves to be worthy opponents against South Koreans Lee Yong-dae-Ko Sung-hyun and Kim Ki-jung-Kim Sa-rang; China's Hong Wei-Shen Ye and Chai Biao-Zhang Nan; and Indonesia's Markis Kido-Alven Yulianto and Mohd Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan if they hope to stay together longer.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong will also have to contend with old rivals Cai Yun-Hai Feng of China and Denmark's Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen, who have not shown any signs of slowing down.

In the mixed doubles, Malaysia's hopes rest on Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying.

It, however, depends on the condition of Liu Ying, who is battling with a knee injury.


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Panasonic, in one-upmanship, unveils biggest - 56 inch - OLED TV(update)

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 06:42 PM PST

LAS VEGAS: Panasonic Corp, in a display of technological one-upmanship with its South Korean rivals, unveiled a prototype of the world's largest OLED screen on Tuesday.

The half-inch thick, 56-inch television, based on organic light-emitting diode technology, is a mere inch bigger than ones offered up by Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics a year ago in Las Vegas. The technology in theory allows for thinner screens that consume less power.

Japan's Sony Corp , which is cooperating with Panasonic in OLED technology, on Monday unwrapped its own 56-inch ultra high-definition model.

Sony on Monday also said it will widen its range of ultra high-definition LCD sets to three this year, as it stakes out its territory in next-generation TVs.

LG, which has started to take orders for its thin OLED screens, plans sales in the United States of a $12,000, 55-inch model beginning in March, making it the first company to commercialize the new technology.

Nonetheless, Kazuhiro Tsuga, the president of Panasonic, told industry executives and reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that "Many people think of Panasonic as a television manufacturing company. In fact, for nearly 100 years we have been making a vast range of products."

Tsuga said that Panasonic will focus on selling products like batteries for cars, in-flight entertainment systems, hydrogen cells, solar panels and LED lighting to businesses, while boosting its appliance unit and reducing its exposure to the hyper-competitive consumer electronics arena.

"Panasonic's future is being built on far more than a single product category," Tsuga said.

Panasonic and Japan's two other big TV makers, Sony and Sharp Corp , have been hammered in conventional LCD screens by competition from Korean rivals led by Samsung.

Japan's share of the world's flat panel TV market this year likely contracted to 31 percent from 41 percent in 2010, according to the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association.

Tsuga has also vowed to deliver the details of a revival plan by the end of March. So far, he has said that businesses that fail to achieve a 5 percent operating margin within two years will be shuttered or sold.

Sales of its weakest units may start next business year.

Panasonic is forecasting a net loss of $8.9 billion in the year to March 31. - Reuters

AFP meanwhile reported tha TV makers showing off their new wares at a huge trade fair will seek to dazzle consumers with bigger, bolder displays, and smarter technologies for consumers who want television to be a "multiscreen" experience.

Companies like Samsung, Sony, LG, Sharp and Panasonic showing at the International CES in Las Vegas this week are making a new push for so-called "ultra HD" high definition of 4K, which can provide stunning, lifelike images at a steep price.

Size is on the rise, with many consumers looking at screen measuring 60 inches (152 centimeters or bigger), especially in the United States, according to the industry.

"For US consumers, bigger is absolutely better," said John Herrington of the US division of Japan's Sharp, one of biggest sellers of jumbo TVs in the American market.

Sharp is selling TVs with displays up to 84 inches (213 cm) using its high-definition display technology called IGZO, using indium gallium zinc oxide.

South Korea's Samsung meanwhile unveiled a new television that lets two people watch two different shows at the same time.

The F9500 television is the first in the world to offer this feature, dubbed "multi-view," using screen technology called "organic light-emitting diode" or OLED.

Viewers must wear special 3D glasses, which come with personal speakers built in to deliver the audio, in stereo, directly to them.

But "ultra HD" and other new televisions remain slow to capture the market because of their prices upwards of $10,000, according to a forecast released by the Consumer Electronic Association which showed the segment capturing just five percent of the US market by 2016.

TV makers are still making aggressive moves to get consumers on new TVs, including addressing the issue of a lack of content available in the new format.

Sony, for example, announced plans to launch at 4K video service in the United States this year, and also unveiled plans for more affordable TVs at 55 and 65 inches (140 and 165 cm) in addition to its 84-inch set.

LG said it was the first to launch an OLED set and said it would be selling one in the US market, at a retail price of around $12,000 for a 55-inch model.

"OLED TV will usher in a whole new era of home entertainment," said Jay Vandenbree, senior vice president, LG Electronics USA.

"With its lifelike color, infinite contrast ratio and slim profile, LG OLED delivers an outstanding viewing experience; it's undoubtedly a premium product worthy of its premium price."

Samsung meanwhile on Tuesday unveiled what it called the world's first curved OLED TV, saying it offered "a more immersive viewing experience."

Chinese makers are also getting into the high end with sleek new TVs coming from makers such as Haier and TCL, which unveiled a new smart TV which can use the Google 3.0 platform and which will be sold in the United States later this year.

Yet analysts say that consumers are focused on other features of new TVs, including the ability to stream content from their mobile devices to the big screen or vice-versa.

"We are living in an app-dominated world, whether it's on your smartphone, tablet or television," said Kevin Tillmann, senior research analyst at CEA.

"Consumers want access to their apps at all times and they will use whatever device, TVs included, that offer the best and most convenient user experience."

CEA found more than one in five US adults own a smart app-enabled HDTV and 90 percent use the apps available on their displays in some capacity.

"To me, content synchronization is where the magic is. People use an average of five or six devices, and now you can seamlessly have that across these," said Danielle Levitas, consumer tech analyst at IDC.

Levitas said a new initiative being pushed by cable firms is known as "TV everywhere," which enables consumers to take their subscriptions to other devices or even on the road.

"Because of how content is licensed a lot of those experiences are limited to the home," she said.

"People want to get that content on a tablet in a remote location, or in a hotel room."

James McQuivey of Forrester said consumers "are focused on tablets" and prepared for a major new TV purchase. And most already have a capable HD set, and would see only marginal improvement with ultra HD.

"Consumers don't need that resolution. There is no way you can discern the difference unless you have a screen the size of a wall," he told AFP.

"And there is no content available in 4K. So anyone who buys a 4K televison is showing they have money to burn." - AFP

Whale of a job change for JPMorgan's Staley

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 06:34 PM PST

NEW YORK: James "Jes" Staley is leaving his job as chairman of the investment banking unit of JPMorgan Chase & Co to join a hedge fund that profited from the bank's $6.2 billion (3.8 billion pounds) "London Whale" loss.

The 56-year-old Staley, who was moved aside in July from his position as chief executive for investment banking at JPMorgan, is becoming a partner at BlueMountain Capital Management, the hedge fund company said on Tuesday.

BlueMountain was among a group of hedge funds that profited by betting against JPMorgan in credit derivatives transactions known as the "London Whale" trades, which cost the bank billions of dollars.

Later, BlueMountain worked for JPMorgan to help the bank close the positions, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The hedge fund manages more than $12 billion and was founded by JPMorgan alums.

Staley, a 34-year veteran of JPMorgan, was sidelined in a management reshuffle in July that foreshadowed his departure. He had long been seen as a possible successor to JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, but both men are the same age, and Dimon seems to be focusing on promoting younger executives now.

At BlueMountain, Staley will focus on cultivating relationships with clients and developing new strategies, the firm said, echoing the kind of talk about financial innovation that used to be routine at investment banks.

Many bankers complain that regulations are making it harder to innovate. The new rules were put in place after a financial crisis that was fuelled in large part by abuses of innovations such as securitization.

Staley will buy a stake in BlueMountain and the money will be used on new technology and staff, the firm said. The amount of his investment was not disclosed.

Staley spent nearly 22 of his 34 JPMorgan years at its investment bank. He was a founding member of its equities business in the early 1980s. He later worked as CEO of its asset management unit, which includes its private bank.

As Dimon reorganized business units, he named two younger executives to be co-CEOs of commercial and investment banking and made Staley chairman of the unit and head of a committee to consider the future of global banking.

Staley, appearing on CNBC on Tuesday, said of no longer being in contention for Dimon's job, "There is a generational issue. The bank has to get ready for that. The transition that Jamie and I have been able to execute from JPMorgan to a firm like BlueMountain, I feel very proud of."

Staley said he expects changes in the financial system will shift more trading, particularly of credit instruments, from banks to firms like BlueMountain.

Staley will become BlueMountain's ninth managing partner. He declined twice on CNBC to discuss the trade other than to make the point that JPMorgan had trusted BlueMountain enough to use it to resolve the position.

The Whale trades were made through JPMorgan's chief investment office in London, which was a separate business unit from the investment bank. One of the key engineers of the trade was Bruno Iksil, who took big enough positions to earn the nickname "the London Whale."

At a conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, CEO Dimon complained about the way some JPMorgan employees dealt with the crisis.

"We have some people who acted terribly and we had some leaders who acted like children. It was unbelievable," Dimon said.

Andrew Feldstein, the CEO of BlueMountain, worked for JPMorgan for more than a decade before starting the hedge fund in 2003. His jobs at JPMorgan included heading structured credit and the global credit portfolio.

Dimon, in a memo to senior managers after the announcement of Staley's departure, said, "BlueMountain is an important client of ours, and we look forward to working with Jes in the future." - Reuters

Nasdaq's Greifeld: Debt ceiling no place for stand on spending

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 06:31 PM PST

NEW YORK: The U.S. borrowing limit should not be used as leverage by members of Congress to force the Obama administration to cut spending as there will be other opportunities to make a stand, said Robert Greifeld, chief executive of Nasdaq OMX Group.

The debt ceiling, which could be hit as early as mid-February, has been dragged into a high-stakes fiscal battle snarling Washington, with Republicans refusing to raise it unless Democrats agree to deep spending cuts to tame the ballooning national debt. Neither side is giving much ground.

"The full faith and credit of the U.S. government is an important concept that we should not violate, because these are debts that have been incurred and are coming due, so it is just not right," Greifeld said in an interview on Tuesday.

A failure by Washington to reach a deal to increase the $16.4 trillion legal limit on the nation's debt raises the threat of a U.S. default, another credit downgrade and a panic in the financial markets.

Greifeld is one of more than 100 CEOs who are part of a group called "Campaign to Fix the Debt." The group has been pushing Congress to work together to create a long-term plan to get the federal deficit under control through both increased taxes and spending cuts.


Fix the Debt mounted a media blitz in the two months leading up to the so-called fiscal cliff - a package of automatic tax increases and indiscriminate spending cuts scheduled to start at the beginning of the year that threatened to push the nation back into recession, until averted by last-minute legislation.

During the media campaign, the business leaders lined up to say it was okay to raise taxes on the wealthy, but that spending cuts in programs such as Medicare and Social Security were needed as well to put the United States on a more sound fiscal footing.

But the 11th-hour bill, which included tax hikes on household incomes over $450,000, pushed forward the decision on spending cuts, known as the "sequester," by two months, setting up another, possibly more damaging scenario.

In late February-early March, the delay in the sequester ends, the federal government hits its borrowing limit, and authorization for the federal budget runs out.

Erskine Bowles, a former chief of staff to Bill Clinton who along with former Republican senator Alan Simpson founded Fix the Debt, called it "a triple fiscal fiasco."

"If you think you saw uncertainty and concern when we were facing the fiscal cliff, man, you haven't seen anything yet," Bowles told reporters at a press conference at Nasdaq's MarketSite in New York.


Raising the debt ceiling periodically has not traditionally been a major issue, as government must account for the deficits resulting from its tax and spending decisions.

But last August was an exception. Congress attempted to make spending cuts a condition of raising the debt ceiling, causing volatility in the markets as the United States was pushed to the brink of default and its credit rating was cut.

Greifeld said he and other CEOs were "severely disappointed" that meaningful spending cuts were not addressed in the fiscal cliff negotiations, but that they are hopeful a more balanced approach will be taken in the near future. There will also be other opportunities to force the issue.

"The sequester - we kind of stand out there as the place to make a stand. The debt ceiling is not the place to do it," he said. - Reuters


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Ministry asks Papa to submit cost of recruiting Indonesian maids

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 06:58 AM PST

COCHIN (India): The Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) has been asked to submit a breakdown of its expenditure in the recruitment of Indonesian maids for approval by the government.

Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said after the proposal was received by the ministry, Malaysia would request both Papa and their Indonesian counterparts to forward their proposals to their respective governments.

"After this, a joint task force could be set up to discuss the matter," he told Malaysian journalists on the sidelines of the 11th "Pravasi Bharatiya Divas" conference of people of Indian origin Tuesday.

He said that any official decision on the matter would only be made following the discussions, which should be held as soon as possible.

Dr Subramaniam also welcomed Papa's recent proposal to increase the cost for a Malaysian to hire an Indonesian domestic worker from RM6,700 instead of RM4,511.

"It is a fair proposal as Papa had earlier suggested a cost rate of nearly RM12,000. Now it has brought it down by nearly half of the amount."

The government, he said, would work with its Indonesian counterpart to find an amicable solution to ensure that the proposed costs can be reduced further.

Dr Subramaniam suggested that the removal of third parties or middlemen from the recruitment process would be crucial in lowering costs.

"Currently, there is a proposal from the Indonesian government on the matter but it requires further discussion as well as certain procedures that have to be initiated in both countries for its implementation to take place on a long term basis," he said.

The ministry would review Papa's proposal, and if it gets the Indonesian government's approval, it would approve it, he said. - Bernama

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Charred body of decapitated person found in Subang Bestari

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 06:55 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: The charred body of a decapitated person, with one leg cut off, was found at a waste burning site in a housing area in Laman Permai, Subang Bestari here Tuesday.

Sungai Buloh police chief Supt Junaidi Bujang said the head and the leg were found near the body.

"We believe that the victim was killed and burnt at the scene about three days ago," he told reporters.

Initial investigation also found animal bite marks on the leg he said.

No identification document was found.

Junaidi said the case was being investigated under Section 302 of the Penal Code.

Anyone with information or a missing relative is requested to contact the nearest police station. -Bernama

Police cripple three attempts to smuggle drugs worth RM5mil

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 04:09 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Police crippled three attempts by an international drug trafficking syndicate to smuggle 35.17kg of syabu worth RM5mil through the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Sepang over the past two weeks.

Bukit Aman Narcotics director Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim said five foreigners, aged between 25 and 41, and believed to be drug mules were detained while trying to smuggle the drugs into the country.

"They were detained in three separate incidents with the first being on Dec 26 when three suspects from India were detained with 8.4kg of syabu.

"The second was on Dec 30 when a Thai woman was detained with 1.8kg cocaine.

"On Monday another suspect from India was detained with a trolley bag that contained 14 boxes labeled as food products but turned out to be 32 plastic packets of syabu weighing 24.97kg," he told reporters here Tuesday.

He said the drugs that the five suspects had tried to smuggle in was meant for distribution in the country.

Noor Rashid said all five would be investigated under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952. - Bernama


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Gwyneth Paltrow to release second cookbook in April

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 01:25 AM PST

AFTER writing a cookbook based on her childhood experiences cooking with her filmmaker dad Bruce – an endeavour that received mixed reviews last year – American actress Gwyneth Paltrow is set to release a follow-up cookery book based on a restrictive "elimination diet", which she claims has helped her shed pounds and feel more energetic.

To be released on April 2, It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good And Feel Great is a collection of 185 "restorative" dishes that also come with a slew of food restrictions: recipes are sugar-free, non-dairy, vegetarian, wheat-free and non-alcoholic.

Not unlike a detox plan, the book is based on an "elimination diet" prescribed by her doctor when she was feeling fatigued and faint, anaemic, vitamin D-deficient and stressed", reads the official publisher's book description.

"After changing her diet, Paltrow healed totally, felt more energetic and looked great."

The pitch? Eat like Paltrow and readers will likewise shed the pounds and find more energy.

Recipes include dishes like Huevos Rancheros, Hummus Tartine with Scallion-Mint Pesto, Salmon Burgers with Pickled Ginger, Power Brownies and Banana "Ice Cream".

Meanwhile, though the book has yet to be published, popular food blog – which doled out a merciless review of My Father's Daughter – has shown no signs of backing down from its anti-Paltrow perch and panned her sophomore effort already, based on her debut effort last year: "Will the followup book continue down this path of faux-populism and rich person dietary condemnation? You betcha."

Eater called My Father's Daughter a "vanity project from a rich person completely unafraid to casually boast about her life of privilege".

Publisher's Weekly, however, called it "a warm and inviting collection" filled with "charming personal anecdotes".

It's All Good is to be published as both an ebook and hardcover by Hachette Book Group. – AFP Relaxnews


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Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone to announce Oscar nominees

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 01:05 AM PST

Oscars organizers have indicated that 2013 master of ceremonies Seth MacFarlane (pic) will join actress Emma Stone for the news conference to announce this year's nominees on Thursday, January 10.

MacFarlane's presence when the nominations are announced will put the Family Guy creator in the spotlight.

The Academy pointed out that no master of ceremonies has attended the event since Charlton Heston in 1972.

The author-producer and actor with a background in animation earned his stripes at Hanna-Barbera before creating the animated sitcoms Family Guy and American Dad.

Last year he hit success with his first film, Ted, also voicing the irreverent teddy bear in the comedy that grossed US$500M worldwide.

MacFarlane said via his Twitter account (@SethMacFarlane): "I'll be announcing the Oscar nominees on Jan. 10 at 5 am with Emma Stone. We'll also be revealing the name of Kanye & Kim's baby (Zeus)," he joked, referring to the pregnancy that has had the media in a frenzy.


Nail-biting moments in Korean disaster movie The Tower

Posted: 07 Jan 2013 11:15 PM PST

A stellar cast struggles to escape fiery death in the South Korean disaster movie The Tower.

IF the trailer is anything to go by, South Korea's latest disaster movie The Tower is loaded with special effects and heart-stopping rescues – and it will probably have viewers staying away from skyscrapers for some time.

Director Kim Ji Hoon has pulled out all the stops where CGI effects are concerned to depict the catastrophic consequences of a fire that rages through the posh 108-storey Tower Sky highrise.

A Christmas Eve party for VIPs goes horribly wrong when one of the helicopters circling the tower – sprinkling snow to give the impression that it's snowing outside – crashes into it.

Fire breaks out and the party soon turns into a desperate rush to survive and escape.

Among the film's characters is single father Dae Ho (Kim Sang Kyung), the facilities manager at the exclusive residential complex. Despite having to work late, he promises his young daughter Ha Na the best Christmas ever.

Yoon Hee (Son Ye Jin), with whom Dae Ho is secretly infatuated, offers to watch Ha Na while he attends to an emergency and the girls quickly forge a bond. Then, there is Young Kee (Sul Kyung Gu), a veteran fire captain who has taken the evening off to spend Christmas Eve with his wife for the first time.

Other personalities include a church elder whose lottery winnings bought him a home in Tower Sky; the bickering cooks in the building's massive restaurant; an elderly couple enjoying their golden years; a cleaning lady working extra shifts to pay for her son's tuition; a pregnant woman looking forward to the arrival of her baby; the ambitious owner of the skyscraper who is banking on its success; and the rookie firefighter called to the scene on his first day.

Brought together by disaster, their individual stories are folded into a larger drama as they struggle to escape the inferno. A powerful message about humanity, family and love is told through their desperate struggles which will resonate in the hearts of viewers.

With chaos, panic and death all around, the fictional Tower Sky becomes the backdrop for spectacular special effects and stunts that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

Collapsing floors and bursting water tanks amid a roaring inferno promise to deliver a white-knuckle cinematic experience.

Bringing the human drama to life is a stellar cast including leads Son Ye Jin (April Snow, Spellbound), Sul Kyung Gu (the Public Enemy movies) and Kim Sang Kyung (Memories Of Murder, May 18 and the TV series The Great King Sejong). The supporting performers include Kim Im Kwon, Lee Han Wie, Kim Sung Oh and Park Chul Min.

"This is a disaster movie, but I want to portray people's desperate hope to survive," director Kim said in a press statement.

The idea for the film came to him from an experience in his student days, when he visited Seoul for the first time. He was struck by the 264m skyscraper 63 Building and wondered what it would feel like to be trapped in there.

In addition to that, the film was also influenced by the classic Steve McQueen-Paul Newman 1974 disaster movie The Towering Inferno.

> The Tower opens in Malaysian cinemas on Jan 8.

Gerard Depardieu says he's not leaving France for tax reasons

Posted: 07 Jan 2013 08:24 PM PST

PARIS (Reuters) - Film star Gerard Depardieu denied that he was leaving his homeland for tax reasons on Monday, saying that, although he now had a Russian passport, he was still very much French.

In an interview with sports channel L'Equipe 21 - his first since a row broke out in December over his decision to buy a house over the border in Belgium - Depardieu said that if he had wanted to leave to avoid tax hikes he would have gone earlier.

"I have a Russian passport, but I remain French and I will probably have dual Belgian nationality. But if I'd wanted to escape the taxman, as the French press say, I would have done it a long time ago," he said.

Depardieu was speaking in Zurich on the sidelines of a football awards ceremony after receiving a new Russian passport on Sunday from President Vladimir Putin.

The 63-year-old star of Cyrano de Bergerac and Green Card has been accused by French government leaders of trying to dodge a proposed new tax rate for millionaires.

But in a letter last month to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who labelled the actor "pathetic", Depardieu said he was leaving because success was now being punished in France.

Hollande's original proposal to introduce a 75 percent rate on income over 1 million euros was struck down by France's Constitutional Court.

While he has said he will press ahead with a tax on the wealthy, it remains unclear whether the redrafted text will be as severe on top earners.


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Metro Watch

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 05:05 AM PST


The All Women's Action Society (Awam) will be hosting a Convention of Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) and Leadership Workshop on Jan 21 and 22 at the KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (Meeting Room 2), No 1, Jalan Maharajalela, Kuala Lumpur. It will be from 9am to 5pm (Jan 21) and 9am to 2pm (Jan 22). The workshop is aimed at university students who are keen to learn the principles of Cedaw and to cultivate leadership values. Registration closes on Jan 16. For registration and details, call 03-7877 4221 or email


Klinik Damai Utama and Rukun Tetangga Damai Utama will be organising a free medical check-up for the community at Bandar Kinrara area on Jan 12 at the clinic, 10, Jalan Damai Utama 2, Taman Damai Utama, Puchong from 9.30am to 4pm. The check-up includes breast examination, glucose-BMI-BP check, skin and weight management consultation.


An audition for the Upin and Ipin musical, that is set to be staged in April, will take place on Jan 19 at Istana Budaya between 8.30am and 12.30pm. Only those aged between six and 18 years with the ability to act, sing and dance are eligible. For details, call 012-200 4249 or visit, email


Satu Hati Toastmasters Club welcomes the public aged 18 and above who wish to enhance their communication and leadership skills by joining the meeting on Jan 10 between 7pm and 9.30pm at Level 4, Bilik Perak 1, Manara PGRM, Jalan Pudu Ulu, Cheras. For details, call 016-292 1923 (Lenny) / 013-304 6481 (Mandy) or email


The cast of Auspiciously Beautiful Year of 2013 will make an appearance at the concourse level of Sungai Wang Plaza from 3.30pm onwards on Jan 12. For details, call 03-2148 6109 or visit /


The National Blood Bank will be having blood donation drives today at Selayang Hospital (9.30am to 4.30pm), Hospital Sungai Buloh (9am to 3pm), Kolej Universiti Sains Islam Antarabangsa (9am to 4pm), Wisma DRB Hicom (9am to 4.30pm) and Hospital Kajang (10am to 4pm). For details, visit


Besraya will start roadworks to move the U-turn along Jalan Sungai Besi from tomorrow until April 1. Motorists are advised to follow the safety signboards and speed limit. For details, call 017-622 1621 (Ti-Indawati)/019-265 2143 (Hasziala).


Seremban Rest and Service Area on the North-South Expressway will be closed between 8.30am and 5.30pm from tomorrow until Jan 10, for maintenance work. For details, call 1-800-88-0000.

70 seniors from old folk’s home get a taste of CNY delicacy

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 04:50 AM PST

Just last month, 84-year-old Chang Sek Kong, a labourer at Chin Woo Stadium, Kuala Lumpur was living on the streets.

Now he has a roof over his head at The Father's Home in Damansara Perdana.

His caretakers say that his mind wanders at times and his hearing is not that good; but the cheerful senior citizen flashed a smile and greeted the press enthusiastically.

"I used to live at the junction of Jalan Sultan. Every year during the festival, I will celebrate it with friends," he said at the "A Heart-warming Solstice" luncheon organised by Dragon-i.

They were also served Marble Glutinous Rice Balls.

Fellow resident Stephanie Ng, 68, enjoys the ambience at the restaurant and celebrating the occasion with others from the home.

"For some, celebrating the Winter Solstice Festival is more important than Chinese New Year.

"Tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) is a must-have for the festival," she said.

They were among the 70 elderly residents from The Father's Home invited by the Dragon-i group to enjoy the Prosperity Abalone Treasure Pot.

From now till Feb 28, customers can enjoy the Prosperity Abalone Treasure Pot (dine-in or take away).

It is contained in a high quality steel pot and is convenient to take away and easily reheated before serving.

The pot, which can be enjoyed by six to eight people, weighs approximately 4kg and is cooked with 18 ingredients such as braised premium Chilean abalone, sea cucumber, Japanese dried scallops, Japanese dried oysters, premium mushrooms, Pantai Remis fresh sea prawns in a superior pork bone stock.

Other ingredients are roast chicken, braised pork belly, golden money bags, pork balls, dried bean curd skin, yam, black moss, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, deep-fried bean curd skin and radish.

The pot was co-designed by Dragon-i's chefs who hail from Shanghai and Hong Kong.

It will also be available for take- away service before 3pm on Chinese New Year's Eve (Feb 9).

For Hong Leong credit and debit card holders, it will be available at RM338++. For details, call the Dragon-i hotline at 03-7722 1888.


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