Sabtu, 16 Februari 2013

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro


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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Defending champion Ding out of Wales Open

Posted: 16 Feb 2013 06:41 PM PST

NEWPORT, United Kingdom: Defending champion Ding Junhui of China was knocked out of the Welsh Open on Saturday when England's Stuart Bingham captured their semi-final 6-5.

Bingham came back from 4-5 down to claim victory with breaks of 93 and 108 and will face Stephen Maguire of Scotland, who beat Judd Trump 6-4, in Sunday's best of 17-frame final.

"I didn't play as well as I did in other matches this week and I had some bad shot selection," admitted Ding.

"I missed key shots to win frames and Stuart just took his chances.

Those misses were stupid, like that easy red to the middle in the sixth frame. The blue in the last frame was quite close to the cue ball so it was difficult to see the angle.

"Stuart is a good player. His safety was good and he played better than me today - when I missed balls he scored heavily."-AFP

Top seed Raonic to face Haas in San Jose ATP final

Posted: 16 Feb 2013 06:39 PM PST

SAN JOSE, California: Two-time defending champion Milos Raonic of Canada fired 12 aces in beating US third seed Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday to reach the final of the $547,000 ATP Tour SAP Open.

The big-serving top seed will try to become the first player since Tony Trabert in 1953-1955 to win the San Jose title three years in a row when he faces German fourth seed Tommy Haas in Sunday's indoor hardcourt final.

Haas, ranked 22nd, defeated US second seed John Isner 6-3, 6-4 in the other semi-final.

Raonic, 22, and Haas, 34, will face each other for the first time in what will be the final match in the history of the event, which will be dropped from the ATP schedule after this year.

Querrey had won both prior matches against Raonic, including last year at Wimbledon, but the World No. 13 dropped only five points on his serve in the match and never faced a breakpoint in overwhelming the American this time.

Haas fired eight aces and connected on 75 percent of his first serves while Isner, known for his big serves, had nine aces but connected on only 59 percent of his first serves.

Haas lost three of his four prior matches against Isner but they had not faced each other since 2009.-AFP

Nadal struggles into Brazil Open final

Posted: 16 Feb 2013 05:27 PM PST

[unable to retrieve full-text content]SAO PAULO: Rafael Nadal struggled into the Brazil Open final on Saturday by downing Argentine lucky loser Martin Alund in three sets and later said he was handicapped by nagging knee pain.


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Britain's business minister urges rethink of lending scheme

Posted: 16 Feb 2013 05:39 AM PST

COVENTRY, England: Britain's business minister called on the Bank of England on Saturday to consider new ways to unblock the flow of credit to small companies in order to help the country's sluggish economy.

Vince Cable said he had written to the number two at the central bank, Paul Tucker, seeking a discussion of possible changes to the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) which was launched last year.

The FLS is central to efforts by the British government and the Bank of England to snap the UK economy out of two years of stagnant growth after the financial crisis enfeebled many banks.

So far, the scheme has boosted mortgage lending but has not been a big help for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

"One of the questions for the immediate future is how Funding for Lending perhaps could be adapted to deal with the needs of SMEs," Cable said.

"It's quite a tricky technical issue and I have written to the deputy governor of the Bank of England to seek a meeting to see how we can address that, if we can."

The scheme allows banks and building societies to access more than 80 billion pounds ($124.19 billion) in cheap finance if they maintain or increase net lending to households and businesses.

Cable, speaking to reporters after delivering a speech at an economics conference organized by the University of Warwick in the English Midlands, said any changes would have to be compatible with European Union rules that prohibit unfair state aid.

Cable said ideas proposed by former top BoE policymaker Adam Posen should be looked at, including the possibility of the central bank buying bundles of corporate loans which could help revive lending to companies, and not just government bonds.

"The governor has taken the view that anything other than rock-solid gilts are not appropriate to have as part of the balance sheet of the Bank of England," said Cable, who is a senior member of the Liberal Democrats, which forms Britain's ruling alliance with the Conservatives.

"I understand where he is coming from but that's quite a rigorous - some critics might say rigid - view. More open-minded thinking about that would be helpful."

King is due to retire in June and he will be replaced as governor of the Bank of England by Mark Carney, who is currently head of the Bank of Canada.

"Many people are looking forward to the advent of the new Canadian governor for possibly injecting some creativity into this currently log-jammed discussion," Cable said, referring to the debate about what assets the Bank of England should hold. - Reuters

After decent rally on Wall St, perhaps time for a pause

Posted: 16 Feb 2013 05:31 AM PST

NEW YORK: Stocks could struggle to extend their seven-week winning streak as the quarterly earnings period draws to a close and the market bumps into strong technical resistance.

Many analysts say the market could spend the next few weeks consolidating gains that have lifted the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 .SPX by 6.6 percent since the start of the year.

The S&P 500 ended up 0.1 percent for the week, recovering from a late sell-off on Friday after a Bloomberg report about slow February sales at Wal-Mart (WMT.N) triggered a slide in the retailer's shares. It was the index's seventh week of gains.

Odds of a pullback are increasing, with the market in slightly overbought territory, said Bruce Zaro, chief technical strategist at Delta Global Asset Management in Boston.

"I do suspect the closing of the earnings season will lead to at least a pause and possibly a pullback," Zaro said. The S&P 500 could shave 3 to 5 percent between now and early April, he said.

Fourth-quarter earnings have mostly beaten expectations. Year-over-year profit growth for S&P 500 companies is now estimated at 5.6 percent, up from a January 1 forecast for 2.9 percent growth, and 70 percent of companies are exceeding analyst profit expectations, above the 62 percent long-term average, according to Thomson Reuters data.

On Thursday, Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is due to report results, unofficially closing out the earnings period. Investors will be keen to see its quarterly numbers, especially after the Friday's news report that rattled investors.

The S&P 500 has gained 4.3 percent since Alcoa (AA.N) kicked off the earnings season on January 8.

The approaching March 1 deadline for across-the-board federal budget cuts unless Congress reaches a compromise adds another reason for caution, especially with recent economic data indicating the recovery remains bumpy.

Manufacturing output fell 0.4 percent last month, the Federal Reserve said on Friday, but production in November and December was much stronger than previously thought.


The S&P 500 has been trading near five-year highs, and it notched its highest level since November 2007 this week. But the gains have pushed the benchmark index almost as far as it is likely to go in the near term, with strong resistance hovering around 1,525 and 1,540, one analyst said.

As a result, the index is set to move sideways, said Dave Chojnacki, market technician at Street One Financial in Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania. "We just don't have the volume or the catalyst right now" to go above those levels, he said.

At the same time, other analysts say, the market has not shown significant signs of slowing, including a break below 15- and 30-day moving averages.

Such moves would be needed to show that momentum is slowing or that the market is at risk of a correction, said Todd Salamone, director of research for Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio. The S&P 500's 14-day moving average is at 1,511 while the 30-day is at 1,494. The index closed Friday at 1,519.

Recent M&A activity, including news this week of a merger between American Airlines and US Airways Group (LCC.N), helped provide some strength for the market this week and optimism that more deals may be on the way.

In the coming days, the market will focus on minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting, due to be released on Wednesday, which could provide support if they suggest the Fed will remain on its current course of aggressive monetary easing.

The Fed minutes released in January spooked markets a bit when they revealed that some Fed officials thought it would be appropriate to consider ending asset purchases later in 2013. U.S. Treasury yields rose on that news, though market worries about a near-term end to quantitative easing have since faded.

Among other companies expected to report earnings next week are Nordstrom (JWN.N), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N) and Marriott International (MAR.N) - Reuters

EU says G20 will set hard debt targets in Sept

Posted: 16 Feb 2013 05:26 AM PST

MOSCOW: The Group of 20 nations will pledge to reduce public debt but are likely to agree on concrete targets only at a leaders' summit in September, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

"There is a clear commitment to credible medium-term plans of fiscal adjustment and I would expect that in the final communiqu we will state that we will define more precisely G20 policy in the St. Petersburg summit," Rehn told Reuters.

The world's 20 biggest economies decided last year in Mexico that they would come up with credible and ambitious country-specific targets for debt-to-GDP ratios beyond 2016, and clear timetables to achieve them.

"We expect to have concrete draft proposals on the table (by April) so we can build on that and agree more clear on quantifiable targets, because it's important that you maintain the momentum of fiscal consolidation," given still high levels of public and private debt in advanced economies, Rehn said.

He pointed out that in Europe public debt was around 90 percent of gross domestic product. Japan, which wants to stimulate its stagnant economy, has a public debt of more than 200 percent of GDP.

"There is no way that we can afford to get away from the medium-term fiscal objectives," Rehn said.

European policymakers believe that once debt exceeds 90 percent of GDP it becomes a drag on economic growth, as debt servicing eats up scarce resources.

"We have a common view on the need to have a credible medium-term plans for fiscal consolidation, which is also essential so we have foundation for sustainable growth," Rehn said.

A debt-cutting pact struck in Toronto in 2010 will expire this year if leaders fail to agree to extend it at a G20 summit of leaders in St Petersburg in September.

The United States, which has a debt of 73 percent of GDP, plans to consolidate its public finances, but does not want to do it too abruptly to avoid triggering a recession.

European and other G20 countries want Washington to present a plan to reduce its debt, but only in the medium term, because a sharp drop in U.S. government spending would have a highly negative impact on world growth.

"It has been underlined in the discussion, and rightfully so, that it is of a paramount importance that the United States will be able to resolve its fiscal cliff building on the partial deal," Rehn said.

U.S. politicians were able to avoid an initial year-end deadline for spending cuts with a deal that raised taxes on the wealthiest while leaving lower rates in place for most Americans. The agreement to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" postponed automatic cuts for two months.

"We support the United States in that endeavour, because we're all in the same boat, we're all depend on each other and it's crucial for the global economy and also for the European economy that the U.S. will be able to have a more comprehensive solution to the fiscal cliff and especially have a credible, medium-term plan of fiscal consolidation." Rehn said. - Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Films from Iran, Chile, Romania lead pack for Berlin prizes

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 09:26 PM PST

BERLIN: A Chilean feel-good movie about ageing, a picture made in secret by Iranian dissident director Jafar Panahi and a drama about Romania's new rich were the odds-on favourites for prizes Saturday at the Berlin film festival.

In what critics called a fair-to-middling competition at the Berlinale, now in its 63rd year, women of a certain age were the breakout stars, with views from around the world of how middle age can be just the time for a fresh start.

"Directors seem to have discovered the value of maturity and been anxious to explore the female face and psyche as they age, gracefully or otherwise," the trade magazine Hollywood Reporter wrote ahead of the awarding of the Golden Bear top prize by the jury president, Chinese director Wong Kar Wai.

Audiences swooned over Chile's "Gloria" starring Paulina Garcia, until now known mainly for television roles, as a divorcee pushing 60 who is determined to seek happiness despite the knocks life has to offer.

"Gloria is like Rocky: she takes a hit, picks herself up and gets back out there," said director Sebastian Lelio, 38, who took inspiration from his mother's friends, a generation of survivors of the country's brutal military dictatorship.

The picture topped a critics' poll by British film magazine Screen taken after 14 of the 19 competition films had been shown.

Another fierce performance, this time with a darker tinge, came in the Romanian drama "Child's Pose" by Calin Peter Netzer, about a wealthy and controlling mother who fights to get her son acquitted after he kills a poor teenager with his car.

Luminita Gheorghiu dazzled movie-goers in the role and was hotly tipped next to Garcia for a Silver Bear prize as best actress.

Panahi appears on screen in his haunting feature "Closed Curtain", for which he flaunted a film-making ban imposed by the Iranian authorities to show the crushing effect state oppression is having on his life and work.

The picture was the front-runner in a poll of German critics published by Berlin's daily Tagesspiegel newspaper, which called the picture "harrowing" and "courageous".

In a strong year for eastern European entries, Oscar-winning Bosnian director Danis Tanovic drew applause for "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker" which told the true story of a desperately poor Roma couple denied life-saving medical coverage.

Tanovic said his rage over the scandal led him to seek out the protagonists, who play themselves in the ultra low-budget docu-drama.

Other crowd-pleasers included "On My Way", an upbeat road movie with Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche's turn in "Camille Claudel 1915" as Rodin's ex-lover whose family confined her to an asylum, and what Steven Soderbergh called his last cinematic venture, the thriller "Side Effects".

Quirky US buddy movie "Prince Avalanche", bullying drama "Harmony Lessons" - the first Kazakh picture ever in competition in Berlin - and Austrian bad boy director Ulrich Seidl's "Paradise: Hope" set at a teen diet camp also found fans.

Typical of the Berlinale, the first major European film festival of the year and a champion of politically charged movies, many pictures sharply divided critics.

"The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman" starring Shia LaBeouf in a romantic thriller set in Bucharest had many reviewers howling but picked up a few supporters.

The hotly anticipated woman's Western "Gold" featuring German star Nina Hoss had a hometown advantage but many found the two-hour Yukon trek stultifying.

And Canada's "Vic+Flo Saw A Bear", which the New York Times highlighted as "a determinedly odd mishmash of lesbian romance, melodrama and thriller" in a positive review, left director Denis Cote explaining his intentions to a baffled press pack.

The Berlinale, which wraps up Sunday with screenings of the most popular among its more than 400 films, last year awarded the Golden Bear to Italian veterans Paolo and Vittorio Taviani for the docu-drama "Caesar Must Die" about prison inmates staging Shakespeare. - AFP

"Gold" shines on Paralympic trio despite Pistorius affair

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 09:24 PM PST

BERLIN: The inspirational story of how three athletes turned their individual disabilities into Paralympic gold won over the audience at the world premiere of "Gold - You Can Do More Than You Think" on Friday.

But despite the stirring narrative, it was impossible to escape the shadow cast by probably the world's best known Paralympian, the South African Oscar Pistorius, accused of the Valentine's Day killing of his girlfriend.

One of the stars of "Gold" admitted he had been shocked by the Pretoria tragedy.

"It's just incredible," Australian wheelchair Paralympian Kurt Fearnley told AFP.

"I met him a couple of times, he seemed like a gentle, kind person. That's someone's daughter, someone's son. It's tragic."

With German president Joachim Gauck and the documentary's three stars in the audience at the 63rd Berlinale, South African director Michael Hammon insisted "It's time for opportunities, not sympathy" for the disabled in our society.

"I've never had an ovation like that for any of my work before," he admitted, clearly moved by the thundering applause for the film and its three stars.

While the backdrop to "Gold" is how Kenyan runner Henry Wanyoike, German swimmer Kirsten Bruhn and wheelchair racer Fearnley prepared for the 2012 London Paralympics, the focus is on their personal stories.

"You can forget about walking," Bruhn recalls being told by a doctor as a 22-year-old in 1991 after being left paralysed following a motorbike accident while on holiday in Greece.

"I looked out the window at the clouds and wanted to be on one. There were moments when you wanted to close your eyes forever, but you have to go on."

Having started competing in 2002, Bruhn won the first of her three 100m breaststroke Paralympic gold medals just two years later in Athens.

"Getting the medal and hearing the anthem was very emotional. The best day of my life was a result of the worst day of my life," she admitted.

Blind since losing his sight as the result of a stroke when aged just 21, Wanyoike recalls how life in his Kenyan village changed forever after he woke up one morning having lost 95 percent of his vision.

"Friends left me as they thought I was cursed. They thought it must have been because of alcohol or drugs, but I have never touched either," said the 38-year-old.

"I thought the best thing would be to die and forget everything."

Having rebuilt his confidence at an rehabilitation clinic, Wanyoike made his Paralympic debut at Sydney 2000, where he won 5,000m gold, only just missing the world record despite virtually dragging his able-sighted guide over the line.

A significant problem later emerged as none of his guides could keep up with him as he went on to run in able-bodied races and became one of the world's fastest long-distance runners.

"He's more than a friend or a brother," Wanyoike said of current guide Joseph Kibunja, who was by his side when they set the 5000m T11 world record on their way to gold at the 2004 Paralympics.

"Since the moment he first won gold, he has never stopped smiling," said Kibunja.

Whether surfing at a local beach or scaling a barbed wire fence using just his body and hands on his parent's New South Wales farm, Fearnley, who was born without the lower part of his back, refuses to let his disability hinder him.

"I've built a life about being independent and strong," said the 31-year-old wheelchair racer who won a marathon gold at both the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

"My main fear is being told I can't do something because I am in a wheelchair."

The trio encountered highs and lows in London, but while Bruhn, 42, admits feeling daunted with retirement looming, Fearnley is focused on the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro and is mentoring promising wheelchair athletes.

Wanyoike is working with young Kenyan long-distance runners and has set up several local initiatives including the Cows 4 Kenya farming project, funded by the Boris Becker Foundation.

"I have lost my sight, but not my vision," he said. - AFP

Deneuve shines in Berlin contender 'On My Way'

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 05:28 PM PST

BERLIN: French icon Catherine Deneuve's feel-good road movie "On My Way" ended the Berlin film festival competition on a high note Friday at an event that has highlighted fresh starts for older women.

Deneuve plays Bettie, the owner of an ailing family restaurant in a small town in Brittany who, freshly dumped by her lover for a younger rival and driven to distraction by her elderly mother, pops out to buy cigarettes one day and just keeps driving.

"It's an impromptu journey and along the way all sorts of things happen. Bettie started asking new questions and getting new answers," Deneuve, 69, told reporters after a warmly received world premiere.

"Some people always attract trouble, there are people who kind of draw mischief. She's got her feet on the ground, she got a fairly healthy, pragmatic approach to life and she doesn't generally get it wrong when she trusts people."

The film is by Emmanuelle Bercot, one of three women directors in competition at the 63rd Berlinale, which will be awarding its Golden Bear top prize at a gala ceremony Saturday night.

The upbeat picture sees Bettie end up first at the French equivalent of a honky tonk bar, where a goofy but sweet younger man plies her with caipirinhas and beds her, telling her the next morning, "I bet you were a knock-out when you were young."

Bettie climbs back behind the wheel when her estranged adult daughter calls and asks her to pick up her son and take him to his grandfather's house because she has a job interview.

They hit the road together, and the boy warms to Bettie's down-to-earth sassiness.

When she runs out of cash, she realises her only option is to take the boy to a seaside hotel which has invited the 1969 beauty queens of France's various regions to a reunion photo shoot - an offer she had initially turned down.

In a performance with little vanity and long on humour about middle age, Deneuve looks at the pictures of herself in her prime with a wry smile.

And when the boy's attractive grandfather finally arrives to pick him up, the fact that the final plot twists are predictable did not dampen the fun for the Berlinale audience.

"It's not easy for a woman to get older, and it's not easy if that woman is an actor," Deneuve said.

"That doesn't mean you need to get obsessed about it. If there's nothing you can do about it, you might as well learn to live with it."

She said she was drawn to the chance to work with Bercot, herself an actress by training, as well as the "optimistic" story.

"There are retirement homes where people fall madly in love and get married aged 70, 75 or older, it happens all the time," she said, adding that her character was "definitely not a diva".

Bercot, 45, said she wrote the film's screenplay with Deneuve in mind.

"She is just herself in the film, someone who is very easy-going," she told AFP, noting that that simplicity may be far from the image most cinema-goers have of the cinema legend.

"I like her enormously as an actress and a woman. She is very inspiring."

Films featuring seasoned actresses in starring roles have made a big splash at this year's Berlin festival and are widely expected to take home prizes.

Audiences swooned over Chile's "Gloria" starring Paulina Garcia, until now known mainly for television roles, as a divorcee pushing 60 who is determined to seek happiness despite the knocks life has to offer.

Another fierce performance, this time with a darker tinge, came in the Romanian drama "Child's Pose" by Calin Peter Netzer, about a wealthy and controlling mother who fights to get her son acquitted after he kills a poor teenager with his car. - AFP


The Star Online: Metro: Central

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

Metro Watch

Posted: 16 Feb 2013 05:05 AM PST


Besraya (M) Sdn. Bhd will be closing the U-turn lane in Jalan Istana on Monday and Tuesday to facilitate road works. The closure will be from midnight to 5am. Vehicles from Jalan Istana heading to Jalan Syed Putra are advised to use the Loke Yew roundabout, while vehicles from Jalan Istana heading to the city centre and the air force base can use the Pudu roundabout and exit via Jalan Yew, Jalan Sungai Besi and Jalan Istana.


The left-most lane of Jalan Cheras (Kajang-bound), near Taman Segar in front of the Esso and Caltex petrol stations, will be close from Monday until April 20 to facilitate utilities relocation works along the 200m stretch. The lane closure will be in stages from 9pm to 5am.


The left-most lane on the Jalan Cheras-Taman Len Sen ramp will be closed from Monday until March 5 to facilitate tree relocation activities along the 250m stretch. The lane closure will be from 10pm to 5am.


The two left lanes of a 150m stretch of the Lebuhraya Hubungan Timur Barat underpass (Kajang-bound) will be closed from Monday until Feb 28 to facilitate tree relocation activities. The lane closure will be from 10pm to 5am.


Volunteers of Hope Team and the National Cancer Council, Malaysia (Makna) is celebrating World Cancer Day today at Monumen Alaf Baru, Precinct 2, Putrajaya, from 7am to 1pm. Themed "Inspiring Possibilities", it is an event specially for cancer patients and survivors as well as their families to inspire cancer them to fight the battle and see the possibilities in life. For information, contact Yusof Aris 012-207 8573.


The Petaling Jaya City Council will be holding a Chines New Year and Chap Goh Mei Open House on Feb 24 at Taman Jaya, Petaling Jaya. The event, to start at 8pm, will have calligraphy competitions, stage perfor-mances, refreshments, lion and dragon dances, and stilt walkers. Log on to


There will be a health check-up and legal advice programme organised by PPR Sri Pantai Lembah Pantai MIC branch tomorrow, from 8.30am to 2pm, at Block 102, Dewan Orang Ramai PPR Sri Pantai. Visitors can check their blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol as well as receive free medicines. There will also be question and answer sessions on case proceedings as well as free legal advice residents. Contact P.Ganesan 016-6450199.


Kelana Jaya Medical Centre (KJMC) together with the National Blood Bank will be organising a blood donation drive at Kelana Jaya Medical Centre (KJMC) today from 9am to 12.30pm. Contact Customer Service & Marketing Department at 03-7805 2111.


Posted: 16 Feb 2013 05:05 AM PST

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Shine a light

Posted: 16 Feb 2013 02:35 AM PST

Ghazal maestro Pankaj Udhas reminds the masses that he is a giant in his field of music.

The great ghazal maestro Pankaj Udhas, hailing from India, has such an engaging dulcet voice that you just can't help but be riveted to the spot while you absorb his sublime mood-setting music.

Time and again, he has mesmerised concert halls worldwide. Even if you are not much of a ghazal fan, the experience of seeing the ghazal master in action was enough to make you a believer in no time.

Pankaj's live performance at Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) last Sunday was like a breath of fresh air. It was far away from the showbiz-centric concerts here. No fireworks and cheesy dance moves. This was a true artiste on stage – a man tied to his music tradition and a show driven by the purity of his voice.

Pankaj was a joy to experience live as he sang for nearly three hours during the Pankaj Udhas 2013, Live In Malaysia concert (organised by Hitman Solutions Sdn Bhd).

It was a rare treat indeed to have the 61-year-old ghazal guru come all the way here; more than 1,000 fans flocked the swank venue.

The last time he played in Kuala Lumpur was more than 15 years ago.

Never mind if you didn't understand a word of Urdu, Pankaj's music spoke a universal language. His magical voice was particularly engaging, sending fans reeling back to the time of the movie Ghayal in 1989 where the hit song Mahiya Teri Kasam was made popular.

To bring a casual air to the evening, there were even wolf whistles from the crowd when evergreen tunes like Thodi Thodi Piya Karo, Zaalim Yeh Kya Nikaali Raffarm, Niklo Na Benaqab Zamana Kharab Hai and his best-loved hit, Chitthi Aayee Hai, from the movie Naam, were sung.

Pankaj needed no introduction to his fans. They knew his songbook by heart. For them, he is the King of Ghazal, a renowned playback singer, who hailed from Jetpur and is the youngest of three brothers who are all into ghazal music.

He began music lessons from the age of five and had his first stage performance at 11 during the Sino-Indian War. Pankaj has hundreds of ghazal songs to his credit and has sung for Bollywood films.

On record, he is one of the greatest ghazal singers around, in the same league with (the late) Jagjit Singh, Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hassan, Talat Mahmood and Begum Akhtar.

According to a recent Google Search Trends poll, the late Jagjit Singh was people's first choice – both in India and abroad, when it came to songs, lyrics, and mp3s of ghazals. Pankaj takes the second place in his online popularity in India.

When you get Pankaj to showcase a concert, he gives you nothing less than an immensely entertaining performance backed by his prolific musicians on tabla, violin, flute and santoor-guitar. Pankaj also showcased his skills in playing the harmonium, the perfect instrument to take us along with his sweet vocals.

On stage, he didn't dilute any of his ghazal songs and delivered all the 18 songs as you hear them on his albums.

The result was an unforgettable musical journey with such beautiful renditions of Chandi Jaisa Rang, Ek Taraf Uska Ghar, Sabko Maloom Hai Main Sharabi Nahin and Ghungroo Toot Gaye in the second half of the show.

The ghazal concert marathon came to an end at almost midnight and for some hardcore fans, the three-hour show was just not enough.

"I wish I could hear those dulcet tones live again," said a female fan in her 60s, who was left awestruck.

You can't blame her. Pankaj had given his fans a night to cherish. True, ghazal is a niche market genre, but it was obvious at this Pankaj concert that ghazal has not lost its shine.

Record sales double for Grammy performers, young and old

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 05:30 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: Grammy performers did not go home with just trophies last weekend. Winning bands like indie-pop trio FUN. and British folk band Mumford & Sons saw sales of their singles and albums more than double after appearing on the music industry honors show.

Sales figures released on Friday by Nielsen showed a 182 percent increase in sales of FUN.'s hit single "We Are Young" following their Song of the Year and Best New Artist Grammy victories on Sunday.

Album of the Year winner's Mumford & Sons saw sales of its "I Will Wait" single shoot up 116 percent, while Australian artist Gotye's "Making Mirrors" album from 2011 increased 124 percent from the week before the annual music telecast.

Rising R&B star Frank Ocean, who took home two Grammys, saw sales of his album "Channel Orange" climb 140 percent.

The numbers mostly reflect a single night of sales increases from the prior week, predominantly digital downloads, immediately following the Grammy Awards show in Los Angeles on February 10.

Sales figures for the full week will be released as usual by Nielsen SoundScan on Wednesday and will include both digital and physical album sales.

Grammy winners were not the only ones to benefit from the annual music industry showcase.

Veteran rockers The Band saw its greatest hits package climb 203 percent after a multi-artist tribute at the show to late drummer Levon Helm.

Sales of "Take Five," the distinctive 1959 tune by jazz pianist Dave Brubeck who died in December, shot up 248 percent after a tribute by fellow jazz musicians Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Kenny Garrett, according to Nielsen.

The Grammys also proved a boost for the blossoming career of 26 year-old southern California artist Miguel. After performing his single "Adorn" on the show, sales rose 229 percent compared with the week prior.

Mumford & Sons, Frank Ocean, Gotye and The Band record on labels owned by Universal Music Group ; the music of Miguel and the late Dave Brubeck is released by units of Sony Music , and FUN. is signed to record label Fueled by Ramen, a unit of privately-held Warner Music.


The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

BR1M-ing with joy

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 06:45 PM PST

KOTA KINABALU: A total of RM1 million worth of Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) 2.0 has been distributed to 2,000 eligible recipients at the Sungai Sibuga constituency in Sandakan.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman who was present at the constituency in Libaran to make the distribution to the people said the BR1M 2.0 was done in several phases as there were more than 10,000 eligible recipients in his constituency.

The recipients included 6,084 people from the BR1M 1.0 getting RM500 each, as well as new applicants and those from the single young people scheme.

Musa who is Sungai Sibuga Assemblyman said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak decided to announce the second round of BR1M distribution when unveiling the National 2013 Budget because Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders have told him that it had really touched the hearts of the rakyat.

"The rakyat were really happy after receiving the BR1M last year so we told him that it would be good if there is another round of it.

"Thankfully, the Prime Minister announced not only the second round of BR1M but also a new category for young and single people earning less than RM3,000 a month in the National 2013 Budget," he said.

In this respect, Musa said he had always been asked for a reason why Sabah continues to be the stronghold for Barisan and Umno.

"If the Government and Prime Minister are good, the people of Sabah will not have the heart not to vote for Barisan when election comes as they want continuity of the many programmes that has been introduced.

"All the opposition has done is introduce Bersih 1, Bersih 2 and create chaos but in Barisan we have BR1M 1 and BR1M 2 to help people," he said.

Musa said the people of Sabah should not be under estimated, as they would not hesitate to change if they see a non-performing government, adding that they would reciprocate if the Government was good to them.

New police deputy chief sworn in

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 06:43 PM PST

KUANTAN: Newly-appointed Pahang deputy police chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Jamaluddin Abd Majid has pledged to continue the current policing system while rectifying any weaknesses.

He hoped that officers and personnel would cooperate with him to ensure that their responsibilities to the public are diligently handled.

"I will shoulder this responsibility with sincerity to make sure the Pahang contingent continues to be excellent and effective in tackling crime," said SAC Jamaluddin at the assumption of duties ceremony here recently.

SAC Jamaluddin, formerly the Selangor police contingent Management Department chief, replaced SAC Datuk Fatimah Ghazali who had been transferred to Bukit Aman as the chief assistant director of management (personnel) of the Management Department.

During the ceremony, SAC Mohd Zakaria Ahmad, formerly the Kedah CID chief, also assumed duties as the Pahang CID chief from Supt Nordin Mustafa.

Meanwhile, acting Management Department chief Supt Mohamad Laham handed over duties to ACP Mohd Anuar Othman, formerly the assistant director of management (administration) of the Bukit Aman Management Department. The Pahang contingent's Police Family Association (Perkep) also had a new vice-chairman in Datin Alini Abdullah who replaced Fatimah.

Pahang police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Sharifuddin Ab Ghani witnessed the ceremony.

He had earlier pinned the SAC rank insignia on Mohd Zakaria, who had been promoted up from Asst Comm. Also present were district police chiefs, heads of departments and senior police officers of the state contingent.

Constituents ask for BR1M initiative to be an annual an event

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 06:44 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: Recipients of the 1Malaysia People's Aid hope that the Government will continue allocating the financial assistance on yearly basis to the needy.

Housewife Liang Liew Siow, 64, said she was grateful as the RM500 had helped to ease the burdens of many recipients like her.

"The distribution of the money is right on time for us to celebrate the Lunar New Year," she said recently.

Liang was among the 2,500 eligible recipients from Pulai constituency who received their money from MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

Another recipient, pensioner Lee Chin Choon, 63, also concurred with Liang and hoped that the Government would extend the financial assistance to eligible Malaysians on yearly basis.

"I'm grateful to the Government for receiving the money for the second consecutive year," he said.

Meanwhile, Nur Jazlan said the distribution of the money would be held in two stages involving 11,000 and 22,000 eligible recipients from the constituency.

Separately, the two-term MP said he would not compete in the upcoming general election, if requested to step down by Prime Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"If the leadership thinks its time for me to make way for new blood, I will abide by the decision," said Nur Jazlan adding that many leaders tend to hold on to their post for too long and unwilling to relinquish their positions.


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