Jumaat, 18 Januari 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Myanmar aims to improve lives, modernise with new reforms

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 07:00 PM PST

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (Reuters) - Myanmar's government will unveil a slew of new reforms to donor countries and international organisations this weekend, aiming to consolidate achievements since the end of military rule in 2011 but also quickly improve the lives of its citizens.

A wide-ranging "Framework for Economic and Social Reforms" to be presented in the capital, Naypyitaw, sets out priorities until 2015 and broader initiatives "that will allow Myanmar to become a modern, developed and democratic nation by 2030".

A man works at a brick kiln near Hlawga village, 35 km (22 miles) north of Yangon, January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

A man works at a brick kiln near Hlawga village, 35 km (22 miles) north of Yangon, January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

The document seen by Reuters, which addresses such issues as liberalisation of trade and investment, health and education, transparency and infrastructure, admits Myanmar "is way behind neighbouring countries".

President Thein Sein, himself a former junta general, has transformed the country since taking office in March 2011 at the head of a quasi-civilian government.

He has introduced sweeping economic reforms, including a more market-oriented exchange rate, released hundreds of political prisoners, and agreed ceasefires with most of the ethnic rebel groups that have fought for decades for autonomy.

Late on Friday he issued a ceasefire order in Kachin state, where tens of thousands of people have been displaced in 20 months of fighting, although rebel leaders would not immediately commit to the truce, suspicious of the government's motives.

The army's continued attacks in the state had raised doubts about his control over the military and even led some to question his sincerity about the reform process in general.


Western governments have dropped or eased sanctions imposed on the former junta in recognition of Thein Sein's reforms, and international firms are keen to move into a country with vast resources, located between China and India and part of a vibrant Southeast Asia heading for closer economic union in 2015.

Improving the environment for foreign investment is a central aim of the latest proposals.

The unification of exchange rates, already undertaken by the government, will be bolstered by further liberalisation efforts, such as removing all exchange and non-tariff restrictions on imports "as a matter of urgency".

The government says it will give priority to a new central bank law that will grant it operational autonomy.

A new foreign investment law was passed at the end of 2012 but left many questions open about how it would work.

"Feedback from the business community suggests that it is particularly important that the law and procedures are specific as to which sectors are restricted with respect to foreign investment and does not allow for discretion with respect to implementation," the reform document said.

Further efforts at transparency will be made in the natural resources sector. The government will disclose the revenue it gets from oil, gas and mining assets and companies must publish what they pay to the state.

In the past the sector has been opaque and companies paid little attention to how they affected local communities.

The most recent controversy involved a Chinese-backed copper mine at Monywa in the northwest.

Dozens of people protesting at the mine's eviction of villagers were injured in a police raid on their camp in November last year. Thein Sein has set up a commission to investigate the problem, headed by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In the telecoms sector, the government will aim for an 80 percent penetration rate for mobile phones by 2015. The rate in 2011 was less than 3 percent.

The tourism industry, which requires "immediate adjustments", will receive a boost from looser visa rules, modelled on those of successful holiday destinations such as Thailand.

Fiscal proposals include raising the threshold for income tax and introducing a value-added tax, and the government will look at how it can make the national budget more transparent.

As one of the "quick wins" to help ordinary people, the document says it will improve public transport in the commercial capital, Yangon, perhaps by lifting restrictions on motorcycles, and banks will be able to start offering mortgage financing.

(Additional reporting by Aung Hla Tun in Yangon; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Alan Raybould and Daniel Magnowski)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Foreigners still trapped in Sahara hostage crisis

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 04:56 PM PST

ALGIERS/IN AMENAS, Algeria (Reuters) - More than 20 foreigners were captive or missing inside a desert gas plant on Saturday, nearly two days after the Algerian army launched an assault to free them that saw many hostages killed.

Algerian men who survived from the gas facility in Algeria where Islamist militants were holding hostages, are seen leaving a hospital in In Amenas, January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

Algerian men who survived from the gas facility in Algeria where Islamist militants were holding hostages, are seen leaving a hospital in In Amenas, January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

The standoff between the Algerian army and al Qaeda-linked gunmen - one of the biggest international hostage crises in decades - entered its fourth day, having thrust Saharan militancy to the top of the global agenda.

The number and fate of victims has yet to be confirmed, with the Algerian government keeping officials from Western countries far from the site where their countrymen were in peril.

Reports put the number of hostages killed at between 12 to 30, with possibly dozens of foreigners still unaccounted for - among them Norwegians, Japanese, Britons, Americans and others.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed on Friday the death of one American, Frederick Buttaccio, in the hostage situation, but gave no further details.

Two Japanese, two Britons and a French national were among the seven foreigners confirmed dead in the army's storming, the Algerian security source told Reuters. One British citizen was killed when the gunmen seized the hostages on Wednesday.

A U.S. official said on Friday that a U.S. Medevac flight carrying wounded of multiple nationalities had left Algeria.

By nightfall on Friday, the Algerian military was holding the vast residential barracks at the In Amenas gas processing plant, while gunmen were holed up in the industrial plant itself with an undisclosed number of hostages.

Scores of Westerners and hundreds of Algerian workers were inside the heavily fortified compound when it was seized before dawn on Wednesday by Islamist fighters who said they wanted a halt to a French military operation in neighbouring Mali.

Hundreds escaped on Thursday when the army launched an operation, but many hostages were killed in the assault. Algerian forces destroyed four trucks holding hostages, according to the family of a Northern Irish engineer who escaped from a fifth truck and survived.

Leaders of Britain, Japan and other countries have expressed frustration that the assault was ordered without consultation and officials have grumbled at the lack of information. Many countries also withheld details about their missing citizens to avoid releasing information that might aid the captors.

An Algerian security source said 30 hostages, including at least seven Westerners, had been killed during Thursday's assault, along with at least 18 of their captors. Eight of the dead hostages were Algerian, with the nationalities of the rest of the dead still unclear, he said.

Algeria's state news agency APS put the total number of dead hostages at 12, including both foreigners and locals.

The base was home to foreign workers from Britain's BP, Norway's Statoil and Japanese engineering firm JGC Corp and others.

Norway says eight Norwegians are still missing. JGC said it was missing 10 staff. Britain and the United States have said they have citizens unaccounted for but have not said how many.

The Algerian security source said 100 foreigners had been freed but 32 were still unaccounted for.

"We must be prepared for bad news this weekend but we still have hope," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said.

The attack has plunged international capitals into crisis mode and is a serious escalation of unrest in north-western Africa, where French forces have been in Mali since last week fighting an Islamist takeover of Timbuktu and other towns.

"We are still dealing with a fluid and dangerous situation where a part of the terrorist threat has been eliminated in one part of the site, but there still remains a threat in another part," British Prime Minister David Cameron told his parliament.

"(The army) is still trying to achieve a รข€˜peaceful outcome' before neutralising the terrorist group that is holed up in the (facility) and freeing a group of hostages that is still being held," Algeria's state news agency said on Friday, quoting a security source.


Algerian commanders said they moved in on Thursday about 30 hours after the siege began, because the gunmen had demanded to be allowed to take their captives abroad.

A French hostage employed by a French catering company said he had hidden in his room for 40 hours under the bed before he was rescued by Algerian troops, relying on Algerian employees to smuggle him food with a password.

"I put boards up pretty much all round," Alexandre Berceaux told Europe 1 radio. "I didn't know how long I was going to stay there ... I was afraid. I could see myself already ending up in a pine box."

The captors said their attack was a response to the French military offensive in neighbouring Mali. However, some U.S. and European officials say the elaborate raid probably required too much planning to have been organised from scratch in the single week since France first launched its strikes.

Paris says the incident proves its decision to fight Islamists in neighbouring Mali was necessary.

Security in the half-dozen countries around the Sahara desert has long been a preoccupation of the West. Smugglers and militants have earned millions in ransom from kidnappings.

The most powerful Islamist groups operating in the Sahara were severely weakened by Algeria's secularist military in a civil war in the 1990s. But in the past two years the regional wing of Al Qaeda gained fighters and arms as a result of the civil war in Libya, when arsenals were looted from Muammar Gaddafi's army.

Al Qaeda-linked fighters, many with roots in Algeria and Libya, took control of northern Mali last year, prompting the French intervention in that poor African former colony.

The apparent ease with which the fighters swooped in from the dunes to take control of an important energy facility, which produces some 10 percent of the natural gas on which Algeria depends for its export income, has raised questions over the value of outwardly tough Algerian security measures.

Algerian officials said the attackers may have had inside help from among the hundreds of Algerians employed at the site.

U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said those responsible would be hunted down: "Terrorists should be on notice that they will find no sanctuary, no refuge, not in Algeria, not in North Africa, not anywhere. ... Those who would wantonly attack our country and our people will have no place to hide."

(Additional reporting by Ali Abdelatti in Cairo, Eamonn Mallie in Belfast, Gwladys Fouche in Oslo, Mohammed Abbas in London, Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries in Dublin, Andrew Quinn and David Alexander in Washington; Writing by Philippa Fletcher and Peter Graff; Editing by Andrew Roche, Tom Pfeiffer and Jackie Frank)

Related Stories:
Cameron says Britons still at risk in Algeria

Escaped Algerian hostage witnessed dead French boss
Libya steps up security at oil fields after Algeria attack
Algeria crisis triggers Libya, Egypt oil security review
Frenchman killed in Algerian operation on gas plant - minister
Survivors describe horrors of Algeria desert siege

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Insight - Algerians suspect inside help in hostage raid

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 03:15 PM PST

LONDON/ALGIERS (Reuters) - The In Amenas gas plant felt impregnable to many who worked there - walled in, hundreds of miles from anywhere and with the Algerian army constantly patrolling its desert approaches.

The Amenas gas field in Algeria is seen in this September 10, 2012 handout satellite image courtesy of Google Earth. REUTERS/Google Earth/GeoEye/Handout

The Amenas gas field in Algeria is seen in this September 10, 2012 handout satellite image courtesy of Google Earth. REUTERS/Google Earth/GeoEye/Handout

That was a mirage. Libya, an ex-police state turned arms bazaar and now open for jihad, lies just 50 empty miles away. And in any case, the enemy was probably already inside the gates.

At least some of up to 70 Islamist guerrillas who stormed in before dawn on Wednesday launched their operation hours earlier, barrelling over smugglers tracks across the Libyan border just after midnight, an Algerian security official told Reuters, citing evidence from mobile phones traced to the militants.

The ease with which they entered the fortified housing compound and nearby natural gas plant also left Algerians in little doubt the gunmen had allies among people at the site.

"They had local cooperation, I'm sure, maybe from drivers or security guards, who helped the terrorists get into the base," said Anis Rahmani, editor of Algeria's Ennahar newspaper and a writer on security issues who said he was briefed by officials.

Officials in this secretive country said they had discovered cases before when Islamist rebels succeeded in having fellow militants employed by international energy companies. One told Reuters it was possible insiders had cooperated at In Amenas.

Locally hired workers who escaped told Reuters of seeing the gunmen moving around the sprawling facility with confidence, apparently familiar with its layout and well prepared.

The militants said they launched the raid to halt French military intervention in neighbouring Mali, which began a week ago, however the link is not yet clear. Several European and U.S. officials said the assault seems too elaborate to have been planned in such a short time.

It is possible the attack would have happened anyway, or that the French military operation provided a trigger to carry out an attack based on preparations done earlier.

Much may never become clear. The raid was carried out in a region closed to outsiders within a country whose government is unused to sharing sensitive information with the public.

First word of trouble came crackling over a walkie-talkie to the communications room at In Amenas, where a 27-year-old radio operator called Azedine logged a contact with a bus driver who, at 5:45 a.m. (0445 GMT), left to take some foreigners to the airstrip at the town of In Amenas, some 50 km (30 miles) away.

"Moments after the bus left, I heard shooting, a lot of shooting, and then nothing," Azedine told Reuters on Friday.

Two people, one British, one Algerian were killed on two buses heading for the airport. It is not clear whether that incident was part of the plan that secured the militants access to the compound. Almost immediately after the bus skirmish, they were inside, in at least three vehicles.

People who have worked at the site, which sits with its back to cliffs in the dunes, say there was normally an overnight curfew on movement in the area, leaving it unclear how the gunmen were able to get so close before being challenged. Their initial approach may have been well off the main roads.

Freed hostages spoke of an alarm being raised, of frightened people staying in their offices or accommodation.

Azedine saw a gunman put on the ID badge of a French supervisor who had been shot dead.

Rapidly the area was surrounded by heavily armed Algerian troops, with tanks, armoured vehicles and helicopter gunships from a nearby military base. The government in Algiers vowed never to negotiate.


People familiar with the site, operated by Britain's BP and Statoil of Norway along with Algeria's state energy company, said a barracks housing several hundred soldiers lies along the three km (two miles) of road separating the many buildings of the accommodation compound from the industrial plant.

A former senior Algerian government official said guards appeared to have been caught napping: "They have all kinds of equipment, detailed surveillance, cameras," he said. "They were caught maybe at the right time, at five in the morning."

But he also acknowledged the militants may have had help among the local workforce: "Out of 700 Algerians, I am sure they will find a couple who will cooperate. It always happens."

Militant leaders like Taher Ben Cheneb, said by officials to have led the operation and to have been killed on Thursday, have stoked resentment among southerners at the way foreigners and northerners dominate the better paid jobs in the oil fields.

Ben Cheneb, described as a high school maths teacher in his 50s, led the Movement of the Islamic Youth in the South. Security expert Rahmani said he joined forces for this operation with followers of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a veteran of Afghan wars and a leading figure in Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) who recently formed a new group named Mulathameen.

The two men had cooperated before, Rahmani said, notably in damaging an airliner in 2007 at Djanet, further to the south.

While Ben Cheneb's group appeared to have moved on In Amenas from a base inside Algeria, Rahmani said, Belmokhtar's men, led by Abu El Bara, appeared to have come in from Libya.

Noting the one-eyed Belmokhtar's reputation as a cigarette smuggler as well as a holy warrior - locals call him the "Mister Marlboro" - he added: "They use the same backroads as the smugglers. You need a perfect knowledge of the Sahara to do it.

"They can use the same wells as the smugglers, the same fuel dumps hidden in the desert."

More than a decade after Algeria's civil war killed some 200,000 people, Islamist fighters roam the sandy wastes of Africa's biggest country, mixing smuggling and kidnapping for ransom with opposition to the political establishment that has ruled in Algiers since French colonists left half a century ago.

These groups have been energised by the return of heavily armed ethnic Tuaregs and others from Libya, where they fought as mercenaries for Muammar Gaddafi until his overthrow in 2011. The new Libyan authorities are struggling to control their own deep south and it provides a launch pad for raids across the frontier.

Images from Libya's civil war, of men in desert robes powering across the dunes in pick-up trucks mounted with heavy weapons ranging from machineguns to missile-launchers, have been transferred, along with arms and men, to conflict in the Sahara.

Mali's army melted away last year, ceding control of northern towns like Timbuktu as fighters came back from Libya.


While security forces seek to control their frontiers, the tracts of sand are vast, borders among the half dozen countries around the desert are unmarked, and the big money that can be made from illicit trade or kidnapping tourists and Western engineers can be used to buy favours from ill-paid officials.

Al Qaeda says it is fighting for a Muslim caliphate that transcends artificial borders in the Maghreb set by colonial powers.

Once inside the facility, militants, including bearded, ragged fighters and others in more urban dress, herded groups of Westerners together. Hundreds of Algerians were guarded more loosely. One Algerian worker told Reuters the gunmen said they were only interested in killing "Christians and infidels".

Several former hostages described the attackers, from their accents, as appearing to be Libyan or Egyptian as well as Algerian. Officials said many of 18 dead gunmen were foreign.

Algeria told Western governments, which voiced dismay at the storming of the facility on Thursday, that troops moved in only because guerrillas were trying to leave with hostages, possibly hoping to reach the Malian border.

The captors loaded hostages into a convoy. Special forces backed by helicopters moved in around noon, some 30 hours after the plant was seized.

In what appears to have been the deadliest part of the siege, as described by the family of Irish survivor Stephen McFaul, government forces bombed the convoy, blasting apart four vehicles full of hostages. McFaul was in a fifth truck which crashed. He dashed for his life and escaped, and believes all those in the other vehicles were killed.

During Thursday, most of the hundreds of people at the site were able to flee.

By Friday night, it remained unclear how many of the gunmen and their hostages were still in the facility - though both groups might number in the dozens. Norway's prime minister said the operation at the larger, residential compound seemed to be over and troops were now surrounding the industrial site.

But this left Western governments and intelligence officials, long used to difficult relations with Algeria which is proud of its sovereignty, desperate for hard facts about the fate of their nationals.

(Additional reporting by Alex Lawler and Jessica Donati in London; Editing by Peter Millership and Peter Graff)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

AXA Affin General Insurance CEO sees positives in business Malaysia

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 04:21 PM PST

FROM this week onwards, we've made yet another change to the Power Lunch format. We've decided to alternate occasionally between dining at Menara Star and various restaurants, which are available to us considering that Malaysia is unofficially the land of food. This was an opportunity to feast that I relished and for the first session, we stayed pretty much close to home base by taking a leisurely hop over to Eyuzu Japanese Cuisine at Eastin Hotel.


I arrived about 15 minutes early, thankfully, because just as I was having a glance through the menu, in walks Emmanuel Nivet, our guest for the day and the CEO of AXA Affin General Insurance. With joviality, he greeted me in Bahasa Indonesia, which left me wondering if I'd misunderstood his French accent or had my research been incorrect?

Nivet is new to Malaysia, and actually new to the whole of Asia. However, that's just on the professional side of things as he soon shared.

"My wife is French, but she was born in Jatiluhur, Indonesia. My father-in-law was working there with a plywood company. So, I've been there to ask permission before I married my wife."

Taking his seat, he humbly describes himself as still being a "lost French guy in Malaysia", but adds that it helps that he is familiar somewhat with the basics of Bahasa Indonesia and is working on adapting that into Bahasa Malaysia, which he's had the opportunity to trial run with his caddies on the golf courses.

He flipped through the menu, and with a relaxed disposition, he inquired about ordering a sashimi selection and seemed please when informed that we'd actually be having an assortment to start off our meal. And, without missing a beat, he informed me that he's already chosen Bah Kut Teh as his favourite local dish and though he has tried durians a few times, that's something he's still trying to adapt to. "The strength of someone is to be able to adapt. You have to consider that we are animals that are able to adapt. We have to try. And, I just wanted to keep growing in that," he shared with me, and later in our conversation, I found that he has applied this to his life in a much broader context than with just food.

Nivet tells me that he's been in Malaysia since July to get acquainted with his predecessor (Jahanath Muthusamy) before he retired, and since Sept 15, he's been the acting CEO. He went on to share of his whereabouts before landing on our shores.

"Before coming here, I left Paris in 2007. I went to London for 5 years. I strengthened my English there. Then, I found a great opportunity to come to Asia and Kuala Lumpur. I'm not that adventurous, but I wanted to come to Asia. It could have been a different country and maybe Singapore could be easier for a number of reasons. But, after a few months here, I'm glad it's Kuala Lumpur. It's an interesting place to be. I feel great here."

But, since this is the first time he's worked outside of Europe, I wondered what sparked his decision to take up a position that would bring him halfway around the world?

While working in England, he was still just a channel away from his hometown of Normandy. With a directness that is distinctly French, he responds: "If I may say, I didn't really want to go back to France. The first step out of France was a great experience sharing something different with other people and to try to understand our differences, behaviours and other experiences. So, to go for another position was an interest.

"To be frank with you, the economic environment in Europe is quite tough and I've been working in that environment for 10 years. I wanted to go somewhere where there's development and people are positive about things happening. And, I have to say, I'm not disappointed. Malaysia is one of the more matured markets in Asia-Pacific. We are to focus on developing and to deliver results.

"It's not easy, but nothing is impossible. So, under pressure? Yes. But, when you are a bit experienced like me, and not just a young guy coming over, you will find a way to manage it. My job is to release the pressure."

He goes on to explain that though foreign postings are beneficial to career advancement within AXA, that was not the driving force to this decision. "It's more a mix of work interest and personal challenge. It's not just about business, but it's also about having a pleasant time", he shares with me, before going on to tell me about his Arsenal season tickets and his love of red Burgundy wines.

Agents and growth

As our table piled up with our ordered sets, Nivet ordered the beef and scallops, the conversation soon flowed to adapting to his new job. Nivet has previously been the CEO of AXA Corporate Solutions UK and it's been his focus for about 15 years before the move into general insurance.

"It was a change but it's not that difficult. And, if you have a good team, then they just need a little bit of leadership and management. One situation is that I've never met any agents in France or the UK and here I spend my time meeting with agents. But, I have to say it's a fantastic network. And it's a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk to them about product development and quality of service."

I'm informed that AXA currently has slightly fewer than 3,000 agents but still managed to record 18.1% growth and a total gross written premium of RM827mil for 2012. Nivet tells me that the industry standard is hovering at 8%-8.5% annually and so he was pleasantly surprised they had managed to surpass his expectations. He remains optimistic to deliver double-digit growth in 2013.

"The beginning of the year is positive and I have in mind where we have to invest to make it a success. The first step is to secure the future. The second is to secure success. We know exactly where we want to go and how to do it."

As we talk about the latest product that AXA has launched Business Advantage Plus for F & B Nivet explains the interest that he has in the SME industry.

"If you go for SME markets in Malaysia, there is a lack of risk management. So, I try to push as much as I can on risk management so people will start a new mindset. What can I do to get a better insurance programme? How can I maximise my benefit of insurance and smoothen my risk?"

AXA as a group is recognising that the SME segment is growing and, he quotes that according to the SME Census 2011 report, 650,000 SMEs represent 97.3% of total businesses in the country for a contribution of up to 32.5% of the country's GDP.

And, AXA Affin General Insurance has insurance products for SMEs based upon the experience of AXA entities in Europe. Risk identification, risk assessment and risk protection are what he calls the three first steps that every company, not just SMEs, should have on their mind when considering risk management.

With lunch wrapping up, and over an afternoon espresso, Nivet shares that AXA is gearing up to launch two new products.

"Products that are easy to buy. Easy to sell, and easy to buy, it can be totally different. The point is that segmentation of the offer is key. We are in a highly competitive market. We've developed a mainframe for recovery in all business sectors for SMEs. We've identified two fast growing markets and we are launching new products at the end of this month."

New year, new realities

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 04:02 PM PST

THESE days, rightly or wrongly, when someone suggests a holiday in Greece, Spain or Portugal, another will caution you on safety concerns and pickpockets said to be the result of the European countries' economic woes and high unemployment rate.

When friends heard that I was in Portugal and Spain last month, the question often asked was, "How is the situation there?"

During our tour of Lisbon, the local guide said Portugal started 2013 with fewer public holidays to look forward to. Four public holidays two religious and two secular have been cancelled for the next five years.

With unemployment at 25% and youth unemployment at over 50%, the authorities are taking measures to boost productivity.

The move to cut public holidays shows seriousness about the austerity plan, which includes cuts in public sector wages and increased taxes. It's the right attitude and mindset change to go in tandem with the austerity plan.

Not many countries will resort to reducing public holidays because it is an unpopular move and therefore, difficult to push through.

The decision had attracted much criticism and concern before it was passed. It certainly took a lot of courage to make such tough decisions that are for the overall good although some groups may suffer a negative impact.

The situation in Portugal reminds me about the realities of change. The pain of the current situation must be bad enough for the people to accept the solutions dispensed. Pain or a high level of discomfort is necessary for change to occur.

It requires strong leadership willing to make unpopular decisions because it is the right thing to do. Some would prefer quick fixes, ad-hoc initiatives or a less unpopular path.

For many countries, companies and individuals, the new year reality is that the economic and business environment will not be getting better, easier or less complex any time soon. Some challenges may abate or lessen, but there will be a continuous stream of new challenges ahead.

Instead of hoping or expecting that things will get better, it is necessary to change and be equipped with the right tools and skills to better face the challenges ahead.

It is a bit like ageing. It is not realistic to expect that one will get younger. For instance, health issues tend to add up, starting with the reading glasses, the arthritic joints and then the aching shoulders and so on. Therefore, it is necessary for us to accept the realities of ageing and equip ourselves to better manage ageing gracefully.

We know that past performance is not a guarantee for future success. With the competitive and uncertain environment, we can only be as good as our last project or last financial year. There is continuous need to reappraise to see where we are and how our surroundings are changing in order to determine the right response.

The need for change is not often obvious and become immediately apparent. It often creeps on us.

It starts with the changing of values. With good times come complacency and the loss of hunger. We start to think that we are too big to fail.

"We are losing some market share but the competitor's business model is not sustainable anyway." "We have a competitive edge".

We start to compromise. "It is OK to tolerate some level of corruption, some slippage, some exceptions to the rule, higher costs, a few customer complaints, an occasional slower response times."

When times are good, we don't feel the urgency to improve or work on gaining new capabilities or enforcing the right values and principles.

It is similar to the bad habits we develop over time or the midriff fat and weight gain accumulated over time. We reach a point where we wished we had worked on it earlier and not allowed it to develop in the first place.

In this new year, while many have made resolutions, my hope is that we will have the resolve to direct our attention to what we can do to improve or change because we believe they are important.

Let us take stock before we are desensitised by the slippages/wrongs that have crept up on us. Let us do this before we have no choice but to accept that most painful solution and a long journey of undoing ahead of us.

Let us have the strong resolve to make the most difficult decisions with benefits in the long-term even when others expect us to deliver the results now.

>Joan Hoi, a former partner of Accenture. is author of Take on Change'. Joan is learning the need to accept new realities with getting older as well.

Eye on Stock

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 04:01 PM PST

AFTER falling to a one-year low of RM1.53 on Sept 26, last year, Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) attempted to recover but the shares were met with another fresh bout of selling.

Consequently, prices came under pressure to retreat and they re-visited the RM1.53 level again on Dec 17, carving out a "double-bottom" pattern.

Thereafter, this stock turned range-bound on bargain-hunting interest alternating with sporadic liquidation activity, ending down one sen to RM1.57 yesterday. Based on the daily chart, the prevailing trend remains bearish, but MRCB shares appeared to have ebbed in the midst of building up the strength for recovery.

Turning to the indicators, the daily slow-stochastic momentum index was ticking up from the bottom. Its oscillator per cent K climbed over the oscillator per cent D to trigger a buy at the grossly oversold territory on Thursday.

Another short-term measurement, the 14-day relative strength index pulled back from the top to a reading of 39 before curving up slightly to close at the 49 points mark yesterday.

In addition, the daily moving average convergence/divergence histogram resumed the upward expansion against the daily signal line to stay positive. It had issued a buy on Dec 20, last year.

Technically, this stock is likely to be firm in the near term, but prices are likely to face stiff challenges at the 100-day and 200-day simple moving averages.

Initial resistance is expected at the RM1.64 line, followed by the RM1.68 barrier, of which a successful penetration, accompanied by greater volumes would see the fortune of this stock changing for the better. Solid support is kept at RM1.53. An additional floor is pegged at the RM1.48 level.

The comments above do not represent a recommendation to buy or sell.

MRCB : [Stock Watch] [News]

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Cricket: Australia add Bird to one-day squad

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 06:49 PM PST

SYDNEY: Australian selectors have added fast bowler Jackson Bird to their one-day squad for Sunday's crucial clash against Sri Lanka in Sydney.

Sri Lanka lead the five-match series 2-1 after a four-wicket win in Brisbane on Friday, bowling out Australia inside 27 overs for just 74 runs.

"Jackson Bird will join the squad as cover for the fourth Commonwealth Bank Series match in Sydney," Cricket Australia said in a statement late Friday.

Bird, 26, yet to play in a one-day international, has made an impressive start to his Test career, taking seven wickets in his second Test against Sri Lanka earlier this month in Sydney to be named man of the match. - AFP

Rallying:World champ Loeb eases closer to seventh Monte Carlo title

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 05:12 PM PST

VALENCE, France: World champion Sebastien Loeb eased closer to a seventh Monte Carlo Rally victory on Friday when he opened a lead of 1min 47sec over fellow-Frenchman Sebastien Ogier.

Nine-time world champion Loeb has led the season-opener since the second stage in his Citroen and with only five stages to be raced in and around Monaco on Saturday, Ogier looks likely to settle for second place in the debut-making Volkswagen.

Loeb is only racing four events in the 2013 championship, but that hasn't dented his competitive edge, which was illustrated by rounding off Friday's action with the fastest time through the closing stage.

With snow and ice again making driving conditions tricky, Loeb, like most of the front-runners, started the day with a combination of winter and asphalt tyres.

"It was the right decision for sure, but the mix is certainly not the most exciting to drive," said the Frenchman.

"But we have to do it because I think it's the best option. Overall I'm very happy with the job we have done today." - AFP

Rugby: Swamp king Evans shines in Quins triumph

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 04:35 PM PST

PARIS: Former All Black Nick Evans put in a perfect kicking performance in treacherous, driving rain as Harlequins defeated Biarritz 16-9 on Friday to complete their European Cup group stage with a sixth win in six games.

Quins, who had already made sure of their place in the quarter-finals, failed to gain a winning bonus point, but their Pool 3 tally of 28 points could still make them the top seeds in the knockout phase.

Evans kicked three penalties and converted the game's only try which left Biarritz without a hope of squeezing into the last eight as a best runner-up.

Dimitri Yachvili, the third highest points scorer in the European Cup history, missed an early penalty but was bang on target with a second attempt as the French side edged ahead at a drenched Stade Aguilera.

Evans levelled at the other end before the English champions grabbed the only try of the game.

Hooker Joe Gray threw long at a line-out where No 8 Tom Guest gathered before barging over for a well-worked try which Evans converted.

Both sides ended the half with 14 men after Biarritz lock Wenceslas Lauret and Quins prop Joe Marler were sin-binned for coming to blows as their packs struggled to keep their feet on the swampy, chewed-up surface.

Yachvili dragged the French side back into contention with two early penalties in the second period before Evans kicked a 45-metre penalty which bounced kindly off the crossbar and over for a 13-9 lead just before the hour mark.

Yachvili again went wide with another penalty as the game became an exhausting battle of attrition. Evans showed him how to do it with another penalty seven minutes from time to seal a well-earned Harlequins win.

In the night's other Pool 3 game, Dan Parks kicked 20 points as Connacht beat Zebre 25-20 with the Italian side ending their campaign with a sixth successive defeat. - AFP

European Cup standings after Friday's matches, the sixth and final round of group games

played, won, drawn, lost, points for, points against, bonus points, total points:

Pool 1

Saracens 5 4 0 1 140 69 2 18

Munster 5 3 0 2 104 67 3 15

Racing-Metro 5 3 0 2 97 96 0 12

Edinburgh 5 0 0 5 29 138 0 0

Pool 2

Toulouse 5 4 0 1 127 75 2 18

Leicester 5 3 1 1 110 98 2 16

Ospreys 5 2 1 2 106 107 1 11

Treviso 5 0 0 5 98 153 1 1

Pool 3

Harlequins 6 6 0 0 243 71 4 28 - qualified for quarter-finals

Biarritz 6 3 0 3 123 101 3 15

Connacht 6 3 0 3 96 138 0 12

Zebre 6 0 0 6 72 224 1 1

Pool 4

Ulster 5 4 0 1 117 47 3 19 - qualified for quarter-finals

Northampton 5 3 0 2 74 82 2 14

Castres 5 3 0 2 69 89 1 13

Glasgow 5 0 0 5 43 85 2 2

Pool 5

Clermont 5 5 0 0 184 64 3 23 - qualified for quarter-finals

Leinster 5 3 0 2 95 76 3 15

Exeter 5 2 0 3 73 137 1 9

Scarlets 5 0 0 5 79 154 2 2

Pool 6

Toulon 5 5 0 0 183 61 3 23 - qualified for quarter-finals

Montpellier 5 4 0 1 145 106 2 18

Sale 5 1 0 4 64 172 0 4

Cardiff Blues 5 0 0 5 117 170 2 2

Note: Pool winners and two best-placed runners-up qualify for the quarter-finals - AFP

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Of mystery and magic

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 12:00 AM PST

The Shattering

Author: Karen Healey

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 320 pages

FRAUGHT with grief after her brother's suicide, Keri wants very much to believe what her childhood friend Janna is saying – that it wasn't suicide, it was murder.

Janna, too, lost her brother to an apparent suicide years before. And then there was Sione, who had also lost a brother in a similar manner. Could this be the carefully concealed work of a serial killer?

Kiwi writer Karen Healey offers not just the expected young adult fic-romance but also suspense as well as Maori rituals and different characters in a New Zealand setting that readers weaned on American and British YA novels will find unusual.


Author: A.G. Howard

Publisher: Amulet Books, 384 pages

ALYSSA Gardner can hear the whispers of insects and flowers. Like her mother, she inherited the condition from her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.

When her mother's mental health worsens, Alyssa is plunged into the real Wonderland with her friend Jeb.

Somehow, Alyssa has to fix all the mistakes Alice left behind and save her family. Meanwhile, she also has to choose who to trust in the unknown, magical world.

Will it be her secret crush Jeb or her guide through Wonderland, Morpheus?


Author: Gennifer Albin

Publisher: Faber & Faber, 360 pages

ADELICE Lewys lives in a world where some special people called Spinsters can manipulate reality to their liking, but are controlled by a corrupt government.

When her parents discover that Adelice possesses the ability too, they train her to hide it. Because being a Spinster would mean that she would be dictating the lives of others – what they eat, what they wear and when they die – based on the orders of the Guild.

Plunged into a world of deadly politics and a forbidden romance too, Adelice has to find out the dire truth about her powers and preserve her entire society.

Poison Princess

Author: Kresley Cole

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 368 pages

EVANGELINE "Evie" Greene can see the future, but she doesn't know that yet. Not until she realises that her hallucinations are visions of what would be. What might come to pass are apocalyptic events that destroy her hometown and kill those she loves. Desperate to find out the truth about her unique ability, she turns to her classmate, Jack Deveaux, for aid.

On their quest, the two meet others who also have special powers and they find out that Evie is part of an ancient prophecy that is being played out. And in this battle between good and evil, Evie is stuck without knowing who is on which side.

A Pakistani boy growing up in London

Posted: 17 Jan 2013 09:52 PM PST

WE all struggle with identity issues as we grow up. For Imran Ahmad, these growing pains were complicated by the fact that he was a Pakistani Muslim growing up in London, torn between his family's ethnic/religious identity and the Western values he was exposed to.

These experiences form the basis of his humorous memoirs, The Perfect Gentleman.

Despite dealing with complex issues like racism and spirituality, Imran approaches his life story with a sense of humour that makes the book both thought-provoking and entertaining.

For instance, how does one emulate James Bond without the vodka and women? Or, how does one fall in love if one is expected to submit to an arranged marriage? And what happens on a "first night" anyway?

Meet Imran in person and hear him share his uniquely funny perspective tomorrow at 3pm at the MPH Bookstore, 1Utama, Bandar Utama, and on Tuesday (Jan 22) at 6pm at Kinokuniya Bookstores, Suria KLCC.

Look out for our interview with Imran in Star2 on Tuesday.

Two graphic novels making waves

Posted: 17 Jan 2013 07:21 PM PST

Two graphic novels are making waves by being nominated alongside more traditional novels for the Costa book awards.

THE complex terrain of the parent-child relationship is something most of us have traversed. The universality of this particular issue may explain why not just one, but two graphic novels, have managed to cross the divide and, for the first time ever, bag nominations for Britain's prestigious Costa book awards this year.

Breaking the stereotype that graphic novels are for superhero fans and fantasy geeks, both novels use the visual narrative form to tell stories that are simultaneously personal, relatable and very real. The nominations, in fact, are merely a higher profile acknowledgement of something graphic novel fans have always known: that the art form is simply another way to tell a story.

Joff Winterhart's Days Of The Bagnold Summer, which is about the relationship between a dowdy librarian and her heavy metal-loving teenaged son, was nominated in the best novel category alongside heavyweights like Hilary Mantel's Bring Up The Bodies, Stephen May's Life! Death! Prizes! and James Meek's The Heart Broke In (Mantel took home the prize).

Meanwhile, Dotter Of Her Father's Eyes by Mary M. and Bryan Talbot – a biography-cum-memoir that intertwines author James Joyce's relationship with his daughter Lucia and Mary's own with her father, a Joycean scholar – was nominated for and eventually won the best biography category. As category winner, Dotter is currently in the running for the Costa book of the year award, which will be announced on Jan 29.

Both works are fascinating, albeit in completely different ways. Dotter is an elegant, literary piece of work that is obviously very personal to Mary, and is lovingly illustrated by her husband Bryan (the creator of The Adventures Of Luther Arkwright).

In it, Mary recalls her difficult relationship with her father, Joycean academic James S. Atherton, an intense and temperamental man who could just as easily explode in anger at her as charm her with his wit and affection. Desperately longing to please him even as she rebels against him, Mary's experiences will strike a chord with anyone who has had to struggle to match up to a parent's expectations.

What makes her story so unique, however, is the parallel narrative of Lucia's story. The apple of James' eye, Lucia was a gifted dancer whose potential was never taken seriously by her father; he was of the assumption that the most important thing a woman needed to learn was how to enter a room like a lady. Meanwhile, her mother was nasty and verbally-abusive. Lucia eventually descended into insanity and spent the last 30 years of her life in an asylum.

Bryan's mostly monochromatic artwork is simple yet beautiful and emotive, with hues playing an important role in evoking the mood. Mary's past is depicted in nostalgic sepia tones (with occasional splashes of strong colour), while Lucia's story in 1930s Paris is realised in inky drawings, reminiscent of newsprint; the present, however, is in gorgeous full colour.

In contrast, Bagnold's artwork seems extremely spare. The utilitarian black-and-white drawings, presented as comic strips, don't offer much in terms of detail; what they do, though, is foreground the expressions and appearance of the two leads, 15-year-old Daniel and his mother Sue.

When a trip to visit his father and new wife in Florida is canceled, Daniel is faced with the prospect of spending six weeks of summer at home with his mum. Winterhart breaks the story down into six parts, highlighting happenings both mundane and poignant in each week.

Told with a wry sense of humour, the story of how mother and son struggle to find common ground is both funny and deeply affecting; Winterhart perfectly captures Daniel's teenage angst and Sue's desperate desire to recognise her little boy in the skulking teenager. While Sue's attempts to discuss heavy metal music or tattoos with her son will bring a smile to your face, it is also impossible not to get misty-eyed when Sue takes private pleasure in still being able to make her surly son laugh.

The best thing about Bagnold is that it doesn't preach or offer solutions. Instead, the slice-of-life style of storytelling lets the characters and events speak for themselves, and to their credit, while the characters may not be perfect, they are perfectly human, and keeps us rooting for them all the way.

> Days Of The Bagnold Summer and Dotter Of Her Father's Eyes are currently available at Kinokuniya, Suria KLCC.

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The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Wisma Putra: Two Malaysians taken hostage in Algeria are safe

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 07:47 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: Two Malaysians caught in the Algerian hostage crisis are safe, according to Wisma Putra.

It is also learnt that one of the hostages, K. Ravi, had called his wife late Friday and told her that he was okay.

Ravi, 48, and Lau Seek Siang, 38, were among a group of 41 people held hostage at the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria since a terrorist attack on Wednesday.

Related Stories:
Malaysians held hostage in Algeria
Family members mum over captive

GE13: Mohd Ali ready to give up Malacca CM post to contest in parliamentary seat

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 06:53 AM PST

MALACCA: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said Friday that he is ready to contest in a parliamentary seat in the 13th general election.

Confirming speculation that he would let go of the chief minister's post which he has held since 1999, Mohd Ali said he had already expressed his intention to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He told this to reporters after presenting the RM100 school assistance to students at SK Dato Palembang here.

Mohd Ali replaced Datuk Seri Abu Zahar Isnin as Malacca Chief Minister on Dec 2, 1999. Prior to that, he served as Deputy Transport Minister and Deputy Health Minister.

On seat distribution in the state for the coming general election, he said the list of candidates had been agreed to by all the component parties in the Barisan Nasional - Bernama

Night closure at Grand Saga highway from Monday

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 05:25 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The left-most lane of the Cheras-Kajang Highway (Grand Saga) will be closed temporarily at night for seven days, beginning Jan 21.

According to a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Corporation Sdn Bhd statement Friday, the closure is to facilitate utility relocation works for the construction of the MRT project.

The closure, from KM15 to KM14.9, near exit 704 Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, will cover a 200m stretch and take effect from 10pm to 6am.

The road will be re-opened to the public on Jan 29.

The statement also said that a comprehensive traffic management plan has been prepared by Grand Saga Highway and approved by the Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia (LLM) to ensure minimal disruption to traffic.

Safety barriers, hoarding and traffic cones will be installed at the work site to ensure that road users and pedestrians are pre-warned about the on-going works, it said.

For further information, the public can visit MRT's website at or call the 1800-82-68686 hotline. - Bernama

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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Leonardo DiCaprio to take 'long, long break' from filming

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 03:10 AM PST

BERLIN: "Django Unchained" and "Titanic" star Leonardo DiCaprio said on Friday he was planning to take a significant break from filming and concentrate on his environmental campaigning.

In an interview with Germany's mass circulation daily Bild, the 38-year-old American actor said: "I am a bit drained. I'm now going to take a long, long break. I've done three films in two years and I'm just worn out."

"I would like to improve the world a bit. I will fly around the world doing good for the environment," added DiCaprio, in comments published in German.

DiCaprio is currently starring in Quentin Tarantino's blood-soaked spaghetti Western tribute "Django Unchained," which picked up two Golden Globes on Sunday.

He has also recently filmed "The Great Gatsby", directed by Baz Luhrmann and Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street."

He burnished his green credentials in the Bild interview, saying: "My roof is covered with solar panels. My car is electric. A normal person does not drive more than 50 kilometres (31 miles) a day. That can be done with a plug." - AFP

Back-up singers finally in spotlight at Sundance

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 02:09 AM PST

PARK CITY, Utah: They sang for the Rolling Stones, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, U2, Sting and Michael Jackson, but they stayed out of the spotlight - until a new documentary gave them a starring role at last.

"Twenty Feet From Stardom," which opened the Sundance Film Festival Thursday, showcases the lives of a series of mostly African American back-up singers whose voices are familiar but whose faces and names are barely known.

They have sung on some of the most popular tunes of the modern era, but who knows the names of Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega, Claudia Lennear or The Waters Family?

Or Merry Clayton, the female voice on the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter," possibly one of the most iconic back-up vocals in rock and roll.

"Something that struck me instantly was that it's not sex, drugs, and rock and roll - it's a different side of the music industry," director Morgan Neville told AFP, in the Utah ski resort of Park City, hosting Sundance until January 27.

"These are people who have lived their lives making peace with the fact that they are there to disappear in the spotlight," he added.

"In a way, I was making a film about addicts. These are people who are addicted to music. And it doesn't matter if they don't make a lot of money or don't get any glory - they just care about the music."

That doesn't mean that they never dreamed of a solo career: almost all of them have released their own albums, but none has achieved the success that could make them a star in their own right.

Lisa Fischer, the main back-up singer on Rolling Stones tours since 1989, is an exception: her debut album "So Intense" was a major success, producing a Grammy award-winning 1991 single, "How Can I Ease the Pain?"

But even she elected not to go further with her solo career, telling the documentary-maker in the film that, for her, singing was not about competition, but about sharing.

Tata Vega tells him that if she had become a solo star, she would probably not be alive today; she would have died of a drug overdose at some point along the line.

Neville said the back-up singers form a community who have a sense of sharing far more than the stars whom they accompany.

"Not everybody can sing. It's a gift. And that gift, somehow, has to be shared. It is a very spiritual thing to them. They all came out of a church, they're all very religious and I do think that they see it as a calling.

"That's what they are addicted to, they're addicted to being able to lose themselves in this greater sense of togetherness. And that is a great thing," he said.

The movie also follows a younger generation of back-up singers through Judith Hill, whose velvet voice entranced the "King of Pop" himself, Michael Jackson.

She was supposed to be the main back-up singer on his doomed London mega-show "This is It," which he was rehearsing for when he died in 2009, ending her prospects of global exposure.

Hill still hopes to have a solo career, but has to accept routine back-up singer gigs, not all of them the most glamorous, to pay the bills.

The fact is that opportunities have dried up for these golden voices: the arrival of hip-hop and grunge in the 1990s, and then the recording industry's financial troubles as new technology arrived, have hit them hard.

"And the biggest artists that use back-up vocals like Adele or Florence and The Machine, those vocals are done by Adele or Florence. They're doing their own back-up vocals on the records.

"They don't use back-up singers." - AFP

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Mixed martial arts master keen to get into the ring next month

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 05:58 AM PST

FILIPINO Ole Laursen, Frenchman Arnaud Lepont and Singaporean Eddie Ng are some of the big names in the Asian mix martial arts scene and they all have one thing in common. They have all fought with Malaysian Chee Jian Kai in the cage.

This has earned the Ipoh lad plenty of respect and fans, as he is known to take on any opponent at any time without hesitation.

The 28-year-old will be stepping into the ring once again on Feb 2 to face Aj "Pyro" Lias Mansor for ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC): 'Return of Warriors', at the Putra Indoor Stadium Bukit Jalil in front of 15,000 fans in the inaugural four-man Malaysian national featherweight championship tournament.

"I am excited to step into the cage once again. I did not hesitate to sign when ONE FC chief executive Victor Cui sent me the contract," he said.

Jian Kai will be looking to break his two-fight losing streak against former national silat champion Aj. With a record of three wins and four losses, Jian Kai's fights had never gone to decisions and always produced fireworks.

"I have been training hard. I am polishing my Muay Thai skills and I am improving my ground game by training with MuayFit," he added.

"Aj and I know each other very well as we are in the scene together. Therefore, the fight would be exciting as we know each other's capabilities," he added.

Jian Kai got involved with MMA in 2010 and has never looked back despite some setbacks.

Headquartered in Singapore, ONE FC is Asia's largest mixed martial arts organisation. ONE FC hosts the best Asian mixed martial artists and world champions on the largest media broadcast in Asia.

Tickets for ONE FC: Return of Warriors, powered by Tune Talk are on sale now at www.AirAsiaRedTix.com.

Tickets are priced at RM345 for the complete VIP experience that includes exclusive red carpet entrance, access to the VIP lounge and premium cage-side seating.

The categories that follow are priced at RM145, RM95 and RM45 respectively. Booking fees and service charges apply.

> The Star is the Official Print Partner for ONE FC: Return of Warriors. iSnap this article or visit bit.ly/TXoiZq to stand a chance to win tickets to this adrenaline-fuelled event.

Sarawakian wins TV for correctly guessing MU-Liverpool match outcome

Posted: 18 Jan 2013 05:58 AM PST

SARAWAKIAN Stanley Davis Lawrence Bill had two reasons to celebrate during the match between Barclays Premier League table leaders Manchester United and Liverpool last Sunday.

The first reason was that the team he supports, Manchester United, beat Liverpool 2-1 in stunning fashion. The second was that he got the score prediction right.

He walked away with a 42-inch LCD television after winning the Predict and Win contest at the Tiger FC Away Games live viewing match held at Souled Out in Desa Sri Hartamas.

The 30-year-old Stanley said this was the first time he had ever won such a contest.

"With this new television, the next EPL live match will definitely be at my house in Kota Damansara with at least 10 of my friends.

"I love watching live matches outdoors with my friends because it is exciting especially with the crowd cheering together," he added.

Besides Stanley, 10 others were given Puma bags for predicting the right score.

Manchester United and Liverpool football fans who were there had to buy a jug of Tiger Beer in order to participate and those who got the right prediction stood the chance to win prizes.

About 700 football fans turned up to watch the match at Souled Out, but Tiger also held six other similar events nationwide.

In the Klang Valley, three other events were held at 42 East, Studio Lounge and Chillout. Ozo Bistro in Kluang, Healy Mac's in Ipoh and Restaurant Sin Hong Kheng in Alor Setar were the other venues outside Kuala Lumpur.

Tiger Beer senior brand manager Lim Ju-Lee said Tiger FC had always given fans the best football viewing experience with its parties.

"With so many amazing matches of this magnitude happening throughout the season, we've made sure that fans across the nation can enjoy their football in the best possible way with seven exhilarating Tiger FC Away Game viewing parties across the country for the Manchester-Liverpool match and a total of more than 200 viewing parties this season," said Ju-Lee.

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