Isnin, 11 Mac 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Brain cancer is not getting the best of Valerie Harper

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 08:42 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actress Valerie Harper, star of the 1970s television comedy Rhoda, says she is determined to "live each day's moments fully" despite a brain cancer diagnosis that doctors told her could bring death in a matter of days or in several years.

Harper, 73, who won four Emmy Awards for her signature sitcom role, said on NBC's Today show on Monday that the reality of her illness hit home "when I heard the word 'incurable.'"

"'Incurable' is a tough word, so is 'terminal,'" she said with a laugh. The interview, taped from her home in Los Angeles, marked Harper's first appearance on network television since she disclosed her cancer diagnosis in a People magazine cover story last Wednesday.

In that article, Harper said she learned in mid-January that she was suffering from leptomeningeal carcinomatosis -- cancer in the membrane of her brain -- and was given as little as three months to live.

In her televised interview with Savannah Guthrie of the Today show, Harper said her doctor told her she could live anywhere from a week, if for example she suffered a seizure, to a few months or even for several years, and that he had patients who had lived much longer than the prognosis.

Harper was a prime-time staple on U.S. television through most of the 1970s, first as the brassy but insecure neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern on the hit CBS sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The character proved so popular that Harper was given her own spinoff series, Rhoda, which ran for several more seasons on CBS.

"A lot of folks are calling (asking), 'Can I come by the house?' 'Are you in a wheelchair?', because they hear it as a death sentence, which it may be," Harper said on Today. "But I'm not dying until I do. I promise I won't."

As to holding out hope against a seemingly grim fate, Harper, her voice hoarse due to a bout of laryngitis, said that beyond being hopeful, "I have an intention to live each day's moments, fully."

Harper recently completed a tour promoting her new autobiography I, Rhoda and starred on Broadway as Tallulah Bankhead in Looped, for which she earned a Tony Award nomination.

Harper, who underwent surgery for lung cancer in 2009, said on Today that the disease she is currently battling is "very rare" and was "hard to detect because it was diffuse. It's all around. It's not in one lump."

She recounted feeling odd symptoms when she was working to take her Looped show on tour, noticing "this weird feeling in my jaw," adding, "I vomited for no reason and wasn't sick. And I thought, 'That's weird.'"

Despite the dire nature of her condition, Harper said she clings to hope.

"The thing I have is ... very rare and it's serious and it's incurable ... so far. So I'm holding on to the 'so far.'"


The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

U.N.'s Ban Ki-moon wants Ireland's Robinson for key Africa post - sources

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 09:04 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The former President of Ireland Mary Robinson is the top candidate for the post of U.N. special envoy to Africa's Great Lakes region, where she would help implement a peace deal to end the conflict in eastern Congo, U.N. sources said on Monday.

"She is the front-runner and is very likely to get the job, but it's not a done deal yet," a U.N. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Former Irish president Mary Robinson attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 26, 2013. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener

Former Irish president Mary Robinson attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 26, 2013. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener

A U.N. Security Council diplomat also told Reuters about Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's desire to name Robinson to the post.

In addition to having been Ireland's president from 1990-97, Robinson, 68, was the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002.

The sources said that Ban hoped to make an announcement soon, though they said there was a slight possibility that Robinson would decide for some reason not to take the post.

U.N. peacekeepers in Congo have been stretched thin by the "M23" rebellion in the resource-rich east. A U.N. expert panel has said that M23 was supported by Rwanda and Uganda, though the two countries have vehemently denied it.

The U.N. Security Council is considering creating a special intervention force, which one senior council diplomat has said would be able to "search and destroy" the M23 rebels and other armed groups in the country.

M23 began taking parts of eastern Congo early last year, accusing the government of failing to honour a 2009 peace deal. That deal ended a previous rebellion and led to the rebels' integration into the army, but they have since deserted.

African leaders signed a U.N.-mediated regional accord late last month aimed at ending two decades of conflict in eastern Congo and paving the way for the intervention force.

The Congolese government said on Monday it hoped to sign a peace deal with the M23 rebels on March 15, but a rebel leader said more talks were needed.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Japan PM keeps pledge to mark 1952 return of sovereignty

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 08:09 PM PDT

TOKYO (Reuters) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government decided on Tuesday to hold a ceremony to mark the restoration of Japan's sovereignty seven years after defeat in World War Two, a sign of his drive to repair what conservatives consider dented national pride.

The popular 58-year-old Abe, who returned to office when his party swept back to power in a December poll, wants to revise the post-war, U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution and rewrite Japan's wartime history with a less apologetic tone.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks next to the national flag, which is hung with a black ribbon as a symbol of mourning for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, during his news conference at his official residence in Tokyo March 11, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks next to the national flag, which is hung with a black ribbon as a symbol of mourning for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, during his news conference at his official residence in Tokyo March 11, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

His Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had pledged in the campaign to make April 28 "Restoration of Sovereignty Day", to mark the day in 1952 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect, formally ending World War Two and the Allied Occupation.

"There are an increasing number of young people who do not know that there existed a seven-year occupation period under which Japan lost its sovereignty," Abe told a parliamentary panel on Thursday to explain the plan, Kyodo news agency said.

Some Japanese business executives worry that Abe, who has been focusing on policies to revive Japan's stagnant economy, may shift gears to his hawkish security and historical revisionist agenda after a July upper house election that his ruling bloc needs to win to cement its grip on power.

Abe enjoys support rates of around 70 percent, largely on hopes for his "Abenomics" mix of big spending and hyper-easy monetary policies, but some political experts question how much backing there was for his parallel non-economic agenda.

"I think that for the right, the meaning of Sovereignty Day is to celebrate the end of a foreign occupation that imposed alien ideas and institutions on Japan," said Columbia University political science professor Gerry Curtis.

"Abe wants 'regime change' but most Japanese appear happy to have the regime the occupation made possible - democracy, peace, freedom, prosperity - rather than what they had before."

The plan has upset some residents of Japan's southern island of Okinawa, which remained under U.S. control for another two decades after 1952. Okinawa is still reluctant host to the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan.

"We should not forget the history of hardships of Okinawa and should continue working on easing Okinawa's burden in hosting the (U.S. military) bases," Kyodo quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga as telling a cabinet meeting in a nod to Okinawan sensitivities.

(Reporting by Linda Sieg and Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Sudan, South Sudan agree to oil flow restart within two weeks - mediator

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 07:58 PM PDT

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to order the resumption of the flow of southern oil exports through pipelines in Sudan within two weeks, more than a year after Juba shut down its entire output, a mediator said on Tuesday.

Landlocked South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in July 2011, shut down its 350,000 barrel-per-day output in January last year in a dispute with Khartoum over fees.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki speaks during a meeting between Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein and his South Sudan counterpart John Kong Nyuon in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, March 8, 2013. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki speaks during a meeting between Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein and his South Sudan counterpart John Kong Nyuon in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, March 8, 2013. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Both countries depended heavily on oil for revenue and the foreign currency they use to import food and fuel, but disputes over the border and other issues prevented the two from resuming exports.

Sudan's chief negotiator Idris Mohammed Abdel Gadir signed a deal with his South Sudanese counterpart Pagan Amum setting out a timeline for resumption of oil after four days of African Union-brokered talks in Addis Ababa.

Asked when the orders would be given to resume oil flows, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating between the two sides, told reporters: "The instruction to the companies is D-day (March 10) plus 14."

The two former civil war enemies agreed at the talks in the Ethiopian capital on Friday to order the withdrawal of their troops from a demilitarized border zone within a week to ease tensions and open the way to resuming the oil exports.

South Sudan's president has given those orders, the country's armed spokesman said on Monday.

After teetering on the brink of full-scale conflict in April during the worst border clashes since their split, the two countries had agreed in September to set up the buffer zone. However, they did not implement it.

Some 2 million people died in Sudan's decades-long north-south civil war, which ended with a 2005 peace deal that paved the way for the South's secession.

(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Eric Walsh; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Bolt, Ennis honored at Laureus Awards

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 07:40 PM PDT

RIO DE JANEIRO: Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt and British athletics queen Jessica Ennis won the top prizes as athletics dominated the Laureus World Sports Awards on Monday.

Bolt was crowned the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for the third time following his triple gold-medal winning performance at London 2012, where he won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m crowns.

Bolt pipped a star-studded field of nominees which included British Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi, British distance runner Mo Farah and German F1 ace Sebastian Vettel.

The winners of the awards are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, a jury made up of 46 sports stars.

Ennis, who delighted her homeland with victory in the Olympic heptathlon last year, won the World Sportswoman of the Year Award.

"It is so surreal to stand here in front of all these amazing sportsmen and sportswomen," Ennis said.

Meanwhile retired US swimmer Michael Phelps was also honored with the Laureus Exceptional Achievement Award after becoming the most decorated Olympian in history in London.

Phelps quit swimming after the London Games where he took his career tally to 22 medals, including 18 golds.

"It has been an amazing career and it is crazy to think that it is over," Phelps said in accepting the award. "But I've done everything that I wanted to do in sport. I wanted to change swimming and take it to a level, and I have."

Meanwhile Europe's golfers won the Team of the Year prize following their remarkable fightback to beat the United States in the Ryder Cup at Medinah.-AFP

Golden day for Malaysia at Asian Cycling Championships

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 07:10 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: It was raining gold for Malaysia as the cyclists chalked several firsts on the final day of the track events at the Asian Cycling Championships in New Delhi yesterday.

Fatehah Mustapa started the ball rolling by blazing her way into the history books as the first Malaysian to win the women's elite sprint title for the first time.

Teenager Muhd Firdaus Mohd Zonis took up the gauntlet as he stormed his way to the men's junior sprint and keirin titles to take his tally to three following his win in the 1km time trial last Thursday.

Veteran Josiah Ng completed the memorable day by taking the men's sprint gold medal for the first time in his career. He then went on to successfully defend the keirin title as well to become only the second Malaysian to do so after Azizulhasni Awang.

Fatehah delivered on her promise not to be intimidated by Chinese sprinter Shi Jingjing in their showdown for the coveted women's sprint title.

Fatehah lost the first heat in the final but bounced back to beat her Chinese rival to force a third heat.

The Chinese appeared to have won the deciding heat, but Fatehah's dismay turned to joy as her rival was relegated to a silver for a technical infringement.

It was a timely birthday present for Fatehah, who turns 23 today.

But Fatehah, who bagged the bronze in the 500m time trial on Sunday, failed to defend her keirin title. She settled for silver behind London Olympic bronze medallist Lee Wai Sze of Hong Kong.

"I am so happy. I came here with no expectations as this was my first competition since the London Olympics. I have to thank my coach (John Beasley) and the support team for their encouragement and making this possible," said Fatehah, who was the first Malaysian woman cyclist to qualify for the Olympics last August.

India proved to be a happy hunting ground for 33-year-old Josiah as he romped his way to his first sprint success at the Asian level, beating Iran's Hassanali Varposhti in two heats.

Josiah, who won the keirin gold at the same venue in the Commonwealth Games three years ago, then played his tactics well to get the better of Iranians Mahmood Parash and Mohd Parash, Jun Won-gu of South Korea, Xu Chao of China and Yuta Wakimoto of Japan in the keirin final.

"I was not sure what to expect here as my form dipped after the World Championships in Belarus last month due to all the travelling.

"But I've rested a lot since I've arrived here and my form came back nicely in time," said Josiah, who was the only Malaysian hope for keirin after Azizul failed to make it to the top-six final.

Malaysia have collected seven gold medals so far from the track with the road events scheduled to start tomorrow.

Road to world title full of pitfalls for Chong Wei

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 04:30 PM PDT

BIRMINGHAM: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei's job to become Malaysia's first world champion at the World Championships in August has just become harder and tougher.

On Sunday, energetic Chen Long of China destroyed Chong Wei's hopes of a third All-England title with his sizzling attacking game to win 21-17, 21-18 in an intense men's singles final at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.

With his excellent court coverage, deadly smashes and tight netplay en route to winning his first All-England crown, the 24-year-old Chen Long proved that he is now as dangerous as his senior Lin Dan, the two-time Olympic champion.

And there are also others that can pose a threat to Chong Wei.

The 25-year-old Jan O Jorgensen – another striking and solid attacking player from Denmark – reached the All-England semi-finals to prove that he is shaping up well to assume the place vacated by retired Peter-Gade Christensen.

Qualifier Tanongsak Saen­somboonsuk of Thailand also showed promise while Hong Kong's Wong King Ki and India's P. Kashyap are also players to look out for.

National singles coach Tey Seu Bock admitted that Chong Wei's road to the world title is full of pitfalls.

"We knew that it would not be easy for Chong Wei even without Lin Dan around at the All-England. Chen Long proved to us how serious he was in wanting to beat Chong Wei," said Seu Bock.

"There are other Chinese youngsters like Du Pengyu that we must not disregard although he lost early here. Other youngsters are also catching up.

"There is some homework for Chong Wei to do after this. We will do some video analyses on Chen Long and Jorgensen's matches. To me, both of them played exceptionally well in this All-England.

"Chong Wei's next tournament is the Australian Open (April 2-7). He has to play because of sponsorship obligation. He is not playing the Axiata Cup. His wife is expecting and may deliver at the end of April or early May and he may skip the India Open (April 23-28). It all depends. Being a father will give him another new responsibility. But I believe he knows how to handle it."

Chong Wei has vowed to be a stronger player after the All-England defeat.

"I will not let this defeat demoralise me. I am down but not out. All players are after my head but I will be ready for them," said Chong Wei.

On Malaysia's second echelon players like Liew Daren, Chong Wei Feng and Mohd Arif Abdul Latif who failed to clear their early round matches, Chong Wei came to their defence.

"Daren played well although he lost to Chen Jin of China. He still has to tighten up his game. I hope all our players will continue to push hard during training and stay free of injuries," he said.

Daren, Wei Feng and Arif will get a chance to make up for the disappointments by doing well in the Swiss Open, which begins tomorrow in Basel.


Men's singles: Chen Long (Chn) bt Lee Chong Wei (Mas) 21-17, 21-18. Men's doubles: Liu Xiaolong-Qiu Zihan (Chn) bt Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa (Jpn) 21-11, 21-9.

Women's singles: Tine Baun (Den) bt Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) 21-14, 16-21, 21-10.

Women's doubles: Wang Xiaoli-Yu Yang (Chn) bt Cheng Shu-Zhao Yunlei (Chn) 21-18, 21-10.

Mixed doubles: Tontowi Ahmad-Lilyana Natsir (Ina) bt Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei (Chn) 21-13, 21-17.


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Philippines’ AirAsia buys into Asiawide Airways

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 06:48 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Philippines' AirAsia Inc (PAA) has forged a share-swap deal with Filipino businessman Alfredo Yao, a major shareholder of Zest Airways Inc and Asiawide Airways Inc, to tap each other's domestic and international network strength.

In the strategic alliance agreement, PAA intends to invest in the Zest Air Group by acquiring a 49% stake in Zest Airways and 100% of Asiawide Airways, and, in turn, Yao will subscribe to shares in PAA. The deal is still subject to various regulatory approvals. To further strengthen this partnership, the shareholders of PAA will infuse funds to augment working capital.

PAA CEO Marianne Hontiveros said the strategic alliance between the two local carriers had brought pride and joy to PAA.

"I am especially delighted to have Yao as a partner, as he shares a common vision to provide passengers with the best value fare possible which enables them to fly to various destinations."

"This proposed investment in the Zest Group will complement the strategies for the future growth of PAA, which currently operates out of Clark," she said in a statement filed with the local exchange yesterday.

Hontiveros added that this would allow both airlines to leverage on their respective strengths, which in the case of Zest Air, includes its operations out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which constitutes a majority of the air traffic in the Philippines, and a strong domestic network which feeds into its current international routes.

The statement further explained that the investment of PAA in Zest Air also aligned with AirAsia Group's business strategy.

The AirAsia Group consists of existing operations in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines and soon India, altogether making it the largest Asian low-cost carrier, with a combined fleet of 120 aircraft, plus over 350 more on order, and operating over 158 routes spread across 18 countries, of which 56 are unique.

AirAsia sees enormous growth potential in the Philippines, especially with a population of over 100 million people across an archipelago of just over 7,000 islands, a landscape conducive for air transportation.

Yao said the strategic alliance provided a great opportunity to realise both carriers' common vision to widen the choice of low-cost travel within the Philippines and the region.

"The goal in Zest Air is driven by my passion to capitalise on the tourism potential and, hence, our investment to quickly increase our fleet and expand Zest's market share," he said.

PAA chairman Antonio "Tonyboy" Cojuangco, meanwhile, was truly excited about the alliance, as it would take both companies to greater heights.

"The Philippines aviation market has tremendous upside potential. Bringing these two carriers together would definitely realise this potential," said Cojuangco.

AirAsia group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, when contacted, told StarBiz that he was very happy with the Zest Air deal. "It gives us the scale," he said.

An aviation analyst told StarBiz that this Philippines deal should work well for PAA to turn around to profitability, as it would secure some slots from the airport in Manila city as Clark is about two hours from the city.

"With this deal, the PAA should break even by next year," he said.

Besides the Philippines, RHB Research which has placed a "buy" call on the AirAsia counter in its sector report said AirAsia had received approval from India's Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) on its venture into India.

"This will see AirAsia holding a 49% stake as a foreign investor, with its local Indian partner Tata Sons having a 30% stake with the remaining 21% to be owned by Arun Bhatia of Telestra Tradeplace," said the report.

The initial investment is about US$14.5mil (RM45.12mil), which is slightly more than the initial paid-up capital investment that AirAsia had put in for its earlier ventures in Japan.

Overall, RHB Research said this year would see new challenges, with Malindo's entry set to take a hit on airline yields.

"With Malindo set to commence operations on March 22, we see this could ultimately hurt both AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines (MAS), for which routes to both Kota Kinabalu and Kuching account for 15% and 6% of their available seat km respectively.

"As Malindo will be competing in the local aviation landscape by offering full services at low-cost pricing, this reminds us of Firefly's debut, which turned out to be loss-making despite churning high loads.

"With Malindo operating at a high cost base, its low-fare offering is unlikely to be sustainable over the longer term," said the report.

AirAsia remained unchanged at RM2.82 at the close yesterday.


January exports up 3.5%

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 06:43 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Higher shipments of electrical and electronic (E&E) as well as refined petroleum products boosted Malaysia's exports in January, according to the Statistics Department.

According to data released by the department, exports rose 3.5% year-on-year in January to RM56.99bil while imports surged 16% to RM53.72bil on an increase in capital and intermediate goods imports.

Trade data came in above market consensus, with economists expecting a 1.6% median growth for exports and 2.6% median rise for imports. The manufacturing sector's sales value rose 7.4% while December's sales value was revised upwards to 7.5% from 6%.

The data showed that electronic integrated circuits, chemicals and chemical products primarily pure xylene, parts and accessories of motor vehicles as well as optical and scientific equipment led shipments in the manufacturing sector.

Exports of refined petroleum products jumped 35.4% with mining goods increasing 4.9% to RM13.81bil. However, agricultural goods declined 16.4% to RM5.66bil largely due to lower palm oil and crude rubber exports.

Singapore-based Citigroup Inc economist Kit Wei Zheng said in a report that the critical E&E industries were now showing sequential expansion in both industrial production and exports.

"With semiconductor sales running ahead of production, manufacturers may have to increase production at some stage to rebuild inventories," he noted.

Kit said the surge in intermediate good imports also suggests that export-oriented manufacturers may be preparing to increase production in coming months while the surge in capital goods imports continues to indicate a rebalancing in domestic demand away from consumption towards investments.

A separate release by the Statistics Department showed that the industrial production index (IPI) increased 4.6% in January year-on-year, below the median expectations of economists for a 5.6% growth but above the revised 3.5% rise of December.

The IPI, which measures factory output, saw gains in all its sub-indices, with electricity jumping 9.8%, manufacturing gaining 4.9% and mining up 2.4%.

Meanwhile, Alliance Research chief economist Manokaran Mottain said although the better-than-expected performance of exports came in as a much-needed relief, the question remains on whether this would be a sustainable trend especially in the short-term.

"A major worry remains easing demand for commodities, including crude palm oil and rubber.

"As we have anticipated earlier, demand from EU the fourth largest exporting destination continued to remain weak (-5.7% in January)," he said.

Manokaran expects manufacturing activity and therefore the IPI to remain volatile as global purchasing managers indices slowed to 50.8 in February from 51.5 the previous month due to slower expansion in China and the EU although there was continued improvement in the United States.


Is your employer talent focused and proud in making you successful?

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 06:38 PM PDT

THERE are numerous studies carried out across a variety of industries that have indicated that there is one common element shared by all successful organisations today, which is placing a high value on developing a talent pipeline.

All visionary organisations know that as the market becomes more competitive, the prize will go to the organisation that is nimble to evolve with the times and able to consistently provide above the standards service and delivery. The solution obviously is if organisations are able to attract and retain skilful and experienced talent.

So, there should be no doubt talent is a critical aspect of business and is no stranger in boardroom discussions.

And the most exciting fact for all employees is that we can look forward to knowing that every driven organisation focused on growth has clarity in the manner it designs and executes retention and development initiatives.

The key question is what we as employees can expect to see as validation that the organisation we have invested our efforts in, does have the interest of its people at heart.

So as employees, what you should look out for as indications of a visionary organisation by its business priorities that respect the power of talented people:

Professional hiring process


You should get a sense of appreciation from the point you receive a call from the representative of the organisation all through the sessions of the interview. The interviewers should be courteous, responsive and helpful. At all times they should demonstrate a respectful disposition throughout your engagement with them.

Clarity on the role and expectations:

You are given descriptive information on the role and the expectations, with the opportunity to discuss the concerns you may have as well pose questions that you find relevant. Throughout this session, you feel comfortable with the interviewer and your questions are responded.

Relevant information on the organisation:

You are furnished with more insight into the organisation, information that is not available on the website, pertaining to recognition rewards, development offerings and opportunities within the organisation. You should be able to gauge the amount of emphasis the organisation places on people initiatives during this discussion.

Conducive work environment

The office environment should observe safety standards and be a comfortable work-space fully furnished with office equipment. The more facilities there are in the office designed for employees, the higher the chances of the organisation focused on employee engagement.

Organisational values

You may be thinking that it is difficult to identify organisation value as it's not tangible, however values are manifested through a few factors:

Leaders that represent the organisation, the people selected demonstrate the character of the organisation by their decisions and choices.

Employees hired within the organisation: good organisations hire and nurture individuals that are aligned to their character and values.

Customers that the organisation chooses to work with also displays respectful values that align with the organisation.

Integrated on-boarding and development programmes

Talent-focused organisations pride themselves in making people successful. As the first few weeks of employment are usually a critical time to lay the groundwork for long-term employee engagement, commitment and success, these organisations would implement a thorough new employee training session followed by a well-executed orientation programme.

Following the on-boarding are continuous development programmes, designed to upskill employees and ensure that they continue learning and developing. Some organisations invest heftily in programmes that are extensively beneficial such as mentorship, exchange exposure and coaching.

Culture of appreciation

Look out for engagement initiatives related to recognition and rewards as it would be a part of the organisation DNA. Following suit would be the culture of celebration, which encourages teams in the organisation to appreciate the efforts and contributions of their team-mates. There would be signs of celebrating either big or small wins at every opportunity.

Visible growth opportunities

You will find obvious intent to grow individuals, open conversations with regards to career aspirations and transparent conversations on career opportunities. There would be reviews on various areas that are positive and negative, but most importantly there would be visible career opportunities and interest in growing you as an employee of the organisation.

Engaging human resource team

Organisations that believe in talent will be sure to enlist members within HR to execute strategies responsible to "hire for fit, train for skill, develop for retention." The HR team would prove to be valuable advisors to the senior management on relevant proactive initiatives to engage employees while serve as enforcers to ensure that the leaders implement the organisation's people initiatives accordingly.

Business leaders that CARE

The undeniable fact is that a leader may have the greatest impact on nurturing talent and unleashing the full potential of their employees. It is also stated many a times that at the end of the day, people leave their leaders, not the organisations.

If that be true, then employees should pay attention to some of the attributes that exemplify leaders who are part of a people organisation:

Effective management style that encourages an open two-way communication and feedback.

Availability to discuss issues and offers suggestive options to resolve employee concerns.

Vested as an influencer to ensure that employee career aspirations are understood and worked towards.

Readily participates with team members on key tasks to accomplish results as a team.

Works with teams to identify real issues, conflicts or problems and offers support to remove the barriers.

Able to empathise with employees during challenging times.

As employees, we spend a considerable amount of hours at work, and it is expected that we find solace in working for organisations that encourage and nurture the people spirit.

Employees are deserving of a good place to work; however, we owe it to ourselves to constantly pay attention to the underlying behaviours within the organisation that help us decide if we are a part of an organisation that believes in continuously finding the best people and developing them.

Never fail to ask provoking questions to facilitate your decisions in selecting the type of organisation that embodies all the values to attract and retain high-performing employees. If it is true that all organisations are on board with the idea of placing talent management and development as a priority in their business, then we can take comfort in knowing that as employees we have much to look forward to.

  • Melissa Norman advises employees to take interest in the signs within your organisation which highlight its top priorities.


    The Star Online: Metro: Central

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    The Star Online: Metro: Central

    Recognised for their efforts

    Posted: 12 Mar 2013 04:50 AM PDT

    Tuesday March 12, 2013

    Thirty-three SK Methodist (ACS) pupils who scored 4As and above for their Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination in 2012 each received a plaque, certificate and a dictionary.

    The students are now in Form One at the neighbouring SM Methodist (ACS) in Jalan Raya Barat, Klang. Principal Komalavalli Ambikadevi Selvadurai (back row, fourth from left) said she hoped the recognition would encourage the students to strive towards academic excellence. Port Klang Authority chairman Datuk Teh Kim Poo (back row, centre), who attended the event, advised other students to be hardworking to achieve good results.

    Growing number of rats getting traders and residents worried

    Posted: 12 Mar 2013 04:35 AM PDT

    IF YOU eat at a hawker stall by the roadside, chances are you would be accompanied by a rodent or three.

    That is the risk we take when we venture out to the streets to enjoy some local delicacies but do you know that it could be dangerous to the health?

    A survey carried out by Yayasan Wanita Islam (Yati) from August last year to February this year showed that out of 150 hawkers surveyed in the Klang Valley, 95% of them agreed that there was an increase in rodent population.

    Yati president Najwa Abd Aziz said the rats had even been seen running around during the day and many stall owners had complained about the damage done by the rodents to their goods.

    "The influx of rats is at a worrying level, especially with the various diseases associated with the pest. Leptospirosis, which is transmitted by rat urine, is a deadly disease," she said.

    Najwa noted that Kampung Baru seems to have the largest rat population and this could be linked to the many food stalls in the area.

    "Diners should be careful where they eat. Check the premises for cleanliness before sitting down," she said.

    Najwa added that the public should be wary when visiting wet markets where food was in abundance and cleanliness had been taken for granted as these could be rat-breeding grounds.

    "Rat urine is odourless and colourless so it is hard to detect. All raw food must be washed thoroughly before being consumed," she said.

    Apart from dining spots in the Klang Valley, recreational areas such as Hulu Langat had also been identified as having a large number of rats.

    "This is because visitors leave their rubbish behind when they are done with their picnics. This attracts more rats to the area, which can serve as their breeding grounds," she said.

    Najwa also urged the Government and local authorities to issue guidelines on hygiene to reduce the rat population in the city.

    With the growing rodent population, the increase in rat-related diseases are inevitable.

    In the past decade, an increasing number of reported cases and outbreaks of leptospirosis have resulted in significant numbers of deaths.

    The Health Ministry reported 2,268 cases in 2011 compared to 1,976 cases in 2010. Mortalities were also on a steady rise from 22 deaths in 2006 to 69 deaths in 2010, though the number of cases dropped to 55 in 2011.

    Leptospirosis was gazetted as a notifiable disease on Dec 9, 2010, under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.

    Sungai Buloh Hospital infectious disease unit head Datuk Dr Christopher Lee said recreational areas near water sources were highly likely to attract rodents.

    "When visitors leave their rubbish behind, it will attract rats. These rats will excrete a large number of leptospire in their urine, thus contaminating nearby bodies of water and even the soil," he said.

    Dr Lee added that although there was a possibility of getting infected through ingesting contaminated food or beverages, most patients were usually infected through skin contact.

    Because of that, he said leptospirosis outbreaks occur especially during floods.

    "When floods happen, rats will drown, thus releasing urine into the water," he said.

    He advised parents to keep an eye on their children during the rainy season.

    Dr Lee also advised rescue workers and volunteers to take extra precautions by wearing rubber boots to keep the water from touching their skin as it is one of the ways the bacteria could spread.

    Although the disease commonly originates from water sources, especially in recreational areas, dirty restaurants are also one of the contributing factors.

    "Areas such as hawker stalls and night markets should be cleaned thoroughly after closing to avoid rats clamouring for the rubbish left behind," said Dr Lee.

    He said leptospirosis had a broad range of clinical manifestations, ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to severe haemorrhagic manifestations and multi-organ failures.

    "Symptoms such as fever, cough and body ache will go away after three days. However, they should go for a check-up if they do not recover within three days," said Dr Lee.

    He explained that in some severe cases, patients would be experiencing jaundice as well as kidney and liver failure, which would require intensive care and dialysis treatment.

    "When they are admitted, we will look into their occupational history and recent recreational activities for the past one or two weeks," he said.

    Dr Lee said although severe cases were rare in the country, the public should not take the matter lightly.

    Meanwhile, various local authorities in the Klang Valley have been embarking on all-out campaigns to weed out the rodents.

    In Ampang, the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) organises a rat-catching programme every weekend with residents' associations in its jurisdiction.

    MPAJ public relations officer Norhayati Ahmad said a token of RM2 would be given for every rat caught by residents in selected areas.

    "MPAJ will provide chemicals or bleach to dispose of the rats," she said.

    Norhayati added that MPAJ carried out 15 operations in 2012, catching 2,510 rats.

    Besides that, MPAJ also organised the Clean Zone programme in Pandan Indah, Bandar Baru Ampang and Taman Melawati.

    "This is a co-operative effort to keep the places clean. The public should take care of the cleanliness of their environment by throwing rubbish in the designated places and use close-lidded rubbish bins," Norhayati concluded.


    The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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    Letters from inner space

    Posted: 11 Mar 2013 12:18 AM PDT

    Malaysia's own avant garde and experimental music outfit, Space Gambus Experiment, has an exciting new album entitled First Steps Into Inner Space. RIZAL JOHAN unearths Rumi-influenced poetry coalesced with abstract and impressionistic soundscapes and Krautrock after speaking to its founder and creator Kamal Sabran.

    Where does one go after making a self-titled debut which captures tantalising melodies from the gambus (lute) and the drones of the planet Jupiter among other musical things? Kamal, artist, poet, musician, filmmaker and sound art exponent, had already made a critically devastating impact in the art and music scene with the debut of Space Gambus Experiment (SGE) in 2009. The album featured cosmic radio waves he had recorded when he was the artist-in-residence for the National Space Agency in 2005.

    As a sound artist, Kamal had achieved his dream of recording sounds that did not eminate from this Earth. He then pursued his quest further by making music using said sounds and the sound of the stringed lute which he achieved through the help of his main collborator and gambus player Zulkifli Ramli.

    There hasn't been an album to match the artistic achievements in Malaysia before or since the release of SGE.

    If Kamal had looked to the stars for inspiration then, he now looked to himself for his next musical passage.

    "The first album was about outer space but this time, it's inner space ... it's the journey of the soul," said Kamal in a telephone interview from Ipoh, Perak.

    And by looking at himself, he realised one thing early on about his main musical influence.

    "My influence in music is rock. Which is why this album is heavy, at least, it's heavier compared to the first album. One of the main differences with this album is that I'm playing the gambus instead of Zulkifli. He has a different style of playing the gambus, which is more Malay-traditional, whereas the way I approach it, is like playing a guitar."

    Kamal explained that Zulkifli was unable to collaborate with him this time around because of commitments with his own band, Dewangga Sakti.

    Since its formation, SGE has always been a collaborative effort between Kamal and other like-minded artists. Through social media, Kamal reached out to artists, sound-artists and experimental musicians locally and the world over; all of whom share a similar objective of pushing the boundaries of music and art.

    And First Steps Into Inner Space is no different. Here are the names of the collaborators:

    Eric Hausmann (USA), Katsuyuki Hattori (Japan), Fahmie Freakmie (Malaysia), Lorenzo Pancini (Italy,) Pilar Rocha (Brazil), Cathy Fern Lewis (Canada), Irawan Prayoga (Indonesia), Akane Kameyama (Japan), Adam James Davis (UK) and Putera Oud (Malaysia).

    "I would write about 40% of a song and then I would send the track to one of the collaborators. I worked with 10 people but I was selective in the way I worked because I knew each of their individual strengths. A particular track would go to a particular person depending on what I felt they could add to the song be it vocals, guitar or bass. After I got it back from then, I would work on the track further," said Kamal.

    Kamal admits that this process "took a long time" but he didn't spend all that time - about three years - working on just the 11 tracks featured on the new album.

    "I had written over 100 songs but I selected the best 11 songs for this album," said the 35-year-old.

    The methodology of sound

    Kamal described the songwriting process he had undertaken for First Steps Into Inner Space. It is complex in the sense that he wanted to make the intangible, tangible with the germ of the idea being the song's title.

    "I was influenced by (Persian poet) Rumi's poetry for the album title and title tracks. That was how I worked on this album. I would think of a title and then I would start writing the music," said Kamal who recorded, mixed and mastered the album at his home studio, Ipoh Experimental Art School Malaysia and American collaborator Hausmann's studio, Spilling Audio in Portland, Oregon.

    Thus was born such philosophical and mystical titles as Earth is not my home I'm just passing by, Living is easy with eyes closed, What you Seek is Seeking you and The Wound is the Place where the light enters you.

    Once he had a title, Kamal would pick up the gambus and write a melody to suit it and that would form the base of the track.

    "Everything starts with the frequency of the gambus. I needed to be careful with it because I didn't want the sound of the gambus to get lost in the mix. The gambus has a limited frequency to it," he explained.

    After that, Kamal would take drum samples for the beat, live guitar recordings, synthesizers, synthesized vocals and even sample hisses, pops and crackles of old tape and vinyl recordings to add what he calls "layers and textures" to his music.

    "I'm exploring philosophy and Islamic paintings with this album. It is a more personal exploration. The cover art for the album is of a Mughal Emperor and this type of art is known as a miniature painting. It's interesting because this art form has been around for centuries and there are similarities between this and Western art movements like abstract and impressionist.

    "The Islamic paintings were usually two-dimensional and flat; the colours are flat; there's no form, no shadows, and there is a lot of repetition. For example, all the trees will have one shape and they all look alike in the painting."

    Kamal had taken the parallels from art and supplanted it into music making.

    "With SGE, there is no structure like verse, chorus, verse or we need an intro here or a bridge there. I had taken a minimalist approach to writing the songs. An entire song may just consist of two chords but it's the colour of the instrumentations that make it whole; that gives it its own shape, form and structure.

    "And working with other people made it improvisational as well because what I originally sent them would change once I got it back and it would continue to change until I was happy with it."

    While there are no lyrics in the album, Kamal would sing the title over the song but he had a few problems with it initially.

    "I didn't like the sound of my voice. I wasn't happy about that. It wasn't until I fed my voice into vocoder (a system used to reproduce human speech) that I discovered another aspect of synthesized sound.

    "This album is heavily influenced by electronic music. And the sound I was referencing in particular was Kraftwerk (the German band credited for pioneering electronic music in the 1970s) and other early electronic music genres like Krautrock."

    Wikipedia describes Krautrock as "an umbrella term for the rock and electronic music influenced experimental music that originated in Germany in the late 1960s."

    So what are the first steps into inner space? Well, the first step is listening.

    You can download Space Gambus Experiment's First Steps Into Inner Space here:




    Watch the official music video:

    For more information, visit

    Shine on

    Posted: 11 Mar 2013 12:00 AM PDT

    Read the review of Space Gambus Experimement's First Steps Into Inner Space.

    While the idea of blending electromagnetic reverberations from the planet Jupiter with sounds of the gambus and setting it all against an art rock canvas was impressive to say the least, if I'm being honest, the first Space Gambus Experiment album did very little for me. Four years on though and sophomore record "First Steps into Inner Space" presents an entirely different proposition.

    It pulses with raw emotion and that, I believe, is simply down to the fact that Kamal Sabran, the man behind SGE is no longer dealing in ideas but proper songs; some optimistic and determined, some bloody, beaten and defeated, but all (12 in total if you count bonus cut "When My Sorrow Was Born") fully-formed.

    We're still not presented with verse-chorus-verse configurations or anything quite so commonplace (it's doubtful if Kamal will ever go down that route), but there is structure, and that really is what is most satisfying about "First Steps …" as a whole and the individual tracks that tip the hat to everyone/thing from Rumi, The Beatles, "Tubular Bells" and Hawkwind to Plato, Silver Apples, "Die Mensch-Maschine" and Spiritualized.

    It's a record that serves up psychedelic space rock and harrowing avant-garde noise as well as beautiful melodies shrouded in electronic buzzes, bleeps (wait, was that an engaged tone in "Dalam Gelap Kenal Cahaya"?) and whirs. It's music from another dimension with its feet firmly planted in this one.

    Most of all, "First Steps …" is a dazzling piece of work.

    Take a bow, Kamal Sabran, you crazy diamond.

    Bieber wraps up London tour without hitches after rough week

    Posted: 10 Mar 2013 09:00 PM PDT

    LONDON (Reuters) - Pop star Justin Bieber wrapped up his final London show without hitches on Friday after a week riddled with paparazzi run-ins and a trip to the hospital.

    Bieber, 19, sang and danced his way through his fourth night at London's O2 Arena on the European leg of his Believe world tour, back to his normal self after collapsing on stage from shortness of breath on Thursday.

    The Canadian-born singer was treated by doctors backstage and given oxygen on the third night of his London shows. He returned to the stage after a 20-minute break and completed his set but was later taken to hospital as a precaution, the singer's representatives told Reuters.

    The singer also had an altercation with a UK photographer on Friday, caught on camera by Reuters, which showed Bieber get out of a van, try to move towards the unnamed photographer and threaten him using several swear words.

    He was reacting to the man's foul-mouthed criticism of him and his security team after the singer appeared to have made contact with the photographer as they moved towards the vehicle.

    The bouncers held Bieber back, but the incident is likely to create more negative headlines for one of the world's biggest pop stars.


    Since being discovered on YouTube in 2008, Bieber has built a huge following of mainly teenage girls attracted to his clean-cut image, slick videos and catchy pop songs.

    But the intense media spotlight that follows him around the world has clearly unnerved the Boyfriend singer.

    Bieber has had several run-ins with paparazzi in recent years and took to Twitter this week to criticise the media for what he called fabricated stories about him during his stay in London, where he is performing his sold-out tour.

    After the latest altercation, he returned to the micro-blogging site, where he has more than 35 million followers.

    "Ahhhhh! Rough morning. Trying to feel better for this show tonight but let the paps get the best of me..." he wrote.

    "Sometimes when people r shoving cameras in your face all day and yelling the worst thing possible at u ... well I'm human. Rough week."

    'POP BRAT'

    Thursday's onstage collapse was not the first for Bieber.

    He suffered a concussion during a concert in Paris last June after falling into a glass wall.

    Bieber's illness came just days after he angered many fans by appearing for his first night at the O2 nearly two hours later than the advertised time.

    The singer blamed technical issues for the delay, and said he was only 40 minutes behind schedule, but the media jumped on the story and the popular Sun tabloid referred to him in a March 7 story as "Pop brat Justin."

    The tabloid attention has not been limited to the late show.

    Newspapers described as "bizarre" his decision to wear a gas mask on a night out.

    They also reported that Bieber, who celebrated his 19th birthday in London last week, tried to take 14-year-old Jaden Smith, son of actor Will Smith, to a club, where Smith was turned away, along with Bieber and his entourage.

    Bieber took to Twitter and Instagram to vehemently deny the reports he tried to take the underage Smith to a club, saying instead he was forced to leave the venue when the club's security guards behaved aggressively towards his fans who were lined up outside.


    The Star Online: Nation

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    Lahad Datu: Medical aid for villagers

    Posted: 11 Mar 2013 04:17 PM PDT

    LAHAD DATU: A mobile medical team is assisting about 2,000 people from several villages who were displaced by ongoing security operations against Sulu gunmen near Tanjung Labian.

    The team is also working to maintain hygiene conditions at the three relief centres here where the villagers are being sheltered.

    The centres were opened on March 8.

    Some of the villagers have complained about a lack of clean water and that many of them are falling sick as a result.

    Sabah Health Department director Dr Christina Rundi said: "So far, there is no sign of any disease outbreak but we are keeping close tabs on the situation."

    The villagers have been given immunisation and vaccination shots.

    They are from Kampung Tanduo, Kampung Tanjung Batu, Kampung Tanjung Labian and Kampung Lok Buani.

    The Embara Budi community hall is sheltering 650 people and the one in Fajar Bakti has 1,300, while 80 are at the Cenderakasih hall.

    Dr Rundi said the Felda Sahabat clinic here is also helping with the medical and health needs of the displaced villagers, as well as those of the security forces personnel.

    "If there is a need, we will consider adding staff or medical officers," she said.

    Dispute in college over sacking of top officers

    Posted: 11 Mar 2013 04:16 PM PDT

    A DISPUTE is brewing in New Era College over the termination of service of two top management officers.

    The non-profit tertiary education institution is managed by Dong Jiao Zong and supported by the Chinese community.

    The chairman of the United Chinese School Teachers Association also known as Jiao Zong has planned to resign as head of the college committee following the termination of the two employees.

    Sin Chew Daily reported that Ong Chiow Chuan was upset with the board of directors of Dong Jiao Zong Education Centre Sdn Bhd for supporting the decision of college principal Dr Mok Soon Chong to terminate the service of the officers.

    Dr Mok had allegedly bypassed the college committee and had gone straight to the board members to seek their support to end the employment of college vice-principal Dr Chung Yi and international relations office chief Cheong Yoke Wai.

    Jiao Zong and the equally powerful United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia, also known as Dong Zong, have traditionally worked under the umbrella body of Dong Jiao Zong.

    The daily said the relationship between the two organisations had turned sour lately due to several incidents.

    The daily also reported that Dr Mok would brief the college staff tomorrow.

    > Chinese businessman and philanthropist Chen Guangbiao gave US$100 (RM307) to an elderly woman in Singapore for three packets of tissue paper during his visit to the republic, China Press reported.

    The 68-year-old woman, who could not recognise the currency notes, was confused but later thanked Chen after some people explained it to her.

    Chen also gave US$100 each to two hawker centre workers who cleaned his table.

    Chen gave S$400 (RM984) to an 11-year-old blind girl whom he bumped into.

    Upon seeing this, five elderly people came to him and also asked for money. Chen gave each of them S$200 (about RM492).

    "If an elderly person puts away his pride and asks for money, he sure needs the money," he said.

    Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with this > sign, it denotes a separate news item.

    Support BN, rep urges Indian community

    Posted: 11 Mar 2013 04:15 PM PDT

    BAGAN PINANG state assemblyman Tan Sri Isa Samad urged the Indian community to support Barisan Nasional, reported Makkal Osai.

    He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had given various benefits to the community so that they would not be left behind.

    Isa said Barisan would always ensure all races were treated fairly and given equal opportunities.

    Isa urged the people to be wary of the Opposition as it was good at making election pledges but had no intention of fulfilling them.

    He said Indians would have a brighter future if Barisan was returned to power in Negri Sembilan.

    > In a gruesome incident, a man beheaded his sister for wishing to marry a man 35 years her senior, reported Tamil Nesan.

    Holding the head of his sister, the man surrendered at a police station and confessed to the crime.

    Police said Mahrun, 20, daughter of Jabbar and resident of Tajpur Gobrah in Lucknow, North India, was having an affair with the 55-year-old man.

    The man had come with a marriage proposal on Friday.

    After he had left, Mahrun's family members got into a heated argument and in a fit of rage, her elder brother Nankey attacked her with an axe and beheaded her. Police are investigating the case.

    Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with this > sign, it denotes a separate news item.


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