Selasa, 22 Januari 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Japan PM sets inflation goal; next on list, a new Bank of Japan governor

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 08:18 PM PST

TOKYO (Reuters) - After pressuring Japan's central bank into overhauling monetary policy, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared the change "epoch making". Next on his to-do list: find a central bank chief more sympathetic to his views than the current governor.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters after hearing a briefing by Finance Minister Taro Aso, Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa and Economics Minister Akira Amari (not pictured) in Tokyo January 22, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters after hearing a briefing by Finance Minister Taro Aso, Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa and Economics Minister Akira Amari (not pictured) in Tokyo January 22, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

In its most determined effort yet to end years of economic stagnation, the Bank of Japan said on Tuesday it would switch to an open-ended commitment to buying assets next year and double its inflation target to 2 percent.

It issued a joint statement with the government promising to reach the inflation goal "at the earliest possible time," drawing praise from Abe who had piled relentless pressure on the central bank to take bolder measures to pull Japan out of deflation and recession.

Although the scale of the measures was greater than markets had expected, investors were disappointed the open-ended buying, similar to a U.S. Federal Reserve policy, would not begin until 2014. That suggested no extra stimulus measures this year.

But Bernd Berg, global currency strategist at Credit Suisse, suggested markets would soon switch their focus to the next stage of Abe's plan and that would keep the yen on a weakening path, a trend that has bolstered the stock market.

"The general upward move in dollar/yen will continue due to expectations of more easing after a new BOJ governor is appointed in April," he said.

Abe led his Liberal Democratic Party to a landslide victory in December elections and his campaign for aggressive budget and monetary stimulus had pushed the yen lower and sparked a stock market rally on hopes a weaker currency would boost exports. He hailed Tuesday's BOJ action as a game-changer.

"It is 'epoch-making' in a sense of a bold review of monetary policy," he told reporters.

Masaaki Shirakawa's term as central bank governor ends in just over two months. He has faced persistent pressure from lawmakers to do more with monetary policy to lift the economy as recent governments steadily built up massive debts, limiting the room for fiscal expansion.

But he has resisted, insisting monetary policy alone can only have a limited impact against the deflation that has come to define just over a decade of economic stagnation in Japan.

Pumping unlimited amounts of cash into the banking system or underwriting government debt, solutions pushed by critics, could thrust Japan into a financial crisis, he has maintained.

Many analysts expect Abe to pressure the BOJ for yet more action, especially in the run-up to upper house elections expected in July.

The 2 percent inflation target gives him the stick he can use to beat the BOJ for more policy easing. Japan has only achieved 2 percent inflation in a handful of months since the late 1990s.

"If this means they always need to do something until inflation rises to 2 percent, they would need to ease every month," said Katsutoshi Inadome, fixed income strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.


Abe has made clear that he wants a BOJ governor who shares his push to reflate the economy with a hyper-easy monetary policy combined with big fiscal spending.

Such a job would suit Toshiro Muto, a former finance ministry official and former deputy governor at the BOJ, said Isao Iijima, a political strategist for Abe.

Experience at the Finance Ministry's budget bureau and strong connections in the world of finance and politics will be vital for the next BOJ governor, Iijima said.

"That's why, if I'm to be honest, I think that a former finance ministry official would be best," he told Reuters. "For example, Muto.

Kazumasa Iwata, a former government economist who served as deputy BOJ governor until 2008, has also been mooted as a possible Shirakawa replacement. He has consistently called for bolder monetary stimulus to beat deflation.

The next policy options include scrapping the 0.1 percent floor the BOJ sets for short-term interest rates to encourage more lending and the central bank buying longer-duration bonds.

"I think the BOJ and the next governor after Shirakawa are likely to be asked or expected to hammer out bolder measures," said Mitsushige Akino, executive director and chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management in Tokyo.

Analysts generally agree BOJ action alone won't reinflate the economy. For its part, the cabinet this month approved about $117 billion (73.9 billion pounds) of spending in Japan's biggest stimulus since the global financial crisis.

But many economists say the combined measures will provide only a temporary boost unless the government follows through with politically more difficult economic reforms such as deregulating its protected farming sector.

(The story has been refiled to fix the headline)

(Additionally reporting by Hideyuki Sano, Stanley White and Kaori Kaneko; Writing by Neil Fullick; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Honduran Congress approves impeachment tool after Zelaya debacle

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 07:39 PM PST

Tegucigalpa (Reuters) - Honduras' Congress on Tuesday approved a measure that allows senior political officials including the president to be prosecuted and removed from office, lawmakers said.

Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya (R) and his wife Xiomara de Zelaya, presidential candidate of the Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE) gesture during a news conference after casting their votes during primary elections in Tegucigalpa November 18, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya (R) and his wife Xiomara de Zelaya, presidential candidate of the Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE) gesture during a news conference after casting their votes during primary elections in Tegucigalpa November 18, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

The impeachment mechanism is aimed at avoiding crises such as the one that erupted in the Central American country in 2009, when former President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup.

"Impeachment keeps us from falling into a terrible conflict like the one in 2009, whose consequences were devastating not only economically, but socially," said National Congress president Juan Hernandez.

In 2009, Congress removed Zelaya after the military arrested him at his home and sent him to Costa Rica. Zelaya's critics said he was manoeuvring to remain in power beyond his term in office.

Congress, which was dominated at the time by the conservative Liberal and National parties, supported the military coup against Zelaya, and approved a no-confidence vote, but lacked an authorization procedure for his dismissal.

Legislation authorizing impeachment must still be approved by the incoming Congress, which will begin on Friday.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

North Korea says will boost nuclear deterrent after U.N. rebuke

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 07:25 PM PST

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday unanimously condemned North Korea's December rocket launch and expanded existing U.N. sanctions, eliciting a vow from Pyongyang to boost the North's military and nuclear capabilities.

A soldier stands guard in front of a rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities in the northwest of Pyongyang in this April 8, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/Files

A soldier stands guard in front of a rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities in the northwest of Pyongyang in this April 8, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/Files

While the resolution approved by the 15-nation council does not impose new sanctions on Pyongyang, diplomats said Beijing's support for it was a significant diplomatic blow to Pyongyang.

The resolution said the council "deplores the violations" by North Korea of its previous resolutions, which banned Pyongyang from conducting further ballistic missile and nuclear tests and from importing materials and technology for those programs.

It also said the council "expresses its determination to take significant action in the event of a further DPRK (North Korean) launch or nuclear test".

North Korea reacted quickly, saying it would hold no more talks on the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula and would boost its military and nuclear capabilities.

"We will take measures to boost and strengthen our defensive military power including nuclear deterrence," its Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA.

Six-party talks aimed at halting North Korea's nuclear program have involved North Korea, the United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. They have been held intermittently since 2003 but have stalled since 2008.

South Korea says the North is technically ready for a third nuclear test, and satellite images show it is actively working on its nuclear site. However, political analysts said they viewed a test as unlikely in the near-term.

"North Korea will likely take a sequenced strategy where the first stage response would be more militarily aggressive actions like another missile launch," said Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

There are concerns that North Korea could stage a test using highly enriched uranium for the first time, which would give it a second path to a nuclear bomb and enable it to preserve its stocks of plutonium, which are believed to be sufficient for about 12 nuclear devices.

The U.N. resolution added six North Korean entities, including Pyongyang's space agency, the Korean Committee for Space Technology, and the man heading it, Paek Chang-ho, to an existing U.N. blacklist.


The firms and individuals will all face an international asset freeze, while Paek and the others blacklisted by Tuesday's resolution -- the manager of the rocket launch centre and two North Korean banking officials -- will face a global travel ban.

In addition to the space agency, the council blacklisted the Bank of East Land, Korea Kumryong Trading Corp., Tosong Technology Trading Corp., Korea Ryonha Machinery Joint Venture Corp., and Leader (Hong Kong) International.

Leader, based in Hong Kong, is an agent for KOMID, a North Korean mining and trading company that was sanctioned in 2009 and is the North's main arms dealer, the resolution said.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice welcomed the resolution, describing it as introducing "new sanctions" against North Korea. "This resolution demonstrates to North Korea that there are unanimous and significant consequences for its flagrant violation of its obligations under previous resolutions," she said.

Other diplomats, however, said on condition of anonymity that saying the measures in Tuesday's resolution were new sanctions would be an exaggeration.

China, the North's only major diplomatic ally, said on Monday the Security Council needed to pass a cautious resolution on North Korea, adding that this was the best way to ensure regional tensions did not escalate further.

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong said certain elements in the resolution's original draft, which in China's view would "jeopardize" normal trade between North Korea and other countries, had been removed, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"Sanctions and resolutions alone do not work," Xinhua quoted him as saying. "Resolutions must be completed and supplemented by diplomatic efforts."

Several diplomats said Beijing's decision to back the resolution sent a strong message to Pyongyang.

"It might not be much, but the Chinese move is significant," a council diplomat told Reuters. "The prospect of a (new) nuclear test might have been a game changer (for China)."

The United States had wanted to punish North Korea for the rocket launch with a Security Council resolution that imposed entirely new sanctions against Pyongyang, but Beijing rejected that option. China agreed to U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang after North Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

December's successful long-range rocket launch, the first to put a satellite in orbit, was a coup for North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong-un.

North and South Korea are still technically at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.

(Additional reporting by Jumin Park and David Chance in SEOUL, and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Paul Tait)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Bunheads - Latest drama by Sherman-Paladino

Posted: 23 Jan 2013 01:03 AM PST

Bunheads takes its time to dance into our hearts.

MICHELLE Sims (Sutton Foster) is a classically-trained dancer working as a Vegas showgirl to pay the rent in new TV drama Bunheads.

Hubbell Flowers (Alan Ruck), a successful small town businessman, makes it a point to drive up from Paradise, a quaint little town in Southern California, once a month to watch Michelle perform. He always waits for her after the show and present her with gifts. Hubbell sees something in Michelle and implores her to go out on a date with him.

One night, she relents. They go out, she gets a little inebriated, he proposes and promises to look after her and guess what? She agrees! Why not? He's a really nice guy who has promised to look after her and fulfill her every need.

Since they are, after all, already in Vegas, the two get married. The morning after, Michelle isn't quite sure about her decision but she follows Hubbell to Paradise to meet his mother, Fanny (Kelly Bishop) with whom he lives. Fanny used to be a dancer and now runs a ballet school called Paradise Dance Academy. Fanny is less than pleased about her son's decision to elope and the meeting between the two women is awkward. Fanny throws the newlyweds a party to introduce Michelle to the residents of Paradise. At the party, things boil over and Michelle runs off, upset. Fanny follows after her and soon after, Hubbell goes in search of Michelle and ends up in a car accident. A fatal car accident.

All that in one episode. This is Bunheads, the latest drama by Amy Sherman-Paladino the creator of Gilmore Girls, the cult favourite drama that ran from 2000 to 2007.

There are many similarities between the two shows. An eccentric heroine who talks and talks and talks, a small quaint town full of quirky residents, witty dialogue that's replete with pop culture references and a story that is in no hurry to unfold. The show's soundtrack seems vaguely familiar and the town of Paradise is almost a replica of Stars Hollow. Heck, the show even has a handful of the cast from Gilmore Girls (Bishop, Liza Wiel, Sean Gunn, Michael DeLuise)! Could this be take two of Gilmore Girls?

One can hope. Or maybe not.

It was nice that Bunheads has a familiarity about it but I found that instead of being comforted by the similarities to the hugely popular Gilmore Girls (one of my all-time favorite shows), I was irritated by it … at least, initially.

Foster has a lot to live up to as Lauren Graham was truly a star to be reckoned with as the fast-talking, coffee-chugging, single mother Lorelai Gilmore in the Sherman-Paladino cult favourite. Lorelai was funny and smart, extremely likable but also intensely infuriating. She was deeply flawed, especially when it came to her relationships with her parents and the men in her life. But she was relatable and compelling – definitely a deserving heroine.

Michelle may not be a single-mother like Lorelai but she bears many of the same personality traits, making it simply impossible not to compare to her predecessor. And that's a hard gig to handle.

The story that follows Hubbell's tragic death, sees Michelle coming to terms with her new life. She stays on in Paradise temporarily until matters with regards to Hubbell's death is sorted. In the process, she begins to build a life, and relationships, in Paradise.

Here's another fast-talking, independent woman battling her demons. Michelle isn't unlikable but it seems, at least in the first few episodes, as if Sherman-Paladino is trying to resurrect Lorelai instead of creating a brand new character. There were just too many overlaps.

Things improve though as the show progresses. Michelle develops into a more discernible character especially as she begins to form a relationship with four of Fanny's dance students. She assumes the role of "big sister" to the bunheads (slang for young ballerinas who wear their hair in a tight bun) and slowly the series veers away from the Gilmore Girls blueprint. Michelle, thankfully, has found her niche and we see a brand new character. She's their teacher, their friend, their alibi, their confidant. She's still fast-talking and all the pop-culture shout outs are there but she becomes more than a body double for that Gilmore heroine. Yes, I stopped comparing the two somewhere around episode 10 and am now enjoying it quite a bit.

The strength of the show is its slew of imperfect characters: a Sherman-Paladino trademark that works well every time. Plot is secondary in Bunheads as it was in the Gilmore Girls. While the story moved swiftly in the pilot episode, what with Hubbell dying within the hour (yes, I have yet to reconcile with this), subsequent plot movements are slow.

An example: as a professionally-trained dancer herself, it would make sense that Michelle ends up teaching at Fanny's dance academy. We can see this coming a mile away but it takes seven episodes before it finally happens. Yes, the plot plods along but that's ok.

I'd much rather watch a series with strong characters who are well fleshed-out and a slow-moving plot than a show with great promise, concept and story-wise but poorly executed by a cast that fails to shine (Terranova, anyone? Yes, I'm still on that bandwagon).

It may have been gotten off to a slow start but Bunheads has proven itself to be charming in its own right.

Bunheads airs on Star World (Astro ch 711) every Friday at 9.50pm.

Oprah-Armstrong interview gets TV ratings running up the charts

Posted: 23 Jan 2013 02:45 AM PST

Between duelling divas or a shamed sportsman, you get the TV ratings running up the charts.

SO American Idol 12 (on Ntv7, Astro Ch 107, and Star World, Asto Ch 711) has begun ... and it seems like its ratings in the United States has dipped a bit, compared with last year's season opener. It's still early days, though, so it might just pick up once the actual competition – when the finalists have been chosen – kicks off.

However, as popular as AI is, last week's most talked about event had nothing to do with AI judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj's so-called on-screen rivalry. That was dope, but not as dope as the Oprah Winfrey and Lance Armstrong interview, shown on the Discovery Channel (Astro Ch 551) and TLC (Astro Ch 707).

Whether or not the interview was "staged" or rehearsed was really not the point because it still made for good TV viewing. Who wouldn't want to see a disgraced former athlete come clean over his doping accusations? Who wouldn't want to see someone who used to have such a huge influence on people, and who was a big inspiration to millions all over the world, possibly squirm in the hot seat?

Television industry analysts have noted that the interview came at a very good time for Winfrey, whose network (OWN) ratings have suffered in the past few months. That said, though, most people weren't actually interested in what Winfrey had to say ...

Apart from all those diva dramas, there were also a number of good show episodes that took place last week. The run-up episodes to the season five finale of Merlin (Diva Universal, Astro Ch 702) were pretty good, even though the grown up Mordred does not look half as menacing as the child Mordred in earlier seasons. But Merlin/Emrys' magic is finally getting stronger, which would hopefully help this week's Battle of Cammlan become one fantastic television fare.

Meanwhile, early last week the Golden Globe Awards was screened "live" on Monday over Fox Movies Premium (Astro Ch 413). It was a little boring, no thanks to the fact that most of the films nominated have yet to be released in Malaysia. Some of the TV programmes have also never been shown here, so it was a little hard to relate to things.

What we could relate to, however, was the fashion aspect of the awards and with Joan Rivers and her trendy posse – Giulianna Rancic, George Kotsiopolis and Kelly Osbourne – taking pot shots at every ugly dress on the red carpet, we were duly entertained.

Fashion Police (E!, Astro Ch 712) is really funny, especially if you're smart*** enough to figure what Rivers and gang are trying to say whenever they are "bleeped". We understand the need to keep things clean since the show is watched by viewers of all ages, but sometimes, the censorship gets a bit out of hand.

Night owls who have managed to catch a few episodes of The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV Granada, Astro Ch 735) in the past few weeks would have been a bit taken aback by how brazen some of the talk show host's guests were. Ross is a really funny guy, and he has a way of getting his guests to open up and just ... be themselves.

So far, on the show we've seen some really funny scenes. Among them: David Beckham trying to sing and being told to show off his underwear (he didn't, unfortunately), Amanda Seyfried talking about umm ... genitalia and stuffed animals, Simon Cowell relentlessly being teased, Christina Ricci getting spooked by a fern and Kiefer Sutherland revealing how underwear is an optional clothing item for him.

If you're a fan of sitcoms, try and catch 2 Broke Girls (8TV, Astro Ch 708) and Ben And Kate (Star World). The former is about two down and out girls in New York who are trying to make ends meet by working at a cafe, and selling cupcakes on the side. The wonderfully funny Kat Dennings star in 2 Broke Girls, while Jennifer Coolidge is a recurring guest star.

Ben And Kate revolves around siblings Ben, the "useless" one, and his more responsible younger sister Kate, and her five-year-old daughter. Together with a bunch of quirky friends, the siblings go through their daily lives filled with accidental adventures and mishaps.

It might sound like your typical, run-of-the-mill sitcom, but Ben And Kate showed some clever writing in the first few episodes. Hopefully the rest of the episodes in the debut season would be just as good.

Got a TV programme you would like us to check out? Tweet us at @MyStarTwo or e-mail us at with your suggestions.


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

UEM Land’s eco condo gets good response

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 05:35 PM PST

Wednesday January 23, 2013

CYBERJAYA: UEM Land Holdings Bhd's Symphony Hills eco-friendly high-rise condominium Verdi Eco-Dominiums here sold 60 units within a week of its soft launch recently, managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim said.

The condominium, a gated compound spanning 9.16 acres, is part of the 98-acre strata residential development of Symphony Hills in Cyberjaya.

Symphony Hill is the country's first Connected Intelligent Community (CIC), offering dwellers smart-home features and inter-unit connectivity via high-speed broadband.

This will enable residents to make announcements through a centralised communication system, as a benefit of the combined technology of Cisco Systems Mesiniaga.

A total of six acres of the compound has been reserved for landscaping.

"The development is scheduled to be completed in four years," Wan Abdullah said at a press preview of the project.

Petronas Dagangan targets robust growth

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 05:29 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Petronas Dagangan Bhd (PetDag), the retail arm of national oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd, is targeting a 5% to 7% revenue growth for 2013, said managing director and chief executive officer Aminul Rashid Mohd Zamzam.

Speaking to the media after the company's 2013 outlook presentation yesterday, he said PetDag would allocate over RM500mil as capital expenditure (capex) for its domestic operations and over RM200mil for its regional operations this year.

"We are generating the capex from our internal funding," he said, adding, "This year, we are not targeting any acquisitions as we are focusing on strengthening our newly acquired companies."

It had been earlier reported that PetDag had completed the acquisition of six downstream companies in South-East Asia.

Aminul Rashid said that at present, the regional operation's contribution to revenue was relatively small and would take some time to grow.

The company plans to further strengthen its position as the largest retail network operator in the country and is strategising to increase its retail business market share to between 32% and 34% or about an additional 60 new Petronas stations and 740 Kedai Mesra this year.

"The retail business contributed almost 50% to our total profit, which makes it our highest contributor to earnings," Aminul Rashid said.

On expanding its retail business into other countries in the region, Aminul Rashid said it was common knowledge that the retail business was very competitive and that the company would prefer to expand its market share in the domestic market before considering making a foray into other countries.

He said PetDag had no plans to introduce any new product this year, as it was comfortable with its current stable of fuel products and would like to focus on differentiated services instead, for instance, the "Twin Stations" service.

At the moment, PetDag is the market leader for the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and commercial business segments. The company is targeting to increase its market share for LPG and commercial business from 57% to 58% and from 63% and 65%, respectively.

Its lubricant business is now positioned as the second-largest by way of market share and the company is expecting to increase its market growth to between 25% and 27%.

"The lubricant business has high potential for growth and we are working towards increasing its distribution network. We are also targeting to enter the Vietnamese motorist market while strengthening our position in Thailand and the Philippines," Aminul Rashid said.

PetDag ended 16 sen lower at RM22.64 on volume of 533,600 shares yesterday.

M'sia among 5 Asean countries assigned inaugural ratings of AAA to BB1 by RAM

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 05:25 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: RAM Rating Services Bhd has assigned its inaugural sovereign ratings of between AAA and BB1 to five Asean countries Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

The ratings were assigned under the new rating global and Asean scales launched by the agency as part of its global initiative.

The two rating scales compared and measured the best companies globally and in Asean, respectively, for their credit worthiness their ability to pay on a timely and adequate manner.

RAM's rating scale ranges from AAA to D, with a AAA-rated sovereign having superior capacity to meet its financial obligations while a sovereign rated D means country is currently in debt default.

The different rating categories between AAA and D signify relatively weaker payment capacity compared to a previous category.

For example, a BBB rating denotes moderate capacity to meet financial obligations which is less strong compared to an A rating, which means adequate capacity.

Chief executive officer Foo Su Yin told StarBiz that the rating agency's decision to focus on sovereign ratings for the five Asean economic heavyweights at the onset was in line with its global aspirations.

"The Asean bond markets are on a steep developmental curve, supported by ongoing regulatory reforms targeted at easing capital flows and promoting greater financial integration.

"Hence, the introduction of sovereign ratings is opportune and in line with the more integrated Asean,'' she added.

She said the five countries displayed economic expansion that had generally outpaced global growth and remained relatively resilient through the financial turmoil experienced by advanced economies in 2009.

The underlying strength of the region's largest economies stemmed from a variety of factors, which included a track record on price stability, well-diversified external trade structure and robust overall banking sector, Foo noted.

Meanwhile, RAM in its Public Finance Ratings (January 2013) Publication (Leading Asean Sovereigns) said the five countries also exhibited improving external strength through the build-up of foreign-exchange reserves due to consistent current-account surpluses key factors in arriving at the respective ratings.

This was especially true for the region's more export-oriented economies such as Malaysia and Singapore, it added, noting that the region's overall debt burden had substantially been reduced favourably throughout the decade in comparison with other economic regions.

Moving forward, RAM said Asean would be taking on a greater role in facilitating global trade and finance through the realisation of Asean Economic Community by 2015.


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Fazilla aims to stay hot

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 05:22 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Forward Fazilla Sylvester Silin has been on fire in the Spanish Hockey League.

And she hopes to carry on her free-scoring form for Malaysia in the World League second round in New Delhi from Feb 18-24.

Fazilla and midfielder Siti Noor Amarina Ruhaini went to play for Barcelona-based club Castelldefels for 10 weeks in the Spanish League last October to gain experience.

Fazilla was in her element, emerging as the club's top scorer and second on the league scorers' chart with 14 goals in nine matches. Siti Amarina, on the other hand, netted five times from penalty corners.

Castelldefels are now second in the 10-team league and Fazilla and Siti Amarina will return to Spain when the league resumes on March 1.

Fazilla, who has 90 international caps, is excited at the prospects of helping Malaysia reach the 2014 World Cup from the World League second round. Besides Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Japan, Fiji, Russia and hosts India are the other competing teams.

Only two teams will qualify for the World League semi-finals where 16 countries will battle for the eight spots to the World Cup.

The 26-year-old Fazilla believes she is a better player now after playing in the Spanish League.

"I have learned new things and also improve my skills. It was a dream come true to play in Spain.

"I am more confident in my game now. As the key forward, I hope to give my best and also score in all the matches in New Delhi," said Fazilla, who scored five goals and was named as the Player of the Tournament in the World League round one in Kuantan last year.

Fazilla believes that Japan and India will pose the biggest threat to Malaysia's hopes of finishing in the top two in New Delhi.

"Japan are the top seeds while India are seeded second. We are only seeded fourth behind Russia. I hope we can defy the seedings and grab one of the spots to the World League semi-finals," said the Sarawak-born Fazilla.

Meanwhile, defender Nor Hasliza Ali and midfielder Noriani Abdul Rashid have recovered from their knee injuries and will also feature in the competition.

"We have 22 players in training. We will drop four before the team leave for New Delhi on Feb 8," said S. Shamala, the senior vice-president of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC).

"We are arranging three friendlies against the local Indian sides before the start of the tournament," added Shamala.

Former national goalkeeper Mohd Nasihin Nubli is the coach of the team.

Whole national diving squad to train in China for six weeks

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 05:25 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: The National Sports Council (NSC) have given the go-ahead for the entire national diving squad to be based in Dali, China, for six weeks.

Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM) secretary Edwin Chong was pleased with NSC's decision.

"We will take all the elite squad divers to train in Dali for the new challenges this year," added Edwin.

There are 16 divers in the elite squad, including four – Mohd Nazreen, Mohd Danial, Loh Zhiayi and Nor Dhabitah Sabri – who were promoted at the start of the year.

"The divers will probably be going before the Chinese New Year (Feb 10-11). The purpose of this training stint is to get the seniors and juniors to focus on learning their routines without any distractions.

"Over here, there are just too many distractions.

"We want the divers to learn new routines. It will be hard for them to be competitive if they are unable to come up with new routines.

"The juniors, especially, have a lot to catch up outside the country as they have yet to be comfortable with the more difficult dives.

"That is why we requested for NSC to send all the juniors and seniors to China as it is time for them to learn new things to get ready for the next Olympic cycle," said Edwin.

Edwin added that there is a possibility Bryan Nickson Lomas will join the trip to China if he makes the cut for the FINA Diving World Series starting in March.

Bryan wanted to take a break this year to concentrate on his sports science studies at Universiti Malaya but he may get an invite to dive in the Diving World Series in the individual 10m platform event.

The Diving World Series is only for the top-eight ranked divers in the world and has been expanded to six legs from four previously.

Beijing hosts the opening round from March 15-17 and this will be followed by stops in Dubai, Edinburgh, Moscow and two in Mexico.

"The deadline has been extended to the end of this month and we will know whether he gets in or not. If he is going, then we have to discuss with him where he is competing. It will be better for him to join the team to train in China to prepare for the Diving World Series."

There are two major events for the divers this year. They are the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, and the World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona. Both are being held in July.

Malaysia won a medal at the World Aquatics Championships for the first time when Pandelela Rinong and Leong Mun Yee bagged a bronze in the 10m synchro platform in Rome in 2009.

Pandelela has finished fifth twice in the women's 10m platform individual final and there is hope she can improve on the showing this time after her historic exploits at the London Olympics last year.

The 19-year-old became the country's youngest ever Olympic medal winner when she took a bronze in the women's 10m platform.

Pandelela also bagged two silver medals at the last World University Games in Shenzhen in 2011. The two silvers – in individual and synchro platform with Mun Yee – were the only medals Malaysia won.

Wen Yan hungers for more titles after winning medals at AYOF

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 05:25 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: The year has got off to a great start for Choo Wen Yan and the shooter is now hungry for more titles this year.

The 20-year-old made an impressive debut at the recent Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) in Sydney where he won a gold and a silver.

Wen Yan shot a personal best of 664.7 points in the 10m air rifle to finish ahead of China's Li Hang (662.9) and compatriot Abdul Hadi Abd Malek (660.7) on Thursday. It was his first win at international level.

Two days later, Wen Yan returned to the Sydney International Shooting Centre in Cecil Park where he shot 599.6 in the his pet event, the 50m pistol, to take silver behind China's Wu Jiayu (606). Australia's Kristian Callaghan was third on 596.2.

"To be honest, I was expecting to medal at both events. I was happy to come away with one gold and one silver but I never expected to improve my personal best. It really took me by surprise," said Wen Yan.

Wen Yan will now turn his sights on two events – the Selangor Shooting Championships and Milo-NSC-SportExcel First Malaysian Junior Shooting Championships. Both events will be held simultaneously at the Subang Shooting Range from Jan 31-Feb 3.

"The next competition is in 10 days' time and my aim is to do better than I did in Australia," said Wen Yan who will be competing in both the 10m air rifle and 50m free pistol events.


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G. Willow Wilson - Woman of two worlds

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 01:56 AM PST

G. Willow Wilson's books show both beauty and hard truths of life in the Middle East.

WRITER G. Willow Wilson is used to standing out, whether as a white American in her adopted country Egypt, or as a headscarf-wearing Muslim woman in her Seattle home in America.

"I'm like a dual foreigner," she says on the telephone, while putting the younger of her two daughters, three-month-old Safeya, to sleep.

Yet straddling two cultures has helped the 31-year-old bring out three critically acclaimed books in the same number of genres: a graphic novel Cairo, a memoir The Butterfly Mosque and last year's Alif The Unseen, her first novel, which has been named one of the top books of 2012 by The New York Times and Washington Post.

"There are some days you want to look and be like everyone else. It's less tiring, but it's also wonderful as a writer to take one step back," she says.

Wilson, who never uses her first name (Gwendolyn), has published several graphic novels with big names such as DC, Vertigo and Marvel, but first captured comics readers' attention in 2008 with Cairo, an exquisite depiction of the clash of cultures in the Middle East. Published by Vertigo, it was nominated for an Eisner, the comics industry's equivalent of an Oscar.

Two years later, Grove Press published The Butterfly Mosque, a lyrical memoir of the writer's time in Egypt, where she worked as a high school teacher and occasional stringer for periodicals such as the Atlantic Monthly from 2003 to 2007.

The book covers her culture shock in a city steeped in tradition but sans American supermarkets, and also follows her romance with fellow teacher Omar, now her husband.

However, what really won the rave reviews was her candid discussion of why she converted to Islam – a year before moving to Cairo, while doing an Islamic Studies course at Boston University – and how she tried to negotiate a space between the culture she came from and the life she adopted.

"The Middle East is a part of the world that Americans are very unfamiliar with and suspicious of," says Wilson, who moved back to the United States with Omar in 2007 so as not to lose touch with her family and friends. "I thought this could be a book about the difficult things about being a convert and a Muslim in a post-9/11 world."

The daughter of two atheists, she decided in her late teens that Islam fulfilled her need for a monotheistic faith. Her family was and is supportive – her father is an engineer, her mother is in finance and her younger sister is an epidemiologist – but she finds the wider American public less tolerant.

This negative perception is fuelled by the efforts of a few bad apples, whether terrorists or some of the regimes in the Middle East that suppress free speech and human rights. Wilson does not shy away from these issues and brings them up determinedly, especially in Alif The Unseen, a fantasy tale set in the reality of the Internet-fuelled Arab Spring (the book was reviewed in October in these pages).

Topical now, the novel was a hard sell back when she started writing it in 2010. As an eyewitness to the growing online community in the Middle East, she wanted to write about the development of "Blogistan", where people could speak freely about political topics. However, she was unable to convince the editors of The Butterfly Mosque, who "didn't understand how essential these communities were becoming".

So she put it in fiction instead. "We open our minds in a way for fiction that we don't for non-fiction," she says.

The manuscript was sent to her agent in January 2011, as protesters occupied Cairo's Tahrir Square, a major step in removing the government of then president Hosni Mubarak. It was a tough time, as she and Omar worried about the family members he left behind, and also coped with becoming new parents – their first daughter Maryam was born in February.

Her in-laws stayed safe and with things more settled now, she is thinking of moving back to Cairo in a few years once the girls are older.

"I imagine we'll be back full-time, probably in a couple of years. Obviously for my husband, there's family and history, and for me, there are things I came to love about Egypt and North Africa.

"And it's easier to be a foreigner in a foreign country than in your own," adds the writer, who has navigated a steep re-learning curve in the past five years, figuring out the mechanics of adult life in the US – "tracking down health insurance, renting an apartment, buying cars", among others.

"It was very strange for me to come back and have culture shock in my own country," she says. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Memoir of a Muslim boy growing up in the West

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 01:38 AM PST

What goes into making the perfect gentleman? The author of a delightful memoir on being a Muslim boy growing up in the West tells us.

MEETING Imran Ahmad after reading his book The Perfect Gentleman is rather surreal; it feels like you know entirely too much about a person you've just met, thanks to his honest, endearing and witty memoir.

You know, for instance, that he secretly wore pyjama bottoms under formal trousers when he was young, because the material irritated his skin otherwise. You know he was secretly tempted to bash in the head of a racist school bully with his briefcase (and yes, he carried a briefcase to school). You know that he secretly imagined himself to be a cross between James Bond and Simon Templar. You even know that, as a teenager, he agonised over what he was supposed to do on his wedding night.

So open is Imran about his experiences, thoughts and emotions of being a Pakistani Muslim growing up in London that you forget you're reading an autobiography and he begins to feel more like an absorbing fictional character – which can be rather odd when that character is sitting in front of you having a cup of coffee.

"Unless I was absolutely honest, there was no point in writing the book," says Imran, who recently turned 50. "I wanted readers to understand my own internal, mental and spiritual development. You'll notice once I slip into the story, I write in the present tense. It's meant to be in the moment, there is no apology from the writer for 30 years ago."

Currently based in Kuala Lumpur and working with an investment company, Imran was born in Pakistan and moved to Britain with his parents at the age of one. Having attended a prestigious boys' grammar school, he went to university in Scotland where he studied chemistry, but eventually ended up working as a management consultant, in renowned corporates like Unilever and General Electric.

Originally written and self-published in 2005 as Unimagined, the book was picked up by British book retailer Waterstones in 2007. Imran, however, had his sights set on a US publisher, with dreams of getting that coveted Oprah Winfrey book endorsement. In 2012, his dream was achieved when US publisher Hachette republished the book and distributed it worldwide under its current title. The cherry on the cake? The book landed on O, the Oprah magazine, as a recommended book.

Imran's efforts to reconcile his ethnic and religious identity with mainstream Western ideals form the basis of The Perfect Gentleman, as he grapples with questions on spirituality, culture and race.

Interwoven with these are the more personal aspects of his life: cars, books, movies, friendships, first love (and heartbreak), job interviews, and so on. Imran even bravely shares his experience of agreeing to an arranged marriage, and later, after 20 years, his divorce.

He sees it as a process of acceptance and taking responsibility for his decisions.

"How are we going to be happy and empowered without being honest about what we've been through? Ninety percent of what we all go through is part of the common human experience, everyone goes through these issues and feels these emotions. People don't feel so alone when they discover that others have shared similar experiences to theirs.

A recurrent theme in The Perfect Gentleman is Imran's ambivalence towards the idea of an arranged marriage, while being confronted with the idea of falling in love. Proudly dubbing himself a feminist, Imran adds that one of his missions with the book is to end the traditional arranged marriage practice, where potential spouses are matched based on race, religion, social standing, wealth and physical appearance.

"Growing up, I always wondered, why (Westerners) married for love, and we South Asians married for anything but love. When we keep to traditions like arranged marriages, we deny that we individuals have personalities, desires and dreams. We need to be allowed to stop repressing our emotions, and be free," he says. "I never thought I would come to a place in my life where my ex-wife, my daughter and I would all be happy, and on excellent terms with each other, but it happened. That is the real miracle of my life."

A large part of the book's narrative also deals with Imran coming to terms with his spirituality. Often being the only Muslim in his social circle, he spent much of his life struggling with matters of faith – both his own and others'.

"For me, the book was always a spiritual journey. It takes a long time to break the bonds that we've been conditioned with, but when it comes to religion, the important thing is to let go of tribalism, and focus on our common humanity. My little contribution to the world, if I may say so, is to promote this. I want to re-humanise Muslims to the rest of the world."

Despite the thought-provoking issues he raises, the book remains consistently light and readable, thanks to Imran's inherently humorous writing style and ability to make his experiences relatable.

"I absolutely did not want to make it a miserable book!" he asserts. "My life wasn't miserable; I mean, there were certain dark aspects, but I wanted to keep the book light and moving forward. I tend to take a philosophical attitude towards my negative experiences. After all, even the racist bully in school provided a necessary narrative and drama in my book."

Imran is by no means done with sharing his life's stories. He's already got a sequel drafted out, with plans for a third book as well.

"I've always had a compulsion to write, I just didn't know what to write about. Earlier, writing my personal story seemed too sensitive, but as I became older, I realised my book was already written in my head!" he says.

Currently single and having settled into his new life in KL (he's been here for about two years now), Imran is looking forward to beginning life anew. He continues to look for his ideal woman, whom he says is "intelligent, elegant, successful, independent, vivacious, active, spiritually aware, and doesn't actually need a man to look after her.

"She will challenge me, not bring me tea. And she definitely won't iron my shirts; mine are all non-iron, in any case!

"Being in a completely new environment and free from baggage, I feel young and full of potential. I think we should all dare to dream and believe that we can have life, love and happiness. Why not?"

Imran Ahmad will be making an appearance at Kinokuniya Bookstores, Suria KLCC, today at 6pm. For more information on The Perfect Gentleman and its author, visit


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Emotional performance by Gurmit Singh in Taxi! Taxi!

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 02:04 AM PST

Singaporean funnyman Gurmit Singh draws from personal failures to portray a retrenched professor turned taxi driver in Taxi! Taxi!.

THANKS to his ebullient portrayal of the iconic curly-haired, Singlish-speaking, Ah Beng-looking contractor Phua Chu Kang (PCK) from the hit comedy series of the same name, Gurmit Singh is irrefutably one of Singapore's most successful funnyman.

While his character Phua may claim to be "the best contractor in Singapore, JB and some say, Batam", Gurmit's achievements as an actor far surpasses that, nabbing five Asian Television Awards for Best Comedy Performance By An Actor and a nomination for best actor at the prestigious Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards – solidifying his position as a top notch, well-loved comedian in Asia.

Indeed, "don't pray pray", as Phua would say.

With so many local and international accomplishments, viewers readily presume that Gurmit is only used to tasting success. The 47-year-old who was recently in town to promote Singapore-Malaysian production Taxi! Taxi! shakes his head and flashes a knowing smile at the mention of this misconception.

"Before I became a successful comedian, my whole life was about being a failure. I was bad in school. When I was in class, I didn't understand what was going on, I felt really stupid. I always ended up at the bottom 10 positions. To make things worse, my two younger sisters scored top 10 positions in contrast. I felt like I wasn't a real member of the family, I felt like I was adopted," Gurmit recalls his childhood years.

Lo and behold, success later found Gurmit when he landed a hosting gig on variety show Live On 5 in 1994. Life was never the same again for the comedian whose father worked as a security guard and his mother, a housewife. Even so, he later realised his success in show business came at the expense of something else.

"As a husband and a father, I felt like a failure," he candidly reveals. In the past 16 years, the multi-hyphenate star – comedian, actor, host and singer – is involved in at least two projects (five, at the height of his career) that takes place simultaneously each day.

"So when I come back, they (the children) are asleep and I leave before they are awake," he says.

Professionally, though an established artiste under broadcast giant MediaCorp, he is not spared from harsh criticisms, stating "the industry can be very cruel, it can put you up on a pedestal one day and the next day, they're not happy with you." Gurmit has been lambasted for his overuse of Singlish from as far back as his portrayal of PCK and while hosting Singapore Idol besides drawing flak for allegedly "showing off" his Lamborghini last year.

Meanwhile, he also admits to suffering from an inferiority complex to the extent of causing him to stop hosting Miss Singapore Universe pageants. "It's a mind thing, but I feel that the audience in the studio and the people at home watching on TV are saying, 'Can that ugly thing just move away?'" he told Yahoo! Singapore early last year.

Perhaps it is heartaches and failures such as these that help Gurmit better portray Professor Chua, the protagonist in his latest movie Taxi! Taxi!. The comedy-drama is inspired by the book, Diary Of A Taxi Driver: True Stories From Singapore's Most Educated Cabdriver, which chronicles the experiences of real-life PhD researcher Dr Cai Mingjie who gets laid off after working for 16 years. Following a series of unsuccessful job interviews, he is forced to turn to taxi driving.

In walks a nosy, uneducated taxi driver, Ah Tau (Mark Lee), who takes the newbie under his wings and forges an unlikely friendship with him. Over time, the two men confide in each other about their personal struggles. Chua weaves a web of lies to hide his stint as a taxi driver, afraid that he will disappoint his family. Ah Tau, too, has been lying to his son, protecting him from the knowledge that his mother has ran away.

"I felt a sense of affiliation when I first read the script. My father became a taxi driver after he retired. I also love driving, so I thought this is going to be fun and gratifying in so many levels," Gurmit explains his enthusiasm for the role.

But unlike most of his defining comedic roles, Professor Chua is considerably more serious and emotional. Unknown to many Malaysian viewers, Gurmit has played a number of dramatic roles in the past, acting as a stern father in Shiver and the captain of a fire brigade in Lifeline.

But shedding his loud, boorish PCK image proved to be a challenge at first. "A lot of my friends would text me and say, 'where were the punchlines?' or 'how come you're not funny?' but eventually warmed up to the character after a few episodes," he shares.

In Taxi! Taxi!, Gurmit puts his acting chops to the test especially in two emotionally-charged scenes where his character is reduced to tears. He says it isn't so difficult to cry anymore, opining that fatherhood has helped him tap into his sentimental side.

He plans to take on more serious roles in the future, comparing his career trajectory to that of a Hollywood actor: "I've always likened my career path to Tom Hanks'. He started with Splash and other larger-than-life comedies and moved on to romantic comedies like Sleepless In Seattle before finally landing his breakthrough dramatic role Philadelphia."

Still, this by no means infer that Gurmit will completely cut off his comedic roots, though he says a revival of PCK Pte Ltd would be highly unlikely. "My philosophy is if you've reached your peak, that's when it should end. Don't keep at it until people start hating it. Then you would not have done justice to the character," he shares.

Gurmit is also glad that the pool of comedy actors is widening, with the introduction of fresh talents like Dr Jiajia (Chua Jin Sen) who plays as Ah Tau's son in the movie. The endearing seven-year-old actor is a YouTube sensation in Singapore, garnering over three million views and 16,000 Facebook followers so far.

When asked if he would consider taking his comedic acts to YouTube, Gurmit doesn't think he will jump on the bandwagon though he agrees the video-sharing site is a great platform to discover new talents and has "expanded comedy".

Taxi! Taxi! opens in cinemas nationwide on Thursday.

British film director Michael Winner dies at 77: wife

Posted: 21 Jan 2013 10:33 PM PST

LONDON: British film director Michael Winner, who made the violent thriller "Death Wish" and become a restaurant critic in later life, has died at the age of 77, his wife said on Monday.

Winner had been ill for some time and after a spell in hospital last year died at his home in the upscale west London district of Kensington, Geraldine Winner said in a statement.

"Michael was a wonderful man, brilliant, funny and generous. A light has gone out in my life," said his wife, who married Winner two years ago but had known him for half a century.

Winner's film career spanned more than 50 years and he worked with major stars including Marlon Brando, Robert Mitchum and Faye Dunaway.

But his biggest hit remained "Death Wish", in which a liberal architect played by late actor Charles Bronson becomes a vigilante following the murder of his wife and rape of his daughter. He also directed two sequels.

In later years Winner reinvented himself as a restaurant critic for Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times newspaper.

His weekly column "Winner's Dinners" invariably featured a photograph of Winner posing with restaurant staff or his famous friends in exotic locations, alongside his outspoken opinions on the food.

Winner also became something of a cult figure after his catchphrase in a television advertisement for car insurance - "Calm down, dear" - was used by Prime Minister David Cameron in reference to a female opponent in parliament.

But he also took part in charitable work and established a memorial trust for police officers following the murder of female police constable Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984.

Until November last year he was also a frequent user of Twitter, on which he described himself as "a totally insane film director, writer, producer, silk shirt cleaner, bad tempered, totally ridiculous example of humanity in deep shit."

His health declined in recent years after he acquired a bacterial infection from an oyster in Barbados in 2007 and he was admitted to hospital in late 2011 with food poisoning from steak tartare.

In 2012 he said in an interview with The Times that he had carried out research into the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland regarding assisted suicide after liver specialists said he had as little as 18 months to live.

"I'm very happy to snuff it. I've had enough time on earth. I'd be happy if someone gave me the plug to pull," he said.-AFP


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Kelantan govt applies for injunction against Petronas

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 06:17 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The Kelantan government filed an injunction in High Court here to prohibit Petroleum Nasional Berhad from paying to the Federal Government cash payments other than the Kelantan government.

The injunction was filed by Kelantan government which was represented by its economic planning, finance and welfare committee chairman Datuk Husam Musa through Messrs Tommy Thomas at the High Court Registry Tuesday.

The Kelantan government had named Petroleum Nasional Berhad and the Malaysian Government as the first and second defendants.

In the application, the plaintiff Kelantan government had applied for an interlocutory injunction prohibiting the first defendant whether by itself, its agents, servants or otherwise from paying to the Federal Government the cash payment.

The injunction was to compel the first defendant to place the cash payments into a syariah-compliant account.

It was also to compel Petroleum Nasional to prepare an account detailing all past payments made by Petroleum Nasional to the Federal Government and to furnish such information by way of an affidavit within 14 days of any order of the court.

They had also applied for the costs and occasioned by this application and other relief to be paid by Petroleum Nasional.

PM offers to help unite Fatah and Hamas

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 06:05 AM PST

GAZA CITY: Malaysia has offered to help unite rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas.

The first Malaysian Prime Minister to visit Palestine, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak expressed support for a reconciliation plan to end the division between the two Palestinian movements.

"A unity government is within reach," the Prime Minister said after being conferred an honorary doctorate by the al-Aqsa University in East Jerusalem Tuesday.

He said that peace and prosperity could only be achieved through unity, a belief strengthened by Malaysia's success in facilitating talks in the Southern Philippine to end four decades of conflict that had killed over 120,000 people.

"Should it be needed, we stand ready to offer you the benefit of that experience.

"Malaysia, always a friend of the Palestine people, is willing to help facilitate the reconciliation plan in whichever way we can," he said.

A split between the two groups in 2007 led to the West Bank being governed by Fatah and the Gaza Strip by Hamas.

The two sides signed a reconciliation plan sponsored by Egypt in May 2012.

Najib, who was in Gaza on a humanitarian visit, said his commitment to a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian issue was clear.

"We wish to see an independent, unified Palestine, enjoying the peace and security which all the world's peoples deserve."

While describing himself as a friend of the Palestinians, he paid tribute to Malaysians for commitment to their cause.

"It is my people who reach out with offers of assistance, who give what they can to help the people here, who keep Palestinian innocents in their thoughts whenever there is violence here," Najib said.

He said this commitment could be seen in the funds and medical supplies donated to a Malaysian solidarity charity mission and those who travelled to Palestine to disburse them.

Earlier, crossing the Egyptian border into Gaza by land, Najib, accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, was met on arrival by the Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.

Najib, who was accorded an official welcome, laid the foundation stone to rebuild the Gaza administrative office building destroyed during an Israeli attack in November last year before visiting a school project initiated by Malaysia.

Najib and Rosmah later departed for Cairo where the Prime Minister called on Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Malaysia and Egypt then signed a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement.

The Prime Minister will be leaving for Cairo on Wednesday for Davos in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.

Toddler crushed to death by falling TV

Posted: 22 Jan 2013 05:35 AM PST

ALOR SETAR: A 29-inch television set that fell off the shelf and crushed a toddler to death at his home in Kampung Masjid Lama, Telok Chengai, near here, Monday.

In the 10pm incident, Muhammad Luqhman Hakim Lazzuan was said to be playing near the television stand.

His father, Lazzuan Ishak, 37, said he was bathing when it happened while his wife, Waida Kasim, 27, was performing her prayers.

"My mother was watching my son while I bathed, but she didn't know how it happened.

"I rushed out of the bathroom after I heard a loud crashing sound and found the television and metal rack had fallen onto my son," he told reporters here Tuesday.

He said he and his brother then took the child to a private hospital for treatment but the toddler was pronounced dead upon arrival at the emergency room due to head and chest injuries.

Police classified the case as sudden death.

Kota Setar police chief ACP Adzaman Mohd Jan said post-mortem results indicated critical injuries to the head. - Bernama


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