Selasa, 12 Mac 2013

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Sharapova reaches quarter-finals at Indian Wells

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 05:14 PM PDT

INDIAN WELLS, California: French Open champion Maria Sharapova booked her quarter-final berth at the Indian Wells ATP Masters and WTA tournament on Tuesday with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino.

Sharapova, ranked third in the world and seeded second here behind defending champion Victoria Azarenka, will face sixth-seeded Italian Sara Errani in a rematch of their French Open final last year.

Sharapova defeated Errani 6-3, 6-2 in the title match at Roland Garros to complete a career Grand Slam. She also beat Errani last October in first-round group play at the season-ending WTA Championships.

Errani, who won the women's clay-court title in Acapulco in the build-up to Indian Wells, advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over ninth-seeded Marion Bartoli of France. - AFP

Under-pressure Wei Feng wiser after All-England flop

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 06:45 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: National elite shuttler Chong Wei Feng admitted that the pressure of trying to follow in the footsteps of team-mate and world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei is slowly getting to him.

But Wei Feng, who had a rather disappointing outing at the All-England in Birmingham last week, is not planning to succumb to that pressure.

The world No. 16 did not play up to expectations in Birmingham as he went down tamely to Denmark's Jan O Jorgensen in the opening round.

He was also a first round casualty in the Malaysian Open in January and his quarter-final appearance in the Korean Open a week prior now seemed like a distant memory.

With several young players such as Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki, India's P. Kashyap, Taiwan's Chou Tien Chen and Thailand's Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk showing rapid improvement of late, Wei Feng and the likes of Liew Daren and Mohd Arif Abdul Latif certainly has to deliver.

And the soft-spoken Wei Feng has indicated that he has learned from his defeat at the All-England.

"I'm definitely feeling the pressure especially since I didn't play well at all," said Wei Feng.

"But playing under pressure works well for me because it makes me more focussed and I believe that I am mentally ready to deal with it."

The 26-year-old Kedahan also added that he is still working on the physical side of his game and it is showing improvement, despite the insipid defeat to Jorgensen.

"When it comes to the more physical players, I have a slight disadvantage. But I'm working to overcome that handicap and it's showing positive results," said Wei Feng.

"Right now the target for me is to do well in the Swiss Open (which started yesterday). I have a rather favourable draw and I just need to play my normal game in order to get the desired results."

Wei Feng is seeded ninth in Basel and takes on Taiwan's Wang Tzu Wei in the first round. He should have a fairly easy run to the third round where he will face his first real challenge, in the form of fifth seed Kashyap.

Besides Wei Feng, the other Malaysians in the fray are Daren, Arif, Misbun Ramdan Misbun, Zulfadli Zulkiffli and Tan Chun Seang.

Meanwhile, in yesterday's qualifying matches, the mixed combinations of Tan Wee Kiong-Vivian Hoo and Gan Teik Chai-Ng Hui Lin both cleared their first round matches.


(Malaysians only)
Qualifying (First Round)

Mixed doubles: Tan Wee Kiong-Vivian Hoo bt Marcus Ellis-Alyssa Lim (Eng) 10-21, 21-18, 21-16; Gan Teik Chai-Ng Hui Lin bt Bodin Issara-Peeraya Munkitamorn (Tha) 21-14, 21-18.

Malaysia hold world champions Australia despite poor display

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 07:00 PM PDT

IPOH: Hosts Malaysia turned in a poor display but still managed to hold world champions Australia to a 1-1 draw in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup yesterday.

And for the third time in as many matches, Malaysia finished stronger with their equaliser coming in the 69th minute of the match.

Australia and Malaysia continue to lead the standings and look a safe bet for a final showdown on Sunday.

Malaysia again kept faith with the same starting line-up that started the previous two matches.

The early exchanges were fairly even although the Australians had three penalty corners in the first 20 minutes but were thwarted by the solid Malaysian defence.

Malaysia had a penalty corner in the 24th minute which came to nought while Mohamed Marhan Jalil broke through in the 27th minute but failed to get the better of Australian goalkeeper George Bezeley.

But there was no denying the world champions in the 34th minute. A quick breakthrough left Trent Mitton with just Malaysia goalkeeper S. Kumar to beat and the former slammed the ball high into the net.

Australia dominated the second half winning a total of nine penalty corners but Kumar was equal to the task in goal.

Malaysia's attack looked jaded at times but they made no mistake with a last-minute penalty corner which saw Faizal Saari netting the equaliser.

Malaysia coach Paul Revington was happy with the result but felt they could have played much better.

"It is always good when you get a result and this was a fantastic one for the team. I don't think we played that well and there are still many areas where we can improve.

"But the results give us hope and I am sure the players have much to be proud of. We must look forward from here and try to learn as we move along," said Revington.

Earlier, defending champions New Zealand found their winning touch when they defeated South Korea 3-0.

The Kiwis had lost their opening matches, 4-3 to Pakistan and 3-2 to Malaysia, and were looking for a win to keep alive their hopes of making the final on Sunday.

The Kiwis took only four minutes to open accounts as a lurking Hugo Inglis was at hand at the far post to deflect Stephen Jenness' shot into goal.

They then doubled their advantage off their first penalty corner in the 12th minute through Cory Bennett whose low drag flick beat South Korean goalkeeper Kim Jae-hyeon.

Though Korea tried, they could not get a single shot on target throughout the first half and the Kiwis trooped off at half time with a two-goal advantage.

Seven minutes into the second half New Zealand scored their third through Andy Hayward who converted a penalty corner.

In another match, India came from a goal down to defeat Pakistan 3-1 for their first win in the tournament.

Pakistan took the lead in the fourth minute through a penalty corner rebound goal by Mohamed Waqas.

But India hit back in the very next minute when Rupinder Pal Singh sent in a pile driver of a flick into the Pakistan net.

Then Akashdeep Singh added the second in the ninth minute and India looked the more settled side after that.

India increased their lead in the 56th minute through Mandeep Singh and with Pakistan missing a number of sitters, the match was India's for the taking.


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Disney working on new 'Star Wars' animated series

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 10:07 PM PDT

Lucasfilm announced on the website that it is ending its animated TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars in order to launch a new one.

The program, to be shown on the Disney XD channel, will explore a time period that has never been broached by the saga on film or TV.

After five seasons, The Clone Wars is coming to an end even though there were plans for a sixth season. Lucasfilm wants to take a "new direction" through a series that will focus on completely new events. The studio said more details will be revealed over the next few months.

Since it was bought by Disney last October, Lucasfilm has been modernizing its legendary saga. J.J. Abrams will give it a new lease of life at the cinema when he directs the seventh episode, set for release in 2015.


Angry Birds make it to TV

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 09:46 PM PDT

HELSINKI (Reuters) - The makers of Angry Birds are launching a cartoon series this weekend, expanding further beyond its highly addictive games in a bid to expand entertainment and merchandising.

Rovio, the company behind the popular mobile app game Angry Birds, said the cartoons will feature adventures of birds that appear in its games.

Angry Birds Toons can be downloaded through on-demand services, and will also air on television channels such as FOX8 in Australia, ANTV in Indonesia, Cartoon Network in India, and MTV3 Juniori and MTV3 in Finland, it said.

Rovio has expanded into merchandising and licensing in the past few years and its colourful, round bird characters are sold as stuffed animals and appear on everything from T-shirts to soda cans.

It announced in December that it hired Hollywood executive David Maisel as executive producer of a 3D animated film planned for release in 2016.

New Mickey Mouse cartoons on Disney channel

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 09:43 PM PDT

He might be 85 years old but he's still a favourite with kids and adults (c'mon admit it, you're one of them). And come this summer Mickey Mouse will be on Disney Channel more often with the channel's plans to a series of short cartoon featuring the beloved mouse.

The 19 cartoons, each a couple minutes long, are being produced with 2D animation to pay homage to the artistry of Walt Disney and his animators in the 1920s and 1930s, Walt Disney Co said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mickey will appear in modern settings, such as riding a motorcycle through Paris. He also will visit New York, Beijing, Venice and other cities and encounter other Disney characters, including Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy.

The new cartoons will air on the Disney Channel, and the Watch Disney Channel mobile app starting 28 June, Disney said.

Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse in 1928. Mickey also appears in the computer-generated animated series Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the Disney Channel.



The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Syria's children shot at, tortured, raped - charity report

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 08:05 PM PDT

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A boy of 12 sees his best friend shot through the heart. Another of 15 is held in a cell with 150 other people, and taken out every day to be put in a giant wheel and burnt with cigarettes.

People run upon hearing a nearby plane bombing during a protest against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Katerji Tariq district in Aleppo February 22, 2013. REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman

People run upon hearing a nearby plane bombing during a protest against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Katerji Tariq district in Aleppo February 22, 2013. REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman

Syria's children are perhaps the greatest victims of their country's conflict, suffering "layers and layers of emotional trauma", Save the Children's chief executive told Reuters.

Syrian children have been shot at, tortured and raped during two years of unrest and civil war, the London-based international charity said in a report released on Wednesday.

Two million children, it said, face malnutrition, disease, early marriage and severe trauma, becoming innocent victims of a bloody conflict that has already claimed 70,000 lives.

"This is a war where women and children are the biggest casualty," chief executive Justin Forsyth told Reuters during a visit to Lebanon, where 340,000 Syrians have fled.

Forsyth said he met a Syrian refugee boy, 12, who saw his best friend killed outside a bakery. "His friend was shot through the heart. But initially, he thought he was joking because there was no blood. They didn't realise he had been killed until they took his shirt off," he said.

The Save the Children report cited new research carried out among refugee children by Bahcesehir University in Turkey which found that one in three reported having been punched, kicked or shot at.

It said two thirds of children surveyed said that they had been separated from members of their families due to the conflict and a third said they had experienced the death of a close friend or family member.

"All these children tell you these stories in a matter of fact way and then you realise that there are layers and layers of emotional trauma there," said Forsyth.

Syria's civil war started with peaceful protests against the dynastic rule of President Bashar al-Assad. His forces shot at protesters and arrested thousands and soon the revolt turned into a civil war. Rebels now control large swathes of Syria.

Millions have fled their homes for safer ground or neighbouring countries. Save the Children says 80,000 people are living in barns, parks and caves and children struggle to find enough to eat.

Both government forces and rebels have been accused of targeting civilians and committing war crimes. Refugees say that Assad's soldiers are directly targeting children.

Forsyth said he met one child who said he was in a prison cell with 150 people, including 50 children.

"He was taken out every day and put in a giant wheel and burnt with cigarettes. He was 15. The trauma that gives a child is devastating."

Save the Children says that some young boys are also being used by armed groups as porters, runners and human shields, bringing them close to the front line.


Rape is being used to deliberately punish people, said Forsyth, adding that it is underreported due to the sensitivity of the issue, especially among conservative communities.

"In most conflicts, over 50 percent of rapes are against children. And I am sure that is the case in this conflict too."

Fear of sexual violence is repeatedly cited to Save the Children as one of the main reasons for families fleeing their homes, according to the report.

It said that there are also reports of early marriage of young girls by families trying to reduce the numbers of mouths they have to feed, or hoping that a husband will be able to provide greater security from the threat of sexual violence.

Forsyth said that he met a Syrian family in Lebanon who told their 16-year-old daughter to marry an older man. "Her mother said she is beautiful and every time the (Syrian) soldiers came to the house she thought: 'They are going to rape her.'"

"Rape is being used deliberately to punish people," he said, adding that girls as young as 14 are being married off.

Save the Children works in neighbouring countries and within Syria but Damascus has restricted access to aid organisations, especially in opposition-held territory.

The charity called for unfettered and safe access to humanitarian agencies, including "access across the lines of the conflict", and for Damascus to ease bureaucratic restraints.

Despite pledges of $1.5 billion (1 billion pounds) by international donors for a response plan to help Syria's displaced, only 25 per cent has been funded, the United Nations says.

(Editing by Kevin Liffey/Mark Heinrich)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Venezuela to probe Chavez cancer poisoning accusation

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 06:56 PM PDT

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela will set up a formal inquiry into claims that deceased President Hugo Chavez's cancer was the result of poisoning by his enemies abroad, the government said.

Photos of the late President Hugo Chavez are hung out for sale outside of the Military Academy, where the funeral service of Chavez is being held, in Caracas, March 10, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

Photos of the late President Hugo Chavez are hung out for sale outside of the Military Academy, where the funeral service of Chavez is being held, in Caracas, March 10, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

Foes of the government view the accusation as a typical Chavez-style conspiracy theory intended to feed fears of "imperialist" threats to Venezuela's socialist system and distract people from daily problems.

Acting President Nicolas Maduro vowed to open an investigation into the claims, first raised by Chavez after he was diagnosed with the disease in 2011.

"We will seek the truth," Maduro told regional TV network Telesur. "We have the intuition that our commander Chavez was poisoned by dark forces that wanted him out of the way."

Foreign scientists will be invited to join a state committee to probe the accusation, he said.

Maduro, 50, is Chavez's handpicked successor and is running as the government's candidate in a snap presidential election on April 14 that was triggered by the president's death last week.

He is trying to keep voters' attention firmly focused on Chavez to benefit from the outpouring of grief among his millions of supporters. The opposition is centring its campaign on portraying Maduro, a former bus driver, as an incompetent who, they say, is exploiting Chavez's demise.

"Let's take the president (Chavez) away from the political debate, out of respect for his memory, his family, his supporters," opposition candidate Henrique Capriles' campaign chief Henri Falcon told reporters.

Polls from before Chavez's death gave Maduro a lead over Capriles of more than 10 percentage points. Capriles lost to Chavez by 11 percentage points in October.

Capriles has tried to jump-start his campaign with accusations that Maduro and other senior officials lied about the details of Chavez's illness, hiding the gravity of his condition from Venezuelans.

That sparked a torrent of attacks, with senior government officials using words like "Nazi" and "fascist" to describe Capriles, who has Jewish ancestors.

In a televised message, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas read a letter to the "sick opposition" from the late president's daughter, Maria Gabriela Chavez, who has at times been viewed as a possible future successor.

"Stop playing with the pain of a nation and a devastated family," she wrote. "It is unfair, inhuman, unacceptable that they now say we were lying about the date of his (death) ... Focus on politics, don't play dirty."

Capriles was quick to respond with a flurry of tweets.

"Never, in all these years, have I offended the president or his family. If one word has been taken thus by his family, I'm sorry," he wrote on Twitter.

"I don't offend families as they have mine. They have even called me a Nazi, when my great-grandparents were murdered in a Nazi concentration camp," he added, referring to the government.


In an increasingly acrimonious campaign, both sides on Tuesday accused each other of planning violence.

The opposition displayed photos circulating on the Internet showing an assault rifle and a pistol being held up to a TV screen that was broadcasting Capriles' face.

They also said there were indications of plans to attack Capriles when he was scheduled to register his candidacy on Monday. In the end, aides went instead.

Government spokesmen repeated accusations that opposition activists planned to disrupt Maduro's campaign.

Trying to discredit Capriles, they waved photos of a plush New York apartment they said belonged to him, and displayed copies of university documents that they said showed he never completed a law degree.

Capriles, a 40-year-old, business-friendly regional governor running for the opposition's Democratic Unity coalition, is trying to disassociate Maduro from Chavez in voters' minds.

"He's attacking Nicolas Maduro, saying Nicolas is not Chavez," senior Socialist Party official and Maduro's campaign chief Jorge Rodriguez said.

"Of course Nicolas isn't Chavez. But he is his faithful, responsible, revolutionary son. All these insults and vilification are going to be turned into votes for us," he said.

Tuesday was the last day of official mourning for Chavez, although ceremonies appear set to continue. His embalmed body was to be taken in procession to a military museum on Friday.

Millions have filed past Chavez's coffin to pay homage to a man who was adored by many of the poor for his humble roots and welfare policies, but was also hated by many people for his authoritarian style and bullying of opponents.

Though Maduro has spoken about combating crime and extending development programs in the slums, he has mostly used his frequent appearances on state TV to talk about Chavez.

The 58-year-old president was diagnosed with cancer in his pelvic region in June 2011 and underwent four surgeries before dying of what sources said was metastasis in the lungs.

Maduro said it was too early to specifically point a finger over Chavez's cancer, but noted that the United States had laboratories with experience in producing diseases.

"He had a cancer that broke all norms," Maduro told Telesur. "Everything seems to indicate that they (enemies) affected his health using the most advanced techniques."

Maduro has compared his suspicions over Chavez's death with allegations that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died in 2004 from poisoning by Israeli agents.

The case echoes Chavez's long campaign to convince the world that his idol and Venezuela's independence hero Simon Bolivar died of poisoning by his enemies in Colombia in 1830.


The National Assembly was to debate this week a proposal by pro-government legislators to hold a referendum - possibly also on April 14 - on whether he should be buried at the ornate National Pantheon building in Caracas.

Opponents are outraged at the prospect of a referendum stoking the emotion around Chavez at the same time as the presidential vote.

Besides the wave of sympathy for Chavez, the opposition faces a well-financed state apparatus, institutions packed with government supporters, and problems within its own rank-and-file, still demoralized over October's presidential election defeat and a mauling at gubernatorial polls in December.

At stake in the election is the future of Chavez's leftist "revolution," the continuation of Venezuelan oil subsidies and other aid crucial to the economies of left-wing allies around Latin America, from Cuba to Bolivia.

The OPEC nation boasts the world's largest oil reserves.

Though there are hopes for a post-Chavez rapprochement between Venezuela and the United States, a diplomatic spat worsened on Monday when Washington expelled two Venezuelan diplomats in a tit-for-tat retaliation.

(Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga, Simon Gardner, Pablo Garibian and Enrique Andres Pretel; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Stacey Joyce)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Singapore police to share evidence with FBI on engineer's death

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 06:49 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Singapore's police have pledged to share with the FBI evidence they collected in the death of Shane Todd, an American engineer found hanged in his Singapore apartment in June, Singaporean foreign minister, K. Shanmugam, said on Tuesday.

Todd's death is at the centre of what has become a delicate bilateral issue between Singapore and the United States.

Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam poses for photos before a dinner with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Matt Rourke/Pool

Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam poses for photos before a dinner with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Matt Rourke/Pool

Senator Max Baucus, who represents Todd's home state of Montana, has been pressing for more U.S. involvement into the inquiry into his death. He said he would "stop at nothing" to satisfy Todd's parents or determine that there had been no transfer of technology that might jeopardise U.S. national security.

"Today's meeting is about getting answers, getting complete answers," said Baucus, who is also chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade deals.

"So far we're unable to get the answers we need to know what happened to Shane, Shane Todd. We're unable to know the degree to which there might have been some breach of national security. So far answers have not been forthcoming," Baucus said.

Todd's parents contend the 31-year-old's death was not a suicide, but that he was murdered because of his involvement in a project between Singapore's Institute of Microelectronics, or IME, and the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei shortly before his death.

Shanmugam and Singapore's ambassador to the United States, Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, met with Baucus at his Senate office and then held a news conference about Todd's case. Shanmugan was meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry on issues including the case on Wednesday.

"We are committed to working with and making it clear exactly what happened and getting to the bottom of it," Shanmugan said.

"The Singapore police force will be happy to share the evidence it has obtained and the FBI can look through it," he said.

He said all of the government's evidence would be presented for public enquiry, where Todd's family could hire lawyers and take part, and that Singapore had felt it was inappropriate to discuss the case before the enquiry.

Huawei said last month it had not worked with an institute in Singapore on any projects in Todd's field of expertise, which was Gallium Nitride (GaN), an advanced semiconductor material that has both commercial and military purposes.

Shanmugan said the IME is subject to "very rigorous audit" to ensure there was no improper transfer of technology. "We are very happy for a U.S. team to come down and look at the projects and it will be very clear that there was no transfer of technology."

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Jackie Frank)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Boon Siew offers 1,100 jobs

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 06:49 PM PDT

GEORGE TOWN: Boon Siew Honda Sdn Bhd's new RM200mil plant at Batu Kawan Industrial Park that is five times larger than the old plant will open up 1,100 job vacancies.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said that over the past 50 years, Boon Siew Honda had played a key contributing role to the country's economy.

He said the sale of motorcycles had increased by 10.7% to 547,553 units in 2012 while production went up by 9% to 543,088 units from 498,076 units in 2011.

"Honda's share of the domestic market is a very impressive 46%," he said at the launching of the plant, which started operations last month.

Also present were Oriental Holding Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Loh Cheng Yean, Boon Siew Honda managing director Satoshi Okada, Honda Motor Co president Takanobu and Honda Motor Co managing officer Hiroshi Kobayahsi.

"New technologies will be introduced to achieve greater production efficiencies, including energy savings, reduction in manpower requirements and improved control over waste," Mustapa said.

He said the National Automotive Policy would promote the development of energy-efficient vehicles as a niche.

"We will attract investments in high value-added manufacturing using the latest technologies, particularly for the production of energy-efficient vehicles.

"We hope Boon Siew Honda will work with its principal to bring their involvement in this technology to a higher level and help us develop a foothold in the region," he added.

Meanwhile, Okada said the new plant occupied a 23.7ha site and had an annual production capacity of 350,000 units.

"The facility also deploys a highly-efficient production system with the use of advanced technologies such as solar photovoltaic, high-coating efficiency and an efficient electro-depositing coating line for volatile organic compounds.

"The new streamlined processes not only increase productivity but also contribute to greater energy savings and reduction of manpower and material wastage," he said.


Naza Kia unveils new Sorento

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 06:41 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Naza Kia Malaysia expects to sell 100 new-generation Sorento sports utility vehicles (SUVs) per month.

The company will launch the vehicle in conjunction with its Kia Customer Day this weekend.

Chief operating officer Datuk Hafiz Syed Abu Bakar said the new Sorento, which will be available at all its 56 outlets nationwide, will help the company achieve its sales target of 15,000 units this year.

"This year has begun on a positive note for Naza Kia Malaysia with the sale of 1,854 units in January and February, which is 12% higher than the same period in 2012.

"With over 33 enhancements, the next-generation Sorento will be positioned as a premium SUV targeted at affluent customers aged between 35 and 50 years old," he said.

The new-generation Sorento was re-styled by Kia's design team to create larger areas of body colour surface at the front and rear.

At the front, the SUV features LED daytime running lights, vertical-axis fog lamps with static bending lights for better visibility in the dark and a new signature Kia Tiger Nose Grille with a geometrical lattice pattern.

The side-mirrors of the new Sorento feature stylish LED turn-signals while its chrome-plated door handles are equipped with pocket lights that light up when the driver approaches the car with the remote key.

At the rear, the vehicle comes with a redesigned tailgate, reshaped LED rear-combination lamps, a stylish body colour bumper, vertical rear fog lamps and a rear spoiler to accentuate the SUV's sporty image.

The new Sorento comes with sporty redesigned 18-inch alloy wheels. Safety-wise, the new Sorento features a high rigidity body shell, electronic stability control, hill assist control, anti-lock brakes and six airbags.

Available in snow pearl white, bright silver, glittering metal and mahogany brown, the on-the-road price of the next generation Sorento remains unchanged from the previous version at RM158,888 and comes with a five–year warranty with unlimited mileage.


New CEO to oversee RM1.4bil expansion of Malaysia's largest container terminal operator

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 06:37 PM PDT

Wednesday March 13, 2013

PETALING JAYA: Newly appointed chief executive officer of Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) Glen Hilton will oversee a RM1.4bil expansion plan of the country's largest container terminal operator.

"The container port business is highly competitive as regional ports are also expanding their capacity and stepping up their level of services to customers. Hilton will deploy his wealth of experience in bringing operational best practices from a global perspective to PTP and oversee the successful commissioning of our expansion programme. This expansion will ensure that we enhance our value proposition to existing and new customers," chairman Datuk Mohd Sidik Shaik Osman said in a statement.

The expansion involves building two new berths, three blocks of containers yards, purchase of new cranes and electrifying existing rubber-tyred gantries.

The port operator said construction works on the new berths measuring 720m had already started and slated for completion in May 2014.

"The expansion will raise PTP's annual handling capacity by 25% to 10.5 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEUs) and increase the number of berths to 14 with total quay length of 5km. The expansion will complete Phase 2 of PTP's master plan.

PTP's new berths and new equipment will be able to handle the Maersk Line Triple-E vessels, a new generation container ships with 18,000 TEUs capacity. PTP is one of six ports (the others are Felixstowe, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Yantian, Shanghai and Ningbo) selected by Maersk Line for its "Daily Maersk" programme.

In 2012, PTP handled 7.7 million TEUs of containers, consolidating its position as the largest container terminal in Malaysia. It is targeting a volume growth of about 6% this year, bringing annual TEUs to above eight million.



The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Cars parked illegally outside Phileo Damansara despite council’s stern action

Posted: 13 Mar 2013 04:47 AM PDT

INCONSIDERATE motorists are still parking their vehicles indiscriminately in Jalan 16/11, Section 16, and on the ramp outside Phileo Damansara despite Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) officers taking stern action such as towing the vehicles away and issuing compounds.

The problem is also present on Saturdays, with vehicles parked along the kerb between the entrance to Eastin Hotel and Phileo Damansara 1 as well as on the ramp.

In a report in StarMetro recently, Petaling Jaya mayor Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad was quoted as saying that MBPJ had begun a clampdown on indiscriminate parking of vehicles in unauthorised places in the city as part of its barrier-free programme and following complaints from the public.

She had said that the council would not tolerate irresponsible motorists who blatantly park their vehicles illegally, affecting the smooth flow of traffic and causing inconvenience to other road users.

She said a task force had been formed to look into the U-turn ramp and Jalan 16/11, which had become a problem, with enforcement officers issuing compounds and towing away vehicles parked along here.

Alinah had stressed that the exercise to compound, tow and impound vehicles would continue until a compliance level was achieved.

An office worker from Phileo Damansara 2, who wished to be known only as Ng, said the congestion in the area during peak hours was a nightmare.

"The chaotic condition may lead to accidents occurring.

"You have motorists trying to exit Phileo 2, and taxis and other vehicles trying to enter Eastin Hotel, which makes it difficult for both parties especially during the rush hour," he said.

Going ahead with construction of Chinese school

Posted: 13 Mar 2013 04:43 AM PDT

The ground-breaking ceremony for SJK (C) Bukit Serdang will be held tomorrow.

Seri Kembangan MCA chairman Datuk Liew Yuen Keong, who is also the school's building committee chairman, said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong and Selangor MCA chief Datuk Donald Lim would be present at the event.

At a press conference on Monday, Liew gave an update on the progress of the construction of the new Chinese school, refuting claims that he had not been working hard to see the building take shape.

"A contractor was appointed on March 1 to carry out earthworks at the uneven construction site.

"The open tender process for building contractor will end on March 15, and we will identify the contractor next month," he said.

The school, which will be located on a 1.2ha plot of land in Persiaran Lestari Perdana 5, Taman Lestari Perdana, will have 36 classrooms.

The committee is planning to build 22 classrooms in the first phase.

"If everything goes well, the school will be open for the 2014 intake," said Liew.

Once it is built, pupils will not have to travel far to SJK (C) Serdang Baru 1 and Serdang Baru 2.

Liew said building plans were submitted to the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) on Nov 5 last year.

MPSJ had responded with a letter stating that the committee must obtain supporting documents from 11 departments.

"However, the Selangor Town and Country Planning Department (JPBD) and Petaling Land Office did not support this project.

"JPBD said the construction of a Chinese school will interfere with plans to construct a national school that requires 2.4ha of land, but we have submitted an appeal a month ago and are waiting for a response," he said.

Meanwhile, Liew and other local MCA leaders presented cheques for RM10,000 each to SJK (C) Serdang Baru 1, SJK (C) Serdang Baru 2 and SJK (C) Kung Man.

The money was raised during the "Stability Before Chaos" dinner held in Balakong on Oct 14 last year.

A total of 19 schools in Seri Kembangan, Puchong, Balakong, Bangi and Hulu Langat will be receiving RM10,000 each from MCA.


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Literary agents opening new chapter in China’s publishing industry

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 07:24 AM PDT

Literary agents are opening a new chapter in China's publishing industry.

THE need for literary agents – a vital third party between publishers and writers – has become a hot topic in Chinese publishing since a February announcement by China's first Nobel laureate in literature.

To concentrate on his writing, Mo Yan, whose real name is Guan Moye, announced that his daughter, Guan Xiaoxiao, has full rights to represent him in copyright talks and any other negotiations on cooperation. "I recognise any commitments and signing my daughter does," Mo said.

Established Chinese writers, including Mo, are not as lucky as, say, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Dan Brown, who have handy literary agents to sell their stories worldwide and save them the trouble of squabbling over contract details with publishers.

China author Chi Li, known for her realistic novels about grassroots life, says she has six assistants, including her daughter, to help with her affairs besides writing. "But none of them are real Jack-of-all-trades like literary agents," Chi says.

Chinese publishing professionals believe a mature literary agent mechanism will boost Chinese writing and promote Chinese writers to a more global audience.

"Without the agents, the writers' domestic copyright authorisation is sometimes a mess, as their works are often published by several different publishers. This is harmful for publishers who want to utilise their authors' talent to the best, not to mention publishing the writers abroad," says Liu Feng, veteran publisher and editor-in-chief of Yilin Press.

Liu has had business talks with Deborah Owen, who represents Israeli writer Amos Oz and is responsible for his works being translated into 39 languages and sold worldwide. "They joke that their cooperation is like a marriage," Liu says, adding that good agents are good for the whole business.

Chinese publishers and writers have also tasted the power of literary agents, as in the case of Carmen Balcells and Toby Eady.

An agent for six Nobel-winning writers, Balcells finally got approval for the publication on the Chinese mainland of authorised Chinese versions of Garcia Marquez's works after the publisher, Thinkingdom House, had previously tried all means to do so without success. The first book, Garcia Marquez's renowned One Hundred Years Of Solitude, appeared in 2011 and has since led to a series of phenomenal successes with other books by the author.

Eady is the one who made both the Chinese publishers and officials aware of the importance of literary agents. Through his efforts, Chinese scholar Yu Dan's Confucius From The Heart has been translated into 28 languages and has made bestseller lists in the Western world, becoming a legend in the global performance of Chinese books.

Believing a "book is about human thinking and observation of life", Eady says in an e-mail that an agent should "have a brave and talented mind to find a writer to write a book to make people think, understand how important that personal support is to writers, and have the knowledge to organise publicity with publishers". Additionally, an agent must be willing to take risks and spend time nurturing writers. "The Chinese have not got very much knowledge of and respect for the literary agent yet," Eady adds.

One possible reason for that is the relatively low remuneration for writing. Generally, a literary agent takes 10% to 20% from a writer's royalty gains.

Not all Chinese authors can afford a professional agent. "In China, as in many Asian countries, there is not a very strong demand in the domestic publishing market for the services of literary agents, except by very successful, big authors," Jackie Huang Jiakun, chief representative of Andrew Nurnberg Associates International's Beijing office, says.

Huang says Chinese writers do need to work with a capable literary agent if they want to publish their books abroad.

Besides foreign agencies like Nurnberg that are working in China, several local ones have been making efforts. Guo Jingming, a star writer for teens, is building a literary kingdom by representing and guiding younger writers through his Zuibook company. Guo was praised by Chen Liming, president of Beijing Genuine and Profound Culture Development Corp, who has been offering literary agent-like services to top Chinese writers including Mo and Mai Jia, known for his spy and detective novels.

Chen says that he is trying to innovate with the existing modes of literary agents in foreign countries to build a new mode that suits the Chinese market and its urge to go global. "We'd be a powerful organisation with more than 10 teams of professional agents for different types of writers and a combination of services in editing, copyright trades, production development and all," Chen says, adding though, that a big obstacle is a lack of talent.

In this respect, Liu Feng of Yilin Press suggests government support for literary agents while this budding aspect of publishing in China becomes more mature.

To that end, Jia Huili, an official with the General Administration of Press and Publication, says that the administration is planning a project that involves top Chinese publishers representing and promoting 20 top writers from home and abroad with custom-made services. – China Daily/Asia News Network


The Star Online: Nation

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Banking on votes from the civil servants

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 04:14 PM PDT

ALTHOUGH more non-Malays are beginning to join the civil service, the fact that Malays make up the overwhelming majority of the 1.4 million-strong public sector remains.

It is said that nearly every Malay family has someone either in the civil service or the uniformed services.

Thus, the civil service is home to a sizeable percentage of voters. Therefore, their welfare and livelihood is a key priority of the Barisan Nasional Government which likes to project itself as its protector and benefactor.

On the other hand, the Chinese and Indians predominate in the private sector as small businessmen, professionals and wage earners.

They are largely cut off from the civil service. They have little clue how the civil servants, as a unified special interest group, think and respond in a crisis.

This is the reason why some Chinese and Indian politicians and even some thoughtless Malays make insensitive remarks about the civil service and pay a price for their faux pas.

The more seasoned politicians in Umno and other Barisan component parties managed to avoid making insensitive remarks, preferring to work with the civil service rather than against them.

When civil servants die in the line of duty, Barisan gets all worked up. It immediately moves in to comfort and reassure them as it is mindful of the civil services' vote bank.

When security personnel were killed by Sulu insurgents, the Government's game plan changed as well.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak ordered an all-out assault by a combined force of army and police personnel.

Resources were rapidly mobilised, villagers told to move out and security forces encircled the red zone and the shooting war started in earnest.

When Najib announced the decision to attack on March 5 at a gathering of religious leaders at Putra Stadium, he was given a standing ovation.

The civil servants had rejoiced that the initial decision to negotiate was over and that the army and police were on attack mode.

The Opposition, on the other hand, had fallen flat. They had failed to connect with the powerful emotional impact the crisis had on civil servants and the Malay voters.

In fact, they committed a faux pas of the worst kind imaginable when PKR vice-president Tian Chua remarked that the Lahad Datu crisis was a sandiwara by Umno and Barisan Nasional.

His remarks, published in Keadilan Daily on March 1, had riled up the Malay groups, including former servicemen, who vented their anger and demanded an apology and retraction.

Not a day passes by without someone burning or stomping on pictures of Tian Chua and lodging a police report and urging stern action.

At one anti-Tian Chua session, even former IGPs and former deputy IGPs were out condemning Tian Chua and rooting for the Malaysian security forces.

The message out there is simple while the armed forces are risking their lives in protecting the country, Opposition politicians are playing politics.

The civil service is sacrosanct, politically speaking. If you are a politician, you better think twice before speaking up against it.

Former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo had angered civil servants when he gave out a broom as an "award" to two underperforming local councils in Novem-ber 2007.

While he wanted to improve the service, the civil servants saw it as demeaning and felt slighted. They took it out by spoiling their votes when the general election came, contributing to the fall of Barisan in Selangor.

In more recent times December 2011 Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua was forced to eat humble pie after he announced that Pakatan Rakyat would slash the civil service by half, if it takes power.

Pakatan leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had to step in and assure the civil servants that Pakatan would do no such thing if it is in power.

Even Pua, who stands in an overwhelmingly Chinese seat, was forced to clarify that he did not mean "slash by half" but reduce its numbers through synergies.

The civil service is overwhelmingly Malay and largely pro-Barisan, who is their protector and benefactor; although PAS and, to a lesser extent, PKR are making a dent.

However, it is not big enough a dent for the supposedly neutral civil servants to change direction as yet.

STPM results out on Monday

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 04:13 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The results for the 2012 Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) will be announced on Monday.

The Malaysian Examinations Council (MEC) said in a statement that candidates could obtain their results at their respective schools from noon that day, while private candidates would get theirs by post.

Candidates can also check their results via SMS by typing "STPM RESULTIC number" to 15888 or check the council's website at from noon on that day.

The 2012 STPM examinations was the last to be held under the old format as the Education Ministry decided three years ago to revamp the examination format from having one final exam to include school-based assessments and assessments at the end of each semester.

The MEC said candidates could obtain their 2013 STPM first semester results next Thursday via SMS or check the council's website.

Lahad Datu: Celebrate good news with our men in blue and green

Posted: 12 Mar 2013 04:13 PM PDT

IT is welcome news indeed. And all Malaysians will rejoice with the 102,000 police and nearly 132,000 armed forces personnel whose salaries are being revised upwards and streamlined with the pay scheme of the civil service.

We are now seeing for ourselves, up close and personal, the heavy responsibilities that our security forces have to bear in carrying out their duties.

While our security forces, especially the military, usually remain in the background, they are the first to rise up and defend our land when our country is threatened.

And they have shown that they are always ready to do battle. Summoned at short notice, they will put their lives at risk to defend our safety and sovereignty.

Sadly, our first soldier died in a gun battle yesterday in the on-going Ops Daulat in Sabah. It is similar for the police, who lost eight of their men fighting the armed intruders.

But our support for their pay rise must not only be seen from this perspective.

As the details of their salary scales are revealed, we surely can see for ourselves that our men in blue and green from the constable and the private, to the OCPDs and lieutenants are deserving of a pay rise. Just look at the minimum pay of all the ranks.

Granted that our security forces are not motivated solely by monetary rewards, but we must always factor in the high risks involved for the OCPD leading his policemen to deal with social unrest, or a lieutenant-colonel commanding a battalion of soldiers into battle.

And the risks are there even in less threatening situations, like a constable going after a band of car thieves or a company of soldiers called in to rescue people lost in the jungle.

And when they fall, we grieve with their families, but we may not realise that the financial support for the surviving members of the family will be low if their salaries are low.

These are the unseen, and under-appreciated, consequences of being trapped in a low-salary structure.

Streamlining the pay scale for police and armed forces personnel with the civil service is also necessary to better reflect the rank held by a respective officer.

With the revision, police officers from the ranks of lance corporal to assistant commissioner and lance corporal to colonel for the armed forces will see a marked hike in their salary scales.

As Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Ali Hamsa explained, police officers and armed forces personnel previously had to wait to be promoted a few ranks higher before their salary scale is raised.

Let us celebrate the good news together with our men in blue and green.

And let us remind ourselves, as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak puts it, that: "It is through their commitment that we Malaysians can go about our daily business without worry or fear, that our children can safely go to school, and we can earn a living and at the end of the day go home to our loved ones."

We must always remember that.


The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Veteran artist Awang Damit is still learning all the time

Posted: 11 Mar 2013 07:26 PM PDT

THE scorching heat was a nuisance but the opportunity to meet painter Awang Damit - made me forget the excruciating weather!

Most artists prefer peace and tranquillity and Awang is no exception.

A fixture in the arts scene for 38 years, Awang currently lives in Sijangkang, Teluk Panglima Garang.

An hours' drive from Kuala Lumpur, the surroundings and the atmosphere of Sijangkang reminded me of the rural areas in Perak particularly Kuala Kangsar.

I had a tough time finding his private gallery but once I saw the man waiting for my arrival, I knew I was in for a true learning experience.

Awang Damit Ahmad was born in Kuala Penyu, Sabah in 1956. His father was a fisherman in Sabah while his mother was a housewife. His love for arts started in the 70s when he travelled around Sabah to learn painting from various artists.

In 1975, the then 21-year-old came to Selangor to become a technician with Telekom Malaysia. While working as a technician, he began to delve into arts intently and it was one artist who kindled his passion.

"I first came across a painting by the late Syed Ahmad Jamal titled Windows of the sky at Balai Seni Lukis Negara."

"I was mesmerised by what he did. I then decided to go one step up and fine tune my artworks," says Awang

He quit Telekom in 1979 and joined Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in mid 1979. He pursued his Diploma in Fine Arts, which is equivalent to a general degree. During his time with UiTM, he did his practical in Melaka and developed his skills by learning with the best in St.Paul Hills, Melaka. Awang topped his class in UiTM, graduating in 1983. For two years, he became a full-time artist and completed his first series, Essence of Culture.

In fact, he started in 1975, meaning it took him 10 years to complete his first series. "I was inspired by my childhood experiences and decided to look into other painting mediums such as oil and acrylic,"

What inspired me to start this series and my subsequent series was my childhood experiences, working experiences and also my father's background as a fisherman and farmer." says the artist from Sabah.

Evetually becoming a tutor at UiTM, he went off in 1989 to pursue his Masters Degree in Fine Arts at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, United States.

During this time he joined art collectives the Arlington Art Group and The Capitol Hill." By joining them, I was exposed to various arts aspects and at the same time, I earned pocket money and also got the chance to travel around America - which was an incredible experience!" he says. Abstract expressionist Professor Tom Nakashima was his main influence. "Professor Tom was such a great influence and I learnt lots of things from him. He was such a joy to watch because he made abstract art look so easy," he said.

Petronas Gallery bought a few of his artworks and one of his paintings Nyanyian Petani Gunung which won the 1991 Salon Malaysia Award - one of the most prestigious arts award in Malaysia is still exhibited at the gallery.

"When they first bought it, it was RM 12,000. Now, based on my estimation, it could cost up to RM60, 000 to RM70,000!"

He returned to Malaysia in 1999 and continued lecturing in UiTM. Armed with techniques he picked up in the US. He completed the lauded series Marista (2002) and Iraga (2011). Hehas just started on his fourth series - Paya Rama and he says this series is similar to previous works but with a touch of modernity.

He commends the efforts of young Malaysian artists who go the extra mile to express their creativity. "Some may say that it's competition but actually it's a welcome challenge! Young artists are beginning to mix lots of art elements and many are exhibiting their artworks in Europe and countries around Asia," he enthuses.

"From the 60s to 80s, most artist followed a conventional style and their technical skills at times controlled their creativity. After the 90s, many don't follow conventional art styles but they have their own way of painting – It's very energetic and they experiment new things,"

Asked whether he is an expert in painting, he only had to say this - "Art is an ever learning process, as long as you learn new things, you can't call yourself an expert."

The Malaysian arts scene has been booming for the past few years and Awang said that the peaceful surroundings of the country is the main reason why artists in Malaysia are flourishing.

"For me, the future of the Malaysian arts scene depends on the political and economic situation of the country. If it's stable, you will see lots of beautiful artworks,"

He also said that the youngsters in the arts industry are lucky as they are getting lots of opportunities to go abroad to further their art forays. Married with six children, Awang lives with his wife Saadiah Kassim who was formerly a nurse in Melaka. One of his children, Mohammad Iqbal is a ceramic artist.

After the interview, he brought us around his house and for a man that is respected among the Malaysian artist fraternity, his humility stood out. It's a trait that makes his touching work all the more remarkable.


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