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The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Earthquake measuring 6 magnitude strikes Taiwan - USGS

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 08:03 PM PST

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An earthquake measuring 6 magnitude struck northern Taiwan on Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake, which was put at 10 km (six miles) deep, hit 39 km north-northwest of the port of Hualien, the USGS said.

(Reporting by Michael Perry; Editing by Ed Davies)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

U.S. House passes funding bill, Obama reaches out to Senate

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 07:39 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Legislation easily passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday to avert another partisan budget battle and a possible government shutdown, and a dinner meeting between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans offered signs of a thaw in relations.

The chamber of the House of Representatives stands at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington December 17, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The chamber of the House of Representatives stands at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington December 17, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

By a vote of 267-151, the House passed a measure to fund government programs until the end of the fiscal year on September 30. The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to pass a similar bill next week.

Without such legislation, federal agencies would run out of money on March 27.

The bill to continue funding the government without last-minute drama occurred as Obama took the unusual step of inviting Republican senators to a dinner on Wednesday night at a Washington hotel a few blocks from the White House that lasted about an hour and a half.

Attendees emerged optimistic about the prospects for the elusive big deal to put the nation's finances on a more sustainable track in a way that satisfies both Democrats and Republicans.

"It was a really good conversation," Republican Senator John Hoeven said.

"It was candid," he told Reuters in an interview. "We really talked about how do we get to a big agreement in terms of the debt and deficit."

An administration official told Reuters before the dinner that Obama had been hoping to take advantage of a lull in a series of budget crises to launch a dialogue with Republican lawmakers with the goal of reaching a broad deficit reduction deal.

While the meal was not intended to be a negotiation, it was an opportunity for Obama to make clear he is willing to consider some difficult spending cuts that are unpopular with his fellow Democrats in Congress, the official said.

Those could include cuts to programs that include the Social Security pension system and Medicare for the elderly.

Obama is due to discuss his other legislative priorities, including immigration reform, gun control and tackling climate change, at meetings with members of both political parties on Capitol Hill next week.

The dinner may have been a chance to reverse some of the angry partisan rhetoric that has stood in the way of compromise in recent weeks.

"The president greatly enjoyed the dinner and had a good exchange of ideas with the senators," a senior administration official told reporters.

Asked how the soiree had gone, Senator John McCain told journalists outside the hotel, "Just great. Fantastic."

Attendees included Senators Lindsey Graham, Bob Corker, and Kelly Ayotte and nine others. Graham drew up the guest list, the White House said.

The meetings between the president and lawmakers, whether or not they produce results, depart from what has been an at best a stand-offish relationship between Obama and Republicans in Congress.

They suggest that Obama and Republicans are getting the message that public patience with Washington is wearing thin. This has become apparent as Americans read of inconveniences they may soon confront at airports and elsewhere as a result of across-the-board cuts to the federal budget that kicked in on Friday after lawmakers and the White House failed to agree on an alternative.

"This is the first indication in really a long time that the president is willing to exert leadership and bring people together and that's exactly what needs to be done," said Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who has spoken by phone in recent days with Obama.


At the heart of the bitter U.S. budget dispute are deep differences over how to rein in growth of the $16.7 trillion (11.13 trillion pounds) federal debt. Obama wants to narrow the fiscal gap with spending cuts and tax hikes. Republicans do not want to concede again on taxes after doing so in negotiations over the "fiscal cliff" at the New Year.

Despite the scheduled dinners and meetings and the vote on funding the government, few expect those differences to be resolved any time soon.

Some Republicans remain sceptical of Obama's overtures. "This president has been exceptional in his lack of consultation and outreach to Congress," said John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Senate Republican.

Cornyn, like Collins, was not invited to dinner with Obama, but he warned that talk of tax increases would be unwelcome. "I don't know if the purpose of the meeting is social or if he has an agenda. But if it is about raising taxes, we're done."

While Republicans have taken most of the beating in surveys in connection with the so-called sequestration, a Reuters/Ipsos online poll released on Wednesday showed 43 percent of people approve of Obama's handling of his job, down 7 percentage points from February 19.

Confounding the White House's efforts to blame Republicans for the spending cuts, most respondents in the online survey hold both Democrats and Republicans responsible.

As recently as last month, Republicans were threatening to use the bill to fund the government, called a "continuing resolution," to extract spending cuts from the White House.

Instead, the bill they fashioned, which passed on Wednesday, embraced the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that were triggered last Friday, while providing some additional spending flexibility to the military and other security operations.

Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma said his party would like to shift the cuts to other areas of the budget, noting that there are 20,000 military employees in his Oklahoma district.

"We'll sit down and renegotiate where they should come from," Cole said in the debate on the House floor. "We think we've got some great ideas, but they (the cuts) are going to occur. They're the first and appropriate step for getting our fiscal house back in order."

Many Democrats in the Republican-controlled House voted against the funding bill because it would not give the Obama administration flexibility in carrying out the new, automatic spending cuts for domestic programs such as education. Last month, Democrats had sought to replace about half of the automatic cuts with tax increases on the rich.

"This bill falls short in a number of areas, but most of all because it does nothing to prevent the loss of 750,000 jobs that will result because of the sequester," said Representative Chris Van Hollen, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

(Additional reporting by Mark Felsenthal, Susan Heavey, Thomas Ferraro and Rachelle Younglai.; Editing by Fred Barbash, David Brunnstrom and Eric Walsh)

Related Stories:
Paul Ryan's U.S. budget plan sees balance by 2023, modestly deeper cuts

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Mourning Venezuelans parade Chavez's coffin, prepare for vote

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 07:05 PM PST

CARACAS (Reuters) - Sobbing and shouting, a throng of Hugo Chavez's supporters paraded his coffin through the streets of Caracas on Wednesday in an emotional outpouring that could help his deputy win an election to keep his socialist revolution alive.

The coffin of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez is driven through the streets of Caracas after leaving the military hospital where he died of cancer in Caracas, March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

The coffin of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez is driven through the streets of Caracas after leaving the military hospital where he died of cancer in Caracas, March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

Hundreds of thousands of "Chavistas" marched behind a hearse carrying the body of the flamboyant and outspoken president, draped in Venezuela's blue, red and yellow national flag.

Avenues resounded with chants honouring the former paratrooper as supporters showered flowers on his coffin and jostled to touch it. Loudspeakers played recordings of the charismatic socialist giving speeches and singing.

Some supporters held heart-shaped placards that read: "I love Chavez!" Others cheered from rooftops, waving T-shirts.

Ending one of Latin America's most remarkable populist rules, Chavez died on Tuesday at age 58 after a two-year battle with cancer that was first detected in his pelvis.

His body was taken to a military academy to lie in state at the tip of a grand esplanade until his state funeral on Friday. Late into the night, a sombre procession of thousands filed past the glass-topped coffin.

Soldiers saluted from behind a red rope and members of the public sobbed. Some were pushed through in wheelchairs. With a touch of the elbow and a quiet word, security men kept the line moving as top members of the government looked on.

The future of Chavez's socialist policies, which won him the admiration of poor Venezuelans but infuriated opponents who denounced him as a dictator, now rests on the shoulders of acting President Nicolas Maduro, the man he tapped to succeed him.

"We ask our people to channel this pain into peace," Maduro said.

Maduro, a 50-year-old former bus driver and union leader, will face Henrique Capriles, the centrist governor of Miranda state, in an election due within weeks in the OPEC nation with the world's largest oil reserves.

Opposition parties and Capriles have agreed he will make another bid for the presidency, sources said on Wednesday.

He lost to Chavez in last year's election but had a respectable 44 percent of the vote, the best performance by any candidate against Chavez in a presidential contest.

One recent opinion poll gave Maduro a strong lead over the 40-year-old Capriles. Maduro, who wore a track-suit top in the colours of the Venezuelan flag and hugged mourners as he stood by Chavez's coffin, will likely benefit from the surge of emotion.

Authorities said the vote would be called within 30 days, as stipulated by the constitution, but did not specify when.

The tall, moustachioed Maduro has long been a close ally of Chavez. He pledges to continue his legacy and it is unlikely he would make major policy changes.

He will now focus on rallying support from Chavez's diverse coalition, which ranges from leftist ideologues to business leaders who have contracts with the state, and armed groups known as "colectivos."

Some have suggested Maduro might try to ease tensions with foreign companies and the U.S. government. Yet hours before Chavez's death, Maduro accused "imperialist" enemies of infecting the president with cancer and expelled two U.S. diplomats accused of conspiring with domestic opponents.

Venezuela's military commanders pledged loyalty to Maduro, who will be caretaker leader until the election, and soldiers fired 21-gun salutes to Chavez in barracks across the nation.

A victory by Capriles, a centrist politician who says Venezuela should follow Brazil's softer centre-left model, would be welcome by investors and bring big changes - although he has called for calm and respect for many people's sense of loss.

"Don't be scared. Don't be anxious. Between us all, we are going to guarantee the peace this beloved country deserves," Capriles said in a condolence message.

Venezuelan debt prices fell on Wednesday as investors locked in gains chalked up in anticipation of Chavez's death, citing short-term political uncertainty.


The stakes are also huge for leftist Latin American allies like Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia that for years have relied on Chavez for economic aid.

But leaders of other countries in the region - mainly free-traders like Peru, Chile, Colombia, Panama and Mexico - periodically rejected his overtures, criticized his statist policies and, for Washington, served as a buffer against him.

It was not immediately clear where Chavez would be buried.

He had ordered a striking mausoleum built in downtown Caracas for the remains of 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar, his inspiration, and it is due to be finished soon. Some allies said he should be buried there.

Despite the tumult around the coffin procession, much of Caracas was quiet on Wednesday. There were long lines outside gasoline stations.

A stony-faced Bolivian President Evo Morales joined Maduro at the front of the procession. The presidents of Argentina and Uruguay joined them for a vigil by the coffin. Other regional leaders are expected to attend his funeral.

"This has hit me very hard, I'm still in shock," said Leny Bolivar, a 39-year-old Education Ministry worker, her eyes red from crying. "We must keep fighting; he showed us the way."

Condolences flooded in from around the world - ranging from the Vatican and the United Nations to allies like Iran and Cuba.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad mourned Chavez's death as a great loss, extolling his opposition to the "war on Syria."


U.S. President Barack Obama was less effusive about a man who put his country at loggerheads with Washington, saying his administration was interested in "developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government."

In a potentially conciliatory gesture, the United States, a major oil client of Venezuela, is expected to send a delegation to the funeral.

Opponents at home hoped for a fresh start.

"Chavez was very dominant and used the powers of state in a very discretional way, as though this was his own estate," Juan Vendrell, a 58-year-old engineer, said in a wealthy neighbourhood of Caracas. "I would like a change and for institutions and democracy to be restored."

Chavez led Venezuela for 14 years and won a new six-year term in last October's election.

His folksy charisma, anti-U.S. diatribes and oil-financed projects to improve life for residents of long-neglected slums created an unusually powerful bond with many poor Venezuelans.

That emotional connection underpinned his rule, but critics saw his autocratic style, gleeful nationalizations and often harsh treatment of rivals as hallmarks of a dictator whose policies squandered a historic bonanza of oil revenues.

The nationalizations and strict currency controls under Chavez frightened off investors. Even some of his followers complained that he focused too much on ideological issues at the expense of day-to-day problems such as power cuts, high inflation, food shortages and violent crime.

Chavez's health declined sharply just after his re-election on October 7, possibly because of his decision to campaign for a third term instead of stepping aside to focus on his recovery.

The government declared seven days of mourning.

(With reporting by Enrique Andres Pretel, Deisy Buitrago, Marianna Parraga, Ana Isabel Martinez and Daniel Wallis; Editing by Terry Wade, Kieran Murray and Peter Cooney)

Related Stories:
Venezuela's Chavez exalted as "father" and "martyr" by followers

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

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McIlroy denies split with Wozniacki

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 05:35 PM PST

MIAMI: World number one Rory McIlroy said: "...just because I have a bad day on the golf course and Caroline Wozniacki loses a match in Malaysia, it doesn't mean that we're breaking up."

McIlroy acknowledged on Wednesday he was wrong to walk off mid-round at last week's Honda Classic and said his toothache was not bad enough to justify quitting the tournament.

Facing the media for the first time since his controversial withdrawal at PGA National, McIlroy said it soon dawned on him that he had made the wrong decision.

McIlroy also dealt with speculation that he may have off-the-course issues, perhaps related to his girlfriend, Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, hampering his focus on the game.

"No, not at all. I've read what's been written and just because I have a bad day on the golf course and Caroline loses a match in Malaysia, it doesn't mean that we're breaking up," he said with a laugh.

"It's sport, and I'd rather keep my private life as private as possible. Everything on that front is great and I'm looking forward to seeing her next week when she gets to Miami," he added.

On his glofing problems he added: "Obviously I've had a lot of time to think about it. I realised pretty quickly that it wasn't the right thing to do," he told a news conference ahead of Thursday's first round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

"No matter how bad I was playing, I should have stayed out there. I should have tried to shoot the best score possible even though it probably wasn't going to be good enough to make the cut," he said, referring to his ill-fated second round where he played the first eight holes at seven over-par before quitting.

McIlroy initially told reporters on Friday as he was heading to his car that he was not in a "good place mentally" but a later statement cited pain from his wisdom tooth.

Asked which version was the truer reflection of the reason for his withdrawal, McIlroy said both were factors but that his tooth pain was not enough of an explanation.

"Both. I wasn't in a good place with my golf game. I was, you know, mentally ‑ you know, my head was all over the place.

"But at the same time, I have been struggling with my lower right wisdom tooth for over a year.

"So, yeah, look, my tooth was bothering me, but it wasn't bothering me enough to probably, you know, quit but that's just the way it is," said the Northern Irishman, who is paired with Tiger Woods and England's Luke Donald on Thursday and Friday at Doral's Blue Monster course.

McIlroy has played just four full professional rounds in three months, missing the cut in the Abu Dhabi Championship in January and suffering a surprise first-round exit in the WGC-Accenture World Match Play Championship last month in Arizona.


The 23-year-old said he had spent 20 hours over the weekend working on his swing, trying to correct the fault which he blames for his poor early season form.

"I've worked my ass off over the last four or five days to really try and get this right," he said.

"Still, it's a work‑in‑progress. As I said, there's no quick fixes in golf but I'm going to go out there this week and all I care about is my swing, and I know if I can get my swing back on track, that the results will follow."

The twice major championship winner dismissed any suggestion that his switch to Nike clubs in January in a multi-million deal was behind his disappointing displays.

"I know that it's just purely the swing. The equipment is fantastic. I have no problems at all. When I make a good swing, the ball goes where I want it and the flight I want it, so I know that it's not that. It's just getting my swing on the right path," he said. - Reuters

All England: Chong Wei beats Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 04:53 PM PST

BIRMINGHAM: World No 1 singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei survived a major scare against Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong before prevailing to the second round of the All-England at National Indoor Arena in a day full of upsets Thursday.

Top seed Chong Wei had to dig deep to beat Wing Ki 13-21, 21-6, 23-21 in a pulsating 49-minute opener to set-up a meeting against former world junior champion Wang Zhengming of China.

It could have been all over for Chong Wei when he was trailing 20-21 in the decider but the 22-year-old Wing Ki blew his chances when he smashed a clear winner to the net and allowed Chong Wei to level the score at 21-21.

Chong Wei, then hung on, to seal the match.

Two-time All-England champion Chong Wei said that he was simply lucky to scrape through.

"God was on my side yesterday. I was lucky that Wing Ki misfired at the crucial point or else, I would have been one of the star casualties in the All-England today," he said.

Prior to Chong Wei's match, top players from China - Du Pengyu (men's singles), Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan (women's singles), Hong Wei-Shen Ye (men's doubles) and several others like men's doubles hotshots Lee Yong-dae-Ko Sung-hyun of South Korea and Denmark's mixed doubles specialists Joachim Ficher Nielsen-Christinna Pedersen - had bit the dust.

China's four-time world champions Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng had also withdrawn from the tournament due to Cai Yun's back injury.

"For top players, usually, the first round are the most challenging and tricky.

My opponent really gave me a huge fright today. I have never seen Wing Ki play in such aggressive fashion in the first and third game.... his smashes were just ruthless," said Chong Wei.

"I hope to perform better from the next round onwards. I am the only Malaysian singles shuttler left in the fray and I will go all out to keep the challenge alive," he promised.

It was the end of the road for three others - Liew Daren, Chong Wei Feng and Tan Chun Seang in the first round on Thursday.

Daren did well to force a deuce against former world champion Chen Jin of China but eventually, went down fighting 15-21, 21-19, 11-21.

Chun Seang also gave a good account of himself before bowing out 12-21, 15-21, 15-21 but Chong Wei Feng was an easy prey for Denmark's Jan O Jorgensen. Wei Feng went down 11-21, 14-21.

It was mixed response for Malaysia in the men's doubles when three out of five pairs made it to the second round.

Second seeds Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong stayed solid despite strong resistance from Chris Adcock-Andrew Ellis of England before prevailing with a 21-19, 24-22 win.

It was also a good day for Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong and Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif but they have unexpected second round opponents.

Thien How-Wee Kiong will take on Ingo Kindervater-Johannes Schoettler of German, who stunned third seeds Yong-dae-Sung-hyun of South Korea 23-21, 21-18 while Fairuzizuan-Zakry face Ricky Karanda Suwardi-Mohd Ulinnuha, who got a free ride into the second round following the walkover by Cai Yun-Haifeng.

In the women's doubles, Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo cleared their first round hurdle to set-up a meeting with Eom Hye-won-Jang Ye-na of South Korea. They are the only pair left after the defeats of Ng Hui Lin-Ng Hui Ern and Goh Liu Ying-Lim Yin Loo.

In the mixed doubles, Peng Soon-Liu Ying will face Fran Kurniawan-Shendy Puspa Irawati of Indonesia in the second round while Ong Jian Guo-Yin Loo will square off with Sudket Prapakamol-T. Saralee of Thailand.

RESULTS (Malaysians only)

FIRST ROUND Men's singles: Lee Chong Wei bt Wong Wing Ki (Hkg) 13-21, 21-6, 23-21; Nguyen Tien Minh (Vie) bt Tan Chun Seang 21-12, 15-21, 21-15; Chen Jin (Chn) bt Liew Daren 21-15, 19-21, 21-11; Jan O Jorgensen (Den) bt Chong Wei Feng 21-11, 21-14.

Men's doubles: Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif-Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari bt Peter Kaesbauer-Josche (Ger) 21-11, 20-22, 21-10; Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong bt Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki-Hendra Gunawan (Ina) 21-16, 21-12; Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata (Jpn) bt Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah 12-21, 23-21, 21-18; Chen Hung-ling-Lu Chia-bin (Tpe) bt Gan Teik Chai-Ong Soon Hock 21-12, 21-12; Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong bt Chris Adcock-Andrew Ellis (Eng) 21-19, 24-22; Tan Bin Shen-Robert Blair (Mas-Sco) bt Alven Yulianto-Markis Kido (Ina) 17-21, 21-19, 21-15.

Women's doubles: Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei bt Emelie Lennartsson-Emma Wengberg (Swe) 21-11, 21-13; Wang Xiaoli-Yu Yang (Chn) bt Ng Hui Ern-Ng Hui Lin 21-15, 21-16; Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth-Rizki Amelia Pradipta (Ina) bt Goh Liu Ying-Lim Yin Loo 21-19, 20-22, 21-17.

Mixed doubles: Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying bt Patiphat Chalardchaleam-Savitree Amitrapai (Tha) 12-21, 21-15, 21-11;Ong Jian Guo-Lim Yin Loo bt Akshay Dewalkar-Pradmnya Gadre (Ind) 21-8, 21-13.

Chong Wei our only hope

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 04:19 PM PST

IT WAS a sad day for Malaysia when Chong Wei Feng, Liew Daren and Tan Chun Seang were sent packing in the All-England and it was left to Taiwan's up-and-coming player Chou Tien-chen to steal the show in the first round at the National Indoor Arena.

Hopes were high on Wei Feng to defy the odds but he was blown away by Denmarks' Jan O Jorgensen 11-21, 14-21 in 32 minutes.

Daren put up a fighting display before going down to former world champion Chen Jin 15-21, 21-19, 11-21.

It could have been an easy straight-game victory for Chen Jin but Daren made remarkable turnaround halfway in the second game by showing more aggression to force deuce.

In the end, it was all in vain as he lost the rubber 11-21.

Professional shuttler Chun Seang, who is based in Austria, performed better and went down fighting 12-21, 21-15, 15-21 to Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam.

With Daren, Wei Feng and Chun Seang all out, all hope is now on Lee Chong Wei to keep the Malaysian flag flying high.

The 25-year-old Wei Feng was disappointed with his tame exit in his fourth campaign.

"I have improved physically but tactically I was a let down today. Jorgensen was in control of the game and broke my rhythm and movement from the start," he said.

"I still harbour hope of playing in my first World Championships. It's not the end yet and I have a few more tournaments to make up for this disappointment."

Jorgensen revealed that Wei Feng was an easy prey because of his small physique.

"He is short and does not have the feel of the court as shown by some players like Chen Long. So, it was easy for me to put him off balance," said Jorgensen.

"I'm more prepared this time. I reached the quarter-finals last time and was more focused on the Olympic Games qualification. But, this time, I'm completely focused on doing well here."

The show-stealer yesterday was definitely 23-year-old Tien-chen, who screamed in delight after defeating Pengyu for the first time in three meetings.

"I've beaten Chen Jin before ... but he was injured then. This, to me, is my biggest career win," said Tien-chen, who is into his fifth year of Sports Science studies at the Taiwan Sports University.

"I played well and had many lucky shots. I took my chances well and Pengyu's defence was not as good and I benefited from plenty of good smashes.

"I didn't qualify for the Olympic Games last year, so I trained hard to become better this year."

Tien-chen will take on Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia next but, with Pengyu and Taufik Hidayat out of the way, this spunky Taiwanese may make it all the way to the semi-finals and pose as a new threat to world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei.

There was another upset yesterday when qualifier Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand knocked out sixth seed Hu Yun of Hong Kong 21-16, 11-21, 23-21 to set up a meeting with Sho Sasaki of Japan.

Second seed Chen Long of China was almost shown the exit but he rose to the occasion to beat Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand 18-21, 21-10, 21-15.



Men's singles: Nguyen Tien Minh (Vie) bt Tan Chun Seang (Mas) 21-12, 15-21, 21-15; Chen Long (Chn) bt Boonsak Ponsana (Tha) 18-21, 21-10, 21-15; Jan O Jorgensen (Den) bt Chong Wei Feng (Mas) 21-11, 21-14; Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (Tha) bt Hu Yun (Hkg) 21-16, 11-21, 23-21; Chou Tien-chen (Tpe) bt Du Pengyu (Chn) 21-17, 10-21, 21-18; Sho Sasaki (Jpn) bt Taufik Hidayat (Ina) 21-16, 21-11; Tommy Sugiarto (Ina) bt Gao Huan (Chn) 21-14, 21-13; Kenichi Tago (Jpn) bt Viktor Axelsen (Den) 22-20, 21-15; Chen Yuekun (Chn) bt Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (Den) 21-16, 12- 21, 21-11.

Men's doubles: Chen Hung-ling-Lu Chia-bin (Tpe) bt Gan Teik Chai-Ong Soon Hock (Mas) 21-12, 21-12; Lukasz Moren-Wojciech Szkudlarczyk (Pol) bt Hong Wei-Shen Ye (Chn) 19-21, 21-19, 22-20; Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen (Den) bt Angga Pratama-Ryan Agung Saputra (Ina) 21-18, 21-19.

Women's singles: Pai Hsiao-ma (Tpe) bt Chan Tsz Ka (Hkg) 21-10, 21-9; Bae Yeon-ju (Kor) bt Li Xuerui (Chn) 21-18, 21-18; Eriko Hirose (Jpn) bt Michelle Li (Can) 21-19, 11-21, 21-14; Sung Ji-hyun (Kor) bt Petya Nedelcheva (Bul) 21-15, 21-14.

Women's doubles: Lok Yan Poon-Ying Suet Tse (Hkg) bt Savitree Amitrapai-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) 21-13, 21-18; Wang Xiaoli-Yu Yang (Chn) bt Ng Hui Ern-Ng Hui Lin (Mas) 21-15, 21-16; Eva Lee-Paula Lynn Obanana (Usa) bt Narissapat Lam-T. Saralee (Tha) 21-17, 21-18; Choi Hye-in-Kim So-young (Kor) bt Gebby Ristiyani Imawan-Tiara Rosalia Nuraidah (Ina) 21-17, 21-13.

Mixed doubles: Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei (Chn) bt Mads Piler Kolding-Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den) 21-11, 21-9; Tantowi Ahmad- Lilyana Natsir (Ina) bt Michael Fuchs-Birgit Michels (Ger) 21- 10, 21-15; Qiu Zihan-Bao Yixin (Chn) bt Anders Kristiansen-Julie Houmann (Den) 21-19, 25-23; Shin Baek-cheol-Jang Ye-na (Kor) bt Riky Widianto-Puspita Richi Dili (Ina) 21-15, 21-14; Kim Ki-jung- Jung Kyung-eun (Kor) bt Kenichi Hayakawa-Misaki Matsutomo (Jpn) 21-13, 19-21, 21-15; Xu Chen-Ma Jin (Chn) bt Chris Adcock- Gabrielle White (Eng) 21-14, 21-18; Markis Kido-Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth (Ina) bt Joachim Fischer Nielsen-Christinna Pedersen (Den) 12-21, 21-19, 23-21.


(Matches involving Malaysians only)

Men's singles

First round: Tan Chun Seang bt Dieter Domke (Ger) 21-18, 15-21, 21-15; Zulfadli Zulkifli bt Suppanyu Avihingsanon (Tha) 22-20, 21-15; Mohd Arif Abdul Latif bt Scott Evans (Irl) 13-21, 21-9, 21-12.

Second round: Chun Seang bt Zulfadli 11-21, 21-14, 21-12; Chen Yuekun (Chn) bt Arif 16-21, 21-16, 21-14.

Men's doubles

First round: Tan Bin Shen-Robert Blair (Mas-Sco) bt Christopher Coles-Matthew Nottingham (Eng) 21-11, 15-21, 21-9.

Second round: Bin Shen-Blair bt Mattijs Dierickx-Freek Golinski (Ger) 21-12, 21-10.

Women's singles

First round: Sayaka Takahashi (Jpn) bt Lydia Cheah 21-13, 21-8.

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IRM Group stages mild rebound as suspension averted

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 06:33 PM PST

Published: Thursday March 7, 2013 MYT 10:34:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: IRM Group Bhd's share price rose on Thursday after Bursa Malaysia Securities said the counter would not be suspended on Friday after it submitted its financial results for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2012.

At 10.18am, it was up two sen to 12 sen. It was the second most active counter with 15.91 million shares done.

The FBM KLCI rose 2.28 points to 1,654.12. Turnover was 236.27 million shares valued at RM191.21mil. There were 201 gainers, 150 losers and 219 counters unchanged.

IRM Group had on Wednesday submitted its financial results. It reported wider net loss of RM10.33mil for Q4 ended Dec 31, 2012 versus net loss of RM3.59mil a year ago. Its revenue fell to RM20.84mil from RM39.52mil.

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2012, its net loss rose to RM16.85mil from RM4.60mil in FY11. Revenue declined to RM114.74mil from RM166.61mil.


UMW, Petronas stocks lead KLCI higher

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 06:00 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Fund buying of UMW and Petronas-related stocks pushed the FBM KLCI higher in early trade on Thursday, taking the cue from the record Wall Street performance, but there could be some profit taking later.

At 9.43am, the FBM KLCI was up 1.6 points to 1,653.44. Turnover was 165.72 million shares valued at RM118.91mil. There were 174 gainers, 106 losers and 181 counters unchanged.

Maybank KE Research said the KLCI's resistance level of 1,655 and 1,661 might cap market gains, whilst the support areas were at 1,638 and 1,651.

"The KLCI made a key all-time high of 1,699.68 on Jan 4, 2013 followed by a swing low of 1,597.00.

"Despite the US markets' rise last night, we expect the local index's rebound to test the 62% retracement level of 1,648.34 1,660.46. The index may be gaining further upward traction," said the research house.

Reuters reported Japan's Nikkei share average rose above 12,000 on Thursday for the first time in 4-1/2 years, with risk appetite supported by a record high on Wall Street and the prospect of Japan soon adopting aggressively reflationary monetary policy.

At Bursa Malaysia, UMW rose 38 sen to RM14.14. Petronas Dagangan added 28 sen to RM23.60 and Petronas Gas 22 sen to RM18.72 while BAT gained 22 sen also to RM61.22.

Hong Leong Capital continued its upward march, rising 20 sen to RM3.60 from its takeover offer price of RM1.71.

Hong Leong Bank gained 12 sen to RM14.52 and Bursa nine sen to RM6.89.


Hong Leong Capital extends gains, suspension looms

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 05:39 PM PST

Published: Thursday March 7, 2013 MYT 9:39:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of Hong Leong Capital continued its rally on Thursday, surging to a high of RM3.70 as investors pinning their hopes for a higher takeover price from Hong Leong Financial Group Bhd (HLFG).

At 9.18am, Hong Leong Leong Capital was up 25 sen to RM3.65, which is 113.4% above HLFG's offer price of RM1.71.

The FBM KLCI rose 3.2 points to 1,655.04. Turnover was 61.46 million shares valued at RM49.89mil. There were 140 gainers, 53 losers and 128 counters unchanged.

Trading in Hong Leong Leong Capital's shares will be suspended on April 15 as it does not meet the shareholding spread. Its last trading day will be on April 12.


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'Iron Man 3': A trailer full of new images

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 12:36 AM PST

Marvel Studios has released a new trailer for Shane Black's Iron Man 3, set for release on May 3 in North America.

The video released on Yahoo!Movies summarizes the plot of Iron Man 3.

Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Tony Stark, a weapons mogul and superhero who has been personally affected by the attacks of the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

The trailer features Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Guy Pierce, even though it is not known which part he will play.

The trailer also highlights a wave of special visual effects that reveal Iron Man 3 as the first blockbuster of Spring/Summer 2013.


Harrison Ford joins cast of 'Anchorman' sequel

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 11:10 PM PST

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that Harrison Ford will play a TV news anchor alongside Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Christina Applegate and Kristen Wiig in Anchorman 2.

Before his much-awaited return as Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode VII, Harrison Ford will appear in Adam Kay's movie, to be co-produced by Judd Apatow. In 2004's Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrell played a zany anchorman for a local San Diego news network in the 1970s.

Filming on Anchorman 2 is expected to begin by the end of March.


Holly Batman! It was the delivery man!

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 10:35 PM PST

LONDON (Reuters) - It wasn't Batman, it was a joker. A day after making headlines around the world for handing over a suspect to police dressed as Batman, the identity of Britain's mysterious caped crusader has been revealed as Stan, a takeaway food delivery man.

Police in Bradford, northern England, were baffled when a portly figure in an ill-fitting Batman costume brought them a 27-year-old man wanted for burglary in the early hours of 25 February before disappearing into the night.

They released closed-circuit television footage of the incident on Monday and after much speculation, the masked hero disclosed his true identity to media on Tuesday. He was not Batman's alter ego Bruce Wayne, but driver Stan Worby, 39.

He also said he had not brought the man in as part of any crime-fighting crusade. He had simply agreed to accompany a friend to the police station to offer him moral support, and had decided to wear the Batman suit as a practical joke.

"Obviously it was done as a joke," he told ITV's Daybreak programme, saying he was "gobsmacked" by the attention.

Worby said he had been to London's Wembley Stadium earlier in the day to watch local team Bradford City play in the English Capital One (League) Cup soccer final and had worn fancy dress for the occasion.

While there, Worby was contacted by his friend and agreed to take him in on his return from London.

"Obviously he wanted to get straight down there and I wanted my bed as it was half (past) one in the morning," Worby said.

He also insisted the pictures which showed he perhaps lacked the body of a superhero were unfair.

"I've got my full tracksuit underneath," he explained.

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Singer remanded over husband's death in condominium

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 07:19 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: A woman singer has been remanded for five days from Wednesday to assist in the investigation into the death of her husband in a condominium in Ampang Utama two days ago.

Ampang Jaya district police chief ACP Amiruddin Jamaluddin said a teenage boy and girl were remanded over the same investigation.

The 39-year-old victim was reported to have died after a quarrel, followed by a struggle, at about 5pm. - Bernama

Lahad Datu: Photos of slain intruders released

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 06:45 AM PST

Published: Wednesday March 6, 2013 MYT 5:03:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday March 6, 2013 MYT 10:45:25 PM

LAHAD DATU: Authorities released photos of 13 slain intruders Wednesday, following the all-out attack Tuesday by Malaysian security forces against armed Sulu gunmen holed up in Kampung Tanduo near here.

Sweep and mop-up operations at the site unearthed a mass grave containing the bodies of nine Sulu intruders.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the Armed Forces also managed to seize weapons during the operation.

"This is the proof, the bodies that we managed to gather, and we are in the process of collecting more bodies," he told a press conference live on TV3 at Felda Sahabat Residence here.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said that no Malaysian personnel was injured in the operation.

"We have to conduct a full post mortem on the dead bodies to determined how they died," he said.

The ministers also showed photographs of weapons seized at the scene and the body of the gunman who was shot and killed at 6.45am.

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Police still on hunt for last two escaped detainees

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 06:36 AM PST

NIBONG TEBAL: Penang police are still tracking down the two remaining detainees, Hamzani Harun, 37, and Hisham Abdul Rahman, 39, who escaped from police detention while on the way to the Butterworth Court from the Penang Prison on Jan 7.

"We'll get them sooner or latter," state deputy police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar told reporters after a community policing programme here Wednesday.

The two men were among nine detainees who escaped after hijacking the police van carrying them.

Two of them were recaptured near the police van which was abandoned in Kampung Padang Chempedak, Tasek Gelugor while two more, Mohd Fairuz Adam, 31, and Mohd Noor Mustafa, 28, were shot dead after attempting to flee in a car and shooting at police in Kampung Padang Ibu, Bukit Mertajam, near here, on Jan 10.

Two days later, police detained Mohd Farid Akhtar, 24, at a foodstall in Kampung Petani, Kubang Semang while Mohd Shahrimi Mohd Noor, 28, gave himself up at the Penanti market and Mohd Khairulnizam Abdul Rani, 26, was caught in an internet cafe in Berapit, Bukit Mertajam. - Bernama

Related Stories:
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Death awaited them in Penanti
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Four cops suspended, may face disciplinary action for letting seven escape
Handcuff detainees in the back, police told
Curry powder' used to blind cops could be noodle seasoning

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Metro Watch

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 05:52 AM PST


The Parents-Teachers Association and the alumni of SMK Taman SEA in Petaling Jaya will be hosting a dinner on March 16 at the Dewan Berjaya school hall. Registration starts at 6.30pm. There will be entertainment, lucky draws, auction and more. Dress code is smart casual and tickets are priced at RM60 per person. For details, contact Quek Tuck Loong at 012-295 0265 or Gunasundri at 013-350 8699 or email seadinner@gmail.com.


The National Blood Centre is having a blood donation drive today at University of Nottingham Malaysia at Jalan Broga, Semenyih (9.30am to 4pm), Canon Opto at Jalan Selisik, Seksyen 26, Shah Alam (9am to 4pm), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Jalan Semarak, Kuala Lumpur (9.30am to 4pm), Significant Technologies Sdn Bhd at 112-1, Jalan Dagang SB 4/1, Taman Sungai Besi Indah, Seri Kembangan (9am to 3pm) and the Malaysian Armed Forces headquarters atKementah camp, Jalan Padang Tembak, Kuala Lumpur (8am to 5pm). For details, visit www.pdn.gov.my.


In conjunction with an exhibition titled "The Art of Architecture by Foster + Partners" at Galeri Petronas at Suria KLCC, Foster + Partners senior partner and head of design David Nelson will be having a special lecture entitled "Cities and Culture" tomorrow at the Faculty of Built Environment at University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, at 11.30am. The session will entail unique insights into the studio's methods, research and integrated approach to design including themes related to the practice's work in Malaysia. Prior registration is required. For enquiries, email arts@britishcouncil.org.my.


In conjunction with Nutrition Month, Prince Court Medical Centre will be having cooking demos on March 9 and 16 to share tips on how to cook healthy and balanced Malay, Chinese, Indian and Western food and desserts. It starts at 10am on both days. Admission is free. For details, call 03-2160 0000 ext 1102 (Nana) or 1369 (Azah).


The alumni association of SMK Convent Sentul will be having its fifth AGM on March 17 at the school at 2pm. All former students are welcome. For details, call Datin Baljit 019-276 5391, Dal Rose 016-211 8114, Mangales 012-328 7076 or Caroline 016-319 7777.


Shelter Home for Children is organising a "Climb of Hope" to Mount Kinabalu from May 29 to June 1. It aims to raise RM100,000 for education, healthcare and protection of abused children and refugees. Those interested to participate in the climb can register with Roland or Edwin at 03-7955 0663, email jallehshelter@gmail.com or visit www.shelterhome.org.


Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman is having its open day on March 23 and 24 from 9.30am to 5.30pm at its Petaling Jaya campus at 9, Jalan Bersatu 13/4. There will be talks on programmes and PTPTN loans, student projects and art showcases, campus tour and academic counselling. Free shuttle bus service is available at selected pick-up points. For details, call 03-7958 2628 ext 7153/8281/8553, email enquiry@utar.edu.my or visit www.utar.edu.my.

CNY bash for Kampung Tunku folk

Posted: 06 Mar 2013 05:52 AM PST

IT WAS a fun-filled night for the residents of the Kampung Tunku constituency who gathered to celebrate Chinese New Year at Taman Aman park.

More than 500 people from all walks of life gathered despite the rain that began early in the evening.

The event was organised by Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lau Weng San's office, together with MBPJ councillor Jayaseelan An­thony.

Lau's assistant Roger-Shane Ee said the event was a communal Chinese New Year bash for the people.

"Chinese New Year is always some­thing people look forward to. The event gives them an opportunity to come out and enjoy themselves," he said.

Jayaseelan said they had also invited charity homes from around the Seapark area including Rumah Hope, Rumah Siddarthan SS3 and the Single Mothers Association Selangor.

"We never expected such a big crowd on a Monday night but the turnout is very encouraging," he said.

Some 30 children from both Rumah Hope and Rumah Siddarthan turned up for the event.

Guests were entertained by the performances put on by the children from Rumah Hope.

There were also lucky draws for participants and ang pow were distributed to children below 12 years old.

Residents were happy with the dinner since it was a platform for them to meet with councillors, assemblyman and MPs.

Residents Association SS1 chairman Johhny Quek said it was a good way to meet the elected representatives and vent their problems.

"It is a platform for us to meet them in a very informal atmosphere.

"It is also good for the charity homes as it gives the children an opportunity to mingle," he added.

Rukun Tetangga Section 20A Peta­ling Jaya chairman Kong Poh Heon said that it was good to be able to bring the residents together.

"Several residents helped with the setting up and it's important for us to work together," he added.

Kelana Jaya MP Tony Pua was also present at the event.

He said that events such as this were important as the residents could come out and discuss current affairs and it also gave local charities a chance to enjoy themselves.

Guests also enjoyed local cuisine such as nasi lemak, rice dumpling and chicken rice.

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From a slow-paced movement, Bakri has changed its character to a bustling constituency

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 08:12 PM PST

MUAR: Bandar Maharani, once known as a sleepy hollow with more bicycles than cars and motorcycles on its roads in the early days, is now a bustling town.

Its landscape of rubber plantations and traditional houses in the 1950s, have now be replaced with modern housing and commercial zones.

The famous Sungai Muar, where ships used to ply carrying iron and tin ore from the hinterland to Singapore in the old days, has gradually became "quiet" over the years with most of the goods now being transported via land.

However, trade, which helped the town to grow from several shophouses in 1800s, continued to flourish and prompted the late Johor Ruler Sultan Abu Bakar to focus on developing the town.

Back in the early days, a ferry service was used to transport vehicles and people across the river.

But the ferry service was stopped after the Government built a bridge over the river in the 1960s and the bridge further boosted growth.

Today, part of the town is in the Muar parliamentary area, while the rest in the Bakri parliamentary area.

Though many things have changed, including the landscape of the town itself where modern shophouses replacing traditional wooden buildings. However, some things continue to remain as they were in the old days.

It is still the only place in the country where the residents enjoy having satay, mee rebus and lodeh in the morning and ikan asam pedas during lunch.

Life would have remained still until today if not for the coming of industries in Tanjung Agas, located across the river, in 1970s when several multinational electronic companies set up factories there.

Muar is also famous for its furniture industry, which has over 300 factories.

Another landmark in the town history was when Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar decided to make Bandar Maharani as Bandar DiRaja or the royal town last year.

The Bakri parliamentary area consists of three state constituencies - Bentayan, Sungai Abong and Bukit Naning - and the town is shared between Bentayan and the Maharani constituency in the Muar parliamentary area.

The locals hoped that with the "Royal Town Status", everything in the town will continue to be upgraded including flood mitigation projects, better roads, infrastructure, more streetlights, drains and business opportunities.

Resident Azhar Ahmad, 26, from Kampung Tengah, Bakri, said Bakri was among the fast developing areas in the district with new and modern housing schemes mushrooming everywhere.

However, he added, that the area seemed to lack sports facilities such as fields, badminton courts and martial arts training centres for the youths.

"We have many badminton halls in and near the town but they are operated by businessmen and we need to pay to use the facilities.

"Since most youths here are students, we hope the government would build such facilities in the schemes and villages," he said.

Although the town looks clean and beautiful after it was declared the royal town of Johor, the town market still gives out stench despite undergoing some upgrading.

According to a former bus conductor Lau Kim Leng, 79, housing areas in and around the town used to be flooded each time it rains heavily because of the small and clogged drains.

"Even my house in Taman Orkid along Jalan Bakri was flooded two years ago, but today, there is no more flooding.

"However, since the town is located along Sungai Muar and close to the sea, we still have floods when there is heavy rain during high tides," he said when met in the town recently.

For trader Koo Sie Gek, 45, although the town was now clean, there were several issues, which the Muar municipal council could resolve regarding drainage in some housing areas.

She said the drains in Lorong Serkam, along Jalan Bakri, were still filled with dried leaves from the roadside trees and hoped the council could trim the trees.

She said the dried leaves clogged the drains and in some areas caused flooding while the stagnated drain water became mosquito breeding ground.

She said this had caused dengue outbreak in certain housing areas and hoped the council or the Southern Waste Management Company to clear the drain regularly.

She also said that the royal status given to the town had made many people happy as the town now looked clean, beautiful and thanked the Johor Ruler.

However, she added that the roads, especially along Jalan Maharani from the Muar bridge to the town market and Jalan Abdullah, were always congested.

Koo urged the authorities to review the traffic system near the bridge and allow motorists to turn right if they wanted to go to the western side of Jalan Maharani and those going towards Bakri could just go straight ahead.

She said the one-way system of the roads in the town, especially along Jalan Maharani, should also be reviewed as the system caused congestion.

Besides, Koo said the town had too many vehicles because the public transport system was very poor, which forced residents to buy cars or motorcycles to go to town.

"We used to pedal goods using a cart at the bus terminal a few years ago as the town roads were not congested.

"Today, I have a stall of my own near the terminal but the roads are always filled with cars and other vehicles," she said, adding, there was no more town-service buses today.

Koo said one could live just a kilometre from the town, but without own transport one could not go to town.

She said as a royal town of Johor it should have an efficient public transport system, especially buses, to cater to the needs of workers and students.

She said because of the poor transport system, parents were forced to buy motorcycles and some even cars, for their children who studied at schools in the town.

Her view on the poor public transportation system here is supported by young voter J. Manimala from Taman Seri Bakri Dua in the Bentayan constituency.

She said there was no bus service for residents living in housing areas in and around the town and this made life very difficult for those in the lower-income group.

She said the residents had to wait for taxis along the roads to go to the town and taxi fares were high but the residents had no choice and had to use taxis.

Manimala, 24, said the Government should also consider building a university or a college in Bakri to encourage higher studies among the youngsters.

At the same time, she added, the Government should provide more job opportunities to those graduates as many were unemployed after obtaining their diplomas or degrees.

"I completed my Upper Six studies at SMK Datuk Amara DiRaja a few years ago but have not found a job until now.

"I used to be a temporary teacher but my contract was terminated after one year," she said.

According to the Muar Market Traders' Association chairman Rosli Laham, the contractor had dumped bricks and dried cement into the drains inside the market before covering the drains.

"The drain water cannot flow out although the market is located along Sungai Muar.

"We have reported the matter to the council, which had issued warning to the contractor to resolve the problem or it will terminate the contract," he said.

Rosli said another problem faced by the residents at the market was the rampant parking of motorcycles near the building, which caused problems to motorists to park their cars.

"The council used to seize those motorcycles parked outside of the motorcycle parking areas and fine the owners but it did not stop residents from parking their bikes near the market," he said.

Taxi driver Samad Abdul Hamid, 70, hopes for regular garbage collection and more streetlights to keep the area lit up.

He said garbage collection, especially along Jalan Bakri where he lives, was irregular and sometimes there was no collection for two days.

He said the villages along the road up to Bukit Bakri were under the jurisdiction of the municipal council and all house owners also pay property tax annually.

"We should receive similar services as those living in housing schemes in Bandar Maharani and it includes regular garbage collection.

"We also want the local authority to provide streetlights along both sides of Jalan Bakri up to Bukit Bakri as some areas are dark at night," he said.

Samad, who worked in Singapore in the 60s and 70s, said since the town was now the royal town of Johor, the authorities should ensure it was clean, brightly lit at night and peaceful.

He said the authority built a lion statue at the Bentayan Hawker Centre in the town to tell the world it was the home of the famous Kun Seng Kheng Lion Dance Association.

He also said the lion dancers from Muar had won many world-class competitions but the statue had no colourful decorations to attract visitors.

"The local council should light up the statue and decorate it with attractive colours just like the lions used by the lion dancers," he said.

The Indian community in Bakri, especially those living at Air Manis Estate near Bukit Naning or used to live there, want the Government to relocate SK Air Manis from the estate to Bukit Bakri.

A resident U. Baskaran, said many of the estate workers had moved out and lived near Bukit Bakri and it was a problem to send their children to the school.

He said besides the school, the Indians also hoped the state government and the local authorities would employ more Indians to work in government departments and agencies.

He said though Muar had many factories, especially furniture factories, most of the workers were foreigners who managed to earn good living here.

"Now that the minimum salary has been reviewed to RM900, we hope the factories as well as government departments can engage more Indian workers.

"We also want the state to allocate more low-cost houses to the Indians and let the district office to pick the recipients instead of the political parties," he said.

Baskaran, who looks after an Indian cemetery in Air Manis Estate, hoped the government would build more low-cost houses in the parliamentary.

"Besides houses, we also want the government and the local authorities to allocate trading stalls to the Indians as very few were given stalls to do business," he added.

Meanwhile, a businessman P. Rajamanikam, praised the Ruler for making Bandar Maharani the royal town of Johor and hoped Sultan Ibrahim would also look into the needs of the Indian community.

He said most of the Indians in Bakri were low-income earners who needed better living standard, especially houses and business opportunities.

"Our number is small compared to the Malay and the Chinese communities, but our opportunities towards jobs and business ventures are also very limited.

"We hope the local authority which builds stalls in Bukit Bakri areas can at least allocate a few to our community," he added.

Bakri is expected to be a keenly contested seat as Barisan Nasional is expected to go all out to win back the only parliament, which fell to the opposition among its 26 parliaments state-wide.

Pakatan Rakyat is also going all out to woo its 66,380 voters, which is a mixed seat.

Johoreans uncertain how to receive Pakatan's manifesto

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 08:15 PM PST

JOHOR BARU: Some Johoreans are not confident with Pakatan Rakyat's manifesto as they are uncertain that the Opposition will be able to keep their promises.

College student Sangita Nair, 22, said that the country's economy could be in a bad shape if free education was made available.

"I doubt whether PR can provide free education in the country, if they do national debt will probably increase," she said.

Another college student, Norshakilah Ramanny, 22, opined that free education could be provided in the future but not anytime soon.

"Maybe in a few decades, when Malaysia records stronger economic growth and can sustain the needs of all students," she added.

Factory worker Wong Ah Fai, 48, said that the elimination of the automated enforcement system (AES) to nab traffic offenders was the only thing that grabbed his attention in the manifesto.

Meanwhile, teacher A. Anne Amarantha, 28, said that the opposition might have been a little ambitious with their manifesto.

"What they have to offer is good, but I believe that it would not be possible to realise all the promises.

"If they are going to reduce the prices of cars, I doubt that they can reduce the cost of petroleum," she said.

Administrative clerk Tan Kim Hong, 54, on the other hand was "quite positive" as anything was possible if handled by the right people.

"I'll be saving money if the opposition was able to reduce prices of petroleum and utility bills," she said hoping that the manifesto could be realised sooner.

Businessman S. Jason Raj, 35, said that he felt it was is inadvisable to increase the minimum wage to RM1,100 due to the current economic situation.

"If they come into power and implemented such rules, it would only hurt small and medium-sized businesses," he said.

Opposition parties are only in it for themselves, says Razali

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 04:38 PM PST

MUAR: The political war between the DAP and PKR in Johor over seats with Chinese-majority shows that leaders from both parties only think of themselves, according to Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Razali Ibrahim .

Razali said both opposition leaders each wanted the Bakri and Gelang Patah parliamentary areas as they thought their candidates could win.

He said this showed the Johor DAP chief Dr Boo Cheng Hau and Johor PKR chief Datuk Chua Jui Meng were selfish.

They are having an open war over the two parliamentary areas as both wanted to field their own candidates or fielding themselves there.

There are many parliamentary areas such as Kota Tinggi, Pengerang, Mersing and others which they can contest but they fight over Gelang Patah and Bakri, he said in Parit Jawa.

Razali said their open war over seats also showed the opposition parties would go at each other's throats over posts and portfolios if they happened to win in the next general election.

He said the people in Johor should realise that the DAP and PKR would not care about them as they only cared for themselves and for power.

Both parties have leaders holding parliamentary seats as well as state seats in some states but they did nothing to help the people in those areas.

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