Ahad, 17 Mac 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Stepping up

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 04:24 PM PDT

RADIO station 988 is swinging back today with its tagline, Step Up, Rise Up (You Sheng, You Se). The relaunch will unveil a more captivating logo that is designed to please the station's target audience. The station is also rolling out more informative and intellectual programmes and content.

Listeners can now look forward to more power-packed news-based segments.

CK Tan, Star Radio Group's Chief Broadcasting Officer, said that 988's new logo represents a more youthful outlook and the new deejay line-up is ready to storm the airwaves.

"We are gathering information to present wider content to our listeners. We are also bringing in well-known deejay Chan Fong to host 988's popular breakfast show Morning Up, which is right up his alley," said Tan.

As a well-informed deejay, Chan Fong will share experiences and working life tips on the segment Feng Hui Lu Zhuan (which means, "winding path amidst high peaks").

Also, the show's latest hit segment, known as Shan Fong Dian Huo (which means, "fan the flames") has received overwhelming public feedback.

The breakfast show, led by deejay Chan Fong, together with Sam Mak (aka Da Bao) and newcomer Athena (aka Yi Hui), has a deejay line-up that promises to appeal to working adults.

Apart from opinions on the latest issues and current affairs, the production team has also beefed up segments like Morning VIPs, The Feature and Morning Up Cases.

Now, being stuck in a jam will no longer be dull and boring as the 988 breakfast team is out to perk up your mornings (every Monday to Friday, from 6am to 10am).

Also on 988 this week:

> Morning Up Cases: The annual Earth Hour is back! The last week of March is the time to remind everyone about the love for Mother Nature. As this year's Easter falls on March 31, the Earth Hour celebration has been brought forward by a week. On the Street Morning Up segment today and Friday, there will be talks reminding us about "passion" towards Mother Nature.

> Rock + Hip Hop + Techno = MP: This is a creative band, performing its best music on stage. Besides the distinctive names of the band members, this band has more to offer than you know. Every Monday to Friday on Music VIP, 2pm.

> The third Korean Wave Best Music Chart of the Year: The Korean Wave Best Music Chart turns three this year! Which is the best K-pop song of the year? Log on to 988.com.my to vote for your favourite song and stay tuned for the results. Every Monday to Friday on Kpop Chuego, 3pm to 4pm.

Reaching for the stars

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 04:24 PM PDT

Before Demi Lovato became a big-time pop singer, she was a Disney tween star who struggled during her transition from child celebrity into adulthood. However, she turned her stints in rehab, issues with an eating disorder and bipolar disease around to become a role model for young people everywhere, as well as a tireless champion of a long list of causes close to her heart.

On top of all that, she also found the time to have a career.

Her latest single Heart Attack, taken from her upcoming fourth full-length album, is currently her biggest hit. That one single has placed her on top with pop's biggest stars like Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen, who are all angling for chart domination.

With a No.12 debut on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, it is obvious that Lovato is not only holding her own but is primed for a full-on chart attack.

With all that she has going for her, it was only natural that Galaxie wanted the current X-Factor judge on the cover for its March 17 issue, which highlights Lovato's career in music, the good work she has done over the years to better herself, as well as to acknowledge the woman she has become.

In this issue, Galaxie also puts the spotlight on Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence who survived The Hunger Games and has become the toast of Tinseltown.

At the same time, celebrate the success of music's most credible star Ed Sheeran, and find out why Being Human actor Sam Witwer is so interested in Star Wars, and how he keeps sane in the business.

For TV buffs who love dashing men in suits, you'll love Galaxie's feature on Suits star Patrick J. Adams, who was in Kuala Lumpur last month to promote the show. Read how he regaled readers with stories from the set of the show.

Fans of fashion can enjoy a pictorial spread on the latest red carpet looks which shone in the spotlight as stars wore their best to attend this year's Oscars ceremony.

As always, Galaxie brings readers another fun issue packed with the latest juicy gossip from Hollywood, Bollywood and Asia, the latest music and film reviews, as well as loads of posters and goodies up for grabs.

Galaxie is published by Star Publications (M) Bhd. Galaxie can also be found online at galaxieblog.com.my (providing you gossip seven days a week!), www.facebook.com/GalaxieMagazine and on Twitter@galaxiemag.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Two Canadian prisoners break out in brazen helicopter escape

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 07:50 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two Canadian inmates broke out of prison in broad daylight on Sunday by climbing into a helicopter hovering over a detention centre northwest of Montreal, according to media reports.

The helicopter was hijacked earlier in the day from tour company Heli-Tremblant by two men armed posing as tourists, according to The Globe and Mail. The helicopter's pilot was ordered to fly to the prison in St-Jérôme, about 37 miles (60 km) outside of Montreal, the newspaper reported.

Once the helicopter arrived at the prison, the two inmates climbed up to it using ropes or cables, the newspaper said. Both fugitives, identified as Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, 36, and Danny Provençal, 33, were believed to have been injured in the escape.

By late Sunday, police had arrested three men, including one of the escaped prisoners, Hudon-Barbeau. Police had the second escapee, Provençal, surrounded, The Globe and Mail said.

Earlier, while police were still pursuing the inmates, a man identifying himself as Hudon-Barbeau called a local radio station. "It will end badly," he said, according to the report. "I'll kill myself, I'm 36 years old, I was told that I would die in prison."

When police eventually found the helicopter about 50 miles (80 km) from the prison, only the pilot was still at the scene. He was taken to the hospital and police officials said he would be questioned, according to the newspaper.

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch; editing by Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Australia eases some military sanctions on reforming Myanmar

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 07:42 PM PDT

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia will ease restrictions on military engagement with Myanmar following democratic reforms since the country's ruling generals relinquished their half-century grip on power in 2011, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said on Monday.

During a visit to Canberra by Myanmar's President Thein Sein -- the first leader from the former Burma to visit the Australian capital since 1974 -- Gillard said restrictions would be lifted on military humanitarian aid and peacekeeping, but an arms sales embargo would stay in place.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks at the National Press Club in Canberra January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks at the National Press Club in Canberra January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

"What we've done today is taken a first step on defence relations between our two countries. It is not fully normalising defence relationships," Gillard told reporters at a press conference with Thein Sein at Australia's parliament.

Since Myanmar's military stepped aside and a quasi-civilian government was installed in 2011, triggering a wave of political and economic reforms, western governments have cautiously dropped or eased sanctions against the country.

But the government still maintains a constitution drafted by the generals and reserves a quarter of parliamentary seats for military personnel, while barring Nobel laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar last week warned that progress had been erratic in Myanmar, with around 250 political prisoners still behind bars and 120,000 people internally displaced.

Gillard said Australia, a rotating UN Security Council member and close U.S. ally, would soon post a defence attaché to its embassy in Myanmar, and would also provide additional aid worth $20 million to train the government in human rights.

Thein Sein, a former junta general who has won praise for reforms since taking power in March 2011, said his government was looking to resource powerhouse Australia for investment and expertise in the country's fledgling resource sector.

"We have to make sure that the extraction and exploitation of these resources is done properly," he said.

Shut off from most of the world for decades, Myanmar is Asia's poorest country.

Gillard's government last year lifted targeted travel and financial sanctions on Myanmar outside military assistance, with aid set to double to $100 million a year by 2015.

(Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Mayor of Peru's capital appears to survive recall vote - exit polls

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 07:35 PM PDT

LIMA (Reuters) - The mayor of Peru's capital appeared to survive a recall vote on Sunday, three exit polls showed, narrowly defeating traditional power brokers who tried to oust her from power in Lima before a presidential election in 2016.

An Ipsos exit poll showed 52.6 percent of voters want mayor Susana Villaran to finish her four-year term, compared with 47.4 percent who voted for her removal.

Lima's Mayor Susana Villaran (2nd L) arrives to cast her vote during the city's mayor recall election in Lima March 17, 2013. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

Lima's Mayor Susana Villaran (2nd L) arrives to cast her vote during the city's mayor recall election in Lima March 17, 2013. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

Other exit polls by the survey firms Datum and CPI showed similar results, but Villaran's opponents did not concede defeat and a recount is possible as the election was close.

Official results will be announced on Monday.

"Today Lima won, we all won," Villaran said in a speech after the exit polls were released.

Her showing in the polls reassured fellow left-of-centre politicians. They viewed the recall campaign as driven by conservative parties jockeying for sway in the 2016 presidential election, when President Ollanta Humala cannot run for a second straight term.

Lima, with a third of Peru's population, often drives the outcomes of presidential elections.

"Congratulations, Susana. We are proud to have bet as always for decency and democratic consolidation," former President Alejandro Toledo said on Twitter.

Villaran, the first woman ever elected as mayor of Lima and the first leftist to hold that office in decades, spent months defending her two-year old administration as an alliance of conservative politicians, evangelical leaders and informal food and transportation workers said she was too inept to be allowed to finish her term.

Only a week ago, polls showed she would lose the recall vote in the city of 8 million - a reminder of the volatile nature of voter sentiment in Peru.

In the final days of campaigning, Villaran warned that big public works projects and private investment in concessions would face further delays if she were forced from office.

Lima, which was the base of the Spanish empire in the Americas and has hundreds of pre-Columbian ruins, needs infrastructure investments of about $37 billion, according to some estimates.

Villaran had angered opponents by emphasizing gay rights and trying to rein in the vast and largely unregulated informal economy.

"This will allow Lima to deepen and accelerate the reforms we've been working on for the past two years so that our city becomes more orderly, modern and just," Villaran said.

She also promised to address the needs of Lima's most vulnerable residents after as the recall campaign exposed strong opposition to her administration in poor districts where residents are demanding roads, water and sewage services.

(Reporting By Marco Aquino and Omar Mariluz, Writing by Mitra Taj; Editing by Terry Wade and Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Nadal defeats del Potro to win Indian Wells title

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 05:26 PM PDT

INDIAN WELLS (California): Rafael Nadal defeated Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday to win his third Indian Wells ATP Masters title and cement his return from a seven-month injury layoff.

The 11-time Grand Slam champion from Spain claimed his first hard court title since 2010.

He hadn't played a hard court tournament since pulling out of the Miami Masters last March with tendinitis in his left knee - the same sort of knee trouble that would sideline him from late June until February.

He came back last month to post a runner-up finish in Vina del Mar, followed by victories at Sao Paulo and Acapulco.

But none of those modest clay court tournaments posed the challenge he faced at Indian Wells, where the field featured 49 of the top 50 players in the world.

Seeded fifth, his route to the final included a quarter-final clash with defending champion Roger Federer.

In the final, Nadal halted the giant-killing run of seventh-seeded Argentinian del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion who defeated world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and world No. 3 Andy Murray en route to the final. - AFP

Sharapova routs Wozniacki for Indian Wells title

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 05:08 PM PDT

INDIAN WELLS (California): Maria Sharapova peaked at just the right time on Sunday to beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-2 and win her second Indian Wells WTA title in emphatic style.

The 25-year-old Russian, already projected to supplant Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka at No. 2 in world rankings by reaching her first final of the season, broke Wozniacki twice in each set en route to the victory in one hour and 21 minutes.

The win in a match between former champions gave her a second title to go with the Indian Wells crown she claimed in 2006.

It was Sharapova's first title since her 2012 French Open triumph gave her a career Grand Slam, and stretched her streak of years with at least one title to 11.

"This is what I do all the work for is these moments," a beaming Sharapova said. "You feel like everything has paid off."

Sharapova put her foot on the gas early with a break in the first game and didn't let up, firing winners off both wings and peppering Wozniacki with four aces.

"It's the final. You have to be on from the first point," she said. "I didn't feel like I played my best tennis in the beginning of the tournament, but sometimes it's the way it works.

"It's always better to work yourself through the tournament and get better as it ends than sometimes start extremely well and don't feel like you're gaining momentum as the tournament goes on."

She broke Wozniacki again in the seventh game, her only hiccup coming as she served for the set at 5-2 and made two errors to give Wozniacki a double break point.

Sharapova saved both with backhand winners, then sealed the set with an ace and a forehand winner.

The Russian opened the second set with another break, Wozniacki a bit unlucky with a double fault on break point as her second serve bounced off the net cord.

Wozniacki worked hard to extend the rallies, but she couldn't penetrate Sharapova's serve, her consultation with her coach in each set apparently giving her few new clues on how to do so.

"She was putting pressure on me from the start," Wozniacki said. "She was serving very well. I felt like everything that she wanted to do today was going in. She was making very few errors, and if she did, then it was really at the times where it didn't really matter.

"I have to say she just played too well today." Sharapova broke her again for a 5-2 lead, and served it out with a love game punctuated by a service winner on match point.

"I think it was a tough match, a tough battle, and there were a lot of games that went to deuce and a lot of long games," Sharapova said.

"I always felt like I was always a foot ahead, especially with the breaks. I was able to serve well today, and that helped me."

Wozniacki, a former world No. 1 who owns 20 WTA titles - including an Indian Wells win in 2011 - has still never beaten a top-three player in a final.

She remained in search of her first title of 2013, but said her performance was encouraging.

"I have to be happy with the finals here," she said. "It's a very big tournament. I have been having to play aggressive, play defense, everything what I had. And I'm pleased with that." - AFP

Lewis takes World No. 1 spot with Founders Cup win

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 05:01 PM PDT

PHOENIX (Arizona): Stacy Lewis claimed the World No. 1 women's golf ranking by firing a final-round eight-under par 64 to beat Japan's Ai Miyazato by three strokes on Sunday at the US$1.5mil LPGA Founders Cup.

The 28-year-old American knocked 2012 Founders Cup champion Yani Tseng of Taiwan from atop the rankings after a stay of 109 weeks with the victory and Tseng finishing in a share of 59th place, 19 strokes off the pace.

Lewis became only the second American woman golfer to claim the top spot, after Cristie Kerr in 2010, by making birdies on three of the last four holes while Miyazato, who led most of the way, took a double bogey at the 16th.

"It's unbelievable," Lewis said. "We were battling back and forth, and I didn't expect her to do that there. I was just trying to make birdies there at the end."

World No. 1 "has a pretty good ring to it," Lewis said just one day after taking a two-stroke penalty after her round when her caddie was penalized for testing a bunker.

"It was just fitting with everything that happened yesterday that I had my back against the wall again today," Lewis said.

Lewis, who began the day four off Miyazato's pace after the penalty, fired the best round of the day by two shots to finish on 23-under par 265.

Miyazato, seeking a 10th career LPGA title, settling for second on 268 after a closing 71 at Wildfire Golf Club, where Miyazato set a course record with a 63 in the opening round.

American Angela Stanford was third on 271 with South Korean Jee Young Lee, Italy's Giulia Sergas and Americans Jessica Korda and Lizette Salas sharing fourth another stroke off the pace.

Lewis birdied the par-5 second and fifth holes, the par-4 seventh and ninth as well as the par-5 11th before making her only bogey at the par-4 12th.

She responded with a birdie at the 13th, then ran off three birdies in a row starting at the par-5 15th and ending with a long putt at the par-3 17th to seize a three-stroke lead after the turning point on the par-4 16th.

Miyazato owned a one-stroke lead as she made her approach at 16 with a pitching wedge but the ball rolled off the green and down a hill into the desert and into an unplayable lie.

She blasted the ball up the hill to the far side of an elevated green with her fourth shot and two-putted from there, but the damage was done and Lewis birdied the hole to stretch her advantage to two strokes with two to play. - AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Plantations down in early trade

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 06:38 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Plantations fell in early trade on Monday, with PPB Group and Kuala Lumpur Kepong among the decliners due to weaker regional markets and concerns over higher taxes on palm oil exports to the European Union and weaker regional market.

At 9.21am, the FBM KLCI was down 6.50 points to 1,621.14. Turnover was 89.27 million shares valued at RM94.96mil. There were 88 gainers, 151 losers and 118 counters unchanged.

PPB Group fell 18 sen to RM12.50, IJM Plantations 17 sen to RM3.11 and KL Kepong 16 sen lower at RM20.10 while FGV fell two sen to RM4.62.

A news report said Malaysia could lose its Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) status in January 2014 which will lead to higher taxes on palm oil exports to the European Union. The reason is the EU has removed Malaysia from its list of developing countries.

RHB Research Institute said there could be a transitional period when Malaysia has neither GSP nor FTA status, which could hamper palm oil shipment to the EU.

"Having said that, come Jan 2014 there will be an additional 10m tonnes per annum of refining capacity in Indonesia. Competition among Indonesian refiners will boost Indonesia's domestic CPO price, resulting in Indonesian refiners having lower margin and have less ability to compete in terms of price against Malaysian refiners.

"Although prospects of losing GSP status is negative for Malaysian refiners, we are not overly concerned as there are mitigating factors," it said.

Transformation is not all about income only

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 06:37 PM PDT

TRANSFORMATION is not all about income. Yes, income is the key part and we put a lot of emphasis on and look at ways and means to increase that, but we are equally aware that income must reach everyone.

There must be inclusiveness in development that is, the drive towards achieving developed status by getting a per capita income of US$15,000 (RM46,795) a year by 2020 must include as many people as possible in that process.

Importantly, we must develop at a pace which we can sustain over time without putting too much strain on our available resources, not rush at breakneck speed with no thought of the morrow.

We must also give thought to the preservation of the environment and conservation in our development plans. These highlight the need to keep our development sustainable in addition to being inclusive.

This balanced approach to development, which combines high income with sustainability and inclusiveness, is what provides us with a sense of perspective about development, the ultimate purpose of which is improve the quality of life for everyone.

Many countries in their development programmes did not focus on the other aspects of development such as inclusiveness and sustainability. They paid the price for it with lop-sided development and an increasing gap between the rich and poor.

We have much to do in this respect as our Gini Coefficient (a measure of the gap between rich and poor where low means greater income equality) is very high and we are taking measures to deal with this.

In my last column, I wrote about why there was a pressing need for minimum wages. Some 3.2 million workers earn less than RM700 a month. When we set the minimum wage at RM900 per month for the peninsula and RM800 for Sabah and Sarawak it will have real impact on these workers because their wages will increase.

Minimum wages directly help to reduce the income between the haves and have not's by ensuring that those who can afford to have labour pay a much fairer wage for that. That will directly help to close the income gap.

The Government's payment through BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia) is a direct payment of RM500 to households with a monthly income of less than RM3,500. This year, the payment would involve an allocation of RM3bil while last year 4.1 million recipients received a total of RM2.1bil.

That's just one of the many programmes that the Government has embarked on to help the poor and the needy. It has introduced the Klinik Rakyat to make health care more easily accessible and cheaper to the poor in cities and villages.

It has introduced Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia to alleviate shopping expenses of the lower income group by encouraging these shops and supermarkets to stock food and other essential items at much lower prices then in the usual outlets.

For workers whose lunch expenses are rising, we have had Menu Rakyat 1Malaysia to lower their daily meal costs. These do mean a lot to those whose income is constricted and who have trouble paying more as prices of things rise.

Sometimes, the best way to help the poor, especially the very poor, is to simply give them the money to alleviate their suffering. That's far better than subsidies which help everyone, rich or poor.

In addition to that, there are ongoing programmes for rural infrastructure to ensure that facilities in the more distant areas are up to mark and modern. We will continue to spend on the rural community.

For the bumiputra community, we remain committed to increasing their participation in business through training, financial help and giving them priority for government jobs.

The Government is able to do all these things because it has money. Money comes from better tax revenues and other income and depends on an overall healthy rate of wealth generation.

Despite trying external circumstances, we are focused and have concentrated on certain areas of high economic growth to deliver continuing impetus towards wealth creation. This is already showing results with the economy continuing to grow around 5% a year.

Last year, government revenue hit a record of RM207bil, a 12% increase or RM22bil more than in 2011. This extra income helps to give that leg up to the poor so that they can continue to move upwards and better their lot.

We are of course still focused on reducing the budget deficit as a percentage of total GNP (gross national product goods and services produced in Malaysia at current prices plus net income from overseas).

But because of our good financial position, we don't need to be austere, and while we remain prudent we will still do the needful to help the more unfortunate members of society in our midst.

The economic transformation that we are going through will only be truly successful when we not only hit our income target of US$15,000 per person in 2020 but also when the increase in incomes lift most of our poor out of their predicament.

In addition, we have to be inclusive of other segments of the population.

Some examples of our affirmative actions include efforts to make sure that we help the rural population by building a record 3,349km of rural roads in the last three years.

We are also working towards getting women to participate in the workforce, particularly holding managerial and leadership positions. To this end, our Prime Minister has set a target of ensuring that women hold at least 30% board membership in large publicly listed companies by 2015.

The Government is also doing its best to get more economic participation of the minority groups such as small tribal groups in Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli.

Rest assured, we have not forgotten them in our pursuit of income and wealth.

Indeed, our Prime Minister has been leading the country on a transformation path to become a high income economy by 2020, which is inclusive of all segments of the rakyat in a manner that is sustainable, not just for the present but future generation as well as in terms of the environment. I believe that this new economic model which Malaysia is pursuing is the way to go.

Datuk Seri Idris Jala is CEO of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department. All fair and reasonable comment are welcome at


Incentives needed for mining sector

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 06:35 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Federal Government should introduce suitable incentives for the domestic mining sector to make it more cost-competitive to attract both local and foreign investors, according to Malaysian Chamber of Mines (MCOM) executive director Muhamad Nor Muhamad.

Muhamad said the state governments, meanwhile, could offer support via a speedier decision-making process in the areas of applications, renewals of mining leases and exploration licences.

In addition, state governments should make potentially mineral-rich lands "more" available for exploration and mining development, thus preventing sterilisation, he added.

Muhamad told StarBiz that the country's mineral export-to-mineral import ratio currently stood at an outrageous 1:10. Therefore, Malaysia could make huge savings in terms of foreign exchange outflow if the mining sector could be further developed.

Essentially, the Government should consider the mineral resource sector for inclusion into the National Key Economic Areas, given its important contribution to the country's gross domestic product.

"This is more so when Malaysia has a mineral resource potential of some RM340bil at current prices that can be developed," noted Muhamad.

He said one important factor that would drive the domestic mining sector this year would be the global mineral and metal prices environment.

"Should prices of minerals be sustained at current levels or move higher, there would be greater buoyancy in the sector."

In addition, there should be a more conducive operating business environment in the sector through the lowering of cost and ease of doing business," he added.

On potential minerals that had yet to be fully exploited, Muhamad said: "MCOM sees plenty of rich coal deposits in east Malaysia, which if properly developed, can meet Malaysia's entire domestic requirements and even for export."

The potential for base metals such as nickel, gold and copper was also seen in Sabah and the central belt of Peninsular Malaysia stretching from Kelantan to Johor.

Over the years, there has generally been positive response from the mineral-rich state governments towards mining, as reflected by the encouraging numbers of mining leases and exploration licences and renewals granted lately.

"However, there are still some areas requiring improvement, such as the duration of time taken in deciding on the granting of such applications and renewals.

"Another critical area is the size of the mining leases granted, which currently tends to be limited to small areas and shorter lease periods, thus rendering mining uneconomical," Muhamad said.

He pointed out that the trend in mining currently rendered the activity to be undertaken on a medium to large-scale basis.

"There is not much room for undertaking small-scale mining," said Muhamad.

One of the reasons is that there are not much rich secondary alluvial deposits available now.

"Those that can be re-mined contain left-over deposits at low grades and high cost.

"Other virgin secondary deposits are very deep-seated, requiring new technology, know-how and high capital cost," he explained.

Therefore, having medium to large-scale mines would also mean better control, supervision and implementation by the authorities of the necessary environmental, safety and mine-rehabilitation requirements to enable a more sustainable form of mining.

At the same time, Muhamad said the current information and data on Malaysia's mineral resource potential was outdated.

"It would be necessary for these information and data to be suitably updated in order to draw investor interest to the domestic mining sector," said Muhamad.

He suggested the renewed government reconnaissance mineral exploration programme be continued.

This would result in more information and better knowledge on local mineral reserves potential, which is needed to attract more investment into mineral exploration and mining.

In addition, the potential for development of "lode" or primary mineral deposits, particularly in the central belt of Peninsular Malaysia, was great.

However, he said the development would require different kinds of technology, know-how and skills and would be very capital-intensive.

Muhamad noted that the domestic mineral sector last year recorded a "somewhat" sustainable performance although not as great as in 2011 when metal and mineral prices were very buoyant.

Going forward, he believes minerals and metal prices willd continue to sustain at current levels because of supply constraints globally.

"There are unlikely to be many new big-scale mines being opened up in the near future. Those likely to be opened are smaller ones situated in developed countries in a high capital cost environment."

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Books vs virus

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 07:10 AM PDT

When illness strikes, a real-life book nook cures all.

MY study has always been my sanctuary. It has a mahogany bookshelf, a green sofa bed so large that one can almost swim in it, an Ikea desk, and two antiquated stools I bought from a flea market.

On normal days, I love to slide myself down on the sofa bed and prop my feet on a stool.

Minutes later, you will find me snuggling in, totally embraced by the bed as I read.

In the past few days, however, the room has been a shambles. Books and documents scattered everywhere, and each time I go out of the room, I come back in with more papers and letters. And as I have been sick due to a stubborn viral infection, I can't do much tidying. I can only lie on my sofa bed, as I am now, lying down and writing.

Strangely, it is at times like this, when I'm ill, that I become a more prolific reader. I finished a feminist fiction in two days, followed by a business book that deals with risk taking and the biological aspect of it. A Japanese short story collection was read like a picture book, and I found Kishore Muhbubani's The Great Convergence highly addictive and entertaining even though it deals with great complexities of the world.

As I read, the birds were chirping outside in the garden, my head was pounding, my jaw hurt, and my limbs were weak, but I took in every word. In one secluded corner of my heart that the virus had missed, I giggled at the joy books bring.

Books continue to pour in; they are books of my children who want to be with their mummy. My son's The Boy With The Striped Pyjamas, rests in one corner of the sofa bed to mark his territory. My daughter, always accommodating and giving, occupies the floor, her library books and her little drawings scattered at the foot of the sofa on a makeshift bedside table she has made for herself.

This book-loving household ... I simply love it!

My daughter reminds me of myself when I was 11 and I wanted so desperately a little desk on which to keep my books and stationery. I never had one until I spotted a little stool discarded by the roadside. I took it home, cleaned it, banged a nail into one of the legs so it wouldn't wobble, and placed it by my bed. On it I put my books. It was a makeshift desk, battered and stained, but I loved it, for it held the weight of my fervour for reading. It was the home of my friends: my books.

Indeed so. Because I looked poor and nerdy, I did not have many friends. So in my hand I always had a book, though in my pocket I rarely had coins. The canteen in my secondary school offered scrumptious food but it was the air-conditioned library that I frequented most.

Like a larger version of my study Down Under today, that library had endless rows of mahogany bookshelves and comfortable lounges so large for our size then that I had difficulty getting back up from them every time.

In there, the boy on whom I had a crush was always reading the stock market pages, scrutinising closing prices of public listed companies as if he had a stake in some of them, while I was struggling to read Enid Blyton. He has gone on to become a medical doctor and I remain, still, a reader.

The kookaburras are squawking this evening here in Sydney, broadcasting news of impending rain. The air is moist and the house is quiet with the kids out with their dad on the only night of the week when shops stay open until 9pm. Australians love and enjoy life. Having lived here for five years now, we too have learned to strike a good balance between wealth and health. So my husband recently bought a kayak, and he is now out buying my kids life vests so they can go on a fishing trip together this Sunday.

"Oh, can I bring my books along, Dad?" my son asked, anticipating a positive reply.

"Don't be a nerd, Jonn. When you are doing outdoor sports, enjoy nature. Books stay at home where they belong," my husband said, guffawing as he remembered the time when Jonn was caught reading a book at a sports carnival while his team mates were doing the long jump.

On that day of sweltering heat, the cover of the book he was reading shimmered, and so did the sweat on his forehead. I found that endearing.

It is about time I clean up the study, lest the books pile up and documents become misplaced. Never before has any corner of my house been so untidy.

"But this is what we call living, mum. Sprucing up is showing off," my son sang to a Les Misérables tune.

"Where did you learn that?"

"From a movie. Still, I'll clean this place up, as it is your lair," he continued, helping me to put away my daughter's drawings.

Yes. My study is my book nook.

A cup of tea, a good book (or two, or more), and a comfortable study are proving good remedies for Abby Wong's nasty viral infection.

Bad medicine

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 07:08 AM PDT

Prepare to feel your blood pressure rise when you read this book, as its contents are sure to get you riled up, one way or another.

Bad Pharma
Author: Ben Goldacre
Publisher: Fourth Estate, 448 pages

LET'S get this out of the way right from the start: this is not a pleasant book to read. There is reading for pleasure, reading for entertainment, and then there is reading for knowledge or understanding. This book falls in the last category.

Author Ben Goldacre is a well-known figure in the field of popular science. He is a medical doctor by training and regularly writes for The Guardian newspaper. His newspaper column on Bad Science eventually became a book. I first came across Goldacre a few months ago through his TED talk (and if you still aren't watching Ted Talks you owe it to yourself to visit ted.com – and while you are at it, get your kids onto ed.ted.com) and much of that talk is replicated, almost word for word, in this book.

Since its publication late last year, Bad Pharma has been sending shockwaves through the pharmaceutical industry. It has even led to issues being raised in the British parliament.

Like many readers I first started to learn about the unethical practices that are almost routine in the pharmaceutical industry when I read John Le Carré's book The Constant Gardener. In the book's afterword Le Carré says "by comparison with the reality, my story (is) as tame as a holiday postcard."

Bad Pharma is certainly no holiday postcard, but neither is it an outright condemnation of the pharmaceutical industry. Goldacre pays homage to the many dedicated scientists active in the field and credits their dedication and hard work for saving countless lives. Equally he points out that many drugs are improving people's health and quality of life. But not all of them. He sets out his evidence in passionate but level-headed arguments. While Bad Pharma can be a little technical at times, it is well written and meticulously researched. He doesn't just point fingers at problems but analyses their causes and then offers constructive suggestions to solve them.

The pharmaceutical industry makes profits of tens of billions of US dollars every year. Reactions from the industry to Goldacre's book range from outright denial to (unfounded) claims that the issues raised in Bad Pharma are historic and have already been resolved. Perhaps most telling is that the industry has been using some of the considerable resources at their disposal to engage in an unpleasant smear campaign striking out against the book and its author. One example of these unresolved issues is how Roche still refuses to release trial information on the anti-viral drug Tamiflu – a drug on which governments worldwide spent billions of dollars. Britain alone spent £500mil (RM2.4bil at today's rates) despite a lack of evidence about the drug's efficacy and lack of information on its possible side effects.

The main crux of Bad Pharma is the issue of publication bias. Goldacre shows the extent of the collusion between pharmaceutical companies and scientists conducting clinical trials: 100% of clinical trials sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry produce favourable results. A pharmaceutical company is well within its rights to stop trials midway if results are not looking favourable. The results of these trials will never be published or shared. Evidence that may be harmful to the drug companies is routinely hidden or ignored. This pays forward to new work based on previous evidence and researchers may be completely unaware that research has shown that a certain drug might not actually work, or might even have harmful side-effects – including death.

Not all clinical trials are industry sponsored, but even so "Positive findings are around twice as likely to be published as negative findings. This is a cancer at the core of evidence-based medicine," says Goldacre.

Essentially, there is no way of knowing how much of the data obtained through clinical trials is hidden. Doctors have no way of making informed decisions when prescribing medication, and of course neither do patients. The pharmaceutical industry employs doctors to network with other doctors to recommend their drugs, without revealing that they are being paid to do so.

Doctors are unknowingly prescribing medication to their patients that might not help them at all and often might make their illnesses worse. Goldacre cites plenty of evidence of this, including one case where an estimated 100,000 people died because trial data on a drug had been deliberately buried.

Other victims are the trial volunteers, who act out of altruism and risk their own health for the betterment of humanity. They sacrifice their time, and often their health, to provide evidence that has a very good chance of being hidden if the trial results are not seen to enhance the drug companies' position.

Goldacre calls for systemic reviews of all trial results, whether published or unpublished, favourable or unfavourable. Only then will doctors and patients have the information necessary to make informed decisions.

Bad Pharma is essential reading for all doctors, those in the medical field, and anyone on long-term medication – but be warned, the truth is shocking and you might find yourself getting angry while you read this book.

‘Novel of subtle power’

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 07:05 AM PDT

MALAYSIAN author Tan Twan Eng's novel, The Garden Of Evening Mists, beat the work of a Nobel laureate to win the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize earlier this week. Not bad for just his second book!

Tan himself had not expected the result: "I was quite taken by surprise when my name was called – I had anticipated the prize would go to one of the other authors," he said in a quick e-mail shot off from Hong Kong where the prize had been announced on Thursday.

"As Prof David Parker (executive director of the Asian Literary Prize, the award's organising body) said in his speech, it was one of the strongest shortlist in the prize's history. I thought Orhan Pamuk or Jeet Thayil would win," Tan, 40, added.

Pamuk won the 2006 Nobel prize for literature for his body of work, which includes Silent House, the book that had been shortlisted for this prize (though it had been published nearly three decades ago, it appeared in English for the first time in 2012 and so was eligible for nomination). And Thayil's novel, Narcopolis, had also been shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize. Stiff competition indeed.

At manasianliteraryprize.org, chair of judges Maya Jaggi said, "Our task as a jury was exceptionally difficult, as well as gratifying, because of the outstanding quality and originality of the novels in contention from across Asia, and the strength of our shortlist."

The Garden, however, was hailed for its "stylistic poise and probing intelligence".

"Taking its aesthetic cues from the artful deceptions of Japanese landscape gardening," Jaggi said, "it opens up a startling perspective on converging histories, using the feints and twists of fiction to explore its themes of personal and national honour; love and atonement; memory and forgetting; and the disturbing co-existence of cultural refinement and barbarism."

Like Tan's first novel, 2010's The Gift Of Rain, which is set in 1930s Malaya, The Garden also delves into the past, revisiting the aftermath of the Japanese occupation during World War II. And like his first book that was praised for, among other aspects, evocatively capturing the details of its period, The Garden was also thoroughly researched. As Tan said in an interview at news portal The Huffington Post, "The Garden Of Evening Mists ... it's exactly what it says it is. There's a garden and it's in the mountains (the Cameron Highlands, specifically) so it gets misty. It's not false advertising."

The one-time KL lawyer (now full time writer based in South Africa) even got his hands deep into soil despite being a complete city boy who had "zero interest in gardening" because gardens, specifically Japanese gardens and the philosophy behind them, are a key part of the novel.

Jaggi describes what his efforts produced: "The layering of historical periods is intricate, the descriptions of highland Malaysia are richly evocative, and the characterisation is both dark and compelling. Guarding its mysteries until the very end, this is a novel of subtle power and redemptive grace."

Parker had this to say about the book: "Achieved with the seemingly effortless poise of a remarkable fictional artistry, Tan Twan Eng's winning novel will be prized by all those who cannot resist the mastery of language."

Naturally, Tan is hoping that the numbers of "those who cannot resist" the mastery of language will increase now: "The win will hopefully make more readers aware of the book, and once they're aware of it, hopefully they'll be interested to read it. The prize has given immense exposure to all of us shortlisted authors."

And there's probably even more exposure in the near future for the winner, judging by past results: Last year's winning title, Please Look After Mom, by South Korean writer Kyung-sook Shin, had, by January this year, sold two million copies worldwide.

The Man Asian Literary Prize began in 2007 and is given to the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English. The winner is awarded US$30,000 (RM93,630) with the winning translator, if there is one, receiving US$5,000 (RM15,605). – Malini Dias

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PM launches new trust fund inheritance services under ASNB

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 08:09 AM PDT

SERDANG: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Sunday launched new trust fund inheritance services under the Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad (ASNB), which will benefit over 11 million unit holders.

The services, Hibah Amanah and Pengisytiharan Amanah, which are for Muslim and non-Muslim holders respectively, is also in conjunction with Permodalan Nasional Berhad's (PNB) 35th anniversary celebration.

He said that registration for the two services will be available at all ASNB offices nationwide, starting Monday.

"This new service will assist ASNB unit holders in planning their property related to the ASNB trust unit, so that it would be distributed to their descendants in a faster and easier process," said Najib during a dinner at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS).

Hibah Amanah is a service in accordance with Syariah that applies the concept of "trust and grant" in the management of properties, while Pengisytiharan Amanah applies the concept of trust, said PNB in a statement.

It said under the services, unit trust holders who have passed away will automatically have their assets transferred over to their family or loved ones.

To register, holders must be aged 18 and above. Beneficiaries can be Malaysians or foreigners but must be directly related to the holder.

Lahad Datu: Autopsies done on 22 of 28 bodies of terrorists, says Hamza

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 07:19 AM PDT

LAHAD DATU: Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said post mortems had been conducted 22 of the 28 bodies of terrorists brought out from areas under "Ops Daulat".

The bodies included that of a terrorist who was shot in a shootout in Kampung Tanjung Batu on Sunday, he told a media conference which was jointly held with Army First Infantry Division commander Major-General Datuk Ahmad Zaki Mokhtar at Felda Sahabat 16 near here about 5.30pm.

Malaysia had given the Philippines three days, in line with the Geneva Convention, to claim the bodies of their citizens killed in the "Ops Daulat" offensive against Sulu terrorists who had intruded into Sabah on Feb 12.

The deadline ended Sunday with no response from Manila.

Hamza said he did not rule out the possibility that the terrorists had escaped to Pulau Tambisan, about 100 km from Felda Sahabat.

However, he said, the security forces had tightened patrols at all strategic areas.

He said he was optimistic that the operation to flush out the remaining terrorists in Kampung Tanjung Batu would be completed Monday, following which the security team would focus on areas in Tanjung Labian and Sungai Bilis.

So far, 62 terrorists had been killed, 104 detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 and 241 people, including nine who were arrested Saturday and Sunday, for being in the "Ops Daulat" red zone area and other offences. - Bernama

Philippines' Aquino calls for talks on Sabah

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 06:47 AM PDT

MANILA: President Benigno Aquino said Sunday that negotiations were the only way to resolve a Philippine sultanate's claim to Sabah as he criticised an armed incursion into the Malaysian state.

Aquino also lashed out at unidentified conspirators whom he accused of sending the sultanate's followers to Sabah last month, saying they had endangered some 800,000 Filipinos living and working in the area.

Speaking at the elite Philippine Military Academy, the president criticised anew the followers of the self-declared Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III, whose incursion into Sabah has led to dozens of deaths.

"There are problems that just beget more problems if you try to solve them with haste or force. We need sincere and deep discussion if we are to arrive at a correct solution," he told graduating military cadets.

"We already know how complicated this issue is. Could any Malaysian prime minister so easily agree to let go of a land that for so long has been subject to their laws?" Aquino asked.

More than 200 followers of Kiram, some of them armed, entered Sabah to reassert the sultanate's centuries-old claim to the area.

Fighting with Malaysian security forces broke out on March 5 and according to Malaysian police figures, 61 of the intruders as well as eight police officers and a soldier have died.

Authorities have arrested more than 100 people in Sabah on suspicion of having links to the militants. The Philippine Navy last week detained 35 suspected Filipino intruders as they tried to sail home.

However Agbimuddin Kiram, the leader of the intruders and the younger brother of Jamalul Kiram III, was not among those detained.

Aquino hinted that the Kirams had hidden backers, saying the incursion in Sabah must have cost a large sum of money.

The spokesman for the Kiram family, Abraham Idjirani, said that the sultanate was forced to take action because the Philippine government would not act on their claim.

He also denied anyone had financed the trip, saying the sultan's followers did so on their own.

Idjirani said he had spoken to Agbimuddin Kiram by phone late Saturday and he was still in Sabah and unharmed. - AFP

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Learning through life

Posted: 17 Mar 2013 07:17 AM PDT

Ernest Zacharevic's mural paintings are a blend of his education in his native Lithuania as well as some outwardly wayward experiences in London.

Three words mingle easily with artist Ernest Zacharevic: passion, purpose and perception. This is perhaps down to the education and experience that he gathered as a student in Vilnius and London. At least that is the summation pulled together after a conversation with the lanky Lithuanian at the opening of Art Square Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur gallery last month.

Two sets of varying cultures – both academic and lifestyle – helped shape his creative nexus. Zacharevic, 26, graduated with first class honours in Fine Art from London's University of Middlesex in 2009 after completing his intermediary learning at the Vilnius Art Academy between 2005 and 2006 and the M.K. Ciurlionis National Art School (1996 to 2005).

He then set out on a half-year South East Asia sojourn and stopped by in Penang in 2011 to reconnect with his college friends and sample the state's Chinese New Year celebrations that he had heard so much of – and never left. The mottled building walls in the island's inner streets drew him in and he dabbled in mural painting that finally led to the state government acting on his proposal to have a series of works for the George Town Festival in 2012.

The most famous of Zacharevic effort is the Little Children On A Bicycle, an expressive piece featuring a cheeky female cyclist and a terrified boy riding pillion and "supported" by a real old bicycle for a touch of installation art. Other notable paintings include an almost wall-to-wall portrait of an old man – also on Armenian Street – and two broken hearts having a chat on opposing telephone booths on – where else? – Love Lane.

Zacharevic's passion for street art stemmed from his childhood and later grounding in a traditional art school where rules and restrictions reigned and the emphasis, unsurprisingly, was rigorously on the technical aspects of painting. Exploring his interest in graffiti was not only a form of rebellion for Zacharevic but also, knowingly or not, forged a purpose for his art. London, interestingly, provided him with a focus and sense of control.

"(In) the first year at the university, you kind of freak out because nobody teaches you anything … go and maybe do your painting or there will be a class on Friday but you don't have to attend. That kind of attitude and it really freaks you out at first. Then, you actually get it. It builds up self-discipline … you just go and learn what you want to learn," said Zacharevic.

"You have all the necessary equipment and tutors for you to learn from but it is up to you how much you're going to get from (them). It taught me different things in term of art and lifestyle … both experiences are different but just as valuable. It was quite a shock to move from Lithuania to London. They are two very different kind of cultures … you could really feel the East-and-West bloc up to this day in the continent and (there was) a different point of view to everything, including the arts."

"I was quite passionate about exploring and bringing my skills forward but it took a while, when I was in London, to get rid of the restrictions in your mind about art. What art is supposed to be, how it is supposed to be, how it is supposed to look and what people are supposed to think and say about it. But in terms of skills, I really appreciate I grew up in the environment (at home) where I managed to get it, keep it and actually adapt to whatever I have later on."

This resonates through Zacharevic's penchant for mixing up mediums and employing them not the way they were supposed to be used – especially after moving to London – and sated his hunger to create innovative paintings. An artistic amalgamation of the Vilnius-London years, after he had abandoned the drudgery of graffiti "writing" and embraced mural art, was his early explorations of the traditional techniques in charcoal drawings in an unexpected environment: on the walls on the streets.

It is not inaccurate to say that his perception of art and accessibility to art is very much a credo that pushes his paintings to remain in the communal domain. Zacharevic believes in transporting art works from the studio and institution to the public wall as he had always maintained his own vision and view on art from his days in school and university.

"I have a feeling that I should be for everyone rather than selected people. In the last 30 or 40 years, the whole art market twisted so much and turned into a kind of machine that produces art works for the sake art works. Staying in London, you realise how manufactured (it all is) and just being able to expose your work to not the art community but the actual people, the public."

The experience and environment, Zacharevic said, affect his paintings the most and stimulate him to try to make them relevant to the community that surrounds him. His art has been acknowledged in Lithuania when he was nominated under the arts and culture category for the Global Lithuanian Award – which salutes individuals who have significantly contributed to the global promotion of Lithuania – last year. It was an "incident" that created a huge domestic buzz.

"At first, I did not get any attention from the press back home but, after my nomination for my achievements in spreading Lithuanian culture abroad, people did research and figured out that I'm a graffiti artist (and they were surprised). Graffiti art is so controlled there, banned and people are sitting in the jail and here I am doing the same and gaining recognition.

"Lithuania is kind of behind the global arts and culture scene, as you would imagine in any little country, and everything comes about like 10 years later. Lately, graffiti art was banned … it was big in New York in the 1970s and 1980s and in Lithuania it was big five years ago! There was a close community of graffiti artists but it was super active.

"They would paint a wall and the authorities would scrub it off in the next week. It was great practice (because it is like you have a blank canvass). Graffiti control enforcement is hilarious back home: they impose fines on the building owners who do not repaint over the graffiti," he smirked.

The situation appears to be changing. During a homecoming in 2012, Zacharevic did "little paintings and installations here and there" without the lavishness of time to actually produce "something more constructive." He did not assign his signature to them or even post them on his Facebook page and claimed that nobody would be able to trace their authorship. These creations, however, were found to be circling around government web sites and blogs.

"Back home, the art community is a funny phenomenon … it is really 20 people who know each other, work for each other and they don't care about anything else. (But for me it is about making) your work accessible and open to everyone, for free and to enjoy the little quality of surprise when you don't expect it."

Currently, Zacharevic is at the preliminary stage of looking at the details and scope of possible projects in Singapore and Colombia. Art enthusiasts in Kuala Lumpur could view his work at Art Square Bangsar, which includes postcard-sized and other replicas of his mural paintings in Penang. Visit www.art2.com.my for details.

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