Jumaat, 22 Februari 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Park Si-hoo charged with rape

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 11:35 PM PST

KOREA (Reuters) -- The Princess' Man star Park Si-hoo is facing a lawsuit due to an allegation that he raped an actress. The 36-year-old actor has been accused of rape by a 22-year-old woman, Korean media outlets reported quoting officials from Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. Reports explained that the woman was introduced to Park by another actor. All three got together for drinks and the lady told police that she got drunk and blacked out. When she came to she realised that she had been raped.

The day after she filed the charge with the police, Park released an official press release admitting he did have intercourse with the woman at his house but that it was under mutual consent. "I acknowledge I had drinks with the accuser who I met through a friend. But what happened was based on good feelings between a man and a woman. It did not take place by force. I feel no shame about the matter as I have not done anything wrong. Police will clear up the matter," said Park in a statement. He continued to say, "I apologize to my fans who have supported me with sincerity and affection, but there is no cause for you to worry. I work with the investigation to prove my innocence."

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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Divided Egypt opposition attacks Mursi on election call

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 07:42 PM PST

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's opposition attacked President Mohammed Mursi on Friday for calling elections during a national crisis, but face a test of unity in challenging Islamists who have won every poll since the 2011 revolution.

A protester shouts in front of the sign for the court of cassation during an anti-government protest in Cairo February 22, 2013. President Mohamed Mursi on Thursday called parliamentary elections that will begin on April 27 and finish in late June, a four-stage vote that the Islamist leader hopes will conclude Egypt's turbulent transition to democracy. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

A protester shouts in front of the sign for the court of cassation during an anti-government protest in Cairo February 22, 2013. President Mohamed Mursi on Thursday called parliamentary elections that will begin on April 27 and finish in late June, a four-stage vote that the Islamist leader hopes will conclude Egypt's turbulent transition to democracy. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

No sooner had Mursi called the parliamentary polls on Thursday than liberals and leftists accused him of deepening divisions between Islamists and their opponents. Some threatened to boycott voting which starts on April 27th and finishes in late June.

Voting is held in stages due to a shortage of election monitors and Mursi's choice of dates upset the Christian minority, which makes up about 10 percent of the population.

AlKalema, a Christian Coptic group, criticised the presidency for setting the first round to fall on the community's Easter religious holiday.

"This is total negligence of the Coptic community but an intentional move to exclude them from political life," AlKalema said in a statement. Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris made similar statements criticising the vote timing.

Egypt's state TV Channel One and Nile TV said later in separate scrolling news headlines that the presidency would change the date of the parliamentary vote because it falls on Coptic Easter holidays, in an effort to appease the Coptic minority. But no official statement was issued by the presidency to that effect.

Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood which backs Mursi, dominated the old lower house, which was dissolved last year by court order. The new parliament will face tough decisions as Egypt is seeking an IMF loan deal which would ease its financial crisis but demand unpopular austerity.

Mursi called the elections, to be held in four stages around the country, hoping they can conclude Egypt's turbulent transition to democracy which began with the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak by popular protests.

Islamists hailed elections as the only way out of Egypt's political and economic crisis. However, liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei said holding polls without reaching a national consensus would further "inflame the situation".

"The insistence on polarisation, exclusion and oppression along with ... the deteriorating economic and security situation will lead us to the abyss," ElBaradei, a former United Nations agency chief, said on his Twitter feed.

Egypt is split between the Islamists, who want national life to observe religion more closely, and opposition groups which hold a wide variety of visions for the future.

Across Egypt there were scattered protests in Alexandria and Port Said, while a demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square was muted as a sandstorm enveloped the capital.

Like the fractious opposition, the demonstrators had widely varying demands. Some called on Mursi to step down while others pressed for the military, which long backed Mubarak and his predecessors, to step back in to run Egypt.


The National Salvation Front (NSF), which groups a number of parties opposed to the Islamists, said it would hammer out its stand on the elections.

"We will meet early next week to decide on whether we will boycott or go ahead with elections. But as you can see, the opposition overall is upset over this unilateral decision on part of the presidency. This was a rushed decision," said NSF spokesman Khaled Dawood.

Dawood said Egypt should have other priorities such as changing the controversial new constitution produced last year by an assembly dominated by Islamists. "Solve these issues first then talk about elections," added Dawood.

While the opposition can agree on attacking Mursi, previous boycott threats have fizzled out. It remains fractured and disorganised, unlike the well-financed and efficient Islamist election machines which have triumphed in votes for the presidency and parliament.

"We face a difficult political decision and time is running out. The opposition faces a test of its ability to remain united," said Amr Hamzawy, a professor of politics at Cairo University and former liberal lawmaker.


Islamist parties and groups welcomed the new elections and dismissed the boycott threat.

"Elections are the only way out of the crisis. The people must be able to choose those they see fit. The majority of political forces will not boycott the elections," said Tarek al-Zumor of the Building and Development Party.

Essam Erian, member of the Muslim Brotherhood's ruling Freedom and Justice Party, said parliament would unite Egypt's political life.

"The coming parliament will hold a variety of national voices: Islamist, conservative, liberal and leftist. Everyone realises the importance of the coming period and withholding one's vote is a big mistake," Erian said on his Facebook page.

Islamists are likely to form coalitions and dominate the new parliament as they did in the previous short-lived lower house, which was dissolved after the Constitutional Court struck down the law used to elect it.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Abe vows to revive Japanese economy, sees no escalation with China

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 07:13 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Americans on Friday "I am back and so is Japan" and vowed to get the world's third biggest economy growing again and to do more to bolster security and the rule of law in an Asia roiled by territorial disputes.

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington February 22, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington February 22, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Abe had firm words for China in a policy speech to a top Washington think-tank, but also tempered his remarks by saying he had no desire to escalate a row over islets in the East China Sea that Tokyo controls and Beijing claims.

"No nation should make any miscalculation about firmness of our resolve. No one should ever doubt the robustness of the Japan-U.S. alliance," he told the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"At the same time, I have absolutely no intention to climb up the escalation ladder," Abe said in a speech in English.

After meeting U.S. President Barack Obama on his first trip to Washington since taking office in December in a rare comeback to Japan's top job, he said he told Obama that Tokyo would handle the islands issue "in a calm manner."

"We will continue to do so and we have always done so," he said through a translator, while sitting next to Obama in the White House Oval Office.

Tension surged in 2012, raising fears of an unintended military incident near the islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. Washington says the islets fall under a U.S.-Japan security pact, but it is eager to avoid a clash in the region.

Abe said he and Obama "agreed that we have to work together to maintain the freedom of the seas and also that we would have to create a region which is governed based not on force but based on an international law."

Abe, whose troubled first term ended after just one year when he abruptly quit in 2007, has vowed to revive Japan's economy with a mix of hyper-easy monetary policy, big spending, and structural reform. The hawkish leader is also boosting Japan's defence spending for the first time in 11 years.

"Japan is not, and will never be, a tier-two country," Abe said in his speech. "So today ... I make a pledge. I will bring back a strong Japan, strong enough to do even more good for the betterment of the world."


The Japanese leader stressed that his "Abenomics" recipe would be good for the United States, China and other trading partners.

"Soon, Japan will export more, but it will import more as well," Abe said in the speech. "The U.S. will be the first to benefit, followed by China, India, Indonesia and so on."

Abe said Obama welcomed his economic policy, while Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said the two leaders did not discuss currencies, in a sign that the U.S. does not oppose "Abenomics" despite concern that Japan is weakening its currency to export its way out of recession.

The United States and Japan agreed language during Abe's visit that could set the stage for Tokyo to join negotiations soon on a U.S.-led regional free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In a carefully worded statement following the meeting between Obama and Abe, the two countries reaffirmed that "all goods would be subject to negotiations if Japan joins the talks with the United States and 10 other countries.

At the same time, the statement envisions a possible outcome where the United States could maintain tariffs on Japanese automobiles and Japan could still protect its rice sector.

"Recognizing that both countries have bilateral trade sensitivities, such as certain agricultural products for Japan and certain manufactured products for the United States, the two governments confirm that, as the final outcome will be determined during the negotiations, it is not required to make a prior commitment to unilaterally eliminate all tariffs upon joining the TPP negotiations," the statement said.

Abe repeated that Japan would not provide any aid for North Korea unless it abandoned its nuclear and missile programs and released Japanese citizens abducted decades ago to help train spies.

Pyongyang admitted in 2002 that its agents had kidnapped 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s. Five have been sent home, but Japan wants better information about eight who Pyongyang says are dead and others Tokyo believes were also kidnapped.

Abe also said he hoped to have a meeting with new Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who takes over as president next month, and would dispatch Finance Minister Taro Aso to attend the inauguration of incoming South Korean President Park Geun-hye next week.

(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Doug Palmer; Editing by David Brunnstrom and Paul Simao)

Related Stories:
U.S., Japan agree on approach to Trans-Pacific Partnership talks

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Uruguay's Supreme Court rules against dictatorship trials

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 04:53 PM PST

MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Uruguay's Supreme Court said on Friday that a law allowing fresh investigations of dictatorship-era human rights crimes violates the constitution, a ruling that puts dozens of cases into doubt.

Former Uruguayan President Juan Maria Bordaberry (C) walks to the court while being accompanied by undentified relatives, July 28, 2003. REUTERS/Andres Stapff

Former Uruguayan President Juan Maria Bordaberry (C) walks to the court while being accompanied by undentified relatives, July 28, 2003. REUTERS/Andres Stapff

About 200 Uruguayans were kidnapped and killed during the 1973-1985 dictatorship, and the small South American nation remains divided over how to deal with former military officers accused of rights abuses.

Congress passed legislation in 2011 that made new rights trials possible in spite of a 1986 amnesty law shielding most officers from prosecution.

It contradicted the amnesty law by saying rights crimes cannot be subject to a statute of limitations.

Friday's Supreme Court ruling said two articles of the 2011 law were unconstitutional, a decision that effectively re-establishes the amnesty. It drew swift criticism from human rights activists.

"What the Supreme Court has done is protect state-sponsored terrorists," said Irma Leites from the Memory and Justice Assembly group.

The Communist Party said the court was "responsible for defending the impunity of the worst criminals in the nation's history."

Despite the amnesty law, dozens of dictatorship officials have been jailed for rights abuses committed during the dictatorship, including late former President Juan Maria Bordaberry and Gregorio Alvarez, who headed the military government from 1981 and 1985.

Friday's ruling was issued in one particular case, but a magistrate linked to the court called it "a clear signal from the upper echelons of the justice system," suggesting it will serve as a precedent.

Jorge Puente, head of the Centre for Retired Armed Forces Officials, gave a cautious welcome to the verdict.

"We're not satisfied, but we're reassured that things seem to be getting back on track," he said.

Uruguay's moderate leftist president, Jose Mujica, spent more than a decade behind bars for his activities as a member of the Tupamaros guerrilla group in the 1960s and 1970s.

He has urged Uruguayans not to dwell on the brutality of military rule, but he backed scrapping the amnesty as part of his 2009 election platform.

(Additional reporting by Felipe Llambias; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Tennis: Kvitova beats another champion to reach Dubai final

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 05:29 PM PST

DUBAI: Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, showing her best form for more than a year, beat her second champion in a row to reach the Dubai Open final here on Friday.

Kvitova, who ended the title defence of Agnieszka Radwanska on Thursday, beat the 2011 titleholder Caroline Wozniacki, breaking serve in the opening game and rarely looking back in a 6-3, 6-4 win.

In her first final in six months, she now meets fifth seed Sara Errani of Italy, the French Open finalist, who beat her best friend and doubles partner Roberta Vihnci 6-3, 6-3.

The Czech's win over the Dane was full of characteristically fierce ground strokes, struck flat and hard to read, as well as a rising buoyancy which has not been evident over the past year.

Kvitova was delighted to have beaten three top 12 opponents in a row and, beaming at her success, said she was hopeful about her strengthened physical condition despite claiming that her "body was confused".

Asked for an explanation, she said: "I'm trying to be stronger in my legs and to have like stronger muscles, so I can be more quicker and stay quite low for the fast shots.

"That's something I didn't like doing in the past. But I'm still thinking about the bad position I had before, and I'm trying to have the good position - that's why I'm, like, quite confused."

Nevertheless there was definite improvement in her movement, which helped her to break Wozniacki's serve in the opening game, to keep up a fierce attack, and to hold right through to the penultimate game of the first set when she broke Wozniacki again.

Wozniacki often moved superbly, but in the second set she also tried to serve harder, play faster, and generate more pressure of her own.

This helped her break for 3-2, and save break points in the eighth game. In between these two moments of resistance however Kvitova's attack was still too forceful, and she broke back for 3-3, and then broke again to win the match.

There was a frustrating end for Wozniacki, whose final shot, a backhand drive, was questionably called out - but she could do nothing about it because she had used up all her challenges.

"I don't know (if it was out) but it would have been nice to be able to challenge it," she admitted. "It was close, but, you know, I just have to believe it was out."

If Errani and Vinci thought that by taking a break from doubles to play singles only, they would spend time apart it was not entirely successful.

Instead Errani and Vinci found themselves battling against each other for an hour and 23 minutes of old-style rallies in which slice and accurate placement played a bigger part than power and flailing topspin.

Errani prevailed because she imposed her busy approach on the rallies. However it was noticeable that she toned down her some of her grunts, suggesting that comradeship may occasionally have vied with competitiveness for priority.

"It's tough to play against one person who knows what you're going to do with every shot," she admitted of the partner with whom she says she spends 300 days a year, while Vinci described it as like "playing against a sister."

The match finished with a symbolic moment. As Errani's drive landed near the baseline, Vinci surprisingly stopped the rally, called for a computer review, and, on seeing that the shot was shown to be in, discovered she had inadvertently ended the contest without striking the ball back against her friend. - AFP

Cycling: Kenny sends girlfriend, fans crazy with world gold

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 05:23 PM PST

MINSK: Britain's Olympic sprint champion Jason Kenny won the keirin gold medal at the world track cycling championships on Friday, a victory which sent girlfriend Laura Trott, also a title winner, into a Twitter frenzy.

Kenny beat German favourite Maximilian Levy, the 2009 world champion who had lost out to another British rider, double Olympic champion Chris Hoy, last year.

Dutch rider Matthijs Buchli claimed bronze.

Trott, Kenny's girlfriend and a gold medallist in the women's team pursuit on Thursday, praised her man on Twitter.

"Arghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!! Happiest girlfriend in the world!!!! @JasonKenny107 #lovehim x," she tweeted.

Kenny, 24, who delivered Britain's third gold of the championships, had reached the final the hard way, needing to go through the repechage in the first round before earning a place in the final when France's Franois Pervis was disqualified for blocking the Briton.

"It was unbelievable. I put my hopes on Levy, saying I would stick to him and try and pass at the finish, which is how it worked out," Kenny told the BBC.

"I was suffering a crisis of confidence after coming sixth in the team pursuit. But a bit of luck finally went my way and the final unfolded perfectly."

Simon Yates had opened Britain's Friday gold account when he clinched victory in the men's points race, beating Spain's Eloy Teruel by a point.

The 20-year-old Briton had been a point behind the Spaniard before the final sprint, but a third-place finish in the deciding showdown allowed him to snatch gold.

Bronze went to Russia's Kiril Sveshnikov, who was second in the last sprint.

Yates succeeds Australia's Cameron Meyer who won the title in 2009, 2010 and 2012 as world champion.

"I just tried to save some energy for the end and (I started to believe) with 10 laps to go when I realised I needed just one point," Yates told the BBC.

"When you've got a world title on the line you get that energy from somewhere."

In the day's other final, Katarzyna Pawlowska of Poland retained her women's scratch title.

The 23-year-old finished comfortably ahead of Sofia Arreola of Mexico after 40 laps (10km) of the Minsk Arena.

Yevgenya Romanyuta of Russia took the bronze, ahead of Laurie Berthon of France, who lost out on a medal in the sprint to the line.

Pacesetter Caroline Ryan of Ireland was holding on until 12 laps from the end when the Polish defending champion made her move.

But if Ryan's compatriot Martyn Irvine was able to hold on for gold after adopting a similar tactic in Thursday's men's scratch race, Ryan was out of luck.

Pawlowska bided her time and then broke clear two laps out as an exhausted Ryan slipped back down the field to finish seventh.

Giorgia Bronzini of Italy, road racing champion in 2010 and 2011, was a disappointing 11th. - AFP

World track championships results on Friday (finals only):



1. Jason Kenny (GBR)

2. Maximilian Levy (GER)

3. Matthijs Buchli (NED)

4. Andrew Taylor (AUS)

5. Scott Sunderland (AUS)

6. Stefan Botticher (GER)


1. Simon Yates (GBR) 35 points

2. Eloy Teruel (ESP) 34

3. Kiril Sveshnikov (RUS) 30

4. Milan Kadlec (CZE) 30

5. Stefan Kueng (SUI) 27

6. Andreas Graf (AUT) 23

7. Henning Bommel (GER) 20

8. Angelo Ciccone (ITA) 19

9. Thomas Boudat (FRA) 18

10. Kenny De Ketele (BEL) 13

11. Alexander Edmondson (AUS) 10

12. Jesper Morkov (DEN) 7

13. Wojciech Pszczolarski (POL) 5

14. Pavel Gatskiy (KAZ) -17

15. Raman Ramanau (BLR) -58



1. Katarzyna Pawlowska (POL) 12:45. (47.057 km/h)

2. Sofia Arreola (MEX)

3. Evgeniya Romanyuta (RUS)

4. Laurie Berthon (FRA)

5. Kirsten Wild (NED)

6. Dani King (GBR)

7. Caroline Ryan (IRL)

8. Alzbeta Pavlendova (SVK)

9. Leire Olaberria (ESP)

10. Tetyana Klimchenko (UKR)

11. Giorgia Bronzini (ITA)

12. Diao Xiao Juan (HKG)

13. Sarah Inghelbrecht (BEL)

14. Katsiaryna Barazna (BLR)

15. Melissa Hoskins (AUS)

16. Stephanie Pohl (GER)

17. Sarah Hammer (USA)

18. Jarmila Machacova (CZE) - AFP

Cycling: Armstrong cites US Postal success in legal fight

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 05:11 PM PST

WASHINGTON: Lance Armstrong's legal team released studies on Friday conducted by the US Postal Service saying the US government sponsorship of his Tour de France team produced a triple return on investment.

The documents were made public as the US government joined a lawsuit that claims Armstrong - who admitted to doping after being stripped of seven Tour de France cycling titles - defrauded former sponsor US Postal Service.

The lawsuit had been filed by Floyd Landis - a former Armstrong teammate who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France crown for doping to which he admitted - alleging Armstrong defrauded US taxpayers by claiming he was winning Tour de France titles without taking performance-enhancing substances.

Armstrong attorney Robert Luskin said in a statement that talks with federal lawyers collapsed over how to measure damages, with Armstrong's side saying the Postal Service reaped huge benefits from its cycling sponsor deal.

"Those talks failed because we disagree about whether the Postal Service was damaged," Luskin said.

"The Postal's Service's own studies show that the Service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship - benefits totaling more than $100 million."

To support the claim, Armstrong's camp released sponsorship evaluations from 2001, 2002 and 2004 that attempted to place a monetary value on the exposure benefits to US Postal at that time.

The studies claimed that for $32.276 million spent by US Postal from 2001-2004, there was $103.636 million in publicity benefits with never less than a 300 percent return in investment in any year of the sponsorship.

There was no study to show any potential fallout in negative publicity from being attached to Armstrong's now-tainted era in the wake of his confession to being a dope cheat in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey last month.

Links to the greatest doping scandal in cycling history could have provided damaging publicity and a more-recent negative payback for US Postal, already forced to stop Saturday delivery later this year because of financial woes.

Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles last year after the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) uncovered overwhelming evidence, included testimony from 26 witnesses, that he was at the heart of a major doping conspiracy.

FCB Sports Marketing's evaluation of US Postal's 2001 benefits said that $6.138 million in sponsorship investment brought US Postal $18.539 million in exposure and global publicity could boost the value as high as $40 million.

The studies used equivalent costs of advertising time on television coverage of the Tour or print advertising in newspapers or on websites where mentions of US Postal or photos with its logo were shown.

Also measured was the value of Armstrong's image with the US Postal logo in such areas as magazine covers, television talk shows, commercials for other sponsors such as Nike and other appearances and marketing opportunities.

Studies also recognized "intangible benefits" from Armstrong's popularity at the time, but noted "there are no standards and the value lies with the individual corporation and their objectives."

The 2002 sponsorship of $6.138 million was given a return value of $19.297 million, the $10 million in 2003 was given a value of $31.2 million and the 2004 backing, also $10 million, was given a value of $34.6 million. - AFP

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Double-digit adex growth seen in Q1

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 06:50 PM PST

Media specialists are optimistic about seeing double-digit advertising expenditure (adex) growth in the first quarter of 2013, driven by Government and general election (GE)-related adspend.

"We foresee adex growth in the first quarter, driven mainly by the impending GE and Government spend.

"Advertisers will likely take a more cautionary approach until after the GE," says Omnicom Media Group (OMG) managing director Andreas Vogiatzakis.

"Barring other non-spending-related factors, we predict first-quarter total adex to surpass RM3bil this year, compared with RM2.3bil last year," he adds.

Prashant Kumar, IPG Mediabrands president for Asia World Markets and chief executive officer for Malaysia, says he expects adex to grow between 10% and 12% in the first quarter of this year.

"Aggressive government spending, along with the telco, food and automotive segments, should drive growth.

"Also, although February and March typically see a post-Chinese New Year dip, there is no reason for the positive sentiments to discontinue in the first quarter, and hence, we should do better than last year in both months."

Total adex, excluding Internet ad spend, rose to RM912.62mil in January from RM769.68mil a year earlier, according to market research firm Nielsen.

Adex growth during the month was led by pay television, which rose 57.8% year-on-year as well as cinema and in-store media, which grew 12.5% and 12.2%, respectively.

Newspapers still continued to command the lion's share of total ad spend, accounting for 36.2% of total adex in January.

During the month, the product/service categories with the highest ad spend were local government institutions, mobile line services, women's facial care, fast-food outlets and tonics and vitamins.

Prashant says adex growth in January is not surprising: "Actually, the growth is a natural extension of the sentiments in the last quarter of 2012.

"Last year's fourth-quarter spends were 47% higher than January 2012's first-quarter spends, and December spends were 57% higher than January 2012 spends.

"So it's exciting but not a big surprise."

Vogiatzakis says the bulk of the adspend in January was attributed to the hype leading up to the GE.

"The adex growth in its majority is attributed to the pre-election spending, and only a tiny portion of advertisers are trying to launch or promote their campaigns before the election period.

"Having said that, we also believe that by looking at the first-quarter adex, we should not decipher the entire year's trend from that, as the first quarter definitely looks optimistic due to the upcoming GE."

Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios will grow the local film industry

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 06:45 PM PST

DON'T mistake it for Dr No, Goldfinger or Blofeld. The Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios is no villain.

Its CEO Michael Lake met up with StarBizWeek to address concerns by some local filmmakers that the state-of-the-art production facility would lead to a talent drain from Kuala Lumpur to Johor and would also force wages up.

The interview took place in a small but cosy air-conditioned room at the National Film Development Corp (Finas) headquarters in Hulu Klang. In the 60s and 70s, this was the site of the pioneering Merdeka Studios that churned out many P. Ramlee films.

The RM400mil Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios, to be completed in May on 20ha, will set a new benchmark for Malaysia and for South-East Asia. The complex, a collaboration between Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Pinewood Shepperton (the British studio known as the home for the James Bond franchise), will be the region's largest independent integrated studio facility.

Pinewood Iskandar is expected to employ more than 1,000 people even in the starting phase, mostly freelancers (the company itself will only maintain a staff of 50 to 60).

Last week, Malaysian Association of Advertising Filmmakers president Khoo Kay Lye expressed concern of a potential talent drain from the TV commercial production industry in the Klang Valley to Johor.

Lake, in Selangor on Tuesday to attend the launch of Finas' Film in Malaysia Incentive, explains Pinewood Iskandar's side of the story.

He stresses that Pinewood Iskandar will not just be taking people from the existing pool. It and the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) will be proactively training new talent via the Iskandar Malaysia Creative Industry Talent Development Programme.

The programme, to start next month, is designed as an intensive eight to 12-week course. Areas of training include wardrobe, hair, make-up, production accounting, set construction, grip department, and electric department.

"We want to train 1,500 people by the end of this year, and that is around the number of people that we need," he says, adding that the figure will grow exponentially as more and more productions come here.

The first intake, comprising 200 people, will attend seven courses. There will be 24 courses throughout the year.

"We're working closely with JPK NOSS (the Department of Skills Development's National Occupational Skills Standard division) so we're taking people who already have the basic skills − who have learned to be carpenters or electricians, or have a diploma/degree in hair-dressing, make-up or accounting − and we are teaching them so that we can cross-skill them into the (film) industry," he says.

The programme is also open to existing people in the industry who want to upskill.

"Our training programmes will benefit everyone because we're taking people from KL to train as well. We're not saying to people that they have to stay in Johor just because they train there," he adds.

It is also training the trainers from NOSS so the programme can continue after the experts brought from Australia go back.

He says master classes will also be run in Kuala Lumpur for the current producers, directors and writers in the second half of the year.

"We (Pinewood Iskandar) will be looking to train, so we will have a pool of talent from day one," he says.

"Yes, there will be some people who come out of KL to Johor, and many of those will be Johoreans who went to KL anywhere because there was no opportunity previously in Johor. We will attract also some expats from other countries. So we are very conscious of that fact (the need to train proactively). We don't want to be seen as the facility that's draining production out of KL."

The Aussie experience

Lake expects about 80% of the productions will come from abroad in the beginning.

"In the first couple of years while we're training, some of these foreign producers will bring a lot of people in, because directors have their key staff like cinematographers," he says.

Lake, an Australian, ran a film production company in Los Angeles before joining Pinewood Iskandar in December 2010.

He helped open a studio in Queensland, Australia, in the 1990s and he thinks what later happened there would also happen in Malaysia.

"The studio, owned by Village Roadshow and Warner Bros, was also a greenfield establishment. We saw people floating backwards and forwards (geographically), and also they would float between working on international production and working on local production," he says.

"And the crews would have two rates. They knew that local productions had lower budgets so they knew the rates that they would get. They knew there was more money in the international production and they could demand a little higher.

"People there also initially said it would ruin the industry, that there would be a drain of the locals working on international production and the wages would be forced up. It didn't happen. Then they opened the Fox studios in Sydney and more studios in Northern Australia, and everyone just grew with it."

Earlier in the day, the Government launched the Film in Malaysia Incentive (FIMI), a 30% cash rebate on minimum production expenditure of RM2.5mil for domestic film production and RM5mil for foreign production. For TV series, the minimum expenditures are RM193,000 per hour for domestic and RM385,000 per hour for for foreign.

Besides to attract foreign film producers, FIMI is aimed at encouraging Malaysian film producers to produce high quality creative content for both domestic and international markets.

"The Government has been very supportive in pushing us," Lake says. "The incentive is very important not only to grow the industry in Malaysia but for our success. We benchmarked different countries around the world as to what they offer."

The entry level for the rebates appears out of reach for most local production firms. The average production cost for a Malaysian feature film last year was RM1.65mil, according to the Finas website. The average 30-second TV commercial, meanwhile, won't even breach the half a million mark.

He says representatives from the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia have expressed concern that the entry level for local production, at RM2.5mil, will be difficult to reach in the TV commercial field.

According to Lake, the Government doesn't want to set the threshold too low, as it wants to build the industry and bring producers into a bigger area of production whereby there would be more potential for them to export their films.

"Most countries don't allow commercials in their incentives, focusing just on feature films or TV shows. In fact, the UK has only in the last year introduced an incentive for TV (production)," Lake says.

According to the Finas website, the number of local feature films rose 55% to 76 last year. (Gross takings, however, fell 22% to RM97.3mil and average ticket collection was below average production cost.) Based on the number of films released, Lake says Malaysia has a "very strong" industry internally. Last year local films represented about 20% of total box office gross takings in Malaysia,

"Australia only commands about 5% of the local box office. From that point of view, the Malaysian film industry is successful. But those films have been very locally-focused; none has really been designed to travel outside of Malaysia. And to build an industry here − a real international industry − it's about how you can produce locally and get those films sold outside the country," he says.

Johor will benefit much from Pinewood Iskandar. "Our projection is, by 2020 we would've attracted something like RM1.9bil in expenditure into the state because of film production. It's a big export earner. We're working with Matrade in our promotions overseas. We're working with Finas and Tourism Malaysia because there's a big offshoot for tourism from films as well."

In fact, he says, the entire country benefits. "People may come and film in Johor at the studios, but they may want to do their exterior filming in Sarawak, for example. And the good thing about Malaysia is that it has a great diversity of locations."

Ensuring success

Lake is well aware of the failed RM3bil E-Village (Entertainment Village) project near Dengkil, and he is making sure that Pinewood Iskandar will not suffer the same fate.

"When I was first interviewed for this job, I said this to (Khazanah managing director) Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar. You can't have a build-it-and-they-will-come mentality. You have to market and promote what you're doing," he says.

"It's not just marketing and promoting the studios. It's marketing and promoting Malaysia as a film-friendly destination.

And we've been doing it for the last 18 months − before we're even open. We've spent a lot of time going to markets around the world.

"We've been to America and to almost every continent in the world marketing it. Next month we'll be in Mumbai, then Hong Kong.

"In April we'll be in Cannes for the big television market (MIPTV, a tradeshow which attracts over 1,000 production companies)."

Asked on the advantage of having the "Pinewood" brand name, Lake says: "That was very smart of Khazanah. In the early days they went to Pinewood to get the latter's name attached to it. You get a brand identity straight away."

He says the Film in Malaysia Incentive has attracted a lot of interest. "Although it was approved by the economic council in March last year, everyone wanted certainty on the guidelines and terms and conditions."

Pinewood Iskandar is now talking to nine companies, including from Australia, the US, Europe and Thailand.

"No one is really committed as yet. They're putting their numbers together. Everyone is waiting also to see what the guidelines are for the incentive.

"I believe in the next month, we'll start to see higher commitments coming. By the time we open in May, we'll have committed companies," he says.

The University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts, one of the world's top film schools, and Multimedia University (MMU) will introduce a school of cinematic arts at MMU's new campus in EduCity, Johor, next year.

"This will be more to train the top-end people like producers, directors, writers and cinematographers.

"It is 10 minutes' away from the studios so we will work very closely with them in terms of courses and offering internships for their students," Lake says. "So there is a holistic approach to this. E-Village was a narrow approach. This is more of a cross-government, cross-sectoral approach."

Overseas assets crave to continue

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 06:43 PM PST

THE strong interest shown by Malaysian financial institutions and other investors in overseas real estate since 2009 is expected to continue this year even as political and economic troubles in the eurozone unfold, says an international property consultancy.

CB Richard Ellis (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (CBRE) executive chairman Christopher Boyd says they expect to see strong interest in both prime central London and Australian cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane this year.

Says Boyd: "The major Malaysian institutions are not done yet."

He was speaking after a seminar "Navigating Corporate Property Investments in London and Australia" recently.

"Both (London and Australian cities) offer an opportunity to diversify and they are large markets where good investment-grade buildings become available on a regular basis," he said.

However, he said the security of such investments depends to a large extent on the stature of the tenants, and buildings in the world's major financial centres are occupied by some of the world's largest and strongest multinational companies.

This, he said, is the attraction for Malaysian funds which are responsible for managing the assets of their unit holders and shareholders.

In an e-mail reply, CBRE Ltd senior director for Central London Capital Markets Justin Berry said a total of £2.6bil investments flowed into London's commercial property investments from Asia in 2012. Of the £2.6bil (which excludes the purchase price of Battersea Power Station by Malaysian consortium comprising SP Setia Bhd, The Employees' Provident Fund and Sime Darby Bhd), £1.3bil or 48% were from Malaysia and £28mil (1%) were from Singapore.

On his outlook for this year, Berry says "demand will remain strong".

"We expect to see an increase in the proportion/percentage of investment from Asian buyers and an increase in private Asian investors, as most investments to date, have been from institutional investors."

"London has a transparent legal system, easy access to information and data, political stability and is a safe haven compared with other volatile markets. London has also reclaimed the number one global financial and business centre ranking," Berry says.

In addition, the UK real estate investment market has benefited from the depreciation of the sterling compared with other currencies and further benefits from being a European market that is outside the Euro, Berry said.

CBRE's senior director for international investments Michael Andrews says foreign investments into Australia's commercial office sector have been strong the last three years. Among the top investors are Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Andrews says in 2012, just short of A$1bil were invested by Asia-Pacific investors in the Australian commercial property market. The majority of this was sourced from Malaysia and Singapore; A$435mil was attributed to Malaysian sources and A$315mil to Singaporean sources.

"We do expect continued growth in foreign investment activity from all sources Asian and non-Asian investors. Domestic investment activity also picked up in 2012, meaning that there is more competition, compounded by limited new supply coming onto the market," he said.

"2013 is going to be an interesting year because the local funds are investing in Australia and greater competition is expected from domestic players." He added that investors are attracted by a stable and transparent market with high investment returns and sound economic fundamentals. The wide margin on interest rates and yields compared with other markets are attracting foreign capital, reflected in the strength of the Australian dollar.

Separately, The Financial Times reported in early February that the expected wave of distressed sales, for which tens of billions of dollars had been raised, would not materialise.

CBRE chief executive Bob Sulentic, whose company is the world's largest manager of property funds, says "buying distressed real estate is going to be much more competitive than people had predicted".

"There was a belief that there would be a flood of assets coming to market at rock-bottom prices, but it is never going to happen. Sellers of distressed real estate have learnt to be much smarter about how and when they trade and a lot more will be held through the cycle," he says.

The prediction from Sulentic, whose company has US$92bil of property under management, is an ominous one for the the scores of private equity funds in the United States and Europe that have built up financial firepower in anticipation of a sell-off in real estate by financially constrained landlords, the FT reports.

The lower-than-expected level of distressed property sales has already put pressure on real estate private equity firms. particularly those focused on Europe.

He also tells the FT that the commercial property market is increasingly drawing in large, institutional investors, including pension and sovereign wealth funds, and high net worth individuals who are tiring of the low yields on offer in the global bond markets.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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MTUC: Government should manage foreign labour

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 03:33 PM PST

Saturday February 23, 2013

THE Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) wants the Government to be in charge of the employment of foreign workers so that they will be protected, Malaysia Nanban reported.

Its president Khalid Atan said using agents and outsourcing agencies were causing problems and tarnishing the country's image, especially when the workers were being exploited.

At a press conference in Subang, he said some middlemen were making excessive profits from the foreign workers.

He said that sometimes, the rights of these workers were not respected while some had their work permits abruptly terminated.

Khalid added that some workers were forced to work long hours while some were not even paid.

> Makkal Osai reported that a woman in Patna, north India, sold her two-month-old daughter for Rs5,000 (RM284) to a neighbour to pay for her husband's medical treatment.

Shama Parveen, a mother of three sons from Isopur village, said that poverty forced her to sell her daughter Nazia to a woman to raise money for her husband's stomach surgery.

She said it was a difficult decision but she had no other choice.

100 protest against Kelantan Government over land

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 03:32 PM PST

Saturday February 23, 2013

TUMPAT: More than 100 residents and settlers in Pasir Pekan Hilir held a peaceful demonstration against the Kelantan Government for allegedly alienating 400ha of land along the banks of Sungai Kelantan to three companies.

The residents, who gathered here at about 11am yesterday, demanded that Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat hand over the land grant which they claimed the state government had promised them in the 1990s.

Mohamad Ismail, 60, said the recent revelations by non-governmental organisation Orang Muda Berpadu Anti Korupsi (Ombak) that the Sungai Kelantan riverside project developer had leased out the land to another party was shocking.

"At that time, we agreed to move out after being promised a land grant but instead the land now belongs to a private company," he said here yesterday.

Ombak president Wan Khairul Ihsan Wan Muhammad recently showed proof that the developer of the RM2bil Lembah Sireh Riverfront Beautification Project, Liziz Standaco Sdn Bhd (LSSB), had leased out a piece of land to a company on a 99-year leasehold.

He claimed that the 400ha land had been given to LSSB, which had yet to complete the project, by the state government.

Meanwhile, Kelantan People's Action Council president Azmi Ali, who also took part in the demonstration, said the only way for the those affected to get back their land was to change the state government.

Goverment revives housing schemes to help the poor

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 03:31 PM PST

Saturday February 23, 2013

TANGKAK: The Government has revived several abandoned housing schemes to ensure lower-income groups have access to affordable housing.

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said this after presenting keys to Taman Sri Nilam residents here yesterday.

Abdul Ghani, who was accompanied by State Housing and Local Government Committee chairman Datuk Ahmad Zahri Jamil, said Taman Sri Nilam, with 180 units of houses, had been abandoned for more than 10 years.

He said the Government decided to allocate some RM6.2mil to revive the scheme and hired a developer last year to build the homes.

"The developer took about eight months to complete the scheme.

"Today we are happy that the buyers received the certificate of fitness to their houses as well as the keys.

"We want to thank the Housing Ministry, the district office, the Ledang Local Council and all utility departments here for their cooperation," he added.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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Oscar's Best Actress this year is ...

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 01:15 AM PST

Five very talented and beautiful women have been nominated for the coveted Best Actress Award for this years Academy Awards. Five head strung actress who all play different roles that have certainly made an impact in the cinema world.

Each come from diverse backgrounds and some from rather extensive acting background. This year, the Oscars see some very interesting Best Actress nominations and the race to the trophy is going to be tough.

So while we sit and wait to see which of these five women will take home the golden man, here's a little background you might find interesting on each of the nominees.

Jessica Chastain

Some of Jessica's earlier work include TV shows ER and Veronica Mars. When she ventured to the big screen, she took on several stand out roles in movies such as The Help, Lawless, and Zero Dark Thirty which she is nominated for.

Jessica, who graduated from the Julliard School in New York, made her feature film debut in 2008 in the independent film Jolene, a movie about an orphan who spends 10 years traveling cross-country experiencing life, love and heartbreak.

Not only is she a talented actress, Time magazine featured her in the list of the 100 Most Influential People In The World.

This actress is a huge animal lover and a vegan. She is an avid PETA supporter and was recognized by the organization in 2012 as "PETA's 2012 Sexiest Vegetarian." She is also experienced in the self-defense technique of Krav Maga, after taking it up for her role in the movie The Debt.

Naomi Watts

Naomi is no stranger to the big screen. She began her acting career when she was 23 years old in the teen romance, Flirting (1991). She gained critical acclaim for her work in David Lynch's 2001 psychological thriller Mulholland Drive where she played two characters Betty Elms and Diane Selwyn who ventured beyond dreams and reality throughout the movie.

Naomi certainly has an impressive resume with a previous Oscar nomination for the 2004 crime thriller, 21 Grams. This year, she's nominated for her role in The Impossible in which she starred alongside Ewan McGregor.

Jennifer Lawrence

This Kentucky-born lass began her career as a teenager appearing in TV shows like Monk. She has also shared the big screen with Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron in the critically acclaimed film The Burning Plain in 2008.

Lawrence made waves in Hollywood with her portrayal as the daughter of a troubled mother in 2010's Winter's Bone, which garnered her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Most recently, Jennifer starred in the box-office hit, The Hunger Game.

Jennifer, nominated for her role as Tiffany in the Oscar-nominated movie Silver Linings Playbook, is currently working on the sequel to The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Emmanuelle Riva

In Amour, French actress Emmanuelle Riva plays a woman who is loved and cared for by her partner after she suffers a stroke. The Oscar nomination this year makes her the oldest actress to be nominated in this category. She turns 86 on Oscar week.

Emmanuelle first made her debut in the 1959 Alain Resnais French/Japanese romantic movie, Hiroshima, Mon Amour. In the '70s and '80s she worked mostly on stage.

Emmanuelle's role in Amour is said to be her greatest achievement in the film industry. But the humble actress is still surprised at the accolades she's been receiving. "I feel like i'm in a sort of a fairy tale," she tells USA Today. "I didn't expect such success. I'm just living my life by the moment."

Quvenzhané Wallis

Nine-year-old Quvenzhane is the Academy's youngest Oscar nominee. In fact, the young actress had no idea who Oscar was until very recently.

Quvenzhane is nominated for her portayal of Hushpuppy, the main character in Beast Of The Southern Wild. In fact, Hollywood might not have gotten to know this youngster from Louisiana had she not lied about her age when auditioning for her role.

The producers and director was looking for a six-year-old to play the title character, so Quvenchane lied about her age. But her acting chops beat out the other 4,000 contenders.

Free Jack The Giant Slayer Tickets

Posted: 21 Feb 2013 10:42 PM PST

An ancient war is reignited when a young farmhand unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants. Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing the young man, Jack, into the battle of his life to stop them. Fighting for a kingdom and its people and the love of a brave princess, he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend … and gets the chance to become a legend himself.

Catch Jack The Giant Slayer in cinemas on 28 February. Thanks to Warner Bros., we have 70 pairs of tickets to give away. All you have to do is print this page and bring it along with you to our redemption table at TGV 1 Utama. Please see details below.

Please note that tickets will be given on a first come, first served basis. Each person will be given only one pair of tickets.

Redemption Details

Date: 26 February 2013 (Tuesday)

Time: 8.00pm until all tickets are picked up

Venue: TGV 1 Utama

Screening Details

Date: 26 February 2013 (Tuesday)

Time: 9.20pm

Venue: TGV 1 Utama

Rules & Regulations

1.This redemption is open to all eCentral fans.

2.Print out the contest page and redeem it at the venue given in this article.

3.Each page entitles you to two movie tickets only. Each person is allowed to redeem only once.

4.Tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis.

5.Queue-jumping and reserving places in line during the redemption are strictly prohibited. The organizers reserve the right to refuse tickets to anyone found doing so.

6.Tickets are not exchangeable for cash.

7.This movie is not yet rated.. Movie ratings will strictly apply for this movie. The organizers reserve the right to refuse entry to the cinema hall to those not within the permitted age limit. No exceptions will be made at any time for any reason.

8.I hereby expressly consent to the collection, collation, use and/or disclosure of all my personal data by Star Publications (M) Berhad for the purposes of the Jack The Giant Slayer contest.

9.For enquiries, please e-mail ecentralmy@gmail.com

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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PJ food court in sad state

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 04:57 AM PST

THE once popular Taman Selera in Jalan Othman, Petaling Jaya is now a sorry sight due to lack of maintenance.

Business for stall operators at the 30-year-old food court in the Old Town area has dropped and they say customers are put off by the conditions there.

To make matters worse, a stall that burnt down about three months ago, has been left like that, with rats and other pests inhabiting the place now. The burnt stall, besides being a sore sight, is also smelly.

The stench, they said, was from rat droppings, burnt wood and plastic.

Stall operator Chin Chey Chey, 45, said the rodents usually appear after 8pm, forcing them to close their business early.

"We complained about it to the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) officers when they came to collect rental and other fees but nothing has been done so far. When the stall burnt down, so many people from different parties, agencies and government bodies came to visit but that too did not lead to any action," she said.

Chin said the rodents were just one of their problems. Chai Kong Loy, 48, who operates the stall next door, agreed and said, "Maintenance of the food court is not being carried out and this has incurred expenses for us. We had to fix the fans and lights ourselves despite asking so many times. It is really not fair.

"Also, every time it rains, the area gets flooded as the piping system in the ceiling cannot cope with the volume of water, and this results in a backflow," he said.

Chin and Chai are also upset that even sinks have not been provided.

"It is a basic facility that customers expect. Customers who want to wash their hands before and after a meal now resort to using the kitchen sinks. This is where we wash our vegetables and meat and is inconvenient for both customers and us," said Chin, adding that there had been a 50% drop in customers recently.

"We really do not know what to do. It is a constant struggle to stay afloat," she said.

R. Parameswary, 45, who has been operating at the site with her siblings for over 30 years, said the situation used to be so different.

"Customers used to flock here and at times, it used to be difficult to find a seat," she said.

She said the competition from stalls illegally set up outside the area had added to their woes.

"MBPJ workers come only once in three months to catch the rats. They should do this frequently until they get rid of the menace," she said.

Besides this, she said both customers and traders were also wary as snatch theft was a frequent occurrence in the area.

"I have been a victim twice and it happened inside the food court. Also, at night they break in and steal the canned drinks, cigarettes and the small change we leave behind. They have even stolen the metal bars in the ceiling," said Parameswary.

A patron, Anselm Stanislaus, said he stopped eating at the food court after having dinner there recently.

He said it was raining and the rodents were running around.

"There was leakage and the stench there was just unbearable. My wife and I quickly left," he said, adding that although the food served was good, they would not patronise a place in such a state.

MBPJ public relations officer Zainon Zakaria, when contacted, said they were making efforts to clean up the food court and that their staff would visit the place soon to see what more could be done.

Kg Railway residents urged to accept developer’s goodwill gesture

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 04:54 AM PST

SENTUL Raya Sdn Bhd's (SRSB) offer letter to residents of Kampung Railway in Sentul is computer generated and, therefore, does not require a signature, said Deputy Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk M. Saravanan.

He said residents should not make an issue out of this and instead be grateful for receiving the letter.

"We have done all we can to meet their demands.

"They lost the case in court but as a goodwill gesture, SRSB agreed to build the low-cost units and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has even agreed to provide each family temporary residence at its People's Housing Projects (PPR)," Saravanan told reporters at a Chinese New Year charity event held at Indigo Hotel in Kepong recently.

He said this in response to a question about a group of residents who had decided to reject the offer letter issued on Feb 13.

It was reported in a local daily that the residents had claimed the letter was not legally binding or valid as it had no signature.

They had said that they consulted their lawyer and he advised them not to accept the offer.

They are now demanding that SRSB build houses for them first.

The residents are given 14 days to accept or reject the offer, failing which SRSB can take legal action against them.

When asked about the number of residents who had refused the offer letter, Saravanan said only 33% of the 114 residents did so.

Saravanan said those who did not want to move temporarily to the Intan Baiduri and Bukit Jalil PPR flats because of the distance involved could appeal to DBKL for the PPR flats in Batu, Sentul. However, only limited units were available.

Saravanan declined to comment on whether SRSB would take legal action against those who had rejected the offer.

A total of 114 families were issued offer letters and a notice by SRSB to vacate their houses to make way for development.

The letter, among other things, stated that the residents would be allocated low-cost houses, which they could buy for RM45,000.

They would also receive RM1,400 as moving allowance.

The letter also states that their houses will be demolished and they must withdraw their application to gazette the site as a heritage village.

Apart from that, it also specifies that they must not take any legal action against SRSB, the Kuala Lumpur mayor or the Government.

The residents of Kampung Railway are descendants of Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) workers who were promised low-cost flats many years ago by KTMB, through an agreement with SRSB in 1994.

The agreement had promised the construction of low- and medium-cost houses for KTMB staff and pioneer settlers of Kampung Railway.

Meanwhile, at the CNY event organised by Metro Prima Market Traders' Association, the 3,000 people present, including 1,000 senior citizens aged 65 and above and the disabled in Kepong, received ang pow. They also received household provisions.

The event included a spectacular lion dance, Indian peacock dance and kompang performances. The people were also treated to a sumptuous buffet dinner.

The event was held as part of the association's contributions to the community.

"We are happy to help cheer up those in need. Such festive events also bring our multiracial society closer together," said its chairman Yong Shin Chee, adding that this was the fourth time the association was hosting such an event.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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