Rabu, 30 Januari 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio


Marvellous cartoons

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 02:02 AM PST

Fans of Marvel's characters rejoice – there are some exciting new animated shows coming your way.

REMEMBER that exhilarating rush of fun and excitement you felt after you watched The Avengers movie last year? If you are looking for more of that, then look no further than the upcoming line-up of Marvel animated TV shows this year on Disney XD (Astro CH617).

According to Cort Lane, vice president of television and animation production for Marvel, 2013 promises to be an exciting year for fans of Marvel and cartoons in general, as the comic publishing giant looks to ride on the wave of popularity garnered by the success of The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man movies in 2012.

The three series' that have been lined up for 2013 are Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk And The Agents Of S.M.A.S.H., and Marvel's Avengers Assemble. Of the three shows, Ultimate Spider-Man is the only one that is not a brand new show, having recently started its second season in the United States.

Lane said during a phone interview that the success of the recent Marvel feature films has managed to widen Marvel's audience to not just comic fanboys, but to kids and non-comic fans as well.

"The movies have been so successful, and kids love them as well! We've pick the elements (in the movie) that worked well, and incorporated them in our shows," said Lane. "We have certainly been inspired by Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of Iron Man, and Nick Fury is so integral to the movie, so we put those elements in our shows as well. Agent Phil Coulson is also a big character in Ultimate Spider-Man, and is played by Clark Gregg himself!"

According to Lane, Ultimate Spider-Man has been doing very well in Malaysia, and it's a show that is resonating with kids worldwide. "There have been certain things we've done with that show that haven't been done with Spider-Man in a show or a film before, like making it funnier, and forming a link with the rest of the Marvel universe," said Lane. "We've also got characters like Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, and Wolverine appearing in Ultimate Spider-Man, which we're doing more of in season two!"

One of the two new shows being rolled out this year is Hulk And The Agents of S.M.A.S.H. (which according to Lane, stands for "whatever Hulk wants it to stand for!").

"The Hulk was the breakout character in the Avengers movie, and since then we've been transforming the character both in the comics and in the shows from an angry monster to more of a hero," said Lane.

"In this series, he is surrounded by other Hulks, who form a team and a family of sorts. The show has a lot of comedy, a lot of world destroying threats, and of course, a lot of smashing!"

The Hulk is not the only character from the blockbuster Avengers movie that is getting the animated treatment. Marvel Avengers Assemble is a new show that focuses on the main characters from the movie, and then some. "The show takes a lot of cues from the movie. Its tone and the characters are very much inspired by the movie," Lane explained, adding that the leader of the group will be Iron Man, with Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and rookie character Falcon (who will be a major character in the next Captain America movie) making up the rest of the team.

"The show has some of the most amazing animation that Marvel has ever done, with a very cinematic look and feel, and a little bit more realistic in terms of human proportions."

Lane, who has been a fan of Marvel's comics since 10 and whose first comic book was The Avengers #161 back in 1977, reckons that the reason Marvel's characters are so popular is because people can relate to them. For instance, Peter Parker is just an average high school kid with teenage problems, who just happens to save the world once in a while.

"Marvel characters are unique in that they are so flawed, so real and so relatable that you just can't help but care about their fate," he said. "You want them to win that much more because they have so much to work against."

Besides the movie aspect, the Marvel animation team also works closely with the comic publishing side of the company, and have even incorporated many storylines and plots from the comics. In fact, Brian Michael Bendis, writer for the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series, is one of the consultants on the Ultimate Spider-Man show as well. "We've incorporated some things we liked from the comic to the show, like the involvement of Nick Fury in Peter Parker's life, the new version of the Green Goblin as a big monster and also the portrayal of Aunt May in the comic," said Lane, who would still rather not to just blindly copy what the movies or comics do for the TV shows. "The primary audience for comics in the US are adults, but in the case of the show, we are trying to reach out to kids, so we have to tone it down and add a few other cool elements as well. With these animated shows, we're really trying to create the best show for kids, and if adult fans can enjoy it as well, then that's even better!" he concluded.

You can catch Marvel's animated shows on Disney XD (Astro CH 617). Check your Astro guide for specific airtimes.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates


Israel hits Syria arms convoy to Lebanon - sources

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 08:29 PM PST

BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) - Israeli warplanes bombed a convoy near Syria's border with Lebanon, sources told Reuters, apparently targeting weapons destined for Hezbollah in what some called a warning to Damascus not to arm Israel's Lebanese enemy.

Gas masks are seen on a table at a distribution point at a shopping mall in Pisgat Zeev, an urban settlement in an area Israel annexed to Jerusalem after capturing it in the 1967 Middle East war, January 30, 2013. A spokesperson for the Israeli postal service, responsible for the distribution of the protective kits, said on Wednesday that demand for the kits at distribution centers had doubled since the beginning of the week. Israeli forces attacked a convoy on the Syrian-Lebanese border overnight, a Western diplomat and regional security sources said on Wednesday, as concern has grown in the Jewish state over the fate of Syrian chemical and advanced conventional weapons. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Gas masks are seen on a table at a distribution point at a shopping mall in Pisgat Zeev, an urban settlement in an area Israel annexed to Jerusalem after capturing it in the 1967 Middle East war, January 30, 2013. A spokesperson for the Israeli postal service, responsible for the distribution of the protective kits, said on Wednesday that demand for the kits at distribution centers had doubled since the beginning of the week. Israeli forces attacked a convoy on the Syrian-Lebanese border overnight, a Western diplomat and regional security sources said on Wednesday, as concern has grown in the Jewish state over the fate of Syrian chemical and advanced conventional weapons. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Syrian state television accused Israel of bombing a military research centre at Jamraya, between Damascus and the nearby border, but Syrian rebels disputed that, saying their forces had attacked the site. No source spoke of a second Israeli strike.

"The target was a truck loaded with weapons, heading from Syria to Lebanon," said one Western diplomat, echoing others who said the convoy's load may have included anti-aircraft missiles or long-range rockets. Several sources ruled out the presence in the convoy of chemical weapons, about which Israel has also raised concerns.

Diplomatic sources from three countries told Reuters that chemical weapons were believed to be stored at Jamraya, and that it was possible that the convoy was near the large site when it came under attack early on Wednesday.

However, there was no suggestion that the vehicles themselves had been carrying chemical weapons.

The raid followed warnings from Israel that it was ready to act to prevent the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad leading to Syria's chemical weapons and modern rockets reaching either his Hezbollah allies or his Islamist enemies.

A source among Syrian rebels said an air strike around dawn (4:30 a.m. British time) blasted a convoy near the border. "It attacked trucks carrying sophisticated weapons from the regime to Hezbollah," the source said, adding that it took place inside Syria.

Syrian state television said two people were killed in a dawn raid on the military site at Jamraya, which lies in the 25-km (15-mile) strip between Damascus and the Lebanese border. It described it as a scientific research centres "aimed at raising the level of resistance and self-defence".

It did not mention specific retaliation but said "these criminal acts" would not weaken Syria's support for Palestinians and other groups engaged in "resistance" to Israel.

Several rebel sources, however, including a commander in the Damascus area, accused the authorities of lying and said the only attacks at Jamraya had been mortar attacks by insurgents.

A regional security source said Israel's target was weaponry given by Assad's military to fellow Iranian ally Hezbollah.

"This episode boils down to a warning by Israel to Syria and Hezbollah not to engage in the transfer of sensitive weapons," the source said. "Assad knows his survival depends on his military capabilities and he would not want those capabilities neutralised by Israel - so the message is this kind of transfer is simply not worth it, neither for him nor Hezbollah."

With official secrecy shrouding the event, few details were corroborated by multiple sources. All those with knowledge of the events - from several countries - spoke anonymously.

"MOCK RAIDS"

There was no comment from Hezbollah or the Israeli government. Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV said only that Israeli warplanes had carried out "mock raids" over southern Lebanon on Wednesday night, close to the Syrian border.

Israel's ally the United States declined all comment. A Lebanese security source said its territory was not hit, though the army also reported a heavy presence of Israeli jets through the night after days of unusually frequent incursions.

Such a strike or strikes would fit Israel's policy of pre-emptive covert and overt action to curb Hezbollah and does not necessarily indicate a major escalation of the war in Syria. It does, however, indicate how the erosion of the Assad family's rule after 42 years is seen by Israel as posing a threat.

Israel this week echoed concerns in the United States about Syrian chemical weapons, but its officials say a more immediate worry is that the civil war could see weapons that are capable of denting its massive superiority in airpower and tanks reaching Hezbollah; the group fought Israel in 2006 and remains a more pressing threat than its Syrian and Iranian sponsors.

Israeli officials have said they feared Assad may be losing his grip on some chemical weapons, including around Damascus, to rebel groups which are also potentially hostile to Israel. U.S. and European security sources told Reuters they were confident that chemical weapons were not in the convoy which was bombed.

Wednesday's action could have been a rapid response to an opportunity. But a stream of Israeli comment on Syria in recent days may have been intended to limit surprise in world capitals.

The head of the Israeli air force said only hours before the attack that his corps, which has an array of the latest jet bombers, attack helicopters and unmanned drones at its disposal, was involved in a covert "campaign between wars".

"This campaign is 24/7, 365 days a year," Major-General Amir Eshel told a conference on Tuesday. "We are taking action to reduce the immediate threats, to create better conditions in which we will be able to win the wars, when they happen."

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, set for a new term after an election, told his cabinet that Iran and turmoil in Arab states meant Israel must be strong: "In the east, north and south, everything is in ferment, and we must be prepared, strong and determined in the face of all possible developments."

Israel's refusal to comment on Wednesday is usual in such cases; it has, for example, never admitted a 2007 air strike on a suspected Syrian nuclear site despite U.S. confirmation of it.

By not acknowledging that raid, Israel may have ensured that Assad did not feel obliged to retaliate. For 40 years, Syria has offered little but bellicose words against Israel.

(Additional reporting by Mariam Karouny and Oliver Holmes in Beirut, Myra MacDonald in London, Mark Hosenball in Washington and Reuters bureaux; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by David Stamp)


Related Stories:
Syria says Israel attacked military research centre

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

New York Times says targeted by China hackers after Wen report

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 08:07 PM PST

BEIJING (Reuters) - The New York Times said on Thursday that Chinese hackers had "persistently" attacked its computers over the past four months since the paper published a story on Premier Wen Jiabao, but sensitive material related to the report was not accessed.

The New York Times said the attacks coincided with its report last October that Wen's family had accumulated at least $2.7 billion (1.7 billion pounds) in "hidden riches". China said at the time the report smeared its name and had ulterior motives.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao poses during the family photo at the 15th ASEAN-China summit meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, November 19, 2012. REUTERS/ Samrang Pring

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao poses during the family photo at the 15th ASEAN-China summit meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, November 19, 2012. REUTERS/ Samrang Pring

"For the last four months, Chinese hackers have persistently attacked The New York Times, infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees," The Times said on Thursday.

"Security experts hired by The Times to detect and block the computer attacks gathered digital evidence that Chinese hackers, using methods that some consultants have associated with the Chinese military in the past, breached The Times's network."

The hackers broke into the e-mail accounts of Shanghai bureau chief, David Barboza, who wrote the story on Wen's family, and Jim Yardley, the paper's South Asia bureau chief in India who was previously the Beijing bureau chief, it added.

"Computer security experts found no evidence that sensitive e-mails or files from the reporting of our articles about the Wen family were accessed, downloaded or copied," said Jill Abramson, the paper's executive editor.

Security experts found evidence that the hackers stole the corporate passwords for every Times employee and used those to gain access to the personal computers of 53 employees, most of them outside The Times's newsroom, the paper said.

"Experts found no evidence that the intruders used the passwords to seek information that was not related to the reporting on the Wen family."

Computer security experts at Mandiant, the company hired by the newspaper, said the hackers tried to "cloak" the source of their attacks "by first penetrating computers at United States universities and routing the attacks through them".

"This matches the subterfuge used in many other attacks that Mandiant has tracked to China."

The Chinese government has repeatedly said it opposes hacking and that China too suffers frequently from these kinds of attacks.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Egypt curfew scaled back as Mursi seeks end to bloodshed

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 07:32 PM PST

CAIRO/BERLIN (Reuters) - Egyptian authorities scaled back a curfew imposed by President Mohamed Mursi, and the Islamist leader cut short a visit to Europe on Wednesday to deal with the deadliest violence in the seven months since he took power.

Riot police move in to detain anti-Mursi protesters during clashes in Simon Bolivar Square, which leads to Tahrir Square, in Cairo, January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Riot police move in to detain anti-Mursi protesters during clashes in Simon Bolivar Square, which leads to Tahrir Square, in Cairo, January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Two more protesters were shot dead before dawn near Cairo's central Tahrir Square on Wednesday, a day after the army chief warned that the state was on the brink of collapse if Mursi's opponents and supporters did not end street battles.

More than 50 people have been killed in the past seven days of protests by Mursi's opponents marking the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Mursi imposed a curfew and a state of emergency on three Suez Canal cities on Sunday - Port Said, Ismailia and Suez. That only seemed to further provoke crowds. However, violence has mainly subsided in those towns since Tuesday.

Local authorities pushed back the start of the curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. in Ismailia and to 1:00 a.m. in Port Said and Suez.

"There has been progress in the security situation since Monday. Calm has returned," Suez Governor Samir Aglan said.

Mursi, speaking in Berlin before hurrying home to deal with the crisis, called for dialogue with opponents but would not commit to their demand that he first agree to include them in a unity government.

He sidestepped a question about a possible unity government, saying the next cabinet would be formed after parliamentary elections in April.

Egypt was on its way to becoming "a civilian state that is not a military state or a theocratic state", Mursi said.

The violence at home forced Mursi to scale back his European visit, billed as a chance to promote Egypt as a destination for foreign investment. He flew to Berlin but called off a trip to Paris and was due back home after only a few hours in Europe.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met him, echoed other Western leaders who have called on him to give his opponents a voice.

"One thing that is important for us is that the line for dialogue is always open to all political forces in Egypt, that the different political forces can make their contribution, that human rights are adhered to in Egypt and that of course religious freedom can be experienced," she said at a joint news conference with Mursi.

SPIRIT OF REVOLUTION

Mursi's critics accuse him of betraying the spirit of the revolution by keeping too much power in his own hands and those of his Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement banned under Mubarak which won repeated elections since the 2011 uprising.

Mursi's supporters say the protesters want to overthrow Egypt's first democratically elected leader. The current unrest has deepened an economic crisis that saw the pound currency tumble in recent weeks.

Near Cairo's Tahrir Square on Wednesday morning, dozens of protesters threw stones at police who fired back teargas, although the scuffles were brief.

"Our demand is simply that Mursi goes, and leaves the country alone. He is just like Mubarak and his crowd who are now in prison," said Ahmed Mustafa, 28, a youth who had goggles on his head to protect his eyes from teargas.

Opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei called for a meeting of the president, ministers, the ruling party and the opposition to halt the violence. But he also restated the precondition that Mursi first commit to seeking a national unity government.

The worst violence has been in the Suez Canal city of Port Said, where rage was fuelled by death sentences passed against soccer fans for roles in deadly riots last year.

After decades in which the West backed Mubarak's military rule of Egypt, the emergence of an elected Islamist leader in Cairo is probably the single most important change brought about by the wave of Arab revolts over the past two years.

Mursi won backing from the West last year for his role in helping to establish a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians that ended a conflict in Gaza. But he then followed that with an effort to fast-track a constitution that reignited dissent at home and raised global concern over Egypt's future.

Western countries were alarmed this month by video that emerged showing Mursi making vitriolic remarks against Jews and Zionists in 2010 when he was a senior Brotherhood official.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said ahead of Mursi's visit that the remarks, in which Mursi referred to Zionists as "descendants of apes and pigs" were "unacceptable".

"NOT AGAINST JEWS"

Asked about those remarks at the news conference with Merkel, Mursi repeated earlier explanations that they had been taken out of context.

"I am not against the Jewish faith," he said. "I was talking about the practices and behaviour of believers of any religion who shed blood or who attack innocent people or civilians. That's behaviour that I condemn."

"I am a Muslim. I'm a believer and my religion obliges me to believe in all prophets, to respect all religions and to respect the right of people to their own faith," he added.

Egypt's main liberal and secularist bloc, the National Salvation Front, has so far refused talks with Mursi unless he promises a unity government including opposition figures.

"Stopping the violence is the priority, and starting a serious dialogue requires committing to guarantees demanded by the National Salvation Front, at the forefront of which are a national salvation government and a committee to amend the constitution," ElBaradei said on Twitter.

Those calls have also been backed by the hardline Islamist Nour party - rivals of Mursi's Brotherhood. Nour and the Front were due to meet on Wednesday, signalling an unlikely alliance of Mursi's critics from opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy dismissed the unity government proposal as a ploy for the Front to take power despite having lost elections. On his Facebook page he ridiculed "the leaders of the Salvation Front, who seem to know more about the people's interests than the people themselves".

In a sign of the toll the unrest is having on Egypt's economy, ratings agency Fitch downgraded its sovereign rating by one notch to B on Wednesday.

(Additional reporting by Tom Perry, Yasmine Saleh and Marwa Awad in Cairo, Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia and Stephen Brown and Gernot Heller in Berlin; Writing by Peter Graff)


Related Stories:
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Mursi - Egypt will be state of law, new parliament will choose government
Curfew in Egypt city reduced to three hours - governor
Mursi says sees Egypt economy growing 5.5 percent in 2014

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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Djokovic lights up starless Davis Cup

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 07:07 PM PST

PARIS: World number one and newly-crowned Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic goes straight back into action in the Davis Cup this weekend while his Grand Slam rivals skip the opening round.

The Serb, who collected his fourth Melbourne title and sixth career major with victory over Andy Murray on Sunday, just about catches his breath before leading his country into their World Group opener against Belgium.

However, the 113-year-old competition is not the powerful draw card it once was.

World number two Roger Federer, fourth-ranked David Ferrer as well as world number seven Juan Martin del Potro have opted not to turn out for Switzerland, Spain and Argentina respectively.

Murray's British team does not have a match while 11-time major winner Rafael Nadal also misses Spain's trip to Canada as he completes his recovery from the knee injury which has kept him off court for seven months.

Djokovic and ninth-ranked compatriot Janko Tipsarevic, who spearheaded Serbia's first Davis Cup title in 2010, should help their country prevail over Belgium in Charleroi. The home side's top player David Goffin is ranked only at 50.

"The Davis Cup title came in the right moment. I believe that feeling of sharing one of the biggest titles in our sport with my team for our country, in our country, was one of the best feelings I experienced as a player," said Djokovic, who skipped the tournament in 2012.

His absence last year was felt as Serbia were defeated in the quarter-finals by eventual champions Czech Republic.

Spain, winners three times in the last five years, and runners-up to the Czechs in 2012, travel to Vancouver without their three top players - Nadal, Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro, who has a leg injury.

Almagro has been replaced by world number 85 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, which should mean Marcel Granollers, the world 34, and 51st-ranked Albert Ramos, will play singles.

Canada's top player is big-serving Milos Raonic, who stands at 15 in the world while, in the shape of Daniel Nestor, they boast one of the world's most accomplished doubles players.

In Geneva, the Czechs tackle Switzerland who will be looking to world number 17 Stanislas Wawrinka to win his singles on Friday and Sunday and compensate for the absence of Federer.

Marco Chiudinelli, the world 139, will have to play the second singles for a Swiss side who have never got beyond the first round in eight years.

World number six Tomas Berdych leads the Czechs who are trying to avoid becoming the first defending champions since Spain in 2005 to lose in the first round.

They have a good record against Switzerland, having won six of the eight meetings between the two nations.

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, who have lost all three finals in which they have appeared and are without 2009 US Open winner Del Potro, tackle Germany.

Juan Monaco, the world number 12, leads Argentina but Germany boast two top-30 players in Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer.

The United States, who have won the Davis Cup a record 32 times, face Brazil in Jacksonville. Brazil's last win over the Americans came back in 1966.

The US will be led by John Isner and Sam Querrey, both in the top 20, and the hosts can also call upon doubles kings Bob and Mike Bryan, who claimed a record 13th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last weekend.

In the other first-round ties, Italy welcome Croatia to Turin, France host Israel at Rouen while Kazakhstan play Austria in Astana. - AFP

Paris Open: Bartoli wins after Fed Cup recall, Kvitova advances

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 07:01 PM PST

PARIS: French number one Marion Bartoli celebrated her recall to the country's Fed Cup team on Wednesday with a battling 7-5, 6-1 second-round win over American Christina McHale at the Paris Open.

Earlier in the day captain Amelie Mauresmo ended Bartoli's nine-year exile from the international stage by naming her in a five-player squad to face Germany in next month's World Group II first-round tie in Limoges.

The world number 10 will be joined in the French team by Alize Cornet, Kristina Mladenovic, Virginie Razzano and Pauline Parmentier.

"I'm very happy to return to Fed Cup," Bartoli said in her post-match news conference, citing her relationship with two-time Grand Slam champion Mauresmo as a factor in her return.

"The communication was always there with Amelie, it happened bit by bit.

"I talked a lot with my dad. He supported me in my project and in my decision because he only wants me to be happy," added Bartoli, whose long-term absence from the team stemmed from her insistence on having her father and coach, Walter, by her side during the competition, a demand that contravened team rules.

Bartoli, runner-up to Angelique Kerber in last year's final, was forced to call upon her fighting spirit in the first set in the French capital, fending off four set points on McHale's serve at 4-5 before eventually breaking to level.

The third seed then made further inroads in her opponent's subsequent service game as a fortuituous bounce off the tape ultimately handed Bartoli the opening set.

With the momentum fully in Bartoli's favour, she broke McHale twice more in the second set to earn a quarter-final showdown with Germany's Mona Barthel, who came from a set behind to knock out Italian fifth seed Roberta Vinci.

Meanwhile, second seed Petra Kvitova overcame bouts of inconsistency as she edged past Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele in straight sets.

Seeking to put her early-season blues behind her after poor displays in Brisbane and Sydney were compounded by a second-round exit at the Australian Open, world number eight Kvitova experienced little resistence early on from Voegele, racing 4-0 ahead.

But the Czech then began to misfire as Voegele, ranked 100, forced a tie-break before Kvitova restored order to close out the first set.

The 2011 Wimbledon champion was again far from convincing in the second but she eventually prevailed 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 to set up a last-eight match with either French teenager Mladenovic or Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, who ousted Russia's Anastastia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 (9/7), 4-6, 6-3.

Sixth seed Lucie Safarova avoided a third consecutive first-round exit in Paris as she fought back from a set down to beat Spain's Lourdes Dominguez Lino, while Kiki Bertens and Magdalena Rybarikova also progressed to the second round. - AFP

Vijay Singh denies knowingly violating doping rules

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 06:58 PM PST

SCOTTSDALE (Arizona): Former world number one Vijay Singh denied knowingly using a substance that violated the PGA Tour's anti-doping policy, saying Wednesday he was angry about the situation.

In a Sports Illustrated article published Tuesday, the Fijian was linked to a two-man company called Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS) and its deer antler spray that purportedly helps athletic performance.

The spray contains IGF-1, an anabolic hormone that boosts muscle growth and is banned by all major sports organizations.

Singh, three weeks shy of his 50th birthday, admitted using the spray but said he had no idea it violated PGA anti-doping rules and added that he was cooperating with a PGA Tour investigation into the matter.

"While I have used deer antler spray, at no time was I aware that it may contain a substance that is banned under the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Policy," Singh said in a statement.

"In fact, when I first received the product, I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substances.

"I am absolutely shocked that deer antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position.

"I have been in contact with the PGA Tour and am cooperating fully with their review of this matter."

The article said PGA players were warned about the deer antler spray in 2011 after PGA player Mark Calcavecchia was told by the tour to stop endorsing another spray by SWATS.

In the story, Singh said he used the spray "every couple of hours" and used special chips and a beam ray the company claimed would enhance his body.

"I'm looking forward to some change in my body," Singh was quoted as saying in the story. "It's really hard to feel the difference if you're only doing it for a couple of months."

Singh's 34 career PGA triumphs include three major titles, at the 2000 Masters and the 1998 and 2004 PGA Championships. - AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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RAM Ratings: Malaysia economy to grow 5.3% in 2013

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 06:40 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: RAM Ratings expects Malaysia's economy to expand by 5.3% in 2013 and pick up pace to 5.8% in 2014, underpinned by robust demand and recovery of the external environment.

In its Economic Outlook report issued on Thursday, the ratings agency said domestic private consumption was anticipated to record healthy growth due to favourable labour-market conditions, aided by a slew of government initiatives and handouts.

As for global conditions, RAM Ratings expected a gradual recovery this year "as policymakers in systemically important economies adopt an accommodative stance in an attempt to combat their respective structural deficiencies".

On the domestic front, it expected healthy growth in private consumption, supported by favourable labour market conditions following the government's initiatives and handouts.

RAM Ratings also expected private investment to expand further, supported by the improved business environment and relatively accommodating interest rates.

"While fiscal policy remains supportive of economic activity, the growth of public expenditure should moderate to meet the government's longer-term fiscal-consolidation objectives and as the 'public-private partnership' method of financing has assumed a larger role in funding various development projects," it said.

The ratings agency also expected Malaysia's exports to improve, in line with the revival of certain advanced economies.

It expected domestic monetary and financial conditions to remain relatively stable this year.

On the Overnight Policy Rate, it said Bank Negara Malaysia was "likely to adjust the upwards by 25 to 50 basis points this year", in response to persistent domestic credit growth and as longer-term inflationary pressures begin to develop.

On the ringgit, RAM Ratings said the local currency retained considerable upside potential because of its strong fundamentals.

In its outlook for the domestic bond market, RAM Ratings expected it to strengthen in 2013, with estimated gross issuances by the government at RM90bil to RM95bil. It expected the private debt securities to be around RM95bil to RM100bil.

"The authorities' supportive fiscal stance and improvements in the domestic business environment will continue underscoring market activity," it said.

TMC: Peter Lim unaware of plan to inject a hospital into the company

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 06:32 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: TMC Life Sciences Bhd said its major shareholder Singapore billionaire Peter Lim was not aware of a plan to inject a hospital into the company as reported by a local weekly.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, TMC Life said the board did not receive any notification of Lim's plan of injecting the Iskandar hospital into TMC Life.

On Monday, a business weekly reported that TMC Life would add a S$200mil (RM499mil) hospital under its name in Iskandar Malaysia's medical hub.

The report said Lim was looking at putting a 200-bed hospital that was being constructed in the area, under TMC Life's management.

It also added that the executives were uncertain at that point in time if the company would own the S$200mil hospital.

The news report also said the hospital, which is to be completed by 2015, was expected to be the catalyst for the growth of the medical hub.

Meanwhile, on Jan 19, it was reported that Tan Sri Vincent Tan had increased his stake in TMC Life to 32.27% from 31.06% in the previous month, via Berjaya Corp Bhd. This brought his stake closer to TMC Life's major shareholder Lim's stake at 32.59%.

If either shareholder hit the 33% mark, they would be required to make a mandatory general offer for the remaining shares in TMC Life.

Yesterday, TMC Life's shares rose to an intraday high at 38.5 sen. However, the counter closed 1 sen lower to 37 sen at 5pm. At closing, about 1.6 million shares exchanged hands.

Weak demand to weigh on CSC Steel's earnings

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 06:00 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Hong Leong Investment Bank (HLIB) Research expects weak demand and low hot rolled coil feedstock for CSC Steel's products to continue to weigh on CSC Steel's fourth quarter earnings (Q4, 2012).

It said on Thursday CSC Steel's the Q412 earnings would be 10%-15% weaker versus Q3, 2012 to RM5.3mil to RM5.6mil, making up the full-year earnings to RM27.7mil to RM28mil. Its projected full-year net profit was RM30.8mil.

HLIB Research said despite the expected weak earnings, it believes CSC would likely maintain its generous dividend payout, which is close to 100% of its 2012 net profit, given its strong balance sheet (with net cash of 66.3 a share as at Sept 30, 2012).

It said based on its revised projected 2012 net profit, it expected a net dividend per share of 7.0 sen versus 8.0 sen previously for 2012, translating to a decent dividend yield of 6.0%.

"Although the recent global steel price recovery (which started since December 2012) may help boosting CSC Steel's near-term earnings, we remain cautious on CSC's medium-term outlook as concerns on overcapacity in China will continue to linger," added the research house.

HLIB lowered its 2012-14 net profit forecasts by 0.4% to 15% to RM28mil, RM33.8mil and RM47.7mil respectively, largely to account for lower earnings before interest and tax margin assumptions.

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Kong: AES to continue operating especially during CNY

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 06:13 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: All the 14 Automated Enforcement System (AES) cameras would continue operating as usual, especially during the Chinese New Year period, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha.

He said the cameras would support the traffic enforcement programmes by agencies such as the Road Transport Department (JPJ) and the police.

"Since the AES programme was launched, there has been a change in the attitude of drivers who travel through the AES installation zones, especially in the accident-prone roads.

"This shows that the AES has been effective in saving the lives of motorists," he said in a statement Wednesday.

Kong said around 1,500 JPJ officers would be deployed at various places while traffic safety campaigns would be held by the Road Safety Department (JKJR) throughout the festive period.

"JPJ officers will also go undercover and act as bus passengers to enforce the traffic regulations against bus operators.

"They will also carry out inspections at bus depots and terminals and at accident hotspots during the festive period," he added.

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Najib wants forensic report on security guard’s death submitted to Cabinet

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 06:05 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has requested that the forensic report on the death of security guard C. Sugumaran be submitted to the Cabinet.

He has directed Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai to do this after MIC president Datuk Seri G Palanivel raised the issue in Cabinet.

The party's strategic director S. Vell Paari said a second post-mortem will be conducted on the security guard who died after allegedly being beaten by police and the public after he ran amok in Taman Sri Nanding, Hulu Langat last Wednesday.

The first post-mortem showed he had died of a heart attack.

Vell Paari said MIC Youth would hold discussions with PKR leaders who have been assisting the family to identify an independent pathologist to undertake the second post-mortem.

"We want to consult them as we don't want them to accuse us of hiding anything," he said Wednesday.

In Putrajaya, a delegation led by MIC Youth Information chief S. Subramaniam handed over a memorandum to the Home Ministry requesting that a special commission be set up to investigate Sugumaran's death.

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Man, daughters jailed for trafficking, abusing maid

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 05:39 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: A salesman and his two daughters were found guilty by the Sessions Court for trafficking in a Cambodian housemaid, about two years ago here Wednesday.

Yeow Kim Bok, 54, and student Yeow Sheh Yan, 25, were sentenced to three years' jail each, while single mother of two, Yeow Sheh Li, 33, received a one- year imprisonment.

Judge Ahmad Zamzani Mohd Zain ruled that the defence had failed to dent the prosecution's case.

The trio committed the offence on Neak Ban, 25, at a house in Taman Sri Sinar Segambut, Sentul here at 1.30pm on Aug 3, 2011.

The judge further sentenced Yeow to six months' jail and fined him RM1,000 for voluntarily causing hurt to Neak by punching her and ramming the foreigner's face against a wall at the house at 9am on the same day.

He also meted out the same punishment to Sheh Yan for voluntarily causing hurt to Neak by punching, slapping and kicking her back at the house between 6pm on Aug 2 and 9am on Aug 3, that year.

Sheh Yan was sentenced to another three months' jail and fined RM3,000 for obstructing Insp M. Sathiyaseelan from carrying out his duties by kicking his leg at the same place at 1.30pm on Aug 3, 2011.

Meanwhile, Mona Ooi Jia Yi, 22, a student, was sentenced to three months jail for obstructing Lance Corporal Noor Diana Nasaruddin from handcuffing Sheh Yan at the same place and time.

Judge Ahmad Zamzani ordered the jail terms on Yeow and Sheh Yan to run concurrently, effective Wednesday.

However, the court allowed the application by counsel Saranjeet Kaur Sidhu, who was representing the four, for a stay of execution of their sentences, pending an appeal to the High Court. - Bernama

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Stallone plays a hitman

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 04:00 AM PST

In Bullet To The Head, Sylvester Stallone plays a hitman who teams up ... with a cop.

A TEAM-UP between two polar opposites is not uncommon; we've seen it many times in movies and TV shows. Bullet To The Head, the new film starring Sylvester Stallone, takes it further by having a cop become partners with a killer.

Based on the French graphic novel Du Plomb Dans La TĂȘte, written by Alexis Nolent (better known as Matz) and drawn by Colin Wilson. A fan of the buddy-movie genre, Nolent wanted to write a story that fell into this category, but he wanted to push things a little past the norm.

In the production notes of Bullet To The Head provided by Nusantara Edaran Filem, Nolent says: "I thought it would be an interesting idea to have a killer teaming up with a cop – to have a bond that goes through the lines of the law and the principal of ethics and everything else ... The cop is a little more square than the hitman, who thinks outside the box. But the whole principle was that these two characters that seem to have nothing in common, have much more in common than they ever thought possible."

The clash of personalities and the conflict between the two main characters provide much of the intense drama in the film. It also naturally provides much of the humour.

Tackling the role of the assassin, Jimmy Bobo, is none other than Stallone. Apparently he was immediately attracted to Jimmy as it was a role he could sink his teeth into.

Stallone explains: "He's at peace with himself. He plays by certain rules. He doesn't go after people who, in his mind, don't deserve it."

The other half of this odd couple is Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang of Fast Five), who is all about the here and now. Kang says: "Generationally, we're completely different; morally, we're completely different; ethnically, we're completely different. Taylor represents the new generation – his eyes are always stuck on technology. Add to that, he lives by this real rigid code of honour. There's a moral integrity that's been ingrained in him for a variety of reasons.

"Jimmy Bobo comes from a generation where there was no political correctness, so he's the type of guy who just says what's on his mind."

As different as they are, they need each other to bring down a common enemy and uncover the reason for the deaths of their respective partners. Jimmy has an extra barrier to overcome when he is confronted with a betrayal from within his own group, and the discovery that – for the moment – the only person he can trust is a detective who hates his guts.

Also in the picture is Jimmy's tough and independent daughter Lisa (Sarah Shahi), a tattoo artist who's had a tough life – her mother passed away when she was very young and her father was hardly ever around.

Shahi shares: "There's been a lot of hurt and a lot of betrayal; Jimmy's been in and out of her life. He's provided for Lisa financially, but other than that, he really hasn't been there for her. But it's still an important relationship and there's definitely love there, so Sly and I worked to find a balance between letting that sort of bruised heart come across, along with the fact that they genuinely care for each other."

Wanting to add a different sort of atmosphere to the look of the film, director Walter Hill took to filming entirely in and around New Orleans, Louisiana. What the city provided was a visual noir atmosphere, akin to the graphic novel's look.

Hill, who has filmed in the city two times before this, says: "It's a very different place. The atmosphere, the weather, the architecture and the history make New Orleans in no way a typical American city, but at the same time, it is somehow extraordinarily American. I love being there."

Since Bullet To The Head features Stallone and the newer action man, Jason Momoa, it boasts some really cool action sequences, including the climax which takes place in an enormous, abandoned power plant.

This particular plant also happens to be where Hill directed his first film, Hard Times, starring Charles Bronson, in 1975. Production designer Toby Corbett remarks: "It seemed kind of appropriate and is a full circle sort of thing. It's a stunning, turn-of-the-century building, with cathedral-like windows, and huge machinery. So it lent itself to the action sequence perfectly because it's this really graphic look which sort of gives the perfect kind of framing, similar to a graphic novel."

Bullet To The Head opens nationwide tomorrow.

Cops nab 'Dazed And Confused' star after fight

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 10:39 PM PST

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Dazed And Confused star Jason London has been arrested in Arizona and charged with assault and disorderly conduct over a bar room fracas in which he is accused of throwing punches and later defecating in a patrol car on his way to jail, a police report showed on Tuesday.

The 40-year-old actor (pic), who played the main character of Randall "Pink" Floyd in the 1993 coming-of-age comedy Dazed And Confused, responded on Twitter that he was attacked and injured and that the allegations against him were false.

"I would never say or do the crap they are reporting," he said in the message on Tuesday. "Have faith in me. The truth will come out and you will see."

"Some guy thought I was hitting on his girl and had me jumped," London tweeted. "My wife was in the next room, had no idea what even happened. I hate Arizona." London is married to actress Sofia Karstens.

Police said London was at the Martini Ranch bar in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale on Sunday when an unidentified person complained London had sneezed on him and the person asked him to apologize.

Instead of apologizing, London punched the person, the report from Scottsdale police said. He was escorted out by bouncers and during that time he hit them, leading the security guards to "defend themselves" against London, it added.

A 26-year-old Martini Ranch bouncer, whose name was not released, was listed by police as a victim in the incident. London was charged with assault with intent to injure and disorderly conduct, the report said.

"London showed obvious signs and symptoms of extreme alcohol impairment," one of the responding officers wrote in the report.

Because of swelling and bruising around his right eye from the fracas, London was seen by paramedics but "became belligerent and started cursing" at them, the report said.

While seated in the back of the patrol car on the way to jail, one of the officers saw London "lean to the left and defecate in his pants" after the actor complained about the odor in the vehicle, the police report said.

London has in recent years had a number of guest appearances on television shows, such as the political drama Scandal. In 2000, he starred in the TV movie Jason And The Argonauts and in 1999 was in horror movie The Rage: Carrie 2.

Ashley Judd, hubby call it quits

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 08:18 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - American actress Ashley Judd and her Scottish race car driver husband Dario Franchitti are ending their marriage after 11 years.

The movie star, 44, and the Indianapolis 500 race car driver, 39, married in 2001 and have no children.

"We have mutually decided to end our marriage. We'll always be family and continue to cherish our relationship based on the special love, integrity and respect we have always enjoyed," a representative for the couple told People magazine in a statement on Tuesday.

No reason was given for the split.

Judd, the daughter of country music star Naomi Judd, starred in movies like Double Jeopardy and High Crimes. In recent years she has turned her attention in recent years to humanitarian work with AIDS sufferers and young people.

Judd has been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2014, although she has made no formal announcement. Media reports have said Judd, who represented Tennessee at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, might run for one of Kentucky's seats in the Senate.

Franchitti is a three-time Indianapolis 500 champion, who has also competed in NASCAR and the American Le Mans series.

He and Judd married in Scotland in December 2001 after a two-year engagement.

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Metro watch

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 03:06 AM PST

LANE CLOSURE

There is a temporary right lane closure, located immediately after the junction of Jalan Jejaka and Jalan Cheras until tomorrow (from 12am to 6am) to facilitate Mass Rapid Transit's (MRT) works in the area. For more information, visit the MRT website at www.kvmrt.com.my or www.mymrt-underground.com.my, twitter @MRTMalaysia or twitter @MyMRT Underground or call the MRT Hotline at 1-800-82-6868.

WATER DISRUPTION

Hulu Langat will experience water disruption today due to pipe removal works by Syabas at Jambatan Baru, from Jalan Bangi Lama to University Islam Selangor College, for the Public Works Department. For details, call the Customer Service Centre (Puspel) via toll free 1800-88-5252 or SMS by typing PUSPEL , and send to 39222. Alternatively, log on to www.syabas.com.my

MAINTENANCE WORKS

The KL-Kuala Selangor Expressway (Latar Expressway) will undertake maintenance and remedial works until May 2. Road users are advised to follow traffic signage and instructions by Latar workers along the affected stretch. For details, call Latar hotline 03-6145 1515 or visit www.latar.com.my

MIDNIGHT CLOSURE

The SMART Highway will be closed to traffic today from 11pm till 6am tomorrow to facilitate routine maintenance to the motorway tunnel system. For enquiries, contact the SMART Helpline at 1-300-88-7188.

BLOOD DONATION

Columbia Asia Hospital–Seremban will be organising their first blood donation drive for the year today from 10am till 2pm at Level 1, North Wing, Columbia Asia Hospital–Seremban (New building). For details, contact 06-603 3988 (Rachel) or visit www.columbiaasia.com

FREE FORUM

Tropicana Medical Centre will be organising a free public forum on "The Hormone Theory of Aging" at Tropicana Medical Centre, Level 7 Auditorium on Feb 2 from 10.30am to 1pm. Admission is free. To RSVP, contact Mei Yee (03-6287 1206) or Huda (018-288 6789), or email your full name and contact number to meiyees@tropicanamedicalcentre.com

USM REUNION

Former Universiti Sains Malaysia student T. Balasubramaniam is organising a get-together for USM's '75 students and friends from all faculties in the 1970s. It will be held at noon on Feb 3 at Kelab PJ. For details, call 03-7877 8714 (Narane) or 012-208 9544 (Bala).

SABAH NIGHT

NGO Qaseh Bonda (Persatuan Ibu Tunggal Warga Sabah Lembah Klang) will be organising the "2nd Sabah Nite 2013" on Feb 3, at Dewan Perdana Felda, Kuala Lumpur, from 5pm to 11pm. There will be an exhibition on Sabah State Development, tourism, culture and food, performances, lucky draw and awards presentation. Seats are available from RM180 onwards. For details, call 019-292 2887 (Kartini).

High-profile district to include Harrods Hotel

Posted: 30 Jan 2013 03:04 AM PST

THE Government aims to designate a premier shopping district for the country in its quest to become a high-income nation by the year 2020, said Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin.

"The district is none other than Bukit Bintang and KLCC (BB-KLCC) and where Harrods Hotel will be located," he said, adding that this was in line with the nation's Tourism National Key Economic Area (NKEA).

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for Harrods Hotel held at the Seri Melayu Restaurant in Jalan Conlay yesterday, Nong Chik said with Kuala Lumpur ranked the fourth best shopping destination in the world and second in Asia-Pacific, there was no doubt that the country would continue to attract huge investors like Qatar Holding to the country.

"Generating RM58mil in tourism-related receipts through 24.7 million visitors, Malaysia offers a fruitful and growing investment opportunity.

"The emergence of Qatar Holding acts as a catalyst for future investments and this is a good sign. This shows that our initiatives to make Kuala Lumpur an international class city under the Greater Kuala Lumpur-Klang Valley NKEA have been worthwhile," said Nong Chik, adding that the ministry would fasttrack large-scale developments in the city provided they met the requirements of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

He said with such global recognition, the country's tourism sector would see even more foreign investments, generating revenue that would in turn spur economic growth.

Also present at the groundbreaking ceremony were Qatar Holding vice-chairman Dr Hussain Ali Al-Abdulla, Jerantas Sdn Bhd corporate representative Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Ismail and Tradewinds Corporation Bhd group chief executive officer Shaharul Farez Hassan.

In his opening speech, Dr Hussain praised the stability of the Malaysian Government and its pragmatic policies that had created a conducive investment environment for institutions such as Qatar Holding.

"Malaysia is an attractive tourist destination and this convinced us that Kuala Lumpur is ideal for a Harrods Hotel," he said, adding that the abundance of skilled and highly-trained workforce as well as the country's rich agricultural commodities were also part of the reasons for their investment.

The integrated development of Harrods Hotel spans 5.48 acres and will comprise two residential towers, an office building and a retail podium, with direct connectivity to the award-winning Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

The hotel will be strategically located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle — at the intersection of Jalan Raja Chulan and Jalan Conlay.

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Dr Chua: People need elected representatives with the ability and organisational network to serve efficiently

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 05:45 PM PST

BEWARE is the advice for Johoreans when they are being wooed by Pakatan Rakyat leaders who promise to bring change to them after the general election.

These opposition leaders would only station an assistant to serve the people if they got voted in.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek in issuing this warning ahead of the 13th general election, said the people need elected representatives who have the ability and organisational network to serve efficiently.

"We are still living in a developing country and there are many problems on the ground, especially those in small towns and rural areas which need the attention of the elected representatives.

"These elected representatives must know the community well, always be accessible to the rakyat and able to listen to their problems and help to resolve them.

"Having an assistant or proxy to do the job is not the answer," he said.

The Pakatan Rakyat, particularly DAP, has been boasting of sending their national leaders to Johor to create a "tsunami" in the upcoming polls.

The Pakatan has also declared to make Johor their frontline state this round.

Dr Chua, also Johor MCA chief, urged the people not to be taken in by Pakatan's populist policies like abolishment of toll, promise of free education all the way, abolishment of PTPTN loans and RM4,000 monthly household income for the rakyat if they made it to Putrajaya.

He said these policies, if and when implemented, would cost the government RM200bil a year, and the country would go bankrupt within two years from its implementation.

Meanwhile, Dr Chua also pointed out that the DAP which promised changes for the people was not in any position to deliver.

Citing Kedah as an example, he said the DAP had helped PAS to win the state in the last elections, but unable to do anything when the PAS-led government imposed its Islamic values on non Muslims.

Dr Chua said the only abattoir in Kedah was demolished, cinemas must have the lights on and males and females were not allowed to be seated together in public places.

He said more restrictive rulings were in the pipeline, and the latest was on Chinese New Year stage performances.

Dr Chua said the Kedah government had stated that artistes must be "conservatively attired" - the chest, armpits and thighs - must not be exposed.

This was against the freedom of non-Muslims to choose their attire, he said adding that the cheongsam which was popular during Chinese New Year was also subjected to the state government's scrutiny now.

The guidelines, he added, also stated that the songs must not be "hot or modern" and performances must not be overboard, failing which the authorities would stop the performance on the spot.

Dr Chua said the DAP's silence on this latest set of guidelines was deafening.

He said similar rulings to restrict the freedom of non Muslims would be imposed in Johor too if the Pakatan was to take over because the PAS would be the party dictating on the do's and don'ts, and not DAP.

PAS being the dorminant partner in Pakatan had infact declared that the Johor Mentri Besar would be from the party if Pakatan took over the state, he added.

On the economic front, Dr Chua said Johor's development was on a fast track and it would come to a halt if Pakatan took over the state.

He said Johor was poised to overtake Selangor in terms of development in the next five years, citing the development in Iskandar and Pengerang as the two biggest contributors to the development.

He said Johor's tourism was also set to surpass that of Malacca in the next five years.

Dr Chua said Barisan Nasional had been doing well and Johor had always been a model state.

Citing education, he said the Johor government had allocated five pieces of land, of five acres each, for Chinese primary schools after the last elections, adding that another plot in Permas Jaya had also been set aside recently.

Dr Chua said the country's economy under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was doing well.

"The Economic Transformation Programmes have yielded good results.

"Our projected economic growth this year is between 5% and 5.5% and some 300,000 new jobs are created in the country annually," Dr Chua said, adding that Malaysia's economic performance had gained the recognition and confidence of foreign countries.

Housewife cheated by syndicate which allegedly bought winning lottery ticket on her behalf

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 03:12 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: Blinded by greed, a 40-year-old housewife has been secretly handing over money to a syndicate since 2010 after they allegedly bought a winning lottery ticket on her behalf with a prize of RM1.5mil.

Susie Ng's secret however was exposed thanks to an Ah Long (illegal moneylender) who accidentally splashed her house and car with red paint last December.

Susie's husband, Ewe Hock Chye, 37, said he was shocked when he received a threatening call from the Ah Long after the incident on Dec 19 demanding for money.

"I have never gone to any Ah Long before and when I discussed the matter with my wife, I was shocked when she told me that she had borrowed from an Ah Long without my knowledge.

"When I asked her what it was for, she confessed that it was to pay a "sifu" who had supposedly provided her with a lucky lottery number that struck second prize and got her RM1.5mil," he said during a press conference at the Chinese Press Club here.

Ewe however, said that the "sifu" had told Susie that her luck was bad and negative things would happen if she just took the RM1.5mil.

"In order to cleanse her past sins and luck, the "sifu" told my wife that he would have to conduct elaborate prayers for her first before handing her the money," he said.

Susie, who was also present, then told reporters that she had been banking in sums of money ranging from RM2,000 to RM5,000 for the prayers since 2010.

"In total I have sent more than RM60,000 to the "sifu" but I only realised that I was being cheated after my husband discovered my secret and convinced me that the "sifu" was a scam," she said.

She added that she had secretly withdrew money from the couple's joint savings account to pay for the ceremonies.

"I admit that I also borrowed RM2,000 from an Ah Long when I did not have enough money but I have since repaid the debt," she said adding that she was equally shocked when her home was splashed with red paint.

Gelang Patah MCA division chief Jason Teoh, who called for the press conference said that he had personally contacted the Ah Long to sort out the issue.

"We asked the Ah Long to provide proof that he had banked in money into Susie's account but he provided us with an account number belonging to an Indian national," he said adding that it could have been a case of mistaken identity.

Jason said that as for the "sifu", he believed that there were many other victims that had fallen prey to the scam and urged those involved to lodge a police report immediately.

Meanwhile, Nusajaya OCPD Supt Norhashim Mohamed confirmed the case and said that no arrests have been made as yet.

Proud moment for Sunway College JB

Posted: 29 Jan 2013 05:45 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: Sunway College Johor Baru status as a top private education institute here received a boost after being awarded with a platinum status by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

The college upgraded its status after four years of maintaining a gold status and now has proudly received the highest status after meeting the requisite quality assurance measures and performance indicators.

Its principal Hor Poh Choo said the students have shown constant progress and met examination targets and hence making the transition from gold to platinum was possible for the college.

She said the students exceeded the ACCA's worldwide pass rate and up to date the college has nurtured five World Prize Winners and 13 Malaysian Prize Winners.

"It is a proud achievement for the college as it is the first college in the southern region in the country to receive such high recognition from ACCA, which is a renowned global body," she added.

Malaysia ACCA country head Jennifer Lopez officiated and presented the award to Hor during a ceremony held at the college here on Jan 21.

"Currently there are only five platinum approved learning partners in Malaysia and Sunway College Johor Baru is the only one in the southern region to be accredited with the status," she said during the ceremony.

To be eligible for the ACCA accounting programme at Sunway College here, applicants must have completed their Certified Accounting Technician or obtained two principal passes at STPM or an equivalent pre-university qualification.

The course would take approximately three years to be completed and the college has intakes in January and July.

ACCA is a global body for professional accountants with students and members in more than 170 countries.

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