Selasa, 5 Mac 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Stunned Cuba ponders future without Chavez

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 07:54 PM PST

HAVANA (Reuters) - A mix of sorrow, self-interest and dread took hold of Cuba Tuesday evening as word spread like wildfire that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who had done so much for the country, was dead.

Supporters of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez show pictures of him as they react to the announcement of his death outside the Venezuelan Embassy in Buenos Aires, March 5, 2013. Chavez died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer, ending 14 years of divisive rule. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

Supporters of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez show pictures of him as they react to the announcement of his death outside the Venezuelan Embassy in Buenos Aires, March 5, 2013. Chavez died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer, ending 14 years of divisive rule. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

While the official evening newscast devoted its entire program to events unfolding in Caracas, the government reaction was slow in coming.

Later in the evening Cuba declared three days of mourning, and eulogized Chavez saying his "Bolivarian Revolution" was "irreversible" and that Cuba would continue to "accompany Venezuelans in their struggles."

Chavez's resolute ideological embrace of Cuba helped propel the once isolated communist island back into the centre of regional politics, and oil-rich Venezuela's largesse under Chavez proved a life saver for the embargoed and near bankrupt Caribbean island after the collapse of its long-time benefactor, the Soviet Union.

Even so, analysts do not expect Chavez's death to have any short-term impact for Cuba.

"I'm sure the Cubans are concerned, but I don't think this will be a game changer for the Cubans. They have weathered worse storms before," said Frank Mora, former deputy assistant secretary of defence for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the first Obama administration.

Chavez is viewed in Cuba as an irreplaceable leader of the region and saviour of socialism, portrayed day and night by official media as a champion of regional unity, independence and the island.

During his two-year battle with cancer, Chavez had four operations in Cuba and spent months receiving treatment on the island.

"Once again the horizon for all of Latin America has grown dark," Havana snack vendor, Eric Rodriguez, said.

"I only hope Venezuela can support this blow, but the road ahead for them won't be easy, nor for Cuba," he said.

There were tears for the 58-year-old Venezuelan and his family over the tragedy of succumbing to cancer. Then there were the calculations over what events in Caracas might mean for daily life on the Communist-run island, so dependent on the preferential trade relations under Chavez.

There was dread that Cuba would once more lose a strategic ally and be plunged back into a grave economic crisis similar to the scarcity in the 1990s that followed the demise of the Soviet Union.

Soon after Chavez won his first election in 1998, Fidel Castro anointed the young and vitriolic firebrand as his revolutionary successor in Latin America.

President Raul Castro, who replaced his ailing brother in 2008, has strengthened relations with Venezuela even as he forged closer ties with other oil-producing nations such as Brazil, Angola, Algeria and Russia.


Most Cuban economists point out that the economy has become more diversified over the last 20 years with the development of tourism, pharmaceuticals and increased oil and nickel production. But they say it remains far too dependent on Venezuela.

Cuba and Venezuela have formed more than 30 joint ventures over the years, most of them based in Venezuela.

They range from a fishing fleet, to port and rail repair, to hotels, agriculture, nickel and steel production and just about all of Cuba's downstream oil industry.

In 2011, Venezuela accounted for $8.3 billion of Cuba's $20 billion in foreign trade. It pays Cuba an estimated $6 billion or more annually for the services of 40,000 doctors, nurses and other professionals, local economists say. That is around 60 percent of the foreign exchange Cuba earned from services.

Venezuelan banks provide soft credits for dozens of development projects across the island.

Venezuela serves as a guarantor for investment and trade with the island.

While many Cubans fretted, others were more optimistic that Chavez's hand-picked successor, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, would win the election that must now take place within 30 days.


Cuba is in the process of lifting some restrictions on civil liberties and revamping the state-dominated economy into a more mixed and market friendly one.

Experts said that regardless of the election's outcome the pace and depth of reform would most likely pick up.

An opposition victory, viewed as unlikely, would certainly force Havana to scamper, they said, and while a Maduro win would spell no changes for Cuba in the short term, the threat of instability in Venezuela's future would loom large on local leaders' minds.

"Assuming that Maduro is elected, Venezuela will continue its critical oil subsidies, but both international credit markets and the Cuban leadership can now more clearly see a future where Cuba will have to bolster its energy self-sufficiency and improve its credit ratings," said Carlos Saladrigas, head of the Cuba Study Group, a Cuban American business organization that advocates engagement with Havana.

"The pro-reform factions within the Cuban system will have additional arguments in their quiver for moving forward with all deliberate speed," he said.

Mora agreed that mid-term instability in Venezuela would be Cuba's biggest challenge.

"I think everyone will try and unite behind Maduro. It's what becomes of Venezuela after, and whether Maduro can keep all the disparate factions within Chavismo together for a long period of time, especially if the Venezuelan economy runs into macro-economic troubles and it's not able to continue subsidizing political support (for Cuba)," he said.

Related Stories:
In Miami, Venezuelans optimistic after death of Chavez

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez dies from cancer

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 07:48 PM PST

CARACAS (Reuters) - President Hugo Chavez died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer, ending 14 years of tumultuous and divisive rule that won him passionate support among the poor but hatred from business leaders and wealthy Venezuelans.

Peru's supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez write messages in a book of condolences inside Venezuela's embassy in Lima after the announcement of his death, March 5, 2013. Chavez died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer, ending 14 years of divisive rule. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

Peru's supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez write messages in a book of condolences inside Venezuela's embassy in Lima after the announcement of his death, March 5, 2013. Chavez died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer, ending 14 years of divisive rule. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

The flamboyant 58-year-old had undergone four operations in Cuba for a cancer that was first detected in his pelvic region in mid-2011. He vanished from public view after December 11 surgery that resulted in complications and respiratory infections.

"It's a moment of deep pain," said Vice President Nicolas Maduro, choking up during a national address. "Commander, thank you so much, on behalf of these people whom you protected."

Military chiefs quickly pledged loyalty to Maduro, who will be caretaker leader until elections are called within 30 days. Weeping Chavez supporters poured onto the streets, chanting "Chavez lives! The revolution continues!" and "We are Chavez!"

"Don't let anyone try to convince you Chavez has gone ... He will always be with us," said Congress head Diosdado Cabello.

The president's death was announced by Maduro, flanked by cabinet ministers, less than an hour after he passed away.

State TV broadcast Chavez's emotional last speech from December, shops in Caracas locked up for fear of looting, and condolences came from around the world, including messages from filmmaker Oliver Stone and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Tensions ran high in some areas. Colombia's RCN TV showed one of its reporters bleeding from a head wound after she was apparently beaten by Chavez supporters outside the military hospital.

Chavez easily won a new six-year term at an election in October and his death is devastating for millions of supporters who adored his charismatic style, anti-U.S. rhetoric and oil-financed policies that brought subsidized food and free health clinics to long-neglected slums.

Detractors, however, saw his one-man style, gleeful nationalizations and often harsh treatment of opponents as traits of an egotistical dictator whose misplaced statist economics wasted a historic bonanza of oil revenues.

Chavez's corpse will lie in state at a Caracas military academy until a formal funeral ceremony on Friday, and seven days of mourning will be observed, officials said.

"The funeral of Chavez is going to rival Eva Peron's in Argentina," said Daniel Hellinger, a Venezuela expert in the United States, referring to the beloved former first lady of Argentina who died at the height of her popularity in 1952.


Chavez's death opens the way for a new election that will test whether his socialist "revolution" can live on without his dominant personality at the helm.

The new vote will likely pit Maduro against Henrique Capriles, the centrist opposition leader and state governor who lost to Chavez in October. Maduro appealed for calm and respect for democracy.

One recent opinion poll gave Maduro a strong lead because he is Chavez's preferred successor, enjoys support among many of the working class and could benefit from an inevitable surge of emotion in the coming days.

Maduro has been a close ally of Chavez for years and would be very unlikely to make significant changes to the late president's socialist policies, although he could at some point try to ease tensions with investors and the U.S. government.

Just hours before Chavez's death, though, Maduro alleged that "imperialist" conspirators had infected the president with cancer among a plethora of conspiracies with domestic opponents. The government never said what type of cancer Chavez had, but experts suspect it was a soft-tissue sarcoma.

A victory by Capriles would bring in much deeper changes and would be welcomed by business groups and foreign investors, although he would probably move cautiously in order to lower the risk of political instability and violence.

Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves and some of the most heavily traded bonds, so investors will be highly sensitive to any signs of turmoil.

U.S. President Barack Obama said his government was interested in starting a new relationship with Venezuela.

"At this challenging time ... the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government," Obama said in a statement.

An opposition election win would move Venezuela closer to the United States and upend alliances with Latin American states that have relied on Chavez's oil-funded largesse - most notably communist-led Cuba, which recovered from financial ruin in the 1990s largely thanks to Venezuelan aid.

Chavez was a garrulous figurehead for a global "anti-imperialist" alliance stretching as far as Belarus and Iran, and will be sorely missed by anti-U.S. agitators.

After the cancer was diagnosed in June 2011, Chavez went through several cycles of disappearing from the public eye for weeks at a time for treatment in Havana, only to return just as his adversaries were predicting his demise.

His health weakened severely just after his re-election on October 7, possibly due to his decision to campaign for a third term instead of stepping aside to focus on his recovery.


Chavez was raised by his grandmother in a house with a mud floor in rural Venezuela and evoked almost religious passion among poor supporters who loved his folksy charm, common touch and determination to put the country's oil wealth at their service.

He burst onto the national scene by leading an attempted coup in 1992. It failed and he was imprisoned, but he then formed a political party on his release two years later and swept to power in a 1998 election.

It was the first of four presidential election victories, built on widespread support among the poor.

But Chavez alienated investors with waves of takeovers and strict currency controls, often bullied his rivals, and disappointed some followers who say he focused too much on ideological issues at the expense of day-to-day problems such power cuts, high inflation and crime.

Chavez built a highly centralized political system around his larger-than-life image and his tireless, micro-managing style created something close to a personality cult. He was particularly adept at exploiting divisions within a fractious opposition.

Chavez was briefly toppled in a coup in 2002, but returned triumphantly after his supporters took to the streets.

Apparently realizing the end was nigh, Chavez named Maduro his successor in December, just before his fourth operation, which followed months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.


On February 18, Chavez made a surprise pre-dawn return from Cuba and was taken to a ninth-floor suite of a military hospital in Caracas, surrounded by tight security.

The government published a handful of pictures of Chavez lying in a hospital bed while he was still in Havana - the only time he was seen since the latest surgery. Supporters had held tearful vigils around the country to pray for his recovery.

Maduro, 50, will now focus on marshalling support from Chavez's diverse coalition, which includes leftist ideologues, businessmen, and radical armed groups called "colectivos".

Seeking to knock down rumours of tensions at the top of the ruling Socialist Party (PSUV), Maduro has stressed the unity between him and Cabello, a powerful former army buddy of Chavez who heads the National Assembly.

Maduro is a former bus driver who rose from union activist to foreign minister and then to president-in-waiting. He won Chavez's confidence by meticulously echoing his vitriolic rhetoric and never airing a dissenting opinion.

Maduro has mimicked Chavez's rabble-rousing style in recent weeks, peppering speeches with insults aimed at adversaries.

Capriles, Maduro's likely opponent, is a 40-year-old governor of Miranda state who led a hard-fought campaign against Chavez in the October election.

There are clear ideological differences between the 20 or so groups in the opposition's Democratic Unity coalition and without their enmity to Chavez to bind them, the alliance could splinter.

Until recently, polls had shown Capriles would beat any of Chavez's protégés. But the naming of Maduro as Chavez's heir, and the outpouring of emotion that will accompany Chavez's death, have changed the picture.

A survey carried out by local pollster Hinterlaces between January 30 and February 9 gave Maduro 50-percent support, compared to 36 percent for Capriles.

(Additional reporting by Reuters reporters across Latin America, Editing by Terry Wade, Kieran Murray and David Brunnstrom)

Related Stories:
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Venezuelans to vote in 30 days, Maduro assumes power for now
Reaction to the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Devastated, mourning Chavez supporters pour onto streets
PDVSA says Venezuela oil industry normal after Chavez death
Factbox - Venezuela's likely election candidates after Chavez's death
Chronology - Hugo Chavez's losing battle against cancer
Factbox - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Factbox - Quotes from Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez
Factbox - Reaction to the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

U.S. to allow small knives to be carried onto airplanes

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 06:06 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said on Tuesday that travellers can soon bring small pocket knives on board airplanes for the first time since the September 11 attacks, sparking outrage from flight attendants who said the decision would endanger passengers and crew.

Knives, scissors and other prohibited items that were confiscated at the airport during security checks by Transportation Security Administration screeners are on display prior to a news conference at Los Angeles International Airport in this August 29, 2003 file photograph. The Transportation Security Administration said on March 5, 2013 that travelers can soon bring small pocket knives on board airplanes for the first time since the September 11 attacks, sparking outrage from flight attendants who said the decision would endanger passengers and crew. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files

Knives, scissors and other prohibited items that were confiscated at the airport during security checks by Transportation Security Administration screeners are on display prior to a news conference at Los Angeles International Airport in this August 29, 2003 file photograph. The Transportation Security Administration said on March 5, 2013 that travelers can soon bring small pocket knives on board airplanes for the first time since the September 11 attacks, sparking outrage from flight attendants who said the decision would endanger passengers and crew. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files

The TSA said that effective April 25, it would allow knives with blades that are 2.36 inches (6 cm) or less in length and less than 1/2 inch (1-1/4 cm) wide. Other items that will be allowed on board again as part of a passenger's carry-on luggage include billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks and lacrosse sticks.

Items that had been prohibited like razors, box cutters or knives with a fixed blade are still not allowed on board.

TSA spokesman David Castelveter said the decision was made to bring U.S. regulations more in line with International Civil Aviation Organization standards and would also help provide a better experience for travellers.

"This is part of an overall Risk-Based Security approach, which allows Transportation Security officers to better focus their efforts on finding higher-threat items such as explosives," he said.

The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, which represents nearly 90,000 flight attendants from carriers across the country, called it a "poor and shortsighted decision" by the TSA.

"As the last line of defence in the cabin and key aviation partners, we believe that these proposed changes will further endanger the lives of all flight attendants and the passengers we work so hard to keep safe and secure," the coalition said in a statement.

Castelveter said the TSA had implemented a number of safety measures, including reinforced cockpit doors, allowing some pilots to be armed and federal air marshals on board airplanes. He said those measures would help ensure safety of the passengers and crew.

At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, travellers reacted to the change with alarm.

"I would say, what were you thinking? Because it's ludicrous to think of allowing knives on a plane," said Deborah Debare. "They are as dangerous as guns."

Another traveller, David Veeder, said that when it came to knives and blades, even small instruments could pose a danger.

"I'd prefer they had nothing," he said.

After the September 11, 2001 hijacked airliner attacks on New York and Washington, the U.S. government imposed strict rules for what could be carried on board an aircraft, some of which differed from what other countries allowed.

(Additional reporting by Pavithra George; Editing by Edith Honan and David Brunnstrom)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'Daily Show' host Jon Stewart to direct movie

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 06:55 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Jon Stewart will take a break as host of satirical television news show The Daily Show beginning in June to direct a serious film about a journalist's imprisonment in Iran, network Comedy Central said on Tuesday.

The exact dates of Stewart's hiatus have yet to be finalized but he will miss eight weeks of original episodes of the popular show that has turned the 50-year-old comedian into a prominent political and social voice.

British comedian John Oliver, 35, who is also a correspondent on the Emmy-winning series, will fill in as host while Stewart takes a break from comedy to direct his first feature film - Rosewater.

The film centers on Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari who was working for Newsweek magazine when he was arrested in Iran and held in prison for four months following the country's disputed 2009 election that drew mass protests against the government.

Stewart also wrote the script for the adaptation of Bahari's 2011 memoir Then They Came for Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity and Survival. The book details Bahari's imprisonment, which he said included beatings and psychological stress.

The comedian became linked to Bahari after an interview the journalist gave to one of the program's fake correspondents ended up as evidence the Iranian government used to accuse Bahari of espionage.

Bahari was freed on US$300,000 bail in October 2009 and left Iran.

Comedy Central is owned by Viacom.

Reality check

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 03:31 AM PST

British TV has more to offer than just Downton Abbey.

BRITISH shows are simply wonderful. The actors, participants or contestants in most British shows – except, perhaps those in Downton Abbey (Diva Universal) – are usually "real people", the kind that one would not be intimidated by if one were to bump into them on the street or at the grocery store.

You know, people who don't look like any of the Kardashians, the Hiltons, the Jonases or ... Nicki Minaj (now that would be one scary encounter).

Yes, the folks in shows like River Cottage: Summer's Here (Asian Food Channel), Murdoch Mysteries, Miranda, Lewis, Coach Trip, Are You An Egghead?, Britain's Best Dish and Come Dine With Me (all on ITV Granada) are more about the content and less about the look of the presenters or actors.

Okay, perhaps Are You An Egghead? – a quiz show from 2008/2009 that pits really clever contestants against even smarter people for the chance to be the best ... quiz team (no, seriously) – doesn't actually have the kind of content that would appeal to the "regular" viewer, but if you're a sucker for really hard quizzes then you'd enjoy this.

It's a tad boring, though, as it's all business and no flash unlike American quiz shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader.

If, however, you prefer something less ... tiring on the brain, then check out the Come Dine With Me series – the one that's currently playing on TV is Come Dine With Me Ireland.

Each week, the show features four strangers who will host a dinner for one another in their own homes. At the end of each dinner, the three invited guests will score their hosts based on the menu, quality of food, entertainment and the host's general hospitality.

When everyone's done hosting, whoever has the highest score is rewarded with £1,000 (RM4,700).

The best thing about the show is the narrator, Dave Lamb, who is just wonderfully sarcastic! The contestants themselves don't hold back when giving comments, and are not afraid of showing their "real" self – most are a little quirky, some are boring and a few, creepy – not just to their guests but to the camera, too.

Sometimes, you wonder if the contestants even realise that they're being filmed.

At the end of one Come Dine With Me Ireland episode last week, a cheeky little song came on and it goes something like this: "You have a face for radio, but I know you like to think you're the best in everything...". Funny.

Also on the funny side is Miranda, a British sitcom created by and starring comedian Miranda Hart. The show made its debut in 2009 and is currently in its third season in Britain. In Malaysia, what we're now getting is a re-run of the first season (it was shown sometime last year).

The sitcom is loosely based on Hart's personal life and features actors Sarah Hadland, Patricia Hodge, James Holmes and Welsh actor Tom Ellis, who has starred and guest-starred in countless TV shows, and appeared in movies like Buffalo Soldiers and Vera Drake.

There are a lot of things that make Miranda a fun watch.

There is the central character herself, who is a 185cm-tall woman who is so uncomfortable with her size and social ineptness that she jokes about them all the time in order to, well, be comfortable.

With her unbearable little mother always on her case about her career (she wants Miranda to have a "proper" job even though the former owns a joke shop) and love life (she's worried that no one will ever marry her "giant of a daughter"), Miranda seeks solace in her best friend Stevie and Gary, a guy she fancies who works next door to her shop.

At the moment, Miranda and Gary's relationship is just starting to blossom, and it's cute as cuddles!

Not so cute last week, however, was the movie Kill Bill, shown on Ntv7. Quentin Tarantino's two-part, cult favourite of a film is infamously known for its violence.

Despite the fact that the movie shown on public TV was heavily censored, there were still some scenes that were pretty graphic with its depiction of violence, but not so terrible that an average viewer couldn't handle.

These scenes were also integral to the story so cutting them out would mean screening a film that was totally incoherent.

Kudos to Ntv7 for putting it at a later time slot, but perhaps a rating would help unknowning viewers figure out just what they're in for (Kill Bill Volume 2 is on this week's schedule, by the way).

While we're on the subject of movies, the original Karate Kid was shown on HBO last week and it definitely brought back some fond "wax on, wax off" memories.

Also on the nostalgia trail is the Bond movie Live And Let Die (TV2), starring Roger Moore, as well as the numerous Tan Sri P. Ramlee films that channels like TV2 and Astro Prima screen on the weekends.

These gems, along with a few other choice movies that were on last week's schedule – American History X (Cinemax), Wall-E (Fox Movies Premium; this movie has been shown repeatedly but it's still good) and Layar Lara (Astro Prima) – do make up for irksome shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (Discovery Home And Health) and The World's Richest People (TLC).

Seriously, do we really need to have a show that follows the misadventures of a seven-year-old beauty pageant "veteran" or one that highlights how extremely rich people go about their daily lives?

We already have problems keeping up with the countless Kardashian series on the E! channel, folks. n A big thank you to those who tweeted @MyStarTwo with their TV show suggestions. One stood out – a Canadian police drama called Flashpoint which used to be on HyppTV's schedule. We'll be on the lookout for it if it ever returns to the schedule. In the meantime, keep those suggestions coming!

New sheriff in town

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 03:31 AM PST

A former lawbreaker takes on a new identity in Banshee.

IF you need a reason to watch Banshee, let it be the awesomely good looking, oh-so-gorgeous Antony Starr whose incredibly beautiful blue eyes just pierce right through your soul.

Erm, did I miss anything out? He's really hot, just in case I didn't make that clear enough for you.

Oh, and it also helps that the storyline is pretty solid ... so far. Maybe you should watch the show for that reason as well.

Starr plays an ex-convict (they are yet to reveal his real name on the show) who spent 15 years behind bars. What do most bad boys do when they finally get out of prison? Yes, they go looking for their ex-girlfriends who left them to rot in prison while they take on a new persona, settle down and have kids. That's what happened to the nameless ex-con's ex-girlfriend Anna, who married a lawyer and now goes by the name Carrie Hopewell (Ivana Milicevic).

The ex-con finds Carrie, and a whole lot of trouble, in the Amish town of Banshee in Pennsylvania.

It's obvious that the lead character attracts trouble wherever he goes, and the same happens in Banshee, when the town's new sheriff gets murdered while taking down some baddies.

The nameless dude and Sugar Bates (Frankie Faison) – the owner of the bar where the incident happens – manage to cover up the deaths.

It so happens that no one knows that the new sheriff, Lucas Hood, was already in town and the only person who's expecting his arrival had never seen him before. So, with a dead sheriff and no other job prospects waiting, the nameless ex-con decides to "become" Lucas.

Of course, the only person who knows that he's faking his identity is Carrie, but she's in no position to call him out on his lie.

Through the show, viewers slowly learn that ages ago, Lucas and Carrie were hardcore thieves who stole valuable diamonds from their former "employer", Mr Rabbit (Ben Cross). And Rabbit is one unhappy bunny as he is now hell bent on finding the duo and making them pay for their treachery.

While the bad guys are hot on his trail, Lucas finds himself a new enemy in Banshee. Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen) is a dirty businessman who didn't really accumulate his wealth by being nice to people.

With lots of illegal activities on his colourful portfolio, Kai is on the police's most wanted list, but unfortunately, with no solid evidence or witness, they are unable to throw him behind bars.

Lucas' unorthodox way of dealing with the local baddies soon lands him on Kai's bad side, who grows angrier by the day as the new sheriff shuts down his illegal operations one at a time.

Taking Kai down isn't the only thing on Lucas' to-do list as he professes his undying love towards Anna/Carrie, who may be hiding the fact that her first born actually belongs to him.

So much drama for such a good-looking guy ... don't worry, nothing fazes our hero and there is no problem he can't solve – be it in love or war. And there is not one moment where he doesn't look good on screen either. I checked.

If there's anything that needed to be said about the acting on that show, well, somebody give Starr a Golden Globe award and an Oscar while they're at it (yeah, I know it's not a movie but who cares).

The only thing that could be of concern here is how the creators of the show (they're the same people behind True Blood) are going to keep the story going. It can only be so long before someone who knows the actual Lucas Hood shows up and figures everything out.

Oh well, there's still time for that and until then, there's nothing left for us to do but to sit down and watch Lucas (the fake one) fight baddies and look good while he's at it.

New episodes of Banshee air every Friday at 11pm on Cinemax (Astro Ch 412). Reader response can be directed to, or via Twitter (@MyStarTwo).


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

KLCI rises to 7-week high

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 06:56 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips advanced on Wednesday, mirroring the positive key regional markets after Wall Street's record close, with the FBM KLCI rising to a seven-week high of 1,648.8.

At 10.44am, the KLCI was up 5.17 points to 1,647.25, the highest since mid-January, powered by gains in UMW and BAT. Turnover 384.53 million shares valued at RM359.98mil. There were 286 gainers, 140 losers and 244 counters unchanged.

Key regional markets extended their gains as investors grew more risk-friendly following Wall Street's record close, signs of continuing U.S. economic recovery, and globally accommodative monetary conditions, Reuters reported.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5%, after surging 1.3 percent the day before. The index tumbled to a nine-week low on Monday.

Asian shares took their cue from overnight gains in global equities, with the Dow Jones industrial average ending at an all-time high and the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closing at its highest in 4-1/2 years, Reuters reported.

At Bursa Malaysia, BAT rose 58 sen to RM60.76, UMW 40 sen to RM13.38 and HL Cap 19 sen to RM3.19.

Allianz-PA gained 33 sen to RM7.93 and Allianz 19 sen to RM7.87 while Aeon added 28 sen to RM13.20 and Aeon Credit 16 sen higher at RM12.42.

HL Cap rose 19 sen to RM3.19 on investors expectations of a higher offer price by Hong Leong Financial Group's initial RM1.71 offer.

JTI rallied 31 sen to RM6.53 on its special dividend of 21 sen a share.


Naza aims to sell 8,000 Peugeots

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 05:36 PM PST

GEORGE TOWN: Nasim Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the Naza Group of Companies, is targeting to sell about 8,000 Peugeot vehicles in the country this year, an increase of 29% compared to the 6,200 units sold last year.

Naza chief operating officer Datuk Samson Anand George said the Peugeot sales would be spearheaded by the 408 sedan and the 208 five-seater passenger car.

"The 408 sedan was launched last June and has registered strong sales, selling over 1,000 units. The 208 will be launched next month," he said at the launch of the new 308 Griffe, a five-seater sporty hatchback limited edition at the Peugeot Blue Box Butterworth showroom.

He said about 30 bookings had been received since the pre-launch last month.

The 308 Peugeot Griffe, priced at RM132,888 (on-the-road), comes with LED daytime running lights, a Peugeot GTi rear spoiler, a panoramic roof with an electronically-controlled retractable blind, sporty white instrument dials, and is powered by a 1.6-litre turbo high-pressure engine with direct petrol injection.

"The northern region will be an important market for us, as the European car market in Penang grew by 17% in 2012.

"This is also the reason why we are setting up a showroom in Butterworth, one of the seven new showrooms to be launched by Nasim this year.

"This brings the total number of Peugeot showrooms in Penang to two, as we have another one in Juru Auto-City which is under the management of Nasim," Samson said.

Built at a cost of RM4mil by CS Euro Auto Sdn Bhd, the showroom serves customers in Butterworth, Prai, Bukit Mertajam, Nibong Tebal, Kepala Batas, Permatang Pauh and Kulim.

Peugeot Blue Box Butterworth is equipped with four private customer lounges and one mini-theatre entertainment room for customers.

The service centre is equipped with six service bays with the capacity to service up to 25 cars a day.

The outlet, which comprises a 28,000-square-foot facility, is a 3S (sales, service and spare parts) centre owned and operated by CS Euro Auto Sdn Bhd.

Samson said the other six showrooms would be located in Alor Star, George Town, Kuala Trengganu, Ampang, Setia Alam and Batu Pahat.

"Depending on the size, each outlet will cost around RM3mil to RM5mil to establish, and all of them will be owned and operated by our authorised dealers. They will be built before the year end," he said.

Under Nasim's management, there are 13 showrooms located in the country.

On the marketing of Peugeot in the country, George said Nasim would use its Facebook page to promote the cars in the country.

"So far, Peugeot Malaysia's Facebook page has received the most number of likes amongst all the other official Peugeot Facebook pages in Asia. In Malaysia, the middle-class perception of the Peugeot brand name is beginning to change, as they come to understand more of the safety features, the high-performance engine and aesthetics of the vehicle.

"Further, the pricing is very attractive for a European-made car," he said.


Volvo sale of trucks up 42%

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 05:32 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Volvo Malaysia Sdn Bhd recorded a 42% increase in deliveries of trucks for 2012 with 339 units comprising 301 Volvo and 38 Renault trucks.

In a statement, it said in 2011, 238 units were sold, comprising 205 Volvo and 33 Renault trucks.

"2012 was a very good year for Volvo Malaysia's truck business.

"From new customers to increasingly aggressive market share in Malaysia, Volvo is capitalising on the infrastructure growth in Malaysia," it said.

Managing director of Volvo Trucks Malaysia (Region Malaysia) Mansoor Ahmed said high double-digit growth in a relatively mature economy was a sign of great business health.

He said Volvo's market share in Malaysia for 2012 had grown to 39% in the European segment.

"With our total transport solutions and fuel-efficient, technologically advanced and internationally acclaimed product line, we are confident that the company will continue to grow this year," said Mansoor.

Volvo is also taking the lead with Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia in offering a first-of-its-kind financial solution to enable small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia to purchase high-quality trucks, the company said.

"For the first time in Malaysia, a commercial vehicle company and a bank joined forces to derive a total financial solution that enables the purchase of commercial vehicles to be more affordable and cost-effective in the long-term for SMEs," it said.

Mansoor said he was confident for 2013 the company would continue to grow in the commercial vehicle industry from more dealerships, expanded networks, trucker engagement and strong relationship with new and existing customers.

"We are here for the long haul, given the critical role that Malaysia plays in our global business strategy," he added. – Bernama



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Chong Wei may compete in US$1mil Axiata Cup after all

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 07:06 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei may take time off his hectic schedule and compete in the US$1mil Axiata Cup, which will be held from March 21-April 14.

Chong Wei had earlier stated that he would not compete in the Axiata Cup, the richest team tournament in the world, to avoid unnecessary injuries.

But Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) general manager Kenny Goh said that with this being the Surdiman Cup year (May 19-26), they will take the Axiata Cup seriously.

"It's clear that the main target for our shuttlers this year is the Surdiman Cup and the World Championships. But that doesn't mean we don't want to do well in the Axiata Cup ... we have pride too, as hosts," said Kenny.

"Chong Wei will definitely skip the first leg in Surabaya, from March 21-24, but he could still play in the return leg (March 29-31) onwards."

The semi-final and final will also be held in Kuala Lumpur on April 13-14.

"Although Chong Wei's name is not in the team list, I believe we're allowed to ring in some changes in the home leg and we'll also bring in the younger men's pairs to replace Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong."

Malaysia have named Liew Daren, Chong Wei Feng, Kien Keat-Boon Heong, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, Lim Yin Loo and Tee Jing Yi in the Axiata Cup squad.

The second year of the Cup is also set to see some major changes in the format, with the main one being the inclusion of women's singles and mixed doubles.

This means that there will be four matches in each tie, compared to just three last year.

Other changes in the format will also see teams awarded a point for each match won in a tie.

This means if Team A beat Team B 3-1, Team A will receive three points while Team B will get one point. As such, it is possible to have a draw too.

The winning team will earn a cool US$400,000 while the runners-up and third-placed teams will take home US$200,000 and US$150,000 respectively.

There are eight teams this year – Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Asia All Stars (non South-East Asian players) and Europe All Stars.

Meanwhile. world No. 8 Simon Santoso, part of last year's victorious Indonesia Garuda team, believes that this year's competition will be a lot tougher.

"We want to win and take home the money again, but the competition will be tighter this time and teams like Malaysia and Thailand will really give us a tough challenge," said Simon.

Chong Wei hopes compatriots will rise to the occasion

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 03:29 PM PST

ON paper, world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei (pic) is set to be Malaysia's sole flag bearer after the first round of the men's singles action in the All-England, which begins in Birmingham today.

But just don't tell Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng, who have vowed to defy the odds and record their best-ever performances in the oldest tournament in the circuit.

"I don't want Chong Wei to be left alone. I am bent on clearing my first round," said a confident Daren after a practice session at the National Indoor Stadium yesterday.

Daren faces former world champion Chen Jin of China in the first round and it could all go wrong for the Malaysian.

"I'm the underdog and have never beaten him ... but there's always a first time. I want to do better than my quarter-final finish last year. Who knows, it could be a Daren-Chong Wei final!" said Daren, the 2012 French Open winner.

"I still remember making it to the quarter-finals last year before losing to veteran Lee Hyun-il of South Korea. I lost because I lacked experience. Now, I am more mature in the game."

Daren and Chen Jin are in the lower half of the draw with second seed and reigning German Open champion Chen Long of China. The others in their half are Wei Feng, Jan O Jorgensen and Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, Kenichi Tago of Japan and Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia.

Wei Feng will take on Jorgensen, who can play exceptionally well on a good day, in the opener and is determined to get past the early rounds in his fourth All-England outing.

"I've been playing since in 2009 ... this time, I've set my mind on entering the quarter-finals at least. I'm physically in better shape and confident I can last longer on the court," he said.

Three other aspiring Malaysian singles players – Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, Tan Chun Seang and Zulfadli Zulkifli – will start from the qualifying tournaments and it'll be tough for them to make the main draw.

While the second stringers are hoping for personal breakthroughs, Chong Wei – the King of the Super Series – is eyeing his third All-England title.

He won the All-England title in 2010 and 2011 but withdrew from last year's final against Lin Dan of China with a shoulder injury.

This year, Chong Wei is ready to make amends.

Top seed Chong Wei takes on Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong in the first round but the more dangerous players in his half are China's Wang Zhengming, Du Pengyu and Gao Hua; Indonesia's Taufik Hidayat; Hu Yun of Hong Kong and Sho Sasaki of Japan.

Although Chong Wei will be happy to win it for the third time, he'll be more delighted if the second echelon of players can rise to the occasion.

"Daren, Wei Feng and Arif have improved. Hopefully, they'll get to show the world that Malaysia has more talents by doing well here," said Chong Wei, who won the first two legs of the Super Series in South Korea and Malaysia in January.

For the record, Malaysia's most successful outing ever in the All-England was in 1966, when the nation won both the singles and doubles titles through Tan Aik Huang (singles) and Tan Yee Khan-Ng Boon Bee (doubles).

Chan-Goh aim to strike better understanding on court

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 02:20 PM PST

MIXED doubles shuttler Chan Peng Soon is struggling with a massive confidence issue. But he plans to deal with it at the All-England, starting today.

He wants to rediscover the form and inner-belief that saw him, and partner Goh Liu Ying, reaching the semi-finals of the last year's All-England at the same venue.

Just a week ago in the German Open, their morale took a huge beating when they failed to live up to their top billing by crashing out to China's Zhang Nan-Tang Jinhua in the first round.

"The defeat in Germany was a huge wake-up call for us. We made so many mistakes that our confidence was crushed," said Peng Soon, who added that he was still struggling to come to terms with Liu Ying's knee problems although the latter was slowly improving.

"With her condition not at the optimum level yet, I feel that I have to double up on my responsibilities and cover for her. So, this causes a lot of misunderstanding on the court.

"I've given up my men's doubles career to focus solely on the mixed doubles ... as such, my expectations are higher in this event. I get frustrated easily when we do not get it right.

"But I must learn to give Liu Ying the space to do her thing. She is trying her best and I promise that we'll be out to strike a better understanding on court here."

World No. 3 Peng Soon-Liu Ying certainly need to get their act right as they have a challenging path to the quarter-finals.

They take on Patiphat Chalardchaleam-Savitree Amitrapai of Thailand in the first round, followed by a tricky tie against Indonesians Fran Kurniawan-Shendy Puspa Irawati.

If everything goes according to form, they'll face fifth seeds Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei of China in the last eight. Should they somehow beat them for the first time, they come up against top seeds Xu Chen-Ma Jin of China in the semi-finals.

"We need a breakthrough here. It's so hard to plot the downfall of the Chinese pairs. They are steady and their defence is solid. Hopefully, we'll find a way to break the Chinese wall," he said.

"But first, we want to get it right in the early rounds and not take anyone for granted."


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Bunohan finally wins on home ground

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 04:17 AM PST

Local film Bunohan, which has made a name for itself internationally, finally wins on home ground.

THE critically-acclaimed Bunohan lived up to its star billing when it was named Best Film at the 25th Malaysian Film Festival (FFM25) last weekend at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.

If anything, last Saturday night belonged to the cast and crew of Bunohan as the film won eight awards out of the 13 it was nominated for.

The awards night kicked off positively for Bunohan when the first award – for Best Original Story – went to its filmmaker Dain Iskandar Said.

Bunohan further received four awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Sound Editing. Faizal Hussien, the film's star, received the Best Actor award for his role as a hired assassin named Ilham.

Dain, who accepted most of the awards, tried to hold back tears as he received his Best Director trophy. In his speech, he mentioned what a long journey it had been for him to get to this point.

For him, his Best Director win, as well as Bunohan's Best Film win, was indeed "sweet revenge".

"It has been a long journey for Bunohan. It took us four years to see the movie in the cinemas and we have travelled quite a bit abroad but still at the end, to be recognised here in the country is the ultimate experience one could ever have.

"When I made the movie, it was about us and our culture and it was meant for our consumption. No matter how far I went and how much recognition the movie has accumulated overseas, nothing can beat the feeling of getting an acknowledgment in my own country," said Dain.

It was a bittersweet experience for Faizal, too. After being involved in the local movie industry for more than 30 years, Faizal, 45, was grateful for the award.

"Thank God that Eman Manan isn't competing tonight! Otherwise he would bag home this award for sure!" said Faizal who considers the multiple award-winning actor Eman as his fiercest rival in business.

"I'm also grateful to Dain for his trust and believe in me to play Ilham. Initially the (movie's) investors wanted someone else to play Ilham but Dain refused to budge and insisted that I played the role. There were so many things that we went through while filming the movie. I had to learn to master the Kelantanese dialect. There were even times when we had to film at a place famous for crocodiles!

"Thank God they (crocodiles) left us in peace!" Faizal joked.

Meanwhile, another critically-acclaimed film, Songlap, also won a fair bit of awards that night. Syafie Naswip and Normah Damanhuri from the movie picked up the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress awards respectively.

For veteran actress Normah, winning the award was really special as it was her first ever victory – in the Malaysian Film Festival, at least – in her three-decade long career.

"It took me 30 years to win an award at the Malaysian Film Festival. It means so much and I hope this award will motivate all of us to continue to work hard. Be sincere and honest in your craft.

"I'm so touched and grateful at the same time. I didn't really expect to win but I'm so glad I did!" said an emotional Normah, 59, who played an ageing prostitute in Songlap.

For the young and talented Syafie, this was his second win in the best supporting actor category. In FFM 2009, he won the same award for his part in the late Yasmin Ahmad's Talentime.

"I'm so grateful for this award and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the late Yasmin Ahmad," said Syafie in tears.

The Best Actress award went to Maya Karin for her role in Ombak Rindu. However, Maya is currently in Britain and was not able to accept her award. Ombak Rindu also won the Box Office Award.

Among the other winners for the night were Most Promising Director (Syafiq Yusof for the movie SAM), Most Promising Actor (Izzue Islam, 29 Februari), Most Promising Actress (Jojo Goh, 29 Februari) and Best Cinematography for Haris Hue Abdullah (Songlap).

The movie Petaling Street Warriors was named Best Non-Malay Film while Datuk Aziz Sattar and Mariani Ismail received the Lifetime Achievement Award for their contributions to the film industry.

Also, Lai Meng and Mano Maniam won Special Jury Awards for their contributions to television.

The local Tamil movie Vajram (Weapon), directed by M. Subash, also won the Special Jury Award. Local visual effects house Rhythm & Hues won the Special Jury Award for its work in director Ang Lee's Oscar-winning film Life Of Pi.

Finas also awarded Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim with the Anugerah Pembela Seni Dan Budaya.

Although most of winners in this year's festival were truly deserving of their accolades, the awards show itself was uneventful. Hosted by Fahrin Ahmad and Erra Fazira, the 120-minute long show on Saturday left much to be desired. Considering that this year marked the 25th anniversary of the festival, the gala night was simply unimpressive. And for some reason, it also looked amateurish.

The nominees, especially Bunohan and Songlap, were top-notch works of art that was produced in our very own country, yet the awards night just didn't reflect the same kind of stature.

Granted, those who turned up that night were dressed to the nines, but the whole affair itself was draggy and the list of performances could have been much better.

FFM25 had earlier promised to be different, unique and special. Themed "Celebrating The Silver, Coveting The Gold", we were told that audiences would be taken on a journey of the film industry's excellence from the 1980s till the present day, as well as given a look at what the future holds.

While hosts Erra and Fahrin did give the audience a bit of history lesson every now and then by listing out FFM's past winners, most of the time the visuals that appeared on screen didn't tally with what was being described!

As for the "entertainment", established singers such as Ella, Ziana Zain and Rahim Maarof did give their best but somehow they just didn't manage to perk up the flat atmosphere.

Personally though, the lively show from M. Subash and a group of dancers performing a song taken from Vajram was the highlight of the night. With the energetic dance moves and colourful outfits, it sort of lifted the mood in the hall.

Also worth mentioning are the rock performances by SYJ (Orang Timur), followed by the song Teratai by Khir Rahman, Pekin Ibrahim, Que Haidar and Sofi Jikan, who shared the stage at the end of the awards. It was an awesome show, but perhaps a little too late to brighten things up.

Here is the full list of winner s at the FFM25:

Best Film: Bunohan

Best Director: Dain Iskandar Said (Bunohan)

Best Actor: Faizal Hussein (Bunohan)

Best Actress: Maya Karin (Ombak Rindu)

Best Supporting Actor: Syafie Naswip (Songlap)

Best Supporting Actress: Normah Damanhuri (Songlap)

Best New Actor: Izzue Islam (29 Februari)

Best New Actress: Jojo Goh (29 Februari)

Best Child Actor: Tee Jing Chen (Hantu Gangster)

Best Cinematography: Haris Hue Abdullah (Songlap)

Best Original Story: Dain Iskandar Said (Bunohan)

Best Screenplay: Dain Iskandar Said (Bunohan)

Best Sound Effects: Raja Ahmad Shaidaley/Imaginex Studios (Bunohan)

Best Editing: Wong Hui Lynn (Songlap)

Best Costume: Hasnan Yaacob (29 Februari)

Best Original Score: Tan Yan Wei (Bunohan)

Best Non-Malay Film: Petaling Street Warriors (Juita Entertainment)

Best Animated Film: Ninja Vs Pirate (The One Academy)

Best Short Film: Sanzaru (Reservoir Production)

Best New Director: Syafiq Yusof (SAM)

Best Theme Song: Ombak Rindu (Norzaidi Abdul Rahman)

Best Visual Art: Dain Iskandar Said (Bunohan)

Best Poster: Seefood

Holy Smokes! Batman sited in London!

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 08:22 PM PST

LONDON (Reuters) - A mystery man dressed as Batman demonstrated the same crime-fighting skills as the caped crusader when he handed over a suspect wanted for burglary in Britain.

Closed-circuit television footage showed a portly figure wearing an ill-fitting costume including gloves, cape and mask, bringing a 27-year-old man to a police station in Bradford in northern England.

The suspect was arrested and charged with handling stolen goods and fraud-related offences, said the force. But the costumed crime-fighter disappeared into the night without leaving his name.

"The person who brought the wanted man into the station was dressed in a full Batman outfit," said a spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police. "His identity, however, remains unknown."

The suspect was handed over in the early hours of 25 February, said police who released photos of the footage on Monday.

Spielberg to make mini-series about Napoleon

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 03:54 PM PST

LOS ANGELES - Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg is to make a television mini-series about Napoleon, based on a screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, he told a French broadcaster.

The 66-year-old "Schindler's List" and "E.T." filmmaker is working on the basis of a five-decade old script by Kubrick, who directed classics including "A Clockwork Orange" and "2001: A Space Odyssey."

"I've been developing Stanley Kubrick's screenplay for a mini series, not for a motion picture, about the life of Napoleon," Spielberg told broadcaster Canal Plus, without saying if he would direct or just produce the project.

"Kubrick wrote the script in 1961, a long time ago," he said, noting that he and Kubrick were both involved in the development of "A.I. Artificial Intelligence," which came out in 2001.

Kubrick, famed for his obsessive perfectionism, abandoned the Napoleon biopic project in the 1970s because of budget and production challenges, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

In a draft 1971 letter to studio executives, Kubrick - who died in 1999 aged 70 - said of the project: "It's impossible to tell you what I'm going to do except to say that I expect to make the best movie ever made," the industry journal said.

Kubrick wrote to actor Oskar Werner offering him the title role, and received a polite refusal to his offer to Audrey Hepburn, it said.

He initially asked British "Clockwork Orange" author Anthony Burgess to write a book about Napoleon, which he would use as the basis for his film. But he was reportedly disappointed by the manuscript.

Spielberg was named last week as jury chairman for this year's Cannes Film Festival. His appointment came days after his presidential drama "Lincoln" won a disappointing two Oscars, after being nominated in 12 categories. - AFP


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1 Million Woman Purple Walk event postponed

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 07:56 AM PST

Published: Tuesday March 5, 2013 MYT 11:13:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday March 5, 2013 MYT 11:19:55 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: The '2013 1 Million Women Purple Walk', scheduled to take place simultaneously nationwide on March 10, is postponed following the armed intrusion in Lahad Datu and several other locations in Sabah.

Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Datuk Noriah Kasnon, in a statement on Tuesday said, the event would be held at a date to be decided later.

"On behalf of the Ministry, I have postponed the event due to the situation taking place in Lahad Datu and several other locations in Sabah," she said.

The event, in conjunction with the 2013 International Women's Day celebration, was expected to be opened by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. - Bernama

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Mampu bags three FutureGov awards

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 06:30 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu) was the big winner at the FutureGov Awards 2013, bagging three of the eight awards for excellent service and efficiency.

Mampu was named the "Government Organisation of the Year", "Team of the Year" and was also awarded for "Service Innovation" for the success of its 1Malaysia One Call Centre.

Its director-general Datuk Mohamad Zabidi Zainal attributed Mampu's success to his "great team".

"All the programmes have been implemented well due to the hard work and commitment from my team.

"We are working on various other innovations and services which we will reveal from time to time," he said when met after the awards ceremony here Tuesday.

The FutureGov Awards Malaysia 2013, which highlights achievements by the public sector, is organised by Asia's government modernisation publication, FutureGov Magazine.

Judged by the editors of the magazine, the awards honour achievements related to efficiency, transparency and service levels in the region.

Mampu deputy director-general (ICT) Datuk Dr Nor Aliah Mohd Zamri said the 1Malaysia One Call Centre, a one-stop centre for information on all government products and services, was getting more than 4000 calls each day.

"The calls are mostly enquiries about services provided by the public sector.

"The response from the public has been very encouraging," she said, adding that all ministries were on board with the system which was launched in November last year.

Other winners included the Finance Ministry for its "e-perolehan" initiative while the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) won "best mobile app" for its "myJakim" mobile application.

FutureGov magazine managing editor James Smith said Mampu had been an outstanding choice for the "Government Organisation of the Year" award.

"Few agencies can claim to have the transformative impact of Mampu on Malaysia's public sector," he said.

Lahad Datu: PM - Malaysia defending honour and sovereignty (Updated)

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 06:27 AM PST

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian security forces all out attack against Sulu invaders in Kampung Tanduo at 7am, Tuesday is a defence of the country's honour and sovereignty, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Najib said the government has taken the necessary action to defend honour and sovereignty of the country as demanded by the rakyat.

Najib said Malaysia was an Islamic country that loved peace and that sought to always to resolve conflict through diplomacy.

"But our effort to avoid bloodshed has failed,'' he said.

Najib said he preferred to resolve the conflict in a peaceful manner, but the invaders had attacked and killed security personnel.

Najib said drastic measures had to be taken in view of Sabahans' safety.

"The police held talks with them, hoping that they would leave peacefully, without having to bear the serious consequences of the law.

"However, the longer the intrusion, it has become clear to the authorities that the invaders had no intention of leaving Sabah.

"Last Friday, they fired shots at policemen on duty at the area, causing the deaths of two personnel.

"A day later, the intruders killed six more policemen in Semporna," he said.

Najib said that after the first attack, he had warned the intruders to surrender, failing which the authorities would take action.

Najib had earlier tweeted, calling on Malaysians to rally behind "our brave security forces", with the hope that the situation would be resolved soon.

"The Safety of Sabahans is our priority," said Najib.


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