Selasa, 2 April 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Like a boss

Posted: 03 Apr 2013 05:27 AM PDT

Some TV personalities think too much of themselves or their programmes.

THERE are so many bosses around these days – on television, that is – that it's easy to get confused over who's the "boss" of what show, especially since most of them seem to involve cooking.

The reality programmes Cake Boss and Kitchen Boss (both on TLC) revolve around the life of Buddy Valastro, a self-taught baker who runs the successful family-owned Carlo's Bakery in New Jersey, the United States. Valastro's programmes often show him and his siblings fighting over something trivial, or his siblings and the kitchen staff arguing over something ridiculous. Everything ends on a happy note, though, plus some of the cakes and pastries they come up with look really amazing.

The bakery is also always filled with customers, which is an indication of just how successful – and not to mention popular (Valastro has said before that the reality shows more than doubled the company's business) – Carlo's Bakery is.

This week, Valastro has another show premiering on TLC. Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker, which kicks off today at 7pm, sees 13 cake "artists" who will compete against each other for the grand prize of US$100,000 (RM300,000). Apart from that, the winner will also get to have his/her story featured in a magazine, and work side-by-side with Valastro and his crew at the bakery.

It may be a bit much for some people to see the same person appear in three different shows every week, but since Valastro is a charming guy, it's actually not too bad. Unlike the other self-proclaimed "boss" on TV, chef Bruce Lim of The Boss (Asian Food Channel), who is by far one of today's most arrogant personalities on television.

Okay, so it may be quite a stretch to describe him as such, but Lim does come off as arrogant and a know-it-all on his show. He's also not that natural when it comes to hosting; everything he says sounds scripted and it's not a good script to begin with.

One show with a really good script, however, is Boss. And it has nothing to do with cooking or food.

Instead, Boss (HBO) trails the life of Tom Kane, the mayor of Chicago, Illinois who suffers from a degenerative neurological disorder. He doesn't tell anyone about it, though, because he does not want to lose his power, and feels that there are still a lot of things for him to do while in office. Only his doctor knows about his medical problem, but slowly his family members begin to suspect something amiss.

Multiple Emmy Award-winner Kelsey Grammer plays Kane, an intimidating man who truly believes that he can change the world, even if he has to take a handful of pills daily to combat his illness. If you are used to seeing Grammer in comedic roles – in Cheers, Frasier, Back To You, Hank, Mr St Nick – it may take a while to get used to watching him play it straight.

Sure, he was quite serious as Dr Frasier Crane (his most popular role in Cheers and Frasier), too, but nowhere near as formidable as Kane in Boss.

One character that has no boss is Nikita, of ... Nikita (Ntv7 and Warner TV on HyppTV). Nikita is a rogue agent who's main goal in life is to take down the agency that trained her to become the assassin that she is today. The show is loosely based on the film Nikita, which had a previous TV edition called La Femme Nikita that starred Peta Wilson. Maggie Q plays the titular role in this new version, and while she had a rocky start – her acting was so bad that it got quite annoying – the actress has since vastly improved. So much so that Nikita is now in its third season, which is what Warner TV/HyppTV is currently showing.

(HyppTV is also showing the Oscar-winning Argo via its video-on-demand package, so if you've been dying to watch this movie, then here's your chance to catch it.)

By the way, has anyone noticed anything new on Fox? A few weeks ago, the channel ran promotional clips about how "a new Fox" was coming. Apart from the station IDs that feature Jennifer Lopez, Cote D'Pablo and some other actors expressing their love for Fox, there's really nothing much happening on the channel. At least, nothing that's obvious to a couch potato like me.

How cool would it be to watch Who's The Boss all over again? Tweet us (@MyStarTwo) what other retro shows you'd like to watch on TV.

Green and mean

Posted: 03 Apr 2013 05:25 AM PDT

Arrow hits the bullseye with a multi-layered storyline and eye-popping, jaw-stopping fast-paced action scenes.

FACT is, Green Arrow is not as famous as, say, Superman. It's not even a stretch to say that most non comic book readers don't even know much about this guy, let alone his origin.

In that sense, show creators Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim have the advantage of starting on a clean slate when coming up with the new series Arrow.

It revolves around Oliver Queen, a billionaire's son who wears a green hooded outfit to fight criminals and is adept with the bow and arrow. (Strangely, no one has yet referred to him as Green Arrow on the show. Modern-day Robin Hood is the closest moniker he's got so far.)

Our hero had been stranded on a remote island for five years only to return to civilisation with an awesome physique, a deadly skill with a bow and a mission in hand.

As the series progresses, we discover there is nothing simple about the transformation of this spoilt brat into a vigilante bent on taking down the people who are hurting his city.

What is immediately interesting about this guy – played with great intensity by Stephen Amell – is not that there is anything super about his superpower (his skills are honed the old-fashioned way) but that he has no qualms about actually killing baddies.

After years of watching Clark Kent struggle with keeping his strength in check (10 seasons' worth of Smallville), even when dealing with the vile Lex Luthor, it's shocking to see a protagonist break another man's neck with the single purpose of taking the bad guy out of the equation. Doesn't Batman usually maim his enemies to stop them or throw them into Arkham Asylum?

Well, it's safe to say that Queen is not a conventional hero so one can never guess the extent of his actions to uphold his mission.

Even when the body count is kept to a minimum, Queen shows he's not to be trifled with. He beats up a guy to a pulp on pure instinct.

In a series of flashbacks, it is shown how Queen turns into a killer to survive both the natural and unnatural elements on the island.

This grey area makes a strong foundation for the series. So, kudos to the writers for attacking it straight on.

The series gives the audience two sides of justice – Queen working outside the law on one end as well as a dedicated district attorney (Katie Cassidy) and an intelligent police detective (Paul Blackthorne) working within the system to bring down the same men Queen is.

While swift justice is understandable and necessary at times, the law exists for a reason.

The series also immediately deals with a big question mark – the hooded vigilante's appearance coincides perfectly with the return of Queen from the island.

Any person with a brain can put the two together to come up with one conclusion. (Yes, I do have a big problem with Superman and the damn spectacles as disguise). This subplot is quite conveniently handled, but the suspicion is planted in some people's minds.

Undoubtedly, there are all these earnest topics in the show, including the less interesting family and romance drama.

However, the real cool (really, really awesome) thing about Arrow is the action sequences and watching Amell workout on the show (seriously, he'd make a great poster boy for workout classes).

Amell is immediately likeable as Queen, ably selling a man who juggles being a bad boy in an expensive designer suit and then swings into full-action mode, fighting crime in the green outfit.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the women in the show – each and every one of them is annoying, especially Queen's sister. Teenage drama much?

Arrow hooks you with all the action, and in scenes flashback, it introduces Queen's mentor on the island, which promises to up the action even more.

The show also offers nail-biting cliffhangers – into its fifth episode and it still manages to provide gripping endings that makes us wish next week would come sooner.

Other subplots involve the group of criminals in Starling City, one of which was overseen by Queen's late father, and is now taken over by his mother.

Then, there is the mystery of the island itself – the island is shown as a port for some smugglers whose leader is interested in Yao Fei (Byron Mann). Unfortunately, some of these subplots work, while the others don't.

Nonetheless, Arrow does make us want to find out more about the man underneath the green hood.

Hello, Oliver Queen, it's very nice to meet you.

n Arrow is shown on Warner TV (HyppTV Ch 613) every Monday at 9pm. Share your opinion with us via email at or tweet us at @MyStarTwo.


The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

U.N. overwhelmingly approves global arms trade treaty

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 07:03 PM PDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the first treaty on the global arms trade, which seeks to regulate the $70 billion business in conventional arms and keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers.

Delegates to the United Nations General Assembly applaud the passage of the first UN treaty regulating the international arms trade in conventional arms at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, April 2, 2013. REUTERS/Devra Berkowitz/United Nations/Handout

Delegates to the United Nations General Assembly applaud the passage of the first UN treaty regulating the international arms trade in conventional arms at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, April 2, 2013. REUTERS/Devra Berkowitz/United Nations/Handout

The National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful U.S. pro-gun lobbying group that has opposed the treaty from the start, said it was a sad day for the United States, which joined the vast majority of U.N. member states by voting for the pact.

Iran, Syria and North Korea cast the sole votes against the treaty. The same three states last week prevented a treaty-drafting conference at U.N. headquarters from reaching the required consensus to adopt the pact.

The official U.N. tally showed 154 votes in favour, three against 23 abstentions, though diplomats and U.N. officials said the actual vote was 155-3-22. They said Angola was recorded as having abstained, though it had attempted to vote yes.

Iran, which is under a U.N. arms embargo over its nuclear program, is eager to ensure its arms imports and exports are not curtailed, while Syria's government is embroiled in a two-year civil war and relies on arms from Russia and Iran, envoys said.

North Korea is also under a U.N. arms embargo due to its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the vote, saying the treaty "will help to keep warlords, pirates, terrorists, criminals and their like from acquiring deadly arms."

The treaty will be open for signature on June 3 and will enter into force 90 days after the 50th signatory ratifies it. Mexican U.N. Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba told reporters it normally takes two to three years for a treaty to come into force, but said he hoped it would happen sooner in this case.

Major arms producers China and Russia joined Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and other countries in abstaining. Although a significant number of countries abstained, putting the treaty to a General Assembly vote was the only way its supporters could get it adopted after the treaty conference collapsed last week.


Many of the countries that abstained, among them India, complained the treaty favoured exporting over importing states. Russia said Moscow would take a hard look at the treaty before deciding whether to sign it.

Several delegates told Reuters the treaty's effectiveness would be limited if major arms exporters refused to sign it.

The United States, the world's No. 1 arms exporter, voted in favour of the treaty despite fierce opposition from the NRA, whose lobbying wing - the NRA Institute for Legislative Action - issued a statement condemning the U.N. vote.

"This treaty disregards the Second Amendment to our Constitution and threatens individual firearm ownership," said Chris Cox, head of the NRA-ILA. "It is a sad, yet telling, day when the president of the United States and his administration refuse to defend America's Constitution on the world stage."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement the U.N. adopted "a strong, effective and implementable Arms Trade Treaty that can strengthen global security while protecting the sovereign right of states to conduct legitimate arms trade."

"Nothing in this treaty could ever infringe on the rights of American citizens under our domestic law or the Constitution, including the Second Amendment," he added, referring to the U.S. Constitutional amendment that guarantees the right to bear arms.

The NRA has vowed to fight to prevent the treaty's ratification by the U.S. Senate when it reaches Washington.

Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari repeated that his government opposes the arms trade treaty because it does not ban the sale of weapons to non-state actors and "terrorists" like those it says are active in Syria. The civil war there has claimed at least 70,000 lives, according to U.N. estimates.

Syria routinely refers to rebels trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad as "terrorists" backed by foreign governments.

The treaty does not ban transfers to armed groups, but says all arms transfers should be subjected to rigorous risk and human rights assessments first.

British Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the vote as a "landmark agreement that will save lives and ease the immense human suffering caused by armed conflict around the world."


Mexico issued a statement on behalf of 98 U.N. member states saying, "an effective implementation of this treaty will make a real difference for the people of the world."

U.N. member states began meeting on March 18 in a final push to end years of discussions and hammer out a binding international treaty to end the lack of regulation over cross-border conventional arms sales.

Arms control activists and rights groups have said a treaty was needed to halt the uncontrolled flow of arms and ammunition that they say fuels wars, atrocities and rights abuses.

The Arms Trade Treaty aims 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 that arms will not be used in human rights abuses, terrorism or violations of humanitarian law.

"The agreement of the Arms Trade Treaty sends a clear message to arms dealers who supply warlords and dictators that their time is up," said Anna Macdonald of the global development group Oxfam.

The main reason the arms trade talks took 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 a treaty.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Blow to Serbia's EU bid as Kosovo talks end without result

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 05:33 PM PDT

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Crunch talks aimed at ending the ethnic partition of Serbia's former Kosovo province broke up without result on Wednesday, in a major setback for Serbia's hopes of starting European Union membership negotiations this year.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci (R) arrives for a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic (unseen) and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (unseen) in Brussels April 2, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci (R) arrives for a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic (unseen) and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (unseen) in Brussels April 2, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has been mediating months of talks between Serbia and Kosovo, said the gap between the two sides was "very narrow, but deep" after a marathon 12-hour session.

Ashton said the Brussels meeting, the eighth between the prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo, was the last time all sides would meet formally with EU mediation. The talks have been aimed at "normalising ties" five years after Kosovo declared independence with the backing of the West.

"They will now both go back and consult with their colleagues in their capitals and will let me know in the next few days of their decision," Ashton said in a statement, leaving open the slim chance a deal might still be reached.

Ashton will issue a progress report in mid-April, which will form the basis of an EU decision in June whether to launch membership talks with Serbia - a crucial stimulus for reform and signal of stability for investors looking to the biggest economy in the former Yugoslavia.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after NATO went to war to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanian civilians during a brutal Serbian counter-insurgency campaign in what was then a Serbian province.

Serbia does not recognise the secession, but is under pressure from the West to establish functional relations with Kosovo and loosen its grip on a northern, Serb-populated pocket of the young country.

The de facto ethnic partition between Kosovo's Albanian majority and the ethnic Serb north has been at the heart of the Brussels dialogue and stands in the way of Serbia's further progress towards EU membership.

Both Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and his Kosovo counterpart, former guerrilla commander Hashim Thaci, said there was still time left.

"This isn't the end; there will be more talks in Belgrade," Dacic told reporters. "We have some more time to reach a solution and to gather our thoughts after these long talks."

Thaci mooted the possibility of another meeting next week, "if Serbia accepts the principles," although he did not elaborate where the talks might take place or under whose auspices.

"We hope they will use the time in the coming days for sincere reflection," Thaci told reporters. "I remain hopeful an agreement can be reached."

In a major concession as it seeks the economic boost of closer EU ties, Serbia has offered to recognise the authority of the Kosovo government over the Serb-populated north, but it wants autonomy for the 50,000 Serbs living there.

Dacic and Thaci are at odds over the powers the Serb north should wield, particularly whether it would have its own judicial system and police.

(Additional reporting and writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Four face manslaughter charges for Brazil nightclub fire

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 05:20 PM PDT

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Prosecutors charged four people with manslaughter on Tuesday for their roles in the January 27 nightclub fire that killed 241 people in southern Brazil, saying they overlooked grave safety irregularities.

The Kiss club's two owners, as well as two members of a band who lit a flare that ignited a soundproofing ceiling foam, will stand trial for manslaughter while four others face lesser charges, including for false testimony.

People inspect the Boate Kiss nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria, 187 miles (301 km) west of the state capital Porto Alegre in this handout released by the Policia Civil (Civil Police) January 29, 2013. REUTERS/Policia Civil/Handout

People inspect the Boate Kiss nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria, 187 miles (301 km) west of the state capital Porto Alegre in this handout released by the Policia Civil (Civil Police) January 29, 2013. REUTERS/Policia Civil/Handout

"They ignored what could have happened to these people for financial reasons," prosecutor Joel Dutra said of the accused.

He said the band knowingly used a cheap firework for a risky special-effects show. Police have said the crowd was over capacity and the club, in the wealthy college town of Santa Maria, should have had more exits. Most of the deaths were caused when victims inhaled toxic fumes trying to escape from the building.

Lawyers for the club owners and band members have maintained their innocence.

Brazil is facing sharp international scrutiny over safety and security issues as it prepares to host the World Cup soccer tournament in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.

(Reporting by Tatiana Ramil; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Top-ranked Serena wins WTA clay opener

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 06:21 PM PDT

CHARLESTON, South Carolina: World No. 1 Serena Williams served nine aces Tuesday during her first match this season on clay, beating Italy's Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-3 at the $795,000 WTA Family Circle Cup.

Williams did not commit a double fault but took full advantage of 12 by her 85th-ranked rival to win after 82 minutes in her first match since capturing the WTA Miami crown last Saturday by beating Maria Sharapova in the final.

"It wasn't great for me - I played well, but I wasn't great, footing-wise," Williams said of the switch from the hard courts of Miami to the clay courts of Charleston.

"I was just trying to get my stability. I only had one or two days of practice. But I felt good. I'm glad I came here and hope I can get ready for what can hopefully be another good clay court season."

Next in the path of Williams, who was among eight top seeds to receive a first-round bye, is a third-round match against either Germany's 15th-seeded Sabine Lisicki or US qualifier Mallory Burdette.

Others reaching the third round included Swiss Stefanie Voegele, who ousted Spanish seventh seed Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-4, and Romanian 11th seed Sorana Cirstea, who defeated Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues in a walkover.

US wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands rebounded from a marathon first-round victory on Monday to topple fourth-seeded compatriot Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-0 and reach the third round.

Among first-round winners were Britain's Laura Robson, who dismissed Spain's Estrella Cabeza Candela 6-2, 6-2, and New Zealand's Marina Erakovic, who eliminated Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.-AFP

Jaz in tune with Monza

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 04:40 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The itch to race again will end for Jazeman Jaafar this weekend.

The 20-year-old will make his debut in the nine-round Formula Renault 3.5 (FR3.5) World Series in Monza in Italy. And Jazeman just can't wait to get behind the wheels in a circuit that he is familiar with, having raced there when he competed in the British F3 and Formula BMW Europe. On his last visit to the Formula One track, Jazeman was on the podium with his third-place finish in the second round of the British F3.

"I enjoy racing at Monza, having had some good results there. So, it will be a good starting place for my first weekend of Formula Renault 3.5 racing," said Jazeman, who drove an F1 car as part of the demo event for the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur last month.

"The track is quite challenging but I think the weather could make it very unpredictable. If it rains, it will be very slippery.

"I'm very excited about the prospect of racing again, as it will have been nearly six months since my last one.

"I have been out testing in recent weeks, so I'm getting more familiar with the car and understanding its capabilities," added Jazeman from his London base.

Jazeman, a member of the Petronas Talent Programme, is not cowed by the prospect of racing against some F1 aspirants.

"The grid will be a mix of drivers with experience and rookies like me. I'm sure the runners from last season will be the ones to watch.

"I did quite well in testing, running comfortably in the top five. I'm certainly not racing to make up the numbers.

"I'm there to win. I'll be going all out for quick laps, consistent pace and strong racing to bring home the best results possible," he added.

Jazeman finished a creditable second overall in the British F3 last year and decided to move to the Renault FR3.5 Series, a category which features more powerful and technically advanced cars.

"I've had a busy off-season, not only with FR3.5 testing with my team Carlin but also working on my fitness. Now I'm only focused on one thing and that is my FR3.5 campaign."

The Formula Renault 3.5 Series features 17 races at nine tracks, including a support race to the Monaco round of the F1 championship.

Hafizh to get full attention from team

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 04:40 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Petronas Syntium Moto Yamaha Raceline will give biker Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah full attention when he competes in the Spanish National Championship, which begins at the end of this month.

The two-time premier class champions have decided to give this year's Petronas AAM Malaysian Cub Prix a miss as they want to channel all their resources to help 19-year-old Hafizh to a better finish in Spain.

The team finished sixth overall last season.

Said team manager Barry Leong: "Hafizh has a lot of potential to move up to the world championship.

"He still needs another term in the Spanish championship and this is a great way for us to assess his performance and decide if he is ready to make the jump."

Hafizh definitely has the talent to race on the bigger stage as shown by his performance in the Malaysian Grand Prix last year.

Racing as a wildcard rider in the Moto2 class, Hafizh stunned the sell-out crowd at the Sepang International Circuit by finishing fourth.

"We did try to run two teams (in the Spanish championship and Malaysian Cub Prix) last year.

"But this time, we feel that a 100% focus on one championship is needed and beneficial for all parties concerned," said Barry, adding that they would definitely compete in Malaysia again in the future.


The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Tenaga surges to Sept 2007 high of RM7.84

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 06:43 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday April 3, 2013 MYT 9:44:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday April 3, 2013 MYT 10:15:34 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of Tenaga Nasional surged to a high of RM7.84 in early trade on Wednesday, the highest since September 2007, on strong follow-through fund buying on an upbeat outlook for its prospects.

At 9.33am, Tenaga was up 23 sen to RM7.82. There were 5.08 million shares done at prices ranging from RM7.60 to RM7.84.

The FBM KLCI was up 6.28 points to 1,691.28. Turnover was 108.38 million shares done valued at RM187.09mil. There were 186 gainers, 107 losers and 171 stocks unchanged.

The gains on the KLCI were driven by Tenaga, which has a weight of 5.85% of the 30-stock index.

CIMB Equities Research is maintaining its Trading Buy recommendation on Tenaga Nasional with an unchanged target price of RM8.55.

It said on Wednesday Tenaga's price surged by 5.12% on Tuesday on 27 million shares traded or 4.5 times its year-to-date daily average.

"This is a positive surprise as elections may impact the stock. Even so, its prospects are bright as tariffs could rise post elections and a stabilisation fund could be created by end-2013," it said.


Tenaga advances, KLCI rallies on with eye on 1,700

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 06:18 PM PDT

Published: Wednesday April 3, 2013 MYT 9:19:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips rose in early trade on Wednesday, with Tenaga and Genting Bhd among the top gainers as the FBM KLCI extended its gains for the second day.

At 9.01am, the KLCI was up 4.86 points to 1,689.86. Turnover was 19.54 million shares valued at RM27.05mil. Advancers beat decliners with three to one, with 86 gainers to 28 losers.

JF Apex Research said the KLCI, which rallied 17.39 points to 1,685 following a surge in the afternoon session, could test its resistance of 1,700 and attempt a new historical high.

Lafarge was the top gainer, up 10 sen to RM10 but with only 100 shares done. Tenaga continued its climb, rising nine sen to RM7.68 while Genting gained eight sen to RM10.18.

Among the financial-related stocks, HLFG added eight sen to RM15.08, CIMB seven sen to RM7.72 and AmBank five sen to RM6.64. Public Bank foreign shares rose six sen to RM16.44.

BAT, which surged on Tuesday, continued to rise with its shares price gaining eight sen to RM63.78. MISC rose five sen to RM5.42.


Asian shares mark time before banks, U.S. jobs data

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 06:09 PM PDT

TOKYO: Asian shares were effectively flat in Wednesday morning trade, cautiously marking time before key U.S. jobs data and news from central bank policy meetings in Japan and Europe later in the week.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 0.1 percent, helped by a 0.3 percent rise in Australian shares .AXJO and as the Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX neared its all-time high the previous session.

South Korean shares .KS11 opened 0.2 percent higher.

The key monthly U.S. nonfarm payrolls report on Friday will likely confirm market views that the Federal Reserve will wish to maintain its extremely accommodative monetary policy, which underpinned investor sentiment and sharpened risk appetites.

Analysts expect 200,000 jobs were added to payrolls last month and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 7.7 percent, far above the Fed's desired 6.5 percent goal that would prompt a change in its current policy stance.

Ahead of the payrolls, data on private-sector hiring by payrolls processor ADP is due later this session, followed by Thursday's latest weekly jobless claims.

Tuesday's data showed new orders for U.S. factory goods rose sharply in February but a gauge of planned business spending slipped, suggesting factory activity continued to expand at a moderate pace. Earlier this week, the Institute for Supply Management's index of national factory activity fell in March.

"We get a sense that the U.S. economy is not running ahead of itself but is growing ... a rather familiar but nonetheless solidly asset-friendly set of figures," Kit Juckes, strategist at Societe Generale, said in a note to clients.

"The 'gentle recovery and mad money' combination which has been driving markets is intact, risk is quietly 'on' in credit and stocks ... and it all contrasts dramatically with Euro-shambles."

The euro held steady around $1.2819, struggling to move far away from a four-month low of $1.2750 touched last week, as the currency remained pressured by concerns about bailout consequences in Cyprus and weak euro zone economies.

Markit's Euro zone Manufacturing PMI fell in March to 46.8 from 47.9 in February, the 20th straight month that the index has come in below the 50 mark that separates growth and contraction, boosting expectations that European Central Bank President Mario Draghi could offer a dovish tone at the ECB's policy meeting on Thursday.

Cyprus on Tuesday concluded a 10 billion euro rescue deal with international lenders in which big depositors took massive losses.

The Bank of Japan will start its two-day policy meeting later in the day, the first under the new governor Haruhiko Kuroda. Market expectations have been running high for Kuroda to announce at his inaugural policy meeting an increase in bond purchases and a lengthening in the maturities of bonds the BOJ intends to buy.

The Nikkei stock average .N225 opened up 0.9 percent after tumbling to a one-month low on Tuesday. .T

The dollar was down 0.1 percent against the yen at 93.31, but off a one-month low of 92.57 yen touched on Tuesday. The euro was down 0.1 percent against the yen at 119.63, hovering near its lowest since February 26 of 119.15 yen seen on Tuesday.

U.S. crude futures fell 0.4 percent to $96.78 a barrel. - Reuters



The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Meet Tan Twan Eng

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 02:30 AM PDT

Born in Penang and currently based in South Africa, Tan was recently awarded the prestigious Man Asian Literary Prize for his second novel, The Garden Of Evening Mists (2012), beating illustrious names like Orhan Pamuk and Jeet Thayil. The book was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for fiction last year.

His debut novel, the critically-acclaimed The Gift Of Rain (2007), was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Greek, Romanian, Czech and Serbian.

Join Tan and Star2 columnist Daphne Lee for an evening of conversation, followed by a Q&A and book-signing session, on Saturday 7.30pm, at Kinokuniya Bookstores, Suria KLCC.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

'G.I. Joe' commands box office lead with US$40.5 mil

Posted: 01 Apr 2013 11:31 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Long-delayed sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation led the North American box office in its debut weekend, earning US$40.5mil, industry figures showed Monday.

The action film about a fantasy elite military unit starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Channing Tatum and Bruce Willis is based on toy figures from the 1960s, and later turned into an animated TV series in the 1980s.

Paramount had postponed the sequel to 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra from its original June release in order to add 3D effects.

Stone-age cartoon The Croods, DreamWorks Animation's latest family crowd pleaser voiced by Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone, dropped to second spot.

The feel-good film, about a prehistoric family battling with fire and other new inventions, took US$26.7mil on its second weekend in theaters, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

New release Tyler Perry's Temptation, starring Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross and Kim Kardashian, landed in the Number Three spot with US$21.6mil.

With US$14.1mil in box office receipts, the fourth spot went to action thriller Olympus Has Fallen, a tale of terrorism in the US capital and a kidnapped president starring Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman.

In fifth was Walt Disney's 3D fantasy adventure flick Oz the Great and Powerful, which earned US$11.7mil in its fourth week in theaters.

The Host, a new action-adventure film adapted from the novel by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, made its entry in theaters by taking sixth spot with US$10.6mil.

Seventh place went to The Call, a thriller starring Halle Berry as a 911 operator trying to rescue a young girl who has been abducted. It earned US$4.9mil in its second week, for fourth spot.

Tina Fey romantic comedy Admission dropped from fifth to eight spot, taking US$3.2mil, followed by timely US vacation movie Spring Breakers with US$2.8mil.

Rounding out the top 10 was The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, a comedy about rivalry among magicians starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey, earned US$1.3mil during its third week in theaters. - AFP

Couple’s short film ‘A Stray Hero’ in international film fest

Posted: 01 Apr 2013 06:12 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: A short amateur film by a husband-and-wife duo about Pak Mie and his wife who rescue stray animals has been shortlisted for screening at an international film festival, making Malaysia the only representative from the Asean region.

Hisyam Salleh and Rahmah Ghazali's eight-minute documentary titled A Stray Hero, which recently went viral online (it has notched 105,000 views on video-sharing website Vimeo), captured the attention of Cluj Shorts International Film Festival organisers who invited the duo to submit their film in February.

To their surprise, they found out their documentary had been shortlisted together with 85 others worldwide and will be screened from April 19-20 at Cinema Victoria, Cluj-Napoca in Romania.

The shortlisted documentaries were among the 400 short films submitted to the film festival.

"We were informed through e-mail on Sunday night about this. We couldn't believe it. We didn't expect to go this far. We are happy to represent Malaysia," said Hisyam, 29, a freelance video journalist.

Their documentary is about former contractor Pak Mie or Muhd Azmi Ismail and his wife, who dedicated their lives to rescuing stray dogs and cats in Alor Setar, Kedah despite being Muslims.

The couple have rescued over 600 animals and sleep in their car parked outside their makeshift shelter to ensure the safety of the animals.

The heartwarming film had touched the hearts of Malaysians, with many rallying around Pak Mie to raise funds for his shelter.

Among those who had helped were one of The Star's radio station Red FM, which organised a Teh Tarik Party recently and Pet Project Malaysia.

Hisyam said they spent RM3,000 to make the documentary and was thankful their efforts were recognised internationally.

"We made two trips to Kedah to follow Pak Mie as he went about his daily routine as well as interviewing other people.

"We spent three days there in November last year and another four days in January," hetold The Star in an interview.

Rahmah, who is a journalist, said they would not be attending the festival due to budget constraints.

However, the couple are not resting on their laurels, and are already planning their next project.

"We will focus on Malaysian unsung heroes," Rahmah said.


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Former state Gerakan chairman Datuk Tan Gim Hwa rejoins party

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 08:42 AM PDT

GEORGE TOWN: Former state Gerakan chairman Datuk Tan Gim Hwa has rejoined the party, 14 years after his membership was terminated due to disciplinary problems, state Barisan Nasional chief Teng Chang Yeow said Tuesday.

Making the proposal for Tan to rejoin the party at the 'Majlis Himpunan Satu Hati' event to some 1,000 Gerakan division leaders and party members at the state Gerakan headquarters in Macalister Road here, Teng said Tan still had a heart for the party.

He said Tan's presence at the event showed that the former Gerakan strongman still cared for the party and its progress.

GE13: MCA report card outlines the party’s commitment towards serving the people

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 07:02 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA has unveiled a 53-point report card aimed at silencing its critics that it had failed to help address the needs of the people.

The report card outlined the party's achievements in politics, education, economy, culture and society in comparison to Pakatan Rakyat.

This included enabling Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) students to apply for the National Higher Education Corporation (PTPTN) loans since 2010, helping 1,906 people by disbursing RM10.1mil through the 1MCA Medical Foundation and objecting to PAS' hudud stand.

Others included working with the Government to allocate the use of national school reserved land especially in Selangor to build Chinese vernacular schools, objecting amendments to the Income Tax Act which was against the goal of creating a business-friendly environment and getting the Government to declare the 140-year-old Chingay procession as historical cultural heritage.

The report card noted that DAP had become PAS' accomplice to promote theocracy and hudud. It also noted that since Pakatan took over the Penang and Selangor state governments, it had never given any land of five acres for Chinese primary schools while less than 1% of Yayasan Selangor's 240 study loans were awarded to the Chinese in 2011.

In unveiling the 1,000-day report card since helming the party on March 28, 2010, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said it was time to "take stock" of their achievements.

"It is also to show that it is untrue MCA had failed to serve the people's interests, as accused by DAP that we did not do anything for Malaysians, especially the Chinese. This is a big lie," he told a press conference before the MCA report card briefing for members.

He said the triumphs listed in the report card had contributed to the 1Malaysia concept, noting that the achievements were factual with no political spinning.

Besides utilising the media, Dr Chua said the report card would also be disseminated through its vast network of leaders and its mobile vehicles.

"As a political party, we have been doing our best for Malaysians, including the Chinese. The report card is for all to see," he said, adding that all the party leaders should know the content of the report card well.

He took DAP to task for giving the impression that they were serving the people's needs when in reality they were just "touch and go" politicians.

Citing Selangor DAP exco as an example, he said they were only known for following the Mentri Besar. "Have they done any press conferences on any issue? Even if they have, they only know how to scold," he said.

He also reminded all members not to listen to rumours on candidacy as the matter had yet to be finalised.

"To date, there are no confirmed candidates. Until they get the black and white (surat watikah) from Barisan confirming their candidacy, things can still change up to the last minute," he said.

Yesterday, Dr Chua also launched the MCA mobile app, along with the party's GE13 website and Panda Bear mascot.

Malaysian advised against all but essential travel to Myanmar’s Mandalay, Bago regions

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 06:11 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: In the wake of communal violence, the Malaysian Embassy in Yangon has advised Malaysians against all but essential travel to several locations in Myanmar.

The mission posted the advisory on its Facebook account recently.

The areas are the township of Meiktila, Mahlaing, Tharzi and Wundwin in the Mandalay region and Gyobingauk, Okpho, Min Hla, Nattalin and Zegone in Bago region where the Myanmar Government has declared a state of emergency and imposed curfew from 6pm to 6am in the areas," said the advisory.

It also reminded Malaysian nationals in other areas of Myanmar to be vigilant, exercise caution and monitor local media reports for the latest development.

"Avoid all demonstrations and large gathering spots. In case of any sign of unrest, Malaysian nationals are advised to return to their accommodations immediately and remain there until the situation stabilises," it said.

On Monday, the foreign ministry in its statement said the Malaysian Embassy in Yangon was monitoring closely the highly volatile situation in certain areas in Myanmar as Malaysia was concerned over the incidents of violence against the country's Muslim population in the country's Mandalay and Bago divisions.

The ministry added, while Malaysia remained steadfast to its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other sovereign countries, it called on all parties involved in the recent incidents to refrain from taking any action, which would aggravate the situation. - Bernama


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Metro Watch

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 06:23 AM PDT


There will be a temporary lane closure involving an 80-metre stretch of the left-most lane of the Bangsar-bound side of Jalan Damansara near Muzium Negara to facilitate soil investigation works. The closure will be implemented until April 12 between 10pm and 5am. There will be no lane closure on weekends. Another partial lane closure will begin today at Jalan Kamuning, off Jalan Imbi, till April 5, involving a 170-metre stretch of the road. The closure, which is for the construction of the Pasar Rakyat MRT station, will take effect between 9am and 7pm to facilitate interlocking concrete pavement works in the area. The existing two-lane one way road will be reduced to one lane and road users are advised to be alert of the works being undertaken at the area.


Applications are open to Malaysian citizens who wish to trade at the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) Ramadan Bazaar 2013. The forms will be issued in stages and according to trading areas: April 9 for Puchong / Kinrara areas; April 10 for Serdang / Seri Kembangan areas; April 11 for Subang Jaya. The submission date is between April 12 and 19. Applicants are required to take their own form and bring their IC along. For details, call 03-8026 4324 or visit


DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd is inviting mobile application developers and designers to participate in its HACK!@DGCFC event to be held from April 5 to 7, at its DiGi's headquarters in Shah Alam. The three-day Hackathon will see the seven winning ideas from the earlier Ideation phase now being transformed into mobile applications. To participate, register at or walk in and sign up at DiGi HQ on April 5 from 4.30pm onwards.


Sau Seng Lum is organising a talk on "Enjoy Sports Without Injuries" to address the importance of prevention and physiotherapy treatment in sports injuries on April 13, from 8.30am to 1pm. It will be conducted by physiotherapists Shanti Ramasamy and Mogana Priya Hanasan at 1st Floor Shrine Hall, SS1 (Puchong) Dialysis and Stroke Rehabilitation Centre. For details, call 03-5882 9181.


Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur is holding a talk on colon cancer and screening on Apr 6 from 10.20am to 12.30pm by consultant physician and gastroenterologist Dr Thein Soo Sun. Admission is free. Refreshments will be served. For details, call Manpreet or Ros at 03-4043 7166 ext.146/222.


The St. Michael's Institution Alumni Association, Klang Valley will be paying their annual visit back to St. Michael's Institution, Ipoh on April 12. The association will donate financial aid to needy students and members can also attend the play, "The Lion King" by the school's students – tickets at RM50 per person. For details, call Wei Seong 016-2120322, Michael 019-2225660 or Helen 016-2737808.

Sabah boy Hollymax steals the show

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 06:23 AM PDT

EVEN though the recent national schools (MSSM) swimming meet was held at Darul Ehsan Aquatic Centre, Shah Alam which is thousand miles away from their home, the championships received overwhelming response from Sabahan supporters.

Although the accommodation and flight tickets cost a bomb, it did not stop them from giving moral support to swimmers from Sabah in the five-day championship.

Rosta Majikon from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, was there to support her son Hollymax Bell.

Hollymax featured in five individual events and one relay in the boys' Under-15 age-group at the recent MSSM.

Besides completing his campaign with two gold (100m and 200m backstroke), one silver (50m backstroke) and bronze (4x100m freestyle) medals, he also took part in the 50m butterfly and 200m individual medley.

Rosta said Hollymax started swimming at the age of eight due to his strong interest in the sport.

The 15-year-old Hollymax who goes to SM All Saints, Kota Kinabalu, is currently training under former National Sportsman of the Year and Olympian of the Year Alex Lim Keng Liat at Likas Sports Complex.

"He trains twice a day, six times a week. He has a hectic schedule.

"I think he has inherited the genes of his father who used to be an athlete during his younger days.

"He will go for training in the morning before going to school. In the afternoon from 4pm to 6.30pm, he will attend another training session before spending his night completing his homework," she added.

Rosta said she was very proud of her son's performance.

"I will do whatever it takes to ensure he achieves his dream. I will continue to give him the motivation to excel further.

"Besides that, I hope he can follow his older brother's footsteps and make our family proud," she said.

Hollymax's elder brother Ian Leondy of Universiti Sains Malaysia was the recipient of the sportsman award with his seven gold, one silver and bronze medals effort at the Higher Learning Institutions Games (SUKIPT) last year.


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New single from Gangnam Style's Psy

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 04:42 AM PDT

The Korean singer's long-awaited follow-up to Gangnam Style will be released in two weeks.

Psy fans in South Korea will be the first ones to hear the follow-up to the rapper's 2012 smash hit Gangnam Style.

The singer recently announced that he would be performing his new single on April 13 at his solo concert – dubbed "Happening" – in Seoul, South Korea, adding that fans in his home country would get the chance to hear the new song first before anyone else.

According to YG Entertainment, Psy will be releasing his new single on April 12 in South Korea.

"Psy expressed his wish to reveal the song first to Korean fans, who have supported him from the very beginning," said YG Entertainment. The early release will allow Korean fans who will attend the concert the next day to enjoy the song beforehand.

YG Entertainment is currently trying to find a strategic way to prevent any leak of the track internationally and online.

Meanwhile, the global release will be on April 13 at Happening, a YouTube-broadcast concert that will be held at Seoul World Cup Stadium.

Recently, Psy revealed a video on YouTube in which he stated, "My new single will release all over the world on April 13. I will be holding my Happening concert to celebrate the release of my new single." In the video, he repeats the same message in Korean and English and is seen dancing to Gangnam Shake, his rendition of the Harlem Shake. – The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

Psy's new song features 'Psy style' take on Korean dance

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 04:05 AM PDT

South Korean rapper Psy is promising a "Psy style" take on a traditional Korean dance to accompany the release next week of the highly-anticipated follow-up to his global hit "Gangnam Style".

The new single, titled Gentleman, comes out on April 12, and the 35-year-old star will promote it with a special concert the next day in the South Korean capital Seoul.

"I've been working and reworking on it continuously and I think the latest version will be the final one," Psy told a local TV news programme on Monday.

"This is another very rousing song. Its title is Gentleman. The dance is one known to all Koreans but new to foreigners. This will be presented in Psy style," he said.

After the Seoul concert, he will embark on a gruelling tour schedule of Europe and Asia in May and June.

Psy, whose real name is Park Jae-Sang, soared to global stardom after Gangnam Style -- a satire of luxurious lifestyles in an affluent Seoul district -- went viral on YouTube and topped charts worldwide.

The video, featuring his signature horse-riding dance, has clocked nearly 1. 5 billion views on the video-sharing site.

The singer has been awarded one of South Korea's highest cultural honours, the Okgwan Order of Cultural Merit, and was performed last month at the inauguration ceremony of new president Park Geun-Hye.

In his interview, Psy forecast a long and bright future for the K-pop phenomenon which has become South Korea's most high-profile cultural export in recent years.

"It will be only a matter of time before K-Pop will produce many others like Psy," he said. AFP-Relaxnews

Get Ready For British Invasion, Lawson

Posted: 01 Apr 2013 06:55 PM PDT

Petaling Jaya - The band has spawned hit singles such as Taking Over Me and Standing In The Dark from their debut album, Chapman Square. Just that information alone will spark a sense of familiarity to their ever growing fanbase here in Malaysia.

Yes, you heard it right, British boy band Lawson is hitting our shores. The quartet will be down from April 11 – 14 as their final stopover of their Asian tour.

The boys will be performing live at Stage Club, Avenue K, Kuala Lumpur at 7:00pm. Fans who want a pass to the showcase on April 13 will need to purchase the deluxe CD version of Chapman Square at Speedy and Rock Corner music retail outlets around the Klang Valley.

"We've consistently invested in bringing the brightest new talents to Malaysia as a gift to local fans," says Loan Cheong, Universal Music Malaysia's Managing Director. "Lawson is surely a band to watch, and they're eager to meet their fans here, and sample Malaysia's culture and tourist spots."

Those with passes for Lawson's concert will also get an opportunity to meet the band during the autograph session.

Fans can also win passes for the show through contests organised by, Mix FM, My FM, Era FM, Tonton, Gua, Astro Hitz, and Hot magazine.

There is also a special fan engagement contest organised by the official media partners where lucky winners will join Lawson for the Petronas Twin Towers visit and a local cuisine dinner.

For more information visit:


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