Khamis, 14 Februari 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Stricken Carnival cruise ship docks in Mobile, Alabama

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 07:45 PM PST

MOBILE, Alabama (Reuters) - Reeking of raw sewage, a crippled cruise ship carrying more than 4,200 people docked at a port in Mobile, Alabama, on Thursday as passengers waved towels and flashlights to greet the end of a voyage some described as hellish.

The Carnival Triumph cruise ship is towed towards the dock at the port of Mobile, Alabama, February 14, 2013. REUTERS/ Lyle Ratliff

The Carnival Triumph cruise ship is towed towards the dock at the port of Mobile, Alabama, February 14, 2013. REUTERS/ Lyle Ratliff

Tugboats pulled the Carnival Triumph into port in a drama that played out live on U.S. cable news stations, creating another public relations nightmare for cruise giant Carnival Corp. Last year, its Costa Concordia luxury ship grounded off the coast of Italy, with 32 people killed.

Passengers lined the decks and cheered as the ship reached the dock.

Over the last four days, passengers described an overpowering stench on parts of the ship after an engine room fire knocked out power and plumbing across most of the 893-foot (272-metre) vessel and left it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship, which went into service in 1999, was on a four-day cruise and on its way back from a stop in Cozumel, Mexico.

After the mishap, toilets and drainpipes overflowed, soaking many cabins and interior passages in sewage and turning the vessel into what some have described as a giant Petri dish.

"The thing I'm looking forward to most is having a working toilet and not having to breathe in the smell of faecal matter," said Jacob Combs, an Austin, Texas-based sales executive with a healthcare and hospice company.

Combs, 30, who said he had been travelling with friends and family on the Triumph, had nothing but praise for its crew members, saying they had gone through "hell" cleaning up after some of the passengers on the sea cruise.

"Just imagine the filth," Combs told Reuters. "People were doing crazy things and going to the bathroom in sinks and showers. It was inhuman. The stewards would go in and clean it all up. They were constantly cleaning," he said.

Terry Thornton, a Carnival Cruise Lines senior vice president, told reporters in Mobile that additional provisions were laid in on Wednesday and the ship was now "in excellent shape."

Passenger Donna Gutzman said those aboard the ship were treated to steak and lobster for lunch on Thursday afternoon.

"Our basic needs are being met. For the most part, they are making us happy," Gutzman told CNN.

A senior Carnival official said it could take up to five hours to remove all the passengers from the ship, which has only one functioning elevator.

Carnival said it would greet the passengers with warm food, blankets and cell phones.

Once off the ship, many passengers still had a lengthy journey ahead. More than 100 buses were lined up waiting to drive some passengers the 490 miles (790 km) back to Galveston, Texas, while other passengers had elected to stay overnight in hotels in Mobile before flying home, Carnival said.

Operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, the flagship brand of Carnival Corp, the ship left Galveston a week ago carrying 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew. It was supposed to return there on Monday.

A Coast Guard cutter escorted the Triumph on its long voyage into port since Monday, and a Coast Guard helicopter ferried about 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg) of equipment including a generator to the stricken ship late on Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, some passengers reported on the poor conditions on the Triumph when they contacted relatives and media before their cell phone batteries died. They said people were getting sick and passengers had been told to use plastic "biohazard" bags as makeshift toilets.

Smoke from the engine fire was so thick that passengers on the lower decks in the rear of the ship had to be permanently evacuated and slept the rest of the voyage on the decks under sheets, passengers said.


Carnival Cruise Lines Chief Executive Gerry Cahill said in a statement late on Wednesday that the company had decided to add further payment of $500 (322.2 pounds) a person to help compensate passengers for "very challenging circumstances" aboard the ship.

"We are very sorry for what our guests have had to endure," Cahill said.

Mary Poret, who spoke to her 12-year-old daughter aboard the Triumph on Monday, rejected Cahill's apology in comments to CNN on Thursday, as she waited anxiously in Mobile with a friend for the Triumph's arrival.

"Seeing urine and faeces sloshing in the halls, sleeping on the floor, nothing to eat, people fighting over food, $500? What's the emotional cost? You can't put money on that," Poret said.

Some passengers said conditions onboard improved on Thursday after the generator was delivered to the ship, providing power for a grill to cook hot food.

Carnival Corp Chairman and CEO Micky Arison faced criticism in January 2012 for failing to travel to Italy and take personal charge of the Costa Concordia crisis after the luxury cruise shop operated by Carnival's Costa Cruises brand grounded on rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio. The tragedy unleashed numerous lawsuits against his company.

The cruise ship mogul has taken a low-key approach to the Triumph situation as well, even as it grabbed a growing share of the U.S. media spotlight. His only known public appearance since Sunday was courtside on Tuesday at a game played by his Miami Heat championship professional basketball team.

"I think they really are trying to do the right thing, but I don't think they have been able to communicate it effectively," said Marcia Horowitz, an executive who handles crisis management at Rubenstein Associates, a New York-based public relations firm.

"Most of all, you really need a face for Carnival," she added. "You can do all the right things. But unless you communicate it effectively, it will not see the light of day."

Carnival Corp shares closed down $0.11 at $37.35 in trading on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares closed down 4 percent at $37.46 on Wednesday after the company said voyage disruptions and repair costs related to Carnival Triumph could shave up to 10 cents a share off its second-half earnings.

The Triumph is a Bahamian-flagged vessel and the Bahamas Maritime Authority will be the primary agency investigating the cause of its engine room fire.

Earlier this month, Carnival repaired an electrical issue on one of the Triumph's alternators. The company said there was no evidence of any connection between the repair and the fire.

For all the passengers' grievances, they will likely find it difficult to sue the cruise operator for any damages, legal sources said. Over the years, the cruise industry has put in place a legal structure that ring-fences operators from big-money lawsuits.

Rules for seeking redress are spelled out in complex, multi-page ticket contracts that have been the subject of decades of court battles. Victims are often required to proceed with any litigation in remote jurisdictions.

(Additional reporting by David Adams and Kevin Gray in Miami, Writing by Tom Brown; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Americans deserve to know more about drone war - Obama

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 06:18 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Thursday promised to be more forthcoming with the American public on his administration's campaign of lethal drone strikes amid criticism over the targeting of suspected U.S. terrorism suspects abroad.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks from the briefing room of the White House in Washington February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks from the briefing room of the White House in Washington February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Obama, under pressure from the left and right to allow greater scrutiny of the secret decision-making process for killing Americans overseas, vowed to work with Congress to craft a "mechanism" to be more open about how the drone war is conducted.

"What I think is absolutely true is it's not sufficient for citizens to just take my word for it that we're doing the right thing," Obama said in an online video question-and-answer session sponsored by Google.

Asked whether the U.S. government could target a citizen on American soil, Obama appeared to rule that out.

"There has never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil," he said. "We respect and have a whole bunch of safeguards in terms of how we conduct counterterrorism operations outside of the United States. The rules outside of the United States are going to be different than the rules inside the United States."

The issue moved to the forefront last week when Obama yielded to congressional demands and in a policy reversal provided access for House of Representatives and Senate intelligence committees to a classified legal opinion on killing U.S. terrorism suspects with drone strikes abroad.

The release on the eve of a Senate confirmation hearing last Friday appeared intended to avoid a clash in testimony by John Brennan, the president's choice for CIA director. He has overseen the use of armed, unmanned aircraft in counterterrorism operations in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

During last week's debate, some lawmakers proposed creation of a special federal "drone court" that would approve suspected militants for targeting. But a number of U.S. officials said at the time that imminent action on this was unlikely.

However, Obama, in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, said he intended to engage with Congress to make sure "our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world."


On Thursday, Obama said it was his responsibility to work with Congress to ensure that "we have a mechanism to also make sure that the public understands what's going on, what the constraints are, what the legal parameters are."

"That's something that I take very seriously. I'm not somebody who believes that the president has the authority to do whatever he wants or whatever she wants, whenever they want, just under the guise of counterterrorism," Obama said, insisting on the need for "checks and balances."

Civil liberties groups have criticized the drone program as effectively a green light to assassinate Americans without due process in the courts under the U.S. Constitution.

In 2011 a drone strike killed U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki, described by U.S. investigators as a leader of al Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate. His 16-year-old son, also a U.S. citizen, was killed in a separate drone strike in Yemen that year. The administration has fought lawsuits filed by Awlaki's relatives.

Administration officials insist that Obama is acting legally to protect the United States from further attacks like the September 11, 2001, strikes.

The president, who banned the harsh interrogation techniques of the Bush era when he took office in 2009, has intensified the drone program started by his Republican predecessor.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Doom scenarios for U.S. budget cuts may be overplayed

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 05:59 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of people made homeless, long waits at airports and criminals going unpunished.

The U.S. Capitol building is pictured before U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address in front of the U.S. Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 12, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

The U.S. Capitol building is pictured before U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address in front of the U.S. Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 12, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Those were among the dire warnings from the Obama administration on Thursday of the consequences of automatic public spending cuts that are due to kick in next month.

While the measures do indeed threaten jobs and the economic recovery, experts say government agencies are overplaying the effect of the $85 billion (54.8 billion pounds) "sequestration" cuts to jolt lawmakers into halting them.

Deputy Defence Secretary Ashton Carter told a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing that U.S. military readiness would be eroded by the across-the-board cuts, to be split evenly between military and domestic discretionary programs.

Carter said some 46,000 contract employees would be laid off, and 800,000 civilian employees would be furloughed for 22 days and ship and aircraft maintenance would be slashed.

But the cuts are only a small portion of the overall $3.6 trillion U.S. annual budget, and a miniscule component of the vast U.S. economy.

"Somehow, the idea that if we go back to 2007 military funding levels we're going to be a second-rate power, well that's overdoing it," said Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow with the Centre for American Progress and a former U.S. assistant Defence secretary.

"If you kept this cut, you're back to $500 billion a year. I find it hard to get that worried about it," Korb said, noting that this was still vastly more than any other country spends on its military.

A senior White House budget official cautioned, though, that sequestration will have grave real effects.

"We simply cannot cut $85 billion out of our budget over the next seven months without critical consequences for Defence and non-Defence," said Danny Werfel, controller for the Office of Management and Budget.

He was one of several administration officials, including cabinet secretaries, to list the serious ramifications if Congress and President Barack Obama did not reach an agreement to stop sequestration.

The Justice Department predicted that it would handle 1,000 fewer criminal cases this year due to the cuts. The FBI would have to furlough all of its employees for up to 14 days, which the agency said was the equivalent of taking 775 agents off the streets.

"Criminals that should be held accountable for their actions will not be held accountable and violators of our civil laws may go unpunished," Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter to Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that screening lines at busy U.S. airports could grow by up to an hour as Transportation Security Administration staff are furloughed.

Waits at border crossings could reach 4 to 5 hours, ports could face gridlock and reduced Coast Guard patrols would mean less interdiction of drug and illegal immigrants and more pressure on fisheries, she said.

Secretary of State John Kerry said that "vital missions of national security, diplomacy and development" were at risk from the budget crunch.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan predicted some 225,000 people, including veterans, could be at risk of becoming homeless as they lose access to housing vouchers or emergency shelter programs.


The Pentagon has more flexibility to deal with the cuts than domestic agencies, said Gordon Adams, an American University foreign policy professor.

Domestic agencies are more payroll-based, so they have little choice but to lose people, whereas the Pentagon has all of its war operations and military pay exempted, and its procurement activities can largely run on previously allocated dollars. "We are not suddenly going to be subject to overseas coercion."

But even on the domestic side, the predictions of gloom are subject to hyperbole and political calculation, he said.

"If I'm the administration, I'm going to ramp up the biggest and most horrible effects I can to put pressure on the Republicans" to reach a deal to prevent the cuts.

Werfel acknowledged that, unlike a government shutdown, not all of the effects are going to happen immediately when the cuts begin on March 1.

In some cases, furlough notices will go out at that time, but employees may not be sent home for 30 days due to statutory notice periods. In other cases, negotiations with unions over implementation of furloughs may take longer.

But the effects of the cuts, will build up "relatively quickly" within weeks and months, Werfel said. The layoffs, furloughs and curtailed services described by administration officials would more likely be spread over the seven months to the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

Part of the problem the administration faces is a lack of flexibility in prioritizing the cuts, which were aimed at nearly every discretionary budget account and designed to pressure lawmakers to reach a broader agreement to reduce deficits.

Lack of alternative preparations means that agencies have little choice but to furlough employers and curtail operations to meet their savings targets for the fiscal year.

But after that, Defence savings can be found that will not compromise U.S. security, said Mattea Kramer, research director at the National Priorities Project, a Massachusetts research group focused on the U.S. budget.

"There is waste, there are obsolete programs to be sunsetted, there is Cold War technology that we need not be investing in any longer," Kramer said.

The dire warnings of chaos on the domestic side may be more motivated by worries that the automatic cuts will hit economic growth, which is the top Democratic priority, said Ethan Siegal, who advises institutional investors on Washington politics.

The Congressional Budget Office forecast last week that if the sequester occurred, it would reduce U.S. economic output by 0.6 percentage points and slash 750,000 jobs.

Siegal said the administration may find ways to mitigate the effects of the cuts, but it is not politically advantageous to do so at this time, when it wants to put maximum pressure on Congress to reach a budget deal.

He predicted that the sequester would be delayed again just before a March 27 deadline for new government funding legislation.

"Government agencies are marvellous at massaging these things and moving money around."

In a sign that lawmakers are looking for ways to prevent the cuts, Senate Democrats offered a plan on Thursday to replace the sequester with tax hikes and reduced farm subsidies, but the proposal is expected to be quickly shot down by Republicans.

OMB's Werfel said that the administration will do what it can to blunt the cuts.

"Whatever the tools we have, we're going to use. I'm not going to comment on specific aspects, I just know that it is going to be enormously challenging and there is no way we're going to mitigate these impacts effectively enough," he told reporters after the hearing.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and David Alexander, Editing by Alistair Bell and Paul Simao)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

The love bug

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 03:32 PM PST

Yes, JJ and Lil Kev have a mushy side as heard on Valentine's Day. Not bromance, mind you.

YOU know the whole spiel about Valentine's Day ... it's all about expressing your love to your loved ones, that special someone in your life and so forth. Well, this year's Valentine's Day has come and gone. We hope you had the flowers to brighten up your day and that the dinner last night was a delightful affair.

Everyone was in the mood for love, including JJ and Lil Kev of Red FM's The Red Breakfast WTF! (Mondays to Fridays, 6am to 10am).

For the entire week, they had been excited about Valentine's Day and were more than happy to dish out romantic tips on-air.

It may come as a surprise to some, but the Kings of Radio are also happily married, with two children each.

On Wednesday, both deejays offered their expertise by giving out ideas on how to create a memorable Valentine's Day experience.

Yesterday (yes, Valentine's Day), JJ and Lil Kev made the The Red Breakfast WTF! a little special by sharing a list of the Top 5 romantic movies and love songs to set the mood for the day.

Throughout the show, they took dedications from listeners wanting to shout out their love messages. Only love songs were allowed over the airwaves and these also included songs in Malay, Chinese and Hindi. It was possibly the only day in the year that you could hear Hindi movie hit Kuch Kuch Hota Hai played on Red FM!

JJ and Lil Kev even got personal and called their wives to wish them Happy Valentine's Day.

We asked JJ and Lil Kev all about Valentine's Day, and this is what they had to say.

What does Valentine's Day mean to you both?

JJ: Valentine's Day is a day for me to show appreciation to my wife as I might not remember the other days in the year. Ha ha!

Lil Kev: An expensive day!

Tell us a memorable Valentine's Day.

JJ: A memorable Valentine's Day is when I forgot that it was Valentine's Day! And no, I didn't kena (get scolded) from my wife (phew!).

Lil Kev: What day again?

What's the most romantic gesture you guys have done to show your love?

JJ: A lurrve treasure hunt.

Lil Kev: Booked out a whole restaurant, this was my first date with my wife.

Now that the both of you are married, has the significance of Valentine's Day changed?

JJ: Nope, no change. There's more now to love as we have two kids and it significantly means more now.

Lil Kev: What day again?

How did you celebrate Valentine's Day this year?

JJ: How did I celebrate this year? Cannot comment as it is not fit for print.

Lil Kev: Adult content.

For more info, log on to Join the Red FM Malaysia Facebook fan page on and follow the station on Twitter @iloveredfm. Red FM is owned and operated by The Star. Red FM's Station Frequencies: Taiping, Kedah, Perlis and Pulau Langkawi: 98.1FM, Georgetown and Seberang Perai: 107.6 FM, Ipoh, Perak: 106.4 FM, Klang Valley, Negeri Sembilan and Tapah: 104.9FM, Kuantan, Pahang: 91.6 FM, Batu Pahat and Melaka: 98.9FM, Johor Baru and Singapore: 92.8FM.

Coming of age

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 06:16 AM PST

THE buzz is building up for Paramore's new album, with the band recently unleashing its brand-new video for Now.

Paramore's Now, which has stirred up a fan frenzy, is the lead single off the pop punk group's upcoming self-titled album, the first release as a trio – Hayley Williams (pic), Jeremy Davis and Taylor York – since discontented brothers Josh and Zac Farro left the band in 2010.

The best thing is Paramore is in good live shape again, putting the past two troubled years behind it. For local fans, the thrill gets better with the band playing a concert at Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur this Sunday.

Back in Oct 2010, Paramore proved its crowd-pulling appeal when it rocked nearly 10,000 fans at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

Of course, the band hopes to take the attendance up a notch or two at Stadium Merdeka this Sunday. The supporting act for Paramore's concert here are American indie rockers, mewithoutYou and Malaysia's favourite punk rock pioneers, One Buck Short. Doors open at 6pm.

The concert is presented by Tune Talk and Blackberry. Tickets are available at


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Nadal wins in singles debut at Brazil Open

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 04:32 PM PST

SAO PAULO: Spain's Rafael Nadal scored an easy two-set victory in his singles debut at the Brazil Open here late Thursday.

The former world number one needed only 78 minutes to prevail over Brazilian Joao Souza, ranked 101st in the world 6-3, 6-4.

Nadal advanced to the quarter-finals which will be played Friday.

"It was an important victory for me," Nadal said. "the conditions are very difficult. The court is very fast, the ball too."

Asked about his injured left knee, he replied: "Today I think it was acceptable, normal. Let's hope it will be the same tomorrow. The important things is that it (the knee) does not hurt."

Wednesday, the Spanish star withdrew from a scheduled doubles match he was to have played with Argentina's David Nalbandian against Argentine Horacio Zeballos and Austrian Oliver Marach, citing "knee overuse".

Nadal, currently ranked number five in the world, only returned to the tour in Chile last week after a seven-month injury absence.

The 11-time grand slam champion, who lost both the singles and doubles finals Sunday at his comeback event in Vina del Mar, Chile, is the top seed at this week's event here.

The $455,775 Brazil Open is part of the Latin American clay court circuit, along with the Vina del Mar and the Mexico Open in Acapulco where Nadal plans to play later this month. - AFP

Hands off wrestling, say Greeks

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 03:23 PM PST

ATHENS, Greece: Greece threw its weight behind the campaign to keep wrestling, a sport which has survived from the ancient Olympics, on the Games programme on Thursday.

Greek Sports Undersecretary Giannis Ioannidis called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not to remove the sport from the 2020 programme.

In a letter to IOC president Jacques Rogge, Ioannidis said he expressed the feelings "of all the Greeks, but also the respect of our people and its sports history to keep the sport of wrestling in the Olympic Games programme".

The 15-member Executive Board of the IOC on Tuesday voted to remove wrestling from the Olympic schedule.

"With great surprise and great sadness we learned of the decision of the IOC Executive Board to remove the sport of wrestling from the program of the Olympic Games of 2020. The sport of wrestling is connected with Greece and the ancient Olympic Games," Ioannidis wrote to Rogge.

The Greek official added that wrestling has a huge global appeal, noting that the International Wrestling Federation has 180 countries as members.

"The history, the tradition and the social acceptance that marks the sport should not be sacrificed on the altar of media ratings and marketing," Ioannidis said.

On Wednesday the Hellenic Olympic Committee announced they fully support the Greek wrestling federation's fight.

"This is one decision that is clearly at variance with the history of the Olympics and sport in general," it said.

"There should be a revision of this decision and the Hellenic Olympic Committee will support with all its forces, any effort in this direction."

Greek wrestling federation president Kostas Thanos had already condemned the decision by the IOC was "sacrilege".

"Wrestling is a sport that is identified with the Olympics and we cannot throw away such a symbol. The way they are going they may even remove the name Olympics," Thanos said in a radio interview. - AFP

Serena closes in on return to top spot

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 03:21 PM PST

DOHA: Serena Williams needs only one more win to become world number one for the first time in two-and-a-half years after reaching the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open in double quick time on Thursday.

It took the 15-time Grand Slam title winner less than an hour to complete a 6-0, 6-3 win over Urszula Radwanska, the world number 37 from Poland, and to take herself to the brink of another remarkable achievement.

A year ago, after a series of injuries, Williams' career seemed in danger.

Now, after triumphs at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympics, and struggling against ankle and back injuries and a cold this week, she is almost back to where many believe she deserves to be - at the top again.

Williams was not allowing her feelings to distract her, however, offering a smokescreen of anti-climactic words to avoid sharing premature pleasure with the crowd.

"Not really", she said, when asked if she were thinking about becoming number one again.

"I am so over it. It's like everyone is thinking about it. I have a really tough opponent. It is what it is."

Later, however, Williams' mood altered a little.

Asked what she thought of the prospect of becoming the oldest player to reach the top ranking again, she said: "It's awesome. Since I didn't do the youngest, I figure I'll do the oldest."

On Friday, she'll face Petra Kvitova, the former Wimbledon champion from the Czech Republic, who recovered from 1-3 down in the final set to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 against Nadia Petrova, the 11th seeded Russian who is a previous champion in Doha.

Earlier Victoria Azarenka, the current number one, made an impressive statement of her right still to be considered the best player when she overwhelmed America's Christina McHale 6-0, 6-0.

"Everything was working for me today," said Azarenka, the defending champion in Doha who also retained her Australian Open crown last month.

"When I stepped on court I felt my game. When I had a couple of difficult games I stayed focussed and took advantage of that, and that was the key.

"Christina has played some excellent matches and had some big wins and so I had to stay focussed. I think I got rid of my frustrations (with the windy weather) yesterday."

Azarenka next faces Sara Errani, the world number seven from Italy, in a half of the draw which also contains Agnieszka Radwanska, the fourth-seeded Pole who was her semi-final opponent last year, and Caroline Wozniacki, the former world number one from Denmark.

Radwanska advanced with a craftily constructed 6-1, 7-6 (8/6) win over Ana Ivanovic, the former French Open champion from Serbia.

Her reward is a quarter-final with Wozniacki, who survived a fraught encounter by 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 against Mona Barthel on an even windier outside court on which the ball sometimes threatened to bounce over the back stop, and where line decisions had Wozniacki's father-coach Piotr screaming at the umpire.

"It was all about somehow surviving out there," said Wozniacki ruefully.

She had a consolation though - a Valentine's Day bouquet of roses from boyfriend Rory McIlroy, the world's number one golfer.

World number three Maria Sharapova eased past Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3 and will face Australian eighth seed Samantha Stosur, who saw off Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-5, for a place in the semi-finals. - AFP


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Blue chips slip in thin trade, PetDag, plantations weigh

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 06:18 PM PST

Published: Friday February 15, 2013 MYT 10:18:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Blue chips fell in thin trade early Friday as investors took profit on index-linked stocks including Petronas Dagangan and plantations ahead of the weekend and uninspiring overnight close on Wall Street.

At 9.55am, the FBM KLCI was down 2.9 points to 1,627.99. Turnover was 132.47 million shares valued at RM141.37mil. There were 109 gainers, 148 losers and 179 counters unchanged.

Reuters reported Asian shares eased on Friday with investors turning cautious as weak euro zone growth data presaged the G20 meeting in this session and on Saturday in Moscow. The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.1%.

At Bursa Malaysia, consumer stocks were among the top losers, with Dutch Lady down 68 sen to RM42.10 and BAT lost 28 sen to RM57.92 but Nestle gained 14 sen to RM59.70.

Petronas Dagangan fell 28 sen to RM22.50 while HL Industries lost 38 sen to RM3.98 and UMW 12 sen to RM12.24.

Among the plantations, BLD Plantations fell 25 sen to RM8.10, KL Keponmg 24 sen to RM21.46 and Tradewinds Plantations 11 sen to RM4.43 but United Plantations rose 46 sen to RM26.46 with 100 shares done and PPB Group edged up six sen to RM12.08.

KHSB fell three sen to 65.5 sen with 25.62 million shares done on profit taking after it hit limit-up on Thursday on Kumpulan Darul Ehsan's plans to acquire a 56.57% stake for 76 sen each for RM193.46mil.

MPHB rose seven sen to RM3.38 after the Securities Commission conditionally approved its corporate exercise.


MPHB advances on approval for demerger, repayment

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 05:46 PM PST

Published: Friday February 15, 2013 MYT 9:47:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd (MPHB) advanced in early trade on Friday after the Securities Commission conditionally approved its corporate exercise.

At 9.26am, it was up 11 sen to RM3.42. There were 778,300 shares done.

The FBM KLCI fell 4.45 points to 1,626.44. Turnover was 66.59 million shares valued at RM65.75mil. There were 72 gainers, 116 losers and 121 counters unchanged.

The corporate exercise involved the proposed demerger of MPHB and its subsidiaries and a proposed capital repayment to MPHB shareholders.

MPHB said on Thursday the SC had approved its appeal to allow the valuation of the group's property assets to be included in the listing prospectus based on the independent valuers' assessments.

However, the conditions were the valuers had to update their valuations to a more current date which must not be more than six months from the date of the listing prospectus; and the corresponding valuers' reports were to be made available for inspection.


RHB Research: Felda Global eyeing plantation land in Indonesia?

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 05:22 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Research Institute says Felda Global Ventures (FGV) is close to securing some acquisitions, likely to be upstream plantation land in Indonesia.

"We believe FGV would prefer to buy a combination of greenfield and brownfield land, which would add to earnings immediately and generate positive cashflows," it said on Friday.

RHB Research said on the downstream front, FGV could be eyeing to expand via collaboration or strategic alliances with partners, and possibly exploring the setting up of downstream plants in China and India.

"Besides this, we believe FGV continues to identify non-core assets (held at FHB level) to divest, which could include its travel, IT, livestock and cocoa businesses, amongst others," it said.

Following its company visit, RHB Research said FGV's fresh fruit bunches (FFB) production was better than expected for FY12 and estimates were lowered for FY13.

The research house said FGV was also expecting better crude palm oil (CPO) prices in the second half of 2013.

It added that unit production costs were expected to be flattish in FY13. Meanwhile, FGV replanted more than original target in FY12.

As for the downstream refineries, they had started to turn around operationally in Q4, 2012.

"Upstream plantation acquisitions are most likely, while non-core asset divestment and downstream collaborations are being considered," it said.



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Police to boost security surveillance along Thai border

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 07:20 AM PST

Published: Thursday February 14, 2013 MYT 11:18:00 PM
Updated: Thursday February 14, 2013 MYT 11:20:46 PM

KOTA BARU: Kelantan police will boost security surveillance along the Malaysia-Thai border to check the entry of terrorists from the southern Thailand-based National Revolutionary Front (BRN).

State police chief Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said police would work with the Malaysian Armed Forces, Anti-Smuggling Unit and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency under Ops Wawasan for this purpose.

"We will also cooperate with Thai security forces to detect the militants who are trying to escape to this country," he told a press conference here Thursday.

Thai newspapers reported Friday that 17 rebels were killed in a firefight with Thai security forces after they were trapped by the soldiers while launching an ambush on a navy camp in Narathiwat Wednesday.

Narathiwat navy commander Kol Somkiat Ponprayoon said some 50 fully-armed rebels in army uniforms and bullet-proof jackets from BRN raided the small camp in which were 50 officers and personnel, around 1am.

No Thai soldier was killed in the incident, according to the reports.

Unrest in three regions in southern Thailand has taken place almost daily since the rebellion broke out in 2004, killing more than 5,000. - Bernama

Woman falls to her death from sixth floor of shopping complex in KL

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 06:16 AM PST

Published: Thursday February 14, 2013 MYT 10:16:00 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Visitors to a shopping complex in the city centre were shocked when a woman fell to her death from the sixth floor of the complex Thursday.

During the 11am incident, Choo Czek Yeng, 36, died at the scene of severe head injuries.

Dang Wangi police chief ACP Zainuddin Ahmad said police were informed of the incident at 11.25am and have classified the case as sudden death.

"The body of the victim was sent to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital for a post mortem," he said.

A witness who did not want to be named said that at about 10am, he saw the woman leaning on to the panel railing of the six floor. - Bernama

MRT Corp announces lanes closures in Cheras, Bukit Bintang from Friday

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 05:31 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (MRT Corp) has announced temporary lane closures involving several places in Cheras and Bukit Bintang beginning Friday.

MRT Corp, in a statement Thursday, said in Cheras, the left-most lane on the slip road from MRR2 to Jalan Cheras (Kuala Lumpur bound) near Tesco Taman Midah will be closed temporarily at night for seven days beginning Friday.

"The lane closures are to facilitate utilities relocation works along the five-metre stretch of the road and the lane closure will be effective from 9pm to 5am," it said.

The left-most lane of Jalan Cheras (Kajang bound) near Taman Segar in front of the Esso and Caltex petrol stations beginning Feb 18, would be closed for 65 days to facilitate utilities relocation works along the 200m stretch of the road. The lane closure would be done in stages effective 9pm to 5am.

The left-most lane on Jalan Cheras to Taman Len Sen ramp would be closed for 15 days beginning Feb 18, to facilitate tree relocation activities along the 250m stretch of the road and the lane closure would be effective from 10pm to 5am.

The two left traffic lanes of a 150m stretch of the Lebuhraya Hubungan Timur Barat underpass (Kajang bound) would be closed for 10 nights from Feb 8 to Feb 28, to facilitate tree relocation activities and the closure would be effective from 10pm to 5am.

Meanwhile, in Bukit Bintang, MRT Corp said the extension of the temporary right lane would be closed involving parts of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Bukit Bintang, beginning Friday until Feb 28.

"The lane closures which had been implemented since Jan 25, involving one lane at a time, are being implemented in stages between 12am and 6am," it said.

The lane closures are to facilitate utility works in the area and it is an essential process in the construction of the Mass Rapid Transit's (MRT) underground Bukit Bintang station.

As part of MRT Corp's standard operating procedure, safety barriers, traffic cones and traffic flagmen will be placed at the work site to ensure road users are pre-warned of ongoing work.

MRT Corp also apologised for any inconvenience caused to the public during the construction period. - Bernama


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Jeremy Irons happy to evolve

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 02:21 AM PST

With a body of work spanning more than four decades, Jeremy Irons is always pleased to be involved in something new.

THERE is no doubting the voice coming through the phone at 5am – it is Jeremy Irons. He is calling from Los Angeles to talk about the film Beautiful Creatures, which stars both relative newcomers (Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich) and established names (Irons, Emma Thompson, and Viola Davis from The Help). On the phone, the Oscar winner sounds no different than he has in his numerous film roles, the documentaries he has narrated, and the audiobooks he has read out: you know, commanding.

He takes his time to enunciate every word clearly, as if making sure we don't forget this Englishman's theatrical roots. Irons is also very polite, pleasant and quite easy to talk to – not at all like the larger-than-life characters we associate him with (among them, Simon Gruber of Die Hard: With A Vengeance and Scar of The Lion King).

Although one would never have imagined him participating in a film based in the young adult genre, he says simply that he was attracted to the character's wit, style and elegance. Also, a different genre is, to Irons, just a different format of storytelling.

He shares: "Macon Ravenwood is an enigmatic character, and I thought it would be a good option to reintroduce myself to a different audience, a younger audience who are not aware of me."

It also happens that Beautiful Creatures authors Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia envisioned Irons when they were writing the character of Macon. In the book, he is described as someone with dark and gleaming eyes, and who dresses up like he is from the 1940s. Macon is the uncle of the new girl in town, whose arrival stirs all kinds of changes in the small southern town, which has plenty of history and mysticism attached to it.

Macon Ravenwood makes it his job to take care of his niece, while she counts down to her impending 16th birthday – the moment when she discovers whether the power she has inherited from her family is meant for dark purposes or for light. Macon has powers of his own, starting out on the dark side but soon put to use on the side of good.

"I think we're all good guys who could easily be bad guys," he says. "This grey area is something I have always been interested in."

In a career that has spanned more than 40 years, the 64-year-old has accumulated a rich variety of characters. When he started out as an actor, he gave himself 12 years to make it in the industry.

There were many smaller roles at first before his "international boost into the arena" came with the TV series Brideshead Revisited in 1981. That very same year, which was quite close to his self-appointed deadline, he nabbed a leading role alongside Meryl Streep in the 1981 film The French Lieutenant's Woman. Irons followed that with other noteworthy films including Moonlighting, The Mission and Dead Ringers.

In 1990, he won the Oscar for his role as Claus von Bulow in the film Reversal Of Fortune. Over the years, he has had both hits and misses critically and financially: among them are M Butterfly, The Lion King, Die Hard: With A Vengeance, Stealing Beauty, Chinese Box, Dungeons & Dragons, The Man In The Iron Mask, The Time Machine, Being Julia, Kingdom Of Heaven, Eragon, Appaloosa and Margin Call.

Films aren't his only domain – he starred in the 2005 miniseries Elizabeth I, guest-starred on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The Simpsons, and headlined The Borgias for two seasons.

After Beautiful Creatures, he has one more film waiting to be released, and another one he is attached to.

Does he ever take a break? "I am about to," he says. "I hope to do just that at the end of February. I will have some free time to relax and build my appetite. I have been working continuously for two years – doing films, The Borgias and documentaries – so I have been very busy."

Then there is theatre, which he goes back to quite regularly. "The last one I did was two years ago. Theatre is something that is always there and something that I always look forward to doing. It's something I would never turn my back on."

What does he plan to do on this well-deserved break? "I have horses I like to ride, boats I'd like to sail, dogs and my motorcycles. I have a lot of things that I like to do. I have no difficulty finding things to do ... gardening, being with my family, travelling."

Irons is married to actress Sinead Cusack, with whom he has two sons. His younger son, 25-year-old son Max Irons, is also an actor who is appearing in another young adult film this year, The Host.

According to Irons, his son has it very different: "He has to do a lot more blogging and other things (on the Internet), and I don't do any of that. But as the world becomes more global, I suppose it is inevitable that their lives be on the screen and not in the open air."

Irons reveals that his younger son does come to him sometimes for advice. At the same time, however, Irons says: "But because business is very different now than when I was his age, he's probably right not to come to me too often. He has to forge his own way. It's a different business now."

One thing that hasn't changed is Irons finds every new role challenging, every time he steps into a new character. This, he explains, is because he wants to portray the character as well as he can. "Never gets any easier."

Has there been a dream role that has eluded him so far? "No," he answers. "I'd like to think if there was, I would be doing something about it. I always say, 'If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans', so I just sort of gently move from one thing to another. I don't know what the future holds and one of the nice things about this is you are always surprised."

Beautiful Creatures opens in cinemas nationwide on Feb 21.

Actor Steve Martin is first-time dad at age 67

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 06:43 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: Actor, writer and comedian Steve Martin has become a dad for the first time at age 67 - and managed to keep it secret from the media for more than a month.

Martin and his second wife, Anne Stringfield, 41, "are new parents and recently welcomed a child," a spokeswoman for the actor said on Wednesday.

The spokeswoman gave no details, including the sex of the child or the date of birth. But the New York Post cited unidentified sources as saying the baby arrived in December.

The multi-talented Martin, whose career as a writer and performer dates back more than 45 years, has played a father in movies such as "Parenthood," Cheaper by the Dozen," and "Father of the Bride."

Martin, who has hosted the Oscars ceremony three times, married Stringfield, a former writer at the New Yorker magazine, in 2007.

His eight-year marriage to British actress Victoria Tennant ended in divorce in 1994.-Reuters


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Home’s founder stands tall after overcoming years of challenges

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 04:46 AM PST

A NOBLE act can go a long way, as it has in the case of 59-year-old S. Ritamalar.

Deprived of family love after the sudden death of her husband and a family feud, Ritamalar, fondly known as Rita, decided to start a welfare home in 1994. It was no easy task, but she persevered.

Today, Rita Handicapped and Disabled Welfare Home, located in Kapar, Klang, proudly stands as the first welfare home in the country to be awarded ISO 9001 certification for its excellent financial management and operations.

The home has also been recognised by the Malaysia Guiness Book of Records for achieving ISO standards. In addition, it has been recognised by the Welfare Department as a model welfare home.

Besides caring for 150 people, out of which 125 are children, the home also runs several socioeconomic programmes to reduce its financial burden and encourage self-sufficiency among its residents.

The home's achievements has even taken its founder by surprise.

Rita said she was finally feeling satisfied in life after struggling through numerous challenges over the past 19 years.

The widow, who lost her husband just after a year of marriage at the age of 26, had to show true grit to get to where she is today.

Rita, who is from Jenjarom in Kuala Langat, said she became disillusioned with life after losing her husband. During that time, she also could not get along with her family members and finally left home in search of a new life.

Rita ended up at an old folk's home in Klang.

"I worked at the home for 17 years and regarded the residents there as my own family. After some encouragement from my friends at the district Welfare Department, I started a home in Taman Mutiara, Kapar," she said.

Rita added that she underwent many difficulties running the home, especially in terms of finance.

She said it, however, gave her an opportunity to meet many like-minded individuals, one of them being L. Malaimaran, who is now the home's vice-president.

Maran, as he is known, joined the home three years after it was established and has been its "strongest pillar" ever since.

Rita said he had come to the home to find shelter for his disabled sister, but decided to team up with her on realising there was a role for him.

"Maran has played a major role in getting the home to where it is today and everyone including the welfare officers, knows him for his commitment and dedication," she said,adding that Maran became a full-time worker at the home five years ago.

From then on, Rita said the home grew from strength to strength. Before long, she was able to obtain a piece of land for the construction of a two-storey building.

"Today, the children and adults are comfortable. They are given four meals daily, clothing, proper bedding and healthcare services.

"All our children attend both school and tuition classes. They travel to school using the home's own transport," she said, adding that it owned two vans and a bus that was donated by the government.

Rita said some of the children had become successful adults.

"I did not expect things to come this far when I decided to start the home," she said, adding that more than 500 individuals had benefited over the years.

Rita Home adviser P. Maheswaren said monthly overhead costs amounted to RM28,000, prompting them to venture into several socioeconomic projects to reduce the financial burden.

He said the home had four projects running, namely a tailoring centre that takes orders for T-shirts and uniforms, a packaging workshop, producing soya bean to be sold at night markets and a recycling centre.

"The projects do not only generate income for the home, but also for the residents involved as they are paid decent wages," he said.

Maheswaran, a volunteer with the home for the past six years, said they had also introduced a meal programme that provided the opportunity for individuals or organisations to sponsor daily meals for the residents.

He said all they had to do was contribute RM500 to the home while choosing a particular day to spend time with the residents.

"They can pick any day, perhaps a birthday, wedding anniversary or the death anniversary of a loved one. We welcome them to the home on the day chosen, where they join the residents during their meal.

"They are also free to organise activities for the residents," he said.

Maheswaran said under the programme that started this year, 175 days had so far been booked. Through this, he hoped that the home's annual expenditure for food would be significantly covered.

"We are also in need of funds to buy physiotherapy equipment and for the future expansion of the two-storey building," he added.

Those with enquiries can call the home at 03-32591266, 017-2002966 (Rita) or 012-2776954 (Maran).

Metro Watch

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 04:40 AM PST


The Africa Asia Destitute Relief Foundation (ADRF) Fifth Vol-unteerism Training will be held on Feb 23 at 20, Jln 20/18, Paramount Garden, Petaling Jaya, from 10.30am to 1pm. Registration is open and admission is free. There will also be a self-defence lesson by renowned NLP interventionist. For details and reservations, call 03-7865 3648 (Asya) 012-210 2404 (Dr Sharon).


There will be a chanting and blessing ceremony held on Feb 15 from 9.30 am to 5pm, and on Feb 16 from 9.30am to 2pm at Chempaka Buddhist Lodge, Taman SEA, Petaling Jaya. There will be an opportunity to perform meritorious deeds of giving (dana) and to receive blessing from the Paritta Chanting. For details, call 03-78803936 or email


Pertubuhan Pelindungan Khazanah Alam (Peka) is organising a 10km race named "Save Our Rainforest Race". The race is on March 2 at Chamang Waterfall in Bentong, Pahang. Participants must form teams of two and register online at with a fee of RM80 per person. For details, call 017-318 2733 (Jules) or 012-356 4717 (Sara).


Take part in the "Some Of Us — S.O.S" charity campaign and donate food items for Jumble Station at LG2 of Sunway Pyramid until Feb 24. Items needed are instant noodles, instant beverages, oats, milk powder, crackers, biscuits, cooking oil, salt, sugar, pasta and canned food. For details, call 03-7494 3035.


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


The Women Institute of Man-agement (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 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.


Kelana Jaya Medical Centre in collaboration with the National Blood Bank, is organising a blood donation drive at its premises on Feb 16 from 9am to 12.30pm. For details, call 03-7805 2111.


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Sales of flowers drop due to holidays

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 04:51 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: The long Chinese New Year holidays has put a bit of damper on the sales of bouquet for this years' Valentines Day today).

Xin Florist and Gift Centre project planner Kenneth Ng said sales have dropped as much as 40% this year compared with last year.

He added that maybe many people were still busy and in the Chinese New Year holiday mood and probably have opted to celebrate a more simpler Valentine's Day this year.

"We have also noticed a growing number of customers approaching us via online to make their purchases.

"Young adults prefer to browse through the selections and purchase the bouquets online and skip the hassle of driving over to place their orders," he said adding that promoting online also helped to boost their sales.

On the trend for Valentines Day this year, he said many couples here were opting for only simple flower bouquets minus all the cute bears and chocolates.

He said despite the hundreds of different designs available, many customers were simply opting for simple designs with no added frills.

"Many customers wanted their bouquets to be filled with fresh red roses while some preferred tulips.

"One customer even requested that we fill up his car boot with fresh red roses to surprise his girlfriend," he said adding that the traditional arrangement of bouquets was a growing trend this year.

He added that the customers these days wished to surprise and shower their loved ones with more than one gift, hence they prefer to present chocolates and teddy bears separately.

Those interested can place their bookings by contacting them at 07-3533188 or logon to

Smallholders are set to increase income with the use of stimulant latex

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 04:49 PM PST

MARAN: About 1.5 million rubber smallholders will enjoy an increase in income by a few percent with the increase production by using the stimulant latex.

The use of the stimulant latex could increase the volume of latex by between 5% and 30% and this should be the culture of the current method of rubber tapping.

Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the rubber industry which contributed about RM30bil to the country's economy should be supported with added value in its methods of producing.

"It is proven that by using the stimulant latex, the production of latex is increased by between 15% and 30% which would also benefit the rubber smallholders by way of increase in income.

"Currently, each rubber tapper could earn between RM1,500 and RM2,000 per month. However, based on our studies they could earn a few more handreds of ringgit with the use of stimulant latex as proposed by the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda)," said Mohd Shafie officiating the launch of the national-level of the using of the stimulant latex in Kampung Bukit Lada here recently.

Also present were Risda chairman Tan Sri Dr Rahim Tamby Chik, Maran MP Datuk Ismail Abdul Muttalib and state Rural Development and Orang Asli Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail.

Mohd Shafie said Risda has played its progressive moves to provide the latex for the smallholders and some RM5mil has been allocated in this programme.

He said claims by some rubber smallholders that the latex would shorten the life of the rubber trees were not true as the studies and research conducted has proven otherwise.

"More latex will be produced by the rubber tree and its life span of about 30 years will not be affected.

"Moreover, there are the replanting programmes, subsidies of proper and recommended fertilisers provided to the rubber smallholder which would support the efforts to increase the latex," he said.

Mohd Shafie said Malaysia remained as the main rubber producer in the world which needed further efforts and initiatives to be conducted to ensure the continuous production of rubber.

He said the Government is targeting that the rubber industry to contribute RM52.9bil to the country's economy by 2020.

"Some RM30bil or 56.7% of the production is contributed by the production of rubber gloves," he said.

Mohd Shafie said despite the competition from synthetic rubber, pure rubber was still needed in tyres manufacturing industries.

He said the smallholders have to adapt to the proper and good agriculture practices for higher yeilds.

"Previously, the rubber tappers were categorised in the poor income group but now they are enjoying a better living with an increase in income," he said.

Mohd Shafie said that the Government also provided insurance scheme for the rubber smallholders aged from 18 to 70 as they are also exposed to all kinds of risk while on duty.

"It is estimated that some 85,326 of the smallholders will benefit from this scheme and the total premium for a year will be at RM1.6mil." he said.

Jail for snatch thief

Posted: 13 Feb 2013 04:52 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: The Sessions Court here has sentenced a labourer to four years in jail for snatching a wallet belonging to a Singaporean national.

Mohd Zain Abdullah, 34, pleaded guilty to robbing Lee Tai Wah by snatching his wallet at a shopping mall along Jalan Tun Abdul Razak here on Jan 26 at around 4.30pm.

At the time of the incident, there was $150 Singapore dollars(RM376), RM100, identification documents and driving licence inside Lee's wallet.

The accused had committed an offence under Section 392 of the Penal Code, which carries a jail term of not more than 14 years and is also liable for a fine and whipping upon conviction.

During mitigation, Mohd Zain pleaded leniency from Sessions judge Mohamad Haidar Abdul Aziz.

The accused said that this was his first offence and he had a wife and a small child to look after.

Mohamad Haidar then said that the offence made by the accused is quite serious and sentenced him to four years imprisonment from the date of the arrest.

Meanwhile in an unrelated case at the same court, a former plantation supervisor was sentenced to a day imprisonment for bribing an auxiliary police personnel of RM200.

Mohd Ali Hamsan, 33, admitted guilty to bribing Kons Mohd Fariq Azwan Mohd Zainal at a seafood restaurant at Hentian Penawar in Kota Tinggi on Jun 21, 2011, at around 9.30pm.

The accused had given the amount to Kons Mohd Fariq as an inducement not to record a lorry transporting oil palm out from Felda Kledang 2.

He had committed an offence under Section 17(b) of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 and could be sentence under Section 24 of the same Act.

Mohamad Haidar then sentenced Mohd Ali to a day in jail and fined him RM10,000 in default or six months imprisonment.

DPP Norashikin Ibrahim and MACC prosecution officer Mohd Sajori Martubi prosecuted the cases while both accused was not represented.


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