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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

The festive touch

Posted: 10 Feb 2013 02:31 AM PST

At the heart of the Chinese New Year celebrations lies the importance of family, say a host of local celebrities.

Chinese New Year is a time for happy family reunions and massive get-togethers, abundance of food and entertainment, bright and beautiful new clothes and decorations, and for some, fascinating family traditions. Would you like to know how your favourite local personalities celebrate the lunar new year?

Owen Yap Khiam Hong
39, news anchor/tv host/actor/model

Hometown: Melaka.

Best childhood memory of CNY: I've always had good memories of CNY, because I was born on CNY eve, after the family reunion dinner. As a kid, nothing seemed to bring more happiness than seeing and enjoying a year-end Feast of Food.

Favourite CNY snack: Mandarin orange, essential snack and my favourite. My late grandma would make slices for us on the first day of CNY, before breakfast. We still keep this tradition.

Favourite CNY song: Gong Xi Gong Xi. Thanks to my parents … I have been listening to it since I was a baby, I bet.

What is special for CNY this year?: I would be celebrating the first day of CNY with all 8tv Mandarin News viewers nationwide.

Stevensunny Neoh,
36, beauty guru

Hometown: Penang.

Best childhood memory of CNY: Wearing a brand new set of LadyBirds (kid's fashion brand) on the first day.

Favourite CNY dish/snack: Granny's chicken curry, chicken 'loh bak', peanut cookies.

What is special for CNY this year?: Going to a BFF's house for reunion dinner with her parents. They are Taiwanese and came here from Hong Kong. Cool parents, I can't wait to meet them.

Beauty/fashion trends for the year of the snake: For Spring/Summer, red lips. For Autumn/Winter, colourful eyes with dark lip colour. Rock hairstyles with white hair colour.

Jane Ng Meng Hui,
29, actress

Hometown: Kuala Lumpur.

Favourite CNY dish/snack: Pineapple tarts, dried meat jerky, fried sticky cakes, peanut cookies.

What is special for CNY this year?: First CNY after I quit deejaying at a local Chinese radio station. Because I've spent quite some years without any CNY leave during my stint at the radio station, this year should be more relaxed, so I can have more free time with my loved ones.

How do you plan to spend the coming CNY?: Going back to Ipoh with my family for few days.

Karen Kong, 28, singer/actress

Hometown: Labuan.

Best childhood memory of CNY: Chasing after the lion dancers. I'd wake up immediately once I hear "Dong Qiang Dak Dong Qiang" from afar. My brother and I would join other kids and rush to see them.

Favourite CNY dish/snack: Kuih mul and Salmon Lou Sang. Every year, my mum would make kuih mul in Labuan and bring it to KL where my siblings and I are now based.

Favourite CNY movie: Steven Chow's movies. They make everyone laugh, that's the whole point of new year ... laughing together.

Henley Hii,
28, singer/actor

Hometown: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Best childhood memory of CNY: Receiving angpows from my grandmother. Among all her grandchildren, she loved me the most, because she'd give me two. One for my parents and the other for myself. My grandma passed away 10 years ago, yet receiving angpow every CNY always reminds me of that.

Favourite CNY movie: The 72 Tenants Of Prosperity directed by Eric Tsang. The movie includes lots of big names like Jacky Cheung and Eric Tsang himself. Besides being super funny, it also conveys a message to love our friends and family.

What is special for CNY this year? I get to meet my sister's newborn baby girl. Plus, my sister already has four sons, so my CNY is gonna be very lively.

Emily Tan,
27, fitness guru

Hometown: Kuala Lumpur.

Best childhood memory of CNY: Having my family together 15 years ago and making road trips to visit relatives, before my parents split up. Road trips were fun because we'd play games in the car and snack on traditional CNY cookies that my mum baked.

Favourite CNY movie: Any movie with Louis Koo, the HK actor, in it!

Most memorable CNY moment: Back in 2005 when I first returned from the US and was celebrating my first CNY as an adult. I saw things in a different light, and realised just how important family gatherings were when everybody had been working hard providing for their families. Some don't even take holidays throughout the year until CNY!

Best CNY ever: Having my mum come back from US to celebrate CNY with me and my brothers again in 2011 after six years of separation. CNY just isn't the same without your mum stocking up on CNY cookies, getting decorations and trinkets that are meant to bring you luck and going shopping for new clothes to embrace the new year while she shares stories about what CNY used to be like.

Joey Leong,
19, actress

Hometown: Kuala Lumpur.

Best childhood memory of CNY: Running around the field with my cousins playing with firecrackers and watching colourful fireworks. Making CNY albums was also very meaningful to me. It was fun to record songs in the studio and shoot music videos with a big group of friends!

Preparations for CNY: Shopping for new dresses, bags and shoes to wear on the first day until the last day of CNY! This would make me feel like a new me during the new year!

We also organised a team to visit various orphanages, senior homes and community centres for charity work. My happiness is seeing the people around me happy!

What is different for CNY this year?: It's my very last year as a teenager as I'm 19. How I wish to have fun and play like a happy child. Unfortunately, I'll have to sit for my mid-term exams from Feb 16 to Feb 26. So, I'll probably be studying while visiting my relatives or friends.


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Wall Street Week Ahead: Strong start to 2013 could be tested

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 12:27 AM PST

NEW YORK: The stock market is no stranger to strong performances in January, only to see the lofty gains early in the year transition into months of grinding action that goes nowhere.

That's what happened in 2011 and 2012, and some analysts think 2013 could follow the same routine. Markets are up this year in the face of Washington's debates over fiscal policy, but a looming deadline on spending reductions could test the gains.

"This is almost a carbon copy of last year," said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc in Toledo, Ohio.

The mentality is "ride the wave as far as you can and try not to be the last one off," Lancz said.

Major indexes recently crossed psychologically important milestones - 1,500 for the S&P 500 and 14,000 for the Dow industrials. The S&P is at its highest level in five years, while the Nasdaq finished on Friday at its highest close since November 2000, the tail end of the Internet bubble.

The current levels are more significant than Wall Street's usual fixation on round numbers. This is only the second time the Dow has reached 14,000, and the third time the S&P has hit 1,500.

That could leave the market churning as investors test whether there's enough support to reach new highs, or if a pullback is needed. The sharp gains and overall bullishness on Wall Street leave stocks vulnerable to sudden shocks, such as a flare-up of the financial crisis in the euro zone, which momentarily sidetracked the market earlier this week.


One significant hurdle is the automatic federal spending cuts that will go into effect as of March. So far, the equity market has largely ignored the back-and-forth related to delaying the so-called sequester that would trigger $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, which would hit the defense industry particularly hard.

If the cuts go ahead unchanged, that could slow economic growth this year due to the swiftness of the cuts, according to the Congressional Budget Office. While that's not as dire as the immediate threat of default presented by a possible failure to raise the debt ceiling, it isn't positive for markets.

"I don't see any grand compromise coming, largely because the markets are so complacent," said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research Group in Washington.

With the economic calendar light next week, investors could start to focus more on the political jockeying. President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday may also provide some insight into how the talks may shape up.

Valliere put a 60 percent chance on the sequester coming into effect next month while Washington scrambles to come up with a solution to alter it over the spring.

"They are way, way apart on a deal," said Valliere.

Markets may also be ignoring the political deal making because the spending cuts would go towards reducing the United States' high debt level. The CBO report, which included the cuts as they are, forecast the budget deficit will drop below $1 trillion a year after four years above that level.

But analysts are worried about the broader implications of slower growth.

"Across-the-board cuts will really be more damaging than strategic cuts," said Lancz. "If we go into recession, all cards are off the table."

The economy already unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter of last year, but more recent data suggests subsequent revisions will show the economy did in fact grow, though at a weak pace.


The future path of monetary policy will be in focus next week as several members of the Federal Reserve are scheduled to speak on the economy and policy. The central bank is currently buying $85 billion worth of assets a month as it tries to bolster the economy.

A growing number of policymakers say the Fed should taper its bond-buying when the time is right rather than bring the stimulus to an abrupt end and investors will be looking for signs of what the central bank's exit strategy may be.

The S&P 500 closed above 1,500 on Friday, though it likely faces resistance getting above 1,523.57, which would be its highest intraday level since November 2007.

Analysts say the index could ultimately make a run for the all-time high of 1,576.09.

Jeff Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial in Boston, expects the market will see a pullback in the 5 percent range, though that should present a better buying opportunity.

Kleintop suggests using the dips to buy stocks in sectors such as homebuilders and transportation.

"When you're in a trading range, you want to buy what's working."

For now, analysts are taking the market's sideways direction as a healthy move as it tries to establish a stronger base to push higher.

"To be stuck in a trading range for a period of time after having a jack-rabbit start to the year is probably a positive sign," said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York. - Reuters

Einhorn case against Apple rests on unusual legal tactic

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 12:22 AM PST

NEW YORK: Hedge fund star David Einhorn wants to force Apple Inc to share some of its huge cash reserves with investors, but his lawsuit rests on a U.S. securities rule that has little legal precedent.

Einhorn's Greenlight Capital sued the iPad and iPhone maker in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Thursday to try to prevent Apple from eliminating preferred stock from its charter. The suit is part of Einhorn's bid to pressure Apple to use some of its $137 billion in cash to issue perpetual preferred shares that pay dividends to existing shareholders.

The suit contends Apple violated Securities and Exchange Commission rules that prohibit companies from "bundling" unrelated matters into a single proposal for a shareholder vote.

Establishing that Apple violated the rules could be tricky. Little to no case law exists on the question and the SEC's own rule is relatively general with little guidance, legal experts said.

Still, James Cox, a professor at Duke University School of Law, thinks Einhorn "has a hell of good case."

"I think he's got Apple in the crosshairs," he added, saying that it "strikes me as a fairly dramatic case of bundling."

The hedge fund manager is seeking an injunction to block a February 27 shareholder vote on the proposal, saying Apple violated Section 14 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Arguments are to be heard before U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan on February 22. Apple has until February 15 to file a response with the court.

The proxy proposal at issue, Proposal No. 2, seeks to amend Apple's articles of incorporation in three ways: by providing for majority voting for directors, establishing a par value for Apple stock and eliminating its ability to issue preferred stock.

Einhorn is represented by law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Greenlight's long-time outside counsel. No lawyer for Apple is yet listed on the court docket and a representative declined to say who would represent Apple in the case.

On Friday, the California Public Employees Retirement System, the biggest U.S. public pension fund and owner of 2.7 million Apple shares, and influential proxy voting firm ISS Proxy Advisory Services both urged investors to vote in favor of the shareholder proposal in question.

"All shareholders should have a vote," Anne Simpson, CalPERS Senior Portfolio Manager and Director for Corporate Governance said on CNBC. "We don't want the board cutting a deal on the side with a hedge fund out of fear of a lawsuit that will cancel the annual meeting.

"This is a big issue that needs to be thought through carefully and we want the board to come to all shareholders and give a chance to have their voice heard.

ISS, which issues recommendations on how shareholders should vote on proxy proposals, generally believes the "bundling" of proposals was not in the best interest of shareholders, but supported the elimination of "blank check" preferred shares due to their potential to be misused as a takeover defense.

"Though many investors have viewed Apple's cash holdings as excessive and wanted to see more of it returned to shareholders, that view may not be universally held: other investors may prefer to see the cash (or at least a large portion of it) deployed for investments and acquisitions," it said in its Friday statement.


It is unclear how Apple will respond in its formal reply to the lawsuits. On Thursday, Apple said Einhorn's lawsuit was misguided and that adoption of Proposal No. 2 would not preclude preferred share issuances in future.

"Currently, Apple's articles of incorporation provide for the issuance of 'blank check' preferred stock by the Board of Directors without shareholder approval," Apple said. "If Proposal #2 is adopted, our shareholders would have the right to approve the issuance of preferred stock."

Einhorn, a well-known short-seller and Apple gadget fan, said in an interview with CNBC the company harbored a "Depression-era" mentality that led it to hoard cash and invest only in the safest, lowest-yielding securities.

Apple nearly went broke in the 1990s before Steve Jobs returned and engineered a sensational turnaround, with products such as the iPhone and iPad that became must-haves for consumers around the world. The company's near-death experience has led Apple to be exceptionally conservative with its cash.

Greenlight in its complaint said it supports two of the proposals, but not getting rid of preferred stock. Einhorn deems preferred stock superior to dividends or share buybacks and has separately put forward a proposal for an issuance of Apple preferred stock with a perpetual 4 percent dividend.

But as Apple's proxy proposal is structured, Greenlight said, shareholders have "no choice but to either vote in favor of an amendment they oppose, or against an amendment they support."

Few lawsuits have ever been filed challenging proposals under the rules, a situation some legal experts attributed to the normally passive nature of shareholders.

"In most cases you're not going to get a lot of complaining about bundling," said Brian Slipakoff, special counsel at law firm Duane Morris in Philadelphia.

In one of the few related lawsuits, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in 1999 recognized an implied private right of action by shareholders suing over alleged anti-bundling rule violations.

That precedent could back Einhorn in his legal standing to bring the case. The appeals court ruling was cited by Greenlight in additional court papers filed late on Thursday.

Francis Vasquez, a lawyer with the law firm White & Case who is not involved in the case, said Apple might argue that because the stockholder proposals in Proposal 2 are all amendments to the charter, they are properly related.

The California company has another five proposals up for a vote, which are not being challenged by Einhorn and do not involve amending Apple's charter. Those measures focus on matters such as director elections and executive compensation.

"Apple's first argument likely is going to be, 'Look, these are all amendments we put in one place, they don't have to do with the other items,'" Vasquez said.

The anti-bundling rules date from 1992. John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School, said the idea was to "prevent managements from bribing shareholders with a sweetener into voting for a proposal they would otherwise reject."

The case is Greenlight Capital LP, et al., v. Apple Inc., U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, 13-900. - Reuters

Calpers, proxy firm support Apple on preferred stock proposal

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 12:18 AM PST

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple Inc's move to eliminate from its charter the ability to issue preferred shares without first getting shareholder approval has received the support of the largest public pension fund in the United States, and an influential proxy firm.

Hedge Fund manager David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital is suing Apple to get it to deploy its $137.1 billion cash pile more effectively by issuing preferred stock, which he says is superior to dividends or share buybacks.

His lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Thursday, targets the proposal by Apple to remove from its charter "blank check" preferred stock.

That particular proposal is "bundled" with two other unrelated proposals, but will be collectively decided in a single vote, which Einhorn objected to.

The California Public Employees Retirement System, the owner of 2.7 million Apple shares, and proxy voting firm ISS Proxy Advisory Services, recommended on Friday that investors vote for Apple's proposal. Calpers had indicated its support for the proposal in a filing earlier this week, but reiterated its backing after Einhorn filed his suit.

All shareholders should have a vote," Anne Simpson, Calpers Senior Portfolio Manager and Director for Corporate Governance said on CNBC. "We don't want the board cutting a deal on the side with a hedge fund out of fear of a lawsuit that will cancel the annual meeting."

"This is a big issue that needs to be thought through carefully, and we want the board to come to all shareholders and give a chance to have their voice heard," she added.

Apple is asking shareholders at its annual meeting on February 27 to vote on the proposal. ISS said its policy supported the elimination of "blank check" preferred shares due to their potential to be misused as a takeover defense because they can be issued at the company's discretion.

"Moreover, should the board decide at some future date that an issuance such as Greenlight has proposed makes sense, and can demonstrate the benefit to shareholders, obtaining the requisite shareholder support to reinstate the provision is not likely to be an insurmountable obstacle," ISS said in a research note.

But the firm, which issues recommendations on how shareholders should vote on proxy proposals, also believes the "bundling" of proposals is not in the best interest of shareholders.

Einhorn wants Apple to separate the three issues that are part of Proposal 2, which includes the "blank check" proposal.

He holds 1.3 million Apple shares worth about $600 million at current values.

Greenlight Capital said it was disappointed ISS did not recognize the unique circumstances surrounding Apple, which has $137 billion in cash and marketable securities.

Einhorn and other investors have accused Apple of not managing the cash and marketable securities effectively, limiting returns to shareholders.

Greenlight also reiterated on Friday its call to Apple shareholders to vote against the proposal. - Reuters


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Snakes in print

Posted: 10 Feb 2013 05:57 AM PST

In homage to the creature that rules this Lunar New Year, we present a page of hissy reads.

SNAKES have such a bad rep. They're slimy, slithery evil things, many people think. That little episode with Eve in the garden hasn't helped (although I rather like that particular snake for shaking things up in the Adam household) and popular culture has chosen, by and large, to present the snake in a negative light.

I think snakes are gorgeous – cool, smooth and elegant – and have long coveted one as a pet (I don't think my cats would be pleased). I think a beautifully-patterned length of snake would be a design asset in any household, and also an inspired fashion accessory – around the wrist or the waist, or draped over the shoulders (only don't choose the sort that constrict).

Today is the first day of the Lunar new year and it's the year of the Water Snake. According to the Chinese zodiac, snakes are philosophical, insightful, fun-loving and intelligent. For babies born this year, there aren't as many books about snakes as there are about tigers, dragons, monkeys, and most of the other animals in the zodiac. There are, however, three that I feel are a must for any mini library.

Verdi by Janell Cannon is about a young python who dreads growing up because he doesn't want to be like the seemingly lazy adult snakes he sees around him. Verdi starts off bright yellow, which suits him just fine as it's a sign that he's still a young python. He loves exploring the forest, slithering all over the place and flinging himself off tree tops. When he notices a green stripe extending down the entire length of his body, Verdi tries his best to get rid of this sign of impending adulthood – with near-fatal results. Will Verdi realise that getting older isn't all bad?

Cannon's books about young animals are known for their beautiful, vibrantly-hued and realistic illustrations. Verdi, being true to its title, glows green, with touches of yellow and earth tones. Verdi's story is a compelling, entertaining one that also gives young readers an idea of the lives of pythons in the wild. In addition, "Snake Notes" at the back of the book provide an interesting list of facts about pythons and snakes in general.

Next is Crictor by the wonderful Tomi Ungerer. The titular character is a boa constrictor which an old French lady, Madame Louise Bodot, receives as a gift from her Africa-based herpetologist son. Once Madame Bodot determines that the snake is not poisonous, she names him Crictor and settles down to positively spoiling him – feeding Crictor bottles of milk, knitting him long, sleeveless sweaters, taking him for walks and making him feel at home by decorating her home with potted palm trees.

Madame Bodot is a teacher so of course Crictor goes to school and is a great favourite with the students, who use him as a slide and a skipping rope. Crictor also helps the boy scouts learn their knots and is a pro at twisting his body into the shapes of letters and numbers – what a useful snake!

But Crictor really proves his worth when he helps apprehend a robber who breaks into Madame Bodot's home. An ex-colleague once told me that he had a pet python who wrapped itself around the legs of a burglar so perhaps this bit of the Crictor story isn't as fanciful as it might appear.

My favourite thing about Crictor is Ungerer's charming pen-and-ink-wash illustrations, which are just very graceful and simple, and droll. Crictor himself, despite just being a length of green, is most expressive – it's amazing how much emotion a pair of eyes can convey.

Finally, there is My Snake Blake by Randy Siegel, with illustrations by Serge Bloch. Bloch's pictures remind me of Ungerer's with their graceful, lively and dramatic lines, light touches of colour, and interesting detail. And actually this book is a version of Crictor, as Blake, like Crictor, shows the unconverted what a delightful pet a snake can be. Also, just like Crictor, Blake is an expert contortionist. Not only can he form letters with his body, he can spell whole words and this is how he communicates with his owner ("Hello") and his owner's nervous mother ("Relax"). Blake also walks the dog, plays baseball and helps with homework. If only real snakes could do all that. Never mind, they are beautiful and that is enough.

Happy Year of the Snake!

Daphne Lee reads to wonder and wander, be amazed and amused, horrified and heartened and inspired and comforted. She wishes more people will try it too. Speak to her at and check out her blog at

Banality of evil?

Posted: 10 Feb 2013 02:01 AM PST

EIGHTY years after Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany, a novel that imagines his return to modern-day Berlin has become a bestseller in Germany, though a comedy about the Fuehrer is not to everyone's taste.

Instead of committing suicide in his bunker on April 30, 1945, in He's Back (Er Ist Wieder Da), Hitler wakes up in 2011 without the slightest idea what has happened in the intervening 66 years.

He stumbles through Berlin, dazed by the fact that Germany is now ruled by a woman and is home to millions of Turks. In one scene, the Nazi leader asks a group of boys for directions, addressing them as "Ronaldo Hitler youth". He has mistaken their football shirts bearing the name of the soccer star as some kind of military uniform.

"Who's the old guy?" the boys ask each other.

In a celebrity-obsessed world where success is often gauged by follower numbers on social networks or YouTube views, Hitler soon becomes the star of an entertainment show with a Turkish host. "You're golden my dear! This is just the beginning, believe me," his producer says.

The story, written in the first person, is dotted with rambling inner monologues like those in Mein Kampf, the treatise Hitler wrote in 1924 that Germany plans to reprint in two years, the first re-issue since 1945.

In the book, Hitler discovers jeans, tries to create an e-mail address ("Hitler89" referring to the year of his birth is already taken) and discovers cooking shows.

Such is the tone in the nearly 400-page novel by Timur Vermes, a 45-year-old journalist.

A farce in poor taste to some, a political satire to others, He's Back has done well in bookstores. With a print run of 360,000, the book recently made Germany's bestseller list and is set to be published in English and more than a dozen other languages.

The book makes its impact even before it is opened, with a cover that depicts Hitler's block-like black parted hair and the title squeezed into the shape of his trademark square moustache. The hefty 19.33 (about RM81) price tag is a none-too subtle reference to the year the Nazi party leader came to power in Germany.

Vermes, a 46-year-old ghostwriter, says the confrontational nature of the book, which has so far sold over 400,000 copies, and tens of thousands of audiobooks, is deliberate at a time when Germans appear to be obsessed by Hitler.

"The fact is we have too much of a stereotype of Hitler," he told German media. "He's always the monster and we can be comforted by the fact that we're different from him. But in reality he continues to spark real fascination in people, just as he did back then, when people liked him enough to help him commit crimes."

The book is the "latest outgrowth of a Hitler commercialisation machine that breaks all taboos to make money", wrote the weekly news magazine Stern.

Sales of the 400-page book do seem to be riding on the wave of commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of Hitler's rise to power and it has beaten novels by Paulo Coelho and Ken Follett to steal the top slot in Germany's book charts. Seventeen foreign licences have so far been sold, as well as the film rights. It is due to be published in Britain later this year.

Unthinkable even 10 years ago, Hitler is today increasingly the subject of German comedians and artists – including a comic film directed by a Jew and a burlesque musical comedy.

But this sudden popularity has triggered a mixed response by critics. "We laugh but it's a laugh that sticks in the throat," wrote Die SΓΌddeutsche Zeitung.

Germany, it adds, "has a Hitler fixation which has taken on almost manic proportions. Hitler poses in reliable frequency on magazine covers, wanders like a ghost ... through the TV channels. ... Vermes satirises this 'Hitleritis', but his novel draws on it as well and even lends it a new dimension, that of not laughing about Hitler, but with Hitler."

Daniel Erk, a journalist and Hitler expert, calls the phenomenon the "banalisation of evil". –Agencies

More slithery reads

Posted: 10 Feb 2013 01:07 AM PST

FROM Egg To Snake: Following The Life Cycle by Suzanne Slade & Jeff Yesh: Snakes symbolise many things and carry many connotations. But on a very primary level, snakes make up an intriguing part of the animal kingdom. This book exposes young readers (older ones can benefit from it too) to the life cycle of a snake, from the moment of its growth in an egg all the way to being an adult snake.

Accompanied by fun facts and illustrations, this book is a great way of finding out more about the mysterious creatures.

The Bible: The first time a serpent makes an appearance in the Bible is to trick Adam and Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. We humans do not like being tricked. Maybe that's why so many of us don't have a very nice impression of this suborder of reptiles. We associate it with something sinister.

Snakes are mentioned in the Bible a number of times, from being associated with wisdom in the book of Matthew to having Aaron's staff be miraculously transformed into a live serpent in the book of Exodus.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: Nagini the snake makes her first appearance in the fourth book of the Harry Potter series, Goblet Of Fire, and appears in every book thereafter. Deriving from Hindu and Buddhist legends, her name is the female version of the Naga (people who worship snakes and can transform into them). She is Voldemort's pet of sorts, or as he states in his diary, an intended tool to safeguard his immortality.

This is one example of how snakes are often portrayed as magical creatures or beings with some sort of supernatural power. Not a creature to be messed around.

The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket: In this second book in the Unfortunate Events series – which revolves around the lives of the orphaned Baudelaire children – events start off hopefully enough when the children are taken away from their horrible guardian, Count Olaf (who is after their inherited wealth) and placed under the care of affable Uncle Monty, a distant relative – and a passionate herpetologist.

The children are fascinated by Uncle Monty's Reptile Room and are even set to go on an expedition to Peru with him. What's the unfortunate turn of events? Poor Uncle Monty is found dead with two tiny puncture holes under his eye. And once again, the children must scramble to save themselves.

Snake by D.H. Lawrence: Snakes have not been left out of poetry either. Lawrence's poem speaks of the narrator's encounter with a snake at the water-trough. The encounter turns into a battle of conflicting thoughts and feelings as the narrator contemplates his actions towards the snake.

What The Snakes Wrote by Hazel Hutchins & Tina Holdcroft: The children's literary world seems to have a thing for literate snakes. Here we get not just one but dozens of clever snakes who together form a jumble of words in a farmer's field. Or maybe they are not just a jumble of words. Rufus the farmyard dog takes notice of their little activity and becomes curious. What can the snakes be trying to tell Rufus? – Compiled by Amanda Soo


The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Najib fetes senior citizens, disabled, orphans in conjunction with CNY

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 07:42 AM PST

KAJANG: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak feted senior citizens, the disabled and orphans from five welfare homes in Selangor to a high tea function Saturday, in conjunction with the Chinese New Year.

Najib, accompanied by his youngest son, Nor Ashman, spent about an hour at the event organised by Selangor Barisan Nasional.

He tossed the yee sang, a dish symbolising prosperity and all things auspicious, with more than 500 guests.

Rousiianna Karina Lim, 71, from the Sri Kenangan Home in Cheras, described the meeting with Najib as "a wish come true".

"This is the first time I'm meeting Datuk Seri Najib and I am so happy because I have always wanted to meet him," she said, sitting next to Najib at the event.

Ex-serviceman Awang Abdullah, also 71, said he was thrilled over Najib's presence and thanked the Prime Minister for presenting him with an ang pow.

Similar sentiments were shared by septuagenarian John Areng, who said it was his first time meeting Najib, and described it as meaningful, especially since they were celebrating Chinese New Year on Sunday.

Earlier, Najib expressed excitement to be with Penang residents to watch Korean dance phenomenon Park Jae-sang or Psy, perform his mesmerising Gangnam-style dance moves, and local singer Shila Amzah render her hits on Monday.

Psy will be the highlight of the 1Malaysia Chinese New Year Open House organised by Barisan Nasional at the Han Chiang College.

An estimated 80,000 people are expected to attend the four-hour open house, beginning 9am.

"Looking forward to delicious food in beautiful Penang tomorrow, and also excited to be with Penangites watching Psy Oppa and Shila Amzah perform," he tweeted.

On Sunday, Najib will attend a few events such as MCA's Chinese New Year Open House and high tea with Chinese community leaders. - Bernama

Claudia Theophilus' body comes home (Updated)

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 07:37 AM PST

SEPANG: The body of Malaysian journalist Claudia Theophilus arrived home Saturday night, a week after she was killed in a shooting mishap at her friend's home in Lebanon.

The Al-Jazeera producer's remains arrived on an Emirates flight at around 9.40pm at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and was immediately transported back to her family home in Taman Desa Kepayang in Seremban.

Claudia's sister Dora, who returned earlier from Lebanon where she had gone to retrieve her sister's body, said her family was deeply grateful to the Malaysian embassy in Lebanon, Umno Youth's complaints bureau and Al-Jazeera for their help and support.

Reading off a prepared statement earlier in the day, she appealed against continued speculation over circumstances surrounding her sister's death as investigations were ongoing.

"Those who wish to pay their last respects to my sister may attend the wake from Sunday afternoon at the family house.

"The funeral will be held at 10am on Monday at the Church of Visitation in Seremban," she said at a press conference, declining to field questions from journalists.

Umno Youth complaints bureau chairman Datuk Muhammad Khairun Aseh, who organised the mission to retrieve Claudia's body, said the facts of the case gathered by Lebanese authorities indicated that her death was accidental.

Khairun said Claudia was initially holding the air rifle while sitting outside of the family home of her friend, identified only as Nabil, around 2.30am Lebanon time on Feb 2.

"When her friend came out of the house, he apparently took the rifle and tried to extract a bullet (from the chamber) when a shot was fired," he said at a press conference at the KLIA.

Khairun said the Lebanese authorities were still detaining Nabil while they continue with their probe into the incident.

It is understood that Al-Jazeera covered the cost of transporting Claudia's remains home, while the Umno Youth bureau footed the logistics bill for her family.

Related Stories:
Claudia's sister leaves for Lebanon
Umno Youth to help bring Claudia Theophilus's body from Beirut
Lebanese cops continue to detain man in Claudia Theophilus death
Malaysian journalist killed in freak accident while on holiday in Lebanon
Claudia's death latest in a series of misfortunes for family
Malaysian journalist Claudia Theophilus killed in Lebanon

Guests advised to turn up early at MCA's open house Sunday

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 07:19 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Guests at Sunday's MCA Chinese New Year Open House to be held at Padang Besar, Flat Sri Johor in Bandar Tun Razak, have been advised to come early.

The event will be held between 9am and noon, said Federal Territory MCA chief Datuk Seri Tan Chai Ho.

He said ample parking had been set aside for those who driving to the event.

As for LRT users, Tan said shuttle buses would take them to the venue from Wisma MCA in Jalan Ampang, adding that people should be at the party headquarters by 8.30am.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Cabinet ministers and other dignitaries will be among the thousands expected at the open house.

They will be greeted by MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and the party's top brass.

Tan said former prime ministers Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Badawi had also confirmed their attendance.

He said many types of Malaysian food would be served.

Dr Chua, accompanied by Tan, visited the event site Saturday night to make sure that everything was in order.


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Journey To The West, revisited

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 12:21 AM PST

Evidently, Stephen Chow is not done with the Monkey King legend he first tackled in 1994.

Talking to Stephen Chow, you should not be surprised if you get the impression that he is playing one of his famous comedic roles off-screen.

We asked Chow at a press conference in Taiwan if rumours that the filming of Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons had been carried out without a script in hand was true.

With his trademark deadpan expression, Chow asked where we had heard of such a thing.

"Who told you that? Don't listen to them," said Chow, waving it off with an exaggerated gesture of his hand.

The way he answered the question, as if one of his characters had come alive, sparked a lot of laughs from everyone in the room. Chow then explained how the script came "alive" during filming.

"There were circumstances where what was going on during the shoot was a lot funnier than what was in the script. So we improvised a lot. Script are essentially dead but the actors and people on set are alive, thus there is always some room for changes," he said during our exclusive interview at the Le Meridien hotel in Taipei, Taiwan.

Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons (JTTW), Chow's latest offering as a writer, director and producer, revisits the much-loved Chinese story of the Monkey King. The Cantonese-language comedy-action flick is set in ancient China and focuses on the monk Xuan Zang (played by Chinese actor Wen Zhang) and his adventures as an amateur demon hunter.

Along the way, our hero encounters a malevolent demon pig and is unable to defeat it. His mentor tells him that the only way to overcome the demon pig is to seek the help of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King (played by Golden Horse award winner Huang Bo).

If the plot sounds familiar to Chow's fans, it's because he had tried his hands earlier at adapting Sun Wukong's antics to the big screen in 1994's A Chinese Odyssey Part 1: Pandora's Box and the follow-up Part 2: Cinderella.

In those two movies, Chow played the Monkey King and his human reincarnation, Joker. However, in making JTTW, Chow decided not to put on his actor hat, letting someone else have a go at the role instead.

"JTTW is a very challenging project. I've tried directing and acting simultaneously several times before. But if I did that again, I wouldn't be able to make a great film with this story," he explained.

Chow on this

Despite not appearing on-screen, Chow's influence is obvious in JTTW. The character Xuan Zang is called an amateur demon hunter in this movie for a reason. Instead of battling demons with weapons and gravity-defying martial arts moves, he tries to subdue and rehabilitate them with a nursery rhyme book.

The inspiration for this actually came from a job Chow previously held before his acting career took off. In 1982, before he got his big break, Chow was the host of 430 Space Shuttle – a children's programme – with fellow actor Tony Leung Chiu-Wai.

"I've always liked singing nursery rhymes. I was also once a well-known TV host for a children's programme. I wanted the demon-conquering stunt to be something cute and childish, and touching in the demon's eye. So they became a part of the story," he revealed.

The role of Sun Wukong is played by China's Huang Bo, who apparently turned it down when he was first offered it. In a transcript provided by 20th Century Fox Taiwan, the actor revealed why:

"I felt that Chow's Monkey King (A Chinese Odyssey) was already so deeply entrenched in the audience's memory. Everyone loved it, and it would be very challenging for anybody to take on the role. People would compare your performance with Chow's."

So why did he change his mind?

Huang said Chow literally "conned" him into taking the role.

"He asked me how I would interpret it (if I did it), and I shared my thoughts with him. He then told me, 'Good idea, better than mine. Come and just act in the way you described it!' And here I am," laughed Huang.

The heroine zeroes in

JTTW also stars screen siren Shu Qi. She plays the heroine named Duan (not a character you'd find in the source novel) who is far from being a damsel in distress. In fact, Duan is a powerful demon hunter who on several occasions saves Xuan Zang's hide.

With her brash and unkempt appearance, and tough-as-nails attitude, Shu Qi's character could easily be mistaken for the hero of the movie. According to the Taiwanese actress, it was funny how Chow would demonstrate to her how to act in every scene.

"You can really go wild and crazy with your role in a Stephen Chow film. In JTTW, I tried to act in an exaggerated and comedic way for the first time. Like when you walk in a forest and, boom, a monster jumps out at you. You need to be ready to fight it. It's really satisfying," Shu Qi said.

In the course of the story, Duan falls in love with Xuan Zhang and tries many ingenious ways to get him to profess his love to her. However, despite everything she does, Xuan Zang makes it clear that love is out of the question because he is a Buddhist monk.

Chow, who is no stranger to mixing up comedy, action and a memorable love story, said: "Only tragic love stories are touching. There's nothing to write about if it's a happy love story. I personally think that the love story in JTTW is more touching (compared to the relationship between Joker and Zixia in The Chinese Odyssey)."

In JTTW, Chow said, there are a lot of good lines and there is one that he is particularly fond of.

"My favourite has to be: 'Forever is too long, seize the moment'. It resonates with A Chinese Odyssey; a movie that came out 10 years ago. At the same time, it's also a new take on love," he said.

A new experience

Apart from watching Shu Qi, Huang Bo and Wen Zhang portraying the main characters, audiences can also look forward to something that Chow promised "hasn't been seen before".

"There hasn't been a Chinese film before JTTW that has really cool computer-generated (CG) demons. You'll see how this time we've put a lot of effort into creating our demons," he said.

Chow also explained how the Monkey King in this movie will have an ever-changing appearance.

"Sun Wukong is an ever-changing character. He has a shape-shifting power known as the 72 Transformations; he can basically be anything he wants.

Huang Bo plays only one form of Sun Wukong. We had a few other actors for Sun Wukong too. Some are not even actors. For example, there's a beast. So Sun Wukong can be a human, monkey or even King Kong. That's how versatile he is."

Chow said this was his first attempt at writing a script for a predominantly Mandarin-speaking production.

"After so many years of doing movies in Cantonese, I find this to be an entirely different experience – of course. Ultimately, it's still the same and the language barrier didn't stop me from writing what I wanted in the script. I think it came out well despite this being my first time writing in Mandarin."

For Malaysian audiences, the film will be dubbed in Cantonese. Chow described JTTW as a movie experience that is akin to going to an amusement park.

"I think audiences want to see more thrilling, exciting things in movies. They want to go through a variety of emotions, and I think this movie gives that feeling of fun, thrills, scares and relief at the end of it all."

> Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons is playing in cinemas nationwide.

Neelofa believes she will marry a convert

Posted: 08 Feb 2013 07:22 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Actress and model Neelofa believes that if she is destined to marry a non-Muslim and he will embrace Islam to be a better Muslim than most.

Noor Neelofa Mohd Nor, or popularly known as Neelofa, 24, said that although her mother had expressed the hope that she would marry a "pious man", the meaning of the term was subjective.

"Whether a man is pious is subjective. If a non-Muslim embraces Islam, he could also turn out to be a good Muslim," she told mStar Online,

The Nona and MeleTop host said this when met at a surprise party to celebrate her 24th birthday, held at Sunway Giza last Thursday.

Neelofa's actual birthday is tomorrow, but it was celebrated earlier as she would be away in Singapore.

She was asked to explain what her mother Noor Kartini Noor Mohammed meant when she said that she hoped her daughter would marry a good and pious man.

Noor Kartini had previously said that her daughter would be ready to start and manage her own household in three years, and that she, as her mother, was willing to accept anyone Neelofa picked to wed, as long as the man embraced Islam.

However, Neelofa who starred in the local film Azura 2012, said that marriage was currently not on her mind as she wanted to concentrate on building her career.

"I want to achieve success while I am still young, and that is why I am working hard – so that I can enjoy the fruits of my efforts in the future.

"I don't want to be financially dependant on my future husband. I want to be able to buy whatever I want using my own hard-earned money," she said.

When contacted, actor-director Hans Isaac, 42, said he was willing to wait for Neelofa for three years to get engaged, with her family's blessings.

"Right now we are just getting to know each other, before making any decisions on getting married.

"We are very close and have shared many ups and downs. She knows almost everything about me," said Hans who would star in the movie Lawak Ke Der.

'Lincoln' screenwriter apologizes for 15-second error

Posted: 08 Feb 2013 05:41 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: The screenwriter of "Lincoln," which has 12 Oscar nominations, conceded on Friday that the taut political drama changed the historical record for "15 seconds," after a lawmaker complained.

Democratic Representative Joe Courtney of Connecticut said a key scene the film was wrong to suggest that two congressmen from his state voted against the US Constitution's 13th Amendment that abolished slavery in 1865.

"Representative Courtney is correct that the four members of the Connecticut delegation voted for the amendment," screenwriter Tony Kushner wrote in a letter he made public.

"We changed two of the delegation's votes, and we made up new names for the men casting those votes, so as not to ascribe any actions to actual persons who didn't perform them."

With a hint of irony, Kushner added: "I'm sorry if anyone in Connecticut felt insulted by these 15 seconds of the movie, although issuing a congressional press release startlingly headlined 'Before The Oscars...' seems a rather flamboyant way to make that known."

Kushner stressed that the fallacy did not change the direction of the film in any way, stressing that "Lincoln" is first and foremost "a dramatic film and not an attack on their home state."

In a statement released after Kushner's letter, Courtney said he was pleased the screenwriter had recognized the mistake.

"My effort from the beginning has been to set the record straight on this vote, so people do not leave the theater believing Connecticut's representatives in the 38th Congress were on the wrong side of history," Courtney said.

He also called for a correction ahead of the DVD release.

The Steven Spielberg film recounts Abraham Lincoln's maneuvers to secure votes in Congress to abolish slavery during the American Civil War. - AFP


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Badminton kid shoots high

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 04:32 AM PST

CHINESE New Year is a special time for junior shuttler Wong Zheng Wei to show his appreciation to his family for instilling values that have helped to form his character.

And the 12-year-old has been saving ang pow money received over the past years.

Zheng Wei said he was very fortunate as he had received generous amounts from family members, relatives and friends over the Chinese New Year period.

"My parents have always encouraged me to be thrifty with money. Usually, I do not spend my angpow money. My parents allowed me to be a little lavish in using up part of my savings at the end of last year. When my father bought me a limited edition racquet as a gift last year, I wanted another one of the same model as a spare. So I bought it with my own money," he added.

And Zheng Wei, who is the eldest of two siblings, is looking forward to usher in the festive joy with his paternal grandparents in Ipoh, Perak.

"It is always a pleasant experience to see everyone in the family coming together. Indulging in the delicious food specially prepared for the occasion is also part of the fun. Abalone is a rare treat and it is much more meaningful to share it with the family during Chinese New Year," he said.

Besides stamping his mark as an emerging talent, the SJK (C) Puay Chai 2 Year Six pupil wants to excel in the UPSR examination.

"It is important to strike a balance between games and studies and do well in both. I plan to spend some time during the Chinese New Year holidays rivising," said Zheng Wei.

Currently, he is going through the paces six times a week including four sessions under the tutelage of former national shuttler Jason Wong at the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) sports complex in Bandar Utama.

He has also been making steady progress in honing his skills under Jason for the past three years.

Jason, meanwhile, said the young talent still needs training in taking on his opponents in court.

"He has good physique and still growing physically. However, his game plan is too straightforward and predictable. He needs to add more variations to defeat his opponents. He has to learn to take charge in dictating the pace and controlling the shots," he said.

Recently, Zheng Wei was ranked fourth in the boys' Under-12 group when he completed the recent trials with six wins and three defeats at the Selangor selection.

Zheng Wei is hopeful he can make his debut appearance at the national junior circuit Zone A tournament in Kangar, Perlis from Feb 27 to March 3.

Besides hosts Perlis, emerging talents from four other states — Kelantan, Kedah, Penang and Perak — will be joining the fray at the upcoming Zone A junior meet.

Last year, Zheng Wei was the boys' Under-12 singles runner-up at the Selangor Schools Sports Council (MSSS) Petaling Utama district championships and went on to finish third in the boys' Under-12 doubles at the MSSS.

Zheng Wei said he was also setting his sights on securing a place in the MSSS line-up for the national schools (MSSM) tournament after his victorious attempt to emerge as the singles champion at the district meet.

"My chances in doing well at the MSSS look good but I will have to rise to the challenge at the district meet first. It will be great to complete my final year competing in the Under-12 age-group with respectable performances at the MSSM," he added.

Metro watch

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 04:32 AM PST

Valentine Contest

Stand a chance to win great prizes, including an iPad Mini and two-night stays at Tanjung Jara Resort Terengganu or The Majestic Kuala Lumpur, by joining the Valentine's Day/A Moment of Love Contest, which will run until Feb 14. Just send a photo of a memorable moment with your partner (file size to be smaller than 1.5MB and 300dpi by email, or 4R size by post), include a love message of no more than 15 words and submit with your name, IC number, contact number, email address and address to or Valentine's Day/A Moment of Love Contest, Star Publications (M) Berhad, Level 9, Menara Star, 15 Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.


National Blood Bank Malaysia is encouraging the public to donate blood during Chinese New Year as it will be open on Feb 11 and 12 from 8am to 4pm. For more information, call 03-26955557 or 26955558 or visit for locations on the blood donation campaign mobile units.


The YMCA of Kuala Lumpur will be conducting free dodgeball sessions with the help of experienced coaches every Wednesday at the YMCA volleyball court from 8pm until 11pm. It is open to the public. For more information, call 03-22741439.


The Women Institute of Manage-ment (WIM Toastmasters Club) is having its 13th meeting for the term at Wisma WIM, Taman Tun Dr Ismail on Feb 26, 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Admission is free. To register, call 03-7725 0268 (Jaya) 012-210 2404 (Sharon).


The Sutra Foundation will be presenting "CON-FIGURE — Seeking the Essence of Divinity in the Hu-man Visage", an exhibition of paintings by young artists Gopal Krushna Rath and Guru Suraj. The exhibition iwill be from Feb 15 to March 15 at the Sutra Gallery, 12, Persiaran Titiwangsa 3, Kuala Lumpur. For details, call 03-4021 1092 (9.30am to 6pm, Monday to Friday) or email


Visit Sunway sales galleries at Sunway South Quay, Sunway Da-mansara, Sunway Velocity, Sunway Montana, Sunway Eastwood and Sunway Alam Suria on Feb 23 and 24 from 10am to 5pm for fun and excitement for the entire family. Witness lion dances, traditional Dragon Beard Candy-making demonstrations, bring home your very own calligraphy art and more. For more information, visit or call 03-5639900 or 6016-365 0168.


The International School of Kuala Lumpur invites students and parents interested to know more about the International Bacca-laureate Diploma programme to an informational evening on Feb 19 at 7.30pm at ISKL Ampang Campus. For more information call 03-4259 5622/23 or email


The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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Festive spread featuring must-have delightful dishes

Posted: 08 Feb 2013 08:15 PM PST

MALACCA: Historic City's leading hotel, Holiday Inn Melaka ushers "The Year of the Snake" by unveiling an array of delightful festive dishes.

The hotel targets those who are eager dine in style during this festive season and the reunion dinner crowd.

Diners could opt for the spread of three auspicious set dinner menus meticulously prepared by hotel's renowned chefs to celebrate the occasion.

Holiday Inn Melaka has set its prosperity set menu price at RM888++ that features eight-course of must-have festive dishes such as a Yee Sang set, crispy roasted chicken served with chili almond flakes and other Lunar New Year dishes.

To those sweet toothed guests, relish the prosperity set with the serving of delicious glutinous dumpling with red bean cream.

The hotel also unveiled its abundance set menu at RM988++, featuring much more premium items such as the braised shark's fin soup with dried scallop and crab meat, deep fried Garoupa fillet with chilia almond flakes, double boiled white fungus and red date with American ginseng and lotus seed.

Holiday Inn Melaka has priced it most exclusive reunion dinner menu known longevity set menu at RM1,288++, that features among others, items such as the prosperity Abalone Yee Sang set, superior shark's fin broth, braised tea flower mushroom, deep fried prawn meat, scallop with wasabi, crab meat fried rice.

The celebration is incomplete without tossing the yee sang to mark another amazing year ahead hence the hotel has decided to serve its yee sang set with fresh Salmon priced at between RM50 to RM88++ where guests could also opt for take-away.

Myriad of Oriental favourites will be also offered as Chinese New Year buffet dinner during the auspicious period from today till Feb 11 where the price has been tagged at only RM68++ per person.

On New Year's Day, guests could usher in the year of the Snake with a Chinese New Year High Tea buffet where variety of Chinese Cuisine would be offered at a price of only RM55++ per person.

Apart from the cuisine, the hotel is also offering special rates for revellers to pamper themselves during the Lunar New Year at Tea Tree Spa.

The Spa places special offer of its 90 minutes "Hibiscus Rose Scrub and Hair Cream Bath Avocado with Express Tension Reliever Massage" at only RM174 nett per person.

n Holiday Inn Melaka, Jalan Syed Ab. Aziz, 75000 Malacca. For further information or reservation, call 06-285 9000 or e-mail for dining or for Tea Tree Spa.

This is the writer's personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.

State fire chief says number of fire incidents increased in 2012

Posted: 08 Feb 2013 08:02 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Fire and Rescue Department will hold fire prevention courses to the public in view of the increase in fire related cases in the state.

Its director Datuk Abd Ghani Daud said last year there were 3,683 fire cases compared to 2,667 cases in 2011, which is an increase of 1,016 cases.

He added that the department was concerned over the jump in the number of cases as 11 people had perished in 2012 compared to six people in 2011.

"The state lost RM200mil in fire damages last year in contrast to RM116mil in 2011," he said.

Abd Ghani pointed out that most fire-related incidents were avoidable and investigations showed that human error was the cause.

"Due to this, the state Fire and Rescue Department will hold seminars and courses on fire prevention to create awareness to the public," he told a press conference after the department's yearly assembly held here recently.

He urged members of the public to immediately contact the department for fire emergency cases instead of putting it out alone.

"When there is a fire, please do not try to put it out by yourself.

"It only takes three to five minutes before a fire can escalate into something bigger and worse," he said adding that seminars and courses would give the correct information to putting out a fire to the public.

In another note, Abd Ghani also said the department had taken several measures in conjunction with the Chinese New Year.

"The department personnel are on standby where we have place them at the Sedenak Toll and Yong Peng Toll along the North-South Expressway in case of an accident.

"We have also conducted inspections at major shopping malls and hypermarkets to ensure that they adhere to the department's regulation," he said.

Malacca hotel costume themed annual dinner a big hit with staff

Posted: 08 Feb 2013 08:04 PM PST

MALACCA: Favourite fairytale characters came to life at an event organised by Bayview Hotel here to mark the hotel's 26th Anniversary.

Staff of the hotel gathered for a fun-filled night of fairytales where princesses to villains and fluttering fairies stole the show.

The party was celebrated on a grand scale and staff who have served between 10 and 25 years were rewarded with LED TVs.

Employees who worked between five and 10 years took home a microwave and grill while those who were with the hotel for a less than five years were happy with an Electrolux vacuum cleaner each.

While the main kitchen, sales and maintenance departments team left the crowd in stitches with their hilarious departmental performances, the housekeeping department wowed the crowd with their slick dance moves and well-choreographed performance to take home the grand prize in the competition.

The villains proved triumphant as the "Award for Best Dressed" went to the Evil Queen from Snow White while the Queen of Hearts was runner-up.

Excitement grew during the lucky draw session which offered a wide variety of holiday packages, electrical items, hampers galore and cash prizes.

Grand lucky draw winner, Joyce Lim walked away with RM1,000 while Shaari Dorahim of maintenance department took home RM800 and housekeeping staff Norazlina Rozlin won RM600.

The night ended in full excitement as staff let their hair down and danced the night away.


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