Isnin, 25 Mac 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Central African Republic rebel chief to name power-sharing government

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 05:34 PM PDT

BANGUI (Reuters) - The leader of rebels in Central African Republic pledged to name a power-sharing government in a bid to defuse international criticism of a coup that killed 13 South African soldiers and has plunged the mineral-rich nation into chaos.

A fighter from the Seleka rebel coalition sits on crates of ammunition belonging to ousted President Francois Bozize in the courtyard of the presidential palace in Bangui March 25, 2013. REUTERS/Ange Aboa

A fighter from the Seleka rebel coalition sits on crates of ammunition belonging to ousted President Francois Bozize in the courtyard of the presidential palace in Bangui March 25, 2013. REUTERS/Ange Aboa

Regional peacekeepers said that leader of the Seleka rebel coalition, self-proclaimed president Michel Djotodia, appealed for their help in restoring order after his own men joined in a second day of looting on Monday in the riverside capital Bangui.

The rebels' ousting of President Francois Bozize on Sunday was condemned by the United Nations and African Union. But in a sign of pragmatism, the United States, France and regional powerbroker Chad called on the insurgents to respect a January peace deal creating a unity government.

Some 5,000 Seleka fighters swept into the capital on Sunday after a lightning offensive in which they fought their way from the far north to the presidential palace in four days after the collapse of the power-sharing deal, the Libreville Accord.

Neighbouring Cameroon confirmed on Monday that Bozize had arrived there but said it was not giving him permanent refuge.

The removal of Bozize, who had himself seized power in a coup backed by Chad in 2003, was just the latest of many rebellions since the poor, landlocked country won independence from France in 1960.

"We will lead the people of Central African Republic during a three-year transition period, in accordance with the Libreville Accord," Djotodia said in a recorded statement issued to reporters. It was not broadcast due to power cuts.

January's peace deal signed at Libreville, the capital of Gabon, was drafted by regional mediators after the rebels has besieged Bangui in December. The accord had created a government drawn from Bozize loyalists, rebels and the civilian opposition.

Djotodia said that civilian opposition representative Nicolas Tiangaye would remain in place as prime minister.

The U.N. Security Council on Monday called for all parties to refrain from violence against civilians, the restoration of the rule of law, constitutional order and the implementation of the Libreville deal. The council said it would monitor the situation and was ready to consider further steps if necessary.

In Bangui, 600,000 residents of the capital remained without power and running water for a third day. Despite a curfew, there was widespread pillaging of offices, public buildings and businesses by rebels and civilians.

"Public order is the biggest problem right now," said General Jean Felix Akaga, commander of the regional African peacekeeping force. "Seleka's leaders are struggling to control their men. The president has asked us to help restore calm."

He said rebels would be confined to barracks from Monday.

International aid group Doctors Without Borders said its offices in Bangui and elsewhere in the country had been looted, and urged all sides to ensure people had access to health care.


With France's military contingent refusing to intervene, two heavily armed columns of insurgents in pick-up trucks stormed into Bangui the previous day, brushing aside a South African force of 400 troops which attempted to block their path.

South African President Jacob Zuma said at least 13 soldiers were killed and 27 others wounded in the fighting, the worst military setback for Pretoria since the end of apartheid in 1994 and an embarrassing snub to its efforts to project its power in the resource-rich heart of Africa.

"It is a sad moment for our country," Zuma said, adding that another soldier was still missing.

"The actions of these bandits will not deter us from our responsibility of working for peace and stability in Africa."

Zuma said South Africa had yet to decided whether to pull out its force, which he said had inflicted heavy casualties on the rebels during a nine-hour attack on the South African base.

"This is complete disaster for South Africa," said Thierry Vircoulon, Central African specialist at the International Crisis Group. "They did not at all understand they were backing the wrong horse. They did not consult within the region."

French troops patrolling the international airport in the capital killed two Indian citizens when three vehicles tried to enter the facility, France's defence ministry said.

Seleka, a loose coalition of five rebel groups whose name means "alliance" in the Songo language, was formed last year after Bozize had failed to implement power-sharing in the wake of disputed 2011 elections boycotted by the opposition.

It resumed hostilities on Thursday after military leaders of the group detained its five members of Bozize's government and accused the president of violating January's peace deal by failing to integrate 2,000 of its fighters into the army.

"The movements that make up Seleka have a long history of divisions," Vircoulon said. "The cohesion of Seleka will be tested now they are in full control."

Despite rich deposits of gold, diamonds and uranium, Central African Republic remains one of the world's least developed and most unstable nations.

Bozize rose in the military during the 1966-1979 rule of dictator Jean-Bedel Bokassa, a self-styled emperor found guilty of the murder of schoolchildren and other crimes.

In recent years, Bozize's government had hosted U.S. Special Forces helping regional armies hunt down the Lord's Resistance Army rebels, led by a Ugandan warlord, who have killed thousands of civilians during decades of conflict.


Paris, which already had 250 soldiers in Central African Republic, has sent another 300 troops to ensure the security of its citizens and diplomatic missions.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said there was no need to evacuate the 1,200 French nationals, most of whom are in the capital. "Things are under control from our point of view regarding French nationals," Fabius told Europe 1 radio.

French President Francois Hollande spoke to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Chadian President Idriss Deby to suggest that any solution to the crisis should be based on the Libreville agreement, Fabius added.

"For now, there is no legitimate authority there," he said, adding that France did not see it as its place to intervene.

France offered its condolences to India for the killing of Indian civilians and Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was due to speak with his Indian counterpart in the coming hours, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The U.S. State Department also called on Seleka to ensure the implementation of the Libreville agreement and provide full support to Tiangaye's government. Regional military power Chad said the same in a statement on Sunday.

(Additional reporting by Leigh Thomas in Paris, Richard Valdmanis in Dakar and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by Daniel Flynn and David Lewis; Editing by Peter Graff, Anna Willard, Alastair Macdonald and Cynthia Osterman)

Related Stories:
France says troops in Central Africa kill two Indian citizens

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Quake hits Guatemala, no initial reports of damage

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 05:05 PM PDT

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - A powerful earthquake struck Guatemala close to the capital on Monday, though residents of Guatemala City felt little movement from the deep tremor and emergency services said there were no initial reports of damage or injuries.

The epicentre of the 6.2 magnitude earthquake, initially reported as a magnitude 5.8, was only 6 miles (9.5 km) southeast of Guatemala City but it was at a depth of 124.6 miles (200 km), lessening its effect.

Two Reuters witnesses in the city said they did not feel the quake, nor did they see people running outdoors as is often the case when powerful tremors hit.

David de Leon, a spokesman for Guatemala's emergency agency, CONRED, said he had no reports of damage or victims.

A magnitude 6.2 quake is capable of causing severe damage.

Last November, more than 50 people were killed in a 7.5 magnitude quake in Guatemala in San Marcos state, a mountainous region near the Mexican border.

That earthquake was the strongest to shake the country since 1976, when a magnitude 7.5 quake centred about 99 miles (160 km) northeast of Guatemala City killed some 23,000 people.

(Reporting by Mike McDonald and Sofia Menchu; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Rights groups slam new U.N. arms trade treaty draft

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 05:01 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Human rights groups on Monday sharply criticized the latest draft of what could become the first international treaty to regulate the $70 billion (46 billion pounds) global conventional arms trade, accusing the United States and others of pushing to dilute it.

Several Western delegations, however, played down the complaints of groups like Oxfam, Amnesty International, the World Council of Churches and Control Arms, saying the latest draft showed progress, though improvements were clearly needed.

United Nations member states began meeting last week in a final push to hammer out a binding international treaty to end the lack of regulation over conventional arms sales. On Friday, Peter Woolcott of Australia, president of the drafting conference, distributed a revised draft treaty.

One of changes was in the list of arms the treaty covers.

The previous draft treaty said that the following weapon types would be covered by the pact "at a minimum" - tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers and small arms and light arms.

But in the new draft, the words "at a minimum" have been removed, which rights groups said has dramatically narrowed the scope of the weapons to be covered by the treaty.

"This treaty is not good enough," said Anna Macdonald of Oxfam. "This is not the treaty that is going to save lives and protect people."

Jonathan Frerichs of the World Council of Churches told reporters predator drones and hand grenades are examples of deadly arms that should be explicitly covered but are not.

Arms control campaigners and human rights advocates say one person dies every minute worldwide as a result of armed violence, and that a treaty is needed to halt the uncontrolled flow of weapons and ammunition that they argue helps fuel wars, atrocities and rights abuses.

They say conflicts in Syria, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast and elsewhere highlight the need to keep arms from going to governments that use them for atrocities.


Several Western diplomats said that the rights groups were ignoring improvements and exaggerating shortcomings of the new draft, noting a new draft comes out on Wednesday ahead of the final day of negotiations on Thursday.

If the pact does not get the required unanimous approval of member states, it would go to a vote in the 193-nation General Assembly, where diplomats say it is very likely to pass.

The point of an arms trade treaty is to set standards for all cross-border transfers of conventional weapons. It would also create binding requirements for states to review all cross-border arms contracts to ensure arms will not be used in human rights abuses, terrorism or violations of humanitarian law.

In addition to the narrowing of the scope of weapons covered, rights groups and supporters of a tough treaty said ammunition is not properly covered, and loopholes that exclude defence cooperation agreements, loans and leases remain in the draft.

Oxfam's Macdonald suggested it was the United States, the world's top arms producer, that had pushed for a narrowing of the scope of the weapons covered in the treaty. The U.S. mission did not have an immediate reaction, but several diplomats also blamed it on the United States and other major arms exporting nations.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry voiced conditional support for the treaty last week, saying Washington was "steadfast in its commitment to achieve a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty that helps address the adverse effects of the international arms trade on global peace and stability."

But he did not promise U.S. support. He repeated that the United States would not accept a treaty that imposed new limits on U.S. citizens' right to bear arms, a sensitive political issue in the United States.

Over the weekend, the National Rifle Association, a powerful U.S. pro-gun lobby, welcomed a measure adopted by the U.S. Senate on Saturday that called on the United States not to join the U.N. arms trade treaty. The NRA has vowed to fight hard to prevent ratification of the treaty if it reaches Washington.

The measure, which was put forward by Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, passed on a 53-46 vote. Several U.N. diplomats in New York said this was a sign of the difficulties the United States would have securing Senate approval of a pact.

"Thanks to the efforts of Senator Inhofe, we are one step closer to ensuring the U.N. will not trample on the freedoms our Founding Fathers guaranteed to us," said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action.

The American Bar Association, an attorneys' lobbying group, last month disputed the NRA position on the treaty, saying in a paper that "ratification of the treaty would not infringe upon rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment."

The main reason the arms trade talks are taking place at all is that the United States - the world's biggest arms trader - reversed U.S. policy on the issue after President Barack Obama was first elected and decided in 2009 to support an arms treaty.

(Corrects spelling of ambassador's name in third paragraph)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Business

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TRC Synergy climbs to highest in 2 months

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 06:55 PM PDT

Published: Tuesday March 26, 2013 MYT 9:56:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of TRC Synergy Bhd rose to 57 sen in early trade on Tuesday, the highest since Jan 29 as trading interest picked up after its proposed property joint venture with Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (SPNB).

At 9.38am, it was up 2.5 sen to 56.5 sen. There were 196,200 shares done at prices ranging from 56 sen to 57 sen.

The FBM KLCI rose 5.55 points to 1,649.44. Turnover was 99.58 million shares valued at RM124.32mil. There were 142 gainers, 83 losers and 156 counters unchanged.

PublicInvest Research maintained its outperform recommendation on TRC with a 67 sen target price, pegged at 10 times of FY13 EPS.

"We still like TRC given that it is a good proxy to the Klang Valley MRT project, exposure in SCORE projects and strong balance sheet," it said.

On Monday, TRC Synergy teamed up with SPNB to develop 49,776 sq metres of land in Subang for a commercial-residential project with a gross development value (GDV) of RM687.59mil.

The company said the proposed joint land development would comprise of a mixed development on the land which comprises of basement parking, retail podium with car parks, LRT users car parks, office units, hotel, residential apartments, retail and food court and SOHO.


UOA Development crosses RM2, highest since August 2011

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 06:36 PM PDT

Published: Tuesday March 26, 2013 MYT 9:37:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of property developer UOA Development crossed the RM2 level in early trade on Tuesday, the first time since August 2011.

At 9.20am, it was up one sen to RM2. There were 131,600 shares traded at prices ranging from RM1.97 to RM2.

The FBM KLCI was up 5.67 points to 1,649.56. Turnover was 67.63 million shares valued at RM64.81mil. There were 115 gainers, 52 losers and 136 counters unchanged.

CIMB Equities Research, had in its February report on the FY2012 results of UOA Development, said they were very close to its forecast and 4% above consensus.

It said the group chalked up RM1.71bil in new sales, beating its target by a hefty 71%. We believe it is on track to repeat this performance in 2013.

"We tweak our EPS forecasts while raising RNAV from RM2.81 to RM2.88 for housekeeping purposes. This raises our target price which is based on a 30% discount to RNAV," said the research house.


China iron ore demand to rise 50 million tonnes

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 06:36 PM PDT

BEIJING: China's iron ore demand is expected to rise by 50 million tonnes in 2013, but it will not be enough to soak up a supply glut on the world market, the country's top economic planning agency said.

China's own iron ore supply will rise by 20 million tonnes and the world's top three miners are expected to raise capacity by a combined 100 million tonnes this year, the National Development and Reform Commission said on its website (

The excess supply is likely to pressure iron ore prices that have already fallen 15% from this year's peak amid slower steel demand in China, the world's biggest consumer and producer of the construction material.

Global miners Vale of Brazil, as well as Australia's BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, have banked on sustained increases in iron ore demand from China to justify massive expansion plans.

China imported a record 743.55 million tonnes of iron ore in 2012, up 8.4% on the year, but total steel output rose just 3.1% to 716.5 million tonnes, in step with a slower economy.

The influential planning agency forecasts a 30-million tonne increase in China's crude steel production this year, but said the increase in steel demand from China and elsewhere was not likely to be enough to absorb the big increases in iron ore supplies at home and abroad over 2013.

"Looking at the trends, oversupply in iron ore is unavoidable," it said.

The industry forecasts total global supplies to rise around 300 million tonnes from this year through 2015, the agency added.

Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton last week warned of volatile markets and softer iron ore prices as they stick to expansion plans while China's steel production growth slows.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs cut its iron ore price forecasts because of the supply surplus and slower Chinese steel output, expecting iron ore to average US$80 a tonne by 2015.

Iron ore stood at US$135.30 per tonne on Friday, having peaked at US$158.90 last month.

Iron ore demand was also likely to be dragged down by low economic growth in developed countries, and there was little room for big steel production increases in developing countries such as India, the planning agency said.

However, it said the "concentration" in the iron ore market would allow the big global miners to delay projects and suppress output to regulate supplies, and it would take some time before the glut was fully reflected in the market. - Reuters



The Star Online: Sports

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Tigers Woods recaptures world No. 1 spot

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 04:45 PM PDT

ORLANDO, Florida: Tiger Woods reclaimed the world number one spot on Monday for the first time since he was brought low by scandal, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

With his eighth Bay Hill course triumph, 37-year-old Woods replaced Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy atop the rankings and set the seal on an extraordinary comeback after a spectacular fall from personal and professional grace.

"I play well here," said Woods, who earned $1.08 million in prize money after a closing round of two-under 70. "That is about as simple as it gets. It is a by-product of hard work and patience."

It took an extra day, but Woods out-dueled fellow American Rickie Fowler down the stretch, winning the $6.2 million event by two strokes.

Woods has won 14 majors in his career and had previously spent a record 623 weeks on top of the world.

But he has not led the rankings for nearly three years, after injuries and an infamous scandal saw him stumble. Woods fell to his lowest rank on November 11, 2011 when he dropped to 58th in the world.

His woes began in 2009 when a US tabloid aired claims he had had an affair with a nightclub manageress. Two days later, amid speculation about his marriage, he was slightly injured when he crashed his car near his home.

In December of that year, Woods issued two statements admitting to serial marital infidelity and announced he would take a break from golf. He later said that he had undergone therapy to help him change his behavior.

He returned to golf at the 2010 Masters in April, but his marriage was over and his divorce with former model Elin Nordegren was granted in August. His game had clearly suffered during the turmoil and his return to the top took three years.

Last week, Woods announced that he was dating US ski star Lindsey Vonn, and this weekend's tournament seems to have confirmed his return to form.

"The first step in the process was getting healthy. Once I got there, then my game turned," Woods said. "I've won six times on the tour the last couple years. That's not bad."

Woods also claimed his 77th PGA Tour victory - his 99th professional victory - in his final tune-up event for next month's Masters.

The Monday finish followed a severe thunder storm on Sunday that postponed the fourth round. The storm swept across the Bay Hill Club & Lodge course with gusting winds toppling trees and television towers.

Woods and playing partner Fowler began on the third hole Monday and Woods quickly set the tone with birdies on a pair of par-fives.

He finished on 18 with a bogey but it was enough to reach 13-under 275, giving him the win and propelling him the Number One spot for the first time since October 2010.

"I am getting back to winning golf tournaments," Woods said. "I won some golf tournaments the last couple years so consequently I moved up."

Runner-up Justin Rose fired a two-under 70 to finish at 11-under while Fowler stumbled down the stretch, closing with a one-over 73 as he plummeted to a four-way tie for third at eight-under 280.

Fowler finished alongside Mark Wilson (71), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (72) and Keegan Bradley (71).

Woods, who has won six times in his last 20 tournaments, attributes his recent success to learning how to juggle his family life with golf.

"It was a lot easier to work on the game and make all those changes when I was younger," he said Monday. "Having family responsibilities changes things. Trying to find the time to do it tests your time-management skills.

"I had to work differently. It was going to have to be done in short bursts. But I wouldn't trade it. My two little ones are the most important thing in my life."

Woods has now won 51 times in 55 tries when holding the lead entering the final round and is five wins shy of matching Sam Snead's all-time record on the PGA Tour.

He and Snead are also the only players to win the same tournament eight times with Snead doing it at the Greater Greensboro Open. -AFP

Thai Kiradech and Malaysia’s Gavin steal limelight in KLGCC

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 06:20 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Malaysia's budding amateur Gavin Kyle Green provided the cheers in the rain-hit Maybank Malaysian Open at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club last weekend.

Kiradech, Thailand's 24-year-old rising star, led from Day One to win the US$2.75mil event and seal his place in history as the youngest winner on the European Tour this year. It was his second career win but one which will see him smiling all the way to the bank with a US$458,330 cheque.

The 19-year-old Gavin, on the other hand, was one of the three Malaysians to make the cut for the final round in the tournament which was shortened to 54 holes.

The other two were Danny Chia and S. Murthy.

Gavin's performance has given hopes of a Malaysian lifting the Seagram Trophy in the future.

Quite a number of golfers who saw Gavin in action had good things to say of him and felt that he could be a champion in the making.

Of course the question is whether the youngster can go on to fulfil his potential and in the process provide a local winner of the trophy long envisaged by the golfing fraternity in Malaysia.

Gavin was awarded the best Malaysian-finisher trophy at the prize giving ceremony and was praised by the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who also predicted a bright future for him.

"I think he is a good player and is the next big hope for Malaysian golf. He might very well be our future Malaysian Open winner and the next Tiger Woods," said Tan Sri Muhyiddin

Gavin will return to the United States on Monday with a wealth of experience as he continues to represent his college team.

However, big hitting Kiradech was the story of the day as he battled the weather and illness to beat a star-studded field.

Despite having to battle the elements and a thyroid problem, the 23-year-old showed he can measure up to the best in the competition as he outduelled Major winners such as South Africa's Charl Schwartzel and Ireland's Padraig Harrington as well as Ryder Cup star Edoardo Molinari of Italy.

The win propelled Kiradech to the top of the Asian Tour's Order of Merit – a position he is determined to be in when the season comes to a close at the end of the year.

"It's the Tour (Asian Tour) where I was born. I'm going to be 24 this year and I've got another 20 years to play.

"I'll try to win as many tournaments as I can. I've three Tours to play on now (Asian Tour, Japan Tour, European Tour) but my focus will be to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit," said Kiradech

"I'll try to win a Major event. I cannot say when but I'll try my best. I just play for fun. I don't have any routine. I will train hard and as usual aim to win whatever tournaments I take part in," he added

Dubbed Asia's John Daly due to his physique and style of play the Thai does not mind the comparison.

"I'm happy with the name, John Daly of Asia. He won a Major event and I'm proud someone has called me that. It will good if I actually win a Major as that is my main aim now."

The Thai will also be making his maiden appearance at the US Open after he won a place from the Asian International Final Qualifying round earlier in Thailand this month.

Kiradech's quick rise since his amateur days where he was crowned World Junior Champion on two occasions can be credited to the unity and close bond he shares with his compatriots.

"The Thai pro golfers stay together like a family. Boonchu Ruangkit, Thaworn Wiratchant, Prom Meesawat and Thongchai Jaidee all provide valuable advice to the younger golfers in Thailand," said Kiradech.

India's Gaganjeet Bhullar, meanwhile, slipped to second place on the Order of Merit after missing the cut in Malaysia while China's Liang Wen-chong is in third place after his season's haul of US$175,909.

The Asian Tour will travel to Thailand for the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT which will be held at the Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai from March 28-31.

Emirates happy to be part of Open for eighth straight year

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 03:28 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Emirates, the official airline of the Maybank Malaysian Open for the eighth consecutive year, was proud to host the Emirates Junior Golf Clinic last weekend to reiterate its commitment and support for golf in Malaysia right down to the grassroots level.

Fifteen lucky children comprising young golfers from Kelab Golf Perkhidmatan Awam and Royal Selangor Golf Club were treated to a coaching session with American professional golfer Jason Knutzon.

Apart from sharing the fundamental basics in golf like putting, chipping and bunker shot – Knutzon shared tips on how to become a successful golfer. He also taught them techniques of gripping a club properly, ensuring good alignment and posture and playing with a positive attitude.

A nine-year-old junior golfer, Grace Chin Jun Li, was ecstatic to be part of the junior golf clinic, as it is the first one with a professional golfer: "It was truly exciting to meet Jason Knutzon and play golf with a great sportsman. I've learned so much in just one hour."


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

G.I. Joe Retaliation ticket giveaway

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 01:14 AM PDT

Framed for crimes against the country, the G.I. Joe team is terminated by the President's order, and the surviving team members face off against Zartan, his accomplices, and the world leaders he has under his influence.

We have 20 pairs of complimentary passes to G.I. Joe Retaliation to give to eCentral Facebook fans.

Like us on our FB page at and watch out for this and other contest give aways.

G.I. Joe Retaliation opens in cinemas nationwide on 28 March.

Read about Korean star Lee Byung-hun who stars in G.I. Joe Retaliation here.

Ekin Cheng stars in period war drama Saving General Yang

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 01:10 AM PDT

FOUR of Asia's hottest male stars – Ekin Cheng, Wu Chun, Vic Chou and Yu Bo – will be in town on March 31 to promote the upcoming period war drama Saving General Yang.

Directed by Ronnie Yu (Fearless), the movie is based on the Chinese literary classic Generals Of The Yang Family, which focuses on the renowned Yang clan led by patriarch Yang Ye (played by Adam Cheng).

In Saving General Yang, General Yang's seven sons set off on a mission to rescue their father, who has been captured by their enemy, the Liaos.

Cheng, Wu, Chou and Yu, who play four of the seven Yang brothers, will be holding court at a private fan gathering at Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur at 4.30pm. They will then head to the Centre Court, Pavilion KL, at 7.30pm for a meet-the-fans session, prior to attending the gala premiere of Saving General Yang at GSC Pavilion KL at 9pm.

Saving General Yang is distributed by Lotus Five Star, and will open on April 4.

For more information, visit marketing partner RAM Entertainment's website ( or Facebook page (

A remake of Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rebecca' on the horizon

Posted: 24 Mar 2013 09:08 PM PDT has revealed that the Dane Nikolaj Arcel will direct a new version of the first American movie by master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock for Dreamworks studios.

Nikolaj Arcel (pic), who caught audiences' attention with his historical drama A Royal Affair which was nominated for the 2013 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, has been chosen to direct the Rebecca remake.

The original was directed by Alfred Hitchcock who won the Best Picture Oscar for it in 1941. The gothic tale is an adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier novel of the same name about a dead woman named Rebecca who haunts her husband, his new wife and their staff a year after her death.

The screenplay for the new version will be written by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises). So far, no names have been mentioned to suggest which actors might follow in the footsteps of Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson.



The Star Online: Nation

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Philippines, Muslim rebels agree to expedite talks

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 08:40 AM PDT

MANILA: After postponing the 37th round of formal exploratory talks on Monday, the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim rebel group in the country, agreed to meet again for the formal peace negotiation in the second week of April, China's Xinhua news agency reported. Instead of holding the formal talks, both parties held a " special meeting" in Malaysia on Monday, they said in a joint statement signed by government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and her MILF counterpart Mohagher Iqbal. "The special meeting...ended with a firm commitment of the two parties to continue the talks in an expeditious manner," they said.

During the special meeting, the government and the MILF discussed the composition of the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) and the Independent Commission on Policing (ICP), the convening of the Transition Commission in the first week of April 2013, and the Terms of Reference of the Task Force Sajahatra Bangsamoro.

Should the formal talks push through, they could have discussed the remaining three annexes - the power-sharing, wealth-sharing, and normalization - of the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro, Xinhua reported.

Both parties inked last month the annex on transitional arrangements and modalities.

The four annexes will form part of the comprehensive peace agreement that will pave the road for the creation of a Bangsamoro entity to replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and will end the four decades armed struggle in southern Philippines. - Bernama

Lahad Datu: PM - Some residents in Sabah's conflict area to be resettled

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 08:11 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will be launching an initiative to resettle people living in several locations in eastern Sabah to maintain public safety, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said on Monday.

The move was decided on after realising that the vulnerability of several settlements to the easy entry of illegal immigrants and stateless persons was the primary cause of the Sulu terrorist intrusion in Lahad Datu and other parts of eastern Sabah, he said.

He said that the initiative, under Part III of the Preservation of Public Security Regulations 2013, enabled the Government to resettle any individual or a group of people, particularly any individual or a group of people who were illegal immigrants or stateless persons, in a safe and suitable area determined by the Government.

"It must be emphasised here that the decision to resettle any individual or a group of people is for the sake of maintaining public security.

"In undertaking this resettlement, the Government will take into consideration the safety and well-being of not only the people to be resettled but also the people already living in the designated area of resettlement," he said at the parade in conjunction with the 206th Police Day at the Police Training Centre (Pulapol), here.

Najib said discussions would be held with the district, native or village chiefs on all aspects of the resettlement, including the people's source of livelihood.

The Prime Minister said that to preserve and protect the people's fundamental rights and uphold the rule of law, the Government would ensure that the resettlement did not prevent any aggrieved citizen in the designated area from challenging the Government's decision or exercising his or her right as a voter in any parliamentary or state election.

"Realising that the resettlement would involve Malaysians, either as those to be resettled or those already living in the area of resettlement, the Government will help those citizens whose rights under the Federal Constitution have been undermined by such resettlement," he said.

The Prime Minister said the Government would provide a safe place to live and ensure that adequate facilities were available for maintenance of public health, medical services and sanitation, besides opportunities for education and employment.

The Government would also cooperate with any domestic or foreign organisation to make available training and equipment, if necessary, to enable the resettled people to start life anew, he said.

"The Government realises that the decision on the resettlement has a major impact on the future of those involved.

"Migration to a new place involves getting adapted to a new environment," he said.

He also said that the initiative would be beneficial to those already living in the area of resettlement because the Government would implement programmes necessary for their well-being.

The Prime Minister said the resettlement initiative might be extended to the rest of Sabah when it was felt that the situation was right to do so.

"Although the resettlement initiative is now confined to eastern Sabah, it does not mean that western Sabah is being neglected.

"The need for safety is now more pressing in the east," he said.

He also said that the Government had never doubted the loyalty of Malaysian citizens of Suluk descent. - Bernama

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Lahad Datu: Mum, kids killed in shootout
Lahad Datu: Top Sulu commander held
Lahad Datu: PM announces formation of Eastern Sabah Safety Zone
Lahad Datu: PM - Some residents in Sabah's conflict area to be resettled
Lahad Datu: Gunmen in smaller groups, lure our men and start fight, says Zulkifeli
Lahad Datu: Security forces nab two key figures of Sulu terror group
Lahad Datu: Armed Forces chief - Tanduo village leaders to assess homes, farms by Tuesday
Lahad Datu: Deputy IGP - GE13 can be held even if Ops Daulat continues

Lahad Datu: "Bullets were flying, we were 10m from the enemy"

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 08:10 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: With a dead colleague beside him, Corporal Mohamad Asrul Osman was determined to stay on as his team came under heavy attack by Sulu gunmen in Lahad Datu on March 1.

"My only thoughts then was help from Allah and with that I shouted out "Allahuakbar", with a strong belief that it would shield me from enemy bullets," said Mohamad Asrul, 33, of the Police's VAT 69 commandos.

The body beside him was that of Sergeant Sabaruddin Daud, 46. Also killed in the incident was ASP Zulkifli Mamat.

"During the attack, I was down on my stomach with Sabaruddin beside me. We were only about 10m from the enemy.

"There were hail of bullets. I didn't know that Sabaruddin was hit and only realised it when I wanted to move away from that position and tapped him on the shoulder. There was no response," he told Bernama on Monday during the Police Day celebrations.

He said they were under attack for about an hour during which his ear lobe was injured.

"I was sad to see my colleague dead, but it did not deter me from continuing to fight for my country," he added.

Fifteen enemies were killed in the incident.

Mohamad Asrul said flashes of what happened on that day kept crossing his mind.

He said it was his first experience being involved in a fight with terrorists.

"It taught me to be more courageous and be willing to die for the country," he added.

Mohamad Asrul said he joined the commando unit in 2003 and the intrusion in Lahad Datu gave him a better insight on the attack by the communist insurgents, which he had only read in books.

"I now know how it feels to be really on a battle field," he said.

Related Stories:
Lahad Datu: Hard to tell gunmen and villagers apart, says army veteran
Lahad Datu: Mum, kids killed in shootout
Lahad Datu: Top Sulu commander held
Lahad Datu: PM announces formation of Eastern Sabah Safety Zone
Lahad Datu: PM - Some residents in Sabah's conflict area to be resettled
Lahad Datu: Gunmen in smaller groups, lure our men and start fight, says Zulkifeli
Lahad Datu: Security forces nab two key figures of Sulu terror group
Lahad Datu: Armed Forces chief - Tanduo village leaders to assess homes, farms by Tuesday
Lahad Datu: Deputy IGP - GE13 can be held even if Ops Daulat continues


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Contractors putting motorists at risk

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 05:47 AM PDT

For some time now I have noticed that the Malaysian public have been given a raw deal when it comes to public safety and convenience in respect of the many roadworks that are being carried out in various parts of the Klang Valley.

The people who should be held accountable are the contractors responsible for the roadworks.

If we look around the Klang Valley and beyond today, we see that many roadworks are being carried out by contractors who do not show much concern for the safety of the public and road users.

Barricades have been put up, but outside the barricaded area, the road condition is in a highly deplo-rable state, with potholes left unattended.

These contractors should be made responsible for patching up these potholes for the convenience and safety of road users.

Furthermore, the barricades are not lighted up at night and during a downpour, driving can be risky.

There are also inadequate signs or signals to alert motorists of the possible hazards when driving along roads where construction works are going on.

The MRT construction activities that are now taking place in various parts of the city have also posed safety problems. The digging operations are the cause of underground burst pipes.

There are also contractors carrying out road digging works for utility companies who are very shoddy in their temporary reinstatement works.

To begin with, when roadworks commence, the contractor's workers tend to occupy as much of the road as possible.

The work site is untidy and very often, warning lights are not installed at night.

During the rainy season these work sites pose a danger to the public and accidents have occurred because of the lack of safety measures to warn motorists of the works in progress.

What is most regrettable is after the cabling work has been completed, the temporary reins­tatement is very poorly done giving rise to potholes and bumpy rides.

While I appreciate the fact that MRT pipe and cabling works have to be done by the relevant companies to provide services to their clients and the public, what must not be overlooked is the responsibility of their contractors to put into practice good safety and health standards at their work sites in the interest of public safety and health.

The time has come for all local authorities to tighten procedures to ensure that all roadworks by contractors are closely monitored and their work sites are clean, orderly and do not pose any danger to the public.


Kuala Lumpur

Time to act on abandoned projects in Seremban

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 05:47 AM PDT

I have read that my beloved Seremban town is going to be accorded city status sometime this year.

Being born and bred in Seremban, also known as "Fuyong" in Cantonese, I don't think I would want to live anywhere else in Malaysia but my hometown.

Seremban certainly has changed over the years. About 30 years ago, traffic jams in the town was unheard of.

It is definitely not like what we are experiencing on a daily basis now.

Furthermore, there is still a lack of parking spaces for both cars and motorcycles.

The Seremban Municipal Council had better look into this problem before that big day.

Also, so many "iconic" landmarks in town had disappeared due to the rapid development that the town experienced in the 80s.

During my schooldays, many students used to travel by bus to and from school.

The main bus terminal used to be located right in the centre of town next to the former Wearne Brothers building.

The road leading into this bus terminal was so bad that if you were coming from out of town and fell asleep on the bus you would know you have arrived at your destination.

Even our famous cartoonist Datuk Lat drew a caricature of the bumpy road in this bus terminal years ago.

Another famous bus stand was the one located between the former Malabar restaurant and the North Post Office.

It still serves as a bus stand till today.

All the yellow buses belonging to the Seremban Town Service (STS) would commence and end their journey here.

Back then, some hawkers would ply their trade around this bus stand, selling drinks and tidbits which were very popular with the schoolchildren.

Also right in the centre of town, we had the Cameron Cafe and the Wong Kee Restaurant located along the former Cameron Street.

I guess before the other newer restaurants sprang up, these two were the main venue for wedding receptions and the like.

The Cameron Cafe was unique as it had a basement which serves as a coffeeshop while the restaurant was on the upper level.

It was a wooden building built on concrete or wooden stilts.

The Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus school was another landmark in the centre of town that was demolished for development which turned out disastrously for the developer.

Today, it is an abandoned project and the area resembles a disused mining pool.

It is definitely an eyesore for those driving into Seremban town.

However, before the authorities bask in glory on the city status issue, it has to do something about some of the abandoned projects within the town limits.

One such abandoned project, which is in the way of the current development going on in the area, is the supposedly "budget hotel" located in front of the KGV school which is the site of the former SK Rahang.

The relevant authorities are constructing a new flyover linking to another massive project being carried out on the KTM land.

This abandoned project is definitely in the way of the road expansion project along Jalan Rasah.

I wonder if there are any legislation which would allow the authorities to demolish abandoned projects if they stood in the way of development?




The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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Dads who do the dishes, hang out with kids may have happier marriages

Posted: 25 Mar 2013 01:34 AM PDT

A new US study finds that the best way for parents to tackle the daily chores is simple: do them together, all while spending quality time with the kids.

"We found that it didn't matter who did what, but how satisfied people were with the division of labour," says Brigham Young University professor and lead researcher Erin Holmes.

"We found that when wives are doing work together with their husbands, they are more satisfied with the division of labour."

A research team from University of Missouri and Utah State University studied how 160 couples handled housework and child-rearing duties, to see what contributed to the quality of the marriage.

Interestingly, the most significant factor was whether or not dads spent time with their children.

"For women, dad having a good relationship with the kids means that dad and mom are probably going to have a better relationship," Holmes says. "Something as simple as reading a book with your children every night and talking with them about their day can really go a long way," adds study co-author Adam Galovan.

Previous research by Holmes shows that both husbands and wives dramatically increase their household tasks during the transition to parenthood.

Typically dads do twice as much housework after the first baby arrives, but moms do about five times more housework than before.

That division of labour could cause some friction in the relationship, but Holmes advises that couples could merge their to-do lists, whether it's dishes, laundry or bedtime stories. And dads should be aware that when they strengthen bonds with their kids, everyone wins, he adds.

In a separate study, researchers from the University of British Columbia found that fathers who do household chores and have egalitarian views about gender have daughters with higher career ambitions than less egalitarian fathers do.

The new study, announced Thursday, is published in the Journal of Family Issues. -- AFPRelaxnews


The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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GE13; Pulai’s residential and commercial properties are in demand

Posted: 24 Mar 2013 09:01 PM PDT

JOHOR BARU: Since its inception as the country's first economic growth corridor seven years ago, Pulai has tranformed into one of the fastest growing areas within Iskandar Malaysia.

Developers with property developments projects in and around Pulai are laughing all the way to the banks as their residential and commercial properties are being snapped up by buyers.

Housing estates like Taman Perling, Bukit Indah, Taman Sutera, Taman Sutera Utama, Taman Nusa Bistari, Taman Nusa Duta are popular among Singaporeans who owned houses here as the estates are near to the Second Link Crossing.

Local house owners are also happy as their properties have appreciated of the years and those who lease their properties also make good money.

Progress and development in Iskandar Malaysia is bringing mixed feelings to residents in Pulai parliamentary and state seats of Pengkalan Rinting and Kempas.

Housewife Nor Huda Ramli, 54, who bought a house in Taman Perling for RM75,000 about 30 years ago, recently saw it been valued at RM250,000.

"A decade or two, nobody will not want to stay in Taman Perling as the area was famous with the traffic jam but now, houses here are on good demand,'' she said.

Nor Huda said the upgrading of the Perling Highway from a four-lane road into a six-dual carriageway has improved connectivity and accessibility into the area.

She also hoped that her two children now studying in a local public university and in the United Kingdom to come to Johor as look for jobs in Iskandar.

Businessman Chua Chee Keong, 56, said progress and development Iskandar has created economic spills-over to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) like him.

"We are looking forward to benefit from the influx of domestic and foreign investors into Iskandar as the SMEs could provide the support services for big companies,'' he said.

Chua said the SMEs still needed continous support from the Federal and Johor Governments such as incentive to stay relevant in the ever changing landscapes taking place in Iskandar.

However, shop assistant K. Rathia, 19, who stays at Taman Dahlia said cost of living here, had gone up and for a low-income earner like her, it was a struggle to make ends meet every month.

As the only breadwinner in her family, her RM1,300 salary was barely enough for her to save for rainy days as most of the money was spent on groceries and servicing her car loan.

Meanwhile, housewife Anne Ng, 59, reminiscences the good old days where Lido beach was a popular picnic spot for locals and visitors on weekends and public holidays.

"But, when Danga Bay comes along, it has taken away the good atmosphere of the old Lido Beach,'' she said.

Ng said there used to be tennis courts and recreational parks for joggers near the beach area but also have been demolished in the name of development.

She said the people were not against development taking place in Iskandar but it must be done in a more holistic way taking into account the welfare of the locals.

Ng lamented that the Government wanted Malaysians to lead a healthy lifestyle but at the same time were denied areas or spaces for them to engage in healthy activities.

She also hoped that the local councils which oversee the areas in Pulai to conduct regular checks at open air eateries in the constituency as the standard of hygiene was low.

For civil servant Taufiq Sidiqi Abdul Rahman, 28, lack of parking areas and inefficient public transportation system were the two problems that needed immediate attention from the relevant authorities.

He said finding an empty car parking space in the town centre during peak hours and on weekends was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

"Don't blame the motorists for indiscriminiateley parking their vehicles at the sides of the main road, as there are not enough parking space,'' said Taufiq.

A proprietor of computer repair shop S. Logesh, 24, in Taman Tampoi Indah II, is more concerned if the crime rate in the area.

He said Taman Tampoi Indah II, was a hot spot for crime activities and blamed them due to the large presence of drug addicts and foreigners living in the area.

"When I first opened my shop two years ago, most of my friend were against the idea of me choosing to this place,'' said Logesh.

He said although the crime rate had reduced in the area due to the regular patrolling by the police, more could be done to ensure residents and business operators were not "living in fear".

Stall owner Asmardi Muhammad, 35, urged the relevant authorities to deepen the drains along Jalan Ayer Molek here to avoid flash floods that have been occurring frequently.

He said the flash flood has been ongoing for more that 20 years and every time it happens, it causes inconveniences to road users as well as businesses operating in the area.

"Get to the bottom of the problem and please solve the problem for once and for all,'' said Asmardi.

The Pulai parliamentary is one of Johor's largest constituencies with 99,542 voters and is expected to be hotly contested in the coming general election.

Roubini: Southeast Asia faces volatile growth

Posted: 24 Mar 2013 08:21 PM PDT

THERE will be a rise among middle class with strong capital spending and more demand for construction as infrastructure is a much needed element with Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines showing stable growth, said renowned economist Nouriel Roubini.

Speaking to delegates at the Datum Economic Forum 2013 (DEF'13), Roubini who was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers two years running said Southeast Asia has shown signs of growth in volatile economic conditions and has predicted that Southeast Asia will continue to flourish despite global economic uncertainty.

According to his profile, Roubini is the co-founder and chairman of Roubini Global Economics, an independent, global macroeconomic strategy research firm.

He is also a professor of economics at New York University's Stern School of Business and has extensive policy experience as well as broad academic credentials.

From 1998 to 2000, he served as the senior economist for international affairs on the White House Council of Economic Advisors and then the senior advisor to the undersecretary for international affairs at the US Treasury Department, helping to resolve the Asian and global financial crises, among other issues.

The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and numerous other prominent public and private institutions have drawn upon his consulting expertise.

The firm's website,, has been named one of the best economics web resources by BusinessWeek, Forbes, Wall Street Journal and The Economist.

He is also a professor of economics at New York University's Stern School of Business.

While Roubini's company was incorporated in 2004, the original idea for it gained worldwide attention starting in 1997 during the Asian financial crisis, according to his website. Roubini, an economics professor at NYU's Stern School of Business at that time, felt dissatisfied with the avenues open to economists to discuss and react to the crisis.

So he launched a website that quickly became the go-to destination for policy leaders and top researchers. By 1999, Asia's crisis had subsided, but The Economist honoured Roubini's "Monitor" as the #1 Economics website in the world.

DEF'13 is a world class conference that brought together policy makers, business and industry leaders who shared insights on the current scenario as well as the future challenges while providing dependable solutions on how to overcome some of the challenges.

The forum which intended to highlight pertinent issues in the pursuit of enriching livelihood took place on March 1 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Themed "Building Communities and Enriching Lives", DEF'13 was organised by Datumcorp International as part of its role in developing the Selangor's economy mainly through high-end property development that translates to inflow of investments and foreign-direct investment (FDI) into the state and the country.

It is supported by EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Ideas Malaysia and the forum was officiated by Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

Datumcorp International (DCI) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS).

DCI is involved in strategic and high quality initiatives stretching to global platform. DCI positions itself as world class organisation with major focus in high value development both locally and internationally.

Through series of client engagement programs, DCI takes the first step of organising DEF'13 to gather the world's best economic think tanks under one roof and address issues pertinent to nation building and regional growth.

Fruitful partnership

In other news, PKNS Infra Bhd (PIB), a subsidiary of Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) recently signed a memorandum of understanding with China Railway Construction Corporation (International) Limited through its local partner CRCC Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

The MoU between PIB and CRCC Malaysia will establish a close collaboration between the parties in construction and and the housing industry.

The MoU is expected to be a milestone for both parties to go further on board with more formal and definitive legal scripture and explore not in construction arena alone but for other businesses which are beneficial to both parties locally and internationally.

Currently, PIB and CRCC Malaysia are looking forward to work with Datumcorp International on a few series of mega development projects with the estimated Gross Development Value (GDV) of RM14bil.

Among the projects are Datum In-City, Datum Edu-City, Datum SACC and Datum Bangi.

Johor tops list under Kar1sma distribution

Posted: 24 Mar 2013 08:22 PM PDT

MUAR: The Government has distributed a total of RM3.4mil to some 17,000 needy people in Johor under its 1Malaysia Peoples Welfare or Kar1sma programme.

State Women, Family, Health and Community Development Committee chairman Dr Robia Kosai said the cash aid of RM200 for each family would be disbursed before March 31.

She said Johor was among the top state to receive the most allocation from the RM50mil allocated by the Government for its Kar1sma programme.

Every needy family in the peninsula receives RM200, a one-off payment in the form of voucher while families in Sabah and Sarawak receive RM300 voucher.

This voucher enables them to buy essential items, including school needs, at selective shopping outlets and cannot be sold or transferred to other parties, she said when launching the programme here recently.

Dr Robia said among those who were eligible for the aid are poor people, handicapped as well as mentally challenged people, and old folks who are poor.

She said the vouchers were distributed to representatives from all 26 parliamentary areas in Johor who would distribute them among the recipients in their areas.

"We have directed the representatives from the parliamentary areas to disburse the vouchers fast as they are valid until March 31", she added.


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